Quick Guide To Belgian Beer Styles

One Of The Belgian Beer StylesBelgium has one of the oldest, most diverse, and vibrant beer cultures in the world, from the centuries-old Trappist breweries housed in monasteries to the multitude of artisanal farmhouse breweries littered throughout the countryside. There is a lot of history when it comes to Belgian beer styles.

It would take a very big book to list all of the varieties of beer made in Belgium, so for the purposes of this blog post, I will list some of the styles that are most iconic of the country and the ones you will most commonly find when home brewing Belgian style beers.

 

  • Belgian Pale Ale – A Belgian pale ale looks very similar to it’s American cousin, but the flavor profile is all its own. For one, Belgian pale ale is lower on the IBU scale and more malt focused. Pale malts form the base of the grain bill, with some medium-colored malts like Vienna, Munich, Biscuit, and Aromatic malt providing some color and complexity. Adjunct sugars may be used to increase gravity, add flavor, and impart a dry finish. Spices may be used for additional complexity, but Belgian yeast provides the signature fruity and spicy flavors that define this style.
  • Belgian Abbey-Style Beers (Singel, Dubbel, Tripel) – Abbey-style beers are made in the style of those crafted by the Trappist breweries, six of which are located in Belgium. These abbey beers are segregated by alcoholic strength and characterized by a range of malt flavors that may be described as toast, raisins, or dates. They may have a sweet, rum-like flavor from the use of Belgian candi sugar. An Abbey-style Belgian ale yeast provides dominant fruity and aromatic flavors. A singel may be low to moderate strength and golden in color,Shop Beer Flavorings with a dubbel often darker and closer to 7% ABV. Belgian tripel tends to be golden, dry, herbal or floral, and 7.5-10% ABV. Consider making this Westmalle Tripel clone recipe. It’s a great place to start when home brewing Belgian beer styles.
  • Belgian Witbier – Made popular among modern drinkers by the likes of Hoegaarden and Blue Moon, Belgian wit is one of the most well-known styles of Belgian beer. Witbier, or “white beer”, is very pale in color (2-4 SRM), cloudy, and somewhat sweet with a high proportion of unmalted wheat. Orange peel and spice may contribute a refreshing, fruity complexity, but should not dominate the flavor profile. A Belgian wheat yeast strain will provide the appropriate phenolics and esters for this style.
  • SaisonSaison is style of beer from the French-speaking part of Belgium. It’s a moderate strength pale ale brewed with a little more hops than a Belgian pale, often including adjunct grains like wheat, adjunct sugar such as cane sugar, and spices, especially coriander, orange peel, or a mix of “mystery spices”. Saison Dupont is considered one of the classics.
  • Lambic – Lambic is a type of sour ale that should only be attempted by seasoned homebrewers. It’s characterized by a dry, acidic taste and a range of complex flavors that may be smokey or earthy. A true lambic requires a culture of wild bacteria and yeast and aging of a year or longer to achieve the appropriate flavor profile. Young and old lambic may be blended to produce gueuze, while fruit lambic may be aged on raspberries or cherries.Shop Steam Freak Kits

 

You will likely see a number of Belgian beer styles beyond those listed above – remember this is just a quick guide to Belgian beer styles – including a mashup of other common styles: Belgian stout, Belgian IPA, Belgian amber, Belgian holiday beers, Belgian specialty beers. The list above is only the common ones you will run across when home brewing Belgian style beers.

What are some of your favorite Belgian beer styles to brew?
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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.

A Quick Way To Learn Hop Aroma Profiles

Smelling Hop Aroma ProfilesOur friend Bryan Roth recently shared some of the reasons that experimenting is a good homebrewing habit. In that pioneering spirit, here’s an experiment that will help you learn about how different hop aroma profiles and how they affect your beer.

A quick refresher:

Hops have essential oils that contribute to beer aroma. When added at the end of the boil or to the secondary fermenter, these oils can develop aromas described as citrus, pine, spice, dark fruit, herbal, or floral, to name a few. A hop aroma wheel can be a useful tool for selecting appropriate hop varieties, but the best way to learn the different hop aroma profiles and what they can offer to your homebrew is to actually brew with them.

