Homebrew Recipe Calculator, Blog, How To, & Recipes


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. 


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.   


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.


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!


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!  


How To: Modify a Turkey Fryer Burner To Support a Keggle


Homebrewing equipment can be expensive, and if you're anything like me, you quickly realize the limitations of your homebrewing equipment and find the need to upgrade.  Part of the fun of homebrewing, outside of making delicious homebrew, is using your creativity to handcraft thrifty solutions to homebrew challenges.  We've already shown you how to create a Keggle out of a keg but what if you've upgraded from a Turkey Fryer to a Keggle but haven't yet upgraded your burner to a tiered system?

I started homebrewing using a 4 gallon canning pot on the stove.  Aside from my wife complaining about the smell, I wanted to start full boils so I picked up a 7 gallon Turkey Fryer on sale at Home Depot for $30.  This setup worked well for a few brews but I did get boil overs with nearly every batch because 6.5 gallons of water in a 7 gallon turkey fryer only leaves about an inch of empty space at the top of the pot.  


I've recently upgraded to a Keggle but I'm not ready to invest in a tiered gravity system yet, so I planned on using the burner that came with my turkey fryer.  Unfortunately, the bottom of the keggle is rounded (unlike the turkey fryer) and the keg's outer rim is larger than the diameter of the turkey fryer which makes for a very uneven surface. When I placed the keggle on the burner its rounded center rested on the burner's center support and the keggle easily swung around in a circular fashion.  To solve this issue, I welded a support structure on top of the burner, allowing the weight of the keggle to be evenly distributed and eliminate the rocking altogether.

It was my first ever welding project and I knew I would eventually be upgrading so I wasn't too concerned about making it look pretty, which is quite obvious when looking at the pictures.  

What's most important is that the added support can handle the weight of the filled keggle and remain steady to prevent boiling hot wort from dumping on you and ruining your brew day.


Required Tools and Equipment

  • Keggle
  • Burner from a Turkey Fryer
  • 4 Feet of Weldable Steel (I used 1.5" Wide X .25" Thick to support the weight.  I paid about $15)
  • Something to Cut Steel with (i.e. grinder or cutting torch)
  • Welder and welding supplies


  • Cut the weldable steel into 4 pieces.  (I used 2 X 15" pieces and 2 X 9" pieces).
  • Weld the four pieces into a rectangle. 
  • Place the turkey fryer burner upside down on top of the welded rectangle.
  • Position the burner, centered in the rectangle so at least two opposite sides of the rectangle are touching the frame of the burner.
  • Weld the new rectangle to the burner.
  • Let it cool off before touching or moving it (it gets really hot)
That's it!
If you are not an experienced welder, make sure you have someone experienced to help you so that you don't get hurt or burn down your garage.

Overall, I'm happy with the upgrade which only cost me $15 for the steel and some time to put it all together.  It was also a fun lesson in welding which was way easier than I had expected.  Now that I've welded a bit of steel I can start thinking about designing and building my own tiered gravity system (future post).

Happy Brewing!


What Ingredients are used in commercial beers ?

This article on LifeHacker highlights a new text messaging service that will help you find out what ingredients are used in commercial beers. 


Growing Hops At Home Is Fun and Easy

I planted two varieties of hops a few months ago with the hopes of using them for making a delicious home brew.  I ordered Hop Rhizomes for Nugget and Kent Golding and put them in the ground hoping they would turn out...supposedly they don't typically grow very well in my area but so far they are looking great.  One of them is showing little baby hop cones forming.  I plucked one off and ate it, but it tasted like I was eating grass...there's no bitterness there yet.  I wonder when the Alpha Acids are produced.  At any rate, it's looking like these bad boys will produce at least some hops to use in a home brew later this year.


Baby Hop Cones Grown From Rhizomes

Hop Plant Climbing a Pole


Beer was meant to be enjoyed, Responsibly of Course

Here's a news article that shows which countries consume the most alcohol.  Of course, we know alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation. As always, drink responsibly.



How To Reuse Home Brew Yeast From a Previous Batch of Home Brew

Yeast Bed

If you're new to home brewing, you might think that when fermentation is over, the home brew yeast that you pitched into your wort has done it's job and died off.  Actually, the yeast consumes the sugars in your wort, and when it can't do that any longer, settles down at the bottom of the carboy. Lucky for us, we can extract it and reuse it in another batch of delicious home brew.  

In this blog post, I'm going to walk you through the steps needed to get the yeast out of the carboy, wash it, and reuse it.

