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Old 05-07-2008, 05:41 PM   #1
The_Scooch
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Default Over Thinking Brewing?!

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This is probably my 3rd post in this forum and I've yet to brew my first beer. The following is both a question and general opinion and I'm just curious about what others here think.

For reasons I have yet to fully understand, I recently had the epiphany to brew my own beer. I've become a beer snob over the last few years (that's what my wife says) and have spent much time educating myself about beer. A few weeks ago I decided to brew beer. I have yet to do it but I have become obsessed with the idea. I have read Palmer's book now twice, spent alot of time searcing and reading this forum, bought some equipment, fabbed some others and am still piecing together the items I want. As many of you have suggested, I'm not wasting money on things I will end up not using in the future. I'm getting the good stuff.

For the first time in a long time, I'm really excited about learning something new and (hopefully) progressing to be able to do it well. I will go ahead and admit that I am obssesive and methodical about accuracy, quality and detail. Do it right or don't do it at all.

My excitement has become infectious and now my wife is anxiously waiting for the big day. She works with all men and told them about my plans, telling them about the various items I had bought or made. A few of them chimed in about having brewed beer before (but not in a while) and said I was "over-thinking it". They went on to say that the harder I tried to make good beer, the worse it would turn out.

I can understand this point of view but then, these guys are not consistent brewers, just tried it a couple times in the past. I'm sure you can make yourself nuts trying to treat brewing as though it were synthesizing DNA... I'm not that crazy. But I don't think using a wort chiller or a pre-chiller, doing a full boil or setting up a thermostatically controlled fermentation fridge are signs of OCD.

I know some of you will say "stop waiting and just brew". Believe me, I would like to. But I simply can't do it until I feel I have the proper tools and are mentally prepared. Then it's "game on".

Meanwhile, what do you think? Do you brew for the satisfaction of making a great beer or just for the casual fun of making beer, regardless of how it turns out? Am I over-thinking it?

Thanks

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Old 05-07-2008, 05:46 PM   #2
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Doesn't sound like you're going overboard to me, you're just serious about making some good beer. Those guys probably just poured a can of goo into a pot of boiling water and called it beer. Making good beer is more complicated than that, but not THAT much more complicated. Sounds like you've done your homework. Just get your system set up, choose a simple one for your first, make a plan, and follow thru. You should end up with some good stuff.

A good first AG brew(or extract if you want to) is EdWort's Haus Pale Ale.

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Old 05-07-2008, 05:47 PM   #3
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Beer is fun to make. Beer is fun to drink. Beer that you make yourself is really fun to drink.

That about somes it up.

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Old 05-07-2008, 05:54 PM   #4
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Thing is, you can make beer simply to begin with (and real good beer), and add compexity as you go. Most of us started out with simple setups - using extract and steeping grains, simple recipes, ice baths to chill the wort, dry yeast - very easy, honestly, a lot harder to **** up that you would think.

You add stuff as you go; you start to partial mash, so you build a mash tun. You want to do full boils, so you get a burner and wort chiller. You want temperature control, so it's time for a sparge fridge and external temperature controller. You want to keg, so it's cornies and CO2 and faucets and regulators and all of that.

But still - at its core, homebrewing does NOT need to be complex. Do something simple to start, nothing overly complex, and you'll be surprised how quickly you'll climb the learning curve.

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Old 05-07-2008, 05:57 PM   #5
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sounds like you're on your way and going at your own pace

just remember...all this preparation doesn't stop the fact that you will make mistakes on your first batch

but you'll learn from them and the beer will be good anyway

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Old 05-07-2008, 06:05 PM   #6
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OK, I'll be the one to say "Stop Waiting and Just Brew!". If you've read Palmer's book twice and have some equipment already, then you are ready to do your first batch. Get an extract + steeping grain kit and go for it.

Brewing is a hands-on activity. You can read all you want, but you won't be a brewer until you actually brew something. Besides, there's nothing better than reading a book about beer while you are drinking a beer you made.

