Category Archives: Homebrewing

Beer and Homebrewing Holiday Gift Guide 2009

Holiday Gift Guide 2009

To help you with your holiday shopping for that beer lover or homebrewer that you know, or as a resource to figure out what you want for the holidays, I’ve formulated with the following Holiday Gift Guide. If you have any more suggestions, list them in the comments and I’ll update the article.

This guide has recommedation for book, movies, glassware, homebrewing, draft equipment, neon signs, and beer.


Reading and learning about beer can be almost as fun as consumption of beer. The following are some recommended books on the subject.

The following are some great books on the subject of homebrewing.

Holiday Gift Guide 2009


Movies with a beer theme can be great fun to watch and the documentaries are informative. Here is a list of movies about beer.

  • Strange Brew (1983) is a classic movie with Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas about trying to get a free case of beer.
  • Beerfest (2006) (Blu-ray edition) is a new classic comedy about beer. Octoberfest, brewing, beer games competition, slapstick comedy, this beer movie has it all. Das Booooot!
  • Beer Wars (2009) is a recent documentary about the beer industry and the 3-tier system of distribution.
  • Artie Lange’s Beer League (2006)


As craft beer lovers know, beer is always best poured into a glass and especially good if you can drink it from the preferred shaped glassware. Beer Advocate has a great guide to beer glassware.

  • Pilsner glasses use these for all of your lagers and German style beer.
  • Double walled Pilsner glasses, keep you beer colder in one of these and admire your beer in this interesting glass.
  • Beer Goblet glasses for all of your big Belgian beers like strong, dubbel, tripel, etc.
  • Beer Steins are great for American craft ales, English ales, Oktoberfest beer, Vienna lager, and dark lagers.
  • Weizen glasses are frequently sold as pilsner glasses. Use them for your wheat beers.
  • Double walled weizen glasses keep your beer colder longer and look cool too.
  • Imperial pint glasses are great for just about any American or English ale.
  • Snifters are good for the high gravity ales like barleywine and Belgian-styles.
  • Tulip glasses are great at collecting and concentrating the aroma of the beer. I liket hem for almost all styles but they are traditionally best for Belgian style beer and double IPA.

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Homebrewing: Partial Mash Kolsch

Glass of homebrewed kölsch

Over the summer I decided that I wanted to brew a beer that everybody would like and something that would be fitting for hot weather. I also wanted to re-use the yeast for more than one batch of beer. This led me to brew a kölsch-style beer, a great summer beer and then I can re-use the yeast for my next batch, an altbier. Not so coincidentally, the May-June 2009 issue of Brew Your Own [subscribe] had an article and a few recipes for kölsch. At the time I was not setup for all-grain and I did not have easy access to Briess Pilsner liquid malt so I formulated my own recipe.

  • 5 lbs. light dry malt extract
  • 3.5 lbs. German pilsner malt
  • 0.5 lbs. Vienna malt
  • 2 0z. Hallertau hops (4.1% alpha) for 60 minues
  • Whirlfloc for 15 mintues
  • White Labs WLP029 – German Ale/Kölsch yeast

Light malt extra

Grains for the kölsch homebrew

As I do for every batch of homebrew, I began by making a yeast starter. The volume for this starter was 1.23 L including 7 oz. of dry malt extract, giving the starter a calculated original gravity of 1.059.

For the mash I followed the counter-top partial mash method that was described in an article by Chris Colby in the October 2006 issue of Brew Your Own magazine [subscribe]. With the empty grain bag already in the cooler, I filled the water cooler with 5.5 quarts of 160ºF water. Next, I slowly added the grains to the cooler, which would also go into the grain bag. I reached my target temperature of 149ºF. I let the grains mash for 1 hour and a began to recirculate the wort and then collect the first wort. Following the outlined procedure I sparged the grains by adding 168°F water for 5 minutes and then collected the second wort.

4 pounds of partial mash for kölsch homebrew

Both the first and second wort were added to water already boiling in the brew kettle. I brought the wort to a boil and added the 2 oz. of Hallertau hops. During the final 30 minutes I slowly added the dry malt extract. During the last 15 minutes I added Whirlfloc, a fining agent.

