Designing a Parti-gyle brew day.

This is not my usual brew day recap, I’ve planning on brewing a big imperial stout, and I wanted to use all the grains we were putting in the mash tun to create two beers instead of just one. This calls for leveraging the age old Parti-gyle technique. While the technique is old school, I’ve yet to find a modern tool that can design a parti-gyle recipe. Continue reading

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Very small batch Cyser

Making a mead has been in my brewing pipeline for quite some time. Last fall I took a swing at a cyser, but it was really more of a honey fortified cider, than a real cyser. Having tried a really good example at one of the BFD club meetings, I knew I wanted to make a better example. After listening to Michael Fairbrother (member of, and former President of BFD) of Moonlight Meadery on BeerSmith’s podcast talking about meads, and specifically Kurts Apple Pie (Cyser) I had a fairly good idea how to make a cyser I was hoping for. Continue reading

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Poll: How long does your beer last?

How long does a batch of your beer last?

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Homebrew Review – Heady Topper clone

Posting some belated tasting notes for the Heady Topper Clone which was brewed back in May. This beer was a bit of a challenge to brew, with the hop bill, and hopping regimen. I ran into some issues during the brew day, and after which resulted in the beer not being quite what I wanted. With that said, I’m eager to make another attempt at this beer.

When I brewed this there were three clear issues in the brewing process of this beer, I overshot my OG by a significant amount. I could have corrected this in the brew kettle, but in an oversight I did not. I allowed this to ferment too high. Despite my cool basement, and a water bath to chill this beer out, I was not able to keep it under control. When a beer with this much fermentables it’s easy for it to just run away, and ferment hot. I hope to be handle this by moving the sugar addition to the fermenter, and building a fermentation control chamber. Lastly, my final issue was that the yeast gave up the ghost. I hope to have a fresh built up pitch of conan for my next batch.

I’m happy with the resulting beer despite the issues. This is not a clone in any respect, the inclusion of crystal malt, my altered hop bill, and the beer is far too different from the original. It’s far too sweet, not pithy and grapefruity that I get with the real deal. It’s also has non of the peachy aroma that’s prominent from the can. The color is darker, and the body is also noticeably thicker.

On the plus side, the head retention is great. The aroma was really fruity, and hoppy. The beer was a really good DIPA, and I’m disappointed to say, I didn’t drink it nearly fast enough.

Overall for my first take on a double ipa, and such a overly hopped beer, I did ok.

Changes planned for the next time:

o2, I’ve now added this to my brewing setup.

2.5g or smaller batch. I don’t consume high abv beers fast, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve still got some on hand.

Reset my recipe, based on this thread:

Basically, Match the grain and hop bill more closely.

Water chemistry. This is something I’ve been putting off until I have a better grasp of my brewing process, but it’s important to all beer stlyes, but much more so for hoppy beers.

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It’s a brew party and third time is a charm?

Brewing is a involved endeavor. To plan and pack all of my brewing gear into my car and spend an afternoon brewing at a friend’s house is quite a feat. In August when the invite appeared from Mike to a brewing party, I put it on the calendar. IMG_2826.JPG
I assumed that life would some how get int the way, and I would have problems making it, but I thought it would be fun. The weekend came, and even though I brewed the prior week, I busied my self writing a pack list, and making a starter. The only decision left was what to make. I’ve wanted to take another swing at my hoppy wheat (2am Maiden) for some time. Knowing I still had a pitch of 1968 and a freezer full of hops, it was a no brainer. The tweaks from last time are enough to consider this a new beer, but it’s the same quest for a hoppy ale that can compare to Three Floyds Gumballhead. One of the best beers I’ve ever had. I don’t think I’ve had any beers available locally that come close. In my last attempt at a hoppy american wheat, I used fresh amarillo hops, and it was a failure. I noted some significant changes after reviewing the beer, when all was said and done, I decided on.

All grain, 55% wheat, 37% pale, 8% Crystal light. Moving away from single hopping, hop bursting with amarillo and citra, and dry hopping with amarillo and centennial. The idea was to increase the fruitiness, hop flavor, and lose the bitterness. My initial thoughts moved the beer too far away from Amarillo, which is a hope I really enjoy.

This is the recipe I followed:

The planning and prep started the week prior. I started setting aside my equipment. I had to mentally go through my brew process a number of times to note all the things I needed to bring. Even with a crazy mind map for the brew day, I nearly left w/out my burner. As it was my gear just barely fit in my subaru wagon, I’m glad I was using the 2.5 gallon setup, I doubt my 6 gallon stuff would have fit.

