Are You Your Own Worst Critic?

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jkmcd3

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Not sure if this is a topic or not, but do you feel as though you are your own worst critic.

I have been brewing for almost 6 years. I have focused more time and energy towards this hobby over the last 2 years though. And I constantly feel as though my beer is....ehh (for lack of a better word).

Do any of you guys feel the same, and what is the best way to get some good constructive feedback on your brews?

Do you hand them out to anyone who will drink them?
Other beer lovers (who of course will be more honest).

Just curious what y'alls thoughts are of your own brews?
 

chip82

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I have always been told when you do something it "is never as good as you thought nor as bad as you thought".

I always ask my brother, who brews as well, to critique to get honest feedback. Then get feedback from other friends who are more knowledgeable about beer as well.
 

LVBen

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Absolutely! I can pick out every single flaw in my beers and I dwell on it. I give people my beers and say "This is good, except that ...". Most of the people that taste my beers tell me that they are good, even when I know they aren't. There is only one person I can rely on for honest opinions about my beer.
 

geer537

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I always have a buddy over for a blind taste test of my beer and a commercial beer similar in style. I blind fold him and then poor the beers. He has no clue which one is which and you can get some really great feed back this way.
 

Airborneguy

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I am definitely my own worst critic. Not too many people actually get to drink my beers. A few of my friends don't really drink and I rarely hang out with people from work. My whole family, and my friends who do drink, think they are the best ever, but most don't know beer.

My best opinions are my father-in-law, and two guys in my homebrew club. My FIL is a wine guy, and has a great palate, so he knows his beer too. He has been totally honest before when experiments went wrong.
 

BryceL

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I always have a buddy over for a blind taste test of my beer and a commercial beer similar in style. I blind fold him and then poor the beers. He has no clue which one is which and you can get some really great feed back this way.
I might have to give this a try. I have two good friends that I always have over to try my beer. I tell them to give me their honest opinion and it really wont hurt my feelings if they don't like it. For the most part they are always stoked on it and I find it hard to pull any negatives from them. I find it good as well, but can usually find some things that I wish to improve on. I just entered an IPA into my first competition to hopefully get some solid feedback. I think it's one of my better brews so far, I'm curious how it will do!
 

mountainbrewdude

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I definitely am! I spilt a wheat beer into two, peach and raspberry and I didn't much care for them. My friends had some a while back, after four months I forgot about them, and loved them. I still don't like them. But unless everyone lies to me, my beer is awesome, but I am always critiquing!
 

chapa

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Homebrew clubs. Everybody might not be able to give you good constructive criticism, but after going a few times, you figure out who are the ones to ask for an honest opinion. The only negative I've really gotten was about a little hotness in some of my higher alcohol brews, because I didn't use any ferm temp control on them. I think I will make it a point to put most of my beers into a swamp cooler at the start of fermentations from now on.

You can also enter into a competition if you are really looking for criticism :)
 
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jkmcd3

jkmcd3

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I might have to give this a try. I have two good friends that I always have over to try my beer. I tell them to give me their honest opinion and it really wont hurt my feelings if they don't like it. For the most part they are always stoked on it and I find it hard to pull any negatives from them. I find it good as well, but can usually find some things that I wish to improve on. I just entered an IPA into my first competition to hopefully get some solid feedback. I think it's one of my better brews so far, I'm curious how it will do!
Good Luck...I would be interested to know how you did as well. Competitions intimidate me a little! One day!!
 
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jkmcd3

jkmcd3

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I always have a buddy over for a blind taste test of my beer and a commercial beer similar in style. I blind fold him and then poor the beers. He has no clue which one is which and you can get some really great feed back this way.
This is interesting. I have actually done something a little similar. I pass out unmarked bottles of brew and not tell people what type it is, and ask them to tell me a beer that it reminds them of.

If I brewed a Hefe and i get feedback that it taste like Killians, I have obviously missed the mark!

