Blue Moon Clone Recipe (Extract & All-Grain)

Blue Moon Clone BeerMany craft beer fans entered the world of better beer through Blue Moon. It’s an very smooth and citrusy representation of the Belgian Witbier style: pale yellow in color, somewhat hazy from the use of wheat and oats, and with prominent citrus aroma and flavor from orange peel and coriander.

One of the big differences between traditional witbier and Blue Moon is that the latter uses an American ale yeast rather than a Belgian strain. If you want a more traditional interpretation, substitute Wyeast 3942 for the strain listed in the blue moon recipe below. Keep on the low end of the fermentation temperature range to avoid excessive phenolics.

When serving, remember that Belgian wits are supposed to be hazy – try giving that bottle a swirl before you pour it to enhance the haze.

Ready to brew? Then check out these two Blue Moon clone recipes. One of the beer recipes is for homebrewing a Blue Moon using extract in a partial mash. The other is a Blue Moon clone recipe for all-grain homebrewing.

 

Blue Moon Recipe (Clone)
(Partial Mash Beer Recipe, 5-Gallon Batch)

Specs
OG: 1.055
FG: 1.014
IBUs: 9
ABV: 5.4%
SRM: 5

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. Wheat LME
1 lb. Two-Row Brewers Malt
1 lb. White Wheat Malt
.75 lb. Flaked Oats
1 oz. Hallertau hops (3.9 AAUs) @ :60
3 oz. Valencia dried sweet orange peel @ :10
1.5 tsp. fresh ground coriander @ :10
Wyeast 1056: American Ale YeastShop Steam Freak Kits
5 oz. corn sugar for priming

Directions: Prepare a 2L yeast starter. Mash the two-row malt, wheat malt, and flaked oats in 5 quarts of water. Hold temperature at 154°F. for 60 minutes. Strain the wort into the brew kettle, then rinse grains with 1 gallon of water at 170°F., collecting run-off in the brew kettle. Mix in liquid malt extract and add clean water to bring boil volume to 3.5 gallons. Bring to a boil, add hops, and boil for 60 minutes. Add the orange peel and coriander in the last 10 minutes of the boil. Chill wort, top off to 5 gallons, and stir to mix and aerate. Pitch yeast and ferment at 65F for one week, then transfer to secondary for two weeks. Bottle with priming sugar and condition for two weeks. Optional: serve with a slice of orange.

 

Blue Moon Recipe (Clone)
(All-Grain Beer Recipe, 6-Gallon Batch)

Specs
OG: 1.055
FG: 1.014
IBUs: 9
ABV: 5.4%
SRM: 5

Ingredients
5.5 lb. Two-Row Brewers Malt
4.5 lb. White Wheat Malt
1 lb. Flaked Oats
0.6 oz. Hallertau hops (2.4 AAUs) @ :60Shop Conical Fermenter
3 oz. Valencia (sweet) orange peel @ :10
1.5 tsp. fresh ground coriander @ :10
Wyeast 1056: American Ale Yeast
5 oz. corn sugar for priming

Directions: Prepare a 2L yeast starter. Single infusion mash at 154°F., using 1.5 qts water per pound of grain. Sparge to collect 7.5 gallons of wort. Add hops at beginning of 60-minute boil. Add orange peel and coriander in last 10 minutes of boil. Chill wort, pitch yeast starter, and ferment at 65°F. for one week, then transfer to secondary for two weeks. Bottle with priming sugar and condition for two weeks. Optional: serve with a slice of orange.

Have you ever brewed a Blue Moon clone recipe? How did it go? 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.

3 Reasons Freezing Wine Making Fruit Should Be On Your Radar

Frozen Wine Making FruitQuestion, is it better to make wine with fruit that has been frozen?

Thanks,
Gerald
—–
Hello Gerald,

Thanks for the great question and bringing up a great wine making subject. Freezing wine making fruit is a great tactic for the home winemaker. It’s one of the wine making tips I share with people quite often.

Just like you said, freezing the fruit breaks down the fiber that is holding it together. When it comes time to actually use the wine making fruit, you will find that the color and flavors will release from the fruit into the wine must more readily. This means you are getting more out of your wine making fruit.

