Monthly Newsletter Articles

You know you loved the articles some of the club members have submitted to our monthly newsletter. Well of course you have, and you have accidentally deleted that one newsletter, or can't find it in that pesky Gmail archive. Well you are in luck. We've compiled all of the articles here, so you can have a place to reference back to them. 


Pizza Crust with Homebrew Ingredients

posted Oct 2, 2013, 10:04 AM by Josh Hartley

by Jeremy Wickham

I bought a couple vials of beer yeast to make that tasty adult beverage I've been wanting to make, but I never got around to it. Now I have old beer yeast sitting in my fridge. What in the world can I do with it? I could step it up and wait ~60 hours for it to show activity. Seriously I have done that and it can take that long. No thank you, not again. That was a lot of DME and did I really get a good pitch of yeast? Who knows. That beer has done well in competitions, but I still don't believe I had a great pitch of yeast. 
Then came my epiphany. When I open a vial of yeast and take a big whiff, I think bread. Always. I made bread before I made beer. Why not pizza crust? The power of Google showed me that other people were doing this. I wasn't alone. This picture is of an old vial a yeast, which is a year past the best by date, local honey, and a good quality purpose flour, I use King Authur religiously. 

To get the yeast active, I poured the entire vial of yeast, a couple tablespoons of flour and about a tablespoon of honey into a clean bowl stirred it into a slurry and covered it with plastic wrap. Every day I would add a little bit of flour so the yeast would have some more sugars to consume and to get them a little more active. 

Being a homebrewer I wanted to keep this beer-centric, I decided that I would make spent grain pizza dough. I do keep some spent grains in the freezer just in case I get that wild hair to make spent grain bread or pizza crust. I used beer yeast, why not use spent grains as well? Right, this is a homebrewer's pizza crust. I used the recipe in the Zymurgy May/June 2011 for spent grain pizza dough. That issue is one of my favorites. I have made the spent grain dog biscuits out of that issue. The recipe tells you about yeast, considering I used beer yeast omit the the directions for yeast. 

The recipe out of Zymurgy is as follows: 
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp. yeast
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup spent grains
In a bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm water and set aside. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, add the flour and drizzle olive oil over. Work oil through flour with your hands or dough hook attachment until it resembles crumbs or small pebbles. Add the spent grains to the flour mixture and combine. 
Gently stir the yeast and water mixture until combined. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl containing the spend grain mixture.  Stir or mix with a dough hook until combined and a ball is formed. You may need to add flour, one tablespoon at a time. You'll know it's ready when the dough comes together and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. 
In a clean bowl, add a bit of oil to the bottom, put the ball of dough in, clip it over and cover. You can let it rise, covered with a dish towel, in a warm place until it has doubled in volume, or you can cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight. I personally prefer to let it do a slow rise overnight because it is convenient and I like the texture of slow fermented dough better.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down. This recipe will make enough dough for two pizza crusts so I always halve it and put the second portion in a sealed freezer bag and toss in the freezer for an easy throw-together meal (breakfast or dinner!). 
Heat the oven to 500 degrees, while you're preparing the pizza. Stretch the dough out on a pizza stone using your fingers until it's relatively round and thin. I like using my fingers because it gives it a nice rustic look and also gives the sauce and toppings little nooks to hang out in. 

Top with whatever you like. The sky's the limit, especially for creative homebrewers. Some of my favorites are prosciutto, egg, goat cheese, and shrimp. Don't pile the toppings on too thickly or the crust will remain a bit soft and soggy in the middle. Keep the toppings even and once your masterpiece is ready, pop it in the over for 8-10 minutes. You'll know it's ready when the crust has gotten crisp and the cheese is melted and bubbly.  


