Saturday, June 13, 2015

Top 4 easiest and most rewarding Home Brews

You have four ingredients and unlimited beers styles. Some easy, some not so. I choose these four because the grain bill is very minimal and there are no special steps. Here are the most rewarding and easiest beers I've made. 

4. Guinness

Oh yes. This is a very easy to brew with the caveat that you have a nitro tap. For those of you that say that you can't recreate the original Dublin black bliss I say, not true. The grain bill is simple. The hop schedule can vary and fermentation is nothing special. Mash to mug is as fast at 10 days, but it's best rested for about 7 days. Water is again nothing special. Your water may vary from what I use but if it's not super high in minerals I would not be concerned. The reverse bubbles and creamy head are the result of a nitro tap. A simple parlour trick once you have the nitro tap.

Ingredients: 8 lbs 2-Row, 1 lb Flaked Barley, 1 lb Black Roasted Barley, Saf 04, 1 oz Magnum 60 mins, 1 oz Magnum 15 mins
Temperatures: Mash 152F, Ferment 62-67F

3. American Pale Ale

This is probably the first beer many try. Keeping the hop schedule simple is key. 2 oz of fresh hops are far better than 8 ounces of hops on sales from last years harvest. Don't key sucked in. Mashing at 152 to 154 will create a lot of malt flavour so keep your flavour malts low. Even a 1/2 lb of Crystal 40 can create a full body flavoured 5 gallon ale. Keep things minimal and simple and your Ale will be a big hit. 

Ingredients: 8 lbs 2-Row, 1/2 lb Crystal 40, Saf 04, 1 oz Magnum 60 mins, 2 oz Zeau 15 mins
Temperatures: Mash 152F, Ferment 62-67F

* Note: Zeus can be substituted with Columbus, Centennial, Cascade, Citra, Magnum, ...

2. Hoegaarden

I really enjoy this beer with a slice of lemon draped on top. Again surprising easy to brew. This does require an extra step but the rewards are there. 

Ingredients: 4.5 lbs White Wheat, 4.5 lbs 2-Row, Saf 04, 1 oz Magnum 60 mins, 2 oz Saaz 15 mins
Temperatures: Mash 152F, Ferment 62-67F
Adjunct: Add 1 oz of Coriander and 0.5 oz of sweet orange peel to 1 gallon of boiling water for 5 minutes. Add to wortz at the end of fermentation.

1. Kolsch

I originally brewed Kolsch Ale because it's similar to a traditional lager but ferments at a warmer temperature. This beer also dies bot need to be lagered and I've made it from mash to mug in 7 days with great success. This is an easy beer to make. It uses Kolsch yeast, Kolsch grain and a noble hop for flavour. fermentation should take place in the low 60's. You can ferment at a higher  temperature but you will develop some esters that require about three weeks of lagering. You want to aim for a ABV around 5 to 6.  Lower is too thin and higher bring a mouthfeel that is not as nice. I use about 8lbs to get 5% ABV. This is a great beer and very good for parties when people are looking for drinkability with flavour. 

Ingredients: 9 lbs Kolsch Malt,  Kolsch Yeast, 1 oz Magnum 60 mins, 2 oz Liberty 15 mins
Temperatures: Mash 152F, Ferment 62-67F

Top 5 Mistakes that Kill the Perfect Home Brew

Avoiding off flavours is important as you tune your techniques as a brewer. Everyone has different equipment. Everyone has different levels of experience, but these 5 areas are your top cultripes of ruining your brew.

Here are 5 top areas that can ruin your home brew.

1. Clean equipment before the boil and sanitized equipment with everything the brew touches after the boil. Sanitizing prior to the boil is a waste of time. If any contamination happens prior to the boil, the boil will take care of it. After the boil you should consider it a race to get your chosen yeast to take over your sweet wort. Yeast is responsible for many of the flavours so don't allow wild yeasts to compete. Don't let anything that would go moldy come near your wort.  From the time you cool your wort to the time your yeast kicks in you have a risk of  contamination. Once you're past this stage the lack of sugar and the presence of alcohol make the contamination risk very low.

2. Maintain a rolling boil for at least 20 minutes. Boiling gets ride of all kinds of nasties. Having a slow boil does not help. You need to get your wort to be vigorously boiling for at least 20 minutes of your 60 mins boil. Shorter boils or less intense boils leave the risk of off flavours. 

3. Mash temperature. Ever hear of the brewers window? You should have if you do all grain brews. When you mash in your grain temperature is super important.  148F will extract more fermentable sugars and mashing at 156F will produce a more malty lower ABV beer. Although this is not an off flavour it is a huge influence on the taste and mouthfeel of your beer. Calibrate your thermometer regularly and measure you mash with precision. 

4.  Fermentation temperature. All yeast stains have target fermentations. Know your range and make sure that you can maintain this temp range during fermentation. Temperatures too high will give you off flavours. Temperatures on the lower end of the range generally give cleaner flavour profiles. 

5. Lager your finished beer. This is the hardest part. You've finished your beer and you taste it and it's ok or pretty good. Lagering or resting your beer at a cool temperature for 3 to 4 weeks turns good beer in many cases into great beer.  Lagering allows your beer to rest and settle. Some off flavour disappear. Some new flavours emerge and improve the beer. Even your hoppy beers need some rest. Plan ahead and lager your brews. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hoegaarden 10 Gallon All Grain

Made on June 21th

10 lbs. Pilsener Malt(2-Row) Continental Eu
10 lbs. Flaked Soft White Wheat America
1.00 lbs. Rice Hulls America

Sweet Orange Peel 1/2 oz 5 mins in 1 gallon boil
Coriander (crushed) 1.0 oz 
5 mins in 1 gallon boil
Boil was done separatly and the the whole thing was dumped at flame out

Target Temp: 62F - 75F

Magnum 1.0 oz 60 mins
Styriam   1/2 oz 15 mins
Saaz         1/2 oz 15 mins

124F 15 mins rest
152F 60 mins

Produce 14 Gallons (next time make 13 gallons)
Boil to produce 12 (next time make this 11 gallons)

Coriander (crushed) 1.0 oz, 1 week


Preboil 1.043, Postboil (before 1 gallon of adjunct added) 1.048
Original Gravity: 1.048 Actual 1.046
Final Gravity: 1.010


I've made this been before about 4 times with great success. The trick is to hit you OG and then getting the flavour and ABV is easy. This recipe is the same except for the rice hulls. These rice hulls facilitated a fast mash out. Getting 14 gallons of sweet wort was pretty easy. Minor risk of a stuck mash. 

Fermentation started well after 24 hours. Vessel submerged in water tank. Started at 72F and brought downto 64F with freezer pasks. 

14 Gallons - Start of Boil

Spice Boil -  One Gallon