Insanely Simple Russian Imperial Stout Recipe (Extract)


Russian Imperial StoutStouts have always been big brews, but Russian imperial stout is the biggest of the big. From the high gravity, to the complex, roasty malt flavors, to the assertive hoppiness, a Russian imperial stout recipe is not for the faint of heart.

Actually an English style beer, Russian Imperial Stout was made to be exported to the Nordic and Slavic regions of Europe and was reportedly popular with the Russian monarchy. The high gravity and alcohol content helped with the beer’s stability over travel, but also provided warmth in the colder climates. Some fruity, yeast derived esters combine with a malt complexity to create a rich, complex brew sometimes reminiscent of strong port. The beer is often aged for flavor development.

As with many English beer styles, Russian imperial stout has been adopted by American brewers who often make roastier, hoppier versions of the style. BJCP guidelines for Russian imperial stout are as follows:

 

  • OG: 1.075 – 1.115
  • FG: 1.018 – 1.030
  • ABV: 8 – 12%
  • IBUs: 50 – 90
  • SRM: 30 – 40+

 

Tips for Brewing a Russian Imperial Stout RecipeShop Calcium Carbonate

  • To get the gravity needed hit 8-12% ABV, you need a large amount of fermentable ingredients, a minimum of 9-10 pound of malt extract. Even for the all-grain brewer, malt extract can help make the mash a little less of a chore.
  • You might consider using alkaline water to compensate for the astringency and acidity of the roasted grains. Some calcium carbonate (food-grade chalk) added to the mash/steeping water can help.
  • To balance out the alcohol and intense maltiness, a strong hop schedule is required. If brewing extract or partial mash beer recipe, consider adding half of your malt extract at the end of the boil to help improve hops utilization.

 

Shop Liquid Malt ExtractUse this insanely simple extract beer recipe below to craft your own Russian imperial stout. It’s been somewhat “Americanized” with high alpha hops and some assertive, American hop late additions. We also have a couple Russian imperial stout recipe kits from Brewcraft and Brewer’s Best if you’d like to go that route.

Happy brewing!

 

Motor Oil Russian Imperial Stout Recipe
(Five-gallon batch, extract with specialty grains)

Specs  
OG: 1.088
FG: 1.025
ABV: 8.3%
IBUs: 82
SRM: 39Shop Barley Grains

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. Light LME
6.6 lbs. Amber LME (late addition)
1 lb. Chocolate malt (crushed)
.5 lb. Caramel 80L malt (crushed)
.5 lb. Roasted barley (crushed)
1 steeping bag for specialty grains
1.5 oz. Bravo hops at :60
1 oz. Columbus hops at :10
1 oz. Cascade hops at :10
2 packs Safale US-05 ale yeast

Directions
Heat 2.5 gallons of water in the boil kettle to 155-165˚F. Place crushed grains in the steeping bag and steep for 20 minutes. Mix in 6.6 lbs of light LME. Bring wort to a boil. Add Bravo hops and boil for 50 minutes. Add Columbus andShop Home Brew Starter Kit Cascade hops and boil for ten minutes. Stir quickly to create a whirlpool, then cool wort to 70˚F using an ice bath or an immersion wort chiller. Pour wort into clean, sanitized fermenter, then top off to make 5.5 gallons. Use a sanitized spoon to mix well, then pitch yeast. Ferment at 70˚F for two weeks, then transfer to secondary for three to four weeks. Bottle and age for 2-4 months or longer.

Do you love to brew dark, heavy beers? Try this Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA clone! Do you have a Russian imperial stout recipe? We’d love for you to share it: extract or all-grain!
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

Use 3 SMaSH Beer Recipes To Understand Ingredients

Making SMaSH Beer RecipesFor those of you who have never heard of SMaSH beer recipes, SMaSH is an acronym used in homebrewing for single malt and single hops. A SMaSH beer is a beer brewed using only one variety of malt and one variety of hop. This is significant since most beer recipes involve several different malts and several different hops. But SMaSH beer recipes only involves one malt and one hop.