Whole hallertau hops

After chilling the wort and draining the brew pot into the fermenter, I discovered that I only had 15 quarts of wort so I topped it up with a little bit of water and also the yeast starter bringing my total volume to 5 gallons. Another step I always take before sealing the fermenter is to oxygenate the wort using pure oxygen passed through a porous stone.

Finally, I put the primary fermenter into my newly “converted” dorm-fridge fermentation box. As you can see in the photo, the clearance wasn’t quite enough for an airlock so I had to use a blow off tube. Using the fridge and my analog temperature controller I was able to maintain 60ºF throughout fermentation.

Homebrew kölsch with a strong fermentation.


Commercial versions are certainly better but I this recipe turned out very well, I’m enjoying the beer, and I made it myself.

Appearance. The head on this homebrew is white and foamy with tight bubbles and the head stays for an average to below average amount of time. The color is a yellow-brown light amber honey color. The clarity is hazy probably due to chill haze.

Smell. This kölsch has a very slightly earthy, spicy bouquet from the Hallertauer hops. It has a clean and sweet sweet aroma that I believe comes from both the malt and the yeast. The yeast and the grains also give it a lager like quality. The sweetness of the malt has almost a subtle white-grape smell. In summary, malty sweet aroma with a hint of earthy greenery.

Taste. I really enjoy the flavor of this beer. It has a sweet malty grain flavor balanced with a reasonable amount of bitterness to offset some of the sweetness. The hops, yeast, and grain combine to give a sweet yet earthy flavor with a crisp amount of bitterness. Quite delicious.

Mouthfeel. The final, 1.012, is a bit higher than I wanted but the starting gravity was also a little higher too. This makes the mouthfeel not as dry as I wanted. On the other hand it does not have too much body and the gravity is only slightly higher than the acceptable range of 1.007 and 1.011. It could also use a bit more carbonation so I’ll turn up the CO2 a little bit to fix that problem (after a few days).

Drinkability. This is one of the strongest aspects of this beer. The sweetness with some bitterness to balance makes this a pleasurable homebrew to drink. It is crisp and very drinkable for a hot day or a cool evening and for multiple in one sitting. Just like a kölsch should be.


  • Original gravity: 1.052
  • Final gravity: 1.012
  • Bitterness: 28-30 IBU
  • Alcohol by volume: 5.2%
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Homebrewing: Black Dog Ale Clone

For my next batch of homebrew I wanted to accomplish a few objectives. First, I wanted to brew a batch where I could re-pitch the yeast for the next batch, which I already determined to be a nut brown ale. Next, I wanted to find a recipe that would utilize the hops that I’m growing: Cascade, Willamette, Mt. Hood, and/or Zeus. Finally, I wanted something fairly simple that I could use as a basis for something more experimental like using lavender instead of aroma hops.

Black Dog Ale Clone boiling wort

I was flipping through my copy of North American Clone Brews [Amazon] when I came across a recipe for Black Dog Ale, on page 81, from Spanish Peaks Brewing. It seemed to be the perfect recipe for what I wanted and it was a beer that I have not had in ages and have not seen in the stores for a long time.


When I got to the homebrew shop, they were out of Mt. Hood whole hops so I substituted with Vanguard whole hops. The following is a modified version of the recipe from North American Clone Brews. The main differences are the Vangaurd hops substitution, addition of Whirlfloc, substituted crystal 50 with 40 and 60, and the amount of dry malt extract that I used.

  • 5 lbs. light dry malt extract
  • 0.5 lbs. Crystal Malt 40
  • 0.5 lbs. Crystal Malt 60
  • 12 oz. white wheat malt
  • 4.5 AAU Willamette whole hops (60 minutes)
  • 4.5 AAU Vanguard whole hops (15 minutes)
  • Whirlfloc wort clarifier (15 minues)

This recipe has a starting gravity of about 1.055 and a target final gravity of 1.012.

Vanguard whole hops.

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Homebrewing: Review of Blood Orange Hefeweizen

Glass of Blood Orange HefeweizenOn February 23, 2009 I brewed up a batch of Blood Orange Hefeweizen using a recipe that I found in Extreme Brewing [Amazon]. The recipe, photos, and details of brew day can be found in this previous post. After 3 weeks in the secondary fermenter and 2 weeks in the keg, it was finally ready to drink.

