My Beer Pix

A visual tribute to beer and the people who love it.

Confessions of a Bad Homebrewer


I’m a lousy homebrewer but I dress wellI’m going to miss the California Homebrewer’s Festival this year because I’ll be attending Port Brewing/Lost Abbey’s First Anniversary party instead. (And snagging my four bottle allotment of Cuvee de Tomme.)

So while those guys are all out at Vail Lake hootin’ and hollerin’, drinking their beers and not paying attention, I have a confession to make.

I am a lousy homebrewer.

Bad, really bad.

And it’s not for lack of trying either. I’ve brewed a lot of beer – pales, reds, browns, porters, stouts, IPAs – thousands of gallons of the stuff, and it is nearly always damned close to undrinkable. (I say “close” because I drink it, but I certainly wouldn’t subject my friends to it as I’m afraid they’d lose a kidney, have a seizure, go blind, etc.) I’ve read all the books, followed all the instructions, cleaned, sterilized, used only the best ingredients, taken the advice of other (home and professional) brewers. . . and the beer still sucks.

It’s not like I even have a good excuse for making bad beer. My father is an award-winning winemaker up in the Sonoma Valley and I’ve built a number of stills to make some awesome brandies and tequilas. So it’s not like I don’t know at least something about making good adult beverages.

And I’ve been making a whole range of award-winning herbal soaps based on my own recipes and machinations for more than a dozen years. (Yeah, yeah, stop laughing. Soapmaking ain’t that easy. You gotta heat and mix oils, blend it with sodium hydroxide and dry ingredients in just the right proportions. Go too far one way you get a greasy mass; too far the other and you’ve got a caustic brick that eats flesh and blinds you.)

But for whatever reason, I just can’t seem to get beer right.

So I live vicariously through folks like the boys at Monday Night Brewery, the homebrewers-turned-pro like Adam Avery and Tomme Arthur, and the cadre of friends and acquaintances who, for whatever reason, can actually make decent beer at home. And every Sunday, with those delicious beers in mind, I fire up the Turkey fryer, set on the big kettle and try again.

Most likely I’m just making another five gallons of snail and slug killer, but, who knows? This time could be THE time. (I am a “glass half full” kind of guy.)

Speaking of which. . . my glass is empty. Better go out to the kegerator and reload.

— Prost to all you homebrewers. You do the gods’ work.


  1. XXL Brew

    Don’t give up all hope. A little patience and Ninkasi will favor you soon. Good homebrew is on the horizon.

  2. ohhomebrewer

    Man, you caused me to go check my current batch to make sure it was still fermenting. Knock on wood here but I have just started homebrewing, and haven’t had a bad one yet. Actually my first on was so good, I sent it to the Sam Adams contest. Hit mw with the email and I’ll ive ya a summer blonde recipe you cant miss with.


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