Homebrewing blogs

Beet and Brett Saison

The Mad Fermentationist - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 5:27pm
Brew a variety weird things, sometimes get weird results. While my first accidentally-double-sulfited attempt at a LODO Pilsner was meh, the other half of the wort (recipe) fermented with Bootleg Biology’s Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend was a terribly sulfry, eggy, farty mess. The Brulosophy LODO experiment ran into similar (less severe) sulfur issues even with the correct dosage of metabisulfite. What’s happening?

Most of the aromatic sulfur compounds in beer are relatively volatile. Yeast are required to convert the other common fermentation off-flavors, like diacetyl and acetaldehyde, into relatively flavorless compounds. Sulfur aromatics can be carried out of the beer by CO2, either from the yeast or artificially by force-carbonating and degassing. Another approach is to precipitate the sulfur as copper sulfate. I’ve visited breweries that recirculate through a short length of copper pipe to accomplish this.

All beers contain sulfate (SO4) thanks to contributions from the water and malt. Sulfate doesn't taste like sulfur, although it can contribute a mineral off-flavor in excess. While some (especially lager) strains produce above-threshold sulfur aromatics normally, usually these blow off on their own unless fermentation is abnormally cold, pressurized, or weak. When you add bisulfite (HSO3) in the form of sodium metabisulfite (SMB) as an oxygen scavenger it releases free sulfur dioxide (SO2) most of which oxidizes into sulfate. What happens to the remainder? Well  at least some of it ends up as foul hydrogen sulfide (H2S). So in LODO Brewing, the SMB dosage has to be reduced if you are taste sulfur in the finished beer. Relevant research for wine making.

Rather than turning to copper, or intentional oxidation, I decided to add three shredded beets (14 oz) to secondary. My theory was that beets’ sugar would cause the yeast to scrub the sulfur while their earthy flavor complimented the yeast hiding whatever sulfur remained. By sheer luck it worked! Not to say it is a perfect beer, but it is drinkable and the sulfur was gone after a few months... Not exactly a solution built for a commercial brewery with a sulfury lager. I could have added fruit to accomplish the same goal, but berry saisons usually fall flat without acidity or sweetness behind the aromatics.

I shared a growler of the beer with Todd Boera from Fonta Flora last week while he was brewing a collaboration at Right Proper. He gave some positive feedback (no sulfur, nice beet expression). I had loosely based my amounts and technique on the recipe for his Beets, Rhymes, and Life in Stan’s fascinating Brewing Local. I also got to share my Juniper Kviek with Marika and Aaron from Scratch Brewing, she said that it reminded her of their Sahti (not a big surprise given we cribbed the Eastern Red Cedar additions from that recipe in their Homebrewer’s Almanac).

The local NPR affiliate stopped by that day for a story on the collaboration and changes to the DC beer scene: Take Time to Smell the Beer

Beets by Drie

Smell – Earthy, loamy, beety. Still fresh, maybe a hint of cherry and spice from the Brett. The beet flavor isn’t overpowering, this is just a mild saison given the low gravity, 100% Pilsner malt, and lack of natural conditioning.

Appearance – Shocking magenta with a slight haze. Todd mentioned that they really see the color of beets dissipate in the bottle, but not in the keg. No idea what causes it though (pH? Fermentation? Doesn't seem to be oxidation). Head has just a hint of pink for the short time it stays around.

Taste – Mildly spicy yeast, fresh earthy beets in the finish. Minimal sweetness, pretty dry, clearly whatever leached from the shredded beets was fermentable. A hint of bitterness, but no other hop character. Just a touch of sulfur, thankfully!

Mouthfeel – Light and thin. Medium-plus carbonation. Not far from seltzer.

Drinkability & Notes – Bright, weird, and refreshing. A bit single note with the beets, but it is a remarkable improvement from the train wreck it was!

Changes for Next Time – Less SMB. A maltier saison would support the beets better. I’d like to taste it with a little citrus zest and/or ginger as well... so that's what I did!

With the keg half empty I shredded 70 g of ginger into a French press, steeping it with a cup of boiling water for an hour. It's a technique I used in the blog's infancy to make Ginger Beer. I added half of this intense tea to the keg along with the zest of one blood orange.

Ginger-Citrus-ified Beets by Drie

Smell – Assertive spicy fresh ginger layered onto the earthiness. Reminds me of a Reed’s Ginger Beer rather than Ommegang Hennepin (which has a touch of ginger). Citrus is in a supporting role.

Appearance – Nearly identical magenta, maybe a hair hazier. Head retention isn’t improved.

Taste – Ginger and citrus are there in the flavor as well, but they leave more room for the beet. The earthiness is mellower. Yeast character is the odd one out. Surprisingly brings out the sulfur a bit more in the finish, not objectionable though.

Mouthfeel – The ginger adds a tickle of heat at the end, but otherwise the same light quenching body.

Drinkability & Notes – A more crowd-pleasing beer, less of a study on vegetable beer - the topic of my most recently submitted BYO Advanced Brewing article (subscribe). The potent ginger makes me think cocktail more than beer. Less interesting, but more drinkable and food-friendly.

Changes for Next Time – Less ginger, or a bolder base beer. Interested to see if it calms down in a week or two.
Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #18

Brew Dudes - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 6:48pm

Hi Homebrewing Friends, This exchange is a long distance one.  It spanned a whole ocean to make here to our studios in Mike’s basement (Studio C).  Here’s our homebrew swap #18 – the continental European addition. This beer swap was the first 1 to 1 swap we have ever done.  Alex from Göttingen, Germany sent […]

Read the original article Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #18 and other Brew Dudes posts.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

New Zealand: Beer and Hops on the South Island

The Mad Fermentationist - Mon, 04/17/2017 - 3:30pm
It is always easier to say “No.” Every year I get a few invites for international trips combining speaking, judging, and/or brewing. With only so vacation days each year, I can't go everywhere I'm invited. I love talking to locals with shared interests (and the free flight and hotel doesn't hurt), but it means a few days spent being on rather than relaxing. Sometime though an event, place, or people are enough to turn my answer into "Yes." Nelson, New Zealand and the 2017 NZ Home-Brewers Conference was the most recent thanks to organizers Karl, Ed, and Mike!

Drinking in Christchurch

We left our house in Washington, DC on Thursday afternoon and after three flights and a total of 24 hours in transit we arrived in Christchurch on Saturday afternoon. The city was hit by an Earthquake in 2011 that killed 183 people and is still knocking down damaged buildings. We were surprised how quiet it was on the weekend, I guess when the area around it is so beautiful, why live downtown?

Our first stop between the airport and our AirBnB was Pomeroy's Pub for two sampler trays (one of theirs and one of other local beers). It set the tone for much of the beer on the South Island, lots of British-inspired, with some American craft beer leanings, and the foundation for emerging local trends. The next day we met with the Chch Homebrew Association at Volstead Trading Company (excellent beer bar) and then onto dinner at Twisted Hop Pub (a local brew pub) with a few of them. Both breweries we visited in Chrischurch had some excellent house beers (Pomeroy's English Mild and Twisted Hop Twisted Ankle) and some I'd rather forget... from their guest taps with overdone adjuncts.

We also stopped by FreshChoice for bottled beers to sustain us on the trip around the country. Despite being hyped in America, New Zealand hops aren’t especially played up. Almost all of the local IPAs that highlighted a particular variety used American hops (e.g., Liberty Citra Double IPA). It was actually the emerging New Zealand Pilsners style that usually showcased Nelson, Motueka, and Riwaka! In general I was let down with the lack of local adjuncts used (certainly a handful of honey, wine grape, and manuka-smoked beers) especially from the likes of Garage Project. Freshness was a big issue too, many beers are given long shelf-life (12-18 months) and still a good number were out of code.

