Lager Fermented At Ale Temperatures?

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Warm Fermented Lager

Fermenting a beer with a lager yeast at ale temperatures. There are probably a few purists that will say the beer will end up a mess of off flavours and fusel alcohols. I have bent the rules however and done this very thing, fermented a lager yeast at 18°C and the result, is quite simply, a fantastic beer!

The term lager is not really appropriate to a beer fermented at ale temperatures. One of the most distinguishing features of lager is that it is matured in cold storage (store/storeroom is the literal translation of lager). The other defining feature of lager however, is the yeast strain used to ferment it. Ales are fermented with top fermenting yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and lagers are fermented with a different species of yeast (Saccharomyces pastorianus) which are bottom fermenting.

It’s safe to say a lager made at ale temperatures cannot be called a lager at all, it is a hybrid beer. Will it taste like a lager, though? Or will it taste like a complete mess? Depending on your recipe and the lager yeast strain you use, it can taste just like a lager, there may be some differences in a side by side comparison but you get a lot of the same characteristics as well as a delicious beer in its own right.

If you would prefer a more traditional lager recipe you will find my go to Pilsner recipe here.

Warm Temperature Lager Yeast Strains

When choosing a yeast strain to use you have to do a little research. If you look at the note released with each strain provided by the manufacturer you can easily find suitable lager yeast strains that can deal with higher temperatures without producing a lot of undesirable flavours. It should be noted, not all lager yeast strains are going to make a pleasant beer if you ferment them warm.

Every yeast lab will give you recommended fermenting temperatures for each yeast strain they produce. As an example take the dry yeast from Fermentis:

Saflager W-34/70, it states right on the front of the packet the recommended fermentation temperature range is between 9 – 22°C, this is something I only first noticed from a post on Brulosophy, the range does seem incredibly wide.

Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager is another yeast strain I have experimented with. Bohemian Lager, this is another yeast strain that has the detail we are looking for right in the notes from the lab;

A versatile strain, that is great to use with lagers or Pilsners for fermentations in the 45-55°F (8-12°C) range. It may also be used for Common beer production with fermentations at 65-68°F (18-20°C).

If you spend a little time looking up various yeast strains it is possible to find something you can use in an unconventional way. These two strains just go to show that yeast can be a very versatile ingredient of a beer recipe.

Common Beer

In the quote from Wyeast above, you may have noticed the term Common beer. This refers to an American lager beer style like California Common or Steam Beer. One notable example of a common is Anchor Steam Beer. The defining features of these American Lagers are that they are fermented with lager yeast strains at higher than usual temperatures.

This quote from the BJCP guidelines gives us an idea why these lagers are fermented warmer:

Large shallow open fermenters (coolships) were traditionally used to compensate for the absence of refrigeration and to take advantage of the cool ambient temperatures in the San Francisco Bay area. Fermented with a lager yeast, but one that was selected to thrive at the cool end of normal ale fermentation temperatures.

Common beers are usually fermented around 14 – 18°C, which, as you can see is just in the ballpark of an ale fermentation temperature. This makes the case for using lager yeast at warmer temperatures even stronger, one particular yeast strain that is synonymous with steam beer is WLP810 San Francisco Lager yeast from white labs. The recommended fermentation range for this yeast is between 15 – 18°C.

California Common is not a beer that is widely produced in the UK, I’m not too sure why this is but there are many hundreds of examples brewed in the US that the British drinker may be familiar with, the previously mentioned Anchor Steam and Flying Dog Amber Lager are a couple of examples.

Designing A Warm Fermented Lager Recipe

Now we know there are some lager yeast strains that can turn out a beer when fermented warm then we can think of how to make a beer around them. I decided that there was not much point in following any particular style guidelines for this kind of beer. You could, of course, follow a particular lager recipe if you wanted.

I know that I wanted a beer that was light in colour like a pilsner but also that uses ingredients that were closer to home just like the early California Common brewers would do.

It’s for this reason I have chosen a grain bill made up of 50% Pilsner malt and 50% Extra Pale Maris Otter. Extra pale Maris Otter is a grain I’ve been using a lot recently and it provides some of the character of Maris Otter we all know while lending itself to lighter coloured beers.

The hops are a combination of Perle from Germany and a classic hop variety for lagers alongside East Kent Golding to give the lager an earthy and floral note.

The yeast strain in this beer is the most important part of the recipe. I chose Saflager W-34/70 and held the fermentation temperature at 18°C, there was plenty of sulphur notes coming from the fermenter on the nose but not very much at all, if any, in the taste when the beer was bottled. Whether you agree with me or not this yeast strain has made a delicious lager and I am in the process of experimenting a little more with these “common” style beers.

 

Maris Otter EP Lager - Dortmunder Export
================================================================================
Batch Size: 18.000 L
Boil Size: 21.000 L
Boil Time: 60.000 min
Efficiency: 70%
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.013
ABV: 5.2%
Bitterness: 22.3 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 6 SRM (Morey)

Fermentables
================================================================================
                   Name  Type   Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
 Pale Malt, Maris Otter Grain 2.300 kg    Yes   No   82%   6 L
     Pilsner (2 Row) UK Grain 2.300 kg    Yes   No   78%   2 L
Total grain: 4.600 kg

Hops
================================================================================
    Name Alpha   Amount  Use       Time Form  IBU
   Perle  8.0% 20.000 g Boil 60.000 min Leaf 17.9
   Perle  8.0% 10.000 g Boil 10.000 min Leaf  3.2
 Golding  5.0% 10.000 g Boil  5.000 min Leaf  1.1

Yeast
================================================================================
           Name  Type Form    Amount   Stage
 Saflager Lager Lager  Dry 11.000 mL Primary

Mash
================================================================================
               Name     Type   Amount     Temp   Target       Time
            Mash In Infusion 11.960 L 73.092 C 65.556 C 75.000 min
 Final Batch Sparge Infusion 11.031 L 87.450 C 75.556 C 15.000 min

 
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Brewing Beers With A Quick Turnaround

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Quick To Brew Beers

Is It Possible To Go From Grain To Glass In 10 Days?

