Brewing A Peanut Butter Porter – Mixing Beer & Peanuts


Occasionally it becomes irresistible to try out something completely different to the ordinary home brew beer. As homebrewers we can pick and choose exactly what goes into a beer with no repercussions on whether anyone else will like it. I like Peanut Butter and I like dark beers and think the two will marry in perfect harmony, so, I have made a peanut butter porter to fulfil this desire.

Peanut Butter Porter

Using Unusual Ingredients

Ordinarily, I am not a massive fan of adding all sorts of ingredients to a beer just for the sake of it. I have talked about adding fruits before and spices and these additions work great in any beer. I do make an exception though when I think the addition of an ingredient will lift a beer and complement it. In this case, I think the peanut butter really will work well alongside the roasted, toffee and chocolate notes of a porter. That is not to say though I haven’t done a little bit of research on the best way to get the peanut butter into the beer.

Peanut Butter & Beer A Tricky Partnership

The problem with peanut butter as a beer ingredient is the fact that most peanut butters are around 50% fat, not only do peanuts contain a fair amount of fat content but peanut butters are made with oil. Oil and water (or beer in our case) don’t really mix all that well.

This desire to get peanut butter into a beer without the whole batch turning into a mess of beer, oil and peanuts has led home brewers to fairly laborious lengths of de-oiling peanut butter.

Deoiling peanut butter is a process that can take weeks or even months. You get yourself some organic peanut butter which seems to separate itself fairly easily, wait for oil to pool to the surface and tip it away, repeat this process a dozen times over several weeks until you get a dry and dry peanut butter. Still, however, it will have oil in it.

The only option in my view is to find some powdered peanut butter.

Powdered peanut butter contain just 13 grams of fat per 100 grams which is a much better starting point to regular peanut butter. Essentially powdered peanut butter is just roasted peanuts with the oil squeezed out of them. Using this powder we can add peanuts to the beer at any point we choose without introducing a lot of oil, the whole thing is much simpler and less messy. I found powdered peanut butter in ASDA so it must be gaining some popularity here in the UK.

When To Get The Peanut Butter Into The Beer?

Now the crucial decision is when to add it to the beer to get the best results. I have chosen the last minute of the boil, this was in the hope that it will retain as much of the nuttiness as possible and avoid any contamination by adding it into boiling wort. I did notice however the peanut powder settles out into a goop at the bottom of the brew pot fairly easily, I tried to get as much as I could into suspension and therefore into the fermenter to maximise the flavour of this addition.

Peanut Butter Beer Recipe

I added pretty much the whole jar at the end of the boil!. From what I’ve read using peanut butter provides a subtle flavour that fades with age. I will update the site with tasting notes when ready to see if the whole jar was a mistake.

The Porter Base For The Peanut Butter

The beer I have added this peanut butter to is a fairly strong Porter at 6.2%. I never imagined this was going to be a session beer or one I would want to drink pints of back to back, so, I decided to boost the ABV to really fill out the palate and give the nuttiness something to match it in terms of flavour.

The beer is fairly straightforward with a Maris Otter base, Munich, Chocolate and Wheat malts. I did think about adding oats but decided there was enough oils and lipids coming from the peanut butter so decided to leave them out, I can imagine this beer not having great head retention as it is. Hops are a single addition of Fuggles at the beginning of the boil.

Please note that this is a recipe for 9 litres, to scale the recipe check out this information


Peanut Butter Porter - Robust Porter
Batch Size: 9.103 L
Boil Size: 10.190 L
Boil Time: 60.000 min
Efficiency: 70%
OG: 1.061
FG: 1.014
ABV: 6.2%
Bitterness: 30.2 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 62 SRM (Morey)

                       Name  Type    Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
     Pale Malt, Maris Otter Grain  1.950 kg    Yes   No   82%   6 L
             Chocolate Malt Grain 230.000 g    Yes   No   73% 886 L
 Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L Grain 230.000 g    Yes   No   74% 118 L
                Munich Malt Grain 180.000 g    Yes   No   80%  18 L
Total grain: 2.590 kg

    Name Alpha   Amount  Use       Time   Form  IBU
 Fuggles  4.5% 25.000 g Boil 60.000 min  Leaf 30.2

                   Name   Type  Use    Amount      Time
 Powdered Peanut Butter Flavor Boil 400.000 g 1.000 min

               Name Type Form    Amount   Stage
 SafAle English Ale  Ale  Dry     11 g   Primary

               Name     Type  Amount     Temp   Target       Time
            Mash In Infusion 6.500 L 72.000 C 65.556 C 75.000 min
 Final Batch Sparge Infusion 6.500 L 75.970 C 75.556 C 15.000 min


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Lager Fermented At Ale Temperatures?


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)

                   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

    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

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

               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


Blonde Ale Recipe – A Lawnmower Beer


Blonde Ale

As a home brewer there is nothing quite as exciting as the weather warming up and the thought of all the beers you are going to make with the intention of sitting out in the garden, on the beach or the backyard and sipping on something thirst quenching. A pale and light beer.

