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Brewing Until 4:00 AM, or, a First Partial Mash (Leffe Blond clone)

Posted by homebrewdad on 3/28/2012 at 08:14:14 PM

After two batches of extract brewing under my belt - both with speciality grains, one of them a kit - I had already been severely bitten by the bug of wanting to move toward all grain brewing. I enjoy recipes, I enjoy experimentation, and I see that a lot of grains - even adjunct and speciality grains - would simply be unavailable to me, as a brewer, if I only did extract. I would like to eventually have a few beers that I consider to be "my own", and I feel that extract brewing would limit my ability to do so. Unformtunately, I don't have the equipment or the disposable income to move to all grain yet, so I decided to take the intermediate step of a partial mash recipe (specifially, using the "beer in a bag" method).

Since my first two beers were so dark, I decided to go in a new direction with this one, settling on Revvy's Leffe Blonde clone recipe. Unfortunatey, Austin Homebrew was out of the hops called for in the original recipe, so I ended up substituting them as best I could. Also, the original recipe is a complete all-grain deal; I used BeerSmith to help me convert it to partial mash. The recipe follows:

Recipe Type: Partial Mash
Yeast: WLP530 White Labs Abbey Ale
Yeast Starter: Yes
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.25 gallons
Original Gravity: 1.075
Final Gravity: 1.017
ABV: 7.6%
IBU: 33.6
Boiling Time (Minutes): 90
Color: 6.5 SRM

Grain bill:
4 lbs Pilsner (2 row) Belgian
1 lb Munich Malt
5.3 oz Biscuit Malt
3.5 oz Melanoiden Malt

1 oz Glacier (5.6% alpha) at 60 minutes, 15.4 IBU
.5 oz Williamette (4.0% alpha) at 60 minutes, 5.5 IBU
.5 oz Williamette (4.0% alpha) at 30 minutes, 4.2 IBU

Other sugars:
2 lbs 8 oz extra light dry extract at 60 minutes
2 lbs 8 oz extra light dry extract at 15 minutes
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just finished a leffe clone myself. happen to be drinking one at the moment. I've been doing all grain for a couple of years now and wanted to take a break, so i converted the above to extract with steeping grains. It actually came out a little darker than the original but is still quite tasty. I also brewed it at about 80 f in true belgian style. I called it Leffe Dirty Blonde. How did yours turn out?

posted by mat on 3/29/2012 at 09:04:02 PM

Great blog,I will brew the same tonight,BIAB with a bit less grain.will let you know how it went.
I hope I'm not gonna finish at 4am.

posted by Chris on 3/30/2012 at 02:14:21 AM

I'm familiar with brewing in the early hours of the morning - when you have kids it's usually the best time to do it.

Here's a tip for next time you do a partial mash: don't add your extract to the main boil pot, instead use a seperate pot to dissolve and short boil sanitise it. You'll avoid foaming problems, avoid caramilization, get better hops utillisation, save time and cool faster. Your wort from the PM should be at around the right BG whthout any additional extract. I've written up my PM process here:

posted by Aidan on 4/11/2012 at 03:11:38 AM

By the way, the second pot for the extract doesn't need to be that big, a standard large kitchen pot should do. It's my approach to the 'late extract' method which overcomes the known shortfalls of partial boil (and the shortfalls of my stove!).

posted by Aidan on 4/12/2012 at 03:58:39 PM

Tags for this post: partial, mash, leffe, blonde, clone, belgian, late, night, brewing, brew, beer, ale

Common Sense for Homebrewers - Some Basics Everyone Should Know

Posted by homebrewdad on 3/13/2012 at 07:14:48 PM

I have gotten fairly active on the forums; I find it liberating to be able to communicate with others who share this hobby/obsession of homebrewing beer. Since I've recently been going through a job search and have been unable to justify the spending of money on beer making equipment or ingredients, I have used that forum as a way to vicariously live through others.

In fact, before I ever started actually brewing my own beer - back when I was trying to get a handle on the process of homebrewing, and figuring out what equipment I needed - I spent a fair amount of time reading the various threads there. They have a complete subforum dedicated to newbie brewing questions, and believe me, the newbies there make great use of it.

Understand, I have only brewed two batches of my own beer to date. I am still very much a newbie, myself, and I have a ridiculous amount left to learn. Even so, I sometimes think that my desire to educate myself makes me something of an exception to the rule; I am amazed at how many people ask the same questions day in and day out, and am even more amazed at how many rush into the process and cut silly corners. If you are willing to spend the time and money to brew your own beer, why would you not want to do it right? Sure, even a moron in a hurry can probably make decent beer,...
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Tags for this post: newbie, mistake, mistakes, fermentation, homebrew, homebrewing, carb, temp, temperature, beer, brewing

Day of Reckoning: Trying my First Homebrewed Beer

Posted by homebrewdad on 2/19/2012 at 07:52:42 PM

After a full seven weeks of waiting - fifteen days in primary, fifteen days in secondary, and three weeks in bottles - I couldn't wait any longer...  it was finally time to try my Yorkshire square brown ale.  I expected it to still be slightly green; as I understand, normal gravity beers typically take three weeks at seventy degrees to fully carb up.  The closet where my beer lives usually stays in the sixty-four to sixty-eight degree range, and I pulled my first bottle to the fridge two days before the full three weeks had elapsed.  That being said, this was my very first homebrewed beer, and I believe that I have been far more than patient. 

