Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Funkadelic Mastery; Brew day Easy Brett Beer

As we brewed we
sampled my disaster
brew day, Brett beer.
Its excellent.
Sorry it's been so long, I am in the middle of a move, and I just haven't had time to post.

So last week John and I joined Mark Anthony at his place for a Funkakelic brew day night.    We set out to brew a 2.5 gallon batch of golden ale.  But not just any golden ale.   This golden ale was destined for the funky side.    This is the easy way to make a Brett beer.   Now, first a warning,  easy brett beer is definitely brett, but it lacks the complexity of a 1 year old 100% brett beer.  It is definitely brett, but you get subtle notes of leather, and horse blanket and cherry pie, and tobacco.  Not big huge notes.   More like a serenade and less like Wagner's ring cycle.

Fine crush, doesn't
seem like very much
John crushed the grains at his house.  And brought them over in one of our trusty "soy" sauce buckets.  If you are unaware of this resource, most Chinese restaurants have buckets and they will sell them to you for a buck.   They are stained with soy sauce so I wouldn't recommend them for fermentation, but they are really good for other brewing needs.

Just two simple hop additions.
We mashed and brewed like normal.  With only one slight change, we mashed at 156-158 F.  The mash bill was simple 3 # of two row, 1 # of Vienna, and .5# of  spitz malt. (an undermodified high protein version of carapils by Cargill's partner Muessdoerffer, really good stuff) Our goal was to create lots of long chain sugars for the Brett to eventually eat.   There were only two hop additions.   Both merely to provide balance.  We used up some old hops we had at John's.   But other than that, it was really just a fun normal brew night.

We did not treat the water for this. Well not much.  We used Five Star 5.2 stabilizer.  But no other adjustments were made.  Brett can survive in tap water no problem.   And if the yeast under attenuates and additional sugars are left behind that is just fine.  There are sours that I brew where I do a full modification of the brewing water.  But that is not the point of the easy brett recipe.   Having said that the pH stabilized at about 5.68, not too shabby.  My attitude about 5.2 stabilizer is this,  No, it isn't perfect.  It will not magically get you to 5.2.  But it will get you close.  A little acid malt and you are in pretty good shape.   No, it will not make your beer taste salty, it isn't that kind of salt.  So when you hear that dribble from someone, you'll now know not to listen to them.

The boil was awesome.  Mark's stove is a beast. I don't know why but it just cranks out the heat for small batch brewing.  The hot break was huge for a small batch.  I think that was due in part to the spitz malt.

At the end of the brew day we chilled the batch in the sink and pitched a pack of S-04.

If we wanted to we could just let it finish out, bottle it and be done.   But that is not what we are doing with this batch.   This batch will be headed for funky beer greatness.  This batch was pitched with Fermentis S-04 English ale yeast.  S-04 is one of the work horses of the brewing industry, and of home brewing.   It provides nice subtle fruity esters and is extremely reliable.  But, it is not the best attenuating yeast on the market.   So it leaves behind lots of sugars.   That is exactly what we wanted.  We wanted residual sugars and long chain sugars for the Brett to work on.   Well rack the beer to 1 gallon jugs this week, and then  when Mark gets back from Brazil, we will all sit down, enjoy a unpasteurized brett beer.  And then we will pitch the dregs of that beer into this beer.   It is that simple.   3 to 6 months later we will have a delicious Brett fermented beer to drink.  It will take on the characteristics of Brett, and it will darken some in color over time.  Not sure why.   We will be splitting this batch at racking.  So we may age some of it on oak and sour cherries.

If you enjoy Brett beers.  This is by far the easiest way to make one.   I encourage you all to give it a try.

That is all for now sports fans.  Prost!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Clone Wars: Part 1

Do you remember you first time?

By John Borders - Contributor, recipe wizard, and all around nice guy.

This is the beginning of a series here on Counterbrew about clone beers, clone beer recipe development, and how home brewers can mimic some of the commercial practices to create great clone beers.  We will explore where to get recipes, how to tell if they are any good, and how to make them consistently.   We will be cloning and brewing; Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Heady Topper, Pilsner Urquel, Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and Westvleteren Abbey #12. UPDATE:  Several of you have sent private messages requesting Boulevard's "the Calling", so it is definitely on the agenda. Enthusiastic, and passionate home brewer John Borders is heading up this series for Counterbrew.   Don't let John's modesty fool you, he has brewed more batches this year than many of you have brewed in your entire brewing career.  Over 20 so far this year.  So he really has the fundamentals down.  And, he has a talent for cloning beers.  Somehow the right combination, of malt, hops, and yeast just makes sense to him.   Enjoy.   We welcome your input on other beers you would like to see cloned, King Julius anyone?  John gives his first recipe clone at the bottom. 

Do you remember your first time drinking one of the really rare beers?  Did you want to shout from the social media mountaintop about your achievement in sourcing, consuming, and enjoying that rare craft beer?  Or did you contemplate keeping it a secret in an effort to consume the sweet nectar all by your lonesome.  While these instances have been few and far between for this Midwest guy, the glorious occasion of scoring a white whale has happened to me several times.   Recently a friend brought both Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder over for a tasting.  

For those of you who are new to the craft beer world or have just begun “hunting” for the latest and greatest the industry has to offer, a white whale is a beer that so infrequently hits your area that a mere Facebook or Twitter post about it from a libation retailer breaks the local Internet.  A few breweries have really figured out the supply/demand equation that drives us wild as our mad dash for these elusive whales has us pondering their actual existence. Can you blame them, really?  By limiting release they sell everything they make, control costs predictably, and create loads of buzz.
The tactic of limiting production of certain, mostly high ABV brews, has become so effective that small stadiums of beer consumers have become willing to travel hundreds of miles – or more – for as little as 12 ounces of what some might describe as heaven in a bottle. For those who can drop the cash required to visit the California wine country to sip on Russian River 's Pliny The Younger, my jealousy is immeasurable. If you have the time and energy to drive through the winding roads of the Northeast to acquire as much Heady Topper the store clerk will let you take of their hands, I commend you. Or better yet, if you ever get lost en route to Chicago and end up in Munster, Indiana, a stop into 3 Floyds Brewing Company is as imperative as that last rest stop you just passed. Those three are only but a sampling of the most desirable, hard to find beers in the USofA. Even more of these whales exist globally as import gold. Ever heard of Westvleteren Abbey 12?
So, maybe you’re not in a position to schedule your entire year around white whale releases. You live in SoCal, and Burlington Vermont might as well be Honolulu. Well, you could trade Pliny for Heady or for Abner.  if you have something of equal scarcity to offer up, you could offer that. Or you could find a retailer with an online store, but be prepared for purchase minimums – possibly waiting lists. You can get one (1) can from Alchemist or Lawson’s if you add on six bombers from somewhere else that you hadn’t planned trying. But hey, you ‘ll get to taste a bunch of new beers.  Check local laws before you order online, some states do not allow this practice.  So what options do we normal, beer aficionados do when we neither claim desirable geographic proximity to these breweries or just do not have the funding available to acquire them through “beer trading”? The answer is, you search for an alternative. My alternative is to make it myself.  To head to the internet,  find some recipes, discuss them with my brewing partners, and make the beer myself. 

