How to turn a Juice bucket into amazing wine step by step instructions.

Day of Juice Pick Up

1. Check to make sure you have all your equipment. We sell Wine making starter kits that has everything you need.

2. Clean and sanitize all your winemaking tools, supplies and equipment

3. Transfer the must (your unfermented wine) to your fermenter.

4. During the transfer, add Potassium Metabisulfate solution (at an approximate rate of 1/4 tsp per 5 gallon). Mix well. 

5. Take a sample to test for specific gravity (Brix), acidity and pH. Record the results. (Ask one of the PBS Crew if you have not tested wine before or are unsure of what numbers to record)

6. Keep in a cool place overnight. 

Day after juice pickup

Get your yeast ready to make wine.

1.Adjust the acidity as necessary using tartaric acid. Reference the chart that comes in the Acid Test Kit for recommended levels. 

2. Prepare yeast 

  • Heat about 50 mL distilled or non chlorinated water to 108 °F (42 °C). 
  • Mix the Go-Ferm into the water to make a suspension. 
  • Take the temperature. Pitch the yeast when the suspension is 104 °F (40 °C). 
  • Sprinkle the yeast on the surface and gently mix so that no clumps exist. 
  • Let sit for 15 minutes undisturbed. 

3. Acclimate Your Yeast (Match Temperature of Yeast to Must)

  • Measure the temperature of the yeast suspension. 
  • Measure the temperature of the must. 
  • Do not add the yeast to your cool juice if the temperature of the yeast and the must temperature difference exceeds 15 °F (8 °C). To avoid temperature shock, acclimate your yeast by taking about 10 mL of the must juice and adding it to the yeast suspension. 
  • Wait 15 minutes and measure the temperature again. Do this until you are within the specified temperature range. 
  • Do not let the yeast sit in the original water suspension for longer than 20 minutes.

4. When the yeast is ready, add it to the fermenter and mix.

Must to Wine – Fermentation Time!

During the Next One to Two Days

1. Signs of fermentation should start to appear. This will appear as some foaming on the must surface and activity in the airlock.

Daily Actions

2. Monitor the Brix and temperature at least once a day. 

3. This is to ensure that the temperature is within the temperature range of the specific yeast that you have selected. 

4. When the specific gravity or Brix is about 1/3 of the way down from your original gravity (after about a 1/3 sugar depletion) add Fermaid K or other yeast nutrient. 

  • Disolve in warm non chlorinated water, add, and mix. 
  • Mix slowly, at this point you may have a significant amount of Co2 that has been absorbed into the wine. 

Speaking from experience, if you add and stir too quickly it may erupt and you will have a mess and less wine!

Transfer the wine to a Carboy (Approximately 2 Weeks)

1. When your gravity is down to approximately 1.000 or lower, transfer into the appropriate carboy.  Make sure you do not have any headspace in the carboy.

2. If you have reached your final gravity, which is based on personal preference, mix approximately 1/2 tsp per gallon of wine of Potassium Sorbate with enough non chlorinated water to dissolve, and add to the wine         

  • .994 – .996  dry            .
  • 996 – 1.00 is off dry to sweet         
  • 1.000 and higher is sweet   

Use your senses and taste the wine to see if you like the way it tastes.

*If you have not reached your final gravity at this time – wait longer and test every 2 days. It will not move fast at this point.  

Over the Next YEAR (Clarify, De-Gas, Add Wood or Barrel and Bottle)

1. Let the wine sit in a cool dark area for 1 to 12 months.  Make sure to maintain sanitation solution in the airlock during the aging process.

2. Rack the wine at least twice over 3-4 months into sanitized vessels to clarify and de-gas. 

  • After you rack your wine for the last time you can choose to Add Wood to your wine or Barrel. 
  • Add Wood and let set for an additional 3 – 4 months for preferred taste. Not sure which wood to use, read our article here.

3. Once the wine is cleared, about 8 months after fermentation, get ready to bottle. 

  • 2 – 3 Days before bottling – you may want to add an additional clarifying agent (Super Klear).

