Full Recipe: https://www.clawhammersupply.com/blogs/moonshine-still-blog/juicy-neipa-new-england-ipa-recipe Brew System: https://amzn.to/2obUtZC Bucket Opener: https://www.clawhammersupply.com/collections/all-products/products/bucket-opener The New England IPA has become a really popular beer recently, so we decided to brew up a Juicy NEIPA that really shows off the best parts about this style of beer. Note, if we brewed this recipe again, we’d omit the lemon drop hops. Read
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I’ve changed a few things on my RIMS system, so I decided to re-program my PID by using its Auto-Tune function. Here’s a quick video of the PID heating up the water and figuring out its settings. Rebel Scum Brewing Kalamazoo, Michigan
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Episode 89 | Join the Primary Fermenters homebrew club as members press thousands of pounds of apples to make their own hard cider, then get together to taste some of the ciders made from the must. Support Chop & Brew via Patreon https://www.patreon.com/chopandbrew Looking for more information on making your own hard cider at home?
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ALL GRAIN BROWN ALE: 4.9% abv OG: 1.048 FG: 1.011 60 MINUTE BOIL BATCH SIZE: 5 gallons VARIABLES: grain lbs: 10.3 lbs mash thickness (qts/lb): 1.33 target mash temp: 154°F strike temperature: 166°F mash water needed: 3.4 gallons sparge water needed: 5.2 gallons sparge temperature: 180°F YEAST: Safale 05 GRAIN: 5.25 lbs Pale Malt (2
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Visit https://learn.beerandbrewing.com/ to view 50+ online brewing courses. From conception to perfection, learn the ins and outs of developing your best beer from professional brewer Matt Czigler, Founder of Czig Meister Brewing and former Brewmaster at Kane Brewing. Learn: – How to build a recipe for your brew setup – Select a style, fitting the
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Hard Cider Ingredients 5 gal. Farm Fresh Pressed Apple Cider 5 cups Sugar Wyeast British Ale Yeast *Add Sugar and 1 gal. of Apple Cider to the Carboy *Shake until Sugar Dissolves *Add Rest of Apple Cider to carboy *Pitch Yeast 11/13/11 Ingredient Cost = $36.00 plus sugar OG @ 68° F = 1.058 12/11/11
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In this episode, veteran beer-making instructor Jeremy Frey, from F. H. Steinbart Company, one of the oldest home beer supply houses in the country, shows us how to make a batch of home-made beer. The printed recipe from the video is on Cooking Up a Story: Amber Ale recipe: http://cookingupastory.com/the-beginners-guide-to-making-home-brew Food Farmer Earth – a
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Sign up for early access to my Sourdough Bread Baking course and receive 3 additional bonus live video sessions -click this link- https://bit.ly/2O6HQyn I’m leveling up my videos by creating a new kitchen studio completely from scratch! Help support the journey here – https://www.patreon.com/KitchenStudio SUBSCRIBE NOW: https://www.youtube.com/user/BrothersGreenEats?sub_confirmation=1 Home Brewing/Fermentation Kits (via amazon): https://www.amazon.com/shop/brothersgreeneats01?listId=17MRH4CBDUWTD&ref=idea_share_inf I’ve brewed
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English Brown Ale #2: Recipe and Tasting Tasting your own brewed beer!!! Another English brown ale is kegged, tapped, and ready to drink! Brewed on the Grainfather and fermented under pressure in the new Spike Brewing Flex+ fermenter, this beer turned out great. There were some changes from the original Brother’s Brown recipe including substituting
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With our first anniversary (and party) coming up, I wanted to write a post on one of the many areas I didn't know anything about as a homebrewer that goes into an event like this. One of my many hats at Sapwood Cellars is compliance. It is a necessary part of the dream job, but luckily not the whole thing! It includes things like record keeping, filing excise taxes, and TTB submissions for formula and label approvals. The taxes took awhile to get used to, but aren't that bad now that we have adequate record keeping procedures in place.

We're lucky to be in that Maryland doesn't require federal COLA label approval for in-state distribution. So we're just now getting into that as we've recently been approved to sell beer in Virginia, DC, California, and Oregon. Don't get your hopes up, for now it's just small shipments for festivals and events (e.g., Modern Times Festival of Dankness, Aslin Anniversary Party, Snallygaster). So far it hasn't been too burdensome, mostly just getting the templates for our labels and keg collars in spec, and then learning what words are required or problematic. It is a bit more work given the wide variety of beers we produce (more than 150 in our first year), but most of those are tasting room only.



The more annoying piece is formula approvals (FONL). Despite what several brewers have told me, formula approvals are required any time you are adding ingredients not in the list of Exempt Ingredients and Processes regardless of whether label approval is required or where/if the beer will be distributed. I called the TTB and had my understanding confirmed. True, the odds of getting in trouble for not having an approved formula are low for a beer that stays in state (especially taproom only), but as a long-time government employee I'm just not an "ask for forgiveness" kind of person. The issue is that it seems approvals are really subjective/inconsistent.

Last fall I'd requested a formula with acorns, to do a small batch with the acorns I dry-fermented. I was rejected. Well that isn't entirely true, what the TTB usual responds is to request the GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) notification from the FDA for the ingredient in question. The issue is that they know well that the most ingredients aren't on there, and that the only way to get it there would be to fund a study showing its safety. As a result, most of "GRAS" substances are specific chemical compounds (e.g., Xylooligosaccharides from sugarcane, Ergothionine, and Synthetic dihydrocapsiate) that large companies have gotten through. You know what isn't on there? Apples, while apple peel powder is. Oranges, but orange pomace and enzyme-treated orange pomace is. You get the idea.



When I contacted the FDA about acorns they responded that while acorns were not GRAS, I could use "tannic acid extracted from nutgalls or excrescences that form on the young twigs of Quercus infectoria Oliver and related species of Quercus." Pass...

Recently I saw another brewer mention that they had gotten acorn flour approved (but were still requires submission of a "tannin leaching" process). I submitted a formula for a dark saison with acorn flour, and was rejected again, but this time for the reason that acorn flour is approved without a request being required. Not sure what grinding the acorns up does to change it from requiring FDA study to being allowed without even having to submit a formula request.

Something similar happened with Staghorn Sumac (which I'd used at home with wonderful results). GRAS notification was requested from my submission, which annoyed me because I've had several commercial beers brewed with. I responded:

Maybe I am misunderstanding the GRAS Notices? It doesn't seem to include most of the typical ingredients added to beer, e.g., hops or barley. Most of the entries are for chemical compounds or specific extractions from plants, not fruits, vegetables, or other commonly consumed foodstuffs? Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac) has been made into a lemonade-like drink for centuries. Here is an info sheet from North Dakota State on the species, that includes: "Food - Sumac lemonade made from berries."

Three weeks later and my formula was approved without further comment...

I've got nothing against safety rules on what goes into beer. I'd just prefer they were clearly delineated and widely followed.

Since both of these ingredients are foraged and thlimited, we decided to make 15 gallon variants with each for the anniversary party. A barrel-aged dark saison (based on Funky Dark #4) for the acorns and a pale sour fermented with The Yeast Bay Melange for the Sumac!



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There are so many reviews of homebrewing gear online, but when it comes to craft brewing equipment you're lucky if you can find a forum post or two. It makes sense as there are so many more homebrewers than craft brewers... I also had more time to write before I started making beer 60+ hours a week. Now that we're a year into brewing at Sapwood Cellars, it seemed like a good time to step back and get my thoughts down about the equipment we purchased. Hopefully what follows will help a brewer starting out, looking to add something, or just wanting a sense of what things cost.

Forgeworks 10 bbl Brewhouse - $71,306

The Good: Reasonable price, solid build quality, gets the wort production job done.

The Bad: A few design head-scratchers on the mash tun. It has a huge volume below the false bottom (~90 gallons/3 bbl). The under-screen spray balls spray directly into the supports making them useless (the connection for them is also around back making it difficult to access). The torsion ring on the rakes wasn't adequately tightened when we received it causing the rakes fell off mid-mash a few batches in. No issues since properly tightening. Originally the pickup arm in the kettle extended into the center (right into the trub cone), but they swapped us our for a shorter one that is now standard.

Verdict: Satisfied with it so far, but not thrilled given things like having to pull the false bottom to clean underneath/between after the last brew of the week (the plates can be annoying to remove, but not bad compared to some other systems).

10 bbl Forgeworks Brewhouse

MidCo EC300 Burner - $1,070

The Good: Plenty of heat to have the kettle close to a boil by the time run-off is finished.

The Bad: The burner's control board is incredibly sensitive to moisture, just a few drops and it is fried. A fact that it would have been nice to have a warning about from Forgeworks (they said some breweries have had it happen multiple times). Otherwise it has just been a learning curve to wait longer to turn it on and throttle the gas to avoid boil-overs. Our beers are 1-2 SRM darker than predicted thanks to direct fire, but not really the burner's fault.

Verdict: Steam would have been great, but wasn't in our budget. We haven't had issues since covering the control board with a plastic baggie (we've got a spare controller too). We were told that MidCo had a waterproof housing almost complete last fall, but haven't heard an update since.

MidCo EC300 Burner

Thermaline Heat Exchanger - $4,198.72

The Good: Their website allow you to input the parameters (volume, desired chilling rate, ground water/glycol temperature) and they build a unit to accommodate. That seemed to work for us as the chill times seem to line up reasonably.

The Bad: Nothing major to complain about. In the summer we do have to slow run-off as the second stage (glycol) doesn't lower the temperature compared to ground water by more than a degree or two at full blast.

Verdict: Might have been worth it to go a bit more over-sized, but no issues with the build-quality, durability etc.

Thermaline Heat Exchanger

Apex 10/20 bbl Fermenters - $7,500/10,700

The Good: The price is reasonable. We've got the "new style" 10 bbls that have an easy-rotate racking. The 2 inch dumps at the bottom rarely get clogged with hops, and the 4 inch dry hop ports work well, especially with our hop doser (below).

