Drinking Bad Beer for “Fun”

Reported by Ken Carman for Professor Goodales

A few weeks ago fellow Music City brewers gathered under this holy symbol for what many would consider an unholy activity.

Centuries ago some might have considered demons had entered our beer, or witches cursed it. Now we know defects are caused by wayward yeast, improper fermentation temperatures and other variables. Thank God, especially when it comes to yeast problems, we have been able to put those myths out to “Pasteur.”

Pause for a brief musical humor break sung to my recently spoiled homebrew: “Louie, Lou-i, oh, wort, wild yeasties put a spell on you!”

Of course, since learning to identify beer defects is a holy of sorts for beer judges and homebrewers, we need a high priest. Enter Father Stephanica Johnson, holder of the holy grail: a Certified BJCP Judge-ship, plus president of our brew club many times over. As Steve knows I’m Certified too. Many in the club know as well. Quite “certified.” Ahm…

OK, Steve isn’t really a priest, and he certainly wasn’t “high,” except maybe only on helping us all learn more about DMS and diacetyl. So we all sat and studied defects, listened to descriptions of defects as a light, yet polluted, beer was passed out.



Everyone was so enthused, like our friend Gil who I have discussed both beer and religion with many times. No. Really. I could tell when it came to defects brother Gil’s faith in drinking only good beer was restored. So when it comes to bad beer I guess Gil’s… Cupp… runneth-ed way the hell over… like the rest of us. And, yes, his last name is “Cupp.”

I’m sure more than a few of us were gacking and gorfing at the polluted beer, but being able to identify the defects was the goal here. It’s all part of judging beer and identifying problems in beer you brew so maybe you’ll do better next time.

Many glasses were left full. So much to dump! I tried to read what I had written on the glasses so I could remember which defects we covered, but only got a few due to my poor script. Please don’t use a magic maker like I did: it can confuse your senses because it mimics a defect.

Here’s what I remember: we learned a lot about cardboard/papery like defects, butyric/rancid, acetic/vinegary, corn/DMS, butter/diacetyl: many to follow with more sessions to come. I am reporting this a bit late, I admit, but I was going to take pictures from two sessions, but the second session had been postponed. So I decided to go ahead and report on the first session.

We left a bit hazy about defects we might review next time; as hazy as the unfinished glass you see pictured above. And we also left wiser regarding several beer defects.

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