My Original Gravity Is Too Low. What Should I Do?

Homebrewer Adjusting Original Gravity That Is Too LowA common issue among beginning extract and partial mash homebrewers is that they undershoot their beer recipe’s anticipated original gravity. The original gravity is too low. This can happen for a number of reasons when beer brewing, but largely because many homebrew kits call for topping off with water to get five gallons of wort, without taking into account how the brew day went. (What if you spilled some wort or didn’t get all the extract out of the can?) This can throw off alcohol content, mouthfeel, IBUs – in short, turning the beer into something it wasn’t supposed to be. That’s not to say that it won’t be completely drinkable – it may well be. But some of us, for better or worse, are perfectionists.

The best time for extract brewers to correct for gravity is right after the boil. Take a hydrometer reading before pitching the beer yeast to get your bearings. Plug your numbers into a dilution calculator to see if topping up to five gallons will get you to your target OG. If you think you’ll end up with the original gravity too low, read the tips below:

 

  1. Double-check your OG (original gravity) reading. Did you take the reading at the calibrated temperature for your hydrometer (usually 60˚F or 68˚F)? If not, did you correct for temperature using a hydrometer temperature correction calculator? Taking a reading out of the temperature range or failing to correct for temperature can throw off your reading by several points.
  1. Decide how you want to move forward. You have a few options here. Do you want to just go with what you’ve got? Do you want a full five gallon batch of beer? If you top off the wort to a full five gallons, you’ll have a lower alcohol beer than what you expected. If you only top off with enough water to hit your target original gravity, you’ll end up with less beer, but at least have the correct original gravity and alcohol content. Alternatively, you can mix in more fermentables in order to meet both your original gravity and your target batch volume.Buy Temp Controller
  1. To hit your target volume, top off to five gallons. You’ll have a slightly weaker beer than intended, but this might be a worthwhile sacrifice for the sake of more beer. Trust me, I understand.
  1. To hit your target original gravity, top off to less than five gallons. Use a dilution calculator to figure out how much water to add so that you can hit your target gravity. You can also do the math by hand pretty easily. For example, if your three gallons of wort is 1.060 and your intended gravity is 1.040, plug in the numbers and solve for the volume of water (A2):

A1*B1 + A2*B2 = (A1+A2)*(target gravity)

(3 gallons at 60 gravity points) + (A2 gallons at 0 gravity points [water]) = (3 + A2) gallons at 40 gravity points

A2 = 1.5 gallons

  1. To hit your target volume and your target gravity, you can mix in more fermentables. Some may consider this the ultimate way to go when the original gravity is too low. Using the blending formula above, you can figure out how much additional fermentable ingredients you need. Mix up a small batch (about one-half to one gallon) of concentrated wort using DME (dried malt extract), sugar, honey, or molasses. Your fermentable ingredient will depend on your beer recipe and what you have on hand. DME will be the most beer-like, while excessive sugars may cause your beer to over attenuate. Dark DME or molasses may alter the color of your beer, so choose wisely. If you can, boil enough hops in the mini batch to maintain your level of IBUs.

Let’s work through an example.

My target OG was 1.052. Instead, I ended up with 4.5 gallons at 1.044. This is a much lower than expected original gravity. My measured IBUs (after dilution with water) was 30. First let’s figure out how much additional fermentable I need in a half-gallon mini-batch to hit my target OG:

(4.5 gallons * 44) + (0.5 gallons * X) = 5 gallons * 52

X = 124

To get a gravity of 1.124, my half-gallon batch needs about 1.48 lbs. of DME, 1.35 lbs. of cane sugar, or 1.48 lbs. of honey. (A beer recipe calculator can help you figure this out.)

About .3 ounces of a 5% alpha acid hop boiled for thirty minutes will yield about 30 IBUs in the mini-batch. You don’t necessarily have to add hops to the mini-batch, but it will keep you from diluting the bitterness of your beer.Shop Steam Freak Kits

 

Sure, it gets a little complicated. Most of the time when your original gravity is too low, you may just want to roll with whatever gravity you get. Here’s some tips for hitting your original gravity. But in the event that you need to make some adjustments, learning how to execute the above procedures is crucial for dealing with a lower than expected original gravity.
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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.

