Monday, June 26, 2017

Is it worth it?

Today, home brewing felt a lot more like work than a hobby.  All told, my wife and I sanitized, filled, and capped 12 bombers and 73 standard 11-12 ounce bottles.  I labeled 129 bottles, and did the basic layout for six different labels. I cleaned six fermenters, a bottling bucket, a couple of lengths of tubing, several airlocks, and miscellaneous other items.  It took most of the day.  I have to ask myself "Is it worth it?"

What will come out of all this labor?

  • Good Beer: The large batch we bottled today promises to be a really good beer, which clones one of my favorites from BJ's Brewhouse. Assuming that beer turns out well, and taste tests to date have all been positive, I'll have this high gravity Belgian beer to enjoy for months to come. I'll also be able to share it with friends and family who enjoy less-hoppy beers like it.
  • Brewing Experience:  Any batch you brew gives you practice and often teaches you something. Depending on how you slice it, today I bottled either two batches - or six batches.  One batch was the clone beer above. The other was a low-gravity beer aimed at raising yeast from potentially-dead packages.  It was split across five small fermenters, in theory yielding five different beers.  Doing these required me to practice adjusting recipes to fit my equipment, brew house efficiency, and overall needs.
  • Knowledge: When the bottles from the five small batches finish conditioning, I will learn how these five yeasts affect the flavor of the beers they ferment. That will help me with future brewing endeavors.  I've also learned between the big batch and one of the small ones that Wyeast 3787 is an aggressive fermenter that should always have a blow-off tube available.  It made a mess with both airlocks.
  • Yeast:  In addition to knowledge and experience, the small batch beers were designed first and foremost to grow the yeast from four expired or nearly-expired packages.  Now there should be enough cells available to use in future brewing.  I'll be able to use this "home grown" yeast rather than having to buy new packages.
  • Teaching:  It's very likely that I'll share bottles from the "yeast revival" batch with friends who brew their own beer.  This will give them the chance to learn how the different yeasts affect beer flavor, meaning that my work will help other brewers, too.
  • Goodwill:  It's pretty common for me to share my home brews with co-workers, friends, and family members.  This all builds goodwill.  

Looking over all of this, I guess I would have to say it's been worth it to put in the effort. I'm learning, helping others to learn, enjoying and sharing good beer, and perhaps saving a bit of money on future brewing activities.

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