5 Tips For Improving Your Home Brews

Homebrewer Sampling BeerAfter brewing a few batches of beer, you may be wondering what you can do to improve your home brews – to make them better. While there may be a lot of different things you can do, try just one at a time. If you’ve already brewed a few batches, you’ve probably got the bug. Don’t rush – there’s plenty of time to learn.


  1. Take notes – Due to the fact that it takes several weeks to make beer, it’s easy to forget what you may have done on brew day once your beer is ready to drink. If you notice a flaw – or maybe something you really like – in a brew, having detailed notes with all of your procedures and ingredients listed out will make it that much easier to replicate your successes and avoid repeating your mistakes.
  1. Use filtered water – Though tap water is acceptable for your first batches of beer (and maybe beyond, depending on your water quality), using pure, filtered water is a simple way to improve your home brews. It gives you more of a blank canvas when it comes to reproducing certain beer styles. Some beers are heavy in mineral content; others are not. When you start with pure water you can customize your brewing water depending on what kind of beer you’re making.
  1. Control fermentation temperature – Possibly one of the biggest improvements you can make to your home brewed beer is to control the fermentation temperature. Chances are, you started out just fermenting at room temperature – and that’s fine. But sometimes room temperature and optimal fermentation temperature don’t always line up. If you can dedicate a spare refrigerator to fermentation and rig up a temperature controller, you’ll open up the full range of styles and can begin to explore how even subtle changes in temperature can improve your home brews.Shop Temperature Controller
  1. Replace some extract with grains – I’m not necessarily suggesting you skip ahead to all-grain brewing right away. Depending on your skill level, this may mean just steeping some additional grains prior to mixing in the malt extract, or it may be doing a full-on partial mash, simply supplementing the mash with some extract. Over time, you can do bigger and bigger mashes. Either way you do it, making the move towards using malted grains will give you more options and may also improve the flavor of your home brews.
  1. Brew clone recipes – I’m a big advocate for brewing clone recipes. Clones are intended to be copies of commercial brews. It’s easy to find them in books and online. The big advantage with brewing clones is that you can compare them to the original, and then break down what you can do to make the clone more exact. It’s a great way to develop your palate and your skills as a brewer. Plus, by using beer recipes that have been tested before, there’s a higher likelihood that your beer will turn out good. Check out some of these clone recipe kits to get started!


Are you an experienced homebrewer? What upgrades helped you to improve your home brews?
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

Zen and the Art of Bottling Homebrew: 10 Tips for Bottling Day Success

Freshly Bottled HomebrewHave you ever put off bottling your homebrew because you dreaded the task?

Though many brewers bemoan the act of bottling homebrew, others find bottling their brews to be an opportunity to disconnect from the modern world, to clear the mind, and hey, why not have a homemade beer while you’re at it?

Bottling homebrew does not have to be difficult. But for some reason it can be tempting to put it off until the last minute. As Seneca once said, “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” Like many tasks, bottling homebrew is more stressful in our minds than it really is!

To help maintain the zen mindset while bottling your homebrew, consider these tips and make it as easy and painless as possible.


10 Tips for Bottling Homebrew

  1. Use label-free bottles. Removing labels from 50 bottles is no easy chore. Either buy some new ones, or see if you can get some from your local brewery.
  1. Set aside plenty of time for the task at hand. Rushing will only cause problems down the line. Two to three hours should be enough for bottling five gallons of homebrew (unless you have to remove labels from bottles – then plan on 3-4 hours).
  1. Clean your work area ahead of time. It’s much easier to cook in a clean kitchen. The same goes for when you’re bottling homebrew.
  1. Recruit a helper. Bottling homebrew is always more enjoyable with a friend. Dividing tasks also saves time and helps the time to go by faster. And who knows, you might end up inspiring a new homebrewer in the process.
  1. Start with clean beer bottles. This is my favorite tip for bottling homebrew. If you’re reusing beer bottles, rinse them out as soon as you’re done with them. When the bottles are already clean, all they need is a quick soak in sanitizer solution and you’re ready to go.
  1. Move the carboy into position early. Getting the carboy into position on the counter gives yeast and other sediment time to settle before racking to the bottling bucket.Shop Bottling Bucket for Bottling Homebrew
  1. Use a priming sugar calculator. Avoid bottle bombs and gushers. Use a priming calculator to pinpoint your target carbonation levels.
  1. Don’t forget the caps! This is a bottling tip I wish I could remember. More than once I’ve gotten halfway through bottling my beer, only to realize I hadn’t sanitized the bottle caps. Be sure to do this before pouring out your sanitizer solution!
  1. Reuse 6-pack carriers and case boxes. These make transport, organization, and storage easy.
  1. Keep beer bottles in a warm (room-temperature), dark area and patiently wait for 2-3 weeks. This may be the hardest tip for bottling homebrew to follow. To resist the temptation of cracking open a homebrew early, buy some nice, high-quality beer to enjoy in the interim.

