Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap Exchange 9

Just at the right time I got a delivery from Harold of his version of ‘Drop Kick Nate’, a well known internet IPA recipe from the ‘Homebrew Wednesday’ world on YouTube. This video we sat down and cracked it open.

This beer pours brilliantly clear and is just a hue shy of amber. The aroma is decidedly new age hoppy with undertones of fruit and resin. A subtle hint of some of the more vegetal characters that can come with aggressive dry hopping however it hadn’t reached the point of unpleasant yet. Walking a thin line I supposed.

The taste follows the hop aroma. Great late hopping flavors, a bit grassy again from aggressive hop usage. I found there to be a subtly munich/dark malt backbone supporting the cause. It certainly helps to balance the bitterness of the brew which is firm but not lingering or overpowering.

Overall a very nice beer that was beautifully fermented. Very very clean fermentation profile. No yeasty presence in the flavor, no esters or off flavors. Well executed. This beer was an extract brew. The near flawless ferment demonstrates that with a little skill and care you can certainly make great beers with extract. “Can I get a witness!”

Thanks much to Harold for sending this one in to us. We really appreciate the exchange and the interaction. If you want the recipe for his version of Drop Kick Nate you’ll have to wander over to our youtube channel and leave a plead to him (Frodo47) to do so.

Solera Project Starter Tasting

Three months ago I started a Golden Sour Ale in a standard fermentation bucket. For this video, I cracked open the bucket took a look and grab a quick sample with my thief for a taste. The outcome was quite startling.

The best sour beers are normally produced by blending different vintages or barrels with different character together to achieve a certain flavor profile in an end product. In the home brewing environment this can be a bit difficult to do space limitations and patience (I think mostly patience!). One option to avoid holding batches for blending is to use a Solera.

A Solera is a series of vessels that each containing a different vintage of aging sour beer. For my project I’m going to use three vessels. When all vessels are full the magic of the Solera process begins to work. half the volume of the oldest vessel is removed for packaging (and yes this one is an unblended product at this time). To make up for that lost volume half the volume from the second oldest vintage is moved into the oldest vessel to bring the volume back to 5 gallons. Then half the volume of youngest vessel is moved into the second. Fresh wort is then added to that youngest vessel to top off and begin to ferment.

The process continues and each time half the volume is moved forward for packaging and the remaining vintages get blended along the way. I plan to use three vessels and use a 6month cycle time for moving. If you are following along it means that the my first beer will age for 18 months before it hits the bottle… it will have been in the different stages of fermentation for 2 years at that time.

The little tasting we took is incredible at this point. Noticably sour but not aggressively so. Wonderful golden in color and crystal clear. It will be hard to simply rack it over and not package some to enjoy. Guess I’ll have to start a quick fermenting Berliner Weisse to keep me from dipping into the Solera beers.

Do you have a Solera going? Ever wondered about the process? Well check back in a couple months when I move the beer along and we take another sample.


Kettle Dip Tube and Whirlpooling

This week its a quick video all by myself. I wanted to explore the influence of a kettle dip tube and whirlpooling. So this week I do some tests in a partially filled kettle with and without dip tube configurations to see if a dip tube will interfere with a good whirlpool and trub cone formation.

The theory goes that if you achieve a great whirlpool in your kettle all the hop debris and the break material will settle in a nice cone in the center of your kettle. Then all you have to do is siphon out clear wort from the side of the kettle. Its a great theory, but it never worked for me that way. Maybe that’s why I don’t do it anymore. I always had a big fluffy pile of stuff in the base of the kettle. I had no clear cone or edge to siphon from. I moved on to other means of keeping it all out of the fermentor (mostly hop sacks nowadays).

You’ll see in the video I try four different kettle setups. I have a clean and smooth kettle with no fittings or dip tubes in it. I then use a kettle with just he coupler in there, then a coupler plus a dip tube to the center. Then a coupler plus a dip tube to the edge of the kettle. To conduct the whirlpooling test I used 5-6 gallons of water, 2 ounces of black malt and a wine whip on a drill to speed up the stirring process.

I was quite shocked to discover that regardless of the dip tube set up, I got a good cone/collection of the grain in the center of the kettle every time. When there was some hardware in there the cone was a little mis-shapen but it still would have worked for siphoning. Now maybe grain isn’t a good substitute for true hop and cold break trub. Or maybe there just wasn’t enough. But from these little tests I don’t think the dip tube was the issue before.

Oh well. It was fun to experiment a bit and it was easy to do.

What’s your experience with whirlpooling for a trub cone? Does it work for you?


Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap Exchange 8

We are tasting homebrew from our wonderful subscribers again! This week its two beers from Andy Podnar in Arizona. We sample his Weizenbeer and a Pilsner-esque Ale. SWEET!!!

