Brewing A Coffee Stout Beer Kit – Part Two

Partial Mash BrewingThis weekend I brewed my latest homebrew recipe kit from E. C. Kraus: Captain Cogsworth Coffee Stout.
Though I often brew all-grain, I enjoy other methods of making beer. For example I like partial mash brewing for a number of reasons. For one, partial mash brewing takes less time. I can usually do a partial mash brew in about four hours, as apposed to six for all-grain, cleaning and sanitation steps included. Most of the time savings come from eliminating the mash and lauter steps. Bringing the wort to a boil is faster too, since you’re dealing with about half as much liquid. It’s also nice that after steeping the grains you only have to dispose of half a pound of grain, not twelve, and there’s no mash tun to clean out.
When I brew partial mash brewing kits, I will sometimes make small adjustments to the recipe in the box. For this coffee stout beer kit, I added a little extra base malt to the steeping grains for a more grainy malt flavor and a little diastatic power. The extra grains may contribute some extra body and mouthfeel as well.
The first step in partial mash brewing (after cleaning and sanitation, of course) was steeping the specialty grains. I used pure RO water from the store. After about 20 minutes at 150°F, it was time to bring the wort to a boil.Shop Steam Freak Kits
This is the point where malt extract is added to the wort. Regardless of whether brewing on the stove or on a gas burner, I always turn off the heat before adding the malt extract. This helps prevent a boil over. After adding the malt extract, the wort smelled glorious! A lot like hot cocoa.
After bringing the wort to a boil, I added the first round of hops, in the case of this Cogsworth coffee Stout, one ounce of Northern Brewer. Thirty minutes later, I added the rest of the hops: one ounce Tettnanger. With 15 minutes left in the one-hour boil, I added a couple additional ingredients that weren’t called for in the beer recipe with this kit: Irish moss and yeast nutrient. In my experience, these can help with clarity and fermentation, and I’ve simply gotten into the habit of adding them to every brew.
As with bringing wort to a boil, chilling a wort with the partial mash brewing method is much faster. I was able to chill the wort with my immersion wort chiller in basically half the time compared to doing a full wort boil. After that, all I did was pour about two gallons of water into my sanitized fermenter, pour the wort on top, top off to five gallons, and then stir to mix and aerate. Sometimes I will top off a little more than five gallons just to account for losses in trub.
Shop Wort ChillersSo far, the partial mash brewing directions that came with this brew kit have worked well. I took a quick hydrometer sample (1.059 – right on target!), pitched the yeast, and in a couple weeks I’ll be ready to add the coffee! Based on how the coffee smells…I’m excited!

Part I – Brewing a Coffee Stout
Part II – Brew Day, Partial Mash
Part III – Adding Coffee, Priming
Part IV – Final Tasting Notes
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

Brewing A Coffee Stout Beer Kit – Part One

Coffee Stout Beer KitCoffee and beer have become a natural combination in the beer world. There are versions by Sam Adams, New Belgium, and nearly every other craft brewer out there. In the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America 12-pack, a coffee milk stout was one of the most highly rated beers in the variety pack.
In brewing, coffee is most often paired with stout. It’s a style that’s robust enough for winter, and if you enjoy coffee as much as I do, it’s a beer you can drink again and again.
Which leads me to why my next brew is the Steam Freak’s Captain Cogsworth Coffee Stout Beer Kit. Here’s the recipe from the ingredient kit I’ll be brewing:

Steam Freak Captain Cogsworth Coffee Stout Beer Kit
(Extract with specialty grains, five-gallon batch)
Style: American Stout with Coffee
Target OG: 1.060
Target FG: 1.016
Target ABV: 5.5%
IBUs (Bitterness): 46
SRM (Color): 36
6.6 lbs. Dark Liquid Malt Extract Shop Coffee Stout Beer Kit
1.0 lbs. Dark Dried Malt Extract
4 oz. Caramel 60°L malt
4 oz. Roasted barley
8 oz. Chocolate malt
1 oz. Northern Brewer hops at :60
1 oz. Tettnanger hops at :30
1 packet Fermentis Safale US-05
Also included in this kit:

