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Chill By the Pool

Summer Heat

Ugh, the heat! It seems like summer is getting hotter and hotter every year! As soon as temperatures start soaring, I dread having to go outside for more than 15 minutes. Well, it’s not just the heat, but the sheer strength of the blistering sun. Every time I walk out the door, I can almost hear my skin sizzling like a piece of bacon in a frying pan. When I was a kid, summer was this magical time of freedom, hanging out with friends, and having a blast in the sun. Now, it’s turned into 3 months of me being an Air Conditioning addict, who doesn’t step foot outside unless it’s absolutely necessary. And I don’t love that about myself. But what am I to do? I don’t live near the beach, so building sandcastles is out of the question; unless I fancy spending half a paycheck on plane tickets. I love spending my afternoons soaking in the pool, reading a book, cocktail in hand… Then drying off on a chaise longue, watching the pink and blue sky as the sun sets. But you can’t really do that at your local aquapark! All those kids running around, splashing water everywhere… no, thank you! So, this year, I pulled the trigger and bought a pool for my backyard. And I honestly couldn’t be happier! Best purchase ever! I didn’t want to turn my yard into a construction site, so I opted for an above-ground one. That way, I can set it up every June and pack it up by mid-September. I like that it’s not a huge commitment; I only have to look after it when I’m actually using it, and I don’t have to perform a labor-intensive bimonthly cleaning for the entire year. I like that it’s small – but still large enough that I can float around on an inflatable ring and catch up on some reading.

Pool Maintenance

Having your very own pool can be incredibly rewarding, but it doesn’t come without its share of responsibilities. You need to sanitize the water every single day using chorine tabs and do a partial water change every two weeks. You also need to get ahead of the pesky algae by using an algaecide solution weekly. Perhaps the most important thing that you’ll need to buy is the pool pump. It’s what circulates and filters the water, keeping it clean and fresh. Be sure to take some extra time, in the beginning, to make sure the pump is functioning properly. Otherwise, it might completely overturn your summer plans! Another thing newbie pool owners might not be aware of is the importance of a heater. If you think the atomic power of the sun is enough to heat the entire pool up on its own, you’re in for a chilly dip! We’re talking about tens of thousands of liters of water; by the time the sun completely heats all of that up, you’ll only have a couple of precious hours of daylight left. The best above ground pool heater is one that is easy to operate and that does its job very quickly. No one wants to cramp up in the freezing cold water, waiting for the heater to finally start working. Stay warm and happy soaking!

Care for Your Canine

Puppy Love

Dogs are the best pets! Ok, I might be a bit biased, but no one can deny that coming home to the rushed excitement of their zoomies is the most amazing feeling ever! You slide your key in and you can already hear their little paws clicking impatiently, and, though you can’t see it, you know their tail is wagging out of control! As soon as you open the door, they explode in a tornado of kisses and jumps. The thought of coming home to their love and affection makes each day go by easier. The second best thing about owning a dog is getting to enjoy their energy. Going on long walks helps you get your exercise in while bonding with your best buddy. Playing fetch is as pleasant for you as it is enriching for your dog. Sharing your life with an animal can help lessen feelings of loneliness, and the physical exercise strengthens your immune system and helps keep your body healthy. However, even the best things in life come with sacrifices. Maybe the most significant drawback to owning a dog is that it ties you to your home. Holidays, short trips, or traveling the world – not quite as accessible to those of us who own pets. You can pay for a pet-sitter, but make sure you know that person well! You don’t want to entrust a total stranger with the life of a member of your family. While dogs do have a hyperactive nature that is contagious at times, you really have to be careful how you balance it out. No matter how much we love them, we have to show our puppies that they are not the ones running the show. We have to impose boundaries and stick to them no matter what. Dogs are highly intelligent creatures: they like to make the most out of every opportunity. You need to learn to have eyes in the back of your head! Dogs are highly intelligent creatures

A Helping Hand

The two things every dog should have are freedom and boundaries. Without freedom, they’ll feel stuck, miserable and unstimulated. However, give them too much power, and you run the risk of losing them. It’s difficult to find the right balance, but I can tell you of a few tools that have really helped me out. First, if you’re fortunate enough to have a backyard, get a dog door. There are countless possibilities, from plastic to wood to glass and you can opt for a sliding one or one that has a simple flap for easy access into the house. Some of the best dog doors even come with a microchip reader, so your neighbors’ pets won’t slowly invade your house. Hope your dog enjoys the high-tech entryway you’ve installed for them! When it comes to setting rules for your dogs, I would highly recommend not letting them set foot into the kitchen. Once they get a taste of the wonderful world of dropped chicken nuggets and leftover snatching, you’ll be in for a long barking recital at dinner. In order to shut them up and keep them out, consider investing in dog gates. They work a lot like baby gates, so they’ll make sure your 4-legged friend knows his place. The perfect balance!

