Category Archives: Recipes

Tropical Pale Ale

The Story

Tropical FruitOliver Enns is a lucky boy. He lives in the basement of our ‘brewery’. Given his prized position in the dungeon, he occasionally gets to offer his input into beers. For this beverage, his input was a “fruit salad beer”, with pineapple, grapefruit, orange, and lime. Such a  beer would be perfect for summer if it could be pulled off. Or it could be a fantastic fruity disaster.

So it was up to AJ and Robert to figure out a beer that would adequately compliment the fruit. It was settled it should be a wheat beer, with a neutral yeast to let the fruit flavour come through. Also, there should be some honey malt to add sweetness (as all the fruit we added was fairly acidic). Finally, we wanted a American Pale Ale hoppy citrus taste of Centennial. In all fairness, this beer is a total shot in the dark, because as far as we could tell, this many types of fruit in a beer is unprecedented (our research is remarkably un-thorough). Maybe it will just be an alcoholic Booster Juice. That’s cool too.

The Tasting

Appearance: Golden and slightly cloudy. Very strong and long lasting head despite all the acidic fruit in the beer.
Aroma: Faint pineapple aroma, with a strong, acidic citrus smell as well.
Taste: Quite bitter up front (it is 40 IBUs with really no ‘malt backbone’), but the flavours of pineapple come through right after. Very tart. The bitterness lingers throughout. No specific citrus fruit can be identified; it’s just tart and lemony. Maybe a little bit soapy tasting, but that might be because I associate citrus with lemony fresh soap and laundry detergent. Fairly refreshing beer though.
Overall: This is a rather strange beer. The pineapple isn’t really that noticeable (though it is definitely there). The citrus is strong, but because there are so many different citrus fruit flavours (lime, grapefruit, orange), nothing is really remarkable. It is refreshing, but it is kind of a muddled mess of fruit. We probably should have predicted that, since we added 4 different fruits.

Tropical Pale Ale

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 67% extraction efficiency, ABV 4.7%, O.G. 1.048, IBU 40, single infusion mash: 45 minutes at 68 Celsius.

Grain Bill
We wanted a fairly typical wheat beer grain bill, with mainly pale malt and wheat malt. However, we added a couple extra grains to make the beer a little more interesting. Not that we needed to do that.

Oliver Doing His Thing(Oliver’s functionality in the brewhouse is sometimes quite limited)

Gambrinus Pale Malt: 5 lb
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 5 lb
Rye Malt: 1 lb (We thought the spicy qualities of rye malt would nicely compliment the citrus fruit)
Flake Oats: 8 oz
(Oats add a silky smooth mouth feel to the beer. We wanted that. But to be honest, we just wanted to have 4 different grains in the beer: barley, wheat, rye, and oats. We have 4 different fruit, why not four different grains)
Gambrinus Honey Malt: 8 oz (We wanted to add some sweetness because we were concerned that most of the sweetness of the fruit would ferment out, leaving just the acidic qualities of the fruit)

Pineapple and citrus peelsHop and Fruit Schedule

We selected Centennial hops because of their citrus aroma and flavour which we hoped will blend well with the grapefruit, lime and orange. As to why we selected these fruit to add to the beer? Well, that’s what Oliver wanted. Who are we to argue?

60 Minutes: 1 oz Centennial (We wanted the beer to be fairly bitter, as this is supposed to be a summer thirst quencher)
10 Minutes: 0.75 oz Centennial and 1 pineapple cut into 1/2 cubes (This hop addition to to add the grapefruit flavour. We hoped boiling the pineapple for 10 minutes would get some of the flavour out of the pineapple)
5 Minutes: Peel of 2 Oranges, 2 Limes and 1 Grapefruit (This is how long we normally boil orange peel for witbiers, so we figured this would be a good amount of time)

Pineapple, citrus and hops(All the left over hops, pineapple, lime peel, orange peel, and grapefruit peel)

Pineapple Floating in Beer

We just used rinsed Nottingham yeast. Nottingham yeast ferments very clean, and allows hops and fruit to come through clearly without any esters.
Primary Fermentation: 7 days at 18 Celsius
Added 1 pureed pineapple when racking beer to the secondary.
Secondary Fermentation: 14 days at 18 Celsius
Added 1 pound of unpasteurized honey for carbonation


(Blood) Orange Hefeweizen

The Story

OrangesFor Christmas, AJ’s cousin bought him the book Extreme Brewing, by Sam Calagione, the owner of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. It provided interesting information about using spices, fruit, and other unconventional ingredients in beer, but most of the book is targeted towards to extract brewers, so we didn’t pay much attention to the recipes. However, when summer rolled around, two recipes stuck out to us that we simply had to brew: Blood Orange Hefeweizen and Kiwit.

Our recipes are not carbon copies of what is in the book. We needed to changed the recipe to account for our all-grain brewing. Also, we did not have hop varieties required by the recipe, so we used varieties we had in our freezer. Finally, we increased the amount of fruit and lowered the alcohol level to allow fruit flavours to come through more. Our local organic grocery did not have blood oranges, so we used naval oranges. (Though AJ did cut himself grating the peel of the naval oranges).


