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Oct 7, 2010 11:07 AM

Homebrewing Ruined My Love of Smithwicks

Before the man of the house and I started home-brewing, we considered ourselves fairly discriminating beer drinkers but could always find something at a restaurant or bar to satisfy. Then we started home-brewing. Now Smithwicks, Sam Adams' Summer Ale, and others that we had previously enjoyed just don't do it for us anymore.

For example - I still like some of Sam Adam's seasonals - like their black lager and imperial stout. Leinenkugel is almost universally disappointing. Killians and Shinerbock fell by the wayside.

Some breweries we still love: Dogfish Head, Bell's and Weyerbacher are our most common go-to's. Guinness, when properly poured from a nitrogen tap, is still great (especially when it's cold and rainy out and you have shepherd's pie in front of you and football on the TV).

Most of the fun beers we've found through the "make your own six packs" at Total Wine and elsewhere have also survived home-brewing - like Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout, Old Rasputin, good Belgian beers, etc.

Any other home-brewers with similar stories of beers they no longer appreciate or appreciate more after making their own?

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  1. Yes! Old Speckled Hen. I used to really like it in the can but then I started making a clone recipe I found on a popular homebrewing website. I find the clone is vastly superior to the product in the stores.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Frids

      We had the same thing happen with Fat Tire! It's still pretty good on tap, but everyone agreed that the clone recipe we made was much better.

    2. i started drinking craft beer in 1994 in memphis, tn. i drank craft until i moved back to mississippi in 2000. with our archaic beer laws, craft beer is non-existant beyond sam adams boston lager, sierra nevada pale ale and a couple others....

      a buddy (one of my tenants at the time) of mine invited me over for a "good beer" and after several invites i obliged. my re-introduction to craft was rochefort 10. needless to say, i jumped in with both feet, driving to pensacola and new orleans to get my craft fix. after about a year i began to homebrew and i've been doing it ever since.

      if i can't drink craft, i'd rather have water.

      3 Replies
      1. re: deepsouth

        Depending on how you define "craft," I tend to agree with you. If the only things on tap are Yuengling, Sam's Boston Lager, Killians, etc....I'm probably drinking water. :)

        1. re: Aravisea

          hahaha. funny you say that. we don't even get yuengling and sam adams boston lager is considered craft here. we have that, the sa wheat and oktoberfest. our only micro, lazy magnolia beers (three bottled) and sierra nevada porter and pale ale.

          when you look up archaic beer laws, you will see a picture of the state of mississippi.

          it's still illegal to homebrew here, although you would think our governor would know.... here is his statement for the first "mississippi craft beer week"

          WHEREAS, Mississippi Craft Beer week is a celebration of the craft brewing heritage and rapidly growing craft beer culture; and

          WHEREAS, a multitude of events around the state combine the creativity, energy and southern hospitality of our local food & beverage artisans with the entrepreneurial spirit of supporting small businesses; and

          WHEREAS, the craft brewing industry is defined by three distinct producers: brewpubs, microbreweries, and regional craft breweries, and let us not forget our homebrewing enthusiasts. Increased support of craft brewing is important to fostering growth of an American industry that creates jobs, greatly benefits the economy, and brings accolades to American small businesses; and

          WHEREAS, this proclamation would also like to recognize the efforts of Mississippi's only brewery, Lazy Magnolia, for their tireless efforts to create and promote craft beer culture in the state; and

          WHEREAS, we champion the message of responsible enjoyment of craft beer, the beverage of moderation, as the makers of these beers produce libations of substance and soul that are sincere and authentic, and the enjoyment of them is about savoring the qualities including flavor, aroma, body and mouthfeel, while practicing responsible appreciation; and

          NOW, THEREFORE, I, Haley Barbour, Governor of the State of Mississippi, hereby proclaim the week of July 24-31 2010, as Mississippi Craft Beer Week in the State of Mississippi.

          IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi to be affixed.

          DONE in the City of Jackson, on the twelfth day of July in the year of our Lord, two thousand and ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the two hundred and thirty-fifth.


          in this very statement, he recognizes us illegal homebrewers.....


          1. re: deepsouth

            That's too funny....I guess the state of Mississippi doesn't care much about enforcing that particular rule?

            If I'm remembering correctly, there are regulations in VA & MD that limit home-brewing and home wine-making to a certain number of gallons per person per year. Not sure how they'd enforce that one either....

      2. Homebrewing really broadens your horizons while further refining your tastes.
        Would you have rather never started, and remain a fan of Smithwicks?

        I don't think so.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Tripeler

          Definitely not. It's for that very reason that I have been so fascinated by trying former favorites. I'm not mourning beers that don't meet the raised standards!

        2. I agree that over the years I've been surprised at the quality of homebrewing by friends. These beers though are almost always ales. Tasty pale ales, IPAs, saisons, stouts, etc but rarely lager. So homebrewing hasn't (not yet anyway) made me forget about German lagers such doppelbock, bock, rauchbier, swartzbier, and my favorite pilsner. But you never know.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Chinon00

            Much of the San Diego craft brewing industry started with home brewers expanding their output. In fact, several of the "bigger" craft brewers now have home brewer competitions and brew "guest" beers created by home brewers, recognizing homebrewing as a source of innovation in brewing.

            1. re: Chinon00

              I think the reason you're more likely to have ales over lagers is because ales are easier to brew and they don't take as long. Typical lagering takes several months at low temperatures and that isn't easily done unless you have the equipment or live in a cool area.

              1. re: HeBrew

                Sure so there is definitely still a place for craft when considering this.

                1. re: Chinon00

                  Of course, there are also some ales (especially strong examples) that benefit greatly from a long aging period...something that many homebrewers -and even 'craft' brewers- seem to bypass.
                  For homebrewers, it's usually just impatience...for the 'crafties' it's possibly due to the economics of tying up tank space??

            2. I can't really say that homebrewing has ruined my love of my short list of favorite commercial beers; for my first 20 years of homebrewing I was still buying and trying a lot of commercial beers.
              But in the past 19 years I have bought a LOT less commercial beer, especially the so called 'craft' brews (a term whose meaning is starting to become less relevant among beer afficianados anyway). I do think however that brewing at home has definitely enhanced my appreciation of a select few commercial beers, even if the need to purchase them has dramatically decreased.

              To me brewing is definitely worth the two or three days a month I dedicate to it; the reward is a good supply of beer of the types I like, usually at 1/8th to 1/10th the cost, and of equal or better quality as compared to their commercial equivalents. I started because I enjoyed the challenge and the process, but the huge savings sure is a nice bonus these days.