Cleaning and sanitizing all you home brew equipment is the one thing you can do to guarantee your beer doesn’t spoil. If you fail to adequately clean and sanitize your equipment, you have a good chance of ruining your beer—which has been known to make grown men and women cry. Thankfully, cleaning and sanitizing is pretty damn easy. It just takes some attention to detail and a little common-sense. If you can wash and scrub dishes, you’ll have no problems keeping your equipment clean. It simply involves soaking, rinsing, or spraying your equipment before it touches the beer. So, let’s get to it!
Yes, you read that right. There’s such a thing as “yeast washing.” It goes by many names, including “yeast harvesting,” “yeast re-harvesting,” and “yeast rinsing.” Regardless of what you want to call it, one-gallon brewers can use this technique to brew with a wider variety of yeast strains, while saving money on liquid yeasts. I’ll walk you through how you can level-up your brewing skills with this technique. But first, let’s talk about why we’d want reuse that kind-of-gross-looking sludge at the bottom of our fermented wort.
Brown ale is such a broad range that one recipe can’t really do the style justice. It remains, in my view, one of the most underrated styles out there. The term itself isn’t particularly exciting. “Brown Ale”. As the Oxford Companion to Beer points out, that’s not much more useful than the term “red wine.” This is especially true when you consider that before the 1700s, most beers would have been brown—hence why pale ales would eventually become a huge hit.
Stout is a fascinating beer with no less than four distinct styles of its own: classic (dry), foreign, sweet, and imperial. As this is the first stout recipe I’ve developed for BeerCraftr, I kept it classic. The dry stout really is the standard and we should all strive to have a good one in our repertoire—one we could almost make in our sleep. I hope this does that. I’ve kept it simple with only one hop variety so you can experiment with the dosage of your choosing. Although, to stay within the style, I’d only experiment with the amount of aroma hops (near the end of the boil), and do so in small degrees. Treat this recipe as a blank canvass to work from.
These days, I’m mesmerized by the complexities of Belgian beer. The good ones have flavour characteristics more commonly associated with wine—complex and especially smooth (perhaps too smooth!). There’s also something seemingly contradictory about the idea of monks brewing beer, but in the 7th century, Cistercian rules called on monks to live a life of self-reliance and to be hospitable. At the time, beer was safer than water, and thus hospitable. Those were some lucky pilgrims!
India Pale Ale was not originally brewed in India; it was brewed in Britain, to be sent to India. It was brewed by British brewers for their compatriots at the front lines of the colony. As you know, shipping beer from Britain to India would have been a difficult task in the late 1700s. Beer would have to make its way across the equator and around the horn of Africa before arriving in India—four months later.
In this second instalment of the Beer Style Guide, we build on our first style review, British bitter. If you read the first instalment, you may be wondering what the difference is between British bitter and pale ale? After all, bitter is classified as a pale ale, right? Right. But then Americans came into the mix. And when they started making pale ales, they lightened the colour, added American hops, and as a result American Pale Ales are now in a class of their own.
British bitters have a definite hop presence, but in a somewhat measured way. You’ll notice the hop flavour, but it sits atop a sweet biscuit base. These beers are not bitter by today’s standards (some Imperial IPAs out there punch you in the face with bitterness). In fact, bitters are well balanced, giving equal profile to the malt, hop, and yeast. It’s a beer designed for sessional drinking—you can enjoy two or three of these in one session and find something interesting in every sip, even the last one.
The blog has been quiet of late, but for good reason. I’m working away on a comprehensive beer yeast list. At first I was planning to unveil it in its final form, but given how much time it takes, I then decided to publish chapters as I complete them. I suppose, you could say I’m taking the Eric Reis Lean Startup approach with this piece of content—getting a minimum viable product out the door!
If you’re interesting in becoming a craft brewer but are sitting on the fence, maybe these benefits will convince you to join the home brew movement. Let’s get right to it! Here are eight benefits of brewing your own beer.
As you learn to brew, one of the first things you’ll want to become acquainted with is off-flavours. In a perfect world, every single batch you ever make will be flawless, but chances are, eventually, you’ll miss the mark. And there’s a difference between a beer that underwhelms and one that offends. Usually, you’ll know right away if you’re beer is off. Trust your taste buds and your gut. But, sometimes, it helps to confirm your suspicions. If you’ve landed here because you’re afraid your beer might be off, but you can’t pin-point the taste, I’m here to help. Let’s look at all the possible off-flavours you could come across. I suggest you bookmark this page for future reference. You never know when it’ll come in handy.
Are you asking yourself this question? If so, you’re not alone. It’s a question I get all the time when I tell people I’m a home brewer. I can’t blame you for asking. We’ve all heard about the dangers of distilling alcoholic products at home…you know…the moonshine that can make you go blind. It’s enough to make any rational human being think twice about making their own alcoholic beverage. But, dear reader, I have great news for you! If you’re making beer at home, you don’t need to stress about it. Why? Because…
When starting out brewing, I often recommend not worrying about calculating the ABV of your beer, especially if it’s your very first batch. In some circles, this is considered a mistake. I have nothing against the practice – in fact I always take original and final gravity readings when I brew. But when you’re just starting out, it adds one more step that could lead to potential contamination, while reducing the final volume of beer you’ll bottle. Let me explain:
You can brew in 1-gallon batches? Oh yes, small batch brewing is awesome.
Read just about any intro to home brewing book, however, and you’ll find yourself walking the same path I did when I took up this awesome pursuit: buying all the requisite equipment and ingredients for 5-gallon brewing. It was the easiest way to get started. All the recipes I had access to were scaled for 5 gallon brewing, and since I was so new to brewing, I had no clue I had a choice in the matter. I simply assumed all home brewers were brewing in 5 gallon batches and proceeded accordingly.
I got all the equipment and ingredients needed to brew my first beer (Palilalia IPA from Charlie Papazian’s Complete Joy of Home Brewing) and off I went for years without giving the batch size any thought. But after pouring two consecutive botched brews down the drain, I started asking myself if there was a better way. If you’ve ever poured that much beer down a drain, you know the feeling. I can’t imagine how the pros feel when they have to do the same, at much larger scale!
Oh, and I was also moving to a much, much, smaller house, and as a kitchen brewer who would find himself in a home with no storage space (our three kids got first dibs with all their toys and clothes), I knew I’d need to take a different approach. So, now that I’ve sufficiently foreshadowed what comes next, here’s the comprehensive list:
If you’re not a hop head or you want an easy-sipping beer on a hot summer day, this beer will take good care of you.
For this one, we’re going with light sweetness, and low spices. It’s designed to be an easy-going, easy-sipping blonde for those of you who love Belgian beers.