Oak Aged Imperial IPA: No Barrel Needed!

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

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

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

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Summer Beer Recipe: Making Radler Beer

Radler BeerHow would you react if someone suggested that you cut your beer with lemonade or soda? Would you raise your eyebrows in shock? Gasp with horror? Well, that’s how you make a radler beer.

In many parts of the world, mixing beer is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, many years ago in the US, it wasn’t uncommon to hear of people drinking shandy – a mix of beer with soda or another non-alcoholic beverage. Though shandy all but disappeared in the late 20th century, in recent years it has made a comeback as beer drinkers continue to search out new and exciting alcoholic beverages.

 

What is a Radler Beer?

In Germany, one of the popular beer-soda hybrids is known as radler. Radler means “cyclist”, and legend has it that radler was invented by an innkeeper who when faced with a beer shortage, blended his beer with a lemon soda and marketed it as a thirst-quenching, low-alcohol alternative for bicyclists who passed by his establishment.

Making radler at home is a fun experiment for blending homebrew. There are a couple ways to do it:

  1. Brew a beer and a lemon soda, bottling them separately, and then blend them together in the glass, or:
  2. Brew the beer and the lemon soda, blending them in secondary and bottling or kegging them together.

If you’re just starting out with radler, I’d recommend the first option. This way, you can control the ratio and blend the two together just the way you like it. But if you’re serving for a large group, the second option may be more convenient.

Traditional radler is made with about a 50/50 blend of pilsner beer and lemonade or lemon soda. A popular variation is made with hefeweizen in place of the pilsner.

To make your own radler beer, follow the instructions below.

 

How to Make a Radler Beer Shop Steam Freak Kits

  1. Brew a batch of your favorite pilsner or hefeweizen. Some beers you might try include American Platinum Lager, High-Flyin’ Derwitzer Wheat, or Pilsner Urkel. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try using a pale ale or IPA as your base beer.
  2. Bottle or keg this beer as you normally would.
  3. When the beer is finished and you’re ready to make a radler, brew up a batch of sparkling lemonade:

Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Mix in 3/4 cup lemon juice. Cool the mixture in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, mix in 1 can club soda. (If you have a draft system, you can also force carbonate your lemon soda. In this case, you can scale up the batch and force carbonate like you would any homebrew.)

  1. When ready to serve, blend the beer with the lemon soda into a glass at about a 50/50 ratio. Adjust to taste. Optionally, serve with ice and a slice of lemon and enjoy your delicious summer sipper!

This is just a basic radler beer recipe. There are many ways to make a radler beer. The options are only limited by your imagination. Shop Draft Systems

 

Have you every tried a radler beer? How do you make your radler beers? Do you have a favorite radler beer recipe? Share it in the comment section below…

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

Belgian Abbey Single Recipe (Extract with Specialty Grains)

Glass Of Home Brewed Abbey SingleIf you’re a fan of Belgian Abbey beers, you’ve probably heard of dubbel, tripel, and witbier. But what about Belgian Abbey single? If you like these beers you’ll love brewing the Belgian Abbey single recipe below.

You may have a hard time finding a beer in Belgium called single. You’re more likely to hear it referred to as table beer or just Belgian ale. But with the stronger Belgian ales referred to as dubbel and tripel, many American brewers have grown accustomed to calling the most sessionable one a single.

These Belgian pale ales are routinely brewed for daily consumption, often by monks. They are usually about 5% ABV, pale or light amber in color, and very complex and aromatic due to fruity and spicy characteristic from Belgian ale yeast. A single is the type of beer you might enjoy with lunch. As such, it shouldn’t be too heavy or alcoholic, but still features the aromatic complexities of Belgian ale yeast. Two of the best American interpretations I’ve come across are made by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and Starr Hill.
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Raspberry Blonde Ale Recipe (Partial Mash)

Raspberry Blonde AleBrewing a well-balanced fruit beer, such as this raspberry blonde ale recipe, is no easy feat. You want enough fruit flavor to be able to taste it, but not so much that it overpowers the beer. And how do you even get fruit flavor in the beer in the first place?

An easy way to add fruit flavor to your beer is to use a fruit extract, but many homebrewers prefer to work with whole fruit to get a more natural flavor. The fruit is usually added to the secondary fermenter for several days to a couple weeks. For best results, blanch the berries in hot (160˚F) water for a minute or so before adding them to the fermenter. This will sanitize them and reduce the likelihood of introducing foreign microbes to your beer.

