When new brewers try to improve their brewing abilities, most of them head for the internet. While you’ll find some really great stuff on the net there is also a lot of misleading and some just plain downright wrong information.
After reading through many posts by “expert” brewers I have noticed that some people try to make things much more difficult then they need to be. For example, I have read a post that stated in order to make sure your equipment is clean enough to brew you must measure the TDS (total dissolved solids) of the water you are rinsing with and only use purified water to rinse your equipment. I’m sure this is a good way to make sure your equipment is super clean but it’s over-kill! First off, your equipment is food grade which means the surfaces are designed not to hold any harmful substances (as long as your equipment is in good condition). The manufacturers of the cleaning products you are using have good instructions on their packaging and as long as these are followed there should not be any problems. Lastly, the use of purified water is not necessary unless your local water supply is contaminated. If the water is deemed fit for human consumption there should be no reason not to use this for cleaning or even brewing.
I have also seen posts stating that you MUST check the specific gravity every day. This is not a good practice for a few reasons. Every time you take a reading you are exposing your brew to oxygen, light and the possibility of bacteria. Opening your fermenting vessel will also let carbon dioxide escape. Carbon dioxide creates a protective layer which helps protect your wine or beer from contamination. Fermentation will usually begin in 24 – 48 hours. Then all you have to do is look and listen. If you see foam or hear bubbling and fizzing you can safely bet the fermentation is still ongoing.
Brewing is an ancient craft. Although there has been some great improvements in equipment and ingredients over the years, the art of brewing is still the same. Yeast turns the simple sugars into alcohol and that’s about it. You can make the process as complicated as you want but the outcome and underlying process stays the same. Brewing is a fun hobby and in my opinion if you keep things simple you will make fewer errors as your hobby will be a lot less stressful. So go out there and brew something new. Keep it simple and you’ll enjoy it better.