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White Labs Tasting - Maibock, Barleywine and Belgian Strong

Posted by zVulture on 5/05/2016 at 11:05:15 PM


Making up a bit for last week and making sure to hit these more limited released beers, I am covering some of the heavier hitters as these are all high ABV. Tack on the drinking at the company social before forgive any more creative wording as I go on in this review.


WLP833 German Bock Lager Yeast

White Labs Description - From the Alps of southern Bavaria, this yeast produces a beer that is well balanced between malt and hop character. The excellent malt profile makes it well suited for Bocks, Doppelbocks, and Oktoberfest style beers. Very versatile lager yeast, it is so well balanced that it has gained tremendous popularity for use in Classic American style Pilsners. Also good for Helles style lager beer.
Aroma: A little bit of sweet maltiness tied with some pear-like ester.
Taste: The aroma seems to follow along with the taste, I get the expected maltiness, sweet and thicker finish to this beer. There is that bit of esters that slips right into a little bitter harshness that adds almost a little too much bite to the beer, at least for me.
Personal Ideas: I could see this being smoothed out a little more with aging, using some oak (no bourbon/etc, just plain), or some more malt complexity to really showcase the yeast at this high ABV.

WLP920 Old Bavarian Lager Yeast

White Labs Description - From Southern Germany, this yeast finishes malty with a slight ester profile. Use in beers such as Oktoberfest, Bock, and Dark Lagers.
Aroma: Getting a fleeting yet strong aroma from a blend of honey and honeydew. A sniffer glass would make this far clearer than the tasting glass.
Taste: The almost mead-like of this beer really shows through right out of the gate. It's sweeter with a bit of a thick mouthfeel. The fruity esters really sit there...
[ read more... ]

Steven, otherwise known as zVulture on reddit or in games, is a homebrewer with two years and counting under the belt. Ambitious enough to think he can work his way up to opening his own brewery but knows he has a lot to learn. Beyond having fun doing experimental homebrewing to such an end, he enjoys learning and using old techniques, useful or not, to make beer. "[We] are only concerned with giving homebrewers accurate information based on our own experience in the hope that they will find the information useful and employ it to make their own homebrewing hobby more fun and rewarding. Because that’s what it’s all about– fun. If you’re stressing over homebrewing, you’re doing something wrong." - Denny Conn

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Tags for this post: White Labs, Yeast, Belgian Strong, Barleywine, Maibock

Odd Beer #3: Dunkelweizenbock

Posted by zVulture on 4/14/2016 at 09:38:23 PM


This is partly a continuation of the Odd Beer series and an experiment on putting my yeast blend to the test. There isn't really a style anymore for this beer as there are elements from the different yeasts and far more roast in it than normal for even the blasphemy version of this style I make and so I could only call it a Dunkelweizenbock. Mostly because a Heavy Dark Belgian Wheat just didn't sound sophisticated enough for all that was going into the beer.


Type: All Grain, No-Sparge
Style: 15b Dunkelweizen (haha who am I kidding)
Alcohol: ~8.5%
IBU: ~17
Batch Vol: 5.50 gal
Final Vol: 5.00 gal

Amount Name Type Addition %Bill/IBU
7 lb White Wheat Malt Grain Mash 38%
4 lbs Dark Munuch Malt Grain Mash 22%
4 lbs Pilsner (German) Grain Mash 22%
2 lb Flaked Wheat Grain Mash 11%
1 lb Caramunich III Malt Grain Mash 5%
0.25 lb (4 oz) Carafa Special III Grain Mash 1%
0.5 lb (8 oz) Rice Hulls Grain Mash N/A
1 oz Hallertau [4%] Hop Boil 60.0 min 12
1 oz Hallertau [4%] Hop Boil 10.0 min 5
0.5 Packet (75m-100m cells) Hefeweizen Ale Yeast (White Labs WLP300) Yeast Pitch Temp -
0.5 Packet (75m-100m cells) Bastogne
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: Odd Beer, Dunkelweizen, Weizenbock, Dark Wheat

In Pursuit of History: Brewing a Kentucky Common

Posted by homebrewdad on 4/14/2016 at 01:03:36 AM

Just after Valentine's Day, one of the awesome guys on my brewing email list sent out an link to's "Trending American Retro Beers" article, and mentioned how he thought that the Kentucky Common would be my sort of beer. Now, I had heard of the style before, but after reading about the beer (they describe the commercial example as "caramel-forward, with low hop bitterness and a lightly mineral finish to keep it refreshing"), it woke the beer recipe muse in my head.

We discussed various ideas, argued on whether or not sour mashing was an appropriate measure to take, and kicked around the idea of various extra steps (such as boiling down first runnings). I found myself looking at a fair number of recipes online, reading through the BJCP guidelines for the style, and seeking out what historical notes I could find for this beer (Wikipedia's entry was a great starting place for research)... and soon enough, I was sold on trying to brew a Kentucky Common.