What tips do you have for bottling homebrew?
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

“German” IPA Beer Recipe (All-Grain & Partial Mash)

German Beer In GlassesOne of the fun things about homebrewing is mashing together different beer styles and creating something altogether new. After trying a “German IPA” at a brewpub in Atlanta, I knew I had to give it a shot. The beer had the wonderful, malty backbone and the in-your-face hop flavor of an IPA, but the hops themselves were not what you’d usually expect to find in that kind of beer. Instead of piney, citrusy American hops, this beer showcased the more spicy and floral character of noble hops.


Developing a German IPA Beer Recipe

A number of clues came from the beer menu:

Grain bill: Munich, Vienna
Hops: Magnum, Perle, Northern Brewer, Hallertau, Tettnang
Yeast: German ale yeast

These were my tasting notes: Balanced bitterness, medium to medium-full bodied, spicy notes in the flavor, but with assertive noble hop aroma.

Based on this information, I took a couple of stabs at the beer recipe, and this is its current iteration. Feel free to use it as a starting point for your own German IPA, or modify it to suit your tastes.

Good luck!


German IPA Beer Recipe – All-Grain
(5-gallon batch)

OG: 1.064
FG: 1.016
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 64
SRM: 11

9 lbs. German Vienna malt
4 lbs. German Munich malt (dark)
0.5 oz. Magnum hops at :60
1 oz. Perle hops at :20
1 oz. Northern Brewer hops at :10
1 oz. Hallertau hops at :5
1 oz. Tettnang hops at :5
1 oz. Hallertau hops dry hopped for five days
1 oz. Tettnang hops dry hopped for five days
Wyeast 1007: German Ale Yeast

shop_barley_grainsThe day before brewing, prepare a 2L yeast starter. On brew day, mash grains at 154˚F for 60 minutes. Sparge and lauter to collect about 6.5 gallons of wort in the brew kettle. Boil for one hour, adding hops according to schedule above. Chill wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenting bucket. Ferment at 66˚F for about a week, then transfer to a secondary fermenter. Dry hop for five days, then bottle or keg.


German IPA Beer Recipe – Partial Mash
(5-gallon batch)

OG: 1.064
FG: 1.016
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 64
SRM: 11

2 lbs. German Vienna malt
2.5 lb. German Munich malt (dark)
6.6 lbs. Munich LME
1.65 oz. Magnum hops at :60
1 oz. Perle hops at :20
1 oz. Northern Brewer hops at :10
1 oz. Hallertau hops at :5
1 oz. Tettnang hops at :5
1 oz. Hallertau hops dry hopped for five days
1 oz. Tettnang hops dry hopped for five daysshop_hops
Wyeast 1007: German Ale Yeast

The day before brewing, prepare a 2L yeast starter. On brew day, do a “mini-mash” of the Vienna and Munich malts in 6.75 qts. of clean water. Hold at 154˚F for 60 minutes, then strain wort into the brew kettle. Add the malt extracts and enough water to make 3 gallons. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to schedule above. Chill wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenting bucket, adding enough clean, chlorine-free water to make 5.5 gallons. Ferment at 66˚F for about a week, then transfer to a secondary fermenter. Dry hop for five days, then bottle or keg.

Have you ever brewed a “German” IPA before? What was your beer recipe like?

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.

Tips for Brewing with Rye

Sack Of Rye For Brewing BeerHave you ever wanted to brew a Rye IPA or a Rye Saison? Though rye beers are easy to brew, it just helps to know a few techniques before you get started. Here’s some tips for brewing with rye.


How is rye different from other brewing grains?

While most beer is made primarily from barley, other grains can be used to add complexity of flavor or to affect the mouthfeel of the beer. Rye, like wheat, is higher in protein than barley so it helps to give beer a smooth, chewy, filling mouthfeel. It does not have a husk, so sometimes rice hulls are used to help with lautering. Rye also has a unique flavor, one that some describe as spicy, tangy, or rustic. It seems to pair well with spicy hops and phenolic yeast strains.


