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Yeast will be yeast



Nothing makes me feel like a neurotic parent quite like homebrewing. Even the experience of crafting a phenomenal brew comes with the attendant disappointment of the yeast doing something unexpected. Fermenting too vigorously or too little. Carbonation issues. Turbidity. Off flavors, particularly in subtle beer styles.

True happiness in brewing comes from letting the yeast do what it wants as long as the beer comes out tasty. I wish I could log off the web forums and just allow each batch to develop into a special and unique butterfly. It’s not like I’m selling the stuff, so why obsess over consistency? Because I brought the beer into this world, and I can take it out.

The problem is I’m just not at a place in my life right now where I can control the brewing environment. It’s hotter than hell, so I brew up an aggressive saison. Suddenly, a northern weather system floats in just as the yeast gets going. Or the opposite happens and a complex dark turns into conga night at the Banana Room.

I curse the yeast and call it a mistake. “I meant to get a Belgian Abbey strain, but the bins were mislabeled,” I rant with instant regret.

I brewed a recent batch in Napa so I could use the family wine cellar to keep a consistent lagering temperature, but that felt like sending the kid to boarding school. It came out right, and yet distant—judging me for never really taking the time to get to know it.

In the end, it’s all about love for your beer, whether it grows into the IPA athlete your friends discuss with envy or the bookish porter that teaches you something about life. Just as long as it doesn’t end up a fruit beer.

Staff writer Patrick M. Klemz compiled this week’s Bites. We want a bite! Send your food news to

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