I repeatedly tell friends that I’m a shitty brewer, an amateur brewer and someone who’s just starting out. Simply because my hoppy beer is hoppy and drinkable with minimal hops floating around in the keg, doesn’t mean I should go and open my own brewery. To the sort of people who read this blog, that’s obvious. A lot of idiots brew beer but only a small percentage should actually brew professionally.
I get by.
My equipment is usually clean enough, I am not too picky with how clean my equipment is and I don’t label things well enough to split up the wild yeast equipment with non-wild. I haven’t had any infections until just recently but that was probably my fault. Okay, it was definitely my fault. What happens when you ferment a saison in a carboy that previously held a sour beer that was not cleaned properly? The answer is pretty simple.
I generally ignore the instructions that say I should add fruit to the secondary fermenter…nah, I put everything in right before pitching the yeast, blueberries and all. I ferment too low or too high, I don’t filter the beers when siphoning to the kegs and I clean my draft lines every 6 months.
I’m a terrible home brewer.
But, when someone comes over and likes whatever hoppy beer I threw together that should have been 8% but is now hovering at 11% (or 5%) depending on how efficient I was on brew day, they utter the words that I should start a brewery. How wrong they are.
Yesterday, I took all of my kegs out of the kegerator which takes a lot of work and I hate my kegerator setup. It’s a very tight fit in there and I got out the Blichman Beer Gun and prepared to pressure fill a few 1 Litre swing tops to send some beer to friends who have been asking for it. I repeatedly tell people on Untappd my beer isn’t worth the cost of shipping but they insist and the guy who gave me the Maple Sap I promised a few litres of as well so anyway, typical day of 1 hour of prep where I sanitized the bottles and chilled them, hooked up all of the hoses, cleaned a work space off in the cramped kitchen and prepared to fill some swing-tops.
Foam, foam foam.
Usually, the blichmann does a great job but it turns out all of the kegs were over carbonated at around 12 PSI. I forgot to turn down the regulator once the beers were all carbed up and now I was pouring foam out of the beer gun despite a 2PSI pressure on the tank and a 10 foot long 5/16″ tube. The result, by the time I filled 1 growler of my insanely expensive and time costly Imperial Stout, I had wasted close to a gallon filling 1 litre of beer. and it was flat. I drain poured the growler this morning upon realizing that.
Overall, I went through a gallon out of each of my kegs trying to fill 1 litre each to send to people..all of it was flat and the process of getting the kegs back in the kegerator and hooked up took another 30 minutes.
I spent a lot of time yesterday for nothing and I’m pretty pissed off about it.
This is how it goes though. After only brewing beer for 11 months, I’m still very new at this. I’ve had good luck with hoppy beers, and okay luck with wild ales. My 3rd stout tastes pretty damn good but it was a $50 grain bill, + $20 in vanilla beans + $30 in bourbon and it has had to sit for 4 months so the oakiness from those spirals subsided so overall, it’s drinkable but nothing fantastic. The $80 in Blueberries I added to this saison was a waste because now I have this tannic shitty mud water because I suck at filtering out yeast cake when kegging.
Overall, I think it’s a good idea to remain well-aware that I’m a shitty beer brewer and keep pushing myself to do better which means spending more time and money on the practices of beer brewing and less time on trading, rating and attending events. I’ll still do that stuff but I really want to become a great brewer. I want to be REALLY good and make exceptional drinkable beers that I choose over commercial beers and I’m not going to do that with fancy bourbon, vanilla beans and blueberries. The only way I’m gonna do that is to go back to basics and brew a simple porter, a simple stout, a very basic saison and then increase the skills from there. A saison without fruit is boring but a saison with fruit that was brewed haphazardly with $80 in blueberries is even worse because I wasted time and money on a beer that’s not even drinkable.
I’m writing this not for the reader but for myself so hopefully I can look back in a year and feel proud that I wrote this and said out loud that I need to seriously work on my skills and remain humble that I’m a shitty brewer and need to make improvements or else I’m going to keep wasting time and money brewing shitty beers that just get bored out into the back yard. I’m tired of doing that. and I’m going to aim to do better.
More reading, more time on sanitization and more time spent designing the beers I plan on brewing and not just brewing because it’s Saturday and I have nothing else to do.
I appreciate everyone who has read this blog and enjoyed my successes and my failures as a brewer but I think we all know I need more work so I’m promising myself that I’m going to do better and be better and strive to be great.
Thanks for reading.