Another alternative is to use raspberry fruit concentrate, though this will likely introduce significantly more color and fermentables to the beer than the whole fruit. This will result some some kind of beer-wine hybrid (which may not be a bad thing!).

The recipe below is based on an American blonde ale. When brewing fruit beers, lightly colored and lightly hopped beers work well as a “clean slate” to showcase the characteristics of the fruit. That said, raspberries work well in other styles too, including porter, stout, and lambic.

Ready to give this raspberry blonde ale recipe a try? Happy brewing!

 

Raspberry Blonde Ale Recipe
(five-gallon recipe, partial mash)

Specs 
OG: 1.048
FG: 1.012
ABV: 4.7%
IBUs: 15
SRM: 4

Ingredients 
3.3 lbs. wheat liquid malt extract
2 lbs. light dry malt extract
1 lb. American two-row malt (milled)
.5 lb. flaked oats
1 oz. Saaz hops at :60
1 oz. Saaz hops at :30Shop Steam Freak Kits
1 packet Safale US-05: American Ale Yeast
2.5 lbs. frozen raspberries

Directions

Steep the two-row malt and flaked oats in 1 gallon of clean, chlorine-free water at 148˚F. After 30 minutes, strain the wort into a five-gallon brew pot. Add enough water, along with the malt extracts, to make a three-gallon boil. Boil wort for 60 minutes, adding hops according to schedule above. At the end of the boil, cool wort in an ice bath and/or with an immersion wort chiller. Pour about two gallons of distilled water into a clean, sanitized fermenter. Add the wort to the fermenter, plus enough distilled water to make 5.5 gallons. Stir well to aerate, pitch yeast, and ferment at 68˚F for about 7 days.

After primary fermentation, prepare the raspberries by blanching in hot (160˚F) water for a few minutes, then add them to the secondary fermenter. Rack the beer on top of the raspberries, then wait 2-3 weeks. Rack the beer one more time before bottling or kegging to separate it from the fruit…and enjoy!

Want to learn more about adding fruit to your homebrewed beer? Read: A Simple Guide to Making Fruit Beers!

Do you have a raspberry blonde ale recipe you’d like to share? Just leave it in the comments below.

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

Easy American Wheat Beer Homebrew Recipe (Extract w/ Grains)

Man Holding Wheat BeerSince we’re in the clutches of the summer heat, an American wheat beer may be something you want to consider brewing. It’s a pale, refreshing beer exhibiting the soft, somewhat sweet, grainy flavor of wheat. A typical American wheat beer recipe will produce a beer with low to moderate alcohol content and a low to moderate hop character. It’s a sessionable, easy-drinking beer that you’ll enjoy in spite of the summer heat. Some popular examples of this style include Bell’s Oberon, Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat, and Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale.

The defining characteristic of American wheat beer is the use of — you guessed it — wheat. Wheat is an adjunct grain often used for flavor, body, and head retention. Extract brewers will find it easiest to use wheat malt extract. All-grain and partial mash brewers mash want to consider adding rice hulls to their mash, as the higher protein in wheat can sometimes lead to a stuck mash. Read Brewing with Wheat for more information on working with this special grain.

Unlike German hefeweizen, American wheat beer does not show the banana/clove combination of flavors from hefeweizen yeast. American yeast is more appropriate, allowing the subtle flavors of hops and grains to come through. The “Chico” strain of yeast is the classic choice for an American wheat bee recipe, but of course you’re welcome to experiment with any style of yeast you like.

The soft, subtle texture of American wheat beer makes it a great candidate as a base for fruit beer. Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry and apricot are all good options. Read A Simple Guide to Making Fruit Beers for some tips on how to add fruit to your homebrew.

Read to brew up a cool, refreshing American wheat beer? Try the recipe below, or consider brewing the Brewer’s Best American Pale Wheat beer kit.

Happy brewing!

