Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Precision Creep

Beer brewing is an odd hobby.

Oh, don't get me wrong, brewing beer is one of the finest activities that a man can partake of.  The final product is a good thing, liquid bread and a balm for the soul.

But here in the USA, the cult of the material has taken the simple and time-honored process some pretty strange places.  I am not speaking of the cult of stainless steel and gizmo's that cause inadvertent erections in a sizable sub-population of the brewing world.  No, I am speaking instead of the quest for precision in a biological system that is passed off as "essential for good beer".

I am brewing up a batch of Imperial Stout while I am writing this screed.  I have a four-gallon pot.  I put three gallons of water in it, turned the burner onto medium low and sat down and folded clothes and did some laundry while the temp went up.  Obviously, I keep an eye peeled on the temp, and when it hit 130, I dumped in eight pounds of grain.  I upped the burner to a quarter of the way between medium low and medium and set a timer for ten minutes.  Watched the temp rise.  Kept resetting the timer until the temp hit 150 F. and then turned the burner back down to between low and medium low.  Checked the temp every ten minutes and it is now fifty minutes later and the temp is still 148 F.

Sparging is just heating some water up and using it to suck the last of the sugars out.  This can easily be done with a teapot and pouring.

Now, the beer brewing enthusiasts will sneer at a decidedly low tech operation like this.  Not enough control they will posit.  But the truth of the matter is that if you are in the range of 145 F. to 150 F. when you convert, you will make a dandy beer that you can be proud of.

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