How To Fix Common Homebrew Problems
Sometimes no matter how hard you try you end up with a mediocre beer or even worse an undrinkable beer. Don’t beat yourself up because we all “fail” a batch at some point. It’s also important to not throw in the towel and just dump the batch. I’ll show how to fix common homebrew problems and prevent them from happening again.
Figuring out where your problem occurred should be your first goal. It will keep it from happening again and might come in handy if you can fix the batch. Hopefully, you kept some notes but if you haven’t make sure to do it on your future batches. Brewing is fun but you should at minimum keep some basic notes for both problem solving and the ability to repeat great homebrew batches.
Even if you didn’t keep notes you can probably fix your beers with one of these methods. That said do try to keep a few notes next time!
Problem: My beer looks weird in the fermenter!
Wait it out and see how it tastes once finished fermenting! Homebrew can look quite strange even when doing a batch you’ve done before. Nine out of ten times your brew will turn out fine even when it looks odd. The best thing you can do is to leave the yeast alone to do its work and not worry about looks until you get to taste it before bottling or kegging.
Problem: My beer is erupting from the bottle like a volcano!
In the beer world, we call this a gusher. This is typically caused by an overcarbed beer or poor sanitation. You can attempt to salvage these by slightly popping caps and resealing. Even with the salvage method, you’ll want to keep the bottles cold and away in a safe spot. Gushing beer sucks but these can end up exploding if really overcarbed. Drink quickly, carefully open, or dump the batch.
Problem: My beer is under carbonated or flat!
- Check a priming calculator to make sure you added the proper amount of sugar.
- If you didn’t then it’s as simple as popping your bottles and adding more sugar. Remember to sanitize your new caps and don’t add too much sugar.
- If you did use the proper amount then start by giving the beers more time and move them to a warmer location. Two weeks is the standard carb time but by no means the perfect amount of time. Boozy and long-aged beers can take several extra weeks to carbonate.
- At this point, if you’re still having carb issues then you can try to pop each bottle and add some fresh yeast. A few grains of CBC-1 will finish carbing even higher gravity beers.
Problem: My beer isn’t bad but the flavors aren’t quite right.
- Time, time, and more time is your friend in this situation. Some beers need time for the flavors to meld better. Each beer will vary so you’ll just have to try a beer every few weeks.
- If time doesn’t work then I’d suggest drinking as is or blend with another beer.
Problem: My beer is sour!
Some failed beers turn into really tasty sours. The bad thing about ending up with a “good sour” is you’ll likely have trouble remaking it without amazing notes. Your only real choice is to enjoy it, cook with it, give it away, or dump it because you’re not getting the sour out of your beer.
Problem: My beer tastes like vinegar!
Just like the sour situation, there is no fixing this! Dump it or try cooking with it because you basically made malt vinegar. Better sanitation, cleaning, and not over aging in fermentation will help prevent this in the future.
Problem: My beer, mead, or cider smells like sulfur (rotten eggs)!
This is more common with cider, wine, and mead but can happen with beer too. A lack of nutrients has stressed your yeast and has caused excess sulfur. You can simply drink as is and ignore the smell (taste is usually fine) or age the batch till it fades. Next time throw some yeast nutrients in your batches to prevent this.
Problem: My beer tastes like cardboard!
Sorry to burst your bubble but your beer has been oxidized. The only real thing you can do is cook with your beer or dump it. Make sure to be more careful when siphoning and maintain your CO2 blanket in all steps. Avoid a secondary unless you really need it.
Problem: My beer tastes very grassy!
Sorry but your beer will likely always be overly grassy so you’ll want to drink as is or dump it. Grassiness is generally caused from excessively long hopping times in the boil or dry hop. A secondary cause could be moldy or old malt. Always taste grain before milling to check for freshness!
Problem: My beer tastes very metallic!
This is another no-win situation where dumping your beer is probably the only option. The first problem could be from your water containing too much iron. Use filtered or spring water if you know your water is high in iron. Metallic flavors can also be caused from improperly stored or old grain. Next time take a bite of your grains before milling. You should be able to pick up the metallic taste before ruining your beer.
Problem: My beer tastes like medicine or band-aids!
There’s likely no saving this batch from this flavor. The root cause for band-aid or medicine flavor is generally from untreated chlorinated water or poor cleaning / sanitizing. Your water can easily be fixed with a Campden tablet added to your boil as it will remove both chlorine and chloramine. For cleaning and sanitizing you need to make sure you follow directions properly. Don’t over clean and sanitize things!
Hopefully, these tips help you save a batch or an injury. Feel free to email me or comment additional tips below.