5 Home Brewing Gadgets That Won’t Break The Bank!

It doesn’t take much to start making your own beer at home: a large pot, some fermenting buckets, and you’re pretty much good to go. There are a few pieces of equipment though that make a world of difference in terms of ease and time. These are a few of the home brewing gadgets that I don’t brew without – each for $40 or less:

  • The Auto SiphonAuto Siphon – The standard racking cane/siphoning hose setup will get the job done, but it’s hard to get a good flow going – if you’ve used them you know what I’m talking about. But with a pretty minor investment, the auto siphon will make racking beer from primary to secondary a piece of cake. We carry the auto siphon in both 3/8” and 1/2” hose sizes. Either will allow you to start a siphon flow by slowly pumping the auto siphon one time. It’s a home brew gadget that I’ll keep at the top of my list!
  • Assorted Funnel SetThe Funnel Set – Sure, you can get by without a funnel, but anytime you’re pouring liquid or dry ingredients from one container to another, these handy gadgets help make sure that they don’t end up all over the floor. Our funnel set lets you fill containers large and small without a hassle, plus it comes with screens for straining. As you can see will have an assortment of sizes with strain screens that snap into the two largest sizes.
  • Escali Digital ScaleThe Digital Scale – If you like to tweak and develop your own beer recipes, a digital scale is a home brewing gadget that is a “must”. It’s perfect for weighing out hops, grains, sugars, and other additions, and it helps ensure consistancy from brew to brew. Our Escali digital scale measures in ounces, grams, and pounds, has a capacity of 11 pounds or 5 kilograms, is accurate to the .05 oz., and it gives the homebrewer much more control over their craft.
  • Assorted Brush SetThe Complete Brush Set – Sound cleaning and sanitation are key to making good beer. The complete brush set includes five different brushes so you can make sure your bottles, carboys, and even airlocks are free of debris that could contaminate your beer. This brush set includes two different sized bottle brushes, a gallon jug brush, a carboy brush, and a smaller brush that’s perfect for scrubbing on the inside of airlocks and spigots. Buying the whole set saves about 20% over buying each brush individually. Anything that makes cleaning and sanitizing easier is money well spent in my book.
  • Stainless Steel Carboy and Bottle WasherThe Carboy and Bottle Washer – Again: cleaning and sanitation is essential. This home brewing gadget makes rinsing carboys and bottles a breeze. Pressing the carboy or bottle down on the lever releases a jet of water, a high pressure blast that’s much more effective than a regular rinse. We carry the washer in both stainless steel and brass. The thread fits standard outdoor and utility faucets, so get the Kitchen Faucet Thread Adapter to make it work in the kitchen.

What home brewing gadgets do you find essential? Let us know in the comments section!

Til next time…Cheers!

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

Rye Porter Beer Recipe (All-Grain)

All-Grain Brew Kettle On Stove Brewing Rye PorterSometimes it’s fun to brew outside of the BJCP style guidelines and to combine different beer styles to make something new and different – a hybrid beer style if you will. Today’s all-grain, rye porter beer recipe combines the roasted malt flavors of a porter with the spicy, tangy rye flavors of a rye pale ale.

First, let’s review some tips for brewing with rye:

  • Homebrewers can use either malted rye or rye flakes in a beer recipe, or both.
  • Rye contributes a distinctive flavor, but also body and mouthfeel.
  • Many American-style rye beers use 10-20% rye in the grain bill.
  • If using more than about 15-20% rye, consider using rice hulls to prevent a stuck mash.
  • Rye will sometime contribute haze to a beer. Review these tips for brewing a clear beer.

The rye porter beer recipe below is modeled after Sly Rye Porter from Yazoo Brewing Company (Nashville, TN), a beer the brewery describes as “a rich, chocolatey English Porter with a clean finish. Using only the finest malts, a portion of malted rye gives a spicy, slightly dry finish.”

