Beer making has been dated back as far as 4000 BC and recorded in the written history of the of ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian Empires. So what’s with all the the high tech equipment for beer making? Do you really need it? We try to answer that question today in “High tech for a low tech process?”
CLAY TABLET (pictured left): This clay tablet (dated late prehistoric period, 3100-3000 BC.) has an early example of writing, in the form of pictographs drawn in clay with a sharp instrument. In this case they record the allocation of beer. The symbol for beer, an upright jar with pointed base, appears three times on the tablet.
FUN FACT: Beer was the most popular drink in Mesopotamia and was issued as rations to workers.
Beer making is essentially a very low tech process which takes the simple principle of fermentation and turns sugars into glorious frothy beer. So what’s up with all the PH monitors, Temperature gauges, and computerized system? Do you really need all these gadgets and gizmos?
The simple and short answer is no.The long and complicated answer is yes (sort of). If you just want to make beer, you need only the simplest bare minimum of equipment. However where the lines blur is if you want to make exceptional beer consistently every single time. Exceptional beer with no variation to color or flavor is usually only achieved with some method of high tech involvement. Whether that be a modern digital temperature gauge or a full fledged computerized system with temperature stabilization and automatic sparging arms.
That is not to say that exceptional beer cannot be made without high tech equipment, quite the opposite really. However, the brewers who can achieve consistent results usually have years of experience behind them, and just know what to do at just the right times.
I know that everyone wants to make good beer. whether that be the olde timer or the new brewer just starting out, especially the new brewer. So what do I say to people when I am asked if they need high tech equipment when they are first starting out? I tell them the highest tech gadget they will need is a simple thermometer dial gauge and hydrometer. I also advise new brewers to avoid the high end high tech equipment at first, because ultimately you may find you did not even need it and thus made a $600 (or more) mistake.
Upgrading your equipment should only be done if you are experiencing problems in your brewing process. If you are having problems with your PH, buy a monitor, If you are having problems with temperature control, buy a cooling/heating system and so on. However, if you want to make the process easier, or just get exceptional consistent results and are unable to achieve this with your current equipment or skill level, high tech equipment is the way to go. Be aware though, with high tech comes high prices. So be prepared for major sticker shock when it comes to high end equipment.