Blog

Planning Your East Coast Brewery Tour, Part One

As a homebrewer, you’re always looking for new inspiration for your next batch of beer. You might have a favorite brewery that you frequent, and that can be a great way to get ideas for new flavors and varieties of beer. However, it’s always good to expand your horizons and visit other breweries, and speak with other brewmasters and patrons who love all types of beer. At Brew Perfect, our digital hydrometer and temperature probe, along with our innovative app, can help you monitor your beer throughout the entire fermentation process. In this post, we’ll look at some East Coast breweries that you should add to your list of places to visit for new ideas!

Virginia

Brew Perfect is located in Richmond, VA, so we figured we’d start with our home state and some of its famed breweries.

Starr Hill Brewery

This award-winning brewery is nestled in the small town of Crozet, VA. It was founded in the late 1990s, and it is well known for its Front Row Golden Ale, Northern Lights IPA, and JOMO Vienna-Style Lager. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, stop by and try a beer or two!

Lost Rhino Brewing Company

Lost Rhino Brewing Company is located in Ashburn, VA, just under an hour outside of D.C.. They have a great lineup to choose from, including the Rhino Chasers Pilsner and the Meridian Kolsch. Their seasonals include a Dark Czech Lager and a Session IPA. You can also find limited release beers, and be sure to ask about their Genius Loci Series.

North Carolina

Heading south from Virginia, we take a look at some of the best breweries in the Tar Heel State.

Appalachian Mountain Brewery

Nestled in the northern part of the state in Boone, NC, Appalachian Mountain Brewery has an outstanding selection of beers. The Boone Creek Blonde Ale is named for the creek along which the brewery is built, and the Spoaty-Oaty is perfect for anyone who loves American-style Pale Ales. The head brewer, Nathan Kelischek, is an alumni of Appalachian State University’s Fermentation Sciences program, and the brewery sponsors students who are interested in brewing through internships and collaborations with the university.

Fullsteam Brewery

Located in the heart of Durham, NC, Fullsteam Brewery buys ingredients from local farmers for their brews. The results of these local ingredients are beers such as the Paycheck Pilsner, the Humidity Pale Ale, and the Working Man’s Lunch Brown Ale. They pride themselves on their Southern-style beers, and if you’re ever nearby, why not stop in and try one or two?

Maryland

Now heading north of our home state, let’s look at some of the best breweries in Maryland.

Jailbreak Brewing Company

Situated in Laurel, MD, Jailbreak Brewing Company has a 16,000 square-foot brewing facility that is in full view of the tasting room. Founded in 2013 and getting fully up and running in 2014, Jailbreak has been making delicious beers like the Big Punisher Double IPA, the Feed the Monkey Hefeweizen, and the Poor Righteous American IPA for nearly four years.

1812 Brewery

The 1812 Brewery in Cumberland, MD lives up to its name, as it’s housed in a repurposed barn that was built in the year 1812. It’s also the first and only farm brewery in Allegany County, and with a lineup that includes the Maddy Golden Ale, the Pack Saddle Double IPA, and the Wheeler’s Irish Stout, there’s a choice for every taste.

At Brew Perfect, we love helping people brew their next batch of beer, no matter if it’s their first or their fiftieth. Our digital hydrometer lets you keep an eye on everything as it’s fermenting, and you can check your beer’s status wherever you are through our integrated app.

If you’ve been thinking about taking a trip up and down the East Coast in the near future, visiting as many breweries and trying as many beers as you can, then hopefully this list will help you get started. Be sure to check back soon for Part Two, where we’ll look at breweries in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts!

Which Beer Will You Brew First This Spring?

Spring is finally here, and with it, the time has come once again for sitting outside and enjoying a cold beer with your friends. You might be hanging out at your favorite microbrewery, or you may invite friends over to sit on your deck and enjoy your latest home brew. Whatever the case may be, you likely have your favorite springtime beers, and as a homebrewer, you probably have your favorites that you love to brew once the warmer weather returns each year. At Brew Perfect, our WiFi Digital Hydrometer gives you access to live readings for your new brew’s temperature, alcohol by volume, and much more!

