A Quick Guide To American Hop Varieties

American Hops With American FlagAmerican hop varieties display a wide range of flavor and aroma characteristics, from citrus and floral to piney and resinous.

Hops are generally categorized as bittering, finishing, or dual-purpose hops. Higher alpha-acid hops usually lend themselves to bittering, whereas the lower alpha-acid hops are preferred for flavor and aroma. Dual-purpose hops work well in both situations.

Here’s a quick guide to some of the most popular American hop varieties:

  • Amarillo: Amarillo is one of the relatively new American hop varieties that has become very popular among craft brewers for its fruity hop character. Similar to Cascade, it features strong fruity notes when used as an aroma hop, often described as “tropical”.
  • Cascade: Perhaps the most popular American hop of all, Cascade is well known for its use as a finishing hop in Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale and countless other American ales. It has a distinctly spicy, citrus character that gives very fragrant grapefruit notes when used in later additions.
  • Centennial: Generally considered a dual-purpose hop (meaning it works well both early and late in the boil), Centennial has a citrus and floral character that makes it work well when combined with Cascade and similar hop varieties.
  • Chinook: Chinook is a dual-purpose hop with distinct piney and spicy hop notes. Maybe you could try an all-Chinook IPA?
  • Cluster: According to Ray Daniels, Cluster “is believed to be the oldest of all the American hop varieties still grown today.” It’s a dual-purpose hop with alpha-acids in the mid-range. If you want to brew a pre-Prohibition style American lager, Cluster may be a good choice.
  • Columbus: High alpha-acid content makes Columbus an excellent bittering hop, but it also works well for later additions and dry hopping. Oskar Blues’ award-winning Deviant Dale’s IPA is dry-hopped with Columbus.
  • Fuggle (US): US Fuggles are a low alpha-acid hop derived from the English variety of the same name. When used as a finishing hop, it gives beer a pleasant woody hop aroma.
  • Liberty: Liberty is derived from the Hallertau strain of the German noble hops. It’s a lower alpha-acid hop that works well as a finishing hop in American-style pilsners and lagers.
  • Magnum: US Magnum is a clean, high alpha-acid bittering hop comparable to the German Magnum.
  • Mt. Hood: Mt. Hood as another aroma hop comparable to the German noble hops, named for the region in Oregon where it’s grown.
  • Willamette: Willamette (“Will-AM-ette”) is a low alpha-acid aroma hop bred from the UK Fuggles. It works well in a wide variety of American ales and lagers.

For more great resources on other hop varieties, check out Ray Daniels’ Designing Great Beers.

What are your favorite American hop varieties? Are there any you’d like to see us carry?
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He is a graduate of the Siebel Institute of Technology’s “Start Your Own Brewery” program and the Oskar Blues Brew School in Brevard, NC.

Recipe of the Week: Hennepin Clone by Brewery Ommegang

Hennepin BeerAmong the best Belgian-style brewers in America, Brewery Ommegang stands out as one of the first breweries of the modern craft beer movement to specialize in brewing Belgian beer. Founded in 1997 in Cooperstown, NY, it produces such amazing beers as Rare Vos and Three Philosophers, as well as a series of beers inspired by the hit HBO show Game of Thrones.

Named for the first European to “discover” Niagara Falls, Hennepin is a farmhouse saison, bright gold, dry, and spicy, with an alcohol content of 7.7% ABV. It uses Belgian candi sugar to increase the alcohol content while maintaining a dry finish, and exotic spices like ginger and orange peel to create a complexity that might cause one to compare it to a dry, floral, white wine.

If this sounds like something you’d like to brew, read on for a recipe! This Hennepin clone recipe comes from the October 2002 issue of Brew Your Own Magazine.

