Sunday, March 30, 2014

Extract Recipe Calculator

Why would anyone make yet another recipe calculator?  There are two major short comings of existing recipe formulation tools that stand out.
  1. Attenuation is normally fixed at 75% and is independent of the ingredients.
  2. Salts are generally not accounted for, especially the salt contribution of the extract.
Experiments have shown that the type of sugar in the wort directly effects the attenuation of the beer.  Simple sugars, such as corn or cane sugar, are 100% fermentable.  Maltodextrin does not ferment, and Briess DME is designed to be 75% fermentable.

Before Dry Malt Extract is dry it is wort, the same as it would be when making beer.  To make wort malted barley and water is mashed and then sparged.  The difference is that after the wort is made, instead of being fermented, the water is removed.  All of the salt that are present in the water are left behind in the dry malt extract.  The folks at Briess were kind enough to tell me exactly what to expect with their products.

This tool takes these factors into consideration.  

Extract Recipe Calculator.xlsx

Using the Calculator

Orange cells are meant to be changed.
Bold Orange text is calculated.

Volumes for your recipe are entered in column B.  Ingredients can be selected from the drop downs in column D.  Feel free to add more ingredients on the "LookUp" tab, but keep in mind that for things too work correctly they must remain in alphabetical order.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kindle Edition of Brewing Engineering

Coinciding with the release of the 2nd Edition of of Brewing Engineering,  I have also released a Kindle Edition of Brewing Engineering.  For a limited time, the Kindle Edition will be available for only $2.99 on  Get your copy today!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Simple Lager

The weather is just right for brewing a lager.  The water bath is stable at 49°F, a good temperature for SafLager S-23.  The beer should finish with a nice malty flavor.  At temperatures above 55°F S-23 can get a little fruity.
Time has been a precious commodity these days so this batch is going to be an extract brew.  If you do it right, the quality of beer made with extract is on par with an all-grain beer.  The cost is about the same as well.  There are a number of hidden costs with all grain brewing such as trub loss and the cost of fuel that are often left out when comparing overall cost.  When making a batch of all grain beer it costs me about $5.00 in fuel alone.  If there is interest I'll write about that more in another post.

This beer will be a very simple base beer using my quick brew method. (See my book for details)

6lbs of Briess Pilsen DME.
1 oz of Challenger hops boiled in a quart of water for an hour.
S-23 SafLager

Using the simple pitching method outlined in my book I expect the cell count to be about 100 billion cells.  This can be verified with my Amscope microscope.

I expect this to a nice clean drinkable beer at about 5% ABV.  To add variety I have been developing "beer boosters" added when the beer is served that push the base beer into different styles. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

2nd Edition

The second edition of Brewing Engineering is now available!  Every page has been professionally edited for 2014.  If you missed this book the first time around this is the time to get it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mini Kegging Systems

For a home brewer it doesn't take long before dreams of a kegging system start dancing through your head.  If you're anything like me that was when you were cleaning four cases of bottles for your first batch of homebrew beer.  I've been fortunate enough to try several different systems, and they all have there advantages.  If you entertain a large number of guests on a regular occasion then a soda keg or even a sanke keg system with a CO2 tank might be a viable option.  At the other extreme, if you enjoy giving away your beer to family and friends then bottling may be the best way to package your brew. 

The system that seems to fit perfectly between these two is the Tap a Draft.  A similar system is the Party Star.

The PTFE bottles are easy to use.  Washing them is simple with soap and warm water.  After cleaning the kegs I store mine with a couple of cups of Star San inside to keep them free from bacteria. Each bottle is 6 liters (1.5 gallons) which fits very nicely in more refrigerators.  For storage and filling the kegs fit neatly in the box used for typical 12 packs of bottles.  The tap also fits on a 3 liter soda bottle which works great for smaller experimental beers.

Kegging does cost more than bottling, which is just about free, but not much more.  The up front cost of the equipment is about $100.  Each keg will take a couple of CO2 cartridges to dispense the beer costing about a dollar each.  (You may see it advertise that only one cartridge is required if the beer is naturally carbonated, but I've always needed two cartridges regardless)  A batch of beer fills 3 bottles which will take about 6 cartridges to dispense.  At 50 bottles in a batch that's $0.12 a bottle in CO2 compared to $0.03 per bottle cap.  The tap is mostly plastic, but does seem to be built pretty well.  If care is taken when using it I could see it lasting for 100 batches of beer.  Using this estimate the equipment cost per draft is much less than a penny.  (Just taking a wild guess here based of observation of the mechanics.  I've only done about half a dozen batches with this system.) 

