Rochefort 8 Clone Beer Recipe (All-Grain)


Rochefort 8 Clone BeerBelow you will find a Rochefort 8 clone beer recipe for all-grain. It has all the information you need for brewing the Rochefort 8 from scratch. A worthy project to take on.

 

About Rochefort 8

The Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy in Belgium houses one of the world’s most highly regarded Trappist breweries – Rochefort. This isn’t your typical microbrewery. The Cistercian monks of Rochefort have been brewing beer there since long before the term “microbrewery” was born – 1595 to be exact. The brewery at Rochefort produces three beers of varying alcohol content:

 

  • Rochefort 6 – Rochefort 6 is extremely rare, brewed just once a year. It has a light brown color with complex sweet, floral, and fruity flavors. 7.5% ABV.
  • Rochefort 8 – Rochefort 8 is a deeper brown color at about 9.2% ABV, brewed year round since about 1960. It has a drier and richer flavor than 6, sometimes described as fig-like.
  • Rochefort 10 – Rochefort 10 is the strongest of the three at 11.3% ABV, with spicy, earthy, and chocolate flavors.

 

All three beers consistently receive exceptional marks. (Just check BeerAdvocate and RateBeer.) Draft Magazine reviewed Rochefort 8 and had this to say:Shop Steam Freak Kits

A playfully bubbly head and heavy aroma of alcohol spice, black currant and sourdough belie this brew’s murky brown appearance. Dark fruits invigorate the taste buds: Plum, figs and raisins pool in the middle of the tongue over a solid bread crust foundation. Black licorice and pepper add sharp edges to the fruity sweetness while alcohol warms the back of the throat. Rochefort’s dry finish cuts through the rich flavors, and leaves dark fruit notes on the tongue long after the swallow. 94 points.

Sounds enticing, right?

After digging around for some clone recipes I stumbled across a site in which a number of European homebrewers collaborated to develop a Rochefort 8 clone beer recipe. They then tasted each of the brews and compared them to the actual Rochefort 8. I’ve scaled the winning clone recipe to a five-gallon batch, converted the measurements to English units, and made some minor adjustments based on the brewers’ feedback.Shop Barley Grains

Be sure to prepare a healthy yeast starter to get the level of attenuation needed for this brew.

Good luck!

 

Rochefort 8 Clone Beer Recipe (All-Grain)
(5-gallon batch)

Specs
OG: 1.080
FG: 1.010
ABV: 9.2%
IBU: 23
SRM: 35Shop Hops

Ingredients
10.5 lbs. Pilsner malt
1 lb. 9 oz. Caramunich malt (type II)
1 lb. 3 oz. Dark candi sugar
8.4 oz. Special B malt
8.4 oz. Flaked corn
2.5 oz. Carafa III
1 oz. Styrian Goldings hops at :75 (4.2 AAUs)
.67 oz. Hallertau hops at :30 (2.35 AAUs)
.33 oz. Hallertau hops at :5 (1.16 AAUs)
.33 oz. crushed coriander seed at :5
2 packs Wyeast 1762: Belgian Abbey II ale yeast
Corn Sugar For Priming

 

Directions Shop Beer Flavorings
At least 12 hours before brewing, pitch two packs of Wyeast 1762 into a 2L yeast starter. On brew day, mash grains in 3.5 gallons of water. Hold at 140-144°F for 30 minutes, then raise to 154°F for 60 minutes. Raise to 167°F for mash out, then sparge with 172°F water to collect about seven gallons of wort. Stir in Belgian candi sugar and boil for 90 minutes, adding hops and crushed coriander seeds according to schedule. Cool wort to 70°F and ferment at 69-74°F. Prime with corn sugar and bottle condition for 2-4 months or longer.

Do you have a Rochefort 8 clone beer recipe you’d like to share? Are you a fan of Trappist beers? Also consider brewing this Westmalle Tripel 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.

How Long Does Homebrew Keep?

Example Of How Long Homebrew Will KeepThe question: how long does homebrew keep, depends on a number of factors: the style of beer, the alcohol content, storage conditions, whether the beer was bottled with good sanitation.

I think what we really want to know is this – does the beer still taste good? Is it safe to drink? Does the homebrew last in the bottle? Discovering a stash of homebrew at my parent’s house over the holidays brought me to explore these questions.

