Author Topic: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science  (Read 4815 times)

Big Monk

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Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« on: December 27, 2016, 12:04:25 PM »
In an effort to unclog many of the threads that are getting bogged down by debates of the validity of brewing science topics, here is a thread where we can debate endlessly about the minutia, why we think it matters (or don't) and how to strike a balance between demands of objectivity and the necessity of subjectivity in sensory analysis.

I just wrote a response in another thread and I'll post it here to kick things off:

Which is totally cool, doesn't stop what they do though. I would also be interested in the data to back up the 99% similarity as well.

No reason why they should care what I do.  The data is my taste buds.  Beyond that, I have nothing to prove.
I wonder how prolific the idea of "must scientifically prove everything" actually is in the hobby of home brewing. I suspect it's a very tiny portion and if people think it's wide spread maybe that's because their sources are so narrow.

IF(empirical data = info from brewing science, TRUE, FALSE)

I don't think it's a matter of anyone demanding scientific proof of anything but rather a bit of recognition to the fact that if your empirically derived brewing data mirrors the expected outcomes from known sources of hard brewing science then it's true.

« Last Edit: December 27, 2016, 12:08:32 PM by Big Monk »

Offline narvin

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2016, 02:02:02 PM »
I think the idea behind citizen science IS to test things empirically, but with homebrew parameters.  The controlled lab experiment that can reveal something important about yeast may also be completely inapplicable to a 5 gallon batch of beer.  At the same time, without tightly controlled parameters, what one homebrewer does may also not be reproducible by another.  So it's less "science" in the true sense of the scientific method, but more of a practical application of scientific thinking.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2016, 02:05:26 PM by narvin »
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Big Monk

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2016, 02:19:52 PM »
I think the idea behind citizen science IS to test things empirically, but with homebrew parameters.  The controlled lab experiment that can reveal something important about yeastay also be completely inapplicable to a 5 gallon batch of beer.  At the same time, without tightly controlled parameters, what one homebrewer does may also not be reproducible by another.  So it's less "science" in the true sense of the scientific method, but more of a practical application of scientific thinking.

I agree with you and that's kind of the point. Careful application of the word science prevents confusion. Some "experiments" being conducted in the homebrew world don't really show anything conclusive yet are touted as doing so or being revelatory.

Two examples of citizen science done right and done wrong are:

1.) The RIGHT - an experiment testing whether a certain method can save time and give the same benefit. As an example: an experiment that tests if a 60 minute Boil can suffice in place of a 90 minute Boil and not impact flavor in a negative way. Here all things are equal except the time required to perform the steps. If the results are indistinguishable from a flavor standpoint then people can save 30 minutes. That's a big win for citizen science.

2.) The WRONG - the HSA experiments at Brulosophy. Here they are testing beers that are both oxidized. The stipulation that one is more "highly" oxidized is irrelevant because they are both subjected to oxidation beyond a certain threshold. A true test here would be say, a Low Oxygen pale ale, and a "normal" pale ale. Here the differences in color, hop flavor, etc. would be drastically different.

In short, using citizen science as a way to determine whether small changes in process and recipe yield noticeable results is important I think. Why waste time on something if you don't have to?

On the other hand, as the gap between the beers being evaluated widens, subjectivity needs to be applied. If two beers are compared and are apples and oranges, you need to use common sense and say, "Something is going on here" and dig into the hard science and find out why.

Offline troybinso

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2016, 03:31:17 PM »
2.) The WRONG - the HSA experiments at Brulosophy. Here they are testing beers that are both oxidized. The stipulation that one is more "highly" oxidized is irrelevant because they are both subjected to oxidation beyond a certain threshold.

What is the threshold for oxidation preboil?

Offline bboy9000

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2016, 03:39:16 PM »
^This pretty much sums it up.  I do want to point out even experiments in the scientific community aren't always conclusive and raise more questions than answers and often cause heated debate in the scientific community.  Scientists are often rejecting hypotheses but use those results to generate more hypotheses and raise more questions.

Yes, "citizen science" can be just as valid as "brewing science" as long as the citizen scientist recognizes the inability to strictly control all variables isn't always possible and can affect the outcome of the experiment.  Just note it as a limitation of the experiment and suggest future remedies and questions and don't view the results as a definitive answer.  I think Denny and Drew's do this in their Experimental Brewing podcast.

