Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The 5 Pitfalls of Home Cooking

I've recently realized that my latest batch of home-brew is terrible but that I have nice friends. I don't really expect everything to turn out great but this was my first outright failure. Why did it take me so long to come to this realization? I didn't host a real dinner party until last weekend and I didn't offer my beer to anybody. I realized deep inside that it wasn't going to speak well of my brewing skills or my hosting prowess. Because of the 5 fallicies of home cooking (and brewing) my batch is unservable (but not undrinkable.)

On to the list!

#5. The chefs hat isn't hiding an enormous brian in there, but rather an enormous ego.
    It takes a bit of arrogance to truely believe that every batch of beer you make is going to turn out to be amazing. With only a 25% failure rate I think I'm still ahead of the curve for a relative newbie. It still stings to know that my large time investment has resulted in something only slightly less revolting than Chelada (the primary flavor of which is clam juice -- from clams.)
#4. No matter how bad you think that weird taste is, in reality it's five times worse.

    Attitude can be a huge transformational force in a person's life. If you have a positive attitude about something you've created you're going to forgive a lot more faults that might scream in the face of others. I noticed a slight sourness in my batch that (I thought) mellowed out a little bit over time, but I think it just worked its way into my heart. The most telling and least harsh judgement comes from the fact that nobody ever asked me for a second bottle or said anything nice about this one. Go figure.

#3. You'll never be able to figure out exactly what went wrong but the guessing will drive you crazy.

    Having lent my mass spectrometer to a friend, I have no way to really tell what flavonoids, esthers, alcohols, oils, or other crap has gotten into my batch. For all I know, this beer is supposed to taste like a teabag. I suspect that the bottom of the grain bag got too hot (since I cooked it on my electric stove) and released tannins into the beer. That sounds a lot nicer than some of the other things I can think of, so we'll leave it at that.

#2. You can't bear to throw it out if you yourself can eat it.

  This has the effect of preventing me from getting started on my next batch for several reasons:

  •  The beer is palatable as long as you're me.
  •  I only have one set of bottles, so I need to make room before starting on my next batch.
  • The undesirable taste of crushing failure has sort of curbed my appetite for this particular beer.

  Taken together I have a beer that's too precious to throw away and not good enough to drink. Sort of a catch-22. After this post, I doubt my wife will even help me finish it.
#1. You've built up anticipation and now can't deliver.

  People know I brew beer and some of them knew about this batch. Since my track record was previously three for three they had reason to expect similar success. Luckily, my friends understand that it doesn't always work out. I dodged a bullet by not promising any beer to anybody before it was done. Don't count your chickens and all that. The most important thing to realize though is that the person with the most anticipation is yourself. If you surround yourself with good people there's really nothing to feel bad about!

What's the silver lining? While it's totally unrelated, the "Poodle Nazi" you may remember from a few posts back just got arrested for having sex with a 15 year old boy prostitute. I never liked that guy and thought some mean and nasty things about his poodle, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine he was a sex offender. Maybe I'll be able to brew outside this time around!

Have any dinner party stories? Home brew gone awry? Post in the comments below!


  1. The poodle nazi got arrested!?!?!? Holy pooP!

  2. I am all too familiar with that crushing defeat, signaling hours of lost time, when pots come out of the kiln totally ruined! It deters me from picking myself back up and starting again. How about this: you throw out your beer, and I'll smash my pots that got ruined. We need to get back on the horse! Also, you might consider finding yourself a brewing mentor.

  3. I've had several batches that turned out.... Shall we say..... Less than good. Don't get discouraged!! It took me about a dozen batches before I started to get really good consistency, and even now I have a batch go awry every once in a while. Don't be afraid to dump it! The first time is painful, but there's no reason to hang on to beer you don't want to drink.