Yeah, why be all normal and stick to the schedule? ;-) Besides, I like it when I get to read Fermentation Friday posts early. Maybe you do too? Go on over to World of Brews where Matt lays it all out for us in this month's Fermentation Friday announcement. See you this Friday.
What's normal anyway? I think Matt's writing about taking risks. I'll interpret this one to mean. How do you take risks and expand your skills by getting some experience under your belt.
Got hops on my mind lately. Growing hops in my backyard felt pretty risky in the beginning. I didn't know how to grow them and I didn't know how to use them. Now its seems like second nature. Honestly waiting for them to grow proved harder than planting, picking, drying and growing. Of course building the 18 foot high trellis system covering a 100 x 50 foot area in Gavin's yard is a bit out of the norm, but, that was Gavin's idea...and backyard ;-)
How about that first recipe I formulated on my own. Talk about nerve wracking. I could be wasting 5 gallons of beer if it didn't turn out right. Don't laugh. That's how I felt. Now I formulate all my recipes either by using other's as inspiration, trying to improve mine or just thinking about what flavors I want in the mix. (with some help from BeerSmith)
In some ways my normal behavior forces me out of my comfort zone. I'm not very good at planning my brews weeks in advance as you may have noticed. I'd much rather brew on the fly which means I never have the exact ingredients on hand for a recipe. Each time I brew is a bit of an improvisation. Sometimes that means I might be forced to use a hefeweizen yeast to brew a pale ale with no wheat malt. It wasn't that great, but, it was interesting.
If buying a kit or buying the exact ingredients for a specific recipe is more typical, then racking a new batch onto the yeast cake of the previous brew is something different. Am I reaching now? How about continuous hopping throughout the boil? I've tried that as a method to get a fuller hop flavor. Worked pretty well. Late malt extract additions count right? Less carmelization and better hop utilization. How about splitting batches ad using two different yeasts or hops or adding honey or candy sugar?
Of course that stoutenporter I made almost five years ago is still sitting in a keg in the basement in all its molasses, coffee, brown sugar and skunky prehopped dark malt extract goodness/badness. I swear it tasted good with cake...'cause the cake sweetness took over. I keep trying to convince myself the champagne yeast will eventually turn it into a magical elixir. Heheh...fun to drag out every now and then and see people's faces.
Truthfully, I would not count any of these as stepping outside of the norm, for me today. That's the catch isn't it, the words "for me today". Hell, "brewing beer" once fell outside of my definition of normal. When I think of outside the norm I think of wild yeasts and pellicules or maybe brewing with choke cherries and a barrel. I'm gonna do it all it's just a matter of time and courage to take that risk.
Matt, I hope this inspires you. If you don't quite know how to go about it, why don't you blog about the adventure? Maybe we can put this loose community to good use. Ok, let's see what kinda deviant behavior those other homebrew bloggers are partaking in. (brewing behaviour of course...regarding the beer...oh forget it)
Take risks. Try something different. Its worth it in the long run.