How to Add Rye to Your Homebrew

Brewers have a few choices when adding rye to their brew. Rye malt is the standard ingredient for brewing with rye. It can be crushed just like other malted grains, though rye tends to have a smaller grain size, so it may be necessary to mill the rye separately on a smaller setting to get a good crush.

Flaked rye has been heated and pressed through rollers. Flaked grains don’t need to be milled, so they can be added directly to the mash or steeping bag.

Chocolate rye malt is a specialty grain that combines the roasty, chocolatey flavors of a darker specialty malt with the spicy notes of rye. It’s a fun way to add some complexity to darker beers! Use up to about a half-pound or so in a five-gallon batch.Shop Barley Crusher

Similar to chocolate rye malt, Cararye malt is a rye malt that’s been kilned just enough to develop some amber color and sweet caramel flavor. Recommended usage is up to 15% of the grain bill.

When brewing with rye it is important to understand that it has a higher protein content than other grains and no husk. Because of this rice hulls are recommended when brewing with more than about a pound of rye. This will improve filtering ability of the grain bed and will help reduce the likelihood of a stuck mash. Rice hulls will not affect flavor or color, but they will greatly improve the filtering ability of the grain bed. For an all-grain batch of homebrew with more than 10% rye, 0.5-1 pound of rice hulls are recommended. They do not need to be milled.


Rye Homebrew Recipes

Ready to make some rye beers of your own? Here’s some beer recipes to help you start brewing with rye…


Have you ever tried brewing with rye? What’s your favorite style of rye beer? 
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

10 Fun Facts About Beer and Homebrewing

Happy Beer DrinkersYou’ve already impressed your friends with your homebrew – now impress them with your knowledge about beer!

Warning: Any sharing of these random beer facts at non-beer related events may cause you to be labeled a “beer geek.” Read on with caution!

  1. Homebrewing was illegal from Prohibition until Feb. 1, 1979, when it was legalized under President Jimmy Carter. However, it remained illegal in many states until 2013, when Mississippi and Alabama became the last states to officially legalize homebrewing.
  1. Many of the Founding Fathers were homebrewers. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin all dabbled in brewing. You can sample renditions of these brews from breweries like Yards and Starr Hill.
  1. There are 1.2 million homebrewers in the United States.[1] And these homebrewers collectively brew some 62 million gallons of beer a year! That’s almost half a billion pints!
  1. Beer is made with fungus! Yeast is added to sweet wort to start the fermentation process. Billions of yeast cells absorb sugar molecules and convert them into CO2 and alcohol. Yeast also produces a variety of flavor compounds, which have a significant impact on the flavor profile of a beer.
  1. Beer is made with flowers! Hops, the chief ingredient that makes beer bitter, is in fact the female flower of the humulus lupulus plant. (Making Flower Power a great name for an IPA!)
  1. Hops are closely related to marijuana. Both plants a members of the Cannabaceae
  1. Beer can be made with seaweed, fish, and just about anything else you can think of. Irish moss, a seaweed, and isinglass, made from fish swim bladders, are two common fining agents. In other words, they help clear your beer. Not to worry – both settle out before making it into your beer glass. Beyond that, just about everything else under the sun has been used to make beer at one time or another, from bull testicles to Count Chocula cereal.shop_home_brew_starter_kit
  1. The beer can was invented in 1935.[2] The iconic vessel that many of us consider to be a staple of the beer industry isn’t even 100 years old yet. The first versions of the beer can required a church key to puncture a whole into the “flat top” beer can.
  1. Nearly all of your favorite craft brewers got started with homebrewing. Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada, Jim Koch of Sam Adams, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head – each of these craft brewing pioneers got started with humble roots.
  1. Beer likely inspired civilization – and the pyramids.[3] I don’t know about you, but I find the promise of a cold pint at the end of the workday extremely motivating. Apparently, so did the thousands of workers who built the pyramids of Egypt. According to ancient fermented beverage expert Patrick McGovern, “The pyramids might not have been built if there hadn’t been enough beer.” Beer has also been presented as a key reason behind ancient cultures settling down and transitioning from a nomadic lifestyle to one based on agriculture.


What other random beer facts would you add to the list?
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Simple Style Guide: Oatmeal Stout

Oatmeal StoutIn the world of stouts, Irish stouts are dry and milk stouts are sweet, but oatmeal stouts fall somewhere in the middle. The use of a small amount of oats in the grist give this roasty brew a smooth, somewhat creamy mouthfeel. This is, in essence, what you are looking for when making an oatmeal stout.