Planning How To Brew This Beer Ingredient Kit

You might be wondering how exactly the coffee should be added to this coffee stout beer kit recipe. Should it be added to the boil? To the fermenter? There are several ways to do it. Each will give the beer a different coffee character. I’d advise against adding the coffee to the boil, unless throwing it in at the very end. It probably won’t ruin the beer, but adding the coffee during the boil might give the beer too much of a bitter, astringent taste.
The E. C. Kraus kit directions recommends adding the coffee at bottling time. Though making hot coffee will be the quickest and easiest way, cold brewed coffee offers an opportunity for rich coffee flavor while minimizing added bitterness. To do this, I’ll need to prepare the coffee in advance.
To make cold brew coffee, mix the ground coffee with water about 24 hours in advance. You generally mix cold brew coffee with 1/2-1/3 less water than you would making a regular batch. I’ll plan on mixing the 3 oz. of coffee that comes with this coffee stout beer kit with about 18 oz. of pre-boiled, pre-chilled, filtered water.
Shop Fridge MonkeyI’m no barista, but I like to think I have a pretty good nose for coffee. I opened the bag of coffee to give it a whiff – boy am I excited to brew this batch! Stay tuned to see how this coffee stout beer recipe goes!

Part I – Brewing a Coffee Stout
Part II – Brew Day, Partial Mash
Part III – Adding Coffee, Priming
Part IV – Final Tasting Notes
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

What is a Winter Beer?

You’ve heard the term “winter beer” but do you really know what a winter beer is? Would you be able to name one or two? More than just a beer that’s brewed during the colder months, so-called winter brews are crafted to be hearty and satisfying when the temperature drops, similar to a good meatloaf or a savory beef stew. Beer enthusiasts say the tradition of brewing winter beers originated in the British Isles and Germany where creating special winter brews to banish the chill had been going on for centuries.
Characteristics of a Winter Beer

  • Thicker and more full-bodied than ordinary beer
  • Generous malt presence, both in flavor and body
  • Some are spiced or flavored with pumpkin, cloves or nutmeg; others stand alone on the artful combination of malt and hops
  • Generally made with less water (thus having a higher alcohol content than ordinary beers)
  • Color of a winter beer can range from a light red to a dark, inky black.

Serving Winter Beers
Most winter beers are best served just slightly below room temperature, at about 50 degrees. Serving malty brews that are fully chilled tends to mask their flavor. Unlike lighter, “summer” beers, winter beers are designed to be consumed slowly, not chugged.
Brew your own winter beer today with our homebrew beer making kits and visit us on Facebook to let us know your favorite winter brew.

Winter Beer: Five You Won’t Want to Miss!

barrel with snow on top
Winter is not only a time of celebration but also a great time for specialty beers. Many breweries make small batches of their own special beer recipes to sell seasonally. These beers can range from simple to complex and can be made “extra wintery” through a specific fruit ingredient or special spice blend. If you are looking to add to your tasting arsenal, here are a few specialty brews that we recommend keeping an eye out for this season:
Anchor Steam Christmas Ale – Since 1975 Anchor Brewing has created distinctive Christmas Ale. This ale is available only from early November to mid-January and is a rich, dark spiced ale. Each year the Christmas Ale recipe changes – just like the bottle label – but their intent of “joy and celebration of the newness of life” remains the same.
Goose Island Christmas Ale – Similar to Anchor Steam, Goose Island changes the recipe to their Christmas Ale each year so there is something different to look forward to every year. Their Christmas Ale is a bitter brown ale with additional spices that change year to year. Goose Island is only available from November to December and they suggest pairing their Christmas Ale with Aged Gouda or a Dry Jack cheese.
Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale – Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale is a full body beer resulting from “fermentation in stone Yorkshire squares” and has an appealing taste to many beer advocates. The type of hops used, Fuggle and Golding, are not kept secret. While the recipe stays constant each year, the image used on their label changes annually.   
Heavy Seas Winter Storm Ale – This winter Ale draws on hops from the West Coast and the UK for its pronounced bitterness. A mix of pale and darker malts give it its tawny color and its bigger body. This ale has a nice nuttiness and earthiness to it and is available from October to December. Similar to Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale, Heavy Seas uses UK Fuggle and Goldings hops. This Ale is ideally paired with a nice Brie cheese or pan-seared steak.
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale – Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale has been brewed since 1981 and is a “festive fresh hop holiday fun”. This Celebration Ale is one of the earliest examples of an American-style IPA. This specific ale is best known for its intense citrus and pine aromas. Celebration Ale is bold in taste and features Cascade Centennial and Chinook hops and is best paired with fish and chips or manchego cheese.
Now that we have told you our favorite winter ale, what’s your brew of choice this time of year?  If you want to get started on brewing a winter batch, you can start with our Homebrewing Kit!

