Measurements to Record: II

This is the second part of a two-part series on measurements to record on brew day


photoOne piece of equipment that almost every homebrewer has is a hydrometer. In addition, many have a pH meter (or at least pH papers). Both of these tools can give you valuable information on brewday.

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Imperial Tripel (Recipe Stage)


What this tripel might look like, if all goes well.

This is a beer I plan to brew for the first time in 2014. I plan to brew it, taste the beer, tweak it and rebrew — and of course document this process on Beer and Wine Journal. The idea behind this beer is to take a Belgian-style Tripel, and crank it up a notch or two. I want to brew a pale beer, with a final gravity low enough not to be too sweet or be overly full-bodied. I plan to use reiterated mashing to generate the wort, because this will minimize the color. I also plan to hop it at a higher rate than a tripel, to compensate for the added strength. I’ll brew the beer in a couple weeks, but for now, here’s the recipe.

By the way, the name is just a Star Wars reference. (They can’t all be winners.)


Palpatine’s Tripel

(imperial tripel)

by Chris Colby



A higher-gravity version of a Belgian tripel or Belgian golden ale, with added hop flavor and aroma. This beer is designed to be as light in color as possible (around 6 SRM), while still being 13% ABV. As with regular tripels, the beer has a low final gravity, given its alcoholic strength.

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Five Steps Towards Being a Better Brewer


. . . being the fifth number.

One of the things that makes homebrewing great is the learning curve. Starting with simple malt extract beers, you can brew decent (even good) beer by simply following a set of instructions. However, for those willing to put in the effort, there are always ways to improve. If you want to become the best brewer possible, follow these five tips.

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Five Tips for Session Beer Brewers

gold-number-5It’s always great to have a real session beer in your lineup of taps. I’m a big fan of dry stouts, which I recently wrote a series on, and British-style bitters. Both are wonderful, flavorful beers and there are times when a lower alcohol (and lower Calorie) beer is just the thing. Brewing session beers at home is straightforward. However — as with any kind of beer — there are special considerations that help make the beer its best. Here are five tips for brewing session beers.

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IPA Experiment



The chloride-to-sulfate ratio in your brewing liquor influences the perception of your beer. Adding chloride to your water, usually in the form of calcium chloride, makes your beer more “rounded” and accentuates the malt. Adding sulfate, usually in the form of calcium sulfate (from gypsum), accentuates the hop bitterness. We’ve designed an experiment to test if this is true, if you can adjust this ratio in finished beer and which ratio works best in an IPA (or other hoppy ale). The last one is the biggie, here. The first idea is well-accepted and there’s anecdotal evidence that the second is true.

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Mjollnir Recipe


This is an example of a beer brewed using the reiterated mash technique. This recipes makes for a long brewday, and there is a compromise between getting the best extract efficiency from each mash, which is important to reaching a high original gravity, and the amount of time spent. In addition, this is a challenging fermentation for the yeast. Do not skip making the yeast starter and do not forget to add yeast nutrients.


Mjollnir (Reiterated Mash)

English units



A very strong beer that is light in color. If everything goes right, you will make a very fermentable wort on brewday and achieve a high degree of attenuation in the fermentation. This will make a beer that is full-bodied (but not overly chewy or sweet), well-balanced and very drinkable considering its strength.

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Dive Into Mead Making


Honey is the basis of mead. But honey alone can be difficult to ferment. Making a fruit mead (or melomel) is a great way to get started with meadmaking.

Here is a mead recipe for first time meadmakers who would like to try something with a high probability of success. One problem with making mead from honey alone is that there may not be enough potassium in the honey to sustain a healthy fermentation. Additionally the pH of an all-honey mead must may initially be too low. This recipe combines honey with cherries, a fruit with relatively high potassium levels, and whose juice is in a suitable pH range. (The pH of sweet cherry juice ranges from 3.8–4.5). It also contains a small amount of grape juice, which also has fairly high potassium levels and whose juice pH will work well in a wine-like fermentation. (Most wine is made from grapes.) Even if the pH of the honey is low, the fruit juices are more highly-buffered, so it will not be a problem.

