If you make the transition from extract to all-grain brewing, you have a lot of options to consider when building a recipe. That’s not a bad thing — in fact, that’s the reason some brewers make the switch. You can use different kinds of grain, different ratios of grain, different mashing temperatures and mashing methods. The possibilities are endless. And they can be bewildering.
Along with these options come a lot of new ingredients … and new terminology to describe them. In this article, we’re going to get down to basics — literally. When brewing beer from grain, most recipes start with the group of malts known as “base malts.”
Base Malt: What Is It?
Beers are differentiated from each other by their color, flavor, alcohol content, hopping and many other factors. But they all have one thing in common before they become an individual beer style — fermentable sugars that form the “base” of the beer. This base of fermentable sugars comes from the starches in the base malts. They’re called base malts precisely because they form the base of the beer. They typically comprise anywhere from 60 to 100 percent of the grist.
Once you have this base, changing other things in the recipe, like hops and specialty malts (specialty malts, for the purposes of this article, I define as dark and crystal malts) make the beer what it is. For example, all cakes consist mainly of flour. That’s the base. What makes it into chocolate cake is chocolate flavoring.
The base malt has several functions in a recipe. The first, as I mentioned, is to provide the base of fermentable sugars for the beer. The majority of the alcohol content of the beer is established by adjusting the amount of base malt in a recipe — the more malt, the more alcohol. The second function is to provide the base flavor profile for the beer. This is most important in beers that don’t use a lot of specialty malts in addition to the base malt. In other words, if you use a lot of flavorful specialty malts, their flavor will tend to mask the flavor of the base malt. Conversely, if there are little to no specialty malts in the recipe, the flavor of the base malt is more important. Last, the base malt provides enzymes to convert its starches into sugars. It also provides extra enzymes to convert specialty malts (like carapils) and adjuncts (like corn or flaked barley) that lack enough enzymes of their own to do the job.
Types of Base Malt
In this article, I will discuss five common kinds of barley base malt: pale, pilsen, pale ale, Vienna and Munich. There are other kinds of barley malt that can form the base of a beer, like stout malt. And some brewers might not consider Vienna and Munich to be bona-fide base malts, because they’re usually used in conjunction with pale malt and rarely comprise more than 30 percent of the grist (I’ll address this later). By and large, however, these five malts provide the base for a wide range of beers.
1. Pilsen malt is used to brew traditional Czech or German pilsners.
2. Munich malt is used in Oktoberfests and many German lagers, like dunkel. It also shows up in ales, from IPA to porter.
3. Pale ale malt is like two-row, but is kilned at a higher temperature. This flavorful malt is used to make ales, especially traditional English ales.
4. Vienna has a malty flavor profile. It’s used in Vienna lagers.
5. Pale malt, often called “two row,” is the most common base malt. It’s used as the sole base malt in 95 percent of all beers.
Basic Pale Malt
This is the most common type of base malt, and it is used as the sole malt for 95 percent of all beers. It is very light in color — usually about 1.8 to 2.1 degrees Lovibond. If your beer was made strictly from this malt, it would be a medium yellow color. Pale malt typically has lots of enzymes — enough to convert its own starch and the starch from good deal of adjuncts, up to 50 percent of the total grist. Pale malts are well modified, which means it’s easy to convert their starches into sugars. Any type of mashing schedule can be used with them, single-step infusion being the most common.
Pale malt is sold in two forms — two-row and six-row. The most common form used by home and craft brewers is two-row, while big commercial breweries will typically use a lot of six-row. The names come from how the grain actually grows on the stalk. Two-row has two kernels that grow opposite each other on the stalk. They tend to be large and uniform in size. Six-row, as you might guess, has six kernels that are slightly smaller than two-row kernels. Six-row has even more enzymes than two-row, which is important to megabreweries that use a high percentage of adjuncts, like rice or corn, in the beer. Six-row also yields better in the field, which tends to make it a little cheaper than two-row. Again, this is only important in megabreweries, where saving a few dollars a batch can really add up. For small-scale and homebrewers, the savings would never be enough to bother with. Six-row is also reported to have a sharper flavor by some brewers. Two-row lends a rounder flavorto your beer. So the take-home advice here is this: Always use two-row, regardless of what the recipe calls for or what someone may tell you.