Insanely Simple Lesson On How to Measure Beer Color

Beer color is often the first thing you notice when drinking a brew. It has a huge effect on your expectation of the beer, and beers that don’t fit the drinker’s expectations can be confusing or considered out of style. Imagine going to a bar and ordering stout and the beer comes back pale. Or you ask for a Pilsner and the beer you get is brown. You’d certainly send the beer back and ask for something else!

If you like to compete in homebrew competitions, it’s essential to present a beer within the color parameters for a particular beer style. There are a good number of beer calculators out there which will help you approximate a beer’s color as you’re developing a beer recipe, but after you brew the beer, you may want to measure your beer’s color to see how close you got to your estimate. While it’s possible to conduct a lab test with a light spectrometer and achieve a very specific result, for most of us, we can do the test with the naked eye and get reasonably accurate results.

SRM Beer Color ChartThe Beer Judge Certification Program has developed a method for measuring beer color. It involves taking a sample of beer and placing it in a glass that is five centimeters in diameter. Via BJCP.org:

 

How To Measure Beer Color

  1. Measure a sample of beer in a clear glass or hard plastic cup with a path of 5cm (use the bottom edge of the guide as a measure). If the glass is not 5cm wide, pour a depth of 5cm and look down through the beer.
  1. Use a pure white sheet of paper or white tablecloth as a background.
  1. Use a natural light source or artificial light approximating sunlight. Do not use a flashlight to provide extra light. The color chart guide and the beer must be viewed using the same light source. Avoid casting shadows with your body or the beer glass.
  1. Look through the beer at the white background.
  1. Place the BJCP color chart guide next to the beer so that the beer (as viewed with the white background) and the guide can be seen together. Compare the color palettes and find the closest match. An exact match is unlikely, so look for the closest lightness/darkness match rather than attempting to match hue. If the sample is in between two color patches, interpolate.

 

Shop Home Brew Starter KitUsing the BJCP color chart guide, you can easily get an approximation of your beer color in SRM (Standard Reference Method) units. To convert your measurement into Lovibond or EBC, try this Brewtoad Color Converter.

And that’s how to measure beer color in your brews. Pretty simple? Be sure to record the color of your homebrew beer in your homebrew notes!
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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.

Centennial Blonde Ale Recipe (All-Grain and Extract)

Cenntenial Blonde AlePopular Mechanics recently listed their Top 10 Home Brew Beer Recipes, featuring tried and true beer recipes from homebrewers around the country. If you’ve ever found yourself looking for a light, refreshing blonde ale recipe with a well-rounded American hop profile, this could be the one for you!

Homebrewer Kevin Mattie’s Centennial Blonde Ale recipe is a pale, sessionable beer at just 4.2% ABV. The grain bill includes US two-row pale malt as the base, using Carapils for head retention and a combination of light crystal and Vienna malts for flavor and color.

On the hops side of the equation, a mix of Cascade and Centennial hops provide enough bitterness to set it apart from lifeless macro beers, but not nearly as much as an American pale ale or IPA. The choice of hops provides a touch of that piney, citrusy American hop flavor and aroma we all know and love.

For yeast, Mattie uses Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast, a versatile dry ale yeast that’s clean fermenting, easy to use, and affordable.

Between its balance, sessionability, and simplicity, this sounds like a great brew to have on hand for summer!

 

Centennial Blonde Ale
(5.5-gallon batch, all-grain)

Specs
OG: 1.040
FG: 1.008
ABV: 4.2%
IBUs: 21.5
SRM: 3.9Shop Steam Freak Kits

Ingredients
7 lbs. Two-row pale malt
.75 lb. Carapils/Dextrine malt
.5 lb. Caramel/Crystal 10L malt
.5 lb. Vienna malt
.25 oz. Centennial hops at :55 (2.4 AAUs)
.25 oz. Centennial hops at :35 (2.4 AAUs)
.25 oz. Cascade hops at :20 (2 AAUs)
.25 oz. Cascade hops at :5 (2 AAUs)
1 packet Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast

All Grain Directions: Mash crushed grains in 11 qts. of clean water at 150˚F. Hold mash for 60 minutes. Sparge with enough water at 175˚F to collect about 6.5 gallons of wort. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to schedule. Whirlpool and chill wort to 68˚F. Pitch yeast and ferment at 68˚F for 10 days.

