Homebrew mistakes aren’t all that welcome at my place. I devote a fair bit of time to coming up with a beer to brew, working out a recipe and then the several hours it takes to make that brew. And then the three or four week wait to see how it all turned out. To find it didn’t work too well always feels disappointing.
It’s not just because it means I have two crates of crappy beer to get through. And it will be just me getting through it. Unlike crappy store-bought beer, which I’ll happily foist upon visitors who don’t care about beer, there’s just no way I’d serve someone a homebrew I thought missed the mark. Because giving someone a shit homebrew reflects badly on my abilities.
But having a beer not come out as planned is a little soul-destroying. Not a lot, just a little. You have this idea of how the beer is supposed to taste and so, after spending all that time with it, it’s a bit of a downer to realise it hasn’t gone to plan.
Yet mistakes in homebrewing can be hugely beneficial because they are learning experiences. There’s nothing like screwing up a batch of beer to teach you not to do that again.
I’m feeling both those things regarding my latest effort, The Bear (if you’re interested, you can read the full story about The Bear’s creation here). It’s a chocolate coconut porter and, figuring highly carbed chocolate wouldn’t taste nice, I substantially reduced the carbonation in each bottle. From memory, the 750ml got about half the normal amount and the 500ml got a bit less than the stubby measure on my sugar scooper thingo.
The disappointment comes in that the two or three long necks I’ve had so far have all been undercarbed. So undercarbed as to almost be flat. The even greater disappointment comes from the fact that the one 500ml bottle I’ve opened has exactly the right carbonation level. That’s a bummer because A) I didn’t bottle too many 500ml bottles and B) it serves as a reminder of how good those 750ml bottles would taste if I hadn’t screwed up the carbonation.
Still, on the bright side, I’ve learned what happens when I undercarb a beer. It’s also another reminder of the homebrewing tenet not to tweak things too much. Always better to be a bit cautious than reckless. At least that way, you’ll likely ensure your beer will still be drinkable. The Bear, when properly carbed is drinkable – the chocolate flavour is there via the cocoa and I can taste the coconut too. Though my wife could only notice the coconut once I told her it was there, which might indicate a bit more would be needed next time.