Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lager Brewing Made Easy

Brewing Lager Beer
For many, lagers are a daunting category of beers to attempt to make on the homebrewing level. Recipes tend to call for decoction mashes and long periods of near-freezing fermentation temperatures, which can be difficult without the ideal equipment. But don’t let this rule out lagers in your homebrew future! Bryan Cardwell of Washington-based Chuckanut Brewery explains some ways to make lager brewing more approachable.
Decoction Mashing
A decoction mash involves pulling a portion of thick mash into a pot and bringing it to a boil. This helps further break down proteins, increase free amino nitrogen (FAN) levels and solubilize more starches. Traditionally this was used by German lager brewers out of necessity to get the most extraction out of their undermodifed malts.
The result is a decreased enzyme count, increase color extraction and caramelization, increase extraction of sugars and more melanoidin, which gives some lagers that bread crust-like characteristics.
Today, most malts are well-modified and don’t require decoction, but it is often still conducted out of respect for tradition and to achieve some of the color and flavor attributions. Instead of a true decoction, a few homebrew tricks can be done to simulate the additional mash step without actually having to do it.
  • Use a higher mash infusion to increase the overall extraction and create more unfermentable sugars that will ultimately leave a higher final gravity.
  • Use specialty malts like Munich and melanoidin to get the bread crust flavors, as well as dextrin for more body.
  • Increase the boil time for more color and a bit of caramelization.
Yeast Selection & Pitching Rate
Selecting a lager yeast strain can be as simple as using the one from your favorite lager brew, but you still want to keep the overall flavor profile and a few other considerations in mind.
Flocculation is particularly important when brewing lagers. Strains that are very flocculent and fall out of suspension will not be able to sufficiently reduce levels of Vicinal Diketones (VDKs), which cause butterscotch or buttery flavors. You want a yeast that will stay in susepension and in contact with VDKs long enough to reduce their level.
Many commercial lager breweries, including Chuckanut, use Weihnstephan 3470 for its clean and malty fermentation and VDK reduction ability. Homebrewers can find this in Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager or White Labs WLP830 German Lager.
Pitching rate is extremely important because lager yeast does not have as pronounced of a respiratory metabolism as ales, meaning there is less cell growth. When under pitching, there is the risk of not being able to clean up the VDKs, and producing high levels of esters and alcohols that cannot be remedied once they are created.
Generally speaking, plan to pitch 1.5 million cells of yeast per milliliter of wort per degree plato (1.5 mil cells / ml / °P). This will result in a large number of yeast cells, so making a starter will eliminate the need to buy multiple yeast packs. Be sure to sufficiently oxygenate the wort after pitching.
Fermentation and Lagering
There are many schemes for lager fermentation, but Caldwell recommends what he calls cold fermentation with accelerated maturation. It is easiest to follow the recommended schedule using a temperature controlled fermentation chamber, but you can still get good results by using a cold basement or shed.
Start by cooling the wort 3-4°F below the primary fermentation temperature. This will help limit the amount of amino acids and nucleotides excreted from yeast when it enters a state of shock after being pitched into a new environment (pH, sugar content, temperature). The higher the temperature, the more excretion, which will ultimately negatively impact yeast performance.
After pitching, start the fermentation cool for a few days, and let it naturally warm up 3-4°F for the last 1.008-1.010 for a period of accelerated maturation, which some refer to as a diacetyl rest. This will allow the yeast to metabolize fermentation byproducts like VDKs and acetaldehyde, as well as slightly increase the attenuation.
A good way to check if maturation is about finished is to warm up a sample and taste for diacetyl. If it is present, continue the maturation. If not, move on to the lagering stage.
Lagering is a period of aging at near-freezing temperatures. The goal is to achieve yeast clarification and promote the precipitation and removal of protein-polyphenol complexes, which will create the smooth lager flavor. Caldwell recommends keeping the beer as close to 30-32°F as possible for 2-3 weeks. Generally speaking, the cooler the beer, the less lagering time is necessary.
That’s it. Now get out there and start lagering!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Overview: Haze & Improving Beer Clarity

Describing what beer clarity is, how its defined and measured and the potential causes of haze or clarity problems in beer.

When Clarity Matters
Crystal clear beer is a goal for many beer styles. Commercial brewers go to great lengths to assure the clarity and stability of their finished beers. However, clarity does not always matter. For darker beers like Browns, Porters, Bocks, and Stouts, clarity is not as important, so we see many haze producing malts and adjucts added – since you won’t notice them in the finished product. Some beers are even intentionally hazy, such as hefe-weizen which is served with yeast intentionally mixed in – either by storing kegs inverted and turning them before serving, or bottle conditioning and serving them with the sediment.
Understanding and Measuring Haze in Beer
Haze in beer is nothing more than suspended particles that reflect light. The most frequent sources of haze are from yeast cells, proteins and polyphenols (tannins), but bacteria, foreign material, and even excessive finings can all contribute to haze in finished beer. Beer haze is measured using a Radiometer haze meter, a special device that shines light through a sample of beer and measures the intensity of the light reflected off particles in the sample at a 90 degree angle, typically on an EBC scale.

Even a high quality haze meter has its limitations due to a phenomena called “pseudo-haze”. Pseudo haze is when you have haze that is detectable by a haze meter, but may not be visible to an observer. Pseudo-haze is caused by small particles that reflect light but don’t affect the clarity of the finished beer.

The term “turbidity” is used to describe the particles that are visible, and pseudo-haze is the difference between the haze measured by the meter and the “turbidity” actually visible in the finished beer. Pseudo-haze can be a real problem for commercial brewers who want to consistently measure and control the haze stability of their beer.

Types of Haze in Beer
There are two major types of haze in beer. The first is a chill haze, which often occurs at near freezing temperatures but disappears as we warm the beer. The second is a permanent haze, which is simply present all the time. Chill haze, however, can be a major concern even for beers served at warmer temperatures since chill haze will often become a permanent haze over time as the beer matures.

