After brewing beer for almost 10 years, it was time to do something different. 4 year ago I planted my first grape plant – I choose the variety of Steuben – which is a hybrid grape a mix of French and American grapevines, making for good flavor, adds spice, sweetness, hints of honey.
Since this was a small batch, I kept things simple, here are the steps employed:
remove the grapes from the vines
wash the grapes
puree them in a blender, mix with some warm water – so the blender works
take a specific gravity reading of the grapes after blending, for us it was 1.035
you can tell if the grape is ready to harvest by doing just that, but we didn’t want to take changes with weather (being this was the first year)
put all the grapes into your fermentation vessel – that you have sanitized and cleaned
of course you want to premix the sugar with warm water to dissolve it before adding it to the fermentation vessel
mix all that into the fermentation vessel, mix it good and take a gravity reading again – using a refractometer
leave some head room for the fermentation of course
dehydrate your yeast packet in a separate container with some luke warm water and add that into your fermentation vessel – mix it all up, add your blow off tube
you are done!
Ferment away from sunlight, and somewhere where you have consistent non-swinging temperatures, read the requirements for the yeast that you have used, but 70 ~ 80 F should work.
Make wine is fairly easy, and it doesn’t take a lot of time or fancy expensive equipment, at least for home wine.
If you are going to make larger batches of wine using more traditional methods which are less sanitary, then its a good idea to use Campden tablets – to kill off any wild yeasts, then 24 hours later you can add your yeast.
Latest update: at 4 weeks this beer should clear up quite nicely and taste considerably better if you have chilled it at serving temperature compared to only 3 weeks, 1 extra week will make quite the difference. It comes with an immediate hint of clover, and just smooth good beer, super easy to swallow and you want more!
This is a great Oktoberfest beer!
The German-style hefeweizen is straw to amber in color and made with at least 50 percent malted wheat, however; since we are doing an experimental beer or SMaSH (single malt and single hop), we will be using a Single grain and barley at that, no wheat! 🙂
The aroma and flavor comes largely from the yeast and is decidedly fruity (banana) and phenolic (clove). “Weizen” means “wheat” and “hefe” means “yeast”, but we are not using any wheat, just to be clear. Also to capture as much hop aroma and flavor we are adding very little hops at start of boil (only about 5 IBU) and the remain goes at the end.
Video of the Brew:
19 lb Vienna – that’s it, nothing else
Mash – started at 135-F and slowly using an electric PID control raised it to 152-F and kept there for an hour.
Start of boil (60 minutes) – 0.4 OZ of Cascades, only 5 IBU at this stage
10 minues to end of boil (50 minutes) – 1.0 ounces of Cascades, we don’t want to go above 17~ 20 IBU on this one, since volumes will vary equipment wise on your end, fyi…
Yeasts and experiments:
So we ended up brewing about 13 gallons of beer:
In the main fermentor 11.5 gallons – we used the “Imperial Stefon” – for the goal of this brew Barleyweizen, as we are using the classic Wheat yeast, but in barley.
In a 1 gallon jug – we used a reclaimed “Imperial Barbarian”, this yeast was about 6 months old and it still worked out well, we did do a starter to help it wake up, it was a bit slow to start – but it did and is still fermenting nicely / anything older than 6 month is a risk. Since we used an IPA yeast, this will come out different – but we wanted to see how this SMaSH comes out using different yeasts.
In a 1/2 gallon grower is put that by the window (open-ferment) to see how that will work out, it was a nice calm summer day, so this will be a natural inoculation by wild yeasts, that took a few days to take off, but there was activity with “krausen” / then the next day a tin foil was put on top of the glower.
OG (Original Gravity) was 1.045 / more updates later
Results of the open fermentation experiment:
As mentioned we put half a gallon from this brew by window to open ferment. It did ferment well all the way down to 1.007 / but the type of yeast it picked up wasn’t what we wanted. It smelled very strongly of fusel alcohol/paint thinner or nail polish, so it went down the drain.
picture below ( wort after mashing finished, continually recirculated ):
Today we have brewed a Belgian Saison – using the Wheast 3724 strain. If you read about this strains feedback and requirements from the manufacturer and other people’s experiences, you will quickly realize that this is not a beginner strain. If you are starting out and lack precise heating control in your fermenting environment (or some heat control), then you perhaps should go with a different strain, like the Wheast 3711 or perhaps offerings from other vendors like, White Labs., but check the requirements and do a little research for which ever yeast you decide to go with.
