Brew Dudes

Homebrewing Blog and Resource

5 Beer Brewing Note Taking Tips

5 Tips For Better Homebrewing Note-Taking

Hey, we’ve talked about taking notes to improve your beer brewing since the early days of the blog. Now, we have 5 solid tips to take better notes. Watch this video to get the info you need to know for adding this tactic to your pursuit of homebrewing greatness.

What Are Those Tips?

If you like to scan, here’s the plan, Stan.

Have a Note-Taking Goal

Before you start taking notes, you have a goal. If you are already taking notes, maybe now is the time to re-evaluate “the why” of your note-taking practice. What specifically are you hoping to accomplish by taking notes? It can be a good number of things like improving a part of your brew session. Whatever it is, take note of the goal and use it as a guide.

Know What Info You Want to Capture to Achieve Your Goal

Once you have your goal, figure out what you want to capture. Understand what you want to use in the future to fix issues or improve a future beer brewing session. There will be components that you want to write down or input into your notes to meet your goal(s). Once you have the items you want to capture, it’s time to set up the notes for success.

Be Consistent and Make it Easy

Note-taking is a practice and it needs to be a habit. You want to make the process easy so you can include it in every brew session. With your goal or goals set and the items you need to capture, you can streamline your note-taking. Based on what you’re trying to accomplish, you might not need to take down every little thing about your homebrew – and that’s ok. Make it easy and make it a habit.

Have a Back-Up Plan Your Note Storage

If you’re using notebooks, have an electronic copy. Better yet, save it to the Cloud so you can access it where you can get an internet connection. This tip may be overkill but if you’re going to put the effort into it, then you should take step to protect your note-taking investment.

Review Your Notes

Notes don’t have much value if you don’t look them over. Your goal should guide your ongoing review of the data you’re capturing. Since you’re working towards some outcome, the only way you will know if you have arrived is by checking your notes. Build a notes review before you start planning your next brew session, and you will be that much closer to homebrewing excellence.

Here’s an example of a brew sheet:

Hope this is helpful. As always, BREW ON!

How To Train Your Taste Buds

…or how to look silly on YouTube wearing a blindfold and eating fruit.

Descriptions of hop aromas and flavors sometimes use fruit to help us understand them better. Well, what if you don’t really understand fruit flavors and aromas? We think you should get to know flavors. With practice and maybe some sensory deprivation, you too can train your taste buds. In this video, Mike set up an experiment for me to see if I could pick out the fruit from what I was tasting with a blindfold on. Watch to see how I did and how you can start your training as well.

The Blind Tasting

Here are the fruits that Mike set up and how I fared on picking them out.

Blueberries

These were easy. I have been eating this fruit all my life and the flavor was easily recognizable. They were still in their berry form so I guess I would have recognized their shape too, but the taste clicked in my brain first. As much as I like Mosaic hops, may they be Cryo or not, I have yet to get anything “notably blueberry” out of them.

Peaches

Another fruit that I have a long history with. Even though they were in a cube shape, the flavor was strong and I picked it up quickly. I even said they tasted like canned peaches and Mike backed me up stating that they were in light syrup. Many NEIPAs have a peachy flavor (not necessarily hop derived) but it good to match this flavor with the original.

Green Grapes

My ability to recognize the fruits went downhill starting here, where Mike peeling grapes made it hard to figure them out. Without the skins, the insides of green grapes are sweet – almost pear in flavor. The texture was soft so I knew it wasn’t pear so I took this part of the blind tasting as a learning moment. Many times, Mike describes hop flavors that are fruity but are not berry, citrus, or stone fruit as green grape. I think this flavor is strongly connected to melon and pear.

Lychee

Oh boy – this one was weird. Earthly and plum-like, this little globe was difficult to place. Now, I am not a lychee expert. I may have had one when I was on a business trip. I can tell you, with a blindfold on and a camera on to capture it, this was the first time I tasted canned lychees. Yes, they do have a sweetness but they are strange. I am not sure I have encountered them as a flavor in a beer…yet.

You Can Train Your Sense Of Taste Too

So, hopefully you take something away from this video. I can say I was a bit hesitant to go through with this tasting blindfolded, but it did take a big part of my ability to take information into my brain out of the experiment.

This kind of set up may be extreme but it was helpful for me. If you don’t want to go through with a full blind tasting, a good place to start in training your taste buds is being more mindful when you eat. Take time to understand what you are experiencing when you taste food and commit it to memory. It takes practice but with time, you’ll get better at it.

Also – try foods you have never tried before. Expand your knowledge of food. See if you can put descriptors to new food or even new dishes at restaurants. Mindful eating is a great part of getting to be a better taster of beer.

BREW ON!

Viewer Submitted Beer Recipe #1 – Extract NEIPA

After asking for recipes and then announcing what we were going to do with them, we finally have a post that shows the brewing and the tasting of one of those recipes. This one was chosen at random and we’ll continue that way until we’re done (maybe next century). Check out this extract hoppy pale ale that was sent to us.

The Recipe That Was Submitted

We got this recipe sent to us from Charlie. It’s for an extract NEIPA (or NEPA but who’s counting?). He writes:

“This is a 5 gallon batch where the only time I worry about the 5 gallon amount is in the fermentor.”

