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-   -   Thoughts on brewing w/ an expert (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/thoughts-brewing-w-expert-146345/)

zplug123 11-11-2009 06:48 PM

Thoughts on brewing w/ an expert
As a initiate homebrewer (one whole year starting today), I've just realized how hap-hazard and clumsy I've been making my first dozen batches. Not checking the O.G on that one, forgetting to sanitize the keg connections, etc. And because of that, I've probably dumped a fourth of what I brew.

But for the past month I've been skyrocketing in my technique, as I've had the unique experience of volunteering at my local brewpub, the head brewer being Kevin McNerney, co-founder of Sweetwater Brewery. So far I've helped him brew two 15.5 barrel batches, almost 80% of the remaining time being devoted to cleaning/sanitizing/transferring. All the preparation/aftermath work makes brew day seem like a walk in the park...and don't get me started on all the valves/switches on the brew system.

This impromptu tutelage has really helped nail down the basics I should never forget and also incorporate the savvy of a veteran brewer that's highly-structured and critical (I've learned brewers also swear a $#&*ing lot). If the trend of improvement continues, I'll be the talk of my HB club when I finish Saccharomyces' Imperial Honey Porter ^^

Suthrncomfrt1884 11-11-2009 07:07 PM

Brewing at a commercial level is a lot different from what I've heard. I'm looking forward to a friends boss opening his brewery in the next year or so. He's already told me he wants me to assist in brewing. He's already got a head brewer, but having me as an assistant would be great for starting a career in brewing. I'm not 100% on it yet, but he loves my beer and my creativity, so he's willing to pay me well.

Dwain 11-11-2009 07:08 PM

Good for you! Iv'e been brewing for years, but I've been thinking of volunteering part time at a place that's pretty close. - Dwain

TexLaw 11-11-2009 07:15 PM

That sounds like a great opportunity to learn a lot! Way to go!

From what I've heard from commercial brewers, it certainly is a lot different, but there's a lot to learn for a homebrewer. Sometimes, it doesn't seem so different, though, like when you hear the phrase "you fill it up until it comes up to the coat hanger."


Munsoned 11-11-2009 07:16 PM

To me, good brewing transcends the size of the operation. It requires good cleaning and sanitizing, good measuring technique, heightened attention to detail, etc. The processes may be different at the homebrew level from the pro level, but the basics should remain the same. You can't use a dirty fermentation vessel, you can't pitch yeast too hot, you must control fermentation temps, you must sanitize the vessels that hold the finished product, etc.

Sure, you won't do stuff at home exactly the way that the pros do it, but you'll get a serious appreciation for the level of detail required to brew well. I think that's awesome experience you're getting, and I'm very jealous! :)

wildwest450 11-11-2009 07:39 PM

Sweetwater IPA is one of my all time favorites.:mug:

bigjoe 11-11-2009 09:58 PM

Munsoned quote

you must control fermentation temps
I think this is an improtant topic that people talk about a lot, but isn't practiced as much as it is talked about (not refering to you specifically Munsoned). I think we get wrapped up in how fine the crush of the grain is, mash temps, boil time, etc...

When I started brewing in the mid-90's I'd stuff my carboy in the spare bathroom tub. I'd fill it up part way and never pay any attention to it after that. I watch my fermentation temps like a hawk now. I think this is the one thing that has improved my beer more than any other.

I'd be curious what a commercial brewery does for temp control on a 15.5 barrel batch.

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