I bought honey at a self-serve roadside honey shack, and Audrey tracked down thyme honey for me at a farmer's market. Regrettably I didn't get to come home with hops (I'll have to order some in a few months when the new harvest is pellitized).

One interesting note is that each brewery is required to produce at least one low alcohol beer. The best of the ones we tried was White Mischief, a peach gose from Garage Project. The North Island, especially Wellington, is the center of the brewing industry, but there are still quite a few breweries in and around the cities on the South Island.

South Island Tourists

After a couple days we set out on a circuitous five day route to Nelson. We drove about three hours a day, but the scenery was beautiful and ever-changing. Down through Tekapo (a dark sky reserve) for stargazing at Mount John University Observatory, by Lake Wanaka (with a stop at Rippon Vineyards for beautiful scenery and serious natural fermentations), and up the West Coast with hikes to Franz Joseph glacier and onto Fox glacier by helicopter. We walked along the coast at Gillespies Beach, where there was no shortage of flat rocks, and a calm inlet perfect for skipping.

Hop Harvest

Our first day in Nelson we went on a tour of the New Zealand's hop growing infrastructure. Along with 20 local homebrewers we were joined by the other Americans (BJCP President Gordon Strong and Brulosophy Captain Marshall Schott).

We essentially ran the steps that hops take in reverse order. Starting at NZ ("N-Zed") Hops. This is the cooperative processor owned by the hop farmers. The guide noted that a few more farms were coming online this year and they expect a substantial expansion in acreage over the next three years. This is the building where your Nelson, Mouteuka, and Riwaka (if you can get it) are pelletized and packed for distribution. Harvest was well underway (an average year) and the place smelled intensely resiny. I would have loved to see the pelletizer in action, but the highlight was the storage room, it was like something out of the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Up until now they have only done larger packages in-house, but starting this year they will be packing 100 g and 1 kg packages on a new machine.

Next we were onto Mac Hops, the largest grower in New Zealand. That day they were harvesting Green Bullet (the hop, as we were told several times, is the signature of Steinlager). They grow a variety of hops to stretch the harvest season. The machinery was fascinating, and we could get a bit closer than I would have expected. They dry and bale the hops on site and send them to NZ Hops where they are tested for moisture before processing.

I took a few videos of the various stages going from bines to dried whole hops (sorry for a few vertical shots mixed in...). They are basically in order from the bines hanging moving to have their hops plucked off, through the machines that remove leaves, and finally to loading dried hops into the baler. We didn't get to see into the oast, so the drying process isn't recorded. They are selling this 50 acre farm (to a group that includes Modern Times) and using the proceeds to purchase 100 acres of land to build a new farm.

We had lunch at The Moutere Inn (the oldest pubs in New Zealand) where I tried Townshend Trial Hop 2 an subtly hopped beer brewed with an experimental variety (later I'd hear it was one of the breeder's current favorites, more herbally-balanced than the big tropical bombs they are known for). 

Our final stop was at the New Zealand Hop Research Station. Our group started in their test brewhouse (for single-hop trial batches). Here promising hops are added to a simple standard base beer, something like a Pilsner fermented with US-05. They use a neutral bittering hop and load up the experimental hops at the end of the boil and in dry hopping. Regrettably they didn't serve us any samples!

Dr. Ron Beatson gave us a tour of the field, has been the driving force behind their breeding and selection programs. We didn't get to see the Nelson Sauvin "mother" (the one that all are propagated from) but we did see a few of her daughters. He cracked a few jokes about selecting the Cascades (now called Taiheke) for their breeding program in the 1980s. While some of their hops are bred manually, others are in secret test sites around the country with several female plants and a single male to pollinate. He said the same thing I had heard about Riwaka, beautiful hop (my Riwaka Hefeweizen), terrible agronomic properties. 

Our last stop was a tour of their chemical analysis lab where we got to smell samples of hops and some concentrated oils they had steam distilled. The lab also handles fruit analysis, and it was blueberry season.


The next night I was honored to be asked to judge at BrewMania. A bit less so when I realized all 100 homebrewers there were also judging. It is a really unique contest with less structured judging (and feedback) than the standard BJCP contest. To be eligible for the overall win each brewer is required to submit three beers. The 10 tables are each presented with four beers for each round with no stylistic consistency, and each judge gets three bottle caps to vote for their three favorite beers. The beer that receives the fewest votes is eliminated. If any of your three beers are eliminated, so are you!

For the final round of the night each table gets the complete flight from two remaining brewers head-to-head. This whittles the 20 remaining brewers down to 10. The goal is to showcase your range of brewing skill, so when picking between equally good flights the one with more variety (saison, Baltic porter, and coffee IPA) is preferred over limited range (APA,  IPA, and DIPA). The next morning I really was honored to participate in the best of show where along with Gordon, Marshall, and a few local judges to select the top three brewers. The winner didn't quite have the variety we were looking for, all were pale fruit beers (rhubarb Berliner, apricot sour, and raspberry saison), but they were of a higher quality than any of the other entrants.


Saturday was another unique event, MarchFest: a beer and music festival at Founders Park where each of the 16 participating breweries releases a new beer at the festival. It included a few excellent hoppy beers (Eddyline Black IPA and Moa Riverside Recliner) considering their freshness. Rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd, although the full pint option for pours may have had something to do with that!

During the first few hours of the event I brewed a version of Nu Zuland Saison with Jamie McQuillan. He's a sour specialist, reigning NZ Homebrewer of the year (including the top beer with a 49 with his riff on my no-boil Berliner with plums), and as I found out the next day winner of BrewMania 2017! He's also in the process of opening a brewery (New Zealand is much less strict, so he'll be able to essentially sell homebrew at first).

It was my first time brewing on a Grainfather. Surprisingly compact, and a smooth brew day considering we were out of our element and people were coming up to ask questions. We did neglect to realize it had an automatic 60 minute boil shutoff timer which threw off our timing (not bad for the worst mistake the first time brewing on a new rig). Malt was mostly local Gladfield Pilsner, which was surprisingly toasty. Without a way to reseal the 100 g of Nelson Sauvin for late-fermentation dry hopping we opted for only two additions, hop-stand and brew day dry hop. We pitched Belle Saison along with the dregs from two bottles of each of our homebrew. Excited to hear how it turns out when they hold the tasting between our batch and the ones brewed by Gordon and Marshall!

New Zealand Home-Brewers Conference

My last full-day was spent talking and listening at NZHC. Nice to attend a homebrewing conference in English after Florianopolis, Brazil and Drammen, Norway (my Portuguese and Norwegian are not strong). I presented about the advantages homebrewers (BeerSmith podcast on the same topic) have over commercial brewers to the general session, and then about sour beers to a break-out (along with head brewers David Nicholls of Moa and Jason Bathgate of MacLeod). Good response, and glad that sours are taking hold! As several people mentioned, New Zealand is still a few years behind the US, but that gap is closing quickly!

It was nice to catch-up with my friend Sean Gugger, who took some time to come to Nelson in the midst of nine month working at Batch Brewing in Sydney (not to be confused with Bach Brewing in New Zealand). He met up with us at the after-party at The Free House where I had one of the best hoppy beers of the trip, Behemoth 6 Foot 5 from Andrew Childs who had sat on the Going Pro panel earlier in the day. Also had fun chatting with Annika Naschitzki of Tiamana, a passionate German brewer.

With our ten days spent we started the long trip home. With the International Date Line working in our favor we landed in San Francisco 8 hours before we took off from Auckland. As a weird side-note, being in the Southern Hemisphere for the vernal equinox meant that we'd been in all four seasons during a two week period: when we left DC it was winter and then arrived in New Zealand for the end of summer, by the time we left it was autumn and returned to spring.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Sensory Evaluation of Beer with Randy Mosher – BeerSmith Podcast #146

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 3:56pm

This week Randy Mosher joins me to discuss the second edition of his book “Tasting Beer” as well as sensory evaluation of beer, aroma, judging beer and more.

