While some may scoff at the idea of blending two different beers, you shouldn’t hesitate to experiment by mixing different brews. Blending homebrew beers can help reign in a beer that is out of balance or help you discover a new creation.
Many commercial breweries blend different batches of the same beer to make sure they have a consistent product. At Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard, North Carolina, they will typically blend the wort from four mashes and boils into a single fermentation tank, then blend different tanks to make sure the final product is “in spec” – within a small range of quality parameters that they consider appropriate for whatever beer they’re producing.
You can do the same thing on the homebrew level. The blending homebrew beers can be done during the secondary fermentation stage or in the glass.
Blending homebrew beers during secondary fermentation and conditioning
Though you may not feel the need to do this very often, you may occasionally want to combine two similar batches into one beer. Say for example you brew two batches of pale ale, but one was slightly under-hopped and one was darker than the other. For consistency sake, you can blend the two together to balance them out.
I would recommend doing this at either the secondary fermentation stage or in the keg. All you have to do is siphon half (or whatever ratio you deem fit) of one batch into a fermenter, barrel, or keg, then siphon the other on top of it. You may wish to take small samples of each beer and experiment with different ratios. Is 50:50 what you’re going for? 80:20? Just be sure to practice good cleaning and sanitation technique so you don’t risk contaminating your brews!
Also, take care not to introduce air at this stage. Oxidation can cause your beer to go stale or develop papery, cardboard-like off flavors.
Blending homebrew beers in the glass
At a homebrew club meeting last week, we tried two rauchbiers made by two different brewers. Both were great, but one had a slightly better color, and the other had just a touch more smoke flavor than the other. If I had those two beers at home, I would have no problem blending them together in my beer glass to get the best of both beers.
You can also try blending homebrew beers to come up with something new. Here’s a small list of beer blends that you might want to try:
- Use a pale ale to tame an overly alcoholic imperial stout.
- Blend a brown ale and a stout to make a porter.
- Added two much pumpkin to that pumpkin beer? Don’t dump it! Blend it with a pale ale, brown ale, porter, or other ale to dilute the pumpkin flavor.
- Ever had a Black and Tan? That’s a blend of pale lager and stout (often Harp and Guinness).
- Try mixing a fruit beer with a witbier or hefewezien.
It’s OK to experiment with your homebrew! Blending homebrew beers might help you discover your next favorite creation.
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.