Topping Serious Eats’ list of Top 5 Oatmeal Stouts, Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is a classic. Rich and luscious, flavors of toasted malt and chocolate combine with oats for a smooth finish. A similar beer is made by Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC, – an excellent oatmeal porter. Flaked oats give the beer a smooth, silky character. 5.9% ABV, 35 IBUs using American hops, Chinook, Willamette, and Cascade. These are two great examples to seek out when crafting your oatmeal stout recipe.


Brewing an Oatmeal Dry Stout

The key question when making an oatmeal stout is how to add the oats. Oats contribute a little extra body to the beer, but if overused can make the beer seem oily. 5-15% oats is ample for an oatmeal stout, but some grists may include up to 25% in the most extreme cases. As for the oats themselves, flaked oats will contribute the most fermentable sugar and can be added directly to the mash, while raw, steel-cut oats from the store must be cooked, boiled separately before being added to the mash. Some brewers even use a pack of oatmeal from the grocery store – just be sure to avoid those with flavorings – unless you’re going for a cinnamon oatmeal stout, of course!


Grain Bill and Fermentables

An oatmeal stout gets its dark color from specialty grains like chocolate malt and roasted barley. Roasted barley helps to impart the dry, bitter flavor of coffee that stouts are known for, but it must be used sparingly (a maximum of 5-7% of the grist). Reduce the roasted barley in favor of chocolate malt to avoid overly burnt or charcoal flavors.

To accentuate the oatmeal character, Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer John recommend, “Toasting the oats in the oven at around 300°F (149°C) until they begin to slightly color up and give off a nutty oatmeal cookie character.”

These ingredients can be combined with a standard base malt or light malt extract to form of your grain bill. Your original gravity shouldn’t exceed about 1.065.Shop Dried Malt Extract



An oatmeal stout is an English creation, so English hops work best when making this beer style. Examples include Kent Goldings, Fuggles, and Target. Shoot for 25-40 IBUs. Hop aroma is low to none, so use restraint in the late hop additions.



Oatmeal stouts typically have some mild fruity aromas, which are best delivered by the use of English ale yeast. Safale S-04 is a good dry yeast option. A number of liquid yeast strains will work as well. Wyeast 1099: Whitbread Ale Yeast is a fast-fermenting, high flocculating strain with relatively clean fermentation characteristics, especially at lower fermentation temperatures. Other strains, such as Wyeast 1318: London Ale III, will give a slight fruity character and may leave some residual sweetness. It’s generally recommended to rehydrate dry yeast, and if using liquid yeast, to prepare a yeast starter.

Now you’re ready to make your own oatmeal stout!

Do you have an excellent recipe for making oatmeal stout? Share it in the comments below. What kind of oats do you use, and for what percentage of the grain bill?

Sources: Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew (p. 168). Brewers Association.

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.

What Beer Should I Brew First?

Assortment Of Craft BeersAs a new homebrewer, choosing what beer you should brew first can be a daunting task. After all, there are so many different beer styles to choose from, how do you choose where to start?

Though there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to homebrewing, some of these guidelines may help you with selecting your first brew:

  • Start with a recipe kit. For your first batch, I recommend starting with a homebrew recipe kit, or at least a tried and true beer recipe. In homebrewing, the process is just as (if not more) important than the beer recipe, so maybe for the first homebrew beer let someone else handle the recipe formulation. The beer is more likely to turn out better, and you can focus on learning the process. Once you have the process down, you can start playing around with different ingredients.
  • Brew a beer you want to drink – every day. A batch of homebrew makes 45-50 bottles of beer. So with that in mind, choose a beer style that you drink a lot of. Many people enjoy pale ales as their go-to beer style. In that case, you might try a Sahara Nevada Recipe Kit. That’s not to say you aren’t allowed to brew something more unusual, but that will only increase the odds of you having to pawn off five gallons of strange brew on your friends and co-workers. Save the chipotle smoked porter and chocolate stout for a little later in your brewing career. This might also eliminate high-gravity beers like barleywines and imperial stouts.
  • Ales are easier than lagers. Since lagers require temperature-controlled fermentation, it’s usually best to make your first home brew beer an ale. Ales include IPAs, porters, brown ales, and stouts. Once you build your own fermentation chamber, then you can go crazy with the lagers. (You can read more about the difference between ales and lagers on our blog.)shop_home_brew_starter_kit
  • Darker beers tend to be more forgiving. Many people recommend that beginners start with darker beer styles, as the roasted malts help round out a beer that’s rough around the edges. Consider brewing a brown ale, porter, or stout for your first batch of homebrew.


