Keep it simple

I’m looking to keep it simple and just stick to the basic instructions and brew great beer. I think that my enthusiasm when I first started brewing caused me to add too many variables. Such as rehydrating dry yeast, using a wort chiller, using bottled spring water or distilled, steeping grains in less water and at specific temp range, and mixing starsan with distilled water, just to name a few. Not that any of these things are wrong to do but I feel like I read about first time brewers making great beer just by following the directions from the NB kits which are very basic.

Sounds like it didn’t go well with your first couple of efforts? It’s easy to over-complicate things when you’re starting. All-grain or extract? Simple recipes, like pale ales or British bitters, can be absolutely fantastic without making it more complicated than necessary.

What went wrong? Brewing simple beers is awesome.

I have the process down but I think I need to limit the amount of extra effort steps. I’ve brewed 7 or 8 extract kits and they just have not lived up to my expectations. I’m over looking something or adding an extra step that is hurting my final results. Most of my beers taste thin, body less and bitter. Almost like they are lacking in malt character. Not like hop bitterness but something that stays on the tongue. I’ve reviewed my steeping process and I don’t thinks its tannins and it happened to beers without specialty grains.

Coupe things come to mind:
Fusel alcohol
A combination of oxidation and fusel alcohol (solvent like flavor)

Also, what are you boiling in?

Tannins can be really easy to extract if you’re not paying attention to pH (even for extract brewers), especially if you messing with distilled water and not adding back salts. Dark grains can really drop the pH and don’t need steeped/mashed all that long. My advice or you on this… use your tap water. Treat it with campden to remove chlorine/chloramines (I think I remember you having medicinal off flavors before). It will provide you with brewing salts for steeping.

Just some ideas as you get reintroduced to brewing.

Those are some good suggestions. I had problems with extract brewing with my water, because (I think) the high bicarbonate level in my water messing with the kettle pH. I’m not going back to test the theory, but another idea is to steep your grains in tap water treated to remove chlorine/chloramine, but use distilled to top up when doing a partial boil. This would definitely help keep tannins from being extracted, assuming that’s the issue.

Simplifying the process is never a bad idea!

If I wanted to keep it simple and was concerned with my water, I would just buy spring water and do brew in a bag.

I only brewed 1 extract beer and it also was “thin” and UN exciting, started brewing all grain problem solved.

Yup. I was never happy with extract batches, even trying all the rules of thumb to improve extract brewing. BIAB + spring/distilled water is simple. Not all spring water is created equally, but there’s a great water primer thread on HBT that takes a straight-forward approach for dealing with it.

So I stopped in to my LHBS and picked up an extract kit and a hydrometer and test jar. Then I picked up a jug of distilled to check the calibration of the hydrometer. The distilled water was at 72 degrees the little chart on the instructions showed at 72.4 you add .002 to the reading so my hydrometer reads right on 1.000 so at the 60 it would read .998 Am I correct?

Help me out with choosing the right water source. Steeping grains should be done in what type of water? Distilled, bottled spring, tap? My tap water tastes good and doesn’t smell heavily chlorinated but I don’t have a water report or anything.

And now we’re making it complicated for you, aren’t we? :lol:

Do you have well water or city water? Assume city water has chloramine and treat with campden. Use it for steeping your grains. If well water, use as-is for steeping your grain. Top off with distilled - once you add your malt extract, you’ll have all the minerals you need as its contained in the malt extract. Or to keep it simple, use your tap water, but treat with campden if it’s city water.