Friday, March 29, 2013

Types of Homebrews

My condolences if it's so bad that you're having a hard time deciding between these two beers
If you're lucky (or occasionally unlucky) enough to know a homebrewer, you get the opportunity to try some amazing (or not) beers that few other people get to ever try.  No matter the results, we should never discourage people from continuing to practice this amazing craft.  Even the most pedestrian beers were still the result of hours of slaving over hot stoves, drinking beer, and careful measurements.  Sometimes, not in that order.  And other times spending a wee too much time with one of those steps.

Some of the biggest thrills for a homebrewer is to win a competition or be in a pro-am with one of their favorite breweries.  But, not all of our efforts turn out the way we plan.  My first home brew hit the unintentional hat trick of flat, awful taste, and basically non-alcoholic.  My brewing partner bravely drank four bottles to see if he could feel the alcohol we had calculated.  He said he felt something.  I figured that something was probably food poisoning.

I have to admit that I'm fairly new to homebrewing and, as such, have made some of the less glorious beverages on the list below, but those, uh, setbacks, got me thinking:  How many different types of home brews are there?

I'm sure there's more, but I'm pretty sure we've all got to taste some that fell into one of these categories:

The Great Homebrew- These are the amazing beers you wish you could buy.  These are worth volunteering for hard labor to get your hands on one. These are special and are the absolute cream of the crop.

The Good Homebrew - These are basically as good as you can buy in your favorite store that sells craft beer.  They have complexity, flavor, and basically hit all the right notes.  It's times like this that you're glad you know a brewer.

Over Hopped - These have the floral nose like a bouquet of flowers stuffed in a bottle.  This hop headed brewer believes in the axiom that more is more and triples the hops in every recipe he sees.   Will be pungent when sniffed from the next block over and probably be not totally unlike tear gas when you're within 20 feet of the open bottle.  Could be tasty, if you like your IBUs higher than the the IQ of the latest Jeopardy champion.

Light Beer Brew - This brewer is conscious about his and your health. He/She will probably only give you one after you finish a triathlon.  And I mean a full ironman one,  not one of the pansy sprint tris. 

Light Beer (accidental) - This beer either had some minor inefficiencies with the grain bill or the brewer doesn't like to get bogged down with details such as "units" and "conversion".  Quart/Liter, meh, close enough, right?

Mediocre (all grain) - Ho-hum, nothing special but it tastes like beer, so that's nice.  These, typically batch sparged, are still good home brews but they lack some of the depth of the great ones.

Mediocre (extract) - I like malty flavors so don't mind the extra sweetness even if its more caramel than beer.   Reds, Browns, and stouts are okay. Lagers and ales, not so much as the sweetness can start to be distracting.  Not to mention the honey bees lining up for the "next" bottle.

Poor - I'm not sure if I'm getting a little too much soap, sanitizer, or yeast cake but there's some interesting stuff going on with this beer.  And by interesting, I mean like kitchen chemistry gone wrong.  Oops did I accidentally knock over every open bottle on the table? Clumsy me, I'm so sorry.

Chunky - This beer eats like a meal and has more sediment than a miner's pan fresh out of the river.  If you think you found gold, consider not finishing your beverage.  If you find bone, it's socially acceptable for you to violently expel your innards.

Flat - It looks like someone forgot to add the priming sugar, just saying...

Oddly metallic tasting - This beer is probably either using extract from an old bomb shelter or beer that's been kegged since prohibition.  If the brewer tries selling you on the antique nature of this beer, you might want to dump it into the nearest planter housing a plant you don't like.

Odd Smelling - In the words of Han Solo, "what an incredible smell you've discovered."  This beer has a scent.  A funk.  A funky scent, even.  You're not cool with it but it's seeping into your clothes.  I hope you don't like your shirt, because you're going to need to burn it later.

Non alcoholic (accidental) - Well if it tastes okay it's alright but not many people rave about painting their house the wrong color, but maybe it's just me.

Awful - Oh no!  Here he comes with another batch of rotten hops, stale malt, dead yeast,
with just a hint of rubbing alcohol. Dear god what have I done to have you forsake me so?

All joking aside - when someone gives you a homebrew they're giving you a piece of themselves and, while we can't all be master brewers, let's encourage each other and push each other to make beer, become better brewers, experiment, and to educate other people of everything beer can be.  Let's help them learn that there is a beer for everyone.  If one of the takeaways from the Pixar film Ratatouille was "anyone can cook", the same is true here: anyone can brew.

I lift my beer (not the Mickeys in the photo above but a real beer) to you homebrewers.  Cheers and thank you!

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