Recipe: Hoppiness, a simple IPA

ABV: 7%


12.75 lb American Two-Row Malt

0.75 lb   Munich Malt

hops211.0 lb     Crystal Malt (15 L)

0.25 lb   Crystal Malt (40 L)

1 oz  (28 g)     Horizon Hops, 13% Alpha Acid (60 mins)

1 oz  (28 g)     Centennial Hops, 9% Alpha Acid (10 mins)

1 oz  (28 g)     Simcoe Hops, 12% Alpha Acid (5 mins)

1 oz  (28 g)     Amarillo Hops, 9% Alpha Acid (0 mins)

2.5 packets or 12 grams dry (Wyeast 1056 American Ale, White Labs WLP001, or Safale US-05)



Mash at 149°F (65°C). With the low mash temperature, you may need to lengthen the rest time to 90 minutes to get full conversion.

Collect run off into kettle. Bring the wort to a boil and add the Horizon bittering hops. After 50 minutes, add the 1 oz. Centennial hops. Wait 5 mins and add 1 oz. Simcoe hops. Wait 5 more minutes and add the 1 oz. Amarillo hops. Cool the wort and aerate it a proper amount then pitch your yeast. Ferment at 67F. When finished, carbonate to approximately 2 to 2.5 volumes.

*This recipe is from Chapter 3 of the cookbook, Brewing Classic Styles, by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer.



What is an IPA?

hop devil

India Pale Ales are a form of the ale brewing style and they are some of the strongest brews around, both in taste and alcohol content. Like many ale forms, IPAs were originated out of necessity. When the British were colonizing India, the beer and water they sent with their troops on the long sea voyages kept spoiling. In order to solve this problem, they added extra hops and brewed it to have a higher alcohol content, both having sufficient preservative capabilities.  Today, American craft brewers do more than emulate the style. They continue to push the envelope with strength and bitterness. Curiously, it’s much harder to find a true IPA from England these days than it is to find one in the states.

Many American breweries even make double IPAs, also called imperial IPAs. These take the defining two characteristics IPAs and make them even stronger, meaning they have a really intense hop flavor and are usually above 7.5% ABV. Many craft breweries offer their versions of IPAs including in the Philadelphia area. Yards makes Yards IPA, Philadelphia Brewing Co. makes Newbold IPA, and Victory (located in Downingtown) makes Hop Devil IPA. If you enjoy beer with lots of flavor and don’t mind the bitterness from high hop content, then IPAs won’t let you down.

Recipe: Star Anise Stout

stout in snowThis full-bodied stout is malty with undertones of chocolate and a spiced star anise finish. This strong and warming brew is great for the winter.

5 gallon yeild

ABV = 8.5%

13 lbs. (5.9 kg) Gambrinus pale malt
4.0 lbs. (1.8 kg) Weyermann Pilsner malt
0.75 lbs. (0.34 kg) Briess Extra Special malt (140 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Briess roasted barley (300 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Briess chocolate malt (350 °L)
1.6 lbs. (0.72 kg) Weyermann Carafa® II malt (400 °L)
1.0 oz. (28 g) star anise
16 AAU New Zealand Pacific Gem hops (60 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 15.9% alpha acids)
6.8 AAU German Hallertauer Tradition hops (15 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 6.8% alpha acids)
1.0 oz. (28 g) Belgian Saaz hops (5 mins)
White Labs WLP013 (London Ale) yeast

Step by Step
Strong stout base. Mash for 60 minutes at 158 °F (70 °C).  Boil for 60 minutes.  Ferment at 68 °F (20 °C) for 2 weeks in primary, rack to secondary, and add star anise that has been toasted and broken up.

