What Are Hop Oils? Explained!

Showing Hop OilsWhile the resins and alpha-acids found within hops are responsible for making beer bitter, essential oils within the hop cone contribute many of the flavor and aroma characteristics that we know and love in some of our favorite beers. If you drink a pale ale or an IPA with a wonderful citrus or pine aroma, you can thank the hop oils for delivering those delightful sensations.

 

What are hop oils? How are they used in home brewing?

In the anatomy of the hop flower (or strobile), volatile hop oils account for about 1-3% of the weight of the cone. That may not seem like very much, but when you think about it, it doesn’t take a lot of hop oils to give your homebrew a delicious hop flavor.

Hop oils are more delicate than the bittering compounds found in the resins of the hop. That’s why hops for flavor and aroma are typically added towards the end of the boil. Boiling hops for too long drives the hop oils away through evaporation.

Aside from late-boil hopping, dry-hopping is another technique for imparting hop aroma. The hops are essentially steeped in the fermented beer for a number of days until the desired flavor and aroma is reached. An alternative to dry-hopping (if you’re so inclined), is to build your own hop back device, which circulates beer through the hop material to extract those precious hop oils. Here’s more information about adding hops to beer.

Since hop oils begin to degrade immediately after they’re harvested, it’s important that hops are stored properly, preferably nitrogenShop Hops flushed, air tight, and frozen. In light of the fact that hops degrade so quickly, many people enjoy fresh or wet hopped beer, using the hops as soon as they’re harvested.

 

What are the types of hop oils and their characteristics?

Within the hop, there are several different types of hop oils. Their proportions vary depending both on the hop variety and on seasonal and local conditions. Learning a little about the characteristics of the different oils can help with understanding the flavor and aroma profiles that different types of hops can contribute to a beer. The four primary hop oils found in hops are listed below:

 

  • Myrcene – Myrcene is the most prevalent hop oil found in many hop varieties, often comprising 50% or more of the total oils in the hop cone. Myrene is commonly associated with floral or citrus aromas in beer. Citra is an example of a hop variety with very high myrcene content.
  • Humulene – Humulene is the second most common hop oil, though in some cases it may be in greater quantity than myrcene. It contributes woody, spicy, and herbal characteristics, and tends to withstand highShop Wort Aerator temperature better than myrcene. Many of the European and noble hop varieties exhibit higher levels of humulene. Some humulene-dominant examples of hops include Hallertauer and Vanguard.
  • Caryophyllene – Though usually lower in quantity than myrcene and humulene, caryophyllene has a distinctive woody and herbal aroma, and often contributes an herbal character to beer. Northern Brewer and Perle hops often have higher levels of caryophyllene hop oil.
  • Farnesene – Farnesene usually represents less than 1% of the oils in the hop, though may be as high as 10% or more of the total oil content. But just because it is lower in quantity, doesn’t make it any less potent than the other hop oils. Farnese usually contributes a woody or herbal character. It is well-represented in Czech Saaz, and Tettnang.

 

Because hop producers don’t usually label homebrewing hops with individual oil levels, it’s best to consult a resource such as YCH Hops to get a general sense of the oil content in your hops. You can also try the sniff test, rubbing the hops together between your hands, or make a tea from the hops.Shop Steam Freak Kits

This is just a basic overview of what hop oils are. Of course, the best way to learn about the flavor and aroma characteristics of different hop varieties is to brew beer with them. You might consider trying this simple experiment, and do a side-by-side comparison of several different hops.

 

Interested in learning more about hop oils?

Designing Great Beers is a great resources if you’d like to learn more about the specific types of hop oils.
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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.

Tasty Belgian Beer Recipes You Should Try

Belgian Beer With Head Being CutBelgian beers have become all the rage in the United States. Some might even credit them as inspiring the American craft beer movement. Belgian-style beers are characterized by the use of Belgian beer yeast, which produces a wide range of fruity and spicy notes that often make Belgian beers wine-like in their complexity. If you’re a fan of Belgian beers, here are the 7 best Belgian beer recipes that you should try right away:

 

