Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge
— Charles Darwin
I must be different from most people. I tried my hand at home brewing in the early nineties. I made one passable stout. I could not tell you what kind. After repeated failures I gave up. I tried again in the spring of 2008. My first attempts were still awful, but there were enough people that talked about making good beer that I figured it must be possible. I kept reading about people that made one batch of beer and were hooked because it was so good! I could not understand what I was doing wrong. Everybody made it seem so easy.
I must have crossed some threshold with this last batch. I would not say I did anything different from before. I would not say I did everything perfectly. Still, this beer is amazing. I guess I have been suffering from the Dunning–Kruger effect. I thought I knew what I was doing. Clearly I did not.
Some people are lucky. I have to work at it. When I learned to cook, I am sure I was the same way, but I cooked all day every day and got paid to do it. I climbed that learning curve quick enough that I did not know it was there. Apparently at the rate I brew — about once a month — it takes me about two and a half years to get the basics down.
Here are a few things I have learned along the way.
- Close your valves
- Control your temperature
- Use the best ingredients you can find
- Know what you like
Now I am going to branch out. Cheeses and cured meats are next.