That said, with an endless number of hop varieties out there and more being released all the time, it could take years to brew all the beers it would take to get a complete understanding of different hop aroma profiles. In the experiment below, you can brew one batch of beer, then split it up after fermentation to dry hop with different hop varieties. This will expose you to different hop aroma profiles 5 times as fast as using a single hop variety.

 

The Experiment Shop Hops

You will need:

 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Brew one batch of beer, but only use the first bittering addition during the boil.
  2. After primary fermentation, divide the batch into five, 1-gallon jugs and dry hop each jug with about 1/4 to 1/2 oz. of each hop variety. The exact amount isn’t as important as making sure you use the same amount for each 1-gallon batch. A typical dry hopping period lasts about 5-7 days.
  3. Bottle the beers, being sure to identify which are which.Shop Hop Bags
  4. When the beer is ready, do a tasting session to identify the different hop aroma profiles and characteristics presented by each hop. Maybe try a blind tasting to figure out which is your favorite. Was it the one you expected?
  5. Share the beers with friends to see if they agree with your assessments. What seems like a pleasing citrus aroma for one person may be unpleasant for someone else.
  6. To take it a step further, try blending the beers to get a sense of what hop varieties work well together.

 

Learning the characteristics of your homebrewing ingredients is one of the best ways to become a better brewer. With experiments like this one, you can accelerate your way to becoming a true hop aficionado.

Have you tried some experiments with hops? Did you learn anything about hop aroma profiles?
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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.

Brewing An Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA Clone Beer Recipe

Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA CloneI was drinking one of my favorite beers last night and felt compelled to share a clone beer recipe for it. It was the Dubhe Imperial Black IPA from Uinta Brewing Co. of Salt Lake City, Utah. Uinta is one of may favorite American breweries and they make some fantastic beers. If you haven’t tried any of them yet, I highly encourage you to take a tour of their beer selection.

Their Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA is a BIG beer: pitch black, 9.2% ABV, 109 IBUs. As dark as it is, it’s surprisingly not very heavy on the roasted flavors. Hops are a major factor, with huge spicy and citrus characteristics throwing themselves across the palate. There’s some light toasty and nutty character, which could come from the use of toasted hemp seeds. At 9.2% alcohol by volume, this beer is definitely a sipper.

Scouring the internet for tips and advice, I came across the Jamil Show on the Brewing Network. Jamil Zainasheff is something of a rockstar in the homebrewing world. He’s the author of two books about brewing, he writes the style guide section of Brew Your Own magazine, and has brewed dozens (maybe even hundreds) of award-winning homebrew beer recipes.

In one episode of the show, they interview a brewer from Uinta Brewing Co. to get the details on Dubhe. Here are some key points from the episode for brewing an all-grain version:

 

  • Shop GypsumUinta Dubhe uses a single step infusion mash at 152˚F. (To make enough beer for their 120-barrel batch, they have to mash twice and boil three times – a 22-hour brew day!)
  • The brewer recommends using calcium sulfate (a.k.a. gypsum) for water hardness (can help accentuate the hop character).
  • The brewer goes into a lot of detail about grain and hop ratios. I’ve scaled them down for a 5.5-gallon batch in the clone beer recipe below.
  • The brewer recommends using yeast nutrient since this is such a high gravity beer (normally added in the last 15 minutes of the boil).
  • Ferment at 68˚F.
  • Dry hop with Falconer’s Flight hops for about three weeks.
  • Uinta Dubhe uses a proprietary yeast strain, but the brewer recommends California ale yeast or German ale yeast.

 

Though the brewer admitted that a craft beer this big is “not a very efficient use of raw ingredients,” I highly recommend giving it a shot – especially if you love hops!Shop Yeast Energizer

Here are some additional tips for brewing this Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA clone:

 

  • The clone beer recipe below assumes a 75% mash efficiency. It can be difficult to get a good efficiency with such a high gravity beer, so you may want to increase the grain bill by 10% or so to make sure you hit your numbers.
  • Assume a fair amount of volume will be lost in the trub, both at the end of the boil and after fermentation.
  • Also, boil-off volume should be adjusted to accommodate the longer, two-hour boil.
  • Hemp seeds can be found at a specialty grocery or health food store. I’d suggest toasting them in a dry skillet for several minutes to increase the toasty flavor and reduce the likelihood of them getting too soggy and clogging the mash.

