Sunday, November 25, 2012

Barley Wine 2012

One of my favorite styles of beer is Barley Wine. When the weather starts to get cold outside and the snow starts to fall what could be better than a beer full of malt, balanced with hops, and with a touch of warming alcohol. A beer that you can sip on for hours and explore the complexity of its malts, the depth of the hops, and the subtly of the yeast flavors from a long fermentation. As the beer warms through the course of the session the flavor and depth will rise from the glass.

When I first started brewing one of my goals was to brew a barley wine each year, some for drinking that year and some for aging for latter. So far I have brewed a barley wine each year but nothing else has gone according to plan. The first year I brewed a huge beer that was all extract, with an original gravity of 1.092. It was the 5th beer I had ever made and I went big. I added candi sugar, orange peel, and ground corriander. The beer finished at 1.025 and despite 60 IBUs was unbearably sweet and just really a mess. I was only able to drink a few of them and the rest slowly made its way down the sink. So ended my Barley Wine 2010.

The next year I was more prepared.  I had already brewed several all grain beers and had purchased a book on the style. I planned another huge beer with 15 pounds of grain and 85 IBUs. Despite terrible efficency (original gravity 1.080) the beer turned out awesome. I dry hopped it in a keg for two weeks (which I had just gotten) and got ready to bottle it. I did not know that I needed to vent the keg or that the beer had dropped in gravity. When I went to open the keg the beer exploded out of the keg and shot hops everywhere, by the time the beer stopped flowing out of the keg there was only 3 gallons of the original 5 left. To make matters worse the beer dropped in gravity even more in the bottle and all the bottles were overcarbonated- so I spent a night slowly bleeding of the carbonation from all the bottles. Despite all these problems the beer was truly delicious with a huge malt body and a very nice hop finish. The beer never made it past 2 months though because I quickly drank it down.

This year I plan to learn from my mistakes, I will be patient and let the beer finish all the way before I bottle it, I will vent a keg before I open it, and I will remake that beer from last year because it was damn tasty!

Here is the recipe that I am following for my 2012 Barley Wine.

13 pounds of Rahr- 2 row malt
1 pound of Caramel 90 L
1/2 pound of Caramel 120 L

1/2 pound of Special "B"

Mashed for 1 hour at 149 F

Boiled 3.5 hours

90 Minutes 2 oz Challenger 8.8 %
25 Minutes 0.5 oz Cascade 6.6 %
15 Minutes 1 oz Cascade 6.6 %
5 Minutes 1 oz Cascade 6.6 %
Dry Hopped 2 oz Cascade 6.6 %

Added a yeast cake of 1056 and fermented at 65 F

10/6 Final Gravity 1.009
ABV ~10.5%
Bottled 3.5 gallons with 65 grams table sugar.

Beer pours a cloudy amber brown color with wonderful red highlights. A rocky head of tan foam sits above the beer constantly being replenished from the nucleation site on the bottom of my snifter.

The aroma is dominated by the cascade hops, pine, some grapefruit notes.

Flavor is at first semi-sweet with a mix of malt, toffee, caramel. Then comes some raisin and dark sugar/rum, finished with a refreshing bitterness that cleans the pallate for the next sip.

The body is full and big.

Overall this beer turned out wonderful. It is still pretty green and will certainly develop well with age.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Labels for WIld Brewing

More exciting news!!!

This is what our labels are going to look like on our Wild Brewing Beers!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wild Brewing Update

Hello Everyone!

I have some exciting news. Our Oud Bruin is moving along nicely and will be ready to bottle any day now. The other three beers are not far behind and come February-March we will be planning our tasting events.

We also just updated our logo so that it would fit better on pint glasses and bottle openers for all of our awesome sponsors. Here is what it looks like!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Brettanomyces Beers,50,57&pageid=70
I had the opportunity last night to visit Coors and AC Golding to listen to a talk by the master off "All Brett Beers", Chad, who is the brewer/ owner at Crooked Stave, which specializes in all Brett beers. As it turns out AC Golden has a barrel aging program and I was able to taste a couple of the unique brews that they have done including a lambic called "Colorambic" and a golden ale that was soured and mixed with either blueberries or plums (the plum version was mighty taste).
After a few beers Chad gave a rather detailed talk about brewing with Brett and I wanted to share a few of the highlights that might help home brewers with their own Brett creations.

  1. Brett can eat/breakdown/modify glycol which in beer provides mouthfeel. This often causes all Brett beers to have a dry finish or not have a nice mouthfeel. To counteract this use oats, rye, or spelt. All of these grains add proteins that will help boost the mouthfeel.
  2. Brett may also by able to modify compounds contributed by spices and fruit, so these additions may add additional complexity to the beer.
  3. Brett works well in dark beers as it highlights coffee and chocolate flavors, however it can also lead to increased perception of astringency so don't go crazy.
  4. Brett has the ability to modify some phenolic compounds. This may be the cause of many of the off flavors associated with Brett (Goat, Band-Aid, Horse, Cat piss). If you can keep the precursors low in the base beer than they will not be present to be modified into off flavors (this is more for using Brett as a secondary yeast). (So take note that Belgian strains produce these initial compounds when using all Brett, may be why Orval has some of these flavors)
  5. When using Brett the first 10-14 days should see a very large drop in the gravity. However, after that times Brett slows down. It will take an additional 2-3 weeks for Brett to finish.
  6. Brett is excellent at scavenging oxygen. This means that you can but it in a barrel and not have to worry so much about oxidation as Brett will continue to use up all the available oxygen as it makes its way into the barrel.
  7. Fermentation should be conducted around 68-72 F.
  8. More oxygen in the initial wort will lead to more acetic acid, which is rather pleasant in low levels and is present in all beer. (Yes, even when using just Sacch. It is below threshold)
  9. Pitch in a quantity equal to what you would use for Ale yeast. 1 million cells/mL/degree plato.
  10. When bottling with Brett you may be able to calculate just how much more the gravity will drop and use that change to condition the beer.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pumpkin Ale Tasting

Tasting of my Pumpkin Ale

Beer pours a brilliant orange with a lacy white head, a gentle swirl quickly brings the head back to life. Tiny bubbles rise from the nucleation site at the bottom of the New Belgium globe glass.

Aroma really captures "pumpkin pie" if there was not the alcohol in the background it would pass as pumpkin pie itself.

The beer is very well balanced, not too malty and not too bitter. The finish is a mix of pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin. Spices are present but not overpowering.

Overall the beer just turned out perfect. The alcohol may be a little too present and maybe I should cut back a little bit. That being said I designed it to compete with the wine that is the typical offering at my Thanksgiving so maybe that is just fine!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Paradox Brewery

I got the opportunity today to go and check out Paradox Brewing, which is the latest addition to the every changing beerscape that is Colorado. Paradox is partnering with Colorado Mountain Brewery for the actual brewing side of the beer. The wort is then brought to Paradox's location in Woodland Park where it is aged in a number of wine barrels. I was able to pester the owners with questions as well as try some of their up coming beers.

I also had the opportunity to try several of their current offering, all of which are outstanding. In particular the American Pale Ale. I would highly recommend that if you are in the area you stop by a liquor store and try these beers!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Flanders Ale Tasting


I have been tasting my Flanders Red I brewed over 9 months ago on a 2 month basis. About 3 weeks ago I decided that I liked where it was and moved forward with bottling it. I added a bit more sugar than I would normally because the beer had set so long and was most likely completely flat. I also added 1/3 of a packet of dry yeast to ensure there would be something to carbonate the beer.

