×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

What Beer Can Teach Us About Emerging Technologies

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the cause-of-and-solution-to dept.

Beer 131

cold fjord writes that Assistant Professor and lecturer Dave Conz has an interesting article at Slate, from which: "I believe beer is the perfect lens through which to examine innovation, which is why I teach a senior capstone course at Arizona State University called the Cultural and Chemical History of Beer. ... Home brewing is part of a broad spectrum of DIY activities including amateur astronomy, backyard biodiesel brewing, experimental architecture, open-source 3-D printing, even urban farming. ... Many of these pastimes can lead to new ideas, processes, and apparatus that might not otherwise exist. Depending on your hobby and your town, these activities can be officially encouraged, discouraged, unregulated, or illegal. For example, it's illegal to make biodiesel fuel at home in the city of Phoenix ... but not regulated in the bordering towns of Scottsdale, Chandler, or Tempe."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

131 comments

I'll need to tell that to my employer (4, Funny)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171451)

"Beer brewing a source of innovation. Send me on a training, ASAP plz".

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39171525)

What beer can teach us about emerging technologies: none of them were invented by niggers!*

* Unless you count peanut butter or holding a pistol sideways like an idiot.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39171719)

or holding a pistol sideways like an idiot

Why do they do that anyway? Really want to know. Does it make shooting easier?

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39171837)

Faster. The spring in the magazine doesn't have to overcome the gravity and therefore the bullets get into the gun faster.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171851)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Side_grip [wikipedia.org]

There is no real reason to do so. It's a fashion statement. But, in most situations in which it is done, is not one that rises to the level of idiocy. And, in a few situations such as holding high recoil, rapid fire weapons on the battlefield sideways so that they spray horizontally rather than vertically, it makes sense.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172567)

Uhhhhh - I challenge. You go to a range, and fire a moderately large caliber weapon upright, then sideways. Fire some nice rapid bursts in both positions. Then, please report back about that sideways recoil. I'll really be interested in the results. I, for one, don't believe that the laws of physics are altered by the position in which you hold the weapon. As the bullet is launched out the barrel, gravity and recoil are going to work in precisely the same way. The recoil will drive the weapon UPWARD, not sideways.

Note, that my challenge involves a moderately large caliber weapon. If you should ignore that "moderately large" part, and opt for a huge assed elephant gun, you'll likely be wearing the barrel of your chosen weapon in your skull, and holding your aching - if not broken - wrist after the first rapid fire volley while holding the weapon sideways.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39172727)

You're apparently pretty physics challenged. Maybe you should go stumble around wikipedia for a while.

Recoil kicks straight back along the barrel axis, and has nothing to do with gravity. Since your grip is below (in the standard grip) the barrel, the recoil + the forward force from your hand that keeps the gun more-or-less stationary generate a moment, which rotates the gun upward. Change the grip, you change the moment axis, and thus the rotation plane.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39176853)

Change the grip, you change the moment axis, and thus the rotation plane and thus the amount of connective tissue, or lack thereof, between your hand and your thumb.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (3, Informative)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172825)

What exactly does gravity have to do with it at all? And what is this fundamental part of recoil that produces an upward force.

My brain can really only see newton's second applying a force opposite that of the one making the bullet travel out of the gun. So essentially straight backwards.

Except of course the guns center of gravity is unlikely to be exactly in line with that force and so you get torque. Also you are holding the gun below where that force is being applied providing a pivot for the same conversion into torque.

This doesn't cause the gun to be driven upward, it causes it to rotate. If you were to holsd the gun sideways that same pivot would now cause the gun to rotate sideways.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39173049)

"The recoil will drive the weapon UPWARD, not sideways"

How? Magic?

When you hold a weapon upright the barrel is above your hand, if you hold it sideways the barrel is on the side of your hand. that is like sticking a bottle rocket(or some other firework) on the side of a rc car.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

Scarred Intellect (1648867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39173679)

Mythbusters covered this. Not for the recoil, but for accuracy. If I remember correctly, the recoil was in line with what nedlohs (1335013) said below:

Except of course the guns center of gravity is unlikely to be exactly in line with that force and so you get torque. Also you are holding the gun below where that force is being applied providing a pivot for the same conversion into torque.

This doesn't cause the gun to be driven upward, it causes it to rotate. If you were to holsd the gun sideways that same pivot would now cause the gun to rotate sideways.

I noticed that holding the gun sideways did cause it to rotate in the same direction as when it was fired upright, respective to its orientation (in other words, fired upright, it rotates up; fired sideways, it rotates sideways).

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (0)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172399)

You forgot blood transfusions. BTW, "nigger" is considered a bad word. You should get out of your parents basement and go to the nearest town with a large African-American population and ask someone, "What do you niggers prefer to be called?"

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39171587)

Never seen anyone so eager to wash things. Kettles, instruments, bottles, everything. Brewing is a never ending sanitization process. If that's what you'd rather be doing, then you should go for it.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (2)

John3 (85454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171721)

Sanitation is important, but it's really just at two or three points in the process. Sanitize the primary fermenter, then just before transfer you sanitize the secondary fermenter, and then sanitize the bottles/keg before bottling. Air dry sanitizers and a bottle drying rack makes it pretty painless.

