Beer - Top 8 Keys to Improving Quality - 7 & 8
7. Practice Makes Perfect
Well, almost. It is a fact that the more you do something, the better you become at doing it. This holds true with brewing. Many brewers spend years just brewing the same beer in order to perfect it. As you progress in brewing, certain things will become second nature. With practice, concepts and techniques that initially require great effort to grasp will soon be so easy it will make you laugh.
Brew every chance you get. Experiment with new ingredients, different techniques, and different beer styles. Repeat a recipe that didn't turn out quite right. See if you get better results the second time around. The more frequently you brew, the easier it is to learn from your mistakes and successes. With practice, you will soon begin to better understand why and how different ingredients and procedures affect your finished beer.
8. Come To Your Senses
Sensory evaluation is another great tool that can help you improve the quality of your beer. Tasting and evaluating beer, whether it is your own, that brewed by a fellow home brewer, or a commercial example, is an excellent way to learn about beer and brewing. However, there is much more to it than simply drinking beer. Professional and home brewers learn to use sensory evaluation techniques to identify and describe the characteristics of beer. Using sensory evaluation, you can evaluate a beer in regards to both desirable characteristics and flaws. For example, a moderate level of diacetyl, which has a buttery flavor, is characteristic of the Bohemian pilsner style, but is considered a flaw in a Kolsch.
Thus, using sensory evaluation, you can learn to recognize the characteristics of different beer styles by tasting representative beers. If you brew an Irish dry stout and want to see how close you came to nailing the style, compare it to Guinness Extra Stout. Note differences and similarities between the two beers. If you find that your beer does not have quite as much roast character in the aroma as the Guinness, you can increase the proportion of roasted barley the next time you brew it.
You can also learn to recognize flaws. In this way you can use your sensory evaluation techniques along with your knowledge of brewing to improve the quality of your beer. If you discover a particular flaw in your beer and know the possible causes of the flaw, you can make changes in future brews to remedy the situation. For example dimethyl sulfide or DMS is a flavor compound that tastes and smells much like cooked sweet corn. It is generally regarded as a flaw in most beer styles. If you can detect the flavor and aroma of DMS in your beer, and you know that it is caused by slow cooling of wort or failure to obtain a vigorous boil, you can possibly prevent it the next time you brew. The ability to recognize such flaws and the knowledge of how to remedy them can be great assets in your quest to improve the quality of your beer.