Choosing Your Springtime Brew

You spent the time and money to get your homebrew setup exactly how you want it, and once you’re ready to brew this spring, you want to create a tasty beer that will last throughout the season. Here are a few of the more popular springtime beer styles, and hopefully you’ll find one that suits your tastes.

1. Maibock – This beer is particularly popular in Germany, and even though it’s name means “May bock,” you can still brew it in March or April. A maibock is a higher-gravity lager, but it tends to be a bit more paler and bitter than traditional bocks. A mix of Pils and Vienna malts will give you a great golden color, and the inclusion of Sterling hops and Bavarian-style yeast will create a delicious beer you’ll love drinking all season.

2. Tripel – The Belgians know how to make a tasty beer, and the Tripel, with its bright, fruity effervescence, is a perfect fit for spring. A Belgian ale yeast is a must for this Trappist-style beer, and you can find different kits with different styles of hops and grains. Keep in mind that these Tripels can end with a higher alcohol content, so yours could make a great sipping beer on a spring afternoon.

3. Saison – Another Belgian-style ale that is known for its fruit-forwardness and sometimes spicy finish, a saison can be a great choice for spring. You can brew your own with different varieties of hops, and some homebrewers add spices like coriander or orange zest to change up their brew. The carbonation and acidity of your saison can make it amazingly refreshing, which makes it a great choice for that first really warm day in April.

There are a number of beers that are great for springtime, and if you’re a homebrewer, you may want to try them all! You know what your tastes are, but if you’re brewing to share with friends and family, you might ask them what their favorite spring beers are. As the weather warms up and you spend more time outside, you’ll love pouring a brew from your home-tapped keg.

If you want to know exactly how your spring brew is coming along, then order your Brew Perfect digital hydrometer today. You can also pick up a temperature probe, and be sure to download our app so that you can keep an eye on your beer the entire time it’s fermenting.

We look forward to helping you brew the perfect beer!

“I’m a Girl and I Love Beer:” A Look at Females in the Homebrewing Industry

The beer industry has been historically dominated by men.  However, the Brewers Association, a non-profit organization of American brewers,  revealed a growing popularity of beer among women.  According to their 2014 report, women consume almost 32 percent of craft beer by volume.

Another research project demonstrated that women are not only increasingly drinking beer, but are also brewing it. A 2014 study conducted by Auburn University found that women account for 29% of brewery workers in the United States and are beginning to play a much larger role in the craft brewing industry.

In 2014,a study by Stanford University found that out of 1,700 active breweries surveyed, only 4% had a female head brewer or brewmaster.

 

Some have said that the brewing industry as a whole isn’t as inclusive as it should be. In Milwaukee, there are only two female homebrewers in the greater metro area amid a span of 31 breweries.

Women drinking beer isn’t a new concept and isn’t an idea that seems very far-fetched. The question arises when you look a bit more closely into beer and gender. Are women drinkers marketed to differently than male drinkers? Should breweries be doing more to reach out to a broader demographic?

There are definitely more and more women branching out in the homebrewing world and are loving every minute of it. They are following their passions. And people who own their own breweries do a lot of heavy lifting. It’s not a job for the light-heared, no matter who you are. It’s a demanding job which requires a lot of time, effort, and elbow grease. More women are breaking barriers and proving that they hold a spot in this homebrewing world.

We hope that whoever you are and whatever type of beer you love, that you follow that passion. Fortunately, our Brew Perfect hydrometer enjoys all who use it!

Beer Pairings for Girl Scout Cookies – A Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine Article

Girl Scout Cookie season is upon us! Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine has released the 2018 cookie-and-beer pairings and we are thrilled to share them! For the original article go here: Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine

 

S’Mores

S’Mores comes in two versions based on local availability. One is a graham cookie that’s been dipped twice in a crème icing before it’s covered in a delicious chocolate blanket, and the other is a graham cracker sandwich filled with chocolate and marshmallow filling. While you could complement the chocolate, graham cracker, and marshmallow with a sweet or roasty stout, we recommend going with a contrasting pairing of a tart, fruity sour.