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (54:37)
  • Today my guest is Randy Mosher. Randy is author of the updated second edition of Tasting Beer as well as two of my favorite brewing books: Mastering Homebrew and Radical Brewing (Amazon Affiliate Links for books). Randy is also partner in two breweries in Chicago and runs as web site at RandyMosher.com
  • We start with a discussion of Randy’s activities including his two breweries he is partner with.
  • He talks about his new updated and revised edition of Tasting Beer which Randy just published.
  • We discuss the Cicerone program and how they use Randy’s book as a guide for it. We also introduce the concept of sensory evaluation including some of the complexities involved.
  • Randy discusses the vocabulary around beer flavors and how truly limiting it can be.
  • We talk about some of the qualities we look for in a beer.
  • Randy shares his thoughts on taste including the basic ones (sweet, sour, bitter, salty) and the new ones including Umami and Kokumi.
  • He discusses aroma and how aroma and taste get melded in our brains to produce something we call “flavor”. He also explains how the average human can distinguish perhaps as many as a trillion different and unique flavors.
  • We talk about the presentation of beer and how important it is to enjoying a good beer.
  • He provided some advice on tasting and judging beer.
  • We discuss food and beer pairing and how much the food we eat affects the perception of the beer we drink.
  • Randy briefly describes the craft beer revolution and some of the new trends in craft brewing.
  • We talk about his last chapter “A Sip Beyond”, and Randy shares his closing thoughts.

Thanks to Randy Mosher for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!

iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Brew Dudes Community Brew

Brew Dudes - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 6:41pm

Hey gang – since we have been doing some homebrew swapping over the past few years, we had an idea to get more people involved. The silly idea is to come up with a community brew plan. We are putting out this recipe and date in hopes that you will join us in this endeavor. […]

Read the original article Brew Dudes Community Brew and other Brew Dudes posts.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Camlock vs Tri-clover vs Blichmann vs Quick Connect NPT Fittings for Home Brewing

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 12:36pm

Tri-Clover Fitting

This week we take a look at the most common connectors used for home brewing systems on pumps, kettles, and fermenters. I compare Tri-clover, Camlock, Blichmann NPT and Quick Connect options for your brewing systems. We look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The 1/2″ NPT Standard Connection and 1/2″ Silicone Tube

Lets start by saying that the vast majority of brewing equipment uses a threaded 1/2″ NPT connector. This includes most brewing pumps, most ball and butterfly valves and also most homebrew size brew pots. This connection, slightly smaller in diameter than your average garden hose, works the same way – you screw some kind of connector or hose on it just as you would your garden hose.

NPT Fitting on Pump

The NPT connector is not inherently sanitary, so you do need to remove, clean and sanitize it if it is used on the “cold” side for brewing. Hot side connections such as boil pots and most pumps are less of an issue, though you still should do some periodic cleaning as the NPT connectors can still collect some dirt and mold.

To connect homebrew componets together the standard is 1/2″ silicone tubing. This tubing is highly temperature resistant, flexible and easy to clean. It also gives a good flow rate – up to 8 gallons/min (24 l/min) with a good quality wort pump.

Since the NPT connector and silicone tube is the standard, in most cases we are adding Tri-Clover, Camlock or quick connect adapters to fit either the NPT connector or tubing.

Blichmann Quick Connect

The Blichmann Quick Connect

I’ll start with the Blichmann Quick Connect since its the simplest to explain. It is a stainless 1/2″ NPT female adapter with a plastic sleeve, usually with a 1/2″ barb connector on the other side that inserts into the 1/2″ silicone tubing. It also has a small rubber O-ring that seals the connection. The connector is simply screwed onto the male NPT fitting on your kettle or pump, much like you would a garden hose.

Despite the fact that the connector is not that “quick” since you have to screw it in place every time, it does have some advantages. First I really like the plastic sleeve that lets you connect it without gloves even when the fitting is hot. Most of the other fittings on something like a boil kettle can get really hot and burn you if you don’t wear gloves when changing them out.

Second, the gasket seals well with minimal effort, so you can connect and disconnect without much risk of a leak. Finally, when you remove the NPT connector, you effectively expose the threads to cleaning, so you don’t necessarily need to do a separate cleaning of these parts – just remove the hoses and clean as you normally would. These are the connectors that came with my BrewEasy system and I still use them as this particular system does not require many tube changes during brewing.

Camlock Quick Connect

The Camlock Quick Connect

Camlocks are used in many industrial applications and consist of a male and female connector with a seal, and are available in stainless steel. The female connector has two levers on it which you pull back or forward to seal or release. The levers lock the male end in place so it won’t come loose. For home brewing applications, I purchased a set of male conectors with 1/2″ NPT sockets I could attach to my pump and kettles, and a set of female to 1/2″ barb connectors to use with the 1/2″ tubing.

The advantage of Camlocks is they are very quick to connect and disconnect and the locking mechanism provides a solid water-tight seal. They are much faster to connect than screw-on NPT connectors. The disadvantage is that they do get hot on locations like the brew kettle, so you do need to wear gloves when handling hot connections. Also because one end has an NPT screw adapter on it, you still need to occasionally clean that threaded NPT adapter out as its not sanitary.

Tri-Clover Fittings

Tri-Clover Connector, Seal, Clamp

Tri-Clover fittings are sanitary and are widely used in commercial brewing applications as well as many food/beverage applications. The connection consists of two tri-clover connectors, a separate silicone seal, and a tri-clamp that holds the three pieces together. They are available on some stainless homebrew fermenters where sanitation is important as well as commercial level brewing equipment.

The problem with Tri-clover fittings is that they are really only sanitary if they are welded in place. I mentioned that a typical homebrew kettle, valve or pump has an NPT connector, so if you add an NPT to tri-clover adapter you really don’t have a sanitary connection anymore. You can purchase kettles, pumps and fermenters that have welded Tri-clover connections on them, but they typically are much more expensive.

Another problem with tri-clover fittings is that they are anything but “quick”. To connect two fittings, you need to hold both fittings in place along with the silicone seal while wrapping the clamp around it at the same time. Two hands will get the job done eventually, but its best if you have three hands to hold it all in place while you connect things up.

Like Camlocks, they also absorb heat, so a tri-clover kettle is going to get pretty hot and likely require that you have gloves to reconnect it. Finally tri-clover fittings are generally more expensive than other alternatives. Since each connection requires four pieces (two connectors, a gasket, and a clamp) they are not as cheap as NPT or Camlock connects.

In my opinion they are best used on the “cold” side of brewing – for example welded onto a stainless fermenter where sanitation is important and you don’t have a lot of hose changes to make.

Pneumatic Quick Connect

Other (Pneumatic) Quick Connects

In addition to the options above many homebrew stores sell “other” quick connects that are not camlocks, and are actually made for applications like air hoses. These typically have a male and female end like the camlock, but don’t have locking arms and instead have a ring you push to release/lock the two ends.

These connectors have the same advantages/disadvantages of camlocks, including a typical NPT adapter connection, heating up of the connector and quick-connect ease of use. I personally prefer the camlock for the positive locking mechanism, but these in practice are very similar to a camlock.

Which Connector is Right For You?

Triclover Fittings for Racking

Not surprisingly, picking the right connectors for your brewing system is highly dependent on your system itself. For example on my Blichmann BrewEasy, I actually only have to change one hot-side connector when brewing – moving the pump output from the mash tun to my plate chiller during the boil. Since I have 60-90 minutes during the boil to set up my chiller, having a quick connect is not a huge deal for me, so I use the Blichmann connectors for the hot side of my system so I can handle them without gloves.