One thing that might make beer brewers nervous is the lack of sanitation. The mead must is not boiled, nor are Campden tablets used to inhibit microorganisms, as in winemaking. The “dump and stir” method, advocated by Ken Schramm and employed here, works if you keep everything that goes into your must or contacts the fruit as clean as possible.

This recipe uses staggered nutrient additions to speed the fermentation along. Mead does not require fermentations that span for 6 or more months, as was the norm in “old school” meadmaking. If the yeast are fed nutrients as they need them, and in the right quantities, a mead fermentation can proceed nearly as quickly as a beer fermentation and aging may take only several weeks.

Although this is a “beginner’s” recipe, the quality is not substandard. If you use fresh, flavorful cherries and quality honey, following the instructions here will produce a wonderful mead.

Meads made with fruit are called melomels, so you can call this either a cherry mead or a cherry melomel. (Meads made from only honey and grapes are sometimes called pyments.) This produces a mead of 12% ABV. It’s strong, but not so strong that it will tax the wine yeast and lead to a prolonged fermentation. If you’re interested in mead and have been looking for a place to start, consider this recipe.

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Stone Double Dry Hopped Ruination Clone


Stone Ruination IPA, a classic double IPA. Stone Brewing Co. also released some double dry hopped versions of this beer.

Do you like hoppy beers? Well then here’s one for you — Stone’s Ruination IPA (a double IPA) with a double dry hop option. A lot of hops go into this beer, so you’ll want to think about how to separate the wort from the hop debris — whether by giving the chilled wort time to settle, bagging the hops, using a hop screen in the kettle or a hop jack before the chiller. Secondly, try to expose the beer to as little oxygen as possible when dry hopping to retain the freshest hop aroma. This recipe is presented in both all-grain and extract (partial mash) versions, in both English and metric units.


Stone Double Dry Hopped Ruination IPA Clone

(Double IPA)

All-grain version, English units

recipe from Mitch Steele, Brewmaster, Stone Brewing Co.



Described by Stone as, “A liquid poem to the glory of the hop,” Ruination is big, hoppy double IPA with a huge hop aroma. Stone has also released Ruination in a few Double Dry Hopped versions.

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Simple 3-Gallon All-Grain Brewing


Here’s all you need to make 3 gallons (11 L) of all-grain wort — a 3-gallon (11-L) beverage cooler with a large steeping bag, a measuring cup and a 5-gallon (19-L) brewpot.

It was 103 °F (39 °C) yesterday, but I went ahead and brewed anyway. Did I sweat my way through a brewday on my porch, with my brewing rig, making 10 gallons (38 L) of wort while swatting mosquitoes and fighting to stay hydrated? No, I brewed inside, in air-conditioned comfort, watching Shark Week during my breaks. I did it by making 3-gallons (11 L) of all-grain beer using a 3.0-gallon (11-L) beverage cooler as a lauter tun and my normal extract brewing stuff. Here’s what I did.

Last week, I decided to brew my porter. However, I knew it was going to be hot out, and at first I thought I’d make a 5.0-gallon (19-L), partial mash batch in my kitchen. I had a 2.0-gallon (~8-L) beverage cooler that held 4.0 lbs. (1.8 kg) of grain and have made many 5-gallon (19-L) stovetop partial mash batches using it as a mash/lauter tun. Then, when looking around at what equipment I had — especially my 3-gallon beverage cooler (I like cold beverages, sue me) — I figured out an easy way to make an all-grain, 3-gallon (11-L) batch.

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American Hoppy Ales: Hop Amounts

This is the eighth installment in our series on American pale ales, American IPAs and double IPAs. The series began on July 28.



. . . and when all else fails, add more hops.

Once you know the best hop varieties to use in an American hoppy ale, and the ways they can be added during the boil and beyond, all that is left is to figure out how much to add. As we’ve seen, there are many ways to get hops into your beer, and I can’t cover every possible permutation. What I’ll do is give recommendations for beers based on the common homebrew three-addition hop schedule, with a bittering addition early in the boil, a flavor addition with approximately 15 minutes left in the boil and an aroma addition at the very end of the boil. Given the topic, I’ll also discuss dry-hopping.

Using these recommendations, you can construct a recipe that’s “to style” for any of these beers, and use this as a starting point to tweaking and refining your own favorite recipe. Although the following “rules of thumb” work well, I’m not suggesting that other approaches won’t work.

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