Pale malt is often called other things. The most common nickname for it is two-row, but that really is a misnomer since almost all malts available to homebrewers are made from two-row barley. Still, I call it two-row myself. It’s also known as “lager malt,” not to be confused with pilsen malt (described later). Two-row is also sometimes referred to by the name Klages (pronounced like “claw guess”). Klages is the name of a variety (technically a “strain”) of barley. Many years ago, the most common two-row available in North America was Klages, and if you bought two-row you stood a good chance of getting 100 percent Klages barley. Hence “Klages” became another nickname for two-row. But that was long ago. Klages still makes up a tiny percentage of available two-row malts, but almost all are now blends of Klages and other malts. Harrington is common, but new varieties are being released all the time. So my advice to you is not to worry about what
specific varieties of malt are in your two-row. You have to trust your maltster to give you a blend that will make good beer. (Some North American homebrew suppliers still sell their malt as 100 percent Klages or just Klages. This is either due to ignorance, being too lazy to change the catalog from a few years back, or they want you to believe you are getting something you’re not.) In England you can buy unblended varieties of malt, such as Maris Otter.
Pale malt can be used to make all types of beers. In fact, it should be used to make almost all kinds of beers. It’s the least expensive type of base malt and if your beer uses a lot of specialty grains to change the flavor, the base malt hardly matters. Is pale malt basically the same from supplier to supplier? No, but the differences tend to be extremely subtle. Some have a more pronounced maltiness or fuller flavor profile than others. If you’re making a pale beer that is essentially all two-row, these subtle differences will be apparent in the final beer. So here it may be wise to use the base malt that has a flavor that you like, or that you want in the final beer. But if you are making a stout, for example, the flavors of roasted grains in the finished beer will overpower any subtle malt effects from the two-row.
Sometimes just called “pils,” pilsen is a special kind of pale malt that is used to make — you guessed it — pilsners. Pilsen malt is typically very light in color (anywhere from 1.1 to 2 degrees Lovibond). This malt typically tastes thinner and crisper than regular two-row, which carries over into the beer. Getting this flavor is usually at the expense of maltiness and aroma, but that’s what typifies a real pilsner. To get this flavor profile, the maltster will typically keep this malt less modified than regular two-row. Some would say it is under-modified, but that is rarely actually the case. It is modified well enough so that a single-step infusion mash presents no problems (this is the simplest kind of mashing, conducted at a constant temperature in a single vessel). Sometimes pilsner malt doesn’t have a lot of enzymatic power to spare, so it can’t convert itself and a load of adjuncts. But you really don’t want anything else in a true pilsner anyway, so it’s of little concern.
Pilsen malt is used to make one type of beer — traditional German or Czech pilsners. Those beers usually consist of 100 percent pilsen malt and nothing else but hops, yeast and water. If you have pilsen malt on hand and nothing else, you could use it to make almost any other beer style, but standard two-row would be a better choice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a recipe call for 90 percent two-row and 10 percent pilsen as the base malts. That’s a complete waste of pilsen and a complication in the recipe that makes no sense. Just use all two-row — you’d never taste the pilsen in that recipe. I’ve also seen pilsen malt called for in a lot of other German beers, like Munich. This is not a good choice. (It is more than likely an example of choosing a malt because it sounds right, rather than thinking about what the beer should actually taste like.) Use pilsen malt for brewing pilsners and that’s it.
Pale Ale Malt
This malt is basically the same as standard two-row, but it is kilned at a slightly higher temperature. This results in a darker color (it measures about 3 to 4 degrees Lovibond) and it also changes the flavor profile. Pale ale malt can be very flavorful and malty, with a good malt aroma. It tends to be the most modified of all the base malts and it works well with any mashing schedule, from single infusion to step mashing. It has a fairamount of enzymatic power and can convert itself and some extra
adjuncts, up to 50 percent of the total grist. As the name implies, this malt is primarily intended to make ales, especially traditional English ales. It’s too dark for a pilsner. It can also be an excellent choice for Belgian-style amber ales.
It’s common for this malt to be made by specialty maltsters in the United Kindgom. It’s also common for the specific barley variety to be featured. Maris Otter is a British variety of barley commonly associated with this type of malt. (Maris is the name of the company that markets the barley seeds to growers, while Otter is the variety. Yes, there is a barley called Maris Beaver, and other varieties named after small furry creatures, butthey aren’t used in brewing.) This malt is also sometimes sold as ESB (Extra Special Bitter) malt. Darker versions are known as Amber and Mild malts.
This is a very special kind of basemalt. It is more highly kilned than two-row and is typically around 4 degrees Lovibond. Vienna’s flavor profile is very malty but can have some grassiness to it. Most Vienna has just enough enzymatic power to convert itself, but some strains may have as much enzymatic power as two-row. Vienna iswell-modified and can work with any kind of mash schedule.