Making it Personal: Brewing Your Own Beer for Holiday Gifts

Who doesn’t love receiving their own personalized gift for the holidays? Why not give your own home-brewed beer? Don’t forget that the full beer brewing cycle does take around 45 days so get started soon and you’ll have time to give your perfect gift.
In order to brew your own beer at home you’ll need to make sure you have at least one beer brewing kit, which should contain all of the main supplies and ingredients you will need to brew beer, except for something to pour your finished beer into. We suggest purchasing the EZ-Cap Beer Bottles, which hold 16 oz. of beer and they already come with a top so you don’t have to worry about capping your own bottles for each individual bottle of beer. The EZ-Cap Beer Bottles are also a nicely designed bottle, which could serve as a nice gift.
Lastly, don’t forget to jazz up your beer bottles, not only with your own personalized beer label, but you can also package your beer with your secret recipe or with a special message to family and friends.

Halloween Fun: Turn your pumpkin into a keg

Want a way to spice up your Halloween party and you think pumpkin carving is fun? Now that it’s fall, it’s time to try turning your pumpkins into a kegs. Just like you would when you are carving your favorite scary faces into a pumpkin, for a keg, the steps will be quite similar. Follow this guide and you’ll have a pumpkin keg in minutes.

  1. Carve a circle around the pumpkin stem to create the “top” of the pumpkin.
  2. Take out the “guts” of the pumpkin – get every last seed, as even one could clog your keg!
  3. Pick the sturdiest part of the pumpkin for spigot placement and trace a hole for cutting. Note: Don’t make the hole too big! Carve it a little smaller so you can force the spigot through and create as tight of a connection as possible.
  4. Pour your favorite fall beer into the pumpkin and enjoy. Try your favorite pumpkin ales or other similar beers.  Just don’t leave them sitting too long with beer in them or they’ll get soggy.

Hint: Place your pumpkin keg on an elevated surface so your guests can easily serve themselves. A cake stand is a perfect solution for this.

Top 5 Fall Beers Not to Miss

Fall is a great time for beer. There are plenty of pumpkin flavored beers, Oktoberfest and college and pro football to celebrate. Check out one of these world class brews the next time you’re cruising your local beer store.
Buffalo Bill’s “Original Pumpkin Ale”
Buffalo Bill’s was the first brewery in modern times to brew with orange squash, which is starting to become the official vegetable of fall and with Halloween and Thanksgiving, the demand is just increasing over time. It has been said that their Original Pumpkin Ale is modeled after the pumpkin ale George Washington is believed to have brewed. This beer has a golden orange color and a spicy nose reminiscent of the first whiff of a freshly baked pumpkin pie; it is pumpkin pie in a bottle.
Gordon Biersch’s “Weizeneisbock”
Part of Gordon Biersch’s Braumeister Selekt limited release series is the German Weizeneisbock beer. Dan Gordon, the co-founder of Gordon Biersch, speculates that his brewery could possibly be the first in the world to brew this unique style of beer. Weizeneisbock is made primarily from malted wheat, and is transformed through a process of freezing the water molecules and then removing the frozen portion. This results in a concentration of alcohol and flavor, making the alcohol strength more noticeable at 10% and with a rich dark roasted malt flavor. Gordon notes the black licorice flavor is rounded out with a banana and clove flavoring that compliments the top fermenting Bavarian Hefeweizen yeast strain. Get this soon because production was limited to only 3,500 cases!
Harpoon’s “Octoberfest”
Harpoon’s Octoberfest is brewed with two festivals in mind; their own Octoberfests in Boston, MA and Windsor, VT. Harpoon “loves the style” of its Octoberfest beer and feels it’s a great beer for the fall season. The Harpoon Octoberfest is their malty tribute to fall, balanced by gentle hop bitterness. It is a Marzen-style beer, brewed with an abundance of munich, chocolate malt and pale malts. These malts provide a solid, full body and create the beer’s deep color. It is a rich, flavorful beer. Many people especially like this beer because it’s still hoppy, while being careful not to taste too much like pumpkin pie.
Clipper City Brewing Company’s “Heavy Seas Marzen”
In 1994, Hugh Sisson, turned his brewpub (Sisson’s) into the Clipper City Brewing Company. The brewery has scored big with their Marzen offering, capturing seven medals at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup from 2006-2012. Typical for a Marzen, it pours a copper orange color and is well balanced with just enough Noble hops to allow the Crystal, Vienna and Munich malts to dominate with flavors of caramel and toasted bread. This beer is not watery and has a lot of carbonation that gives it a satisfying feel.
New Belgium Brewing’s “Dunkel Weiss or Dunkelweizen”
Dunkelweizens is a darker and more robust version of their German hefeweizen cousin. New Belgium Brewing’s adaptation of the German wheat beer style bumps up the alcohol to a nice 9% ABV. Adding black pepper gives this beer its Belgian-like character. Earthy, toasty and chocolate notes are derived from dark malts, making this beer a big strong dark Weiss beer that is a worthy companion for the cooler fall temperatures. The Dunkelweizen has a deep amber brown appearance and a dense off-white head. Focusing on its environmental side, New Belgium Brewing has become the first brewery in the U.S. to purchase 100% of its electricity from wind-generated power.
While these are just some of the great fall beers, this is by no means a comphehensive list. Visit your local beer store and talk to them about their favorite beer for the fall. Everyone will have an opinion on this topic and don’t forget you can always make your own special fall beer by brewing beer at home.

