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I got better at this

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EtchyLives

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I started homebrewing back in 2010 when a friend introduced me to it. At the time I thought it was the coolest thing ever to brew my own beer, and it was easy enough to do, even in my apartment. My first couple beers were classic homebrew made with extract with all the typical mistakes. I did know enough to keep things clean but yeast health, fermentation temperatures, and oxygenation were all a problem for me - but I was ignorant and motivated enough to look past those problems and brew on. After a couple brews that were...meh... I got busy with work and stopped brewing for about 18 months.

We moved to a new house and I had a lot more time off as well as space to brew so I broke out my old kit, bought a burner and a bigger pot and I started brewing again. An old friend of mine commented on my Facebook post with an article from here about the lack of a need to use a secondary. I liked the discussion, the science, the flaming, and the general atmosphere of the place so I became a member. With a new knowledge base, the time to brew, and a reinvigorated spirit of experimentation and learning I started to try to improve my beer making, instead of just making kits. I studied yeast health, fermentation yeast propagation, water profiles, pH, mash temperatures, grain crush, sanitation techniques, oxygenation, and a bunch of other things. I took a measured approach to change and made small iterative adjustments of which I could measure the effects, and then read about results similar to or different from my own. temperatures,

The results were not dramatic nor immediate. With each beer I brewed I would fix one or two issues but discover many more. Additionally as I mastered certain techniques or became proficient with a certain setup I would inevitably upgrade or change something and have to deal with the second and third order effects of those changes over the next series of brews. The step from extract to all-grain, complete with my own grain mill, was huge. But so was the learning curve for setting up and maintaining a keg setup. But slowly, ever so slowly, my beer got better. I am my own worst critic and I'm constantly seeking out opinions of those who can help me improve my beer. So when my friends tell me that my beer is great I tend to dismiss then as just being nice. I remind myself that this all takes a long time and maybe some day I'll be a great brewer but that day is not today.

But the other day I was reminded of how far I've come. A younger guy I work with heard me talk about brewing and brought in some beer his dad brewed for me to try. I brought it home, chilled it, and got ready to be blown away by what was sure to be a great beer, since it was brewed by someone other than me. It was not. Too much priming sugar gave it uncontrollable head as well as a sharp and unpleasant bite. High fermentation temperatures and to little yeast and oxygen made it taste of band-aids and bananas. The malt flavors were muted, the color was too dark, and the twang from the extract was strong. In short it was a trip down memory lane and a reminder that I am getting better at this. The next day I thanked my buddy for the beer, complemented the positive points, and shut my mouth because one does not criticize free beers unless asked to. And you never talk bad about another man's dad's hobbies. (Except on the Internet where literally millions of people can read about it)

I don't relay this story to bash my buddy's dad. And this is not a humble brag either. This is a reminder to myself that this is a fun and rewarding hobby at which even I can excel. This is a reminder to all of you off the same thing. Read, learn, experiment, fail, get better. Then share beers with each other and with noobs. Also, take the time to teach if you've learned something worthwhile. I've invited my buddy and a bunch of folks from the office over for a brew clinic and to help me empty some kegs. Hopefully they learn something or find the same kind of joy I do in brewing. And hopefully I will continue to get better at this.
 

Double_D

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Good point. I have a buddy that so far I've ruined for beer and bacon. Sometimes you just need to spend some time sharing. I say sharing because people can take educating as as excuse to be dicks. Share your understanding. I think you're doing good work.
 

kadozen

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If I could go back and taste that first bottle from my first Mr. Beer 7 years back... Well, I don't know if I'd finish it. That being said, totally blown away by the fact I could make beer at home and not worry about the ATF. Super thrilling stuff.

I too decided however, that there had to be a way to make beer that was at least fairly good, not one that tasted all... weird and kinda off sweet and not at the same time.

Started out on the Mr. Beer forums and people on there kept mentioning doing 5 gallon batches. 5 GALLONS, GET RIGHT OUT! that's a lot of space for LBKs. And at the time they sold maybe 5 different kinds of hops. 5! Who can even decide what to put in out of 5.

Eventually I found my way here and was super intimidated. A lot of sciencey talk and math. Sourced a few pieces of equipment from a restaurant I worked at and bought a kit. I realized all the science that went way over my head had at least partially stuck, and the folks here at HBT always looked quick to answer a question, even if I saw them answer the same one like 30 times a day.

It's pretty much snowballed from there. I'm no expert, but I find myself able to help out the newbies here with questions, extract recipe problems, even a few tougher things here and there. I still have plenty of questions. I still get plenty of answers.

This community and the wider community of Home Brewers in general has made it mostly smooth so far. And for that I thank everyone here. Thanks for sharing your story too. If not for this stuff, I might have ended up with a job I hate and some other hobby like stamps or something, instead of looking to start Siebel ABT courses in the nearish future.

Cheers friends.
 
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EtchyLives

EtchyLives

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Eventually I found my way here and was super intimidated. A lot of sciencey talk and math. Sourced a few pieces of equipment from a restaurant I worked at and bought a kit. I realized all the science that went way over my head had at least partially stuck, and the folks here at HBT always looked quick to answer a question, even if I saw them answer the same one like 30 times a day.
This. 100% this. I still see this happening all the time. On my less charitable days I have to restrain myself from typing out "do a search, n00b! " like a million times. Because when I pause and think I remember that when I had those same questions there was already a thread near the top of an appropriate forum where some patient saint of an HBT member was explaining, again, something that I didn't know. It turns out that this place is massive and that doing a search quickly leads to information overload. So I shut my mouth (I still don't feel qualified enough to answer even basic questions on here) and go read a different thread.

But this place is great. Just great. Compared to the sport compact world where old members eat their young on a pretty regular basis this place is forum utopia.
 

kadozen

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old members eat their young on a pretty regular basis this place is forum utopia.
I'm also on the homebrewing sub on Reddit and a few members keep it pretty much the same between the 2, like oldsock and priceless, but a majority on there are redditors first and homebrewers second. HBT is a bastion of hope on the Internet.

Beer, the peacemaker.
 

Psylocide

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It gets reely easy to understand the more you do it.
 

Homercidal

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I'm always upgrading and trying new things, and so I have more to weak and improve on. But I will never completely quit trying to improve. There are new methods and styles all the time. Even when you get a process down, there are recipe tweaks to make and new recipes to try.

I'm sure that if I could taste some of my early beers I'd pour them down the drain. Now I'm only about 50% happy with my brews. But at least they're almost all drinkable!
 
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EtchyLives

EtchyLives

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It gets reely easy to understand the more you do it.
This is why I try to invite people over for brew days. Talk them through each process with a rationale as to why. I believe it will give them confidence when they decide to try it. It also gives me confidence because they pretty much become my security blanket. Symbiotic brewing relationship, yo!
 

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