The Bad: The 20 bbl tank is the "old style" meaning the racking arm is just a tri-clamp. Not ideal, but it works fine especially after switching to a Teflon gasket. The big issue on that tank is with the hop port, the literature said it was a 6 inch, but it turned out to be a DIN150 (European fitting). Apex had been aware of this for 6 months and it took me ordering a gasket (to confirm the size), a custom reducer, and a new clamp all from Sanitary Fittings to resolve the issue.

There is a minor issue with one of the 10 bbl fermenters as well, the sparyball arm is just a little short which makes reassembly a two person operation (one to push, one to clamp).

Verdict: Given the issues and poor service with the 20 bbl, I'm hesitant to order more tanks from them when the time for expansion comes. Especially as they don't manufacture the tanks, the only advantage of going with them rather than directly from a Chinese manufacturer would be service.

Apex 10/20 bbl Fermenters

Colorado Brewing Double Keg Washer - $6,370‬

The Good: Great price for an semi-automated keg washer. It rinses, washes, sanitizes, and purges two kegs at a time without intervention. As long as everything is connected and the reservoirs are filled, we rarely have an issue (other than hops in the occasional keg plugging up). The cycles are customizable, so we've tweaked them. We run a double cycle on our sour kegs, and no issues so far sharing them with clean beers.

The Bad: It's been a bit of a chore to deal with the issues that have arisen in one year of use: casters fell off, weld on one of the pots failed, software "disappeared", gas solenoid failed etc.

Verdict: The company has been great at dealing with these issues as they've occurred, shipping us replacement parts, paying for a welder etc. That said, I'd rather have not spent so much time dealing with it.

Colorado Brewing Double Keg Washer

Marks Mini-Hop Doser - $495

The Good: Allows us to add hops with minimal oxygen pick-up. Safer than dry hopping loose (no risk of foam-up). Ability to add hops to a tank without venting the head pressure.

The Bad: Nothing big, although expect to double the cost of the unit itself in fittings. We have 4 inch butterfly valves on our tanks and move the doser between them as needed.

Verdict: Not sure what we'd do without it... oh I do because we we're able to use it on our 20 bbl because of the wonky port size (run CO2 and hope you don't get a face full of beer).

Marks Mini-Hop Doser

Navien Tankless Water Heater Standard Model - $1,260

The Good: Outputs up to 180F, plenty hot for collecting water for the mash and sparge or pasteurizing a line. Relatively inexpensive to buy and operate compared to a traditional always-on HLT.

The Bad: In the winter 180F output runs at 3 gallons/min. Helps to have a tank with an electric element to speed things up, or pre-collect water the night before.

Verdict: At our scale, and without steam this made the most sense and we're still happy with it. Two units can be daisy-chained together if we want to speed things up (e.g., first heats to 140F, second to 180F).

Navien Tankless Water Heater Standard Model

Uline Straddle Stacker: Semi-Electric - $3,245

The Good: It's considerably less expensive than even a used propane-powered forklift. It's good in tight spaces because it's human powered, and powerful enough to lift a rack with two barrels. Being electric, it doesn't produce fumes that could negatively effect barrel-aging beers.

The Bad: Given the legs in front, it can't get around larger pallets, or standard pallets the long way.  It is propelled by pushing, and weights over 1,200 lbs (plus whatever you are moving up to 2,200 lbs more). Only one wheel turns with steering making direction changes difficult. It also needs additional height above it, which can be tricky in a building with HVAC, lights, doorways etc.

Verdict: With our relatively cramped space, a forklift doesn't make sense, this gets the job done.

Uline Straddle Stacker: Semi-Electric

FlexTanks - $460-$1,190

The Good: They are inexpensive compared to stainless steel totes, while being easier to use than IBCs (international bulk containers). They have standard 1.5" tri-clamp fittings and sample ports. We mainly use the 300 gallon ones to hold bulk sour beer waiting for barrels, or to dilute barrel-aged beer that is too oaky (especially with so many first-use barrels). The 80 gallon FlexTanks are for fruit additions, where the large opening makes them easier to fill and empty than a barrel.

The Bad: They can only take ~1 PSI, so most of the movement has to be from gravity. The gasket on the lids is round and doesn't have a grove to sit in. This makes it is difficult to align without dropping in.

Verdict: They were a good place to start thanks to the price, but stainless would be more versatile and foolproof if you have the money.

300 gallon FlexTank

EuroTransport Container Dimple Jacketed - $6,595

The Good: It's a movable, stainless-steel, temperature-controlled tank. We use it as our blending tank for sour barrel-aged beers. The bottom port is for liquid in/out (with a T for the sample port), and the two side ports for the temperature probe and carbonation stone. We currently have it off the pad, so it is nice to be able to pallet-jack it onto the pad for cleaning.

The Bad: It's odd that a jacketed tank doesn't have a built-in thermowell for the temperature probe. We use corny fittings for some kegs anyway, but it is weird to have a tank like this with a gas poppet on top. While the tank is jacketed, it isn't double walled so it sweats like crazy in the summer, we need to insulate it.

Verdict: Reasonably happy with it, but it requires a bit of a unique situation (like ours) to justify this over a standard brite tank.

EuroTransport Container Dimple Jacketed

XpressFill XF4500 - $6,295

The Good: It's a reasonable price for a four-head counter-pressure bottle filler. Does four bottles a minute when everything is humming along.

The Bad: We had some issues early on with the fill sensor. One or two heads would indicate that the bottle was filled even when it was empty. Turned out it was a drop of condensation on the CO2 line "falsely" completing the circuit. Not a problem now that we know what to do. One of the switches won't stay in the off position, which can cause the pneumatic foot to rise unexpectedly.

Verdict: I'm happy with it. Worth the added cost over a gravity filler for us because it reduces oxygen exposure, and allows us to bottle partially (or fully) carbonated beer. Our general approach is to chill the beer in the blending tank, prime with sugar and rehydrated yeast, agitate the tank, then pump in CO2 through the stone to get to ~1.5 volumes of CO2. The yeast does its job to bring the carbonation to target in the bottle, and we don't have to worry about predicting residual CO2 in barrels stored in ambient conditions.

Update: We had to cut down the stoppers to lower the fill heights which were ~17.4 oz in our 16.9 oz bottles. That seemed to work well.

XpressFill XF4500


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Like it or not, online beer ratings have been one of the big drivers of craft beer over the last 20 years. As a brewery, you don't need to cater to them, but high scores can drive sales and excitement.

I spent a good deal of time on BeerAdvocate during my first few years of beer drinking (2005-2008). Reading other's reviews was beneficial for my palate and beer vocabulary. I reviewed a couple hundred beers, which gave me confidence to "review" my homebrew for this blog. However, there were aspects of trying to track down all the top beers that made it not entirely healthy. Whether it was fear of missing out on a new release, or the thrill of the catch outweighing the enjoyment of actually drinking the beer. I  find how many new beers there are now freeing, there is no way to try them all, so I don't try!

Untappd Logo

Now that Untappd is the dominant player I'll glance at reviews (especially for one of our new releases), but I don't rate. It's rare to see a review that has much insight into the beer. Even the negative ones are rarely constructive. As an aside, I find it a bit weird when people in the local beer industry rate our offerings. Generally they are kind, but it just seems strange to publicly review "competing" products.

For four or five years I maintained a spreadsheet to track the beers I drank and those I wanted to try. I weighted the beers not just on their average BeerAdvocate score, but on the score relative to their style. That's to say I was more interested in trying a Czech Pilsner rated 4.2 more than a DIPA at 4.3 because Pilsners generally have lower scores. If all you drink are the top rated beers, you'll be drinking mostly the same handful of styles from a small selection of breweries. Why is that though?

My homemade beer ranking spreadsheet

Whether it is the BeerAvocate Top 100, Rate Beer's Top 50, and Untappd's Top Beers they all show a similar bias towards strong adjunct stouts, DIPAs, and fruited sours. I don't think the collective beer rater score aligns with what the average beer drinker enjoys the most or drinks regularly. It is a result of a collection of factors that are inherent to the sort of hedonistic rating system.

So what makes beers and breweries score well?

Big/Accessible Flavors

People love assertive flavors. Once you've tried a few hundred (or thousand) beers, it is difficult to get a "wow" response from malt, hops, and yeast. This is especially true in a small sample or in close proximity to other beers (e.g., tasting flight, bottle share, festival). So many of the top beers don't taste like "beer" they taste like maple, coconut, bourbon, chocolate, coffee, cherries etc. If you say there is a flavor in the beer everyone wants to taste it... looking at reviews for our Vanillafort, it is amazing how divergent the experiences are. Despite a (to my palate) huge vanilla flavor (one bean per 5 gallons), some people don't taste it.

Vanillafort and vanilla beans

Sweetness is naturally pleasant. It's a flavor our palates evolved to prefer over sour/bitter because it is a sign of safe calories. That said, too much can also make a beer less drinkable. I enjoy samples of pastry stouts, but most of them don't call for a second pour. Balance between sweet-bitter or sweet-sour makes a beer that calls for another sip, and a second pour.

Even the most popular IPAs have gone from dry/bitter to sweet/fruity. They are beers that are less of an acquired taste. More enjoyable to a wider spectrum of drinkers. I'm amazed how many of the contractors, delivery drivers, and other non-beer nerds who visit the brewery mention that they are now into IPAs.

If you want a high brewery average, one approach is simply to not brew styles that have low average ratings. That said, for tap room sales it can really help to have at least one "accessible" beer on the menu. For us that has always been a low-bitterness wheat beer with a little yeast character, and a fruity hop aroma. Their scores drag our average down, but it is worth it for us.

Exclusivity

The easier a beer is to obtain, the more people will try it. The problem is that you don't want everyone rating your beer. To get high scores it helps to apply a pressure that causes only people who are excited about the beer to drink (and rate it). This can take a variety of forms, but the easiest is a small production paired with a high price-point and limited distribution. You can make the world's best sour beer, but if it is on the shelf for $3 a bottle at 100 liquor stores you'll get plenty of people sampling it that hate sour beers. Even with our relatively limited availability we get reviews like "My favorite sour beer ever!" 1.5 stars... The problem with averages is that a handful of really low scores have a big impact.

