"White whales" for homebrewers

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by evantwomey, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. What are some beers you are on a personal quest towards perfecting?

    I think a lot of homebrewers have a particular style they'd like to 'perfect' but keeps eluding them. For me, it's a German pils. I can get close but I'm still not satisfied. I've got a very clear "mental image" of how I want it to be, so I'll know when I get it right.

    I'd be interested to hear about some other personal quests for certain styles, whether or not you were ultimately successful, and what you learned along the way.
  2. Bay01

    Bay01 Savant (445) Illinois Nov 19, 2008

    A good Bourbon County clone - getting that mouth-feel and all of those chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and bourbon notes in perfect harmony is elusive.
  3. WanderingFool

    WanderingFool Advocate (705) Massachusetts Aug 7, 2002 Verified Subscriber

    I've been trying for the past couple years to make a good hoppy IPA. Every time I try the beer is good, but just isn't what I'm looking for. Guess I've been drinking too many Heady Toppers and other hop bombs lately.

    I make a pumpkin ale every year and it took me about 10 years to get the recipe to what I want. Part of the fun of homebrewing for me is making the same recipe again, but tweaking it a little bit with what I learned from the last batch.
  4. cmmcdonn

    cmmcdonn Savant (400) Virginia Jun 21, 2009

    theCoder and superspak like this.
  5. German pils, marzen. I've come close on the marzen before, but I'm never 100% satisfied. Lagers are hard...
  6. vrbulldog22

    vrbulldog22 Advocate (500) Ohio Sep 5, 2010 Verified

    We only just brewed batch 10, but our eyes are definitely set on perfecting an ipa, a saison & getting some sours going..
  7. Wingfan13

    Wingfan13 Aficionado (180) Texas Aug 10, 2009

    This may be a dumb question but have you worked with your water chemistry ? I was so annoyed trying to brew a good IPA and not until I started working with my water chemistry did I actually achieve a good IPA.

    Mine would be a mind blowing imperial stout.
    Pahn likes this.
  8. goodonezach

    goodonezach Initiate (0) New York Mar 24, 2011

    this winter i'm working on my stouts, cuz it's easy to make a good one but damn near impossible to make a great one. then hopefully i'll be able to get myself set up for lagering, cuz i'd love to make some tasty german-style something-or-other that you can just drink gallons of at a time instead of having to buy that much...
  9. alexipa

    alexipa Savant (455) Colorado Oct 7, 2011

    An amazing American Amber. I've told myself when I perfect an amber recipe and can brew it consistently, I'll open a brewery. There's soooo few great Ambers and everyone on the planet loves them.
    goodonezach likes this.
  10. MrOH

    MrOH Advocate (525) Maryland Jul 5, 2010

    The perfect porter. It should go down like a pat on the back from your Grandpa, letting you know that even though you lost the big game, you tried your best and he's still proud of you. I'll know it when I brew it.
  11. DonDirkA

    DonDirkA Savant (410) Arizona Dec 14, 2011

    Mine will be a perfect BBA Chocolate Imperial Stout. Obviously its not really BBA, I am just using bourbon soaked oak cubes, but its the name I am going with. I am about to do my first batch of this style soon. I can only brew in the late fall, winter and early spring because I'm in AZ and its too hard to control my room temp for fermentation.
  12. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (740) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    A fruit beer along the lines of New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red or Raspberry Tart. I've made a decent matrix beer, a sour brown ale, but stopped short of adding the fruit. I don't really care if I never make something exactly like it, but I would like to hit about the same balance of sweetness and tartness that they get in these beers.
  13. I still have to make the perfect Altbier.

