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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: phillamb168 on June 23, 2011, 11:59:44 AM

Title: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: phillamb168 on June 23, 2011, 11:59:44 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/23/garden/home-brewing-need-a-beer-hit-the-basement.html?_r=2
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: passlaku on June 23, 2011, 01:02:29 PM
Thanks for sharing.  AHA, HBT, MB3 all got their names dropped in that article.  Good read.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: bluesman on June 23, 2011, 01:42:11 PM
Great article. Nice to see our craft in the limelight. Thank Phil.  :)
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: brewmichigan on June 23, 2011, 01:42:38 PM
Nice to see some National recognition in a positive light. Cool story.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: tygo on June 23, 2011, 03:05:02 PM
This pretty much sums up my setup:

Quote
For many people, home brewing summons visions of beat-up equipment that is stashed in a corner of a garage, dragged out only occasionally, powered by modest propane tanks normally attached to the barbecue and yielding just a few gallons. (Professional breweries measure output by the barrel — roughly 31 gallons each.)

Except for the part about being dragged out only occasionally.   ;D
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: tschmidlin on June 23, 2011, 04:01:40 PM
Quote
"We cater to the higher end of the group, the advanced home brewers,” Mr. Sulier said.
Apparently you can be an advanced homebrewer just by buying a brewmagic system.  And by implication, you're not advanced without one.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: denny on June 23, 2011, 04:08:58 PM
Maybe I won't read the article after all....sounds like I'd just get pissed off.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: tschmidlin on June 23, 2011, 04:20:17 PM
Maybe I won't read the article after all....sounds like I'd just get pissed off.
That's just part of it.  It's pretty good overall, they get a few things wrong like you'd expect from a publication where the editor knows less about the subject than the non-expert author.  But the quote from sabco is annoying.  Here is the full context:

Quote
For these dedicated hobbyists who are willing to spend money, said Mr. Glass, beer equipment manufacturers, like Sabco, of Toledo, Ohio, and More Beer, of Concord, Calif., are now making high-end commercial-grade products for home use.

“It is still the exception, not the rule,” said Mr. Glass, who is emphatically not one of the high-end hobbyists. He brews about six times a year, and does so on a Frankenstein system, an affectionate term used by home brewers to describe a mishmash of equipment that is not pretty, but gets the job done.

But the president of Sabco, Bob Sulier, believes the number of high-end brewers is growing. In the past, the company’s Brew Magic system — their $6,000 flagship — was sold primarily to professional brewers, he said, but now many are being bought by home brewers or home-brew groups. In 2010, the company sold about one Brew Magic system a day, he added.

"We cater to the higher end of the group, the advanced home brewers,” Mr. Sulier said. “For many, this is the next logical step. They are willing to drop a dollar." 

There is the implication that Gary's system "gets the job done" in that it makes beer (but not very good beer), while a Sabco makes beer as good as pros.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: hopfenundmalz on June 23, 2011, 04:24:55 PM
Other than the SABCO part, it was a pretty good read.   Homebrewing was covered in a positive way.

Others mentioned in the article were Randy Mosher and Chris Bowen (Mrbowenz on this forum IIRC).
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: a10t2 on June 23, 2011, 04:31:29 PM
There is the implication that Gary's system "gets the job done" in that it makes beer (but not very good beer), while a Sabco makes beer as good as pros.

I didn't get that out of it at all. The article is primarily about home brewers with expensive commercial-grade systems. The drop-in about "Frankenstein" brewing was there to provide the counterpoint. It's a heavy-handed and irritatingly common journalistic practice.

I think the much bigger issue here is that Gary only brews six times a year. :o
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: maxieboy on June 23, 2011, 04:34:43 PM
Maybe I won't read the article after all....sounds like I'd just get pissed off.

"To learn how to brew your favorite commercial beer, like Guinness, Bass Ale and Chimay Red, pick up a copy of “Clone Brews: Homebrew Recipes for 150 Commercial Beers,” "

  ;)   ;D

The article overall casts homebrewing in a positive light.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: bluesman on June 23, 2011, 04:44:02 PM
Maybe I won't read the article after all....sounds like I'd just get pissed off.
That's just part of it.  It's pretty good overall, they get a few things wrong like you'd expect from a publication where the editor knows less about the subject than the non-expert author.  But the quote from sabco is annoying.  Here is the full context:

Quote
For these dedicated hobbyists who are willing to spend money, said Mr. Glass, beer equipment manufacturers, like Sabco, of Toledo, Ohio, and More Beer, of Concord, Calif., are now making high-end commercial-grade products for home use.

