How to Start Homebrewing – Basic Brewing Instructions for the Absolute Beginner

Steam Freak Starter KitWant to start homebrewing but don’t know where to begin? Allow me to walk you through the basic brewing instructions.

Brewing is the process of mixing water, malt, and hops to create a sweet, sugary mixture called wort. When yeast is added, it consumes the sugar in the wort and ferments the wort into beer. As a beginner, you can brew very simply using hopped malt extract. All you need to do is mix the malt extract with water, add the yeast, and allow the beer to ferment for about two weeks. At that point the beer is ready to be bottled. Two to three weeks later, most low- to mid-gravity beers will be ready to drink.

Below, find step-by-step basic brewing instructions for creating your first batch of beer made from malt extract.

  1. Assemble your equipment – A Steam Freak Beer Making Starter Kit includes all the equipment you need to get started homebrewing. (I actually still use most of the equipment I bought over five years ago!)
  1. Choose a beer recipe – The Steam Freak Starter kit also includes your first recipe kit. Start with something you and your friends will enjoy drinking. Any of these can recipe extract kits also work well for a first batch. Dark beers are generally more forgiving, so I often recommend starting with a brown ale or Mexican Cerveza.
  1. Clean the equipment – You wouldn’t cook in a dirty pan would you? The same goes for brewing. Your equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before brewing.
  1. Mix the ingredients – The exact procedure will vary depending on the recipe you’re starting out with – just follow the basic brewing instructions that come with the kit. Some recipes are boiled on the stove before fermenting, in which case you’ll need a brew kettle. Others (like the Munton’s Connoisseur kits) are just mixed with water, sugar, and yeast right in the fermenter. These are far and away the easiest way to brew.Shop Beer Recipe Kits
  1. Allow to ferment for about 2-3 weeks – Just leave it alone at room temperature.
  1. Bottle – This is one of the more labor-intensive parts of homebrewing. Basically, you will mix about 4-5 oz. of priming sugar with a cup of water and place it in the bottling bucket (the one with the spigot). Then, transfer the beer from the fermenter to the bottling bucket. Next, attach a transfer hose and bottle filler to the spigot and fill and cap about 48-50 twelve-ounce bottles. Your beer recipe kit will come with instructions for how to do this. You might also check out this helpful video from the American Homebrewers Association.
  1. Wait 2-3 weeks and enjoy! – During this time, the yeast in the beer consumes the priming sugar and carbonates your homebrew.

That wasn’t so hard, was it?! Now you have several weeks worth of delicious, homemade beer!

Have any questions about these basic brewing instructions? Feel free to leave a question 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.

How Does A Refractometer Work?

Guy demonstrating how a refractometer works.Refractometers are an invaluable tool for any grape grower, large or small. Refractometers can let you know when its time to pick. And, they can do it with only a few drops of grape juice taken from throughout your vineyard. The alternative would be to extract enough juice from the grapes to take a reading with a wine hydrometer. This could take up to 200 berries – crushed and pressed.

For more info on refractometers and how to use them to time your grape harvest, take a look at another recent blog post, Refractometers Let You Know When To Pick!

RefractionHow a refractometer actually works is quite interesting. They can tell you what percentage of sugar is in a drop of liquid just by how much light bends or refracts as it passes through it. To see refraction in action put a straw in a glass of water. The straw in the water doesn’t seem to connect with the straw that’s out of the water. That’s refraction.

If you were to dissolve some sugar syrup in the glass of water, the straw would seem to be even more disconnected, and as you continued to dissolve more and more sugar, the “two straws” would seem to get farther and farther apart. This is the whole premise that a refractometers works upon to tell you what level of sugar is in your grapes.

Refractometer's Inside ViewA drop of grape juice is put between the refractometers prism and light-defusing plate. How much the light bends as it passes through the prism and down the barrel of the refractometer, tells you how what percentage of sugar is in the sample. As you look into the eyepiece you will be able to observe the refraction against a scale.

Because of how a refractometer works – it’s simplicity and quickness – anyone who has a vineyard of any size will find it extremely useful. With just a few random samples, you can get an accurate picture of how your grapes are doing.

Whether you have two acres or just two vines, visit our website and see the refractometers we have to offer for keeping track of your vineyard this season.
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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.

Homebrew Beer Recipe: Honey Basil Saison

Honey Basil SaisonThis is a honey basil saison beer recipe I put together for a friend’s wedding this summer. He was such a fan of my oregano pale ale that I figured he’d be interested in another beer in the same vein. This homebrew is a citrusy, spicy, bright orange beer that should be perfect for the outdoor festivities!