Potential Causes of Haze in Beer
The vast bulk of effort in controlling clarity in a finished beer is focused around proteins and polyphenols (tannins) which primarily come from malt and hops. These will be covered in detail in part 2, but these two ingredients are the cause of most chill haze as well as permanent haze issues in a finished beer. A secondary concern is suspended yeast, which often contributes to clarity issues when a beer is young. While yeast does not often contribute to permanent clarity issues, some steps are needed to assure that yeast falls out of the beer quickly after fermentation.

The other causes of haze which are less common include:
  • Calcium deficient worts (causes Oxalates)
  • Wheat derived adjuncts (causes Pentosans)
  • Inadequately modified malt (Beta-glucans) – though very uncommon with modern malts
  • Dead bacteria from an infection
  • Damaged or overstressed yeast (Induces carbs and proteins)
  • Lubricants, excessive finings or other foreign material in the beer

That’s a quick overview of measuring haze and the major causes of clarity issues.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Filtering Home Brewed Beer

www.brew-boss.com / Electric Homebrewing Equipment

Almost all commercial brewers filter their beer to rapidly improve flavor and clarity. Yet few home brewers filter their beer, either because they lack the equipment or prefer the raw flavor of unfiltered beer. However filtering is a good option for intermediate to advanced brewers who want crystal clear, smooth flavored beer.

Why Filter?

Filtering removes yeast, tannins and some large proteins from the beer that contribute both to off flavors and haze. While many of these impurities will eventually precipitate out of the beer through lagering and aging, filtering accelerates the process by removing them in minutes instead of weeks or months. This is a big reason why commercial brewers use filters – time is money and it is much cheaper for them to filter the beer than store it for weeks or months.

Filtering also has the advantage that it can remove very small impurities from the beer – even those that would not fall out of suspension in the natural aging process. Filters can remove particles as small as 1 micron or even smaller. This can result in a cleaner flavor and much better clarity than is possible with natural aging.

A question many new brewers ask is if they can filter their beer to eliminate the sediment in the bottom of the bottles? The answer is unfortunately no, unless you have some kind of kegging/carbonation system. Filtering the beer removes the yeast from it, so if you filter and then bottle with priming sugar you will just get flat beer.

The only way to filter and bottle beer is to filter your beer into a keg, then artificially carbonate it, and then bottle it from the keg using a counter-pressure bottle filler or beer gun. Also having a pressurized keg makes it much easier to use an inline filter, as gravity works very slowly with typical beer filters.

Choosing a Filter
First, you need to choose a filter size. The filter should be fine enough to filter out tannins and yeast cells, but not too fine or it could alter the flavor of your finished beer. Around 1 micron is the sweet spot for filter size – smaller than 0.5 microns and you risk filtering out some flavor, while larger ones (5 micron and up) may leave yeast in the beer. To filter out bacteria which some commercial brewers do for shelf stability, you need to go to 0.3 microns or below. I don’t recommend going below 0.5 microns for home brewing.

Another factor when choosing filter size is how fast your filter may clog. Many commercial brewers actually use a two stage filter. They start with a 5 micron filter to eliminate the large particles and then use a smaller 0.5 micron filter inline as a second stage to filter small particles. If you have a large budget you can do the same, but for a single filter 1 micron is fine.

The most popular beer filters are inline canister filters with a replaceable filter element. These are inexpensive and work well if you have high quality filter cartridges. Some wine filters come in a plate format which offers a larger surface area that is less prone to clogging. I do not recommend using household water filters as these are slow and prone to clogging. Purchase a filter designed for use with beer and change your filter often as the small inline filters clog quickly.

Filtering Your Homebrew
Despite the fact that filtering can be used to accelerate the aging of your beer, you don’t want to filter your home brewed beer too early. Some important chemical changes take place during the later phases of fermentation and early aging. If you halt these too early by filtering you will end up with poor flavor balance. Commercial brewers use a additives and techniques that allow them to filter earlier.

Allow the beer to fully complete fermentation and then sit in the secondary for at least 2-3 weeks before filtering, then move it to your keg. The filtering process is very simple if you use two kegs. Place your inline filter in between the full and empty kegs and use low CO2 pressure to transfer the beer from one keg to the other through the filter.

Once the filtering/transfer is complete, close the top on the second keg, purge the air from the top several times and you can refrigerate and force carbonate it as you normally would with any keg.

Filtering home brewed beers is not always required or even desired, but when you want that extra bit of clarity and clean finish it is a nice alternative. Do you have thoughts or experience with filtering? .

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Carbonation Options for Your Home Brewed Beer

Brew-Boss Electric Homebrew Equipment / www.brew-boss.com

Carbonation is an important feature of beer – it adds moutfeel, perceived body, and heavily influences the way that hop and malt aromas are delivered to your nose. It is also critical to the beer’s appearance and head retention.

Understanding Carbonation Levels
Not all beer is carbonated to the same level. At one extreme we have real English ales that are served with almost no added carbonation. At the other extreme we have beers like the German Weizen that are so highly carbonated that the glass is often poured in stages to give it time to settle before more beer is added.

Carbonation levels are expressed in volumes of CO2. One volume of CO2 (which is unitless) is a given volume of gas dissolved into the same volume of liquid. So 1 volume would be a liter of CO2 dissolved in a liter of beer, or a gallon of CO2 dissolved in a gallon of beer. Most beers are served somewhere in the 2-3 volume carbonation level, though there are a few exceptions that fall outside of those bounds. We often adjust the carbonation level in our beer to match the style of beer we are brewing.

