Home Brewing With Oats

Oats for Home BrewngLike barley, wheat, and rye, oats are a cereal grain that can be used in home brewing. It would be difficult to make a desirable beer from 100% oats, but nonetheless oats often find their way into a number of beer styles, especially the oatmeal stout. They can be used to add smooth, silky body and oat flavor to just about any beer style. Oats help with head retention, but may contribute a bit of cloudiness. Here’s more information on home brewing with oats…

Oats are found in a number of Belgian and farmhouse styles, namely saisons and witbiers (as in the Brewcraft Belgian Witbier Recipe Kit).

When home brewing with oats you will find that they are typically found in one of three forms: raw, flaked, or malted. As you might have guessed, raw oats are unprocessed. They have to be cooked prior to mashing in order to extract any fermentable sugar from the grain. Flaked oats are the most common form of oats used in brewing. They are gelatinized as they are pressed through heated rollers, allowing brewers to extract their fermentable sugars by adding them directly to the mash. Malted oats are malted in much the same way that barley is, but they are not very common.

It should be noted that oats are technically gluten-free, so they could possibly be used to make gluten-free beer, perhaps in combination with sorghum, rice, or corn. The only hitch is that oats are often processed on shared equipment with wheat. If making a beer for someone with a severe gluten allergy, only use oats that are certified gluten-free.

 

Home Brewing Your Own Oatmeal Stout…

If you’ve never try home brewing with oats before, one could place to start is with an oatmeal stout. Oatmeal stouts became popular in England, so it stands to reason to use English ingredients when crafting our recipe. Start with Munton’s Mild Ale Malt or two cans of Munton’s Light Malt Extract.

Next, we’ll derive color and flavor from some specialty malts. Try between 4 and 12 ounces each of Roasted Barley, Chocolate Malt, and Caramel 80L. Extract brewers can steep the grains, all-grain brewers can added them directly to the mash, or partial mash brewers can do a mini-mash with an equal amount of base malt. Add 4 to 16 oz. of flaked oats, or up to 10% of the total grain bill. You’ll find when home brewing with oats that this about the typical amount called for.Shop Home Brew Starter Kit

For the hops, we’ll want to use an English variety. Fuggles would be a good choice. The BJCP calls for 25-40 IBUs, so about 2 ounces of hops should do the trick. This beer should have little to no hop aroma or flavor, so add most (or all) of the hops at the beginning of the boil.

Finally, in the yeast department, English ale yeasts are the way to go and there are many good ones to choose from. Any of the following dry yeasts would give relatively clean flavors: Munton’s, Nottingham, Safale S-04. Wyeast 1318: London Ale or 1084: Irish Ale will give more fruity esters, especially if fermented at warmer temperatures.

Have tips for home brewing with oats? Share in the comments!
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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 IBD and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Style Guide: How to Brew an American Amber Ale

American Amber AleAn American Amber Ale profile, as the name implies, lies somewhere in the spectrum between a pale ale and a brown ale, with a rich, amber color matched by a sweet, caramel malt flavor. They’re often moderately to aggressively hopped, more so than a golden ale or pilsner, but not as much as an India Pale Ale. Their middle-of-the-ground nature makes them agreeable to many a beer fan, ideal for every day drinking, and part of many craft breweries’ year-round line-ups.

There are many good examples of American Amber Ales on the market. New Belgium’s Fat Tire, Bell’s Amber, and Highland’s Gaelic Ale all come to mind.

The BJCP Guidelines for an American Amber Ale profile offer the following: “Like an American pale ale with more body, more caramel richness, and a balance more towards malt than hops (although hop rates can be significant).” That emphasis on caramel richness makes Caramel malt a critical ingredient when brewing.

