We’ve not done a lot of homebrewing recently — we’ve either been out and about at weekends or too tired.
And, when we have brewed in the last year or so, the results haven’t been as brilliant as we would have liked. We’re getting to be quite finicky and are past the stage of being pleasantly surprised our beer is vaguely drinkable. We can buy drinkable beers easily and cheaply: we want our beers to be astounding.
We’re not trying to make wacky or extreme beers, and maybe that’s why its become a challenge. There’s nowhere to hide in something as simple as an altbier or best bitter — malt, hops and subtle yeast leave you very exposed.
The trouble is, it can be really difficult to nail down what’s wrong, particularly when it’s not so much an off flavour as the absolute absence of a key flavour. And, as you address some problems, others emerge. For example, we’ve been concentrating on improving the malt flavour by experimenting with lower temperatures, decoctions etc., so it’s disappointing then to taste the latest batch; note that, yes, there are lovely malt flavours; but be disappointed to find that they are overwhelmed by a ‘homebrew’ flavour that means we still wouldn’t want to drink several in a single sitting.
There are so many variables to play with — where do you start?
We’ve been inspired by enthusiastic hop-related posting at the Thornbridge Brewer’s Blog, Reluctant Scooper and Geoff’s website to get brewing again in earnest and, like Geoff, we’re going to do more single hop brews to try to learn a bit more about the differences between varieties.