Poll: what do you do with your water?

Just want to see how folks deal with their water. What you have to do depends on your source, and associated mineral contents. I’m wondering how actively folks prepare their brewing water.

What is your Water treatment?

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Poll: What’s your source of recipes / brewing kits?

Poll to see how you select your ingredients / brewing kits. Single choice, just choose the one you do the most.

How do you design or purchase your brewing kits / recipes?

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Poll: What’s your brewing method

I’m just interested in seeing how folks brew. I believe the vast majority of home brewers are extract brewers, but I’m also interested to see the breakdown of my reach.

Bonus points for answering in the comments section if your method is automated, partially, fully, pushbutton.

What is your current brewing method, Multiple selection allowed.

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Closing out the year and beginning the new.

The first and last words on the subject, I took a while off from brewing, but I’m back at it. Here’s what I’ve been up to, since being back brewing.

Replacing my keggerator lines and cleaning taps. Initially built it 3.5 years ago, line replacement was overdue, they were yellowed with hop oils and other build up. They were not cleaned nearly often enough, but such is the life of a infrequently used keggerator. I am considering a different setup, but haven’t worked out the details. I like the capacity for cold kegs, and carbing and such, but maybe a dorm fridge setup? Then convert the freezer into a ferm chamber. I just want to be able to serve two kegs, but really only need to have one functional tap.

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Bottle washing… multiple hours + a large number of randomly sized bottles, rinsed, but not cleaned, or delabeled bottles needed cleaning. Now that I’ve got those done, I’m ready to complete some transfers. I’ve got three beers that need to be packaged or transferred or conditioned. Last years RIS needs to be bottled, It’s currently in a keg in the keggerator carbonating. The coolership grapefruit ‘saison’ I made, which is now over a year old, and was just bottled, and just needs some conditioning. I’ve also got a 4g batch of berliner that I finished with brett, that needs to be split and fruited (1/2 currant / 1/2 strawberry black berry rhubarb), then bottled in about a month. I don’t have enough heavy glass, and I”ve been quite disappointed with the 500ml bottles I purchased for this use. I guess I need to to finish up some of the gose, berliner, and saison currently occupying those bottles. Then more washing.

Brewing, yes, I actually said I was brewing again. I brewed a batch based on Tasty’s session pale ale.


My recipe is a variation, on the base bones. I used the base malts I had on hand, the biggest substations were hop varieties, and Oats in place of c-pills. Brew session was uneventful, no major screw ups aside from the ziplock bag melted to the burner during heating strike. I’m not sure how I managed that, but burnt plastic is a wonderful post christmas smell.

IMG 4746


SB (1.0) TASTY’S SESSION PALE ALE  American Pale Ale
Batch Size : 2.00 gal     69.0 IBUs Estimated.
OG: 1.0442 SG     FG: 1.0133 SG
Mash: BIAB, Medium Body
Boil: 60 minutes

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
0.69 kg Pale Ale Malt 2-Row (Briess) (3.50 SRM) Grain 1 43.0 %
0.30 kg Golden Promise (Simpsons) (2.00 SRM) Grain 2 19.0 %
0.22 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.00 SRM) Grain 3 14.0 %
0.22 kg Valley Crystal Light (15.00 SRM) Grain 4 14.0 %
0.08 kg Caramel Malt – 40L (Briess) (40.00 SRM) Grain 5 5.0 %
0.08 kg Oats, Flaked (1.00 SRM) Grain 6 5.0 %
Hops Used
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
5.00 g Chinook [13.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 23.1 IBUs
12.00 g Cascade [5.50 %] – Boil 20.0 min Hop 8 12.9 IBUs
15.00 g Galaxy [14.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 9 27.1 IBUs
12.00 g Cascade [5.50 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 20.0 min Hop 12 5.8 IBUs
20.00 g Cascade [5.50 %] – Dry Hop 0.0 Days Hop 14 0.0 IBUs
Yeasts Used
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
1.0 pkg SafAle English Ale (DCL/Fermentis #S-04) [23.66 ml] Yeast 13
Misc Ingredients
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 5.0 mins) Fining 10
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 5.0 mins) Other 11

Next batch for 2015 was a simple saison recipe. I’m trying to achieve a crisp, pale, dry saison, akin to Saison brett, but w/a lower abv. Boulevard’s Saison Brett is one of my all time favorite beers, but at 9%, It’s not something I need a real quantity of. I did my usual research, it seems there are two fairly well known things about saison brett. First it’s almost the same as tank 7 saison, but is mashed different to finish lower. The second is that Steven Pauwels Boulevard Head brewmaster has shared the tank 7 recipe a number of times. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=250256.