The Tasting

Orange HefeweizenAppearance: Cloudy and light, as a hefeweizen should be.
Aroma: A noticeable citrusy smell. Plus a little bit of spicy aroma from the Saaz hops, but very minor.
Taste: A slight orange taste, that is tart and refreshing. There is no real aftertaste, adding to its refreshing quality. There is only a slight hop bitterness. The body is rich and sticky, similar to most other wheat beers.
Overall: This beer turned out very well. The orange comes through quite nicely, but doesn’t dominate the beer. It is light and refreshing, and perfect for summer. If we remade the beer, we would not change anything. It is most certainly the best hefeweizen we’ve ever made. In fact, it’s one of the best beers we’ve made. Perhaps this beer will be made again over the summer, because it is bound to run out fast.

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 71% extraction efficiency, ABV 4.7%, O.G. 1.048, IBU 14, single infusion mash: 90 minutes at 69 Celsius.

Grain Bill

Original Grain Bill

Our Grain Bill

Light liquid wheat extract (55% wheat malt and 45% barley malt): 6.6 lb
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 6 lb
Gambrinus Pale Malt: 5 lb

Our grain bill is 54.5% wheat malt, and 45.5% barley malt. Very similar to the contents of the extract in the original recipe.

Hop and Fruit Schedule

Original Boil Schedule

Our Boil Schedule

60 minutes: 0.5 oz Hallertau hop pellets
20 minutes: 0.5 oz Saaz hop pellets
10 minutes: 0.5 oz Hallertau hop pellets
60 minutes: 0.25 oz Ultra whole leaf
20 minutes: 0.5 oz Saaz whole leaf
10 minutes: 0.5 oz Ultra whole leaf

Fairly similar, aside from using Ultra instead of Hallertau (we also used less because our Ultra is 9% while Tettnanger is normally around 4%).

We used 6 navel oranges (the recipe called for 4 blood oranges) in the beer. All the oranges were peeled and cut in chunks, then added to a pot. Then the peels from half the oranges were grated/zested and added to the pot as well. We then added 2 litres of water and heated it up 72 Celsius and then turned off the heat and let it cool down. Once it was cool, we added contents of the pot (orange flesh, orange peel and the orangey water) directly to the primary fermenter.

Steeping Oranges

(The oranges and orange peels in the pot)

The recipe offers 4 suggestions for yeast: WL300, WL380, Wyeast 3068, or Wyeast 3638. We used WL380 because we already had it in the brewery.

For length of fermentation, the recipe says about 10 days in the primary fermenter then bottle it. As any good homebrewers, we were busy and got sidetracked, and forgot to bottle it at 10 days.

Primary Fermentation: 20 days at 18 Celsius

Rozay Raspberry Hefeweizen

The Story

RozayRaspberry wheat beers are a fantastic summer beer: fruity, sweet, refreshing, pink. AJ, being a man nervous about close associations with traditionally feminine colours, was not comfortable making a pink beer. But there had been endless requests from friends to make a raspberry beer.

To overcome his fear of emasculation, AJ looked for inspiration from Rick Ro$$.  Normally, AJ only looks to Mr. Ro$$ when it comes to driving Maybachs and dramatizing life, but this was an exception. Look at that picture of Rick Ross. It just oozes masculinity: oversize man-glasses, an oversized man-timepeice, oversized man-fingers, face cloaked in man-beard. Yet Rick is a man of balance. Too much man is never good for a photoshoot. So there he is, holding a bottle of rosé, perhaps not the most manly of wines. The feminine bottle in the delicate yin to Ross’s huge yang. If Rick Ross can proudly drink rosé and go by “Rozay”, AJ could certainly make a pink beer.

Most raspberry beers use a very neutral ale yeast, to let the flavour of the raspberries dominate. While that does make a very refreshing beer, it is also somewhat simple. So we wanted to use a hefeweizen yeast. This will add some banana and spicy flavours to the beer, and make it a little more complex.

We assume the final product should be consumed while listening to this.
However, if your favorite rap song is “Changes” by Tupac, then listen to this instead.


Just Ross looking boss.

The Tasting

Raspbeer HefeAppearance: Dark pink (some might say red). Strong head, fairly cloudy, and strong signs of carbonation
Aroma: A tart, raspberry aroma. There is also a slight hint of hay. Don’t know where that came from, but it’s there.
Taste: It strikes right away with a tart raspberry flavour. Most of the sweetness of the fruit fermented away. Then comes an almost smokey taste. It’s difficult to describe. Somewhat like the smell of walking past wooden crates full of fruit (if you have ever had such an experience).  There is also a very complex taste of spices from the hefeweizen yeast. Most notable is the clove taste, but it is also peppery, with a lemon taste as well. The high alcohol content (7%) is well hidden. The body is very heavy.
Overall: This is not your typical sweet raspberry wheat beer that manages to convince a subset of the population they like beer. This beer is heavy, tart, complex and spicy. This is most certainly not how we expected the beer to turn out, but we like it. It is not a thirst quenching beer, but it would be the perfect beer to enjoy on a summer evening while enjoying the orange and red colours of the sky (and listening to Rick Ross).

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, unknown extraction efficiency, ABV 7%, O.G. 1.058, IBU 11, single infusion mash with 120 minutes at 65 Celsius.

Grain Bill
The grain is very simple. But it also huge: 30 pounds. This is because we did a parti-gyle brew with a wheat wine. The mash was also very long (120 minutes) at a low temperature (65C) mainly to help the yeast ferment the wheat wine.