Instead of cooking the pizza in the oven, I also like to grill my pizzas. Get your grill hot and roll out your dough. Place the dough on the grill until it is a golden brown, you will have some places get charred, that just gives it character. Flip it over and put on your toppings, then close the lid for a little while. Closing the lid will help your cheese get to be that melty goodness that you love about pizza. Well that is one thing I love about pizza. But remember, don't over do it  on the toppings or it will be a HUGE mess when you pull the pizza off the grill. 

If you have old yeast in your fridge, re-purpose in your food. It made a very good pizza crust. Your 6+ dollars aren't going to be entirely wasted by not using that pitch of yeast in a beer. 


Deciphering Judges Comments

posted Oct 2, 2013, 10:04 AM by Josh Hartley

by Jeremy Wickham

I've entered quite a few homebrew competitions, and I have really tried to take the feedback as constructive critisim. It is hard to take when someone rips your beer. I've sent soured beers, flawed beers, and some good beers. When studying for the BJCP, I learned that the overall impression is not just your impression, but using your brewing knowledge to suggest what the brewer can do to make that beer a better fit into the style in which it was entered. I'll give you a couple examples of what judges have said on my sheets, and just maybe this will help lure you to enter more competitions. 
Category 4C: Schwarzbier - Two Sides of the Schwarz
2013 National Homebrew Competition
  • Judge 1 - National - A fairly nice beer that suffers from a little diacetyl. Aside form a diacetyl rest at 68 degrees F 75% of the way through fermentation (75% x (OG - FG)) maybe aerate more and/or lager longer. Otherwise nicely done. 
  • Judge 2 - Certified - This is a good beer. That has balance between the base malt and the roast. Also has enough hops to balance the malt. 
2013 War of the Wort
  • Judge 3 - Recognized - Light smooth roast with malty richness made a very nice beer. Hop character was a little low in flavor and ok to be hidden in the aroma. Would like to see a little more hop flavor, although with a lighter roasted schwarz this is not completely a bad thing. Very nice beer! 
  • Judge 4 - Certified - Enjoyable well brewed schwarz. I think the bitterness is a tad too intense. Suggest reducing hop bitterness and backing down a little on the sharpness of the roast. Very dry.
Let me note, these entries were from the same keg. So technically unless something was wrong with the bottle, these should have been the same beer. But you know that finicky home brew. So what can I do to make this beer fit better into style? One judge noted diacetyl. Shall I worry too much about the diacetyl that was noted? Not really since I should make my diacetyl rest good practice. It wasn't a major flaw noted. So what did the judges tell me that will make this a 50 point beer? Not too much. Judges 3 and 4 both noted hop character, but in different aspects. This beer has been lagering since January so of course hop flavors would have dropped out. Judge 4 was the only one to note hop bitterness was harsh. Was it hop bitterness, or did I extract too much roasted bitterness? To conclude, they all four thought it was a well brewed beer, but it wasn't a great beer. What can I do to make it great? Other than the detected diacetyl, which I do not typically dectect in my beers until someone tells me. Mirror? Hello? Then the more hop character. This style has a low to moderate hop character, so I do not believe I will change my hop schedule. My major issue that I get out of these four comments is the diacetyl I need to work on my lagering practice. Patience is not my friend, so that means lagers aren't my friends either, but I do enjoy drinking a well brewed lager. 
Category 13C - Oatmeal Stout - Quaken Oaten Stout
2013 Bluff City Extravaganza
  • Judge 1 - Non-BJCP - a very drinkable beer. I would have liked some more sweetness and or oatmeal character. As the beer warmed I noticed a slightly tinny/metallic notes though were not overwhelming. 
  • Judge 2 - Non-BJCP - Beer suffers from off flavored and over carbonation. Not sensing oatmeal character. Could be a good beer with tweaking. 
2013 War of the Wort
  • Judge 3 - Provisional - Good beer very drinkable. Maybe try changing mash temps to try to get more unfermentable sugars to balance the bitterness. I would like more oatmeal character too. 
  • Judge 4 - Certified - the beer was not too far off style, but balance was problematic. Tweaking of recipe or procedure is recommended. Needs more oatmeal sweetness/slickness. 
These are two different batches, so technically these are different beers, but I want to show you that the judges' comments are not too different. But it is the same recipe with similar ingredients I could not get Maris Otter for the War of the Wort batch, so I did substitute the base malt for what the home brew shop had in stock. I did have a slight issue with the beers sent to the Extravaganza being over-carbed. Was my fermentation not complete? Apparently not. That was a ding there. That beer sat in the carboy for 3 weeks, guess I needed to raise my fermentation temps up towards the end of fermentation. I am baffled by the way  WLP002 flocculates and it appears to finish pretty quickly. 
I have had trouble getting that oatmeal sweetness/slickness that judge 4 mentioned. Body has been a problem for me with this beer. I need more dextrines. Is the way I handle my oats wrong? I use Quaker oats from the grocery store. Should I use quick oats? Should I cook the oats like I would for breakfast before I mash? I do bake the oats to try to bring out more nutty characters. This is a beer I want to to nail down as I really enjoy drinking this style. 
I know this beer is not a 30 point beer in the oatmeal stout category. It faired better in the War of the Wort. My goal is to perfect this recipe. I will. 
So how many beers have you let your friends drink and they tell you it's awesome? It's great? Well this oatmeal stout, no one has told me to my face it is not quite right, as an oatmeal stout that is. Do they know better? Some of them do. I'll still drink this keg, sorry rose bush, you're not getting this beer. I know this, but I wanted some feedback on it outside my circle of friends. 
I hope this kind of put a bug into your ear about entering competitions and how they can help you brew better beer. If you only enter one a year, enter the War of the Wort next year, if you enter two, enter HBAMM's Monster Mash, which will be held in the Oct/Nov timeframe. 

