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Showing posts from 2016

How Long Does It Take to Make a Batch of Beer?

As a home brewer, there is one question that almost every non-brewer asks me: "How long does it take to make a batch of beer?" This question might mean any of the following, or all of them:

How much time and effort goes into brewing and bottling a batch of beer?How long does it take to go from grain, water, yeast, and hops to a finished glass of beer?How long does the brewing and bottling process take, end-to-end? They might even be asking a combination of these questions.

The unfortunate part is that you can't give a single answer to the question. Brewing effort is affected by:

The brewer's experience and skill levelThe brewer's equipmentWhether the recipe is an extract brew, all-grain brew, mini-mash, or extract with steeping grainsThe temperature in the brewing area (e.g, if it's cold, it takes longer to heat water)The recipe being madeThe yeast strain being usedThe availability of temperature control during fermentation What I usually tell people is that &q…

Gulden Draak Clone, version 2.0

About two years ago, I decided to try my luck at brewing a Gulden Draak clone. Gulden Draak is one of my favorite Belgian beers, but its price makes it one that I don't drink nearly as often as I'd like.

To do that particular clone, I cultured up yeast from the dregs of four bottles of the real beer and tossed it in an extract beer I'd brewed based on a recipe in a book.

This time around, I wanted to do an all-grain clone and see if commercial dry yeasts would result in a beer that was close to the original.

As you can see in the image at the left, the clone came out very close in color to the original beer. Unfortunately, while there were similarities in the flavor and aroma, in those respects the clone needs more work.

The recipe below is derived from one I found somewhere... in a book or online.


The Ingredients
13 pounds Belgian 2-row Pale Malt
1 pound Caramel/Crystal 40L
1 pound WhiteSwaen Wheat Malt
8 ounces Melanoidin Malt
5 ounces Caramunich I Malt
4 ounces Biscuit …

Surly Bender Brown Ale Clone v1.0

Surly Brewing Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is well respected in the craft beer community for its many fine beers. None of them are available, as of this writing, in Ohio. I ran across a clone recipe on Northern Brewer, supposedly provided by the brewmasters at Surly, for their Bender brown ale. I liked the general description of the beer and its ingredient list, so I decided to brew my own version.

At left, you can see the finished beer and the Futurama-inspired label I came up with for it.

The finished beer is a dark brown color with thin beige head that doesn't last more than a few seconds. As a first attempt at a brown ale, I'm happy with it.

I've never had the actual Surly beer, so it's fair to say this is not an exact clone. It's more like my interpretation of what I imagine the real beer to be like.

The Ingredients
7.25 pounds 2-row Pale Malt
1.75 pounds Aromatic Malt
12 ounces Crystal/Caramel 60L Malt
12 ounces Belgian Special B Malt
12 ounces Flaked Oa…

Belgian Tripel v6.0

Back in May, I brewed my last attempt at a Belgian Tripel. All of the attempts so far have been good beers but haven't been exactly what I wanted... sort of  cross between Unibroue's La Fin Du Monde, Tripel Karmeliet, and Victory Golden Monkey. I want a mildly sweet base with notes of spice and fruit showing through. The recipe below is a variation on a La Fin Du Monde clone recipe I found, and marks the sixth time I've tried to brew a Tripel I really loved.

The Ingredients
11 pounds of Bohemian Pilsner Malt
8 ounces of Honey Malt
4 ounces of Munich Malt
3 ounces of Cara-Pils Malt
2 ounces of Aromatic Malt
1.25 pounds of table sugar
1 pound of Golden Candi Syrup (5L)
1/2 tsp. Coriander seed, crushed
0.5 oz. Bitter Orange Peel
0.25 oz. Sweet Orange Peel
0.5 oz. Styrian Goldings @ 6.2% AA
0.35 oz. Northern Brewer @ 10.1% AA
0.3 oz. Styrian Goldings @ 6.2% AA
0.3 oz. Hallertau Mittelfrueh @ 4% AA
0.65 oz. Czech Saaz @ 3.2%
1 Campden Tablet
1 Tbsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
0.5 tsp. S…

My Brewing Process, Part 6 - Bottling

In the previous installments, we covered recipe adjustment and ingredient prep, mashing, boiling, fermentation, and cleanup.

Continuing on in the series about my brewing process, today we'll talk about bottling the finished beer. Below is what I do to get my beer out of the fermenter, into bottles, and ready to drink.

