Tag Archives: homebrewing

New Homebrew Question/Answer site

I’ve been active on the programming question & answer site, StackOverflow.com for a few years now, and in the past several months, the company behind that wonderful resource has branched out into other topics. ¬†This week, the new Homebrew.StackExchange.com site launched in public beta. The software this site runs on is finely tuned for asking […]
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Bottle Conditioning in Growlers

Well, today seemed to be a busy day for people asking me beer-related questions on facebook. I like to repost things like this here, since the facebook wall doesn't really stick around very long.

So, a friend of mine who is just getting into homebrewing, posed this question:

hey, So the directions I have say no screw top bottles. I was planning on filling mostly just growlers, is that cool? and why is it that the net has so much contradicting information? mostly about the times for fermenting and carbonating

Well, I've experimented some with bottle-conditioning in growlers, with some mixed (but never disastrous) results. I've also heard the warning from people on the Internet about bottle bombs.

Read on for my response, which I elaborated on somewhat to fit this format (my blog), since facebook imposes character limits on wall posts and comments.

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Jim is looking for one of Jamil’s recipes

If you are a homebrewer, or just a beer lover, I cannot recommend joining the American Homebrewers Association enough. In addition to a subscription to Zymurgy, plenty of discounts to pubs and other places beer lovers are bound to frequent, and also a subscription to Tech Talk, the AHA-only email forum. Now, there are plenty of online homebrew forums, and many of them are great. Tech Talk is one of the best (in my opinion, at least).

I had a question once, shortly after joining the AHA, so I figured I'd give it a try. Within 2 hours of the email going out, I got about 2 responses directly to my email, and another five or so responses came in the next issue of Tech Talk. It was amazing, and it proved, once again, that homebrewers are the best type of people.

So, in that spirit, I have decided to re-publish my responses to other people's question on Tech Talk here. Hopefully this will help me reach more people, in case anyone has these same questions. With that being said, if you find this useful, you will find many more helpful people on Tech Talk, so join the AHA.

So, a little while ago, a guy named Jim D. asked the kind folks of Tech Talk if we could suggest an extract version of Jamil Zainasheff's Brown Ale recipe, which was published in Zymurgy in a recent issue. Here is my response:

If you are looking for one of Jamil's recipes, and you don't have his book, you can listen to the podcast he did. He went through each recipe in Brewing Classic Styles and discusses it in some pretty good depth, as well as gives out all grain and extract versions of the recipe. The archives listing is at http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/jamil.php. There are actually two episodes on English Brown Ale, one for the southern style, and one for the northern.

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Beer and Homebrewing Podcasts

Podcasts are great for commuting. You get fresh content regularly, on almost any topic out there. I hardly ever listen to music on my iPod, since the only time I really ever listen to music is when I'm at work, and that is really just to help drown out distractions around me.

So, about half of the podcasts I subscribe to are beer-related, and half of those are homebrewing specific. Here is a listing of what I subscribe to. If you know of any other good ones, please let me know.

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New England Apple Ale Recipe

In the next installment of my recipe series, here is my apple ale recipe, which I am calling New England Apple Ale. I wanted to make a full-bodied beer, that made you think of apples (and cider, and apple pie). I wanted this to hold its own as a beer first, rather than a beer-cider hybrid, or a sickly-sweet fruity beer. I think I pulled this off.

The apple notes are strong, but they are balanced by the toasty notes from the roasted barley. The cinnamon and nutmeg in this recipe are dialed down from the last iteration of this beer I brewed, and I think that helps a lot. It still reminds you of apple pie, without completely being one.

This recipe took 3rd place in the 2008 Sam Adams Tour Center homebrew contest.

Read on for the full all-grain recipe.

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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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