Homebrewing blogs

New Developments in IPAs with Mitch Steele – BeerSmith Podcast #194

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 2:27pm

This week Mitch Steele, author of the IPA book and brewmaster at New Realm Brewing joins me to discuss new India Pale Ale beer styles.

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 (51:32)
  • This week my guest is Mitch Steele. Mitch is author of the book IPAs: Brewing Techniques, and the Evolution of India Pale Ale (Amazon affiliate link) and also the COO and Brewmaster at New Realm Brewing Company. He was formerly the brewmaster at Stone.
  • Mitch briefly describes some of the new things happening at New Realm Brewing.
  • Mitch wrote the book on IPAs back in 2012 but a lot of things have changed – he describes some of the changes and new styles.
  • We discuss some sub-styles and trends that have taken over the IPA market.
  • Mich starts with a discussion of Brut IPAs and what makes them different from your average IPA.
  • We talk about how a Brut IPA is made including key ingredients and enzymes.
  • He explains some of the challenges in brewing a beer that comes down to nearly a zero finishing gravity.
  • Next we discuss the style of Hazy/Juicy IPAs (i.e. New England IPAs).
  • Mitch provides his thoughts on how to add the haze, as well as how to best enhance the fruity/juicy flavors.
  • We talk about achieving the proper balance in the IPA without creating vegetal/lawnmower flavors.
  • Mitch shares his closing thoughts on IPAs and where they are going next.
Sponsors

Thanks to Mitch Steele 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

Homebrewcon and the AHA with Gary Glass – BeerSmith Podcast #193

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 12:24pm

This week Gary Glass, Director of the American Homebrewers Association, joins me to discuss HomebrewCon and the state of home brewing.

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 (44:29)
  • This week my guest is Gary Glass. Gary is Director of the American Homebrewer’s Association which has approximately 45,000 members.
  • Gary is here to discuss the state of homebrewing and also the 2019 Homebrewcon coming up in late June.
  • We start with a discussion of some of the new things happening at the AHA.
  • Next we move to Homebrewcon which will be held this year in Providence, Rhode Island from 27-29 June 2019.
  • Gary tells us about this year’s keynote speaker as well as some of the 68 seminars that will be presented.
  • We discuss the National Homebrew Competition which is the world’s largest beer competition including over 9000 entries and how the final round of judging is done at Homebrewcon
  • Gary talks about the industry exhibition and social club that run throughout the conference.
  • We talk about the kickoff party with Craft breweries on Thursday night as well as my favorite event which is Club Night.
  • Gary wraps up the Homebrewcon discussion with a bit more about the final National Homebrew Awards presentation on Saturday.
  • We switch gears to discuss the state of US homebrewing and AHA, including the decline that started around 2014 and seems to be leveling out.
  • We talk about how the average homebrewer has changed a bit and also how we can all work to promote homebrewing as a hobby.
  • Gary shares his closing thoughts.
Sponsors

Thanks to Gary Glass 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

BeerSmith Memorial Day Sale – 48 Hours Only – Great Chance to Upgrade!

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Sun, 05/26/2019 - 10:20am

In honor of my fellow veterans who served and sacrificed so much, I’m running a 48 hour sale on BeerSmith 3 brewing software with a 20% discount on all desktop software levels

A Great Chance to Upgrade to BeerSmith 3

Many of you have not had a chance to upgrade from BeerSmith 2 to BeerSmith 3. I have some announcements about new online tools and features coming out next week, but now is a good time to get BeerSmith 3 Gold starting at $11.95/year.

Some very good reasons to Upgrade To (or Renew) BeerSmith 3:
Act Now – Sale Ends in 48 Hours (Tuesday Evening)!

The BeerSmith sale only runs through Monday and Tuesday and will end at midnight Eastern time on Tuesday 28 May. Get 20% off on your BeerSmith plan. If you are coming up for renewal (not on autorenew already) you can go to this link, log in and click on the renew button for your license.

Thank you again for your continued support!

Brad Smith, PhD
BeerSmith.com

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Viking Age Brew with Mika Laitinen – BeerSmith Podcast #192

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 3:52pm

Mika Laitinen joins me this week to discuss his new book Viking Age Brew about ancient farmhouse brewing techniques including Sahti beer.

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 (43:53)
  • This week my guest is Mika Laitinen, author of the new book Viking Age Brew (Amazon affiliate link) about Nordic and Sahti Farmhouse Ales.
  • We first discuss the tradition of farmhouse ales, which were traditionally brewed throughout Europe using local ingredients going back 1000 years.
  • Next Mika explains the Sahti farmhouse beer style which is native to Finland and Nordic countries, and has survived in Finland due to its association with certain festivals and ceremonies.
  • We explore the handful of commercial breweries that still brew Sahti.
  • We discuss some of the unique aspects of Sahti including its lack of hops, no boil during the brewing process, and use of herbs and rye malt.
  • Mika explains how Sahti was traditionally brewed in wooden vessels using hot stones. He also shares typical ingredients used including juniper.
  • We talk about the use of herbs, particularly juniper in the mash.
  • He shares with us techniques for brewing ancient farmhouse ales at home, along with a sample recipe.
  • Mika shares some resources where you can learn more on this topic.
Sponsors

Thanks to Mika Laitinen 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

How to Win Untappd (or any Online Beer Rating)

The Mad Fermentationist - Thu, 05/16/2019 - 6:57am
Like it or not, online beer ratings have been one of the big drivers of craft beer over the last 20 years. As a brewery, you don't need to cater to them, but high scores can drive sales and excitement.