We are talking lawnmower beers, which is an American phrase I am particularly fond of. The idea is to have a highly quaffable beer that’s perfect for drinking after a day working in the sun. In this recipe, I’m calling it a Blonde Ale, sometimes I call it a Summer Ale and other times even a Pale Ale, I’m not all that interested in categorising.

I have the vision of a beer that is all about being drunk outdoors. I live by the beach so as soon as the sun arrives here in Cornwall I’m thinking about making the most of it a taking a picnic and more importantly a few beers. Drinking beer in this sort of environment calls for something easy drinking and refreshing, not a hop bomb or a dark beer.

A Bit About Blonde Ale

Blonde Ale is technically an American beer style although you could say the beer style is just as common in the UK. The intention is to brew something crisp, refreshing and a beer that is a close reflection of a Lager or Pilsner. Blonde Ales are a little bit tricky to define more than that, it would seem to be an attempt more than anything else to brew a pale beer that will appeal to people who usually drink lager. I like to think of them more than that though I think they are a beer to encapsulate a feeling, mood or even a season.

Blonde Ale Recipe

I come up with the recipe using the hops I had available and those just happened to be nice traditional varieties suited to lighter beers and lagers, Bobek and Perle. I want flavour from them though, more so than a typical Lager will deliver so the aroma additions are bigger and later.

The yeast I chose was Safale S-04, although this was more a case of having that around, the beer would be good with Safale US-05 although slightly less fruity. If you choose a liquid yeast a Kolsch yeast would be a good choice or for more flavour an English strain.

The malt bill is primarily Pilsner malt with a little dab of Maris Otter and Vienna for a maltier backbone than 100% Pilsner malt and a little bit of Carapils to aid head retention.

This Blonde Ale is a combination of everything I try to aim for when brewing a beer. The first thing is trying to keep everything as simple as possible.

What I mean by keeping things simple is to only add what is necessary to achieve what you are aiming for in terms of flavour, colour and body. There is no point having 7 types of malt when 2 or 3 will do, the same with hops.

The second thing about this Blonde Ale is using up what you have. My advice is always use the freshest ingredients. If you have leftover ingredients stored away, try and use them as soon as possible. The last thing you want to do is have to throw away beer ingredients because they go stale or deteriorate.



Summer Blonde Ale
Batch Size: 19.000 L
Boil Size: 22.000 L
Boil Time: 60.000 min
Efficiency: 70%
OG: 1.046
FG: 1.011
ABV: 4.5%
Bitterness: 31.4 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 4 SRM (Morey)

                Name  Type    Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
 Pilsner (2 Row) Ger Grain  3.400 kg    Yes   No   81%   2 L
      Maris Otter UK Grain 500.000 g    Yes   No   78%   3 L
  Cara-Pils/Dextrine Grain 120.000 g    Yes   No   72%   2 L
Total grain: 4.020 kg

                  Name Alpha   Amount   Use       Time Form  IBU
                 Perle  7.0% 30.000 g  Boil 60.000 min Leaf 23.8
 Saaz (Czech Republic)  4.5% 30.000 g  Boil 15.000 min Leaf  7.6
 Saaz (Czech Republic)  4.5% 15.000 g Aroma    0.000 s Leaf  0.0
                 Perle  7.0% 15.000 g Aroma    0.000 s Leaf  0.0

        Name Type Form    Amount   Stage
 Safale S-05  Ale  Dry 11.000 mL Primary

               Name     Type   Amount     Temp   Target       Time
         Conversion Infusion 11.256 L 77.000 C 66.000 C 60.000 min
 Final Batch Sparge Infusion 15.106 L 82.000 C 75.000 C 15.000 min


The beer turned out pretty clear with a lot of floral notes from the late addition hops. It has an almost tangerine quality and a very gentle maltiness. This beer like most of my beers now was bottled. Although bottling beer can be a chore the beauty is they can be taken out and that as I explained earlier is the purpose of this beer.

Big English Barley Wine Recipe


Barley Wine Recipe

Brewing big beers like this Barley Wine recipe is always a bit more of a challenge and more interesting than the regular old “house beer” that we grow accustomed to brewing time and time again.

These heavy, high alcohol beers develop over time and you should be brewing something like this barley wine to store away and just have a bottle every now and again. On special occasions and when friends or family come around it’s nice to have something a little different to showcase your brewing skills.

There is a lot of examples of Double IPAs that seem to be increasingly popular at the moment and the thing with those beers is they need drinking fresh to get the most from the hops. The Barley wine we have here though needs time and rather than being a showcase for hops is a showcase for malt and how those flavours evolve with time.

English Barley Wine Recipe

The first thing you may notice about brewing a Barley Wine is the amount of alcohol. This is why I decided to ramp up some yeast by making a smaller beer in the first instance and then using the yeast slurry from that fermentation for the Barley Wine. This is not entirely necessary of course you may want to just use a couple of packages of yeast which will have a similar effect of pitching a higher cell count. I am brewing a smaller beer anyway so it makes sense for me just to reuse the yeast.

This will be more than enough to ensure a good fermentation of a higher ABV beer like this Barley Wine. I have talked about reusing yeast before so if you’re wondering what’s involved take a look at this post – Reusing Yeast.

