From the HBD Archive
From: inc@tc.fluke.COM (Gary Benson)
Subject: Introduction, and a Few Questions
Date: 1989-04-11 04:57:28 GMT

Hello! I've been reading the HomeBrew Digest for a while now, and find it
to be really interesting and informative. Thanks to all for making this a
friendly forum for discussing a mutual interest: getting snockered on the
fruits of our own labor! (Just kidding, <wink>, <wink>)

I'm writing to introduce myself, to let you know where I am with my hobby
and to ask a few questions.

My name is Gary Benson, and I supervise part of the Publications Department
here at Fluke. I recently resurrected homebrewing as a hobby, and this time
around is a LOT more fun...for one thing, it seems that in the past ten years
or so, things have gotten much more scientific and repeatable. My first time
around I brewed maybe 2 or 3 batches and gave it up for a lost cause. The
stuff made it to the bottle (maybe it shouldn't have!), and it never exploded,
but it was pretty raunchy.

Anyway, nowadays we have a CHOICE of yeast, all kinds of variations in the
brewing process, choices of equipment, and we can even make draft beer -- no
need to bottle it at all!

I am on my 8th batch or so, and I am making a beer I really enjoy. I will
porbably never graduate to all-grain brewing for two reasons: One, I am
unwilling to spend that much time, and two, I now make what I consider to be
an excellent Porter WITHOUT the added equipment and time that going
all-grain seems to entail. Perhaps my tastes will mature further (today it
is hard to believe how wonderful I once thought P-B-R was!) and my beer will
need the additional complexity or body that only all-grain can provide, but I
really can't say. I'm pretty happy with this. Here's the recipe:

1 can Munton and Fison's dark hopped extract
1/2 can Edme bitters kit extract
1 stick brewer's licorice
1/2 pound toasted barley made into a tea
1 pound flaked barley (sparged in a kitchen strainer!)
2 ounces Cascade hops (pellets)
1 ounce Northern Brewer hops (pellets)
Edme yeast (from Bitters kit)

As usual, I did not boil the entire five gallon batch. I did use boiling
water to sparge the flaked barley, though, so it was too hot for the yeast
until the following morning. To pitch the yeast, I normally do just that:
PITCH it onto the surface of the wort. This time, I took out about a quart
of the wort, added about 1/2 cup regular old refined white cane sugar, and
stirred it in after 15 minutes or so. Those yeast did not just activate,
they got down right EXCITED! I pitched the yeast on 2/24, at 7:00 am. By the
time I came home for lunch, it was bubbling furiously. Two days later it
slowed to the point that I thought it had given out, so I put it into the
secondary fermenter. That got things going again, but quite a bit slower
than initially. A total of only 7 days after pitching the yeast, I bottled.
I have never had a brew take off quite so fast, so I monitored S.G. closer
than usual-- I read it daily, and sometimes two or even three times in a
day. Beginning S.G. was 1045, and ending was 1005. When it was stable for
two days, I figured it was done, and it was. I ferment my brews right next
to the hot water heater, which seems to maintain a constant 74 degrees.

Some questions: is 74 degrees too warm for fermenting dark ales? does it
REALLY matter if you throw the yeast onto the surface, or proof it first
(given equally active yeast -- I know that both methods work, but does it
really change anything?)

I'll shut up here soon, but I did want to ask this group something I've been
curious about for a long time: it seems to me that all the world's beers
comprise a continuum from near beer, through LA, up to Budmiller, into
the Mexican exports, the British stay-at-homes, (hmmm... never thought of it
before, but Mexico and England could learn from each other!) and maybe
ending with barleywine or something. Is that a fair characterization? If so,
is there really a "definition" for the terms we use all the time to describe
our brews. What exactly is ale, beer, malt liquor, porter, bitter, stout?
The only two stouts that I can find locally are Guinness and Sheaf, and
there is a LARGE difference between these. What qualities do they share that
their makers can both put "stout" on the label? Are pilsner and lager
similar -- both are light-colored, right? And Lager is aged, but is that it?
How about Bock and dupplebock? I understand that bock is the season's dregs,
but is the double version the dregs of a season's worth of brewing starting
with bock?

Thanks -- I hope my questions are not too elementary. I am looking forward
to future editions of our digest. Oh! a piece of adminstrivia to the kind
person who manages the digest: I also usually recieve two mailings of each
digest, a day apart. I can send the path if it will help locate the bug. And
a suggestion: would it be possible to include the edition as part of the
"End" message", something like:

End of HOMEBREW Digest 199, 5/4/89

I frequently recieve several new digests at one time, and it would be
helpful to be reminded as I reach the end what the edition was so I could
save it easily without returning to the mailer's header list to remind
myself. No problem if it's not easy to accomplish, but thanks a lot if you
can manage it!

Thanks again to all who are contributing to this fine publication. I
look forward to reading the digest every time it comes.

GaryBenson, inc@tc.fluke.COM-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-I was born to play shortstop. -Rey Quinones

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