Making Hop Substitutions

Substituting Hops During BoilWhen following a beer recipe, we often find ourselves with hops that don’t quite match up with what the recipe calls for. Either the alpha acid percentage is off, or we can’t get our hands on the right variety of hops – requiring us to make a hop substitution of sorts. So what do we do?

Well, the easiest thing would be to just throw in whatever hops you’ve got and hope for the best, but there are a couple easy ways to make sure that we at least get close to the original beer recipe when substituting.

 

Substituting Hop Additions for Alpha Acid Content

Since hops are a plant dependent on a number of factors (weather, soil fertility, amount of sunlight, etc.) alpha acid content can change from season to season and from crop to crop. If your beer recipe calls for two ounces of Cascade hops with an alpha acid percentage of 6%, but your Cascades are 8%, how do you adjust the hop addition to make sure you get the same number of IBUs?

An easy solution is to calculate for homebrewing bitterness units (HBUs) or alpha acid units (AAUs):

2 (ounces of hops) * 6 (alpha acid percentage) = 12 HBUs/AAUs

Then just solve for the amount of the hops on hand needed to get the same number of HBUs/AAUs:

X (ounces of hops) * 8 (alpha acid percentage) = 12 HBUs/AAUs

X = 1.5Shop Hops

Substitute 1.5 ounces of your Cascade hops for the 2 ounces called for in the beer recipe, adding the hops to the kettle at the same time as originally called for. (Note: HBUs and AAUs are not the same as IBUs, but they will help to make sure the IBUs of your beer are close to what was intended in the recipe.)

Calculating a hop substitution based on HBU’s is easy enough, right? But what if you don’t have the variety of hops that your homebrew recipe calls for?

 

Making Hop Substitutions for Variety

If you can’t get your hands on the variety of hops that are called for in the recipe, it just takes a little research to figure out a good possible hop substitution. The HopUnion listing of hop varieties offers suggested hop variety substitutions for most, if not all of the hops on the market.

Shop Accurate ScalesYou can also consult a hop acid chart to find hops with similar qualities. The top half of the chart is for flavor and aroma oils, whereas the bottom shows the typical alpha acid content, which affects bitterness. As you can see, Columbus, Chinook, and Northern Brewer are similar in the flavor and aroma department, but they differ when it comes to alpha acid content. To maintain IBUs, you can use the HBU/AAU calculation method above.

 

Conclusion

Homebrewing isn’t a perfect science – far from it. But with some research, good technique such as hop substitutions, and some tricks up your sleeve, you can brew consistently good beer batch after batch.
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

The Pros And Cons Of Small Batch Brewing

Small Batch BrewingFor many homebrewers small batch brewing is a reasonable option for them. It doesn’t always make sense to brew a five or ten gallon batch of beer every time. Many of us are confined to small apartment kitchens, taking over what space we have to craft our home made beers. Others among us are like mad scientists, always brewing with some strange ingredient found in an international market or picked from the garden. You may not want to end up with five gallons of an experiment gone wrong.

Enter: small batch brewing. Commercial craft breweries are often renowned for their small batch beers, brewed seasonally and released in limited quantities. Whether you’re brewing small batch beers at home for logistic, experimental, or economical reasons, there are some benefits – and drawbacks – that should be considered:

 

The Pros of Small Batch Brewing

  • Easy to scale – Scaling homebrew recipes is easy. To turn a five-gallon recipe into a 2.5-gallon batch, just divide all of the ingredients by half. All the brewing procedures should be more or less the same. The only ingredient that doesn’t need to be cut is the beer yeast. Any batch less than 5 gallons, still use 5 gallons worth of yeast. (Consider purchasing a small digital scale for dividing hops and grains.)
  • Practice techniques and procedures – First-time brewers and those practicing a new technique may have an easier time with a smaller batch. For example, a mini-mash, or partial-mash, is a great way for extract brewers to learn about mash procedures. Maybe use small batch brewing to step up to a 2.5-gallon all-grain batch before doing five or ten gallons.Shop Accurate Scales
  • Experiment with less risk – Brewing with an unusual herb, spice, or fruit? Before you know how the beer will turn out, it may make sense to brew a 1-2 gallon batch for starters. Or, if you want to experiment with different flavorings in the fermenter, you could brew one batch of the base beer, then divide it among several smaller fermenters, with varying quantities of the experimental ingredient in each one. (One-gallon glass jugs are perfect for this.)
  • Smaller investment – If funds are tight, small batch brewing can let you brew for less money. Not only is the upfront cost for homebrewing ingredients lower, but you can still make some beer and put off the brew kettle upgrade for a later date.

