We have all done it… You sample a beer at a festival or beer tasting and love it, so you end up buying a six-pack or a case, only to realize that more is not always better. You think to yourself, “I’ve made a huge mistake!” But what can you do? You can’t dump it out, as there’s a special place in Hell reserved for people who dump out good beer. Well fear not! Today we are going to discuss two options that you can use to take your beer from “meh” to marvelous.
The first method we are going to discuss is infusing. Infusing is a great way to enhance, or totally change the flavor by adding hops, fruit, coffee beans or anything else you desire to your beer. How is this done? Glad you asked! Meet my friend Randall:
As you can see, Randall is a pretty simple guy, made up of only three parts (a plastic reservoir, a metal filter, and a plastic cap). All you need to do is add your choice of infusing elements, pour in your beer, screw on the filter & cap, cool for 20 minutes, then enjoy! Pretty easy right? Here is a picture of my Randall in action:
You may have noticed from the pictures that the Randall I am using comes from Dogfish Head, but really you could do this with any container and a strainer. Some people even use a French press! In the picture above, I’m infusing an IPA with grapefruit peel & pineapple. I’ve also had an amber ale infused with cherries and chocolate. Want something even more decadent? Try adding fresh raspberries to a chocolate stout. How about something refreshing in the summer? Add mint and lime peel to a pilsner or witbier. The possibilities are endless!
If infusing seems too intimidating at first, blending is another method you can try to improve the flavor of your beer. Blending is just what it sounds like; pouring 2 (or more) beers together in the same glass to make a unique flavor combination. There are no rules when it comes to blending beer, but you do want to pay attention to what flavors make sense together. Likewise, there are no set ratios when blending, so that is something you can play around with until you find a flavor combination that works best for you. Now for some examples!
So this fall I bought a six-pack of local Blockhouse Pumpkin Ale after trying it at a beer sampling event. While I enjoyed the sample, I found that the beer was just too sweet for my taste when drinking an entire bottle. My solution was to blend it with Guinness. The Guinness cuts the sweetness and smooths out the Blockhouse, while the Blockhouse adds some extra flavor punch to the dry Guinness. Exactly what you are looking for in a good blend; two different flavors coming together to improve each other.
Some other beer blends that I have tried in the past include Southern Tier Pumking with Southern Tier Creme Brulee to make a “Creamy Pumking,” Rogue Chocolate Stout with Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar to make a “Snickers,” and Rivertowne Maxwell’s Scottish Ale with Rivertowne Headless Wylie to make an “I don’t know what this one is called.” As you can see, when blending beers, you are not limited to only beers that you do not care for on their own. You can take beers that you thoroughly enjoy by themselves (all beers listed in this paragraph for me personally) and experiment to see if you can create something just as delicious by blending them together!
You are certainly not limited to just the infusing/blending examples I have listed here today. What are some of the flavors/characteristics in your favorite beers? Do you like grapefruit IPAs? If so, try blending a grapefruit shandy with an IPA or buy an actual grapefruit and use it to infuse an IPA with grapefruit flavor.
So, the next time you buy a six-pack and it turns out you don’t enjoy the beer as much as you thought, get inventive! You may be surprised at what you are able to create.