I tasted it for the first time and here are the results:

Appearance: Brilliant red brown, very clear. There is not much head but a lace forms around the glass. Small bubbles rise to the top of the glass.

Aroma: The aroma is sour with a huge amount of fruit aroma, somewhat cherry like.

Taste: Wonderful, a smooth lactic sourness with some hints of caramel. The beer is very clean of any off brett smells but is still complex in its finish.

Mouthfeel: The acid coats the mouth and makes it feel very smooth and silky.

Overall: This turned out great, the sourness is perfect and clean. I would like the carbonation to be higher but I think that it should develop as I let it sit in the bottle a bit longer. 

Pumpkin Ale

Roasted Pumpkin
For Thanksgiving this year I have decided to brew a Pumpkin Ale. I come from a large family that always has a large get together with all the fixings. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, side dishes, and at least 3 types of pies, all accompanied by wine. Unfortunately for me and a few others beer is not on the menu. I decided that the best way to bring a change to that is to come with my own beer. In keeping with the holiday spirit I made this festive themed beer.

4 Gallon Recipe

I started off by taking 2 pounds of organic canned pumpkin and spreading it out on a baking sheet, I then placed it in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

Grain Bill:

11 pounds of Rahr 2-row malt
1 pound caramel 20 L malt

Mashed in at 155 F for 1 hour and added the pumpkin to the mash inside of a small grain bag.

Boiled 60 minutes

60 minutes 1 oz of 6.4 % Fuggle
5 minutes 1 oz of 4 % Hallertau

Spices 1 tsp of Pupmkin Pie Spice

OG: 1.070

Pitched 1056 grown in a 2 litter starter

FG: 1.010

At bottling added ...
1/8 tsp Cinnimon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 oz vanilla

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Brewing At BierWerks

 I have been a home brewer for two years now. I have learned and read everything that I can about brewing beer. Through wild brewing I have even had the opportunity to make larger batches of beer for aging in barrels. However, yesterday I had a totally new experience. I spent the morning with James, the Head Brewer at BierWerks making a batch of their famous Helles.

Here is a little about my experience. I have heard many a time that 70% of the time in a brewery is spent cleaning. Between all the hoses and fermentors that I saw I can believe it. There is just so much going on and with sanitation being so important I got to see first hand how much work it is to keep everything clean. I also gained respect for the juggling act that brewers do as they move beer around the brewery and try to get it on tap while it is all still fresh. Altough I did little more than turn on some pipes and stir the mash it was a great learning experience and an exciting first time in a real brewery. I hope to join James on a few more batches of beer and get a better understanding of what it is like to be a brewer.

Yeast Culturing: Plates

One of the best ways to maintain a yeast culture is on an agar plate. This method can be used to keep yeast health in your fridge for about a month or two. It also happens to be very easy and this post will be about making your own plates to use at home.

First, what is an agar plate? Agar is a compound derived from sea weed. It has many applications in science but is basically like jello that sets up firmly at room temperature. It creates a nice substance for microbes to grow on. By adding compounds to agar it can be customized to create whatever type of a plate is needed. In this case we will be adding nutrients and sugar to the agar to make it suitable for growing yeast.
Finished Plates

   What you will need:
  1.    Petri Dishes
  2.    Agar
  3.    Dry Malt Extract
  4.    Yeast Nutrients (optional)
  5.    Sterile Loop or Toothpicks

Directions: YM Media

Food Grade Agar
  1.  Add 9 grams of food grade agar to 400 mL water.
  2. Add 1.5 grams of Dry Malt Extract
  3. Add 10 grams Table Sugar
  4. Add 1 gram of yeast nutrient (like servomyces)
  5. Bring the volume up to 500 mL
  6. Boil the mixture in a microwave, watch it carefully so that it does not boil over, when all the solids have dissolved allow it to cool (covered) to a temperature in which it is comfortable to be held
  7. Pout the agar mixture into the petri dishes. You only need enough to cover the bottom of the dish with about 1/8 of an inch of liquid. Pour quickly and place the lid immediately on the plate. Stack the plates on top of each other as they cool. This will help dissipate the moisture that likes to accumulate on the top of the lids.
  8. When you are ready, take a small sample of yeast on a loop or a sterile toothpick and smear it on the plate, you do not need much and you do not need to press hard. You do not want to break the surface of the agar. Place the plate upside down in a warm room and allow the yeast to grown 2 days. You will see white colonies form, these are the yeast.

Harvesting Yeast for the Bottle

One of the best parts about being a home brewer is that every time you brew you can try something different. You never have to worry about what someone else wants to drink or what would sell in a pub. If you want to go out on a limb and make something that is completly crazy that is totally acceptable. If you want to try to make a beer just like one that you had no one will say a thing. In fact, there are a number of home brewers that set out to recreate some of the more famous beers in the craft industry. These recreations are called cloned beers. If you are setting out to clone a beer one of the best skills that you can use is culturing yeast from a bottle of the beer you are trying to clone. This will ensure that you are using the correct strain of yeast. You can also use this method to create your own collection of yeast strains from some of your favorite beers.

In order to culture yeast from a bottle of beer you are going to need a couple of things...

Petri Dishes
Dry Malt Extract
An Alcohol Burner
A beer that was bottle conditioned
An inoculation loop

Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale Yeast
From here it is pretty easy, you first make your media plates by using Agar, water, and dry malt extract and pouring it into the petri dishes. I have a separate post with more details on how to go about this step.

Next you take the bottle of beer that contains the yeast you want and get it nice and cold in the fridge, if it has been moved at all recently you are going to want to give it some time to sit so that all the yeast will be at the bottom of the beer. Now you can take the beer and pass the neck and the top of the bottle through the flame of the alcohol burner. This will make sure that nothing is alive on the outside of the bottle.

Now open the bottle and poor the beer slowly into a glass. When you get to the point where some of the sediment is beginning to come off the bottom stop.

Now take your inoculation loop and run it through the flame until it is red hot, let it cool for about 20 seconds. Now place it is the bottom of the bottle and give it a good stir, you are trying to get some yeast onto the loop.

Once you have some yeast on the loop (you only need a very very small amount, as long as you moved it around a bit in the bottle you will be fine) streak it out on the plate. Now cover the plate and let the beer dry before turning the plate upside down and allowing the yeast a few days at room temp to grow.

When you are ready to use this yeast in a beer you should pick just a single colony from the plate and slowly grow it up in wort to make a yeast starter.

I have also had success with taking about 2 cups of yeast starter and pouring the dregs from a bottle of beer right into the starter. I then give it a couple days to grow and step the starter up to about a quart before using it to make beer. This it the technique that I used to brew my Tropic King Clone with great success.