The short answer is this: it depends. Most commercial brews have a best by date of about three months from the bottling date. Some beers lend themselves to aging more than others, but whatever the case, drinking old bottles of beer is safe, even if it doesn’t taste very good. The beer will last, but sometimes, not the flavor.

So how long does homebrew keep? To guide you through how long you should let your homebrew age, if at all, here are some general guidelines…Shop Bottle Cappers

 

 

General Rules for Aging Homebrew

  • Once bottles have conditioned for a few weeks, most homebrewed ales are best enjoyed within a few months. That said, sometimes they still taste good after six months or longer. Lagers usually require a cold conditioning period of a few weeks to a few months before consuming.
  • Hoppy beers should be enjoyed fresh – don’t age them! You generally don’t age your pale ales and IPAs so that you can enjoy their lively hop flavors and aromas at their peak. This freshness does not last long in these beers.
  • Some of the best beers for aging are high-gravity beers like barleywine and Russian imperial stout. If brewed and bottled with good sanitation, these beers can keep for a year or longer! This bigger the beer the longer it will last.
  • When aging homebrews, maintain a steady temperature and avoid exposure to UV light. UV light can degrade the hops in beer and “skunk” your homebrew. Try in the corner of a basement, on the floor, to help your homebrew last longer.Shop Beer Bottles

 

 

Aging Homebrew: An Experiment

To illustrate, I have a few examples. When I went home for the holidays, I found a stash of homebrew from a year ago.

  • Spiced Cherry Dubbel – This beer, inspired by the book Radical Brewing, came out to 7.7% ABV. It was brewed with tart cherry and black cherry juice added to the fermenter. My notes indicate that the beer was a little strong on the cherry flavors, but still enjoyable, with little cinnamon flavor, if any.
  • Winter Wassail – This is a winter spiced ale made with cranberries and green apples, and it’s become something of an annual brew for me. The recipe can be found in the book the Homebrewer’s Garden. This particular batch came out to 7.4% ABV, with a fairly assertive acidity from the cranberries and green apples. It turned out almost like a sour beer, which in my opinion is a good thing, even though I might dial it down next time around.
  • Braggot”/Brown IPA Experiment – Shop Temp ControllerThis beer was a partigyle from the Winter Wassail above. That means I took the low gravity final runnings from the mash of that beer to make a different beer. To boost the gravity, I added honey, and just for the hell of it, some hops to a gallon of wort just to see what would happen. This was one of those “why not?” experiments. I remember the result being rather cidery and unimpressive.

 

So how did these beers keep over time?

Surprisingly, the Winter Wassail and Spiced Cherry Dubbel hardly changed at all. They both kept very well. If anything, they became a little more balanced, but for the most part, they were exactly like I remembered them. I was kind of shocked that the fruit flavors lasted at all, but I was pleased to discover no evidence of oxidation or infection.

On the other hand, the “braggot” concoction was unrecognizable. I actually had to go back to my notes to identify what it was. The beer was kind of bland, with a sort of spicy, sort of cheesy hop character, which just wasn’t pleasing at all. I Shop Fridge Monkeysuspect that the low alcohol content didn’t preserve the beer very well, and the hops, being the main flavor feature, degraded quite a bit. This homebrew did not keep at all, so I dumped it.

The conclusion here is when you ask, “how long does homebrew keep?”, you have to know what homebrew you’re talking about. All don’t keep the same. Some homebrews to last long at all, while some keep quite well.

What’s the longest that you’ve ever aged a homebrew? How did it hold up?
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David Ackley is a beer writer, homebrewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

10 Tips for Keeping Your Home Brewing Workspace Clean

Home Brewing WorkspaceMany brewers will tell you that they spend more time cleaning than brewing. While this may be true, there are a number of things that you can do to turn things around and make the cleaning process easier on yourself. Plus, a clean, organized home brewing workspace or area will go a long ways towards eliminating stress on brew day – and making sure your significant other is supportive of your brewing efforts!

