How to Make a Full-Bodied Beer

Example Of How To Make A Full-Bodied BeerAnyone who’s had a Guinness knows the unique texture that beer provides – a creaminess that flows over your tongue thanks to the use of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. But how can you get a similar characteristic in your homebrew beer without going that extra gas-based step?

Here’s how to make a full-bodied beer. It’s easier than you think.

What making a full-bodied homebrew beer comes down to is mouthfeel. You can brew a stout black as midnight in the dead of winter, but sometimes it’s best to complement that with a little more heft in the body of the beer – and that doesn’t mean it has to be a high-ABV brew, either.

To achieve a full-bodied homebrew beer with a more substantial mouthfeel, all it takes is a little modification on brew day. Here’s how to make a full-bodied beer:

 

1. Use specialty malts
Once you dump your yeast into the cooled wort, they’ll start chewing up fermentable sugars that allows them to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol. But with unfermentable sugars in your wort, yeast will stay away from those and allow your beer to become thicker.

These unfermentable sugars are called dextrins and can be infused into your homebrew beer through the use of malt. “Cara” malts like Carapils are excellent for adding extra body with lots of unfermentable sugars during mashing. Dark and roasted malts like Crystal, Roasted Barley or Special B also offer high levels of unfermentable sugars. As a bonus, the use of specialty malts can also add color and flavor to your beer.Shop Barley Grains

 

2. Increase mash temperature  
While steeping malts like Carapils in an extract brew can help add some body, it’s more noticeable when doing a partial or all-grain mash. In this case, adjusting the temperature of your mash can greatly influence the body of your homebrew beer. By keeping your water temperature at a high level, say 158° to 165° degrees Fahrenheit, the reaction of malt with the water will produce more unfermentable sugars, giving your beer potential for lower ABV and a fuller body, thanks to sugars your yeast won’t eat up and convert to alcohol.

 

3. Add oats or wheat
One of the most popular ingredients used in stouts to add extra thickness are flaked oats. By using flaked oats as up to 10 percent of your malt bill, you can add greater viscosity.

Shop Steam Freak KitsFor ease of using oats, choose rolled or flaked oats. To convert starches from the oats into unfermentable sugars, you’ll need to mash the oats with barley malt, which allows for the chemical conversion necessary.

Usually a ratio of one pound oats to one pound barley will do the trick. All this makes the use of oats more ideal for partial or all-grain brewers, but not impossible for extract brewers who steep malt for their beer recipe. Extract brewers just may not get the same kind of body other brewers may find.

 

4. Use lactose sugar 
All is not lost for extract brewers, however. One easy way to add creaminess to mouthfeel and some extra body to a homebrew is with lactose sugar, which will also provide some sweetness to your beer. It’s a common ingredient in sweet stouts. Lactose isn’t fermentable and can be added during the boiling process – usually with 10 to 15 minutes to go.

Shop Home Brew Starter KitSome homebrewers also add it at bottling to increase its flavor. About a pound per five gallons will do just fine.

 

That’s the basics of how to make a full-bodied beer, but adding increased body to all your homebrews isn’t ideal – you wouldn’t want a thick, heavy Pilsner – but knowing how to make a full-bodied homebrew beer anytime you like is a great thing to have in your arsenal of homebrewing knowledge.
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Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his blog, This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.

Start Homebrewing Beer: There’s Never Been A Better Time Than Now!

A Homebrewer Homebrewing Beer KitAt a time when there are more than 3,000 breweries across the country, the options of finding a unique, tasty brew are easier than ever.

But it may be just as easy to find something novel in our own backyards – literally.

While breweries get plenty of worthy attention, there are now about 1.2 million Americans homebrewing beer scattered across the U.S., the most ever identified by the American Homebrewers Association. As the hobby has grown, it’s clear that there’s never been a better time to start homebrewing beer, and the AHA’s annual homebrew supply shop survey proves it.

“Now it is relatively easy to consistently brew beers that are just as good – if not better – than what you find on the store shelf or at the brew pub down the road,” said Ed Kraus, owner of E.C. Kraus Home Wine and Beer Making Supplies.

Here are three reasons why it’s a good time to start homebrewing beer:

 

1. It’s more accessible than ever
Many individuals began homebrewing beer because they’ve got a friend or family member who has been actively brewing. With over a million homebrewers now, there are more people to learn from.