Getting the Bottles Ready
Before you can bottle a batch of beer, you need enough bottles. I use recycled bottles almost exclusively. I use bottles from beer I purchase, from samples I receive from other home brewers, bottles friends bring me, or from previous batches of my own beer. I remove the labels from the bottles, typically by soaking them in hot water and generic, unscented Oxy Clean.

After the bottles are de-labeled, I run them through our dishwasher with detergent. This ensures that the bottles are clean and ready to use.

I typically do the above steps days or weeks before bottling.

Sanitizing Everything
Before I bottle my beer, I want to ensure that I have ve…

My Brewing Process - Part 5, Cleanup

In the previous installments of this series of posts, we've looked at recipe creation and prep, mashing, boiling, and fermenting.  Now it's time to look at cleanup.

The more batches of beer I've done, the more I refine my cleaning process and activities.

I try to do cleaning when I'm not actively working on brewing the beer. For example, during the mash there are long stretches of time where you can clean or sanitize equipment. The same is true during some parts of the boil process. If you use your time effectively, you can get most of your cleanup done by the time you pump the wort into the fermenter. This will reduce your overall elapsed brewing time.

After the sparge process is finished, I lift the grain basket off the kettle and place it inside a 5-gallon stainless kettle that it fits comfortably inside.

As the wort heats to boiling in The Grainfather, I begin scooping the grain out of the basket and into a plastic bag or trash can for disposal.  (If you have cats …

My Brewing Process, Part 4 - Fermentation

Up to this point, I've selected a recipe, milled the grains, mashed them, completed the boil and transferred the wort to a fermenter.
Fermenter Choice
For primary fermentation, and often for secondary, I use an SS Brewing Technologies Brewmaster Bucket.
I started out with plastic bucket fermenters, which I liked because of their inability to be broken, relative lightness, and ease of cleaning relative to a glass carboy.
Then, I migrated to a plastic Better Bottle 6.5 gallon fermenter. This worked fine but had the downside of being difficult to transfer the wort to a bottling bucket. Recently, I retrofitted the Better Bottle with a spigot so that I could get wort out of it without the need for a siphon. A friend of mine had a bad experience with contamination from a siphon, and I've vowed to eliminate them from my own setup if at all possible.
Finally, I invested in the SS Brewing Technologies Brewmaster Bucket. I also invested in a Chapman SteelTank stainless fermenter.
The Ch…

Adventures in Homebrewing Shades of Gourd Kit

Today I brewed the "Shades of Gourd" pumpkin spice ale kit from Adventures in Homebrewing. They describe the beer as a light and elegant pumpkin ale.

The kit arrives with all the grain in a plastic bag. The hops and spices are in other bags, combined with priming sugar and/or yeast depending on how you order the kit.

The Recipe
The kit contains the following:

7 pounds of 2-row Pale Malt1 pound of Honey Malt12 ounces of Crystal 60L Malt12 ounces of Crystal 10L Malt8 ounces of Carafoam Malt1 ounce of Tettnang hops pellets (marked as 2% AA in my kit)20 grams of Pumpkin Pie Spice I added the following: 1 packet of Safale US-05 yeast1/4 teaspoon of Super Irish Moss, rehydrated in water1/2 teaspoon of Wyeast Yeast NutrientCampden tablet added to mash and sparge water to remove chlorine and chloramine The yeast matches with the Adventures in Homebrewing options, but I already had it on hand. The other two items were designed to clarify the beer and ensure yeast health during fermentat…

Cascade Pale Ale Clone, version 2.0

A good friend of mine loved Stevens Point Brewing's Cascade Pale Ale. Since the beer is no longer made, I tried to get the recipe from the brewery itself but failed. Based on the available data, I knew it had three malts in it: 2-row Pale, Munich, and Crystal.

I made a version 1.0, but was very disappointed with it. Compared with the original, it lacked much of the flavor and aroma of the Cascade hop. It was darker, and lacked the sweetness of the original beer. In short, it wasn't even in the ballpark. Time to go back to the drawing board.

Version 2.0 research had me searching various online forums for award-winning pale ale recipes by homebrewers. Specifically, I wanted to try to find a recipe that used only Pale, Munch, and Crystal malts and came out in the color and alcohol ballpark of the Stevens Point beer. I found a Lara Pale Ale recipe that used Goldings, Fuggle, Amarillo, and Cascade hops. I scaled that recipe down from 23 gallons to 5.6 (which in my system works out …