“It is still the exception, not the rule,” said Mr. Glass, who is emphatically not one of the high-end hobbyists. He brews about six times a year, and does so on a Frankenstein system, an affectionate term used by home brewers to describe a mishmash of equipment that is not pretty, but gets the job done.

But the president of Sabco, Bob Sulier, believes the number of high-end brewers is growing. In the past, the company’s Brew Magic system — their $6,000 flagship — was sold primarily to professional brewers, he said, but now many are being bought by home brewers or home-brew groups. In 2010, the company sold about one Brew Magic system a day, he added.

"We cater to the higher end of the group, the advanced home brewers,” Mr. Sulier said. “For many, this is the next logical step. They are willing to drop a dollar."  

There is the implication that Gary's system "gets the job done" in that it makes beer (but not very good beer), while a Sabco makes beer as good as pros.

I believe that "any equipment" is only as good as the operator at best. Therefore, by simply using a Sabco system does not by default make better beer or a better brewer. It's the skills, knowledge and experience of the brewer that makes better beer. Sure...optimal equipment will help the brewer through automation but it is only a tool.

Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: betkefest on June 23, 2011, 04:46:54 PM
The author of the article could have talked to a few more home brewers with advanced DIY equipment to give a broader view of the hobby.
Also, I used to think home brewers who did primarily clones was missing the point of making their own beer.  But now I think it's a good way to practice.  By making a clone you can see if you did everything right.
I prefer to just brew a classic style for practice - but if you want to do it with Guinness go right ahead, and good luck getting the carbonation right!
Overall the article shows home brewers as good guys.  
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: denny on June 23, 2011, 04:54:12 PM
Well, I read it...I guess that according the article I'm still not an advanced homebrewer after 401 batches.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: johnholl on June 23, 2011, 04:56:14 PM
I wish I had more space to talk with more homebrewers.  But, that's one of the limitations of print.

Clearly this article was not aimed at the experienced homebrewers - those with years of experience and a proven track record of producing award winning beers. No, this was aimed to the general reader, the people who don't know much or anything about homebrewing. I wanted to give these people a chance to learn about the process and options and hopefully inspire them to join your ranks and become as passionate and knowledgable as the people on these forums.

Also, there was really no implication (on my part) that a Frankenstein system is not as good as an expensive SABCO. As someone said earlier in this thread, it's the talent of the brewer that makes good beer. I believe that.

Happy brewing, everyone.

Cheers,

John Holl
beerbriefing.com
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: bluesman on June 23, 2011, 05:03:54 PM
I wish I had more space to talk with more homebrewers.  But, that's one of the limitations of print.

Clearly this article was not aimed at the experienced homebrewers - those with years of experience and a proven track record of producing award winning beers. No, this was aimed to the general reader, the people who don't know much or anything about homebrewing. I wanted to give these people a chance to learn about the process and options and hopefully inspire them to join your ranks and become as passionate and knowledgable as the people on these forums.

Also, there was really no implication (on my part) that a Frankenstein system is not as good as an expensive SABCO. As someone said earlier in this thread, it's the talent of the brewer that makes good beer. I believe that.

Happy brewing, everyone.

Cheers,

John Holl
beerbriefing.com

Agreed.

We are artisans of a craft. The equipment is the tools of the trade utilized by artisans. Skilled artisans can produce great beer on just about any system whether it's a SABCO or a pot on a stove.

The magic in the beer is created by the artisan.  :)
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: garyg on June 23, 2011, 05:08:19 PM
How cool is that, the author of the article chimes in on the AHA Forum!

John, you weren't supposed to print that I only brew 6 times a year!   ;D  If you add in the mead I make, it is much more frequent, but due to the nature of the job, I find myself working a lot of weekends that I'd otherwise be brewing on.  I'm also hoping that once my daughter is old enough to be trained as an assistant brewer, I'll be brewing more frequently again.