Even better, gaining experience and learning about the homebrewing hobby is simple. Along with helpful websites like HomeBrew Talk, magazines like Brew Your Own or blogs like this one, people have access to answers to just about any question on homebrewing beer.

Some of this shows up in their purchases, too. Over the last three years, homebrew store owners have noticed a decrease in purchases for extract batches with an increase in all-grain. What used to be a big plunge for the beginner is now a first step when the they start homebrewing beer.All-Grain Homebrewer

“All-grain is so much more fun than extract because you really get to dial in to every variable,” said Ashley Bower, a Columbia, South Carolina-based homebrewer who started with extract in 2010 and has made all-grain batches since November 2013. “Extract is a fantastic way to start homebrewing beer and you can make great beer as long as you have fresh extract.  But if you want to dive a little deeper into the hobby, all-grain is the way to go.”

 

2. All ages are getting involved
According to the survey, last year saw a 24 percent increase in beginner homebrewing beer kit sales, but it’s who’s buying them that stands out. Homebrewers under the age of 30 have begun to decrease, while those 40 years old and up have seen a 5 percent increase in the last three years. The largest age range is still 30 to 39, which makes up just over half of all homebrewers, but that’s also changing.

Older Homebrewer“The hobby has become more mature,” Ed said. “I feel that it is only natural for the age range to become wider over time. We are to a point where many of the home brewers in their 50s were in their 20s or 30s when they started or tried homebrewing beer for the first time.”

Ed noted that’s made an interesting challenge for shop owners, as the range of ages and experiences between individuals homebrewing beer means homebrew shops need to be flexible in what kind of ingredients they carry. He said younger brewers have a fun time creating all sorts of experimental homebrews these days, while older homebrewers may hone in on more “classic” styles like a Russian imperial stout or English bitter to keep it simple.

 

3. We’re pushed by peersHomebrewers At Homebrewer Club
Want to get better at homebrewing beer? You can get great feedback by entering local or national competitions, which homebrewers are now doing in droves. The most recent National Homebrew Competition was one of the most competitive fields of entries ever, with 8,172 homebrews judged in 2014 – a 45 percent increase in the number of competitors.

With more than 1,700 registered homebrew clubs in the U.S., more people are getting into the hobby and becoming more creative with the homebrews, meaning everyone has the potential to learn and become better at homebrewing beer.Shop Home Brew Starter Kit

“Meeting with other homebrewers who are homebrewing beer to taste and discuss your brews is a catalyst for competition participation,” Ed said. “Because of the clubs, homebrew competitions are easier to know about and easier to participate in than before, and the quality of ingredients and the availability of better brewing equipment has lent itself to the production of some outstanding homebrews.”

 

Now “is” a great time to start homebrewing beer, so why not celebrate? Find a new beer recipe, call a friend or two and raise a glass to the hobby of homebrewing!
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Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his blog, This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.

Some Hot Info For Brewing Beer With Coffee

Coffee Beans For BrewingI used to drink coffee, but haven’t had the stuff in years. I loved the aroma and flavor, but hated depending on it to function in the morning.

These days, the only time I drink coffee is when it’s in my beer.

Coffee porter, coffee stout … I’ve even had a coffee IPA. For fans of both beer and the caffeinated drink, there are lots of great options. So how can you mix the two for homebrewing? It’s easier than you think.

 

Choose a Style

The first step for brewing a beer with coffee is determining what kind of base style you’d like to use. These days, brewers are all over the map with what kind of beer they’ll add coffee to, but classic examples include Founder’s Breakfast Stout, brewed with Sumatra and Kona coffee, and Kona’s Pipeline Porter, which uses Kona coffee as well.

You’ll often see coffee beers use a malt-forward base, as coffee flavors match the profile of roasted barley and chocolate malt very nicely. There are a lot of great stout and porter kits you can use as your base, but consider an imperial stout or robust porter for ideal pairings.

That said, experimentation is the beauty of homebrewing, so maybe an American pale ale with coffee is more up your alley. When it comes to brewing beer with coffee everything is open to one’s own interpretation.

 

Pick a Coffee

Once you know the style of homebrew you’d like to use, you’ll want to pick a coffee that matches nicely. Not all coffee beans are the same.

Coffee Stout Beer Ingredient KitTechnically speaking, any style of coffee will work, but you may have specific tastes or even strength you prefer. Espresso will be much stronger in perceived coffee flavor than a “cinnamon roast” coffee bean, which might offer more nut-like flavor. The National Coffee Association has a great list of roasts – from light to dark – that may help you find the kind you want.