This homebrew recipe is something of an American spin on a Belgian farmhouse ale. It uses pale six-row malt as the base, some light Munich malt for some bready, toasty flavors, and a pound of caramel 40L for color and a touch of sweetness. One pound of honey contributes some additional fermentable sugars. The honey is added at the end of the boil to preserve some of its aromatic qualities. I’d recommend finding some raw honey from your local farmers market.

The fresh basil in this beer recipe is added towards the end of the boil. It will contribute a little bitterness, but mostly a distinctive spiciness in the nose, which blends well with the aromatics from the French saison yeast. I used regular Italian basil, but any variety of basil will work.

I brewed this batch of beer with the Brew in a Bag method. Feel free to adapt the beer recipe for your all-grain brewing setup, or replace the six-row and Munich malts with 6 lbs. of light liquid malt extract to make it a partial mash recipe.

Happy brewing!
Honey Basil Saison  
(5-gallon batch – Brew in a Bag)

Specs 
OG: 1.057
FG: 1.010
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: 22
SRM: 10

Ingredients 
6 lb. Pale 6-row malt
2.5 lb. Munich 10L
1 lb. Caramel 40L
.75 lb. White wheat malt
1 lb. Honey (added at flameout)
.5 oz. Northern Brewer hops at :60 (5 AAUs)
1 tsp. yeast nutrient at :15
.75 oz. fresh basil leaves at :5
.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :0 (3.6 AAUs)
.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops dry hopped for 3-5 days
1 packet Danstar Saison Yeast

Directions
Mash the crushed grains for 90 minutes at 148-150˚F. Strain out grains (some brewers like to rinse the grain bag). Bring wort to a boil and add hops and basil according to schedule above. At the end of the 60-minute boil, turn off the heat and mix in the honey. The final half-ounce of Kent Goldings hops can be adding during the whirlpool and chill. Cool wort to about 70˚F and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. If needed, top off with enough pre-boiled, pre-chilled water to make 5 gallons. Pitch yeast and ferment at 70-75˚F for 7 days, then transfer to secondary for 10-14 days. Bottle or keg for 2.3-2.5 vols CO2.
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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.

When Should I Filter My Wine?

Wine FiltersWhen should I filter my wine? I have a wine that is about 4 months old and I’m wondering if it is to early to filter it.

Don
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Hello Don,

When first learning how to make your own wine it is important that you don’t become too impatient, however since the wine has been bulk-aging for 4 months, I would say you’ve been patient enough. It would be fine to filter your wine at this time.

One of the more common wine making tips I share with beginning winemakers is:

“Never filter a cloudy wine. The wine should be done fermenting and look clear before filtering”.

You can verify that the wine is done fermenting by testing it with a wine hydrometer. You should be getting a test reading of .998 or less. For more information about this you may want to take a look at the article, “Getting To Know Your Hydrometer” listed on our website.

A wine filter is not designed to remove visible particles from a wine. A wine filter is designed to take out very fine particles, smaller than the human eye can see. This gives the wine a beautiful, polished appearance. It brightens the wine.

With this in mind, it is important to make sure that all the sediment that can fall out of the wine on its own has done so, otherwise the extremely fine filter pads that are used in the wine filter will clog up very quickly.

Shop BentoniteIf you are making wine from wine concentrates, the sediment will fall out fairly easily on its own in a week or two, but if you are making wine from fresh grapes or some other fruit, getting all the sediment to drop out can sometimes be challenging. For this reason, it is suggest that you treat the wine with bentonite before filtering.

Speedy bentonite is a fining agent that will help speed up the natural falling-out of the sediment so you can filter your wine sooner and more efficiently. To learn more about fining agents you may want to reading the article, “Using Finings To Improve Your Wine“.

You will also want to rack the wine off the sediment before filtering the wine. This will eliminate the chance of drawing sediment into the wine filter.

There is another, more simple, way to answer the question: When should I filter my wine? Filter the wine when it is ready to be bottled. Make it the last step the wine goes through before it is put to rest in the bottle. There is no advantage to filter the wine before that time.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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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.

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.

To Use, Or Not To Use An Air Lock On A Wine Fermentation?

3 Airlocks In SilhouetteOn many occasions we have been asked this simple question, “Should a wine making fermenter be sealed with an air-lock during the first few days of fermentation — the primary fermentation — or should it be left open, exposed to the air?”

The Conflict
This question arises because there is so much conflicting information floating around in wine making books, on the internet and in other places as to which method is correct. In fact, even our own wine making website recommends just covering the primary fermentation with a thin towel, while the instructions that come with the wine ingredient kits we sell recommend using an air-lock.

Even commercial wineries are not consistent in this area. While most wineries will put white wines under an air-lock and expose red wines to air, there are many, many wineries that will do the very opposite.

