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How would you describe "bad beer"?

I finally started letting others try my beer I have been making over the past few months and have been receiving positive feedback with the worst being “it’s not bad but it’s not for me” and this made me wonder what would make a bad beer.
Obviously taste is very subjective so what one person may not like another person will absolutely love but there has to be some genuine bad beer in the world. Has anyone experienced a “bad beer” and what was it like?

Aside from the obvious flawed beers - or beers gone bad - I’d say a bad beer is one that is unbalanced. Not enough bitterness to counter the malt sweetness, or too much bitterness so it is hard to drink. Very strong flavors from some additive that takes over the entire character of the beer, or phenolics from high temperature fermentation.

Basically, if you can’t drink a pint at a sitting and think about having a second, it might qualify as a bad beer. Or just as one that is outside your taste preferences. As you say, it is highly subjective.

I have had a few bad beers some were sour not in a good way, I’ve had some that tasted like cough syrup, others i just didn’t like they made me want to spit them out. Anything that = a drain pour

http://www.bjcp.org/docs/Beer_faults.pdf

You also could be running into taste preferences that are a result of a lifetime of consuming flavorless lager that only tastes good when its pulled from an ice bath.

Honestly, a lot of people just want to drink something that is ice cold on a hot day, and loosely resembles beer or has a slight ‘beer’ flavor, such as BMC Light. I’ve honestly given one of my best to some of these people, a 35-40 point beer, and they have kind of given me a forced smile and a 'Yeah, that’s pretty good, but its not really what I like".

Go crack a Rolling Rock and you will have your definition of “Bad Beer”!

Other homebrewers will give me a beer to try and I will taste it and I can tell that it’s a well-made beer but it may just not be for me. I am not a hefe fan but a lot of the locals I know like to make them. I will try them because I want to see what these guys have done and I can tell that they have hit the ball out of the park with what they’re trying to do… it’s just not my beer. Being a homebrewer for 15 years allows that to happen but someone (as mentioned) who is used to Bud Light is going to have an enormously hard time with a Citra & Amarillo Pale Ale. Also as mentioned, bad beers lack balance or have flavors (esters, phenols) that are not supposed to be there. Bad water, an overuse of salt additions, underattenuated beer, a beer that fermented far too warm, an overly-complex recipe, a beer that has been exposed to air (oxidized) or to light (skunky) and obviously a beer that is infected. Once you get past the idea that a perfectly-made beer may not please the masses, you still have a lot of “bad beer” descriptors.

To me a ‘bad beer’ is, other than spoilage or contamination issues, one that is out of balance (though that is a subjective thing).
Also (to me anyway) it might be a beer that is served too young (that’s 90% of brewpub product AFAIC).

The current trend of loading up a beer with too much of everything is one that’s a bit of a turnoff for me as well. Again, balance is the real key here. Don’t get me wrong…I like big beers, but so much of the stuff coming out lately just seems like a contest of how ‘over the top’ the brewer can go. Most of those (again, to me) don’t really display any real brewing skill.
Many of them just seem amateurish.

Of course in the end It’ll be different things to different people.
An easier question would be “how would you describe good beer?”
The best answer is “any beer one likes is a good beer”.
After all, as the old saying goes: “one man’s poison is another man’s nectar.”

The worst fault in my opinion comes from a too-warm ferment where the beer is really fruity and hot from fusels and higher alcohols.

I think it’s safe to say that if your beer tastes like poopy diapers or turpentine or band-aids, it’s a bad beer. I’ve tasted many examples like these where it was simply impossible to drink more than one sip, where like even if it was the end of the world and I had nothing to drink I still wouldn’t drink it.

I made a bad beer recently. Or, I should say I recently tasted a bad beer that I had been aging for months. I was aiming for a Belgian dark strong, but went way overboard on the specialty grains in hopes of making a malt-monster.