 

The Cons of Small Batch Brewing

There’s really just one main drawback to small batch brewing: For roughly the same time commitment, you end up with less beer. Things like bottling and heating up water may be a bit faster, but the overall process will take about the same amount of time as brewing a larger batch. But we all love to brew, so who really minds brewing more often?Shop Beer Flavorings

In my home brewery (i.e., kitchen), I like to alternate between small and big batches. When experimenting, I’ll brew a two or three gallon batch, but I’ll still brew enough five-gallon batches to keep my favorite beers on hand.

Do you know of any other pros and cons to small batch brewing? Have you ever tried small batch brewing? Do you have an idea that might need a test batch of beer first?
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He is a graduate of the Oskar Blues Brew School in Brevard, NC and founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Tips For Bottling Homebrew Beer

Homebrew Beer In Beer BottlesBottling homebrew beer isn’t always an easy process. If you’ve already bottled a few batches, then you already know what I’m talking about. Filling some 50 bottles of beer can be time-consuming and frustrating for the average homebrewer. But it doesn’t have to be!

One of the great things about homebrewing is that it is a totally modifiable hobby. There’s no single “right” way to do it. All it takes is a little creativity to make things work for you.

Here’s some tips for bottling homebrew beer that will save time and effort on bottling day:

 

Challenge #1: Cleaning & Sanitizing

No one enjoys scrubbing 50 beer bottles by hand. Luckily, this is a part of the bottling process that can be largely automated.

Advice for cleaning and sanitizing beer bottles:

  • Rinse first. After drinking a beer, rinse out the bottle with a few quick bursts from the kitchen faucet. This will make sure there isn’t any nasty gunk inside the bottle that has to be scrubbed out on beer bottling day. Stubborn deposits inside the bottle? The Bottle and Carboy Washer will blast them away. Consider draining your beer bottles on a Bottle Tree so you don’t have to worry about standing water inside the bottle.
  • Sanitize in dishwasher. This is one of the beer bottling tips that will save you a lot of time. It isn’t a good way to clean beer bottles, but if you’ve already rinsed them, it makes sanitizing pretty easy. The dishwasher jets won’t likely reach into the bottom of every bottle, but the steam and the heat will kill most of the wild yeast and bacteria that may be lurking inside the bottles. Just plan ahead and place your clean bottles in the dishwasher and get the sanitizing cycle going an hour or so ahead of bottling time.

 

Challenge #2: Removing LabelsShop Bottle Cappers

Probably the most annoying part of bottling homebrew beer is removing the labels, so much so that some homebrewers don’t even bother. But if you submit your beer bottles for competition or want to make sure you don’t look like a total amateur, the labels gotta go.

Tips for removing beer bottle labels:

  • Buy some plain bottles. If you’re willing to spend the money, just get a case of beer bottles from your homebrew shop. For some, the time savings will be worth the expense.
  • Choose your bottles wisely. If you’ve removing labels before, you may have noticed that certain breweries’ labels come off more easily than others. I’ve found that it’s usually the larger craft breweries whose labels come off the easiest. If you need to stock up on bottles for homebrewing, get a case from New Belgium or Sam Adams. Once you’ve made your way through the case (remember to rinse!), just soak the bottles in a solution of Basic A No-Rinse Cleanser and warm water – the labels will come right off.

 

Challenge #3: Tilting the Bottling Bucket

This is a beer bottling tips that will save you a couple of bottles every batch when bottling your homebrew beer. A lot of bottling buckets have the spout a full inch or so above the bottom of the bucket. This helps leave behind sediment that may be in the bucket, but there’s at least a few bottles worth of beer below the spout. This leaves us having to tilt the bucket to get the last several pints. An extra set of hands will make this easier, but it seems to me like an unnecessary waste of energy.Shop Basic A

Solution?

