The Snow Hare Brewing Logo

Those of you that we have as an acquaintance on Facebook might know that we had a small “competition” for our nearby friends. For those of you that weren’t aware, the deal was as follows: anyone who saw the message and had any sort of design skills he wanted to show, would propose an idea/sketch of what they envisioned as our logo, the winner would get a 18-19 L batch of whatever beer they wanted made. Now, we didn’t just ask people to come up with whatever came to mind, we had a concept idea behind. Our original idea in naming our home brewery was in relation to Aztec mythology, in particular the Aztec god Ometochtli which translates as “Two Hare/Two Rabbit”. This god was the leader of the Centzon Totochtin a.k.a the 400 rabbit/hare gods of drunkenness and debauchery. This explains the Hare in the name, but not the snow. The Snow part comes from the fact that while I’m Mexican, my better half is Finnish, and “snow hare” is another name for one of the typical hares they have in Finland. So after much debating and brainstorming we decided on Snow Hare Brewing.

Ometochtli

                            Ometochtli

On to the juicy part…

We received a total of 4 submissions (+1 in joking manner, so it wasn’t considered). The people behind the designs were: Gina, Antti, Ville and Mika. We’ll go one by one (or more since some submitted more than one option). I’ll go in the order listed above.

Gina’s designs

Gina's design #2

Gina’s design #2

Gina's design #1

Gina’s design #1

These designs were cool because they’re easy to imagine as beer labels. Similarly, the follow quite strongly the reference to Aztec mythology as it is quite obvious.

Antti’s design

 

Anttis design

Antti’s design

This one we thought to be “sexy”, I mean, just look at the hare! Antti was planning on polishing the design more, but he didn’t have time to propose anything else.

Ville’s designs

Ville's design #1

Ville’s design #1

Ville's design #2

Ville’s design #2

Ville's design #3

Ville’s design #3

All three of Ville’s designs are really cool. We particularly liked the font he used and the general idea behind the logos, since they represented the idea we had very well. Design #3 was particularly spot on!

Mika’s design

Mika's design

       Mika’s design

There were a few other variations on this one, mostly playing with the expression of the hare, we settled for this smirking/drunk hare. It’s the funnest design of all.

And the winner is…

So, now that you’ve seen all the designs you might have a particular one you liked. But the one we liked the most and the winner of our little competition is Ville’s design #3. Here it is again, a bit bigger.

Ville's design #3

                  Ville’s design #3

We’re not sure if you all agree, but we really liked this design and we are discussing possible changes/improvements. So this is not the final final version, but it gives an idea of where it is going. It’s a very cool post-modern Aztec hare.

The prize beer

The prize beer is still under discussion, but it will most likely be some sort of Pale Ale or Brown Ale. The idea is to discuss the potential recipe with Ville and come up with something that he will be fond of.

Once the final version of the logo is ready we’ll post about it. You can also expect to see a format change in the blog. Till next time!

/R

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Apologies for the inactivity

First of all, an apology for not keeping this up to date, its been a busy year, we’ve had holidays, and our schedules just don’t always allow to write about all we’ve done. You can expect more frequent updates from now on, at least that’s our aim.

Second, when we started this blog we thought to use it as a way to document our homebrewing adventures. And to be honest that intention is still the same, but we’ve been a bit more active than I thought we’d be (and a bit more busy). Our last post was referring to Batch #6. At the moment of writing this it’s been 2 weeks since we finished Batch #13. That’s 13 batches in less than a year, some might think this is not much, but I feel its a considerable amount for the first year of getting into this. At the same time, we’ve been giving beers left and right and when people ask (or tell) about us, saying “We’re R&A brewing” sounds kinda lame and generic. In order to have a more distinctive name we decided to rename our blog and our ‘brewery’ if you will. As such.

Welcome to Snow Hare Brewing.

To close this post I’ll leave you with a list of the batches we’ve yet to write about so you have an idea of what to expect.

