How to get and give proper feedback on beers.

Getting good feedback on your beer is the best possible way to understand not only a particular beer, but brewing techniques for every style across the board.

Feedback allows you to get a perspective that’s different from yours. Without even knowing, you may be bias towards one aspect, and miss another. The more opinions you get can help cover more bases.

Now I’m not talking about having professional tasters or judges analyse your brew (but that would surely help forsure) I’m talking about your friends, or maybe other club members.

There is more to it than handing me a sample and asking me what I think, or how I like it. I’m 99 percent sure I will say “oh I like this!” Because I genuinely like almost anything… so that’s not really giving you any usable information is it?

To get even the most basic critique or info on your beer, even if you’re not actively looking for it, Keep in mind that we all sense things differently, and you’re probably overlooking something.

That statement opens a lot of doors. And works both ways depending if you are the taster, or if it’s your beers being tasted.

Next time you are offering up samples…

taster

Be a bit more specific in what info you are looking to get back.

Instead of “Hey what do you think”, try.. “Hey this is my Irish Red, what you think of the bittering?”  Or, “ What do you think about this late hop I tried?” Or even “You think this is a Porter or Stout”

This immediately lets the other person know how they are supposed to approach the beer, and what you are looking for, and helps me focus on more than “Mmm that’s good”

With a more specific question like those above,  even a generic “yea thats great” response now has more weight to it, because it was evaluated in the narrower parameters that YOU wanted.

Be ready and accepting of both good and maybe not so good feedback.

Even right now at this very moment, I know people who very adamant about saying how they don’t care what anyone else thinks, they make it they way like it, and just shrug off any kind of thoughts given.

Of course making beer they way YOU like it IS what is most important, but ignoring helpful insights can hamper your ability to get it, or keep it where you like it.

You like your beer because of “X”. Taking some advice could make the “X” even better.

Sometimes, what people tell you about “this” beer, can help you make one of your “other” beers better. Take all the info you get, when you get it. It will always be useful later.

And almost all of the times people give you insight on your beer, they are comparing it to one of their own beers. By sampling their beers you can gain more of where they are coming from.

Once you get an idea of why they think this or that, you can use that to ask them questions of what they did to get their “X” where it is.

Enter your beer into a homebrew contest. Specifically a BJCP style contest.

I know there are quite a few people who just will not enter a contest for various reasons. They don’t want someone telling them their beer is bad. They like their beer just they way it is, they dont care about scores… But that is not necessarily the point, (and this really should be an whole entire post by itself)

Regardless of the score, the judges really give you advice as to why each point of your beer is good, and where, why and how you can improve not only a specific part of your beer, but sometimes even how to adjust your technique for all your brewing.

I hope you can incorporate some of these tips on learning more of your beers, and how to give help and opinions on others.

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Spiced Sweet Stout

Finally made the move back down stairs. Really like off down here much better. Everything is where I need it.

Anyhoo,,went with a spiced sweet stout.  But not really sure of the grain bill.  I bought the specialty grains but never brewed them.  I’ll have to go back and cross reference my notes to see what it is.

Added 1 lb of lactose, 2 crushed cloves, and a 1/4 tsp each of ground ginger,  nutmeg, and cinnamon. With a 04 yeast should make a decent Xmas beer!

Brew Updates

Time to go back to the last few beers and give some up dates.

Back in May I made a lower gravity Honey ale

This beer really came out spectacular. Did have a bit of a hiccup with carbonation. I left it hooked to 40psi for about 5 days. Ah yep. took a while to gas off. Took a big hunk of the aromatics with it as well, but it still was great. As expected though, no real honey characteristics from the honey. But not sure I would just take the honey out. With that small grainbill, I’m sure it affected the body somehow. I would give it a 4/5

Also in May was the mini extract batch of Brown ale.

I was really hoping for this beer to shine, as I have been having some great extract beers lately. This one however is not one of those. First extract beer in a long time that had the extract taste. But even today as I’m having one, I’m not entirely sure its the extract. I thought then, and now that the heavy hand on the 80L may be whats going on here. Its far far better now in September than it was in June or July. And I really don’t recall the extract taste fading before,, at least not as dramatically. Everything else I love about the beer. The color, the aromas, the feel.. need to revisit this one again. 2/5

The last one here the Zerg the Pines Amber  is really one of my favorites. Though I gotta say its nothing like what I wanted or expected. I wanted the real piney, dank stuff like the Titletown Eureka beer.