Brewing a quick turnaround beer or a “fast” beer is entirely possible and something I have done before in a pinch. Today we will look at some of the factors to take note of brewing a beer quickly.

You have just gone to get a bottle of home brew from the fridge, there are only a couple left. You check the keg you started a few weeks back and there is only a few pints left. Pretty soon you’ll be all out of beer. If you brew fairly regularly then you may have had the experience of getting caught out in a position like this. What you need is a home brew that has a quick turnaround. From grain to glass in as short of a period as possible. You want to get the fridge stocked and a keg filled.

Of course taking your time with each batch of beer is likely to yield the best results in the long term. There are ways, however, of making good beer that don’t require lot’s of time to be ready. It is a case of thinking about the way beer conditions and ages and then building your recipe around this.

How To Brew Quick Turnaround Beers

The length of time it takes for a beer to be ready is variable. A lot of factors can make affect the time from grain to glass. Trying to compress this period to get a beer ready to drink requires a little bit of thought.

There are definitely beer styles that you won’t be able to brew quickly and you can take off the list. High gravity beers and sour beers require a lot of time fermenting and conditioning to be contenders for a quick turnaround beer. The same applies to lagers which take much longer to ferment at low temperatures than ales fermented at warmer temperatures (although commercial brewers even turn lager out quickly).

Now we have excluded a few beer styles it gives us a bit more direction on what we should be looking to brew. A beer that has a low starting gravity will ferment quicker than a high gravity beer and a quick fermenting ale yeast to shorten the time it takes to get to final gravity.

The Importance of Yeast For Brewing Beers Quickly

When brewing any beer the biggest chunk of time from the brewday to getting the beer kegged or bottled is the fermentation and conditioning period. If you can shorten this phase of making the beer then the turnaround will be much quicker.

This fermentation and conditioning phase is all down to the yeast and the environment they have in the wort you produce. Producing a wort that has ideal conditions and pitching the right amount of healthy, viable yeast cells will mean they can ferment the wort and produce less undesirable flavours during the process. Reusing yeast from a previous batch is an ideal way to pitch enough yeast.

Choosing A “Fast” Yeast Strain

Selecting a yeast strain to ferment a beer quickly means you need to look for certain traits. The best strains will likely have the following characteristics:

High attenuation – High attenuation means the yeast will ferment out to a low final gravity and usually in a timely fashion

Highly flocculant – High flocculation will result in the yeast dropping out of suspension quickly so once fermentation is complete the beer clears a lot quicker. Although wheat beer strains are an exception

Tolerates higher fermentation temperatures – If you can ferment a beer warmer, around 22°C for example, the yeast will attenuate out much faster than at 18°C. Optimal ranges for yeast are always listed on the package, at these higher end of these optimal ranges the yeast will ferment quicker without producing undesirable compounds such as higher alcohols and phenols.

Picking yeast strains with these traits will usually result in faster fermenting beers and beers that condition a lot quicker than usual.

Utilising Bold & Strong Flavours

“Fast” brewed beers can suffer from being “green”. In other words, most beers take a little time for the flavours and byproducts created during fermentation to even out and round off. This is why we want to choose a yeast strain that limits the production of byproducts that will affect the taste of the beer.

Conditioning the beer for a period of a few weeks to allow the flavour to round out really isn’t an option if you want to brew a beer quickly and be drinking it in around 10 days. If however we make a lower alcohol, bold flavoured beer any potential undesirable flavours can be overwhelmed so you don’t notice their presence. Clean tasting or subtle beers are usually best avoided for quick to brew beers.

Choosing roasted grains and caramel malts with bags of flavour will fill the palate when you drink it, the same is true of using bold, fruity and citrusy hops. When you fill a beer with flavour any undesirable flavours that are a consequence of short brewing times get disguided.

A Couple of Examples

  • Make a 4% ABV Stout and the dominant flavour you are going to taste straight from the fermenter is toasty, roasty, chocolate and toffee notes. Big bold flavours will always shine.
  • A Session Pale Ale of around 3.8% with bags of hops added at the end of the boil. The main flavour will be these aroma hops even before the beer has been carbonated the flavours fill the mouth
  • A 3.2% Mild although being a really low ABV has complex malt driven flavour. Mild are a definite contender for being one of the best fast to brew beers.
  • A 4.5% wheat beer although it uses simple fairly neutral tasting ingredients has one of the boldest tasting yeast strains. Wheat beers are also hazy by nature so flocculation of the yeast isn’t really a concern.

Packaging & Carbonating Your Beer

A truly quick beer will need to be kegged and force carbonated, a process that will take far less time than bottling and waiting for the beer to carbonate over a week or two. Once the beer is racked into a keg you can add CO2 immediately by either shaking the keg or if you have one using a carbonation stone. This will easily carbonate the beer within 24 hours and you can start pouring straight away.

If you have no other option than to bottle the beer, you will have to wait at least a week to achieve any kind of carbonation. The process can be sped along a little by holding the bottles at around 26°C for 3 – 4 days. This is how many commercial breweries bottle condition beers by using warm rooms. After a few days, you can let the bottles condition at normal temperature and check the carbonation by opening a bottle. Once carbonated the bottles can be chilled and served as and when needed.

Our Malt Extract Beer Kits & What’s Coming Next

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As you may or may not be aware, there is now a shop here on Home Brew Answers primarily selling small batch malt extract beer kits. When I initially setup this website the whole point was to get more people brewing. When I tell people I brew they are always interested. It’s not always the easiest hobby to explain in a conversation so Home Brew Answers is where I try to direct people.

The first article I published here was “How To Make A Beer Kit”. It is still one of the most popular pages here. It seemed pretty obvious that I should do something to try and make beer kits a little bit better than the old “Kit and Kilo” (beer kits that rely on plain sugar) type of brewing kits that new brewers start out with.

That is why I chose to make all the core small batch beer kits in the range using malt extract, plus steeped grains, hops and quality dried yeast.

Beer Kits

Why Malt Extract Beer Kits?

Malt extract is a great way to make beer and that’s why we have chosen it for the core beer kits in our range. The quality of malt extracts available today is a lot better than a few years ago, plus the range of malt extracts mean you can brew a large range of beers without having to compromise or be limited on which styles to brew.

