From the HBD Archive
From: gkushmer@Jade.Tufts.EDU
Subject: Extract Brewing
Date: 1992-04-06 14:18:20 GMT

<Warning: This is a bit long.>

In the last HBD, Jack "Controversial- me?" Schmidling said:

You can not negate the value and effort of people who DO devote "the time,
money or desire to go all grain" simply by declaring that YOU don't have the
time, anymore than my statement reduces the value of what you are doing.

Although the definition of a "real homebrewer" might be subject to debate, I
don't think there can be much debate about the fact that making extract beer
is NOT really brewing. That's not to say it isn't fun, rewarding and great
beer, just that mashing is a fundamental step in the brewing process, without
which, one is simply making beer.

As there is no formal definition of "homebrewer" that I know of that gets into
the complexities of the style, I would say that there can be debate on the
issue until our fingers turn blue.

I would say that extract homebrewing IS real hombrewing. You might be
removing a step, but your comparison (not quoted above) between mash/extract
brewing and scratch/box baking is not valid. When I extract, I experiment
with a variety of specialty grains, adjuncts, and other bits and pieces that
show I am not altering a preset recipe (unlike someone who cooks from a box).

Then again, the above-quoted statement contradicts itself. At one point it is
saying that you cannot be a homebrewer unless you mash. Then he turns
around and says that if one does not mash, then "one is simply making beer."

Excuse me? If you are making beer then aren't you a "homebrewer?"

But Jack's basic premis rests on "work." He has this ill-conceived notion that
the more steps you add in your process, the more of a homebrewer you are.

Well, let's take this to its logical conclusion. Jack, do you grow all
your own hops? Your grain? Do you culture all your yeast? Do you process
all the water that you use? After all, you'll be in direct control of all
the factors that determine the quality of the ingredients as well as their
ultimate taste. How can you be a homebrewer unless you can control all of
these factors as well?

And what if one adds adjuncts? Since a mash is just a step in getting the
sugars, then is one not a "real" homebrewer if he/she does not grow the
corn/cane/beet sugar his/herself? The same is with honey or any other type
of sugar.

Are you then "less" of a homebrewer if you do not bottle but switch to kegging?

This kind of reasoning does not cut it. If you use this method of
determination then you must take it to its logical conclusion or else you
risk being a hypocrite yourself. Obviously it is flawed in its simplicity
as it ignores the fact that there are people who do not go through these
steps, yet brew their own beer (hence "homebrewer.")

Is there a dividing line? I met someone on the Brew Free or Die trip that
takes cans of hopped extract, boils it, and adds yeast later. He is not
working as hard as I am, but he is learning. And he is a homebrewer.
Maybe, to please people like Jack, we need to say that there is a
level of "apprentice" brewers, "journeymen" brewers (extract/grains)
and "master" brewers (mash). While this ignores some steps, it might be a
a better solution.

Thing of it is, though, is that there is an arrogance about Jack's

Jack's statements indicate that he has achieved "satori" so
to speak and that he is on the uppermost level possible so far as
homebrewing is concerned (at least in his eyes). Now Jack, it seems safe
to say that you are older than I and that you have considerably
more experience than I do at homebrewing. That, to me, means that
you are a homebrewer who has more experience and is most likely much better
than I.

But you cannot justifiably belittle my efforts. I use extract and I learn.
I experiment and make beer. Fact of the matter is that I spend considerable
amounts of time and effort at home making my own beer. To me, that is enough
to get on my feet and say "I am a homebrewer, as real as real can be."

- --gk


"I have special place in my heart for the criminally insane, but YOU
have worn out your welcome."
-The Tick-
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