 

This is a great beer for drinking year-round, but it’s also a strong beer, so it should age well. Don’t feel like you need to drink it all at once!

Ready to give it a shot? Check out the clone beer recipe below!Shop Barley Grains

 

Black as Night DIPA (Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA Clone) 
(all-grain recipe, 5.5 gallon batch)

Specs 
OG: 1.093
FG: 1.023
ABV: 9.2%
IBUs: 120+
SRM: 40+

Ingredients 
16.2 lbs. Pale 2-Row malt
2 lbs. Munich 10L malt
2 lb. Crystal 60L malt
1 lbs. Chocolate malt
.25 lb. Roasted barley Shop Hops
.25 lb Carafa III
.25 lb. toasted hemp seeds added to last 15 mins. of mash (use a grain bag)
1.5 oz. Chinook hops at :60 left in boil
2.5 oz. Columbus hops at :30 left in boil
2 tsp. Yeast nutrient at :15 left in boil
1.4 oz. Bravo hops at :5 left in boil
1.4 oz. Columbus hops at :5 left in boil
1.4 oz. Bravo hops during 60-minute whirlpool
3 oz Falconer’s Flight hops dry-hopped for 21 days
3 packets Wyeast 1056: American Ale Yeast or Wyeast 1007: German Ale Yeast (into a 2L yeast starter)

 

Directions: Mash crushed grains at 152˚F for 60 minutes. Add toasted hemp seeds during last 15 minutes of mash. Sparge to collect a total of roughly 9 Shop Steam Freak Kitsgallons of wort in the brew kettle. Boil for 120 minutes. Add hops according to schedule above. Whirlpool for one hour. Chill wort to 65-70˚F and oxygenate. Ferment at 68˚F. Add dry hops to secondary fermenter and allow for 3 weeks in secondary. Cold crash prior to kegging or bottling to help dry hops settle out.

Have you brewed a Black IPA before? What tips do you have about brewing a Black IPA? Share in the comments below!
—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

Homebrew Hacks: The Art of the Blow Off Tube

Using A Blow Off TubeIf you’ve been homebrewing for a while, chances are you’ve had a foamy fermentation bubble up through your airlock, maybe even blow the lid right off your fermenter! This is the time you wished you used a blow off tube.

The foam on top of your fermenting beer is often called “krausen”. It’s a mix of very active yeast, gummy protein, and hoppy trub that rises and falls over the course of several days. Anytime you anticipate an extra vigorous fermentation, such as when brewing high-gravity beers or fermenting at higher temperatures, you might want to rig up a blow off tube setup.

If you’ve been on many brewery tours, you may have noticed the hoses that run from the fermenters into a big bucket of sanitizer solution. The bucket may or may not be actively bubbling. It may even be spilling over with yeasty trub! Below is some information that will show you how to make a blow off tube for the homebrew setup.

The mechanism is basically a large airlock system. It allows CO2 to escape from the carboy or bucket fermenter, while also providing an exit for any yeasty krausen, which will get pushed into the bucket of sanitizer.

 

To make a blow off tube setup, you will need:

  • a large jar or small bucket (a large mason jar or plastic milk jug works fine)

 

 

How to Make a Blow-Off Tube

  1. Prepare a sanitizer bath. Just a gallon or so should be sufficient.
  1. Clean and sanitize all parts. Reserve some of the diluted sanitizer.
  1. Fit one end of the hose over the inside of the airlock.
  1. Fill the bucket or jar about two-thirds full of sanitizer. Leave some space to give that foam a place to go.
  1. Attach the airlock end of the blow off tube to your fermenter and run the other end into the bucket of sanitizer.

 

More often than not, you’ll probably have to rig up a homebrew blow off tube as the Shop Carboysfoam is already flowing out of the airlock and all over the floor. Just keep your cool, clean the mess, and remember to sanitize. With all that stuff coming out of the fermenter, there’s probably not much that’s going to get in.

A homebrew blow off tube setup can be a lifesaver when fermentation gets out of control. To avoid a blow-off disaster, leave about a gallon worth of headspace during primary fermentation to give the krausen room to grow. Be sure to check on your fermentation over the first few days and have your blow off tube ready!

