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Grains & How To Use Them


(from The Basics of Brewing by Scott Birdwell ©)

Many people know that beer is made from water, yeast, hops, and malt, but, many do not know what "malt" really is! Malt, in the general sense of the word, is a form of cereal grain (usually barley) that has been steeped in water for a number of days and allowed to sprout. Then it is put into a kiln to dry up the moisture. What is happening is that when grain is malted, we are, more-or-less, "fooling" the grain seed into believing that it is springtime and it the right time to start growing. This sprouting process establishes enzymes within the grain that we will use later on in the brewing ("mashing") stage. We know that the desirable processes are taking place inside the grain seed by measuring the length of the sprout. It is these enzymes that we need in order to convert the starch in the grain into a simple sugar that the yeast can eat and convert into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The kilning process not only helps remove the moisture from the grain, thus rendering it in a much more stable state for storage purposes, but it also allows the maltster to select different levels roastiness and color. This is not unlike "Juan Valdez" and his Colombian coffee. Starting with "green" coffee beans, Juan can elect to roast them to a broad range of color, flavor, and roastiness. From the same green coffee beans, you can get a light roast coffee (a la Folgers) all the way to a virtually "burnt" flavor (as in espresso). With raw malted barley grains, we, too, have many options regarding its roastiness. We can produce a very pale yellow liquid (a la Budweiser) all the way to an opaquely black liquid (e.g. Guinness). It is all a matter of: 1) Just how hot is that kiln?, 2) How long do I leave the grains in the kiln?, 3) What percentage of the grains should be pale in color to what percentage should be dark in color to achieve the desired color and flavor? Grains from different regions in the world can produce markedly different end products, even when treated similarly by malting companies. But, broadly speaking, we can still separate the grains into two general 1) Fermentable grains. These are generally relatively light in color and still contain starchy flour inside their husks. During the malting stage, the barley "plant" (sprout) has produced much enzyme but most of the starch still remains unchanged. It is then kilned at relatively low temperatures. These grains need to be converted into simple sugars that the yeast can digest. This process is called "mashing" and good control of temperatures (ca.150º-160º F) during this steeping period is a necessity to achieve the desired effect. 2) Non-Fermentable grains. These grains have been kilned at such high temperatures, that their enzymes have been destroyed and theirs starches converted and caramelized, thus rendering them "inedible" to most beer yeasts. For this reason, these grains do not have to be handled with the same care and attention by most homebrewers that the fermentable grains require. We are simply not concerned about the state of their enzymes and starches.
On most grains below, we will refer to º (degrees) lovibond. This is simply a measure of the color of the various grains. For example, a pound of crystal malt with a lovibond rating of 40º will impart just as much color as two pounds of crystal malt that is rated at 20º. Conversely, you would only need a tenth of pound of Black Patent Malt at 400º to impart the same amount of color as that pound of Crystal 40º. This information can be very helpful when trying to achieve the ideal color on a recipe, but does not tell you much about the flavors that the various grains impart. Three amber beers, one colored with Munich malt, one with crystal malt, and one with Black Patent Malt will taste radically different even if hops, yeast, temperatures, etc. are all the same.
Many books and recipes will refer to "two-row" or "six-row" pale malts. This is actually a reference to the way the raw barley grows on the stalk. What it means to the brewer is that six-row malt, having smaller kernels, has a greater percentage of husks and enzymes than two-row. This fact makes six-row the ideal choice for beer that are made up of relatively large percentages of adjuncts (e.g. American pilsners and wheat beers). The additional enzyme helps convert the non-malted adjuncts and the extra husks are beneficial for lautering ("filtering") the "huskless" adjuncts and wheat malt. Unfortunately, the higher percentage of husks can also produce dry, astringent off-flavors in all-malt beers, so two-row varieties are generally preferred for any all-malt beers. An added benefit is that two-row varieties also tend to give 5 - 10% higher yields per pound.


These grains should be "mashed" (steeped at about 155ºF) and "sparged" (rinsed with water at approximately 168ºF) at controlled temperatures prior to the boil:
PALE MALT - The lightest roast of barley malt, these grains are kilned at just hot enough temperatures to drive out moisture without damaging the enzymes within the kernels. Pale malts provide the majority of fermentable materials for most beers (even stouts! ). Virtually all malt extracts whether syrup or dried begin primarily from pale malts. Lesser amounts of darker grains can be added during the mash to produce amber and dark malt extracts. Actually, pale malt is a somewhat broad term and these grains can be more accurately subdivided into the following varieties:
--LAGER (OR PILSNER) MALT (1 1/2º - 2º lovibond) - Absolute lightest roast of the pale malts, ideal for light colored beers, such as pilsners and American light lagers.
--PALE ALE MALT (3º - 4º lovibond) - Slightly darker in color, ideal base for amber to dark colored ales. The darker roast adds a little character to the flavor profile. Beers produced exclusively from pale ale malt will tend to be gold colored.
--MILD ALE MALT (5º - 6º lovibond) - A roast darker than pale, mild ale malts can be used as a base for brown ales, milds, porters and stouts.
MUNICH MALT (5º - 15º lovibond) - An interesting grain in that Munich malt contributes some amber color and residual sweetness and yet is still very much a fermentable grain. It should be mashed, generally with a higher percentage of lager malt. Ideal for Octoberfests, Munich Dunkels & Helles, Bocks and other non-pilsner Germanic style beers.
VIENNA MALT (5º - 8º lovibond) - Another fermentable grain similar to Munich malt, but slightly lighter in color. Use similarly.
BISCUIT MALT (30º lovibond) - A marginally fermentable grain that should be used in place of "toasted" malt in many recipes. Biscuit malt produces a very pronounced "toasty" finish in the beer.
AROMATIC MALT (25º lovibond) - Similar to Biscuit malt, but slightly lighter in color, sweeter and more aromatic (hence its name) in the finish.
AMBER & BROWN MALT - Roasts of fermentable grains that have virtually disappeared from modern commercial malting and brewing. Porters were formerly brewed exclusively from brown malt before it was discovered that one could substitute substantially smaller quantities of pale and highly roasted grains and still get comparable results for lower costs. Amber malt can be replaced with pale and crystal malts, again, with considerable savings in costs.


Mashing is not required for flavor and color (although still not a bad idea!), simply steep like tea and give a quick rinse with hot water. This is sometimes referred to as a "mini-mash.")
CRYSTAL MALT (10º - 120º lovibond) - This is the most popular specialty grain used by homebrewers. Unfortunately, it is a rather broad term and can embrace a wide range of roasts (as you can see from the lovibond ratings! ). Crystal malt is taken "green" or wet from the sprouting vessel and is first gently dried for a few minutes at temperatures approaching boiling. The starch in the grain is converted into sugars and the interior of the grain liquefies. A further boost in temperature caramelizes these sugars, thus rendering them unfermentable. Upon cooling, the interior sets to a hard crystal. As little, if any, starches or enzymes can survive this treatment, there is no need to "mash" these grains for them to be useful. In fact, this unfermentable nature of these grains is the main reason to use crystal malt in brewing: we wish to increase the residual sweetness in the finished beverage. If the sugars were fermentable, they would simply be gobbled up by the brewing yeasts and converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. By the way, this caramelization process also explains why many maltsters refer to crystal malt as "CARAMEL" malt. Continental maltsters may also refer to "CARA-VIENNE" (medium-light crystal) and "CARA-MUNICH" (medium to dark crystal). The difference between light and dark crystal malts, whatever their names, is rather remarkable. Light crystal (10º - 20º lovibond) will add a noticeable amount of residual sweetness and mouthfeel, while contributing only modest amounts of color and that "caramel" finish to the flavor. The darker crystal malts add more color (amber to light brown), aroma and that caramel, "dark beer" flavor to your brew. All of the crystal malts will enhance the head retention of your favorite grain beverage.
CARA-PILS/DEXTRINE (3º - 10º lovibond) - A roast of malt just under the lighter crystal malts, this grain is used as a "beer body builder" by enhancing the smooth finish in the beer and adding mouthfeel and body. This grain adds no appreciable amount of caramel flavor to the aftertaste. When a malt ceases to be "cara-pils" and becomes "light crystal" malt is a rather gray area, as both are used for similar purposes.
SPECIAL "B" MALT (175º - 200º lovibond) - A light brown roast, Special "B" serves as the "missing link" of malt, filling the large gap between the dark crystal malts (100º - 120º lovibond) and chocolate malt (350º - 400º lovibond). Special "B" can contribute a great deal of color to those brown-colored beers without the characteristic "toasty" finish found in beers colored with chocolate malt. Special "B" will add some (not a lot!) of sweetness to the finish. It is also a popular choice for brewers wishing to produce so-called "red ales" by incorporating small amounts (ca. 1/4 lb. per 5 gallons) in a "mini-mash" prior to the boil.
CHOCOLATE MALT (350º - 400º lovibond) - This grain is named more for its color than its flavor (although when combined with generous amounts of crystal, it can live up to its name!). Chocolate malt is a highly roasted grain, produced by loading pale malt into a roasting drum similar to a coffee roaster. The temperature is gradually increased until the grain just begins to carbonize. Ideal for porters and stouts (use 1/4 to 1 lb. per 5 gallons).
BLACK PATENT MALT (500º - 600º lovibond) - Similar to chocolate malt, but taken one step further, black patent malt is the "espresso" roast of barley malt. Use sparingly! (Sorry, Charlie P! ) A little of this can go a long way! Use 1/4 to 1 lb. per 5 gallons for your darkest, meanest stouts! The use of more may result in a beverage that more resembles an ashtray than a beer!
ROAST UNMALTED BARLEY (300º - 600º lovibond) - Roast barley can range in "roastiness" from chocolate malt to black patent malt. It is merely the unmalted version of these grains. A real "must" for your best stouts, roast barley seems to be slightly less harsh than its black patent cousin. Use in similar amounts.

WHEAT MALT (2º lovibond) - While technically not an adjunct, this a "wheat" version of pale malt. Therefore, this grain must be crushed and mashed to obtain any appreciable amount of yield and flavor. However, wheat, unlike barley, is a difficult grain to malt (no protective husk). When crushed, wheat malt virtually turns into flour. It is for this reason we recommend that you blend it (up to 65% wheat) with pale malt so as to have an adequate amount of grain husk to help separate out the "goods" from the spent grist. Without the help of the barley malt husks, an all-wheat malt mash would more closely resemble paste than sweet wort. It would be virtually impossible to sparge, as there would be no effective filter bed to help separate the "goods" from the spent grains. In addition, contains much higher percentages of nitrogenous proteins which can cause the beer to haze up when chilled. Small amounts of wheat malt can be incorporated into many beer styles to enhance head retention.
FLAKED BARLEY - Flaked adjuncts, such as flaked barley, are simply unmalted grains that have been fed through heated rollers which gelatinize their starches, therefore by-passing the need to pre-boil these grains prior to mashing. Flaked barley can impart a delightfully smooth grainy finish to the beer and enhance head retention. Typical use is 1/4 to 1 lb. per five gallons. Exceeding these amounts may lead to haze problems.
FLAKED MAIZE - Lends an attractive, sweet "corn-on-the-cob" flavor to some styles of beer. Flaked maize, when used in small amounts (1/4 - 1/2 lb. per five gallons) can add an interesting complexity to many styles of beer, including British bitters. When used in larger percentages (20 - 40%) it can produce a superior quality American style pilsner than the more commonly used, but cheaper, corn grits and has the added benefit of not requiring the gelatinizing "pre-boil" that the grits need.
FLAKED RICE - The use if rice adjuncts seem to produce a more "neutral" flavor than corn adjuncts and for this reason some American pilsner brewers prefer them. Again, the flaked version of rice omits the need to "pre-boil" the starchy grain before mashing in, thus saving quite a bit of time and hassle (but at the expense of higher material costs).
FLAKED RYE, FLAKED OATS (OAT MEAL) & FLAKED WHEAT - Yet more grains that can be added directly to the mash without "pre-boiling." All can add that pleasant "grainy flavor and enhance head retention. Use 1/4 to 1 lb. per five gallon recipe.