Some good options for your first batch:

  • Sahara Nevada Pale Ale – A clone of the ever popular Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (5.5% ABV).
  • Babbage Brown Porter – A dark beer that’s not too heavy (5.5% ABV)
  • Belgian Saison – If you like Belgian ales, this kit’s a great one to start with. Very bright, spicy, and aromatic (5.5% ABV)
  • English Brown Ale – A malty brown ale with a nutty, slightly fruity aroma (4.5% ABV).
  • Steam Stoker Stout – Dark brown, nearly black in color. Flavors of chocolate and coffee with a moderate hop character (6.5% ABV).


I hope this information helps you out when asking yourself, “what beer should I brew first?” It’s a decision to be made, for sure, but don’t let it stop you from getting started either. Jump right in, the water’s fine.

David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

IPA Session Beer Recipe (All-Grain & Partial Mash)

Two men drinking a ipa session beer.“Session” beers are all the rage these days. Though super high-gravity beers have their place, beer drinkers seem to be trending back to beers that are easily drinkable – something you can enjoy a few pints of without necessarily getting a headache the next day. Such is the case with this IPA session beer recipe.

Homebrewing geeks may be familiar with the beer writer Ron Pattinson and his blog, Shut Up About Barclay Perkins. Ron dives deep into brewing history, going to great lengths to dig up old beer recipes and statistics on how beer was actually made many decades ago. Believe it or not, historical beer recipes didn’t always fit very snuggly into the BJCP Style Guidelines.

This was certainly the case when looking at beer recipes from during WWI and WWII. Such was a time when barley was rationed and brewing ingredients came at a premium. This certainly affected the brewing industry in the UK, where English barley malt was supplemented with imported malts and adjuncts like corn and sugar.

Today’s IPA session beer recipe is modeled after a beer from the Whitbread Brewery of London (Incidentally, Whitbread yeast is derived from that brewery. Safale S-04 is the dry yeast version). The beer has a much lower gravity than what we would normally consider for an IPA, with an ABV of just 4.7%. Still, it’s a bitter beer at 75 IBUs. The use of about 20% simple sugar should make this beer pretty dry on the finish.

Curious what kind of beer people were drinking nearly 100 years ago? Give this recipe a try!

Whitbread 1917 IPA Recipe
(5-gallon recipe, all-grain, via Shut Up About Barclay Perkins)

OG: 1.047
FG: 1.010
ABV: 4.7%
IBUs: 75
SRM: 6.2

Shop Steam Freak Kits4.8 lbs. English pale malt
2 lbs. American six-row malt
1.78 lbs. light brown sugar
2.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :90 (12.75 AAUs)
1.25 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :20 (6.375 AAUs)
Wyeast 1099: Whitbread Ale Yeast or Safale S-04

All-Grain Directions: 
Mash the crushed grains in about 1.5 gallons of clean, chlorine-free water for two hours. Lauter and sparge, collecting about 6.5 gallons of wort in the brew kettle. Bring to a boil and boil for 90 minutes, adding hops according to schedule. Mix in the brown sugar at the end of the boil. Chill wort to fermentation temperature and ferment at 70˚F until complete. Bottle or keg and enjoy!

Partial-Mash Directions: Replace the English pale malt with 3.1 lbs. light dry malt extract. Mash the crushed six-row malt in 2 qts. of water, then sparge. Add enough water to make a 3-gallon boil and mix in the malt extract. Bring to a boil. Increase the 90-minute hop addition to 3.5 oz. and the 20-minute hop addition to 1.5 oz. Continue with the recipe above.

Do you have a IPA session beer recipe you’d like to share? Just post it in the comments section below.

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.

Extract vs. Partial Mash Brewing: What’s the Difference?

Checking Mash TemperatureBeginning homebrewers have some options when learning to brew – quite of few of them actually. But one of the main decisions is whether to start with extract brewing, partial mash, or all-grain. Because all-grain is typically for more seasoned brewers, most beginners start with either extract or partial mash brewing. In this post, I’ll lay out some of the key differences between the two kinds of homebrewing.


First, some basics…

When looking at the difference between extract, partial mash, and all-grain, the main difference lies in the source of fermentable sugars. All-grain brewers (and the pros) extract everything they need from malted grains through a process called mashing. It requires strict attention to parameters like temperature, pH, and water chemistry – something that can be a little overwhelming if you’re just cutting your teeth on homebrewing.