4. Bottle Your Wine! (or Box it)

  • If all has gone well to this point, given the quantity made, filter (optional) the wine, and then bottle. 
  • Maintain sanitary conditions while bottling. 


Enjoy! Once bottled, periodically check your work by opening a bottle to enjoy with friends.

Próst! How to Ferment a Lager Beer

Lager beers are making a comeback in the world of craft beer and as a home-brewer you have the ability to make stunning lagers that can be hard to find in the commercial beer world.   This is a step by step guide on how to ferment your lager beer along with some tips and tricks to keep your wort in the right temperature range without expensive equipment.

Lager Fermentation Step 1 starts on brew day:

Chill your wort to as cold as you can get it as rapidly as possible while it is still in the kettle.  This can be achieved with a wort chiller, or an ice bath in your sink. Since this is a lager, it is recommended to chill all the way to the low 50s before adding your yeast, but if that’s not possible, it’s not the end of the world.

Top your beer up to 5 gallons with more water if needed. Hint: Using cold, clean water can help you finish chilling the wort to the ideal 50*F.

Once you have gotten your wort as cold as your equipment will allow, Gently pour your wort into your primary fermenter being careful to leave as much of the sludge at the bottom in your kettle as possible. 

Wort Chiller

Step 2: Pitch your yeast

Vigorously stir your wort to introduce as much oxygen as possible into the wort.  This is the ONLY time you want to get oxygen in your beer.

Put your unopened yeast pack(s) into your bucket of sanitizer.  Place your sanitized hydrometer into your wort and take an original gravity reading.

Sanitize your Scissors and yeast pouch by dipping in sanitizer.

Once your wort is between 50-60 degrees F pitch your yeast by pouring your yeast into the wort. Important, if your wort is outside of this temperature range do not pitch the yeast until it is in the temperature range.

Seal the top of your fermenter and put an airlock partially filled with sanitizer into the hole on top.

Lager Yeast

Step 3: Ferment for 7-14 days

Keep your wort in the 50-55 degree range for 7-14 days while the beer ferments. There are a few ways to do this.

  • Put the fermenter in a cool part of the house such as the basement or the garage in the cooler months.
  • Keep the fermenter in a water bath
  • Put a wet T-shirt or over the fermenter (this relies on the magic of evaporative cooling to keep the fermenter cool.)
  • Rent lagering space at Perfect Brewing Supply

When the airlock stops bubbling and the yeast cake has dropped to the bottom, remove the lid and take a reading with your hydrometer
If you have reached your desired final gravity (give or take a couple points) you are ready to rack it over into your secondary fermenter.

Rent Lager Fermentation Space

Step 4: Lagering time!

What sets lager beers apart from thier Ale counterparts is their incredible clarity and crispness. This is where that clarity is generated, the lagering process. Lagering is a fancy term for cold storage which allows the beer to become crystal clear.

Use your auto-siphon to gently rack the beer into your secondary fermenter, leaving as much of the trub behind as possible. For lagers your secondary fermenter can be a carboy or your serving keg.

Seal the fermenter and place it in a cold spot for the lagering phase. Traditionally, lagers are stored in the 32-40F range for 4-6 weeks. The longer the beer is lagered, typically, the cleaner and crisper the beer will get. Ideally, brew another beer now so the wait is less excruciating next time.

Secondary Fermenter

Blending Wine Grapes to make Burgundy and Claret Wines

A proper balance of alcohol, acid and PH level is essential to make a fine wine that will not spoil. A lot of California grapes tend to be sweet enough to make a sufficient amount of alcohol but they tend to have low acid levels. If you do not use various commercial acid additives, blend into the wine a high acid variety.  Always use some sort of bisulfate when you are making the wine and each time you are racking or bottling.  Without bisulfate the wine will probably oxidize (turn brownish with a sherry taste) or turn acidic (vinegary). Another good practice is to use commercial yeast to ferment your wine. Commercial yeast that is made for the type of wine you desire will help the grapes produce that wine. In the process of using commercial yeast you will also destroy any bad yeast spores that are present.