Gambrinus Pale Malt: 15 lb
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 15 lb

Full Mash Tun

(AJ stirring mash with 30 pounds of grain in it)

Hop Schedule
Fairly simple hop schedule, designed to let the raspberries come through, but provide a little bit of citrus bitterness as well.

60 minutes: 0.25 oz Columbus (Columbus is a bittering hop that keeps it citrus flavour when boiled for 60 minutes. And we wanted that citrus flavour)
5 minutes: 0.25 oz Columbus (We  just wanted a little extra citrus flavour/aroma, so we did a very small 5 minute addition as well)

Washed WL380 yeast. Third generation.
Primary Fermentation: 5 days at 20C
5 pounds of raspberries added to secondary during racking. From what we read, about a pound of fruit per gallon of beer was recommended. The fruit was frozen when it was added to the secondary.
Secondary Fermentation: 20 days

Left image: 2 days of raspberries in the secondary. Right image: 20 days of raspberries in the secondary.
Notice the change in colour of the berries and beer between the two pictures.

Raspbeer at 2 daysRaspbeer at 20 days

Honey Hefeweizen

The Story

Caribou Honey Lager

Bowen Island Honey

Granville Island Honey Lager

British Columbia is notorious for honey beers. Just check the list of beers brewed in BC. Nearly every brewery attempting to market to the lager drinking crowd has a honey beer. One theory is that honey makes beer sound more sweet, thus more easy drinking. For those who are weary of the bitterness of beer, honey sounds quite appealing. However, since honey is very fermentable, when it is added to beer most of the sweet honey flavour turns into alcohol. So the sweetness people expect from a honey beer generally comes from the malt, not the honey.

Seeing as it is summer, and we have a lot of Gambrinus Honey Malt lying around the brewery (and we want to fit in with other BC breweries), we made a honey hefeweizen. Most of the honey sweetness comes from the Gambrinus Honey Malt. We added 1 pound of Raspberry Blossom Honey after the beer had fermented, and then 1 pound of plain unpasteurized honey to carbonate. Most of the sugar from the honey turns into alcohol, drying out the beer; however, some of that honey flavour and aroma sticks around. Combined with the banana, clove, and sweet flavour from the hefeweizen yeast, this beer could end up being like alcoholic banana cream pie.

The Tasting

Honey HefeweizenAppearance: Slightly darker than a normal hefeweizen, but still very refreshing looking. Very foamy, strong head, with tonnes of lacing.
Aroma: Very floral honey aroma, with a hint of hops.
Taste: Immediate honey and banana flavour, with the bubble gum coming in later. There is malty sweet flavour as well coming from the honey malt and biscuit malt. After swallowing, it becomes very dry and slightly bitter. This is likely from the large amounts of honey (2 pounds) put into the beer. There is a slight grainy taste as well. Very carbonated, making almost soda-like, yet the body is very heavy.
Overall: It is a casual summer beer. Hefeweizens generally seem to be a beer that has a wide appeal, and this beer is no different. It is obviously very sweet because of the honey malt, but it also has a heavier feel because the honey malt and biscuit malt. Thus it is not as refreshing as other hefeweizens, but it is very flavourful. The White Lab 380 does produce a lot of bubble gum, which AJ has become less a fan of. It’s a fine beer, but adding Gambrinus Honey Malt makes a beer less refreshing because it makes the beer heavier and sweeter. Sweet and heavy are two adjectives not normally used to describe refreshing beers. Perhaps less honey malt. Also we should have mashed at a lower temperature

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 66% extraction efficiency, ABV 5.0%, O.G. 1.050, IBU 16, single infusion mash: 60 minutes at 68 Celsius.

Grain Bill
This is a fairly typical hefeweizen with wheat malt and pale malt making up a majority of grain bill. However, we added nearly a pound of Gambrinus Honey Malt to really bring out the toasty honey flavour.

Gambrinus Pale Malt: 5 lb
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 5 lb
Gambrinus Honey Malt: 14 oz (8 oz of honey malt provides a slight honey flavour, while anything over a pound of honey malt can become cloyingly sweet. We wanted a noticeable honey flavour, without being cloying, so we settled on 14 oz)
Belgian Biscuit: 4 oz (We tried this in our Honey Nut Brown Ale, and it adds a great toasty, bready flavour that really brings out the flavour of the honey malt. So we added a little bit to our honey hefeweizen as well)

Honey in Honey Malt

(Honey surrounded by Gambrinus Honey Malt)

Hop Schedule

We only did first wort hopping, in order create a smoother bitterness that will hopefully bring out the honey flavour.

First Wort Hops: 1 oz Ultra (We have plenty of ultra remaining from our last order from Hops Direct. It is a noble type hop that works well in wheat beers and lagers. Very clean bitterness, with a slight floral aroma.)

Rinsed White Labs 380 yeast from the Cascade Falls Hefeweizen.
Primary Fermentation: 14 days at 21 Celsius

Adding Honey

(Adding honey to the secondary fermenter. Before the honey is added, this beer is about 4.5%)

Added 1 pound of Raspberry Blossom Honey when racking beer to the secondary.
Secondary Fermentation: 14 days at 18 Celsius
Added 1 pound of unpasteurized honey for carbonation

Fermenting Honey Hefeweizen

(The beer starting to ferment again. After all the honey fermented in the beer, the alcohol increased to 5%)

French Farmhand Witbier

BC farm sceneThe Story

We are in a saison making mood, mainly because we have saison yeast sitting in jars, waiting to be used. However, we were also in the mood for a witbier, with all its lovely orange zesty flavours. So we combined the two. All the ingredients are similar to a witbier: lots of flaked wheat, orange peel, coriander, and very few hops. But we fermented the beer with a French saison yeast, which should add peppery and citrusy flavours. We are hoping for a citrusy, tart beer and hints of pepper and oak from the yeast. This will be a nice beer to have in the fridge as we get closer to summer. It likely won’t last that long, because AJ is a witbier drinking fiend.