Further, according to the BJCP, Amber Ales should fit more or less within these guidelines:

  • IBUs: 25 – 40+
  • Color (SRM): 10 – 17
  • OG: 1.045 – 1.060
  • FG: 1.010 – 1.015
  • ABV: 4.5 – 6%

We carry an excellent Fat Liar Amber Ale beer recipe kit, but if you’d like to create your own beer recipe, here are some suggestions:

Grain Bill

Hops

Yeast

  • A classic American Amber Ale should use a clean fermenting American ale yeast strain. All of the following beer yeasts are great options: Safale S-05, Wyeast 1056: American Ale, or Wyeast 1272: American Ale II. There should be little to no yeast character or esters in the aroma, so try to keep fermentation temperatures in the recommended range for your selected yeast strain.

These are the very basics of an American Amber Ale profile. What ingredients and techniques do you use when home brewing your American Amber Ale? Share in the comments below!

Til next time…Cheers!
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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 IBD and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Bière de Mars Beer Recipe (Partial Mash)

Bière de Mars Beer In A GlassIf you’re like me, you’re already thinking ahead to the warmer temperatures of spring. Traditional Belgian and French brewers did the same thing. In the winter, they would often brew a Bière de Mars (March beer) that could stand up to the final colder months, yet still be enjoyable in the warmer spring weather.

According the BJCP, Bière de Mars is a subset of the Bière de Garde category (16D). Bière de Garde is a strong ale meant to be stored. As such, it often displays a somewhat funky, “corked” cellar character. Bière de Mars, on the other hand, is intended to be consumed fresh. Maybe this freshness is reminiscent of spring.

The main features of the style include a malt forward balance and toasty or toffee-like sweetness, with little to no hop aroma. The finish is dry, with the yeast contributing some fruity and/or spicy characteristics.

The most prominent commercial example in the US is probably New Belgium’s Bière de Mars. It sits comfortably within the BJCP guidelines for the Bière de Garde style:

  • OG: 1.060-1.080
  • FG: 1.008-1.016
  • ABV: 6-8.5%
  • IBUs: 18-28
  • SRM: 6-19

New Belgium’s rendition also uses lemon peel to enhance the fruity aroma of the beer. If you’re so inclined, add the fresh zest from one lemon during the last ten minutes of the boil.

Bière de Mars Beer Recipe
(Partial Mash, five gallon batch)

Specifications
OG: 1.066-1.073
FG: 1.015-1.017
ABV: 6.7-7.3%
IBUs: 20-24
SRM: 11

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. Light Liquid Malt Extract
1 lb. Amber Dried Malt Extract
1 lb. Munich Malt
1 lb. Belgian Aromatic Malt
1 lb. Belgian Biscuit Malt
1 lb. Flaked Oats
1 lb. Belgian Candi Sugar (light)
.75 oz Styrian Gold hops at :60 (3.8 AAUs)
.75 oz Styrian Gold hops at :20 (3.8 AAUs)
zest from one lemon at :10 (optional)
Yeast: Safbrew S-33  

Beer Recipe Directions
Mash the crushed grains and flaked oats in 1.5 gallons of water at 150F. Strain the grains and rinse with 1 gallon of water at 170F. Mix in malt extracts and Belgian candi sugar. Add water if needed. (Calculated boil volume: 7 gallons)

Bring wort to a boil. Add hops as scheduled and lemon peel if desired. Whirlpool, chill, and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. If needed, mix in enough clean, sanitized water to make five gallons. Pitch yeast at 70F and ferment at 65-70F for seven days, then transfer to secondary for ten. Bottle or keg as you would normally.

Are you a fan of brewing Bière de Mars? Do you have a Bière de Mars beer recipe you’d like to share with us? Share your tips 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.

My Beer Is Flat And Won’t Carbonate!

Flat Beer Top ViewI brewed a batch of beer as directed. It has set for 4 weeks bottled in a room of 60 to 65 degrees. When opened it had almost no carbonation.

Name: Don C.
State: Mo.
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Hi Don,

Sorry your beer is still flat. Let’s see if we can figure out why it won’t carbonate.