Not only does freezing the wine making fruit have this subtle advantage, but there are a couple of more-obvious advantages as well. Freezing the fruit affords you the luxury of being able to make the wine when you are ready to make the wine. If the strawberries are ready, but your not… freeze ’em!

Another advantage is sometimes you don’t have enough fruit to make an entire batch of of a particular fruit wine recipe. Not all fruits come in evenly. The solution is to freeze the fruit as it comes in. Freezing the wine making fruit allows you to hoard until you do have enough to make a full batch of wine.

Shop Wine Making KitsThere’s really not much to know about freezing the fruit. Its okay to chop up your larger fruit. But for berries, you are better off leaving them whole. I strongly suggest sanitizing all wine making fruits in a bath of sodium metabisulfite and water solution before freezing. Drain the fruit thoroughly. Also, common sense would dictate that the “bad ones” be pick out and discarded.

If you plan on freezing the fruit for a longer period of time, say six months or more, you may want to consider packing the fruit in sugar syrup. This will help to eliminate any negative effects from freezer-burn. Just like it sounds, you use just enough sugar syrup to cover/submerge the fruit before freezing.

If you do decide to pack your fruits in sugar syrup you will want to add less sugar then your wine recipes calls for. This is to allow for the additional sugar that will be incorporated into the wine must along with the fruit.

A simple way of handling this adjustment is to rely on your wine hydrometer. Use the hydrometer to tell you how much sugar is needed in the recipe instead of adding the amount called for in the wine recipe. Just add sugar until the desired alcohol level is reached the the hydrometer’s potential alcohol scale.

Shop Wine PressFreezing wine making fruit is not a necessity to making wine. You can make incredible wines without freezing the fruit at all. Freezing fruit is just one more method you can use to help the fruit keep while waiting from more.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Late Addition Malt Extract & Late Addition Hops

Late Addition Brewing IngredientsThere are plenty of ways to impact the aroma and flavor of your beer: the beer yeast you choose, additives, and especially malt and hops. But one important “ingredient” that can impact how your beer turns out is often overlooked – time.

In recent years, two methods to create the most optimum homebrew have become popular. For homebrewers using extract, the late addition of malt extract can benefit both the taste and color of your beer, regardless if it is dried malt extract or liquid malt extract. Similarly, any homebrewer can utilize a “hop bursting” technique of late addition hops that’s becoming commonplace for many of the most popular IPAs you’ll find in your bottle shop.

So why switch up your brew day schedule? What are the benefits of late additions? Let’s break it down.

 

Late Addition Malt Extract (DME/LME)

Whether you’re an extract brewer or an all-grain brewer using malt extract to aid with high gravity beers, waiting until the end of your boil to add all the malt extract may help you perfect your brew.

The benefit of add your malt extract late in the process is simple – it’ll provide greater clarity to your beer as well as increase hop utilization. How those steps take place is a bit more complicated.

To make the best use of malt extract, add 15 to 25 percent at the start of your boil, as your beer recipe instructions tell you to do so. However, by saving the remaining amount to add at the end of your boil, you’re able to avoid a Maillard reaction, a caramelization that leads to the darkening of your beer. Essentially, it’s what happens when sugars get stuck in your pot and begin to harden because of heat. This principal is the same whether you are using liquid malt extract (LME) or dried malt extract (DME).Shop Dried Malt Extract

An added benefit of late addition malt extracts is that they also improve the utilization of hops, allowing for more bittering to come through. This may be a good or bad thing, depending on what beer recipe you’re making and how you prefer your beer to taste.

Late malt extract additions should be added anywhere from when you have 15 minutes left in the boil to flameout. Just turn off your heat source and mix everything in thoroughly before turning the heat back on. If you wait until flameout, the wort will still be hot enough to sanitize everything.

 

Late Addition Hops

One way to increase hop flavor and aroma and avoid excessive hop bitterness is a technique called “hop bursting.”

The premise is simple: use little or no hops at the beginning of your boil, saving nearly all of them for the “flavoring” and “aroma” addition times at the end of the boil. By doing so, you decrease the alpha acid utilization that adds bitterness and increase the use of oils that lead to fruit, citrus and pine flavors and hop aromas you love so much.