100 quart mash tun
capable of 10 gallon no sparge
or 20 gallon batch sparge.
Now I have been guilty of this searching, trading, and having friends source beers for me before.  I also must admittedly say as an all grain home brewer, my ability is still growing.  Luckily, I have a great team, and in the past 6 months, We have made over 40 batches of beer.  So what I lack in years, I make up for in consistency, and practice. The other benefit of brewing with a team is the splitting of costs not only of ingredients, but also equipment.  We have the ability to do a small, 2-3 gallon batch on the stove top, all the way up to a 10 gallon, no sparge system.   As a brewer, I am just now getting into designing my own beers, so up to this point I am what you would call a “Clone Brewer”. Basically, I find recipes for my favorite beers, or beer styles and I make it myself. It is fun, it is cheap, and it is addicting.  I carefully vet these recipes out before I brew them.  I'll write more on that at a later time.  You have to do your due diligence with clone recipes. There are a lot of guys writing recipes for home brew that have a lot of enthusiasm but no real experience. 
Now for those of you wondering if I have the capability of tricking your very advanced pallets into thinking I have perfectly replicated the illustrious Zombie Dust.  I am flattered by your regard but, I must let you down. I will never perfectly replicate the taste of Pliny, Kentucky Breakfast Stout, or Pseudo Sue; but in my efforts, I will in fact make something I am proud to put my name on. And in the end I get damned close.  Close enough that the differences are very subtle.  At the end of the day, isn’t that all we really want anyway?  A great beer, and to know in general the flavor of one of these great white whales?

My Zombie Dust and the real
thing.  Mine was actually
lighter in color...
My first clone attempt was of the aforementioned Zombie Dust. It was a fun time and as many of you in the craft brewing community, finding a recipe to closely replicate this gem is not too difficult. I did however luck into some of the real stuff to try while comparing next to my effort (aren’t friends business travels the best?). I must say it was a treat, I had my concoction in a glass right next to this near mythical beer, and it was glorious.
Since this first clone attempt I have made numerous cloned batches including several offerings from Russian River, Dogfish Head, and Saison De Pipaix by the great Belgian brewery, Brasserie à Vapeur. If the task of cloning these particular beers seems to be too momentous for you, I advise you start your clone-brewing hobby by making something that is readily available to you. A suggestion may be to try and replicate your favorite craft beer from the local brewery, or maybe even replicating the one that got you into beer in the first place which for me was the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Home brewing isn’t for everyone. It requires a lot of time, effort and patience but can certainly be considered a labor of love. If your quest to find the White Whales in the craft brew jungle is as determined and noble as the Knights of The Round Table, I salute you. If your ambition does not run quite as deep, try making it in your kitchen; you may surprise yourself with what you are capable of creating!
If you have a favorite clone recipe you would like me to try, or would like some advice on finding great clone recipes, comment below and I will be more than happy to help!

Here's my Zombie dust clone - Oh and make sure your hops are fresh and well cared for it it the key to making this beer great.   Always adjust your recipe based on alpha acids.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Another dIPA Brew Day...

Saturday,  the gang gathered to brew another dIPA.   (see previous post).   Today we were using up the amazing hops sent to us by the good people at BSG, and all Cargill Malts.    If you have never used Cargill malts,   you really should give them a try. (although, you probably already have and didn't know it, Cargill brings you Dingeman's, Warminster, and Gambrinus Malts)  We get consistently great quality, and excellent extraction from Cargill.    Today's brew featured Cargill Pale Two Row,  Acidulated, Carapils, and C80.   Yes I realize C80 wasn't on the previous post.  We decided the color was too light so we added C80.

Jake's mom dropped by, and brought us a "todd the ax man"
Damned fine beer.
Today's brew was a no sparge brew in a bag in a cooler.   This has become our standard brewing method as a team.   It is true that you get slightly lower efficiency from this method.   But only slightly.   Your crush is what really influences your efficiency.  Today we got 75.96% efficiency.  When we do pure BIAB with a sparge rinse we generally get about 10 points higher.   But the brew days also last at least an hour longer.   I personally am just fine with our efficiency.  Too many home brewers are focused on efficiency, as if it is the goal of home brewing.   " Well you may have won a bunch of awards, and make world class beer but...(sniff, puff chest out)  I get 92% efficiency..."   My response, as always, is..."Dude Brah...I don't care, all I care about is flavor".  If I had to drop to 50% efficiency to make the flavor I wanted, I'd do it in a heart beat.   Although that would be really hard with Cargill malts, they extract so very well.

Crush your grains fine.  It will increase efficiency.
Listen to me people.  I am going to say it again.   There is more going on in the mash than the extraction of sugars.   There are so many flavor components happening due to the mash.   A little more grain is probably a really good thing.  Although this is strictly empirical observation, it is my belief that I get a maltier, bready-er, nuttier, flavor from efficiency around 75%.

Our crush is fine.  We set the mill to the thickness of a credit card.  There are no un broken grains, and many of the husks are torn.   "What?  that is heresy.  You can't shred the husks, you'll make tannins. "    No, no you won't.  Not if your water pH is appropriate,  5.2 to 6.0   you are just fine.   We even decoct with our crush, and never have issues with tannins.

We stir, check pH, check gravity, and taste ever 15 minutes.
We stir, check pH,  check the gravity, and check the temperature every 15 minutes.  We record the information in our brew log.   We were at 1.058 with in 30 minutes, which was our target mash gravity.   But, and this is a big but,  we kept going until we reached the magical taste that we were looking for.   How do you know when you have "the taste"?   Simple,  TASTE YOUR MASH, it will change how you brew.    We produced 6.6 gallons of wort, at 1.062 OG.  Lautering was easy,  we drained into the boil kettle, gave the bag a good squeeze, and proceeded to the boil.

