Drunken Speculation

Can you make a dud beer good?

corona berries plungerA few weeks ago, Queen City Drinks wrote a post about Randall the Enamel Animal Jr, a glorified coffee plunger from Dogfish Head in the States. The basic premise involves taking something tasty – fruit, hops, etc – and infusing beer in the randall to create something new. I read it and got ammo to buy me a coffee plunger. Glen from Beer is Your Friend must have had the same idea and did an entire series of infused beers this week.

The goal of these experiments is to make a beer better than it is in its original form. A more “conventional” approach is to dry hop quality beers to give them an edge. I don’t do conventional and, like Glen, I’m more interested in pushing past the mere experimental aim in search of the holy grail: getting rid of the shitty beers I have in a box in my garage by making them drinkable.

My method is to take a terrible beer out of the shit beer box and infuse it with an adjunct I have lying around the house. The two ingredients will sit in the coffee plunger for ten minutes in the fridge and we’ll see what eventuates.

Coors Light avec houblon Galaxie

coors hops plunger

Why do you have this beer? It’s an American industrial beer.

And the adjunct? I dry hopped my homebrew Imperial IPA with Galaxy hops and the keg ran out today.

Tasting notes

  • Mild Galaxy aroma mixed with typical Coors
  • Most of the head has disappeared but otherwise appears unaffected
  • Somehow, it tastes worse than just a plain Coors. It’s more watered down and doesn’t have any Galaxy taste

Overall rating – 1 out of 5

Great Northern avec limons

great northern lemon plunger

Why do you have this beer? I wrote a piece about the brewery for SEQBeers.

And the adjunct? An old half a lemon was lying in the fridge. I also added a dash of Solo to make it a proper shandy.

Tasting notes

  • The lemon aroma covers up the beer’s horrible natural scent
  • A splash of sugary lemonade and a bit a tang from the lemons proper covers up this hogwash of a beer
  • Considering this is probably the worst beer in Australia, this is an impressive improvement

Overall rating – 3 out of 5

Corona Extra avec baies épuisé

corona berried up

Why do you have this beer? It’s an North American industrial lager.

And the adjunct? I’m making a mixed berry melomel and I racked it off the berries today.

Tasting notes

  • I had to give this a bit of stir to get the berries up in there, so there’s not a lot of carbonation left
  • Nice raspberry aroma and now it’s gone a bit pink and has floaty bits in it
  • Adds a bit of sweetness but there’s not a lot of flavour left in the berries. Might be better with fresh berries because I’m still getting some shitty Corona taste in there

Overall rating – 2 out of 5

XXXX Summer Bright avec cafe au lait

summer bright coffee

Why do you have this beer? I wrote a piece about the brewery for SEQBeers.

And the adjunct? When I got my espresso machine, my parents gave me a box of cafe au lait capsules. I don’t really like that particular flavour so they’ve been sitting in the cupboard ever since.

Tasting notes

  • I wasn’t expecting this to turn into a milky coffee…
  • Smells and looks just like an iced flat white
  • Despite the fact that milk and beer should never mix, this basically just tastes like the cafe au lait would normally but I don’t want to drink a full bottle’s worth
  • It’s a bit gritty still (the powder didn’t dissolve properly) and tastes a bit like the milk powder that puts me off the capsule in the first place

Overall rating – 2 out of 5

Bridge Road Brewers Celtic Red Ale avec moutard

bridge road celtic mustard

Why do you have this beer? I seem to get it a lot in my Posse deliveries but I’ve never liked this style of beer.

And the adjunct? It’s mustard. Everyone has a bottle somewhere in their pantry.

Tasting notes

  • Looks the same with some yellow bits floating around
  • Smells the same with just a hint of mustard
  • Taste? No, just no. Think drinking olive brine.

Overall rating – 0 out of 5

To answer the original question, yes, you can made a dud beer better. “Good” might be a stretch and of course it’s with the caveat that you have to overload the beer with sugary adjunct so that it tastes nothing like the original. In reality, it’s a waste.

You are far better off spending your time, money and effort on just buying a good beer in the first instance. I might come back and see if there’s any value in trying to make a good beer better – think a porter with more coffee or a Cascade pale ale with an Amarillo twist – but it’ll take my palate a few weeks to recover from the mustard red ale.


  1. Saw a Randall for the first time at the Wig and Pen in Canberra in July 2011. Not sure if the Randall is still there, but at the time I had a 7% Olde Spiced Ale that was passed through a Randall full of dark fruit and spice. Remember it being quite good.

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