First off, I decided to *not* incorporate a sour mash. From what I could tell, all ideas about sour mashing came from the notion that, hey, bourbon from the area obviously incorporated sour mashing, so beer brewing had to do the same, right? However, I could not find a single historical source that suggested a sour mash was ever employed. Instead, it appeared that this beer was produced and packaged quickly, with an emphasis on making an...
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: Kentucky, common, historical, beer, homebrew

On Crushing Grains - a Beginner's Guide

Posted by toklas on 4/02/2016 at 11:53:35 AM


This may seem like a really silly post to some of you seasoned vets out there, but this is for the folks who are just a bit afraid of starting all grain. There were two major things that really held me back for a while from switching to all-grain:

  1. The myth that everything is really heavy, especially the BIAB grain bag.

Ok, everybody: this is not true for normal 5 gallon batches. The grain bag is not any heavier than a few shopping bags full of groceries. The filled carboy/bucket is heavier than the wet grain bag, and if you’re already making kit beer you’re already lifting the filled carboy. Ergo, you are strong enough to lift the wet grain bag. End myth.

  1. Crushing grain is scary, and using a grain mill is scary.

This part actually really scared me. I was afraid of using it wrong, I am not comfortable using a drill, there are so many pieces and bits and it’s just really intimidating if you never use

[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: homebrewing, grains, crush

White Labs Wheat Ale Yeast Tasting

Posted by zVulture on 4/01/2016 at 12:09:42 AM


This is a continuation of the White Labs yeast tasting series. While the name needed to be kept short it isn't literally tasting yeast. They have a tasting room at their local facility which serves flights of the same base beer fermented with different yeasts. It gives a great perspective into how these yeasts are different though there might be better ways to draw the flavor from each. This time, I am going to cover the Wheat Beer flight! Though note I am running these by request and have bias on these yeasts due to my research on making my own Dunkelweizen. Still, I will keep mostly impartial to their strengths as best I can.

Todays subject: Wheat Ale Yeasts - Hefeweizen Base

From left to right, WLP080 - WLP300 - WLP320 - WLP351

WLP080 Cream Ale Yeast Blend

White Labs Description - This is a blend of ale and lager yeast strains. The strains work together to create a clean, crisp, light American lager style ale. A pleasing estery aroma may be perceived from the ale yeast contribution. Hop flavors and bitterness are slightly subdued. Slight sulfur will be produced during fermentation, from the lager yeast.
Aroma: Very light ester with a light acidity with an almost nail polish finish though not unpleasant.
Taste: Lightly dry, clean almost lager like profile closer to the pilsners. Very light body makes it a refreshing beer.
Personal Ideas: This would be a nice...
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: White Labs, Yeast, Beer Tasting, Hefewiezen, Wheat

White Labs Lager Yeast Tasting

Posted by zVulture on 3/17/2016 at 11:13:58 PM


Living in San Diego where White Labs is located has been a great boon to my beer making. These guys offer four or five flights of four beers each with a different yeast. Each flight is made using the same base beer which makes it amazing to compare notes to each variety being used. That being said, the same elements used could impact the potential output of these flavors but it is a far greater insight into the elements that a yeast add to beer. Upon suggestion by an /r/homebrewing member when discussing yeasts, I am now 'sacrificing' myself to drink and review the yeasts. This is very subjective, I am not BJCP certified and not trained in judging beers so the words I use to describe them are my own. Feel free to correct or add input to the information I have here if you have experience with these yeasts.

Todays subject: Lager Yeasts - Pilsner Base

WLP802 Czeck Budejovice Lager

White Labs Description - Pilsner lager yeast from Southern Czech Republic. Produces dry and crisp lagers, with low diacetyl production.
Aroma: Light almost peach or apricot, very light plastic that I attribute to belgian types
Taste: Clean, light esters but no noticeable type which helps counter the very dry finish.
Personal Ideas: Dry summer lager with a lemon slice, could see soft or very light fruit additions or even just tiny bit of smoked malt. I wouldn't want to do much as the...
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: White Labs, Yeast, Tasting Notes

Brewing an IPA with a Full Pound of Hops

Posted by homebrewdad on 3/08/2016 at 10:44:31 AM

This past Christmas, Santa Claus (with the help of my awesome wife) hooked me up with a fantastic start to a kegging system - three ball lock kegs, a regulator, new CO2 bottle, four way manifold, one Perlick faucet, and lots of assorted hoses, o-rings, and fittings. For four years, I've been a pretty staunch bottling guy; despite a couple of run ins with bottle infections, I had always found it to be a good fit for me. I don't drink a lot of beer (and give a lot away), so bottling was great for that. I also enjoy coming up with some pretty cool labels for my beers, and have an awesome artist friend who draws them for me.