Shop Conical FermenterExtract Option: Replace the grain bill with 5 lbs. light DME and 1 lb. Carapils/Dextrine malt. Steep the crushed grains for 1 hr. at 155˚F then strain out. Add DME and enough water to make a 6.5-gallon boil. (For a 5-gallon kettle, a 3.5-gallon boil is fine.) Bring wort to a boil and boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to schedule. Whirlpool and chill wort to 68˚F. If needed, mix in enough clean, bottled water to make 5.5 gallons. Pitch yeast and ferment at 68˚F for 10 days.

More 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 and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

Master The Art Of Lagering Beer At Home

Home Brewed Lager BeerLagering beer is a process that is necessary to actually produce the characteristic of a lager beer. The word “lager” comes from the German word for stockroom or warehouse, and to lager your beer is to lay it down in storage at cold temperatures. To develop the smooth, clean flavors required of lagers, it’s essential to practice good lagering techniques, whether you are lagering beer at a brewer or lagering beer at home.

The practice of lagering beer was developed by Bavarians who placed their beer in cold caves to improve the beer’s stability – essentially so that it would keep through the warmer seasons. Over time, this practice isolated bottom-fermenting yeast strains that preferred those cooler temperatures. The lager yeasts we use today in homebrewing are derived from those strains.

One of the main characteristics of lager yeasts – and one of the reasons lagers are fermented at lower temperatures – is that they produce fewer esters and other aromatic components than ale yeasts. A good example of this is the difference between the fruity, spicy characteristics of a Belgian ale against a clean German lager. Depending on the style you’re making, you may or may not want those prominent yeast characteristics. With the possible exception of some high gravity lagers (like bocks), most lagers should not have prominent fruity esters.

One thing to look out for when lagering beer at home is diacetyl. Diacetyl is a natural byproduct of fermentation. In high concentrations, it smells and tastes just like movie theater popcorn. In most lagers, diacetyl should not be detectable, though some lager styles permit a small amount of it. Luckily, yeast consumes the precursors of diacetyl. A diacetyl rest – a small increase in temperature between primary and secondary fermentation – is sometimes used when fermenting a lager.

So how does one go about lagering beer at home? Follow the procedures below for a standard lager fermentation:Buy Temp Controller

 

  1. Pitching: Lagers require 2-3 times as much yeast as ales. For an average gravity lager, two liquid yeast packets should be sufficient. For a high gravity lager, you may need three. You can also make a yeast starter to grow your yeast colony to the appropriate size. Check out Mr. Malty’s Yeast Pitch Calculator to figure out exactly how much yeast you should pitch into your lager.
  1. Primary fermentation: Ferment your Lager beer within the temperature range specified by the yeast strain you’re using, usually between about 48°-52°F, though it can vary by as much as 5°-10° on either side depending on the particular beer yeast you’re using. Try to keep the temperature consistent. If you have a cool basement, you may be able to try lagering your homebrew beer during the winter (or even year round depending on your location) without a fridge or freezer.
  1. Diacetyl rest (optional): For 1-3 days at the end of primary fermentation, allow the fermentation temperature to increase to about 60°-65°F. During this time, the lager yeast will reduce diacetyl in the beer.Shop Brew Kettles
  1. Lagering/cold storage: Transfer the beer to a secondary fermenter and store for 1-2 months at 32°-40°F. Most homebrew lager recipes call for a 1-2 month lagering period, though the occasional strong lager may be kept in cold storage for three months or longer. During this time the beer will condition and flavor will improve over time.

 

Have you every tried lagering beer at home? What’s your favorite lager style? 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.

Racking Beer Into A Secondary Fermenter? Doesn’t Hurt!