The Tasting

Appearance: A light, hazy beer, with a very strong head. AJ is colour blind, so he claims it has an orange hue. He is clearly has no idea what he is talking about.
Aroma: A punget aroma full of wheat, spice and citrus. It is amazing how much the saison yeast and coriander bring out the orange aroma. A slightly tart and yeasty smell as well.
Taste: Starts off tart, but the orange flavour comes in right after. Hints of lemon and oak as well. There are a lot of flavours, but they all work together very well. Thick body from the wheat, but is still very refreshing.
Overall: This is a fantastic beer, assuming you like witbiers. It has a very traditional witbier flavour, like Hoegaarden, but with a twist. When you really think about the flavour, you notice the lemon, oak and pepper. But they blend in so well with the rest of the flavours you might not even notice them. We don’t often recommend people brew the recipes we create, but this is an exception. If you like witbiers, but want to try something a little different, make this recipe. Or, if you live close to us (or know us personally), ask to try some. We will most certainly be brewing more batches of this.

French Witbier

Also, AJ is proud that this beer was the first beer his near-brother Braydon ever consumed. A ringing endorsement for sure. It was also popular with those at the stag of AJ’s other near-brother Greg; however, this was most certainly not their first beer.

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 64% extraction efficiency, ABV 5.5%, O.G. 1.045, IBU 14, step mash: 20 minutes at 56 Celsius; 50 minutes at 67 Celsius.

Grain Bill
We just made a fairly simple grain bill. A typical grain bill for a witbier is 50% Pilsen malt, 50% flaked wheat. We tried to follow that model, but made some changes.

Gambrinus Pale Malt: 5 lb (Pilsen malt is generally preferred, but we did not have any)
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 4 lb (We did not have enough flaked wheat, so we replaced it with wheat malt. Plus this looks like more of a middle ground between a witbier recipe and saison recipe? We convinced ourselves of that.)
Flaked Wheat: 3 lb (This cleared out our supply of flaked wheat. Now we need to head off to Dan’s Homebrew store to buy some more)

Mash Schedule
Normally, we just do a single infusion mash, meaning we keep the temperature of the grain in the mash tun at one temperature (normally for 60 minutes). This is simple, and it works well with today’s malts, which are well modified and don’t need things like protein rests, beta gluten rests, alpha gluten rests (We admit, we don’t really know what those are, but we have read a lot about them in Brewing Better Beer and How to Brew.)

However, something we’ve always noticed is a huge decrease in our efficiency when making wheat beers. Normally we have an extract efficiency around 85% (meaning we get 85% of the sugar out of the grain), but with wheat beers we normally drop to around 65%. We’ve tried crushing the wheat twice; mashing for a really long time; higher temperatures; lower temperatures. For this batch, we tried using a step mash, hoping this would increase our efficiency.

20 minutes at 56C (This is a protein rest, and it is supposed to help break down unmalted grain, like flaked wheat)
50 minutes at 67C
(This is just our regular temperature for a single infusion mash, converting the starch to sugar)

For the record, reaching different temperatures in a mash tun that is not directly heat (aka it isn’t on a burner, thus we cannot just turn up the temperature) is a huge pain. We had to start off with a very thick mash, and then add more water later to increase the temperature.

Mash at 56Mash at 67
(Left: A very thick mash in the mash tun before adding water. Right: A thinner mash after adding water)

Sadly, none of this increased our efficiency, as our extract efficiency was 64%. Maybe it will improve flavour? Let’s hope it was not all for naught. We should probably do some (poorly conducted) experiment to see if there is any noticeable difference in taste between a witbier with a single infusion mash, and a witbier with a multi-step mash.

Hop Schedule
Saaz hops are the classic witbier hop, but we had Ultra hops (similar to Saaz) with higher AA%.

60 minutes: 0.5 oz Ultra (Just a little bit of hops to balance out the sweetness of the malt. We added no flavour or aroma hops, this will allow flavour of the spices and yeast to dominate the beer)
5 minutes: 1 oz Bitter Orange Peel, 1 oz Coriander Seeds Cracked (We just threw the spices in (instead of putting them in a hop bag). So they sat in the beer as it was cooling for 20 minutes. This might result in a very strong spice flavour)

1 litre starter from harvested Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast. This is the third use (third generation) of this yeast.
Primary Fermentation: 14 days at 20C

French Wit Yeast Starter(The 1 litre yeast starter)

Ginger Spiced Saaz Saison

The Story

gingerThis is another beer in our line of saison experiments. For this beer, we wanted to experiment with spices and hops. In terms of spice, we added ginger and black pepper. In terms of hops, we added 3 oz of Saaz hops (compared to just 1 oz of Saaz hop in our previous saison). Saaz has a delicate spicy and floral aroma, which we hope will be nicely complimented by the saison yeast, ginger and black pepper.

