Barrel-Aging Your Homebrew – Without a Barrel!

Barrel-Aged BeerAs with wine, beer will often benefit from barrel-aging. Depending on the type of wood used to make the barrel and whether the barrel was previously used or not, barrel-aging homebrew offers an additional realm of complexity, with flavors ranging from oak, vanilla, and toast, not to mention the characteristics of the wine or spirits that previously occupied the barrel.

Though homebrewers can certainly obtain barrels for aging their beer, an easier and more cost effective method is to let the beer age on wood chips. Oak is the wood of choice, and brewers can get French or American white oak, each of which offer a slightly different flavor profile. Additionally, these oak chips may be toasted, which will lend the beer notes of coconut or vanilla. Plain, or non-toasted oak offers more of a “raw” wood flavor. The oak should be sap clear. This is typically done by allowing it to sun-dry for 18 months to 3 years.


So what types of beers work best for oak-aging?

Generally, the best beers for oak-aging are more robust beer styles. Imperial and barleywines are good choices, as the higher gravity lends itself to longer aging. The intensity of the flavor in more robust beers can also more easily stand up to the oak flavor without getting covered up. Some of these stronger styles may be aged for months before developing the appropriate balance. That’s not to say I haven’t had great oak-aged saisons and IPAs. It can be done, but achieving the right balance is a more delicate operation.

To avoid over-oaking your homebrew, you might try one of two different strategies:

  • Option 1: Add 1-2 ounces of oak chips to your beer in the secondary fermenter. Taste the beer periodically, every week or so, and rack the beer off the oak chips when the taste is to your liking.
  • Option 2: Remove 1 gallon of beer by racking it into a 1-gallon glass jug with 2-4 ounces of oak chips. This will result in strongly oaked beer, which can then be blended back into the main batch at the ratio that tastes good to you.


What about mixing in wine or spirits when barrel-aging homebrew?shop_toasted_oak_chips

If you’re into craft beer, you’ve probably come across beer aged in all kinds of different barrels: red wine, white wine, bourbon, tequila, brandy. If you’d like to add the flavor of a wine or spirit to your wood-aged beer, simply soak the oak chips in about a cup of your wine or spirit of choice for a week or more. Then strain out the oak chips and place them in your secondary fermenter. If desired, you can blend in some of the reserved wine or spirit to taste. The best way to do this is to pull out a small sample of beer and then dosing it with small amounts of the wine or spirit. Then you can calculate how much to blend back in to the larger batch. Err on the side of caution – you can always add more, but you can’t take it out.

Barrel-aging homebrew – with or without wine and spirits – introduces a new skill set to the brewer’s palette: tasting and blending. Barrel-aging may be more of an art than a science, so for best results, taste your beer as it ages on the oak and if needed, blend together multiple oaked and un-oaked batches to get the flavor your want.

Do you barrel-age your homebrew? What are some of your favorite beer styles for barrel-aging?
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.

5 Beer Recipes for Brewing This Fall

A Flight Of Fall BeersIt’s time to start thinking ahead to what you might want to drink and share with your friends this fall. Are you a fan of pumpkin beer? Oktoberfest? Consider these suggestions as you’re figuring out fall beer recipes are going to be on your homebrewing calendar!

  • Oktoberfest – Oktoberfest traditionally kicks off at the end of September, though the beer may be consumed throughout the following months. Oktoberfestbier is a lager, meaning you’ll have to start brewing it several weeks ahead of when you plan to drink it. Be sure to use plenty of Vienna and/or Munich malt if you brew all-grain or choose a German Oktoberfest Recipe Kit if you brew extract or partial mash. Ferment the beer cold using a Bavarian Lager Yeast for best results.
  • Pumpkin Ale – With a flavor like pumpkin pie, pumpkin ale seems to be more and more popular every year. Brew a pumpkin ale recipe now and plan to enjoy it from Halloween through Thanksgiving. You can use fresh pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, which will actually contribute fermentable sugar to your homebrew. Consider increasing the grain bill to make an imperial pumpkin ale, like Weyerbacher’s.
  • Hard Apple Cider – Nothing says fall quite like fresh apples. If you live in an area that grows apples, keep an eye out at the farmers market for cider apples or fresh pressed, unpasteurized apple juice. Follow this recipe for a basic cider, but consider adding some herbs or spices to mix it up. Ginger is a flavorful choice.
  • Shop Beer Recipe KitsAmerican Amber Ale – With a maltier backbone than a pale ale or IPA , a good amber ale is a fantastic choice for a fall beer recipe. It provides a nice transition into the colder months that favor darker, heavier beers. Amber Ales can be either hoppy or malt forward – the balance is up to you. Consider brewing the Steam Freak Fat Liar Recipe Kit – it’s a clone of New Belgium’s Fat Tire, a malty, biscuity ale with just a hint of Belgian malt for a balanced, nutty flavor and full-bodied mouthfeel.
  • Fresh Hop AleAmerican hop growers harvest their hops in the late summer and early fall. If you have any growers in your area – or if you grew some hops yourself – try to get your hands on some hops straight from the field. Use them towards the end of the boil to maximize the flavor and aroma you get from those fresh-picked hops. Because fresh or “wet” hops weigh more, you’ll need six to eight times as much as you would using dried hops in pellet form. Try using your wet hops to dry hop a pale ale, IPA, or Black IPA this fall.

