home brew

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This is my second lager, a Schwarzbier, and it came out really well. Though if I were to do it again I might pull back the blackprinz just a bit and add a touch of pale chocolate malt. For fun I entered this into the Brew Hut Annual Homebrew Competition. This was well received and took 2nd place with a score of 43.

Possibly even more exciting is that the more experienced judge gave the beer and Outstanding rating of 45! He even left as the final feedback “Delicious & Drinkable! Each element blends harmoniously!”.  Big thanks to Brew Hut for hosting the competition.

Here is a link to recipe


11/5:  After trying to change my webpage theme I broke things and had to revert to an older version of the website.  In doing that I lost the original post about this beer and re-typed it best I could remember.

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Once I was able to get into my Rasberry Pi (RPi) I started to think about how I was going to use it.  I was pretty far along on my Ardunio controller and circuit schematics that I started to think that I would connect the serial cable to the Ardunio and build upon my existing design.

So I started to look at Craftbeerpi which seemed to have a pretty solid start on what I wanted. The more I looked it seemed to not have support to read from an Ardunio to the pre-made widgets.  So I started scheming ideas to make my own program.  For better or worse I was leaning towards a Python development.  My brief time using Python wasn’t too great and I hated the tabbing format for block commands (if statements, loops, etc).  However, after looking around it seems to be one of the more popular languages and something I should probably be more familiar with.  From what I could see Django was about my best option as it looked like I would be able to get something up and running quickly.  If I could follow instructions better I would have Django setup in about 20 mins, instead I spent a day fumbling with errors before I re-read the instructions.

With Django setup I started to wonder if I was making this too hard.  So tonight I re-visited my I/O needs from my Arduino controller vs what RPi offers.   Turns out RPi can fully support my needs and I don’t have to deal with interfacing with the Arduino a bit more.  With that simplifcation, Craftbeerpi is now back to being my quickest way to getting a Brewstand Controller working.  I think I’d still like to make my own program, but given that I tend not to have much free time (unless it is late at night) I seriously doubt that will ever happen once I get a controller working with Craftbeerpi.  So now I just need to tweak the circuits a bit to adjust for 3.3V outputs  and watching the currents.  


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I’m diving in to sour beers headfirst. Since I don’t have a clue how any method will turn out I figure I might as well try 4 methods on the first attempt. I mean why not? 

Upfront is the plan for the beers (30a, b, c, and d). Below that are various questions or bits of information I ran across when trying to figure out what I’m getting myself into.  Along the way I discovered Milk the Funk and the Mad Fermentationist that have turned out to be invaluable. 


Base Recipe

The base recipe is based on the Rare Barrel golden recipe. I’ve upped the OG  to 1.060 so the pre-boil will be 1.051 for the raw beers (30a and 30b), will mash at 148, and will add first wort hops to 3 IBUs.  After 5.5G taken for the raw beers, I’ll will add water to drop actual OG to 1.052 and add ~25 IBUs.   The water profile will be Brewers Friend’s Water Calculator Balanced Profile water.  

I plan to sit on these for about a year before thinking about any blending ideas.  Any thoughts of adding fruit to anything will be determined after sampling and more research (which I’ll have time to do). 

30a & 30b

This will be a raw beer with lacto.  Then 1/2 will be 30a which will be clean fermented and then Brett added . The other 1/2 will be Brett only.

Here are a few more plans for these beers

  • pasteurize in kettle:  155 @ 15 mins
  • transfer out 5.5G and cool to 90
  • pre-acidify drop to 4.5   (est 1mL 88% to drop 0.1 pH)
  • add lacto – goodbelly straightshot
    – Need starter: no need for starter
    – monitor for 2-3 days
  • Add hop tea (~22 IBUs) and wait 24 hours
  • Transfer 1/2 to 2.8G carboy and add Brett (30b)
    • Imperial Yeast W15 Suburban Brett
  • add sacc yeast (US-05) to 30a 
  • Xfer after high krausen to 2.8G carboy and add brett

