Author Topic: What is the Purpose of this Forum?  (Read 6247 times)

Offline Phil_M

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What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« on: June 06, 2017, 02:12:19 PM »
I have recently allowed my membership to lapse, and will likely be spending less time on here. (The way I see it, I'm not paying for the forum, so I don't want to "take advantage" of the AHA's graces.) Why did I not renew? Because I feel the AHA, and this forum, are doing home brewers a disservice by not furthering a technical understanding of brewing.

When I first got into homebrewing, this forum was a fantastic resource. Between books I had read/bought, and the AHA webpage, I had the basics down pat pretty quickly. My first extract batch tasted like bananas, and the second was ruined by a rusty dip tube, but by the third batch I was making good beer. (I believe I joined this forum looking for help with that dip tube.) Seeing this as a sign of being capable of successfully brewing all grain, I purchased and electric BIAB system and went to town. I was brewing once or twice a month, and quickly reached the limits of my knowledge.

This is the point where this forum became vital. I'd managed the nuts and bolts of AG brewing, but I was running into issues beyond the basics. Some of my beers had a bad mineral water quality that really detracted from the beers. I learned about managing pH through this forum, got a copy of Bru'n Water, and was able to fix this problem as well. All the while, I was also being schooled on yeast by a member on here. At this point, I felt my brewing was improving at an exponential rate, and I was at least brewing beer that I was truly proud of. Without this forum I'd likely have just continued using 5.2 pH buffer in my mash, and would have probably quit out of frustration.

Now I'm at a point where my brewing has plateaued. I have no desire to start a brewery, but I do want to move on to that level. Before anyone claims I'm moving towards the modern German techniques, I'm not. However, the Germans don't have the market cornered in brewery engineering/science/understanding. The Brits also have done a ton of research, though perhaps less focused on the affects of HSA. This is the sort of information I'm now looking for, yeast management and fermentation systems in particular.

My point in all this is that the main strength of this forum has been the advanced technical help available to members. Recently, many of the members who provided this advanced knowledge have moved on to other forums. An attempt to leveage AHA membership to get access to technical brewing papers was met with disinterest by the AHA. (Though I'll admit, that faced significant hurdles.) The AHA seems happy to just keep evangelizing new brewers, and not really working to provide help for advanced brewing methods.

I've allowed my AHA membership to lapse because I don't see a benefit from it. I have no local AHA member deals. Homebrewcon was a blast last year, but I'm not in a financial situation where access to that on a yearly basis is a perk. Zymurgy is a nice publication, but again in general I feel like it doesn't provide enough advanced technical information. Yes, it could be said that my money helps bring new people into the hobby, but I can also help do that on my own. I will still encourage new brewers to get a membership, the AHA will more than provide the information needed to get to the big leagues in terms of quality. However, if a brewer desires to move on from being a "Brewing Technician" to being more of a "Brewing Engineer", the AHA isn't worth the expense. This saddens me greatly, as this forum was once a place that could provide that function to the few who would want it.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2017, 03:15:21 PM »
I don't think your position is unreasonable. It's good feedback to the AHA that homebrewing is reaching an increasing degree of technical knowledge and the AHA is falling behind the curve.

The only thing I might counter with is that AHA dues contribute towards lobbying efforts to keep the hobby open which benefits all of us, even if individual components of other AHA functions are less valuable to you.

I don't think your general position is that unusual. Most homebrewers who take their brewing semi-seriously will inevitably outgrow most of the resources out there within the hobby. There are few highly technical homebrewing groups/forums out there and even among those groups you have a swell of basic and intermediate brewers looking for help. You may be at a point where your time is better spent researching into academic and industry resources.
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Online denny

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2017, 03:35:22 PM »
The AHA is its members.  That's where content comes from.
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Offline pete b

