Homebrew Recipe Calculator, Blog, How To, & Recipes


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!


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.


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.


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.

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

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!


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.


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.


Convert a Keg to a Keggle/Brew Pot

Building a keggle (brew kettle) from an old keg is a great way to get an inexpensive large stainless steel brew pot for your homebrew. Manufactured brewing kettles can be very expensive, they offer a variety of features but what if you just want to brew larger batches of beer without spending lots of money, the converted keg could be your answer. Make sure that you get your keg from a reputable source. I know there are many legal concerns with obtaining old kegs so make sure you find out what is legal. Also make sure that you know what you are doing, the keg can be under pressure and you could get seriously injured. We do not recommend doing this without expert help.

To convert my keg to a stainless steel brew pot I first had to cut off the top. I created a jig for my angle grinder to cut the top off the keg. I used a short 2x4 bolted to an angled piece of steel. A door handle drill bit, 2” I think, bolted to the 2x4 worked perfect to fit in the top of the keg. The handle of the angle grinder unscrewed and I was able to use it like a bolt to the angled steel.

After I cut the top off the keg, I used a Dremil and sandpaper to clean up the rough edges on the opening of the keggle. You don’t want to cut yourself on those rough cuts when cleaning out the keg.

I used a step drill bit to drill the holes for the weldless valve and sight glass. I picked up the wedless valve from my local home brew shop and the weldless sight glass/thermometer came from http://www.brewhardware.com/.

I built the keggle pickup tube from copper pipe purchased at my home improvement store. The pickup works okay. I try to whirlpool my wort in the brew pot, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then drain. I still seem to pick up quite a bit of hops. I might need to come up with another design or add some type of filter. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

I have brewed about 6 batches of homebrew in my converted keg and I absolutely love it. No more fear of boil-overs when doing 5 gallon batches. I have yet to do a 10 gallon batch but if I am ever so inclined I am ready. Not sure if I could mash for 10 gallons in my 10 gallon water cooler, it would have to be a small beer.


Convert Fridge into a Kegerator

I finally decided to pull the trigger and invest in a kegerator system for my home brew. I went with a door mounted Kegco Standard Homebrew Kegerator Conversion Kit from the Beverage Factory. I already had an old fridge in the garage, so I just needed the equipment found in the kegerator kit. If you purchase a kit it should contain installation instructions, these are just a few photos of how I did it, not a detailed installation guide.

I first marked where I want the kegerator taps. I decided to mark out 4 taps even though I was only installing 2, I can always add the others later. I drilled a hole on the inside of the fridge, only through the first layer of plastic, not through the insulation.

I then drilled a larger diameter hole from the outside of the fridge, through the metal exterior, through the foam insulation, and then stopped at the interior plastic shell.

Here is a cross section illustration of what the hole in the door would look like.

I then inserted a piece of PVC pipe into the two holes for the taps. This just helps make it a little stronger, you can tighten down the taps and not worry about crushing the soft fridge door. This definitely isn’t necessary but i had some PVC lying around that was the right size so I added it.

I then inserted the taps through the holes and hooked up all the hoses.

I am not sure if the bottom shelf is able to hold 10 gallons of beer, 2 corney kegs, and a full CO2 tank. It seems okay but I will probably install some kind of reinforcement.

That’s it, ready to fill, chill, carb, and drink a home brew. I have tried three beers so far in the corney kegs and absolutely love it. It makes bottling day go much faster. I also like having control over the CO2. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.