Batches 84 & 85 -Transatlantic split-batch Irish Red Ale

I just solved a difficult dilemma. On the one side I wanted to brew an Irish red ale within style. That desire came from reading the special edition of the Swedish Homebrewers Associations  magazine Hembryggaren ( The Homebrewer) where the style and a recipe was presented by a gold medal winner of the Swedish home brewing championship. namnlosAnd as always I read up on the style in Palmer & Zainasheff’s Brewing Classic Styles.I really like the simplicity of the recipes and was also curious about Irish ale yeast and whether it adds different character than Cal Ale or English strains do. But, since I’ve been on a quest for the perfect American Amber Ale since the beginning of my brewing, I also saw this as an opportunity to try a new approach, i.e. to take an Irish red ale and Americanize it. The Irish style does not allow for any significant hop character, but I’m a home brewer and I can do whatever I want. So, my solution to the problem of choosing which style to brew is to brew a 5 gallon batch of an Irish red ale, chill one half of it and put it into one carboy and then whirlpool large amounts of American hops in the rest of the batch before I chill and transfer that to a second fermenter. I’m a genie.img_4974

The tentative recipe says: 92 % Extra Pale Maris Otter, 6,5 % Crystal 150, 1,3 % Roasted Barley. Mash at 75 degrees, boil for 90 minutes and add EKG at 60 minutes för 21 IBUs and at 15 minutes for 1,4 IBUs. Chill half and pitch WLP004. Meanwhile, whirlpool the second half with Citra for an additional 27 IBUs. Chill and pitch with US-05 or similar Cal Ale yeast. Ferment both at 19 degrees. Dry hop the Citra batch with more Citra. The numbers are: 2 x 11,5 liters, OG 1,055, Est FG 1,015/1,012. ABV 5,2/5,6 %. IBU 23/40.

Brew session.

Heated the water and crushed the malt. Mashed in at 66,5 degrees (0,5 blow target). I’ve pretty much given up on treating my water with minerals since its just fine for most styles, and I know that the pH is going to be quite acceptable so I don’t even measure that unless I brew something very dark or very light. I understand the implications of pH and I know how to deal with it but the tiny, tiny adjustments I make actually doesn’t make any detectable difference in the end, so… Also, I don’t bother with the thickness of the mash so I just do it the Tasty McDole way and split the total amount of brewing water (35 liters) into two equal halves and mash with one and batch sparge with the other.

I’m using the Blichmann HopBlocker for the first time today, hoping to be able to use my pump and plate chiller again.

Worked like a charm!

The boil resulted in an original gravity of 1,065, far higher than expected, reasonably due to the vigorous boil. I still have to learn the boil off on the BoilerMaker.


So I chilled 9 liters and ran it into the first fermentor, added 1 liter of whater and the yeast slurry which resulted in 10,3 liters @ 1,056. Then I whirpooled the rest with Citra, chilled it and got 8,5 liters (spot on), added 1 liter of water to that plus the rehydrated dry yeast (0,2 liters) and ended up with 9,7 liters @ 1,057. As you can see above, I have taken precautionary measures to avoid a yeast rupture in the fermentation chamber with air locks AND blow off hoses.

Very anxious to taste the results of this split-batch brew.

BTW, Saison is a great beer for the final and boring stages of the brew session.


Batches #82 and #83 – Double Dubbel (again)

Finally, I am on route with the Double Dubbel project. The idea is to explore Belgian styles, which is more or less unchartered territory for me. However, since I doubt that I will need 5 gallons of Belgian Dubbel I will split the batch into two and ferment them with Belgian Ale (WLP550) and London Ale (WLP013). If I’m lucky the latter will be a nice Christmas beer.

Style: Belgian Dubbel, BJCP category 19C.
5 gallons/19 liters. OG 1,070/ (est.) FG 1,015, 67 IBU, 46 EBC, 7,3 % ABV (est.).

