Archives for January 2014

Red Ale (Countertop Partial Mash)


Mmmm . . . amber ale.

Have I ever mentioned how I thought partial mashes are the way to go for stovetop extract brewers? This one has migrated from my brewing notebook to the Easy, Surefire Extract Beers series, and now I’ve reformulated it as a countertop partial mash. Both 2-gallon (~8-L) and 3-gallon (~11 L) mash tun versions are given. This amber ale is full-bodied, with plenty of caramel flavor as well as hop flavor and aroma.


Amber Socks Red Ale

Amber ale

by Chris Colby

Partial mash (countertop); English units



An amber ale with caramel malt flavor and lots of hop flavor and aroma.

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Boost Your Hop Aroma (Part 1 of 3)


Homegrown hops in Bastrop, TX.

Hoppy beers are all the rage these days, and brewers are always looking for ways to get more hop character in their beer. I’d like to discuss maximizing hop aroma, by focusing not only on ways to add hops to beer, but how hop character is removed from beer during the brewing process. I’d also like to propose another method of adding hops to beer. (This isn’t completely new. I’ve mentioned it before, but it isn’t well-known or widely used.)

We all know of a variety of ways to add hops to beer. You can add hops before the boil (first wort hopping). You can add hops during the boil. You can add hops after the boil (in the whirlpool or filter your wort through a hop jack). You can add hops in the fermenter or keg (dry hop). You can push your beer through a Randall. You can even add hops in your mash. But let’s take a look at what happens to the compounds from the hops as the brewing process continues.

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Kräusening (Part 3 of 3)


A pressure valve fitted to a gas in fitting for a Cornelius keg. If I added an overpressure valve to this, it would be a spunding valve. (It’s got a manual pressure release, so I supposed it could be thought of as a manual spunding valve, but man that could be dangerous if you capped the tank too early and forgot about it. Don’t do that.)

This is the third and final part of an article on kräusening

Kräusening is adding fermenting beer to a lager that has just finished primary fermentation. The active yeast in the fermenting wort help clean up diacetyl (and aldehydhes) before the beer is lagered. The yeast also produce carbon dioxide (CO2) and this gives brewers who kräusen an option to carbonate their beer by “capping the tank” — sealing the vessel that has fermenting kräusen beer in it to trap the CO2. Commercial brewers who do this have their tanks fitted with a spunding valve — a valve that holds pressure up to a certain point, and releases excess pressure above this level. If a tank can withstand 20 PSI, the beer can be carbonated to serving levels at lager fermentation temperatures. You can try this at home, if you make your own spunding valve.

[Read more…]

Dry Stout (Countertop Partial Mash)


Mmmm . . . dry stout. Roasty.

This is my dry stout recipe, formulated for a countertop partial mash. (For more on dry stouts, see the series of articles on that beer style) In this formulation, the brewer mashes 4.0 lbs. (1.8 kg) of grain in a 2-gallon (~8-L) beverage cooler. An option to mash 6.0 lbs. (2.7 kg) in a 3-gallon (~11-L) cooler is also given. In the 2-gallon (~8-L) version, 78% of the fermentables come from the mash. In fact, in both version, all of the malt extract is withheld until the end of the boil.

I have been posting a series of recipes formulated as partial mashes because I feel that partial mash homebrews have more base malt aroma than recipes in which only specialty grains are steeped. If you’re an extract beer thinking of trying all-grain brewing, this is a good recipe to try as the wort is close to being made completely from grains (especially if you try the 3-gallon (11-L) cooler option).

A 1-qt. (1-L) yeast starter is recommended for this beer, but if you get a fresh tube of yeast, you can get away without making a yeast starter.


The Cure from Cork

Dry stout

by Chris Colby

Partial mash (countertop); English units



This is a dry stout reminiscent of Murphy’s Pub Draught, now sold in widget cans. Murphy’s stout is slightly mellower — a little less bitter with a hint of chocolate and caramel in the malt — than Guinness, and (in my opinion) also tastes better when carbonated with CO2, as opposed to pushed with beer gas. If you like session ales — and are disappointed you can’t find Murphy’s except in widget cans — this is a great recipe to try.

[Read more…]

Easy Lager Chilling

A pond pump and some ice water can really help speed wort chilling.

A pond pump and some ice water can really help speed wort chilling.

When I noticed the thermometer in my basement read 50˚F (10˚C), one thought popped into my head: Lager Time. Finding (or creating) a space to ferment beers at lager temperatures is a challenge. Bringing wort down to lager pitching temperature quickly and easily can be a bigger challenge. I’ve found a way to deal with that challenge in a fairly inexpensive and low-tech way.

My immersion chiller does a good job of knocking most of the initial heat out of near-boiling wort. But, at a certain time, the temperature reaches a plateau where the chilling slows down. The level of that plateau varies, depending on the season and the temperature of the ground water.

The trick to the method that I use is to circulate ice water through the immersion chiller using a cheap immersible pond pump from the local hardware store. This is even more effective than adding a second pre-chiller that is immersed in ice water, which I have tried as well. [Read more…]

Kräusening (Part 2 of 3)


One batch of kräusen wort could fill all these fermenters to the top.