I poured the beer from the keg into a glass and the following is what I experienced.

Appearance. This beer has a yellow tan head that doesn’t last very long. It is hazy, as a hefeweizen usually is, the has a deep red-orange amber color.

Smell. The blood orange hefeweizen that I brewed has a strong clove smell and a hint of banana. It has a citrus and dark ripened fruit bouquet, which, for me, seemed to be a characteristic of the blood oranges. The smell is not terribly sweet and I was expecting a lot more of the blood orange smell.

Taste. The banana aspect of the blood orange hefeweizen is more prevalent in the taste. The yeast also gives it a clove spice quality. When the clove flavor is combined with the unsweetened blood orange flavors, it reminds me just a little of orange-spice herbal tea. Where the tea is very in your face with the flavors, in the beer thse flavors are more subtle.

A view from the top of a blood orange hefeweizen.Mouthfeel. This batch of homebrew did not reach the target final gravity. It ended up with a little more body than I wanted creating a slight surup-like sensation on the tongue. It seems to leave a bit of a yeasty aftertase in your mouth.

Drinkability. Despite the fact that this homebrew recipe wasn’t quite what I expected, it is a drinkable beer. Especially while is cold out of the keg, it has a refereshing quality to it. The uniqueness of it is a drawback, however, to having more than two at a time.

All in all, I thought this was an interesting beer to brew and drink. I’m not sure that I would brew it again any time soon. If I did try brewing it again, I would use a more neutral flavored yeast. I think the hefeweizen yeast might have overpowered the taste and smell of the blood oranges.

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Homebrewing: Blood Orange Hefeweizen

It had been nearly 2 years since the last time I brewed a batch of beer and I was eager to start brewing again. I had recently purchased a copy of Extreme Brewing [Amazon] by Sam Calagione and while flipping through the pages I found a homebrew recipe that was both simple and interesting:  Blood Orange Hefeweizen. And so, on February 23, 2009 I brewed up a batch and took some photos of the process.



I found the recipe for this beer on page 96 of Extreme Brewing but as usual I had to substitute a few ingredients. Here is the version of the recipe that I brewed:

  • 6.85 lbs of liquid wheat extract (65 minutes)
  • 0.5 oz Liberty hops 4.5% AA (60 minutes)
  • 0.7 oz really old (but sealed and refridgerated) Czech Saaz hops 3.2% AA (20 minutes)
  • 0.5 oz Liberty hops 4.5% AA
  • White Labs WLP380 Hefeweizen IV Ale Yeast
  • 4 blood oranges
    • Grate the orange part (the white part is very bitter) of the rind of 2 of the oranges
    • Peel, section, and chop all 4 blood oranges
    • Heat fruit in 1/2 gallon of water to 160°F, cover, turn off heat, cool.
    • Add to primary fermenter
  • 2 blood oranges
    • I sampled the beer going from the primary to the secondary I added because I wanted more blood orange flavor.
    • Grate the rind of one of the oranges
    • Juice both the blood oranges
    • Bring the mixture barely to a boil.
    • Cool and add to the secondary fermenter

Yeast Starter

Three days before brew day I made a 1.25 L yeast starter with a quarter cup of light dry malt extract. I bought it to a very gentle boil on an electric stove. While wearing silicone oven mits, I pulled the flask off of the heat when it looked like it was about to boil over.


Yeast Starter for White Labs WLP380 Hefeweizen IV Yest

Brew Day

The following are some pictures that I took on brew day. The first picture (and the first picture in this post) are of the blood oranges. I used two store bought blood oranges and two home grown (by relatives, not me) blood oranges. Can you guess which were store bought? The home grown ones were blood red in color while the other oranges were more pink and brown.


Below I’m adding the liquid wheat malt extract to the boiled water. More Flavor in Los Altos, CA packages their LME in convenient bags. I thought that this wheat LME was a little dark, which will probably hide some of the redness from those really dark blood oranges.


Liberty hop pellets, measured out to 0.5 oz and ready to be added to the wort.


Liberty Hop Pellets

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