What I Want In A Barley Wine

Generally speaking, a Barley Wine is a very strong bitter in many aspects. Barley Wine is a bit more special than a strong bitter because of the malt bill being beefed up so much you end up with richer, deeper and more complex malt flavours and this is what I want to really shine through in my version.

Take a look at the BJCP guidelines regarding an English Barley Wine:

Flavor: Very rich and strongly malty, often with a caramel-like aroma. May have moderate to strong fruitiness, often with a dried-fruit character. English hop aroma may range from mild to assertive. Alcohol aromatics may be low to moderate. The intensity of these aromatics often subsides with age. The aroma may have a rich character including bready, toasty, toffee, molasses, and/or treacle notes. Aged versions may have a sherry-like quality, possibly vinous or port-like aromatics, and generally more muted malt aromas. Low to no diacetyl.


Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and chewy, with a velvety, luscious texture (although the body may decline with long conditioning). A smooth warmth from aged alcohol should be present. Carbonation may be low to moderate, depending on age and conditioning.


Ingredients: Well-modified pale malt should form the backbone of the grist, with judicious amounts of caramel malts. Dark malts should be used with great restraint, if at all, as most of the color arises from a lengthy boil. English hops such as Northdown, Target, East Kent Goldings and Fuggles. Characterful English yeast.

The Barley Wine Recipe

Now with the above in mind I have come up with my own take on a Barley Wine and like pretty much all my recipes I have gone pretty simple, when I look at recipes that contain a whole array of malts, sometimes in such small quantities I can’t really tell what they are going to add I tend to move on. I think allowing each ingredient to speak for itself is what makes a good beer.

Barley Wine - English Barleywine
Batch Size: 19 L
Boil Size: 23.4 L
Boil Time: 60.000 min
Efficiency: 70%
OG: 1.102
FG: 1.025
ABV: 9.9%
Bitterness: 50.0 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 26 SRM (Morey)

                       Name  Type    Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
     Pale Malt, Maris Otter Grain  8.800 kg    Yes   No   82%   6 L
 Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L Grain 500.000 g    Yes   No   74% 158 L
          Brown Sugar, Dark Sugar 700.000 g     No   No  100%  50 L
Total grain: 10.000 kg

                     Name Alpha   Amount  Use       Time Form  IBU
                   Target 11.0% 60.000 g Boil 60.000 min Leaf 39.4
      Goldings, East Kent  5.0% 20.000 g Boil 30.000 min Leaf  4.6
      Goldings, East Kent  5.0% 40.000 g Boil 15.000 min Leaf  5.9

        Name Type Form   Amount   Stage
 Safale S-04  Ale  Dry 22.000 g Primary

               Name     Type   Amount     Temp   Target       Time
                    Infusion 18.000 L 76.546 C 65.000 C 60.000 min
 Final Batch Sparge Infusion 16.000 L 89.137 C 74.000 C 15.000 min

Barley Wine Specifics

Now as you can see there is an addition of dark brown sugar. I am aiming to get those sherry and liquorice like flavours from this addition and also add a bit of colour. Add this in toward the end of the boil to aid hop utilisation.

The hops are simple and are there to balance, I want my Barley Wine to be rich and malty rather than bitter. The IBU is around 50 which may seem high but remember that because of the amount of malt (and thus higher alcohol) the bitterness will not be the same as 50 IBU is in a pale ale.

I should be ready to brew this soon. As soon as my smaller beer is out of primary I will be able to reuse the yeast and get this going. Bear in mind this Barley Wine is going to need considerable time fermenting and then conditioning we are talking about a month in secondary and then at least 8-12 months conditioning in bottles. You could, of course, sample a bottle every now and then in between this time to give yourself an idea of the way the beer is ageing in the bottle.

Install This Chrome Extension To Make Reading Beer Recipes A Whole Lot Easier


Beer Recipes

When it comes to sitting down and researching a new beer recipe you are working on anything that makes the job simpler and easier has got to be good, right?

It is obviously a lot more fun actually making the beer than doing the groundwork. Before you even go anywhere near an ingredient you need to know the details, the ratios and the calculations that go into the recipe. This all requires a little bit of time researching, looking at other people’s recipes and processes.

This is one of the things I talked about in this article about beer recipe development. One of the easiest way to develop a new recipe is to look at the work of other brewers and replicate the bits you want to take away from a recipe and then add your own ideas.

This involves sitting down looking through a whole load of home brew recipes. The great thing about the home brewing community is the sheer amount of recipes you can find online no matter what you decide you want to brew there will be thousands upon thousands of home brewers who have brewed the same beer and posted the recipe online. Even commercial breweries are sharing their beer recipes.

Converting Weights & Measures

The problem I found with looking at recipes online is the units of measurement. So many of the brewer generated recipes you find are from the US where for some reason they have decided metric units are the devil.

All these recipes will be in pounds, ounces and gallons or quarts and the temperature is in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius.

