« on: February 09, 2011, 11:23:31 PM »
Maybe this has been done before but what's the worst batch you've ever made? We're all proud of our successes and achievements but what's the worst beer you've made. How did it go bad? What did you do wrong?
I'll start off by telling you the story of what has certainly been the worst brew I've ever done (although in a weird way, it turned out to be the best I could ever hope for).
Back in University, about 20 or so years ago, I wasn't that focused on the overall quality of the homebrew I was making. Quantity and alcohol content were the driving factors. So, when I went home over the Christmas break, I decided to make some homebrew to take back to school with me. We weren't allowed to brew beer in our residence although I did fill my garbage can with potting soil and tried to grow a giant pumpkin but that's off topic.... Now, back then I was usually doing all-malt extract brews with my own hops and whatever other ingredients we decided to add. For this batch I went with a classic recipe - and I use that term very loosely - that my friend and I basically pulled out of thin air. The beer was called "Count Hannibal Slim's Royal Ace of Spades Oatmeal and Coffee Breakfast Stout". Hannibal Slim was my buddies Jack Russell Terrier, the Ace of Spades reference was in part homage to the colour of the beer and the classic Motorhead tune we were listening to during the process and the oatmeal and coffee were literally a couple packages of Quaker Instant Oatmeal and a pot of black coffee that we dumped into the brew on a whim.
Because I was pressed for time before I went back to class, I only had about a week to get the beer done and bottled before I had to get back to failing classes. We boiled a couple gallons of water, added our malt extract, coffee, oatmeal etc (this was not a mash process, just a straight up addition) and hops and boiled it for an hour, added it to a carboy with water and pitched the yeast. But, because we were limited on time, and knowing that micro-organisms should work faster under warmer conditions, I kept the carboy at about 90 degrees for the entire brewing process. After 5 days, we bottled into plastic bottles with table sugar and then I surrounded the hot air registers in my parents house with bottles and draped blankets over them to really insulate them and keep the heat in.
Needless to say, it was the most cidery, off-tasting, putrid beer you can imagine but I drank it happily. In fact, when one of my female roommates brought her friend over I offered her some too. Surprisingly, she drank it and even tried to convince me that she liked it. I was so impressed with this girl who could stomach this horrible brew, and keep it down, and pretend to like it that I ended up marrying her. So, what was probably the worst homebrew in history was a great litmus test to help me find an amazing women and now, 20 years later she is finally letting me brew beer again.
So that's the worst beer I've made (so far - there's always room for failure). What about you?