I spent a good deal of time on BeerAdvocate during my first few years of beer drinking (2005-2008). Reading other's reviews was beneficial for my palate and beer vocabulary. I reviewed a couple hundred beers, which gave me confidence to "review" my homebrew for this blog. However, there were aspects of trying to track down all the top beers that made it not entirely healthy. Whether it was fear of missing out on a new release, or the thrill of the catch outweighing the enjoyment of actually drinking the beer. I  find how many new beers there are now freeing, there is no way to try them all, so I don't try!


Now that Untappd is the dominant player I'll glance at reviews (especially for one of our new releases), but I don't rate. It's rare to see a review that has much insight into the beer. Even the negative ones are rarely constructive. As an aside, I find it a bit weird when people in the local beer industry rate our offerings. Generally they are kind, but it just seems strange to publicly review "competing" products.

For four or five years I maintained a spreadsheet to track the beers I drank and those I wanted to try. I weighted the beers not just on their average BeerAdvocate score, but on the score relative to their style. That's to say I was more interested in trying a Czech Pilsner rated 4.2 more than a DIPA at 4.3 because Pilsners generally have lower scores. If all you drink are the top rated beers, you'll be drinking mostly the same handful of styles from a small selection of breweries. Why is that though?

Whether it is the BeerAvocate Top 100, Rate Beer's Top 50, and Untappd's Top Beers they all show a similar bias towards strong adjunct stouts, DIPAs, and fruited sours. I don't think the collective beer rater score aligns with what the average beer drinker enjoys the most or drinks regularly. It is a result of a collection of factors that are inherent to the sort of hedonistic rating system.

So what makes beers and breweries score well?

Big/Accessible Flavors

People love assertive flavors. Once you've tried a few hundred (or thousand) beers, it is difficult to get a "wow" response from malt, hops, and yeast. This is especially true in a small sample or in close proximity to other beers (e.g., tasting flight, bottle share, festival). So many of the top beers don't taste like "beer" they taste like maple, coconut, bourbon, chocolate, coffee, cherries etc. If you say there is a flavor in the beer everyone wants to taste it... looking at reviews for our Vanillafort, it is amazing how divergent the experiences are. Despite a (to my palate) huge vanilla flavor (one bean per 5 gallons), some people don't taste it.

Sweetness is naturally pleasant. It's a flavor our palates evolved to prefer over sour/bitter because it is a sign of safe calories. That said, too much can also make a beer less drinkable. I enjoy samples of pastry stouts, but most of them don't call for a second pour. Balance between sweet-bitter or sweet-sour makes a beer that calls for another sip, and a second pour.

Even the most popular IPAs have gone from dry/bitter to sweet/fruity. They are beers that are less of an acquired taste. More enjoyable to a wider spectrum of drinkers. I'm amazed how many of the contractors, delivery drivers, and other non-beer nerds who visit the brewery mention that they are now into IPAs.

If you want a high brewery average, one approach is simply to not brew styles that have low average ratings. That said, for tap room sales it can really help to have at least one "accessible" beer on the menu. For us that has always been a low-bitterness wheat beer with a little yeast character, and a fruity hop aroma. Their scores drag our average down, but it is worth it for us.

Exclusivity

The easier a beer is to obtain, the more people will try it. The problem is that you don't want everyone rating your beer. To get high scores it helps to apply a pressure that causes only people who are excited about the beer to drink (and rate it). This can take a variety of forms, but the easiest is a small production paired with a high price-point and limited distribution. You can make the world's best sour beer, but if it is on the shelf for $3 a bottle at 100 liquor stores you'll get plenty of people sampling it that hate sour beers. Even with our relatively limited availability we get reviews like "My favorite sour beer ever!" 1.5 stars... The problem with averages is that a handful of really low scores have a big impact.

I'll be interested to see how our club-exclusive bottles of sour beer rate compared to the ones available to the general public. The people who joined self-identified as fans of ours and sour beers. My old homebrewing buddy Michael Thorpe has used clubs to huge success at Afterthough Brewing (around #20 on Untappd's Top Rated Breweries). In addition to directing his limited volume towards the right consumers, clubs allow him to brew the sorts of weird/esoteric (delicious) beers that might not work on a general audience (gin barrels, buckwheat, dandelions, paw paw etc.).


As noted above some styles have higher average reviews than others. Simply not brewing low-rated styles goes a long way towards ensuring a high overall brewery average. Anytime I feel like one of our beers is underappreciated, I go look at the sub-4 average of Hill Farmstead Mary, one of my favorite beers. Afterthought recently announced a new non-sour brand, which will prevent beer styles with lower averages from "dragging down" the average for Afterthought.

I remember there being debate over the minimum serving size for a review on BeerAdvocate. I think a few ounces of a maple-bacon-bourbon imperial stout is plenty. However for session beers, can you really judge a beer that is intended to be consumed in quantity based on a sip or two? We don't do sample flights at Sapwood Cellars. We sell half-pours for half the price of full pours. Not having a flight reduces people ordering beers they won't enjoy just to fill out a paddle. It also means that more people will give a beer a real chance, drinking 7 oz gives more time for your palate to adjust and for you to get a better feel for the balance and drinkability. What kills me is seeing people review one of our sessions beers based on a free "taste."

Another option is physical distance. Most trekking to Casey, De Garde, or Hill Farmstead are excited to be going there and ready to be impressed. It helps that all three brew world-class sour beers, but I'm not sure the ratings would be quite as good if they were located in an easily-accessible urban center.

The trick to getting to the Top Beer lists is that you need a lot of reviews to bring the weighted average up close to the average review. So having a barrier, but still brewing enough beer and being a big enough draw to get tens of thousands of check-ins and ratings. Organic growth helps, starting small, and generating enough excitement to bring people from far and wide. Lines (like those at Tree House) then help to keep up the exclusivity, not many people who hate hazy IPAs are going to wait in line for an hour to buy the new release - unless it is to trade.

