Homebrewing Kit Buyer’s Guide

Home brewing starter kitGetting started in homebrewing should not be intimidating. E. C. Kraus makes the initial leap much easier by including nearly everything you need for your first batch in one homebrewing kit.

Our Steam Freak Beermaking Starter Kit includes:

  • Complete Joy of Homebrewing – This book is the original homebrewer’s guidebook. It will guide you through your first few batches and well beyond into your homebrewing career.
  • 6 Gallon Screw-Top Fermenter – This is what the beer ferments in for a week or so before moving to the secondary fermentation carboy. The fermenter comes with an airlock, stopper, and faucet. It can also be used as a bottling bucket.
  • 5 Gallon Plastic Carboy – After about ten days in primary fermentation, the beer is moved to the carboy for further conditioning and flavor development. The carboy also comes with an airlock, stopper, and faucet.
  • Triple Scale Hydrometer – This tool is used to measure the gravity of your homebrew, and those measurements are used to determine alcohol content. Learn more about working with your hydrometer in this blog post.
  • 21″ Curved Racking Cane – The racking cane, along with a section of vinyl hose, helps you transfer, or rack, the beer from one fermenter to another.
  • 6′ Length of 3/8″ Vinyl Hose – Attach the hose to the racking cane to complete your racking setup.
  • Double Lever Capper – Used to cap bottles.
  • Beer Bottle Brush – Used for cleaning bottles.
  • Racking Cane Clip – This clip secures the racking cane to the bucket to faciliate racking procedures.
  • 8″ Floating Thermometer – A thermometer can be used in the home brewery in a number of ways, in particular, measuring mash temperature.
  • Basic A No Rinse Cleanser – A brewery-grade cleaning agents used to clean all of your homebrewing gear.
  • 24″ Stirring Spoon – Used to stir and aerate the wort before pitching yeast
  • Steam Freak Kit – Unlike other homebrewing starter kits, our kit includes a Steam Freak recipe kit of your choice, including bottle caps. So the tough question is this: What beer style will you make with your first batch?

In addition to the Beermaking Starter Kit, you will also need a brew kettle. The 20-qt. Brew Kettle is ideal for brewing indoors, but many homebrewers will eventually upgrade to a larger kettle (see below).

 

Suggested Equipment Upgrades

Once you’ve brewed your first batch or two, you might be willing to make a few upgrades to your home brewery. Some of the most popular steps forward on the equipment side include:Shop Carboys

  • Auto-siphon – This nifty device makes siphoning from one fermenter to another a breeze.
  • Temperature controller – After you brew a few batches of beer, you’ll soon discover that fermentation temperature control is a very important part of brewing good beer. If you have a spare freezer or refrigerator, a temperature controller will allow you to control your fermentation temperature to the degree.
  • Additional Fermenters – Once you’re hooked on homebrewing, additional fermentation capacity will definitely come in handy.
  • Mash tun cooler – If you’re interested in making the jump to all-grain brewing, you’re going to need a mash tun. A mash tun cooler is a simple, affordable way to mash the grains before the boil. (On a tight budget? The Brew In a Bag method is a wallet-friendly alternative.)
  • Stir plate – Yeast health is a crucial part of brewing good beer. This includes making sure that you have a healthy colony of yeast large enough to ferment your beer. A stir plate stirs the yeast in your yeast starter, giving it plenty of oxygen in order to grow to the right size.
  • Keg system – Your own homebrew on tap? Now we’re talking! The ultimate upgrade for homebrewers is to move from bottling to kegging their beer. In addition to saving a ton of time and effort, homebrew draft systems just have this “cool” factor that can’t be beat.

What piece of equipment is on your home brewery wish list?

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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.

8 Clone Beer Recipe Kits!

Steam Freak Beer Recipe KItsOne of the best ways to improve your homebrewing abilities is to replicate commercial brews and compare them against the original. Did you get the color right? The flavor? How about the head retention? Can you detect any fermentation faults or off-flavors? There’s nothing quite like the feeling of when you nail the perfect clone beer recipe.

