Gordon Strong vs Brulosophy

Discussion in 'General Beer Discussion' started by strange-steve, Dec 7, 2017.

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  1. Dec 7, 2017 #1

    strange-steve

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    I just bought Brewing Better Beer by Gordon Strong, and even though I'm only about a quarter of the way through, one of the things I keep noticing is that much of the advice, things he says are important/have a big impact, tips for better brewing etc are things which Brulosophy have tested and shown no significant result, ie. make no noticeable difference.

    I also have Jamil Zainasheff's book Brewing Classic Styles, and the same thing is true, many of his recommendations are things which Brulosophy have "proved" superfluous.

    On this forum even, whenever advice is given, often someone will link a Brulosophy exbeeriment which says the contrary.

    Now I find the Brulosophy site really interesting reading, but I wonder if they are perhaps doing many brewers (particularly new brewers) a disservice by suggesting that the details generally aren't that important. Some examples of the things I'm talking about are:

    Yeast pitch rate
    Boil length
    Fermentation temperature
    Step/decoction mashing
    Mash pH

    I'm not suggesting all these things definitely make a huge difference, nor am I suggesting that the Brulosophy experiments are worthless, but I don't think it's a coincidence that the best brewers I know from around the Irish brew clubs are all pedantic when it comes to brewing, likewise famous and successful brewers such as Zainasheff and Strong.

    I'm interested to hear other thoughts on this :hmm:
     
  2. Dec 7, 2017 #2

    Ajhutch

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    As a statistics graduate, I tend to wince when I read the Brulosophy stuff. I'd prefer to see well over a hundred samples, especially as they use lots of different tasting panels and should be considered meta-data.

    Interestingly though I draw a slightly different conclusion than you. I think that the conclusions, if properly caveated and the small print read carefully, can point out that brewers shouldn't sweat stuff. But I do think Strong and Jamil are great people to read and philosophically I try my best to follow their advice.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  3. Dec 7, 2017 #3

    foxy

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    I have a lot of brewing books but my go to book is Gordon Strong's Brewing Better Beer, I like the fact to that he does give credit for some of his techniques which he has picked up from other brewers and books he himself has read, Ray Daniels is one that comes to mind. His recipe book is good also.
     
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  4. Dec 7, 2017 #4

    Slid

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    This is a subject I have given some thought to recently.

    I do feel the what Brulosophy bring to the brewing community is a general sense of confidence that brewing fast-turn-around, nice drinkable beer is easy and basically uncomplicated. The message that comes through with most of their stuff is that basic cleaning and sanitising and using modern equipment and methods with a sound, scientifically based recipe is going to get you good beer.

    The results show that the details on this or that and the here-to-fores are basically not distinguishable to any great extent to guys who just like to drink beer.

    None of their experiments that I have read tend to go out towards the 3 months stage post pitching, which is when I actually start enjoying the beers I make. That would be very tedious from a scientific standpoint, I do concede.

    I like to imagine that quite a lot of the forum content does try to push outside the slightly narrow envelope of the Brulosophy experiments, but acknowledge the fact that these experiments add a level to practical knowledge.
     
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  5. Dec 7, 2017 #5

    Slid

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    Yes indeed, AJHutch makes the same point I (sort of) made that "sweating the small stuff" misses the real point.

    Kudos, mate!
     
  6. Dec 7, 2017 #6

    Sadfield

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    Totally this. Of all the homebrewers and pro-brewers I've met or know.


    "Inspiration is the impact of a fact on a well-prepared mind" Louis Pasteur
     
  7. Dec 7, 2017 #7

    strange-steve

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    You could well be right, in that for general brewing the minor details are in fact minor. Both those books I mentioned are geared towards competition brewing, so perhaps it's only in those circumstances that the small stuff becomes important.
     
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  8. Dec 7, 2017 #8

    strange-steve

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    That's a good point and something that I noticed also. Like yourself I tend to prefer a little more age on most of my beers.
     
  9. Dec 7, 2017 #9

    Ajhutch

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    Indeed. I think we see on this forum the difference between "casual" brewers and those who hold themselves to a higher standard. Neither is right or wrong per se, just different.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  10. Dec 7, 2017 #10

    Braufather

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    I like the way the brulosophy keep it simple. On the back of them, I only use one fv, let brew sit for up to 4 weeks on trub and have with my latest brew followed thier advice with gelatin and also force carbing.
     
  11. Dec 7, 2017 #11

    Sadfield

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    It's also the point when any ill effects or flavour changes can become more apparent.

    "Inspiration is the impact of a fact on a well-prepared mind" Louis Pasteur
     
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  12. Dec 7, 2017 #12

    Bigcol49

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    Hi!
    The experiments on Brulosophy prove nothing, but they demonstrate that some of the "sacred cows" of homebrewing may not be written on tablets of stone.
     