The 210,000 BTU beast on what is left of my old 3 vessel
stand.  Can't believe there used to be one even higher...
Now, we have to talk about the boil, the chill, hop additions, and post boil gravity checks.   With my 210,000 BTU burner we get to a boil in under 15 minutes.  If we collared the stand we would get there even quicker, so expect that project in the future.   Just before the boil, I added the Nugget Hops, 2 ounces.   Centennial was next at 30 minutes, .8 ounces.  The idea of the Centennial was just to make sure there wasn't a hole in the middle of the beer.   We did use a bag for the hops this time.  All of the other hop additions were at flame out or dry hop.   At 10 minutes we put in yeast nutrient, and our Jaded Hydra Chiller.   The Jaded Hydra is the king of immersion wort chillers.  At the end of the boil we added 2.5 ounces of Mosaic,  1 ounce of Cascade, and 1 ounce of Galaxy.   Were hoping for a citrusy, juicy hop bomb.  That is what all calculators, including ScottJanish.com point to.

After 30 minutes our temperature
went up 1 degree?  Not really,
it just means we stirred out a
hot spot in the mash!
The chill was staggeringly fast.  We took our 5.5 Gallons of wort from 210 F to 68 F in under 5 minutes.   Yes, under 5 minutes.   If you are in the market for a wort chiller,  get a Jaded Hydra.  We'll post videos soon of the chilling.   It is truly amazing.  When you are checking the post boil OG of a hop monster I have a word of advice for you.  Have a sanitized thief, or sanitized turkey baster ready to go.   Hop monsters have so much hop oil in them that they can, and do throw off the gravity readings.   Do not argue this point with me, it is no supposition, it is fact.  Oil is lighter than water, and way lighter than a 1.078 OG beer. To get our final gravity, we had to get several inches down into the wort.   We got 1.078.  So we were a little high.  But not terrible.  We have seen this phenomenon over and over again with dIPAs.   So just be prepared.  Go deep young man!

Earlier in the day, John had made a brew day starter.  Another favorite technique.  Think of it as rehydration on steriods.   He makes a 1.035 wort, and in this case pitched 2 packs of yeast into it (04 and 05)  He does this before the brew day begins, so the yeast has all day to get going and ready.  We see activity quickly,  as quickly as with liquid yeast.   The yeast experience less shock when they go into the actual wort.   Good technique give it a try.

Over all an awesome brew day.  And what should be another hop monster.  We still have to dry hop with Citra, and Mosaic.  But already the flavor is extraordinary. We also tasted HOPTONITE, should be amazing.  And we made some corrections to the hops flavor and aroma of Pliny the Petulant. It just isn't quite "pliny" enough.   Mark Anthony brought a flight of Smokestack Series Boulevard Stouts. The 2014 Aztec Stout was flipping amazing.   That is part of the fun of a brew day.  Tasting amazing beer.

That is all for now sports fans.  Prost!

Friday, April 15, 2016

What the hell do you do with leftover hops... I know another dIPA...

Leftover hops.  The bane of the home brewer.  You don't want to throw them out because, well quite frankly because they are hops and they cost you money.   But you aren't ready to use them...either.  So you put them in ziplocks and get out as much air as you can, and into the freezer they go.  Only to be rediscovered in 6 months, when they are no longer at their peak.  Oh well throw them in a sour, or age them in a mason jar for a year or two and use them in a saison.  Right? Well here is another idea.

While the hops are still fresh and near their peak,  design another recipe.   After brewing Hoptonite we had a fair amount of nugget, mosaic, cascade, and  a little bit of Galaxy left over.  So,  What the heck, let's make another dIPA while the hops are at their peak.  This time an east coast dIPA.

I can hear what you guys are thinking...How much IPA can you idiots drink? Well a lot.  And summer is coming.  So we give a lot away too.  But the real reason for brewing another dIPA is respecting the ingredients.  Using as much of them as we can at the peak of freshness.   Following where the ingredients lead us.  In this case that is to another dIPA.   In this case we are inspired by, but not limited to, the great IPAs and dIPAs of the East Coast of the United States.  

So what is an east coast IPA?   Well they are bitter,  but not dank,  hoppy, but not too piney,  they are dominated by hop flavors and aromas, but more balanced than their west coast counter parts. East Coast IPAs feature loads of late hop additions.   They are often described as "juicy", and "stone fruit".  So that is what we are setting out to make,  but be forewarned.   You still need balance.  Even if it is mostly late hop additions, you still have to have balance.  These beers are rarely clear.  They look almost like orange juice in the glass.

Here is what we came up with, with what we already had on hand.

Green Mountain Boys dIPA
1.072 OG
1.013 FG
104    IBUs
2        SRM
8.1%  ABV

13.5 # of Two Row
00.7 # of Carapilsner
00.3 # of Acidulated Malt

mash at 152 for 1 hour.  Test Conversion.  Mash out, especially if doing a BIAB or no sparge.

2.00 oz of Nugget at 60 min
00.8 oz of Centennial at 30 min
2.50 oz of Mosaic at 0 min
1.00 oz of Cascade at 0 min
1.00 oz of Galaxy at 0 min
2.00 oz of Citra dry hop 14 days before packaging
1.00 oz of Mosaic dry hop 2 days before packaging

1 package of US05
1 package of S04

1 tspn of yeast Nutrient at 15 min.

We'll be brewing the no sparge method, and mashing in a 48 quart cooler.   We treat our water with camden, and 5 star 5.2 stabilizer.  But the acidulated malt is what gets us into range.

Thats all or now.   Prost!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

THE ACTUAL TRUTH ABOUT YEAST: Volume 3: Lager yeast, with Kevin Lane of Fermentis.

the world's most popular lager
yeast. Good ol' 34/70

Part 3 in our on going series about the little bugs we all love.  This time we are focused on lager yeast with Kevin Lane of Fermentis.  And this one is great.   In our next installment we will be talking all about sours.... yum!

What is lager yeast?  

Lager yeast is a yeast that is generally used for producing cool fermentations (to be discussed later).  It is often referred to as a bottom fermenting yeast, due to the fact that it ferments from the bottom of the tank rather than the top, as ale yeast does.  Lager beer is also, typically, stored cold (lagered) for a period of time before being packaged/sold to the consumer or consumed. 

