Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: brick pig on June 19, 2014, 08:57:43 PM

Title: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: brick pig on June 19, 2014, 08:57:43 PM
On Father's Day my wife and I were wandering around town in the nice Spring weather, and wound up for a time in our local kitchen gadget store. They sell beer kits in there, and I overheard a woman telling the shop owner that since she and her husband moved to town, he's made two batches of beer that were so bad they had to pour them down the sink. To make a short story long, I jumped in to say that I've been brewing with our local tap water since moving to town almost 11 years ago, and I've never had a problem. Ditto for several friends of mine who are homebrewers in the area. Told her to have her husband get in touch with me and we'd see if we could figure out the problem.

This prompted me to think, though, that in the 18 or so years that I've been brewing, I've never made a batch I didn't drink. Sure I've made some that I didn't absolutely love. Some that was too watery or otherwise didn't have the best mouthfeel. Occasional batches that didn't taste exactly like I expected. And obviously some recipes that I simply didn't much care for.

The worst batch I can remember was in 2003. It had a noticeable (to me, at least) funky finish. It is by far the worst batch I ever made, but it was still drinkable. In fact, I had one friend at the time who told me it was one of his favorite of my brews that he'd tasted up to that point, so what I perceived as a fault may very well have been a matter of opinion.

To my knowledge, none of my homebrewing friends have ever had a real catastrophe, either. An explosive bottle here and there, of course, and like me, a few batches that didn't make it onto the favorites list. But I don't personally know of anyone who's dumped a batch.

How 'bout y'all? What's your worst batch?
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: philm63 on June 19, 2014, 09:12:09 PM
Black Imperial IPA. Came out OK up to and including kegging, where I decided to do a final dry-hop charge. Used a nylon stocking, a few ounces of Citra whole-leaf, and some stainless ball-bearings to weigh the bag down so it wouldn't just sit there on the top.

Ball-bearings worked fine - plenty of weight - just that they were 430 grade stainless as they were ball-bearings, and not the non-corrosive type such as 304 or 316. See where this is going?

Darn things rusted over the course of the several days in the keg carbonating and conditioning. By the time it came for the first sip, I knew it was drain food - plenty of iron, though, if you're into that sort of thing. I'm not. Sad day. True story. Lesson learned.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: Slowbrew on June 19, 2014, 09:17:59 PM
I've 2 or 3 that were absolutely undrinkable over my 17 years.
 
It doesn't happen often but it does happen.  Lately my beers have been just kind of "meh", not bad but not great.  I need to focus more and check the details going forward.

You're right though, as long you aren't doing something really off the beaten path, it's difficult to make a truly horrible beer.

Paul
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: brick pig on June 19, 2014, 09:40:05 PM
Heh. I think I'd drink the ball bearings before I'd drink the perfume.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: AmandaK on June 19, 2014, 10:00:11 PM
When I moved to KC, didn't know there were chloramines in the water. Brewed a Wee Heavy and it was a chlorophenol BOMB.

Saved some of it for off flavor classes and dumped the rest.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: morticaixavier on June 19, 2014, 10:52:34 PM
I pinned a cotton hop bag to the bottom of my kettle with the IC for the last 15 minutes of the boil. the bag and about a quarter of the hops actually burned under the wort. Black and charred. the whole batch smelled like camp fire yuk. kept trying to convince myself it was just a happy accident and I had 5 gallons of smoked hefe but finally I gave up my illusions and dumped it.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: denny on June 19, 2014, 11:58:44 PM
I'd guess I've dumped 5 or 6 out of 458.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: kmccaf on June 20, 2014, 12:13:22 AM
I've dumped two batches. Was brewing in an old house with LOTS of mold in the basement. I was opening up my lids too often to sample, and ended up with some awful beer. The incredibly hoppy alt turned out quite nice, even though it was clearly infected. Other two...bleh. Super gross.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: HoosierBrew on June 20, 2014, 12:20:10 AM
I've dumped 2 batches that were oxidized pretty badly over the years. The only ones I've dumped, but I started out fermenting too warm (before I got a handle on the amount of heat produced from fermentation). So there were some overly fruity, estery, fusel-ly headache bombs. Everybody has a story !
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: klickitat jim on June 20, 2014, 12:57:28 AM
Dumped 2.
#1 Was my Weiner Quad. A lovely Belgian Dark Strong that was primed for bottle conditioning with water that had boiled hotdogs rather than sugar.
#2 Was a Vienna Lager that got contaminated with pedio. (I think)
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: Stevie on June 20, 2014, 01:30:46 AM

#1 Was my Weiner Quad. A lovely Belgian Dark Strong that was primed for bottle conditioning with water that had boiled hotdogs rather than sugar.