The few months leading up to Christmas found me really pondering the benefits of kegging for the first time since I started brewing. In a development that likely comes as no surprise to most brewers, my growing love for IPAs was directly responsible for this. Believe it or not, it took me a good two and a half years of homebrewing before I even began to tolerate hoppy beers; for the longest time, I found that even fairly tame APAs were just too bitter for my tastes. However, I kept trying various hoppy beers, and lo and behold - my tastes changed. Yes, Virginia, there *is* a lupulin shift fairy!

In what seems to be a pretty common theme among homebrewers, I found myself chasing that elusive, big punch of...
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: hops, IPA, pound, heavily hopped, dry hop, aroma

Odd Beers #2: Mountain Dew Pale Ale

Posted by zVulture on 3/03/2016 at 11:41:19 PM


So this is a continuation of the Odd Beer series I am doing, the first was the Orange Creamsicle Ale. While that one was a creation of my own, this is the first of the set that was suggested by users. The recipe was spawned off this recipe from /u/somethin_brewin but modified to my crazy ideas...

Mountain Dew Pale Ale

Type: BIAB & Dew
Style: Experimental Pale Ale
Alcohol: ~6%
Efficiency: 70%
IBU: ~20
Batch Vol: 5.50 gal
Bottle/Keg Vol: 5.00 gal

Amount Name Type Addition %Bill/IBU
4 lb Golden Promise Grain Mash 44%
1 lbs Crystal 40L Grain Mash 11%
4 Gallons Mountain Dew Adjunct Start of Boil 44%
0.50 oz Citra [12%] Hop Boil 30 min ~16 IBU
1.00 oz Amarillo [9%] Hop Boil 30 min ~24 IBU
0.50 oz Sorachi Ace [13%] Hop Boil 5 min ~5 IBU
2L Starter Yeast Bay Vermont Ale Yeast Yeast Pitch Temp -

The adjunct change I made to the recommended recipe was to go with Golden Promise as I was only adding in five pounds of grain in an entire five gallon batch. I wanted the beer to have some indication of actual beer flavor. Treating it like a Session, the base malt was swapped out to try

[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: Mountain Dew, Pale Ale, Odd Beer, Soda

QUAFF Maple Bourbon Barrel Project Part 3

Posted by zVulture on 2/25/2016 at 10:52:19 PM


While I have covered the first of the barrel aged beers, the Old Ale, the keg finally arrived for the Breakfast Stout! For those that are reading this series for the first time, a bunch of local homebrewers got together on a group buy of Bourbon Barrels that were used to age maple syrup. These were then used of course to age beer which we brewed at Arcana Brewing on their 3bbl system. Compared to the first recipe, this was quite a bit more involved as it we wanted to clone Founder's Breakfast Stout. Thankfully the recipe was given by the brewery and printed in Zymergy Magazine (seen below). Unlike my usual recipe postings, I will just include this snippet as we only made minor adjustments (also listed below).

The minor changes to the recipe were regarding the roasted malts and coffee additions. While the value was the same, the de-bittered and chocolate malts were more what the brewery had available as we didn't want to buy a 55lb bag of each. Also the coffee used was from a local roaster so that will change the flavor depending on your preference.

Tasting the Breakfast Stout

First, I admit I am not a bit stout fan. Though it is something my roommate loves to no end so there is always too much of it at home. His words being "It needs to be so dark and dense you can't see through it with...
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: Breakfast Stout, Stout, Barrel, Barrel Aged, QUAFF

Odd Beer #1 - Orange Creamsicle Ale

Posted by zVulture on 2/18/2016 at 10:05:43 PM


For all my dreams of working up to going pro, homebrewing really is just a hobby right now. Repeating the same recipe with minor tweaks each time to perfect it, while a great learning experience, is just boring most times. That brings about a lack of motivation to move forward, a watering down on the passion which drives me to do more, be more. To get back to my roots I focused on the few things that brought me to the hobby in the first place. The first was being able to make beer I couldn't get anywhere else. The second was to enjoy sharing something that I had made, for better or worse the responses. And lastly, to always be learning as there is so much that is left to experience and even explore new paths not yet taken. So I decided to dedicate myself to making twelve odd beers in 2016 on top of whatever other beers I end up doing. Armed with the suggestions from Reddit I have started on the first, though just a warm up:

Orange Creamsicle Ale

This beer was an example one I provided to Reddit though I include it in one of the twelve. It experiments the use of Lactose being used on beers other than Milk Stouts. Primarily in beers that mimic flavors of dairy products. Of course I wouldn't try only one new thing at a time, I also wanted to see how to

[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: Odd Beer, Orange, Creamsicle, Orange Creamsicle, cursed

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