5,99 kg (69 %) Extra Pale Maris Otter
0,87 kg (10 %) Caramünch
0,43 kg (5 %) Crystal 150
0,26 kg (3 %) Choclate malt (Carafa I Spec)
0,17 (2,0 %) Special B
0,09 kg (1 %) Melanoiden
0,87 g (10 %) Belgian Candy Syrup

Mash with 16 liters of brewing liqueur (I’m using Stockholm water) at 67 degrees C for 60 minutes.

Sparge with 22 liters of water at 73 degrees to collect 29 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1,060.

Boil for 90 minutes and add:
80 g of Saaz (3,2 %) @ 60 min
0,87 g Belgian Candy Syrup @ 60 min
Protofloc @ 15 min
Yeast nutrient @ 15 min

Chill the wort to 20 degrees. Split it into two fermenters and pitch each yeast. Ferment  at  18 degrees C and let it slowly rise to 21 degrees during the primary.

I will bottle condition the Belgian batch to 3 volumes and keg condition and force carbonate the English batch to 2 volumes.

Brew session/mashing and lautering:


Fermentation act one: What could possibly go wrong?



With so little head space, air locks are clearly not the appropriate way to go. So I did what I should have done at the beginning and mounted blow off tubes on both carboys:

After two weeks I cold crashed both carboys (together with a keg of Anna’s Brown Ale before bottling)  for three days. I then bottled each beer accordingly:

#82 Belgian Dubbel:
Primed with 53 grams of sugar for 3 volumes of CO2 at 5 degrees C. Achieved 8 liters in bottles. Terminal gravity: 1,008 = 7,9 % ABV.

#83 English Double:
Primed with 30 grams of sugar for 2,2 volumes of CO2 at 7 degrees C. Achieved 7,6 liters in bottles. Terminal gravity: 1,006 = 8,2 % ABV.

Batch #81 – Under the radar Pale Ale

For reasons I cannot yet disclose I got a sudden urge to brew an extremely sessional beer. The trading with beer and other beverages that have an ABV over 3.5 % is strictly regulated in this post-socialist country. So there are two categories of beer with lower ABV that can be sold in regular retail stores. Beer of Class I has an ABV of 2.25 or less and beer of Class II has an ABV of more than that but not more than 3.5. In this light, the current US trend with session beers becomes almost ridiculous. Well, no, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, I’ve tried this once before with terrifying result, but I have now found new courage and am a better informed home brewer. This is a small test batch that I make in the kitchen.

Style: I don’t know but in Sweden we call this lättöl which translates to light beer which is something completely different. OG 1025/FG 1008,  2.4 % ABV, 22 IBU, 25 EBC, 6 liters. BUt actually the ABV

0.31 kg Extra pale malt
0.31 kg Munich
0,08 kg Crystal C80L
0.08 kg Caramünch I
0.03 kg Crystal 120L

Mash with 5 liters of water in a bag in pot in the oven at 74 degrees C for 45 minutes. Batch sparge with 6 liters of water at 73 degrees for 10 minutes. Collect 8.75 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1.020. Boil for 60 minutes.

3.06 g Simcoe @ 60 min (18 BU)
2.46 g Cluster @ 15 min (2.5 BU)
2.36 g Cluster @ 1 min (1.5 BU)

Chill and pitch with with Lallemand Windsor yeast. Ferment at 18 degrees C for 2 weeks. Package and carbonate according to your preferences.

This was great fun! I love that I could do it on a whim. A 3 or a 5 gallon batch requires so much preparation and takes an entire day. But this I could do after getting an idea in the afternoon and be done after dinner. Its just a small experiment with low alcohol beer and it doesn’t affect my more serious ongoing projects. I simply let this ferment side-by-side with the previous batch.

My current brewhouse

My first brewhouse was a clone of the 10 liter/2,5 gallon setup that Henok Fentie (of Omnipollo) presented in his book Brygg öl (or Brew beer in English) when I started this journey in 2013:

355124_980Photo by Carl Kleiner

Since then I have upgraded in small increments.