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2017, 03:56:55 PM »
I think this forum could be both a resource for beginners and those digging deeper into more technical aspects. I agree with Denny that the AHA IS its members. Its up to us to ask and answer questions here and see what happens. I think when it comes down to it the decline in civility here is driving away those capable of engaging in these conversations. Its too bad because a small handful of people have caused this. IMO people who cannot disagree civilly should be on a very short leash and a mod should never engage in back and forth name calling, making the matter worse, rather than enforcing forum rules.
I think we should always think before we post, and be thick skinned when someone says something we don't like.
As to problems with the AHA I don't think talking about it here should be the end of the line. I think its healthy to bring up issues and possibly galvanize support for positions here but direct and sustained communication directly with the AHA board is necessary to changes.
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Online denny

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2017, 04:05:22 PM »
I think this forum could be both a resource for beginners and those digging deeper into more technical aspects. I agree with Denny that the AHA IS its members. Its up to us to ask and answer questions here and see what happens. I think when it comes down to it the decline in civility here is driving away those capable of engaging in these conversations. Its too bad because a small handful of people have caused this. IMO people who cannot disagree civilly should be on a very short leash and a mod should never engage in back and forth name calling, making the matter worse, rather than enforcing forum rules.
I think we should always think before we post, and be thick skinned when someone says something we don't like.
As to problems with the AHA I don't think talking about it here should be the end of the line. I think its healthy to bring up issues and possibly galvanize support for positions here but direct and sustained communication directly with the AHA board is necessary to changes.

The AHA "board" is the Governing Committee and several GC members post here on the forum.  If there's something you want, you can express it to us, either through a forum post, a PM, or an email.  The email addys of all GC members are on the AHA website.

As to content, Zymurgy is always looking for writers and content.  If there's something you want to know about, let them know (or tall those of us on the GC).  You can write the article yourself if it's something you're up on, or maybe find someone you respect and ask them to write.  In addition to disseminating the info, you can also make a few $$ for your effort.
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Offline wmbolling

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2017, 05:21:19 PM »
Hi Phil -

This is all great feedback for us, and I appreciate the time you put in to offer it. We're constantly working to develop new ways to bring you homebrewing knowledge, while also working to promote the hobby to new members.

I'd like to point to the new webinar program as an example of one of the ways that the AHA is providing more technical homebrewing information. We had a Dr. Matthew Bochman, a professor from Indiana University present last week on his experiments while mapping the sour beer microbiome in the mash. If you know of a topic that interests you, I'd be happy to line up a presenter who can shed some light on the subject. Send me an email: Matt@BrewersAssociation.org.

I would also be interested in finding out where you live, so that we can work to grow the member deals program in your area. We've added well over 600 new locations in the last 2 years, and have been focusing on getting business participating in areas that don't yet offer the discounts.

I hope that you will reconsider renewing your AHA membership!

Thanks,

Matt Bolling
AHA Events & Membership Coordinator
Matt@BrewersAssociation.org
720-473-7696
Matt Bolling
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Offline duncan

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2017, 05:31:58 PM »
This is great feedback, Phil. You brought up some great points concerning more technical resources/content that I will absolutely be bringing to our web content planning meetings.

One thing I would like to emphasize is we hope that people continue using the AHA Forum even if that person decides to let their membership lapse (or never become a member in the first place). We've purposely made the forum public in order to build and maintain the excellent community that has developed here. So please don't feel like you have to depart just because you aren't a current member!

Cheers,
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Offline Dave Carpenter

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2017, 06:48:24 PM »
Hey Phil, thanks for your comments. Just to add to what has already been said, I'll emphasize that I'm always open to pitches for Zymurgy. If you or someone you know has an idea for an article, send it my way (zymurgy@brewersassociation.org)! All levels of technical detail are welcome.
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Offline BrodyR

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2017, 09:17:46 PM »
I've had similar feelings. Overall, I think our brewing culture in general including many American craft brewers, the AHA, and LHBS seem to have settled into a good-enough mentality.

Initially this forum was a HUGE driver in my jump from a beginning brewer to consistently brewing beers I enjoy (which I am quite grateful for and plan to stick around) but the recent personality clashes seem to have doubled down on a resistance to some of the more advanced techniques brought up from folks who read Kunze & Narziss.

