Big English Barley Wine Recipe

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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)

Fermentables
================================================================================
                       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

Hops
================================================================================
                     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

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

Mash
================================================================================
               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.

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

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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.

autoConvert

 

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

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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)

Fermentables
================================================================================
                       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

Hops
================================================================================
          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

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

Mash
================================================================================
               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

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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)

Fermentables
================================================================================
                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

Hops
================================================================================
          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

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

Mash
================================================================================
               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

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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)

Fermentables
================================================================================
                       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

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

Yeast
================================================================================
                 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

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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)

Fermentables
================================================================================
                 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

Hops
================================================================================
       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

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

Mash
================================================================================
               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

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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.

A Nod To Summer Lightning – East Kent Golding Pale Ale Recipe

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Summer Lightning Recipe

Many current pale ales have become synonymous with piney, tropical and citrusy American hops. When I first started drinking though at the turn of the millennium, this wasn’t the case. Pale or rather golden beers were riding a wave of popularity with the most English of ingredients at their core, Maris Otter malt and East Kent Golding Hops.

Summer Lightning by Hop Back Brewery led this trend of pale, English bitters after winning Champion Beer of Britain in the late 1980’s. The inspiration of such beers like Summer Lightning and Exmoor Gold by Exmoor Ales comes in part from the popularity of lager at the time. Most pub goers would settle for nothing other than the palest of lagers whereas most ales at the time were typically darker, copper coloured, verging on brown.

Pale & Thirst Quenching

An English bitter with 100% Maris Otter is going to appear almost as light as most lagers. When I first tasted Summer Lightning however it was recognisably bitter and whilst it appeared so, the taste was not that of European Lager.

Chinook Single Hop IPA Tasting

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If you have visited before you may have seen the recipe published here for Single Hop IPA’s. The gist of the article was as a way to understand the qualities of different varieties of hops. The flavour and aroma they impart and to build an understanding of how they in a beer.

Around the same time as publishing the recipe, I brewed a Chinook single hop beer and it has been conditioning for a few weeks. It is around this time that I like to evaluate these hoppy beers and start tasting.

Chinook IPA

I find with hoppy beers like these, there is a trade off between capturing the freshness of those volatile hop aromas and letting the beer condition and round out, after a week in the keg there is still definite green off flavours in the beer and the carbonation is still not quite there. A week is a bit too soon but after two weeks in the keg things are much better and the freshness of the hops are still right at their peak.

Tasting after two weeks in the keg or bottle, you really get to see how much hop aromas change over time. The aroma really jumps out of the glass the fresher the beer is and slowly morph or fade the longer the beer sits in the keg or bottles.

I find this to be a real issue when buying commercial IPA’s in bottles, you never really know if what you are drinking is at it’s peak. The only real indicator you have is if there is a packaging date on the bottle. Even if the beer is relatively fresh you still have issues with whether it been stored cold or if it’s sat at ambient temperature or worse yet been on a shelf near the window of a shop.

This is part of the reason why brewing IPA’s at home is so productive. As a homebrewer you are in a much better position to brew something extraordinary, in tip top condition and fresh as a daisy that is fairly difficult for the commercial brewery to deliver in the same time scale.

With all that said let’s take a look at what Chinook delivers in this IPA. I have to say that I was fairly surprised at just how this beer turned out. Tasting the Chinook in this beer gives me some plans for future beers in terms of how to pair hops for maximum effect.

Chinook IPA Tasting

Look: In my eyes this beer is beautiful. One noticeable aspect of the way this beer looks is the considerable haze, mainly due to the considerable late hops and dry hops this is fully expected. Of course you should be serving an IPA cold too so a chill haze is almost inevitable in heavily hopped beers.

I love the colour you get using a small dose of light crystal malt, it almost glows if you hold it up to the sun. The head on the beer is pure white and the carbonation is quite high so this stabilises the foam which lasts the whole way throughout drinking the beer. Plenty of lacing and this really helps the aroma too.

Smell: Overwhelming tropical fruits and pine are on the nose, I was expecting more of the spicey pine notes to dominate here but there is also bags of ripe mango on the nose. There was around 80 grams of chinook aroma hops in the last 10 minutes of the boil and then another 30 grams dry hop so I think this is why. It’s these quite large additions that give you the full spectrum of flavours and aroma from different hop varieties and this particular Chinook beer is full of pine and mango aromas.

Taste: The taste matches the aroma, bags of tropical fruits like mango along with pine and grapefruit. The taste is really fresh and juicy with just enough bitterness. The bitterness is actually fairly subdued for an IPA so the taste is slightly sweeter than I was expecting.

Feel: The body of this beer is ok, the head and foam stability is great.

Chinook IPA head

Overall: I’m really pleased how this beer turned out. When using one hop only in a hoppy beer you do run the risk of having only one dimension, usually you want to pair hops by the aroma profiles, mixing fruity hops with spicy or piney hops adds complexity.

The Chinook in this IPA however is just fine being centre stage and there is enough complexity just on it’s own. Pairing Chinook with Citra to boost those mango and tropical fruit notes would work really well.

At the end of the day I now have a better understanding of exactly what Chinook as a hop can do and that is what brewing is all about, experimenting, testing and refining. That’s how you get better.

Converting All Grain Recipes To Malt Extract

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CONVERTING All Grain to Extract

One of the things you see a lot when researching beer recipes is the vast majority of them are aimed all grain brewers. Even I am guilty of this very same bias, pretty much all of the recipes that I have posted here on Home Brew Answers are formulated for all grain brewers.

Having the ability to convert beer recipes from all grain to extract is something I think will really help unlock a whole variety of options not available otherwise. When looking for the next beer to brew you won’t have to skip over a recipe just because it’s formulated for all grain brewing, you will be able to sit down and work out exactly what is needed to turn it into a malt extract beer.

In this post I’m going to detail the steps that you’ll need to convert all grain recipes into extract recipes, in the majority of cases you will be able to get a pretty good match or even a like-for-like beer. There are some beers which can be troublesome to convert to extract, beers that rely on large portions of malts such as Vienna malt for instance where there may not be a suitable malt extract to match it with. In some of these cases you can make approximations to brew a similar style of beer and we will cover that further on in this article.

Before we continue I want to make a point about extract brewing in general. A lot of the information you read in forums and online generally relates to all grain brewing and it can seem like nobody brews extract beers.

The thing to take note of though Is that forums and online communities tend to have a high proportion of users who are completely obsessed by the hobby, this is great of course and means the collective knowledge about home brewing continues to grow. When you’re obsessed by a hobby you want to learn advanced skills and progress as far as you can, you then share those experiences online with other like-minded people.

This, I think is why you will find a lot of information about all grain brewing and not so much about extract brewing. That is not to say though that extract brewing is in any way worse than all grain brewing, both methods can produce exceptional beers and like all things in life the way to do something exceptionally is to practice.

Converting Recipes From All Grain To Extract

With that said, let’s continue onwards and learn how to convert all grain recipes to extract versions.