  1. Rochefort 8 Clone (All-Grain) – Rochefort is one of the Trappist breweries in Belgium. The monks at Rochefort have been making beer since medieval times and are credited with making some of the best beer in the world. Rochefort 8 is a dark brown, rich with flavors of dark fruit, and 9.2% ABV.
  1. Westmalle Tripel Clone (All-Grain & Extract) – Westmalle is another Belgian Trappist brewery, founded in 1794. Westmalle Tripel is golden in color with a complex fruity, herbal, and floral character.Shop Beer Flavorings
  1. Belgian Saison Beer Recipe (All-Grain & Extract) – This is a classic Belgian saison recipe, brewed with orange peel and coriander. Some flaked oats give the beer body while brown sugar helps give the beer a dry finish. Feel free to switch out the spices with others such as lemongrass or grains of paradise to create your own interpretation of the style!
  1. Blue Moon Clone Recipe (All-Grain & Partial Mash) – OK purists – I know Blue Moon isn’t actually a Belgian beer, but it’s modeled off of Belgian witbier. This Belgian beer recipe is a good option for those just starting to explore Belgian beer styles.
  1. Belgian Abbey Single (Extract) – At 4.5% ABV, this beer might be considered a Belgian table beer. In other words, a beer that’s low enough in alcohol to be served in a big pitcher on the table and consumed throughout the day. But this beer is still packed full of flavor. The Saaz hops play exceptionally well with the Wyeast Belgian Abbey Ale yeast.
  1. Belgian Lambic (Extract) – Belgium is known for a wide range of sour beers, including lambic. Belgian brewers would often ferment their beer with open fermentation, which would expose the beer to wild yeast and bacteria. In the case of lambic, the beer is made sour from aBuy Beer Recipe Kits lactobacillus bacterial culture. Homebrewers don’t have to practice open fermentation; Wyeast offers a lactic blend that eliminates the guesswork of open fermentation.
  1. Cranberry “Lambic” (All-Grain) – One problem with brewing sour beers is that rogue yeast and bacteria can cause problems when brewing non-sour beers. This Belgian beer recipe uses cranberries to create the sour sensations, but a traditional ale yeast that’s much more predictable.

 

Brew these Belgian beer recipes and soon you’ll be a master of brewing Belgian beer styles!

What styles or Belgian beer recipes would you like to see added to the list?
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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.

How to Take a Hydrometer Gravity Sample

How To Take Hydrometer SamplesTaking a gravity sample for a hydrometer reading is one of the basic aspects of homebrewing. Without it, it’s pretty hard to figure out the alcohol content of your beer. But you might be surprised how many homebrewers take gravity readings haphazardly.

How do you take a gravity sample without contaminating your beer?

 

When testing for original gravity…

This part is a little easier because you can take a gravity sample of boiling (sterile) wort, with little risk of contamination.

 

  1. Pull a sample of wort at the end of the boil using a clean, glass measuring cup or thief. You’ll need about 3/4 cup of wort for a sample to take your hydrometer reading.
  1. Place the measuring cup in an ice water bath to cool the sample to 60-70˚F. You can do this while you chill your main batch of wort.
  1. Pour the gravity sample into your hydrometer testing jar. Give it some time to settle.
  1. Take the temperature of the sample so you can correct using a hydrometer adjustment calculator, if needed for temperature correction.Shop Hydrometer Jars
  1. Suspend your hydrometer in the gravity sample and give it a spin. Take your reading. The spin is to release air bubbles that may have attached to the side of the hydrometer. These air bubbles can throw off the hydrometer reading by adding to the hydrometer’s buoyancy.
  1. If you want, taste the wort, then discard it. While it may be tempting to put the sample back in the wort, this as a great way to contaminate your homebrew. It’s not worth the six ounces or so of beer.

 

When testing for final gravity…

This part can be a little trickier. Since the wort is at fermentation temperature, it’s much easier for microbes to grab hold and contaminate your homebrew. To take a sanitary sample for your hydrometer reading, you have two options:

 

Option #1: The ThiefShop Hydrometers

  1. Use a clean and sanitized thief (plastic, glass, stainless steel) to collect a gravity sample of beer from the fermenter.
  1. Take your hydrometer reading and, if needed, correct for temperature.
  1. Taste the beer, or discard it. Again, it may be tempting to put the gravity sample back in the fermenter, but this as a great way to contaminate your homebrew.

 

Option #2: Sample from spigot or siphon

  1. If pulling a sample from the spigot, sanitize the spout by spraying the inside with a sanitizer solution. Air dry before collecting the sample. If using a siphon, be sure to clean and sanitize it before placing it in the beer.Shop Fermentation Sampler
  1. Take a gravity sample of beer into your hydrometer testing jar.
  1. Take your hydrometer reading and correct for temperature if needed.
  1. Taste the beer or discard it. Don’t put it back in the fermenter!
  1. If you pulled a sample from the spigot, rinse it out by spraying sanitizer solution into the spout.

 

What method do you use to take a hydrometer gravity sample?
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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.

Increasing Beer Head Retention And Body

Increasing beer head retentionAre you looking for a more foam and body in your homebrew? Drinking a beer that has poor head or no head at all, or is thin and non-lasting can be a disappointment. As a homebrewing you want a beer with a foamy head that lasts and leaves behind some lace on the side of the glass.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do, like utilizing certain specialty and adjunct grains. By using these grains you will be increasing beer head retention and body.

 

What are specialty grains and adjunct grains?

It’s easy to get hung up on nomenclature, but it’s really quite simple. A specialty grain is anything other than the base malt used to make beer. They can contribute flavor or color to your homebrew. They are used in smaller proportions relative to the total grain bill. Examples of specialty grains include caramel malt and black malt.

Adjunct grains are a type of specialty grain, anything other that malted barley, that are used to make beer. They typically contributed additional fermentable sugar to the beer. Examples include wheat, rye, oats, spelt, corn, and rice. Specialty grains used for increasing beer head retention and body often have higher protein content than barley, which contributes to body. Specialty grains and adjunct grains are typically added to the mash or, in the case of extract beers, steeped as a specialty grain along with some Shop Barley Grainsbase malt.