beer 30c

The third beer will be ~5.5G and will be a Pedio/Brett fermentation 

  • Pedio:  Bootleg Biology Sour Weapon P BBX0089
  • Brett: Bootleg Biolofy Funk Weapon #3 BB0022
  • Create a Brett starter 1.5 weeks out
    • About 500ml starter per 25 liters of wort seems to be the current best practice.
    • Data from Thomas Hübbe supports that the initial pitching rate doesn’t have a great effect on the final cell count in pure Brettanomyces starters or beer, indicating that Brettanomyces is fairly forgiving in regards to small initial cell counts (MTF)
    • An alternative to the second approach is to use a stir plate on a very low setting so that only a very small “dimple” of a vortex is formed (with foil covering the top)
  • Transfer the chilled wort to 5G carboy
  • Expect 3/4″ rise from fermentation
    –need to worry about time on yeast cake?  No.

beer 30d

The fourth beer will be ~5.5G and will be primary fermented Sacc then Brett (I know this isn’t a sour, but should be fun anyhow) 

  • Transfer to 6.5g carboy
  • Add sacc
    — clean or belgain yeast? US-05
  • Just after high krausen tranfer to 5G to secondary
  • Add pedio and Brett

New gear

I’m a bit freaked out about all of these e\new bugs so here is a list of new gear that I think I’ll need.

  • Stoppers
  • Use old autosiphon
  • Bottle bucket And bottle filler
  • Wine thief

Use extra caution cleaning

  • pH meter
  • Hydrometer 
  • Cylindrical beer sampler (hydrometer testing) 
  • Glass carboys
  • Airlocks

Other random notes


Here are a few other random notes I captured while looking into this idea.  It isn’t cleaned up.




You can try:
a) PBW – to dissolve any particles. Clean before and after with soap and water and a dedicated sponge.
b) 1 gallon of water + 1 ounce bleach + 1 ounce of vinegar (added to the water, not the bleach directly). Let it sit 5 minutes then dump out and air dry. [this is the sanitize concentration, and may not kill all bacteria]
Follow up with 
c) Iodophor – 2 minute contact time, then air dry.

(You can use Hydrogen Peroxide or One Step in addition – it kills with Oxygen).

No need for new bottling equipment, use glass and just clean really good.


Raw Beer Notes

Raw beer watch out for DMS creation and pasturize before starting

DMS temp (Milk the Funk):
The primary source for DMS in beer (as well as cooked vegetables) is caused by the decomposition of SMM into DMS. This decomposition is caused by heat above ~80°C.(176°F)
Allow the beer to age longer, particularly if it contains Brettanomyces. Studies in lambic brewing have shown that DMS will volatilize over time if left in the fermenter.

DMS forming temp/time (Homebrew talk)
Conversion happens around 70C. Rapid conversion happens around 80C. I’ve seen information that says the conversion of SMM to DMSO occurs “above 60C.” Brewing: science and practice – Google Books

Anticipated issues to overcome, and how I resolved them (Experimental Brewing)
1) No-boil = DMS
Not necessarily. My understanding is that DMS is produced at 180 degrees, which explains why true no-boil berliner’s don’t have a DMS profile. As long as the mash and mashout stay below 180, it won’t be a problem.

2) No-boil = no sanitation
Again, not necessarily. Pasteurization occurs at 160 degrees in just a few seconds, so as long as the mashout is above 160, no problems.

If need more Beer 1a to blend in with  then this fastest beer to turn around

Raw beer watch out for DMS creation and pasturize before starting

Need new bottling equipment.   Glass just clean really good.


DMS temp (Milk the Funk):
The primary source for DMS in beer (as well as cooked vegetables) is caused by the decomposition of SMM into DMS. This decomposition is caused by heat above ~80°C.(176°F)
Allow the beer to age longer, particularly if it contains Brettanomyces. Studies in lambic brewing have shown that DMS will volatilize over time if left in the fermenter.