In the first part of this article, I discussed the rationale behind kräusening — adding small volume of fermenting beer to a lager beer that has just finished fermenting. In this part, I’ll discuss how to do it at home. There are few different ways that a homebrewer can kräusen their beer. Essentially, there are three ways you can come up with the wort you need, and a few ways to be in possession of the required yeast. In the case of the wort, you can either withhold some wort on brewday or make the wort a few days before you plan to kräusen.

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Roswell IPA (Countertop Partial Mash)


Me at the UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico. My wife and I visited it on the way to the NHC in Denver, Colorado a couple years ago. Keep watching the skies! (Just don’t, you know, expect little green men to fly by in a spaceship.)

Here is a countertop partial mash adaptation of my Roswell IPA, a hoppy, American-style IPA. This recipe is formulated for mashing 4.0 lbs. (1.8 kg) of grains in a 2-gallon (~8-L) beverage cooler. There is an option for mashing 6.0 lbs. (2.7 kg) of grain in a 3-gallon (11-L) cooler. Partial mashing gives your beer more base malt aroma compared to an extract-with-steeping-grains formulation.  This particular method of partial mashing allows you achieve a high extract efficiency while being easy to clean up after. In addition, this recipe shows how you can raise the fermentability of extract wort by letting the enzymes from the partial mash wort work on some of the malt extract. 58% of the fermentables in this IPA come from the partial mash.


Roswell IPA

American IPA

by Chris Colby

Partial mash (countertop), English units



A golden-colored IPA with classic floral/citrus American hops and just enough malt to keep it from being unbalanced. This beer finishes moderately dry and exhibits a wonderful hop aroma from lots of late hops and dry hops.

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Beer News (Jan. 11–18)

There are scads of  “best beers in the world” lists out there. You’ve probably seen and disagreed with many. Here’s a top 5 beers in the world list that almost everyone agrees with. Turning to science, archaeologists pillage some Viking graves, then make themselves useful by formulating a reconstruction of ancient Scandinavian grog. (Dogfish Head brews a version of it.) Speaking of things Nordic, remember that whale beer (from last week’s news compilation)? Well, forget it, you can’t drink it.



In Denver, a brewery makes a playoff beer . . . and now you can’t get it. Speaking of not getting it, here’s a story on what Peyton Manning likes to drink


Not Football

If you want something to do besides brewing, you can put your creative impulses to work and make a film for New Belgium. Or, you could take a free Chemistry of Beer course online. (It’s already started, but you’ll catch up.) And finally, Stone’s Greg Koch is taking a sabbatical to go off the communications grid. First step? Alert the media.


And finally, here’s how hipsters order beer:

Kräusening (Part 1 of 3)


Kräusening reduces diacetyl and can help attenuate a beer.

Running a lager fermentation is, in many ways, similar to conducting the fermentation of an ale. The key differences are that you need to pitch more yeast, ferment at a cooler temperature, and cold-condition (lager) the beer after primary fermentation. In addition, sometimes you need to alter the conditions near the end of fermentation to produce a quality beer. Specifically, many lager strains will not adequately clean up the residual diacetyl (and other fermentation byproducts) if they are simply left to finish at their recommended fermentation temperature. For most homebrewers (and many commercial brewers), the solution is to employ a diacetyl rest. Near the end of fermentation, the fermentation temperature is allowed to rise into the low end of the ale fermentation range. The beer is held at that temperature until the diacetyl is gone. Commercial breweries test for this; most homebrewers simply let the beer sit on the yeast for about 3 days, at around 60 °F (16 °C), which is usually long enough.

There is another way to finish off a lager fermentation, however — by kräusening it. In this three-part article, I’ll discuss kräusening and one option that arises when you employ it — the ability to cap the tank and carbonate your beer from CO2 generated in late fermentation.

[Read more…]

10-Gallon (38-L) Stovetop Scottish 70/- Ale

Flock_of_sheepThis is a recipe for making 10 gallons (38 L) of Scottish ale from 3 gallons (11 L) of wort boiled on your stovetop. I have not tried this . . . yet. But I think the idea is interesting (and sound), so I’m publishing it for brewers willing to take a bit of risk. (I think the worst that could happen is that it turns out a little darker and little less bitter than planned.) Sometime this year, I’ll give it whirl and post the results here.

I chose Scottish 70/- ale because it fits the criteria for a beer made from a highly diluted wort — it’s low in gravity, low in bitterness and amber in color. In addition, some brewers of this style intentionally darken some of their wort with a hard boil. So, if this happens due to the high wort density, it won’t ruin the beer. This is formulated as a countertop partial mash, based on doubling the ingredients from my 5-gallon (19-L) extract recipe of the same beer. I did make a couple changes to the recipe. The biggest change was substituting some relatively high-alpha Challenger hops for some of the Goldings hops in the recipe, to cut down on the amount of hop debris at the bottom of the brewpot. I also dialed down the amount of Munich malt a bit.


Pharming Polly Scottish Ale

Scottish 70/- ale

by Chris Colby

Partial mash (countertop); English units



A Scottish 70/- (seventy shilling) ale, also called a Scottish heavy ale, is — despite the “heavy” moniker — a session beer. It is heavy compared to a Scottish 60/- ale, which is a similar beer, only lower in gravity. (A Scottish wee heavy is a different style of beer altogether.) This amber beer is balanced towards the malt, but only slightly so. The clean ale strains will yield a beer that emphasizes the malt (including amber malt) and hops over yeast byproducts. It is a great beer to have if you want to have another — exactly like the one before — when you’re done.

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