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I Have Lost My Brewing Mojo!

I started brewing extract kits back in 2008. I enjoyed many successful batches, I immersed myself in brewing knowledge from forums and books. I was very confident and competent, I thought…
I went to all grain, made a few brews, won some small competitions, then fell flat on my face !
I had some contaminated bottles, I had oxidation problems, I had bad recipes by me !
Bottom line, I have not brewed since Dec. of, 2012 ! and that beer sucked because I screwed up on the carbonation !

I have lost my brewing MOJO ! Please help. I have all the tools, except, I can only do a 4.5 gal. boil because of my pot size.
Maybe some chants I can repeat ? Maybe some heavy metal music to listen too ?
I prefer Allman Brothers music though…

Switch to all grain, brew in a bag, make small 3-gallon batches, and ferment only in glass. Those were the big game changers for me when I was in the same rut. Worked for me. And you don’t need to make all the changes at once… but it couldn’t hurt! Best of luck to you.

Designing Great Beers by Daniels and Radical Brewing by Mosher are also excellent reads if you haven’t already.

Feel your pain. Since last summer all of my recipes that I have been working on have just not been up to par and I have ended up having to dump a bunch. I am switching to buying pre-made kits from the brew stores and making those for a while just to get some decent drinking stuff in the house.

Great advice from Dave. Brew a tried and true recipe and focus on process.

@ Dave, I am doing A/G but only fermented in glass once. It was a lager and it was great. Thanks for the ideas. I want to get back to brewing good beer !

I’ve made a couple disappointing brews and a few of them were back to back. One of them was a Weizenbock that was disgustingly sweet (1.030 FG). I actually let it age about 6 months hoping it would come around and flavors would do something favorable and it didn’t so I just finished dumping that a few weeks ago. I had another DIPA I tried to brew (my 3rd ever extract brew) almost a year ago that I should have added another 1lb of sugar to cause it was also terribly sweet. I’m cellaring this now and hoping it will make a decent barleywine but I’m not holding my breath.

Most of my sub par brews came from recipe experimentation. While they are good lessons, they are very time consuming, costly, and disappointing lessons. They can definitely take the wind out of your sails. Nothing sucks more than spending all that time doing research and throwing together a recipe, spending the better part of a Sunday, waiting 6+ weeks only to find out your idea sucked.

This is why I would second what others are saying and stick with kits or well established recipes and make your experiments like every 3rd brew. This is what I started doing. I just brewed a self-designed recipe yesterday so here’s to hoping this one turns out good!

From the problems you’ve described (contamination, oxidation, etc.) it sounds like you may have gotten very comfortable with your process and allowed yourself to become less disciplined in execution. My advice would be to go back to the basics and ensure you are carefully executing according to best practices.

It’s hard to give you recipe design advice without seeing your recipes, but you can’t go wrong with the advice above to use established recipes. If you do tweak, do so conservatively.

I agree with KC. In addition if you do tweak recipes only try tweaking one thing at a time. If you tweak multiple things its difficult to determine what went wrong.

I, too, was in funk. Three batches of bad brews. Turns out mine was due to changing seasons and uncontrollable ambient temps in the apartment. Now that summer is upon us and I can do saisons at higher temps, I’m back on a roll of good stuff. Keep the fundamentals in mind, specifically sanitation and you’ll be fine.

Thanks for the ideas and support. I really appreciate it. I am going to go with proven recipes like, “Dead Ringer” LOL, do smaller batches in a glass fermenter, and concentrate on sanitation and the basics ! I will rise again to be a good brewer ! :stuck_out_tongue:

Your name suggests it might not be your thing but, along with the good advice above, I would recommend joining a brew club. You get the benefit of their experience (and mishaps) in troubleshooting and prevention along with getting to sample a lot more styles and techniques than trying to do it all yourself.

[quote=“kcbeersnob”]From the problems you’ve described (contamination, oxidation, etc.) it sounds like you may have gotten very comfortable with your process and allowed yourself to become less disciplined in execution. My advice would be to go back to the basics and ensure you are carefully executing according to best practices.

It’s hard to give you recipe design advice without seeing your recipes, but you can’t go wrong with the advice above to use established recipes. If you do tweak, do so conservatively.[/quote]

All the above. :cheers:

I brewed extract about 9 yrs. and got complacent with recipes, temps., and sanitation. After winning in a local comp., I was motivated to take the basic
steps seriously and enjoy the rest.

Built a 3 tier AG stand, started kegging, refined recipes, and set up a cleaning and sanitation process. All based on the advice of others.

Now its relaxed. I brew for myself, and if friends like my beer, the taps are open.

I would suggest trying a few smash beers to start back out. Pretty hard to screw those up.

I agree with Dave on most things, but not this one. My beer has gotten progressively better since I abandoned glass. Not because of that, but if glass made a positive difference, it wouldn’t have happened that way. Compared to plastic, glass is expensive, heavy, harder to store, harder to clean and DANGEROUS to work with. Stick with buckets, or use a better bottle if you feel you must see inside without popping the lid.

[quote=“mattnaik”]I’ve made a couple disappointing brews and a few of them were back to back. One of them was a Weizenbock that was disgustingly sweet (1.030 FG). I actually let it age about 6 months hoping it would come around and flavors would do something favorable and it didn’t so I just finished dumping that a few weeks ago. I had another DIPA I tried to brew (my 3rd ever extract brew) almost a year ago that I should have added another 1lb of sugar to cause it was also terribly sweet. I’m cellaring this now and hoping it will make a decent barleywine but I’m not holding my breath.

