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?
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.

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!
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.

When To Add Pectic Enzyme To Your Wine!

Pectic Enzyme For WineCan I add pectic enzyme after the fermentation to clarify the wine? Is there a substitute or alternative I should use instead at this time?

Name: Paul D.
State: Idaho
Hello Paul,

Thanks for the great question. Some beginning winemakers get confused as to when to add pectic enzyme to their wines.

What Is Pectic Enzyme?
The first thing that needs to be understood is that pectic enzyme is not a fining agent or a wine clarifier for wine. It does not clear cloudy particles out of a wine after a fermentation like fining agents. Pectic enzyme is a protein that breaks down pectin in the fruit.

Pectin is the gelatinous material in fruit. It’s the stuff that holds the fruit’s fiber together. It is also the stuff that causes the resulting fruit juice to have the appearance of being cloudy. This is known as a pectin haze.

Once the fruit is crushed and pressed, not only does it release the juice, but it also releases the pectin. The pectin is a highly complex carbohydrate, refracting any light that hits it. This gives the fruit juice a cloudy appearance.

The pectic enzyme is a protein that is capable of breaking down the pectin cells into carbohydrates that are less complex – something that does not refract the light and give the juice a cloudy appearance. Essentially, the pectic enzyme causes a chemical change in the juice. It does not do anything to clear out a substances like a fining agent would; it changes the molecular structure of what’s there so that light my travel more cleanly through it.


When To Add Pectic Enzyme To Your Wine?
As for winemaking, the optimum time to add pectic enzyme is right after crushing the fruit and before pressing. By breaking down the pectin cells at this stage, you are allowing more juice to release from the fruit’s fiber – a good thing for making wine. If you are not the one doing the crushing and pressing, then the second best time to add pectic enzyme to your wine is at the beginning of the fermentation. This will allow the pectic enzyme to do its thing while the wine fermentation is occurring.Shop Wine Filters


Three Things To Note Here:

  1. Pectic enzyme comes in different strengths, so you are better off using the dosage recommended on the package it comes in instead of following the amount called for in your wine recipe.
  1. During a wine fermentation the wine yeast does produce some pectic enzyme of its own. This is why it is possible to have a clear wine without adding pectic enzyme, but you are playing cloudy roulette with your homemade wine by not adding it. Adding pectic enzyme to your wine gives you added insurance that you are going to have a clear-looking wine.
  1. If you do end up with a cloudy wine after the fermentation and you’ve already cleared out all the physical particles with a fining agent such as bentonite or isinglass, your options are few. Pectic enzyme is much more effective during a fermentation than after a fermentation. Your only hope is to add another full dose of pectic enzyme directly to the wine and give it time (sometimes months) to work on breaking down the pectin cells. If you did not add a dose of pectic enzyme at the beginning of fermentation, then you can add a double-dose, now. Pectic enzyme works much slower after a fermentation has completed.


Shop Wine KitsUnfortunately, there is no alternative or substitute for pectic enzyme. So if you think you need some, you’ll have to get some. Do not use gelatin from the store. It will not disperse as evenly and readily as gelatin offered by wine supply shops.

I hope I’ve answered your questions and given you a more complete understanding of what pectic enzyme is and what it does for the home winemaker. Just remember it is at the beginning of fermentation that you when you’ll want to add pectic enzyme to your wine. If that ship has sailed, you can add a double-dose of pectic enzyme after the fermentation.

If you’d like to read more you might want to take a look at Why Do Wine Recipes Call For Pectic Enzyme.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Back Sweetening Wine After Fermentation Or Before Bottling

Wine Glass Full Of Sugar CubesIs it ok to back sweeten a wine right after the fermentation or should I wait?

Hello Terry,

Before back sweetening a wine, it is important that you wait until the fermentation has completed. It is also just also important that the wine have plenty of time to settle out all the yeast. Most often, the yeast has not had time to do this by the time you do your second racking. So, normally you will not want to back sweeten your wine right after the fermentation.

In reality, the best time to back sweeten a wine is right before bottling. This gives plenty of time for the wine to clear up. There is no upside to sweetening the wine sooner than this, only a potential for problems.

The reason clearing the wine is so important is because the wine be in a stable state before sweetening, otherwise all the new sugars that are added will end up as fodder for a renewed fermentation.

Cloudiness in a wine usually indicates it still has excessive wine yeast. The wine yeast is as fine as flour and settles out the slowest, so it is that last thing to be suspended in the wine. It is very hard to stabilize a wine that has residual wine yeast still floating throughout the wine.