  • Build your own dip tube. I found this tip on Homebrew Talk. Take a rubber stopper that fits into the inside of your bottling spigot and construct a dip tube from a short piece of plastic, stainless steel, or copper. For my setup, a Drilled #2 Rubber Stopper did the trick, and now I don’t have to tip the bucket!

Do you have any tips for bottling homebrew beer you’d like to share? I’m sure that others would love to hear them. Comment below and let us know!
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Yeast Starter For Your Beers: Recipe & Instructions

Clean healthy beer made with a yeast starterUsing a yeast starter when making your beer is simple way to improve your fermentations. Here you will find a yeast starter recipe and instructions for using one to have a healthier, more-thorough homebrew fermentation.

 

What is a beer yeast starter?

A beer yeast starter is a volume of yeast that’s pitched into wort, usually prepared a day or more in advance of brew day. Homebrewers and commercial brewers alike use yeast starters to ensure that there are plenty of healthy yeasts cells to quickly, cleanly, and completely ferment a batch of beer. In other words, a yeast starter provides an opportunity for yeast cells to grow and multiply prior to being pitched into a batch of beer.

Preparing a yeast starter for your beer has several benefits:

  • Improved attenuation, i.e., a more complete fermentation and lower final gravity
  • Shorter lag time, i.e., fermentation starts more quickly
  • Cleaner tasting beer
  • More effectively ferment high gravity beers
  • Proof the yeast, making sure that it is active and viable

Yeast starters are typically only made from liquid yeast cultures. Dry yeast packets, assuming they have been stored properly, should contain enough cells to ferment an average homebrew, but even making a yeast starter with dried yeast will result in some remarkable improved fermentation

Experienced homebrewers recommend a starter containing about 200 billion yeast cells to ferment the typical 5 gallon batch of homebrewed ale, and 400 billion yeast cells to ferment a lager. Since most liquid yeasts contain about 100 billion cells, we need to grow these cultures in order to achieve an optimal fermentation. (Explore this link for more advanced pitching rate calculations.)

 

Beer Yeast Starter Recipe

Yeast starters require very little equipment, most of which you probably already have on hand:

 

Yeast Starter Instructions

Making a yeast starter for beer is an easy way to improve the quality of your homebrew. While lagers and high-gravity beers will require more advanced pitching calculations, these steps will guide you through the basic process of preparing a yeast starter for the typical 5 gallon batch of homebrewed ale:

  1. At least 24 hours prior to brew day, fetch a large glass jug or flask and clean and sanitize thoroughly. Sanitation is extremely important, otherwise your yeast starter may become contaminated!
  1. For an average homebrewed ale, boil 2 liters water to 200 grams (roughly 1.5 cups) light dry malt extract. This is will provide the environment for yeast to feed and multiply.
  1. After a boil of 10-15 minutes, this starter is sterile. Cover with a sanitized lid or bung and chill to pitching temperature.
  1. Pour the cooled wort into a sanitized container through a sanitized funnel.
  1. Shop SanitizersPitch yeast into the starter container. Make sure that both wort and yeast are at an appropriate pitching temperature (and within 10°-15°F of each other), so as not to shock the yeast.
  1. Attach a drilled stopper and air-lock. The yeast starter should begin bubbling within 6-12 hours.
  1. On brew day, pitch the starter directly into your batch of wort.

 

Making a yeast start for your beer is an easy way to improve on your brewing process. Follow the recipe and instructions above see if you can tell a difference.
—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

How To Brew Witbier

Belgian WitbierWitbier, or bière blanche, in French, is a style of wheat beer native to Belgium. Belgian “white” beer is characterized by its light color and cloudy appearance, usually from the use of unmalted wheat or oats. Moderately hopped, Belgians wits are commonly flavored with coriander, bitter orange peel, and possibly other spices as well. Given its light, fragrant, and refreshing qualities, belgian witbiers are perfect for brewing and drinking in warmer weather. (Can you tell I’m excited for summer?!) So, here’s some insights on how to brew Witbier.

