Homebrew Recipe Calculator, Blog, How To, & Recipes

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
3
2012

Home Brew Bottle Sanitization

One of the least glamours jobs in home brewing is bottle sanitizing. Cleaning old beer bottles is not only time consuming but extremely boring. There is no smell of malted barley, no fresh hops, no taste tests, just scrubbing beer bottles and waiting. Hopefully these pointers will make the process of sanitizing bottles a little less painful for the home brewer.

First you need beer bottles. You can buy new bottles from your local home brew shop. The nice thing about this is they are clean, don’t have labels, and are all the same shape and size. You can buy beer bottles full of beer. The plus here is they come with free beer, you can’t beat that. You don’t need to remove the labels but I definitely prefer to remove them. Another great way to store your completed home brew is in a keg system but we will save that for another discussion.

If you don’t have labels on your home brew beer bottles or just don’t care you can skip this paragraph. To remove the labels you will need to soak the bottles. I have heard that OxiClean works very well, not just for bottles but many other home brew tasks, i.e. carboys, kegs, kettles, hoses, siphons, etc.. I have only used bleach. Fill your bathtub, plastic tote, or bucket with the cleaner of your choice and put in the bottles. I use a tote outside and fill each bottle with the hose, then when the water lever starts to rise the bottles don’t float, requiring me to submerge the bottle until the air is released. The longer the bottles soak the easier it will be to remove the labels. Some labels will literally just fall off, others will need a little more work. I peel or scrape the label off as soon as I can so the sticky-glue-white-junk can soak as long as possible. I first use a small piece of plastic to scrape the label off and then use a scouring pad to finish the cleanup.

Once the labels are removed you should rinse the bottles with clean water. Much of the glue and label gunk is floating in the water and can remain stuck to your bottles. You also want to make sure to rinse off the OxiClean or bleach. You can do this in another bucket of water, under the faucet, or with a faucet jet bottle washer.

After the labels are removed and rinsed you need to sanitize your home brew bottles. There are numerous ways to do this. You can purchase a bottle pump called a Vinator Sulfiter with Star San. The Vinator Sulfiter will squirt the sanitizing solution into a home brew bottle and then collect the solution for reuse. Just squirt the bottle 3 to 4 times and drain. This is a very simple method and saves lots of sanitizing solution.

Another option is to just fill a bucket with a sanitizing solution like Star San and dunk your bottles in for a few minutes, pull out and drain. This obviously uses much more sanitizing solution. Remember with Star San you should leave the bottle wet. The moment the Star San drys it is not as effective of a sanitizing solution. Leftover Star San in your bottle will not effect your home brew.

You could also put your bottles in the dishwasher and run with a sanitizer or no soap at all. I am not sure that the jets would clean the inside of the bottles so you may want to save this method for outside bottle washing only.

I recently tried the oven and that seemed to work well. I took small pieces of tin foil and covered the top of each bottle. I set the bottle on their side in the oven and slowly brought the heat up to 350 degrees. I did 200 degrees for 10 minutes, brought to 275 degrees for 10 minutes and then 350. I cooked the bottles for 1 hour and then let them cool. Because the tin foil is on the top of the home brew bottle I am able to let these sit for a while before I bottle. I wouldn’t recommend letting them sit too long as the tin foil is not air tight. I am not sure what repeated heated and cooling would do to the glass bottles.

A few other tips, rinse out your beer bottles immediately after pouring out the home brew. I rinse the bottle with hot water and then stick upside down in a dish dryer. That way they are ready to go next time, just need to be sanitized. A bottle dryer is a very convenient tool to have. You can purchase one or make one out of a bread tray, drilling holes in a piece of plywood, or dishwasher tray.

Hopefully these tips will make sanitizing bottles a little less painful. After all the work you put into your brew you would hate to have it fail on the final stretch. Remember to keep it clean and happy brewing!