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Weird Alcoholic Drinks You Can Brew At Home


If you are on this website, you probably enjoy having a beer or two.  You may even homebrew your own beer or weird alcoholic drinks at home.  Booze has been a major piece of human existence for thousands of years.  People literally fermented and still ferment anything to create an alcoholic beverage.  It was even safer to drink than water.  In some parts of the world, that is still the case.  Check out these awesome fermented beverages from around that world that are unique and somewhat easy to create in your own home.  Put something different in one of those empty carboys or gallon jugs.  Some of these recipes are tweaked to be more brew friendly and yeast options can be changed to your preference.  I hope you enjoy these weird alcoholic drinks that you can brew.  Cheers!


T’ej (Ethiopia)

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T’ej is a honey wine (mead) that has been brewed in Ethiopia for centuries.  It is bittered with gesho leaves and twigs.  Gesho is kind of like a hop and falls into the buckthorn family.  The gesho also gives it a unique direction of flavor.  T’ej is usually homebrewed in Ethiopia.  However,  there are tej betoch (Tej houses) throughout the country.  Traditionally, it is served in a berele container but a pint would be just fine.  It is best served chilled and goes well with spicy food.  This is one of the more delicious weird alcoholic drinks that can be brewed at home.

Recipe (1 gallon)(ABV 8-12%):
32 oz of honey
96 oz filtered water (you don’t want chlorine flavors!) 
8 oz of ground gesho leaves 
4 oz of gesho sticks

1/4 tsp of Lalvin D-47 yeast (it will make your T’ej happier) 

  1. Mix and let stand at room temperature for three days. 
  2. Take about 6 cups of the mixture and bring to a boil with the gesho.  
  3. Cook for 15 minutes in low heat. Let cool and add to the mixtures.
  4. Move to a sanitized sealed container and pitch the proper amount of yeast.  
  5. Now leave at room temperature for 15-21 days.  
  6. If too dry, add a cup of honey and leave over night. If too sweet, add more gesho directly into the mixture and let it ferment more.
  7. Strain and serve cold. 

Sima (Findland)

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Sima is the official drink of spring in Finland.  This sparkling beverage is brewed to celebrate the 1st of May.  They know this as the coming of the warm season.  It is very easy to make and usually served with a funnel cake.  How can you go wrong with that?  It is refreshing and very drinkable.  Actually, the children drink it in Finland if it is poured before the raisins float to the top.

Recipe (1 gallon)(ABV 1-2%):
1 gallon of water
2 lemons
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 white sugar
1/4 tsp of yeast (Lalvin D-47 yeast works great)
*You can also add some citra hops leaves at the end of your boil for a nice addition.

  1. Bring the water to a boil.  
  2. While you are waiting for the water to boil, removed the skin of the lemons with a potato peeler.  
  3. Place these in a sanitized container.  
  4. Next, clean up the lemons by removing any remaining skin.  
  5. Slice the lemons and combine the skin and sliced lemons in a container along with the brown and white sugars.
  6. After  the water comes to a boil, pour it into a container with the lemons and sugar.
  7. Let cool to 70-75 degrees, then stir in the yeast.
  8. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours, or until you see bubbles forming at the surface.
  1. Strain the liquid into clean and sanitized glass bottles.  
  2. Add 5  raisins and 1 tsp. sugar to each bottle of Sima.  
  3. Seal the bottles and refrigerate for 3-5 days.  Or just looks for the raising to start floating to the top.  
  4. It is probably around 1% ABV at this point.  If you want a higher ABV, let the Sima sit for another 3-5 days or add more sugars.

Be careful of exploding bottles if you bump up the fermentables.  You know what can happen.

Kvass (Russia & Ukraine)

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Kvass is a fermented beverage popular in Russia and Ukraine.  It is also popular in most of the former Soviet states.  It is made from rye or black bread, sugar, and yeast.  The breads give it the color and it is often flavored with raisins, mint, and other adjuncts.  Kvass has been a popular drink in Russia for thousands of years.  It was first mentioned in written form in the year 996.  However, this beverage was consumed many years before.

Recipe (3 gallons)(ABV 1-2%):
3 gallons of water
10 slices of rye, dark, or black bread
1 cup of raisins
4 cups of sugar
1.5 tablespoons of yeast (Lalvin D-47 yeast works great)

DAY 1: (try to do part 1 in the evening)

  1. Toast the bread slices twice on the highest setting on your toaster. The darker the bread…the darker the kvass.  Your house may get stanky!  Toast in open air.
  2. Fill a large pot with 3 gallons of water and bring to a boil.
  3. When the boil starts, remove the pot from heat. Add raisins and toasted bread to the pot, cover with the lid and let it rest overnight.

DAY 2:

  1. Carefully remove toasted bread and throw it away.  A strainer works well for this.
  2. In a medium sized sanitized bowl, mix together 4 cups of sugar and 1.5 Tbsp of yeast, add them to kvass while stirring.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and leave the mixture on the counter for another 6-8 hours, stirring every couple hours.
  4. Remove the floating raisins with a large spoon.
  5. Using strainer, pour the kvass into bottles (plastic work great), close with a lid and leave them in the fridge overnight.

The next day, crack open and enjoy!

Tepache (Mexico)

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Tepache is low abv fermented beverage from Mexico.  It is popular among street vendors and inmates in the Mexican prisons.  It dates back thousands of year to the Nahua people where it was usually made with a maize base.  Today, you can find it commercially produced in a non-alcoholic form.

(1 gallon)(ABV 1%):
1 pineapple cut into cubes and save the rinds
1 gallon of water
1lb piloncillo, or  1lb of dark brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
8oz light beer

  1. In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water along with the piloncillo/brown sugar, cinnamon stick, and the cloves.  Turn down the heat and let the piloncillo completely dissolve while simmering.
  2. Wash the pineapple, and cut it up into cubes about 1in squared.
  3. Add in the pineapple cubes and rinds to the 1 gallon of water.
  4. Transfer to a glass 1 gallon jug and cover the top with either an airlock or plastic wrap.  Let it sit for 2 days.
  5. After it starts to bubble, add 8oz of beer, stir, and let it sit for 12 hours more.  If you let it ferment too long, it will turn into vinegar.

You can also add a pinch of tobacco after 2 days to give it an extra kick.  When it is ready, strain through a very fine strainer or cheesecloth, and serve cold.  This stuff is great.

Basi (Philippines)

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 Basi is a fermented beverage made from sugarcane that has been popular in the Philippines and Guyana for many centuries.  It is stored and earthen jars and usually ferments for several years.  A Basi festival is held every year in Naguilian, La Union.  This is one of the more difficult of the weird alcoholic drinks to make at home.

Recipe (1 gallon)(ABV 10-12%):
4.5lbs Sugar cane (cubed)
1oz Ginger (bruised)
1 gallon Water
2.5lbs Sugar
8oz Raisins (chopped)
Yeast (Lalvin D-47 yeast) and yeast nutrient

  1. Put the sugar cubes into a large pot with the ginger and 1 gallon of water.
  2. Bring to the boil  and then simmer for 45 mins.
  3. Strain onto sugar and raisins in a glass jog and leave to cool.  
  4. When cool (70-75 degrees) add yeast and nutrient.  Leave for 4 or 5 days and stir daily.
  5. Strain to bottles and let ferment from 30 days and up to 2 years.