Do you have a favorite fall beer recipes? What are some of your favorite fall beers?
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.

Bohemian-style Pilsner Beer Recipe (Extract)

Pilsner Beer In GlassBohemian-style pilsner is one of those beers that works in nearly every situation. It’s refreshing, easy-drinking, and pairs well with a variety of different foods. That’s why I’d thought I’d share this simple, but prize-winning, pilsner beer recipe.

Pilsner was developed in the area formerly known as Czechoslovakia, in a place called Plzen. Plzen, incidentally, is home to Pilsner Urquell, one of the most iconic pilsner breweries, founded in 1842. Pilsner Urquell was the original pilsner lager, a style that spread all over the world and is probably the most consumed style of beer in the world (though the American pilsners are quite different than Czech).

Characterized by a pale yellow color, Bohemian-style pilsners feature a pilsner malt flavor with a pronounced hop bitterness. At 35-45 IBUs, it’s about as bitter as an American pale ale, however, unlike the pale ale, Bohemian pilsners have low to medium hop flavor and no fruity esters in the aroma. And instead of the citrus/pine hop flavors we see so often with American hops, the Bohemian-style pilsner beer recipe tends to exhibit the qualities of the noble hops: spicy, earthy, and herbal.

As a lager, it’s important that Bohemian Pilsner be fermented at lager temperatures, usually around 45°-55° F. This means you will have to get a handle on controlling your fermentation temperatures.

The beer recipe below comes from Marty Nachel’s Homebrewing for Dummies. It won 1st Place at the AHA Nationals.


Yellow Dogs Pilsner Beer Recipes (Extract)
(five-gallon recipe)

OG: 1.050
FG: 1.013
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 39
SRM: 6

Shop Steam Freak Kits6 lbs. light liquid malt extract
1 lb. amber dry malt extract
1 oz. Chinook hops at :60 (11.5 AAUs)
1 oz. Saaz hops at :15
1.5 tsp. Irish moss at :15
1 oz. Saaz hops at :5
1 packet Safale US-05

To make this Pilsner beer recipe you will need heat 2.5 gallons of clean, chlorine-free water to about 150°F. Remove the kettle from the heat source and thoroughly mix in the malt extract. Bring wort to a boil, then add hops according to schedule. At the end of the 60-minute boil, chill wort using an immersion wort chiller or ice bath. Transfer wort into a sanitized fermenting bucket containing about 2.5 gallons of pre-chilled, distilled water. Top off with enough water to make 5 gallons. Stir well and aerate.

Rehydrate the lager yeast in warm water before pitching. Gradually add small amounts of cooled wort to your yeast mixture until the yeast is within 10-15 degrees of the wort. Pitch yeast and ferment at 54˚F for two weeks, then transfer to secondary. Drop the fermentation temperature about 10 degrees over 5 days and lager for 2-3 months. After the lagering phase, bottle or keg as usual.

Do you think this Bohemian-style pilsner beer recipe would be something you’d like? Interested in more tasty lager recipes? Check out these 3 Homebrew Lager Clones.
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.

When (And When NOT) To Be Paranoid About Home Brewing Sanitation

Man going overboard on home brewing sanitation.You’ve heard it again and again – cleaning and sanitation are two of the most important aspects of homebrewing. It’s true – lax cleaning and sanitation can easily spoil a batch of homebrew – but there are some things about beer and brewing that inherently prevent spoilage. Knowing what they are can save some time and headache.

Now this advice may go against conventional wisdom, but in an effort to save you some stress, here’s a breakdown of when – and when not – to be overly concerned about home brewing sanitation.


