Everything Homebrew Related
This section is about brewing science. It is a collection of topics that spans the entire homebrewing hobby. If you are like most of us homebrewers, it doesn’t take long before homebrewing becomes more than just a hobby, it becomes an infatuation, a passion, and for some, a career.
If you are just starting out, or are trying to decide if this hobby is for you, don’t be intimidated by some of the topics in brewing science discussed here. Just like anything else in life, brewing can be as simple as cooking a recipe on your kitchen stove, or as complicated as you want to make it.
Brewing has been around as long as civilization so you can imagine how much has been discovered by trial and error. Most of those procedures in brewing science are still as valid today as they were when someone stumbled upon them eons ago.
Brewing Science involves biology, chemistry, mechanics and physics. It is also an art. Great homebrewers are like great chefs. They use all their skills and knowledge, including science, but ultimately they rely on their imagination to craft wonderful creations that will be enjoyed by themselves and their friends.
There is a lot of satisfaction in creating an award-winning beer. Check out some of the topics below and who knows, you may be a Ninkasi winner some day.
Basic Topics in Brewing Science
How to Make Beer -learn the procedures, step by step, for making beer from extracts or extract kits as well as all-grain procedures.
Extract Tips -for the beginner brewing his first extract kit, or the advanced extract brewer, find some really great tips on how to best brew with extracts.
Temperature Control -possibly one of the most important aspects of homebrewing you will ever learn is temperature control, without it you will always make mediocre beer.
Lautering-is a somewhat confusing brewing term which describes the processes of the Mashout, Recirculation and Sparging. Basically, it is the physical process of draining the sweet wort and rinsing the remaining sweet wort from the residual converted grain in the Mash-Later Tun MLT.
The Boil -if you take the boil for granted, you need to read this section. The boil is such an important part of brewing procedures, and most brewers don’t even realize that by controlling the boil, you can profoundly affect the outcome of your beer.
Advanced Topics in Brewing Sceince
High Gravity Brewing-Learn all the problems (and solutions) to brewing high gravity beers, like barleywine, old ales, Belgian Tripels, etc.
Krausening-Priming with Fermenting Wort -Krausening is a process traditionally used by German brewers to add carbonation to their beers. It was primarily used on lagers because the yeast would often go dormant during the very cold lagering phase of fermentation, although it was also used on wheat beers too. Learn all about how krausening can improve the flavors in your lagers as well as add carbonation.
Attenuation -It tells a brewer how much the specific gravity of his beer will drop during fermentation. The most common form used by brewers is called apparent attenuation or apparent degree of fermentation (ADF). Learn how attenuation affects many of the properties in your beer.
Wort Production -involves the work of primarily two enzymes. When a grist is used that is high in adjuncts, others may be employed to do specific tasks that affect the final outcome of the finished beer. Learn about it here.
Carbonate Reduction in Brewing Water -certain areas of the country have problems with carbonates, like mine for instance. Learn what you can do to deal with the problems.
Beer Calories -Beer calories are infamous for their effects on your belly, but studies have shown that drinking beer is not the cause of “beer belly”. Read more about it here.
Cereal Mash -if you plan on using raw grains such as oats, rice, grits, etc. you will need to do a cereal mash before adding them to your main mash. Find out how here.
Clarity -Since the first pilseners of Pilsen arrived, beer clarity has become an important aspect of most beers. American light lagers are some of the clearest beers in the world with their low proteins and high adjuncts. Beer drinkers have come to expect their beer to be clear. So how does this affect the homebrewer? Find out here.
Off Flavor Troubleshooting -there are many off flavors that can get into your homebrew. Some are even acceptable in certain styles. Learn all about the different causes and preventions here.
Homebrew Testing Procedures -you don’t need an expensive lab to perform tests on your beers. Many tests are simple and reveal problems that you can remedy during the brewing or fermentation process. Learn about homebrew testing here.
Brewing Enzymes -enzymes are at work during your mash whether you understand what they are doing or not. Controlling enzymatic activity is one of the tools the homebrewer has that can affect many different factors in their beers. Learn all about the different brewing enzymes and how you can control them.
Mash Alkalinity Your mash alkalinity is a measurement of the mash’s ability to buffer, or resist, attempts to lower its pH. See what you can do to control it.
Dry Hopping Techniques -Dry hopping is a technique of adding hop aroma to your beer. This aroma is different than that attained by late hop additions. Many describe it as being closer to what you would smell with a handful of hops in your hands, or the aroma of a fresh bag of just opened hops.
Mash pH -find out how to determine your mash pH and correct it when it is off.
Using Olive Oil Instead of Oxygen -You may have heard about using olive oil instead of adding oxygen to your wort. There are several advantages of doing this. Anytime you can reduce or eliminate oxygen you are better off. Eliminating oxygenation will increase the shelf life and flavor stability of your homebrew. Check out the article before you try it.
Convert Plato to Specific Gravity -conversion comes in handy when you want to formulate a recipe, but the densities are in original extract and apparent extract, with both units in degrees Plato. Many brewers use this convention when writing about and discussing their recipes. Learn how to convert the units to original gravity and final gravity for use in your homebrew brewing software.
