You felt you were a solid brewer.
I realize there’s shades of grey on this one. Also from reading, seems like even the most experienced are constantly learning.
Just wondering around which batch number it was easier to start seeing the forest for the trees.
I feel like I’m finally starting to get there - been brewing for over a year, 14 batches so far. Just made the switch to AG.
For me, these were the things that really helped our flavors and process:
1.) Temp Control for fermentation
2.) Sanitation (StarSan)
3.) Water (tap water didn’t work well for us)
4.) Stopped doing secondary fermentation. Too many risks for beginning brewers
I’ve been brewing on and off for 15 years and I still don’t know what I’m doing.
Seriously though, there’s always more to learn. But if you get a good book like Palmer’s How To Brew, follow the advice of the many knowledgeable folks on this forum, and get a few batches under your belt, you’ll be in pretty good shape almost immediately.
If this was a hobby that you could perfect, I think people would get bored and quit doing it. I equate it to creating music or playing an instrument. Can you ever perfect that?
I would say that I jumped in feet first after about 3 batches (extract) and discovered temp control, kegging, starters etc and kept doing extracts for another 6-8 months brewing at least every other week. With extract, most brew days I would do 2 batches because it was a lot faster than brewing a single batch every week (with set up and clean up).
So after 20 batches or so, I felt I really had the “process” of brewing dialed in and wanted to wait for that before I jumped into All Grain. Took 4-5 batches of AG to get that process dialed in with the changes but then I moved and my whole work space changed and I had to start over again and it took 3-4 more before I figured it out again. Not the process, but how to make it all work in my new space.
It’s hard to say. I’ve been brewing 3 years now. The last year AG. There were a number of times I thought I had it all figured out, only to be wrong later on.
I guess there is a difference between being a solid brewer and thinking you know it all, though. I think once I started making my own recipes and the beer was coming out really good was when I decided I’m fairly solid. Not as good as I’m going to be, but producing quality beers, time and time again. I’ll never know it all, but at least I’m learning more and more what I don’t know.
It took me two brews per step to really lock down the process. For example the first time I brewed ever I didnt grasp the hop addition concept and did them backwards. Centenial at 0(or what I thought meant the start of the boil) and so on. I locked the whole process down really well after about 8-10 brew days and then started honing in on the little parts after that. Of course even now after 2 years and maybe 40 ish batches, I still make oversights, mistakes, etc… But like others mention, its not something you’ll be able to perfect I think. You get to where you make good beer and fix pieces
About a month ago I had a beer on tap in my kegerator that wasn’t good at all. Had me totally doubting myself. Today, I have a Dark Winter Saison and a simple Pale Ale on tap and they are both fantastic. Have gotten compliments from several home brewers who’s opinions I value highly. So today, I feel like I’m a solid brewer. I think the feeling comes in waves.
I think I’ve added as many new wrinkles on my brain in the past few weeks learning about brewing than I have at nearly any other point (maybe with the exception of a few points in Med School).
Super impressed by all the intricacies I’ve read about, and can’t fathom how long it will take to give each practice enough to really understand what I’ve read.
The great part about learning this craft, is you get to RDWHAHB often inbetween!
I really like the guitar analogy. When you can play a few scales/chords/reasonable rendition of Stairway, do you feel as though you are a decent guitarist? Maybe…but your definition changes as you keep playing and learning new stuff.
Same goes for brewing. First batch, first AG batch, first decoction, first parti-gyle. etc. etc. etc…
If you are asking how long it took to MAKE GOOD BEER, that is also a sliding scale unfortunately! Good beer to me 3 years ago when I started brewing likely meant something very different than it does now.
I suppose thats the point though, is you constantly evolve as a brewer, and and as an ambassador, drinker, dare I say CONOISSEUR(!) of beer! You learn what you like, what you don’t like, which process flaw causes which flavor flaw, which process perfection causes which flavor perfection.
As Denny has said before, “the best beer I’ve ever made is the one I’m making next!”
Living in Charleston sc makes you a solid brewer by default.
I’ve been brewing for 16 years. AG for 14. When I lived in an area with water that was naturally good for for brewing, the beer was good. When I moved to Texas, my beer took a real step backwards until I learned some water chemistry. Now it’s more about attention to detail. Fate still humbles me every so often…
After 1 extract, 2 mini-mash and maybe 3 all-grain brews I I felt pretty confident in my grasp of the overall process. 22 batches in and I am still finding things to fine-tune. To me, that’s part of the fun.
I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing even though I’ve got close to 600 gallons under my belt.
I think the thing that has made me more of a solid brewer, is confidence and that came right around when I was able to re-create the exact same beer over and over. House recipes that I can re-produce. And being able to have the consistency. Makes a difference. At least to me.
I’m still a rookie though.
Pretty sure I think that before every brew…then I start…and am humbled. :lol:
Been brewing for 8 years, I don’t know it all…I just know what I like to make. This spring I am going to experiment with a Berliner Weisse, gotta try a sour beer, course I gotta bottle that one to ensure I can age it out and enjoy it for some time and share with friends.
If I really like it I may do other more assertive sour beers.
I learn something new each time.
Still learning a ton - actually, feel like I am learning more now than I was the first 5-10 years. I have brewed since 95(ish) . . . .So 17 years or so. I feel like the last 2-3 years I have really started to get my process together as a brewer.
I am not saying I brew perfect beer every time by any stretch, but, I feel that 80% of my beers turn out really, really good. I would say 30-40% turn out great - as good as I could go buy. I feel that the vast majority of time now when I brew I can really anticipate what the finished product is going to be, and meet that mark.
I still make beer that is not as good as I had hoped, and I even have a “dumper” now and then. I make 40-50 batches a year, and might have 1-2 that I dump . . . .not that it is horrible, but I brew a lot and I am not going to drink beer I don’t really like, when there is better beer on hand.
Becoming consistent involved a LOT of trial, and MORE error though. Lots of reading and research. It also required important upgrades -temperature control, yeast starters, quality sanitation practices, etc.
I’ve been brewing for about 9 years now, and for me, the big steps were:
All-Grain - noticeable improvement, but I also went full-boil at the same time.
Fermentation Temp Control - this is pretty crucial, I’d say essential for really good beer.
Proper yeast handling - building starters
Kegging - much less wasted beer, cleaner beer, big benefit from extended cold conditioning in the kegerator.
Water Chemistry - after brewing all grain for several years and relying on 5.2 Mash Stabilizer (garbage), I finally started getting a handle on this aspect of brewing. I think it has really made the difference between good and great beer.
Finally, I’m having lots of success with the recipes in Brewing Classic Styles.
Like others have said, keep reading. Keep pushing yourself, and don’t shy away from something that seems too complicated. At first, I didn’t intend to ever brew All-grain, but I’m sure glad I made the leap. It got me on a whole new learning path. Good luck!