Beer carbonates when beer yeast consumes sugar and excretes CO2, and the CO2 has no where to go but into solution because the beer bottle or keg has been sealed. Let me share some theories with you about what’s going on and some possible fixes for your flat beer.

The problem you’re describing is probably caused by one of the following:

  • Not enough time/ the room’s not warm enough – I understand you’ve waited four weeks already, but if you did everything correctly, chances are very good that with more time and the beer bottles located in a slightly warmer room, your beer will carbonate. Some beer yeasts work more slowly than others, and high gravity beers generally take longer to carbonate. I know it’s tough with all that beer sitting there, but patience may be the answer to fixing you flat beer.
  • Not enough priming sugar – If you brewed the beer as instructed, this probably isn’t the case. However, did the priming sugar get well-mixed into the beer? I usually pour the sugar/water solution into the bottling bucket first, then siphon the beer into it. This usually mixes things up pretty well. I also recommend checking out this calculator, which shows the correct amount of priming sugar to use based on temperature, desired carbonation level (vols CO2), and type of sugar.
  • Non-fermentable or slowly fermenting priming sugar – If for some reason you used a non-fermentable sugar to prime your bottles, such as lactose sugar, it’s probably not going to give you any carbonation. Similarly, if you used a complex sugar to prime, it may just take longer for the yeast to ferment those complicated sugar molecules. Corn sugar, cane sugar, and dried malt extract work best for priming.
  • Bad seal on the bottlesShop Bottle Cappers – It’s possible that there isn’t a good seal on your beer bottles, allowing CO2 to escape. The result is a flat beer or a beer that won’t carbonate completely. This could be the case if you’re using a twist-off instead of pop-off style beer bottles. You could also just be getting a bad seal when you cap.
  • Yeast killed off – If there was sanitizer left in your bottles or bottling bucket, there’s a small chance that yeast got killed and whatever yeast that’s left is having a tough time carbonating your beer. If you use a “no-rinse” sanitizer on your bottling bucket and bottles, make sure the sanitizer dries completely before use. I usually rinse after sanitizing, even when using a no-rinse sanitizer.

 

How to fix a flat beer that won’t carbonate

So, what can be done to fix a flat beer? Here are a few possible ways to carbonate your beer, with the easiest and most likely solutions listed first:

  • Hurry up and wait…then wait some more – The first thing I would do is move the bottles to a room that’s a little warmer, consistently around 70°-75°F degrees, to try to “wake up” the yeast into carbonating your beer. 99% of the time, this will fix your problem. If it doesn’t fix the problem after 8 weeks or so, you’ll need to take more drastic action. Keep in mind that higher gravity beers may just take longer to carbonate than others.
  • Add more sugar – If you’ve already waited for eight or more weeks and know that you didn’t add enough priming sugar, you could open up each bottle and add a pinch more. It’s important to be very careful with this — if you add too much sugar, you could get some bottle bombs. It is possible to create so much carbonation pressure in the bottle that the glass will fail. Move the bottles somewhere safe where they won’t hurt anyone and won’t make too much of a mess if they explode.Shop Home Brew Starter Kit
  • Keg it – In theory, you could open up all the beer bottles and pour them into a keg, then prime or force carbonate with CO2. Then again, if you have a keg, you probably wouldn’t be bottling, would you?
  • Add more beer yeast – I’ve heard of homebrewers adding a few grains of dry yeast to each bottle of flat beer to help it to carbonate, but this sounds like a recipe for a bottle bomb, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

Again, if you did everything right, the best thing to do is just wait it out. I’m as guilty as anyone of opening up a homebrew before it’s ready, but in homebrewing, as in life, patience is a virtue. Give your flat beer some more time, and see if that doesn’t get it to carbonate.

Thanks again for your question and good luck,
David Ackley
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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.

Boost Your Beers With These Alternative Brewing Sugars

Alternative Brewing Sugars For BeerWhile barley malt is the preferred source of fermentable sugars in beer, other ingredients are often used to supplement the grains. Among these, sugar is one of the most common.