One thing to be aware of when brewing beer with coffee is the oil content of beans, as it may impact head retention and mouthfeel of your homebrew. Depending on the beer style you’re using, that may or may not be an issue. An imperial stout, for example, isn’t as reliant on a big stack of foam as a pale ale.

 

Adding Coffee To Beer

Depending on the intensity of coffee flavor you seek, you may be interested in adding coffee to your boil, but the best way to get that roasted taste is in secondary fermentation. To maximize flavor without too much astringency, try cold brewing coffee.

Making a cold brew coffee is easy. Take a cup of ground beans and mix with four cups of cold or room temperature water. Let it sit for 12 to 24 hours, strain the coffee grounds from the water and you’re set. You’re left with less acidic, more flavorful coffee.

Shop FermentersKeep in mind the risk for infection is fairly low as long as you properly sanitize whatever the cold brewed coffee touches.

As an alternative, you could also place ground coffee beans into a muslin bag and steep them like a tea for up to seven days in your secondary. Just make sure to sample your beer as the ground beans steep to make sure you achieve the right amount of flavor you’re looking for.

Ready to start brewing beer with coffee? Check out the Captain Cogsworth Coffee Stout, which has all the ingredients prepared for you.

Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his blog, 
This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.

Express Your Mad Scientist: Experimenting With Homebrew

Man Experimenting With HomebrewTo the chagrin of some, I like to experiment in the kitchen. Rather than follow set recipes or guidelines, I like to let the whimsy of the moment guide me, allowing sauces, herbs, and spices to point me in the direction of a dish, not necessarily knowing if the destination of my journey will end up good or bad.

It may be an undisciplined way to cook, but it is fun. Occasionally, it also turns out to be the way I want to brew. I like to go off the beaten path and experimenting with homebrew. While it’s important to hone your skills with the basics, what great chef – or brewer – wouldn’t want to venture off the commonly taken path from time to time?

The best part? Experimenting with homebrew is not hard. Here are a few tips for doing your own beer brewing experiments and creating beers that are specific to your unique tastes:

 

1. Use a Solid Base Recipe

One of the first homebrews I made was a jalapeno blonde ale. I started with an easy extract recipe as a blonde ale base:

7 lbs. Light Malt Extract 
1 oz. Cascade hops at :60
1 oz. Willamette hops at :5
Fermentis Beer Yeast: Safale US-05

By starting with a good beer recipe – one I was familiar with – I knew what to expect from the base beer. From there, I wanted to play with getting the right combination of spice and heat from peppers while also imparting some vegetative pepper flavor. It was all trial and error and an opportunity to play. I sliced and gently roasted the peppers, then “dry-peppered” the beer in secondary.Shop Beer Flavorings

Because I knew what flavor I would get from the base beer, it gave me flexibility to experiment with peppers to adjust the brew to my taste. You can do the same thing using extra ingredients in the secondary fermentation process and pulling tastes from the carboy or bucket to make sure it’s right for you. Try fruits, vegetables, or even herbs and spices when doing a beer brewing experiment!

 

2. Split Up Batches

When experimenting with  homebrew many homebrewers may start with standard six and five-gallon carboys for fermentation, but if you go a step smaller, you can increase the options for experimentation you have with each batch you brew.

For example, if you split a batch and use two three-gallon fermenters instead of one five-gallon carboy, you increase your options to try out different dry-hopping ingredients and even different yeast strains. Why is this beneficial? It can help you hone your beer recipe and figure out what kind of tastes and aromas you like best, getting two different beers from one brew day.

For example, if you take the same base-level recipe for the blonde ale above, but use a different yeast option, you’ll get a beer with completely different flavors than with Safale US-05. Use a Belgian Wheat 3942, and you’ll end up witShop Steam Freak Kitsh fruity characteristics. Or maybe go a little more out there and try Weihenstephen Weizen 3068 and see if banana and clove flavors shows up in your final product. This is a great way to quickly increase your knowledge of different ingredients by expanding your beer brewing experiments.

 

3. Tailor to Your Tastes

An important thing to remember when experimenting with homebrew is that you’re simply making beer for you to enjoy. Don’t be afraid to work from tastes or smells you like.