Popular Burgundy Grape blends 

Dry, dark colored, full-bodied red wine that is usually fermented on the skins until all the sugar is fermented this is the hallmark of Burgundy wines. Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Sirah are considered Burgundy type grapes. These are tried and true grape combinations to make Burgundy wines

  • 66% Zinfandel – 16% Carignane – 16% Petit Sirah  
  • 66% Petit Sirah – 33% Pinot Noir  
  • 66% Sirah – 16% Old Vine Zinfandel – 16% Alicante  
  • 66% Old Vine Zinfandel – 33% Alicante  
  • 75% Cabernet Sauvignon – 25% Merlot  
  • 66% Alicante – 16% Barbera – 16% Old Vine Zinfandel  
  • 52% Old Vine Zinfandel – 21% Carignane – 9% Petit Sirah – 18% Grenache
  • 66% Ruby Cabernet – 33% Alicante
  • 55% Cabernet – 40% Old Vine Zinfandel – 5% Barbera 
  • 60% Cabernet Sauvignon – 40% Sangiovese “Tuscany Blend”
  • 40% Cabernet Sauvignon – 30% Sangiovese – 30% Merlot “Super Tuscany Blend”

Popular Claret grape blends

Also known as Bordeaux is a red wine, not too dark in color with a medium body, good fruit flavor and bouquet. Depending on the color desired most fermentation occurs on the skins. They can have a slight hint of sweetness. Chianti and Zinfandel are considered claret type wines.    

  • 75% Merlot – 25% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 66% Sangiovese – 16% Alicante – 16% Zinfandel  
  • 40% Sangiovese – 40% Primitivo (Zinfandel) – 20% Carignane
  • 50% Sangiovese – 50% Zinfandel
  • 33% Grenache – 33% Sangiovese – 33% Alicante
  • 16% Grenache – 34% Carignane – 34% Zinfandel – 16% Alicante
  • 50% Alicante – 50% Grenache

In Conclusion

Whatever wine your making we hope you found this guide useful, if there was a wine varity we didnt cover for you please give us a call and we can help come up with a grape or juice bucket mix thats perfect for you! You can get all the ingredients for your wine at Perfect Brew Supply!

Step by Step Instructions for Bottling your Home-brew

Step 1:Prepare your Priming Sugar

Boil 5 ounces of priming sugar in 2 cups of water and stir it to dissolve. Allow the solution to cool and gently pour it into your bottling bucket. Remember, everything must be sanitized.

Step 2: Rack your Beer to the bottling bucket

Rack your beer into your bottling bucket so that the beer mixes with the priming solution evenly. If you are using our deluxe kit, your bottling bucket is the 6.5 gallon bucket w/ the spigot attached that you used for primary fermentation.

Step 3: Prepare your bottles and bottling cane

Attach one end of a tube to your spigot and the other end to your bottling cane.  

Sanitize every bottle and all of your caps.  There are 2 ways to do this, you can put each bottle in sanitizer or you can put the bottles in the dishwasher to heat sanitize your bottles DO NOT USE DETERGENT if you run your bottles through your dishwasher on the sanitary cycle.

Step 4: Bottle your beer!

Put your bottling cane into a bottle so that the tip is depressed against the bottom of the bottle. When the beer reaches the very top of the bottle, pull the cane out and set the bottle aside to be capped.

The bottle in the picture to the Left shows the correct fill level once you remove your bottling cane from the bottle.

Step 5: Cap the Beer bottles

Repeat Step 4 45-50 more times, then cap the bottles.

Step 6: Wait for the beer to carbonate

DO NOT REFRIGERATE YOUR BOTTLES.  They will not carbonate.

 Continue to pace the floor for 10-14 days.  Ideally, put your next beer into secondary and brew another beer so the wait is even less excruciating next time.

Step 7: Enjoy your beer!

 Refrigerate a couple of bottles.