Tropic King Clone

I have always really liked Saison. It is a style of beer that is so versatile. It was originally brewed for seasonal farm workers (Saison means season in French). The beer was meant to be refreshing and invigorating for farm laborers. For this reason it was both low in gravity and alcohol with a nice hoppiness that both helped preserve it and make it more refreshing. Over the years Saison has changed quite a bit. It is now often much higher in gravity and alcohol and can range quite a bit in flavor. One of the reasons that I like the style is that it has so much variety, not to mention a dry hoppy beer with an expressive yeast strain just sounds delicious!
I recently had the opportunity to try Tropic King, brewed by Funkwerks. This beer is an “Imperial Saison” with an ABV of 7.5 %. What makes the beer unique is the hops used. When you open up the bottle you are instantly transported to a tropical island as the aroma of passion fruit, grapefruit, and pineapple dance up out of the glass. The beer is incredible smooth and refreshing with hints of ginger, spice, pepper, and all those tropical fruits. Despite the high ABV you would can not smell or taste any alcohol which makes this a rather dangerous beer because it is so refreshing it just disappears from your glass.
For my most recent batch I decided to duplicate Tropic King. After a little poking around on the internet I found a recipe that claims it is from Gordon who works at the brewery. It looks about right and I decided to give it a try.
To start I bought a bottle of Tropic King and cultured the yeast from the bottle, growing it up to a quart starter.

OG: 1.065
FG: 1.007
SRM: 5.6
IBU 30
Grain Bill
Pale Malt 76%
Munich 10°L 16 %
Wheat Malt 5 %
Carapils 3 %
Mash Schedule
144 F 10 minutes
158 F 20 minutes
170 F 10 minutes
Rakau 12.7AA 60min 0.415oz/5gallon
Rakau 12.7AA 10min 0.484oz/5gallon
Opal 7.9AA 0min 0.668oz/5gallon
Rakau 12.7AA Dry hop 0.634oz/5gallon

Wyeast 3711 French Saison pitch at 65, ramp up to 75 over 48 hours
I followed the above recipe with only minor changes (Single Step Mash 1 hour at 155 F and using yeast from the bottle).
I hit my OG right on at 1.065 for a 3 gallon batch, I cooled the beer to 65 F and added my decanted yeast starter. To my surprise over the next 6 days I saw very little fermentation activity. There was certainly a kreusen but it was nothing special. When I went to move the beer to secondary and dry hop it I took a gravity reading, 1.007. The beer is currently being dry hopped and should be in the bottle ready to be tasted in a few weeks.

Tasting Notes:

The beer quickly carbonated in the bottle. It was ready a week after being bottled.

Appearance:  A light brown color with a thick haze. A strong head pours and is easily brought back to life with a swirl of the glass.

Aroma: Citrus fruits, pineapple, passion fruit, ginger, a little hint of green apple, no alcohol. 

Taste: The beer is all hops with a subtle malt backbone. I can taste pepper, ginger, and pineapple. The finish is a little bitter but quickly leaves the tongue with a clean refreshing bite. 

Mouthfeel: Medium and surprisingly full for the low final gravity.

Overall: This beer turned out awesome and was a big hit with my friends. I will certainly brew it again, just have to find away to continue to get a hold of the special hops.

Yeast Basics: Making a Starter

Making a yeast starter is a necessary skill for someone who wants to brew beer. A yeast starter takes either a small quantity of yeast and grows it to the volume needed to ferment a batch of beer or takes a culture of yeast that is not healthy enough to brew a batch of beer and produces new cells that will be able to ferment the beer, or both.

In order to create a yeast starter you will need a few basic things...
  1. Dry Malt Extract
  2. A sterile vessel 
  3. Tin Foil
  4. A stir plate (not essential)
  5. Yeast
  6. A sterile toothpick of inoculation loop
  7. Scale
  1. The first step is to make a wort that is about 1.030 gravity. This is easy to do using Dry Malt Extract, simply add 0.75 oz of Dry Malt Extract for every cup of water. 
  2.  Boil the wort 10 minutes to sanitize it
  3. Sanitize the inoculation loop and whatever you will be growing the yeast in
  4. Add the wort to the vessel and place tinfoil over the top, allow the wort to cool to 80 F
  5. Add the yeast, using sterile practices, to the wort (you will only need a very small amount of yeast, a few colonies will do)
    1. If you have a packet from Wyeast or a tube from White Labs you can add the whole tube

A few notes:
The size of your starter is important. If you are starting yeast from a plate then you need to start them in a small volume of starter (100 mL) before you step them up to something larger like 500 mL or a liter. If you are trying to boost your cell count from a packet of Wyeast or a vial of white labs you are going to want to go big, like 1.5 L. Otherwise the yeast are not going to be able to do much dividing.
You can either pitch the entire starter or you can do what I do, which is place it in the fridge the night before to help the yeast floculate. Then you can decant the fluid and add only the yeast to your wort.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sour Brown Ale (Oud Bruin)


Today was the 5th brew day for Wild Brewing and that means time for a new beer. We have already brewed a pale sour beer and a red sour beer. For our third sour we will be making a darker brown beer. A sour brown beer, or Oud Bruin (Dutch for Old Brown), will make a tasty treat in the years to come. This style of beer is meant for aging both in the barrel and in the bottle and will continue to mature for years to come. The recipe that we used is based on a malty brown ale/porter (It is a little on the dark side for a brown ale because of the roasted barley and chocolate malt). This should give the beer depth and complexity along with some complex sugars for the bacteria to chew on as it ages. Unlike our previous two beers our Oud Bruin will be fermented first with ale yeast and then Lactobacillus and Pediococcus will be added to the barrel (Our previous beers had bacteria and Brett added at the beginning of fermentation).

Here is the recipe...

15 gallons
OG: 1.074
IBU: 25

Belgian Pilsner: 72.5 %  (36 pounds)
CaraVienna: 10 % (5 pounds)
CaraMunich 10 % (5 pounds)
Caramel 60 2 % (1 pound)
Chocolate Malt 5 % (2.50 pounds)
Roasted Barley 0.5 % (0.25 pounds)

Mashed at 155 F for 1 hour
Batch Sparged 178 F for 30 minutes

1 hour boil with 2 oz Zeus Hops (15% AA)

Cooled beer and pitched White Labs California Ale Yeast

Everything went very well and our original gravity ended up being 1.076 which is right on target.

The plan is to brew the same beer next week and then add both Pediococcus and Lactobacillus to the beer while it is in the barrel and give it a year to age.

Finished Barrel 2

Yesterday we topped off our second barrel with a beautiful looking Flanders Red ale. The aroma from the beer as it went into the barrel was fruity with a little hint of caramel. I could not help but take a sample to taste and it is clear that this is already an awesome brew. It will now sit in the barrel for a year and will come out transformed into a sour ale. Here is a nice shot of the barrels.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Flanders Red Ale


Today we plan on finishing the second 15 gallon batch of our Flanders Red Ale. This style started my sour craze and I am very excited to attempt to reproduce it. The recipe that we are using is a little complex...

Vienna 50 %
Carahell 9 %
CaraVienna 9 %
Aromatic 9 %
Special "B" 3 %
Maize 20 %

OG: 1.050

12 IBUs of Hallertau boiled for 1 hour

Yeast: A repitch of Roselare (Wyeast 3763)

Allow for Primary fermentation 2 wees at 68F. Place in an French Oak Red Wine Barrel 1 year.

To make maters more complicated we are using a decoction mash of sorts for the Maize. We start by mashing all the grain at 120 F and taking off about 4 gallons of the thin mash and bringing it slowly to a boil with the maize mixed in. This should allow the rolled maize some time with the enzymes while still boiling it to gelatinize it. We then add this decoction back into the mash to bring the temp up to 148 F. We mash out as usual.

The first part of the brew day went very well, although out gravity was a little lower than we would have liked. That is easily corrected for when you are adding two worts together. We just need to overshot our gravity today and plan on making that happen with a larger amount of grain than we used last time.