This is particularly important, as the characteristics of late addition hops will greatly impact your senses, especially smell. Even though your tongue helps you out when you taste beer, the sense of smell really helps to drive how you perceive flavors.

Shop HopsA proper hop bursting technique consists of adding hops from 15 minutes left in the boil to after flameout. Remember that the later you add hops, the stronger the aroma. Popular American hop varieties like Simcoe, Amarillo, Cascade, Citra or Centennial will give you a great combination of flavors. Think of hop bursting as an ideal complement to dry-hopping your beer, which also provides strong smells.

If you want an idea of how late addition hops can make a beer taste, try picking up brews made by Stone. Most notably, their popular “Enjoy By” series of IPAs uses hop bursting techniques to create some of the strongest, tastiest hop flavors I’ve ever experienced in a beer.

Half the fun of homebrewing is the potential for experimentation, timing is just one more dynamic that can be toyed with and mastered, so try doing some late addition malt extract and late addition hops, and see how they can work best for you. They may be the key to unlocking your next great homebrew, especially if you’re a hop-head like me!
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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 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.

3 Clever Ways To Reduce Wine Acidity

Why To Reduce Wine AcidityHave now racked my muscadine wine for the 2nd time and gave it a taste test. It seems to have a very tart taste. What can I do to correct this?

Name: Bud
State: Tennessee
—–
Hello Bud,

The reason your homemade Muscadine wine is too tart is because the acidity is too high. The acidity comes from the fruit, itself, in this case the Muscadine grapes. It can also come from any Acid Blend you added as called for in your wine recipe. Every crop of Muscadines has a little difference in tartness, so it is hard for a homemade wine recipe to be accurate every time. The same goes for making wine with most fruits.

There are a some things you can do to reduce wine acidity, but now is not the time to do it. You will want to wait until the wine has completely cleared and is to the point where it could be bottled. Once you are at this point in the wine making process, you can take corrective actions to lower the wine’s acidity.

The best place to start is with an Acid Test Kit. This will tell you how much fruit acid is in the homemade wine and how much should be in it. It’s a great product to uses for such a situation. All you need is a small sample of the wine must to take a reading, and it’s fairly quick. The reading will tell you exactly how much titratable acid is in the wine.

There are three common ways to reduce wine acidity and get the wine’s tartness in the right range:

 

  • Dilution:
    If the wine is just a little too tart, you can do something as simple as add water to dilute it. You should use distilled water so that oxygen from the water is not introduced into your wine. The obvious problem with using this method to lower the acidity of a wine is that it isShop Acid Test Kit diluting the wine’s flavor as well. If you have taken a reading with the Acid Test Kit and know what your wine’s acid level is and what it should be, you can use something called a Pearson’s Square to figure out how much water it would take to reach your target acidity level.
  • Neutralization:
    One product that is perfect for reducing wine acidity is Acid Reducing Crystals. It is added directly to the wine and neutralizes a portion of the acid causing it to drop out as tartrate crystals. The directions on the side if the jar will tell you exactly how much of the Acid Reducing Crystals to add to reach your target acidity level.
  • Malolactic Fermentation:
    A malolactic fermentation is essentially a controlled bacterial fermentation with a selected malolactic bacterial culture. It is something separate from the alcohol fermentation, and is usually started at the tail end of a yeast fermentation or later. The malolactic culture slowly ferments malic acid into both lactic acid and CO2 gas. Not only is lactic acid not as tart as malic, there will be less of it when the fermentation is done, by about half. The other half is dissipated from the wine as CO2 gas. Some types of wines are routinely put through a malolactic fermentation for flavor considerations, but not all wines are well suited for a malolactic fermentation. For this reason, you should use malolactic fermentations with caution when used for the sole purpose of reducing wine acidity.

 

Shop Acid Reducing CrystalsIt may be a little obvious at this point, but you can also use a combination of the three methods to lower the acidity of the wine. This is a good option for wines that are way too tart.

