Homebrewing is poorly served by isolation. You can make a beer on your own: formulate the recipe, manage the brew day and fermentation, condition and drink the final product. But it would be hard to learn from the experience beyond a certain point. We need other people to bounce ideas off of and to learn from. For me, the best results have consistently come when collaboration takes place. I need input from other brewers to add to my own knowledge and help me make decisions. In this way, homebrewing is like a Think Tank. You make connections with other informed individuals and base your decisions on the shared understanding that results. If you're smart, you rely on those individuals to guide you through crises or make "policy" decisions.
I brewed a Kate the Great clone this past February after tasting Lewy's and being really impressed with its flavor and complexity. I added bourbon soaked oak cubes to it in early May and watched as the yeast slowly ate away at the original gravity of 1.104. However, for the past three weeks there's been almost zero airlock activity. I took a gravity reading this past weekend and there had been no change. The beer was stuck at 1.030. I know that I'm pushing the limits of WLP001 with the high alcohol content, but I was hoping to get down in the mid-teens before bottling. I called Lewy for advice. Do I repitch? Raise the ambient temperature? Bottle at the current gravity and risk bottle bombs?
The next day, there was a package on my porch. A small, soft, ice-filled cooler containing two packed-full vials of washed WLP001 from a previous fermentation that Lewy had done. He had gathered it and dropped it off for me-just because he's cool like that. I let the yeast free rise to ambient temperature overnight and then pitched it into the KTG clone. It's a pretty good solution to a stuck fermentation problem and I'm hopefully optimistic about it working. In case you didn't know, they serve beer in the Homebrew Think Tank cafeteria, and I'm buying rounds.