  • Batch #7 ESB
  • Batch #8 Mash Apocalypse #2 (AIPA)
  • Batch #9 Decadence Barley Wine (Voetto Collab)
  • Batch #10 Saison
  • Batch #11 Saison + Brett
  • Batch #12 Session IPA
  • Batch #13 Mash Apocalypse #3 (Brown Ale)

You can expect to read about these batches in the coming weeks.

L8rs!

/R

An ambitious attempt for a third beer

Yo! This wasn’t meant to be the next post, but Anni has been a bit busy lately and I brewed (with some friends) this last weekend. So this post will be about the beer we brewed and the lessons learned.

If you know me personally, and more specifically, if you know my personal beer tastes, you’ll know that I’m particularly fond of Imperial IPA’s. Given spring and summer are getting close and we have some beer plans we need to work on in the coming months I figured it was a good time to make an attempt at one of my favourite styles of beer.

The recipe used was the Hannah’s Ambrosia IIPA obtained from the Homebrewing for Dummies book. I changed some hops and malts due to availability and scaled it down a bit since we don’t have big enough equipment to brew a full 19L batch. The following recipe was obtained by the BrewMate software and scaled down to 15L.

Grain

  • 5.36 kg Maris Otter malt
  • 716 gr Pale malt
  • 178 gr Melanoidin malt (Replacement for DMC Aromatic malt)
  • 178 gr Amber malt (Replacement for DMC Biscuit malt)
  • 178 gr Carapils malt
  • 178 gr Wheat malt

Hops

  • 89 gr (reduced to 80 due to Alpha acids) Centennial for 60 min
  • 44 gr Cascade for 10 min
  • 44 gr Centennial for 10 min
  • 44 gr Willamette for 10 min
  • 22 gr Mount Hood for 10 min (Replacement for homegrown Cascade/Liberty  blend)

Dry hopping

  • 22 gr Centennial (time not specified, but will be 10 days)
  • 22 gr Willamette (time not specified, but will be 10 days)

Yeast

  • WLP002 English Ale

Mashing

The recipe specifies a 45 min mash at 68°C but I did it for 60 min, the strike water was a bit too hot when the mash started, so I decided to leave it a bit longer.

Boiling

60 min, normal boil. 15 min hot break boil before adding first hops.

Unusual/special ingredients 

  • 1 teaspoon of rehydrated irish moss as a clarifier

Fermenting

  • 7 days in primary
  • 16 days in secondary

That’s it for the recipe… as you can see the amount of grain used was huge, around 7 kg, the hops were also quite “abundant”… more than 200 gr for a 15L batch is a bit overboard; but I’m a hophead so I’m not so worried.

One particular issue with this beer was the aimed OG of between 1.09 and 1.1 (≈9.x ABV), which is considerably high. This “forced” me unto a new project, namely, a stir plate. I’ll make a post on the subject later, but suffice to say for the moment that it’s a device that allows you to double or triple the amount of yeast cells produced by a yeast starter. The starter was maintained for 48hrs before being put in the fridge for decanting on brewing day. Palmer and Nachel suggest that yeast starters be made for any beer over 1.045-1.050 OG. It allows the yeast to not be overwhelmed by the amount of sugars and enables the yeast to finish fermentation.But yeah… this is a subject on its own which we will address later…

Lessons learned

Ok… I have to admit this was an ambitious beer for a 3rd full grain batch… but it was also a very educational attempt. Just the amount of grain brings up new challenges. Some of the problems and lessons are listed below:

  • The strike water volume has to be carefully chosen so that it fits in the pot for example, likewise, the sparge water might be less than the amount used in normal mashing
  • Sparging should also be done slower and left longer to drip, the grain can hold huge amounts of wort, so if you’re too impatient you’ll waste a considerable amount of wort
  • Huge amounts of grain produce huge amounts of grub so you might want to consider filtering
  • Huge amount of hops merit the usage of hop bags, if not you’ll end up wasting a couple of liters of wort (unless you have a proper false bottom or filtering system)
  • High gravity beers might require 2-3 step yeast starters, plan well and use a starter calculator if necessary

Those are the lessons I learned this time. The cost of these lessons?