What can you do with the Dremel rotary tool

The Dremel multi-purpose rotary tool is the staple tool of many toolboxes worldwide. It achieved its deserved fame due to the unimaginable versatility. The only thing limiting the Dremel rotary tool is the number of attachments and there are hundreds of them. The Dremel company was the one who originally came up with the concept of a rotary tool and they are still the best at what they do.

Powered by a small rotating engine, the Dremel rotary tool is a handheld machine that can be easily used by anyone. It has various uses and going over all of them would take forever but here we will describe some of the most common ones.


You can easily sand large surfaces using the Dremel rotary tool. The process is much easier than sanding with sandpaper and isn’t as tiring. You will notice the difference when after a day of work there will be no muscle pain in your arms. For sanding with the Dremel rotary tool you will need appropriate sanding bits, i.e. a drum and a sanding band. The sanding band is covered by sandpaper-like material and comes in different grits. The coarse grit is used to even out large indentions and shape the material while the fine grit finishes off the sanding process and makes the surface completely smooth.


This one might not be so intuitive but the Dremel rotary tool can actually be used for cutting various surfaces. To do so, you will need to purchase additional Dremel metal cutting wheels. They are often made from stainless steel so that they are able to cut even through the hardest metals. You can also use it on wood, aluminum, and plastics. These Dremel metal cutting wheels are an excellent tool for many DIY home projects.


You can use sharpening stone attachments to grind and sharpen various tools and knives or shape such items as bathroom tiles. You will need to remember, however, to choose the proper attachment for the material you are intending to grind. The grinding stones are available in two common materials: hard green silicon carbide bits and slightly softer orange aluminum oxide. Both can be used for grinding glass or ceramic tiles, but for steel you should only use the orange ones. The green stones are perfect for grinding aluminum.


The Dremel rotary tool can also be used for decorative purposes. Due to its small size, it is easy to control and is perfect for completing jobs that require precision. There are several different attachments meant to be used for engraving and carving that come in various designs. They can be used on wood, metal, and glass surfaces to add your personal touch to any project you are working on. Any craftsman will be happy to receive these engraving bits as a gift. And because they are so easy to use even people who don’t work with power tools very often will have no trouble using this Dremel tool.

No boil starters

So there is no argument, most everyone will agree that a proper yeast count will yield a healthy fermentation, which will lead to proper attenuation as well as yeast performing in a comfortable lower stress environment. This equates to the most accurate flavor profile of your beer. Some may say that underpitching stresses the yeast and leads to a different, sometimes desirable flavor (some Belgian practices), however at the homebrewing level I can’t see a way to regulate this. That being said it is very hard to “over-pitch” your yeast when you look at the optimal pitching rates. The hobbyist go to cheat sheet http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html is very accurate and makes the adjustments necessary for how much yeast is needed.

Without getting into a long winded discussion on starter techniques and efficiencies, there are a couple things all starters must possess: a sugar/malt concentration of 1.030 to 1.045 gravity, and a sterile environment. Both of these can be accomplished in many different ways, but most will include an addition of Dried Malt Extract (DME) to healthy water and then a boil for solubility and to sanitize everything that your yeast will be in contact with.

If most are like me, different methods have been tried to minimize transferring from pot to starter vessel with varying advantages. If you boil in a pot much larger than your starter/fermenter, you will need to transfer from the boiling pot, after cooled to the new vessel, possible contamination, but little chance of boilover. If you boil in a heat safe starter/fermenter like an Erlenmeyer flask, there is less contamination chances but a high risk of boilover. If your starter requires large capacity say 3-4 quarts, a very large flask is necessary but becomes expensive, and still needs to have a hawkeye kept on it throughout the boil to avoid a messy mishap. A compromise may be the necessary solution.