We also started adding sponsor's names to out barrel. Here is a nice picture of what that looks like.

Noble Wood Burning Names Into a Barrel

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rochefort 10 Clone

My favorite beer is Rochefort 10. So much so that I hoard it in my fridge for special occasions. The mix of dark fruit, yeast esters, malt flavors, and alcohol combine into a beer that is beyond words. I decided to do my best to recreate this beer. If end up with anything even a tenth as tasty it will be well worth it.

Grain Bill
1 pound Table Sugar
1 pound Dark Candi Sugar
4.75 pounds Maris-Otter
4.75 pounds Pilsner Malt
1.25 pounds Honey Malt
1.5 pounds CaraMunich
0.5 pounds Special "B"
0.15 pounds Carafa # 1

Mashed with 2 quarts/pound at 154 F for 1 hour
Sparged with 3 gallons of water at 178 F

First Runnings 1.070

1/2 oz Goldings 60 minutes   6.6% AA
1/2 oz Goldings 45 minutes    6.6% AA
1/4 oz Fuggle 30 minutes       6.7% AA
1/4 oz Mt Hood 5 minutes     7.5% AA
3.5 grams crushed coriander 5 minutes

pitched White Labs 500 WLP

Total 4 gallons at 1.090 gravity

6/8 Gravity 1.022 moved to secondary

6/21 Bottled

7/20 Tasting

Appearance: Deep dark brown, maybe a little bit darker than the original. The carbonation is also a little low but hopefully will increase at least a little bit more. A nice lace does form around the rim.

Aroma: Dark malt, dark druits (plum and fig) and alcohol. My nose is a little off today and I can hardly smell anything so I am sure that I am not doing justice to any hidden aromas.

Taste: The beer is malty to start and moves into a nice dark plum before finishing with a bit of an alcohol bite. I can also taste molasses, sugar, rum, and dark fruits.

Overall: I am very pleased with how this beer turned out. I would like to get it a little bit lower for a final gravity and will aerate with an aeration stone the next time that I brew it. Other than that one item I think this turned out awesome. I will be entering it in the Colorado State Fair if I can manage to hold onto a couple of bottles (you have to enter 3 which is a little ridiculous).

8/30 Results from the Colorado State Fair:
Beer scored a 36/50 which is a ranking of excellent

Judges notes:

Aroma: (1) Dark malt, chocolate, coffee. Nice light spicy character, hint of grass hops clash a bit. (2) Malty sweetness, Dark Caramel, Hint of Alcohol, Bready, Nutty (3) Dried cherry estery maltyness-rich

Appearance: (1) Dark brown, good clarity, moderate head, missing huge rocky head for style. (2) Deep brown, clarity good for a beer this dark, head retention low but present (3) Black, opaque, no head retention

Flavor: (1) Rich and complex malt - toffee, raisin, chocolate, Good attenuation, balance on finis is malt forward but not cloying. Yeast character adds a nice spiciness and hint of fruit. (2) Malty-sweetness-moderately complex, but complexity could be higher - dark, toasty, caramel flavor. Might be a bit underattenuated, sweetness lingers to finish. (3) Full rich fruity maltyness, some complexity in grain bill.

Mouthfeel: (1) Rich and full bodied, a bit more attentuation would be more a classic belgian example, good creaminess mid palatte. (2) Medium body, good carbonation, some warming alcohol. (3) Warming, full body, easy to drink.

Overall Impression: (1) Really nice beer, has great malt complexity, the finish has a hint of harshness, but its not overwhelming. No flaws, well made, thanks! (2) Underattenuation is my big nit - Its not bad, but the malt profile is good and a dryer finish would bring it out more: try making a starter or using a couple of yeasts. (3) Very good, clean brew with some complexity in body, lacking carbonation but not a sig flaw.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

All Brett Brown Beer

Brettanomyces, many view it as the black sheep of the yeast family. It is often considered a contaminate or at best added to a beer to make it a little peculiar and unique. Few people give Brett the opportunity to hold the center stage. For those few that are willing to give Brett a shot I promise that you will not be disappointed.

A Pellicile which is normally associated with Brett
Now before I launch into this I want to make a couple of disclaimers....
1st this is more of an experiment than a beer. I used a couple of second runnings to make this beer so I do not have a set recipe that I can give for it. I used wort from both my Rochefort 10 and my Pirate Lager beers to make this creation. In both cases I boiled the second runnings down to a gravity of 1.040 and added hops to about 20 IBU.
2nd I do not have a normal strain of Brett. What I do have is Brett cultured from New Belgium and from Russian River. They are two separate strains that I pitch together in equal proportion.

Now that I have made my disclaimer I want to touch on another subject with Brett. In order for optimal growth and alcohol production Brett needs oxygen ( at least according to Yeast by White). I thought I would give this a shot and let Brett ferment without an air lock. In order to do this I simple covered the top of the fermenter with tin foil and let the Brett go.

Before you write this off as a ramble or a shotty experiment due to lack of controls, records, or what have you at least take a look at how the beer turned out. I want to make it clear that this beer does not have any of the nasty characteristics that are associated with Brett but instead turned out rather enjoyable. It also at no point formed a pellicile which is normally associated with Brett. In addition, the beer finished at 1.005, which is be no means ultra attenuative, another myth often associated with Brett.

Appearance-  A nice strong head on the beer, but not gushing. This goes to show that Brett does not always eat every sugar it can get and can be used as the only organism in a fermentation.

Aroma- Malt aromas are pretty strong. I do not detect very much of anything added by the brett except maybe some earth like aromas, similar to dirt that is wet.

Taste- Not much added by the brett, a little funky fruit aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- pretty middle of the road

Overall- I am very pleased with my Brett. I now know that it can ferment well in the presence of oxygen without the beer turning into an oxidized mess (but very little hops are in the beer which I am sure helps) I think from here I will design a beer that is meant to be fermented with just Brett.

Pirate Lager

One of the best parts about brewing at home is that you can make whatever you want. I mean anything. I decided that I wanted to make a Black Lager that is pirate themed. I had read somewhere that Guinness makes a special export stout for the Caribbean and since pirates lived in the Caribbean I would use that for my jumping off point. In order to spice the beer up a bit I also wanted to spike it with some black strap rum to try to give it a little more pirate feel.

This is what I came up with.

3.25 pounds Pale Malt
1.25 pounds Flaked Barley
0.25 pounds Black Patent Malt
0.25 pounds Acidulated Malt

Mashed at 150 F with 2 quarts/pounds and sparged at 178 F

Boiled 0.5 oz of Perle hops (as in the Black Pearl) for 60 minutes

Total volume was 3 gallons with an OG of 1.045

Pitched dry lager yeast

Bottled beer with rum to taste


Aroma- Malt predominates with a nice coffee and chocolate background. The aroma is very sweet if that is possible. There is also some roasted smells present.

Appearance- This beer is black with a wonderful fluffy white head that lasts.

Taste- Beer is very sweet, maybe should have tried to get the gravity a little lower before I bottled it. I also taste some toast and roasted coffee. Rum does not come through very well.

Mouthfeel- Nice and silky, coats the mouth well and goes down very smooth.