After perusing Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide for some new beer recipes, it occurred to me that a very short list of ingredients could be used to brew a range of very different brews. With a single type of malt extract, a single hop, and a single yeast strain, you could brew a bitter, an ESB, and an IPA, simply by changing the proportion of ingredients used. This offers an opportunity for brewers to take advantage of bulk pricing on homebrew ingredients (which we offer here at E. C. Kraus), while still being able to brew a variety of beer styles.

The three SMaSH beer recipes below (all single malt, single hop, five-gallon batches) will require a total of:

Feel free to amend the beer recipes with other ingredients you may have on hand, such as different hops or some specialty grains. Alternatively, treat these brews as an experiment to get a strong sense of what each ingredient can contribute to a beer. All 3 SMaSH beer recipes assume brewing with a five-gallon kettle. Follow the instructions for extract brewing to brew each recipe. Don’t forget your caps and priming sugar! Shop Dried Malt Extract

 

British Bitter SMaSH Beer Recipe

An ordinary bitter is a session beer, meaning the alcohol content is low enough that you can have a couple pints without feeling too buzzed.

Specs
OG: 1.038
FG: 1.006-1.009
ABV: 3.8-4.2%
IBUs: 31
SRM: 3.6

Ingredients
4.5 lbs. light DME
1.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :60
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :10
1 pack Safale S-04 ale yeast

 

E.S.B. SMaSH Beer Recipe Shop Hops

An ESB, or Extra Special Bitter, is a stronger version of an ordinary bitter. Feel free to increase the hops if you enjoy hop bitterness, flavor, or aroma. Feel free to steep some crushed caramel malt for extra color and flavor.

Specs
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.008-1.014
ABV: 4.8-5.6%
IBUs: 31
SRM: 4.4

Ingredients
6 lbs. light DME
2 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :60
0.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :10
1 pack Safale S-04 ale yeast

 

English IPA SMaSH Beer Recipe Shop Steam Freak Kits

An English IPA is the bitterest and most hoppy of the English pale ales, though usually less aggressive than American IPAs.

Specs
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.008-1.014
ABV: 4.8-5.6%
IBUs: 45
SRM: 4.4

Ingredients
6 lbs. light DME
2 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :60
2 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :20
1 pack Safale S-04 ale yeast Shop Fermenter

 

What are some of the homebrew ingredients you use in every batch? What are some ideas you have for brewing SMaSH beer recipes?
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

10 Home Brewing Spices For Your Creative Pleasure

Man Using Spices In BeerLooking to add a dash of creativity to your homebrew beer? Try using one – or more – of these ten home brewing spices! Adding spices to your beer can create a whole new dimension to its flavor profile. Here are 10 spices you can experiment with:

 