Someone said their father-in-law...My pops has always hit me with truth when it comes to my brews. I still feel as though I shred them apart like no one else though!
 

BryceL

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Good Luck...I would be interested to know how you did as well. Competitions intimidate me a little! One day!!
Thanks! I'm really just doing it to get some feedback, so I haven't got my hopes up. The contest is the 30th and results should be out within the week after that.
 

neko

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I'm not the pickiest with my brews but I think almost every batch I make is pretty good to great, not always commercial quality, but I wouldn't hesitate giving it to friends. Lots of people tell me I should devote more time to it.

My last disappointing batch was an imperial brown that i entered in a competition recently. It's very "hot" and I can't finish a whole bottle before gagging so I thought the judges would slam it. It's been sitting in my house for over a year, but I wondered what the judges would think. It ended up in the "very good" range.
 

DD2000GT

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I always felt that way about my beers as well. Then, I switched to all grain and I usually have trouble finding flaws. Most I would pay money for at a store. I pour one for people without telling them it is homebrew and they ask where I bought it.

Point is - I went through over a decade living with ehh beer until I finally improved it enough where I don't think this any more. Keep at it an improving and I'll bet you get there as well.
 
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jkmcd3

jkmcd3

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I always felt that way about my beers as well. Then, I switched to all grain and I usually have trouble finding flaws. Most I would pay money for at a store. I pour one for people without telling them it is homebrew and they ask where I bought it.

Point is - I went through over a decade living with ehh beer until I finally improved it enough where I don't think this any more. Keep at it an improving and I'll bet you get there as well.
That is good to know. I have been thinking of making the switch to all grain. I find it difficult to do so living in and apt. Hopefully sooner than later though.
 

Moose_MI

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Nice to know I’m not the only one. Been brewing 6 years and have only had a couple times where I couldn’t get through a keg and dumped it. At the same time, I cant think of any of my brews that I’ve thought “I could sell this!”

At the same time I’ll also say that I’ve had a LOT ..and I do mean A LOT....of micro brews that I’m surprised are being sold. Sometimes I think the craft beer craze has somehow turned us into a bunch of beer store zombies latching on to anything in a can with a goofy label/name.

I think this sort of gives me peace....I’m just never happy

..well, I’m happy when I empty a keg...it means I get to brew again!!
 

deuce40

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I'm always hard on my brews but I know when I nail one. Its the best feeling in the world, but I can't actually say that it's happened for me that often. I maybe being way to over critical with my brews but that's whats going to make me a better brewer. You need that to continue to advance as a brewer.
 

MaxStout

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I spend some time planning my recipes and how I will execute them. I formulate in my mind what I think it should taste like. Then I have a several weeks, grain-to-glass, to wait. When I drink that first bottle, my only thought is, "does this taste like I expected?" And usually, it's close, but not quite there. Yeah, I'm a little self-critical. But my desire to do better has to be balanced by my enjoyment of what I have sitting in the glass. It's still good beer (most of the time), so I relax and savor it, and share with friends. The hobby wouldn't be fun if I always thought my beer was crappy.
 

small_b_brewing

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I think I can be hard on myself, since I tend to have a specific 'vision' for my beer. Even if the finished beer is without major flaws, if it doesn't match how I've conceived of it, I'm critical.
 

mongoose33

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I don't know if I'm my own worst critic, but I want excellence in my beer and anything short of that is a fail at some level.

I have a friend with a tremendous palate, and from time to time I'll ask him to check my beers for *anything* that is an off flavor or wrong or whatever. We have a deal--he gets free beer from time to time, and he doesn't hold back.

I also believe in the "do they have another?" school of assessing beer, as in almost everyone is complimentary in some way about my beer, but how do I tell if they're just being nice? Answer: they have a second one. And maybe more.
 

wepeeler

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I'm definitely my own worst critic. But that's a good thing. Forever evolving and improving. The worst feedback I get from people is "it's good". I know it's good. But tell me why. Tell me what you'd change. Truth is, most people don't recognize anything other than it's beer. Or that it tastes like some other beer they've tried. Home brewers and brewers alike usually have a much more refined palette, so you can't really take the average Joe's word on what's "good". At least, that's my 2 cents...
 

friarsmith

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I could spout a million clichés like:
*You are what you repeatedly do.
*Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent.
*The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over and expecting different results.