If you have a three tier brewing system with two pumps where you may actually make and break several connections while brewing, it may be more important to have quick connects like the Camlock installed so you can change things over quickly.

It may also be perfectly appropriate to mix connectors. For example I have a SS Brewtech fermenter which has tri-clover fittings on it. So I have one special hose that connects from my Therminator plate chiller (an NPT fitting) to a Tri-clover fitting so I can chill and fill the fermenter from the bottom. I have another special tube with a tri-clover on one end and keg connector on the other end that I use to pressure-transfer beer from my fermenter to fill a keg.

Whatever you choose, pick something that is easy to clean and works for your system! Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Medusa Hops SMaSH Beer Tasting

Brew Dudes - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 6:57pm

Hey home brewing fans! Welcome to another post revealing the secrets of a new hop variety. This time around, we explore the mysteries of Medusa hops. I brewed a one gallon SMaSH beer (single malt and single hop) and we taped this video with our tasting thoughts and notes. So, Medusa hops are a branded […]

Read the original article Medusa Hops SMaSH Beer Tasting and other Brew Dudes posts.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Australian NEIPA: Spunding, and Dry Yeast

The Mad Fermentationist - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 3:25pm
Another hoppy beer... another New England IPA! My goal for this batch was a bright hop-saturated fruit-bomb, or at least a beer to replace the terrible, oxidized mess of an IPA I had on tap! Luckily passivating my Ss BrewBucket Brewmaster with 5X-concentrated StarSan solution (as they suggest) before this batch was successful. Neither the stainless steel nor beer discolor as they did during the previous IPA fermentation. Now that I know the fermentor can produce good beer, I'll say that I like being able to monitor/control the beer temperature via the thermowell, but wish it had an 8 gallon capacity instead of 7. Despite a few drops of FermCap S I still had to clean krausen and hops out of the airlock a couple times during the first two days of fermentation.

To make this batch as New-England-y as possible I selected two fruity Australian varieties, Galaxy and Vic Secret. I've found Galaxy to be one of the least consistent hops (Bad: Galaxy-Hopped DIPA, Good: Galaxy Wit), but thankfully these smelled wonderfully of passion fruit on opening. This was my first time brewing with Vic Secret, and they struck me as a slightly milder version of Galaxy with more herbal notes. I didn't realize until after brewing that this is the same combination of hops in Avery Raja.

My usual process for NEIPAs is to dry hop around day three/four and then again post-fermentation cold in the keg. For this batch I dry hopped on brew day when I pitched the yeast and again under pressure by racking the beer into a flushed keg when it reached 65% apparent attenuation. I set my spunding valve to 13 PSI and allowed the keg to sit warm for 12 days while I was in New Zealand. I would have aimed closer to 25 PSI, but the markings on the valve are unreliable and I wanted to minimize the risk of over-carbonation. Dry hopping during conditioning has two potential benefits for hoppy beers. First, by holding pressure in the beer less volatile hop aromatics will bubble out of solution (carried by the same CO2 that we want to carry them up to our nose from the glass). The yeast will also scavenge any oxygen introduced during kegging, hopefully extending the life of the beer (although the longer time warm could sacrifice hop aroma). You could accomplish the same goal without a spunding valve if you were confident in what your FG would be... .001 drop from fermentation produces .5 volumes of CO2.

The last unique feature of the recipe was the SafAle S-04 English ale strain (Whitbread?). I'd heard good results things about S-04 in NEIPAs from Ed Coffey. I also wanted to see if it was an option for brewers without regular access to liquid yeasts. Happy to report it does a nice job, a suitable choice even if you have access to 1318, but don't want to make a starter. There are a few other dried English strains that might be worth trying as well!

The other half of the wort is fermenting with my house saison blend and 10 oz of rosemary honey, minus the dry hops for now.

Queensland NE-Australian-IPA

Smell – A wonderfully saturated hop aroma with tropical fruit and a bit of resin. Really pushes fermentation-adjusted aromatics without the more forceful/raw aromatics of a post-fermentation addition. Despite 8 oz of dry hops the aroma doesn’t leap out of the glass (could be yeast or hop variety).

Appearance – Hazy without murk or particulate, not far from a pale hefeweizen. Head retention is alright, but not as dense or thick as some previous batches of NEIPA.

Taste – Bitterness is soft, closer to 40 IBUs than 70 on my palate. Nice long finish of saturated hoppy goodness: indistinct tropical and light fresh pine. Slight yeastiness and doughiness of fresh bread. All the flavors I want are there, but the hop volume is lower than I expected. No diacetyl or other noticeable off-flavors.

Mouthfeel – Really soft mouthfeel thanks to the mild bitterness and lack of harshness from boil hops. Chloride, protein from the oats, and higher FG all contribute as well. Moderate carbonation, still climbing a bit as it sits cold and on pressure.

Drinkability & Notes – New England IPA taken to its softest and juiciest. Easy to drink with enough hop character to bring me back for a second pour, but it isn’t as intense as my favorite batches. The S-04 performed admirably, although it seems to get in the way a bit compared to 1318. It doesn’t pop with a unique character like Conan or Sacch Trois either. A solid choice, but not a new first choice.

Changes for Next Time – Despite the 70 (calculated) IBUs from the hop-stand, it could use 10-20 IBUs from an early-boil charge. Bitterness is a much more complex topic than it seemed when I started brewing, my friend Scott Janish posted a great summary of recent literature discussing how dry hopping tends to pull beer towards 25 IBUs. I could certainly see jumping the cold/carbonated beer to a serving keg with a third dose of dry hops…


Batch Size: 6.00 gal
SRM: 3.6
IBU: 69.2
OG: 1.064
FG: 1.018
ABV: 6.0%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74%
Boil Time: 60 Mins

71.4% - 10 lbs Rahr Brewer's 2-Row
14.3% - 2 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
14.3% - 2 lbs Bob's Red Mill Quick Steel Cut Oats

Sacch Rest: 45 min @ 156F

2.00 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 14.8% AA) @ 30 min Hop Stand
2.00 oz Vic Secret (Pellets, 17.8% AA) @ 30 min Hop Stand
4.00 oz Vic Secret (Pellets, 17.8% AA) @ Primary Dry Hop
4.00 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 14.8% AA) @ Conditioning Dry Hop

8 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
5.5 g Gypsum @ Mash
1 tsp 10% Phosphoric Acid @ Mash
.5 Whirlfloc @ Boil 5 min
.5 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient @ Boil 5 min

SafAle S-04

Recipe scaled to be brewed as is.

Brewed 3/11/17

Mashed with 3 gallons distilled, 4.5 gallons DC filtered, 8 g CaCl 5.5 g gypsum, 1 tsp of phosphoric acid. pH 5.44. Sparged with 1.5 gallons distilled. Hops are 2016 harvest.

Collected 7 gallons of 1.060 wort.

Chilled to 68F.

Pitched 5.75 gallons of wort with S-04 directly (not rehydrated) plus 4 oz of Vic Secret, loose.

After 48 hours it reached 70F internal. Moved downstairs to 55 ambient to slow the yeast and help the hops drop out.

3/15/17 Kegged with with 4 oz of bagged/weighted Galaxy. Current gravity 1.022. Attached the spunding valve after purging and pressurizing the head-space.

3/27/17 Reached 13 PSI, FG 1.018. Chilled in kegerator and attached to CO2.