We feel that spices are best used when they compliment other flavours. The idea is not have a clear pepper taste in our beer; in fact, the idea of tasting black pepper in your beer is somewhat repulsive. We want the pepper to bring out the flavour of the ginger, and bring out the flavour of the spicy Saaz hops.

The Tasting

Appearance: Strong, smooth head, dominated by small bubbles. A deep amber colour, with lots of carbonation. Fairly clear.
Aroma: A strong peppery aroma, from the large amounts of Saaz hops and enhanced with the pepper. There are also hints of lemon and ginger.
Taste: A sweet, floral and spicy start with a little bit of banana. The flavour of candied ginger comes in later, and lingering in the mouth. There is quite a bitter bite to the beer despite all the sweetness. There is quite a heavy body to the beer as well. The carbonation makes all the flavours more prominent. This beer is very ‘tangy’.
Overall: This beer is somewhat of an oddity. It is sweet, yet has a bitter edge. The taste of ginger lingers in the background, yet the spiciness of the Saaz hops and pepper and in the foreground. The spice really dances on your tounge, from the ginger, pepper and Saaz hops all acting in unison. Perhaps the beer had too many late addition Saaz hops that dominated the rest of the beer. The inclusion of the malt Special B, which is supposed to add flavours of plums, it pretty much unnoticeable, aside from making the beer a deep amber colour. Nevertheless, the beer is surprisingly easy drinking despite all its complexities. Perhaps this is best as a dessert beer.


The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 76% extraction efficiency, ABV 6.7%, O.G. 1.057, IBU 34, single infusion mash at 68 Celsius for 60 minutes

Grain Bill
The idea was originally to let the hops shine in through in this beer, with a clean bitterness, but our love for malts got the best of us. As you can see from the grain bill below (and a picture of our malt cabinet), there are a lot of different malts in here. This will make it very interesting, and hopefully refreshing. The bitterness likely will not be very noticeable due to the CaraHelle and Honey malt used; however, we still hope the hop aroma and flavour will come through nicely.

(Update: this was a totally wrong assessment. Lots of hops come through this malt bill)

IMG_20130112_152631Gambrinus Pale Malt: 9 lb (We wanted Pilsen malt, but we didn’t have any)
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 2 lb (Wheat makes it tart and adds body, which we thought would nicely compliment the Saaz hops and the ginger)
Flaked Wheat: 1 lb (Same reason for adding the wheat malt, but flaked wheat has even more of a ‘wheat flavour)
CaraHelle: 12 oz (This is a light coloured carmel malt that will add some sweetness)
Gambrinus Honey Malt: 4 oz (It’s just a nice complement, plus it adds a toastiness)
Special B: 2 oz (There is really no good reason for why we added this malt. It adds a bittersweet toffee, raisin and plum flavours. It is often used in Belgian Dubels. We added it here just because)

Hop Schedule
We wanted the spicy and floral flavour and aroma of Saaz hops, and a lot of them.

60 minutes: 1.25 oz Ultra (9% AA) (We couldn’t waste our delicate Saaz hops for bitter, so we used a different German-esque hop Ultra. The AA content was unusually high so it worked as a bittering hop)
15 minutes: 1 oz Saaz (For that spicy flavour)
5 minutes: 0.2 oz Black Pepper and 0.5 oz Ginger (We didn’t really know how much ginger and pepper to add to compliment the hops and yeast, so we settled on the more conservative side)
1 minute: 2 oz Saaz (To get loads of floral and spicy aroma. After we stopped the boil, we let the hops steep in the wort for 10 minutes, hoping that with would extract extra aroma and flavour out of the hops)

Poured onto a Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast cake used for the Winter Harvest Saison. This was not overly wise, as it muted the flavour of the yeast (due to over-pitching). In our defense, the OG of the previous beer was lower (1.050) and it was a smaller batch (only 17 or so litres). Nonetheless, we still overpitched.

Primary Fermentation: 14 days at 19C (a little cool for this yeast strain, recommended between 18-25 C)

English Revolution ESB

The Story

This beer is actually a remake of one of our first amazing all-grain batches of beer. The recipe came from our fantastic, yet sadly far away, homebrew store, Dan’s Homebrewing. Despite Vancouver’s location in the Cascade region, for a long time there was only one homebrew store. Without Dan’s Homebrew store, Robert and I would not have been able to pursue our passion of barley juice. So if you live in the region of Vancouver, British Columbia, visit Dan’s store. It is reasonably priced and the people there are helpful.

This beer is the ESB. We first made it nearly two years ago. It is full of malty, carmel flavours and just enough hops to make it interesting. We have tinkered with the recipe a bit, such as adding our own farm grown hops, but the spirit remains the same. Anybody we’ve ever given this beer to has enjoyed it because it is very drinkable, yet it is interesting enough to impress beer critics. This is perfect beer for the dog days of winter.


