Poll: Which Beer is more difficult to brew?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by jRocco2021, Dec 23, 2012.


Which Beer is more difficult to brew?

  1. Session Beers

  2. High Gravity Beers

  3. Barrel Aged Beers

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  1. jRocco2021

    jRocco2021 Disciple (351) Mar 13, 2010 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    This stems from a discussion I had with some brew pub owners/operators. So what do you guys think is a more difficult beer to brew? My feeling has always been the lighter brews for a variety of reasons but mainly the fact that with a limited color palate you have to work a lot harder to get the same depth as something that utilizes a broader spectrum, like the difference between an oil painting and a charcoal drawing.
    Mothergoose03 likes this.
  2. dachshunddude86

    dachshunddude86 Initiate (0) Dec 21, 2012 Florida

    My vote goes to barrel aged beers. Yes I know this is a huge range of beers, but it is adding another variable to the equation which makes consistency that much harder to achieve. There is also a higher rate of infection due to the nature of the barrels.
  3. alexipa

    alexipa Devotee (439) Oct 7, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Barrel Aged. Session beers aren't that hard to brew, it's quite easy to manipulate color and flavor without adding to gravity. That's what specialty malts and hops are for! High gravity is certainly difficult as well, but there's just so many variables with barrel aging.
    StoutLover4life likes this.
  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,448) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    The most difficult beers to brew are American Adjunct Lagers. Since those beers are so light in flavor (some folks would claim they are flavorless) there is nothing to hide the potential for off-flavors that can be produced during the brewing process.

    BMC type beers get very little love on BA but they are very difficult beers to brew. You have to give Kudos to AB InBev, MillerCoors and others in their ability to consistently brew AALs.

    raffels likes this.
  5. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,306) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Good way of looking at it (and you probably just changed my vote).
    dachshunddude86 likes this.
  6. jRocco2021

    jRocco2021 Disciple (351) Mar 13, 2010 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    That is actually a really good point that came up at the brew pub because they had a Baltic Porter they make and the Big Eddie Baltic Porter. We did a side by side and even the brewer agreed they are virtually identical except that the one they brew is 7% and the Big Eddie is 10%.
  7. Stevie_Janowski

    Stevie_Janowski Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2012 Illinois

    Session beers show faults in the finished product whereas a heavy barrel aged beer hides things like diacetyl and other off flavors. If both styles contain the same amount of an "off flavor," it will be greatly exaggerated in the session compared to a heavier beer.
  8. JrGtr

    JrGtr Devotee (407) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    They're all equally hard to brew - the techniques don't really change, and the variable of barrel aging isn't difficult, as long as you're again careful about sanitation.
    Difficult to brew well? I vote for the session beers, though that really doesn't answer it either. There are session beers ranging from Light lagers and pale ales to Hefeweizen to roasty stouts and porters. IN my opinoin, the hardest to do well are the pale, light beers. As others have said, there is far less there to hide any flaws behind. You can throw lots of hops in there and it can mask all kinds of things, but a light malk bill can allow that stuff to show through.
  9. gtermi

    gtermi Meyvn (1,214) Apr 21, 2010 Texas

    I bet some people are better skilled at different styles and ways of brewing so I say it just depends on the person.
  10. MileHighShooter

    MileHighShooter Initiate (154) Nov 23, 2010 Colorado

    light, crisp, clean beer styles are by far the hardest to master. You can't hide your mistakes, whether they be mash temps, water quality, water composition, fermenting issues, or quality control. It is much easier to cover simple (and rather common) problems with heavier gravity beers, especially barrel aged. Something goes wrong the easiest blame is ON the barrel itself. With heavily hopped beers, you can cover up quite a bit with hops itself, just add more or more upfront flavor profiles. Saying that, high gravity and especially barrel aged (and sours for that matter) are a much, much bigger gamble for any brewer. You can mess up a session, find your problem, correct it, and get another batch going and ready to drink within a few weeks. So while they're all "easy" they're also all "hard" on a commercial scale.
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