The Steam Freak series from E. C. Kraus lets you dive into the world of brewing clones beer with eight classic clone recipe kits:

  1. Sahara Nevada Pale Ale (Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone)
    Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is one of the original craft beers. When Ken Grossman launched Sierra Nevada back in 1980, little did he know that his Pale Ale would come to define the American pale ale. This clone beer recipe kit features just enough caramel malt and Carapils to give the beer enough a malty-sweet body to back up the generous dose of Cascade hops. 5.5% ABV, 44-48 IBUs.
  1. Blue Noon Belgian Wit (Blue Moon Clone) 
    Blue Moon represents what many would call their entry into drinking craft beer. Blue Noon is a refreshing Blue Moon clone recipe brewed with wheat, oats, and spices. It offers a full body combined with a complex citrus/wheat flavor that is worlds apart from other mass-market beers. Coriander and orange peel add a tart and spicy complexity. 5.4% ABV, 20-24 IBUs.
  1. S. Tadcaster Porter (Samuel Smith Taddy Porter Clone) 
    Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter is a classic English Porter. Brewed with water from a 250+ year old well, Taddy Porter features roasted malt flavors with hints of dark fruit and molasses. This clone beer recipe kit uses classic English hop varieties to provide a moderate bitterness in balance to the malt. 4.6% ABV, 55 IBUs.
  1. Petey’s Evil Ale (Pete’s Wicked Ale Clone) 
    Pete’s Brewing Company was founded in 1986, and Pete’s Wicked was the brewery’s flagship beer, an American Brown Ale with nutty malt flavor and a fruity combination of English and American aroma hops. Though Pete’s was discontinued in 2011, Pete’s Wicked Ale will live forever as one of the original American craft beers. Resurrect Pete’s Wicked Ale with this easy clone beer recipe! 5.25% ABV, 40-44 IBUs.
  1. Fat Liar Amber Ale (Fat Tire Clone) 
    It’s hard to imagine the American craft beer movement without New Belgium’s Fat Tire. With its nutty and biscuity malt flavor, floral hop flavor, and exceptional balance, this Belgian-American amber ale is agreeable to a wide variety of palates. Have a friend that doesn’t like craft beer? A nice cold Fat Liar may bring them over to the other side. 5.8% ABV, 45 IBUs.
  1. Bazz Pale Ale (Bass Pale Ale Clone) 
    Bass is the English pale ale that defines the Burton-style English pale ale. It’s a fantastic session beer with an intriguing English hop aroma. An English yeast strain adds a subtle fruity aroma that’s characteristic of English Ales. 4% ABV, 33 IBUs.
  1. Buddy Light (Bud Light Clone) 
    Everyone needs a lawnmower beer! Though Bud Light may not be as complex as some other craft beers, you have to be impressed by its consistency – a Bud Light in LA tastes exactly like one in New York. Can you brew a clone that tastes just like what’s in the can? 3.3% ABV, 10 IBUs.
  1. Pilsner Urkel (Pilsner Urquell Clone) 
    Pilsner Urquell is the classic Czech pilsner. Bright gold in color, this clone of the iconic pilsner features the familiar flavor of Czech Saaz hops, which give this beer a relatively assertive hop bitterness. Ferment cool for best results. 5.25% ABV, 43 IBUs.

 

Do you have a favorite clone beer recipe? Which of these clone beer recipe kits would you like to try first?
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Ready? Start Brewing Summer Beers Now!

The result of brewing summer beers.It’s helpful as a homebrewer to always be thinking ahead. Laying out a brewing calendar and deciding what beer styles would be best for the upcoming season.

Now that summer’s just around the corner, do you have your brews lined up for the warmer months? Do you know what summer beers you’ll be brewing?