 

Hennepin Clone Beer Recipe
(5-gallon batch, extract)

OG: 1.070
FG: 1.008
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: 24

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. Muntons light malt extract syrup (use two 3.3 lb. cans)
0.5 lb. light malt extract powder
2 lbs. light candi sugar (use two 16 oz. packages)
1.25 oz. Styrian Gold hops at :60
1 tsp. Irish moss at :15
1 oz. dried ginger root at :15
1 oz. bitter orange peel at :15Shop Beer Flavorings
0.5 oz Saaz hops at :2
Wyeast 1762: Belgian Abbey ale yeast or Mangrove Jack’s Belgian ale yeast
0.75 cups priming sugar

 

Directions

Dissolve the malt extract and candi sugar in three gallons of hot (not boiling) water. Bring to a boil, then add the Styrian Gold hops and Irish moss. Boil for 45 minutes, then add the ginger root and orange peel. Boil for 15 more minutes, adding the Saaz hops during the last two minutes of the boil.

Cool wort to 80˚F or below and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Add enough clean, filtered water to make 5.5 gallons. Stir well to mix and aerate, then pitch yeast when wort is about 70-75˚F. Ferment at 68-70˚F until complete. Optionally, transfer to a secondary fermenter after about 5-7 days.

On bottling day, dissolve priming sugar in two cups hot water, allow to cool to room temperature, and pour into a clean, sanitized bottling bucket. Transfer wort to bottling bucket, leaving behind any yeast sediment in the fermenter. Fill bottles and cap, then condition for 2-3 weeks. Serve in a stemmed goblet or chalice glass.

 

All-grain directions:

Substitute the malt extracts with 7 lbs. pilsner malt and 2 lbs. pale malt. When mashing, perform a step mash: 30 minutes at 122˚F and 60 minutes at 152˚F. Sparge and lauter, mixing candi sugar into the wort in the boil kettle. Reduce the first hop addition to one ounce, then proceed with recipe above.

 

What makes this Hennepin clone recipe so special is that it is a little off the beaten path. It a unique beer that is produced in a unique style. This makes it a fun brew to make. Oh, and did I mention it tastes outstanding!

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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.

How To Make Your Own Root Beer (Two Recipes)

Mug Of Homemade Root BeerIf you grew up in the US, chances are you have fond memories of A&W and Barq’s – there’s just nothing like the woody, spicy taste of root beer.

Think of the name “root” beer – traditionally it is actually made with a variety of roots, herbs, and spices that contribute flavor and color to the concoction. Among the common ones are wintergreen, vanilla, ginger, licorice, anise, birch, burdock, and sarsaparilla, to name a few.

When making your own root beer, trial and error will help you figure out what methods and ingredients you like best.

 

How to Make Homemade Root Beer

This version of root beer is a soda. Due to the fact that the root beer is bottle conditioned, there’s a small amount (less than 0.5% ABV) of alcohol present in the beer, but not enough to get much of a buzz.

The flavoring in this root beer recipe comes from Zatarain’s Root Beer Extract and makes the brewing process very simple. The most important thing is to halt the fermentation when the carbonation is correct by refrigerating the root beer. Otherwise, bottles could explode.

Feel free to scale this root beer recipe for a larger or smaller batch.

 

Zatarain’s Root Beer Recipe
(5-gallon batch)

Ingredients
1, four-ounce bottle Root Beer Extract
5 gallons of warm, filtered water
3-4 lbs. sugar
5 grams dried beer yeast dissolved in warm water

Directions
Fill a bottling bucket with five gallons of warm (not hot), filtered water. Dissolve sugar in water, then add root beer extract and hydrated beer yeast. Mix well, then bottle in about 53 cleaned and sanitized 12-oz. beer bottles. Cap securely and age bottles at room temperature for 24 hours. Open a bottle and check for appropriate carbonation. If more time is needed, check again every 8-12 hours until desired carbonation is achieved. When desired carbonation is reached, store bottles in a refrigerator to prevent further fermentation.

