Re­lax, Don’t Worry, and Don’t Home­brew It, Dude

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Gearhead -

The brew­ers at Los An­ge­les Ale Works (LAAW), all ac­com­plished and awarded home­brew­ers, have a brew-day mantra that helps keep their minds on the task at hand: “Don’t home­brew it, dude!”

It’s a tongue-in-cheek re­minder that while the job is big­ger and stakes higher, they’re still just mak­ing beer. “It’s be­come a catch­phrase,” says LAAW Bar­rel Di­rec­tor Brian Holter—a joke when­ever they hit a bump in the road dur­ing a brew day. Home­brew­ers have to be cre­ative when solv­ing prob­lems, and the decades of com­bined home­brew­ing ex­pe­ri­ence have given the LAAW team con­fi­dence that they can come up with so­lu­tions for the seem­ingly end­less stream of is­sues that a start-up brew­ery must face.

“We can’t do ev­ery­thing that we want to do as soon as we want,” says Co­founder Kristo­for Barnes. Whether the brew­ers are con­strained by time or money or, in­creas­ingly, en­ergy, they draw on home­brew­ing successes and fail­ures as in­spi­ra­tion for so­lu­tions. The trick, Holter ex­plains, is to solve a prob­lem the way a home­brewer might—by re­pur­pos­ing a piece of equip­ment in an imag­i­na­tive way or with some quick think­ing when a sub­sti­tu­tion or brew­house ad­just­ment is needed.

The “don’t home­brew it” re­buke or, al­ter­na­tively, an “I had to home­brew that” ad­mis­sion, is akin to the home­brewer’s mantra—“re­lax, don’t worry, have a home­brew.” It’s spo­ken to ac­knowl­edge both the use of a less-than-ideal so­lu­tion and the ex­tra care that’s be­ing taken to get it right. Af­ter all, a crit­i­cal mis­take doesn’t just mean a wasted af­ter­noon and 5 gal­lons of wort down the drain.

A gaffe can im­pact not only one 10-bar­rel batch of beer, but could also cause a domino ef­fect in the whole pro­duc­tion sched­ule. “It can be a lit­tle scary,” Holter ad­mits. But the home­brew mind­set can be free­ing. “We learned as home­brew­ers to not take no for an an­swer,” Holter says. “We find a way to make it work.”

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