My Name is Thomas McLaughlin and I am the owner of Friends Brewing LLC my twitter is @friends_brewing..I will post my username there for proof. I have been teaching Math for 20 years. I have been homebrewing for 5 years. I offer a free online course through my company Friends Brewing LLC

Comments: 573 • Responses: 62  • Date: 

dino340114 karma

As an experienced brewer I'm not seeing a lot of "good advice" coming from you, other than some pseudo-science. You also seem to be strongly pushing your course and vastly overestimating the cost of getting into the hobby.

My question for you is other than having a company (which really anyone can do given the effort) what makes you such an expert on the matter that anyone should look further into your courses? At first glance it doesn't seem much more useful than readily available materials online.

reddit67friend28 karma

I have been teaching for 20 years so a lot has to do with how material is presented. I am sure there are people who know more then me..there always is..however I think reading books or searching out you tube videos is a challenging way to learn. there are very few places to actually learn homebrewing. So that being said I welcome feedback on my course, yes I am pushing a FREE course ...

reddit67friend2 karma

Also the cost I listed was including the burner and pot...doing a 5 gallon batch in your house on your stove takes forever if you have an electric stove. It also included bottles which most people forget when calculating the cost.

Ki-Gr-Un45 karma

Should I stop trying to understand the why behind math? I'd always get caught up on the why and mess myself up.

reddit67friend67 karma

Well I find the why makes it easier to make connections to other things. All Math topics are connected and understanding those connections makes it possible to make new short answer keep trying for the why

BelongingsintheYard20 karma

Why is it that math teachers do their best not to explain the why?

reddit67friend19 karma

I always explain why..but sometimes with so much state testing we forget the why and focus on the how..

I_love_bourbon25 karma


postingstuff4 karma

I used to home brew a really nice draught using a supermarket can brew, and whatever the Brewers sugar was on the same shelf. I put in very little effort other than to make sure things were sterile and it was a delicious drop, even my friends thought it was good. Easy enough to drink too much of it though.

reddit67friend7 karma

Yep.. that is sometimes called prohibition beer

krilld11 karma

Hi Thomas, I've recently taken up home brewing, brewed six Pale Ales and although only the last two have tasted any good, I love brew day and the results!

I bought myself a Secondary Fermenter for my latest Pale Ale, but, I have been reading some very mixed reviews on the topic.

What are your thoughts in regards to Secondary Fermentation?

[EDIT] For anyone lurking and wondering about Secondary Fermentation Id like to summarise some comments. 1) keep your fermenters at a constant temperature as best you can. 2) keep an eye on Final Gravity during 4-14 days to know when Fermentation is complete (drop in airlock bubbling and 2-3 days of constant gravity means the yeast is done) 3) clean and sanitise everything going into your Primary Fermenter and Secondary Fermenter 4) if available, purge your Secondary Fermenter with CO2 (this can be done with large CO2 tank or small Soda Chargers 5) Secondary Fermentation should only be done if ,but not explicitly, to dry hop or add other flavours. 5) prevent oxidisation by keeping the syphon tube deep in Secondary Fermenter.

reddit67friend5 karma

The general consensus is secondaries for home brew are only good for dry hopping. The benefit from a secondary is minimal compared to the risk of contamination and oxidation. However to avoid those risks I found a great product called the fast fermenter. You take the beer off the yeast by removing a ball from the bottom..very cool just make sure if you dry hop in it that you put the hops in a sanitized bag with a weight tied to a fishing line so you can pull out the hops after three days. You don't want to dry hop forever as that can give your beer a grassy flavor ...longer is not better in this case.. usually 3 to 5 days max

krilld4 karma

What!? Link

fredro4093 karma

"although only the last two have tasted any good" Is this in your opinion or others? I can always find SOMETHING wrong with my beer, but everyone else thinks it's good.

krilld1 karma

Mine. But when I point out a taste to my mates they agree. It's still good because its beer but it could be better.

reddit67friend3 karma

Try to isolate the flavors that are different then you expect that can provide some clues in your process

guiltycitizen5 karma

What is your favorite episode of The Simpsons?

