4 Ways to Use Campden Tablets When Homebrewing

Campden Tablets To Be Used In HomebrewingAlthough Campden tablets are more commonly used in winemaking, they have their place in homebrewing as well. In fact, Campden tablets can be a useful tool in your arsenal of techniques used to make beer, cider, and mead. So, using Campden tablets in homebrewing should not be all that surprising.

Camden tablets are made of sodium or potassium metabisulfite, and release sulphur dioxide gas when they come in contact with a liquid. This gas is an effective sanitizer, usually used to stabilize raw fruit juices or to sanitize fermenters and barrels. Though you might be more likely to use Campden tablets when making cider than making beer, if you have a bottle of them you might be interested in finding additional ways to use them.

Without further ado, here are 4 ways to use Campden tablets when homebrewing beer:

 

  1. Use Campden tablets to sanitize equipment – A sanitizing solution can be made by mixing 16 crushed Campden tablets per gallon of water. It’s a great way to sanitize brewing fermenters and barrels. Simply pour a few inches of the sanitizer solution into the vessel, seal it up, and allow the sulfur dioxide gas about Shop Campden Tablets20 or 30 minutes to fill the vessel and sanitize it. You can place some of your other homebrewing equipment in the fermenter for convenience. Dispose of the solution, allow your equipment to air dry, and carry on with your brew day.
  1. Use Campden tablets to remove chlorine and chloramine from brewing water – Chlorine, a major component of bleach, is a common source of off-flavors in homebrewed beer. It contributes to something called chlorophenols, which can give your beer an unpleasant medicinal flavor. Some municipal water supplies use chlorine to make it safe to drink, others use chloramine. While chlorine can easily be boiled out of the water, chloramine is harder to remove. In either case, adding half of a crushed Campden tablet to 5 or 6 gallons brewing water will break down chlorine into chloride, sulfate, and ammonia, all of which tend to be beneficial to beer in small amounts. A few minutes is all it takes.
  1. Use Campden tablets to stabilize apple juice when making cider – Just like when making wine, Campden tablets can be used to kill off wild yeast and bacteria from raw apple juice. Use one crushed Campden tablet per gallon of apple juice, dissolving the tablet in a little water or juice before mixing it into the juice. Allow 24 hours for the sulfur dioxide to off-gas before pitching yeast.
  1. Use Campden tablets to stave off an infection – This is more commonly used in making cider and wine. If your cider has become infected, add one or two crushed Campden tablets per gallon of cider dissolved in a little water to a secondary fermenter. Rack the cider onto the Campden tablets, then bottle immediately. This will preserve the cider, at least in the short term.Shop SanitizersIf it tastes good, go ahead and drink the cider and don’t let it age lest the infection returns.

 

I have gotten into the habit of treating all my brewing water with Campden tablets. It just doesn’t make sense not to use Campden tablets when homebrewing. There is no downside to it.

Have you found any other uses for Campden tablets when you’re homebrewing?
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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 the founder of the Local Beer Blog.

10 “More” Brewing Spices For Your Creative Pleasure

Beer With SpicesAbout a month ago we outlined ten spices to try in your homebrew, but when it comes to using spices in beer, the world is quite broad and diverse. If you’re looking to exercise some creativity, here are ten more spices that you can use to give your homebrew a little something special.