To help get your mental brewing calendar flowing, here are twelve beer recipe kits that will quench your thirst in the summer heat! These are excellent kits for brewing summer beers

 

Best Beer Styles For Brewing Summer Beers

  • Blonde Ale – In the same ballpark as cream ale, blonde ale is a great beer for the beach. Subtle sweet malt notes support a very light dose of hops, making this beer very easy-drinking.
  • Witbier – Belgian witbier is a wheat-based ale that uses orange peel and spices to give it a citrusy flavor. The wheat gives the beer a bit of sweetness, making it an easy drinker. If you like Hoegaarden or Blue Moon, this one’s for you! This is a beer style that’s always in my plans for brewing summer beers.
  • Weizenbier – German weizen is a wheat beer with notes of tropical fruit and cloves. These characteristics are derived entirely from German weizen yeast, and may also feature notes of vanilla or bubblegum. The wheat gives the beer a somewhat creamy texture, but the light body keeps the beer from being too filling.
  • Kölsch – This German-style ale is a clean, crisp, golden-colored ale with a touch of light malt flavor and a hint of apple or pear. Though similar in appearance and mouthfeel to light lagers, German noble hops give the beer a more assertive bitterness and a decent amount of hop flavor.
  • American Pale AleShop Beer Recipe KitsGood old American pale ales are always in season. APAs tend to feature some notes of caramel malt, but the main feature is always the hops. American hops tend to showcase flavors and aromas of pine, citrus, and spice and usually a bracing bitterness as well. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the benchmark.
  • American Cream Ale – Cream ale is a great beer for the summer. It’s very similar to light lager, but it’s fermented at ale temperatures, making it easier to produce for the average homebrewer.
  • English Bitter – If you like hops, but find American Pale Ale a little too aggressive, try an English Bitter. This English Pale Ale is a little more balanced between the malt and hops, and tends to have a slightly lower alcohol content as well.
  • Light Lager – Here’s a good option for tailgating, a cookout, or any event with red plastic cups. Also makes a great lawnmower beer!
  • PilsnerGerman lager is somewhat more refined, with more pronounced hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Dry and crisp, pilsner works well in just about any summertime situation.
  • Saison – Saison features a fruity, citrusy aroma with some floral and spicy notes – definitely a flavorful option for summer drinking! It’s usually an enticing, bright orange color with lots of carbonation. Saison usually finished dry with a touch of refreshing acidity.

 

Shop Chugger PumpWhat are some of the beer styles you’re thinking about putting on your summer brewing calendar? Are any of the above fit into your plans for brewing summer beers?
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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.

Best Beer Styles for Spring Homebrewing

Spring Homebrewing Season Beer StyleAfter a long, dreary winter, I for one as a homebrewers can’t wait to get out of the house in the spring time and fire up the brew kettle. What do homebrewers brew in the spring? Generally some lighter-bodied beers that exemplify the qualities of the spring season. As if to salute the growing season, these beers tend to showcase the lively flavors of floral hops and fruity yeast varieties.

 

Below are some of the best beer styles for brewing this spring:

  • SaisonSaison is a dry, Belgian-style farmhouse ale typically characterized by fruity and spicy flavors from the use of estery Belgian ale yeast and spices like coriander. Many versions use specialty grains, like oats, wheat, and rye, and can range from a sessionable 4.5% ABV up to 7% or higher. Sometimes honey or sugar are added to help achieve a dry finish. High carbonation and sprightly acidity make saison a supremely refreshing beer to brew in the spring.
  • Bière de Mars – It’s not too late to pull off this high-gravity cousin of the saison this spring. Bière de Mars is a malt-forward Franco-Belgian ale with notes of toffee, dry, fruity flavors, and minimal hop aroma. Like saison, Bière de Mars may utilize adjunct grains, sugar, and spices to achieve the appropriate style characteristics. It’s a no-brainer for spring time brewing.
  • Maibock – Maibock, or “May bock”, is Germany’s answer to spring weather. It’s a higher-gravity lager just like traditional bock, but paler and a little more bitter. Check out Growler Magazine for a wonderfully simple maibock recipe.Shop Beer Recipe Kits
  • Rye Pale Ale – Like barley, rye is a cereal grain that can be used in making beer. It’s often added in smaller doses to contribute a subtle spicy notes to pale ales, IPAs, and sometimes Beglian-style beers. Try this clone of Terrapin Brewing Company’s Rye Pale Ale.
  • Tripel – Belgian Tripels are the true champagne of beer. Bright, golden, effervescent, with notes of fruit and spice, triples are high-gravity Trappist-style beers that showcase the complexity of Belgian ale yeast. Try a Belgian Tripel recipe kit or try this Westmalle Tripel clone when brewing this spring.
  • Belgian Witbier – Belgian wit, or white beer, is the perfect beer for drinking the spring sunshine. Brewed in the style of Hoegaarden or Allagash White, witbier is a sessionable beer at just 4-5% ABV. The color is very pale, often cloudy and creamy due to the use of oats and wheat. Citrus peel and coriander make the beer bright, fragrant, and refreshing. Try the Brewer’s Best Witbier kit or Blue Noon, a clone of the ever-popular Blue Moon.

 

These are some of my favorite beers for brewing in the spring – what’s your favorite spring time brews?Shop Homebrew Starter Kit

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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.

Brewing A Coffee Stout Beer Kit – Part IV

Glass Of Coffee Stout From A Beer Recipe KitOver the past several weeks, I’ve been making a coffee stout partial mash beer kit: Captain Cogsworth Coffee Stout. First, I reviewed the ingredients and made a plan about how to add the coffee to the beer. I then brewed the beer, guided it through fermentation, and bottled it with the coffee. Now we can taste the coffee stout and see what changes might be made next time around.

Here are the notes from my taste test of the Steam Freak’s Coffee Stout beer kit.

 

Tasting Notes: Steam Freak Captain Cogsworth Coffee Stout

Final Stats:

OG: 1.059
FG: 1.020
ABV: 5.1%
IBUs: ~44
SRM: ~35

 

  • Aroma – Soft malt aroma, primarily roasted malt, with just a touch of caramel sweetness. Some notes of chocolate and coffee, but not too bitter or astringent. Some subtle esters from the American ale yeast, which combined with the malts come across as dark fruit. A wildly inviting aroma.
  • Shop Steam Freak KitsAppearance – Dense, tan head that holds over time fairly well. Very dark brown color, nearly opaque. Some light brown highlights around the edges, just as a stout should be.
  • Flavor – Primarily roasted malt and coffee flavors, supported by subtle malty sweetness. The beer is bitter without being over the top or astringent. Hop flavor is minimal. Some ester character is present. The beer tastes a little young, so it will be interesting to see how it changes over the coming weeks. (Added Note: It has now been 5 weeks since bottling, and the flavors have come together beautifully. The maltiness rolls into the roasted/coffee, then finishes with the hops.)
  • Mouthfeel – Medium bodied. Slight astringency from roasted malts.
  • Overall – This beer’s pretty darn good! It’s a flavorful dark beer with subtle coffee flavors, but not as heavy as something like Guinness. I look forward to sharing it with family and friends!

 

So would I make any changes to this partial mash recipe kit? Two things come to mind:

  1. Shop Wort AeratorThis is more of a personal preference than anything else. I wouldn’t mind a little American hop character in the aroma. Maybe just dry hopping for a few days with a half-ounce or so of Cascade or Nugget hops would do the trick.
  1. I’d also like to explore how to get a more assertive coffee aroma. Would brewing the coffee hot make a difference? Several brewers recommend the cold-brew method, so I’m not sure whether that would be an improvement. Maybe increasing the roasted malt from 8 ounces to 12 would help. Another option would be to increase the amount of coffee added to the coffee stout, or even try aging the beer directly on the ground or whole beans.