The Tasting

Appearance: Cherry wood colour. Thin, but stable, creamy head.
Aroma: Sweet and carmel aroma, and a very light woody, earthy aroma from the English hops. There is a little bit of yeast flavour, which will subdue with time.
Taste: Very thick and creamy body that is taken over by rich carmel and candy flavours. Very little bitterness, despite the (assumed) 42 IBUs. You could say the carmel is somewhat cloying, but not overly unbalanced
Overall: This beer is very malty and creamy. The lack the any bitterness makes it very appealing to people who may often limit themselves to lagers. The carmel 60 comes through quite strong and is the dominating flavour, resulting in sweet carmel flavours that may turn some off. The technique of first wort hopping gives this beer a very smooth bitterness, with no harsh edges. It is similar to many ‘pale’ and amber ales in the BC beer market such as the Granville Island’s Pale Ale, Stanley Park’s Amber Ale and the Phillips’ Blue Buck Pale Ale. For those who swear allegiance to only IPAs (branch out people!), this beer is not for you.


The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 80% extraction efficiency, ABV 5.6%, O.G. 1.053, IBU 42, single infusion mash at 67 Celsius for 40 minutes

Grain Bill

We followed the recipe fairly closely from what Dan provided. We changed two things in the grain bill. Instead of Pale Malt, we used Gambrinus’s ESB. We also added 8 oz of barley flakes for a little extra body.

Gambrinus ESB Malt: 10 lb (ESB malt is labeled “ESB” malt; it’s practically a divine order to use it in our ESB)
Carmel 60: 12 oz (an ESB needs that darker crystal malt to give it the toffee and carmel flavours)
Barley Flakes: 8 oz (to give it that extra body and head retention; barley flakes are like cheap Carapils)
Chocolate Malt: 1 oz (such a small amount to added the slightest of roasty flavours; any more would be too much)

Hop Schedule

We changed the hops a bit as well. We used the hops we grew at our farm (thus we don’t know the exact AA% of the hops, thus the IBUs are likely incorrect). We also added first-wort-hopping to create a smoother bitterness we find desirable. Lastly, the last hop addition (0.65 oz of Kent Golding) was supposed to be added at flame out. However, we moved them up, boiling them for 15 minutes, to let the malty aroma shine through the hops.

First Wort Hopping: 0.4 oz Kent Golding (These hops will create a very smooth bitterness, taking the harsh edge off the 60 minute hops. First wort hopping is fantastic for balancing out the malt without adding any bitter hop flavours)
60 minutes: 0.9 oz Zeus
15 minutes: 0.65 oz Kent Golding


For yeast, we just used a packet of Nottingham dry yeast. Nottingham yeast will result in a cleaner, less fruity/ester-y beer than the style calls for, but that isn’t a big deal for us. In our minds, Nottingham yeast is good for all American and British ales (though we do switch up the yeasts every once in a while). It is cheaper than liquid yeast, it generally does not require a starter, and it ferments clean with few off flavours.

Primary: 7 days
Secondary: 15 daysAJ

(AJ thinking about all the money he has saved by using Nottingham yeast compared to expensive Wyeast and White Lab alternatives. Perhaps he can use that money to buy some new clothes at the thrift store.)

Cedar Brown Ale

The Story

snowy cedarAs winter comes upon us, we realize that our large selection of IPAs aren’t able to provide that toasty warming feeling that darker ales can bring. So we decided on a brown ale. What type of brown ale: American brown ale, Southern English brown ale, Northern English brown ale, Flander’s brown ale, Brown porter etc. Well I’ll tell you. Something that tastes good.

We wanted a mildly sweet, malty beer, with no bitter taste from hops or dark grains. Thus we used two techniques to hide the bitterness of the beer. First wort hopping, which creates a less harsh bitterness from the hops. And cold steeping the dark grains, which prevents bitter/astringent flavours from the dark grains (chocolate malt and roasted barley) from getting into the beer. This is our first time cold steeping, so we could have total debauchery.

The Tasting

Appearance: Dark brown, close to becoming the colour of a porter. There is a thick, bubbly head, but it quickly recedes to just a thin layer of foam on the top of the beer.
Aroma: Lightly fruity, with the dark malt aromas of chocolate and coffee coming in later.
Taste: A surprising taste of dark fruits like plums and raisins, followed by a hint of caramel. Very little bitterness. There is a sweetness that comes in a little bit later. Slightly thicker mouth feel. Does not really taste like a dark beer as it lacks dark flavours of burned coffee and harsh cocoa. Very smooth. It almost has the taste of port wine
Overall: This is a very mild and smooth beer. There are no harsh tastes. The malt and hop bitterness are both very smooth. However, from all this smoothness comes a muddled flavour; nothing really sticks out and captures your attention. This can be a good thing as it makes it very easy drinking and session-able; however, it also makes it somewhat boring.


The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 79% extraction efficiency, ABV 5.4%, O.G. 1.052, IBU 31, single infusion mash at 68 Celsius for 60 minutes

Grain Bill
We wanted the grain bill to have a strong character. Even though this is a brown ale, we still like to add hops, so we wanted Honey malt and Munich malt to more than cover the hops we are going to add.