Diacetyl: What the ale is wrong?

posted Oct 2, 2013, 10:01 AM by Josh Hartley

by: Jeremy Wickham

The scientific definition of diacetyl is a vicinal diketone with the molecular formula C4H6O2. In simpleton terms, it is a movie theater butter or butterscotch flavor. Yes, I have heard that movie theaters actually are using diacetyl when they ask you if you want your popcorn buttered. Is this fact? I’m not saying no, but I wouldn’t doubt it. But diacetyl is a common problem in homebrew. I have even had a lot of commercial examples that have loads diacetyl. But this is is not a flaw in some English style beers. 

So how does diacetyl get in our beer? Diacetyl is produced during fermentation.  It starts to show up in the low krauesen phase. Huh? Low krauesen? This is the phase of fermentation when the yeast has finished growing and you’ll start seeing a foam wreath develop in the middle of the surface.  The yeast has not completely adapted to the environment and ready to start metabolizing those sugars you worked so hard to create.  Ok, maybe I need to go in depth on the yeast development cycle one day.  It is quite interesting what all those yeasts do during fermentation.  Back to diacetyl.  It can start showing up in the low krauesen phase and the yeast will start cleaning up by products that were developed during late krausen phase.  

Ok, so now we know when diacetyl can show up in our beer. Now why am I tasting it in my beer?  Well, it can be a lot of things.  