Bottling Methods
Most brewers start by bottling. While all of the cleaning, bottling and capping can be a chore, it is nice to be able to give away a six pack to a friend or take a few bottles to a party. There are a wide variety of methods you can use to carbonate your beer when bottling. All of these are added after fermentation and just before you bottle your beer.
  • Corn Sugar/Table Sugar – Mix a pre-measured amount of sugar, and add it to your beer just before bottling. In most cases we’ll dissolve it in a bit of distilled water and mix the entire amount into our beer in a separate bottling bucket before we bottle the beer.
  • Dry Malt Extract (DME) – For those who don’t want any sugar in their beer you can use DME instead. Malt extract can be used in the same way as sugar, but obviously you require a bit more DME than sugar to get a given carbonation level.
  • Krausening – In this method we actually use fresh wort to carbonate the beer. This is similar to the DME method, but the calculation of the amount of wort to use is a bit more complex. I provide a simplified version of the krausening equation here.
  • Carbonation Tablets – A number of brewing shops sell carbonation tablets which are simply small sugar or dextrose tablets that you add directly to the bottle when bottling. Typically they are sized for 12 oz bottles. These are very easy to use, but they make it difficult to customize your carbonation level and also don’t work well if you have a mix of different bottle sizes.

Carbonating with Kegs
Kegs offer some significant advantages over bottles. Not only does pulling your beer from your own tap have a “cool factor” to it, but cleaning and filling kegs takes only a fraction of the time it would take to bottle the same amount of beer. You also have a variety of ways to carbonate your keg.
  • Forced Carbonation – By far the most common carbonation method for kegs is forced carbonation. In this method you simply refrigerate the keg and then apply CO2 pressure to it. Over a few days, the CO2 will permeate the beer and carbonate it fully. Also you can easily control the carbonation level by adjusting the CO2 pressure up or down. I run my kegs at around 13 psi (90 kpa) but your system may vary.
  • Natural Keg Carbonation – While not used often anymore, you can treat your keg like a big bottle and simply add sugar/DME or wort, just as we did in the bottling section above, to naturally carbonate beer. This is how kegs were carbonated before we had bottled CO2 and widespread refrigeration, but it is still used with some classic real ales. Typically the amount of sugar needed to carbonate a keg is lower (often by 40-50%) than the equivalent needed for bottling to account for reduced headspace and slightly better fermentation in the larger vessel.
Calculating Carbonation Levels

As I mentioned above, you typically choose a target carbonation level, expressed in volumes, before you carbonate your beer. If you don’t know where to start, a level of around 2.4-2.6 is typical for an American ale. For bottling, you can use the carbonation tool or integrated calculator within a recipe in BeerSmith to estimate the amount of sugar or DME needed. For kegging,BeerSmith will also calculate the pressure level needed to achieve a given carbonation level. There are a number of online tools and spreadsheets that can do the same thing.

When using the bottling calculation, you need to enter the temperature of the beer at bottling time (which is often room temperature) as this is used to calculate the amount of residual CO2 left in the beer from fermentation.

For kegging, however, we use the keg storage temperature which is typically the temperature of your keg refrigerator as the basis since this is the temperature you’ll be using when you carbonate and serve your keg.

Monday, September 21, 2015

5 Facts About the IPA

5 Facts About the IPA for IPA Day

We’ve put together a handful of fun IPA facts to help you dazzle your friends while you’re hopefully enjoying a cold one (or three) at the bar.

Australian Origins
Originally thought to have been first sighted in London, the first known mention of IPA was in an advertisement in an Australian newspaper in 1829. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser ran an ad that mentions “East India pale ale.” The ad didn’t mention what brewery the beer was coming from.

Hops are a Preservative
That London rumor comes because of the beer export business that was going on in England in the early 1800s. Hops were reportedly added to the beer so that it was able to make the journey to India and still be worth drinking when it arrived. Modern research by historians such as Martyn Cornell, however, has shown that beers in this style were being brewed in England before they were ever specifically sent to India. Regardless, higher hop rates did help exported beer hold up longer thanks to the natural preservative effect of hops.

Take a Bow
We’re not quite sure who the first person was to brew an IPA, but one of the first known breweries to export beer to India was Bow Brewery. The English brewery was located just two miles from the East India docks, making it easily accessible for traders.

What’s a Double IPA?
Double IPAs, or Imperial IPAs, refer to an IPA that is typically higher in hop and alcohol content than a standard IPA. Vinnie Cilurzo, the current owner of Russian River Brewery, is credited with coining the term.

Female Brew
Like people, hop plants have both male and female forms. The cones from the female plant are what are used in the brewing process, while the male hop cones are used to breed the plant. When you see a field of hops growing, all those plants are typically female.

Brotherly Love
If you’ve ever taken a close look at a hop cone, you’ve likely noticed its resemblance to another plant: cannabis. Hops and cannabis belong to the same taxonomic family. While they’re technically related, just like your obnoxious little brother, the similarities between the two are only skin deep.

What’s the Best IPA in the World?
We’re glad you asked. We recently did a huge blind taste testing of 116 American IPAs. Check out our findings here, and be sure to give a shout out to your own favorite IPA.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Beer Styles: Making a Porter Recipe