As some of you may know, Humlegården has had a generation 1, 10 gallon Blichmann BoilerMaker on display and for sale for a while in their physical store in Sollentuna. The other day I took a chance and asked if they’d consider cutting the price a bit and finally get it sold. And they did. So my current brewhouse is suddenly a three vessel 10 gallon system:


Well, it essentially was a 10 gallon system before I introduced the BoilerMaker, but the HLT was a plain 5 gallon pot (my BK from the 2,5 gallon system) without thermometer or ball valve which made brewing unnecessary complicated.

Thus, the new 10 gallon boiler maker will serve as a dedicated hot liqour tank (HLT), the 10 gallon cooler is (of course) the mash/lauter tun (MLT), and the 50 liter/13 gallon pot serves as boil kettle (BK). With this setup I can produce beer that ferments in one 16 gallon fermentation bucket or two 6 gallon BetterBottles to fill two 5 gallon Cornelius  kegs.

But I can also, and probably will most of the time, brew 5 gallon batches by using the Blichmann both as HLT and BK. That way I will heat the strike and sparge water separately while I batch sparge (I always do) in the MLT and then use the Blichmann as boil kettle. Perfect.

My boil method today is to use hop cones during the boil, drain them with a Bazooka screen in the BK to be able to chill with a Chugger pump a plate chiller without getting stuck. When using the BoilerMaker as a BK I’m thinking about getting a Blichmann HopBlocker to be able to utilize the nice dip tube.

I think the Blichmann BoilerMaker is more suitable as HLT than BK since it has the thermometer and the level indicator. I don’t really see the use of a thermometer on a boil kettle. However, it would be useful in the MLT, so my next project is to install one.

Batch #80 – Kalle’s Chinook Saison

I’ve gotten my first order. The wife of one of the local craft beer enthusiasts I’ve been sticking bottles to (I’m on a craft beer mission from God and it never hurts to build your brand) wants me to brew a beer for her husband’s 50th birthday. How can you say no to that? But since it is illegal to sell craft beer as a private citizen I will give it to him as a present.

She said that he likes… wait for it…. IPAs! So I gave her some bottles to try together with him, an amber ale, a farmhouse ale and a very fresh IPA, and guess what – he preferred the saison. Actually I think that many of the contemporary IPA drinkers (the new mainstream) would appreciate the saison style. Well.

So I’m rebrewing batch 77 but since there are no more Cascade in all of Sweden (we’ll have to wait for the 2016 harvest that is under way) I will substitute it with Chinook which should work well in an Americanized saison. Brew day is tomorrow so today I’ve made a starter with two vials of WLP566 Belgian Saison II.

Images from brewing Batch #80:

The Blichmann BoilerMaker is nice. However, the thermometer does not work properly. It is possibly the mechanics of the hand that’s stuck or jammed after sitting in the same temperature for a long time. Perhaps. Nevertheless, despite calibrating at various levels it did not display the right temp at all (it boiled at 80 degrees C). And the level gague is only partly useful since it cannot be read during the boil. Because the liquid in it boils. Duh. But it’s still much better than my old pot. I just need to get a HopBlocker so that I can chill the wort in my plate chiller. This time I chilled it with my copper immersion chiller, shich is a bit small for this size, and siphoned it from the kettle to the carboys (Again, I ended up with too much wort so I prepared two vessels).

Here’s the final recipe.

Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale. 5 gallons/19 liters. OG 1,050/ FG 1,004, 29,5 IBU, 8,8 EBC, 6,0 % ABV.

4,20 kg (73,3 %) Extra Pale Malt
0,30 kg (5,2 %) Wheat
0,29 kg (5 %) CaraPils
0,29 kg (5 %) Munich
0,09 kg (1,5%) Caramünch I
0,57 kg (10 %) Table sugar (add to fermenter)

Mash with 15 liters of the brewing water of your choice at 65 degrees C for 60-90 minutes or full conversion. Sparge with 73 degree water (approx. 21 liters)  to collect 30 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1,036 (that’s without the sugar).

Boil for 90 minutes: Add:
Protofloc @ 15 min before flame out
50 g Chinook pellets (12,7 %) @ 12 minutes
30 g Chinook pellets (12,7 %) @ 5 minutes
20 g Chinook pellets (12,7 %) @ 0 minutes

Chill to pitching temperature, transfer to fermenter, add the sugar and pitch the yeast,  WLP566 or similar. Let the temperature rise to 25 degrees during primary fermentation.