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Sorachi Ace Hops IPA Tasting Notes

Brew Dudes - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 6:15pm

Hi there – we’re tasting an IPA that I brewed that focuses on the Japanese hop Sorachi Ace. Now I have brewed a wheat beer using these hops before, but now it’s all about the IPA. Watch this video to learn more about this beer. So this beer is the home half of a home […]

Read the original article Sorachi Ace Hops IPA Tasting Notes and other Brew Dudes posts.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Pairing Beer and Food with Sean Paxton – BeerSmith Podcast #145

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 9:04am

Sean Paxton, aka “The Homebrew Chef” joins me this week to discuss the pairing of beer and food and how he plans entire multi-course meals around various beers.

Subscribe on iTunes to Audio version or Video version or on Google Play

Download the MP3 File – Right Click and Save As to download this mp3 file

Topics in This Week’s Episode (52:23)
  • Today my guest is Sean Paxton, also known as “The Homebrew Chef”. Sean is a professional beer chef, author and runs a very nice food-beer pairing website at HomebrewChef.com. Sean joins me this week to discuss pairing food with beer.
  • Sean tells us about some of his new projects including the building of his online cookbook/recipe site for beer at HomebrewChef.com
  • We discuss the anatomy of a beer dinner and some recent examples Sean has been the chef for.
  • Sean explains “The Paxton Project” which is a several year old Imperial Quad beer and how he got involved in the project with 10 barrel.
  • We talk about his food pairing selection for an Imperial Quad (duck) and how he prepared that.
  • Sean shares how he approaches pairing each course of the meal with beer
  • We talk about how he tries to reflect the flavors in the beer rather than complementing them when building a meal.
  • Sean shares why he likes to cook with beer and also the ingredients of the beer when building a meal.
  • He shares his latest project – the online web site and offers a special code ‘beersmith’ you can use at HomebrewChef.com to get a discount on memberships.
  • Sean provides his closing thoughts.

Thanks to Sean Paxton for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!

iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

Thoughts on the Podcast?

Leave me a comment below or visit our discussion forum to leave a comment in the podcast section there.

Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or BeerSmith Radio

You can listen to all of my podcast episodes streaming live around the clock on our BeerSmith Radio online radio station! You can also subscribe to the audio or video using the iTunes links below, or the feed address

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and my newsletter (or use the links in the sidebar) – to get free weekly articles on home brewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #17

Brew Dudes - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 6:12pm

Our beer swap game is strong! We have now swapped beer with 17 other homebrewers around the world. How many people have you swapped your beer with, huh? Well, we have it going on and you should see what we’re tasting now. Check out our latest homebrew swap video: Sam from Washington State sent us […]

Read the original article Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #17 and other Brew Dudes posts.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Skunky Beer – Light-Struck Off Flavors in Home Brewing

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 1:03pm

A common off flavor in both commercial and home brewed beers is a skunky “light-struck” flavor and aroma. It can give your beer a strong skunky aroma and make it most unpleasant to drink.

The Cause of Skunky Beer

Skunky beer occurs when beer is exposed to light. Some of the compounds in hops remain photosensitive after brewing. Specifically isohumulones, which are a primary bittering compound in the finished beer will turn into MBT (shorthand for methyl butane thiol) if exposed to light. MBT is remarkably similar in chemical composition to the spray of a skunk and humans can detect it at aroma thresholds in the single parts per billion.

MBT is common in some commercial brands including those in imported in light colored bottles like Corona. This is due to primarily to packaging but also longer transit and storage times that tend to run the risk of exposure to ultraviolet light.

Clear bottles are the worst possible packaging, as exposure to direct sunlight can start the process of creating MBT in a matter of minutes. Dark or opaque bottles work best for protecting your beer as they reduce the beer’s exposure to light. The best prevention is to store your beer in a completely opaque container such as a stainless steel keg.

The next line of defense is of course to store your beer properly – preferably in a dark box and well away from any sunlight. When serving beer, don’t leave exposed to sunlight of any kind. Better to keep it in a closed cooler than leave it exposed to light even for a few minutes. Don’t serve your bottles in a bucket full of ice, for instance, as it will expose it to sunlight.

Those are some quick tips for avoiding skunky beer! Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing. Also check out the How to Brew Video series I shot with John Palmer if you want to learn more about all grain brewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Milkshake IPA: Mango Vanilla Hopsicle

The Mad Fermentationist - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 3:13pm
Despite the excessive amount of homebrew I have on tap and in bottles, I still drink commercial beer. It’s been years since I lined up at for a bottle release or bought a case of anything, but I buy singles and flights frequently. Rarely do I go out of my way for a hyped bourbon barrel Russian imperial stout or a classic double IPA. The code has largely been cracked for both of these. Made well they are delicious, but it is rare that I have one that is better than any I have had before. Not saying there aren't similar beers like a Spanish brandy barrel RIS or honey DIPA that aren't deliciously unique! What gets me excited is the interesting takes, surprising ingredient combinations, and passionate focus on a neglected style or process. If the results aren’t to my tastes, nothing lost, but sometimes I get to enjoy something that I wouldn't have brewed.

The “milkshake” IPA concept pioneered by Omnipollo and Tired Hands is just such an idea. NEIPA taken to the logical extreme with fruit and vanilla. The water treatment, hop varieties, yeast strains, and resulting biotransformation used for NEIPAs often produces a flavor and appearance reminiscent of juice. Occasionally a hint of vanilla from the yeast too (RVA 132 Manchester especially). That said, the concept seemed silly, luckily a sample of Tired Hands Mango Double Milkshake IPA at a tasting suggested otherwise. The fruit and hops worked together beautifully with a lingering tail of vanilla.

For the base beer I didn’t stray too far from my usual NEIPA routine, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to add honey malt. It was featured in an IPA recipe from Tree House head brewer Nate Lanie, and in this case the added sweetness and malty-oomph seemed like a match. I went up higher than I ever have on chloride (~200 PPM) to push body.

For hops I opted for Experimental Stone Fruit, which were hanging out in my freezer courtesy of Yakima Valley Hops. They didn’t provide a spec sheet, but the name and aroma both suggested peach and apricot (without that aspirin thing that often comes with Amarillo). I repitched Omega HotHead (from Summer Kveik) for orange aromatics, but tried to temper it by lowering the fermentation temperature. Fruit was frozen mango, the selection owing to my split batch on fresh and frozen. Finally half of a split vanilla bean three days before kegging. I debated adding a whole bean but I didn't want to overwhelm the other flavors.

I skipped flour and green apple puree in the boil. I have no issue with haze when it is created as part of the brewing process in the search for aroma/flavor/mouthfeel, but I didn't want to go out of my way to create murk. The original Milkshake was a tongue-in-cheek response to this review by Jason Alström.

Lactose is a common addition to this emerging style for mild sweetness and creamy body, but I wanted to share my creation with a couple vegan friends. I’d also been scared off by the intense sweetness of Aslin Mind the Hop with Passionfruit and Vanilla, one of the best aromas of any beer I've tried, but the flavor was too saccharine for me. If you want lactose, save it to add to taste at kegging. To replace the lost creaminess I’m pouring it on beer gas! Here's a homebrewed Orange Milkshake IPA with a pound of lactose from the fantastic Meek Brewing Co. blog.

The other half of this batch fell off a cliff, so I won't subject you to a full write-up/tasting. It was identical through run-off, but received WLP007 and three 2 oz dose BRU-1 for dry hops. The color darkened compared to this one and tasted stale two weeks after brewing. It was the first batch fermented in my SS Brew Bucket. I glazed over the fact that the “periodic” passivation was supposed to include before the first use... "[I]ron ions can catalytically promote oxidative reactions.Brulosophy had a positive assessment of BRU-1, so I'm not totally writing the variety off! I have my second batch fermenting in the fermentor now with loads of Galaxy and Vic Secret after performing their prescribed acid treatment and air drying.