Sugars come in many different varieties, all of which affect flavor, gravity, and color in different ways. Brewing sugars may be added to simply increase the gravity of a beer. Try adding a pound of sugar to a standard beer recipe kit to make an “Imperial” version of whatever base beer you’re brewing.

Brewing sugars can also be added to obtain certain flavor characteristics. Alternative brewing sugars for beer such as: brown sugar, Belgian candi sugar, and molasses all have distinct flavors that can add a layer of complexity to brown ales, Belgian ales, and stouts. Simple sugars will often ferment out almost completely, so they can be used to achieve a dry finish in Belgian ales, pale ales, and darker beers.

 

Alternative Brewing Sugars For Beer:

  • White table sugar – While table sugar is fine for priming, it has been known to produce “cidery” flavors when used in any significant quantity. It’s been highly refined to remove color and “impurities”, so it will not affect the color of your beer.
  • Corn sugarCorn sugar is ideal for priming, its fine, powdery grind helping it dissolve easily. Corn sugar can be used to boost gravity and lighten flavor without contributing color, so it’s ideal in styles such as Light American Lagers.
  • Cane sugar – Cane sugar is derived from the sugar cane plant, usually through a pressing to extract the cane juice. Then an evaporation to concentrate the crystals. The minimal processing means that it still contains some color and molasses flavor, but not as much as some of the sugars listed below. Cane sugar can be used for priming, but can also increase gravity in a wide range of beer styles.Shop Candi Sugar
  • Brown sugar – Brown sugar is a great alternative brewing sugar. It tends to be darker than cane sugar, usually due to molasses being added back in to the refined sugar. Brown sugar can be light or dark and it contributes significantly more caramel and molasses flavor than cane sugar.
  • Panela/Picadillo/Jaggery – Panela, also known as picadillo or jaggery, is an unrefined dark brown cane sugar pressed into blocks or cones. It contains higher levels of molasses and natural minerals than more refined sugars. Since it’s pressed, it takes a bit longer to dissolve than granulated sugars, but the rich caramel flavor is worth the wait!
  • Molasses – Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar refining process. It’s a dark syrup which can contribute significant flavor and color to stouts and other dark beers.
  • Lactose sugar – Lactose sugar, or milk sugar, is a non-fermentable sugar and the key ingredient that contributes residual sweetness to milk stouts and sweet stouts.
  • Candi sugar – Belgian candi sugar is probably the most commonly used alternative brewing sugar used in beer. It is usually sold in large crystals, can be either light or dark. It’s a key ingredient in dubbels, tripels, and other high-gravity Belgian ales.
  • HoneyShop Steam Freak Kits – Honey contains significant amounts of simple and complex sugars, as well as a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. It will contribute wonderful flavors and aromas, which will vary with the type of honey. To preserve them, try adding the honey right at the end of the boil.
  • Maple syrup – Maple syrup is another alternative sugar source that will contribute unique flavors to a beer. It works great in brown ales.

When planning on using alternative brewing sugars in beer it is important to know that they have gravities in the ballpark of 1.036-1.046. Check out this table for more detailed gravity and color estimates.
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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.

Tips for Brewing A Lambic Beer Recipe At Home

Lambic BeerI love lambics. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth for anything except alcohol, but a good lambic seems out of my reach if for no other reason than I don’t have a building with louvred vents like they do in Belgium to capture wild yeasts. I’ve done a little searching online for lambics, but the process seems to be: “make a good ale, then add a bushel or two of apples and let ferment for another 2 years and bottle.” There has to be more to it than that. What do you recommend?

Name: Justin V.
State: Pennsylvania
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Hi Justin, thanks for your great question!

I can tell you right now that brewing a lambic beer recipe at home will be a labor of love. First, let me cover some of the elements that make a traditional lambic a lambic, and then I’ll share a couple lambic beer recipes.

