Taste difference: home brew vs commercial

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Lando

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While drinking a few brews my wife made the observation that she can tell the difference between store bought beers and my home brew.
I have thought this for a while and can't put my finger on it. Is it the yeast that is filtered out of commercial brew, pasturization?
What could be the difference in the flavor profile assuming the home brew is properly made to style?
 

Suthrncomfrt1884

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By allowing the yeast to stay in our beers, it adds a little more flavor to the beer, depending on the yeast of course. Filtering it is not pasturization. It's just a means for people to be able to drink straight from the bottle. Plus...most people uneducated about beer are pretty disgusted by yeast in the bottle..
 

Bullshivit-brew

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The big difference may just be that your home brew HAS a flavor profile unlike many commercial brews ;)
 
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Lando

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The big difference may just be that your home brew HAS a flavor profile unlike many commercial brews ;)
Maybe so. I was drinking a Railbender Scottish ale and an Old Dominion English Ale. Not bad beers, but both seemed to be on the absolute bottom edge of the style regarding flavor (if that makes sense) Maybe it's just me. I have thought that about several of the Old Dominion brews, but their Baltic Porter is the bomb diggity. Lots o flavor in that one.
Several of the Sam Adams beers came across like this too. Winter Lager, Boston Lager to name a few. And a lot of other craft brew seems to land in the "where the hell is the flavor category" IMHO while having nothing noticably wrong with the beer. I just figured it was something in the process that strips the flavor, assuming it was there to begin with.
 

z987k

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are you an extract brewer?
how long between brewday and drinking?
 

jaynik

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Did she mean commercial is better or homebrew?

I can notice more of the yeast flavor in my brews, but I think they taste good.
 

slouch

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By allowing the yeast to stay in our beers, it adds a little more flavor to the beer, depending on the yeast of course. Filtering it is not pasturization. It's just a means for people to be able to drink straight from the bottle. Plus...most people uneducated about beer are pretty disgusted by yeast in the bottle..
I drink HB straight from the bottle. When I get to the bottom, I swirl the yeast and take it as my vitamin boost.
 

Suthrncomfrt1884

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I drink HB straight from the bottle. When I get to the bottom, I swirl the yeast and take it as my vitamin boost.
Even drinking it out of the bottle, you're getting a little more yeast with every swallow than I would in a glass. You may not mind, but some beers are just not meant to be drank with the yeast. As for the vitamin boost....yes, it's nice to avoid the hangover the next morning, but I'm not a fan of the trips to the bathroom.
 
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Lando

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are you an extract brewer?
how long between brewday and drinking?

Drinking for years. Brewing AG for one.
She likes the home brew much better than store bought... which is fine with me :)
 

Revvy

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Drinking for years. Brewing AG for one.
She likes the home brew much better than store bought... which is fine with me :)
I've done blind taste testing of a couple of my clones against the original, and usually my version prevails. The biggest one was yooper's dead guy clone against the original. It would win hands down, while my bell's amber clone would do about 50-50.

I think in a well made homebrew (either Extract OR Ag, btw, both clones were extract w/grains,) FRESHNESS is the issue that wins out. Homebrew just has a fresher taste than something that's travelled.

It may not ACTUALLY be better, but to the taster it is perceived as such. In fact one person said that my DG Clone tasted like they thought Dead Guy SHOULD taste like. Which I think was that it just was fresher and less travelled than the store bought version

That might be why, living in Michigan and pretty close to bell's, why going against a bell's product I only win half the time, Bell's doesn't travel far and has a higher turnover in metro detroit then Rogue does.

I've noticed the same thing in regional wines versus wines that travel a distance to get to us. Wines from local wineries just have a brightness, and freshness, that is missing with wines that may be made for transport.
 

