9 Brewing Principles You Can Apply to Your Life
Brewing is a beautiful process that dates back as far as 5,000 B.C. It is believed to be the first and oldest recipe in human history. It began with ancient Egyptians, later medieval brewers, after with abbey monks, and it continues today by many home brewers and breweries across the world. As brewers learn and become more experienced by brewing many batches and refining their brewing principles, certain patterns begin to emerge. Brewing principles often mimic life and offer valuable insights. Consider the following for a more strategic lifestyle:
1. Aim for balance.
Aiming for balance requires careful consideration of the recipe. The amount of bitterness must be balanced with the sweetness (except for hoppy styles). In life, you must aim for balance as well. If you take care of your important life squares like love, health, and finances, you’ll set yourself up for success.
2. Obsess about cleanliness.
In brewing, you need to clean, sanitize, and sterilize. Cleaning means removing impurities. Sanitizing means reducing the amount of germs to negligent levels. And sterilizing means zero germs. You just can’t be clean enough in brewing. Good cleaning practices will prevent all sorts of brewing headaches. In life, we must be impeccable with our word, thoughts, and actions. It’s not enough to just be against human injustices, for instance. You must do something about them. The difference between something clean and something sanitized matters a lot. Make this world a better place by making your actions better.
3. Quality beer needs quality ingredients.
The beer will only turn out as good as the ingredients used. That’s why world class breweries hand pick freshly harvested hops from the best hop farms. This is the hallmark of craft beer: using the most premium and natural ingredients. Follow this principle with every ingredient you decide to eat. Avoid any chemicals, GMOs, and use the best ingredients you can find and afford. You are what you eat—and what you drink.
4. Water is a fundamentally important ingredient.
In brewing, water is often the most undervalued ingredient, especially by beginners. More than 90% of beer is water. And what’s the percentage of water in the human body? Up to 60% of our bodies is water. And more than 70% of our brain and heart is water. Water is not only overrated, it’s overlooked. In brewing as in life, always ask: what fundamental ingredient am I overlooking? What important task could we be failing to consider that would yield the most results?
5. Stay focused.
The brewing process in a nutshell is essentially about converting starches into sugar, extracting those sugars, boiling them, adding bitterness (hops), cooling it, and adding the yeast that will turn those sugars into alcohol. Your ideas and projects, like excellent beer, need the focus and clarity of what you hope to extract, and how you wish to ferment those ideas into something of value. Think in terms of extraction. In life ask: How will I extract as much [sugar] and provide the most value? Stay focused on the essence in everything you do.
6. Time is your best friend.
Beer is very complex. With the exception of a few beer styles, beer will age gracefully with time. Time is your best friend. Time can even turn an okay beer into a delicious one. Beer that’s conditioned or conditioning will improve. This happens when the yeast is still active, slowly changing the chemistry of the beer. Time is the most precious asset in life. You can’t get it back. Set yourself up so that whatever you do, like aging, only gets better with time.
7. Always take detailed notes.
Especially in the beginning, it’s easy to keep track of your brews and remember the things that you did. But then you brew dozens, then hundreds, and then oops, you forgot. In your path to improve your beers, make sure you always take detailed notes so that you can keep track of what worked or didn’t work. Can you take notes of your life events? Perhaps you could journal. This blog is my detailed notes. Find out how any form of notes could help you.
8. Seek to improvise.
Things will go wrong. They always do. One time I broke a thermometer in the wort (unfermented beer). Another time, a brand new siphon decided not to work. Improvisation will be your best resource. Make friends with setbacks and trust your resourcefulness in finding solutions. Become a problem solver. What better skill to learn than mastering improvisation?
9. Be Bold.
In brewing as in life, we must be bold. The only way to get better in brewing is to try new things, make small experiments, and deviate from a recipe. Try Incorporating your local fruit in your beer. What new adjuncts can you use? What happens if you use different percentages of yeast? And why do you need to be bold? Because you may ruin some beer batches. But then you learn. So how can you be more bold in your life? What new courses of action will you try? Be bold, be world-class, like a brew master.
Juan F. Diaz
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