The One Thing

What is the single most important piece of advice, knowledge, or equipment you received that has made the most significant impact on the quality of your home brew?

Best I can do is top five. No single piece. Brewing is a process of making a really really complex soup that yeast make into a drink that makes us more attractive, more smrter, and generally just way happier people :wink: :

1.) clean and sanitize really well (before I made my first batch)
2.) be patient (primarily for the yeast to do their work)
3.) brew often
4.) control fermentation temps
5.) try to stick to recipes and make boring beer before going nuts with recipe formulation. You should be able to make a really really solid APA or bitter before you start screwing around with a oak aged, free-range oyster russian imperial peanut butter stout.

+1, the only thing I would add is to stay on this forum and learn and understand what people are doing.

[quote=“Pietro”]
5.) try to stick to recipes and make boring beer before going nuts with recipe formulation. You should be able to make a really really solid APA or bitter before you start screwing around with a oak aged, free-range oyster russian imperial peanut butter stout.[/quote]

I agree with all that except #5. An oak aged, free range oyster russian imperial peanut butter stout was the first beer I made and it came out awesome!!! It was probably because I added the wings of pixies to the secondary, though.

[quote=“CCM”][quote=“Pietro”]
5.) try to stick to recipes and make boring beer before going nuts with recipe formulation. You should be able to make a really really solid APA or bitter before you start screwing around with a oak aged, free-range oyster russian imperial peanut butter stout.[/quote]

I agree with all that except #5. An oak aged, free range oyster russian imperial peanut butter stout was the first beer I made and it came out awesome!!! It was probably because I added the wings of pixies to the secondary, though.[/quote]

Was that the one you entered in the NHC? I seem to remember judging an awesome OAFRORIPBS in the Southeast Regionals.

Finding NB online and this forum was probably the thing that improved my brewing the most. Prior to that I was following sketchy advice I’d found online and outdated kit instructions. Things like the 1,2,3 method, (1 week primary, 2 weeks secondary 3 weeks bottle conditioning), pitching yeast once you were under 80°, etc. It was here too where I came across Denny’s Cheap-N-Easy® batch sparging method, up until then I’d read lots of confusing and contradicting information on fly sparging.

Use starters to pitch the appropriate amount of healthy yeast.

Best advice I could give is don’t give away all your bottles when you start kegging. A friend of mine gave away all his bottles and then when he wanted to give some as gifts, or bottle age a barleywine I, I mean He had to scramble to rebuild his inventory.

Know your water (if you’re all grain brewing).
Oxygenate your wort.
Always make a yeast starter.

For me it was yeast care. Starters, pitching rates and temp control. And by temp control I don’t even mean the chest freezer I use now. Just simply bringing it in the basement during the summer helped or bringing it upstairs in the winter or putting it in a bucket of water. Or not pitching at 80* because that was close enough. All that said the chest freezer is awesome but even those little things helped a lot!

+1

[quote=“CCM”][quote=“Pietro”]
5.) try to stick to recipes and make boring beer before going nuts with recipe formulation. You should be able to make a really really solid APA or bitter before you start screwing around with a oak aged, free-range oyster russian imperial peanut butter stout.[/quote]

I agree with all that except #5. An oak aged, free range oyster russian imperial peanut butter stout was the first beer I made and it came out awesome!!! It was probably because I added the wings of pixies to the secondary, though.[/quote]

When did you add your pixie wings? Primarily I know you add them like dry hops, but I’ve heard mixed results about adding them to the boil for helping with head retention. Also, is NB going to start carrying them, because my LHBS said demand wasn’t high enough to justify bulk purchases.

I tried to dry hop the pixie wings but had little success. I started using pixie dust during the last 20 minutes of the boil, gives it a light mouth feel. :smiley:

“Relax, dont worry, have a homebrew”

Ferment at the lower end of the yeast suggested temperature.

If you had a gun to my head, I would say taking care of your yeast is most important. Pitch the proper amount (make a starter) and keep your fermentation temps in the low-mid part of the range.

Although I don’t recall anyone giving me this advice, I would add: enjoy the process and don’t freak out if something doesn’t go the way you think it should.

Now, my experience tells me that adding some pixie wings to the mash, then dry winging them in the keg, works the best.

My favorite piece of equipment…my JSP Maltmill baby!
I also really love my brix refractometer.

Of course following Denny’s plans for my MLT was genius too… :smiley:

Although there is not really “one thing” per se, there usually is something that causes your brewing experience to plateau and then once identified it makes the hobby so much more enjoyable. Here’s two from personal experience.

For the extract brewer struggling with why his beer doesn’t similar to commercial beers: Full wort boil. For the AG brewer wondering the same: pH monitoring with emphasis on pre boil pH.

Personally, I think yeast starters are overrated… It’s good advice, but a starter is not going to be the “one thing” that will fix a poor brewing session.

I raise pixies and feed them nothing but organics and harvest only the best of a small mount wings in the morning… Not even in the same ballpark of commercial pixie wings… Mmmm. Keg fresh winging…

  • PBW to Clean/Star San to sanitize (don’t rinse). Sanitation is #1. Poor sanitation = Bad beer (always)
  • Control Fermentation temps. High temps = bad beer (usually).
  • Yeast starters/yeast health/nutrients/oxygen
  • All grain - Water matters
  • Time - give your beer time in the fermenter and don’t be in a hurry.
  • Brew often - helps with ^^^^^, and it helps to keep your equipment clean and ready.
  • Stick to recipes, rebrew beers, learn to be consistent before going crazy, change small things.
  • Read, Learn, Forums, etc.