Racking Beer Into Secondary FermenterThis past month, I bought my brother, who just started homebrewing, a red ale beer recipe kit. Checking in on his progress, he asked me this question:

“My beer is in the process of fermenting. We started fermenting it in the bottling bucket because we plan on racking the beer into a secondary fermenter to do a secondary fermentation on the beer, but we never got around to racking it, so the beer is approaching three weeks of primary fermentation. Do you think it would be worth it to try a secondary fermentation for a week, or do you think we should just go straight to bottling the beer at this point?”

After three weeks in primary, it’s highly likely that your beer is done fermenting, and it’s probably safe to go ahead and bottle your beer. But you can’t just bottle straight from your primary fermenter: it’s full of yeast and other trub that you should try to keep out of your finished beer.

 

Here’s what I would do:

  • Shop FerMonsterRack the beer to your other (sanitized!) secondary fermenter and take a gravity reading with your hydrometer to see whether the fermentation is complete. It most likely will be at this point, but you want to be sure. Remember, if you take a reading directly in the bucket, your hydrometer should be sanitized beforehand.
  • You probably won’t need to plan for an extended secondary fermentation period, but in any case, go ahead and rack your beer from the primary to the secondary fermenter. This will give you the opportunity to free up your bottling bucket and discard the trub. Go ahead and clean out the bottling bucket so it will be ready for brew day.
  • After 2-3 days in secondary, you can go ahead and bottle, provided that you’ve reached somewhat close to your anticipated final gravity. Bottle as you would normally. You can mix in the priming sugar as it fills back into your bottling bucket.

 

Though the beer’s secondary fermentation probably won’t affect your gravity at this point, I’d recommend at least 2-3 days to allow the yeast, which will get stirred up when you’re racking, to settle again. This may also be a good time to add gelatin or isinglass if you find that your beer is especially cloudy. Racking beer into a secondary fermenter is never a bad thing.Shop Homebrew Starter Kit

Tip: Many aspects of homebrewing are made easier by thinking through the process in advance. Think backwards from the end of the brewing process to figure out your brew day or bottling day sequence so that racking and bottling, etc. are more convenient to your schedule. Good luck!
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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.

A Beginner’s Guide To Home Brewing German Beer

Home Brewed German BeerToday we will explore the beers from one of the world’s top brewing regions: Germany. Many of the world’s popular styles of beer are derived from classic German styles. Home brewing German beer is no harder or easier than brewing other types of beer, and the array of flavors is nothing short of fulfilling.

