Archives for February 2014

Amber Socks (3-gallon/11-L All-Grain Red Ale Recipe)


Amber Socks Red Ale — a full-bodied beer with a caramel notes, and plenty of finishing hops.

This is another all-grain recipe formulated to be brewed on a simple 3-gallon (11-L) all-grain brewery. The original 5-gallon (19-L) recipe is an extract recipe. There is also a countertop partial mash version. This beer is inspired by Cambridge Brewing Company’s Amber Ale, although it isn’t a clone. It’s full-bodied, with some caramel sweetness, but balanced by 39 IBUs and with a pronounced hop aroma.

This recipes uses US 2-row malt for the base malt. The diastatic power (DP) of this malt is high, so there is no need to mash for an hour. The recipe gives 45 minutes as the mash time, but you could likely cut this down to 30 minutes — or maybe even 20 minutes — without causing any problems. For 3.0 gallons (11 L) of beer at this original gravity (12.5 °Plato, OG 1.050) , you do not need to make a yeast starter when using a tube or XL smack pack of liquid yeast.


Amber Socks Red Ale

by Chris Colby

All-grain; English units



An amber ale with caramel malt flavor and lots of hop flavor and aroma.

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US Barley Production At Historic Lows


He’s not dead yet, but he’s looking a bit peaked.

In 1941, the US entered World War II. The following year, in the United States, 17 million acres were planted to barley. At the time, barley was grown as animal feed and for malting. (Malting is the process of turning barley seed into malted barley. Malted barley is the major ingredient in beer and some distilled beverages.) As today, a tiny amount went to human consumption and industrial uses. And of course, some amount of barley grown every year supplies farmers with seed for the next year. As it turns out, after years of increases in barley acreage since the mid 1800s, 1942 was the peak of barley production in the US. 

After 1942, production bounced around before landing at around 8 million acres planted in 1987. From there, the numbers began to slide consistently, with barley acreage losing over 300,000 acres per year. (Numbers from the Nation Barley Growers Association.) Last year, only 2 million acres of barley were planted in the US. In addition, barley stocks — stored grain held in reserve — were at or near historic lows.

Acreage in Montana and Idaho, two major barley growing states, has seen only modest declines in the past two decades. In contrast, Minnesota and North Dakota have seen production fall sharply. The number of bushels produced Minnesota fell by roughly half from 1991 to 2000, then stabilized. From 1991 to 2011, barley production in North Dakota — until recently the top barley-growing state — fell from more than 135 million bushels per year to less than 20 million.

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Session IPA

This is part of a continuing series on IPA variants. So far, I’ve tackled black IPAs/Cascadian dark ales, Belgian IPAs, and wheat IPAs. See also the article on rye IPA, by Denny Conn. In addition, I wrote a whole series of articles on “regular” American-style IPAs, along with American pale ales and double IPAs. 



Founders All Day IPA. Not quite an IPA, but is it just a pale ale? (Also, it’s a tasty beer, so does the name matter?)

Beers with “IPA” in their name tend to sell well and commercial brewers are keen to have those three letters on their labels. One style (or substyle) of beer that has emerged recently is session IPA. A session IPA supposedly combines the hoppiness of an IPA with the lower alcohol content of a session beer. Founders Brewing’s All Day IPA was one of the first entries in this category, and continues to be one of the best-known.

When session IPAs first arrived, they tended to get one of two reactions. Beer drinkers either said, “Awesome, now I can get more hoppy goodness, and not have to stop after a couple,” or, “Hey great idea, but I liked it better when it was called pale ale.”

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Late Malt Extract Additions


Brewery-grade malt extract is made from wort that has been boiled. All that you need to do to turn it into wort is dissolve it and sanitize it. (Canned extract should already be sanitary.)

