Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: White House Homebrew

White House Homebrew! Party on, Mr. President!

I have been avoiding this topic on purpose. First, it’s that ugly political season and this is not a political issue. Partisan politics is good at driving people apart and beer is good at bringing them together. Whatever ills arise between people can often be soothed by a draught of beer and a cup of merriment. In fact, beer is so intertwined into the fabric of our nation that it cannot be neatly undone and cast aside. Beer is part and parcel of the American dream, a beverage whose roots are democratic, thus serving as a microcosm through which to view our nation, preferably while staring through the bottom of an upturned glass.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: Pants-Optional Pilsner

Photo courtesy of Tony DeFilippo
T-I-N-Y BUBBLES….
courtesy of Tony DeFilippo

I made this homebrew recipe for Don’s birthday party last Saturday. Don is a big fan of lagers, so I thought I would make something in that vein, or at least close to it. This was also my first try at real lagering, which requires some serious temperature control. It turned out wonderfully. Crisp and tasty with mild bitterness and a light malty flavor. It was perfect for the warm Virginia afternoon party.

The name of the beer comes from my constant half-joking desire to institute pants-optional Fridays at almost every job I have had in the last ten years. Don’s darling wife was sure to remind me, though, that I should be sure to say “yes” to pants anytime I visit their home. I consider it an affront, but it’s the price to pay for friendship, I suppose.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: One of the Easiest Homebrew Recipes Ever

Photo courtesy of Kevin H.
Beer at Lyon Hall
courtesy of Kevin H.

A while back I wrote about the easiest homebrew recipe I had ever heard of. It turned out okay but not great. Drinkable but not exciting. I was at the homebrew shop a few weeks ago and saw a can of Mountmellick Brown Ale. Similar story here – pour the syrup in a sanitized fermenter, add a kilo of dry malt extract, and add boiling water. Bada bing, bada boom, you have wort to ferment. It was only $20. How could I go wrong, I wondered.

I just kegged and force-carbonated the brown ale not too long ago and it turned out surprisingly well. It is smooth, has a pleasant mouthfeel, and does not have a lot of hoppy bitterness. Very nice indeed. The hops could be a bit stronger, but overall it is fine as-is and very drinkable. I highly recommend doing this if you want a basic brown ale to sip while your more complex brews are bubbling away. This is also a great way to try your hand at brewing if you are interested in making something easy and good right from the start.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: Imperial Stout

Photo courtesy of keith_and_kasia
Grandfather Raven Imperial Stout
courtesy of keith_and_kasia

The British are not the only ones to fall in love with the Stout. The Russians went crazy for the black British brew as well.  The problem, as the Czarists soon realized, was that the dark beer didn’t travel well.  Luckily for the Russians, the British had experienced this problem before, in shipping ale to quench the growing British population in India.  The British discovered that in order to allow ale to survive the long journey to India, the solution was to increase the preservative qualities of the alcohol and hop content of the ale, thus creating the Indian Pale Ale style.  The British applied this same technique to satisfy the growing Stout fan base in Russia.  The result was a thicker, hoppier, more potent style of Stout referred to as Imperial Stout, or Russian Stout.

In general, Stouts (particularly Dry Stouts) possess dark color and a light body with low alcohol content and hop presence.  To help the Stout endure the voyage from London to Moscow, British brewers capitalized on the bacteria-killing characteristics of alcohol and hops.  To achieve this, the quantities of malt and hops were increased from the standard Stout recipe to raise the amount of fermentable sugars and hop presence in the final product.  The Alcohol By Volume (ABV) of Imperial Stouts can range between 8% and 12% as compared to 4% to 5% ABV of the average Dry Stout.  The increased specific gravity from the additional malt gives the Imperial Stout a thicker mouthfeel.  Hop flavor and aroma, which is often barely detectable in Dry Stouts, has a relatively high presence in an Imperial Stout.

Imperial Stouts are essentially Dry Stouts with an increased specific gravity and more hops.  Similar to Dry Stout brewing, when creating your own batch of Imperial Stout from extract it is best to use light malt extract and focus on the specialty grains to give the brew its dark color and roasty flavor.  Use around nine pounds of malt extract as the base.  This increase in fermentable sugars will yield the higher ABV percentage.  The specialty grains are similar to those used other Stout varieties such as the dark varieties of crystal and caramel malt, chocolate malt, roasted barley, and black malt.  These specialty grains will produce a nice opaque, dark color and add roasty flavor.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: Classic American Pilsner

Photo courtesy of Tony DeFilippo
T-I-N-Y BUBBLES….
courtesy of Tony DeFilippo

My homebrewing club  at Kena Shriners was asked to make a batch of beer for another club, and was given little direction on what type of homebrew recipe I should use. We did a little reconnaissance work and learned that this other club loves light lagers such as Bud Light, so I decided to make something similar enough that they would be familiar with it, but also different enough that it would be a bit more interesting than their usual brews.