Mango Hopsicle

Smell – Mango and hops are balanced, more a hoppy fruit beer than a fruited IPA. Mango creamsicle nose. The fruit and citrus from the hops and yeast keep it from being mango alone. Glad I didn’t add a third dose of dry hops in the keg, it doesn’t need the final hit of raw/green hop aroma.

Appearance – Of course it turned out nearly clear. This is the first pale beer I’ve served on beer gas with the stout faucet. The cascading bubbles don't pop like they do against a dark background, sort of goes from hazy to clear. Nice dense white head.

Taste – Plenty of mango, with the vanilla giving it an almost sherbet flavor. Hops and yeast are somewhat tame, peach and orange. Lingering bitterness, might be better balanced if there were lactose. The vanilla adds some perceived sweetness, but it still comes across as a pretty dry beer.

Mouthfeel – A bit light after the creamy head disappears, not the rich-full body that some other examples of the style have. Light carbonation, no surprise. Happy with carbonating and serving on beer gas alone at 20 PSI.

Drinkability & Notes – It’s a fun beer. Despite skipping the lactose the vanilla plays surprisingly well with the fruity character. I’ll be revisiting something like this again eventually!

Changes for Next Time – Add lactose, up the vanilla bean (time or amount), and reduce or eliminate the bittering hop addition.


Batch Size: 5.5 gal
SRM: 5.4
IBU: 74
OG: 1.060
FG: 1.012
ABV: 6.3%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71%
Boil Time: 100 Mins

79.2% - 10 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
13.9% - 1.75 lbs Briess Red Wheat Malt
4.0% - .50 lbs Gambrinus Honey Malt
2.0 % - .25 lbs Bairds Carastan
1.0 % - .125 lbs Weyermann Acidulated

Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 157F

.50 oz - Columbus (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ 60 min.
.50 oz - Galena (Pellets, 11.00% AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 oz - BRU-1 (Pellets, 16.00% AA) @ Whirlpool (30 min)
1.00 oz  - Experimental Stone Fruit (Pellets, 13.3% AA) @ Whirlpool (30 min)
2.00 oz  - Experimental Stone Fruit (Pellets, 13.3% AA) @ Dry Hop (Brew Day)
2.00 oz  - Experimental Stone Fruit (Pellets, 13.3% AA) @ Dry Hop (Day 3)

5 lbs Frozen Mangoes @ Primary (Day 6)
.50 Vanilla Bean @ Primary (Day 17)

OYL-057 Omega HotHead

Brewed 1/21/17

Extended boil because my gravity was a bit lower than expected.

Chilled to 63F

1.5 L decanted starter of Omega Hothead pitched into half with 2 oz of Experimental Stone Fruit hops. Left at 67F ambient to ferment.

1/24/17 Added second dose of dry hops.

1/27/17 Added 5 lbs of frozen 365 non-organic frozen mangoes to the Hothead half.

2/7/17 Added half of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise.

2/10/17 Kegged the Milkshake half.
Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #16

Brew Dudes - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 1:15pm

Sometimes you get a lot of beer and it’s sent to you so that you can figure out what’s wrong with it. We like taking on the challenge and the more samples we get, the better off we’ll be. Take a look at this video we made about our latest homebrew swap – number 16 […]

Read the original article Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #16 and other Brew Dudes posts.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Aeration Wands (Pure Oxygen) for Beer Brewing

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 3:39pm

This week I take a look at the Anvil Oxygenation Kit (aka Aeration wand) which lets you aerate your wort using pure oxygen without spending a ton of money. The oxygen wand is actually my favorite new brewing toy and I’ve used it on beer, meads, wines and cider with great results.

The Importance of Aeration

I’ve written extensively on how important aerating your wort before pitching your yeast is to for proper fermentation. Boiling removes most of the oxygen from the wort, and yeast cells need oxygen during the early “lag” phase when they are rapidly reproducing. Ideally you want to get 8-12 part per million (ppm) of oxygen in the wort before pitching your yeast. Having the proper oxygen level leads to faster startup, more robust yeast cell walls and less stress on the yeast.

While you can aerate your wort by shaking or injecting air using a small aquarium pump, neither of these methods will get you all the way up to the 8 ppm minimum needed. For that you need pure oxygen.

The Anvil Aeration Kit

For many years I put off purchasing an oxygen aeration system due to the high expense of buying an oxygen tank, regulator and aerator. However now many companies are producing “aeration wands” which are usually stainless steel tubes with a very fine (typically 0.5-1 micron) aerators at one end. These are immersed directly in the fermenter right before you pitch your yeast. In a relatively short time of 60-90 seconds you can reach the ideal 9-12 ppm for most worts, though a very high gravity wort (1.080 or higher) might take a little longer.

With the wand you purchase either with a standard oxygen regulator to use with a large oxygen tank, or a small oxygen regulator suitable for use with disposable oxygen tanks used in small welding kits. The disposable bottles sell for about $10 at Home Depot or Lowes. Note that these small bottles are not technically “food grade” oxygen so you may want to consider a small inline filter if you go with the small bottles. Also the small bottles only work for a few batches so if you brew a lot you may want to consider a commercial size oxygen tank.

Many vendors sell similar kits, but I went with the Anvil aeration kit from Blichmann (affiliate link) which is a very simple regulator, tubing and aeration wand. It is 100% stainless so you can immerse it in star-san or even boil it to sanitize if you like.

Using an Aeration Wand

I aerate my wort or must right before I pitch my yeast. All you need to do is attach the oxygen tank to the regulator, remembering that the small disposable tanks use a reverse thread so you need to turn them counterclockwise to tighten. Sanitize the wand so you don’t bring along any infections. Next immerse the want in the wort and slowly turn it up until you see light bubbling on the surface. I prefer to run mine at about this flow rate as most of the oxygen is going into the wort and not being blown out the top surface.

Unfortunately you don’t have a flow gauge on these simple systems so you need to guess a bit. John Blichmann recommended aerating for 60-90 seconds to get to 9-10 ppm unless I’m brewing a very large beer (or wine or mead) above 1.080 in which case I might run it 2 minutes. High gravity worts absorb the oxygen slower and also require more oxygen. I’ve also found references saying very high gravity worts/musts such as mead or wine might also benefit from a second oxygen addition within 12 hours.

And that’s it – just remove the wand, pitch your yeast and enjoy a healthy fermentation. Don’t forget to clean the wand thoroughly or even blow a little oxygen into your cleaning solution to make sure it hasn’t picked up any wort or must.

What About an Inline Aerator?

I did take a look at the various inline aerators that many vendors sell and are used in many commercial systems. These are typically fittings inserted into your wort transfer line that essentially aerate the wort as you are transferring it from the boiler to fermenter. To a large degree these have many of the same problems as the aeration wand as they typically don’t have a flow meter, and unless you know the flow rate for both your wort and oxygen tanks (like a commercial brewer might) its difficult to tell how much oxygen you are really adding. You also have the added complexity in assuring the aerator has been properly cleaned after use.

To me the oxygen wand seemed like a simpler solution for the average home brewer, and honestly I love this thing having used it on beer, mead, cider and wine up to 10 gal batches (38 liters) with good results! I can aerate wort in as little as 60-90 seconds and since I started using it my fermentations have started quickly and finished strong. For more challenging fermentations like high gravity beers, wines and meads proper aeration is critical for getting a good strong start.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post. Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Starting a Small Malt House with Dark Cloud Malting – BeerSmith Podcast #144

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 12:26pm

Jesse Kaiss and Danny Buswell from Dark Cloud Malt House join me this week to discuss their experiences starting up a small local malt house. Jesse and Danny are malting their own barley and selling it locally in central Maryland.