I arrived, unpacked, and setup my gear. I had considered bringing my water along, but since I don’t know much about it, and don’t make specific adjustments for it, I just let it be. Mike and I did a side by side water taste test with the different filter setup, and the results were inconclusive. I was the first there, and pretty much got right to brewing. One unfortunate aspect of a brewing party is the distractions. It’s pretty easy to get off track, tasting some beer, or talking about something you just did, so much that you don’t remember your timeline, and forget to do the basics, like, oh say taking a single gravity reading. Needless to say I didn’t take great brew day notes. However I did hit my desired mash temps. I’ve slowly been making adjustments to my equipment in Beersmith. I’ve adjusted the cooler weight, the thermal mass, and been more aware to adjust grain and tun temperatures. It has been helpful for hitting my mash temp w/in a degree. I do still recommend hitting the cooler a a little hot, and string down to your target strike temp, since that will just happen naturally. While I hit my mash temp, I had a bit more of a challenge hitting my runoff volumes.  With the high wheat percentage in my grist, it was very helpful to have an extra hand mashing in, but it was still a gummy mess. The small cooler mash tun doesn’t really lend itself for a quick mash in w/out smashing the braided filter. Despite the metric ton of rice hulls and 170* sparge water my run off was terrible. I managed to get most of my volume, but I’m certain my efficiency suffered. Compounding the grain bill, I had an issue milling, and reran them through the mill. The boil was uneventful, no boil overs, and hit all my hop additions. I did forget however that I wanted to bag the hops. I wanted to bag the hops for two reasons. I wanted to remove all the non 0 minute hop additions. I also wanted to help simplify wort transfer. So much for that!

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I chilled to 180, and added my amarillo and citra burst/whirlpool hops, and boy did they smell great. Everyone was commenting on the wafting aroma. After a 20 minute hot steep, I chilled to 65x, and tried to transfer to my carboy. I first put my sanitized funnel in the carboy, followed by a hop sack. I then poured the wort through the sack into the carboy. Spilling wort, and hop matter everywhere. Needless to say the nearly 3 oz of mixed whole and pellet hops in about 3 gallons of wort was a slow filter. But I was able to avoid hop significant losses due to hop sludge.  Once I filled the fermenter it needed to take an hr journey to my house. About 4 hours after knockout, I hit with a full 10 count of 02, and a 1.5l yeast starter of 1968. I decided to see how well it worked at the ambient basement temperature, and with in 12 hours it was bubbling away. I added heat at 48 hours, as fermentation started to slow, I wanted to maintain an active ferment, but still get a clean ferment. I’m going to let it rest warm for a few days to clean up. Then it will get racked and dry hopped with Amarillo and centennial. I can’t tell you how eager I am to get this on tap, It’s been so long since I had a _fresh_ hoppy ale on my tap.


Plans for next batch of 2 AM Maiden

Work on water additions to maximize hop flavor, without making it harsh or minerally.

Sort the volumes on the small setup. I knew the 10g / 10.5 setup well enough, I need to calibrate myself to the smaller batches I am doing.

Adjust the mill gap. I bought the mill second hand, and have never adjusted the rollers. I’ve always assumed the crush was too fine, due to the amount of flour / powder.

Get a ball valve and a false bottom on the small kettle.


Resources / Alternate recipe sources

Mad Fermentationist’s Hoppy American Wheat – where I turned when I decided to rewrite this as an all grain recipe, and move away from single hops.

MeekBrewing’s Clone of Fortunate Islands – A clone of Modern Times Hoppy American Wheat, Mad Fermentationist’s wheat made on a production scale.

Brewing with wheat by Stan Hieronymus* – This contains a recipe for GumballHead (and I get a referal for purchasing on amazon)

Bertus Brewing : Wedding Batch #1 Hoppily Ever After – Another take on hoppy american wheat.


***One thing I forgot to mention about this brew day is that it is my 20th batch. I’ve come a long way in my understanding of brewing, but feel like I’ve only started to pencil in the framework of that knowledge. Here’s to another 20 batches filled with incremental improvements, and hopefully more lessons along the way. Thanks for following along as I learn what I don’t know.

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Poll: How often do you Brew?

Just trying to see if my brewing habits are normal. I’m targeting brewing 1x a month this year. I’m currently on pace.

How often do you brew?

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Homebrew review – New English Mild

This is a review of my attempt to brew a traditional english mild using the brewing classic styles recipe. I’ve been all about session beers lately. It’s nice to be able to enjoy a pint, or two and not feel it in the morning. I feel like too many of the homebrewing recipes I come across start at 1065, and only go up from there. This beer started where many a homebrew stopped, 1.030, and… Continue reading

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Poll: Bottle, Keg, or both?

Bottle or keg?

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Pumpkin (winter squash) ESB, a seasonal beer brewed with the season

This beer is the culmination of brain storming and contemplating seasonal brewing over the last few months. Back in July when the commercial pumpkin beers hit the shelves I was quite perturbed. They were invading my summer beer shelf space with sweet, overly spiced wheat beers way too early. I was still enjoying refreshing berliner weisses, hoppy pales and IPA’s. I made a personal resolution to avoid buying all pumpkin beers this year. I can’t sit idly by when they put the beer out so early that it’s old by the time fall sets in and I want to enjoy one. Since I wasn’t planning on purchasing any pumpkin beer, I figured I would need to make my own, when pumpkins and squash were in season. Continue reading

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Do you drink when you brew?

Do you drink while you brew?

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