Jester Hops SMASH Tasting

We live in incredible times for hops. More varieties every year with different characteristics. Here’s another SMASH beer review. This time, it’s a Jester Hops SMASH!

As with all our SMaSH beers, our hop additions follow this schedule:

Added with 60 minutes left in the boil
Added with 15 minutes left in the boil
Added at flame out
Added as a dry hop with 4 days left to go in primary fermenation

Jester hops may very well be the most pronounced example of terroir on hop growing I have ever experienced. This hop is unique.

Pungent aroma of green onion, earth, maybe even some jalapeƱo and the flavor is more of the same. I detected a little lemon in the flavor that maybe I could then pick out of the aroma.

A very interesting hop. This is also an example of where SMASH brewing can be sort of unfair to an otherwise good hop. These Jester hops could certainly be a great base to build on. It would give a very different earthy base to a Noble hopped beer. I could even see it being flexible to serve as a base underneath some super dank resinous hops in a big American IPA.

Special thanks to Stocks Farm in the UK for sending these out to us. We love experimenting with new stuff and then telling you about it.

Please check Stocks Farm at: Stocks Farm
When we take the Brew Dudes world tour, we’ll have to give them a visit!!


To read more about Jester hops and how they were delivered to us, read our profile post here:


English Ale Yeast Triangle Test

Last week we did a blind triangle taste test comparing one wort and two yeasts. Those yeasts were the two most used classics in the White Labs catalog. This week we do it again comparing English yeast to English yeast.

John didn’t think he’s ever had a beer brewed with Wyeast’s 1028 London ale yeast. I am sure he has as he’s been drinking my beer for years. I know I’ve used it a handful of times but I’ve just never really announced it when sharing beers.

Admittedly, I use White Labs 90% of the time whe I brew. I’ve become quite comfortable with the White Labs catalog and line up. I think knowing what the general catalog is for on company makes it easy to switch things up when you LHBS doesn’t have the yeast you are looking for. I can make a pretty good guess of what else to use if I don’t see my first pick in the store fridge.

WLP002 and WY1028 should be pretty close in character. But supposedly they are not the same strain. So running the side by side was something I’ve been wanting to do for some time.

It was difficult to pick the right pair in the triangle test. It was like splitting hairs. In the end I think the WY1028 was a but fruitier and the WLP001 was a tad maltier. Both seemed to have comparable bitterness. From a technical ote the WY1028 finished 2 specific gravity points high thatn the WLP001. Maybe this drove the fruitier finish.

Not sure if I can make any real choices between using one over the other. There are several other English strains out there as well. A bigger side by side line up maybe needed to help choose a favorite house English Yeast.

Do you have a favorite English strain? Tell us about it in the comments.

Cheers. Brew on!!!


WLP001 and WLP002 Triangle Taste Test

We’ve all had plenty of beers fermented with either WLP001 California Ale Yeast or WLP002 English Ale Yeast. We all have a general sense of what each yeast is supposed to do for you. Malt v. hops, fruitiness v. dryness, attenuation v. residual gravity. BOOM WLP001 and WLP002 Triangle Taste Test!!!

My main point here was to educate my own palate with a real example of these two yeasts side by side. I’ve done plenty of brewing and plenty of reading around these two yeasts. But to really train the palate, I wanted to make one wort fermented at the same time, same temp, same carbonation, same day tasting side by side. And that’s what I did.

The recipe was pretty straight forward. I was aiming to balance some American qualities using Cascade hops with some English qualities using Pale Ale malt and a heavy hand of caramel malt. The recipe is as follows:

10lb American Pale Ale Malt
2lb Rahr Pils
1lb American Caramel 60L
2.0 oz Cascade (5.5% AA) FWH
1.0 oz Cascade (5.5% AA) 5min

I split the batch into two 3 gallon fermentors and added one full White Labs vial to each fermentor. I didn’t make a starter fearing I’d over pitch. I didn’t want to try and guess work my way from a starter into the smaller batch. I figured also that if the yeasts were pitch under active any differences in flavor may be more pronounced.

We had a great time with the triangle test. I hadn’t tasted the beers in their carbonated state at temperature until the shooting of the video. John did a great job finding the paired beers in the triangle. I was hell bent of sticking to my first impression, I ended up not changing my mind and got it wrong.

