Grain vs. Extract

Hello and welcome to Hops, Brew, and Blog, where we will talk about the art of brewing. Brewing is a fun hobby that anyone can do. We will talk about everything from cloning beers you already love (and hopefully making them cheaper than buying), to experimenting with recipes no one has tried yet. We will also talk about the debate items of brewing including brewing with grain vs extract, what hops are better, the friend-breaker of liking IPAs, and many more. So sit back, grab your favorite brew (if you can) and prost!

For our first post, we’re going to dive right in…Grain vs Extract when brewing. Everyone has a say in this on whether you want all grain because it makes your beer a “pure brew” or some say you won’t be able to tell the difference so why take the extra time. Well, I am here to share what I have experienced in my time brewing. And there is a simple remedy to the debate that some might know. 

First things first, what is the difference. For those new to brewing, having a grain brew is using the actual grains you want. When you go to the local store for brewing, they will have tubs on tubs on tubs of different grains to choose from. It can be overwhelming if you don’t know the differences (heck, it is still for me sometimes). When you get your grains, you need to crack them. You can do this at the store or at home if you can. You then take those cracked grains and use them in the brew to start (we will go through the brewing process in a different blog, best to stay away from that rabbit hole while down this one). Now, there are other steps that can be added because of grains or more tools needed as well. If you are new to brewing, that can also push you away from using grains. In the end, you will have your beer, enjoy your beer, and make sure you saved what you did to make again. 

Now for extract brewing, there are fewer steps involved. Instead of being overwhelmed by all the grains available, you just have to go down a different aisle at the store to find them. They are labeled very simply as the beer you are trying to make (lager extract, ale extract, and so forth) and the only choice is either a dry version (DME) or liquid version (LME). It doesn’t really matter which type you pick. LME is like a syrup so it can make things very sticky, but easier to pour into your pot with the steam and heat while the DME is a powder that is easier to clean but the steam makes it harder to pour in what you want. Speaking of pouring, that is all you need to do. No extra tools and anything extra steps. Once you have your temperature in the pot, you pour in what you need and stir. For a new brewer, that makes the job easier. And, like the grains, in the end, you will have your beer, enjoy your beer, and make sure you saved what you did to make it again. 

Now some say that only the purest of beers are all grain and that extracts will taint the beers. Some say that it is still beer that I enjoy so I will stick with extracts. Do you need to do an all grain brew if you want to share or even enter into a competition? Not really. When I first started brewing, I knew the owners of a local brewery near me at the time. I asked the very same question. And the answer given…not a lot of people can tell the difference. I now compare it to gin. To most people, gin tastes like a pine tree. You could line up different brands of different cost and in a blind tasting, most drinkers won’t know the difference. The person that will know the difference are those that have been drinking gin for most of their lives. They are the connoisseurs of gin and can tell you everything about each bottle. They have their favorite and if that isn’t used in the gin martini, they will know it. The same can be said for this. Yes, you will get someone that can tell, but most times, especially when drinking yourself or with friends, it won’t matter as long as it came out to what you wanted it to be. 

Now it is time for the trick. I say trick, but really it is a kinda obvious step to make. But what you can do is a mix of both. This is how I brew. You get a few main grains to steep in your pot, but you will also use some extract as well. Again, will people know the difference? Probably not, but it is a nice middle ground if you want to eventually do an all grain after some practice. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I know homebrewers that do all extract and I know people that do an all grain brew as well. There are no turf wars over this. And in the end you brew you. 

I hope you enjoyed the read! If you have any thoughts or anything about this topic please let me know. I love learning more myself. All brewing is welcomed here. Cheers!

Irish Red vs American Red vs Other Red Beers

Ever wondered the differences between beers?  Lager vs Kolsch or Whit vs Wheat?  Well we are going to figure that out for the red beers.  Most know Killian’s Irish Red and the red beer we all know, but there are other red beers out there.  There is the American Red and the Flanders Red.  They are all red in color, but are all very different beers. So let’s see what makes them all different 

The first style is the Irish Red.  Like I said before, this is the Killian’s of the red beers.  Most Irish reds have that red (you don’t say) color and a wonderful malt flavor.  To make a red, you generally use malts that are roasted or kilned and added with barley that is also roasted.  The hops are mild to make the bitterness levels very low.  Hops can include kent golding, fuggle, and are generally added in the beginning.  These hops are very low in the acidity level (check out HOPS BLOG to see what that means) and keeps that bitterness low even when put in at the beginning.  With all of those roasted grains, this gives it a caramel flavor and sometimes an almost buttery flavor.  Some people even consider Irish reds to be like drinking buttered toast.  Beers around the country that fall in this style of beer include Three Floyds Brian Boru, Sam Adams Irish Red, Dragonmead Erik the Red, and many others both here in the US or across the pond.

