Friday, July 29, 2011

Five Gallons At A Time: Audience Participation

In January of 2010, I learned that my daughter has a terminal genetic disorder called Niemann-Pick Disease, Type A. Two months later, my wife and I dropped to part-time employment so one of us would always be home with her. Currently, we each work three days a week and it's probably going to stay that way for another year or two.

Bigger problems aside, the fact that I can only work part-time prevents me from becoming a major decision-maker in a brewery (brewmaster, quality manager, etc). Not being a major decision-maker means that I don't get to spend time at work reading about brewing science, researching new technologies, performing experiments, solving mathematical problems, analyzing data or designing process improvements. In other words, I haven't done much on-the-job learning over the last two years. When you've been a professional a brewer for six years, having a mid-level brewing job isn't the same educational rush that it used to be.

I'm still growing as a brewer, mostly by trying to exceed my comfort zone when I brew at home, but it's not happening very quickly. I'll probably only brew eight or nine batches at home this year, and I no longer have much time to keep up with scientific journals or attend conferences. Most of the articles I write for MBR are based on knowledge that I acquired in a former life, and I'm running low on new content. So... are there any subjects you'd like me to cover? Before you answer the question, here are some guidelines that help me decide whether or not a given topic is worth addressing here:

-It should have practical implications for most homebrewers. Water chemistry is broadly applicable, damnit, but counting yeast cells with a microscope isn't.
-If you can read about it in popular brewing literature such as Zymurgy or How to Brew, there's no need for me to duplicate it here.
-For the most part, commentating on the activities of commercial breweries is a conflict of interest. I can't talk about the inner-workings of Ale Asylum either.

Let me know if you have any ideas, either in the comments or via email. It might take me a while to tackle issues that require a lot of research, but I'll get to them eventually. If you leave me hangin', I'll probably write about my recent experience with turbid mashing. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a threat.

1 comment:

  1. Turbid mash sounds cool. I'd read that.
    Decoction mashing would be interesting too. Some people think it has no place in a modern brewery, i'd like to see some experimentation to see if that is true.


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