  • if you have a long lag phase (from when you pitch to when you get to the growth phase of fermentation) which can be caused from poor yeast health or insufficient aeration.
  • Some bacteria strains can cause diacetyl production. Here is where I use that sanitation word. Any homebrewer has heard sanitation probably 3.7 million times. Seriously. Sanitation, so that’s 3,700,001 times. 
  • Premature racking out of primary. See earlier? You might not be able to see when your beer in late krauesen. So make sure your beer is done fermenting by checking your final gravity for a couple days straight to make sure your gravity is not dropping.
  • Under pitching. Huh? So you’ve never made a yeast starter? You’ll improve your beer ten fold by making yeast starters. Take the plunge, get a stir plate and you can make sure you’ll have enough yeast to pitch. 
  • Too much oxygen. Wait one minute. I bet you remember me mentioning earlier about insufficient aeration? Well of course I did, there can also be too much. Yeast absorb all the oxygen it can during the growth phase. Well if there is too much oxygen there will still be oxygen lingering when the fermentation is over. Most homebrewers don’t filter their beer. If there is still oxygen left over, the yeast will still be feeding off of it and still trying to go through fermentation phases. Also minimize oxygen exposure after fermentation started, e.g. while racking to the keg or bottling bucket. 
  • Increase your fermentation temperature. That is use a diacetyl rest. A diacetyl rest is a common practice for lager beers. When you warm up the yeast it becomes a bit more active and it will help clean up the yeast. You can also use a diacetyl rest for ales, but most of the time you are fermenting at the correct temperature for the diacetyl to be cleaned up.
  • Use a less flocculant yeast strain. Flocculation is the state of yeast of being clumped together and falling out of solution. If the yeast is still in suspension it will be a little more efficient when cleaning up diacetyl. 

Diacetyl will always be a flaw in lagers, but not in every ale style. It is acceptable in some English and Scottish style beers and also a dry stout. 

I’m sure we have all had this problem show up in our beers. This is one of the major issues that I fight with, especially since I started doing lagers.  

Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew.

How to Brew
Beer Judge Education Course

Getting the Wow Factor from Specialty Malts

posted Nov 5, 2012, 1:45 PM by Josh Hartley   [ updated Nov 5, 2012, 1:45 PM ]

by: Nathan Powell

It isn't hard to make good beer, but what is it that makes a beer great?  Let’s assume you practice proper technique in your brewing concerning yeast pitching rate, fermentation temperature, sanitation, etc.  Aside from that what is it that will really make your beer go from good to great?  What is it that makes one brown ale rise above and stand out from another?  You can research and examine beer recipes and usually find a general base ingredient list that fits the particular style of beer that you are wanting to brew.  Finding the right specialty malt will add that extra “wow” factor to your beer to bring it from mediocre to outstanding!
Specialty malts were very limited when I first started brewing.  You pretty much had caramel malts, dextrin malt, adjuncts, biscuit malt, roasted barley and chocolate malt.  A quick search on an internet homebrew store will show you just how many different specialty malts are available today.  Most people rely on other’s recipes when deciding what to brew; and most of those recipes are based on batches brewed five to ten years ago.  There really aren't even many brewing books that take advantage of what the market has available for us today.  Many online home brew stores have a huge variety of specialty malts to choose from, most of which you may have never heard of or ever seen in any recipe.  Do not be afraid to try these out!  They will often give that extra bit of character to your beer that will propel it into greatness!
Here are a few suggestions for some uses of some specialty malts that I have found work out great and can help your beer stand out:
  • Brown Malt – try this in an American or English brown ale or a brown porter.  It will give a light chocolate, less roasty, and smooth flavor to these beers that you just can’t get from using only chocolate malt.
  • Amber Malt/ Kiln Amber Malt -  I love this in a Northern English Brown and it is amazing in an American amber.  This malt will give a nutty toasted flavor that will really stand out.
  • Kiln Coffee Malt – I was able to experience this in a porter and I liked it better than beers made with actual coffee.  Try it in a Robust Porter or Oatmeal Stout/”Breakfast” Stout.
  • Honey Malt -  This is similar to a crystal/caramel malt but has a honey-like aroma to it.  Adding honey itself to a beer will ferment out and not leave much honey character.  Try this in a Honey Brown or an American Wheat.
  • Pale Chocolate Malt – This malt will give you that chocolate flavor you look for in many darker beers without so much roasted character to it.
  • Victory Malt – This is one of my favorites and is probably used in fifty percent or more of the beers I make.  It will add depth and some complexity without sticking out like regular biscuit malt.  It provides a toasty, bread flavor that will blend well with many other malts.
These are but a small example and some of my favorite specialty malts to use.  Try using half a pound of a new specialty malt in your next recipe and see how it turns out.  Chances are you’ll end up with a beer that has that little something extra that will make you want to brew it again and again.
Here’s a recipe for my favorite English Brown Ale that includes a few of these specialty malts:
8lb 2-Row/Pale Malt (or 6lb Pale Liquid Malt Extract)
.75lb Brown Malt
.50lb Crystal 40
.50lb Victory Malt
.25lb Pale Chocolate Malt
1.25oz East Kent Goldings hops @60 min (~24 IBU)
.50oz East Kent Goldings hops @5min (~3 IBU)
1 pack Windsor Dry yeast or Wyeast 1968 or WLP002
*All-grain mash at 156 degrees for 60min.

