Tag Archives: brewday

Cafélatté Homebrew – I ain’t talking about coffee

Cafélaté about to boil

The state of the art

Like many homebrew beer makers I also roast coffee.  It’s quick and simple to produce better java than you can buy in most shops.  While not a natural pairing, beer and coffee go together.  There’s coffee porter, coffee stout, ..uh… espresso porter….  I like to do things differently.

I thought about putting hops in my coffee grounds just to turn things on their head.  May still do that….  Instead, I picked a coffee drink and set about translating it to beer.  Astute readers have already picked up that I decided upon cafélatté – a mix of espresso and steamed milk.  This decision came mostly from the availability of lactose, milk sugar, for brewing.

The creative process

With one ingredient chosen I went a-browsing for the remainder of the grist.  To my surprise I discovered Coffee malt, a moderately roasted 2-row barley (130-170L).  My grain bills are almost always simple, with one or two specialty malts, so I decided to limit the beer to that one roast.  I also had an idea for a fourth ingredient.

The third grain is, of course, the base malt.  My normal favorite, Maris Otter, would likely be too nutty or biscuity for this beer.  Again looking for new things to try I cane across Golden Promise.  The description promised a “sweet, clean flavor” which I deemed perfect.  Although the beer will be malt-dominant, it should show the coffee flavors more than anything else.

To round the grain bill off I decided on rolled oats to give the beer body and a smooth mouthfeel.  The beer should feel like you are drinking a creamy latte and oats are just the thing.  With the four ingredients selected, I placed my order.

Days later it arrived.  Although the ingredients came 32 hours ahead of brew-day I was eager to taste my creation.  Originally the coffee malt was to make up 15% of the grist, but I ordered enough to make 20.  I mixed some of the Golden Promise and coffee malt and bit into a small handful.

Coffee malt does indeed smell and taste like coffee.  It has that burnt bean starbucks flavor that I do not care for.  But as the grain stewed in my mouth the base malt stepped forward to compliment the ash and roast.  I nearly couldn’t stop myself from eating the entire grainbill.

Enough already, get to the recipe

OG 1.042
IBU ~23
Efficiency 75%
BU:GU 0.5


  • 70% Golden Promise
  • 20% Coffee Malt
  • 5% Lactose
  • 5% Rolled Oats

I use a water to grist ratio of two quarts per pound.  Aimed for a single 60 minute step at 158ºF but hit 160º.  Collected six gallons of sweet wort at 1.041 SG.


  • 23 IBUs of Hallertau at 45 minutes
  • Irish moss and lactose at 15 minutes

Yes, this is a 45 minute boil.  Chilled and pitched onto a healthy yeast cake of White Labs London Ale yeast.  OG came out to 1.045.

Whatsit taste like?

I like to taste my beers at many steps.  Right out of the chiller is an important place.  I am quite pleased with the way this beer matched my expectations of it.  The lactose really gives the impression of milk.  One of my tasters remarked that he expected a hot coffee drink from the aroma.

The wort smells of burnt grains and steamed milk.  The lactose and rolled oats combine to give the beer noticeable body, but a the malty sweetness remains thin, like something you would expect from a beer of ten SG points lower.  Hop bitterness is mild and should be nearly undetectable after fermentation.

I’ll edit link to the review when it’s done.

Alt Two

My second try at an Altbier turned out better than the first. Alt One got an infection from the MiniBrew plastic conicals I was using. A tragedy, because it tasted so good coming out of the kettle.

Alt Two is not my own recipe, but a concoction from Jamil Zainasheff’s Brewing Classic Styles. Scaled up to 10 gallons the recipe is:


  • 18 lbs Pilsner
  • 2 lbs Munich
  • 0.5 lbs Debittered Black malt
  • 0.5 lbs Caramunich 60L
  • 6 oz Pale Chocolate malt 200L

Mashed starting at 151º, falling to 145ºF over the course of 60 minutes. (Need winter insulation for my mash tun.) Mash out at 160ºF. Sparge. Collected 12.5 gallons 11% B sweet wort. Boil 90 minutes.