Introduction to Mashing


(from The Basics of Brewing© by Scott Birdwell)

--After you have mastered brewing beer from malt extract and specialty grains, you may wish to take the next step: brewing beer exclusively from grains ("mashing"). Many homebrewers are intimidated by the prospect of all-grain brewing; they believe that all-grain brewing is hopelessly complicated and that they are too inexperienced to undertake such a complex procedure. While it is true that mashing is an incredibly complex process, it is, in its own way, very forgiving. It is simply not that difficult to produce good beer from grains. It is, however, very difficult to produce a replicable, consistent beer, even from identical ingredients. Everything effects the flavor. . . the pH of the mash and rinse ("sparge"), the thickness of the mash (the volume of water per weight of grain), the temperature of the mash and sparge water, the amount of time that you maintain the mash at those temperatures, all of these factors come into play. Nonetheless, you can make a very good beer, even on your first all-grain attempt, if you follow a few guidelines.
--If we understand what is going on during the mashing procedure, we can "help" the process along. Briefly, the idea is to take starches generally, but not always, in the form of barley malt)and allow the enzymes contained within the grain to convert its starches into simple sugars and dextrins (long chains of sugar molecules). Simple sugars (in the form of maltose will readily ferment to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide, while dextrins, being largely non-fermentable, provide body and mouthfeel. Changing the mashing pH, temperature and durations, and "stiffness" (thickness/consistency) can radically affect flavor and mouthfeel depending upon the percentage of maltose versus dextrins that are produced during the mash. I hope I'm not scaring you off here! That's not the idea, but rather, give you an idea just how complex the mashing process really is. The process generally involves the following steps: 1) Cracking or crushing the barley malt, 2) Steeping the cracked grain in water at elevated temperatures for a given amount of time, 3) Recirculating the wort back through the cracked grain "soup" a pint to a quart at a time. This will help establish a filter bed, which will yield a clearer, less turbid "grain tea." 4) After the wort begins to run clear, the next step to to sparge the grains with more hot water to rinse the "goodies" out of them, 5) Boiling the liquid with hops to produce the "bitter wort." Obviously I have greatly oversimplified the procedure here, and I will elaborate below, but hopefully you get the general idea!
--First, let's talk about crushing or cracking the grain. This is best done in a mill designed for this very purpose, as opposed to making do with a blender, food processor, coffee mill, or even a "masa" mill (Central/South American corn mill). These kinds of mills invariably pulverize and tear up the husk of the grain. Proper milling involves feeding the grain between rollers which crack the grain, while leaving the husks virtually intact (quite a feat!). The reason for this is that we will be using the husks as a filter media to help separate the "goods" from the spent grains. If the husks are pulverized, then what you get is more akin to paste than unfermented beer ("wort"). This "paste-y" consistency makes it very difficult to rinse the grains and extract the goods. Any decent homebrew shop will have some sort of roller mill available to crush your grains, saving you the hassle of dealing with the milling process.
--Next, let us deal with the steeping of the grain. This is actually the process known as "mashing." This is also where things get complicated! Let's talk about some general mashing guidelines here: 1) Use between 1 - 1½ quarts of water per pound of grain to be mashed (1¼ qt/lb. is a nice compromise), 2) heat the water to approximately 168°, 3) Carefully mix the water and the cracked grain together so as to avoid dry clumps (this process is called "doughing in"), 4) Hopefully, if all goes well, the resulting temperature of the mixture should be about 150° - 155°F. Maintain this temperature for at least an hour before proceeding to the next step (sparging). What is taking place during this steeping period is that the enzymes (alpha and beta amylase) contained within the grains will convert the starches into simple sugars and dextrins.
--Needless to say, this is a critical stage of all-grain brewing. Sloppy techniques can produce a beer with very low starting gravities or nasty off-flavors.
--"Lautering" the grain involves separating the goods (in the form of liquified malt sugars) from the waste materials (spent grains). This is generally accomplished by first, placing the mixture in a vessel with a false bottom (a strainer that holds the grains together while allowing liquids to flow through). Then you will want to begin to recirculate the wort back through the cracked grain "soup" a pint to a quart at a time, until the wort begins to run clear. By establishing a filter bed, you should end up with a clearer, less turbid "grain tea."
--The next step is to slowly rinse ("sparge") the grains with hot water. The idea here is not to simply collect a given amount of liquid but to rinse the goods from the grains without leaching undesirable flavors. The ideal temperature for this sparge water is about 168°F. Significantly lower temperatures will fail to sufficiently liquify the sugars created within the grains during the mashing procedure and thus lower the yield from the grains, while significantly higher temperatures will leach undesirable flavors from the grains (such as tannins) in addition to the sugars that you do want. For best results, do not allow the grains to reach even a simmer (much less a boil ) before straining and rinsing! Otherwise it will be "Pucker City!"
--Once you've collected the goods from the grains you will want to bring them to a boil and begin adding hops. This may not be procedurally that different from your malt extract/specialty grain brewing experiences, but you are accomplishing much more during your boil now than with extract brewing: 1) You have de-activated any enzymes that may be left from the grains. This is desirable because once you've hit the desired ratio of maltose to dextrins, you will not want continued enzymatic activity to change this delicate balance, 2) You are coagulating the extraneous proteins that form during a good, vigorous boil. Otherwise, these proteins will end up in your beer creating potential haze, flavor and other stability problems as the beer matures, 3) You are, obviously, sterilizing your wort (something that many malt extract producers claim is unnecessary with their products... don't you believe it!), 4) You are reducing the volume of liquid by evaporating water out of the kettle during the boil. As a rule, you will start with at least six gallons of initial "sweet wort" to yield five gallons of final product. During the hour to two hour boil you should be able to boil off this extra gallon of volume. Yes, you could stop the sparge once you have collected a mere five gallons of wort, but then you would be wasting all of the sugars and goodies that are still left in the grain at that point, and after you finished boiling you will likely have to add water to bring the volume back up to five gallons! Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? 5) Just as with extract/specialty grain brewing, you are extracting the bittering components from the hops during the boil. This bite from the hops helps balance out the sweetness derived from the malt and acts as a mild preservative.
--The procedure described above is called "single step infusion mashing." This is the simplest, and in my opinion, the best mashing procedure for the beginning all-grain brewer.
--Other mashing procedures exist and can produce excellent results, but they are considerably more complicated than the single step infusion method. For this reason, I recommend them for more experienced all-grain brewers. These other procedures include: 1) multi-step infusion; and 2) decoction mashing. "Multi-step infusion" is a similar process to the single step infusion with the exception that the entire mash is brought to a specified temperature, maintained, then boosted to the next temperature rest. For example, you could heat the water ("mash liquor") to 137°F, then "dough in" the crushed grain, resulting in a temperature of about 122°F. This is a good temperature to break down large protein molecules, which could, conceivably cause a chill haze (clear, room temperature beer clouds up when refrigerated). After maintaining this temperature for 20 minutes you would then boost the temperature of the wort to 140°F for 15 minutes to degrade the gums contained within the grains. This makes for a cleaner, easier run-off from the grains when you sparge them. Next you boost the wort to 155° - 158° to allow the amylase enzyme to convert the starches into sugars. After 30 - 60 minutes, you will then boost the temperature to 168°F for just a few minutes to degrade all of the enzymes. Once you've hit just the right balance on your mash, you may want to de-activate all the enzymes to prevent them from working while your sparging. Now you can move on to recirculating and sparging. "Decoction mashing" involves many of these same temperature stops or rests, but with a different kind of twist: you don't simply heat the entire batch of grain and water to the next temperature stop, but instead you remove the thickest, densest part of the grist and heat it up to a boil in a separate kettle before returning this back to the other two thirds. Naturally this raises the over-all temperature (hopefully to the next desired "stop"). After maintaining these temperature rests for a while, you remove some more grist, heat it up to a boil, and return it back to the wort to raise it to the next temperature rest, and so on and so on. This procedure originates from Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Bohemia) and has worked very well with the grains that are grown in this region. The short growing season in this climate produces noticeably different barley than, say, that grown in England. In recent years, as scientists have come to understand the intricacies of malting, there is probably less reason to use decoction mashing than in the past, except that the flavor of these beer styles is thought by traditionalists to be inextricably linked to this particular mashing procedure.
--These two procedures sound complicated, don't they? Obviously, they are complicated, but they may eventually prove to be worthwhile. My recommendation is that you master single-step infusion first before moving on to the these other, more advanced techniques. I might add that the vast majority of micro-breweries and brew-pubs in this country use single-step infusion exclusively and with great success with a wide array of beer styles. Once you've got the basic mashing techniques down pat, moving on to the more advanced procedures is much easier, and your chances of success should be good.

