Homebrew Recipe Calculator, Blog, How To, & Recipes

Nov
18
2014

How To Brew All Grain - Session IPA

So i thought I would take a video of the brewing process I use. This is a session IPA I brewed using a batch sparge all grain method. You can find the recipe at http://brewgr.com/recipe/6266/session-ipa-from-tony-american-ipa-recipe. Due to the double sparge and mash thickness my efficency was much more than I expected. I am usually around 70% but this time I was 91%. I overshot my gravity so I guess this is now more of a pale ale than a session IPA. Anyway, I kegged it last Saturday and it tastes great, so far so good!

Apr
12
2013

How to Drink Beer Through a Straw

What the..... why? Let me first explain.

Once a month my wife and I go to the theater. The deal is that I get to pick the brewery for the pre meal and she picks the play. The last few plays we have seen have been at Lamb’s Players Theater in Coronado, CA. Our pre meal is usually the Coronado Brewery or Leroy’s which has an abundant craft beer selection. One month we were running late and had to grab dinner at a place that only served tasteless beer. We entered the theater with my bad attitude and craving for malt and hop flavor. As we were waiting in line I noticed people taking coffee beverages past the ushers into the theater. My wife and I walked over to the cafe to order some coffee and sitting in the fridge were cold-lined-up bottles of Ballast Point. As my wife ordered her double-caf-latte-no-whip-cap-mocha-supremo I asked if we could also take beer into the theater. The barista told me, “yes, as long as you put it in a cup with lid and straw. Would you like one?” As Hallelujah's were screaming through my head I calmly grinned and said “yes please.”

The first thing I noticed was how little I could taste when drinking through a straw. The last time I drank beer through a straw was in college, the straw was much larger and had a funnel attached to the other end. I am very picky about only drinking beer poured into a glass, letting it warm a bit, and swirling it to release those great aromas. So if circumstances ever require you to drink beer through a straw here is what you need to do. Sip the beer and resist swallowing immediately. You will want to let the beer sit in your mouth and cover your palate. Now open your mouth and breath in and out. This will allow you to smell the beer. Note the mouthfeel, the flavor, and the finish. It also helps to let the beer warm a bit, cold beer can mask flavors.

As I sat there sipping, breathing in and out with my mouth open, trying not to let beer dribble down my chin I saw one of the best plays I have ever seen. Was it because I had a beer in my hand or the great job by Lamb’s Players staff, hmmm? If you are in San Diego and would like to try something new while drinking a craft beer I highly recommend Lamb's Players Theater. Their current show Damien is simply amazing.

Feb
15
2013

Brew Tip - Careful Where You Set Your Carboy

Homebrew Carboys are glass containers that homebrewers use for fermenting beer. Carboys come in a range of sizes, from one gallon to six gallons. Glass carboys do not allow oxygen to pass through. With careful care, carboys will be reusable for many brews.

Be very careful not to set your filled carboy on a surface that is not clean and smooth, like concrete. You don't want to create pressure points that could crack the glass. Always set your carboy on a piece of wood, cardboard, towel, or rug.

Feb
8
2013

Brew Tip - Measure Stick

Need an easy way to know the amount of fluid in your homebrew vessels? Follow these simple instructions on building a homemade measure stick. Find a long wooden dowel that is taller than your vessel. Find a container to accurately measure 1 or ½ gallons, depending on how precise you want your measurements. Pour in one gallon of water and stick the dowel in the center of the vessel. Pull it out and you will easily be able to cut a notch where the water level leaves a mark.

A couple of tips:

  • If the base of your vessel isn’t flat be sure to stick it in the center.
  • If you have multiple vessels that are different shapes, use one side of the dowel for one vessel and the other side for the other.
  • I do not recommend using a wood dowel in your wort after boiling. Wood can be difficult to sanitize.
  • Screw a cup hook into the end of the dowel so you can hang it with your other homebrew equipment.
Feb
3
2013

Throw Away Your Paper Brew Journal - Use Brewgr Brew Sessions

One of the the features of Brewgr's homebrew software that homebrewers often overlook is the Brew Session.  When we were designing the Brewgr homebrew software, we thought long and hard about the differences between a homebrew recipe and a brew session.  Several other homebrew software tools we had tried at that point included the brew session as part of the recipe.  

We didn't particularly like that approach because it meant that things such as the sparge method for an all grain recipe were part of the recipe itself, even though sparging doesn't play a key role in the flavor of the homebrew.  In the end we decided that in order to give homebrewers the best control over their homebrew recipes and to allow homebrewers to brew recipes made by others, we should separate the recipe and the brew session.

What is a Brew Session?

In Brewgr, a brew session consists of water infusion and equipment profile, mash and boil, fermentation, conditioning, and tasting Notes.  Because brew sessions and recipes are separate in Brewgr, you can log as many brew sessions as you like for a recipe.  If you have that favorite winter spice ale homebrew recipe that you brew every year, you don't have to keep cloning last year's recipe to track the results of this year's brew.  You simply need to create a new brew session for the same recipe.

