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Old 11-25-2011, 02:20 PM   #1
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Default "the numbers"

I've been brewing since '07 and have made a pretty big range of styles (extract and AG) and have never really worried too much about the numbers side of brewing. I pay attention to temps and just watch my primary and secondary for activity, and have never had a batch fail to ferment and carbonate properly. I learned from Papazian's books and have never worried.

My philosophy: make happy yeast and great beer will follow!
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Old 11-25-2011, 02:25 PM   #2
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Uh....Ok....

*shrug*
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Old 11-25-2011, 02:29 PM   #3
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I've always treated numbers as guideline, but never really focused solely on hitting them. Even less now that I keg, I don't have to worry about exploding vessels anymore.
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Old 11-25-2011, 03:02 PM   #4
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Engrish are easy maf are hard...
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Old 11-25-2011, 04:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johngault007
I've always treated numbers as guideline, but never really focused solely on hitting them. Even less now that I keg, I don't have to worry about exploding vessels anymore.
I suppose my view of brewing is more art than science. I never found the numbers to be all that useful whether I hit them or not. The beer was always great regardless. Now that I'm making barleywines and other strong, dark ales that need cellaring for 6-12 months or more, constant measuring just seems silly. Next brew is a Flanders Red that may spend a year fermenting before it gets bottled and I can't wait to get it started!
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Old 11-25-2011, 04:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zamial
Engrish are easy maf are hard...
Love the beers in your profile! I need to get my profile updated, but the art of brewing is just more interesting to my than the science.
Happy brewing bud!
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Old 11-26-2011, 11:38 AM   #7
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I had occasion to post this quote in another thread recently:

"Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science."

- Henri Poincaré

The issue is which facts (or "numbers") are important and relevant to YOU getting the good beer you want, and which are less so. Obviously, the resulting beer is one's own, and so the results will be strictly self-inflicted, but I believe that some measurements are important enough that I go to some pains to take them.

YES.

1. Weigh out my grain bill

2. Take temperatures of my preheat, strike, and sparge water.

3. Refractometer conversion reading.

4. Refractometer preboil reading.

5. Refractometer post-boil OG reading.

6. Establish temperature of chilled wort prior to pitching.

7. Hydrometer reading of fermented beer.

NO.

1. Efficiency- of no concern to me as a homebrewer making 5 gallon batches. If I were a commercial brewer, I would absolutely be taking these measurements. As it is, if I'm hitting the correct OG- works for me.

2. Fermentation temperatures- Again, of no concern to me. I brew only ales, and my basement is in the low '60s pretty much year-round. This may be of great concern to folks in other situations.
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Old 11-26-2011, 01:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rico567 View Post
1. Efficiency- of no concern to me as a homebrewer making 5 gallon batches. If I were a commercial brewer, I would absolutely be taking these measurements. As it is, if I'm hitting the correct OG- works for me.

2. Fermentation temperatures- Again, of no concern to me. I brew only ales, and my basement is in the low '60s pretty much year-round. This may be of great concern to folks in other situations.
1. The only thing I worry about in terms of efficiency is consistency. For average gravity beers, I'm usually in the 70-73% range, which is fine by me. Higher gravity beers I tend to be slightly lower. As long as I know this to be consistent, I have no interest in increasing it, but I would worry if the "numbers" started to fluctuate too much because my beers wouldn't taste the way I expect them to.

2. For me, certain times of the year my first floor (no basement), holds a steady temp also (late fall and early spring). So right now, I can sit a bucket down and be fine. Soon though, it gets too cold, so I have to worry about fermentation temperature. Since you know the steady temp in your basement, it shouldn't be a concern at all (as with me when it is steady). I'm fairly certain though that anyone who has no idea at all where their fermentation temperatures are at is not brewing beer I would enjoy.
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Old 11-26-2011, 02:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rico567
I had occasion to post this quote in another thread recently:

"Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science."

- Henri Poincaré

The issue is which facts (or "numbers") are important and relevant to YOU getting the good beer you want, and which are less so. Obviously, the resulting beer is one's own, and so the results will be strictly self-inflicted, but I believe that some measurements are important enough that I go to some pains to take them.

YES.

1. Weigh out my grain bill

2. Take temperatures of my preheat, strike, and sparge water.

3. Refractometer conversion reading.

4. Refractometer preboil reading.

5. Refractometer post-boil OG reading.

6. Establish temperature of chilled wort prior to pitching.

7. Hydrometer reading of fermented beer.

NO.

1. Efficiency- of no concern to me as a homebrewer making 5 gallon batches. If I were a commercial brewer, I would absolutely be taking these measurements. As it is, if I'm hitting the correct OG- works for me.

2. Fermentation temperatures- Again, of no concern to me. I brew only ales, and my basement is in the low '60s pretty much year-round. This may be of great concern to folks in other situations.
Temps and weights, absolutely. And how much bittering my hop additions make as well. For instance, if I want an English barleywine I don't want the hops dominating. And if I was brewing professionally and needed precision that would change the picture. Or if I'm trying to perfect a recipe. But my love of brewing keeps me making a pretty wide variety of brews - not many repeats over the years. So I'm not knocking all numbers involved. I guess I just see some of the newbies out here who seem so concerned with readings that it sounds like they're checking every few hours and that could be intimidating to people exploring the hobby who just want to tinker around and have fun. For plenty of folks that new learning and intensity is exciting and I remember my first few batches seeming like risk and adventure as I learned the process. But nature (fermentation) always took its course whether I stood there measuring or just stayed out of the way. I spend 40-50 hours per week immersed in numbers and brewing is an escape for me. Your post is thoughtful and (obviously) thought provoking. I don't want to be in the way of anyone's enjoyment of brewing! Great beers are all a mix of science and art and there's plenty of room for all approaches out there.
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Old 11-26-2011, 03:12 PM   #10
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I preface my take by admitting that I'm pretty high on the OCD scale.

I weigh and measure everything. I designed my own batch calculator and I keep track of everything with that. I can go back and repeat a recipe exactly as it was made previously no matter what I change in terms of ingredients, volumes, brewing techniques, etc. And it makes it easy to change things to achieve whatever I want.

I also seem to change and adjust my techniques for mashing/sparging/boiling/hop additions, etc every few batches. I do this to tweak batches, increase/decrease efficiency, change fermentability or change volumes. And I also currently have three or four different ways of boiling depending on how much time I have and how much I want to make. I live in a small condo so my set-up limits how much I can boil at one time so I have found ways around this.

Also, I don't have a barley crusher. I order online and get grains crushed from several different suppliers depending on who has what I need and can get it to me when I want it. Or I go the my LHBS and crush grains there. And all of this requires me to keep good notes if I ever intend to repeat a batch.

At any rate... if I brewed exactly the same way every time, purchased my grains from the same supplier, crushed my own grains at home and never varied my technique, I probably wouldn't measure and weigh and record everything either.

But for now, I'm a numbers guy.

FWIW, I agree about the art of brewing wholeheartedly. I just mix my art with science and I like the results.
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