Clone Beer Recipes – Recreate Your Favourite Commercial Beers

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When I started brewing my first few beers were commercial beers I’d tried to recreate. In essence, they were a clone beer. I would say that was somewhat of my motivation to start brewing in the first place, I wanted to recreate some of my favourite beers that I could buy in the shops. I still do brew the occasional clone beer but now it’s more of a case of brewing a beer I cannot otherwise get here in my corner of the UK and I think brewing these clones is a great way to learn your craft especially if you can compare them with the actual beer.

Clone Beer Recipes

Making Your Own Clone Beer

There is always something satisfying about cloning a commercial beer and measuring your efforts against those of a proper brewery. I have written about clone brewing before, but recently I came across the website for Deschutes Brewery and was pretty surprised to find a list of home brew recipes to recreate some of their most popular beers.

Deschutes Clone Recipes

Of course, they haven’t given you the exact recipe for all their beers, they have, however, listed all of the ingredients used in say their Obsidian Stout. Any home brewer that has that information is going to be able to make a fairly good approximation of Obsidian after a couple of attempts.

I think this is a great thing that Deschutes is doing and I’m sure most home brewers who have ever tried to clone a commercial beer will appreciate them connecting with the home brew community. If you have ever tried contacting a brewery about the recipe for one of their beers it can be a hit or miss affair.

Brewdog Clone Recipes

BrewDog has gone one step further and released all their recipe for pretty much every beer they have made. In effect, they have open sourced all their recipes and released them all in a book.

BrewDog have even scaled their recipes for a typical home brew setup, provided quantities and tips on getting a close clone of the beer. They have released all their recipes in a free pdf ebook called DIY dog and I think this is an unprecedented movement for breweries being open about their methods.

In a lot of cases, modern craft breweries start out as homebrewers who take their hobby professional. Giving their recipes away like this is great for the home brewing community and I am sure it has won BrewDog a lot of fans in the process.

Avery Brewing Clone Recipes

Avery brewing is another brewery that is completely open with their recipes. On each of their beers pages on their website, they have a home brew recipe scaled to 5 gallons and listing the quantity of each ingredient.
For a home brewer like me who has little chance of getting one of their beers here in the UK, this is a great way to be able to get an approximation of one of their beers and give me further inspiration for my own beer recipes.

What Are Your Experiences With Contacting Breweries?

Some breweries are completely fine with telling you what hops are used in their beers or the makeup of the grist, where as in my experience the majority of emails to a brewery receive no response. This is why, when I came across Deschutes home brew recipes I was slightly taken aback and excited they have chosen to be so open. Hopefully, more breweries will take a similar stance. Of course, now you’re going to go out and buy that breweries beer because they have reached out to you, plus to see what your clone is like.

If you have ever contacted a brewery and they’ve been only happy to help you out then let us know in the comments section.

Books on Clone Beers

The first beer I ever made was a clone beer, it was Fullers London Pride. I seem to remember it was a pretty good replica of the actual beer and this is what really spurred me on to learn more about home brewing. At the time I knew hardly anything about brewing, everything I did was following the instructions set out in this book:

Brew Your Own British Real Ale

Graham Wheelers – Brew Your Own British Real Ale. There are over 100 recipes in this book of British real ales and if you are looking to brew any clone beer from the UK then the best bet is to look here first.

Clone Brews

Next up is a book called Clone Brews. This is a book I have only flicked through briefly. I haven’t attempted any of the recipes in it but there are plenty there and some good commercial beers are included. If clone beer recipes are your thing then you need this in your library.

North American Clone Brews

Lastly, a book heavily referenced in forums is North American Clone Brews. With such a huge craft beer scene in the US at the moment this book has 150 odd recipes for brewing US and Candian beers, although some reviews are mixed it may be worthwhile for getting ideas on brewing a particular American or Canadian craft beer.

Forums

Forums are a great place to find recipes, there are so many people brewing recipes and trying to replicate beers you can get a good idea of the ingredients in a beer and then tweak to your liking. The first place you need to check out is the recipes section on Home Brew Talk there is more information on this forum alone than any of brewing website on the web.

If you are looking for British Beers then check out  The Home Brew Forum for good recipes. If you can’t find the beer you are looking for then post because I’m sure someone on the forums will have brewed it.