The species itself, Saccharomyces pastorianus, is believed to be a descendent/hybrid of Saccharomyces eubayanus.  Lager yeast has been named multiple names in the past, most recentlySaccharomyces carlsbergenesis, after the Carlsberg brewery, but is now defunct nomenclature.   

What makes it different from ale yeast?

The easiest way to explain the difference (which isn’t easy at all) is that it is genetically different.  So much so, that it is categorized as a different species of yeast Saccharomyces pastorianus. The brewer typically doesn’t think about that when brewing, but that is the real difference.  The genetic difference influences the brewer to use lager yeast in cooler fermentations and for certain styles of beer, where you are looking (generally) for less flavor impact coming from the yeast.  Lager yeast strains are very similar to one another and do not produce as wide a flavor range as ale strains do (think English ales vs Belgian ales).  Typically, lager yeast will attenuate fairly well and produce a very clean, crisp beer.

What is meant by bottom cropping?

Bottom cropping is a term that has been created to explain the process of collecting the yeast from the bottom of the tank.  Since lager yeast ferment at the bottom, you have a higher likelihood that you will be collecting healthy yeast from the bottom.  This is not to say that you cannot do the same with ale yeast; you certainly can, you just run a higher risk of collecting less healthy yeast cultures.  In ale yeast re-pitching, brewers traditionally would top crop and collect the krausen.  Thus, when lager beer production really picked up… the brewers came up with a new term and a new way to collect.

Why can lager yeast perform at lower temperatures?

Why not?

… I am kidding. 

Lager yeast produce the flavors that the brewers want at lower temperatures because of the genetics.  It is difficult to explain because people have talked about the characteristics of the yeast as what they do for the brewer, not what they do as an organism.  I think I may have stated this before but I will repeat… yeast don’t ferment wort to make beer, they don’t ferment must to make wine and they don’t ferment apply juice to make hard cider nor do they ferment mash to make the base for distillates.  All that yeast is doing is attempting to survive and reproduce so that their genetics are passed on to their daughters and subsequent generations. 

So, to get back to your question, yeast perform (the way the brewer wants it to) in certain environmental conditions, simply because of the genetics

Will Lager yeast work at higher temperatures?

It depends.  Some of the strains will work at higher temperatures and others will struggle.  I guess the real answer is yes, they will.  But the more complete answer is, yes, they will but they may not successfully finish the fermentation and could produce some flavors that are unwanted. 

Some yeast strains are capable of the same fermentation characteristics at lager (low) and ale (high) temperatures.  There is a lot of research that Fermentis is currently involved with, to bring these answers to you more definitively.

So it will ferment, but it will put off some off flavors?

Yes, the yeast will ferment.  There is a higher possibility for the yeast to produce unwanted flavors.

What are the flavors produced by lager yeast?  

Lager yeast will produce a lot of the same flavors that ale strains will, just in lesser amounts.  Typically, lager yeast will produce the same ester profile as ale strains, just in low enough concentrations that humans either don’t detect it (below the flavor threshold) or just slightly detect it.  Typically, lager yeast are POF- (phenolic off flavor negative) and will not produce the flavor complexities that are common in some Belgian and German beers. 

Typical ester production would include ethyl acetate (apple), isoamyl actetate (banana), ethyl hexanoate (tropical fruit), etc.

 So it still produces esters, just different esters than ale yeast?

ester forms naturally in fermentation.
The difference in the ester production isn’t the molecules that the yeast are producing but rather the concentrations and ratios of one to the others.  This will develop the differing characteristics in the beers and in a way the styles that lager yeast is used in.  Due to the fact that esters are combinations of organic acids and alcohols, the elevated levels in ales could also be perceived as a harsher beer, compared to the delicate profile of lagers.

What causes lager yeast to produce more or less of these esters?

The best way to think about this is the principle of mass conservation: nothing can ever be created or destroyed. The reason I say that is the best way to think about it is because esters are produced from different alcohols and organic acids.  If the yeast is in cooler temperatures and there is a higher pitch rate (general characteristics of lager production), the yeast will be less stressed and thus produce less of the variety of alcohols and acids.  With less of the “building blocks” available, less of the esters will be produced.

So stress and temperature have an impact, but what about pitch rate?

Pitch rate can be thought of as another environmental condition, in a way.  If there is a higher concentration of cells in the wort at pitching, the yeast will be less stressed to reproduce to build the correct concentrations.  Essentially, all of the flavors and all of the characteristics of the yeast come back to stress levels. 

If a brewer wants to make extremely "clean" lager with very little ester, what advice would you give him or her?

There are a couple of things the brewer can do, but I don’t know the application ability.  There are a couple of things that are easy to apply to make beer more “clean”, as well.  The easy applications are lower temperatures and higher pitch rates.  If the brewer has temperature control and are able to ferment in the upper 40’s, the lager yeast will produce a very neutral flavor.  Likewise, the brewer can also pitch at elevated pitch rates, nearing 200g/hL or roughly 4 x 11.5g sachets of Fermentis lager yeast (some other producers have differing viability and pitch rates, so I can’t speak for them).

Practically speaking if you want to make lagers, you have
to be able to control fermentation temperatures. 
The difficult aspects to change about the fermentation would be to increase the back pressure on the fermenter.  This can be done with most any pressure release valves connected to the fermenters blow off port.  The other important thing to remember is you don’t want to build a “bomb”, so you need to make sure your fermenter is capable of holding back pressure.  Not easily done, but will increase the neutrality.

So practically, to make a great lager you need to ferment cold?

To make a great lager, it is strongly recommended to ferment cold.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t make a great lager at elevated temperatures, but it is much easier to do so at lower temps.  Yeast will act according to what you do to them.  If brewers know that lager type flavors are produced (or not produced) at lower temperatures, then I would suggest that you apply that to the lager fermentation.

Are there sugars that lager yeast can process that ale yeast cannot process?

No… well… it depends on what strains you are comparing.  Lager yeast typically will ferment maltotriose to near completion.  Some ale strains will ferment maltotriose to completion while others will hardly touch it, if at all.  The important thing for the brewer is to understand the capabilities of the yeast they are using and apply the correct environment to allow the yeast to produce the beer that the brewer wants.

 So wort composition is important?

Wort composition is always important.  I cannot say it enough, “Brewers don’t actually make beer.  They make wort.  Yeast make beer.  If yeast don’t have what they need, they won’t do what you expect.”