My solution is to use sanitary ingredients in a sanitary container. My vessel of choice is Carlo and Rossi’s 1 gallon wine jugs. Either dump the wine out (yeah right) or use it as you wish, but when empty give it a good PBW (powdered brewer’s wash) soak and then fill with sanitizer. When you are ready to build your starter just dump out your sanitizer (no rinse preferable) and swish to rinse it clean with a cup or so of distilled water. If I need a huge starter 1-2 gallons, I just split my yeast/slurry into 2 of these jugs. You can buy glass 1 gallon jugs at many places for around $5, I like to pay the extra $5 and get some wine out of it. Any other clean and sanitized container will work, I happen to find these the best. A screw cap top is also great and allows you to shake things up periodically safely, then the cap can be loosened to allow for escaping CO2.

Now we need some contents. Malto Goya can be purchased at most mega-marts. Mine sells them for $.40 per bottle. The drink is a sanitary malt beverage that holds a gravity of about 1.075. I dillute it with distilled water at the rate of 1 12oz bottle to 1 cup of distilled water. This provides you with a starter wort of a 1.040 gravity.

Most of the time I build 3 quart starters. To do this I open 5 bottles of the Malto, sanitize the top with some spray no rinse, then dump it into my sanitized jug. There is a small amount of bottled CO2 (not really carbonated) so when you first pour in it will have a foamy head. Swish it around to degas it and wait a few minutes, once the head dies down it will not come back up, then add your distilled water to desired solution, (I usually pour a little extra to get a 1.035 wort less yeast stress). Then add your yeast. Simple as that!

I have done this method many times and have always had normal starter activity and the yeast settles out fine. There is one caveat- if you pitch the whole starter without chilling and decanting, the malto may add 1-2 SRM to the finished color of your beer. It would be up to you to decide if that is acceptable. I pitch the whole thing into stouts, porters even darker IPA’s, but for belgians and beers I try to pay attention to color, I choose to chill for a day and decant off the spent wort.

If you are using specific equipment and have a routine down that is fool/fail proof, then good for you. I on the other hand was able to accomplish a boilover regularly and cursed out the day of the week when I would need to make my starter wort, chill, clean off the stove, etc. Now it is pretty pain free and costs about $2.50 each time. This is a necessary pre brewday task that I do not mind doing anymore. Hope this little tip is helpful and can save you time and money in the future- for more beer!


german style pretzels?

I know this is not a pretzel recipe but it sounded like a majority of you will like this recipe.

Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup
12 ounces bock beer
8 slices bacon
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, minced
1/4 cup sweet red peppers, minced
1 (10 1/2 ounce) can condensed chicken broth
1/4 cup flour
1 cup half-and-half
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper

Open beer and let stand while dicing vegetables. Saute bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble. In large soup kettle, saute vegetables in two tablespoon of bacon grease until soft. Add chicken broth. Fill chicken can with beer and add to mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.

Pour remaining beer into a small mixing bowl and whisk in flour. Gradually add to broth, stirring constantly, till thick. Add half and half, bacon and cheese. Heat until cheese melts. Stir in sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste

All Grain Brewing for the New Home Brewer

Most home brewers start brewing using extract recipes, starter kits, or even systems like Mr. Beer. For those who find that they enjoy the hobby, it is natural to want to explore brewing further. Inevitably, a home brewer will consider trying an all-grain recipe. But the transition from extract brewing to all-grain brewing can be an intimidating step. There is new language, new methods, and new equipment.

But there is no reason to worry. All grain brewing is not as complicated as it may sound, and the equipment can be obtained without spending fortune. This article will look at the basics of all grain brewing, waht you need, and how to brew your first batch of beer – all grain style.


In order to take off the training wheels and move on to the method that serious homebrewers and commercial breweries use, you will need some preliminary equipment, all of which you can build fairly cheap.

  • A Mash Tun – The most popular method is using a cooler, generally at least 48 qts (approximately 12 US gallons), but the bigger, the better. If you plan on doing large batches down the road, a 54 qt or larger is a good idea. While you can go smaller than 48 qts, it is not recommended. I started with an 8 gallon bucket (34 qts), but once I upgraded to 10 gallon batches, it was barely enough to hold everything.

    There are already plenty of good resources online on how to build a mash tun, so I don’t see the need to rehash it. Building these are very easy. I have included three tutorials below, or you can simply search for ‘mash tun’ on Google to find more tutorials:

    • How to Build Your Own Mash Tun
    • How to Make a Mash Tun
    • A 100 Quart Mash Tun
  • A Large Stainless Steel Pot – While you are likely to already have one for extract brewing, you will want a minimum of 6 gallons in order to brew all grain, although 7 gallons is better. If you have to use two pots to get the capacity, that is perfectly fine. With extract, you simply boil 1.5 to 2.5 gallons of water then top up the fermenter. Not so with all grain. You are boiling the full amount of wort. Enamel coated aluminum works as well, but stainless steel is much better and will last a lifetime if properly maintained.