Packaging time is significantly reduced when kegging beer instead of bottling.  The first time using the system took about 45 minutes from cleaning the first keg to mopping the last drop of spilled beer off the floor.  Don't worry, it's much easier the second time around.  I would be surprised if your second time takes more than half an hour.  Compared to bottling, any form of kegging is lightning quick and easy, especially if you consider all the time you would have spent cleaning bottles. 

Overall a kegging system can be a great value.  Personally, I can't believe I didn't start using one sooner.  Another advantage to a keg is that Serving sizes aren't limited to increments of  12 ounces.  You can pour as much, or as little, as you would like.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Brewing Engineering

You might be wondering why there hasn't been a blog post in a while.  I've been focusing my efforts of the production of a "Brewing Engineering."  A book to capture the last year of research that I have conducted.  Over 200 pages and nearly 50 tables designed to simplify the brewing process.

It's available now!

Brewing Engineering is the culmination of extensive work done to understand how each part of the brewing process works. Understanding is developed into application and presented in a way that brewers can utilize, regardless of background. If you are a beer geek like me, I’m sure you’ll find reading about brewing science quite entertaining. If you are more of an artist, don’t worry: each exploration wraps up into practical application of the concept. If you have visited my blog, much of this information will look familiar. The most valuable posts have been included in this book. Each one carefully edited, and in some cases expanded on and even re-written. In addition, some of the information in this book you will not be able to find on my blog, or anywhere else for that matter!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Easy Priming Sugar

Boiling and cooling priming sugar can be a pain.  There are advantages to this, but how much does it benefit the beer?

A further analysis of why these steps are preformed might help derive a better processes.  I think it is possible to retain all of the benefits of boiling and cooling priming sugar without adding any time to the processes.

The benefits are two fold.  Boiling the water and priming sugar allows the sugar to dissolve more easily and kills any microorganisms that may have been introduced.  Cooling it keeps the yeast from being killed by the boiling liquid, and also keeps off flavors from being added into the beer that would leached out by pouring boiling water into the plastic bucket. HDPE used for food grade plastic buckets is rated for temperatures up to 190°F.(1)  Exceeding that temperature could leach unwanted flavors out of the plastic and into the beer.

Killing Bacteria

Most bacteria can be killed by flash pasteurizing. (2)(3)  Tap water contains very little bacteria to begin with because there is no nutrients.  For bacteria to grow both nutrients and water are required.  Dry sugar also contains very little bacteria because there is no water.  Therefore the amount of bacteria that may need to be killed is small.  Heating to 165°F or above for a minute or longer is sufficient for most brewers. 

Not Killing Yeast

Yeast will be killed nearly instantaneously if shocked with 165°F degree water, so the common thought is that the priming sugar needs to be cooled before adding it to the bottling bucket.  While it is true that the yeast will be killed at 165°F, it's also true that the temperature drops very quickly as cold beer is added to the bucket.  Yeast, like most bacteria, will thrive at 110°F.  (However, It will produce off flavors if fermented for a period of time at that temperature which is why most ales are fermented at 65°F an bellow.)  The beer will likely be about 65°F or cooler at the time of bottling.  1 half gallon of beer plus 1 quart of hot sugar water at 165°F will yield a combined temperature of 98°F.

The Processes

1) Add your priming sugar and water to a microwavable container.  I prefer a mason jar.
For the correct amount of water and sugar to use 
so as not to change the ABV of the beer see this post:
2) Microwave for one minute with the lid off.
3) Remove from the microwave, secure the lid and swirl to dissolve most of the sugar.
4) Remove the lid and place back in the microwave for another minute.
5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the sugar is dissolved, and the temperature is above 165°F
6) Start the siphon of beer into the bottling bucket.
7) Once there is aproximently half a gallon of beer in the bucket add the sugar solution being careful not to splash the liquids.