Thursday, August 23, 2012

Audience Participation: Home Brewing

Just out of curiosity - how many of you out there homebrew? Most of the MBR staff has, whether regularly or not. And, of course, Joe Walts writes our Five Gallons at a Time homebrewing column. Plus, believe it or not, homebrewing is hitting the big time as the White House has (re)started brewing!

When I first started getting into craft beer is when I first started homebrewing. I had these grand delusions of making amazing beer that would stand beside Dogfish Head and Stone and New Glarus. What I quickly realized is that I'm not nearly as good of a brewer as Dan Carey or Sam Calagione. 

But, it is a fun way to kill a Saturday morning. The amount of beer I brew, unfortunately, is directly related to the number of Saturday mornings I have to kill. Not only is it a good hobby, but, it's also the best way to learn how to taste beer, what each component brings to the flavor profile, what each step of the brewing process brings to the flavor profile; and, it gives you a full appreciation for the hard work that goes into keeping all of the equipment clean.

So, as I was ramping up to get back into home brewing and planning my first recipe in a few years (likely an Oktoberfest), I was wondering how many of you out there homebrew? How long have you been doing it? What's your favorite recipe that you've made?


  1. I have been doing it now for almost a year. Try to brew at least once a month, and some brew days do 2 brews. Try to do a different kind each time. Also if we find one we like, we try to do it again.

  2. i brew as often as i can which is not often enough

  3. I brew as often as I can, which is typically every other month or so. It's not as often as I like, but it keeps me in a pretty steady flow of homebrew. I've been brewing for just under a year. I am paying around with difference recipes in an attempt to find a few standards.

  4. Brewed my first batch in 1992 and have been at it on & off since then. I started brewing in order to get interesting beers to drink - now that there are more available...I don't brew as much. However, what I am brewing are more experimental and in smaller batches.

    I have a couple of favorites that I go back to:
    -Coffee ESB
    -pommegranate sour ale

    Next experiments:
    -alcoholic ginger beer
    -gluten free selections for my silly-yak friends.

  5. I've been brewing for about 5 years. Wish I had more time to do it but I usually get to make 5-7 batches a year. If I have a "house beer" its my English Pale Ale, a best bitter. Also, I keep coming back to my Black IPA, which is probably my favorite of my beers. If anyone's interested, here's the original recipe, brewed in honor of a buddy's breakup with his girlfriend. I've tweaked the hop schedule for different batches to make some real hop bombs but this is the skeleton I build around. Target OG around 1.070, TG around 1.015. Ferments with Wyeast 1056-American Ale.

    13 lbs 2-row
    .75 lbs crystal 80L
    .75 lbs carafa III special
    .5 lbs chocolate

    1 oz chinook 60 min
    2 oz cascade 30 min
    2 oz chinook 5 min

  6. How much does the Cascade come through with a 30m addition? I tend to avoid hop additions after 60m but before 20m. I feel they are kind of a waste. Then again, I have not done 30m additions more than once. I feel most of your flavor and aroma boil off and they don't add much bittering. I typically go with a 60m/15m/5m/2m/dryhop schedule and adjust the amounts based on the IBU's I want.

  7. Even among celebrity commercial brewers, opinions on mid-boil additions vary widely. For what it's worth, I've had tremendous success with just three additions: start of boil, whirlpool (with 30 minutes between the end of boil and the start of cooling, which does wonders for hop oil extraction) and dry hopping. This post explains how I like to calculate my hop additions:

    1. I am not saying 30m are not good, just I wouldn't use them. I don't have enough experience to poo poo something like hop additions. I know if you ask 10 brewers the same questions you might get 12 different answers. I am sure that some people think the same thing about 20-15m additions I think about 30m additions.

      That makes sense to use something besides IBUs as the driving force behind calculating hop additions. I honestly don't usually adjust for IBUs when I re-brew a recipe. I don't know how consistent they are though. I know most people can't tell the difference in IBU's especially in hoppier beers. I figure if I am in the ballpark I am ok.

      I could definitely see going with just bittering and aroma additions. With a whirlpool addition I wouldn't think the aroma and flavor would get forced out of solution like it would in a boil addition.

    2. My outlook on 30-minute additions is similar to yours in that I don't think they hurt anything, but they can be wasteful. When I want the hops to shine, I'll use the three additions I mentioned earlier (or, in the case of something like a Pilsner, I'd skip the dry hops). For malty lagers, I may only do two additions: start of boil and 10-20 minutes from the end. For beers with fruits or spices, I'll often use only one addition at the start of the boil.

      Hop oils are very volatile and easily driven out of wort by boiling, i.e. the escaping steam helps push them into the air, which is why whirlpool additions are a good way to extract them. I'd wager that increasing the boil time does things like this (I'm not claiming these specific things happen at the stated times, but I think it illustrates the general concept pretty well):

      -Whirlpool additions retain all but the smallest oil molecules (small molecules are more volatile than large ones).
      -A 10-minute addition is like a whirlpool addition but it also drives off medium-sized oil molecules.
      -A 20-minute addition is like a 10-minute addition but it also drives off large oil molecules.
      -A 30-minute addition is like a 20-minute addition but it also drives off small oxidized oil molecules (oxidized oils, some of which provide nice flavors, are less volatile than non-oxidized oils).

      Where I'm going with this is that mid-boil additions can help you select specific flavor profiles. For example, a small 20-minute addition can impart a subtle noble hop character to a malty lager. If you were to move those hops to the whirlpool, the extra oils would overwhelm the desirable flavors and throw the beer out of balance.

    3. So theoretically a larger 30m addition would add the same amount of flavor as a small late addition of the same hop but leave only certain parts of the flavor.

      I could see a 30m or 20m only addition in a beer where it fits the style. I would think it would be overwhelmed if you are going to be doing 2-3 more late boil additions and/or dry hopping.

  8. I am only an extract brewer but I will throw up a recipe tomorrow. I have a couple people love. An American Black ale and an Amarillo American Wheat.


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