Ingredients

5 US gallons (9 Liters) of store-bought RO water
6 pounds (2.72 kg) Pilsen DME (dry malt extract)
2 ounces (57 g) of Mosaic hops
2 ounces (57 g) of Citra hops
2 ounces (57 g) of Amarillo hops
1 package of Fermentis Safale S-04

Starting gravity: 1.050
Finished gravity: 1.011-1.014 (whatever the yeast finishes at)

Instructions

I heat the full 5 gallons of water to anywhere between 120 and 150° F and add the malt extract, then let it come to as rigorous of a boil as you can get for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, I cut the heat source (I use a propane burner), and then I add 1 ounce each of Mosaic, Citra, and Amarillo hops and do a 10 minute hop stand. When the 10 minutes are up, I cool the wort. I cool it until I feel comfortable putting it into my PET plastic fermentor, which usually is sub-80 degrees F. At this point, I’m usually 1/4 to 1/2 a gallon short of of 5 gallons in the fermentor, so I’ll add cold filtered water we have here at home until I’m back up to 5 gallons. When the wort has reached between 68 F and 72 F, then I’ll add the packet of yeast (S-04).

The next day, anywhere between 12-24 hours into active fermentation (whenever I’m home and I notice high-krausen), I’ll add the remaining hops, which is 1 oz each of Mosaic, Citra, and Amarillo.

Once fermentation is done (4-6 days), I’ll rack the beer to a CO2 purged keg and carbonate the beer.

Our Tasting Notes and Other Thoughts

I wish I had remembered to say this point on camera, but these three hop varieties work wonderfully together. Here are the reported Alpha Acids on the hop pellets that I used.

Mosaic – 12.6%
Citra – 12.9%
Amarillo – 8.1%

I can tell you as the one who brewed this beer that effort to enjoyment ratio is tipped strongly to the enjoyment side. The brew day was quick and the turnaround was fast as well.

This beer is light in body so it made for quick pints. The hop flavor is tremendous and as Mike stated, only 6 ounces in the whole recipe. It does bring into question the need for 2 or 3 times the weight in hops called for in some recipes (cough, like my own).

Charlie wrote to us and asked if he should add maltodextrin to add more mouthfeel. The beer is great as is. It is certainly something he could experiment and try in his next brewing.

Thanks for the recipe. Hope you enjoyed the post. More to come.

BREW ON!

Brewing with Hop Oils – Strata Hops Experiment

As the story goes, I was at HomeBrewCon and I stopped by a booth where Oast House Oils were set up and showing off their wares. There were a few varieties of hop oils available for purchase so I bought a pouch. When I got home, I opened it to find a 1 milliliter vial of hop oil. With that, I made a plan.

We brewed a SMaSH beer with Strata before but what if we brewed with Strata hop oil? Well, that’s what we tried to figure out with this post.

Hop Oil In The SMaSH Format

So for this experiment, I followed my typical one US gallon batch procedure. I used 2 pounds (907 g) of malt – this time, it was Golden Promise pale malt – mashed in 2 US gallons of water. Boiled for 60 minutes, I added a smidge of Strata hops pellets at the beginning of the boil.

After it was chilled, I added 3 grams of US-05 dry yeast to my 1 gallon jug. At day 3 of fermentation, I added 2 drops from the hop oil vial to the jug. After fermentation was over, I racked the beer to a keg and carbonated it.

The first pour was not as potent as I thought it would be. I was expecting more from the oil. So, to paraphrase Mike, I made adjustments because I am a homebrewer. I added a few more drops to the keg and put it back in the fridge.

What Did We Think?

You have the hand it to the oil – it had all of the flavor and aroma without the green material. We perceived a clean and precise quality to the entire bouquet. It really impressed on us that the hop oil was a premium product and produced what it said it would.

We still couldn’t get any strawberry out of the aroma/flavor profile but there was a present fruit note. The dankness that is described with this hop was present but it wasn’t super strong.

We think these hop oils would blend well with your typical hop pellets or cones. Check them out at oasthopoils.com and tell them Mike and John sent you.

Cheers and BREW ON!

The Viewer Submitted Beer Recipe Series

A few weeks ago, we came up with the idea that people who watch us on YouTube and follow our blog could send us recipes to brew. We didn’t know what kind of response we would get but it was nice to see that it was positive. Now that we have too many recipes, here are our next steps.

We’re also color coordinated

Simple Idea – Simple Plan

I knew the idea of asking for viewer submitted recipes was simple. Where it gets tricky is how to choose which beer to brew. Thanks to a Microsoft Excel formula, I was able to pick one randomly. With that part simplified, we can get onto the simple part of brewing these beers.

First up, we have an extract NEIPA from Charlie Gillis. This recipe is a good one using DME and a variety of hops we know are tasty. We will have this beer ready to tasting sooner than you think.

Beyond The First Recipe

We plan to brew a submitted recipe every other month. The Jar of Destiny brewing schedule has us busy so we need to plan around it. The Jar takes priority – damn jar – but I think we can get a submitted recipe brew in the off months.

Thanks for reading. If you have questions, let us know.

Cheers and Brew on!

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