Get Ready for the 2015 AHA Big Brew!

Beer Fest MovieEvery year for National Homebrew Day, the American Homebrewers Association organizes a “Big Brew.” The idea is that homebrewers across the country – and even around the world – celebrate homebrewing by all brewing on the same day. In 2014, it’s estimated that over 8,000 homebrewers from 49 states and 14 countries brewed some 17,550 gallons of beer!

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Each year, the AHA selects a handful of recipes for the Big Brew, just to increase the sense of community among homebrewers. This year, the recipes come from Gordon Strong, President of the BJCP. The recipes are soon to be published in Gordon’s new book, Modern Homebrew Recipes.


Columbus Pale Ale
(5-gallon batch, all-grain)

OG: 1.056
FG: 1.012
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 43
SRM: 6

8.5 lb. Pale two-row malt
8 oz. Munich malt
4 oz. Wheat malt
8 oz. CaraVienne® malt
4 oz. 20° L Crystal malt
4 oz. Victory malt
8 oz. Orange blossom honey (added during the boil)
0.5 oz. Columbus whole hops at 60 min
0.5 oz. Columbus whole hops at 15 minShop Barley Grains
0.5 oz. Columbus whole hops at 5 min
1 oz. Columbus whole hops at flameout
1.5 oz. Centennial whole hops, dry-hopped for 9 days
Wyeast: 1272 American Ale II or Safale US-05

Directions: Mash crushed grains in about 4 gallons of clean water at 152˚F. Hold for 60 minutes, then raise to 168˚F for mash out. Sparge to collect 6.5 gallons of wort. Boil for 75 minutes, adding hops according to schedule. Add the honey during the last 5 minutes of the boil. Chill and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Pitch at 68˚F and ferment at that temperature for 9 days, then transfer to a secondary fermenter and dry hop. After 9 days, bottle or keg.

Extract option: Replace the 2-row, Munich, and wheat malts with 7.5 lbs. light LME. Reduce boil time to one hour.


Old School Barleywine Shop Hops
(5-gallon batch, extract with grains)

OG: 1.109
FG: 1.033
ABV: 10%
IBUs: 95
SRM: 13

13 lbs. Light LME
4 oz. Biscuit malt
8 oz. CaraVienne® malt
8 oz. Crystal 40˚L malt
4 oz. Crystal 60˚L malt
2 oz. Crystal 120˚L malt
2 oz. Special B malt
1 lb. orange blossom honey
1 oz. Cascade whole cone hops (first wort hops)
2 oz. Columbus hops at :60
1 oz. Centennial hops at :15
1 oz. Cascade hops at :5
1 oz. Columbus hops at :2
1 oz. Cascade hops at :0
1 oz. Centennial hops at :0
2 oz. Cascade hops, dry-hopped for nine days
1 oz. Centennial hops, dry hopped for nine days
Wyeast: 1272 American Ale II or Safale US-05

Directions: Steep the specialty grains (in a grain bag) and the 1 oz. of Cascade first wort hops in two gallons of 160˚F water for 30 minutes. Remove the grain bag, allowing the wort to drip back into the pot. Mix in malt extract and bring to a boil. Boil for 75 minutes, adding hops according to schedule. Add the honey during the last 5 minutes of the boi. At the end of the boil, strain the wort into a sanitized fermenter with about 2.5 gallons of pre-boiled, pre-chilled water. Top off to make 5 gallons. Pitch yeast and ferment at 68˚F for nine days, then transfer to a secondary fermenter for dry hopping. After nine days, keg or bottle.

All-Grain option: Replace the LME with 12 lbs. two-row pale malt and 6 lbs. Maris Otter malt. Mash these grains at 152˚F for 90 minutes, then mix in the specialty grains listed above during the vorlauf and sparge. Collect 6.5 gallons of wort in the brew kettle and proceed with recipe above.


Killer Kolsch
(5-gallon batch, all-grain) 

OG: 1.046
FG: 1.011
ABV: 4.6%
IBUs: 16
SRM: 3

8.5 lb. Pilsner malt
3.1 oz. Vienna malt
3.1 oz. CaraVienne® malt
0.3 oz. Liberty hops (first wort hops)
1 oz. Hallertauer hops at 30 min
0.3 oz. Crystal hops at 5 min
Wyeast 2565: Kolsch yeast

Directions: Implement a step mash as follows: 10 minutes at 131˚F, 45 minutes at 145˚F, 20 minutes at 158˚F, 10 minutes at 168˚F for mash out. Sparge to collect 6.5 gallons of wort. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops according to schedule. Chill and transfer to a clean, sanitized fermenter. Pitch yeast at 58˚F and ferment allowing temperature to rise to 68˚F after 4 days. Lager for two months at 40˚F, then bottle or keg.

Extract option: Replace the pilsner malt and 0.8 oz. each of the Vienna and Caravienne malts with 6.5 lbs. pilsen LME. Reduce the 30-minute hop addition to 0.8 oz.

All of the recipes can be found in their original form, both extract and all-grain, here, along with more information about Big Brew 2015.

We’ll be homebrewing for the Big Brew – will you?

