Forks and Corks Porter

2016-07-30 07.34.00Going back to my Busty Porter recipe I brewed at the first of this year and my other robust porter recipes, the Busty Porter was just stuff I had sitting around at home because it was not my normal porter recipe. Well, this time I made sure I had everything. This is also going to be one of the quickest turn-around on a beer I’ve ever done. I brewed this beer exactly 2 weeks before the event. Racked to the keg after being in the fermenter for 11 days, thew it in the kegerator, and used the Blichman QuickCarb the next day to carb this puppy up. I pushed this beer through Strange Brew Coffeehouse House Blend beans to have a coffee porter at the event. It turned out pretty good for such a quick turnaround beer. Would I normally do this? No, not really, but I’ve had a lot going on lately at the house (ahem, bathroom reno). This is why I went back to the cooler mash tun instead of my direct fired mash tun. I have everything stored away right now. The direct fired isn’t very portable right now, which this is something I need to change.

2016-07-30 07.36.03But why did I brew 8 gallons? Well, before I started my boil, I pulled off some wort. A friend wanted to make pastrami and wanted to braise it in beer. I suggested braising it in sweet unhopped wort. I suggested this when braising the meat you wouldn’t make the wort more bitter while letting it break down the fats. I thought this was a really cool idea. The final product was really good and interesting. I think beer wort has some potential to do some really creative things in the kitchen.


Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
8 gal 60 min 28.1 IBUs 37.0 SRM 1.063 1.014 6.6 %
Actuals 1.063 1.01 7.0 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American Porter 20 A 1.05 - 1.07 1.012 - 1.018 25 - 50 22 - 40 2.3 - 2.9 4.8 - 6.5 %


Name Amount %
Pale Malt, Maris Otter 13 lbs 67.1
Munich Malt 2 lbs 10.32
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L 1.25 lbs 6.45
Black (Patent) Malt 10 oz 3.23
Cara-Pils/Dextrine 10 oz 3.23
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L 10 oz 3.23
Chocolate Malt 10 oz 3.23
Pale Chocolate 10 oz 3.23


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Goldings, East Kent 2 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 5
Willamette 1 oz 15 min Boil Pellet 4.8
Goldings, East Kent 0.5 oz 0 min Boil Pellet 5
Willamette 0.5 oz 0 min Boil Pellet 4.8


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Safale American (US-05) DCL/Fermentis 77% 59°F - 75°F


Step Temperature Time
Mash In 152°F 60 min

2 Sours, 1 Batch (Sort of)

Right when I left Michael Tonsmiere’s talk on Hoppy Sour Beers at HomebrewCon I knew a hoppy sour was going to be on my to brew list in the near future. Well, here goes nothing. I based my recipe off of his that he shared with us at his talk. I brewed 11 gallons of wort and split the batches, 6 gallons in one carboy, 5 in another. The 6 gallons will become the Hoppy Sour Beer and the 5 gallons will be a Gose (by request of the wife).

Carboys sitting in my hot storeroom
Carboys sitting in my hot storeroom

85% 2 Row
15% Flaked Wheat

Mashed at 152

Boiled for 60 minutes, cooled to approximately 105 degrees, racked to each carboy.

Both carboys were soured for approximately 24 hours. My pH meter was a cheap one and it read 3.5 or so. Hey it tasted tart enough for my taste, I continued on. I’ll need to purchase a meter that I can rely on. This one is not very reliable at all.

Hoppy Sour (6 gallon carboy)

Soured with Omega Lacto Blend
I racked the 6 gallon carboy back into kettle, brought to 180, whirlpooled hops for 15 minutes with the following hops.

  • 1 oz Citra
  • 1 oz Simcoe
  • 1 oz Mosaic
Omega Lacto Blend, yes I saved this cake, will sour with it again.

WLP644 Sacc Brux Trois for “primary fermentation.”

Dry hopped for 7 days with the same amount of hops as above.