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Just like Tasty’s pale ale recipe above, I didn’t brew the given recipe verbatim. I was riffing on the idea of a brett finished saison, with amarillo hops. In another inspired moment, by bio transformation, brett, and buckwheat. I wanted to brew a buckwheat saison. For details on that type stuff, see Mad Fermentationist, http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2011/05/buckwheat-sour-amber-ale-recipe.html  and Derek at Bear flavored http://www.bear-flavored.com/2015/07/buckwheat-sour-saison-recipe-brewing.html. Also… Buckwheat has a precursor called capric acid, Capri, being ‘goat’, and the brand ambassador from Boulevard has a bit of a thing for goats which I couldn’t overlook.

Temps for the cereal mash / gelatinization temperatures can be found in derek’s blogs above. I used a slow cooker for them,followed by a long and low mash, to ensure a highly fermentable wort. Once fermented, I’ll pitch a healthy dose of brett c, and give it a month or two to age. I used the stall happy dupont saison yeast, so I’m also taking a few additional precautions to ensure a complete fermentation. Low scarification temp, Healthy 1l yeast starter in a 2g batch of very well aerated wort, in a loosely covered fermentor. While the yeast is working, I’m going to be actively pushing the temp from 66 pitch temp, to a peak of 85 over the course of the next week or so. Which I’ll follow up by pitching brett C, into in secondary. Once secondary is nearly complete (3 weeks) I’ll dry hop with more amarillo, and bottle in some high pressure glass, and hope for the best.

Here’s my recipe.


Chèvre Fermier Saison  Saison
Batch Size : 2.00 gal     36.6 IBUs Estimated.
OG: 1.0500 SG     FG: 1.0078 SG
Mash: BIAB, Saison extra Light Body
Boil: 60 minutes

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
1.31 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.00 SRM) Grain 4 75.0 %
0.17 kg Roasted Buckwheat (2.00 SRM) Grain 5 10.0 %
0.09 kg Red Winter Wheat (2.10 SRM) Grain 6 5.0 %
0.17 kg Dextrose (Briess) (1.00 SRM) Sugar 7 10.0 %
Hops Used
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
7.00 g Bullion [8.80 %] – Boil 30.0 min Hop 8 16.3 IBUs
20.00 g Amarillo [9.20 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 10 12.6 IBUs
15.00 g Amarillo [9.20 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 10.0 min Hop 12 7.7 IBUs
20.00 g Amarillo [9.20 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 15 0.0 IBUs
Yeasts Used
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
1.0 pkg Belgian Saison (Wyeast Labs #3724) [124.21 ml] Yeast 13
1.0 pkg Brettanomyces Claussenii (White Labs #WLP645) [50.28 ml] [Add to Secondary] Yeast 14
Misc Ingredients
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
2.70 ml Lactic Acid (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 1
2.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 2
1.00 g Calcium Chloride (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 3
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 5.0 mins) Fining 9
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 5.0 mins) Other 11

I am following up the buckwheat version with a corn grit version, the only change is swapping corn grits in for the buckwheat. I’m very eager to see the differences in these two beers. I don’t think I’ve controlled the variables this tightly since I tried to nail daisy cutter. I won’t have results for another few months, between primary, brett secondary, then dry hop, but should be a great spring beer, if it finishes how I hope it does.

IMG 4750

It’s really good to be back at it, I’ve been missing brewing, I’ve missed writing, and getting feedback, I’ve missed the constructive outlet, but haven’t had the free time, or the inclination to do it for a while. I’m going to skip the 2015 full recap (the summer recap was up for 7 months) and goals for now, perhaps a future update will shed some light into what has and has not progressed. Safe to say, I’m still a work in progress.

Happy New Year, and Cheers!

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Poll: to bottle or not to bottle

How do you cap your bottles?

