Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Things I've Learned Brewing with The Grainfather, Part 2

In the last post, I shared an overview of The Grainfather, recommended equipment to use with it, and an overview of the brewing process.  In this installment, I'm going to talk specifically about mashing and sparging. Having brewed over a dozen batches with it, I'm finally becoming very comfortable with the device, the mash process, and how to get what I want out of it. I don't consider myself a "master" of it yet, though. For those who have never done all-grain brewing, I want to provide a quick overview of the mash process itself. Mashing - With or Without The Grainfather The goal of mashing is to turn the starches in the grain into sugars. More specifically, you want to turn the starches into a mix of fermentable and unfermentable sugars that provide the flavor profile associated with the beer you are brewing. A sweeter beer might warrant more unfermentable sugars. A more dry beer will demand few unfermentable sugars. To a great extent, controlling the

Yellow Label Angel Yeast vs. Typical Brewing Yeast

I currently have my second batch of rice wine fermenting with the "magical" yellow-label Angel Yeast from China, and wanted to share some of the more unusual aspects of using it.  If you've never seen or used this yeast, I suspect you're not alone.  It ships in a 500 gram package that looks like this: What makes it "yellow label" is that yellow box you see in the upper left corner of the package.  This implies that it's yeast for distilling (though you do not need to have a still or distill the output to use it).  As I understand it, inside the package is a mix of yeast and other materials which will convert starch into sugar and directly ferment it, without the need for a traditional mash step.  This can radically shorten your brewing time.  For my most-recent batch of rice wine, I heated 3 gallons of water to 155F, poured it over 13+ pounds of uncooked rice straight out of the bag, let that soak for an hour, rehydrated some of this yeast in warm water,

Grainfather Specifications for BeerSmith, Beer Tools Pro, and Other Software

Recently, I've been trying to "dial in" settings in BeerSmith and Beer Tools Pro so that I can do a better job getting my actual brewing results to match up to the figures in the software. Below are some of the figures I've worked out with my US Grainfather. Given manufacturing variances and possible measuring errors on my part, these might not match exactly to yours, but hopefully they're close enough that it will help you. BeerSmith Equipment Profile: Brewhouse Efficiency: 83% (based on my experience, yours may vary) Mash Tun Volume: 8 gallons Mash Tun Weight: 8.82 pounds Mash Tun Specific Heat: 0.12 Cal/gram-deg C Mash Tun Addition: 0 gallons Lauter Tun Losses: 0 gallons Top Up Water for Kettle: 0 gallons Boil Volume: 6.25 gallons Boil Time: 60 minutes Boil Off: 0.40 gallons per hour Cooling Shrinkage: 6% Loss to Trub and Chiller: 0.53 gallons Batch Volume: 5 gallons Fermenter Loss: 0.40 gallons (yours may vary) Whirlpool time: 0 minutes B