How Do I Create A Brew Session?

To create a brew session, you must have already created a homebrew recipe.

Brew sessions can be created either from the"My Recipes" page by clicking on "Brew This" or from the Recipe main page by clicking on "Brew This Recipe".  Clicking either of these buttons will take you to the new brew session page. 

Getting Started

When you create a new brew session, the first thing you must enter is the date that you brewed the beer, and the postal code of the location where you brewed the beer.  We ask you for the postal code to be able to track what types of beers are brewed in different parts of the world.  Your privacy is important to us.  Your postal code will never be displayed anywhere on the site.

Water Infusion

If your recipe is an All Grain recipe, you will be able to setup the water infusion and equipment profile for your brew session.

 

The equipment settings are set to defaults, which you can change.  Simply enter your brew day specific data such as grain pounds, grain temperature, boil time, etc., and the Calculated Totals section will update showing you the water volumes and temperatures needed for brew day.

Mash and Boil

Depending on whether your homebrew recipe is an all grain recipe will determine whether or not you see the mash schedule.  The boil section will show for all recipes.

If your homebrew recipe is an all grain recipe you can include the times and temperatures for the mash steps that were part of your brew day.  You may also wish to log the pre-boil gravity to help you measure mash/lauter efficiency.  Post-Boil gravity is the same thing as Original Gravity.   You can also record your cooling method and any notes that are specific to the mash and boil portion of brew day. 

Fermentation

The fermentation portion of a brew session is the same for both all grain and extract recipes.

You can log pitching temperature, details about your yeast starter (if you used one), the date you racked to a secondary fermenter (if you did), average fermentation temperature and the final gravity of the beer once fermentation has finished.  As with the previous step of the brew session, you can record notes. Include any notes that were specific to the fermentation stage.   

Conditioning

The conditioning portion of a brew session is the same for both all grain and extract recipes.

You can log the date you bottled or kegged, how long you conditioned the beer for, and any conditioning specific notes that are worth saving.

Tasting Notes

Finally, the best part about homebrewing, tasting the homebrew that you worked so hard to make.

The great thing about Brewgr's brew session tasting notes section is that you can add tasting notes as often as you like and see how different flavors and aromas emerge as the beer matures.

Summary

Brewgr's brew sessions are a great way to track the specific steps, measurements, results and notes for brew day, bottle/keg day and tastings.  You can create many brew sessions for a single recipe to track homebrew recipes that you brew more than once.  Best of all, Brewgr's brew sessions replace the need for a paper brew journal.  You can easily create brew sessions for beers that you brewed in the past to,so that your Brewgr brew sessions become the only brew journal that you need.

Happy Brewing!

Feb
2
2013

HopShot - Homebrew Ingredient

One of the great things about building homebrew recipes usng Brewgr's homebrew recipe calculator is that you can enter your own custom ingredients.  This is especially useful when you are building a recipe and the ingredient database doesn't yet have the homebrew ingredient you plan to use.

You can add custom ingredients by selecting "Add Custom Ingredient" from any of the ingredient drop down menus.  Once you've done this, you'll need to fill in the details about the ingredient, such as Ppg (pounds per gallon) for Fermentables, or AA (alpha acid percentage) for Hops, etc.  This information can usually be found at the ingredient manufacturer's website.

Another great aspect of the custom ingredient feature is that you can learn about new homebrew ingredients by looking at other homebrew recipes.  Recently while looking through some homebrew recipes on Brewgr, I came across a few recipes that use an ingredient called HopShot.  I hadn't heard of that before, so I did some research to find out more about it.

What is HopShot?

 

You might think that a HopShot is someone who is really good at homebrewing, but it's actually a homebrew ingredient.

HopShot is a syringe of extracted hop resin that is used to add bittering, flavor, or aroma properties to a boiling wort.  You can add the HopShot resin at any point during the boil to achieve the desired results, and the manufacturer suggests that you can use HopShot resin in place of regular pellet or leaf hops.  

I've seen several homebrew recipes that use Hopshot continuously throughout a 60 minute boil to make a very pronounced IPA.  Some homebrewers noted how easy it was to use and how it gave them the bittering properties they wanted for their homebrew recipe without any hop residue.  The only real downside seems to be the lack of HopShot available for a specific hop variety. 

What do you think?  Have you used HopShot before?  Would you try it?  Let us know!  

