Homebrew Question: What’s the Most Important Batch You’ve Ever Brewed?

Homebrewing for special occasions is more common than I thought.  I realized this as I started doing research (which should be a four letter word) for this week’s Today Show article, which is all about guys who homebrewed for their own weddings (you can find it here).

I stayed on the topic of brewing for nuptials for Today, interviewing B&WB regulars John King and Evan Burck, but I ran across folks brewing for all sorts of special occasions.  People have brewed for other people’s’ weddings, for graduation parties, for birthdays, for themed parties, etc. You name it, someone has brewed for it.

I started to imagine what it’d be like if I had to brew for a special occasion. First off, I should say that this is mostly fantasy, as I’m an inexperienced brewer and my stuff doesn’t turn out very well.  But still, there’s something very romantic about the idea of brewing up a special batch of beer (or beers) for an important gathering. 

Maybe I’d see it as a challenge to brew a beer that would satisfy a picky audience, or maybe it’d be a chance to show others what a homebrewer can do, getting them interested in the hobby. Whatever it is, I bet it’d be exciting and stressful at the same time.

That got me to thinking about you guys and girls, wondering what your most high-pressure brews have been.  A special event? A homebrew competition? A prison release party? Hopefully not your own, as pruno isn’t widely appreciated outside of captivity.

Anyway, let us know below what’s been your most important brew up to this point and how it turned out!




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32 Comments on “Homebrew Question: What’s the Most Important Batch You’ve Ever Brewed?”

  1. May 17, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    I’ve brewed for parties, but I guess the most important was a batch I just brewed for a friend’s wedding… his fiance wanted it to give as gifts for the groomsmen and his soon to be hobby (he doesn’t know and hope he doesn’t read this before his wedding)…

    It’s the first time I’ll go as far as getting custom labels and making boxes to package the bottles… pretty special I’d say…

    • May 17, 2012 at 11:33 am #

      No pressure, just a beer we’re giving as a gift on the most important day of our young lives which will be festooned with a fancy label!

      • May 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

        exactly, right?

        … I did some quality control this week though and the beer came out outstanding! Now just gotta make the hardwood boxes and package it neatly!

  2. rob
    May 17, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    Brewing for events can be difficult for me. I usually brew high gravity, hoppy beer for my consumption. That may not always be the best choice for family events. That being said, for my father in-law’s 70th birthday, I brewed an american amber that went over really well. Also made a hard cider that was well received.

    • May 17, 2012 at 11:34 am #

      Good point – the beers that most people enjoy aren’t necessarily the ones geeks like to brew. Plus, brewing a more gently flavored beer leaves less room for error, making the whole thing much more stressful.

  3. Full Tun
    May 17, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    For my groomsmen gifts I asked each groomsman what their favorite style of beer was. I then brewed a batch of beer for each style with my own twists on it. Each guy got a bottle of each beer and the extras of their own beer. Had the labels done up, dipped each in wax and built wood crates to hold the beers. I called it the Seven Beers for Seven Brothers series. Worked out nicely.

    • May 17, 2012 at 11:35 am #

      Great name! And wax and crates make everything more manly and good.

  4. May 17, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    About the only special occasions I’ve brewed for were Christmas a few times over the years when I gave a six pack each to friends and family. Everyone seemed to enjoy them, because the years when I didn’t do it, they were asking for more.

    The most high-pressure batch was a milk stout for the Wife last year. She’s very picky about the stouts she drinks, and satisfying her tastes set a high bar. It came out way better than expected, so much so that a local brewer gave it high marks when I gave him a few to taste!

    • May 17, 2012 at 11:39 am #

      I thought wives were supposed to love everything you do no matter what. Oh wait – that’s moms. Never mind.

  5. May 17, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    My friends and I brewed up an oatmeal stout for a competition earlier in the year, and it turned out really well. The only problem was that none of us could submit our entry in the required three hour window. Oops. Everything else was perfect, and we totally would have won and become famous. Next year . . .

    We are brewing up two batches for my wedding in July. One will be an all-grain version of our ‘Nookie IPA (Nuptial Nookie), based on the Northern Brewer Chinook IPA recipe. The other will be my original Belgo-Japanese IPA recipe, which was a big hit when I brewed it the first time a few months ago.

    • May 17, 2012 at 11:40 am #

      Nothing like a little ‘Nookie on your wedding day…

  6. May 17, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Definitely my brews for my wedding were the most important. I had to showcase homebrewing overall to many Macro drinkers. Once they tasted something that was good and learned that we brewed it (me and my brother), they have since had a much more inviting tone towards craft and home brews. So overall, it wasnt just a drink for the reception, but a bridge to good beer.

    • May 17, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      As a beer evangelist, occasions where other non-beer-geeks are drinking your stuff are an important chance to get them to understand what good beer is. The fact that it was also your wedding amps that up a bit, I’d bet. I wouldn’t even be thinking about the ceremony – just the beer!

      • May 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

        yeah, my hours old wife got mad when i ran over to fix the keg issue. haha. we had a great time. 15 gallons of brew (Oktoberfest ale and wheat) were gone, and had some friends not remember anything after 8pm. we had a great time

  7. smarks2327
    May 17, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    The beers for my wedding. I did 4; Zombie Dust Clone, Imperial Saison, Kolsch, and Bourbon, Chocolate, Coffee RIS. 3 of the 4 recipes I had never made, all turned out great.

