This Week on BrewZasters: Brewing a Single-Hopped Ale

Humulus lupulus

The hop plant with cones. The cones hold the hop oil which give beer its bitterness. (Photo credit – Flickr)

This week on BrewZasters, we brew a beer using a single type of hop–in this case the Falconer’s Flight hop.

Many in the Lake County Homebrewers club are brewing these Single Hop Experiment (SHE) ales this month with the plan to compare, contrast, and exchange the beers at our meeting next month (which should occur on August 2o–the 3rd Monday of the month–at 6pm).

The recipe is very simple. The grain bill is: 9.5 lbs of 2-row malted barley, 0.75 lbs of crystal 60L malted barley, and 0.5 lbs of crystal 15L malted barley. Mash at 152F (this should give a specific gravity after the boil of 1.050).  Then the amount of hop added at 60 minutes is calculated to deliver 25 International Bittering Units (IBU–I calculated 0.68 oz of Falconer’s Flight would give 25 IBU), then 1 oz of the hop at 10 minutes and 1 minute before the end of the boil, and 1 oz of the hop in the fermenter as a “dry hop.” The yeast is White Labs California Ale WLP001.

Other than slightly scorching the bottom of my mash tunand ripping a gaping hole in my BIAB bag that I use for my mash…oh and raising the mash temperature waaaay too high again, and I’m a gallon short (4.5 gallons yield), the brew went swimmingly. The wort tastes great. Now, we wait for 14 days….

Hop inventories are good in the United States

The inventory of hops held by growers dealers, and brewers on March 1, 2012, totaled 117 million pounds which is 3 percent less than the USDA‘s revised March 1. 2011 estimate. Still, this is the second highest level for March 1 hop stocks ever recorded. The previous record of 121 million pounds was set on March 1, 2011.

March 2012 hop stocks are down 3% from 2011’s numbers but still very high compared to years previous.

The United States Department of Agriculture‘s National Agricultural Statistics Service reports on hops can be found at

Yeast Ranching notes

These are some notes I took when the owner/brewer of the soon-to-be-opened Kelsey Creek Brewing gave a seminar on yeast ranching to some members of the Lake County Homebrewers club.


To grow and cultivate (aka “ranch”) yeast you want clean clear wort with the trub precipitated out to mix with agar to put on the petri dishes. You will also need inoculation loops and  inoculation needles.

Required for yeast ranching:


Sprinkle agar over the top of the cooled wort. Do not dump the agar rather sprinkle in around (7g/250ml). No need to stir. Sanitation is not critical yet, since it will go into a pressure cooker which serves as an autoclave. Be sure to add nutrient to your wort.
After it has been used, every time you touch something in the pressure cooker you spray it with isopropyl 70 alcohol.

Pour the agar & wort solution using the “pacman” technique
Make sure the agar sets up ~45min before flipping over to lessen the condensation

Place a drop of diluted yeast solution on the dish with the agar. Then remember the spot and drop sterile saline on the yeast’s spot.

Then use the needle to drag the drop to streak it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nice to haves:

  • Hemocytometer (local veterinary offices may have these lying around)
  • microscope

To check yeast viability a bulb flask is used (9 ml of sterile and 1 ml of yeast and 1 drop of methylene blue) and .0001 ml of of solution is placed on hemocytometer slide


Kegdroid demo. Can Apple iKeg be far behind?

I am more of an Apple lover. But you have to admit that Google’s Droid seems to be out in front in the cold beer dispensing software. [At ~4 minutes in on the video the creator demonstrates how to pour a very foamy beer] Can an Apple iKeg be far behind?

For the hops junkies out there: Randall the Enamel Animal, Jr

You say you just can’t get enough hops (or other spices) in your beer? You say that if the International Bittering Units aren’t off the scale the beer is not worth drinking. Then you need to search no further because the folks at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery have an answer for you. It used to be that you would have to have your own full-sized Randall the Enamel Animal, but now through the miracle of science (or marketing…one of those anyway)for only $19.99 (it sounds so much less than $20, doesn’t it) plus shipping you can get your own Randall the Enamel Animal Jr.