--Some of the equipment that you will need for all-grain brewing is obvious: 1) First you will need a large (6 - 10 gallon) kettle. For best results, use a stainless steel or enameled steel kettle. Aluminum is not recommended. If price is a problem, procure an enameled kettle. They work fine and are relatively inexpensive (generally about $1 per quart capacity at your local super-duper marts and surplus stores). You will also need at least one, if not several reasonably accurate thermometers to measure the temperature of the wort, water, etc.
--Another very important piece of equipment that you will need is a mash tun (and/or lauter tun). A "mash tun" is the vessel in which you hold the grains and water while the enzymes do their magic. Technically you could use your kettle as your mash tun. It has one advantage: you already own it (it's the same vessel in which you will shortly be boiling the wort!). Kettles leave something to be desired as mash tuns, in that, unless you are brewing large amounts of beer at a time (10 or more gallons), they do not maintain temperatures very well. You will need to stir the grist up every 10 or 15 minutes or so and re-heat the mash back to the desired temperature. Furthermore, you now are faced with the dilemma of how to separate the goods from the spent grains. This is where the need for a lauter tun comes in.
--A lauter tun is the vessel that contains the false bottom for separating the goods from the grains. The poor man's lauter tun could be as simple (and inexpensive) as two identical food service buckets that "snug" together when they are stacked. On the side of the bottom bucket, you affix a hose either by simply drilling a 1" hole and attaching a spigot and hose or drilling a 7/16" hole and cramming a 3/8" ID by 1/2" OD hose through the hole (yes, it really can be done) and attaching a hose clamp to regulate the flow. Next you perforate the bottom of the top bucket by drilling seemingly billion of holes in it (I've used a 3/32" drill bit for this). This is very tedious, but with a few homebrews, the time passes without too much dragging. This perforated bucket snugs into the spigotted bucket. The mashed grist is gently poured into the top bucket. Now you can begin to recirculate the wort that initially flows out of the hose back onto the grains. This can be done by collecting a quart or two of this cloudy concoction and gently pouring it back onto the grain bed. Repeat this process until the liquid begins to clarify (it doesn't have to be crystal clear). This signifies that your grains are beginning to act as a filter bed for your run-off, and that it is time to begin sparging.
--Personally, I prefer to combine the mash tun and the lauter tun into one vessel. For the beginner, this is best done by utilizing an insulated "picnic cooler" fitted with a false bottom or some sort of similar "strainmaster" set-up. This strainer can be a simple PVC or copper tubing manifold with hacksaw cuts on the bottom of the "limbs." Think of this manifold as a tree with branches. In this case, the wort run-off is collected through these limbs and channeled into the trunk, from which the wort is gravity fed through the cooler wall via a spigot or simple threshold. Typically the various parts (e.g. elbows, tees, crosses, straight arms) of this manifold are simply butted together for easy disassembly and cleaning. Easier, still, than fabricating your own manifold are the false bottoms that are custom fabricated for the 5 and 10 gallon cylindrical water coolers. These false bottoms are a slightly convex, perforated thick plastic disk that sets on the bottom of the cooler. There is an elbow that attaches to the center of the false bottom and is connected to a spigot on the side of the cooler (warmer?). The sparged wort travels and is filtered through the grains, through the false bottom and then up and out through the elbow, connecting tube and through the spigot.
--"Sparging" is the process whereby we rinse the grains to collect the "goodies," while leaving the spent, flavorless grains behind. Traditionally this is done by maintaining the liquid level in the mash tun about even with the grain bed, while, at the same time, draining the "good stuff" out of the spigot on the bottom. Obviously, it takes a bit of practice to keep the hot water flowing at the same rate as the wort flow at the bottom, too fast or too slow will result in not enough or too much water above the grain bed. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure this balance out, just a little bit of practice. Your sparger can be as simple a garden watering can with spray nozzle head. Unfortunately, this can really get to be tedious and you end up rushing through this important process, resulting in rather low yields from the grain. An alternative to this is to syphon the hot water onto the grain bed as you drain off the wort. If using this method, I recommend that you find something to lay on top of the grain bed (e.g. a plastic lid) to prevent the syphon flow from digging a "trench" in the grain bed, thus disrupting the filter bed. There are even some really nice brewing "toys" available from homebrew shops that simplify the sparging process. They generally take the shape of a slow-flowing, micro-spraying lawn sprinkler through which the hot water is syphoned or pumped. One company, Listermann's Manufacturing, makes several good ones and they generally retail in the $15-$20 range.
--One variable that you will likely want to control is the pH of the wort. While not terribly important for extract or even extract and grain brewing, pH plays an important role in mashing. Your yield (the amount of "goodies" that you get from a given amount of grain) is noticeably affected by the pH in the mash and sparge. Generally you will want the pH to be in the mid 5's (5.2-5.7) during the mash. This might be easier than you think, in that the grains, and sometimes even the water treatment, will help drop pH into range. Obviously the make-up of your water supply and the nature of your grain bill will largely determine if you need to do anything to adjust the mash pH. In order to check the pH, you need to acquire some narrow range pH papers. Homebrew suppliers will carry papers that range from pH 4.6 - 6.2. This should cover your bases. A vial of 100 of these cost only a few dollars and will more than suffice for the beginning all-grain brewer. As you get more experienced, you may wish to move up technologically and procure a real pH meter. These are more accurate (even the cheap ones!) than the papers, but you are now looking at $40-$100 for a hand-held pocket model to several hundred dollars for a laboratory type bench model. Hey, you don't need a Ferrari the day that you get your drivers license! One subtlety of pH control that is often over-looked by all-grain brewers is the need to adjust the pH of the sparge water, just as you adjust the mash pH. And, unlike the mash, you will not have the grains to help lower the sparge pH. Water treatment (e.g. gypsum, salt, epsom salts, calcium chloride, etc.) may help lower pH some, but only slightly. Typically, municipal water supplies run in the pH 7 - 9 range. If you sparge with water at this high an alkaline level, you will tend to leach out nasty, husky, tannins. Not nice! A variety of acids can be used to lower pH. Most brewers prefer either lactic acid or, my favorite, food grade phosphoric acid. I like phosphoric because it is mild in flavor (it can be found in that can of Coke you're drinking) and goes into solution as phosphate, which provides the yeast with valuable nutrients. There is no general rule of thumb as to how much you should use. Suffice to say that it will be measured in drops (or at most milli-liters) rather than ounces. Just add a little and check your pH, add and check, etc. until you've hit the right level. Do not get impatient and dump a bunch into the sparge water, as once you've neutralized all the buffers in the water, the pH will drop like a rock and you can way overshoot your mark. As a rule, I prefer to observe the following routine for all grain brewing: 1) heat all my water (called "liquor," for both the mash and the sparge) at the beginning, 2) add the water treatment to the entire batch of water, 3) dough in the grains with some of the water, 4) check and adjust, if necessary, the mash pH and temperature, 5) while the grain is mashing, check and adjust pH and temperature of the sparge liquor, 6) toward the end of the mash recirculate the run-off back through the grain bed until it begins to clarify, 7) slowly sparge the grains until you have collected 6 - 7 gallons, 8) bring the sweet wort to a boil, 9) add hops in several additions, according to your recipe, 10) turn off heat and chill the bitter wort as quickly as possible. Simple, huh?!
--One difference between extract/specialty grain versus all-grain brewing is the cooling process. Typical extract/specialty grain brewing involves boiling a reduced volume (e.g. 2 or 3 gallons) of wort. Obviously, this will be concentrated, containing enough malt and hops for the full five gallons of finished beer. Once the boil is over, the kettle can be simply placed in the sink with several gallons of cool water to help the mix down rapidly. However, with all-grain brewing, you will very likely end up with five gallons of very hot, very sticky wort, and cooling in the sink will likely take a very long time, if your 6 to 10 gallon kettle will even fit in the sink! Moving the operation to the bathtub can help, but it leaves a lot to be desired: It still is a very slow procedure for cooling wort, even if you are constantly circulating the cool water around the kettle, and I don't know about you, but carrying five gallons of boiling hot liquid is not my idea of fun or safety! If you are going to be an all-grain brewer, you need to equip yourself to do battle. In this case, you need to purchase, scrounge or fabricate a "wort chiller." A "wort chiller" is simply a device used to help rapidly cool down the wort after the boil is finished. The simplest version of these is called an "immersion chiller" and these are very effective for small size batches (e.g. 5 gallons or so). An immersion chiller consists of a length of copper tubing coiled up and fitted with hosing on both ends. The procedure is to immerse the coil in the wort for the final 10 minutes or so of the boil. This will sanitize the coil. As soon as the boil is completed, add your finishing (aromatic) hops (if using) and immediately hook up one of the hoses to your faucet. Turn on the cold water and it will begin to cool down immediately. Be careful, as the water will begin to squirt out of the other end of the hose at close to boiling temperatures! A two hundred degree water wiggle is not my idea of fun! Adjust the flow on the inlet water to produce the best cooling without squirting hot water all over your homebrewery. The length of the copper tubing depends upon the typical temperature of your tap water. Here on the Gulf Coast, where tap water can reach temperatures in the 80°'s for as much as six months of the year, I would highly recommend a minimum of 40 to 50 feet of 3/8" copper tubing. Typical "mail-order" wort chillers will often contain as little as 25 feet of copper tubing. This may be fine in areas of the country where tap water temperatures rarely exceed 60°, but it doesn't cut it here in the "sub-tropics". Even with cooler tap water temperatures, a 25 foot chiller will take noticeably longer to get the wort to the right pitching temperature than one with 40 to 50 feet of tubing.
--A more efficient way to chill you wort is called a "counterflow chiller." These are very much like what is used in commercial breweries. They work somewhat faster than immersion chillers, but at the expense of being a bigger pain in the butt to use. If you are contemplating brewing larger than 5 gallons at a time, I would highly recommend that you use a counter-flow chiller. A counter-flow chiller consists of, again, a length of copper tubing (in this case 25 feet is about right) inserted into a garden hose. These chillers are typically coiled and a "T-type" fitting is affixed to both ends. These "T-type" fittings will consist of two large opening for the garden hose and one smaller opening for the copper tubing. The way this chiller works is that you will syphon or pump hot wort through the copper tubing at one end while running cold tap water at the other end. What happens is that the hot water exits out of the big fitting next to the "hot" wort inlet on one "T- fitting", while the cool wort exits out the small fitting on the other end, next to the large "water-in" fitting. If this sounds complicated, it is not and these "T-type" fittings are available commercially (Listermann's produces one version called the "Phil-Chill"). The hassle is that while sanitizing the copper on an immersion chiller is easy (simply place in the kettle during the last 10 minutes of the boil), sanitizing the copper tubing on a counter-flow is not so easy. Obviously you cannot immerse the copper in the boil, so what do you do? One thing you can do is syphon or pump the same sanitizer you use on your fermenters and bottles (e.g. diluted bleach, iodophor, Star-San, Oxine, etc.). This works reasonably well. I would recommend that you run the sanitizer through the copper tubing and clamp it off for 10 - 20 minutes to allow extended contact time with the sanitizer and tubing. A thorough rinse with boiled water would hurt.
--One alternative you will have with you wort chiller that you probably don't have with your fermenters and bottles is to run boiling water through the chiller (Obviously, you don't want to run the cooling water through at the same time!) A combination of sanitizer followed by boiling water is a good bet to keep the "critters " out of your counter flow chiller. A good thing to do after your brewing session is to thoroughly flush the chiller with plenty of water.
--This will help prevent "science projects" from growing in your chiller between brewing sessions. Also, it is a good idea after flushing to blow out all the moisture from the coil. Even "plain" water will stagnate given enough time!

--Rather than calling this section "All-Grain Formulation," let's call it, "Converting Your Malt Extract/Specialty Grain Recipes Into All-Grain Recipes." In other words, this is not the time and place to go through the subtleties and intricacies of all types of beer style recipe formulation. It simply cannot be done in recipe design, I would highly recommend that you obtain a copy of Ray Daniels' excellent book, "Designing Great. Beers." There are other good books available on the subject, but this is, in my opinion, the best specifically for recipe design. If you are ready to take the plunge into all-grain brewing, you are very likely already an intermediate brewer, ie. you are currently brewing with malt extracts flavored with specialty grains. If this is the case, the good news is that you do not necessarily have to change up the proportions of the specialty grains in your recipe. In other words, if your pale ale recipe calls for 7 Ibs. of light malt extract, 1/2 lb. cara-pils, 1/2 lb. medium crystal malt, & 1oz. chocolate malt, you are still going to use the same amount of cara-pils, medium crystal, and chocolate malts. The question will be, "What do I use to replace the malt extract?" As a general rule, 1 lb. of malt extract (syrup) dissolved in one gallon water (total volume) will yield an original gravity (O.G.) of 1.036 or abbreviated 36 points. Two pounds of syrup in one gallon (total volume) will yield an O.G. of 1.072 (or 72 points). In the recipe above, we are using seven pounds of syrup in five gallons. Let's do the math: 7 x 36 = 252. Divide this number by the number of gallons: 5, and this should give you a reasonably good approximation of the expected O.G. (in this case 1.050 or slightly higher). We need to figure out how many pounds of pale malt to substitute to yield that same 252 points to end up with a comparable O.G. Gravity yields from malt extract are, by and large, pretty cut and dried. You can count on that 36 point per pound per gallon figure. On the other hand, however, yields from all grain brewing are going to vary considerably because of all the variables involved: the type and quality of pale malt used, the pH of the mash & sparge, the amount of water used in the mash & sparge, the temperature of the mash & sparge, the quality of the crush from the mill, the quality of the false bottom used, the patience of the brewer in the sparging process, phase of the moon (O.K. maybe not that, but then, again. . . maybe so). A good starting point is to say that in the hands of an average, beginning all-grain brewer, with average equipment, a pound of pale malt mashed, sparged and boiled back to one gallon will yield approximately an O.G. of 1.025 (or 25 points). So, in our hypothetical pale ale recipe, we will need approximately 10 pounds of pale malt to yield the equivalent of the 7 pounds of malt extract (252/25=10+). This is just a starting point, and you may find, with repeated experience that you will need more or less grain to replace the extract in your recipes. A yield of 25 points is average for the beginner, 28 points is probably closer to the average for a more experienced all-grain brewer, 30 to 32 points is possible with advanced equipment and lots of patience, anything above this yield will necessitate changing your name to Dave Miller (just joking, Dave!).
--For more information on expected yields from extracts and grains go to the section on this page of our website entitled: Brewing Yields. Also of interest would be: How to Use Grains. This is a brief description of the various grains you will likely find at the homebrew shop.
--A few other notes on this subject: 1) dried malt extract is more concentrated than syrup, so expect a yield of about 42 points for any DME in your recipes, 2) substituting for amber and dark malt extract will require the addition of small amounts of crystal and/or chocolate malts to maintain color and flavor. Obviously, these will vary from brand to brand, but as a rule of thumb, for amber malt extract, let's use the same amount of pale malt as we would for light malt extract (at 25 points per pound of grain versus 36 points per pound of extract), and add about 1 1/2 ounces of crystal malt for every pound of amber extract replaced.
--Similarly, for dark malt extract, add an ounce of crystal malt and about a quarter ounce of chocolate malt for every pound dark extract substituted (in addition to the pale malt needed). 3) Wheat beer recipes offer a different problem. Most wheat extracts are actually only 40 - 60% wheat, with the balance being pale (barley) malt. This is not a problem, in that most European wheat beers average close to 50 - 60% wheat content. Thus, for a good starting point, use approximately equal amounts pale malt and wheat malt in your wheat and wit recipes. Wheat malt grain should give you comparable yields to pale malt (start with 25 points per pound per gallon). For Berliner weisse recipes, use only 25 - 33% wheat malt. 4) Some styles of Bavarian beers, e.g. Munich Dunkel, Munich Helles, Traditional Bock, & Double Bocks, will require some Munich malts in the mash. Munich malt (preferably German or Belgian) can be substituted for pale malt with comparable yields (25 - 32 points), but with much more robust, sweet, malty finish. Use 10 - 30% Munich malt in place of pale. This will produce a much more complex, authentic Continental flavor than simply using pale and enough crystal and chocolate malts to achieve the proper color.
--Good luck, Beginning All-Grain Brewer. Once you've had a taste of "scratch" brewing success, it's hard to go back to the easy way out.

