Rube’s Ramped Roggenbier (Surefire Extract Recipe)


A diagram of the temperature ramp the steeped grains (really a small mash) undergo. This should make for a more clove-y beer.

Here’s another surefire extract recipe — a roggenbier. Roggenbiers are like dunkelweizens, but made with rye instead of wheat. The distinctive “pumpernickel” flavor of rye blended with the banana and clove aroma of a hefeweizen make this a flavorful and interesting beer. The “spicy” notes of Tettnang hops round out the aroma.

This recipe adds one twist on the usual extract brewing method — a temperature ramp from 109 °f (43 °C) through 150 °F (66 °C) for the steeped grains. (Really, it’s a small mash, so follow the temperatures and liquid amounts as closely as possible.) The initial low temperature helps accentuate the clove character in the beer. For a explanation of this, see our series on brewing hefeweizens. (This step can be omitted, if you’d like to simplify the brewing; you’ll just end up with a more banana-focused roggenbier.)

The brew-in-a-bag-like (BIAB-like) grain steeping allows you to use a lot of rye malt, but not have to worry about lautering, as an all-grain brewer would. (See James’ 100% Rye  Pale Ale for more on the difficulties of brewing all-grain beer with high percentages of rye. While you’re at it, see Denny Conn’s take on brewing with rye and his Rye IPA recipe.)

You’ll either need to make a small (1-qt./1-L) yeast starter, or add some neutral dried ale yeast to boost your pitching rate, to best brew this beer. Hopefully these two little twists don’t make brewing this beer Rube Goldbergian, because this beer is flavorful and fun to brew.


Rube’s Ramped Roggenbier


Malt extract: English units



A copper/amber ale with the “snap” of rye and banana/clove aroma of a hefeweizen.

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All-Grain Brew Day Walkthrough (X: Pitching)

This is the tenth, and final, installment in the All-Grain Brew Day Walkthrough, which started with a post on strike water preparation.



A yeast starter can be used to raise the number of yeast cells to the proper amount for pitching.

Once the wort is chilled, aerated, and in your fermenter, your last task is to pitch the yeast. (This ignores the cleaning that you’ll need to do after you wrap up.) Homebrewers may use dried yeast, liquid yeast, or repitched yeast to pitch their worts. To determine how much yeast you will need, consult a pitching rate calculator several days before your brewday and determine how much yeast to purchase, how large of a yeast starter to make, or how much yeast slurry to harvest from another fermentation.

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Beer News (April 14–20)

BWJlogoOnce again, we’ll start with a listicle ‚ 23 things homebrewers are tired of hearing, from Buzzfeed. And here are the NHC first round winners. (I was lucky enough to judge some of these beers at the Austin regionals.) And speaking of beer contests, here’s a behind the scenes look at judging for the World Beer Cup.

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Your First All-Grain Beer

I was going to post the last installment of the all-grain brew day walkthrough today, but decided to call an audible. Instead, I’m going to post this article, “Your First All-Grain Beer,” as a prequel to that series. It can fall between the “Should You Go All-Grain?” article, presuming you’ve answered yes, and the “All-Grain Brew Day Walkthrough” series. I’ll wrap up the walkthrough series on Monday. (I will also return to the series on “Enzymes for Brewers” early next week.) 


IMG_2935You always remember your first. That’s a statement that applies to a lot of things, but it will certainly apply to your first all-grain brew day. Ask any all-grain brewer about his first time, and you will likely hear a funny story. Lots of things can go wrong on your first brew day. And the way brewers try to fix the problems often make things worse. However, ask the brewer how his beer turned out and you’ll likely hear that it was great. Brewing can be very forgiving. This article is going to be half advice and half pep talk — a letter to all new brewers taking the plunge into all-grain.

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Storing Wort Runs the Risk of Botulism


Clostridium botulinum — the bacteria that produces the botulinum toxin, which causes botulism. (CDC photo in the public domain)

Botulism is a rare but serious condition that can occur due to eating improperly preserved foods. One homebrewing practice that is gaining in popularity may put homebrewers at risk for botulism — using the no-chill method of wort chilling and subsequently storing (unpitched) boiled wort in sealed containers for long periods of time.

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All-Grain Brew Day Walkthrough (IX: Aeration)


A standard wort oxygenation setup. A regulator sits atop a cylinder of welding oxygen. The oxygen passes through a HEPA filter on it’s was to the aeration stone, made of sintered stainless steel.

