Brewing Efficiencies vs Strict Recipe Adherence. Please Help

Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:01 am

BN,

Here is my dilemma... I am trying to plan all of my brews for 2014. By doing this I will be able to buy in bulk, reduce surprise expenses, forecast and track cellar inventory, and build/publish a brewing schedule for the rest of the stakeholders to adhere to. (this is just a few of the benefits)

To start, I established a total budget for the ingredient cost based on how many bottles I would like to produce in a year. I then had my friend identify as many All-grain, 5 gallon, recipes as he could get for his half of that budget. We used Brewmasterswarehouse.com and manually exported the shopping cart to an Excel Spreadsheet so that I could highlight total grain and Hop amounts by type. Here is the total list of brews:

Carpet Matches The Curtains Blonde
JD Barrel Russian Imperial Stout
Smoked Amber
Arrogant Bastard Clone
chocolate coffee stout
DNR
Morning Wood
Jacks or Better Tripple
Burt's Bavarian Dunkel
New Belgium 2 Below Clone - All Grain
Strong Scotch Ale
Raw Old Ale
Smothered Hops Vanilla Porter
Black Pearl Porter
Dogwood Brewing Summer Brew
Big Red #1
Citrarillo 89 Imperial IPA
Rye Humorator

In order to increase efficiency, spotty info gathering and reduce time associated with trying to find "Correct" primary times(as some are not listed) I have chosen to go with a standard- 'Brew a batch every other week, secondary after the expected FG is reached, and bottle each 6 weeks after boil'.

Needless to say, this has raised some concern with one of my buddies who says- "What about a 4 weaker, we're going to let it sit for an extra 2 weeks?" or.. "what about an 8-10weeker? We're going to bottle it X weeks early?"

Now, I know that he has a point to a certain degree but in all reality I think done my way we may run into slightly different flavor profiles than the recipe initially intended but ultimately we should end up with good beer and appropriate carbonation.

What are your thoughts?

MACADAY in VA
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Re: Brewing Efficiencies vs Strict Recipe Adherence. Please

Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:41 am

The yeast work on their time, not yours.
IMHO, its best to give them the time they need, not the time you want them to have.
-B'Dawg
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"Lunch Meat. It's an acquired taste....." -- Mylo
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Re: Brewing Efficiencies vs Strict Recipe Adherence. Please

Sat Dec 21, 2013 1:30 pm

BDawg wrote:The yeast work on their time, not yours.
IMHO, its best to give them the time they need, not the time you want them to have.


That doesn't really help me. Can you be more specific?
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Re: Brewing Efficiencies vs Strict Recipe Adherence. Please

Sat Dec 21, 2013 2:49 pm

Welcome to the forum...wow. So how many batches do you have under your belt? From the way you talk about "Correct primary times," it doesn't seem like you have fermentation 100% figured out. Maybe it would be a good idea to brew a few times before you start planning the year out down to the nickel.
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Re: Brewing Efficiencies vs Strict Recipe Adherence. Please

Sat Dec 21, 2013 3:31 pm

JoeBeer100 wrote:Welcome to the forum...wow. So how many batches do you have under your belt? From the way you talk about "Correct primary times," it doesn't seem like you have fermentation 100% figured out. Maybe it would be a good idea to brew a few times before you start planning the year out down to the nickel.


Well JoeBeer100 Just turned me off to homebrewing...

But since you asked, are able to read the "Joined" date under my name, and avoided answering any of my question I will tell you. I've only done about 15, 5-gallon batches. This all within the last year.

That being said, I think I have a moderate understanding of the fermentation process but may lack some basic terminology given my obvious lack of time on the forums.

What exactly did you not understand about my "'Correct' Primary times"? All I really mean was brew times.

Your input is appreciated.

MACADAY
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Re: Brewing Efficiencies vs Strict Recipe Adherence. Please

Sat Dec 21, 2013 4:07 pm

Joe meant no harm, but he is correct. You can brew on a schedule... sort of. After you have 100-200+ batches under your belt, especially if you're brewing the same recipe over and over and over, you'll start to get a feel for how that specific wort works with that specific pitch & experience will also alert you to tiny little things that might throw a wrench in the works. Even then, it's not always perfectly predictable.

