Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

Other than Brewing => The Pub => Topic started by: gmac on February 10, 2011, 06:23:31 AM

Title: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: gmac on February 10, 2011, 06:23:31 AM
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?
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: euge on February 10, 2011, 07:25:09 AM
That's a homebrew dream... :)

Spring had sprung and the "cool place" turned out to be a "warm place" and while the beer was beautiful in all other respects it tasted like nail polish. That's how I came to throw out my second batch.

Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: phillamb168 on February 10, 2011, 09:46:07 AM
Well, this isn't technically 'bad' anymore, but about a month ago I tried to do a Magic Hat #9 clone, and used apricot extract. YEcccch. The bathroom smelled like chemical apricot for a week, and when we tried the beer... oof. Like drinking apricot-flavored cough syrup with a whole lotta astrigency and peaty/phenolic off-flavors. I figured it was due to the overuse of extract.

I kegged it anyway and now that it's about a month old, it's getting pretty drinkable, so not a fail necessarily.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: oscarvan on February 10, 2011, 01:05:10 PM
Today I am brewing batches 12/13 ....... I haven't had a bad one yet......

Oh no, I probably shouldn't have said that..... :o :o :o
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: tygo on February 10, 2011, 03:01:02 PM
I brewed up a Mocha Porter and instead of using 12 oz of prepared cold-pressed coffee I used 12 oz of ground coffee to make about three quarts of cold pressed coffee.  The resulting effort (I hesitate to call it beer) tastes like cold, carbonated coffee.  I bottled it but I haven't been able to choke down more than a few bottles and I'm certainly not giving it to anyone.  I guess it'll hang around until I need those bottles and then become drain cleaner.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: nicneufeld on February 10, 2011, 04:16:41 PM
I've had a lot of mediocre beers, but no standout, ye gods that's horrible! beers.  Many of them were just inadvisable recipe formulation.  Chipotle IPA...a strong and dry IPA with so much dried chipotle heat I might as well have not hopped it.  Apricot IPA, using both fruit and extract...had a strange flavor, not a lot of apricot outside the nose.  Not undrinkable, just disappointing.  My third batch was a barleywine that finished way, way too sweet.  I added oak, bourbon, dry hops, and I think molasses to that beer.  Not great!  I had an 80 shilling have a slight phenolic "eau-de-bandaids" aroma, but I still drank that beer.  Never have used peated malt again!

I once tried to make a batch of parsnip wine, thankfully only a small batch.  Finished insanely sweet, and tasted like flavorless rocketfuel.  Thankfully that was a 1gal batch!  Made a stout braggot one time that also finished way too sweet, around 1.040 or 1.030 I think.  I rescued it by fortifying it...the addition of bourbon made it more reminiscent of some weird Anglo adaptation of port. And the one batch that got a lot of it thrown out was when I fermented a carboy of pear nectar in hopes I could make perry.  The pear solids settled to the bottom with the yeast, and the flavor...leaving a thin, sugary liquid on top that fermented into bland rocketfuel.  I bottled it and several years of aging seemed to really improve said rocketfuel, but not before a lot of it got thrown out or used in things like fruit fly traps (the little beggars adore the smell of fermentation).



Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: morticaixavier on February 10, 2011, 04:33:02 PM
Also not a standout. but I did a honey vanilla brown ale a couple of years ago that just was unpleasant. to sweet and the vanilla bean didn't come through so I added extract at bottling time which didn't get mixed well so some bottles were bland and some were like drinking vanilla extract (Which seems like it should be good but isnt')
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: dak0415 on February 10, 2011, 04:37:33 PM
In 2006, before I started AG, I did a 1 gal batch that was 8oz of DME and 16oz of Rice solids with some cascade hops, don't remember the yeast.  I was going to throw it out, but my neighbor seemed to be able to drink it.  Other than a REAL funky, stressed contaminated batch that never made it near a keg, that was my worst.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: abraxas on February 10, 2011, 04:49:04 PM
I lost track of a Darklord style Imperial Stout for a couple of months that underwent some autolysis- pretty damn awful tasting which was disappointing because earlier samples had been very promising.

My friend brewed a recipe called Mountain Brew which had, you guessed it Mountain Dew in place of much of the water.  It was very fusely and fairly rancid.  Easily the worst beer I have ever had that made it to bottles.



Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: tschmidlin on February 10, 2011, 05:08:47 PM
My first all-grain brew I used a garden hose to fill the HLT.  Talk about tasting like plastic!  I've made lots of others that weren't great, but none come to mind that were truly awful.