 

Here are ten tips for keeping your home brewing workspace clean:

  1. Start clean. I find it’s best to start from a clean slate. Home brewing in a cluttered kitchen or basement gets annoying, especially when you find dishes or last week’s project in the way. Start with a clean, clear surface, and post-brew clean up with be that much easier.
  1. A brewer’s best friend: towels. Shop Bottle WasherAt the beginning of every brew day, I grab a stack of clean towels. They’re great for catching drips from the mash tun or boil kettle or wiping up spills (you will have spills). The sooner you can wipe up that spilled wort or beer, the less likely it is to become a sticky mess later on.
  1. Clean as you go. Just like with cooking, I’m a big fan of cleaning things up as you go along. Take advantage of wait time during the mash or boil to clean up some things from earlier steps. This saves time when brew day is done and helps to keep your home brewing workspace clean and clear.
  1. Rinse it – now. Most things that need cleaning in the home brewery benefit from an immediate rinse. Let that crud dry out and you’re just making things harder for yourself. Give it an immediate blast of water with a bottle or carboy washer then set it out to dry.
  1. Soak it. I find that most home brewing debris cleans up easily with an overnight soak in brewing cleanser. Give it a shake the next day, dump it, and rinse, and you’re usually ready to go for next time. Just be sure to inspect for your gear for any grime or deposits that need a little extra elbow grease.Shop Basic A
  1. Scrub it. For more difficult cleaning jobs, some scrubbing may be necessary. Using the right tool for the job is important. On plastics and other scratch-able materials, use a soft cloth to wipe down the surface. (Scratched surfaces can harbor wild yeast and bacteria.) For more durable materials, like glass and steel, brushes work well.
  1. Boil it. Boiling can be an effective means of cleaning your stainless steel homebrew equipment. Boiling can also sterilize it. This might work well for a stainless steel racking cane, thief, or brewing spoon, or for loosening up deposits on the bottom of your brew kettle.
  1. Compartmentalize. Keep your smaller gizmos and gadgets in a toolbox or similar compartmentalized storage box. This will help to keep your home brewing workspace clean and organized. It will also save time and energy when cleaning up after homebrewing.
  1. Stack it. Save space by stacking things like mash tuns, brew kettles, and buckets. Just be careful where you put your glass carboys – you don’t want them to fall.
  1. Hang it.Shop Bottle Tree Racking hoses, siphons, immersion wort chillers, and various other tools can take up a lot of space on a counter or table. Give yourself some room by hanging these items on a pegboard.

 

Keeping your home brewing workspace clean and clear can make all the difference between a stressful brew day and an enjoyable one. Looking for more home brewery organization tips? Check out these 5 Tips for Organizing Your Home Brewery.
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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.

Insanely Simple Russian Imperial Stout Recipe (Extract)


Russian Imperial StoutStouts have always been big brews, but Russian imperial stout is the biggest of the big. From the high gravity, to the complex, roasty malt flavors, to the assertive hoppiness, a Russian imperial stout recipe is not for the faint of heart.

Actually an English style beer, Russian Imperial Stout was made to be exported to the Nordic and Slavic regions of Europe and was reportedly popular with the Russian monarchy. The high gravity and alcohol content helped with the beer’s stability over travel, but also provided warmth in the colder climates. Some fruity, yeast derived esters combine with a malt complexity to create a rich, complex brew sometimes reminiscent of strong port. The beer is often aged for flavor development.

As with many English beer styles, Russian imperial stout has been adopted by American brewers who often make roastier, hoppier versions of the style. BJCP guidelines for Russian imperial stout are as follows:

 

  • OG: 1.075 – 1.115
  • FG: 1.018 – 1.030
  • ABV: 8 – 12%
  • IBUs: 50 – 90
  • SRM: 30 – 40+

 

Tips for Brewing a Russian Imperial Stout RecipeShop Calcium Carbonate

  • To get the gravity needed hit 8-12% ABV, you need a large amount of fermentable ingredients, a minimum of 9-10 pound of malt extract. Even for the all-grain brewer, malt extract can help make the mash a little less of a chore.
  • You might consider using alkaline water to compensate for the astringency and acidity of the roasted grains. Some calcium carbonate (food-grade chalk) added to the mash/steeping water can help.
  • To balance out the alcohol and intense maltiness, a strong hop schedule is required. If brewing extract or partial mash beer recipe, consider adding half of your malt extract at the end of the boil to help improve hops utilization.

 

Shop Liquid Malt ExtractUse this insanely simple extract beer recipe below to craft your own Russian imperial stout. It’s been somewhat “Americanized” with high alpha hops and some assertive, American hop late additions. We also have a couple Russian imperial stout recipe kits from Brewcraft and Brewer’s Best if you’d like to go that route.

Happy brewing!