Though once popular throughout Belgium, wits were nearly made extinct until Pierre Celis revived the style in the 1960s. Today, almost every beer drinker knows of Hoegaarden, named for the town where witbiers were made popular, and Blue Moon, the interpretation of the style made by Coors.

In doing some research for this post, I found an interesting tidbit from Michael Jackson, which explains how the Curaçao orange peel and other spices may have found their way into witbiers. In his Beer Companion, he points out that “Belgium was a part of the Netherlands when many spice islands, including the orange-growing territory of Curaçao, were colonized.” It stands to reason that the spice trade influenced what was used in the brewing of witbiers.

Modern interpretations of the style may include some interesting flavoring ingredients. Westbrook Brewing in South Carolina makes a wit called White Thai, which uses lemongrass and ginger root instead of orange peel and coriander.

How To Brew WitbierShop Steam Freak Kits

Witbiers are a fun style to brew and one that you and your non-beer geek friends will likely enjoy throughout the summer. Our Brewcraft Belgian Wit recipe kit includes everything you need to brew a Belgian white. You can also brew your own Blue Moon with Stream Freaks Blue Noon recipe kit. Both of these recipe kits are from extract. If you prefer to formulate your own witbier recipe, read on.

  • Grains – Extract brewers will want to use the lightest malt extract available, probably using a fair amount of wheat malt extract syrup, an extract made from both wheat and barley malt (65/35 wheat to barley malt). All-grain brewers should start with a light pilsner malt for the base of their grain bill. Both might consider using unmalted wheat or oats for added body and the notorious witbier cloudiness.
  • Hops – Traditional European varieties of hops should be used in an authentic Belgian witbier, but feel free to use some American hops if you’d like. According to Michael Jackson, the original Hoegaarden used East Kent Goldings and Saaz, though I’m not sure that’s still the case now that Hoegaarden is owned by AB-InBev. In any event, shoot for 10-20 IBUs.Shop Beer Flavorings
  • Herbs & spices – Coriander and bitter orange peel are the common additions in Belgian whites. Hoegaarden’s “secret” spice is believed to be grains of paradise. This is a good style though for thinking outside the box, so you may wish to throw in some lemon peel, lemongrass, ginger, or chamomile into your witbier depending on your tastes.
  • Yeast – Use a wit beer yeast or other Belgian yeast strain for your witbier.

That’s my take on how to brew Witbier. Are you a fan of Belgian wits? How do you like to brew your own Belgian white?
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Storing Hops: What’s The Best Way?

Homebrewer Storing HopsThe question often comes up: “I’ve had this bag of hops in the refrigerator for over a year…can I still use them?”

In short, yes! However, just storing hops in the refrigerator does not preserve their alpha acids very well, which makes it difficult to predict how they will affect a beer’s bitterness. Hops lose their potency and freshness over time, and only in the case of Lambics are aged hops considered desirable. Further, if not stored properly, hops can absorb some unpleasant odors wafting around your fridge, so it’s important to understand the proper method of storing hops in order to brew the freshest, best beer possible.

 

So, what’s the best way to store hops?

Learning how to store hops is a piece of cake:

  • Good – At a minimum, keep your hops in the refrigerator in an airtight container—like in a mason jar—and use them as soon as possible after purchasing.
  • Better – Even better, store hops in a vacuum-sealed package in the refrigerator. A consumer grade vacuum sealer can come in handy for this purpose.
  • Best – The best method for storing hops is to keep them in an air-flushed, vacuum-sealed package in the freezer. Most homebrewing hops these days are packaged  and stored this way. If it will be more than a few days before brewing with the hops, just toss them in the freezer until brew day.shop_hops

The same goes for storing hops after opening the package. If you have an unused portion of hops, storing the hops in the freezer in an airtight container is the best way to go. Try to use the hops as soon as possible.

 

What if my hops are old? Can I still use them? How does this affect IBUs?

If your have been storing hops in the freezer in an airtight container for less than a year, you should be able to use them without their age having a negative affect on your beer.

