By Pete J.
By Pete J.
By Catherine P.
Want to educate yourself about hops? Brew with others? Prepare for the BJCP exam? Meet with other homebrewers in a small setting?
HOPS (Homebrew Outreach & Participation Sisterhood) is organizing a SMaSH beer brewing and bottle-share event open to all DC Homebrewers members. This will be a great opportunity to fine-tune your palette and hops knowledge with other homebrewers. The event will be separate from but in coordination with the DC Homebrewers SMaSH beer meeting in May. Sign up by March 15th to participate with us in the HOPS inaugural event!
About SMaSH Beers
If you’re unfamiliar with SMaSH beers, SMaSH stands for Single Malt and Single Hop, and the beers are often brewed to help brewers better understand the characteristics of specific malt or hops.
We will brew the same recipe only varying the type of hops used with 10 different types of hops to allow for a tasting which highlight each hops’ unique characteristics. The types of hops we are using are commonly tested on the BJCP exam, so this is a great way to get more experience with the hops if the exam is in your future, or if you just want to learn a bit more.
Part of the mission of HOPS is to promote social brewing, so brewers for each hop type are encouraged to brew together. Based on sign-ups we have as of March 15, we will be sure you have the contact information for others with your hop variety so you can organize a group brew day if you wish. Don’t think that’ll work for you? Solo brewing is also OK.
We are asking participants to follow the recipe below to maintain consistency: (all-grain or extract version) using their hop variety:
All-Grain Recipe (5-gallon recipe)
• 8 lbs. Maris Otter
• Mash for 60 minutes at 153F
• 1 oz hops @ 60 min.
• .5 oz hops @ 10 min.
• 1 oz Dry Hop (4-7 days)
• SafAle S-05
Extract Recipe (5-gallon recipe)
• 6 lbs. Maris Otter extract
• 1 oz hops @ 60 min.
• .5 oz hops @ 10 min.
• 1 oz Dry Hop (4-7 days)
• SafAle S-05
The culmination of this experiment will be a bottle-share event for participating brewers in early May, where we will taste the brews of each type and compare and discuss the hops. Everyone who signs up with receive additional details of the bottle-share date and location once it’s been confirmed. Please plan to share 3 to 6 bottles (depending on participation), and you can share what you have left at the DC Homebrewers SMaSH meeting in May or drink them on your own!
You can sign up to participate and choose your hop variety here: http://bit.ly/Z78u8r
Questions?? Please email HOPS organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Mike S.
As with many styles, the origins of Old Ale are a bit murky. That batch of pale ale that’s been sitting in your closet since you bought your first kit three years ago? That might be old ale, but is it technically, Old Ale?
On the technical side you will find Old Ale in Category 19A of the Beer Judge Certification Program’s Style Guidelines. Of the 19 commercial examples provided by the BJCP, 15 are brewed in the United Kingdom—only 4 are American made. These examples range drastically. Consider the American, Avery Old Jubilation, comparatively to the English, Theakston Old Peculier.
The general consensus, at least amongst DCHB members, is that English Old Ales are malt-driven whereas the American versions have a more pronounced hop character. This description is of course an oversimplification. And though the popular English standard, Old Peculier, is too strong for my definition of “session ale” I find it infinitely more sessionable than Old Jubilation, the American example from Avery. Old Jubilation has a slight smell of malt sweetness, but also has a moderately piney nose, not so much like an American IPA but more like standing on an earthy, Douglas-fir tree farm. Old Jubilation has a slight spiciness that is eventually drowned out by a dry, bitter, finish. It’s along the lines of its English cousin, in that the taste is malty—notes of caramel, toffee, and cocoa—but it is well hopped to mask its 8.3% alcohol by volume, and provides a beefier balance of units of gravity to units of bitterness.