  • An Extra Plastic Bucket (optional) – You might also want an extra plastic bucket or large capacity pot to catch the run off during sparge (explained later). While this is not required, I use this for my setup since I don’t have many brew kettles. I use my kettles for strike, sparge, and boiling (these terms will be explained in detail later), which altogether does not have all the capacity I need to hold water, run off, and boil the wort. Therefore, an extra pot never hurts.

The Process

There is no quick and dirty way to brew all-grain, you are in for the long-haul! Brewing all grain will add more hours to your brew day, but you will find you have complete control over the recipe, and it is almost always cheaper than extract.

The Grains

The main difference between extract brewing and all grain brewing is that rather than using various extract ingredients, we replace the extracts with grain equivalents. For example, an extract recipe might look like this:

– 4 pounds Brand X pale extract
– 3 pounds Brand Y wheat extract
– 1 oz Cascade hops for 60 minutes
– 1 oz Halletauer hops for 5 minutes

Likewise, an all grain recipe might be the following:

– 9 pounds pale 2 row malt (grain)
– 1/2 pound crystal 20L (grain)
– 1/2 pound munich (grain)
– 1 oz Willamette hops for 60 minutes
– 1 oz Mt Hood for 6 minutes

Grain comes in many varieties. Pale 2 and 6 row, munich, victory, vienne, carapils, crystal 10L – 135L (L = lovibond), chocolate, roasted, melnoidin, biscuit, aromatic, and many others. Briess, Great Western, Maris Otter, and Hugh Baird are just some of the manufacturers. Rather than discussing all the differences between the malt, I recommend checking outthe company websites for further detail.

When you buy grain at the homebrew shop, there will be a grain mill there which you use to crack the grain, which exposes the kernel, seperates the husk which will act as a filter, and allows the fermentable sugars to be extracted during the mash. With the all grain recipe given above, you would weigh out and crack all 10 pounds of grain, then put them into bags, spearate or all together.

Your First All Grain Mash

Before you start, you must first decide on what temperature you wish to mash the grain. Without going into detail about step mashing, protein rests, and so forth (that is a bit beyond the scope of this article), the common temperatures tend to be 140° – 150° F, which results in a lighter bodied beer, but also has more fermentable sugars. 150° – 160° F results in a heavier body, but fewer sugars. This is why you commonly see mash temperatures of 150° – 152° F, right about the middle, the best of both worlds. A light body beer is common for summer, whereas heavy body beers are great for winter. These are not hard and fast rules, though. There are ways to mash at a lower temperature, such as 145° F, but use a malt such as dextrin malt which adds body. These are all things that you can learn about over time.

For our first beer, let’s pick 152° F as our strike (also called ‘dough in’ temperature). What we need to do is pre-heat water to “strike in” with. Strike water is used to mix in with the grist at a specific temperature and stays insulated for at least one hour.

But how much water should we use to strike in with? There is a simple way to figure this out. For every pound of grain you have, multiply this by anywhere from 32 oz of water to 40 oz of water. This is the equivalent of 1qt to 1 1/8 qt. For example, if you have 12 punds of grain, and if you use 32 oz of water:

12 pounds of grain x 32 oz of water = 384 oz

So 384 oz of water will be used. Let’s convert that to gallons which is easier to deal with. There are 128 ozs in a gallon. Take 384, divide by 128 (the number of ounces in a gallon), and we end up with 3 gallons of water.

An aside: You can simplify this even more by using quarts rather than ounces. Since a quart is 32 ounces, this means that we need just one quart of water per pound of grain (assuming that we are using 32 ounces per pound of grain). Since in this example we have 12 pounds of grain, that means we need 12 quarts of water.

Although our calculation came out to 3 gallons of water, you will want to heat ( not boil) at least an extra gallon, partially due to evaporation. If you only heat the amount that you need, you will run out. I usually heat 1 – 2 extra gallons. Having some left over is fine.

