Only Brew What You Like

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.

A Crafting PSA

If someone makes you something, be it cookies, booze, sewn or knitted items Say Thank You.

I honestly did not believe that this is something that needed to be said, but if Christmas this year has taught me anything, it is that this PSA should be woven into ugly sweaters everywhere.

If someone mentions that they have made, are making, or would like to make you a homemade gift, don’t turn it down. Accept it graciously- say thank you and move on with your life.

You may think you might be saving them the hassle, but what you’re really doing is hurting their feelings. They have thought enough about you to put you on their gift giving list, so be considerate and accept it politely.

Trust me, I understand, I don’t particularly enjoy getting food items myself. However, if you gift me some, I’ll take them to work and share them around. Those items that were lovingly crafted and given, have now brought happiness to all who enjoyed them, as well as joy to the person who bestowed them upon me. It’s a WIN-WIN situation.

You know what is not a Win-Win situation? Making someone feel as if their efforts are not good enough to grace the presence of your gift-giving world.

Okay, so you don’t drink, but you have  received homemade alcohol? Cook with it!  Pass it on to someone who will enjoy it! By turning it down up front you will inevitably hurt the person who offered it, even if it is a fleeting blow.  Even if it is your intention that they should feel relieved,  in reality, how that makes them truly feel is that their gift-crafting efforts and skills aren’t good enough. Or worse, if they are anything like me, they will go and try to make you something else instead.

The holiday season is about GIVING; it is not about you getting gifts. So give something back to the person other than heartache, and graciously accept their offering.