Here is what the folks at Dogfish Head have to say about Jr:

So you’ve tried to acquire the Randall 3.0 and it’s either out of stock or out of your price range, right? Well, we heard you and here’s the answer! The same concept in a much more convenient size and price tag. The Randall Jr. allows you to infuse your favorite brew with just about whatever ingredients you can think up. Midas Touch with lime and mint? Yes please! World Wide Stout with espresso beans? You betcha! Just place the ingredients in the Randall Jr. and pour the beer right over them. Place in a cold climate such as the fridge for 10 minutes or so and you’ve got an amazing concoction on your hands! Share with a friend…or not…we’re not judging.

It also makes a terrific stocking stuffer for the beer drinker in your life.

Taking a beer with off flavors to 1st place at Battle of the Brews

Oh Well, What the Hell a couple of weeks following bottle conditioning.

As you may recall (well probably not), on December 28 I brewed a beer that was supposed to be a Laurel India Pale Ale. Since the pre-boil specific gravity came in way too low for an India Pale Ale, I decided to make it a Pale Ale. Simple Pale Ales are not simple to make. There is no place to hide any imperfections. And, after 10 days in the fermenter, I tasted slight soapy and buttery flavors in the new beer. According to John Palmer’s “How to Brew” website, a soapy flavor can result from the breakdown of the fatty acids that are in the trub at the bottom of your fermenter. Butter flavors can result from diacetyl. To some extent a buttery flavor might not be bad. But it can also indicate that your yeast did not start on time.

It has 5.5% ABV and and calculates out to 43 IBU.

Given these imperfections, would we bottle or would we throw the whole batch down the drain?

Well, we here out Flog This Dead (Mule) Brewery looked at our flavor profiles and realized we have no flavor profiles. We wondered if our degrees Plato were met, and we had no idea what that meant. Finally, we checked our standards, and realized we had none, well, maybe not none, but extremely low.

So, since we have incredibly low standards (after all, we answer to no one but ourselves) we went ahead and bottled, and hoping to mask the dish soap flavor, we used honey for the bottle conditioning fermentation.

Now, with only moments to go before we have to serve this beer–which we have renamed after some dead guy and claimed that it’s based on a 1200 year-old recipe involving wild honey and monk sweat–at the homebrewers portion of the semi-prestigious Battle of the Brews beer event. Let’s hope the honey will fool people into thinking the stuff tastes okay.

[Norm smiles and opens doors while carrying boxes filled with bottles of beer named after some dead guy and claiming that it’s based on a 1200 year-old recipe]

The Oh Well, What the Hell Pale Ale garnered 36 points at the Battle of the Brews in Santa Rosa, 2nd place had 35 points, and 3rd had 33.5 points. Woo hoo!

Success! Oh Well took 1st place in the homebrewers tasting competition in BJCP #10A American Pale Ale category.

“Drink good beer, my friends.”

From our friends at Breckenridge Brewery.

‘California Pilgrimage’ [part three] — Michael Jackson’s The Beer Hunter‏

In this piece from California Pilgrimage, Michael Jackson and Fritz Maytag (and members of the Anchor Beer team) watch the harvest of the barley for Anchor’s Christmas Ale. They are at a farm near Tule Lake near the Oregon border.

The Dutch sub-titles add a certain je ne sais quoi.

Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter, died of a heart attack in August of 2007 at the age of 65. He had suffered from Parkinson’s and diabetes.

‘California Pilgrimage’ [part one] — Michael Jackson’s The Beer Hunter

“To a beer hunter,”says Michael Jackson in this episode, “America’s Northwest beckons like a new frontier.”

This ‘California Pilgrimage’ episode of the Beer Hunter was produced in the mid-1990s.

Cover of "Beer (Eyewitness Companions)"

Cover of Beer (Eyewitness Companions)

The Dutch sub-titling adds a certain je ne sais quoi.

Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter, died of a heart attack in August of 2007 at the age of 65. He had suffered from Parkinson’s and diabetes.

The history of beer – King Tut and the magic microbes

Egypt: Thebes

The hieroglyphs read, “Beer, allowing ugly people to have sex since 5998 BCE.” (Photo credit: Brooklyn Museum)

As word etymologist John Ciardi said, “Fermentation and civilization are inseparable.”

We humans have been putting microbes to work for us for over 8,000 years, starting in ancient Egypt. If you watched the Discovery channel’s Brew Masters episode, Ancient Ale, you’ll know that beer and bread are closely aligned. Archeologists suspect that a piece of bread fell into a vat of soaking grain, making a gruel with yeast to begin the fermentation process. In those days, beer was used as payment for work.

Nowadays, we consume over 34,000,000,000 gallons of beer annually for the pleasure of simply slaking our thirst.