  1. Caraway – If you’re a fan of rye bread, you might try a caraway rye ale. Caraway seeds tend to work well with darker beers. Use about 5 grams of toasted seeds per gallon as a starting point, added for a few days at the end of secondary fermentation.
  1. Cayenne – Much like with a chipotle smoked porter, cayenne can be used to give a spicy kick to nearly any beer. Remember, moderation is key! 1/2 teaspoon at the end of the boil in a five-gallon batch should give you plenty of heat.
  1. Cinnamon – Cinnamon actually comes from the bark of a tree. There are two types: Cassia cinnamon – the one most commonly found in grocery stores – and “true” cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamomum zeylanicum). Choose which one you prefer. Both work well in combination with other commonly used home brewing spices like: ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Put the cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon directly in the boil.
  1. Shop Beer FlavoringsCloves – You might try to add a dash (no more!) of cloves to a hefeweizen to accent the clove character of the Weizen beer yeast, which tends to come out when this style is fermented at the lower end of the temperature range. This is one of the more practical ways of using spices in beer. Cloves also work nicely in winter spiced ales.
  1. Coriander – Notorious for its use in Belgian witbier, coriander can also lend a pleasant citrus spiciness to other brews, such as saisons.
  1. Fennel Seed – I had an excellent beer at a homebrew festival a couple years ago, a whiskey fennel ale. It was an amber ale base, with the whiskey and fennel added in perfect balance. Try from a cup to a quart of whiskey added into the secondary fermenter. The fennel seed can be added towards the end of the boil, into the fermenter, or maybe even steeped in the whiskey for a few days prior to mixing it into the beer.
  1. Ginger – Of all the spices you can add to a beer, ginger is one of the most commonly found. Used in high enough proportions (an ounce or more per gallon), it can lend a very sharp, spicy kick to your homebrew. Check out our guide for brewing a real ginger ale. Buy Fridge Monkey
  1. Mole – New Belgium’s Cocoa Mole Ale is amazing. Though mole is actually a blend of spices, you can find mole blends at most grocery stores.
  1. Peppercorns – I have had a couple of excellent saisons brewed with peppercorns. As when using most spices in beer, the subtlety was the key. There are a variety of different peppercorns (white, red, black, green). Try aging some beer on a teaspoon or two of whole peppercorns for a touch of spicy complexity.
  1. Turmeric – A subtle earthy spice, turmeric is a major component of yellow curry powder with an intense yellow color. Try mixing turmeric with a combination of other spices, like ginger and coriander in your homebrew, but be aware that it may stain your plastic fermenter!

 

*Remember: When adding home brewing spices to beer, less is more! If you’re Shop Accurate Scalesunfamiliar with a particular spice, start with just a touch. For the stronger spices (like hot chiles), a teaspoon in the homebrew may well impart a lot of flavor. A quarter-ounce to an ounce at most will be plenty, adding the spice either into the secondary fermenter or during the last 10-15 minutes of the boil. I’ve found that when some home brewing spices are boiled too long they can impart some bitterness that may overwhelm the palate.

In the event that the spice flavor is too much, try giving the beer a month or two to age, maybe even longer. The spice will usually subside to some degree over time.

Have you ever tried adding home brewing spices to beers? What spices would you like to try using in your future brew?
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David Ackley is a beer writer, homebrewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Homebrew Spruce Beer Recipe

Spruce For Making Spruce Beer RecipeBefore we get to the spruce beer recipe lets talk a little bit about spruce. Trees and their branches, barks, and berries have been used traditionally for flavoring beers, especially in Scandinavian countries, for hundreds of years. Juniper, spruce, and fir are some of the most common. Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery revived the Finnish Sahti, a traditional beer made from rye, barley, and juniper. Their interpretation is called Sah-tea.

In North America, spruce beer was used by American colonists to prevent scurvy. Though we don’t have to worry too much about scurvy these days, a good spruce beer is a unique, refreshing, and interesting beverage.

 

Finding Spruce for Your Spruce Beer Recipe

For the adventurous forager, spruce can be found in the evergreen forests of North America. Cuttings from new growth are best for brewing. Make a tea by boiling the branches in water for 30 minutes. Strain out the branches and add this homemade spruce essence to your mash or boil.

To get an idea of how much to add to your homebrew, mix a small amount of your homebrewed spruce essence into to a commercial beer that’s similar to the base style of beer you’re making.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can cut down your own spruce tree and run the wort through the branches, like this guy. Shop Spruce Essence

If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands for lumber-jacking around the forest, commercially made spruce essence is less risky and more predictable.

 

Tips for Brewing A Spruce Beer Recipe

  • Add up to 4 oz. of fresh spruce tips late in the boil for woody, resiny flavor and aroma.
  • Less is more! Start with a small amount of spruce flavor for your first spruce beer. You can always add more in your next batch.
  • If you find you’ve added too much spruce to your beer, give it some time to age. You might be surprised how an “undrinkable” beer can change over several months.

