Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So You Want to Open a Brewery, Huh?

Hold your horses there buddy! If you read Gene's post on Monday than you've probably either gotten a homebrew kit, plan on buying a homebrew kit, or live vicariously though us. Much like people who purchase bread machines, you'll soon find that you're probably not going to be making as many batches of home-brew as you thought, but don't despair! Here's a few simple lessons in realism which might help you find your way to beer guru-hood (which Gene and I still hope to attain):

Plan a couple months ahead.

Beer takes a while to brew, but don't sweat it if you've gone an extra week or two in the primary or secondary fermenter. It might change the flavor, but there's a chance it's for the better. With my busy and sometimes unpredictable schedule, I don't think I have ever done what I was supposed to in any given week according to the brew timeline. However, I didn't let it bother me and things have (luckily) always turned out fine.

The gist of what I am saying is that if you're planning to brew and you know you've got an open Saturday, make sure that in two weeks you won't be in a tent in Madagascar and that in seven weeks you won't be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Unless you're Billionaire Richard Branson you probably don't need to worry about this, but holidays and kid stuff can be planned around.

After your first batch you'll probably get five times faster.

Learning how to effectively use your time is really about practice and laziness. Practice is important to keep you from putting clean things down on dirty surfaces and to minimize additional clean time. Laziness is important because after your first batch you'll want to become an expert at minimizing dishes. My first time through I didn't have a good grasp of the tools I'd actually need or in what order I'd need them. Needless to say, stuff got prematurely dirty and sometimes I had the wrong solution in a bucket I needed "right now." Now, I'm a master of bucket order for cleanser, sanitizer, and dry stuff and things go much faster.

Don't clean your bottles until you need them.

It might seem like having moldy disgusting bottles is a problem that should be taken care of swiftly, but I feel that it's more important to clean just before use. In my first batch, I cleaned the bottles ahead of time only to have to clean them a second time to get out the new mold, cat hair, and questionable mouse poop that had accumulated in the weeks between.

Don't worry if your first batch gets messed up.

Gene covered this in his post on Monday but I wanted to reiterate that you're not going to be awesome at this on the first go-around. You'll learn more about "what to not do next time" than you'll probably get right. If you fantasize about opening a brewery, put in the time at home and learn. Don't let the end-game strategy prevent you from making the first play.

That said, if you've got loads of capital and want to open a brewery, let me introduce you to my friend Gene...

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