Equipment Needed:

  • Carboy with home brew ready to be bottled or put into a keg system
  • Auto Siphon or other mechanism for removing home brew from a carboy
  • Sanitizing Solution
  • Small stove pot
  • 2 Cups of Water
  • 2 large jars with lids
  • 1 small jar with lid for storage

Step 1: Siphon Your Beer

Before you can get at the yeast, you need to siphon the home brew out of the carboy.  That sludgy tan colored nastiness at the bottom of the carboy is the yeast cake or yeast bed.  It may have some home brew, hops or other miscellaneous things in it, but don't worry, you'll take care of that later.

 Siphon Beer


Step 2: Boil and Cool 2 Cups of Water

Boil two cups of water for 10 minutes to sterilize the water. Cover the pot with a lid and allow the water to cool to room temperature.  You can use an ice bath if you are in a hurry, but don't fret...why not sit back and enjoy a home brew while you're waiting.  You're going to combine this water with the yeast cake in a few steps.

 Stove Pot


Step 3: Prepare the Jars

While the boiled water is cooling, wash the jars and lids if needed and sanitize them.  Set them aside for later, making sure they aren't able to collect any bacteria or wild yeast while you're waiting. 


Step 4: Pour the Water Onto the Yeast Cake and Shake It!

Once the water that you boiled in step 2 has cooled down to room temperature, you're going to pour the cooled water directly onto the yeast cake inside the carboy.  Next, you want to shake and swirl the carboy...juggle it if you like, just don't drop it or spill it. The goal is to dislodge all of the yeast, trub and other gunk at the bottom of the carboy and mix it into the water, forming a thick tan colored concoction. There may be some larger particles in there...don't worry.

Water and Funnel


Step 5: Pour the Yeast Mixture

Once you have thoroughly mixed the water and yeast cake and most of the yeast cake has combined with the water, pour the yeast mixture into one of the sanitized jars.  Secure the lid on the jar and shake the mixture as much as you can for a good 2 to 5 minutes.  This will help break up the larger particles and mix everything together.

Sludge in Jar


Step 6: Wait 10 Minutes

After shaking, set the jar down somewhere and let it rest for 10 minutes or more.  You should start seeing distinct separation of layers in the jar with the sludge and other gunk collecting at the bottom, yeast in the middle and water on top.  Depending on the type of beer you made, how much you shook the jar and how long you let it rest will affect the distinction between the yeast and water layers.



Step 7: Pour off Yeast and Water

After everything has settled fairly well, slowly pour the top layers of the jar into the other sanitized jar.  As you do this, the layers will mostly remain intact and you can watch the water and yeast layers getting smaller as you pour.  Stop pouring just before the sludge layer starts getting transferred.  Discard the sludge that is left over in the first jar then clean and re-sanitize the jar. Cover and seal the jar that now has the yeast and liquid.   Continue to shake, wait and pour as many times as you need to to get rid of the bulk of the sludge. In this process, you're simply moving the the yeast back and fourth between jars and getting rid of more sludge with each transfer.  Typically, doing this 2 to 3 times is sufficient.

Yeast Pour Off


Step 8: Label and Refrigerate

Once you are satisfied with how much sludge has been eliminated, you're going to transfer the remaining yeast and water into a small jar or other vessel that will hold the yeast until you decide to use it in another batch of home brew.  Make sure the jar or vessel is sanitized, pour in the yeast water mixture and seal with a lid.  Label the jar or vessel of yeast, making sure to include the yeast strain as well as the number of times it has been reused.  You don't want to reuse your yeast more than 4 or 5 times as it will begin to mutate and no longer produce predictable flavors in your home brew.  After the yeast has been in the refrigerator for a few days, the yeast will solidify at the bottom and the liquid will be on top.  You can now take this out and use it in a batch of home brew, though I recommend using a yeast starter to get the yeast active before pitching into your wort.  Yeast that is stored in the refrigerator should keep for a few months, but using it sooner than later is always recommended.


Harvested Home Brew Yeast

If you have any tips or comments on how to reuse home brew yeast, please leave a comment.


What Equipment Is Needed to Make Beer at Home

When I decided to start home brewing, one of the main obstacles for me was the home brew equipment.  I didn't know what home brew equipment I needed and there was quite a variety of different home brew kits and home brew equipment available.  I talked to some other home brewers and looked at home brew tutorials, but because I hadn't yet brewed a batch of beer or watched anyone else brew a batch of beer, everything was unclear.

In this blog post, I’ve outlined the different pieces of home brew equipment that are required to make beer, using the full extract process (all grain brewing requires some additional equipment).  I'll also talk a bit about some optional home brew equipment and give suggestions to help the new home brewer get started brewing beer at home easily.

Here's a checklist of what is needed:

Brew Journal

You’ll want to document your home brew process and recipe so that you can re-produce the great beer you make.  How awful would it be if you brewed the beer of all beers but failed to record your process and ingredients?  Most brewers use a simple bound notepad and that is more than sufficient.  The more information you log the better as it will help you to understand why brews turn out differently and ultimately make you a better brewer. 