 

How to Make Alcoholic Root BeerShop Root Beer Extract

For those who want to make a “grown-up” or more traditional version of root beer, the technique gets a little more interesting. Instead of a root beer extract, this recipe uses a mix of herbs and spices to achieve the right blend of flavors. Many of them can be found at natural or health food stores in the bulk section. And instead of large amounts of sugar remaining in the root beer, we’ll use malt extract and brew like we would a normal beer. Just keep in mind that because we’re allowing the beer to ferment, hard root beer won’t taste as sweet as what you buy from the store. However, lactose sugar, caramel malt, and Carapils malt help keep the residual sweetness on the higher end.

 

“Hard” Root Beer Recipe
(5-gallon batch, partial mash)

Specs
OG: 1.068
FG: 1.023
ABV: 5.9%
SRM: 28

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. dark LME
1 lb. dark DME
1 lb. caramel 90 malt
1 lb. Carapils malt
1 lb. lactose sugar
4 oz. dried sarsaparilla root
2 oz. dried burdock root
2 oz. dried spikenard root
1 oz. dried wintergreen leaves
1 oz. vanilla extract
0.5 oz. dried licorice root
1 oz. hops (any variety)
1 pack ale yeast

 

Directions
Steep crushed grains in one gallon of water at 155˚F for one hour. Strain out from wort, then mix in malt extract and enough water to make 2.5 to 5 gallons of wort, depending on the size of your brew kettle. Add herbs, spices, and hops and boil for 30 minutes. Strain out herbs and spices and mix in lactose sugar. If needed, top off with enough clean, filtered water to make five gallons. Cool and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter and ferment until complete. Bottle or keg as you would otherwise.

That’s how you make your own root beer. As you can see either of these recipes are not all that difficult, and the first recipe would be great to do with the kids.

Interested in trying other homemade root beer and soda recipes? Check out the book Homemade Root Beer Soda and Pop.
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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.

5 Tips For Getting More Beer from Every Batch

Pellet Hops In Muslin BagWhen homebrewers make a five-gallon beer recipe, they expect to end up with a full five gallons of beer. To avoid the frustration of ending up with less beer than you bargained for, check out these five ways you can be sure to end up with your proper allotment of homebrew — to minimize the loss and maximize the beer:

  1. Pour all the trub from the kettle into the fermenter. Many homebrew books call for creating a whirlpool in the brew kettle during the chill-down phase, making it easier to leave behind the hops and protein material in the kettle. The thing is, depending on your beer recipe and your equipment, you could easily leave a half-gallon or more of wort in the kettle. To maximize the amount of beer you end up with, try pouring everything into the fermenter, where the hops and the protein will eventually settle out. (I highly recommend reading the Great Trub ExBEERiment to see how this might affect your finished beer.) If you still want to keep the trub out of your kettle, try pouring the wort into the kettle through a strainer to minimize your beer losses.
  1. Top up to 5.25 or 5.5 gallons in the fermenter. Many extract beer recipes call for adding enough water to make five gallons of wort prior to fermentation. But it’s important to remember that the trub in the fermenter can take up as much as half a gallon of wort or more. To account for these losses, add enough clean, chlorine-free water to the fermenter to make a total of between 5.25 and 5.5 gallons of wort. Remember, you are not trying to have more than 5 gallons of liquid, you are trying to make up for the volume the trub is displacing.
  1. Boil your hops in a straining bag. This can be particularly effective for your hoppier homebrews like IPAs. Instead of pitching the hops directly into the boiling wort, try putting them into a muslin bag This way they can be easily removed from the wort post-boil. This works well for dry-hopping, too.
  1. Cold crash. shop_brew_kettlesDropping the temperature of your fermented beer prior to bottling will help yeast, hops, and other material settle into a compact layer at the bottom of the fermenter, maximizing the amount of beer you get from every batch. When fermentation is completely, drop the temperature to 30-40˚F for a few days or longer. This cold maturation phase also helps improve beer flavor. Bottle condition at room temperature as usual.
  1. Use a refractometer. Every time you use a hydrometer to test your beer’s gravity, you lose about a half-pint. With a refractometer, all you need is a couple drops. Please note that a refractometer works best before fermentation. After fermentation begins, you will need a calculator to compensate for the alcohol present in the beer.