Hop Varieties

--Hops come in two forms: Pellets, & Loose Cones.
--Pellets are the easiest to use: simply add to boil, no straining required. Pellets also store better than loose and compressed plugs.
--Loose hops are the raw form and should be strained out of wort after boil.


6 - 8

Very Floral. Resembles a stronger Cascades variety.

Bramling Cross
5 - 7
Similar to Kent Goldings. Exhibits spicy tanginess. Great in British ales.
Bullion/Brewer's Gold

7 - 9
Sister strains. Very strong, pungent hop. Ideal for porters, stouts, & strong flavored ales

5 - 6
Medium in bitterness. Very aromatic with an almost "perfumey," floral finish.

9 - 10
A new, improved Brewer's Gold variety, though, more resembles a strong Cascade-like strain. Very aromatic.

10 - 12
A pungent Northern Brewer hybrid with even stronger bittering & aromatic qualities.

6 - 7
Standard U.S. lager hop. Very coarse, best if blended with more refined, aromatic varieties.

12 - 17
Strong bittering variety. Floral flavor. Similar to Nugget.

3 - 5
A new variety, descended from Hallertau, Cascades, & Brewers Gold, lush. spicy. floral aroma.
First Gold

Bittering/Aromatic 5 - 7
A new strong Golding variety. Somewhat fruity with a spicy aroma.

3 - 5
Mild bite, very fruity aroma. Ideal finishing hop for ales. Great in brown ales.

11 - 13
Pungent bittering variety with some bouquet characteristics. Use judiciously & blend with a more aromatic variety


2 - 5
A spicy variety with low to medium bitterness. Versatile German hop.
Bittering/Aromatic 2 - 5
One of the more widely planted varieties in the Hallertau region in Germany. Mild & spicy.

7 - 11
A new domestic strain of Hallertauer. Spicy with a smooth bite. Medium to high bitterness.

Kent Goldings

4 - 6
Medium bitterness. Pleasant, mildly sulphuric tanginess. Ideal for pale ales & bitters.

3 - 5
A newer U.S. variety. Aroma is both spicy & pefumey. Lush!

12 - 17
A very strong bittering hop of German descent. Spicy aroma.
Mt. Hood

4 - 6
New, stronger U.S.-grown Hallertau variety. Spicy & perfumey in finish.

5 - 7
A new British variety. A stronger Fuggles replacement strain.
Northern Brewer

6 - 8
A robust bittering hop grown world-wide. Richer in aroma & less herbal / grassy than Bullion or Brewer's Gold.

11 - 14
Strong bittering hop in the same vein as Eroica & Galena, but more refined.
6 - 9

A cross of Hallertau & Northern Brewer varieties. A good, spicy bittering hop for both ales & lagers.
Pride of Ringwood

6 - 10
Strong, pungent bittering hop from Tasmania, Australia.

2 - 5
Mild bite, very aromatic! Spicy bouquet. Great in finishing those delicate lagers. The hop in Pilsner Urquell!

Bittering/Aromatic 3 - 6
Spicy stronger Hallertauer variety with muted citrus notes.


10 - 14
Simcoe is a relatively new hybrid variety similar to Cascade but much higher in bitterness. This variety exhibits a distinctive citrus aroma combined with a high alpha-acid content that imparts a strong but pleasurable bitterness. Perfect for the new wave of extra-hoppy ales, e.g. Imperial India Pale Ales.

3 - 5 Similar to Hallertauer, but somewhat earthier. Good medium bittering hop for lagers & ales.

5 - 7
A new domestic variety with Saaz lineage. Medium bitterness with smooth finish. Spicy aroma.


2 - 3
Reminicent of Hallertauer, but even milder. Grown in France.
Styrian Golding
5 - 7
A spicy, medium bitter hop from Slovenia. Spicy character. Versatile hop for ales & lagers.

15 - 18
Very Strong Bittering hop. Assertive, citrusy flavor. Think tangerine!. Good in domestic pale ales.

8 - 10
A newer, strong, spicy bittering hop from Britain.

3 - 6
A versatile, spicy, sweet hop grown in U.S. & Germany. A great finishing hop for lagers.
6 - 8
A versatile, spicy, sweet hop grown in Germany. Stronger & more disease resistant than Hallertauer or Hersbrucker.


Bittering/Aromatic 15 - 20 Warrior is an extremely potent bittering hops, but has a low co-humulone level to keep that harsh bite under control. Very versatile. Think Dogfish Head IPA!


4 - 6
A stronger Fuggles variety developed & grown in the Pacific Northwest.
Wye Challenger
7 - 9
A newer British variety. Descended from Northern Brewer, but similar to Goldings, only stronger.

World of Brewing Yeast

The World Of Brewing Yeast

How To Make a Yeast Starter!

Wyeast Ale Yeast White Labs Ale Yeast
Wyeast Lager Yeast White Labs Lager Yeast
Wyeast Wheat Yeast White Labs Specialty Ale Yeast
Dried Brewing Yeast


1007 German ale yeast.


Ferments dry and crisp, leaving a complex but mild flavor. Produces an extremely rocky head and ferments well down to 55º F. Flocculation -- low; apparent attenuation -- 73-77%. (55-66ºF)
1028 London ale yeast. Details Rich minerally profile, bold and crisp, with some diacetyl production. Flocculation – medium; apparent attenuation -- 73-77%. (60-72ºF)
1056 American ale yeast Details Used commercially for several classic American ales. This strain ferments dry, finishes soft, smooth and clean, and is very well balanced. Flocculation -- low to medium; apparent attenuation 73-77%. (60-72ºF)

1084 Irish ale yeast.


Slight residual diacetyl and fruitiness ness; great for stouts. Clean, smooth, soft and full-bodied. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation -- 71-75%. (62-72ºF)

1098 British ale yeast.


From Whitbread, Ferments dry and crisp, slightly tart, fruity and well-balanced. Ferments well down to 65ºF. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation -- 73-75%. (64-72ºF)
1187 Ringwood Ale Yeast Details
1272 American ale yeast II. Details Fruitier and more flocculent than 1056, slightly nutty, soft, clean, slightly tart finish. Flocculation -- high; apparent attenuation -- 72-76%. (60-72ºF)
1275 Thames Valley ale yeast. Details Produces classic British bitters, rich complex flavor profile, clean, light malt character, low fruitiness, low esters, well-balanced. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation -- 72-76%. (62-72ºF)
1335 British ale yeast II. Details Typical of British and Canadian ale fermentation profile with good flocculating and malty flavor characteristics, crisp finish, clean, fairly dry. Flocculation -- high; apparent attenuation -- 73-76%. (63-75ºF)

1318 London ale yeast III.


From traditional London brewery with great malt and hop profile. True top cropping strain, fruity, very light, soft balanced palate, finishes slightly sweet. Flocculation -- high; apparent attenuation -- 71-75%. (64-74ºF)
1728 Scottish ale yeast. Details Ideally suited for Scottish-style ales, and high-gravity ales of all types. Flocculation -- high; apparent attenuation 69-73%. (55-70ºF)
1338 European ale yeast. Details From Wissenschaftliche in Munich. Full-bodied complex strain finishing very malty. Produces a dense, rocky head during fermentation. Flocculation -- high; apparent attenuation -- 67-71%. (60- 72ºF)
1214 Belgian ale yeast. Details Abbey-style top-fermenting yeast, suitable for high-gravity beers. Estery. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation -- 72-76%. (58-68ºF)
1388 Belgian strong ale yeast. Details Robust flavor yeast with moderate to high alcohol tolerance. Fruity nose and palate, dry, tart finish. Flocculation -- low; apparent attenuation -- 73-77%. (65-75ºF)

1762 Belgian Abbey Yeast II.        Details

High gravity yeast with distinct warming character from ethanol production. Slightly fruity with dry finish. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attentuation -- 73-77%. (65-75ºF)

1968 London ESB ale yeast.


Highly flocculent top-fermenting strain with rich, malty character and balanced fruitiness. This strain is so flocculent that additional aeration and agitation is needed. An excellent strain for cask-conditioned ales. Flocculation -- high; apparent attenuation -- 67-71%. (64-72ºF)

2565 Kolsch yeast.


A hybrid of ale and lager characteristics. This strain develops excellent maltiness with subdued fruitiness, and a crisp finish. Ferments well at moderate temperatures. Flocculation -- low; apparent attenuation -- 73-77%. (56-64ºF)


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2007 Pilsen lager yeast.


A classic American pilsner strain, smooth, malty palate. Ferments dry and crisp. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation -- 71-75%. (48-56ºF)

2035 American lager yeast. Details Not a pilsner strain. Bold, complex and aromatic, producing slight diacetyl. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation -- 73-77%. (48-58ºF)
2001 Pilsner Urquell Lager Yeast Details
Mild fruit/floral aroma. Very dry and clean on palate with full mouth feel and nice subtle malt character. Very clean and neutral finish.