  • 2.5 oz 8.1% AA Perle 60 minutes


Pitch a 1600ml starter of WLP 029 German Ale yeast into 14.3% B original gravity wort.

Fermented two weeks between 58º & 66ºF. Lagered for 26 days.


  • 2010-02-15 9.6%B Vinous notes
  • 2010-03-13 8%B Vinous flavors reduced. Ready to package.

It pours a deep copper brown with no appreciable head. Carbonation has not quite developed and I expect to get a good stand of foam in a few more days under pressure. There is roastyness up front and that vinous flavor refuses to disappear completely. This Alt puckers the mouth just a little, a problem attribute to poor scaling of the recipe from 5 to 10 gallons. The percentage of dark roasted malts may be too high. Bitterness is present and polite as appropriate for this malt-centric beer.

For my third Altbier I will find a common ground between One and Two. Not so much roasted malt as #2 and not so much Munich or Vienna as #1.

Brown Fitzhenry Ale

My wife Adrienne was in need of some design services for a logo and business cards for her consulting services. Happily a friend of mine, Roby Fitzhenry, works for a first-class graphic design studio: Always Creative. The three of us met over beers at Revolution Bar one evening to hash out a deal. He would provide some branding and design services and we would make beer and replace a toilet in the Creative Space where he and I share offices. Roby likes Newcastle Brown so I started looking for recipes for a similar beer.

I found one in Graham Wheeler & Roger Protz’s book Brew Classic European Beers At Home. This 180-page book is full of clone recipes from European breweries. Notable recipes include Fuller’s ESB, Heller’s Kölsch and Jenlain Bière de Garde. The book was a gift from my early brewing days and I do not often page through it. This time I was glad I owned it. On the Newcastle Brown ale clone page the authors write:

Newcastle Brown is a blend of two beers, a strong “vatted” ale and a weaker beer. The strong beer is matured in maturation tanks for a period of time and this is blended with a weaker and probably younger beer of OG 1030; the final blend having an OG of about 1045. Unique flavor characteristics that are only developed during the maturation of strong beers are then imparted to the strong beer, producing a full flavored beer for its gravity.

At their suggestion I brewed 5 gallons of OG 1.075 beer, blending it four weeks later with 10 gallons of OG 1.030 beer. This beer fermented and conditioned for a further three weeks to be put under pressure today. I have not taken a critical analysis of it yet, however Roby calls it “Fucking Delicious Ale” after he tasted it lukewarm and undercarbonated. Here’s a pic of him trying to fit a cornie keg in his laptop bag to take home:

I will reproduce the single-batch recipe Wheeler and Protz provide, modified to fit ingredients I had on hand, and explain how they suggest splitting the batch.

5 US Gallons of Newcastle Brown Ale Clone


  • 5.75 lbs Pale
  • 1.15 lbs Crystal 60L
  • 12.5 oz sucrose
  • 1.1 oz Chocolate malt

I mashed for 90 minutes at 149° F where the book suggests 153°


  • 0.4 oz 8.9% AA Northern Brewer 90 mins
  • 0.6 oz 4.5% AA Fuggle 90 mins

(suggested) OG: 1.044, EBU: 24
(actual) FG: 7% brix

To make strong and week beers to blend, multiply the ingredients by 1.7 and 0.68 respectively. Blend one part strong with two parts weak. It was easiest to scale the recipe to 15 gallons, brewing 5 gallons strong with 10 gallons weak. I only promised 10 gallons to Roby so I get to keep 5 gallons for myself.

My brewery lacks a 15 gallon fermenter. A fellow brewer graciously loaned me a carboy so I could ferment the beer in three vessels. Upon kegging the beer I thought I noticed a flavor difference among the fermenters. I had my wife give me a triangle test and could pick the odd-beer-out. One was slightly maltier, but not significantly different. These beers were virtually identical and kept in identical environments, with few factors accounting for the flavor differences. This bolsters similar anecdotal evidence I found in my last split batch. Pitching rates matter.