 

All told, I think this coffee stout partial mash beer kit turned out great! Luckily I have these comments in my homebrewing notes, so the next time I brew a coffee stout, I’ll know exactly what to do to make it even better.

Which Steam Freak homebrew beer kit would you like to try?

Part I – Brewing a Coffee Stout
Part II – Brew Day, Partial Mash Shop Liquid Malt Extract
Part III – Adding Coffee, Priming
Part IV – Final Tasting Notes
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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.

7 Belgian Beer Recipes That Nailed It!

What you can make with Belgian Beer RecipesBelgian beers have become all the rage in the United States. Some might even credit them as inspiring the American craft beer movement. Belgian-style beers are characterized by the use of Belgian beer yeast, which produces a wide range of fruity and spicy notes that often make Belgian beers wine-like in their complexity. If you’re a fan of Belgian beers, here’s 7 Belgian beer recipes you should try right away:

 

  1. Rochefort 8 Clone (All-Grain) – Rochefort is one of the Trappist breweries in Belgium. The monks at Rochefort have been making beer since medieval times and are credited with making some of the best beer in the world. Rochefort 8 is a dark brown, rich with flavors of dark fruit, and 9.2% ABV.
  1. Westmalle Tripel Clone (All-Grain & Extract) – Westmalle is another Belgian Trappist brewery, founded in 1794. Westmalle Tripel is golden in color with a complex fruity, herbal, and floral character.
  1. Belgian Saison Beer Recipe (All-Grain & Extract) – This is a classic Belgian saison recipe, brewed with orange peel and coriander. Some flaked oats give the beer body while brown sugar helps give the beer a dry finish. Feel free to switch out the spices with others such as lemongrass or grains of paradise to create your own interpretation of the style!Shop Beer Flavorings
  1. Blue Moon Clone Recipe (All-Grain & Partial Mash) – OK purists – I know Blue Moon isn’t actually a Belgian beer, but it’s modeled off of Belgian witbier. This Belgian beer recipe is a good option for those just starting to explore Belgian beer styles.
  1. Belgian Abbey Single (Extract) – At 4.5% ABV, this beer might be considered a Belgian table beer. In other words, a beer that’s low enough in alcohol to be served in a big pitcher on the table and consumed throughout the day. But this beer is still packed full of flavor. The Saaz hops play exceptionally well with the Wyeast Belgian Abbey Ale yeast.
  1. Belgian Lambic (Extract) – Belgium is known for a wide range of sour beers, including lambic. Belgian brewers would often ferment their beer with open fermentation, which would expose the beer to wild yeast and bacteria. In the case of lambic, the beer is made sour from a lactobacillus bacterial culture. Homebrewers don’t have to practice open fermentation; Wyeast offers a lactic blend that eliminates the guesswork of open fermentation.
  1. Cranberry “Lambic” (All-Grain) – One problem with brewing sour beers is that rogue yeast and bacteria can cause problems when brewing non-sour beers. This Belgian beer recipe uses cranberries to create the sour sensations, but a traditional ale yeast that’s much more predictable.Shop Beer Recipe Kits

 

Brew these Belgian beer recipes and soon you’ll be a master of brewing Belgian beer styles!

What styles or Belgian beer recipes would you like to see added to the list?
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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.

Brewing A Coffee Stout Beer Kit – Part Two

Partial Mash BrewingThis weekend I brewed my latest homebrew recipe kit from E. C. Kraus: Captain Cogsworth Coffee Stout.

Though I often brew all-grain, I enjoy other methods of making beer. For example I like partial mash brewing for a number of reasons. For one, partial mash brewing takes less time. I can usually do a partial mash brew in about four hours, as apposed to six for all-grain, cleaning and sanitation steps included. Most of the time savings come from eliminating the mash and lauter steps. Bringing the wort to a boil is faster too, since you’re dealing with about half as much liquid. It’s also nice that after steeping the grains you only have to dispose of half a pound of grain, not twelve, and there’s no mash tun to clean out.