After about a week, when you’ve reached final gravity, dry hop with
50 g Chinook pellets
50 g Amarillo pellets (I couldn’t help myself)
for 5 days.

Cold crash if you wish (I did the last time and got a really clear beer which is out of style but rather pretty), keg and carbonate to 2,7 volumes at your preferred serving temperature.

The new version of BeerSmith has a new tab called Session. It has a nice added feature where you can record a string of fermentation readings (temperature and specific gravity) and have them presented in a simple but illustrative graph that allows you not only to track your fermentation progress but to compare it against your chosen fermentation profile. Nifty, Brad!



After complete fermentation, dry hopping and cold crashing (mainly to settle the hops) and with 6 days to go until the party, I racked the beer to a Corny keg and began carbonating it. I keep it at 8 degrees C so I should set the regulator to 1.2 or 1.3 bars for 2,6 to 2.8 volumes of CO2, but because I have a feeling that my system underachieves in that department, and because I cannot afford to have an under-carbonated saison on the following Saturday, I set it to about 1.7.

And on Friday night I let my wife try it to see if its servable (cause I’m so friggin’ nervous that could never make that call) and she approves. And it is a good saison, at least according to my taste. It’s not a perfect style-fit but more of a refreshing American/Belgian pale ale. I believe it is something that will appeal both to industry-lager-drinkers  and to those who think that they suddenly like IPAs but clearly doesn’t know what an IPA is. This is a crowdpleaser.

So on Saturday I load up the keg and the CO2 stuff and me and the wife take the bus to the party.

And even though the rise in temperature creates excessive amounts of foam (next time I will arrive with a much colder beer with some sort of isolation around the keg), it is a total success. 5 gallons is about gone by the time the birthday boy arrives (its a surprise party) because people are lining up for refills, but I manage to save the last pint for him. I should have brewed 2 kegs. And what an enormously rewarding feeling to have a large group of people really enjoy something that you have brewed!

A spent but happy keg waiting to go home:



Batches 82 & 83 – Two Dubbels

A week later, my brewing plan lays in ruins. I think I’ve got the Belgian bug.

Photograph: Chris Cuzme

During my first two years of brewing I have mainly focused on American styles and mainly explored the American craft beer scene. I have brewed many batches of American styles like pale ales, IPAs, double IPAs, ambers, browns, California commons, Kentucky common, American farmhouse ale, pre-prohibition American lager, American stout, classic, American pilsner, and American barley wine. Damn! I have also tried every American beer sold regularly at the Systembolaget (Swedish commie-fascist monopoly for alcohol), bought almost every American special release they have made (about every second week), and even imported beers from several breweries in southern California.

I would say that I have a fairly good understanding of American beer styles and craft brewing by now, and I feel like moving on.

Lately, my interest in American brewing has pointed me towards Belgian styles. This is thanks to a number of American breweries that have made American-Belgian crossover beers, either American, often hoppy versions of Belgian styles like the Belgian IPA style. Or that have made American styles with Belgian twists, like pale ales or IPAs or ambers with Belgian yeast. I have really enjoyed such efforts, especially since I have never liked Belgian beers much. So, quite paradoxically, American brewers have pushed me closer to Belgian styles.

Today I even joined Belgoklubben, or the Belgo Club, a club or a company that composes and distributes a 12 pack of Belgian beers every three months for a fee. According to people I have talked to it is a great and convenient way to build a Belgian section of your beer cellar, but I believe it is also a great way to get aquainted with Belgian styles.

In the midst of this sudden awakening, I feel compelled to alter my brew plan. So, the next brew day will be used to make two beers from one mash, one Belgian dubbel (a recipe from Serious Eats) and one more old ale, or actually a Belgian dubbel with London ale yeast.


Style: A: Belgian Dubbel, BJCP category 19C.
5 gallons/19 liters. OG 1,062/ (est.) FG 1,015, 67 IBU, 46 EBC, 6,2 % ABV (est.).