Nettle Beer – A Beginning

Nettle tea helps promote kidney function, reducing the risk for kidney stones and gout. I get attacks of gout when I am not careful what I eat and many of my family members have kidney stones. I do not drink a lot of tea, and rather than changing my habits (putting me dangerously close to sounding old) I thought it more appropriate to get nettles elsewhere. Enter homebrew.

The cup of nettle tea I made to get a feel for the flavor tasted vegetal and slightly peppery. Few people, me included, want to drink beer that smells of boiled vegetables. My thinking went to covering it up with a healthy dose of American hops and some big malt. That was yesterday and I didn’t have any Amarillo on hand… or yeast for that matter. The nearest LHBS is a day away by UPS. Because I was being interviewed for a homebrewing segment on the local news there were timing constraints. The beer had to be rolling at 2:30 when the reporter arrived. Not wanting to pay for overnight 10 AM delivery shipping I placed an order and crossed my fingers.

I should have known better. UPS usually delivers to my house around 7 PM. Not to worry, I wasn’t really sure what kind of beer I would make today. Grabbing the first bag of hop pellets from the freezer, I settled on German Pearle. Next I went to the larder and ripped open new 55-lb bags of Vienna and Munich malt. Here’s what happened:

3 gallons of Some Nettle Beer


  • 4 lbs Vienna
  • 2 lbs Munich

Doughed in 2 gallons of 160° F water (mostly RO with some tap water for “minerals”). The mash hit 157° F for 40 minutes. Using an ad-hoc brewing setup I batched sparged through a colander and collected a little more than 3 gallons of 10% brix sweet wort. So far so good. The reporter arrived right on time as the wort was starting to boil.


  • 1 oz 8.1% AA Perle 60 minutes
  • 6 oz dried loose leaf nettles 60 minutes

I wasn’t sure how much nettles to add – most of the recipes you find online measure by the fresh bucket or the peck. They went in until I had enough to almost overflow my kettle. By then the wort had a sharp nastiness to it signaling to me that it was a good time to stop.

We conducted the interview while the nastiness boiled. Right now I have just about 3 gallons of 13.6% brix wort cooling slowly as I wait for UPS to deliver some Safale US-05 yeast. The slow cool means that the resulting beer will have a lot of DMS, but it is a veggie beer to begin with…. Oh yeah, batch sparging with a colander causes a lot of splashing and hot-side aeration. Maybe my nettle beer won’t start.

Looking forward to improving on this recipe with a little more preparation.

Tripel Digits

On June 20th I made an approximation of a Belgian tripel.

Tripel Digits

5 US gallons
OG: 18% Brix
FG: 8.8% Brix
IBU: ~30


  • 14 lbs 2-row
  • 1 lbs cane sugar

60 minute rest at 152° F. 60 metric minute boil.


  • 1 oz 8.1% AA Perle pellets 60 minutes
  • 1 oz 4.6% AA Saaz pellets 10 minutes

By the time I was done sparging I had 9 gallons of sweet wort and only enough fermentables for 5 (as planned). To get to my target volume I boiled for three hours. Not much harm in that except the beer will be a good deal darker than it is supposed to be.

Came out of the fermenter today nice and clear. Going to be about 10.75% ABV, but you can’t really taste it. Tripels are like that. Another three weeks conditioning in the keg.

Rye Without The Hurricane

Last September, a day after Hurricane Ike demolished Galveston, I brewed a great rye beer I called Rye of the Hurricane. It was about 20% rye, 5% munich and 75% pale bittered with Mt Hood & Hallertauer hops. The beer came out with a great dry earthy bitterness from the rye and Mt Hood. Five gallons of that beer lasted seven weeks; these day’s I’m lucky to get two weeks out of a keg.

Rye of the Hurricane II will be a very different beer. I increased the ratio of munich malt, and added crystal 120 to the grainbill. To balance the more intense malt flavors that the crystal adds I also stepped up the hopping schedule. Have a look. (Pictures here.)