*Recipe courtesy of Reed Vander Schaaf

Brews for Charity at Bainbridge Street Barrel House


On Tuesday, December 10th, starting at 4:00, Bainbridge Street Barrel House will be hosting “Brews for Charity.” According to Bainbridge’s website:”Four local breweries are coming together two different charities! Yards Brewery, Weyerbacher Brewery, Victory Brewery & ShwneeCraft Brewery will be taking over the taps. We will have 5 beers from each brewery. One hundred percent of sales from one of each brewery’s beers will be donated to Philabundance. We will also have the US Marines here collecting Toys for Tots. Discounts will be given for every toy brought in. This is the time of year where we need to think about the less fortunate and try and help as much as possible. Why not compliment your charitable contributions with delicious craft beers from your local breweries!”‎

Recipe: Holiday Prowler


9.5 lbs. (4.3 kg) Crisp Maris Otter malt
0.75 lb. (0.34 kg) Scotmalt crystal malt (40 °L)
0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) Crisp chocolate malt
1.5 lbs. (0.68 kg) clover honey
½ can Lyle’s Golden Syrup
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
6.1 AAU Goldings hops (60 mins)
(1 oz./28 g of 6.1% alpha acids)
1.0 oz. (28 g) Fuggles hops (5 mins)
Spices: 4 cinnamon sticks, 1 nutmeg
seed, 1 vanilla bean, 7 allspice
berries, 1.5 tsp. whole cloves, 8
coriander seeds, 2 nectarine peels
White Labs WLP002 (English Ale) yeast

Step by Step
Old ale base. Mash grains at 158 °F (70 °C). 90 minute boil. Steep spices (chopped up) in tight mesh bag at knockout for 10 minutes, remove, then chill rapidly. Ferment at 68 °F (20 °C). Prime with muscavado sugar and cask-condition.

*This recipe is courtesy of Gordon Strong and won Best of Show, Ohio State Fair 1997 (90 entries)

It’s the Most Wonderful Time for a Beer

santa w beer

The coldest time of the year is approaching, and what better way to warm up than with a strong, spicy beer? Seriously, nothing beats brewing for the winter months. Homebrews are comforting, they make tasteful gifts, they go over great at family gatherings, and they can even help you drown out that song about the reindeer that you can’t seem to get away from. If you’re planning on brewing for the holidays in particular, now is the time to start.

Winter brews are fun because they allow you to experiment with all kinds of flavors and spices you normally wouldn’t use throughout the year. Now the question is what kind of winter beer to brew? Winter beers are typically ales, specifically stouts, because of their stronger taste and full body, but they don’t have to be. Dark lagers can work for his application, and in fact, Samuel Adam’s Winter Lager is one of the most popular U.S. beers of the season.

Once you decide on a brew style, the next decision to make is how spiced you want your beer, if at all. English winter beers are normally called winter warmers, and tend to be dark, full in body, sweet and stronger than average (5.5% ABV and up). They are rarely spiced. American winter beers, often called Christmas or holiday beers, are almost always spiced. Belgian winter beers are often slightly stronger (by 1–2% ABV) versions of flagship beers. If they are spiced, the spicing is usually more subtle than American versions.

Some people don’t prefer those “holiday” spices when it comes to beer, which is perfectly fine, but that doesn’t mean their winter brews have to be traditional. If you choose to go the spice-less route, take a page out of England’s book and try using things like figs, molasses, toffee, caramel, vanilla, orange, honey, raisins, and any other dried fruits. Generally, these beers strive to create a malty, full-bodied flavor with somewhat of a sweet finish.

If you like American-style spiced winter brews, think gingerbread cookies and mulled cider – cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, clove, etc. These flavors should be no more than complimentary in the final product, and can be combined with most of the other flavors mentioned above (especially the molasses, vanilla, caramel, and orange). Typically these additional flavors, spices or not, are steeped in a teabag or cheese cloth towards the end of the boiling process. How long you want to steep them depends on the strength of the flavors and the specific recipe.

This Weekend: Community Bottling Day at Malt House LTD

bottling - wayne's world

Malt House LTD is a Philadelphia brew supply and accessories shop founded by Scott Wikander, long time beer connoisseur and home brewer. This Sunday, October 27th, Malt House LTD is hosting a community bottling day starting at 4:30 pm. All you have to do is bring your batch of beer and bottles you wish to use (or buy some there). They are asking anyone going to let them know in advance in order to get a rough head count. There will be a $3 charge for each 5 gallon batch (not bad, right!). Malt House LTD is located at 7101 Elm Street in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. Visit their website for more information:

What is a Lager?


