Documenting my professional brewing education: The Brewing Student Journal


21 Fun Beer Facts
Fun beer facts organized into 21 topics to impress and amaze your beer geek friends.
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Process to conduct Brewing Experiments.

It is all about the journey, not only the destination. In my work as pragmatic beer scientist, a key aspect is to have a robust process to conduct experiments. In an ideal world, you would be able to layout a lab method, and have every experiment follow the same lab method exactly, so that you can verify and validate that any variance in result was caused be the variable that you manipulated. 


For example, in an ideal world, you could conduct an experiment that increases mash temperature by 3 degrees F and then taste the resulting beer and say "Ahh. This beer has 1% more malty body as a direct result of the higher mash temp".


However, keep in mind that we are dealing with agricultural products and nature. The barley is grown in different crop years, will have some variances during the harvesting, kilning and storage processes. Hops are grown in different crop years and have some variances as result of harvesting, packaging, and storage. 


With so many variables in just the ingredients, the chances of being able to precisely replicate any recipe are slight. This is a challenge that a brewing scientist reluctantly comes to accept. However, it is a delight for the consumer who continually gets new experiences and can celebrate the differences in each batch of craft beer. 


Which brings us to the process for an effective experiment. 

1. Decide what the goal is for the experiment, and write it down clearly.

2. Consider the variables and impacts of the experiment. (If mash temp increases, what else is impacted, such as lower hop utilization due to higher wort density?)

3. Make a checklist to measure all variables during the process, including volumes, pH and temperature.

4. After conditioning, and packaging, evaluate the beer. Are you able to determine the impact of the variable, and can you replicate it?


This isn't easy, but sure is fun. 

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