Four Beer Spices (Part I of II)

A spiced dark beer.

Most brewers know a fair amount about barley and hops. They know barley is the seed of a species of grass (and specifically a cereal) and hops are cones from a vine. However, when we brew beers with other ingredients — such as fruits or spices — we might be familiar with its origin. In this article, I take a quick look at four spices commonly found in winter warmers and how to use them in brewing.

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Cranberry Zinger (Recipe Explained)

IMG_2086Thanksgiving is a couple weeks away, so I’m reposting my Cranberry Zinger recipe, with an extended explanation of the ingredients and process. (The original recipe and the all-grain version were posted 2 years ago and 1 year ago, respectively.) [Read more…]

First New Zealand Homebrewers Conference Planned

SetHeight130-logo-transparent-400If everything goes as planned, homebrewers in New Zealand can look forward to their first ever national homebrew conference next year. Homebrewers Karl Summerfield, Mike Stringer, and Eduard Briem are planning the event for March 18–20 in Nelson, to coincide with Marchfest (a craft beer event). Confirmed speakers at the conference include Dr. Chris White (White Labs), Mike “Tasty” McDole (The Brewing Network), and several local craft brewers. The current lineup of events can be found at the website for the conference.

In order to be able to hold the festival, however, they need to sell 100 tickets before the event. To do this, they are selling tickets on the crowdsourcing site, Pledge Me. At the time this was posted, they were over 80% of the way to their goal and have 26 more days to reach it. If they reach their goal, they may be able to bring additional speakers to New Zealand, speakers such as . . . oh, I don’t know, maybe there are two guys — one that does a podcast and one that does a website — that would love to attend. Who knows? It could anyone, really.




Partial Mash Session IPA

CamaronOf the new IPA variants — black IPA, brown IPA, red IPA, etc. — session IPA is the one I like the best. With the exception of a few rye IPAs, I feel that adding something to an American IPA detracts from, rather than adds to, the beer. I totally sympathize with people who don’t like the name, but whether you call it a session IPA or a dry, hoppy pale ale, I think the concept is brilliant — a “sessionable” pale ale with a big hop bouquet.

This is the partial mash version of my all-grain session IPA recipe. That recipe, in turn, is basically just a lower gravity version of my “regular” American IPA, Roswell IPA. (The amount of bittering hops is reduced slightly, but the amount of late hops is left unchanged. Here’s why I did that.) [Read more…]

Do We Really Need Six New Styles of IPA?

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Click to read the snarkier entries in smaller print.

During his war with the Roman Empire, the King of ancient Armenia — Tigranes the Great — received a message from a runner. The messenger informed him that the Roman commander Lucullus was on his way. This so enraged Tigranes that he had the messenger beheaded. As the war continued, no messenger dared bring the king bad news. So, from that point on, he only heard from messengers telling him what he wanted to hear.

This week, the BJCP released their new 2015 guidelines. They also updated their mobile app. Included in the guidelines is a new IPA subcategory called Specialty IPA that includes six new (or new-ish) varieties of IPA — Belgian IPA, Black IPA, White IPA, Red IPA, Rye IPA, and Brown IPA. (English IPA and Double IPA were moved to categories called Pale Commonwealth Beer and Strong American Ale, respectively.) Among some brewers, the response was (figuratively) similar to Tigranes. “Do we really need umpteen @$%&ing new IPAs in the guidelines?,” many said. [Read more…]

Beer News (Sep. 11–Oct. 22)


OK, it’s been awhile since I’ve compiled an installment of Beer News. Of course, you’ve all heard the Big News[tm] — Anheuser-Busch Inbev’s acquisition of SABMiller. I’ve got a whole bunch of articles collected and will post a separate update about that development, including various people speculating on how this will affect craft breweries. Prior to this huge news, was there was the much smaller news that AB-Inbev acquired Golden Road. [Read more…]

Jumbo Session Shrimp IPA

CamaronHere is my recipe for session IPA. (There’s no shrimp in the recipe, the name is just “jumbo shrimp” and “session IPA” — two combinations of words that seem nonsensical to some — jumbled together.) This recipe is based on my Roswell IPA, a “regular” American IPA. The way I converted my AmericanIPA recipe to a session IPA recipe should work with any American IPA. My ideas on what a session IPA should be like are spelled out in a previous article, and should explain the decisions I’ve made during recipe formulation. 

To start with, I took my original grain bill and subtracted pale malt until I hit a “sessionable” range, in this case 4.6% ABV. I kept the same amounts of crystal malt (and Vienna malt) as in the original, but double checked that the percentage of crystal was definitely under 7.5%. (It was.) My second, and final step, was to lower the amount of bittering hops to keep the BU:GU ratio (at least roughly) the same. My Roswell IPA had an OG of 1.068 and 67 IBUs, for a BU:GU ratio of 1.01. My new session beer had an OG of 1.044, so I adjusted the IBUs down to 44 for a BU:GU ratio of 1.00. I only changed the amount of the first hop addition. I left the amounts of late addition hops and dry hops the same, as I definitely wanted all the flavor and aroma of hops in my session IPA. That’s it. If you have an IPA you like, performing these two steps should deliver a session IPA that you like. You might have to do some tweaking after you first brew it. Then again, if you liked the original IPA, it might just deliver a dry “sessionized” beer with a big hop character that’s your cup of tea . . . or plate of shrimp.

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Free Yeast (w/ AHA membership)

freeyesatThe American Homebrewers Association is offering a free packet of White Labs yeast for homebrewers who become members of the AHA through this website in October. Click the AHA ad on our site — it’s the yellow one that says, “Join Now” — and enter the promotional code YEAST15 when you sign up for an AHA membership. They will send you a coupon for a free packet of White Labs PurePitch yeast at the end of the month. Your membership includes a subscription to Zymurgy magazine, and all the other benefits the AHA. Navigating to their site via the ad on our page also benefits this website as well. Thank you for your support.

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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