So that’s the basics of how to make a blow off tube. Do you use a homebrew blow off setup? Do you use it all the time or only when you need it? Share in the comments below!
—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Fuller’s London Porter Clone Recipe (All-Grain and Extract)

Example Of A Fuller's London Porter CloneWhen I was living out of the country in 2012, I was desperate to find good beer. Luckily, the grocery store carried a good number of imports from Germany, Belgian, and Great Britain. This is where I discovered Fuller’s Brewery of London. The ESB and London Pride were both excellent, but I really fell in love Fuller’s London Porter. Paired with chocolate or grilled meats, it’s a real winner. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that Fuller’s London Porter is one of the best porters I’ve had.

So I was happy to stumble upon these Fuller’s London porter clone recipes, both extract and all-grain, from Brew Your Own magazine.

 

Fuller’s London Porter Clone Recipe
(5 gallons, all-grain recipe)

Specs:
OG = 1.056
FG = 1.014
IBUs = 35
SRM = 62
ABV = 5.4%

Ingredients:
9 lb. 12 oz. British 2-row pale ale malt
14 oz. Crystal malt (60L)
7 oz. Chocolate malt
7 oz. Black patent malt
4 oz. Roasted barley
1.7 oz. Kent Goldings hops at 60 mins (8.5 AAU)
.25 oz. Kent Goldings hops at 15 mins (1.25 AAU)
.25 oz. Kent Goldings at 5 minsShop Steam Freak Kits
.25 oz. Kent Goldings 0 mins
1 tsp. Irish moss at 15 mins
Wyeast 1968: London ESB Yeast (w/ 1.5L yeast starter)
0.75 cups corn sugar (for priming)

Directions
Prepare a 1.5L yeast starter in advance of brew day. Using fairly hard water (something resembling the London water profile), mash crushed grains for 60 minutes at 152-156°F in 4-4.5 gallons of water. Sparge to collect ~6.5 gallons of wort. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops and Irish moss according to schedule. Chill wort and transfer to fermenter. Pitch yeast and ferment at 70˚F.

 

Fuller’s London Porter Clone Recipe Shop Barley Grains
(5 gallons, extract w/grains)

Specs:
OG = 1.056
FG = 1.014
IBU = 35
SRM = 62
ABV = 5.4%

Ingredients:
1 lb. 10 oz. Light dried malt extract
4 lb. 5 oz. Light liquid malt extract (late addition)
1 lb. British 2-row pale ale malt
14 oz. Crystal malt (60L)
7 oz. Chocolate malt
7 oz. Black patent malt
4 oz. Roasted barley
1.7 oz. Kent Goldings hops at 60 mins (8.5 AAU)Shop Fermenter
.25 oz. Kent Goldings hops at 15 mins (1.25 AAU)
.25 oz. Kent Goldings at 5 mins
.25 oz. Kent Goldings 0 mins
1 tsp. Irish moss at 15 mins
Wyeast 1968: London ESB Yeast (w/ 1.5L yeast starter)
0.75 cups corn sugar (for priming)

Directions
Steep crushed grains in 1 gal. of 152-156˚F water for 45 minutes. Strain and rinse grains with hot water, collecting the wort in a brew kettle. Mix in DME and top off with enough water to make ~6.5 gallons of wort. (If brewing in a smaller kettle, I recommend increasing each of the hop additions by 25%.) Bring wort to a boil. Add 1.7 oz. of Kent Goldings hops and boil for 45 minutes. Remove kettle from heat and stir in LME. Bring back to a boil and add .25 oz. Kent Goldings hops and Irish Moss. Boil for ten minutes, then add .25 oz. Kent Goldings hops. Boil for five more minutes, turn off heat and immediately add remaining hops.

Do you have a killer porter recipe? What tips would you share for brewing a Fuller’s London Porter clone recipe, or any English Porter for that matter?
—–
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.

Using High Alpha Hops For Bittering

High Alpha HopsWhile noble hops are revered for their delicate aromatic qualities and are lower in alpha acid content, high alpha hops (or “super alphas”) offer maximum bittering potential per ounce. Super high alpha hops will have 10% AA or higher, some into the high teens!