5,3 kg (69 %) Extra Pale Maris Otter
0,77 kg (10 %) CaraPils
0,76 kg (10 %) Crystal 100
0,61 kg (8 %) Wheat malt
0,19 kg (2,5 %) Choclate malt
0,04 kg (0,5 %) Black malt

Mash with 18,5 liters of brewing liqueur (I’m using London water) at 67 degrees C for 60 minutes.

Sparge with 19 liters of water at 73 degrees to collect 29 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1,055.

Boil for 90 minutes and add:
55 g of Northern Brewer (8,8 %) @ 60 min
27 g of Northern Brewer (8,8 %) @ 20 min
Protofloc @ 15 min
27 g of Northern Brewer (8,8 %) @ 5 min

Chill the wort to 20 degrees and pitch with dry English yeast. I’ll be using the very reliable Nottingham dry yeast today so I have not done a starter. Ferment  at  19 degrees C.

After 9 days, dry hop with
100 g Amarillo
100 g Chinook
for 5 days.

Cold crash, add gelatin, keg and carbonate to 2,5 volumes.

There’s been a delay. I received my first “order”: a keg of beer for a 50th birthday at the end of September. So batch 80 is an American, Chinook single hop, farmhouse ale,  and the doubles will be batches 81 and 82.

More to come.

Batch #79 – Anna’s Brown Ale


Tasty McDole named his famous American brown ale after his wife Janet who helped him with continuous evaluation and feedback. Since I’m gonna brew a tweaked version of it I though it would be proper to rename it but with a name that still pays homage to Tasty. Also, I plan on using my own wife to help me evaluate the recipe. Hence, Anna’s Brown Ale.
The tweeking consists of three things. First, I use dry English yeast intstead of California ale. Second,  I dry hop with Amarillo and Chinook instead of Centennial. Third, instead of 4 % chocolate malt I use 2,5 % plus 0,5 % black malt. This idea comes from BN‘s first episode of Can you brew it where they tried to clone Moose Drool back in 2009.


Style: American Brown Ale, BJCP category 19C.
5 gallons/19 liters. OG 1,062/ (est.) FG 1,015, 67 IBU, 46 EBC, 6,2 % ABV (est.).

5,3 kg (69 %) Extra Pale Maris Otter
0,77 kg (10 %) CaraPils
0,76 kg (10 %) Crystal 100
0,61 kg (8 %) Wheat malt
0,19 kg (2,5 %) Choclate malt
0,04 kg (0,5 %) Black malt

Mash with 18,5 liters of brewing liqueur (I’m using London water) at 67 degrees C for 60 minutes.

Sparge with 19 liters of water at 73 degrees to collect 29 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1,055.

Boil for 90 minutes and add:
55 g of Northern Brewer (8,8 %) @ 60 min
27 g of Northern Brewer (8,8 %) @ 20 min
Protofloc @ 15 min
27 g of Northern Brewer (8,8 %) @ 5 min

Chill the wort to 20 degrees and pitch with dry English yeast. I’ll be using the very reliable Nottingham dry yeast today so I have not done a starter. Ferment  at  19 degrees C.

After 9 days, dry hop with
100 g Amarillo
100 g Chinook
for 5 days.

Cold crash, add gelatin, keg and carbonate to 2,5 volumes.

Here we go.

Before the boil I had a surplus of vort which I saved to brew a smaller beer on the side. I’m thinking it could be something of a hybrid between a mild and a porter so I added dark syrup to the boil and pitched a small amount of the yeast.

Batch 79, 80, 81 and so forth… (updated)

What is the eternal question?

It is NOT the question of “life, the universe and everything” as Douglas Adams argued, and to which the answer was, according to the dedicated computer Deep Thought (below), 42.


The eternal question is:

What to brew next?

I have a bunch of candidate beers and I’ve been trying to structure them into something of a plan for this fall.

