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Fine Grain Knowledge vs Abstraction in the Brewing Process

Published on March 25th, 2021

A friend recently pointed to the classic 1998 brewing text by Ray Daniels titled Designing Great Beers : The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles and pointed out the need for fine grain knowledge when it comes to beer recipe development. I used to have the same discussion with web designers a decade ago. Abstraction is a useful tool and we all enjoy the benefits of abstraction throughout our lives; but nothing really beats having fine grain knowledge when the shit hits the fan.

In my past life I was a web developer. Specifically, I would hand code quality HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) with attention to usability, accessibility and cross platform consistency. In short, I was a fine grain knowledge kind of guy. And I used to tell these DreamWeaver coders that it’s all fine until something breaks – then you need to know that code backwards. You need to be able to go into that code that makes the look and feel and functionality and understand how to tweak the fine pieces to fix issues.

Being a web developer isn’t just about making websites – it’s about understanding and employing web technologies to achieve a desired result. On reflection of what my friend was saying about the Ray Daniels book, I have to agree. While you don’t absolutely need to know the fine grain knowledge of brewing math and science to make beer, you will make better beer with those levers available.

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Homebrew All-Stars (Book Review)

Published on March 3rd, 2021

Homebrew All-Stars cover

At Christmas I received a copy of Homebrew All-Stars by Drew Beechum and Denny Conn. Well, to be honest, I’d bought myself a copy of this book for Christmas (because I’m a big fan of their podcast Experimental Brewing) only to discover my other-half had bought me a copy as well. So I’ve read and am keeping her gift copy and have the extra good fortune to have one to pass onto somebody. That’s a win-win, I think. The first comment I’d like to make about Homebrew All-Stars is that it has extremely high production values from the copy and editing right down to the quality of paper stock and photography. Self-publishing authors should take note of this value from the customer perspective – quality professional publishing makes all the difference. This is a book that will pass on to another home brewer after I’m gone. Plus that copy I have to give away.

A quick flick through shows what a lovely coffee-table homebrewing book is all about. There isn’t any need to start in any specific place and it’s broken down into easily digestible pieces. Think of information design as the enzymatic action of the authors and editors breaking down complex sugars into simple sugars so you, the reader yeast, can consume the information.

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Some of my Favourite Beer Ingredients

Published on February 26th, 2021

As a committed home brewer it’s a natural thing to have favourite beers and favourite ingredients that go into those beers. Yes, I’m one of those lone wolves of the home brewing scene because I don’t belong to any club, and I’m not interested in meeting specific style guidelines for competition. What I’m interested in is making beer that is at least as good as the craft beer that I buy. Hopefully, sometimes, fresher and better beer than I can buy. Pouring a super fresh XPA into a glass from my own fridge is a special experience.

Home Brewing Motto

My home brewing motto is simply to love the beer you’re with. Sometimes it’s not the beer you set out to make, but is it a good beer? If so, enjoy the hell out of that beer and make another one. Another way of saying that is don’t expect perfection because perfection is like a rainbow and you’ll never get to the end. Chasing rainbows is fun; just do it knowing tomorrow is another beer. Keep it real.

Home Brewing Philosophy

My home brewing philosophy is pretty simple, too. Follow your tongue. I’m not much into the style guidelines as a Bible of right and wrong; I am into whether or not it’s a Porter in my glass or a Pale Ale as far as I want to describe one. If it tastes good, then drink it. And if your tongue suggests you might like to tweak the flavours, then it’s your experience to experiment and enjoy. Experimentation is fun. I have a basement riddled with bottles of experiments that keep paying off in my glass.

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More Articles on

  1. Performance Manage an Employee out of a Job?
  2. A Natural History of Beer (Book Review)
  3. Fine Grain Knowledge vs Abstraction in the Brewing Process
  4. Homebrew All-Stars (Book Review)
  5. Some of my Favourite Beer Ingredients

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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