Hop Characteristics Wheel

I check in on Twitter nearly daily. Here is a graphic that looked helpful to me and my fellow homebrewers. It’s a graphic, based on John Palmer’s Hop Wheel (found on page 30 in this PDF), and redesigned and updated by Tim Kreitz, that gives the primary characteristics of hops: spicy, citrusy, fruity, floral, piney (evergreen), herbal, earthy.

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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

Demonstrating how to make beer without taste

Or, at least, demonstrating how to make beer without tastings of already-made home-brewed beer.

Two weekends ago my friend (and prez of the Lake County Homebrewers) Paul and I manned a booth for our homebrewing club at the  Lake County Home Wine Makers Festival in Lakeport, CA. It was the first time in at least five years that the booth for the Lake County Homebrewers’ group did not provide tastings of home-brewed beers. We decided to not pour our beers due to an opinion given to us by local officials of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (CABC) that pouring any of our homebrew at public events violates State law (at least as the local CABC interprets their regulations–regulations transform squishy language found in legislation to more concrete, hence more quantifiable language, then officials charged with enforcing the regulations interpret what the regulation’s language actually means). So, our group decided, we just could not risk losing our equipment to a CABC raid of our homes. Some of our group are going pro and will be opening nano-breweries soon and cannot risk pissing off the people reviewing their liquor licenses.

Consequently, Paul and I demonstrated the steps necessary to make an all-grain batch of India Pale Ale called Hoppiness is an IPA. Its (10 gallon) recipe is available here as a PDF.

Technically, we did not have beer until we added yeast. We split the 10-gallons of wort into two 5-gallon fermenters and took our half home where we added White Labs WP005 British Ale Yeast to the cooled wort.

I bottled my portion today (two weeks later). The starting original gravity was 1.061. The final gravity was 1.014 SG. That calculates to an attenuation of 76.5% and an ABV of 6.3% (almost a session beer by today’s IPA standards). It has ample piney bitterness and not citrusy.

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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Upcoming Lake County Homebrew Club Meeting May 21, 2012 at Guido’s Pizza

Live in Lake County, Calif and make or want to learn how to make your own beer? Join us.

Our next scheduled Lake County Homebrew Club (visit our Facebook page here) meeting is set for Monday May 21, 2012 at 6 PM at at Guido’s Pizza in Kelseyville.

Among other things, we will talk about the Big Brew we had on May 5, the upcoming Lake County Winemakers Fest, taste and evaluate each others beers, and we will be tasting spices, fruits, and whatever we might want to try to steep in beers using French presses.

Bring a glass (wineglasses work well) for tasting, and (if you are a homebrewer) bring some of your homebrew to share.

For more information, contact Paul at coachpaul707@gmail.com

Cheers!

Lake County Homebrew Club Meeting April 23, 2012 at Guido’s Pizza

Live 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 April 23rd, 2012 at 6 PM at at Guido’s Pizza in Kelseyville. For the Big Brew on National Homebrew Day (Saturday, May 5, 2012) the tentative plan is to brew a New Holland Dragon’s Milk clone and hopefully procure a 55-60 gallon bourbon barrel to age it in although this is not set in stone.  Leave a comment if you have other ideas.

And, leave a comment if you are  interested in brewing at Big Brew Day, and whether you want to brew 5 or 10 gallons.  We may have extra equipment for mashing.

Anyone out there with a 55-60 gallon bourbon barrel that will loan it (for 6 months) or sell it for a song? Let me know in the comments.
Cheers!

This Week on Brew Disasters: Cloning Lagunitas Brewing’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale

Basic beer brewing equipment. Includes four fe...

Nothing like my brewing equipment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Week on Brew Disasters: Cloning Lagunitas Brewing’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale.

Note: a pictorial of the brewing process is toward the end of this post.

We here at Flog-This-Dead Brewing are excited to try brewing a new (to us anyway) beer: Lagunitas Brewing’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale. The grain bill is 16 pounds; a 50/50 blend of wheat and barley. The beer has minimal brewing hops and, true to the Lagunita’s way, massive dry hopping, 4.5 ounces for a 5 gallon batch.

A huge thank you to the Jamil Zainasheff and Mike “Tasty” McDole of the Brewing Network‘s Can You Brew It and Lagunitas Brewing Company for sharing their Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale recipe with them. And, lastly, thanks to my buddy Paul for pointing me to the recipe and my loving wife for helping at just the right times.