Cheers!
Gary
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: denny on June 23, 2011, 05:11:48 PM
I wish I had more space to talk with more homebrewers.  But, that's one of the limitations of print.

Clearly this article was not aimed at the experienced homebrewers - those with years of experience and a proven track record of producing award winning beers. No, this was aimed to the general reader, the people who don't know much or anything about homebrewing. I wanted to give these people a chance to learn about the process and options and hopefully inspire them to join your ranks and become as passionate and knowledgable as the people on these forums.

Also, there was really no implication (on my part) that a Frankenstein system is not as good as an expensive SABCO. As someone said earlier in this thread, it's the talent of the brewer that makes good beer. I believe that.

Happy brewing, everyone.

Cheers,

John Holl
beerbriefing.com

Hi John,

Thanks for joining the discussion.  Since your article was aimed at new brewers, I'm even more mystified why you chose to focus so much on multi thousand dollar brewing systems instead of the more typical setup a new brewer might use.  I have a hard time imagining that anyone who has never brewed before would drop that kind of money on a system, not to mention the fact that without some experience those systems can be baffling to a brewer.

I truly appreciate the fact that you brought homebrewing to people who may never have considered it before and you mentioned the AHA, but I hope that if you have a chance to do another article in the future that it can be a bit more realistic.  I've done seminars about equipment and techniques for new brewers, so if you should ever need any information I'd be more than happy to help out.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: johnholl on June 23, 2011, 05:18:48 PM
Denny,
I focused on the higher-end stuff given the nature of the NYT home and garden section.
Just the way that section works.

But, I appreciate your offer for help. I'll add you to my list and hope to have a writing assignment where you can lend your voice down the road.
Cheers!

Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: tschmidlin on June 23, 2011, 05:21:49 PM
I believe that "any equipment" is only as good as the operator at best.
Agreed.

Also, there was really no implication (on my part) that a Frankenstein system is not as good as an expensive SABCO. As someone said earlier in this thread, it's the talent of the brewer that makes good beer. I believe that.
I believe you believe that, but I have a hard time reading the Sulier quote any other way.  There just isn't a clear distinction in the article drawn between the quality of beer made with any of the systems, and it may leave people believing that really good beer requires dropping $6K on a Sabco to be "advanced".  Automated may have been a better choice of words, but I get that the article was not about the different ways that people brew.

I appreciate you commenting here though, and I hope we haven't offended you.  We're not angry, we're passionate. :)

I think the much bigger issue here is that Gary only brews six times a year. :o
Clearly :)
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: denny on June 23, 2011, 05:23:00 PM
Denny,
I focused on the higher-end stuff given the nature of the NYT home and garden section.
Just the way that section works.

I've written enough articles to know that you target your audience, and I assumed that this was what you were doing, too.  Still, it irks me a bit when beginning or non brewers are given the impression that you need that stuff.  But let me assure you that I do appreciate your article and that we all appreciate the publicity.  I hope that sometime you have a chance to give the other perspective.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: sailortodd on June 23, 2011, 05:26:28 PM
Thanks for joining the discussion.  Since your article was aimed at new brewers, I'm even more mystified why you chose to focus so much on multi thousand dollar brewing systems instead of the more typical setup a new brewer might use.  I have a hard time imagining that anyone who has never brewed before would drop that kind of money on a system, not to mention the fact that without some experience those systems can be baffling to a brewer.
Meh, when the true beginner gets one of those systems, tries a batch, finds it overwhelming at his level, even with the multi-thousand dollar contraption, lets it collect dust for a while before realizing the space it's taking up would be better utilized with a table saw or tool chest, decides to sell it for a tenth of what it was originally worth, maybe I'll have enough to get the second hand gizmo. But I'm not holding my breath, and I'll continue to plan my "frankenstein" in the mean time.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: johnholl on June 23, 2011, 05:29:35 PM
Tom. Love the passion. That's one of the reasons I'm writing about beer these days.
And I appreciate that you guys let me crash the party and reply directly.
Looking forward to future discussions.

Cheers! 
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: bluesman on June 23, 2011, 05:30:58 PM
Tom. Love the passion. That's one of the reasons I'm writing about beer these days.
And I appreciate that you guys let me crash the party and reply directly.
Looking forward to future discussions.