I brewed up a Mocha Porter and instead of using 12 oz of prepared cold-pressed coffee I used 12 oz of ground coffee to make about three quarts of cold pressed coffee.  The resulting effort (I hesitate to call it beer) tastes like cold, carbonated coffee.  I bottled it but I haven't been able to choke down more than a few bottles and I'm certainly not giving it to anyone.  I guess it'll hang around until I need those bottles and then become drain cleaner.
You can brew up another batch and blend in the glass . . . maybe 25% coffee beer, 75% new batch?  Or just drink it for breakfast. :)  You can also use some bottles for chili, bbq sauce, lots of cooking options.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: abraxas on February 11, 2011, 12:13:58 PM
The resulting effort (I hesitate to call it beer) tastes like cold, carbonated coffee. 

Actually that doesn't sound too bad.  Heat some up for a Sunday morning pickup.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: tygo on February 11, 2011, 12:18:56 PM
It's also kinda on the watery side since I dumped in so much extra liquid prior to primary.  I'll have to pull another bottle out this weekend and see how it's coming along.  I did think about blending it pre-bottling but ran out of time and space.  Brewing up a regular porter and blending the glass like Tom suggested is a possibility.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: cheba420 on February 12, 2011, 05:09:46 AM
Second batch of cider I made turned into vinegar! No idea how it happened...wasnt pleasant. Dumped the whole carboy down the drain. Horrible. Just plain horrible.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: brewmasternpb on February 12, 2011, 07:13:15 AM
Unfortunately, I've had plenty.  Before I discovered that a carbon filter was necessary for my water, I had a few Chlorophenol ruined beers.  They tasted like paint.
And then there's the beer in which my buddies and I got drunk, and put ThanksGiving in the beer... (didn't even bottle that one).
And then there's the Mild that turned a milky white during fermentation... straight down the drain with that guy...
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: Bret on February 12, 2011, 08:22:06 PM
Marathon bottling session and a rinse was skipped or rushed.  10 gallons of excellent House ESB (20 lbs of Marris Otter--the humanity!) that had a nice hint of chlorine. Dumping 5 cases of bottles is a very sad chore.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: Slowbrew on February 12, 2011, 09:35:50 PM
My second year of brewing I made a "Christmas Ale".  Black as pitch and with all the spices, vanilla beans and a lot of extract I had spent over $50 on this one beer (10 years agoe).  I bottled it in September, chilled and tasted one in December.  It was the worst tasting thing I had ever had.  So many flavors were trying to come forward and dominate it made my wife want to get sick.

I was unwilling to throw it away so I let it age, thinking it might get better (actually I was too cheap to give up on it).  After a year it was still awful.  After it two it was getting a little better.  The short versin is that 7 years later we drank the last one and had to admit it had gotten to be pretty good.  I figure another 3 years in the bottle and it would have been something I would serve to others.

7 - 10 years is a little longer than I like to cellar a beer though.

Paul
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: dannyjed on February 12, 2011, 10:10:24 PM
My first Barley Wine turned out way too sweet...kinda like cough syrup with a hint of hops.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: gisbrewmaster on February 13, 2011, 12:05:43 AM
My second or 3rd beer 3 years ago I made a honey amber ale from a kit.  It followed all the instruction including ferm temp recommendation it tasted like battery acid.  Being lazy and all i kept it in the closet for almost a year when SWMBO asked if she could have some of her space back. I cracked on opened and it was awesome!  I think I have learned honey takes time!

GISBREWMASTER
Matt C.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: witsok on February 13, 2011, 01:16:37 AM
My second batch.  I made one extract kit previously, never read a brewing book but been on plenty of brewery tours.  Of course, tours for the most part don't really give any information on how beer is really made - especially 20 years ago.  So I decided extract brewing wasn't for me and I want to do all-grain (did I mention I never read a homebrewing book).  So I bought all black patent, ground it into flour and boiled it.  Tried to seperate the grain from the water, pia!  Surpise, it didn't ferment and tasted like $#%^.  So I decided I better read some books.  Been brewing regularily since 1992.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: Bret on February 13, 2011, 02:43:23 AM
My second batch.  I made one extract kit previously, never read a brewing book but been on plenty of brewery tours.  Of course, tours for the most part don't really give any information on how beer is really made - especially 20 years ago.  So I decided extract brewing wasn't for me and I want to do all-grain (did I mention I never read a homebrewing book).  So I bought all black patent, ground it into flour and boiled it.  Tried to seperate the grain from the water, pia!  Surpise, it didn't ferment and tasted like $#%^.  So I decided I better read some books.  Been brewing regularily since 1992.