Overall- For a beer that is not trying to be anything other than itself I am rather please. It is a little too sweet but that is something that will be easy to fix the next time that I brew this beer.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

(Wild) Brew Day 2


In order to fill the 30 gallon barrels that we purchased we need to brew two 15 gallon batches of beer. This past Saturday we braved the 100 + degree heat in order to knock out the second patch of Pale Belgian Beer that would make up our first barrel.

We started the day by filling the first of our barrels with the batch from the previous week. After a quick rinse of the barrel with water we added the beer (which was now at 1.015 G down from 1.062). Using the slurry that was left behind in the fermentor we inoculated the second batch.

We also purchased a couple beers from Belgium to add to the barrel in the hope of capturing some unique Belgian bacteria in the process. Added to the barrel were dregs from Nostradamous, Oude Gueuze, and Supplication (not from Belgian but still aged with Pediococcus and Lactobacillus).
Getting Ready to Grind Grain

Tasty Pilsner Malt
The brew day went well other than a slightly lower gravity (1.054) than desired. This was mostly likely due to a larger sparge than the previous week in an attempt to get more beer out of the batch (18 gallons) which we succeeded in. The beer will be given a week in the primary fermentation vessel before it too is moved into the barrel.

Monday, June 18, 2012

First (Wild) Brew Day

I am happy to announce that Wild Brewing has brewed its fist batch of beer!

This past weekend a Pale Sour Ale was born. It will mature and grow for the next year as it ages in French oak red wine barrels. The brew day got off to a bit of a rocky start as Andrew worked to fix the mash tun and we made some last minute purchases at the Brew Hut. However, once we got rolling everything went well and we were able to hit all of our numbers.

Pilsner Malt 90%
Carahell 10%

OG 1.062
IBU 24

Single Infusion mash at 150 F with 2 quarts water per pound of malt
Batch sparged at 180 F

60 minute boil of Hallertau to 24 IBUs

Cooled and pitched 2 packets of Roselare grown 2 days in a 1 1/2 gallon starter and a jar of lactobacillus I had living in my fridge.

Fermenting at 68 F

Here are some pictures!

Mash Tun and Hot Water pot

Getting Ready to Clean 30 Gallon Barrel

Draining Wort from the Tun

Mash Tun Filled with 35 Pounds of Grain


Fermenters Being Filled

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wild Brewing Pale Sour Ale


The calm before the storm.

Tomorrow will be the first brew day for Wild Brewing. The plan is to brew a rather simple Pale Sour Ale. If everything goes perfectly 1 year from tomorrow a magnificent beer will finally be ready for drinking. We will be following a rather simple recipe of 90% pale malt and 10% carahell. The wort will be lightly hopped to 24 IBUs with 10 ounces of Halleratu hops.

Other than getting together the equipment the biggest challenge is getting enough yeast ready to ferment 30 gallons of beer. You would need to pitch at least 6 smack packs from wyeast to have enough microorganisms to bring the batch to completion. Instead of purchasing so many packages of yeast I have been using a stir plate and a 2 gallon fermentor to grow yeast. Hopefully by tomorrow afternoon I will have turned 2 packages of Roselare yeast into a slurry large enough for our beer. In the future we will be using the yeast cake from the previous fermentation for the following batch. I will also be adding some other cultures to the fermentor as I get them ready. They will include cultures from the dregs of a few Russian River beers, New Belgian beers, and some pure cultures of Brett and Lacto. The variety of bugs should help make the finished profile more complex. In addition, the cake will change over time as some species are better able to establish themselves. In order to help create balance I will be adding a new package of cultured Roselare each time to help ensure that everyone is getting a fair shot at helping make these beers great!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cooler to Mash Tun Conversion

Although we are ordering the majority of the equipment that we will be using for our Wild Brewing project we will also be constructing a few of the items that we need. Vital to the brewing processes is mashing the grains. The mash activates the enzymes in barley allowing them to break down complex sugars and starches into simple sugars that the yeast will be able to eat and turn into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

A mash tun is essentially a large insulated pot for making barley tea. The temperature inside the container needs to stay relatively stable which makes a cooler an ideal vessel to use (very little heat loss). Instead of buying a pre built mash tun I decided to take the more economical route and build one myself. Here is how it works in case anyone else ever wants to construct one.

What you need...

  1. A large cooler, the size is really up to you. You can fit at least 15 pounds of grain and the mash water into a ten gallon cooler. I am hoping to use this cooler to make 15-20 gallons of beer at a time, so I bought a 30 gallon cooler.
  2. Cooper pipe (the amount will vary based on how big the cooler is, I used 6 pieces of 1/2 inch pipe)
  3. 5 T push on connectors
  4. 4 90 degree elbow push on connectors
  5. A1/2 ball valve
  6. A 1/2 male to 3/4 barb plastic fixture
  7. A 1/2 male to 1/2 male connector
  8. A length of plastic tubing to fit onto the 3/4 barb
  9. A hack saw to cut the pipe
  10. Washers to seal the the outside and inside of the cooler with
  11. A shark bit connector to hook the 1/2 pipe to the 1/2 male to 1/2 male fitting

How to put it together....

  1. First I cut slits in the pipe about 1/3 of the way deep every 3/4 inches along the entire length of the pipe. The silts will face down and will work to filter the grain from the wort as it runs off
  2. I laid the pipe out to get a better idea of how many cuts I was going to need to make
  3. I made all of my cuts, making sure to measure
  4. Slip all the connectors onto the pipe and push them tightly together.
  5. Build the drain valve.
    1. I pushed the 1/2 male to 1/2 male connectors half into the wall of the cooler after taking out the previous drain.
    2. To the out side I added a washer and screwed on the ball valve adding the barb to the ball valve
    3. Next I screwed the shark bite connector to the 1/2 male to 1/2 male connector and added washers to make it seal tightly, and  then pushed it onto a piece of 1/2 copper pipe


It was about that easy! It took a little over and hour and a half to cut all the pipe and put it together. Total cost was 150$ which is a lot cheaper than trying to order something like this online!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Finding Barrels

Task number 1 is to gather the equipment that is need to start brewing. One of the most important items to find are some high quality used wine barrels. For a variety of reasons wine barrels make the perfect habitat for all the souring organisms that will turn otherwise plain beer into a wild ale.

Thankfully we were able to find used barrels of the correct size from Select Wine Barrels.

We purchased 2x 30 gallon barrels to start with but plan on buying at least 2 more when we get closer to having beer to put into them. For now we are still focused on purchasing grain, hops, yeast, and brewing equipment. Hopefully by the end of the week everything will be in the mail or will be available to pick up from out local brew store The Brew Hut where we looked at fermenters and other odds and ends last weekend.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Luanching Wild Brewing

Excellent News!

Wild Brewing was able to raise $6000 + dollars towards brewing a series of barrel aged beers!

I would first like to thank the donors that made this possible...

Rob Nash-Boulden, Tricia Jablon, James Lilliestierna, Ben Woodward, Keith Peetz, Dan Church, Jordan Verlare, juleslandis, Chris Bass, Kelsey Whitesell, Brian C. Natale, Greg Hoth, Amy Lassen, Erik Johnson, Gene Farnsworth, Brian G, Paul, Mac Crawford, James Zdrowski, Jesse Perlmutter, Mike, Julya Bridgewater, Brandy Renee. Rebecca Bennett, Monte Mitchell, and Barry

Without your generous support this would not be a possibility. 