Shelf Stability/Control 

Many of the best rated beers are bulletproof. Big stouts and sours last well even when not handled or stored properly. This means that even someone drinking a bottle months or years after release is mostly assured a good experience. Most other styles really don't store well and are at their best fresh.

Conversely, hazy IPAs are one of the most delicate styles. I think it's funny that some brewers talk about hiding flaws in a NEIPA. While you sure don't need to have perfect fermentation control to make a great hop-bomb, they are not forgiving at all when it comes to packaging and oxygen pick-up. That's partly the reason that the best regarded brewers of the style retail most of the canned product themselves. Alchemist, Trillium, Tree House, Tired Hands, Hill Farmstead, Aslin, Over Half etc. all focus on direct-to-consumer sales. That ensures the beer doesn't sit on a truck or shelf for a large amount of time before a consumer gets it. Consumers seem to be more aware than they once were (especially for these beers) that freshness matters.

Of course the margins are best when selling direct too, so any brewery that is able to sell cases out the door will. It can turn into a positive feedback loop, where the beer is purchased/consumed fresh which makes the beer drinker more likely to return. This worked well for Russian River, not bottling Pliny the Elder until there was enough demand that it won't sit on the shelf for more than a week.

Sure the actual packaging process (limiting dissolved oxygen) is important. But generally an OK job on a two-week-old can will win out over a great job on a two-month old can.

The ultimate is to have people drink draft at your brewery. That way you can control the freshness, serving temperature, glassware, atmosphere etc. That said, I notice the scores for our beers in growlers are usually higher than draft. I suspect that this is about self-selection, people who enjoyed the beer on draft are more likely to take a growler home and rate it well. It might also be a way for people to appear grateful to someone who brought a beer for them to try.

Reputation

This is one area where blind-judged beer competitions have a clear edge over general consumer ratings. When you know what you're drinking, that knowledge will change your perception. Partly it is subconscious, you give a break to a brewery that makes good beer. Or after a lot of effort to procure a bottle you don't want to feel like you wasted money/time. It can be more overt. I've had friends tell me that they'll skip entering a rating for our beer if it would be too low. I remember boosting the score of the first bottle of Cantillon St. Lamvinus I drank, it was so sour... but I didn't want to be that 22 year old who panned what people consider to be one of the best beers in the world.

I could also be cynical, but I can imagine someone buying a case of a new beer to trade and wanting to make sure they get good "value" by helping the score for the beer. Might be doubly true for a one-off beer with aging potential!

Sapwood Cellars has done pretty well in our first year. Out of more than 100 breweries in Maryland, we have the third-highest average score (4.06) on Untappd. That isn't even close to meaning that our beer is "better" than anyone below us though. In addition to being solid brewers, we're helped by our selection of styles (mostly IPAs and sours) and by selling almost all of our beer on premise. Hopefully that feeds a good reputation, which further drives scores as we continue to hone our process.


Categories: Homebrewing blogs

How Much Beer is Left in my Keg?

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 12:50pm

This week I look at a simple way to determine how much beer you have left in your kegs using the weight-to-volume tool in BeerSmith.

Many brewers, myself included, like to keep one or two regular beers on tap at all times. Eventually this becomes an inventory management issue, as you need to have some idea how much of a particular beer you have left to decide when you need to brew to restock.

Ignoring for a moment the problems of lead time to get the beer brewed and mature, a key piece of information is having a solid measure of exactly how much beer you have in inventory. If you keg this can be a challenge as lifting the keg will tell you roughly how much beer is in it but won’t give you an exact volume.

The BeerSmith Weight to Volume Tool

To solve this problem, some years ago I added the Weight to Volume Tool to BeerSmith. This tool lets you weigh your kegs (or other vessels) and calculate the volume remaining based on the weight and empty weight of the keg.

To use the tool you do need to know the empty weight of the keg so you may want to weigh a keg before filling it. In my case, I primarily use standard ball lock Corney kegs (5 gal/19 l size) which weigh 9.29 lb (4.21 kg) empty and I also use the newer ball lock Slimline Torpedo kegs which weight 8.5 lb (3.86 kg). If you have a different keg type, just weigh an empty one using your grain scale and record the weight in your notes for future use.

To determine how much beer is left in your partially filled keg, simply weigh it with your grain scale. Next enter that weight into the Current Container Weight field. Enter the Empty Container Weight you recorded earlier along with the Specific (final) gravity of the beer if known. If you are not sure about the final gravity of the beer, you can use 1.015 as a reasonable value as the gravity will not affect the calculation much. Once you have entered these values into the tool the Estimated Volume of the beer will be shown at the bottom.

This tool is available under Tools->Weight-Vol on the menu for both BeerSmith 3 desktop and BeerSmith mobile. It will also shortly be available as an online tool on BeerSmithRecipes.com for Gold+ users.

Leave a comment blow if you have other books you have enjoyed. Thank you for joining me this week on the BeersSmith blog – please subscribe to the newsletter or listen to my video podcast for more great material on homebrewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Launching Sapwood Cellars Brewery with Michael Tonsmeire – BeerSmith Podcast #191

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Mon, 04/29/2019 - 9:23am

Michael Tonsmeire joins me to discuss his experience starting a new brewery called Sapwood Cellars.