Denny

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Most craft beers, at least around here, aren't filtered, so I don't know if that plays into it. I'd have to say that as much as I like my beers, it would be a conceit to say that mine are consistently better than commercial beers. Of course, it depends on what commercial beers you're talking about, but here in Beervana it's not hard to find commercial beers that will blow mine away.
 

carnevoodoo

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I'm siding with Denny on this one. I might be in baby beervana down here in SD< but the commercial breweries are putting out amazing beer. If I compare my homebrewed beer to an average commercial beer, sure it'll stand up, but I think that there are a lot of breweries who are just better at it than any of us ever could be at home.
 

d510addict

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Denny I envy you.........6 months since I graduated and move back to portland from the euge and I miss it sooooo much. Also while I've never had home brew beer I too would find it hard to believe that a homebrew could be better than a fresh pint of tracktown honey orange wheat.
 

weirdboy

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Also while I've never had home brew beer
Well, you need to fix that.



I don't think there's really any way to do a fair comparison. I have had some excellent homebrews that stand up against any commercial craft beer. Of course, I've also had plenty of homebrews that taste like pennies, or have an infection, or fermented too high, etc. and those just don't compare favorably when I have Pliny on tap at any of the local bars I go to. But then again I have had some pretty unspectacular commercial craft beers, and in some cases I have had commercial craft beers that made me angry they were so poorly made. I mean, beers so bad that as a homebrewer I wouldn't purposely offer beer that bad to someone, let alone ask them to pay for it.

So overall I just don't think you can draw a line in the sand and say, homebrew is better, or commercial beer is better. As with most things, it's context dependent.
 
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Lando

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Well, you need to fix that.
So overall I just don't think you can draw a line in the sand and say, homebrew is better, or commercial beer is better. As with most things, it's context dependent.
Agreed. But if my IPA beats Stone, Bells and Pliny I am declaring home brew superior :mug:

Also, just cracked open a few of those same beers today and they seem to taste a little better... not my favorite for the style, but I sure as hell wouldn't turn one down. Not sure why they seem better. Maybe my taste buds were jacked up last night.
Oh well...
cheers
 

carnevoodoo

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Agreed. But if my IPA beats Stone, Bells and Pliny I am declaring home brew superior :mug:

Also, just cracked open a few of those same beers today and they seem to taste a little better... not my favorite for the style, but I sure as hell wouldn't turn one down. Not sure why they seem better. Maybe my taste buds were jacked up last night.
Oh well...
cheers
I highly doubt your beer beats those. I mean I'm glad you think so, but those beers are all top notch. I don't mean to sound like a dick, but perception alongside pride and bias are really not fair. And your friends will look at it the same way. I just don't think you could beat any of those beers without being a professional.

That said, you have to take freshness into account, too. Old Pliny sucks. Any of those beers need to be drank young.
 

Bullshivit-brew

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I highly doubt your beer beats those. I mean I'm glad you think so, but those beers are all top notch. I don't mean to sound like a dick, but perception alongside pride and bias are really not fair. And your friends will look at it the same way. I just don't think you could beat any of those beers without being a professional.

Why would you have to be a Pro to beat them? Just because you don't do it for a living dose not mean you can't make kick a$$ beer!
 

IceFisherChris

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The porter I just made tastes better than a couple of the commercial brews I have tried. The other lighter flavored ones don't. I think it comes down to subtle off flavors. My friend and I have both brewed pale and india pale ales. It seems harder to get those to taste perfect.
 

jjones17

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I highly doubt your beer beats those. I mean I'm glad you think so, but those beers are all top notch. I don't mean to sound like a dick, but perception alongside pride and bias are really not fair. And your friends will look at it the same way. I just don't think you could beat any of those beers without being a professional.

That said, you have to take freshness into account, too. Old Pliny sucks. Any of those beers need to be drank young.
Bwaaaaa hwaaaa hwaaaa! A 'professional' just means you get paid to do what you are doing. It does not make one special, nor great. I know a few 'professionals' who are completely incompetent (yes, that bad), and many more who just are not that great at what they do. Sure, some are definately worthy of the title, but the title does not make one great.

This is the most hilarious post I have seen in a while. Professional... puuuleeease.

It is apparent the key difference from an experienced home brewer, and a 'professional' brewer is the level of CONSISTENCY that can be achieved through highly accurate equipment. All of that, though, bearing in mind "experienced" meaning one really knows what they are doing.

