This Week in BrewZasters: MyBrewCo and the Accidental IPA (on purpose)

This past week I have had some good exchanges with Michael, the designer of the website. Being a typical male, after reading in Brew Your Own (BYO) magazine that MyBrewCo existed, I jumped in and set up my own “Batch-22 Brewery (tagline: There’s Always a Batch). After I set up the Batch-22 Brewery, I posted my observations on this site (here) and Michael had responded to those (see the comments).

An Unexpected IPA. It was supposed to be an American Pale Ale.

An Unexpected IPA. It was supposed to be an American Pale Ale.

Thinking there was no time like the present to start tracking my brewing online, I tried uploading an XML file for the Accidental IPA that was exported from my BeerSmith program. This led to an error message that the recipe didn’t meet the database’s needs.  Databases are notoriously literal and don’t handle human inconsistencies well. (Michael says the standard procedure for standards is to deviate slightly from the standard.) In the end, I created the recipe on the website by picking ingredients from its drop-down menus. (Note: now when you upload a recipe the site tells you that your “File has been uploaded. We’ll process the file and let you know if the recipes need repairing. You can navigate away from this page.”)

Brewing the Accidental IPA on purpose

As you may recall, the first version Accidental IPA was supposed to be an an American pale ale from the book, “Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew” by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer. However the original gravity was higher than normal due to some alignment of things* that weren’t there before in my brewing that affected the efficiency of the brew session (apologies for the awkwardness of the sentence).  More sugars in the wort means more food for the yeast which gives the beer more alcohol in the end.

Yesterday, the plan was to brew the Accidental IPA on purpose. As always, I got out the trusty Brewer’s Logbook from for my notes–paper and pencil really help capture stuff as it’s happening. I hit the numbers that the beer needed: 12.5 gallons of 1.057 wort pre-boil and 9.5 (I wanted 10) gallons of 1.072 wort into the fermenters.

One reason for notes is that I follow Tasty McDole’s method of mashing, in that I don’t sweat trying to calculate the exact strike water amount (at 1.25 quart/1 pound of grain), but simply put in 10 gallons and then fly sparge (rinse) the grains. Keeping track of the strike water temps for different size grain bills for 10 gallons of water becomes important to put in your notes, if you want to replicate the results.

I also went to and set up a “Brew Job.” (You may set up a Brew Job only if you are registered as a “Brewery.”) I picked my recipe, named it On Purpose IPA, picked the mash schedule from the Mash Template (Infusion, Mash Out, Fly Spare, Medium [body])**, the Brewing Method (all-grain), and a few other details and told the program to “Create” the Brew Job. The program then gives you an overview of the job, including the beer’s profile (tachometer-style dials indicate the IBUs, the predicted original gravity, final gravity, ABV, and color***).  Above the dials are tabs relating to the batch: Job, Brew Day, Mashing*, Schedule, equipment, Fermentable, Hop, Miscellaneous, Yeast, Actuals (actual volumes of wort produced), Readings, Notes, Carbonation, and Batch Split.

After the instructions, the “Readings” tab is probably the most beneficial/important. It is here you add a “Reading Type” (Gravity or Temperature). Within the drop-down menu of the Temperature choice you will find: “Ambient, Grain, Mash-In, Rest, Mash-Out, Boil, Into Fermenter, Pitch, Primary, Secondary, Container, Serving.” What was missing, for me, was Strike Water temperature****.  I track the strike water temperature so that I can duplicate (or, more often, tweak it up or down because the mash temp was off) the result next time. I would like to see the strike water temperature in there (maybe it is and I missed it). I would also like to see the mash temperature listed in the recipe–mash temp controls the body of the beer. (for more on mash temperature and the body of the beer, see Brad Smith’s write-up here.)

Brewing is a craft–a mixture of art and science. You may think of brewing as I do, a simple process of making a porridge, saving the liquid and tossing out the grainy bits, boiling, cooling, and fermenting. But as you get better and acquire more knowledge, you consider more and more steps/requirements–and there are lots of those. MyBrewCo tries to help you track and manage the stuff involved in making consistently good beer, while trying to be different/better than other online brewing sites such as I wish Michael luck in this and will continue to help in dialing in the process.