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What Are The Different Types Of Wort Chillers?

wort chillers

Choosing an efficient method to chill your wort is an important decision when brewing. To achieve excellent beer, you must bring the wort from a boil to the appropriate temperature to pitch yeast quickly. A wort chiller helps ensure a clearer beer, minimal off flavors, a reduced risk of contamination from airborne enemies, and a stress free end to your brew day.  If you are a stove top brewer, you can probably manage with an ice bath in the sink.  For those who have moved into all-grain brewing, you need to use a wort chiller to achieve a quick cool down.

There are many different types of wort chillers out on the market.  However, you have three main styles to choose from. An Immersion Chiller, Counterflow Chiller, or Plate Chiller. All do a great job, but here are the differences between the three.

Immersion Wort Chiller:

Most all-grain homebrewers start out with an immersion chiller. These are simply submerged into the wort while water is pumped through the coil and out of the other end. Cool water enters the coil and passes through the wort to bring the temperature down. They work great, but can reach a stalling point when your ground water temperature and wort temperature reach a similar range if you are not stirring. Stirring the wort around the coils helps cover more surface area and you’ll achieve good results with an immersion chiller.  Immersions are great for up to 5 gallon batches.  If you want to brew anything larger, I would recommend moving to a counterflow or plate chiller.  

Pros: Cheaper, Easy to Sanitize, No pump needed
Cons: Slower chilling speeds

Some people run with two immersion chillers and run the water through a second chiller that is placed in an ice bath.

Counterflow Wort Chiller:


A counterflow wort chiller is similar in visual design to an immersion chiller, but they function differently.  You will likely need a pump to use both counterflow and plate chillers.  A counterflow works by placing a coil inside of a surrounding hose or tube.  Picture a smaller tube inside of a slighter larger tube.  The hot wort is pumped through the inside tube while cool water is pumped in the opposite direction through the outside tube.  This results in the more surface area of the wort coming into contact with the cooling element (water) than an immersion chiller.  This will cool your wort much quicker.  It is also dependent on how cool your ground water is.  Ice baths may be needed.

Pros: Quick Chill, Sanitary
Cons: Price, Pump likely needed


Plate Wort Chiller:

A plate chiller works in the same way as the counterflow wort chiller by bringing more surface area of the wort into contact with the cool water.  This is done by passing the hot wort and cooler water through multiple plates within the chiller in separate chambers.  The plates have a large surface area resulting in a quick temperature drop.  Some people believe these pull some of the hot break into the fermentation vessel.  They also need to be cleaned immediately after use and thoroughly.  This should not be an issue for most and plate chillers are the preferred design for commercial brewers.

Pros: Quick Chill, Durable
Cons: Price, Cleaning, Pump likely needed

Or, you can just create a frankenstein chiller like I started out with here.  It is ugly, but has never failed me.  I still use it today for smaller batches.

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15 “Other” Hop Varieties You Must Try In A Homebrew

Hop Varieties

If you brew beer, ideas and recipes often pop into your head. There are few things more rewarding than a hop bill that fits together perfectly. Everyone knows about the Centennial, Cascade, Columbus, Citra, Simcoe, and many other mainstream hop varieties. These are all wonderful and make any ale outstanding. However, why not try some of the lesser known hop varieties that are way underrated. Did you know about Nelson Sauvin and its grape profile? Have you ever dry hopped with Apollo? On your next batch, try a hop that you have never used before! Here are 15 hop varieties you may or may not know about. Try one…or more of them. Your beer will love your for it.


Recently released in 2012, this is the grand baby of Pacific Jade.  It has a fresh squeezed citrus profile with hints of pine.  Waimea has high alpha acid levels and can be used as a bittering boss or an aroma phenom.

Buy Waimea Hops


A cross blend by Hopsteiner.  This is a dual purpose hop that works for both aroma and can also be used for bitterness.  It has a floral profile with a kick that some describe as melon, pear, or apple with a squeeze of lemon.

Buy Calypso Hops


This is a fairly new hop blend that most of us have heard about by now.  It was created to satisfy the West Coast Style aromas addicts like myself.  Citrus, tropical fruit, pine, and a little spice make this a serious player in the game.

Buy Zythos Hops


Falconer’s Flight
This is an amazing blend of Simcoe, Citra, Sorachi Ace, and a few other undisclosed hops.  HopUnion developed this blend to honor the legendary Glen Hay Falconer.  It is a perfect late addition packing a floral and tropical fruit profile.

Buy Falconer’s Flight Hops


This is a very unique creation by Washington’s hop breeding company.  If Nugget and Simcoe had a love child,  Mosaic would be her name.  It has an unexpected floral and fruity profile accompanied by the piney Simcoe DNA that shines through as an earthy addition. 

Buy Mosaic Hops


El Dorado
Developed by the CLS Farms and released in 2010, this masterpiece has mostly sat in the shadows with no excuse.  The blend is kept a guarded secret but I will tell you this one is blasted with citrus and tropical fruit.  I would best describe the flavor as a mouthful of Jolly Ranchers.

Buy El Dorado Hops


Nelson Sauvin
One of the most unique hops varieties available that can be used as a dual purpose.  It has an aroma and flavor similar to Sauvignon Blanc grapes and really balances out with most bittering hops.

Buy Nelson Sauvin Hops


Developed by Indie Hops out of Oregon in an attempt to bring Columbia Hops back from the forgotten tomb.  Well they ended up creating a new variety.  Meridian packs lemon zest, sweetness, and some describe it as Hawaiian Punch.

Buy Meridian Hops


Most of us have heard of Galaxy.  Have you tried brewing with this beauty from down under?  It is a very nice aroma gifted dual purpose hop loaded with citrus and fruity notes.  The uniqueness comes from the grassy/earthy finish.  Find it and try it!

Buy Galaxy Hops


This New Zealand creation that some refer to as B Saaz is a relative of the legendary Saaz hop that we all love in our pils and lagers.  It has a smooth citrus/fruity profile that adds a clean finish to any ale.  Motueka would fit well into the IPL fad that is currently working its way through the craft beer realm.

Buy Motueka Hops


Motueka has a little brother and his name is Riwaka.  This is also referred to as Saaz D.  If you have ever wondered what a west coast style Saaz would be like…here you go.  It is not an easy hop to locate.  However,  if you do find it,  buy it!

Buy Riwaka Hops


Developed by the Yakima Chief Ranch, this is a solid dual purpose hop that is better used on the aroma end.  It packs a grassy yet fruity punch unlike most hops.  Looking for a unique IPA?  Try it as a late addition and you will be surprised!

Buy Palisade Hops


Strickle what?  Another New Zealand hop developed by DSIR Research that can serve as a dual purpose hop.  Simcoe similarities of pine with a Sorachi Ace lemon zest.

Buy Stricklebract Hops


AU Summer
This is a seedless variety developed in Australia as an aroma hop.  Summer is one of only few hop varieties that pack a apricot and melon profile.  It would pair nicely with some of the popular west coast style American hops.