reddit67friend3 karma

Don't have one...I have been watching for too long..but I did really like it when Homer figured being Fat could get him out of work

BlendedLambic4 karma

As a fellow homebrewer I've always been really impressed with the quality of beer I've been able to make on such a small level with far less variable control of some of the local breweries in my area. The biggest challenge I have is consistency from batch to batch. What are some of your biggest challenges from brewing on a smaller scale ?

reddit67friend2 karma

Consistency is difficult as your putting your set up away each time and your not working in a closed system at home. With better equipment you can get more consistent

tilearn3 karma

What are some of the most simple metrics (maths) one can do to improve notes and therefore the next batches of beer? (Besides OG and IBUs)

reddit67friend2 karma

You can record gravity pre boil to make sure your wort will be right OG when you done. Also if your doing all grain you can calculate your mash efficiency for your setup

Bambieisdead3 karma

Ok so my good friend wants to do brewing as a career. He's currently in community college trying to get all his prerequisites to get into UC Davis...except he's really bad at school. Like has been trying to pass the same intro math and bio class for three semesters. Any advice for taking a different route?

reddit67friend2 karma

Yes..find a brewery with a tap room and start working..there is a lot to be said for apprenticeships

LeopoldOldstyle3 karma

Thomas, thanks for the AMA! What would be your advice to those interested in homebrewing but with little knowledge on the subject? Aside from your course, what are some other great resources out there? And what would be the best method for producing a budget homebrew for beginners?

reddit67friend3 karma

Find your local homebrew club.. they are usually very open and will give great don't have to be brewing yet to join..and you get to taste all the homebrew ;)

LeopoldOldstyle1 karma

Sounds easy enough, I will now begin my search.

reddit67friend3 karma

Check out the national homebrew association site they list a lot of home brew clubs...I am working on a list to add to my site as well

DirectDraw3 karma

Thomas McLaughlin, do you laugh a lot? /s

On a serious note, do you only brew Beer, or is it Cider and Wine too? Sprits?

reddit67friend6 karma

I have done cider as well but have had some tough times getting the sweetness level right...I hate the taste of the artificial sweeteners to back sweeten so for now I am just doing beer... I have also done mead with great is easier then cider but you do need to let it age at least a year

EdCChamberlain2 karma

A maths teacher you say? My maths exam is in a couple of days so:

How do you laplace transform t2 sin(t)?

iStuart2 karma


reddit67friend1 karma

Not Quaker...just believe homebrew makes friends...

StormCrow17702 karma

What's your favorite beer?

reddit67friend3 karma

I actually don't have one... I like to move with the seasons and the mood I am in... I am always looking to try new things as well..Lately I have been gravitating towards the Belgian Wheat style looking for summer ;)

xalltime2 karma

How would you like to see home brewing change as it rises in popularity?

reddit67friend3 karma

I Want people to really open up what you can try... breweries have a difficult time trying really out of the box stuff because they can't get the quanity of ingredients needed to mass produced them...I am working on a lemon tea wheat beer for the summer

Noopyscroopsmcdoops2 karma

What are your thoughts on "big beer" companies?

reddit67friend3 karma

The put a lot of crap in their beer to make it stable and consistent..even the smaller micro breweries lack the ability to try out some unique stuff simply because they can't get the quanity of the unique ingredients they would need to make it worth production...that is why I like homebrew.. lots of room to play...