Gambrinus Pale Malt: 6 lb (we would have used ESB malt, but we didn’t have any)
Gambrinus Munich Light: 4 lb (to create a strong malt character to balance out the hops)
Chocolate Malt: 8 oz (to add the dark chocolate taste and colour)
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 8 oz (to add more protein for a good head, plus since the beer is fairly dark is doesn’t matter if it makes the beer slightly hazy)
Carmel 70-80: 4 oz (to add complexity, adding some bittersweet toffee flavours to linger on the tongue)
Gambrinus Honey Malt: 4 oz (more sweetness to balance out the hops, plus it has a toasty character we like)
Roasted Barley: 2 oz (to darken the beer even more; because we cold steeped the grain, I’m not sure what flavour it will contribute to the beer)


adding dark grain

(Left: Roasted barley and chocolate malt steeping in cold water in a pot for 8 hours. Right: Just after the dark grains are added to the mash tun)

Dark grains like chocolate malt and roasted barley can add harsh bitter tastes to the beer when they are let sit in the mash tun for 60 minutes at high temperatures (between 65 and 70 Celsius). To prevent this, there is a technique called ‘cold steeping’. Instead of adding the dark grains to the mash tun, we let them sit in a pot filled with cold water for 8 hours. After they were finished steeping, we added the dark grains to the mash tun during the last 10 minutes of sparging. Thus instead of sitting in the mash tun for 120 minutes (60 minute for the mash, 60 minute for the sparge), the dark grains sat in the mash tun for only 10 minutes, being exposed to less heat, extracting less of the harsh bitter flavours that linger in dark grains.

Apparently, cold steeping is also beneficial if your water is very soft (the water along coastal British Columbia, where we are located, is very soft). Dark malts are very acidic, and can cause significant drops in the pH level of the mash. Soft water has less alkaline minerals, thus the pH level is already lower. By not including dark malts in the mashing process, the mash pH level remains higher, which is important when working with soft water. (I’m not a chemist, thus this information comes only from the reliable halls of information of the internet. Water chemistry is considerably more complicated than just assessing the ‘softnesss’ of the water.)

before dark grainafter dark grain

(Left: Light colour of the wort before adding the dark grains. Right: Dark colour of the wort 2 minutes after adding the dark grains to the mash tun)

Hop Schedule
We wanted a more ‘English’ style brown ale, so we only used Willamette hops. Though these are technically American hops (named after the Willamette Valley/River in Oregon), they have a woody, earthy aroma and flavour similar to English hops. We thought they were perfect for complementing the dark toasty grains in a brown ale. Also, citrus flavours in a brown ale sounded weird.

First Wort Hopping: 0.5 oz Willamette (added when the wort is still sparging into the brew kettle; this creates a smoother bitterness)
60 minutes: 1 oz Willamette
15 minutes: 0.5 oz Willamette (to add some hop flavour, without adding hop aroma to let the sweet malt aroma come through)

first wort hop

(‘First Wort Hopping’ with the hops sitting in the wort as the wort drains into the brew kettle)


Put on the yeast cake (Cooper’s Ale yeast) used after a Bitter Peach Wheat Ale.
Primary fermentation: 14 days.
No secondary fermentation, we were lazy.

199 White IPA

The Story

Generally, IPAs contain a certain amount of caramel malt to provide some sweetness to balance out the bitterness from the hops. Sometimes this is called providing a “malt backbone”.  But what if we didn’t add any other caramel malt to balance out sweetness? This is the idea behind out 199 White IPA.

The “white” aspect is a reference to the Belgian style of beer, a white ale or witbier (Hoegaarden is a classic example of a witbier). This type of beer is brewed with orange and coriander, as well as a special type of Belgian yeast. Traditionally, witbiers have very few hops and are very light in colour. A White IPA keeps the light colour, orange and coriander of a witbier, but adds more hops. Because of the lack of caramel malt in witbiers, it doesn’t require many hops to make the beer bitter enough to be considered an IPA.

The “199” refers to how many IBUs are in the beer. That comes from 12 ounces of hops in 23 litres of beer. Many beers only have 2-3 ounces of hops. Thus we went overboard on adding hops.

The Tasting

White IPA

Appearance: Very cloudy, yet very light in colour. Thick, bubbly head.
Aroma: Scent of orange and other citrus, with a hint coriander.
Taste: A very heavy body, likely as result of the wheat. It almost sticks to the tongue. A lemony taste that is very tart. A lot of different flavours from the hops: grapefruit, pine, orange, apricot, peach, mango, lemon. It’s like biting into a very flavourful grapefruit peel. The bitterness lingers for a very long time, where a little bit of the coriander taste can be noticed. The pine flavour also comes out more as the taste lingers.
Overall: Very bitter beer, but that was our plan for the beer, so let’s consider that a success. Since there is no sweeter malts to balance out the bitter and add different flavours, only the hops come through. It somewhat works in wheat beer, but you expect a bit more yeasty flavour in a wheat beer. The orange peel get lost in the hop flavour, though the coriander seems to compliment some of the hop flavour with a hint of spice.

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 55% extraction efficiency, ABV 4.9%, O.G. 1.047, IBU 199, single infusion mash at 68 Celsius for 40 minutes

Grain Bill
Normally you could never create such a mash without having a stuck sparge. Our mash tun is somehow magical and has never caused us a stuck sparge even when wheat makes up 87% of the grain bill. The high percentage of wheat was also a result of having very little Pale malt remaining in the homebrewery. Thus we made due with what we had.

Gambrinus Organic Wheat Malt: 12 lbs (to make a tangy, slightly acid and refreshing wheat beer)
Gambrinus Pale Malt: 2 lbs (to help prevent a stuck sparge)

wheat and hops

Hop Schedule
We upped the hopping rate, by a lot. Even if this beer had specialty malts and more alcohol to balance out the hoppiness, it would still be very hoppy. With a beer that has an O.G. of only 1.047, you are going to taste every one of those IBUs. All 199 of them.

