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Old 04-12-2010, 09:40 PM   #1
canuckmug
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Default Does any of it really matter?

I am new to the forum, and new to brewing. My first batch is only 3 days into fermenting. I have been doing a lot of reading in this form, in brewing books, and talking with brew store owners as well as a couple friends who brew. Everyone seems to know the best technique, everyone's beer is better than everyone else's beer, there are volumes of tips and tricks to get better tasting beer and lots of them contradict each other. All of this hit home and I had a revelation that I'd like your more experienced opinions on.

I make my own soap too, bath and laundry, because i don't like all the chemicals and detergents in store bought stuff and in the winter, my skin cracks and bleeds with those same store bought products. People swear by using expensive exotic oils in their soaps, but i found that I can make a better soap with oils from a grocery store. Castor oil does a better job than jojoba, shea butter, etc. The basic, unexciting ingredients in my soap, match or beat all the expensive stuff used by other soapers, but i get shouted down every time I mention it.

From what I gather from all my reading and discussing is that all the debate on yeast types, fermenting temperatures, grain types, equipment gadgets, techniques and methodologies don't really amount to much improvement over just-add-water-and-yeast extract kits. Other than for the fun of it, why do people go thru all the work, trouble and expense for their beer, if its all pretty much the same anyway? Is it pretty much the same? and be fair

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Old 04-12-2010, 09:44 PM   #2
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In all fairness, it is not the same. I think yeast has the biggest impact second only to degree of grain roast.

As far as difference in grain varietals Begian 2 row isn;t much different than British, America, or German 2 row. The difference is subletly insiginifigant. IMO.

Yeast and ferm temp. Not so much.

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Old 04-12-2010, 10:01 PM   #3
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Not sure I get the point of your rant. If that’s the way you feel, which you’re more than entitled to, why did you enter into a hobby where the end result is “all the same”?

I’m not going to argue that there are no contradictions in all the techniques but most of us have found the sometimes subtle differences in brewing techniques that produce a better end result. If you feel that it doesn’t matter what you do to produce the same result you are already approaching the hobby with a flawed perspective.

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Old 04-12-2010, 10:05 PM   #4
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canuckmug View Post
Everyone seems to know the best technique, everyone's beer is better than everyone else's beer . . .

I don't know what forum you've been reading, friend. My impression of HBT is very different - people almost never do what you're accusing them of. In fact, if you read through this forum, you'll see lots of posts, mine included, that tell people to Relax, Don't Worry, Have a Homebrew.

People come here to learn about brewing, share experiences about brewing, and hear about other people's experiences. So yeah, we talk about brewing techniques, what works for us and what didn't, etc. But there's seldom/never a condescending attitude here, in my experience.

And if you buy a good extract kit and follow the directions, you'll likely make reasonably good beer. In fact, I'd recommend that as a great way to start. Good luck!
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:08 PM   #6
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The better your palate gets, the more you appreciate differences in ingredients, techniques, etc.

Equipment - no difference in final product unless it affects temperature at an important phase of the process. There may be exceptions somebody will chime in with, but I doubt they'll be hugely important.

Yeast, hops, grain - choice very much affects flavor, aroma, mouthfeel, quality in general.

Recipe formulation - the real difference maker. Good ingredients with bad recipe = so-so beer at best.

As for the kits, there is nothing wrong with them. If you like the beer, you like the beer. Most of us like to "chef" our recipes. I can throw a frozen dinner in the microwave with the best of them, and I do like me some salisbury steak with no effort, but it isn't like a home cooked meal from scratch.

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Old 04-12-2010, 10:10 PM   #7
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Some things are universal. Fresh quality ingredients, sanitary practices and fermentation temp. Beyond that what technique you use can vary greatly and still produce quality beer.

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Old 04-12-2010, 10:10 PM   #8
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I think you have good points on either side of the argument. In the end, alot of things really just don't matter. You could do a whole slew of things wrong and you'd end up with an alcoholic beverage that'll get you drunk. What you're missing is that people do this as a hobby and they strive for perfection.

In your soap metaphor... as long as the soap cleans your body and doesn't make you bleed, you're good to go. With beer, it seems like for you, as long as it gets you drunk and tastes decent, you're good to go. People who make beer strive for much more than just an alcoholic beverage that tastes decent. If that were the case, I think they'd be buying bottom shelf discount liquor at 10 bucks per half gallon and mixing it with copious amounts of coke.

The point is that everything a brewer can do to to make their beer more perfect, they will do. Everything a brewer can do to gain that perfect balance banana/clove aroma and taste in a Weizen... they will do. If that requires 21.4 days in a primary at exactly 67.34°F, there are people who will do it. Everything a brewer can do to make their beer that much clearer... they will do. If that requires 41.2 days of cold crashing at 38.43°F after 36.47 days in a secondary after using whirlfloc in the boil and gelatin in the carboy, there are people who will do it. Everything a brewer can do to cut their 8 hour brew time another minute... they will do. If that requires building a $1000 cooling system, or spending 5 nights bending copper piping, there are people who will do it.

THAT is where all the different techniques, tips, contradictory methodologies and philosphies come from. If all you care about is getting a beverage that tastes like beer, then by all means, ignore any advice or suggestions you get from your friends, LHBS, forums and books. I'm almost positive you'd produce a beer that's pretty good. But you could also do what my friend did while stationed in Iraq.... put some old fruit, spit, and toilet water into the biggest container you can find and hide it in the closet for a few months.

In the end, you're right... it doesn't take much to make a decent beer. But to acquire perfection is a-whole-nother story. On top of that, again... this is a hobby... people do it to occupy time. They do it because it interests them. Because it fascinates them. It is constantly on their minds and if they aren't thinking about it or doing something with it all the time... well, then it wouldn't be much of a hobby now, would it?

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Old 04-12-2010, 10:10 PM   #9
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Cool, we all get to win best of show then.

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Old 04-12-2010, 10:16 PM   #10
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All the trouble and expense people go through is because this is a hobby(for most people on here). Much like gardeners know it would be easier to go to the store and buy produce rather than grow it, they still take the time to plant, water, weed, fertilize and harvest a garden. The throw yeast into a barrel and forget will probably get you 75% of the way their but you still have plenty of rooms to improve it.

Plus most people don't home brew to save money or time, they do so to make something. It will 9 times out of 10 be faster and cheaper to go to the local beer store and pick up a case. The process and ingredients you select allow you to craft your own product. Whether terrible or delicious it still is something you created. Just like techniques for gardening or any other craft, everyone has their own tips and tricks for the "best" way to do it. If you go into a hobby to do something as fast and painless as possible well then its more like a job than hobby.

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