 

shop_liquid_malt_extractAmerican Wheat Beer Recipe
(5-gallon batch, extract with grains)

Specs
OG: 1.052
FG: 1.012
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: 21
SRM: 4.5

Ingredients 
6.6 lbs. Steam Freak Wheat LME
1 lb. Briess pilsner malt
.5 lb. flaked wheat
1.5 oz. Willamette hops at :60
shop_hops.5 oz. Cascade hops at :0
1 pack Safale US-05 ale yeast

Directions 
Heat three gallons of clean, chlorine-free water to 150˚F. Place crushed pilsner malt and flaked wheat in a muslin grain bag and steep for 30 minutes. Remove grains and stir in liquid malt extract. Bring wort to a boil, keeping an eye on the kettle to avoid a boil over. At the start of the 60-minute boil, add the Willamette hops. At the end of the boil, remove kettle from heat, add the Cascade hops, and immediately start to chill the wort using an ice bath or an immersion wort chiller. Bring wort to 80˚F or below and mix in enough cool, chlorine-free water to make five gallons of wort. Stir well to aerate, then pitch yeast. Ferment at 68-70˚F for 2-3 weeks, then bottle or keg.

Are you a fan of wheat beers? Do you have an American wheat beer recipe you’d like to share 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.

From White Stout to Black IPA: Four Homebrew Mash-Up Recipes

MashUp BeerOne of the most rewarding aspects of homebrewing is creating your own homebew recipes. This creativity has led to a berth of new beer styles, from black IPAs to white stouts.

Sometimes, creating an altogether new beer styles is as easy as switching out a single ingredient in an existing recipe, turning it into a homebrew mash-up recipe of sorts. Here are four recipe ideas to help you brew outside the box.

 

White Stout Homebrew Recipe

A few craft breweries have released something called a white stout in recent years. A prominent example of this is James Page brewey. But what is a white stout exactly?

There’s still some debate about what defines a white stout, but from what I gather, it’s basically a strong, pale beer. (Back when most beers were dark, strong beers were called stout.) You could try to create the illusion of roasted flavor in the white stout by adding some whole roasted coffee beans to the secondary fermenter. Use this homebrew mash-up recipe as a starting point, optionally adding 8 oz. of whole (not ground) coffee beans to the secondary fermenter.

 

Belgian IPA Homebrew Recipe

India Pale Ales are an English creation, but I think it’s safe to say that the style has been popularized by American craft brewers and spread throughout the world. It’s not surprising then that we’ve seen a multitude of mash-up variations on the style, including a Belgian spin. A Belgian IPA recipe basically swaps the American or English ale yeast for a Belgian strain, which brings in a range of fruity and spicy characteristics to the beer. Some recipes may also include other throwbacks to traditional Belgian beer styles, like candi sugar, spices, wheat, or oats. For starters, give this Brewers Best Belgian IPA recipe kit a try.

 

Black Saison Homebrew Recipe

Shop Brew KettlesSeveral craft breweries have jumped on the black saison bandwagon, not the least of which include Stone, Stillwater, and Evil Twin. Their 2012 collaboration, “The Perfect Crime”, wasn’t only dark, it was smoked as well. Their mash-up version contains quite a range of malts in the grain bill: pilsner, red wheat, carafa III, oats, biscuit malt, and smoked wheat. For your first black saison, I’d suggest starting with a Belgian Saison recipe kit and adding up to a pound of carafa III or midnight wheat to get the color you need.

 

Black IPA Homebrew Recipe

Probably the one homebrew mash-up recipe that has taken off the most, the black IPA features a wonderful combination of roasted malt and spicy hop flavor. I would wager that my Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA clone is one of the best beers I’ve ever brewed. Give that recipe a shot, or try one of the partial mash recipe kits from Steam Freak or Brewcraft.

 

Do you like to mash together beer recipes into something new? Do you have a favorite homebrew mash-up recipe you’d like to share?

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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.

Heady Topper Double IPA Clone Recipe

Heady Topper Double IPAThe Alchemist’s Heady Topper is one of the most coveted beers in America. Beer fans drive from all over the country for the chance to get “Heady” straight from the brewery in Waterbury, VT, and it’s not uncommon for people to line up for hours outside their favorite beer retailer in anticipation of a delivery of this ridiculously hoppy American Double IPA.

With any beer this popular, homebrewers naturally want to clone it. On the homebrewing website HomebrewTalk, there’s one thread with nearly 3000 comments from people trying to develop their own Heady Topper recipe!

Luckily, I have a friend who has brewed several batches to dial in his own Heady Topper double IPA clone recipe. When I visited him last winter, we did a side-by-side blind tasting and the two beers were nearly indistinguishable. With his permission, I’ve shared the recipe below. But first, some considerations.