David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

Our 10 Most Popular Homebrewing Posts on Pinterest

Homebrewing On Pinterest


Pinterest is a visually oriented social network for people to discover and share interesting content. Over the past several months, we’ve been putting together various collections of pins including beer recipes, homebrew techniques, homebrewing books, and more. I, for one, have found dozens of great beer recipes on Pinterest.

As an indication of what other people have found most helpful and interesting, these are some of our most popular homebrewing posts on Pinterest. The links below take you to the pin on Pinterest. Just click the image for each one to take you to the blog post.


  1. Making Hard Cider at HomeAre you gluten-free? Have a significant other who doesn’t like beer (yet)? Cider is quickly rising in popularity, both commercially and for homebrewers. This blog post is a walk-through for making a basic hard cider.
  1. 10 Tips for a Successful Secondary Fermentation – Secondary fermentation is a period where beer conditions and ages. It’s a good time to add dry hops or spices to give you’re a beer a little something special. Learn just a few of the things you can do to make your secondary fermentation a good one.
  1. A Simple Guide to Making Fruit Beers – Most, if not all, homebrewers like to experiment by adding interesting ingredients to their beer. Want to make a cherry porter or an apricot pale ale? Learn what your options are in terms of adding fruit to homebrew.
  1. The Difference Between Two-Row and Six-Row Barley – Barley malt is a key ingredient in beer, but there are two different types of barley. Do you know the difference between two-row and six-row barley?
  1. 6 Tips for Improving Mash Efficiency – If you’re an all-grain brewer, you mash efficiency determines your original gravity, which affects alcohol content and body. Additionally, a consistent mash efficiency makes it easier to formulate recipes and plan ingredient purchases. Check out these six ways to improve your mash efficiency.
  1. Heat Up Your Homebrewing with Chili Peppers!Shop Homebrew BooksYet another popular beer addition is hot peppers. This chipotle porter recipe is one of my all-time favorites. In this blog post, guest blogger Bryan Roth shares some tips for using hot pepper in your homebrew.
  1. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale Clone Recipe – One of my all-time favorite commercial beers is Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale. It’s a fresh hop IPA that comes out every year around Thanksgiving. The beer is made using Chinook, Centennial, and Cascade hops as soon as they come out of the field.
  1. Braggot Beer Recipe – Braggot is a mead/beer hybrid, traditionally flavored with a variety of herbs and spices. This recipe includes both an all-grain and an extract version of a braggot recipe by Randy Mosher.
  1. 5 Rookie Mistakes Made By Beginning Homebrewers – If you’re a new homebrewer, there’s a wealth of information that can help you avoid some common pitfalls and potentially ruin a batch. Learn from these five rookie mistakes and you’ll be well on your way to making great beer!
  1. How to Fill Your Homebrew Beer Keg – Serious homebrewers like to put their beer on draft, but the new equipment and pressurized gas side of the equation can make people uncomfortable. It’s easier than you think! This post walks you through exactly what you need to do to fill your keg with homebrew.

Are you active on Pinterest? Follow E. C. Kraus on Pinterest for all the latest homebrewing updates.
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.

The Ultimate Wine Pairing Guide

Not sure what wine to serve at your next dinner party? Check out our brand new wine pairing infographic for help selecting the right wine for the right meal. Throughout the month of July we will be featuring various recipes and suggested wine pairings for each food category, so keep checking back!

Ultimate Wine Pairing Guide by EC Kraus

A History of Home Brewing: Colonial Crafting

Though it has enjoyed a recent run of popularity, the hobby of home brewing has quite a pedigree – one that stretches back over three centuries in America.

New Beer for a New World

Home brewing was once a matter of survival – when the Pilgrims arrived in the 1620s, they built the nation’s first brewery to start setting up their new home. The process of brewing killed the pathogens and bacteria that lurked in regular drinking water, making a safe liquid for the intrepid new-worlders to use for slaking their thirst.

One Nation, Drinking Beer

Home brewing became such an everyday occurrence in colonial times that several of America’s first presidents indulged in their own brews – most notably Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Like tending fields or keeping the pantry stocked, brewing was simply another chore to be done around the house – albeit a delicious one.

Banned Brews

The Prohibition Act of 1919 didn’t simply put an end to bars and public establishments serving up suds, it also dropped the hammer on home brewing efforts. Beer, wine, and other liquors were no longer allowed to be created in the home until 1933, when the 21st Amendment made at least some home-brewed products legal once more. To every beer enthusiast’s sadness, however, a clerical error left off that pair of very important words – “and beer.” This meant that home beer brewers would have to wait until President Carter set things right in 1978 through the passage of H.R. 1377.

Brewing Up the Future

Today, home brewers enjoy unprecedented access to specialty equipment, such as the bottles and kits offered on the web by home brew supplier E.C. Kraus. By using these tools, any beer enthusiast can now create their very own ales, stouts, and lagers in the privacy of their own backyard or basement. Everyone, that is, except for Alabamians – Alabama is the last state in the United States that still considers brewing beer at home an illegal activity. While this is unfortunate for residents of the southern state, the rest of the nation is busily crafting their own beer while simultaneously honoring the efforts of their pilgrim predecessors.