The temperature range for this strain is between 75 ~ 95F, it is a high attenuator 75-80% / which will give you that dry classic Saison profile beer. The grain profile for this brew was more complex than for the French Saison. We used regional hops from England.
For precise heat control management and data capture for later analysis, we of course use the Beeruino, it logs all the variables we need and allows us to monitor and tweak the temperature as the yeast gives you feedback on what to do.
We will post more details later including the exact recipe and final details on ABV.
The starting OG was 1.044 on this beer (11 gallons) and we take samples (gravity reading, date) over time as it ferments and quickly transform that into a plot using R to show what is going on.
On the 4th week we added 2lb of frozen raspberries / and waited a week extra.
Video before shows how I blend frozen raspberries. Total volume added was 3/4 of a gallon – I mix warm water with frozen raspberries, otherwise its difficult to get them blended.
On Friday 5/12/2017 the heat was turned down to 78F and I let the temperature fall so that everything settled to the bottom of the fermentor. You can ferment longer after the addition of the raspberries to let things integrate longer, maybe 3 weeks total after fruit addition.
Here is how the color looks before and after / also for testing purposes its always a good idea to leave some of the original beer before fruit was added to see how they compare.
left = before adding fruit
right = after addition of fruit
This yeast likes heat!
Make no mistake about it, this yeast like heat right from the start, 80F minimum is perfectly ” a ok ” even as soon as you pitch. Some people like to gradually raise it by a degree per day or so, but I think that this is totally unnecessary.
Most other strains when fermenting at these temperatures would result in a beer that tasted like a combination of gasoline and nail polish remover, seriously, so for this reason a lot of people naturally are wary of starting at higher temperatures. Be warned that if you start with a warmer starter, and pitch into a cooler wort say 68F / this yeast can stall right away and you might not even see fermentation – which probably will freak you out. As that’s exactly what happened the 1st time we did this, simply raise your temps to 75, then 80, then 85, 5F per day and let it sit there. Agitate your fermentor if you can once in a while.
Stalling – did I say already that this yeast is notorious for stalling ? It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced brewer, it has a mind of its own, it will stall, maybe on your first try or 5th try. Also – this yeast can be slow – so a lot of people will confuse that with stalling, but it just takes time.
This strain will most likely stall around 1.035, for us it was 1.033, just ramp up the temp and take a vacation, you will have to wait a few weeks.
Make a big starter – for this brew we only made a 1000ml starter, but bigger is better with this strain of yeast, next time we will do 2000ml starter at bare minimum.
This yeast *may* be pressure sensitive.
Some research indicates that this yeast could also be stalling because of the pressure created inside the fermentor from co2 gas, and therefore some people open ferment, maybe put some aluminum foil over the exhaust.
What we actually did was use an air lock, because not a lot of pressure is needed to move the air lock up, but more is needed to overcome the water resistance enacting over the fermentor when the blow-off tube is sitting in a container full of water.
But think about it, maybe that’s really what an exciting brew is all about, brewing becomes a little bit boring after a while, if everything comes out like clock work ” as to be expected ” and there is no element of mystery, what is going on in there, hello yeast, knock knock, anyone there ?
This Saison will reward you with a wonderful complex peppery-fruity flavor, people will be breathing down your neck, they will beg!!
The ABV can range anywhere between 5 ~ 7.5%, it all depends on your recipe and what you are looking for.
Detailed observations to come, stay tuned!!!
22 lbs – German Pilsner
1 lb – Vienna
1/2 lb – Munich
1 lb – Caramunich
1 lb – Wheat
2 ounce at start of boil – East Kent
1 ounce at 5 minutes to flame off – Styrian Hops
Wyeat 3724 1000ml starter
The more complex the grain bill is, the more it will cost ( specialty grains cost more per pound compared to base 2-row grain ) – for all ingredients ( grain, hops, yeast, raspberries ), total was $72 with tax – this brewed 11 gallons, which means that we average about $6.50 per 1 gallon of awesome, fantastic beer. Tell me where you can go and buy a gallon of Belgian Saison with Raspberry for $8 bucks ( no where ), most breweries sell Belgian by a small glass and that cost $8/$12 per glass, forget buying a growler to take home or a gallon.