  • 15 lbs Pale 2-row (Rahr)
  • 4 lbs Rye malt
  • 2 lbs Munich
  • 2 lbs Crystal 120L

Doughed in with 9 gallons of spring water to hit 150° F. Rested 20 minutes. Direct-fire heat to 163° F for another 40 minutes. Sparge with 170° F water to collect 10 gallons sweet wort.

60-minute boil

  • 2 oz 5.2% AA Mt Hood pellets first-wort hop
  • 1 oz 4.8% AA Kent Goldings pellets 30 mins
  • 1 oz 3.9% AA Hallertau pellets 10 mins
  • 1 oz 3.9% AA Hallertau pellets 5 mins

Wyeast 1318 London Ale Yeast III; Fermenting at 70° F.

The reason this beer is only 9 gallons is because I changed my strike water volume and forgot to compensate with extra sparge water. I wanted a thin mash – about 2 qts/lb to really pack this beer with malty goodness, but upon getting 11 gallons of strike water in my new mash tun I could see that adding in 23 pounds of grain would possibly overflow the vessel. I should have added the two missing gallons to the sparge to collect 11-ish gallons of sweet wort at completion of the mash.

The wort tasted awesome, simply fantastic. It’s taking all my power not to keg & tap the beer this week – 9 days through fermentation. I hope I have the will to let it sit for another nine days, but I’m out of homebrew at the time. The bitter I made as a yeast starter for Gnarly Barleywine started out “meh” because I tapped it way too early. It became a nice beer near the end of the keg. I will keep that lesson in mind while I drink some commercial beer.

Alt One

Altbier is one of my favorite styles of beer, and this is my first attempt at formulating a recipe for it. To prepare for this batch, I read Altbier: History, Brewing, Techniques, Recipes by Horst Dornbusch. The Classic Beer Style Series book came through with helpful explanations.


  • 10 lbs German Pilsner
  • 3 lbs Munich
  • 3 lbs Vienna
  • 2 lbs Crystal 60

Using reverse-osmosis water treated with gypsum, I doughed in with 1 qt/lbs water to rest at 146° F for 30 minutes. Added boiling water to bring temperature to 160° F for 48 minutes. Sparged to collect around 14 gallons sweet wort.

Boiled 90 minutes.


  • 3 oz 8.3% AA whole Perle 60 mins
  • 1 oz 3.3% AA pellet Hallertau Hersbrucker 10 mins
  • 2 oz 2.4% AA whole Hallertau Hersbrucker flameout

Chilled wort and pitched WYeast 1007, German Ale yeast. Fermenting at 63° F.

The second mash step went 18 minutes longer than I planned for. At that temperature alpha-amalyase is most active and beta-amalyase is denatured. Alpha-amalyase breaks down starch into unfermentable sugars and because of this the wort turned out quite sweet. The finished beer will likely turn out too malty for the style, but it won’t turn out bad. I will find out in six weeks.

International Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day

Today is International Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day so I had a few friends over and made beer. Some of them knew how to brew, some of them did not, and one of the latter is gonna give it a try. I ended up making about 15 gallons of beer in two batches. Allow me to elaborate.

I bought ingredients for 10 gallons of AHS Evil Brown ale and everything was set to go at 10 o’clock this morning. There was one flaw in my plan, you see at the last club meeting we discussed Bryan/College Station water quality. It turns out that our water is simply awful for brewing – there’s too much sodium and hardness. With this in mind I went down to Jacob’s Well and got 20 gallons of reverse osmosis filtered water.

I know better than to brew with only RO water, and thought I had some Burton salts in my box of homebrew supplies. I did not. Nor did I use any tap water in my mash like I should have. My efficiency suffered severely because of this and I extracted 10 gallons of 1.022 wort where I should have seen 1.050-ish.

The remaining grains were still sweet so some of the other homebrews convinced me to do another batch. This time I added about a gallon of tap water to 5 gallons of RO. The mash went through starch conversion in about 15 minutes and I mashed for a total of 40. The resulting wort came out around 1.031 SG. I tossed some left-over Magnum and Goldings hops in the boil and split my yeast starter between the two fermenters. They are in the duck-in cooler right now.

So it took me two mashes and 15 gallons to get all the sugar out of my grains, but I like low-alcohol session beers. I’m curious to tast the brews.