Beer happens to be the oldest recorded recipe known to man, and over thousands of years, it has been transformed into so many categories and given so many different labels that they are almost impossible to keep track of. I mean seriously – beer, lager, ale, stout – beer is beer, who cares what it’s called? Hoptometrists do, which is the reason for this first-of-many feature, “What is a Lager?”

Truth is, all beers are essentially either lagers or ales. Everything else is just a specific brewing style of one of these two types of beer. Three main factors distinguish these two forms of beer: yeast, time and temperature with yeast being the most significant difference.

Lager yeasts like lower fermentation temperatures (typically 46 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit). Lager yeasts produce less fruity esters than ale yeasts, but can produce more sulfur compounds during primary fermentation. Many first time lager brewers are astonished by the rotten egg smell coming from their fermentors, sometimes letting it convince them that the batch is infected and causing them to dump it. Don’t do it! Fortunately, these compounds continue to vent during the conditioning (lagering) phase and the chemical precursors of other odious compounds are gradually eaten up by the yeast. A previously rank smelling beer that is properly lagered will be sulfur-free and delicious at bottling time.

The lower fermentation temperature decreases the rate at which the yeast works, and lengthens fermentation times. The primary fermentation phase for ales is often 2 – 5 days, but 1 – 3 weeks is normal for a lager, depending on the malts used, the yeast strain, and the temperature at which conditioning occurs.

Lagers produced worldwide are usually either light or dark, and vary greatly in flavor, color, and composition. However, because lager yeasts ferment more aggressively, they leave behind less residual sweetness. This results in a clean beer with lighter aroma and flavor. They are also typically higher in alcohol content and served at cooler temperatures than their ale counterparts.

Recipe: A Winter Lager

winter lagerIngredients:

6.6 lbs. Briess wheat malt extract syrup

1.5 lbs. crystal malt (60° Lovibond)

1 lb. wheat malt

1.5 lbs. Munich malt (20° Lovibond)

1 teaspoon Irish moss

1 oz. Curacáo orange peel (bitter orange peel)

0.5 oz. ginger root (freshly grated)

0.5 tsp. cinnamon (powdered)

9.5 AAU East Kent Goldings (2 oz. of 4.75% alpha acid)

4.5 AAU Tettnanger (1 oz. of 4.5% alpha acid)

4.7 AAU Hallertau Hersbrucker (1 oz. of 4.7% alpha acid)

3/4 cup corn sugar to prime

German Lager yeast (White Labs WLP830) or Bavarian Lager yeast (Wyeast 2206)

Step by Step:

Steep the grains in 2.5 gallons of water at 150º F for 30 minutes. Strain out the grains, add the wheat malt syrup and return to a boil. When the wort begins boiling, add East Kent Golding hops, Irish moss, and boil for 60 minutes. Add spices for the last 15 minutes of the boil.

Add Tettnanger and Hallertau hops for the last 2 minutes of the boil. Remove from heat and cool wort in ice bath or with wort chiller. Transfer to fermentation vessel (glass carboy). Add enough cold water to the wort to bring the volume up to 5.5 gallons. Pitch yeast and ferment at 50º to 55º F for 3 to 4 weeks. Prime, then bottle or keg. You should lager this beer for about 4 weeks prior to serving.

“Good Eats” Episode – True Brew III: Amber Waves

If your younger years were anything like mine, you probably remember watching this show, “Good Eats” with Alton Brown, every day on the Food Network. If your younger years were relatively normal, then you probably don’t. Either way, each episode focused on the science behind a particular food or drink, while Mr. Brown demonstrated how to make it. Science plus culinary integrity sounds like a great recipe for beer, and this episode just happens to be a great introduction to home brewing basics. Alton covers everything from sanitizing the supplies to bottling the finished product. Enjoy, and remember, “Never trust a well-decorated brew supply shop.”