  • Bamberg Smoked Beers
    Bamberg, in the central region of Germany called Franconia, is the home of rauchbier (rauch = smoke in German). The smoked beers of Bamberg are mostly lagers, ranging from pale in color to amber or brown. The smokiness can be anywhere from mild to very assertive. Brew your own smoked beer using Briess Smoked Malt. As little as a pound will add noticeable smoke flavor to any beer style. A classic rauchbier should be similar to Märzen in appearance, and may use as much as 100% smoked malt.
  • Bavarian Wheat Beers (Weizen)
    The southern region of Germany is known as Bavaria, with Munich being the capital as far as brewing is concerned. Bavaria is home to weissbier (white beer), also known as weizenbier (wheat beer), to great German beer styles. Variations on the style include dunkelweizen (dark wheat beer) and hefeweizen, a wheat beer served cloudy with its own yeast (hefe = yeast). Some of the popular German brands include Erdinger, Schneider, and Paulaner. Bready, effervescent, with a hint of banana and clove, weizenbier is especially refreshing during the summer months. If this is your first time home brewing German beer, than this is a good style to start with.
  • Oktoberfest/Märzen Lagers
    These amber lagers have been made popular by the annual Oktoberfest celebrations in Bavaria. Only breweries within the Munich city limits are allowed to serve their beer at the main Oktoberfest festival. These include Spaten, Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Staatliches Hofbräu-München. Check out our Oktoberfest blog post for more information and beer recipes for home brewing an Oktoberfest/Märzen lager. Anyone interested in home brewing German beer might best be served by giving this one a go.
  • Kölsch
    Born in the Western city of Cologne (Köln in German), the Kölsch is a very pale lager/ale hybrid. Though fermented with top-fermenting ale yeast, this beer is conditioned at colder lager temperatures, which helps give it a clean, crisp character. In fact, lager is a German word meaning “to keep” or “to lay down.” Read our Tips on How to Brew a Kölsch and check out the Brewers Best Kölsch Recipe Kit to brew your own Kölsch!Shop Beer Recipe Kits
  • Roggenbier
    Roggen is the German word for rye. Roggenbier is native to Regensberg, in Bavaria. It is similar to the German Dunkelweizen (dark wheat beer) except that malted rye is used in place of malted wheat. Rye can get sticky in a mash; rice hulls can help avoid a stuck mash. A classic roggenbier may use as much as 50-65% rye malt, with the rest of the grain bill coming from pale malt, Munich malt, wheat malt, and/or crystal malt. The weizen ale yeast should be used to achieve the banana/clove characteristics of this style.
  • Altbier
    Altbier literally means “old beer.” Not that the beer is especially old! The name just means that the beer is brewed in the old style. Northern German Altbier is defined as a moderately bitter brown lager. It’s a great beer to start with for someone thinking about home brewing German beer styles. Though they may be made with ale yeast, they should be fermented cool and lagered. Altbier is also popular in the German city of Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf Altbier differs from Northern German Altbier in that it tends to have a more robust (but not roasty) malt flavor and more assertive noble hop bitterness.
  • German Light Lagers
    Lumped together in this broad category are a number of notable styles, including Munich Helles, Dortmunder Export, and Pilsner. Helles means “light” in German, in reference to the color of these beers. These pale lagers are relatively new styles, since pale malts weren’t made until advances in technology during the Industrial Revolution. Each of these lagers are very clean and pale in color. The dominant flavor in the Munich Helles should be the light grain, often Pilsner malt. German Pilsner tends to feature more noble hop bitterness and flavor. The Dortmunder Export is a slightly stronger lager than the Helles or Pilsner, featuring more substantial body and a good balance between malt and hops.Shop Conical Fermenter
  • German Dark Lagers
    Prior to the mid-1800s, all German lagers were dark. Munich Dunkel (dunkel = dark) is a classic lager, featuring loads of rich Munich malt, as much as 100% of the grain bill. The color of a Munich Dunkel ranges from copper to dark brown. Even darker than the Dunkel is the Schwarzbier (Schwarz = black). Though it tends to be more brown than black, schwarzbier is chocolaty and full-bodied, often with a dry, tangy finish. Contrary to what a drinker might suspect, schwarzbier is exceptionally smooth and sessionable. For this reason, it is one of the better German beer styles for home brewing. Intrigued? Brew a schwarzbier with this malt extract schwarzbier recipe.
  • Berliner Weisse
    This is a very pale style of beer usually brewed with 30-50% malted wheat. The defining characteristic however is that the beer is fermented with a lactobacillus bacteria culture, which gives the beer a tart, sour acidity that’s actually quite refreshing. There was a time in Germany when Berliner Weisse was extremely popular and referred to as “the Champagne of the North.” Though it is not as popular today as it once was, the style has made a resurgence among craft brewers in the United States. This recipe for a Cranberry “Lambic” allows the homebrewer to replicate the tartness of the Berliner Weisse without the bacteria culture.
  • Bocks
    Bockbier was developed in Northern Germany. The name likely comes from the town of Einbeck, where bocks were first made as early as the 14th and 15th centuries. German bocks are very strong lagers, ideal for consumption during the colder months of winter and early spring. Bocks tend to be smooth and malty sweet. Doppelbocks are even stronger versions, usually at least 6.8% ABV, and often with the suffix –ator in the name. Paulaner Salvator is the classic example. Maibock or Helles Bock is lighter in color, though just as potent as a traditional bock.Shop Home Brew Starter Kit

Home brewing German beer recipes is an excellent way to get you brewing “chops”. We have several beer recipe kits featuring German style beers. All the way from Kölsch to Bock, there is a favorite German beer style waiting for you. Which one will you brew first?
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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.