I'll be interested to see how our club-exclusive bottles of sour beer rate compared to the ones available to the general public. The people who joined self-identified as fans of ours and sour beers. My old homebrewing buddy Michael Thorpe has used clubs to huge success at Afterthought Brewing (around #20 on Untappd's Top Rated Breweries). In addition to directing his limited volume towards the right consumers, clubs allow him to brew the sorts of weird/esoteric (delicious) beers that might not work on a general audience (gin barrels, buckwheat, dandelions, paw paw etc.).

Jeff pitching Afterthought dregs


As noted above some styles have higher average reviews than others. Simply not brewing low-rated styles goes a long way towards ensuring a high overall brewery average. Anytime I feel like one of our beers is underappreciated, I go look at the sub-4 average of Hill Farmstead Mary, one of my favorite beers. Afterthought recently announced a new non-sour brand, which will prevent beer styles with lower averages from "dragging down" the average for Afterthought.

I remember there being debate over the minimum serving size for a review on BeerAdvocate. I think a few ounces of a maple-bacon-bourbon imperial stout is plenty. However for session beers, can you really judge a beer that is intended to be consumed in quantity based on a sip or two? We don't do sample flights at Sapwood Cellars. We sell half-pours for half the price of full pours. Not having a flight reduces people ordering beers they won't enjoy just to fill out a paddle. It also means that more people will give a beer a real chance, drinking 7 oz gives more time for your palate to adjust and for you to get a better feel for the balance and drinkability. What kills me is seeing people review one of our sessions beers based on a free "taste."

Another option is physical distance. Most trekking to Casey, De Garde, or Hill Farmstead are excited to be going there and ready to be impressed. It helps that all three brew world-class sour beers, but I'm not sure the ratings would be quite as good if they were located in an easily-accessible urban center.

The trick to getting to the Top Beer lists is that you need a lot of reviews to bring the weighted average up close to the average review. So having a barrier, but still brewing enough beer and being a big enough draw to get tens of thousands of check-ins and ratings. Organic growth helps, starting small, and generating enough excitement to bring people from far and wide. Lines (like those at Tree House) then help to keep up the exclusivity, not many people who hate hazy IPAs are going to wait in line for an hour to buy the new release - unless it is to trade.

My only visit to Tree House brewing

Shelf Stability/Control 

Many of the best rated beers are bulletproof. Big stouts and sours last well even when not handled or stored properly. This means that even someone drinking a bottle months or years after release is mostly assured a good experience. Most other styles really don't store well and are at their best fresh.

Conversely, hazy IPAs are one of the most delicate styles. I think it's funny that some brewers talk about hiding flaws in a NEIPA. While you sure don't need to have perfect fermentation control to make a great hop-bomb, they are not forgiving at all when it comes to packaging and oxygen pick-up. That's partly the reason that the best regarded brewers of the style retail most of the canned product themselves. Alchemist, Trillium, Tree House, Tired Hands, Hill Farmstead, Aslin, Over Half etc. all focus on direct-to-consumer sales. That ensures the beer doesn't sit on a truck or shelf for a large amount of time before a consumer gets it. Consumers seem to be more aware than they once were (especially for these beers) that freshness matters.

Trillium, Aslin, and Alchemist

Of course the margins are best when selling direct too, so any brewery that is able to sell cases out the door will. It can turn into a positive feedback loop, where the beer is purchased/consumed fresh which makes the beer drinker more likely to return. This worked well for Russian River, not bottling Pliny the Elder until there was enough demand that it won't sit on the shelf for more than a week.

Sure the actual packaging process (limiting dissolved oxygen) is important. But generally an OK job on a two-week-old can will win out over a great job on a two-month old can.

The ultimate is to have people drink draft at your brewery. That way you can control the freshness, serving temperature, glassware, atmosphere etc. That said, I notice the scores for our beers in growlers are usually higher than draft. I suspect that this is about self-selection, people who enjoyed the beer on draft are more likely to take a growler home and rate it well. It might also be a way for people to appear grateful to someone who brought a beer for them to try.

Reputation

This is one area where blind-judged beer competitions have a clear edge over general consumer ratings. When you know what you're drinking, that knowledge will change your perception. Partly it is subconscious, you give a break to a brewery that makes good beer. Or after a lot of effort to procure a bottle you don't want to feel like you wasted money/time. It can be more overt. I've had friends tell me that they'll skip entering a rating for our beer if it would be too low. I remember boosting the score of the first bottle of Cantillon St. Lamvinus I drank, it was so sour... but I didn't want to be that 22 year old who panned what people consider to be one of the best beers in the world.

I could also be cynical, but I can imagine someone buying a case of a new beer to trade and wanting to make sure they get good "value" by helping the score for the beer. Might be doubly true for a one-off beer with aging potential!

Sapwood Cellars has done pretty well in our first year. Out of more than 100 breweries in Maryland, we have the third-highest average score (4.06) on Untappd. That isn't even close to meaning that our beer is "better" than anyone below us though. In addition to being solid brewers, we're helped by our selection of styles (mostly IPAs and sours) and by selling almost all of our beer on premise. Hopefully that feeds a good reputation, which further drives scores as we continue to hone our process.

Rum, Apple, Apple tripel



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Whether you are a homebrewer or a craft brewer, things don't always go as expected or something breaks. If you aren't ready, it could cost you a batch or delay a brew. In the worst case scenario a company can go out of business, making a replacement part difficult and expensive to procure. More than once we haven't had a (seemingly) small inexpensive thing and it caused issues. Learn from us (and chime in with your own suggestions)!

Yeast

If you use liquid cultures, there is always a chance that your starter won't start or your brink will run dry. We always keep a couple bricks of dried yeast on hand. On a commercial scale, SafAle is ridiculously inexpensive ($50-75 for 500 g). We always have a brick of US-05 and S-04 in the cooler. The strains you keep will depend on what strains you use. If nothing else, we'll use them for primary fermentation on sour beers when we don't have enough liquid yeast harvested.

Being friendly with a few other local brewers could be handy as well, but there usually isn't a guarantee they'll have yeast to spare at the last minute.

Yeast/beer fridge.

Fermentables

I find it helpful to have both dextrose and maltodextrin on hand. We had a DIPA dry out a few points too far, easy enough to boil a pot of maltodextrin, keg it and shoot it into the brite tank to add .004/1P. Dextrose is handy if your gravity is lower by a few points, although in most cases we'll just leave the beer alone. Dried pale malt extract is another option, especially if your efficiency is inconsistent (or you often brew really strong beers).

It never hurts to order a few extra bags of a favorite malts either, especially for things like Golden Naked Oats that often seem to be out of stock. Extra base malt is nice too, especially early on when you're ordering ingredients for a few batches and still feeling out system efficiency.

Sacks of dextrose and maltodextrin.

Hops

Buying on the spot market means sometimes you get a bag that isn't all it should be. Better to have a few back-up options to swap in for dry hopping. Mediocre hops are usually fine in the boil, so if we open a bag of Simcoe that is so-so, we'll open another and save the first for a boil/whirlpool addition.

Fittings/Gaskets

We try to have at least one "extra" gasket in each size. This is especially true for things like manways that aren't generic. Unluckily we didn't think of this before the gasket on our 15 bbl DME fermentor stretched out... now they're out of business and we're still working to find a replacement. The one we have still works, but likely won't forever. If we order anything new, we get replacement seals and parts for it at the same time.

Same goes for having extra valves and other fittings that might leak or stop working. Delicate instruments like hydrometers, thermometers, refractometers never hurt to have redundancy either.

Gaskets of various shapes and sizes.

Controllers

Nothing is worse that electronics that don't want to work properly. Our MidCo burner for the kettle has a small control board that shorts if a few drops of water fall onto it. The first time was a complete surprise after washing down the kettle, but we ordered two replacements. That saved a batch of beer a few months later after a boil-over (our new gas meter really increased the heat output). No problems since adding a water-proof cover...

I've been meaning to buy a few extra solinoids for the glycol/tanks too as they are notorious for going bad.

Our MidCo burner.

Enzymes

When our most recent batch of saison stalled out we were ready for it, we added amyloglucosidase and the gravity dropped quickly to 1.001. There are other enzymes that you might consider as well that help with conversion, run-off, and clarity as well.

Enzyme

Gasses

While we have a bulk CO2 tank, we also have a few smaller tanks. They're necessary to pour at events, but they're also nice to have if the bulk tank runs empty and we need to keep pouring beer! Same story with nitrogen. We have two tanks so we have one in use and one filled (or waiting to be swapped).

20 lb CO2 cylinder compared to 750 lb bulk tank.

Your Suggestions

Rather than waiting for more things to go wrong to learn what else we should have, post a comment and let me know what to buy!

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Since 2008 my friend Alex and I have been brewing dark funky saisons. Each year we come up with a new concept, usually involving dried fruit and/or spices. We've been a bit lax the last couple years, the ninth iteration was brewed a year ago, and neither of us has bottled our share yet.

For my birthday a couple weeks ago, Alex came over to the brewery and we opened bottles of all the versions (including a few variants). I shot a video of our discussion, enjoy!




2009 Funky Dark Saison with Black Cardamom

2010 Fig Honey Anise Dark Saison

2011 American Farmhouse Currant Dark Saison

2012 Dark Saison with Quince Paste

2013 Cranberry Dark Saison

2014 Dark Saison Etrog

2016 Dark Saison Date and Pomegranate


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The excitement over hazy/NE IPA is the best thing that has happened for local breweries in a long time. They are expensive to brew, difficult to package, a nightmare to distribute long distances, and get beer drinkers excited! When we put a juicy Double IPA on tap it flies. Our recent 7-barrel-yield of Snip Snap lasted less than three days, while an IPA might last three weeks, and a pale ale five. Having a beer that draws increases growler sales, and helps sell all of our other beers as people end up trying other similar beers when they come in.