In this case we need 3 gallons, but to be safe, we’ll heat 4 gallons. Remember the temperature that we want in this session is 152° F. However, when you transfer water into the mash tun, and grain absorbs it, you are going to lose some of that heat. You need to heat the water over the strike temperature. I recommend at least 15 degrees, although 20-22 is probably safer. So start heating your strike water to about 172° F. You need not be exact with the temperatures. If you find it is 170° or 174°, that is fine. A few degrees off is fine, but significant differences are not.

One word of caution: your mash tun vessel will determine how much higher your temperature should be, be it a bucket, cooler, or otherwise. Sometimes 15° over is enough, other times 20° over is barely enough. There is no straight answer. You have to experiement. If in doubt, heat your water to roughly 22° over your target temperature, you can always add cold water if need be. I will explain this trick soon.

Let’s take a quick inventory of where we are:

  • Your mash tun should be clean, sanitized and ready to go. No grain in it yet.
  • You should have enough water using the calculation given above (number of pounds of grain x 32 oz – 40 oz of water and an extra gallon to account for evaporation)
  • Of course you should have your grist.
  • Your water should be heated to the correct temperature (somewhere between 170° – 174°). If you are way over the limit, add some cold water – we don’t want to be that far away from our target temperature.

Time to Mash!

From the information above, we know that we need 12 quarts of water for our grain. Start by dumping roughly 7 or 8 quarts of water to pre-heat your mash tun. Why only 7 or 8 quarts? Because we may need to adjust the temperature, and if we need to bring the temperature down, we can’t just endlessly add water. So pour in some water as described, and then start pouring in the grain. It is best to dump in all the grain at once. The grains will probably not be entirely covered with water, but that is fine, we aren’t done yet.

Now start stirring! Be very fast and stir vigorously with your long handled spoon! Keep stirring! Put some muscle into it! Remember, the heat from the water is dissipating quickly, so give it a good hard stir for about 15 – 30 seconds, close up the lid, and leave just enough room for a temperature reading. Let it even out, don’t assume it is immediately accurate.

Why is a rigorous stir so important? Because if you don’t mix the grain and the water very well, you will get dough balls. In other words, you won’t get maximum exposure of grist to water. Some fermentable sugars will be lost and your gravity will suffer.

Is the temperature off? If its about 10 degrees or less too cold, remember, we still have 4+ more quarts of water to add. Go ahead and add 2 quarts, stir well, and check it again. Remember, keep the lid closed as best as possible. We still have a few quarts left. If the temperature is still too low go ahead and add the rest of the hot water, stir, and check.Still too hot? Add a little more cold water.

If the temperature we want is 152° and you reach 149° – 155°, that should be fine. Hitting the exact temperature can be challenging, but close enough is usually good enough. The important thing here is to be quick, but don’t throw everything together.

Now that you have hit your temperature (or close enough), its time to wait! Set your timer for 60 minutes and let the mashing begin! As long as your tun is insulated (coolers have good insulation), just walk off and have a homebrew. We will come back later. Some recipes call for a 75 – 90 minute mash, which is acceptable. However, most call for a standard 60 minute mash.

Heating Your Sparge Water

At this point you need to begin heating sparge (rinse) water. To determine how much water we need, we take 64 oz (half gallon) x the number of pounds of grain. In this case, 64 oz x 12 pounds = 768 oz total, which comes out to 6 gallons (remember, 128 oz = 1 gallon). Again, heat an extra 1 or 2 gallons to allow for evaporation.

You should begin heating this water as soon as the mash begins. The purpose of sparge water is to rinse the sweet fermentable sugars from the grain once the mashing is complete.

The temperature needs to be 170° F. While there is some room for leniency, there isn’t much. I aim for 168° – 173°. The reason this temperature is so important is that it stops enzyme activity; it stops the conversion of starches to sugars and allows them to be rinsed. Too low, enzymes are still working. Too high, you will extract tannins which can cause haze and off flavors.


Is the hour up? Good. Is your sparge water heated to 170°? We are ready to sparge!

Note: If the sparge water is taking a little bit longer to heat up, it is acceptable to let your mash run an extra 10-15 minutes while the water gets to the correct temperature.

Rinsing the grain is known as sparging. Open your mash tun – it should smell great! Now we want to slowly rinse the grain with the pre-heated water. You may want to put a strainer or something like it over the grain bed. We must avoid pouring the water directly onto the grain otherwise the grain will create ‘channels’ (think of drilling holes), and the sparge water will fail to extract much sugars. So take a cup, pitcher, or something similar, and start slowly and evenly pouring the water onto the grain bed, preferably through the straining device. You ideally want 1″ – 2″ of water covering the grain, although a little more is fine.

