Ashton Lewis, a sometimes book author and “wizard” for homebrewers, but more important brewmaster for Springfield Brewing Co. in Missouri, takes the notion that “manual brewing equipment produces beer with more ‘character’ than beer brewed using automation” to task this week.
His post, titled “Progress Is a Funny Thing”, concludes:
So the next time you take a brewery tour at some a brewery with awesome automation, like New Belgium, Boulevard, Sierra Nevada, Harpoon, New Glarus, etc, etc, don’t bag on this great modern technology. Rather look at all the details of brewing that are given more attention because the brewers are not busy raking out spent grains by hand or manually turning valves that, thanks to modern automation, are being controlled to do what the brewer has pre-determined should be done.
The topic of “hands on” always gives me reason to pause. It’s important to be skeptical about change. But what we should be focusing on is ingredients and process, not if a brewer manually opens a valve or uses a computer to control that valve.