It does work best as a hobby if you work with someone else. Brewing alone can be tedious, brewing with friends or your spouse is an enjoyable way to do something together.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (5, Informative)

gcore (748374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171845)

As a homebrewer, sure, the sanitation may look like that. But in an actual brewery, things are a bit different. In the brewhouse: the malt mill, the mash tun, the lauter tun, the wort kettle, the whirlpool, the plate heat exchanger, all pipes and lines connecting them. The malt silos should also be cleaned, but not on a weekly basis or once a day. The fermentation cellar: floor, hoses, pipes, fittings, propagation vessels, fermentation tanks, lager tanks, equipment for analysis. Several times a day. The filter: floor, fittings, hoses, pipes, the filtration devices, pressure tanks. This needs to be done several times a day. Filling hall: beer line from the filter, filling cylinders, the filling machines, rinsers, floors, transport bands... yeah, just about everything in the filling hall because at that point, the quality of the beer can not be improved, just maintained. Oh, and crates, bottles. Here everything needs to be sanitized several times a day. At a modern brewery, there's ALOT of cleaning. At any given time, if you find yourself without anything to do you can always go and swab the floors with sodium hydroxide or chlorine. In many cases in a brewery, sanitation needs to be done BEFORE and/or AFTER each process. But yeah, different for most homebrewers.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171905)

I've heard it said the difference between a homebrewer and a pro is like the difference between a internal skeleton and an exoskeleton, in that a homebrewer sanitizes by putting stuff into the kitchen (or basement) sink, whereas the pro takes sanitizing solution out of the sink and into the apparatus because its so big.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39172121)

Pretty much. That, and the sanitizers we use are somewhat more...industrial strength. Peracetic acid is nasty stuff, but it works like a charm

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (3, Interesting)

gcore (748374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172237)

Yeah, that's pretty much true! Breweries uses CIP (Cleaning In Place), and that means pumping large amounts of cleaning agents (usually sodium hydroxide and some acid, phosphoric, nitric or other) for about two hours depending on what tank, tun, pipe, hose. And large amounts of water. I have only worked at breweries. I'm a computer geek too, but I've never had the same passion for computers as I do brewing. Unless you're working in an office at a brewery, you're going to do alot of cleaning. At my previous job, I probably spent tree days a week swabbing floors, cleaning tanks, pipes and hoses. A brewery is the only place I've found that has everything I'm interested in: chemistry, physics, automation and control systems, biochemistry, microbiology, biotechnology and brewing. The brewing process is generally regarded as the oldest practice of biotechnology. You convert the starch, proteins, amino acids and alot more when you make malt out of grain. In the mash tun, you convert the remaining starches, proteins, beta-glucans etc to sugar and nutrition for the yeast. When you boil the wort, you coagulate proteins, isomerise (sorry, bad english. Not native language) the alpha acids in hops so they become soluable and more bitter. Mailard reactions gives the wort color and more flavour. Well, no need to ramble on. If someone would like some basic insight in the science behind the malting and brewing process, I recommend Beer: Tap Into The Art and Science of Brewing, buy Charles Bamforth. http://www.amazon.com/Beer-Tap-into-Science-Brewing/dp/0195305426/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330353116&sr=8-1 [amazon.com] Or this video with Charles Bamforth called Advanced Chemistry of Beer and Brewing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2Hk_FV8c-w [youtube.com] Oh, and I recommend anyone who are interested in beer and brewing to check out some homebrewing clubs that may be avalible in your area. Or check out http://www.homebrewtalk.com/ [homebrewtalk.com] Homebrewing clubs is a good forum where you can learn and discuss brewing, hacking together improvements to the brew rig and brew beer with other people with the same interests.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39172553)

As a homebrewer, I have NEVER just put my equipment into the kitchen sink - and neither has any of my other buddies that brew beer. We all use special cleaners to clean every single item that comes in contact with the beer/wort. You cannot just clean your equipment like you do household dishes - that is not clean enough. Sanitizing the equipment generally takes me longer than the actual brewing process, and is one the most important step in brewing beer.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39175867)

As a homebrewer, I have NEVER just put my equipment into the kitchen sink - and neither has any of my other buddies that brew beer. We all use special cleaners to clean every single item that comes in contact with the beer/wort.

Where do you dump the used solution out, the floor? I am semi seriously curious. I have a floor drain in my 60 year old basement which I could use, but then I'll be standing in water and its gonna be a huge mess. Also I used plain tap water to initially clean on the assumption I want sanitizer to sanitize the surfaces not the dust that may have settled. Get it as clean as you can with tapwater, then sanitize... I certainly don't bother brewing or sanitizing outside (aside from weather issues, its filthy out there)

I'm curious how much cleaning is encouraged by cleaner manufacturers. I have no interest in filth being in my wine and beer, and see no point in not trying my best. That said, on my worst days, I still work to standards that would be heroic and unachievable 200 years ago. I've toured some "professional" filthy wineries with open primary fermenters. I think there's more than a little FUD going on.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39176773)

ALOT, that's the opposite of ALITTLE, right? Or is it the absence of LOT? I can never remember...

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (2)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172887)

No reason to sanitize the kettle. You are going to be boiling stuff in it for at least an hour. That will make it plenty sanitized.

I have a big bucket I fill with no-rise, food safe, sanitization solution (starsan), I clean everything before I put it away, so I just rise out any dust and drop it all in the bucket. I then fill a spray bottle with solution from the bucket (for spot sanitation). I leave everything in the bucket while not in use. When the boil is done, I pull the immersion cooler out of the solution and cool down the wort, then I transfer all the solution from the bucket it is in to the bottling bucket. This frees up a bucket for fermentation. I transfer the wort to the bucket, pitch my yeast and stick a lid and blow-off tube on it.

