Moving into all-grain brewing

Gary Glass, President of the American Homebrewers Association appears in this video. The video shows him pouring crushed malted grains into a plastic ice-chest and adding hot water (hot liquor in beer geek speak) to the grains and making a porridge (aka mash).

There is a formula for deciding how hot (the strike temp) the water you add should be to get the desired temperature for the mash (the target mash temp is quite often ~149F-152F).

After the grain(the mash)  has steeped for a while (60 minutes is common), the liquid wort is drained out to be boiled. (The ice-chest has some tubing on the outside and some screening on the inside to allow the sweet wort out and keep the spent grains in.) After the wort has been captured, it is boiled (60 minutes is common) just as an extract batch would be.

How does yeast affect the taste of a beer?

Last Saturday as part of the American Homebrewers Association‘s Learn to Homebrew Day our club the Lake County Homebrewers set up our equipment at Guido’s Pizza in Kelseyville, CA to demonstrate and explain how to brew your own beer. (If you would like to start brewing your own but missed Learn to Homebrew Day see: From no brew to homebrew: Make your own beer in 3 simple steps)

The basic recipe was:
1/2 tsp   Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)         (Mash 60.0 mins)
5 lbs         Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
4.1 lbs     Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
14.5 oz     Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)
7.3 oz     Caramel/Crystal Malt – 20L (20.0 SRM)
7.3 oz     Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM)
7.3 oz     Melanoiden Malt (20.0 SRM)
0.47 oz     Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %]     First Wort Hopped (FWH) 75.0 min
0.94 oz     Centennial [10.00 %]             Boil 20.0 min
1         Whirlfloc Tablet                 (Boil 15.0 mins)
1/2 tsp     Yeast Nutrient                 (Boil 15.0 mins)
1/2 tsp    Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)         (Boil 15.0 mins)
0.91 oz     Simcoe [13.00 %]                 Boil 10.0 min
0.91 oz     Centennial [10.00 %]             Aroma Steep 1.0 min
0.91 oz     Simcoe [13.00 %]                 Aroma Steep 1.0 min

Est Original Gravity: 1.060 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.1 %
Bitterness: 56.4 IBUs
Est Color: 9.5 SRM

Once the wort had been boiled and the hops added (along with the other stuff) we mixed all the batches together and then divvied it up to different members who would then add yeast to the wort (and begin the conversion to beer).

The wort up to just before the yeast is added will taste identical. To be sure, the water, hops, and malted barleys will all have contributed to the taste of the beer. Yet, the addition of the yeast will significantly change the taste of the final products.

Here is a list of the different yeasts that were added to the worts:

  • American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) [124.21 ml]
  • American Ale II (Wyeast Labs #1272) [124.21 ml]
  • Belgian Golden Ale (White Labs #WLP570) [35.49 ml]
  • Belgian Style Ale Yeast Blend (White Labs #WLP575) [35.49 ml]
  • London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318) [124.21 ml]
  • London Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1028) [124.21 ml]
  • London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968) [124.21 ml]
  • San Francisco Lager (White Labs #WLP810) [35.49 ml]
  • Thames Valley Ale (Wyeast Labs #1275) [124.21 ml]
  • Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois (White Labs #WLP650 644) [50.28 ml] [Add to Secondary]

The first two American Ale yeasts are the “controls” and should produce the closest thing to a beer at a brewpub. I chose to try a California/San Francisco Lager yeast. Below is a quick video of how the yeast looks on the day after it was pitched (added).

This shows San Francisco lager yeast eating the sugars in the beer. As the Wyeast website describes this yeast as “particularly well suited for producing 19th century-style West Coast beers with woody/minty hop flavor. It retains lager characteristics at temperatures up to 65°F (18°C) and produces malty, brilliantly clear beers.” This beer is fermenting just a little out of the preferred temperature range. I may add a wet t-shirt to it to try to lower the heat.

Lake County Homebrew Club to Meet 6 PM June 18, 2012 at Guido’s Pizza

Are you in Lake County and want to learn how to make your own beer? We can help.

Our next scheduled Lake County Homebrew Club (visit our Facebook page here) meeting is set for Monday June 18th, 2012 at 6 PM at at Guido’s Pizza in Kelseyville.

We do not have an agenda, but I would bet we will be talking about the Lake County Home Wine Makers Festival, which will take place in Lakeport, CA on June 23rd from 1:00-5:00 pm.

In the past we have poured samples of our homebrew at this event. This year, sadly, we will not be pouring samples. While the California Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) may issue a special daily license to a group conducting a picnic, social, or similar gathering, the local ABC officials interpret this as applying only to commercially made beer and wine.