My Recomendation
The reason I recommend leaving the wine must exposed to air during the primary fermentation is because this method leads a more vigorous fermentation, one that is able to complete more thoroughly and quickly. Wine making kit producers recommend sealing up the primary fermentation with an air-lock because they are more concerned about eliminating any risk of spoilage than providing the fastest fermentation possible.

Spoilage can be of concern on those rare occasions when the fermentation does not start in a timely manner, but if the fermentation takes off quickly, spoilage is of no issue. The activity of the yeast will easily protect the must by impeding the growth of any unwanted organisms.

So, What Should You Do?
Shop Wine AirlocksWhile I recommend using a thin, clean towel to cover the fermenter during the primary fermentation and nothing more, if you are concerned about your fermentation not starting there is a compromising method you could follow:

When you first pitch the wine yeast into the must, put an air-lock on the fermenter. After a few hours, once you see that the fermentation has begun–indicated by activity or foam on the surface–you can then take the air-lock off and safely allow air to get to the must. This is, in a sense, giving you the best of both worlds–the protection and an invigorated wine making fermentation.

As A Side Note:
It is important to note that an air-lock should always be used after the must has gone into its secondary fermentation. This is in agreement with most. This usually starts around the fifth or sixth day, or when the first racking is performed. It is about this time you will notice the fermentation’s activity level starting to taper off.
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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.

Where Do Brewing Hops Come From?

Hops Being HarvestedHops are the flowers from the plant known as humulus lupulus. The hops plant sends up vines (technically “bines”) in the spring, which may climb as high as 20 feet or more. Since only the flowers are used in the brewing process, only the female hops plants have commercial value for brewers.

 

Where Do Brewing Hops Grow

Brewing hops grow best between the latitudes of about 35 and 55 degrees. This translates to a strip ranging across roughly the northern two-thirds of the US and most of continental Europe. If you live in this zone, you may be able to grow hops yourself.

Many traditional beer styles are characterized by the variety of hops that grow in a given region. For example, American ales, such as American IPAs, typically exhibit characteristics of hops grown in the Pacific Northwest – notes of citrus and pine are common. The majority of brewing hops grown in the US come from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Examples of American hops include Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, and Willamette.

There are a number of hop varieties specific to continental Europe. The noble hop varieties (Hallertau, Tettnang, Saaz, Spalt) all come from Germany and the Czech Republic, and are most often found in traditional European styles like German ales, German lagers, and Czech lagers. Many Belgian beers feature these same hops, as well as Styrian Goldings from the region of the former Yugoslavia.

The UK is another popular hop growing region. Fuggles, East Kent Golding, and Bramling Cross are natural choices if brewing English bitters, porters, barleywines, or stouts.

In recent years, brewing hop production has increased in the southern hemisphere. Hops grown in places you might not expect have started to hit the market: Chile, Argentina, New Zealand. Sierra Nevada pays tribute to some of these distant hop growers with their Southern Hemisphere Harvest IPA.

 

From the Growing Fields to Your Home BreweryShop Brewing Hops

At the end of the growing season, hops are harvested by machine or by hand, then processed either into pellets or packed in whole cone form. They’re usually pressed into bales for easy shipping and storage.

At some point in this process, the hops may go to a broker who effectively buys the hops from farmers and then distributes them to the various buyers: breweries, homebrew shops, and other hop suppliers.

Throughout this process, hops must be stored cold in order to preserve their flavor and bittering characteristics. This makes sure that by the time the hops hit your brew kettle, they’re just as fresh as they were when they left the field!

Have you ever grown your own hops? What are some of your favorite hop varieties?

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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.

Is Oxygen Good Or Bad For Wine?

Wine being exposed to too much oxygen.Hello Kraus,

I just started to look into making wine. I read some articles on your website and others. One thing confusing me is it seems like oxygen in the wine is good when it is being made but bad after it is made. How can oxygen be both good and bad? Thanking you in advance,
Greg
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Hello Greg,

Oxygen plays a role in wine making in two distinctly different ways at two different stages: Early on it’s what allows the wine yeast to grow successfully, insuring a vigorous fermentation. Later on, it’s what allows the wine to develop and maturate during the aging process. The main difference between these two stages is how much oxygen is involved in each.

 

While the Wine is Being Made:

Lot’s of air exposure is good for the primary fermentation – the first 3 to 5 days. This is the when the wine yeast is trying to multiply itself into a colony that is about 100 to 200 times the little packet of wine yeast you originally put in the wine must. The yeast need this oxygen to multiply successfully.