When to Be Paranoid About Home Brewing Sanitation

  • Yeast handling – Anytime you’re handling yeast is a good time to be concerned about sanitation. In fact, it’s when you should be most paranoid about sanitation. That said, by pitching a large number of yeast cells into a wort, that yeast will likely outcompete any other microorganisms – but there’s no sense in giving those spoiling microbes a leg up. Whenever you’re harvesting yeast or preparing a yeast starter, go the extra mile to make sure that anything that might come in contact with the yeast has been thorough cleaned and sanitized.
  • Post boil, post chill – One of the reasons we boil wort is to sanitize it. Maintaining a high temperature effectively sanitizes the wort, giving the beer yeast a clean slate for it to ferment. But once the temperature of the wort drops, it becomes susceptible to wild yeast and bacteria. After the wort has been chilled, everything it touches needs to be thoroughly sanitized: fermenters, airlocks, racking tubing, thermometers, hydrometers. This is why it’s not recommended to return wort used for hydrometer reading back to the main batch.
  • Bottling – To continue from the previous point, you don’t want to go through all the hard work of brewing a batch of beer just to put it in a dirty bottle. Make sure all the bottles are extra clean and don’t forget to check the spigot of the bottling bucket.


When NOT to Be Paranoid About Home Brewing Sanitation

  • During a normal mash – Clean the mash tun, yes, but you don’t really need to sanitize it. That said, a mash that’s left alone for a long time can go sour. In fact, some brewers use what’s called a sour mash in brewing sour beer. But a normal, 60-90 minute mash will not have enough time to spoil. Of course, it might be a good idea to clean and sanitize your mash tun after the mash to prevent mold growth.
  • When boiling – There’s really no need to sanitize your brew kettle. The high temperature of the boil will be more than sufficient for sanitizing.Shop Sanitizers
  • When using an immersion wort chiller – There’s no need to sanitize your immersion wort chiller. Make sure it’s clean, yes, but placing it in nearly boiling wort will be plenty hot for sanitizing. Just make sure you clean it well afterwards.
  • After fermentation – Once your beer has made it through fermentation, you’re not exactly out of the woods, but your beer is in a much safer place than it was before fermentation. For one, the alcohol content in the beer will protect it from spoilage organisms to some degree. Also, the lower acidity of the beer will inhibit wild bacteria. Plus, the hops have a preservative effect as well. So when checking final gravity readings, for example, it’s still a good idea to clean and sanitize your gear, but don’t stress about sanitation – you’re almost in the clear!
  • When dry hopping – One of the most common stress points is when adding dry hops. Shouldn’t they be sanitized before throwing them in the beer? Some brewers do this, but it’s not really necessary. The hops have naturally preservative properties, and as long as they’ve been stored properly, there’s little to know chance that they’ll contaminate your beer.


This isn’t a license to throw good cleaning and sanitation habits out the window. You’re certainly better off going overboard than missing a spot and spoiling a batch. But in terms of being paranoid about sanitizing, simply make sure your yeast are the only ones fermenting your beer. That’s what home brewing sanitation is all about. Then all you have to do is relax, don’t worry, and have a 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.

Homebrewing: So Easy a Kid Could Do It

Child Proving How Simping Homebrewing Is.I’ll be the first to admit that I like to get technical here on the homebrew blog. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I enjoy being able to control every aspect of the homebrew process. But homebrewing does not have to be a complicated science. Parts of it, in fact, are so easy a kid could do it!

Not that we’d actually advocate kids making beer without adult supervision (there are some safety factors that have to be addressed), but homebrewing in a basic sense is a very simple process:

  1. Fill a pot with hot water
  2. Mix in malt extract
  3. Boil with hops
  4. Allow to cool and add yeast

Would your kid be able to handle those four steps? Then an adult should certainly be able to, right?! These 4 steps illustrate how simple homebrewing can be if you let it.


Why Homebrew?

People make beer at home for many different reasons. Some enjoy the challenge of learning a new skill. Some enjoy the creative experience of developing a recipe and making something with your hands. Other find that it’s a good way to become more self-sufficient.

Whatever got you interested in homebrewing, here’s my advice: just try it! Jump in and see if the hobby is for you. Imagine the feeling you get when you share your homebrew with friends, their faces light up and they ask, “you made this?”