Buy AU Summer Hops


First cultivated in 2000, this totally underrated hop packs an alpha acid bite and an orange citrus aroma.  This is a solid hop to use in a double or imperial IPA as a first addition and late addition.

Buy Apollo Hops


Of course there are plenty of other amazing hops that are often forgotten.  Please let me know if you have any ideas as to some that I should add to this list.  Cheers to brewing good beer and cheers to drinking that good beer!

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10 Tips For Clear Homebrew Beer

Clear beer

When it comes to brewing beer at home, we all want a clean and clear homebrew.  Some of us want to pour a beer that looks like it came from a commercial brewery.  The sad reality is, most of us do not have the expensive filtration equipment to get that commercial quality.  The yeast, proteins, and unwanted tannins are the offensive threat and you need to put on your best Defense to succeed.

Believe it or not, achieving a clear beer is not very hard to do at home.  There are many ways to help you achieve that clear homebrew.  Here are 10 steps that I personally do each time I brew.  If your beer still has issues with clarity, it’s not a big deal at all.  The beer will still taste just as delicious!  As a matter of fact, hazy is the new clear.

1. Grain/Yeast Selection
homebrew grains

You may not think the grain selection would play a major part in the clarity of your beer, but it does.  When building your beer recipe make sure you take the time to understand what is going in and how it may impact the clarity.  The dark malts, wheat malts, and malts used for head retention will throw a wrench in your goal of a crystal clear beer.  If those malts are part of your recipe, don’t sweat it.  The beer wasn’t meant to be crystal clear anyways.

Choose a yeast that accommodates the style of beer you are brewing as a number 1 rule.  You will also want to find a yeast with a high flocculation rate.  The higher flocculation, the faster the yeast will drop.  Once again, do not let your desire for clear beer change the recipe and do not over pitch the yeast.

2. Let Your Mash Tun Do The Work!
homebrew mash tun screen
Your mash tun has one of the most important jobs in the brewing process. It does a great job by itself and does not need your help.  Do not try to push down on the grain bed to extract more wort.  That is a really dumb idea and I promise you will end up frustrated.  Know your strike volumes and have a game plan before brew day.  If you just leave it alone, the wort will come out clear.  If you are using a square cooler, go with a bazooka screen.  If you have a round drink cooler, you can also go with a false bottom.

homebrew mash tun filter

You also CANNOT forget to vorlauf until your beer runs clear! When I am draining the wort from my mash tun to the boil kettle I use a funnel to grab any additional surprises (like a bug) that could make it into my beer.  This may be a little obsessive but it works for me.

3. Hot Break
Boiling Beer
Make sure you hit a boil quickly to achieve a good hot break.  When you start to see a smooth foam forming on top of your wort, get ready to stir and adjust your heat to avoid a boil over.  You can also spray it with water.  You are close to seeing the hot break forming.  The hot break is crucial to the binding of proteins.  When these proteins bind together, they clump, making it easier to get haze out of your finished beer.  Failing to achieve a good hot break can cause suspended proteins that can eventually make it all the way to the keg or bottle.  Check your burners and make sure they are ready to perform well before starting the brew day!

4. Cold Break
counter flow wort chiller
It is very important to chill your beer as quickly and sanitary as possible.  The cold break is your second chance bind those remaining proteins together before making it to the fermentation vessel.  If your wort starts looking like an egg drop soup, the cold break is a win.  It is nearly impossible to chill the beer quickly without a wort chiller.  While you are running your wort chiller, stir to create a whirlpool powerful enough to see the bottom of your kettle.  Here is a little lesson on wort chillers.

I am sure you are asking “what in the heck is he using?”.  My secret to a fast cold break includes a wort chiller, a floor pump, an under the bed shoe storage bin, and ice water.  I usually run my wort chiller through an ice bath and recirculate the ice bath through the chiller.  210 to 70 in a few minutes if I create a nice whirlpool too.  If I am doing something larger that 5 gallons, I use my plate chiller.

5. Filter During Boil
Homebrew Hop Spider
If you are adding hops, use a hop bag.  The deliciousness of the hops will make it into your beer without throwing them directly in.  When the boil is over, do not squeeze the bag.  Let the bag drip into the kettle and to avoid hop trub squeezing out.  If you want to get fancy, make a hop spider.  Google it.

Boil Kettle screen
I also use a bazooka screen in my boil kettle to serve as a filter for the wort that is exiting to the fermenter.  I have had good results with just using one of these.  If you want to spend the money, a false bottom is another option.

6. Irish Moss/WhirflocIrish Moss
In the last 10-15 minutes of the boil you can add Irish Moss or a Whirfloc (enhanced irish moss blend) tablet to your boil.  This stuff works like a magnet and pulls those tannins and proteins to a clump in the center before dropping to the bottom.  I will not brew without these.  Amazing stuff!

7. Transfer To A Secondary
homebrew secondary
I think this picture is a great visual as to what you leave behind when transferring from a primary to a secondary fermenter.  This is not always needed and really is a matter of preference unless you are dry hopping.  Just make sure you sanitize everything and create a smooth flowing transfer from one to the other.

8. Add A Clarifying Agent
Gelatin finings
Gelatin finings are cheap to buy and you can even pick them up from your local grocery store.  It is collagen based and can be added to a secondary to help round up those remaining proteins.  Chillguard, Isinglass, and Polyclar are also great to use.  You can find write ups all over the internet on how to use these.  Very simple!

9. Cold Crash After Racking To A Secondary or Keg
Six Point Resin
This is not rocket science.  Chill your beer at a minimum of 38 degrees for about a week after transferring to a secondary or keg.  This will drop more of those remaining haze contributors.  Do not cold crash it and freeze your beer though!  That would make the toughest beer drinker cry.

10. Pour With Precision
clear homebrew
If you keg, pour off a pint for yourself before serving to your guests.  After the beer has carbonated and settled another week, more proteins will settle into the bottom of the keg.  This can usually be drawn out with the first pour.  Drink it…do not throw it out.  If you bottle, switch to kegging.  You will thank me later.

I hope this has helped some homebrewers who are fairly new to the art.  Once again, a clear homebrew does not make it a better beer.  A hazy beer does not make it a bad beer.  Do what makes you happy with your beer.  Some of my techniques may not be recommended by all.  That is what makes homebrewing so great.  We are a large network of people willing to share our secrets, mishaps, and successes.



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What Is A Gruit Beer? A History and Recipes.

Gruit beer

IMG_20130609_174700Evidence of brewing beer dates back to the 5th millennium BC.  Believe it or not, prior to the 16th century, hops were rarely used in the brewing process.  Bittering and flavoring consisted of herbs and botanical creations.  From the Egyptians to the Knights of the Round Table, gruit beer is recorded in their history.   

When the Reinheitsgebot purity law was established in Bavaria, it became illegal to brew beer with anything other than water, malt, and hops.  If a brewer was caught violating the purity law, his/her beer would be confiscated without compensation.  Gruit beer eventually phased out and hops became the weapon of choice. 