The next style of red is the American Red.  This style would look exactly the same with the color, but can have a very different flavor.  Americans have more love for hops, so american reds have more hoppy flavor to them.  These hops are grown here in the US and include Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Simcoe, and Amarillo.  As for the rest of the parts, these are very similar beers.  Though popular, this beer style doesn’t get a lot of love and is usually placed in the same category with American Ambers, and even back in 2012, was only considered a hybrid beer at the time.  Beers that fall in this style are New Holland Fat Tire, Lagunitas Censored, and Ballistic California Amber.

The third style is the Flanders Red.  This beer is the exact opposite of the previous two.  The only thing this beer has in common with the others is the red.  The malts are red to give the color, but the hops are minimal and this beer is instead a sour beer.  This is actually closer to a wine than a beer with the flavor. Flavor could include sherry, different fruits, and possibly some tannin.  Some of these reds are barrel aged as well.  If you are looking for a usual red beer, i would not recommend this beer for you.  Beers include Jolly Pumpkin La Roja and Lost Abbey Red Poppy.

Not all red or amber beers are the same.  Make sure you are looking for what you want, but also try something new.  You never know what you will like.  If you have other red beers that you have made or found, make sure to share them below and as always, cheers!

Great Deku Mead

Welcome back everyone. I am glad you have all enjoyed the blogs so far. In this one, we are going to dive into one of my favorite meads (and hated by my wife) the Great Deku Mead. As you may know from the previous blogs, this one exploded on me making a wonderful mess and a ban from brewing by my wife until “we have a basement” and now we have one I always make to have in stock. 

As we talked before, mead is very simple to make and I recommend trying it out, just be patient and don’t be greedy. When making mead I would only do a gallon batch. You don’t want five gallons of something super strong and not that great (unless you are in college and want a good time….been there, done that). The other issue if you do a bigger batch is cost. Honey is not that cheap and you will need a lot for a gallon alone. So take it easy and do a gallon. 

For your ingredients, you need to start with your water and honey. Get the water going to just under a boil and then add your honey. In a gallon batch, I use about two pounds (yeah now multiply that by five to know how much you need for a bigger batch). Stir it in and help it dissolve and get it back to just under the boiling point again. Once there, chill it back down to about seventy degrees and then move it to your carboy. Add your yeast and let the science work. For yeast, I use a dry wine yeast to get what I want, but, to tell the truth, I haven’t experimented a lot with the yeast in my meads. 

After two weeks, it is time for the rerack. Here you are going to need the next round of ingredients of fig and elderberries. Figs can be found pretty easily, but the elderberries I order online. In a blender or food processor, add those two together and pour the mixture into your reracked mead. I feel like I haven’t said this enough, don’t be greedy with how much mead you get out. Try to leave as much yeast as possible when you rerack. 

After about another week or two, it is time to rerack again to get the fig and elderberry mixture out. I usually let it sit another week before I bottle it. I like to make sure I have no yeast leftover. I bottle into empty fifth bottles that I have collected as long as there is a cork top (I drink a lot of scotch so I get a lot of them). After bottling them, I will check them every so often to make sure there isn’t any pressure building up (I’m gun shy, don’t judge). Then it is the waiting game. They say the longer the better, but they also say at least six months and then enjoy it. It does get better with the passing time as my brother in-law will attest to. 

And that is the Great Deku Mead. If you are wondering why I picked that name, we can’t be friends….just kidding….but really. One of my favorite video game series of all time, The Legend of Zelda. I also have a beer named after it too. I even blog about that at Another Zelda Podcast. Hope you give it a try and do give it the proper time to age. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below. I will continue to give out recipes I have so everyone can enjoy and I apologize as there is no actual recipe to use when you attempt this…I got to keep some things to myself. Cheer!