Two beers came in from Arizona, the first we tasted was a Weizen style (recipe below).

This beer was medium to low body. The color was yellow with slight haze. The carbonation was spot on and good for the style. This beer presented clean and tasted great. The abundance of German variety malts and hops in the recipe makes me think that a German Wheat was being targeted. John however felt that the overall yeast profile was more subdued and suggested more of an American Wheat result. In the end it was still a great beer. It would be interesting to see how the beer would do entered into both the Weizen and the American Wheat categories of a competition.

Second beer up was a Pilsner inspired ale recipe. This beer again presented with slight haze. It had an gold ro off copper hue to it. Very nice appearance. The carbonation was about the same as the Weizen beer. This beer had a definite malt forward backbone. The use of some Vienna and a generous hand of C60L is certainly driving the flavor profile. The was a touch of flaked maize in this beer which had us thinking. There as a bit more than expect of an corn aroma in the beer and in the flavor. I wonder if it was a weak finish to the ferment or a premature ferment that went to secondary. A day after shooting this video I began to also consider the idea that while the beer shipped warm across the country it is possible that some diacetyl formed along the trip. That can happen in the packaging even if it doesn’t present during bottling. A good test would be to leave a bottle in the Arizona warm room temperature climate for a few days. Then chill it and sample. I’d be interested to hear if the beer didn’t present as corn like prior to shipping.

Thanks so much to Andy (Gila River Brewer) for sharing his beers with us. Hopefully he enjoys the Nordic Ale I send him (got to get on that).


6 Lbs. German Malted Wheat
3 Lbs. Briess Bavarian Wheat DME
2ozs. Hallertau hop pellets
Safale K-97/ Single stage unfiltered
Mashed grains at 152-155F for 1 hr.
Sparged grain with 1 gal. at 160F
Boiled 60 min.
1oz Hallertau for 60 min.
.5oz Hallertau for 15 min.
.5oz Hallertau for 5 min.

Pils Ale
2.5 Gal./ 60 min. Extract with Specialty Grain
Bottled 5/27/16
OG 1.058
FG 1.013
5.9 ABV

3 Lbs. Briess Pilsen DME
.5 Lbs. Crystal 60L
.25 Lbs. Flaked Maize
.25 Lbs. Vienna Malted
1oz. Tettnang hop pellets
1oz. Hallertau hop pellets
“Yes… I am very fond of Hallertau.”
Safale US-05/ Single stage unfiltered
Mashed grains at 155F for 30 min.
1oz. Tettnang for 60 min
1oz. Hallertau for 5 min

Brown Ale and High Final Gravity

Its another one of Mike’s beers this week. We sample a re-brewed version of his brown ale and discuss a secret problem in his brewhouse.

I confess that I have had several beers over the last couple months that just refused to ferment out and attenuate as much as I would have liked. The primary issue I think can be tracked to some issues with my mashing setup.

My direct fired mash tun works great for the most part. It heats up strike water fast and I get great efficiency with my wort recirculation. The problem is holding a constant mash temp. Until recently, I didn’t have any insulation or a lid on the MT. I switched some things up bought some reflectix and made a nice jacket for the MT. I also carved out some pink foam core board for a lid. I had a definite difference in performance when I rebrewed my latest brown ale. I went from one beer with a 1.019 finish to a 1.010 finish on the second brew.

The primary difference was a closer attention to maintaining temps in the stainless steel MT. I think what was happening is that if the temp dropped too much I had to apply some heat. But the further away that temp was the more heat I had to use to catch back up. This I think lead to superheating of the wort at the base of the tun and denatured enzymes. Coupled to this issues was that I had been experimenting with No Sparge brewing. In no sparge, brewing all the water goes into the tun for the entire batch. Its pretty well known (although bot paid attention to by me I guess) that the thinner the mash gets, the more easily the enzymes are denatured either by pH woes or temperature increases.

All these things summed up to create wort that is likely to have had to high a dextrin content leading to poor fermentation performance. Other little factors also came into play; like discovering I had a 20F difference in two different thermometers once I was at mash temp! Goos thing I use calibratable dial thermometers and I can reset the temperature on them.

I still ned a couple batches for experimentation, but I hopefully have my problem fixed. No more no sparge brewing and use much gentler heat cycling for that MT mash temp. Sometimes I still think that there is the obvious well accepted brewing information; but there is still a ton of info on best practices that has yet to really be well based out and discussed. When you have your own equipment and process dialed in an working well things are great. But when you deviate a bit from the norm there aren’t many resources to help you out. You better be able to put your own brewer’s hat on and figure it out.


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