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Invest in a stainless steel kettle. When you are hunting for a brew kettle you might be intrigued by low-cost aluminum pots or worse your old turkey fryer. Do not skimp and use aluminum, spend a couple of bucks and get stainless steel. I know if you do a little research everyone says that aluminum is as good as stainless steel. They even go so far as to suggest that it is better. The simple truth is that aluminum oxidizes. Yes, I know that after it oxidizes it creates aluminum oxide and that stuff is tough a hell. The simple fact is no matter how tough, some of that oxidation comes off and gets in your wort. Beer tastes better in stainless.
Do not store your beer for any length of time in plastic, even “food safe” plastic. Plastic off gasses, that means that it is always slowly breaking down and the parts that are leaving have to go somewhere. There are even circumstances where plastic breaks down faster like when heated or when subjected to solvents (like ethanol). The only plastic that you need to use in brewing are the plastic tools that you are using to clean your equipment. The worst offender in our opinion is a mashing tun made from a cooler. Have you ever tasted water that had sat in a cooler all day? Do you want beer that tastes like that?
Get them as fresh as you can. Grain gets stale, hops loose alpha acids, extract starts to taste like the can it is in, and yeast simply starts to die off. None of these make for great beer.
Know your water:
There is an old saying, “if you don’t trust your water stop brewing”. Water has a major effect on how your beer will turn out. If you are on city water you have chlorine in your water. Chlorine has the tendency to bind to other molecules and cause off flavors. This is a problem in both extract and all grain brewing. Additionally, in all grain brewing you will need to know the pH and the buffering power of your water. You can have your brew water tested at a lab and/or call your water purveyor and get a water quality report. Both of these will get you closer to understanding your water profile and help you decide how to best treat your water before brewing.
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