 

Motor Oil Russian Imperial Stout Recipe
(Five-gallon batch, extract with specialty grains)

Specs  
OG: 1.088
FG: 1.025
ABV: 8.3%
IBUs: 82
SRM: 39Shop Barley Grains

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. Light LME
6.6 lbs. Amber LME (late addition)
1 lb. Chocolate malt (crushed)
.5 lb. Caramel 80L malt (crushed)
.5 lb. Roasted barley (crushed)
1 steeping bag for specialty grains
1.5 oz. Bravo hops at :60
1 oz. Columbus hops at :10
1 oz. Cascade hops at :10
2 packs Safale US-05 ale yeast

Directions
Heat 2.5 gallons of water in the boil kettle to 155-165˚F. Place crushed grains in the steeping bag and steep for 20 minutes. Mix in 6.6 lbs of light LME. Bring wort to a boil. Add Bravo hops and boil for 50 minutes. Add Columbus andShop Home Brew Starter Kit Cascade hops and boil for ten minutes. Stir quickly to create a whirlpool, then cool wort to 70˚F using an ice bath or an immersion wort chiller. Pour wort into clean, sanitized fermenter, then top off to make 5.5 gallons. Use a sanitized spoon to mix well, then pitch yeast. Ferment at 70˚F for two weeks, then transfer to secondary for three to four weeks. Bottle and age for 2-4 months or longer.

Do you love to brew dark, heavy beers? Try this Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA clone! Do you have a Russian imperial stout recipe? We’d love for you to share it: extract or all-grain!
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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.

Use 3 SMaSH Beer Recipes To Understand Ingredients

Making SMaSH Beer RecipesFor those of you who have never heard of SMaSH beer recipes, SMaSH is an acronym used in homebrewing for single malt and single hops. A SMaSH beer is a beer brewed using only one variety of malt and one variety of hop. This is significant since most beer recipes involve several different malts and several different hops. But SMaSH beer recipes only involves one malt and one hop.

After perusing Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide for some new beer recipes, it occurred to me that a very short list of ingredients could be used to brew a range of very different brews. With a single type of malt extract, a single hop, and a single yeast strain, you could brew a bitter, an ESB, and an IPA, simply by changing the proportion of ingredients used. This offers an opportunity for brewers to take advantage of bulk pricing on homebrew ingredients (which we offer here at E. C. Kraus), while still being able to brew a variety of beer styles.

The three SMaSH beer recipes below (all single malt, single hop, five-gallon batches) will require a total of:

Feel free to amend the beer recipes with other ingredients you may have on hand, such as different hops or some specialty grains. Alternatively, treat these brews as an experiment to get a strong sense of what each ingredient can contribute to a beer. All 3 SMaSH beer recipes assume brewing with a five-gallon kettle. Follow the instructions for extract brewing to brew each recipe. Don’t forget your caps and priming sugar! Shop Dried Malt Extract

 

British Bitter SMaSH Beer Recipe

An ordinary bitter is a session beer, meaning the alcohol content is low enough that you can have a couple pints without feeling too buzzed.

Specs
OG: 1.038
FG: 1.006-1.009
ABV: 3.8-4.2%
IBUs: 31
SRM: 3.6

Ingredients
4.5 lbs. light DME
1.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :60
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :10
1 pack Safale S-04 ale yeast

 

E.S.B. SMaSH Beer Recipe Shop Hops

An ESB, or Extra Special Bitter, is a stronger version of an ordinary bitter. Feel free to increase the hops if you enjoy hop bitterness, flavor, or aroma. Feel free to steep some crushed caramel malt for extra color and flavor.

Specs
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.008-1.014
ABV: 4.8-5.6%
IBUs: 31
SRM: 4.4

Ingredients
6 lbs. light DME
2 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :60
0.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :10
1 pack Safale S-04 ale yeast

 

English IPA SMaSH Beer Recipe Shop Steam Freak Kits

An English IPA is the bitterest and most hoppy of the English pale ales, though usually less aggressive than American IPAs.

Specs
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.008-1.014
ABV: 4.8-5.6%
IBUs: 45
SRM: 4.4

Ingredients
6 lbs. light DME
2 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :60
2 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :20
1 pack Safale S-04 ale yeast Shop Fermenter

 

What are some of the homebrew ingredients you use in every batch? What are some ideas you have for brewing SMaSH beer recipes?
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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.

