When I woke up the morning, the first thing on my mind was what am I going to brew next? However, I am at a crossroad with my home brewing efforts, in other words it is time to progress to the next level. I brewed my very first batch of delicious home brew on March 12, 2011, it was an American Brown Ale brewed with a partial mash. Since then I have progressed to Full Mash or All Grain brewing.
So, here I am inventorying my home brewing accomplishments to date; below are some of the highlights in my mind:
- Partial Mash Brewing
- Full Mashing Brewing
- Built my own Mash Tun
- Built my own Wort Chiller
- Brewed a Lager Style Beer
- Brewed a Fruit Beer
- Kegging instead of bottling
- Built a Kegerator
Okay, so some of these things are not exactly brewing, but they are accomplishments related to home brewing.
What is this crossroad I am speaking of? Well, for me it is evolving my technical knowledge of Beer and more importantly brewing beer. I have begun reading the book Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels and this is helping me to learn and understand about various beer styles and the specific characteristics of each style, and most importantly how to accomplish replicating those characteristics to design my own unique beer recipe.
Again, this is very next level stuff as you have to really learn and understand things like controlling & adjusting Mash PH, using water salts, identifying specific hops to use for a particular style, the hop dosage based on the batch size to be within the proper IBU (International Bittering Units) range, how to properly calculate a particular Hops AA% (Alpha Acid Percentage) to calculate dosage rates to achieve the proper IBU target, understanding the flavor and aroma from fermentables, calculating the total malt (grain) bill to hit a target gravity (final alcohol %), achieving proper beer color for the style and finally what Yeast to pitch and the fermentation process required, including is a secondary necessary or lagering or both, etc.. etc.. etc…
In summary, here is an analogy of where I am at in my home brewing path, I am like a really good cook simply cooking a great Chef’s recipe. It is time for me to become the Chef and create my own great recipes. Again, so I can fully understand Beer and more importantly brewing it. That is just me and what I want to accomplish. However, the great thing about home brewing really good and drinkable craft beer is simply following the great recipes readily available from the Brew Masters (Beer Chefs), who have already created the right formulation of malt, hops, yeast and the process to achieve brewing the beer styles you want to enjoy.
I say to you, “Go brew your own Beer”, if you are not already. If you are brewing, congrats and remember you can keep it simple and still brew great beer at home as long as you have 3 key ingredients in your personal make-up: 1) at least be a decent cook, 2) you have to be a good steward of cleanliness and 3) you have to have some patience, just remember the virtue of “Good Things Come to Those Who Wait”; Man is that ever true when it comes to home brewed beer.
One tip for those who are not patient, in all seriousness, brewing Lagers is not for you my friend, I strongly suggest sticking with Ales only. If you do, you will love home brewing for a long time to come.
As for me, I am taking the road less traveled, so I can really get to know beer on another level. I am certain I will design and brew some pretty bad beer along the way, but we learn from our mistakes and in the end I expect to create some great beer.
Here is to the “Road less Traveled” and all the Great Beers along that road… Cheers! MashTalker
PS – I have at least identified the beer style recipe I want to design, which is an American Pale Ale. I had the Cream City Ale at the Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, WI a couples years ago. I absolutely loved this beer, so this will be my inspiration for crafting my first recipe.