What this means for the budget-minded brewer (and who isn’t?), is that you can get the same amount of bitterness using less hops with a high alpha hop than with a lower alpha acid hop. This not only saves money, but also reduces the amount of trub in the kettle and the volume of beer lost in the trub. Here’s an example of how to do a hop substitution:

Hop A has an alpha acid content of 5%. The beer recipe calls for one ounce. Hop B has an alpha acid of 10%. You can use half an ounce of Hop B to end up with the same amount of bitterness and IBUs.

This being said, not all alpha acids are created equal. Cohumulone is a type of alpha acid that tends to present a harsher bitterness, so it’s important to key an eye on the percentage of cohumulone when switching out one type of hop for another. Otherwise, you may change the quality of the bitterness in your beer from something clean or soft into a bitterness that’s harsh or biting. A hop acid chart can be helpful in identifying typical cohumulone content, but the best thing to do is experiment and gauge for yourself what hops provide the qualities you enjoy.

A rule of thumb: these super high alpha hops seem to do best in bigger beers – beers with lots of flavor. For more delicate beers, use the lower alpha acid hops.

 

Without further ado, here are some of the most popular super high alpha hops used by homebrewers:

  • BravoShop HopsBravo is sometimes called a “super Cascade.” It’s a good bittering hop with desirable flavor and aroma characteristics described as fruity and floral. (14-17% AA)
  • Chinook – Chinook is a classic American bittering hop. When used in later hop additions, it gives an herbal, somewhat smoky character. (12-14% AA)
  • Citra – Citra is one of the more popular varieties of high alpha hops. In addition to the high alpha acid content, Citra offers flavors and aromas of grapefruit, melon, and tropical fruit. (11-13% AA)
  • Columbus – Columbus is one of the high alpha hops with flavor and aroma characteristics described as oniony, citrusy, and resiny. Sometimes called Tomahawk. (14-16% AA)
  • Galena – A clean bittering hop that’s well suited for a variety of styles. (10-14% AA)Shop Accurate Scales
  • Horizon – Good for hop-forward beers like pale ales and IPAs. When used for flavor and aroma additions, it lends herbal, earthy, and spicy characteristics. (11-13% AA)
  • Millenium – Released in 2000, Millenium is a cross of Nugget and Coumbus with floral, resiny, and spicy characteristics. (14.5-16.5% AA)
  • Simcoe® – Simcoe is another of the high alpha hops from the Cascade hop family. Its strong piney characteristics make is popular in IPAs and double IPAs. (12-14% AA)
  • Sorachi Ace – Sorachi Ace is a cross between Brewers Gold and Saaz. It has a distinct lemony quality. (10.5-12.2% AA)
  • Summit – Summit is one of the highest of all the alpha hops with citrus characteristics. (17.5-19% AA)Shop Steam Freak Kits
  • Warrior – Warrior is a newer bittering hop with very high alpha acid content. Flavor and aroma desribed as grapefruit, lemon, and pine. (14-16% AA)
  • Yakima Magnum – Yakima Magnum is a clean and versatile bittering hop derived from the German-grown Magnum hop. (12-14% AA)
  • Zythos – Zythos is a blend of popular American hops, featuring notes of pineapple, tropical fruit, and a touch of pine. (10-12% AA)

 

What are some of your favorite super high alpha hops and why? Share in the comments below!
—–
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

Create Your Own Seasonal Beer Brewing Calendar

Beers To Put On A Beer Brewing CalendarAt certain times of the year, some styles of beers just taste better than others. An imperial stout in summer and a hefeweizen in winter seems equally out of place. But you can’t well wait til December to brew your imperial stout and hope that it will be ready by Christmas. Enter: a seasonal beer brewing calendar.

Due to the nature of brewing, it’s important to do some planning and scheduling if you want to drink your beer during a certain time period. Plan on at least a month or two of “production” time before your homebrew is ready to drink. With high gravity beers and lagers, you may need even longer. That means if you want to drink your Oktoberfest in October, you should start brewing by mid-August at the latest. A seasonal beer brewing calendar will help you to plan this out.

