Ye Olde Art of screwing up lives with us modern day brewmasters. What was it today… a boilover? fermentation found its way to that village some colleagues refer to as “Stuckville”?
Oh my, oh my, when will we learn to learn from other’s mistakes?
Reason why I’m passionate about writing this weblog (AKA The Blog) is to help fellow home brewers like yourself avoid some of the mistakes I’ve already made and share some techniques that has taken me years to even notice.
That is of course, unless you are like me…
See, I spend hours and hours doing research and talking to other brewers about their technique and style. Brewing is an art and the differences can sometimes be like the difference between Van Gogh’s art style and Pablo Picasso… not that one is better than the other, it’s just different.
In brewland, the happiest place on earth, we have the same differences. I’ve seen brewers infuse their masterpiece with lavender or some other tea radiating a taste too fruity for my style. Yet, others love it!
But some things, just don’t change…
First and foremost, from the rooftop I yell out to all newbie brewers to focus on cleaning and sanitizing. Sure, hops provide us with some protection from little nasties called microorganisms, but some have evolved and grown resistant to hops. This is why I urge you to keep your Wort from spoiling and getting infected by cleaning and sanitizing.
Sometimes cleaning and sanitizing makes beer brewing seem like a chore, another item in your honey-do list, but in the end it’s worth it.
I have seen beer being brewed in the bathroom and survive, but I rather not risk it… I’m pretty picky about anything meant to be ingested.
Ok, enough of that… here’s the goodies you are looking for…
Boilovers… why they happen? As you are looking for the first bubble to break, foam starts to foam over the Wort. This foam acts like a cover and traps heat which causes the foam to rise and a mess to clean up. Not to mention the instant butt of every joke place you’ll be slotted into after the fact.
This usually happens when brewers get impatient and turn up the heat. If you can’t resist cranking up that stove, then at least be around and stir frequently. Some say to add hops, but I don’t like the idea of bittering my beer just to avoid a boilover.
Next… ruining your beer because you let the deceiving airlock tell you no fermentation was happening. If you are using a carboy, then you can usually tell whether something is going on if you see Krausen (foam) form on top of your wort. If you use plastic buckets, you kind of have to play the patience game.
All you can do is take gravity readings along the way. You’ll even notice that your airlock will stop bubbling on day 6 or 7, but continue to ferment until day 10-12.
So don’t open up the fermenter, just because you see no action in the airlock.
If you are new and want the visual, then use carboys to ferment. Buckets are easier to use (and clean) though so take your pick.
Last but certainly not least, take notes.
I don’t know why, but beginners hate looking like rookies and try to start out as black belt pro’s, but they only prolong the time they’ll spend as rookies.
They’ll want to act as if brewing was second nature to them and don’t take notes. Great brewmasters keep a log, a notepad, a diary if you will… and they write down everything they do during the process.
Now, I’m not saying that if you don’t use a notepad, you are not a great brewmaster… but, I’m just saying…
What you may not realize is that one screw up can actually turn your beer into the next Monalisa of beers… a great piece of artwork. Maybe you forgot to add bittering hops at T minus 30 minutes and did it at T minus 20 minutes. That could have made the beer better than you expected… or worse. Either way, you’ll know what you did to come up with that unique batch.
Well my friend, if you have a good I-had-to-dump-it story don’t forget to share it…
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