Open and enjoy.  Repeat as necessary.

Brew more beer!!!!

We hope this helps, and have fun on your brew day!  Remember, it wouldn’t be home brewing without a mishap, so don’t freak out if you forget something or make a mistake.  It happens to everyone, and you are likely to still end up with a mighty fine beer.  Cheers!

Make your Wine Extraordinary with Oak Chips, Cubes, and Sticks.

Make your wine stunning by adding oak to your wine makers arsenal. There are several types of wood from different regions of the world to add to your wine. Each oak type will offer different levels of oak intensity as well as different flavors to your wine. There are also different forms of this wood; chips, cubes, spheres and sticks/staves. But wait there is more, there are also different levels of toast that can also change the flavor contribution from the wood. All of these options give you that flavor you get from the staves of a wine barrel. There are a lot of varieties we have in stock but this guide will help you decide what Oak is for you.

Wine Stix
Oak Cubes

French, Hungarian or American Oak?

  • French Oak: French oak tends to lend the most delicate flavors to your wine. It is the least intense of the three popular regions. It is said that French oak gives the wine subtle spicy notes, and sometimes a roasted coffee character, as well as a silkier texture when compared to American or Hungarian oak.

  • Hungarian Oak: This option tends to fall somewhere between French and American oak. Flavor descriptions of Hungarian oak include vanilla, roasted coffee, bakers chocolate and black pepper.

  • American Oak: Oak grown in American is said to be the most potent of the three discussed here. It is often described as lending notes of vanilla and sometimes coconut. Leans more towards a creamy texture as opposed to a silky texture that you may get from French oak.

Oak Chips,Cubes, Spheres or Sticks?

  • Chips: Oak chips are designed for quick oak flavor extraction, however, they tend to be more one-dimensional than cubes, spheres or sticks. They have much more surface area contact with the wine, so oak flavor is extracted quickly. As a starting point, we recommend 1-2 ounces of chips per 5 gallons with about 2 weeks contact time.

  • Cubes: Oak cubes are designed for a longer contact time, and more depth of flavor. Typical dosage for cubes is 2-4 ounces per 5 gallons for 30-60 days until desired level of oak flavor is reached.

  • Spheres: The “Xoakers French Oak Spheres” are a nice option as they are easy to get in and out of carboys. They are also made of a higher quality oak than most chips and cubes. Dosage for spheres is 1 to 2 spheres per gallon for a minimum contact time of 4 months.

  • Sticks: WineStix are designed to simulate the oak flavor extraction you would expect from an actual barrel. There is a mix of short and long grains in these sticks very similar to what you would find in a barrel, but flavor is extracted in a shorter period of time. Each stick is designed to treat 5-6 gallons of wine. Recommended contact time is 2-3 months.

Wine Juice vs Grapes: Which is Right for Me

Harvest season is an exciting time at Perfect Brewing Supply!  Every Autumn we look forward to fresh grapes arriving from Northern California and every Spring we receive Juice buckets from the southern hemisphere.  This raises the question what should I choose whole grapes, or Juice Buckets? Check out our video to help you decide if you want to choose whole grapes or juice buckets, or both!

Juice Buckets

Juice buckets come pre-processed and often are even balanced for acidity all you need to do is add the yeast, let it ferment, then enjoy!  Juice buckets also tend to be less expensive per gallon of finished wine than whole grapes.  So far Juice Buckets seem like a great way to go but hold on to your hogshead there are some down sides to juice buckets. 

If you are making red wine the body tends to be thinner and they are lighter in color than wine made from whole grapes.  Also while some juice buckets come pre-balanced for acidy some do not which may require you to purchase acid additives.  There will also be less intense flavors and less flavor development than wines made from whole grapes.  Most of these downsides don’t apply to white wine so the kind of wine you want to make should play into your decision.

