Supercell Stout (Surefire Extract Recipe)


OK, I didn’t have an American stout handy, so I used an old Irish dry stout picture instead. Interestingly, the foam on an American stout will be much darker as American stouts get their roast character from black malt. This colors the foam, unlike the roasted (unmalted) barley that is the dark grain in an Irish dry stout.

This is the third beer in the second series of Surefire Extract Beers. The first series presented five homebrew recipes that played to the strengths of malt extract and stovetop brewing methods. The second series continues this idea, and started with an English best bitter.

This beer is somewhat stronger than the other beers in this series, relying on the higher number of cells in a packet of dried yeast. It is an intensely roasty, aggressively hoppy stout, in some ways reminiscent of Sierra Nevada’s Stout and other similar American style stouts. I paired two distinctive American bittering hops — Chinook and Columbus — with Cascade for flavor and aroma.

With summer on its way, I named the stout after the large weather systems that tear through the American Midwest every year. As a kid, I used to love watching the lightning from a big thunderstorm. As an adult, I still love it . . . the only thing that’s changed is that now I have a beer in my hand while I watch.


Supercell Stout

American Stout

by Chris Colby

Extract; English units



A dark, roasty, and fairly strong American-style stout, with lots of hops.

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Twisted Spire Alt (Surefire Extract Recipe)


A copper-colored, moderate-bodied, bitter, malty ale.

This is the second beer in the second series of Surefire Extract Beers. The first series presented five homebrew recipes that played to the strengths of malt extract and stovetop brewing methods. The second series continues this idea, and started with an English best bitter.

Altbiers are brown ales (and sometimes lagers), often with a fair amount of bitterness. Outside of Düsseldorf, Germany, most have a hint of sweetness and a moderate level of bitterness. Düsseldorf altbiers tend to be a bit drier and more bitter. Twisted Spire Alt is an altbier made in the Düsseldorf style — plenty of hop bitterness, backed up by Munich malt. (This recipe uses both light and dark Munich malt, and a tiny amount of aromatic or melanoidin malt.)

The key to brewing this beer well is to ferment on the cool side of the ale fermentation range (65 °F/18 °C), and cold-condition the beer for a few weeks before serving. If you want your alt to be as traditional as possible, use Spalt hops instead of the Tettnanger hops specified in the recipe. (However, if you’ve never tasted Spalt hops before, be aware that they have a unique flavor that’s not to everyone’s liking.) Likewise, if you want to stick closer to tradition, cut the amounts of late hops and dry hops in half and lower the carbonation a bit.

The name Twisted Spire refers to the spire on the St. Lambertus church in Düsseldorf, which is twisted. Legend has it that, around the time the spire was finished, a virgin was married in the church. As she was leaving the wedding ceremony, the spire turned around to get a better view of her, since that sort of thing didn’t happen often. When another virgin gets married there, the spire will untwist itself. Locals have been waiting for this to happen since 1384. (Interestingly, many of the twisted spires in Europe have similar legends attached to them.) In the case of St. Lambertus, the truth is a bit more prosaic — architects think the carpenters used untreated wood to build the spire and it twisted when the wood absorbed moisture.)

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Hero Barleywine (Extract Version)

HeroXHere’s the extract version of Hero Barleywine, an American-style barleywine that is similar to Bigfoot. In order to brew the extract version successfully, you will need to do a few things. Firstly, and most importantly, you will need to make the yeast starter described in the recipe. Either that or use two 11-g sachets of dried yeast or three packs or tubes of liquid yeast. (You can get away with making a starter half this size, if necessary, but your fermentation will take longer to start.) Secondly, you need to be able to boil 3.5 gallons (13 L) of wort. So, you’ll need a 5-gallon (~20-L) brewpot and a good stove. If your stove’s output isn’t quite up to the task, you can use an immersion travel heater (the kind that lets you boil water to make tea in your hotel room) to help out. Plug it into a GFCI outlet. (If necessary, you can get away with boiling only 3 gallons (11 L), but your wort may end up a shade darker than it should be and the beer may not be as bitter.) Thirdly, for best results, you need to follow the directions here as closely as you can, given your equipment. Don’t just look at the ingredients and use your regular extract brewing techniques. There are a couple “odd” steps here, but they serve a purpose. And finally, use fresh liquid malt extract. This recipe was formulated based on the specs for Briess CBW Golden Light liquid malt extract (79% solids, 75% fermentability), but any light, reasonably fermentable made from US pale malts should work. Pilsner malt extract would also work. The most important thing that it be fresh. You can also use 8.25 lbs. (3.7 kg) of light dried malt extract, if fresh liquid malt extract is not available.

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