What are some ways you maximize your homebrew yields? Do you have any quick tips on how to lose less of your homebrew beer?

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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.

The Perfect Beer Recipe for Spring: Honey Blonde Ale (Partial Mash)

Homebrew made from a Honey Blonde Ale recipe.With spring already here, it’s time yet again to start thinking about the summer brew schedule. Want that homebrew ready for the canoe trip in June? Better start brewing by the end of April or early May. One good candidate for a warm weather beer is a honey blonde ale.

A blonde ale is simply that – a beer that’s golden straw in color, and for BJCP purposes, includes such styles as Kölsch and cream ale. Blonde ales are typically low to moderate in gravity, often resulting in an ABV of about 4% to 5.5%. Bitterness is usually on the low end, around 15-25 IBUs. Flavor wise, blonde ales feature notes of pilsner malt, often serving as a good backdrop for flavor additions. I’ve had a few good strawberry blonde ales, but in this case, honey offers the suggestion of sweet floral character, while the beer remains crisp and dry — perfect for warm weather.

The honey blond ale recipe below yields a brew that’s very pale in color, light in body, yet supported by malty flavor and notes of honey. Bitterness is fairly low at just 20 IBUs, with just a little hop flavor and aroma from the English classic, East Kent Goldings hops. This is a low alcohol brew that will be perfect for lounging outdoors or enjoying on the boat. (If you’re looking for something a little stronger, you might try this imperial blonde ale recipe kit.)

As for the honey, the best thing to do is to add at the end of the boil. The idea is to preserve some of the delicate aromatics and flavor components in the honey (same idea as adding hops in at the whirlpool). The honey flavor is supported with half a pound of honey malt in the mini-mash. Feel free to also use honey for priming.

Be sure to ferment this one within the temperature range of the yeast, maybe giving the beer a little extra time at cooler temperatures to help it clean up. Kölsch yeast is a good alternative to the Ringwood ale yeast in this particular beer recipe.

Ready to brew? Go get ‘em!

 

Honey Blonde Ale Recipe (Partial Mash)
(5-gallon batch)

Specs

  • OG: 1.044
  • FG: 1.013
  • ABV: 4%
  • IBUs: 20
  • SRM: 5

Ingredients

Directions 
shop_home_brew_starter_kitThis is a partial-mash recipe, so start off my mashing the crushed grains in about 4 qts. of clean water for 60 minutes at 148˚F. Strain wort into the brew kettle and sparge with about half a gallon of 170˚F water. Add enough clean water to make about 3 gallons. Bring wort to a boil, remove kettle from heat, and mix in the liquid malt extract. Return to a boil and boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to schedule above. At end of boil, turn off heat and mix in the honey. Cool wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenting bucket. Mix in enough clean, chlorine-free water to make 5.25 gallons. Pitch yeast when wort is at 65-70˚F. Ferment at 65-70˚F for about three weeks, then bottle or keg.

Do you have a favorite beer recipe you like to brew in the spring? Do you have a Honey Blonde Ale recipe? Share them in the comments below!

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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.

Is Reusing Yeast Cake From A Homebrew Fermentation Okay?

Reusing Yeast Cake When Homebrewing.After bottling a batch of beer, many homebrewers have looked at that inch-deep layer of yeast and wondered, “Hey, isn’t there something I can do with all that yeast?” As a matter of fact, there is!

