Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Black Lager Schwarzbier – Brewing and Tasting Notes

This week we sample John’s Black Lager. Its wonderful Schwarzbier with subtle notes of coffee and chocolate in the nose and on the palate.

The beer has a soft and malty aroma profile. The beer has noticeable notes of milk chocolate and coffee. I am not a big coffee drinker but I found the combination of the two to work really well. The same profile carries into the flavor of the beer. However, the backbone of this beer is still a solid Pilsner like lager underneath. The roast notes yield to a clean and crisp lager. A very drinkable beer.

I felt that the hop presence could be a bit higher. Its interesting that despite the usage of Mt. Hood and Cascade hops from the home gardens that the hop character isn’t to ‘American’ in profile. The Mt. Hood certainly helps in that regard as maintaining some earthly noble like character I’d expect in a lager like this. But who cares? Its home brewing and this beer wasn’t supposed to be an exact replica of the German style.

Its a super clean lager with interesting subtle complexities driving you through the glass. Considering Schwarzbier to be a difficult style to balance appropriately; John has done a good job with maintaining those clean lager characteristics and not letting the roast malt get carried away. Somehow the Schwarzbier coffee and chocolate notes come through despite the beer only having Munich and Carafa Special II for color enhancement.

Lastly, for a Schwarzbier lager like this John nailed the fermentation with WLP838 Southern German Lager. I think a big part of that success was using a repitch from his Vienna Lager. Very healthy yeast in a Lager really let the ingredients stand out.

Interesting indeed. So if you are looking to add something different to your spring early summer brewing log give a Schwarzbier a try.


9 pounds Pilsner Malt
1 pound Munich 10° L
11 oz Carafa Special II 430° L

1.5 oz of Mt. Hood hops – 60 mins.
1 oz of Cascade hops – 20 mins.

Used distilled water:
4 gms gypsum in Mash
5 gms gypsum in Sparge
3 gms gypsum added at start of the boil.

Mashed at 150° F.

Fermented for 3 weeks at 50 ° F

Lagered in secondary for 6 weeks at 34° F

A Celebration and Good Things to Come.

This week marks a small but not insignificant milestone for These Brew Dudes. We give a run down of what we’ve accomplished and what’s coming next.

This week we published our 250th video to YouTube!!!! Cheers to us!!!

We’ve published a video every week since January 2013! It doesn’t seem possible but that’s where we’re at today. Plenty more videos to come. This past weekend on May 7th we also celebrated our first YouTube live feed! We did a live feed while John and I brewed up our beers for the community brew session we’ve been promoting.

Even bigger than that we are celebrating our SMaSH beer article that appears in the current issue of BYO magazine!!! Yes recognition for all those Smash beers we’ve been brewing and drinking on camera. Thanks to the BYO staff for recognizing our efforts.

S what is on the horizon???
More SMaSH beers for sure.
We also want to get back into our “Three Tips” video series. That series is where we discuss three quick tips for success in brewing styles that we are comfortable with. After 10 years of blogging we have plenty more to get better at and we will pass those lessons and tips along to you.
John also has three five gallon batches of sour beers in his basement. A collection of vertical session of lambic styled sours. We plan to dive in to those and give blending a try on camera.
Several viewers over on the YouTube channel have asked if we could more specifically review out equipment and our brewing process. So that’s on its way sometime in the near future as well.

Let us know if there is some special content you want to see covered. We are always looking for new beers to brew or new techniques to try.

Thanks for being with us on the blog for 10 years and following along in our 250 videos!


The Odin Yeast Engineering Kit

This week we explore the magical world of yeast transformation and bioengineering!!! Thanks to the good folks at The-Odin who sent us one of their very cool kits, we will soon be enjoying green fluorescent yeast!!!

So these kits are made for the purpose of demonstrating how easy it is to engineer new genetic variants into yeast. (The Odin also makes a line of products for bacterial transformation as well.)

Taking a quick look through the kit it seems very well thought out. Our kit normally costs in the $150-$200 dollar range. It comes with a supply of snap cap mini-centrifuge tubes, a tube rack, culture bottle, innoculation loops, cell spreader, a blue light (for visualizing your fluorescent clones), petri dishes and the GFP vector and streaked out Saison yeast.

