Tag Archives: Recipes

Brewday recap: Dark Lambic #2 (pLambic) with Turbid Mash

DSCN2243This post is long overdue, but needed to be written. The weekend immediately following Lambic #1, I prepped a second wort for a sour pitch. I had an ECY20 pitch sitting in the fridge that needed to be put to work.

I made a starter several days before, as the yeast had been refrigerated for 2 months. The starter took off right away, and had a much funkier (barnyard) smell than the ECY01 did. This would prove to carry over to the primary fermentation as well.
DSCN2248After some serious waffling and consulting, I decided to brew a darker wort than the first lambic, and also to give it a little more food. I still followed the turbid mash technique, and used a good bit of unmalted wheat. What I’m hoping for is a wort profile similar to an Oud Bruin, but with a much more complex flavor profile due to the microorganism cocktail from Easy Coast Yeast.
DSCN2246I filled my brew kettle to the rim as with the previous batch, and there was so much wort that I actually needed to boil it down some before I could add all the second runnings. Partly why I got such a high efficiency, but also makes for a really long boil (and uses a lot of propane).

Recipe: 2012 Dark Lambic

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 9.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.50 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.045 SG
Expected OG: 1.074 SG
Expected FG: 1.021 SG
Expected ABV: 7.1 %
Expected ABW: 5.5 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 24.4
Expected Color: 14.4 SRM
Mash Efficiency: 90.0 %
Boil Duration: 180.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 68 degF

UK Pale Ale Malt 7lb 0oz (56.6 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Unmalted Soft White Wheat 3lb 0oz (24.2 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Munich Malt 1lb 0oz (8.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Light Crystal 8.00 oz (4.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Dark Crystal 8.00 oz (4.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
Caramel Munich Malt 4.00 oz (2.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Chocolate Wheat Malt 2.00 oz (1.0 %) In Mash/Steeped

UK Challenger (2.7 % alpha) 2.40 oz Loose Whole Hops used All Of Boil

Other Ingredients

Yeast: ECY20 – Bug County 2011

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Turbid Mash

DSCN2249The primary fermentation happened fairly quickly, and there’s now some lingering bubbles on the surface, along with a very barnyard-y smell from the airlock. Time to put it away and forget about it for a good, long while. I will be adding oak in a couple of months, but there’s really no rush on that at all.

Brewday recap: Lambic #1 (pLambic) with Turbid Mash

Last weekend, on MLKJr day, I brewed my first lambic. Technically it was a pseudo-lambic (or pLambic) because I pitched a culture rather than letting nature inoculate the wort.
DSCN2216There are many ways to get a souring culture, one of the most common is to buy a bottle of lambic beer that isn’t pasturized, and grow up a culture from the bottle dregs. I went a different route, largely due to the overwhelming popularity of the results. I bought a pitch from East Coast Yeast of Al’s BugFarm 5 (the 2011 variant) and made a starter.

Making a pLambic isn’t necessarally super hard, you can do a regular infusion mash and just pitch a mixed culture to make a sour beer, but after reading Wild Brews and nagging Michael Tonsmeire. for advice on a number of occasions leading up to brewday, I decided to make it in as traditional a manner as possible, which most importantly includes a turbid mash.

If you want to know all there is to know about a turbid mash, I’d recommend you read Michael Tonsmeire’s article, and then proceed to Wild Brews. In a nutshell though, it’s a specific mash process that leaves a significant portion of the starches from your cereal grains as they are, which sets them aside to be food for the non-brewer’s yeast to tear apart and eat over the 1-3 year fermentation cycle. A traditional mash breaks them down into simpler sugars, so that brewer’s yeast can easily convert them to alcohol and other by-products.

OK. So, I was a little anxious about the turbid mash, because it was a deviation from the process that I know so well, so I referred to Michael Tonsmeire’s website, Wild Brews, and a third article by the Cult of the Biohazard Lambic Brewers in order to make myself a spreadsheet, outlining the various infusions and runoffs. I was able to move through these steps on brewday fairly flawlessly, with the exception that there’s one step towards the end, where it would be handy to have a third pot and second burner. Oh well, minor delay. If you want to know what steps I followed, read Michael Tonsmeire’s article, he has the same steps all laid out with photos.
DSCN2236The boil is where this really becomes a drag. Due to the high volume of water used in the mash process, you end up with a 9-10 gallon pre-boil volume, which can take a really long time to boil down. I have a Bayou Country propane burner, and it took me about 4 hours to get to my final volume.