    Have nailed many lagers. Should have Bo-Pils added to the list this year.
  14. hopsandmalt

    hopsandmalt Savant (400) Michigan Dec 14, 2006 Verified

    Belgian IPA. Something like Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel

    The two that I have brewed so far just tasted weird. I need to get a handle on water chemistry and fermentation temperatures for the style I think.
    mtalley999 and afrokaze like this.
  15. MaxSpang

    MaxSpang Advocate (515) Ohio Jan 28, 2011

    My goal is to make ridiculously huge beer (like 18%) that doesn't taste like rocket fuel.
    Boz12, jegross2 and afrokaze like this.
  16. WanderingFool

    WanderingFool Advocate (705) Massachusetts Aug 7, 2002 Verified Subscriber

    I've been adding a half teaspoon of gypsum to my mash per 5 gallon batch. My water is pretty good, but a little on the hard side. I'm still learning about water chemistry and hope to make more improvements in the future.
  17. YamBag

    YamBag Savant (275) Pennsylvania Feb 2, 2007

    Dortmund Export
    inchrisin likes this.
  18. MLucky

    MLucky Savant (390) California Jul 31, 2010

    I guess you could say I'm on a quest for the perfect german pils and DIPA. Not very original, I know. But those are two beers I make over and over again, mainly just because I can always enjoy drinking them (as opposed to, say, an RIS, which I kind of have to be in a certain mood for).
  19. Naugled

    Naugled Advocate (550) New York Sep 25, 2007 Verified

    I chase a few whales.

    A Vienna lager in the style of fresh Sam Adams Boston Lager. It's a good solid beer that my wife enjoys so I try to accommodate my main customer. I say 'fresh' because this beer is very different when it's fresh. It will have a hoppy aroma and flavor the seems to disappear quickly with age. I've done well with this style in homebrew comps, but not with my main customer. So I'm still working at it.

    A Belgian IPA in the style of Raging Bitch. I think I'm close, I just sent out a few bottles to get a broader opinion. I don't want to say too much about it, but I think I like my version better than the RB now, even though it's different.

    And lastly a Double Pils. I just started brewing these but I've been obsessed with thought about it.

    I brew probably 15 to 20 different styles per year, but these are the ones I give too much thought too.
  20. afrokaze

    afrokaze Advocate (665) Arizona Jun 12, 2009 Verified

    I'd love to make an awesome Anchor Humming clone, a good Brett saison & a framboise one day.
  21. I've only got a few batches under my belt but a few styles I'd love to perfect.

    A juicy, citrusy, fragrant IPA, something around 7% bursting with tropical flavors.

    A smooth coffee porter, something to drink on Christmas morning with donuts, bacon, eggs, home fries.

    A Czech Pils/Munich Helles with a great crisp grassy zing for the hot months.
  22. ao125

    ao125 Savant (335) Virginia Dec 1, 2010

    I'm pretty close on a good Thomas Hardy clone. That's been my main focus for the past two years.
  23. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (920) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member Verified Subscriber

    I'm pretty happy with my IPA's as it what I normally brew..

    However, I'd like to get that perfectly balanced stout, with that motor oil, milkshake consistency in something 10% or greater ABV..

    Been working on it, silly this is, to do those beers, it just flat out takes time.
    goodonezach likes this.
  24. jivex5k

    jivex5k Advocate (660) Florida Apr 13, 2011

    I'd like to make a Zhukov one day.
  25. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (925) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    Schlenkerla Maerzen. I have brewed over 100 gallons of Rauchbier in the Maerzen style, and have come close only once (luckily with my latest attempt). Of course, when I set out on this quest I told my brewing buddy that we were basically attempting the beer equivalent of trying to clone Classic Coca Cola.
    MrOH, hopsandmalt and afrokaze like this.
  26. A Figgy Pudding beer (what I anticipated Block 15's tasting like, but it didnt), THE quintessential English bitter that would make Brits want to come HERE to drink, and a solid Anglo-American IPA...
  27. afrokaze