Caramel de-Lites /Samoas

Match the toasted coconut of these cookies with even more toasted coconut and the roasted caramel flavors in these beers.

Thin Mints

These dark and roasty stouts deliver a mouthfeel that pairs well with the crisp, minty crunch of the wafer cookie (especially if you keep your Thin Mints in the freezer). Consider yourself warned, though, as these beers range from 9—20 percent ABV and you’ll likely find yourself reaching for a second sleeve of cookies in record time.

Lemonades

The shortbread texture of the cookies and lemon flavors in the icing make an excellent contrasting duo for these citrusy IPAs and pale ales.

Shortbread/Trefoil Cookies

Stick with tradition by pairing these classic cookies with traditional beer styles such as Baltic porter’s cheek-warming notes of dark fruits and coffee or a Scottish ale with notes of cocoa and coffee and a dash of smoke.

  • 21st Amendment He Said
  • Uinta Brewing Company Sea Legs
  • Fat Head’s Brewery Battleaxe Baltic Porter
  • Founders Brewing Co. Backwoods Bastard
  • Surly Brewing Simpson’s Scottish Ale
  • Alaskan Brewing Smoked Porter

Do-Si-Dos/Peanut Butter Sandwich

Let the flavors of the Do-Si-Dos dance with the balance and rich texture of these malty lagers.

  • Karbach Brewing Mother In Lager
  • Mikkeller American Dream
  • Great Lakes Eliot Ness
  • Devils Backbone Brewing Vienna Lager
  • Kansas City Bier Company Dunkel

Savannah Smiles

Push aside that lemon wedge you occasionally put in your beer and, if you must add a wedge, consider accenting your beer with a Savannah Smiles instead. The lemon-flavored cookie wedges have been dusted with powdered sugar and pair well with these witbiers and bières de miel.

  • To Ǿl Wbeer Witbier
  • Door County Brewing Big Sister Witbier
  • Avery Brewing Liliko’I Kepolo
  • Casey East Bank
  • Side Project Brewing Bière Blanche

Cranberry Citrus Crisps

Try these bières de garde for toffee notes and a subtle spice from farmhouse ale yeast that plays nicely with the cranberry inundated cookies. Make sure to let these beers warm up a little for maximum intensity.

  • Ponysaurus Brewing Co. Bière De Garde
  • Funkwerks Tropic King
  • Jack’s Abby with Stoneface Brewing Friend Request
  • Scratch Brewing Chanterelle
  • Creature Comforts Before the Wood

Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties

The vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter flavors from the Tagalongs sound like adjuncts in a stout. So grab these flavor-filled stouts to heighten the insanity of this pairing.

  • Funky Buddha S’mores Stout
  • Belching Beaver Brewery Peanut Butter Milk Stout
  • Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break
  • Horse & Dragon Brewing Sad Panda
  • Founders Brewing Lizard of Koz

Rah Rah Raisins

You’ll definitely be cheering when you pair these oatmeal cookies loaded with raisins and Greek yogurt–flavored chunks with these complementing sour brown ales filled with dark fruit flavors.

Thanks-A-Lot

These shortbread cookies have had one side dunked in chocolate fudge. Keep the two-faced theme going by pairing with a contrasting beer such as these imperial IPAs.

Or reinforce the cookie flavors with the roasted goodness and creamy mouthfeel of these milk stouts.

Trios

These gluten-free whole-grain cookies are made with oats, chocolate chips, and peanut butter. Pair these with a gluten-free or a gluten-reduced beer for a gluten-less spectrum of flavor.

  • To Ǿl Reparationsbajer
  • Wicked Weed Brewing Gluten FREEk
  • Ghostfish Brewing Company Peak Buster
  • Brasserie Dupont Foret Libre
  • Shubrew Glutenous Maximus with Ethopian Espresso

Toffee-tastic

These gluten-free butter cookies, offered only in select areas, are loaded with bits of toffee, and beer lovers can harmonize with the bread and toffee flavors of the cookie.