Before I dry hopped the beer, I tasted them and the beer was just a touch bitter with a quenching tartness. The hop flavor was good, but not as quite as quenching as the sample I tasted at HomebrewCon. After I dry hopped the beers I got an overwhelming bitterness and the sourness clashed together. Very interesting that I got some bitterness from the dry hopping. I believe I am going to try to blend some of the Gose into this beer to see if it will round out that bitterness. I’m pretty upset with that, but hey you learn from these mistakes. I love the hop flavor and aroma though. Next time I will bring the wort up to 180 and start the whirlpool, once the beer is well below 180 from the whirlpooling I’ll add my hops so I don’t extract as much bitterness from the hops. I will also only dry hop with a half an ounce of the hops this time. I believe 3 ounces for this was a bit much. I’m not sure what I was thinking.

I carbonated this beer with my new Blichmann QuickCarb. I’m going to write a review on it soon. I served this beer at a local food event. I believe calling this a Hoppy Sour turned people off and it they really weren’t interested in it. That’s ok thought because it is not
my best.

Gose (5 gallon carboy)

Soured with 2 Mango Good Belly Plus Shots

Racked this beer back to a kettle and brought it up to 180, I then added 15 grams of kosher salt and 10 grams of ground coriander. Before anyone gets onto me about not using whole, I know, I know. None of my grocery stores in town have whole coriander (ooof, I forgot to check the Asian Market, I will check there). That is the reason I backed off the coriander some because I knew the ground would be overwhelming. When grinding whole coriander in a mortar and pestle, it is meant to go into a beer.

I used US05 for “primary fermentation.”

This beer is in my kegerator with 12 PSI attached to it and I’m waiting patiently for this one to carb. I didn’t need this one for an even like I had the hoppy sour beer slated for.

Experimental New England IPA

I’ve been itching to release this post for some time now. As I am writing and editing this post I am working on gathering some statistics to put in here so you will have some info to chew on. This brew was probably my most documented brew day I have ever done and I must say it is pretty nice to look back and read what all I did for it. I took lots of photos of the entire process. The reason I did this experiment is for the Experimental Brewing Podcast, it made me brew a beer I’ve been wanting to brew for some time, but really just didn’t know where to start. Where I sorta failed at this experiment is that I actually used a Conan Yeast strain, rather than Wyeast 1318 London Ale III that the recipe suggested. I hope it doesn’t throw them off with their data.

2016-06-02 21.37.38

2016-06-04 18.21.53-1










Brew Day: June 4, 2016

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
11 gal 60 min 38.0 IBUs 4.6 SRM 1.055 1.013 5.5 %
Actuals 1.053 1.01 5.6 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American IPA 21 A 1.056 - 1.07 1.008 - 1.014 40 - 70 6 - 14 2.4 - 2.9 5.5 - 7.5 %


Name Amount %
Pale Malt (2 Row) US 19 lbs 82.61
Munich 10L (Briess) 2 lbs 8.7
Oats, Flaked 2 lbs 8.7


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Warrior 0.5 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 15.9
Centennial 1 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 10
Citra 1 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 14.1
Amarillo 1 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 9.2
Centennial 1 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 10
Citra 1 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 14.1
Amarillo 4 oz 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 9.2
Centennial 4 oz 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 10
Citra 4 oz 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 14.1


Name Amount Time Use Type
Calcium Chloride 17.25 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 17.25 g 60 min Mash Water Agent


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
American Ale (1056) Wyeast Labs 75% 60°F - 72°F
DIPA Ale (OYL-052) Omega 76% 65°F - 72°F


Step Temperature Time
Mash In 152°F 60 min


Dry Hopped on 6/25/2016
Wort is chilled in the the carboy ready for pitch
6/6/2016 – 7 AM – Still no sign of activity from the Omega Yeast
6/5/2016 Evening after pitching. Wyeast 1056 took off first.
6/6/2016 – 6 PM – Omega Yeast has taken off!
6/7/2016 – 7AM – Both beers happily fermenting away
6/7/2016 – 7 PM – This is smelling super good

The lapse of time in between these two pictures was Homebrew Con. Ok guys, it was my first one to attend, I apologize for not documenting them daily while I was off drinking a copious amount of beer.

6/12/2016 – Activity is slowing down quite a bit
6/17/2016 - Looks like it's done with the super active fermentation now
6/17/2016 – Looks like it’s done with the super active fermentation now


Dry hopped each primary fermenter with:
56 g. Amarillo (7.2% AA)
56 g. Centennial (10.0% AA)
56 g. Citra (12.5% AA)

7/3/2016 – These samples are from the carboy. Can you tell which one is which?