When we set about designing our malt extract beer kits the primary goal was to brew beers with maximum flavour, clean tasting with no undesirable characters. If we couldn’t do that using malt extract, we wouldn’t use it at all.

What Is Malt Extract?

All of our beer kits currently use dried malt extract. You can get both liquid malt extract (LME) or dry malt extract (DME). The beauty of dry malt extract is its stability is a lot better than LME which can pick up flavours in storage and dried extract is far easier to handle and package in the correct quantities.

The way any malt extract is made, is in a brewery. We use Muntons malt extract who have a commercial brewing facility. They take malted barley and add it to a vessel called a mash tun to convert the starches in the malt to sugar, a process called the mash. This is exactly what pretty much every commercial brewery in the world does to make a beer. The grain is separated from the liquid which is now called wort. After this the wort is boiled exactly the same as a commercial brewery would do. At this point, however, the wort is concentrated by boiling to create a syrup which is liquid malt extract or, alternatively, dried completely by spraying the wort into a heated chamber to make a powder which is dry malt extract.

Malt extract beer kits are just one step away from brewing beer like a commercial brewery would.

Malt Extract Beer Kits Are A Lot More Consistent

This process means one step of brewing is completed by a commercial brewery. The product we use, malt extract, is consistent every single time. It will produce the same results and therefore using it in a beer kit means you can consistently create the same beer no matter who brews it.

We spend a lot of time brewing and re-brewing each beer before it gets made into a beer kit to sell on Home Brew Answers. You could say we are well versed in what you can and cannot do with malt extract beers. The thing is there are far too many benefits to brewing with extract to not develop beers using it. If you have ever made one of our extract beer kits you’ll know just how easy it is to use.

First of all utilising malt extract as a base for our beers means you the brewer get a consistent result. All grain brewing has a lot of variables to control which impact the final beer, by removing the mash and using malt extract our beer kits are a lot more consistent when you are starting out, meaning you get a better tasting beer.

Secondly brewing a malt extract beer kit require less equipment and smaller size vessels than brewing an all grain beer. We want anyone to be able to brew and for it to be as accessible as possible meaning the cost to get started brewing is lower

Adding Special Malts To Our Beer Kits Builds Flavour

We use malt extract as a base for our beer kits. On top of this, we select grains for each of our recipes that add layers of flavour, colour and body. These speciality grains are steeped before the malt extract is added, the steeping extracts complex flavours and colours.

It’s these speciality malts that allow us to brew a stout that is almost black in colour and also a very light pale ale, both these beers use the same malt extract but 90% of the malt flavour comes from steeping these special malts.

Using a combination of malt extract and steeping grains gives you the best of both worlds, it makes brewing a lot quicker and simpler but also enables you to create complex and unique flavours and beer styles. Plus this method it so much more adaptable than pretty much every other beer kit on the market.

What’s Next For Home Brew Answers Beer Kits?

The range of beer kits is slowly expanding, there are plans for more beer kits in different styles. Each one we release is brewed multiple times and tweaked to get it just right so this process takes time. Eventually, we want to offer a wide range of beer styles and unique seasonal beer kits too.

All Grain Beer Kits

At the same time as developing more extract kits, we are shortly going to be releasing small batch all grain beer kits. These are going to make the same amount of beer, 8 litres, which will use primarily all the same equipment as the extract beer kits.

This means if you have bought the complete brewing equipment kit here then the only further item you’ll need is a mashing bag which we have sourced and are ready to stock.

 

Small batch German Wheat just hitting the boil #homebrew #wheat #smallbatch #beer #weißen

A post shared by Neil (@homebrewanswers) on

All grain beer kits will open up the possibilities of which beer recipes we can create so the possibilities will be almost limitless. We have already developed a German Weissbier and a New England IPA that are ready to go.

Any Suggestions / Feedback

If you have any suggestions on the sort of beer styles, types of beer kits or just anything you would like to see available in the shop please drop a comment below or email. Cheers

 

 

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The Rise Of One Gallon Beer Making

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A new trend has emerged in the world of home brewing, the rise of the “One Gallon Brewer”.

It had to happen sooner or later, it is obvious to see that not everyone is going to want 5 gallons of beer at a time. It’s a large barrier of entry to invest both the time and money in producing 5 gallon batches in a hobby that should be easy to get started in.

one gallon beer making kits

Why The Small Batches?

I am a fan of making smaller batches, I’ve written a fair bit about why, here and here. I am pretty sure that if I started home brewing again today I would be looking at brewing one gallon brews or at least smaller batches than 5 gallons. To start with there is a lot less space and cost in getting all the equipment you need together. I am a fairly cost conscious person and to see that you can get started brewing small one gallon batches for less than £100 including the cost of the ingredients for your first batch is much more desirable than spending, say, £300 up to £600 or more to brew 5 gallon batches.

I believe it is also due to the way modern craft beer is marketed that has drawn home brewers to one gallon beer making. A lot of the marketing and branding of craft brewers focusses on the fact that small batch is better than macro brewing. Small breweries put more care, craft and thought behind producing their beers than big brewing corporations. It might not necessarily be true but it does emphasise the point that smaller is better somehow.

This is also reflected in the kind of people who choose to start with one gallon beer kits. Like craft beer, which has a younger, more mixed audience than more traditional real ales and beers one gallon brewers seem to be younger with more women getting involved. There is a lot more coverage by sites like The Kitchn whose audience is more mixed than one of the many home brew forums. This is great for home brewing as a hobby. A YouGov poll shows around 75% of people in the UK, interested in home brewing are male and I have to say I thought this percentage was going to be close to 90%.

One gallon brewing seems to be attracting a new demographic to home brewing. You don’t have to be exiled in the shed, garage or even just outside to make a one gallon beer. You brew in the kitchen standing by the hob just like you would if you were cooking a meal or baking a cake.

Baking is a hobby that seems to get increasingly popular every time “The Great British Bake Off” come on television. I’ve seen comments on social media asking for a home brewing equivalent, the problem is though, watching someone brew a beer is a lot less interesting than watching people make cakes. The point is, though, by making brewing more like cooking it will appeal to much wider range of people. One gallon beer making has the power to do that because it is exactly like cooking.

