Sunday, December 28, 2008

No reason to stop brewing

In this article I would like to explore the reasons we start the hobby of homebrewing and how we keep the hobby alive which ultimately leads us to more brewing knowledge and practices and consequently, better results in the quality of our beer.Most of us are motivated by a number of personal reasons when we start out making our own beer.
Some might be...

1. The idea of duplicating a favorite beer
2. The challenge to creatively express ourselves through brewing
3. Saving money
4. Impressing family and friends
5. Furthering personal knowledge of the world we live in
6. The novelty of making an alcoholic beverage

....to name a few.

No matter what our individual reasons are for beginning the hobby of homebrewing we all share a common desire, and that is to succeed in our efforts. To end up with something that is, if not an outstanding example of our favorite beverage, at least a halfway decent drinking beer that prompts us to move forward in our efforts. I'm not really sure what motivates the average homebrewer to continue with the hobby year after year but I suspect that it's the same for most as it is for me, which is best described as a passion and to stop brewing would be to let myself down. To disappointment me. I think we all have very personal reasons when we consider the the longevity of our hobby, but again I think passion is at the root.
I do have a pretty good idea why some do not continue brewing and it usually revolves around some initial failure in the first or first few attempts. A bad batch, bottles blowing up, beer related intestinal distress, just plain taste bad, etc., but what I think it really comes down to is the passion. Sometimes you just have it, but I would say to the new brewer that sometimes it takes time and many brews to develop the passion that leads to years of satisfying beers. It will be necessary to move beyond some of your brewing failures, don't let it be the cause for you to throw your hands up and look for another hobby. Growing the passion is about plowing through the bad batches and learning from them.
I am continually encouraged in my brewing endeavors whenever I come up with a good beer or bad. It gives me hope for the future and enlivens me with the prospects of future successes. I want to build on the experience and carry the feelings forward in my attempts to educate myself, design more recipes and improve on the mechanical applications.
Begin your brewing with simple styles using one type of malt extract and hops. Many times a new brewer will want to recreate a beer style that he loves but one which may be difficult for even the most experienced homebrew. Lagers in particular should be brewed after some experience. Ignore the tendency to regard a bad batch of beer as a person failure. Discard it and move on. When you brew a good batch, celebrate your achievement and share it with friends who will appreciate it. Brewing beer that you like and that is acknowledged as good by people who's opinion you trust, validates your efforts as a brewer. This in turn drives the desire to expand on the hobby by building bigger and/or better brewing equipment, challenging yourself into attempting to brew more difficult styles of beers, the courage to trust your wisdom and to pass it on to those curious about brewing.
There is nothing more rewarding for me then to see the smile appear on a friend or family members face when they take that first sip from a beer that I made with my own hands. Holding the glass up to the light to see the golden clarity as pearls of carbonation rise up to support a foamy head.
Finally, there are a couple of simple suggestions that I would like to pass on to help the new brewer continue the hobby beyond the initial excitement of the first few batches, good or bad. These few tips are often overlooked at the beginning but have a big impact on the outcome of your beer.

1. Keep to simple recipes to begin with
2. Use an abundance of healthy yeast, if the recipe calls for 1 pkg of dry yeast for 5 gals. use 2(a large yeast colony will outperform any spoiling bacteria)
3. Ferment cool (65f.-70f.) Not above 72f. (pitch yeast after wort is 72f. or below)
4. Sanitize fermenter and after boil equipment thoroughly

Can you recommend other simple tips? Let me know.

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