We are currently pricing the equipment that we need so that we can start brewing within the month. If you are curious about what we are getting or where we are getting it you can keep checking back here and we will keep you posted on what is going on. I will also be posting frequent updates as we start brewing and aging the beer.
Once again thank you everyone that made this possible!























Friday, May 25, 2012


I find that I too often brew ales. There is so much variety when it comes to them that you could probably spend your whole life brewing them before you ran out of new things to try. However, in order to be a bit more well rounded one should at least occasionally brew a lager. Lager yeast ferment very cleanly and without all the esters and other compounds produced by ale yeast allowing your malt profile comes through much clearer. This allows you, in my opinion, to get a better grasp on how your malt choices are really affecting the beer.

Since it is spring time, and the month of May is coming up, I decided to brew a Mai-Bock (May Bock). I wanted it to be a refreshing and crisp beer that would remind the drinker of the season. Here is my recipe, but first a quick note on the batch size, I only have a 5 gallon and a 3 gallon fermenter (better bottles) that can fit into my mini fridge, for that reason all of my lagers have to be brewed in a 3.5 gallon size so that I can fill the 3 gallon fermenter I use for secondary to the brim.

3/31 Mai Bock
Brewed with Andrew

3.5 Gallons
OG- 1.040
FG- 1.015
IBU- 28

1 pound Vienna
1 pound Munich
1 pound Malted Rye
1 pound Carapils
4 pounds American 2-Row

Single step infusion 2 quarts/pound 152 F for 1 hour
Batch sparged with 176 F water 30 minutes

Hallertau pellets 7.9% AA, 0.25 oz, 60 minutes
Hallertau pellets 7.9% AA, 0.25 oz, 45 minutes
Tettnang pellets, 4.8% AA, 0.50 oz, 25 minutes
Tettnang pellets, 4.8% AA, 0.25 oz, 10 minutes

1/8 oz coriander added 5 minutes before flame out

Fermented 55 F

4/16 gravity 1.015
4/29 gravity 1.015 Bottled with 1.4 oz table sugar

5/24 Tasting

Appearance: Straw yellow- golden in color. Not much head and carbonation appears to be a little low. There are a good number of bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass. The head lingers as a lace around the rim of the glass.

Aroma: Nice malt aromas, very clean. No aroma at all from the yeast. A slight hop spice appears in the background.

Taste: Crisp and sweet. Starts off a little sweet with a nice silky mouthfeel, really coats the whole mouth before it finishes with a crisp bite.

Overall: I think this was a solid attempt at brewing a Mai-Bock. I would have liked a little more alcohol and the beer to be drier. That being said it is incredibly drinkable and it is going to be gone fast! We added coriander at the last minute hoping to give the beer some citrus aroma to make it more refreshing, it did not really come through but certainly did not take anything away from the beer.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Yeast Starter

Making a yeast starter is a necessary skill for someone who wants to brew beer. A yeast starter takes either a small quantity of yeast and grows it to the volume needed to ferment a batch of beer or takes a culture of yeast that is not healthy enough to brew a batch of beer and produces new cells that will be able to ferment the beer, or both.

In order to create a yeast starter you will need a few basic things...
  1. Dry Malt Extract
  2. A sterile vessel 
  3. Tinfoil
  4. A stir plate (not essential)
  5. Yeast
  6. A sterile toothpick of inoculation loop
  7. Scale
  1. The first step is to make a wort that is about 1.040 gravity. This is easy to do using Dry Malt Extract, simply add 1 oz of Dry Malt Extract for every cup of water. 
  2.  Boil the wort to sanitize it
  3. Sanitize the inoculation loop and whatever you will be growing the yeast in
  4. Add the wort to the vessel and place tinfoil over the top, allow the wort to cool to 80 F
  5. Add the yeast, using sterile practices, to the wort (you will only need a very small amount of yeast, a few colonies will do)
    1. If you have a packet from Wyeast or a tube from White Labs you can add the whole tube 
  6. If you have a stir plate available to you you can place the vessel on the stir plate in order to promote propagation. If you do not you should pick up and swirl the vessel as often as you can in order to keep it oxygenated.

The only tough decision is how much of a starter to make. If you are using a tube or packet from a commercial yeast producer you probably want to use a quart of wort. If you are picking single colonies you will only need 2 cups of starter (that you can then step up to a quart if you would like). I like to place my starters in the fridge after they have grown for 2 days in order to make the yeast fall to the bottom. I can then pour off the majority of the liquid and add only the yeast to the beer. A starter is good for a week in the fridge before you need to think about starting over.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wild Brewing: Update 1

So far we have raised just a little under $1000!

Thanks to all of our sponsors!

We still have a ways to go and anything (even 5 bucks) goes a long way to helping us reach our goal!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Raspberry Wheat: Red 57

For my dad's 57th birthday I decided instead of getting him a gift I would teach him how to brew beer. It was a great opportunity to both share time with him and make him a gift that he would enjoy. We kicked around a couple of ideas and decided to brew a raspberry wheat beer. The recipe is easy to follow, simple, and turned out excellent. The beer was so tasty I submitted it in the 2012 National Homebrewing Competition.

Brewed 12.17.2011

5.5 pounds American Wheat
5.5 pounds American 2-Row

1 oz Hallertau 60 minutes (4.4% AA)
0.5 oz Saaz 10 minutes (4.3% AA)

1 and 1/2 packets Safale US-05

3 gallons at 150 F
Sparged 3.5 gallons @ 180 F

Original Gravity 1.052
Original Volume ~4 gallons

Gravity at 1.020, racked beer into a 5 gallon corny keg and added 60 oz of frozen sugared raspberries. (Needed to purge keg twice daily to keep pressure in check)

Botteled ~4 gallons with 3oz of table sugar

Tasting 5/7/2012

Appearance: The beer pours a magnificent pink red color that gives away the raspberries as soon as it comes out the of bottle. The carbonation is a little high and champagne like. It causes little bubbles to constantly be surging to the top of the beer. The head is pink and stable through the entire glass.

Aroma: Raspberries! The berries cover up any hop aroma and there is only a little malt aroma detectable.

Taste: The beer is sweet to start but finishes with a bit of a pucker from the raspberries, this is aided by the high level of carbonation. The berries really come through in the flavor of the beer.

Overall: This is an awesome beer. It turned out wonderful and there is very little I would change about it. Maybe dial back the bottling sugar or allow it to sit in the secondary longer to make sure there is no residual sugar. Although this beer is a little girly it makes a wonderful summer treat.

Got the score back from the National Homebrewing competition. The beer scored a 31, which equates to a very good.I am pretty proud of my first submission and will be brewing this beer again (with my dad) for competition with the above changes to the recipe. Hopefully we can bring home a medal with it some day!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Wild Brewing

I am very excited to announce a new project! Along with two of my good friends I plan to brew a set of four sour beers. The plan is to brew 55 gallon batches that will be aged in used wine barrels. The resulting beers will be released to the public at tasting events in Colorado. The events will be held free of charge and are meant to raise awareness of this style of beer. In order for this to work my friends and I need to raise money to buy the barrels, grain, bottles, and a few pieces of larger brewing equipment. If you are at all interested please check out our KickStarter site and consider helping us fund this project!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Yeast Basics

Saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewers and bakers yeast) has long played a part in human society. It has allowed humanity to create alcoholic beverages and baked goods. The Latin name Saccharomyces means "sugar fungus", crediting this yeast with its ability to chew through large amounts of glucose and maltose. The second part of the name, Cerevisiae (think cerveza in Spanish) is Latin for beer. Another name for this same yeast is "budding yeast" commenting on the way in which it reproduces.

