Tweaking Your Hop Schedule

We’ve all been there. You’re all set to brew your favorite IPA, hoppy porter, or other hoppy beer, but you can’t get your hands on the hop varieties you used last time. Or maybe you just want to change things up and examine your hop schedules to see if you make changes. What do you do? Here are some ideas.

In the case of replacing a hop variety, the easiest thing to do would be to find a hop variety that is similar and use that instead. And of course, numerous websites have lists of hop strains and their possible substitutions. The only problem with that is that every hop variety really does have different characteristics, so a one-for-one hop substitution is always going to make the beer taste different. In a beer that isn’t hop forward, and that contains lots of malt (or other) character, the difference may be small, perhaps not even noticeable. However, in a beer in which the focus is on the hops, you will always be able to tell. [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…]

US Homebrewing is in Decline

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-4-43-36-pm

This is a completely meaningless graph.


A few weeks ago, I attended the Dixie Cup. This is the annual homebrew conference held by the Foam Rangers, one of the clubs in Houston. As always, it was a great time. But, attendance was down. And, the number of entries in the associated homebrew contest was also down. A week or so after that, I went to a movie — the new Rush documentary — with friends, one of whom was in the BJCP and he mentioned that the number of exams he had to grade was down. This gave me the idea to call around to some sources and see if these were just random fluctuations, or if US homebrewing in general was in decline. That would make a good article for Beer and Wine Journal, I thought. As it turns out, Forbes already wrote that article.

[Read more…]

Reddit AMA on Thursday

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-12-50-57-pmI have a Reddit AMA scheduled for 9:00 am Central on Thursday. “AMA” stands for Ask Me Anything and among the things you can ask me are questions about my new book, “Home Brew Recipe Bible” (2016, Page Street), Beer & Wine Journal, anything brewing related, or . . . anything. (I hope that narrows it down.)  [Read more…]

Contest Cream Ales

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-3-49-46-pmOn Tuesday, I judged a flight of beers for the Dixie Cup, the annual competition held by Houston’s Foam Rangers homebrew club. The style of beer was cream ale. Judging cream ale, and tasting several different twists on it, gave me a few insights into brewing the style — especially if you are brewing it to enter into a BJCP homebrew competition. [Read more…]

Of Homebrews and Hurricanes

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-3-02-28-pmHomebrewers on the US’s East Coast know that Hurricane Matthew is projected to skirt the eastern seaboard, dumping lots of rain on coastal cities. Florida is already warning residents to prepare for the possibility of power outages and perhaps the need to evacuate some areas. All residents in the possible track of the storm should be ready to take precautions. Luckily, as a homebrewer, you have a leg up when it comes to storm preparations. [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.

Managing Tannins as a Beer Character (Part II of II)

375px-Tannic_acid.svgAs mentioned in the first part of this article, there are a few beers that might benefit from just a hint of astringency. Usually, the slight puckering sensation will offset or complement another character in the beer. (And, of course, we all know that noticeable astringency in most beers is going to be unwanted.) There are a couple ways you can get just a hint of astringency in your beer, if you want it.

Tannins are water soluble. They are more soluble in high pH solutions than low. And, like most water soluble molecules, they are more soluble in hot water than cold. Let’s first review what happens when you use continuous sparging with 170 °F (77 °C) water. In other words, if you sparge in the normal way meant to minimize tannin extraction. [Read more…]

Managing Tannins as a Beer Character (Part I of II)

375px-Tannic_acid.svg

Tannic acid, the molecule that gives its name to the class of polyphenols called tannins.

Tannins are a class of molecules found in plants. At high doses, tannins are unpalatable to animals (including humans) and are most highly concentrated in the parts of plants that need the most protection. Some types of tannins are found in barley seed, and hence are present in malt. Other tannins are found in hops. A small amount of tannins are extracted in the mash and in the boil. Some react with proteins and drop out of the brewing stream, but some do carry over into finished beer — and brewing scientists have found that a beer completely devoid of tannins does not taste right. However, as all brewers know, an excess of tannins leads to a harsh astringency that is unpleasant. So, most brewers strive to minimize the amount of tannins extracted in their beers. [Read more…]

Fruit Wine, Take Two

IMG_3524

The fruit, in a nylon bag, fermenting in a bucket. Every day, the fruit gets punched down, so all of it contacts the fermenting wine over the course of the fermentation.

OK, since the website name is Beer & Wine Journal, I guess I should occasionally post something about wine. Back in 2013, I made a wine I called Cherry Berry Wine because it was made with . . . well, you guess (or see the recipe). Last week, I was shopping at HEB (my local supermarket) and they had the same mix of fruits for fairly low prices, so I got the ingredients for another batch of fruit wine. [Read more…]