 

Yeast

Many homebrewers believe that the single most important part of cloning this beer is to use the same yeast as the Alchemist uses in Heady Topper, but since it’s a proprietary strain, this is easier said than done. One option is to harvest yeast from a can of Heady (see How to Harvest Yeast from a Commercial Beer), but even obtaining a can of Heady can be a challenge. There are a few boutique yeast shops that offer cultured strains of the famous “Conan” yeast. The easiest option is to use a similar strain. I’ve included Wyeast’s London Ale 1028 as a substitute. Just be sure to build a yeast starter!

 

Hops

This beer uses a lot of hops! Most of them are added at the end of the boil during the whirlpool. If you read our recent post about hop oils, you know that many of the aromatic oils are driven off at higher temperatures. To preserve those oils, allow the wort to cool slightly before adding the whirlpool hops. If your brew kettle has a ball valve, you may want to invest in a torpedo screen to prevent all those hops from clogging it.

Ready to brew this Heady Topper Clone? Try this all-grain recipe, or use the partial mash option below. Happy brewing!

 

Sam’s Heady Topper Double IPA Clone Recipe
(5-gallon batch, all-grain)

Specs
OG: 1.078
FG: 1.017
ABV: 8%
IBUs: 120+
SRM: 6-7

Ingredients

MALT:

HOPS – This beer uses a lot of hops! You’ll need a total of:

2.5 oz. Summit at :60
.25 oz. Amarillo at :5
.25 oz. Cascade at :5
.25 oz. Centennial at :5
.25 oz. Summit at :5
1.5 oz. Centennial at :0
1 oz. Summit at :0
.5 oz. Citra at :0
.25 oz. Cascade at :0
.25 oz. Amarillo at :0
.75 oz. Centennial, dry-hopped for 8 days
.5 oz. Citra, dry-hopped for 8 days
.5 oz. Summit, dry-hopped for 8 days
.5 oz. Amarillo, dry-hopped for 8 days
.5 oz. Centennial, dry-hopped for 4 days
.5 oz. Cascade, dry-hopped for 4 days
.5 oz. Summit, dry-hopped for 4 days

YEAST:

“Conan” yeast harvested from a can of Heady Topper or Wyeast 1028: London Ale – prepare a 2L starter

Directions
Mash crushed grains in about 6 gallons of clean, chlorine-free water at 150˚F for 60 minutes. Sparge to collect about 7 gallons of wort in the kettle, then bring wort to a boil. Add hops according to schedule above. For the 0 minute additions, add the hops gradually after cutting off the heat, allowing the hops to steep in the wort as you chill it down, at least 30 minutes, or for as long as an hour. When the wort temperature reaches 68˚F, transfer to a fermenter and pitch the yeast starter. Ferment for 7 days at 68˚F, then pitch first round of dry hops. After 4 days, transfer to secondary fermenter and pitch second round of dry hops. After four days, bottle or keg. Beer will be ready to drink in 1-2 weeks.

Partial Mash Option: Replace the two-row and pilsner malts with 9 lbs. light DME. If boiling in a five-gallon kettle, add half the DME at the end of the boil.

Do you have a Heady Topper double IPA clone recipe you’d like to share? Just leave it in the comments below.

Looking for more super hoppy beer recipes? Try the Uinta Dubhe Clone and the Ithaca Flower Power Clone!

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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.

Recipe of the Week: Hennepin Clone by Brewery Ommegang

Hennepin BeerAmong the best Belgian-style brewers in America, Brewery Ommegang stands out as one of the first breweries of the modern craft beer movement to specialize in brewing Belgian beer. Founded in 1997 in Cooperstown, NY, it produces such amazing beers as Rare Vos and Three Philosophers, as well as a series of beers inspired by the hit HBO show Game of Thrones.

Named for the first European to “discover” Niagara Falls, Hennepin is a farmhouse saison, bright gold, dry, and spicy, with an alcohol content of 7.7% ABV. It uses Belgian candi sugar to increase the alcohol content while maintaining a dry finish, and exotic spices like ginger and orange peel to create a complexity that might cause one to compare it to a dry, floral, white wine.

If this sounds like something you’d like to brew, read on for a recipe! This Hennepin clone recipe comes from the October 2002 issue of Brew Your Own Magazine.

