Last week I sat down to enjoy a beer that I brewed over a month back and I was very impressed, so much so that I wanted to brew it again. Through the year i re-brew a lot of old recipes, normally just tweaking the recipe and refining the beer but in this case I want to replicate the beer to be exactly as it was the first time. Using the same ingredients as before might not be enough to get exactly the same. Follow these simple suggestions and you’re be in a good place to ensure you can replicate that same beer that won first place in a beer competition or your friends went crazy for.
If you ever want to replicate any of the beers you brew you need to ensure you’re taking notes and i’m just talking about when you added specific ingredients but also mash temps, water volumes, fermentation temps etc. One of the biggest mistakes I hear of when people are trying to replicate a brew is simply relying on using the same ingredients but there are many other factors that can changes the flavour of the beer. For example, depending on the yeast you’re using even the smallest amount of temperature change through fermentation could give off different flavours from the yeast.
Another advantage of keeping a log is the amount of learning you’re going to go through especially as a beginner. I remember becoming frustrated that I couldn’t hit my original gravity target and I explained my brewing process with my friend and he highlighted that I might want to adjust my mashing schedule a little and low and behold, I was hitting my targets.
As I mentioned above being able to maintain the similar fermentation temperature is critical. I’m pretty lucky at the moment as the temperature of my house is pretty consistent but if your house isn’t as consistent there are many ways to record & regulate the temperature. The first way would be to record the temperature 3-4 times a day throughout the fermentation. Granted, that’s pretty labour intensive but another solution could be to invest in some sort of wireless temperature recorder. Once you know the desired fermentation temperature you should be able to replicate that using a bunch of different fermentation temperature control techniques.
Another solution could be to build a fermentation chamber. This is a temperature controlled space (normally a converted fridge/freezer) that will turn on the heater or chiller depending on the temperature inside. This is the least labour intensive solution but it does come at a cost.
The guys over at home brew academy have a good breakdown of fermentation chamber options if you’re interested in creating your own.
Most home brewers are regularly upgrading their equipment and most beginners forget to account for the changes in the equipment or method. A good example of this would be when changing from brewing in a bag to a 3 vessel brewing setup. When using a BIAB setup, brewers generally have to account for a much lower mash efficiency which means more grains, if you’re using the same recipe (grains) on a 3 vessel system you’re probably going to have a much higher OG than you expected, which probably means the beer will be a lot stronger than expected.
If you get any new equipment, make sure your run the tests and account for all the new changes such as mash efficiency and any other loses such as grain absorption, kettle loss etc.
I’m not going to lie to you, replicating beers can be really hard work, you only need to look at the commercial breweries and how much their beers change over time. However, implementing this tips should set you up nicely.
Whatever happens, keep having fun & keep brewing!
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