The wine stabilizer, potassium sorbate, is what has to be used to stabilize a wine when back sweetening a wine. While a sulfite such as sodium metabisulfite or Campden tablets should be used as well, all of this is still not enough to completely stabilize the wine if too much residual yeast is still in the wine.

Shop Potassium SorbatePotassium sorbate stabilizes a wine in an entirely different way than these two sulfites. It does so by putting a restrictive coating on the outside surface of each of the few remaining yeast cells. This does not kill or destroy the yeast. They will die on their own in hours or days. But it makes them unable to reproduce themselves. The ability to reproduce is the real threat that can manifest into a full-blown fermentation.

If the wine is still even slightly, visually cloudy, there may not be enough potassium sorbate to go around to do a complete coat all the yeast cells. This is the downside to back sweetening the wine sooner then necessary.

In a nutshell, don’t back sweeten your wine right after fermentation. Give it plenty of time to clear, then back sweeten. And if convenient, don’t even think about back sweeten you wine until right before bottling.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

A Simple Guide to Beer Brewing Additives

Homebrewer Adding Beer Brewing AdditivesUnless adhering to the strict rules of Reinheitsgebot, brewers will sometimes use ingredients that fall outside of the main categories of malt, hops, water, and yeast. The use of these beer brewing additives can greatly improve a beer’s clarity, fermentation performance, or flavor.

This is a guide to some of the most common beer brewing additives used in home beer making.



These additives, often called “fining agents,” help to improve the clarity of your homebrew:

  • Irish Moss – A coagulant added at the end of the boil, Irish Moss helps proteins form into clumps and settle out of suspension. For a five-gallon batch, add a 1/2 tablespoon during the last 15 minutes of the boil. Made from seaweed, Irish Moss is sometime referred to as “carrageenan.” Of these beer brewing additives, it’s the most commonly used.
  • Gelatin – Gelatin is a colorless and tasteless compound that attaches to negatively-charged particles in your beer, helping them settle out of suspension. For a five-gallon batch, dissolve 1 teaspoon of gelatin in 1 cup of hot, pre-boiled water. Once dissolved, let cool and pour into secondary fermenter, racking your beer on top of it. Gelatin is derived from animal collagen, so don’t feed to your vegetarian friends!
  • Isinglass – Made from fish bladders, isinglass is a very common fining agent used in both winemaking and brewing. But don’t worry — used properly, it won’t affect the flavor of your beer. It’s added to the secondary fermenter in the same way as gelatin. One teaspoon is sufficient for a five-gallon batch of homebrew.Shop Irish Moss


Water Treatment

The minerals in your brewing water can have a profound effect on the flavor of your finished beer. Mineral beer brewing additives are typically used either to recreate a water profile from a certain part of the world or to adjust the mash pH. It’s generally recommended to get a water profile report of your city water, before adding minerals. Otherwise, start with reverse osmosis (RO) water, which has had all minerals removed, then add the ones you need.

  • Burton Water Salts – These minerals are added to brewing water to simulate the water profile of Burton-on-Trent in the UK. They are often used when brewing English pale ales (think Bass Pale Ale). This mix includes papain, an organic compound which helps to prevent chill haze.
  • Calcium Carbonate – Also know as chalk, calcium carbonate is a food-grade mineral blend. It’s one of the few beer brewing additives that raises mash pH (lowers acidity). Carbonate-rich water can help enhance hops bitterness.
  • Gypsum – Gypsum is a mineral blend composed of calcium sulfate. It lowers mash pH.


Yeast Nutrientshop_gypsum

  • Brewer’s Yeast Nutrient – In addition to sugar, beer yeast requires certain nutrients in order to reproduce and convert sugar into alcohol. When it comes to brewing beers made with a high level of adjuncts, yeast nutrient can give the yeast an extra boost that will help them complete fermentation. It can also help achieve a lower final gravity and a drier tasting beer with less residual sugar.



  • Ascorbic Acid – Also known as vitamin C, ascorbic acid acts as an oxygen scavenger. Oxygen in beer creates oxidation, which results in stale flavors, often described as wet cardboard. Add a 1/2 teaspoon to your beer when it’s time to bottle.

Do you use beer brewing additives in your home beer making, or are a home brew purist?
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.