When we think about reusing yeast cake, our natural inclination is to pour another batch of wort right onto it and let ‘er rip. Why not save a few bucks, right? While it is possible to be successful with this strategy, there are a number of factors to consider when reusing yeast cake. Among others, these include:

 

  • Is the style of homebrew appropriate for the yeast being used? If pitching wort onto an existing yeast cake, the styles of the two beers should be relatively similar. Many American and English ale yeasts can be used interchangeably to produce a variety of ales, so you could probably get away with using an ale yeast to make another ale. The same thing with many of the European lager strains. The main exception is with very distinctive yeast strains,Shop Conical Fermenter especially those for Belgian ales and German hefeweizen. You’d be safe if reusing yeast cake from an English pale ale to ferment an American stout, but you obviously wouldn’t want to use a Belgian strain to ferment an English pale ale (though you may end up with a very tasty Belgian pale!).
  • How long has the beer been sitting on the yeast cake to be reused? The longer the beer has been sitting on the yeast, the greater the number of yeast cells that may be mutated or dead. Dead and mutated yeast cells can contribute off-flavors to your beer, so if you plan on reusing yeast cake, use one that has only been in primary for a short amount of time (7-10 days).
  • What was the gravity of the original beer? High gravity fermentations and the alcohol produced from them stress yeast more than lower gravity fermentations. And yeast stress leads to – you guessed it – off-flavors. You’d be better off pitching a high gravity wort onto the yeast cake from a low – to mid – gravity fermentation.
  • How hoppy was the original beer? The amount of hops in the first beer can influence the second. You generally want to pitch a hoppier beer onto a yeast cake from a less hoppy beer (e.g. pitch an IPA onto the yeast cake of a pale ale), otherwise you may end up with excessive hop bitterness or flavor.
  • What color are the two beers?Shop Liquid Beer Yeast As with hops and bitterness, the color of the first beer can influence the second one. To avoid a change in beer color, pitch a darker wort onto the yeast cake from a lighter beer. For example, pitch a stout onto the yeast cake of an amber ale.

 

Other issues that come into play when reusing yeast cake include accurately predicting the number of yeast cells being pitched and whether there was any infection in the original batch. For these reasons, it may be worth starting with a batch of fresh beer yeast. If you really want to reuse yeast cake, consider harvesting and washing the yeast to reduce the impact of dead yeast cells, beer color, and bitterness, and then use a calculator like Mr. Malty to get an estimate of how much yeast slurry to pitch into the second beer. And as always when working with beer yeast, practice impeccable sanitation techniques to avoid contaminating the yeast.

Have you ever pitched onto an old yeast cake? How did it work out? Shop Temp Probe

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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.

Spring Forward with These 3 Single Hop Beer Recipes

Making Single Hop Beer RecipesAs temperatures rise, spring offers a great time to transition away from malty stouts and porters and towards beers that suggest the beginnings of the growing season. As an ode to the flowers and the trees starting to bloom this month, consider paying tribute to every brewer’s favorite flower: the hop with these 3 single hop beer recipes!

If you’re a hop aficionado, you’ve likely come across some single hop beers in your drinking explorations. Making beers that showcase a particular hop variety is a great way to learn the strengths and weaknesses of different hops. The warmer temperatures of spring suggest a lighter, paler beer, the perfect backdrop for experimenting with different hops.

 

Choosing Hops for Your Single Hop Beer Recipes

If you’ve shopped around for hops before, you’ve probably noticed that they are often labeled bittering hops, flavor/aroma hops, or dual-purpose. Single-hop beers will give you the chance to put these conventions to the test.

Super alpha hops have been developed to highlight their bittering potential, but you might be surprised how many of them work well aromatically. Bravo, Magnum, and Simcoe come to mind. Use restraint with these hop varieties in your single hop beer recipes – a little can go a long way.

Conversely, low alpha and noble hops are often celebrated for their aroma characteristics, but some brewers find that they provide a clean bitterness. East Kent Goldings is a versatile hop in this regard, often used as the single hop in traditional English beer styles.