Whole grapes

The best part about using whole grapes is that you get to be in total control of the wine you make! You get to control the entire process from crushing to de-stemming, you can even blend different grape varietals to get different flavors or balance the acid of your wine. Grapes also come with natural yeasts on their skins which allows a more traditional spontaneous fermentation.   Just like with Juice buckets you can choose to pitch another yeast Varity into your wines fermenter.  If you like lots of color, depth of flavor, and body than whole grapes are for you because unlike juice buckets your fermenting on grape skins which give you all those great qualities!

Just like Juice Buckets whole grapes have their downsides as well.  You do need additional equipment.  You need a de-stemmer to remove the stems from the grapes then a crusher to get the juice out of the grapes, the great thing is both of these are items you can rent from Perfect Brewing Supply!   Also you will require a larger fermenter because your wine juice has to share space with the grape skins, and those skins you are going to need to punch down once per day for the first 2 weeks of fermentation or until you are ready to press.  


With whole grapes you get a lot more control and are more hands on in the wine making process. Juice buckets are less work and are a great option if you are ok with the limitations in color, body, and flavor development. We sell both Juice Buckets and Whole grapes at various times of the year, we also sell wine making kits you can use to make wine at any time.

Blending Beer for Complexity, Consistency & Fun

Written by Ryan Walker

Breweries have been blending beers for centuries. It is believed to be the most effective way to achieve consistency in complex beer styles such as sour and barrel aged beers. Many large-scale breweries even blend their more “standard” beers to have a more consistent product from batch to batch. Off Color’s Troublesome is a year-round beer and is actually a blend of two different beers. The main portion of the beer is a standard wheat beer w/ coriander (even described by their brewers as “boring on it’s own”). That beer is then blended with a second beer fermented with Lactobacillus. When the Lactobacillus beer is blended into the wheat beer, they are able to produce a much more complex, delicious, easy drinking Gose in a relatively controlled fashion.

Blending can also be used to save a bad batch in some cases. If you’ve brewed a beer that didn’t turn out exactly how you had hoped, blending may be the answer to save that batch from going down the drain. Figuring out what to blend it with and what proportions to use is the tricky part. The best way to figure these things out is to taste. Pull samples of each beer, get a couple of glasses with ounce or mL markings on them, and blend the beers in specific amounts. If you find a blend that works, simply scale that proportion up to fit the full batch size. For example, 1 ounce of this beer works well with 4 ounces of this beer. So you would then blend one gallon of the first beer into 4 gallons of the second beer.

Just a cool picture of some nice, bright Saison being transferred.

Blending is said to be it’s own “art” set apart from brewing. There are several “Blenderies” out there that do not even brew their own beer. They simply purchase wort from other breweries and then blend it in certain proportions to create their own beer. Hanssens Artisanaal in Belgium is a great example of a blender like this. They are the oldest existing blender in the world, and their beers are very highly regarded. I suggest trying any of their beers, but their “Oude Geuze” is a great place to start.

For my first adventure in blending, I decided to mix some old sour beer into some fresh Saison. I’ve had a 3 gallon carboy full of sour beer that I brewed back in May of 2015. It has been sitting neglected in a dark corner of my apartment for a long time (it even went through a move with me), so I figured it was time to do something with it. I’ve been tasting it throughout the years, and it is quite good on it’s own, but I felt some would find it a little too sour. Blending sounded like the perfect solution.

I did a lot of thinking and reading, and decided to go with a 25% Sour, 75% Saison blend. To be honest, I did not sit down and do a blending test with marked glasses. I decided to just go for it. I knew I wanted to only use the sour beer 1 gallon at a time so that the leftovers would fit nicely into 1 gallon jugs to be used in a future blend. I had 3 gallons of fresh Saison that was ready to bottle, and figured a nice even 25/75 blend made a lot of sense.

Transferring the Saison portion into the bottling bucket which already had the sour beer and priming solution in it.