Emerald Coast Beer Fest

posted Oct 2, 2012, 11:16 AM by Josh Hartley

by: Ron Unz

The 2012 Emerald Coast Beer Festival (ECBF) was another successful beer and homebrew event for the Golden Triangle Brewers. Richard Bryant, Nathan Power, Doug Shelton, Jerry Pokorney, Tram Pokorney, Tram's brother-in-law and Ron Unz made the journey to Pensacola, FL on September 7th to represent the club. The festival was located at the Seville Quarter in Pensacola. Fifteen homebrew clubs from Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida served beer along side breweries such as Bell's Brewery, Lazy Magnolia, Shipyard, Terrapin and several more. Raise Your Pints (RYP) even served beer at this years festival.

For the brewers of the festival, the event started off with a free lunch at the Pensacola Bay Brewery. This was an opportune time to stretch out from the drive and to prepare for a fun filled evening of beer serving and consuming. Pensacola Bay Brewery brought in pit masters for some amazing BBQ. Beer and flights were available for purchase from the brewery.

After lunch the club signed in at the hotel (Pensacola Beach Days Inn) and setup the club's tent at the festival. The club began serving beer around 5:15 to other homebrewers. At 6:00 the gates were open to the general public. Beers served by the GTR Brewers include: mild, rye pale ale, stout, kolsh, and an IPA. The club's beers were so well received that all five of the beers were gone before the end of the festival. Leftover beer from all of the homebrew clubs and some breweries were brought hotel for the beach party on Saturday.


The beach party started off with a free Gumbo breakfast for the brewers.  After breakfast most of the homebrew clubs and breweries setup their tables and serving equipment. Craig Hendry from RYP counted 98 kegs at the beach party. This doesn't include the breweries that brought canned and bottled beer. The rest of the day was a laid back, hangout, and drink beer kind of day. The only planned events for the rest of the day were the second annual homebrew competition award ceremony and the beer olympics.

For the second year in a row, the GTR Brewers won gold at the ECBF homebrew competition. The category for this years competition was kolsh. This years beer was brewed by Ron Unz. The GTR Brewers are the only homebrew club to have won gold at ECBF, so the pressure is on for third gold next year.

Nathan, Doug, Jerry, Tram's brother-in-law and another MS native made up the GTR Brewers beer olympics team. The GTR team tried their best, but finished in the middle of the pack. However, it looks like they had a blast participating. Everyone else had a fun time watching them.

It is already on the calendar for the GTR Brewers to attend the ECBF on Sept 5 and 6th of 2013. Make a note on your calendar if you think you'd like to come next year. The more people that come, the more fun there will be!


Estimating FG and ABV/ABW

posted Oct 2, 2012, 11:14 AM by Josh Hartley   [ updated Oct 2, 2012, 11:15 AM ]

by: Ron Unz

In last month's newsletter I discussed how to estimate and measure the gravity of your wort before fermentation. In this newsletter, I will be discussing how to estimate your final gravity (FG), calculate the alcohol by volume (ABV), and alcohol by weight (ABW).