I got this recipe from Brew Your Own, which labeled it “Your Father’s Mustache.” I have adapted the recipe a bit to accommodate for my timeframe and equipment. Specifically, I am using an ale yeast because I need the beer to be done and in a keg in a little more than a month. Making a true pilsner takes a bit longer than an ale because it requires a lager yeast, which ferments slowly, and at a low temperature.

I will be serving this beer on Monday at a Memorial Day cookout. If you go to the Falls Church Memorial Day Parade and see those guys in the little cars, they are the ones who requested this special brew. They will have it after the parade, mind you, so go enjoy all your fine fezzed friends driving their precision patterns.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: $12 (or so) Cream Ale

Photo courtesy of timomcd
Brewing Cream Ale
courtesy of timomcd

This is another in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of RealHomebrew.com. Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

I wrote about cream ale before. It is a good beer for the coming summer, light and refreshing, not too bitter, and easy-drinking – a perfect companion to while away the time with as you enjoy the evening whir of insects or traffic, whichever is more pervasive in your neighborhood.

The American Homebrewers Association recently had what they call $12 Cream Ale as a homebrew recipe of the week. I just about howled at the moon, I was so excited. $12 for a whole batch of beer? Sign me up! It sounded almost too good to be true. I looked at the recipe, and I am sure it would produce a fine brew, but the only way this is a $12 recipe is if you get half the stuff for free. The grain alone, 11 pounds of it, will cost nearly $2 per pound at Northern Brewer. Even if you buy a giant sack of it at 50 Pound Sack, it is slightly more than $1 per pound. That’s almost $12 right there.

Maybe if you are buying in bulk at wholesale prices, you can get down to almost $12. I priced it at my local-ish homebrew store (yes, they ship too, and have great prices, as does Derek at My Local Homebrew Shop) and it is a little more than $30 before tax. Northern Brewer could get me everything for more than $40. Even if I malted my own regular supermarket barley, that is $1 per pound at the cheapest. No way this whole brew is $12.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: Dry Stout Recipe

Photo courtesy of Bernt Rostad
Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel
courtesy of Bernt Rostad

This is another in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of RealHomebrew.com. Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

If you are like me and are a big Guinness fan, you may have toyed with the idea of trying to craft your own black brew. If you have, then good news: stouts are easy! This homebrew recipe is exactly what you are looking for.

Stouts are mostly associated with England and Ireland and are offshoots of Porters. As Porter styles evolved, the thicker and more robust Porters began to be referred to as “Stout Porters.” Eventually, the Stout developed into its own style and gained a devoted following.

In general, Stouts are very dark to black in color and have a roasty flavor. The hop flavor and aroma are minimal, though there are a few style exceptions with a pronounced hop presence such as the Imperial or Russian Stout. Stout styles can range from dry to sweet, relatively low to high alcohol content, vary from light to heavy bodied, and may have a hint of fruity esters.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: Coffee Porter

Photo courtesy of the little white box
Pause
courtesy of the little white box

Some people associate dark, rich beers with the winter months, but I think this recipe produces a beer that is just as good in the heat of the summer. It’s about 50 shades darker than a cream ale, but still as thirst-quenching and refreshing.

My friend Andy sent me this homebrew recipe after bringing a coffee porter to our homebrewing club. I lost the recipe for a couple months but just discovered it again, thank goodness. It is a dark, rich porter, very malty and with minimal bitterness, as you can see from the half ounce of bittering hops, boiled for only 45 minutes. The two-minute addition of Northern Brewer hops will impart a floral scent and the dry-hopping process will intensify this.

I am going to make this homebrew recipe soon but will deviate from Andy’s version below. I plan to use a different coffee. Andy used a French style fine-ground coffee. It tasted great, but my coffee preferences lean toward a Vietnamese brand called Trung Nguyen, which you can find at your local Southeast Asian supermarket. The deep, rich flavor of this coffee will work well with the malty character of the porter. I might try another batch with something a little less refined, like coffee with chicory. You can try any coffee you like a lot and think will give you a good flavor.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: American Cream Ale

Photo courtesy of Kevin H.
Liquid Light and Gold
courtesy of Kevin H.

This is another in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of RealHomebrew.com. Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

I recently decided to try a homebrew recipe for American cream ale. It reminded me of a guy I worked with who would walk from desk to desk in the office every afternoon and say, “It’s almost Genny time,” humorously referring to Genesee Cream Ale. Bob was fun to drink with. He was an older guy and naturally charming to everyone he met. He also had a penchant for drinking out of ten-ounce glasses, which I found interesting, if odd. “Give me a shorty,” he would tell the bartender.

Bob drank Genesee quite often and I drank it with him on occasion, so this beer kit I bought is more about reminiscing than it is about the particular style. Even if it is not my favorite, Genesee is an American original.

