How to... beer!
How pure accident and an endless cycle of trial and error resulted in the perfection our favourite drink.
A lot of events in human history happened by pure accident. Just remember how chips, that wonderful beer companion, was “invented”. Apparently, a guest at a restaurant in 1853 on the east coast of the United States found the French fries to thick which prompted the annoyed chef to cut the fries so thin that they could not be properly eaten with a fork. The result – accidental invention of one of the most popular snacks of all time.
The beginning of beer history is rather murky and lacks facts. One of the stories goes that grain used for making bread became wet, got into contact with yeast and started fermenting. Someone tried the new liquid a few days later and seemed to like it. As crazy as it sounds, chances are that the creation of our favorite drink happened in some similar way. Who could possibly come up with the idea of steeping grains, mashing and boiling them and then leaving them in the open to ferment? Fast forward a few thousand years and we are enjoying the best beer ever. Technology and communication allow us to use and spread knowledge faster than ever. Still, trial and error are necessary when brewing great beer. For example, some combinations of different hop varieties when paired together give specific aromas that can only be tasted by brewing and trying them. They cannot be developed and tasted in a lab.
Each year, every crop of malt and hops is different so recipes have to be adjusted accordingly. It is the forces of nature that we cannot control, but we have to keep learning and trying out new things all the time in order to keep brewing great beer. Malcolm Gladwell has the theory that it takes at least 10.000 hours to master a certain craft. With beer, the learning, trial and error never stop.
When we were brewing Staropramen Selection the first time, the best results happened once we fully loaded our hop cannon and launched its content into the boil. The results were wonderful. No science method told us to do it, it was our hunch that was a result of years of experience. And years of curiosity. It takes a long time to become a brewer and learn all the ins and outs of beer.
Brewing great beer is no accident. Although it takes some trial and error to get the best results.