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Puzzling Out Brew House Efficiency

by Rob Friesel

Generally speaking, Brew House Efficiency (BHE) is number, expressed as a percentage, that calculates how efficient your wort production is — i.e., how much of the potential fermentables actually make it out of the grain and into your fermentor. The calculation is comprehensive, and accounts for (among other factors) how much of the grain’s starches were actually converted to sugars, and how much of the produced volume was lost to losses like absorption and transfer losses.1

When I was new to all-grain brewing, BHE was not a number that I kept track of. It wasn’t that I didn’t know about it — it was that with everything else to learn, I just wanted to see if I could pull it off at all and then maybe I could start to quantify and use those numbers for process improvement. That said, I probably started to care about BHE numbers after about a year of partial mash brewing2 and then another year (coincidentally, when I moved from partial mash to all-grain BIAB) before I started tracking it consistently.3

And that being said, it took me another two years to finally get around to actually looking at all the compiled BHE data. (Guess I just needed enough of it?) The main question I found myself asking: Why is it that my BHE numbers are usually lower (and further off) for my higher gravity beers?

Prosody (Huell Melon) Continue reading →
  1. That is a simplified explanation, but good enough for our purposes here. If you want a more detailed and technical explanation, check out the links in “Other Resources” at the end of this post. []
  2. The first time my notes include any mention of BHE was with Sirius Moonlight. []
  3. This would be starting with Jade Weka. []

Homebrew #92: Clone in the Window (Mk. II)

by Rob Friesel

I already mentioned some Vermont homesickness. Well… it’s not going to be cured by just a single batch. It’s going to take multiples. It seemed fair to clone the mead first because the mead scene here is… not Vermont’s. That said, I’ve been able to get some decent beers. Even some decent rye IPAs. But Light in the Window will forever1 be my go-to. And since BBCO stopped production and we moved 3,000 miles away… there was only one solution to this. Re-group on Clone in the Window:

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  1. For some values of forever. []

Homebrew #91: Evil Clone (Mk. V)

by Rob Friesel

Since moving to Seattle, one of the (many) Vermont things that I miss is constant access to the craft meads of Groennfell and Havoc. And while there will always be the specialest of special places in my heart for Valkyrie’s, when we really break it down, Root of All Evil has always been our go-to. Which is probably why I made my own clone twist on it four times.1234 It’s also why it’s (one of) the first meads I made since moving out here.

Evil Clone (Mk. V) is a ginger mead in a handsome glass tankard
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  1. Evil Clone! []
  2. Evil Clone (Mk. II)! []
  3. Evil Clone (Mk. III)! []
  4. Evil Clone (Mk. IV)! []

Homebrew #89: Primogeniture

by Rob Friesel

After a four-and-a-half month1 (forced) hiatus, I got myself brewing again.2 I needed to get at least one brew day in before I went back to work, after all.

New state? New space? New water? New homebrew supply store? Throw caution to the wind. Set your sights on an Imperial Stout and see what happens. Go big or go home, right? And this gives us Primogeniture:

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  1. Bearing in mind that the longest hiatus before this one was only about two months, and that was the gap between brew #1 and brew #2. []
  2. And what a 180º from my last brew. []

Hazy IPAs: a perfect storm for diacetyl?

by Rob Friesel

While I’m still settling into my new Seattle home, I’ve tried to keep my brewing chops sharp through… let’s call it academic research. In other words, even though I’m dying to get my first Seattle brew under my belt, I haven’t figured out all of the ins-and-outs to getting there so I have settle for reading articles and watching HomebrewCon videos. Anyway — more to the point of the title here: one of the things I realized along the way is that Hazy (“New England”) style IPAs seem to be a perfect storm for diacetyl.

one of my own hazy IPAs which was NOT a diacetyl bomb but I also don't want to throw any commercial breweries under the bus so we'll use this one

[Epistemic status: most statements backed up with citations, but some claims are speculative.]

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Homebrew #83: Mashers Scotch Ale

by Rob Friesel

Wherein I write about this beer belatedly, and with some distance. But with some distance (both temporal and geographic), it seems like I’d better write about this one for the sake of completeness, lest my trans-continental move-related homebrewing hiatus cause everyone to think I’ve disappeared. In any event, here’s a little story about the Mashers Scotch Ale that I pretty much just fermented a few gallons of.

Mashers Scotch Ale
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Farewell, Vermont

by Rob Friesel

Our original plan was never to stay. We came for Amy’s graduate school, with every expectation that we would be gone in four or five years so she could chase a post-doc and then a tenure-track role after that.

But that’s not how things shook out, and all the subsequent decisions — large and small — accreted into a 17 year stint that looked like it might keep us here for good.

But that’s not how things shook out either.

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Homebrew #88: Sorry Karl (Mk. III)

by Rob Friesel

With spring’s warm weather on the way, I was looking forward to a crisp pale beer to enjoy after mowed lawns and spread mulch and balmy garage brew days. Last spring’s big hit was that cream ale Uncle Rico, but with three more years of brewing and about two years of judging under my belt, I felt like it was finally time to take another crack at a Kölsch. Thus, the triumphant return of Sorry Karl.

Sorry Karl is a Kölschlich
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2019 Greg Noonan Memorial Homebrew Competition Results

by Rob Friesel

I went even bigger than last year — with 17 entries across beers, ciders, and meads in the 2019 Greg Noonan Memorial Homebrew Competition. Had an excellent showing overall, as well as the added privilege of getting to judge in two categories (i.e., Saison; Smoked and Wood-Aged Beer).

My medals for the 2019 Greg Noonan Memorial Homebrew Competition
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