Cryo Hops and Short Boils – An Extract Only Homebrew Experiment

Cryo Hops: Magic hops made from Science-ing!

What can I say?  I got an itch to do an extract only homebrew recipe.

For those of you that are still reading, despite the “extract-only” nature of this post, there are a few things at play with this recipe.  First, it’s a very small beer, weighing in at less than 4% ABV. Second, the entire boil will only last 15 minutes, and all of the IBUs in this beer are coming from late hop additions.  Third, I’m using fucking Cryo Hops!

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Things I’ve Learned From Working in a Brewery


Clearly, this man works in a brewery. Just look at his beard!

For the last two and a half years, I’ve worked in a brewery.  I don’t talk about it much because this is a homebrewing blog, and I don’t want my posts and discussions to stray into the world of commercial craft brewing. However, I’ve learned some things from my time in a brewery that translate to the homebrewer’s world.

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Overcoming Homebrew Bottling Exasperation

beer bottles

I have recurring nightmares about endless mobs of empty beer bottles. Please God, make it stop!

I really don’t like bottling my beer.  It’s quite literally my least favorite part of the homebrewing process.  It’s repetitive, tedious, and storing bottles takes up a lot of space. I genuinely look forward to buying a kegging system and blissfully abandoning my massive, yet necessarily evil collection of empties in the recycling dumpster.  However, I don’t want my cantankerous attitude towards bottling to discourage any newbie hombrewers. As such, here are a few good tips on managing your mutinous army of glass.

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Homebrew Bottling Woes: A Haiku

obligatory Japanese print

I hate you, bottles.

All the cool kids are kegging.

This takes way too long.

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Safbrew S-33 Dry Ale Yeast: First Impressions

Safale S-33

Safale S-33: The incorrigibly stubborn prima donna of dry ale yeasts.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of dry yeasts.  I know a lot of homebrewers think dry yeasts are inherently inferior to the various liquid offerings from Wyeast and White Labs. But I’m not one of those guys.  I’ve been consistently happy with the results I get from Danstar Nottingham and Safale US-05 for quite a while.  However, after a friend’s recommendation, I recently tried Safbrew S-33.  So far, I’m not terribly impressed.

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Viking Mead: Ragnarök Not Included

Hi, I’m Erik. I enjoy long walks on the beach, planting battle axes in people’s skulls, an occasional Hnefatafl match, and a nice glass of mead.

Other than writing a report on Erik the Red in the 3rd grade and owning Led Zeppelin’s entire catalog, I’m not well versed in the rich traditions of Viking Age Norse culture.  In addition to the oft cited raping and pillaging, a quick Google search for “viking hobbies” revealed that they also enjoyed a game called Hnefatafl, which was similar to chess. However, this week Lucas and I embarked on one of the greatest Viking traditions of all:  brewing mead.

Mead is simply honey wine.  I’d never brewed mead before.  So for this first batch, we decided to keep things simple.  Fruit?  No.  Eccentric spices or herbs? No.  We only used 17 pounds of locally produced honey, Lalvin K1-V1116 champagne yeast, and some sort of superpowered multivitamin yeast nutrient to prevent stuck fermentation.

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Homebrew Voodoo Economics

Hamm's Beer drawing

Behold my MS Paint skills — Hamm’s Beer: No really, it’s not that bad.

There are two types of homebrewers; those who start homebrewing because they’ve heard it’s cheaper than buying commercial beer, and those who stick with it because they enjoy it.

A while back, a friend of a friend tried one of my homebrews and became momentarily intrigued with homebrewing. He eventually mentioned that he’d heard it was cheaper to homebrew rather than buy commercial beer.  Our conversation went something like this:

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How Utah Changed My Approach To Homebrewing

Welcome to Utah!

I grew up in Taylorsville, UT.  It’s a suburb of Salt Lake City, located in the southwestern part of the I-215 loop.  We moved away when I was 12, so youthful innocence prevented me from fully appreciating the genuine absurdity of Utah’s blue laws — most notably the state’s 4% ABV restriction on beer.

This past week, my girlfriend and I spent a few days snowboarding in Park City, and I got a chance to spend some time in my old stomping grounds.  I’m happy to report that, despite restrictions, there’s some really great beer being brewed in Salt Lake City.

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Mashing Grains In A French Press For Yeast Starters

Pilsner malt mashing in my French press

Pilsner malt mashing in my French press

After brewing the Saison earlier this week, I had about a pound of leftover Pilsner malt that was just staring at me.  I didn’t have much use for it, so I was going to simply toss it on the compost pile.  But then I remembered the expired packet of Munton’s generic ale yeast I had in the fridge.

About a year ago, I thought about using my French press to mash grains for yeast starter wort.  I thought the idea was pretty brilliant, but I never got around to trying it.  It makes great coffee, and the process for mashing grains is almost identical.

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Getting A Jump On Saison Season

Saison Dupont

This year for Presidents’ Day, since it was too cold to BBQ, I decided to brew some beer with my friend and homebrew compatriot, Lucas.  With the STL permafrost finally gone, and Punxsutawney Phil’s promise of an early spring, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get 5 gallons of Saison in the fermenter.  Overall things went great.  Mash temps and original gravity numbers were spot on.  However, in the wake of mother nature’s antagonistic “spring is coming” fake out, I overlooked the fact that it’s probably too cold to ferment this style properly.

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