Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

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Making An Orange Mead and Evaluating The Early Progress

Mike made an Orange Mead, all unbeknownst to me. It was a few weeks old and he wanted me to taste it at this point to see if I thought it was on the right track or not. As homebrewers, we get really confident in our ability to rate the quality of our beers at various points in the process on our own. When we make something that we don’t have a lot of practice making, we seek the advice of others who have traveled the path more often in the path.

So fellow homebrewers who may make a mead in the future, roll this video that presents our early evaluation of Mike’s Orange Mead:

Mike’s Orange Mead Recipe and Plan

Mike started out with 15 pounds of honey and the majority of it was orange blossom honey. I think this honey variety is superb for mead making. He added water to make 5 gallons.

His original gravity was 1.120 and the yeast he used was Lalvin 71B-1122 Narbonne White Wine Yeast.

Following a staggered procedure of adding yeast nutrients to his mead (the same one that I used for my raspberry mead), he got the gravity down to 1.025 after a few weeks.

The plan is to rack it to a new fermenter and let it rest on orange peel for an extended time to really make the orange taste pop.

Tasting Notes So Far

So this mead that Mike is making is a sack level mead so it’s going to be big, sweet, and a little more boozy than the ones I make. My starting gravities are typically in the standard range (~1.090). After a few weeks, it had a lot of honey sweetness but nothing tasted off about it. We have had some bad meads in our time but I thought it tasted great for what it was and where it was in the process.

I preached patience to him – these things take time and the process is so easy that I think as beer homebrewers that we feel like we have to tinker with the mead to make sure it tastes great.

You really don’t.

He started to ask me what others things he should do to the mead to accent the flavor. I think his orange peel idea is great. Keeping it simple is key. Spicing it to make it a metheglin would be fine but see how the orange peel addition does. Your patience will be rewarded.

Mead on!

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #22

Number 22 on the old beer exchange board gives us 2 beers to try. Adam from Madison, WI (USA) sent us a Czech Pilsner and an Octoberfest and we were excited to try them. Watch this video to see what we thought of Adam’s beer.

The Twenty Second Homebrew Swap

Adam wrote to us and we exchanged addresses. Once we got his beer, it was put in the fridge for a week before we opened it. Here are the particulars of his beer that he provided along with the bubble wrap:

Octoberfest Ale

Treated distilled water with gypsum and calcium chloride

Grain Bill:
35.7% German Pilsner Malt
21% Vienna Malt
19.6% Munich Malt
9.8% Aromatic Malt
4.9% Crystal 20 Malt
4.9% Crystal 40 Malt
4.2% Carapils Malt

2.5 ounces of Tettnang hops – 60 mins to go in boil (I’m guessing)

Fermented at 68°F with Safale S-04 yeast

IBU: 20
ABV: 5%

This beer placed in a competition so we definitely wanted to try it.

Czech Pilsner

For this beer, he used distilled water again, treated this time with gypsum, calcium chloride, and lactic acid.

The grain bill was 100% German Pilsner Malt

3 ounces of Saaz added in one ounce increments at 75 minutes to go, 10 minutes to go, and at flameout.

His boil was for 75 minutes.

He fermented the beer with two packets of Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils at 54° F for 10 days, then raised the temperature to 68°F for 2 days. Then, he racked the beer to a keg and conditioned at 37°F for a month.

IBU 24
4.5% ABV

Tasting Notes

We thought the Octoberfest had a mild bready, caramel aroma. There were some estery notes from the ale fermentation that carried through to the flavor. Mike explain that even though the malt bill was complex, the flavor in the beer was restrained and no single malt was dominant. It was an easy drinking ale that one could drink liters and be happy.

The Czech Pilsner – the beer itself was beautiful. The color was spot on and it was crystal clear. Adam noted that he thought he may use gelatin next time, but we felt it would be unnecessary if he follow his same process and got the same results. The beer was super clean and tasty. Overall, we felt like this pilsner was pretty darn good with a few notes on adding more Saaz hops and upping the pitching rate on the yeast.

By the by, the BJCP 2015 guidelines no longer has a Czech or Bohemian pilsner so check (or is it Czech) the category 3B – Czech Premium Pale Lager for details.

Thanks for reading and watching. BREW ON!

PicoBrew Plinius Maximus Tasting

We looked over the equipment, we loaded the Pak, we pushed the button, and a few weeks later, we had beer. We bring the first brew session on the Pico Pro system to a close with the tasting of the Pliny the Elder clone recipe, Plinius Maximus. Watch this video to see how our beer turned out.

Beer Preparation Process

Before we get into the tasting, the process of getting the beer prepped for drinking was note worthy. With the two kegs and the tubing that Pico sent to us, I was able to do a closed transfer by pushing CO2 into the first keg and letting the beer flow into the second keg. That was the first time I was able to do that and it was pretty cool.

This recipe came with hops in a small (the size of a large tea bag) fine mesh bag so I put that into the keg so I could dry hop while I carbonated and leave it in there during the serving process.

After a week in the keg, the beer was ready to pour on camera.