Estimating your FG when formulating recipes is pretty straight forward. Start with your OG value and get the number of gravity points from that value. Say you have a 1.048 wort. You can use the last two numbers and assume you have 48 gravity points. I assume to have 75% attenuation on all of my beers. You could choose anywhere between 70% - 80%. Wort composition and yeast type will effect this value, so I assume 75% for simplicity. So take the 48 gravity points and multiply it times 0.75 to get 36 gravity points. Take the original 48 gravity points and subtract the 36 gravity points. You will have 12 points of left over after fermentation is completed or an estimated FG of 1.012. You can use the equation below if you just want to plug in numbers and don't feel like doing gravity point conversions.

Below is the same example as above but using the equation above.

Now that we have an OG and FG, we can estimate the ABV. The two equations below can be used to calculate ABV. It is important to note that both equations will give similar results, but the second one is more accurate.

Now that you have the ABV, you can multiply this value by 1.25 to get an estimate of the ABW.

The equations given can also be used to calculate the real alcohol content of your beer. Replace the OG and FG values used to construct your recipe with measured values before and after fermentation.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me at ronald dot unz at gmail dot com


Calculating Original Gravity

posted Oct 2, 2012, 11:13 AM by Josh Hartley   [ updated Oct 2, 2012, 12:03 PM ]

by: Ron Unz

When formulating your own recipes, it's important to know how much sugar your ingredients will be imparting on your beer. Grain has a maximum amount of specific gravity. When you purchase grain, the specific gravity will usually be provided (or can be found on the website where you purchased the grain) and will range from 1.038 - 1.025 depending on the type of grain and maltster. To calculate the number of gravity points, take the specific gravity, multiply by 1000 and subtract 1000. Pale malt usually has a specific gravity of 1.036. So, pale malt has 1036-1000 = 36 gravity points. An easier method for identifying the total number of gravity points is by just using the last two digits of the potential gravity.

The amount of gravity points is based on a pound of grain. To get the total amount of gravity points for a recipe, multiply the number of gravity points times the amount of grain in pounds.  For example, consider the grain bill below.

Grain        Amount (lbs)
2-row          10.00
Crystal 20    0.5
Crystal 40    0.25

The 2-row has a potential of 1.036, so a single pound of 2-row contains 36 gravity points. There is a total of 10 lbs, so 2-row will contribute a total of 360 point to the beer. Crystal 20 and 40 have a specific gravity of 1.034. Crystal 20 will contribute 17 gravity points and crystal 40 will contribute 8.5 gravity points. The total number of points for the grain bill is just the sum of all the gravity points. The example grain bill will have 385.5 gravity points.  For a list of common base and specialty malts and their specific gravities, click here (

The total number of points calculated in the previous section assumes you were able to extract all 100% of the sugars out of the grain. Extracting 100% of the sugars out of the grain is impossible. However, all-grain homebrew systems can extract up to 90% of the sugar out of grain. This percentage is called the mash efficiency. The mash efficiency is different for every brewer and equipment setup. It's recommend to aim for anywhere between 70-80%. For the example grain bill above, lets assume the mash efficiency is 75%. So we take the total number of gravity points and multiply it by 0.75. So the total number of gravity points for this grain bill is 289.9 gravity points. The only way to know the mash efficiency for a particular setup is by brewing on the setup, calculating the mash efficiency, and becoming familiar with your setup. Experience will allow you to pin-down your mash efficiency. A mash efficiency of 75% is a good starting place.

Now that you know the total number of  gravity points, you can calculate the OG of your beer. To calculate the OG, you need to determine volume of wort you will have at the end of the boil. Divide the total number of gravity points by the number of gallons of wort. For the example above, lets assume this is a 6 gallon batch, so the wort will have 48.2 gravity points per gallon. Take this number, add 1000 and divide by 1000, this value is your OG. The OG for the grain bill above in 6 gallons of wort is 1.048. To calculate the OG you could just tack on the first two digits of the number of gravity points per gallon (48.2) to the end of 1.0 to get 1.048.

