Taste difference: home brew vs commercial

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StunnedMonkey

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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.
Well, "better" is completely subjective, at least so far as any individual consumer is concerned. Is the brew you get from your personal recipe "better" than most commercial examples of whatever style it is? I dunno. I'm sure you think so. And that's all that matters. This dork-waving "my homebrew is better than commecial brew" is stupid. Of course everyone thinks their own homebrew is absolutely the most awesomest stuff ever freaking created. And their kids are all the smartest and most talented as well.

Except me. My kids are obnoxious and my beer tastes like ass most of the time. I guess I'm in the minority here.
 

remilard

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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've never tasted acetaldehyde in a commercial beer other than Budweiser, where it is intentional. Diacetyl is intentional in a number of beers and gets worse/raunchy over time, these should be drunk fresh. No beer is microbiologically stable unless it has bee pasteurized or stable filtered, try treating your beer like commercial beer is treated and then forget about it for a year and see what it tastes like.

Ethyl acetate? Certainly not common in commercial beer, not nearly as common as home brewed beer.

I never said there were no bad commercial beers, but flaws in fresh examples are the exception. A home brewed beer free of process flaws is the exception in the home brew world. Huge difference in quality, on balance.
 

Picobrew

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Here is my opinion.

Things that generally benefit commercial beer:

-Very consistent and predictable efficiency on mashing
-Mash tuns and fermenters that are sized with width/height/pressure ratios that are theoretically best for the job at hand
-Much more accurate temperature control
-Better oxygenation/aeration techniques
-Filtering. I know that a lot of the commercial breweries know exactly the ppm of yeast they leave in the bottle.
-Yeast lab and all the benefits that come with that: accurate viability and pitching rates, generational management, mutation management
-Always all grain, never extract


This that generally benefit homebrew:
-Freshness
-Flexibility, freedom, 'accidents'
-Unconstrained by commercial demands, pricing
-the LACK of consistency
-More product experimentation (We can use lots of different malts and weird adjuncts - commercial breweries don't/can't do this as much)
-Freedom to use many more yeasts from around the world. Most commercial breweries use 1-3
-Artisan care and monitoring. Quite different than lab and device monitoring, homebrewers watch their beer very closely and carefully at each step. A team doesn't do it, one person does.

There are definitely benefits to both styles - but a very resourceful and thorough homebrewer can take the good elements from commercial brewing and leave the impractical ones behind.

We get hung up a lot on consistency - but I don't think consistency is as important as others do. It is VERY important for selling a mass market product, but isn't a marker of 'quality'. Think about McDonald's vs. your favorite family-owned restaurant. McDonald's is probably much more consistent, but the chef at your favorite restaurant can use more seasonal ingredients, can better adjust for moment, kitchen conditions, the palate of the diner in question.

In brewing, we talk about consistency a lot because we want to 'hit our numbers' and a lot of us think about going pro some day, but it isn't something that bogs me down. Sometimes missing my numbers gives me a delicious beer. Is it better or worse than what I set out to do? Who knows. I certainly never worry about consistency when cooking, I don't even use recipes or measuring cups. Brewing might be a bit closer to baking in that regard, but I still think the lack of consistency and the accidental homeruns are exciting, not a bad thing.
 

IceFisherChris

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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.
I can't agree with #1, but I can't also disagree. I agree that a lot of home brewers out there are making sub-par beers. Off flavors and all of that junk happen a lot when it comes to homebrewing. Just because HBT talk has a ton of successful brewers doesn't mean that everyone is.
I don't take remilard's comment to mean "it's usually not possible to homebrew as well as a commercial brewery." IF every homebrewer had perfect equipment and perfect techniques, then a good recipe will create award winning beer. But for every good BREWER, there are probably at least twice as many "not very good" brewers.

If you picked 100 random people to build you a table, do you really think they would do better than 100 people who are woodworkers for a living?

Comment #2 is partially right in my eyes. There is always some bias with home brew. If you always say your home brew is better, the you probably mean you feel more pride drinking home brew than commercial beer. I admit that drinking my own beer feels better than buying beer. I'm sad to also admit that I would rather be able to create a homebrew exactly like Bell's Two hearted ale.

The real way of thinking is... "If my homebrew was actually made by Company X, would I choose it instead of a brew by Company Y?"
 

remilard

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Think about McDonald's vs. your favorite family-owned restaurant. McDonald's is probably much more consistent, but the chef at your favorite restaurant can use more seasonal ingredients, can better adjust for moment, kitchen conditions, the palate of the diner in question.
Good analogy, wrong application.