  • Shitty mash efficiency (OG of 1.072-1.076)
  • Barely 15L of beer in the fermenter with about 2-3L of grub

As I said previously, this was an ambitious beer for the 3rd try, but I don’t regret trying it, it taught me big lessons in one day.

Special thanks to Ville H., Ville A. and Antti P. for dropping by and helping/keeping me company.

l8rs!

/R

Priming and bottling the E.S.B

Alright! as promised… this is the short (hopefully) post on priming and bottling.

I have to say, this has got to be the most annoying part about brewing, and as far as I’ve read, I’m not the only one that thinks so. Fortunately I think this is mostly due to our equipment and not so much to the actual act of priming and bottling. So!, first things first, check out the following pic.

Pre-bottling

Pre-bottling

In the photo above you can see our equipment prior to bottling. On the left you can see some bottles, some are clean, some are not. then to the right of that you can see the caps, the siphon and the cap placer. All the way to the right you can see the fermenter with the pre-carbonised beer. On the bottom you can see our brewing pot. Since we don’t have a bottling bucket at the moment, we used the pot to both disinfect and prime.

The pot filled with disinfectant was used to fill the bottles and then rinse them. Since it’s StarSan, we didn’t really need to wait for it to dry and we just bottled that way. Once we had everything ready and all the bottles lined up in the disinfectant pot we started preparing the primer.

Priming

Priming as many of you probably already know, is the act of adding some more fermentable materials to the pre-bottled beer to enable a bit of extra fermentation. This extra fermentation is not so much to create more alcohol as it is to carbonate the beer. That is generate a bit more CO2 in the bottle and create the bubbles, the head (Proteins and lipids also affect this though) of the beer and its general fizziness. There are two ways to do this: the old way, and the better way.

  • The old way.- basically add a teaspoon of sugar to each bottle. The advantage of this is the capability to bottle directly from the fermenter, the disadvantage is that your pouring solids into a bottle, possible inequality in the distribution, and its generally annoying.
  • The better way.- Having a bottling bucket (or similar) use a liquid solution with fermentables and mix it equally with all the beer.

The amount of fermentables depends on the type of fermentable used. In our case, since we used table sugar we used around 90 grams boiled in 2 cups of water, then cooled it a bit. The normal amount for a 19L batch is around 114 grams, but we had a 17L batch, so we made some “on the fly” estimation and put 90. This mixture was put at the bottom of the pot we were using as a bottling bucket. After this was done we started siphoning the beer from the fermenter to the bottling pot. We avoided any stirring and rough transfer to avoid oxidation. You can see part of the transfer in the following pic.

Filling the bottling pot

Filling the bottling pot

Once the pot was full we used a large spoon (disinfected of course) to mix in the mixture, carefully avoiding oxidation. As I recall, it is suggested to leave this sitting for around 30 minutes before bottling, but since we were in a hurry we decided to go ahead and do it.

Bottling

Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get any good pictures of the actual bottling as this required both of us to be helping in handing the bottles over. The basic process is quite straight forward though. It is only required to put the siphon in the bottling bucket(pot) and start siphoning into bottles. Since we didn’t have a filling tube we had to pinch between bottles… it was very messy. In the end though we managed relatively fine. We filled 20 swing top bottles which saved a lot of caps and helped my patience. The other 20+ bottles were capped with a very old, very annoying tool. We broke one bottle and had some troubles, but in general we managed to bottle ok. We now have a bottling tube so hopefully next try will be better.

Storing

The bottles have been stored now for 1 1/2 weeks in a dark place. This Sunday will be the official trial and we’ll see how bad or good it came out. Expect the first evaluation post at some point next week.

Oh! I almost forgot…

Final Gravity! we took a measurement before bottling and we got the FG around 1.010. This means we got an ABV of around 5.2%. I got this calculation with an online calculator, I didn’t feel like doing numbers at that point.

Next post will be about our second beer recipe. Anni will post that at some point this week or next. See you then!