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I’ve found I want to replace my aging wing capper with bench capper, I’m wondering what you use to cap, and if you like it. Please comment with type of capper if you are a big fan of it, or hate what you have.

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Summer 15 updates –

Quite a few brew days have passed since my last update, 10 brew sessions to be precise. I’ve not had a ton of time to blog and brew, I chose brewing. I’ve brewed 4 Berliner weisses and one Gose, 2 IPAs (one smoked english, one hoppy american North east style), 2 milds, and a saison. I’m up to batch 49, and thinking about what should be batch 50. I’ve made good progress on Berliners, with 1/2 of my batch 6 being almost exactly what I have wanted. Batch 7 is effectively a rebrew, if it’s where I want it, I’ll consider that beer conquered. I’m waiting a few more days for to taste the beer, to ensure it’s where it should be sour wise. IMG 4368 f it is, I’ll write it up, and finally include the results of my Berliner survey. My Gose, Down Gose Frazier, is also in a similar situation. It’s waiting on final souring / fruit before I can write that up. They are really that different from each other, I’m hoping the recipe changes are sufficient to distinguish them more than just a salty Berliner. Continue reading

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Clone again. Bitter American 4

I brewed this a while back, kicked the keg tonight while bottling for homebrewing club night. I said I’d share my notes / recipe. The Recipe is based on the BYO Clones from cans recipes. https://byo.com/stories/issue/itemlist/category/52-mar-apr-2012 (no recipe here). I’ve been making different versions of this beer since I started, this might be the best version so far.

IMG 4129

This versions brew day was interesting I made some successful audibles that helped keep the beer on track, but I still had one issue which I think prevented the beer from fully attenuating. I corrected a preboil gravity issue, by boiling to the correct preboil gravity / volume. I also made a last minute hop substitution. This was huge for me. Making the correct adjustments in time was confidence inspiring. I feel like if I can do this, I can really turn a corner in my brewing. The one issue was with underpitching my yeast, which lead to a very slow ferment with the us05, and likely the under attenuation. With the Keg kicked, it’s time to brew another hoppy Pale, to keep the hoppy beers fresh and coming. The question is, another Bitter American, or something new.

When I do brew this again, these are my thoughts. The aroma is good, the bitterness is a little over the top, so I’ll want to lower the bittering charge, and move the 15m to 10m. I don’t think it needs a double dry hop regime, I dry hopped in primary, and that was good enough for this beer. I would like it to dry out bit more, and go back to c40. I think next time, I’ll pitch the proper amount of yeast, but I will consider a move to s04 instead of us05.


IMG 4130 2

Bitter American Clone  American Pale Ale
Batch Size : 2.00 gal     68.5 IBUs Estimated.
OG: 1.0488 SG     FG: 1.020 SG
Mash: BIAB, Full Body
Boil: 90 minutes

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
1.50 kg Golden Promise (Simpsons) (2.00 SRM) Grain 4 84.3 %
0.10 kg Munich I (Weyermann) (7.10 SRM) Grain 5 5.6 %
0.08 kg Acidulated (Weyermann) (1.80 SRM) Grain 6 4.5 %
0.05 kg Caramel Malt – 20L (Briess) (20.00 SRM) Grain 7 2.8 %
0.05 kg Caramel Malt – 60L (Briess) (60.00 SRM) Grain 8 2.8 %
Hops Used
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
8.00 g Nugget [13.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 9 33.1 IBUs
14.00 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 10 22.1 IBUs
14.00 g Citra [13.40 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 15.0 min Hop 13 13.3 IBUs
14.00 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 15 0.0 IBUs
9.00 g Simcoe [13.00 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 16 0.0 IBUs
Yeasts Used
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
0.5 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) [50.28 ml] Yeast 14



Misc Ingredients
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
4.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 2
2.00 g Calcium Chloride (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 3
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 5.0 mins) Fining 11
2.00 tsp Yeast Energizer (Boil 5.0 mins) Other 12


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Please take my Berliner Weisse Brewing survey!

I’m trying to gather some data about how folks brew their Berliner Weisses if you wouldn’t mind taking the survey, and passing it along to your friends who brew them that may not read my blog I’d appreciate it. I’ll be sharing the results once I’ve had a chance to review them. 


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Bottle conditioning hack.

