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Old 09-10-2011, 07:18 PM   #1
Shoegaze99
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Default Blending already bottled beer with fresh, uncarbonated beer

TL;DNR - Can I gently pour (or siphon) already bottled and carbonated beer into a bottling bucket, let it go flat, add new uncarbonated beer to it, blend, prime, and bottle? Or do I risk major staling from the first batch of beer I'd be letting go flat?

Full version:

I have a spruce ale/colonial porter that has been sitting in bottles for about four months. It came out awful; the spruce was way too up front. Tastes like floor cleaner. Completely undrinkable.

I did not dump, of course.

At the end of the month I plan to open and taste. If it's mellowing to the point where I can choke it down I may wait it out some more.

However, I'll also have on hand some other commercial beers. If it's still undrinkable -- and I've heard of spruce taking a year to mellow to the point of merely "drinkable", so it may be -- I will blend it with a few commercial beers (Founder's porter, Anchor porter, other styles) and see how they taste.

My plan? If a blend tastes nice, to brew a clone of the commercial beer, then blend it with the existing spruce ale/colonial porter. That will salvage the existing beer and hopefully give me a nice winter porter.

However, the logistics of blending when one of the beers is already bottled, primed and carbonated are problematic. Not sure if pouring or siphoning them is going to oxygenate the hell out of them, too, making for a double batch of beer that will degrade FAST.

Anyone with experience blending beers have input, advice, anecdotes, etc.?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-10-2011, 08:21 PM   #2
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I'd toss it and start again. Too much can go wrong. Not worth wasting more beer/time/money in trying to save a bad beer.

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Old 09-10-2011, 09:20 PM   #3
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I'd toss it and start again. Too much can go wrong. Not worth wasting more beer/time/money in trying to save a bad beer.
exactly. no sense in drinking bad beer, my time is better spent learning what went wrong and brewing better the next time than drinking my (bad) mistakes. if you feel like you're choking it down, it's better to dump it.
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Old 09-10-2011, 09:41 PM   #4
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The way I see it, you've got a better idea already in your post: blend the beer by the bottle, when you're ready to drink.

I was watching an episode of Brewing TV where they went to a brewery that regularly blends beer straight from the tap. Seems like a fun thing to do, in fact, I've been experimenting with my own beer blending.

Anyway, so if one of these commercial/spruce beer "test" blends tastes good, why not go ahead and brew the clone, bottle as usual. Then you can take a fully conditioned bottle of Spruce beer and a conditioned bottle of the clone and pour half of each (or whatever proportions work) in a glass. This way you can also enjoy the clone on it's own, and still see if the spruce one gets any better after further aging.

Sure, it's not ideal, but it's better than potentially ruining another full batch. Anyway, that's what I'd do.

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Old 09-10-2011, 10:06 PM   #5
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exactly. no sense in drinking bad beer, my time is better spent learning what went wrong and brewing better the next time than drinking my (bad) mistakes. if you feel like you're choking it down, it's better to dump it.
I think you misunderstand. I have no intention of choking down bad beer. I do intend, if possible, to create a blend that turns it into a solid beer worth drinking. There is a long and happy tradition of blending beers; many brewers do it; some even manage to create amazing high end brews by doing it (though in this case they start with with great beers for their blend).

I have no reason to believe that with some experimentation I can't find a good combination that makes this a worthy beer. The question is in the logistics of getting it done, since brewers generally aren't blending finished bottled beers; if I can safely degas and recarb that original beer without subjecting it to oxygenation.
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Old 09-10-2011, 10:12 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by onipar View Post
Anyway, so if one of these commercial/spruce beer "test" blends tastes good, why not go ahead and brew the clone, bottle as usual. Then you can take a fully conditioned bottle of Spruce beer and a conditioned bottle of the clone and pour half of each (or whatever proportions work) in a glass. This way you can also enjoy the clone on it's own, and still see if the spruce one gets any better after further aging.

Sure, it's not ideal, but it's better than potentially ruining another full batch. Anyway, that's what I'd do.
This is a good suggestion. it's not as convenient, of course, and it wouldn't allow me to give bottles of the blend to people, but it does have a further advantage beyond limiting the risk of ruining a second batch when I attempt the blend: I'll effectively have three different beers. The original spruce, the cloned beer (whatever it ends up being), and the blended version when drinking.

Actually, that gets me thinking. If I do find a good mix, maybe I just go ahead and blend half of each batch, retaining half the original and half the new beer each in their pure form. A way to have my cake and eat it, too, maybe.

I split most of my batches as it is, devoted one half to an experiment and the other half to keeping the beer in its pure form. So that route would be little different than what I already do.

(Now that I think about it, 5 of my last 7 batches were all split in some way.)
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Old 09-10-2011, 10:28 PM   #7
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Yeah, if you're set on blending prior to bottling, then the split batch idea is a good one.

I'm really of no help concerning your original questions about if pouring out the bottles, degassing, and blending would work or not. Something tells me that the act of pouring out the beer and then letting it sit to go flat (or actively degassing) would probably oxidize it to a certain extent, but I've got no science to back that up.

I guess siphoning from each bottle would decrease that possibility a bit. I'm sure there are other factors too that I can't think of (like will you mix the yeast from the bottom of the bottles you empty back into the beer, or keep it out of the new blend, and how will that effect the beer?)

Anyway, I'm interested to hear what you eventual do, and how it comes out, so be sure to update us, and best of luck!

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Old 09-10-2011, 10:30 PM   #8
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How long has your spruce beer been sitting? If it takes up to a year for it to be good I would save at least 1/2 a case and let it sit for that long.

I think blending it is not a bad idea, however if it was me, I would mix it with some commercial beers, see what tastes right, and write down the ratio then find a recipe for that beer. I would then brew a batch of the beer. In one fermenter I would add your spruce beer and stir the crap out of it, then add the new wort in the ratio previously discovered, pitch new yeast and let it go, and bottle as normal. I would use the rest of the new wort as usual, in a different fermenter, it would just be a smaller batch.

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Old 09-10-2011, 10:42 PM   #9
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I would then brew a batch of the beer. In one fermenter I would add your spruce beer and stir the crap out of it, then add the new wort in the ratio previously discovered, pitch new yeast and let it go, and bottle as normal.
Just so I understand you, you're suggesting doing the blend prior to fermentation of the second beer? Essentially adding the spruce beer to the wort (or vice versa) and letting it ferment together?

Hmmm. That's an interesting approach. Hadn't considered that.
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Old 09-11-2011, 03:42 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Shoegaze99 View Post
I think you misunderstand. I have no intention of choking down bad beer. I do intend, if possible, to create a blend that turns it into a solid beer worth drinking. There is a long and happy tradition of blending beers; many brewers do it; some even manage to create amazing high end brews by doing it (though in this case they start with with great beers for their blend).

I have no reason to believe that with some experimentation I can't find a good combination that makes this a worthy beer. The question is in the logistics of getting it done, since brewers generally aren't blending finished bottled beers; if I can safely degas and recarb that original beer without subjecting it to oxygenation.
without a doubt many breweries blend beer but you pointed out the rub, they are not usually trying to rescue a bad batch. i would be worried about having a bigger batch of no so good beer.
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