Subscribe on iTunes to Audio version or Video version or on Google Play

Download the MP3 File – Right Click and Save As to download this mp3 file

Topics in This Week’s Episode (58:42)
  • Today my guests are Jesse Kaiss and Danny Buswell from Dark Cloud Malthouse. Jesse and Danny have started their own very small malting house in central Maryland with a focus on selling to local breweries and distilleries.
  • Jesse explains how they both got started trying to build their own malt house.
  • Danny tells us some of the research involved including developing a plan.
  • We discuss where they set up the malt house and how they funded it.
  • Danny explains the challenges of finding locally grown barley as very little brewing barley is grown on the East Coast.
  • Jesse walks us through the basic malting process and how you turn raw barley into malt.
  • We discuss pneumatic malting, floor malting and turning the grains by hand.
  • Jesse tells us about how they dry out the grains after malting (commonly called kilning)
  • Danny shares the types of malt they created last season.
  • We discuss quantifying the quality of the finished malt as well as how the malts were received by local breweries.
  • Jesse explains their plans to expand production next year.
  • Danny shares some of the challenges they have faced in growing and scaling the business.
  • Jesse tells us about long term plans to grow their own barley to truly have a locally grown/produced malt.
  • We discuss future plans and closing thoughts.

Thanks to Jesse Kaiss and Danny Buswell for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!

iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

Thoughts on the Podcast?

Leave me a comment below or visit our discussion forum to leave a comment in the podcast section there.

Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or BeerSmith Radio

You can listen to all of my podcast episodes streaming live around the clock on our BeerSmith Radio online radio station! You can also subscribe to the audio or video using the iTunes links below, or the feed address

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and my newsletter (or use the links in the sidebar) – to get free weekly articles on home brewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Belgian Pale Ale Brewing Session and Tasting Notes

Brew Dudes - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 1:13pm

In the course of your homebrewing experience, you get accustomed to brewing your favorite styles or the ones you have had success with. Often once you get good at brewing a certain type of beer, you keep brewing it. Mike decided to break out of that rut and brew something he had never brewed before. […]

Read the original article Belgian Pale Ale Brewing Session and Tasting Notes and other Brew Dudes posts.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

How to Backsweeten Beer, Cider and Mead

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Tue, 03/07/2017 - 5:40pm

This week we take a look at backsweetening – a technique commonly used in mead and cider making but not well known by beer brewers. In certain cases, backsweetening can enhance the flavor of many beers, ciders and meads.

Why Backsweeten?

Backsweetening is a technique used in hard soda, meads and ciders, particularly those containing fruits. Unless you start your mead or cider at a very high gravity, they will tend to ferment very dry. Since most fruits are a balance of fruit flavor and sweetness, post fermentation they can be faint and lifeless. Even fruits that come through well in fermentation like berries and currants will taste strange as they tend to be tart, acidic, and tannic. Some residual sweetness is needed to balance the acidity and tannins in the fruit.

While the need to backsweeten beer is rare, it can be a useful technique when making certain fruit/dessert beers. Fruit sugars are highly fermentable and will ferment almost completely into alcohol. Again you may find either little to no fruit flavor in the finished beer, or else excessive acidity and tannins depending on the fruit used. I find that fruits like blackberries, tart cherries, raspberries, red and black currants, and boysenberries come through best in a fruit beer because they are high in acidity and tannins. However if you don’t balance that with some sweetness the fruit beer will be out of balance and either too acidic or lifeless.

The Backsweetening Process

Backsweetening is remarkably easy to do. First, allow your beer, mead or cider to fully ferment to completion. Most often I will also let it age out because balancing the flavor is important and you can’t really judge the finished flavor until your beverage has aged and is ready to drink. Then you add two additives (below) to stabilize the drink, wait a few days and then add whatever sugars, concentrates or sweeteners you want to balance the taste of your beverage.

Next we’re going to include two additives. The first one is sulfites in the form of Potassium Metabisulfite. You can purchase and crush up Campden tablets, which are made from this chemical, but I prefer the powedered form as it is easier to measure accurately. Potassium Metabisulfite is used extensively in wine and mead making to preserve and protect wines by adding free sulfites (SO2) to the finished wines. Contrary to popular belief it does not kill yeast cells or stop fermentation, though when used in combination with sorbates (below) it can inhibit future fermentation. It also suppresses bacteria and other beasts and as a side benefit provides some protection against oxidation. The proper dose for a 5 gal batch (19 l) is around 1/4 tsp (1.9 g) of Potassium Metabisulfite which is enough to add 50 ppm of SO2.

After adding the sulfites, you should wait 12 hours before adding the second additive which is Potassium Sorbate. Potassium Sorbate, used in combination with the sulfites will prevent yeast cells from reproducing. If you add the sorbates before the sulfites you run the risk of creating a “geranium” like off flavor that can’t be removed which is why I recommend adding the sulfites first, wait 12 hours and then add the sorbate. The recommended dose for Potassium Sorbate is 1/2 tsp per gallon or 2.5 tsp (8.2 g) of potassium sorbate for a 5 gal (19 liter) batch.

While the sulfites and sorbates work quickly I recommend waiting a day or two before adding in your sweeteners just to make sure the chemistry has stabilized. Also I should note that you do not want to try to add sulfites/sorbates while active fermentation is still ongoing as it won’t stop an ongoing active fermentation. If you then try to backsweeten you will probably find that your fermentation is still going, and could consume all of the sugar you just added.

Finding the Right Sugar Balance

After you have stabilized your beverage using sulfites and sorbates you need to backsweeten it “to taste”. For this reason I usually will age the beer/mead/cider out first so I have a clear idea of what it tastes like. Next I will pour some of the beverage into a measuring cup and start with a known quantity like 500 ml. Now I will measure out my sugars, whether it be honey, cane sugar or some other sweetener, and slowly add measured quantities to the cup. When I get to the right balance of sweetness, I will then note the amount of sugar and beverage used and scale it up for the entire batch.

Alternately you can also make small samplers of 100ml each and add varying quantities of sugar to each. Then do a comparison between all of the cups to find which you like the best and then scale up to your batch size. For the final blend, transfer my batch to a bottling bucket where you can measure the final volumes accurately and get an even mix before kegging.

Keg – Don’t Bottle a Backsweetened Beverage!

This may be an obvious point, but backsweetening really only works for kegged beers. The problem is that once you backsweeten the beer it has a bunch of sugar in it so there is no way to naturally carbonate it in the bottle without kicking off fermentation again and potentially creating a bottle bomb. So if you want sparkling cider, mead or carbonated beer you are basically locked into kegging it and then force carbonating it. Now you could potentially bottle from the keg using a counter-pressure filler or Beer Gun, but again some caution is requires for long term storage as there is the potential for referementation and bottle bombs.

Many still meads and ciders are backsweetened and bottled. I would personally cap these using a cork as a cork offers some pressure relief since it will be pushed back out of the bottle well before the bottle itself fails. It may still create a mess if fermentation starts again but at least it won’t create an exploding bottle.

Hopefully you enjoyed this week’s tip. Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

HotHead, Juniper, and Right Proper Hyperborea

The Mad Fermentationist - Mon, 03/06/2017 - 4:06pm
I hope that people get something from my talks at homebrew festivals around the world, because I certainly benefit from the arrangement! My trip to Norway for the 2016 Homebrewers Weekend in Drammen was enlightening on many fronts, but it was the introduction to kveik that has proved the most valuable. Kveik is true farmhouse yeast, with the now commercially available strains passed between local brewers up until only a few years ago. While I enjoyed the test batch with the cultures I brought back, I wanted to try the traditional combination of kveik with juniper and smoke. With the light acidity of those test batches, I decided to buy a fresh pitch of the orange-scented heat-loving Voss culture from Omega Labs, HotHead.