This raises another question.  Should home-brewers be concerned with scientific literature from the pro brewing industry regarding brewing chemistry?   In general, I think the answer is no.  Most home-brewers have more basic things to focus on to improve their beer.  For a more experienced home-brewer, yes they may want to focus on the scientific literature.  Of course, this depends on the goals of the brewer.  If the brewer goes through the beer quickly or doesn't care about competitions or wants to make the best beer with the least amount of expense and effort and have fun at the same time the. The answer is still "No."  If the home-brewer has all of the basics down, is making great beer and has a goal of going pro then the answer is "yes" consider the brewing science.

Brian
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Big Monk

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2016, 03:42:42 PM »
2.) The WRONG - the HSA experiments at Brulosophy. Here they are testing beers that are both oxidized. The stipulation that one is more "highly" oxidized is irrelevant because they are both subjected to oxidation beyond a certain threshold.

What is the threshold for oxidation preboil?

< 1 ppm on the entire hot side with a "stretch goal" of <= 0.5 ppm

Big Monk

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2016, 03:54:48 PM »
Should home-brewers be concerned with scientific literature from the pro brewing industry regarding brewing chemistry?   In general, I think the answer is no. Most home-brewers have more basic things to focus on to improve their beer.

I'll admit to bringing up some more involved concepts in threads where it doesn't belong, especially where beginning brewers are involved. Intermediate to advanced brewers should take in all sources on brewing science though. It all applies at every scale. You may need to tweak it to be applicable but the concepts are scale invariant.

 
If the brewer goes through the beer quickly or doesn't care about competitions or wants to make the best beer with the least amount of expense and effort and have fun at the same time then the answer is still "No." 

I push back on this because applying advanced concepts won't take any of the fun out of brewing. Yes, it may add some equipment costs (upgrades, automation, etc.) and it may take an incremental increase in effort to accommodate, but it shouldn't be inherently less fun.

 
If the home-brewer has all of the basics down, is making great beer and has a goal of going pro then the answer is "yes" consider the brewing science.

You can make professional quality beer in your home and never have any aspirations to "go pro". Reviewing professional literature, texts, etc. doesn't immediately translate to have professional aspirations.

Offline denny

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2016, 04:06:53 PM »
I think the idea behind citizen science IS to test things empirically, but with homebrew parameters.  The controlled lab experiment that can reveal something important about yeast may also be completely inapplicable to a 5 gallon batch of beer.  At the same time, without tightly controlled parameters, what one homebrewer does may also not be reproducible by another.  So it's less "science" in the true sense of the scientific method, but more of a practical application of scientific thinking.

This os the way I see it.  After all, I'm making beer at home for a hobby.  What I care about is what really applies to me, not commercial breweries.  Sometimes those will be the same, sometimes they won't.  As I often say, I'm not tryg to cure cancer.  I'm making beer for fun at home.  Different standards, different goals.
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Offline denny

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2016, 04:12:03 PM »
Should home-brewers be concerned with scientific literature from the pro brewing industry regarding brewing chemistry?   In general, I think the answer is no. Most home-brewers have more basic things to focus on to improve their beer.

I'll admit to bringing up some more involved concepts in threads where it doesn't belong, especially where beginning brewers are involved. Intermediate to advanced brewers should take in all sources on brewing science though. It all applies at every scale. You may need to tweak it to be applicable but the concepts are scale invariant.

 
If the brewer goes through the beer quickly or doesn't care about competitions or wants to make the best beer with the least amount of expense and effort and have fun at the same time then the answer is still "No." 

I push back on this because applying advanced concepts won't take any of the fun out of brewing. Yes, it may add some equipment costs (upgrades, automation, etc.) and it may take an incremental increase in effort to accommodate, but it shouldn't be inherently less fun.

 
If the home-brewer has all of the basics down, is making great beer and has a goal of going pro then the answer is "yes" consider the brewing science.

You can make professional quality beer in your home and never have any aspirations to "go pro". Reviewing professional literature, texts, etc. doesn't immediately translate to have professional aspirations.

I think you go off track when you try to apply your definition of what's fun to other people.  We all get to decide that for ourselves.  And I can tell you for a fact that certain procedures I've seen advocated would reduce my fun.  And "professional quality beer" is only a part of my goal.  Which again, we all get to define for ourselves.  If that's what someone wants, that's great and more power to them.  But that doesn't mean it should be the hoal for everyone.
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Offline bboy9000

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2016, 04:25:07 PM »
You can make professional quality beer in your home and never have any aspirations to "go pro". Reviewing professional literature, texts, etc. doesn't immediately translate to have professional aspirations.
That's not what I meant.  If you want to go pro you should read the literature.  That's doesn't mean those that don't want to go pro shouldn't.  Anyway, good to see I managed to derail the thread in my last paragraph.  Sorry I should have omitted that last part.  The topic is citizen science vs brewing science.
Brian
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Offline JJeffers09

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2016, 04:34:13 PM »
I am with Denny.  This hobby is what you make of it, and as long as your achieving the results he/she desires that is all that matters.  If someone is looking to improve that is where they get to decide based on the advice of others.