Of course people brew for different reasons and that's perfectly fine - this forum seems dominated by the keep brewing fun and achieve good-enough results camp while the recently emerged GBF is dominated by people obsessed with the technical, as evidenced by members owning DO meters and copies of sturdy German texts.

You guys are right tho that the forum IS it's members. So it's a shame the personality clashes have resulted in some of the technically minded people primarily operating on other sites. I'd rather click on one site instead of 3 + facebook messenger when I'm thinking something thru.

That being said I feel much stronger about the lack of service LHBS provide to brewers past the beginner stage. I've yet to speak to a LHBS clerk who even understands mash pH as evidenced by last experience crushing grain there "Why do you want acid malt in your pilsner grist, going for some sort of twang?". I would love a shop that had an advanced section that sold RO water, pH Meters, calibration solution, DO meters, and provided assistance with building a water profile. But financially I imagine it makes sense to cater to beginning and intermediate levels.

And even stronger than that about some of the garbage upstart "craft" brewers put out now a day like terribly brewed beer with no head and some strange ingredients served in a shaker glass.

But at the end of the day there are still a lot of people on here with plenty of experience making the AHA a solid resource who I trust is looking out for the best interest of brewers. Even if the forum turns into a soap opera at times.



Offline RC

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2017, 10:06:42 PM »
I think the purpose of this forum is to let both newbie homebrewers and experienced homebrewers share ideas about how to brew the best beer possible at home. "At home" is the key phrase here. When you brew beer in your garage, or on your back deck, or in your kitchen, and it turns out great, it's a magical thing! As I type this, I'm sipping a homebrew that, literally and objectively, is really, really, good. And this forum is partly why, no doubt. Totally understand if you've outgrown this forum, but that just means that you know so much, and are brewing such great beer, that you're in a great position to spread the gospel!

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2017, 10:46:06 PM »
I think the purpose of this forum is to let both newbie homebrewers and experienced homebrewers share ideas about how to brew the best beer possible at home. "At home" is the key phrase here. When you brew beer in your garage, or on your back deck, or in your kitchen, and it turns out great, it's a magical thing! As I type this, I'm sipping a homebrew that, literally and objectively, is really, really, good. And this forum is partly why, no doubt. Totally understand if you've outgrown this forum, but that just means that you know so much, and are brewing such great beer, that you're in a great position to spread the gospel!

This is my favorite response so far.

My own thoughts: We are all human, and we are all different.  We are not robots.  We do not all have a quest or desire to seek the Nth degree of every bit of minutia.  Some do, and that's fine.  Some care even less, and that's fine.  We need to keep this forum a useful resource for ALL types of non-robots.  If you need help, we'll help.  If you're the smartest guy on a topic, then please stick around and teach those who want to know.  We're all in this together.  But if this forum isn't fun anymore, then I can understand why people would leave.

Personally I'm here more to waste time and procrastinate than anything else!  I'm such a slacker.  I try to help where I can, and I also seek to entertain and to be entertained where appropriate.  Cuz in the end, of course, it's just friggin BEER we're talking about anyway!  We're such geeks in a lot of ways, especially those who hang out in forums.  My participation has been waning, but I can't help but continue to lurk and contribute occasionally anyway, because for the most part, it's kind of fun for me, and even a little bit educational.  If it weren't either of those, I'd leave.  But it is both, so I stay.

Cheers all.   :)
Dave

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Offline majorvices

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2017, 10:57:15 PM »
At the risk of kicking the hornets nest again I would like to reply: I don't feel in any way that this forum is against "advanced techniques". It is more about a balance in delivery towards brewers in a practical sense. Look at it this way: What if, in the Extract section of the forum, we had a few members whom, every time a question is asked about extract brewing, come and and tell them they can't really brew good beer with extract! They need to be brewing All Grain!

Obviously, extreme illustration. And for that matter, I do feel like AG brewing is far superior to Extract brewing so I very, very rarely post in the Extract forum. I'm not the guy that needs to be answering those questions.