 

Homebrew Spruce Beer Recipe

1/2 lb. crystal malt (40L) Shop Liquid Malt Extact
1/3 lb. roasted barley
1/3 lb. chocolate malt
1/4 lb. rye malt
1/4 lb. black patent malt
6 lbs. dark malt extract syrup
4 oz. molasses
2 oz. Hallertau hops at :60
1-4 oz. spruce tips (based on taste preference)
*alternatively, use spruce essence according to package directions
Whitbread (Safale S-04) ale yeast
Corn sugar for priming

 

Shop Beer FlavoringsDirections: Steep specialty malts in ~150°F. water for 30 minutes. Add the extract and molasses and bring to a boil. Add the hops and the spruce tips and boil for 30 minutes. Strain the hot wort into a fermenter containing enough clean water to make 5 gallons. Pitch yeast when wort cools to 70°F. or less.

Ferment at 65-70°F. then bottle with the priming sugar. Age 3-6 weeks before drinking.

This is a somewhat basic spruce beer recipe, but there has been some thought put into the balance of the flavor and body. Feel free to experiment and create your own spruce recipe.
—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

7 Tips For A Healthy Homebrew Fermentation

Healthy Homebrew FermentationIf malt is the heart, or the backbone, of beer, then yeast is its soul. While malt is responsible for flavor, color, and body, and hops for bitterness, yeast often contributes many subtle and sometimes incredibly complex nuances to beer. Without yeast, beer would not exist as we know it.

It stands to reason then that in order to make good beer we should do everything we can to make sure we are having a healthy homebrew fermentation with each batch we make.

Yeast is a living, breathing microorganism that responds to stresses or challenges it faces during storage and fermentation. In some cases, and for some beer styles, it’s actually beneficial to stress the beer yeast, but more often than not, it’s critical to make sure that the yeast is happy and that you have a healthy homebrew fermentation with little stress on the yeast.

In fact, good yeast management is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your homemade beer. Having a healthy homebrew fermentation is what it is all about.

Below are 7 tips for making sure that your homebrewing yeast is happy, healthy and well cared for:

 

  1. Shop Liquid Beer YeastUse fresh yeast – All living things die eventually, and beer yeast is no exception. Over time, the yeast loses its viability, so it’s important to use the freshest beer yeast you can when homebrewing. Otherwise, what few living yeast cells might remain in the package will have a very hard time fermenting your beer, possible resulting in a stuck fermentation. Dry yeast is best used within 1 to 2 years of the packaging date. Liquid yeast is best used within about three months of the packaging date. Check the yeast package for this information to make sure you’re brewing with a fresh yeast culture.
  1. Check your pitch rates – The pros recommend pitching a specific amount of beer yeast depending on the gravity and the style of beer being made. In general, a pack of dry beer yeast that has been stored under the right conditions has enough yeast cells for a beer of moderate gravity. Lagers and high-gravity beers require more yeast. If brewing with liquid yeast it’s usually recommended to use a yeast starter (see below) and/or to pitch multiple packs of yeast.
  1. Make a yeast starter – This is an easy and effective way to help insure that you’ll have a healthy beer fermentation. A yeast starter will help to guarantee that there are enough healthy yeast cells for fermentation. Read our blog post on yeast starters to learn how to make one.
  1. Shop Stir PlateUse a stir plate – A stir plate helps make yeast starters healthier by infusing oxygen into the starter, giving the yeast what it needs in order to grow and multiply. It’s a really cool device that spins a magnetic stir bar inside a flask or jar, driving out CO2 and at the same time making oxygen available for the yeast. It’s a really good investment that will pay off through many happy, healthy fermentations.
  1. Use yeast nutrient – Though yeast nutrient is not essential to making beer, every professional brewer I know uses it. Yeast nutrient simply provides some of the nutrients that support a healthy fermentation. It is typically added during the last 10 to 15 minutes of the boil, usually right along with Irish moss or another kettle coagulant. It can also be added to the secondary fermenter to help resolve a slow or stuck fermentation.
  1. Oxygenate the wort – After yeast is pitched, it goes through an aerobic growth phase called respiration. Oxygen is critical to this step of the process. For this reason, aerating the wort by stirring it very vigorously can go a long ways in helping your beer have a healthy fermentation. Just give the wort a good stir right before you pitch the yeast. Even better, invest in an oxygenation system to pump pure oxygen right into the wort.
  1. Shop Wort AeratorControl fermentation temperature – After making sure that the yeast that goes into your beer is up to the task, keep it happy by maintaining a steady fermentation temperature within the recommended range for whatever strain of beer yeast you’re using. Ales do best in the ballpark of 65-70˚F., while lagers require temperatures between 45 and 55˚F. Either way, some techniques for controlling homebrew fermentation temperature will serve you and your yeast well for many batches to come.