I love watermelon, so a couple years ago I made a watermelon wheat beer by hand-squeezing juice from watermelons sanitized with Star-San and added the juice to the secondary fermentation of an American wheat ale.

My wife loves apples and hard cider, so I’ve also tried combining apples with homebrewing. I started with a pretty simple base beer:

3.3 lbs. Light Malt Extract  
1 lb. honey malt
2 oz. Cluster hops at :60Shop 3 Gallon Carboy

But, instead of topping off the wort with water, I used apple juice. I fermented with Wyeast 1056 for a clean yeast flavor and with some patience, ended up with a “beer” that smelled like a cider, but had a unique sweet and bitter taste combination thanks to the cider and hops.

When homebrewing, it’s important to remember that it’s OK to play around. Many chefs only become great once they move beyond their comfort zones. By experimenting with homebrew based on what you love and by thinking outside the box, you’ll find more ways to enjoy the hobby of homebrewing – and may even stumble on your next favorite beer!
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Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his blog, This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.

Get Sweet On Your Beers: Start Brewing Beer With Honey!

Man Brewing Beer With HoneyWe put it in tea, we mix it into our lip balm and of course it’s good for baking, but for many homebrewers, honey is also a pivotal ingredient for brewing.

From the “ealu” of Great Britain’s Anglo-Saxons to President Obama’s White House Honey Ale, brewing beer with honey has been an important part of the craft. What makes honey so great is its flexibility for brewers, whether they simply want to use it as a fermentable sugar in their boil, as a source of sweet flavor or even as a priming ingredient.

Honey is great as a medium to connect all the aspects of your homebrew, from the sweet taste of wort to herbal aromas of hops and even yeast esters.

So how can you start brewing beer with honey? Here are three different ways:

 

Brewing With Honey In The Boil

For many, the high fermentability of honey provides an easy way to add extra gravity to a beer, since the sugar found in honey is almost entirely fermentable. Unless you’re making mead or braggot, you’ll want to make sure honey isn’t more than about 30 percent of all your fermentable sugars in a brew, depending on the level of honey flavor you seek. For best results, the National Honey Board recommends that when brewing with honey, not using more than 2.5 pounds of honey per five gallons.

A key trick is to know when to add honey. If you want to use it in the boil, consider adding it as a late addition. Due to its high fermentability, using honey early on in the boil can dilute the body of a beer and cause a drier finish when drinking your homebrew. Many beer recipes will call for a honey addition at the very end of a boil (in the last five minutes) or at flameout, which is best for retaining the honey’s aromas and flavors.

 

Brewing With Honey In The Secondary

If you want to avoid using honey on brew day, adding it during secondary fermentation is a good option. It allows you to keep the characteristics of the honey you’ll want to show up in your beer. To eliminate any wild yeasts and bacteria that may be in the honey, it’s important to pasteurize your honey first:Shop Beer Recipe Kits

  1. Preheat an oven to 176°F.
  2. Pour honey into a sanitized, oven-proof saucepan.
  3. As the oven preheats, heat the honey on the stove top to 176°F., stirring occasionally.
  4. Once the honey is 176°F., cover it and put it in the oven for 2.5 hours.
  5. Place the saucepan in an ice bath to lower the honey’s temperature to match that of your beer and pour it into the secondary.

The reason we heat the honey to 176°F. is that this temperature is hot enough to kill off microorganisms, but not so hot that it drives off the honey’s valuable aromas and flavors.

 

Brewing Beer With Honey: As A Priming Sugar

While substituting honey for your normal priming sugar may not add a lot of unique flavor, priming with honey does have the potential to add a small layer of complexity to your beer. Just be sure you only adding the honey for priming, as combining it with any other priming sugar can have explosive results.

If priming beer with honey, the honey will need to be diluted with water before adding to your homebrew. Different honeys have different densities, so there’s no uniform amount of water that may be ideal. You may need a small digital scale to weigh out the honey. Most formulas suggest four to five cups of water should be sufficient to mix with the honey.Shop Accurate Scales

As a precaution, you can bring the water-honey mix to a boil to kill any potential bacteria, the same as you would when mixing any other priming sugar.

Now that you’re ready to start brewing beer with honey, what to make? If you’re feeling experimental, check out the available beer kits from E. C. Kraus and see which beers you may enjoy with a touch of honey!
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Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his blog, This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.

