11 Points To Consider For Beer Logs

I’m always a bit surprised when homebrewers don’t keep records of what they brewed.  To me it vital part to the hobby.  Now to the extent of it, that’s always up for debate but there are a few things that I would try to write down when ever I make a beer.

(You Don’t Keep Records?!)

Sometimes you have a really good beer and you want to do a repeat, or you have a beer that didn’t turn out the way you wanted it too.  If you have no records of it, it’s really hard to make adjustments or to be able to change anything. The beer will forever be a mystery.  The list of what I put in my records is is below, we’ll break down each suggestion on the list to describe why it may be a worthy cause for you to include it:

  1. Date of when you made beer
  2. Name of beer (one of the best parts of this hobby)
  3. Volume of the batch
  4. List of ingredients as well as amount
  5. Time boiled
  6. Boil time for hops
  7. Temp of wort when pitched.
  8. Date of racking or bottling
  9. How much corn sugar was used if bottled or what psi for keg
  10. Comments or suggestions of fermentation, and how it acted during fermentation
  11. Overall impression

Date of when you made the beer

The reason why you want to do this is because of 2 reasons:

1) To help jog your memory about this beer.  If you have a big journal of beers that you’ve made, it is helpful to have a basic time frame of when you made it.  If it was years ago, your skill level might have changed as well, or you have might have been making a different style of beer all together.

2) Knowing when you made it will also give you an idea about fermentation temps.  In the winter your house may be a bit more cool, in the summer your house may a bit more hot.  Just  gives a bit of an insight.

Name of the beer

This is one of my favorite parts of the hobby, you get to name your beer.   I also name beers to help me remember the beer.  For me, the name of the beer gives a bit of a back story to the beer itself.  In some ways it’s a code to help me jog my memory in the future.

Volume of the batch

I make all different size batches:  2.5 gallon batches, 5 gallon batches, 10 gallon batches.  Those are the most common ones for me.  It may seem obvious to which is which when looking at the amount of recipes but you may see a recipe and just think it was a big or small beer, especially if some time has passed.

List of ingredients as well as amount

This is pretty crucial to being able to make a duplicate of a beer.  Your really need to know what you put in it, as well as how much.

Time boiled

I’ve done recipes where its a 120 min boil or sometimes down to a 30 min boil for one of my favorite Milds I make.  Being able to replicate the boil time will help ensure that you go through the same process again and again.

Boil time for hops

Knowing how much you have boiled your hops is pretty important.   You’ll be able to look at your recipe and see the: bittering, flavor, as well as aroma.  Having these points will help you out for sure.

Temp of wort when pitched

I don’t always write this out, it’s an assumption for me that when I do ale’s I will pitch pretty close to room temp.  I will write this down when there is an exception.  For some Belgium beers, I like to pitch a little bit warmer and for lagers, I like to pitch a little bit cooler.  So when there is a variation or something that I did that is different, I’ll make a note of it.

Date of racking or bottling

Did you do a secondary?  Or did you just let it sit in your primary for a month?  When did you bottle it?  These are all good questions that should be noted.

How much corn sugar was used if bottled or what psi for keg

For the corn sugar I almost always use 5 oz of corn sugar, so I won’t write that down.  But if I bottled with DME I will want to write that down.  For kegging did I force pressurize it? And if so how did I like it? Or did I use corn sugar for the keg?  These are notes that are worth while to keep and will have some value in the future.

Comments or suggestions of fermentation, and how it acted during fermentation

Knowing the fermentation properties will help me know if I should use a blow off or not.  Also if the beer took a while and I needed to second pitch yeast that should be a good note to make.

Overall impression

This is one that is completely subjective.  I like to write down, if it was worth making again, what did people think about it, if I could change anything what would it be, how fast it got drank, did it taste better after 4 weeks in the bottle or 8 weeks, was the carbonation level correct.  When I do this, it’s not to write a story but just a few bullet points so I know on this next one how to make it a bit better or what to be aware of.

(The beer sucked!!!!)

Where is the OG and FG?

I usually don’t write down the OG and FG for my beers, I know slap my wrist.  The reason I don’t is because I don’t particularly care.  If you are trouble shooting your beer, don’t get me wrong, it is one of the most helpful things, but for me I can usually look at a grain bill or an extract and come up with a pretty good guess on what the ABV is going to be.  Also once I start drinking it I will be able to tell after 2 or 3 beers what the ABV is if you get my drift.  It’s a symptom of the chillax brewer, figure why risk breaking a hydrometer when I’m going to drink the beer regardless.

Do I do pen or paper, or use a computer?

