Beer Foam (Part 2: Collapse)

DSCN2679Foam forms in a carbonated beverage when bubbles rising through the liquid begin stacking up on the surface. After awhile, however, the foam will begin to recede. There are three main processes involved in foam collapse.

[Read more…]

Getting Your Beer Critiqued

DSCN0144

The best damn beer in the world — mine. (Not everyone agrees.)

You like your beer. Your friends like your beer. But, is it really any good . . . and how would you find out if you wanted to? For many beginning to intermediate homebrewers, the path to better homebrew is unclear because they have no way to assess their beer as it is currently brewed. Here is a quick guide to getting that done.

There are lots of places you can get feedback on your homebrew, and they vary greatly in how helpful they are. If you are a brewer who wishes to become serious about his or her craft, being able to judge your beer is an important part of the cycle of improvement. You can’t fix problems you don’t know about.

[Read more…]

10 Steps to Better Beer (Part 2)

gold-number-5

The final 5.

Here is the second half of my list of the top 10 steps towards brewing better beer. My hope is that new brewers can benefit from this by knowing where their efforts are best expended. Although I’ve ranked the items, and produced an argument for that ranking, none of these can be ignored. They are the top 10, after all. Even if the list extended to the top 100, everything on the list would have some degree of importance.

I’ve ranked the items on the list based on the degree that failing at a given step would have negative consequences that would overshadow any other things you did right. This ranking is an opinion, but I hope an informed opinion.

[Read more…]

Top 10 Steps Towards Brewing Better Beer

gold-number-5

The first five of which I’ll post today.

When I started brewing, information of how to make the best quality beers was just starting to emerge. These days, there is an abundance of information on homebrewing, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Sorting important information from minutiae or the latest fad can be hard. As such, I’m going to present what I think are the top 10 most important aspects in brewing. This top ten list is presented as both an informed opinion on what the most important aspects of brewing are, and an argument for their ranking.

The list will cover things that are important to brewing quality beer. I’ll ignore economics, among other things, and just focus on what is most important to making outstanding beer. I will assume that the brewer can already manage to produce a drinkable beer. Incredible foul-ups or intentionally ruining items farther down the list could ruin a beer, and argue for a different ranking of items, but I’m trying to help brewers who are actually attempting to brew good beer and can reasonably hit the temperatures, volumes, and durations required on an average brewday.

I’ll start this list at the top, rather than doing the usual countdown, because I want this list to be an argument. (And by argument I mean a set of statements meant to support a central thesis, not a shouting match.) And, it is easier to understand my logic if start at the top. 

[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…]

What’s New?

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 5.45.52 PMSo you started brewing awhile ago, and you’ve gotten pretty good at it. You’ve brewed some ales, and some more ales. You’ve added more hops, and even more hops, to some of your beers and they were great. But maybe you’ve been noticing a certain sameness creeping into your brewdays and want to try something new — but what is there?

For intermediate brewers, there are a ton of “new” things you can try. Few of these are new to brewing as a whole, but most are underappreciated in the homebrewing community and mostly attempted only by advanced homebrewers. If you’re looking to try something new to you, consider the following options. [Read more…]

Brew Safely, Everyone

Clostridium_botulinum_01Recently, a group of people went to a church potluck dinner in Ohio. Of the 77 people who dined, one died, 11 had to be put on a ventilator to breathe, and another 17 fell ill. What happened? Well, the normal food safety rules that apply to restaurants and other places that serve food to the public don’t apply to church functions. As such, one of the cooks used the boiling water method to can (preserve) some potatoes. (Potatoes, a low-acid food,  should be canned using a pressure cooker.) Those potatoes then got used to make potato salad for the gathering.  Unfortunately, the potatoes were tainted with spores of the soil bacterium Clostridium botulinum and the pot luck attendees were poisoned by the botulinum toxin.

Why am I bringing this up? Because — as I’ve written about earlier — some homebrewers do something similar when storing their wort. Homebrewers who use the boiling water bath method of canning yeast starter wort, or use the no-chill method of cooling and then store the wort for extended periods of time, are running a similar risk of botulism.

I’m not going to rehash everything from the first two articles I’ve posted on this topic. I’m just adding the information above as further evidence that botulism is real and it can be lethal.

[Read more…]

Extra Dark Blending Beers

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 6.59.33 PMOne of the great things about homebrewing is the ability to have a variety of beers on tap at once. If you enjoy having more types of beer at your disposal, one option is to make beers that are meant to be blended. In the best cases, you can have two beers that taste great on their own, and additionally make a tasty blend.

Another alternative is to brew a beer you like, then brew another beer that darkens it. There are a variety of beers that are basically darkened versions of an existing beer style. For example, schwarzbier is basically a darkened Pilsner, dunkelweizen is a darkened hefeweizen, and black IPA is a darkened IPA. If you can brew a very dark beer, you can use it to blend into lighter beers to make the darker variation. [Read more…]

IPAs Are Not Giving You Man Boobs

Lupulin - yellow gold

Lupulin – yellow gold

There’s no evidence that IPAs are giving you man boobs. A provocatively titled article claiming the exact opposite made the rounds on social media a few days ago, but there is no evidence to back up this claim. Here are the facts. [Read more…]

It’s Time To Stop Using The Term “Craft Beer” (Part III of III)

tombstone1In the first two parts of this article, I argued that the term “craft beer” no longer had a worthwhile definition for most homebrewers and beer lovers. There was a time when the beer we liked was produced by breweries that were small, independent, and traditional. They were also frequently local. But all that has changed. So what can an average homebrewer do? [Read more…]