When I brew partial mash brewing kits, I will sometimes make small adjustments to the recipe in the box. For this coffee stout beer kit, I added a little extra base malt to the steeping grains for a more grainy malt flavor and a little diastatic power. The extra grains may contribute some extra body and mouthfeel as well.

The first step in partial mash brewing (after cleaning and sanitation, of course) was steeping the specialty grains. I used pure RO water from the store. After about 20 minutes at 150°F, it was time to bring the wort to a boil.Shop Steam Freak Kits

This is the point where malt extract is added to the wort. Regardless of whether brewing on the stove or on a gas burner, I always turn off the heat before adding the malt extract. This helps prevent a boil over. After adding the malt extract, the wort smelled glorious! A lot like hot cocoa.

After bringing the wort to a boil, I added the first round of hops, in the case of this Cogsworth coffee Stout, one ounce of Northern Brewer. Thirty minutes later, I added the rest of the hops: one ounce Tettnanger. With 15 minutes left in the one-hour boil, I added a couple additional ingredients that weren’t called for in the beer recipe with this kit: Irish moss and yeast nutrient. In my experience, these can help with clarity and fermentation, and I’ve simply gotten into the habit of adding them to every brew.

As with bringing wort to a boil, chilling a wort with the partial mash brewing method is much faster. I was able to chill the wort with my immersion wort chiller in basically half the time compared to doing a full wort boil. After that, all I did was pour about two gallons of water into my sanitized fermenter, pour the wort on top, top off to five gallons, and then stir to mix and aerate. Sometimes I will top off a little more than five gallons just to account for losses in trub.

Shop Wort ChillersSo far, the partial mash brewing directions that came with this brew kit have worked well. I took a quick hydrometer sample (1.059 – right on target!), pitched the yeast, and in a couple weeks I’ll be ready to add the coffee! Based on how the coffee smells…I’m excited!

 

Part I – Brewing a Coffee Stout
Part II – Brew Day, Partial Mash
Part III – Adding Coffee, Priming
Part IV – Final Tasting Notes

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

Brewing A Coffee Stout Beer Kit – Part One

Coffee Stout Beer KitCoffee and beer have become a natural combination in the beer world. There are versions by Sam Adams, New Belgium, and nearly every other craft brewer out there. In the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America 12-pack, a coffee milk stout was one of the most highly rated beers in the variety pack.

In brewing, coffee is most often paired with stout. It’s a style that’s robust enough for winter, and if you enjoy coffee as much as I do, it’s a beer you can drink again and again.

Which leads me to why my next brew is the Steam Freak’s Captain Cogsworth Coffee Stout Beer Kit. Here’s the recipe from the ingredient kit I’ll be brewing:

 

Steam Freak Captain Cogsworth Coffee Stout Beer Kit
(Extract with specialty grains, five-gallon batch)

Specifications
Style: American Stout with Coffee
Target OG: 1.060
Target FG: 1.016
Target ABV: 5.5%
IBUs (Bitterness): 46
SRM (Color): 36

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. Dark Liquid Malt Extract Shop Coffee Stout Beer Kit
1.0 lbs. Dark Dried Malt Extract
4 oz. Caramel 60°L malt
4 oz. Roasted barley
8 oz. Chocolate malt
1 oz. Northern Brewer hops at :60
1 oz. Tettnanger hops at :30
1 packet Fermentis Safale US-05

Also included in this kit:

 

Planning How To Brew This Beer Ingredient Kit

You might be wondering how exactly the coffee should be added to this coffee stout beer kit recipe. Should it be added to the boil? To the fermenter? There are several ways to do it. Each will give the beer a different coffee character. I’d advise against adding the coffee to the boil, unless throwing it in at the very end. It probably won’t ruin the beer, but adding the coffee during the boil might give the beer too much of a bitter, astringent taste.