As you probably know, lambics were developed around Belgium, specifically in the area of Brussels and the nearby town of Lembeek. Lambic can be traced back hundreds of years and is a very distinctive brew.

One of the main characteristics of lambic is that it is fermented with a variety of wild yeasts, particularly Brettanomyces. These wild yeasts and bacteria gave the beer a dry, unique flavor profile, a combination of tart, earthy, leather, fruity, and even “horse blanket.” As you mentioned, Belgian brewers would traditionally move their wort to a “cool ship,” a large, rectangular vessel with an open top, then leave the wort in the open to collect wild yeasts and bacteria through windows or vents. Some brewers would even refuse to clean those rooms for fear of disturbing the precious microbes!

Lambics can be characterized as pale and moderate in gravity. It’s traditional to have about 30% unmalted wheat in the grain bill. You might try using torrified wheat.

It’s also traditional to use aged hops when brewing a lambic beer recipe, which were used for their preservative value more than their bittering, flavoring, or aroma characteristics. The aged hops would produce a negligible bitterness that wouldn’t interfere with the sour, earthy, and complex wine-like flavors of the lambic. If you don’t have any aged hops on hand, try asking around your homebrewer friends – someone will likely have some lying around.

After the mash and boil, the beer would be moved to the cool ship, and then fermented in barrels. Sometimes fruit was added, especially cherries and raspberries, for added flavor and fermentability. Here is where the tough part comes in – lambic is usually aged one to three years or longer!

Liquid Beer Yeast For Lambic Beer RecipeAs a beginning lambic brewer, I would recommend using a premixed lambic culture, such as the one offered by Wyeast . This blend contains the appropriate combination of yeast and bacteria to make a lambic. Some brewers will recommend that you use a dedicated set of equipment for your lambic and other “funky” beers so as to avoid cross contamination with your other brews.

With all the information above, I believe you have some good hints as to what to do when you brew a lambic beer recipe at home. Below are two beer recipes. The first is for a lambic-esque beer, made sour with cranberries rather than funky microbes. The second beer lambic recipe is for a more traditional lambic, and comes from the book Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff.

Good luck!

Cranberry “Lambic”, from A Year of Beer 
(5-gallon batch, all-grain recipe)

Specs
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.018
ABV: 4.6%

Ingredients
6 lbs. Wheat malt
3.5 lbs. Pilsner malt
1 oz. Hallertau hops at :60 (2.8 AAUs)
.25 oz. Hallertau hops at :15 (.7 AAUs)
.5 oz. orange peel (5 minutes)
5/8 cup priming sugar
1 can cranberry juice concentrate added to secondary
Bavarian Wheat ale yeast

Directions 
Mash crushed grains at 124˚F for 30 minutes, then raise temperature to 153˚F for 60 minutes. Raise to 168˚F for mash out. Boil wort for 75 minutes, adding hops according to schedule above. Ferment at 65˚F for 10 days, then move to secondary for 14 days. Glass carboys are recommended for fermentation.

 

Lambicus Piatzii, from Brewing Classic Styles
(5-gallon batch, extract recipe)

Specs
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.006
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: 5
SRM: 4

Ingredients 
5 lbs. Wheat LME
4.1 lbs. Pilsner LME
3 oz. aged hops (any European low-alpha variety) at :90 minutes
Safale US-05

Directions
Mix LME with enough hot water to make 7.7 gallons and bring to a boil. Add hops and boil for 90 minutes. Chill wort to 68˚F and pitch ale yeast (use half a packet of dry yeast or a full packet of liquid yeast without a starter). After a week, add the lambic blend. Ferment at 68˚F for six months to a year. A layer will form on the top of the beer called a pellicle. This is caused by the lambic culure and it is normal. The pellicle will often fall to the bottom of the fermenter when the beer is ready to be bottled. Bottle for 1 to 1.5 vols CO2.

Justin, this should be enough information to get you on your way to brewing a lambic beer. There are two beer recipes that you can brew at home and some insight and tips on how to get either of them brewed.
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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.