I’m not saying that if you use anything other than metric units you are doing it wrong. It does make looking at recipes a lot more of a hassle. Trying to work out the percentages of a malt bill that’s written in pounds and ounces is a nightmare. The same goes for volumes of liquid, I have seen recipes where you mash in with so many quarts of liquor. A quart is equal to 1.13652 litres!

To top it all off the temperature on a lot of recipes is measured in Fahrenheit, this is another obstacle to understanding what’s going on in the recipe.

An Extension To Automatically Convert Home Brew Recipes To Your Preferred Measures

The chrome extension I use completely removes all these obstacles and is so convenient I sometimes forget it’s there. I have been using it for around 4 years and probably should’ve mentioned it sooner especially as it will convert all the recipes I have posted here on Home Brew Answers from metric into imperial units. Or any recipes you find online into your preferred unit of mesurement.

The extension is called autoConvert and is available in the Chrome web store for free, with no ads or any other stuff.

Get autoConvert here.

In a nutshell what you do is add it to chrome, specify your preferred units, for me that would be:

  • KG/Gram
  • Litres
  • Celsius

If you are reading this elsewhere, you may want your units to show as Pounds, Gallons, Fl. Ounces and Fahrenheit.



Whenever you are viewing a recipe online and the measures are not set to your preferred units, switch the extension on and it will automatically convert everything in the recipe and replace the measures on the actual page.

Here is an example from one of my own recipes here on Home Brew Answers that is converted from metric to lbs, ounces, gallons and Fahrenheit. As you can see it has replaced the metric units on screen with their relevant counterparts (due to formatting it also converted colour in Lovibond to gallons, you win some, you lose some).
Recipe Conversion

It will work as long as the brewer who puts the recipe online has of course detailed the units but the vast majority of people do indeed indicate kg for example or lb. I usually leave the extension off for general browsing and just switch it on when looking at a recipe that needs converting. Just switch on and everything is automatically replaced, no need to reload page.

Convert Recipe

Plus it will also convert currency to your native currency. This isn’t particularly relevant to brewing, it’s just an added bonus.

There we have it, no further explanation is really needed. Download it now, save yourself a tonne of time and give it a try.

Strong Ale / Old Ale Recipe – Brew It, Drink It & Age It


A beer that isn’t as popular as it should be are Strong Ales / Old Ales. Currently, so many beers are hop driven it’s easy to forget just how much flavour and character big malt driven strong beers can provide. A quality I often try to achieve in any beer I brew is a balance, however, occasionally it’s nice to go gung-ho, packing in flavour with most often hops. This beer goes the opposite way, packing in huge amounts of flavour driven by the malt used in the recipe.

Strong Ale Recipe

English strong ales aren’t as popular among drinkers as paler, hoppier beers. When the weather gets colder however sometimes a heavy, warming and malty beer has no parallel. This is probably why these kinds of beers; old ales and strong ales are seasonal beers often called winter warmers.

Big Bold Strong Ales

Some particularly good examples of Strong Ales are made by Fullers. There is the Fullers 1845 and a beer in their Past Masters Series, XX. These beers, of course, are not marketed as “Winter Warmers” and rightly so. There is a huge complexity in the malt backbone of these beers and you find with the higher ABV you develop vinous and sherry notes that you don’t find in other beer styles.

The colour of old ales or strong ales can vary, ranging from copper to deep mahogany, the strength is the main indicator of the style. Also as you can tell from the name these are beers you make and stash away in a cupboard. They are designed to be aged or cellared. What happens when you keep bottles stored away for months and years is different characters develop, the sherry like notes that can develop from oxidation amplifies the palate rather than degrades the beer. The beer rounds itself and becomes a different beer entirely compared to when you first brewed it.

This is why beer styles like Strong Ales are so exciting, the high ABV means it’s a beer you only drink once in awhile. In the meantime, those bottles you have stored away are evolving and becoming something new to sample a few months or years down the line, a beer that improves with age rather than becoming dull or stale.

The flavours we want to build into our recipe all come predominantly from the malt. Strong Ales are complex, nutty and have treacle like flavours. The balance is on the sweet side so roasted grains should be added on sparingly and hop bitterness balanced.

The alcohol by volume is reflected in the name, it’s a strong ale so in my opinion above 6% but below 8.5%. When the ABV goes to high the beer becomes more akin to a Barley Wine than a strong ale.

Aging Strong Ales

Aging is a whole element in itself to this beer style, adding complexity to an already complex beer. In most beers, oxidation is a bad thing. Oxidation is an off flavour caused by the reactions that take place when oxygen interacts with the compounds in the beer. This is why when you brew you are trying to keep the beer away from the atmosphere and disturb or splash it as little as possible.

It is impossible to prevent oxidation especially in beers that are aged for extended periods, you should always try to hone your brewing process to keep it to a minimum. In a Strong ale however or an old ale a small amount of oxidation is inevitable when the beer is kept for long periods. This small amount of oxidation adds a complex sherry or port-like note to the beer that compliments rather than spoils. It is definitely worth aging some bottles to see this for yourself.