If the hops have been stored for longer than a year or just kept in a refrigerator, it might be a good idea to calculate the actual alpha acid content of the hops in order to accurately predict IBUs in the finished beer. All hops should be packaged with an alpha acid content expressed as a percentage. From there, it’s a simple matter of using an aged hop calculator to adjust the alpha acid content and the weight needed to achieve a desired bitterness level.Shop Accurate Scales

Keep in mind that there are many factors affecting bitterness in beer, so calculated IBUs are just an approximation. At the end of the day, it may be worth just buying some fresh hops from the homebrew shop so you can be sure you get the best qualities from your hops as possible.
—–
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.

Tips For Home Brewing A Saison Beer

Home Brewed Saison BeerThe Belgian Saison is a beer for warmer weather. Traditionally, brewers in southern Belgium would brew Saisons in the spring for consumption throughout the summer. Want to try home brewing a Saison beer for this summer? Then read on and you’ll be able to create your own extract or all-grain saison beer recipe!

Saisons, as with many Belgian beers, are difficult to place into strict style guidelines. They’re farmhouse ales, often made with adjunct grains, such as spelt, oats, and wheat, and a mix of herbs and spices — basically whatever can be found around the farmhouse. They’re a great beer for exercising creativity, and one of the few styles that lends itself to an “anything goes” approach.

Still, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind when brewing a Saison beer. According to Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion, Saisons range from “child strength” all the way up to “royal” strength, with the strongest version, la saison de mars, having an original gravity as high as 1.060. According to the BJCP Style Guidelines, a Saison should be “a refreshing, medium to strong fruity/spicy ale, with a distinctive yellow-orange color, highly carbonated, well hopped, and dry with a quenching acidity.” Further, according to the BJCP, Saisons should fit more or less within these guidelines:

  • IBUs: 20 – 35
  • Color (SRM): 5 – 14
  • OG: 1.048 – 1.065
  • FG: 1.002 – 1.012
  • ABV: 5 – 7%

Here are some suggestions for ingredients to use when brewing a Saison. Just keep in mind there are probably at least as many saison recipes as there are brewers, so don’t let this list restrain your creativity.

 

Water

  • Beer enthusiast author, Michael Jackson states that “local hard water may have helped provide the body, mouth-feel and extraction of flavors from the grains…” Consider using relatively hard water for increased body and flavor. Using Burton water salts may be appropriate. This is particularly important wine brewing a saison all-grain recipe

 

Grain BillShop Burton Water Salts

  • All-Grain: Start with a very light 2-Row Malt, such as Maris Otter or Belgian Pilsner malt. You may want to use a little Belgian Aromatic malt (20L) for color. Consider throwing in some Munich, Vienna, or Belgian Biscuit malt for added complexity. Small amounts of raw oats, spelt, or wheat can contribute additional complexity and body.

 

Sugar

  • Belgians are notorious for adding sugars to their beers. In the case of the saison, adding some light candi sugar or corn sugar can help achieve a dry finish.

 

Hops

  • Saisons are typically brewed with Belgian or UK hop varieties, with an emphasis on the early hop additions. Other European hops are sometimes used as well. When brewing a Saison beer consider using UK Kent Goldings, Fuggles, and Styrian Golding. Sometimes saisons are dry-hopped.

 

Herbs and SpicesShop Steam Freak Kits

  • Just about anything goes here. You might try orange peel, star anise, peppercorns, chamomile, but try not to go overboard: herbs and spices should enhance the characteristics of the yeast and hops, rather than dominate them. Herbs and spices may be added early in the boil for bittering or late in the boil for flavoring and aroma. Herbs and spices added during secondary fermentation will contribute to aroma. Usually an ounce or so is plenty for a 5 gallon batch, but it depends on the herb or spice in question. When in doubt, use a small amount, and if you want to use more in a future batch you can do that.

 

Yeast

  • Use a Belgian ale yeast, such as Wyeast’s #1388. To get a dry finish, we need a yeast that achieves a low FG.
  • Advanced: Some Saisons are made with a blend of yeasts. If you feel comfortable with it, you could try using a couple different Belgian yeasts. If you really want to go crazy, you could try an open fermentation, but chances of a contamination with this method are very high, and therefore not usually recommended.