Hop selection is also of concern when making a pLambic — you don’t want to use high-alpha hops for bittering, even if you only use enough to hit your 20 or so IBUs — you want to use low-alpha hops that have ideally been aged a few years to have even less bittering power. I used 4 year old Challenger hops, that I calculated to be at 2.7%AA. And as the books say, yes, they do smell like cheesy, smelly feet. I put them in the boil early to make sure that I blasted out all the smell and flavor.

Fermentation was fairly mellow, and it seemed to finish it’s primary phase in 4 days. The krausen has now fallen, and I’m sure the secondary microorganisms are now taking over the show. I’ll post some followup photos here as things change, I know it’s going to be a long process.

Recipe: 2012 Lambic #1
Style: 17D-Sour Ale-Straight (Unblended) Lambic

Wort Volume Before Boil: 10.50 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.25 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.50 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.032 SG
Expected OG: 1.053 SG
Expected FG: 1.015 SG
Expected ABV: 5.0 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 19.2
Expected Color: 3.9 SRM
Mash Efficiency: 98.0 %

UK Pale Ale Malt 6lb 12oz (71.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Flaked Soft Red Wheat 2lb 12oz (28.9 %) In Mash/Steeped

UK Challenger (2.7 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Whole Hops used All Of Boil

Yeast: East Coast Yeast ECY01 – BugFarm 5

Mash Type: Turbid Mash

Recent Recipes, Fall 2010

imperial-stout-2010It occurred to me this weekend that it’s been a while since I’ve posted recipes. This fall has been a little strange, as I’m trying a lot of new recipes out, either massive variations on an old recipe, or something I’ve never tried before.

First up is the Imperial Stout that’s on tap. It’s a variation on last year’s, with a large percentage of the base malt swapped out for Munich. I also used Crystal hops for finishing rather than Centennial. This was a 3-gallon recipe.

Recipe Overview

US 2-Row Malt 7.00 lb (54.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 4.00 lb (31.4 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Caramel 60L Malt 0.75 lb (5.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Chocolate Malt 0.75 lb (5.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Roasted Barley 0.25 lb (2.0 %) In Mash/Steeped

German Hallertauer Magnum (11.0 % alpha) 0.50 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
UK Golding (5.5 % alpha) 1.64 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 20 Min From End
US Crystal (3.5 % alpha) 1.18 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 20 Min From End

Yeast: Wyeast 1318-London Ale III

Next up was my take on Tasty McDole’s Janet Brown ale, an “Indian Brown Ale”. Mine was 100% Cascade in the mash and boil, with Centennial for dry-hops, along with some other grain substitutions and simplification. This was a 5-gallon recipe. Oh, and a side note, this hasn’t been kegged yet, but just from what I can see so far, this is a dark beer. Next time I’ll cut the chocolate malt in half.

Recipe Overview


UK Pale Ale Malt 9.00 lb (61.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 3.00 lb (20.3 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Wheat Malt 1.00 lb (6.8 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Dark Crystal 1.00 lb (6.8 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Chocolate Malt 0.75 lb (5.1 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Cascade (4.5 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used In Mash
US Cascade (4.5 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Cascade (4.5 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 10 Min From End
US Cascade (4.5 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used At turn off
US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used Dry-Hopped

Yeast: Wyeast 1318-London Ale III

Last was a big pale ale, an imperial pale ale, if you will. Low IBUs, but big hop flavor and body. This is my first recipe using Victory malt, I’m really hoping it gives me that crackery-biscuity flavor I like so much. This was a 5-gallon recipe.

UK Pale Ale Malt 9.00 lb (65.5 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Munich Malt 4.00 lb (29.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Victory Malt 0.75 lb (5.5 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 0.75 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used Dry-Hopped

Yeast: Wyeast Pac-Man

Book Review: Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher


Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher is a very interesting book to say the least. I first had the opportunity to flip through this book shortly after switching to all-grain brewing, and I found the book a bit difficult to approach at that time. I was reading a lot of new books, and I was very process oriented at the time, and I found this book, which is packed full of information and ideas, to be a bit overwhelming. A recent discussion with Erik Lars Myers of Mystery Brewing prompted me to give the book another pass.