Convert Specific Gravity to degrees Brix Table -use this handy table when you need to convert recipes from SG to degrees Brix and back.
Low Oxygen Brewing-the method German breweries use to make their malt forward beer styles. Learn how homebrewers can use this new brewing method to improve their beer.
Brewing Science-Brewing Equipment
Homebrewing Systems -homebrewers are never satisfied with the equipment they have. They are always looking for some new gadget or tool to make their beers better. Well, you can make really great beer with the very basics in equipment. Or, you can brewing on a super high-tech brewsculpture. Here are some guidelines on the equipment you will need and want.
Advanced Homebrew Systems -this page highlights some of the advanced BrewSculptures from MoreBeer.com because they are the most advanced and innovative systems on the commercial market today. Find out why Stone Brewing, Santa Barbara Brewing, Rougue Brewing, Brewery Ommagang, Flying Dog Brewery, Hales Ales, EJ Phair, (Russing River – coming soon), all use MoreBeer.com’s BrewSculptures for their pilot breweries (plus more than 700 homebrewers).
Propane Burners Used by Homebrewers -this page discusses the different types of propane burners you will need to know about when designing your RIMS, or just wanting to get a new propane burner for your outdoor brewing set-up. You will learn some calculations involved in determining how many BTUs you need for your pot size to boil your strike water. Other considerations are discussed with the various types of burners available on the market.
Fermentation Equipment -fermentation is a big part of making really great beer. Find out what kinds of equipment are available to make your fermentations successful.
Hydrometer -is probably one of the most important instruments that the homebrewer uses. Without it, you have no idea of how much alcohol you have, whether your fermentation is finished, whether you got all the sugars out of your grain or not, and whether your beer needs to be adjusted prior to the boil. They aren’t very expensive but make a huge difference in your brewing.
Refractometer -are a nice instrument to have on hand. They are definitely a luxury item because the hydrometer works just as well. The problem with hydrometers is that the beer or wort needs to be corrected to the hydrometer’s calibration temperature whereas the refractometer will read the gravity of boiling wort. Learn all about them here.
Stir Plate -are another luxury item you can do without (for a while). You’ll soon learn that using a stir plate can increase your viable and healthy yeast a lot. When you need to make a starter, a stir plate is invaluable.
Brewing Science-Design Your Own Recipes
Beer Recipe Formulation -it won’t be long before you will want to design your own beer recipe. It is really for the advanced brewer, but anyone can do it (you’ll eventually learn by trial and error). Learn how to formulate your own recipe for your “perfect beer”.
Jamil’s Recipe Database -is a page I wrote so you can download my spreadsheet with all the ingredients for all the recipes in the book Brewing Classic Styles. The index in the back of the book doesn’t reference the ingredients so now if you want to brew one of the great recipes in that book on the yeast cake you’ll soon have available, you can just search the index to find all the recipes that use that yeast (or any other ingredient as well). You’ll also find all the specs for the recipes too, like OG, FG, ABV, ADF, etc.
Brewing Science-Recipe Ingredients
Fermentables -are everything in a beer that the yeast used to make the alcohol. You will be surprised at some of the things we use in our beer.
Malts -have always been the basic ingredient for beer. It’s what separated beer from wine and mead. There are many different types of base malts from all over the world, each of which will impart a special flavor and character to your beer. Specialty grains and crystal malts are used to enhance the base malt and create the many magical beers we all love to drink. Learn about all the malts here.
Hops -without hops your beer just wouldn’t taste like something you’d want to drink. Hops balance out and enhance the sweetness of the malts and make an otherwise bland, sweet beverage wonderfully balanced and interesting. Learn all about hops in this section.
Yeast -there is so much to learn about the magical powers of beer yeast that it could take up volumes of space. This page discusses the yeasts that brewers use and compares those commercially available to us homebrewers.
Brewing Water -believe it or not, the water you use makes a big difference in the final outcome of your beer. Learn what’s in your water, how to get it tested and how to adjust it to brew any style of beer you choose.
Controlling Fermentation and the Fermentability of Your Beers -this is one of the most prevalent problems with beginning homebrewers. Learn all about fermentation issues and solutions here.
Fermenting in a Keg -with the price of glass carboys going up, not to mention the danger involved in moving the glass fermenters full of beer, it makes sense to start using some of your corny kegs as fermenters. Learn how here.
Yeast Starters -yeast starters make a big difference in the quality of your fermentation. They just take a little pre-planning to have them ready when you need them. Learn all about starters here.
Washing Yeast -yeast is one of the more expensive ingredients we as homebrewers have to deal with when making beer. Pitching onto the yeast cake from a previous batch saves you time and money by not having to make a starter. Learn how to wash the yeast cake which is mixed with trub and hop residue so that you get a cleaner fermentation.
Yeast Selection Guide -many factors come into play when choosing your yeast. Learn about them here.
Evaluating Your Homebrew-Troubleshooting
Evaluating Your Beer -learn how to use all your senses to evaluate your beer.
Off Flavors -if you want to know what it means if your beer tastes and smells like a skunk just bathed in your beer, or if it smells more like a can of Green Giant Niblet Corn, check out this section for the problems and solutions to all your off flavors.