2112 California lager yeast.


Particularly suited for producing l9th century-style West Coast beers. Retains lager characteristics at temperatures up to 65º F, and produces malty, brilliantly-clear beers. Flocculation -- high; apparent attenuation -- 67-71%. (58-68ºF)
2124 Bohemian Lager Yeast. Details A pilsner yeast from the Weihenstephen. Ferments clean and malty, with rich residual maltiness in full gravity pilsners. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation 69-73%. (46-54ºF)
2206 Bavarian Lager Yeast Details Used by many German breweries to produce rich, full-bodied, malty beers. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation 73-77%. (48-58ºF)

2278 Czech Pilsner Lager Yeast


Classic pilsner strain from the choice for pilsners and bock beers. Sulfur produced during fermentation dissipates with conditioning. Flocculation -- medium to high; apparent attenuation -- 70-74%. (48-64ºF)
2308 Munich Lager Yeast. Details

A unique strain, capable of producing fine layers. Very smooth, well-rounded and full-bodied. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation -- 73-77%. (48-56ºF)


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3056 Bavarian Wheat Yeast. Details
Blend of top-fermenting ale and wheat strains producing mildly estery and phenolic wheat beers. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation -- 73-77%. (64-70ºF)
3068 Weihenstephan Weizen Yeast Details Unique top- fermenting yeast which produces the unique and spicy weizen character, rich with clove, vanilla and banana. Best results are achieved when fermentations are held around 68º F. Flocculation -- low; apparent attenuation -- 73-77%. (64-70ºF)
3333 German Wheat Yeast Details Subtle flavor profile for wheat yeast with sharp tart crispness, fruity, sherry-like palate. Flocculation -- high; apparent attenuation -- 70-76%. (63-75ºF)
3787 Trappist High Gravity Details Robust top cropping yeast with phenolic character. Alcohol tolerance to l2%. Ideal for Biere de Garde. Ferments dry with rich ester profile and malty palate. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation 75-80%. (64-78ºF)
3942 Belgian Wheat Beer Details Estery low phenol producing yeast from small Belgian brewery. Apple and plum like nose with dry finish. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation -- 72-76%. (64-74ºF)
3944 Belgian Witbier Yeast Details A tart, slightly phenolic character capable of producing distinctive witbiers and grand cru-style ales alike. Alcohol tolerant. Flocculation -- medium; apparent attenuation -- 72-76%. (60-75ºF)
3278 Belgian Lambic Blend Details Belgian Iambic-style yeast blend with lactic bacteria. Rich earthy aroma and acidic finish. Suitable for gueze, fruit beers and faro. Flocculation -- low to medium; apparent attenuation -- 65-75%. (63-75ºF)


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WLP001- California Ale Yeast: Details


This yeast is famous for its clean flavors, balance and ability to be used in almost any style ale. It accentuates the hop flavors and is extremely versatile.
Attenuation: 73-80%
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-73°F.
WLP002- English Ale Yeast: Details
A classic ESB strain from one of England's largest independent breweries. This yeast is best suited for English style ales including milds, bitters, porters, and English style stouts. This yeast will leave a beer very clear, and will leave some residual sweetness.
NOTE: Due to the high degree of flocculation, this yeast has a very clumpy appearance in the package.
Attenuation: 63-70%
Flocculation: Very High.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 65-68° F.
WLP003- German Ale Yeast II:

Good for Kölsch, Alt, and German style Pale Ales. Strong sulfur component will reduce with aging. Clean, but with more ester production than WLP029.
Attenuation: 73-80%%
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 65-70° F.
Does not ferment well less than 62° F.


WLP004- Irish Ale Yeast: Details

This is the yeast from one of the oldest stout producing breweries in the world. It produces a slight hint of diacetyl, balanced by a light fruitiness and slight dry crispness. Great for Irish ales, stouts, porters, browns, reds and a very interesting pale ale.
Attenuation: 69-74%.
Flocculation: Medium to High.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 65-68° F.

WLP005- British Ale Yeast: Details
This yeast is a little more attenuative than WLP002. Like most English strains, this yeast produces malty beers. Excellent for all English style ales including bitter, pale ale, porter, and brown ale.
Attenuation: 67-74%.
Flocculation: High.
Optimum fermentation temperature: 65-70° F.
WLP006- Bedford British Ale Yeast: Details

Ferments dry and flocculates very well. Produces a distinctive ester profile. Good choice for most English style ales including bitter, pale ale, porter, and brown ale.
Attenuation: 72-80%.
Flocculation: High.
Optimum fermentation temperature: 65-70° F.

(Platinum Strain: Available only in July & August)

WLP007- Dry English Ale Yeast:  Details
Clean, highly flocculant, and highly attenuative yeast. This yeast is similar to WLP002 in flavor profile, but is 10% more attenuative. This eliminates the residual sweetness, and makes the yeast well suited for high gravity ales. It is also reaches terminal gravity quickly. 80% attenuation will be reached even with 10% ABV beers.
Attenuation: 70-80%.
Flocculation: High.
Optimum fermentation temperature: 65-70° F.
WLP008- East Coast Ale Yeast: Details
Our "Brewer Patriot" strain can be used to reproduce many of the American versions of classic beer styles. Similar neutral character of WLP001, but less attenuation, less accentuation of hop bitterness, increased flocculation, and a little tartness. Very clean and low esters. Great yeast for golden, blonde, honey, pales and German alt style ales.
Attenuation: 70-75%.
Flocculation: Medium to Low.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-73° F.
WLP009- Australian Ale Yeast Details

Produces a clean, malty beer. Pleasant ester character, can be described as "bready". Can ferment successfully, and clean, at higher temperatures. This yeast combines good flocculation with good attenuation.
Flocculation: High
Ideal Fermentation Temperature Range: 65-70° F (Platinum Strain - Available January & February Only)

WLP011- European Ale Yeast: Details

Malty, Northern European-origin ale yeast. Low ester production, giving a clean profile. Little to no sulfur production. Low attenuation helps to contribute to the malty character. Good for Alt, Kolsch, malty English ales, and fruit beers.
Attenuation: 65-70%
Flocculation: Medium
Ideal Fermentation Temperature Range: 65-70° F

WLP013- London Ale Yeast: Details
Dry, malty ale yeast. Provides a complex, oakey ester character to your beer. Hop bitterness comes through well. This yeast is well suited for classic British pale ales, bitters, and stouts. Does not flocculate as much as WLP002 and WLP005.
Attenuation: 67-75%
Flocculation: Medium
Ideal Fermentation Temperature Range: 66-71° F
WLP023- Burton Ale Yeast: Details
From the famous brewing town of Burton upon Trent, England, this yeast is packed with character. It provides delicious subtle fruity flavors like apple, clover honey and pear. Great for all English styles, IPA's, bitters, and pales. Excellent in porters and stouts.
Attenuation: 69-75%.
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-73° F.
WLP028- Edinburgh Scottish Ale Yeast: Details
Scotland is famous for its malty, strong ales. This yeast can reproduce complex, flavorful Scottish style ales. This yeast can be an everyday strain, similar to WLP001. Hop character is not muted with this strain, as it is with WLP002.
Attenuation: 70-75%.
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 65-70° F.
Does not ferment well less than 62° F, unless active fermentation is underway. Some Scottish ales are fermented below 62F, but with this yeast strain, 65-65F will produce desired results.
WLP029- German Ale/Kölsch Yeast: Details
From a small brewpub in Cologne, Germany, this yeast works great in Kölsch and Alt style beers. Good for light beers like blond and honey. Accentuates hop flavors, similar to WLP001. The slight sulfur produced during fermentation will disappear with age and leave a super clean, lager like ale.
Attenuation: 72-78%
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 65-69° F.
Does not ferment well less than 62° F, unless during active fermentation.
WLP036- Dusseldorf Alt Yeast: Details

Traditional Alt yeast from Dusseldorf, Germany. Produces clean, slightly sweet alt beers. Does not accentuate hop flavor as WLP029 does.
Attenuation: 65-72%
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 65-69° F.

WLP051- California Ale V Yeast:  Details


From Northern California. This strain is more fruity than WLP001, and slightly more flocculant. Attenuation is lower, resulting in a fuller bodied beer than with WLP001.
Attenuation: 70-75%
Flocculation: Medium to High.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 66-70° F.
WLP099- Super High Gravity Ale Yeast: Details
Can ferment up to 25% alcohol. From England.
Attenuation: >80%
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 65-69° F.




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WLP300- Hefeweizen Ale Yeast: Details
This famous German yeast is a strain used in the production of traditional, authentic wheat beers. It produces the banana and clove nose traditionally associated with German wheat beers and leaves the desired cloudy look of traditional German wheat beers.
Attenuation: 72-76%
Flocculation: Low
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-72° F.

WLP320- American Hefeweizen Ale Yeast: Details


This yeast is used to produce the Oregon style American Hefeweizen. Unlike WLP300, this yeast produces a very slight amount of the banana and clove notes. It produces some sulfur, but is otherwise a clean fermenting yeast, which does not flocculate well, producing a cloudy beer.
Attenuation: 70-75%
Flocculation: Low.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 65-69° F.

WLP380- Hefeweizen IV Ale Yeast: Details
Large clove and phenolic aroma and flavor, with minimal banana. Refreshing citrus and apricot notes. Crisp, drinkable hefeweizen. Less flocculent than WLP300, and sulfur production is higher.
Attenuation: 73-80%
Flocculation: Low.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 66-70° F.
WLP400- Belgian Wit Ale Yeast: Details

Slightly phenolic and tart, this is the original yeast used to produce Wit in Belgium.
Attenuation: 74-78%
Flocculation: Low to Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 67-74° F.
WLP410- Belgian Wit II Ale Yeast: Details

Less phenolic than WLP400, and more spicy. Will leave a bit more sweetness, and flocculation is higher than WLP400. Use to produce Belgian Wit, Spiced Ales, Wheat Ales, and Specialty Beers.
Attenuation: 70-75%
Flocculation: Low to Medium+.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 67-74° F.

Platinum Strain - Available only in May & June

WLP500- Trappist Ale Yeast: Details
From one of the six Trappist breweries remaining in the world, this yeast produces the distinctive fruitiness and plum characteristics. Excellent yeast for high gravity beers, Belgian ales, dubbels and tripels.
Attenuation: 73-78%
Flocculation: Medium to low.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 65-70° F. Lower temperatures (under 65° F) will result in less fruity and more earthy beers. Many authentic Trappist style beers are brewed at 75° F.
WLP530- Abbey Ale Yeast: Details
Used to produce Trappist style beers. Similar to WLP500, but is less fruity and more alcohol tolerant (up to 15% ABV). Excellent yeast for high gravity beers, Belgian ales, dubbels and tripels.
Attenuation: 73-78%
Flocculation: Medium to high.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 66-72° F.
WLP550- Belgian Ale Yeast: Details
Saisons, Belgian Ales, Belgian Reds, Belgian Browns, and White beers are just a few of the classic Belgian beer styles that can be created with this yeast strain. Phenolic and spicy flavors dominate the profile, with less fruitiness then WLP500.
Attenuation: 72-78%
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-78° F.
WLP565- Belgian Saison I Yeast: Details
Classic Saison yeast from Wallonia. It produces earthy, peppery, and spicy notes. Slightly sweet. With high gravity saisons, brewers may wish to dry the beer with an alternate yeast added after 75% fermentation.
Attenuation: 65-75%
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-75° F.
WLP570- Belgian Golden Ale Yeast: Details

From East Flanders, versatile yeast that can produce light Belgian ales to high gravity Belgian beers (12% ABV). A combination of fruitiness and phenolic characteristics dominate the flavor profile. Some sulfur is produced during fermentation, which will dissipate following the end of fermentation.
Attenuation: 75-80%
Flocculation: Low.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-75° F.


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WLP800- Pilsner Lager Yeast: Details

Classic pilsner strain from the premier pilsner producer in the Czech Republic. Somewhat dry with a malty finish, this yeast is best suited for European pilsner production.
Attenuation: 72-77%
Flocculation: Medium to High.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 50-55°F.

WLP802- Czech Budejovice Lager Yeast: Details
Pilsner lager yeast from Southern Czech Republic. Produces dry and crisp lagers, with low diacetyl production.
Attenuation: 75-80%
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 50-55° F.
WLP810- San Francisco Lager Yeast: Details
This yeast is used to produce the "California Common" style beer. A unique lager strain which has the ability to ferment up to 65 degrees while retaining lager characteristics. Can also be fermented down to 50 degrees for production of marzens, pilsners and other style lagers.
Attenuation: 65-70%
Flocculation: High.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 58-65°F.
WLP820- Octoberfest/Märzen Lager Yeast: Details
This yeast produces a very malty, bock like style. It does not finish as dry as WLP830. This yeast is much slower in the first generation than WLP830, so we encourage a larger starter to be used the first generation or schedule a longer lagering time.
Attenuation: 65-73%
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 52-58°F.
WLP830- German Lager Yeast: Details

This yeast is one of the most widely used lager yeasts in the world. Very malty and clean, great for all German lagers, pilsner, oktoberfest, and marzen.
Attenuation: 74-79%.
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 50-55°F.