5 Home Brewing Gadgets That Won’t Break The Bank!

It doesn’t take much to start making your own beer at home: a large pot, some fermenting buckets, and you’re pretty much good to go. There are a few pieces of equipment though that make a world of difference in terms of ease and time. These are a few of the home brewing gadgets that I don’t brew without – each for $40 or less:

  • The Auto SiphonAuto Siphon – The standard racking cane/siphoning hose setup will get the job done, but it’s hard to get a good flow going – if you’ve used them you know what I’m talking about. But with a pretty minor investment, the auto siphon will make racking beer from primary to secondary a piece of cake. We carry the auto siphon in both 3/8” and 1/2” hose sizes. Either will allow you to start a siphon flow by slowly pumping the auto siphon one time. It’s a home brew gadget that I’ll keep at the top of my list!
  • Assorted Funnel SetThe Funnel Set – Sure, you can get by without a funnel, but anytime you’re pouring liquid or dry ingredients from one container to another, these handy gadgets help make sure that they don’t end up all over the floor. Our funnel set lets you fill containers large and small without a hassle, plus it comes with screens for straining. As you can see will have an assortment of sizes with strain screens that snap into the two largest sizes.
  • Escali Digital ScaleThe Digital Scale – If you like to tweak and develop your own beer recipes, a digital scale is a home brewing gadget that is a “must”. It’s perfect for weighing out hops, grains, sugars, and other additions, and it helps ensure consistancy from brew to brew. Our Escali digital scale measures in ounces, grams, and pounds, has a capacity of 11 pounds or 5 kilograms, is accurate to the .05 oz., and it gives the homebrewer much more control over their craft.
  • Assorted Brush SetThe Complete Brush Set – Sound cleaning and sanitation are key to making good beer. The complete brush set includes five different brushes so you can make sure your bottles, carboys, and even airlocks are free of debris that could contaminate your beer. This brush set includes two different sized bottle brushes, a gallon jug brush, a carboy brush, and a smaller brush that’s perfect for scrubbing on the inside of airlocks and spigots. Buying the whole set saves about 20% over buying each brush individually. Anything that makes cleaning and sanitizing easier is money well spent in my book.
  • Stainless Steel Carboy and Bottle WasherThe Carboy and Bottle Washer – Again: cleaning and sanitation is essential. This home brewing gadget makes rinsing carboys and bottles a breeze. Pressing the carboy or bottle down on the lever releases a jet of water, a high pressure blast that’s much more effective than a regular rinse. We carry the washer in both stainless steel and brass. The thread fits standard outdoor and utility faucets, so get the Kitchen Faucet Thread Adapter to make it work in the kitchen.

What home brewing gadgets do you find essential? Let us know in the comments section!

Til next time…Cheers!

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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.

Rye Porter Beer Recipe (All-Grain)

All-Grain Brew Kettle On Stove Brewing Rye PorterSometimes it’s fun to brew outside of the BJCP style guidelines and to combine different beer styles to make something new and different – a hybrid beer style if you will. Today’s all-grain, rye porter beer recipe combines the roasted malt flavors of a porter with the spicy, tangy rye flavors of a rye pale ale.

First, let’s review some tips for brewing with rye:

  • Homebrewers can use either malted rye or rye flakes in a beer recipe, or both.
  • Rye contributes a distinctive flavor, but also body and mouthfeel.
  • Many American-style rye beers use 10-20% rye in the grain bill.
  • If using more than about 15-20% rye, consider using rice hulls to prevent a stuck mash.
  • Rye will sometime contribute haze to a beer. Review these tips for brewing a clear beer.

The rye porter beer recipe below is modeled after Sly Rye Porter from Yazoo Brewing Company (Nashville, TN), a beer the brewery describes as “a rich, chocolatey English Porter with a clean finish. Using only the finest malts, a portion of malted rye gives a spicy, slightly dry finish.”

