Friday, September 24, 2010

Homebrew Notes: Discussion with Experts

I had the opportunity to have my beer sampled and critiqued by some very experienced beer judges/home brewers (Harold Gulbransen, Paul Sangster, Dion Hallenbeck among others) from my homebrew club QUAFF. I also listened and tasted along as they critiqued other's beers which helped me just as much. I'll write the notes for my beers in each of those posts, below are just some great reminders and tips:
  • Do not sparge with water above 175 max. Efficiency should not be the most important thing to a homebrewer, buying extra grain is better than having astringcy in your beer
  • Carafa specialty malts were designed to add color and really should not be used for flavor, meaning 1 -2 oz max in a 5 gal batch
  • Make sure you filter chlorine from your brewing water
    • If using a charcoal filter you should flow around 1-3 gal/min
    • If using campden tablets then they need long contact time, often overnight
  • For thermal stability during mashing in an igloo cooler, use a higher water - grain ratio. Anywhere from 1.4 - 1.7 qts/lb will help. There are calculators online to figure out how much you can fit.
  • For competition beers it is helpful to shoot for the higher gravity range or slightly above the gravity range. You want your beer to standout when being compared to others. (more malt -> more flavor)
  • Be careful using a large quantity of hops in a beer or you may get a vegetal taste. This can happen if you are trying to bitter with a low AA hop. Don't go much higher than 6 oz of hops for a 5 gal batch.
Of course, there are exceptions to the above tips and all these can be debated. But I think these are all good points that I don't often think about.


  1. So with the sparge water you think anything under is fine? Interesting, personally I just lazy and sparge at around 160. Glad to hear that it is better than having a high temp >175

  2. Anything under 175 will prevent leaching tannins, but as you decrease in temperature so will your efficiency. It is a trade-off and for that reason I try to shoot for 170 when sparging. With my system, I consistently hit 77% and haven't had a problem with astringency.


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