No way! That is awesome.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: klickitat jim on June 20, 2014, 01:59:20 AM
True story. Use obviously different pans if you are going to cook weenies while bottling
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: Jimmy K on June 20, 2014, 02:08:30 AM
True story. Use obviously different pans if you are going to cook weenies while bottling
Best homebrew story ever. Hands down.

Sent from my XT1030 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: sambates on June 20, 2014, 02:12:00 AM
I've had 2 batches so far:

1. A hard cider that had potassium metabisulfite (whose effects I was unaware of at the time) in it, so the yeast fermented the sugars I added, but not the cider itself. Adding more sugar and yeast to try to amp it up. Ended up with about 6% ABV ape cider vinegar...kept it for too long

2. An ESB that was my first batch using water additions, which sucked. On top of that, I ended up with acetaldehyde bad from taking off the cake too soon or over pitching. Bottle half for a buddy and I dumped my keg and made him dump the bottles.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: klickitat jim on June 20, 2014, 02:12:20 AM
I'll take it!

Discovered the mistake 3 weeks later when I went to check progress. Nasty, though I didnt try it with mustard.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: braufessor on June 20, 2014, 02:59:34 AM
True story. Use obviously different pans if you are going to cook weenies while bottling
Best homebrew story ever. Hands down.

Sent from my XT1030 using Tapatalk

Yes.  This^^^^^^ :o  Awesome... in a horrible, horrible way....

I dump batches I don't like... no big deal.  The worst batch?  Hard to say for sure.  I am positive I had some horrible infected/chlorophenol bombs back when I started 17+ years ago.... blocked those out at this point. My worst batch in the last 5 years was a spiced pumkin ale.... held out hope on it for about 2 years before finally opening 40-50 bottles and dumping them down the drain.

Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: majorvices on June 20, 2014, 11:27:35 AM
I have dumped a lot of beer. Most of the times it was perfectly good beer that I was just making room for something else I was more excited for. But there are times I've either just not liked a beer via recipe flaws or experimental flaws that otherwise were perfectly fine but that I had no desire to drink. There have also been a few off infections and some fruit fly infection via hot, humid southern summers and pervasive fruit flies.

I own a commercial brewery now and am more anal than ever but I am proud to say I have not had to dump a batch is a long, long time. Now let me go find some wood to knock on. Nothing is worse than dumping $10k of beer down the drain over a stupid mistake. Let's not ever talk about the exploding bottle recall. OMG that was a nightmare.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: HoosierBrew on June 20, 2014, 11:48:17 AM
True story. Use obviously different pans if you are going to cook weenies while bottling
Best homebrew story ever. Hands down.

Sent from my XT1030 using Tapatalk



Wait, that is true ?  I thought it was BS all this time. Well I hope they were at least good all beef franks   ;)
Yeah, greatest homebrew story ever !
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: reverseapachemaster on June 20, 2014, 01:19:23 PM
I've dumped a few. Simple early homebrewing errors early on mixed with a few experiments gone wrong. The worst was my first attempt at water adjustment. I left the digital scale set to ounces and ended up with a beer that way entirely too minerally. It fermented out but it tasted way too salty to drink. I used most of the batch for cooking and dumped a few bottles. I found a couple bottles about a year ago. The bottles were probably two years old. Opened them up and it smelled and tasted like the liquid in cans of black olives. Needless to say, that is a mistake I have never made again.

