Category Archives: homebrewing/beer

WikiHow– How to visit a brewery ?!?!

So, I saw this article this morning on WikiHow, that tells you how to visit a brewery. Now, maybe I'm just old hat at this, but I would have thought this was a pretty basic thing that you didn't need to be told how to do. You know, kind of like, "How to go grocery shopping". But maybe I'm off base here.

In any case, I think it is good to give non-beer-geeks the idea to visit breweries. I imagine some people would never have thought of it. I really don't mean to sound as sarcastic as I probably do in that last paragraph; it just struck me as funny. Also, this article does a good job of showing how to visit a brewery that doesn't really do tours or visitors. These small breweries are the most interesting, at least in my opinion. They seem to be the closest to homebrewing, and I would love to someday be able to sell my own beer. I would be sure to advertise tours, though.... I think tours are a great way to build a loyal base of fans. And they are so much fun!

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Double Happiness Gruit Recipe

Double Happiness Gruit Ale label

In the first of (what I hope to be) many postings of my homebrew recipes, here is one of my favorites. It is my take on a traditional gruit-style ale. I am starting with this recipe partly because it turned out very well, even winning 3rd place in the 2007 Greater Huntington Homebrewers Association Mountain Brewers Open. Also, I imagine that a lot of people will be wanting to explore the gruit style, since it doesn't use any hops (or, at least, my recipe doesn't use any hops), and with the hops shortage, I know a lot of brewers are looking for alternatives.

I know what you might be thinking: "What self-respecting beer geek wants a beer with no hops?" Well, if that's what you are thinking, then you really need to open your mind, and try this beer. I can't stand the more-hops-is-always-better attitude, but thats a rant for another day. Lets get back on track.

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On Hopbacks

A hopback allows you to hop your brew just before cooling it. The advantages here are, of course, the ability to add hop flavor, without adding bitterness. This is a somewhat similar result to dry-hopping.

I decided to build a hopback when I bought a plate chiller. I was dissatisfied with my immersion chiller, which I felt took to long to cool the wort. So, I bought a plate chiller, which is a smaller version of what the big breweries use. Basically, you have cold water running between copper plates counterflow to your wort.

When I was doing some research about plate chillers, I found that it was good to put a hopback in the line before them, after your brew kettle. This will keep the hop solids and hot break from clogging the plate chiller.

I found a couple of websites explaining how to make a hop back, so I read them , got some ideas, and then made my own. Here are my notes on how I made mine.

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My First All-Grain Homebrew

So, I just made my first all-grain brew a few days ago. Needless to say, I wasn't really sure how to do it, so here is what I did. Maybe it will help you out. I learned most of the information here from the guy at the Modern Homebrew Emporium in Cambridge, and Homebrewing Guide by Dave Miller. I am describing the step-mashing process, which is one of a few different popular methods. If you've tried one of the other methods, I'd love to hear about it.

This process will add a few hours on to your brew time, and really make it into an all-day activity, but it will give you much more control and satisfaction over the end product. And, anyway, you don't brew your own beer because it's easy, right?

I am assuming that you know how to do a basic extract-based brew, so I will just focus on the mashing process. After that point, it is the same process, except that you will have to boil more liquid. If you have a pot big enough to hold your whole batch, then you are all set. However, you may have to split your batch into two pots, like I did.

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How to Keep Your Homebrew Cool in the Summer

One of the hardest parts about homebrewing in the summer is keeping your brew cool during the fermentation and conditioning stages. If your brew gets too warm, the yeast will produce off flavors, which can include grapefruit-like sourness and bannana flavors, and can also produce more fusel alcohols, which cause massive headaches the next morning. Usually, to combat this, homebrewers will make darker beers, with more complex flavors so that the off-flavors won't be so noticable. However, often in the summer you will want to drink something light, like a pilsner. You probably don't want something dark and heavy like a porter or stout on a hot summer day.

The ideal temperature depends on the yeast that you are using, but 68 - 70 degrees Farenheit is usually a good target. This can be easily accomplished if you are lucky enought to have a central air-conditioning system that keeps your house at a constant temperature. Another really great way to control the temperature is with an old refridgerator. You can modify the thermostat to keep the interior at whatever temperature you like. This is really ideal, since it even makes it possible to make lagers, which need even lower temperatures.

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