Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Calypso Hops – SMaSH Beer Tasting Notes

We’re a big fan of hops that have been branded with exciting names. This brew was made with Calypso hops so we imagined we’d be getting flavors and aromas straight from the Caribbean in this particular beer. Find out if that was the case by watching our Calypso hops SMasH beer tasting video.

Brewing Notes

The alpha acid percentage was labeled as 13.7% on the package so I took a hop schedule approach of adding the majority of my hops late in the boil.  I did add a smidge at the beginning of the boil, which is was just a pinch of pellets between my two fingers out of the pouch.  The rest was added at flame and I left .25 ounces of hops to be used for dry hopping.

I took a NEIPA style approach to dry hopping where I added the hop on day three of active fermentation.  As Mike noted, it left the beer a little more hazy than other SMaSHs I have brewed.  It also seemed to be less fragrant than other beers where I dry hopped later in the fermentation process, typically after a week of fermentation, but I don’t think I would use this beer as a data point for a dry hop experiment. There are too many factors at play here.

Tasting Notes

For the aroma, Mike got an under-ripe melon note like honeydew.  I got pear instead.  As for the flavor, there was more melon notes, with a white fleshy peach taste, followed by grassy, resiny bitterness.

We thought if you used this hop for bittering, you’d probably get lots of dank notes in your beer.  Mike followed up that the beer had a raw hop pellet thing going on.  I found that it had a pine sap like finish.

The package proclaimed the hops had smooth bittering, with notes of soft florals, lemon zest, dried apple, and pear.  We disagreed with the lemon zest part.  It was more resiny than pithy to us.

Final Thoughts

We think that Calypso hops are blendable – better to use with other varieties than to have them shine alone in your beer. The light fruit flavors will mesh well with other stronger citrus-focused hops.

I guess the big takeaway is that these hops are not tropical.  Certainly other hops from NZ and AU fit that bill better, so maybe these hops can been rebranded…maybe.


Comparing Two Czech Pilsners Brewed A Year Apart

As one of my goals for 2018, I wanted to rebrew a Czech Pilsner to correct a flaw I had in the one I brewed in 2017. The big difference in the 2018 beer was eliminating the water chemistry tinkering that I tried out last year. Get our thoughts as we sit down and compare two Czech Pilsners brewed a year apart and see if I improved things or not.

Notes On The 2018 Process

So lagers are still fairly challenging for me even though I have won awards in homebrewing competitions for the ones I have brewed.

Well, maybe I should revise that statement – I don’t feel link I have brewed light-colored lagers to my satisfaction.

As most homebrewers know, light lagers are difficult because the simple ingredient list accentuate flaws that may be hidden in a more complex beer. You have to hit all the notes perfectly for it to really be excellent.

For Czech Pilsners, the commercial ones I had in Europe had a flawlessness that I wanted to replicate at home. I remember the dry, minerally, crisp aftertaste of those beers and thought I could achieve this flavor aspect by adding brewing salts to my water in 2017. I felt it gave the beer a real chalky taste. In 2018, I brewed with just spring water and hoped that would solve the flaw and to achieve the aftertaste I wanted.

Taste Comparison

Well, tasting the year old pilsner revealed its flaw to me very quickly. I was happy to report that the 2018 one did not have it but, this year’s beer wasn’t perfect either.

My fermentation in 2018 was really slow. I bought 4 packets of White Labs WLP800 because I didn’t have time to build a starter before I brewed. I really should have made that starter – my fermentation didn’t kick in fully until 1 week after the brew session. It was a horrible lag time.

The resulting beer was fine but it could be better.

The other thought I had was about the Saaz hops. The hops didn’t taste fresh in either beers. Knowing that I need a large amount, I may seek out another source for this variety since it seems to me that the packages I have been getting from the old local homebrew store are probably old.

To sum up, I am going to brew this beer again. Here are the tips I need to remember:

  • Use Spring Water
  • Find Fresh Saaz hops
  • Plan ahead and make a yeast starter

I know others have mentioned adding a bit of acidulated malt to my grist to lower the pH. Since I don’t know what my mash pH is, maybe I need to get the ph meter going.


Ice Caps Polar Pouch Product Review

We were contacted by the guys at Ice Caps to take a look at their Polar Pouch product. These pouches are carry your beer bottles and keep them colder than other carrier due to their use of neoprene. Take a look as we examine them and provide this Polar Pouch product review.

Product Features

The Polar Pouch can carry up to six beers or at least it has pouches for six beers, may they be in tall bottle, small bottle, or can form. If you utilize the center pouch, you can max out the carrier and make it hold a maximum of nine bottles or 15 twelve ounce cans.

The pockets are deep so that this carrier is ideal for the homebrewer that bottles beer in 22 ounce bombers. I believe this is an important feature.