If you make wine from fresh fruits for any length of time, eventually you’ll run into a situation where the wine is to tart. Knowing how to reduce wine acidity is key to becoming a well-rounded home winemaker.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

What is Diastatic Power?… Definition and Chart.

Barley With Diastatic Power In Beer MugIf you’ve been brewing for a while, you’ve probably come across the term “diastatic power” when exploring different malts and learning how to mash. What is diastatic power? What’s the big deal?

A good “diastatic power” (DP) definition would be that it is a measurement of a malted grain’s enzymatic content. When grain is malted, enzymes are produced during germination. These enzymes are responsible for converting the grain’s starches into sugar during mashing. Diastatic power is an indicator of the amount of enzymes available to convert those starches into sugar.

In the US, diastatic power is generally measured in degrees Lintner. Malts with enough DP to convert themselves are at least 30 degrees Lintner; base malts can reach as high as 180 or more. That covers the question as to “what is diastatic power“. Now here’s some actual numbers to take a look at.

Here is a diastatic power chart for some of the more common malted grains:

            Malt                             Degrees Lintner

Briess Red Wheat Malt                    180
Briess White Wheat Malt                 160
Briess Two-Row Malt                      140
Briess Pilsen Malt                            140
Briess Vienna Malt                          130
Briess Rye Malt                               105
Briess Munich Malt 10L                      40
Briess Caramel 20-120                        0
Briess Chocolate Malt                          0Shop Barley Grains
Briess Black Malt                                 0

For most all-grain beer recipes with a substantial amount of base malt, diastatic power isn’t going to be a major issue. DP comes in to play when brewing with a high proportion of specialty malts or unmalted adjuncts. There needs to be enough DP to not only convert the starches in the base grains, but in the specialty malts as well. One of the reasons American adjunct lagers are so high in two-row malt is that the extra DP is needed to convert the adjunct starches into sugar.

Diastatic power is also important when brewing partial mash. Take for example the grain bill for a partial mash recipe such as this one:

6.6 lbs. Light LME
1.5 lb. Caramel 40L
1 lb. Munich Malt (10L)

We know that the Caramel 40L contributes no diastatic power and the Munich only 40 degrees Lintner. The DP available to convert this mini-mash (simply the average by weight of the grains) is only about 16. This is far below the minimum recommended value of 30. Some recommend aiming for 70. In short, the higher the average DP, the more likely your chances are of a successful starch conversion.

There are several possible solutions for the example above:

  1. We could replace the Munich with Vienna malt without a huge impact on flavor and bring up the average diastatic power to 52.
  2. Alternatively, we could add 1 lb. of two-row barley malt to the mini-mash, bringing the average diastatic power to 52, as well.
  3. We could also “cheat” by adding a small amount of diatase enzyme.Shop Barley Crusher

The point is, all it takes is a little tweaking to help make sure the mash has enough DP to convert. The good news is that with a partial mash recipe, the mash represents such a small proportion of the overall gravity that it won’t make a huge difference if it doesn’t. Most of the gravity points will come from the LME.

The next time you brew, calculate your diastatic power and record your brewhouse efficiency. Did you have enough DP for a successful conversion? These are all advantages to know the answer to the question, what is diastatic power.
—–
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.

If You Struggle With Degassing Homemade Wine, Then Read This…

Degassing Homemade Wine With DrillDegassing the wine has been one of my biggest problems, stirring just does not get it done. I am in the health field so… Next I tried a surgical suction pump generating about 20 inches of mercury neg pressure. That did ok but there is still a little fizz. Next I went for stopcocks, tubing and 60cc syringe, boy can I get negative pressure with that. No more fizz but you should see the bubbles that come out and keep coming out even after the wine taste flat with no fizz. Any idea what I am pulling out, can’t all be CO2 can it?

Name: Bill B
State: NY
—–
Hello Bill,

Thanks for your great question on degassing homemade wine. I hope this information clears things up for you.