The information blow isn’t meant to be an end all resource – you’re welcome to brew and enjoy any style of beer any time of year! There will be a lot of overlapping of beer styles depending on your tastes and time constraints. But for the occasion when you want to pull off – for example – a summer ale for the summer, a seasonal beer brewing calendar can be very helpful to keep you beer styles on schedule.

 

Year Round Beers!

These beers seem to work well any time of year and are good options for year-round “house” beers. Consider them for any month on your beer brewing calendar.

  • Pale Ale
  • IPA
  • Amber ale
  • Pale lagers
  • Pilsner

 

Brew in the Winter (for Spring drinking)

Shop Steam Freak KitsIn anticipation of those long, final months of cold, brew a bock or an Irish stout. Irish stout (as well as Irish Red) will also come in handy on St. Patrick’s Day. Imperial stout and barleywine is often aged for 9-12 months, so this is a good time to get a start on next year’s vintage. Consider putting these beer styles on your beer brewing calendar for fall brewing. Get started on a spring ale or Maibock so they’ll be ready when the weather starts to warm.

  • Irish Red
  • Irish Stout
  • Bock
  • Barleywine (for next winter)
  • Imperial Stout (for next winter)
  • Spring Ale
  • Maibock

 

Brew in the Spring (for Summer drinking)

The summer season is high time for lighter colored ales and lagers, from pale ale and Kölsch to pilsner and witbier. Unlike the previous group, these beers do not need much , if any, aging at all, so they can be put on the beer brewing calendar closer to the time of anticipated consumption. The warmer weather also lends itself to brewing some Belgian ales that can tolerate higher fermentation temperatures, like saison and bière de mars.

  • Cream Ale
  • Pale Ale
  • IPA
  • Summer Ale
  • Kölsch
  • Hefeweizen
  • Witbier
  • Light Lager
  • Pilsner
  • Saison
  • Belgian Pale Ales
  • Bière de Mars
  • Gose

 

Brew in the Summer (for Fall/Winter drinking)Shop Conical Fermenter

Darker beers, such as brown ale, start to hit the spot in the fall. Pumpkin beers are popular around Halloween and Thanksgiving. To make sure it’s ready for Oktoberfest, plan on starting your Oktoberfestbier by mid-summer to allow for a long, cool lagering period. You can start an imperial stout or barleywine in the summer and still have several months of conditioning to make sure it’s ready for winter.

  • Brown ale
  • Pumpkin beer
  • Oktoberfestbier/Marzen
  • Vienna lager
  • Imperial stout
  • Barley wine

 

Fall (for winter drinking)

By fall, you should be enjoying your Oktoberfestbier and pumpkin ale. Get a jump on some darker beers to get you through the winter, such as stout, bock, and strong Scotch ale. Start some holiday spiced ales so they’ll be ready in time to give away as gifts. If started in the fall, you should be able to pull off a batch of imperial stout or barleywine by winter, though the longer they can age the better.

  • Strong porter
  • Stout
  • Bock
  • Dopplebock
  • Dunkelweizen Shop Brew Kettles
  • Strong Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
  • Imperial stout (last chance)
  • Barleywine (last chance)
  • Holiday spiced beers

 

Do you follow a seasonal beer brewing calendar, or do you just make whatever beer style you feel like brewing?
—–
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.

Create Your Own Barleywine Recipe! It’s Easy!

Barleywine RecipeBarleywine is an English style of high gravity ale. A typical barley wine recipe will have loads of malt and extra hops to create a full bodied beer that approaches wine in its alcohol content. Because of the high alcohol content, barleywines are often consumed in the cold weather. They also age well. Brew a barleywine recipe now and be sure to save some bottles for future winter holidays and special occasions!

Looking for a ready-to-brew barleywine recipe kit? Steam Freak Barnstormer Barleywine may be just what you’re looking for! If you’d like to create your own barleywine recipe, consider the tips below.

 

Creating a Barleywine Recipe: Vital Stats

First, think about whether you’d like to create an American or English barleywine recipe. Traditional English barleywines tend to be a little more malt forward than the American versions. English barleywines will still have a significant amount of bittering hops and will focus on English varieties (like Kent Goldings and Fuggles), while American barleywines tend to use American hop varieties (like Cascade) and will probably have more significant late boil hop additions.

