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When Perfection is the Enemy of…

With the exit of 2020 and a horrible start of 2021 behind us, I feel the need to address some of the issues hampering my brewing over the past few years and the resulting lack of regular content for Accidentalis.com. Hopefully, this will be cathartic for me and perhaps relatable for you.

Excellence has always been a high priority in everything I take on. I have allowed Obsession with Excellence to replace what should be positive. Excellence is demonstrated not through Perfection but rather through adapting to challenges and failures and applying those lessons. Obsession turns that trend toward continuous improvements into frustration and anger when those improvements are fleeting. I know this is vague-booking here, so let me get into more specifics.

  • After being unemployed for a year and a half, I basically gave up looking for a relevant career. I faced age-discrimination in a dramatically changed tech culture that favored youthful and casual fun over directed prioritized work and goals. As a result, I pivoted and committed to being an insurance agent and floundered. I was great at building client relationships but terrible at growing my business, missed my production goals, and failed to meet contract obligations. This tapped ALL of my remaining savings and siphoned ALL of my remaining time. I failed to understand my #1 priority was to grow.
  • With fewer free hours and fewer resources, I slowed down brewing beer and mead dramatically. In the meantime, I had been shopping to switch over from gas (The Brew-Magic) to a robust electric brewing system. I was fortunate to land on a 15 gal Blichmann Brew-Easy, 240 V system but quickly discovered the controller was faulty – ruining 3 straight batches. I had planned to work through the transition carefully, measuring the whole way and getting up and running efficiently as quickly as possible. Fortunately, the Brew-Commander was a cost-effective replacement solution, but I had exhausted my free time and what little cash I had to spare. It’s still there waiting for me to restart.
  • I developed health problems, including sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and chronic back issues. I was in a severe accident, which started some chronic back issues. Fortunately, I have largely been able to get most of these under control and working hard to lose a good deal of that Covid-Lockdown weight gain. Of course, alcohol consumption needs to be moderated. I expect to focus on low-ABV beers for a good while.
  • Somehow, someone took hard control of Accidentalis through a dead plugin exploit over the New Year. Then they took over my entire account at my ISP – changing everything, even attempting to change my domain contact information. That wasn’t very pleasant. My ISP has hardened my account access, and we have re-secured and hardened the WordPress installation. Moving forward, Accidentalis is going to be leaner on bells and whistles and fatter on content. 
  • Accidentalis became a sounding outlet for some of my thoughts on judging and less about brewing or mead making. I don’t regret those posts as they have been well received and get many positive comments. That said, Accidentalis is intended to be about my journey from a very novice and isolated brewer into a more experienced, knowledgeable, and deliberate brewer. I think much of that has been demonstrated, but many hanging threads and topics need to be updated or closed out. It may call for a revisit of basics for beer and mead making.
  • I now work for a commercial craft beverage company as General Manager (some of you know where, but I’ll keep the company out of this blog). I make 1/3 of my former salary but work with amazing people. The challenges are intense as we doubled production last quarter and intend to double that again in all of 2021. Of course, Perfection here can be the enemy of progress. Analysis paralysis is always a problem for me, as well as myopic syndromes that blind one to the problem at hand. We have a super nimble team that can take all of this on. It should be a great year.

So my challenges are mostly mental, shutting down Obsessive and Paralyzing cranial activities while just DOING more. DOING seems so foreign to me after last year’s crushing impacts. It means getting out of bed on the weekend despite the aches and pains. It means rethinking schedules to get more out of a day. It means less time on my butt binge-watching. It means re-discovering fermentation and re-firing my passion for brewing beer, making mead, and exploring styles.

Accidentalis has always meant taking advantage of those little doors that tend to open when moving forward. My brewing obsession was never intentional. It landed in my lap, and I found a place to be creative, deliberate, and many deep and enduring friendships. 

Striving for Perfection is not a problem until it becomes an Obsession with Perfection. Accept that we cannot control everything and not always perform at our peak. Forgive our faults and failures to help us move forward. Never stop DOING.

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4 thoughts on “When Perfection is the Enemy of…

  1. Matt,
    I hope that 2021 has you back in the Bru’n Saddle and you land on your feet!
    I know you went electric but I have a Sabco V350 MS (purchased in 2013 and just getting to brew now) and was wondering how difficult it is/was to upload recipes. I just did several dry runs to calibrate, learn valving and check burners, etc.
    And have found out that the preloaded recipes are not editable as you have said. All equipment worked as advertised since stored after purchase. Software is upgraded as well. Open for ideas, input advice etc. Looking to brew Pilseners and Stouts…Stephen

    1. Hi Stephen, I always wanted the recipes thing to work, but it was just more of a pain than it was worth. What I did do was preset several mash regiments… which worked well, without the prompting for adding ingredients. For example – programming for a Hoch Kurtz mash made it easy to replicate my saison or lager mashes. The timers are also welcome to help with properly timing additions into the boil. Use those features for what gives you the most consistency.

      I hope you enjoy the system, it truly is a great way to dive into brewing. Best advice is understanding the plumbing, and how to properly pump (slowly without compacting the mash) and lauter – without floating that mash. It takes a bit to figure that out. Also – learn a bit about water chemistry… it’s difficult to use the same water for lagers and stouts successfully!

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