The biggest cost was the German Pilsner, at $1.79 per pound.
Here is how it looks at only 1 week out of the fermentor with a quick cold crash in the fridge – ( tart, dry and a good hint of fruit ), very drinkable, now we age and see how it transforms and refines over time.
In conclusion – if you want a stronger/sharper raspberry flavor, remove beer about a week after addition of the fruit from the fermentor, however; if you want it more smooth and less fruity, let it ferment longer 3 weeks up to a month after addition of fruit. You can also have both worlds, by removing half of it and half later from the fermentor, and also save some without fruit additions so that you can compare it all.
7/28/2015 – on Sunday we are brewing a slightly different variation this year. 80% Pilsner, 10% Vienna, 10% Wheat. Columbus for bittering and Saaz for Aroma hops // using French Saison Yeast #3711 by Wyeast. In addition we will use Raspberries during secondary conditioning for a – French Raspberry Saison… Also we will shoot for at least a Double, so approx. 9% ABV+. The colour we are looking for is a farmhouse straw!
The two pics below were a test pour out of the Fermentor at 2 weeks, the classic staw Farmhouse Ale colour was spot on. The beer tasted awesome as well, only will get much better with time.
Raspberries also come through the best in beers for the flavor, taste and their overall profile. It can turn some beer slightly sour with an unexpected benefit!
OG this time was 1.068… FG was 7 days later (1 week fermentation), for a final of 1.005 – which would put this beer at a approximate 8.30% // not too shabby!
Now to Age // CHEERS!
Here is how the beer looks like at mashout…
and here is how it looks like after 1 week of fermentation with the raspberries added to the fermentor at day 3.
7/20/2014 – we used 12 pounds of grain (per recipe percentage proportions), and 1/2 lb of Belgian Candi sugar (that’s all we had left).. OG – 1.049, FG – 1.009
ABV % – 5.25%
Belgian Saison Ale
Historically a Saison is a french style farm beer, brewed in Fall/Winter for the next season – a harvesting/farmer drink. These days many variations exist, and many good articles too – Google for additional research and ask questions if you are not sure about something.
If you want a traditional Saison don’t add any spices or orange/lemon peels and use traditional German hops like the Noble or something regional from the French area – since this is a traditional French beer. We also like East Kent (even tho they are from the UK) and Styrian – these add a sweet edge to the beer.
Traditional Sainson’s are bottle conditioned and highly carbonated. Color can be Golden to Amber, ABV 3 ~ 5%, modern Sainson can be as high as 6.5%+. Should be moderately hoped to balance out the maltiness for all ABV variations.
Age: 1 ~ 2 months, and up to a year+
60 minute standard mash, some people even do a 90 minute mash
We will post out ( OG , FG ) and final ABV later.
85% lbs domestic Pilsner // we like to use the German Pilsner Malt as substitution.
5% Euro Caravienne
Hops / Additional ingredients:
Once you achieve a rolling boil, set timer:
At start-of-boil add 1.5 oz of Styrian Golding Hops and 1 lb of Light Belgian Candi
Kumbocha is not beer, it is a probiotic drink or basically a fermented tea.
There are many health benefits to Kumbocha and it is an ancient drink originating somewhere from the Asian region around Japan, hard to say exactly from where.
Kumbocha is also a detoxer, it will clean your system out of the many toxins that have stored in your body over time andy keep it clean.
If you have never drunk Kumbocha, go to a store and get some and see if you are going to like it, because there are small amounts of people who don’t do well with it or like it.
Again, it will detox your body, which means that you *might* get the runs, (bathroom visit), become bloated, not feel well, in the beginning – but this is all temporary for most people and not everyone reacts to it, you might not.
As far as the instructions, it is much easier to just record a few videos on YouTube, than write a bunch of rules, so that’s what I have done, please watch them below.
The recipe, we will not post ours, not because it is a secret, but because we want you to explore and do some research on your own and through that exercise, you will find your own recipe and learn much about Kumbocha.
Also, watch more videos on the benefits as well.
