Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Northern Brewer and AB InBev Acquisition

The big news last week was the purchase of Northern Brewer/MidWest Supplies with the giant brewery AB InBev. We lay down our thoughts on it in this video.

John and I have both on and off ordered from Norther Brewer. John has a slightly higher frequency with them than I do. I order there when I can’t find what I need at other stores. I have always liked their slightly better grain selection than the places. And to be totally honest, I usually wait until they send me special “please come back” coupons for 20% of my next order. Then I’ll order something big or stock up on cleaning supplies etc etc.

Neither one of us are sure what to make of this whole move by AB InBev. Nor are we sure what to think about NB/MW motives. You can look here for the NB press release.

On the one hand you may think that it puts AB InBev and its partners in a better position to monitor data from NB users. I can’t see how that data isn’t really captured else where. On the other hand two, I can’t understand what NB really gets out of such a deal unless they are getting capital for expansion and/or access to nationwide marketing and distribution (which I thought NB already handled pretty well).

Regardless, I think all we can do is wait and see what comes next with this move. I doubt however, we’ll see any really transparent change in how we interact with NB. Only time will tell.

What say you?
What do you think of this partnership?
Good for home brewing?
Good for mega beer?
Will you still shop at Northern Brewer?
How much of your shopping to you split between NB and your local shop (provided NB isn’t your local shop)?

So many questions so little time…


Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap Exchange 11

This week we taste a latecomer batch of Kolsch from Matt. Matt sent us his Kolsch and let us know he wasn’t happy about. We opened it up and took it for a ride.

Kudos all around for having the guts to send in a beer that you aren’t happy with and allowing These Two Dudes to taste it on camera and offer critique. We certainly think its great. We all learn something that way. Hopefully, we can translate what we are experiencing in the beer in a way that allows other readers/viewers to “get it” without actually being able to taste it.

Matt complained first that the beer was hazy. We didn’t find that to be the case. In fact, having travelled by mail then sitting in my fridge for a few days certainly sets a high bar for stuff settling out. It was fine. Very minimal haze, not enough to really even call it cloudy. So no worries there.

The beer is a little darker in color and a little more characterful specialty malt-wise than I think a traditional Kolsch would be. It think its obvious from the recipe below that the Munich and the C30L are responsible for that. When designing a Kolsch or Kolsch-like beer I’d simply start with great European Pilsner malt and just that. If you want a little deeper malt character I can see using a little Munich but I’d keep it under 5% total and use 10L Munich or lighter. A touch (<2%) of melanoidin malt would help out too and control the color some. I like the hop profile here as well but it didn't come through as strong as it could be due to the other aspects of the malt profile and fermentation issues. Clearly (and Matt knows this) there was a bit of a phenolic aroma and flavor in there. His info to us suggested maybe it happened during bottling that something changed or got a light contaminant. There was also a noticeable DMS/corn aroma in the beer which could be do to a weak boil with that Pilsner malt. Or just the brand of Pilsner malt, I am not experience with Avangard Pilsner Malt to be honest. Clearing that up is a process issue. But at the time of this writing vs when we shot the video, I suppose some of that corny character could be something weird from the contamination issue with another microbe. All these issues are totally manageable with a couple small process tweaks and perhaps using super clean bottles or new bottles at packaging. Big thanks for Matt for sending in the beer. Hopefully, he chimes in and lets us know if he rebrews the beer or if he agrees/disagrees with us on our tasting notes. We plan to change up the swap format soon so keep checking in for that announcement. BREW ON! Matt's Kolsch Recipe: Malt: 7.82 pounds Pilsner Malt Avangard 1.5 pounds Wheat Malt Avangard 1.25 pounds Light Munich Avangard 0.25 pounds Caramel 30L Avangard Hops: .4 Ounces Magnum @ 60min .5 Ounces Tettnang @ 20min 1.24 Ounces Hallertouer Hersbrucker @ 10min Yeast: WLP029

Galaxy Dry Hopped Pale Ale

I’ve been experimenting with my to improve my consistency and to focus on successful wort production that finishes with an FG I am happy with. Those are topics for new videos, this weeks video we do a tasting of two different beers I made while tweaking my systems performance. The main variable change at play is the water chemistry. Its tap water vs. built from scratch distilled water.

I brewed on two different occasions the following basic American Pale Ale:

80% American Pale Ale Malts (3l)
20% American Munich Malt (10L)
1 oz Centennial Hops 60min
1 oz Centennial Hops 20min
2 oz Galaxy Hops 4 day Dry hop in keg

I was mostly interested in seeing how water chemistry effected my SG and FG. I brewed one beer with enough calcium sulfate to satisfy a good mash pH then added enough to the kettle along with some calcium chloride to get a 2:1 sulfate to chloride ratio. The second beer I brewed with nothing more that out standard tap water. (interestingly I got the same mash pH on both beers…hmmm).

The final beers got put in kegs and chilled after a CO2 purge of oxygen. I use 2 ounces of Galaxy hops in each keg using a weighted muslin bag to hold the pellets in the beer and to make it possible to fish the hops out later. I have dry hopped with pellets plenty of times in primary, but I always get particles in the finished beer no matter how carefully I rack. So I tried the hop sack think in the keg.

