101 - hops...creating a recipe

This is for those of us that haven't been brewing very long and want to make their own recipe or tweak an existing recipe.  As in pretty much all of life, nothing described in something this short can be completely true and accurate...but it'll do for the 10,000 foot view.

Hops are used for three things in brewing: bitterness, flavor and aroma...and this is the cool part -> YOU get to decide how you're using the hops simply by choosing WHEN you put them in your kettle.

There are only three things to remember:
  • Hops boiled a long time contribute a lot of bitterness, a bit of flavor, and no aroma.
  • Hops boiled a short time contribute a little bitterness, a lot of flavor, and some aroma.
  • Hops boiled for a very short time or not boiled at all add no bitterness, some flavor, and a lot of aroma.

So imagine this...you're going to boil your wort for 60 minutes.
  1. At 60 minutes, you add hops for bitterness.
  2. After 40 minutes (what we call 20 minutes left to boil) you add the hops for flavor
  3. At flameout, you add the hops for aroma.

At it's simplest, it's pretty much just that easy.

Now...a little jargon (but, trust me, cool jargon).

Malt makes the beer sweet, hops make the beer bitter.  Every style is, among other things, a balancing act between the malt and the hops (and the yeast, but that's another subject entirely).  An AIPA (American India Pale Ale) has, relatively speaking, a lot of bitterness.  An Irish red, comparatively, has a lot of sweetness.  You're going to control the bitterness AND the balance of your beer by choosing and using hops appropriately.

When you buy hops, they'll be labeled with an AA%.  This stands for the percent of the hops that are alpha acids...the primary source of bitterness.  When you boil the hops for 60 minutes, you're going to release all that bitterness into your beer.

Different hop varieties have different tastes AND different amounts of alpha acids. Crystal hops, for example, usually have between 2 and 4% AA...and I have some Warrior hops in the fridge that are 18% AA.

So think about this...if you want a beer that's as bitter as 1 ounce of Warrior hops would make it...but you're using 3% AA Crystal hops...then it stands to reason that you'd need 6 ounces, right?  1 ounce of 18%AA = 6 ounces of 3%AA...make sense?

The amount of bitterness in the beer is known as IBU...the International Bitterness Units.  The amount of perceived bitterness in your beer is the BR...the Bitterness Ratio (the balance thing we were talking about above).  We'll discuss BR another time.

Just to give you an idea, the American Lagers that everyone knows have, maybe 10 IBUs...and an Imperial IPA might have 100 IBU.

Calculating IBUs with a pencil and paper is pretty complicated, but for the mathematical masochists among us, here are a couple formulas from the homebrew wiki.  In practice, we don't do that.  We go online or to our phones and pull up an IBU calculator from someone like Brewer's Friend.

An Example: a nice Scottish or Irish Ale.

(follow along with me here...pop open another window on the IBU calculator and use it in the recipe below...it's easy)

You just went into the Nine Brothers Irish Pub and had a Smithwicks...and you loved it....an outstanding beer!  Someone tells you itÅ› an Irish Ale....you can hardly wait to make your own Irish Ale....so lets go!

We know for this style that we're looking for 20-30 IBU and little hops flavor (check any beer style guide for that info).  We have some nice Kent Goldings hops at the local home brew store and the package says 5.0% AA.

So we plug into the calculator an average wort density (what we call OG, original gravity, but more on this in a subsequent investigation)...let's say 1.050 and 2 ounces of hops boiled 60 minutes....the calculator says 42 IBU...WOAH...too much!  That'll be way too bitter for what we're trying to make...dial it back a bit...put in 1 ounce...says 21 IBU...ok, just right.

So when we make our beer, we'll use one hop addition...60 minutes before the end of the boil and we'll add 1 ounce of Kent Goldings.

Now, we could stop right there and be just fine....but why not fancy it up bit?  Just to show off.

We'll give it just a bit more hops flavor but no bitterness (remember our rule? that means short boil)......go to the calculator....let's try 1/4 ounce for the last 20 minutes....calculator says that'll add 2.9 IBUs....21 IBUs (from the 1 ounce at 60 minutes) + 2.9 IBUs is about 24 IBU...still well in the range of our desired style.

Now we know we're going to throw an ounce of Kent Goldings in when the boil starts, boil it for 40 minutes, throw in 1/4 ounce of Kent Goldings and boil 20 more minutes.

So - that's how that's done...pretty easy actually...a couple times through and it'll be second nature.

Hop Spider

my newest device.

not my idea...I stole the entire thing from John Brooke's article in the December Brew Your Own magazine.

Thats a regular grain bag / hop bag attached to it...full of hop pellets.

Notice how the heads of the carriage bolts hang over the lip of the pot so the thing doesn't fall in.

Note...I had to trim the hop bag.  I was afraid that, if it's too big, as the pot comes to a boil, it would inhibit that great roiling boil you need to make sure to drive off all the DMS stuff.

Worked great.

Between this thing and the hop blocker...I punched in six ounces of hops and had very little in the primary and the chiller didn't get clogged.

