Drunken Speculation

Session #92 – I Made This

sessionsTime once again to tackle the Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday: a monthly opportunity for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their unique perspective on the same topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts The Session, chooses a topic, and creates a round-up that lists all of the participants.

This month’s session is hosted by Jeremy Short at Pintwell. He wants to know about homebrewing and your relationship with beer:

The idea of this session is how making something changes your relationship with it. For example, when I first started homebrewing I wasn’t a big fan of lagers. After learning to brew I realized how complex and particular lagers were and I came to love them because of that.

Jeremy gives some suggestions on how to respond by breaking respondents down into categories. Rather than take an overly intellectual route, I’m going to respond to the “For the homebrewer” questions but will note that I’m not a very good brewer, something which has been documented repeatedly on this blog.

How did homebrewing change your view of beer?

Beer went from being something I had some vague notions about, mostly relating to alcohol content, to being a slightly less mystifying beverage. The most exciting thing was discovering that the underlying science is fascinating.

exploded homebrew bottleHomebrewing got me to read a book about yeast. I’ve never shown even the remotest of interests in microbiology before – I always preferred the hard sciences – but if they’re making my beer, I want to know what they’re up to.

I might be one of a handful of people in the world who thinks that the yeast is the most interesting component of a beer. The way that the brewer creates an environment for the yeast and if one variable is different – temperature, acidity, carbonate concentration, etc – a completely different beer results, whether it be cloudy, fruity or sometimes, just sometimes, a beer that has a decidedly quaffable character. I wish I had more time to experiment with and explore this side of homebrewing.

Do you like beers now that you didn’t before?

Learning to brew has given me an appreciation for lower ABV beers. Like most beer nerds, I have a tendency towards stronger beers (probably because I’m a bit of a ticker). Then I made a corny keg’s worth of 9% double IPA. Getting through that was an absolute mission. By contrast, the previous (successful) beer was only 3.4% and I could swig three or four pints a night without ill effect. Standard strength beers (~5%) are the way to go if you’re going to have a keg of it at your disposal.

Of course, by the time I’ve gotten to the bottom of a keg, I’m glad to see the back of it. Perhaps one of my medium term goals should be to devise a beer that I actually want to make twice in a row?

Do you taste beer differently?

pitchingyeastYes because now I’m looking for faults, particularly mistakes I’ve made: acetaldehyde, overcarbonation and chlorophenols. I rarely find these faults in commercial beers but there’s usually a tang that’s not desirable in my beers. While it’s not much fun to drink a faulty beer, there’s a lesson about beer in every batch.

Does homebrewing turn you into a pretentious asshole?

No. I would’ve ventured blogging about beer was more likely to turn you into a pretentious asshole than homebrewing but all hobbies have their pretentious assholes. All of the homebrewers I know are upstanding people.

So back to the original idea of this Session: Has learning to brew changed your relationship with beer?

Learning to brew versus simply drinking beer is equivalent to serving an apprenticeship as an electrician versus turning on a light: you can enjoy the benefits but you don’t really know what’s going on until you’ve gotten your hands dirty and made it happen. And, occasionally, I like to get my hands dirty.

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