You would think that this would be a serious no-brainer. We like beer; therefore, we brew beer. But then comes the holidays and you try to find an economical gift you can brew for 40 of your closest friends. One day after a cookout you find yourself with 3 extra watermelons and no enough hot pewter to fill them. Or you have a keg fail on you, causing you to find a way to quickly use up 5 gallons of a slightly flat ale.
Needless to say this is potentially the hardest brewing rule for me to follow and I am constantly stuck in a situation where I find I don’t like the type of item I am brewing.
It’s easy to say that I don’t have to drink it and I can just gift the final product away, but in all honesty it comes down to a quintessential point much larger then me not wanting to consume said alcohol.
When all is said and done and the wort has boiled down it comes to one point- You really can’t adequately judge how “good” something is if you don’t enjoy it.
Take me and IPA’s- I don’t like the floral bitter aftertastes of Pale Ales and Imperial Pale Ales makes my mouth feel like it walked into a perfume counter and was sprayed down by every tester in sight.
Yes, I could try to make an IPA for all my friends who enjoy it.
Yes – can make a hoppy, bitter, moderately strong American pale ale with a dryish finish, fresh hop aroma and a Medium-sized, white to off-white head with good persistence.
But can I make it good? I can’t guarantee that because how do I know what is good? As a homebrewer who doesn’t drink IPA’s I don’t think I can adequately judge when something is good, great, friggin fantasilicious or really bad.
This past holiday season I had a friend make a really lovely perfect example of a Christmas Ale for my birthday in one of the kegs he had borrowed. Unfortunately, the seal went bad on the keg and we couldn’t carbonate it. I took the beer home and planned on bottling it, giving it away for holiday gifts- but in good conscience couldn’t give it away without doctoring it a bit. I ended up taking this now flat slightly spiced Christmas Ale- fortified it and increased the spices and re-bottled it- Except for the fact that I HATE spiced beers. Seriously I think there are few things worse than dumping cinnamon into a beer.
So what do I do? I add in cinnamon, cloves, allspice you know all the mulling spices you are supposed to add to holiday beverages. I re-carbonated it and bottled it. I tried some and it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t my cup of tea (or in this case pint of beer). I gifted bottles to friends for Christmas.
I honestly thought that the reason it wasn’t great was because I don’t like spiced beers- and you know what? The reason I didn’t like it was because it was not that good of a beer.
If it had been something I enjoyed or choose to drink regularly I would have been able to say “This is not that great, MAYBE I should not gift this”. If it had been a cordial, meade, or even a stout I would have figured out that MAYBE it tastes off NOT because of the style but because I put to much allspice in there (which I think I did) .
So now I have about 3 dozen bottles of a booze I don’t enjoy drinking taking of space in my little apartment. I WONT give anymore away because I don’t think they are up to my standards, I WONT drink them because I don’t like them and I won’t throw them away because I am a cheapskate (Spiced beer jelly maybe? Roasted good marinade?)
So today’s lesson is to follow your instinct and ONLY brew things you actually enjoy.