In the early days of modern homebrewing, many 5-gallon (19-L) homebrew recipes called for boiling several pounds (a few kilograms) of malt extract in as little as 1.5 gallons (5.7 L) of water for 60 minutes. This thick wort would then be diluted to 5.0 gallons (19 L) in a bucket or carboy fermenter. If you followed these instructions, you ended up with beer (and you were psyched) — but you noticed that the color was frequently much darker than a comparable commercial beer.

As the sophistication of homebrewing knowledge increased, brewers were told to address the problem by boiling larger volumes of wort. (Buying fresh extract also helped.) This helped to a degree, but homebrewers wishing to make very pale beers were often left disappointed.

In the early 2000s, homebrewers started withholding a portion of their malt extract until the end of the boil. The idea behind this was that brewery-grade malt extract was made from wort had already been boiled. It did not require the long boil that all-grain wort does to coagulate the break material. All that is required is some time exposed to heat to sanitize it. In addition, by boiling your hops in low-gravity wort — made from steeping grains and small amount of malt extract — your hop utilization would improve when compared to boiling them in a very high gravity wort. This way of brewing — sometimes called the late extract addition method — quickly became standard practice.

Although everyone does this now, new brewers may wonder why and intermediate brewers may wonder about some of the variables in the process. With that in mind, here is a rundown of adding malt extract late in the boil and how it influences the character of your beer.

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Chicken in Witbier


Chicken in witbier

A few weeks ago, I found a recipe for chicken in beer at the Saveur website. Since this was one thing I like in another thing I like, I decided to try it and it turned out great. The second time I prepared it, I made some modifications and I present that recipe below. Specifically, I decided to withhold the bacon until the end (so it stayed crispy), and to sauté the onions in the leftover bacon fat. I also added garlic and subtracted the juniper berries from the original recipe (because of the added coriander and orange peel in the witbier).

The recipe is very easy to make. It takes a bit of chopping, but once that’s done, just let the dish simmer until you’re ready to eat. The second time I made this, I made a double batch of the sauce overnight in my large slow cooker. The longer cooking time lead to a darker sauce and the vegetables broke down more, but it was still tasty. Also, because the steam couldn’t escape the crock pot, the sauce was thinner. However, whether cooking for a longer or shorter period of time, in a pot versus a slow cooker, the recipe is going to turn out tasting great.  [Read more…]

The Cure from Cork (3-Gallon/11-L All-Grain Dry Stout Recipe)


Mmmm . . . dry stout.

Here is an all-grain recipe for a dry stout that can be brewed on a simple 3-gallon (11-L) all-grain brewery. It is the same as the 5-gallon (19-L) all-grain recipe, just scaled to 3 gallons (11 L). (There is also a 5-gallon (19-L) partial mash version.) This same brewery setup can be used for countertop partial mashes.

This recipe is not meant to be a clone of Murphy’s Pub Draught, but it is very similar. At a low ABV (4.1%), it makes a great session beer. In addition, if you’re trying to shed a few pounds, the Calorie count for 12 oz. (355 mL) of dry stout is around 125.

For 3.0 gallons (11 L) of beer at this original gravity (9.5 °Plato, OG 1.038) , you do not need to make a yeast starter when using a tube or XL smack pack of liquid yeast. In fact, you’ll be overpitching slightly (although not to a degree that will negatively affect your beer). One key to brewing this beer well is not to oversparge. Follow the volume of wort to collect given in the recipe rather than sparging until you have your full pre-boil volume.


The Cure from Cork 

(Murphy’s-like Dry Stout)

by Chris Colby

All-grain; English units



This is a dry stout reminiscent of Murphy’s Pub Draught, now sold in widget cans. Murphy’s stout is slightly mellower — a little less bitter with a hint of chocolate and caramel in the malt — than Guinness, and (in my opinion) also tastes better when carbonated with CO2, as opposed to pushed with beer gas. If you like session ales — and are disappointed you can’t find Murphy’s except in widget cans — this is a great recipe to try.

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Beer News (Feb 18–23)


Logo by John Weerts.

