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What is the most difficult style of beer to make, in your opinion?

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tnlandsailor

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I was wondering where to bring this up, and this is as good a place as any. I'll start by giving my opinion on the question: The most difficult style to brew is any style that has no place for flaws to hide. Light ales, light lagers, pilsner, helles, etc. It's like brewing completely naked. If you screw up even just one little thing, you can't hide it. High hop rates and high OG's can go a long way to mask flaws.

Which brings me to my point: I think the brewers of the Big Three: Bud, Miller, and Coors, are some of the most talented brewers on the planet. Their product is NOT BAD. I don't think any of the major American Pilsner brews are actually bad, or even taste crummy. They just don't taste....period. Someone give me one particular taste in any of those beers that is actually bad or foul tasting. Their mass appeal and popularity is so high because of their lack of taste. The other thing that is startlingly apparent is the utter lack of any flaws. Those beers are as clean (and lifeless) as a whistle. Any homebrewer would be hard pressed, if challenged properly, to brew a beer that light and that clean. The accomplishment of these breweries to manipulate and consistently deliver a product this devoid of any distinguishable charateristic is really awe inspiring.

I'm not kidding, these guys are my heroes. I don't particularly care for their product, but I admire it immensely. Comments?

Prosit,
 
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I don't recall where I heard it but brews such as Meister Brau (Miller) and Busch (A.B.) were products that didn't make the QC cut of Miller High Life and Budweiser. Could be urban legend...
 

andre the giant

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I'd agree with tnlndsailor. Any brew that has no strong/dominant characteristic is tough. I brewed a pale ale that would be fantatstic if it weren't for an off flavor. I have several theories where it came from, and I've changed my proceedures to correct it, but that batch of beer is almost unbearable. I expect to get a nice light dry, hoppy beer and all I taste is the off flavor. Other delicate beers, like the Pilsner, rely on a good balance, and if one characteristic is off, you notice it.

Other styles, like the Oatmeal Stout and the Chocolate Porter have some very dominant flavors, so even if the beer isn't well balanced, it still tastes great.
 

BitterRat

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tnlandsailor said:
I was wondering where to bring this up, and this is as good a place as any. I'll start by giving my opinion on the question: The most difficult style to brew is any style that has no place for flaws to hide. Light ales, light lagers, pilsner, helles, etc. It's like brewing completely naked. If you screw up even just one little thing, you can't hide it. High hop rates and high OG's can go a long way to mask flaws.

Which brings me to my point: I think the brewers of the Big Three: Bud, Miller, and Coors, are some of the most talented brewers on the planet. Their product is NOT BAD. I don't think any of the major American Pilsner brews are actually bad, or even taste crummy. They just don't taste....period. Someone give me one particular taste in any of those beers that is actually bad or foul tasting. Their mass appeal and popularity is so high because of their lack of taste. The other thing that is startlingly apparent is the utter lack of any flaws. Those beers are as clean (and lifeless) as a whistle. Any homebrewer would be hard pressed, if challenged properly, to brew a beer that light and that clean. The accomplishment of these breweries to manipulate and consistently deliver a product this devoid of any distinguishable charateristic is really awe inspiring.

I'm not kidding, these guys are my heroes. I don't particularly care for their product, but I admire it immensely. Comments?

Prosit,
Heh, I have said basically the same thing and have been ripped a new one for the mere thought!! But I think the same, the guys at the mega breweries are great brewers! They make their beer in numerous cities in the U.S. and throughout the world, and their beer is EXACTLY the same from every brewery. That is not an easy thing to do.
As for the hardest beer, I have to agree that the lighter brews are most difficult, but would say that light lagers have to be the hardest. Light lagers there is no room for errors or anything off slightly, they have to be clean and crisp.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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i disagree with "the big three" being the best brewers. mainly because these guy's have it made, right? the top-of-the-line equipment, endless resources of research, test markets, etc. plus, they use all kind of "junk" in the beers besides the big 4 - yeast, water, malt, hops - to get their final product so clear and tasteless. if they had to list all the ingredients in their beers like other food products do (by law no less!), most would be 15-25 pages long. so, with that being said, i feel the craft brewers who don't have the killer brew systems like the big 3, that can produce good quality beers time after time, are the best brewers. i bet if you had one of A-B's or M's brewers on a 3 bbl system and asked them to brew a Pilz, no two batches would be the same, as in their mega-breweries. just my $0.02 worth........
cheers!
DeRoux's Broux
 