75 min: 2 oz Chinook (Chinook is fairly piney, thus it adds more complexity to the beer)
60 min: 2 oz Columbus (Columbus is a rare bittering hop that actually keeps some of its flavour, thus we added it in addition to the Chinook to add a deep citrus flavour)
30 min: 1 oz Centennial, 0.5 oz Chinook
10 min: 1 oz Chinook, 0.5 oz Centennial
0 min: 1 oz Crystal, 0.5 oz Centennial (Crystal has a lovely fruity aroma that simply cannot be resisted)

Dry Hopping for 14 days: 1.5 oz Ultra (a hop similar to Crystal, less fruity though), 1.5 Cascade

Total hops added: 12 oz.

white ipa dryhop2
(199 White IPA after adding 1.5 oz Cascade and 1.5 oz Ultra for dry hopping)

Other Additions
To make a mildly proper white ale, we needed to add orange peel and coriander, thus we added 1 oz of each to the boil for the last 15 minutes. This is a long time to boil these additions (normally you would only add them for 5 minutes), but we wanted some of their flavour to come through all the hops.

Fermented on a Cooper’s Ale yeast cake from a Vienna ale. Not proper Belgium yeast for a white ale, but we don’t let beer style get in the way of our creativity.

7 days in primary
14 days in secondary

white ipa dryhop

(7 days into the dry hopping process)

India Porter Ale

The Story

This beer has Robert’s creativity written all over it. He has been sampling some black IPAs from Oregon, and paying considerably too much money for them. The local offers of black IPAs were considerably lacking. So when brew day rolled around on the weekend, he suggested to AJ they make a black IPA.

Widmer Pitch Black IPA

Despite the contradictory name (Black India ‘Pale’ Ale), Black IPAs are roughly as dark as a porter, but have all the hoppiness of an IPA (some Black IPAs are even darker). So we called our beer the “India Porter Ale”(India reflecting the hoppiness of the beer, Porter reflects the darkness of the beer). Other names for the this type of beer include Cascadian Dark Ale and India Black Ale. The chocolate malt required to make the India Porter Ale actually hides a lot of the hop bitterness. Compared to a regular IPA, considerably more hops are added to our India Porter Ale to get the same level of hop bitterness. We wanted the hop bitterness to shine above bitterness from the dark roasted malts. There was, however, one issue: we only had Munich Light as a ‘base malt’.

The Tasting

Appearance: Very dark, though slightly transparent. Strong, thick head. Nearly no signs of carbonation.
Aroma: Sweet, yet roasty malt. Very little hop aroma, as we did not dry hop the beer.
Taste: Initially a strong sweet, nutty taste, then bitterness, then the sweetness returns. Has an earthy taste throughout, with some acidic fruit tastes (like plum). Very malty, yet still bitter. Very thick body as well.
Overall: A surprising well balanced beer. The sweetness from the Munich malt is present, yet so is the strong bitterness of the hops and roasted barley. The beer constantly swings between very bitter and very sweet depending on area of your tongue the beer rests on. A very broad spectrum of flavours. The beer needs to linger in your mouth a while to get the full flavour. It is a very unique beer. You could not drink a lot of this beer, but is the ideal for sitting in front of a fireplace during a snowy winter evening.

India Porter ALe

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 74% extraction efficiency, ABV 6.4%, O.G. 1.062, IBU 113 single infusion mash at 66.5 Celsius for 50 minutes

This beer was made during a rather scares time at the brewery. Our January shipment from Gambrinus Malting Corporation in Armstrong was reaching its end. We had no Pale Malt for base malt. Thus we had to improvise. Thus we used Munich Light malt as a substitute, as well as some wheat malt to help covert the starch to sugar. Thus, this is going to be a very malty beer, despite all the hops we might try to add to it.

Grain Bill
Gambrinus Munich Light: 10 lb (This is our make-shift base malt because we didn’t have any Pale Malt. This will probably make the beer too malty, but whatever)
Gambrinus Organic Wheat Malt: 4 lb (because 14 pounds of Munich was just too much)
Carmel 70-80: 8 oz (to add some variety to the malty taste from the Munich)
Gambrinus Honey Malt: 8 oz (because we add it to everything, so why not this too?)
Chocolate Malt: 8 oz (to make it dark)
Roasted Malt: 4 oz (because Robert said so)
Flaked Barley: 8 oz (to make it thicker)


It will be nearly impossible to add enough hops to balance out the sweetness of the Munich malt. This will probably be a weird tasting porter, with few of the characteristics of an IPA.

Hop Schedule

To make this beer even remotely bitter, we loaded in the hops. 113 IBUs worth. The Cluster and Northern Brewer were chosen for their more piney/herbal characteristics, while Columbus was selected to add a grapefruit flavour for complexity.

75 minutes: 1.5 oz Northern Brewer, 1.5 oz Columbus, 1.5 oz Cluster
20 minutes: 1.5 oz Northern Brewer, 1.5 oz Columbus, 1.5 oz Cluster
1 minute: 1.5 oz Northern Brewer, 1.5 oz Columbus, 1.5 oz Cluster

Fermentation Schedule

Primary fermentation: 7 days
Secondary fermentation: 21 days

We put this batch onto a yeast cake (Nottingham) from a honey brown ale and a blonde ale (thus this was the third use of that yeast). And it fermented like crazy. We actually lost 3 litres just due to crazy fermentation forcing the beer out through the airlock.