Menu Icon

Looking for homebrewing gift ideas? Check out our previous gift guides here or here!
Also, if you enjoy BrewUnited, please consider doing your Amazon shopping via our affiliate link!

Introducing the 2015 BrewUnited Challenge Homebrew Heroes!

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/21/2016 at 01:54:09 PM

Back in the summer of 2015, the BrewUnited Challenge was nothing more than a pipe dream. My experience to that point with competitions consisted of me entering one local comp; to call me a neophyte would be putting it kindly.

I did at least recognize that I didn't know what I didn't know, and I recruited a core of really good guys (Matthew Chrispen, Matt Del Fiacco, and Aaron Collier) to serve not only as the head judges for each of their respective sites, but also to help plan, to make rules, to give creative feedback, to tell me when I was being a moron. I didn't always agree, but more often than not, I listened to what they had to say; we cast votes on pretty much everything of importance (and, truth be told, more than a few items that probably were not of importance). The only time my vote ever could have counted for extra was in the event of a tied vote... and I don't believe that I ever actually exercised this power.

We kicked a lot of ideas around, but Matt C. came up with a really unique concept - the Homebrew Hero. The idea was of a special award to celebrate those brewers who showed excellence across multiple entries.

We all thought this was a good idea, and eventually settled on a few tenets for the award.

  • To qualify, a brewer's entries all had to be medal worthy - i.e., they must score at least a 30 (the minimum score to be considered for a medal).
  • This would be a "lifetime achievement" type award - once won a single time, it could never be won again.
  • This would be an exclusive club - no more than three such awards would be given out in any given year. If we did not get a single brewer who met the requirements, we would not give out the award at all.
  • The
[ read more... ]

Please support BrewUnited by using our Amazon affiliate link when doing any shopping there - be it for homebrewing or for your regular shopping!

Please log in to comment on this post
Don't have an account?

Tags for this post: homebrew, hero, BrewUnited, challenge, brewer

Liquid Yeast Storage Medium - Beer vs. Water

Posted by vinpaysdoc on 1/11/2016 at 12:02:20 PM


Shortly after I began brewing I ran across Brulosopher's yeast harvesting article and started my own liquid yeast bank. Initially, it was recommended that once the yeast settled you should decant the beer and replace it with sterile water. This was my practice until many of those re-using yeast started to leave the beer over the yeast cake, reasoning that the alcohol would provide some measure of protection from bacterial contamination. That sounded reasonable to me and I began to leave the beer over the yeast cake to store it. It has probably been over a year that I have been storing yeast that way and I have had this nagging feeling that it takes my starters longer to get going since I changed. I've started thinking about alcohol being toxic to cells and wondering if this is really the best practice, so, I decided to perform a little pseudo-science to see for myself if one was better than the other.

The Question

Is there a noticeable difference in starters where yeast was stored under sterile water versus yeast stored under beer?

The Method

The Yeast: WLP001 harvested from a starter 9/30/15 and WLP002 harvested 10/3/15 were used. They both were stored in the vials two months before these starters were done. One vial was stored under the beer and the other had the beer decanted off and replaced with boiled/chilled water. There were roughly 50 billion cells
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: Yeast Harvesting, Yeast Storage Medium

On Judging and Organizing: Working on National Internet Competitions

Posted by Matt on 12/08/2015 at 12:12:54 AM


This past year, I've had quite a few beer-related honors. I was made a moderator of the /r/homebrewing community, a community I love and where I learned most of what I know about homebrewing. I've been named the technical czar of my local club, which essentially means I handle presentations and fill in if needed. I've been able to continue to bond with an awesome group of guys and learn from them. I was invited to work on a local barrel project, entirely by chance, and learned a lot from this group as well (plus, got some awesome bourbon barrel aged sour stout). 

There are other things, accomplishments I'm proud of, but none so much as the work I've been able to do with the homebrewing community, both in-person and online. The community, you, is what keeps me coming back. Without the community, I'd probably quit brewing tomorrow, which means nothing to you but quite a bit to me. Which is why I'm thrilled to have been involved in two fantastic competitions this year, the Reddit Homebrewing Competition (as the organizer) and the BrewUnited Challenge (as a site organizer/judge/steward). 

Both were huge learning experiences for me. I'd never done judging (I've been a steward), I'd never organized a competition, I'd never organized other judges. But, looking back, there are a few points that stand out that I feel the need to share about the experience. 

