Homebrew recipe – Not quite Hefeweizen

I brewed something pretty similar to this last year, and whilst the flavor, mouthfeel and clarity turned out great, I wished I’d gone a little heavier on the adjuncts (crushed coriander seed and orange peel) and it could have benefited from a little more carbonation.

This time around I fixed those issues, and it worked out. The extra carbonation gives this a luxurious creamy head. The flaked oats help to create a rounded mouthfeel, and the citrus and spice of the adjuncts contribute to a full palate experience. Columbus hops perfectly compliment these, with rich and dark licorice notes. It drinks very much like a Hefeweizen all round, but with oats instead of wheat.

Recipe below, for 5 gallons:

FOR THE MASH
9 lb 2-row pale malt
10 oz Carapils
10 oz oats
mash at 153F for one hour

FOR THE BOIL
columbus pellets 0.8 oz @ start
cascade hop pellets 0.4 oz @ 30 min
Finings @ 15 min
columbus pellets 0.4 @ 10 min
orange peel 28g @ 10 min
coriander seed 24g @ 10 min
columbus pellets 0.4 @ 5 min
centennial flowers 0.8 oz @ end

Ferment for two weeks at 63F using Safale 33 dry yeast.
Bottle condition for 4 weeks.

My homebrewing year

Around this time last year, I was setting up my first ever solo homebrew, feeling nervous. I’d previously helped out much more experienced brewers at the London Hackspace, and also brewed alongside someone who had a chemical engineering background, hence an aptitude for understanding the science of brewing from the word go. I knew I had a bit of catching up to do, but fresh from reading Radical Brewing, I was ready to dive in.

I decided to start small. I wanted to experiment, learn and grow, and I needed to do all that on a budget. I had the lovely people at Home Brewtique ship me some mini fermenters, and I planned out my batches diligently. I used past successful homebrews and online resources to give me the bare bones for recipes, and put my own spin on them. By doing small 1.5 gallon batches, I was able to save loads on ingredients while A/B testing with different variables. I took detailed notes and trawled homebrew forums for tips every time I got stuck.

This past twelve months, I’ve scaled up my production, refined my recipes, gotten 25 successful brews under my belt and learned loads. There really is no better feeling than cracking open bottles and sharing the fruits of my labor with friends and neighbors. Sometimes it’s important to celebrate small wins. I feel chuffed that I persevered at something that I feared I’d fail at, and I can’t wait to keep getting better.

white wheat

Saison ale recipe

Mash in @ 150F
2 row pale malt (85% grain bill), carapils (10%) and flaked oats (5%)

Kent Golding first wort hops
Styrian hops half way through the boil
Coriander seed at 20 min left (approx 25 small crushed seeds)
Styrian hop additions at 10 min left, 5 min left and at end
Columbus hops at end

Safale S-33 dry yeast pitched at 66F

Total grain: 2lb 6oz per gallon
Total hops: 0.8 oz per gallon

saison

I was very happy with how this turned out. Safale S-33 performed very well in this traditional Belgian style. I fermented for 2 weeks in primary, and then went straight to bottle conditioning for 4 weeks. Citrus and spice notes, a refreshing tang, very clean drinking, with no off flavors or aromas. I will definitely be repeating this one.

Temperature control

Based in the Southwest USA, I am sadly not blessed with a basement, and so temp control is a rather critical and cumbersome task at all times of the year.

All summer long, I used a large freezer unit outside in the garage, with a Baylite pre-wired temp-controller to create a fermentation chamber with a temp range of of 66F to 67.5F. This ensured that fermentation started towards the top of the recommended range for my yeast strains, so yeast got to work quickly and I would typically see bubbles in the airlock within 24 hours.

This winter, I’ll be moving my fermenters indoors, as I don’t have a way of adding heat to the existing unit. I’m apprehensive about not having quite the same level of strict control over the fermenting temp, especially in the first couple of days after the yeast is pitched. Having said this, I did make some great beer back in the UK indoors. My usual strategy is to select a cupboard which is neither too near nor too far from the home’s primary heat source, and far from things which could cause warming or cooling if possible. For example, the kitchen is probably not ideal, as most kitchens heat up considerably when something is in the oven. Close to a window or against an external wall is also not optimal, as much heat will be lost in this area, especially during overnight lows.

I’ve carefully selected a cupboard accordingly. I’m confident that I’ll be able to keep the space in the 60F to 69F range. My plastic fermenters have thermometers on the side, and I have a mini digital thermometer for the space, so I will be able to monitor the difference between the ambient temp in the cupboard and the temp of the beer itself. Temperatures of fermenting beers spike in the first couple of days, as the process creates its own heat. I’ll be keeping an eye on the beer temps and using the old-fashioned cold water bath for the fermenters if I start to see the temp creeping above 73F.

White wheat ale recipe

Today I cracked open the first bottle of a white wheat ale I made a few weeks ago. I fermented for 2 weeks and conditioned in bottles for 4 weeks.

I mashed at 157F, which was a little higher than I was aiming for, but I wanted to go for something on the higher end with the aim of getting a fairly full bodied beer. I chose to add a few extra early hops and ease off on the late additions, to ensure that the hop flavor bomb didn’t steal the show from the wheat in the final flavor profile.

I’m happy with how this turned out – the bitterness and flavor profile is pretty much what I was aiming for. Next time I might dry hop for a bit of extra aroma, and perhaps try adding lactose/more wheat, and making this a hazy beer.

white wheat

This was a nanobrew, but I’m including the grain info recipe:

Mash at 157F for 45 min

2 lb 12 oz grain per gallon
55% 2-Row pale
35% white wheat
10% flaked wheat
Mash for 50 minutes

0.8 oz of hops per gallon
Pacific Jade and warrior first wort hops
Pinch irish moss @ 15 min to go
Columbus @ 15 min left
Citra @ 10 minutes left
Mosaic @ 5 minutes left

Brewing a Hobgoblin Clone

This week, I decided to make a ruby ale, which should be ready to drink just in time for the chilly weather. Hobgoblin has always been my favorite British ruby ale – rich, warming, just a hint of spice. Perfect for curling up by the fire with a pint.

So, I decided to see if I could find a clone recipe online. I do love the homebrew community. It seems that no matter what I tap into the search engines, many results come back, with tales from fellow homebrewers who have asked the same questions previously. A wealth of information and suggestions were returned.

The recipe I picked called for Maris Otter as the main grain, with some dark crystal, carapils and chocolate malts, and some early and late additions of Fuggle and Styrian Golding hops.

I scaled down the recipe for my small 5L batch size for my small batch all-grain brew-in-bag method. I mashed at 153F for 45 minutes, and boiled for 50 minutes.

Now for the hard part – waiting to drink it when the first frost comes!

Breakfast Stout

This was my first time brewing with lactose. In addition to my base malt (70% of grain bill), I used an Irish brown stout malt (10%), some flaked oats and wheat (10%), and a little dark crystal (5%) and carafa (5%) malts for a nice dark color and rich aromas. I mashed at around 152F for 45 minutes.

I added a small amount of magnum hops towards the start of the boil. No late hop additions for this one – as I wanted to ensure this drinks very much like a stout and not a black IPA. The lactose went in 10 mins before the end of the boil. I used 2 oz per gallon.

This beer turned out great – smooth drinking and the coffee flavor from the carafa malt really comes through. Next time I would really ramp up on the oats and lactose, as a slightly creamier mouthfeel would make this even better.