To answer your question, absolutely there can still be CO2 gas in your homemade wine. At one atmosphere the wine can be completely stable and still have CO2 gas. Then as you apply negative pressure or try degassing the wine with a vacuum, the CO2 bubble begin to appear. The fact is, some CO2 will always want to remain saturated into the wine, just not enough to matter or taste. So I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

As you have suggested, there are also other gases in your homemade wine. They are mostly produced during the fermentation. These are gases such as sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. Fortunately, these gases are only in trace amounts as compared to the carbon dioxide, but can affect the aroma and flavor if they become excessive.

Degassing Homemade Wine With The WhipOne item you might want to try in the future for degassing your homemade wines is called The Whip. This is a basically an optimally-shaped rod that is used with a drill. It attaches to a hand-drill just like a drill bit would. It agitates the wine and causes the CO2 gas to nucleate and release as bubbles.

 

The reason I bring up The Whip is twofold:

  1. It will degas your homemade wine without splashing it. This is important because splashing can cause air to saturate into the wine which can promote oxidation if it becomes too excessive.
  1. It’s a lot less work. You just stick it into the wine, pull the trigger, and let it do its thing.

 

It is important to realize that when siphoning, pouring, bottling, or doing whatever to a wine, you will get bubbles, no matter what. This is because, just like most liquids, the wine has surface tension that causes these bubbles to form.

I would suggest to you that if you are to a point that you can not get anymore CO2 bubbles to occur when using an agitation method such as a The Whip, then you are done degassing the wine. While you may be able to get more CO2 from the wine with a vacuum, it is not necessary.

Shop Mini Jet Wine FilterAlso, realize that as you go through the steps of making a wine, the act of racking, transferring and bottling will give additional opportunities for the CO2 and other gases to release. What it comes down to, is that degassing homemade wine is not completely necessary until you are ready to bottle it.

Overall, degassing homemade wine is not anything you should worry over too much, Yes, you want to get the bulk of the gas out of the wine. And yes, you want to do it without splashing the wine. But expecting to get every last bit with a vacuum a strong vacuum is not necessary.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Westmalle Tripel Clone Recipe (Extract & All-Grain)

Glass Of Belgian TripleTrappist beers are those made at Trappist monasteries; beers made in the Trappist style are called abbey beers. Most are characterized at malt-forward dry ales that are conditioned in the bottle. Belgian yeast strains often produce distinctive fruity or spicy qualities. Belgian beer fans go to great lengths to procure bottles from the eight Trappist breweries.

Westmalle Abbey is a monastery in Malle, Belgium, outside of Antwerp. It was founded in 1794, where brewing began in 1836. Westmalle’s Tripel is probably their most popular commercial brew.

The beer writer Michael Jackson describes the Tripel as: dry with an herbal aroma and fruity and floral flavor against a solid backdrop of malt. He recommends pairing Westmalle Tripel with asparagus, noting that “perhaps the citric note in Westmalle Tripel finds an affinity with that lemon-grassy flavor that also lurks in the plant.”

The Westmalle Tripel clone recipe below comes from the 2008 issue of Brew Your Own magazine. Simulate Westmalle’s water profile by using hard (mineral rich) water.

 

Westmalle Tripel Clone Recipe
(partial mash recipe, 5 gallon batch)

Specs:
OG = 1.082
FG = 1.012
IBU = 35
ABV = 8.5%
Boil Time: 90 minutesShop Dried Malt Extract

Ingredients:
5.5 lbs. pale malt
1 lb. caramel 10L malt
4 lbs. unhopped light DME
1 lb. clear candi sugar
1 oz. Styrian Goldings hops (3 AAUs) at :90
.75 oz. Tettnang hops (3 AAU) at :60
.5 oz. Fuggle hops (3 AAU) at :30
.5 oz. Saaz hops (2 AAU) at :5
2-3 packs Wyeast 3787: Trappist High Gravity

 

Directions, Partial-Mash: Prepare a 2L yeast starter the day before brewing using 2 packs of Wyeast. (Alternatively, use three packs without a starter.) On brew day, conduct a mini-mash with the crushed grains using about 3 gallons of clean water. Hold at 152°F. for 90 minutes. Sparge with 3.75 gallons of water at 170°F., collecting wort into boil kettle. Mix in DME and candi sugarShop Steam Freak Kits and bring to a boil. Add hops according to schedule. At end of boil, stir to create a whirlpool, remove from heat and chill wort. Pour wort into sanitized fermenter containing enough clean water to make 5.25 gallons. Pitch yeast at 70°F.. Ferment at 68°F. for two weeks, then condition at 50°F for 3-4 weeks. Prime and bottle, allowing to condition for at least 8 weeks. Age up to a year and serve in your favorite Belgian chalice glass!