Not saying they apply to you, but it’s a place to start. It might be time to pour a beer, find a pencil and paper, and go back to the drawing board.

Make a list of your last 8-10 beers, and jot down for each 1) Aspects of the recipes that you liked, disliked or were different than you expected from an ingredient standpoint, 2) Process (brew day, fermentation, packaging) successes, near misses, anomalies, and outright failures, and 3) Your honest, overall assessment (be painfully specific) about the finished product. Show this to a few people who have tried your beers over time, especially if they are home brewers. Maybe even post here. You might be surprised at the trends, and you might isolate some over-looked brewing variables (like, say water chem). Brew with others as much as possible.

I’ve been in this same spot a few times in over 20 years of brewing. Yeah, it’s a hobby, but it tends to attract driven and DIY folks like you who aren’t satisfied with “average.” Brew and drink what makes you happy. Focus on a few styles that you really like for the time being, and (with info gathered from above) you’ll undoubtedly be more satisfied with the results.
 

thehaze

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Yes. I tend to be rather harsh with my own beers. Beers that were good for many others, were not god for me, so I always have - in my mind - a lot of room for improvement, which is not a bad thing. Au contraire, I think it personally pushes me to try harder next time.
 

papz

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what is the best way to get some good constructive feedback on your brews?
Join or form a homebrew club.
The club i go to has monthly meetings.
We all bring brews for each other to try and get feedback on.
BJCP contests can help a bit as well but sometimes your beer is affected negatively by the shipping process.

I tend to be most critical of my own brews.
Doing the exact same recipe over and over again will help you in your assessment abilities. So will doing S.M.A.S.H. beers.
 

papz

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I also believe in the "do they have another?" school of assessing beer, as in almost everyone is complimentary in some way about my beer, but how do I tell if they're just being nice? Answer: they have a second one. And maybe more.
That's the real "tell" if they think that it's good.
If they say anything other than "Give me another one" then i know i missed the mark.
 

505-Brewer

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Not sure if this is a topic or not, but do you feel as though you are your own worst critic.

I have been brewing for almost 6 years. I have focused more time and energy towards this hobby over the last 2 years though. And I constantly feel as though my beer is....ehh (for lack of a better word).

Do any of you guys feel the same, and what is the best way to get some good constructive feedback on your brews?

Do you hand them out to anyone who will drink them?
Other beer lovers (who of course will be more honest).

Just curious what y'alls thoughts are of your own brews?
Why do you think they are just ehh? Are there specific technical flaws or is the beer (recipe flaw) just boring to you.

Both can be fixed. Tell us about your system and serving protocols. Maybe folks can help.
There are proven recipes out there but process must be good.

One can make world class beers w extract and a bucket so no reason for ehh beer! Sometines a good beer is ruined by poor bottling conditioning technique.

My beers are very good to excellent. Occasionally the recipe wont hit my target flavor profile but it is not technically flawed.

I like beers that make me think.
All my friends are critical. Always seeking comments and tweaking.
 

mongoose33

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That's the real "tell" if they think that it's good.
If they say anything other than "Give me another one" then i know i missed the mark.
There's one exception for me, and that's if they don't like the style. That's not the beer's fault. For instance, I don't care for Belgians. I can tell you if it's a good one, but I'd never have another. Well, I'd never have one in the first place. :)
 

TechFanMD

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I agree with every post here. A lot of the self critical part seems to be that it isn’t what you expected - but others aren’t coming to it with that expectation.

Imagine creating a cake recipe and when it’s done they end up like brownies. Everyone tells you they’re the best damn brownies they ever had....and you just sit there mad about the cake you were aiming for.