 

Using some or all of the techniques above will encourage your brews to have a healthy homebrew fermentation and help you make the best beer possible.

What techniques do you use to keep your homebrew yeast happy?
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David Ackley is a beer writer, homebrewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

10 High Gravity Beer Recipe Kits For Brewing This Winter

High Gravity Beer Recipe KitsAs the weather gets colder, it’s time to ward off the winter chills with some high-gravity brews.

High-gravity simply means that there are more fermentable sugars in the wort prior to fermentation, leading to more alcohol after the fermentation. You literally get more bang for your buck with these high gravity beer recipe kits!

The extra alcohol creates a warming sensation that’s pretty nice when it’s cold out. More booze also means that these beers will age well, and you probably won’t drink them as quickly. And, high-gravity homebrew also makes a great gift!

Many of these beers are called “Imperial” or “Double”. The trick is having the bigger version still emulate the base style. But just because high gravity beer recipe kits are bigger doesn’t mean they’re harder to brew. Just like the normal gravity beer recipe kits, these are still extract and partial mash brews complete with easy-to-follow instructions.

**Remember, all orders at E.C. Kraus over $50 come with free shipping, so you’re already there with just one of these high gravity beer recipe kits! Plus, order two or more beer recipe kits (any combination, any brand) and save 10% on all of them! Your discount will be automatically applied when the second homebrew recipe kit is added to your shopping cart.Shop Steam Freak Kits

 

  1. Double IPA: The top three most highly rated beers on BeerAdvocate.com are all Double IPAs. You can brew your own hop bomb with this adventurous kit from Brewer’s Best! Six ounces of hops pull in 100+ IBUs! (ABV: 7.8% – 8.3%)
  1. Belgian Dark Strong: This kit uses Dark Belgian Candi Sugar to create a rich, high-gravity brown ale with the characteristic Belgian flavor. Bitterness is moderate at 25-30 IBUs. (ABV: 7.3% – 8.3%)
  1. Imperial Blonde Ale: This high gravity beer recipe kit is a beefed up version of the easy-drinking American craft beer style. Some wheat dried malt extract enhances body and mouthfeel, while a pound of honey malt contributes a nutty and sweet honey character. (ABV: 7% – 8%)
  1. Imperial Pale Ale: It’s a big pale ale, just a little more malt forward and balanced than the Double IPA above. The mix of specialty malts include Caramel 80, Victory, and Carapils, giving this brew a strong malty complexity to balance out the close to 70 IBUs. (ABV: 8% – 8.5%)
  1. Russian Imperial Stout: Big and roasty, it’s the ideal cold weather brew. Our customer review says it all: “This is a damn good beer.” (ABV: 7.75% – 8.25%)
  1. Von Baron Belgian Tripel: Over nine pounds of malt extract and dark belgian candi sugar make this a complex, malty brew fit for cold nights. Light amber in color, with just a hint of citrus flavor. (ABV: 6.75%- 7.25%)
  1. Barnstormer Barleywine: Another malt-forward brew from Steam Freak with over 10 pounds of malt, this barleywine is perfect for special occasions. Be sure to age a bottle (or a few!) to see how the flavor develops! (ABV: 9.75% – 10.25%)Buy Brew Kettles
  1. Bourbon Barrel Imperial Porter: This one’s really making my mouth water. This high gravity beer recipe kit comes with American oak spirals and Kentucky Bourbon flavoring to replicate that barrel-aged flavor. Tip: Mix the bourbon flavor with real Kentucky Bourbon for an extra punch! (ABV: 7.5% – 8%)
  1. San Diego Double IPA: This high gravity beer recipe kit from Steam Freak. It’s an IPA with more hops and more malt – more everything! It’s an extremely well balanced beer with a lot that’s designed to shock the senses. (ABV: 7.75% – 7.75%)
  1. Le Belge Trappist Tripel White: This brew has a golden color with a toasty malt finish. The alcohol is up there, so it’s a sipper. The flavorful balance of specialty grains and hops hides the alcohol well. (ABV: 8.75% – 9.25%)