HAZEr

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I don't think the big guys should be knocked for having high tech setups. We all rely on technology in our brewing to varying degrees. Between knowing the acid levels of our hops and the extract potential of our malt we all are way advanced from what the major brewers had ~120 years ago. None of us are stuck using 100% smoked malt because of the old style of kilning. This is all good stuff. I'm looking forward to having a dedicated lagering fridge someday.

When it comes down to it, their scientists are also brewers. They have to understand the basic process in addition to details right down to the microscopic level.

Yes they use adjuncts in their beer and other items I'm sure could only be defined as chemicals. So?

I don't drink their beer. I like mine better. I do respect their ability to repeat a process exactly every time.
 

Swervo Maneuver

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Corporations that resemble big brewers:

big record companies
big Media conglomerations (I'm looking at you, Clear Channel)
big movie studios
big insurance companies
blah blah blah.

they all flood our culture with their mediocre swill.
they're lazy because we drink it.
they serve us so dreadfully, but we thank them for it.
they dilute our culture because it's profitable.

they don't deserve our respect just because it's a difficult technical achievement.
Their machines are in place.
They're not sweating to make each bottle of Bud Light perfect.

You're the one sweating to make an original beer.
You deserve the respect.
They deserve your enmity.
Kill Whitey.
(steps off soapbox, cracks a homebrew)
 

rixport

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Gordolordo said:
What would you say is the most difficult style of beer to brew?
This is a tough question and I'd have to concour with the other's generalizations about hiding flaws. However, to be more direct to the question, I'm going to do another gereralization. One of the most difficult things for me is to try to brew a beer that there are very few comercial (good ones) examples of the style. I'm currently facinated by Saison style beer. There are very few comercially available examples. Saison Dupont is probably the easiest to get, however, the most generic example of the style. I'm not selling Dupont short on their beer, it's wonderful, but to read about the style, you would quickly come to the conclusion that Dupont only scratches the surface of the potential character of the style. So, we have to have faith in our own brewing ability to follow the techniques and formulas that we have available to us as a historic baseline and assume that what we brew is at least close to what the style is supposed to be all about. It is truly the great thing about home brewing.. once you get over the idea of cloning every beer you've ever enjoyed from comercial brewers, it's time to step out on your own and brew by the seat of your pants (with some solid foundation of why and how) and brew truly great beers. You may leave you friends scratching their heads and thinking you've stripped a gear, but who are we brewing for? How's that for a non-answer to a direct question!?

Ken
 

DeRoux's Broux

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order a large pepperoni pizza from domino's pizza in virgina, order a large pepperoni pizza from domino's in texas, order another in california. they all taste the same, look the same, same texture, etc. does that make them the best pizza makers in the world, or their pizza the hardest to make consistent? not to me. it's the guy on the corner with the coal fired/wood fired brick oven, hand mixing his dough, proofing his dough for 24 hours, hand tossing, and carefully making that perfect crispy crust on the outside, chewy on the inside................

cheers!
DeRoux's Broux
 

bunz

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Hands down, Lambics, if done properly. Takes lots of time and several yeasts/bacteria.

Next category would be lighter lagers (Pils, Helles, Dortmunder, American). Not much to hide behind, you really need a clean brew here.

After that I would say darker Lagers. Again, your looking for a clean malt/hop profile with not a lot to hide behind.

Finally Ales and Wheats. Just like lagers, the heavier, darker varieties are easier to brew than they're lighter cousins.