Good luck!Shop Barely Grains

Rye Porter Beer Recipe (All-Grain)
(5.5-gallon batch)

OG: 1.057
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 31
SRM: 31

7.5 lbs. pale ale malt
1 lb. caramel 40L
1 lb. rye malt
Shop Hops1 lb. flaked rye
.75 lb. chocolate malt
.25 lb. carafa III malt .5 oz. Challenger hops at :60 (4 AAUs)
1 oz. Cascade hops at :15 (7 AAUs)
1 oz. Cascade hops at :5 (7 AAUs)
1 pack Safale US-05 American ale yeast or Wyeast 1272: American Ale II

Optionally, start with a protein rest at 122˚F for 20 minutes. Raise mash temperature to 152˚F and hold for 60 minutes. Raise temperature to 168˚F for mash out. Sparge with enough water at 168˚F to collect about 6.5 gallons of wort. Bring wort to a boil and boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to schedule above. Chill wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Pitch yeast when wort is at 70˚F or below. Ferment at 68˚F until complete.

This rye porter beer recipe has more of an American twist, using American ale beer yeast and Cascade finishing hops. It’s a tasty homebrew with a smooth body, a rich chocolate malt flavor, along with an intriguing hint of spicy, slightly tangy rye grain. This all-grain beer recipe has a touch more hop bitterness than the Sly Rye, with the Cascade finishing hops bringing in a spicy and citrusy hop character that work well with the rye.

Have you ever brewed a darker beer with rye? How did it go?
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the IBD and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

How And Why To Chill Your Wort Quickly

Wort ChillerAfter boiling your homebrew beer for an hour, you may think that you’re done. Not quite. There are still a couple more steps that can go a long way towards improving the quality of your homebrew. One of these is chilling the wort after the boil, and there are several benefits for doing it quickly. Here’s some information on why you should chill your wort quickly and how to chill your wort quickly.

There are three main reasons why we chill the wort in the first place:

  1. To reach yeast pitching temperature – The ideal pitching temperature for your beer yeast will vary depending on the style of beer you’re brewing and the yeast strain itself, but in most cases it’s in the ballpark of 70°F. Pitching too warm could cause some strange off-flavors or even worse, kill the beer yeast. Just follow the instructions on the yeast package and you’ll be fine.
  1. To coagulate protein – This is an important reason as to why you should chill your wort – to produce a quick, sharp “cold break”. Chilling the wort quickly will help the protein in the wort clump together and settle out. This reduces the amount of protein in the final product and helps to achieve a clearer, better looking brew. The faster the change in the temperature, the better the cold break. The cold break can be aided by adding 1 teaspoon of Irish Moss during the last 10-15 minutes of the boil.
  1. To reduce the risk of contamination – Warm, sugary wort is the perfect place for wild bacteria and yeast to grow. The more quickly we can get the wort from the kettle to the fermenter, the better. But don’t let this make you panic! If you chill the wort quickly and do your best to reduce exposure to the air, your beer will turn out fine.


So, now that we’ve learned reasons why to chill a wort and why it helps to do it quickly, what’s the best way to accomplish this? How do we chill a wort quickly? Homebrewers have a couple of options:

  • The wort chiller – The fastest and most effective way to chill wort quickly is with a wort chiller. An wort chiller is basically a coil of copper with a couple of hoses attached. One hose is the cold water inlet and attaches to a faucet. The other is the hot water outlet. By putting the wort chiller directly into the wort and running cold water through it, the water will pick up the heat from the wort on its way through the coil and out the other hose. This method can bring the wort to pitching temperature in as little as 20Shop Brew Kettles minutes, saving a lot of time and achieving a really good protein break. You’re likely to use a few gallons of water as you do this, so see if you can recover the hot water coming out of the wort chiller and use it for cleaning later on. There are also plate wort chillers. With these, the beer is being ran through a cold plate that is being cooled with running water.
  • The ice batch – Chilling a wort with an ice bath works best for homebrewers boiling three gallons or less (otherwise it takes too long). Simply submerge the kettle in a sink filled with ice, then fill the sink with cold water. A deep sink works best – see if you can get the top of the ice bath to be even with the top of the wort. You may need to change the water a few times to get down to pitching temperature. You can also cock the drain plug so that water is slowly draining, while water is running at the same rate from the faucet.


Now, you know how and why to chill a wort quickly. So the next time you brew, focus on making sure you chill your wort quickly. You’re likely to notice a difference in both appearance and taste.

What method do you use to chill your wort?
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.

10 Tips For Homebrew Cleaning And Sanitizing

Cleaning and sanitizing homebrew bottlesMany homebrewers will tell you that the first step to making good homebrew is to practice good cleaning and sanitizing habits. Without practicing good cleanliness, you run the risk of contamination by wild yeast and bacteria that could potentially ruin your batch of beer. While there are no known pathogens that can survive in beer, you certainly don’t want to throw a batch of homebrew down the drain because of spoilage!