Start One Gallon Beer Making

Now that I’ve just gone on about one gallon brewing and how accessible it is I guess I should explain the best way to get started. What is the best method to go from knowing nothing about brewing to knocking out your first one gallon batch?

One of these beer making kits.

Brewing Starter Kit

I know I may have a vested interest in this but I created these beer recipe kits to make them as easy as possible and use a minimal amount of equipment. Technically they are not one gallon kits they actually make 1.75 gallons of beer. This is because they are malt extract you can squeeze out a little extra beer from the same size brew pot as you would need to make one gallon of all grain beer. The 0.75 extra gallons of beer is a bonus.

All of the beer kits you see here are based on recipes I have brewed many times, tweaked and perfected so I can guarantee they make great tasting beer. This is the perfect way to go from knowing nothing about brewing to brewing a beer that will be much better than any tinned beer kit you can get at the home brew shop.

If you do want to dabble with a one gallon all grain batch though I have luckily written a few guides to show you what can be done with only a tiny amount of equipment.

This beginner guide will tell you everything you need to make a one gallon batch or even a two gallon beer recipe. It is especially useful if you don’t know the first thing about malts, hops or fermentation and mashing.

This shorter guide shows the process I use to knock out small one gallon beer recipes on the stove, it does assume you know a little more about brewing.

Take a look at one of the guides above and you can see just how simple brewing small batch beers can be. It can be the foundation you need to get started home brewing and then progress onwards to making larger batches. A lot of new brewers will skip straight to 5 gallon batches immediately and then find actually perfecting the process of brewing is a little trickier when you end up with 40 bottles of home brew to store and eventually drink after each batch.

One Gallon Beer Recipes

The great thing about beer recipes is they are easy to modify to your needs. Pretty much all beer recipes published on the internet are formulated to make somewhere around 5 gallons. I have written a guide on scaling beer recipes here but it pretty simple so to scale a beer recipe just do the following:

Scaling a beer recipe by volume is easy. Take all of the ingredients in the recipe, this will include each type of grain, hop, yeast, spice, fruit or other flavourings listed. Divide by the volume listed for the recipe and then multiply by the volume you intend to brew. It’s that simple.
As an example If a 21 litre recipe calls for 3.5kg of Maris Otter and you intend to brew 15 litres simply do the following:

 

3.5 / 21 * 15 = 2.5 – so you would need 2.5kg of Maris Otter for the recipe.

 

You then work through each type of grain listed in the recipe to get the amounts used for each type and do exactly the same for each addition of hops as well as the amount of yeast to pitch and any other ingredients.

If you want to scale a 5 gallon beer recipe to brew a one gallon beer recipe take each of the ingredients and divide by 5. That is all you need to do to get the amount of each ingredient in your one gallon beer.

One Gallon At A Time

There may be some of you reading this who think brewing one gallon at a time is not enough. I usually make small batches when experimenting with something new. I don’t want to devote a whole keg or bottle 21 litres of experimental beer. If I like something enough after a small batch I can use it as a pilot and then scale up to a bigger batch so I know I’ll have some beer that is just how I want it ready to go.

Is one gallon brewing or one gallon beer kits going to make home brewing more popular? I hope so. It seems people are generally losing interest in home brewing compared to a few years ago, anything to rejuvenate the hobby is welcome in my book.

Minimum Amount of Equipment For An All Grain Brew

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The Minimum All Grain Brewing Setup

I spent last weekend brewing an all grain beer in the kitchen, using the minimum of equipment and I can tell you, it was the most relaxed brewday I think I ever had. It wasn’t by any means a demanding beer to brew, just a small batch of easy drinking German wheat beer. Rather than spending a day in the shed or outside (it was raining) I brewed in the kitchen on the stove watching the rain run down the window.

All the equipment I used would have fit into a space smaller than the cupboard under your kitchen sink. The batch size was a modest 9 litres, around 18 bottles. The ingredients cost £7.00 for everything, malt, hops and yeast. This has got to be the easiest way to get into all grain brewing, right?

When you first start all grain brewing you follow the advice of buying a 30 litre boiler or brewpot and burner, a mash tun that can hold up to 8 kilos of grain plus 20 litres of water, immersion chillers, sanitary valves and fittings. It’s quite a big barrier of entry and probably the reason why most brewers never start brewing all grain beers from the first batch.

I mentioned this quite recently, brewing can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. I like to try and simplify as much of the brewing process as possible because I find there is less to worry about when making a beer. I don’t want to be rushing around trying to deal with lots of stuff happening at the same time, I prefer to relax and concentrate on making the best beer I can with the minimum steps necessary for that particular type of beer.

Smaller Can Be Better

It’s clear if you want to minimise the amount of equipment you have, or the amount of space you want to dedicate to brewing then you will be limited to making smaller batches. If the amount of space you have is limited, for example, if you live in a small flat/apartment then the setup we will go into below is a great place to start.

The other great thing about smaller batches is you can brew more often without having lots of beer piling up. If you are brewing 20 – 25 litres at a time you are going to have a big surplus of beer if you are brewing more than a few times a month, even if you are giving your beer away. A smaller batch around 8 – 10 litres means you could brew every week and have multiple beer styles ready to drink at all times without having a cases of beer all over the house.

Brewing more often gives you that practice that we all need in order to improve. The more often you do anything the better you get at it. The same principle applies brewing beer, smaller batches more often means you hone your skills and develop your craft. I have written about smaller batches before so check out that article for more of the virtues of small batch beers.

The Basic Brewing Gear You’ll Need

To brew all grain beers you’ll need to have the ability to mash your grains, sparge, boil wort, cool it and ferment the beer. In larger batches it makes sense to have separate vessels and chillers to do these things, and these are largest and costliest pieces of equipment to get started all grain brewing.

Brewing smaller batches means you can get away with a small brewpot of around 12 -15 litres which you will be able to heat on the stove, a mashing bag and a fermenter. This is what I use to make small batch beers and everything fits in a kitchen cupboard. I put the fermenter inside the brew pot and tuck it away.