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 (51:39)
  • This week my guest is Michael Tonsmeire. Michael is the author of the book American Sour Beers (Amazon affiliate link) and also partner in a new brewery called Sapwood Cellars in Columbia, Maryland.
  • Today he joins us to discuss some of the challenges and decisions to be made in opening a new brewery.
  • Michael gives us a quick overview of the size and scope of the brewery where he primarily sells out of the taproom.
  • We discuss his opening lineup of beers and how he decided which beers to brew.
  • Michael explains how his lineup has evolved over time and which beers are now the top cellers.
  • We talk about direct (taproom) sales versus distrubuting through other channels and also some models for growth.
  • Michael explains some of the challenges in marketing and driving traffic to a new brewery, including things like social media and promotions.
  • He shares some of the marketing and business lessons he learned.
  • We discuss how he raised funding for the new brewery and also some of the surprises he ran into along the way.
  • Michael explains the difference between brewing on a 10 barrel system and a 10 gallon brewing system
  • He shares his closing thoughts for those looking to open a small brewery.
Sponsors

Thanks to Michael Tonsmeire 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

Brewer's Emergency Kit

The Mad Fermentationist - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 6:57am
Whether you are a homebrewer or a craft brewer, things don't always go as expected or something breaks. If you aren't ready, it could cost you a batch or delay a brew. In the worst case scenario a company can go out of business, making a replacement part difficult and expensive to procure. More than once we haven't had a (seemingly) small inexpensive thing and it caused issues. Learn from us (and chime in with your own suggestions)!

Yeast

If you use liquid cultures, there is always a chance that your starter won't start or your brink will run dry. We always keep a couple bricks of dried yeast on hand. On a commercial scale, SafAle is ridiculously inexpensive ($50-75 for 500 g). We always have a brick of US-05 and S-04 in the cooler. The strains you keep will depend on what strains you use. If nothing else, we'll use them for primary fermentation on sour beers when we don't have enough liquid yeast harvested.

Being friendly with a few other local brewers could be handy as well, but there usually isn't a guarantee they'll have yeast to spare at the last minute.


Fermentables

I find it helpful to have both dextrose and maltodextrin on hand. We had a DIPA dry out a few points too far, easy enough to boil a pot of maltodextrin, keg it and shoot it into the brite tank to add .004/1P. Dextrose is handy if your gravity is lower by a few points, although in most cases we'll just leave the beer alone. Dried pale malt extract is another option, especially if your efficiency is inconsistent (or you often brew really strong beers).

It never hurts to order a few extra bags of a favorite malts either, especially for things like Golden Naked Oats that often seem to be out of stock. Extra base malt is nice too, especially early on when you're ordering ingredients for a few batches and still feeling out system efficiency.

Hops

Buying on the spot market means sometimes you get a bag that isn't all it should be. Better to have a few back-up options to swap in for dry hopping. Mediocre hops are usually fine in the boil, so if we open a bag of Simcoe that is so-so, we'll open another and save the first for a boil/whirlpool addition.

Fittings/Gaskets

We try to have at least one "extra" gasket in each size. This is especially true for things like manways that aren't generic. Unluckily we didn't think of this before the gasket on our 15 bbl DME fermentor stretched out... now they're out of business and we're still working to find a replacement. The one we have still works, but likely won't forever. If we order anything new, we get replacement seals and parts for it at the same time.

Same goes for having extra valves and other fittings that might leak or stop working. Delicate instruments like hydrometers, thermometers, refractometers never hurt to have redundancy either.

Controllers

Nothing is worse that electronics that don't want to work properly. Our MidCo burner for the kettle has a small control board that shorts if a few drops of water fall onto it. The first time was a complete surprise after washing down the kettle, but we ordered two replacements. That saved a batch of beer a few months later after a boil-over (our new gas meter really increased the heat output). No problems since adding a water-proof cover...

I've been meaning to buy a few extra solinoids for the glycol/tanks too as they are notorious for going bad.

Enzymes

When our most recent batch of saison stalled out we were ready for it, we added amyloglucosidase and the gravity dropped quickly to 1.001. There are other enzymes that you might consider as well that help with conversion, run-off, and clarity as well.

Gasses

While we have a bulk CO2 tank, we also have a few smaller tanks. They're necessary to pour at events, but they're also nice to have if the bulk tank runs empty and we need to keep pouring beer! Same story with nitrogen. We have two tanks so we have one in use and one filled (or waiting to be swapped).

Your Suggestions

Rather than waiting for more things to go wrong to learn what else we should have, post a comment and let me know what to buy!
Categories: Homebrewing blogs

The Yeast Life Cycle with Chris White – BeerSmith Podcast #190

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 8:14am

This week Dr Chris White from White labs joins me to discuss the yeast life cycle and fermentation in beer.

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 (51:39)
  • This week my guest is Dr Chris White, President and CEO of White Labs, a premiere provider of yeast for home brewers and Craft breweries. He is also the author of Yeast (Amazon link) the definitive book on beer brewing yeast.
  • We discuss some of Chris’ recent travels.
  • Chris provides his advice on yeast preparation for both dry and liquid yeasts.
  • We begin discussing the yeast life cycle starting with the lag phase which occurs immediately after pitching the yeast into wort.
  • Chris tells us why oxygen is so important for the lag phase of fermentation.
  • We talk about the next phase which is rapid growth. This is also the phase where alcohol, CO2 and most of the flavors associated with yeast are produced.
  • He explains the third stage which is the “stationary” phase where maturation and flocculation of the yeast takes place.
  • We briefly discuss off flavors as well as the importance of completing maturation before rushing to cold crash or filter your beer.
  • Chris gives his closing advice on fermentation as well as discusses some of the new projects ongoing at White labs.
Sponsors

Thanks to Chris White 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

The Best Home Brewing Books – Four of my Favorites

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 6:54am

This week I’ll give you my picks for top home brewing books. As you might expect I have a pretty extensive library of brewing books, and I also know many of the top authors well.

