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!