The WLP002 was certainly fruitier and maltier on the nose. The WLP001 smelled drier with a clearer hop character. Tough to actually separate fruity aroma from grapefruit Cascade aroma per se. It might be more pronounced if I was using say an English hop or a noble hop. Something that isn’t inherently fruity.
The WLP001 was more bitter but that seemed more likely as a result of malt seeming drier. Obviously being the same wort the IBUs prior to pitching were identical. I say identical because hop oils do bind up to yeast cell walls. Whether different yeast strains actually “soak” up more oils that others is piece or research I’ve never heard of being out in the brewing world.

These yeasts definitely perform as you’d expect. Sort of boring I guess as a result. However I created a modest wort and was trying to play the recipe into neither yeasts strength. If you repeated this experiment with say dominantly English Style beer like a Southern English Brown Ale or a dominantly American Style like a Double IPA if the differences would stand out more. I’ve always wondered that when you read about these type of experiments.

Anyway, in the end I don’t think if you gave me one beer or another by itself, I’d inherently say it was WLP001 or WLP002 accurately every time. One last factor not discussed is the generation freshness of the yeasts. If you have never repitched yeast from batch to batch I encourage you do try it. I also encourage you to try it with the same wort. There is something to be said on the second and third pitch where the yeasts really start to exemplify what they are reported to do. I’ve done this in the past with Ferments S-04. Right out of the pack its sort of English but not really remarkable. The yeast is great however on its second repitch (third beer).

Well that’s enough of that for this week. Next up… there was a third yeast pitched with this wort!!!



Second Batch Lambic Session

Hard to believe that it was a year ago that John brewed his first batch of sour beer, (a lambic styled beer), but 365 days have passed and now he’s got a bucket full of dregs and it’s time to brew again!

It was a pretty straightforward brew day; creating a wort using wheat dry malt extract and pilsner dry malt extract is a simple as it gets.

John used a dose of maltodextrin powder to ensure a little something extra for the microbes to chew on over the next several months. Using extracts in this manner is a great way to start exploring souring microbes without larger investments in brewing time. Making good sours is about managing that mixed fermentation schedule so why not make it a little easier on yourself. Besides, worts using extracts themselves often have higher finishing gravitie with even more dextrins for the microbes to munch on.

John went with a very mild hopping rate, using less than an ounce of Hallertau at 60 minutes. Most of the souring microbes tend to not like IBUs much plus sour beers don’t call for a lot of hoppiness so keeping your bittering in check is key to a good fermentation.

I predict that this one will sour much faster than his first attempt. From the first batch, he would have an impressive amount of microbes in the bucket from the last batch. Once they all wake up to the new wort, I am sure souring will proceed in far less time. I think 3-6 months or so… maybe sooner. The wild card is the addition of Safale 05. He added that to “help it” along, but I think there’s going to be plenty of activity already.

Time will tell. What say you? Let us know in the comments below or on the YouTube channel!


Craft Meister Cleaning Tabs

Sometimes we are fortunate enough that a vendor or supply to our great hobby wants to give us some samples to test and try out. This week, we talk about Craft Meister Cleaning Tabs.

It is a pretty simple concept: Craft Meister has taken the guess work out of measuring cleaning chemicals by compressing a familiar cleaning agent into tablet form. Craft Meister Cleaning Tabs come in a couple different formats. They graciously sent us tabs for 5 gallon volumes and a 1 gallon carboy tablet.

John gave the product a whirl on some cleaning chores. Unsurprisingly, he found them just as good as other cleaning products we have used. He dissolved the tablet in some water and let a fermentor soak.

The next day, it was nice and clean.

I think the one gallon tabs are a cool idea. Not sure I would necessarily clean growlers all the time that way, but a one gallon tablet makes sense if you just needed to clean a couple small brewing items (airlocks, stoppers, tubing). You could also use a couple to do two or three gallons I suppose and that way you aren’t trying to figure out how to break up a 5 gallon tablet to save money.

Overall, I can see these things actually saving me some money in the long run. I usually use a different cleaner in a powdered format. I have gotten used to measuring it by eye, but who knows. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes less. These tabs ensure accuracy and minimize waste.

You can get these tabs at most homebrew shops.
For more info check out: Craft Meister Web Site

Check out these photos:

Dirty Carboy

Cleaning The Carboy

Cheers and happy brewing!