Not meaning to 'sound like a dick'. :D
 

jkarp

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And even CONSISTENCY is a stretch. I LOVE me some Pliny. Without a doubt my favorite beer this side of the Atlantic. That said, I've never had two bottles the same. Sometimes it's hoppier, sometimes there's sediment in the bottle. The current batch of bottles I'm drinking has massive chill haze. Don't care. It's all awesome and my Pliny clone only came close.
 

IceFisherChris

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Taste is always based on opinions. We did a blind taste test of my porter. My friend and I thought it was better than a Central water's beer. My other friend thought CW's was better.

It's true that many beers are consistently rated better than others, but home brews are NOT rated in mass quantity. It might be one or two guys drinking 30 bottles of the same home brew... Not 40 different guys drinking a bottle of your home brew. It's nice to think that the beer I brewed is better than a commercial offering. In many cases is it, especially to me. But we will never know the outcome unless we let 200 other people try it.

I wholeheartedly believe that home brewed beers can be better than commercial offerings. However, they have invested many many hours formulating their recipes and tweaking the process to get it perfect. Pretty hard to do on our own... but once someone has the exact process perfected, then yes they can make perfect beer.
 

remilard

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Why would you have to be a Pro to beat them? Just because you don't do it for a living dose not mean you can't make kick a$$ beer!
Thinking your own beer is great is like not minding the smell of your own farts. Getting other people to purchase your beer is like having the general public not mind the smell of your farts.

I would contend that it is fairly challenging to get others to enjoy your farts.

Everyone on the internet benches 300, makes better beer than any commercial brewery, has well behaved children, etc. Making a salable product is a whole different ball game than convincing yourself that you make a product that would be salable.
 

slouch

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Making a salable product is a whole different ball game than convincing yourself that you make a product that would be salable.
How true.

It is relatively easy to get a beer that is high quality. Perhaps even higher quality than a corresponding commercial brew.

It is more difficult to get the consistency down from batch to batch (or consistent inconsistency if that is the style i.e. some long aging Belgiums)

Even more difficult is adding likability. Not every beer that is good and consistent is liked by enough to profit off of it.

Then you still have to add marketability.

Financing.

Get a distributor or start a Brew-Pub.

Find customers.

Get them to drink it.

Get them to drink it.

Get them to drink it. (keep repeating.)

Successful commercial beers have a lot more behind them then just a good brewmaster with a good recipe.

But at the end of the day the big fundamental difference is that commercial breweries get paid to have all of the above ingredients. Homebrewers on the the other had have to pay out of pocket for them.
 

Picobrew

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Bwaaaaa hwaaaa hwaaaa! A 'professional' just means you get paid to do what you are doing. It does not make one special, nor great. I know a few 'professionals' who are completely incompetent (yes, that bad), and many more who just are not that great at what they do. Sure, some are definately worthy of the title, but the title does not make one great.

This is the most hilarious post I have seen in a while. Professional... puuuleeease.

It is apparent the key difference from an experienced home brewer, and a 'professional' brewer is the level of CONSISTENCY that can be achieved through highly accurate equipment. All of that, though, bearing in mind "experienced" meaning one really knows what they are doing.

Not meaning to 'sound like a dick'. :D
Cheers! Somebody get this guy a Nanaimo Bar and a properly fermented homebrew.
 

d510addict

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Damn one of you portlanders are going to have to hook me up. I wanna try homebrew sooo bad but with limited supplies and all I wont be able to brew my own till January while I wait for my Apfelwein to finish.
 

GroosBrewz

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This is a great discussion.. Many opposing viewpoints.. I am of the school of thought that you can absolutely make a homebrewed beer that is just as good, or better, than a commercial example of the same style. And while it's true that consistency is probably the number one factor that separates the amateur from the "professional", there is no reason why GOOD homebrewers cant churn out a repeatable and fantastic homebrewed beer by using fresh ingredients and really dialing in the process.. Anyone that says a homebrewer cant make a beer as good as a commercial beer has never tasted a "good" homebrew in my opinion.. I think Revvy is on to something with the "freshness" and "brightness" of a homebrewed beer.. I am 100% convinced that this is the key factor that can boost a homebrewed beer over a commercial example that may have traveled a bit..

