From the HBD Archive
From: ferguson%X102C@HARRIS-ATD.COM (ferguson ct 71078)
Subject: Homebrew Digest #192 (July 02, 1989)
Date: 1989-07-05 16:56:16 GMT

>Being told not to worry, that everything will turn out all right,
>always sets my teeth on edge. I'd prefer to be given information
>rather than platitudes.

Given some of the recent submissions to the homebrew list, I now
understand why Papazian made such a big deal out of not worrying. It
appears that some homebrewers do get excessively concerned about
miniscule details of brewing that have marginal impact on the final
product. An experienced homebrewer attempting to brew
connoisseur-quality homebrew is justifiable in such strict attention
to detail. However, the foremost concern of first-timers should be
to get comfortable with the homebrewing process and to gain an easy
appreciation of the rewards. A first-timer reading a newsgroup like
this or conversing with an experienced homebrewer might get a
distorted view of what is important in homebrewing. Experience
homebrewers tend to delve into esoterica when discussing their art.

A good example of all this is the recent discussion on sanitization
and the quantity and type of bleach to use. My approach has always
been to buy whatever bleach was lying around the house (or on sale at
the grocery store), to use liberal quantities of it, and rinse well
afterwards. As Papazian says, the objective is to *sanitize* the
equipment and not to *sterilize* it. I can understand an experience
homebrewer's concern with fragrances and other additives in bleach,
particularly when his fermenter is something more exotic than the
standard glass carboy that many first-timers use. However,
first-timers really shouldn't worry about it. Hence, Papazian's
emphasis on not worrying.

I am talking from experience here. I first got interested in
homebrewing when a fellow with whom I worked told me he had brewed
before. He told me all about the process in great detail and I was
baffled. He showed me a whole closet-full of equipment for
homebrewing, much of which was home-built. We resolved to brew a
batch together someday so I could learn how it all worked.
Fortunately for me, he could never find the time. I bought Papazian's
book instead and brewed a beginner's batch by the book. The resulting
brew was adequate (though underhopped and under-carbonated) and gave
me enough confidence to try a mixed extract/grain brew the next time
(Papazian's India Pale Ale recipe). The second batch was superb and
still rates as one of the best batches of homebrew I have ever made.
The point is that if Papazian had not gone to such great lengths to
simplify and de-stress the homebrewing process, I might never have
brewed that first batch.

What is surprising to me is the resilience of homebrewing. As I have
stated in this newsgroup before, I have talked to homebrewers who have
made decent stuff in buckets with minimal attention to sanitation. I
even talked to one homebrewer who claims to have made an all-extract
without even boiling the wort -- just mixed the extract with some
water and pitched the yeast. He claims it turned out OK (he must have
used a pre-hopped extract). The conclusion I have drawn is that
homebrewing is darn-near bulletproof. Hence, we have the Chuck
Ferguson correlary to the Papazian theorm:

"Relax, don't worry -- homebrewing is darn-near bulletproof."

As far as Papazian's science goes, I can't say how accurate it is. I
can say that his book is packed with information and a whole bunch of
recipes. Considering the range of audiences it attempts to reach, I
would say it covers the topic pretty well. If the "RDWHAH" philosophy
bothers you, skip the beginner's stuff and move on to the more
complicated sections. The platitude appears less and less as you move
through the book.

Chuck Ferguson Harris Government Information Systems Division
(407) 984-6010 MS: W1/7732 PO Box 98000 Melbourne, FL 32902
uunet: uunet!x102a!x102c!ferguson

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