I go old school and use a pen and paper with a just a composition book.  I think it is preference at the end.  I like the feel of a journal and the sound of the paper clicking when turning the pages.  I also like the idea that at some point in time I will pass along my journal of recipes, just like I was given recipes.  With that said, make sure that if you use pen and paper you can write in a way that you can read it or someone else can read it or you might as well use a computer.

(Maybe lose the stickers in yours but always a nice touch)

Also there are free calculators for most brewing software.  I just use a composition of a few of them and then it will give me my numbers.  Again I know it’s preference but for me it seems to work.  If you end up using any of these calculators you will be able to get more information and ultimately will be a better tool for in the future.

I did want to give an example of how my beer journal entry would look.  Naturally you can do yours your own way, but for me this is plenty and gives me a ton of information by just looking at it:

July 1st 2017

Cascading Mountain Brew

5 gallon batch

60 min boil

6 lbs Light LME

1 lb Munich Malt

.5 lb Victory Malt

1 oz Cascade (60min)

.5 oz Cascade (30min)

.25 Cascade (5min)

WLP 001

Normal procedure, steep grains @ 150 for 30min, took out added malt extract. Boiled the hops at points listed above.

7/1/17 – made wort, cooled pitched yeast at room temp

7/15/17 – bottled beer using 1 cup and 1/4 dme.

8/15/17 – had my first bottle, tasted good but I’ll wait one more week should taste better

8/24/17 – taste much better, the carbination is spot on

Notes:  The fermentation was strong, but I didn’t need a blow off tube. I personally liked the carbonation level, I want to keep using DME for this beer.  It had small bubbles.  The hops didn’t have a lot of nose but the beer was a bit bready and kinda tasted like grapefruit.  Consider dry hopping or having an addition of hops for flame out next time you brew this, maybe use Citra for dry hop or another citrus like hop. People that didn’t like IPA’s didn’t like this beer, so it is a polarizing beer in that regard.  Best for hot summer days after you get done mowing the lawn.  Taste better in bottles after a month.  It’s worth a repeat in warmer weather.  Next time make it earlier in the summer around May or June so it’s  perfect for the first really hot days. 

Note #2: Took about 2 weeks to drink 

If I were to look over that in the future, I would get a pretty good impression about the beer pretty quickly.  I would have a good sense about a lot of aspects of the beer.  For my preference there would be no need to write down more, I am satisfied.  I know by looking at this beer it is going to be around 5%-6% some where in that ballpark.

Conclusion

I think that keeping notes for beer is pretty important.  I like to do mine with pen and paper because of the idea of passing it along sometime in the future or just the fact that it feels more, “old school”.  I believe that it is preference though for what you are trying to get out of it and that there isn’t a wrong way to do it or a right way to do – just what works for you.  Also if you plan on writing down your journal by hand, make sure to have it legible enough where you or the future recipient can read it with ease.  Feel free to form this habit with your wine, mead or even soda making as well!

Like always hope you enjoyed!

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The Art Of Adding Sugars To Your Beer

Sugar is sugar right? That may be true for other things but for brewing, that could not be further from the truth. When brewing beer, you need to know what you are adding because different types of sugars will give you different results, some wanted and others unwanted. Before we get into the different specific types of sugars we should do a pretty general break down.

Fructose aka Levulose

A very rapid fermentable sugar. It comes from a wide range of different types of starches. When something says, “High in fructose”, that does not necessarily mean that it is 100% fructose, it is more likely that it is blended with Glucose, usually the blend will be something on the lines of 40% fructose and 60% glucose.

Glucose

A very fast fermentable sugar. It is derived from starch. Glucose in the brewing world is also called, “Dextrose”. On a molecular level they are the same, Dextrose though comes from corn specifically and is also called, “Corn Sugar”.

Lactose

This is a non fermentable sugar when using beer yeast, it can be fermented with different types of wild yeast. The flavor is sweet and comes from milk. Adding this to beer will make your stouts, “Milk Stouts”.

Maltose

This is a fermentable sugar but just considered a slower fermentable sugar. It naturally occurs in malt and other sweeteners.

Sucrose

Rapidly fermentable by beer yeast. It is a natural fermentable in found in malt. As a brewer you can invert this type of sugar.

For Homebrewing What Does That Mean?

Now that we have a pretty general understanding of the different types of sugars out there, let’s get into the specific types and what effect they will have on your beer.

Candi Sugar

This is used with Belgium beers and strong ales as well. It is slowly crystallized sucrose. They can be either amber, brown, or white. The darker the color just happens based off of how much is has caramelized. The way which they are used is to lighten the beer body but it increases the alcohol which is produced. Lots of times you end up using less than 20% of your total fermentable sugar.