DraughtChemist2 karma

They have the best toys! Also, be wary of craft beers these days due to budwiser purchasing these companies rather than trying to burst into the scene with new ideas.

reddit67friend2 karma

Agreeded... find out who really owns your favorite beer

mrdeejayshiner2 karma

Does the beer taste better if you finish it in a keg compared to bottling the beer?

reddit67friend3 karma should really be the same if your following good sanitation practice however that being said it is so much easier to vessel to clean instead of cases of bottles

orangeoblivion2 karma

What's your favorite Dungeons and Dragons edition for a homebrew campaign?

reddit67friend3 karma

Wow.. I have never played but a couple I know does every week and they brew together as well so I will ask them and post the response here

NF_2 karma

Who is your favorite mathematician and why is it Rachel Riley?

reddit67friend2 karma

John Nash and Rachel Riley could be a close second ;)

manmeetvirdi2 karma

How to introduce my 3 year old kid to maths?

reddit67friend4 karma

Counting by estimation. ... which hand has more jelly beans ... sort the piles of jelly beans into the biggest to smaller amounts in the piles... fun and a good home start

Voxel_Brony2 karma

What is an endofunctor?

reddit67friend1 karma

Investigate the Haskell experience

pgadey2 karma

Hi Tom! Thanks for doing this.

Where did the name "Friends Brewing" come from?

I'm a Quaker (Friend), mathematician, and beer enthusiast. It is good to see other people combining a passion for beer, math, and teaching.

reddit67friend2 karma

We wanted a name that embodied the idea that home brew really is about friendship. You share in a community to make something bigger then yourself.. I am not a Quaker but I admire your belief system. I have been to a Quaker meeting and enjoyed the experience.

_Aj_2 karma

For an actual question, whats been your most enjoyable part about home brewing, and what is your favourite thing to brew?

reddit67friend3 karma

I love making something is my recipe and when it turns out well it is a real accomplishment. My favorite thing to brew is something out of the box..I am attempting a lemon tea wheat beer for the summer..

_Aj_2 karma

For an actual question, whats been your most enjoyable part about home brewing, and what is your favourite thing to brew?

I've just finished my 3rd brew, all ciders, and all went pretty well! Despite trying numerous beers I have trouble finding one I can drink more than one of. Which is why I started with cider.

The best I got was a German one but I'm stuffed if I remember it's name. It was lower on hops though, fairly dry, perhaps the slightest of fruit notes.

Any tips for a beer to brew for someone like myself?


reddit67friend1 karma

My first thought is a limbic or Fruit beer. You also might like a Belgian. They often have the banana esters due to the style of yeast. What flavors do you like in beer and what flavors don't you like? Also next time your out try a flight..they are small pours if 5 different beers.. start keeping notes about what you enjoyed and what you dislike..

_PukyLover_2 karma

Have you ever thought of homebrewing ginger ale?

reddit67friend2 karma

I have done soda but not ginger ale.

Tsalliter2 karma

What are the best brew commands you teach your students? I've never used much beyond the standard brew install <package>. Have you or your students submitted any PRs to the github page?

reddit67friend1 karma

We focus on wii . Beer

laserwit2 karma

I have been teaching Math for 20 years. I have been homebrewing for 5 years. I offer a free online course through my company Friends Brewing LLC

Why would you teach math on a brewing site? That's just silly. ;)

I don't drink, but I've always been fascinated with homebrewing. I've heard about homebrewed sodas, which still uses yeast common in homebrewing, but one must be careful to get carbonation without the formation of alcohol.

Have you tried making sodas for your non-drinking friends (and, of course, underage kids)? Any tips?

reddit67friend1 karma

Yes I have made use very little yeast ..the trick is storage .. you have to put it in a frige to stop the fermenting so the bottle does not explode..use plastic recycled 2 L soda bottles..

And there is a ton of good Math in homebrewing...but I dont think I can teach homebrew at the High School...that is probably frouned upon

Boost_Loading2 karma

My girlfriend really struggles with math and is in a remedial math class for the second time. I feel so bad when I can't help her on her homework and she just gets frustrated and gives up. Can you help me understand some of the stuff she's doing so that I can help her?

reddit67friend3 karma

Probably.. send an email to tom @ mrmclaughlin. com

mgs12721 karma

What are your preferred gender pronouns?

reddit67friend1 karma

Him and He.. but how is that relevant to beer?

Mr_Shav1 karma

How should I get into home brewing if I am interested?

reddit67friend3 karma

So I have a free course that would show you how to goto the supermarket and get everything you need to make a small batch of beer in your kitchen.. you don't need to spend hundreds of dollars getting equipment. Give it a try first for very low cost and see of you like can also join a local home brewclub..there usually meet once a month at a pub and share home brew answer questions have have talks on homebrew.