The Strong Ale Recipe

This Strong Ale recipe is simple and clearly all about the malt used in the grist. I wanted to have hazelnut, toffee and dried fruit prominent in the flavour and a fairly strong ABV so the beer will age well.


Strong Ale - Old Ale
Batch Size: 19.0 L
Boil Size: 21.9 L
Boil Time: 60.000 min
Efficiency: 70%
OG: 1.072
FG: 1.018
ABV: 7.0%
Bitterness: 45.9 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 19 SRM (Morey)

                       Name  Type    Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
       Pale Malt (2 Row) UK Grain  5.800 kg    Yes   No   78%   3 L
        Chocolate Malt (UK) Grain 120.000 g    Yes   No   73% 450 L
               Biscuit Malt Grain 300.000 g    Yes   No   79%  23 L
 Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L Grain 300.000 g    Yes   No   74%  60 L
Total grain: 6.520 kg

          Name Alpha   Amount  Use       Time Form  IBU
 Kent Goldings  5.5% 20.000 g Boil 10.000 min Leaf  3.6
    Challenger  7.0% 20.000 g Boil 10.000 min Leaf  4.6
        Target 10.5% 40.000 g Boil 60.000 min Leaf 37.7

        Name Type Form   Amount   Stage
 Safale S-04  Ale  Dry 11.000 g Primary

               Name     Type   Amount     Temp   Target       Time
                    Infusion 17.000 L 73.714 C 67.000 C    0.000 s
 Final Batch Sparge Infusion 12.000 L 87.395 C 74.000 C 15.000 min


Saison Recipe – Belgian Farmhouse Ale


There are few beer styles that are as pleasurable to brew as a Saison and this Saison recipe is no exception. The style can encompass a whole range of flavours and characters but at its heart, a good Saison recipe relies on simple ingredients and allows the brewer to design a recipe with some room to experiment a little.

Saison as a beer style originated in Wallonia, Belgium and was brewed as a means to refresh and sustain farm workers over the warmer months of the year. This is why Saisons are often referred to as farmhouse ales. The brewing often took place in cooler weather and the beer stored ready for when workers would be toiling in the fields or harvesting crops. Seasonality like this is ingrained in the style of this beer, it’s crisp light and thirst quenching which is ideal if you have spent all day working hard. The way it is brewed and conditioned also influences the beer.

Saison Recipe

The Season For A Saison Recipe

Traditionally a Saison was brewed during cooler weather, usually no later than April or May, in preparation for the labourers who would work the farm. This means the beer is stored or conditioned for a period of time and then would have to last until the farming season ended. This storage would allow wild yeasts and bacteria to slowly develop in the beer meaning as the beer aged it would develop tart, funky and sour notes, especially if the beer is kept in wooden barrels.

Saison yeast strains developed because the brewers would reuse yeast after every brew, gradually transforming with every batch. This meant very unique and characterful yeast strains developed. Cultures available today all share these certain traits that developed and the yeast strain you use in a Saison recipe really is the driving force behind most of the flavour.

Saison Yeast

Saison yeasts typically produce spicy, slightly clove-like phenolics and sometimes slightly tart notes in a beer. These characters make Saison yeast the primary driver of character in the finished beer so choosing a yeast strain from your beer is particularly important.

There are both dry and liquid yeast strains available. There is far more choice available if you use liquid yeasts but dry yeasts will produce comparable beers and I like the flexibility of using dry yeasts. If you like to more nuance or particular traits of a yeast, liquid yeast will have more options. As an example you may want a yeast that flocculates differently or attenuates well and is slightly tart, a liquid yeast like WLP585 Belgian Saison III Yeast will do fit this description perfectly. There are both French and Belgian Saison strains available so check the yeast information here.

Spice and Flavour Additions

A common addition to many Saison recipes is spices and flavourings. Pepper, coriander and orange peel seem to be the most frequently used flavourings and it is easy to see why. Saison yeast typically produces these flavours and making additions like this only enhances them. I can imagine historically that this kind of flavouring would be added to even out a beer that may be past it’s best at the end of the summer. If you want to add spices to your Saison check this guide for the best way to do it. For this Saison recipe, I’m only going to add a small pinch of pepper at the end of the boil, I’m going to let the yeast do the rest of the talking.

My Saison Recipe

The grist for my Saison recipe is going to be primarily Pilsner malt and a touch of Vienna malt to add a touch of maltiness. That’s it, so it’s super simple. Farmhouse beers would be made primarily with ingredients available on the farm or very close by so it makes sense the recipe would be a few simple ingredients.

The hops are just East Kent Goldings, these are a hop I love and fit perfectly both in terms of what would have originally been used by farmhouse brewers and to the style and flavour of the Saison.

I have used dry yeast for this beer as I already had one in the fridge. Lallemand Belle Saison is a good dry yeast that I have used a few times before. It produces exactly the right character and is really convenient.