Porter is a English beer style that has become very popular in the United States. This week we will look at the origins of Porter, how to brew Porter at home and provide a collection of sample recipes. When I started brewing back in the 1980’s, the microbrewery revolution was still in its infancy, and it was difficult to find anything beyond the classic American lager in the stores. Yet dark beers were a passion of mine, and Porter was a perennial favorites.
Porter is first mentioned in writings in the early 1700’s, and the name Porter is derived from its popularity with London’s river and street porters. There are many stories surrounding the origins of Porter, such as one about it being a blend of three other beers, but more likely Porter was derived from strong brown ales of the period. Original porters were substantially stronger than modern versions. Wikipedia mentions that hydrometer measurements on 18th century Porters indicate original gravities near 1.071, or 6.6% ABV – about twice the alcohol of a modern beer.
Taxes during the Napoleonic wars drove the alcohol content down to modern levels. Porter was also the first large scale beer to be entirely aged before delivery, often remaining in vats or casks for 18 months before shipment to pubs. As the 1800’s started, breweries mixed aged porter with new porter to reduce storage times. Stouts started as a stronger, darker version of Porter, with most including the name “Stout Porter”. Eventually the “Porter” tag was dropped giving the modern style of “Stouts”. (Re:Wikipedia)
In another interesting side note, Porter’s popularity was so high that it was stored in huge vats in the late 1700’s, and there was an arms race of sorts between major breweries to see who could build the largest vas. According to Ray Daniels book (below), the largest vats approached 20,000 barrels (860,000 gallons) at the end of the 1700s. This compares to the largest in the world today which clocks in at around 1600 barrels, less than 1/10th the size. In October of 1814, a huge vat at the Meux brewery ruptured and reportedly wiped out an adjacent tank and devastated the neighborhood in a 5 block radius. In the ensuing chaos at least 8 people were killed.
Designing a Porter Recipe
Designing Porter recipes can be a lot of fun as the Porter style includes room for experimentation. Porters have an OG of 1.040 and up, color of 20-40 SRM and bitterness of 18-35 IBUs for Brown Porter, or up to 55 IBUs for higher gravity Robust Porter. The color is brown to black, and they have low to medium hop flavor. They are almost always brewed with a full bodied mash schedule (higher mash temperature of 154-156F) to give a full body taste. They have low ester, fruitiness and diacytl, are well balanced and have low to medium carbonation.
Traditional porters start with a Pale malt base, and typically add a mix of Crystal, Brown, Chocolate and Black malts to achieve a dark color and taste. Roasted malts are used only in Robust Porter styles. Pale malt makes up 40-70% of the grain bill (60-80% for malt extract brewers). Dark Crystal/Caramel malts are used for color and body and provide at least 10% of the grain bill. Chocolate and Roasted malts each average around 5% of the grain bill, with roasted malt less common in Brown Porter.
A variety of grains including Munich malt, Roasted malt, wheat and additives are also used. I will occasionally brew “kitchen sink” Porter which consists of whatever malts I have laying around over a pale malt base. Traditional Porter also made heavy use of Amber and Brown malts, though these are less commonly used today. Ray Daniels recommends a mash temperature of 153F, though I often go a bit higher (156F) to provide a full bodied beer.
Traditional English hops are the appropriate choice for Porter, with East Kent Goldings being a favorite of mine. Other good choices include Fuggles, Northern Brewer, Northdown and Willamette. Light dry hopping is appropriate to the style, though hops aroma should not be dominant. English ale yeast is traditionally used for Porter for its fruity flavors, though other high attenuation yeasts are appropriate. Irish ale yeast is also occasionally used by homebrewers. Adjuncts are only rarely added to specialty Porters. A London water profile (high in carbonates) is best.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Creating a Hop Tea for Beer Brewing

There are several methods for making hop tea. Here are a few of the popular recipes:

Plain Hop Tea with Cold Water: The most basic method, often used by non-brewers involves just water and tea. It can be made cold or hot. The cold infusion method uses more hops (approximately 1 oz (28 grams) per quart (liter) of water). Add the hops to cold water and allow to steep 4-8 hours at room temperature, then strain to remove the hops. At this point you can refrigerate it and drink when desired. This will give you a good idea of the hop flavor, but not how it interacts with malt or alcohol.

Plain Hop Tea with Hot Water: Similar to above, but hot water is used to steep the hops for 20 minutes at a slightly lower hop rate. Generally you will get a slightly milder flavor from this method, along with some hop bitterness, but you still will not have an idea of how the hops, malt and alcohol interact.
Hop Tea with Malt Extract: In this case, we will add some dry malt extract to our tea to give it a malty and hoppy flavor. Add approximately 2 ounces (57 grams) by weight to a quart (liter) of distilled or filtered water. This will give you a gravity of approximately 1.022. Next we’ll about 1/8 oz of hops, which will give a strong hop flavor, and boil it for 10 minutes. This will provide a pretty hoppy malt-hop tea we can taste and get a good idea of how the hop might perform.

Hop Tea, Malt Extract and Alcohol: The final version – adds some alcohol to the mix. It won’t be beer, but will give you a good idea of how your hops will mix with both malt and alcohol flavors. In this case you make a hop tea with malt extract, just as described above. However after the quart/liter mixture cools, we mix in a small amount of clear 80 proof vodka. I recommend starting with 1 oz (29 ml) and adding a bit more as desired to balance the taste.

Note that the above amounts are rough guidelines, and assume a moderate (6% alpha) hops, and assume a strongly hop forward mixture. For high alpha hops, you probably will want to add less and for low alpha hops you may want to add more. You may need to play with the hop and alcohol content as well, or perhaps thin the mixture with water if it is too far out of balance when sampling. However the instructions above give you a good starting point to sample a hop variety without having to brew an entire batch of beer.

Also note that hops are poisonous to dogs – so please don’t leave your unused or spent hops anywhere that your dog might get into them!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Increasing the Body

Very often brewers say that they like a beer but wish it had more body. What exactly is "more body"? Is it a physically heavier, more dense beer? More flavor? More viscosity? In most cases it means a higher final gravity (FG), but not at the expense of incomplete fermentation. On a basic level, adding unfermentables is the only way to increase the FG and increase the body/weight/mouthfeel of the beer. There are two types of unfermentables that can be added: unfermentable sugars and proteins.

Unfermentable sugars are highly caramelized sugars, like those in caramel malts, and long chain sugars referred to as dextrins. Dextrin malt and malto-dextrin powder have been previously mentioned in the ingredients chapters. Dextrins are tasteless carbohydrates that hang around, adding some weight and viscosity to the beer. The effect is fairly limited and some brewers suspect that dextrins are a leading cause of "beer farts," when these otherwise unfermentable carbohydrates are finally broken down in the intestines.