 

What’s your favorite high gravity beer recipe kit? Tell us in the comments below!
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale Clone Recipe

Bottle Of Sierra Nevada Celebration AleOne of my all-time favorites is Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale, and I’d like to have it year-around. That’s why I started digging for a Celebration ale clone recipe.

Celebration ale a full-bodied IPA brewed with two-row malt, caramel malt, and the season’s freshest hops. In true Sierra Nevada style, Cascade and Centennial hops are in the spotlight. A touch of Carapils malt adds a frothy white head that lasts and lasts, providing a billowing pillow for the spicy hop aroma that emanates from the glass.

As a big time mega craft brewer, Sierra Nevada has access to the very first hops of the harvest. Given the changes in the growing season from year to year, Celebration is a little different each year it’s brewed. If you grew your own hops this year, you may want to play around with your own crop. If adding your own fresh, un-dried hops to the boil, read this short article about wet hopping. Otherwise, we can still obtain abundant hop flavor and aroma using pellets.

The following Celebration ale clone recipe is adapted from the October 2000 issue of Brew Your Own magazine. Use it to enjoy Celebration Ale year round!

 

Celebration Ale Clone Recipe
(All Grain, 5 Gallon Recipe)

Specifications:
OG = 1.064
FG = 1.014
IBUs = 60
SRM = 12
ABV = 6.4%

Ingredients:
11.5 lbs. two-row malt
1 lb. Crystal 40L malt
.5 lb. Carapils malt
1 oz. Chinook hops at :60 (11 AAUs)Shop Steam Freak Kits
1.75 oz. Cascade hops at :30 (8.5 AAUs)
1 tsp. Irish moss at :15 mins
.66 oz. Cascade hops (dry hop)
.66 oz. Centennial hops (dry hop)
Wyeast 1056: American Ale Yeast or Safale US-05
.75 cups corn sugar (if bottling)

Directions:
Mash the grains with a single infusion at the higher end of the temperature range (~156°F) for big body and mouthfeel. Draw off and sparge to collect enough wort for a full-volume boil. Boil for 90 minutes, adding the hops according to the schedule. Add 1 teaspoon of Irish moss with 15 minutes left in the boil. Whirpool, chill, and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter, then ferment at 66°-70°F for seven days. Dry hop for five days in secondary. Bottle or keg at you would normally.

 

Partial Mash Option

Shop Conical FermenterIf you are not an all-grain brewer, no fear. Here is an alternate procedure for making a Celebration ale clone from extract in a partial mash.

Replace the two-row malt with 6.6 lbs. light LME and 2.75 lbs. two-row malt. Steep the two-row with the Crystal 40L and Carapils (all crushed) for 30 minutes in 1.5 gallons of water at 156°F. Strain out the grains and rinse them with 1 gallon of water at 170°F, collecting the runoff in the boil kettle. Mix in the liquid malt extract and bring to a boil.

Boil for 90 minutes, adding the hops according to the schedule. Add 1 teaspoon of Irish moss with 15 minutes left in the boil. Whirpool, chill, and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter, topping off with enough water to make five gallons. Ferment at 66°-70°F for seven days. Dry hop for five days in secondary. Bottle or keg at you would normally.