Keg conditioned each keg with 3.6 ounces of table sugar and 3/4 cups of water. Simmered for 5 minutes.
Wyeast 1056 FG – 1.010
Omega OLY-52 FG – 1.012

The kegs went into the kegerator to chill

7/21/2016 – First Triangle Test
Omega DIPA on the left, Wyeast on the Right

A little stats here for ya. Out of 25 total testers 20 of them picked the correct sample. I must know some people with really good palettes. Of the people who commented, it seemed that the Wyeast 1056 sample was the favorite among the two samples. Personally I like the Omega DIPA because it has a softer mouthfeel and doesn’t come across as sharp as the 1056. Me personally I think I get a slight touch of diacetyl in the 1056 sample. No one else mentioned this, but I would have written that down on a BJCP score sheet. There was a BJCP judge that tasted the samples and he didn’t mention the diacetyl either, so maybe I’m really sensitive to it.

This was a really fun experiment. I plan on doing more of these for sure. I appreciate the Experimental Brewing Podcast for pushing me over the edge and doing something scientific like this. Lets me geek out even more on beer.

2016 Boardtown Brew-Off What the Judges Said

I’ve posted just about all my recipes that I entered into my local homebrew competition this year, Boardtown Brew-Off. I want to share the judges notes with some of my tasting notes along side with it. This is standard practice of mine. I take in account what the judges said and sit back and try to evaluate my beer with a judge perspective.

Let’s Stout It Out (2015)

20C: Imperial Stout
1st Place: American Porter and Stout
Final Assigned Score: 41

Judge 1 BJCP Certified

Score 43

Very rich and enjoyable aromatics and flavors. Would prefer the malt to be more forward than the esters, but very nice regardless. I had no problem finishing it!

Judge 2 BJCP Certified

Score 39

Overall very good technically. Would like to see a little more roast (choc/coffee) in the malt flavors. Can’t see any major techincal flaws, just slight tweaking of malt bill to balance some of the dark fruit flavors. Very good beer.

This is my go to brew. I have always scored well with this recipe. Needless to say, it didn’t let me down this time. 

Gorilla Morning

23A: Berliner Weisse
Final Assigned Score: 34.5

Judge 1 Non-BJCP

Score 35

Very well made beer. Very balanced sourness. Clean aroma and taste. Great crisp mouthfeel

Judge 2 BJCP Certified

Score 34

I could kill several of these at the beach. The fruity / sourness combination comes off as orange juice. Might actually score well as a fruit sour. I think the orange juice quality if a bit overbearing. Still a nice beer.

I dry hopped this beer with 2 ounces of Meridian hops. I really liked the character of it. But I believe I want more hop flavor than aroma. I have plans to do a hoppy sour beer in the very near future. 

“Bourbon Barrel” Let’s Stout It Out

33B: Speciality Wood-Aged Beer

1st Place: Specialty Beer

Final Assigned Score: 40.6

Judge 1 BJCP Certified

Score 42

Overall pretty good. The bourbon is much more prominent than the oak. I could use slighty more oak. This beer is a little cloying, but that might be resolved by higher pitching rates or more oxygen. I enjoyed this beer. Add a touch of oak.

Judge 2 BJCP Certified

Score 40

Very good RIS with appropriate bourbon and oak additions, no major off flavors, except the phenolic, which may be attributed to wood, carbonation is low, tasty!

Judge 3 Non-BJCP: Score: 40 I feel this is a well make Russian imp. stout. a little more warmth on it. But easy to drink

Really hate to toot my own horn, but this beer here drank pretty good for a RIS. It was a touch sweet, but when I first packaged this beer the oak was in your face. It mellowed over time and the bourbon started to take over. Well, let’s just say I’m going to actually barrel age this recipe next time. 

Busty Porter

20A: American Porter

Final Assigned Score: 31

Judge 1 BJCP Certified

Score 30

I could drink a good bit of this very “sessionable.” Think fermentation profile could be a bit cleaner – maybe try a different yeast. Could also benifit from a bit more body by increasing mash temp ~2 degrees F and some more malt complexity and roast.