A quick word on straining: You technically don’t need one, but the water must be poured on very softly and avoid direct contact with the grain. I heard of one person filling a plastic butter tub, sealing it, setting it on top of the grain bed, and letting the water hit that and sprinkle off. It worked!

Remember, sparging is not a race! Take your time, you want a nice, gentle but fairly consistent shower of water over the grain bed. Don’t be in a hurry. A sparge may take you anywhere from a half an hour to an hour.

This type of sparging is called fly (or continuous) sparging. There is another type called batch, which is very different and not covered here. Both are good in their own respects, but I prefer the fly method.

Do you have 1-2″ of water over the grain bed? Good. Now start slowly draining the mash tun water into your bucket, or whatever vessel you have. You want the same amount coming out as you have sparging in. Both should be a nice slow rain effect. I cannot stress this enough, we are not in a hurry here, so take your time. I say this over and over because I have watched people sparging like it has to be done in 10 minutes. My fastest sparge ever was 35 minutes.

Important Step: As the runoff is coming out of the spigot, you will want to collect the first half gallon and slowly recycle that back into the mash tun, just like you were adding the water. This contains grain husks and tannins, nothing you want in your beer. So slowly pour this first runoof (called vorlauf) back into the mash tun, then continue your nice, slow sparging as described earlier. If you go over a half gallon, or even forget this step, life will continue, but try to remember it next time.

How much runoff do you want? At least 6 gallons, although I aim for 6.5 to 7 gallons of runoff. When you start draining the mash tun, it is likely that the color will be dark (depending on what grain was used) as this water is full of sugars. As you continue to collect it, the color will get lighter which means more plain water and less fermentable sugars are being drained. It is recommended that you periodically take samples of the runoff and take a gravity test. Once you reach 1.008 to 1.010 with your runoff, stop collecting it. I have gone lower myself. In some cases, I only had 5.5 gallons of mash water and my gravity was around 1.004. As you get better at all grain brewing, you will know how far you can go with your mash water to get the results you want. It just takes practice.

Some additional information about extract and all grain. With extract brewing, typically you boil 1.5 gallons to 2.5 gallons of water, mix in the extract, cool it down, pour into a fermenter, and top it up to 5 gallons. Why not here? Because extract is concentrated, this is not. We need to get 100% of our water from the mash tun. We do not top up the fermenter after the boil like extract brewers do. So why do we need the 6.5 to 7 gallons? The fermember is only 5 gallons! Well, after we collect what we need, the next step is to boil the entire amount for a full boil. You will lose wort. It is not uncommon to lose over a gallon during the boiling process. If you only have 5 gallons to begin with, you will only have about 4 after the boil. This is why we need at least an extra gallon.

Once the sparging is complete, you should have 6 gallons (or more) of mash water. Pour ALL of this into the kettle. If you don’t have a 6+ gallon kettle, substitute two smaller kettles. Now you need to boil the entire amount for a full hour.

The Rest of the Process

At this point, you simply add the hops when the recipe describes once your wort is boiling. If the recipe calls for hops at 60, 30, and 5 minutes, just add the hops at the appropriate times. Once the boil is finished, shut off the boil, cool it down to under 80° F, siphon into the fermenter, and pitch the yeast. Don’t forget to check the original gravity before putting it away!


I have not covered every single detail, but I have covered a great deal of information in this tutorial. The deal is, all grain can be explained in a simple fashion, but that can always bring up dozens of questions. Why this temperature? Why sparge? Do I stir the mash? Can I fluctuate temperatures? I felt it was necessary to give more detail.

Yes there is a large amount of information to remember here, but I promise, the more all grain brews you make, the sooner you will be able to do this in your sleep. When I first began, I was so worried about every little step – don’t be. Do your best and let science do the rest. If the first few batches turn out less than expected, that’s alright, you are learning. Keep practicing, make more beer, and learn from your errors. We were all there once!


Mack and Jacks African Amber clone

One of the reasons that I started homebrewing is this beer. Beautiful Octoberfest like color, great session beer, although the abv is over 5%, I always had at least 4 of them at a sitting. My brother lives in seattle, and after 10 years of waiting for him to send me some in Massachusetts, I decided to make my own. I found this recipe on another site, and didn’t see it here, so I thought I post. It’s the byo version.