Or they can stray away from full-on gluten abstinence with these beers.

Suggestions from The Beer Chicks include these pairings:

Central Track’s Melissa Mackaly suggests these pairings:

Suggestions from the Brooklyn Brewshop include these pairings:

And finally, Flying Dog Brewery includes the following pairings with its own beers:

  • Trefoils with Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout
  • Do-Si-Dos with Lucky SOB Irish Red Ale
  • Samoas with Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA
  • Tagalongs with Gonzo Imperial Porter
  • Thin Mints with Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout

All About Hops

 

For those interested in a more in depth view or for those who are just starting out in the homebrew world, we wanted to share some background and information on those wonderful, sticky little cones called hops.

Hops are the delicate female flower of the Humulus Lupulus plant, or hop vine. Considered the spice of beer, hops contribute flavor, aroma and bitterness. The bitterness is there to balance beer’s malty sweetness. Without the bitterness you would have a cloying, overly-sweet drink.

The first solid evidence of hops being used was in northern Italy. They also showed up in medieval records (around 800 C.E.) as being used in beer. They seemed to really become popular in Germany and quickly spread to cities around the country. Only a few places in the world have just the right conditions to produce truly delicious hops.

Once dried, hop cones are wither packed “whole” without further processing or formed into pellets. Dried hops are finely ground into smaller pellets and held together by resins. Some people think using whole hops gives a richer flavor over using smaller pellets but that can be a trial and error exercise or just based on your taste. The “whole” hops aren’t very compact and they don’t store as well and only a few varieties are available to homebrewers. The pellets also dissolve into the boil faster, making them the preferred choice for additions at the end of the boil. Whichever type you select, we strongly recommend using fine mesh, nylon Hop Bags to minimize the amount of the leftover hops that enter your fermenter.

Hops are vital to beer and contribute many things. They provide pleasant aromas and bitterness as stated above, but also provide some antibiotic affect against bacteria that can spoil beer. They also contain tannins that are attracted to proteins in the boil, helping clear the wort of unwanted, long-chain proteins. The result of this process is a clearer beer in the end.

Alpha acid is the chemical component in hops that creates bitterness. The higher the alpha percentage the more bitter the hops. But don’t be afraid to use hops with higher AA ratings; simply use less per batch. For example, when added at the beginning of the boil, 2 oz of, say, Northern Brewer hops with a 7.5% AA will yield the same bitterness as 1 oz of Magnum hops with a rating of 15%AA.
Brewers divide hops into three categories:
1. Those used for bittering and bought on the basis of the quantity of alpha acid
2. Premium low-alpha hops used exclusively for aroma
3. Hope that are considered dual-use meaning used for aroma and have moderate alpha levels

For a more advanced look at the types of hops, you can visit here:

 

 

Holiday Beer Brewing and a Festive Brown Ale Recipe

With the holidays approaching, it’s a great opportunity to experiment with a festive beer. Spices, fruits and hop additions can all be combined to brew the perfect holiday ale or lager. It’s important to choose your base beer before moving forward. For a spiced beer, it is often moderately dark and is well hopped to provide warmth and some complex flavoring. In contrast, fruit based winter beers often use a light wheat base and low hop rates so the flavor of the fruit comes through to be properly accented. You really want to choose a beer that complements the other ingredients.

 

Have a goal in mind in terms of what flavoring you are trying to achieve. For example, if you want to brew a beer reflecting flavors of a sugar cookie, you might start with a robust body ale and then add sugar or even a small amount of lactic acid or maple sugar to provide warmth and sweetness. Adding a bit of nutmeg would also help in highlighting the flavor of a cookie.

 

It’s also important to keep things simple and moderate when using adjuncts. Some first-time homebrewers tend to go overboard on the spices and that makes for an overwhelming outcome of taste. You want to accent your beer with these festive flavors without bogging it down.

 

One of the holiday recipes we enjoy comes from the American Homebrewers Association and we’ve included it below. Happy Brewing this holiday season and stay tuned for more seasonal recipes!