 

Tips For Formulating Your Single Hop Beer Recipes

Of course, there are no hard and fast rules for single hop brewing, but you might want to consider the following as you develop a recipe for your single hop brew:

  • Select a beer style that really showcases the hops. A golden ale, pale ale, or IPA are often good choices.
  • Develop a simple grain bill that won’t cover up or distract from the hops. Try a base malt plus small amounts of one or two specialty grains for color and/or flavor.
  • Choose a clean yeast strain, like Wyeast 1056, that will let the hops shine through.
  • If brewing multiple single hop brews, consider using a constant base recipe, simply changing the hops for each one.
  • You may wish to brew small batches to get the most experimentation out of your raw materials.
  • Don’t be afraid to throw all these suggests out the window – feel free to try a single hopped stout or Belgian IPA!

 

Single Hop Beer RecipesShop Hops

Ready to try some single hop brewing? Give one of these recipes a try!

 

East Kent Bitter
(five-gallon batch, all-grain)

Specs
OG: 1.045
FG: 1.011
ABV: 4.4%
IBUs: 31
SRM: 9

Ingredients
8 lbs. Maris Otter malt
1 lb. Crisp Crystal 45L
1 oz. East Kent Goldings hops at :60
.5 oz. East Kent Goldings hops at :30
.5 oz. East Kent Goldings hops at :15
1 oz. East Kent Goldings hops, dry hopped for 5 days
Wyeast 1099 or Safale S-04 Shop Barley Grains

 

Bravo IPA
(five-gallon batch, extract with specialty grains)

Specs
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.7%
IBUs: 51
SRM: 8
Batch Size: 5 Gallons
Boil Volume: 6.5 Gallons

Ingredients
6 lbs. light dry malt extract
1 lb. Munich 10L malt
.5 lb. Caramel 40L malt
.33 oz. Bravo hops at :60
1 oz. Bravo hops at :15
.67 oz. Bravo hops, dry hopped for 5-7 days
Wyeast 1056: American Ale Yeast or Safale US-05 Shop Bazooka Screen

 

Amarillo Wheat Ale
(5-gallon batch, extract with specialty grains)

Specs
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.013
ABV: 5.25%
IBUs: 23
SRM: 5
Batch Size: 5 Gallons
Boil Volume: 3 Gallons

Ingredients
3.3 lbs. light liquid malt extract
3.3 lbs. wheat liquid malt extract
.5 lb. torrified wheat
.5 lb. caramel 10L malt
.5 oz. Amarillo hops at :60
1 oz. Amarillo hops at :15
1 oz. Amarillo hops, dry hopped for 7 days
Wyeast 1056: American Ale Yeast or Safale US-05

Shop Hop BagsDo you have any favorite single hop beer recipes? We’d love you to 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.

Ready? Start Brewing Summer Beers Now!

The result of brewing summer beers.It’s helpful as a homebrewer to always be thinking ahead. Laying out a brewing calendar and deciding what beer styles would be best for the upcoming season.

Now that summer’s just around the corner, do you have your brews lined up for the warmer months? Do you know what summer beers you’ll be brewing?

To help get your mental brewing calendar flowing, here are twelve beer recipe kits that will quench your thirst in the summer heat! These are excellent kits for brewing summer beers

 