And there you have it… a Celebration ale clone recipe for brewing all-grain or extract in a partial mash, so know is the time to get started!
—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

5 Beer Recipe Kits For Home Brewing In Winter

Home Brewing In WinterIn a lot of ways, winter is high brewing season. For many, it’s time to get the brew kettles out and the beer recipe kits on the way. Not only do the lower temperatures encourage us to hibernate, they support more moderate fermentation temperatures and open up beer styles that are more suitable for home brewing in winter. If you have a cold basement, winter is the perfect time to take advantage of brewing lagers, steam beer, and other styles that require lower fermentation temperatures.

Winter is also a good time for brewing some hearty, high gravity beer styles. These more substantial styles give rise to the idea of a “winter warmer” – a beer with higher alcohol content that offers a warming nip in the colder months.

As you’re planning your seasonal brew calendar, consider one of these 5 beer recipe kits for home brewing in winter:

 

  1. BrewCraft Ultimate: Russian Imperial StoutA big, Shop Steam Freak Kitsroasty imperial stout is the perfect cold weather beverage, featuring notes of coffee, chocolate, and dark fruit. Some imperial stouts can be pretty hoppy, but generally the dark roasted malts take center stage. Some brewers like to brew an imperial stout in the winter, then let it age all year for consumption the following winter.
  1. Brewers Best Vienna LagerIf you’re unable to brew lagers during the warmer months, winter is a great opportunity to give it a try. You’ll need to be able to keep fermentation temperatures in the 40-50˚F range, so a cold basement might work out. This Vienna lager beer recipe kit is a great choice for home brewing in wine. It’s a smooth, malty lager, well worth the wait of an extended lager fermentation.
  1. Brewcraft Premium: Black IPABlack IPAs are one of the more robust styles of beer, combining the roasty flavors of a stout with the hop-forward bitterness and flavor of an IPA. This beer recipe kit offers a complex dark malt flavor and a range of spicy and citrusy American hop character, fairly stout at 7.3% ABV. Getting this beer recipe kit and home brew it in the winter will add a clean, crispness that bring out the citrus character, even more.
  1. Steam Freak Barnstormer Barleywine – Similar to with Shop Temp ControllerImperial Stouts, some brewers like to let their barleywines age for a before consuming (of course you’re welcome to open some bottles early!). This barleywine clocks in at 10% ABV and 96 IBUs – it’s definitely a sipper!
  1. Steam Freak Spring Loaded BockA bock is a high gravity German lager, rich and malt-forward, high gravity yet silky smooth. Expect a traditional bock to be in the ballpark of 7% ABV, with just enough hops to balance out the malt and the alcohol.

 

What are some of your favorite styles for home brewing in winter months? Have you brewed any of these beer recipe kits?
—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Tips For Home Brewing In Cold Weather

Home Brew In Cold WeatherMany homebrewers prefer to home brew in cold weather because it tends to be easier to keep beers within proper fermentation temperature range. Historically, the only way to brew lagers was to brew in the winter and store the beer in caves while it conditioned.

While in some ways home brewing in cold weather is preferred over brewing in the summer, it still offers its own challenges – but also some opportunities to try some different beer styles.

 

Home Brewing In Cold Weather: The Challenges

Challenge #1: Proper fermentation temperature
Hot or cold, proper fermentation temperature is always important. Determining the appropriate fermentation temperature begins with yeast selection. Lager yeasts by nature do better at 45°-60°F., so if you have a cellar that stays cool in the winter, this may be the best time for homebrewers to try making a lager. If brewing an ale, Wyeast 1007: German Ale, Wyeast 2565: Kolsch, and Wyeast 1028: London Ale all work as low as 55°-60°F.

Challenge #2: Maintain steady temperature Shop Heating Belt
Controlling fermentation temperature is always important. Only in the winter you run the risk of beer yeast going dormant if the temperature drops too low. Try to find an area of the home for your fermenters that won’t be too sensitive to big swings in outdoor temperature. A fermentation brew belt may be necessary in some cases.