Snip Snap DIPA

Here is a graph of the scores of 13 of our hoppy beers (pale ales, IPAs, and DIPAs) showing the Untappd score compared to the ABV. The formula for the trend line is y = 3.2008+.1392*x. That suggests if we brewed a 0% ABV hoppy beer it would score a 3.20 and to get a score of 5 would require 14.31% ABV. The R-squared value of the correlation is .71, so the most important factor in the consumer's opinion of our hoppy beers is strength (granted that typically comes with a higher dry hopping rate, sweetness etc.).

Impact of ABV vs. Untappd Score.

Driving business to your tasting room is job #1 for a small brewery because that is where the profit is highest. When you buy a beer at a bar or restaurant, most of the money goes to them rather than the brewery. While a ½ bbl keg of a pale ale might sell to a bar for $150-175 (a portion of which might go to a distributor), at even $5 pint the bar makes $620 in revenue. At our scale, it is almost impossible to make a profit only  selling beer at wholesale. It requires a tight reign on expenses with a premium price point, not to mention low overhead.

It is no coincidence that local brewery booms seem to follow when a state or city allows production breweries to serve/retail their own beer. In the case of Maryland this has created backlash from distributors, and a lesser extent bars and liquor stores who see more consumers cutting them out.

Sapwood Cellars Holiday Party

Ingredient Cost

We aren’t doing a great job controlling ingredient costs. We don’t reuse our yeast nearly as much as we "should" (3-4 batches per pitch), we pay as much as $35/lb for hops that are difficult to get on the spot market, we buy our malt pre-milled by the bag, we use expensive “real” ingredients for our variants (and usually don’t up-charge over the base beers) etc. That said, having a tasting room that is busy covers all of those sins.

Great Western Full Pint Malt

10 bbls – Pillowfort
$484 – 2-row
$137 – Malted Oats
$40 – Chit Malt
$50 – Milling Fee
$11 – Glucose
$.80 - Whirlfloc
$.06 - Zinc Sulfate Heptahydrate
$1 – Calcium Chloride
$1 – Gypsum
$.25 – Epsom Salt
$2.00 – 350 ml 75% Phosphoric Acid
$125 – Liquid yeast
$150 – Dry yeast
$77 – Columbus
$99 – Centennial
$396 – Citra
$264 – Azacca
~$100 – CO2/Gas/Electric/Chemicals
 ($1950/batch - $1.11/pour)

Let’s say we put more effort into yeast management and that gives us confidence to reuse the yeast for 20 batches. Bringing the proportional cost down from $125 to $25 per batch. The net savings to us would be $.05 per pour. What if we moved to a silo for 2-row, and cut our base malt cost down to a third and added a mill? $.14 per pour. That would make Pillowfort ~$.92/pour. Granted these recurring costs add up over the course of a year and both might yield improvements to the consistency and quality of our beer. But selling just one 1/2 bbl keg to a bar, even charging $250, loses us more money per batch then we’d save from making those moves. It also speaks to how important yield on these heavily dry-hopped beers is.

Most of our IPAs and DIPAs work out to $100-150 per ½ bbl keg. Self-distributing these beers for $200-250 there would be no way to make enough to cover rent, pay ourselves, and fund expansion. However, being a retailer of our own beers means we get $800-900 for that same keg sold by the glass and growler. It makes sense for us to charge a reasonable price ($7-8 for a 14 oz pour in a 17 oz glass) and have consumers return rather than charge a dollar or two more and end up having to self-distribute kegs (with the added effort).

When we do send kegs out, we try to get as much of a push out of it as we can (fests, tap-takeovers, beer dinners etc.). We don't pay for any traditional advertising, but we view the "losses" from self-distributing as a form of marketing. That also means not always sending beer to the same bars, as we want people to feel like they have to come to us to try our beers regularly.

Beer Festival

Most bars use a flat percentage markup to price their draft. If a beer costs twice as much for them to purchase, they’ll charge twice as much to the consumer. That means that they’ll make a much larger dollar-per-ounce profit on more expensive beers. The same isn’t true at most breweries, an IPA with Nelson Sauvin or Galaxy is easily twice as expensive as a session wheat beer (especially considering the lower yield with high dry-hop rates), but we don’t double the price. Still, charging $7 for IPA and $6 for the session wheat makes the IPA more profitable per pour. When you visit a brewery and buy beer, you’re allowing them to spend more money on the ingredients and make better beer. Not to mention that the brewery will care more about their beer and have better control over the product.

Overhead

After ingredient cost, our next biggest expense is rent. Scott and I debated where to open and toured spaces with a wide range of looks and costs. While a beautiful rustic plot with room for outdoor events and a small orchard was appealing… either running on a septic or paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a municipal sewer connection was not. Conversely, opening in a vibrant downtown with plenty of foot traffic would have meant easier retail sales, but would have tripled our rent. Brewing is a space-intensive manufacturing business (especially with barrel aging), it is difficult for me to justify paying $30+ sq ft for the parts of the business that aren’t customer facing.

Lease Signing Day

If we are able to brew enough to outstrip tasting room demand, we’ll look into opening a small taproom someplace other than an industrial park. For the time being, our location is close enough to residential for the tasting room and inexpensive enough for 4,000 sq ft of production. Luckily the power of Google Maps, Untappd, and social media has been enough for us to draw people in.

In addition to the ability to sell beer by the glass, a tasting room opens up the way for merchandise sales, private events, packaged beer, and even food sales (working on that now). It has been essential for us to have a space and offerings that attract customers, even those who aren’t beer nerds. A fantastic staff, and enough of them working for short waits also improves the customer experience.

Salaries are the third big expense. Scott and I have done 100% of the brewing, tank cleaning, kegging, and keg washing up to this point. Financially speaking, our labor has been free, but we certainly could have kept our day jobs and paid less-per hour than our lost wages to hire brewers and cellar-people. That said, it didn’t seem right to trust something we’d worked so hard for to other people. As I learned from consulting, the people who are physically there have the biggest effect on the results. We’ll be looking to hire someone in the brewhouse soon, but we’re still trying to figure out what the role will be (cleaning and cellar duties, or someone who already has the skill-set to be a lead brewer eventually). We were willing to pay for front-of-house, as that is where we didn’t have experience (or the time to learn).

Other Income Streams

I posted about Brewery Clubs a few months ago. As a brewery that didn’t take on outside loans or investors, the extra money we brought in from club sales was essential. It gave us the breathing room to buy more expensive equipment, ingredients, not to mentions barrels for beers we won’t sell for months or years, and dump most of a batch that we didn’t love. Padding in the bank account helped with our sleep those first couple months too.

We’re now “paying” some of that money back. We made it through the club holiday events, for which we created 16 sixtels of variants that we didn’t sell a drop of. Not to mention paid employees to work (and at $15 an hour as tipping was light without tabs). Most of that cost was in our time, but we’ll continue to incur costs as we give bottles, decanter baskets (below), and events that club members paid for last year. Not only do we want to ensure that customers (and many friends) are happy they joined, we’d like to over-deliver so many consider re-upping for 2020!

Decanter Baskets

The rest of this year our biggest focus will be on packaging. Direct sales of canned and bottled beer should give us the chance to increase total revenue, but it will also lower our per-ounce revenue. While many people are willing to pay $8 for a 14 oz pour of DIPA... $5 for a 16 oz can of the same DIPA is about the top of the market. Cans have higher costs associated with them as well, both in terms of labor and materials (especially when you don't own a canning line). That really slims down the margins, and will dictate which beers are more likely to be canned (e.g., Pillowfort with Azacca rather than Snip Snap with Galaxy). The most important thing for us will be avoiding turning draft sales into can sales. Ideally cans are an add-on to tabs or an additional trip for a release rather than a replacement for draft consumption and growlers.

Shared Kingdom at Black Flag

What makes sense for a brewery will depend on the types of beer they brew and their goals as a company. If you want to be a large production brewery, it may make sense to start fighting for draft accounts early. We don’t have any resources dedicated to outside sales, in fact we turn down most offers to put our beer on tap. We’d rather have an excess of demand, and be in strong position rather than fight for a limited number of tap handles with an ever-increasing number of breweries.

Having the huge catalog of homebrew recipes between the two of us has been a big advantage too. On Saturday we tapped a scaled-up version of Atomic Apricot. The price difference on the apricot puree was particularly stark, $1.71 per pound at the commercial scale vs. $7.84 for the same product (Oregon Fruit/Vintners Harvest). I haven't been doing much homebrewing or test batch brewing so most of my social media posting has moved to the Sapwood Cellars Facebook and Twitter accounts (Scott does Instagram because I usually avoid posting from my phone).

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We're doing pretty well at Sapwood Cellars so far. Our most recent batch of Snip Snap (Citra-Galaxy DIPA) only lasted 2.5 days on draft, about 200 gallons drained by the pour and growler fill. Ratings on Untappd were stellar. Is this how good Scott and I were at homebrewing or is our new 10 bbl brewhouse and temperature controlled fermentors making our beer better than it was?

I shot video of the big batch of Snip Snap and brewed a small batch at the brewery with my old pots and fermentor. We tried to keep them as identical as possible, using malt/hops/yeast from the same bags for both batches. I sampled both beers blind, and we served them to 49 customers in the tasting room to see which they preferred for this Video!




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Brewing beer at home changed the course of my life. At first it was merely a fun way to explore my drink of choice, and an excuse to hang out with friends. As time passed it became a larger part of my life, a side-hustle, a reason to travel, altered who I am. I always hated public speaking… until I figured out that I’m engaging when I care about the material. I was never passionate about reading, researching, and writing, until they meant I could learn to brew better beer and share my passion. I met many of my friends at homebrew club meetings, through this blog, and homebrewing forums. I worked a boring government desk job for 12 years, until brewing allowed me to open a business!