 What unwanted off flavors can lager yeast produce?   and how do you limit them?

The most common off flavors are sulfurs, meaty notes and other internal yeast component release.  Most of these are caused by time and temperature, but can also be caused by lack of nutrition, in some cases.  If you are attempting to make an American Light Lager (very difficult), there is a need to supplement nutrition for the adjunct addition.  Adjuncts will not bring any nutritional components other than carbohydrates (food).  Yeast will need the mineral and vitamin cocktail that malt brings to the table (plus a little Zn and Mn). 

What general advice would you give new and intermediate brewers about brewing a lager?

General advice: make mistakes and learn.  It is a much different practice brewing lagers and the best results come from paying complete attention to the brew.  Since I spent 5 years of my life as a Pilot Brewer at one of the big guys, I have a bit of experience with lager brewing.  I can say that it is a very difficult range of beer styles to master.  The fermentation is one aspect of it that, in particular, needs to be done right. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Brewing on your counter - You don't need to spend much to make great beer!

As you all know, I struggle to find a balance between my desire for the shiny, flashy, fancy brewing gear I see on the inter webs, and my knowledge that this gear is for the most part, completely unnecessary.   Cool, but unnecessary. After all, I have more brew gear, accumulated over years  of brewing than most home brewers.   When we brew as a group, we use this gear; my keggel, a 100 quart mash tun, my 210,000 BTU banjo burner.  So, we can make some seriously big batches of beer. But, when I brew on my own, what should I use?  So the other night, as a way to fight off boredom and pressing reality, I found myself again looking at cool systems on the web.  Recirculating mash machines, eherms, and rims systems.  I read all about them, and then I found this little disclaimer on one of the websites,  "by adding a sparge rinse many brewers report efficiency of almost 80%"

Excuse me?  80%?  I can do 80% in my sleep with my good ol cajun injector electric turkey fryer.  I thought these things were more efficient.  Turns out they are not.   That is when it hit me, why in the world would you spend money on something that is less efficient and makes beer that is the same or lesser quality?   The only possible explanation is that theses systems are really cool.  And they are cool.  I'll be one to admit they are far out freaky cool neato. Wort is moving around, that seems like a good thing.  Pumps are pumping, that seems more advanced some how.   But at the end of the day they are no better at making beer than a $100 electric turkey fryer.   They are faster, but are they $800 faster?  Again, no.  my cajun injector has a 1650 watt heating element.  I can add a 1300 watt element for under $20, in the form of a bucket heater.  So if I really get worried about how long it takes to come to a boil, I just put in the bucket heater.   Which means, I go from mash out to full boil in under 30 minutes.  Since my kettle is now insulated with foam, I seem to get there in about 17-20 minutes.  I have done the math.  I know it should take 25.4 minutes based on kWs and BTUs but I'm telling you it seems to be about 18 minutes.

So, for me, I will choose my good ol Cajun Injector electric turkey fryer.  And I strongly suggest the rest of you who have not spent big money on a brewing system yet, also consider the same. I am not a spokesperson for Cajun Injector, they aren't even a sponsor.   I just like it. With the Cajun Injector you can do full volume extract, 5 gallon, partial mash 5 gallon, and all grain BIAB 5 gallon up to about 1.060 OG.  Above that you'll have to do a partial mash.

When you are making small batch the Cajun injector handles them easily.   When you are making 5 gallon batches you have to boil with the lid on but a jar.   I have done this literally hundreds of times, and I have never had an issue with DMS.   DMS has more to do with the modification of the grains than anything else. As long as you boil hard, chill fast, and make sure your wort can vent, there is little risk of DMS.

So here is my process for all grain biab in the Cajun injector.
  1. I grind my grains fine.  This is the key to excellent efficiency.   My mill is set to the thickness of a credit card.  No, I do not get astringency,  yes I do get some flour.   I don't care what you have read, or what you wish was true.  The finer the grind, the better the efficiency.   Physics is physics.  More surface area equals more enzyme and starch interaction.  
  2. I put the basket in, and then the bag.  The bag is big enough to go over the edges of the kettle.  I can hold 11lbs of grain. I think maybe I could get 12 lbs.  But 11 lbs is enough for a 1.055 to 1.060 beer.  
  3. I use as much water as I need to create a reasonably thin mash. Somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5 gallons of water.   The rest of the water is used for infusion step mashing, or for sparge rinsing.  I almost always step mash or decoct.  It simply tastes better.  The exception is a simple blonde ale for which I use my "set it and forget it process". Ill be posting about this process soon.  
    1. Example  Champagne Lager 7.6 lbs of Pilsner, .9 lbs of flaked rice
      1. 3.62 gallons of water at 139.7 (140 F) rest at 132 F for 15 minutes
      2. Add 3.5 quarts of boiling water to raise mash temperature to 146 F rest for 30 minutes.
      3. Add 3.6 quarts of boiling water to raise mash temperature to 156 F rest for 20 minutes.
      4. Add 6.2 quarts of boiling water to raise mash temperature to 168 F rest for 10 minutes.
    2. Total water used in step mash is 6.92 gallons,  Which leaves 1 gallon for sparge rinse
    3. I sometimes just use 8 to 9 lbs of grain and just add DME to get a higher gravity.  
    4. I also like to do decoction in order to reach mash out.  So sometimes I skip the mash out water addition and pull a thick decoction. Right after the 2nd infusion.  
      1. Yes, I am a nerd who enjoys decoction. 
      2. For higher grain amounts there may not be enough water for sparge and mash out.  When that is the case I definitely decoct to get to mash out. 
  4. I drain the bag on a rack set over the kettle.  Then I vorlauff,  yes I vorlauff.  I drain a gallon or two and pour it through the grains.  Not sure if I have to, but the beer sure is clear.  Then I sparge with remaining water to volume.
  5. From here on out it is just like any other batch of beer.  Boil and make hop additions.   The one difference is that I leave the lid on during the boil, but a jar by about 2".  See the video above. 
Many of you have asked about the Cajun Injector Electric Turkey Fryer.  So there it is,  that is how I have been brewing on my own, and that is how I suggest any of you brew who don't want to spend big money on brewing, and who want to brew inside.  But the real point is you can use affordable gear.  You can follow processes that are proven, and fun for you.  And since my life is changing,  I will be brewing lots of small batches.  2.25 to 3.5 gallons.    And the Cajun injector rips through a small batch no problem.  In fact, when I do small batch I tend to just to no sparge full volume BIAB and use the element to step mash.