Its a tidy and very well through our kit. It even includeds a micro pipet which will come in handy for doing more yeast counting in the future if I ever pick up a microscope!

The instructions are very straight forward and easy to figure out. I look forward to giving the kit a try. We will post a video of the process and the results soon!

In the meantime, a very big thanks to the fine people at The-Odin!!! Get yourself a kit today and let us know how it worked for you!!


Troubles With High Original Gravity Beers

Hello – thanks for looking at our blog again. This post is about keeping it real because these Brew Dudes keep it real. We’re exploring the trouble with high original gravity beers; specifically, hitting your targeted starting gravity. To watch our sad but ultimately hopeful discussion, check out this video:

What’s The Problem With High Gravity Beers?

Well, I’ll tell you. If you practice brewing beers of an average targeted starting gravity (between 1.040 and 1.060), you get really good at hitting your number. When you set your sights on bigger beers, you enter uncharted territory and there will be trial and error – at least in my experience.

Things that can and will cause you problems:

  • Too much grain for your mash tun so you can’t mash in one vessel
  • Your mash efficiency goes down because of the larger grain bill
  • You don’t collect enough wort for the boil
  • You don’t relax and have a homebrew because you are out of your comfort zone

OK – not sure about the last one, but the other three are pretty valid. Since the brewing of my Baltic Porter was my second attempt at a big, all grain recipe and I still ran into missing my targeted starting gravity, I need to really plan out my next one and fix the problem once and for all.

The Tips to Hit Your High Starting Gravity

From chatting with Mike, I think the thing to try is the reiterated mash technique. Here are the steps I am planning.

  • Mix your grains together well
  • Split the grain into two equal portions
  • Mash and sparge as you would normally
  • Clean out your mash tun and add the other portion of grain to it
  • Mash with the wort you collected off of your first portion
  • Adjust your temp with hot or cold water to hit your mash temp
  • Collect your wort for the boil

That’s what I am going to try next time. I am hoping by doing this reiterated mash process, my starting gravity will be as big and bold as it needs to be.

Thanks for reading this post. We appreciate your time and love of the hobby.

Stay tuned as I attempt this process again at the end of summer.

Brew On!

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #18

Hi Homebrewing Friends,

This exchange is a long distance one.  It spanned a whole ocean to make here to our studios in Mike’s basement (Studio C).  Here’s our homebrew swap #18 – the continental European addition.

This beer swap was the first 1 to 1 swap we have ever done.  Alex from Göttingen, Germany sent me a recipe that he was going to follow and I told him I would brew the beer too as part of the swap. I was interested in seeing if we brewed the same beer how much different they would be.

He wanted to brew this beer primarily to try out German grown Sorachi Ace hops. Knowing where they originated from, it was going to be fascinating to see how much the terrior affected the flavor.

The German Sorachi Ace Swap Results

I will tell you truthfully – there wasn’t much difference in the aroma and flavor of the hop. Now that I know Sorachi Ace well, the same furniture polish lemony aroma was in both beers and the creamy lemon flavor with a touch of dill was present with each taste.

If there was any difference, Alex’s beer had a little more body than mine. My beer seemed a little thinner than his and the hop aftertaste lasted a bit longer. These slight differences could be due to mash temps and duration of dry hopping but we can’t sure. I am very surprised how similar they are.

The big learning moment could be that the Sorachi Ace could be German grown at a large scale sometime in the near future. Even with the different environment in which it was grown, the hop kept many of its distinct characteristics. Here’s to more German grown hops.

Here’s Alex’s letter to us:

Alex Letter Sorachi Ace IPA

Thank you, Alex, for the beer and making the world seem ever smaller.

He sent me another beer that he brewed with his own home grown hops. I thought I would type out this part of his letter describing it.

#05 Golden Oktober – Gartenhopfen Herbstbock

This beer is dedicated to a political event that took place in the town I live in 2005.  There are still fascist groups that relate to the Nazis politically active in Germany and a bigger one wanted to march through the city and some historical places such as the local synagogue memorial, where the Nazis burned on down in the 30s. Luckily, the protest was so big that the police decided it was disproportionate to clear the streets of thousands of protesters and the Nazis had to end their march before they could reach the historical places. In fall 2016, they retried and to keep the memories alive, I worked through the archive and created this beer.

Thanks for sharing, Alex. Brew on!

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These Brew Dudes 2016