Archives for February 2016

BrewDog Releases Its Recipes


Not a dog.

The Scottish brewery BrewDog has released a .pdf file containing all of its recipes in 5.0-gallon (19-L) homebrew recipe form. (Scroll down the page to the link in the middle to download the file.)

Many breweries have been helpful to homebrewers over the years, giving out their recipes to brewing magazines, homebrew clubs, and individual brewers. But, I can only think of a couple breweries that self-published their beer recipes as homebrew recipes. Jester King published some of theirs awhile ago and . . . help me out. If you know of a commercial brewery website with homebrew recipes posted on it, drop me a line at chris at beerandwinejournal dot com and send me the link. I’ll compile them and post the list. (Don’t bother with clone recipes posted on other sites for now, just homebrew recipes posted on the brewery’s own website.)

[Update: Stone published its recipe for Stone Pale Ale, when it discontinued that brand. They’ve also published a book with many of their recipes and even gave this website a clone recipe (see below).]

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Two Brew Days


Pale ale (left) and porter (right) on Saturday. I’ve protected the fermenting beer with T-shirts over the fermenters, but took them off for the picture.

I’ve been busy lately. In November, December, and the first part of January, I was writing my first book — a collection of homebrew recipes with additional information about the techniques or ingredients featured in each recipe. I spent 9 hours a day, 6 days a week (7 near the end) writing and revising the manuscript. It’s scheduled to be published in October.

I’m biased, of course, but I think it’s going to be a useful book for homebrewers. In any case, I was excited to have the opportunity to write it and I hope everyone enjoys and benefits from it.

Two weeks ago, the photographer came out to my house and shot the pictures for the book. As part of that week, I brewed two beers, with him documenting every step. Here’s a quick recap of those brew days.

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Hops Lose Alpha Acids in Storage (Part 3 of 3)

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A spreadsheet (Apple Pages) used to calculate alpha acid loss over time.

In the previous post, I related a quick and dirty way to estimate the loss in alpha acids of hops over time, assuming they were stored in a freezer. That method was based on two measured variables (initial alpha acid percentage and amount left after 6 months at 68 °F/20 °C), plus a couple “guesstimations” — how the rate of loss changed at colder temperatures and a linear extrapolation from the initial condition through the one “data” point.

We would expect the loss of alpha acids to be an exponential function. So, it’s almost certain the simple model underestimates hop losses prior to six months and overestimates them after 6 months — although the deviations should be small. Using the simple method is better than not accounting for the losses at all, but there is a more accurate way of estimating the alpha acids if you’re willing to put in a little more work. [Read more…]

Hops Lose Alpha Acids In Storage (Part 2 of 3)

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Alpha acid loss in two hop varieties over time, estimated from data from Hop Union. (In reality, the rate of loss is likely not linear. See the next article for more details.)

As I detailed in the first half of this article, hop alpha acids levels decline during storage. Proper handling can slow the degradation of the alpha acids, but even properly stored hops gradually lose their bitterness over time. In this post, we’ll examine if the loss if alpha acids is great enough to matter, and how to account for it if you do wish to take it into consideration. [Read more…]

Hops Lose Alpha Acids Over Time (Part 1 of 3)

HopBagAlphaLet’s say you buy an ounce of Cascade hops and it says 6.0% alpha acids on the package. What is the percentage of alpha acids in your hops? This might seem like a trick question, but it isn’t. Alpha acids decay over time and the percentage listed on the package represents the level when the hops were analyzed. The number may be substantially lower when you brew with them. In each hemisphere, hops are harvested once a year. Once harvested, the clock is ticking on their alpha acid levels. For advanced homebrewers — especially those brewing hoppy beers in the few months leading up to the next hop harvest — it pays to understand what is going on and how you can adjust for it.

The major variables contributing to the decline in alpha acid levels are temperature, exposure to oxygen, exposure to light, and the variety of hops. As a homebrewer, you should store your hops in a way that minimizes their degradation.

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Hitting Your OG (Part 3 of 3: Over) 

IMG_1912Most of the time, when we miss our target original gravity (OG), we are low. However, it can happen that your extract efficiency is higher than you expect and your OG ends up being higher than you planned for. The most frequent causes of this adjusting your grain mill to a smaller gap, using a new base malt, or just learning the ropes and starting to get the hang of things. As with coming in low, you have a couple options.

The first option, of course, is to just accept the higher OG and brew a stronger beer than you intended. If you were brewing a hoppy beer, you might want to adjust the hop amounts up slightly to take the lowered hop utilization into account. However, unless you’re way over your target OG, you can probably just add your hops as planned and be fine.

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