While I do that, anything that touches anything "unclean" gets spot sanitized with the spray bottle (starsan has a 10 second contact sanitation).

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 2 years ago | (#39173807)

Bleach diluted in water is a good sanitizer too; that's what I usually use. I save the star-san for kegging and for de-odorizing athletic clothing when a sanitary cycle in the washing machine doesn't do the trick.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39174751)

You'd be better off using vinegar for your stanky clothes.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39175971)

Bleach isn't food safe though, it has to be rinsed off. If you don't rinse it at the very least your risk off flavors in your beer. That's why I like starsan, you can just dip stuff in it and use it, no need to rinse (in fact, rinsing makes it less sanitary). When I bottle I just fill the bottom with starsan, drain back into bucket, put the bottle on the tree and fill (typically the bottom is full of starsan foam while filling).

Bleach just seems to add an extra layer of work. I did use bleach once on my first brew when I realized I didn't buy a sanitizer with no issues, but I was afraid the whole time I wouldn't rinse everything clean of the bleach.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39176009)

I used to be really anal when I first started homebrewing, about sanitizing EVERYTHING....

As I got to doing it more and more, I found that you just have to be clean...I have a bucket for sanitizing solution...and things that are gonna touch the wort go in there...etc.

But things like doing all grain...some times I'd not remember to 'sanitize' my coiled wort chiller...but I figured hey, it's going into a boiling liquid, so, that will sanitize it.

I don't think you have to worrry that much till the wort starts to come down in temperature, at which point, you start to be more careful....

But I'm reading on here people home brewing, seeming to sanitize, bleach, wash, sanitize some more...etc.

You don't have to be anal about it....just common sense, and you'll be fine.

I've never had an infected batch yet...[knocks wood].

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

gcore (748374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39175715)

For a homebrewer who brews one brew per week, no. There's not much reason. But for a brewery that boils 40-50 brews per week, they need to do it. The wort kettle will accumulate alot of dirt over time. If you're using an internal heater, it will be covered by caramellized sugar that's pretty hard to remove without using strong cleaning agents. There will be little or no microbiological activity after a 60 minute boil, but the kettle will still be dirty from hop residue, proteins, calcium oxalate (beerstone) and fat. I've been inside a mash kettle that hasn't been properly cleaned for years. Rust, layers of grease, biofilm, burned sugar. It was all stainelss steel, but you couldn't tell from looking at it. The cleaning agents used also helps preserve the stainless steel that's used in most modern breweries.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39175911)

I in no way said you did not need to clean it.

Cleaning and sanitizing are two different things. I clean my brew kettle after every use, but I do not sanitize it. Luckily, because I'm a home brewer all I need is a hose and sometimes a little PBW. I doubt I could make good beer without cleaning my kettle.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

suppo (267896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39174671)

Parent is modded +5 Informative by a mod that has no clue. For a homebrewer basic kitchen clean is fine up to and including the boil. After that (fermentation and racking/syphoning to the secondary/bottles/keg) requires basic kitchen clean plus a sanitizer. No-rinse sanitizers are trivial to use. Pour/spray some in, rinse it around and drain. Not really rocket science. I allow the time it takes to play 18 holes of golf (5-6 hours) to get an all grain 10 gallon batch into the primary fermenter.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (3, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172373)

At my local Uni they have a brewmeister course. A lot of people say "cool, sign me up!" Until they discover they have to take biology, chemistry statistics, and all the other courses a professional brewmeister should have. Then they suddenly lose interest. Still, there is a waiting list. This is probably overkill for home brewers.

For home brewers, in my area kits are plentiful as are places who do on premise craft brewing. You rent the equipment, buy some materials, and brew your own. They even have pros who will teach the craft. On premise wine making is becoming popular as well. We live in a golden age....

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

Diss Champ (934796) | more than 2 years ago | (#39173319)

My employer already knows. We have beer (and wine) every friday afternoon starting at 4pm.

Re:I'll need to tell that to my employer (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 2 years ago | (#39174201)

My boss would probably be totally cool with that, since he's already a homebrewer. Hmmm...might have to schedule a "training session" sometime :)

Please vote Rick Santorum tomorrow! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39171483)

A vote for Rick Santorum is a vote for our history and a vote to honour our long Christian tradition here in the U S of A. Please - go out to the polls, and place a vote for Rick Santorum tomorrow. ty.

Re:Please vote Rick Santorum tomorrow! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39171549)

I would contend that the longest Christian tradition here in the U S of A is not trusting Catholics.

Re:Please vote Rick Santorum tomorrow! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39171685)

If you are "here in the U S of A", why did you spell "honour" like a Brit? Are you "on holiday" in the US or just trolling? And no, I'm not voting for Rick Santorum since I support Ron Paul!

Re:Please vote Rick Santorum tomorrow! (-1, Offtopic)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172629)

Rick Sanitorium? Which looney bin did he escape from?

Re:Please vote Rick Santorum tomorrow! (0)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39173293)

One one hand I want to say "Well, he's promoting Santorum so Obama will have the greatest chance of winning in the main election".

On the other hand, I know this is a troll. An incompetent troll, but a troll nonetheless.