Cheers! 

Your welcome anytime.  :)
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: tschmidlin on June 23, 2011, 05:32:00 PM
Tom. Love the passion. That's one of the reasons I'm writing about beer these days.
And I appreciate that you guys let me crash the party and reply directly.
Looking forward to future discussions.

Cheers! 
Your welcome anytime.  :)
Absolutely. :)  We can even edit your next article so it says what we want it to say. ;D
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: dbeechum on June 23, 2011, 05:34:23 PM
Oh god, just what everyone needs, an editorial war over whether or not batch sparging sucks. :)
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: bluesman on June 23, 2011, 05:39:53 PM
Oh god, just what everyone needs, an editorial war over whether or not batch sparging sucks. :)

 :D

Who left the door open...Drew's here.  ;D
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: denny on June 23, 2011, 05:40:05 PM
Oh god, just what everyone needs, an editorial war over whether or not batch sparging sucks. :)

I think the broader question is "why does fly sparging suck so much?".  ;)
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: tschmidlin on June 23, 2011, 05:43:38 PM
Oh god, just what everyone needs, an editorial war over whether or not batch sparging sucks. :)
I thought that it was for suckers, not that it sucks. ;D
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: Hokerer on June 23, 2011, 06:46:26 PM
Oh god, just what everyone needs, an editorial war over whether or not batch sparging sucks. :)

It'll be fine as long as they don't diss the peat-smoked malt
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: mrbowenz on June 24, 2011, 01:06:49 AM
I think the focus here, as evidenced by the fact that almost no "machinery " was used in any pictures ( I see no brewing systems or Sabco's in the article, other than a single fermenter)  , was to highlight the ill-guided perception some people still  have with home brewing. I believe that most folks think of the making beer at home involves a "bath tub " and unsanitary conditions to create a hit or miss product , let's face it, we have all met the person who says, "yeah my brother-in-law used to make his own beer back in college" and the bottles sometimes exploded and it was just awful stuff .

Moreover, the article demonstrates the fact that some homebrewers are quite passionate about their craft and pursue a level of silliness that is beyond what most people would ever consider as normal ( I often fall into these articles : ) ). Extremes in any subject makes for  good headlines and articles in publications, it's what sells news, keeps people interested and makes careers for writers. John did a great job with this piece, and very well researched, gathering several experienced brewer's,retailers and writer's from the field.

I see no purpose to an argument amongst us hobbyists who clearly can make world class beers on every thing from a simple cooler and a few hoses to a 2 bbl shinny home mirco-brewery. In fact, most of us who have these types of systems, have hand-built them and know every detail and design aspect, yet have learned and deeply admired the Denny Conn's of the homebrew world without a doubt, some like to keep it cheap and easy  and some ...well not so much, but that's not relevant to making beer ...is it ?  

The small niche market that Sabco sells to , is the "rich guy" with little practical commonsense and more money to burn than hours in the day, this small segment of the population , doesn't compete or really have the passion to be at this hobby for a long time, he is one who is a collector of stuff to be cool, not all, but I suspect most who buy a 6k dollar brewery may also drive a large SUV or fast sports car, Sabco knows their market and so should you.

Overall , it's just another article in a major newspaper about making beer at home ( our passion) , and not about politics ,murder or another financial crisis.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: denny on June 24, 2011, 01:11:34 AM
Overall , it's just another article in a major newspaper about making beer at home ( our passion) , and not about politics ,murder or another financial crisis.

Can I get an amen for brother Bowens?

AMEN!!!!
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: tschmidlin on June 24, 2011, 01:47:55 AM
I mostly agree, although if for some reason I became physically unable to use my system as is I would be eying a sabco or other pricey automated system rather than quit brewing.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: phillamb168 on June 24, 2011, 08:09:57 AM
The only reason I want to buy a Sabco is that I don't have the time or experience to safely build something with that level of automation myself.

That being said, I think the beers I make on my frankensystem (no bathtub needed! Except for sanitation...) are just as good as what can be made on a Sabco. It's the reproducability and control that I'm envious of.