In order to understand how yeast is working in your beer you need to understand their life cycle. Yeast are a single celled fungus that reproduces asexually (most of the time). When yeast are reproducing asexually they are not sharing any genetic material with other yeast. This makes all yeast in a given culture identical to each other (essentially clones). Yeast reproduce through a process known as budding (hence the name budding yeast). In order to do this a yeast cell, known as the mother yeast, grows a bud that enlarges until DNA can be moved into it and it matures enough to split off from the mother cell. The newly created cell is known as the daughter cell.

This is a light microscope photo of budding yeast. The nucleus of each cell is highlighted in blue. Cells boxed in green are not currently budding. Cells boxed in red have a daughter cell beginning to bud off of them.
Yeast are able to grow in both the presence and absence of oxygen. However, oxygen is needed for yeast to create sterols which are used in the creation of the yeast cell wall (basically). Without enough oxygen present yeast will soon stop reproducing but will continue to eat available sugars. For this reasons yeast are cultured in the presence of oxygen.

Although maltose is the predominant sugar in wort it is not the only sugar available to yeast or the only sugar that yeast are able to metabolize. Budding yeast are also able to consume glucose, trehalose, fructose, and galactose.As yeast are breaking down sugars for energy they produce alcohol, carbon dioxide, and a myriad of other compounds such as esters and phenols (flavor and aroma compounds).

It is the job of any good brewer to create and maintain a happy yeast culture so that the yeast can go about their business in the wort. In order to accomplish this task the brewer needs to provide yeast with not only sugars and oxygen, but also a nitrogen source, vitamins, phosphorus, and some trace metals. Fortunately almost all of these compounds are present in wort if it is made from barley. All that the brewer needs to do is add oxygen and zinc (which is not present in high enough amounts in barley). A brewer could go their whole carrier without adding zinc and everything would be fine. However, if the same yeast is used again and again they will eventually begin to suffer from a lack of zinc. For this reason I add a small amount of yeast nutrients to my wort (I have also had success with adding a 1/4 cup of old yeast slurry to my wort at the beginning of the boil. These old dead yeast have the trace metals and vitamins that I am interested in and by boiling them I break them open allowing those compounds to be added to the wort).

What the basic brewer needs to known about adding yeast to a beer is...
  1. How much yeast to add
  2. When to add the yeast
  3. How to control fermentation
  4. At what point fermentation has ended
Anything beyond this can be saved for another day.

1) How much yeast to add: An ale needs fewer yeast cells than a lager, about 0.75 million cells per milliter of wort per degree Plato. A lager is going to need more like 1.25 million cells. Although this may sound very complicated most of the yeast cultures that you buy are going to have an appropriate amount of cells for a 5 gallon batch. If you are brewing something that is really high in gravity or larger than 5 gallons you are going to need to grow up additional yeast.

2) When to add the yeast: This is simple, add the yeast at a temperature lower than 80 (ale) or lower than 65 (lager). Although yeast can survive at 100 F very easily you do not want to stress them out before they begin their big job. You can also choose to add your yeast when the wort has reached the temperature at which you want to ferment it (say 72 F for an ale).

3) How to control fermentation: There is a lot of activity going on during fermentation, and the yeast are producing a large amount of heat. It is important to make sure that they are fermenting at an appropriate temperature, which  often means cooling them down. Otherwise you may get some unintended by-products of fermentation (aroma and flavor compounds that you did not want).

4) At what point fermentation has ended: This may seem very easy, when it stops bubbling right? Wrong. When yeast have finished eating the sugars they go back and clean up some of the other compounds left in the wort. If you bottle the beer before the yeast clean it up off flavors will be present. Make sure the yeast have had time to do their job (~10 days for ale ~21 days for a lager).

This is about all 1 post can handle. I will address how to culture yeast and some other details on yeast in following posts.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Getting Started: Moving Past the Basics

Now that you have a couple of beers under your belt you are ready to move onto something a little more complicated. The first things that I would suggest is going and picking up a secondary fermentor. This time you want to go big and not just buy another bucket. Pick up either a 5 gallon glass carboy or a plastic one. You are going to be using it for the next brew you make. I think it is also time to introduce a couple of new concepts and allow you to do some recipe manipulation. I want to cover with you the following...

Gravity Calculations
IBU Calculations
Hop Scheduling

Once again, you can take any recipe you want to use for your next beer but I am going to give directions for making an American Ale. I am going to allow you to manipulate the hop schedule and the gravity of the beer to make anything from an American Pale Ale to a Double IPA. First we need to cover those previously mentioned items.

When I start out designing a recipe (a topic for latter discussion) I first ask myself what style I want to brew. Once I have picked that out I look at the style guidelines to get a good idea of what a normal beer in that style would be like. Anything fancy needs to be saved for a latter date.

Since we are going to be using an American Pale Ale as our base I would scroll down to page 12 and look at the vital statistics that are listed.

Vital Statistics:           OG: 1.045 – 1.060
IBUs: 30 – 45              FG: 1.010 – 1.015
SRM: 5 – 14               ABV: 4.5 – 6.2%

This table gives me all the information that I need to get started. The IBUs are the amount of International Bittering Units in the Beer. SRM gives me an indication of the color of the beer. OG is the Original Gravity of the beer, basically how much sugar was in the beer to start. FG is the final gravity, how much sugar was left after the beer was done fermenting. ABV is, as we all know, the Alcohol By Volume of the beer.

Next I decide what I want my OG to be, I am shooting for something that will make a nice summer beer so I am going to stay on the low side at 1.050. I use that number to calculate how much sugar I am going to need to add. For that I figure out how many units of gravity are added from each pound of Liquid Malt Extract (0.038 G/pound/gallon). I want a starting Gravity of 1.050 for my 5 gallons of beer. In order to make the math easier I am going to use just the Gravity units, which is just the number after the 1, in this case 50 Gravity units (1.112 would be 112 Gravity units). However, I need 50 gravity units per gallon of beer, since I am making 5 gallons I really need (50 G x 5) 250 Gravity units. The math for how many pounds of Liquid Malt Extract I need looks like this....

250=(Gravity units provided by 1 pound of Liquid Malt Extract) x (Pounds of Liquid Malt Extract needed)
250= 38 x X
solve for X
X=  6.57 pounds of Liquid Malt Extract

Now that I know how much extract I need, I want to figure out how much hops I am going to need. But first I have to figure out what type of hops that I want in the beer and when to add them. It turns out that boiling hops for different amounts of time changes what they do to the beer (Also a topic for another day). Basically hops boiled for 60 minutes add bitterness, boiling hops for 30 minutes adds more of a bitter flavor, and boiling hops for 0-15 minutes adds aroma (this is a huge oversimplification but be patient). There is also a fourth time slot option, dry hopping, in which the hops are soaked in the beer post fermentation to impart aroma.

Using this information and the style guidelines I can create a hopping schedule for my beer. From the vital statistics, "Usually a moderate to high hop flavor, often showing a citrusy American hop character". Right of the bat I know what type of hops to stick with, American, you can read through a hop variety guide to figure out what you would like to add to get that citrus flavor or look on a breweries website and see what type of hops are used in your favorite America Pale Ale. I am going to use Magnum, Perle, and Cascade. Based on what these hops are most often used for and the information provided on them I am going to use Magnum to bitter the beer, Perle for taste, and Cascade for Aroma.

