Author Topic: Hitting Cruise Control  (Read 1794 times)

Offline klickitat jim

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Hitting Cruise Control
« on: December 28, 2017, 07:30:18 AM »
Listening to Denny and Drew Q & A show and contemplating my brew journey. I'm in my 6th year. Started typical, tried nearly everything along the way.

Where I'm at now

I enjoy giving myself permission to not brew because I "have to". Three things almost destroyed my desire to brew. 1. Was a habit of brewing weekly and developing a feeling that it was something I had to do. Another thing that drained me of any ambition was spending about 6 months trying to prep for the BJCP written. Yuk! I'll never go there again. The third thing was arguments on the internet. Life is just too short and sweet to debate brewing with anonymous trolls.

After taking the summer and fall off, I'm rediscovering the reason why I enjoy brewing. A bunch of what I've learned and tried has fallen by the wayside. My process has gotten much simpler. I do no sparge mashing now. Tastier and easier. I no longer measure pH, because after testing countless batches, I've found that my water calculator is dead on. I do 3 types of hopping. FWH, whirlpool, and dry. Dry hopping, if I do it, is usually at HK and again at TG. I'm totally sold on pitching active starters. I only keg. If I need a bottle I beergun it.

I've got about 3 basic go-to recipes, each with slight variations to scratch that itch. APA/IPA, Stout, Festbeir.

For now I am totally fine with cruise control!



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Offline el_capitan

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2017, 07:43:28 AM »
Feels good to lock it in, eh?  Good on you, man.  It's nice to reach a point where you know enough to basically run in your groove.  I would have a very hard time limiting myself to 3 or 4 beers, though.  I always have at least half a dozen batches in line to brew.  Like you, I appreciate predictability, so I made an annual brewing calendar that rotates me through about 24 different batches and keeps 4-5 yeast strains active.  I buy ingredient in bulk maybe 3-4 times per year.

Like you, I kind of took a step back form forum life for a while, and now I am back here and there but not hardcore.  One thing I found though - there are always new information and techniques coming to light, and it keeps me interested in experimentation and refinement. 

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2017, 08:06:16 AM »
The forum is cool. No point in pointing out the low points. Those who understand already know. But I agree on new stuff! I'm still hyper curious, but I'm just at the stage where my curiosity is balanced with skepticism.

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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2017, 08:44:17 AM »
For clarification, I'm not beating up on BJCP. I just went too far for the wrong reasons. I find that for me the BJCP is great for education, and standardizing things so competitions make sense. It's not the end all be all though. I really don't think their true purpose is to approve of what you want to do with your beer, or ordain you as a beer priest. So kudos to them for what they are trying to do!


« Last Edit: December 28, 2017, 09:59:47 AM by klickitat jim »

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2017, 12:35:24 PM »
I'm glad you've found your groove in brewing.  It helps me to know that others have/are struggling with the "why am I still brewing ?" questions.  Every passion has ebbs and flows.  For me, I was starting to brew because I had to maintain inventory or I had ingredients that were getting old.  It wasn't about learning new things anymore.

I have been going through a long period of no brewing in 2017 due to a kitchen remodel that took precedence over everything else.  That project is starting to look like the end is approaching, finally.  I have gotten 4 beers made so I will have something to serve when my wife's family is here for a late Christmas gathering (scheduled around previously mention remodel). 

I am hoping to put some focus on lower alcohol session beers this years.  Mainly because I think my high ABV standard beers are feeding a family tendency to hide behind bottles of stuff, for me at least  :(

My plan for 2018 is getting my new 3 roller mill dialed in and looking forward to smaller beers.  I still enjoy the forum and have never had any interest in BJCP certification or entering contests.  I guess I'm generally a "loner" and will continue to do my own thing. 

Thank you for letting me know others ask the same questions.

Merry Christmas! (late) and Happy New Year! (early).

Paul
Where the heck are we going?  And what's with this hand basket?

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2017, 12:40:20 PM »
Like anything that you fall out of love with, if you miss it, try to remember what about it was about it that you love. Remove or walk away from everything that blocks that.

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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2017, 01:06:13 PM »
I've been brewing since 1999 and I have taken at least 2 or 3 very long breaks of a year or more, but always come back feeling excited and invigorated and amazed at how much I had actually managed to forget and kind of had to start over in some sense even in the knowledge department -- not necessarily the same skill set as riding a bike, so to speak.

Trolls are rarely worth the effort to respond to.  I think I've learned to brush off and ignore the worst ones.  Even newbie questions, I don't respond as much anymore, leaving the easier stuff for others to answer.  All this said, I do still learn a TON on forums / in discussions with other moderate to advanced folks and find it valuable enough that, hey, I'm still here.  I'm constantly learning new stuff.  It never ceases to amaze.  Much more useful knowledge is out there if we pay attention!

I'm finally hitting the point now where I've brewed most of the styles that I ever care to brew, and have actually begun refinement of my old favorite recipes, whether from last year or 10 years ago or whatever.  My last two batches and one of my next couple batches will be recipes I have brewed before and loved.  I cannot say I am hitting "cruise control" quite yet and probably never will, but at least with respect to recipe formulation (with me wanting to have nearly 100% original recipes, not clones of others'), I'm getting there finally.  At the very least, brew days are becoming easier, yet on the other hand I still love and will always love experimentation.  I split almost every batch, whether even just for a yeast experiment, or otherwise.

Cider is still a love and I believe always will be.  And now I want to get more into mead as well, having recently achieved a Best of Show for my mulberry cyser.  I still have some things to learn here.  One thing I shall remain adamant about is that yeast nutrients are pretty worthless.  Never had need for pectinase either.  I'm all about keeping it super simple!

