Improve Your Homebrew with The Beer Clinic

by Billy Broas



Ever wish you had a coach to help improve your homebrew? Better yet, someone you could call on at any time and who would provide truly useful feedback?

Enter Marty Nachel and The Beer Clinic.

BillyBrew readers may recognize Marty from his beer bucket list picks. His list of beer accolades goes on and on, from writing Beer and Homebrewing for Dummies, to judging the Great American Beer Festival and the Sam Adams Longshot Competition. Did I mention he’s been a BJCP judge since 1986?

In this video I sit down and chat with Marty about his new service, The Beer Clinic. The premise of The Beer Clinic is simple: you send him your homebrew and he helps you improve it.

We chat about Marty’s beer background, his new service, and then he judges MY beer!

I gotta say, having my beer evaluated right in front of me by a BJCP judge….it took some kahunas. Luckily I made out just fine. Marty told me what I did right and what I could improve on – exactly what I was looking for.

The scoresheet for my citra pale ale is below.

Billy's BJCP Pale Ale Scoresheet

Click to view large version

I know a lot of homebrewers submit their beer to competitions for the feedback and either a) the feedback sucks or b) they never get their beer to competitions in the first place because they are like me and always miss the deadlines.

So if you’re a new brewer or an advanced one who wants useful feedback on making better beer, you can send your beer to Marty at any time and know that he is going to help you out.

I want to thank Marty for the interview. He’s agreed to answer any questions down in the comments so feel free to ask.

Check out The Beer Clinic

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Sheppy March 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Hey Guys, thanks so much for sharing. What a fantastic idea. I’m a lot like you, Billy. I have never been organized enough to get my beers to competitions. I am going to have to give the Beer Clinic a try.

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Billy Broas March 2, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Hey Sheppy. Yea, having a beer judge on demand is pretty cool. And now that I’ve gotten some feedback I can do better in a competition if I decide to enter. Hope you try it!

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Andy March 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Hey Billy,

Extremely cool. I have Marty’s Homebrewing For Dummies book and have gleaned much from it (Thanks, Marty); very well written, and enjoyably so. I’ll likely send him a couple of my brews for evaluation. While mine wouldn’t meet BJCP guidelines (overly sweet for such strict “rules”), he may be able to diagnose an off-flavor here or there in past batches. Looking forward to his feedback!

Gotta say, you were pretty sleepy looking in that vid. Had a couple homebrews beforehand to “prepare” for being judged in front of everyone? haha.

Congrats on the fine rating you received. Way to go! It did take some brass to be judged so publicly. I’d say to add a pound or two of Caramel 80 to the next batch; that’ll help it out. And chop the hops in half, of course. :D

Yeah, I’m kidding–but that’s what I do with some of my beers (up the caramel malts and lessen the hops). But they don’t call me Cloyboy for nothing. :)

A

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Billy Broas March 2, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Haha I do look like crap in the video. Pretty sure I spent the night before at Wynkoop brewery which explains it. Didn’t help that I had the Skype window on my laptop so I was looking down the entire time.

Thanks for the congrats. Maybe I’ll add some more crystal but no way I’m chopping the hops in half!! That is just crazy talk ; )

Do send your beers to Marty. I’m sure he can give you tips but you should write “From Cloyboy” on the box so he’s prepared lol.

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Jorge - Brew Beer And Drink It March 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Awesome… love the idea of the beer clinic… In fact, I’m a bit jealous that he’ll get paid to drink other brewer’s beers :)….

Congrats on the Bronze…

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Billy Broas March 2, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Thanks Jorge. Yea he’s got a pretty sweet gig. If I only had the creds…

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Bob March 2, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Nice !!!!!

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Billy Broas March 2, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Why thank you!

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Steve Broas March 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Billy, Great interview,…however you looked like you just came out of a line-up. Wow. That must have been a late one the night before. As far as the rating. GREAT. I have all the confidence in you. Caught up with your Dad today. I have to plan to get out there again, only this time actually make it. Keep it up. I am spreading the Bill Brew name across VA.

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Billy Broas March 7, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Haha I actually felt great but yea I look awful. Next time I’m raising the monitor so I don’t look stoned. Hope to see you out here soon. You can try out this kegerator that my dad and I are making in a couple of weeks. Thanks for spreading the name!