3 Homebrew Beer Recipes You’ll Want To Brew Again!

Man Drinking Homebrew BeerAs a homebrewer, I love to experiment with a wide varieties of homebrew beer recipes: ginger beer, various SMaSH beer recipes, attempts at gluten-free beer for my girlfriend. Experimentation is a great way to learn about homebrewing ingredients and the processes, but it’s also important to make beer that is guaranteed you’ll like to drink. If all you do is experiment all the time, chances are that you’ll have to stomach your way through some very.…interesting beers.

There are thousands upon thousands of homebrew beer recipes that you could make: clone recipes, SMaSH recipes, extract recipes, all-grain recipes, IPA’s, double IPA’s, dark beers, light beers, hard recipes, recipes for beginners. It is truly and endless list. With all the chatter it’s hard to choose.

With that in mind, here are three homebrew beer recipes that I would recommend for the regular rotation.

 

Homebrew Beer Recipe #1
AMARILLO PALE ALE 

(five-gallon batch, extract partial mash recipe)

This recipe produces a solid American pale ale. Malted wheat and carapils give this beer some body and a solid white head, while the Amarillo hops give it a bright citrus character.

Specs
OG: 1.059
FG: 1.016
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 31
SRM: 6

Ingredients
1 lb. Carapils malt
1 lb. White wheat maltShop Steam Freak Kits
6.6 lbs. Light Malt Extract
4 oz. light brown sugar (late addition)
1 oz. Amarillo hops at 60 mins (8.6 AAUs)
.5 oz. Amarillo hops at 20 mins (4.3 AAUs)
1 tsp. Irish moss at 15 mins
.5 oz. Amarillo hops at 5 mins (4.3 AAUs)
Wyeast 1056: American Ale Yeast or Fermentis Safale US-05

Directions
If using liquid yeast, prepare a yeast starter the day before brewing. On brew day, steep crushed grains in three quarts of water at 152˚F for 60 minutes. Strain out grains and rinse with hot water at 170˚F. Add liquid malt extract and enough water to make three gallons of wort and bring to a boil. Add hops and Irish moss according to schedule above. At end of boil, mix in brown sugar. Chill wort to 70˚F or below and mix in enough cool, clean water to make 5 gallons. Pitch yeast and ferment at 65-70˚F. Bottle or force carbonate for ~2.5 vols CO2.

 

Homebrew Beer Recipe #2
BIG MIKE’S BIG BROWN ALE

(five-gallon batch, all-grain recipe)

This beer recipe makes a fairly stout American brown ale with a heavy dose of hops.

Specs
OG: 1.062
FG: 1.017
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 62
SRM: 30

Ingredients
9.5 lbs. Two-row brewer’s maltShop Home Brew Starter Kit
1.5 lbs. Caramel 60L malt
.75 lbs. Chocolate malt
.5 lb. Belgian aromatic malt
1.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at 60 mins (7.5 AAUs)
1 oz. Willamette hops at 30 mins (4.5 AAUs)
1 tsp. Irish moss at 15 mins
1.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at 10 mins (7.5 AAUs)
1 oz. Willamette hops at flameout (4.5 AAUs)
Fermentis Safale US-05 Ale Yeast

Directions
Mash crushed grains at 152˚F for 60 minutes. Sparge to collect seven gallons of wort in the brew kettle. Bring to a boil and add hops according to schedule. Chill wort to 70˚F or below and ferment at 65-70˚F. Bottle or force carbonate for ~2.4 vols CO2.

 

Homebrew Beer Recipe #3
SUMMER SAISON

(five-gallon batch, all-grain recipe)

When temperatures start to rise, it’s time for saison. Not only can the saison yeast handle the higher temps, the citrus flavor and dry finish on this beer are very refreshing. This is a wonderful homebrew beer recipe that I’d wish every brewer would try.