Beer Goggles? (4, Funny)

pegasustonans (589396) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171533)

I believe beer is the perfect lens through which to examine innovation

The last time I used beer as a lens, I woke up surrounded by 15 naked people with spotty memories of sleeping with the babysitter.

Re:Beer Goggles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39171757)

Lucky you. I woke up next to Ms. Thundering Pegasus.

Beer goggles instead of safety goggles? (1)

TommyGunnRX (756664) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171541)

I wonder if, like the women in bars, the innovations only seem more innovative! I mean, who's to judge, your drunk buddy?

Tenure is a wonderful thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39171659)

...which is why I teach a senior capstone course at Arizona State University called the Cultural and Chemical History of Beer. ...

Now, Professor Conz, if you were really on the ball, you would've added pizza and wing making. Geeze!

I guess that's for the Ivy League professors ....

This is true (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171679)

Brewing is a passion and getting a "better" result for personal satisfaction or to beat a foe is well worth the wasted effort.
Also, procrastination and putting projects off with another project gets a lot of the wrong things done too. Look how clean and tidy things become before an exam. :)

Homebrew rebound (5, Interesting)

John3 (85454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171683)

I sell home beer and wine making supplies and ingredients in my hardware store. We've carried products since the mid-1990's and after a decline in activity there has been a big increase in the business in the last five years. I attributed the decline in home brew to the wide availability of micro-brews, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the hobby become popular again even with the large selection of craft beers in supermarkets. More and more of the brewers and wine makers are husband and wife, brewing as much to make drinkable beer/wine as they are trying to learn about the process. It's a small sample and our store is in an affluent suburb, but I'm encouraged by the number of people diving into this hobby which really touches on so many areas (cooking, science, and engineering/design to name a few). It's a natural product line for a hardware store because so much of the gear is just home-built gadgetry requiring plumbing, hardware, and housewares goods.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171771)

Yeah more people are being exposed to better beers and starting to realize just how bad most big-name American beers like Bud, Coors, etc. really are.

Re:Homebrew rebound (3, Interesting)

John3 (85454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171943)

When I first started brewing at home (about 1987) it was because all that was available locally was the watery American beers. As more and more craft brewers sprang up the price of quality beer dropped and it was easier to find it at local retail shops. Even my Stop & Shop has about 12' of decent craft beer (Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn Brewing) and at a reasonable price. I think for a while this caused a decline in the hobby...it became cheaper and easier to locate decent beer so people that brewed just to get good beer no longer needed to brew at home. Just the die-hards continued to brew their own beer, but in the last five years it has bounced back.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172211)

it became cheaper and easier to locate decent beer so people that brewed just to get good beer no longer needed to brew at home

That's like trying to argue that people only cook at home because there are not enough restaurants. "If they'd just open a Thai restaurant around here, then architects could stop putting kitchens in homes". Don't think so...

I'll be honest, several of my experiments in brewing tasted awful, much like some of my cooking experiments would have been best not eaten. The fun is in the experience of making it myself, my way. Its like solving a big puzzle.

The other part is brewing is "big enough work" that it becomes a social activity. You can make a social activity out of the alternative of driving to the liquor store and waiting in the checkout line, but trust me that brewing is much more fun.

The biggest problem I have with microbrews at the store is they sit there long enough under the lights to get old and skunky. Might have been good fresh, not so good after 6 months getting dusty on a shelf. Yuck. Laughably some people think skunky beer is the "new taste" microbrews are aiming for...

Re:Homebrew rebound (2)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172295)

I live in the Napa Valley of beer. Trust me, the stuff just flys off of the shelves, esp. on weekends. No time to get skunky. That's also what the pretty colored bottles are for, preventing the skuny-ness

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

suppo (267896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39174785)

Actually, it's brown bottles that inhibit the skunkiness. Light causes a reaction. Home science experiment: Pour a beer into a clear glass (made of glass) and let it sit in the sunlight for an hour.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39176141)

LOL, I was thinking the same things.

I live in New Orleans....there is NEVER dust on any beer, wine or liquor bottles at the grocery stores here....the product is in heavy demand, and has constant turn over.

I wonder where it is that the previous poster lives, that has beers that sit on the shelves so long they go 'skunky'?

Re:Homebrew rebound (3, Informative)

John3 (85454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172537)

it became cheaper and easier to locate decent beer so people that brewed just to get good beer no longer needed to brew at home

That's like trying to argue that people only cook at home because there are not enough restaurants. "If they'd just open a Thai restaurant around here, then architects could stop putting kitchens in homes". Don't think so...

Not really an accurate analogy. Cooking at home is cheaper than eating at the Thai restaurant, usually significantly. When you cook your Thai meal you don't need to wait two or three weeks to eat it, and you make much less of a mess in your kitchen than if you were brewing beer. Brewing beer at home costs the same as or more than equivalent micro-brews (assuming you have a decent beer retailer in your area), plus you need to do the work (cook, sanitize, and wait for fermentation to complete). So if you run out of India Pale Ale you can drive to Stop & Shop and plunk down $19.99 for a case of Sierra Nevada IPA (in the fridge), or mail order homebrew supplies (two cases worth of ingredients for $45), wait a week, brew the beer, wait a week, rack the beer, wait a week, bottle the beer, wait two weeks, and then drink it.