DMS forming temp/time (Homebrew talk)
Conversion happens around 70C. Rapid conversion happens around 80C. I’ve seen information that says the conversion of SMM to DMSO occurs “above 60C.” Brewing: science and practice – Google Books

Anticipated issues to overcome, and how I resolved them (Experimental Brewing)
1) No-boil = DMS
Not necessarily. My understanding is that DMS is produced at 180 degrees, which explains why true no-boil berliner’s don’t have a DMS profile. As long as the mash and mashout stay below 180, it won’t be a problem.

2) No-boil = no sanitation
Again, not necessarily. Pasteurization occurs at 160 degrees in just a few seconds, so as long as the mashout is above 160, no problems.  

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Beer Name: Kolm Knights – Dusk (first barrel), Twilight (second barrel), Dawn (no barrel)

Style:  Imperal Baltic Porter (Pohjala OO Clone)

Brew Day: 4/21/2104

Alcohol: 9.7% (not including barrel changes)

Color: 81

This beer was a struggle.  Chris from Pohjala Brewing set me up with an amazing recipe.  Since this beer was so big I figured I could get a partygyle off of the second running like I did with my Kate the Great Clone, the Empress.  The plan was for 11G batch, the mash in was packed full, and the boil started as planned.  About 15 mins left in the boil I did a measurement and discovered I had way too much wort.  I did some quick calculations and determined I needed to boil for another 2 hours on top of the planned 1 hour boil.  So 3+ hours later I called the boil complete and did all the normal cold crash, oxygen, and yeast pitch.  The fermentation kicked off like a machine and twice I had to clean the bottom of the fermentation chamber.  Well after about 7 days I measured the FG and it was 1.044 rather than a planned 1.026.  I gave it a few more shots of oxygen, roused the yeast up, left it for a few days… and no changes.  So I assumed that my yeast tuckered out.  Using the yeast from one of the partygyle beers, I did a starter to get things going and re-pitched.  I got a few small bubbles over the next too days, but no real changes.  I think what I saw was the starter fermenting out, but that made me think that the yeast wasn’t the issue.  I started tinkering with the recipe in beersmith to see if I could find any errors. Randomly I selected the muscovado sugar to be non-fermentable (like lactose) and what do you know it predicted the FG to be right where I was at.  So either something was off with the muscovado sugar, I added it to fast and caramelized it, or the 3+ hour boil caramelized it.  Either way this at least eased my mind about what was happening.  To correct for this I make a simple extract porter beer and blended it in at about a 10/4 ratio.  This got the FG down to 1.032 which seemed okay for this large of a beer and kept the ABV in the range that I was aiming for.  So instead of 10G I ended up with about 14G.  I’ve placed 5G in a whisky barrel that my brother had and let that sit for about 2 months.  The taste sample was amazing and I’ve now bottled 5G of the barrel beer (Dusk) and 5 G of the non-barrel beer (Dawn). The other 4G are now sitting in the barrel and will be Twilight whenever I bottle it.  All the bottles were bottled with cask ale yeast and priming sugar.  I haven’t yet cracked a beer yet as I’m waiting until Thanksgiving or so. Updates to come

I spent way too much time coming up with a beer name for this.  The beer name for the original recipe is OO which means night in Estonian.  In trying to be clever I wanted to do a play on words and call this Knight or tie this back to Estonia.  I researched Estonian knights and learned about several famous clans(?) including Order of the Cross which most everyone knows by the cross on the shield.  Since I knew I was ending up with 3 variants of this beer I was looking for a succession class or something that would work nice, but I struck out here. Instead I landed on Kolm which is Estonian for three. I like the way Kolm Knights looks, even if I am probably mispronouncing Kolm, and it translates to 3 Knights, very fitting.  Since OO means night, I’ve named each of the variants a phase of the night.  And there you have it clever beer name that nobody will probably ever get if I didn’t write this down.  I’ve worked the estonian knights onto the beer cap which depicts the Order of the Cross shield on it.  Yes, I spent too much time thinking about this.

