Brew Dudes

Homebrewing Blog and Resource

Altbier Brewed With K97 Ale Yeast

Mike was in the mood for an Altbier. For where we are in the world, it’s the right season for this German ale style. The colder room temperatures we get in the winter are great for the fermentation. In this edition of the Brew Dudes blog, we review a version of this classic style that was brewed with a new-to-homebrewers dry yeast strain: SafAle K-97 German Ale Dry Yeast from Fermentis. Let’s learn about this one together, shall we?

Mike’s Altbier Recipe

First off, here’s what Mike brewed. His recipes are now in a 3 US Gallon format because he is using his BrewZilla and has a couple of kegs that suit this batch size. They allow him to do easy closed transfers too.

Boil size: 3.75 US gallons
Batch size: 3 US gallons


4.5 pounds (2.04 kg) of Pilsner Malt – 80% of the grain bill
0.5 pounds (227 g) of Aromatic Malt – 9% of the grain bill
0.5 pounds (227 g) of CARAMUNICH I at 35° L – 9% of the grain bill
2 ounces (57 g) of CARAFA SPECIAL Type 3 at 470° L – 2% of the grain bill


2 ounces of Hersbrucker Hops at 2.2% AA – boiled for 60 minutes


Spring water with gypsum added to bring sulfate level to 120 PPM


The star of the show: 1 packet of SafAle K-97 German Ale Dry Yeast


Mashed at 145° F (63° C) for 40 minutes, ramping up to 155° F (68° C) for 10 minutes, and mashing out at 168° F (76 ° C) for another 10 minutes. Fermented at basement temperatures for 2 weeks. Kegged and force carbonated.


Original Gravity: 1.042
Final Gravity: 1.009
% ABV: 4.33%

Our Tremendous Tasting Notes

This beer hasn’t settled totally in the keg so it is a bit murky. Although the clarity needs work, the color is light brown with faint reddish highlights.

The malt aromas are strong. We’re not sure if we picked up any hop notes.

The flavor is dominated with a toasty, a slightly roasty character from the malts. Mike thinks the Aromatic malt is singing nicely in this beer. The malt notes are backed up by the spicy hop character from the Hersbrucker. Since this style calls for a IBU target of 50, the bitterness note should be strong in this beer. A stronger alpha acid percentage would have helped here.

Overall, high marks for how this dry yeast performed. With more time to condition in the keg, the flavor of this beer will be cleaner and more pillowy like that of a Kölsch.

Use this yeast the next time you brew an Alt!


BrewZilla All-In-One All Grain Homebrewing Beer System

BrewZilla All-Grain Brewing System: Initial Review

Well, it’s true. These Brew Dudes have entered the 21st century of homebrewing. We each have a BrewZilla All-Grain Brewing System in our respective (brew) houses. After brewing on them for a while, we came together on this video to talk about our experiences. Here’s all the good and bad stuff we have encountered using this piece of electric homebrewing equipment.

No Longer Old School

I remember a comment we received when shooting a live video on YouTube that Mike and I were brewing “old school”. Yes, we batch sparge in orange coolers and boil on propane burners. With all the investment needed for that set-up, it is hard to change your homebrewing style. Also, it works!

Certainly, all-in-one, all-grain electric brewing systems have been around for years. Finally, we’ve caught up with the rest of the world. Mike purchased his BrewZilla 3.1.1 when it was on discount. I got mine from our friend Kee Doery from Kegland.

Over the past 3 months, Mike has been brewing all of his beers on his system. I had one brew session under my belt. Based on this experience we have a few things to express about brewing on this gear.

The BrewZilla Pros and Cons

Let’s list the great things first:

We appreciate the temperature control as it reduces the need to babysit the brewing process. Set the control for the mash temp you want, add the grain, mix it well in your mash water and come back in an hour.

Mike has seen a mash efficiency bump in his brews. On his recirculating mash setup with propane burners, he gets a sugar extraction of 70%. With this system, he sees his range between 85 and 87%

He also likes using the timer so he can set the water to heat at some point in the future. It has allowed him to prep earlier in the day and use him time during the brew session to brew.

I like that I didn’t have to babysit the boil. Since I was brewing a world renowned 1 gallon SMaSH beer, there was no fear of a boil over in this system that boil up to 8 US gallons.

Lastly, it is really easy to use. Press start and set your temp. You’re good to go.

For the not-so-great thing, we don’t think the 110 voltage isn’t strong enough to produce a vigorous rolling boil. Watching my unit get to temperature and see it mildly bubbling made me want to go back to my burner. Wrapping it the right neoprene jacket and keeping the lid halfway on top could help the boil become more powerful. Certainly, we will be brewing and experimenting on these systems this year and beyond.

Brew ON!

McKenzie Hops SMaSH Review and Tasting

We got our hands on some hops from our friends at Yakima Valley Hops with the name of McKenzie hops. This variety is one that caught our eye mainly because we had never heard of them before. Maybe you are in the same boat as us. If that’s the case, learn along with us as we taste a SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) beer and talk about the aromas and flavors this hop brings to the beer.

