11.20.2007

How to Save a Bad Homebrew

I must admit - every now and then I make a beer that doesn't exactly come out as planned. A prime example of this is my attempt at a Duvel clone, which I called, with high hopes, Dorée Forte (that's French for Strong Gold). I got astounding mash efficiency, so the alcohol was way high. But the recipe called for dosing with corn sugar in secondary, so I did it. That was a mistake. I bottled a sample at transfer to secondary, and it was AWESOME! But the yeast just couldn't handle the extra corn sugar I dosed it with, and couldn't consume it all. I ended up 0.3% ABV short, which doesn't sound like much, but that's a lot of sugar! So it was sweet as a lollipop and flat as water. Even adding yeast to every bottle didn't save this one. If anything, it made it taste more infected.

Well earlier in the year, I made a second attempt at a recipe that was wildly successful in terms of crowd appeal. It was called Stonington Memorial Summer Ale, and it was an American Wheat Ale, with a nice tangy taste, light color, and highly carbonated. My second attempt had some sort of weird thing, where it ended up tasting like Blue Moon - with that Belgian taste. Maybe I transferred it on the same day I did the Doree Forte, and got a bunch of the Belgian yeast in there - who knows? But this SMSA2 came out dry and fizzy.

Finally, with about two SMSA left and 5 Doree Forte, I realized: dry and fizzy + sweet and flat = perfect! Turns out to be totally true. With SMSA2 at 4.4%, and Doree Forte at 11.3%, that makes a half-and-half blend of the two 7.85% - pretty strong. And with SMSA being absurdly fizzy (many bottles foam over) and Doree Forte being flat, they make an averagely carbonated beverage. Finally, the Belgian flavor in the SMSA is perfect for Doree Forte, which is where it belonged in the first place.

I feel inspired to blend other beers. For example, my IPA and Holiday Ales are both likely to have a low finishing gravity, and as such, a somewhat thin body. I could brew up a high-bodied ale to blend with them to perhaps round them out. Blending is like the perfect way to compensate for deficiencies in one brew by making the inverse of that deficiency in another brew.

Ever blended homebrews? I'd love to hear about it.

3 comments:

Matt said...

I'm wondering when in the process you're "blending."
I recently bottled a hybrid of helles and a dunkelweisse, which I got too anxious and tried last night...about two weeks too early (flat) and I'm wondering if its easier to add the two separate batches together rather than try to create a recipe made from each.

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mikey said...

Excellent advice to turn around an otherwise bad brew. It's bound to happen to everyone eventually and what is more important than getting it right every time is learning how to deal with things when they go wrong.