/R

The first beer – E.S.B

Unexpectedly, this post will not be about the equipment we bought to make beer – although that post is currently in progress under Anni’s fingers – no, this post is about our first beer and the process we followed to make it!

This decision came before the original schedule because we received all the ingredients and missing equipment during the week. Having everything in hand… well… we decided what the hell!

Ok, on to the fun stuff! We wanted to make a beer that is fresh-ish, but not too light and not to heavy, so we decided to go for an Extra Special/Strong Bitter. The recipe we followed was obtained from the Homebrewing for Dummies book by Marty Nachel, mentioned in the previous post. The recipe won the 1st Place Award in the American Homebrewers Association Nationals and was brewed by Andy Leith. We followed the recipe almost completely, but changed a few things for two reasons:

  • Lack of experience in attempting to execute a step mash (mashing at different temperatures for different times)
  • Lack of secondary fermenter

The modified recipe was as follows:

  • Base grain: 4.3 Kg of Pale Ale malt
  • Specialty grain: 200 grams of 100-L Crystal malt
  • Bittering hops: 50 grams of Willamette hops (90 min)
  • Bittering hops: 15 grams of Cascade hops (90 min)
  • Finishing hops: 25 grams of East Kent Goldings (2 min)
  • Yeast: Wyeast #1084
  • Mashing: Single step mash at 67°C (90 min)
  • Primary: Undecided yet, but will be between 8-14 days
  • Batch size: 18L

Another thing to have in mind is the beer profile for E.S.B’s, this is:

  • OG/FG: 1-048-1.060+ / 1.010-1.016
  • ABV: 4.6-6.2
  • IBU’s: 30-50+
  • SRM: 6-18

Ok, now for the fun stuff, since this is the first post related to our homebrewing, I’ll describe the process step by step, further posts will focus on the recipe and general process without many details. So!, the process can basically be divided into sanitising, mashing, sparging, boiling, cooling, pitching and fermenting.

Before moving on to the steps I’d like to point out that we had a little software help. There are a few applications out there that are pretty helpful for the beginning brewer, some are: BeerSmith2 and BrewMate. For this beer we used BrewMate (http://www.brewmate.net/), which is free software for Windows that pretty much does all the math for you in terms of amounts of water to use for mashing, sparging, temperatures, etc. It basically makes all the calculations based on the ingredients you want to use and the desired beer outcome, so it saves quite a bit of trouble in making beer. We’ll write a review on some of these applications at some point. For now, on to the brewing!

Sanitising

This is not just cleaning. This is actually disinfecting all the equipment that will come in contact with your wort with special agents. This subject deserves a post of its own, but suffice it to say that it basically consists of diluting disinfecting chemicals in water(i.e. chlorine, ammonia, iodine-based sanitisers, lye, percarbonates, etc.) and using this to disinfect everything.

Mashing

According to BrewMate, for the amount of malt we were using we needed to bring 12 L of water to the strike temperature of 74°C, once this was done we put the malt bag in the pot and added the malts. It looked something like this:

Mashing

Adding malts to strike water

Adding the grain brought the water to the desired temperature of 67°C. This is because most of the fermentable sugars from the grain are obtained between >60°C and <70°C. After this we insulated the pot with an old sleeping mat and a sleeping bag. So the result was the following:

Insulating the mash pot

Insulating the mash pot

An important thing to highlight is that is that BECAUSE we used a mashing bag for the malts the “Mash tun”(another container that is used when you have no bag, a cooler is typically used for this) was not necessary. While the mash was on-going, we checked the temperature and stirred every 20 min. All in all, we mashed for 90 min and the temperature never went below 64°C. The insulation worked better than expected. After this we put the kettle on the inductive stove and put the temperature up to 71°C-75°C for 12-15 minutes. This was the “mash-out”. Doing a mash-out is not necessary, but its recommended since it makes the wort warmer, less sticky and easier to filter, and it also destroys the left over enzymes in the malt.