Good luck!Shop Barely Grains

Rye Porter Beer Recipe (All-Grain)
(5.5-gallon batch)

Specs
OG: 1.057
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 31
SRM: 31

Ingredients
7.5 lbs. pale ale malt
1 lb. caramel 40L
1 lb. rye malt
Shop Hops1 lb. flaked rye
.75 lb. chocolate malt
.25 lb. carafa III malt .5 oz. Challenger hops at :60 (4 AAUs)
1 oz. Cascade hops at :15 (7 AAUs)
1 oz. Cascade hops at :5 (7 AAUs)
1 pack Safale US-05 American ale yeast or Wyeast 1272: American Ale II

Directions:
Optionally, start with a protein rest at 122˚F for 20 minutes. Raise mash temperature to 152˚F and hold for 60 minutes. Raise temperature to 168˚F for mash out. Sparge with enough water at 168˚F to collect about 6.5 gallons of wort. Bring wort to a boil and boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to schedule above. Chill wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Pitch yeast when wort is at 70˚F or below. Ferment at 68˚F until complete.

This rye porter beer recipe has more of an American twist, using American ale beer yeast and Cascade finishing hops. It’s a tasty homebrew with a smooth body, a rich chocolate malt flavor, along with an intriguing hint of spicy, slightly tangy rye grain. This all-grain beer recipe has a touch more hop bitterness than the Sly Rye, with the Cascade finishing hops bringing in a spicy and citrusy hop character that work well with the rye.

Have you ever brewed a darker beer with rye? How did it go?
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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 IBD and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

How And Why To Chill Your Wort Quickly

Wort ChillerAfter boiling your homebrew beer for an hour, you may think that you’re done. Not quite. There are still a couple more steps that can go a long way towards improving the quality of your homebrew. One of these is chilling the wort after the boil, and there are several benefits for doing it quickly. Here’s some information on why you should chill your wort quickly and how to chill your wort quickly.

There are three main reasons why we chill the wort in the first place:

  1. To reach yeast pitching temperature – The ideal pitching temperature for your beer yeast will vary depending on the style of beer you’re brewing and the yeast strain itself, but in most cases it’s in the ballpark of 70°F. Pitching too warm could cause some strange off-flavors or even worse, kill the beer yeast. Just follow the instructions on the yeast package and you’ll be fine.
  1. To coagulate protein – This is an important reason as to why you should chill your wort – to produce a quick, sharp “cold break”. Chilling the wort quickly will help the protein in the wort clump together and settle out. This reduces the amount of protein in the final product and helps to achieve a clearer, better looking brew. The faster the change in the temperature, the better the cold break. The cold break can be aided by adding 1 teaspoon of Irish Moss during the last 10-15 minutes of the boil.
  1. To reduce the risk of contamination – Warm, sugary wort is the perfect place for wild bacteria and yeast to grow. The more quickly we can get the wort from the kettle to the fermenter, the better. But don’t let this make you panic! If you chill the wort quickly and do your best to reduce exposure to the air, your beer will turn out fine.

 

So, now that we’ve learned reasons why to chill a wort and why it helps to do it quickly, what’s the best way to accomplish this? How do we chill a wort quickly? Homebrewers have a couple of options:

  • The wort chiller – The fastest and most effective way to chill wort quickly is with a wort chiller. An wort chiller is basically a coil of copper with a couple of hoses attached. One hose is the cold water inlet and attaches to a faucet. The other is the hot water outlet. By putting the wort chiller directly into the wort and running cold water through it, the water will pick up the heat from the wort on its way through the coil and out the other hose. This method can bring the wort to pitching temperature in as little as 20Shop Brew Kettles minutes, saving a lot of time and achieving a really good protein break. You’re likely to use a few gallons of water as you do this, so see if you can recover the hot water coming out of the wort chiller and use it for cleaning later on. There are also plate wort chillers. With these, the beer is being ran through a cold plate that is being cooled with running water.
  • The ice batch – Chilling a wort with an ice bath works best for homebrewers boiling three gallons or less (otherwise it takes too long). Simply submerge the kettle in a sink filled with ice, then fill the sink with cold water. A deep sink works best – see if you can get the top of the ice bath to be even with the top of the wort. You may need to change the water a few times to get down to pitching temperature. You can also cock the drain plug so that water is slowly draining, while water is running at the same rate from the faucet.