I have a batch of sour beer that has been a problem in every sense. It is acetic as heck and the flavor isn't great but I think I'm going to hold on to the batch and use it for blending.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: denny on June 20, 2014, 01:40:22 PM
I have dumped a lot of beer. Most of the times it was perfectly good beer that I was just making room for something else I was more excited for. But there are times I've either just not liked a beer via recipe flaws or experimental flaws that otherwise were perfectly fine but that I had no desire to drink. There have also been a few off infections and some fruit fly infection via hot, humid southern summers and pervasive fruit flies.

I own a commercial brewery now and am more anal than ever but I am proud to say I have not had to dump a batch is a long, long time. Now let me go find some wood to knock on. Nothing is worse than dumping $10k of beer down the drain over a stupid mistake. Let's not ever talk about the exploding bottle recall. OMG that was a nightmare.

The first rule of the exploding bottle recall is not to talk about the exploding bottle recall....
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: factory on June 20, 2014, 01:53:03 PM
I have never dumped a batch, but like many folks, I've had a couple of disappointments.  One of them was my first lager.  The yeast I used was Saflager S-23.  It threw off the worst sulfer smell ever!  I waited and waited hoping that it would disappear with age.  Needles to say, it never did.  Called that one Ass-Gas Smoked Lager.  One of my friends loved it (after he got past the smell).  Had a Cream Ale that was pure diacetyl.  Tasted like I was eating a stick of butter.  Never dumped either batch because friends drank them.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: beersk on June 20, 2014, 01:53:41 PM
I dumped a lot last year in tracking down an infection. I've got it figured out and now I've brewed a lot of fantastic beer this year. I narrowed down one of my issues to my racking cane. I've since gone to fermenting in kegs and doing a closed transfer to the serving keg. This allows me to clean my jumper hose with BLC and get it nice and clean. Whereas, with my racking cane and tubing, I just rinsed out after use. Now I feel much more comfortable with my process and am brewing solid beer. Before that was contamination from co2 lines from a beer backing up into the lines causing mold to grow and giving me butterscotch beers. Ugh. That was a rough time figuring that out...dumped a lot of beer.

On to better days...
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: Wheat_Brewer on June 20, 2014, 01:58:34 PM
I've never had a batch I've dumped but I have made some experimental beers such as a watermelon wit that came out fine...but 5 gallons of it is way way way too much.

I did take a few beers back from a buddy I gave a bunch of bottles to. He claimed they kept exploding but the ones I kept and the ones I took back are perfectly carbonated. He's off the list of beer receiptients for being a drama queen.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: Stevie on June 20, 2014, 02:09:07 PM
I narrowed down one of my issues to my racking cane.


Cleaning racking canes and tubing sucks. I currently rinse with hot water and then clean the next time I have a bucket of cleaner (brew day, bottle cleaning day, cleaning day day).


I recently started using a window box liner for cleaning long parts like racking canes, dip tubes, and my mix stir. They come in all sorts of lengths and are much sturdier than the wall paper trays I've seen others use.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: brick pig on June 20, 2014, 02:45:14 PM
I agree with everyone else: the hot dog water story is awesome. Coolest sad story I've ever read.

@factory: I've never had great luck with lagers. They're always perfectly drinkable, but they've never measured up to my ales. I simply don't have the resources to keep them at a constant-enough cool temp to be really successful.

I think my luck with not having had any batches go so wrong as to need dumping stems from two pretty obvious factors: 1- Since I began brewing, I've always lived in places with decent water, so I very, very rarely do any treatment, and 2- I am absolutely maniacal about sanitizing my equipment, before, during, and even after, every brew and every bottling.

I also very rarely take readings, so most of the time I'm not opening my fermenters at all except to rack or bottle. (I'm only brewing for my own drinking, so I'm not much concerned with my ABV and whatnot. Sometimes if I'm trying something I've never done before, I'll keep a closer eye on things, but not often.)