How to Make a Recipe

Welcome back to another day in Hop, Brew, and Blog!  Today, we are going to be talking about making a recipe.  I will be giving tips on how to make a recipe from scratch or even just using another recipe as a base. Let’s dive in. 

Since I started brewing, I have made about a half dozen recipes and have successfully made half of them and two that will need adjustments. I have made my IPB Session IPA with Tangerine, Short and Stout Breakfast Tea Stout, and The Dude Coffee Ale successfully, but, I had issues with my All Damn Day Cucumber Kolsch, and Irish Complexion Red Cream Hybrid Ale. I have also just brewed my first New England IPA called the Hazy Triforce NEIPA that turned out to be a great success. Of these six, I used other recipes as a base for four of them and then the other two are completely made from scratch. Now I am not going to give away my recipes here (maybe in a different blog…just means you need to keep reading!) but I will go into making something new or just adding more to an established recipe from somewhere else. 

The first will be adding to a recipe. You may notice as you get into recipe-making, when it comes to interesting combinations of ingredients… chances are, someone has already done it. There are so many breweries and homebrewers out there now, it is like you are Butters in Southpark trying to come up with a plan and your sidekick just keeps saying, “Simpsons did it!”  But it is easier to tweak a recipe than tweak an evil plan. The easiest way to adjust is to change your hops. A lot can happen with changing the hops or changing your hop schedule. With IPAs especially you can take a double IPA and change the hops around to make it more like an easy-drinking session IPA. You can also adjust your malts and grains and even change the yeast you use, but these can have a huge effect on your beer as they are the base of all your beers. Use caution, but try something new in a smaller batch. 

The next easy way to change is the dreaded (to some) fifth ingredient. Doesn’t matter if you are doing a stout or lager, you can add something in the secondary rack to change the flavor. Look at Bud Light…you now have lime and orange. You can do the same to a recipe. Have a porter you like that has chocolate in it already? Try adding coconut or coffee. Have a lager you love? Try lemongrass or cucumber to give a more refreshing taste (my opinion). 

The next thing is to be bold and do something completely from scratch. Again the  “Simpsons did it” mentality is here too but you can always find something no one has tried. Like I said, I managed to make two that I did not see any record on the internet (the internet is always right, right?) but so far, only one has worked. The easiest way is to see what is out there for a style and try to find a different route. The other is to experiment. Using small batches, try and combine different beers. Think anyone has done an IPA lager? (IPL? Might be done but you never know). The best thing to do is to think outside the box and try it out. You never know what something will be like unless you try it. If it fails, make adjustments. 

Now, if this isn’t something you want to try, there is nothing wrong with that. I know homebrewers that simply stick with kits or clones because they know what they like and stick with it. That is the brewing world, you make what you want to drink and that’s it. 

I hope you enjoyed the read. When I first started brewing, I did a lot of kits and clones and then I made my first adjustment to a kit for an IPA and I came up with the IPB…my very first creation. I didn’t do much, just added to the secondary of a session IPA, but I love it and try to make it every year. Make sure to leave comments below and voice your thoughts. Cheers!


Hello and welcome back! Seems you like this since you made it this far so thanks for reading so far!  Today we are going to switch gears to a different brewing that I actually love to do. It is very simple, but one must have patience. We are going to talk about brewing mead. So grab your drinking horn and braid your beard because here we go. 

Now don’t sigh and roll your eyes, but a quick lesson on mead. Mead is a honey wine. That’s right wine but you brew very similar to beer. Mead has a history back to the Viking ages and was said to be the nectar of the gods. That right you are on Thor’s and Odin’s level now. Back then it was very basic compared to what we have going on now so it was easy to make and easy to store and easy to get drunk, best for a Viking while on a boat adventuring and such. 

As I said, mead is simple and supplies are just as simple. Let’s start with ingredients. All you need is water, honey, yeast, and that’s it. For a basic mead that is all you need. Now you can dive in deep to add things, but we will go over that later. To make mead I recommend small batches of a gallon. It will generally yield you a few bottles worth (and when I say bottles I mean fifths or wine bottles) and that is plenty. Get your water to temp and then add the honey to it (called must with mead) and then let it warm and dissolve the honey in the hot water. Once you have that, you will need to cool it and then move to your carboy and pitch the yeast (better to use a dry wine yeast here). Then you let it sit for a week. After the week, rerack to get all the yeast out (as I told you in the Whoops blog) and let sit for another week. After that you can bottle it and let it sit. The longer it ages, the better but most say to wait at least six months. 