I am here by promising a full on illustrated step by step brew day with this system.  A 5 gallon batch of an ultra malty, German Festbier, with videos.  Soon the counterbrew YouTube channel will launch. So you can watch our geekery in all of its video recorded glory.  You can also expect more posts from counterbrew contributors.  Mark will be spending time in Brazil and reporting on the growing craft beer scene.  John is going to write about cloning great beers, and using the internet and brew tools to perform due diligence on a recipe.  Jake will be writing about the financial side of home brew, and examining whether it is a cost savings or a money pit.

That is all for now sports fans.  Wishing you peach and good beer.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Unleash the beast... HOPTONITE Brew night!

It has been promised to you for a while.   It has been hinted at in cloistered conversations around the water cooler. "When are those idiots going to brew the ridiculous dIPA we were all promised?"  Well, brew fans your wait is over.   Because last night in Johns garage, we brewed the Hoptonite dIPA.

It was a beautiful night here in Kansas City.  A perfect night for brewing.   We set out to brew a 5 gallon batch of Hoptonite.   Our process was very straight forward.   A simple single infusion no sparge brew.   I personally love no sparge brewing.   We do our no sparge brewing in cooler mash tuns.   You have seen the pictures of the 100 quart mash tun that we use for 10 gallon batches.    But tonight we were using my 48 quart good ol reliable mash tun.   I've had it forever.  It still works fine. John preheated the mash tun with hot water as we ground the grains.

I made the water adjustments.  This was our first time using Beer Dust IPA blend. I'm sure it is a fine product, but it was not able to buffer to where we wanted, or reduce the pH adequately. Looking forward to seeing how it impacts the finished flavor of the beer.  So we used some acidulated malt, and some Five Star 5.2.  We nailed our pH.   Well ok, not nailed, but pretty damned close.

Our hops were provided by the awesome people at BSG.  We got to try their small packaging, and let me tell you,  it is every thing they say.  These are the freshest hops we have used... ever.  When you are making a hop monster ask for small packaged hops.  The major hop companies have them.  Your LHBS can order them for you.

Our grains all came from Cargill.  Cargill malts are fantastic.  I am definitely a fan.  We use grains from Rahr / BSG and Cargill.   I know when I stick with these companies, I will get consistent quality. Tonight, our base grain was Cargill 2 row pale.  We had heard rumors as to it's quality taste and high extraction.  Wort samples were sweet, bready, nutty, and delicious.  Everything we heard was true.

We were targeting 152 F as our mash temperature.   After checking the grain temperature and doing a quick calculation on brewtoad.com, we knew our strike water needed 8.5 gallons of water to be at 160 F.   We nailed our mash temperature.  At dough in we briefly rose to 153 F, but after taking the pH we were at 152 F.  We lost only 1 degree during the 60 minute mash, another benefit of no sparge.   If you have never tried no sparge brewing, you really should.  There are just really very few disadvantages, and lots of advantages.

Consider the following advantages of no sparge.
  • Decent efficiency, we get about 77%
  • No dough balls - thin mash easy to stir
  • Easy partigyle.   If you want to make two beers in one day, this is the easy way.  
    • Make a high gravity wort, drain it, and then put new water in for your second batch.  You can even add new specialty grains for flavor and color.  
  • Easy brew days, no sparging, heating water for sparging, transferring water.
  • More "time" in your brew day to do other things. 
    • organize
    • clean
    • prepare hop additions
    • sample "Founders KBS!"

At the end of the mash, we opened the valve on the cooler and drained into the boil kettle.  The first addition of hops went in right then.  4 ounces of Centennial. From there on it was a circus of hops.  We normally put hops into a bag, but this time we decided to let them flow and move about freely in hopes of maximizing their impact on the beer. 

We use a dry erase marker, Tupperware, and disposable cups to organize our hop additions.    Organization is critical when brewing a complex hop monster like this one.  Fortunately Jake is kinda uber organized.  So he takes charge of getting the hops ready.   Tonight that was no easy task.  The photo was taken after a couple of additions had already gone in.  

The boil was an awesome sight and smell extravaganza.   The entire garage filled with an intense hop aroma.  Not the normal, hoppy goodness aroma, this was intense.  The boil was rigorous.   We collected 7.5 gallons of wort, and boiled down to 6 gallons.    Next time, we will use a paint strainer bag for the hops.   The wort was a chunky hop soup.  It has already settled, and we have the technology to deal with it along the way, a quality fermentation chamber.   We can cold crash with out moving our fermenter.  But if you don't have that technology, use a hop bag.

We chilled as always with our Jaded Hydra chiller.  To say that it is awesome is an understatement.  We wanted to get under 140 F, as quick as possible.  And then whirlpool for 20 M.   We definitely pulled that off.  We went from 220 F to 120 F in about 2 minutes.   Amazing.  After the whirlpool, we went from 110 to 67 in 2 minutes.   Just get a hydra.  You'll thank me.

The next step for this is a whole lot of dry hops.  We are estimating a  3 week fermentation on this one.   So first dry hops go in in a week.   The rest of the dry hops go in the day before we begin the cold crash.   This is, as you may remember a real key to getting the hop flavor and aroma you want.

So in a month, we will be drinking an absolute hop monster. Drinking it along with august hyppo, and pliny the petulant.  I guess we are pretty well set with IPAs for the summer.   As you may recall we also brewed up 10 gallons of saison recently.  5 of which will be ready soon.  And saison is great summer beer.   Half of the batch was pitched with a sour culture, so it wont be ready for a year.  Up next for the group is probably the PIVO pilsner clone, with a partigyle IPA.  We have the grains, and the hops so why not?   I know at the high heat of summer our attention will turn to fall beers, a Festbier, a pumpkin ale (I know, I know, but the girls love them), browns, and stouts.

UPDATE 4/13/2016 - Hoptonite had a blow off of epic proportions.  Mark Anthony and I went to Johns to bottle up the Pliny the Petulant, and discovered a foamy hoppy mess in the fermentation chamber.  It took us (mostly MA) over an hour to clean it up.  So, use a blow off tube people.  Smells like intense hops, cant wait.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Going Small - brewing more and brewing smaller.

