We’ve all been there. You go through a good brew day. Nothing goes wrong. You wait patiently for the suds to ferment. You bottle carefully and keep things clean. You wait for the beer to mature. And then that wonderful moment when you pop the cap and taste your creation. And it tastes like dirty dishwater and looks like it too.I call this “Bad Brew Blues”.

It’s the sort of thing that probably needs a cool soundtrack or something Samuel L Jackson can do better than me

That sort of thing is pretty common when homebrewing and can be helluva frustrating. I’ve known more than a few homebrewers who’ve quit when that happens to them too often. So in today’s article, I’d like to share 3 strategies you can use to prevent frustration, unhappiness, and ultimately, quitting homebrewing.

Let’s get into it.

#1 Time: The ultimate healer

Beer is a living thing. Easy to forget amongst all the technical clutter of mash temperatures, finings, and carbonation, but homebrew is generally not filtered to within an inch of its life like commercial beer.

This is a good thing.

Since there are enough active yeast cells in any given stage of the fermentation and bottling stage of brewing, you can use this to fight bad brew frustration. Yeast changes beer dramatically across its lifespan, which means that just because your beer tastes like a cross between duct tape and a bad curry now, it might not in a few weeks (or months).

This is particularly true for beers that are:

  • High in alcohol (ABVs of 8% and above)
  • Stuffed with adjuncts like corn, sugars, and so on
  • Flavored with herbs, spices or vegetables (i.e. chile beers, basil Saisons, etc
  • Made with Belgian or wild yeast strains

Give it time and you will often be pleasantly surprised. Case in point, I recently made a Saison flavored with rosemary. After 3 weeks in the bottle, I tasted it and… well let’s just say that it wasn’t pretty.

But then I just left the other bottles on the shelf and forgot about them. Flash to 3 months later and I remember that I still have those Saison bottles stashed away.

I put one in the fridge to chill, opened it up, and tasted … a completely different beer. The yeast did that. And time. And now it’s one of the best brews I’ve done.

So give your bad brew blues a kick up the ass by giving the yeast time to cure your beer!

#2 Beer Blending 101

Although sometimes frowned upon by stuck-up types, blending different beers to create a new brew is a time-honored tradition. In fact, beers made in the Lambic style are almost always the product of various versions blended together by the brewer until just the right taste is achieved.

One way to reduce bad brew blues is to take your somewhat off-colored beer and blend it with some homebrew that is flawless. Don’t have any around? Well, then how about blending it into some commercial brews?

This strategy has two benefits:

  1. It means that your hard-won homebrew doesn’t go to waste
  2. It teaches you a lot about the types of beer flavors that go well together (and those that don’t). It may even inspire your next brew!

#3 Make a cocktail

No, I don’t mean drown your sorrows in a few martinis! Beer cocktails are all the rage right now, and by creating a cocktail out of your unsuccessful brews, you might just inject some new life into them.

I’m no expert in this field, but check out the links below for folks who are:

That’s it for now, fellow beginner brewers. Don’t let the bad brew blues get you down. Try out these 3 tricks to fight it. And they don’t work, well, there’s always the real blues to chase away that black dog!

Now go brew.

2 Comments

  1. Hans Havenga

    The beer blending option worked for me when I tried my 1st low alcohol brew. I used the wrong malts and the beer came out with taste that was very “watery” I mixed it with my American IPA and the combination came out very nice.

    Reply
    • Harper

      Thanks for that Hans! Mixing is well worth a try..

      Reply

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