Mac & Jack?s African Amber (BYO, 3-4/2002, p. 18

Extract (with All grain option); 5 gallons; OG = 1.060; FG = 1.018; IBUs = 38; ABV = 5.5%

6.6 lbs Muntons light malt extract syrup
0.5 lbs Muntons light dry malt extract
1.0 lb Munich malt
0.5 lbs crystal 80
0.5 lbs carapils (dextrin) malt
9.3 AAU Centennial hops (1 oz @ 9.3% alpha) for 60 min
6.2 AAU Cascade hops (0.75 oz @ 8.3% alpha) for 2 min
4.2 AAU Cascade hops (0.5 oz @ 8.3% alpha) dry hopping
1 tsp Irish moss

White Labs WLP005 (British Ale) or Wyeast 1098 (British Ale) yeast 0.75 cups corn sugar for priming

Steep crushed malts in three gallons 150F water for 30 min. Remove grains. Add malt syrup and malt powder and bring to a boil. Add Centennial hops and Irish moss and boil for 60 min. Add Cascade aroma hops for last two min of boil.
When done boiling, strain out hops, add the wort to two gallons of cool water in sanitary fermenter, top off with cool water to 5.5 gal. Cool wort to 80F, aerate, and pitch yeast. Allow beer to cool over next few hours to 68-70F and ferment for 10-14 days. Add 0.5 oz Cascade pellets to dry hop your beer for five to seven days, the bottle. Pellet hops work well when dry hopping this beer.

Replace extract with 9 lbs British pale malt. Mash all grains at 155F for 45 min. Collect enough wort to boil for 90 min and have 5.5 gal yield. Decrease Centennial to 0.75 oz. Rest of recipe is same.

I did a few thing different, I couldn’t get centennial, so I used 1.5 oz Cascade for the bittering. I added the irish moss at 10minutes. and I used the Wyeast 1056 American ale Instead of the british Ale. That’s all they had at the LHBS, I hope it doesn’t make that much difference, because I love this beer. Also, I’m not going to dry hop, because, well because I really don’t like to, I added an ounce of Cascade at 30 min, and a half ounce of Cascade at flame out. I got an OG of 1.057

Vanilla Bourbon Porter

Recipe by Denny Conn:

Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Grain/Extract/Sugar % Amount Name Origin Potential SRM

64.7 11.00 lbs. Pale Malt(2-row) America 1.036 2
8.8 1.50 lbs. Brown Malt Great Britain 1.032 70
14.7 2.50 lbs. Munich Malt(2-row) America 1.035 10
5.9 1.00 lbs. Crystal 120L America 1.034 120
2.9 0.50 lbs. Crystal 60L America 1.034 40
2.9 1.25 lbs. Chocolate Malt America 1.029 350
Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.


Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time, 0.80 oz. Magnum Whole 14.60 32.0 60 min.

0.50 oz. Goldings – E.K. Whole 4.75 2.4 10 min.

Amount Name Type Time

1.00 Tsp Irish Moss Fining 15 Min.(boil)


WYeast 1056 Amercan Ale/Chico

Mash Schedule

Mash Name :
WYeast 1056 Amercan Ale/Chico
Total Grain LBS : 17.00
Grain Temp : 63.00 F
Total Water QTS : 23.00 – Before Additional Infusions
Total Water GAL : 5.75
Tun Thermal Mass : 0.00

Step Rest Start Stop Direct/ Infuse Infuse Infuse
Step Name Time Time Temp Temp Infuse Temp Amount Ratio
sacc 0 60 154 154 Infuse 167 23.00 1.35

Total Water QTS : 23.00 – After Additional Infusions
Total Water GAL : 5.75 – After Additional Infusions
All temperature measurements are degrees Fahrenheit.
All infusion amounts are in quarts.


After primary, slit open 2 vanilla beans. Scrape the insides, chop the pods into quarters, add to secondary fermenter, rack beer onto vanilla. Taste periodically for the correct balance. I left the beer in secondary for 11 days. Rack to bottling bucket and add 10 ml. per pint of Jim Beam Black Bourbon (or to your taste). Bottle, enjoy!

Recipe by Denny Conn

Whirlfloc vs Irish Moss

Opinions about either? Do you use one over the other?