Details of This Hop Variety

McKenzie hops are a new variety of hops bred by the West Coast Hop Breeding Company in Oregon. It’s formally known by its not ready for prime time name C-148 and it is the first experimental variety this breeding company has brought to market.

The hops have an alpha acid range of 9-11% although my pouch listed the AA as 11.7%. I’m special.

From the YVH site, this hop was first made available in 2021. Looking at the product page, you can also purchase products from the 2022 harvest. I bought a 2 ounce pouch and use half of it to brew this beer.

I produce my SMaSH beers following a 1 gallon batch format. The ingredients include 2 pounds of 2-row malt, 2 gallons of water, and 1 ounce of hops. Finally, the yeast is always SafAle US-05.

McKenzie Hops SMaSH Beer Tasting Notes

From the nose, there is a sense of something different. With each whiff, the picture becomes clearer. There is a hint of vanilla in the aroma. Along with the vanilla, there is a strong melon aroma.

In the taste, the Yakima Valley site nails the description for me – bright and fruity. Mike interprets the bright part as lime or lime-like. I taste more lemon in this hop.

We both really like this one and we hope you try it out. If you are feeling adventurous, you could brew a batch with this hop and Sabro!

Can’t wait to see the other varieties that the WCHB produces.


The House Brown Ale Series

We have discussed the topic of having “house beers” in the past. These are beers that we have on tap on the regular throughout the year. As homebrewers, we have the ability to learn beer styles and brew them excellently, tweaking recipes to get them to be just right and to our liking. One of the beer styles that Mike wants as a part of his house is English Brown Ale. This post is a first of a series where Mike will brew this style until he gets it just right.

Vacay Brown Ale Recipe

Since he brewed this recipe during his annual holiday break, Mike is calling this beer his Vacay Brown Ale. Here’s the recipe:

68% Maris Otter Pale Malt
17% American 2-row Malt
4.3% Flaked Barley
4.3% Pale Chocolate Malt
4.3% Special Roast Malt
2.1% Extra Special Malt

1 ounce (28 g) of Challenger hops – boiled for 60 minutes
1 ounce (28 g) of East Kent Goldings hops – boiled for 10 minutes

1 packet of Lallemand LalBrew Windsor Ale Dry Yeast

Spring water with 1.5 g of calcium chloride and 1.5 g of calcium sulfate added

Fermented for 2 weeks at room temperature.
Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.011
ABV: 5.5%

Our House Brown Ale Tasting Notes

First off, hats off to Mike for a crystal clear beer. The copper color really shines. It could be a little darker to wear the brown ale name better.

Remember, this is a House Brown Ale series. He can modify the color as a part of the process.

Secondly, the head is off white with a nice lacing on the glass. The aroma took a bit to get used to, but after a few sips, the malt presence is clear.

The flavor has a nice harmony of malts. We like the wheat toast note, and the lack of caramel notes.

For next time, Mike is going to play around with using chocolate malt instead of pail chocolate malt and maybe switch up the yeast.

We will have to see how the next iteration goes.


Small Batch APA – Closed Fermentation & Transfer

Mike brewed a small batch American Pale Ale (APA) to practice a closed fermentation and transfer of his beer to his keg. We know that oxygen is the enemy of hoppy beer. To defend against it, Mike has been playing around with batch sizes and repurposing some of his equipment to do complete closed fermentation. Learn more about this APA and what he did to preserve that hops goodness.

Look at that American Pale Ale.

Small Batch APA Recipe

Mike has a simple recipe for you to follow – His Pale Ale # 6

Batch size: 3 US gallons


80% Dingemans Belgian Pilsner Malt (1.6° L)
20% Light Munich Malt (~7° L)


1.5 ounces of Cascade hops at 60 minutes left in the boil
2 ounces of Cascade hops for 10 minutes left in the boil
2 ounces of Amarillo hops for 10 minutes left in the boil
1 ounce of Citra hops added as a dry hop


1 packet of LalBrew Verdant IPA yeast


Spring water treated with 1.5 grams of Calcium Chloride and 3.2 grams of Calcium Sulfate
72 ppm of Calcium
49 ppm of Chloride
100 ppm of Sulfate
0.9 ppm of Magnesium


Original Gravity: 1.048
Final Gravity: 1.010
ABV: 4.99%

Our Tasting Notes

The color of this beer is a hazy dark gold with a strong citrus aroma. The body was medium and the mouthfeel was soft. The flavor is a wonderful marriage between tropical and citrus flavors. The simple malt profile supported the hop flavor and we feel the lack of Crystal malt was a big part of this beer’s success.

Mike’s Closed Fermentation Process

With the small batch size (3 US gallons), Mike ferments right in his Torpedo keg. He uses a grey gas out connection with a blow off tube on it. At the end of fermentation, he transfers to another Torpedo keg that has been sanitized and purged with CO2.

He has modified his dip tube in his fermentation keg so that it sits a few inches off the top so that the trub doesn’t transfer over to the serving keg.

For this beer, he did open the fermentation keg to add his dry hops but he did it quickly. His big success is with the small amount of hops that he used. It still brought big flavor to the beer. With his process, he feels this beer will maintain its aroma and flavor profile for a long time.


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