Traditionally (as Lars Garshol extensively documented) juniper branches, not just the berries, were an indispensable and underappreciated component of traditional brewing across Europe. This is annoying as berries are easy to buy and store, while branches are not. As fate would have it the Eastern Red Cedar in my backyard is in actuality Juniperus virginiana, Virginia juniper! Not the first time I've turned to one of the four trees on our property (mulberry, the others are oak and sour cherry).

I loosely based the amount of Eastern Red Cedar tips on the Sahti recipe in Homebrewer's Almanac (written by the brewers and foragers of Scratch Brewing). It is one of the most inspiring brewing books I've read in years! I enjoyed samples of their beers at GABF a few years ago enough that I'm considering making the four hour drive down to Ava, Illinois when I visit Indianapolis for the next BYO Boot Camp in November 2017. I backed down on their flame-out addition to leave room for the yeast and smoke.

Anytime you forage for brewing ingredients (or anything) make a positive identification of what you are harvesting. I contacted a local arborist to confirm what I had growing. Given the pictures and ranges I saw online I was pretty sure, but pretty sure isn't something to risk your health on!

I'd been looking for an excuse to hang out with Blane, who is opening Sinistral Brewing in Manassas, Virginia. We brewed on the 15 gallon electric system in his garage. He was into the weird idea despite not loving smoked beers, and luckily enjoyed the results. We'll see if it was enough for him to ever brew something like it commercially! We were joined by his friend Carlos, who had foraged for local juniper before to brew sahti (not to mention malted quinoa, and had strong opinions on brewing with corn and chiles - someone I need to brew with again!).

Summer Kveik

Smell – When it was young, orange from the yeast was the primary aroma. Over the last couple months stonefruit has overtaken with the citrus. "Peach gummy rings" as a couple friends described it. Fresh juniper has a less singular more green aroma than the berries, a little more spruce than gin. Smoke is smooth and woody, not phenolic or sharp.

Appearance – I’ve been jokingly calling this one New England Kveik given the glowing cloudy orange-juice body. Head retention is decent, not great. Given some experiments with juniper teas I was expecting more color, but the lower ratio of tree to liquid prevented that.

Taste – Zesty orange, apricot, and fresher herbaceous juniper. I was going for a winter beer… clearly I missed on that! The smoke is firm but fleeting, which works well with the bright fruity flavors. Balanced, smooth, minimal bitterness, but enough to keep it from tasting candied (like my Spruce-Grapefruit India Pale Gruit). I don’t pick anything distinctly rye, but it has a rounded malt flavor likely contributing. Mellow sweetness in the finish.

Mouthfeel – Lighter body than I intended, partly because we undershot the gravity by .010. Medium carbonation keeps things moving.

Drinkability & Notes – It is weird for a smoked tree-flavored beer to be quenching and crushable, but it is! One of the strangest and most intriguing beers I’ve brewed. Authentic? Likely not, but I enjoy adapting flavors and ingredients rather than slavishly recreating.

Changes for Next Time – For a more authentic result I’d move all of the juniper to the HLT and do a longer infusion. I’d opt for a Bohemian Dark (or Munich) for the entire base in place of the Golden Promise. I would also go darker on the Carared maybe CaraMunich II, and add a touch of Carafa as I was originally planning. Not that it would be a better beer, just more in line with my original target. Also makes an interesting blend is the citrusy gose with smoked sea salt on tap next to it.

I brewed Kodachrome Dream(ing) with my friend Nathan at the Right Proper brewpub in Shaw a couple years ago. For our second collaboration (and the first at the Brookland production house) we wanted to brew something in the same vane, although more inspired by Alu by Norse (a small amount makes it to the US). Jacob McKean the founder of Modern Times was planning a trip to DC, so we roped him into the plan.

After tasting my batch, Nathan wanted to tone down the assertive fruit flavors from the yeast. As a result he blended the HotHead (harvested from my batch - strangely trusting) with US-05 and lowered the fermentation temperature to 70F. In search of increased maltiness and color, he added CaraAroma and Carafa. He also wanted a more traditional juniper flavor, so we added juniper berries near the end of the boil in addition to 15 lbs of juniper branches at 190F in the HLT overnight for 24 bbls.

Nathan named the resulting beer after a mythical people of the article circle, the Hyperborea. Kegs will be available in DC, Virginia, Maryland, and New York! If you try it, let me know what you think! Sunday March 12 Nathan will be brewing a Nordic IPA with Stone, Pen Druid, and metal band Sunn O))), feel free to stop by the brewery around 1 PM and say hello! Both beers should be on tap through CBC next month!

Right Proper Hyperborea

Smell – Brighter than you’d expect for a dark/smoked beer. Mild generic citrus and green-herbal. Light phenolic smoke, the Briess Cherrywood Smoked gives it some sharpness. Touch of toast. Not distinctly juniper from the berries.

Appearance – Fantastic head retention, at least partly thanks to the flaked oats. Really dense, off-white. The body is reddish-brown, and pretty cloudy… likely again partly thanks to the oats.

Taste – Balanced depth between the combination of toasty-smoke and yeasty-juniper fruit. The Munich and dark malts serve as a malty bridge between the smoke and the fruit in a way that my beer is missing. Minimal hop bitterness. Nice lingering herbal-smoke melding.

Mouthfeel – Medium body, light tannic drying. Carbonation seemed a bit higher in the growler than it was on tap at the brewery.

Drinkability & Notes – For a beer with so many components it really falls into place. Doesn’t quite hit the oomph and richness of Alu, but not far off! Nathan was right to temper the Hothead with US-05 to prevent it from crushing the malt and juniper.

Summer Kveik Recipe

Batch Size: 16.00 gallons
SRM: 5.6
IBU: 14.5
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.012
ABV: 5.3%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Boil Time: 60 mins

32.3% - 10 lbs Simpsons Golden Promise
16.1% - 5 lbs Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Dark
16.1% - 5 lbs Weyermann Oak Smoked Wheat
16.1% - 5 lbs Weyermann Rye Malt
16.1% - 5 lbs Weyermann Beech Smoked Barley Malt
3.2% - 1 lbs Weyermann Carared

Sacch Rest - 50 min @ 156F

60 g Juniper Tips @ Hot Liquor Tank
60 g Juniper Tips @ Mash
60 g Juniper Tips @ 60 min
2.25 oz Mixture (Pellets, ~4.50% AA) @ 60 min
60 g Juniper Tips @ 30 min
1.00 oz Hallertau (Pellets, 4.50% AA) @ 15 min
90 g Juniper Tips @ 0 min


OYL-057 Omega HotHead

12/14/16 4 L stir-plate starter with 3 month old HotHead.

12/16/16 Crashed starter. Harvested Eastern Red Cedar from the tree in my backyard.

12/17/16 Brewed with Blane on his electric system. Dosed 60 g (three 12" twigs) into the HLT and then again into the mash, 60 min, and 30 min. 50% extra at flameout. Hops @ 60 min were a variety (Hallertau Tradition, EKG, Tett, Hallertau).

Chilled to ~95F and pitched half of the decanted starter into 5 gallons (my share). 5 gallons additional for Carlos, 5 gallons with the Voss culture from Norway (slightly lactic) for Blane.

Fermentation by 6 hours on the radiator insulated in a sweatshirt.

1/3/17 Kegged with 3.5 oz of table sugar into flushed keg.

Blane's version tested at 5.68% ABV.

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Thoughts On The AB InBev Keurig Partnership

Brew Dudes - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 12:10pm

Hey there – how are you doing? Mike had some thoughts about AB InBev Keurig partnership that he read about so we discuss them in this video. What’s Happening? So, as you probably know from homebrewing news sources such as ours, AB InBev has bought the homebrew shop Northern Brewer through their global incubator arm, […]

Read the original article Thoughts On The AB InBev Keurig Partnership and other Brew Dudes posts.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs