I have hesitated to post this...but what the hell.
I humbly propose that I am just sharing my own thoughts/opinions.
Art – Science – Truth – Theory – Belief
There is certainly an art to homebrewing…that intangible “skill” that some brewers posses; it lies beyond scientific explanation…call it an algorithm that springs up in the brewers’ brain, spurred by environment and genetics.
But there is also science to homebrewing. Certain conditions of various physical phenomenon – temperature, pH, ion concentrations – all have a bearing on the outcomes of the brewing process. Through formulating hypotheses, conducting experiments, and making empirical observations, we can come closer to understanding the science of homebrewing, and move to formulate “best practice” guidelines…or what is “true” in a given brewing circumstance.
So what is truth? The consensus theory of truth states that what is held in consensus is true…so if we all agree to something, it is true. This might work for where a group may decide to go for lunch, BUT not for something like gravity; you cannot by consensus make gravity cease. This theory of truth certainly works for the BJCP style guidelines…but not so when determining how mash enzymes function.
The correspondence theory of truth holds that what is true is that which corresponds to the actual state of affairs. For example, what effect does temperature have on mashing? To find this out, you must devise a hypothesis, do research, make empirical observations, and conduct experiments. In the end, you may not be fully right, but you’ll likely be closer to what corresponds with reality.
Belief. All homebrewers have it. Belief that their beer is good, that using a blue cooler makes better beer, that how they brew is the best way. Belief is a personal thing…often expressed in personal terms: I believe this, I believe that. And it’s OK to have our personal beliefs; where we run afoul is when we try to force our beliefs on others…insist that they accept what we say is nothing short of truth. That generally offends people…especially when the belief runs contrary to a correspondence theory of truth, or the belief lacks reasonable research to support it.
Now I’m no genius homebrewer, I do well and enjoy the fruits of my labor, and would certainly relate my brewing practices to anyone that may ask. But, I would not insist that what I do is “best practice,” but I would rather defer to those who have greater experience, arrived at through empirical evidence, experimentation, and reasoned research. Especially when those people express their “discoveries” in humble terms and without the expectation that I “drink the Koolaid.”
Thus I choose to brew in a white cooler.