Blackberry “Pilsner”

Blackberries give this “Pilsner” a rosy glow.

This past summer, I asked my wife, Susan, what I should brew next. She suggested a blackberry Pilsner. I had never heard of such a thing, but in the interest of keeping her happy and tolerant of my hobby/occupation, I decided to give it a go.

I put “Pilsner” in quotation marks in the title of this recipe for a couple of reasons. First of all, those who abide by the Reinheitsgebot – the beer purity law – would cringe at the thought of adding fruit to this classic German style. Blackberries definitely fall outside the malt, hops, water and yeast list. Second, Pilsners are traditionally lagered to brew a beer of clean profile with no fruity yeast characteristics. It didn’t make sense to me to go to the trouble of fermenting cold to avoid fruity flavors to then add some fruit afterwards. So, I fermented this beer with lager yeast at ale fermentation temperatures. [Read more…]

Tart Fruity 100% Rye Session Ale

100% Rye and Fruit make for a tasty tart beer.

Along with brewing moderate and higher gravity beers, I’m in search of interesting, drinkable, very low gravity beers to help with cutting calories (and preserving sobriety) while satisfying my beer thirst. Brewing with 100% rye has been one technique I’ve found to give me low alcohol and substantial body. A few months ago, I decided to combine this all-rye approach with wort souring and the addition of fruit.

Process

Let’s begin at the beginning. To six gallons (23 L) of filtered water, I added 5.0 pounds (2.3 kg) crushed malted rye. Using Brew in a Bag, I rested this thin mash at 150˚F (65˚C) for an hour. After removing the grain, I brought the wort up to 180˚F (82˚C) for fifteen minutes to pasteurize. I didn’t want any of the microorganisms on the grain to have any effect on my souring process. [Read more…]

Last Day to Pre-Order Book

DSCN3853Today is the last day to pre-order my new book, Home Brew Recipe Bible.  The pre-order price at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble is roughly 10 bucks off the cover price — just $14.52. Tomorrow, September 20th, the book will be officially released and (I presume) the price will go up. Thanks to everyone who has already pre-ordered. Some details of the book are given here.

Session Rye ESB and Porter

My name is James, my favorite color is green, and my quest is to create tasty, satisfying, low gravity beers using rye as a base ingredient. The latest stops on my quest included the British styles of Extra Special Bitter (ESB) and Porter.

Brew in a Bag is a must for recipes heavy in rye.

Brew in a Bag is a must for recipes heavy in rye.

Let me start with this disclaimer: If you are offended by deviating from traditional style guidelines, read no further. However, if you enjoy hacking recipes and charting undiscovered territory, clop your coconut shells and come along. (No more Monty Python references.  I promise.)

As I have discussed in previous recipes, such as my “Rye Wit” and “100% Rye Pale Ale,” we can take advantage of the gloppiness of rye wort to create tasty low gravity beers that maintain substantial mouthfeel. Too much rye can give you a beer with the consistency of Vick’s Formula 44D, but if you pull back on the reins (notice my restraint in not adding a “Patsy” reference here) and add half as much, you get a more “normal” tasting beer with half the alcohol. [Read more…]

New Zealand Brew Day

IMG_3152

A sack of malts and a brewing machine.

While in New Zealand, I brewed a batch of beer. The conference organizers wanted the speakers to each brew a beer at Marchfest (the yearly Nelson, New Zealand craft beer celebration). The beers will be judged in a contest later. We were each given a Grainfather (a combination mash tun/lauter tun/kettle for all-grain brewing) to use, and someone familiar with the machine to help us. (Thanks for the help, Cameron!) [Read more…]

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…]

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…]

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.

[Read more…]

Hedgerow Tripel

Sherman_Hedge

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

DESCRIPTION

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. 

[Read more…]

Blending Beer for Black IPA

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 3.50.19 PMLast week, I posted an article on making extra dark beers with the intention of blending them into lighter beers for added color and perhaps flavor. This way, you could enjoy both the pale beer and a darkened version of it. In this post, I’ll give a specific example of brewing a dark beer that, when blended into an IPA, makes a black IPA.

The recipes given here are for 5.0 gallons (19 L) of the dark blending beer, but you can scale them to any volume desired. Frequently, you will only need 1 or 2 gallons (4–8 L) of the dark beer per 5.0 gallon (19-L) batch of the lighter beer. To scale these 5.0-gallon (19-L) recipes, multiply all the ingredients by your intended volume of dark beer (in gallons) divided by five (gallons). [Or divide your intended volume of dark beer (in liters) by 19 (L).] [Read more…]