As adjectives go, “old” is relative. The bard of beer, Michael Jackson, wrote, “most British styles of ale mature for perhaps a week—or, at the most, two —in the brewery’s cellar. Any beer with Old in its name should spend a little longer.” Little is relative here. A little could be a month, or a year.
Jackson goes on to write, “Old Ale is a style, originally brewed at the end of the winter and laid down like a provision. Old and winter ales are overlapping traditions. Before refrigeration, wild yeasts made brewing impossible in summer. The last of the ‘provision’ or ‘stock’ ales would then be drained when winter returned or blended into the new season’s beers.”
So what do Old Ales taste like? Some are mellow, some are abrasive. Some have been aged for a couple months and some have been aged for a couple years. For some interesting recipes checkout DC Homebrewer Michael Tonsmeire’s Funky Old Ale, or Ryan Alverson’s Kitchen Sink Old Ale.
Every year the DCHomebrewers get together to brew a collaborative Anniversary beer, and at each year’s February High Gravity Meeting, the club opens the collaborative beer from the previous year. This year’s meeting featured the club’s 3rd Anniversary Old Ale.
It was a 5 gallon batch which started at an original gravity of 1.084 and hopped to 41 IBUs, 0.75 oz of Magnum was used to bitter at 60 minutes, 1.25 oz of Fuggles and 1 oz of Kent Goldings were used with 15 minutes left in the boil. 14.25 pounds of Maris Otter malt (4° L), 10 pounds of light Munich malt (5° L), 1 pound of Vienna malt (4° L), 1 pound Crystal malt (40° L), 8 ounces of Crystal malt (60° L), 8 ounces of molasses, 8 ounces of wheat malt (2° L), and 4 oz of Chocolate malt (350°L) comprised the fermentables of the old ale. It was fermented with a slurry of Edinburgh yeast, the house strain, provided by The District ChopHouse and Brewery.
Here are some more approachable extract, partial mash recipes based on Theakston’s Old Peculier. And another, this one all-grain. For further reading on Old Ale, check out Ron Pattison’s or Martyn Cornell’s fascinating posts.
Inspired yet? We hope so, because now’s the perfect time to brew a batch of Old Ale in time for next year’s High Gravity meeting.
In case you missed it, Iron Horse Taproom was kind enough to host February’s meeting last Tuesday, which also happened to be the annual DCHB high gravity meeting. DCHB’s membership showed up in force, and by 7:30 we had packed our reserved area.
The brewers of Atlas Brew Works were in attendance, and gave DCHB a heads up on their imminent craft beer arrival, as well as entertaining with war stories. You can check these guys out at http://atlasbrewworks.com, @atlasbrewworks, or www.facebook.com/AtlasBrewWorks.
Phil Lepanto of Old School Hardware in NW stopped by, too – his shop will be carrying your homebrew equipment and hardware needs. Visit him at 3219 Mt. Pleasant Street, www.facebook.com/oldschoolhardware, or @oldschoolhw.
Not to mention, there were some epic strong beers in attendance, brewed by you. They ranged from the malty and viscous to the hoppy and barrel aged. DCHB also selected a member-brewed recipe as its entry in the AHA Club-Only Barleywine competition. For tips on high gravity brewing, read our posts here and here.
Speaking of competitions, the deadline for the summer-themed DCHB-Sam Adams Homebrew Competition is approaching. Entries are due March 16, and Meridian Pint will host the public tasting on March 30. Details on entry requirements (and sweet prizes) are on our blog.
Stay tuned for March meeting details. Cheers!
Welcome to Part 2 of High Gravity Brewing! Read Part 1 here.
3. Brewing Process
To create wort that is more highly fermentable, mash between 140 and 149 F. This is the ideal temperature range for beta amylase, which is the enzyme responsible for breaking down starch chains into their most fermentable form. On the other hand, to create wort with higher levels of dextrines, mash in the 150-158 F range. Many brewers employ a mash at 150-152F for a more even balance of dextrines and fermentable sugars, and are still able to achieve a high abv.