Dark caramel and roasted malts like Crystal 80, Crystal 120, Special B, Chocolate Malt, and Roast Barley have a high proportion of unfermentable sugars due to the high degree of caramelization (or charring). The total soluble extract (percent by weight) of these malts is close to that of base malt, but just because it's soluble does not mean it is fermentable. These sugars are only partially fermentable and contribute both a residual sweetness and higher FG to the finished beer. These types of sugars do not share dextrin's digestive problems and the added flavor and color make for a more interesting beer. The contribution of unfermentable sugars from enzymatic and caramel malts can be increased by mashing at a higher temperature (i.e. 158°F) where the beta amylase enzyme is deactivated. Without this enzyme, the alpha amylase can only produce large sugars (including dextrins) from the starches and the wort is not as fermentable. The result is a higher final gravity and more body.

Proteins are also unfermentable and are the main contributor to the mouthfeel of a beer. Compare an oatmeal stout to a regular stout and you will immediately notice the difference. There is a special term for these mouthfeel-enhancing proteins - "medium-sized proteins." During the protein rest, peptidase breaks large proteins into medium proteins and protease breaks medium proteins into small proteins. In a standard well-modified malt, a majority of the large proteins have already been broken down into medium and small proteins. A protein rest is not necessary for further protein breakdown, and in fact, would degrade the beer's mouthfeel. A protein rest to produce medium-sized proteins for increased body is only practical when brewing with moderately-modified malts, wheat, or oatmeal, which are loaded with large proteins.

To add more body to an extract-based beer, add more caramel malt or some malto-dextrin powder. You can also increase the total amount of fermentables in the recipe which will raise both the OG and FG, and give you a corresponding increase in alcohol too.

Grain brewers can add dextrin malt, caramel malt, unmalted barley or oatmeal in addition to using the methods above. Grain brewing lends more flexibility in fine tuning the wort than extract brewing.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Cleanliness is the foremost concern of the brewer. Providing good growing conditions for the yeast in the beer also provides good growing conditions for other micro-organisms, especially wild yeast and bacteria. Cleanliness must be maintained throughout every stage of the brewing process.

Figure 17: The yeast cells are the round things, the worms are bacteria. 3000X

The definition and objective of sanitization is to reduce bacteria and contaminants to insignificant or manageable levels. The terms clean, sanitize and sterilize are often used interchangeably, but should not be. Items may be clean but not sanitized or vice versa. 

Here are the definitions:
  • Clean - To be free from dirt, stain, or foreign matter.
  • Sanitize - To kill/reduce spoiling microorganisms to negligible levels.
  • Sterilize - To eliminate all forms of life, especially microorganisms, either by chemical or physical means.

Cleaning is the process of removing all the dirt and grime from a surface, thereby removing all the sites that can harbor bacteria. Cleaning is usually done with a detergent and elbow grease. None of the sanitizing agents used by homebrewers are capable of eliminating all bacterial spores and viruses. The majority of chemical agents homebrewers use will clean and sanitize but not sterilize. However, sterilization is not necessary. Instead of worrying about sterilization, homebrewers can be satisfied if they consistently reduce these contaminants to negligible levels.

All sanitizers are meant to be used on clean surfaces. A sanitizer's ability to kill microorganisms is reduced by the presence of dirt, grime or organic material. Organic deposits can harbor bacteria and shield the surface from being reached by the sanitizer. So it is up to you to make sure the surface of the item to be sanitized is as clean as possible.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Malt Types and Usages

Malt Types and Usages

(Color i.e. lovibond, values listed as X L, are typical values)

Base Malts

Lager Malt 2 L Lager malt can be used to produce ales as well as lagers. The name comes from the fact that pale lagers are the most common style of beer and this is the malt type most commonly used to produce them. Because it tends to be the most available malt, it is used for nearly every other style also. Logically, if you intend to brew a pale lager, you would be best served by using lager malt.
After germination, lager malt is carefully heated in a kiln to 90F for the first day, withered at 120-140F for 12-20 hours and then cured at 175-185F for 4-48 hours depending on the maltster. This produces a malt with fine mild flavor and excellent enzyme potential. It is used as the basis of most of the world's beers in conjunction with specialty malts for added flavors.
Pale Ale Malt 3 L This malt type is kilned at higher temperatures than lager malt, giving a slightly toastier malt flavor well suited to Pale Ales.
Wheat Malt 3 L Wheat has been used for brewing beer nearly as long as barley and has equal diastatic power. Malted wheat is used for 5-70% of the mash depending on the style. Wheat has no outer husk and therefore has fewer tannins than barley. It is generally smaller than barley and contributes more protein to the beer, aiding in head retention. But it is much stickier than barley due to the higher protein content and may cause lautering problems if not given a "Protein Rest" during the mash.
Rye Malt 3 L Malted rye is not common but is gaining in popularity. It can be used as 5-10% of the grain bill for a rye "spicy" note. It is even stickier in the mash than wheat and should be handled accordingly.

Kilned Malts (need to be mashed)
These malts are commonly produced by increasing the curing temperatures used for base malt production, but can also be produced by toasting finished base malts for a period of time in an oven.

Biscuit Malt 25 L This fully toasted, lightly roasted malt is used to give the beer a bread and biscuits flavor. It is typically used as 10% of the total grain bill. Gives a deep amber color to the beer.
Victory Malt 25 L This roasted malt is similar in flavor to Biscuit but gives a more nutty taste to the beer. Victory adds orange highlights to the beer color.
Munich Malt 10 L This malt has an amber color and gives a very malty flavor. This malt has enough diastatic power to convert itself but is usually used in conjunction with a base malt for mashing. This malt is used for Oktoberfest-type beers and many others, including pale ales.
Vienna Malt 4 L This malt is lighter and sweeter than Munich malt and is a principal ingredient of Bock beers. Retains enough enzymatic power to convert itself but is often used with a base malt in the mash.
Dextrin Malt 3 L Also known as American Carapils, this malt is used sparingly and contributes little color but enhances the mouthfeel and perceived body of the beer. A common amount for a five gallon batch is 1/2 lb. Dextrin malt has no diastatic power. It must be mashed; if steeped it will contribute a lot of unconverted starch and cause starch haze.