That’s why I'm sad that homebrewing is on the decline in America. I see it at DC Homebrewer’s meetings, where there aren’t nearly as many fresh faces as there were five years ago. The closures of retailers, like the recent announcement from Love2Brew. The surveys from the American Homebrewer’s Association gives hard numbers: from 1.2 million homebrewers in 2013, to 1.1 million in 2017.

Anecdotally over the last 30 years, American homebrewing has experienced three similar dips. Roughly the early-1990s, early-2000s, and the last few years. These coincide with three pivotal moments in commercial beer availability.

By the early 1990s most parts of the country had a selection of bottled craft beer from the likes of Sierra Nevada, Boston Beer, not to mention a few local breweries. No longer were beer drinkers limited to macro lagers and stale impotrs, because hoppy pale ales, malty browns, and roasty stouts were available coast-to-coast. I've met a few former homebrewers who thought that was enough selection to make homebrewing superfluous. There were still plenty of people who wanted to drink a wider range of styles though, and that still meant brewing their own.


A decade later with the opening and expansion of breweries like Allagash, Dogfish Head, New Belgium and hundreds more, the selection and availability of craft beer had exploded. You could find wit, kolsch, imperial stouts, apricot pale, IPA and a multitude more everywhere. Most cities had stores where you could pick from hundreds if not thousands of bottles. Again, some homebrewers didn’t see the need to keep brewing when they could drink a solid example of pretty much any style. Still though, many homebrewers wanted greater variety, unique flavors, and ua-fresh beer.


Now we’re in another slide. With more than 6,000 breweries spread across the country, most Americans can take a short drive to visit a different brewery tasting rooms every week for a few months without repeating. Not only that, but the old model of four core beers, four seasonals, and a couple special releases is  gone. Many breweries are producing 50 or more beers each year. The variety is staggering, and again many former homebrewers are happy to reduce their risk/effort and sample as many new beers as they desire. Not only is homebrewing suffering, but so are many of the breweries from those previous waves… Smuttynose, Green Flash etc.


In the chart below, the red line represents Google searches for "Brewery" the blue is "Homebrewing." December 2008 is the closest they have been (29 to 13), while July 2018 was the furthest (100 to 5). That's to say that while search interest in breweries has more than tripled over the last ten years, during the same time interest in homebrewing has dropped in half.


Where does homebrewing go from here?

There have always been different types of homebrewers, different reasons they brew. There will always be homebrewers. Those who brew not to save money, or drink the “best” beer, but who love the process. Those who are passionate about recipe design, microbiology, botany, community. engineering, culinary techniques, and experimentation. For them craft beer is a source of inspiration, but not a replacement for the hobby!

I don't view automated homebrewing systems as a threat to traditional homebrewing or a big boon for the hobby. If I hear one more new product that bills itself as the “Keurig” of beer… I’m going to lose it! It isn’t even like Keurig is synonymous with high quality coffee. I just don’t see any product that makes brewing that easy gaining a strong foothold because brewing beer involves more care than coffee and to-the-minute freshness isn't as important. You can buy a six pack at the store for less than it takes to brew these, and enjoy a bottle each night. The automated systems will always make beer that isn't as good as commercial, at a higher price-point. Not that automated wort production isn't appealing (and useful) for homebrewers looking to devote less time to the process.

If this time is like the previous two lulls, homebrewing is due for another bounce. Maybe the continual push for novelty in craft brewing, extra-bold flavors, and lack of true originality turns people off. Lack of quality, high prices, poor quality control, beer that sits too long before being sold… honestly now that I know how good IPA tastes within a month of brewing, I rarely buy a six-pack off the shelf. Hopefully as more consumers become accustomed to really fresh beer at tasting rooms, they get interested in brewing it for themselves! Maybe the greater number of people drinking craft beer simply gets more people interested in brewing.

The second option is decline. As quality beer becomes more accessible the price will be pushed down, making it an even more attractive option for marginal-homebrewers. Homebrewing becomes an even more specialized/nerdy hobby, and we lose out on the vibrancy that new hobbyists bring.

My best guess is that we're reaching stasis. There won't be a return the levels of excitement and engagement we saw ten years ago. There will still be plenty of people who drink craft beer, and try their hand at homebrewing, but only enough to replace all of the homebrewers who stop to drink craft beer or join the industry.

Homebrewing Matters

Drinking beer wouldn't have done the same thing for my life as homebrewing. An active engagement with brewing is the best way to really understand and appreciate beer. It caused me to learn and grow in areas that aren't really connected to beer or brewing. I understand that drinking a beer and checking in on Untappd is no-risk (I wrote a couple hundred reviews on BeerAdvocate), but it doesn't really lead to anything. Drinking beer is a diversion, brewing beer can change your life!


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My homebrewing frequency has taken a nosedive recently (surprise), but I still try to find time to brew a weird batch when I can. In August, when Scott and I drove to pick-up our first hop order in western Maryland, I noticed that Staghorn Sumac was in full bloom along I-270 . I’d read about flavoring beer with it in The Homebrewer’s Almanac, but never actually tasted a beer brewed with it. Sumac is tart and fruity, traditionally used in a tart lemonade-like beverage.

Staghorn Sumac "Berries"

I pulled over and harvested about a pound. The range I’d read was 1-5 lbs per 5 gallon batch. Without a beer ready for them, I took the clusters of dusty berries off of the central twig, vacuum sealed them, and froze. That was enough of an excuse to brew a batch of Berliner weisse (fermented with US-05 and Omega Lacto Blend - similar otherwise to this recipe). After primary fermentation I racked 1 gallon onto the resulting .75 lbs of sumac, and another onto .5 oz of dried Turkish sumac from Penzeys for a month. Obviously if the dried version is just as good, it certainly would be easier!

Me, harvesting sumac


Dried Turkish Sumac Berliner

Smell – Aroma is light, doughy-grain, lightly citrus and roasted pear. An odd note of cinnamon as well.

Appearance – Clear pale yellow. It’s almost so pale that yellow isn’t the right word, it looks washed out, faded. Retention isn’t great, but the tight, white head sticks around for much longer than the other half of the batch.

Taste – Bright acid without being obnoxious. The finish has an odd fall-spice note as in the nose that I suspect is from the sumac. Dry without being a desert.

Mouthfeel – Classic Berliner, light and spritzy.

Drinkability & Notes – The not-entirely-pleasant musty-herbal flavor the dried sumac provided when the beer was young seems to have mostly faded to a light spiciness. I’m not sure I’d even pick it out if I didn’t know it was in there.

Changes for Next Time – Maybe a different/fresher source of dried sumac would provide a better flavor and aroma?

Staghorn Sumac Berliner

Smell – Aroma has the generic fruitiness of Hawaiian Punch, or Hi-C, but with an herbal hint of a Ricola cough drop. I don’t get any of the base beer, at this elevated rate it is all sumac. Certainly in the same sort of flavor-family as hibiscus.

Appearance – To go along with the aroma, it has the color of Hawaiian Punch. Similar head retention too…

Taste – The same fruit flavor from the nose, but more pronounced cherry candy. It’s a really fun flavor, that doesn’t stray into cloying. Acidity is snappy, sort of Vitamin-C, quick and punchy. No sweetness, finally breaks the comparison to "fruit" beverages.

Mouthfeel – Light, medium+ carbonation, but not excessively thin or harsh.

Drinkability & Notes – Staghorn sumac is a foraged ingredient that has a real chance for broader appeal. The flavor is fun, quenching, and somewhat familiar. The color certainly doesn’t hurt either. With how much it took, a mild base beer like this makes the most sense.

Changes for Next Time – I was sort of hoping this one wouldn’t be delicious so that I didn’t have to source a couple hundred pounds to put into a beer next summer. Likely could drop down closer to .5 lbs/gallon for a more balanced beer, but it is delicious as is!


I’m hopeful I can get this formula approved by the TTB for Sapwood, as there are already a few commercial beers from the likes Sumac Sour from Four Quarters, Backroads from Suarez Family, and of course several sours and saisons from Scratch. That said, it seems like they are clamping down as I had both acorns and Eastern Red Cedar rejected already. I’ve had several brewers tell me that the step isn’t necessary unless you are getting label approval (not true) or that it is better to ask forgiveness than permission…

I'll be making the trip down to Asheville, NC March 22-23 for another round of BYO Boot Camps! As usual I'll be talking about Wood/Barrels one day and Sour Beers the other. I said it before, but this really is looking like the last one of these for me given how much time running a brewery takes!
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The first week of October, DC posted a notice on our front door informing us that an arborist deemed the oak tree in our front yard hazardous. Up until that moment, it would have been illegal to cut down as a "heritage" tree (over 100" in circumference). They gave us 10 days to apply for a permit and have it removed. The tree had obviously been on the down-slope for the last 10 years, but this summer a large swath had gone brown mid-August and the rest in late-September.

I was sad to see the tree go, but glad I got to brew a beer with acorns foraged from it before it went!

Oak tree removal

Last fall, inspired as usual by The Homebrewer's Almanac, I collected acorns over a few afternoons. While fresh acorns are loaded with tannins, fermented they are said to take on a wonderful aromatics reminiscent of bourbon, Madeira, and plums. The various parts of any plant usually contain shared compounds (and flavors). It has become fashionable to cook with the "garbage" parts of plants (and animals) usually thrown away. While it takes more effort to prepare collard green stems or pork feet, it can be well worth it. While oak wood is used to age thousands of beers, its acorns, leaves, and bark are not nearly as popular.

I inspected each acorn to remove any that were cracked, or otherwise marred. I briefly rinsed them, and then arranged in a single layer on a shallow baking dish in the basement to allow them to dry.

Acorns before sorting and drying

Apparently my inspection wasn't thorough enough as I missed several small blemishes (example below) that indicated an acorn weevil had laid an egg inside.

Acorn Weevil hole

A week later, after discarding those where a larva bored out, I moved the acorns to five lightly sealed pint mason jars. I didn't add water, microbes, or anything else.