Specs
OG: 1.061
FG: 1.012
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: 31
SRM: 6

Ingredients
8 lbs. Two-row brewer’s malt
1 lb. Caramel 20L malt
4 oz. Flaked oats
1.5 lbs. cane sugar (late addition)
.5 oz. Northern Brewer hops at 60 mins (3.9 AAUs)
.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :30 (2.5 AAUs)
3 grams fresh ground coriander at :20
.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :15 (2.5 AAUs)shop_brew_kettles
1 tsp. Irish moss at :15
3 grams fresh ground coriander at :10
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops (dry hop)
Danstar Saison Yeast

Directions
Use relatively hard water for the mash. Mash grains in about 11 qts. of clean water at 148-150˚F for 60 minutes. Sparge to collect 7 gallons in the brew kettle. Bring to a boil. Add hops, spices, and Irish moss according to schedule. At end of boil, mix in cane sugar. Chill wort to 70˚F and transfer to fermenter. Pitch yeast and ferment at 70-75˚F. Dry hop for five days at 68˚F. Bottle or force carbonate for ~2.4 vols CO2.

These are a few of my favorite go-to homebrew beer recipes that I brew on a regular basis. Which beer styles are part of your regular rotation? Feel free to share the recipe 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.

2 Sparging Techniques: Batch & Fly

Fly Sparging TechniquesFor all-grain brewers, sparging is the final step of the mash process when the grains are rinsed with hot water to remove the last remaining sugars from the mash. There are two sparging techniques: batch sparging and fly sparging. This article will explore the two methods and help you decide whether you should do a batch sparge or a fly sparge when homebrewing.

 

What is Fly Sparging?

Fly sparging is a sparging technique that is typical of the way many professional brewers rinse their grains. A rotating sparge arm or similar instrument delivers a shower of sparge water over the grain bed as wort is drawn from the bottom of the mash tun. The trick is to draw wort from the mash tun at the appropriate speed to “set” the grain bed so it can be used as a filter, and then start the flow of water from the sparge arm at a rate that does not flood the mash tun. Essentially, the liquid level inside the mash tun remains the same, with wort running out of the mash tun and water coming in through the sparge arm at roughly the same speed.

When trying to remember the difference between the two sparging techniques, I think of the sparge arm “flying” above the mash. If you’re into do-it-yourself projects, you may be interested in constructing your own rotating sparge arm. You can also simulate the fly sparging method by pouring your sparge water through a colander or screen over the mash. Though the fly sparge method is an efficient way of sparging your grains, a true fly sparge requires some additional equipment, time, and effort.

 

What is Batch Sparging?

By comparison, batch sparging is a sparging technique that is faster and simpler process. Instead of a constant rain of water over the grain bed, a batch sparge involves adding all of the sparge water at once – in one batch.Shop All Grain System

Typically, the homebrewer will first drain all of the wort from the mash into the brew kettle. These may be called the “first runnings”. Depending on your beer recipe, this may yield 50-70% of the total wort needed for the boil. Then the remaining volume of sparge water is added to the mash tun (some brewers will stir the grains) and drained into the brew kettle. If more wort is needed, you can always do another batch sparging.

For example, let’s say you’re brewing a five-gallon batch. You know that you want 5.5 gallons in the fermenter (the extra half-gallon to account for trub). From experience, you know that you boil off 1.5 gallons of wort during a sixty-minute boil, so you need to start with 7 gallons of wort in the brew kettle. After your mash, you’ve collected 3.5 gallons of wort in your brew kettle. Batch sparge with an additional 3.5 gallons of water (usually with the temperature in the ballpark of 165-170˚F) to reach your desired pre-boil volume.

 

So which sparging technique is better?

Neither the batch sparging method nor fly sparging method is inherently betterShop Brew Kettles than the other. It all comes down to what you prefer as a homebrewer. Fly sparging tends to get a slightly better brewhouse efficiency, but it requires extra time and equipment. Batch sparging is faster, but there’s a higher risk of losing efficiency.

Both of these sparging techniques will ultimately get the job done. Try them both and choose for yourself the method that works best for you.

Are you an all-grain homebrewer? Do you prefer a batch sparge or fly sparge?
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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.

Dried Malt Extract vs Liquid: Which is Better?

Dried Malt Extract vs Liquid 2There are a number of “this vs. that” debates in homebrewing: dry vs. liquid yeast, single vs. two-stage fermentation, extract vs. all-grain brewing. On both sides of the argument you will hear supporters of their chosen method insist that theirs is better. But often times the answer depends on the brewer, their equipment, their skill level, their time availability, and a number of other factors. It all boils down to personal preference.