So, you’ll need the following equipment for small batch all grain brewing:

  • 12 litre Brew Pot
  • 12 litre Fermenter
  • Mashing Bag

You will of course need items like a thermometer, hydrometer and airlock but all these items are inexpensive and take up hardly any space.

Small Batch All Grain Brewing Process

Mashing

Step 1: Put 6 litres of water in your stock pot and begin heating to strike temperature of 72°C. Put your grain bag in the pot and fold the opening over rim of the pot.

Step 2: Ensuring you are at 72°C turn off the heat. Pour the grain into pot and stir thoroughly to ensure there are no dry spots in the grain and everything is well soaked. Take the temperature again it should be around 65°C

Step 3: Put the lid on and leave for an hour. Make a cup of tea, watch TV, read a book all you need to do is maintain the temperature between 62°C and 69°C. Check every now and again and apply heat if necessary.

Step 4: Towards the end of the hour, heat another 6 litres of water to 80°C and put in the fermenting bucket. If you don’t have another pot big enough use a big pan and the kettle and add 4 litres of boiling water to 2 litres of cold water this will give you a temperature around 70-80°C.

Sparging

Sparging

Step 1: After the hour has elapsed carefully lift up the grain bag from the stock pot and allow as much as possible to drain back into the pot. Once you have drained thoroughly without squeezing the bag gently lower the bag into the fermenting bucket full of water. Again tuck the opening around the rim and stir the grains thoroughly again.

Step 2: Leave for 15 minutes.

Step 3: Lift the grain bag once more and allow to drain as much as possible. Put this to one side I would suggest in a bowl to catch any extra drips. Now carefully pour the contents of the fermenting bucket into the stock pot. Begin bringing to the boil slowly.

Boiling

Step 1: Now that it is boiling it’s time to add the hops. Again be careful the hops will add to the foaming so make sure it’s under control before putting them in.

Step 2: Keep boiling for 60 minutes adding hops when indicated on your beer recipe.

Step 4: Remove from the heat and begin cooling. The easiest ways to do this is place the pot in a cold water bath in the sink and replenish the cold water as the heat transfers.

Step 5: This cooling should take 30 or 40 minutes to get to around 20°C. It is now time to pour the beer into your sterilised fermenting bucket. Make sure you’re on the correct temperature ready to pitch the yeast. This will be written on the tube or packet. Pour it straight in the beer.

Step 6: Fit the lid on the fermenting bucket and fit the airlock in the hole with a small amount of water in.

Fermenting

Step 1: Leave for 2 weeks.

Step 2: All activity in the fermenting vessel should have finished. There should be no bubbles emerging from the airlock. If there is still activity then stay patient and wait a few more days.

Step 3: Package or bottle as normal.

The Cheapest & Simplest Way To Start All Grain Brewing

As you can see the process is pretty simple. I find that making small batches like this takes around 3 hours and then however long it takes to let the beer chill for. It’s a lot quicker than brewing 20 litres batches.

The beauty of brewing small batches like this is you can make pretty much any recipe you find. As you are all grain brewing there are no grains you cannot use and you can even do step mashes if you wish because the mash tun can be heated directly.

All you need to do is scale down any recipe you want to brew. This guide will show you how to scale down a recipe and adjust it for your needs.

How To Make Beer In The 1800’s

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Brewing In The 1800s

One of the fascinating things about beer is the history behind it, brewing techniques are often still the same in principle as used by brewers over 200 years ago. Most of the language used to describe the brewing process is the same as what we would use today.

It’s nice that beer has been around such a long time because it makes the subject something that you can seemingly never stop learning something new about. One of the joys of being a brewer, however, is the chance to make and drink a beer that is not possible to get anywhere else in the world.

Yeah, that’s right, if you think about it the beers you are able to brew are beers that nobody has been able to go into a shop and pub and buy in hundreds and hundreds of years. Think of another example of where history has been so accessible to the average person.

Brewers and beer makers like to document a lot of the stuff they did. This means that brewers today can see what was happening in the brewing industry in 1736 for example. I have always been intrigued by this sort of stuff and one of the best things about historical texts is that they are available for free on the web. What I have done is supply a few links to some of the ones I thought were pretty interesting. There are loads of books available online so if you find some then let me know.

The London and Country Brewer (1736)

The many Inhabitants of Cities and Towns, as well as Travellers, that have for a long time suffered great Prejudices from unwholsome and unpleasant Beers and Ales, by the badness of Malts, underboiling the Worts, mixing injurious Ingredients, the unskilfulness of the Brewer, and the great Expense that Families have been at in buying them clogg’d with a heavy Excise, has moved me to undertake the writing of this Treatise on Brewing, Wherein I have endeavour’d to set in sight the many advantages of Body and Purse that may arise from a due Knowledge and Management in Brewing Malt Liquors, which are of the greatest Importance, as they are in a considerable degree our Nourishment and the common Diluters of our Food; so that on their goodness depends very much the Health and Longevity of the Body.

London & Country Brewer

The Theory and Practice of Brewing (1804)

The intent of every brewer, when he forms his drink, is to extract the fermentable parts of the malt, in the most perfect manner ; to add hops, in such proportion as experience teaches him will preserve and ameliorate the beer ; and to employ just so much yeast as is sufficient to obtain a complete fermentation.

The Theory & Practice of Brewing

The Microscope In The Brewery And Malt-House (1889)

At various stages in the Brewing process we can, by the aid of the microscope, determine the presence of organisms of various kinds

The Microscope In The Brewery & The Malt House

A Practical Treatise on Brewing (1835)

The chief art in mashing, is to produce from the malt the greatest quantity of matter which is capable of adding to the flavour and strength of the beer; and this depends principally on the temperature of the liquor employed in making the first mash liquor being the technical word used by brewers to de-note water. The old rule used to be, to let the liquor cool until you could see your face reflected from the surface; this, however, is a very uncertain guide. The thermometer removes all doubt.

A Practical Treatise on Brewing

As you can see brewing a couple of hundred years ago isn’t that much different to brewing today. It still requires the same ingredients, the same basic equipment and a little bit of time and practice. If you want to check out a more recent guide to home brewing however then read through some of the home brewing guides here.