The primary purpose of Vienna is to make Vienna-style lagers. These beers are similar to Oktoberfests (also known as Märzen) but have a lower alcohol content. Trying to find a true “Vienna” these days is hard. Samuel Adams Lager is actually a good representation of a Vienna-style lager (it’s probably a tad too hoppy to be a real Vienna), but they don’t market it as such. Even if you don’t want to brew a Vienna, Viennamalt has other uses. It’s typically used as part of the grain bill in Oktoberfests and other German lagers (but not pilsners). You can also use it in any other recipe in which you want the flavor of Vienna malt. You also could make a beer out of 100 percent Vienna (some brewers use this to make an amber beer), but I wouldn’t recommend it. Five to ten percent Vienna is a good starting place when used as a specialty malt for flavoring. A Vienna lager, on the other hand, might use 30 to 40 percent Vienna as one of its base malts, with regular two-row comprising the rest of the grist.
Munich is a very useful malt for the all-grain brewer. It is more highly kilned than Vienna malt and runs the gamut from 6 to 30 degrees Lovibond. The most typical range, however, is 8 to 9 degrees Lovibond. When someone refers to Munich malt, they usually mean the lighter versions that measure 9 degrees Lovibond or less.
The flavor of lower color or “standard” Munich malt is malty with a slight toasty edge. This toasty edge increases with color, becoming the dominant flavor in the high-color Munichs. The low-color Munichs have enough enzymatic power to convert themselves, but above 15° Lovibond, Munich starts to lose enzymes at a rapid pace, so it must be used in conjunction with two-row (which you’d usually do anyway). Munich malts are well modified and require no special attention during the mash.
Traditionally Munich was used to make Munich-style lagers, which hardly exist commercially today. The closest you’ll find in modern times is an Oktoberfest. (A historical perspective: These lagers were common centuries ago because Munich malt was one of the lightest malts that was available. It’s not until relatively recently that maltsters have been able to make malts much lighter in color. It’s reported that the “death” of the Vienna and Munich styles can be attributed to the introduction of pale malts and the resulting pilsner style.)
All that aside, Munich remains a very popular malt with brewers. It’s always part of every Oktoberfest recipe, often in conjunction with some Vienna. A typical Oktoberfest grain bill might be 75 percent two-row malt, 15 percent Munich, 5 percent Vienna and 5 percent crystal malt (ranging from 60 to 90 degrees Lovibond). You should consider Munich for any German lager that’s not a pilsner. The classic Munich lager is dunkel, and 100 percent medium-color Munich malt can be used to brew this style. It’s also a common ingredient in many ales. My IPA recipes will typicallycall for 5 to 10 percent Munich. I also use it in bock, dopplebock, porter and many other styles. It adds a nice maltiness to the beer, but be careful not to overdo it, or the toastiness will start to become apparent.
Dark Munichs really shouldn’t be classified as a base malt, but we’ll cover them anyway to show you how they differ from the lighter Munichs. The dark Munichs can be used anywhere you want their flavor. It’s used by one famous brewery, for example, in their porter (I’d name the brewery, but I’m sworn to secrecy). The really dark Munichs have a very pronounced toasty flavor and can be used as a substitute in recipes that call for toasted malt. DeWolf-Cosyns produced a malt called Biscuit, which is similar to the high-color Munichs, but the company is supposed to be closed its operations in 2002. Should Biscuit disappear from the market, a high-color Munich would be a reasonable, but not an exact, substitute for that malt.
Why Are Vienna and Munich Base Malts?
Good question, since they rarely make up more than 30 percent of the malt bill. Part of the answer is historical — Vienna and Munich used to be the only base malts! But part of the answer lies in how much fermentability they contribute to wort. For all practical purposes, Vienna and the light Munichs contribute the same amount of fermentables per pound as the other base malts (as opposed to specialty malts, which contribute less). So, at least for purposes of this article, we can still consider them
Other Base Malts
The focus of this article has been base malts that are made from barley, but we should mention that other grains would qualify. Wheat malt would be the most common alternative. Spelt, millet, sorghum and other grains are used in parts of the world where barley is scarce.
If you buy your supplies from the local homebrew shop, you may not have much choice when it comes to base malts. They may carry only one two-row and one Munich, and might not carry pale ale, Vienna or pilsen malts at all. But if you’re lucky,
your local shop will have a good selection. I used to own a homebrew shop in California, and at one point we carried three different two-rows, two pale ales, two pilsens, two Viennas and six Munich malts! On the Internet and by mail-order, you can find a similar range of selections at some of the better sites, and you can certainly get a wider range if you don’t mind buying from a few sites.
So how do you evaluate the malts? Ideally it would be nice to brew a batch of beer with every grain type. (Check out the recipes below; each recipe is designed to highlight the flavor of one of the five base malts we’ve covered in this article.) Besides brewing with each base malt, the simplest way I know to evaluate grain is simply to chew some and taste it. The enzymes in your saliva will “mash” the grains for you, so after chewing, let the grains sit a while. The enzymes will work on the grains, and starchiness will be replaced with sweetness. Pay attention to the flavors. Then choose what you like. Sometimes it’s hard to project those flavors into the finished beer, but with practice, you will be able to do that. If you record your perceptions of the malt, then compare them to your perceptions of the finished beer, it will help you put the two together.