Directions, All-Grain Option: Replace the 4 lbs. DME with 6 lbs. pale malt. Use 18 qts. of water for the mash and 20 qts. to sparge. Add the Belgian candi sugar when bringing wort to a boil and follow remainder of recipe above.

This Westmalle Tripel clone recipe is absolutely worth brewing. It’s a great introduction to Abby beers and Belgian beers in general.
—–
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.

Making A Wine Yeast Starter To Restart A Stuck Fermentation

Yeast Starter To Restart Stuck FermentationThere are times when no matter what you do, a fermentation will not complete the task at hand. The fermentation seemed to be going along fine. The activity was looking good. The temperature was right. Then boom! The fermentation seemingly hits a brick wall and comes to an abrupt stop.

You check the wine with a hydrometer only to discover that there is plenty more sugar that needs to be fermented. What you have here is a stuck fermentation.

In most cases you can remedy a stuck fermentation and get it started again by going over The Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure, however there are times when there seems to be no solution in sight. These are the times when more drastic measures need to be taken. Namely a wine yeast starter.

A wine yeast starter is a very dependable way to restart a stuck fermentation, particularly when you know that all the environmental conditions are correct. A wine yeast starter is different than rehydrating a yeast for a few minutes. It is actually starting a mini-fermentation for a couple of days and then adding it to the stuck fermentation.

The best wine yeast to use in a starter to restart a stuck fermentation is Champagne type yeast. This type of wine yeast is better at fermenting in diverse conditions than most others. If you do not have a Champagne type yeast on hand, you can use whatever is available and still get positive results, but always use Champagne yeast when it is available for restarting a stuck fermentation.

 

How To Make A Wine Yeast Starter

For restarting 5 or 6 gallons, take a quart jar and fill it half way with the wine in question. Add to that, water until the jar is 2/3 full. Put in the mix a 1/4 teaspoon of yeast nutrient, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Be sure that the sugar becomes completely dissolve. Now you can add a whole packet of the Champagne yeast. Cover the jar with a paper towel and secure with a rubber band.Shop Conical Fermenter

Put the starter in a cozy spot at 70° to 75°F. You should see some activity within 12 to 18 hours. You will want to pitch the wine starter into the stuck fermentation right after you see the level of foaming in the jar peak. This will usually be around 1-1/2 to 2 days. Be sure to swirl the jar to add all the sediment in the starter to the wine must, as well.

Don’t worry, you won’t end up with anything like in the picture above. That’s just there for fun, but you should see a good layer of foam be produced before it’s ready to add to the stuck fermentation.

It is a bit of work, but making a wine yeast starter to restart a stuck fermentation is the ultimate way to go when you are having a stubborn fermentation. There are more minor things you can try first, based on The Top Ten Reason For Fermentation Failure article, but when push comes to shove, making a yeast starter is the way to go.
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Selecting The Right Beer Yeast For Your Homebrew

Assortment Of Beer YeastGuest blogger Billy Broas delivers sound advice for selecting the right yeast strain for your homebrew:
—–

Beer yeast is an underappreciated ingredient in homebrewing. Sure, we know that we must take the right steps to keep it happy: make a yeast starter, control the temperature, aerate, etc. But yeast’s flavor impact on the final product is often overlooked. Sometimes we forget that selecting beer yeast that is appropriate is just as important as nurturing the beer yeast we select.

If you’re trying to brew a beer strictly to style, then it’s best to choose a traditional beer yeast strain. In general, go with an American yeast strain for American styles, an English strain for English styles, etc.

Sometimes when selecting beer yeast you choose a traditional strain, but aren’t happy with the results. You might be tempted to switch to a different beer yeast, but don’t forget about all of the different variables that affect yeast character. The beer yeast you select may actually be perfect, but you pitched it a little too warm.