According to the American Homebrewers Association page on statutes:

California represents one of the most comprehensive state statutes. §23356.2 also provides for the removal of beer manufactured in the home for use in competitions, tastings, or judgings.

It seems ABC interprets these tastings to be between others who are also homebrewers. And, they can, without a warrant, confiscate brewing equipment.

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Lake County Homebrewers to do a Big Brew for National Homebrew Day – May 5

Are you interested in learning about brewing using malted barley grain? The Lake County Homebrewers will have at least 3 brewing systems set up and will be brewing from 11 AM until 5PM on May 5, 2012 at Mt. Konocti Winery (I know brewing beer at a winery, can you believe that?). Come over and watch us brew beer! Mount Konocti Winery is located at 2550 Big Valley Road, Kelseyville, CA 95451.

We are eager to answer any questions about the brewing process; a process that goes back 10,000 years.

Grain going into the Two Dude Brew mill

The Lake County Homebrewers will be doing this demonstration as part of the nationwide American Homebrewers Association‘s Big Brew on their National Homebrew Day.

This just in (4/24/12 @ 3pm): The American Homebrewers Association says:

Get your request in before midnight on Thursday (4.26) to receive copies of “Zymurgy: An Introduction to Homebrewing” for your AHA Big Brew event!

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

We will be brewing a big (high gravity) beer. Last year we brewed a stout that was then aged in a bourbon barrel. This year we are considering :

  • Barley Wine/Imperial Stout – 9.7% aged in Bourbon Barrel Similar to Old Rasputin by North Coast Brewing Company.

    Boiling the 'wort' (the liquid runoff after steeping--mashing--the grains)

    Using White Labs WLP001 or Fermentis Safale 05 yeast.

  • Strong Belgian Blonde Ale aged in Chardonnay Barrel 10% ABV using WLP500
  • Blonde Wheat aged in Chardonnay 8.5% similar to Blue Moon Chardonnay Blonde could possibly add orange peel and coriander using either a Wit, Hefe, or Belgian Yeast Strain
  • Saison aged in Chardonnay Barrel – 8.5% using WLP566 Saison Yeast or Wyeast 3711
  • India Pale Ale (English style) Using White Labs WLP002 or Fermentis Safale 04 yeast.

Whatever we end up brewing, we would love to see you there.

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AHA Big Brew Day 2012 in Lake County

According to the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) site the AHA Big Brew – A Celebration of National Homebrew Day will be on May 5, 2012. And, the two recipes of the day will be 1) an American Brown Ale or a or 2) Northern English Brown Ale. The link to these recipes are at

The setup on patio of Guido's Pizza in Kelseyville

The Lake County Homebrewers as a group have not yet decided where (although the Featherbed Railroad Bed & Breakfast has offered to host the club) and what to brew on the AHA Big Brew Day 2012. Last year we brewed a stout that was then aged in a bourbon barrel.

We’d like to try another barrel, so if anyone knows of a barrel–cheap–we’d love to hear about it.

Homebrewers Convention 2012. Hmm…my 10th anniversary is in 2012. Maybe…

Hmm…I wonder if there’s a way that I can sell a trip to Seattle, June 21-23, 2012 for the National Homebrewers Conference as a celebration of our tenth wedding anniversary?

Registration begins February 1, 2012.

Guess I will have to start brewing up my entry soon. The first entries are due March 19-28, 2012.

Don’t you love the concerned woman’s comment about bigfoot? “He smelled like diacetyl!

I am a Homebrewer – five reasons you should be one too

  1. Homebrewing offers you the chance to be creative. If you want habañero and pine needles infused beer, you can have habañero and pine needles infused beer. Light or dark…pink, if that’s lights your candle, is yours to make.
  2. Homebrewing gives you honest feedback as to whether you did it correctly. Other art forms and sports require subjectivity. Beer doesn’t lie.[1]If your beer has a problem, it tells you.
  3. When you homebrew, you know what goes into your beer. Only the finest habañeros for your habañero infused beer.
  4. When you homebrew, you connect with a tradition that is thousands of years old.
  5. When you homebrew, you will learn the secret handshake that all homebrewers around the world know that gets them free beer at all places that serve good beer. [2]

[1]Obviously, when you enter tasting competitions that is different. Beer however will make you think you are stronger, wittier, smarter, cleverer, handsomer, than you really are.
[2]I made that last one up. There is no secret handshake.