Most of my sub par brews came from recipe experimentation. While they are good lessons, they are very time consuming, costly, and disappointing lessons. They can definitely take the wind out of your sails. Nothing sucks more than spending all that time doing research and throwing together a recipe, spending the better part of a Sunday, waiting 6+ weeks only to find out your idea sucked.

This is why I would second what others are saying and stick with kits or well established recipes and make your experiments like every 3rd brew. This is what I started doing. I just brewed a self-designed recipe yesterday so here’s to hoping this one turns out good![/quote]

BREW SIMPLE…IMO no one should be brewing RIS and DIPA or whatever on their 3rd beer. I have never tasted a beer someone made (during rookie brewing) when they wanted to do some some crazy high OG, over hopped, over oaked, to many ingredients
I do not know why everyone wants to brew crazy stuff but they do and usually ruin it.

Stick to simple stuff keep your OG under 1.055 or so, hone in on your process, dont make recipes with ingredients you do not know the outcome, or test those ingredients before you use them, recipe formulation is fairly simple it needs to be kept simple to. Brewing the beer right is the tough part.

Want a challenge to hone in your process?
Take a simple recipe (SMASH)
Make it over and over again until it always tastes the same.
9lbs 2Row
2oz of one hop
US05

I can’t speak for others but the reason I did this was because these were the brews I was drinking at the time. I was into super hoppy super strong beers. That was the reason I started brewing was to make those beers. But brewing opened my eyes to the elegance of simplistic beers. I’d much rather spend my Sunday perfecting something simple than trying to make a big boozy beer.

[quote=“mattnaik”][quote=“grainbelt”]
I do not know why everyone wants to brew crazy stuff but they do and usually ruin it.
[/quote]

I can’t speak for others but the reason I did this was because these were the brews I was drinking at the time. I was into super hoppy super strong beers. That was the reason I started brewing was to make those beers. But brewing opened my eyes to the elegance of simplistic beers. I’d much rather spend my Sunday perfecting something simple than trying to make a big boozy beer.[/quote]

I know but, but you said yourself they didnt work out. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have someone give you information on all the downfalls of trying that. New brewers rarely realize the expertise/knowledge it takes to make these beers, and 99% of the time they do not work out. Most new brewers don’t realize oxygen levels, yeast pitching, attenuation, starters, fermentability, etc…
A big beer doesn’t need to have 20 different grains, 10 hops etc…
Homebrew shops and directions on kits are a huge downfall IMO. Like the 5oz sugar packets that come in kits, there is never that much beer to need all that sugar fro priming, there is no carbonation charts in kits either. Countless other flaws in directions, I remember the first kit I brewed it said to cool to under 80 degrees and pitch the yeast. I researched brewing for probably over a year before I started so I knew that was BS, but that would screw every beer up.
I have heard so much bad info coming from homebrew stores its not even funny.

Grain I kind of agree with you. Many new to AG think the more different grains the more complex. Another thing they do is tweak EVERYTHING and then ccan’t figure out what went wrong. That is why I mentioned not tweaking anything or maybe just one thing.
I get that the best way to get experience is to brew but an inexperienced brewer doesn’t realize that higher OG beers suffer from effeciency problems. So when they brewed that 1.050 OG pale ale and got 70% efficiency and on the second brew did a RIS/BW/DIPA while trying to hone their skills and system and only get 50% efficiency they are stumped.

[quote=“Loopie Beer”]Grain I kind of agree with you. Many new to AG think the more different grains the more complex. Another thing they do is tweak EVERYTHING and then ccan’t figure out what went wrong. That is why I mentioned not tweaking anything or maybe just one thing.
I get that the best way to get experience is to brew but an inexperienced brewer doesn’t realize that higher OG beers suffer from effeciency problems. So when they brewed that 1.050 OG pale ale and got 70% efficiency and on the second brew did a RIS/BW/DIPA while trying to hone their skills and system and only get 50% efficiency they are stumped.[/quote]

Yep, and not just efficiency problems countless other problems. I think a lot of people would stay in the hobby more if they are more informed, meet a lot of people that have brewed before and just didn’t stick with it because of bad results which basically came down to lack of knowledge/process.
I agree you have to brew to learn, but with anything there is a learning curve and the huge OG, IIIPA, RIS, wood aged, vanilla, cherry, smoked whatever crap and the typical homebrew I make beer mantra is horrible. I never get where that comes from.

I agree with changing nothing or only one thing. Sometimes a change isn’t needed it is just process.
If you are trying to narrow something down in the recipe or off flavor you have to change one thing at a time so you can see the result of that change, and you can only be doing this if you have basic brewing skills down or your process could change another element.

I just took some of my brewing mojo back ! I still have some bottles of previous batches in my beer cellar, because I was just to stubborn and lazy to dump out. Right ?
Well, I went to dump them all out today. I decided to taste one from my last batch. This beer is almost 2 yrs. old. It was the Dead Ringer IPA recipe that I tweaked with another pale malt and a different hop thrown in. Nothing crazy.
I poured a half pint and it was nicely carbonated, with a nice creamy head, had a nice aroma to it, so I gave it a taste. It was better than anything I have had from a couple local brewery tap rooms ! Obviously, most of the hop aroma and bitterness was gone.
It tasted pretty darn good though !
This leads me to question my water profile or my water. Maybe just too hoppy at first ?
Maybe I should question nothing and just roll with it. :cheers:

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