Sparging

Once the mashing was done, we took another 13 L of water preheated to 84°C per BrewMate instructions and prepared for sparging. Sparging, is basically a post-mash filtering/sugar obtaining process to finish getting the wort. We took the mashing bag out, put an oven grill below it and let it drip the left over wort for a while as seen below:

Dripping the left over wort

Dripping the left over wort

After this was done, we started adding the 13L of sparging water to obtain as much wort as possible from the grain. As seen in the following picture:

Adding sparge water

Adding sparge water

Once this was done we had roughly 22L of hot wort. Now, at this point what we did was take a sample, lower the temperature of the sample to 20°C and measure the gravity. Our aim was to get a gravity of 1.045ish, but the measure turned out to be 1.019 (which is really bad). Fortunately for us, we remembered that we hadn’t mixed the sparge wort with the base wort before taking the sample. So we mixed it, took a sample, and voilá! a gravity of 1.046 🙂

With this gravity we estimated the “mashing efficiency”, which translates to the efficiency in abstracting fermentable wort from malts. Since I won’t go into maths in this post I’ll just say that the estimated efficiency was between 65-72% which is not bad for a first try. I’ll make a separate post on calculating efficiency at some point in the coming weeks.

Boiling

After the mashing, we needed to bring the wort to a boil. We put the inductive plate to max power and waited for the boil to come. It took almost 20 min to get the boil, but we got it. We boiled for about 10 min while we added the bittering hops to the hop bags (think tea bags) and then we added them into boiling wort. This was done for 90 minutes. 2 minutes before the end of the 90 min boil we added the finishing hops.

Weighing the hops

Weighing the hops

At the 90 min mark we took out all the the hop bags out of the wort and turned the induction plate off. Wort preparation complete.

Removing the hop bags from wort after boil

Removing the hop bags from wort after boil

The wort once boiled had some floating stuff in it, these were basically the proteins from the mash that coagulated. Its normal, and its actually desired to have them around, since its a good indication that the wort is good. I’ve read that some brewers like to filter it before adding it to the fermenter, while others prefer not to. I guess its a matter of choice.

Cooling

Once the boil was done, we used a cold water bath to cool it down. Depending on who you ask (or read), its IMPERATIVE to cool down the wort within 40 minutes of the boil. To do this you need a heat exchanger or immersion cooler, but since we didn’t buy one, we went for the water bath. Some Finnish homebrewers and friends use the “No chill” method, which is basically letting the wort cool overnight in the sealed fermenter(to prevent oxidation) and pitching the yeast the morning after once the temperature of the wort is in the 20°C range. For the water bath we changed the water a couple of times, went to eat, came back to change the water, and then went for some beers. Upon return we checked the temperature, it was 21°C.

Next, we poured the wort into the sanitised fermenter. At this point you want make the pour as vigorous as possible so that the wort gets oxygen in it and it helps the yeast cells eat. Once inside the fermenter we took another gravity measurement. Unlike the previous one that was used to calculate the efficiency, this one was to get the Original Gravity(OG). This let us know the “alcohol potential” of the beer, our measurement came up as 1.050-1.052 which equals an alcohol potential of around 7%. See picture below.

OG measurement

OG measurement

Pitching

For the pitching (putting yeast into the wort), we pre-activated a “Smack Pack” the evening before brewing day. A smack pack is basically a bag that contains two things:

  • Yeast
  • Nutrients for the yeast

The nutrients are enclosed in a sealed package inside the bag, so to activate the yeast one just needs to literally “smack” the package to break in inner container and let the yeast activate. Depending on the age of the yeast it is recommended to activate 3-5 hours before pitching or 2-3 days before pitching. The final step before fermentation was simply to pitch the yeast into the wort, seal the fermenter and put on the water lock and shake the fermenter vigorously to mix the yeast and put more oxygen into the wort. The water lock allows CO2 to leave the fermenter, but prevents oxidation during fermentation.