I was surprised to find upon opening the book for the second time, that there is a whole introductory section for beginning brewers, and some pretty solid advice at that. Little tidbits that would have helped me a long time ago, like the fact that liquid extract goes stale faster than dry extract. (Who would have expected that?) Mosher walks the novice brewer through the process of the first batch, and provides simple steps that any beginning brewer can take to drastically improve their finished product beyond the kits that many homebrew shops sell.

Mosher doesn’t dwell on the beginner’s process long though, and moves on into all-grain brewing, and then into what constitutes the bulk of the book, recipes, historical beers, different styles, and a seemingly never-ending catalog of ideas and methods to make your beers just a little different from the traditional recipe. This, along with several charts and indices of herbs, spices hops, grains and other adjuncts, along with flavor and aroma descriptions, are some of the most valuable assets contained within the pages of Radical Brewing.

Mosher also gives ample coverage to the more popular variations on brewing: basic styles, lagers, belgians, over-the-top big beers, alternative grain beers, spiced beers, even fruit and honey brews. There’s very little that’s not covered in Radical Brewing in some way, shape or form. You’ll likely find yourself with a book full of bookmarks to come back to when you’re ready to do that [insert beer type here].

Radical Brewing is an extremely dense book at over 300 pages, there’s a lot of information. It may seem a little overwhelming at first, but take your time. If you’re an experienced brewer, pick it up and flip the book open anywhere. You’re likely to find something that piques your interest, and gives you a little inspiration that you’ll be grateful for.

Book Review: Brew Like a Monk by Stan Hieronymus

brewlikeamonkI must confess that Belgian beers still make me a little anxious. For a long time, I thought that I didn’t like Belgian beers. Something about them seemed a little strange, and I preferred the tamer ales. Then about a year ago, I had a couple that I really liked. My expectations were now very confused. After years of thinking that I didn’t like Belgian yeasts, maybe there was more to it than that.

When I was given an opportunity to read Brew Like a Monk, I made up my mind to throw myself into it in an effort to try to decipher just what differences there were amongst the Belgian beers, and why I might like some more than others, and what better way than to learn about how they’re made, what makes them different, and what flavors the different styles showcase.

Hieronymus begins with the story of the monastic brewing tradition, correcting some misconceptions about their brewing practices, and providing a timeline of the development of Monastic and Trappist brewing. Hieronymus moves on to cover six trappist breweries, their histories and the beer that they have become known for. Next, Hieronymus moves on to Abbey beers, beers that are not brewed within the walls of the monastery, but are either attempting to mimic that style of beer, or have been contracted by a monastery to brew beer for them.

The next two chapters though, are where I really start to dig in. Just in case you didn’t start to gleam some of this information before, Hieronymus starts to get all technical now about mashing and brewing profiles, breaking down even more recipes in the process. Hieronymus then gets into yeast in a big way, going through various profiles of the two big suppliers in the US, Wyeast and White Labs, providing profile information on their popular strains of Belgian yeast, and even breaking them down by temperature range during fermentation, which I thought was really cool. Hieronymus even goes through and tells you which of the big Belgian Abbey/Trappist breweries have a commercial yeast culture available through one of the vendors cited above.

Next comes one of the more challenging, and yet, most important components of Belgian Trappist/Abbey production, bottle conditioning. I’ve always found the process of bottle conditioning to be a challenging one, but I’ve never pitched fresh yeast at bottling time either, something which all commercial brewers do. There are two main reasons Belgian Trappist/Abbey brewers bottle condition their beer, one is for flavor, and the other is to develop the high volume of carbonation expected in the style, which develops best in champagne type bottles with a cork and cage closure.

The last section of the book focuses on the reader and next steps, one chapter discussing the sub-genres of Belgian Trappist/Abbey beers, in an attempt to further educate the reader if they are looking to brew a specific style, or to judge in a competition. The last chapter focuses on recipes and recipe formulation. As a budding brewer myself, I like the tone that this section sets. Here are some recipes, but we encourage you to take these recipes, and draw inspiration from them, don’t brew them ounce for ounce. This has to be one of the best take-aways of this book, that there is no secret recipe, the way to make a special beer is to take it and make it your own, put yourself in the process, and see what happens.

This was definitely an enlightening book, and even though I’m still on the fence about Belgian Trappist/Abbey beers, I feel much more empowered and educated to move forward in my appreciation of the styles, and also to draw a little inspiration from within, and without the walls of the Abbey.