WLP838- Southern German Lager Yeast: Details

This yeast is characterized by a malty finish and balanced aroma. It is a strong fermentor, produces slight sulfur, and low diacetyl.
Attenuation: 68-76%.
Flocculation: Medium to High.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 50-55° F.

WLP840- American Lager Yeast: Details

This yeast is used to produce American style lagers. Dry and clean with a very slight apple fruitiness. Sulfur and diacetyl production is minimal.
Attenuation: 75-80%.
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 50-55°F.

WLP885- Zurich Lager Yeast: Details

Swiss style lager yeast. With proper care, this yeast can be used to produce lager beer over 11% ABV. Sulfur and diacetyl production is minimal. Original culture provided to White Labs by Marc Sedam.
Attenuation: 70-80%.
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 50-55° F

Platinum Strain - Available only in September & October

WLP920- Old Bavarian Lager Yeast: Details

From Southern Germany, this yeast finishes malty with a slight ester profile. Use in beers such as Oktoberfest, Bock, and Dark Lagers.
Attenuation: 66-73%
Flocculation: Medium.
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 50-55° F.

Platinum Strain - Available only in November & December

WLP940- Mexican Lager Yeast: Details

From Mexico City, this yeast produces clean lager beer, with a crisp finish. Good for Mexican style light lagers, as well as dark lagers.
Attenuation: 70-78%
Flocculation: Medium
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 50-55°

Platinum Strain - Available only in March & April



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Safbrew T-58 (10 grams) Details At last a dried yeast for brewing Belgian ales & wheat beers! Safbrew T-58 is a spicy finishing yeast strain, which should complement these unique beers nicely! New!!!
Windsor Ale Yeast - 11 grams Details A malty finishing strain, making it an ideal choice for a brown ales, milds, non-German wheat beers, room temperature fermented bocks & doppelbocks. Somewhat slow to clarify.
Munich Wheat Yeast - 11 grams Details
Quick start and vigorous fermentation, which can be completed in 4 days above 63°F/17°C.
• Medium to high attenuation.
• Fermentation rate, fermentation time and degree of attenuation are dependent on inoculation density, yeast handling, fermentation temperature and the nutritional quality of the wort.
• Munich is a non flocculent strain. In classic open fermentation vessels, the yeast can be skimmed off the top. Some settling can be promoted by cooling and use of fining agents and isinglass.
• Aroma is estery to both palate and nose with typical banana notes. Does not display malodours when properly handled. Munich yeast has found widespread use in the production of German Weizen and Hefeweizen.
• Munich yeast is best used at traditional ale temperatures after rehydration in the recommended manner.
Safale S-04 Ale Yeast - 11.5 grams 2967176 Similar to Manchester yeast, this strain is also medium-dry and somewhat fruity It is a good choice for British style ales, i.e. bitters, brown ales, old ales, porters, & stouts, etc.
Nottingham Ale Yeast - 11 grams Details A fairly neutral-tasting yeast strain, imparting little of its own character in the finished product. This strain finishes dry and clears rapidly.
Cooper's Australian Ale Yeast - 7 grams 296778 A fairly versatile, all-purpose ale yeast strain used in a number of Cooper's Malt Extract Kits. This strain does finish somewhat fruity.



How To Brew A Typical First Batch of Beer


6 gallon primary fermenter w/lid   
5 gallon secondary fermenter w/stopper OR       
6 gallon priming pail w/spigot
fermentation lock   
54 x 12 oz. or 29 x 22 oz. beer bottles    
large kettle (12 - 20 qts.)   
syphoning equipment   
bottle caps & capper

6 - 7 lbs. unhopped malt extract syrup or 5 - 6 lbs. dried malt extract
1 pkg. Water Salts (optional)
1 - 2 oz. hops
1 pkg. top fermenting yeast
3/4 cup corn sugar (for priming)
1 pkg. Bru-Vigor (optional yeast food-for tap water)

1.  SANITIZE YOUR EQUIPMENT! This will save you the heartache of dumping out a contaminated batch of beer. Use Iodophor iodine sanitizer [1 Tbs. (2 capfuls)/5 gallon cold water].  An alternative is unscented chlorine bleach [1 oz. (2 Tbs)/gallon cold water] on equipment directly before use (and after), rinsing with hot tap water. Don’t leave plastic in contact with bleach solutions for long periods of time or you will have bleach beer.  Yuck!
2.  Immerse the bag of syrup in a hot water bath in your sink to soften up the contents.
3.  Bring two gallons of water to boil in an enameled or stainless steel kettle. Avoid aluminum, as it may leave a bad metallic taste.
4.  Cut off one corner of the bag of syrup, and pour the contents into the kettle. Now add the water salts. Stir thoroughly.  Undissolved malt has a nice habit of sinking to the bottom and burning.
5.  Bring the mixture (now known as “wort”)  back to a boil. Add 1 oz. bittering hops.  The mixture will foam up at first, so be careful and reduce the heat when it rises up. This will save you major stovetop cleaning.
6.  Maintain a rolling boil for 40 minutes.
7.  Add 1/2 oz. of the flavoring hops now and boil an additional 10 minutes.  
8.  Turn off the heat and add 1/2 oz. of the aroma hops.  Cool the wort immediately by placing the kettle in your sink with 6-8 inches of cold water. Let sit about 20 - 30 minutes, if necessary change out the cooling bath after 10 to 15 minutes.   A tray or two of ice in this second bath can help speed things up.
9.  While the wort is cooling, sprinkle the dried yeast into 1/2 cup of body temperature water (94°-100°). Cover with Saran Wrap or aluminum foil. Yeast should absorb water and foam up.  This is also an excellent time to sanitize your primary fermenter (the pail).
10. *Pour the cooled wort into the primary fermenter and add cold water to bring the volume up to 5 gallons. Stir well and take a hydrometer reading. The initial specific gravity (S.G.) should be between 1.042 - 1.049.  To correct for temperature, add .001 for every 7° above 60°F.  Write this down.
11. When the wort is cooler than 85° F (70 - 75° is better!), add the yeast solution.  If using tap water, sprinkle Bru-Vigor onto the wort. Snap on the airtight lid securely.  Fill the airlock half full of water and fit into the black rubber grommet on the lid.

12. Allow to ferment 3 - 4 days. Do not remove the lid during this period. Room temperature should be 60° - 80° (ideal is 65° - 70°). During initial fermentation a dense, rocky head will form, leaving a “scuz” line about an inch above the beer when it subsides.  After the 3 - 4 days, if the rocky head has subsided, the beer is ready to be racked (syphoned) into the secondary fermenter. Check the S.G. with your hydrometer.  It should read less than 1.020.  After syphoning, insert the fermentation lock into the stopper and attach to jug.  Allow to ferment and settle until the action has (virtually) ceased and the beer has clarified (usually 1 to 2 weeks).  Check the S.G. once again:  it should be 1.013 or less (write this down as well). If the gravity is greater than 1.016, call us BEFORE you bottle!  
13. Pour the priming sugar into a small saucepan with a cup of water, and bring to a boil.  An alternative is to place the sugar & water into a pyrex cup and microwave for a couple of minutes.  Meanwhile, sanitize your primary fermenter or or your priming pail with spigot.
14. Syphon the beer into the primary/priming pail while slowly mixing in the sugar syrup. Stir well without excessive splashing.
15. Start the syphon once more, then clamp the flow off and attach the spring-loaded bottle filler.  Release the hose clamp.  No beer should flow until you push the filler down in the bottle, thus opening the spring tip.  Fill the bottles to the brim, and when you remove the filler, it should leave the proper amount of head space in each bottle.  Now cap the bottles.
16. Allow to age upright at room temperature for at least 15 days. Peak flavor is reached after 4 - 8 weeks, if you can wait that long.
17. Chill (upright) and serve. Pour carefully so as not to disturb the small amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottles.


12.  Allow to ferment one week. Do not remove the lid during this period. Room temperature should be 60° - 80° (ideal is 65° - 70°). During initial fermentation a dense, rocky head will form, leaving a “scuz” line about an inch above the beer when it subsides. Visible action will probably cease after 2 or 3 days, but allow to ferment and settle for the entire week!  Check the S.G. once again:  it should be 1.013 or less (write this down as well). If the gravity is greater than 1.016, call us BEFORE you bottle!  
13. Pour the priming sugar into a small saucepan with a cup of water, and bring to a boil.  An alternative is to place the sugar & water into a pyrex cup and microwave for a couple of minutes.  Meanwhile, sanitize your primary fermenter or or your priming pail with spigot.
14. Syphon the beer into the primary/priming pail while slowly mixing in the sugar syrup. Stir well without excessive splashing.
15. Attach the spring-loaded bottle filler with the short length of tubing to the spigot on the priming vessel.  Turn the spigot to “Open.”  No beer should flow until you push the filler down in the bottle, thus opening the spring tip.  Fill the bottles to the brim, and when you remove the filler, it should leave the proper amount of head space in each bottle.  Now cap the bottles.
16. Allow to age upright at room temperature for at least 15 days. Peak flavor is reached after 4 - 8 weeks, if you can wait that long.
17. Chill (upright) and serve. Pour carefully so as not to disturb the small amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottles.

* To speed the process up, we recommend that you place a couple of gallons of water into the
refrigerator the night before you plan on brewing.  Use this water to bring the volume up to 5
gallons in the primary fermenter.  This cold water will allow you to pour your cooling wort into the
fermenter when it is down to only body temperature (98°F) rather than 70 - 80°F.

How To Make A Yeast Starter



Hold pouch in one hand, firmly "clapping" with the other. Feel pouch to make sure that inner bubble has burst. Shake pouch vigorously for a few minutes. Keep pouch at room temperature (65º-80º F) to allow culture to grow. Pouch should swell as fermentation occurs. If pouch swells too fast, move to a cooler environment. Avoid temperatures over 85º F.


Simmer 2 tablespoons of malt extract & a half dozen hop pellets in two cups of water. Cool briefly and pour into a sanitized 750 ml wine or 22 oz. beer bottle, adding yeast nutrient if desired. Top bottle with an airlock and #2 stopper, allowing starter to cool to room temperature. Shake vigorously to aerate the starter. Use a flame to sterilize the mouth of the bottle and dip the corner of the pouch (Wyeast) or the vial (White Labs) in sanitizing solution. Snip corner of swollen Wyeast pouch or simply unscrew White Labs cap. Pour contents of pouch into bottle and replace the airlock. Store at room temperature. Fermentation should begin within 24 hours.


Once wort has been boiled and cooled, aerate it by shaking / rocking the primary fermenter vigorously for a few minutes to add more dissolved oxygen. Allow about 15 minutes for trub to resettle. Agitate your starter to rouse any sediment and add entire mixture to the wort... The yeast will acclimate to their new environment and use any dissolved oxygen to reproduce. Once the oxygen is exhausted, fermentation begins. This la g time (the time between adding the yeast and the onset of fermentation) should be between 3 and 24 hours.