Judge 2 BJCP Certified

Score 32

Overall this is a very drinkable beer. A little more fruit than I’d like to see that can complicate the roasted malt flavors. Although that could be from hops choice, try a low ferm temp with earthy hops to accentuate the malts. Which the malt flavors were great!

Not my best porter by all means. My porter in 2015 scored 2nd Best in Show, but it was an easy drinker and I enjoyed it. Didn’t think it would score very well. But low 30s, think it was good. 

Wit Gone Indie

21B: Specialty IPA (White IPA)

1st Place: India Pale Ale

Final Assigned Score 42.5

Judge 1 BJCP Certified

Score 42/50

Well Done. I think the witbier characteristics take an edge over the IPA characteristics.

Judge 2 Non-BJCP

Score 43/50

Good beer. Slighty lacking hoppiness, but otherwise great to style

Ahh the beer that is going to be a staple in the kegerator. I am going to play with some hop combinations, but the Mosaic, Simcoe, Citra combination is something fierce! 

DeRego’s Rye Bread Beer

31A: Alternative Grain Beer

Final Assigned Score: 27.5

Judge 1 BJCP Certified

Score 29

Overall beer with a very “alternative” grain. The rye characteristic is good, but there is a strange sticky mouthfeel. There is also a tartness in the finish hints at possible infection, but its very low. I would also like to see more hop flavor and aroma. Good job.

Judge 2 BJCP Certified

Score 26

A good beer, no glaring off flavors, but really needs balance in flavor. Too bitter and dry without enough malt for support. Very slight sour aroma and flavor – may be infected or may be hops, too light to determine. Definitely picked up the rye spiciness.

Now I had no idea how this beer would score. It’s ok. Not my best beer, but it was definitely a fun project. I’m not sure why I haven’t posted about this beer. Took lots of notes and pictures, but just never got around to it. I think I will soon. Pretty much what I figured, mid 20s. I’m not complaining. 

Black Wit

30A: Spice, Herb, Vegetable Beer

Final Assigned Score: 22.5

Judge 1 Non-BJCP

Score 24

Nice for spiced ale, tastes clean, nice head not sure if lactose and cinnamon is from chamomile

Judge 2 BJCP Certified

Score 21

Unsure where the all-spice, almost cinnamon flavors are coming from. Difficulty to find the wit or chamomile in this beer. Fermentation seemed clean, lacked that bright carb you’d get from a wit. Could be phenolics causing the spice, but tastes artificial or on purpose.

I don’t have anymore of this beer left to drink along with their comments. This is one of those beers that I saw the recipe for and said, hey look I want to brew this. I had no clue how to describe this beer to the judges. I attribute the low score to my poor description that was given to the judges and my overall really giving a damn about it was very low. I just entered this beer to help out the club. 

Engrish Brown Ale

13B: English Brown Ale

Final Assigned Score: 34.5

Judge 1 BJCP Certified

Score 33

Light sweet malty drinkable brown ale with a toasty note. The cidery flavors detract. Watch fermentation temps

Judge 2 Non-BJCP

Score 36

A little light on maltiness but still a nice beer. Nice finish with dryness.

Something happened to this beer, I may have caught a slight infection cause it has seem to have dried out more since I have packaged it. I agree with the judges on this one. 

Wit Gone Indie

2016-05-03 18.12.12Michael Tonsmeire wrote the book on American Sour Beers. He also has a pretty slamming blog (The Mad Fermentationist). Y’all should give it a follow. Last summer he posted his Indië Wit recipe, I thought it sounded amazing. I’m not a huge IPA brewer, but I have made my share of them. Anyways I wanted a spring time beer and this is exactly what I wanted. I am very pleased on how this turned out.

Tasting Notes

Aroma- Sweet oranges (almost orange juice like), tropical fruit and citrus hop aromas. The witbier component is a bit tough to pick up in the background, but it’s there. The spices and hops are sharing the monkey bars on the playground, but the hops are the alpha of the two.

Appearance- Very cloudy, gold in color, white fluffy head that’s retaining

Flavor- very large orange, tropical and citrus hop flavors, pepper, coriander, bready malt on the verge of showing some tartness, your sour heads would even think this is tart at all. It is more of a Witbier with a large hop character. The hop stand didn’t add very much bitterness. Which leads to a very drinkable beer.