    • May 17, 2012 at 11:43 am #

      It takes some stones to brew beers that you’ve never made for a big occasion like that. It’s like cooking something entirely new for a dinner party full of foodies – high risk/high reward.

  8. Sara B
    May 17, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    My fiance and I developed a “Wedding Wheat”, a pretty straight (yet tasty) Belgian wheat that we’ve now brewed for 2 different friends’ weddings. I make a pretty sign describing the beer so that folks know what it is and that you can dispense it yourself from the keg. The wedding wheat, plus a maibock, an IPA, and something else are on the menu for our wedding.

    • May 17, 2012 at 11:45 am #

      Sounds like a nice line up. It’s important to brew something for everyone and also make sure you enjoy all the styles as well.

  9. Troy LaBair
    May 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    For my wedding I brewed a clone of Fullers ESB being me and my wife meat in London England

    • May 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

      I was right there with you until “wife meat” Troy.

      Honeypie, yes. Sugarcakes, okay. Wife meat, WTF? 🙂

  10. Kenneth
    May 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    I brewed an English style barleywine for the birth of my son. I bottled it in mostly 12oz bottles but bottled a couple on the 750ml Dogfish bottles. Then I sealed the tops with wax for show. The 12oz bottles are for me to have on his birthdays and the 750s will be a gift on his 21st. I don’t think it will be very drinkable by then or the carbonation will last, but I thought it would be something fun and interesting to do.

    • Bill
      May 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

      What’s the percentage on it? I’ve had as old as a 19 year barleywine and it was fantastic. Rich dried fruit and port wine characteristics.

      • Kenneth
        May 18, 2012 at 8:29 am #

        It fermented out at about 11%. I don’t recall of the top of my head what the readings were. So it should hold up over time. It will be interesting to see how it changes over the years. I had one fairly fresh to try out and I could tell it needed a little age on it. I have 3 more months until I have the next one. This really teaches a lesson in patience!

        • Bill
          May 18, 2012 at 9:20 am #

          Patience is right! But that should age quite well. George Gale’s Prize Old Ale ages very well and it’s a “mere” 9% ABV. You should keep notes from year to year, almost like a baby book but for the beer. You could also compare the beer’s maturity from year to year with your kid’s. Then bind it and give it to him with the beer on his 21st. THAT would be one hell of a gift!

        • Bill
          May 18, 2012 at 9:22 am #

          Year 16: This beer is maturing quite well. Very mellow and sweet, with little hint of bitterness to speak of. Can’t say the same about the boy…


  11. May 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    So far I have done 2 special occasion beers. One is currently fermenting away. Its a French/Belgian Saison for my buddies Rehearsal dinner/BBQ. Hes big into those yeasty spicy treats, so what better then a 5 gallon keg of goodness.

    Second beer I made was a Rum-Barrel aged milk stout for the birth of my son. My “plan” is to make a beer for every years birthday and when he turns 21 we will have a beer tasting for him, family and his buddies. Lets hope it works out haha

  12. May 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    I’m not sure this “event” falls in line with the type of thing you’re looking for but my first batch (Honey Badger IPA – a Belgian Black West Coast IPA) was brewed under the watchful eye and notebook of New Jersey Magazine. They did a feature on the entire brewing process from brew day through to the “Pouring Party” so there was a bit of pressure on me knowing a massive (or small) failure would be available on magazine racks throughout NJ and greater NY. Fortunately/luckily it came out really well so the public embarrassment was mitigated.


    • Bill
      May 17, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

      That’s a ballsy move for your first batch!

      • May 18, 2012 at 10:34 am #

        Few people (least of all me) have ever accused me of possessing excessive amounts of common sense. Anyway, I designed entertaining labels for thebottles so I knew I was covered in the humor category.

  13. ScottG
    May 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    As a homebrew noob, the most important batch I’ve brewed is the first one that came out well after some atrocious failures. It’s convinced me I can actually do this and really want to do so again. And will, once I’m back in the US for good. Stupid Army.
    It’s not special in that I’m giving to others for an important life event, but it justified the time and money I put into it both the successful batch and the abominations previously.

  14. Bill
    May 17, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    Competitions. I know what I want to make going into it, so when brew day comes I’m a bit hypersensitive to every little hiccup or bump. It’s not as bad when you’re submitting an open entry (if the IPA comes out weak, sneak it in as a pale) but for contests with specific entries requiring specific ingredients and resulting characteristics, it can get a bit stressful.

  15. November 5, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Definitely the 4 beers I brewed for my own wedding reception a few years ago!

    I served a hoppy pilsner (after Sam Adams Noble Pils), a hoppy amber, a dunkelweizen (I used to live in Germany and love this style), and a chocolate stout.

    Last summer my best friend asked me to brew a couple batches for his wedding – and to make them strong. So I brewed a 8.8% ABV hoppy amber ale and a 7.7% ABV double IPA.

    The best part was seeing the bud light drinkers not only enjoy the beers, but how hard it hit them, lol.

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