A lot of CO2 gas from the fermentation is infused within the wine must at this point. CO2 is also coming off the fermentation as a gas. This makes it very hard for excessive oxygen to saturate into the wine and cause oxidation. This is why fermenting the wine with no air-lock is not an issue at this point.

But the rules change after the fermentation begins to slow down. This is usually around the fifth day. At this point, oxygen exposure should be kept to a minimum. Too much oxygen exposure can be bad for a wine at this point. The wine yeast have colonized into large enough numbers and no longer need to grow; the CO2 gas from the fermentation is starting to taper-off dramatically and is no longer able to protect the wine from the ill effects of excessive air and oxidation.

When transferring the wine off the sediment to another container (racking), any splashing should be eliminated as much as possible. The same holds true when bottling the wine. Splashing allows air to saturate into the wine very quickly. This is because the surface area of the wine is greatly multiplied when splashing occurs, increasing the level of contact with the air, exponentially.

 

While the Wine is Being Aged:

Shop FermentersOnce the wine has been bottled, oxygen begins its second distinctive role by facilitating the aging process. While air exposure should be kept to an absolute minimum, a very tiny amount is needed for proper aging. This is much, much less than the air needed to help the fermentation.

So tiny in fact that natural cork stoppers are perfect for this purpose. Cork stoppers allow very small amounts of oxygen to pass through over very long periods of time. This limited amount of oxygen is the catalyst that fuels the steady, even maturing of a wine.

The density and length of the cork stopper can actually determine the rate of aging. Synthetic corks, that are commonly found in wine bottle today, are even tested for their rate of air permeation (the rate at which air goes pass the cork).

 

So this is how oxygen can be both bad and good for wine. It’s a matter of how much and when. Learn to use oxygen as a tool in your wine making arsenal and you will become a better winemaker.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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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.

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.

5 Myths About Homemade Wine

Myth vs Reality About Homemade Wines.There are many misconceptions and misguided assumptions about making wine at home. Most all of them are perpetuated by individuals who never even tasted or made homemade wine. Others are simply born out of the mystique surrounding the commercial wine industry.

How can something so sophisticated be made at home?

Here are the ones that we run into the most. The ones that flat-out drive us silly every time we hear them.

  1. Homemade Wines Don’t Taste That Good.
    Without question, you can easily make wines that are just as good, if not better, than the wines you find on the store shelf. And not with practice, but with your very first batch.I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done side-by-side, blind tastings with a challenging friend or an acquaintance between a glass of wine made from one of our wine ingredient kits and a glass of store bought wine, only to have the homemade wine win – hands-down.I’m not going to name any names, but I’m not talking about doing a blind tasting against the $8 stuff. I’m talking about higher dollar stuff that you’d buy to take to a dinner party, etc. Wouldn’t it be nicer to take your own personalized wine gift, that you made, to the party instead.
  1. Homemade Wine Takes A Lot Of Time To Make.
    Learning how to make your own wine is much easier than most individuals can even begin to imagine. It’s deceptively easy. There are a lot of wine making products on the market today that make it as simple as following a few directions.And, it doesn’t take that long. You can be bottling your first batch of wine in as little as 28 days. And as far as the time it takes out of your day, I’d say it doesn’t get any worse than the time it takes to bottle the wine – an hour to get it start, another half-hour to siphon it to a second container, etc.
  1. Making Homemade Wine Requires A Lot Of Expensive Equipment.
    This may have been partially true 20 or 30 years ago. Back then, depending on what type of wine you were making, you might need a grape crusher to crush the fruit and a grape press to press the fruit.Today it’s different. You don’t need to crush and press the fruit if you don’t want to. You can buy it already done for you. Now there are hundreds of wine making juices packaged up and ready for use from all over the world. You can get Cabernet grape from France, Shiraz grape from Australia, Merlot grape from California…  The choices are endlessShop Wine Making Kits.
  1. Homemade Wine Spoils Easy.
    Absolutely not. Homemade wine keeps just as good as commercially made wine. There is no difference in the keeping abilities between the two. There is no reason for one to keep better than the other. They are both made the same way from the same basic wine making materials. One’s just on a smaller scale than the other.I currently have several bottles of homemade wine that have been in my cellar aging since 1998 and 2002 and I would not hesitate to drink them myself or serve them to my friends and family.
  1. Making Homemade Wine Is Illegal.
    Wrong! Ever since October 14, 1978 it has been perfectly legal for Americans to make their own wine and beer. This is when President Jimmy Carter signed into law legislation introduced by Senator Alan Cranston of California.You can make up to 100 gallons per year. If you live in a household with another adult, you can make up to 200 gallons per year. It can be for your own personal consumption or to hand out has wine making gifts to friend and relatives. Just make sure you don’t sell it. That would be illegal!

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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.