Brewing science vs scaled citizen science on a 5 gallon batch while comparing made up of multiple ways to brew.  Everyone finds there own path in homebrewing.  My uncle has enjoyed extract brewing for almost 20 years, he has no desire to change.  I won't overload him with brewing texts and all grain brewing methods because he doesn't care.  It would do no good to treat him like, "stupid is as stupid does" at the end of the day some of the current lodo methods are a pseudoscience of the professional low oxygen brewhouses.  With the greatest intentions to make the best beer at home, and while I admire the effort and passion for the hobby.  It is not for everyone.  It will take there time to develop their own method to making the best beer they can.  If someone doesn't find the benenfit in decoction versus single infusion then they don't.  No fault to them or their beer.  Even if they send into competition and it scores less than desired they are going to decide how to improve their beer on their own.  Or not to improve it because they like it the way it is.
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Big Monk

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2016, 04:36:02 PM »
You can make professional quality beer in your home and never have any aspirations to "go pro". Reviewing professional literature, texts, etc. doesn't immediately translate to have professional aspirations.
That's not what I meant.  If you want to go pro you should read the literature.  That's doesn't mean those that don't want to go pro shouldn't.  Anyway, good to see I managed to derail the thread in my last paragraph.  Sorry I should have omitted that last part.  The topic is citizen science vs brewing science.

No worries. This IS the thread to derail. That's the whole point, to prevent derailing other threads on topics of hard brewing science, etc.

Big Monk

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2016, 04:39:58 PM »
...at the end of the day some of the current lodo methods are a pseudoscience of the professional low oxygen brewhouses...

I love how you buried this one in the middle of the post. Let me correct it for you so there is no confusion:


"...at the end of the day some of the current Low Oxygen methods are an approximation, on the homebrew scale, of professional techniques used in low oxygen brewhouses..."
« Last Edit: December 27, 2016, 04:42:43 PM by Big Monk »

Offline BrewBama

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2016, 04:51:13 PM »
Should home-brewers be concerned with scientific literature from the pro brewing industry regarding brewing chemistry?   In general, I think the answer is no. Most home-brewers have more basic things to focus on to improve their beer.

I'll admit to bringing up some more involved concepts in threads where it doesn't belong, especially where beginning brewers are involved. Intermediate to advanced brewers should take in all sources on brewing science though. It all applies at every scale. You may need to tweak it to be applicable but the concepts are scale invariant.

 
If the brewer goes through the beer quickly or doesn't care about competitions or wants to make the best beer with the least amount of expense and effort and have fun at the same time then the answer is still "No." 

I push back on this because applying advanced concepts won't take any of the fun out of brewing. Yes, it may add some equipment costs (upgrades, automation, etc.) and it may take an incremental increase in effort to accommodate, but it shouldn't be inherently less fun.

 
If the home-brewer has all of the basics down, is making great beer and has a goal of going pro then the answer is "yes" consider the brewing science.

You can make professional quality beer in your home and never have any aspirations to "go pro". Reviewing professional literature, texts, etc. doesn't immediately translate to have professional aspirations.

I think you go off track when you try to apply your definition of what's fun to other people.  We all get to decide that for ourselves.  And I can tell you for a fact that certain procedures I've seen advocated would reduce my fun.  And "professional quality beer" is only a part of my goal.  Which again, we all get to define for ourselves.  If that's what someone wants, that's great and more power to them.  But that doesn't mean it should be the hoal for everyone.

+1. I've said it before, I'm just a homebrewer reading about styles I drank while in Europe. I fall into the "simplicity" of the hobby and "to each their own" camp. I've spoken to too many hobbyists turned pro who remember when the hobby was fun.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Brewing Science vs. Citizen Science
« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2016, 04:51:53 PM »
I've never been of the opinion that, every time a brewer posts anecdotal info on their process or results, they need to post a list of scientific research papers as if they were citing references for a doctoral thesis. So I see citizen science done properly as perfectly acceptable for homebrewing - after all, it's a hobby and we get to decide how we want to brew.  But there are times as in the info presented on lodo brewing (which is such a contrast to traditional brewing in every way) that seeing the hard science behind it is important, and there is plenty of info to back it up. But just as our sytems and processes are all a little different, so are our goals for time and $ investment. I would dispute the assertion that lodo brewing stops being fun though - I'm actually enjoying it quite a bit. Totally to each his own.
Jon H.