Beer News (Jan 8–21)

BWJlogoIf you’re reading this, odds are you enjoy beer. And it’s likely that your parents also enjoyed beer . . . or wine or spirits. In fact, it is possible that your ancestors have enjoyed alcohol for hundreds of thousands of generations. Recently, scientists discovered evidence that humans have been consuming alcohol for 10 million years, long before they understood how to control fermentations to produce alcoholic beverages. Here’s link to the original article.


What a Croc!

Ever go to a wedding reception, only to find out that the bar only has macrobrews? It could be worse, you could have ended up being poisoned by the beer. This happened in Mazambique where around 70 guests died after drinking beer that was supposedly tinged with crocodile bile. Although the poisoning was real, the idea that crocodile bile was the poison was questioned and later discarded as the culprit.

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Maibock (III: Boiling and Hops)

IMG_2091Wort production — mashing and running off the wort — for a Maibock is unlikely to cause most homebrewers any problems. For a 5.0-gallon (19-L) batch, you’ll need 11–16 lbs. (5.0–7.3 kg) of grain — assuming you get an extract efficiency between 65 and 80% — to hit your target original gravity (OG 1.064–1.072). If you have a 10-gallon (38-L) or larger mash tun, you’ll have plenty of room.

For some homebrewers, however, kettle size may be limiting. Fully-sparged, 11–16 lb. of grain should yield 7 to 10 gallons (26 to 38 L) of pre-boil wort at around 11 °Plato (SG 1.044). If your extract efficiency is on the low end, and you’re shooting for a Maibock on the high end of the OG range, a 10-gallon (38-L) kettle will not be large enough.

To calculate how much pre-boil wort your grain bed will yield, assuming it is fully sparged, multiply your weight of your grain bed (in pounds) times 0.65 gallons per pound — this will give you a rough approximation (in gallons) of the volume of pre-boil wort. If this is more than you can comfortably boil in 90 minutes, you can add more grain to your recipe, but collect less wort. (Estimating how much grain to add can be tricky, though.) You could also supplement your all-grain wort with malt extract. You could also reformulate the recipe for a lower starting gravity.

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Maibock (II: Malts and Mashing)


Adding 5–25% Munich malt to your grist gives a nice malt character that is appropriate in a bockbier.

Most Maibock recipes are very simple. The beer should be pale and better attenuated than other bockbiers, so the grist is usually 100% base malts. Crystal malts are not needed because caramel flavor and the extra body that crystal malts add are not desired. In the same vein, there is no call to add CaraPils (or CaraAnything) to your grist. A simple mix of Pilsner, Vienna, and Munich malt is ideal.

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Maibock (I:Intro)

This is the introductory post for another entry in Beer and Wine Journal’s beer style series. Previous styles profiled are American Hoppy Ales (American Pale Ale, IPA, etc.), Dry Stout, German Wheat Beer, Golden Ale, Porter, and Russian Imperial Stout.


Beauty of Spring 5


With the current wintery blast engulfing most of the US, many homebrewers may be looking forward to Spring. One way to prepare for the annual return of warmer weather is to brew a Maibock (which translates from the German as May Bock). Although commercial Maibocks are often available from late-winter through early summer, they are most strongly associated with Spring. Most Maibocks clock in at around 6–7% ABV. So, if you brew one now (in January), you can lager it for 2–3 months and it will be in great shape by April or May.

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Beer News (Dec 16-Jan 7)


This graphic? Again?

OK, here’s our first post of 2015. Let’s start with a listicle (an article in the form of a list). Here are the most influential beer websites in the world, as ranked by popularity. It’s an interesting mix of commercial beer sites, craft brew enthusiast sites, and one homebrewing retailer. Of course, if they had a list of beer websites with the most intelligent and best educated readers (and most pandering editor), it would be this site. Am I right? Continuing with lists, Meadist issued their list of the top 5 meads. (See, Beer and Wine Journal does cover wine as well as beer.)

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Top 10 Articles of 2014

BWJlogoIn 2014, James and I posted over 200 articles to Beer and Wine Journal. Here are the top 10 reader favorites. (And below that, just because some articles “have legs,” are the top 10 articles that were posted in 2013, but read in 2014.) Let us know what you’re looking forward to seeing in 2015.

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Top 10 Homebrewing Recipes of 2014

BWJlogoWe post a fair amount of recipes on Beer and Wine Journal. Here are the ten that got the most traffic in 2014.

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10 Advanced Brewing Articles from 2014

BWJlogoAs 2014 draws to a close, here’s a look back at some of the things James and I posted this year. We try to post articles that appeal to every type of homebrewer. This includes articles that are aimed at advanced brewers, including articles that contained information on brewing science or were the results of scientific experiments. Here, in no particular order, are ten “advanced” homebrewing articles from 2014.

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Texas Two Step Double IPA

Lupulin - yellow gold

Lupulin – yellow gold

Brewing bitter extract beer can be tough. As I have described before, there are two reasons why extract beers tend to be less bitter than comparable all-grain brews. The first is that hop utilization is lowered if a high-gravity wort is boiled. (Adding your extract late minimizes this problem.)

The second problem is the dilution factor. If you want to make 5.0 gallons of double IPA at 80 IBUs, but you’re only yielding 2.5 gallons of wort from your brewpot, that wort would need to be 160 IBUs. This is higher than can be achieved through boiling hops. The only cure for the dilution factor is to boil your full wort volume. Either you need a kettle big enough to hold the full wort, plus about 20% more volume to handle the foaming — and a heat source capable of bringing this volume to a rolling boil — or you need to split the wort into multiple batches.

Several years ago, I tested a method for brewing very bitter extract beer on my stovetop. I called the method The Texas Two Step because I made roughly half of the wort one day, then the remaining wort the next. By breaking up wort production into two steps, I could boil each step at working strength, therefore getting the most from my hops. In addition, since I didn’t need to make a yeast starter for the first volume of beer, I recouped some of the extra time it takes to takes to brew two 2–3 gallon batches over two evenings versus one 5.0-gallon batch in a single evening.  [Read more...]

Fortified Winter Warmer (3-gallon/11-L partial mash version)

905702_4643927971453_530286809_oWinter isn’t over yet, and winter warmers can — and should, if you ask me — be enjoyed throughout the winter, not just over the holidays. Here’s a 3.0-gallon (11-L) partial mash version of my spiced winter ale that could be ready by mid-February if you brew it around the New Year. [The 5.0-gallon (19-L) version was posted earlier.]

If you make the specified-sized yeast starter, the 8% ABV base beer should ferment and condition in about 6 weeks. Adding the “spice” — the Scandinavian liquor aquavit — bumps the beer up to 9% ABV and adds a hint of the anise-like character of caraway. Because the spicing of aquavit is consistent, you can be assured of hitting a reasonable level of spicing every time. [And since I only like a hint of spice, you can add more aquavit if you’d like more “licorice” character (and alcohol).]

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