Fermenting acorns in mason jars

Over the next nine months in my 65F basement the acorns slowly fermented on their own. First producing carbon dioxide and the pleasant aroma of ethanol. Then slowly a more complex aromatics of apricot, chocolate, and bourbon. Exactly which microbes are responsible is a mystery to me.

When I visited Scratch Brewing last November (on my drive from St. Louis to Indianapolis for the BYO Boot Camp... next one is March in Asheville) I had the chance to assist Marika on a batch at Scratch, and see their jars of fermenting acorns. Luckily for them, Aaron told me weevils haven't been an issue!

Acorns fermenting at Scratch Brewing

By the following summer, my acorns were smelling like a combination of whiskey distillery, apricot orchard, and old library. While their exteriors were unchanged, the interior transformed from beige to leathery brown. Non-enzymatic browning, that is to say the Maillard reaction may be at work as with black garlic? While these processes are accelerated at high temperature, they still happen when cooler.

I thought an oud bruin-ish base would provide a solid foundation for those darker flavors. I added flaked rye for body and fermented with East Coast Yeast Oud Brune (which contains no Brett, only Sacch and Lacto). ECY Flemish Ale is still hard at work on the other half of the batch. Once the Oud Bruin was finished, I added a tube screen with one cup of the cracked (with a hammer) acorns. After a few weeks I added another cup to increase the flavor contribution.

Cracked acorns

I'm hoping to use the remaining fermented acorns in a small batch at Sapwood Cellars, but the TTB isn't going along with my plans... yet. They've directed me to contact the FDA. It's amazing how many weird chemicals are approved, when a food that people have eaten for thousands of years is not.

Requiem for an Oak

Smell – Even at the higher rate the acorn character doesn’t leap out of the glass. It does have a richer, more woody-fruity aroma than any other quick sour I’ve brewed. I get some of that old book smell mingling with the Munich maltiness. There is also a brighter stonefruit aroma that prevents it from being too heavy.

Appearance – Pretty amber-brown color. Mild haze. Retention of the tan head is OK especially for a sour beer, although nothing remarkable.

Taste – Firm lactic acid, snappy without being overwhelming. The fermented acorns add leathery and fruity depth to the flavor without stepping all over the malt. I’m pretty happy with this as a lower alcohol oud bruin.

Mouthfeel – The flaked rye really helped considering this is a low alcohol sour beer. Doesn’t taste thin or watery.

Drinkability & Notes – For such a unique beer, it is pleasant to drink. The flavors meld nicely and the acorns help to simulate in a way the effect of barrel aging and Brettanomyces.

Changes for Next Time – I’d probably go even more aggressive with the acorn-rate, really to show them off. The beer could be bigger, but more malt might obscure the acorns even more.

Finished acorn oud bruin

Recipe

Batch Size: 11.00 gal
SRM: 18.0
IBU: 2.0
OG: 1.046
FG: 1.010
ABV: 4.7%
Final pH: 3.43
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72%
Boil Time: 90 mins

Fermentables
-----------------
60.4% - 16.00 lb Briess Pilsen Malt
22.6% - 6.00 lb Weyermann Munich I
11.3% - 3.00 lb Flaked Rye
3.8% - 1.00 lb Castle Special B
1.9% - 0.50 lb Weyermann Carafa Special II

Mash
-------
Mash In - 45 min @ 157F

Hops
-------
1.25 oz - 8 Year Old Willamette (Whole Cone, 1.00 % AA) @ 85 minutes

Water
--------
11 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
100
110
50
15
10
90

Other
-------
Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 mins
2 Cup Fermented Acorns @ Fermenter

Yeast
-------
East Coast Yeast Flemish Ale
East Coast Yeast Oud Brune

Notes
-------
9/29/17 Harvested five pints of acorns from the White Oak in my front yard. Allowed to dry open in the basement.

10/6/17 4 larvae of an acorn weevil hatched. Tossed any acorns with exit holes, and tried to identify all of those with small entry holes to toss. Moved remaining acorns to one-pint mason jars, attached lids, and returned to the barrel room for fermentation.

Brewed 7/9/18

7/29/18 Added 1 cup of acorns (split and in a mesh tube with marbles) to the Oud Bruin half.

8/18/18 Added another cup of acorns, loose, as the flavor wasn't there yet.

8/28/18 Racked Flemish half to secondary in glass.

9/9/18 Kegged acorn half.

I get a commission if you buy something after clicking the links to MoreBeer/Amazon/Adventures in Homebrewing/Great Fermentations/Love2Brew!
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So odd to get one of my favorite and least favorite sours out of the same wort (recipe). The half with cherries was magical, the half without is bland and listless. In addition to no cherries, this half had BM45 red wine yeast and Wyeast Roeselare in place of 58W3 and dregs from a De Garde bottle. I had reasonable results with BM45 in this Red Wine Yeast Flemish Ale, so I don't think it is to blame.

It seemed like a good time to revisit this batch because the scaled-up version went into barrels on Saturday. For the 10 bbl batch we used 58W3 for primary fermentation in stainless steel. We procured three Pinot Noir barrels plus two bourbon barrels for aging. My hope is that the spirit barrels provide a nice vanilla character to mingle with the cherries. Each will get a dose of microbes, East Coast Yeast Flemish Ale, Wyeast Roeseleare, and maybe additional microbes from our collection. Two of the barrels got 25 lbs of dried sour cherries. Next summer, when fresh sour cherries are available, we'll select barrels and blend into a tote for additional fruiting.


Wine Yeast Sour Red

Smell – Spice, caramel, apple sauce. A weird mix that doesn’t really remind me of a Flemish red. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if the flavors were enticing or synergistic.

Appearance – Pretty thick head. Nice reddish-brown color with abundant chill haze (judging from the clarity of warmer pour previously). Pretty beer at least!

Taste – Interesting spice notes as in the nose. Cinnamon especially. The fruitiness reminds me of quince paste, sort of apple, but not quite. Tart, but not really sour. The malt is one-dimensional, toasty. Not impressed by Roeselare as the sole source of microbes.

Mouthfeel – Thin, a bit watery despite finishing at 1.016. Solid medium-carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – A real meh beer. Not off in any specific way, there just isn’t anything to carry the beer.

Changes for Next Time – For the scaled-up version, we swapped the Briess base malts for equivalent Castle malts. Other than the variety of microbes and barrels, we'll be sticking pretty close to the script for the cherry version.


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Brewers often joke that they spend more time cleaning than on any other aspect of the job. That isn't quite true at Sapwood Cellars, but the cleaning aspect has been the biggest change from homebrewing. By comparison, wort production hasn't been that difficult or different. Sure it took a few batches to acclimate to the efficiency and losses on our 10 bbl Forgeworks brewhouse (as with any new brewing system), made more challenging by an unreliable flow meter. Even 15 batches in despite hitting our target mash temps, wort fermentability seems to be lower than expected. We're also still dialing in hop utilization given the thermodynamics involved with large wort volumes. Still, the concepts, ingredients, and techniques are all pretty similar to homebrewing.

When it comes to cleaning and sanitizing though, we've had to relearn the entire process. You really can't fill a fermentor with 360 gallon of Oxiclean Free and soak overnight or swirl and scrub... I miss those days. First, let's talk about chemicals and what they do. Our main supplier is AFCO, but Berko, Five-Star, and Loeffler all have fans. Prices seemed similar, we just didn't think about ordering until a couple weeks before we started brewing and picked the one with the quickest turnaround time. We buy most of the chemicals in 5 gallon jugs, and pump them into beakers to measure and dose.

The chemicals we use to clean and sanitize our brewery.

Chemicals

Caustic (5229 Caustic) - Caustic is the primary cleaner used by most breweries. Usually sodium hydroxide based and heavily alkaline. It is ideal for breaking down and removing organic deposits (e.g., krausen rings). You can do a bit of trading-off between time, temperature, pressure, and concentration. That said, 2-3% caustic at ~150F (66C) for 20-30 minutes through the sprayball has been a pretty good place to start for us. Caustic is dangerous because it is capable of breaking down your skin (the lye used in soap making is similar). We started with a powdered caustic (Wash-It), but given the price and efficacy we transitioned to liquid.

Phosphoric-Nitric Acid Blend (5397 Microlex Special 30) - Acid helps to remove inorganic deposits, i.e., beerstone (calcium oxalate). It also helps to neutralize any residual caustic (not that there should be any with adequate rinsing) and to passivate stainless steel. Acid blend is used at similar temperatures and cycle lengths as caustic, although slightly cooler, ~130F (54C).

Five Star Peroxyacetic Acid (PAA) - While there are many sanitizers available, PAA is the most popular for breweries. At the right concentrations it is a robust sanitizer with high effectiveness. It breaks down to acetic acid, so it can be used no-rinse. It is a powerful oxidizer, which makes it important to drain any residual before fermented beer enters a tank or keg. Our bucket was leftover from the old brewery in our space, so we bought a pack of test strips and it still reads the expected concentration after dilution.

Five Star PBW - We have a bucket of this alkaline powered cleaner for soaking hot-side equipment and other gear where we don't want to have to be as careful as we would with caustic. We both used it at home, so were more comfortable with it than the Chlorinated Manual Cleaner we started with.

Iodophor (4330 Spark I2) - Similar to the PBW, it is nice to have a less hazardous sanitizer for spraying ports or soaking fittings. It is only effective on clean surfaces, so it is important to remove of detritus before expecting it to work.

Grain Alcohol - Given its quick kill times and evaporation ethanol is the ideal sanitizer for spray bottles and any surfaces that are highly sensitive (e.g., yeast culturing). Isopropyl alcohol is another option.

General Concepts

Pre-Heating - At this scale a tank has so much thermal mass that you can't simply put 15 gallons (57 L) of hot water to a tank and expect it to still be hot after circulating. As a result if you want the caustic or acid to stay hot, you need to pray hot water into the tank. A tank with an electric element (like our keg washer has) helps too.