The BJCP probably deserves a little more respect than I typically give them.  There, that sounds kind of like an apology, yes?!  ;)

What I love most about this hobby is the camaraderie, and that includes both online forums where I have many dozens of folks that I would consider friends, as well as real-life in several local clubs, and at the microbreweries, and... all the wives, some of which have started to brew now too!  What better hobby is there where you can get together with people who are giddy about the alcoholic beverages that we all love to consume when we get together, and which in this case we have brewed ourselves!?!  It just doesn't get any better!
Dave

The world will become a much more pleasant place to live when each and every one of us realizes that we are all idiots.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2017, 01:29:36 PM »
Good stuff, thanks!

Hopefully I didn't make it sound like I only brew 3 beers, exactly the same every time. That's not true. 3 go-to beers that I can change up hops or yeast and be happy for years. But I stray from them too.

Forum stuff. There's room for all types, right? If it's ok to micro focus on one tiny thing it should also be ok to kind of be easy come easy go. I'm learning I guess

BJCP... Like I said, what they do is great. Teaching about tasting, and keeping contests organized, etc. But taken out of context, obsessing over it, or mutating it into some kind of ruling authority? That's where the problem lies. But that's not necessarily their fault.

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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2017, 01:52:20 PM »
As the wife says if I don’t feel like brewing, “it’s a hobby, not a job”.

Your summation of BJCP is not far from mine. Don’t make it into something it is not.

I have learned new techniques in the last couple years, and use those often. Sometimes i do an old school brew day on a Best Bitter just because it feels right for that style, and I like the results.
Jeff Rankert
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Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline Andy Farke

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2017, 02:58:52 PM »
Nicely said! I think there's a great value in stepping back, and brewing at the level that's fun for you.

As near as I can tell, 90% of my frustration with internet brewing forums this past year is the "Thou Shalt/Shalt Not [X, Y, Z]" philosophy. Once I learned to ignore that (and realize that the folks on the other side of things are probably having fun geeking out in their own way--if I don't want them to stress about how I brew, why should I stress about how they brew?), forum life got a lot happier.

This year was also the year I came to terms with BJCP. I had initially thought maybe I'd even do the written exam, but ended up dropping it from my list of brew goals...with two small kids, a spouse I rather like, and an enjoyable career that sometimes occupies weekends, I'd rather spend the remaining free time on brewing, and fitting more studying and judging into my life just wouldn't work. I've medaled in a few competitions, which is good enough for me...I'm probably even mostly done entering competitions in any serious way.
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Online denny

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2017, 04:51:53 PM »
Jim, I'm right there with ya.  After all the years and all the batches, you kinda figure out what matters to you and what doesn't and adjust your brewing accordingly.  I've been brewing a lot less lately (unfortunately), so when I brew I want to concentrate on what I feel are the essentials.  And to me, the biggest of those essentials is having fun.  Like you, I've simplified things.  For instance, I now know that I don't have to use a stir plate to build starters days in advance.  I go back and forth between systems and processes depending on my mood.  As I say in my seminars, if you're not having fun you're doing it wrong.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2017, 05:39:38 PM by denny »
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Offline mchrispen

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2017, 05:35:05 PM »
Timely post Jim.


I have been struggling with mostly the same issues, plus now trying to get a business up and on its feet. It has been almost 8 months since I lit the fire to brew, but this weekend going back out there sans pH meter, etc. and just brew.


On the plus side, being busier and not having 30 gallons of lager or saison on tap all the day long, I lost 30 pounds. I want to maintain that momentum, and get that brewing bug back.

Offline Robert

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2017, 05:50:15 PM »
Jim, thanks for reminding me to get my head in the right place!  Been brewing since '89, with a hiatus or two.  I really just do pale lagers now, because that's what I like best and brewing is fun (should be.) I don't do competitions because I'm just trying to satisfy my own expectations, and don't want to do judging because I know my own tastes aren't that broad.  I've always wanted to learn (I guess why that's why I started -- interested how something works, I have to try it myself.)  But along the way I periodically over-nerd the whole thing.  And the more "improvents" made to the process --  well the beer doesn't always back them up.  And sometimes I feel I have to brew just to keep yeast alive, or use an oversupply of malt.  I could probably take a break for a few weeks and the yeast would be fine. I have been trying to simplify my brew day, but could do more.  So this weekend, I think I'll see just how simple I can keep things, and I bet the beer will actually improve!  As a wise man once said, relax, don't worry,  have a homebrew.
Rob
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Offline Kevin

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2017, 06:12:45 PM »
In 2007/2008 I thought it would be a great challenge to keep my kegerator operating at 100% capacity for a full year. I did but at the end of that year I was burned out. I did not return to brewing until April or May of this year... nearly a decade off!

Now my frustration is re-learning everything - and doing it on a new brew rig. I would rate my best brew this past year as average with most of them being crappy (in my opinion). These skills atrophy if not honed regularly.

My goal for 2018 is not to brew the most but to brew the best I can...and to be consistent. Once I dial in a recipe I want the one I make today and the one I make months from now to be recognizable as the same beer.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Hitting Cruise Control
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2017, 10:27:47 PM »
Wow, sounds like I am in very very good company!

It dawns on me that brewing beer has so much to offer, aside from the final product. You can dig as deep or as shallow as you want. You might even find some lessons on how to be a better human along the way.

Cheers to uber geeks and lazy cruisers alike!

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