I’ve included Amazon associate links for each book which you can use if you want to support this site. Many of these books are also available in your local brew shop or book store.

1. How to Brew – Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

This substantial book by my friend John Palmer is considered by many to be “the book” for home brewing. Updated in 2017 to its 4th edition, and weighing in at 582 pages this in-depth book covers almost every possible brewing topic. It is a more technical read than some other brewing books, and can be a bit overwhelming at first read if you don’t have a technical background.

Nevertheless John does walk you through everything from basic brewing to more advanced topics like brewing at altitude or managing your mash pH. There is a reason you will find this book in just about every serious home brewer’s library.

2. Mastering Homebrew – The Complete Guide to Brewing Delicious Beer

Though not as popular or well known as Palmer’s How to Brew, this book by graphic artist and brewer Randy Mosher is lavishly illustrated and very approachable even for a first time brewer. It is not quite as technical as Palmer’s book, but it does an amazing job of covering the vast majority of brewing techniques, terminology and equipment used by home brewers. I also like how Randy approaches beer from a flavor perspective rather than simply looking at it as a technical endeavor.

Even as an experienced brewer, I found Randy’s insights into topics like “harsh zone malts” and flavors of various ingredients to be both unique and valuable and they gave me further insight that has helped me improve my own recipes.

3. Designing Great Beers – The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles

An older book by Ray Daniels who now runs the Cicerone program. This book walks you through a number of classic beer styles and attempts to analyze the ingredients used in award winning recipes for each style. I found this book very useful early in my brewing career as it gave me a reasonable place to start when building my own recipes for many of my favorite styles.

While I don’t often directly use the book these days, the methodology of dissecting and comparing the ingredients used in top beer recipes for a particular style is something I do extensively to this day. In fact I usually start the development of a new beer recipe by first looking up related recipes.

The book can be criticized because it has not been updated to reflect newer beer styles, or new brewing techniques and it only contains a limited number of styles. However I feel the content is solid and the technique can be carried over to newer recipes and styles with ease once you understand the book’s approach to recipe design.

4. Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass

Randy Mosher has a second book in my top five list, again in no small part because of his artistic approach to beer. What I like most about Radical Brewing is that it gets you thinking in new and unique ways. Randy goes well beyond the traditional four brewing ingredients and conventional techniques to explore the sublime.

While Palmer’s How to Brew provides an in depth technical approach to brewing, Randy’s Radical Brewing dives deep into the artistic side. The book is packed with ideas and examples of brewing outside the box to create beer with unique flavor combinations. If you need inspiration or a way to expand your brewing horizons I do recommend Radical Brewing.

While those are my four personal favorites, I want to also mention the Brewer’s Association series on ingredients. This four book series consists of the books: Yeast, Water, Malt and Hops (Amazon links) and each one is written by an expert in the series. These four books are excellent if you want to do an in-depth dive into brewing ingredients.

Leave a comment blow if you have other books you have enjoyed. Thank you for joining me this week on the BeersSmith blog – please subscribe to the newsletter or listen to my video podcast for more great material on homebrewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Dark Funky Saison - A Retrospective

The Mad Fermentationist - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 6:52am
Since 2008 my friend Alex and I have been brewing dark funky saisons. Each year we come up with a new concept, usually involving dried fruit and/or spices. We've been a bit lax the last couple years, the ninth iteration was brewed a year ago, and neither of us has bottled our share yet.

For my birthday a couple weeks ago, Alex came over to the brewery and we opened bottles of all the versions (including a few variants). I shot a video of our discussion, enjoy!




Recipes:

2008 Dark Orange Rosemary Saison
2009 Funky Dark Saison with Black Cardamom

2010 Fig Honey Anise Dark Saison

2011 American Farmhouse Currant Dark Saison

2012 Dark Saison with Quince Paste

2013 Cranberry Dark Saison

2014 Dark Saison Etrog

2016 Dark Saison Date and Pomegranate
Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Dry Hop Creep, Over-Carbonation and Diacetyl in Beer

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Sun, 03/31/2019 - 1:50pm

This week I take a close look at the effects of Dry Hop Creep in highly hopped beer styles like IPAs and what can be done to limit the problem.

For some time now, brewers of IPAs using very high levels of dry hopping have been aware of stability issues with their finished beer including diacetyl, over attenuation and even carbonation issues.

However not until 2018 were researchers able to explain the problem in some detail. Oregon State University published a paper in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry and also presentations were made by Caolan Vaughan at Brewcon 2018 in Sydney and another was done at the Oregon Beer Summit.

The term “Hop Creep” or “Dry Hop Creep” was coined to describe the problem which occurs when high levels of dry hops are used. Ironically, the problem was described by Brown and Morris way back in 1893 including the cause, but that knowledge was largely lost over the last 126 years.

What is Hop Creep

At its core, hop creep is continued fermentation in the bottle or keg after the finished beer has been packaged for distribution. Symptoms include overcarbonation of bottles and kegs, over-attenuation of packaged beer, and diacetyl off flavors. It can occur in any unpasteurized or unfiltered packaged beer. Warm storage of the packaged beer can make the situation worse.

The root cause of hop creep is high levels of dry hopping. Hops actually contain trace amounts of both alpha and beta amylase as well as limit dextrinase enzymes. After dry hopping these enzymes can continue to convert a small amount of starch into sugars even at room temperature. If yeast is still present the sugars will ferment, lowering the final gravity of the beer and also creating carbonation.

