Archives for November 2013

Golden Ale (III: Boiling and Beyond)

I hope all our readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving and have plenty of leftovers for the next few days. 


971497_289797154500041_1583280131_nThis is the conclusion of our series on golden ales. I’ve defined golden ales as a subset of what some might call light or blonde ales (and what the BJCP labels blonde ales) with the following attributes: Moderately dry. Malt character almost entirely from a high quality base malt (and often with a grainy edge). Not lacking in hop character (in fact, the malt/hop balance can be tipped slightly towards hops).

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Golden Ale (II: Malts and Mashing)


Amber waves of grain. Robust (6-row) barley growing in my garden.

Golden ales are balanced, but this balance can be shifted slightly towards either ingredient. Even with the hoppiest golden ales, the malt character is important. As I mentioned in the intro to this series, I’m not going to try to describe every type of beer that is labeled as a light ale, blonde ale or golden ale. (For example, I’m not going to cover the sweetish, not very bitter blonde ales made from Pilsner malt and a sizable addition of Carapils.)

The golden ales I am going to describe have a delicious malt flavor that comes both from ingredient selection and how the grains are handled. These beers are not intensely malty, as with a Maibock or similar pale lager, but show a pleasing grainy malt character balanced with sufficient hop bitterness and flavor to avoid being insipid. Coupled with reasonably high attenuation from the yeast, this yields a crisp ale with a dry and hoppy aftertaste. To a large degree, the type of golden ale I describe is similar to the Catamount Gold of the late 1990s, and other good, balanced, malty/grainy light ales found in some brewpubs.

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Molassunami Brown Porter (Easy, Surefire Recipe #4)


Boston newspaper from the day after the tragedy. The death and injury toll was later revised upwards.

This is a dark beer and the name is somewhat dark as well. It is named for the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919, when a tank holding 2,300,000 gallons (8,700,000 L) of molasses burst, releasing a wave of molasses 25-ft. (7.6 m) high and traveling at 35 mph (56 kph). Twenty one people died (along with numerous horses) and 150 were injured. In addition, nearby buildings were pushed off their foundations and crumbled. A Boston Elevated Railway line was also damaged. For years, Boston would smell like molasses in the early spring, when temperatures rose after winter. The cause of the tank rupturing may have been fermentation — the temperature had risen dramatically is the days leading up to the accident. When the tank did fail, witnesses described hearing the rivets of the tank pop off in quick succession. Some claimed it sounded like a machine gun. 

This is part of our Easy, Surefire Recipe series, which also includes an amber ale, a mild ale and a Scottish ale.


Molassunami Brown Porter

Brown porter, with molasses

by Chris Colby

Extract; English units



A brown porter with a malty and roast-y aroma and a hint of molasses. It is well-balanced and well-attenuated, not overly sweet.

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IPA Experiment Results

Five samples were tasted for differences in bitterness.

Five samples were tasted for differences in bitterness.

Recently, Beer and Wine Journal (BWJ) and Basic Brewing Radio (BBR) teamed up for a collaborative experiment. One recent idea to catch the attention of homebrewers is that the chloride to sulfate ratio in their brewing water affected their perception of hop character (particularly bitterness). Beers with more chloride ions than sulfate ions were supposed to taste more sweet or feel full-bodied, to the detriment of the hops. Beers with more sulfate than chloride were said to be drier, accentuating the hop bitterness. For more on this, see our article in the pale, hoppy beer series.

Experimental Design

We decided to try to test this, but in a way that didn’t require us to brew batch after batch of beer. We hit on the idea of adding minerals to the beer at bottling, instead of to the brewing liquor on brewday. We didn’t know if that would work, but that’s what science is all about — finding out for yourself. [Read more…]

Happy Thanksgiving


If you like crispy turkey skin, this method is the way to go.

Happy Thanksgiving a few days early from Beer and Wine Journal. We hope everyone gets to enjoy the holiday in the company of the people that are important to them. Every once in awhile, we publish a story on food and today we just thought we’d remind you of a story I posted awhile back on smoked turkey. This method (setting the turkey on a Foster’s can, in the manner of beer can chicken) works for roasting turkey in the oven as well as smoking it in a smoker.