We may have a winner. This is hilarious.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: tschmidlin on February 13, 2011, 06:51:39 AM
My second batch.  I made one extract kit previously, never read a brewing book but been on plenty of brewery tours.  Of course, tours for the most part don't really give any information on how beer is really made - especially 20 years ago.  So I decided extract brewing wasn't for me and I want to do all-grain (did I mention I never read a homebrewing book).  So I bought all black patent, ground it into flour and boiled it.  Tried to seperate the grain from the water, pia!  Surpise, it didn't ferment and tasted like $#%^.  So I decided I better read some books.  Been brewing regularily since 1992.

We may have a winner. This is hilarious.

Yeah, great story!  Do you remember how much black patent you bought for what volume?  I'm wondering what the people at the homebrew shop thought.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: dbeechum on February 13, 2011, 07:06:06 AM
No way I can top that one, but similarly my second batch went pear shaped.

Think it was a side effect of cockiness and a lack of sanitation.

Damn thing wasn't even worth making chili with.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: maxieboy on February 13, 2011, 03:48:57 PM
My second batch.  I made one extract kit previously, never read a brewing book but been on plenty of brewery tours.  Of course, tours for the most part don't really give any information on how beer is really made - especially 20 years ago.  So I decided extract brewing wasn't for me and I want to do all-grain (did I mention I never read a homebrewing book).  So I bought all black patent, ground it into flour and boiled it.  Tried to seperate the grain from the water, pia!  Surpise, it didn't ferment and tasted like $#%^.  So I decided I better read some books.  Been brewing regularily since 1992.

We may have a winner. This is hilarious.



Fixed... :D
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: gmac on February 13, 2011, 06:09:01 PM
My second batch.  I made one extract kit previously, never read a brewing book but been on plenty of brewery tours.  Of course, tours for the most part don't really give any information on how beer is really made - especially 20 years ago.  So I decided extract brewing wasn't for me and I want to do all-grain (did I mention I never read a homebrewing book).  So I bought all black patent, ground it into flour and boiled it.  Tried to seperate the grain from the water, pia!  Surpise, it didn't ferment and tasted like $#%^.  So I decided I better read some books.  Been brewing regularily since 1992.

We may have a winner. This is hilarious.

Yeah, I thought mine was bad but at least I got something akin to beer.  I can't imagine what you had, some sort of barley soup???



Fixed... :D
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: ullarsskald1989 on February 13, 2011, 07:05:13 PM
July 1974, my 1st batch.

I had noticed that the local A&P was selling 3# cans of Blue Ribbon malt syrup (with the little picture of Lena Pabst standing next to the logo) in the baking section.  I knew from reading my dad's Bud labels that beer had malt in it, so, hmmmm...maybe I can make beer.

Bought 2 cans, popped off the label and found a Prohibition era recipe: 2 cans malt, 1 can table sugar, 2 packets bread yeast (to be added after the liquid cooled to "baby bottle" temp) and enough hot water to make 5 gallons.

Remembering that dad's Bud mentioned hops, I looked that up in the dictionary: herb that gives beer bitterness.  Okay, no hops, what else is bitter...dandelion roots, just like making coffee substitute.  So, 4 ounces of cleaned, chopped dandelion roots, figured I should boil them in the water before dissolving in the syrup.

Got an empty frosting bucket from Dunkin Donuts to ferment the beer in, a rubber sheet and some string to hold it on as a topper (following what I had observed of a couple of my mom's uncles who made wine).

The local hardware store stocked cork lines caps.  My mom found an old Ideal capper at a garage sale (75ยข, I still use it), Powers' Bar provided 2 cases of empties, the pet store some aquarium water line...

(fast forward) I drank 1/2 a glass, poured the rest down the drain and forgot about that batch.

15 years later my mom reminded me that it was still sitting in the cupboard in the back corner of the basement.  I buried all I could find...the other case turned up about 7 years ago and joined it's mate in the grave by the side of the garage. =)

Needless to say, I've improved.
Title: Re: Worst Homebrew Ever!
Post by: el_capitan on February 14, 2011, 02:35:15 AM
I attempted to make alcoholic root beer - that was a big mistake!

A buddy gave me a 5-year old extract kit with about 3 lb of corn sugar and some DME.  Even though I knew better, I thought "what the hell" and brewed it.  DUMPER! 

Those were about the worst.  It's kind of nice to brew 1-2 horrible batches, so everything else looks good by comparison!