American Pale Ale (All Grain)

apaWell, it had to come to it. After a year’s worth of style exploration, barleywines and imperial stouts, it was time to take a crack at the baseline of American craft beer: the American Pale Ale. This style has been one that I’ve put off for a while, not because I don’t like it, but like most homebrewers, I was enjoying the chase of the unusual and the exotic (and the high-gravity).

Having reached a point where it was time to start nailing down some regulars, and being summer (albeit in Maine), it was time for a more sessionable beer. I have to admit, after all the procrastination, I was a little bit anxious about this beer. After all the practice, I can’t screw up on a pale ale, right?

Well, I consulted all my favorite books before starting the recipe build, and decided to take the non-crystal malt approach. I wanted a dryer, crisper beer, one that would be refreshing and not too sweet. I also wanted to focus on hop flavor, so I left the grain bill rather mild to leave room for some dry-hops to shine.

Recipe Overview

UK Pale Ale Malt 11.32 lb (79.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
German CaraRed 1.00 lb (7.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Munich Malt 1.00 lb (7.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Wheat Malt 1.00 lb (7.0 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 1.24 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Cascade (5.9 % alpha) 0.99 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 10 Min From End

Yeast: Wyeast 1318-London Ale III

After cool fermenting the beer (I wanted to minimize ester production by the english yeast), I let it lager for a couple weeks while I waited for keg space to open up. In this time, I decided to go for another first: dry-hopping in the keg. My buddy has been doing this recently with a massive tea ball he got for a gift, and I was hopeful that I could pull off the same approach by using a muslin bag for grain steeping. I sanitized the bag by soaking it in Star-San for a few minutes, then filled it with about 3oz of Cascade and Centennial hop pellets, then twisted it closed, doubled over the bag, twisted closed, then tripled it over. I took this sock-full of hops, and shoved it (gently) under the dip tube of my Corny keg.

After two days, I tried a sample. Wow. That fresh hop taste coming from the keg is awesome, and without the added transfers and delays of a secondary. I’ll definitely be doing this again. Oh, and the recipe. Well, it turned out more like an amber. Good, but a little sweeter than I had hoped for. I’ll be cutting the CaraRed in half next time.

Big beer in a small space


My last brew was a bit of an experiment. I had just finished reading Brewing with Wheat, and was gung-ho to do something using a significant amount of wheat. Summer is also nearly here, and the desire to drink big beers will be fading with the arrival of warmer temperatures.

One of the beer styles described in Brewing with Wheat is called a wheat wine, something I had never heard of before, but the gist is that like a barleywine, a wheat wine is a wheat beer (using at least 50% wheat), with high ABV and equally high bittering. Styles vary from there.

I decided to fashion a beer that is strong, uses a large portion of wheat (but not 50%), and with moderate bittering. My hope was to bring in something close to an English style barleywine, but with added character from the wheat.

I also did something new this batch. My friend offered to let me use his 10 gallon cooler mash/lauter tun for this batch,and I filled it to capacity. My grain to water ratio was about 1.2, and it was so full that I was unable to stir during the first mash, however I did stir as I was adding the water for the second sparge.

I ended up with a rather low efficiency, around 63%. Not ideal at all, which brought my OG in at around 1.080, rather than 1.1+ which I was shooting for. Oh well. Brew and learn.
boiling-wortI also used whole leaf Challenger hops in this batch, and I have to say that I really do love using whole leaf hops. They are very visually appealing, and make for a much cleaner transfer into the fermenter.

I used S-04 in this batch, and pitched the two packets of yeast that I prepped, having planned on needing them both for the expected huge OG. Fermentation took off within hours, and I had to hook up a blowoff tube before i hit 24 hours.

I’m planning to age this beer over the summer, and to use oak chips in the secondary. I’m looking forward to this in the fall, when cooler weather comes again.

Several questions arose from this session:
Does the grain to water ratio effect efficiency in such a way that you can reach a point where more grain actually delivers a lower OG? If so, where is that ratio? I know that I’ve seen ratios as low as .75:1, and as high as 2:1. For a mash tun that requires that you open it very little to prevent heat loss, and a lower ratio requires more stirring, is a higher ratio recommended? And with low mash ratios, is a longer mash needed to gain efficiency?