Brewing Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

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I have been home brewing now in one form or another for around 7-8 years. I have settled into a way of making beer that I can now do on autopilot, it’s a process that I’m happy with and I consistently brew a beer that I enjoy. It wasn’t always like this. When I started I was constantly worrying that I had done something wrong, stressing over technique and being so overly thorough about things that my brew days would be several hours longer than they needed to be.

Information Overload When You Start Brewing

Brewing Complicated

When you first start home brewing everything is a challenge or unknown to a certain extent. I didn’t read a whole lot about brewing beer before I made my first batch. It was an extract beer with a little crystal malt steeped for half an hour and a combination of English Hops thrown in. I didn’t know anything about what malt extract was, what crystal malt was or how either were made (I just found a recipe, got the ingredients and made the beer). It turned out to taste exactly like beer, not particularly spectacular beer but still beer.

Brewing Is Not All About The Details, It’s Also An Art

One thing I find amazing about home brewers is their appetite to learn and understand every single detail about the beer making process. Past the point of being able to brew a beer a lot of information that brewers learn can be pretty technical and scientific and often not really necessary because, after all, you are making beer for yourself, it’s not a commercial brewery.

A lot of the information someone new to homebrewing reads online is over complicated because those already good at home brewing include all the technicalities and data relating to a recipe or brewing process they are talking about. This makes it pretty difficult for someone new to brewing to know where to start

When compared to other home based food production such as bread making you don’t really see so much focus on technical detail and minutiae. I bake my own bread a couple of times a month and I’m sure a lot of other people do as well with not much idea about the scientific principles that are happening. OK, so I know a bit about what the yeast in my bread dough is doing but only because of my beer making background. I’m not entirely sure how gluten works or why steam in the oven affects the crust. I’m also not really that bothered because the bread taste good and the texture is great.

The point I’m trying to make is that for hundreds and hundred of years people knew very little or nothing about things like yeast, enzymes, proteins and the various compounds in beer. All the knowledge that went into making beer was found through trial, error and repeated brewing of beers over many, many years. All of this was often on a commercial scale let a alone on a home brew scale.

Practice Brewing Rather Than Dwelling On The Details

It seems today however people can’t make a beer without performing hundred of calculations using software, home brewers aren’t happy knowing a beer will be blonde, ruby coloured or pitch black we need to know the exact SRM to a decimal point.

Let me give you an example, the first loaf of bread I made turned out more like a brick than a light and fluffy loaf. I did the recipe, again and again, altering the amount of time I spent kneading and the time and temperature I left it to prove. Soon enough I was able to make a loaf that was on par with one from a bakery. All of this was with trial and error

Some of the best beers I’ve made have come from recipes I’ve brewed again and again with minor tweaks until I got it just right. After a few times of brewing the same recipe, I ended up forgetting the technical details about it and started focussing on the beer as a whole. I relied more on handwritten notes from the previous beer and trying out new things and run no additional calculations at all. I made the beer on autopilot and adjusted a few minor things.

Think of beers like traditional farmhouse style beers and how they would have been made hundreds of years ago. They rely mainly on craft and making the best use of what’s available in terms of ingredients with little need to understand the technical processes. The same type of beer is made every year and after all those years it becomes a unique beer all of its own.

I think this is something more home brewers should try and incorporate into their beer making.

Asking a first-time brewer to understand all the enzymatic activities that occur in the mash or various flavour compounds that are found in beer and it soon becomes too much. Give them a recipe though and give them options on malts, hops and flavours and it’s much more of a creative process.

Knowledge Is Good, Practice Is Better

I’m not saying that all this extra understanding is a bad thing, it is most certainly not. It obviously helps a brewer to make more informed decisions and when you understand the principles behind something you ultimately have more control. It is also necessary to progress from those early stages of beer making into more advanced areas and understanding how you can get a beer tasting a certain way.

What if however you didn’t rely so heavily on software, calculators and reference guides and rely more on experience and practice. As I mentioned before home brewers aren’t the same as commercial brewers, there are no financial constraints on the beer a home brewer makes, plus, there is only one person to please.

Take one of your beer recipes you’ve brewed previously and make it again or find a recipe online that has plenty of positive feedback, tweak a few things you think will make the beer better and note it down so you can repeat it next time. It’s this kind of thing that will make your beers truly unique. Inject a bit more art into your brewing and learn a bit about the process through actually brewing.

Just Released: Home Brew Answers Kindle Book – A Free Download For Christmas

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Home Brew Answers Book

It has been just over a year since I started Home Brew Answers. The whole idea behind it was to share all my experiences of brewing beer. The site has now grown to see a few thousand visitors a week so I wanted to create something to give back to all of you who take the time to read the articles each week.

Home Brew Answers Book

I have compiled the most viewed and comprehensive guides here and added a little more content to create a Kindle book which is available through Amazon. As you are reading this here I want to give it to you for free.

For the next 5 days, up to and including Christmas day, the book will be free to download to your kindle, tablet, phone or computer as a thank you for following along with me as I share my home brewing journey.

The book is called: Home Brew Answers: A Foundation In Making Beer From Beginner To Advanced.

Please go and download it whilst it is free, tell your friends and, if you want, drop a review on Amazon. After 5 days I cannot offer the book for free anymore so go and get it now. The price will go up as £3.40 which is the price of a pint at my local pub.

Thanks for reading, here is an introduction to the book to get you started.

There are so many craft breweries in the UK, it seems there is a new one opening every week. The sheer variety of beers available to the consumer has never been better. Why then would you want to brew your own beer?

 

It’s not an easy question to answer. You really must give brewing a go before you realise just how compelling it can be. I know from personal experience that brewing beer can become an obsession. I started making beer when I was around 19 years old and now I’m 30, ever since that very first batch I’ve been hooked. Along the way, I have documented my journey right here.

 

I’ve brewed more styles of beer than I can name off the top of my head and have never stopped learning with each batch. The obsession that started me brewing led to me transferring a hobby into a career. I now brew professionally but still find the time to knock up a beer that’s a little more unique when I am brewing at home.

 

Brewing beer for yourself gives you no restrictions. Whatever you feel like can go into the recipe, you want it to be strong and high in alcohol then go ahead, there are no taxes to pay. Maybe you want to add fruit or a flavouring like vanilla, you must only please yourself not hundreds of thirsty customers.