McDonalds = Anheuser Busch
My favorite restaurant = Russian River, Rogue, Free State, New Glarus etc
Guy on the internet saying his ******* (anything from tater tot casserole to very good home made food) is better than anything I can buy at a restaurant = home brewer
 

d510addict

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I can make better cheesecake than safeway.................there I said it. Following this line a homebrewer can make better beer than a prof brewer. IT JUST TAKES PRACTICE AND SPECIALIZATION.
 

Picobrew

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Good analogy, wrong application.

McDonalds = Anheuser Busch
My favorite restaurant = Russian River, Rogue, Free State, New Glarus etc
Guy on the internet saying his ******* (anything from tater tot casserole to very good home made food) is better than anything I can buy at a restaurant = home brewer
The tiers of the analogy may be off but the point still stands. As a home cook I can make food that rivals my favorite restaurant, as can many people.

I have heard plenty of non-brewers say they prefer homebrew over commercial beer, and plenty prefer commercial. I just don't think there is some magical dividing line between homebrewers and "the best beer".
 

IceFisherChris

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Good analogy, wrong application.

McDonalds = Anheuser Busch
My favorite restaurant = Russian River, Rogue, Free State, New Glarus etc
Guy on the internet saying his ******* (anything from tater tot casserole to very good home made food) is better than anything I can buy at a restaurant = home brewer
The application is about being consistent with the recipe. McDonald's is strict. If you order a cheeseburger in 1999 and one in 2009, they should be almost exactly alike. If they aren't then it's an employee not caring (external variable that should be irrelevant here.)

Now order a cheeseburger from Dad. It probably won't be the same as it was 10 years ago. But it probably tastes better to you.

The whole point of the argument was to say that consistency is not equal to quality. McDonalds can make the exact same cheeseburger for 10 years, but that doesn't mean it tastes better than a cheeseburger made from Dad. Sometimes it might, but it doesn't automatically mean "always."
 

carnevoodoo

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I can make better cheesecake than safeway.................there I said it. Following this line a homebrewer can make better beer than a prof brewer. IT JUST TAKES PRACTICE AND SPECIALIZATION.
But that's really a silly and specific argument. Can you make cheesecake better than the finer pastry chefs and bakers in the country? I would venture to say not.

At the same time, is there a lot of middling, boring beer being produced by the Safeways of the industry? Sure. Is there more bad homebrew than good? Yup. Can the lines be blurred? Of course. However, the best of the best commercial breweries still have advantages and will still produce better beer. And while I've had some phenomenal homebrewed beer, I still end up at the bar, and in bottle shops. I'm willing to give Vinnie at Russian River my 22 dollars for every bottle of Consecration I drink. I'm really happy I can buy Speedway Stout. These beers are better than any homebrewed beer I've ever tasted, hands down. And while I've had plenty of homebrewed beer that rivals anything of its style, there are just some other things that just can't be touched.

Of course it is all opinion, and I would rather drink most homebrewed beer before I drank anything from a brewery like Rogue. That's all where it comes down to preference.
 

carnevoodoo

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Just because HBT talk has a ton of successful brewers doesn't mean that everyone is.
I just wanted to pull this part out really quick because it nails a point right on. This board, as active as it is, is still a minority of brewers. There's a LOT of really bad homebrewed beer in the world. We're all just that much more obsessive.
 

carnevoodoo

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I've never tasted acetaldehyde in a commercial beer other than Budweiser, where it is intentional.
Let's go to the Blind Lady here in San Diego tomorrow. There's a keg of World Wide Stout there that's an acetalaldehyde bomb. Yuuuum.
 

-TH-

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Everyone on the internet benches 300, makes better beer than any commercial brewery, has well behaved children, etc.
My children are not well behaved. But they are cuter than anyone elses :D.

But back on subject,
Q#1: Is homebrew better than commercial beer? It certainly can be.
Q#2: Is commercial beer better than homebrew? It certainly can be.

I love the use of analogies so I'll use one of my own:

If someone asked me the question, is homebrewed coffee better than Starbucks? One way I could answer would be to say that I can certainly make it to my liking better. Even though I don’t even have as expensive of equipment, I can buy the same ingredients (starbucks coffee beans), I can control the grind, how much to use, and I can drink it right after brewing. Do others like it better? I don’t know, maybe not. Another way I could answer the first question however would be to simply say: no, in general Starbucks brews better coffee than most homebrewed (when you include my in-laws' Maxwell House brew and the like).