Jan
31
2013

Brew Tip - Fermentation Temperature Control

Controlling the fermentation temperature of your fermenting wort can have a huge impact on your finished brew. If your wort gets warmer than the ideal temperature range for your yeast you may experience too much fruity esters or harsh fusel alcohols. If your wort gets too cool the yeast may not properly attenuate. I believe this to be one of the most important things you can do to improve your homebrew. Here are a few tips:

Cooling your fermenting homebrew:

  • Place a damp towel or t-shirt over your carboy and the evaporation will cool it
  • Allow a fan or air conditioner to blow on your carboy
  • Place your carboy in cold water or ice
  • If you have a cool basement stick your carboy there
  • Build a cooling chamber that uses ice and a computer fan
  • Store your fermenter in a chest freezer with a temperature control
  • Brew cooler fermenting beers in the winter, i.e. lagers

Warming your fermenting homebrew:

  • Wrap your carboy with towels or blankets
  • Place it near a heating pad or space heater
  • Keep in a warm place, maybe an upstairs closet or attic
  • Use a fermentation wrap or belt with a temperature sensor
  • Brew warmer fermenting beers in the summer, i.e. saisons
Jan
14
2013

Brew Tip - Preheat Wort Chiller

When sticking your immersion wort chiller into your brew pot does it kill your boil? Try preheating your wort chiller by setting it above your brew pot for about five minutes. The steam coming off the boil will warm up the coils. I will also crank the heat all the way up right before I put in the chiller. No more dead boils. Happy brewing!

Nov
28
2012

DIY Homebrew Labels

I recently brewed a homebrew for a wedding. I wanted to give the bottles a little extra flair so I decided to add labels to the homebrew bottles. I was surprised at how easy this was. The hardest thing was deciding what to put on the label.

Once I received the invitation I thought that would look perfect on the homebrew bottle. The bride and groom worked so hard on them I knew they would be happy with it, how can they argue with their own design. I scanned the invitation, opened in Photoshop, and added a few stats about the homebrew. Here was the image I used for the label:

Once I completed the design I found these Avery labels at Office Depot. They are removable, and water resistant. They are 3 1/2" x 4 3/4" which was a perfect size for my 22 ounce homebrew bottles.

I printed the labels on a laser printer and then applied to clean dry homebrew bottles. The finished product turned out great. I had the beer sitting in a cooler of ice and water for about 3 days and the homebrew labels held up great.

Oct
25
2012

Brewing with Unmalted Wheat

I received some White Sonoran organic heritage wheat from Hayden Flour Mills the other day. I decided to brew up a wheat beer using this full flavored, nutrient rich, unmalted wheat. I had never brewed with unmalted wheat so I quite a bit of research was in order. I found about 50% of homebrewers will do a protein rest and 50% do a single infusion. Since I like to keep it simple I decided to do a single infusion mash @ 152 degrees. Many brewers also recommended a cereal mash but I decided to just add it to the mash.

My grain was about 56% two row, 37% unmalted wheat, and 4% flaked oats. I used Magnum for the bittering hops, and Centennial for the flavor and aroma hops. For yeast I went with WLP029 Kölsch Yeast. I wanted some fruity esters but not the banana phenols from a hefeweizen. When creating the recipe in Brewgr I set the efficiency at 60% and didn’t really know what to set the PPG at for the unmalted wheat. You can view my recipe here, Unmalted Wheat Recipe.

My first obstacle was grinding the wheat. I tried a blender but it didn’t get it fine enough. I tried to beat it with a rolling pin but that just ripped up the bag.

A coffee grinder seemed to be the best option. Although it did overheat at one point. I had to let it sit for a while and then I did about a cup every 15 minutes.

I was going for a consistency of something like cornmeal. I knew this might cause issues with a stuck mash so I added rice hulls.

Here are the grains that went into this brew. Two-row (before it was ground), Flaked oats, Rice hulls to help prevent a stuck mash, and the unmalted wheat.

I mashed at 152 degrees for 60 minutes.

Collecting first runnings into my brew kettle.

Measuring ingredients for boil; hops, irish moss, and a yeast nutrient.

This is my recirculating wort chiller I made from an old pond pump. This was a warm day so I went through quite a bit of ice. I fill one load in the washing machine and then start circulating. I use the left over water in teh cooler for clean up.

I collected about 6 gallons since I wasn’t going to keg this brew. The original gravity was 1.048. I fermented this unmalted wheat beer at 66 degrees for 20 days.

The brew finished very clear and around a 1.013 final gravity.

Primed and bottled. I am taking this to a wedding so I decided to bottle instead of keg. It tasted great without the carbonation so I am eager to taste it with some bubbles. The wheat flavor was amazing and I am sure the Hayden Flour Mill wheat made a big difference.

If you try brewing with unmalted wheat make sure you are careful you don’t get a stuck mash, expect lower than normal efficiencies, and find some real wheat like the stuff from Hayden Flour Mills. Other than that, the process wasn't much different than other beers I have brewed. If you brew an unmalted wheat beer be sure to share your recipe on Brewgr.com. Start crafting great beer!

Thanks to Hayden Flour Mills for the amazing wheat and thanks to my little helper.