Brewing With Chili Peppers For Fun And Torture

Beer With Chili PeppersBeer drinkers are an eclectic bunch. Some are hop-heads and some prefer malt bombs, but mixed in with the plethora of sects is a smaller group – those who like it hot.

You may have noticed commercial breweries experimenting more by brewing with chili with peppers, recently. Stone has the painfully hot Crime and Punishment and Twisted Pine has the infamous Ghost Face Killah. But there’s no need to go to the extreme with your homebrew!

If you’re looking for unique heat or some layered vegetable flavor, there are lots of ways to go about adding chili peppers to your beer – and lots of peppers to use – when brewing with chili peppers.

 

What Kind of Homebrew?

Before you find the kind of pepper you want to use, it’s important to determine the style of homebrew you’d like to make. The homebrew you use as your base beer will help you pick what kind of chili peppers to use and how much heat you want to feature.

For example, you could brew something light, like a lager, which could help really showcase aspects of a pepper, all the way up to a stout, which can balance the spice and heat with its own sweet maltiness and roasted characteristics. Here’s a chipotle porter recipe as an another example.

The first time I tried brewing with chili peppers I used a blonde ale base because I wanted the pepper to be front and center. It was perfect for my love of hot food, but a little too much heat came through for other drinkers. Find a style that you enjoy and that will allow you to feature the right amount of heat.

 

Which Peppers to Use?

Once you’ve got a beer style picked out, consider these three popular chili peppers to reach your desired level of intensity:

  • Anaheim: This pepper may be ideal for those who don’t want a ton of spicy heat, as it falls relatively low on the Scoville heat scale. As a mild pepper, it mixes a little bit of sweetness with low-level heat. Anaheim peppers will be good for lighter-bodied brews with a touch of heat.Shop Steam Freak Kits
  • Jalapeño: Chances are you’re familiar with this pepper, which is often found in spicy food dishes. Jalapeños offer stronger heat than Anaheim peppers and fall about midway on the Scoville scale. Chipotle peppers – smoked jalapeños – also make an excellent option when brewing with chili peppers. The smoke adds another layer to the pepper heat and flavor. Consider jalapeños to be good for just about any beer style, depending on your tolerance for heat.
  • Habañero: Among the hotter peppers easily found at grocery stores, habañero peppers aren’t for everyone, thanks to a heat level many times that of a jalapeño. If you love spicy heat, adding this chili pepper to heartier beers like porters or stouts that can withstand the heat.

 

When to Add Chili Peppers to a Brew

Like other unique ingredients (such as herbs and fruit), you’ve got options for when to add peppers in your homebrew. You can leave them whole if you want to minimize heat or slice them in half to expose seeds and the vegetable’s membrane, which contain capsaicin, the compound that makes a pepper hot.

Other timing options when brewing with chili peppers:

  • Late-boil: This will add heat, but little aroma to your beer. Add peppers at the very end of the boil and let them sit in the wort for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Primary fermentation: If you want a bit more balance, adding peppers during primary fermentation will offer some heat, pepper flavor, and aroma. Just make sure to sanitize or gently blanch peppers them before putting them in your carboy or bucket.
  • Secondary fermentation: To get the most flavor, aroma, and heat from your peppers, try adding them after primary fermentation. This offers the option of starting with a pepper or two, and then you can taste the beer to find out if you want to add more during the secondary process.
  • In the bottle: For pepper enthusiasts only! Adding a pepper straight into a beer bottle will leave no doubt as to what you’re drinking!Shop Home Brew Starter Kit

 

How Adding Chili Peppers Impact Your Homebrew

When brewing with chili peppers you’ll definitely get a pepper flavor in your beer, but it’s important to know that how you use peppers may also affect the head retention of a beer.

If you’re using seeds and other exposed parts of the chili pepper, oils from the vegetable may seep into your beer, greatly reducing head retention. In my experience with a jalapeño blonde ale, carbonation wasn’t a problem, but little to no foam remained in my glass a few minutes after it was poured.

Think you can stand the heat? A good place to start for first-timers is with selecting a homebrew recipe kit. Find a brew you like and think will support the pepper heat and give it a shot. It’s an easy way to test pepper flavors and discover the kick they can add to your homebrew!
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Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his blog, This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.

Developing A Clone Beer Recipe

Man Developing A Clone Beer RecipeSome may get into homebrewing for the “do it yourself” challenge, some may start homebrewing to simply have fresh beer around the house, but others may take the step because they’ve fallen in love with a commercial beer and thought: “I could make this.”