  • Yeast starters are highly recommeded for all Wyeast "smack-packs!" Fermentation will begin and finish much more rapidly bydramatically increasing the pitching rate of your yeast.
  • If you are brewing strong beers (i.e. with gravities beginning over 1.070), starters are even more highly recommended. These worts require higher pitching rates of yeast and more aeration after cooling.
  • It is generally not necessary to make a yeast starter for the White Labs Pitchable Brewers Yeast. Still, if you are brewing a lager, high gravity wort or if your yeast is over 6 - 8 weeks old, it is recommended to prepare a yeast starter.
  • Please note that lager yeasts work noticeably faster if a yeast starter is utilized.
  • The limiting factors in minimizing lag time are the amounts of nutrients, dissolved oxygen and yeast. Yeast nutrient is recommended for extract based batches, though usually not necessary for all grain batches. Agitating your primary fermenter to oxygenate your wort usually works well for home-sized fermentations. If you have problems with stuck fermentations (beers that do not fully attenuate), you may wish to seek ways of adding more oxygen to your cooled wort (i.e.: aquarium pumps). One pint of actively fermenting yeast starter is sufficient for 5 gallons. Using the Wyeast package without a starter will result in lag times of 2 - 4 days - more than enough time for wild yeast and bacteria to establish themselves. It only takes a few cells of these organisms to make their presence known through filminess, cloudiness, off-flavors or outright spoilage. A healthy yeast starter will begin fermentation faster, retarding many of these organisms through the lowering of pH and production of alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Figuring Out Yields From Brewing Ingredients


With one pound of each of the following ingredients dissolved in water to make up a total volume of one gallon, you should expect the following specific gravities:

Dried malt extract - 1.042
Malt extract syrup - 1.036
Corn sugar - 1.036
Cane sugar - 1.042
Brown sugar - 1.042
Honey - 1.036
Brewery Grade Corn Syrup - 1.036
Rice Syrup - 1.036
Rice Syrup Solids - 1.042
Brewer's Pale Malt - 1.025 - 1.030 (depending upon your efficiency!)
Munich malt - 1.022 - 1.027
(depending upon your efficiency!)
Wheat malt - 1.025 - 1.030 (depending upon your efficiency!)
Cara-pils/Dextrine malt - 1.024
Crystal malt - 1.015
Black malt/Chocolate malt - 1.010

Okay, how do you use this information? Easy! Simply multiply the last two digits on the gravity for each ingredient in your recipe by the number of pounds, add these amounts together and divide this total by the number of gallons.

For example: Let's say we have a pale ale recipe that calls for two 3.3 lbs. cans of light malt extract (hopped or unhopped makes no difference), a pound of crystal malt and a half pound of pale malt. What should we expect the original to be? First, let's multiply the weight in pounds of the malt extract times 1.036 (actually, let's drop the 1.0 part to make the arithmetic easier). That equals 237.6. Let's add this number to the value from the crystal malt (1 X 15 =15) and the value from the pale malt (1/2 X 25 = 12.5). Altogether that is 237.6 + 15.0 + 12.5 = 265.1. Divide this sum by the number of gallons in this recipe (5) and you get 53.02. This means that the original gravity should be approximately 1.053. These same ingredients brewed into a six gallon recipe should yield a brew with an original gravity around 1.044(265/6 = 44 or, as we would say, 1.044). On the other hand these same ingredients would produce a beer with an O.G. of about 1.066 if brewed in only four gallons (265/4 = 66 or 1.066). These numbers are only approximations, but they can be quite helpful when trying to formulate recipes. Obviously, as more refined and processed ingredients (e.g. malt extract, sugars, honey) are replaced with less refined ingredients (grains), then these numbers are much more variable. The yields will greatly depend upon your efficiency in the mashing and sparging processes. Still this chart should prove to be a helpful tool.

How To Keg Your Homebrew


--Over the past forty years we have seen more homebrewers leave the hobby over the tedium of bottle washing more than any other single factor. Let's face it, the novelty and excitement of the new hobby lasts about as long as it takes to clean up, de-label, sanitize, and rinse those first couple of cases of beer bottles. Suddenly it occurs to you, "Hey, this is work!" After you get the routine down, it's not quite so bad, but still it's no fun. Some of us even develop "bottle-phobia," and we'll postpone bottling beer for weeks and weeks just because we can't bring ourselves to go through yet another bottle washing session. Kegging beer is the natural remedy to this dreaded disease. I'll try to briefly outline the basic kegging process.

--Step #1- Equip Yourself! - First you need to procure your equipment.  Here's a list of what a typical draught beer system requires:
5 gallon stainless steel soda canisters.
CO2 tank
Regulator to step the pressure down from 600 - 900 psi to 5 - 30 psi
3' - 6' Gas Line (generally 5/16" ID) to go from regulator to gas quick-disconnect
Pair of Quick-Disconnect (one gas - one beverage) & matching nuts & hose nipples
6' beer line (3/16" ID)
Faucet for dispensing (either handheld "picnic" tap or metal door or tower mount)

As for the 5 gallon stainless steel soda canisters, these may be purchased from your friendly local homebrew shop or occasionally scrounged through a restaurant or bar business (this is getting increasingly difficult as these establishments have largely gone over to disposable "bag-in-a-box" systems). Once upon a time, commercial establishments received syrup in these containers. One of the first tasks is to eliminate the residual odor left behind by the syrup. A thorough cleaning is a good start but usually doesn't completely do the job. Not to worry, as you can replace the large "0" ring on the lid and get rid of almost all residual smell. --Note that there are two different styles of soda canisters. Coca Cola uses what we call "pin-lock fittings" and most other brands use what we call "ball-lock fittings." The kegs appear to be very similar at first glance, but upon closer inspection you will notice some apparent differences in the type of posts used. The Coke kegs have both posts at one side on top of the canister (one has two small pins and the other has three small pins on the posts). The other kind, General Beverage, have the posts opposite each other on top with no pins at all. We can't honestly say that one type is superior to the other, but if you start with one style you will likely want to stick with it. The different styles require different types of quick-disconnects, although these "Q-D's" are fitted with identical threading, so you may swap them out if you have both kinds of kegs. Also, note that the General Beverage canisters tend to be slimmer and slightly taller than Coke canisters, so if space restrictions are a consideration, keep that in mind.

--Step #2 - Keep It Clean!
Clean the keg. In order to do this you must first release any pressure that still may be in the keg. Hopefully your kegs will come equipped with a pressure release valve and pull ring (this is much more common on ball-lock kegs). This would certainly simplify things, as all you have to do is pull on the ring and hold it until all of the hissing is finished. If your keg is not equipped with a manual relief valve, then you'll have to release the pressure through the "gas in" post. With a small screwdriver, depress the center, inner spring-loaded part of the "in" post. This post will be clearly marked on the "ball-lock" Pepsi or General Beverage canisters and will be the two-pin post on the Coke canisters. Get it right the first time, as a mistake can easily result in a face covered with soda syrup or beer sediment. After all the pressure has been relieved, you may now open up the lid and lift it out. Several rinses with hot tap water will take care of most of the gunk inside. A nylon or stainless steel scrubbing pad will speed up the cleaning process. (The Frugal Brewer from D.C. suggests a toilet brush...We suggest using on a new one!!!). After the keg is meticulously clean, it is time to sanitize it. Add 1 oz. (2 tablespoons) of either Iodophor or Star San to the keg and fill up with lukewarm water.  In a real pinch, you can add 1/2 cup chlorine bleach instead of the Iodophor or Star San.  However,  a word of caution is in order here: CHLORINE BLEACH ATTACKS STAINLESS STEEL - DO NOT EXCEED AN OUNCE OF BLEACH PER GALLON OF WATER AND ESPECIALLY DO NOT LEAVE THIS SANITIZING SOLUTION IN THE KEG OVERNIGHT!! Ten minutes of contact time should be sufficient! After you have filled the keg up with sanitizing solution, affix lid and pressurize. Now, depress the inner part of the "out" post with a screwdriver. This will fill the pick-up tube with the sanitizing solution. Turn keg on its side and repeat process with the "in" post. Allow the solution to stay in contact for about 10 minutes, then discard. You can use iodophor or Star San as "no rinse" sanitizers, but many of us still prefer to rinse (note: you will absolutely want to rinse if you have used bleach!)  Now fill the keg up with hot tap water to rinse out the sanitizer. Repeat the above process with the rinse solution to rinse both tubes. Discard this rinse solution and give the keg a couple of additional rinses with hot water. I've been known to use my bottle washer for this. I hold the keg over the washer and activate the "trigger" with my free hand.

--Step #3: - Transferring your beer into the keg.
The simplest way to do this is to syphon the beer from the secondary into the keg, just like bottling (only easier and quicker). Instead of using glass carboys, some homebrewers have been known to cut 1/2" to 1" off the pick-up tubes and then use these canisters as secondary fermenters. An airlock can be made by hooking up the "in" post to a short length of tubing and immersing the end of the tubing in a jar of sanitizing solution. We strongly recommend that you "pop" some CO2 onto the beer after you transfer, and before hooking up the "air-lock." This is to insure that the lid will seat properly and all gas must escape through the air lock rather than around the lid. When you need to transfer the beer from the secondary canister to the serving canister, simply rig up a "jumper tube" that goes from one "out" post to the other. The beer is pushed out of the secondary with a little CO2 pressure while bleeding off the the pressure slightly (using the relief valve or "in" post) on the receiving canister. The result will be a little lower pressure in the receiving canister, causing the beer to flow from the secondary to the receiving canister. Don't bleed off the gas too fast or it will cause the beer to foam in the receiving canister and spew out the "in" post or relief valve. The whole idea here is to minimize exposure of the beer to it's arch-enemy: air. The shortened tube will reduce the amount of sediment picked up during the transfer.

--Step #4: Carbonation
Traditional "natural carbonation" practice - At this point is to either: add the priming sugar in the keg (1/4 to 1/2 cup for 5 gallons). If you are going from keg to keg, I suggest you add the priming sugar to the receiving keg first, and then "purge" the keg of as much air as possible by hooking up your CO2 tank to the "out" post of the canister and bleeding off the pressure through the relief valve or "in" post. CO2, being heavier than air will tend to blanket the bottom and help push the air out the "in" post or relief valve. Now transfer your beer. If you are syphoning, add the priming sugar (a simple syrup is nice, but not necessary) and syphon your beer on top. Once the keg is full, re-seat the lid on top and pull the bail down. Make sure the lid is perfectly lined up and is not skewed off to one side or the other, as this can cause leakage. Now comes an important step: Once the beer and priming sugar are in the keg and it is sealed off, hook up your CO2 tank and "pop" some pressure in the keg. This will seat the lid well and minimize problems with small leaks. Now that your beer is sealed up, all that remains to do is to store the keg at normal conditioning temperatures for the usual amount of time. Once it is properly matured, you have only to chill it down and hook up the CO2 tank to the "in" post, adjust the dispensing pressure to 10 - 15 psi, then attach the faucet tapper to the "out" post.


"Force-carbonation" the beer - Our preferred method is to "force carbonate" the beer.  This will by-pass the sugar addition at kegging time.  Simply transfer the beer to the canister, then hook up the CO2 to the "out" post while bleeding some pressure off the relief valve and/or "in" post. Again this is to purge out as much air as possible while blanketing the brew with C02. After a few seconds of bleeding off, I let go and allow the CO2 to continue to gurgle up through the beer for a minute or so before disconnecting. This will insure a good, tight seal. Now chill the beer down to refrigeration temperature.  Next, swap out your gas fitting on the regulator hose with the beverage fitting (This is only temporary).  Next, crank up your regulator to 30 psi and attach the gas to the "out" post on the keg. It should start gurgling immediately. Now comes the fun part: start rocking the canister back and forth for three to five minutes. The shaking action allows the CO2 to be absorbed into solution more rapidly than if you simply hooked it up and left it alone. After the 3 to 5 minute period is up, disconnect the CO2 and re-chill the beer overnight. The next day bleed off any excess head pressure that may still be left and hook up the keg system in the normal fashion,  (Remember to re-adjust the dispensing pressure to 10 - 15 psi). The advantages of this method are obvious: 1) it's quick, in 48 hours you have carbonated beer, 2) it's easy to control the amount of carbonation simply by adjusting the force carbonating pressure and time, and 3) it does not produce any yeast sediment. To each their own. I guess. Some people just wouldn't consider this "natural."