From my experience selling homebrew supplies for over 17 years, the increased availability of micro-brews definitely encouraged the casual home brewers to store the gear and stop brewing. In the mid-1990's there were many independent homebrew shops in our county, but they all went out of business by 2001. We considered dropping the products when business dipped, but as each independent shop closed we picked up a few more customers so our sales stayed basically level during this tough stretch. Many of the people that stopped brewing have started again as they enjoy the hobby, but the reasons for brewing at home are now purely for the enjoyment of the hobby versus the late 1990's when the lack of micro-brews was a big factor.

Interesting to note that homebrewing has been popular in England for much longer (it was essentially illegal in the US until 1979), but in England people brew to avoid the high beer taxes. They use sugar instead of malt for many recipes as they are brewing to save money. You can still see this when you read recipes on cans of British beer kits as they all refer to adding sugar, whereas most US homebrewers avoid sugar and use malt extract instead.

Re:Homebrew rebound (2)

Misanthrope (49269) | more than 2 years ago | (#39174885)

If it costs $45 for a 5 gallon batch you're probably selling extract beers with liquid yeast. As an all grain brewer who can yeast wash and buys hops in bulk I can knock out 5 gallons of APA for ~12-15 dollars.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

John3 (85454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39175057)

True, and brewers at your level have been consistent customers. It's the people doing the 5 gallon extract batches that are more fickle and inclined to stop brewing if reasonably priced quality beer can be purchased at a comparable price. For all grain brewers like yourself it definitely is cheaper to brew at home, although there is a significant investment in gear required (or significant time if you make your own gear). The gear can set you back a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on what quality and size you select. It can become an expensive hobby, but for several of my customers it became a profitable career (they opened brewpubs or got employment at breweries).

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 2 years ago | (#39175937)

There's nothing inherently expensive about all grain. All you have to do is soak grain in water at a specific temperature range for long enough for the enzymes present in the malted grain to convert starches to sugar and then rinse that sugar out of the grain. When I made the jump from extract brewer to all-grain, my only equipment purchases were a $20 5-gallon round igloo cooler, a $3 5-gallon paint strainer bag from Lowe's and a $10 digital thermometer. The grain sat in the bag in the cooler to mash (statch-to-sugar conversion). Then I drained the bag into the kettle and added a second batch of water to the cooler to soak the grain a final time to get out more sugar (and hit my taget pre-boil volume). You can check out forums like homebrewtalk for some good advice on how to get into partial mash and all-grain cheaply. Equipment is one of those things that will cost what you're willing to spend.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

John3 (85454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39176227)

Very true, and we carry those basics in stock...the cooler, the sparging bag, cheap thermometers. I'm not sure what you used for a kettle, they generally will set you back $80 or more just for a basic stainless steel pot unless you can get an enamelware pot (which we carry as well) for about $40. So I'm including the pot in the cost because your average kitchen does not have a 10 gallon pot.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177321)

True about the pot, but I've never known a homebrewer to go all-grain before going full boil extract. I suppose there's nothing stopping you from going partial boil to all grain though. I used an 8-gallon enamelware pot for about a decade. When I moved to 10-gallon batches, I ended up with a keg to make a keggle out of but before I knew that was going to pan out, I had my eye on a 50qt aluminum stock pot Sams Club had for about $60. They had smaller sizes cheaper than that.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39176269)

Wow....I do all grain, and it cost me very little in investment for equipment.

Granted, much of the stuff was given to me by friends...on a don't ask, don't tell basis.

But my main boil and mash kettles, are just regular metal large beer kegs that we cut the tops off with a grinder. In one of them, we drilled and put in and EZ masher.

For kegging, I have a lot of the corny kegs, again, with these, I didn't ask where they came from. Down here in LA, most everyone has propane takes and burners for crawfish boils, etc, so that wasn't an extra cost. I bought and inherited a number of glass carboys. So, about the only things I've paid much money for are the small things...air locks, tubing, keg fittings....CO2 tank....

I would eventually like to build up and get a set up to crush my own grain...as I do it now, I buy my grain at the local brew store and they will crush it for you for free.....I just make sure I go the day of or day before I plan to brew.

But it isn't that $$ of a hobby. I mean, to buy a full blown starter kit for doing extract brewing...kit with everything you need, including bottles and capper...is about $100. The extract kits with yeast hops and all...was only about $22-$35 or so which was a good 5Gal batch. The only kits I'd seen go for near $45 were some pretty stout beers with a lot of adjucts and specialty grains, and a TON of extract, for a higher alcohol beer.

Then again...most everything alcohol related in New Orleans (food too for that matter) seems to be cheaper here than anywhere else in the country. I think we get a discount because we consume on such a volume basis.

:)

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

John3 (85454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39176529)

Getting "hand me downs" and used gear can definitely reduce the cost. In the northeast the used cornelius keg market has dried up now that soda is distributed in plastic sacks, and new kegs are pretty pricey. The glass carboy factory in Mexico shut down so there is essentially one factory in the world making glass carboys and it's in Italy...so prices have skyrocketed to the point where plastic Better Bottle carboys are the same price as glass. Old beer kegs also were easier to come by ten years ago, now you need to pay money for an empty keg to have it reconditioned as a kettle. Extract kits are a bit more expensive now, more like $28 to $40 and probably going up again as grain prices took another jump this year.

Homebrewers are a resourceful group of hobbyists, and selling home beer and wine making stuff in my hardware store is a natural fit. I know of at least five other hardware stores around the country that carry home beer and wine making supplies in their store.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39173377)

...American beers like Bud, Coors, etc. really are.