Extract brewers can follow a similar routine, but you will have to treat the extract and steeping grains separately. Dry extract usually has a specific gravity of 1.045 per pound of extract. Liquid extract has a specific gravity of 1.035. Use 100% efficiency when using extracts. When considering the contributions from from your steeping grains, it's safe to stick with a 75% efficiency. Assume in the recipe above we replaced the 2-row with 6 lbs of dry malt extract. At 100% efficiency, the dry malt extract will add 270 gravity points.  The specialty grains will contribute another 19.1 gravity points to give a total of 289.1 gravity points. At 6 gallons, the wort will have an OG of 1.048.

If you have any questions or need help following this topic, please shoot me an e-mail at ronald dot unz at gmail dot com and I will be more than happy to help. Stay tuned for my next technical topic on calculating mash efficiencies and what to do if you miss your gravities.


Style Profile: Weizen

posted Oct 2, 2012, 11:11 AM by Josh Hartley

by: Richard Bryant

The first wheat beers I brewed turned out way too bitter and with a pronounced banana with very little in the way of clove and other spice character generally associated with Bavarian Style Weizen. They tasted like banana bubble gum with hop bitterness. I gave up brewing this style since I really didn’t like drinking it anyway. I complained that they all tasted “funky” like something was spoiled.

My weizen was harsh. My dunkleweizen was dark and on banana overload. I gave up for a time.

As my palate became more used to the wide variety of flavors and aromas offered by craft beer, I began to have a new appreciation for a well brewed weizen. Often beer drinkers will find versions claiming to be this style labeled as Hefeweizen , weizen, or weissbier. The terms are generally interchangeable. Wiessbier (white beer) is common in Bavaria, and weizenbier (wheat beer) is typical of the rest of Germany. I am still not certain about Hefeweizen, but I suspect it to be an Americanism. In any case, good examples will share some characteristics.

The aroma of a weizen will have moderate to strong phenols, usually perceived as clove, and fruity esters, usually banana. These characteristics are reasonably balanced. In other words, the beer will not smell like a ship hold returning from India on a spice run, but the aroma will be prominent. There may be a very slight noble hop aroma and a bit of wheat. DMS and diacetyl are flaws. Citrus, vanilla, or low bubble gum may also be present.

Weizen is pale straw to very dark gold with a very thick mousy long–lasting white head. Most examples are somewhat hazy from the high protein content. There are filtered versions which are clear.

There should be a low to moderately strong flavor of clove and banana.  Light vanilla and bubble gum may be there as well. There should be a light bready or grainy flavor of wheat and a slight sweetness from pilsner malt. Weizens often have a tart citrus character from yeast and high carbonation and a relatively dry finish. Again, diacetyl and DMS are not acceptable here.

A medium-light to medium body is proper. Suspended yeast may add to body. The beer should seem fluffy and somewhat creamy. Weizen should always be effervescent.
Overall this is a “pale, spicy, fruity, refreshing” beer. If you are like I used to be and consider yourself a Hefe hater, I encourage you to experiment more brewing them and tasting a wide range of commercial examples.

As I became more interested in brewing this style, I began reading about it. I learned about the German decoction mash and how this was supposed to lend richness to the beer. Brewers told me it made no difference, so I dismissed it. However, it kept coming up in my reading. Jamil tells us that the key is fermenting at 62 degrees F, but even using this temperature, mine were not quite what I was looking for. Authors were saying the lower mash temperatures at the beginning and end of a triple decoction were essential to unlock the precursors to that nice clove character. Since I was not at all interested in spending three hours stirring and remixing a boiling mash, I decided to improvise. Instead of a traditional triple decoction, I used a triple infusion. I used beer smith’s infusion tool to calculate volumes of boiling water to use at each step of the mash. Using the recipe that follows, this works by starting the mash low at 120 F, adding water after 50 minutes to raise the temperature to 140 F, then waiting another 20 minutes and adding water to raise to 150 F. It made for a pretty long brew day, but it also made a large difference, especially in the clove character in the final product.

