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A few batches ago, I had a "learning experience". I now have some pretty good ideas of where I went wrong (mainly, not having any idea how to design a recipe), but I'm wondering what I can do with a case of not-very-tasty (but not completely ruined) beer. This mess started with:

  • Using too much molasses (12oz jar of molasses, with 9lbs DME)
  • Pitching a single smack-pack into a wort with OG of 1.090+
  • Using about half of the amount of hops I probably needed

The batch finished around 1.025, tastes way too sweet, and is not carbonating after about 6 weeks in the bottle. Things I have tried:

  • Warming the bottles up (it's summer in Georgia. They're not too cold)
  • Inverting the bottles (rewarded me with a tiny hiss after a week. Still flat and sweet)
  • Mixing with a light beer (it takes a full bottle of light lager with half bottle of my beer-syrup to make something drinkable)

I have another batch that is about ready to bottle. I was planning on pouring my remaining 36 bottles of beer-syrup into the empty fermenter (on top of this batch's yeast), and adding a gallon of heavily-hopped light (1.030) wort to try to bring the IBUs and body back in line with something resembling beer. I would let it re-ferment for a few days before re-bottling.

Does anyone think this would work? Is there something easier I can try? Should I just use this batch to cook ribs? Am I just embarrassing myself on the internet here?

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Fun facts about this batch - it also clogged the airlock and blew the lid off the fermenting bucket. Now I know what a blow-off hose is for. –  Bob May 21 '12 at 13:42
    
Update: Proceeded as planned, using some of @mdma's advice. Turns out that Mythbusters was right: you CAN polish a turd! I probably won't be winning any awards for this one, but the "fixed" version actually turned out pretty good. –  Bob Jun 17 '12 at 0:58

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

IMHO, play this batch to its strengths, e.g. cooking ribs or perhaps serving on nitrogen, or mix at pouring time with another beer.

You could try salvaging the batch by blending, but if it still doesn't turn out as you like, then you will have wasted two batches.

Since it's already bottled, that would deter me away from trying to rescue it, and instead I would focus on creating a new batch from scratch using your recent experiences as a guide.

If you do attempt a rescue, keep these points in mind:

  • you want to get the best attenuation from the light malt so I would ferment that first rather than adding your high alcohol beer initially. Add the high alcohol beer when the small batch is actively fermenting (usually after 24 hours.)
  • even if you get 80-85% attenuation, which is on the high side for an ale yeast, the 1.030 wort will ferment down to around 1.005-6. 1.025 may well be close to the actual FG for your molasses brew considering this is an extract brew, in which case the final gravity for the mixed batch will be around 1.021 - still quite a sweet brew. You may be lucky and the renewed fermentation might reduce the gravity of the syrup beer a few points, but 1.018 is probably the lowest you'll get without using enzymes to produce a more fermentable wort.
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You can't fix Sh!t beer. Invest your time and money on re-brewing it the way you wanted to brew it.

Pouring the beer into a fermentor will only oxidize it and make it worse, regardless of what you want to add to it.

If you are really hell bent on keeping it, go to your favorite bottle shop and buy the strongest double IPA you can get.

And blend to taste in the glass with this beer. But you can see right there you are chasing good beer with bad.

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The opening line says it all. :-) Turd polishing is a fruitless endeavor. –  mdma May 21 '12 at 14:55

I'm in line with brewchez and mdma when they say not to rescue the beer especially since it has already been bottled. Everything tends to get better with time, so cellar the beer, forget about it and revisit it around November or December and see if it's gotten any better. If not, I'll give you my address (I'm one state over) and you can ship it to me. NEVER pour out a batch of beer. You'd be surprised how many uses there are for "lessons-learned" beers.

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I have never tried this personally, however I remember an episode of "Basic Brewing Radio" titled "Hopped Vodka" or something like that. This guy used Vodka (and a specific procedure) to basically make a hop extract. The hops were soaked in the Vodka and a couple different distillation procedures were used (freezing and removing water, and something else) and in the end he was left with a hop syrup which he claimed was great to add to an under hopped batches, or something you bought from the store that you wanted to "kick it up with the good stuff". You could try something like that on your "wrecked" batch. Also, through personal experience and discussion with a master brewer, I have found that 1 cup molasses is about all you should use in a 6 gallon batch, unless you are very familiar with it's effects on your wort and the final taste of your product.

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I'm now very familiar with the effects of molasses :) –  Bob May 23 '12 at 14:34

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