I use Irish moss in the kettle.  I want to try whirlfolc tabs, but I bought a few ounces of irish moss a while back.  I am almost done with the irish moss and was going to purchase a batch or two worths of whirlfloc. I also have never re-hydrated my irish moss prior to adding it to the kettle I have heard that improves its results as a clarifier.

I tend to do a 90min boil so that helps a lot with clarity anyway.


I haven’t used either, so I’d be interested to see peoples opinions.  My first brew was pretty basic, so I didn’t think about it.  My second was a wheat ale, and that’s supposed to be hazy.  Both came out all right without it, but there are a few I’d like to throw some in for……

I’ve used both….I have Irish Moss on hand and sometimes if I order a kit it comes with the Whirlfloc tabs. I’ve noticed no real difference in the two, more just a personal preference…..here is some specs on it. It seems to be just a processed Irish Moss product. The rehydrating thing is something I’ve seen also….might have to give it a go…..

Product Data Sheet
Product Name: Whirlfloc BWS
Product Code: 5B06797
Date Printed: November 09, 2004

General Description

WHIRLFLOC BWS is an Irish Moss based kettle coagulant designed to increase both hot and cold breaks in the wort.
Because the carrageenan present in the Irish Moss helps remove colloidal material which would otherwise be
present in the beer, the beneficial effects of WHIRLFOC B are also observed in the fermented beer.


WHIRLFLOC BWS was developed not only to increase clarity in wort and beer but also to help increase the
compactness of the hot break of the wort.
Studies have shown that improved wort clarity with WHIRLFLOC BWS leads to a cleaner fermentation and markedly easier filtration of the beer after it is fermented.

WHIRLFLOC BWS is classified as a processing aid for beer production. It reacts with colloidal, haze promoting
material in the wort and is removed with this material by settling or filtration before the beer is finished and packaged. It does not remain in the beer.


Appearance : Free flowing tan powder
Aroma : Slight seashore aroma
Solubility : Almost completely soluble in hot water

Legal Status

The ingredients in WHIRLFLOC BWS are appoved for use in brewing and are listed in the Adjunct Reference

Manual of the United Sates Beer Institute. It contains the following components:

Irish Moss

Sodium bicarbonate E500
Carrageenan E407

Local food regulations should always be consulted with respect to specific applications and necessary declarations.
Legislation may vary from country to country.


In unopened original Kerry Bio-Science packaging, WHIRLFLOC BWS has a shelf-life of 24 months from date of
manufacture. Store in cool, dry conditions (5oC – 20oC). Product stored longer than recommended shelf-life should be retested before use, to confirm quality. Kerry Bio-Science will be happy to perform this function and/or send details of the assay procedure to be used.


WHIRLFLOC BWS is supplied in 50kg polyethylene-lined fiber drums. Product Data Sheet Whirlfloc BWS (5B06797) Page 1 of 2 ©2004 Kerry Bio-Science: a member of the Kerry group of companies. www.kerrygroup.com


Thanks for the technicals on whirlfloc.  I was going to do a search but….no I don’t have too. i use loose irish moss since i can buy a crap ton of it in bulk for wicked cheap. the tabs are more expensive and are the same thing anyway, so i don’t bother.

i have never rehydrated the moss, may have to try it and see if it is more effective that way.I had only recently heard of rehydrating the Irish moss.  Supposedly it is more effective that way.  Some people like the tablets because the irish moss component in them is ground up, so it hydrates itself quicker in the pot…

I plan to try the rehydration thing sometime too, if I remember when I am brewing. I have been using Supermoss, 1/2 tsp to 5gal, and put it into the wort I pull out for my pre-boil gravity. I take the draw that I put in my hydrometer into the fridge,cool down for a half hour hydratre the supermoss, then add it back to the boil fifteen min before flameout. It kind of works like a roux in cooking, never want to add it directly to hot or it will clump up and you will not get a dissolved effect. My last IPA came out crystal clear and that was after dryhopping.

so far i’ve only used Irish Moss, i do want to try the tabs but i have a boat load of moss to go through

thirsty wrote:

I have been using Supermoss, 1/2 tsp to 5gal, and put it into the wort I pull out for my pre-boil gravity. I take the draw that I put in my hydrometer into the fridge,cool down for a half hour hydratre the supermoss, then add it back to the boil fifteen min before flameout. It kind of works like a roux in cooking, never want to add it directly to hot or it will clump up and you will not get a dissolved effect. My last IPA came out crystal clear and that was after dryhopping.

I hadn’t thought of using the pre-boil sample… good tip thanks.

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