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Joechianti

From Lemons To Lemonade

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I know this might strike some brewers as heresy. But sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation. Sometimes, after all of our hard work and dedication, after all the expense and planning and the heart we put into a brew, it turns out to be "not quite right", to put it nicely.

Well, I am not one to dump all those ingredients and all that hard work, patience and sacrifice down the drain.

Just as an example, I picked up a few bottles of sugar free flavoring syrups from Wal-Mart, apparently intended to flavor cups of coffee. They were like $3 or $4 each for a 12 ounce bottle. To my surprise, they are doing a very nice job of masking over several different undesirable "off-tastes" on a few brews that just didn't quite make the grade. It only takes like 1/4 tsp at most for a quart of beer. I have tried Hazelnut, Chocolate and Raspberry so far.

Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

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Nice! Glad to hear your beer isn't being cast aside. We must love all our children no matter how they turn out!
I had about 5 or 6 flat bottles in my last batch. I poured them all into my stomach.

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"jivex5k" post=279972 said:

Nice! Glad to hear your beer isn't being cast aside. We must love all our children no matter how they turn out!
I had about 5 or 6 flat bottles in my last batch. I poured them all into my stomach.

LOL. I agree with you. The only drain they go down is my belly. The worst batch I've had out of 22 was the one with fusel alcohol. Since I read that it has no different effect on health than ethanol (other than the nasty taste), I've been diluting it big time with other brews that came out too sweet, and drinking it all up.

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I applaud your fortitude.

I unfortunately subscribe to the life is too short to drink bad beer philosophy. I’ve been lucky to only have one bad batch so far (a Mr Beer Cider Mix - I am a cider snob and it was horrific). A bad batch just means that it’s time to make a new one and in the meantime run to the liquor store for some tasty emergency beers.

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Good job, Joe.

I tend to agree with you, but I also maintain that sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and move on. Fortunately, I've had to do so only rarely. The biggest sacrifice was my last batch of holiday porter. I don't know what went wrong with it, but the ingredients never really meshed, and every bottle was a gusher. It wasn't as popular that Christmas as the batch the year before, and I had a lot of it left over, which I was reluctant to drink, myself, I'll admit. Every month or so, I'd put another sixer in to chill, and every time I tried one, it was a gusher, and a disappointment.

Eventually, I decided I needed the bottles more than I needed to give the porter a second (and third, and fourth....) chance, so I dumped the rest.

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"FedoraDave" post=280025 said:

Good job, Joe.

I tend to agree with you, but I also maintain that sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and move on. Fortunately, I've had to do so only rarely. The biggest sacrifice was my last batch of holiday porter. I don't know what went wrong with it, but the ingredients never really meshed, and every bottle was a gusher. It wasn't as popular that Christmas as the batch the year before, and I had a lot of it left over, which I was reluctant to drink, myself, I'll admit. Every month or so, I'd put another sixer in to chill, and every time I tried one, it was a gusher, and a disappointment.

Eventually, I decided I needed the bottles more than I needed to give the porter a second (and third, and fourth....) chance, so I dumped the rest.

Dave, I hope this doesn't come out wrong, but I'm actually glad to hear that you have had some bad batches, too. It makes me feel not so bad to know that it can happen to even very experienced brewers. Thank you for being honest enough top share that. I am pleasantly surprised that I've met some of the most interesting and decent people ever right here on the Borg. I thought I was just here to learn about brewing, but as a bonus I'm learning a lot about people and even about myself.

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Joe, it's not a bad thing to make mistakes. It only proves you're human. But to refuse to learn from your mistakes is a bad thing.

I'm not ashamed to say I've made some bad batches. The holiday porter just didn't work out; I don't know why. I had another batch that I didn't even bottle, but just dumped the LBK right down the drain. It was my first attempt at all-grain, and I didn't realize my LHBS didn't grind the grain they sell. So I had whole grains and no mill. I tried to crush them with a rolling pin, but didn't do a good job of it, and I probably got an efficiency of about 30%. My optimism only carried me through about ten days of fermentation before reality hit me in the chops like a wet haddock. So it went down the drain, and I freed up my LBK for another batch.

Then there was the brew from my Mad Scientist phase, where I combined pureed strawberries with the West Coast Pale Ale HME. That was the weirdest batch I've ever made. Some bottles tasted pretty good. Others were barely drinkable. Some were gushers. Some were just bleh. I didn't dump any of them, but that's the batch that convinced me I'd better learn more about the ingredients I was working with before I started experimenting.

I'm pleased to say that just about all of my other batches have been very good batches. A couple of them have been excellent. And the more I brew (and the more I miss the mark, however slightly), the more I'm able to zero in on what might get me where I want to be on a particular recipe. And that excites me.

I think I know what I need to do with my Trilby Brown Ale, and I can't wait to try it and see what the result is. And just this week, I had a brainstorm about my AG recipe for Indy Cherry Wheat. Just a minor tweak, and it may improve it in a big way.

This is what makes this obsession such a great one; we can grow and improve and experiment, and it all takes us closer to where we want to be as brewers and beer drinkers.

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+1 Dave. I've had some failed batches, including one that was fairly recent. I probably should have dumped it, but I'm too cheap, so I mixed it with better beers and drank it down.

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"bpgreen" post=280326 said:

+1 Dave. I've had some failed batches, including one that was fairly recent. I probably should have dumped it, but I'm too cheap, so I mixed it with better beers and drank it down.

So true BP, you can't make ugly beautiful but you can sure make her up to take her out. I have had one batch that I drank 3 bottles of and the rest I gave to my despot (read: tyrant or A$$hole) nephew-in-law. He didn't like it either but at that point I didn't care.

My daughter turned my high ABV WWW into a radler using sprite and she loved it and wants me to brew another batch. I am such a cheap heb that I cannot pour homebrew down the drain no matter how desperate I am for bottles or space. Pride overwhelms all whims. Brew on.

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It's therapeutic to hear stories about batches that went wrong instead of always hearing about success. It takes the pressure off to know it's okay to make mistakes.

Speaking of bad batches, I just opened up another bottle of the batch that got hot in fermentation and had strong fusel, in the form of nail polish or varnish smell and taste. I could not force myself to dump it so I waited. After 4 1/2 months, that thing is about 50% less fusel. I didn't even blend it with another beer, just drank it by itself. Wasn't a grand treat, but I could stand to drink it. I'll let it go a little longer still. I'll try another one blended with a better brew maybe this weekend, too.

Now I just need to see how that butterscotch disaster does with a little aging. I love butterscotch, but this is too much of a good thing. Not awful like the fusel, but not so pleasant, really. Just too overpowering. I hope it mellows, at least enough to blend with something else and be decent.

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This thread has reminded me of my MB Winter Dark Lager recipe, brewed 11/03/2011:

RECIPE:
1 Can High Country Canadian Draft HME
1 Can Mellow Amber UME
1 Packet Dry Brewing Yeast (under lid of HME)
1 Packet Saaz Hops
1 Muslin Hop Sack
1 Packet No-Rinse Cleanser

It had an alcohol taste that never went away. I suspect high fermentation temps, as the ingredients are pretty straight forward. I still have some in the pipeline that I keep for cooking, per Fee's recommendation, though I may sample one today - just for sheets and grins.

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