 

Now, you know how and why to chill a wort quickly. So the next time you brew, focus on making sure you chill your wort quickly. You’re likely to notice a difference in both appearance and taste.

What method do you use to chill your wort?
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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 Tips For Homebrew Cleaning And Sanitizing

Cleaning and sanitizing homebrew bottlesMany homebrewers will tell you that the first step to making good homebrew is to practice good cleaning and sanitizing habits. Without practicing good cleanliness, you run the risk of contamination by wild yeast and bacteria that could potentially ruin your batch of beer. While there are no known pathogens that can survive in beer, you certainly don’t want to throw a batch of homebrew down the drain because of spoilage!

But don’t worry! Cleaning and sanitation are easy to master. Before too long, it will become second nature, so invest some time and energy early in your homebrewing career to develop good habits.

Here are some homebrew cleaning and sanitizing tips to help you make sure your beer is clean, enjoyable, and free of contamination:

  1. Don’t rush through these important first steps! As tempting as it is to save time on brew or bottle day, cleaning and sanitation can make the difference between a great batch and one that gets thrown out. Also remember, it’s called cleaning and sanitation for a reason – it’s a two-step process. It’s important to clean away visible debris using a brewery specific cleaner, such as One Step Cleanser or Basic A. Follow package instructions to ensure effective sanitation.
  1. Making the most of ordinary household cleaning products may save you some money, but it’s important to know which products are transferable to the brewing world and which are not. Sanitizing homebrew equipment with unscented household bleach as an alternative sanitizer is a very effective, but it doesn’t take much – Charlie Papazian recommends using 1-2 ounces of regular, non-concentrated bleach per gallon of cold water, and soaking for about 30 minutes and allowing to dry. The biggest problem with using bleach to sanitize you equipment and bottles is that it does not rinse well. It likes to cling to surfaces. If you do use bleach, rinse thoroughly 3 times with hot water. NOTE: Do not mix bleach with other cleaners.Buy Basic A
  1. Do not use ordinary dish soap or detergent on your brewing equipment, as these can leave residues that will ruin your beer’s head retention. A good alternative is to us Five Star: Powdered Brewery Wash.
  1. Save a buck – and water – by reusing cleaning and sanitizing water when possible.
  1. Save more cash by filling a spray bottle with diluted sanitizer to spray down buckets and equipment. This uses less water than a soak, just make sure homebrew equipment gets enough contact time to ensure effective sanitation.
  1. Use non-abrasive scrubbers and brushes on plastic buckets and equipment. Scratches in the plastic are ideal hiding places for bacteria and wild yeast.

 

Tips for Homebrew Cleaning and Sanitizing on Bottling Day

  1. Be sure to remove the spigot from your bottling bucket before and after use and clean it well on the inside. By doing so you’re reducing the likelihood that significant “crud” will build up.
  1. If reusing beer bottles from the store or other homebrews, cleaning is much easier if you rinse well after drinking. This may seem like an obvious tip, but it can easily save a lot of time on bottling day!
  1. AShop Bottle Washer typical dishwashing machine set to the sanitize cycle can be used for sanitizing beer bottles. Make sure they are thoroughly rinsed BEFORE loading them up. A bottle washer can be attached to a standard kitchen faucet to make this process easier.
  1. Don’t forget to sanitize your bottle caps! Use the same method as you would for sanitizing other equipment.

 

As you brew more batches over time, you’re likely to develop your own homebrew cleaning and sanitizing tips and trick. What advice do you have for maintaining sanitation in the home brewery?

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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.