Part 1 – How to brew Kumbocha
Part 2 – How to transfer a new brew to your existing mother
How finished Kumbocha after secondary fermentation should look like when you pour, quick video:
On Saturday 2/18/2017 a Grapefruit IPA was brewed. We used peels from 2 grapefruit in a 10 gallon batch, we didn’t want it to be too overwhelming but also a little bit more than a hint. Full recipe will be posted later. It is best to peel the skins when they are fresh using a filleting like knife. Since we are now brewing using an electric setup, we also follow a very precise Mashing temperature control schedule. Say goodbye to temperature oscillations!
Mash-in temp at 170F, after grain mixed drops to 150F
A Re-circulation process is started between two vessels (a march pump is used) and we use the PID controller to maintain a perfect 152 F temp. for 1 hour, so there is no temperature swings like with gas. One vessel is the mash tun and the other the electric kettle.
After an hour, we move up to 162 F (again using precise PID control) and stay there for 30 minutes
We move up again to 174 F to mash out.
The Mash takes a solid 2 hours when you factor in the time it takes to move from 152 to 162 and again to 174. Since the entire mash is done while recirculating, the beer is crystal clear by the time it is mashed out.
A video on the setup is below, as you can see you don’t need to have fancy setups to make good beer, most home-brew operations are analogous with custom hacks. We spent very little money to make this stuff together and make it work compared to buying better looking solutions that costs many thousands of dollars.
For this brew we have decided to use a new yeast from a new company (Portland, Oregon) – yeast used was an Imperial Barbarian. This also seems to be an organic yeast. We did not do a starter like normally we would, to save on time. These cans have enough yeast to support 10 gallons for 5-7% beers.
On 11/20/2016, we brewed a Citra American IPA. More recently we started to preview/simulate brews using an App on my cell phone (android), called: Wort. This is in a way a simulation, we strongly recommend you do this and then brew. The developer hangs out in the Brew Nerds community on G+, you can talk to him directly and is very approachable.
This is a sample after all done brewing, but before fermentation. It looks darker than it is because its mixed with trub. But final color should be light to medium orange, again, it will depend on your exact grains.
pic below, after fermentation is over, which is quick, 5/6 days.
pic below is 1 week after bottling, so 2 weeks after brewing, already very drinkable, dominant grapefruit flavor, nice smell and retention head, carbonation came out great, 3 ounces of priming sugar to 5 gallons of beer was used.
The pic below is beer aged at 2 months, nice and clear.. the dominant grapefruit is pretty much gone, still good beer. These are designed to be enjoyed fresh, as opposed to say Belgians that need a lot more aging time.
Our OG was 1.054, we also used our electric setup here for the first time with this beer.
OG 1.054 // IBU 56 // SRM 6 // Final ABV tbd…
The color of the beer should be light orange, but might vary on the grains that you end up using or substitute for because of availability.
Total water used was 15 gallons for the 10 gallon batch.
Initially this was a 7.5% beer, but we have brewed so many higher gravity beers in the last 2 years and wanted something lighter and more refreshing this time, so about 5 lb of grain was scaled down proportionally for each malt.
20 lb Pale Malt – local to our State of Washington
1.5 lb Crystal 15 Love
1.5 lb Munich Malt
hops (60 minute boil):
1 ounce Nugget at start of boil – bittering
2 ounce Citra – 10 minutes into boil
2 ounce Mosaic – 10 minutes into boil
1 ounce Citra – 1 minute to end of boil
1 ounce Mosaic – 1 minute to end of boil
You can also do additional dry hop (we didn’t):
1 ounce Mosaic – dry hop
1 ounce Citra – dry hop
Wyeast American 1056 ( 1000ml starter 36 hours before )
Up to now – we have been brewing with natural gas or propane, while this works really well, and there are many advantages, like nice strong boils, etc…, there are also some draw backs – as with everything.
Here are some of the benefits of using electric over gas:
no carbon-monoxide gas is created, as you are not burning gas, so safer
it is much (again) safer to control electricity with un-attended automation over gas
no need to waste time buying and hauling propane no more
since you are saving time, you could fit 2 batches in the same day; just fill the water, set your temp goal on the PID and go to do something else…
Electric is much more efficient, 100% of the energy transfers into the wort, where as with gas only about 25% (the other 75% is byproduct of heat), which you have to ventilate for.
Voltage Choice ?
You will have with two choices, which you need to think about and consider for your needs and goals. You can build your system around 120 volts or 240 volts. Obviously it is easier to use 120 volts, since all electrical outlets by default have that everywhere in the US and only Driers and Oven ranges would have the cabling setup for 240 volts, unless you live in Europe :- ) then you have 220 volts.