Here are the BJCPs statistics for comparison:

English Barleywine Recipe Profile:
OG: 1.080 – 1.120
IBUs: 35 – 70
FG: 1.018 – 1.030
SRM: 8 – 22
ABV: 8 – 12%

American Barleywine Recipe Profile:
OG: 1.080 – 1.120
IBUs: 50 – 120
FG: 1.016 – 1.030
SRM: 10 – 19
ABV: 8 – 12%Shop Steam Freak Kits

 

Malt

Barleywine ale requires a significant amount of fermentable ingredients to achieve the higher levels of alcohol. Many all-grain brewers will supplement a normal volume of grain with additional malt extract and/or sugar in their barleywine recipes. This allows them to perform a mash that fits in their all-grain system and still collect a decent volume of wort of the appropriate gravity. Aim for an OG of at least 1.090.

All-grain brewers: Using a pale ale malt as a base, add up to 10-15% specialty malts for color and flavor complexity. A Munton’s mild ale malt would be a good choice of base malt for a traditional barley wine. To create a more fermentable wort, mash the grains at the low end of the range, at about 150°F.

Extract brewers: will need three cans of liquid malt extract to achieve the gravity needed for this brew. Try a combination of light, Munich, and amber LME and steep some crystal malt to get the malt complexity that’s characteristic of barleywines.Shop Liquid Malt Extract

 

Hops

To balance the enormous malt bill, barleywines are balanced by a generous dose of bittering hops. Higher alpha acids hops, such as Chinook, work well for this purpose. At least an ounce will be needed in the early part of the boil, probably two. If bittering with a lower alpha acid hop, such as East Kent Goldings (a traditional English variety), use at least three ounces for a five gallon recipe. Four or five ounces of bittering hops would be better.

In barleywines, hop flavor and aroma vary quite a bit. An American-style barley wine will likely have more hop flavor and aroma than an English one. Think about your taste preferences and add late addition hops accordingly. Centennial and Cascade are popular choices to add to an American barleywine recipe. Fuggles and Willamette are also good options.

Dry hopping isShop Hops common and traditional for English ales. Consider adding 1-2 oz. dry hops (or more based on your preference) up to a week in advance of bottling.

 

Beer Yeast

Be prepared for a long fermentation. Barleywines are also typically aged. If you want your barleywine to be ready for Christmas or New Year’s, plan to start your barley wine recipe at least two or three months in advance of when you plan to serve it. Many American and English ale yeasts will work. The best yeast for a barleywine recipe, I have found is Wyeast 1728: Scottish Ale. You may also want to consider Wyeast 1056: American Ale, or even a combination of the two.

For brewing a high gravity beer, it’s essential to pitch enough beer yeast to complete the fermentation. Be sure to prepare a yeast starter (you’ll probably need about three liters) and aerate the wort well prior to pitching. Alternatively, use three packs of liquid beer yeast in order to have enough yeast cells. It may be necessary to pitch a second yeast (possibly a different strain) when racking into secondary fermentation, so it might be a good idea to have some Safale-S04 or Safale-S05 on hand.Shop Liquid Beer Yeasat

Ray Daniels points out the traditionally, brewers would rouse, or stir up the yeast throughout the secondary fermentation to make sure that it remained active:

“One favored method of rousing was to take the large secondary fermentation casks for a “walk.” Periodically, each cask would be taken out and rolled around the brewery courtyard a few times to achieve the necessary awakening of the yeast.”

Sounds like a good way to get some exercise!

Do you have experience with brewing a barleywine recipe? What tips do you have to share? We’d love to hear them!
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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.

Partial Mash Brewing: 5 Reasons To Love It!

Partial Mash BrewingSometimes partial mash brewing gets a bad rap. Some think that the only way to make good beer is by brewing all-grain. On the contrary, you can make good beer with malt extracts and some specialty grains. I can think of several examples of good beer made with malt extract, and if you’re a homebrewer, chances are you can too.