Yup, that is happening right now!
Hello sports fans, I am going through some of that "life happens" stuff right now.   Then end result of which is that I will be moving to a much smaller space for a brief period of time.  So I will be changing how I brew at home and probably brewing more often.  I need the comfort, the distraction, and the beer that home brewing provides.  The purpose of sharing this with you is to remind you that you can brew even if you live in a small space.

I am fortunate to have a great team.   John's house is already set up for large scale brewing and the vast majority of my big gear is already at Johns.  At John's we can easily produce a half of a barrel of beer if we so desire.  There will also be 4 full sized fermentation chambers at John's in the very near future.  Yup, my big guys are moving over there.  Do you all now see why I advocate brewing with a team?  You never know when your life will change, when you brew with a team, your participation in this great hobby doesn't have to change.

But as for me, When I brew alone,  I will be brewing primarily small batches for the time being.  Really focusing in on sours, and Belgian inspired beers.  I doubt you will notice much of a change on the blog, other than the back ground of some of the photos. But I will be laser focused on 2 to 3.5 gallon batches of beer when I brew alone.  I'm actually pretty excited about brewing more often and digging into sours, saisons, and Belgians more deeply.  I plan to make beer a lot.  Some of which wont be ready for 6 months or even a year.  I think Mark Anthony is about to begin a series of 1 gallon SMASH beers to study various hop flavors.  So I'll probably have him guest blog about that as well. So here is what I plan to do.   And this is what you can do to if you live in a small space.

I have the following gear for small batch already. You don't need all of this to set up for small batch.
  • Two 5 gallon kettles
  • My trusty Cajun injector electric turkey fryer for 3.5 gallon batches
  • Five 1 gallon glass jugs and air locks
  • Five 2.25 gallon Mr. Beer Fermenters ( one is for Brett / sours only)
    • I will be adding the following to improve fermentation.
      • rubber gaskets (replacement rings for wide mouth canning jars)
      • air locks
  • Three 4 gallon plastic fermenters (rectangular cake frosting buckets from Sams club)
  • A fermentation chamber - a mini fridge modified to use for fermentation 
    • can hold two Mr. Beer fermenters, or one 4 gallon bucket and one 1 gallon bucket.
  • A Saison / sour Box - A foam box that breaks down and fits under the bed for lacto fermentation, and Saison fermentation.  Can keep those temps nice and high!
    • held together with tape so it is easy to cut the tape and break it down. 
  • Two 2.25 gallon white plastic buckets.   One is for bottling and has a valve.  
  • Various brew bags.  
  • Scales, refractometers, hydrometers, pH meters, racking canes, bottling wands, etc...
I am purchasing a Tap-a-Draft system for "kegging" my beers. I may purchase two of them.   The apartment won't have room for loads of bottles.  I plan to switch to champagne bottles for the sours.  Again trying to take up less space.   Plus they look cool, and they impress the ladies. 

That's all I need. The rest of my bigger gear is getting labeled and taken to John's for use by the team. Tonight we are brewing, and I'm bringing about 250 lbs of grain.  Don't worry about John sports fans, he has already agreed to this brew gear invasion.  True story,  John just confirmed that this was OK as I was typing.  Beth, his lovely bride,  just wants to make sure everything stays organized in the basement, fair deal.   

I will primarily be brewing BIAB on the stove top.  Nothing fancy.  No fancy gear, No fancy valves.  Just good ol' fashioned BIAB. Me, my kettles and a spoon.  Direct contact with the beer, decoction, step mashing, Sounds awesome.   I'll be doing 1 to 3.5 gallon batches. I'll use the cajun injector for 3.5 gallon batches.   For beers I really enjoy, I'll make three and a half gallon batches and two gallon batches.. For beers I want to try, or for sours.  Ill make 2.25 gallon batches.   I'll be focusing on beers that don't need too much temperature control, saisons, Belgians, biere de garde.  I'll also be working with yeast that is tolerant of temperature swings, T-58, BE 256 US05, WLP001, Wyeast 1056, San Diego Super Yeast.  That's the plan. 

Some up coming beers small batch beers you can expect to see on the blog.
  • Torrid Liaison - an American sour blond - two gallons with Mark Anthony.
  • Desir et la Nuit - Belgian Tripel with orange blossom honey and orange peel - three and a half gallons - the best beer you'll ever try. 
  • Allegement a la Frambroise - Belgian blond with raspberries - three and a half gallons
  • August Hyppo - My favorite IPA three and a half  gallons
  • Wimpole street Brown - two gallons
  • Golden Brett - needs a name other than golden brett... amaze-balls - 2.25 gallons. 
  • Carmen Carmine- a Red mixed culture sour beer -2 gallons cool process, sour, ferment, pitch dregs. Easy way to make a Flanders style.  With Mark Anthony
  • Newd Bear - a mixed culture soured brown ale - 2 gallons 
  • Torrid mash raspberry lambic - 2 gallons - yup, I'm that crazy.
As you can see, most of my beer will be 2 or 3.5 gallon batches. Good beer is a lot of work, I want more than 1 gallon when I make it.  You can also expect more wine and mead coming your way soon.  Wine and mead I generally make 1 gallon batches.  It is really not hard to make wine.  I enjoy the 1 gallon wine kits from Northern Brewer's Partner, Master Vintner  Wine is easy peasy, and quite delicious.  The small kits don't come with oak, but we're home brewers, we know how to fix that.  I have been known to mix Saison with wine, and to mix reds into dark Belgians. Yum!  Mead is one of my all time favorite things to make and drink.  Mead also drinks like wine. So that is a big bonus.  

Of course the team will still be making beer too.   So you can expect lots of big hoppy beers, saisons, and BSDA like always.   Soon well be making a couple of lagers. A fest bier, and a PIVO pils inspired beer.  With those we'll be showing you how to quickly ferment a lager.   So that is what is going on here at counterbrew.  Changes are coming.  All of them for the best.

Wishing you peace and good beer!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Funkadelic Mastery part 4: Easy Sour (not funky beer) Torrid Liaison Recipe

Your friends may react a little when they
first try a good sour beer.
So, in our last episode we talked about the easy way to make a brettanomyces fermented beer by just pitching commercial dregs.  But brettanomyces yeast is not sour, it is funky, and peculiar, but not sour.  100% brett yeast produces very little acid.  That is the very reason so many commercial brett yeasts are actually blends of brett and bacteria.  So what do we do to make a truly sour beer?   A mouth puckering delicious beer?