The MyBrewCo website says it is designed to, “Manage your brewing online.” You can:

  • “Create and upload Recipes”.
  • “Convert Recipes between brewing methods, unit of measures and automatically scale to equipment”.
  • “Let the system manage your efficiency and automatically scale recipes”.
  • “Manage recipe versions, copy and modify any recipe in the database”.
  • Create “An online shopping list, add custom items or let the system populate when a job is created”.
  • “Use our calendar or plug your brewing schedule into your favorite application using the internet calendar”.
  • “Use our online shopping list, add custom items or let the system populate when Use our online shopping list, add custom items or let the system populate when” you are ready to do so.
  • “Manage Brew Jobs, view recipe and instructions”.
  • “Record brew day statistics for analysis.”
  • “Track efficiencies between equipment profiles”.
  • “Record gravity readings and track your beer’s fermentation”.

*Perhaps my grain grinder has the perfect alignment of its teeth so it gives the perfect crush or switching from brewing in a bag (BiAB) to fly sparging or something else made the mash efficiency go up.

**The choice of the Mash Template is quite important. On my first attempt I wasn’t paying close attention and missed this selection and the first choice in the queue was chosen by default. This would normally not be a big deal, you would go to where you could edit the mash schedule and change it. The only change allowed after the program creates the Brew Job is to change the name of the mash; the temperatures, times, and steps cannot be altered. You will need to delete the Brew Job and reenter the data.

***The color that the program gives is a 10 SRM and the beer is probably a 4.0-5.5 SRM.

****The rule of thumb is to heat the strike water 10F more than the mash temperature desired due to the cooling provided by the grain (at 1.25 quarts of water per 1 pound of grain).


Good people drink good beer

Good people drink good beer – Hunter S. Thompson

This is one of those “good news, bad news” sorts of things. The good news is that the number of craft breweries in the United States has hit a 125-year high,  and mega-breweries continue to lose market share. The bad new is the consumption of beer (and beer-like substances) is dropping. (see graph at bottom of post)

Still California is part of the boom, according to; California “saw a full 43 openings recently: 27 microbreweries, 11 brewpubs and 5 contract breweries.”

The California Craft Brewers Association says California’s craft breweries produced “more craft beer than any other state, brewing more than 2.4 million barrels (32 gallons per barrel),” meaning that “one in five craft beers brewed in the United States” is produced in California. Also, “California has more craft breweries and had more breweries open in 2012 (56) than any other state.” What can I tell you? We Californians are good people and we like good beer.

Beer trend 2000-2011 for total industry shipments. (All figures in Bbls-000. Source:

Can you make beer cheaper than you can buy it?

New Albion, now

New Albion, now (Photo credit: cizauskas)

The answer is a definite maybe not.

You may be able to brew your own beer cheaper than you can buy it at the supermarket unless we are talking a Bud/Miller/Coors product, and then only if you never make a mistake and have a bad batch (they do happen, even to the big guys), don’t include your labor time, or the equipment.

I just brewed a batch of a New Albion pale ale clone. If you’re not familiar with New Albion, it was the craft beer brewed by a micro-brewery (in the days when Anchor Brewery was considered a small brewery), the year was 1976. (I will write more about New Albion’s history in another post.) The recipe is simple with no specialty ingredients needed. It is base malt plus a small amount of hops, and water and yeast. The simplicity lowers the ingredients cost and the time.

My calculations (below) show that I can brew a New Albion clone for $0.127 per ounce versus buying one from the supermarket for about $0.136. Or put another way, a bottle of my clone costs $1.52, which is 11 cents cheaper than a store bought version. My calculations include the cost of bottles and labor (at minimum wage).

Now, you can argue that you won’t need to buy bottles every single time (and you would be right). You might not even have to buy bottles at all and have them donated to you by friends. If you go the used bottle route, there is still a cost, the cleaning and sanitizing will take time and materials to get them ready to fill.