It is possible to overthink brewing (especially when it comes to sanitation). But the more you brew the more natural it will become.

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Old 05-07-2008, 06:07 PM   #7
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I'll go along with Sigmund here, as well as the "start brewing" crowd.

And, I do not want to insult you in the least, but it sounds like you have a classic case of stage fright. If you never have brewed, how will you know when you have the proper tools and are mentally prepared?

I also think you just need to get your hands dirty and brew some beer. I'm not sure what "mentally prepared" means, but it usually means you want to wait until that perfect moment when you believe you have everything under control, prepared for every contingency, have every tool, and believe you know what you are doing. You cannot do that, man. No book or other explanation can teach you how to brew. You just have to learn by doing. The books just reduce the number of surprises you will have. I know some brewers who can barely swallow their own food without a refresher course, but they are mentally prepared to brew.

I also do not know what "proper tools" means. I brewed fine beer with a four gallon stock pot, a bucket, a hydrometer, a racking cane, my kitchen spatula, and some tubing. I brewed better beer and had an easier time of it when I got more stuff, but I didn't need a wort chiller, 10 gallon kettle, temperature control, and the other dozen doo-dads I have lying around. I am very glad I have them, but I did not need them to start off.

Now, like I said, I do not mean to insult you in the least, despite my tone. In fact, I applaud your attention to preparation, and I wish more new brewers would prepare a bit more or, at least, take it upon themselves to learn a little more on their own. However, your friends make a good point. You cannot learn to fly while sitting in the nest. This is not brain surgery. You've heard your queue, and it's time to get out there and perform.


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Old 05-07-2008, 06:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Scooch View Post
Disclaimer:

Meanwhile, what do you think? Do you brew for the satisfaction of making a great beer or just for the casual fun of making beer, regardless of how it turns out? Am I over-thinking it?

Thanks
I wanted to make the best beer anyone has ever tasted, but it turned out to be one of the best hobbies I've ever taken up (and there's been many). Im still looking for the best beer, but along the way I've made some tasty beer. Take it from someone who over thinks and over analyzes everything, just do it!
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Old 05-07-2008, 06:17 PM   #9
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I was just reading an old BYO Mr Wizard answer and came upon this quote;

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Wizard
It sometimes seems like homebrewing has advanced from “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew” to “Stress out so much that only a homebrew can calm you down.”
I agree with Sigmund's statement above, this is supposed to be about fun AND beer...It combines the DIY ethic, with a little bit of geek science, and more importantly- BEER!

And like others have said...You can make it as complex as you want to...but you DON'T HAVE TO....You can sweat every detail of the process, and stare obsessively at your carboy and bottles for the entire several weeks until you crack the first one or you can shove the fermentor and the cases of filled bottles in the back of the closet until drinking time..It's your choice...

But guess what....It doesn't really matter to the yeasties either way. They know what they're doing, they've been doing it since the first airborn spore landed on some wet grain and started peeing alchohol that some caveman had the guts to take a sip of...(Was he a genuis, a fool or a bit of both?)

I guess what I'm saying is...No matter how complex you choose to approach this obsess...erm...hobby, just remember that the yeasties have already figured out how to make beer....we just sort of direct them to make it for us and most importantly...have fun!
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Old 05-07-2008, 06:17 PM   #10
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Be careful not to confuse difficulty and complexity. Making good beer is not terribly difficult, especially given the amount of information and help available. Making truly great beer and making complex beer usually come in the later stages that experience alone can bring. Of course, some folks are just gifted to do things like put together recipes. And, even the ones that are will put many recipes through refinement, and throw out some altogether.

What I am getting at, like has been mentioned, is you need to start somewhere. It is good to have a repertoire of technical information to fall back on and help on the fly, but there is no substitute for experience. If you are questioning over-thinking it, then perhaps it is time.

Also, keep in mind that over-thinking and over-educating can push you 'into the box'.

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