Now there are many ways you can change your mead flavor. So far, I have done:




Pumpkin Spice

Elderberry Fig

Green Tea

But there are so many other options out there. The best is fruit combinations. The sweetness works very well with more sweet fruit. You can do what is called a Metheglin where you add spices to it (I have not done this yet myself but had some and it is good). You can change out water for apple cider as well (if you have found it, that is what Zombie Killer is from B. Nectar they add cherry to it as well). The options are only held back by your imagination. Think of anything that goes well with honey in it. Or even something just crazy enough to work. 

So I told you all the funny story with the Great Deku Mead, but there is another.  I have a couple when making mead because I made the mistake of not getting all the yeast out multiple times, and as we know, when you make that mistake you have the possibility of explosions. The first one was the Great Deku Mead in the carpet, but the next one involved the pumpkin spice mead. I had a giara glass that had a stopper attached, and when I opened the full one liter bottle in the kitchen, it exploded like Mt Wannahockaloogie leaving most on the walls, ceiling, cabinets, floor, and me covered in mead and barely any left in the bottle. I was very sad, because A.  I wanted some because it was actually very good, and B.  It happened in front of my parents-in-law.  So, learn from me, get out as much yeast as possible and check your bottles for gas build up once you bottle them. 

I hope you enjoyed it and even got a good laugh at the end. Again leave your thoughts down below. You can talk about mead recipes that you have done and if you have more questions, I will be glad to answer them. You can also reach me on Twitter @rambokuhn.  Cheers!

Lawn Mower Beer

Welcome to the summer edition of this blog.  And with the sun up, that means we got to stay hydrated.  So today we are going to talk about lawn mower beers. And I know that some of you will read that and be like, “Gross, that stuff?  What are we, back in college?”  And there are some that have no idea what that is.  Lawn mower beers are the cheap beers, and though they don’t have a lot of flavor, they hydrate better than say, an IPA or stout.  So, let’s talk about cheap beers…what makes them more hydrating, the dismay some may have to them, and some of my go-to favorites.

The first thing is what makes them what they are.  The main version of them are the American Lagers.  We all know these…Bud Light, The Highlife, and Miller Lite.  There are also those in Canada like Labatt and Molson.  The reason these were made was for lack of ingredients.  Germans that immigrated to the area brought pale lagers with them, but couldn’t make it the same since they lacked the correct two-row barley from Europe and the Tettnanger and Saaz Hops.  And as we know from the Hop Blog those are Noble Hops that can’t be grown in North America.  Another change was adding corn to the mash to help balance the flavors from the different barley and hops.  They were able to get close to it, but to get the beers that we know now, it would be when we get to World War II.  

During WWII, they were forced to ration grain, and were forced to use rice.  As for hops, many used American grown hops including Cascade and Cluster.  So, we are no longer making a clone of European Lager…we have added corn and used different barley, different hops, and then added rice later on.  By their powers combined, we have the current forms of the American Lager.  Though there were tough times with Prohibition, most breweries managed to survive (Canada lost quite a few, but the big ones made it), the recipes continued for the most part.  Due to the lack of strong flavors like an IPA or Porter would have, this beer becomes light (or lite) with less grain and hops that give a slight bitterness when added at the beginning of the boil.  This makes it a quantity beer that you can drink a lot of, and not a quality beer that has a great flavor profile.

Let’s talk about our past college lives.  We have all been there, and some of us are there now.  Poor college kid that needs a drink, what can we do?  We found ourselves looking at a “dirty thirty” (kids, if you are reading this, stop, but if you didn’t listen to me just there… ask your parents).  We do mostly grow out of only buying the thirty packs, but there are some that stay with the lagers, and there is nothing wrong with that.  My late uncle Norm lived by only drinking Labatt Light.  He had no qualm with other beers, I even bought him an IPA called Norm’s Raggedy Ass and he enjoyed them, he just grew up with Labatt Lights and he stuck with what he knew.  My big brother from my fraternity also loves him some Busch Light and even comes down from Canada to get thirty packs in the US that they do not sell in Canada.  Myself, I do prefer flavor in my beer, but there are plenty of times I will reach into my beer fridge and pull out a Budweiser.  And to all of those that only say “gross” you know, deep down, that there is a special place in your heart for a cheap beer that you don’t want to admit.  It’s ok, there is no shame here, drink what you like no matter what it is, just accept it and own it.  In one sitting I will pour me a glass of the coffee ale I made and then get me a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Now let’s talk about what is out there.  We all know about the major ones like Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Labatt, and Labatt Light.  Regionally, there are many others from slightly smaller breweries from Atwater to Yuengling.  There are classics as well that could be hard to find like Strohs or Red Dog.  It is fun to look out there and see what is made (as it is with all beer style) and even some microbreweries are considering making their version of the American Lager.  But if I had to make a choice on an American Lager, I would choose between Pabst Blue Ribbon or Budweiser.  I don’t mind others, but there are those out there that do not like either.  What are your lawn mower beers or choice?  Leave a comment here or reach out on Twitter @rambokuhn or look for Wise Old Owls Brewery on Facebook.  Cheers!