Now, that being said, and not to toot my own horn (beep beep) but at a friends Christmas party last night we did a blind beer tasting of 12 commercial styles of craft brews.. I slipped my homebrewed version of a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone in there (Bottled from the keg with BMBF).. We used BJCP certified scorecards and at the end of the evening, my beer came in first place by a huge margin.. I was stoked!! It's one thing to give your friends your beer and they will always tell you it's good 'cause they don't want to hurt your feelings.. But to win in a blind taste test was a good feeling.. And I firmly believe it was the fresh taste and assertive aroma that put my beer over the top.
 

Zero

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I've done blind taste testing of a couple of my clones against the original, and usually my version prevails. The biggest one was yooper's dead guy clone against the original. It would win hands down, while my bell's amber clone would do about 50-50.
Care to share that recipe? :mug:
 

Denny

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Just so I can be clear, I didn't mean to say that homebrew is necessarily not as good as commercial or vice versa. It's not a given either way. For instance, many people thought that my version of Rye IPA was better than the one Rogue made. OTOH, there are other Rogue beers that are far better than what I make.
 

EoinMag

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Hmm why is it not possible that a fanatical hobbiest can produce a much better babied beer than some "couldn't give a crap" commercial brewer who brews to put bread on the table?

Not at all surprising.

I personally find that homebrew, even kits, are beating commercial beers (for me personally) purely because I am losing the taste for filtered beer, it's nowhere near as good once you remove the yeasty goodness in my opinion.
 

FireBrewer

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I've had quite a few great homebrews (not necessarily my own; I maintain that you can't completely and objectively judge your own beer) and some bad ones. Likewise I've had some great commercial brews and some not-so-great ones.

Something that commonly goes unnoticed is the fact that not all commercial beer is "perfect". There seems to be some unstated impression that if something's commercially produced, it's a 50 point beer, period. So many times that's not the case. I don't care if Stone, Russian River, Victory, or Boston Beer makes it.

I could tell you about a porter that I had at an Oktoberfest that had so much diacetyl I was thinking about pouring it on popcorn. When I asked the brewer about it, he said "some people like that flavor". :confused: And to further the point, as a homebrewer you could dump a batch if there was a flaw that didn't render the beer undrinkable; it's up to you. As a professional brewer, you may have to just acknowledge that it's not the best and hope that it still sells. Brewing a few hundred gallons costs a lot more than a $30 5-gallon batch.

Or, I could tell you about the few beers we had in BJCP class that, while they were commercial examples of their styles were still flawed: Saison Dupont was skunked, Negra Modelo was oxidized, etc. Was a good way to learn about flaws though. ;)

A few months ago I bought a Köstritzer Schwarzbier (BJCP commercial example). Oxidized. A few years ago I bought a 6er of Lancaster Hop Hog. Infected!!! (to that end, my wife told me that BJCP class has ruined my taste for beer! :D)

We all know there's many variables to brewing and professional brewers generally have more control over those variables brought about by equipment, time, etc. But that doesn't mean they produce flawless beer. Likewise, despite homebrewing being an "amateur" designation, many craft brewers had their start as homebrewers and haven't necessarily attended professional brewing school.

But to say a homebrewed beer can't stand up to a commercial beer is foolish and ignorant. Either you've just never tasted a homebrew that good, or you don't really know as much as you think you do.
 

Revvy

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Something that commonly goes unnoticed is the fact that not all commercial beer is "perfect". There seems to be some unstated impression that if something's commercially produced, it's a 50 point beer, period. So many times that's not the case. I don't care if Stone, Russian River, Victory, or Boston Beer makes it.

But to say a homebrewed beer can't stand up to a commercial beer is foolish and ignorant. Either you've just never had a homebrew that good, or you don't really know as much as you think you do.


I love you man!!!! (No homo);)
 

ToddO

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I think ultimately it's totally subjective. Seriously - enough of the "my beer was blind taste tested against "xyz" and it was deemed "better". Good beer is good beer. Homebrew beer can be great, micro beer can be great. Even mass produced beer can be great. None are really better than the other. We are all using the same ingredients and to a certain extent the same process. ALL Beer can only reach a certain level of being great and we ALL can reach it - whether we are brewing 5 gallons in our closet or doing the nano, micro, etc. level..
 

remilard

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Something that commonly goes unnoticed is the fact that not all commercial beer is "perfect". There seems to be some unstated impression that if something's commercially produced, it's a 50 point beer, period. So many times that's not the case. I don't care if Stone, Russian River, Victory, or Boston Beer makes it.
A lot of commercial beers are 40 point beers, the vast majority of home brew is not.



