Hopeless Homebrew Solutions

Wondering what to do with a multi-gallon batch of oops? Here are some tasty and practical solutions.

Emily Hutto Aug 16, 2016 - 10 min read

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Let’s face it—homebrewers sometimes craft batches that just aren’t drinkable, especially when they’re new to brewing or using new equipment or ingredients. So what do you do with a multi-gallon batch of oops? Here are four significantly tastier solutions, as well as suggestions for avoiding the same problem in your next batch.

If the batch is too yeasty or too husky, make beer biscuits.

Find yourself with a yeast bomb or an astringent, grainy homebrew? These yeasty, overly husky flavors are hardly desirable in beer; however, they can be nice flavor complements to beer bread, biscuits, and other beery baked goods.

Here’s a biscuit recipe passed down from my mother that I’ve adapted as beer bread, which tends to take on the flavor profile of the beer style used. For sweeter, darker breads, use porters, stouts, or other dark ales. For drier, more savory breads try pale ale, IPA, or Pilsner.

Beer Biscuits

2½ cup bread flour
1 tsp sugar
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
¼ cup shortening
1 cup (237 ml) homebrew


Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in room temperature pats of butter and shortening. Add the beer. Knead into the dough. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a ¾-inch (19 mm) thickness. Cut with a biscuit cutter, then place in a greased cast-iron pan. Bake 14–16 minutes until biscuit tops are slightly golden.

The fix for the next homebrew

If the beer was too yeasty, use a clean, healthy yeast strain and be sure to let the beer ferment long enough so the yeast settles out. If the beer was too husky, be sure to properly crush all of your grain (if you’re doing so yourself) so that it can all be extracted during sparging. In addition, cold conditioning the beer can help its graininess to settle out with the yeast.

If the batch is under-attenuated or under-carbed, make beer soap.

Fermentation and carbonation issues in homebrew are a great excuse to take on another unique DIY project: soap making. Cate Evans-Baze, who owns Let It Be Naturals in Colorado, crafts a line of beer soap using beer from local breweries.

“Here’s my story about beer soap,” she says. Beer soap making requires the cold-process method. “You can basically take any recipe that you like and simply replace the water with beer,” says Evans-Baze.


Start the beer-soap process with cold, flat beer. “I usually put my beer in a large glass bowl in the refrigerator for three or more days,” says Evans-Baze. “Every time I open the fridge, I stir the beer to help with the process of losing carbonation. Some people decide to boil their beer for a bit and then either put it in ice cube trays or back in the refrigerator for another day. Bottom line: the beer must be flat, and it must be cold.”

The beer must be cold because the next step, adding the lye or alkaline solution, can be tricky. “Even with water, the lye gets crazy, crazy hot, but the beer takes [the temperature] to a whole new level.”

This lye mixture can have a funky smell, says Evans-Baze. You can counteract that smell with the use of essential oils and other ingredients. “There are an endless number of things you can throw in the recipe,” she explains. “I’ve added coriander, lemon peel, crushed hops, ground-up barley, and amazing essential oils that complement the beer.”

Beer-Bar Soap

33 oz (936 g) coconut oil
4.83 oz (137 g) lye (NaOH)
12 fl oz (355 ml) homebrew
½ oz (25 ml) essential oils of your choice
You’ll also need pH strips and a slow cooker.


Pour the cold beer into a glass bowl and add the lye to the beer (don’t add the beer to the lye). Do this step outside while wearing protective gear as the mixture will get very hot. Cool for 10 minutes.

Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan and add it to the slow cooker. Add the cooled beer/lye mixture to the slow cooker. Stir the ingredients until they form a thick sauce-like substance. Cover and cook on low heat for 45 minutes to an hour. The soap is finished when it is translucent and at a pH level of 7 to 10. Wait until the soap cools and add essential oils. When soap is cool and firm, cut into squares and let dry.

The fix for the next homebrew

Be sure that fermentation is complete before bottling. At bottling, make sure that you’ve added the right amount of priming sugar to your beer and that you still have a healthy yeast population. For high-gravity beers that spent a long time in the fermentor, you may need to add fresh yeast to the bottles before conditioning. Let bottles sit at fermentation temperature or room temperature for at least two to three weeks.

If the batch is too boozy, barbecue it.

If your batch of imperial stout has alcohol heat—but not in a good way—tame the sharpness by reducing it down to a barbecue sauce. Here’s an adapted Breckenridge Brewery recipe for this crafty condiment. Typically the brewery makes this beer-barbeque sauce with its Oatmeal Stout.


Beer-Barbecue Sauce

½ cup (118 ml) molasses
¼ cup (59 ml) mustard
½ cup (118 ml) chili sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup powdered onion
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup (118 ml) homebrew

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

The fix for the next homebrew

Extra booziness is often the result of too high of fermentation temperatures or excess yeast in fermentation. Keeping fermentation temperatures within the specified range of your chosen yeast strain and highly attenuative yeast can help to solve those issues.

If the batch is too estery, brine it.

Professional chef-turned-homebrewer Sean Paxton, who runs the cooking-with-beer website, is a big fan of beer brine. During brining, osmosis removes liquid from the meat being brined and replaces it with flavors that hydrate the meat, Paxton explains. If your Dopplebock or Hefeweizen took on an estery life of its own during fermentation, soak up those extra fruit-forward flavors with roasted turkey. Here is Paxton’s turkey brine recipe, adapted with some extra basil and rosemary. Add your own fresh herbs or spices to brine out with a bang.


Beer-Brined Turkey

4 qt (3.8 l) homebrew
2 cup kosher salt
1 cup sugar
4 bay leaves
2 bunches fresh rosemary
1 cup loosely packed basil
3 bunches fresh thyme
3 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 lemons, quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
4 qt (3.8 l) ice or water
1 turkey (thawed if frozen)

In a large pot, combine the beer, salt, sugar, bay leaves, rosemary, basil, thyme, onion, celery, carrots, lemons, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the ice or cold water; it will help cool the brine solution. Add the turkey to the brine and refrigerate for 1 hour or until well-chilled.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry. Truss the bird with twine to hold its shape and cook evenly. Place in a roasting pan and roast until a temperature probe inserted in the thickest part of the breast registers an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). (If you don’t have a probe, a 16- to 20-pound (7.25 to 9 kg) turkey should take between 3½ and 4 hours to fully cook at this temperature.) Let the turkey rest for 20–30 minutes before carving. This will help the keep the turkey moist by letting the meat relax and redistribute its juices.

The fix for the next homebrew

Try fermenting at a lower temperature. The higher the temperature, the more ester character your beer will display. You can also consider switching to a yeast strain that produces fewer esters.

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