Stout vs Porter

Hello and welcome back to today’s blog. We are going to compare similar beers and try to find the differences in them. I will do this a couple more times as there are beers that some think are pretty much the same. Some can’t tell the difference between a lager or a kolsch or a pale ale and a India pale ale. Right now, we are going to talk about a porter vs a stout. We will dive into what they are as beers (hop profile, usual malts/grains) and then see what we can find as differences. I know a lot of people that love both, and I know some that like one and not the other (I honestly fall in the latter).

Let’s start with the stout (mainly because I love them more). A stout is a dark beer (duh) that has hops with a lower alpha acid level (fuggle is a usual choice) and has malt and grains that can have a chocolate or coffee flavor to them. Most leave as is but you can also add more to the chocolate or coffee flavor or add other flavors including, maple syrup, oatmeal, bananas, milkshake, blueberry pancakes, and so many more. The most commonly known stout is Guinness (it is known) but a lot of microbreweries have made new ones that have made my imagination implode. 

Now with porters, you may guess that it is also a darker beer as well. Hops are also the same with a lesser percentage of alpha acids and with dark malts and grains. Flavors are also added to it like honey, vanilla, bourbon, Neapolitan (yes it was chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry) and chocolate (sounds familiar, I know). Porters were made back in the 18th century and were very popular with (get this) porters on Thames River as it was a stronger beer. Porters have had their ups and downs with popularity, but have become popular in microbreweries as well. 

So what’s the difference? Well it first comes down to which came first and in this case the porter was first and the stout came from porters. A stout is just a stronger porter and was originally called “extra porter” or “stout porter” and was then just shortened to be called stouts. Even Guinness was first called “extra superior porter”.  Porters are usually 6% while stouts can get into the 7% or 8% ABV. So why do some like one and not the other. I had to ask myself this and my answer was simple but not right…I always had a soft spot for Guinness and the creamy light stout is so good (no, they did not sponsor) and porters, when I first started drinking, were not on that level. Now this was prior to my own microbrewery renaissance, so maybe I should give them more of a chance, and I might after trying that Neapolitan porter (it was so weird but really good). And both become better when they are nitronized giving the flavors more of a boost. 

Which do you prefer? Do you even like stouts or porters? After hearing of all the flavors out there, are you willing to give them a try? I know people have preferences, but all beer is good when you give them a chance. Leave a comment below on how you feel about these two styles and we will discuss more next time. Cheers!


Hello everyone!  Thanks for reading and today’s post is going to be a change of pace. No history lessons here and a quick getaway from reality. I am going to tell you my “fun” stories of the whoops that I have made. Before you ask, yes I have enough to do a whole blog and no I am not embarrassed. If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn…and I have learned. So let’s jump in!

The first stories involve mead.  The first was a full growler when it exploded.  Sorry, I Tarentino this a little, so I was living with my wife as we just got married and I was fresh into mead making. Had a kit for a gallon and had fun trying new flavors. One of my favorites to make is my Great Deku Mead that is elderberry and fig which gives it a very deep purple color (remember that). When I was making the mead, I was trying to siphon as much as I can (you all should know what I did wrong) and I bottled most of it in a growler and had it in my liquor cabinet. Well we went on a trip up north and I had a friend watch the apartment and cat (my awesome cat named Thorin). We got a text from him one night of a picture. The picture was of the liquor cabinet covered and surrounded by purple liquid. Yup, the growler exploded and shattered spraying the rich purple color everywhere and into the carpet. The next words said to me by my wife was “no more until we have a house and basement” since this was after the other explosion in the kitchen. Well that is how I learned to get all the yeast out of your mead. Since then, no issues (knocks on wood). 

