Quick Spiced Holiday Mead


This guest article originated with a listener’s question to Basic Brewing Radio. James asked mead fan Tim Leber to respond to a question involving the desire to make a mead in time for the holidays. Tim’s answer was so thorough that James suggested that Tim flesh it out and let us publish it. So here’s Tim’s suggestion for making a spiced holiday mead in time for the holidays. He recommends de-gassing the mead during fermentation, to keep the yeast working as quickly as possible. And, when primary fermentation is finished, the mead is stabilized with potassium sorbate (which is commonly used in winemaking).

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Hedgerow Tripel


A Sherman tank, with a hedgerow cutter, crashes through a hedgerow in WWII.

Here is my recipe for tripel. As I mentioned in the series of articles on tripel, the recipe for a good tripel can be very simple — and this recipe is as simple as you can make it, just Pilsner malt, sugar, hops, and yeast. They key to brewing a great tripel is running a good fermentation. Using high-quality malt and hops is also important.

If you plan to brew tripels often, take good notes when brew this, and tweak the beer to your liking in subsequent brew sessions. Relatively little changes in the fermentation can lead to tastable changes in the finished beer, so take extra care to monitor the fermentation and record all the details.

Hedgerow Tripel

by Chris Colby

All-grain; English units


This is a classic Belgian-style tripel, based on the famous Westmalle Tripel. It is a strong (9% ABV) beer that is light in color. The (relatively) high hopping rate, low final gravity, and high level of carbonation give the beer a dry feel, relative to other beers of this strength. There are no spices in this beer. However, the yeast strain and fermentation conditions add a moderate amount of fruity esters and phenolic “spice” to the beer. 

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Beer News (Aug. 3–Sept. 10)

BWJlogoOK, it’s been awhile, so this is a fairly large installment of Beer News. As always, let’s start with a listicle. In a list concept that seemed totally forced, but that I couldn’t stop myself from clicking on, Thrillist has compiled the perfect beer for every NFL team. Somehow, the best beer for the Browns isn’t a brown ale. Uproxx has also compiled the best breweries in South Dakota. I’m from there — although currently living in Texas — and I hadn’t heard of some of these.

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Tripel (IV: Fermentation)

DSCN2183The recipe for tripel is downright simple. And, wort production is not that elaborate (at least compared to, say, a multiple decoction mash). Fermentation, however, can get a bit tricky. [Read more…]

What I Believe (Post 500)

BWJlogoThis is the 500th post to Beer and Wine Journal, minus a couple time-sensitive posts that were deleted when they were no longer relevant. (I know you’re all interested the minutiae of how we counted we that.) Most of what is posted here is nuts and bolts homebrewing stuff, with the occasional food-related update. I’ve also published a very few opinion pieces. For the 500th post, I’m going to tell you what I believe. (Basically, I believe I’ll steal a comedy bit from Steve Martin.) [Read more…]

Forced Fermentation Test (II: Practice)

IMG_1912Last week, I described the basic idea behind the forced fermentation test. Basically, you overpitch a small sample of wort, and ferment it at high temperature. The sample will reach it’s final gravity (FG) before your main batch of beer. Knowing the FG of the sample will tell you what the FG of the your beer will be. This can be good to know when you are deciding whether to bottle. Here’s how to perform the test. [Read more…]

Tripel (III: Wort Production)

DSCN2183The recipe for a tripel is simple, it’s almost the equivalent of the “recipe” for scrambled eggs. However, as with preparing eggs, success lies in the freshness of the ingredients and in the details of the preparation. When brewing a tripel, your main task on brewday is to make a highly fermentable wort. [Read more…]

Forced Fermentation Test (I:The Basic Idea)

IMG_1912Brewers, especially new brewers, may wonder what the final gravity (FG) of their beer should be. Perhaps their barleywine stopped fermenting at SG 1.022 and they are wondering if it’s done or the fermentation is stuck. This is something the FG alone can’t tell you.

Established recipes frequently list an expected FG, and these should be a good estimate if you follow the recipe exactly. If, however, you’re formulating your own recipe — or modifying an existing one — the FG depends on three main variables. First, every yeast strain has a different range of apparent attenuation. Secondly,grain bills can be mashed to yield more or less fermentable worts. (Likewise, different malt extracts yield worts of differing fermentabilities.) And finally, some kettle adjuncts are more or less fermentable than wort made from mashed grains or dissolved malt extract. Table sugar (sucrose), for example, is 100% fermentable. In contrast, milk sugar (lactose) is not fermentable by brewers yeast. Although it may be possible to calculate a likely FG, you can determine experimentally what your FG will likely be with the forced fermentation test.  [Read more…]

My One Good Fred Story

Fred_EckhardtHomebrewers today live in a world full of information. There are homebrewing books, magazines, websites, and internet forums. In addition, there are homebrewing clubs to join and contests to enter. But it wasn’t always that way.

In the United States, in the late 1970s, there was nothing. In 1979, Jimmy Carter signed a bill making the homebrewing of beer legal in the US. Home winemaking was already legal, and there was a small community of home winemakers. But home beer brewing was clandestine and not widely practiced, although most people probably “knew a guy who knew a guy.”  [Read more…]

Tripel (II: Recipe)

DSCN2183The recipe for a tripel is simple. You’ll need enough Pilsner malt, and roughly 20% sucrose (table sugar), to reach your target original gravity. The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) gives this range as OG 1.075–1.085. Plus, noble hops — all added near the beginning of the boil — to reach your target level of IBUs. The BJCP gives this as 20–40 IBUs. And finally, an attenuative yeast, with a moderately  “spicy” Belgian character, to yield a low final gravity (FG). The BJCP gives this as 1.008–1.014 for a corresponding alcohol content of 7.5–9.5%. And that’s it.

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