I've been brewing for two years now so I'm past most doubts and worries, been there done that and I've got my processes down, but one thing I've noticed that still intrigues me is the extremely varied opinions on what is proper and what is not over time. I know overall even if one screws up big time we nearly always end up with beer. And most of the time perfectly drinkable beer. But having read a number of respected books and being on here for all this time really has me intrigued as to the changes in opinions on processes between the brewing literature and current day brewing. I will list a few of the examples I can think of off the top of my head:
1. (Original recommendation) Don't squeeze the grain bag, it will extract tannins. (Modern day recommendation) It doesn't make any difference at all. Many people doing steeping or BIAB squeeze the living Jesus out of their bags with no ill effects.
2. (Original recommendation) Fly Sparging gives the best effeciency and if you batch sparge the more sparges the better effeciency. (Modern day recommendation) It doesn't matter much at all and the efficiency difference is so minute that a single sparge is all that is necessary.
3. (Original recommendation) Do a protein rest for pilsener malt. (Modern day recommendation) Most malts today are well modified so it's not necessary unless you know for sure the malt is under modified - hence a single infusion is often all that is necessary.
4. (Original recommendation) Decoction mashing is necessary for a true German beer taste. (Modern day recommendation) So and so has done extensive tests and finds no difference in taste therefore decocting is not necessary and a waste of time.
5. (Original recommendation) For a hefeweizen a ferulic acid rest creates compounds that bring out more of the "clove" taste. (Modern day recommendation) So and so has done extensive tests and finds no difference in taste therefore it's an unnecessary step.
6. (Original recommendation) As according to the bottle label it says to use one tablet of Whirlfloc at 15 minutes near the end of boil. (Modern day recommendation) It's been written online that people have spoken with the actual manufacturer and they say one tablet is good for up to 12 gallons so only half a tablet is needed and it's most effective at the last 5 minutes of the boil.
7. (One opinion) It's not necessary to decant a one liter starter since it's only about 5% of the total volume of a 5 gallon batch therefore won't affect the taste. (Second opinion) Always decant the starter because you don't want sour oxidized starter wort in your beer.
8. (Original recommendation) Cool your priming suger solution before you add it to the beer. (Modern day recommendation) It's not necessary to cool the priming sugar solution since it's so small an amount any yeast it might immmediately contact and shock/kill is so small as to be insignificant.
9. (Original recommendation) After adding your sparge water allow ten minutes for the grain bed to set. (Modern day recommendation) Don't waste the time, vorlaufing sets the grain bed so start vorlaufing immediately.
Well, these are what I could think of off the top of my head. I'd like to state right up front I am NOT
challenging any of the recommendations either old or new. I've found and gone with my own processes and am quite happy with the beers I brew so no trouble there. I'm only creating this thread to see if anyone else has been intrigued by the large degree of difference in process opinions in this wonderful hobby/field of ours. Again, either way you are making beer, I just find it rather interesting that on one hand there are those that tout things as the "proper way" and yet there are many hardened experienced others that say, "Umm no... that isn't necessary at all".