I know – I’m one of them.

Peruse through this website or others and you’re bound to come across dozens – if not hundreds – of recipe kits at your disposal, from coffee stouts to hoppy IPAs and everything in between. But what may pique the interest of many is the ability to make “clone” beers using ingredient kits of such iconic brands as New Belgium’s Fat Tire or Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter.

But why clone beer? It’s a good way to put your skills to the test. With that said, here’s my perspective on developing a clone beer recipe.

 

Developing a clone beer recipe to learn

Using prepared clone beer kits can be a good experiment in the homebrewing process, as you have a “control beer” to test your skills. Sometimes subtle differences in mash temperature, hop utilization, and grain bill can impact the final product. By making a beer and testing it side-by-side with the commercial version, you can get a better idea of what works best during your brew day and what you may need to pay more attention to.

I once made a Bass Pale Ale clone beer kit for the sheer challenge of trying to replicate one of the most famous versions of the style. While it ended up about 1 percent higher in alcohol content than I had hoped, it taught me to pay more attention to temperatures and how I was using my grains. It was a valuable lesson for future brew days.Shop Steam Freak Kits

If you want to clone beers yourself, the key to success is to hone your palate. As you build clone beer recipes, you’ll want to know what kind of ingredients to buy and how each piece impacts the larger puzzle.

One popular way both commercial brewers and homebrewers alike accomplish this is by brewing experimental beers, like single hop pale ales and IPAs as well as SMaSH beer recipes, which stands for “Single Malt and Single Hop.” In both cases, the goal is to hone the use of a specific ingredient so you can better understand it. Breweries like Mikkeller, Flying Dog, and even Sam Adams have produced single-hop beers as a means for consumers to taste the subtle differences between two different hop varieties, like Citra and Sorachi Ace, for example.

 

Develop a clone beer recipe to replicate your favorites

One of the first cloned beer recipes I made was a watermelon wheat beer based off of 21st Amendment’s famous Hell or High Watermelon Wheat. Sipping the California brewery’s fruit-laced beer from the can, I thought I might like to try this beer, but with more intense watermelon taste.

To make my own personal take on the clone beer, I looked up a clone recipe. Instead of using natural flavoring, I wanted to go for the real thing, so I sanitized two watermelons, cut them up and squeezed juice from them to add to my secondary. The result: a beer that tasted quite like a boozy watermelon. Unique, for sure.

One of the best parts of homebrewing beer is the ability to experiment, and cloning gives you the perfect opportunity to do just that. We all have different palates, and the aromas and tastes we experience may be better served with a tweak or two of our favorite commercial beers.Shop Conical Fermenter

No matter why you choose to develop a clone beer recipe, it’s one more tool in your toolbox (or is it bottle in your six-pack?) to help you become a better homebrewer. If you’re ready to take the plunge, check out “North American Clone Brews,” which offers 150 clone beer recipes for brewing beers from Anchor, Sierra Nevada, Fat Tire, Samuel Adams and more. Each of the clone beer recipes come with an extract, partial mash and all-grain version for homebrewers of any skill set.
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Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his blog, This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.

Choosing And Using A Homebrew Airlock

Homebrew Airlock Close UpAs homebrewers, we spend lots of time cleaning and sanitizing our home brewing equipment to make sure nothing will ruin our beer. I often joke that our job is essentially that of a glorified janitor.

But for all the effort we put into caring for our beer and the items it touches, it’s important to never overlook the small details that can ensure a well-made beer. Among the finishing touches of our brew days, as we push, pull or gently place our carboys and buckets into a resting spot for fermentation, is popping in that airlock.

It may seem trivial, but how we care for our beer’s ability to “breathe” during its fermentation can be the difference between beer in our glass or down the drain. That is essentially what an airlock does. For that reason here’s some info on choosing the right type of homebrew airlock and using a homebrew airlock.

 

Choosing the Right Home Brewing Airlock

Whether at your local store or online, you’ve probably noticed the array of airlocks available for brewing. Here at E.C. Kraus, there are six home brewing airlocks to choose from! They all perform the same essential job – acting as a barrier between the air and your beer – but they can also serve different purposes. Just make sure you’re filling your home brewing airlock up with sanitized water or a strong alcohol like vodka to act as a barrier against airborne nasties.