So in my opinion, we cannot answer the question of which is better, homebrew or commercial, without getting VERY specific in the way we ask the question. And I think if we did that, most of us here would be in agreement.
 

jdc2

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Well, "better" is completely subjective, at least so far as any individual consumer is concerned. Is the brew you get from your personal recipe "better" than most commercial examples of whatever style it is? I dunno. I'm sure you think so. And that's all that matters. This dork-waving "my homebrew is better than commecial brew" is stupid. Of course everyone thinks their own homebrew is absolutely the most awesomest stuff ever freaking created. And their kids are all the smartest and most talented as well.

Except me. My kids are obnoxious and my beer tastes like ass most of the time. I guess I'm in the minority here.
I can't agree with that. Two of the best beers I've ever had were brewed
by a homebrewer who ran a homebrew shop and by a brewpub which brewed
a special (and high priced) batch. Big breweries make a beer that "stands out"
and is recognizable, like Guiness or Sierra Nevada, but they don't in general produce something subtle and well-balanced. And I don't think I like my beer
because it's mine, I like it because it's good and because it's unique (about
halfway between a red ale and a brown ale, and hopped uniquely) and I've
never tasted it anywhere else. And a very large amount of bottled microbrew
is mediocre.
Jim:mug:
 

StunnedMonkey

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Seems to me that there are two different arguments being carried out that aren't really exclusive of each other. One is the argument that any one batch of homebrew may be superior to 99% of what you could buy off the shelf. I'll buy that. The second is that most of the homebrew being brewed today is probably not up to par with most of the beer being produced by the better craft breweries. Also true.

We can always compare the very best of what we produce (be it beer or cheesecake or hamburgers) against the worst commercial examples and come out on top. But I'll be the first to tell you that the best beers I've made still wouldn't rival the best commercial examples of the style...if judged by anyone besides me and my mother that is.
 

jdc2

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Seems to me that there are two different arguments being carried out that aren't really exclusive of each other. One is the argument that any one batch of homebrew may be superior to 99% of what you could buy off the shelf. I'll buy that. The second is that most of the homebrew being brewed today is probably not up to par with most of the beer being produced by the better craft breweries. Also true.

We can always compare the very best of what we produce (be it beer or cheesecake or hamburgers) against the worst commercial examples and come out on top. But I'll be the first to tell you that the best beers I've made still wouldn't rival the best commercial examples of the style...if judged by anyone besides me and my mother that is.

That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying the best of my homebrew is as
good as the best commercial beer, and on top of that is not even
available commercially. Take one of the "best commercial examples
of a style",Guiness. I'm sure that I can't make a clone as good as
the original, not because homebrewing techniques prevent me, but
because I don't know *exactly* what the ingredients AND the process for
making it are.

How could any beer, commercial or not, be "the best example of the style"?
Within any style there are an infinite variety of examples not identical
to each other. You end up comparing apples with oranges, even if
both could be classified in a general way as a "brown ale" or whatever.
Jim:mug:
 

Denny

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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?
It depends on the homebrewer and the commercial brewer. I'd hardly say people like John Maier and Greg Koch (to name only 2) don't give a crap.
 

StunnedMonkey

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That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying the best of my homebrew is as good as the best commercial beer, and on top of that is not even available commercially.
Well, I've never tasted your homebrew so I can't say whether I'd agree with you or not. Perhaps you're an uncommonly gifted brewer and I'd think that your stuff is the best I've ever had, commercial or otherwise. I'm in no position to argue the point.

I will say that I may prefer to drink my own 90% of the time, but I'd never contend that it's objectively superior to the best that quality craft brewers produce. Perhaps I'm in the minority though.
 

ChickenSoop

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I have only been homebrewing for a year, and my home brew is better than standard commercial beers. It's like eating a fresh hot homemade loaf of bread out of your oven vs eating a dried out loaf of commercial bread that was sitting on the shelf for 3 days.

If you are making good beer, you will know it. If you are questioning your beer quality, you are doing something wrong.
 