--Step #5:  Dispensing

Here you have another choice to make: Do you wish to drill a hole in the refrigerator door and mount a metal shank and faucet or will a simple "picnic" tapper suffice? Some people are reluctant to drill holes in their fridge, plus the door mount set-up costs significantly more than the simple hand tapper. The hand tapper is obviously more portable, but the door tap is more convenient. Another decision is whether or not to keep the C02 tank inside or outside the fridge. If you keep it inside, you will not need to drill yet another hole in the side of the fridge. By keeping the tank and regulator on the outside you will leave more space on the inside for another keg, and by keeping the regulator out of the cool, moist environment you may prolong its useful lifespan.
--The first glass or so you draw may be cloudy and you may wish to discard it. But if you've done a good job clarifying the beer before kegging it, this should not be major problem. If the beer is way too fizzy, bleed the excess pressure with the relief valve pull ring or by depressing the "in" post. After a little practice, you'll get the hang of it... it's really not difficult. Lately, our kegging customers are increasingly by-passing the priming stage entirely by "force carbonating" the beer.

--Step #6: Bottles?
What???  I thought we were getting away from bottles!  Believe it or not, many people who keg their own beer like to have a few bottles for competitions, tasters, saving for longer maturation, etc. By far and away, the easiest way to do this is to first dose each bottle with a measured amount of corn sugar (initially try a rounded 1/2 tsp. per 12 oz. bottle, 3/4 tsp. per 16 oz. bottle, and a rounded tsp. per champagne bottle or 22 oz. beer bottle - slightly more if you prefer dried malt extract). Using a funnel, spoon in the priming sugar. Now syphon the beer onto the priming sugar using your standard bottling techniques. Cap the bottle and give it a little shake to dissolve the priming sugar. After you've finished the bottling part, simply syphon the balance of the beer into the keg and proceed normally. What happens if you've already kegged the beer and you decide that you want to bottle some? This is not a problem if you have a counter-pressure bottle filler (ask us about assembling or purchasing and using one). Without one of these little gems, you will have to fake it using a "poor man's" counter-pressure bottle filler. To construct one of these handy little gadgets, all you need is a plastic hand "picnic" tapper onto which you attach about two inches of 3/8" ID plastic hose to the "faucet" part of the tapper. Now attach a 12" - 15" length of copper or rigid plastic tubing fitted with #2 drilled rubber stopper to the open end of the flexible tubing. You are now ready to fill bottles! First, you need to slide the rubber stopper up or down so that when inserted into the bottle, the rigid tube goes almost to the bottom of the bottle while at the same time the stopper snugs securely around the lip of the bottle. Now open the tapper full blast to the "locked" open position. Initially, the beer should flow freely until the bottle is about halfway full or so. Gradually, as the pressure in the bottle builds up to nearly to same as in the keg, the flow will virtually stop. Now, "pinch" the rubber stopper around the lip of the bottle to "burp" a little pressure off in the bottle. Now the beer should flow again, (if slowly). Keep "burping" the stopper until the bottle nearly full. Now return the tapper lever to the "off' position, and remove the filler, and cap.

--All this talk of bottling has made my bottle-phobia act up again. If you're like most of us keggers, you'll soon break out in sweat at the prospect of washing another bottle. Fortunately, those days are almost behind you now!  If you're ready to take the plunge, and forsake your bottles for the ease of kegging, click below:

Homebrew Draft Systems

Basic Brew Recipe List


Here you will find a list of our renown Basic Brew Recipes.  You will find they encompass the broad spectrum of beer styles from all over the globe.  While we are continually refining and adding new recipes, many of our original recipes from the early to mid 1990's are found within.  If you don't see a recipe for a style of beer that you would like us to produce, drop us a note.  We'll see if we can't come up with a medal winner for you!  Please note, we are trying to put a recipe sheet for each individual recipe for all of our Basic Brew Recipes, as opposed to a "general procedure" as we have done in the past.  In addition, we are also adding all-grain options to each recipe, as well.  This has proven to be a formidable task and has taken us a while. We appreciate your patience. We're now approximately 80% of the way through the recipe additions.  Please note that some of the lager recipes do not yet have the full set of instructions, just a list of the ingredients.  We're working towards completing these, as well.  We have broken down our recipes into three categories: Ale Recipes, Lager Recipes, & Special Style Recipes. Click on the hot link for the particular recipe you are seeking.


Session Farmhouse Ale
Gumby Head American Wheat Ale
Ole Yeller Rose IPA
Every Day IPA
Even Bigger Ass Texas Brown Ale
Aint Wonder Alt Beer


Cream Ale
Golden Ale
Canadian Ale
Sparkling Aussie Golden Ale
Imperial Cream Ale
Kölsch (German Light Ale)
Alt Bier (Dark German Ale)
British Ordinary Bitter
Boddy Bitter
British Best Bitter
Extra Special Bitter (ESB)
Irish Red Ale
Scottish 80/ Shilling Ale
110/ Shilling Strong Scottish Ale
Wee Heavy Scotch Ale
English Mild Ale
English Brown Ale
Stock Old Ale
American Brown Ale
Big Ass Texas Brown Ale
Arrogant Strong Brown Ale
Imperial Texas Black IPA
Better Red Than Dead Imperial Red Ale
India Pale Ale (IPA)
Imperial IPA
Texas Ranger IPA
Cletus Spuckler Toothless RyePA
Trudging Across The Tundra White IPA
Belgian Imperial Golden IPA
American Pale Ale (APA)
Red Otter
Northwest Red Ale
American Amber Ale
American Standard Bitter
Flat Tyre Amber Ale
Catcher in the Rye Pale Ale
British Porter
American Porter
Baltic Porter
Dry Irish Stout
Oatmeal Stout
Sweet Stout
Imperial Stout
Winter Warmer Barleywine

Third Coast Barleywine
St. Almost Amber Ale

St. Almost Brown Ale

St. Almost Christmas Ale

Old Hophead Holiday Ale (Celebration-style)
Pedro The Welder Imperial IPA
Scottish Wee Heavy
Buxom Blonde Ale
Black Crack Imperial Stout


Similar To The Lager

Pennsylvania Amber Lager
American Pilsner Lager
Grandad’s Pre-Prohibition Lager
Lonely Star Texas Lager
Texas Bock
Malt Liquor
Son of Sam New England Lager
Steam Beer
Mexican Cerveza Clara (Corona)
Mexican Amber Cerveza XX
Mexican Dark Cerveza
Czech Pilsner
Kiss My Heinie Dutch Lager
Sgt. Schultz German Pilsner
Dortmunder Export Lager
Munich Helles
Munich Dunkel
German Schwarzbier Black Lager
Vienna Amber Lager
German Bock
German Double Bock
German May Bock (Pale Bock)
Rauch Bier (Smoked Lager)
Baltic Porter


Hefeweizen (German Wheat Beer)
Dunkelweizen (German Dark Wheat Beer)
Weizenbock (Strong Dark Wheat Beer)
Honey Wheat Beer
Lemon Ginger Wheat Beer
Braggot (Honey Beer)
Smooth Honey Brown Ale
VZ EZ Honey Amber Ale
Texas/Belgian Wit
Beeriac’s Man For All Saisons Ale
Devil’s Den Strong Belgian Golden Ale
Ned Flander’s Brown Ale
Trappist Single
Trappist Dubbel
Trappist Tripel
St. Celibate Quadruple Abbey Ale
Catcher in the Rye Pale Ale
Old Hophead Holiday Ale (Celebration-style)
Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice Christmas Beer
St. Almost Christmas Ale
The Great Pumpkin Ale
Rooty, Tooty, Fresh, & Fruity Ale
Smoked Porter
Mr. Coffee Porter
David’s Double Chocolate Stout
West Coast/Belgian IPA
Old Woody (Oak-Aged Stock Ale)
Gluten-Free Beer

World of Homebrewing

Welcome to our Homebrewing Information Center!  Here you will find plenty of information to help you along your way in this fascinating hobby of homebrewing.  Currently, our topics include the following:

Brewing Your First Batch of Beer (Super easy approach to producing a successful batch even on your first try!)

Homebrewing Yeast Strains (Homebrewing least understood and under-appreciated area.  It's the Fungus Among Us!)

How to Make a Yeast Starter (The more active, viable yeast you pitch, the fewer problems you're going to have and the sooner you'll be drinking good homebrew!)

Using Grains (A description of the various grains and what they contribute to the beer)

Introduction to Mashing (A primer for getting started in "scratch" brewing)

Brewing Ingredient Yields (A lesson on how to approximate original gravities from a list of ingredients & how to select ingredients to hit target original gravities)

Hop Varieties (So many hop varieties, so little time!)

Keg Your Homebrew (Washing bottles sucks!)

Hydrometer Instructions (Yes, it does matter!)

One Gallon Malt Extract with Grain Brewing Instructions (Conquering the world 10 bottles at a time)


Tips For Lagering Beer

Tips For Lagering Beer

If you are ready to make the leap from room temperature ale production to temperature-controlled lager fermentation, you'll need a second-hand refrigerator, an analog or digital over-ride thermostat and your normal double stage fermentation equipment.  Below you will find a few tips for the beginning lager brewer:

1. Make a yeast starter.  Lagers and strong beers need more viable yeast than regular strength ales.  Strong lagers need a massive amount of viable yeast.

2. Brew your beer in your usual manner.  Try to chill the wort down to 65 - 70° F before pitching the yeast.  Aerate your wort very thoroughly.

3. Allow the wort to remain at that 65 - 70° F range until you can see visible signs of fermentation (e.g. the air lock is beginning to slowly bubble).  This typically takes over night (~12 hours) or so.*

4. Once fermentation has begun, drop the fermentation temperature to 48 - 55°F for most lagers.

5. Allow the fermentation to proceed at that 48 - 55°F range until fermentation tapers off  to a point to where there is very little noticeable activity.

6. Check the specific gravity of the beer.  It should be near the predicted final gravity for the recipe.  If not, warm the beer up by 3 - 5°.  This should kick it off, again.

7. Once the specific gravity is within several degrees of the predicted final specific gravity, raise the fermentation temperature to 62 - 66°F.  This is referred to as the diacetyl rest.  Its purpose is to squeeze the last bit of fermentation out of the wort, thereby reducing any remaining diacetyl (a naturally occurring compound that makes the beer tastes like butter or butterscotch) left in the beer.

8. After one to three days at this raised temperature, and the fermentation seems to be done, rack (syphon) the beer into the secondary fermenter.  Immediately drop the temperature down to about 50°F.

9. Lower the aging temperature about 3°F per day until you’ve reached 32°F.  Some brewers swear by crashing the temperature immediately to 32°F, bypassing the gradual reduction in temperature.

10. Age the beer at near freezing temperatures for at least a month.  A good rule of thumb is to plan on lagering (cold-storing) the beer for one week for every .010 specific gravity points of original gravity.  For example, if the original specific gravity was 1.060, then plan on lagering the beer for six weeks.

11. If you are bottling, syphon your fully lagered beer into the priming bucket, adding the 3/4 cup priming sugar (or 1 1/4 cups of dried malt extract) dissolved in boiling water.  We also recommend that you rehydrate a package of dried lager yeast in a half cup of lukewarm water for ten minutes, then mixing this yeast solution into the fermented beer/priming sugar solution.  Mix thoroughly and bottle in the usual fashion.  Leave at room temperature for 24 hours before chilling down to 48 - 55°F for carbonation.  Once beer is fully carbonated, chill to 32°F until you drink it.

12. If you are kegging, simply syphon beer from secondary fermenter into soda canister and immediately force carbonate.

13. Beer should be ready to drink as soon as it is carbonated.

* If re-pitching yeast from a previous batch, you may proceed directly to the fermentation temperatures at 48 - 55°F and adding the yeast, thereby bypassing the starter and the initial room temperature phases.

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