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Home Brewing for the Holidays

Adding Hops to the Boil

I was fortunate enough to get a little time off of work before New Year’s and decided to try and make the best of it!  I was able to dedicated a good deal of time to some home brewing projects and all in all I was able to brew 4 batches.  I made a 5 gallon batch of hard cider that I am aging on Oregon tart cherries, I brewed an Irish Stout that I am again on Irish Whiskey oak cubes, coffee and Irish Cream flavoring which I am calling car bomb, MoreBeer’s Hop Gatherer IPA which uses distilled hop oil and a slightly modified version of More Beer New England Style IPA called Haze Craze, their Hazy IPA.  In the coming weeks I will post recipes and reviews on all of them. For now, here are some photos from my most recent home beer brewing sessions.

 

Home Brewing Mash of an Irish Stout

Home Brewing Mash of an Irish Stout on a Blichmann 20 Gallon Mash Tun

 

Recirculating the mash using my stainless steel RIMS temperature controller and More Beer Stainless Steel Ultimate Sparge Arm

Recirculating the mash using my stainless steel RIMS temperature controller and More Beer Stainless Steel Ultimate Sparge Arm

 

Transferring my stout to my stainless steel SS BrewTech 7 Gallon Conical Fermenter

Transferring my stout to my stainless steel SS BrewTech 7 Gallon Conical Fermenter

 

Session Beer

A session beer is defined as a beer with an alcohol by volume or ABV of less then 5%. The purpose of a session beer is to permit the drinker to enjoy multiple beers at a sitting without becoming overly intoxicated.

Lovibond

Lovibond is one of the methods used to measure the color of beer. Using the Lovibond method, a beer’s color is compared against colored glass slides to determine a numerical value for the beer. The more recently created and precise Standard Reference Method has for the most part replaced the Lovibond method.

 

The following chart shows approximate Lovibond numerical values with the corresponding color and is categorized by style of beer.

West Coast Brewer SRM Lovibond Beer Color Scale

West Coast Brewer SRM Lovibond Beer Color Scale

liquor

Liquor is simply water in beer brewing terms. The hot liquor tank is a large vessel that heats water for the different steps in the brewing process. The water that is released from the hot liquor tank is known as liquor.

Beer Rack

A beer rack is another term for a home brewery. Most home brewing beer racks or brewing racks have three vessels: a hot liquor tank, mash tun, and a boil kettle. The home brewing beer rack shown below is a single-tier rack that uses march pumps to transfer liquid from one vessel to another at different stages of the brewing process. Each vessel has a separate propane burner beneath it to apply heat when needed.

 

 

 

If you are interested in purchasing a home brewing rack, there are a wide variety of beautiful stainless steel single-tier and multi-tier beer rack models available here:

Home Brewing Racks

 

Here’s an image of the WestCoastBrewer.com home brewing beer rack.

Beer Rack for home brewing

Beer Rack for home brewing

Brewing Sculpture

A home brewing sculpture is another term for a home brewery. Most home brewing beer sculptures consist of a hot liquor tank, mash tun, and a boil kettle. The brewing sculpture shown below is a single-tier sculpture that utilizes pumps to transfer liquid from one tank to another at different stages of the brewing process. Each tank has a separate propane fueled burner beneath it to apply heat when needed.

 

 

If you are interested in purchasing a prefabricated home brewing sculpture, there are a wide variety of beautiful stainless steel single-tier and multi-tier models available here:

Home Brewing Sculpture

 

Here’s an image of the WestCoastBrewer.com home brewing beer sculpture. If you are interested in building your own and have any questions, just let me know.

Home Brewing Beer Sculpture Photo

Home Brewing Beer Sculpture

Krausen

Krausen is the foamy and bubbly head that forms on top of beer during primary fermentation. As yeast ferments the sugars in a beer, it creates a great deal of CO2. The Krausen is formed as the CO2 rises to the top of the beer, mixing with proteins, yeast and residues and forming a tall layer of yeast saturated bubbles.

 

Krausening is also a term for when a measured amount of actively fermenting beer and/or krausen is added to a more thoroughly fermented beer as a means of conditioning or naturally carbonating the beer. Krausening is typically done as a means of carbonating a bottled beer with out violating the German beer purity laws.

 

 

Below is a video showing krausen in a 6.5 gallon carboy during primary fermentation.

IBU or International Bittering Units

IBU or international bittering units is a measurement showing the actual, not perceived, bitterness that the alpha acids from hops have imparted on a beer. The strength, sweetness and maltiness of a beer impacts the way our taste buds perceive the alpha acid bitterness in the beer. Typically the stronger or maltier a beer tastes, the less we perceive the bitterness, so a brewer must balance the beer with additional hops or a longer boil time to compensate.

Below is a listing of common IBU levels that you can expect from different beer styles. The international bittering units are important when designing a beer as you want to make sure you do not add too many or too few international bittering units and create a beer that is not consistent with the style you are attempting to brew. Knowing the typical IBU of a style of beer may also be helpful when ordering a beer so that you can select a beer with a bitterness level that you find most enjoyable.

 

 

IBU by Beer Style - International Bittering Units

IBU by Beer Style – International Bittering Units

 

 

 

 

Growler

Growlers are large capacity beer containers that are typically made of glass, ceramic, or stainless steel. In the late 1990s, growlers began gaining in popularity at craft breweries and brewpubs as an easy way for patrons to take beer home when traditional bottling was not a reasonable option. A typical growler holds 64 or 68 fluid ounces, but they come in a variety of sizes. The top of the growler creates an airtight seal using either a screw cap or a hinge/latch style cap and can keep beer fresh for over a week if maintained properly.

Below is an example of five different styles of beer growlers: a ceramic Widmer Gasthaus growler, a Deschutes latch top glass growler, a small screw top glass growler, a Russian River latch top circular growler, and a Firestone large screw top growler.

An example of 5 different beer growlers

An example of five different beer growlers.

Ester

An ester is chemical flavor compound that is created during the fermentation process. Ester formation is primarily dependent on the yeast strain.

In some cases, excess esters are considered an off flavor, and in other instances, it is desired—like in the case of a Bavarian hefeweizen where banana and clove tasting esters are expected. Esters are typically described as fruity, flowery, or spicy scents and flavors in a beer.

Wet Hopping

Wet hopping or fresh hopping a beer is when freshly picked\undried hops are added to a beer at some point of the brewing, fermenting, or conditioning process. These hops are typically added to the beer within a day or two of being picked to maximize the unique flavors extracted from a freshly picked hop. A fresh or wet hop is typically less predictable than a dried hop and will usually impart a lower amount of bitterness than the same weight of dry hops due to the additional moisture weight in the wet hop.

 

Below is a photo of some cascade hops nearly ready to be picked and used for fresh hopping\wet hopping.

Cascade hops ready to be used for Fresh Hopping or Wet Hopping.Cascade hops ready to be used for fresh hopping or wet hopping.

Fresh Hopping

Wet hopping or fresh hopping a beer is when freshly picked\undried hops are added to a beer at some point of the brewing, fermenting, or conditioning process. These hops are typically added to the beer within a day or two of being picked to maximize the unique flavors extracted from a freshly picked hop. A fresh or wet hop is typically less predictable than a dried hop and will usually impart a lower amount of bitterness than the same weight of dry hops due to the additional moisture weight in the wet hop.

 

Below is a photo of some cascade hops nearly ready to be picked and used for fresh hopping\wet hopping.

Cascade hops ready to be used for Fresh Hopping or Wet Hopping.

Cascade hops ready to be used for fresh hopping or wet hopping.

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