Best Beer Styles For Brewing Summer Beers

  • Blonde Ale – In the same ballpark as cream ale, blonde ale is a great beer for the beach. Subtle sweet malt notes support a very light dose of hops, making this beer very easy-drinking.
  • Witbier – Belgian witbier is a wheat-based ale that uses orange peel and spices to give it a citrusy flavor. The wheat gives the beer a bit of sweetness, making it an easy drinker. If you like Hoegaarden or Blue Moon, this one’s for you! This is a beer style that’s always in my plans for brewing summer beers.
  • Weizenbier – German weizen is a wheat beer with notes of tropical fruit and cloves. These characteristics are derived entirely from German weizen yeast, and may also feature notes of vanilla or bubblegum. The wheat gives the beer a somewhat creamy texture, but the light body keeps the beer from being too filling.
  • Kölsch – This German-style ale is a clean, crisp, golden-colored ale with a touch of light malt flavor and a hint of apple or pear. Though similar in appearance and mouthfeel to light lagers, German noble hops give the beer a more assertive bitterness and a decent amount of hop flavor.
  • American Pale AleShop Beer Recipe KitsGood old American pale ales are always in season. APAs tend to feature some notes of caramel malt, but the main feature is always the hops. American hops tend to showcase flavors and aromas of pine, citrus, and spice and usually a bracing bitterness as well. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the benchmark.
  • American Cream Ale – Cream ale is a great beer for the summer. It’s very similar to light lager, but it’s fermented at ale temperatures, making it easier to produce for the average homebrewer.
  • English Bitter – If you like hops, but find American Pale Ale a little too aggressive, try an English Bitter. This English Pale Ale is a little more balanced between the malt and hops, and tends to have a slightly lower alcohol content as well.
  • Light Lager – Here’s a good option for tailgating, a cookout, or any event with red plastic cups. Also makes a great lawnmower beer!
  • PilsnerGerman lager is somewhat more refined, with more pronounced hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Dry and crisp, pilsner works well in just about any summertime situation.
  • Saison – Saison features a fruity, citrusy aroma with some floral and spicy notes – definitely a flavorful option for summer drinking! It’s usually an enticing, bright orange color with lots of carbonation. Saison usually finished dry with a touch of refreshing acidity.

 

Shop Chugger PumpWhat are some of the beer styles you’re thinking about putting on your summer brewing calendar? Are any of the above fit into your plans for brewing summer beers?
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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.

Home Brewing With Hops: A Simple Resource Guide

Beer Wort Boiling HopsWithout hops, most beers would be unrecognizable. Hops are both a preservative and a bittering agent, and their oils are responsible for much of the flavor and aroma found in beer. Whether you prefer a malty beer or you’re a full-blown hop-head, home brewing with hops is a critical part of making beer at home.

Here are a number of resources to get you started on your journey of learning all about home brewing with hops:

 

About Hops

  • The Anatomy of the Hop – Hops, as used in homebrewing, are the flower of the humulus lupulus This post explains what it is about the hop flowers that make them so valuable to brewers.
  • What are Noble Hops? – You’ll often hear the term “noble hops” if you enjoy brewing traditional beers from Europe. Learn what makes these kinds of hops so high and mighty.
  • A Quick Guide to American Hops – What makes American hops different from other hops? What are some popular American hop varieties you can use in your American IPA, American pale ale, or American stout?

 

About Hop Bitterness Shop Hops

  • How to Calculate the IBUs of Your Homebrew – International Bittering Units (IBUs) are a measurement of the bitterness in beer. It’s a factor of how much alpha acid is extracted and isomerized into the wort.

 

About Hop Flavor and Aroma

  • Understanding Hop Oils – Hop oils are the seemingly magical ingredients that give beers a wide range of flavor and aroma characteristics, from citrus and pine, to grapefruit and herbal. Learn more about hop oils and how to maximize their contribution to your homebrew.
  • How to Dry Hop in a Homebrew KegShop Bazooka ScreenSome homebrewers like to dry hop right in the keg. Learn how to do this so you don’t end up with a bunch of hops in your pint glass.

 

Hoppy Extract & Partial Mash Beer Recipe Kits

 

Hoppy All-Grain Beer Recipes

 

Hoppy Home Brewing Resources

Want to learn even more about hops? If after mastering the topics above you still want to learn more, I suggest the following:

Is there something you want to learn about home brewing with hops that isn’t covered here? Share in the comments below!Shop Home Brew Starter Kit
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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.

Dandelion Beer Recipe: A Springtime Treat

Dandelion Beer RecipeYou may have heard of dandelion wine, but have you ever made dandelion beer? Here some info on making one – including two dandelion beer recipes!

Though most people consider the dandelion an obnoxious weed, the whole plant is actually edible: roots, leaves, and flowers. Dandelion is medicinal as well, sometimes taken in the form of tea for its detoxifying qualities.