The same can be said for dried malt extract vs liquid malt extract. Neither is necessarily better than the other. Both forms of malt extract have their merit, and both have their drawbacks. Let’s break down the difference between both types of malts to determine when you might prefer dried malt extract or liquid syrup in your homebrew.

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Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale Clone Recipe (Extract & All-Grain)

Brooklyn Brewery Summer AleA classic summer seasonal beer is the Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale. At 4.8% ABV and 26 IBUs, it’s a lighter ale that will pair well with burgers, outdoor activities, warm sun, and good friends.

 

Grain Bill 
Harkening back to its English heritage, this clone recipe uses Crisp’s Best Ale Malt as the base. A smaller amount of pilsner malt keeps the color and flavor light. A mid-range mash temperature of 152˚F results in a good balance of body and fermentability. If brewing the partial mash version of this recipe, add the LME at the end of the boil to increase hops utilization and reduce the likelihood of the LME contributing too much color to the beer.

 

Hopping 
Cascade and Amarillo hops bring a signature American hop profile to this beer. Cascades contribute the classic citrus and spice, while Amarillo dry hops bring a pleasing tropical citrus aroma.

 

Yeast 
For yeast, Nottingham dry yeast is recommended. It’s a classic English strain with a fairly neutral flavor profile. No yeast starter is necessary for this clone recipe, but you may wish to rehydrate the yeast before pitching.

Ready to give it a try? Here’s an all-grain Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale recipe, with a partial mash recipe below! Happy brewing!

 

Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale Clone Recipe (All-Grain)
(5-gallon batch, all-grain) 

Specs
OG: 1.044
FG: 1.007
ABV: 4.8%
IBU: 26
SRM: 5

Ingredients 
6 lb. 5 oz. Crip’s Best Ale Malt
2 lb. 11 oz. Pilsner malt
.75 oz. Cascade hops at 60 mins (3.8 AAUs)
.75 oz. Cascade hops at 30 mins (3.8 AAUs)
.75 oz. Cascade hops at flameout (3.8 AAUs)
.88 oz. Amarillo hops (dry hop)
1 pack Nottingham ale yeast

All-Grain Directions
Shop Steam Freak KitsMash crushed grains in about 2.8 gallons of water at 122˚F for 30 minutes. Raise temperature to 152˚F and mash for one hour. Lauter and sparge to collect about six gallons of wort in the boil kettle. Boil for an hour, adding hops according to schedule. Chill wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Pitch yeast and ferment at 68˚F. Dry hop with Amarillo hops in the secondary fermenter. Bottle or keg with a target carbonation of 2.6 vols CO2.

 

Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale Clone Recipe (Extract)
(5-gallon batch)

Specs 
OG: 1.044
FG: 1.007
ABV: 4.8%
IBU: 26
SRM: 5

Ingredients 
1 lb. 5 oz. Crip’s Best Ale Malt
11 oz. Pilsner malt
1 lb. 10 oz. light dried malt extract
3 lbs. light liquid malt extract (late boil addition)
.75 oz. Cascade hops at 60 mins (3.8 AAUs)
.75 oz. Cascade hops at 30 mins (3.8 AAUs)
.75 oz. Cascade hops at flameout (3.8 AAUs)
.88 oz. Amarillo hops (dry hop)
1 pack Nottingham ale yeastShop FerMonster

Extract Directions
Mash crushed grains in a small stockpot in about 3 quarts of water for 45 minutes. Strain wort through a colander or strainer into your brew kettle, then rinse grains with about 1.5 quarts of water at 170˚F. Add 2 gallons of water and start to heat. Once the wort is hot (but not boiling), remove the kettle from the heat to stir in your dried malt extract. Bring wort to a boil and boil for 60 minutes. Add hops according to schedule above. Five minutes before the end of the boil, stir in the liquid malt extract. Transfer wort to a clean, sanitized fermenter and top up with clean water to make five gallons. Aerate, pitch yeast, and ferment at 68˚F. Dry hop with Amarillo hops in the secondary fermenter. Bottle or keg with a target carbonation of 2.6 vols CO2.
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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.