The recipe:


  • 18 lbs 2-row
  • 1 lbs Crystal 60
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Malt


  • 2 oz 7.6% AA Brewer’s Gold 60 mins
  • 1 oz 4.2% AA Goldings 15 mins

White Labs 005 English Ale yeast

Batch two used

  • 0.5 oz 14% AA German Magnum hops for 90 minutes
  • 1 oz 4.2% AA Goldings for 15 mins

I had those nagging cooling problems. Next time I will run my pump at a slower speed.

It was a great day. I even found the time to grill two racks of spare ribs and Adrienne made mozzarella. Other folks brought home and commercial brew meaning everyone was well fed and well drunk.

Rye of the Hurricane

Yesterday the eye of hurricane Ike passed 85 kilometers westward of my house in Bryan, TX. It caused no damage to speak of here. Our neighbors lost a tree, but after Adrienne and I helped him cut it down we waited out the storm with some spicy barley soup and laptops. We did not lose power or water like Galveston and wish a speedy recovery to them.

Today was brew-day. I had a crisp rye ale lined up from Austin Homebrew Supply and a starter of Wyeast 1968 ready to go. AHS advertised this recipe being similar to Real Ale’s Full Moon Pale Rye, which I like. Bear Republic makes a great rye IPA and I would like to explore brewing with rye malt.

Had a few friends over to help share some (commercial) beer. The brew went by in a typical way. My efficiency is often quite low (50% today) so I topped off the recipe with a kilogram of dry malt extract. I got about 45 liters out of it which indicates that I sparge too much. OG was 12.8% brix with 41-ish IBUs. The recipe:


  • 7.75 kg Pale malt
  • 2.0 kg Rye Malt
  • 1.0 kg Light Dry Malt Extract
  • 0.5 kg Munich Malt


  • 110 g 5.3% AA Mt Hood (60 mins)
  • 55 g 1.5 % AA (!) Hallertauer (5 mins)

Wyeast 1968 London ESB Ale yeast.

Mashed 2.5 liters of water per kg at 65° C for 60 minutes. Sparged with 37 liters water to collect 51 liters of sweet wort. Measured the gravity to be 7.8% Brix.

I boiled for 30 minutes before adding the Mt Hood trying to get my volume down and gravity up. The wort has a nice sweetness to it, but I do not taste much rye. Chilling the wort is still a problem as I can only get down to about 32° C. When I put together a stand for my equipment I will make space for a pre-chiller. However, the brew is now fermenting in the duck-in cooler I made.

Creativespace ESB

I made 10 gallons of a simple ESB today, and it turned out fine. The ingredients came from Austin Homebrew Supply.


  • 17 lbs Maris Otter Pale
  • 1.5 lbs Crystal 60L

OG 10.75° Plato


  • 2 oz 7.7% AA Brewer’s Gold (60 mins)
  • 2 ox 4.5% AA Yakima Goldings (15 mins)

Est 41.8 IBU

White Labs WLP002 English Ale yeast

What went well:

  • Brewday was quite smooth. I now have a great grasp of how my equipment works together and how to fit brewday tasks into the downtime between hop additions and mash stirrings.
  • I verified that water loss in my mash tun is acceptably small — less than half a gallon. I wondered about losses here because my manifold is not sweated together meaning that suction could be lost before collecting all the sweet wort.
  • I got about 65% efficiency out of my system, which is better than usual. I did a little better on the SG than suggested by Austin Homebrew.
  • The hand-drill paint stirrer is just awesome for aerating wort.

Concerns include:

  • The pitchable tube spent a day in the Texas heat because UPS doesn’t knock very loud. It smelled a little funky when I opened it, but the starter was better.
  • I did not chill down to an ideal temperature before pitching. Threw the yeast into about 95° F wort. The fermenter is in a nice cool room now and I think the wort is cooler than last time.

For my readers looking for an update on the duck-in cooler, I made little progress since the last post. Too much weekend traveling. After the Longshot Competition judging this weekend, though, I will have time to finish it.