Or, maybe the odds have just been stacking up against me all these years, and I'm coming due for a run of disappointments. Yikes.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: euge on June 20, 2014, 02:51:59 PM
I've dumped a few for being infected or contaminated. If it is just poor choice of ingredients or bad brewing then I get to suffer reminded of my mistake with every sip.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: Herminator on June 20, 2014, 02:54:49 PM
Only had to dump one batch so far.  It was actually rather recent.  IPA that was so oxidized that is all I could taste.  Bummer was that I spent roughly $40 on hops just for this one batch.  Oh well.  To be honest...I am intrigued what a quad with hotdogs tastes like.  ha.  Cheers!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: udubdawg on June 20, 2014, 03:01:45 PM
I've never made undrinkably bad beer, but have had a few fizzy bug infections and a couple batches of apple cider vinegar.  Although after Gary Awdey's talk I'm scared to death discovering mousiness in my cider.   ;D

worst mistake was probably at the end of an incredibly long double brew day, pitching the belgian yeast onto the dunkelweizen and the weizen yeast onto the patersbier.  beers turned out OK good, but all that work to end up with something different than I aimed at was pretty deflating at the time.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: pete b on June 20, 2014, 04:01:20 PM
Bad karma for not pan frying or grilling hot dogs. No one but no one boils a hot dog... ;)
I once put on my beekeeping suit and safety googles to one by one open about 30 bottle bombs and pour them back into the bottling buckets. Only thing that ever went down the drain was a carboy of mead that spent an unknown amount of time in the cellar with a dried out airlock. Plenty of not quite right beers but nothing horrible. The best wit I made I'm quite certain had an infection that gave it a nice sour/funk.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: tomsawyer on June 20, 2014, 04:15:46 PM
Back in the late 90's I used to love watching my extract batches ferment, so I'd keep them in the kitchen.  Warmest room in the house.  For some reason every thrid or fourth batch would be too fruity nasty to drink.  Eventually I read about the importance of fermentation temperatures and realized my error.  I pass that on to everyone who'll listen now.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: beersk on June 20, 2014, 06:29:22 PM
I narrowed down one of my issues to my racking cane.


Cleaning racking canes and tubing sucks. I currently rinse with hot water and then clean the next time I have a bucket of cleaner (brew day, bottle cleaning day, cleaning day day).


I recently started using a window box liner for cleaning long parts like racking canes, dip tubes, and my mix stir. They come in all sorts of lengths and are much sturdier than the wall paper trays I've seen others use.
Not a bad idea. I think I've settled on my method now. Closed keg-to-keg transfer with co2 kicks major @$$. I don't think I could go back.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on June 20, 2014, 07:15:29 PM
I made a couple of marginal batches when I first started brewing in early 1993, but they did not get dumped.  However, there was a point in the late nineties where I was dumping batches just to free up carboy and keg space.  I had friends calling me to see if I had any batches that I planned to dump.  It was crazy.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: etbrew on June 20, 2014, 11:33:33 PM
Only dumped one batch.  It was my first attempt at a smoked porter.  I was all excited because I love smoked porters and I smoked the malt myself.  This might have been my 4th or 5th batch of beer and when I opened the fermenter I got nailed with and intense band aid aroma.  I waited hoping it would clear out but ended up dumping it.  It was nasty!
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: majorvices on June 21, 2014, 12:36:23 PM
I have dumped a lot of beer. Most of the times it was perfectly good beer that I was just making room for something else I was more excited for. But there are times I've either just not liked a beer via recipe flaws or experimental flaws that otherwise were perfectly fine but that I had no desire to drink. There have also been a few off infections and some fruit fly infection via hot, humid southern summers and pervasive fruit flies.

I own a commercial brewery now and am more anal than ever but I am proud to say I have not had to dump a batch is a long, long time. Now let me go find some wood to knock on. Nothing is worse than dumping $10k of beer down the drain over a stupid mistake. Let's not ever talk about the exploding bottle recall. OMG that was a nightmare.

The first rule of the exploding bottle recall is not to talk about the exploding bottle recall....

Hahaha! Exactly! It's been a couple years and I'm still not interested in talking about it. The pain goes too deep. But there are a few funny stories about it. Next time we have a beer together I'll confide.