For those interested in traditional and rustic pseudo-beers, a dandelion beer may give a hint as to what an early American settler would have made in the absence of hops, using the ubiquitous dandelion to help provide bitterness and flavor.

A number of American craft brewers have given dandelion new life by putting it in some of their specialty beers:

 

  • New Belgium made a Dandelion Ale as part of the Lips of Faith series. Their version used pilsner malt, dandelion greens, grains of paradise, and Belgian ale yeast.
  • Magic Hat recently release Pistil as a spring ale, their recipe produces a light, 4.5% pale ale brewed with flaked oats, Apollo hops, Northern Brewer hops, Cascade hops, and dandelion leaves.
  • Fonta Flora, a newer brewery in Morganton, North Carolina, brewed a dandelion brettanomyces saison.

 

As you can see, there are many ways to interpret the style of dandelion beer. The key component, as with any beer, is balance.

A Note on Harvesting Dandelion
It should be easy enough to find dandelions. Just be sure that the location you’re pulling the dandelions from hasn’t been sprayed with pesticide or herbicide, is far enough away from any cars and pets so as to avoid contamination. Shop Beer Flavorings

A Traditional Dandelion Beer Recipe
This recipe, from Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, is a traditional dandelion beer recipe from 1931. Though the fermentable sugar in this case is from sugar, feel free to use malt extract instead for more body. Sugar beers tend to finish a little thin. The flavor is hard to describe: floral, yet not in the way hops can be floral. I served this beer at a homebrew festival a couple years ago – it’s strange, but some people really liked it. Be warned – the beer will stain a plastic fermenter, so I recommend a glass carboy.

 

Ingredients (two-gallon batch)
2 oz. dried dandelion
2 oz. dried nettle
1 oz. dried yellow dock root
1 gal. water (plus 1 gallon preboiled and cooled for topping off)
2 lbs. sugar
2 tbsp. dried ginger
Beer Yeast

 

DirectionsShop Carboys
Boil the dandelion, nettle, and yellow dock root in water for 15 minutes. Place the sugar and ginger in your glass fermenter, then strain the “tea” over the sugar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then add enough preboiled, cooled water to bring the total volume to two gallons. Rehydrate your yeast (if using dried) and stir into the wort. Ferment til complete, then bottle.

 

A Modern Dandelion Beer Recipe
The Dandelion Bitter from the Homebrewer’s Garden offers a recipe a little closer to what most of us consider beer.

Specs
OG: 1.045 – 1.056
FG: 1.014 – 1.018
Color: orange-brown

Ingredients (five-gallon batch)
1/2 lb. toasted malt
1/2 lb. 60L crystal malt
1 can light liquid malt extract
2 lbs. light dried malt extract Shop Liquid Malt Extract
1 lb. dandelions: leaves, blossoms, and roots at :60
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :15
1/2 oz. Willamette hops at :2
1/2 oz. Willamette hops (dry hops)
Wyeast 1028: London Ale Yeast or Safale S-04
2/3 c. corn sugar for priming

 

Directions
Clean the dandelions thoroughly. Steep crushed malts in 1.5 gallons water at 150-160˚F for 30 minutes. Strain into a brew kettle and rinse grains with 1/2 gallon of water at 170˚F. Stir in the malt extracts and bring to a boil. Boil for one hour, adding dandelions and hops according to schedule above. Pour 1.5 gallons of preboiled, prechilled water into a fermenter. Strain hot wort into the fermenter. Rinse hops with 1/2 gallon of boiled water. Top up to five gallons. When wort is 70˚F or below, pitch yeast. Ferment at 65-70˚F. At the end of primary fermentation, add the Willamette dry hops. After secondary fermentation, bottle with priming sugar and condition for two weeks.

Have you ever brewed a dandelion beer? Or, do you have a dandelion beer recipe you’d like to share with us? How did it turn out?Shop Home Brew Starter Kit

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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.