But don’t worry! Cleaning and sanitation are easy to master. Before too long, it will become second nature, so invest some time and energy early in your homebrewing career to develop good habits.

Here are some homebrew cleaning and sanitizing tips to help you make sure your beer is clean, enjoyable, and free of contamination:

  1. Don’t rush through these important first steps! As tempting as it is to save time on brew or bottle day, cleaning and sanitation can make the difference between a great batch and one that gets thrown out. Also remember, it’s called cleaning and sanitation for a reason – it’s a two-step process. It’s important to clean away visible debris using a brewery specific cleaner, such as One Step Cleanser or Basic A. Follow package instructions to ensure effective sanitation.
  1. Making the most of ordinary household cleaning products may save you some money, but it’s important to know which products are transferable to the brewing world and which are not. Sanitizing homebrew equipment with unscented household bleach as an alternative sanitizer is a very effective, but it doesn’t take much – Charlie Papazian recommends using 1-2 ounces of regular, non-concentrated bleach per gallon of cold water, and soaking for about 30 minutes and allowing to dry. The biggest problem with using bleach to sanitize you equipment and bottles is that it does not rinse well. It likes to cling to surfaces. If you do use bleach, rinse thoroughly 3 times with hot water. NOTE: Do not mix bleach with other cleaners.Buy Basic A
  1. Do not use ordinary dish soap or detergent on your brewing equipment, as these can leave residues that will ruin your beer’s head retention. A good alternative is to us Five Star: Powdered Brewery Wash.
  1. Save a buck – and water – by reusing cleaning and sanitizing water when possible.
  1. Save more cash by filling a spray bottle with diluted sanitizer to spray down buckets and equipment. This uses less water than a soak, just make sure homebrew equipment gets enough contact time to ensure effective sanitation.
  1. Use non-abrasive scrubbers and brushes on plastic buckets and equipment. Scratches in the plastic are ideal hiding places for bacteria and wild yeast.


Tips for Homebrew Cleaning and Sanitizing on Bottling Day

  1. Be sure to remove the spigot from your bottling bucket before and after use and clean it well on the inside. By doing so you’re reducing the likelihood that significant “crud” will build up.
  1. If reusing beer bottles from the store or other homebrews, cleaning is much easier if you rinse well after drinking. This may seem like an obvious tip, but it can easily save a lot of time on bottling day!
  1. AShop Bottle Washer typical dishwashing machine set to the sanitize cycle can be used for sanitizing beer bottles. Make sure they are thoroughly rinsed BEFORE loading them up. A bottle washer can be attached to a standard kitchen faucet to make this process easier.
  1. Don’t forget to sanitize your bottle caps! Use the same method as you would for sanitizing other equipment.


As you brew more batches over time, you’re likely to develop your own homebrew cleaning and sanitizing tips and trick. What advice do you have for maintaining sanitation in the home brewery?

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.

Beer Recipe of the Week: Newcastle Brown Ale Clone

New Castle Brown AleConsidered by some to be the quintessential northern English brown ale, Newcastle was at one time the best-selling bottled beer in the UK. The beer, now ubiquitous throughout the US, was originally brewed in 1927 at Newcastle Upon Tyne. It’s a reddish-brown ale that highlights nutty malt flavor.

Though Newcastle is now brewed by the macro-brew powerhouse Heineken, many craft beer drinkers remember it fondly as a “gateway beer” to other traditional beer styles from around the world. Brew this Newcastle clone beer recipe and rediscover your love for brown ales!


Newcastle Brown Ale: Ingredients and Procedures

  • Malt – The key component in this brown ale is the crystal malt. The mid-range crystal 60°L malt is responsible for the nutty flavor in the beer. Small amounts of chocolate and black malt contribute color and a hint of dryness.
  • Hops – The classic English hop, East Kent Goldings, is used mostly for bitterness. Some hop flavor should be detectable, but will not overpower the malt.
  • Yeast – English ale yeast for this style of beer is essential. In the traditional brewing of this beer, the brewers would actually brew two separate beers, one high-gravity and one low-gravity. The high gravity beer would encourage the yeast to produce more fruity esters, which can then be blended down by the lower gravity beer. This is a lot of extra work for the homebrewer and is completely optional. It’s not impossible to do, but you’ll need an extra fermenter. It will be easiest if you’re using the all-grain method, taking the first runnings for a high-gravity boil, and the second runnings for the low-gravity boil. Then ferment the beers separately and blend them together at bottling time. (Again, this is completely optional.)