Now comes the hard part, I need to figure out how much of the hops to add and when. I like to get about 70% of the bitterness from my first "charge" of hops, that would be the 60 minute boil. I first decide how much bitterness I want, I like bitter beer so I am going to shoot for 40 IBUs. If I want to get 70% of the bitterness from my first charge I calculate that I need 28 IBUs from that charge (40 IBUs x 0.7). On every bag of hops in the AA% (Alpha Acid % (Alpha Acids are the bittering compound)), this tells me how much bitterness this packet of hops offers in every ounce. To calculate how many ounces I use the following equation...

IBU = (weight oz x % Alpha Acids) x U x 75 / Vrecipe

Where U is the utilization factor (This changes based on the Gravity of the boiling beer and the time in the boiling beer, a chart can be found here)

and Vreipe is the total volume when the beer is finished (include water you will be adding latter, so 5 gallons for us)

Or I could just use this calculator for IBUs

I am going to repeat the same procedure for the Perle hops and Cascade, which I will be using for flavor and aroma. I want to get 25% of the IBUs from the second charge at 30 minutes (flavor) and the remaining 5% from the final charge at 10 minutes (aroma).

The final thing you need is something to up the color of the beer a little bit, for this you can use about 0.5 pounds of a lighter colored grain for steeping, say 60 L caramel.

Now that I have figure out my hop schedule and how much sugar to add I am ready to brew my beer. All that I need to do is pick up the ingredients and some yeast. If I want to adjust this recipe here is how I would do it. Say I want my beer to be more or less bitter, adjust the IBUs. Say I want more alcohol, adjust the Original Gravity (However, yeast can only eat about 75% of the sugars so if I up the ABV it is going to translate into a sweeter beer due to a higher FG). If I want to make an IPA I would up both amounts. You can also play around with color by adjusting the steeping grain. The key here is a concept created by Ray Daniels in his book Designing Great Beers. He talks about the BU:GU ratio, which is the Bitterness:Gravity ratio. By changing this ratio I can control if I am making a Pale Ale or an India Pale Ale.

That is a ton of information for one post. I started a number of topics here that need to be talked about in more depth but I will do that latter, if all you wanted was a recipe for an American Pale Ale, here you go.

American Pale Ale (Extract)

American Pale Ale (Extract)

This recipe was designed for one of my "Brewing 101" pages.

OG: 1.050
IBUs: 40
Size: 5 gallons

What you need:

6.5 Pounds Liquid Malt Extract

0.5 pounds crushed caramel 60 malt

1 oz Magnum Hops (14% AA)
0.75 oz Perle Hops (8% AA)
1 oz Cascade (5.5% AA)

1 Packet Safale US-05

  1. Bring 2.5 gallons of water to 150 F and add the steeping grains inside of a muslin bag for 30 minutes.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and add all of the Liquid Malt Extract, make sure you stir to prevent it from cooking to the bottom (adding it slowly would be wise).
  3. Set the timer for 60 minutes and add the 1 oz of Magnum Hops
  4. At 30 minutes remaining add 0.75 oz of Perle Hops
  5. At 10 minutes remaining add 0.5 oz of Cascade
  6. At 0 minutes turn off the flame and cool the beer to 80 F, this can be done by placing the pot in a sink/ bath tub of cold water or by adding cold, sterile, water to bring the volume to 5 gallons.
  7. Bring the volume to 5 gallons.
  8. Add the yeast and allow fermentation to occur, after 10 days siphon the beer into your secondary container and add the remaining 0.5 oz of Cascade hops. 
  9. Allow the beer to dry hop in the secondary 1 week before bottling.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Getting Started: Steeping Grains

Now that you have brewed your first beer. It is time to introduce a few new concepts. The first of these is going to be using real grains and not just malt extract in your beer. Before I go through what you are going to do today I want to talk a little bit about grains, and barley in particular.

Barley has been used for brewing beer for time untold. It lends itself to use in brewing because it contains a high amount of starch and enzymes with an appropriate level of proteins. Other grains, like wheat, contain a larger amount of protein which will become sticky in the mash. The high level of protein in wheat makes it more suited for use in baking bread where the sticky proteins help hold it together. Items like corn contain a high level off starch (think high fructose corn syrup) but lack the enzymes that are needed during mashing.

Now that I have mentioned enzymes a couple of times I better explain what I am talking about. Enzymes work as organic catalysts. They take a reaction that would not be energetically favorable and help it to occur more readily. In this case the reaction we are interested in is the breakdown of starch. Starch is a compound made up of sugars. Plants (like barley, wheat, and corn) store energy in the form of starch. When we eat a plant our bodies take that starch, break it down into sugars, and use those sugar for energy. In brewing we want to take starch and break it down into sugar which we can then turn into alcohol. In order to break down the starch we need to activate a specific enzyme called alpha amylase. This enzyme will break down the starches in the barley into sugars for brewing. Here comes the complicated part, alpha amylase is not normally active in the barley, otherwise barley would never be able to store up energy as starch. As a brewer it is your job to active the alpha amylase allowing it to go to work. Brewers activate this enzyme by placing the barley in hot water (150 F). This creates a sort of barley tea in which the enzyme converts the starches in the grain into sugar. Creating this barley tea is known as "mashing", and is a topic for another day.

Now that I have thoroughly bored you, lets get to the heart of what you will be doing today. You will be using crushed barley grains to add additional body and color to your beer. I will be providing a recipe for you to brew an amber ale, (but you could follow the directions for a brewing kit that includes steeping grains). The idea is that you can use some grain to steep like tea in your brew, this will activate some of the enzymes to covert some of the starch in these grains to sugar. It will also extract color from the grains to give you a nice looking beer.

Here is what you will need for today....

  1. Your brewing equipment
  2. 7 pounds of pale liquid malt extract
  3. 1/2 pound of crystal 90 malt (crush it before you leave the LHS unless you bought it pre-crushed)
  4. 1/3 pound of Special "B" malt (also crushed)
  5. A muslin bag for your grains
  6. 1 oz of Pearle hops
  7. 1 oz of Nugget hops
  8. 1 oz of Saaz Hops
  9. 1 package of Safale US-05 yeast (or another form of dry yeast)

Crushed Special "B"

Once again, before you start brewing make sure that you have at least 5 hours set aside. The brew day will be very similar to the last time except we will be adding hops at several times points today and steeping grains to start. If you are wondering why we are adding hops at multiple steps today just wait, that is what I will be talking about next.

  1. Add 2.5 gallons of water to your brewing pot, warm to water to 150-160 F and place your crushed grains into the muslin bag. Place the muslin bag into the pot and set the timer for 30 minutes. (this is steeping the grains)
  2. After a half hour has passed remove the muslin bag and bring the wort to a boil
  3. Add 1/3 oz Pearle Hops, 1/2 oz Nugget Hops and set timer for 60 minutes
  4. Add 1 oz Saaz with 15 minutes remaining on the timer
  5. Clean your fermentation equipment
  6. Now all you need to do is cool the beer and place it in the fermentation vessel just like last time. Make sure that you wait to add the yeast until it is cool and that you aerate the beer so that your yeast will grow. From here on out everything is exactly the same as it was last time as far a bottling and carbonating the beer.