But to say a homebrewed beer can't stand up to a commercial beer is foolish and ignorant. Either you've just never tasted a homebrew that good, or you don't really know as much as you think you do.
Does your straw man have a name?

Nobody is saying that a home brewed can't be better than a commercial beer. What people are saying is that:

1. In general, commercial beer is better than home brewed beer and
2. Anybody who claims that their home brewed beer is better than any commercial beer is probably not evaluating their own beer the same way a neutral third party would.

There is a lot of bad home brewed beers that are bad coming straight out of the home brewery (not 3 years and 5000 miles later in the back of some liquor store). Not a lot of commercial beers are as bad as bad home brew.
 

FireBrewer

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A lot of commercial beers are 40 point beers, the vast majority of home brew is not.
And you have the data to back that statement up?

1. In general, commercial beer is better than home brewed beer and
I'd say more consistent, nothing more.

2. Anybody who claims that their home brewed beer is better than any commercial beer is probably not evaluating their own beer the same way a neutral third party would.
That I completely agree with. IMHO, you can't 100% objectively judge your own beer. Variances in palette sensitivities, sensory education, etc. all play a part.

There is a lot of bad home brewed beers that are bad coming straight out of the home brewery (not 3 years and 5000 miles later in the back of some liquor store). Not a lot of commercial beers are as bad as bad home brew.
Again, as a vast generalization that statement only holds so much water and there are enough exceptions to that rule to make it anecdotal. "A lot" is hardly a precise number. Sure, oxidation accounts for distance and time but how do you account for infection, diacetyl, acetaldehyde, ethyl acetate at the commercial level? There's a lot of bad commercially brewed beers that are bad coming straight out of the commercial brewery too. Maybe you just haven't had 'em or haven't had the sensory education to be able to detect it.

I think you need to re-read my statement to understand what I'm trying to convey, remilard.
 

jdc2

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1. In general, commercial beer is better than home brewed beer and
2. Anybody who claims that their home brewed beer is better than any commercial beer is probably not evaluating their own beer the same way a neutral third party would.

There is a lot of bad home brewed beers that are bad coming straight out of the home brewery (not 3 years and 5000 miles later in the back of some liquor store). Not a lot of commercial beers are as bad as bad home brew.
Commercial beer is "better" only in that it is of consistent quality. Homebrews
are more variable even with the same recipe because not all aspects of the
process can be controlled precisely. That said, no commercial brewer can
brew beer as good as my favorite recipe because as far as I know, no
commercial brewer makes it. On top of that, my homebrew is absolutely
fresh. It also deteriorates in the bottle faster than commercial brew.

On the other hand, I don't see how any "clone" of a good commercial
beer like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale could be as "good" as the authentic,
because while it may be a great beer in its own right, unless you have
duplicated *exactly* the ingredients AND the process, it's a different
beer. It's like saying you've cloned Coca-Cola exactly. But I've never
seen the point of clone brewing anyway.
Jim:mug:
 

jdc2

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What could be the difference in the flavor profile assuming the home brew is properly made to style?
1. The level of carbonation in your beer is probably less. Good
taste experiment: Take a can or bottle of Guiness with the nitrogen
widget, and a bottle of the old style Guiness. Taste a little of
the widget beer, then taste the carbonated version. The carbonated
version tastes like the widget version with soda water added.
2. Yeast in the homebrew.

I never understood this "properly made to style" bit. Suppose
you want to make a Sam Smith brown ale. Do you have the
top-cropping fermentation vessels they have? Do you have
exactly the malt and roasted malt they have? Identical strain
of hops? Can you carbonate exactly to the level they do in
their bottled version? I think you can get in the ballpark, but
the home version will inevitably be different.
Jim:mug:
 
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