This style is light and slightly malty, not very bitter at all. It is an easy-drinking beer but has a good amount of alcohol, measuring in probably between five and six percent. That is a little high for what you might call a session beer, but not terribly so. I can imagine knocking out a couple of these with Hank Hill and the boys. A slight sweetness comes from the corn sugar, but the sugar is really there to boost the alcohol, so you get to taste what the hungry yeast cells never got to before they gave up the ghost. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: Bacon Beer, a Stout Lover’s Breakfast

Photo courtesy of Samer Farha
Black Thai
courtesy of Samer Farha

This is another in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of RealHomebrew.com. Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

Not so long ago, @brew_thusiast tweeted his disappointment with a particular homebrew bacon beer, saying that it was a decent enough brown ale but lacked the bacon flavor that would make it the draw it should have been. This got me thinking about bacon beer. Is it really good or too good to be true? The promise is great – a smoky, meaty, maybe salty brew that could be a good accompaniment for your eggs, rashers, and black pudding, or whatever you like to have for breakfast. You do like black pudding, don’t you?

It would have to be a stout or porter, is my guess. Bacon is a heavy meat, and most pairing guides suggest putting rich drinks with rich foods. A heavy beer would be best, for sure. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: Uniquely American

Photo courtesy of Poncho Equihua
Hops and Yeast, lupulos & levaduras
courtesy of Poncho Equihua

This is another in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of RealHomebrew.com. Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

America’s biggest contribution to the beer world, at least in my opinion, is a very good jumping-off point for homebrew: the American ale. It is safe to say that the majority of beer enthusiasts have enjoyed an ale at one time or another. Despite the commercial popularity of pilsners in America, the craft brew community has brought about a rebirth of this uniquely American style.

American ales are generally a bit more hoppy than their cousins from across the pond and often have a bit higher percent alcohol by volume (ABV). A great deal of the unique hoppiness is due to the floral and citrus characteristics of the hops grown in the United States, especially those developed in California and the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the increased hop characteristics, American ales are generally medium bodied with a lighter malt flavor than than European-style ales. Some of the more notable American ale styles are the American pale, amber, brown, and IPA.

Let’s get brewing!  Continue reading

Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: Kölsch, Springtime’s True Delight

Photo courtesy of ilovebutter
Adding the hops
courtesy of ilovebutter

This is the second in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of RealHomebrew.com. Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

Now that springtime is upon us, it’s time to start drinking like it. I brought this beer to fellow We Love DC authors Tom and Tiff’s house recently for a barbecue and it was met with a standing ovation. Well, most people were standing anyway, and truthfully there was no real ovation, but people expressed their desire to have more by, well, having more. Another almost-empty keg…

A Kölsch is an ale that is light, crisp, and great to drink. I think of a kölsch as a great springtime drink, cool and refreshing, clear, malty, and with a definite but not overpowering hoppy flavor. This is a pretty simple homebrew recipe, using some grains, but relying mostly on malt extracts. It’ll make you the popular house on the block on those warm spring nights. Continue reading

Homebrewing

The Environmental Impact of Kegging vs. Bottling

Vessels
Vessels by AdamLogan

This is the first in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of RealHomebrew.com. Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

I read on treehugger.com that a life cycle assessment study was done that showed that the environmental impact of kegged beer was 68% lower than that of bottled beer. Most of the impact is due to packaging differences and how people get their beer.

Kegging has much less environmental waste than bottling. Bottling beer requires heavy glass containers that only sometimes are returned for refill, bottle caps that are useless once removed, and lots of gas spent transporting everything both to the store and then to your home. Kegged beer has a lighter package per volume, which means less gas cost, and the keg is always returned for reuse. Really – when have you bought a keg of beer and decided to throw it away after it was empty? Bars and restaurants are the same way. They return those empty buggers to get their deposits back.

This study only looked at a commercially produced beer, and in part of Europe where people likely have more draft beer at bars than Americans tend to, with all of our bottled choices at the bars we frequent. While the disparity in environmental impact is likely still great here in the States, the differences in how we consume beer might have to be examined.

The environmental impact for kegged beer is probably pretty close to bottled beer for homebrewers, I would guess. We are almost fanatical about collecting and reusing bottles. It’s not that we are all tree huggers, but that bottles are expensive if you have to buy them. They are still heavier than kegs by volume, and require crown caps, which get discarded, but I suspect the difference in impact between the two methods is minimal for homebrewers.

On the other hand, if kegging is more environmentally friendly, maybe that is a good argument to invest in a kegging system. Do you like the beers you make? They will taste even better off the tap. Trust me – once you go keg, you never go back. First thing first, though — start brewing, then eventually work your way to a keg. Big Daddy will help you do it.

Originally published at RealHomebrew.com.

Beer Bottles by AdamLogan.