The Importance of Patience

We live in a day and age where you can get literally anything delivered to your door just by using your thumbs. In New York, you can get anything delivered. Literally, anything. And it's true what they say about New Yorkers, we don't have time. We live in New York for a reason and in this city if you're not rushing around trying to do something and/or be someone, you're not doing it right. How else could we justify the enormous cost of living? New York is a fast-paced city that pauses for no one. There is truth to the song that says, “Make it here, make it anywhere”. New York taught me the value of time and the need to get things done yesterday. Brewing beer taught me the value of patience. 

The first glass of the first beer I ever made. Kev's Rugged Good Looks Irish Red.

The first glass of the first beer I ever made. Kev's Rugged Good Looks Irish Red.

I follow a number of brew forums and Facebook pages about homebrewing. Membership can range from old-hatters who are decades into the hobby and armed with a wealth of time-earned advice gleaned from experience to people just learning the craft or getting their toes wet and prepping for their first brew. So it's often the former helping the latter when rookie mistakes are being made. I've seen pictures of open plastic fermenters with the new hobbyist asking if it's time to bottle just a few days into fermentation. Those of us who have been at this for a minute have to hide our faces of horror and gently remind the noobs not to expose still fermenting wort-beer to oxygen and light. Also, one note of advice I often give: airlock activity is not an indication of a healthy fermentation. Sure, when my gose takes off she really goes-ah (see what I did there?). I always prep for German Ale yeast activity by setting up a blow-off tube from the outset. But, not all yeast ferment as vigorously and just because you don't see airlock activity doesn't mean your yeasties aren't healthy and loving the meal you've provided. The best thing to do if you don't see airlock activity is to take a gravity reading. A gravity reading is the only way to tell if your yeast is good and doing its thing.

And taste your beer! Does your beer taste and smell the way you intended? Is there still too much residual sweetness? If so, it needs more time. Only you know how your beer should taste. Train your palate to know when it is time to package. 

When I started brewing, I'll admit I was guilty of rushing my beers to the drinking stage. I used do a single week in primary and another week in secondary. I would bottle and start drinking a few days later no matter the style.  As I reached the end of the batch after a few weeks I noticed the beer got better as it continued to condition. What I learned was that I could have a beer in 2 weeks, but If I can be patient enough to let the yeast do their thing and work out any off flavors, I would invariably have better beer. Similarly, I could crack open the lid on my fermenting bucket and check out how the beer is doing, but I would be exposing the beer to oxygen and light, potentially ruining the beer.

Patience has it's rewards and one of those rewards is better tasting beer.