PHOTO GALLERY TO COME (after I open the first beer)

My Brew Notes

Execution Notes

  1. Had to boil for 3+ hours.  Later discovered that this was the first beer where I had lids on the kettles when warming the water.  I used to loose about 1G and with 2 kettles I calculated needing 2G more.  With lids I don’t loose any water and have adjusted the spreadsheet for next time
  2. I’m weary of muscovado sugar since it didn’t ferment out.  It was probably me, but I’m still recovering PTSD over this beer
  3. Large beers need a blow off tube.  I had to clean off 2 huge messes. Drew helped me clean (ha)
  4. The blender beer saved this batch.  I think I got this idea from a Session podcast on the Brewing Network

Recipe Info

Recommendations for next time

  • Get the sugar to ferment and try the recipe exactly the same way!


Pohjala OO Info

  • ABV=10.5%
  • FG=1.104
  • OG = 1.026

Pohjala OO website

Pohjala Head Brewer Email

Hey Brian,

This is Chris, Head Brewer at Põhjala. Apologies for the late reply, it’s been a busy week here.

Awesome to hear you’d like to try brewing Öö, it started on the homebrew scale so it’s quite an honour to hear that 🙂

We use:

36% pale malt

39% munich malt (light)

9.75% carafa type 2 special

4.9% dark roasted crystal (Simpsons)

4.9% chocolate malt

4.9% cara 300

And about 10% of the fermentables will come from a dark muscavado sugar – currently we add that at T-60.

We use Viking malt from Finland for the majority of our malts, and they have a  very British style, so 2 row probably wouldn’t be the best substitute for the pale malt, I’d rather try Maris otter if you can get it.

Gravity starts at 24.5° and finishes at 6.5°, and we bitter to approx 65-70 IBU using magnum, with a finishing dose of Northern Brewer at T-00.

In terms of yeast, we ferment this one at cool temps of around 16°c with WLP090, San Diego Super yeast, which we use as our house strain. A cool fermentation helps as you really can’t feel the alcohol.

Water profile helps a lot as well, but that would be harder to give some tips on for me.

Otherwise, that’s about it – hope it helps, and good brewing!



Chris Pilkington

Head Brewer


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Beer Name: Change Kolsch

Style:  Kosch

Brew Day: 10/10/2015

Alcohol: 5.5%

Color: 4

My idea of a Kolsch.

My Brew Notes

Execution Notes

Second time doing this, but instead of 5G this is scaled up to 15G  (10G for me, 5G for my brother Mark).  My 10G came out crystal clear and tasting great.  Mark’s 5G was cloudy and had a weird flavor.  This difference was odd since the mash and boil was all 5G, they pitched equal amounts of yeast, fermented at the same temp in the fermentation chamber, cold crashed and gelatin at the same time.  The only difference is that Mark’s was kegged about 1 week before mine,  but still had 3 weeks from the brew day. Weird.  Oh well.  This is a pretty good recipe and will likely do it again.

Recipe Info

Recommendations for next time

  • No real notes to recall.
  • First time kegging!


This is just a scaled up version of #9 Change Kolsch

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I felt as if my hops weren’t getting saturated enough in bags. When I tried the no bag approach I either had stuck filters or a lot of hop matter in the fermenter. So after a bit of research, I made a hop spider primarily based on the thread at homebrewtalk.com.

It was about the easiest DIY brew project to do and cheap too. Its been great handling the trub and I no longer have to worry about cleaning out several muslin sacks. I highly recommend this approach if you are having similar issues.

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Beer Name: Persuasion Saison

Style:  Single Hop Saison (Funkwerks Nelson Sauvin Clone)

Brew Day: 8/6/2016

Alcohol: 8.2%

Color: 4

Super good beer.  Kind of a mix of a sauvin blanc and a saison beer.

My Brew Notes

Execution Notes

I had a lot of fun making this and filling in the blanks.  I ended up using a repitch of Belgian Saison and a starter of French Saison for my yeast.  I ended up overshooting my mash efficiency and ended up with 15G rather than my planned 13.2G (calculated batch size for one can of Muscat grape juice)  to keep the OG about where I guessed Funkwerks might start with (~1.063 w 90% attenuation).  I think my lack of quick cooling and less hops per gallon of wort contributed to my beer not being as aromatic (still plenty good and something to aim for next time).  To add to things mine attenuated better than I planned (1.004) and end up being an 8.2% beer.  Finally, since this was a Saison with a good amount of wheat it didn’t occur to me that Funkwerks was filtered in some way until we did a side-by-side comparison.   So in the end Funkwerks looks better, smells better, and taste a bit more crisp than mine, but boy are both still good.