For bottling, I prepared my priming solution like normal, only this time to prime 4 gallons of beer as opposed to my usual 3 gallons. Once everything was sanitized, I poured the priming solution into the bucket. Next, the 1 gallon of sour beer went in. I immediately racked the remaining 2 gallons of sour to 1 gallon jugs and capped them with a nice, tight-sealing cap (poly-seal) and set them back in the dark corner. The 3 gallons of Saison was then racked in with the priming solution and sour beer. I made sure to create a gentle swirl with the end of the siphon hose to ensure a nice mix of the sour, saison and priming solution.

About 2 gallons of leftover sour beer to be blended into something else in the near future.

Another reason I decided to go with this blend was that the yeast in the fresh Saison would be more than ready to chew those priming sugars in the bottle to create carbonation. If I had bottled the sour on it’s own, it is more than likely that the yeast in it would not be viable enough to create carbonation. If bottling a sour beer with a good amount of age on it, it’s a good idea to add fresh yeast at bottling. A rehydrated pack of CBC dry yeast has worked wonderfully for me in the past when bottling very old or high alcohol beers.

I have now had this beer in bottles for a little under 2 weeks and I couldn’t help myself but to try a bottle. The carbonation is definitely there, so I know that Saison yeast was definitely still working. The sour beer is definitely noticeable even at 25% of the batch, but much more restrained than if it were not blended, obviously. I have found that my Saisons hit their peak at about 2-3 months in the bottle, so I’m holding off my final judgment until then. At this point in time, the beer is tasting promising. I look forward to blending some more beers like this during the Summer, and I recommend you give it a shot yourself!

The Kegerator Arcade Build

Written by Andy Denton
Cheers to Arcades and Beer

This project was a ton of fun to build, but it will also teach me to keep my mouth shut when I am just spouting off about cool ideas in the presence of my wife. With that said, before I go any further I need to thank a few people who without their help this project would have never been completed. Kirk and Eddie of Graphic Partners, who printed the graphics, Amanda McCann who designed the images, Mark K who installed the controls and had a far better understanding of the the Raspberry Pi than myself, and my cousin Bryan who donated the cabinet from his personal collection. Thanks for all the help. In the end, this machine was auctioned off as part of a fundraiser for my kids school, Village Green Montessori.

Getting it loaded in Northern Michigan.
Originally a Williams Double Dragon Cabinet

Lots to remove before a kegerator would fit

This far into the project I realized a few things.

First, Northern Michigan had an obscene amount of snow this year 2018 /2019)

Second, These cabinets have about a thousand staples / nails holding them together and about 600 lbs of glue or so it seemed. It took considerably longer to remove things that I considered no essential to the functionality of the unit.

Third, I cut a lot of the structure out of the cabinet, lets hope it holds!

It Fits, barely!
Installing the graphics
New buttons and controls

We had to cut a new piece of metal to so we could add additional buttons to the cabinet. Unfortunately we did not have room to add more buttons.

We couldn’t fit a door on the front so we wrapped the door of the kegerator

Honestly the kegerator could not have fit more perfectly. It only has up to a 1/4 inch of room on each side.

This is the longest shank that we could find, and it just fit, almost like it was meant for this.
Testing before the monitor was installed.

Everything is running off of a Raspberry Pi with Retro Pi software. This could be the coolest little cpu on the planet.

Faucet Installed
Finished Product! Time to Test.
Ready for Auction

In the end stared and finished the build over the span of 5 days and several late nights. It raised over $2000 for Village Green! It was so much fun that I am searching for another cabinet or two…

Brewing Big Beers with Small Equipment

Written by Ryan Walker

When brewing at home, I am very limited due to the small amount of open space in my apartment, and zero outdoor space to set up a propane burner. Therefore, my brewing set up is somewhat minimal. I use two pots, one to hold my strike water (which then acts as my boil kettle) and another for sparge water, and a 10 gallon cooler w/ false bottom as my mash tun. I have an 8 gallon pot and a 5 gallon pot, but because I am only able to get about 4.5 gallons up to a nice, rolling boil on my stove top, I do 3-3.5 gallon batches that I boil in the 5 gallon pot. I’ve been doing it this way for years and have my system very well dialed in and am quite happy with the beers I’m able to produce this way.