Brew Kettle

One thing people often don't realize is that making beer involves boiling the beer ingredients in water for a fairly long time (cooking the wort).  Most batches are 5 gallons, so you're going to need a fairly large kettle or pot to cook your wort in.  When I started home brewing, I had hoped to use one of my kitchen cooking pots and quickly realized they were not big enough.  My largest pot is just over 1 gallon.  To get good results, you should be using a brew kettle or brew pot that can hold no less than 3 1/2 (3.5) gallons while still having some room at the top.  The wort is going to be very hot and you don't want to be lugging around a pot filled to the brim with boiling hot liquid.  Ideally you want a stainless steel pot, but a porcelain enamel pot will work just fine too.  In my case, my wife already had a porcelain enamel pot she was using for canning, and I started with that.  The porcelain enamel pots are definitely cheaper than the stainless steel pots, so if you're on a budget, you can save some money there.

Sanitizing Solution

You’ll need some sanitizing solution to disinfect the home brew equipment used in the brewing process.  There are lots of different sanitizers on the market, and some home brewers just use bleach.  I’ve used the iodine based sanitizer (IO Star) and the Star San acid sanitizer.  Personally, I prefer the iodine sanitizer as the contact time is only 1 minute, it’s not acid based, and it doesn’t foam very much.  The foam in Star San supposedly helps penetrate small spaces, but it also makes it hard to see what your sanitizing.  I typically fill the sink with sanitizer and pull stuff out as I need it.  Using the iodine sanitizer allows me to look into the sanitizing solution and grab what I need.  I wasn’t able to do that with Star San.  Also, I would not recommend using the Iodine sanitizer in a plastic bathtub or sink.  I did this once and it left an unpleasant yellow stain in my tub.

Hydrometer and Turkey Baster (or thief)

A hydrometer is used in the home brew process to measure the specific gravity of the home brew.  Technically, you don’t need one to brew your own beer, but any serious brewer needs one to measure the alcohol content of their beer.  There is definitely a wide variety of them on the market.  I use a triple scale hydrometer and measuring tube, which are the cheapest ones you can get, and they work great.  Be careful not to push it off the counter like I did, because it’s made out of glass and it will break. 

I also recommend a turkey baster for extracting beer from the fermenter for tastings or hydrometer readings.  You can also buy what’s called The Thief for the same purpose, but chances are you already have a turkey baster in your home and you can save yourself a few bucks.



You'll need a thermometer to measure the temperature of liquid a few times during the brewing process.  If you're steeping specialty grains in your home brew (which you should), you'll need to verify the temperature of the steeping water one or more times.  When you're cooling your wort, after the boil, you'll need to verify the temperature before pitching the yeast (adding the yeast to your wort).  For these two temperature readings, a floating thermometer is sufficient and you should be able to pick one up for less than $10. Of course, if you have a brew pot with a built in temperature gauge, you might not need a thermometer.

Grain Bags and Hop Socks (optional)

If you’re steeping with speciality grains, you’ll need grain bags to hold the steeping grains.  This is essentially a flexible cloth mesh bag that you can fill with grains and tie off.  I use the disposable ones as you can just toss the bag in the trash when you’re done, but there are also reusable grain bags made of nylon and other materials.

If you’re using leaf hops, you may want to use a hop sock, which is essentially the same as the grain bag and allows you to contain and dispose of the hops easily.  I’ve used these a few times and what I like best about them is that you can wrap them around your nose and breathe in their delightful aroma.

Steeping Grain Bag


Once you have finished cooking and cooling your wort, you need to transfer it to your primary fermenter where it will live for the next few weeks or longer depending on the type of beer you're making.  A home brew fermenter can be pretty much anything that is food grade plastic or glass, prevents oxygen absorption, can release pressure from carbon dioxide production and can hold at least 5 gallons of wort.  Most online advice will suggest that you use a glass carboy, however, I recommend using the plastic Better Bottles.  

When I was getting started in brewing I read many horror stories about glass carboys breaking, causing not only awful messes but also serious injuries.  This led me to start with the plastic Better Bottle and I wouldn't recommend anything else.  They are very light, easy to transport, and if you drop them they won't break.  Because they are so durable, you can actually pick them up and shake them to aerate your wort before pitching the yeast.  They are also very easy to clean.  Some hot water and soap with a few shakes usually cleans mine quite well. If you have the choice and the budget, I suggest going with a 6 gallon better bottle over the 5 gallon as it will allow you some extra space for krausen on high gravity brews.

A lot of brewers will also recommend two stage fermentation.  This involves transfering your brew from your primary fermenter to a secondary fermenter after initial fermentation has occurred.   There is a lot of debate as to whether or not secondary fermentation adds enough value to make it worth it.  I suggest starting with a single fermenter and if you decide to start using secondary fermentation you can pick up a second fermenter.

