I still remember the first time I added yeast to my first batch of beer…

I crossed my fingers and hoped everything was done right…

Worry kicked in just a few seconds later…

When will it start fermenting? Will it taste good?

… well, you know what they say: Worry is Interest Paid on Trouble Before it Comes Due…

Most of my worries in my early brewing days were mostly because I was unprepared to meet challenges if they ever happened…

And soon, I realized that as important as it was to learn how to brew better beer, it was even more so important to learn how to troubleshoot my brews should anything go wrong…

Learn to trouble shoot before things go wrong…

When you learn how to troubleshoot your brews, you free yourself from worry… you become more confident in your brewing and most importantly…

You learn to foresee trouble and prevent it…

If you don’t know how to troubleshoot your brews, then your brews become vulnerable and it becomes easier to ruin your beer…

Sometimes, you have to act fast…

Think of boilovers…

I’ve been told to spray water, stir and other things… but the most efficient way I’ve found to deal with boilovers is to control the heat source…

I’ve even played with beers nearing boilovers and controlling them…

… but this is not about having control…

What happens if you just started boiling, you run out of propane and you don’t have a back up?

What if you can’t go get a new tank… are you just going to cool everything down?

What would be the best course of action?

It’s things like these that you need to be prepared to face… and it’s one reason why I teach things like Kräusen hopping in Better Home Brew Formula… so brewers know how to add bitterness to their beer should they find themselves in a situation like this…

It’s part of the fundamentals used when you become advanced and troubleshoot your brews…

See… Kräusen hopping is more than just a fancy hopping method…

Kräusen hopping means you take what would essentially be a yeast starter and you use that starter to extract the bitterness of your hops…

Boil it for 60 minutes, 90 minutes or however long you need to extract bitterness…

You could for all intents and purposes extract the bitterness of hops just by boiling in water… but you obviously don’t want to dilute your beer…

Now, kräusen hopping is not a troubleshooting tool and it’s not really meant to add bitterness to beer… it’s usually more for aroma… however, one thing about becoming an advanced brewer is being able to find other uses for the tools you currently have…

It’s about being creative…

… and let me give you an example…

I was brewing an all-grain recipe and had recently switched from doing continuous sparging to batch sparging…

Being that I was a little rusty and used to adding water as needed as opposed to having to be exact… I added a little too much water after I had collected my first runnings…

I knew in the back of my mind I was going to get lower gravity runnings… and I did…

… and I had to make a decision on the spot…

Do I collect all 8 gallons of wort and boil it down to 5?

Do I only collect 6.5 gallons and live with the fact I’ll have a lower gravity beer?

Well, it was late and I didn’t have time to boil 8 gallons down to five… not to mention that will increase the maillard reactions and melanoidin flavors, which I don’t really want… and it will darken up the beer…

8 gallons would also increase my efficiency, and as much as I like booze, I have to think about beer balance, and I didn’t want that much alcohol in my beer…

So I settled for collecting about 7.25 gallons of wort, and boiling harder than I normally do… I usually boil off about 1 gallon per hour…

For this brew, I boiled 1.25 in an hour and did a 90 minute boil…

Since the wort was diluted, the extra 30 minutes didn’t have much effect on either darkening up the wort, or adding too much melanoidins…

… but I didn’t just stop there…

I considered other options…

I could have simply collected 6.5 gallons and added dry malt extract to bring the gravity up…

Or if wasn’t worried about darkening up the wort or melanoidins, I could have collected 6.5 gallons and boiled the rest on a separate pot at high heat down to a syrup like consistency as if I were brewing a Scotch ale…

At the time, I found what I did to be the better choice…

The point here is not about brewing better beer… you will have good easy brewing days…

… and you will have bad brewing days… the point is that you won’t know how to make the best of a bad brewing day until you consider all your options… and that’s what learning how to troubleshoot is all about…

Cheers!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.