Saison Recipe - Belgian Saison
Batch Size: 19.000 L
Boil Size: 22.000 L
Boil Time: 60.000 min
Efficiency: 70%
OG: 1.054
FG: 1.008
ABV: 6.0%
Bitterness: 27.3 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 4 SRM (Morey)

                Name  Type    Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
 Pilsner (2 Row) Bel Grain  4.500 kg    Yes   No   79%   2 L
         Vienna Malt Grain 350.000 g    Yes   No   78%   4 L
Total grain: 4.850 kg

          Name Alpha   Amount  Use       Time Form  IBU
 Kent Goldings  5.5% 40.000 g Boil 60.000 min Leaf 23.1
 Kent Goldings  5.5% 20.000 g Boil 10.000 min Leaf  4.2

         Name Type Form   Amount   Stage
 Belle Saison  Ale  Dry 11.001 g Primary

               Name     Type   Amount     Temp   Target       Time
                    Infusion 12.610 L 71.923 C 65.000 C 60.000 min
 Final Batch Sparge Infusion 14.652 L 82.356 C 74.000 C 15.000 min

Small Batch Milk Stout Recipe & Video


Simple Stove Top Malt Extract Brew

There are occasions when home brewing, especially from an outside perspective, can seem complicated and require lots of equipment for someone who is just starting. What I wanted to do with this latest batch of beer, a milk stout, is show just how simple making beer at home can be. That is why I have done something I am not entirely at ease with and have no experience of, which is to film the brewday. Hopefully though in doing so you can see just how simple home brewing can be.

To simplify this batch I made a malt extract milk stout, so a beer that isn’t widely available but still is super easy to brew. I have also scaled down the batch to 9 litres which means you don’t need loads of equipment to actually brew the beer. I will follow up this post with the bottling and by the end, you’ll have 15 pints of homebrew.

Can We Make Home Brewing Simpler?

I have read in a couple of different places recently about the decline in interest in home brewing. Take a look at this graph and you’ll see, apart from the spike every December the trend is gradually moving downwards in terms of searches. Whilst there may be many reasons for this, such as the variety and accessibility of commercial beers available there may be other reasons why people are losing interest in home brewing or making their own beer.

Let’s face it, when you visit any forum or community of homebrewers much of the content is generated by people obsessed with brewing. It’s great for the community but much of the discussion is very niche or technical. For someone completely new to brewing it must seem like there are lots of rules to follow, things you must do, things you never should do and generally a lot of stuff that can possibly go wrong.

If making beer at home was more like making bread then I expect more people would give it a go. Making bread at home requires no specialist equipment, you can buy stuff that helps the process but you can still produce a loaf without having to spend a fortune. It takes time and effort, more effort than going to buy a loaf at the shop. Often your first few attempts aren’t that great, your loaf turns out to be too dense, not proven enough or the texture of a cake. It doesn’t cost a lot though to fail and try again so you keep at it. You attempt to bake bread a few more times and each time you get better. The bread looks and tastes better with each subsequent attempt until you reach a point where you stop buying bread at the shops or a bakery and you make your own. You experiment with different kinds of bread and additional flavourings, seeds or even sourdough bread.

Home brewing can be like this but that first hurdle is tricky, what I think tends to happen is you buy a load of equipment to make beer, it can be expensive and most brewing equipment is only good for one purpose. You make 5 gallons of beer which is ok but not really that good. It’s drinkable but not what you were expecting. Having around 40 pints of beer means you are in no rush to make more beer. The first batch took a couple of weeks to ferment and bottle so you put away your equipment and after a few months it’s still in the cupboard gathering dust.

Small Batch Milk Stout Brewday

I designed this beer to be super simple to make, not take all that long (just a couple of hours) and not require too much equipment. The beer itself is a Milk Stout, so called because it is a dark beer that has an addition of lactose, the sugar that’s found in milk. The lactose sugar is added to the beer to maintain sweetness after fermentation. Yeast isn’t able to break down lactose so it is unfermentable, the sweetness that remains in the beer contrasts nicely with the bitter, toastiness of the dark grains we are using.

The reason why it’s a small batch is because most people have access to a small pot that they can use to make beer and you can brew on the stove in the kitchen. There are only a couple of extra things you need.

The Milk Stout uses malt extract, special malts and hops. Unlike a beer kit, this means you’ll get a feel for ingredients and what they do plus the lactose in the beer puts a little unusual twist on the finished beer that makes it a little more interesting.

All in, the brewing of the beer took around 2 hours, I let it chill in the sink for a while and did other stuff and then just poured into the fermenter. It was one of the most relaxing and quick brew days I’ve had for a while even though I was trying to document the whole thing awkwardly with a camera.