The beer recipe below is modified from the American Homebrewers Association. It was original printed in Zymurgy Magazine.


Newcastle Brown Ale Clone Beer RecipeShop Dried Malt Extract
(5-gallon batch, extract with specialty grains)

OG: 1.049
FG: 1.012
ABV: 4.8%
IBUs: 26
SRM: 15

5.5 lbs. light dry malt extract
12 oz. Crisp 60L crystal malt
4 oz. torrified wheat
1.5 oz. black malt
1.5 oz. Crisp chocolate maltShop Hops
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :90
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :30
1 tsp. Irish moss at :15
Wyeast 1028: London Ale or Fermentis Safale S-04: English Ale Yeast
corn sugar for priming

Heat about 3 gallons of clean, chlorine-free water to 150˚F. Place crushed grains in a grain bag and steep for 30 minutes. Discard grains and bring wort to a boil. Remove from heat, and stir in the malt extract. Return to a boil, taking care to avoid a boilover. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops and Irish moss according to schedule above. At the end of the boil, chill wort to 70˚F or boil. Add enough cool, chlorine-free water to make five gallons of wort. Mix well with a sanitized spoon to aerate, then pitch yeast. Ferment at 65-70˚F. When fermentation in complete, bottle with priming sugar and cap. Beer will be ready to drink in 2-3 weeks.

All-Grain Substitution: To brew this beer all-grain, replace the malt extract with 8 lbs. Crisp Maris Otter malt and reduce each of the hop additions to .67 oz.

Do you have a Newcastle brown ale clone beer recipe you’d like to share? Just leave it 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.

6 Tips For Fixing Your Home Brew Beer

Two Men Fixing Home BrewIf you spend a significant amount of time homebrewing, you’re bound to come across a batch or two that just didn’t turn out as good as you’d hoped. Maybe the flavor is off or your bottles aren’t carbonated enough. Before you throw in the towel and call it quits, there may be something you can do to fix your home brew beer.

Read these tips below for some ideas on how to fix the occasional “off” home brew batch:

  1. Beer too flat? If you’ve bottled a batch of homebrew and found it’s too flat, you have several options to add more bubbles to your brew. First, move the bottles into a warmer area and give them some extra time to carbonate. If after a month or so they’re still not where you want them to be, you may be able to add some extra sugar to the bottles. Use your judgment to estimate how much additional priming sugar you need to add. Hopefully, you took notes on how you primed and can make an adjustment for next time.
  1. Beer too carbonated? Beer that gushes when you open it can be a nuisance – and it can be pretty embarrassing if you’re trying to impress some friends! The best way to try to fix this home brew problem is to try is to get the bottles extra cold before opening. Either stick them in the freezer for a few minutes or put them in an ice bath. Once they’re ice cold, carefully open the bottles over the sink. If you still get a gusher, you can pour the beer into a pitcher to allow the foam to settle down.
  1. Beer too bitter? If you’ve brewed a beer that’s too bitter, it may just need some time to age. Set it aside for a month or so. The extra time can go a long ways towards getting rid of the green beer taste. As a last resort, you can blend the beer with something less bitter to bring it into balance.
  1. Beer too sour?Shop Conical Fermenter Unless you’ve deliberately brewed a sour beer, there’s not much you can do to “fix” a home brew beer that’s gone sour from infection. If you catch it early enough though, you may be able to save it. If you catch it before bottling, you can easily dose the beer with Campden tablets. Otherwise cold crash the beer to slow any microbial growth and drink quickly. Or maybe just embrace the fact that you’ve brewed your first sour beer!
  1. Beer too sweet? First we need to identify why the beer is too sweet. Was it a stuck fermentation? Maybe you can add more yeast. Or was it a problem with recipe formulation? Maybe the beer has too much lactose or caramel malt? Blending the beer with a drier batch could help balance it out. Either brew a new batch of the same beer, or try blending the beer in the glass with a complementary beer style. (Black and tan, anyone?)
  1. If at first you don’t succeed… If after doing everything you can to save an “off” batch, the beer still doesn’t stack up to your expectations, it may just be time to scrap the batch and try a new one. Remember that each batch is a learning experience. You’re unlikely to repeat the same mistake again, so keep calm and brew on!