How to Start Simple Homebrewing

To get started with homebrewing, all it takes is an equipment kit and beer recipe kit. Both are included in our Steam Freak Beermaking Starter Kit. You can choose any recipe from the Steam Freak lineup of recipe kits, whether it’s a brown ale, a stout, an IPA, or any of the other 20+ kits. Each beer recipe kit comes with clear, easy to read, step-by-step instructions that will guide you through brewing your first batch.

shop_home_brew_starter_kitAfter brewing your first batch or two, there are several resources that can help you make your homemade beer even better. Previously on the E. C. Kraus Homebrewing Blog, we’ve listed 10 Homebrewing Tips for the Beginner and the 10 Best Homebrewing Resources. Be sure to download our free homebrewing ebook and follow E. C. Kraus on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter for all the latest updates from the homebrewing blog. All these resources will help to keep it a simple homebrewing adventure.


Stepping Up Your Homebrewing Skills

Once you’ve got the basics under your belt, there are many ways to continue your exploration of homebrewing. If you’re a hop head, you might be interested in experimenting with different hop varieties. Or you might want to learn how to make mead. Many homebrewers enjoy taking their tasting skills to a new level by becoming a beer judge.

Whatever path you take, it will surely be an adventure!

So, what’s holding you back from starting out with some simple homebrewing? Share in the comments below!


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.

Midas Touch: Is It Beer, Wine, or Mead? How About All 3!

Dogfish Head Midas Touch Clone Beer RecipeIf you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re talking about Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch. First a little back-story on how this beer came into being:

Maybe it’s human nature, but for some reason we always seem to have a way of trying to put things into neat little categories. Is it a West Coast IPA or an East Coast IPA? A Belgian ale or a Belgian-style ale? Is it craft beer or crafty beer?

We even try to establish clear definitions of beer itself. What is beer? Is it limited to just water, barley, hops, and yeast, in accordance to the German Reinheitsgebot? Or are other ingredients permitted, like wheat and rice? What about beers with no malt or no hops at all?

This obsession with categorizing beer could be a modern affliction. When we look at ancient recipes, the lines between beer, wine, and mead were often quite blurry.

That’s exactly what was discovered when archeologists uncovered the remains of over 150 vessels in what could be the tomb of the fabled King Midas – who actually ruled in Turkey some 2700 years ago. Biomolecular archaeologist Patrick McGovern, who specializes in ancient ales and wines, discovered through rigorous testing of the vessels that the beverage they once contained was actually a combination of beer, wine, and mead. He was able to isolate specific compounds that indicated that barley, grapes, and honey were all likely combined into a single beverage.

Like any good biomolecular archeological zymologist, McGovern set about to recreate this ancient beverage. He solicited the help of a number of craft brewers to develop the recipe, ultimately choosing Sam Calagione’s recipe as the best. This beer was eventually released by Dogfish Head as Midas Touch, and has since won a number of awards at major beer competitions.

The staff at Brew Your Own Magazine were generous to share a clone recipe in the November 2002 issue. Enjoy the recipe below for a taste of ancient ale!


Dogfish Head Midas Touch Clone (via BYO Magazine)
(5-gallon batch, extract)

OG: 1.078
FG: 1.010
IBUs: 10
ABV: 9%

3.3 lbs. Briess light LME
1.5 lbs. Briess light DME
3 lbs. honey
Shop Steam Freak Beer Recipe Kits2 lbs. SunCal Johannesberg Riesling grape concentrate
0.5 oz. Willamette hops (5% AA) at :60
1 tsp. Irish moss at :60
0.5 oz. Willamette hops (5% AA) at :15
1/2 teaspoon dry saffron at :15
Wyeast 3787: Trappist High Gravity ale yeast
3/4 cup priming sugar

Directions: At least 24 hours prior to brewing, prepare a yeast starter. On brew day, heat 2.5 gallons of clean, chlorine-free water and mix in the malt extract. Bring to a boil, and add the bittering hops and the Irish moss and boil for one hour. In the last 15 minutes of the boil, at the flavoring hops and the saffron. At the end of the boil, mix in the honey and let stand for 5 minutes. Chill wort and strain into a fermenter with about two gallons of clean, pre-boiled, pre-chilled water. Use a sanitizer stirring spoon to mix in the grape concentrate, then top off to 5.5 gallons. Aerate the wort, pitch yeast, and ferment at 68-70˚F until complete. Bottle or keg and allow the beer to condition for 3-4 weeks.

Do you have a Dogfish Head Midas Touch Clone Beer Recipe? Looking for more Dogfish Head clone recipes? Check out this Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA Clone!


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.