Caramel Malts (may be steeped or mashed)
Caramel Malts have undergone a special heat "stewing" process after the malting which crystallizes the sugars. These sugars are caramelized into longer chains that are not converted into simple sugars by the enzymes during the mash. This results in a more malty, caramel sweet, fuller tasting beer. These malts are used for almost all ale and higher gravity lager styles. Various crystal malts are often added in half pound amounts to a total of 5-25% of the grain bill for a 5 gallon batch.

Caramel 10 10 L This malt adds a light honey-like sweetness and some body to the finished beer.
Caramel 40 40 L The additional color and light caramel sweetness of this malt is perfect for pale ales and amber lagers.
Caramel 60 60 L This is the most commonly used caramel malt, also known as medium crystal. It is well suited for pale ales, English style bitters, porters and stouts. It adds a full caramel taste and body to the beer.
Caramel 80 80 L This malt is used for making reddish colored beers and gives a lightly bittersweet caramel flavor.
Caramel 120 120 L This malt adds a lot of color and bittersweet caramel flavor. Useful in small amounts to add complexity or in greater amounts for old ales, barleywines and doppelbocks.
Special B 220 L This unique Belgian malt has a roasted nutty-sweet flavor. Used in moderation (1/4-1/2 lb.), it is very good in brown ales, porter, and doppelbocks. Larger amounts, more than a half pound in a 5 gallon batch, will lend a plum-like flavor (which may be desired in a barleywine in small amounts).

Roasted Malts (may be steeped or mashed)
These highly roasted malts contribute a coffee or burnt toast flavor to porters and stouts. Obviously these malts should be used in moderation. Some brewers recommend that they be added towards the end of the mash, claiming that this reduces the "acrid bite" that these malts can contribute. This practice does seem to produce a smoother beer for people brewing with "soft" or low bicarbonate water.

Chocolate Malt 400L Used in small amounts for brown ale and extensively in porters and stouts, this malt has a bittersweet chocolate flavor, pleasant roast character and contributes a deep ruby black color.
Black Patent Malt 580L This is the blackest of the black. It must be used sparingly, generally less than a half pound per 5 gallons. It contributes a roasted charcoal flavor that can actually be quite unpleasant if used in excess. It is useful for contributing color and/or setting a "limit" on the sweetness of other beer styles using a lot of caramel malt; one or two ounces is useful for this purpose.
Roast Barley 550L This is not actually a malt, but highly roasted plain barley. It has a dry, distinct coffee taste and is the signature flavor of Stouts. It has less of a charcoal "bite" to it than does Black Patent.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Hop Guide

Hop Guide

Humulus Lupulus (hops) are the flowering cone of a perennial vining plant and a cousin of the cannabis variety (sorry no THC in this stuff) that typically thrives in climates similar to the ones that grapes do. Hop plants are dioecious, meaning the males and females flower on separate plants -- and the female cones are used in the brewing process. Hops are the age old seasoning of the beer, the liquid gargoyles who ward-off spoilage from wild bacteria and bringers of balance to sweet malts. They also lend a hand in head retention, help to clear beer (acting as a natural filter) and please the palate by imparting their unique characters and flavours. Basically, hops put the "bitter" in beer. 

The following is a growing list of different hop varieties. 
AhtanumAhtanum is an aroma-type cultivar bred by Yakima Chief Ranches. Its name is derived from the area near Yakima where the first hop farm was established in 1869 by Charles Carpenter. (alpha acid: 5.7-6.3% / beta acid: 5.0-6.5%)
AmarilloAmarillo is an aroma-type cultivar of recent origin, discovered and introduced by Virgil Gamache Farms Inc. (alpha acid: 8-11% / beta acid: 6-7% )
CascadeCascade is an aroma-type cultivar which originated as the first commercial hop from the USDA-ARS breeding program. It was bred in 1956 but not released for cultivation until 1972. It reached its peak in 1975 when it produced 13.3% of the total American crop. It was obtained by crossing an English Fuggle with a male plant, which originated from the Russian variety Serebrianka with a Fuggle male plant.

A very popular U.S. variety, with a moderate bitterness level and fragrant, flowery aroma. Cascade is often used in highly hopped West Coast ales that have a citrus-floral hop character. (alpha acid: 4.5-6.0% / beta acid: 5.0-7.0% )
CentennialCentennial is an aroma-type cultivar, bred in 1974 and released in 1990. The genetic composition is 3/4 Brewers Gold, 3/32 Fuggle, 1/16 East Kent Golding, 1/32 Bavarian and 1/16 unknown.

A relatively new hop on the market, this hop used to be called CFJ90. Described by some as a "Super Cascade" and we tend to agree, but it's not nearly as "citrusy". Some even use it for aroma as well as bittering. Bitterness is quite clean and can have floral notes depending on the boil time. (alpha acid: 9.5-11.5% / beta acid: 4.0-5.0%)
ChinookChinook is a bittering variety with aroma characteristics released in May, 1985. It was bred by crossing a Petham Golding with the USDA 63012 male.

