Taking a beer with off flavors to 1st place at Battle of the Brews

Oh Well, What the Hell a couple of weeks following bottle conditioning.

As you may recall (well probably not), on December 28 I brewed a beer that was supposed to be a Laurel India Pale Ale. Since the pre-boil specific gravity came in way too low for an India Pale Ale, I decided to make it a Pale Ale. Simple Pale Ales are not simple to make. There is no place to hide any imperfections. And, after 10 days in the fermenter, I tasted slight soapy and buttery flavors in the new beer. According to John Palmer’s “How to Brew” website, a soapy flavor can result from the breakdown of the fatty acids that are in the trub at the bottom of your fermenter. Butter flavors can result from diacetyl. To some extent a buttery flavor might not be bad. But it can also indicate that your yeast did not start on time.

It has 5.5% ABV and and calculates out to 43 IBU.

Given these imperfections, would we bottle or would we throw the whole batch down the drain?

Well, we here out Flog This Dead (Mule) Brewery looked at our flavor profiles and realized we have no flavor profiles. We wondered if our degrees Plato were met, and we had no idea what that meant. Finally, we checked our standards, and realized we had none, well, maybe not none, but extremely low.

So, since we have incredibly low standards (after all, we answer to no one but ourselves) we went ahead and bottled, and hoping to mask the dish soap flavor, we used honey for the bottle conditioning fermentation.

Now, with only moments to go before we have to serve this beer–which we have renamed after some dead guy and claimed that it’s based on a 1200 year-old recipe involving wild honey and monk sweat–at the homebrewers portion of the semi-prestigious Battle of the Brews beer event. Let’s hope the honey will fool people into thinking the stuff tastes okay.

[Norm smiles and opens doors while carrying boxes filled with bottles of beer named after some dead guy and claiming that it’s based on a 1200 year-old recipe]

The Oh Well, What the Hell Pale Ale garnered 36 points at the Battle of the Brews in Santa Rosa, 2nd place had 35 points, and 3rd had 33.5 points. Woo hoo!

Success! Oh Well took 1st place in the homebrewers tasting competition in BJCP #10A American Pale Ale category.


A winning recipe for the Battle of the Brews, but which one?

Oh Well, What the Hell Pale Ale could be a winner

A few weeks back, I entered my “Oh Well, What the HellPale Ale and my House Pale Ale (a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone using Pilsner yeast to ferment due to the cold temperature in my basement) into the tasting competition of the 16th Annual Battle of the Brews .

I don’t know which House Pale Ale it is. It could be this one. But, who knows? Darn it. If you want to get feedback on your brewing you should at least remember which batch it is, so you can know which tweaks might have worked or not. Well, frankly, the House Pale Ale batches I had made tasted pretty similar, but nothing like Sierra Nevada‘s Pale Ale. SNPA has a slightly metallic taste, in my opinion. I like SNPA, but when I tasted the two back-to-back they were quite different. The difference could be the use of Pilsner yeast instead of California Ale yeast.

Well, Gabe Jackson of the Sonoma Beerocrats sent me an email last night letting me know that one of my entries had “placed in our Battle of the Brew/Craft Cup Homebrew Competition!” Cool. But which ones placed, we do not know yet.

Paul, the president of our Lake County Homebrew Club, entered our club’s Bourbon Barrel Stout that we made at the 2011 Big Beer Brew Day. He was told he also placed.

Still, I guess that’s pretty good feedback. I seem to be making decent beer.

The 16th Annual Battle of the Brews is happening on March 31, 2012 at Grace Pavilion at the Sonoma Fairgrounds. And, I’m going. the BOTB is held for charity. According to their website: “For 15 years, the Active 20-30 club of Santa Rosa has held the Battle of the Brews fundraiser. This event has raised nearly $1,000,000 dollars, the proceeds of which have been distributed by our Youth Benevolent Fund to help change the lives of needy children.”

CliffsNotes for the 16th ANNUAL BATTLE OF THE BREWS:

Local charity fundraiser. Beer tasting, food and music. Must be 21 to enter; valid California Driver’s License required at time of entry.

  • Date: Saturday – March 31, 2012
  • Hours: 2:00 – 8:00p.m.
  • Location:Grace Pavilion
  • Admission: Advance Tickets are $40/pp for Main Event & $95/pp for the Craft Tasting
  • Organization: Active 20-30 Club of Santa Rosa #50
  • Website: www.battleofthebrews.com