Last week, I kicked off the news roundup with a reminder that brewing can be hazardous. Here’s a good article that outlines the various dangers of brewing, from Chicago’s Solemn Oath brewery. This mostly applies to brewing on a commercial scale, but some of it translates to homebrewers. And, what compilation of beer news is complete without some sort of listicle? Here’s the 5 beers you must try for New York City’s Beer Week, according to Gothamist. Also, here’s a list of spring seasonal beers being released in the United States.

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Patrick Henry Pale Ale (3-gallon/11-L All-Grain Recipe)


“Give me liberty or give me . . . you know, what, liberty will great. I’ll stick with liberty.”

With small batch brewing taking off in popularity and readers of this site enjoying the article about my simple 3-gallon (11-L) all-grain brewery, I decided to post a series of all-grain recipes scaled to 3 gallons (11 L). I’ve already posted my porter, and here’s my pale ale. (For reference, see the 5-gallon (19-L) recipe, or countertop partial mash formulation, if you’d like.)

For 3 gallons (11 L) of beer at this original gravity (13 °Plato, OG 1.052) , you do not need to make a yeast starter when using a tube or XL smack pack of liquid yeast.


Patrick Henry Pale Ale

by Chris Colby

All-grain; English units



This is my basic American-style pale ale. I’ve brewed this recipe — slightly tweaking it every time — over 30 times and it’s a great “go-to” beer. I really like the combination of Centennial, Cascade and Amarillo late hops and I use this combo in most of my other pale-ale-like beers, including my sweet potato ESB. The only non-standard part of this recipe is the tiny amount of chocolate malt added. This changes the hue of the beer slightly, and can be omitted if you want.

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Wheat IPA


A shock of wheat. (Photo courtesy USDA.)

India pale ale (IPA) is by far the most popular type of craft brew in the United States, and commercial brewers have responded by coming up with a variety of “spin-offs” of American IPA. One variation is wheat IPA, of which one of the earliest and most popular examples is Lagunitas’ Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’. The brewery describes it as “A filtered pale wheat ale that is great for both IPA and wheat beer fans.” Wheat IPAs combine the hoppy goodness of an American IPA with the crisp, bread-like, “zing” from an American-style wheat beer into one very tasty beer. (My wife loves the Lagunitas brew.) Here’s how to brew one at home.

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3-Gallon All-Grain Recipe Series (I: Porter)


Mmmm . . . porter.

Back in August of last year, I posted an article about my 3-gallon (11-L) all-grain brewing setup. I have a fancy schmancy 10-gallon (38-L) all-grain rig, composed of three 15-gallon (57 L) pots on a frame . . . and a nice 5-gallon (19 L) brewery, composed of two 10-gallon (19-L) pots and a (legally) converted half-barrel for the HLT . . . and in a pinch I have a 20-gallon (76 L) pot and a propane burner stand that will hold it. But I digress.

Nonetheless, with my simple 3.0-gallon (11-L) all-grain brewing setup, I can brew in my kitchen and escape the heat of summer. And there are several fringe benefits to brewing at this scale. The biggest is that you don’t need to make a yeast starter when using liquid yeast at specific gravities around 13 ° Plato (roughly 1.052) or less. One fresh White Labs tube or Wyeast XL smack pack, at 100 billion cells, is sufficient. Also, if you don’t have a fermentation chamber, the wet T-shirt method works well at this scale (as the surface area to volume ratio is higher in smaller batches). Plus, your heating and cooling times can be very quick, making for a somewhat shorter brew day. In addition, you don’t need to use a wort chiller — cooling the brewpot in your kitchen sink works fine if you have the time to change the cooling water several times and 5–10 lbs. (~2.5–5 kg) of ice for the final leg of cooling. In retrospect, I really wish I had thought of this when I was living in an apartment in Boston. The only downside is that you yield 3 gallons (11 L) of beer rather than 5 gallons (19 L). [Read more…]