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  13. Dec 8, 2017 #13

    IainM

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    I've got a theory about why there is a the miss-match between Brulosophy and expert advice. All the things like proper pitch rate, oxygenation, consistent and appropriate fermentation temp, pitching the starter at the same temp as the wort, and so on, are all best practice. The Brulosophy guys tend to stick with best practice and alter only one thing at a time. Brewing is robust in as much as being a bit slack on any one individual thing won't make a massive difference as long as everything else is in order, and hence they don't get bad beer when they only mess with one parameter. However, amateur brewers wanting to improve their beer aren't brewing under the same conditions as the xBmt. Often they are deficient on multiple fronts and just identifying and improving the most serious can give major gains and offset some deficiencies in other areas. For instance, when I started taking expert advice seriously, I stopped cutting corners in multiple areas. I made sure I always chilled to pitching temp before pitching, I stopped being a cheap-skate and started using a pitching rate calculator, I made a stir plate to build healthy starters (cheers Steve!), and started using a mixer on a drill to aerate thoroughly. Doing this resulted in a step change in the quality of the beer and a reduction in the amount of conditioning time needed. The more recent transition to using a properly controlled brew fridge instead of an fv-in-bucket-with-aquarium-heater, has been accompanied by a more modest improvement. If I'm right, then with the whole process up to scratch I reckon I would be more able to get away with dropping the ball in one of these areas, not that I would want to.

    Actually, I think this view is pretty well grounded in the cellular biology of yeast. Yeast has multiple sensory inputs, such as secreting and detecting peptides to communicate with other yeast cells, in order to find out if its part of a healthy initial population during growth phase, as well as using hsp proteins to detect temperature sensitive molecular changes, and thus find out if it is out of its comfort zone or if there is a quick change in temperature, and the detection of whether it has enough lipids / oxygen / nutrients through homeostasis.

    Now, all of these sensory inputs manifest as changes in gene expression, and all these signals are integrated together through the yeast's gene transcription network. Basically, the yeast combines them and may change how it behaves and the molecules it produces. It takes account of all these things and chooses whether to initiate stress responses and, for instance, activate metabolic pathways that produce fusal alcohols.

    In short, the amateur brewer's yeast is skittish and has multiple warning signals from multiple detection systems, and all it takes is one particularly strong signal, such as too high fermentation temp or too low pitching rate, for the yeast to be pushed over the edge. The Brulosophy guys, however, know what they're doing. Their yeast is fairly relaxed so only messing with one parameter, even severly, isn't enough to push it over the edge and into beer-tainting emergency routines.
     
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  14. Dec 8, 2017 #14
    The Brulosophy experiments show that several practices do not alter the final beer in a way that can be detected by Mr Average more often than by chance. However, for the people who can detect the difference, the flaws may be catastrophic. A short boil with resultant DMS may not be picked up by everyone's palate but could be horrible to the poor folk who notice it.
     
  15. Dec 8, 2017 #15

    Bigcol49

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    Hi!
    Assuming, of course, that a short boil produces DMS in the wort.
    I think that you have a valid point about individual perceptions. There must be beer drinkers with a low tolerance to DMS who would reject a beer that other drinkers would find acceptable.
     
  16. Dec 8, 2017 #16

    Dexter101

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    I've only recently started reading Brulosophy and so far its really interesting but tends to be very specific. One article that springs to mind regarding extended boil times and flavour production. The theory is that extended boil times create more caramelised flavours. Brulosophy suggest this doesn't happen however they were topping up with water to keep the same volume... Surely the idea would be to concentrate the wort more rather than keep diluting it back down? I know you probably would want to increase the original volume or mash amounts to account for this but then you would get more caramelised flavours surely?

    It seems to create more discussion that it solves in my mind.
     
  17. Dec 8, 2017 #17

    Gunge

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    Stuff all this... I'm sticking with Gungolosophy - I know exactly what I want and how to achieve it, not some sciency types with equations and spreadsheets. It's beer fercrissake.
     
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  18. Dec 8, 2017 #18

    MyQul

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    I'm with Slid on this that all it really proves is that beer and brewing is more robust that you think (I sure any who is here long enough will noticed the amount of Q. 'is my brew infected? A. No it looks fine,' threads we get on the forum). Don't sweat the small stuff, If you just want to make beer.

    It's when start to get 'deep' into brewing that I'm not so sure how much it proves. I think Brulosopher himself uses the caveat to his experiments that they're only one date point, and although I only vaguely know what this means, I understand, as AJhutch points out, that you need to do a lot more testing to actually prove anything.

    I know that not everything that commercial brewers do transfer to the HB scale but another critiscim that I read on another forum. If some of the things that Brulosopher has 'proved' were true, why aren't big commercial brewers doing them? As in that world, even the tiniest margin will mean hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds/dollars

    I've recently gone 'back to basics' and doing this has cleared up a major flaw in my beers that I've had recently since trying to cut too many corners. I've even gone to doing 90min boils.
     
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  19. Dec 8, 2017 #19

    MyQul

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    This is the idea of marginal gains, whereby you look at every area you can think of and improve it a tiny bit. The incease in (quality) of lots of small parts is supposed to lead to a big overall improvement. Think I might start doing this too seeing as I've also gone 'back to backs'
     
  20. Dec 8, 2017 #20

    Bigcol49

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    Hi!
    Yes, 100% agree. If something works for you, then keep on doing it. If it doesn't work - get shot!
     
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