First, I want to re-brew Tasty McDole’s Janet’s Brown Ale. This time I’m gonna tweak it a bit by substituting the Crystal 40 for an English Caramel 100, and replacing the Cascade with a Centennial/Amarillo combo. Obviously I need to rename the beer, from Tasty’s (late) wife to my own.

Second, I want to brew a Weizenbock with an American twist. I really like Transatlantic crossovers in the craft beer world, and I’m really curious about Weizenbock. I participated in brewing one last spring but am still waiting to taste it (it will be served at Monks‘ 25 anniversary this fall)

Third, I want to brew a session beer (< 3.5%) for a fall festivity at our kids’ school. Every year the school holds an outdoor money raiser at the end of September with games and stuff, and there’s always a barbeque stand that sells burgers. I thought that a well crafted home brew could be sold at a prize that could raise some money. A pale ale or an Amber ale to not scare away the customers, perhaps?

And forth, I want a nice porter for the fall and winter. The last one I brewed came out rather lame, and I have not really figured out why. This time I’m thinking about brewing something along the lines of Anchor Brewing’s classic porter (first brewed in 1972). I ordered a six pack of that last year and it was friggin’ delicious. There is a clone recipe in the November 2014 issue of Brew Your Own magazine and I’m thinking about bumping it up a bit to get more into the Baltic porter category.

And then, of course, I need to keep the harvest-ale-brewing-tradition alive by repeating the semi-successful event that my family and our neighbors executed last year when we tried to brew a pale ale with wet cones from their unidentified giant hop plant. It turned out that the hops didn’t do anything for the beer, but the event was nice and this year we might just use commercial hops.

Then there’s all that other stuff that needs to get done, like a winter warmer, an American barley wine, a good stout, maybe another Triple Red. And when all that is done, perhaps it is time to start planning for spring and summer. That’s how home brewers survive the Dark Season on the Northern hemisphere.

First up is Anna’s Brown Ale though. On Sunday. Time to finalize the recipe.


Batch 78 -Ridiculously Hoppy IPA

Having bottled my Malabar Farmhouse Ale – a celebration of the 3oth anniversary of the 1986 graduating class of Malabar High School (R.I.P.) in Mansfield, Ohio – and the Summer Mosaic from its keg, the fermentation chamber is suddenly empty. For a while I’ve been deliberating on what to put in there. I was thinking about re-brewing batch 44 which was an attempt at Mike Tasty McDole’s Janet’s Brown Ale. But on the other hand it’s about time to take another shot at a great IPA. For a while now I’ve been meaning to either develop or merge batch 52 which was a rather successful West Coast IPA and batch 60B, a more mainstream American IPA  which was one of three beers of a partigyle attempt.


I decided on the IPA while the strike water was heating up.

Once I had a highly qualified beer judge comment on an American IPA that I made. His main comment was that it was not bitter enough for the style, even though it had a calculated IBU of 85. So this time I’m gonna make a hop bomb. 500 grams of hops in a 5 gallon batch. Ridiculous.


Style: American IPA. 5 gallons/19 liters. OG 1,065/ FG 1,012 (est.), 75 IBU, 14 EBC, ~7,0 % ABV.

5,95 kg (80 %) Extra Pale Maris Otter
0,37 kg (5 %) CaraPils
0,37 kg (5 %) Munich
0,37 kg (5 %) Caravienne 20L
0,37 kg (5 %) Crystal 100

Mash with 18 liters (one half of the brewing water, like Tasty McDole does it) of the brewing water of your choice at 65 degrees C for 60-90 minutes or full conversion. Sparge with 73 degree water (the other half)  to collect 28 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1,056.

Boil for 90 minutes. Add

Protofloc and yeast nutrient at @ 15
50 g Centennial (10,30 %) @ 5
50 g Amarillo (10,50 %) @ 5
50 g Centennial (10,30 %) @ 1
50 g Amarillo (10,50 %) @ 1

Chill to 80 degrees and add:
50 g Centennial (10,30 %) @ 1
50 g Amarillo (10,50 %) @ 1

for a 20 minute whirl pool/hop stand.

Chill the wort to 20 degrees and pitch with WLP002 or similar. Ferment at 20 degrees for 9 days and add

100 g Centennial pellets
100 g Amarillo pellets

for 5 days of dry hopping.