A three-piece airlock can be ideal because it’s easy to clean. Disassembling this type of airlock means rinsing or hand washing is simple. It’s also ideal for primary fermentation because if you’ve got an overly active brew during the first few days and some wort “overflows” into the airlock, you won’t have to worry about buying a new one. Different versions of these brewing airlocks are useful for batches all the way up to 50 gallons.

The s-shape airlock or triple ripple airlock can’t be taken apart to be cleaned, but are still handy for small batches during primary fermentation and are ideal for secondary fermentation because of the decreased risk of heavy fermentation. Both these types of airlocks are also great for tracking slow-moving fermentations, so as your beer nears its final gravity, you’ll have an easy time following the escaping CO2 so you know when to pull a sample to see if your beer is done. For this reason I have both types of brewing airlocks on hand.Shop Airlocks

 

Protecting Your New Beer

One extra precaution I like to take after filling up my carboy with fresh wort is using a blow off tube for the first few days before using a homebrew airlock. It gives me peace of mind know that there’s very little risk of a strong fermentation causing an airlock to fly off the top of my carboy.

I sanitize my blow off tube just as I would any other airlock and after placing one end in the carboy, put the other end in a container of sanitized water. After the most active first few days of fermentation, I’ll take off the blow off tube and pop on an s-shape airlock until I move my beer to a secondary carboy.

 

Troubleshooting with Airlocks

One important step to remember when making homebrew is to cool your wort to its specified temperature after boiling. For lagers, that may initially be around 60° F. and around 70° F. for ales. If you don’t get the wort down to its correct temperature and slap a home brew airlock on your carboy, the difference between CO2 trying to escape, volume of liquid and temperature will create a pressure difference and cause reverse suction – meaning the carboy will start sucking liquid from your airlock into the wort.

Always make sure to cool your wort to its suggested temperature. This is one little tip on how to use an airlock that I learned the hard way.Shop Home Brew Starter Kit

Another common issue when using a homebrew airlock is having an airlock or bung fall into a carboy. If this happens, don’t worry. As long things are sanitized correctly, your beer will end up just fine nearly every time. It’s one of those “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.” moments which Charlie Papazian’s quote helps us get through.

If properly sanitized, just leave the airlock and/or bung in the carboy and fish it out after you’ve racked your homebrew out of the vessel.

This is the basics of choosing an airlock and the “how-to’s” of using a homebrew airlock. As you can see it’s fairly straight forward. There are different home brewing airlocks to use for different reasons, and keeping them sanitized is a must.
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Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his blog, This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.

The Difference Between Stouts and Porters

Stout and PorterBeer blogger Bryan Roth explores the subtle differences between two classic beer styles: stouts vs. porters.
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Brewing up a variety of beer recipes is one of the reasons why many get into the hobby of homebrewing. While you may be excited about creating something experimental (watermelon wheat, anyone?) honing base beer recipes is important, especially if you want to better understand the beers we love so much.

You may enjoy extra hoppy IPAs, but porters and stouts can offer tons of complex, malt-forward flavors. But what exactly are the differences between the stouts and porters? Sure, they both look dark, but there are plenty of slight differences that go into each beer. But what makes both beer styles different. What is the difference in taste?

Here’s a helpful history lesson: stouts came into existence as a descriptor for a stronger version of a beer style. A “brown stout” in the 1700s was simply a porter with higher alcohol content. Changes to brewing and brewing laws over the next 200 years eventually made way to how we recognize these beers today.

The most important change from the 1700s? The use of roasted barley.

While the BJCP outlines various styles of porters and stouts, here are basic characteristics of what you should aim for when crafting your next version of either, courtesy of Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer. These are the basic characteristics that define the difference between stouts and porters:

 

 Porter  Stout
 Flavor Creamy roasty-toasty malt, hoppy or not Always roasty; may have caramel and hops too
 Aroma Roasty maltiness; usually little or no hop aroma Roasty malt; with or without hop aroma
 Balance Malt, hops, roast in various proportions Very dry to very sweet (depending on style)

 

These are slight differences, but important if you want to nail your next batch.

Shop LIquid Malt ExtractAnother tip to consider when creating your recipe is the success of others. According to Ray Daniels’ book, Designing Great Beers, the key difference between the winning porter and stout recipes from the National Homebrew Competition was – no surprise – the use of malt.

The average grain bill of well-performing homebrewed porter used 80 percent pale ale malt while stout beer recipes used an average of 61 percent. The other big difference was the use of roasted barley, which was twice as much in stouts (8 percent) compared to use in most porters (4 percent).