This next story is going to be slightly redacted as there are parts I can’t say about the recipe. Also this is more about my roommate than my mistake (sorry Matt). When I was living with friends prior to marriage, that was when I started brewing beer with my roommates. We were doing a lot of clones and kits from the local beer supply store (miss you Hopmans) and we got our hands on a clone of a beer we loved and was very strong. It involved a lot of ingredients and was pricey to make. We put it all together, had a slight issue with blowback on the bubbler (that strong) but we got it all together. He started the bottling process and when I got home from work I helped cap them all. After two weeks we popped the first one and it was flat. So we waited another week and was still flat. We were flabbergasted. I looked at everything and came upon a small bag that was not added….priming sugar. Well we had 50 bottles of flat beer. So I ended up cooking with most of it (worked out). Then the bonehead move that came to me later after telling this story to others is “why didn’t you pour all the beer back, add the priming sugar, and rebottle?”  And that was my d’oh moment. 

A more recent moment I had was just last year. I made a recipe for a cucumber kolsch and thought I had it down pat. I had cucumber (skin and seeds removed) and lemon grass in the secondary. I put it in the keg and tasted it. It was amazing and refreshing. I had people over that night and they loved it too. The next weekend I had people over again and some asked to try it again and when we poured it…sour. People were looking at me and the others that had it prior like wtf. Well apparently with the cucumber, there was a little of it still in the beer (floaters…I don’t filter but that wasn’t the issue) and they went bad, very bad. Well, threeish gallons dumped. My lesson learned? Use cucumber water. I am not going to filter. 

Well those are my best learning moments. Post your fun learning moments in the comments below and any other thoughts you have (I am not going to filter my beer). Until next time…cheers!

Adventure in Home brewing: The Final Day

Welcome to the final day…no this isn’t like the Legend of Zelda game, Majora’s Mask, where the moon is crashing down to bring the end of the world, but if it was the end of the world… at least we would have beer. Welcome to the final part of Adventures in Home Brewing:  Kegging the beer. 

That’s right keg, not bottles because like I said in the last post, ain’t nobody got time for that. I did that with my roommates when we first started brewing and it was a giant pain. So when I started back up, I upgraded so I can now keg. If I need to put beer in a bottle, I can use a growler pourer attachment so I can fill a bottle or growler to share. 

Kegging is simple and can be quick if you want it to be. This was talked about in the bottle vs keg blog I did a few weeks back but to summarize, kegging is quicker and easier. So let’s start the process. First, we want to rerack again to get anything from the secondary flavoring out. For The Dude, there is a lot of coconut, chocolate, and coffee we want to make sure doesn’t get into the keg. So siphon the beer into the keg and then put the lid on the keg. Done, simple as that. I know there has to be more…and there is. 

And it is also simple…connect to your kegerator. Now, clearly it won’t be ready to drink immediately this way, but let it sit for a week and it will naturally carbonate. But like I said before, we are in the Final Day of Majora’s Mask and we need to drink it as the moon comes down (or more likely you either want to drink it now because you want to, or there is a party in the next 24 hours). If that is the case, we can force-carbonate it. Crank the air to 22 psi and connect it to the keg. Lay the keg on its side and roll it back and forth for 30 seconds. Then you stand it back up for a few minutes and then you disconnect the air tank and release the air from the keg. You repeat this a half dozen times and then test to see how the carbonation is going. Once it is to your liking, connect to the kegerator and enjoy. 

That is it! You have brewed your own beer…or I did and now you can’t have any. If you want more updates on what I am brewing, check out https://m.facebook.com/?_rdr#!/Wise-Old-Owls-Brewery-549790091762784/?ref=bookmarks or find me on twitter @rambokuhn. Cheers everyone!


Welcome back again to the Hop, Brew, and Blog. I am glad you are sticking around and learning with me. That is a great thing about the  home brewery community, it is a very helpful group. Everyone loves to listen and talk out how a beer can be brewed. We are going to take a break from the home brewing adventure and try something different. 