10 Home Brewing Spices For Your Creative Pleasure

Man Using Spices In BeerLooking to add a dash of creativity to your homebrew beer? Try using one – or more – of these ten home brewing spices! Adding spices to your beer can create a whole new dimension to its flavor profile. Here are 10 spices you can experiment with:

 

  1. Caraway – If you’re a fan of rye bread, you might try a caraway rye ale. Caraway seeds tend to work well with darker beers. Use about 5 grams of toasted seeds per gallon as a starting point, added for a few days at the end of secondary fermentation.
  1. Cayenne – Much like with a chipotle smoked porter, cayenne can be used to give a spicy kick to nearly any beer. Remember, moderation is key! 1/2 teaspoon at the end of the boil in a five-gallon batch should give you plenty of heat.
  1. Cinnamon – Cinnamon actually comes from the bark of a tree. There are two types: Cassia cinnamon – the one most commonly found in grocery stores – and “true” cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamomum zeylanicum). Choose which one you prefer. Both work well in combination with other commonly used home brewing spices like: ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Put the cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon directly in the boil.
  1. Shop Beer FlavoringsCloves – You might try to add a dash (no more!) of cloves to a hefeweizen to accent the clove character of the Weizen beer yeast, which tends to come out when this style is fermented at the lower end of the temperature range. This is one of the more practical ways of using spices in beer. Cloves also work nicely in winter spiced ales.
  1. Coriander – Notorious for its use in Belgian witbier, coriander can also lend a pleasant citrus spiciness to other brews, such as saisons.
  1. Fennel Seed – I had an excellent beer at a homebrew festival a couple years ago, a whiskey fennel ale. It was an amber ale base, with the whiskey and fennel added in perfect balance. Try from a cup to a quart of whiskey added into the secondary fermenter. The fennel seed can be added towards the end of the boil, into the fermenter, or maybe even steeped in the whiskey for a few days prior to mixing it into the beer.
  1. Ginger – Of all the spices you can add to a beer, ginger is one of the most commonly found. Used in high enough proportions (an ounce or more per gallon), it can lend a very sharp, spicy kick to your homebrew. Check out our guide for brewing a real ginger ale. Buy Fridge Monkey
  1. Mole – New Belgium’s Cocoa Mole Ale is amazing. Though mole is actually a blend of spices, you can find mole blends at most grocery stores.
  1. Peppercorns – I have had a couple of excellent saisons brewed with peppercorns. As when using most spices in beer, the subtlety was the key. There are a variety of different peppercorns (white, red, black, green). Try aging some beer on a teaspoon or two of whole peppercorns for a touch of spicy complexity.
  1. Turmeric – A subtle earthy spice, turmeric is a major component of yellow curry powder with an intense yellow color. Try mixing turmeric with a combination of other spices, like ginger and coriander in your homebrew, but be aware that it may stain your plastic fermenter!

 

*Remember: When adding home brewing spices to beer, less is more! If you’re Shop Accurate Scalesunfamiliar with a particular spice, start with just a touch. For the stronger spices (like hot chiles), a teaspoon in the homebrew may well impart a lot of flavor. A quarter-ounce to an ounce at most will be plenty, adding the spice either into the secondary fermenter or during the last 10-15 minutes of the boil. I’ve found that when some home brewing spices are boiled too long they can impart some bitterness that may overwhelm the palate.

In the event that the spice flavor is too much, try giving the beer a month or two to age, maybe even longer. The spice will usually subside to some degree over time.

Have you ever tried adding home brewing spices to beers? What spices would you like to try using in your future brew?
—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, homebrewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Homebrew Spruce Beer Recipe

Spruce For Making Spruce Beer RecipeBefore we get to the spruce beer recipe lets talk a little bit about spruce. Trees and their branches, barks, and berries have been used traditionally for flavoring beers, especially in Scandinavian countries, for hundreds of years. Juniper, spruce, and fir are some of the most common. Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery revived the Finnish Sahti, a traditional beer made from rye, barley, and juniper. Their interpretation is called Sah-tea.

In North America, spruce beer was used by American colonists to prevent scurvy. Though we don’t have to worry too much about scurvy these days, a good spruce beer is a unique, refreshing, and interesting beverage.

 

Finding Spruce for Your Spruce Beer Recipe

For the adventurous forager, spruce can be found in the evergreen forests of North America. Cuttings from new growth are best for brewing. Make a tea by boiling the branches in water for 30 minutes. Strain out the branches and add this homemade spruce essence to your mash or boil.