Smoked Turkey Recipe

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“Freya’s” Eyes Golden Ale (All-grain)

Here is an all-grain recipe for a golden ale. Through malt choice, and the fact that the grain bed in fully sparged, a grainy/bread-y malt character is achieved. This crisp beer showcases a blend of hops that balance the malt and are aggressive enough to keep the beer from being insipid. A Belgian yeast strain is used, but at a pitching rate and fermentation temperature that will yield a mostly clean fermentation. (This strain also flocculates out well, but produces a lot of kräusen.) In all, a golden ale with a bit more character than is usually seen in light or blonde ales.


Thor dresses as Freyja to retrieve his hammer. Painting by Elmer Boyd Smith (1902)

The name “Freya’s” Eyes comes from an old Norse myth. In it, Thor’s hammer is stolen by a frost giant. The frost giant agrees to return it in exchange for the hand of Freyja — the Norse goddess of love and fertility — in marriage. Loki convinces Thor to dress as Freyja and retrieve the hammer by trickery. So, when “Freya” arrives in the hall of the frost giant, he is shocked at how much “Freyja” can eat and how much mead “she” can drink. At one point, he looks behind “her” veil and sees a set of very, very angry blue eyes. Later in the marriage feast, the frost giant decides to present Thor’s hammer to his new bride and things turn ugly for the assembled frost giants.

There is also an extract version of this recipe.

“Freyja’s” Eyes

Golden ale

by Chris Colby

All-grain; English units



A crisp golden ale with a grainy and bready pale malt flavor. Hop bitterness and flavor are quite high for this type of beer, but not to the point of masking the malt character. The relatively high pitching rate and low fermentation temperatures yield a fairly clean fermentation, even though a Belgian yeast strain is used.

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Golden Ale (I:Intro and Water)


A pleasing grainy/bready malt character is welcome in a light ale.

Most brewpubs offer a variety of beers, a lineup designed to please everyone who walks through the door, from beer geeks to craft beer newbies. Most of the time, a light-colored ale is among the offerings. Sometimes called a light ale or a blonde ale, this beer is clearly — and often explicitly — meant to appeal to folks whose taste runs more towards American Pilsners than American IPAs or imperial stouts.

This type of beer garners a lot a derision from “the cool kids” in homebrewing and craft brewing. The BJCP, who labels this kind a beer blonde ale (category 6B), says the beer is “designed as the entry level craft beer.” And of course, if you try the typical light ale at many brewpubs, you couldn’t be faulted for dismissing it as not worthy of much interest. However, I would argue that you can brew an astoundingly great light-colored ale if you simply give it the attention you give your other beers.

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Fruitcake Barleywine

Brown sugar, molasses, candied fruit, and spices bring the holidays into this beer.

Brown sugar, molasses, candied fruit, and spices bring the holidays into this beer.

No, the name of this beer doesn’t refer to a psychedelic band from the 1960s, although that would be awesome. This beer was born out of an annual tradition on Basic Brewing Video. In December of 2007, I brewed a small batch barleywine for Steve Wilkes to use in making a fruitcake and a wassail – a traditional holiday beverage. The barleywine from the next year went into a bread pudding. All of the above were delicious.

In 2009, I decided to turn the tables. Instead of using barleywine as an ingredient in fruitcake, I decided to see what would happen if I used traditional fruitcake ingredients in the beer. (See recipe and video below.) The beer was based on one brewed with American two-row, 90L crystal, and a bit of aromatic malt with Fuggles for bittering. [Read more…]

Wort Production for Very Big Beers (II: Malt Extract)


Malt extract is concentrated wort.

Making high gravity wort from only malted grains requires either an extended boil, more grain in the mash tun, or both. Due to limitations on equipment size, you may not be able to produce a full-sized batch of a very high gravity brew. In that case, either you’ll need to perform two (or more) brew sessions to fill your fermenter or you’ll need to accept the lower batch volume.

Of course, we all know there’s an easy way to hit any OG you want, with minimal fuss — add malt extract. In this article, I’ll discuss wort production using malt extract.

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Wort Production for Very Big Beers


A full mash tun means a big beer is in the works.

Brewing a very strong beer presents a number of challenges to the homebrewer. The first one is generating the high gravity wort. In this article, I’ll review the options for wort production for all-grain brewers, using the brewing of a hypothetical 5.0-gallon (19-L) ale with an original specific gravity (OG) of 1.100 as an example. I’ll cover extract brewing methods later in the week.

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