There are a few breweries creating traditional gruit style ales today such as Dogfish Head, New Belgium, Mt. Pleasant, and Midnight Sun to name a few.  These recreations must be appreciated with an open palate and mind.  Go to your local bottle shop and check out their supply for a gruit beer.


What kind of herbs, spices, botanicals are traditionally used in a Gruit Beer?

Traditional Herbs:

Sweet Gale (Bog Myrtle)

Wild Rosemary

Other Common Herbs/Additions:




Labrador Tea


Bog Heather

Black Henbane

Caraway Seed

Brewing gruit ale has unlimited possibilities and each batch can be a blank slate.  The ability to create beer that tingles your lips is also likely.  Here are some gruit ale recipes for those adventurous enough.  These were discovered after trolling through forums/websites.  I cannot guarantee the quality or end result.  Try them or create your own in true Gruit Style.


Double Gruit
A sweet and earthy beer
  1. 5lbs - US 2-Row
  2. 2lbs - Crystal 60
  3. 1lb - Cara Red
  4. 1lb - Wildflower Honey (add at 30 minutes)
Add to boil
  1. .5oz - Mugwort @ 45 minutes
  2. 1oz - Heather Tips @ 45 minutes
  3. .5oz - Mugwort @ 15 minutes
  4. 1oz - Heather Tips @ 15 minutes
  5. 2 grams - @ 0 minutes
  1. 2oz - Labrador Tea
  2. 2oz - Yarrow
  3. Yeast: WY1968
  1. Single infusion @ 152 degrees for 60 minutes
Beer Mumbo
Gruit Ale #1
I rich yet slightly sweet ale with a subtle bitterness
  1. 14 lbs - US 2-Row
  2. 9 oz - Crystal 120
  3. 8 oz - Crystal 40
  4. 6 oz - Munich Malt
  5. 6 oz - Oatmeal Flakes
  6. 5 oz - Roasted Barley
  7. 1 oz - Mugwort @ 60 minutes
  8. 1 oz - Heather Tips @ 60 minutes
  9. .5 oz - Mugwort @ 15 minutes
  10. 1 gram - Heather Tips @ 0 minutes
  11. Yeast - WY1968
  1. Do an infusion mash at 151 degrees.
  2. Primary fermentation - 21 days
  3. Secondary fermentation - 14 days
Beer Mumbo
Gaelic Dreams
No description
  1. 8lbs - US 2-Row
  2. 1lb - Crystal 40
  3. .5lb - Crystal 60
  4. .125lb - Roasted Barley
Add to boil
  1. .75oz - Mugwort @ 60 minutes
  2. .25oz - Mugwort @ 20 minutes
  3. .25oz - Mugwort @ 0 minutes
  4. Yeast: American Ale
  1. Single infusion @ 154 for 60 minutes
Beer Mumbo
Pog Mo Thoin Gruit Ale III
medium dark amber/yellow and had an herb-like flavor that mellowed with time
  1. 12lbs - US 2-Row
  2. 2lbs - Crystal 40
  3. 2lbs - Melanoidin Malt
Add to mash
  1. 55 grams - Yarrow
  2. 55 grams - Marsh Rosemary
  3. 2 grams - Myrica Gale
Add to boil
  1. 30 grams - Yarrow @ 60 minutes
  2. 30 grams Marsh Rosemary @ 60 minutes
  3. 2 grams Myrica Gale @ 60 minutes
  4. Yeast: American Ale
  1. Single infusion @ 149 for 90 minutes
Beer Mumbo
Yarrow Ale
  1. 3lbs - Light DME
  2. 3oz - Fresh Yarrow flowers and leaves @ 60 minutes
  3. .8 grams - Sweet Gale @ 60 minutes
  4. 2oz - Fresh Yarrow flowers and leaves @ 5 minutes
  5. Yeast: American Ale
  1. No mash
  2. bottle when fermentation is complete
Beer Mumbo

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A Simple DIY Cooler Kegerator In 4 Steps



Some people cringe at the idea of BYOB.  However, craft beer drinkers and homebrewers love the opportunity to bring their own beer to any party.  I have been contemplating the idea of building one of these for some time and put that cooler to use.  Here is my DIY cooler kegerator with step by step instructions.  

This was a very easy build and only took a few tools and minimal hardware investment.  If you already have a kegerator, this DIY cooler kegerator is very cheap to build.  Feel free to comment with your own ideas below!  Cheers!

Tools Needed

RotoZip (Anything that will cut a hole in plastic will do)

Hardware Needed

Roller Cooler (something with a flat surface area on the lid for your large hole)
Gas Disconnect
Corny Keg
Beer Faucet w/Liquid Disconnect
Tap Handle
Pipe Insulation
CO2 Tank w/regulator
Pencil or Sharpie

Step 1

Find the center of your cooler lid and drive a nail.  Using a string around the nail, create a 9.75 inch circle just like below.  Mark the string 4.875 inches from center.  Tie the string around a pencil or Sharpie and make a circle.  I recommend 9.75 inches because this will allow both a Corny keg (9″) and a Sixth Barrel (9.25″) room to fit.  A sixth barrel will need additional hardware to pour beer.

portable kegerator

Step 2

Trace a spot in the back for your CO2 tank.  I have a 5lb tank and it will not fit inside.  If you have a 2.5lb tank, you can probably skip this step since it will likely fit inside of the cooler.

Portable Kegerator


Step 3

Cut out your holes with the Rotozip or saw.  Make sure you do this outside and take your time.  If your cuts are not even, that is OK.  You will be placing insulation around the edges anyways.  I have terrible RotoZip skills as you can see.  

Portable Kegerator


Step 4

Trim the pipe insulation to fit around the edges of your cut hole.  Sit the keg into the cooler.  Lift your lid and add ice.  Attach the gas disconnect and the faucet with liquid disconnect.  You are now ready to start pouring beer.  Since the beer will be traveling such a short distance, adjust the PSI very low.  


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Top Rated Amazon Kegerators Of 2015


Buying a kegerator is a big investment into your love for beer.  It is very important to research different brands and models before you buy.  I have heard many horror stories about poorly constructed systems ruining the home draft experience.  There are two basic options if you want draft beer at home.  You either build one or buy one.  I have done both and either option will work out just fine.

Make a list consisting of your budget, how much space you have for one, and how many taps you want.  When you have laid out a wish list, check reviews on popular models and read about the good and the bad.  Do your homework!   This is an investment.  Most kegerators last many years and pour many beers.

Here are the 10 top rated kegerators on Amazon Kegerators in 2015 according to price, number of reviews, and review scores.  Some of these are even eligible for Amazon Prime.  