Sprayball - Most tanks have a port that leads to a sprayball, a small metal orb that spins and sprays when liquid is forced through. These aren't always perfect, and can have blind spots, especially in ports and above it. In addition, it isn't effective at cleaning its own exterior.

A sprayball from our kettle.

Passivation - This is what makes stainless steel stainless, a thin layer of chromium atoms at the surface that prevents iron from rusting or leeching into the beer (which weakens the equipment and shortens its lifespan). With a pristinely clean surface, the oxygen in the atmosphere is enough to accomplish this, but acids (especially nitric) are more effective.

Safety

These chemicals aren't anything to joke about. Many brewers have scars gained from caustic or acid dripping onto their skin . Safety glasses, long gloves, chemical resistant boots and pants are a must when handling them. Read the safety data sheet for each chemical you are using and know what to do if some gets on your skin or in your eyes. I don't get to drink as much beer as I used to because the end of the day is usually the most dangerous time.

Scott and I prefer to have all of the tank's arms connected from the start, allowing us to use valves to direct the flow of the cleaning and sanitizing solutions. We started off using a manifold coming off the pump, but have changed to daisy-chained T's between the arms. Many brewers prefer to simply move a single output line from the pump between the arms. This requires less setup time, but more active effort once cleaning begins (moving the hose from arm to arm ~10 times through the process). It also carries additional risks if you move the hose without closing a valve.

Our Fermentor CIP Process

1. Once the beer is out of a tank, we turn off the glycol jackets and open the dump valve. We then shoot high-pressure cold water through the sprayball to remove most of the hops/yeast struck to the sides and bottom.

2. We use our on-demand hot water heater to generate 130F (54C) water to spray through the sprayball and manually through a hose to dislodge the bulk of the crud stuck to the sides/top of the fermentor. We'll run it through the pump to get good coverage.

Tankless on-demand hot water heater.

3. We briefly remove the lower fittings on the tanks (including manway, racking arm, thermometer, sample port) to spray out the trub caught in them.

4. We blow compressed air through the sprayball at ~30 PSI with the bottom valve open for 30 minutes. CO2 neutralizes caustic, so best to remove as much as possible before proceeding. This long is likely overkill for a 10 bbl tank, but can't hurt.

5. We assemble our cleaning rig, usually a pump running to the sprayball, with a T to connect it to the racking arm and another to the blow-off.

The pump we use for cleaning.

The fermentor during the cleaning process.

5. We preheat the tank for a couple minutes by spraying 160F (71C) water in and letting it drain. We hook the water line in right before the pump so we can immediately go to cleaning once it is preheated. Our goal is to get the tank to read ~130F (54C).

6. We then use the hot water heater's built-in meter to send 10-15 gallons of 160F (71C) water into the tank. We dose in 3 oz of caustic per gallon (2.3%) using a stainless steel elbow on one of the ports (chasing the caustic with water to ensure it get in). We then turn the elbow down to allow that port to equalize the pressure inside the tank, while preventing caustic from spitting out.

7. I like to send a little flow through the blow-off and racking arm first to soak them during the 20-25 minutes sprayball at full pressure (60 hz on our pump - or a bit slower if it cavitates). Then five minutes through the other arms, before a final five through the sprayball.

6. Dump the caustic. Rinse each arm with hot water, then burst rinse 10 times for 10 seconds at 130F (54C) through the sprayball, allowing it to drain before each successive rinse. I'll often put 10-15 gallons (38-57 L) into the tank once or twice and recirculate at the end to make sure there is enough pressure to spray all the surfaces. You can check the pH of the drained rinse water to ensure it has returned close normal before proceeding.

2. We then take off all of the fittings (including the sprayball itself), soak them in PBW or caustic. We inspect the fittings and gaskets, rinse and put into a bucket of iodophor. For the ports we spray, scrub and spritz with iodophor before reassembling. We also take the chance to inspect the interior with a flashlight to ensure there are no deposits.

7. We run acid blend at 2 oz per gallon (1.5% by volume) using roughly the same process and times as the caustic. Significantly higher concentrations should be used on new equipment and once a year to ensure adequate passivation.

8. Usually we'll air-dry at this point unless we need the tank the following day. In that case we'll rinse and then sanitize with peroxyacetic acid in cool water at 200 PPM using the same rig, and pressurize the tank to 4 PSI of CO2 to ensure it holds. The next morning we'll dump any residual sanitizer from each port before running wort or beer in.

The whole process including sanitation takes three hours, but most of that time isn't active (just waiting for a purge, or cycle). Going longer on any of the times isn't a big deal, so it is easy to run while working on other things if you keep track of your progress and don't miss a step.

We haven't gotten a CIP cart with dedicated vessels and pump, so our biggest issue currently is that it is difficult for one of us to clean a tank while the other person brews because they require some of the same equipment. Luckily our current schedule of two batches a week doesn't make that too much of an issue.

I am by no means holding this up as a perfect or ideal process. It'll likely be viewed as overkill by some, and inadequate by others. But if you have constructive suggestions, I'd love to hear them! I'd rather err towards overkill because we're dealing with several yeast strains (including killer wine yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. diastaticus, not to mention Brettanomyces and Pediococcus in a dedicated tank), although we do have the advantage of only dealing with kegs stored cold.

Other Pieces

We addition we'll pump the same chemicals through our heat exchanger and carbonation stone. For the heat exchanger we also heat pasteurize by running 180F (82C) water for 20 minutes inline once we assemble our knock-out rig (we discard the water until we see wort before sending to the fermentor). Our keg cleaner automatically does the same process on our sanke kegs, including air and CO2 purges to recapture the caustic and sanitizer.
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Cleared by the final runnings.

My homebrewing-rate has slowed dramatically the last couple months, not coincidentally we brewed our first batch at the brewery around that time (House Saison brew day). Part of that is brewing 10 bbls about twice a week, the rest is how much time I spend at the brewery doing other stuff. My plan for The Mad Fermentationist is to keep up the same style of post, with recipes and tasting notes for occasional Sapwood Cellars beers. I'll still document homebrew batches when I can, mostly test batches or experiments with impractically weird ingredients.

The first beer I wanted to cover is my favorite of the initial four clean batches, Rings of Light. For those interested the name, is a subtle The Fellowship of the Rings reference: "They watched the pale rings of light round his lanterns as they dwindled into the foggy night." It is exactly the sort of beer I love drinking, moderate alcohol (4.8% ABV), but with a huge hop flavor and aroma and a surprisingly luscious mouthfeel. Luckily Untappd reviews have been pretty positive, and it is our tasting room's top seller so far!

You'll likely recognize most of the elements of the recipe as things Scott and I have been doing for years. Golden Naked Oats, Chit malt, Boddington's yeast (RVA Manchester), moderate-high chloride and sulfate, less expensive hops in the boil (Cascade and Columbus), and Citra dry-hopping. We added mid-late fermentation additions to several of our other batches, but this one was soft-crashed to 58F before dry hopping so we could harvest the yeast for re-pitching into an IPA (Cheater Hops) and DIPA (Uncontrollable Laughter). 

Scott dry hopping Rings of Light.

The process tweaks have mostly been to account for the differences related to the physics of working at scale. For example, usually I'd add a small dose of hops at 15 minutes to up the bitterness, but in this case the extended contact after flame-out makes that unnecessary (between whirlpool, settling, and run-off near-boiling wort is in contact with hops for more than a hour). In fact, we added one barrel of cold water at flame-out to lower the whirlpool temperature to reduce isomerization. Beersmith 3 includes the capability to specify the average temperature of the wort during the whirlpool, still the estimate seems to be wildly higher than the perceived bitterness. I wonder if the hops settling, mixing with the proteins in the trub-cone slows the isomerization rate?

It has taken a little time to dial in our Forgeworks brew house. We achieved slightly lower efficiency and attenuation on this batch than expected for example. We've made a few mistakes and miscalculations along the way, but given neither of us had brewed frequently at a commercial scale I'm happy to report that things have been relatively smooth. Our biggest issues have been with the durability of the equipment itself. For example the rakes in the mash tun detached from the motor twice, and our burner shorted after a boil-over. What is taking the most effort to optimize is our cleaning and sanitation regimen. 

Kegging pale ale.

Thanks to everyone who came out to our grand opening last weekend! I didn't expect as many fans of the blog to drive from an hour or more away to try the beers and say hello. Either Scott or I will be there most of the time we're open, so let us know! Happy to show you around and talk brewing. For those further away, I'm also running the brewery's Twitter and Facebook accounts for now (Scott took Instagram because I couldn't figure it out).

Rings of Light in the tasting room.

Rings of Light

Smell – Pleasantly mango-melon hop aroma. As it approaches room temperature I get a slightly toasty-vanilla-richness thanks to the yeast playing off the Golden Naked Oats. Otherwise a pretty clean/fresh aroma.

Appearance – Pleasantly hazy yellow, glowing in the right lighting. I guess we did an adequate job avoiding oxygen pickup during transfers and kegging as it hasn’t darkened! We certainly pulled some hop matter into the bright tank, but it mostly settled out and stayed behind when we kegged, as I don’t see any particulate in the pour. Head is really thick, but could have better retention.

Taste – I really love the flavor on this, really saturated with juicy hops. Similar to the aroma, the tropical flavors from the Citra dominate the Cascade and Columbus. We were surprised how hop-forward it was even before dry hopping (perhaps thanks to the deep kettle slowing the evaporation of the oils?). Bitterness is pleasant, but restrained. Well below the estimated 70+ IBUs, more like 40-50 to my palate.

Mouthfeel – Full bodied, especially for a  sub-5% beer. That is thanks to the oats, and low attenuation (which allowed for more malt for the given alcohol). As usually the substantial texture of the head from the chit malt really enhances the perception of creaminess.

Drinkability & Notes – Glad this beer ended up as an early-fall release. It is a little full for a quenching summer pale ale, but it is perfect for temperate weather. The hops are well balanced, and provide enough interest to demand each additional sip. The malt mostly stays hidden, while providing adequate support.