 

Christmas Cinderella Double Brown Ale:

Not quite your classic English brown ale, this Christmas Cinderella double comes in at about 6.2% ABV. It has the smooth, sweet caramel malt character of an English-style brown that is perfectly balanced with the flavor and aromatic character of chocolate malt. Wheat, special roast, and Belgian aromatic malts combine to contribute a rich, toasty, biscuit-like aroma and flavor, while the small addition of black malt adds color and assertiveness to balance the higher profile of alcohol.

INGREDIENTS

  • For 6 gallons (23 L)
  • 3 lb. (3 kg) cans EDME Maris Otter malt extract
  • 5 lb. (1.13 kg) Maris Otter pale malt
  • 1 lb. (0.45 kg) 75° L English crystal malt
  • 75 lb. (340 g) wheat malt
  • 5 lb. (225 g) special roast malt
  • 33 lb. (150 g) black patent malt
  • 33 lb. (150 g) Belgian aromatic malt
  • 5 oz. (14 g) English Kent Golding whole hops, 2.5 HBU (60 min.)
  • 1 oz. American Willamette hop pellets, 5 HBU (60 min.)
  • 6 oz. (17 g) American Cascade whole hops, 3 HBU (20 min.)
  • 25 tsp. (1.2 mL) powdered Irish moss (10 min.)
  • 1 oz. (28 g) American Cascade whole hops, 5 HBU (steep after boiling for 3 min.)
  • Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley ale yeast
  • 1 cup (237 mL) corn sugar/glucose (to prime)

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Original Gravity:060–1.064
  • Final Gravity:013–1.017
  • ABV:2%
  • IBU:25
  • SRM:32
  • Boil Time:75 minutes

DIRECTIONS

Use a single-step infusion mash for the 3 3/4 lb. (2.6 kg) of grain. Add 6 quarts (5.7 L) of 172° F (78° C) water to the crushed grain, stir, stabilize, and hold the temperature at 156° F (69° C) for 60 minutes.

After conversion, raise temperature to 167° F (75° C) and sparge with 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) of 170° F (77°C) water. You should have about 3.5 gallons (13.3 L) of sweet wort. Add malt extract, English Kent Golding and Willamette hops, then bring to a full and vigorous boil. Boil for 75 minutes. Ferment between 63 and 65° F (17 to 18° C) for 10 to 14 days. For best results, cellar at 50° F (10° C) for 2 to 5 weeks.

 

 

 

Three Basic Tips for Brewing Beer At Home

Brewing craft beer at home is an enjoyable pastime shared by over a million Americans. Homebrewing not only serves as a fun hobby to enjoy on the side, but it provides you with a tasty beverage to enjoy when the process is over. Even the White House joined in on the homebrewing movement in 2012!

 

Whether you have just started making a beer brew at home and are on the search for some more helpful tips to take your brew to the next level, or you are wanting to start brewing your first batch, we’re going to provide you with a few homebrewing tips today. Brewing delicious beer at home comes with practice and we want to help you as you start your homebrewing journey. Read along to learn a few important tips that will take your homebrewing skills to the next level.

 

Invest In Fresh Ingredients, Especially Malt

You want to make good beer, right? Then you’re going to want to invest in the best ingredients possible. Brewing beer requires only a few ingredients, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t choose quality ones.

 

Malt

Malt, which is grain that is used to make beer, is an especially important ingredient to pay close attention to. Make it a point to find the freshest possible malt extract you can. You don’t want malt that has passed its prime. Avoid brown hop pellets and yeast.

 

Hops

These small, green buds is what provides your beer with those sweet and malty flavors. Selecting fresh hops is going to make a big difference in the taste and aromas of your beer, so make sure you purchase quality hops. Plus, you can store hops in your freezer for about six months for reuse.

 

Water

Without water, you can’t make beer. This ingredient isn’t as important as the others. However, if you are wanting to fine-tune the taste of your brew, you might consider using bottled water instead of tap water. Tap water contains chlorine, which can affect the taste of the beer in the long-run. Ensure a clean taste to your beer by using purified bottled water.

