Brew Dudes

Homebrewing Blog and Resource

2021 Brew Dudes Harvest Ale

2021 Harvest Ale – Chinook Hops & Verdant IPA Yeast

It’s that time of year again. We take our homegrown hops, formulate a recipe, and brew it up. If you caught our live stream back on November 6th on YouTube, you saw us brew it. Let’s see how the 2021 Brew Dudes Harvest Ale turned out.

Happy harvest ale!

This Year’s Harvest Ale Recipe

Every year is a little different but we always use homegrown hops in our Harvest Ales. Here is the 2021 recipe:

Boil Size: 6.5 US Gallons 0r 24.6 Liters

Grain Bill

83% Rahr Pale Malt – 10 pounds or 4.5 kilograms
8% Special Roast Malt – 1 pound or .45 kilograms
4% Rahr White Wheat Malt – 0.5 pounds or .22 kilograms
4% Faucett Oat Malt – 0.5 pounds or .22 kilograms

Hops

All the hops used in this recipe were grown in my backyard and are of the Chinook variety

2.5 ounces or 71 grams – added as a First Wort Hop
2.5 ounces or 71 grams – added at 20 minutes to go in the boil
2 ounces or 57 grams – added at 2 minutes to go in the boil

Estimating 11% Alpha Acid content of these hops, that’s 77 Alpha Acid Units (AAU) peeps

Yeast

1 packet of Lalbrew Verdant IPA yeast

Extra Stuff

Campden tablet – added to the water before the boil

Whirlfloc tablet – added with 15 minutes to go in the boil

Notes and Stats

Mashed at 150° F or 66° C for 60 minutes
Fermented at 68°F or 20° C for 2 weeks

Starting Gravity – 1.051
Final Gravity – 1.011
Estimated ABV – 5.25%

How Did It Taste?

The beer appears pale amber in the glass with citrus pithy aromas. I was hoping I would get some peach notes in there but it was all my imagination. The flavor follows through with a strong grapefruit impression tied with a piney, resiny aftertaste.

The mouthfeel has this essence – it comes off as medium full, but it’s more of this softness coming from the specialty malts and the yeast which really sets it apart from other Harvest ales I have brewed.

The 2021 version is good. I think may have liked last year’s beer more. I am really glad I used the Verdant yeast. It really produced a nice American Pale Ale.

BREW ON!

The pros and cons of IBUs

The Pros & Cons of Using IBUs In Modern Brewing

In this post, we discuss International Bittering Units, also known as IBUs. We let Mike talk about what they are and what they are trying to calculate. We also wonder if how much importance they have in today’s beer brewing culture. So, strap in – here’s Mike IBU rant.

What Are IBUs Anyway?

Mike starts off by defining what the unit measures. Each bittering unit is a milligrams per liter of isomerized alpha acids from the hops used in brewing the beer. The creation of this unit of measure is an attempt to quantify the bitterness in beers. It’s nice to have a number for a sense of bitterness but the number depends on calculations of utilization.

The Complication Of The Calculations

As Mike states, it’s taking the number of alpha acid units times the amount of utilization. The first part of that equation, the alpha acid units, is easy to figure out. It’s the amount of hops by weight in your recipe multiplied by the percent of alpha acids (%AA) reported in the hops in your recipe. The utilization part of the equation is not as simple. That part is estimating how quickly the alpha acids in the hops will isomerize and it based on factors like:

  • Weight of Hops Added to the Boil
  • The Amount of Time The Hops Are Boiled
  • The Density of the Wort

Mike says there are other factors that can alter utilization including protein content in the wort, mineral profile of the water, and the true alpha acid percentage of the hops.

So, although it’s nice to have a number, it’s hard to know how helpful that number is.

The Modern Day Brewing Process

With all of the hazy IPAs we’re brewing, we homebrewers still calculate IBUs. Does that make sense? Many times, I don’t add any hops to the boil at all. How can I calculate the IBUs in my beer if the hops haven’t isomerized? Since the utilization of alpha acids is not part of many beers, IBUs can’t be calculated. Therefore, IBUs just aren’t a thing for many beers. Mike rants that they aren’t a thing for hard seltzers either.

Maybe Just Report Alpha Acid Units

With these Brew Dudes recipes, we will make a concerted effort to report out on the alpha acid units (AAU) of our recipes. To us, that makes the most sense for your replication. Even if we don’t have the AAU number for you, you can still calculate it based on the amounts we publish in our recipes.

Hope that helps – let us know what you think of IBUs!

Brew on!

Marzen Homebrew Swap

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #44

We brew beer at home. You do too. Sometimes, we share our beer. We’ve done this 44 times on the old blog/vlog. Check out the latest homebrew swap – exchange number 44 – where we talk about a classic lager style.

6 months of lagering is looking good.