Generally speaking, pale ale malt would supply a beer with more “toasty” flavors. Roasted barley, of course, would impart flavors closely associated to coffee.

That is important, because roasted grains were widely used in successful competition homebrewed stouts (90+ percent) compared to porters, where roasted grains appeared in 30 to 60 percent of “robust” porters, but not at all in brown porters.

All those numbers are to say, for homebrewers, “roasted” is to stouts as “toasty” is to porters.

Shop Home Brew Starter KitIf you plan to enter a stout or porter into a judged homebrewing competition, these slight differences will be important to your success. But even if you’ll just be enjoying your creation at home, a better understanding of these two beer styles can help improve your palate, make you a better brewer and give you some extra tasty homebrew to drink! And, that is the difference between stouts and porters in a nutshell.
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Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his blog, This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.

Late Addition Malt Extract & Late Addition Hops

Late Addition Brewing IngredientsThere are plenty of ways to impact the aroma and flavor of your beer: the beer yeast you choose, additives, and especially malt and hops. But one important “ingredient” that can impact how your beer turns out is often overlooked – time.

In recent years, two methods to create the most optimum homebrew have become popular. For homebrewers using extract, the late addition of malt extract can benefit both the taste and color of your beer, regardless if it is dried malt extract or liquid malt extract. Similarly, any homebrewer can utilize a “hop bursting” technique of late addition hops that’s becoming commonplace for many of the most popular IPAs you’ll find in your bottle shop.

So why switch up your brew day schedule? What are the benefits of late additions? Let’s break it down.

 

Late Addition Malt Extract (DME/LME)

Whether you’re an extract brewer or an all-grain brewer using malt extract to aid with high gravity beers, waiting until the end of your boil to add all the malt extract may help you perfect your brew.

The benefit of add your malt extract late in the process is simple – it’ll provide greater clarity to your beer as well as increase hop utilization. How those steps take place is a bit more complicated.

To make the best use of malt extract, add 15 to 25 percent at the start of your boil, as your beer recipe instructions tell you to do so. However, by saving the remaining amount to add at the end of your boil, you’re able to avoid a Maillard reaction, a caramelization that leads to the darkening of your beer. Essentially, it’s what happens when sugars get stuck in your pot and begin to harden because of heat. This principal is the same whether you are using liquid malt extract (LME) or dried malt extract (DME).Shop Dried Malt Extract

An added benefit of late addition malt extracts is that they also improve the utilization of hops, allowing for more bittering to come through. This may be a good or bad thing, depending on what beer recipe you’re making and how you prefer your beer to taste.

Late malt extract additions should be added anywhere from when you have 15 minutes left in the boil to flameout. Just turn off your heat source and mix everything in thoroughly before turning the heat back on. If you wait until flameout, the wort will still be hot enough to sanitize everything.

 

Late Addition Hops

One way to increase hop flavor and aroma and avoid excessive hop bitterness is a technique called “hop bursting.”

The premise is simple: use little or no hops at the beginning of your boil, saving nearly all of them for the “flavoring” and “aroma” addition times at the end of the boil. By doing so, you decrease the alpha acid utilization that adds bitterness and increase the use of oils that lead to fruit, citrus and pine flavors and hop aromas you love so much.

This is particularly important, as the characteristics of late addition hops will greatly impact your senses, especially smell. Even though your tongue helps you out when you taste beer, the sense of smell really helps to drive how you perceive flavors.

Shop HopsA proper hop bursting technique consists of adding hops from 15 minutes left in the boil to after flameout. Remember that the later you add hops, the stronger the aroma. Popular American hop varieties like Simcoe, Amarillo, Cascade, Citra or Centennial will give you a great combination of flavors. Think of hop bursting as an ideal complement to dry-hopping your beer, which also provides strong smells.

If you want an idea of how late addition hops can make a beer taste, try picking up brews made by Stone. Most notably, their popular “Enjoy By” series of IPAs uses hop bursting techniques to create some of the strongest, tastiest hop flavors I’ve ever experienced in a beer.

Half the fun of homebrewing is the potential for experimentation, timing is just one more dynamic that can be toyed with and mastered, so try doing some late addition malt extract and late addition hops, and see how they can work best for you. They may be the key to unlocking your next great homebrew, especially if you’re a hop-head like me!
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Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his blog, This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.