Beer Quotes & Wisdom

You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline-it

helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear

weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. -- Frank Zappa

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ignorance IS Bliss

Over a long, boring winter with a lot of time on my hands, and boldly leaping into the advancements of 20th century technology, I have begun to listen to some homebrewing podcasts on i-Tunes.  Specifically the podcasts from Beer Smith, the Brewing Network and Jamil Zainasheff.  I've discovered a wealth of information that I am now beginning to regret.
Up until this year, brewing has been a pleasureable experience.  I would create my brewsheets with Beer Smith and follow the instructions. 
So far I think I can safely say, I've made some pretty good beers.  I've won a ribbon in every competition I have entered. 
A 3rd in my first Indiana Brewer's Cup for a porter that I had never brewed before. The next year I not only got a blue ribbon for my sweet stout that I had never brewed before, it won Best of Show!  The following year I got another blue ribbon for my Oktoberfest Marzen, another first time beer, as well as a blue ribbon in the first round of the National Homebrew Competition for a doppelbock that too was a first time attempt.
Figuring I can't always rely on "beginner's luck" (although its worked so far), I began to listen to these podcasts.  The detail & attention to the fine points of brewing are very up front in these shows.  What's the mash temp, not just approximate temp, but exactly the temperature.  How much yeast do you pitch, how much oxygen do you aereate with, at what temperature do you pitch the yeast at & ferment at?
Well, I don't know!  I heat up the water my brewsheet says to heat it up to and throw it into the mash & let it rest.  I cool it down & throw in a package of yeast, or put the wort right onto the yeast cake af the previous beer and let it sit on the counter or in the garage.
So this past weekend, I tried to pay closer attention to the fine points of my brewing technique.  What was once a pleasurable, carefree event has become a tense, "why can't I get the mash temp to stay at 154 degrees?" and a "is this a thick yeast slurry & how do I find out what percentage is non-yeast?" kind of day.
I've always kind of joked in telling people that if you want to see how primatively you can brew award winning beer, come & watch me.  Now I'm afraid that I'm going to have to invest a small fortune in some high tech system to ease my nerves. 
Or maybe I should just stop listening to these podcasts.  After all, as the old saying goes, It's better to be lucky than good.


  1. As a science minded person - I say the more you know the better. Know what to worry about and what to not get worried about. If your mash is a few degrees off don't worry, if your ferment temp is running hot worry. In either case make a note of the temperature and taste the finished beer. Base future concern over the details on the taste of the finished product.

  2. And don't forget to "relax, don't worry, have a home brew".


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