Now, ask yourself this question. How often do I brew those top two categories (Lambics and Light Lagers)? How often do I brew ales and wheats? I've been brewing for 11-12 years and have only brewed about 3 light lagers and no Lambics. It's just easier to brew ales and wheat beers. But when I want a challenge I'll brew a light lager. This summer, it's going to be a Helles. Wish me luck!

Bunz
 

Dude

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tnlandsailor said:
Which brings me to my point: I think the brewers of the Big Three: Bud, Miller, and Coors, are some of the most talented brewers on the planet. Their product is NOT BAD. I don't think any of the major American Pilsner brews are actually bad, or even taste crummy. They just don't taste....period. Someone give me one particular taste in any of those beers that is actually bad or foul tasting. Their mass appeal and popularity is so high because of their lack of taste. The other thing that is startlingly apparent is the utter lack of any flaws. Those beers are as clean (and lifeless) as a whistle. Any homebrewer would be hard pressed, if challenged properly, to brew a beer that light and that clean. The accomplishment of these breweries to manipulate and consistently deliver a product this devoid of any distinguishable charateristic is really awe inspiring.

I'm not kidding, these guys are my heroes. I don't particularly care for their product, but I admire it immensely. Comments?

Prosit,
I've been dying to comment on this topic. I think its a highly interesting subject.
Before I began brewing I felt like you--the big brewers were my heroes. Now that I have some knowledge of the brewing process, I lose more and more respect for these giants every day. I'll keep the financial aspect out of this discussion--but if I had the technology that these brewers had, you and I could brew the same beer every time too. The people I respect are the guys like you and Janx, and all of the other homebrewers out there who are doing it at home with a couple of converted kegs or an aluminum pot and a turkey fryer.
My new hero (in a brewing sense) is Sam Calagione form Dogfish Head Brewery. He started out just like us and experimented and fooled around and brewed every chance he got, and now is at the top of his profession. I can't wait to meet this guy at the National Homebrewers conference next month.
So, I agree with your points that the big giants don't make BAD beer, but the craft brewing revolution is taking beer through the roof. (Although I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Champagne of Beers!)

My .02....
 

tnlandsailor

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We can only hope that the American public will actually develop a taste for beer. With the advent of "malterative" beverages (not my label, I heard it somewhere), I see a divide occuring between the actual beer drinkers and those who simply tolerated beer in the past and are now drinking spiked koolaid. Perhaps those that are rejecting the malternatives can be persuaded to expand their beer horizons?

Good point on the mega breweries. I still stick to the point that they brew beer that is virtually unmakeable on a homebrew scale; too light, too perfectly clean. On the other hand, what homebrewer would want to?

I suppose my original post was a challenge to the community: if you really think you can brew, try a very light beer and see what you get. It's hard. Try a Helles, try a Cream Ale, or the dreaded BoPils. You will be humbled.

Prosit,
 

DeRoux's Broux

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to each his own, i guess?
those malt-ernative beverages (in my area anyway) only appeal to the ladies and girly-men that never really drank beer anyway. i believe that's the target group for those bottles of spiked kool-aid?
my wife for example. we've been married almost 1 year. when we met, she only drank that brand that's less filling, tastes crappy..you know the one? i got her hooked on a Tx indi bock beer, and now she loves my Coffee Porter, TX Bock's, and beers with more malt, character, and flavors. it can happen. even at Reliant Stadium in Housoton (home of the TEXANS, WOO-HOO!), you can get Saint Arnold's on tap (a small Houston indi micro). who'da thunk it??????
beer culture in America will continue to change as long as homebrewer's and craft beer lover's continue to make demand quality barley-pop!
cheers!
DeRoux's Broux
BTW - lambics and pilz are the hardest to brew ;~)
 

tnlandsailor

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I've never tried to brew a lambic (nor do I intend to), but I've tasted a couple. Let me quote from the BJC Style Guidelines:

"Aroma: ...horsey, horse blanket, sweaty, oaky, hay, and sour. Other aromas that are found in small quantities are: enteric, vinegary and barnyard."

