Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

PicoBrew Unboxing and Equipment Review

The PicoBrew company sent these Brew Dudes a Pico Pro brewing machine to evaluate so we took some time to unbox the equipment and review all the different pieces in this video.

This post will be one of three since there is a lot to absorb here. We thought it would be good to start off with all the equipment that goes along with the Pico Pro system since it is quite a difference from what we are used to with our “system” that we built ourselves over time.

Of course, brewing with the machine and tasting the final product will be important to cover, don’t you think?

We will definitely cover both of those items. Your patience will be rewarded.

Pico Pro Equipment

The first piece that is worth commenting about it the main unit itself. It’s squared shaped and cleanly designed. The top opens up so you can pour water into it like a coffee pot. The front slides out so that you can place the PicoPak into it. Then, you slide the whole thing back into the unit to start the brewing process.

We’ll see how easy the brewing process is. I think once the pak is in the unit, the brew process is one push of a button – more on that later.

The other cool pieces are the kegs that came with the Pro system. There are two; one for fermentation and one for serving. The fermentation keg comes with a top that allows for an airlock to be inserted into it. The other one has a typical corny keg seal and a picnic tap, which will be cool to see in action.

There is also smaller pieces that allow you to cook meat via a sous vide technique in the main unit. I’m not sure if we will get to that in this initial review, but it worth mentioning.

We appreciate you taking the time to follow us on this PicoBrew review. We are curious how it will work and what the outcomes will be. With all things homebrewing, it always ends up with beer so it will be good no matter what.

Brew on!

Pilsner Fail And Plans To Improve It

This year, I bought all the ingredients to brew four lagers to see if I could nail some styles down. Some of them came out well and others not so much. In this video, I discuss my pilsner fail and my plans to improve it when I brew it next time.

Getting Cute With Water Chemistry

Pilsner beers are brewed with water that have “soft” profiles. Although our water here in the Northeast region of the USA has soft water, it doesn’t exactly match the Pilsen water profile. With that in mind, I planned to create the water profile using distilled water and adding ‘brewing salts’ to the water.

Even though I used a calculator (thanks Brewer’s Friend), I got cute on the brew day. I added too much gypsum. I really wanted to get a strong Saaz bitterness going but instead, I got a really chalky taste in my finished beer. I should have stuck with the original plan of just adding a bit.

Tips To Brew a Better Pilsner

Next time, I won’t plan a big chemistry experiment to get my water just right. Instead, I am going to use spring water. I have gone on some big spring water companies sites and they have the water chemistry published there. Those profiles are in line with Pilsen water. I believe that is step one in a better finished beer for next time.

I think the other ideas I have are as follows:

  • Fresh hops
  • Big Pitch of Yeast
  • Longer Fermentation Time

I need to source the freshes Saaz hops I can. The ones I got – who knows how long they were in the LHBS’ fridge. Maybe I can see if I can get some Czech company to buy them from.

Yeast management is key for this beer. I am going to plan out my starter wort a week ahead of my true brew session so that I have the yeast I need for the Pilsner.

After that, it is about letting the beer ferment in my fridge for as long as it takes. It may take a month – who knows – but I will wait until it is done.

Brew on!

Tasting A Sour Ale With Added Cherries

If you haven’t noticed, sour ales are something we have been toying with over the past couple of years. I have been brewing them since 2014 but Mike had his first attempts late last year. We taste a couple of his finished beers in this video. He has one that he called a Golden Sour beer and another one that he added fruit to for a secondary fermentation. We do talk about the Golden a bit, because it is the base beer, but this video shows us tasting a sour ale with added cherries in it and the difference between the two beers is pretty substantial.

A Tale of Two Beers

The Golden Sour beer was a product of a solera project that Mike started and which sorta stalled out because the beer was so good.

At this tasting, the beer had changed. It now had a lingering aftertaste, which had notes of unpopped popcorn kernels and celery seed. I didn’t think it was pleasant and Mike agreed, even if he was going to finish what was left.

With this new flavor profile, you could see why the decision to add fruit just to see what effect it would have on the beer was made.

Cherries to the Rescue

Mike added black and sour cherries to his beer and it started up a second fermentation. It didn’t foam up like it did during the primary one, bit it bubbled enough to indicate that the yeast and the bugs had taken notice.

After two an a half months, Mike tried it and was blown away. Any of the linger aftertastes that the base beer had was removed, scrubbed out by the second fermentation. The resulting Kriek was very quaffable and well balanced between sour and fruity. It was way better than other commercial examples that I have had of it.

What’s next? Mike has put beer into competition and we await the results. It will be cool to see what others think about it.

Brew On!

Community Brew Update

Hi there!

We are writing about the latest information regarding our community brew. If you haven’t heard, we decided that we would publish a recipe and see how many other homebrewers would want to brew it along with us. Thankfully, there was a good response and talked about the community brew update in this video:

There Is A Community of Brewers

It’s hard to forget that homebrewers are the best people in the world. We are reminded of that everyday, especially when over 25 people wrote to us to join the community brew. These homebrewers were from all over the world and across numerous US states.

It’s still fairly amazing that you can post a video on YouTube or write into a rectangular field on WordPress and get in contact with someone that you would have never had met otherwise.

I still think that Internet can be used for good and/or connect us in ways that we wouldn’t have been able to before its invention, if we use it properly.

Sticking With The Plan

The plan is for brewers to ship two bottles to two other brewers and get two back, one from each of the brewers they shipped to. Because we are brewing the same recipe, or at least very similarly to the recipe I posted with some small adjustment, the thought is to learn more about the style and gather more experience through brewing at a large scale.

I think there is more to learn when you have multiple experiments going on at once (experiments equals fermenting homebrews in this case) than just the one you have in front of you. Our hope is that we get some good shared learnings from this community brew to make us all better brewers.

Or at least you’ll get some free beer from somewhere far away, possibly.

We’ll be entering our beers in competition to get even more feedback so watch for the wrap up of our first community brew before the end of the year.


SMaSH Beer With Noble Hops

If there is anything that these Brew Dudes do well, it’s brewing SMaSH beers. This week, we taste a SMaSH with noble hops:

Instead of brewing one using one of the new varieties from Australia or the Pacific Northwest, Mike brewed one using Tettnang hops.

Mike prepared it in a clean, sanitized, 2-liter soda bottle, topped with a Carb Cap so that he could carbonate it for evaluation purposes. I will tell you that the first whiff off of that beer was not pleasant. It was a little stinky. While I am not sure what cause that odor, it did lift away and then the beer’s true aromas revealed themselves.

Once Mike revealed that the hop he used for the SMaSh beer, we started to smell and taste the beer to pull out the aromas and flavors.

We learned very quickly that the refined characters of the noble were not only hard to pull forward but also hard to describe.

So Can You Tell Me What Tettnang Hops Taste Like?

I can tell you that the beer’s hops tasted “spicy” but not overwhelming so. The Tettnang hops brought a present to the beer that we are all very familiar with. It’s the same hop aroma and taste that we grew up with drinking macro-brewery yellow lagers. The SMaSH beer had a hop profile like any American Light Lager.

Fortunately for you the reader and the viewer, we have decided to run another experiment with Noble hops in SMaSH beers. The plan is to brew a few of them with Noble hops and then compare and contrast them against each other. We feel that if we can all agree that all noble hops have very similar profile and the differences are subtle, then it would be our job to brew beers for comparison purposes to really define the slight difference between these classic hop varieties.

Stay tun for more. We appreciate your time and interest in what we are doing. May you have a great beer day and as always, Brew On!

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These Brew Dudes 2016