It did have some of that sure, but not as much as I hoped. It was more grapefruity, and the yeast really stood out in this. And while its been a while, its really reminded me of Alaskan Alt Amber. I’m still gonna pick up some to do a side by side. Its probably way off, but at least I can nudge it one way or another then.  Definitely going to make this again. 4.5/5

(next up,, time for some stouts)

Porter and fresh hopped

Been doing a little more brewing lately since it’s cooling off. And since I like the morning brews, I’ve been out there 5am.

First was the Memorial Mild. As the name suggests, it used to be my Memorial Day beer. Small, easy going. I think it’s not quite a Porter, but not a Brown either. And brewed it Labor day weekend.

It will be getting served at an upcoming event in October.

Then we finally got to the annual fresh backyard hop brew.

This year I went with a Kentucky Common. A rustic kind of beer that more or less a darker cream ale. Doesn’t really use that much hops. Except almost everything was  Britishy..

While I do have tons of hops back there, this recipe let me get away with only picking for 1/2 hour.

2017 Backyard Hillbilly Amber 5 gal.

  • 7 lbs Maris otter
  • 12oz flaked corn
  • 4oz instant rice
  • 2oz midnight wheat
  • 1oz cluster to bitter @60
  • 1/3 bucket of fresh picked hops @5 min.
  • Nottingham yeast
  • Mashed at 152

Eureka! 

Whoops. Had most of this sitting in draft mode.  So I’ll post it up with some new stuff I was gonna post…

The brewery down the road has a beer on tap that uses Eureka hops. Wow I had to have these. Like cedar siding in the basement kind of action.

I was going to be making an Amber any way so let’s do both.

ZERG THE PINES   5 gallon

  • 10 lb 2 row
  • 1/2 lb 60L
  • 1/2 lb 40L
  • 2 oz chocolate malt (500 but probably shoulda went 350)
  • 1 oz pearl @ 60
  • 1 oz Eureka @ 5
  • Nottingham yeast
  • Mashed 154

Should be kegging this up today so will have some feed back soon.

Also managed to beat the birds to some currants this year. 

Got about 3 lbs before the mosquitos drove me out. Be looking for a reddish blond coming out soon!

The Throwback Brown Ale

This week’s brew was more of a plan ahead kind of thing. I will be brewing a barley wine in the next two weeks, so I need yeast. So, how bout a 3 gallon batch to steal the yeast cake from….

Since I will be using Nottingham yeast, why not an good old Brit Brown? Haven’t had a good British Brown ale in a long time. All the ones you find now days are too Americanized.

So I went back into the vault and found o e of my long lost extract brown ales. (Needs a new name)

Basement Brown 3 gallon extract

  • 1 can light LME
  • 12oz crystal 80
  • 8oz carapils
  • 8oz biscuit
  • 3/4oz EKG
  • 1/4oz EKG
  • Nottingham yeast

Well for some reason, I could not get Beersmith to work they way I wanted. I don’t know if I was using wrong profile or what, but it wanted me to be using 8+ gallons of water for a 3 gallon batch.
But figuring out an extract batches needs is like nothing.

3.125 gallons into fermenter
1.75 lbs grain x .12 water absorb
1.5 gallons boil off
.125 gallons kettle gunk loss
= 5 gallons water

I took 1/2 gallons of that water and mashed/steeped the grains in the mini masher while I was bringing the rest of the water to boil. Once I got boil I dumped it I to the kettle and got under way.

I did do a full boil with all of the extract. I wanted to get a little darker color since I used the golden light Lme.

Mmm the smell of a British Brown is awesome. Caramel, EKG.. Oh yea.

Sure looks like a good color going in. As the way with my first rounds of extract beers, I’ll just chuck it in the basement and let it go at what ever temp it is down there.  And right now it’s still 58.  Perfect for Notty.

Honey, and strange hops

Well it’s National Homebrew Day, so let’s brew!

Nephew wanted to see how the brew process works so he dropped in to check it out. 

 I needed to make a beer for Memorial Day and a something with honey. So a very quick 3.5% honey bitter. Plus I got these free hops from Tenatious Badger. (More on these later.

Honey Burst – 5 gallons

  • 4.5 lb 2 row
  • .5 victory
  • 1 lb honey
  • 1oz Michigan Copper @10
  • 3/4 magnum @10
  • Nottingham 
  • Mashed at 155

This was the first brew in quite a while that I made outside. In fact this beer should be completely brewed, fermented, kegged and drank entirely in the garage.

Now these Michigan Copper hops. They are described as “fragrant floral and tropical fruit”  

If fragrant and floral means vomit and parmesan cheese, then I concur. I really had to force my self to put them in my beer. If would have had another 10% hop laying around, these would have been dumped. 

But once they got into the boil they smelled exactly like fresh cut lemon peel.

Both before and after smells aren’t really something I’m excited about having in my beer.. but we will see.