Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Celebrating 20 Years Of Homebrewing – Tips for First Timers

Mike has been brewing beer at home for 20 years now. To celebrate, he picked up an extract beer kit that was similar to the first one he ever brewed. We captured every part of the brew day on camera from the unboxing of the kit to the pour of the concentrated wort into the fermentation vessel with cold water already added to it. Watch this trip down memory lane for experienced brewers and helpful run-through for new brewers.

Equipment You Need

If you want to start homebrewing like Mike did, you need a few things.

3 gallon pot

A brew spoon

Homebrewing-specific cleaning and sanitizing products. We like PBW and Star San from Five Star Chemicals.

Fermentation Bucket with a lid and an airlock

What’s In The Box?

The kit has all the ingredients that you need to brew.

Malt Extract. We had liquid malt extract which is hard to work with but it’s an easy way to make wort quickly.

Specialty grains – Grains you will crack using a rolling pin and steep in the wort.

Hops. Prepackaged in pellet form. This kit had specific weights for each addition.

Yeast – some kits come with dry yeast. Get liquid yeasts when you can.

Our Experienced Tips

#1 I always used spring water when I first brewed extract kits. You can use distilled water too since the malt extract is made for that type of water.

#2 If you have two cans of extract, add one before the start of the boil and then add the last can 5 to 10 minutes before the end of the boil so you will get better hop utilization

#3 Chill the water in the fridge. I always bought 5 gallons of water at the store before brewing. When I brewed with extract on the stove top, I used a gallon and a half of water. The rest of it would be sitting in the fridge until I needed it at the end of the boil. I found that adding the boiling hot concentrated wort to the 3.5 gallons of fridge temp water brought my full wort volume right to my fermentation temp. I found that I could add yeast right away following this method.

Thanks for reading and brew on!

Black Plum Sour Beer Tasting – Redux

Mike brewed a black plum sour beer back in 2017 so we open up a bottle to see how it aged. Sour beers can change pretty dramatically over time so we wanted to see how it was now after several months. Take a look at this video where we compare tasting notes of this experimental brew.

What Is This Beer?

In October 2017, Mike brewed this sour beer and added six pounds of black plums to the primary fermentation. He dunked the plums into a bucket of StarSan solution and then quartered and pitted the fruit for the addition. We tasted it for the first time in June of 2018 as a part of a side by side comparison with other sour beers Mike brewed. He fermented with a slurry from a previous batch of Wyeast 3763 Roeselare Ale Blend and Gigayeast‘s GB144 Sweet Flemish Brett.

Black Plum Sour Beer Tasting Notes

Right off the bat, I told Mike that he shouldn’t fret tasting this beer. It had none of the off-flavors that we encountered in his other sour beers. The re-fermentation in the bottle was improving the beer.

Appearance: When we first tasted this beer, it had a purple note. Now it has the look of a English Breakfast Tea

Aroma: There was a fruity note – a fresh fig aroma.

Flavor: Some sour notes, some funky-brett taste, but a lot of fleshy fruit flavor. Mike said it detected a bit of acetic acid flavor.

Mouthfeel: This sour beer has a light body to it.

Overall Impression: This black plum sour beer was a special one. We went into the tasting with low expectations and we were pleasantly surprised. This beer had a nice blend of sour, funk, and fruit and was an enjoyable beer. I am glad it aged well.

Mike hasn’t given up on his sour program. Hooray!

Brew on!

English Pale Ale Malt Experiment

Revealed to be part of a larger experiment, the immediate focus of this English Pale Ale brew was to gain a better understanding of some key malts. This beer was a quickly planned recipe to start a brewing cycle and get some separate insights along the way. Watch this video about Mike’s English Pale Ale Malt Experiment:

Malty English “Pale” Ale Recipe

Mike brewed this beer to have something that was in the style of an English Pale Ale that was easy drinking and showcased some malts.

Ingredients

Grains:

10 pounds Munton’s pale malt
1 pound Munich Type I malt (7°L)
1 pound Medium Crystal malt (~60°L)

Hops:

2 ounces of East Kent Goldings (EKG) hops – boiled for 60 minutes

Yeast:

White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale Yeast

Instructions

Mashed at 150° F for one hour. Boiled for one hour. Chilled to 65° F and fermented for 10 days at basement temperatures, using a Brew Belt when the activity was slowing down around day 4.