 

I wrote this book to help you get started. To give you a solid foundation in what goes into beer, the processes involved and to get your first beer made. This book isn’t full of beer recipes, although there are a few. What it is full of though, is the what’s, why’s and how’s of making beer.

 

After reading this book you should have a thorough understanding of brewing to build from. You’ll find just like me, you never stop learning something new.

If you have any questions about the book or home brewing in general please contact me here. Have a Merry Christmas!

What Are The Best Home Brewing Books?

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Home Brewing Books

Home brewing books are a secret vice of mine, I seem to accumulate them and it doesn’t really matter what area they cover I will read them cover to cover. If you want to be a better brewer, understand what is going on in the fermenter and really push up your home brew beer to the next level will want to pick up a few home brewing books. You don’t have to be like me and spend a fortune on a home brewing library because I am going to recommend the best home brewing books I have read.

My Picks For Best Home Brewing Books

If you have followed the blog at all you will know that I am a big fan of reading, refining and then practicing what you have learned. Where to start, though? There are so many home brew books available and depending on your level of skill you might want to choose a more advanced one or a complete beginners book. I will start this list though with the first home brewing book I ever bought.

Brew Your Own British Real Ale

 

Out of all the home brewing books I have on the bookshelf, this one, in particular, has by far the most recipes. This is I guess part of the reason for it’s popularity, all of the recipes in Brew Your Own are clones of commercial British Ales. For many brewers being able to duplicate something you can buy in the shops or be able to replicate your favourite beer is a great goal. If you are brewing to save money then being able to obtain the same tasting end result for a fraction of the cost is a huge benefit.

As well as the extensive list of recipes you have an introduction to brewing which details equipment, procedures and ingredients. They are concise and pretty good introductions and ultimately will cover everything you will need to know but in the end, if you really want to get into the nitty gritty and finer points, then you might need to do some further reading. I am sure many other brewers will use this as the foundation of all their brewing knowledge before becoming more interested and developing their skills.

One thing I particularly like is that the recipes are formulated for all grain but also for partial and all malt extract versions where possible. Each of the brewing methods is detailed in the first section of the book then the recipes are marked in the index for which brewing methods you can use. This really opens out the book to all levels of home brewers so a beginner, as well as a more advanced brewer, will benefit from the book.

Ultimately I would say if I didn’t have this book I would not be brewing today because I was brewing something that I could go out and buy and I knew what the finished beer was going to taste like. If you are starting to brew I recommend this book whole-heartedly

How To Brew

 

I guess this is probably the most recommended of any home brew book and there is a reason why. Maybe you have got a couple of brews under your belt and you think, hey these are pretty good, but they aren’t great on top of this you are maybe you aren’t entirely sure why you need to hold a set temperature for x amount of time and add hops for the last 5 minutes. If this is you (I can definitely say it was me) then How to Brew by John Palmer is the best book you can buy.

Content wise this is one of the most comprehensive books you can find on the actual practicalities of home brewing. So comprehensive that for the first time brewer a lot of the content may seem overwhelming. Don’t let this put you off however the book is broken down into clear sections from “Brewing With Malt Extract” to “Brewing With Extract and Speciality Grain” to “All Grain Brewing” and “Recipes, Experimenting and Troubleshooting”. Within each of these section Palmer covers everything in great depth from water profiles, the technical aspects of mashing, malt and hop profiles and calculations like efficiency and bitterness.

If you’re a beginner or advanced brewer, I would recommend this book to either of you because it really does set the foundations you need to properly understand the brewing process. If you are already brewing good beer then it may open your eyes to things you hadn’t thought about before such as mash pH or even metallurgy.

The great thing about this book is the linear fashion it presents the information to the reader. As I said before the depth of knowledge on offer is unrivalled in most home brewing books I have encountered however, you start from the basics of malt extract brewing and are given all the information to understand how it works and the processes involved then as you progress you are presented with grain brewing and the information is being built upon that foundation that has been set earlier. This is really why this book is so good. It can turn you into an expert on home brewing in no time giving you the broadest scope of knowledge all whilst brewing beer for the first time.

Radical Brewing

 

Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher comes a close second for the sheer amount of beer recipes outlined in the book. However, it is a whole lot more than just a recipe book, this is the book that got me thinking differently about home brewing and beer in general and it contains a lot of the philosophy that goes into making different beers.

There is a fairly comprehensive overview of how to make beer but I wouldn’t suggest Radical Brewing as a beginners book, you would be much better off reading How To Brew if you are just starting out. I would recommend Radical Brewing if you want to discover a whole world and history of beer styles and how you go about brewing them. This is one of those books that will really broaden your horizons and give you a taste of what is really possible as a home brewer, including making some of the most obscure beers in the world, beer recipes that you will find no commercial brewery making.

A large section of the book is dedicated to ingredients, not the base ingredients in beer, although, these sections are covered thoroughly. It’s the sections on adding fruit, spices and other flavourings to your beer that is covered in much more depth than any other book I have read. If you are interested in adding something different to your beer recipes then Radical Brewing is the place to look. Randy Mosher covers how fruits, spices and other ingredients interact with the beer with full tasting notes.

History and culture are covered as well, not in a dull or boring way, these sections I found particularly interesting. Randy Mosher has a knack for storytelling and you will soon find yourself wanting to brew a Kvass beer with old rye bread or a beer made with pine needles. That is where this book really shines.

Brewing Elements Series

 

This next selection is actually four books in a series. Each of the four books covers a different brewing element; Malt, Hops Yeast and Water. A whole book is dedicated to each of these ingredients so you can imagine the depth of material each cover.

I wouldn’t recommend these to a new brewer, they are a perfect choice for the more advanced home brewer wanting to push their knowledge up to the next level. Some of the details the book covers are going to be overboard for the home brewer and more relevant to a professional brewer in a microbrewery setting. However, that doesn’t mean the information is irrelevant for a home brewer.

The writing is accessible but does get a little technical in places, anyone with a basic understanding of chemistry and biology should have no problems understanding the content. Each of the books is really a mini-textbook on each of the subjects. I did find some more enjoyable than others, in particular, the Hops book which is a more entertaining read than the water book for example.