Cane & Beet Sugars

These are common table sugars which are 100% sucrose. If you use more than 20% cane sugar or beet sugar in fermentation you run a risk with having a cidery tasting beer. Using white sugar really does not add any significant flavor to beer and is generally not recommended. You can however invert cane sugar or beet sugar and it will help with eliminating all or most unwanted flavors. We do have a post about how to do that process. It is possible for an inversion of sucrose to occur if you add 100% sucrose to boiling wort. For what ever reason, Mr. Beer will tell brewers that you need to prime your bottles with table sugar. I would NOT do that at all. Every time you are going to get a cidery flavor from it.
Corn Sugar

A refined corn sugar is also known as dextrose. Dextrose is considered glucose. It will lighten the body of the beer at the same time contribute a higher ABV%. Also corn sugar can be used for priming bottles or causing natural fermentation in the bottles which will carbonate your beer. The standard ratio is use 3/4 cup of priming sugar (aka dextrose or corn sugar) to a pint of water (.5 liters) and it will be good for a 5 gallon batch.

Lactose

Since lactose is a non fermentable sugar if added it will help with the body as well as residual sweetness. Lactose does not dissolve easily in beer either. It should be added in small amounts to the beer to help it dissolve faster. Most of the time that this is added in beers, it will be for a, “Milk Stout” beer. It leaves a bit of an increased mouthfeel as well.

Palm Sugars

Palm sugars are sap from tropical palm trees which causes a yellow color. It is often found in specialty food markets and pretty common in Asian markets as well. Personally, I haven’t seen to many beer recipes call for this, I’ve seen it more with wine recipes.

Molasses

These are uncrystalized sugars and impurities that are removed from refinement sugars. Adding molasses to beer will change the color and the flavor. It’s flavor will add a buttery, toffee-like flavor. There are 3 different types of molasses: 1)Light 2)Medium 3)Blackstrap. If you wanted to prime bottles with it instead of corn sugar, use 1 cup of molasses for every 3/4 cup corn sugar. I would be careful when it comes to using molasses. Every time I have used it I can always taste a rum like flavor.

Raw Sugar

This is similar to light brown sugar. It has a very small amount of molasses to its color, but as far as character goes – it’s essentially the same as cane or beet sugar. Since there a small amount of molasses in it you will find a slight rum flavor in your beer. In the past I’ve used this with some Scottish beers I’ve made or even a few Ambers.

Agave Syrup

This is a sweet juice that is from Mexico that is used to make tequila. Normally homebrew shops don’t carry it but always fun to experiment with in your homebrews. Personally I’m not really sure if it is a fad or not, but a lot of people seem to add Agave to their wheat beers. Personally I have never used it before nor have I tried one with it in it so I really lack any further incite on it.

Maple Syrup

Actually maple syrup in homebrew is one of my favorites sugars to use. My favorite Pale Ale that I make uses maple syrup in it and also it is used for priming instead of corn sugar. The effects of it always remains the same when people open it, “it smells like breakfast”. If you want to jack your ABV really high use it before you pitch the yeast, if you want the smell as well as the taste of maple syrup then use it when you get to the bottling process.

Rice Syrup

Rice syrup is a combination of sugars that are taken from a modified malting process. It is used mainly in American lagers. It will leave a crisp flavor to the beer.

Conclusion

There are a ton of different possibilities of the types of fermentable sugars you can add into your beer.  Depending on what you are trying to achieve it should narrow your choice of what you would add as a fermentable.

 

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How Much To Carbonate Your Kegged Homebrew

When it comes to kegging homebrew, the topic is a little up in the air.  Everyone has an opinion (like everything with homebrewing).

Sometimes it can feel as if the blind are leading the blind and the information well,  sucks.  At the end of your quest for knowledge you still have no idea what you are doing,  self-confidence in your brewing abilities is out the window, and you have wasted all the battery in your laptop.

(I’m too scared to brew…) 

Hopefully this will give you a hand and gives you a quick answer to your problem with not knowing how to force pressurize your homebrew.

I want to share this website that has a free calculator, to at least get you in the ball park when it comes to kegging your own beer. If you click here  it will help you get what you need to start kegging.

Now I must admit, I’m not completely sure how long you are supposed to keep this carbonation up when looking at the website.  I guess until the brew stops taking the carbonation levels.  For me it’s usually around 3-7 days (I still do DME/Corn sugar even when kegging but that’s a different post on why I do that).  Again that’s my experience it might be different for you.

For those that are bottling, they also have a calculator for you as well.

Biggest thing I can suggest when it comes to kegging your beer or priming your beer is, take notes.  You will always have beers that are particular and prefer different carbonation levels, or take different amounts of time to get carbonated to your desire.   It’s good to know what worked and what didn’t in the of doing repeats.

(Notebooks always make you look legit)

With all that said, I hope this helps a bit.  If anyone has any other websites that they go to for help with pressurizing their beer, please leave it in the space provided below.

Cheers

 

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