Märzen From Uxbridge

Scott, who lives in our home state of Massachusetts, dropped off beer for us to taste. Since Mike brewed a Märzen, we thought we would taste another example.

This beer is based on the recipe found in the Brewing Classic Styles book. If you don’t have that book yet, get it. It’s a good place to start for any beer style recipe.

The grain bill is a combination of Pilsner, Munich, and Vienna malts. These malts bring the flavor backbone needed for the style.

The German hops brings a floral spiciness that balanced out the malt flavors from the grains.

Scott used well water which made for a clean brew. He did not adjust his water chemistry at all and the outcome was a fine example of the Märzen style.

The only note we had on it was the bitterness of the hops could have been increased a bit. When you lager beers for months, the hop profile may mellow. Adding more hops at the beginning of the boil could help protect against this effect.

Thanks for the beer, Scott. Brew on!

SMaSH Beer Comparison: Michigan vs. PNW Grown Hops

Continuing our exploration into hops that are attached to the state of Michigan, either by name or by origin, we present a side by side comparison of a well known hop variety.

One packet of hop pellets came from the growing region of the Pacific Northwest (PNW). The other packet came from a farm in Michigan. Since these are the same hop variety, the aromas and flavors should be the same if we brewed the same beer and just switched the hops, right?

We knew that wouldn’t be the case but we wanted to understand the difference that terroir brings to the hops. That’s why we bring to you this SMaSH Beer Comparison.

See what we thought when we tasted these two beers side-by-side and discussed the differences between Yakima Valley grown Centennial hops vs. Michigan grown Centennial hops.

Can you see the difference? I didn’t think so.

The SMaSH Beer Brewing Process

Each of these beers were brewed in a one gallon batch format, using 2 pounds of Great Western pale malt and 1 ounce of hops. Mashing for 60 minutes at 150°F (66°C), both of the worts were boiled for 60 minutes and the hops were added at these times:

3.5 grams (.125 ounces) at 60 minutes to go in the boil.

7 grams (.25 ounces) at 15 minutes to go in the boil.

10.5 grams (.375 ounces) at flameout

7 grams (.25 ounces) dry hop addition at day 3 of fermentation

Good ol’ US-05 was used to ferment for 10 days at 68°F (20°C)

Both were chilled and then kegged/force carbonated

The Centennial Hops Difference

Well, certainly there was a difference. Sometimes, these Brew Dudes try to guess which beer is which. We played that game for this comparison but it wasn’t hard to win.

The beer that used the Yakima Valley Chief Centennial was super citrusy with some pine notes. It was everything we have come to know about this hop variety.

The beer that used Michigan grown Centennial hops from the Hop Craft Supply Company had muted citrus flavors with more of a green pepper and diesel quality to them.

We did noted that the packet stated it was a 2018 lot – we are hoping that the age of the hop pellets didn’t play a huge role in the differences, but noting for the sake of knowledge.

Thanks to Vinnie in PA for supplying all the hops for this comparison.

Brew ON!

Michigan Copper Hops packet with vital details of its content.

Michigan Copper Hops SMaSH Beer Tasting

As you may know, most of the hops produced in the USA are grown in the Pacific Northwest. There are other states that are hop producers but just at a smaller scale. One of our viewers, Vinnie from PA, sent us some hops for us to try. For the record, these hops were grown in Wisconsin even though they have another state in their name. Check out this SMaSH beer tasting video of Michigan Copper hops.

Michigan Copper Hops From Tenacious Badger Hops

Brewing With Michigan Copper Hops

I followed the typical procedure for this 1 US gallon SMaSH beer batch.

  • I used 2 pounds of American pale malt, 2 gallons of water, 1 ounce of hops, and a few shakes from a US-05 yeast packet (about 3 grams)
  • My mash is held at 150°F for an hour and the boil is for a hour
  • Hop Addition #1: 15 minutes to go in the boil (7 grams)
  • Hop Addition #2: At Flameout (14 grams)
  • Hop Addition #3: Day 3 of fermentation
  • Fermentation happens for 10 days at 68°F

After fermentation, the beer is racked to a small keg and then forced carbonated for tasting.

This packet of hops came from Tenacious Badger Hops, and they are ferociously committed to quality hops. Here are the specifications they listed on the package.

  • Alpha Acids: 9.4%
  • Beta Acids: 3.2%
  • Total Oil Content: 1.14%

Now, how did they present themselves in this beer?

The Tasting Notes

The aroma of these hops had a bouquet of kids breakfast cereal. You know the ones, like Trix or Froot Loops.

It carried through to the flavor too. Mike didn’t like it. I thought it was ok.

The aftertaste had more grapefruit pith notes than we expected. It was an interesting transition from that artificial fruit flavor.

I think these hops could play with other tropical fruit note hops like Sabro. Also, I think it’s good to try out beer ingredients from different parts of the world. It may be strange or scary to try them, but be adventurous in your homebrewing journey.

Brew On!

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