To get an idea of how much to add to your homebrew, mix a small amount of your homebrewed spruce essence into to a commercial beer that’s similar to the base style of beer you’re making.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can cut down your own spruce tree and run the wort through the branches, like this guy. Shop Spruce Essence

If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands for lumber-jacking around the forest, commercially made spruce essence is less risky and more predictable.

 

Tips for Brewing A Spruce Beer Recipe

  • Add up to 4 oz. of fresh spruce tips late in the boil for woody, resiny flavor and aroma.
  • Less is more! Start with a small amount of spruce flavor for your first spruce beer. You can always add more in your next batch.
  • If you find you’ve added too much spruce to your beer, give it some time to age. You might be surprised how an “undrinkable” beer can change over several months.

 

Homebrew Spruce Beer Recipe

1/2 lb. crystal malt (40L) Shop Liquid Malt Extact
1/3 lb. roasted barley
1/3 lb. chocolate malt
1/4 lb. rye malt
1/4 lb. black patent malt
6 lbs. dark malt extract syrup
4 oz. molasses
2 oz. Hallertau hops at :60
1-4 oz. spruce tips (based on taste preference)
*alternatively, use spruce essence according to package directions
Whitbread (Safale S-04) ale yeast
Corn sugar for priming

 

Shop Beer FlavoringsDirections: Steep specialty malts in ~150°F. water for 30 minutes. Add the extract and molasses and bring to a boil. Add the hops and the spruce tips and boil for 30 minutes. Strain the hot wort into a fermenter containing enough clean water to make 5 gallons. Pitch yeast when wort cools to 70°F. or less.

Ferment at 65-70°F. then bottle with the priming sugar. Age 3-6 weeks before drinking.

This is a somewhat basic spruce beer recipe, but there has been some thought put into the balance of the flavor and body. Feel free to experiment and create your own spruce recipe.
—–
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.

7 Tips For A Healthy Homebrew Fermentation

Healthy Homebrew FermentationIf malt is the heart, or the backbone, of beer, then yeast is its soul. While malt is responsible for flavor, color, and body, and hops for bitterness, yeast often contributes many subtle and sometimes incredibly complex nuances to beer. Without yeast, beer would not exist as we know it.

It stands to reason then that in order to make good beer we should do everything we can to make sure we are having a healthy homebrew fermentation with each batch we make.

Yeast is a living, breathing microorganism that responds to stresses or challenges it faces during storage and fermentation. In some cases, and for some beer styles, it’s actually beneficial to stress the beer yeast, but more often than not, it’s critical to make sure that the yeast is happy and that you have a healthy homebrew fermentation with little stress on the yeast.

In fact, good yeast management is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your homemade beer. Having a healthy homebrew fermentation is what it is all about.

Below are 7 tips for making sure that your homebrewing yeast is happy, healthy and well cared for:

 

  1. Shop Liquid Beer YeastUse fresh yeast – All living things die eventually, and beer yeast is no exception. Over time, the yeast loses its viability, so it’s important to use the freshest beer yeast you can when homebrewing. Otherwise, what few living yeast cells might remain in the package will have a very hard time fermenting your beer, possible resulting in a stuck fermentation. Dry yeast is best used within 1 to 2 years of the packaging date. Liquid yeast is best used within about three months of the packaging date. Check the yeast package for this information to make sure you’re brewing with a fresh yeast culture.
  1. Check your pitch rates – The pros recommend pitching a specific amount of beer yeast depending on the gravity and the style of beer being made. In general, a pack of dry beer yeast that has been stored under the right conditions has enough yeast cells for a beer of moderate gravity. Lagers and high-gravity beers require more yeast. If brewing with liquid yeast it’s usually recommended to use a yeast starter (see below) and/or to pitch multiple packs of yeast.
  1. Make a yeast starter – This is an easy and effective way to help insure that you’ll have a healthy beer fermentation. A yeast starter will help to guarantee that there are enough healthy yeast cells for fermentation. Read our blog post on yeast starters to learn how to make one.
  1. Shop Stir PlateUse a stir plate – A stir plate helps make yeast starters healthier by infusing oxygen into the starter, giving the yeast what it needs in order to grow and multiply. It’s a really cool device that spins a magnetic stir bar inside a flask or jar, driving out CO2 and at the same time making oxygen available for the yeast. It’s a really good investment that will pay off through many happy, healthy fermentations.
  1. Use yeast nutrient – Though yeast nutrient is not essential to making beer, every professional brewer I know uses it. Yeast nutrient simply provides some of the nutrients that support a healthy fermentation. It is typically added during the last 10 to 15 minutes of the boil, usually right along with Irish moss or another kettle coagulant. It can also be added to the secondary fermenter to help resolve a slow or stuck fermentation.
  1. Oxygenate the wort – After yeast is pitched, it goes through an aerobic growth phase called respiration. Oxygen is critical to this step of the process. For this reason, aerating the wort by stirring it very vigorously can go a long ways in helping your beer have a healthy fermentation. Just give the wort a good stir right before you pitch the yeast. Even better, invest in an oxygenation system to pump pure oxygen right into the wort.
  1. Shop Wort AeratorControl fermentation temperature – After making sure that the yeast that goes into your beer is up to the task, keep it happy by maintaining a steady fermentation temperature within the recommended range for whatever strain of beer yeast you’re using. Ales do best in the ballpark of 65-70˚F., while lagers require temperatures between 45 and 55˚F. Either way, some techniques for controlling homebrew fermentation temperature will serve you and your yeast well for many batches to come.