Boil volume is one factor many homebrewers overlook when brewing high gravity beers. Many simply calculate water volumes for the mash and sparge like any other recipe, resulting in a boil volume of approximately 6.5gal for a 5gal batch. Nothing wrong with that, but . . .
. . . If you’ve got the equipment, consider boiling 7 or 7.5gal instead, and for as long as it takes to boil down to about 5.5gal. This method lets you collect more fermentables and dextrines from the sparge—just be careful to stop collecting wort when the gravity reaches 1.008 or a pH above 5.8. By boiling longer and condensing the wort, you’ll develop more complex aromas and flavors.
Similar to mashing, you can control temperature during fermentation to create the best conditions for yeast in a high gravity beer. Ensure that primary fermentation takes place in the temperature range specified for the yeast strain being used. For many ales, this will be around 62-74 F. Lagers will be in the 48-55 F range.
If the temperature is too cold during primary fermentation, yeast will become sluggish or, worse, dormant. In other words, fermentation may slow down or stop altogether.
If the temperature is too hot, yeast may create excessive esters and higher alcohols, resulting in a solvent-like aroma and flavor. Or, yeast may begin to die off, which can result in an incomplete fermentation and off-flavors and -aromas.
This final factor could either be the easiest or the hardest thing for a brewer to accomplish: Do nothing. Seriously, leave the beer alone once it has been transferred to the secondary fermenter. High gravity beers typically take longer to ferment completely. Moreover, age can do wonders to the flavor and aroma profiles of a high gravity beer.
Following the success of DCHB’s annual High Gravity meeting, you may be inspired to try your hand at brewing a strong ale or lager. You should definitely do this, and what follows is an outline of issues and tips for successful high gravity brewing.
For reference, the BJCP substyles in the 7%-and-up range include:
Doppelbock/Eisbock Baltic Porter Foreign Extra Stout
Russian Imperial Stout Imperial IPA Weizenbock
Dubbel Tripel Golden Strong Ale
Dark Strong Ale Old Ale Barleywine
And of course there’s the Specialty category, which can include any other high gravity or “imperial” beer you might conjure up.
2. Recipe Design
First things first: Ensure your recipe contains enough fermentables for yeast to convert to alcohol. This will mean using several more pounds of malt (or an extra can or two of malt extract) than you use in a typical average-strength beer recipe.
For example, if you typically use 10lbs of malt in an all-grain, average-strength 5gal batch, you might be looking at 15lbs or more for a high gravity batch of the same size.
The bulk of that malt should be composed of base malt(s), such as Pale or Pilsener malt. Base malts contribute the greatest amount of enzymatic activity to convert starches into fermentable sugars during the mash. In contrast, specialty malts and adjuncts, such as Brown malt or rice, contribute far less—or no—enzymatic activity, and require the enzymes from base malts to convert their starches.
Another method of increasing fermentables and gravity involves adding adjunct sugars during the boil. Common adjunct sugars include honey, maple syrup, molasses, and candi sugar. If overdone, they can impair fermentation and leave behind a phenolic character, so be sure to use in moderation.
Once your recipe is optimized for higher gravity, you’ll need to use enough yeast to actually convert those fermentables into alcohol. A good rule of thumb for high gravity brewing is to use 2 vials or packs of yeast for a 5gal batch. A better rule of thumb is to prepare a few days ahead of time and make a large yeast starter, roughly 3 or 4 liters. An inadequate quantity of yeast will result in those cells being overworked and stressed, which in turn will result in flaws in your beer. Not to mention, you risk not achieving your desired final gravity.
Before pitching yeast, but after chilling, aerate the wort extra thoroughly. High gravity wort, by definition, is dense and yeast will require sufficient oxygen to reproduce and grow without being overwhelmed. There are a few different ways to aerate wort, including vigorous stirring or submerging an oxygen stone.