And the stainless steel. SHINY.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: tschmidlin on June 24, 2011, 08:20:23 AM
Phil, for what you are talking about with the potential business I think a Sabco is probably a good decision, especially with the limited ability to get parts and find fabricators in your neck of the woods.  I'm not dissing them at all really, I just prefer my hands-on brewing and many people do.  But some automation would be nice when customers depend on your beer.

And seriously I have no problem with anyone brewing any way that they like to.  It just doesn't make you more of an "advanced" brewer (and I don't think you believe it does).  It's pretty much just that one quote from Sabco that irks me.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: phillamb168 on June 24, 2011, 09:17:42 AM
Phil, for what you are talking about with the potential business I think a Sabco is probably a good decision, especially with the limited ability to get parts and find fabricators in your neck of the woods.  I'm not dissing them at all really, I just prefer my hands-on brewing and many people do.  But some automation would be nice when customers depend on your beer.

And seriously I have no problem with anyone brewing any way that they like to.  It just doesn't make you more of an "advanced" brewer (and I don't think you believe it does).  It's pretty much just that one quote from Sabco that irks me.

I agree with you - however, I think the Sabco guy was just trying to push his product. Anybody worth their salt will understand that 'high-end' does not equal quality. I've seen plenty of assholes driving Ferraris, if you know what I mean.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: gordonstrong on June 24, 2011, 04:56:23 PM
I liked the article and think it's cool the author is willing to join in the banter.  Not everyone is willing to defend their work, so good on him.

I've seen a trend in higher-end dedicated brewhouses in home settings over the past few years. Nothing wrong with that. If you have the resources, it will likely result in a satisfying brewing experience once you learn how to properly use it. If I were building a system from scratch today, who knows what I'd pick? There are plenty aspects of my setup that bother me, but not enough to pitch everything and start over.

I guess the issue is that some people expect to buy a lot of high-end gear and magically create great beer.  Not gonna happen.  It's still a system that you have to learn to control.  All a new system might mean is that you might more efficiently create crappy beer. Hand a duffer Tiger Woods' clubs and he'll still be a duffer.

People can make great beer on Frankenstein or McGyver systems, as long as they know how they respond.  High-end systems might be easier to control, more automated, produce more consistent results, etc., but they won't do that on auto-pilot.  That's probably what has kept me from making big changes, is that I don't want to go through that whole system learning curve again.

A system is a means to an end.  Judge the final product.  If you have a high-end system and make great beer, that's great (and it makes a nice picture).  If you have a low-end system and make great beer, that's great too. No need for anyone to hate or feel envy.  Now, if you're not making great beer, I don't really care what kind of system you have.  It just means you've got some work to do.
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: a10t2 on June 24, 2011, 06:21:33 PM
Now, if you're not making great beer, I don't really care what kind of system you have.  It just means you've got some work to do.

Well said, Gordon. Is there a resource you'd recommend for someone who's interested in Brewing Better Beer? ;)
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: dbeechum on June 24, 2011, 06:33:46 PM
I think Gordon would recommend this book - The Everything Homebrewing Book (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1605501220/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=stoutguycom-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399369&creativeASIN=1605501220).  Lord knows I do!  ;D
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: Slowbrew on June 24, 2011, 07:16:07 PM
I'm a little late this party but I have to say that I didn't read the comments about some Advanced Home Brewers being anything derogatory.  It doesn't seem to be any worse than a golf club article that mentions the name of a certain manufacturer of clubs.  Sure the implication might be that you can only play good golf using "brand name" clubs but that's the vendor's statement.  He speaks for his business.

I don't recall hearing our systems called "Frankenstein" systems before but it's not too far off the mark.  We do spend a fairly large amount of time in hardware stores cobbling together parts of other products to brew beer with. 

Of the people who read the article. most will just "say oh that's nice" and move on.  A few will look into the hobby more deeply and learn what they need to.  I don't see why anyone would write an article for the NYT about a '72 Vega when they can write about a TT or Z3.

YMMV

Paul
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: ccarlson on June 24, 2011, 07:20:46 PM
Here's the book I'd recommend and you can review an early edition online for free:

 http://www.howtobrew.com/intro.html  (http://www.howtobrew.com/intro.html)
Title: Re: The AHA in the NYT
Post by: thirsty on June 25, 2011, 12:56:23 AM
I liked it. It's great to see any mainstream media do a positive story about homebrewing.