It is very interesting how different both batches are. they are both very similar, but the kegged beer and the bottled beer are different. Personally I believe the kegged version has much more hop flavor than the bottled version. I might need to do a side by side comparison soon and up date this post.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
11.5 gal 60 min 72.4 IBUs 3.5 SRM 1.048 1.012 4.6 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Specialty IPA 21 B 1.05 - 1.085 1.008 - 1.018 40 - 100 5 - 40 2.2 - 2.9 3 - 10 %


Name Amount %
Pale Malt (2 Row) US 11 lbs 53.01
White Wheat Malt 5 lbs 24.1
Wheat, Flaked 4 lbs 19.28
Acidulated (Weyermann) 12 oz 3.61


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Warrior 26 g 60 min Boil Pellet 15.6
Citra 56.7 g 20 min Aroma Pellet 14.1
Mosaic (HBC 369) 56.7 g 20 min Aroma Pellet 11.5
Simcoe 56.7 g 290 min Aroma Pellet 11.6
Citra 56.7 g 9 days Dry Hop Pellet 14.1
Mosaic (HBC 369) 56.7 g 9 days Dry Hop Pellet 11.5
Simcoe 56.7 g 9 days Dry Hop Pellet 11.6


Name Amount Time Use Type
Coriander Seed 12.00 g 5 min Boil Spice
Blood Orange Peel 1.00 oz 5 min Boil Spice


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
French Saison (3711) Wyeast Labs 80% 65°F - 77°F


Step Temperature Time
Mash In 158°F 45 min


Heated 7 gallons of water
Mashed at 158 degrees for 60 minutes
Raised mash temp to 170
Recirculated at mash out temp for approximately 20 minutes

Added gypsum at 60 minutes

At flame out added orange peel, coriander, and all whirlpool/hop stand hops. Whirlpooled for 20 minutes started wort chiller.

One carboy filled to 5.5 gallons
- Two yeast packs (dated 11/29/2015 & 2/8/2016)

One carboy filled to 4.5 gallons
- One yeast pack (dated 2/8/2016)

Started fermentation around 66 degrees, plugged in heat lamp and set controller to 70 degrees.

3/17/2016 – Dry Hopped both carboys
Carboy 1
28 g. Citra (14.1% AA)
28 g. Mosaic (11.5% AA)
28 g. Simcoe (11.6% AA)

Carboy 2
28 g. Citra (14.1% AA)
28 g. Mosaic (11.5% AA)
28 g. Simcoe (11.6% AA)

Bottled one carboy (Gold Medal winner)
Kegged other

Engrish Brown Ale

2016-03-17 20.31.20I haven’t brewed a brown ale in a very long time. The wife asks politely multiple times for me to brew one, sometimes she wants a vanilla brown ale, and sometimes she just wants a regular brown ale. I haven’t brewed an English Brown out of Brewing Classic Styles yet. Here was my chance.

English brown ales are fantastic beers to enjoy. I am more a malty guy than a hop guy. Never do I discriminate against my beers, but I tend to lean towards malt complexities than the hoppy beers. This one is a fantastic an easy drinking beer. The clarity of this beer is pretty mind blowing.

This isn’t one of those crazy and wild beers, but it was an easy going brew day, which I tend to appreciate more and more since I have built my new system.


Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
12 gal 60 min 20.6 IBUs 8.7 SRM 1.051 1.012 5.1 %
Actuals 1.05 1.01 5.2 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Northern English Brown Ale 11 C 1.04 - 1.052 1.008 - 1.013 20 - 30 12 - 22 2.2 - 2.7 4.2 - 5.4 %


Name Amount %
Pale Malt (2 Row) UK 10 lbs 42.55
Pale Malt (2 Row) US 10 lbs 42.55
Special Roast 1.5 lbs 6.38
Aromatic Malt (Briess) 8 oz 2.13
Biscuit Malt 8 oz 2.13
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L 8 oz 2.13
Pale Malt (2 Row) UK 8 oz 2.13


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
East Kent Goldings (EKG) 2.4 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 5
East Kent Goldings (EKG) 1 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 5


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
London Ale Yeast (1028) Wyeast Labs 75% 60°F - 72°F
London ESB Ale (1968) Wyeast Labs 69% 64°F - 72°F


Step Temperature Time
Mash In 152°F 60 min


Starkville Water Profile - Water machine in Wal-Mart
Recirculated Mashed at 152 degrees for 60 minutes.
Batched sparged at 170 degrees.