A good way to wet your feet is to start with 120 volts and automate the heating for the mashing phase of the brewing. Since mash out temps. are about 170F Max and everything between at lower ranges, you won’t really have the need to heat beyond that, so you can use lower wattage heating elements.
Drills or Punches ?
You have a choice of either making the holes using drills or hole punches. There are many videos on youtube on that, so search away for your pot type and size. We drill a hole and then thread it for smaller holes and for bigger holes, we drill a hole (threading has little value) because the thickness of the material is not sufficient enough to have the proper threads – so you will have to use rubber seals and lock nuts. If you know how to weld, you don’t need instructions from us :- )
For this project we used a 1,650 watt stainless steel heating element, using 120 volts. 1650 watts / 120 volts = 13.75 Amps. So when you buy a Relay, make sure it is rated above that, always good to have a nice buffer when it comes to electricity. Most SSR Relays start in about the 25 Amp range, so you are good to go.
We *do really* recommend that you buy the more expensive American made Auber controller, their quality is much better and they are rated for 10Amps without the need for a Relay, if you are going to stay under 1200watts. Our experience with the cheaper Chinese made PIDs like the MYPIN, etc.. were poor, a lot of wasted time, it breaks easily, just cheap overall construction and I doubt their QA process // but you might have other luck – be warned, you do actually get what you pay for, that’s why people say this :- )
We don’t recommend the MyPIN or any other Brands out of China – seriously, their quality is not that good, on the other hand, there are good ones coming out of Japan, but do your research first.
The FOTEK solid state relays seem to perform well – time will tell if they still work after 5 years. Make sure the model of your PID will work with a solid state Relay and will support your temperature probe. Not all PIDs work with solid state, check the specs and ask before ordering.
We Recommend the Auber PID – see the manufacturers web site for different kinds:
Here is what we used (1,650 watts stainless steel), but again – there are many different wattages and even shapes, so do your research – we recommend stainless!!!
This is the heating probe that we used – RTD Pt100 Temperature Sensor Probe Cable 3 Wires 1/2″ NPT 750°F for Temp Control – don’t get a cheap one and think about its placement relative to your needs and batch volume size.
Hooking it up ?
Most people will install the PID inside some kind of a Control Panel casing // here you can be as creative as you want, since this is for #homebrew, just try everything safely and properly, take your time and research, if you are not sure.
Many great videos exist on youtube – we recommend, you do some research again // Video will be posted later of final control panel.
Beeruino – is an #arduino based data logger and controller project that I dreamt up after my second pint of #homebrew. Here is an older video before the buttons were added for more flexible control.
What is it made of ?
Black project box (Radio Shack), donated to me by a fellow brew head
Originally using Arduino UNO R3 // Recently upgraded to the Mega 2560 R3 (more memory!)
Ethernet Sheild (gives Ethernet and SD card capability)
RTC (real-time-clock) using I2C bus (give accurate date/time)
dual 10 amp relay module (120 volt x 10 amp = 1200 watts)
dual A/C sockets, independent of each other (so different things can be controlled out of each socket)
4×20 LCD screen using the I2C bus
Arduino sketch C++ code
Power Cable to power the A/C sockets
Analog buttons to change the set goal temperature UP or DOWN on the control relay, and to RESET the DATA storage on the SD card
Beeruino now has control buttons and Version 2 of the code has been released. They allow you to control the target goal temperature without the need to change the value manually and no need to recompile the program using the computer, making it more independent and flexible as a tool.
Importing, Verifying, Analyzing and Plotting the Data:
I like to analyze the data using R (open-source) statistical software, that can do a lot more than just statistics, so don’t let that scare if you are not familiar or good with math/numbers.
Basically data in imported into R from the textfile.txt off the SD card, then I do some quick summary verification, I take a sample every 25 row and plot it in two different way using ggplot2. Temperature of internal/external split by day and also the whole plot in one not segmented or split.
These two plot show a simple test run on plain water in a 12.5 gallon fermentor.
Started with cold 44F well water, turned on Beeruino and set temperature goal to 65F, then later raised it to 70F and again for the duration of the test to 75F.
Here is a simple R script, this assumes you have some limited know-how in using R, if not do our self a favor and learn it.