I prefer to brew low – medium gravity beers, but occasionally I will brew a high gravity beer. After pondering what to brew next, I realized that I’ve never brewed an English Barleywine. I decided to go for it and did some reading on the style and how it is brewed. I found that, traditionally, these beers were brewed not much differently than standard English pale ales, but with a much longer boil time (usually around 3-4 hours). Although it sounded like a long brew day, I decided to go for it. However, on my system, if I were to boil my wort for 3-4 hours, I would only be left with a gallon or so in my 5 gallon pot. Such a long brew day with only 1 gallon to show for it? No thank you. I decided to get a little creative in order to get a better yield.

Running off through a hop spider to catch all grain husk material that might make it past the false bottom.

I started the brew day as normal by mashing in about 14 pounds of grain (remember, this is a 3 gallon batch) and hit my mash temp of 151F. I let the mash rest for about 90 minutes as I ran some errands. A slightly extended mash time helps to ensure as many sugars are converted as possible. I’ve noticed on my system that I lose some efficiency when brewing higher gravity beers (and I think this is typical of most systems). Typically around 5-8% efficiency loss, so I adjusted my Brewhouse efficiency from 68% to 60% when calculating my grain bill. I mashed a little bit on the thin side to ensure my first runnings would be about 4 gallons into the boil kettle. After recirculating and collecting my first runnings, I had about 4 gallons of thick, syrupy first runnings wort at around 1.084 SG. I started heating the first runnings as I continued sparging the grain bed into my other brew pot. By the time my first runnings had been boiling for about 30 minutes, I had another 3 gallons or so of second runnings wort (around 1.030 SG) that I began to bring to a boil on another burner on my stove.

Pre-boil wort, light orange color at 1.084 SG.

What I was doing was basically a “parti-gyle” brew, but instead of getting one big beer and one small beer, I decided to use the small beer to “top up” the boil on the big beer as it boiled and just go “all in” on the big beer. As the main beer boiled and concentrated, I continued to feed it more of the boiling second runnings to keep the volume up, but still continually concentrating the first runnings. After topping up and boiling off for about 4 hours, I decided to call it good. I still had a little second runnings left in the pot, so I could’ve continued to boil, but I figured 4 hours was long enough (plus, I was getting tired and still had to clean up). I transferred about 3.5 gallons into my fermenter, took an OG reading (1.102, an increase of almost 20 points from the pre-boil gravity), oxygenated the wort and pitched a big, healthy looking starter (OYL-006). I was pretty happy with this OG reading considering it comes out to almost 65% efficiency on my system, which is the highest I’ve gotten on a high gravity brew.

Post-boil wort, deep red color at 1.102 SG. So much maillard reaction!

The next morning, I oxygenated the wort one more time before leaving for work. A second dose of oxygen about 12 hours after pitching can be beneficial for very high gravity beers as the yeast typically needs more oxygen than it gets on the first dose. I came home that night to a very violent (or happy?) fermentation. Luckily, my fermenter was in my Cool Brewing Fermentation Cooler which not only keeps the fermentation temp a few degrees cooler than my apartment, but also contains quite a big mess. I cleaned it up, switched out the airlock and let it continue to rip (had to keep an eye on the airlock to make sure it didn’t clog for the first few days). After a week or so, the beer seemed to have fermented out completely. At time of writing this, it is still in primary right around the 4 week mark. I plan to move it to a secondary vessel very soon and allow it to age at least another 2-3 months before bottling (adding fresh yeast at bottling).

Cool Brewing Fermentation Coolers are more than just temp control. Contained quite a mess!

If you have a larger set up (a larger boil pot to hold an extra 4 gallons or so of wort pre-boil) and higher BTU output on your burner, then this method may not make sense for you. However, the extended boil is known to enhance the mouthfeel and viscosity of your wort (and of course increase the gravity), which many styles can benefit from, and this was the only way I could utilize an extended boil without sacrificing a large percentage of my yield. It seemed to work on my system pretty well, and I am happy with how it is going so far. Stay tuned for tasting notes some time in the next few months.