Plinius Maximus Tasting Notes

Because we live on the East Coast of the USA, we don’t have Pliny the Elder readily available to us so we are reviewing this beer as it is and not comparing to its commercially available counterpart.

On the nose, there was only a slight hop aroma. It did have an interesting floral aroma. We couldn’t tell which hops were used in the brew but we’re guessing they are the three Cs (Columbus, and Centennial).

We could detect some of the malt base in the aroma – not super strong but present.

In the flavor – the mouthfeel was full bodied. Mike reported that the mash could have been contribute to the fullness.

There was also one element that Mike couldn’t put his finger on but there was a bit of an off-flavor that he attributed to a less than vigorous boil. It wasn’t terrible but it was noticeable.

Overall, it was a good beer and better than the first extract beer that Mike brewed.

I have another Pak to brew and we’ll see how that one comes out. I may experiment more with the yeast to see if I can improve on the process.


Check out our other PicoBrew posts – The Pico Unboxing and the first brew session.

Split Batch Sour Ale Tasting and Commentary

Mike brewed his second batch of sour beer earlier this year and he split it into 2 separate vessels to try different things. Roll the video to learn more about our split batch sour ale tasting.

With batch number 2, Mike took the same recipe he used before and scaled it up from a 5 gallon final volume to 10 (or was that 12) gallons. Once he produced that much wort, he split it into two separate kettles to make two different beers.

For the first one, he wanted to recreate his Golden Sour beer. You can learn more about his first sour beers in this post.

With the other side of the split, he is going for a Flemish Red.

Split Batch Sour Ale Ingredients

For both beers, he used this grain bill:
16 pounds of Pilsner Malt
4 pounds of Wheat Malt
4 pounds of Flaked Oats

To make the Flanders Red, he steep these grains in a separate vessel from his mash tun and added them to the second kettle:
8 ounces of Special B malt
8 ounces of Caramunich malt
2 ounces of Carafa Special II malt

For his microbe/yeast mix, he had the Roselare blend and GigaYeast’s Sweet Flemish Brett.

For hops, he used a little bit of old Warrior hops he had that were in a open packet in his fridge.

Sour Beer Tasting Notes

I found the Golden Sour to be an enjoyable, tart beer that was a thirst quencher.

The Flanders Red did have more funkiness and we concluded that the flavor was influenced by the caramel malts.

Mike had let these two beer ferment in buckets for nine months and then he racked them into 2 glass carboys. He thinks that they are essentially done but there could be more experimentation to do.

As for next steps, Mike may bottle up half of each beer and then experiment more with adding some maltodextrin/dry malt extract into the Golden Sour.

For the Flanders Red, he may add some oak to the remainder of the beer.

It’s all a patience game with these sour beers that we have been brewing. We’ll keep you up to speed with the latest updates even though that could be months from now.

We’ll see how it goes.

If you wanted to see what Mike was alluding to in the video regarding his latest sour beer brewing session, you can see his Twitter post and see the awesome details.

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #21

Hey there – this week, we continue our homebrew swap series. We are now into the 20s; that’s a great a thing. We taste a homebrewed English Porter from a guy named Rich who brewed in South Dakota but calls Rhode Island home. Check out our video regarding these Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #21:

Before we get into our notes, here is the recipe that Rich sent us.

Rich’s English Porter Recipe

This recipe is for a 6 US gallon batch.

11 pounds of Maris Otter malt
1 pound 12 ounces Brown malt
1 pound 12 ounces CaraRed malt
12 ounces Black Patent malt

1 ounce CTZ (14% AA) first wort hopped

3 ounces of molasses at flameout

Yeast: London Ale Wyeast 1028


After fermentation completed, he put in 1.5 ounces of oak chips soaked in scotch and let them sit for 10-14 days.

Bottled around 5 weeks after the brew day. He added maybe a teaspoon of calcium chloride to filtered tap water from Rapid City, SD. Their tap water is great for dark beers, bicarb levels in the 200-300 range.

OG: 1.066
FG: 1.020
ABV 6.1%
IBU 36

Homebrew Swap Notes

Although this beer was almost 10 months old, we thought it tasted great for the style. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s discuss the aroma. It was filled with chocolate, a little bit of coffee, along with a caramel note which we thought came from the molasses. The flavor had a nice roasty/toasty flavor.

We were happy to see the inclusion of Brown malt in his recipe. As Mike said, this specialty malt doesn’t have many applications but it may be absolutely necessary for an English porter style. This malt really brings a nice deep toasty flavor and blends well with the darker roasted malts.

Mike felt the awesome aroma paid off in the taste. The malts were showcased well and the molasses really brought an extra layer that made the beer special.

We didn’t pick up a lot of flavor from the oak or the scotch but it could have been a nice background layer that we would have noticed if it were not there. It may not have been hitting us over the head, but I could see how the vanilla notes would be something that the more forward flavors were building off of.

OK – so that’s our 21st homebrew swap. If you want to exchange beers with us, you can contact us on our Contact Page.

Please comment below and if you like these kinds of videos, please subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Brew On!

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