Without further delay, here are some of the most commonly used specialty grains used for increasing beer head retention and body.

 

  • Caramel maltCaramel malt is high in unfermentable dextrins, or complex sugars. When these sugars remain in the beer, they help contribute to a full mouthfeel. Adding caramel malt, taking note of the color and flavor contributed by the grain, is one way to enhance the body of your beer.
  • Carapils — Like caramel malt, Carapils (Briess’s brand name dextrin malt) is high in dextrins, but unlike caramel malt, it is light in color, so it will do little to affect the color or flavor of your beer. Use up to about half a pound in a five-gallon batch for more body and increasing beer head retention.
  • Wheat — Imagine a thick, chewy hefeweizen. That creamy body and the billowy head on top of the beer are thanks to the wheat. There are a few choices when choosing wheat: White malted wheat, red malted wheat, torrified wheat, unmalted wheat, and flaked. You can also use a Midnight Wheat in darker Shop All Grain Systembeers. Use about 10% wheat to add some body to a pale ale. As much as 50% or more can be used in wheat beers such as hefeweizens and berliner weisse. Malted, flaked, or torrified wheat can be added directly to the mash; raw, unmalted wheat will need to be cooked first.
  • Oats — Oats are another adjunct grain used for increasing beer head retention and body. It’s most often found in beers like saisons, wits, and oatmeal stouts. Flaked oats are pressed between hot rollers to make the sugars more accessible, but if you’re not too concerned about gravity points, straight oats from the store work well too. Use at most about 25% flaked oats in a grain bill. Most beer recipes will have 5-15% oats.
  • Rye — Like oats, rye can increase body, but might contribute to an oily character. People often describe rye as spicy, but there’s some debate over whether it’s mistaken for the spicy hops that are often paired with rye. Brewers can choose from flaked or malted rye – both give similar results and work wonders in a rye pale ale.Shop Grain Mills

 

Adding specialty malts to you beer recipe is a practical and natural way for increasing beer head retention and body in your homebrewed beers. Body and head retention should always be kept in mind when creating a beer recipe, trying to brew to style, and even when trying to please your own palate.

Looking for other ways to enhance body and head retention in your homebrew? Read: How to Make a Full-Bodied Homebrew Beer.
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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.

5 Spot-On Clone Homebrew Recipes

Beer Made From Homebrew Clone RecipesUsing clone homebrew recipes to brew your favorite beers can be a fun and enlightening experience. Every brewer can learn a thing or two by making clone homebrew recipes to replicate the brews of a master. The subtle (or not so subtle) differences between your version and theirs can tell you a lot about your technique, your ingredients, and your equipment. There may be adjustments you need to make between the way they brew it and the way you brew it, since there are some inherent differences between homebrewing and professional brewing.

Are you up for the challenge? Here are five clone homebrew recipes worth trying at home:

 

  • Terrapin Rye Pale Ale Clone – Have you ever brewed with rye? Rye malt or flaked rye can bring an interesting dimension to your beer, a soft rye spice reminiscent of rye whiskey. This partial mash recipe is a clone of Terrapin Brewing Company’s Rye Pale Ale, which earned them a GABF gold medal in their first year at the competition.
  • Westmalle Tripel Clone – Regarded as one of the best tripels in the world, Westmalle Tripel is reportedly the first beer to use the name “tripel”. The Belgian monks of Westmalle Abbey know how to craft an excellent beer – do you?Shop Steam Freak Kits
  • Pliny the Elder Clone – One of the top 25 beers on BeerAdvocate’s Top 250 list, Pliny the Elder was making hop heads swoon when most other Double IPAs were still a glimmer in their brewer’s eye. This is one of the clone homebrew recipes for the hop-heads. It uses a pound of hops to hit over 100 IBUs! Can you handle it? An all-grain recipe with an extract version is included.
  • Anchor Steam Clone – San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Co. has been brewing a California Common beer for over 100 years: Anchor Steam. A moderate yet firm hop bitterness characterizes this pale ale/lager hybrid, making it a great choice for a year round session beer. Challenge your fermentation temperature control by holding this beer at 60-65˚F throughout fermentation.
  • Uinta Dubhe Clone – Ever since tasting their beers at a GABF beer and cheese tasting, I’ve been a huge fan of Uinta. This five-gShop Fridge Monkeyallon clone homebrew recipe of Uinta’s Dubhe is a massive black IPA made with 21+ lbs. of grain, 3/4 pound of hops, and toasted hemp seeds – I’m thinking of calling mine “Hop Sludge”. The recipe is derived from an interview with the brewers, so it should be pretty close to the real thing. Just be warned: at over 9% ABV, it’s definitely a sipper!

 

Interested in developing some of your own clones? Check out these tips for creating clone homebrew recipes from beer blogger Bryan Roth.
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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.

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.

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.