Changes for Next Time – We’ve already got a new batch of this fermenting with the same grist and kettle-hops, although given the tweaks (higher original gravity and different yeast: Lallemand New England and S-04) it may receive a different name.

Recipe

Batch Size: 315.00 gal
SRM: 4.9
IBU: 73.7
OG: 1.052
FG: 1.018
ABV: 4.8%
Final pH: 4.54
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68%
Boil Time: 60 Mins

Fermentables
-----------------
75% - 495 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
16.7% - 110 lbs Simpsons Golden Naked Oats
8.3% - 55 lbs Best Chit Malt

Mash
-------
Mash In - 60 min @ 153F

Hops
-------
11 lbs Cascade (Pellets, 7.20% AA) - Steep/Whirlpool 75.0 min
11 lbs Columbus (Pellets, 15.70% AA) - Steep/Whirlpool 75.0 min
22 lbs Citra (Pellets, 12.00% AA) - Dry Hop Day 10

Other
-------
40 g Whirlfloc G @ 15 mins

Water
-------
200 ml Phosphoric Acid 75% @ Mash
1.00 lb Calcium Chloride @ Mash
0.70 lb Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) @ Mash
50 ml Phosphoric Acid 75% @ Sparge

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
120
150
100
20
5
100

Yeast
-------
RVA Manchester Ale #132

Notes
-------
Brewed 8/29/18

Collected 315 gallons of water.

All salts and 100 ml acid right after mash-in. Ran rakes for 15 minutes, started recirculation 10 minutes after mash in. After 10 min of recirculation, measured temp at 152.8F.

Measured mash pH at 5.42, add 50 mL more acid. 5.39, add 50 mL more acid. 5.34.

Sparge water 183F, pH 6.47 with acid addition - more next time

Start of boil with 11 bbls of 1.055 runnings.

Added 1 bbl of cold water at the start of the whirlpool. Combined temperature 196F, added hops.

Run-off started at 66F. .5L/min of O2 through in-line stone.

Ended up with a wort temperature of 64F. Set tank to to 66F. By the next morning the glycol chiller had popped the breaker and the tank was at 69F... Reset and lowered to 67F.

8/31 Raised set-point to 69F to ensure finish.

9/3 Fermentation appears nearly complete from lack of CO2 production. Tastes good, better hop aroma than expected. Up to 70F to ensure it is done before soft crashing.

9/6 Harvested yeast. Left blow-off open so no dissolved CO2.

9/7 Dry hopped with 22 lbs of Citra through the top port while running 25 PSI of CO2 and blow-off arm closed. Closed everything and add 5 PSI as head pressure.

9/8 Pushed 15 PSI through racking arm for 1 minute to rouse, 18 hours after dry hopping. Dropped temperature to 54F.

9/9 Pushed 15 PSI through racking arm for 1 minute. Dropped temperature to 50F.

9/10 Crashed to 36F.

9/12 Moved to bright tank. 3 L/min of CO2 set to 16 PSI got to ~11 PSI at 36 F. 2.6 volumes of CO2 prior to kegging.

9/15 Kegged, 17 kegs with the last almost full.

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Split Test Batch Rye

I have nothing against brewing to-style. You can make magnificent and delicious beers by using ingredients from a single region with the goal of a classic balance. That isn't who I am as a brewer though. The recipe for Sapwood Cellars' False Dragon is the sort that I'm passionate about. We selected ingredients from all over the globe to create a flavors and aromas that aren't authentic to any one tradition. What I wanted was an earthy-crisp malt flavor, a white-winey hop aroma (for less money than Nelson Sauvin), and a subtle spicy and fruity-boost from the yeast without getting in the way. That required malts from America and England, hops from America and Germany, and yeast from England and Belgium.

Scott adding Centennial hops to the whirlpool

I'd been experimenting with the hop bill for a few months to get the ratio right, and eventually settled on 2:1 in favor of Mosaic. After a few test batches, Scott and I have embraced adding less expensive hops on the hot-side (Cascade, Columbus, Chinook, Centennial etc.) with the more aromatic and expensive varieties saved for the fermentor. I wanted to split my homebrewed test batch to compare S-04 alone against S-04 with 8% T-58. As with Ziparillo, dry yeast is cost-effective especially if you can't repitch thanks to early or mid-fermentation dry hopping. Belgian strains have shown heightened biotranformation abilities is some studies, so it seemed like a good candidate for double dry-hopping.

Dry yeast pitched into a 10 bbl batch

For the 10 bbl batch we decided to fill-in a gap in our range when the first batch of Rings of Light (our Citra dry-hopped hazy pale ale) came in under-alcohol at 4.8% thanks to lower-than-expected efficiency. In effect the two recipes switched places with False Dragon becoming the "bigger" pale ale at 5.3% rather than the 4.7% of the test batch. Our attenuation has been lower than expected across the board for our first five batches too. We're still trying to figure out the cause given it has happened with multiple yeast strains - likely mash related. Luckily our hop flavor and aroma have both been wildly better than either Scott or I have been able to achieve at home, I'm sure surface-to-volume ratio plays a role.

Your first chance to try this beer is at the Sapwood Cellars grand opening, Noon-10 PM on Saturday 9/29. We'll be open Thursday-Friday 4-10 PM and Saturdays Noon-10 PM from then on. Stop in, drink a beer, say hello!

The name False Dragon come from The Wheel of Time series of books by Robert Jordan. My commute has gone from 20 minutes on the subway to my desk job to ~40 minutes by car. Audio books are my new friend. While I'm sure brewing podcasts would be a more productive use of my time, after 12 hours brewing it is nice to have a little escapism.

Test batch False Dragon with S-04

False Dragon S-04

Smell – Had to go for a fresh pour after taking photos as it had gone a hint skunky after five minutes in the sun… Nose is a fresh “true” hop aroma to the Mosaic and Hallertau Blanc. White wine, but also some blueberry and green/herbaceous. Certainly Nelson-reminiscent, but a unique character as well.

Appearance – Pale yellow, pleasantly hazy. Good head and lacing, but the foam itself feels airy on the tongue. I guess I’ve gotten used (and miss) to the contribution of chit malt.

Taste – A firm amount of bitterness in the finish, but it doesn’t linger. Light and bright with the tropical-fruity hops starring. Rye doesn’t really make a strong showing, although I’ve always found it more subtle than some others taste.

Mouthfeel – The rye helps prevent it from being watery, but it is a summery pale ale. Glad we ended up a little higher OG/FG on the big batch. Medium carbonation, nice for a lighter beer.

Drinkability & Notes – A pleasant session IPA. The Mosaic and Hallertau Blanc work better together than apart.

Changes for Next Time – 10% chit in place of the base malt wouldn’t hurt. Could certainly up the rye too for a bigger contribution.

Test batch False Dragon with S-04 and T-58

S-04 and T-58

Smell – More rounded, less grassy-distinct hop aroma. Tropical, juicy, inviting. The green flavors are now more honeydew melon. Impossible to say how much of that is actual hop chemical reaction, or synergistic between the hops and esters. Lightly bready.

Appearance – Looks similar in terms of head, color, and clarity.

Taste – Lower perceived bitterness. A more saturated/integrated fruity hop flavor. Passionfruit especially. I think this is the more approachable and interesting beer, and distinct from the other English-only fermentation we are doing (using RVA Manchester). Slightly elevated phenols, but much lower than from the WB-06 in Ziparillo.

Mouthfeel – Slightly creamier (perhaps just the lower perceived bitterness?), identical carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – I was able to identify these pretty easily in a blind tasting. It is amazing how much impact such a small amount of yeast can make.

Changes for Next Time – We decided to back down the T-58 4.4% of the blend to allow a bit more of that fresh/distinct hop character through. Other than the higher gravity, the recipe was otherwise unchanged for the 315 gallon batch! We’ll probably up the rye for batch #2 now that we know we can handle higher percentages of high beta-glucan huskless grains.

False Dragon - Test Batch

Batch Size: 11.00 gal
SRM: 4.1
IBU: 30.0
OG: 1.046
FG: 1.012/1.012
ABV: 4.7%
Final pH: 4.43/4.49
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72%
Boil Time: 60 mins

Fermentables
-----------------
75.6% - 17 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
14.4% - 3.25 lbs Briess Rye Malt
10.0 % - 2.25 lbs Crisp Floor Malted Maris Otter

Mash
-------
Mash In - 45 min @ 156F

Hops
-------
8.00 oz Centennial (Pellet, 7.20%) @ 30 min Steep/Whirlpool
6.00 oz Mosaic (Pellet, 12.25%) @ Dry Hop Day 3
3.00 oz Hallertau Blanc (Pellet, 10.50%) @ Dry Hop Day 3
6.00 oz Mosaic (Pellet, 12.25%) @ Dry Hop Day 7
3.00 oz Hallertau Blanc (Pellet, 10.50%) @ Dry Hop Day 7

Other
-------
1 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 mins

Water
-------
18 g Calcium Chloride
12 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
6 tsp Phosphoric Acid 10%

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
150
150
150
15
10
90

Yeast
-------
11.5 g SafAle S-04 English Ale
or
11.5 g SafAle S-04 English Ale
1 g SafBrew T-58 Specialty Ale

Notes
-------
Brewed 8/19/18

Mash pH = 5.44 (at mash temp) after acid additions.

Collected 14.5 gallons of 1.046 runnings.

Added heat to maintain a whirlpool temperature of 200F.

Chilled to 64F. Half with 1 g of T-58 and 11 g of S-04, and half with only 11 g of S-04. Left at 62F ambient to begin fermentation after shaking to aerate.

69F internal temperature during peak fermentation.

8/22 Dry hopped each with 3 oz of Mosaic and 1.5 oz of Hallertau Blanc.

8/27 Second dry hop for both.

9/1 Kegged both, 1.012, moved to fridge to chill.

9/2 Hooked up to gas and tapped to remove sludge. S-04 batch clogged poppet a few times.

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Brite tank sample of False Dragon

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