Recipe Info

Recommendations for next time

  • Add hops a bit later to help shine
  • Cold crash and add gelatin



Funkwerks Nelson Sauvin Info

  • ABV=7.5%
  • FG=1.006 (estimated)
  • OG = 1.063 (estimated)

Funkwerks Head Brewer Email

Here are some quick tips for cloning Nelson Sauvin. We use very light Pilsner malt, Best Malz Heidelberg or Briess Pils. 20% is light Wheat malt and 12% of fermentables is Muscat grape added at flameout. 0.5oz/5gal Nelson at 10 minutes, 1oz/5gal Nelson at flameout. There is no bittering addition. Ferment with favorite Saison strain.

Let me know how it turns out.

Gordon Schuck


  • For the yeast nerds out there, the Funkwerks house yeast strain comes from Wyeast’s 3711 French Saison varietal*.

Funkwerks Brewery | Nelson Sauvin Saison

Brew Day

  • Mash at 148 to help with attenuation
  • Muscat Grape Sugar Calculation
    • 68 brix /(1 g of water = 8.33lbs) = 8.16 brix per lb

Fermentation Schedule

  • Likely Funkwerks profile is familiar to tropic king: pitch at 65, ramp up to 75 over 48 hours.
  • Maltos Faclons recommendation:
    • Place the wort in a temperature controlled environment at 65F (18.3C) for 3 days before letting ramp (or if you’re like me and don’t have enough space for temp controlling everything – I’ll place the fermenter in an iced water bath and let the heat of the day and the ferment melt the ice and raise the temperature to mid 80’s and 90’s (29-35C). It’s perfectly safe to drive a Saison yeast this hard if you’ve started cooler.
    • https://www.maltosefalcons.com/tech/guide-saisons-and-saison-yeasts
  • Only place foil over top (i.e. no airlock) per link below to help attenuation

Under Pressure – Pt. 4: Airlock vs. Foil With Saison Dupont Yeast | exBEERiment Results!



  • Serve at 50°F (10°C) in a tulip glass.”

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Here is a photo of my nearly complete brewstand.  To finish I still need to clean up the electrical wiring (and to think I’m licensed in something like this),  build my circuit board, build the HERMs pot, program an Ardunio and paired Android app.  Besides that I can do large batches 15+ gallons of infusion mashing  brewing.  More photos at the end.


First Edition

When we lived in CA I  was able to get some brewing equipment off of Craigslist that would let me do at least 15G batchs.  The problem with that is that I didn’t think it to be a good idea to lift 10+ gallons of boiling water above my head to pour into the mash tun.

Since I had everything in the garage which was incredibly over packed the initial stand had to be very compact.  I knew the pump wasn’t self priming and came up with an idea to solve that…suction start.  I tried a few concepts before I figured out how to make things work the way I intended it too.  Here is a photo of that stand for batch #12.

Second Edition

With a pump in hand I started day dreaming of a better brewing setup.   I spun up some ideas for a single pump HERMS system and created some basic Visio drawings to help make sense of it.     I posted my ideas on homebrewtalk, but didn’t catch the attention of anyone.  By this time we had moved to CO and I continued to press on with my idea.  In a panic to make my back-to-back brew days while Lisa and the kids were out of town I slapped together my concept.  Needless to say the brews day didn’t go well.  Switches didn’t work, power supply died, liquid wouldn’t transfer through the tubing, and all sorts of other things.

Third Edition

I learned a lot on the failed brew session and went back to the drawing boards.  With more space to work in CO I dreamed up a real brewstand.  A 2 tier, all wood,  and pretty simple to assemble brewstand.  I use some grid paper to get my the concept put together and then used Google SketchUp to complete the design.  One theory for my failed liquid transfers was too much back pressure and suction on the tubing.  So I simplified the tubing and added in a gant before the pump.  I got one brew day on this setup for batch #16.  The day went well, but I figured out a few more tweaks to make.  I then had a 3 day brewing marathon to make 40G in 4 beers.  The brew day was success and I’m quite pleased with my brewstand.