  1. Cardamom – This spice is popular in Indian cuisine. Its flavor is reminiscent of chocolate with a hint of citrus, so it could make an interesting addition to a porter, stout, or chocolate stout. Homebrew author, Randy Mosher, recommends adding the crushed pods to a raspberry beer.
  1. Coffee – Though used more often as a beverage than a spice, coffee makes a great addition to dark beers (and dry rubs for that matter). If you like coffee, a coffee stout may be in order. Choose a fresh, high-quality coffee (one you would enjoy drinking) and add the beans directly to the fermenter. For optimal coffee flavor, you can also do a cold brew, as coffee that has been heated may be too astringent.
  1. Grains of Paradise – Said to be the secret ingredient in Hoegaarden witbier, grains of paradise are native to West Africa and similar in flavor to cardamom, but more peppery and resinous. Though grains of paradise are most often found in witbier, you might also find them in Belgian ales or Faro.
  1. Juniper BerriesBuy Beer FlavoringsMost well known for flavoring gin, juniper can also be used in brewing beer. Juniper is commonly found in traditional Nordic beers such as Sahti and Gotlandsdrika. Use 1-2 tablespoons of fresh berries late in the boil. Sometimes juniper branches are used in place of, or together with, the berries.
  1. Licorice – When using spices in beer you can’t forget licorice. It has traditionally been used in brewing for its sweet, pungent flavor and head retention properties. A licorice extract may also be used to contribute color to darker beers. Add about 1/4 oz. of dried root at the beginning of the boil for dark beers like porters, stouts, and Belgian dark ales.
  1. Nutmeg – A complex and intense spice, nutmeg is most often used in combination with other spices like cinnamon and coriander in holiday spiced ales or pumpkin beer.
  1. Saffron – For a truly special beer, try one of the world’s most expensive spices: saffron. Dogfish Head uses saffron in their famous Midas Touch. Used in gourmet cooking, saffron comes from the dried stigmas of the flower Crocus sativus. According to herbalist author, Stephen Buhner, it takes 4,320 flowers to produce one ounce of the spice!Shop Burton Water Salts
  1. Salt – Though not technically a spice, salt lives in your kitchen among several of the other ingredients on this list. Various brewing salts can be used to adjust your brewing water, but other cooking salts like Kosher salt or sea salt (do not use iodized), can be used specifically for flavoring. Salt is most notoriously used in brewing German Gose, a pale, slightly sour beer brewed with wheat, coriander, and salt.
  1. Spruce – Spruce can give an interesting, piney touch to amber ales and holiday beers. Try using spruce essence or even the branches themselves. For a beer that features the spruce flavor, check out this spruce beer recipe.
  1. Star Anise/Anise – Don’t forget either of these with using spices in beer. Both of these spices contribute a flavor reminiscent of licorice, though star anise tends to be less intense. Use it as you would licorice, in darker beers like porters and stouts.

 

As I mentioned the previous post about using spices in beer, less is more. I find that subtlety is often the key in brewing with spices. Often times a 1/4 ounce is plenty of spice for your homebrew. You can also add more for your next batch.
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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?
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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.

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.

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.

Use Alternative Priming Sugars For A New Twist

Brewer Using Alternative Priming SugarsAfter fermentation is done, but before the beer hits my glass, my brew sits away in a corner of a small closet – dozens of sudsy brothers and sisters conditioning away.

Depending on the style of beer I’ve brewed and its ABV, the wait time for all those bottles to fully prime can vary. So can your method for adding priming sugar to your brews.

The sugar you use for priming your beer is not chiseled in stone. For homebrewers like me, priming a batch of beer before bottling offers some variation in what to use if you want to step away from regular, old corn sugar or DME. Here are a few alternative priming sugars to consider for your next bottled batch:

 

Carbonation Tabs

For sake of ease, these small, pill-like drops are my go-to option for bottling my homebrew. I love carbonation tabs because they are as easy as placing one drop into each bottle right before I transfer my finished beer to its final vessel. The best part: it takes the worry out of the conditioning process as I’ve never had a problem with an under or over-carbonated beer when I’ve used these. That makes these one of the better alternative priming sugars.Shop Bottling Bucket

Some brands of carbonation tablets will have small drops the size of an aspirin and others will be oblong like a tiny football. They all work the same, but some brands may simply require one drop for ideal carbonation levels while you can use multiple small pills to adjust carbonation with other brands.

 

Honey

Some alternative priming sugars, like honey, offer the chance to add a little extra layer of flavor to your beer. Curious to see what it may offer your next brew? Try it with a wheat beer, which might work nice if you’ve added fruit during fermentation, too.

To add a little extra sweetness to your homebrew at bottling time, use 1 cup of honey per 5 gallons. Mix the honey with a little warm water to thin it out to make sure it blends in with your beer.

 

Maple Syrup Shop Bottle Washer

Making a brown ale? Consider experimenting with maple syrup for your priming sugar to mash up flavors perfect for a cold fall or winter night. Whether it’s grade A or B, use 1 1/4 cup for a 5-gallon batch and again, mix it with some water to dilute the syrup. As with any of these alternative priming sugars, it’s easy to over-carbonate if you add too much. Also check out this Maple Scotch Ale homebrew recipe.