Better Bottle Carboy

Funnel and Filter (optional)

When the wort is ready to go into the carboy, you may wish to use a funnel and filter to get it into the fermenter.  This approach can definitely yield less trub (fragments of grain and hops) in your fermenter, but it can be cumbersome and time consuming as the filter easily becomes clogged and you have to hold the brew kettle to pour the wort through the funnel.  If you have a brew kettle with a spout, this option would work very well.  Otherwise, you can use a siphon and save the funnel/filter option if you want every last drop of your wort. 

Carboy Bung, Blowoff Tubing and Airlock

When your home brew is fermenting in the carboy, you need to protect it from contamination.  This is typically done by sealing the carboy with a carboy bung, which is essentially a rubber stopper with a lip to prevent it from falling inside.  It also has a small hole bored through the middle so that you can insert an airlock or blow off tubing.

Blow of tubing can be used for the first few days to prevent the krausen from backing up into the airlock. Some brew shops sell blow off tubing assemblies for Better Bottles, but you’ll save money if you use your existing bung, and pick up some vinyl food grade tubing from your local hardware store.  

The drilled hole sizes may vary based on the bung.  I took my bung in with me and found tubing that was nice and snug.  Get at least 6 feet...it’s cheap and you don’t want it too short.  After blowoff, you’ll need to seal your carboy with an airlock.  I’ve only used the three piece airlocks, which work great, and you can pick them up for around a buck. 

Blowoff Assembly

Auto Siphon (Racking Cane)

Depending on your home brew process, you may use a siphon one or more times.  I use a siphon to transfer my wort from the brew kettle to the fermenter on brew day and to transfer the fermented beer from the fermenter to the bottling bucket on bottle day.  You’ll need some more tubing to use with your siphon, and again, the tubing size depends on the siphon you get.  I’ve had a few different siphons and they all work the same way.  I wouldn’t recommend going with anything fancy here as the cheap ones work just fine. 

Auto Siphon / Racking Cane

Bottling Bucket, Spigot and Lid

On bottle day, you’ll need to transfer your home brew to a bottling bucket.  For the most part, these all work the same and come with a spigot and lid.  The lid keeps contaminates out while you bottle and the spigot is used to disperse the beer from the bucket to the bottles.  You can also add a spring tip bottle filler which allows you to push it against the inside bottom of the bottle and disperse the beer from the bottom of the bottle.  There are many other bottling options including bottling guns, but these will cost you more.


Bottles, Bottle Capper and Bottle Caps

Most home brewers start off by putting their beer in bottles.  I have yet to make the step up to a keg system, and I’m not sure I will anytime soon.  I enjoy having the beer in bottles for storage, portability and the fact that I don’t have 5 gallons of beer on tap, continually tempting me to drink it.  If you’re going the bottle route, you’ll need bottles.  You can buy them or you can use empty bottles from beer you’ve already enjoyed.  See Jason’s great post on home brew bottle sanitation.  

Depending on your exact home brew batch size, you should be able to get between 45 and 50 12oz bottles of beer from a 5 gallon batch. You’ll also need bottle caps and a capper to seal the bottles.  I use a capper (the Red Barron) that came with the kit I purchased and it which works well.  There are fancier ones out there, but I’d rather spend my extra money on ingredients.

Bottle Caps  

Cooling Bath (optional)

When the wort is done cooking, you need to cool it quickly.  Many home brewers use wort chillers, spirals of copper tubing used to transfer heat, but they can be quite expensive and you can easily get by without them.  You’ll need something that can hold water, ice and your brew kettle.  I use one of those large plastic storage bins you can buy at Target after Christmas.  I can cool my 3 ½ (3.5) gallon kettle to 65 degrees within 25 minutes.  I add water and a large bag of ice and place the kettle with lid inside.  I then place the storage bin lid on top and wait.  I check it about every 5 minutes to circulate the water which moves the warmer water away from the kettle walls.  I’ve also tried using the sink and bathtub with no success.

Cooling Bath

Miscellaneous Items

Most everything else you will need to home brew including scissors, can opener, stirring spoon and other items should be readily available in your home. 

That’s it!  Just a few items and you should be well on your way to becoming a home brew master.  Should you buy a home brew kit or just get what you need?   The short answer is, it depends.  Mainly, it depends on what type of home brew equipment you want, and whether there is a kit that has most or all of the stuff you want at a price you want to pay.

In my case, I could have saved around $40 if I had bought the individual items as opposed to a kit.  If you do go the kit route, keep in mind that most kits do not include the kettle.  

Good luck and I hope you find home brewing as enjoyable as I do.