Sign up for the course for free and you will see the whole process start to finish...

siliangrail1 karma

I know a few people who have tried to start home brewing cheaply, but have usually had mediocre results.

What do you consider the minimum level of kit to get good, even impressive, results? (Is there a correlation? Is there a sweet spot, for beginners?)

reddit67friend2 karma

So if you want to dive in full tilt the look into learning how to do all grain brewing. Your looking at about 500 to 600 in equipment...extract brewing can be very good and it is what most people start with and can be done for about $250 (see my comment below on this) but extract method lacks body ...and that fuller flavor..all grain gives you a more complex beer. .. but if your interested in trying for under $20 you can in your kitchen... check out my free course

Nevadadrifter1 karma

Hobby distillation seems to be skyrocketing in popularity, in spite of legal issues surrounding it. There is a large push to legalize hobby/craft distillation, but it is faced with a great deal of resistance. What are your thoughts on the future of hobby distillation?

reddit67friend2 karma

Well I don't know that it will happen any time soon.. there is a lot of risk in doing distillation if your. Otherwise careful..with beer there is no more risk then making dinner... but you could get a distillery license in your state and give it a try...go big or go home :)

gordarentz1 karma

What is the best way to avoid sediment in home brews? My dad and I have made a few different batches and have a hard time transfering just the liquid from the carboy. Thanks!

reddit67friend3 karma

I use an autocyphon to transfer with...I also gently tilt the fermenting bucket forward and let it settle first..this moves the beer forward and leaves the sediment as you transfer..

akguitar1 karma

Aspiring math major here, just finished a book on proofs and encountered the cantor Bernstein schroder theorem, which is cool as hell! What type of math do you teach? Do you prefer algebra or analysis, what branch do you consider most interesting? Any general advice?

Appreciate the ama!

reddit67friend1 karma

I am a High School teacher. I Have taught all high school math at one point or another and also computer science...I love looking for the connections between the topics of Math..I like seeing how Calculus appears all through high school math .. you just don't see it.

General advice is to look for those connections that is the way to make something new...

harrisonguord1 karma

How long did it take you from the beginning until you brewed a batch that you felt really good about?

reddit67friend1 karma

My first batch had major carbonation issues but fixed that and I have liked what I brew...I can always find room for improvement but that is part of the fun

crydee1 karma

What can I brew in FL in the summer if my house gets up to ~80 degrees during the day when no one is home? Maybe ~77 if you stick it in a dark closet in the middle of the house.

reddit67friend2 karma

Wow..that is hard.. maybe you could consider getting a small cooler and using ice packs...cheeper then a closed fermenting chamber.. how about a window AC for a small room in your house to bring the temp can try it at 80 but I dont believe you will get good results.. the yeast will produce their own heat added to the 80 degrees and they will be really over stressed

irerereddit1 karma

Why is there only one mention of lager in the entire AMA?

reddit67friend3 karma

Lager is not an easy homebrew requires controled temperature of 50-55 degrees that is hard to do in most homes

MiltownKBs1 karma

How can I brew an IPA with weed? Any tips or recommendations? Maybe a recipe to follow?

reddit67friend2 karma

I have never tried it but you would be using it as a replacement for hops or in addition ... so you need to calculate the IBUs and I dont know much about the oils produced when weed is boiled...sounds like you might want to find someone in a state where it is legal to grow.

headgivenow1 karma

Hi Thomas,

I'd like to know your thoughts on the Goose Island Bourbon County fiasco. Do you feel this is part of the norm when a small craft brewer sells out to a large corp that only deals in piss water? Basically production increases, but quality decreases?

reddit67friend0 karma

It all comes down to have to cut corners when you need to buy that much product to make your beer and you need to speed the whole process up... if your at a party or a baseball game looking to just throw back a few sure keep drinking the sell outs but if you want to really enjoy your beer stick with the smaller breweries.