“What a SAVE!!!” – Salvaging my Troublesome Homebrew

My latest 5-gallon batch of homebrew started off with such promise.  I actually researched a recipe, felt very confident about my choice of hops/malt/grains, and was excited to break-in my new propane burner (a.k.a. turkey fryer).  The Michigan spring weather was perfect – life was GOOD.

The boil was achieved without any setbacks, and my pretty pet looked and smelled fantastic.  The rapid cooldown took longer than anticipated, but no worries – this wasn’t my first rodeo.  I pitched the yeast, sealed her up, and sure-as-shootin’ one day later we had ourselves a bubbling airlock.  Now we just play the waiting game and in just over a week we’ll have ourselves 5-gallons of tasty, tasty ale.

Except somewhere between here & there, we did NOT in fact have ourselves a tasty ale – we had ourselves a funky-tasting alcoholic grain beverage.  No worries – two weeks soaking in hops will fix this mess.  Except two weeks later, things had only slightly improved – the brew still gave George Clinton a run for his money in the funk department.  No, no, NOOOOO!!

So what next?  Flush 5-gallons of alcoholic grain beverage down the proverbial failed-homebrew toilet, lick my wounds, and try again?  Naw man, naw.  Like I said, this wasn’t my first rodeo – and i’ve been known to be stubborn as a nasty carpet stain.  After doing some research and talking with the top-notch brewmasters at Witch’s Hat Brewing (http://www.witchshatbrewing.com), it seems my little issue with the rapid cooldown may have done more damage than anticipated (note to self – buy an immersion chiller, dagnabbit!).  So now my focus could shift towards making this thing drinkable.

My tastebuds kept telling my brain that the biggest problem was bitterness.  Since this thing still had some ale-istic tendencies, a little sweetness was in order courtesy of some honey.  The other problem was potency, but nothing a little added water couldn’t fix.  My hand quivered as I raised the glass to my mouth for a taste-test…lawd have mercy, it worked.  It worked!  I no longer needed to quickly change the subject any time somebody asked “Hey, how’d that homebrew turn out?” – things were gonna be ok!

So in the end, I think there were three key lessons from this whole ordeal:  (1.) I think Lt. Col. Frank Slade from the film Scent of a Woman had some sage advice – whether you’re homebrewing or dancing, “When you get tangled up – tango on.”  (2.)  Never give up on your dreams, and never give up on your beer! And (3.) Honey can fix ANYTHING.