Podcasts

Lastly, I’m pretty sure most people have heard of the Brewing Network. There are some pretty detailed and in depth podcasts on cloning commercial beers. The Jamil Show/Can You Brew It is the one to look for and the whole archive is available for you to look through. So if they have covered the beer you are wanting to brew this is a must listen, however, if you want to brew something a bit more obscure they are likely to have not covered it.

Hopefully, you have found some of these resources helpful in brewing your own clone beer. Anything to add then put it in the comments.

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NEIPA A Perfect Beer To Experiment With – New England IPA Recipe

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NEIPA or New England IPA, a tropical fruit laden, murky and silky smooth beer style has captured the hearts and minds of craft beer devotees for quite a while now. It is now gaining attention outside of this niche with coverage in the national press. NEIPA, however, is still very much a beer style in its infancy and one that is still evolving. It is the perfect candidate for home brewers to brew in small batches exactly for this reason.

NEIPA New England IPA Recipe

If you like clarity in your beers then NEIPA is definitely a no go, producing a good NEIPA involves intentionally boosting the haze or murkiness of the beer. I have seen the term “it looks like orange juice” used to describe the clarity of a NEIPA in a good way.

I know some consumers, especially in the part of the UK where I live (Cornwall) who would absolutely refuse to drink a beer that was murky some who would return the beer to the bar even at the slightest hint of haze.

The IPA Haze Craze

I am not in the slightest bit concerned about the looks of a beer. I love that we are still seeing radically different beer styles emerging. I have always been of the opinion that taste is the first and foremost criteria when judging whether a beer is any good or not. As a home brewer it doesn’t really matter what is available locally because should I wish to try a new style of beer, all I have to do is find a recipe or find out what ingredients are typically used for a beer and then make it myself.

We like NEIPAs so much we have a small batch all grain beer kit in the shop that we have been working on for a little while.

The great thing about new beer styles like NEIPA’s is that even commercial breweries are still experimenting with ingredients, hop combinations and techniques so as a home brewer with no limits or commercial concerns you can really push the boat out.

New England IPA Essentials

The profile of NEIPA is hop driven, not just any hops though, typically hops with a heavy tropical fruit aroma. The beer is often described as juicy which unfortunately doesn’t really describe the flavour but I think it relates to the flavour of overly ripe tropical and stone fruit. The flavour is mango, pineapple, passionfruit heavy and the level of bitterness restrained to give the impression of a “juicy” beer.

Hops are predominately new varieties and even experimental varieties of hops that don’t even have names yet. Citra, Galaxy, Mosaic and Azacca are all likely candidates. These hop varieties all have the character we are looking for and new experimental varieties are emerging that are ripe for trying out.

Excessive dry hopping with these kinds of hops is necessary to get maximum aroma into the beer as is normal with most IPA but the differences to say a west coast IPA comes to the bittering additions. The bitterness in NEIPAs is lower sometimes dramatically lower. The idea behind this is to fill the beer with huge amounts of aroma with a smooth flavour and fuller body to enhance the “juicy” character of the beer.

The malt for a NEIPA fades into the background, it’s supposed to be neutral. Predominantly pale malts or extra pale malts are used. Caramel malts are used in a very restrained manner if at all, often light special malts like Carapils are used.

Unmalted Grains

The key part of the grain bill is the unmalted grains, these along with the huge amount of dry hops are what causes the turbidity in the beer. Flaked wheat and oats are added in the grist in fairly large percentages which introduce starches and protein that boost the haze and create a smooth and full body in the beer.

Yeast strains are varied for the style both English and US ale yeasts are used and can range from neutral to fruity strains that produce more esters. A couple of choices are Vermont Ale yeasts, White Labs WLP095 Burlington or Wyeast 1318 London III if you want something specific you could always just use Safale US-05 for a neutral yeast profile should you wish.

New England IPA Recipe

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
19 L 60 min 54.1 IBUs 17.2 EBC 1.061 1.011 6.5 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pale Malt (2 Row) UK 4 kg 75.1
Oats, Malted 700 g 13.14
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L 350 g 6.57
Wheat, Torrified 276.2 g 5.19

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Columbus (Tomahawk) 32 g 60 min Boil Pellet 14
Citra 65 g 0 min Boil Pellet 12
Chinook 40 g 0 min Boil Pellet 13
Mosaic (HBC 369) 65 g 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 12.3
Chinook 40 g 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 13

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Safale American (US-05) DCL/Fermentis 77% 15°C - 23.89°C

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 65°C 60 min
Final Batch Sparge 75.56°C 15 min

A version of this NEIPA is available in the shop as a small batch all grain beer kit. If that is your kind of thing then check it out.

