8 Ways to Simplify Brewing

My blog is inspired by the simplicity of Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau: “Our life is frittered away by detail…Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” That passage haunts me.

hdtIf you love gadgets and pumps and hoses and keezers, that’s awesome. If you love 8 hour brewdays, taking PH measurements, OG, FG, SG, that’s all good man. I love that you love it. As for me, I’m a simple man; and here, some simple tips:

1. One Vessel Brewing
I’ll start with the most controversial and the one you probably will not follow, but that’s okay. Imagine if you could get rid of your fermenters, bottling bucket, mash tun, and hot liquor tank? Quality issues aside (which this blog is exploring), you cannot argue about the simplicity of One Pot Brewing. It doesn’t get more simple.

2. Scrap the Secondary
When I came to brewing, I immediately knew this was stupid. There is no reason for it. You want clearer beer? Let it sit longer in the primary, or cold crash, or use gelatin. In fact, let’s stop calling it the “primary” fermenter. Click here for more.

3. Recipe: Use Whole Numbers
Should you put 12 oz or 1 pound of Rye Malt in your recipe? Do you really think you can taste the difference? I don’t. Apply that to hops too. (I would love to see an experiment on this, I could be wrong.)

4. Scrap the Notebook
Use a free app for your recipes. Or, once you get comfortable with a beer style, don’t even write anything down, fuck it. I can rip out an IPA with my eyes closed. It makes beer-making spontaneous and stress free.

5. Stop Measuring
I know that sounds horrible, but measuring is really just for insurance, it’s a way to reassure yourself that you did things correctly. For a long time, I never used a hydrometer. If you’re process is correct, you really don’t need to measure. Beer making is not rocket science and it’s predicable. Measuring wastes time, effort, and beer. However, I must admit, I use a hydrometer now to take a final gravity readings–just to make sure it’s done fermenting. That’s kinda smart.

6. Don’t worry about Water
If you like the taste of your tap water, you will probably like the taste of your beer. Having said that, I fully admit that using gypsum and other chemicals can have a positive affect on the beer. In other words, I am a devout follower of the Brulosopher experiments.

7. Bottle with Sugar Cubes
If you bottle, then you know that bottling can be a pain in the ass. Domino Sugar Dots make it super convenient and simple. And they are cheap. I like bottling. Kegging sounds cool, but I absolutely hate cleaning tubes, pipes, and small parts.

8. Temperature Controlled Fermentation Chamber
I’m talking about a fridge hooked up to an STC-1000 temperature controller with a cooling source (the fridge itself) and a heating source (light bulb, heating pad, or hair dryer). I actually don’t have one (yet), and the cost is a huge factor (which, I hate to say, sorta goes against my blog), and it takes times and work initially to set up; but the simplicity cannot be denied. Imagine if you could ferment, dry hop, cold crash, bottle, and carbonate all in the same place?–without having to move the beer? Other benefits: quality fermentation every time, ability to ramp up temperatures at the end of fermentation (diacetyl rest), doesn’t get in the way of household activities, ability to lager, can be located close to where I brew (garage), more sanitary environment. Basically, it’s stress-free, set it and forget it. I don’t know about you, but I’m always worrying about the temperature of my beer while it sits in the closet. Sometimes, I’ve messed with the house thermostat just to mess with the beer temperature. That’s silly. I am very much looking forward to this.

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