 

What ingredients and techniques do you use when home brewing a Saison beer? Do you have a Saison beer recipe you’d like to share. Share in the comments below!

Til next time…Cheers!

—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Harvesting And Reusing Beer Yeast

Homebrewer Reusing Beer YeastLearning how to harvest, wash, and reuse your beer yeast is a neat skill that gets you one step closer to making beer the way the pros do. Besides, washing and reusing beer yeast can help you save a few bucks so you can get those homebrewing gadgets you’ve always wanted.

 

A few important things to consider before reusing your beer yeast:

  • When harvesting beer yeast, sanitation is very important! When you practice good sanitation, you can reuse yeast for ten generations or more!
  • Yeast should be harvested from a clean and healthy fermentation. Take notes on how your batch turns out. If the beer didn’t come out well, you probably don’t want to reuse the beer yeast.
  • Consider the color of the beer you’re harvesting yeast from. Yeast harvested from a dark beer and pitched into a lighter beer will likely affect the color of your beer, so try to pitch yeast from light beer to a dark one.
  • Just like with color, think about the hoppiness of the beer you’re harvesting yeast from. A yeast slurry from a very hoppy beer may affect the bitterness of your beer.

 

Now, here’s an easy step-by-step guide to harvesting and washing beer yeast. Follow these steps when reusing beer yeast and you’ll have not problems, whatsoever:shop_liquid_beer_yeast

  1. The night before transferring your beer from primary to secondary fermentation, boil a half gallon of water for 20 minutes to sterilize it. Carefully pour the water into a sanitized jar or growler, seal it with a sanitized lid, and place the growler in the refrigerator to cool overnight.
  1. The day of the transfer, clean and sanitize several (four or more) glass jars and lids. Remove the growler of cool water from the fridge.
  1. After transferring to secondary, pour half of the water from the growler onto the yeast cake left behind in the primary fermenter. Swirl the water around to stir up the beer yeast and let sit for several minutes. The slurry will stratify into three layers: watery beer mixture on top, dead yeast and trub on the bottom, and healthy yeast in the middle.
  1. Pour off and discard the watery top layer. Then pour the healthy beer yeast slurry into half of your glass jars, taking care to leave the darker yeast slurry at the bottom of the fermenter. Allow these jars to sit for several minutes.
  1. Shop Stir PlateIn ten minutes or so, the slurry will separate. Just like before, pour off and discard the watery stuff on top, then pour the white yeast slurry into the remaining jars, leaving behind the darkest part of the slurry.
  1. Place the lids on the jars of washed yeast and place in the refrigerator. Don’t forget to label the jars!
  1. Use the harvested beer yeast within a few months, the sooner the better, and prepare a yeast starter to ensure optimal viability for your next batch.

 

Have you ever tried reusing beer yeast from a slurry or cake? Did you end up with more beer yeast than you can use? Yes, you can make bread with 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 of the Local Beer Blog.

Alternative Techniques For Adding Hops To Beer

Hops – they’reHops Ready To Add To Beer the defining ingredient in many styles of both craft and homebrewed beer. From brown ales to stouts to IPAs, there’s hardly a beer out there that isn’t made with the addition of hops.

You may be aware that adding hops to beer at different points of the boil contribute different characteristics to the finished beer. Hops added early to the boiling wort are responsible for most of the bitterness in the beer, while hops added later to the boil contribute more of the floral, spicy, piney, or citrusy flavor and aroma qualities that hopheads know and love.

If you are following a beer recipe it is customary for it to state the boiling times for the various hop additions, whether it be: 60, 30, 15 or 5 minutes. Just following these times for standard hop additions.