Selecting the Right Type of Glass for Your Beer

Just like wine, different beers have different characteristics that require special glasses to fully capture the flavor profiles of each type.  As soon as the beer hits the glass, its color, aroma and taste is altered – the subtle and hidden characteristics can become more pronounced, colors begin to shimmer and aromas burst.
The shape of glassware will impact head development and retention. The main goal of the glass is to promote a healthy foam head and enhance the trapping of certain volatiles. As different styles of beers have different foam levels, different styles of glassware should be used accordingly. So which glassware do you use to achieve that maximum level of enjoyment?
The original purpose of the shaker pint glass was originally used to shake cocktails, but in the 1980’s it started to be filled with beer. Due to its straight sides and large mouth this glass is ideal for most ales, however, it also allows the beer to get warm and flat fast, which can show off the malty notes of some English-styled ales. Many bartenders love to use this glass because they are sturdy and easy to stack and provide an equal serving size for each beer your pour.
The tulip pint is the classic glass for Guinness beers and other dry stouts. Named appropriately after the flower it most represents, it is easily identifiable by the way it flares above the center before gently tapering near the mouth. This glass does a good job of capturing a beer’s aromas than a more straight sided glass or one that flares towards the top because the deep bowl shape helps trap aromas. According to Guinness, a perfect, two-part pour that lets the head rest before topping off should take exactly 119.53 seconds.
The nonic pint glass bulges out a couple of inches from the top. This is partly for an improved grip, and to prevent the glasses from sticking together when stacked, and partly to give strength and stop the rim from becoming chipped or nicked; the term “nonic” even derives from “no nick”. The major benefit from this glass is that they are cheap to make, easy to store and easy to drink out of. The nonic pint glasses are frequently marked with a fill line, to encourage pouring with a 1-inch head. This wasn’t always the case and bartenders would fill them usually to the rim of the glass.
The snifter glass (also known as the balloon glass) is a short-stemmed glass whose vessel has a wide bottom and small mouth opening to concentrate aromas while minimizing the amount of foam. The snifter glass is perfect for barleywines, quads, eisbocks and big stouts. This type of glass helps allow the beer to warm a bit while the glass is in your hand. The snifter glass can also be used for brandy and cognac, volumes will range in these glasses but they all provide room to swirl your drink and allow aromas to burst.
Not to be mistaken with the tulip pint, the tulip glass has a bulbous body but has a flare out at the top to form a lip, which helps head retention. The tulip glass not only helps trap the aroma, but it also aids in maintaining large heads, and creating a visual sensation. This glass is recommended for serving Scottish ales, double and imperial IPA’s, barleywines and Belgian ales – anything flavorful that you wouldn’t drink a lot of.
The goblet glass is shaped to keep your grip low in the step to help the beer inside keep cool. A wide mouth dissipates the carbonation fast, letting strong abbey beers show off their flavor. Goblet glasses range from delicate to long stem to heavy and thick walled. The more delicate ones may also have their rims laced while the heavy boast sculpture-like stems. Some goblets are designed to maintain a two-centimeter head. The best aspects of these glasses are they are designed to maintain head and are wide mouthed for deep sips.
Now that you have a basic knowledge to the differences between the different beer glasses, you should be able to hold a party for your own home brewed beer. Just remember when you’re at the bar; never accept a frosted glass from your bartender. As the beer hits the frosted glass, condensation will occur and dilute your beer, while at the same time altering the serving temperature.

3 Most Popular Types of Beer

Our previous blog discussed the most important ingredients needed for brewing beer at home; now it is time to define the different types of beer you can make with your home beer brewing kit.