Coors and Miller are British. Anheuser-Busch is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. These are not American beers.

Sam Adams is American beer, and it's a fine brew. I find the Europeans trashing "American" beer that's produced by Europeans hilarious, and wonder how many Europeans have ever tasted a real American beer.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

SquareVoid (973740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39174015)

Coors is actually Canadian. But yeah, the idea that American beers suck is just bad PR. The largest American brewery is Sam Adams. The swill people associate with what the majority of Americans drink are not really American beers.

Re:Homebrew rebound (2)

suppo (267896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39174865)

Um, just because the original companies were bought by non-US companies doesn't change the fact that the style of Bud, Coors and Miller is Lite American Lager.

Re:Homebrew rebound (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39175095)

Compare budweiser to a local Pils in Germany, and you'll find that it's not substantially different. I know I speak heresy, but I also speak from experience. If you don't believe me, try it.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39175341)

I've been to Germany and this is far from the case. I had a hard time drinking anything here after coming back.

Re:Homebrew rebound (2)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39175403)

Coors was founded in Golden Colorado in 1873 - Last I checked that's in the US.

Miller was founded in Milwaukee in 1855 - again in the US.

Anheuser-Busch was formed in 1869 and is based in St. Louis - yes that's still US.

Now are they owned by parent companies in other countries? Yes. But that doesn't change that they are American subsidiaries and make American beer.

Re:Homebrew rebound (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171873)

I sell home beer and wine making supplies and ingredients in my hardware store.

As a guy who brewed beer in the past and probably will again in the future, most of the stuff you sell to brewers, you probably don't know about.

I used to buy replacement plastic transfer hoses, copper tubing and handful of strange compression fitting adapters to make my own wort chiller, tubes and hoses to make my own homemade bubbler/vaporlock thingy, etc etc. I purchased all the gear to make what amounts to a remote faucet system on a hose for cleaning. I had the worlds weirdest rube goldberg device to fill bottles. For wine/mead supposedly the most expensive and traditional primary fermenter is a glass carboy, and supposedly the cheapest is a food grade plastic bag (not insecticide treated garbage bag) inside a non-value engineered old fashioned strong metal trash can. Supposedly prices have exploded upward so much that the cheapest durable and watertight primary "couple gallon" fermenter is a standard tropical fish aquarium, although keeping light out and the top sealed must be a huge PITA.

I never bought "normal homebrewing stuff" from a hardware store like yeast and hops, bottle caps for my crimper, whatever. Thats cool that you sell that stuff as I have 4 hardware stores within 5 miles, but my local "homebrew store" was at least an hours drive. In the internet era its more realistic to order online and wait a day or two, than to invest that kind of windshield time.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172421)

In the internet era its more realistic to order online and wait a day or two, than to invest that kind of windshield time.

Only if you're content to accept whatever they ship you... and content to not compare products (like the smells of different hops)... etc... etc..
 
The internet is great for ordering things that are mass produced identical boxes (like books, cameras or games), not so much for anything else. I've learned a great deal about hops and grains because I invested windshield time.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39176003)

The internet is great for ordering things that are mass produced identical boxes (like books, cameras or games

.. bottle caps, hydrometer, fermentation locks (more for wine brewing than beer), corks-with-a-hole

I've bought dried wine yeasts over the net with good results. Dried yeast is tough. I forget the term but I think it was blooming it where you pre-grow the dried yeast in a drinking glass sized container before dumping it in the carboy, which is no big deal. Never mail ordered one of those refrigerated liquid snap pack things of course, although I suppose if you can buy steaks over the internet and physical mail, I suppose you could get yeast mailed to you somehow..

Re:Homebrew rebound (2)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39173115)

Technically, you don't need an air-tight container to ferment in. You just need to make sure the CO2 blanket that is made by the fermentation process is not disturbed and that contaminants don't get into your beer. I personally use a 5 gallon food safe bucket with a lid and a blow off tube.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39173039)

Craft beer is what got me into homebrewing. I hated beer with a passion, instead I was a scotch/whiskey fan.This was because I thought all beer was commercial lager. Luckily I was introduced to craft brewing and found a whole new world of drinks I enjoy. Now I drink beer much more often than scotch. This lead me to finding the best brewery in the US, Three Floyds and that lead to realizing that really really good beer is just miles from my house. From there a few tours showed me how simple the process is and how a lot of these guys started as home brewers.

Fast forward to last year I did my first extract brew (canned stuff, fresh hops, and some steeping of grains) and now I'm 100% all grain and starting to build a fairly automated system with my knowledge of electronics and programing. I've never seen a hobby take over my thoughts as much as home brewing. The product is awesome, there is always something to improve on, and who knows, maybe 5-10 years down the road I could open a real brewery.

Re:Homebrew rebound (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39176359)

I just wish it wasn't illegal to distill your own liquors.

I'd like to try my hand at doing some sort of bourbon, or even a scotch!!!

I have the brewing down, just wish the govt would let us distill for personal consumption, which would allow good quality (and safety) still set ups to be sold.

great (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39171709)

what other lies can you come up with to justify such a awful thing. shall we have kids getting drunk in school to "improve" their ability to be creative? or is this just bullshit drummed up by pro alcoholic losers?

Re:great (3, Informative)

John3 (85454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171997)

Yeah, in our community kids are always spending $100+ to buy homebrew gear, cooking and then fermenting, and two to three weeks later getting s**t-faced on their homebrew. Or more likely they head to the local Kwikee Mart with a fake ID buy a cheap case of light beer in cans and get s**t-faced immediately. The article is not about consuming alcohol, it's about the brewing process and technology.