How About Those Tasting Notes?

Appearance: The color was a dark copper, almost to the point of amber. It was a bit cloudy from the keg.

Aroma: On the nose, very bready and sweet caramel notes, maybe brown sugar.

Flavor: It tasted very rich and malty. Strong Munich malt notes. The caramel sweetness pulls through into the flavor. The biscuit note and the Crystal note was very present.

Mouthfeel: The body was medium-full.

Overall Impression: This beer wasn’t to style and brewed to experiment with malts and, as we learned at the end of the video, a part of a larger experiment to learn more about treating our tap water. He added 10 grams of Gypsum to 12 gallons of water and some lactic acid to the mash water to get the pH in the proper place.

Stay tuned for the larger results of the bigger experiment.

BREW ON!

Hops Filter Screen Review

We received a comment on YouTube asking us to reveal the hop filter screen that Mike uses in his keg to dry hop. Every time we thought of making a videos about it, the darn thing was in the keg. With a better plan in hand, we figured out a time when the hop screen was not in use and made this video. It not only features the in-keg screen but also other filter equipment that we use.

Hops Filter Screen For Dry Hopping

The first piece of equipment that we talked about was a stainless steel mesh cylinder. It was long and thin and had a top that screwed on to secure its contents. Mike boils it for sanitization if not sterilization and adds it right to his keg filled with finished beer. The nice thing about this filter screen is it’s heavy enough to sink to the bottom of the keg without using weights. Mike paid $40 for the one he bought. Many of our viewers found better deals online. 😐

Hops Mesh Bag

For about 4 bucks, I bought a small (about the size of a sandwich bag) fine mesh bag.   I used this bag from my in-the-keg dry hopping.  To sanitize, I boil it in a sauce pan along with 4 glass marbles that I steal from my kids for 15 minutes.  Once the boil is over, I add my hops, draw the string, and drop it into the keg.  It sinks to the bottom and provides a lot of hops flavor and aroma in about 2 days. In the three times I have used them, I have not run into an issue where the bag interfered with the flow of the beer up the dip tube and through my tap.

Stainless Steel Hop Spider

This piece of equipment Mike using in his kettle for hops additions during the boil.  It has brackets attached to the open top so it can hang on the side of your kettle.  This hop spider is great for keeping debris out of racking process from kettle to fermentor.  Mike uses a plate chiller so he needs to use a filter to keep all the hop particles from gumming that up. When I brew using my whole homegrown hops, I siphon out of the kettle because my spigot gets clogged before I am finished racking. I am thinking the hop spider may help with those homegrown hop brews.

So that’s what we got. If you have questions or comments, leave them below.

BREW ON!

Modifying Cider Post Fermentation

Mike took his simple cider and tried his hand at adding ingredients to it after it was finished fermenting to try to get a few different flavored versions out of it. We tasted the results of his attempts at modifying cider post fermentation and made this video.

3 Ciders With 3 Flavor Profiles

Before us, we each had three tasting glasses. One was pink colored so we knew that was different. We reviewed them one at a time.

  • The first one was Mike’s quick cider, which we had tasted a little while ago. At first, Mike thought it was even better with some age on it but then he was picking up some vinyl hose taste. I thought it tasted like a medicine I had when I was a kid.  It seemed to have picked up some weird flavor since the last time we tasted it.  The carbonation was still good and the clarity was outstanding, but the after taste had some big problems.
  • The second was the same cider but two pounds of frozen raspberries were added to the carboy for a while.  I guess it was too long because the berries had cause some haze in the cider.  Mike picked up some more off-flavor.  I found it had same of the celery seed off flavor that is present in some of Mike’s sour beers.
  • The third and last of the series was the same quick and easy cider with 1 pound of honey. It was the best of the bunch. It came off as a honey fortified cider. I thought it has a mead quality to it and could be considered a cyser.  It was the cleanest of the ciders and the one I liked best.

What We Learned

Cider isn’t finished after fermentation. If you keep your process clean, then you can get creative and add all sorts of ingredients to change your cider. 

I think what Mike learned was that his equipment for sour beers needs to stay away from his clean brewing. One experiment he said he would try was to add some fresh wort to the carboy(s) that he thinks are infected to understand if the bugs are permanently embedded into the plastic.

BREW ON!

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