As a recap, this ale came from an Austin Homebrew Supply extract kit with specialty grains.  It uses a White Labs limited edition yeast (whatever that means).  I opted for the dry extract version... and after dealing with liquid extract (and the associated mess and hassle) on another recipe, I think that I'll go with dry whenever possible in the future.

I had a little trepidation as I took the bottle out of the fridge.  On brew day, my original gravity measurement had been very high - though I now know that it had to be very close to correct; my samples were simply a bit concentrated.  The beer had fermented in that same closet that I would use for bottle conditioning, which meant that my fermentation temperature certainly got into the high end...
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Tags for this post: taste, tasting, first, beer, homebrew, homebrewing, yorkshire, brown, ale

Another Brunette? A Blonde? A Redhead?

Posted by homebrewdad on 2/08/2012 at 05:28:52 AM


While my homebrew pipeline is far from rolling along at full power, I do have a nice start on it.  My first batch - the Yorkshire brown ale - is bottled and sitting in my closet while undergoing the process of carbonating; in another two weeks or so, it shold be ready to drink.  My second batch - the imperial nut brown ale - is enjoying the cooler locale of my basement, and is two and a half weeks into primary fermentation.  This is a big beer that will take some time to mellow out, so at the four week mark, I'll rack it to a secondary fermenter and leave it for at least another month before bottling. 

Once I siphon the imperial out, I'll have an empty six and a half gallon carboy... that will never do.  If I hadn't broken one of my five gallon carboys, I'd have even more room to brew... but that is a moan for another day.  My brthday is coming up this weekend; I'll surely be asking for beer making supplies so that I can get my next batch going. 

I've spent a good deal of time wondering about what that next beer should be.  Since my own beer intake level is pretty low, my intention has always been to share my brews with neighbors and coworkers; some variety might be a helpful thing there (and I would like to experiment some with different styles of beer).  Brown ales are my favorite

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Tags for this post: brunette, blonde, redhead, beer, ale, chimay, leffe, irish, red, style, homebrew, brew, homebrewing

Custom Labels for my Yorkshire Brown Ale

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/31/2012 at 05:46:11 AM

I make this post knowing full well that it was created in the light of me successfully bottling my very first batch of homebrewed beer (my Yorkshire brown ale).  Time, wisdom, and/or cynicism may eventually change my point of view, but today, I am excited, and I'd like to share that excitement with the rest of the homebrewing world.

I have become fairly active at the forums, and I'd say that the vocal majority of members there do not bother with fancy labels (to say nothing of those who look down their noses at those who do).  Many of the members there reuse commercial bottles, and they do no labelling at all beyond some sharpie with a lot number, or perhaps a colored sticker on their bottle caps.  I have no problem with any of the above, but I want to be able to place a bottle of beer into someone's hand and have them react positvely to the appearance.  I want people to get the impression that I care about this hobby, and I feel like a nice package really helps to convey that.

A few months ago, back when homebrewing was only an abstract concept for me, I began to think about what I might call the beers that I created; after all any brewery has a name, right?  After musing on this for a few days, a name hit me, one that gave a nod to my Southern heritage while still allowing me to honor my geeky love...
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Tags for this post: custom, labels, label, bottle, caps, art, yorkshire, brown, ale

Bottling the Yorkshire Square Brown Ale

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/30/2012 at 03:41:13 AM

After thirty days of fermentation and clarifying (fifteen days in primary, followed by fifteen more in secondary), the day had come to bottle my Yorkshire square brown ale.  

 I will admit to being a bit worried about the process.  I have done a lot of reading about bottling, and have read quite a few gripes about bottling homebrewed beer.  It's a tiresome process, it can be tricky, it's messy, caps don't always seal correctly - and on and on and on.  

My personal verdict?  Bottling is no big deal.  It's clearly a repetitive process to fill and seal forty-eight bottles of beer in one sitting, but I didn't find it to be an unenjoyable (or complicated) process at all.  Rather, I found it to be rather rewarding - I've put time and effort into creating this beer, and now, I finally have the chance to see it safely in bottles.  While it's cool to see your beer in a carboy, it's even better to see two full cases of YOUR brew in bottles. 

The prep and cleanup phases were honestly much more of a pain that the actual bottling.  I rinsed off and sanitized my bottles (fourteen at a time, as this was all my bucket would hold at one), then placed them into my dishwaser to fully drain (where I ran them through the drying cycle to...
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Tags for this post: bottling, bottle, cap, capper, wing capper, homebrew, ale, beer, sanitizing, carboy, broken

Imperial Nut Brown Ale: my Second Homebrewed Beer Attempt

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/25/2012 at 08:31:49 PM

This past Saturday, I completed my second brewing session.  My target this time around was to be an imperial nut brown ale. This was my first recipe to follow (my earlier effort was a kit from Austin Homebrew), and the beer was supposed to be bigger and more complex than my first brew. 