Brewed on 1/30/2016

Pitched Wyeast 1028 into one carboy and 1968 into the other carboy.

Busty Porter

2016-01-01 13.57.02I’ve built myself a new brewing system. It has been nothing but trial and error with it. The gas portion of the system is giving me a lot of its and I’m starting to get a twitch I believe. But all that aside, I am still making beer. Now that I’ve upgraded I’m making a lot more beer these days. Since I can brew double batches I’ve been pitching different yeasts into each carboy. It’s been very interesting to see how each one has come out.

What did I want to brew first on my new direct fired and recirculating mash getup? Something dark and something drinkable. I’m going to brew me a robust porter. I love a good porter. Here is to hoping the first brew on my new system quaffable.

Yes, I have slacked on getting my blogs up on the site. I’m going to work on a lot of them here in the next few days to get them out and caught up. Yes, this brew date was on New Years Day. But I’m still drinking this beer. I’ll have tasting notes up soon.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
12 gal 60 min 44.1 IBUs 36.0 SRM 1.061 1.013 6.3 %
Actuals 1.058 1.01 6.3 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Robust Porter 12 B 1.048 - 1.065 1.012 - 1.016 25 - 50 22 - 35 1.8 - 2.5 4.8 - 6.5 %


Name Amount %
Pale Malt (2 Row) US 21 lbs 73.68
Munich Malt 3 lbs 10.53
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L 2 lbs 7.02
Chocolate Malt 1.5 lbs 5.26
Black (Patent) Malt 1 lbs 3.51


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
East Kent Goldings (EKG) 3.5 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 4.5
East Kent Goldings (EKG) 1.5 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 4.5
Willamette 1.5 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 5.1


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
California Ale (WLP001) White Labs 77% 68°F - 73°F
Edinburgh Ale (WLP028) White Labs 73% 65°F - 70°F


Step Temperature Time
Mash In 152°F 60 min


Starkville Water Profile - Water machine in Wal-Mart
Recirculated Mashed at 152 degrees for 60 minutes.
Batched sparged at 170 degrees.

Brewed on 1/1/2016

Pithced WLP001 into one carboy
Pitched WLP028 into the other.

Diacetyl: What the ale is wrong?

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 most of the time be a flaw in lagers, but not in every ale style. It is acceptable in a Czech Pale Lager, 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

What I Learned: 2013 National Homebrew Competition

What did I get out of from this year’s National  Homebrew Competition? One that I cannot complain about my scores at all. Two, it is pretty awesome that all of my beers went to their respective Mini-BOS. Three, what can I do to make my beer stand out against the competition in a Mini-BOS? The beers I sent to this year’s NHC were just five beers I had around the house that were worth submitting to this year’s competition.


Three of them are my go to beers the other two beers were experiments per se, and they scored the best!

Chocolate Hazelnut Porter (BJCP Category 21A) – this beer has won m
e quite a few awards. It advanced to the second round of 2011 NHC with the same recipe, and it’s normally a holiday time brew. It’s usually on tap at my house up until May. I’ve almost blown that keg this year.

Judges Overall Impression –

Judge 1 – Certified: Great example of your chosen style and description! Score: 41

Judge 2 – Certified: Well balanced cocoa & hazelnut – Roasted grain & other porter characteristics are subdued & might benefit from being brought forward a bit. Score: 38

Hoppin’ Oaked Saison Squared (BJCP Category 22C) – woah! This scored a 41? I entered it as a Saison IPA aged on medium french oak chips. I brewed this beer for an intra-club competition and I entered this solely to get feedback from people outside of my homebrew club. I’ll enter this into other competitions just to see how it will do, and as the judges noted, I needed to be better on my description which the next competition I entered it into, I was a bit more descriptive.