A side point,

The thing about brewing, if you haven't made a few bad batches you're just not picky enough, IMO.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: santoch on June 22, 2014, 06:27:57 PM
Just last year I brewed a porter that had one of the most prolific phenolic off-flavors I ever tasted.  The batch had a blowoff but I hadn't been watching it for a few days.  When I finally checked on it, it had gooey and dried up yeast everywhere.  I cleaned that up but obviously not well enough, and a wild yeast took over.  I fermented it out and bottled it and used some to teach a few BJCP classes, but dumped the rest.

I couldn't have doctored a more distinct off flavor if I tried.  It was awful.

Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: gmwren on June 23, 2014, 12:13:30 AM
I know what the topic means, but since my first flight lesson in 1976 and about 5000 hours of helicopter since 1985, I'm proud to say, I've never "crashed and burned." All emergencies handled, even if it meant some time stuck a long ways from anywhere.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: dannyjed on June 23, 2014, 01:24:14 AM
I've dumped 2. One was a "wet" hop IPA that got infected and the other was an IPA that got terribly oxidized. Many times if I have a beer that I don't care for I call up a few friends to come over and fill up growlers.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: Milwaukee Mike on June 23, 2014, 11:30:28 AM
About 8 years ago I brewed a Wit using my 14G conical. After 12 hrs no signs of fermentation. After 24 hrs still no ferment. I am thinking WTF? I used fresh yeast with a starter. I popped open the access and could see wort almost to the top. I then took off the entire lid and it was full to the brim. Again WTF? I know I only had 11G's of wort. I then realized I forgot to dump the sanitizer. Wasted brewing day.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: Pi on June 23, 2014, 12:50:28 PM
About 25 Years ago my mom gave me a brew in a bag kit. It should've been called "brew in the basement" 'cause the bag exploded all over the place! I thought: "there's got to be a better way". I picked up Pappazian's book and haven't stopped brewing since!
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: euge on June 23, 2014, 04:50:06 PM
How about filling a fermenter and realizing you've left the tap open? Lake of beer across kitchen floor....

Not a good time to walk away.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: Raul on June 23, 2014, 06:16:36 PM
I made a batch that got left on the mash too long and turned bitterly astringent.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: mchrispen on June 23, 2014, 08:02:11 PM
Quote
How about filling a fermenter and realizing you've left the tap open? Lake of beer across kitchen floor....


I did this recently after changing from carboys to Speidels... three brews in a row. Third time I swear I checked the valve and still left it open while filling. I often wonder how I made it through school without someone beating me over the head with a two-by-four...


For the record, I no longer use the valve on the Speidels. Good ole' racking canes for me!
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: brick pig on May 18, 2015, 05:38:13 PM
Big brewing problem this weekend. My grain bag sprung a leak big enough to let some of the grains out, but not big enough for me to notice until the end of the steep. Lots of grain scorched on the bottom of the kettle.

Ooops.

I transferred as much of the liquid (and as little of the loose grains) as I could to other pots & pans, and as quickly as I could effectively do so I scoured the scorch off the bottom of the brew kettle, re-sanitized everything, and went on with the rest of the brew.

Everything looked & smelled like it should (I've made this recipe a number of times before), but I guess I won't know how successfully I salvaged it until time to bottle.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: brick pig on August 27, 2015, 03:57:08 PM
Not that anyone has been losing any sleep over this, but I thought I'd check in here to say that the scorched grains I wrote about in that last post didn't seem to hurt the final product at all.

This batch is noticeably cloudier than previous batches of I've made from this recipe, but I expected that. Tastes perfectly normal, though.

Lucked out this time.
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: 69franx on August 27, 2015, 04:24:34 PM
Glad it worked out for you. It seems like sanitizing everything "mid-boil" was not necessary if you still had more boiling to do, but better safe than sorry for sure
Title: Re: How Bad Have You Crashed and Burned?
Post by: johnnyb on August 27, 2015, 04:48:07 PM
Only about 40 batches so far and no dumpers yet, and really only a couple of batches I was unhappy with. I am fortunate enough to have started brewing after the internet made so much information readily available and the brewing explosion made so many excellent ingredients readily available.

Closest I had to a dumper was an ESB that smelled like sulfur every time I brought the pint to my lips. My friend thought it was ok, so I left the keg at his house for him. He said it actually got much better with a little age.