Top Rated Kegerators 
#1 - Versonel VSL155TDSS

Our Newest Versonel kegerator with Digital LCD Quick View front temperature display to keep your draft beer at optimal temperature at all times. Versonel Kegerators allow you to brew your own beer or purchase kegs from your local distributor for your enjoyment. Everyone knows draft tap beer from a keg tastes better than bottled. It will also save you money. Buying beer in a keg is always cheaper than buying bottled. If you brew your own beer or use a brewing house then it saves in most cases over half the price of the bottled beer equivalent! Versonel freestanding fridges are also used in various licensed venues (Bars/Cafes/Restaurants). The convenience, portability and aesthetics of this Kegerator make a great addition to anyone's home or venue. FEATURES: Front Panel - Quick View LCD Digital Temperature Display Temperature Adjustment - ranges from 34 degrees to mid 40's. Sleek black finish w/ stainless steel door Space Saver - CO2 tank stores conveniently inside the refrigerator, unit can be placed flush to wall Chrome guard rail to house tap and drip tray unit 4 removable Caster Wheels with locks for ease of movement Single Black Tap Tower and Chrome Tap Font w/ 'snap back' springs 2 Piece Stainless Steel top Drip Tray Easy installation instructions included Can convert easily to a standard 6cf bar fridge (2 internal wire shelves included) Note: Beer and Gas not included. Capacity: 6cf INCLUDED: All parts and accessories needed to install standard barrel kegs and 2 removable wire racks to convert to a standard bar fridge. CO2 tank must be filled and proprietary kegs may need custom taps installed. - Standard Keg coupler - Rubber choke - CO2 regulator - Beer tower tap - beer hose assembly: includes standard 5ft hose, fittings are included if longer hose is required - Beer tower washer - High pressure washer - Air hose - Drip pan top - Keg Protective base board (internal) - Beer Tower hole cover - CO2 tank - 2.5 lbs. - Guard rail - Beer tap wrench.
#2 - EdgeStar KC2000SSTWIN
Serve you and your friends or family cold, refreshing draft beer with the EdgeStar Full Size Stainless Steel Dual Tap Kegerator & Draft Beer Dispenser (KC2000SSTWIN). This stainless steel beer kegerator represents excellent value, as it combines an inexpensive imported refrigerator with commercial-grade, NSF approved beer lines. You can store up to a full sized half shell Sankey standard keg, with limited exceptions (does not support use of Coors, Miller rubberized or other oversized kegs), which gives you the perfect amount of beer for large gatherings or parties. The double tap kegerator will also fit two (2) standard sixth barrels, or two (2) cornelius (homebrewed) kegs with an additional ball lock connector (sold separately). This Edgestar kegerator is UL listed and includes a 5 lb aluminum CO2 cylinder (supplied empty). With an easy set-up, this keg cooler is perfect for people who are unfamiliar with setting up a home draft beer system. We strongly recommend purchasing a cleaning kit with this kegerator- beer equipment should be cleaned after every keg. Fully Kitted Dual Tap Kegerator: Ships complete with all components needed to tap one keg or two sixth barrels. Integrated Casters: The casters that ship with the unit allow for easy movement. UL Listed: Approved by the most trusted source for product compliance in the world This dual tap kegerator will accept up to two standard sixth barrels, or two cornelius (homebrewed) kegs with an additional ball or pin lock connector (sold separately).
#3 - EdgeStar KC2000
The EdgeStar KC2000 Draft Beer Dispenser offers you all the advantages of enjoying your favorite draft beer at the pub, in the comforts of your home. Holding just about any size keg shell, including the most common kege shells popular half and quarter shells, this economical and well crafted model comes with American made components including an American Sankey keg coupler to fit most of your favorite domestic beer kegs. Additional features include: caster wheels for easy portability, a movable drip tray and chrome railing. The sleek black cabinet with chrome tower will impress any beer aficionado. Our easy installation guide, which includes step by step installation with photos, will make setup a snap. You will be enjoying draft beer in no time. Other features include two removable wire coated shelves allowing easy conversion into an auto defrost refrigerator. Plus a metal floor plate to protect your refrigerator while it's being used as a beer dispenser. This unit also comes complete with a 5 lb. CO2 cylinder equipped with an easy to read pressure gauge that hides discretely on the back.
#4 - Kegco K309SS-2
K309SS-2 Features: -All dispensing accessories are UL recognized components. -Digital temperature control keeps temperature in range of 32°F-75°F. -Deep Chill function to quickly cool down warm keg. -Easy roll casters for mobility. Generic Specifications: -Matte black cabinet and stainless steel door Stainless door has a protective film on it to prevent scratches during shipment. You can peel the film off once the kegerator is set up. Stainless steel interior floor mat for long lasting durability and easy glide of beer keg Plugs into standard home outlet Adjustable mechanical temperature control (easily accessed at the back of the unit) UL Listed 1 year parts and labor warranty, 5 years parts only warranty on compressor and sealed system. -Includes a brand new 5 lb. Aluminum Co2 Tank: This Tank is produced from high strength aluminum alloy 6061-T6. This is superior to a steel tank because it will not rust. The service pressure is up to 1800 PSI/124 BAR with a test pressure of 3000 PSI/207 BAR. These cyldiners are stamped with required U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada Markings. The 320 Valves are CGA approved, and have a male thread for Co2 Regulators. Average fill good for 5-6 Kegs depending upon your fill. (5.5" diameter, 18.25" Height).. -Includes Single Gauge Co2 Regulator with Air Distributor: This Regulator works with any Co2 Tank with a CGA-320 valve. Comes with an air distributor. The single gauge measures PSI indicating how much Co2 pressure is inside the keg. Adjustable output pressure 0-60 psi. 3000 psig Max Primary Inlet. 60 psig Safety Relief Valve R82. Female CGA-320 connection. Ball valve outlet w/ 5/16" OD Hose Barb connection. Total ports = (2) Primary 1/4" FNPT ports, (2) Secondary 1/4" FNPT ports. UL Listed, Compressed Gas Regulator - for use w/ Air, Co2 and Inert Gases.. -Includes Two 5 feet lengths of 5/16 Inch I.D. Blue Air Line with 2 Snap Clamps each: The standard length is 5 feet of 5/16" I.D. Blue Air/Co2 Tubin
#5 - Kegco K309B-1
Style, convenience, and efficiency combine in this Kegco K309B-1 Beer Keg Dispenser. This kegerator has rolling casters that allow it to be easily moved from room to room, and a sleek black finish that will look great with any decor. Additional features like an easy-to-clean removable driptray and chrome safety guard prevent inconvenient messes, and a 25% more energy efficient design will save you money every month! Fan forced cooling circulates the air for even temperatures throughout unit. It features one of the coldest temperature ranges of any draft beer dispenser on the market, allowing it to be set as low as 32 degrees. Another convenient cooling feature on the K309B-1 is the Deep Chill Function, which forces the compressor to work continuously for 24 hours to quickly cool down a warm beer keg. This Keg Beer Cooler can accommodate any full size Keg (including Rubber kegs, Miller kegs, and Coors kegs) thanks to it's large interior. It can also fit up to two 5 Gallon D System Kegs or up to three 5 Gallon Cornelius Ball Lock Home-Brew Kegs. This keg refrigerator doesn't only hold kegs: when you're not using this versatile unit as a beer keg cooler, you can easily convert it into a regular refrigerator using the two wire shelves that are provided. These shelves can be placed far enough apart to allow you to store 2-liter soda jugs, gallon jugs, or even bottles of wine!K309B-1 Beer Keg Refrigerators from Kegco come complete with everything you will need to dispense a refreshing glass of your favorite cold draft beer. The Direct Draw Tap Kit includes a Keg Coupler, CO2 Tank and Regulator, One-Faucet Draft Tower, and air and beer lines. These parts can be customized to better fit your style and the types of kegs and beverages that you are going to dispense.
#6 - EdgeStar KC7000SSTWIN