Building a Dual Stage Tempature Controller for 1/3 of the Price!

posted Oct 2, 2012, 11:10 AM by Josh Hartley

By: Nathan Powell

After wanting to brew a lager and with summer heat approaching, I decided I needed a temperature controller for my beer fridge to ferment in.  I'm always trying to find a deal and searched and searched for the best bang for my buck.  I definitely wanted digital and noticed the an unnamed popular homebrew website was selling a digital dual heat/cool temp controller for $89.99 + ship.  Well, I don't want to spend nearly $100.  After doing a little research, I decided to build a clone of that exact temp controller.  I won't go into a ton of detail as the pictures explain most everything themselves.
Here's the breakdown for parts/costs:
  1. STC 1000 temp controller (ebay) $23.99 shipped  *comes from China, got to me in 8 days
  2. 15amp square black power receptacle $2.41 (Lowes)
  3. Cheap white 16/2 6' power/extension cord $1.67 (Lowes)  *the cheapest black ones were like $8
  4. Project Box 6x4x2 $5.29 (Radio Shack)
Total costs for me after taxes were $34.02
(I had my own tools, and wire nuts, etc already)
I've included a wiring diagram to make it as easy as possible to set this thing up.  The temp controller comes with a temperature probe and instructions.  I cut holes for the display and the receptacle; I chose the front for the display and the top of the lid for the plug/receptacle (a Dremel tool would have made this part much easier!)   Make sure you remove the orange tabs from the display before measuring your cut.  I simply took off the wiring cover from the back of the display and used as a template for my hole.  I then drilled two holes in the back to run the power cord and temperature probe wires through. As you can see, I used some tape to mark where I needed to cut.  
After you get the holes cut, it's as simple as wiring everything together.  Pay attention to this diagram for your wiring.  I hacked up a cheap old extension cord to use as my internal wiring, so they aren't colored coded wires.  I just marked my hot wires with a sharpie.  Also be sure to break the little tab on the hot side (brass colored) of the power receptacle to separate the two.  You don't want your heat and cool plug to energize at the same time.  The side with the silver screws is for your neutral wires.

After it's all wired up, just put your display in (held in place with the little orange tabs), and screw the top on.  This controller only reads in Celsius, but for its easy enough to convert to *F.  I went ahead an marked my heat and cool plugs and added a stylish sticker from my favorite brewery.  When all is said and done, I can build three of these for the price it would have cost me to buy one.  If you have any questions about the build, just shoot me an email at powell dot n at and I'll be glad to help.

Estimating Hop Bitterness

posted Oct 2, 2012, 11:09 AM by Josh Hartley

By: Ron Unz

When composing your own recipes, it’s often important to know the amount of bitterness the hops you plan on using will impart on your brew. If you want build your own spreadsheets or do the calculations yourself, it’s important to have an idea on how to calculate the amount of bitterness in your beer. The standard unit for bitterness is called the international bitterness unit (IBU). The kind of hops and how long you boil them will determine the amount of bitterness in the final product. The following equation (Glenn Tensith’s equation) can be used to calculate the amount of bitterness in IBUs.

U is the amount of hop utilization, A is the percent of alpha acids in the hops, W is the amount of hops in ounces, and V is the final volume of the wort.

The hop utilization is a function of initial wort gravity and time of your hop additions. The hop utilization is described by the following equation:

G is the gravity of the wort (in specific gravity) and t is the amount of time (in minutes) the hops are boiled. It’s important to note that using these equations can only be used for estimating the amount of bitterness in your beer. Utilization values can often looked up in tables if you didn’t want to use this big ugly equation. If you would like to know more about how these equations were derived, I highly recommend that you read through Glenn Tensith’s website ( His website also contains utilization tables and methods to tweak the utilization equation to fit your brewery. 

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