Humble Learning

I’ve had some major victories in the taste department lately. Raven Two-One was really good! A friend and neighbor said it was the best one yet. I’m glad I’m taking a lot of really good notes every time I brew so I can recreate the ones that turn out well. But… none of them have really bombed. I’ve never had one that really sucked. I’ve made batches that turned out well, but weren’t necessarily my favorite type of beer, like SouthEast Woodcreek Ale, which was like Bud Light.

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I picked this up and learned quite a lot already.

I’ve been reading this book a lot lately, and have learned a great deal! I’ve learned some ways to make my sparge more efficient and to better activate my yeast. I learned about how to tell when your mash is done and how to calculate efficiency. I learned some better ways to match up hops with malt types and and some better methods for pitching the hops during the boil.

My problem is… I’m starting to get a big head! I’ve been trying a lot of beers lately and sometimes I think aloud, “Hey, my beer is better than this!”

Well, I think that’s not fair and is probably a bad way to think. I may need a batch to really turn out lousy so I don’t get too big of a head. I think when you’re brewing, it’s good to be humble, accept a lot of constructive feedback, and remember the differences between homebrewing and professional brews.

Professional breweries have a lot of advantages. They are better prepared to control temperature, sparge rate and other essentials for brewing. They also have the advantage that they don’t have to brew on a short timeline like I do. I need to start brewing at around 7PM and finish around midnight. I really can’t brew when the kids are awake.

Homebrewers have some advantages as well, though. When the beer is ready to drink, it doesn’t get manhandled by delivery personnel. It never gets exposed to sunlight and it always stays the same temperature because it’s not being carried outside then inside then outside again and again. I’m also always drinking fresh beer. It hasn’t been sitting on a shelf in a store.

With Ironman War Brew, I made some mistakes. I was drinking and having a good time and forgot some essentials like taking a gravity reading. I learned a bunch of things I did wrong with my sparge from reading Palmer’s book. Also: I didn’t see ANY attenuation bubbles in the first few days of fermenting. Now, that’s not a deal-breaker… from everything I’ve read online and in Palmer’s book, I just need to LEAVE IT ALONE. If I could do this one again, I would change quite a bit of my process.

Learning is good! I’ve always felt that the fastest way to learn something is to screw it up. But, a good way to learn is to always seek feedback, good and bad. Always find new sources of knowledge, try new things and take good notes. I am constantly reminded of the Deming-Shewart Cycle. Constant improvement is based on planning, doing, checking and acting. Or PLAN-DO-STUDY-ACT.

Maybe I just need this one to turn out like shit so I stay humble and learn fast.

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