A high alpha acid hop with a wonderful herbal, almost smoky character when used as an aromatic during the last few minutes of the boil when dry hoping. Excellent for hopping American-style Pale Ales, especially those brewed to higher gravities. (alpha acid: 12.0-14.0% / beta acid: 3.0-4.0%)
ColumbusThis high alpha variety has a pungent aroma and clean bittering. Excellent for bitter ales and American IPA styles, and can be dramatic when dry hopped. (average alpha acid: 12%)
ClusterCluster originated from mass selection of the Cluster hop, which is an old American cultivar. It is suggested that they arose from hybridization of varieties, imported by Dutch and English settlers and indigenous male hops. (alpha acid: 5.5-8.5% / beta acid: 4.5-5.5%)
CrystalCrystal is a triploid aroma-type cultivar, released for commercial production in 1993. It originates from a seedling selection (No. 8309-37) made at Corvallis in 1983 between the colchicine - induced tetraploid 'Hallertau mf' (USDA 21397) and the diploid male downy mildew resistant aroma hop, USDA 21381M. Crystal is a half-sister of Mt. Hood and Liberty. (alpha acid: 4.0-6.0% / beta acid: 5.0-6.7%)
FuggleFuggle is an aroma-type cultivar selected in England as a chance seedling in 1861. It reached its peak in the U.K. in 1949 when 78% of the English crops were grown as Fuggle. It is also marketed as Styrian (Savinja) Golding in the Slovenian Republic. In the USA it is grown in Oregon and Washington State.

Superb in English-style ales, and lends a unique character not imparted by the more subtle American-grown Fuggles. (alpha acid: 3.8-5.5% / beta acid: 1.5-2.0%)
GalenaGalena is a bittering-type cultivar which was bred in 1968 from Brewers Gold and an open pollination, i.e. an unknown male plant. It was released for cultivation in 1978.

Galena is the most "mellow" hop of the high-alpha varieties, and has replaced Cluster as the most widely grown US hop. The bitterness is clean and well balanced. Great general purpose bittering hop. (alpha acid: 12.5-14.0% / beta acid: 7.5-9.0%)
GoldingGolding is a group of aroma-type cultivars originating in England. Over the decades, the group has been changed and widened. Mostly they have been named after villages in East Kent, (Petham, Rothersham, Canterbury, Eastwell) or hop farmers, who grew them (Amos's Early Bird, Cobbs).

English Goldings grown in East Kent, are a premium hop, called East Kent Golding and should not be confused with U.K. Goldings, which are grown in other parts such as Kent, Worcestershire, Hampshire and Herefordshire. The cultivar grown in the USA (Oregon and Washington State) is a Canterbury Golding.

The premier English aroma hop. Superb in English-style ales, and lend a unique character to fine lagers as well. This hop has a unique spicy aroma and refined flavor. (alpha acid: 4.0-6.0% / beta acid: 2.0-3.0%)
Hallertau mfHallertau mf (Mittelfrueh) is an aroma-type cultivar which originated in Germany as a land - race hop. The original Hallertau mf in Germany has been replaced with other Hallertau types with similar quality characteristics. The name indicates that it is a middle to early ripening cultivar.

If you are looking to brew an authentic European-style lager, this is the best choice. Mild spicy flavor and aroma. (alpha acid: 3.5-5.5% / beta acid: 3.5-5.5%)
HorizonHorizon is a high alpha-aroma cultivar, a diploid seedling result of a cross made in 1970 between the USDA 65009 female plant (with Brewers Gold and Early Green lineage) and the male plant 64035M. It was released as a commercial variety in 1998. (alpha acid: 10.2-16.5% / beta acid: 6.5-8.5%)
LibertyLiberty is a triploid aroma-type cultivar, the result in 1983 of the colchicine induced tetrapcoid female cultivar Hallertau mf and a downy mildew resistant male, USDA 64035M. It is a half-sister to Ultra, Mt. Hood and Crystal. (alpha acid: 3.5-4.5% / beta acid: 3.0-3.5%)
MagnumMagnum is a bittering/aroma type cultivar, bred in 1980 at Huell, the German Hop Research Instititute, from the American variety Galena and the German male 75/5/3. (alpha acid: 10.0-12.6% / beta acid: 5.0-7.0%)
Mount HoodMt. Hood is a triploid aroma-type cultivar, the 1983 result of a cross between the colchicine - induced tetraploid female Hallertau mf (USDA 21397) and the USDA 19058M, male plant. It is a half-sister to Ultra, Liberty and Crystal.

An aromatic variety derived from Hallertau with a refined, spicy aroma and clean bittering. A good choice for lagers. (alpha acid: 4.0-6.0% / beta acid: 5.0-7.5%)
Northern BrewerNorthern Brewer is a bittering-type cultivar, bred in 1934 in England from a Canterbury Golding female plant and the male plant OB21. Northern Brewer has been used in the breeding process of many newer varieties. This cultivar is grown in England, Belgium, Germany and the USA.

A strong fragrant hop with a rich rough-hewn flavor and aroma, ideal for steam-style beers and ales. Northern Brewer has a unique mint-like evergreen flavor. (alpha acid: 8.0-10.0%/ beta acid: 3.0-5.0%)
NuggetNugget is a bittering-type cultivar, bred in 1970 from the USDA 65009 female plant and USDA 63015M. The lineage of Nugget is 5/8 Brewers Gold, 1/8 Early Green, 1/16 Canterbury Golding, 1/32 Bavarian and 5/32 unknown.

Nugget is a great bittering hop with a heavy herbal aroma. (alpha acid: 12.5-14.5% / beta acid: 4.0-6.0%)
PerlePerle is an aroma-type cultivar, bred in 1978 in Germany from Northern Brewer. It is grown in Germany, Belgium and the U. S. A.