    afrokaze Advocate (665) Arizona Jun 12, 2009 Verified

    Should have also mentioned that I'll die happy once I can brew the perfect bitter.
    goodonezach and herrburgess like this.
  28. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (925) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    Oddly enough, my first ever brew was an all-grain bitter using 100% English 2-row pale malt and EKG hops. Because I didn't have bottling capabilities with the equipment I had gotten free of charge from my brother, who no longer brews, I used 5-liter party kegs primed with priming sugar instead. The result was the closest thing I've had in a homebrew to Real Ale. Not perfect by any means, but, needless to say, after that I was hooked.
    afrokaze likes this.
  29. Mine would be a geuze, done 1 so far. Not bad, but a long way from cantillon and 3F. I'm also currently doing a lambic that I'll probably add to fruit. Now if I can just figure out where to buy some damn cloudberries. Seriously does anyone know where to get cloudberries?
  30. Have you tried smoking your own malt?

    This is a style I'd like to get down and I'm thinking smoking my own malt with beechwood might be worth a try.
  31. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (925) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    Yea, a buddy of mine built an old-school smokehouse and I used it a couple of times to smoke my own, but with oak and not with beechwood, which is pretty difficult to find here in SC (would need to travel to NC and the mountains to obtain). The oak gave it a sweetness that I didn't like, and the phenolics were somehow much higher with the home-smoked malt. I have come to the conclusion (with my latest attempts) that getting it right requires truly nailing the underlying Maerzen base beer first rather than further experimenting with various ways to smoke the grain. As I say about drinking Schlenkerla...it's the underlying Maerzen characteristics that fully emerge only after the 3rd half-liter that truly make that beer world-class.
  32. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (470) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    I think that smoking malt is like kilning your own. You should go for something a touch different. Weyermann is beechwood and Briess is Cherry smoked. Totally up to you, but fruit wood is very forgiving and pecan wood can also lend a nice flavor.
  33. You need to figure out the proper way to smoke grains on your smoker. It is another art to learn. It can be done.
  34. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Savant (420) California Mar 22, 2011

    Working on attempt number 3 at the moment... Clearly great minds think alike :) Hopefully one if these days ill hit something near Alesmith's My Bloody Valentine.
    alexipa likes this.
  35. nesarebad

    nesarebad Advocate (600) Pennsylvania Feb 4, 2012 Verified

    Love that everyone has a different 'Walez' in mind, guess that is the spirit of homebrew. I have not brewed enough to have one in particular that I am trying to get down, only 4 batches in. Right now I am just trying to get something in that I would actually buy if given the chance. :D
  36. goodonezach

    goodonezach Initiate (0) New York Mar 24, 2011

    not to derail the thread, but do you usually hone in on one particular beer, repeating it with one minor change at a time until you get it perfect? or does anyone brew a lot of different styles, take good notes, then come back to a bunch? i ask because i'd like to get a repertoire of 'perfect' beers down but i dont want to have like five or six consecutive batches of basically the same beer, which would take me months to brew and then drink.
    herrburgess likes this.
  37. MrOH

    MrOH Advocate (525) Maryland Jul 5, 2010

    I make a stab twice a year, and then brew a couple of things in a similar vein but reaching for a different goal a couple of times a year as well. I mean, I'm still working on perfecting my brewday procedure, if I nail that and my porter recipe, I'll have to find new goals.
  38. goodonezach

    goodonezach Initiate (0) New York Mar 24, 2011

    yeah i'm still working on my procedure as well, but i wonder if brewing the same batch would make it easier to notice areas i could improve on, instead of wondering if each recipe is just more/less forgiving than the last...
  39. MrOH

    MrOH Advocate (525) Maryland Jul 5, 2010

    I brewed 4 beers with the same grainbill back to back over the summer (different hops and yeast), with a fifth using the same grainbill last week, and all were 1.053-1.055, so I guess I'm getting there.
  40. goodonezach

    goodonezach Initiate (0) New York Mar 24, 2011

    awesome. i'm going to get a refractometer soon, so that should make things a bit more consistent. then i'm going to make a fermentation chamber and start working on my marzens...