When choosing a yeast strain, ensure the strain has adequate attenuation and alcohol tolerance. Attenuation refers to the relative amount of fermentables the yeast will consume and its ability to reduce the gravity of the beer. Alcohol tolerance refers to the yeast’s ability to continue fermenting in the presence of increasing levels of alcohol. A strain, even if highly attenuative, could begin to die off if it cannot tolerate abv levels above, say, 7 or 8%.
Finally, although hops won’t affect gravity or alcohol content, consider using more hops than your typical average-strength recipe—ales especially. Depending on style and desired characteristics, the added bitterness and hop flavor will help to balance the potential sweetness and intense malt flavors of a high gravity brew.
Continue reading Part 2 of High Gravity Brewing.
The DC Homebrewers are proud to announce the addition of a new club group – the Homebrew Outreach & Participation Sisterhood (HOPS). Through events and expanded programming, HOPS aims to increase the participation of women in the homebrewing community and serve as ambassadors within the club for women members. The group, initially led by Sarah Adams and Cat Portner, will provide education, advocacy, and networking opportunities for current and future DCHB members.
Beginning at the February 2013 DCHB monthly meeting, a HOPS group representative will be available to welcome new female members and share more information about the group’s mission. The group will also serve as a liaison for women members entering beer competitions.
HOPS will organize a variety of other events (events will be open invitation but targeted toward women members) extending beyond the DCHB monthly meetings to include beer/food pairings, discussions and brew days with female professionals, brewing education and a mentoring program matching novice brewers with seasoned experts.
Please join us on this grand new adventure! Together we will brew, share and learn more about one of life’s greatest pleasures and have a blast doing it!
Interested in learning more, organizing, or receiving updates/event invites? Join in the fun now!
Happy Holidays folks! Last week’s meeting at Smoke & Barrel was a huge success and we filled up the entire downstairs with delicious homebrew. A lot of new faces too, which is always great to see.
For our January meeting we’re mixing things up a bit:
First, it is going to be on SATURDAY, January 12th at 1pm at Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights (3400 11th St. NW, http://meridianpint.com/). We hope that having the meeting on a Saturday (with no college football as an excuse) and during the day will make it easier for you to make it out.
Second, the meeting is a joint meeting between us and B.U.R.P (www.burp.org) Homebrew Club. They’re a very well established club, and it will be a great opportunity to meet new homebrewers and learn about the craft.
Third, we will be participating in BURP’s monthly competition in the IPA category (BJCP 14 A-C). They’ll have a link soon for online registration if you want to compete, three bottles are required. More details to follow.
Fourth, BURP is making a big food order for their members, paid for by their dues. If you are not a BURP member, please do not eat their food
Finally, since we are at a bar (Thanks, Meridian Pint!) again this month, please do not bring food or craft beer to the meeting, just bring some homebrew to share!
Looking forward to seeing you all there.
Our next monthly meeting will be hosted by Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan (2471 18th St. NW) at 7pm on Wednesday, December 12, 2012.
We’ll have the downstairs area, “The Bottom of the Barrel,” to spread out, and DCHB’s very own Erich Streckfuss will be behind the bar!
What to Bring: Any homebrew you’d like to share! Anything from a single bottle to a growler – there is no set requirement. If you don’t have any homebrew lying around, don’t let that keep you from checking out the club.
What Not to Bring: Commercial beer and food. They have an amazing selection of craft beer on tap, in cans, and in bottles. Also, Wednesday night is half price sandwich night, so they’ve got you covered there too (http://www.smokeandbarreldc.com/menu).
We’ll kick things off with a BJCP Style lecture on India Pale Ale’s (BJCP 14) at 7:05 sharp, announcements, and then introduce everyone’s brews and enjoy.
Cheers, and happy brewing.
LEARN TO HOMEBREW DAY!!!
Are you still on the fence about brewing beer at home? Have questions but were always afraid to ask? Looking to step things up from extract to all grain brewing?
We’ve got you covered.