Ale is the oldest type of beer made and is brewed from malted barley using a warm fermentation with a strain of brewers’ yeast. The yeast will ferment the beer quickly, giving it a sweet, full bodied and fruity taste. Most ales contain hops, which help preserve the beer and impart a bitter herbal flavor that balances the sweetness of the malt nicely. Varieties of ales include brown, pale, scotch and mild.
Brown ales tend to be lightly hopped, and fairly mildly flavored, often with a nutty taste. Brown ales first appeared in the early 1900’s, with Newcastle Brown being a top example of what brown ale is. Brown ales became the most popular beer to home-brewers in North America in the early 1980’s.
Pale ale was a term used for beers made from malt dried with coke. Coke had been first used for roasting malt in 1642, but it wasn’t until the early 1700’s that the term pale ale was first used. Pale ale is a beer, light in color, which uses a warm fermentation and predominantly pale malt. The pale ale is one of the world’s most popular beer styles. Different brewing practices and hop levels have resulted in a range of taste and strength within the pale ale family.
Stout is a dark beer made from using roasted malt or barley, hops, water and yeast and sometimes bitter in taste. Stout is traditionally the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters. Other types of stouts are made with oatmeal, which usually produces a sweeter beer. Like ales, they come in many variations including dry or Irish stout, imperial stouts, porters, chocolate stouts, and oatmeal Stouts.
Oatmeal Stouts are probably one of the most popular stout versions. The oatmeal stout is a stout with a proportion of oats, normally about 30%, added during the brewing process. Oatmeal stouts usually do not specifically taste like oats but the smoothness of oatmeal stouts comes from the high content of proteins, lipids, and gums imparted by the use of oats. The gums increase the viscosity and body adding to the sense of smoothness.
In the early 1900’s when oatmeal stouts were being predominately made outside of the United States, Samuel Smith commissioned Charles Finkel to make its own version. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout has become a template for other breweries’ versions of the oatmeal stout.
Lagers are a type of beer that is fermented and conditioned at low temperatures. In certain countries lagers contain or often feature large proportions of adjuncts, usually rice or maize. These were added as a means of thinning out the body of American beers, balancing the large quantities of protein being introduced by high amounts of barley.
There are two main types of lager: pale lager and dark lager. Pale Lager is a very pale to golden colored lager with a well-attenuated body and noble hop bitterness. The brewing process for the pale lager was quickly picked up by breweries around the world and has become one of the most popular beer types to drink. It was until the 1840’s that lagers in general would typically be darker in color. They typically ranged in color from amber to reddish brown, and could have been termed dunkel, schwarzbier, or Baltic porter depending on the region or brewing method.
Now you know the main types of beer you can make it’s time to get together your beer making equipment and ingredients and brew away!

Home Beer Brewing 101: Yeast, Hops and Barley

There are literally hundreds of different styles of beer. The basic ingredients that ever homebrewer needs are water, malted barley, homebrewing hops and beer yeast. It’s the types and combination of these ingredients that determine the result.
The amount or type of yeast used during the fermentation process can be the deciding factor between a lager or ale. To obtain a broader range of beer types, many brewers will use specialty grains in a certain way to change the color and flavor of the beer without having to add sugar during the fermentation process. Brewers will also use anything from spices to candy to fruits to help flavor their beer a certain way.
Yeast is responsible for converting carbohydrates to carbon dioxide and alcohols. Yeast can be classified in two different ways: “top cropping” and “bottom cropping.” Top cropping yeasts create foam at the top during fermentation, and typically create ales. Bottom cropping yeasts are typically used to produce lager type beers although they can also produce ale type beers.
Hops are female flower clusters, primarily used as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, and typically impart a bitter or tangy flavor in beer. Before hops, many brewers would use spices or fruits as their primary flavoring ingredient.
There are also a number of different kinds of hop varieties. These include Amarillo, Centennial, Cluster and Tettnang among others. Tettnang hops are the original noble hop from Germany, although they are now grown in the U.S. in Oregon and Washington State. The tettnang hop is ideal for your finest lager and wheat beers.
Barley is the seed part to the barley plant, a grain similar to wheat in appearance. It is the specific types of barley used in the production of beer that make one different from another. Each strain imparts a unique characteristic taste and body to each of the different beers. Malted barley is barley that has been allowed to germinate to a degree and is then dried. Sending a barley seed through a germination process converts the seed to a starch. The seed’s stored energy turns the starch into a simpler sugar that is used in its initial growing stage. The germination and drying stages capture fermentable sugars, soluble starch and diastase enzymes for beer brewing. Malted barley is the eventual source of the fermentable sugar consumed by the yeast. Eventually the barley becomes a malt extract becoming a suitable ingredient for beer.
We will discuss the different categories of beer – lagers, ales and other specialty brews – in our next post.
Brewing Your Own Beer at Home 
First, you need a beer brewing kit.  Then it’s time to order your beer brewing ingredients and figure out what type of beer you’ll make!