A Boy and His Beer
Updated: Jun 20, 2022
My name is Patrick and my love of craft beer all started with a Popular Mechanics article on home-brewing. I thought, "Hey, this is basically a science experiment and at the end you get beer? Count me in!" So I gave it a try. I headed over to Brewstock, the only homebrew shop in New Orleans, and got a few buckets, a carboy, some grain, hops, yeast, and John Palmer's "How to Brew". After a few hours I had a couple gallons of wort in the carboy and a very sticky kitchen. I pitched a pack of dry yeast and set that bad boy in the closet for a few weeks. Watching the beer ferment fascinated me. How could these tiny single celled things called yeast turn a few gallons of murky sugar water into beer? I was skeptical, but rolled with it. After two weeks I called it good.
Then I did something stupid. I added some priming sugar, capped each bottle and stuck those bastards in the fridge. I thought, beer should be cold, right? Yeah, makes sense to me, so let's just put the bottles in the fridge while they carbonate. After another week or so it was finally time to pop one open and give my home-brew a try. So, I got a pint glass, opened a bottle, and poured out beautifully clear, golden, beer. Holy home-brew Batman! This might have actually worked! Took a sip...
Flatter than a pancake playing in traffic.
I've been brewing for over five years now, and I am still learning all the ways you can screw up beer. It didn't take me long after that fateful first batch to figure out that yeast get grouchy and go to sleep if you stick them in the fridge. So... I learned the hard way that you don't naturally carbonate at cold temperatures.This was one of an endless gauntlet of frustrations, epiphanies, victories, and crushing disappointments in my brewing adventures. But it was also the beginning of my fascination with the science, mathematics, and mechanical aspects to crafting a great brewski.
I'm a nerd. I read Popular Mechanics every night, outer space blows my mind, I have a degree in mathematics, and my favorite book is Starship Troopers. So naturally I channeled my nerdy energy and education into finding better ways to imbibe. Every time I brewed I recorded any bit of data I thought might be important down the road. I recorded times, temperatures, quantities and weights, and on and on. But I also recorded subjective data, basic stuff like bitterness and sweetness. Eventually my handwritten notes became overwhelming so I decided to translate it all into spreadsheets. With the extra computing power, I could graph specific gravity data, I could easily calculate averages, the list goes on. The more I brewed, the more I referenced the data I had recorded. I started paying attention to patterns within the data. "Hey, the last three times I used this yeast strain it had an attenuation of 75%, but this batch attenuated to 83%", "Why?". The data allowed me to make connections, I could find answers to questions and be confident that I was right, because the data didn't lie.
The quality of my beer exponentially improved. I was convinced. The key to making better beer had been right there all along, it was in the data. All I had to do was record it and turn it into something I could interpret with minimal effort.
Why wasn't every brewer doing this? How could something so valuable get swept under the rug? I'm under no illusion that i'm the first person to apply data analysis to brewing, there have been and are many others. But most software I have come across doesn't make it a priority. Instead, many programs focus on recipe design, water chemistry, hop additions, etc. There's not much out there, at least that I have come across, that prioritizes data analysis in a way that it's accessible to brewers of any experience level.
So here I am, cranking up my beer-nerd-status to 10 and starting a business dedicated to helping you brew better beer through the power of data. This is where the "Analytics" comes in, transforming raw data into something meaningful.