 

Home Brewing In Cold Weather: The Opportunities

As mentioned earlier, winter is a great time to brew lagers. Here are four beer recipe kits to try when brewing in cold weather:

 

  • Brewer’s Best Vienna Lager – This traditional lager is in the style of Austrian amber lagers. This partial mash kit results in a smooth, toasty lager with a touch of caramel flavor, balanced hop bitterness, and just enough hop aroma for a little intrigue. (ABV: 4.5 – 5.0%, IBUs: 24-28)
  • Brewer’s Best Munich Helles – A golden lager in the south German style, marked by German hops for bittering and flavoring. (ABV: 4.75 – 5.25%, IBUs: 16 – 20
  • Steam Freak Spring Loaded Bock – A stronger, maltier lager utilizing nearly ten pounds of Steam Freak liquid malt extract. Traditional European hop varieties stand up to the higher gravity of this lager. (ABV: 7%, IBUs: 24)Shop Temp Controller
  • Brewcraft Premium Series Rocky Mountain Amber – This balanced American-style amber kit can be brewed as either an ale or a lager. The included Fermentis Saflager S-23 beer yeast works as low as 51F and as high as 75F, though lower temperatures are ideal.

 

What kind of changes do you make when home brewing in cold weather? Share in the comments below!
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

Winter Spiced Ale Recipe Just For The Holidays

Friends Drinking Winter Spiced Ale RecipeWho doesn’t love the holiday season? Time to brew this winter spiced ale recipe. Sure, family time is great, but how about all those big, flavorful beers that come out around the end of the year?! Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale, a fresh-hop beer, is one of my all-time favorites.

We also start to see some usual ingredients show up in the beer aisle. Thinking about some of the foods that go on the table for the holidays brings some inspiration. Ohio’s Great Lakes Brewing Company makes a Christmas Ale that’s extremely popular, brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon.

Brewing a winter spiced ale recipe for the holidays opens the door to using some fun fruits and spices. Go a little crazy with this one: apples, cranberries, orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, chocolate, and cloves are all fair game. BJCP guidelines suggest that spices complement the base style rather than overwhelm it, so be judicious when it comes to herbs and spices.

A winter spice ale recipe can be based on any classic style (pale ale, porter, stout), but winter ales tend to be high-gravity and more full-bodied than the average beer. The extra punch of alcohol helps keep us all warm and merry in the colder months. Use additional malt extract and/or adjunct sugars to boost gravity. Try some extra caramel malt to help balance out the hodgepodge of wintery flavors.

Brewing a winter spiced ale recipe doesn’t have to be difficult! One method would be to take a beer recipe kit, such as the Barleywine Recipe Kit, then pick a handful of spices and flavorings to add to the boil or the secondary fermenter. Read Brew Your Own Herb Beers for some suggestions.

Here’s an idea – start a tradition! Brew your winter ale every year, cellaring a portion of the batch to open in subsequent holidays.Shop Steam Freak Beer Kits

 

Winter Spiced Ale Recipe

This extract recipe is adapted from Marty Nachel’s book, Homebrewing for Dummies. It was Philip Fleming’s first place award winner at the American Homebrewer’s Association national competition:

 

Anne’s Choice Christmas Ale

6.6 pounds Munton’s Amber Malt Extract
3.3 pounds Munton’s Dark Malt Extract
.5 oz. Hallertauer hops at :55
.5 oz. Hallertauer hops at :5
Wyeast #1007: German AleShop Beer Flavorings
.75 pound honey
5 three-inch cinnamon sticks
2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cloves
6 oz. grated ginger root
rinds from 6 medium oranges

Instructions: Simmer all the miscellaneous flavoring ingredients in the honey for 45 minutes; strain into the brew pot. (Proceed following the instructions for extract brewing.)

So, what’s your favorite winter spiced ale recipe, and what makes it special? Do you have a winter spiced ale beer recipe you’d like to share?
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.