There has to be a balance of content that provides information to all those who seek it, and that information needs to be at the skill level of those who are looking.

Offline Phil_M

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2017, 11:04:41 PM »
I'm not disappearing, I'll still be on here. I just won't be checking in nearly as often as I used to.

Its up to us to ask and answer questions here and see what happens. I think when it comes down to it the decline in civility here is driving away those capable of engaging in these conversations. Its too bad because a small handful of people have caused this. IMO people who cannot disagree civilly should be on a very short leash and a mod should never engage in back and forth name calling, making the matter worse, rather than enforcing forum rules.
I think we should always think before we post, and be thick skinned when someone says something we don't like.

Pete, I agree completely agree with everything you've said, and especially this selection.

The AHA is its members.  That's where content comes from.

Denny, I'm under no illusions of the AHA is capable of being able to be everything for everybody. But the way things are being run, the in-depth knowledge is leaving, or has left. This isn't just because of recent clashes on brewing methods, some folks have honestly got other things going on. (Our resident yeast expert being a notable example.)

The webinars as a great step in the right direction. However, for the most part they've simply followed trendy topics specifically in craft brewing, as opposed to historical or brewing modern "big beer" techniques. But this is an area where I think it's OK that such things aren't covered, as it just isn't feasible for the AHA to cater to every niche.

But that's why we have this forum. That's why this needs to be a place for all brewers: from a newbie brewing extract, all the way to someone who could be a brewing engineer but would rather homebrew than turn his hobby into a business. Because this is the part of the AHA best suited to being a catch-all for any niche brewing technique/ingredient/whatever.

I think the purpose of this forum is to let both newbie homebrewers and experienced homebrewers share ideas about how to brew the best beer possible at home. "At home" is the key phrase here. When you brew beer in your garage, or on your back deck, or in your kitchen, and it turns out great, it's a magical thing! As I type this, I'm sipping a homebrew that, literally and objectively, is really, really, good. And this forum is partly why, no doubt. Totally understand if you've outgrown this forum, but that just means that you know so much, and are brewing such great beer, that you're in a great position to spread the gospel!

Spreading the hobby is definitely one of the best parts. The only thing more fun than a knowledgeable friend raving about your beer is getting another friend into brewing and to a point that they make awesome beer. The brewery closest to me, The Ruddy Duck, had an event geared to teach folks how to brew. Demoing my system that day was still the most homebrewing fun I've had, easily topping even Homebrewcon.

Personally I'm here more to waste time and procrastinate than anything else!  I'm such a slacker.  I try to help where I can, and I also seek to entertain and to be entertained where appropriate.  Cuz in the end, of course, it's just friggin BEER we're talking about anyway!  We're such geeks in a lot of ways, especially those who hang out in forums.  My participation has been waning, but I can't help but continue to lurk and contribute occasionally anyway, because for the most part, it's kind of fun for me, and even a little bit educational.  If it weren't either of those, I'd leave.  But it is both, so I stay.

The amount of time I spend on here vs. how much I learn/have fun is why I'm going to be spending less time here as much as my membership lapsing. I waste too much time on here that could be spent actually working on brewing. Or other hobbies, auto racing has been calling my name again...
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

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Offline jeffy

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2017, 11:35:16 PM »
The thing about this or any forum is that it changes constantly.  There have been times when we have had doctors of biology commenting as well as yeast historians and honey bee farmers.  Right now we don't seem to have that same level of expertise, but it may come back around.
The nice thing I have always enjoyed about this forum has been the courtesy.  Let's not lose that.
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Offline Bob357

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Re: What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2017, 11:46:07 PM »
There comes a time when you have reaped the benefits of an organization and archived a level of knowledge that is above that of most members. This is the time to become a major contributor and help the average and those below. How well would you have fared if those who helped you had decided to drop out before generously allowing you the benefit of their knowledge.

Not trying to belittle you in any way but, please, remember where you were when you became a member of this great organization.

Beer is my bucket list,

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