Luckily for beginners, there’s a way around all this work. It’s called malt extract. Basically, professional brewers have already done the mash, then taken the resulting liquid (wort) and condensed it into either a liquid syrup or a spray-dried powder. These two types of malt extract are referred to as liquid malt extract (LME) and dried malt extract (DME). There are a few different flavors to choose from, so extract offers plenty of options for beginners.


Extract Brewing vs. Partial Mash Brewing

Both techniques use malt extract to supply a majority of the fermentable sugars, but the key difference between the two brewing methods is in the use of malted grains. The main difference is that extract brewing gets nearly all of its fermentable sugars from extract, whereas for partial mash, the brewer will do a mini-mash – the same procedures as an all-grain brewer, but on a much smaller scale – and then supplement with malt extract. For a five-gallon batch, the mini-mash may be just be a pound or two of grain, compared to ten pounds or more for all-grain.

Extract sometimes (but not always) will use a small amount of specialty grains in a beer recipe. These are steeped, like a tea, to extract color and flavor from the grains, but the contribution of fermentable sugar is negligible.

With partial mash, on the other hand, the brewer actually performs a mash. That means mixing both base malt and specialty grains with water with the purpose of extracting fermentable sugar from the malt. The brewer stills gets a good amount of sugars from malt extract, but he/she is also trying to extract sugars from the grains. To do this, the brewer needs a few additional tools: a thermometer, a method for checking pH, gypsum, and chalk. To learn more about partial mash, read these step-by-step instructions.


Shop Steam Freak KitsBenefits of Extract Brewing

  • Fewer grains – easier cleanup
  • Shorter brew day
  • Focus on the overall brewing process instead of getting bogged down by mashing
  • Lots of recipe kits to choose from


Benefits of Partial Mash Brewing

  • Learn more about brewing the way all-grain brewers do it
  • The mash allows the brewer to use a wider range of different malts and grains, giving them more flexibility for recipe development and adaptation
  • There are also lots of partial mash recipe kits to choose from


Whether you decide to start out with extract or partial mash brewing is entirely up to you – there’s no right or wrong way to do it, and there’s no reason you can’t switch back and forth from batch to batch. Whatever you do, make sure you’re having fun and the rest will take care of itself!
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

Beers for People Who Don’t Like IPAs

Malty BeerDespite the fact that IPAs are the best-selling craft beer in the US these days, not everyone is into hoppy beer. Some would prefer a malty beer style. In many cases, people who are new to craft beer may prefer to start with something more approachable before moving on to things like Heady Topper. Heck, I like IPAs and sometimes I’m just in the mood for something different.

One of the reasons people homebrew is so they can drink beers they can’t get at the store. With so many IPAs on the shelves, it’s nice to brew a malty beer or … to mix things up.

If for whatever reason you’re not into IPAs – you don’t like the bitterness, or you’re just ready for a change – consider one of these malty beer styles for your next homebrew:

The Malt Bomb
Well, the opposite of a hop bomb is a malt bomb. These beers feature – you guessed it – malt as the main flavor ingredients. You could try a caramel-rich Irish Red Ale, a bready, toasty German Bock, or a clone of Sierra Nevada and Ninkasi’s Double Latte Coffee Stout.

Belgian Ale
Belgian beers offers a level of complexity you don’t always get from IPAs, mainly due to the use of Belgian ale yeast. If you’re into dry, complex white wines, you might like to try a Hennepin Clone or an Abbey Single. This rich and fruity Rochefort 8 clone is a near perfect copy of one of the most highly regarded beers in the world.

Wheat Beer
This is not necessarily a malty beer style, but the effect is the same. Wheat tends to give beer a sweet, bready flavor and a smooth mouthfeel. On a hot day they sure go down easy! In my mind, Paulaner Hefeweizen is the quintessential German wheat beer. You could also try an American wheat or a Blue Moon clone if you’d like something more citrusy.

Fruit Beer Shop Steam Freak Kits
Adding fruit is a great way to bring some complexity to beer, and may be just the thing a new craft beer enthusiast needs in order to make the jump. Try the chocolate-berry combination of a Blackberry Porter, the tropical fruit flavors of a Hibiscus Mango Blonde Ale, or the tartness of a Cranberry “Lambic”.

Lawnmower Beer 
If you’re looking for something a step or two above macro lager, consider brewing your own American Cream Ale or Honey Blonde Ale. If tailgate quaffability is what you’re after, try brewing this Buddy Light Clone.

Drink up and brew a malty beer style! As they say, variety is the spice of life!

What’s your favorite malty beer style?
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.