 

Using some or all of the techniques above will encourage your brews to have a healthy homebrew fermentation and help you make the best beer possible.

What techniques do you use to keep your homebrew yeast happy?
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David Ackley is a beer writer, homebrewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

10 High Gravity Beer Recipe Kits For Brewing This Winter

High Gravity Beer Recipe KitsAs the weather gets colder, it’s time to ward off the winter chills with some high-gravity brews.

High-gravity simply means that there are more fermentable sugars in the wort prior to fermentation, leading to more alcohol after the fermentation. You literally get more bang for your buck with these high gravity beer recipe kits!

The extra alcohol creates a warming sensation that’s pretty nice when it’s cold out. More booze also means that these beers will age well, and you probably won’t drink them as quickly. And, high-gravity homebrew also makes a great gift!

Many of these beers are called “Imperial” or “Double”. The trick is having the bigger version still emulate the base style. But just because high gravity beer recipe kits are bigger doesn’t mean they’re harder to brew. Just like the normal gravity beer recipe kits, these are still extract and partial mash brews complete with easy-to-follow instructions.

**Remember, all orders at E.C. Kraus over $50 come with free shipping, so you’re already there with just one of these high gravity beer recipe kits! Plus, order two or more beer recipe kits (any combination, any brand) and save 10% on all of them! Your discount will be automatically applied when the second homebrew recipe kit is added to your shopping cart.Shop Steam Freak Kits

 

  1. Double IPA: The top three most highly rated beers on BeerAdvocate.com are all Double IPAs. You can brew your own hop bomb with this adventurous kit from Brewer’s Best! Six ounces of hops pull in 100+ IBUs! (ABV: 7.8% – 8.3%)
  1. Belgian Dark Strong: This kit uses Dark Belgian Candi Sugar to create a rich, high-gravity brown ale with the characteristic Belgian flavor. Bitterness is moderate at 25-30 IBUs. (ABV: 7.3% – 8.3%)
  1. Imperial Blonde Ale: This high gravity beer recipe kit is a beefed up version of the easy-drinking American craft beer style. Some wheat dried malt extract enhances body and mouthfeel, while a pound of honey malt contributes a nutty and sweet honey character. (ABV: 7% – 8%)
  1. Imperial Pale Ale: It’s a big pale ale, just a little more malt forward and balanced than the Double IPA above. The mix of specialty malts include Caramel 80, Victory, and Carapils, giving this brew a strong malty complexity to balance out the close to 70 IBUs. (ABV: 8% – 8.5%)
  1. Russian Imperial Stout: Big and roasty, it’s the ideal cold weather brew. Our customer review says it all: “This is a damn good beer.” (ABV: 7.75% – 8.25%)
  1. Von Baron Belgian Tripel: Over nine pounds of malt extract and dark belgian candi sugar make this a complex, malty brew fit for cold nights. Light amber in color, with just a hint of citrus flavor. (ABV: 6.75%- 7.25%)
  1. Barnstormer Barleywine: Another malt-forward brew from Steam Freak with over 10 pounds of malt, this barleywine is perfect for special occasions. Be sure to age a bottle (or a few!) to see how the flavor develops! (ABV: 9.75% – 10.25%)Buy Brew Kettles
  1. Bourbon Barrel Imperial Porter: This one’s really making my mouth water. This high gravity beer recipe kit comes with American oak spirals and Kentucky Bourbon flavoring to replicate that barrel-aged flavor. Tip: Mix the bourbon flavor with real Kentucky Bourbon for an extra punch! (ABV: 7.5% – 8%)
  1. San Diego Double IPA: This high gravity beer recipe kit from Steam Freak. It’s an IPA with more hops and more malt – more everything! It’s an extremely well balanced beer with a lot that’s designed to shock the senses. (ABV: 7.75% – 7.75%)
  1. Le Belge Trappist Tripel White: This brew has a golden color with a toasty malt finish. The alcohol is up there, so it’s a sipper. The flavorful balance of specialty grains and hops hides the alcohol well. (ABV: 8.75% – 9.25%)