Serve up cold draft beer in the comfort of your own home using the EdgeStar Full Size Dual Tap Built-In Kegerator (KC7000SSTWIN). Built-In Capable: Because of its front ventilation, this kegerator can be undercounter built-in or used in a freestanding application Forced Air Refrigeration System: Due to a powerful forced air refrigeration system, cold air is evenly distributed throughout the kegerator to maintain your desired temperature, eliminating possible hot spots and guaranteeing the perfect pour with every dispense Air-Cooled Beer Tower: Cold air is directed up to and throughout the beer tower, preventing lost beer from a foaming first pour and ensuring that your brew stays cold from keg to glass Premium Draft Components: (1) 5 lb. Luxfer CO2 tank, (1) dual-gauge regulator, (2) D Sankey couplers, (2) NSF PVC beer lines, (2) red CO2 lines, (1) stainless steel dual tap beer tower, (2) 304 stainless steel faucets, & (2) black tap handles Durable Construction: Both the heavy-duty door and the professional towel bar handle are fully wrapped in sturdy stainless steel, providing you with a unit that is as durable as it is sleek Reinforced Floor: Due to its stainless steel reinforcement, the floor is able to withstand the wear and tear of the continuous changing and rotating of kegs Included Kegerator Accessories: In order to make beer dispensing hassle-free, this unit arrives with a stainless steel top cover, drip tray, guard rail, and four (4) mobility casters Electronic Control Panel: All of your unit settings are easily adjusted using the electronic control panel with push buttons and digital temperature display LED Interior Lighting: LED interior lighting illuminates your keg and components while consuming less energy and not emitting any heat, so the temperature of your kegs will remain uncompromised Reversible Door w/ Lock: You have the option of reversing the door swing Dimensions: 34 3/8" H x 23 13/16" W x 25 3/8" D
#7 - Kegco K309B-3
The Kegco K309B-3HB Triple Faucet Home Brew Kegerator with Black Matte Finish adds digital functionality and a wider available temperature range to one of the best kegerators you can find. This kegerator is big enough to hold three 5 gallon home brew ball lock cornelius kegs and comes with all the necessary draft beer equipment to dispense them. It still has all the features you've come to appreciate from other high quality Kegco models, such as attractive styling, a removable built-in drip tray that is easy to clean, a chrome guardrail that prevents glasses from sliding off the top and easy rolling casters. Now you have the ability to see your specific temperature setting and set it easily with the push of a button, in addition to having a wider available temperature range for more precise temperature control. The K309 has Fan-Forced cooling, giving it one of the coldest temperature ranges of any beer dispenser on the market today. The fan helps provide even cooling throughout the unit. Temperature can be set as low as 32 degrees to dispense ice cold beer. The interior of this keg beer cooler is spacious enough to easily hold any full size keg, including Miller kegs, Coors Kegs and rubber kegs. It comes with 2 adjustable shelves, allowing you to space them far enough apart to hold 2-liter bottles or gallon jugs. With the wide temperature range available in the K309, you can even use it to store wine!
# 8 - Kegco K209SS-2
Kegco's K209SS-2 Draft Beer Dispenser is a high-quality beer keg refrigerator with a stainless steel door that includes everything needed to dispense two 5 gallon store bought kegs of draft beer. It has all the necessary equipment to pour a cold, tasty glass of beer, and it can also easily be converted into a regular refrigerator with it's two adjustable storage shelves. This keg cooler boasts an interior big enough to easily accommodate two 5 gallon kegs along with the dispense system, or cases of your favorite cold beverages. The stainless steel interior floor plate provides durability by displacing the weight of the keg evenly over the floor of the cabinet, allowing you to slide the kegs in and out smoothly. The versatility of these beer dispensers make them an excellent choice for anyone wanting draft beer on tap at home all the time while also providing the optional storage space of an extra refrigerator.Kegco Full-Size Keg Beer Refrigerators are quiet and energy efficient for use in the home. Easy roll casters make moving this K209SS-2 Beer Cooler from your bar to your patio a breeze, and they lock to prevent the unit from rolling once you have it in position. This beer refrigerator has black sides and top with a stainless steel door that will look great dispensing beer in your home. It also has a recessed drip tray with a plastic grill that can easily be taken out and cleaned in the dishwasher, and an attractive chrome safety rail that helps to keep mugs and glasses from sliding off. This beer dispenser comes with everything you need except the kegs. The CO2 tank is shipped empty and will need to be filled locally.These keg beer coolers can fit one Full Size or Pony Keg, up to two Quarter Slim Kegs, two 5 gallon commercial kegs, or up to three 5 gallon Cornelius home-brew kegs.
#9 - Kegco K309SS-1
This elegant and energy efficient freestanding K309SS-1 Digital Keg Beer Refrigerator from Kegco features the same high quality and attractive styling that you've come to expect from Kegco keg refrigerators, as well as digital temperature control that gives you a wider available temperature range and allows you to easily view your temperature setting in Fahrenheit or Celsius and adjust it up or down at the push of a button. These keg beer coolers also have convenient additions like a removable and easy-to-clean drip tray, easy rolling casters, and a chrome guard rail that prevents your glasses from sliding off the top of the kegerator.This Keg Cooler has a large interior that can accommodate any full-size keg, including Coors Kegs, Miller kegs, and rubber kegs. It can also fit up to two 5 Gallon D System Kegs or up to three 5 Gallon Cornelius Ball Lock Homebrew Kegs, giving you to option to dispense more than one beer at a time. When you're not using this versatile unit as a beer refrigerator, it can be converted into a regular refrigerator using the two included wire shelves, allowing you to store 2-liter soda jugs, gallon jugs, or even bottles of wine!The K309SS-1 Keg Dispenser uses Fan Forced Cooling, providing even cooling throughout the unit and giving it one of the coldest temperature ranges of any beer dispenser on the market. The temperature can be set as low as 32 degrees. These beer dispensers also have a Deep Chill Function that forces the compressor to work continuously for 24 hours to quickly cool down a warm beer keg. Kegco K309SS-1 Kegerators come with all of the draft beer dispense equipment required to pour a delicious glass of cold draft beer, including a Keg Coupler, CO2 Tank, Regulator, and air and beer lines. Beverage Factory lets you to customize your beer dispensing setup to fit your needs, including giving you the option to choose the keg coupler that will allow you to tap the kind of kegs you prefer!
#10 - Kegco K309B-2
The Kegco K309B-2 Two-Faucet Digital Beer Dispenser has all the features that you've come to appreciate from other high quality Kegco models, now with digital temperature controls, fan-forced cooling, and one of the widest available temperature ranges on the market. Standard features include an easy-to-clean removable built-in drip tray, a chrome guard-rail, easy-rolling casters, and a complete two-tap direct draw system that allows you to dispense up to two D System domestic kegs at a time. This beer keg refrigerator is designed for freestanding use and has a matte black finish on the sides and door.The internal temperature can be easily set and verified in Fahrenheit or Celsius using the digital temperature display and push button controls. Fan-Forced cooling provides even cooling throughout the unit and gives it one of the coldest temperature ranges of any beer cooler on the market today. The temperature can be set as low as 32 degrees to dispense delicious ice cold draft beer. The spacious interior can easily accommodate any full-size keg, including rubber kegs and Miller and Coors Kegs. It can also fit up to two 5 Gallon D System kegs or up to three 5 Gallon Cornelius Ball Lock Homebrew kegs, allowing you to dispense more than one keg of beer at a time. The Deep Chill Function forces the compressor to work continuously for 24 hours to quickly cool a warm keg. When your keg is cooled, press the Deep Chill button again to return your unit to it's normal operation. It can easily be converted into a regular refrigerator and used for extra storage with it's two adjustable shelves. Easy-roll casters make it easy to move your beer refrigerator from one room to another and they lock to prevent it from rolling until you want it to.