Mild Ale Recipe – Brewing The Perfect Dark Session Beer

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An English Mild may be one of those beers that are perfectly suited for home brewing. It’s one of those beers that isn’t readily available in most pubs, I wouldn’t know where to begin finding a Mild on draught in Cornwall where I live. It is also one of those beers that don’t do that well in bottles. It’s not that you can’t bottle it, it’s just a beer style that demands to be drunk fresh, something that is very easy for the home brewer like me to accomplish.

MILD Ale recipe

Modest Mild Ale

Mild Ale suffers as a beer style that is often overlooked. It’s not that it is unpopular it just it doesn’t make a bold statement like some other beer styles do. That is not to say Milds aren’t perfect for what they intend to accomplish.

The brewer needs to try to balance a mild recipe to have a low ABV at the same time as having plenty of flavours contributed from dark and roasted malts, the problem with a lot of low alcohol beers is they can tend to verge on feeling watery.

What Does Mild Mean?

There are plenty of accounts of where the name “Mild” comes from, however, I’m no beer historian so take what you read here with a healthy dose of scepticism. The most common theory is that it is the name given to young beer. Historically older beer or beer that had been aged a while may have a hint of sourness, whereas fresh or young beer wouldn’t hence the name Mild.

These mild beers would most likely have been brewed to be blended with other beers to balance out any overpowering qualities. Drinking Mild ale on its own would have naturally followed on from this.

Not Always Dark Beers?

Historically Mild Ales was the name given to any “young” beer so it wasn’t necessarily a ruby or dark beer. There were also pale Milds. The modern version, however, is usually thought of as a low ABV, ruby coloured session beer.

Mild Is The Malt Driven Session Beer

Mild really is the ultimate session beer. When most people think of session beers today they think low ABV pale and often hoppy beers. Mild usually falls into the region of around 2.5 – 3.8% ABV and can finish sweet or dry. The flavour is pretty much solely driven by special and roast malts in the grist. The flavours to look to incorporate in your recipe are caramel, biscuit, stone fruits, nuttiness, chocolate and roasted notes.

As well as this you want to still retain a bit of body by mashing at slightly higher temperatures.

Hops are minimal in a Mild ale and primarily used to provide a balance with the malt, there is a time to be prudent and let the malt bill lead the show. Traditional English varieties of hop are the way to go and hop bitterness is low. Having a low abv means that a smaller bittering addition is all that is required to balance the beer, somewhere around 10 – 30 IBU is a good range.

English Mild Ale Recipe

Mild Ale - Mild Recipe
================================================================================
Batch Size: 19 L
Boil Size: 21.700 L
Boil Time: 60.000 min
Efficiency: 70%
OG: 1.033
FG: 1.008
ABV: 3.2%
Bitterness: 18.8 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 23 SRM (Morey)

Fermentables
================================================================================
                       Name  Type    Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
       Pale Malt (2 Row) UK Grain  2.600 kg    Yes   No   78%   3 L
        Chocolate Malt (UK) Grain 140.000 g    Yes   No   73% 450 L
        Black (Patent) Malt Grain  60.000 g    Yes   No   55% 500 L
 Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L Grain 180.000 g    Yes   No   74% 122 L
Total grain: 2.980 kg

Hops
================================================================================
    Name Alpha   Amount  Use       Time Form  IBU
Fuggles  4.5% 25.000 g Boil 60.000 min Leaf 14.4 
Fuggles  4.5% 10.000 g Boil 30.000 min Leaf  4.4

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

Mash
================================================================================
               Name     Type   Amount     Temp   Target       Time
                    Infusion 10.000 L 73.088 C 67.500 C 60.000 min
 Final Batch Sparge Infusion 15.000 L 78.540 C 74.000 C 15.000 min

Brewing A Peanut Butter Porter – Mixing Beer & Peanuts

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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)

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Lager Fermented At Ale Temperatures?

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Warm Fermented Lager

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

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

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

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

Warm Temperature Lager Yeast Strains

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common Beer

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

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

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

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

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

Designing A Warm Fermented Lager Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blonde Ale Recipe – A Lawnmower Beer

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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.

Ingredients

 

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)

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

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

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

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

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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.

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