Judges Overall Impression –

Judge 1 – Certified: An excellent beer. The flavors are well matched and compliment each other. You need to do a better description in the future and don’t make the judges guess what the base style is. Score: 43

Judge 2 – Provisional: An interesting beer which as much not a saison as its not an IPA but its nice the wheat and oak makes for a great texture. While Belgian yeast and hops provide a nice bubble gum spiciness, very unique, slightly fusel, but not solventy. For the competition I judged it as an IPA with Saison aspects. Score: 40

Let’s Stout It Out (2012) (BJCP Category 13F), the 2011 version of this turned out really good, but the only problem was that I only brewed a 3 gallon batch and it was really good. So in 2012 I tweaked the recipe a bit based on the success I had with my Regal Porter. I used the base malt I had on hand and also changed to Scottish yeast, which my little secret in 2012 on the malty beers I brewed this year.

Judges Overall Impression –

Judge 1 – Rank Pending: A good representation of the style. Fermentation was well done in order to not be hotter than it is. The alcohol aroma is a bit much. Score: 37

Judge 2 – Master: Has al the right flavor elements, but higher alcohols are a bit too fruity / floral and harsh / hot. Be sure to pitch HUGE for high-grav beer like this, oxygenate well, keep temps under control. Consider different yeast strain. Score: 34

Two Sides of the Schwarz (BJCP Category 4C) – ok I have pretty much had a Schwarzbier on tap at my house since I got a fermentation chamber. I received really good feedback from 2012 NHC so I tweaked the recipe a bit. 2012’s was a bit too roasty for the style. So I backed off of it a bit, and I get a lower score in 2013. Live and learn and keep brewing it.

Judges Overall Impression –

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. Score: 35

Judge 2 – Certified: This is a good beer. That has balance between the base male and the roast. Also has enough hops to balance the malt. Score: 34

Regal Porter (BJCP Category 23A) – this was another experiment at the Wickham Brewery and it turned out phenomenal! This was brewed as an Imperial Porter. Sweet, chewy, luscious, and it is awesome with some ice cream! I only hope I can recreate it. The experiment for this beer was to do a parti-gyle brew day. Which if you haven’t done one, it is a long brew day, but you get TWO beers out of it, which is spectacular. The beer had almost six months of age on it and it is just getting better with time. I’m really proud to get a 43 on this beer.

Judges Overall Impression –

Judge 1 – National: Very well made beer with no major technical flaws. Imperialzing this beer amped up the good parts of the base style without adding any unpleasant harshness. It may benefit slight with more carb & perhaps cutting back on the highly kilned malts a touch. Score: 42

Judge 2 – Certified: An excellent Impl porter. Roastiness, malt sweetness, hops & alcohol are all bumped up but not harsh or conflicting. More carbonation is needed to improve aroma, appearance, and to maybe thin (dry) out the flavor a little. Score: 44

I learned quite a bit from most of these sheets. The one glaring thing is when submitting specialty beers, be very descriptive of your beer. You do not want to keep the judge guessing. After judging at my local competition this weekend I totally I understand. I was judging fruit beers and there were a couple beers that did not state the base style so I had to make assumptions. After we were done judging the competition I found the second bottle of the entry and the name says what the style was. So there you have it and of course I was wrong on one of the base styles. But it still scored well, I at least got the category number right.

I submitted the same five beers to my homebrew club’s local competition, and I will compare those sheets with these judge comments. Should be interesting. Hopefully this will kick start me to write on my blog more.


Deciphering Judge Comments

I think I’m going to do a series on the blog about this. I just entered two more beers that have been in competitions this year. This will be something good to write about in an upcoming blog post.

I’ve entered quite a few homebrew competitions, and I have really tried to take the feedback as constructive criticism. It is hard to take when someone rips your beer. I’ve sent soured beers, flawed beers, and some good beers. I have been fortunate to get some good feedback, but I have never really been told your beer sucks, which is a good thing. 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. What will make this beer a 50 point beer. 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 detect 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 appeared 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. I will need to ramp up my saccrification rest to 156, I normally mash at 154. This will also help get those long chained sugars I need for more dextrinous wort. 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 fared better in the War of the Wort. My goal is to perfect this recipe. I will.

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 time frame.