Re:great (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172689)

Moderation is the key. Kids in school need a beer now and then. They don't need a case or six each night. A kid who consumes a sixpack per week or two, and not all at one sitting, is well on his way to success.

You, on the other hand, who can't see any benefit from alcohol, or are unable to control your binge drinking, should never drink a beer. Please, stay away from the kids, and their beer.

Re:great (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | more than 2 years ago | (#39173495)

According to my dad, it was quite common in the 1960s for him and his buddies to skip out to the local pizza joint over the lunch hour and down the thing with a pitcher of beer. Dad wasn't really the scholarly sort, though.

I also brew beer. I would say that the biggest danger in brewing is just the risk in injuring your back from lifting 60 pound carboys full of beer. The second biggest problem is the dilema of wether or not to drink some of your ill advised creations.

Retarded laws are there to be ignored (2)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39171715)

"Depending on your hobby and your town, these activities can be officially encouraged, discouraged, unregulated, or illegal. For example, it's illegal to make biodiesel fuel at home in the city of Phoenix ... but not regulated in the bordering towns of Scottsdale, Chandler, or Tempe."

Yeah, so let's just ignore those retarded regulations and do what we can with what we have physically.

Foridden to make $THING unless you pony up the barrier-to-entry? Fuck that in the face forever.

Re:Retarded laws are there to be ignored (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172675)

Good luck with your hobby in prison.

Re:Retarded laws are there to be ignored (1)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39174041)

You're part of the problem. Who does NOT want to build a flying car in their garage? Or an energy source? Or beer?

Why regulations exist in the first place (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39174427)

Who does NOT want to build a flying car in their garage?

It's not about who doesn't want to but who doesn't want you to and has enough clout to get the authorities to put you in prison for doing so. Police don't want to have to deal with flying car wrecks on top of the existing rolling car wrecks.

Or an energy source?

Patent holders hold exclusive rights in some energy sources, and your neighbors don't want to look at your eyesore energy source every day.

Or beer?

ERs don't want to have to deal with people who have poisoned themselves by consuming defective homemade alcoholic beverages. Police don't want to have to deal with vehicle wrecks caused by consumption of homemade alcoholic beverages, especially when they have no money to do so from the liquor tax fund.

Re:Retarded laws are there to be ignored (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39175535)

Though I don't favor the restrictions,I'm guessing the ban on home biodiesel production in Phoenix is due to one step of the process being a fire hazard if you do it wrong.

There are a number of safe ways to do it, but apparently the powers that be just put down a blanket ban rather than a regulation saying don't do this in a large batch mode in your living room with the kids around.

Barely worth reading (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39172087)

When there is such an egregious error in the first couple of paragraphs, I almost stopped reading - because it's unlikely that someone that clueless could produce something interesting.

In the first place, "Germany", as a singular place that could enforce it's laws across it's entire territory didn't exist until 1871. In the second place, the Reinheitsgebot only applied to Bavaria - in the remainder of Germany, there were many innovative beers. In the third place, the Reinheitsgebot only applied to lager beers... In the fourth place, it's long since been repealed (I.E. it's not still in effect as he claims in his very first sentence.) etc... etc...

The balance of the article is much the same, a fanciful mixture of fact, fancy, and unsupported speculation disguised as something authoritative because the author is a professor.

For example - he talks about biodiesel production being illegal, but it never occurs to him to question why... Though I bet if he were the neighbor of the guy on the other side of town who had a 300 gallon tank of it collapse and flood two houses and salmon stream he might have other ideas. (Thank $DIETY it never found an ignition source.) The same goes for the Reinheitsgebot, which was created to prevent brewers from cheating their customers.

When one wonders why modern education produces substandard products - one need look no further than this article for evidence.

Most important lesson (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39172099)

I believe beer is the perfect lens through which to examine innovation,

Here's the most important lesson which I bet is either not covered accidentally or maybe intentionally.

I live in a greater-city which used to be the center of American beer brewing. A century or so ago, German immigrants built dozens of medium sized breweries and exported all over the country. Big big names, still around in marketing even today.

All of those jobs, and I mean all, are gone, inside the city. Every last one. Mergers inside the country and international, centralization, downsizing, blah blah, and now we've gone from dozens of breweries to a handful of microbrews, depending on how you want to count Sprecher (in a nearby city) and this brewpub by the local engineering college. A century ago there were dozens of people in my city with the job title "brewmaster" now there is debate but the number seems to hover right around "one" or "zero" depending how picky you want to be.

Similar thing happened in the automotive business, from hundreds of companies a bit over a century ago to just a handful now. Same deal multiple times with computing.

The lesson is that in a Emerging Technology there might be thousands of management and engineering jobs, but eventually its no longer an Emerging Technology then almost ALL of those jobs go away, permanently. If you're a 1 in a 100, maybe you can be a survivor making a long term career out of emerging tech, or if you enjoy perma-unemployment after a real fun 10 year run that'll work, but otherwise, if you see emerging tech, run like hell away, if you care about your family being able to eat and have a roof over their head. Run!