 

Brown Sugar/Molasses

When talking about alternative priming sugars, one cannot leave these two out. Both of these options would work great for a porter or stout. Imagine that little extra bit of deep, earthy sweetness mixing with the roasted and chocolate flavors of those styles – a great mix for a holiday beer!

Shop Bottle CappersThe benefit of brown sugar as a priming sugar is it can be used in the same fashion as cane sugar – boil 2/3 of a cup with two cups of water for a 5-gallon batch, then mix it in before bottling.

If you’re using molasses, use 1 cup with boiled water per 5 gallons and make sure this super-thick liquid breaks down a bit. You don’t want a mess on your hands.

 

Priming Sugar Calculator

If you’re ready to change up your priming routine, one great resource is this priming sugar calculator from HomebrewDad.com. It has a variety of sugars listed that you can choose when using alternative priming sugars . This calculator will offer up specific amounts depending on your exact volume of beer, desired carbonation levels, and more.Shop Fridge Monkey

Happy Brewing!
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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 award-winning 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.

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!
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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?
—–
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 Experiment: Adding Gypsum To Beer To Affect Flavor?

Adding Gypsum To BeerI recently dove head on into the world of water treatments for homebrewing. I’ve always made changes to my brewing water to control mash pH, but I decided it was time to look at water from a historical/regional perspective to see exactly how does gypsum affect beer flavor. Gypsum, also known as calcium sulfate, is a major component in many of the brewing water profiles used around the world. But, does adding gypsum to beer really make a difference in flavor?

Let’s back up for a moment to review one of the ways water and its mineral content, or hardness, can impact your homebrew’s flavor. Different regions of the world have different mineral compositions in their brewing water supply. These differences can be significant. Just look at the levels (ppm) of these common minerals in Burton-on-Trent (UK) vs. Plzn:

 

Burton-on-Trent

Plzen

Calcium

294

7

Carbonate

200

15

Chloride

36

5

Magnesium

24

2

Sodium

24

2

Sulfate

800

5

 

In these two examples, it’s believed that the high sulfate water of Burton-on-Trent led to the development of bitters and pale ales, whereas the soft water of Plzen in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) was suited to the creation of crisp, clean lagers. Homebrewers have the ability to mimic regional brewing water profiles by adding gypsum to beer along with others such as calcium carbonate.
Having just brewed and English Bitter, I was curious how a Burton brewing water profile might affect the flavors in the beer. After doing some research, I came across an experiment to help gauge the effects of a mineral salt on a beer. It goes like this:Shop Gypsum

 

  1. Prepare concentrated solutions using the mineral salt in question. For my test, I’m using gypsum. I started with filtered or distilled water and add measured amounts of the salt in one-gram increments into 500ml or 1L volumes of water.
  1. Measure out equal beer samples. Be sure to use a consistent volume and record it in your notes.
  1. Add 1 ml of each solution to the different samples. After doing the first round of taste tests, you might try adjusting the concentration of the solution.
  1. Take notes on how the flavor changes and find your ideal adjustment. Be sure to have some water and possibly some unsalted, relatively bland crackers or bread between each sample to cleanse your palate.
  1. Calculate how much salt would be needed for a full volume batch of beer.

 

So how did my experiment go? Did adding gypsum to beer affect its flavor?

Initially, the concentration of gypsum I was adding to the beer was too low to make any difference. I started with a 1 gram gypsum/500 mL water solution. Adding 1 mL of said solution to a 125 mL sample of beer only increased the effective concentration of by 1.6 ppm – an imperceptible change for my palate. As you can see, it would take a very concentrated amount of gypsum/water solution to simulate the Burton water profile. What I ended up doing was stirring about .5 gram of gypsum into a .5 L sample of beer to come close to the level of Burton water in the English bitter. Using this concentration of gypsum absolutely affected the beer’s flavor. The hops went from a background bitterness to a full floral sensation that covered the whole mouth. I will definitely use more gypsum in future pale ales.

Shop Digital pH MeterUsing the method above you can begin to get a stronger understanding of how to adjust your brewing water. Just remember different salts affect beers in different ways, and different styles may lend themselves to different mineral concentrations. Experiment, test, record your results!

While the above experiment does give us some ideas as to how adding gypsum to beer affects its flavor, it does leaves some questions. In particular, how does mashing and boiling the hard, gypsum-infused water throughout the brewing process affect the perception of different flavors?

What is your take on the subject? 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 of the Local Beer Blog.