Well, for that we have to turn to bacteria.   Yes, bacteria.   I know that the word bacteria is kinda scary.   You have been taught, you have read,and it has been instilled in your very being to avoid bacteria.  Bacteria is after all an infection, right?  Well, not really.  In an earlier post I stated that an infection is a biological process that is unwanted.  If you want that biological process, it's not an infection, it's just a mixed fermentation.   Mixed fermentation is a term that means, more than one yeast or bacteria is active and fermenting the beer.

"Ok, you did it again, just when I was starting to think you weren't bat sh!t crazy, you went and said something crazy again"  Calm down my occasional and somewhat loyal readers.   I am not advocating using bacteria for most of your fermentation.  Only when you intentionally want a truly sour beer.    If you don't want to drink sour beers, well then... go watch a cat video.

A beautiful pellicle has formed on this beer.
A big part of brewing sour beer is understanding that some sour beer is made with beneficial bacteria. Bacteria is neither good nor bad, it just is.  Bacteria helps make cheese, and yogurt.  Without bacteria you would not enjoy Kim-chi, pickles, or sauerkraut.   So bacteria is/are pretty cool stuff.

Bacteria are single celled micro organisms.  They are the most prolific life form on the planet. This is their world, we're just squirrels looking for a nut. There are about 40 Billion bacteria cells in a tablespoon of dirt from your backyard.  Bacteria survive by consuming, sunlight, inorganic materials (minerals), and organic materials (sugars, proteins, etc.) . Bacteria multiply by dividing.  Generally into two cells (binary fission).    We are only concerned about the bacteria that consume organic materials (Organotrophs).

The two main bacterias (by the way it is bacteria, not bacterias, bacteria is already plural) we are concerned with as brewers are; Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus.   And for the purpose of this post we are really focused on lactobacillus.   Pediococcus will be covered in another post at a later date, on "true mixed fermentation the hard way".

Lactobacillus is a bacteria that consumes sugars and turns them into acids.  Specifically Lactobacillus turns sugars into lactic acid.  It can also produce some alcohol.  But be warned.  Lactobacillus is fast to make lactic acid, and slow to make alcohol.  So attempting to ferment 100% with lacto is probably not the best idea.  I say probably, because I have never tried it.   But I know that the madfermentationist tried it and he felt the results were less than stellar.

"Ok fancy boy, we get it... lactobacillus makes things sour... so what? what does that do for me?"

Fair question.  Well, first ask yourself, do you like sour beer? Again if you don't there are hundreds of great cat videos you could be watching.    If you do enjoy sour beer, well then I am going to show you an easy way to make a sour at home.  And this is a sour where you can control the amount of pucker you want, from the beer, from a gentle sourness, all the way to a bracing pucker.

The easy sour method. Sour wort process for a 2 gallon batch of beer.  There is an awesome video of this process at basicbrewing on youtube.  If you haven't checked out basic brewing, you should.  James and Steve do an excellent job.

  • Make the wort
  • Add room temperature water to chill the wort to 120 f 
    • You're trying to collect a little over 2 gallons of wort.  
  • Add 8 ounces of 2 row malt un-milled
  • Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • Transfer wort to 1 gallon jugs filled all the way to the top
  • Hold wort at 110 to 120 f for  24 - 72 hours
    • How?  A box with a space heater and a temp controller, an electric smoker, a heating pad. your oven with a heat light.  or just try to keep it pretty warm as you can for a little longer.  There are guys that just go 4 or 5 days at 80 to 90.
    • How Long? Well how sour do you want it?  For a mild sour, leave it for 8 - 24 hours.  For a more intense sour leave it for 72.
  • After souring period, transfer to boil kettle boil for 15 minutes. adding hops.
    • We don't want to lose too much wort to evaporation.  
      • If you want to make a more bitter beer, you can add a hop tea to add the bitterness.
  • Chill the wort, as normal. 
  • Transfer to fermenter
  • Pitch yeast
  • Ferment
  • Package

That is how easy it is to make a sour beer at home.   And here is my favorite recipe for sour at home.

Torrid Liaison - Sour Blonde

2.5 gallons of wort
2.0 gallons after souring
1.875 gallons after fermentation
1.045 OG
1.004 FG
16 IBU

2.5#   of Pilsner
0.8 #  of Vienna
0.3#   of C40
0.3#   of Carapilsner
0.5# of any base malt.

0.2 ounces Centennial at 15
0.2 ounces Cascade at 5
.02 ounces Cascade at 0

US 05

Dough into 1.5 gallons of  162.5 F water. Mash at 152 F for 1 hour.  This is a single step mash.   Add a mixture of cool and room temperature water to get the mash to 120 F.  You should have added about 1.6 gallons of water.   If you haven't added enough to have 2.5 gallons, you'll need to add more water. (Hint, heat it to 120 F before you add it!)  Add 0.5 # of base malt and let it sit for half of an hour.   Then pull the bag, squeeze, and transfer into two 1 gallon glass jugs.   I always have a 1/2 gallon growler around too, just in case I have extra.  Fill the jugs to the very top before you put the air locks on. Now,  use a heating pad, or a fermentation chamber, or an electrical blanket to hold the temperature between 110 F, and 120 F.    Hold it at this temperature for 2 to 4 days.    After the sour rest, pour the contents of the two 1 gallon fermenters into the boil kettle. Immediately add your centennial hops.  Bring to a boil. You'll only be boiling for 15 minutes.  Follow the hop schedule. the boil kills off any active Lactobacillus.  From here on out it is just like a normal fermentation.  Chill, and ferment as usual.   The beer will ferment quickly.  It is a low gravity beer.  It will finish Low and strong.   I ferment this in a 4 gallon plastic bucket I got at Walmart from the bakery.  And this beer will be ready quickly.  There is no reason to extend fermentation, or to age this beer.  Make, package, consume, repeat.  I also hoped you noticed there is no fining agent in this beer, I prefer it hazy.  But if you like, you could clear it up with some gelatin.

Here is the best news.  Most of your brewing gear will be sanitary, including your fermenter.  There is no active lacto going into anything other than the 1 gallon jugs.  They are made of glass and are easy to sanitize.  Just put them in the oven at 160 F for an hour.  Turn off and let them cool.  The air locks are the only part of this system that will need to be for sour only.   Pretty cool, huh?

That's all for now.  I think Mark and I are going to brew this up this week.  Although we have the gear to do a 3 gallon version of this recipe, so we may do that.

Wishing you all peace, and good beer!