I have been gifted over the years very nice beer carriers that can only handle 12 ounce bottles and it’s a bummer because that is not the size I use. Because I don’t have bottles that fit, the carrier stays on the shelf. The Polar Pouch meets my need for depth!

The center pouch can hold ice packs so that you have the ability to keep beer colder longer. I found that the neoprene kept the condensation from the ice packs from making a mess on surfaces where I set the carrier down.

The Polar Pouches come in the colors of black or red. I choose black because it matches the color of my heart.

Final Thoughts

This carrier is well built and I hope to use it a lot this summer. The big reason we agreed to review the pouch is because the guys who are making them are guys just like us. They are trying to get something going and I root for those people. The world is better when people take chances to do something they think will benefit others and themselves. That’s what these Brew Dudes are all about.

Go find them on Amazon

Brew On!

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #30

Even with all the news to the contrary, it is amazing how the internet can connect people. These Brew Dudes are celebrating their 30th homebrew swap with Adam in Wisconsin. He has a German Alt for us which is a great malty style that we have brewed before and would like to know how his compares. Check out our thoughts about this beer in our video below.

Adam’s German Alt Recipe

Grain Bill:
68% German Pilsner Malt
17% Munich Malt – 10°L
9% Aromatic Malt
4% Caramunich Malt
2% Carafa Special II Malt

0.75 ounces of Magnum hops with 60 minutes to go in the boil
0.75 ounces of Tettnang hops with 15 minutes to go in the boil

Yeast: Two packages of Wyeast 1007 German Ale yeast

Water: 7.5 gallons of reverse osmosis water with these additives:
1.7 grams of gypsum
2.6 grams of calcium chloride
3 grams epsom salt
0.7 grams of baking soda
1.9 milliliters lactic acid

With these additions, he had a mash pH of 5.42.

Adam said he was following the “Amber Balanced” profile in Bru’n Water and got it as close as he could based on the grain bill. He used 3 grams of Epson Salt to get 10ppm of magnesium and to raise sulfates without adding a crap load of calcium.

Brewing Notes:

Mashed at 149° F for 90 minutes
Boiled for 90 minutes
Fermented at 60° F for three weeks
Raised the temperature to 68° F for three days
Kegged and lager for four weeks

ABV: 5.3%

He scored 40 out of 50 in a competition for this Alt.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Extremely clear – Mike likened the color to a copper penny. Nice lasting head.

Aroma: Toasted toffee almost s’mores aroma

Flavor: The aroma carried into the flavor. It had a strong malt richness. We thought it meshed well with the spicy, noble hop character. There is a mineral character to the beer that Mike thought it worked with the style.

Mouthfeel: The beer had a medium body

Overall Impression: Great beer. It was a good example of the style. We wondered if it needed so much magnesium but what do we know? This alt was deserving of its competition win.

Thanks Adam! Brew ON!

Brewing A Dark Mild With Chocolate Rye Malt

What do you do when you win a major award of 10 pounds of Chocolate Rye Malt at a local homebrewing competition? You let it sit around for a while. Then, you think about it and come up with an awesome Dark Mild recipe. Check out this video as we experience the results of brewing a Dark Mild with Chocolate Rye Malt.

Mike’s English Dark Mild Recipe

Batch Size: 2 gallons

1 pound of Maris Otter Malt
1 pound Bries Brewer’s Malt (2-row)
0.5 pound White Wheat Malt
4 ounces of Crisp’s Medium Crystal Malt (55° Lovibond)
4 ounces of Chocolate Rye Malt. a product of Valley Malting – Hadley, MA (180° Lovibond)

Yeast: Safale S-04 Ale Dry Yeast
22 °SRM

Starting Gravity; 1.038
Final Gravity: 1.007

Mike brewed in a bag for this recipe. He only wanted to brew a small batch in case it was bad.

Tasting Notes

We talked about the addition of Chocolate Rye in the recipe. There didn’t seem to be a lot of flavor from it in this beer but it was only 8% of the grain bill.

Mike wanted to see what color he could get from the malt and he got a lot of dark color for sure.

The one thing Mike said that rye brings to a beer (no, not spiciness) is body. He said he has read posts from homebrewers who make beers with rye malt making up 100% of the grain bill and the wort has the consistency of cough syrup.

This beer was a nice flavorful session beer but if he were to brew it again, Mike would change the base malt to be all Maris Otter to up the biscuit character. I suggested a change of the caramel malt to one with a higher Lovibond like 120°. I like those dark fruit flavors in Milds.

Since Mike has 10 pounds of the stuff, he is think of other beers to brew like a Brown Ale with Chocolate malt to go with the Chocolate Rye.

Do you have any ideas? Let us know in the comments below.


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