 

Hennepin Clone Beer Recipe
(5-gallon batch, extract)

OG: 1.070
FG: 1.008
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: 24

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. Muntons light malt extract syrup (use two 3.3 lb. cans)
0.5 lb. light malt extract powder
2 lbs. light candi sugar (use two 16 oz. packages)
1.25 oz. Styrian Gold hops at :60
1 tsp. Irish moss at :15
1 oz. dried ginger root at :15
1 oz. bitter orange peel at :15Shop Beer Flavorings
0.5 oz Saaz hops at :2
Wyeast 1762: Belgian Abbey ale yeast or Mangrove Jack’s Belgian ale yeast
0.75 cups priming sugar

 

Directions

Dissolve the malt extract and candi sugar in three gallons of hot (not boiling) water. Bring to a boil, then add the Styrian Gold hops and Irish moss. Boil for 45 minutes, then add the ginger root and orange peel. Boil for 15 more minutes, adding the Saaz hops during the last two minutes of the boil.

Cool wort to 80˚F or below and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Add enough clean, filtered water to make 5.5 gallons. Stir well to mix and aerate, then pitch yeast when wort is about 70-75˚F. Ferment at 68-70˚F until complete. Optionally, transfer to a secondary fermenter after about 5-7 days.

On bottling day, dissolve priming sugar in two cups hot water, allow to cool to room temperature, and pour into a clean, sanitized bottling bucket. Transfer wort to bottling bucket, leaving behind any yeast sediment in the fermenter. Fill bottles and cap, then condition for 2-3 weeks. Serve in a stemmed goblet or chalice glass.

 

All-grain directions:

Substitute the malt extracts with 7 lbs. pilsner malt and 2 lbs. pale malt. When mashing, perform a step mash: 30 minutes at 122˚F and 60 minutes at 152˚F. Sparge and lauter, mixing candi sugar into the wort in the boil kettle. Reduce the first hop addition to one ounce, then proceed with recipe above.

 

What makes this Hennepin clone recipe so special is that it is a little off the beaten path. It a unique beer that is produced in a unique style. This makes it a fun brew to make. Oh, and did I mention it tastes outstanding!

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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.

How To Make Your Own Root Beer (Two Recipes)

Mug Of Homemade Root BeerIf you grew up in the US, chances are you have fond memories of A&W and Barq’s – there’s just nothing like the woody, spicy taste of root beer.

Think of the name “root” beer – traditionally it is actually made with a variety of roots, herbs, and spices that contribute flavor and color to the concoction. Among the common ones are wintergreen, vanilla, ginger, licorice, anise, birch, burdock, and sarsaparilla, to name a few.

When making your own root beer, trial and error will help you figure out what methods and ingredients you like best.

 

How to Make Homemade Root Beer

This version of root beer is a soda. Due to the fact that the root beer is bottle conditioned, there’s a small amount (less than 0.5% ABV) of alcohol present in the beer, but not enough to get much of a buzz.

The flavoring in this root beer recipe comes from Zatarain’s Root Beer Extract and makes the brewing process very simple. The most important thing is to halt the fermentation when the carbonation is correct by refrigerating the root beer. Otherwise, bottles could explode.

Feel free to scale this root beer recipe for a larger or smaller batch.

 

Zatarain’s Root Beer Recipe
(5-gallon batch)

Ingredients
1, four-ounce bottle Root Beer Extract
5 gallons of warm, filtered water
3-4 lbs. sugar
5 grams dried beer yeast dissolved in warm water

Directions
Fill a bottling bucket with five gallons of warm (not hot), filtered water. Dissolve sugar in water, then add root beer extract and hydrated beer yeast. Mix well, then bottle in about 53 cleaned and sanitized 12-oz. beer bottles. Cap securely and age bottles at room temperature for 24 hours. Open a bottle and check for appropriate carbonation. If more time is needed, check again every 8-12 hours until desired carbonation is achieved. When desired carbonation is reached, store bottles in a refrigerator to prevent further fermentation.

 

How to Make Alcoholic Root BeerShop Root Beer Extract

For those who want to make a “grown-up” or more traditional version of root beer, the technique gets a little more interesting. Instead of a root beer extract, this recipe uses a mix of herbs and spices to achieve the right blend of flavors. Many of them can be found at natural or health food stores in the bulk section. And instead of large amounts of sugar remaining in the root beer, we’ll use malt extract and brew like we would a normal beer. Just keep in mind that because we’re allowing the beer to ferment, hard root beer won’t taste as sweet as what you buy from the store. However, lactose sugar, caramel malt, and Carapils malt help keep the residual sweetness on the higher end.