OG=1.115 FG=1.047

Way too many unfermentables. End product is sticky, with an overpowering taste that just isn’t pleasant in any way. I’ve tried it twice, drank maybe 1/5 of a bottle, and dumped the rest both times. Lucky me it was a 2.5 gallon batch, so only one case to dump instead of two.

Otherwise, I’d say any spice beer with too much spice is pretty bad. Everybody raves about Southern Tier’s Pumking, but the one I tried was just way too much. The spices were borderline bitter and very astringent. Finishing the beer became a chore, done only because the bombers cost so damn much. Afterward, I had a sore throat from the excess spice.

As you can see from the responses above, the answer depends on the taster’s perspective:

  • Style adherence - a beer might that does not conform to the style guidelines
  • Technical flaws - e.g., strong cooked corn flavor in a light beer that was not boiled properly
  • Personal preference - A BMC drinker who just doesn’t want to branch out, a seasoned craft beer fan who just doesn’t like sours or who thinks a pale ale is too cloying from excessive crystal malts

I tend to be very critical of the beers that I brew, because I know what I’m trying to achieve. I’ve brewed beers what I was unhappy with simply because they did not turn out like I had envisioned, but friends really liked them.

[quote=“The Professor”]To me a ‘bad beer’ is, other than spoilage or contamination issues, one that is out of balance (though that is a subjective thing).
Also (to me anyway) it might be a beer that is served too young (that’s 90% of brewpub product AFAIC).

The current trend of loading up a beer with too much of everything is one that’s a bit of a turnoff for me as well. Again, balance is the real key here. Don’t get me wrong…I like big beers, but so much of the stuff coming out lately just seems like a contest of how ‘over the top’ the brewer can go. Most of those (again, to me) don’t really display any real brewing skill.
Many of them just seem amateurish.

Of course in the end It’ll be different things to different people.
An easier question would be “how would you describe good beer?”
The best answer is “any beer one likes is a good beer”.
After all, as the old saying goes: “one man’s poison is another man’s nectar.”[/quote]
Agree here. This probably deserves its own thread but some of this BS that some breweries are producing is over the top. They seem to just be one-upping each other and probably to the detriment of the beer itself. None of this is surprising coming from me because I enjoy balanced beers that shine in their simplicity but also in their power to keep you going back for another sip and eventually another glass. But the same could be said of some of these over-the-top beers that are all the rage. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would call those beers “great”.

I have found that beers that come with a predominately red and white label - sometimes blue and white - and something about “Bud” are a bad beer. :wink:

But seriously, “bad beer” can be a subjective topic. I say if it tastes bad it’s a bad beer. If it’s a beer of a particular style that I don’t like (and try to imagine the surprise I experienced when I discovered there were styles of beer that I didn’t/don’t like) I won’t say that it’s bad. But I won’t drink it.

Flaccid. I like a large number of styles. It doesn’t need to be bold or hoppy. A well made lager or pilsner is terrific. But I am bored by uninteresting, bland or flaccid beers. I would prefer to pass on the beer than drink something boring.

But that’s a problem because my Coors Light-drinking friends, family or neighbors might try one of my hoppy pale ales (perfectly made, I might add :wink: ) and say it “tastes bad”. I don’t care for Hefes or Belgians and I truly think they “taste bad” but that doesn’t mean they’re bad beers… it just means that I don’t like them.

But that’s a problem because my Coors Light-drinking friends, family or neighbors might try one of my hoppy pale ales (perfectly made, I might add :wink: ) and say it “tastes bad”. I don’t care for Hefes or Belgians and I truly think they “taste bad” but that doesn’t mean they’re bad beers… it just means that I don’t like them.[/quote]

That hits the nail on the head! Before you give one of your beers to a friend for a taste test, first ask them: “What kind of beer do you like?” and “What kind of beer don’t you like”. If you give them their favorite style of beer and they don’t like it…well maybe it is bad. But if it’s a style they don’t like, and they don’t like your beer…you really don’t know if it’s the beer or them.

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