I’ve struggled getting proper carbonation on some of my bottles, specifically my sour saison. When I finished reading the chapter on packaging in American Sour beers, and it didn’t have any better advise than test and see. I then realized my friend JD had a really great hack for knowing the progress of your bottle conditioning. When bottle conditioning he fills a pet soda bottle along with his regular bottles. You’ll be able tell if your beer is carbonating as expected by the pressure building in the soda bottles. Bonus points if you use a brown root beer bottle, which will prevent the beer from being light struck. I can take no credit for this tip, it’s a lesson I should have learned long ago.

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Happy new year, here’s some stuff you should do.

With the new year and the height of brew season ahead of us, now’s a good time to do a few things you might have ignored the rest of the year. Here’s my list of things you should probably do, if you haven’t done them recently. I’m sure I have missed stuff, despite asking twitter for recommendations.

IMG 3961

Inventory and restock – See what you do and don’t have on hand. I over analyze this, and track inventory in beersmith. It really helps with recipe substitutions and formulation. This is as much to prevent running out of gypsum on brew day, but also see what you should use up that’s about to expire. This goes for any and all consumables, cleaners, bottle caps, and clean bottles. Inventory what beers you have on hand too. Use the info to determine what you might want to brew in the coming year. In taking inventory and restocking, keep in mind the poor 2014 growing season for malt which could drive prices higher for 2015 and beyond. While your at it, label your stuff with purchase type, quantity, and purchase date.

Plan your brewing schedule – After you have figured out what ingredients you have on hand to brew, plan your brewing schedule. A proper schedule will allow you to use lower gravity batches as starters for future beers. This will help you optimize your yeast purchases. Plan the brews in increasing gravity, ibu, SRM, to optimize yeast pitching health. Look at the calendar and figure out when you need to brew your Maibock, Berliner Eeisse, and pale ale so it’s ready for that competition, may, or summer sipping. What’s worse than your imperial stout being ready for your summer party, but no session beer. If you plan it right, you’ll have your beers brewed in time for the right season. Take in consideration what beers you brewed last year, and went over well, and what ones didn’t get finished in a timely fashion.

Clean your keggerator – Now that you have planned your future brews, make room in your keggerator for them and get it in top shape. Dump those old stale beers. Clean your lines if they are newish, replace them if they are more than a year or so old. Disassemble your taps, and give them a good scrub. Prevent leaks by tightening any loose fittings, make sure to replace the teflon tape when reassembling them. Give your kegs a good once over and see if any o rings need to be replaced. Prevent rust by cleaning up any moisture or spilled beer, maybe refresh or replace your desiccant.

IMG 3974

Replace all your old plastics, buckets, and hoses. Anything old, cloudy, scratched, soiled or stained, kinked or nicked should be pitched. How long has it been since you replaced your siphon hose or auto siphon? Boil your high temp hoses to rid them of any built up. Check the hoses going to and from your immersion chiller and water filter. Those connections are prone to failure. You’ll thank yourself the next time your buddy tells you about their chiller failure amid brew day.

Clean the rest of your brewing gear. This is my hat tip Brulosophy (and his clean your ball valve post). Disassemble and clean your ball valves. Sit down and scrub that gear that doesn’t always see the best cleaning. Scrub your mash tun, use some bar keepers friend and make your stainless kettle or keggle shine inside and out. Clean up and organize your home brewery.

Calibrate your thermometers, hydrometers, refractometers and scales. You received some new gear for the holiday, now’s a good time to make sure it’s measuring the temps and the volume markings are correct, or make some markings on it.

IMG 3823

Check the expiration date on your propane tanks and c0/ 02 tanks. Worse than not having propane, co, or o2 when you need it, is not being able to fill that tank because it’s expired. Propane tanks need to be qualified ever 5-12 years depending of type / style, and CO2 and other pressurized gas has similar re-qualifying requirements. Usually you can recycle your tank at your local hardware store, or gas supplier. After checking the expiration dates, make sure your tanks are full. Running out of propane or oxygen mid brew is a bad thing.

Basically, this is to remind you to think about all aspects of your brewing process, and gear you don’t maintain on a regular basis. Start a maintenance log for your home brewery and keep it up to date. One final reminder, replace the batteries in you CO monitor, ph meter, powered thermometer, and start your brew year off on the right foot.

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