The whole thing cost me less than $10.

milk - the best glue for labels

I enjoy making labels for my beer, but I don't enjoy trying to clean bottles of the glue that avery and others use for their labels.

Somehow, I found out or figured out that milk does a much better job.

The labels stick nicely to the bottles, but come off easily, too.

Get a saucer of milk and float each end of the label like in the picture below

Don't immerse it, just float it to dampen the back of the paper.

Then smooth it on to the bottle and let it dry.  It's that easy.

A session beer that doesn't suck

I've been struggling to make a session beer that doesn't suck.  Finally hit it.

mash @ 155F
  • 3 # 2 row pale
  • 3 # maris otter
  • 1 # 45L crystal
  • 1 # biscuit

  • 1 oz northern brewer - first wort
  • 1 oz glacier (from the backyard) - 15 minutes

chill and pitch
1 sachet safale S-04
  • OG 1.044
  • FG 1.014
  • 3.9% abv
  • 44 ibu
  • br 1.2

Today's game: Dragon Milk

Today's brewing game.

We each use the same recipe but brew in our various styles and mashes, all grain, extract, BIAB, lauter, batch sparge, single infusion, decoction whatever.  Then we get together and cross taste on BrewDay.

Single malt, single hops.  Here's the recipe:

  • Any water treatments you need
  • 14 #Maris Otter or similar DME / LME
  • mash - your choice.
  • 3 oz East Kent Goldings - first wort
  • 2 oz East Kent Goldings - 20 minutes
  • 1 oz East Kent Goldings - flameout.
  • irish moss or whatever fining agents you prefer...or not.
  • SafAle S-04

I know I'm doing all grain with my new setup, Jed's doing extract, Greg's doing BIAB...plenty of room left for variants / mash styles.

Thanksgiving - what you didn't know.

I had no idea that the reason the pilgrims stopped at Plymouth Rock, instead of continuing on up the Hudson River was because they'd run out of beer.

From the manuscript "Of Plymouth Plantation" by William Bradford, second governor of Plymouth Colony and passenger on the Mayflower: "...For they had been 6 weeks at sea, and had no water, nor beere, nor any woode left, but had burnt up all their emptie caske..."

Here's the actual transcription of the manuscript from Early Americas Digital Archive (EADA).

and thanks to the Indianapolis Star article written by Jason Larrison of HoosierBeerGeek.com  for the info.

Bombshell Blonde - pale ale

5 gallons.  A pale ale, this is the beer that got the new roof on the house.

mash @ 155F
  • 4.0 # pale 2 row
  • 2.0 # maris otter
  • 0.5 # biscuit
  • 0.5 # 10L crystal
  • 0.5 # 40L crystal
  • 0.5 # wheat

  • 0.5 oz warrior - first wort
  • 2.0 # light brown sugar - 60 minutes
  • 0.5 oz cascade - 15 minutes
  • 1 t black peppercorns - 5 minutes
  • 1.0 oz willamette - 5 minutes

cool and pitch 1 sachet SafAle S-05
  • OG 1.056
  • FG 1.010

Interesting note: after 2 weeks in the bottle, a slight vegetal aftertaste...assumed DMS...but 2 weeks later the strange taste was gone and the beer was delicious..and literature suggests DMS won't fade, so I don't know what it was.

Completely consumed during the  big roofing weekend.

Kettle Mod - hopblocker

I had a great 8g pot, but no valve and found siphoning with the plate chiller awkward (and that's the nice way of phrasing it...in use, siphoning to the chiller involved obscenities...)

I bought a hopblocker from the finest, most friendly homebrew shop in Indiana, Kennywood, in Crown Point, and contacted the folks at Bargain Fittings to fab the fittings for the pot.

I didn't really know what I needed, but they took great care of me via an email exchange and fabbed an all stainless ball valve and related fittings to modify the pot for the hopblocker.

I used a step bit and really didn't have any trouble at all drilling the pot...kept it cool with a soaking wet paper towel.

Figuring that baby bottle nipples must be food safe and have to stand up to, at least, boiling temperatures, I cut the nipple part off, kept the "flat" part that goes into the bottle and had three food safe, high temp gaskets for less than a buck.

Works perfectly

Bitter Bastards Best

Best Bitter...5 gallons

I use a cylindrical cooler for the mash and 14# of grain is too much for it.  Terrible conversion.  Might be time to upgrade to one of the rectangular cooler builds.

mash @ 150F (note: not enough room in the tun to properly hydrate...could probably hit this gravity with 4 pounds each of 2 row and maris)
  • 6# pale 2 row
  • 6# maris otter
  • 1# biscuit
  • 1# 45L crystal

boil 75 minutes
  • 0.5 oz chinook - first wort
  • 0.5 oz warrior - first wort
  • 0.5 oz homegrown cascade - 20 minutes

chill and pitch sachet SafAle S-05
  • OG 1.056
  • FG 1.012

Bottling tip #1 - close the stopcock on the bottling bucket

Surprising how much mess a gallon or so of beer can make...

Wilkinson ESB

A nice classic ESB...willamette is kind of an american fuggles  3 gallons.