But besides these standard hop additions through out the wort boil, there are a few alternative techniques for adding hops to beer that you may want to have in your homebrewing tool box:

  1. First wort hopsFirst wort hopping involves adding hops while collecting the runnings from an all-grain mash. Simply take the hops that you would add at the end of the boil and place them in the brew kettle as you collect the wort pre-boil. Some brewers believe that this technique results in “a more refined hop aroma, a more uniform bitterness, and a more harmonious beer overall.”
  1. Dry hopDry hopping is the practice of adding hops to the secondary fermenter while the beer is conditioning. This is another technique which adds additional aroma to the beer. As with first wort hopping, low alpha acid aroma hops are best suited for dry hopping. Use a screen, mesh hop bag, or cold crash your beer to separate the hops from the finished beer.
  1. Hop back – This is a method of adding hops to beer that is a little bit more involved. A hop back is a piece of equipment used to recirculate beer through the hops packed into it. For Sierra Nevada,Shop Hops it’s called a torpedo (hence “Torpedo” IPA), and for Dogfish Head it’s called Randal the Enamel Animal. If you’re a do-it-yourself-er, you can build your own hop back using a stainless steel container and standard hardware store fittings.
  1. Foosball table – If you’re a fan of the Dogfish Head IPAs, you’ve probably heard why they’re named 60-Minute, 90-Minute, and 120-Minute. Founder Sam Calagione originally used a jury-rigged foosball table for adding hops gradually throughout the 60-, 90-, or 120-minute boil. The idea is that this “continual hopping” results in a more rounded hop profile. While that may be true, this example highlights how creative ideas can be applied to the brewing process. Don’t be afraid to try out some techniques of your own!

What’s your “go-to” technique for adding hops to beer? Please 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.

Yuengling Clone Beer Recipe (All Grain)

Yuengling BreweryAs you may know, Pennsylvania’s Yuengling is the oldest operating brewery in America. Founded in 1829, Dick Yuengling is the fifth generation to own and run this family business. As far as some of the lighter American lagers go, Yuengling Traditional Lager is one of the better ones (in my humble opinion). If you’re looking for a smooth lager that isn’t too heavy, this Yuengling clone may be a good option.

 

Building a Yuengling Clone Beer Recipe From All-Grain

Every good clone recipe requires some research. (Ideally, this includes some drinking!) From the brewery’s website, we learn that all Yuengling beers contain “a balance of American barley and imported two-row malt with choice Cluster and Cascade hops…”

Further, the description for the Traditional Lager tells us “roasted caramel malt” is included. Plus, as an amber lager, it’s similar to the Vienna lager, so we can refer to that style for some guidance. Vienna lagers feature Vienna malt, a grain that’s been kilned a little more than the typical two-row malt, so I’ve made sure to include a decent portion in this all-grain clone. The fermentable ingredients should yield a beer in the ballpark of 4.4% ABV, which is the alcohol content of Yuengling. Finally, a pound of caramel malt helps achieve that distinctive amber color.

Yuengling isn’t known as a hoppy beer, so I’ve kept the IBUs low at around 13. If you’d like some additional flavor and aroma, feel free to add an extra quarter ounce or so of Cascade hops during the last 10 minutes of the boil.

 

Shop Barley Grains

Yuengling Traditional Lager Clone Recipe
(All Grain, 5 Gallon Recipe)

*recipe assumes a mash efficiency of ~75%
5 lbs. Briess 2-Row Brewer’s Malt
2.5 lbs. Vienna Malt
1 lb. Caramel 60L
.25 oz. Cluster hops (6.5%) at :60
.25 oz. Cascade hops (7%) at :30
Wyeast Pilsen Lager 2007

 

Directions: Mash grains at 152°F for 60 minutes. Ferment 48°-56°F for two weeks. Condition at 40°F or below for at least four weeks before bottling or kegging.

Shop HopsThe most important thing with this clone recipe will be the fermentation temperature control. Yuengling doesn’t have much in the way of esters or aromas derived from the fermentation, so it’s important that this beer is fermented cool and cold conditioned to keep those yeast characteristics in check. Wyeast 2007 is a clean fermenting strain, so the beer yeast selection in this case should help.

As with all clone brews, it may take a little trial and error to get the beer recipe just the way you like it. Hopefully, this one will serve as a good starting point.

Have you tried a Yuengling clone beer recipe before? How did it go?
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.