Fermentation

The fermentation of our beer is currently still on-going, we expected to hear the water lock bubbling the morning after pitching, but it took a bit longer to start. It wasn’t until about 15-18 hours after pitching that we started hearing a constant bubbling and seeing a nice “krausen” (the foam at the top of the beer when fermenting) developing. At the moment of this writing the fermentation has slowed, but is still ongoing. We’re not sure if we’ll leave it for 7-8 days or if we’ll do it for 14 days, we plan on measuring the gravity on day 7 to see if the beer is ready or not and then decide if we bottle or not. Until then let’s see what happens!

l8rs!

-R

Studying material

As promised during the last post, this one is about books, and the subject of the books, is of course, homebrewing!

Given that we started the search on the subject on our own, with some, but not much discussion or suggestions by friends we just went to google and amazon. The choice was done based on the reviews we read. After some reading and discussions with friends, both in Finland and Mexico,  it seems we chose the right books. Now, we bought 4 books to start with, these were:

  • “Homebrewing for Dummies” by Marty Nachel
  • “How to Brew” by John J. Palmer
  • “For the Love of Hops, The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops”, by Stan Hieronymus
  • “Michal Jackson’s Beer Companion”, by the same dude in the title

This review will only focus on the first two books, since the other ones have either not been read or have other purposes. However, as general information, the “For the Love of Hops” is a very complete book on hops, how they work, their different varieties and how they affect the flavour and aroma of beer. “Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion” is a book that describes everything about beer, from the history of different kinds of beers, their flavours, aromas, descriptions, etc. While we haven’t read them yet, they seem very promising for the beer geek, but they are by no means necessary to start brewing.

Now, starting with the dummies book, which cover you can see below.

One thing to consider, is that I’m not a pro book reviewer or anything of the sort, and we’ve still haven’t made any brews yet, so this review is only based on impressions based on learning experience and content. Now, if you’ve read any books from the dummy series you’ll know that they are very easy to read and the content is usually organised in a very digestible manner. In this case the same holds true. The book is basically organised into 7 big sections (renamed):

  1. Basic theory
  2. Beer theory
  3. How to brew
  4. Recipes
  5. Alternative brewing
  6. Putting your beer to the test
  7. Miscellaneous

The main sections are the first four, so I’ll focus on detailing those a bit and then just mention briefly what the others talk about.

Basic theory

This section talks about hygiene, the general process of beer and the equipment necessary to brew beers. The equipment is separated into 3 levels, beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Beer theory

This section talks about the ingredients of beer: Water, Malt, Hops and Yeast. It does so in a separate manner and then puts the whole jumble together. It explains what each ingredient of beer does, how it works and how it affects the overall resulting beer.

How to brew

Here’s where the fun starts, this section focuses on how to brew from start to end. It does so in a similar manner to the equipment classification; using 3 levels. Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced brewing.

Recipes

A very thorough list of beer types (around 50+) that can be made, also classified to beginner, intermediate and advanced brewing levels. Some of the recipes were donated by award winning homebrewers.

Sections 5,6 and 7 focus on making cider, mead and using weird ingredients and spices. They also have content on DYI equipment for brewing, how to taste and evaluate beer, and how to troubleshoot your brewing.

On to book two! -> How to Brew, shown below.

How to Brew

Disclosure, I haven’t finished reading this book yet. But to be honest, I don’t think I need to in order to provide my view on it.

In general, the content on both books is the same, they both cover EVERYTHING the beginner needs to start brewing. In the sections I’ve read of this book, I get the impression that the dummies book leaned heavily on this one. Some of the analogies used are similar, or the same, and the general feel is also very similar. I say this and not the opposite because Palmer published his book in 2005-2006 while the dummies book came out in 2008. Now, taking into consideration that the books have the same or similar content I have to say I prefer the way its presented in this book. There are more pictures and photos and its easier to know what the author is talking about. The annex section is also richer and is a bit more on the technical side compared to the dummies book (which does mention techie stuff, but not as thoroughly). One thing that could be considered a downside is that this book has less recipes, but really, it doesn’t matter too much since thousands of recipes can be found online in any case. Another thing that is a bit better in the Palmer book, particularly if you’re into process learning, is that it suggests recipes and walks you through these. This, leads me to one of my 2 issues with both of these books.

