The Sad Path to Happiness

The grist of this batch included around 10 lb. (4.5 kg) of malt and roughy 8 lb. (3.6 kg) of beer bread (bappir) made from crushed malt and honey. 3.0 lb. (1.4 kg) of honey was also added to the boil.

For my Ancient Sumerian Happy Juice brewday, I was all set have a relaxed brew day where I just winged everything. After all, I’ve brewed before. I could deal with things on the fly, right?  And, the beer I was brewing was my interpretation of the English translation of a poem written by ancient Sumerians. So, no living person — including me — would ever know if my recipe and approach was right or wrong. As it turns out, I rediscovered why I normally never wing things on brew day. [Read more…]

Beer is Bread. Bread is Beer.

Cookies! Actually, “logs” of bappir (beer bread).

The first step in making Ancient Sumerian Happy Juice is making the wine. I’ve done that, it’s bubbling away, and it smells like wine. I also added some beer yeast to the mix, just to cover all the bases. The second step in brewing “the juice” is baking the beer bread, called bappir.  [Read more…]

20 Brewing Answers

Here are the answers to the quiz I posted on Tuesday.

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Convert Extract Recipes to Partial Mash

Recipe formulation software can do the math for you.

Partial mashing is a great method of wort production, but not a lot of homebrew recipes exist for partial mashers to choose from. (This website has quite a few, though.) However, if you’d like to convert an existing extract-based recipe to partial mash, you’re in luck. The majority of extract recipes can easily be converted in two steps. If you have an extract recipe that uses mostly unhopped light malt extract (liquid or dried) — or something similar such as pale or Pilsner malt extract — for most of the fermentables, just follow these following steps. [Read more…]

Thoughts on Cleaning and Sanitation (II. Other Variables Including the Pitching Rate)

DSCN0716In the previous installment of this article, I advocated that brewers keep their wort or beer covered whenever it is not in a sealed vessel and to minimize the amount of time that it is exposed to the open air. Both of these things should reduce— although not eliminate — the amount of airborne contamination in your beer. It’s my contention that, even when you normally produce beer that does not taste overtly contaminated, further reducing the level of contaminants further benefits your beer. In this post, I’ll cover a couple of minor details, and one important — but frequently overlooked — aspect of sanitation. [Read more…]

Beer Foam (4: Foam Negative Elements)

DSCN2673Just as there are elements that contribute to the formation and stability of beer foam, there are also elements that accelerate the rate at which foam collapses. Brewers tend to think of these foam negative elements as something to be avoided. If they are in excess, they are — of course — undesirable. However, if beer contained no foam negative elements, foam would continue to form as the beer released carbon dioxide bubbles. And if this foam were not collapsable, it would soon be an impediment to drinking the beer. As such, I would argue that foam negative elements are just as important to foam as foam negative elements, when present in the right quantities. [Read more…]

NHC Round One Judging (2016, Austin)


Judging Pilsners with Corey Martin.

On Friday and Saturday of last week, the Austin NHC site held its first round judging. I, along with many other Austin ZEALOTS and other Austin area homebrewers, descended upon 4th Tap Brewing and judged over 700 beers, finishing the task a day ahead of schedule.

Every year I judge, I try to think of the bigger picture afterwards and see if I can identify any trends or find anything worth writing about from the experience. Then I write about it anyway.

Judging at a large competition, you get to sample a lot of beers. This year, I judged 6 flights over the two days, ranging from 5 to 12 beers in a flight, with 7 or 8 being the median number (IIRC). Plus, there’s always the “holy crap, you have got to try this” moments when another judge finds a particularly spectacular beer and shares it. And of course, there’s the groans when judges encounter a real stinker. So, each judge gets to sample a fair amount of beer and gets some idea of what the other judges are encountering. On the other hand, one judge’s experience can’t be taken as a statistically valid sample, so these are just my observations.  [Read more…]

BrewDog Releases Its Recipes


Not a dog.

The Scottish brewery BrewDog has released a .pdf file containing all of its recipes in 5.0-gallon (19-L) homebrew recipe form. (Scroll down the page to the link in the middle to download the file.)

Many breweries have been helpful to homebrewers over the years, giving out their recipes to brewing magazines, homebrew clubs, and individual brewers. But, I can only think of a couple breweries that self-published their beer recipes as homebrew recipes. Jester King published some of theirs awhile ago and . . . help me out. If you know of a commercial brewery website with homebrew recipes posted on it, drop me a line at chris at beerandwinejournal dot com and send me the link. I’ll compile them and post the list. (Don’t bother with clone recipes posted on other sites for now, just homebrew recipes posted on the brewery’s own website.)

[Update: Stone published its recipe for Stone Pale Ale, when it discontinued that brand. They’ve also published a book with many of their recipes and even gave this website a clone recipe (see below).]

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Hops Lose Alpha Acids In Storage (Part 2 of 3)

Scan 1

Alpha acid loss in two hop varieties over time, estimated from data from Hop Union. (In reality, the rate of loss is likely not linear. See the next article for more details.)

As I detailed in the first half of this article, hop alpha acids levels decline during storage. Proper handling can slow the degradation of the alpha acids, but even properly stored hops gradually lose their bitterness over time. In this post, we’ll examine if the loss if alpha acids is great enough to matter, and how to account for it if you do wish to take it into consideration. [Read more…]

Link Fixed (Your Homebrew Doesn’t Suck Article)

The article I posted earlier today did not have a working link to the article I was criticizing. My apologies for the mistake. The original article has been fixed so that the link works. You can also read the article I was criticizing here.