Brew Tips: Compensating for Missed OG

Today’s topic is hardly a secret or new idea in the brewing world, but one a lot of new and even relatively experienced all-grain brewers overlook: correcting for missing your pre-boil gravity.  It took me reading about it three or four times before I started to implement some of these tips, so hopefully this post will finally get you into it. Read more of this post


Brew Tips: Stopping Wort Boil-Overs

Off-week bonus post!  This is a quick tip for keeping your kettle from foaming over during the boil. Read more of this post

Water Treatment for Brewing 4: Lessons Learned

[Miniseries Part One, Two, Three, Three-point-Five, Three-point-Six, Four]

In previous parts of this miniseries, I have covered pretty much everything you need to get started on water treatment for brewing.  Here, I’ll cover a few miscellaneous things I have learned over the course of treating additional batches.  I’ll try to add on any additional lessons-learned as I go. Read more of this post

Brew Tips: Brewing Logs

Brewing logs are a dry topic, I know.  Sorry.  But, they are of the utmost importance at all levels of brewing, from beginner to professional.  They let you track not only what you did wrong (which is frequently only remembered if spectacularly wrong), but also what you did right, which is pretty much never remembered. Read more of this post

Water Treatment for Brewing 3.6: Brewing Salt g/tsp Conversion

[Miniseries Part One, Two, Three, Three-point-Five, Three-point-Six, Four]

Another bonus post!  This is a quick post to help those without accurate scales to add brewing salts for water treatment. Read more of this post

Water Treatment for Brewing 3.5: Solubility Limits

[Miniseries Part One, Two, Three, Three-point-Five, Three-point-Six, Four]

Bonus post!  I’ve never liked the idea of using volumetric approximations for adding brewing salts, and most scales aren’t good enough to measure a few grams at a time (accurately that is- most will still pretend to try).  One way around that is to dissolve the salt in water in a high concentration, then measure a precise volume of solution to add to the brewing water, either by weight or volume.  Of course that only works if the water can hold enough of the salt in question to make it worth your while- enter: solubility limits.

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Alternate Priming Sugars

Most people use either table sugar or corn sugar as their primer when bottling beer.   Others venture a little further out of the box and use things like honey, various semi-refined sugars, or sugars sourced from plants other than sugar beets.  I’ll cover some of these briefly, but another interesting alternative, and a way to add yet another layer to your beer, is just about any fruit juice. Read more of this post

Brew Tips: Cloudy StarSan

This will be a very quick post to clear up a common misconception: cloudy StarSan does not mean ineffective StarSan.  StarSan, made by Five Star Chemicals, is my favorite sanitizer.  Its cheap, easy to use, and doesn’t need to be rinsed off before use.  It even makes a yeast nutrient when diluted, like when wort is added to the fermentor (don’t fear the foam!).  It also has a tendency to get cloudy when its left for a while after mixing with water. Read more of this post

Water Treatment for Brewing 3: Adjusting the Water

[Miniseries Part One, Two, Three, Three-point-Five, Three-point-Six, Four]

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Water Treatment for Brewing 2: Water Report

[Miniseries Part One, Two, Three, Three-point-Five, Three-point-Six, Four]

In part one of this mini-series, I went into why you might be interested in making water adjustments, what various important ions do to your brew, and what sort of water is good for what beers.  That’s all fine and dandy, but completely academic unless you can actually treat the water.  So, the first thing you’ll want to get is a water report to find your water’s baseline.  Otherwise, you’ll be adding some well measured and well controlled amount of brewing salts to god-knows-what.  And that adds up to god-knows-what. Read more of this post

Brew Tips: Small Batch Brewing

A few posts about bread in the bag, and now back to beer in a big way.  Err… small way.

There are some parts of brewing that are, well… kind of a pain.  And there is very little change in all of this based on batch size; you still need to clean everything, drag all of your buckets out, and so on.  So, it seems awfully counter-intuitive to make less beer for nearly the same effort.  You might be interested if you are in a small apartment.  But you should really be interested if you like to walk on the wild side with your brewing. Read more of this post

Water Treatment for Brewing 1: The Basics

[Miniseries Part One, Two, Three, Three-point-Five, Three-point-Six, Four]

This is the first post I am doing on water treatment, and not the last.  By water treatment, I mean adding various salts or acids to the water to make it more suitable for various styles.  These salts dissociate into ions (charged particles) in the water which can affect yeast health, flavor perception, mash efficiency, boil protein coagulation, etc.  But, beer has been brewed for thousands of years without anyone knowing what an ion is, and I am sure most of you are already making great beer, so why should you care?  Water treatment will allow you to bring your beer from “I’d definitely buy some of that” to award winning.  Think about a meal that you have had that didn’t have nearly enough salt in it.  Chances are it was dull and lifeless- the flavors there, but muted and muddled.  Add a little salt, and suddenly the flavors come alive and pop, making the rest of the effort to prepare the meal suddenly much more worthwhile. Read more of this post

Brew Tips: Cleaning Bottles

This has always seemed like a no-brainer to me, but how to keep bottles clean for homebrewing is a fairly common question.  So, here’s my take: keep the bottles wet until they are cleaned.  As soon as you pour your brew (or within an hour or two after), rinse out the bottle and make sure to get out all of the sediment and such in the bottle.  Put some dish soap in the bottle (preferably scent free, like you should be using for all of your brewing equipment) and refill it.  Let it sit for a few days to ensure everything has lifted from the surface, including the protein ring around the neck resultant from the second fermentation to bottle condition.  For particularly stubborn protein rings, run a finger along the inside of the bottle neck.  Afterwords, rinse well to get out all the soap, and store someplace clean.  Later, use a no-rinse sanitizer such as StarSan immediately before bottling (don’t fear the foam!). Read more of this post

Brew Tips: Chlorine Removal with Campden Tablets

One of the ongoing topics I would like to cover are brewing tips.  These will be miscellaneous things I have found to make my brewing better and easier.

Unless you use bottled water for brewing (and maybe even if you do), chances are you have chlorine or chloramine in your brewing water.  Chlorine will dissipate from the water if you leave the water out overnight or over a day or two, and is relatively easily filtered out if run slowly through a carbon filter.  Chloramine, on the other hand, is actually ammonia with some of the hydrogen atoms swapped out for chlorine, and is extremely persistent.  It will not dissipate (at least not in the amount of time you are going to want to give it), and its practically impossible to filter out of the water.  Unfortunately, it can still react with things in your beer such as phenols to create chlorophenols.  Chlorophenols can be detected by the human tongue at extremely low levels (as in parts-per-billion), and taste terrible- some are described as band-aid-y.  So, what to do?  Campden tablets to the rescue. Read more of this post

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