Re:Most important lesson (2)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39173235)

Those brewers of a century ago kept jobs in the area for a long time. As did your example of auto. IT is nothing but emerging tech and is still going. Yes as things get more mainstream, they get outsourced and marginalized, but if you are in the field you should be able to see what is coming down the pike and prepare for it much of the time. You act as if emerging tech jobs get yanked out from under people in a short amount of time. My view is that they do not, but people do become complacent and not see the changes coming.

Re:Most important lesson (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39173339)

Your lesson and examples really don't make sense. Beer brewing isn't an 'emerging technology', and it certainly wasn't new when the Germans moved to Milwaukee, and when was that.. like the 1800's? So three generations of people is what you consider a 'real fun 10 year run'?

Also, it's not like automotive just went away. Wages got really high in Milwaukee and unions got powerful. The companies no longer could afford to keep blue collar workers there, so the factories moved to rural places in Ohio and Michigan. The jobs also didn't disappear, they just got re-allocated to different companies (Johnson Controls, Rockwell Automation, Bucyrus, etc..) and locations in the country. Emerging technologies don't just go away. They get replaced and upgraded by newer technologies all the time. Look up the term 'Engineer's Half-life' sometime. The general idea is that 50% of your knowledge will become useless in 2-5 years if you aren't constantly staying up to date.

Also, let me point out that your comment about all the jobs in brewing being gone is just wrong.. In the city there is Lakefront, Sprecher, Horny Goat, Milwaukee Brewing Company, Great Lakes Distillery, Miller/Coors (while the HQ may have moved to Chicago, there is still a big factory, some corporate, etc in Milwaukee), and TONS of micro-breweries (Milwaukee Ale House, Water Street Brewery, Rock Bottom Brewery, St Francis, Stonefly).

Re:Most important lesson (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177721)

That's really a lesson for the future, where the future means our lifetimes, or our kids. At some point -- and we can nitpick over when, but it's not far away on the scale of human history, and likely not even human lifetimes -- physical labor of any sort, no matter how complicated, will be obsolete, as will the supervision and management thereof. Maintenance might be around for a little longer than that, but not much -- self repairing systems will see to that. It will necessarily be cheaper to use machines to perform manual labor, because the cost of machinery can be reduced to values much lower than even the cheapest of slave workers. Even if economies of scale for the production of these machines themselves don't lower the bar enough, the fact that machines don't get tired, or lazy, or belligerent, or stop paying attention will.

The jobs that will be left in manufacturing will be those of engineering and the management of engineers. But manufacturing is just the tip of the iceberg; the tip of the spear of automation. Other fields will soon feel the pressures as well. Even medicine -- perhaps especially medicine -- will not be immune from the transition. Diagnosticians and surgeons will be obsolete eventually, (and we're seeing the former already), though supervision of machines performing surgery might be desirable for some time to come.

So when I hear politicians talk about "getting manufacturing jobs back to the US," I think of the MPAA and RIAA chasing down their obsolete business models. Conservatives want to force people off of unemployment without any sort of path to employment, as if the only thing holding them back was the desire to find work and they just need a not-so-gentle prodding. We need to figure out how to adapt to a society where there simply isn't enough work for everyone to have a job. It's the future we always said we wanted, but we never prepared for, and indeed, we don't recognize it happening around us. Like the proverbial frog in hot water, it's not happening fast enough for people to necessarily recognize it, but it *is* happening. That automation would replace human workers, when it started in the 80s, was a foregone conclusion, but the fact that it didn't happen overnight, in full, has made us complacent. We make the mistake of believing that if it hasn't happened yet, it never will.

Meanwhile, people who can't find jobs are justifiably angry that they can't support themselves and their families, and the situation will only get worse over the long term unless and until we transition to a society where self-sufficiency is an option rather than a requirement. Unemployment numbers as a percent are mainly improving because people who have stopped looking for a job aren't counted, and while job growth *is* happening, January's pace for growth would take us until 2029 to reach pre-recession levels. We need to stop ignoring reality and work on dealing with it instead. Manufacturing mostly isn't going to come back, especially in the form of jobs, and definitely not at the rates we need to employ people. Likewise, even if everyone who worked in manufacturing was capable of retraining, there just aren't enough jobs in other fields. So what do we do?

How Beer Saved the World (2)

theswimmingbird (1746180) | more than 2 years ago | (#39173359)

There is a great documentary available on Netflix called How Beer Saved the World. It's a pretty good watch, basically attributing most of the agricultural revolution to accidental beer discovery.

Perhaps we'll get to line NASA's budget if we discover a boozin' alien race. It worked for the Romulans...

What about the bubble chamber? (1)

Pictish Prince (988570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39173859)

I'm surprised the article didn't mention the bubble chamber [wikipedia.org] . The popular story is that Glaser was watching bubbles in a glass of beer but he explained that the connection really was that he used beer for early prototypes.

Good thing brewing is legal. (1)

BetterSense (1398915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39175523)

There would be a similar amount of innovation around hydroponics and greenhouse tech if growing cannabis was legal. Or another way of looking at it, all these "innovative" homebrewers, equipment sellers, and store owners could just as easily be criminals. Hurray for "innovation" in a culture of arbitrary oppression.

Homebrewing versus homegrowing is a case study in legal versus illegal drug use. In homebrewing, we get innovation, recreation and a healthy hobby. In homegrowing, we get clogged jails, ruined lives, paramilitary police forces and thousands dead from border violence. The only difference is a few strokes of the pen in Washington. I have no doubt there is are well-meaning do-gooders lobbying to make homebrewing illegal.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...