BD hit the screw on the head with a hammer. He also had some pretty good advice. The beer is done when it's done, not when your calendar says so. Some of those batches are going to take a few extra days, maybe even a week, maybe two. As a brewer, you don't make beer. You make yeast food. Feed your yeast, let them do their thing, clean the table & wash the dishes when they're done, not when you tell them to be done.
Lee

"Show me on this doll where the internet hurt you."

"Every zoo is a petting zoo if you man the fuck up."

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Re: Brewing Efficiencies vs Strict Recipe Adherence. Please

Sat Dec 21, 2013 4:09 pm

I'm sorry for the harsh response. Don't let a snob like me turn you off from the hobby. You may get a warmer response from folks if you went to the welcome section of the forum and introduced yourself.

To try to answer your questions...I think it's great to have a brewing schedule. I think a lot of folks do that, especially for fermenter/fermentation chamber space utilization, yeast harvesting, and, in your case, ingredient inventory. It's a bit ambitious to plan for a whole year, though. I generally plan a month or 2 in advance.

It's also a great idea to buy grains in bulk, but I usually stick to just the base grains. I have American Pale Ale malt, German Pilsner, and Munich malt in bulk at the moment. Buying the specialty grains in bulk probably wont save that much money over a year.

As for planning with fermentation time, I usually allow 2 weeks for ales, and 3-4 weeks for lagers. In general, this ensures that fermentation is finished for each type. I don't use secondary fermenters other than aging in corny kegs. Some styles are better suited for long term aging, and some are best served fresh, so it's not that every beer will follow the same schedule.

That being said, I think your buddy may be on to something, especially since you have lagers and high gravity beers on your list. To be done properly, it will be more of a dynamic than a consistent schedule. It might be worthwhile to listen to the first series of Jamil Show's where he goes into every style in the BJCP guidelines. It follows directly with his book, "Brewing Classic Styles," which I also recommend. The book and podcast give a lot of tips for each style and they will play well into how to plan for fermentation and aging times.

Hope that helps. Again, sorry for being so rude, but get used to some ribbing in this forum.
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Re: Brewing Efficiencies vs Strict Recipe Adherence. Please

Sat Dec 21, 2013 4:58 pm

Yeah, as Ozwald said, what I was trying to say is that you really can't plan out exactly how long a beer will take. You can have an idea, but in the end, the beer is ready when it is ready.

I generally agree with the rules of thumb given above, but will add some adjustments for gravity:

1) I never let any beer go less than 2 weeks in primary. Part of that is that I brew on weekends, part is from experience.
2) Below about 1.060, 2 weeks is plenty. At 1.060, I like at least 3 weeks, 1.080, 4, etc.
3) Double all those numbers for lagers.
4) Some guys skip secondary altogether. I like to use it as a bright tank, and expect no real yeast activity other than maybe some additional yeast cleaning up after themselves, (or if doing fruit beers where I add the fruit to the secondary)

Given all that, I also agree with the notion that you won't save money buying most specialty grains in bulk. For example, You need to do a hell of a lot of stouts to use up a sack of roasted barley. If you don't buy a whole sack, you won't get a price discount, so it only makes sense to order what you need when you need it (maybe in conjunction with another order to save a little on shipping, but even then, you can make a few large orders rather than 1 gigantic one, and the specialty grains will taste fresher if you order them closer to brew date).

Likewise, hops in bulk can have similar issues - would you REALLY go through a whole lb of Spalt Spalter in a year? If not, a couple oz is all you'd need for that altbier, and no more.

In short, it's good to try to figure out ahead of time what you'll brew about when, and try to buy in bulk where applicable, but, really, don't sweat it too much. Just relax, don't worry, and have a homebrew. You'll see you can enjoy the hobby a lot more if you let it be fun.

HTH-
-B'Dawg
BJCP GM2 Judge
"Lunch Meat. It's an acquired taste....." -- Mylo
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