Mash @ 158F

  • 4.0 # pale 2 row
  • 0.5 # 15L crystal
  • 0.5 # biscuit

Boil and add
  • 0.25 oz warrior hops - 60 minutes
  • 1.0 # brown sugar - 60 minutes
  • 0.5 oz willamette - 20 minutes
  • 0.5 oz willamette - 5 minutes
  • 1 t irish moss - 5 minutes

cool and pitch 1 sachet SafAle S-05
  • OG 1.056
  • FG 1.010

GingerSmack - a dry sparkling mead

6 gallons.

Bring to 180F for 10 minutes
  • 6 Gallons filtered water
  • 0.5 T Gypsum
  • 2 inch chunk of gingerroot shredded
  • 12 # wildflower honey
  • 0.25 t irish moss

cool and pitch 1 sachet Lalvin D47 with
  • 1 t yeast energizer
  • 1 t yeast nutrient

After a week, dry hop with 1 T crushed black peppercorns

only enough bottling sugar for sparkling...3 oz or so.
  • OG 1.076
  • FG 1.000

Three C's Stout

5 gallons, partial mash.  I won't make this again.  It tastes great...the taste changes, it seems, every month...but it's a huge mess...the "cake" in the bottom of the carboys was thick and muddy and I had to rack four times to get it even close to clean

On the other hand, it tastes great...smooth...cherries, coffee, chocolate...what's not to love?

Mash in 4Q @ 155F overnight mash
  • 1.0 # toasted (300F) rolled oats
  • 1.0 # maris otter
  • 0.5 # 120L crystal
  • 0.5 # chocolate malt
  • 0.5 # 60L crystal

  • 1.0 # amber DME - 75 minutes
  • 6.6 # golden light LME - 75 minutes
  • 1.5 oz columbus - 75 minutes
  • 1 cinnamon stick - 5 minutes
  • 8.0 oz cocoa - 5 minutes
  • 1 cup (cup, not shot) expresso - flameout

cool and pitch 1 sachet SafAle S-04, 1 sachet SafAle S-05
  • add 5 pounds pie frozen pie cherries

hold for a week or so before racking the first time to make sure you've got all you're going to get from the cherries.  then rack a couple more times, as necessary, to clear.

Note -> after all that racking, it ended up at 4 gallons stout

  • OG 1.080
  • FG 1.025

American ESB

5 gallons.  Really simple. An ESB style with just a kiss of american hops.

Mash in 15Q water @ 154F overnight mash
  • 5.0 # pale 2 row
  • 5.0 # maris otter
  • 1.0 # 45L crystal
  • 0.5 # belgian wheat

Boil for 75 minutes
  • 0.50 oz chinook - first wort
  • 0.75 oz amarillo - first wort
  • 0.25 oz amarillo - 10 minutes

chill, pitch S-05
  • OG 1.068
  • FG 1.010

to clean wort stained pots easily

from Rox when she saw me furiously scrubbing the bottom of my stainless pot...

a couple inches of water in the pot
a half dozen tablespoons of baking soda

boil for 20 minutes and rinse

sparkling clean, no elbow grease required.

Sparkling Cyser

5 gallons.  One of Rox's favorites

heat to 180F for 20 minutes
  • 2.5 gallons unpreserved cider
  • 2.5 gallons filtered water
  • 6.0 # honey

chill and pitch 1 sachet Lalvin D47 and 1 sachet Safbrew S-33
  • OG 1.056
  • FG 0.996
hold bottling sugar to 3.6 oz so it's just sparkling.

Summer Ale

simple and easy.  very clean, very american

5 gallons

Mash @ 150F
  • 4.0 # pale 2 row
  • 4.0 # maris otter
  • 0.5 # 40L crystal
  • 0.5 # wheat malt

  • 0.5 oz amarillo - first wort
  • 0.5 oz columbus - 60 minutes
  • 1.0 # cane sugar - 60 minutes
    1 T black peppercorns - 20 minutes
  • 0.5 oz amarillo - flameout

chill and pitch 1 sachet S-05 in a slurry

  • OG 1.056
  • FG 1.002

Cousin Pliny - an American Imperial IPA

A tribute to Russian River's Pliny the Elder.

Not enough capacity in my setup for an all grain version, so this is a partial mash...

partial mash @ 154F overnight mash,
  • 4.25 # pale 2 row
  • 1.50 # 20L crystal
  • 1.00 # wheat malt
  • 0.50 # biscuit

sparge and add as follows...
  • 1.5 oz chinook - first wort
  • 2.0 # light DME - 90 minutes
  • 1.0 # cane sugar - 90 minutes
  • 0.5 oz chinook - 90 minutes
  • 2.0 oz warrior - 90 minutes
  • 1.0 oz simcoe - 45 minutes
  • 1.0 oz columbus - 30 minutes
  • 1.0 oz simcoe - flameout
  • 2.25 oz centennial - flameout
  • 3.5 # honey - flameout

cool & pitch SafAle S-05

after racking to secondary, dry hop with

  • 1.75 oz centennial
  • 3.25 oz columbus
  • 1.75 oz simcoe

rack to tertiary to clear.

  • OG 1.074
  • FG 1.009