The net effect can be as much as a 1-2 Plato drop in final gravity over a period of 40 days, which leads to a 5% increase in carbonation levels and 1.3% increase in alcohol (Kirkpatrick and Shellhammer). There tests were done at 20 C, and higher storage temperatures can result in even more attenuation. This means the bottles and kegs will be overcarbonated, and the increased attenuation can also affect the malt-hop balance and body of the finished beer – big problems for commercial breweries.

In addition the fermentation will raise the diacetyl levels of the beer, and there will likely not be enough yeast to clean that diacetyl up resulting in a buttery off flavor in the finished beer.

Preventing Hop Creep

There are a variety of techniques that may reduce the effects of hop creep though they may not completely eliminate it. Some of these also have limited hard experimental data behind them:

  • Filter or Pasteurize the Finished Beer – Really the only way to completely eliminate hop creep, filtering or pasteurizing will remove live yeast from the equation, stopping further fermentation.
  • Reduce Dry Hop Levels – Shift some dry hops to the whirlpool (before fermentation) where they are less likely to create enzyme problems.
  • Cold Store you Beer – Hop creep is temperature dependent, and if you can ensure that the finished beer is stored cold, it will significantly reduce the enzyme and fermentation activity.
  • Design “Creep” into the Recipe/Process – Some brewers purposely under-attenuate and also under-carbonate their beers, assuming hop creep will occur in finished bottles/kegs. While this won’t solve potential diacetyl issues, it can help with over-carbonated/over-attenuated beers. It can be difficult to determine how much “creep” to expect however.
  • Dry Hop Earlier – Though not much reasearch has been done on this, some brewers believe dry hopping closer to fermentation will give the hop enzymes and yeast time to act before the beer is packaged, reducing the scope of the hop creep problem.
  • Use Sulfites/Sulfates to Reduce Yeast Activity – While not an option for naturally conditioned bottles, you can consider adding potassium metabisulfite (and possibly potassium sorbate) to kegs to inhibit further fermentation. These additives are widely used in the wine/mead industry as a preservative and also to inhibit further fermentation.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s article on hop creep. Thank you for joining me this week on the BeersSmith blog – please subscribe to the newsletter or listen to my video podcast for more great material on homebrewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

That Time I Color Corrected My Dry Stout

Brew Dudes - Thu, 03/28/2019 - 5:13am

Did I ever tell you about the time that I brewed a Dry Irish Stout and the color came out more brown than black? If not, let me type it up here. Even though the beer missed on color, I planned a way to fix it so that when it poured from my tap it […]

The post That Time I Color Corrected My Dry Stout appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #33

Brew Dudes - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 4:21am

Hey – this beer swap is special because this is the first one that has homebrew in cans! The Crafty Neighbor Brewing Company have been getting together on a weekly basis to brew and can their beer in preparation of going pro. The guys gave us a few cans of their specialty stouts for us […]

The post Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #33 appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Hops and IPAs with Stan Hieronymus – BeerSmith Podcast #189

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Sat, 03/16/2019 - 2:20pm

Stan Hieronymus joins me to discuss cutting edge hop research, hop creep, New England IPAs and unique farmhouse ales.

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 (51:39)
  • Brad had a slight cold today – I apologize if my voice sounds a bit scratchy.
  • Today my guest is Stan Hieronymus. Stan is the author of For the Love of Hops, Brewing Local and Brew Like a Monk (Amazon affiliate links).
  • Stan shares some of the recent research done on hazy IPAs including the New England IPA style.
  • We discuss where the haze comes from as well as new findings about extensive dry hopping and active fermentation hopping.
  • We discuss Thiols and the role they play in hopping. We also covered this topic earlier in Episode #172.
  • Stan introduces the problem of “Hop Creep” and how excessive dry hopping can lead to diacetyl and also carbonation issues in finished beer.
  • We discuss some possible solutions to “Hop Creep”
  • Stan provides his advice for the best hop schedule for a New England IPA.
  • Stan talks about his recent travels to meet Lars Gershol as well as the new book Lars is writing for the Brewer’s Association.
  • He talks briefly about some of the unique “farmhouse” techniques and yeast strains Lars has been exploring.
Sponsors

Thanks to Stan Hieronymus 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

Citra SMaSH Tasting Notes

Brew Dudes - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 3:36am

After our comparison session with the Mosaic SMaSH beer, we decided to do a full examination of the Citra SMaSH beer. In the long series of hop evaluations, these Brew Dudes did not get to brewing a Citra focused beer until now. We didn’t get to it because Citra seemed to be used a lot […]

The post Citra SMaSH Tasting Notes appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Citra Vs. Mosaic Hops – SMaSH Beer Tastings

Brew Dudes - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 6:35pm

We have brewed some Single Malt and Single Hop (SMaSH) beers in the past to examine hop flavors and aroma of certain hops varieties, but typically we examine them (taste and pontificate) one at a time. This time, we have two SMaSH beers to try side by side in a triangle test. With three beer […]

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Creating an Ingredient or Profile Add-on in BeerSmith 3

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Mon, 03/04/2019 - 11:25am

I often get emails from BeerSmith 3 users and companies asking how to create an add-on for BeerSmith. It turns out it is relatively easy to create your own ingredients or profiles and export them to a BSMX file for use as an add-on.

Add-ons in BeerSmith 3

The add-on feature lets you download specific sets of additional ingredients or profiles to use in the program. Literally thousands of hops, malts, equipment profiles, even styles are available as addons. The add-on dialog was updated in BeerSmith 3 to make it easier to tell which add-ons are available

Add-ons are stored online on a BeerSmith server, but can be easily accessed from File->Add-ons from the desktop or the main Add-ons button near the bottom of the mobile version. The desktop version also lets you organize them by type so you can display a list of just hop add-ons using the drop down at the top of the dialog. To install or uninstall an add-on you simply click on it and click the Install or Uninstall button. After installation the new ingredients or profiles will show up in the respective list.