The point here is not to get too bent out of shape if your home brew doesn’t come out as planned. Take a deep breath is see if there is any way of fixing your home brew beer.

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.

What Is Malted Barley?

Maltster making malted barley.Malted barley is one of the four essential building blocks of beer. (The other three are water, hops, and yeast.) Most commercial beer is made with malted barley, though some beers are made with wheat malt, rye malt, and other cereal grains. So, what is malted barley?

Barley is a grass that comes in a 2-row or 6-row variety, which corresponds to way the grains are arranged around the barley stem. Barley grains (also called corns) are the seeds of the plant that in optimal conditions will grow into a plant. The corns store energy in the form of starch, a complex sugar, so that the plant can grow.

These sugars are what brewers use to make beer. The grain provides the sugar that feeds the yeast, which in turn converts the sugar into alcohol and CO2. But before these sugars can be used, they must be made accessible through a process called malting.

The Malting Process
Malting the barley is a three-step process carried out by a professional maltster. Using a variety of barley grown specifically for making beer, the maltster creates conditions that encourage the barley corns to grow, then kilns the barley corns before they have a chance to grow into plants:

  1. Steeping – The maltster soaks the barley in large steeping tanks, aerating the malt and maintaining a constant, cool temperature that discourages microbial growth. The water is periodically replaced, which gives the barley a chance to breathe.
  1. GerminationShop Home Brew Starter Kit – The barley is then moved to the floor where it is allowed to sprout. During this phase, enzymes are activated in the barley. The enzymes begin to break down the cellular structure of the grain, which makes the starches accessible for conversion into fermentable sugars. The barley will typically be turned regularly to prevent the rootlets, or “chits,” from getting tangled. The degree to which the barley is allowed to grow is called “modification.”
  1. Kilning –  The final step in malting the barley is the kilning. The maltster kilns the grain to stop the growing process, which preserves the starches and the enzymes for use in brewing. Depending on the style of malt produced, grains are kilned between 175-400°F. This step introduces color and flavor to the malt as the proteins and sugars are heated in the kiln.


Common Types of Malted Barley

Malted barley is generally categorized by color and given a Lovibond number rating between 1 and 500 to rate the color (1 being pale; 500 being black). These are several of the most common malted barleys:

  • Pilsen Malt – This very lightly kilned malted barley is ideal for lagers, but can also be used as base grain for ales. (1° Lovibond)
  • 2-Row Malt – A very common base malt for ales and lagers. 2-Row malt typically contains more fermentable sugar and less protein than 6-Row malt. (1.8° Lovibond)
  • 6-Row Malt – 6-Row is often used for lagers for its grainy flavor. 6-Row barley is primarily grown in the US. (1.8° Lovibond)
  • Vienna Maltshop_malted_grains – Vienna malt is kilned slightly more than Pilsen and 2-Row malts, but it still works well as a base malt. It is recommended for use in Pilsners and Vienna-style lagers. (3.5° Lovibond)
  • Munich Malt – Munich malt is a well-modified malt that lends a sweeter, maltier flavor than the lighter malts. It is ideal for amber ales, Märzen lagers, and dark lagers. (10° Lovibond)
  • Crystal Malt – A wide range of malted barleys are kilned at higher temperatures and called crystal, or caramel malts. They range from 10 to 120 degrees Lovibond, contributing significant color and sweet caramel flavor. (10-120° Lovibond)
  • Chocolate Malt – Chocolate malt is often used (in moderation) for brown ales, porters, and stouts. It contributes a chocolate-like flavor and aroma to beer; it is not actually made with chocolate. (350° Lovibond)
  • Black Malt – Black malt has been kilned nearly to the point of burning. It provides roasty, astringent bitterness and very dark color to stouts and other dark beers. Very little needs to be used to get the desired effect. (500° Lovibond)

Want to learn more about malted barleys? This book is a great resource if you want to learn more about malts or homebrewing in general: Homebrewing for Dummies

Now that you know the answer to the question: “what is malted barley?”, what are some of your favorite malts for brewing beer at home? And, what brews do you use them in?
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.