Adding More Grape Concentrate To Wine

Fading Grape ConcentrateI am getting ready to make 10 gallons of wine from 2 cans of Sun Cal Johannisberg Riesling concentrate. My question is would an additional can of Sun Cal Riesling really improve the fullness of the wine or would not really be worth the investment of shipping another can of concentrate? I have made a batch of this wine several years ago and it turn out pretty good. Hope you can help…

Name: Vincent O.
State: IA
Hello Vincent,

Thanks you for this interesting question.

[To catch up other readers, Sun Cal concentrated grape juices come in 46 fl. oz. cans. Each can makes 5 gallons of wine when you follow the directions. Along with the can, sugar, acid blend, tannin, yeast nutrient and yeast are added to make up the wine recipe. Vincent, wants to push the envelop a little by adding more grape concentrate to his wine. He’s making a double batch, 2 cans to 10 gallons. He’s thinking about adding a third can.]

Without question, adding a third can would bring up the body and flavor of the wine, but the perceived impression of the resulting wine would not be one with 50% more flavor and body. Adding more grape concentrate to the wine would only intensify the wine’s flavor only marginally.

This is because of the way us humans tend to perceive things. All of our senses do not react on an even scale. For example, two jet engines side-by-side are not twice as loud as one. If you double the wattage of a light bulb, it does not seem twice as bright. If you add 50% more concentrate to your wine recipe, it will not seem like 50% more flavor.Shop Grape Concentrate

I’m not saying that adding more grape concentrate to the wine is not a good idea, I’m just letting you know what to expect if you do decide to add more. Whether you feel it would be worth it is completely up to you. You can expect more flavor and body, but it will not be 50% more.

We’ve had many customers over the years that have used 2, and even, 3 cans of Sun Cal concentrate to just 5 gallons and loved the resulting wine.

Another important aspect to this that needs to be addressed is that if you do decide to add more grape concentrate to your wine, you will need to compensate by adding less sugar and less acid blend to the wine recipe. This is because the additional can of grape concentrate is adding both more sugar and more fruit acid.

Regardless, of how much flavor you are trying to get, the sugar level and acid level should always remain the same. The beginning sugar level determines how much alcohol the resulting wine will have. The acid level of the wine controls how tart or sharp the wine will be.

Keeping both of these at their proper level is relatively easy. You will need to use a hydrometer to add the proper amount of sugar. Keep dissolving sugar into wine must until the hydrometer gives you a reading on the potential alcohol scale of 10% or 11%.Shop Wine Kits

An acid test kit will be needed to know how much acid blend to add to the wine recipe for proper taste. An acid test kit is a valuable tool for controlling any wine’s acidity. After taking a reading the directions will show you how to determine how much acid blend to add.

Adding more grape concentrate to wine is something that is pretty simple to do. Plus, it’s away fun to experiment. That’s half the fun of making your own wine. You have the opportunity to make your own personal creations.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

How to Calculate IBUs When Brewing Beer

Hops To Be CalculatedIf you are brewing a specific style of beer or recreating one of your previous batches, calculating your IBUs, or International Bittering Units, that are provided by the hops is one way to dial in the accuracy of your homebrew. There are plenty of free online calculators that will do this for you, but by understanding how to calculate IBUs, you can take your brewing skills to the next level.

Note: IBUs only measure the hop bitterness, or isomerized alpha acids in a beer. Aromas are derived from hops oils, not alpha acids.


How To Calculate IBUs

You can use this calculation before your brew using estimated values, or afterwards to get a more accurate figure.

Before we can calculate the IBUs of a beer, these are the factors we need to know:

  • W – The weight of the hops in the homebrew recipe (usually in ounces in the US).
  • AA – The alpha-acids of the hops in your recipe, expressed as AA%.
  • U – Hops utilization rates (see chart at the bottom). You will need to know the length of time (in minutes) that each of the hops will be boiled in to the wort, as well as the gravity of wort at the end of the boil (in gallons).
  • V – Volume of wort (in gallons) at the end of the boil.

This is the formula for calculating IBUs:

IBUs = (AA% x U x W x 7489)/V

But where does the 7489 come from? This is a correction value that helps us complete the formula in US units (to compute in metric units, calculate weight in grams, volume in liters, and change the correction value to 1000).shop_hops

So, what you will do is calculate the IBUs for each hop addition in your homebrew recipe, then add them all together to calculate the total IBUs in a beer.