My little boys (ages four and two) were excited to help.  They are both young enough that anything Daddy is excited about, they are excited about, and they love to get involved.  Sometimes, that "help" wasn't always terribly helpful - such as when they would yet again stick fingers into the opening of my sanitized carboy, requiring me to sanitize the rassafracking thing one more flipping time - but I wouldn't have traded the time with them for anything. All told, it was a fun process.

I started off by taking my previously made yeast starter out of the fridge, decanting it (which,in layman's terms, means that I poured most of the "beer" off of my yeast, leaving just enough to swirl the yeast solids back in for pitching), and setting it aside to reach pitching temperature.  I took my second smack pack of yeast (Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale) out...
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Tags for this post: imperial, nut, brown, ale, brewing, home, homebrewing, kids, yeast, yeast issues, malt extract

My Very First Yeast Starter - it Really *is* that Easy

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/18/2012 at 05:36:51 AM

My wife observed today (and not overly happily) that my brewing footprint is growing.  Apparently, it was not enough for me to have a large glass bottle full of clarifying ale in our closet... no, I have added a new, mysterious concoction to the closet floor, as well, in the form of a sanitized tea jug with a small portion of foamy tan liquid in the bottom of it.  This new container is, of course, a yeast starter.
Incidentally, I have learned that the smell I associate so directly with beer is actually the yeast.  Call me a moron for not knowing that, but it's true.  Also, feel free to call me strange for sniffing both the airlock on my existing batch, and the top of my starter jug.  I like the smell, so help me!
Back to the subject at hand...
I have decided to hedge my bets on the next batch of beer - my imperial nut brown ale is supposed to be a high gravity brew (1.081 original gravity, even higher than my Yorkshire ale inadvertantly started at).  Despite the fact that my single tube of yeast (the limited edition Yorkshire Square Brown from White Labs) seemed to do well (even thrive) in my last batch, I want to make sure that I pitch enough yeast to handle this upcoming brew, so I purchased two "smack packs" of it (this recipe called for Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale) - and have made my very first starter from one
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Tags for this post: yeast, starter, smell, pitch, fermentation, ale

Beer on the Move - Racking my Yorkshire Brown to the Secondary

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/15/2012 at 05:55:07 AM


Today, after allowing it to sit for almost fifteen full days in the primary, I racked my Yorkshire brown ale to the secondary fermenter.  I had some adventures taking my gravity reading - I pulled a 1.020 on the first try, which would indicate that somehow, in just over a day. I had managed to LOSE fermentation.  Clearly, this was not possible  - one of the readings had to be wrong - so I worried about which I had gotten wrong.  I spun the thief to ensure that there weren't any bubbles interfering with the measurement... then finally realized that my hydrometer was sitting at the bottom of the thief, making it physically impossible for the reading to go down any more. 
I dumped that sample into a cup, took another sample, and pulled a 1.012 - exactly what my last measurement was.  On the bright side, I now had a double-sized sample to drink (I won't return a sample to the carboy to make sure that I don't introduce any bacteria to the beer).
Incidentally, I don't think that I was very fair to this beer on my first tasting; this time, I was ready for the lack of carbonation and how that affects the entire experience.  I have decided, on further consideration, that this beer has a LOT of potential.  There's a lot more flavor than I was thinking was present, and while the alcohol warmth is still there, it's not unpleasant.  I think that a few weeks will turn this into

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Tags for this post: auto, siphon, carboy, ale, yorkshire, brown, air, bubbles, leaky

Checking the Progress of the Yorkshire Brown Ale

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/13/2012 at 05:41:07 AM


Today was day thirteen of my Yorkshire brown in the primary fermenter.  The bubbling of the airlock has all but completely stopped, so the main part of fermentation should be done - but to be sure, one must take a new specific gravity reading.  If you get matching gravity readings on consecutive days, then you actually know that fermentation is done.
I have pretty religiously kept the carboy wrapped in a towel - this protects the beer from light, which is very bad for it - and also helps to keep the temperature more constant.  The carboy has been kept in my closet, though, so the temperature shouldn't have varied *too* much.
My target original gravity was 1.051, and my target final gravity was 1.013, which translates to a beer with an alcohol by volume of just a hair under 5.0% exactly.  When I brewed this batch, my orignal gravity reading was very high (you may recall), at 1.075.  Today's reading was 1.012 - almost perfectly on target.  This confirms my suspicion that fermentation is done, though I'll take one more reading to be very sure.  This also means that my worry of there being too much sugar in the finsihed beer is unfounded, since the sugar all fermented out to the expected saturation. 
The sample did smell sweeter than I expected it would, but the numbers don't lie, right?
At any rate, next came one of the best parts of brewing your own beer - getting to taste it. 
I knew full well that the sample would be

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Tags for this post: gravity, original, specific, final, abv, alcohol, volume, warmth, ale, homebrew, brew, brewing

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