As you may recall, we here at Flog-This-Dead Brewing just supplemented our temperature monitoring from a handheld Taylor 9842 Commercial Waterproof Digital Thermometer to a BrewMometer by Blichmann Engineering. So we started the strike water temperature for our mash at 20F above our desired mash temp, because we had found that after adding our grain the water cooled 20F. Apparently, having a thermometer probe further down makes a big difference and the mash temperature did not drop the 20F expected. Yikes, instead of a desired mash temp of 150, the mash temp was 170F! We yanked the bag of grain out of the mash tun and began cooling the watery wort down.

After cooling the mash conversion process started at a temperature of 149.5 and after 60 minutes finished at 137F. A batch sparge was used and the total wort produced was 10.5 gallons with a pre-boil specific gravity of 1.043 (1.033 @ 117F); a full 12 points below the 1.055 that was the target, the addition gallon produced had a lot to do with that (You would think I could subtract 9 from the yield of the first runnings, but no, I muffed it). One-half pound of corn sugar and one-half pound of dry malt extract were added to boost the specific gravity.

It took over about an hour and a half to get the wort to boiling for the 90 minute boil.

Total time for brewing day (including cleanup–that’s why it’s a hobby and not a business): 12 hours.

First impressions:

  • Appearance: 10L hazy-like smoggy LA day
  • Aroma: fruity, sweet,
  • Flavor: Sweet-malty, fruity, a sweetness lingers on the tip of the tongue
  • Mouthfeel: syrupy (it is wort after all)
  • Overall impression: Good start. Slightly maltier than hoppy.

The Flog This Dead Brewing‘s recipe:

Target Wort Volume Before Boil:  8.00 US gals  Actual Wort Volume Before Boil:  10.50 US gals
Target Wort Volume After Boil:  6.00 US gals  Actual Wort Volume After Boil:  7.50 US gals
Target Volume Transferred:  5.25 US gals  Actual Volume Transferred:  5.50 US gals
Target Volume At Pitching:  5.25 US gals  Actual Volume At Pitching:  5.50 US gals
Target Volume Of Finished Beer:  5.00 US gals  Actual Volume Of Finished Beer:  5.00 US gals
Target Pre-Boil Gravity:  1.053 SG  Actual Pre-Boil Gravity:  1.048 SG
Target OG:  1.079 SG  Actual OG:  1.056 SG
Target FG:  1.018 SG  Actual FG:  -No Record-
Target Apparent Attenuation:: 75.50%  Actual Apparent Attenuation: 100.00%
Target ABV: 8.10%  Actual ABV: 7.40%
Target ABW: 6.30%  Actual ABW: 5.90%
Target IBU (using Tinseth):  29.9 IBU  Actual IBU:  31.8 IBU
Target Color (using Morey):  5.3 SRM  Actual Color:  5.3 SRM
Target Mash Efficiency: 70.00%  Actual Mash Efficiency: 82.30%
Target Fermentation Temp:  64 degF  Actual Fermentation Temp:
Fermentables
Ingredient Amount % MCU When
2-Row Malt  8lb 2oz 47.30% 2.4  In Mash/Steeped
White Wheat Malt  6lb 2oz 35.60% 2.5  In Mash/Steeped
Torrified Wheat  1lb 12oz 10.20% 0.6  In Mash/Steeped
Toasted White Wheat  3.12 oz 1.10% 0.5  In Mash/Steeped
Extract – Light Dried Malt Extract  8.00 oz 2.90% 0.3  Start Of Boil
Sugar – Corn Sugar/Dextrose (Dry)  8.00 oz 2.90% 0  Start Of Boil
Hops
Variety Alpha Amount IBU Form When
Nugget 13.00%  0.39 oz 15.9  Loose Pellet Hops  90 Min From End
Willamette (rhymes with damn it) 5.20%  0.28 oz 3.9  Loose Pellet Hops  45 Min From End
Tettnanger 4.50%  1.18 oz 7.7  Loose Pellet Hops  15 Min From End
Willamette 5.20%  0.32 oz 2.4  Loose Pellet Hops  15 Min From End
Cascade 5.90%  0.85 oz 0  Loose Pellet Hops  Dry-Hopped
Centennial 9.50%  0.85 oz 0  Loose Pellet Hops  Dry-Hopped
Chinook 11.50%  0.85 oz 0  Loose Pellet Hops  Dry-Hopped
Simcoe 12.50%  0.85 oz 0  Loose Pellet Hops  Dry-Hopped
Amarillo 8.50%  0.63 oz 0  Loose Pellet Hops  Dry-Hopped
Columbus 15.50%  0.53 oz 0  Loose Pellet Hops  Dry-Hopped
Other Ingredients
Ingredient Amount When
Irish Moss  1.00 oz  in boil
Yeast
DCL S-04-SafAle