 

Yeast

Yeast is the magic ingredient in the wort that turns into the beer you’ve been dreaming of. There are different kinds of yeast available, depending on which beer you are homebrewing, like ales or lagers. Be mindful of this as your collect your beer brewing ingredients. With fresh ingredients, your beer is going to taste that much better.

 

Chill The Wort

Pouring hot wort into cold water in a fermenter is often the brewing practice of choice to chill the wort down. However, there is a better method for chilling wort that will not compromise the flavor of the final product. Instead of mixing the hot wort with the cold water, place the hot wort in a pile of ice to cool it down. Once the temperature decreases to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you can transfer it to the cool water in the fermenter. This way of chilling the wort decreases the chance of oxidation, which will produce a tastier beer in the long-run.

 

Stay Clean And Sanitized

While this may seem like a no-brainer, sanitizing your homebrew systems and beer equipment, especially during the wort cooling process, is an important tip for creating a clean tasting, delicious beer. The last thing you want is to contaminate your brews, so be sure to soak the equipment in a no-rinse sanitizer.

 

Hopefully these three simple tips will assist you in your homebrewing endeavors. Focusing on fresh ingredients and sanitizing your equipment, as well as properly chilling the wort, will ensure that your final product is a delectable beer that you and your friends and family will enjoy. Check out our homebrewing systems at Brew Perfect today.

Homebrew Recipe For Postdoc Brewing Demon Star Imperial Stout

In a previous post, we shared a recipe for a milk stout that you can brew at home. Stouts are delicious dark beers made with roasted malt or barley, and if it’s a milk stout, the included milk evens out the hoppiness. The rich chocolate and caramel flavors in stouts make them an excellent beer for sipping on a cold winter’s night. If you tried the Left Hand Brewery milk stout that we posted before and loved it, then you’re going to want to pull out your homebrewing systems and equipment out again because we have another stout recipe for you.

While not a milk stout, this imperial stout is packed with coffee and dark chocolate flavors that you’ll definitely love if you’re a routine morning coffee drinker. With a high alcohol content, 9.8 percent, this is a homebrew you’ll want to drink at home on a chilly evening with friends and family.

This recipe is a clone beer of the Postdoc Brewing Demon Star Imperial Stout from Redmond, Washington. With a rich and malty flavor, due to the black and chocolate hops, and a full and sweet aroma, there’s no doubt that you’re going to love drinking this stout as much as you enjoy homebrewing it. So continue on to find the recipe you’ve been waiting for!

Size of Batch

  • Five gallons/19 liters
  • Original gravity: 1.100
  • ABV: 9.8 percent
  • IBU: 63
  • Boil time: 60 minutes

Ingredients

  • Maris Otter – 14 lb.
  • 120L Crystal – 1.2 lb
  • Roasted barley – 0.6 lb
  • Black malt – 0.6 lb.
  • Chocolate malt – 0.6 lb.
  • 65L Crystal – 0.6 lb.
  • Pale chocolate – 0.3 lb.
  • CTZ, 15.5% a.a. – 38 g. (60 minutes)
  • Willamette, 5.5% a.a. – 28 g. (10 minutes
  • Willamette, 5.5% a.a. – 28 g. (0 minutes)
  • Wyeast 1056

Brewing Directions

  • For 60 minutes, mash at 152° F. The target OG is 1.100.
  • To minimize wort losses in the kettle, use a high-alpha hop or any other bittering addition.
  • At 65° F, pitch yeast, raising the temperature to 67 ° F by the end of the fermentation.

Before you can brew this beer at home, you’re going to want to have the proper equipment and homebrewing systems at the ready. If you are looking for quality homebrew beer equipment, like digital hydrometers, take a look at BrewPerfect and shop today. Happy brewing!