6 Tips For Making Your Beer Sweeter

3 Sweeter Craft BeersThough in some instances you might appreciate a dry beer, it’s nice to mix things up once in a while and have a sweeter beer on hand. Or, when trying to dial in a beer recipe, you may find yourself wanting to increase the sweetness of the beer in order to balance out the bitterness of the hops. But you can’t just add simple sugar to a beer to make it sweet – the yeast will just consume the sugar and turn it into alcohol. So what are some ways that homebrewers can make their beer sweeter?


6 Tips for Making Your Beer Sweeter

  1. Mash at a higher temperature – For all-grain and partial mash homebrewers, it’s possible to control beer sweetness by adjusting the mash temperature. Generally, mashes at the lower range of the acceptable range (144-148˚F) allow the enzymes to break up more of the starches into fermentable sugars, making them easier for the yeast to consume, thereby resulting in a drier beer. Conversely, a mash at the higher end of the range (152-160˚F) does not break up as many of the starches, so those sugar chains are harder for the yeast to consume and they remain in the finished beer. Mashing high also increases body and head retention.
  1. Use more caramel malt – Caramel malts are excellent for making beer sweeter. Caramel 20L and 40L offer a malty/caramel/toffee character, whereas darker caramel malts bring in flavors of raisins and burnt sugar. Caramel malts should be used sparingly to avoid over-sweetening the beer. Usually 1-2 lbs. at the most is sufficient.
  1. Boil longer – A longer boil promotes the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction often confused with caramelization. Though the Maillard reaction will primarily promote color formation and bready, toasty flavors, an especially intense boil can produce some sweeter caramel flavors.
  1. Add unfermentable sugar – Unfermentable sugars can also be used for making your beer sweeter. Lactose sugar is one of the most popular, and it’s a key ingredient in milk stout. Use up to a pound for a milky smooth stout, or in smaller amounts to lend your beer a little extra sweetness.
  1. Use calcium chloride Shop Barley Grains– For all-grain brewers working with soft water, increasing the amount of chloride in brewing water can enhance the maltiness of a beer. As an experiment, try mixing a solution of calcium chloride in water and using a dropper to dose small amounts into a finished beer. This will give you an indication of how it affect beer flavor and mouthfeel.
  1. Use a less attenuative yeast strain – In brewing, attenuation is the degree to which yeast convert sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. A highly attenuative yeast strain will consume a large proportion of available sugar, whereas a less attenuative strain will leave some sugars in the beer. Examples of less attenuative yeast strains include many of the English strains, for example Wyeast 1084: Irish Ale, Wyeast 1099: Whitbread Ale, Wyeast 1187: Ringwood Ale, and Wyeast 1968: London ESB. That said, remember that yeast selection is only one factor that affects attenuation. Yeast health, pitch rate, mash characteristics, and fermentation temperature all come into play.


Do you have any tips for making a beer sweeter? Have you tried any of the above methods?

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.

Homebrew Hacks: Maximizing Brew Kettle Output With High-Gravity Brewing

Man Pouring Wort Into PaleSooner or later we all reach the limit on our brewing equipment. When it comes to brew kettles, standard procedure is to start with a 5-gallon kettle for partial mash brewing, then eventually upgrade to an 8-, 10-, or 15-gallon kettle in order to advance to all-grain brewing and brew bigger batches.

But brew kettles can be a big investment. To bridge the gap between your current kettle and the next size up, you can utilize high gravity brewing to brew more beer with less space. In other words, you can brew 15 gallons of beer with your 10-gallon kettle. This will allow you to maximize your brew kettle output before moving to a larger size kettle.

So how does this work?

Think about your typical 5-gallon, partial mash recipe kit. Usually what we do is mix the ingredients into a 3- or 4-gallon boil, then add water (preferably clean, chlorine-free water) to the fermenter to bring up the volume to five gallons. This can also be done with your own homebrew recipes and on a larger scale.


Scaling the Beer Recipe to Maximize Brew Kettle Output

Scaling the grain and/extract side of the recipe is pretty straightforward. As a homebrewer, all you need to do is increase the malts and malt extracts in proportion to the batch size. Say for example the five-gallon recipe you usually make in your 7.5-gallon kettle uses 6.6 lbs. of malt extract. To brew a ten-gallon batch, still use the same amount of water for the boil, but double the malt extract. After diluting in the fermenter, your original gravity should be pretty close to what it is when you brew the five-gallon batch. (Things are a little more complicated when brewing all-grain, but the same principles apply.)