American Brown Ale Recipe (Extract & All-Grain)

Pouring A Brown Ale BeerToday I’d like to share with you a homebrew beer recipe I recently brewed with a friend. It’s a hoppy brown ale with deep chocolate malt flavors and a hint of spicy, citrusy hop flavor and aroma. We just doubled the ingredients for the five-gallon recipe (below) to make it a ten-gallon batch.

We modeled this American brown ale recipe after some of the popular American-style brown ales being made by our local craft breweries. It’s a little on the hoppy side for what some consider a brown ale, but for a lot of craft beer fans, that’s a good thing!

This beer recipe features some complex roasted malts to bring in a range of caramel, biscuit, and chocolate flavors along with some lower-alpha hops that work great as aroma hops and provide a clean bitterness. To further enhance the aroma and clean bitterness, we utilize a technique called “first wort hopping.” All that means is to add some of the hops before the wort comes to a boil, which helps keep more of the aromatic hop compounds in the beer.

We hope you’ll enjoy this American brown ale recipe! Both all-grain and extract versions are given below. Give it a try and let us know how it turns out!


American Brown Ale Recipe
(5-gallon batch, all-grain)

OG: 1.058
FG: 1.011
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: 42
SRM: 23

10 lbs. two-row malt Shop Steam Freak Kits
1 lb. caramel 60L malt
0.5 lb. chocolate malt
0.5 lb. crystal 77L malt
1 oz. Willamette hops (FWH)
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :60
0.5 oz. Willamette hops at :30
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :10
1 tsp. Irish moss at :10
1 packet Safale US-05 ale yeast

Mash crushed grains at 152˚F for one hour. Sparge to collect 7.5 gallons in the brew kettle. Add first wort hops (1 oz. Willamette) to the wort and bring to a boil. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops and Irish moss according to schedule above. Chill wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Ferment at 68-70˚F.


American Brown Ale Recipe
(5-gallon batch, partial mash)

OG: 1.058
FG: 1.011
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: 42
SRM: 23

6 lbs. light dry malt extract Shop Conical Fermenter
1 lb. six-row malt
1 lb. caramel 60L malt
0.5 lb. chocolate malt
0.5 lb. crystal 77L malt
1.5 oz. Willamette hops (FWH)
2 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :60
0.5 oz. Willamette hops at :30
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :10
1 tsp. Irish moss at :10
1 packet Safale US-05 ale yeast

Steep crushed grains for 30 minutes at 152˚F in one gallon of water. Strain wort into brew kettle, then add enough water to make 3.5 gallons. Thoroughly mix in the dry malt extract, then add the first wort hops (1.5 oz. Willamette) to the wort and bring to a boil. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops and Irish moss according to schedule above. Chill wort and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Ferment at 68-70˚F.

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.

A Simple Guide To Brewing With Adjunct Grains

Rolled Brewing AdjunctsIn 1516, Reinheitsgebot, also known as the German Beer Purity Law, was put into effect. To alleviate competition between producers of barley, wheat, and rye, it limited beer ingredients to only barley, water, and hops (yeast hadn’t been discovered yet!). Though some brewers choose to brew within these strict guidelines, many prefer to experiment and use more than just barley in their brews.

There are many styles of beer that require grains other than malted barley, including certain styles of Belgian Ale, English Ale, and yes, even German beers. The grains used in these beers are often referred to as adjunct grains:

  • Wheat – Wheat is mandatory brewing adjunct if you want to brew your own Hefeweizen or American Wheat Beer. E.C. Kraus carries Red Wheat Malt, White Wheat Malt, and Wheat Malt Extract to lend your homebrew wheat flavor and body. Use 50-75% wheat malt in your grain bill for Weizenbier, or 1-2% to help head retention in any beer style.
  • Rye – Want to brew your own Rye Pale Ale or German Roggenbier? Briess Rye Malt contributes a unique, spicy and grainy flavor reminiscent of bourbon. You’ll want to use this brewing adjunct grain sparingly, as rye has a tendency to stick together in the mash kettle. You’ll rarely see more than 10-20% of malted rye in a grain bill (3.7° Lovibond). Another option is Flaked Rye, which gives the crisp, dry rye flavor, but with more body and more extractable sugar than malted rye.
  • OatsShop Brewing Kettles –  If you want to brew an Oatmeal Porter or Oatmeal Stout, you have to use oats! Regular, unmalted, whole-grain oats contribute flavor and head retention to your brew, but not much fermentable sugar. Flaked Oats are pre-gelatinized to make their starches accessible as fermentable sugar, but they’ll also do wonders for head retention and body. Oats are often included in some Belgian beers, such as the ever popular Witbier.
  • Corn – Corn, or maize, when used as a brewing adjunct must be cooked, then mashed with barley malt to extract fermentable sugars. Flaked Corn is pre-gelatinized, making starches accessible, and can be added directly to the mash. Corn adds essentially no color to beer, but contributes some sweet, corn flavor. It’s primarily used in American Light Lagers, certain Pre-Prohibition style beers, and traditional South American chicha.
  • Rice – Rice, usually in the form of rice syrup, is often added to American Light Lagers in place of malted barley because it’s cheap and doesn’t contribute much flavor or color. Flaked Rice accomplishes the same task, resulting in a dry, crisp beer. Rice Hulls are often added to brews made with a lot of wheat or rye to avoid a stuck mash.

Certainly, there are other brewing adjunct grains that you could play around with and put in their beer, but this list comprises the majority of what you’ll find called for in home brewing recipes.

What is your favorite adjunct grain you like to use in your beers?
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 Quick Guide To Dry Hopping Your Beers

Dry Hopping A BeerDry hopping is a popular technique for adding a burst of hop aroma to beer. Basically, all you do is add hops during the secondary fermentation. Because the hops aren’t boiled, they won’t contribute much bitterness (IBUs) to your beer. Dry hopping your beer can lend desirable pine, grapefruit, citrus, or floral aromas, depending on the hop variety you use.

Many popular American craft beers are dry hopped, especially pale ales and IPAs. Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA, makes use of a hop back, or torpedo as they call it, which circulates conditioning beer through a stainless steel vessel packed with whole cone hops.

But don’t let complicated brewing equipment intimidate you — dry hopping your beer at home is easy!

When should I add the dry hops?
The most convenient time to dry hop is when transferring from primary to secondary fermentation. Hops can be added at any time during the secondary fermentation, but for best results, they should have at least a few days to work their magic.

What variety of hops should I use for dry hopping?
Hops with low alpha-acids, usually referred to as “aroma hops”, are best suited for dry hopping. Examples of aroma hops include:

Shop HopsShould I use pellets, plugs or whole leaf for dry hopping?
It is best to do your dry hopping with pellets as opposed to whole leaf hops. Due to the processing involved in producing hop pellets, the aromatic oils are more accessible. They’re also a little easier to separate from the beer than whole leaf hops.

How much hops should I use?
A good range to stick with is 1/4 to 2 ounces of hops for a 5 gallon batch, though I think some hop aficionados are prone to adding more.

Will adding hops contaminate my brew?
If you’re worried about contamination you could briefly steam the hops before adding them to the fermenter, but most will agree that the alcohol present in your beer after primary fermentation will protect it against bacteria.

What about straining the hops?
Regardless of how you go about dry hopping your beer, the hops will need to be strained from the beer one way or another

  • DIY screen – You can try attaching a sanitized screen to the bottom of your racking cane when siphoning the beer from the secondary fermenter. An auto-siphon, which makes life much easier for the homebrewer, has a tip that won’t let much through, you could tie a sanitized hops bag around the bottom for some added filtering.
  • Put the hops in small mesh hop bagShop Wort Chillers – Placing the hops in a hop bag before even adding them to the beer is probably the easiest option. A brewer in this forum recommends tying dental floss to the bag for easy removal – you’ll probably want to use unflavored floss, unless you’d like a little mint or cinnamon flavor in your brew!
  • Cold crashing – Dropping the temperature on your secondary fermentation will help the hops settle out to the bottom of the fermenter, making it easier to siphon beer into a bottling bucket or keg without pulling along a lot of hops material.

Hopefully, this information will help you out. Just remember that the best way to go about dry hopping is to use hop pellets in the secondary fermentation. Use somewhere around 1/4 to 2 ounces, and stick with a variety of hops that is big on aroma and low in bitterness.

Have you tried dry hopping your beer? How did it turn out?
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.