“I’m not thinking straight, why did I have that wine cooler last month?” – Ned Flanders
I’ve always adhered to the immortal words of Charlie Papazian while homebrewing, “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew.” But then, something crazy happened which threatened the golden mantra I’ve always lived by while cooking up 5 gallons: a morning brew time.
Like an 8:00am class in college, a too-early tee time, a long run with friends at sunrise – just starting things a wee bit sooner than is ideal. That was my last brew day. The window was in the morning. Brew it or lose it. Typically I’m pouring that first pint when I’m pre-heating the mash tun, but it was 9:30am. Would it make me a degenerate to drink beer that early? Probably, but more importantly a beer at breakfast sounded about as appetizing as mustard on eggs. A banana would do.
Before I knew it, I was mashing at 152, then later collecting the perfect volume from sparging. I remembered to put in Whirlfloc, yeast nutrient, even measured out my hops with a scale instead of eyeballing. Every ingredient went into the pot at the exact time it was supposed to, and guess what: I hit all my numbers. The brew day felt like a metaphor for the precision of Swiss timing.
By early afternoon, still no beer has touched my lips. Why mess with a winning streak, right? It was feeling a little weird, but that was overshadowed by the satisfaction of knowing I was on my way to a winning pale ale. Don’t worry, I still had that homebrew…after I pitched the yeast. Thinking I might try the “Teetotaler Brew Day” approach again, immoral as it sounds. I know brewing with a clear head helped improve the final product. If I start in the morning (but not too early) I won’t be tempted and the beer will be a nice reward at the end of the session. So consider this my conversion step from happy four hours to just happy hour, with the forecast of better beer at my home brewery.