When we offer a homebrew to someone who hasn’t tried one of ours before, we usually get a suspicious reaction from them. ‘Umm, no thanks, I tried some homebrew once, it was horrible’ or ‘it was so potent I was sick for a week’ or ‘how do you know it is safe?’.
We have to assure them repeatedly that our homebrew is safe, it won’t poison them, and more importantly, tastes fantastic. We find the best way to get them to try some is we pour two small glasses, just a taste for them, and one for us. We assure them that if they like it, we’ll top up the glass, and if they don’t, they can pour it out, no problem. We drink first, and describe what we taste (and for our wines, it’s usually something like ‘incredibly sweet, rich plummy flavour, clean, fresh finish, syrupy mouthfeel, with slight piney aftertaste’) and then they go ‘oh alright, I’ll give it a go’. They take a deep breath, have a small sip, then another, bigger sip, and their face lights up. “Actually, this is really good!” they say, and we grin, not offended at the surprise in their voice. They push their glass forward for a top up, then ask what other wines we make. That’s it, they are now converted to home brew fruit wines. We can see them trying to figure out how to politely ask if they can take the partially drunk bottles home with them. Yes, home brew can be that good.
We have to warn them that while it goes down easy, it is potent, more so than they may be used to, and we push some non-alcoholic beverages their way, some food, and politely enquire as to who is driving. Lets face it, home brews are usually stronger than the average wine, and if they are yummy, people knock them back like soft drink. Our neighbours complained about how sick they felt the next day, remembering only the home brew and forgetting the other wines, beers and bourbon that went down their necks before, during, and after. I think it was more a matter of quantity than quality that night. It was great fun, but it had a price. They still drink our brews, so they clearly are forgiving (or forgetting, more likely).
To reduce the number of suspicious people out there, we recommend sharing ONLY your successes with the uninitiated (the drinkers), and the failures with those in the know (your other brewer mates) or yourself. It’s OK for you to drink a yucky brew if you made it – it’s a good learning experience, call it negative reinforcement – but don’t inflict it on your non-brewing friends. If you do, they won’t help you drink the good ones when you’ve perfected your technique.