The Recipe and Process

Milk Stout Extract - Sweet Stout
Batch Size: 9 L
Boil Size: 9.8 L
Boil Time: 60 min
Efficiency: 70%
OG: 1.055
FG: 1.011
ABV: 5.4%
Bitterness: 35.5 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 38 SRM (Morey)

                       Name        Type    Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
  Dry Extract (DME)                      1.200 kg     No   No   95%   8 L
        Chocolate Malt (UK)       Grain 140.000 g     No   No   73% 450 L
             Roasted Barley       Grain 140.000 g     No   No   55% 300 L
 Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L       Grain 140.000 g     No   No   74%  60 L
       Milk Sugar (Lactose)       Sugar 120.000 g     No  Yes   76%   0 L
Total grain: 1.740 kg

    Name Alpha   Amount  Use       Time Form  IBU
 Fuggles  5.5% 30.000 g Boil 60.000 min Leaf 35.5

                 Name Type Form    Amount   Stage
 Danstar - Nottingham  Ale  Dry 11.001 mL Primary


The actual brewday is pretty straightforward, take a look at the video and you’ll see everything I did. The step by step instructions are as follows:

  1. Heat 9.8 litres of water in your pot to 70°C (158°F)
  2. Steep the 3 types of grain in a grain bag for 15 minutes
  3. Remove and drain the bag
  4. Add half the malt extract
  5. Heat to boil
  6. Add hops and boil for 45 minutes
  7. Add the last of the malt extract and the lactose and continue to boil for 15 minutes (This totals a 60 minute boil)
  8. Turn off the heat and cool the beer in a water bath
  9. Sanitise all your utensils and fermenter
  10. When it’s cooled to 18-22°C strain the beer into the fermenter
  11. Add the yeast and ferment at around 20°C for two weeks

That is the brewing taken care of so that just leaves the bottling. I hope to have another video up soon. If you’ve enjoyed this one, let me know, comment or leave a like. Thanks

Milk Stout

Split Batch Blackberry Porter Recipe


It’s at this time of year that I tend to get overwhelmed by the number of lighter summer beers that I brew and begin wanting something darker and maltier to contrast with them, a porter recipe I have been working on fits the bill nicely. After the hoppier and crisper beers that I have brewed recently I end up neglecting the darker more robust beers and this starts me off thinking about brewing something a bit more complex and for this recipe adding some fruit.

Porter Recipe

Experimenting with The Porter Recipe

I have always loved Porters and it’s not a beer you can readily get when you walk into a pub in my town so it’s always nice brewing one. The other great thing is although I don’t really brew to style, porters do cover a whole range of flavours and strengths from Robust to Baltic or Imperial.

It really opens up a whole load of possibilities when it comes to designing a recipe. One thing I have noticed a lot of is fruit porters and it seems the style is perfectly suited to a variety of fruits. In particular though, dark fruits like plums and dark berries seem to fit in with the flavour profile of dark beers really well.

The one thing I have to hand is blackberries which grow in abundance right outside my house. I collect a whole load every year, clean them and sort them and then they go straight into the freezer so I have a supply all throughout the year. The flavour of blackberries, especially ones you forage yourself can vary depending on the plant you pick from, the weather that year and how ripe they are so adding them whole can be a bit hit and miss. I don’t think they will add a whole load of flavour and may get lost in the bold, malty flavour of the porter, which is why I have a plan to make them a bigger and bolder part of the beer.

The Porter Plan

My intention is to split my porter recipe into 2 and ferment each half separately. One will be a regular robust porter and have no additions and the other will have a concentrated blackberry syrup created by boiling the blackberries in a little water until they breakdown and reduce by half. It is with this concentrated syrup that I hope to pack a whole load of flavour in a relatively small addition to the fermenter. This means less beer is wasted as would be the case if you add large amounts of fruit to the fermenter.

The reason for splitting the batch is because I don’t really want a whole load of fruit beer and it means I can get 2 different beers out of one brew day. If you wanted to you could add fruit to the whole batch but that does mean I’ll have a large amount of a fruit beer, which for some reason I tend to drink less of. I don’t really want it hanging around for too long as I think the flavour of the blackberries will be better the fresher the beer is. I am a big fan of small batch brewing too so just halving the recipe is another option.

Brewing a Porter

The Porter Recipe


2 x Porter Plan - Robust Porter
Batch Size: 18.890 L
Boil Size: 21.729 L
Boil Time: 60.000 min
Efficiency: 70%
OG: 1.055
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.4%
Bitterness: 30.5 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 28 SRM (Morey)

                 Name  Type    Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
 Pale Malt (2 Row) UK Grain  4.250 kg    Yes   No   78%   3 L
          Munich Malt Grain 400.000 g    Yes   No   80%   9 L
  Chocolate Malt (UK) Grain 300.000 g    Yes   No   73% 450 L
       Special B Malt Grain  80.000 g    Yes   No   65% 160 L
Total grain: 5.030 kg

       Name Alpha   Amount  Use       Time Form  IBU
 First Gold  7.5% 30.000 g Boil 60.000 min Leaf 23.4
 First Gold  7.5% 25.000 g Boil 10.000 min Leaf  7.1

        Name Type Form   Amount   Stage
 Safale S-04  Ale  Dry 11.000 g Primary

               Name     Type   Amount     Temp   Target       Time
                    Infusion 11.472 L 74.833 C 67.000 C 60.000 min
 Final Batch Sparge Infusion 15.714 L 81.679 C 74.000 C 15.000 min

Malt:Like always I want the recipe to be fairly simple but have large amounts of flavour to balance out the fruit in one half of the beer. With a Porter you can go one or two ways by either choosing darker more bitter malts or less roasted and more caramel malts. I have chosen a more toffee like grain bill to balance out the fruit rather than bitterness. Special B is a fairly dark caramel malt and I happen to have some left over from another beer. I think the chewy toffee character it will gove should work really well in this Porter.

