From the HBD Archive
From: (John DeCarlo)
Subject: What helps you in competitions?
Date: 1992-03-11 13:28:03 GMT

>From: (Tim P McNerney)

>Stop using examples that prove nothing as evidence that liquid
>yeast is better than dry yeast. It is probably also true that
>all the winners at the AHA brewed beer and not wine, but this is
>not evidence that beer is better than wine.

Well, this is an ongoing problem, and not related to liquid yeast
use alone. What about fermenting in glass vs. plastic vs.
stainless steel? Many winners ferment in stainless steel, for

Most of these examples show nothing but that more experienced
brewers tend to win more in competitions and tend to do fancier
things when brewing. Beginners tend to do things much simpler
and tend not to win as often. But one would expect more
experienced people to win more often anyway.

So, how do you determine what is technically better? You do
studies, with as many factors controlled as possible, and with as
little known to those tasting the results as possible. Some
clubs have sponsored these studies, some are done for magazines
such as _zymurgy_. But in general, there is no funding for
homebrewers to perform these types of studies (any advice on
applying for a grant to do this?).

In the absence of thorough and convincing scientific studies
(and look at how much argument there is among the scientific
community even after some of these studies are done), beginners
are more likely to just follow the advice of more experienced
brewer acquaintances or to look at what competition winners do.
In general, their beer will improve from this advice, but there
is also no easy way to quantify the benefit from any one
particular item.

So, proving causality is difficult, but imitating procedures or
ingredient usage of good brewers is about as good a method as most
people have of improving their brewing and their beers.

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