Package and to 2,5 volumes of CO2.


I began Friday (two days ago) by making an all-grain yeast starter (a first since I was out of DME) off of a vial of WLP002 English Ale Yeast. I crushed 200 g of pale malt, mashed it in a bag in 1,4 liters of water (in the oven) and sparged it 1 liter. Then I mixed the two runnings for a 1,2 liter wort of around 1,040-1,050 which I chilled and pourded into my e-flask and then pitched the yeast. 24 hours on the stir plate and 24 hours in the fridge to settle.


On brewday I started with a major mistake. The mash pH was a little below the sweet spot so I tried to raise it with calcium carbonate but added calcium cloride instead. Which lowered the pH instead of raising it. There was no way I was gonna get back to a good level without adding a bunch of minerals which I feared would affect the taste too much so I started all over again. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Then I had trouble with my Monster Mill 3 and had to consult various guides on the Web and lost al of time. I was about to go back to my trusted Corona mill for a while.


After that everything went fairly well. The mash efficiency was not as good as usual, probably due to my problems with the mill. I ended up with 25,8 liters at SG55, but decided to leave it at that.


Ridiculous amounts of hops. Usually I weigh my hop additions in plastic glasses like the one in the front, but this time I had to use pint sized jugs. BTW, my technique of seperating hops from wort after the boil is with a bazooka screen in the boil kettle. Therefore, I use leaf pellets during the boil and pellets for dry hopping.

My experience from the last couple of batches is that I get about 3 liters of extra wort, so this time I decided to ferment in a plastic bucket instead of the Better Bottle. However, the lower exchange during mashing and the ridiculous amounts of hops only yielded 17 liters of beer. Well.IMG_6125





Batch #77 – 30th Anniversary Malabar Farmhouse Ale

A long time ago I spent a year as an exchange student in a small Mid-Western town called Mansfield in the state of Ohio. You’ve probably never heard of it, but you’ve most probably seen in, at least if you’ve watched the highly acclaimed movie Shawshank Redemption. It was far from what I had expected from a year as a high school senior in the United States – preferably in Los Angeles or New York City – because that was about as far as my understanding of America went at that time, as a European teenager in the 80’s. But in hindsight I am extremely grateful that I did not end up in one of the metropolises (although I know that would also have been rewarding) but in a genuine American small town. It was arguably the most formative year of my life.

At the end of this month many of my good friends from that time gather to celebrate our 30th anniversary  as the 1986 graduating class of Malabar High School, paradoxically enough at Mansfield’s only (as far as I know) craft brewery and tap room The Phoenix Brewing Co. on 131 North Diamond Street in downtown Mansfield.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend, but through various web services I hope to attend remotely. Also, I will dedicate my next batch to Malabar’s Class of ’86. True story: today as I was drafting up a saison recipe to brew as soon as my fermentation chamber becomes available, I got the invitation to the reunion. So my first though was to rebrew the farmhouse ale I actually dedicated to American alma mater almost exactly one year ago, the Malabar Farmhouse Ale. That beer was a bit too much so I’ll take it down a few notches to more subtle level.

Tentative recipe:

Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale. 5 gallons/19 liters. OG 1,050/ FG 1,005 (est.), 26 IBU, 7 EBC, 5,9 % ABV.

3,63 kg (70 %) Extra Pale Maris Otter
0,52 kg (10 %) CaraPils
0,26 kg (5 %) Wheat
0,26 kg (5 %) Munich
0,52 kg (5 %) sugar

Mash with 12,5 liters of the brewing water of your choice at 65 degrees C for 60-90 minutes or full conversion. Sparge with 73 degree water (approx. 21 liters)  to collect 28 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1,035 (Note that it would have been 1,043 with the sugar that will be added later).

Boil for 90 minutes, chill to 80 degrees and add:
100 g Cascade leafs (7,8 %)  for a 20 minute whirlpool/hop stand.

Chill the wort to 20 degrees and pitch with WLP566 or similar. Let the temperature rise to 25 degrees during fermentation.