You might not want to include your labor, but it needs to be included (even if it’s only at minimum wage rates) because it is what economists call the “opportunity cost.” Your time is not worthless. Instead of brewing beer you could be doing something else, perhaps earning money at the minimum wage. I used four hours for the time needed to set up, mash, sparge, boil, cool, transfer to fermenter, and clean up afterward (which may be a little tight). My time for all of that is around the six hour mark, which would mean that it is cheaper for me to buy my beer than to make it (by $0.17 per bottle). I am paying for the privilege and fun of the brewing day.

The cost of equipment type stuff, boil kettles, mash tuns, etc., has been ignored; though when you throw that in it certainly tips the scales in favor of the buying of commercial beers.

The costs of brewing versus the cost of buying  are here:

Ingredient price per unit unit Amount Total
2-row pale malt $0.73 lb 12 $8.76
Cascade hops $1.25 oz 2.1 $2.63
Safale American 05 yeast $2.99 ea 2 $5.98
Propane $2.49 gallon 2.5 $6.23
Bottles $12.95 case 2.2 $28.49
Corn sugar $1.95 lb 0.25 $0.49
Labor $7.25 hr 4 $29.00
Total $81.57
Price per ounce $0.127
price per 12 oz bottle $1.53
New Albion (with CRV and sales tax) $9.79 6 pack 1
Price per ounce of Sam Adams New Albion Ale $0.136
price per 12 oz bottle $1.63

California Craft Brewers newest video: Support Your Local Brewery

Great to see one of my favorite breweries (Triple Rock of Berkeley at around the 1:50 mark) on this new video, Support Your Local Brewery,” produced by the California Craft Brewers Association.

I do support my local brewery, Kelsey Creek Brewing. The brewer, Ron Chips, has a new wet-hopped beer, the Wet Willie, (named after?) that tastes great. I was a little hesitant to try it, since I thought it might be like drinking fermented grass clippings (wet-hopped beers can harbor vegetal flavors). Those worries ceased with the first sip. It’s a great West Coast style ale–hop forward. Try it while supplies last!

There are a bunch of great craft breweries in California. Support them all.

Kelsey Creek Brewing opens its doors

Kelsey Creek Brewing Company opened its doors to the public for the first time on Saturday, July 14, 2012. Publican Ron Chips had a smile wider than Main Street in Kelseyville where Lake County’s newest public house is located. “It’s been a constant stream of folks since we opened the doors,” Chips said.

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Ron Chips started as a home brewer and quickly turned pro by attending brewing school and interning at Lagunitas in Petaluma. The brewing company has been in the works for almost a year.

On tap for the opening was Kelsey Creek pale ale an American Pale Ale that was brewed with Ivanhoe hops grown in Clearlake as well, and No’na’me Irish Red ale.

Chips showcased one of the centerpieces of the brewery: a Russian made dispenser for filling half-gallon to-go bottles known as growlers. “The growler filler first flushes the bottle with CO2 to remove all oxygen, which is the enemy of fresh beer,” Chips said. “Then it fills the growler slowly so it does not foam. Last, there is a layer of Co2 at the very top. Most growlers can last only a few days without being opened, but mine can last for a month, making the beer fresher for a much longer of time,” he said, “I knew Kelsey Creek Brewery had to have it as soon as I saw it at a trade show.”

The brewery has an outdoor seating area (a beer garden), a long copper bar, and even purse hooks beneath the bar for women to hang their purses while they perch.

Kelsey Creek Brewing’s address is 3945 Main St., Kelseyville, CA 95451, telephone number 707 245-8402, and is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 8:00 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 5 or 6:00 p.m.

Update (7/21/12): Kelsey Creek Brewing has had to open on Mondays and Tuesdays due to the pent up demand for good and fresh beer in South Lake County. And, Ron now has a third ale on tap: a Scotch ale.

Brewers Association Announces 2011’s Top 50 Breweries

Craft Brewers Association Announces 2011’s Top 50 Breweries

Brewers Association Releases Top 50 Breweries in 2011

The Brewers Association has released its annual lists of the top 50 craft and overall brewing companies in the U.S., based on 2011 beer sales volume. Of the top 50 overall brewing companies, 36 are small and independent¹ craft brewing companies¹,².


Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies
(Based on 2011 beer sales volume)

 Rank Brewing Company City State
1 Boston Beer Co. Boston MA
2 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico CA
3 New Belgium Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO
4 The Gambrinus Company San Antonio TX
5 Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
6 Matt Brewing Co. Utica NY
7 Bell’s Brewery, Inc. Galesburg MI
8 Harpoon Brewery Boston MA
9 Lagunitas Brewing Co. Petaluma CA
10 Boulevard Brewing Co. Kansas City MO
11 Stone Brewing Company Escondido CA
12 Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Milton DE
13 Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn NY
14 Alaskan Brewing & Bottling Co. Juneau AK
15 Long Trail Brewing Co. Burlington VT
16 Shipyard Brewing Co. Portland ME
17 Abita Brewing Co. Abita Springs LA
18 Great Lakes Brewing Co. Cleveland OH
19 New Glarus Brewing Co. New Glarus WI
20 Full Sail Brewing Co. Hood River OR
21 Summit Brewing Co. St. Paul MN
22 Anchor Brewing Co. San Francisco CA
23 Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Paso Robles CA
24 Sweetwater Brewing Co. Atlanta GA
25 Rogue Ales Brewery Newport OR
26 Flying Dog Brewery Frederick MD
27 Victory Brewing Co. Downingtown PA
28 CraftWorks Breweries & Restaurants Chattanooga/Louisville TN/CO
29 Oskar Blues Brewery Longmont CO
30 Odell Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO
31 Stevens Point Brewery Co. Stevens Point WI
32 Ninkasi Brewing Co. Eugene OR
33 BJ’s Chicago Pizza & Brewery, Inc. Huntington Beach CA
34 Blue Point Brewing Co. Patchogue NY
35 Bear Republic Brewing Co. Cloverdale CA
36 Lost Coast Brewery Cafe Eureka CA
37 Big Sky Brewing Co. Missoula MT
38 North Coast Brewing Co. Inc. Fort Bragg CA
39 Saint Louis Brewery, Inc./Schlafly Bottleworks St. Louis MO
40 Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. San Jose CA
41 Breckenridge Brewery Denver CO
42 Founders Brewing Co. Grand Rapids MI
43 Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Houston TX
44 Karl Strauss Brewing Co. San Diego CA
45 Real Ale Brewing Co. Blanco TX
46 Mac and Jack’s Brewery Inc. Redmond WA
47 Smuttynose Brewing Co. Portsmouth NH
48 Utah Brewers Cooperative Salt Lake City UT
49 Left Hand Brewing Co. Longmont CO
t.50 Anderson Valley Brewing Co. Boonville CA
t.50 Four Peaks Brewing Co. Tempe AZ

Top 50 Overall Brewing Companies
(Based on 2011 beer sales volume)

Rank Brewing Company City State
1 Anheuser-Busch Inc. (a) St. Louis MO
2 MillerCoors (b) Chicago IL
3 Pabst Brewing Co. (c) Woodbridge IL
4 D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc. Pottsville PA
5 Boston Beer Co. Boston MA
6 North American Breweries (d) Rochester NY
7 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico CA
8 New Belgium Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO
9 Craft Brewers Alliance, Inc. (e) Portland OR
10 The Gambrinus Company (f) San Antonio TX
11 Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
12 Matt Brewing Co. (g) Utica NY
13 Bell’s Brewery, Inc. Galesburg MI
14 Minhas Craft Brewery (h) Monroe WI
15 Harpoon Brewery Boston MA
16 Lagunitas Brewing Co. Petaluma CA
17 Boulevard Brewing Co. Kansas City MO
18 Stone Brewing Co. Escondido CA
19 Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Milton DE
20 Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn NY
21 Alaskan Brewing and Bottling Co. Juneau AK
22 Long Trail Brewing Co. Burlington VT
23 August Schell Brewing Co. (i) New Ulm MN
24 Shipyard Brewing Co. Portland ME
25 Abita Brewing Co. Abita Springs LA
26 World Brews/Winery Exchange (j) Novato CA
27 Great Lakes Brewing Co. Cleveland OH
28 New Glarus Brewing Co. New Glarus WI
29 Full Sail Brewing Co. Hood River OR
30 Pittsburgh Brewing Co. Pittsburgh PA
31 Summit Brewing Co. St. Paul MN
32 Anchor Brewing Co. San Francisco CA
33 Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Paso Robles CA
34 Cold Spring Brewing Co. (k) Cold Spring MN
35 Sweetwater Brewing Co. Atlanta GA
36 Rogue Ales Brewery Newport OR
37 Mendocino Brewing Co. (l) Ukiah CA
38 Flying Dog Brewery Frederick MD
39 Victory Brewing Co. Downingtown PA
40 CraftWorks Breweries & Restaurants (m) Chattanooga/Louisville TN/CO
41 Oskar Blues Brewery & Tasty Weasel Tap Room Longmont CO
42 Odell Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO
43 Stevens Point Brewery Co. (n) Stevens Point WI
44 Ninkasi Brewing Co. Eugene OR
45 BJ’s Chicago Pizza & Brewery Huntington Beach CA
46 Blue Point Brewing Co. Patchogue NY
47 Bear Republic Brewing Co. Cloverdale CA
48 Goose Island Brewing Co. (o) Chicago IL
49 Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe Eureka CA
50 Narragansett Brewing Co. Providence RI