How To Homebrew Hard Cider

When you think of cider, chances are you are thinking of a non-alcoholic apple juice beverage from a farm or farmer’s market that you often drink on crisp fall days in the autumnal seasons. However, the game changes when you put “hard” in front of it. In America, “sweet” cider is considered to be non-alcoholic.  Hard cider is, in fact, fermented and does contains alcohol, and you might not be able to find this kind being sold on the side of the road or at pumpkin patches. That being said, if you are craving a hard cider, you can take to your own devices and brew at home.

If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at homebrewing a hard cider, today’s blog post is for you. We’re going to be sharing the simple steps of making a hard cider and providing directions for brewing it in your own home. The process is simple and easy, so you can get to sipping the hard cider quickly. So set up your homebrewing systems and equipment — shop BrewPerfect for homebrewing hydrometers and more — and get ready to enjoy a delicious and flavorful brew, perfect for a chilly autumn evening.

Step 1: Select Your Juice

You can make a hard cider straight from a nonalcoholic cider, also known as “sweet cider.” So when you select the juice for your alcoholic cider, you’re going to want to find a sweet one. You can either get some from a local cider mill, the farmer’s market, or your own, or you can purchase a sweet cider at the store. If you decide to go the store-bought route, make sure that the cider is free from chemical preservatives, including sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate. This is especially important because these added chemical preservatives will actually kill your yeast, preventing your cider from fermenting. Also, you will want to make sure that whatever sweet cider you get is “cold pasteurized.” Certain pasteurization processes can actually affect the flavor of your cider.

The best way to avoid this is to purchase a sweet, preservative-free cider from a local orchard or farm. If you’re confused about their pasteurization processes, just ask. This way, you’re ensuring the quality of your homebrewed cider, and you’re supporting local farms.

Step 2: Select The Yeast

Yeast is fairly easy to select for brewing ciders at home. Both dry and liquid ciders will work excellently. There are liquid yeast options available specifically for ciders, but dry wine yeasts work just as well and are less expensive.

Optional Step: Make A Starter For Your Cider

You don’t have to do this, but making a starter ensures that your yeast is fermenting correctly and quickly. In order to do this, take your bottle of sweet cider, pour a little bit out, and put one packet of yeast into the bottle. Shake it for a few seconds. If the yeast is proofed (meaning that it is alive), the cider should start bubbling in the bottle within a five or six hours. If this is the case, open the bottle to release the pressure, reseal it, and refrigerate it until a few hours before you start your brew the next day.

Brewing Process

Step 1: Start With A Starter

It’s time to brew! To start, pour the cider (if it is unpasteurized) into a brewing pot and let it simmer over medium heat for about 45 minutes at 185º, but don’t let it boil. This process actually kills the bacteria in the unpasteurized juice. If you want to sidestep this part, you can start by pouring the sweet cider into a plastic bucket and directly pitching the yeast.

If you do choose to simmer the cider over heat initially, you then have the option of adding in 2 pounds of brown sugar or honey. This increases the fermentable sugar, which boosts the alcohol content.

Step 2: Begin The Fermentation Process

Next, you’re going to pour the cider into your sanitized fermentation bucket. Make sure it’s sanitized because you don’t want to spoil the cider. Cool the cider in the bucket until it’s at room temperature. Then you’ll add your yeast, or the starter, if you had made on the day before. Stir the mixture together for about a minute or two before you seal the lid on the bucket and affix the airlock. Store the bucket in room at a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees.

Step 3: Let It Sit

The third step is to let the cider ferment. After a couple of days, you should notice some bubbling. This process takes about two weeks. After the bubbling stops, let the cider sit for another week so the yeast settles.

Step 4: Bottle It Up

It is now time to bottle your hard cider! Once you bottle it, let it sit for an additional two weeks until it is ready to drink. The longer you let it sit, the more still and less fizzy it will be. If you let the hard cider sit for a few months, the flavor will improve, similar to wine.

Step 5: Enjoy!

The last step is to drink the hard cider! You’ve just homebrewed a delicious alcoholic beverage that can be shared with friends and family. The process of brewing a hard cider at home is pretty simple, so you can get started on your next batch whenever you’d like.