Yep, that pretty much sums up the ones I tried. I just don't have the appreciation for this style, that's just me. But I'll go ahead and put in my take on this: for something fermented with wild yeast and bacteria - on purpose - with aromas of horsey, sweaty, and barnyard, how in the world could you tell if you screwed it up? "This smells like crap...oh, it's lambic...hey, that's pretty good!" ;)

I got stuck judging lambics at my first competition. On the first one, I could barely choke the first couple of sips down, but when I looked at the guidelines, I ended up giving it a 38. The smell of Brettanomyces hung like a cloud in the whole room.

I don't begrudge anyone who dabbles in Lambics, and this post is mostly in jest. Don't take me too seriously. It's all in fun. Now, I'll get started on my Kumquat & Gargonzola Gueuze.........

Prosit,
 
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tnlandsailor said:
I've never tried to brew a lambic (nor do I intend to), but I've tasted a couple. Let me quote from the BJC Style Guidelines:

"Aroma: ...horsey, horse blanket, sweaty, oaky, hay, and sour. Other aromas that are found in small quantities are: enteric, vinegary and barnyard."

Yep, that pretty much sums up the ones I tried. I just don't have the appreciation for this style, that's just me.
Uhm I second that motion. I only tried one once and I don't recall which one but it seemed more like a fruity malterative beverage for the babes and girlymen as mentioned above. Guess I'm not as much of a beer snob as I thought I was. Let the slamming of our opinions begin :D
 

DeRoux's Broux

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i don't care for lambic's either. really, belgian style beer period is down on my list. maybe a good dubble every once in a while (like Maredsous), but not my first choice. to me, they just take too much patience and are too big a gamble. i'd rather a hearty ale or german lager. still to me, it's tough to make one taste worth a flip :~)

all good board foder. no hard or hurt feelings here. just opinions of one passionate beer person who loves to hear other's opinions and views. :^)

Cheers!
DeRoux's Broux
 

homebrewer_99

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Lots of good comments here. Especially when comparing yourselves to the big guys.

As I was reading them I realized the reason I did not brew when I was living in Germany is because I had 9 breweries in town and 2 more less than a mile from my house, then any other city I went to had one...so I did not brew because I thought it a waste of my time trying to compete when I could just pick up a case of beer fo $11.

I lived in Germany for 9 years and drank my fill of almost every style I could find. I was in BEER HEAVEN (yes, I've been to Belgium also).

Anyway, I got to thinking if German beer is so great (I REALLY enjoy it), then why are there homebrewers in Germany ? Don't believe me? Here's another forum I belong to: http://www.hobbybrauer.de/. It's a German club. It can't be the price. Just to be different, like us (OK, ours is a choice (or lack of) and flavor).

In Germany it's because it is a hobby. Of course, they can make their own liquer at home (and do).

They have lots of recipes on the site also.
 

Dude

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DeRoux's Broux said:
those malt-ernative beverages (in my area anyway) only appeal to the ladies and girly-men that never really drank beer anyway. i believe that's the target group for those bottles of spiked kool-aid?

The problem with the big breweries in that sense is that they bully thier way through it with advertising. They'll entice you to try anything if they show big knockers and a big truck with the gun rack. I'm not sterotyping, I'm just pointing out that it is the general public as whole that are just followers to the very end and aren't willing to even TRY something else.
I didn't start brewing because I didn't like macro-brewed beer. I'm brewing because I am intrigued with the process and I find it amazing that out of 4 simple ingredients (okay, 3, yeast isn't simple), you can make thousands and thousands of different concoctions. I love the history of how beer survived through prohibition and all kinds of other stuff. Its just unfortunate the general public is holding itself back from trying GOOD beer.
 

brewhead

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my what big knockers

(young frankenstien)

certainly gets my attention any day of the week. i think rodney carrington has a song about this same line of thought.
 

D-brewmeister

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Burger flippers at Mc. D's the world over can produce identical results, without anything resembling culinary skill or talent. I would say that the same applies to the majority of those working in industrialized breweries -- they follow the formulas, read the gagues, etc, and create their perfectly bland beer.
 
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