 

“Hard” Root Beer Recipe
(5-gallon batch, partial mash)

Specs
OG: 1.068
FG: 1.023
ABV: 5.9%
SRM: 28

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. dark LME
1 lb. dark DME
1 lb. caramel 90 malt
1 lb. Carapils malt
1 lb. lactose sugar
4 oz. dried sarsaparilla root
2 oz. dried burdock root
2 oz. dried spikenard root
1 oz. dried wintergreen leaves
1 oz. vanilla extract
0.5 oz. dried licorice root
1 oz. hops (any variety)
1 pack ale yeast

 

Directions
Steep crushed grains in one gallon of water at 155˚F for one hour. Strain out from wort, then mix in malt extract and enough water to make 2.5 to 5 gallons of wort, depending on the size of your brew kettle. Add herbs, spices, and hops and boil for 30 minutes. Strain out herbs and spices and mix in lactose sugar. If needed, top off with enough clean, filtered water to make five gallons. Cool and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter and ferment until complete. Bottle or keg as you would otherwise.

That’s how you make your own root beer. As you can see either of these recipes are not all that difficult, and the first recipe would be great to do with the kids.

Interested in trying other homemade root beer and soda recipes? Check out the book Homemade Root Beer Soda and Pop.
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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.

The Perfect Beer Recipe for Spring: Honey Blonde Ale (Partial Mash)

Homebrew made from a Honey Blonde Ale recipe.With spring already here, it’s time yet again to start thinking about the summer brew schedule. Want that homebrew ready for the canoe trip in June? Better start brewing by the end of April or early May. One good candidate for a warm weather beer is a honey blonde ale.

A blonde ale is simply that – a beer that’s golden straw in color, and for BJCP purposes, includes such styles as Kölsch and cream ale. Blonde ales are typically low to moderate in gravity, often resulting in an ABV of about 4% to 5.5%. Bitterness is usually on the low end, around 15-25 IBUs. Flavor wise, blonde ales feature notes of pilsner malt, often serving as a good backdrop for flavor additions. I’ve had a few good strawberry blonde ales, but in this case, honey offers the suggestion of sweet floral character, while the beer remains crisp and dry — perfect for warm weather.

The honey blond ale recipe below yields a brew that’s very pale in color, light in body, yet supported by malty flavor and notes of honey. Bitterness is fairly low at just 20 IBUs, with just a little hop flavor and aroma from the English classic, East Kent Goldings hops. This is a low alcohol brew that will be perfect for lounging outdoors or enjoying on the boat. (If you’re looking for something a little stronger, you might try this imperial blonde ale recipe kit.)

As for the honey, the best thing to do is to add at the end of the boil. The idea is to preserve some of the delicate aromatics and flavor components in the honey (same idea as adding hops in at the whirlpool). The honey flavor is supported with half a pound of honey malt in the mini-mash. Feel free to also use honey for priming.

Be sure to ferment this one within the temperature range of the yeast, maybe giving the beer a little extra time at cooler temperatures to help it clean up. Kölsch yeast is a good alternative to the Ringwood ale yeast in this particular beer recipe.

Ready to brew? Go get ‘em!

 

Honey Blonde Ale Recipe (Partial Mash)
(5-gallon batch)

Specs

  • OG: 1.044
  • FG: 1.013
  • ABV: 4%
  • IBUs: 20
  • SRM: 5

Ingredients

Directions 
shop_home_brew_starter_kitThis is a partial-mash recipe, so start off my mashing the crushed grains in about 4 qts. of clean water for 60 minutes at 148˚F. Strain wort into the brew kettle and sparge with about half a gallon of 170˚F water. Add enough clean water to make about 3 gallons. Bring wort to a boil, remove kettle from heat, and mix in the liquid malt extract. Return to a boil and boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to schedule above. At end of boil, turn off heat and mix in the honey. Cool wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenting bucket. Mix in enough clean, chlorine-free water to make 5.25 gallons. Pitch yeast when wort is at 65-70˚F. Ferment at 65-70˚F for about three weeks, then bottle or keg.

Do you have a favorite beer recipe you like to brew in the spring? Do you have a Honey Blonde Ale recipe? Share them in the comments below!

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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.