We also ‘know too much.’ We know if the ferm temp went too high or if we splashed a bit going into the keg/bottling bucket. We’re ‘looking’ for the off flavors of things we know happened and may imagine them when they may not even be there.
 

bobeer

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I think you can be your own worst critic, for sure. You know what you were trying to achieve with your beer and you know what's missing. You can tell others what's wrong or missing but unless they really know beer they probably wont know what you're talking about. These days, when I give my beer out, I give as much info as I can and hope they can see what I'm talking about. As I've gotten along in my brewing hobby I have been able to adjust my recipes and process to reflect what I'm going for in a beer but this only came with me being a tough critic on myself and researching it. I think the best way to get honest constructive feed back is to enter bjcp competitions or join a homebrew club. That way you're getting advice from people that just want to help but also know what they're talking about.
 

505-Brewer

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I think you can be your own worst critic, for sure. You know what you were trying to achieve with your beer and you know what's missing. You can tell others what's wrong or missing but unless they really know beer they probably wont know what you're talking about. These days, when I give my beer out, I give as much info as I can and hope they can see what I'm talking about. As I've gotten along in my brewing hobby I have been able to adjust my recipes and process to reflect what I'm going for in a beer but this only came with me being a tough critic on myself and researching it. I think the best way to get honest constructive feed back is to enter bjcp competitions or join a homebrew club. That way you're getting advice from people that just want to help but also know what they're talking about.
You may get critical qualified feedback or you might get rubbish. BJCP does not guarantee it will happen. Seen it all too often.
 
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Home_alone1

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Yes I am , I’ve made exactly 3 batches I thought we’re up to par , everything else has been meh to me . I like to tear my own beers apart because I know I can do better . I still serve them to guests and always get good feed back, I look at it like this . If they drink one and done it’s not any good , if they go for seconds I’ve done ok , if they need to call for a ride home I’ve hit the jack pot .
 

kingmatt

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I am usually happy with my beers these days but I can almost always pick out some flaws or areas I could improve.

I have a few recipes now that I have brewed and tweaked enough over the years that are just about perfect for my palate..that is the true joy of homebrewing for me.
 
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I'm fairly a harsh judge of my work, though I usually can tell when I have a winner on my hands, or when I it has noticeable flaws. On most occasions other people's opinions are far more positive than my own. However, if I ever brew something that I'm just flat-out unhappy with, it typically never finds its way to someone else's glass for opinion.

Recently, something happened that has never happened before. I brewed a very odd beer for a friend. He is from India and he married a woman from Argentina. They recently had their first child, a son. He asked me to brew a beer in honor of that special occasion-- something that would be a "blend of flavors from their two cultures." After some thought I settled on a Chai & Dulce de Leche Milk Stout. I figured since dulce de leche is derived from the caramelization of milk sugars I could make some of my own using lactose, make a chai tincture with spices and alcohol, and then mix it in secondary until I get the right balance of flavors.

Once it finished carbing in the bottles I cracked one open to try it. I was NOT happy. It wasn't horrible, but it really wasn't great and didn't taste like what I envisioned. I definitely did not want to distribute this publicly, but I was on the hook for it. So I gave it to him anyway, explaining I really wasn't happy with it, and I would try to re-do something later for him. To my surprise he loved it. And he wasn't just being nice-- he drank a bottle every night thereafter and said he was having a hard time saving any. He gave one to a neighbor who raved about it. I thought they HAD to be just trying to save my feelings, so I gave a bottle to a guy at work who brews and is always ready to point out flaws in stuff I give him. He raved about it. So I tried another bottle myself to see if maybe I just had a bad one or something... nope! I hated it still. Since then I have given it all away to co-workers and friends and they are all asking me to make another batch. I simply don't get it.
 

papz

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Tatses are subjective.
It may not be the beer that you wanted it to be or one that you like, but if others 'ask for more' then you did something right.
 
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