The Brewing Elements series is good for any home brewer that wants to get their head around the complexities of beer, granted some of the information laid out is overkill for the home brewer who will have no practical use for it, however, there is a lot more content that will have you making better beer and understanding the brewing process in a lot more depth.

Classic Beer Style Book Series

 

I guess this is cheating because it’s a whole series of books with each book focusing on a different style of beer. There are hundreds of home brewing books that focus on the general aspects of brewing but not many that drill down into the details.

The Classic Beer Style series of books covers around 17 beer styles;

  • Altbier: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes
  • Barley Wine: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes
  • Bavarian Helles: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes
  • Belgian Ale
  • Bock
  • Brown Ale: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes
  • Continental Pilsener
  • German Wheat Beer
  • Kolsch: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes
  • Lambic
  • Mild Ale: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes
  • Pale Ale: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes
  • Porter
  • Scotch Ale
  • Smoked Beers: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes
  • Stout,
  • Vienna, Marzen, Oktoberfest

These aren’t just brewing book, they cover the history, origins and commercial examples as well as the brewing process, recipes and ingredients of the beers.

Each book of the series is written by different authors and are thoroughly researched because they were published a little while ago now hard copies are difficult to come by but the whole series has been released as ebooks now so there is no reason not to pick one or two up.

Delving into the details is what really sets apart those good at making beer to those great at making beer if you have an interest in a beer style I thoroughly recommend you pick up one of the titles in the Classic Beer Style series.

What Is The Best Way To Start Home Brewing?

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Starting any new pursuit is hard, starting home brewing, however, can be especially tricky with the sheer amount of technical jargon and intricacies. It doesn’t have to be especially hard however and that is what I want to discuss in the article. What is the best way to start home brewing.

Believe me, home brewing isn’t really that hard, it takes a short time to learn the basics. When you get into the hobby and you read a little bit about different processes and ingredients it all starts to make sense. You get to that point and take it for granted that most people know hardly anything, about how to even get started home brewing. The whole purpose of this website is to help me, as well as you, understand brewing in a greater depth. I started home brewing around 10 years ago, if I was to begin again, though, what would best way to start home brewing?

Start Home Brewing

How To Start Home Brewing?

Reading or doing, people like to learn in different ways. The problem with making beer, however, is there’s a lot of things you can be unfamiliar with. You can easily make a beer kit without any knowledge of what goes into beer. The next part is progressing from making that beer kit to brewing your own beer which requires you to read up a little bit about ingredients, the brewing process, and recipe formulation.

You can start the other way around reading as much as you can, I know some people who read and read and read but keep putting off actually brewing a beer thinking they need to know more. There is a worry when you start reading that there are multiple things that can go wrong, the language around brewing; lauter, wort, adjunct, trub, krausen. It’s easy to get information overload.

I think the ideal path is to take the best of both worlds, familiarise yourself with the basics and brew a beer following the information that was laid out in your small amount of reading. This is exactly how I have laid out the extract brewing guide. When I wrote it, I assumed the reader has only a small amount of knowledge on beer, the article lays out all the basic information you need and gives you exact step by step process to brew your own beer with a couple of recipes to choose from.

This extract brewing guide also forms the basis of the beer recipe kits available in the shop on Home Brew Answers. Starting home brewing by using malt extract, steeped grains, and boiling hops gives you a feel for ingredients without having to learn all the technical aspects you need to all grain brew.

Starting with Beer Kits, Extract Brewing Or All Grain Brewing

I think the vast majority of people start home brewing by using beer kits. They are an ideal way to get started but the quality of the beer kit is really important. The thing with beer kits is the cost has a big affect on the quality.

As a general rule the more you pay the better the beer, I have seen a lot of budget beer kits that have a really high percentage of sugar as the fermentable alongside malt extract. The issue with using large portions of sugar in a beer is it add no flavour only alcohol. It can lead to a dry beer with not much going on in terms of flavour.

Spending a bit more on a beer kit will mean you end up with a better quality beer and you are going to be more inclined to brew more beers in future. If your first ever beer doesn’t taste great you may decide brewing isn’t really for you.

Beer kits can be a little bit boring, though, most kits in the UK are hopped malt extract, you dilute these down with water and then ferment. This is fine but you don’t really get a feel for the brewing process, only fermentation. Beer Kits are obviously the simplest way to make a beer and generally require the least amount of equipment, the barrier to entry is a lot lower to getting your first beer brewed.

Starting All Grain Brewing?

All grain brewing, on the other hand, is at the other end of the spectrum, the barrier of entry is high, you need a fair amount of equipment and the initial cost of the equipment is higher. Along with this, the technical knowledge you need is higher, you can read a lot about all grain brewing and it’s still going to be difficult if you have never brewed before.

Although it’s entirely possible to start out by brewing all grain it’s not a route I would recommend. My second beer I’d ever brewed was an all grain beer and it was a really difficult day, the mash stuck and it was terribly frustrating. The beer ended up being good but the next beer I brewed after that was a malt extract brew. It wasn’t until a little while after that I fully adopted all grain brewing.

Malt Extract Brewing

Extract brewing is my pick for the best method to start out your brewing hobby with. It has the best of both worlds, you get to know individual ingredients. You steep grains and get a feel for what different malts can do to a beer, for example, you boil hops and make different timed additions as well as getting to know how fermentation works. At the same time, you eliminate the need to mash grain so the most technical aspects of all grain brewing are eliminated as well as a lot of more costly equipment.

Home Brew Answers Beer Kit

This is what I have tried to do with the beer kits on sale here. They are developed to make interesting and unique beers without being difficult or require a lot of equipment to actually make. They come with enough instructions that someone who has never brewed before could make the beer but not get bogged down reading. They also make smaller batches of around 16 bottles of beer per brew. This means you get a fair amount of beer but you can brew more often without beer piling up, this helps speed up the learning process because you brew more often.

If I were to recommend the best way to start home brewing it would definitely be extract brewing. If you want to read further on the subject check out the extended guide here. You’ll be up and brewing in no time at all.