Moving On From a Difficult Batch

A homebrewer’s journal, by John Kleinchester

So my last homebrew column was a bit of a bummer. My very first lager that I invested a lot of time and effort into ended up being a pretty big disappointment. As with any homebrew that isn’t good, the best bet is to just set it aside and let it mature and hope against hope that it just needs more time. I did just that with the lager and in doing so I ended up taking a little bit of a break from brewing. It was really intentional, but looking back on my brewing history I do seem to suffer from lulls whenever things go south. But… that’s okay. Sometimes taking a bit of a break and coming back to it revitalizes you… until history ends up repeating itself.

My homebrew fire was rekindled and I ordered a bunch of materials for a few different batches I wanted to attempt: Extra Pale Ale, American Wheat, Chocolate Stout, California Common and Berliner Weisse. I tried to plan a mix of simple recipes and some more difficult ones. I quickly brewed the Extra Pale Ale, American Wheat and the Chocolate Stout and I was very happy with the results. For the Chocolate Stout I ground Cocoa Nibs in my coffee grinder, which smelled amazing. Before I knew it, both new beers were done fermenting and ready to be kegged. But the problem was that the lager was still sitting there, taking up keg space. I took one final pour from the faucet and it tasted worse than ever before. Time to dump it, I thought.

So I did. I’ve covered dumping homebrew in previous articles so you know how heartbreaking it is. But while I was sending it down the drain, I decided to take a glass and give it one last try before I finally freed the keg. I took a sip. Yes, you guessed it. It was good. Not great by any means, but I actually enjoyed it. Sigh. It’s just how it goes sometimes. If nothing else, it gives me hope that I can make another attempt at a lager without feeling like it’s going to be a total waste.

On the bright side, the Chocolate Stout is tasting amazing right now. Up next are the hurdles of the Berliner Weisse and the California Common, which is a Lager/Ale hybrid. Then after all of that is kegged and ready (and tasting good), then maybe it’ll be time for yet another attempt at the Lager. I refuse to give up!

American Wheat

Cocoa nibs in the grinder

Pouring in the cocoa nibs

Chocolate stout

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