The E. C. Kraus kit directions recommends adding the coffee at bottling time. Though making hot coffee will be the quickest and easiest way, cold brewed coffee offers an opportunity for rich coffee flavor while minimizing added bitterness. To do this, I’ll need to prepare the coffee in advance.

To make cold brew coffee, mix the ground coffee with water about 24 hours in advance. You generally mix cold brew coffee with 1/2-1/3 less water than you would making a regular batch. I’ll plan on mixing the 3 oz. of coffee that comes with this coffee stout beer kit with about 18 oz. of pre-boiled, pre-chilled, filtered water.

Shop Fridge MonkeyI’m no barista, but I like to think I have a pretty good nose for coffee. I opened the bag of coffee to give it a whiff – boy am I excited to brew this batch! Stay tuned to see how this coffee stout beer recipe goes!

 

Part I – Brewing a Coffee Stout
Part II – Brew Day, Partial Mash
Part III – Adding Coffee, Priming
Part IV – Final Tasting Notes
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

5 Session Beer Recipe Kits

Friends Drinking Sessionable BeersIf you spent the winter brewing barley wines, double IPAs, and other high gravity beers, you may be ready for a change of pace. A session beer could be just what you need. As an easy way to get you started, below are 5 session beer recipe kits using extract and partial grains.

 

What are session beers?

Session beers are lower gravity ales and lagers that you can drink repeatedly without getting too buzzed. In other words, you can enjoy a few over a session of drinking. They are highly drinkable (or “sessionable”) beers that are good for a variety of occasions.

But session beers are more than just booze to guzzle down. A session beer recipe should add flavor, too. Beer writer Lew Bryson, founder of the Session Beer Project, gives the session beer definition as following:

  • 4.5% alcohol by volume or less
  • flavorful enough to be interesting
  • balanced enough for multiple pints
  • conducive to conversation
  • reasonably priced

 

Shop Steam Freak KitsAre you ready to brew some session beer recipes? Here are five recipe kits you can craft in your home brewery.

  • Steam Freak High-Flyin’ Derwitzer Wheat – This extract recipe kit creates a golden yellow, German-style wheat beer, also known as a Bavarian hefeweizen. It’s a very easy beer to brew, with bready malt flavor and banana/clove characteristics from the yeast strain. Target alcohol content is 4% ABV.
  • Brewers Best English Pale Ale – This five-gallon recipe kit makes an English pale ale in the range of 4.25-4.5% alcohol. Similar to what you might find in an English pub, it features caramel malt flavor, about 30-33 IBUs of hop bitterness, and pleasing, English hop flavor and aroma.
  • Brewcraft Premium Series Northlands Nut Brown Ale – With about 4.1% ABV and a smooth, nutty flavor, this nut brown ale is the ultimate session beer recipe kit. A variety of specialty grains, including chocolate malt, caramel malt, and Munich malt, create a rich nutty-chocolatey flavor that goes down easy. English hops round it out with about 25 IBUs and a balanced hop flavor.Shop Home Brew Starter Kit
  • Steam Freak Bazz Pale Ale (Bass Pale Ale Clone) – Based on one of the beers that made Burton-on-Trent a world-famous brewing city, Bazz Pale Ale features a big dose of caramel malt flavor balanced by European hops. The English yeast strain included in the kit ferments quickly and clean. 33 IBUs, 4% ABV. Of this five, this is my favorite session beer recipe kit.
  • Brewers Best Irish Stout – Not all stouts are heavy and high-gravity. Brew a sessionable stout beer with this partial mash kit. Roasted barley and black patent give this beer a dark color and roasty flavor. Shoot for an original gravity in the ballpark of 1.046 to keep the alcohol content around 4.5% ABV.

 

Do you have a favorite session beer you like to brew? Do you have a session beer recipe kit that is your favorite? 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.

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. Boulevard Brewing Company throws some cardamom and lavender into their Two Jokers Double Wit. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when brewing your Belgian witbier!

 

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.

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.