[Sca-cooks] brewing

Dragon dragon at crimson-dragon.com
Sat Jun 21 19:04:48 PDT 2008

Betsy Marshall did speak thusly:
>The joy of Homebrewing  by Charles Papazian has all you'll ever need to
>know- I recommend starting with one of the used volumes
---------------- End original message. ---------------------

As popular as that book is, it is not a very good reference for 
making GOOD beer.

His methods and recipes are workable, sometimes even palatable, but 
they are not GOOD.

One of my biggest bones to pick with his stuff (and mind you it has 
been a while since I last read it) is that he never talks about 
proper quantities of yeast to use. His recommendations on how much 
yeast to use are far below what professional brewers use and it shows 
in the results. Slow fermentations and off-flavors are to be expected 
with such small quantities of yeast.

To put it in perspective, he recommends using dry yeast as is without 
creating a starter or pitching the amount of yeast you get from a 
smack-pack. This very often results in DAYS of no indication of 
fermentation. A more effective strategy (and one that produces better 
beer) is to use a far greater volume of yeast. For a typical 6 gallon 
batch, I would pitch a full quart of active yeast slurry which I had 
grown into a starter of sufficient volume over the week or so before 
I brewed. My fermentations were active within an hour or so and done 
in about a third the time they took following the recommendations 
given by Papazian.

I also vehemently disagree with his recommendation to use champagne 
yeast for fermenting meads. That strain of yeast ferments things bone 
dry and leaves a nasty taste (IMO). There are much better yeasts to use.

Steeping grains in a grain bag is a bad process he recommends for 
augmenting the flavors of extract brews. These grains should be 
mashed at an appropriate starch conversion temperature, not allowed 
to steep at the temperatures he recommends (close to boiling). Then 
they should be properly sparged. Following his method leaches a lot 
of tannins into the wort, this is not good because it changes the 
flavor in an undesirable way and adds to the formation of sediment in 
the beer. I'm also not a big fan of extract brews in general, you 
simply can't make certain types of beer with extract and even when 
you can, the process of extracting all the water from it to make a 
syrup both darkens it and changes the flavor profile leaving it with 
a canned, cooked taste.

I am sure I could criticize a lot more items if I went back and 
re-read his book again, but I am far beyond that level. I learned a 
lot from professional brewers and Chris White (of White Labs, a yeast 
supplier to the brewing industry) back when I was actively brewing.

One of these days I'll get back into it and I really ought to write 
the book that should replace that one.


  Venimus, Saltavimus, Bibimus (et naribus canium capti sumus)

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