We hope you enjoying brewing your own hard cider as much as you’ll enjoy drinking it. If you’re looking for homebrewing systems and equipment, including hydrometers, shop BrewPerfect today. Happy cider drinking!

Homebrew Recipe For Vanilla Cinnamon Mead

Mead is a little different than beer. The sugars in mead come from honey, whereas the sugars in beer come from grain starch. This makes this alcoholic beverage available for those who are gluten-free! That being said, the way to brew mead is fairly similar to all grain home brewing. So today, we’re going to dive right in and provide you with a mead homebrewing recipe, a cloned version of the Vanilla Cinnamon Mead from Prairie Rose Meadery in Fargo, North Dakota. Yes, it sounds as delicious as it sounds. The cinnamon and Madagascar vanilla bean that is incorporated into the recipes makes for a tasty drink you’ll want to sip as you nibble on a sweet dessert.

This recipe comes from The American Homebrewers Association. Read along to learn how to homebrew this mouthwatering beverage in a home microbrewery. And as always, you’re going to need the proper equipment and homebrewing systems to brew at home. So be sure to check out Brew Perfect for quality digital hydrometers for your brewing process.

Size Of Batch

  • Six gallons
  • Original gravity: 1.128
  • ABV: ~14 percent

Mead Homebrewing Ingredients

  • Clover honey – 20 lbs.
  • Water (charcoal filtered) – 3 Gallons
  • Lalvin, 71B-1122 yeast – 2 packages
  • GoFerm – 12.5 grams
  • Fermaid O – 10 grams
  • Fermaid K – 10 grams
  • Diammonium phosphate (DAP) – 6.6 grams
  • One Madagascar vanilla bean
  • Three Saigon or Vietnamese cinnamon sticks
  • Fining/clarifying agent

Homebrewing Directions

  • The first step is to heat the three gallons of water to 110° F. At this heat, the honey will mix in well. Add in as much honey as you can in order to reach a gravity of 1.128. Cool the unfermented mead, called “must,” to 67° F.
  • In water heated at 115° F with the 12.5 grams of GoFerm, rehydrate two packages of Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast. Then, you’re going to let this sit for 20 minutes until it becomes foamy. After this, add it into the must — the unfermented mead.
  • The next step is to oxygenate the word. You can do this one of two ways — either by stirring it quickly, or adding O2 for a few minutes so the must becomes foamy.

Now it is time to add in the dry nutrient ingredients. Before you do this, be sure to gently mix the must to get rid of any CO2. Do this every time before you add in a nutrient ingredient.

You add the following dry ingredients based on an hourly schedule. The hours on this schedule are the hours after the yeast was pitched.

  • After 12 hours: Oxygenate the must once more.
  • After 24 hours: Add the Fermaid O — five grams.
  • After 48 hours: Add another five grams of Fermaid O.
  • After 72 hours: Add in the Fermaid K — five grams; and the DAP — 3.3 grams.
  • Watch for the gravity to drop around 1.086. When this has happened, you will add another five grams of Fermaid K and another 3.3 grams of DAP.

You homebrewed mead should be done fermenting in about three weeks. Be sure to check the pH. If it drops below 3.3, add a quarter to a half teaspoon of potassium carbonate. You want to bring the pH up to about 3.45.

After the fermentation is completed, it’s time for the best part — the vanilla and cinnamon! Add in one Madagascar vanilla bean and the three Saigon or Vietnamese cinnamon sticks. Let the vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks sit in there for about a week, and be sure to taste it throughout. Once you find the perfect taste, you can remove the vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks.

The last part of this homebrewing process is to rack it, and you can do this in a carboy. Use a fining agent during this step, as well.

As you can see, the process of homebrewing this Vanilla Cinnamon Mead recipe is simple and requires few pieces of homebrewing systems and equipment. We hope that you can sit back, snack on a delicious treat, and enjoy this semi-sweet beverage.

Be sure to visit Brew Perfect for digital hydrometers and further information on equipment and homebrewing systems if you brew at home. Happy, hoppy brewing!