Having recently gotten back into partial mash brewing in my home brewery, I’d like to share a few of the reasons I’ve enjoyed going back to this simpler method of brewing:

 

  1. It’s how most of us got started with homebrewing. Maybe you’ve been brewing for a while. Remember partial mash? Remember those first few batches you did way back when, the ones that came out surprisingly good? Without the ease and simplicity of partial mash brewing kits, you may not be brewing today. Try getting back into partial mash brewing, and whatever you do, don’t discourage would-be homebrewers by giving partial mash a bad name.
  1. Partial mash brewing takes less time. Partial mash brewing eliminates a couple key steps of the brewing process: the mash and the lauter. Combined, these steps can take well over an hour. Additionally, since a partial mash brew often has a smaller boil volume, it takes less time to bring the wort to a boil, and less time to chill it afterwards. Looking for other ways to save time while homebrewing? Check out these 8 Time-Saving Tips for Homebrewers.
  1. Shop Steam Freak KitsPartial mash brewing requires less effort. Because there’s less grain and less water, there’s less heavy lifting when doing partial mash recipes. Plus, with the easy availability of partial mash brewing kits, there’s no need to stress over building a beer recipe.
  1. Partial mash means easy cleanup. Partial mash brewing may only leave you with a pound of so of spent grains. It’s much easier to dispose of a pound than ten or more pounds of wet grain. Better yet, it’s a perfect amount of spent grains to put into spent grain bread or dog treats. Plus, if using a grain bag, you don’t have to clean out a mash tun.
  1. You still end up with great beer! At the end of the day, a partial mash brewing kit still gives you five gallons of great beer. With a few tricks up your sleeve – stellar cleaning and sanitation, late extract additions, yeast starters, fermentation temperature control – you’ll be able to make great beer every time.Shop Home Brew Starter Kit

 

Partial mash brewing offers quite a few advantages over all-grain. If you’ve been brewing all-grain for a while, maybe it’s time to circle back and give partial mash another chance.

Do you brew partial mash vs all-grain? Why or why not? Share 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 and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

Base Malt Guide: Descriptions & Comparisons

Base MaltBase malt is the term we use to refer to the majority of the malted grains used to make beer. Base malt typically forms between 70% and 100% of the malt used in a given homebrew recipe. Base malts are certainly used by all-grain brewers, but also by partial mash and extract brewers who may want to add some diastatic power to their mash or additional grain flavor to their beer. One or more types of base malt may be used in a beer, often complemented by a range of specialty malts for additional flavor, body, and other characteristics.

 

All base malts are typically:

  • Made from barley. (Though beers can be made from 100% malted wheat or rye, these are generally considered adjunct grains.)
  • Light in color.
  • Kilned at a low enough temperature to maintain the diastatic power of the malt.

 

Below is a base malt guide with descriptions and comparisons. It’s a list of the most popular base malts used in home brewing. Also provided is a brief profile of each one:

  • Two-row malt – Two-row base malt is made from two-row barley, which typically features plump kernels and a high starch to protein ratio. Light in color at 1.8˚L.Shop All Grain System
  • Pilsner malt – This base malt is the lightest colored malt available (1˚ Lovibond). It works well for very light lagers and ales. Its profile makes it a suitable base malt for brewing just about any style of beer, but it is a must when making a pilsner lager.
  • Pale or mild ale malt – As a comparison, pale malt is kilned at a slightly higher temperature than pilsner malt, giving it a slightly darker color (2.5˚L) and a maltier flavor. It’s a good option for just about any ale recipe, especially pale ale, IPA, brown ale, porter, and stout.
  • Vienna malt – Vienna malt is another step above pale malt in terms of darkness (3.5˚L). It’s a great option for Vienna lagers, Oktoberfest, and other amber lagers.
  • Munich malt – This base malt is the darkest malt that still has diastatic power. Its flavor profile is has rich, malty flavor reminiscent of bread crusts. As much as 100% Munich malt may be used in some types of German-style dark lagers, such as bocks and Munich dunkel. 10-20˚L.

 

Shop Barley GrainsThis is not a complete base malt list, but these are by far the most common ones with some descriptions and comparisons. As you can see each one has its own profile, including comparisons and contrast with each other. With these simple variations alone, you can begin creating a world of beers.

Want to learn more about the differences between the different base malts? Try this experiment: Brew five, one-gallon, single-malt beers using the same amount of malt, the same yeast, and the same hopping schedule. How are the beers different?
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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.