Hops: For the hops I have again just balanced out the malt rather than gone for any hop aroma that will likely clash with the fruit so gone with good old English hops to provide bitterness.

Yeast: is a packet of dry S-04 which I have handy anyway.

Scaling Beer Recipes By Volume and Efficiency


The are thousands of homebrew recipes online, plus there are plenty of recipes right here on Home Brew Answers that I have published. The trouble is, with home brew recipes they don’t always fit with the way each of us brews.

Not everybody brews the same amount of beer, maybe their process is different such as BIAB (brew in a bag) brewers who have different efficiencies or maybe you brew extract beers, check out this guide here if need to convert recipes from all grain to extract or vice versa.

The thing is there is no universal home brew process so at some point you’ll want to adjust a recipe. How you go about doing that is what we are looking at in this article. Scaling a beer recipe isn’t that hard and once you know the basics, there will be no recipe you cannot brew.

Scaling Beer Recipe


The Easy Option

If you use brewing software then many of the popular choices have options to scale a recipe. Once you have found a recipe you like, input the ingredients and their amounts into the software according to that recipe’s specifications. It is then a case of finding the option to scale the recipe to the amount you want to brew or the efficiency.

If you use brewing software and it has this facility look no further. If you want to know how it works however then read on. Remember that knowing how something works means you can do things on the fly without relying on a computer and software.

Scaling by Volume

The vast majority of homebrew recipes you’ll find in books and online are formulated to make around 5 gallons of beer. In the UK this is just shy of 23 litres in the US just under 19 litres. If you are brewing the exact recipe that is fine continue on without a worry. If however you want to adjust the recipe for any particular reason to make a different amount of finished beer how do you go about it.

Scaling a home brew recipe is relatively simple. There are many reasons of course on why you may want to scale a recipe up or down. The most likely reason to brew a certain amount is down to the equipment you are using.

Probably the most common measure for a home brew recipe is 19 litres or 5 US gallons this is due to many home brewers preference towards kegging beer in Cornelius kegs which hold exactly 19 litres. In the UK most home brew equipment such as fermenting vessels and boilers are designed to hold 23 litres so a common homebrew recipe in the UK can be 23 litres or 5 imperial gallons. Some brewers, me included will look at recipes and adjust them to my equipment, ensuring there is enough headroom and capacity in the equipment I use.

Equipment is only one reason why you would adjust a recipe of course. You may want to brew a small batch of beer to test or experiment with ingredients or techniques you haven’t used before. Small batch brewing is becoming more and more popular with people just getting into brewing who don’t want to commit to making 40 pints of beer but rather just have a handful of bottles.

The opposite is also true for brewers who don’t have much time to devote to a whole brewday and therefore brew larger batches but less often. Scaling a recipe up means they got more beer for the same amount of time spent brewing.

How To Scale A Beer Recipe By Volume

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.

The same method is also used if you want to brew a larger amount of beer, simply divide by the volume of the recipe and multiply by the larger volume you intend to brew.

Scaling For Efficiency

Most all grain recipes will inform you of the brewhouse efficiency. The recipes I have published here have this information and I usually adjust them to 70% efficiency to make all the recipes here the same. What this percentage tells us is how much of the available fermentables we have been successful in extracting from the grains, through the brewing process and into the finished wort that is run into the fermentor.

Of course, not everyone will have the same efficiency figures and this can be down to many variables, which I hasten to add are not really that important. As long as you know your brewhouse efficiency then you can adjust the recipe to suit your needs.

If you do not know your brewhouse efficiency, take a look at this article that details how to work it your brewhouse efficiency and get a reliable figure to work with. It is a variable that can change with each batch so what we are trying to do is get a close estimate so you can calculate how much grain is needed to achieve the original gravity listed for the recipe and therefore hit the desired ABV.

Scaling A Home Brew Recipe by Efficiency

The method of scaling a recipe by efficiency is similar to scaling by volume. What is important to note though is you only need to adjust the amount of grains used in the mash.

As the efficiency is an indicator of how well fermentables are extracted from malt and grains these are the only ingredients in the recipe that need scaling. Ingredients like hops, yeast and sugars are added after the mash so they stay exactly the same.

To scale by efficiency you take each amount of the mashed grains and malts and multiply by the recipes efficiency then divide by your efficiency

As an example, in a recipe that has an efficiency of 70% and calls for 4kg of Pilsner malt, you would need to do the following to scale the recipe to 75% efficiency:

4kg * 0.7 / 0.75 = 3.73kg of Pilsner malt required at 75% efficiency.

As you can see the more efficient you get the less grain you need to use and vice versa.

Perform this calculation for each malt and grain in the mash but not for hops, yeast and sugars, that is all there is to it.

Scaling by Volume and Efficiency

If you need to scale for both volume and efficiency then just work through both scaling methods. First, scale the recipe by volume, adjusting all ingredients to your intended volume. Once all the ingredients are adjusted then scale the mash ingredients by your brewhouse efficiency.