The first issue, is the teaching approach. Both follow the beginner, intermediate and advanced brewing division. To clear this up, and since I haven’t done it yet, this refers to the following:

  • Beginner – Malt extract brewing
  • Intermediate – Malt extract brewing with specialty malts and hops
  • Advanced – Full grain brewing

Now, don’t get me wrong, this is the correct way to go; its the best way for a COMPLETE beginner to go about things. But, if you’re in my situation, namely someone who has brewed at the beginner level but wants to skip to the advanced without going through intermediate, the books aren’t so straight forward. In other words, you have to read all levels and get familiar with all the processes at all levels to understand the advanced… why? because each new level excludes what was already learned in the previous level. That being said, this a very particular situation to be in, and its our fault in any way, so don’t let this detract from both books, they truly are good books.

The second issue is, being a stickler for details (and equipment) and overwhelming details. By this (and this is just my opinion) I mean that since the book is written by absolute and awesome beer geeks, they go overboard with the needed equipment and necessary processes,  and while they explain other methods they don’t give enough credit to the simplest ones (they don’t give many examples of how to use them). To be more specific, if you’re in a situation like us (skipping brewing levels) its overwhelming to have to worry about everything. This is highlighted by the fact that Anni has been reading Finnish brew blogs and I’ve been reading books written by pure american home brewers. As an example of this conflicting view, the following list contrasts the generic Finnish homebrewer (according to blogs and friends), to the american homebrewer (according to the books reviewed here) in terms of “Full Grain” brewing:

  • Water pH.-  Finns don’t really care, books suggest controlling pH to different acidity depending on the beer.
  • Mashing.- Finns use one big pot with a huge infusion bag and control temperature with a mix of stove and water. Books suggest having 2-3 25L pots/containers and the mashing process consists of regulating the temperature with hot and cold water.
  • Fermentation.- Finns sometimes use secondary fermentation and mostly bottle after first fermentation, books suggest that secondary fermentation is usually compulsory (depending on the recipe).

To be clear, the list and the generalisation above is meant as an example and by no means does it discredit either parties. I just find this particularly interesting due to the situation we’re in: Do we want to be a stickler for details and have all the most awesome equipment for our first “advanced” level beer? Or do we compromise between both advanced and simple processes?

As far as we’ve discussed, we’re compromising between both. And in terms of book reviews and personal suggestions the conclusion can be the following:

  • If you’re starting or are interested in starting to brew, both books are good, but I’d incline towards the Palmer book. Especially if you’re interested in math, engineering and the nuances of beer making.
  • If you want to be a stickler for details and want to have ALL the equipment needed to make this easy, you only need the books and a significant initial investment.
  • If you want to brew advanced level beer(full grain) using a simpler process I’d suggest a mix of book education and blog/forum education.
  • Above all, I’d suggest to not be overwhelmed by details. It’s very easy to get to the point of knowing too much but not having a clear view. Read, learn, don’t worry and DO, ultimately that’s the only way to learn.

Ignoring the fact that this has turned out to be a longer post than expected, I hope you enjoyed it. Our next post will probably by related to our equipment and what we’ve bought.

l8rs!

/R

So…

Anni and I have been discussing for the last few months about starting to homebrew… given that we’re both beer geeks to some degree we’ve decided to take it up a notch! I’ve brewed before, but not properly, only using the malt extracts and not being very successful. That, ideally, all changes now. We’ve bought some basic educational material, we’ve spoken with friends, checked out blogs, bought missing equipment and are currently in the final preparations to start home brewing as a hobby. 

This blog will document our adventures and misadventures in the art of beer making. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as we plan to! 🙂

As a warning; posts will be mostly in English, but Spanish and Finnish will also be around now and then, if we think the post is worthy we’ll post the corresponding translation. 

Cheers!

/R

PS. Dunno when we’ll post again, but you can expect the following post will be about reading materials, and starter kits and how we’ve gone about all the preparations.