Perle is a newer variety, originally from Germany but now grown quite successfully in the US. Perle is a medium alpha hop with a very clean, almost minty bitterness and pleasant aroma. (alpha acid: 7.0-9.5% / beta acid: 4.0-5.0%)
SaazSaaz is the traditional noble hop for true pilsner beer. Saaz is famous for its spicy, clean bitterness. (average alpha acid: 3.0%)
SatusSatus is a bittering-type cultivar of recent origin. (alpha acid: 12.5-14.0% / beta acid: 8.5-9.0%)
SimcoeSimcoe is a bittering/aroma type cultivar bred by Yakima Chief Ranches. (alpha acid: 12.0-14.0% / beta acid: 4.0-5.0%)
Spalt SelectSpalt Select is an aroma – type cultivar, bred in Germany and released for cultivation in the late 1980's. It is grown in Germany in the Hallertau and Spalt areas and in the U.S.A. in Washington State. (alpha acid: 3.5-5.5% / beta acid: 3.0-4.5%)
SterlingSterling is an aroma cultivar, a diploid seedling made in 1990 with a 21522 female plant and a 21361 male plant. Its parentage is 1/2 Saazer, 1/4 Cascade, 1/8 64035M (unknown German aroma X open pollination),1/16 Brewers Gold, 1/32 Early Green, and 1/32 unknown. (alpha acid: 4.5-5.0% / beta acid: 5.0-6.0%)
TettnangTettnang is an aroma-type cultivar which originated in the Tettnang hop growing area of Germany as a land-race hop. It is grown in the U.S.A. in Oregon and Washington State.

The original noble hop from the Tettnang region of Germany, ideal for your finest lagers and wheat beers. This limited availability hop has a fine, pure aroma, that is not present in United States grown Tettnanger. (alpha acid: 4.0-5.0% / beta acid: 3.5-4.5%)
TomahawkTomahawk is a bittering hop of recent origin, bred by Charles Zimmermann. It is the first commercially grown 'Super Alpha' variety. In 1998 it contributed to 11% of the USA hop crop. (alpha acid: 14.0-18.0% / beta acid: 4.5-5.8%)
UltraUltra is a triploid aroma-type cultivar, originated in 1983 from a cross between the colchicine-induced tetraploid Hallertau mf (USDA 21397) and the diploid Saazer-derived male genotype (USDA 21237m). Ultra is the half-sister to Mt. Hood, Liberty and Crystal. Its genetic composition is 4/6 Hallertau mf, 1/6 Saazer, and 1/6 unknown. This cultivar was released for commercial production in March, 1995. (alpha acid: 4.5-5.0% / beta acid: 3.6-4.7%)
US FuggleA mild-flavored English-style hop grown in Oregon, with a fragrant wood-like aroma. Milder in character than English Fuggles. This hop imparts a smooth, well rounded hop character. (average alpha acid: 3.9%)
VanguardVanguard is a diploid seedling made in 1982 between USDA 21285, which has Hallertau mf parentage and USDA 64037m. It was released for cultivation in 1997. (alpha acid: 5.0-6.0% / beta acid: 5.0-7.0%)
WarriorWarrior is a bittering hop of a recent origin, bred by Yakima Chief Ranches. (alpha acid: 15.0-17.0% / beta acid: 4.5-5.5%)
WillametteWillamette is a triploid aroma-type hop, which originated in the mid 1970’s and is a seedling of Fuggle. It is a very popular aroma hop, contributing in 1998 to 18% of the total USA hop crop.

A variation on English Fuggle hops grown in Oregon and Washington. Willamette has a fragrant spicy woody aroma. An excellent American aromatic hops for ales and lagers. (alpha acid: 4.0-6.0% / beta acid: 3.5-4.5%)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Grains and Adjuncts Chart

Here's a composite list of grains and adjuncts. The color is listed in degrees Lovibond and the gravity is calculated from 1 pound of the ingredient in 1 gallon of water. Click on the general categories below to begin experimenting and enjoy!

Key: L = Degrees Lovibond, G = Gravity
Black Barley525°1.023-1.027Imparts dryness. Unmalted; use in porters and dry stouts.
Black Patent Malt500°1.026Provides color and sharp flavor in stouts and porters.
Chocolate Malt350°1.034Use in all types to adjust color and add nutty,
toasted flavor. Chocolate flavor.
Crystal Malt40°1.033-1.035Sweet, mild caramel flavor and a golden color.
Use in light lagers and light ales.
Crystal Malt90°1.033-1.035Pronounced caramel flavor and a red color.
 For stouts, porters and black beers.
Crystal Malt60°1.033-1.035Sweet caramel flavor, deep golden to red color.
 For dark amber and brown ales.
Crystal Malt30°1.033-1.035Sweet, mild caramel flavor and a golden color.
Use in light lagers and light ales.
Crystal Malt20°1.033-1.035Sweet, mild caramel flavor and a golden color.
Use in light lagers and light ales.
Crystal Malt120°1.033-1.035Pronounced caramel flavor and a red color.
For stouts, porters and black beers.
Crystal Malt10°1.033-1.035Sweet, mild caramel flavor and a golden color.
Use in light lagers and light ales.
Crystal Malt80°1.033-1.035Sweet, smooth caramel flavor and a red to
deep red color. For porters, old ales.
Dextrin Malt (carapils)1.5°1.033Balances body and flavor without adding
 color, aids in head retention. For any beer.
Munich Malt10°1.034Sweet, toasted flavor and aroma. For
Oktoberfests and malty styles.
Pale Malt (Brewers 2-row)1.8°1.037-1.038Smooth, less grainy, moderate malt flavor
. Basic malt for all beer styles.
Pale Malt (Brewers 6-row)1.8°1.035Moderate malt flavor. Basic malt for all beer styles.
Roasted Barley300°1.025Sweet, grainy, coffee flavor and a red
to deep brown color. For porters and stouts.
Special Roast50°1.035Provides a deep golden to brown color
 for ales. Use in all darker ales.
Victory Malt25°1.034Provides a deep golden to brown color.
 Use in nut brown ales, IPAs and Scottish ales.
Vienna Malt3.5°-4°1.035Increases malty flavor, provides balance.
 Use in Vienna, Märzen and Oktoberfest.
Wheat Malt1.038Light flavor and creamy head. For American
 weizenbier, weissbier and dunkelweiss.
White Wheat Malt1.037Imparts a malty flavor. For American
wheat beers, wheat bock and doppel bock.