1. Judging is tough

When Olan
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: beer, homebrew, homebrewing, competitions, online competitions, BrewUnited, BrewUnited Challenge, Reddit, Reddit Homebrewing Competition

The Evolution of a Homebrewer's Spouse

Posted by toklas on 12/03/2015 at 10:45:59 PM

Toklas: Hon, did I get a package in the mail? I am expecting a book.
Husband: Yes, there was a package for you, so I put it in the fridge.

And with that, the book I ordered was indeed in the refrigerator. This whole scenario led me down the path of just how much my husband has changed as the spouse of a brewer.

As a female brewer, I have always appreciated his help with lugging heavy stuff around, but this mail-in-the-fridge event made me realise just all of the crazy things I've asked him to do for the sake of brewing. So I've commented on the evolution of a homebrewer's spouse, with my husband as H and me as, well, T in the text below.

They understand the nuances of fermentation

stays far away from fermentation vessel, afraid it might explode.
A few years in (via text message):
H: Hon, your beer is making funny noises.
T: Is it like "blub blub blub"?
H: Yep
T: Awesome.
H: ...ok then.
H: Hon, your beer is really fermenting like crazy!

They get your puns now! (but they're still not funny)


T: Hey, let's call this beer "Walter Wheat"
H: I don't get it
T: It's a wheat beer...
H: Oh, I think I get it now.
T: Wow,...
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: spouse, evolution, homebrewer's, humour

How to Get (and Keep) Great Head in Your Beer

Posted by homebrewdad on 12/02/2015 at 08:41:25 AM

Good head - the kind embodied by that fluffy layer of bubbles that rests on top of your beer, the kind that lasts as long as you still have beer in the glass, the kind that leaves sticky lacing (aka the residual bubbles that cling to the sides of your glass) behind - is a topic that you'll see brought up over and over again on any homebrewing forum. A good head on a beer is not only attractive, but functional, as the bubbles in the foam tend to trap the aromas of the beer, which can lead to increased perception of this aspect (which is a huge deal for hoppier beers). With all else being equal, most homebrewers would prefer a beer with a great head to one without.

Beer with a nice head

However, good head retention in particular can be elusive. After all, one can usually get at least a decent head to form with an aggressive pour, but all too often - judging by the aforementioned popularity of this topic - getting that head to stick around is another matter altogether.

Beer foam is comprised of the bubbles that are formed as CO2 leaves solution. These bubbles attach themselves to certain compounds on the beer, which form a skin around the bubble. Obviously, lower carbonation levels lead to fewer overall bubbles, which can clearly impact formation of foam in the first place. However, the answer isn't simply...
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: head, retention, beer, homebrew, foam, lacing, formation, bubbles

Homebrew Dad's 2015 Homebrewing Gift Guide

Posted by homebrewdad on 11/25/2015 at 09:52:58 AM

Last year, perhaps my most popular post (aside from the one describing the disaster of having my beer reviewed by a pro brewer) was my gift idea guide. With Black Friday just around the corner - and the Christmas shopping season in full swing - I figured that it was time to do an updated gift guide for 2015. As with last year, I'm not trying to be all things to all people; you won't see me hawking Blichmann kettles, for instance, due to the simple fact that I have never used one (nor do I know anyone who has). Instead, I'm limiting my suggestions to items that I have personal experience with.

Full disclosure: many of the links in this article include affiliate codes that benefit In no case will you pay anything aside from the normal prices, but will receive a commission. Obviously, I very much appreciate you using these links, but if you prefer to not do so, feel free to Google the products I mention.

1. For the Brand New Brewer

If you are considering helping a loved one get into homebrewing, don't be tempted by those Mr. Beer kits at the mall. Sure, they are cheap to pick up, and easy to use, but they are pretty restrictive and lack a lot of the features that will likely be sought after the first brew or two. Instead, get
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: gift, guide, brewing, brewer, homebrewing, homebrewer, Christmas, present

The Cost to Build a Homebrewery - End Game Brewing

Posted by zVulture on 11/24/2015 at 12:37:38 PM


In my previous posts I covered costs to starting a brewery then costs for Mash Tuns, Yeast Starter Equipment, and Kegging. In both I went for the least expensive recommended setup to give others an idea of how much it costs for this hobby. This time I am doing personal research for my own homebrewing setup in time for Black Friday. With my research I intend to move to a two pot and single mash tun setup that will allow me to do the most varieties of brewing processes. No Sparge, Batch Sparge, Fly Sparge, Cold Fly Sparge, Brew in a Bag, Decoction, and whatever else I can imagine.