Creating or Updating an Add-on

If no add-on exists for a particular malster or equipment setup (for instance) you can create your own. The first step is to go to the Ingredients or Profiles view and enter the data.

For example if I’m creating a new add-on for a particular craft malt house, I would go to Ingredients->Malt and enter the new items there. Wherever possible, use the specific data from the malt house web site such as color, dry grain fine yield, moisture, etc…to fill in the ingredient dialog.

If updating an existing add-on you would follow the same process except you would want to download the add-on first, then update or add new items as needed before exporting.

The final step is to export the items needed for the add-on. You can do this by individually selecting all of the items. The easiest way to do this is to use the search bar (top right area) first to find all of the items first, then select them using either Ctrl+click or Shift-Click.

Once all of your ingredients are selected, use the File->Export Selected command to export the selected items to a separate BSMX file. You can then go to File->Open to open the file you just selected and verify that it is complete and has all of the items you intended.

While the example above was for malt, you can do the same for any ingredient type including yeast, water profiles, etc or for any profile type such as equipment profiles, carbonation or aging profiles.

There is one special consideration when creating beer style add-ons. After creating the first entry for your style guide, you need to go to Options->Brewing and set the style guides to be displayed. Unless you select the new style guide you are adding (after the first entry was added) you won’t see the new styles listed.

Submitting an Add-on

Once you have the exported BSMX file containing your add-on data, simply use the contact-us page on BeerSmith.com to contact me and include the fact that you have a new add-on. I will send an email in reply and you can then attach the new BSMX file in response.

Once I’ve reviewed the BSMX file for completeness I will post it on the main add-on server for anyone using BeerSmith to use. I typically do this a few times each month to keep items up to date.

That is the basic process for creating an add-on if you either work with a smaller supplier or want to contribute to the BeerSmith community. 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

The Economics of Opening a Brewery

The Mad Fermentationist - Mon, 03/04/2019 - 4:31am
The excitement over hazy/NE IPA is the best thing that has happened for local breweries in a long time. They are expensive to brew, difficult to package, a nightmare to distribute long distances, and get beer drinkers excited! When we put a juicy Double IPA on tap it flies. Our recent 7-barrel-yield of Snip Snap lasted less than three days, while an IPA might last three weeks, and a pale ale five. Having a beer that draws increases growler sales, and helps sell all of our other beers as people end up trying other similar beers when they come in.


Here is a graph of the scores of 13 of our hoppy beers (pale ales, IPAs, and DIPAs) showing the Untappd score compared to the ABV. The formula for the trend line is y = 3.2008+.1392*x. That suggests if we brewed a 0% ABV hoppy beer it would score a 3.20 and to get a score of 5 would require 14.31% ABV. The R-squared value of the correlation is .71, so the most important factor in the consumer's opinion of our hoppy beers is strength (granted that typically comes with a higher dry hopping rate, sweetness etc.).

Driving business to your tasting room is job #1 for a small brewery because that is where the profit is highest. When you buy a beer at a bar or restaurant, most of the money goes to them rather than the brewery. While a ½ bbl keg of a pale ale might sell to a bar for $150-175 (a portion of which might go to a distributor), at even $5 pint the bar makes $620 in revenue. At our scale, it is almost impossible to make a profit only  selling beer at wholesale. It requires a tight reign on expenses with a premium price point, not to mention low overhead.

It is no coincidence that local brewery booms seem to follow when a state or city allows production breweries to serve/retail their own beer. In the case of Maryland this has created backlash from distributors, and a lesser extent bars and liquor stores who see more consumers cutting them out.

Ingredient Cost

We aren’t doing a great job controlling ingredient costs. We don’t reuse our yeast nearly as much as we "should" (3-4 batches per pitch), we pay as much as $35/lb for hops that are difficult to get on the spot market, we buy our malt pre-milled by the bag, we use expensive “real” ingredients for our variants (and usually don’t up-charge over the base beers) etc. That said, having a tasting room that is busy covers all of those sins.

10 bbls – Pillowfort
$484 – 2-row
$137 – Malted Oats
$40 – Chit Malt
$50 – Milling Fee
$11 – Glucose
$.80 - Whirlfloc
$.06 - Zinc Sulfate Heptahydrate
$1 – Calcium Chloride
$1 – Gypsum
$.25 – Epsom Salt
$2.00 – 350 ml 75% Phosphoric Acid
$125 – Liquid yeast
$150 – Dry yeast
$77 – Columbus
$99 – Centennial
$396 – Citra
$264 – Azacca
~$100 – CO2/Gas/Electric/Chemicals
 ($1950/batch - $1.11/pour)

Let’s say we put more effort into yeast management and that gives us confidence to reuse the yeast for 20 batches. Bringing the proportional cost down from $125 to $25 per batch. The net savings to us would be $.05 per pour. What if we moved to a silo for 2-row, and cut our base malt cost down to a third and added a mill? $.14 per pour. That would make Pillowfort ~$.92/pour. Granted these recurring costs add up over the course of a year and both might yield improvements to the consistency and quality of our beer. But selling just one 1/2 bbl keg to a bar, even charging $250, loses us more money per batch then we’d save from making those moves. It also speaks to how important yield on these heavily dry-hopped beers is.

Most of our IPAs and DIPAs work out to $100-150 per ½ bbl keg. Self-distributing these beers for $200-250 there would be no way to make enough to cover rent, pay ourselves, and fund expansion. However, being a retailer of our own beers means we get $800-900 for that same keg sold by the glass and growler. It makes sense for us to charge a reasonable price ($7-8 for a 14 oz pour in a 17 oz glass) and have consumers return rather than charge a dollar or two more and end up having to self-distribute kegs (with the added effort).