As an example, this past weekend I brewed a 10 gallon batch of American Brown Ale with a starting gravity of 1.060 and the following hop schedule:

  • 2 oz. East Kent Goldings hops (5.2 AA%) at 60 minutes left in boil
  • 1 oz. Willamette (4.7 AA%) at :30
  • 2 oz. East Kent Goldings (5.2 AA%) at :10

Let’s plug in some number to see how to calculate the IBUs. Starting with the first hop addition, we input the alpha acids as a decimal. (Remember to shift the decimal two places to change it from a percentage to a decimal number.) Then, we need to look at the hops utilization rate when boiled for a 60 minute boil in 1.060 gravity wort. Looking at the chart below, that number is 0.211. The weight is 2 and the volume is 10:

IBUs of first addition = (.052 x .211 x 2 x 7489)/10 = 16.43 IBUs

Then we do it again for each of the next two additions:

IBUs of second addition = (.047 x .162 x 1 x 7489)/10 = 5.7 IBUs

IBUs of third addition = (.052 x .076 x 2 x 7489)/10 = 5.92 IBUs 

Add them all together, and the total IBUs for this beer is about 28 IBUs.

Shop Steam Freak KitsThat’s how to calculate IBUs. As with many things in homebrewing, IBUs are an approximation. There are a lot of factors in play, but knowing how to calculate IBUs gives you a lot more control over your brew. Plus, if you want to recreate a beer recipe that you’ve brewed before, but with hops that have different alpha acid percentages, you can use the formula to adjust the weight of each hops addition needed to arrive at the same IBUs.

Do you calculate the IBUs of your homebrew? Do you use an online calculator or do you go the old fashioned route?


Hops Utilization Chart

Hops Utilization Chart

Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Liquid Beer Yeast vs Dry Beer Yeast For Homebrewing

Liquid Beer Yeast and Dry Beer YeastGuest beer blogger, Heather Erickson, shares some of her tips and insights about liquid and dry beer yeast.

When I first got into homebrewing, I was introduced to the Wyeast Smack Pack. This is a pouch of liquid yeast that has within it another pouch of activator that can be busted open by smacking it.

I can’t lie, it was kind of fun smacking that direct beer yeast activator and watching those little yeasties start working. Over the years, I have experimented with dry beer yeast and well, I’m torn between the results. Below are some of the pros and cons of liquid beer yeast vs dry beer yeast.

  • Pro: Liquid beer yeast offers variety
    With Wyeast offering over 50 different beer yeast strains for homebrewing, variety is quite possibly the spice of life with liquid yeasts. From a Belgian Strong Ale to a good ole American Ale, the variety of liquid beer yeast strains seem pretty endless. Besides the everyday ale/lager yeasts, liquid yeast varieties also include seasonal offerings.
  • Pro: Dry beer yeast keeps longer
    As a once a month home brewer, I find myself in two scenarios: either I am scrambling for brewing ingredients the day of, or I am crossing my fingers that my beer yeast is still healthy. The dry yeast alternative negates that second worry. Staying fresh for up to two years in the refrigerator, a dry yeast option like Fermentis Safale US-05 is a high-performing alternative to my usual go-to liquid beer yeast smack pack.
  • Con: Liquid yeast is more expensive
    If we are just looking at the numbers, on average, a liquid beer yeast pouch is about twice as much, if not more, than a packet of dry beer yeast. While cost might not be a concern if you prefer a certain type of flavor that a beer yeast provides, the economics are still worth noting.Shop Stir Plate
  • Con: You won’t know if your dry beer yeast is healthy unless you rehydrate
    Rehydrating dry beer yeast prior to pitching seems to be a point of contention among homebrewers. While some believe this step is necessary to ensure healthy yeast cells, others feel that it isn’t. Even dry yeast manufacturers are torn on the topic. A dry beer yeast packet boasts anywhere from 200-300 billion yeast cells, compared to 100 billion in liquid yeast. Pitching the dry yeast straight into your fermenter without rehydration could end up killing some of those cells, up to 50% or so. Taking that into account, the number of cells in both liquid beer yeast and dry beer yeast would end up being just about equal.

Besides water, yeast is arguably the most important ingredient in beer. Without it, you just have sugar water. That’s why there has always been such a big debate about using liquid beer yeast vs dry beer yeast for homebrewing your beer. It’s an important piece of the brewing puzzle.

My advice? Test out your tried and true Pale Ale recipe with a Wyeast 1056 and a Fermentis Safale US-05. Whichever pint you prefer is the yeast you should use.

Happy brewing!
Heather Erickson is a homebrewer with three years experience and has competed in the GABF Pro-Am Competition. She writes the blog This Girl Brews and is a regular contributor to homebrewing sites. Find her on Twitter at @thisgirlbrews.