Lessons in Brewing Brut IPA

Written by Ryan Walker

The sound of a bone dry, effervescent, hop-forward beer is very appealing to me. As soon as I heard of this new style of IPA, I knew I had to try brewing it. Apart from THIS ARTICLE (which wasn’t published until after my first attempt at the style), there is not a whole lot of info out there on how to brew a Brut IPA properly. More and more info is coming to light as more brewers try their hand at the style.

I used the dry version of Glucoamylase packaged by FermFast. It has worked well for me in the past when added directly to the fermenter.

One of the biggest things that makes a Brut IPA so dry (terminal gravity around 1.000) is the addition of an enzyme called Glucoamylase (or Amyloglucosidase). This enzyme breaks down complex sugars created in the mash into more simple, easily fermented sugars. This enzyme is denatured at higher temperatures, so common practice is to add it either to the mash (around 143-146F) or directly to the fermentor right when you pitch your yeast (once the wort is chilled). For my first attempt at Brut IPA, I opted for the latter, mostly because it sounded easier. 

This method definitely worked quite effectively (that batch finished with a final gravity of .996… extremely dry), however, it felt like the hops were not shining as much as I would have liked. I dry hopped the beer quite heavily with about 8 ounces total in a 5 gallon batch, and they just seemed muted. Considering the massive dry hop, and the less-than-huge hop aroma of the beer, I was a little turned off by the style. A few weeks later, the article linked above was published. The creator of the style was interviewed for the article and gave his recommendations on how to go about brewing a Brut IPA. In the article, he recommends adding the enzyme to the mash. According to his experiences, the hop aromatics are much more pronounced when the enzyme is not present throughout fermentation. I had to try brewing a Brut IPA again.

We set up to brew another attempt at Brut IPA, and once the grain was doughed in and sitting around 144F, we added the enzyme and stirred it in to mix evenly into the mash. It was a busy day that day, so my attention was not solely on brewing, unfortunately. We let the mash sit around 144F for about 30-40 minutes before ramping up to 150F to denature the enzyme and finish up conversion. This is where things went wrong, I believe. I do not think I let the enzyme have enough time to finish it’s job. The rest of brew day finished up rather smoothly and the beers were fermenting happily the next day. We went about dry hopping and eventually kegged the beer when it was ready. When kegging, I took a final gravity of each carboy (half of the batch fermented with OYL-004 West Coast Ale and the other half with OYL-091 Hornindal Kveik from Omega Yeast Labs). The West Coast Ale yeast finished at 1.008 and the Hornindal at 1.010. I was a little disappointed, however, the beers are tasting and smelling great so it is not a total loss. I don’t think I can justifiably call this batch a Brut IPA, so considering the higher final gravity, I will just call it an Extra Pale Ale. Recipe is below for those interested.

Recipe for 10 Gallon Batch:

10 lb – German – Pilsner (50%)
7 lb – United Kingdom – Maris Otter Pale (35%)
1.5 lb – Flaked Rice (7.5%)
1 lb – Flaked Corn (5%)
0.5 lb – German – Acidulated Malt (2.5%)

1 oz – Hallertau Hersbrucker, AA: 3, First Wort
5 oz – Nelson, AA: 10.6, Whirlpool for 20 min
3 oz – Mosaic, AA: 11.3, Whirlpool for 20 min
4 oz – Nelson Sauvin Dry Hop for 4 days
2 oz – Vic Secret, Dry Hop for 4 days
5 oz – Nelson Sauvin Dry Hop for 2 days
2 oz – Galaxy Dry Hop for 2 days

The journey to brewing an awesome Brut IPA is still ongoing. For the next attempt, I will add a little more enzyme (looking back, I may have skimped on this a little) and let it rest in the mash for an entire hour, or maybe even longer just to be sure it does it’s thing. The article linked above is a great resource, but make sure you follow ALL of his directions, or you might just end up with a light-bodied IPA instead of a bone-dry Brut.