When we do send kegs out, we try to get as much of a push out of it as we can (fests, tap-takeovers, beer dinners etc.). We don't pay for any traditional advertising, but we view the "losses" from self-distributing as a form of marketing. That also means not always sending beer to the same bars, as we want people to feel like they have to come to us to try our beers regularly.

Most bars use a flat percentage markup to price their draft. If a beer costs twice as much for them to purchase, they’ll charge twice as much to the consumer. That means that they’ll make a much larger dollar-per-ounce profit on more expensive beers. The same isn’t true at most breweries, an IPA with Nelson Sauvin or Galaxy is easily twice as expensive as a session wheat beer (especially considering the lower yield with high dry-hop rates), but we don’t double the price. Still, charging $7 for IPA and $6 for the session wheat makes the IPA more profitable per pour. When you visit a brewery and buy beer, you’re allowing them to spend more money on the ingredients and make better beer. Not to mention that the brewery will care more about their beer and have better control over the product.

Overhead

After ingredient cost, our next biggest expense is rent. Scott and I debated where to open and toured spaces with a wide range of looks and costs. While a beautiful rustic plot with room for outdoor events and a small orchard was appealing… either running on a septic or paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a municipal sewer connection was not. Conversely, opening in a vibrant downtown with plenty of foot traffic would have meant easier retail sales, but would have tripled our rent. Brewing is a space-intensive manufacturing business (especially with barrel aging), it is difficult for me to justify paying $30+ sq ft for the parts of the business that aren’t customer facing.

If we are able to brew enough to outstrip tasting room demand, we’ll look into opening a small taproom someplace other than an industrial park. For the time being, our location is close enough to residential for the tasting room and inexpensive enough for 4,000 sq ft of production. Luckily the power of Google Maps, Untappd, and social media has been enough for us to draw people in.

In addition to the ability to sell beer by the glass, a tasting room opens up the way for merchandise sales, private events, packaged beer, and even food sales (working on that now). It has been essential for us to have a space and offerings that attract customers, even those who aren’t beer nerds. A fantastic staff, and enough of them working for short waits also improves the customer experience.

Salaries are the third big expense. Scott and I have done 100% of the brewing, tank cleaning, kegging, and keg washing up to this point. Financially speaking, our labor has been free, but we certainly could have kept our day jobs and paid less-per hour than our lost wages to hire brewers and cellar-people. That said, it didn’t seem right to trust something we’d worked so hard for to other people. As I learned from consulting, the people who are physically there have the biggest effect on the results. We’ll be looking to hire someone in the brewhouse soon, but we’re still trying to figure out what the role will be (cleaning and cellar duties, or someone who already has the skill-set to be a lead brewer eventually). We were willing to pay for front-of-house, as that is where we didn’t have experience (or the time to learn).

Other Income Streams

I posted about Brewery Clubs a few months ago. As a brewery that didn’t take on outside loans or investors, the extra money we brought in from club sales was essential. It gave us the breathing room to buy more expensive equipment, ingredients, not to mentions barrels for beers we won’t sell for months or years, and dump most of a batch that we didn’t love. Padding in the bank account helped with our sleep those first couple months too.

We’re now “paying” some of that money back. We made it through the club holiday events, for which we created 16 sixtels of variants that we didn’t sell a drop of. Not to mention paid employees to work (and at $15 an hour as tipping was light without tabs). Most of that cost was in our time, but we’ll continue to incur costs as we give bottles, decanter baskets (below), and events that club members paid for last year. Not only do we want to ensure that customers (and many friends) are happy they joined, we’d like to over-deliver so many consider re-upping for 2020!

The rest of this year our biggest focus will be on packaging. Direct sales of canned and bottled beer should give us the chance to increase total revenue, but it will also lower our per-ounce revenue. While many people are willing to pay $8 for a 14 oz pour of DIPA... $5 for a 16 oz can of the same DIPA is about the top of the market. Cans have higher costs associated with them as well, both in terms of labor and materials (especially when you don't own a canning line). That really slims down the margins, and will dictate which beers are more likely to be canned (e.g., Pillowfort with Azacca rather than Snip Snap with Galaxy). The most important thing for us will be avoiding turning draft sales into can sales. Ideally cans are an add-on to tabs or an additional trip for a release rather than a replacement for draft consumption and growlers.

What makes sense for a brewery will depend on the types of beer they brew and their goals as a company. If you want to be a large production brewery, it may make sense to start fighting for draft accounts early. We don’t have any resources dedicated to outside sales, in fact we turn down most offers to put our beer on tap. We’d rather have an excess of demand, and be in strong position rather than fight for a limited number of tap handles with an ever-increasing number of breweries.

Having the huge catalog of homebrew recipes between the two of us has been a big advantage too. On Saturday we tapped a scaled-up version of Atomic Apricot. The price difference on the apricot puree was particularly stark, $1.71 per pound at the commercial scale vs. $7.84 for the same product (Oregon Fruit/Vintners Harvest). I haven't been doing much homebrewing or test batch brewing so most of my social media posting has moved to the Sapwood Cellars Facebook and Twitter accounts (Scott does Instagram because I usually avoid posting from my phone).
Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Celebrating 20 Years Of Homebrewing – Tips for First Timers

Brew Dudes - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 12:40pm

Mike has been brewing beer at home for 20 years now. To celebrate, he picked up an extract beer kit that was similar to the first one he ever brewed. We captured every part of the brew day on camera from the unboxing of the kit to the pour of the concentrated wort into the […]

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs