Hitting the Numbers – Quality in Brewing

Interesting discussion over at Brewer’s Friend on hitting the numbers when brewing. The poster was talking about the OG being too high. Some were calling it luck. As a professional quality geek, I call it a problem.

Every brew is the test of several sets of hypotheses, one of which is your original gravity. No matter how you calculate it, you are predicting that when you mash using your equipment and process, you will hit that gravity reading. Toyota, the company most known among quality professionals for their process management, insists that better than expected performance deserves just as much attention as worse because it proves your prediction process doesn’t work correctly.

Your gravity is too high, or too low for that matter. Do you begin to ask yourself what you did differently this time. Was it different grain or extract? Was your boil rate sufficient? Was your extract efficiency different? Was your mash too warm or too cool? If you have had consistent results in the past, something changed in your process and the higher than expected gravity is an indicator of that change. Figure out what it is – this is where your records come in. Remember, change your process and you change your beer. Even if the mistake is “positive”, such as a higher than expected extract, you need to find out why.

Once you know, either correct the problem or adjust your prediction. That way you continue to brew consistent, good beer.

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