Next update for the brew stand I hope to have the HERMs system up and running with a decent looking control panel and Android app.


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Beer Name: The Student

Style:  Pliny the Elder Clone (Double IPA)

Brew Day: 12/24/2014

Alcohol: 8.28%

Color: 5

I am super happy with how this beer came out as it is one of the best beers I’ve made, but it isn’t exactly like Pliny the Elder. I had some process issues that probably altered the beer a bit, but I the recipe wasn’t quite right either. It turns out that a copy of the RRB brew house recipe was posted after I made my beer and did the taste comparisons. Here are my thoughts from my comparison before reading the real recipe.
Color – mine was a bit darker
Taste – level of bitterness and maltiness seemed about right. Mine seemed a bit too citrus, I think maybe too much Amarillo.
Aroma – my certainly didn’t have that dank smell. Not enough Simcoe (either in amounts or utilization)

My Brew Notes

Execution Notes

I’ve always used RO water as I didn’t know what was in my home water for a long time.  When I finally figured out my water I learned that it comes from two sources which are pretty much on the opposite side of the spectrum and there is no way to know what is coming out when.  So I’ve continued to use RO water which is cheap at the filling station next to the grocery store (30 cents per gallon).  This was the first time I tried doing water adjustments from the RO water.  I bought some things last minute, but didn’t have anything to make Chloride adjustments.  I’ll work to get better at this, but was focused on doing too little rather than too much.

Had similar issue with the mashing again where I started hotter than planned and then dropped about 8 degrees over the coarse of the mash.  My numbers came out okay, so nothing to worry about on this batch but certainly something to work on.

I tried using a little pump from ebay to do a whirlpool (not a real whirlpool, but enough to keep the wort moving over the coils when chilling), but clearly wasn’t ready as I fussed with that for about 20-30 mins before giving up and just using a spoon to stir.

Other minor notes.  My measurements don’t seem to be too accurate as I gained wort from the post boil measurement to the fermenter.  Need to get better at that.  I allowed for 30 mins for the trub to settle and then used my filters for the post boil transfer which resulted in a very low sediment in the fermenter. I collected the yeast into a clean spagetti jar as practice for yeast washing.  The yeast came out really clean and if I do things right (sterile jar and water) it seems I can start re-using yeast in the future.

Recipe Info

  • My Recipe: Brewtoad
  • Recipe Source: see my research post
  • Schedule Link: #11


Recommendations for next time

  • Mine ended up not being as piney as PTE.
  • Work on limiting oxygen during transfers to make the beer last longer
  • convert this recipe

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This post is long overdue, but here is a quick recap of my AC replacement.

About a year ago the window AC unit in the fermentation chamber went out when I was making batch +8.  I’m pretty sure this is the reason that batch ended in bottle bombs.  I wasn’t too disappointed in the AC failing because I felt that it was working more than it should.  It appeared to let a lot of cool air out of the unit itself causing it to kick on more than I thought it should.  So I decided I’d reuse the guts of a small cube fridge.  In hindsight, I wish I had used a bit larger of a cooler as it appears that I can only hold a 35 degree temperature difference.  This is sufficient for fermenting, but not good enough to get a good cold crash when the garage is in the 80s.

Taking apart the mini-fridge was pretty easy once I bought a pair of sheet metal scissors.  From there it was pretty easy to mount the cooling tray and add the insulation.  I certainly didn’t sand and paint as good as I did in the original build, but it works.  Finally, I added a pc fan to continually blow across the cooling tray; without it I noticed that it would ice up when trying to cool.  I’m seeing a bit more condensation that I expected and have a towel to catch things.  I’m trying to limit the amount of times I open and close the fridge for now, but this is something I’ll have to keep an eye on.  All in all, it works and I’m back to brewing!


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