This is the nineth installment in the All-Grain Brew Day Walkthrough, which started with a post on strike water preparation.


Aside from cleanup, the last two things a brewer does on brew day is to aerate the wort and pitch the yeast. Pitching an adequate amount of yeast, and “feeding” it with an adequate amount of oxygen, will ensure an orderly fermentation. An orderly fermentation is one that starts in a reasonable time, proceeds smoothly, and reaches a reasonable final gravity.

Altering the pitching rate or aeration level in your beer can affect its aroma and flavor. If you lower the pitching rate below what is optimal, the yeast need to reproduce more to reach the proper density to ferment the wort. Since esters are primarily given off in the growth phase, under pitching leads to more estery beer. In a like manner, under aerating the wort also increases ester production. These effects are most easily seen in yeast strains that produce a lot of esters and other fermentation byproducts. Most estery English ale yeasts, “spicy” Belgian yeasts, and wheat beer yeast strains “clean up” noticeably when the pitching rate is increased above the optimal rate and the wort is well aerated. The effect is harder to notice in cleanly fermenting yeast strains.

In most cases, it’s best to pick a yeast strain with the fermentation characteristics you desire rather than trying to stress a yeast into producing more esters, or taming its fermentation byproducts through overpitching.

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Money Saving Homebrewing Tips


Frugal websites can save money by using art that is the public domain. (Art released to the public domain by artist.)

Compared to a lot of other hobbies we could be spending our money on, homebrewing is fairly cheap. Still, money is, well . . . money. So here are some suggestions for lowering your homebrewing bill.

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3-gallon (11-L) All-Grain Golden Ale

368px-Ah,_what_a_lovely_maid_it_is!_by_Elmer_Boyd_SmithBrewing smaller batch sizes is something that many homebrewers are exploring, whether for considerations of space or to brew a greater variety beers. This is another recipe that can be brewed with a simple 3-gallon (11-L) all-grain brewing setup. With this 3.0-gallon (11-L) all-grain brewing setup, you can brew all-grain beers in your kitchen and have everything fit on your countertop. There are also somes fringe benefits to brewing at this scale — you don’t need to make a yeast starter when using liquid yeast at specific gravities around 13 ° Plato (roughly 1.052) or less, the wet T-shirt method works well for cooling fermenters at this scale, and your heating and cooling times can be very quick. (See our post on small batch brewing for more.) This is a great way for apartment dwellers to brew all-grain batches. The only downside is that you yield 3.0 gallons (11 L) of beer rather than 5.0 gallons (19 L).

There are also 5-gallon all-grain and extract versions of this recipe. For other 3-gallon all-grain recipes, see the links at the bottom of this post.


“Freyja’s” Eyes

Golden ale

by Chris Colby

All-grain; English units



A crisp golden ale with a grainy and bready pale malt flavor. Hop bitterness and flavor are quite high for this type of beer, but not to the point of masking the malt character. The relatively high pitching rate and low fermentation temperatures yield a fairly clean fermentation, even though a Belgian yeast strain is used.

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Beer News (April 7–13)

BWJlogoThe Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) was held this week and along with it, the World Beer Cup. The winners of the World Beer Cup are posted here. One concern at this year’s conference was the perceived threat to the craft brew industry from small breweries producing low-quality beer. Paul Gatza of the Brewers Association urged brewers to improve. (See also this blog.) To me, this brought up some interesting questions. Are bad breweries — and they’re out there, no doubt — really dragging the whole industry down? Or are they irrelevant? In the ’60s — when Hendrix, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and the Kinks were at the top of their game — was music threatened by the (many) silly bands that also existed?

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Enzymes for Brewers: I


Beta amylase from barley. The sections in gold are alpha helices. The sections in blue are beta sheets. The grey stretches are sequences of amino acids that lack secondary structure. (Diagram from Wikipedia, under Creative Commons license.)

Whether we know it or not, all brewers rely on enzymes in the brewhouse. This is a primer on the biology of enzymes, meant to give the interested brewer a more sophisticated understanding of enzymes. Nothing in this article will suggest radical alterations to your brewing procedures. However, a better understanding of enzymes may help you when things go wrong in the brewhouse — for example, if you mash at too high or too low a temperature.

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