Hopefully, this list of the top rated kegerators on Amazon helped with your search!  Cheer!

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A Simple Video Guide To All Grain Brewing

All Grain Brewing

Check out these very well produced and explained video guides to All Grain brewing by 4KingsBrewery on YouTube.  If you are curious about the process and and equipment needed, watch the four videos below.  I spend a lot of my time searching homebrew videos and tutorials to continue growing my knowledge base.  There are a lot of good videos and a whole lot of bad videos out there.  

He has put together videos covering his brewing equipment, the all grain brewing process, and kegging homebrew.  I thought it was appropriate to give him a shout out for taking the time to make these nice videos.  They are informative and can help those new to the hobby.  Even if you are a veteran, it is nice to see how others brew and the equipment they use.  Cheers!

The Brewery Tour

Guide to All Grain Brewing – Part 1

Guide to All Grain Brewing Part 2

Kegging Your Homebrew

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Simple HomeBrew Mash Tun – Box Cooler Conversion


Stepping your brew game up from extract to grain is a smart choice.  Not only will you find it MUCH cheaper to brew a batch of beer, you will also find the beer tasting MUCH better too.  After all,  beer is a product from extracting grain.  Buying a commercial mashing system can prove expensive and is not within the budget of your average home brewer.  What is the solution?  Bust out that old 50 quart cooler and make it into an efficient mash tun cooler!  Total investment $40 if you already have a cooler and $100 if you do not.  Savings?  How about $10-$20 per 5 gallon batch of beer.  You can also do this with a round cooler.  Both work great!

Step 1:
Find a 45-55 quart box cooler that has a drain plug.

Step 2:
Buy a 1/2″ Stainless Steel Valve Weldless Bulkhead For Home Brew Kettle  (any 1/2 valve will do), a 1/2 female / female pipe fitting and a 1/2 male/male extension piece.  Measure the thickness of the cooler wall before buying this piece.  You want it just long enough to create a snug fit from both sides when its all said and done.  A little thread on each side is ideal.  Stainless steel would be ideal but brass works just fine.

Step 3:
Remove the drain plug and its components.  It should be a simple threaded piece.  Save the rings because you will need them.

Step 4:
Install the new ball valve and former fittings.  Your cooler should look like the one below.

Now that you have the exit piece in place you need to put together the inside of your mash tun OR as I call it…the balls of the mash tun.

Step 5:
You have two options for this piece of your mash tun and both are considered efficient.

Option 1
a. buy a stainless steel washer hose and snip both ends of the hose.
b. work the stainless steel coil off of the hard plastic hose on the inside.  Be careful to not cut your hands doing this.
c. on the inside you will need a 1/2 “T” splitter with two 1/2 nipples.  Go stainless if you can afford it.  Brass will work though.
d. coil a copper wire small enough to fit inside of the washer hose and then connect to your T splitter

Option 2
a. go with a 12 inch Bazooka Screen.
b. hook it up to the extension piece that is connected to your ball valve on the other side of the cooler.  MUCH EASIER!
c. buy some rubber weather stripping and line your lid all the way around with it.  This is much better at holding in heat than the plastic on plastic connection.

Option 3:
a. build a false bottom with copper tubing as seen here at Brewer’s Friend.  All designs work just fine.

You are now ready for some ALL GRAIN beer brewing.  Welcome to the world of brewing real beer!  Cheap investment yet a good one!

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Old Beer Recipes From The 1800’s


We often forget about the importance beer played in the foundation of the country we love so much.  In the 1800’s, beer was a huge component to the daily diet for most families, including their children.  As a matter of fact, families kept sacred cookbooks that contained family beer recipes alongside food recipes dating back hundreds of years.  Until modern water treatment surfaced,  it was generally safer to drink beer than water.  American families were a different kind of poor back then. There were no support systems established in 1840, outside of the church. When a family needed nutrition, beer played a crucial role in survival. Even if they were lacking the money to eat well, people drank fairly well.

Beer usually consisted of locally acquired ingredients.   Hop pellets, specialty grains, lab controlled yeasts, and artificial flavorings did not exist.  An open fire with an iron pot is how it went down.  If a cheap beer was desired, local adjunct items were collected and often mixed with molasses.

Anyways, I was recently given permission by the Cincinnati library to view a rare book dating back to 1840.  I had to lock my belongings in a secured room and was not permitted to use any flash photography. This was only to protect the original copy of the book. Fortunately, I was allowed to snap some photos with my phone.  White’s New Cook Book is a collection of family remedies,  recipes, and blueprints distributed to the residents of the growing Cincinnati area.  Check out these awesome old beer recipes.  Try one!  However, I promise they will not match our current selections.

Check these photos out:






IMG_20130125_153829 (2)

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A Simple Pliny the Elder Clone


Ever wanted to make a Pliny the Elder clone?  To some, Pliny is the holy grail of IPAs and this recipe is apparently the real deal.  The recipe listed below is rumored to have come from Russian River (Vinnie).  Is that true?  Maybe or Maybe not.  Good luck affording the hop bill on this one.  

Pliny the Elder Clone

 5 gallon batch
Pre Boil:  5.5-6 gallons

Mash the grains at 150-152 degrees
Boil for 90 minutes
Add hops at the correct hop schedule

OG = 1.074
FG = 1.014
IBU = 100+
SRM = 8
ABV = 8-8.5%


12.2 lbs – 2-row malt
.28 lbs – Crystal malt (45L)
.86 lbs – CaraPils malt
1.0 lb – Dextrose (corn sugar)

19.5 AAU Chinook whole hops (mash hops)
(1.5 oz of 13% alpha acid)
42.9 AAU Warrior hops (90 minutes)
(2.75 oz of 15.6% alpha acid)
6.1 AAU Chinook hops (90 minutes)
(0.5 oz of 12.2% alpha acid)
12 AAU Simcoe hops (45 minutes)
(1.0 oz of 12% alpha acid)
14.3 AAU Columbus hops (30 minutes)
(1.0 oz of 14.3% alpha acid)
20.5 AAU Centennial hops (0 min)
(2.25 oz of 9.1% alpha acid)
12 AAU Simcoe hops (0 min)
(1.0 oz of 12% alpha acid)
3.25 oz Columbus hop (dry hop)
1.75 oz Centennial hop (dry hop)
1.75 oz Simcoe hop (dry hop)
1 tsp Irish moss
Wyeast 1056 (California Ale) yeast
.75 cup of corn sugar (for priming)

Ferment at 68 degrees.  Dry hop two weeks and not any longer.