This Saturday November 3, 2012 is National “Learn to Homebrew Day” and in honor of it (it should be a national holiday, right?) we will be hosting a homebrewing demonstration at 3 Stars Brewing Co. & Homebrew Store from 10am to 4pm.
We’ll brew an all grain beer and an extract beer (kit provided by 3 Stars!) from start to finish with plenty of step-by-step detail.
3 Stars Brewing Co. / DC Homebrew Shop is located at 6400 Chillum Pl. NW. The event is free and open to everyone. Feel free to bring homebrew to share as well!
For more detail about the AHA and the national event, check out http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/events/learn-to-homebrew-day
We’re looking forward to seeing you there, and while you are at it, consider picking up supplies at the homebrew shop, or getting a tour and a growler to go at the brewery.
LAGUNITAS HOMEBREW COMPETITION!!!
Our club has an exciting opportunity to participate in an exciting homebrewing competition sponsored by Lagunitas Brewing Company.
Lagunitas has invited homebrew clubs in the DC/Maryland/Virginia
region to submit a beer to compete. Each club’s entry must:
• Be made with an American Ale yeast strain
• Not be made using fruit, spices or herbs
• Be comprised of 6, 12-ounce bottles delivered to Lagunitas by mail
no later than Nov. 13 (to be judged on Nov. 16)
The winning brewer will be flown to California later in November to
brew the winning beer with Lagunitas! And the winning beer will be
distributed and sold in our region.
I’d like to invite you to submit a beer to be considered for this
competition. Unfortunately, we didn’t find out about the competition
until the last minute, so you will already have to have a beer
packaged, conditioned and ready to go to be considered. You’ll also
have to have the recipe available to share in case your beer is
selected. All you have to do to enter is:
• Fill out this google spreadsheet with information about your entry
• Bring two, 12-ounce bottles of your beer pre-chilled to Three Stars
Brewing between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3 (during
our Learn How to Homebrew Event) OR drop off two bottles of your beer
sometime before Saturday with Patrick C. (triko77 @ gmail.com) in
• Include your name and the name and style of your entry on a piece of
paper along with the bottles you submit.
If anyone has any questions or is interested in helping with the
judging on Saturday (Nov. 3), you can e-mail Patrick C. at
triko77 @ gm ail.com.
More details are below …
Lagunitas Brewing Company
Special Brewing Competition for D.C./Virginia/Maryland
Each Home Brewer is invited to brew a beer that you think consumers
would enjoy drinking. Submit your entry to your AHA sanctioned Home
Brew Club. Your club will judge all samples submitted and choose one
beer to enter into the final competition from all AHA sanctioned Home
Brew Clubs in these markets .
A final judging panel will be assembled and this judging panel will
choose one home brew sample that they feel would most marketable in
the bars in these markets.
A team of 4 (the winning home brewer, a home brewer whose name is
drawn from ALL entries from all Home Brew Clubs, and 2 Lagunitas
accounts in these markets) will be flown out to the Lagunitas Brewery
in Petaluma, CA to brew the special winning beer selected specifically
for these markets.
The trip will include: flight to CA, transportation to and from the
airport, hotel, meals and beverages, brewery tour and, of course, the
opportunity to brew a beer which will be sold in your home markets,
with Lagunitas Head Brewer Jeremy Marshall.
All winners agree to have their names & photos appear in an issue of
There are no style guidelines EXCEPT….no lagers (due to tank space),
must be made with American yeast, no fruit, herbs or spices added.
Your entry will be considered your winning ticket but will not
necessarily be the beer brewed. That beer will be a collaborative
effort of the Retailer/Home Brewer Team along with Lagunitas’ Head
The final entry from each Home Brew Club must be a six-pack, and
samples must be delivered to a location (to be determined) by 3 days
prior to the final judging date – Nov 16th.
Winners must be able to fly to CA on Nov 25th returning on Nov 27th, 2012.