US Homebrewing is in Decline

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This is a completely meaningless graph.


A few weeks ago, I attended the Dixie Cup. This is the annual homebrew conference held by the Foam Rangers, one of the clubs in Houston. As always, it was a great time. But, attendance was down. And, the number of entries in the associated homebrew contest was also down. A week or so after that, I went to a movie — the new Rush documentary — with friends, one of whom was in the BJCP and he mentioned that the number of exams he had to grade was down. This gave me the idea to call around to some sources and see if these were just random fluctuations, or if US homebrewing in general was in decline. That would make a good article for Beer and Wine Journal, I thought. As it turns out, Forbes already wrote that article.

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Reddit AMA on Thursday

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-12-50-57-pmI have a Reddit AMA scheduled for 9:00 am Central on Thursday. “AMA” stands for Ask Me Anything and among the things you can ask me are questions about my new book, “Home Brew Recipe Bible” (2016, Page Street), Beer & Wine Journal, anything brewing related, or . . . anything. (I hope that narrows it down.)  [Read more…]

Contest Cream Ales

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-3-49-46-pmOn Tuesday, I judged a flight of beers for the Dixie Cup, the annual competition held by Houston’s Foam Rangers homebrew club. The style of beer was cream ale. Judging cream ale, and tasting several different twists on it, gave me a few insights into brewing the style — especially if you are brewing it to enter into a BJCP homebrew competition. [Read more…]

Of Homebrews and Hurricanes

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-3-02-28-pmHomebrewers on the US’s East Coast know that Hurricane Matthew is projected to skirt the eastern seaboard, dumping lots of rain on coastal cities. Florida is already warning residents to prepare for the possibility of power outages and perhaps the need to evacuate some areas. All residents in the possible track of the storm should be ready to take precautions. Luckily, as a homebrewer, you have a leg up when it comes to storm preparations. [Read more…]

Last Day to Pre-Order Book

DSCN3853Today is the last day to pre-order my new book, Home Brew Recipe Bible.  The pre-order price at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble is roughly 10 bucks off the cover price — just $14.52. Tomorrow, September 20th, the book will be officially released and (I presume) the price will go up. Thanks to everyone who has already pre-ordered. Some details of the book are given here.

Managing Tannins as a Beer Character (Part II of II)

375px-Tannic_acid.svgAs mentioned in the first part of this article, there are a few beers that might benefit from just a hint of astringency. Usually, the slight puckering sensation will offset or complement another character in the beer. (And, of course, we all know that noticeable astringency in most beers is going to be unwanted.) There are a couple ways you can get just a hint of astringency in your beer, if you want it.

Tannins are water soluble. They are more soluble in high pH solutions than low. And, like most water soluble molecules, they are more soluble in hot water than cold. Let’s first review what happens when you use continuous sparging with 170 °F (77 °C) water. In other words, if you sparge in the normal way meant to minimize tannin extraction. [Read more…]

Managing Tannins as a Beer Character (Part I of II)

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Tannic acid, the molecule that gives its name to the class of polyphenols called tannins.

Tannins are a class of molecules found in plants. At high doses, tannins are unpalatable to animals (including humans) and are most highly concentrated in the parts of plants that need the most protection. Some types of tannins are found in barley seed, and hence are present in malt. Other tannins are found in hops. A small amount of tannins are extracted in the mash and in the boil. Some react with proteins and drop out of the brewing stream, but some do carry over into finished beer — and brewing scientists have found that a beer completely devoid of tannins does not taste right. However, as all brewers know, an excess of tannins leads to a harsh astringency that is unpleasant. So, most brewers strive to minimize the amount of tannins extracted in their beers. [Read more…]

Fruit Wine, Take Two

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The fruit, in a nylon bag, fermenting in a bucket. Every day, the fruit gets punched down, so all of it contacts the fermenting wine over the course of the fermentation.

OK, since the website name is Beer & Wine Journal, I guess I should occasionally post something about wine. Back in 2013, I made a wine I called Cherry Berry Wine because it was made with . . . well, you guess (or see the recipe). Last week, I was shopping at HEB (my local supermarket) and they had the same mix of fruits for fairly low prices, so I got the ingredients for another batch of fruit wine. [Read more…]

Home Brew Recipe Bible, by Chris Colby

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My book, sitting near the edge of my garden, for no apparent reason.

Earlier this year, I wrote a book. Now, I am excited to say that it will be released soon (Sept. 20). Here’s a brief description of it.

The Home Brew Recipe Bible includes 101 beer recipes — 97 from me and one each from James Spencer (Basic Brewing Radio), Denny Conn (coauthor of Experimental Brewing and Homebrew All-Stars), Dan Ironside (author of Idiot’s Guides: Homebrewing), and Mark Schoppe (two time NInkasi winner). The recipes cover all the major beer styles, including stouts, porters, pales ales, IPAs, strong ales, lagers, sour beers and others. It also contains a few adventurous beers brewed with unusual ingredients — including my Frost Giant Jule Øl, a winter warmer that is spiked with aquavit (a Scandinavian liquor spiced with caraway), and my Beelzeboss saison that uses the soda pop Mt. Dew as part of the brewing liquor. [Read more…]

Fruit IPAs (II: How to Brew a Fruit IPA)

DSCN3793Brewing a fruit IPA is no more difficult than brewing any fruit beer. The most popular fruit IPAs use fruits that either accentuate the citrus character of their hops (grapefruit IPA, blood orange IPA) or the tropical character in hops (mango IPA, pineapple IPA). See below for a list of hops with these characters. The best examples of fruit IPAs have enough fruit character that you can tell it’s not an ordinary IPA, but not so much that the underlying beer is totally obscured. As such, you really don’t need to alter your IPA recipe to accommodate the fruit — just decide how intense you want the fruit flavor and add that to the recipe. [Read more…]