Pitching temperatures, fermentation temperatures, time, and even fermenter shape all impact the flavor you get from a beer yeast when homebrewing. Try tweaking these variables before jumping strain to strain. I was never a big fan of Wyeast 3068 (the Weihenstephan strain), but once I figured out the correct fermentation temperature it became my favorite strain for German ales.

Of course you don’t always need to go by beer style guidelines. Much of the fun in homebrewing is experimenting. You could try a German Ale yeast in an American Pale Ale or a Bohemian Lager yeast in an Irish Stout. If you factor in the variables mentioned above like temperature and aeration, the potential new flavor profiles become endless.

In addition to flavor and aroma, the beer yeast you select will have a big impact on the mouthfeel of the beer. Have you ever made a beer that tasted too thin? Maybe it finished at a very low gravity and dried out too much. A common corrective action is to use more grain to make a “bigger” beer. Or maybe you add some CaraPils to provide more dextrins.

Perhaps the best solution though is selecting beer yeast with lower attenuation – one that doesn’t ferment that last bit of carbohydrates out of the beer. You can keep the rest of the beer recipe the same and because the new strain won’t ferment as many sugars, the final gravity will be higher, resulting in a fuller-tasting beer.

For example, I love using WLP007 Dry English Ale yeast for my English Pale Ales and IPAs, but my English Mild is too low in gravity for that yeast. It’s a 1.035 original gravity beer, so the WLP007 would make it very thin tasting. To give it more body I use a less attenuation English Ale yeast, such as WLP002.

Selecting beer yeast is not a thoughtless task. Choose your beer yeast wisely when homebrewing, and most importantly, take notes on your batches. With time you’ll find the best beer yeast strain for all of your favorite beer recipes!
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Billy Broas is a BJCP beer judge and the homebrewing expert on the Rocky Mountain PBS television show “Colorado Brews.” He teaches an online homebrewing class at The Homebrew Academy and runs a blog about craft beer at BillyBrew.com.

Wine Concentrate vs Fresh Grapes

Napa Valley SignI have been making wine from top end ($200+) wine concentrate kits and really getting into it. I was wondering if I should continue with wine kits or jump into creating wine from fresh grapes. I guess my questions is: What will produce a better red wine, a high end wine kit or quality fresh grapes?

Best Regards,
Dominick S.
—–
Hello Dominick,

This is really a great question, and one that I’m sure is on the minds of many individuals who use these wine concentrate kits, so I’ll cut right to the chase.

As surprising as it may seem, your better wines are much more likely to come from our high-end, wine kits. There are two very compelling reasons for this:

 

1. You cannot make a wine that is better than the grapes used to produce it.

This is an adage that is well known and respected throughout the wine making industry. While adhering to sound wine making practices is extremely important, the quality of your wine is limited by the quality of your grape. Being a good wine maker does not trump having good grapes.

And that is exactly what you are paying for when you purchase our high-end concentrate kits. You are paying for select grapes. These are grapes from prized wine making regions around the world. So unless you are writing to me from Napa or Sonoma County, the quality of the grapes you can find will have to be taken into consideration. Most home wine makers do not have access to the caliber of grapes these kits provide.Shop Wine Kits

 

2. The juices in these kits have been bench-tested several times.

What I mean by this is the producers of these concentrate kits have already made the wine from them and have made the optimal adjustments before they are brought to the home wine maker market. All the controllable variables such as acidity, brix level, and others have all been taken care of for you so that you can have consistently good results.

 

All of the above does not mean that you shouldn’t make wine from fresh grapes. There’s always something charming about making something from scratch, and the case of making your own wine, is no different. It’s fun… It’s gratifying… It’s rewarding… It gives you a sense of accomplishment, just like any good hobby should do.

Making wine from fresh grapes is also a great learning experience. You get to acquaint yourself, first-hand, to what a winery has to accomplish to turn the grapes into a wine. So if you are in the hobby to learn more about wine, then by all means go ahead. Make some wine from fresh grapes. But, if you’re in it to make the best wine possible, the smart money is on wine concentrate kits.shop_wine_making_kits

Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.