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How To Create A Yeast Starter

Yeast starter

Yeast starter

If you are not treating yeast kindly, your home brewed beers are probably a hit or miss.  A yeast starter is used to provide a jump start so fermentation is a success.  This is done by increasing the cell count before brewing beer.  It can be compared to a runner and the preparation they go through before a race.  The runner will stretch and take a few trial runs prior to the big race.  This ensures strength and stamina are at 100% and helps to avoid injuries.  That is exactly how your yeast works with the addition of cloning themselves.  You do not want to put strain on your yeast. Unless, you want off flavors in your beer.

There are a few reasons why a yeast starter would be created:

  • Original Gravity is above 1.060 (some yeast can handle higher gravity beer).
  • The yeast is a little old and needs revived.
  • A quicker fermentation is needed.

 What do you need?


Before starting, you need to figure out what size starter needs to be created. These are ratios for 5 gallons batches. If you are brewing larger batches, just calculate the difference.

Standard 5 Gallon Starter: 2 cups water to 1/4 cup DME
Rejuvenate Old Yeast: 4 cups water to 1/2 cup DME
High Gravity Beer: 4 cups water to 1/2 cup DME


1. Before starting, sanitize everything that will come into contact with the starter. This may be slight overkill since we will boil the wort. However, it is another safety net from infection.

2. In a sauce pan, mix the needed water to DME ratios. Make sure you mix this well to break up any clumps.


3. Bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. This will sterilize anything that still needs sanitized. It will also help create a nice liquid wort.

4. Pour the solution into your Erlenmeyer Flask (the larger the batch…the larger the flask you will need) and immediately chill the solution to room temperature.


*Do not worry, these flasks will not crack. They are designed for extreme temperature swings.

5. You now have a wort with an Original Gravity of around 1.040-1.045. This is the optimal range needed for yeast growth.

6. Using a sanitized funnel, pour the yeast into the flask and cover the top with a sanitized piece of aluminum foil. This will allow CO2 the ability to escape. Do not use an airlock. The starter needs the exchange of O2.

7. Put you hand over the foil to prevent a mess and shake the mixture of wort and yeast for 30 seconds. This will oxygenate

8. Drop a sanitized magnetic stir bar into the flask and set your starter wort on the stir plate. Fire it up!

9. After about 2 days, the yeast have consumed all of the sugars/oxygen and generated new cells. Your yeast army is ready!

Brew Day Options:

Option 1 – Save For Later: If you are not going to pitch the yeast that same day, just store it in the refrigerator. However, make sure you leave the foil on. On brew day, bring the yeast to room temperature before pitching. Decant about 80% of the liquid that is sitting on top of the yeast cake. Swirl the flask to create a slurry and pitch.

Option 2 – Use It Now: Make sure it is at room temperature. Decant about 80% of the liquid that is sitting on top of the yeast cake. Swirl the flask to create a slurry and pitch. Pitch the starter right into your wort. It will start attacking immediately. Some people skip the decanting and pitch the entire starter. Just make sure you smell it first to rule out possible off flavors.


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How To Build A Simple Homemade Stir Plate


If you are searching for a way to bring your homebrewing to the next level, it is time to build a stir plate. A stir plate has one simple purpose…stir like a boss. There are plenty of commercial grade stir plates out there for $40-$200. That is nonsense and keeps you from enjoying the second best thing about homebrewing, building stuff.

To maximize yeast and fermentation, it is essential to make a starter.  This will help the yeast get a head start and ferment better and faster.  If you have no idea what a yeast starter is,  Google it and return to this page afterwards.

What do you need?

Here is a quick 5 minute video that I made (after drinking three cans of Resin) showing the different parts and the wiring in my homemade stir plate.  I am sure I forgot some things in the video but you will get the idea.  That is all that matters.

DIY - Build A Homemade Stir Plate In Minutes

The photo tutorial:

Stir plate
Use your circle cutter/hole saw and cut a hole in the top of your cigar box. This is one of my finished boxes. You have to make sure it is in the dead center. You will mount a fan here.
You will need a rare earth magnet. These can be removed from an old hard drive. Just look for this piece and remove the magnet attached to it. Be careful, these will break and need to be removed using something flat with a large base. Pry them off.
Position and temporarily secure the REM in the center of the fan hub that spins. Placement of the REM is critical in minimizing fan balance (like your car tire or ceiling fan). Turn on the fan to check for vibrations or wobbling. Turn off the fan and adjust the REM if required. If you are satisfied, then super glue to the REM to the fan hub. Remember, balance is critical to the life of the fan and strip plate. If you short cut this step, you will shorten your stir plate life.
Close up of rubber grommet ring. Make sure there is enough space under the fan to allow airflow.
Stir Plate Diagram
Run the power from the AC adapter to the On/Off switch and then to the middle of the Rheostat using a small connector wire. Next, run the power wire from the PC fan to one of the side posts/prongs of the rheostat. Connect the ground from your AC adapter directly to the ground from the PC fan. Wiring is done!
DSC08583 copy
Now that you are all wired up, attach the fan to the underside of the cigar box. Test it to make sure it turns on and make sure you have enough space with the grommets to allow airflow. Close the lid.
This is a view of the REM and fan through the drilled hole.
Finished Stir Plate
Here is one of my finished and painted stir plates.

If you have done everything correctly, it should fire up and function properly. Make sure the rheostat is not hot when you touch it.  I made the mistake of crossing one wire incorrectly and it got very hot to the touch.

Good luck on your build and I hope my tutorial helped!

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Mumbo Recipe: Foreign Extra Stout


Looking for a solid stout recipe? Try this amazing foreign extra stout that won “Best in Show” at the 2012 California Homebrew Competition.

Foreign Extra Stout
An amazing stout that won best in show at the 2012 California Homebrew Competition.
  1. For 5.0 Gallons...
  2. 10.0 lb - American Two Row
  3. 1.0 ib - Carafoam Malt
  4. 1.0 lb - Black Patent
  5. 1.0 lb - Chocolate Malt
  6. 1.0 lb - Crystal 80L
  7. 6.0 oz - Roasted Barley
  8. 1.0 oz - Centennial hops @ 60 minutes
  9. 1.0 oz - Centennial hops @ 30 minutes
  10. 1.0 oz - Williamette hops @ 10 minutes
  11. 1 tablet - Whirfloc @ 15 minutes
  12. White Labs WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast
  1. Conduct a step mash with rests for 20 minutes at 122 degrees, 45 minutes at 152 degrees, and 10 minutes at 168 degrees.
  1. Boil time: 60 minutes
  2. Original Gravity: 1.070
  3. Final Gravity: 1.025
  4. IBU: 63
  5. SRM: 60
  6. ABV: 6.3%
Beer Mumbo