 

What’s your favorite high gravity beer recipe kit? Tell us in the comments below!
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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale Clone Recipe

Bottle Of Sierra Nevada Celebration AleOne of my all-time favorites is Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale, and I’d like to have it year-around. That’s why I started digging for a Celebration ale clone recipe.

Celebration ale a full-bodied IPA brewed with two-row malt, caramel malt, and the season’s freshest hops. In true Sierra Nevada style, Cascade and Centennial hops are in the spotlight. A touch of Carapils malt adds a frothy white head that lasts and lasts, providing a billowing pillow for the spicy hop aroma that emanates from the glass.

As a big time mega craft brewer, Sierra Nevada has access to the very first hops of the harvest. Given the changes in the growing season from year to year, Celebration is a little different each year it’s brewed. If you grew your own hops this year, you may want to play around with your own crop. If adding your own fresh, un-dried hops to the boil, read this short article about wet hopping. Otherwise, we can still obtain abundant hop flavor and aroma using pellets.

The following Celebration ale clone recipe is adapted from the October 2000 issue of Brew Your Own magazine. Use it to enjoy Celebration Ale year round!

 

Celebration Ale Clone Recipe
(All Grain, 5 Gallon Recipe)

Specifications:
OG = 1.064
FG = 1.014
IBUs = 60
SRM = 12
ABV = 6.4%

Ingredients:
11.5 lbs. two-row malt
1 lb. Crystal 40L malt
.5 lb. Carapils malt
1 oz. Chinook hops at :60 (11 AAUs)Shop Steam Freak Kits
1.75 oz. Cascade hops at :30 (8.5 AAUs)
1 tsp. Irish moss at :15 mins
.66 oz. Cascade hops (dry hop)
.66 oz. Centennial hops (dry hop)
Wyeast 1056: American Ale Yeast or Safale US-05
.75 cups corn sugar (if bottling)

Directions:
Mash the grains with a single infusion at the higher end of the temperature range (~156°F) for big body and mouthfeel. Draw off and sparge to collect enough wort for a full-volume boil. Boil for 90 minutes, adding the hops according to the schedule. Add 1 teaspoon of Irish moss with 15 minutes left in the boil. Whirpool, chill, and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter, then ferment at 66°-70°F for seven days. Dry hop for five days in secondary. Bottle or keg at you would normally.

 

Partial Mash Option

Shop Conical FermenterIf you are not an all-grain brewer, no fear. Here is an alternate procedure for making a Celebration ale clone from extract in a partial mash.

Replace the two-row malt with 6.6 lbs. light LME and 2.75 lbs. two-row malt. Steep the two-row with the Crystal 40L and Carapils (all crushed) for 30 minutes in 1.5 gallons of water at 156°F. Strain out the grains and rinse them with 1 gallon of water at 170°F, collecting the runoff in the boil kettle. Mix in the liquid malt extract and bring to a boil.

Boil for 90 minutes, adding the hops according to the schedule. Add 1 teaspoon of Irish moss with 15 minutes left in the boil. Whirpool, chill, and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter, topping off with enough water to make five gallons. Ferment at 66°-70°F for seven days. Dry hop for five days in secondary. Bottle or keg at you would normally.

And there you have it… a Celebration ale clone recipe for brewing all-grain or extract in a partial mash, so know is the time to get started!
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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.