Notes: The links here are un-affiliated and are there for pricing and ease of use. This is me planning for a build so costs and equipment might need adjustments. Due to the custom nature of this build, I don't see prices of items going on sale on black friday but doing this just in case there is. I am also quite open for suggestions if there are improvements!

It's Pot Time

I had an earlier post dedicated to just pots with my research. I initially decided on going with some custom hardware from Colorado Brew Systems as I can get a 20 gallon Boil pot with Tri-clamp fittings, whirlpool port and whirlpool elbow for $330 (without Valves or Thermometer). Note, they are currently moving facilities so ordering is on hold for pots....
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: equipment, pot, mash tun, sparge, DIY

Reviewing the Brewers' Ledger - Organize Your Brew Logs

Posted by homebrewdad on 11/20/2015 at 11:06:20 AM

A couple of weeks ago, my buddy Marshall (widely known as the great Brulosopher) put me in contact with a gentleman by the name of Tony Pawela. Tony was looking for someone to review his creation, the Brewers' Ledger, but Marshall just had too many irons in the fire to do so himself.

I'll admit that I thought about it for a bit before I volunteered to do the review. The fact of the matter is that I'm a huge fan of Beersmith, and I take pretty meticulous records in it already. Also, my handwriting is pretty poor - okay, my handwriting is downright atrocious - making written notes not exactly my thing. So, to be perfectly honest, I had my doubts as to how useful I would find such a product. That said, Beersmith is pretty clunky in terms of keeping your notes organized, so I figured that the Brewers' Ledger might be worth a look.

Full disclosure: as mentioned above, the Brewers' Ledger was provided to me at no cost, for the specific purpose of having me review it. Links in this page point to Amazon, where the book is self published; these links do include the BrewUnited affiliate code.

With that said, the following review is 100% true and accurate, and is in my own words. Tony Pawela did not suggest any portion of, edit, or even read my review prior to my public post.

The day that my copy...
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: brewers, ledger, brew, log, notes, book

The Cost to Build a Homebrewery - Upping the Game

Posted by zVulture on 11/12/2015 at 10:10:17 PM


In my last post I covered the costs for getting into the hobby so that new brewers had a better idea of what to expect. To further that and for current brewers alike, this post will be covering optional systems to expand your homebrewing control and/or convenience. The first will be a look into the Mash Tun which is one, but not the only, way of doing all grain brewing. The second being Yeast Starter equipment which will assist in both healthy fermentations and propagation. And the last being getting into Kegging which has made my life easier since the start. Each of these could have a post on their own detailing the processes, benefits and drawbacks but the purpose of this post is Cost. How much will it be to get into each of these? (TL;DR at bottom)

Note:All links are un-affiliated and are provided for proof of prices. The sources for prices used are examples for price points As with my last post, each section will be updated with feedback/tips from the homebrewing community.

Keeping it Hot in a Cooler

Mash Tun is a very simple device with a few items to help make things convenient. At it's core, it's just a container that is large enough to hold the total mash at a desired temperature using Insulation. There are other methods using direct or indirect heating to maintain temperature but those will not be covered here. There are three primary types of Mash

[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: Costs, hardware, equipment, kegerator, keezer, kegging, mash tun, stir plate, yeast starter

Announcing the Grand Prize Winner of the 2015 BrewUnited Challenge!

Posted by homebrewdad on 11/11/2015 at 12:29:33 PM

Yesterday, we (finally) managed to get the Best of Show judging done with the 2015 BrewUnited Challenge. Of course, this was about nine days after when we had scheduled for it to be done; I am sorry for the delay. By and large, I feel like things ran really smoothly in this competition, but the judge no shows at the Malty Division got us behind schedule. When you combine that with the aggressive calendar for BOS judging (silly me thought that we could easily judge BOS a week after the initial Division judging), I ended up having to scramble for BOS judges. Live and learn; next year, we'll plan a little more cushion into the schedule.

But that's neither here nor there, and I'm sure that nobody really cares about the whys of how things got off.

Yesterday, we had three BJCP judges meet and judge the Best of Show beers (let me give a quick shout out to Alabrew, who was awesome enough to let us judge there). They were super professional and thoughtful during the process, weighing each beer and making their own notes before any discussion was made. Then, they deliberated - and the discussion got a little lively.

Please let me be very clear - all three of the finalist beers were excellent. The judges really enjoyed them all, and had great things to say about them all. But in a round like this, every tiny possible flaw gets examined and tossed around, the...
[ read more... ]

Tags for this post: grand, prize, winner, BrewUnited, challenge, competition, brewing, beer

Jump to page: [First Page] [Prev] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 [Next] [Last Page]