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Roscoe March 14, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Good job on the CPA! Sounds great, do you give out the recipe, or is that a secret? Will you end up changing your recipe, and if so, how? Will you increase the mash temp?
Much better review than someone who will only drink bud light and says “yuck, it tastes like flowers!” lol

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Billy Broas March 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Hey Roscoe, yes, I’m taking this recipe to the grave…..just kidding. Although I’m not going to post it here, but keep your eye on The Homebrew Academy blog over the next week or so. I’ll post it there, and then will also attempt it again at higher mash temps while keeping everything else the same.

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Michael S March 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

Haha Billy, you look – how I felt during last years Burning Man festival.

I think this is a great and affordable way to get the kind of feedback required to optimize beer recipes and formulations, I will certainly need to forward Marty my new Saison and Belgian Strong Dark for feedback.

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Billy Broas March 16, 2011 at 9:15 pm

lol I should edit my face out of this whole thing. Yea, it is a great and affordable way to get useful feedback on your brew. I’m sure he’ll help you out with your Saison and Belgian. Thanks for the comment!

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Hoptomology December 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Hey Billy,
Another great video. It was great to learn about Marty’s Beer Clinic. I’m up here in Toronto, Canada, so I don’t know if I’m allowed to ship alcohol across border, but I’m going to look into it.
All the reasons you mentioned apply to me as well. I love to be able to get advice on how to better my beers. I’ve found that the malt body/ profile on my beers tend to be on the thinner side and I can’t seem to get it like the craft brews I enjoy so much. I recently jumped in on a bulk buy and got a bag of domestic 2 row, but have since learned and tasted the difference a Marris Otter or Vienna Malt can make. Is it possible that the domestic barley just doesn’t contribute the same feel as the others? or do you think perhaps it’s the recipe or technique? I will try to up my mash temps to see if that makes a difference as I usually mash around 152F for a pale Ale. Just did a Vanilla porter at 155F, but that’s like comparing apples to oranges, I’ll see if I can notice anything. Anyways, Appreciate the site, keep up the good work, and thanks for a great service Marty!
Cheers!
Jeff

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Billy Broas December 5, 2011 at 4:54 pm

If you can get your beer across the border then I would certainly send Marty some for review. He really is helpful at providing feedback.

You’ll get a different flavor between the Domestic 2-row and Marris Otter, but I don’t think it will necessarily give you a difference in body. For this beer I stick with American pale malt but in my English IPA I use Maris Otter. There’s always the decision between changing your process or changing your recipe. Raising the mash temp on this beer still hasn’t really given me the body I want, so I’m going to try a recipe adjustment. I heard Gordon Strong say recently that mash temps are overrated when it comes to body – I’m still undecided.

Thanks for the comment!

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Hoptomology December 7, 2011 at 9:18 am

Hey Billy, just had a thought. Started re-reading Brewing Better Beer again and as far as Gordon’s view on mash temps, I think he has the opinion that it does has an effect on body, but just as important is the water/grist ratio. But I was wondering, do you do a proper mashout? I haven’t been and have just started fly sparging when the sacc. rest is done, but I don’t think my mash has risen to the proper 168F to stop enzymatic activity. So I was thinking that as the temp drops, the enzymes keep working, possibly down in the lower sacc. range which would explain a more fermentable wort = thinner body. Anyways, just a thought, because he was talking about a proper mashout keeping the wort composition unchanged when you sparge, otherwise it will keep working and the temp. you targeted goes out the window. I’m going to try it on my next batch (a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone, which I can’t get up here!) to see if this helps.
Cheers,Jeff

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Billy Broas December 7, 2011 at 9:49 am

Hey Jeff. I do a mashout but it’s not a dedicated step in my process. Since I batch sparge, I simply heat the sparge water up enough to raise the mash to 168-170F. I think you’re right that if the temp drops it will create a more fermentable wort. I know there are times I’ve let the mash temp slip at the end at this has happened. Locking in the wort composition is something I’ve been working at.

Let me know how the mashout works for you. Oh, that comment I heard Gordon make was on this BeerSmith podcast if you want to give it a listen: http://www.beersmith.com/blog/2011/11/10/porter-beer-recipes-with-gordon-strong-beersmith-podcast-26/

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Hoptomology December 7, 2011 at 10:29 am

I will, and thanks for the link, I’ll check it out…
cheers!

Hoptomology December 6, 2011 at 6:40 am

Hmm, may still have to experiment a bit then. Thanks for the info.I’m going to re-read Gordon’s book again to see if anything will stand out…
Cheers!
Jeff

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