StunnedMonkey

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I have only been homebrewing for a year, and my home brew is better than standard commercial beers. It's like eating a fresh hot homemade loaf of bread out of your oven vs eating a dried out loaf of commercial bread that was sitting on the shelf for 3 days.
I dunno. I've bellied up to the bar at quite a few fine brewpubs and ordered any number of fantastic brews. I can't recall many that put me in the mind of a "dried out loaf of commercial bread that was sitting on the shelf for 3 days." Sure my homebrew might beat such a beer. But that's not really comparing it to the best commercial examples, now is it? I mean, can I make a beer that might be better than the bland factory-type stuff at Granite City? Yeah, probably. Can I routinely put out better beer than the stuff on tap at a place like Russian River? I really don't think so.

If you are making good beer, you will know it. If you are questioning your beer quality, you are doing something wrong.
Now that's an understatement. :p
 

Denny

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I have only been homebrewing for a year, and my home brew is better than standard commercial beers. It's like eating a fresh hot homemade loaf of bread out of your oven vs eating a dried out loaf of commercial bread that was sitting on the shelf for 3 days.

If you are making good beer, you will know it. If you are questioning your beer quality, you are doing something wrong.
Define "standard commercial beers" and what makes them that, please.
 

-TH-

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[My, Every, Some, All] homebrew [is always, can be, is never] better than commercial [macro, craft] beer according to [my, my friend's, a blind panel's, a BJCP judge's] opinion.

There's a true statement in there somewhere.
 

tomwirsing

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3 Points:
1. What do these commercial guys do to make a beer we can't equal or best? There's only so much that goes into a brew. They're not sprinkiling pixie dust in there as a secret ingredient. Malt, hops, yeast, and water. That's what they use and that's what we use. Mill, mash, sparge, boil, add hops, cool, add yeast, ferment, carbonate. That's what they do and that's what we do.
2. On definition of quality is consistency. In a production environment repeatability and consistency are measured and recorded. A Quality Control department would count receiving the right target numbers and then just assume that if these target numbers are hit, good product will result. How product "goodness" is defined is quite different.
3. 90% of this thread (including the earlier portions of this post) has been off topic. The OP wanted to know why his homebrew seems to consistently have a flavor distinguishable form commercial. He did not say which, if either, he preferred. He did not express interest in comparisons of top homebrew versus commercial or the relative goodness of homebrew. The is a certain taste he consistently recognizes in his brews that distinguishes it from commercial. What is it?
 

NCBeernut

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I have only been homebrewing for a year, and my home brew is better than standard commercial beers.
What is a "standard commercial beer"? Sure I could give you a 100 beers that lack the quality of my homebrew, but I could also give you 100 beers that are just as good or better...and I consider my homebrew to be damn good, as does everybody else who has tried it.
 

wrestler63

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My Amarillo IPA is better than a Summit IPA or Centenial IPA..Tasted by others.....That being said, I can't seem to make a beer that compares to Stones Riunation IPA.
Cheers:mug:
 

kaiser423

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3 Points:
3. 90% of this thread (including the earlier portions of this post) has been off topic. The OP wanted to know why his homebrew seems to consistently have a flavor distinguishable form commercial. He did not say which, if either, he preferred. He did not express interest in comparisons of top homebrew versus commercial or the relative goodness of homebrew. The is a certain taste he consistently recognizes in his brews that distinguishes it from commercial. What is it?
Let's get back to this. I would imagine it's either bias on his wife's part, of some small part of his process is imparting a bit of flavor; whether his water profile leads to a certain flavor, or a small infection, or he's using extract, or something similar. He could potentially be not rinsing enough of his sanitizer out, etc.

Before I went to filtered water, my water profile definitely left a "sameness" taste in some of my beers.

I'd say that we help him get to the bottom of this. Can his wife describe the flavor?



P.S. some of my beers sampled better than commercial, some of my beers less than, and the beers where my thermometer was off and I ended up with only partial conversion and serious sweetness were the one's that a small group of people wanted to pay me to continue making beers exactly like that.
 

EoinMag

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It depends on the homebrewer and the commercial brewer. I'd hardly say people like John Maier and Greg Koch (to name only 2) don't give a crap.

Not saying all commercials are like that, but what I am saying is that a good homebrewer will be just as good as someone who does it for a living, we'd all like to homebrew commercially in a dreamworld, but realistically if it's your livelihood you are less likely to be doing it for the love of it.
 

Denny

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Not saying all commercials are like that, but what I am saying is that a good homebrewer will be just as good as someone who does it for a living,
No, I'd say "could be as good", not "will be as good"

we'd all like to homebrew commercially in a dreamworld,
Not me, by a longshot


but realistically if it's your livelihood you are less likely to be doing it for the love of it.
Might be true for some, but not true for all.
 
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