Today’s topic might get dry (I will do my best to keep the flow going) but we are going to talk about hops. One of the four ingredients of a pure beer (father-in-law again not my saying) that looks so simple but changes the beer very easily. We will go over the different hops (not all of them…there are sooo many of them) and kinda go through basic differences. We will talk about noble hops as well and what makes a hop noble. We will talk about growing because they can grow everywhere and by just changing the location of where hops are grown can slightly change what you get in flavor of the hops. Finally we will talk about my “go to” hops that I personally love. So channel your inner Demeter and come learn about hops. 

The first documented cultivation of hops was in 736 A.D. in what would become Germany (of course) but the first time it was documented being in beer wasn’t until 1079. Mostly brewed in Germany and France, and Holland at first, it expanded to England and then outside Europe as well. It came to the United States around 1629. It stopped during prohibition (thanks government) and then made a comeback and has taken over a lot of farming. Currently, hops are grown in eleven countries. The top growers are the US and Germany with 44,324 metric tons and 39,000 metric tons respectively. Right now, there are about 100 different kinds of hops. Names include Apollo, Liberty, Vanguard, Eroica, Zeus, Calypso, and so much more. The main difference is the acid level. Hops like Fuggle and Saaz have a lower level of alpha acid and hops like Simcoe and Chinook have a higher level. The difference in the acid level? The higher the level, the higher bitterness. Making a stout? Try fuggle hops. Making a double IPA? Use the simcoe. 

A few years ago, Sam Adams came out with the Noble Hops beer that is said to use only noble hops. Other breweries have similar beers with the same claim “NOBLE HOPS USED HERE”. The question is though, what makes a hop noble?  No they are not knighted and don’t think Ned Stark will be the next hop name for one (though that would be cool). A noble hop is just a marketing term used for hops that are low in bitterness and high in aroma. Most consider Hallertau, Tettnanger, Spalt, and Saaz as your four noble hops (though there is debate on others). And like wine grapes and champagne, they have to be grown in the area they were first made. Spalt has to be made in the Spalter region in Germany, not in someone’s backyard in Chicago. 

Now growing hops is supposedly easy. Since everyone and their mothers are doing it, I would agree. I plan to start growing some here in the Midwest as some already do. I have done my research to show my wife I know what I am doing, so the best way is to have them grow up a trellis that can be brought down to make picking easier. Make sure you harvest at the right time and have a way to dry them out (if you don’t have an oast house in the German countryside, try a dehydrator). See simple…why don’t we all do this?

Now my go-to hops are the citra hops. It is a great hops with a nice flavor for an IPA. I use it in my IPB that I brew with tangerine peel. The next is fuggle hops. It is a great mild hop for a stout. Now let me know what your favorite hop to use is. Comment below and we will do this again next time. On the next blog, we will finish the Adventure in Homebrewing and talk about the kegging process.  Thanks for reading….cheers.

Adventures in Home Brewing: Day Fourteen

Welcome to day fourteen of brewing. In the 13 days that have happened since Brewing: Day One, we have just been waiting for it to ferment.  The beer was definitely working as it makes the alcohol. With each bubble in the bubbler, more alcohol is made. Which leads us to the next step, reracking.

Now this is actually my favorite part of brewing. In this portion you siphon the beer from your carboy into another carboy. By doing this you get your beer and not the yeast and other sediments. Once the liquid is clear of the muck, you add the bubbler back on top and let sit again. Yes, I know this sounds very exciting, but there is a reason this is my favorite step and that is flavor. In the secondary stage, you can add ingredients here to pull out new flavors. When making a stout, you can add oats or coffee beans or throw In hops here to dry hop the beer, with an ale, you can add wood chips to age in and add to the flavor. 

With The Dude, we have three ingredients to add here. We have white chocolate, coffee beans, and toasted coconut. So once I siphoned from one carboy to the next, I got the coconut toasting in the oven. After a few minutes, I pulled out the coconut and let cool quickly. Then I added it to the carboy with the beer. Simple? Very. But by adding those in, it will easily bring all of them to your beer and you don’t really have to do anything strenuous. 

And guess what? That is it. That is the whole blog. There isn’t much to say except for the list of ingredients that you can use here. But that is the fun of it. By adding any combination, you can adjust and change the flavor of the beer anyway you want. This is the most experimental part of brewing to me. Give it a try and see what happens. The next stage is kegging the beer (yes, we keg here because ain’t nobody has time to cap every bottle by hand). Cheers everyone.