As I look forward to my fall/winter brewing season, I am still not entirely happy with my brewing results. In general, my beer tends to be thinner or more watery than what I would expect. It tends to be more bitter than I would expect. It tends to be less malty and sweet than I would expect. I admit that I have never fully understood the concept of attenuation. However, I would say my beer seems more highly attenuated than I would like, and does not have the mouthfeel I would like. Whereas beers like Surly Furious, Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Arrogant Bastard, and others have a rich, almost oily mouthfeel; my beer feels thin and sharp on the tongue.
Two years ago I upgraded my brewing gear to increase my brewing efficiency (which runs around 73%). I also switched to batch sparging. Last year I decided to get more “scientific” about my brewing. I reviewed the monthly water analysis reports of my St. Paul city tap water, and made adjustments using the ezwater spreadsheet. Nonetheless, I am still not getting the results I would like.
At this point, I hope to use a process of elimination to zero in on where I can make further improvements. I would appreciate your input on the following:
I wonder if I am underpitching my yeast, especially when I make higher gravity beers. How would I know, i.e., how will underpitching affect the end product. What characteristics will underpitched beer have compared to beer that is properly pitched.
St. Paul water tends to be relatively soft, and has a relatively high ph. I adjust my water, but am not sure if I am getting it right. How will water hardness/softness affect the end product? How will high/low ph affect end product?
I also wonder if I am fermenting my beer at too high a temperature. How will a higher/lower fermentation temperature affect end product?
Ultimately, I hope to determine if any of these factors could be the cause of my problems. Your insights are appreciated.