The tricky part with scaling recipes into high gravity versions is controlling hop bitterness. IBUs are directly influenced by hop utilization, which is a factor of boil gravity and boil time. The higher the gravity of the boil, the lower the hop utilization. To compensate for the lower hop utilization, we need to do more than double the hops to arrive at the same IBUs.

Shop Brew KettlesTo figure out how much hops to use, work backwards. Say we want the finished beer to have 40 IBUs. We’re planning to brew five gallons of a 1.080 beer, which will be 1.040 after diluting with five gallons of water. That means the IBUs of the brew pre-dilution should be 80. As an example, it may only take 1.5 oz. of hops to reach 40 IBUs when doing a full-volume boil, but it will take 4.3 oz. of the same hops added at the same time to impart the same amount of bitterness in the higher gravity brew. These calculations can be tricky – use an IBU calculator to help you sort it out. In some cases you may want to add half the malt extract at the end of the boil (a late addition) in order to maximize hop utilization.


Limitations of High Gravity Brewing

To simplify the calculations above, I’ve used a 1:1 ration for dilution (one gallon dilution water for every gallon of wort). In reality, this is about the upper extreme of how much you’d want to dilute a homebrew. Diluting a high gravity boil can certainly be effective, but you want to avoid creating a beer that tastes watered down. Diluting before fermentation will help to avoid this.

Have you every tried brewing high-gravity beers to maximize your brew kettle output? How did it go?

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.

Oak Aged Imperial IPA: No Barrel Needed!

Imperial IPA made from a homebrew beer recipeWe Americans tend to like everything bigger and better – even our beer. For those of us who enjoy big hop bombs, a regular India Pale Ale doesn’t always cut it. Let’s take it to the next level with an IMPERIAL IPA.

Imperial IPAs are sometimes known as Double IPAs. All the word “imperial” or “double” means is that they have more of everything: more hops, more malt, and more alcohol. The color remains in the light amber to copper color range. Malt flavor should be present, but hops are the main event, usually American hop varieties. Most Imperial IPA beer recipes will have a substantial amount of late addition flavor and aroma hops, often with a decent to aggressive amount of dry hops for even more hop aroma. Alcohol content typically ranges from about 7.5-10% ABV.

The Imperial IPA beer recipe below goes one step further by incorporating oak flavor. In no way should the oak dominate the flavor of the beer. It should just be a subtle note that supports all of the other flavor elements.

Continue reading

6 Ways to Recharge Your Homebrewing Mojo

Homebrewer With Mojo2I get it – we all get bogged down by the rhythms of modern life. Sometimes, it’s hard to make time for homebrewing, and before long, it’s been months since your last brew day.

That’s when you remember, “but I love brewing!” and ask yourself, “how do I get back into it?” Well, here are six ideas to get back into the swing of homebrewing:


  1. Brew your favorite beer – What’s the best beer you’ve ever tasted? How would you like to have five gallons of that beer on hand? Whether it’s a commercial beer or a homebrew, chances are you can make a clone. Create your own clone recipe or choose from some of these awesome clone recipes or clone recipe homebrew kits.
  1. Make it social – Brewing’s more fun with others. Invite some homebrewers you know over for a brew day, or maybe introduce one of your friends to the hobby. Make a party of it. Serve some food, some beer, watch the big game. More hands on deck means less work and more fun.
  1. Go to an AHA Rally – The American Homebrewers AssociationShop Steam Freak Kits has been hosting homebrew rallies at craft breweries all over the country. Take a little road trip, try some homebrews, make some friends. Want to take it a step further? Go to the National Homebrewers Conference.
  1. Try something different – If you’ve been stuck in a homebrewing rut, maybe it’s time to mix things up. If you’re an extract brewer, maybe it’s time to give all-grain a try. Or maybe experiment with brewing a lager, mead, sour beer – maybe even give winemaking a try. Try something different and you may revive that curiosity that got you into homebrewing in the first place.
  1. Get a new toy – Nothing inspires quite like a new homebrewing gadget. Maybe it’s time you got yourself a propane burner, a stir plate, or a pH meter.
  1. Enter a competition – Sometimes, the best motivation is a deadline. Search for homebrew competitions in your area and sign up. Plan out how much time you’ll need to brew, ferment, and age the beer before sending it in. Read these tips for succeeding in homebrew competitions and put that brew date on the calendar!

Shop Temp Controller

Have you ever found yourself in a homebrew funk? What did you do to get out of it?

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.