After about a week, dry hop with
100 g Cascade pellets (6,6 %)
for 5 days

Bottle-condition and carbonate to 3 volumes of CO2.

July 16, 2017 Preparing the yeast

Yesterday I received two vials of WLP566 Belgian Saison II yeast from Humlegården. They were packaged on the last of May so the viability was only 66%, which implies 3 packages or a 0,75 liter starter. Don’t know why ordered two vials (probably slipped with the mouse pointer) but since I don’t need to keep one of them I decided to make a starter using both. According to Lord Zainasceff, more yeast is better than less.

This time I used wort from a previous batch that I have saved in the freezer for this purpose. It was an Amber ale but that won’t matter since I’ll let the starter settle and only pitch the yeast and just enough wort to stir it up from the bottom of the e-flask. The wort’s gravity was 1,060 which is a little too high for a starter as I understand it (perhaps not for two vials though) so I added water to bring it down to 1,040. I boiled the wort for 10 minutes, chilled it to room temperature, poured the yeast in the e-flask and poured the wort over it. It will now sit on the stirplate for 18-24 hours before I let it settle in the fridge before brewing.


Here are some photos from the brewday. I really like brewing outdoors, especially on days like this one. I have a better efficiency than I calculate with in BeerSmith so I typically end up with a few liters more wort than I need. Sometimes I dump it pre-boil, or save it in the freezer for future yeast starters, and sometimes I boil it and do an experimentation batch with it (see below). The brew day went fine and according to plan and I hit all the numbers.

At the beginning I didn’t really have a plan for the extra 3 liters. I was thinking about adding blackberries to the secondary but my own blackberries are not ready yet and I don’t know if the ones I froze last year are any good. I also thought about red currants which I also have plenty of, but they are rather tart and I don’t think that works with a saison. But perhaps black currant does? They’re much sweeter and could potentially give a different but nice color to the beer.

There are many and contradictory pieces of information about adding fruit and berries to beer. I decided to add quite alot of berries, more than most recipes suggest, but I didn’t want to raise the final gravity to a point where I would need more yeast to dry it out. So I used an article in Brew Your Own Magazine to calculate the gravity change and ended up picking, cleaning, sanitizing, freezing and splitting 215 grams of black currant and added it to the 3 liters of beer, which, according to my calculations, will raise the final gravity from the current 5 to 8, which is still dry enough. Perhaps the dormant yeast will come around and ferment the sugars in the added berries during the rest of fermentation. Thus, I’m hoping for a dark blue beer with a hint of black currant aroma and taste, and not too sweet.

At the same time I added 100 grams of Cascade pellets to the big vessel for dry hopping. I know you’re not supposed to dry hop a saison with an American hop variety but hey, this is an American farmhouse ale and I’m a homebrewer and I can do whatever I want. So says Lord Zainasheff.

At least the berries gives some color to the beer, as can be seen above. This is less than 24 hours after adding the berries. I have lowered the temperature from 25 to 22 for this phase of the fermentation process.


Tonight, my old friends meet at  The Phoenix Brewing Co. in Mansfield, Ohio. Hope you have some great beers and post some great photos under #86falcons.


August 6, time to package.

I started off by racking the beer to a bottling bucket, but half way through I thought “Why not keg half the batch?” So I halted and raked the second half to a half size Cornelius keg. This way I can compare a bottle conditioned saison with a force carbonated one, realizing that the former is more proper to style. But hey, we’re home brewers and we do whatever we want. I primed with 7,7 grams of sugar per liter to achieve 2,9 volumes of CO2.

Next I engaged my experimental Cassis Saison. Obviously, the black currant had given color to the beer. However, while I was expecting something blue it turned out pinkish red. Extrordinary.

It had dried out nicely and the taste was a bit tart with clear notes of black current. It might need some time in the bottle to smooth the tartness. We’ll see.

Since racking to a bottling bucket entails some loss of volume I bottled straight from the fermenter and added 1/3 of 7,7 grams of sugar straight into the bottles before filling them with a siphon and bottling wand.