After 4 days I pulled the sacks out and started carbonating at 20-25PSI. I sampled the beers over couple days to see how the carbonation was coming. I remember being very satisfied with the Galaxy hop aroma. It was stunning. At the shooting of this video however the beers had really lost much of their aroma. I noted that the first sampling pours were very cloudy which I assume to be left over yeast and cold break settling in the keg. Looking at how disappointing the aroma was on both beers I came to wonder what happened.

I actually think what happened was that the all the dry hopped goodness was basically at the base of the keg, because the hop sacks had settled to the bottom and the kegs rested undisturbed. Each time I sampled the beer I was getting crashing out yeast which also had bound up much of the hop oils. The sample pours were tremendous with hop aroma. I really think that I pulled much of that hop goodness out in those first few pours.

Next time around I will change my process a bit. I’ll completely chill the beers first and wait several days for the yeast to drop as much as possible. Maybe even gelatin fining step would help. Then I’ll rack off the yeast or suck that yeast out the dip tube before dry hopping. Separating as much yeast from the beer I hope will solve the lack luster dry hop result.

Anyone else agree or disagree with my sentiment/hypothesis? In some ways it makes sense but in others it doesn’t Only more experimentation will tell!


Galaxy Hops SMaSH Beer Tasting

When we asked our viewers on YouTube to vote for hops for us to brew with, the third place winner of our SMaSH beer brewing schedule was Galaxy hops. The supporters of this variety shouldn’t feel bad about its place in the voting – Waimea got no votes at all. Eventually we’ll brew with the unpopular Waimea hops, but until then, let’s dive into this Galaxy hops SMaSH beer tasting video!

Galaxy Hops SMaSH Beer Tasting Notes

First off, this Australian hop variety packs a strong aroma. It smelled really great right out of the package. Although they weren’t as pungent as Equinox hops, the Galaxy hops were bolder than both Jarrylo and Mandarina Bavaria.

In the finished beer, we picked up a big floral mixed with a mango aroma. Mike picked up some darker fruit aromas before finally specifying it as being reminiscent of a very ripe mango.

As we tasted the SMaSM beer, the flavor hit us as a powerful tropical bomb with slight citrus notes. Even though we bittered with this hop as a part of the recipe, the bitterness was not sharp nor did it stick around for a long time in the aftertaste.

Mike called the hop profile as soft. When I asked him what he meant by that, he said that the oils of this hop were not harsh and not clingy. They were very much focused on the flavor of the beer.

Final Thoughts

Galaxy hops are a variety that is all about the flavor and aroma of the tasting experience. Because of that, we fully understand why people adore this hop. Tasting one of the last bottles from this batch, the darker fleshy fruit flavors, the passion fruit flavors are really coming through.

This variety is a great one for use in a single hop showcase. At first glance, we felt that Equinox is a similar hop but Galaxy does not have a green pepper aspect that Equinox does, which can be unpleasant in high doses.

Check out Galaxy if you haven’t already. Try them as a late addition in an IPA. In big doses, the hop really expresses itself well.

Thanks for reading and please comment below. We hope you learned something from our Galaxy hop SMaSH beer tasting – Brew ON!

Mandarina Bavaria Hops – Profile and SMaSH Tasting

When we presented to our YouTube audience a chance to vote for the next hop to brewing in the SMaSH* format, the one that came in second place was Mandarina Bavaria hops. The whole voting idea came from someone placing in the comments of one of our homebrew tasting videos a request to brew a one gallon batch using this particular variety.

Because of that little mention, we started the whole exotic hop tasting and learning experience again.
Like we did with Jarrylo hops, this post will be a combination of sharing online research and real life, first hand tasting notes. Many of the hop profiles we have on the blog have separate pages for the tastings. Rather than have two posts, we’re keeping all the awesome hop information in one place. Watch this video to see how our beer turned out:

First of all, the online research took some time due to many of the good sources of information being in German. Google Translate was helpful in most regards but there were still some words that I had to make sense of myself. Here’s what we gathered from a few of the websites from the land of Chocolate.

One of Those Special Flavor Hops

Mandarina Bavaria is one of three “special flavor hops” that were developed by the Hop Research Institute at Hull, Germany. In addition to the sweet lady Mandarina, the other two hops are:

  • Hallertau Blanc
  • Huell Melon

These three hop varieties all have names that telegraph their flavor and aroma properties. Seems like to me that these were 3 of many experiments, trying to bring more flavor emphasis to their offerings. It makes you think about the ones that weren’t so good. While it’s wonderful to wonder, we shall be brewing up SMaSH beers of the other two at some point in the future.

Mandarina Bavaria Hops High Level Specs

Origin: Germany. This variety was added to the breeding yard in 2008 and released to the world in 2012. It was bred from Cascade and an undisclosed male from the Institute’s breeding program
Aroma: The German descriptors were hoppy, fruity, fresh, mandarin, and citrus flavor. We got some tangerine, Clementine, and lime flavors. Lastly, one source listed bubblegum as a flavor.
Alpha Acid: 7% – 10%
Typical Usage: This hop should be used late in the boil.
Beer Styles: Wheat beers – Mike wants to use it in an American orange wheat beer. In addition, Mandarina Bavaria would be a good variety to blend with other hops in an IPA like this one.

SMaSM Beer Notes

When I took a whiff of the hops out of the bag did not reveal much. These hop pellets were not particularly pungent.

The finished beer at bottling had an underwhelming aroma and taste. It did not cut through much of what I was detecting as malt-derived.

Finally, the beer has aged well over time. It makes for a refreshing beer with some subtle orange citrus notes.

*Single Malt and Single Hop

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