According to said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, “In the last 15 years, craft brewing has gone from one percent of the overall beer market to almost six percent in 2011.”


*Top 50 U.S. Overall Brewing Companies notes: (a) includes Bass, Beck’s, Busch, Goose Island, Landshark, Michelob, Rolling Rock, Shock Top and Wild Blue brands. Does not include partially owned Coastal, Kona, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (b) includes A.C. Golden, Batch 19, Blue Moon, Colorado Native, Herman Joseph, Keystone, Killian’s and Leinenkugel’s brands; (c) includes Schlitz and 28 other brand families; (d) includes Dundee, Genesee, Labatt Lime, Magic Hat and Pyramid brands; (e) includes Kona, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (f) includes BridgePort, Shiner and Trumer brands; (g) includes Flying Bison brands; (h) includes Mountain Crest and 10 other brand families; (i) includes Grain Belt brand; (j) private label brands; (k) includes Gluek and 17 other brand families; (l) includes Butte Creek, Kingfisher and Olde Saratoga brands; (m) includes A1A, Big River, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants, Rock Bottom Restaurants, Ragtime and Seven Bridges brewpubs; (n) includes James Page and Whole Hog brands; (o) sold to Anheuser-Busch in 2011.

The Association’s full 2011 industry analysis, which shows regional trends and sales by individual breweries, will be published in the May/June issue of The New Brewer, available May 22, 2012.

For additional statistics, see the craft brewing statistics, and 2011 craft brewer sales numbers.

¹The definition of a craft brewer as stated by the Brewers Association: An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewer’s brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

²Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for the Top 50 rankings.

Abby Berman (on behalf of the Brewers Association)


The Brewers Association is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The Brewers Association (BA) represents more than 70 percent of the brewing industry, and its members make more than 99 percent of the beer brewed in the U.S. The BA organizes events including the World Beer Cup®, Great American Beer Festival®, Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America®, SAVOR℠: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience and American Craft Beer Week. The BA publishes The New Brewer magazine and its Brewers Publications division is the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers and homebrewers.

Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association. Follow us on Twitter.

Lagunitas Brewing to open new brewery in Chicago |

Funny I should mention that I cloned a Lagunitas brew just yesterday.

About 10 hours ago, Lagunitas Brewing Owner, Tony Magee announced in a series of ‘tweets’ on Twitter that Lagunitas will opening a 250 barrel brewhouse in Chicago. He expects “1st mash-in will b Q4 2013. Freakin cool, this. Lots and lotsa work ahead.”

Announcing a new 250 bbl brewery140 characters (or less) at a time.

The brewhouse’s location will be “18th & Rockwell, Chicago” and bigger than most of the craft breweries in Chicago combined. At 250 barrels, it will be 5x the size of Goose Island’s operation in Chi town.

He expects “Fresher beer w/ less diesel in it.”

For more go to Beerpulse:
Lagunitas Brewing to open new brewery in Chicago |