If your local store has a selection, chances are they’ll let you graze in the grain bins for a while. If you are ordering online, then order a pound or the minimum of several different types. This will be a little expensive for a test, but it will be worth it.
Once you have picked the grain that tastes the best to you (ignore the marketing hype; your taste buds are the ultimate judge), then order enough to do a batch and brew with it.
Caring For Base Malt
Base malts require more care in storage than specialty malts. Specialty malts can be stored for long periods of time, because in most cases they are kilned to such a high degree that there is no longer any starch or enzymes left. The starches have been converted to sugars or burned to a crisp. It makes little difference if specialty grains are stored cracked or whole, as long as they are kept cool and dry. (Some specialty malts have some starch and enzymes left, so find out about your malt when considering
storage options.) But base malts are a different story. They contain lots of starch, and starch absorbs moisture much more readily than the sugars in the kilned malts. And the enzymes need protection. So it is crucial to store base malts in their whole, uncracked state for as long as possible. Ideally, you should crack the grain just prior to mashing. If kept cool and dry, cracked base malts are good for at least a month, sometimes three or four. Uncracked base malts can be stored for at least a year or more, if stored cool, dry and sealed so pests can’t infiltrate.
Again, you can use your taste buds (and eyes and touch) to check your base malt for freshness. If the malt is crushed, it should still be dry and powdery. Any sign of gumminess is a sure sign of trouble. Taste the malt, too. It should be dry and, again, not at all gummy. You should be able to detect any stale or moldy flavors. If you taste any of these, toss the grain. It has gone “slack” and you can’t brew with it.
One thing to be especially careful of is pests. All grain is susceptible to grain moths, grain weevils and rodents. But they particularly love starchy base malts. Rodents don’t care if your grain is crushed or not, but weevils and moths just love crushed grain. Keep it in a tight container.
Crushed or Whole?
Many homebrewers wonder whether they should buy malt that’s already been crushed, or invest in a grain mill. Ideally you should get a mill and crush your grain just before you use it. But that can be expensive and time consuming — not to mention a lot of work and mess. So a smart way to go is to buy your malt by the batch and have the shop crush it for you. You just have
to be ready to brew soon after you get the grain. Unless you can pick up a bag of grain from your local shop, my experience is that you won’t save a lot of money by buying your base malt by the bag. One thing I do not recommend is buying base malt by the bag pre-crushed, unless you intend to use it all right away.
Now we’ve covered all the bases! What are the important points? Pale malt (two-row) is used for just about every beer you brew. It’s the primary base malt. When selecting your pale malt, use two-row. There’s no reason a homebrewer will need six-row. When you want to brew a pilsner, use pilsen malt exclusively. Don’t muck it up with anything else. And don’t bother with it anywhere else. Pale ale malt is useful if you want to brew traditional English ales. You can use it in other recipes, but be prepared for the extra color it will add. Vienna has a limited range, but experiment. Watch out for its grassy flavors. Munich has a lot of uses. Consider it for all German lagers (except pilsners) but don’t try to use it for the sole malt. Use it in amounts of up to 30 percent in conjunction with two-row. It’s a good all-around malt for adding malty flavors and aroma. But be mindful of its toasty edge. Play with the darker Munichs, especially in dark beers. The best way to understand base malts is to brew with them!
Barley, whether raw or malted, plays an important role in the global economy. The majority is grown in cool-climate countries, although some is grown on the hillsides of Mexico, Latin America and beyond. Most barley is used as animal feed and an ingredient in food. Malted barley, either as flour or an extract, is used in cereals, snacks, crackers, candy, health drinks and many more products.
Barley malt is the basic ingredient in beer. Why barley? For starters, it’s a win-win situation foreveryone. The supply and demand is fairly consistent, as is the price. The farmer gets to plant the crop early in the spring and harvest in early summer. It is an “in-between” crop; it is harvested after oats and winter wheat and before spring wheat. Yields are good, and it is friendly to the soil.
As every maltster knows, barley contains everything needed to produce a quality product for the brewer. The kernel has all the necessary enzymatic power to convert the flint-hard barley kernel to a soft, modified kernel of malt. Barley has a fairly neutral flavor and color, so the maltster can create the precise characteristics needed by the brewer. The brewer, in turn, can blend malts and adjust his procedures to develop whatever beer style he selects. Because of its husk and natural pH adjusting, barley malt is the easiest grain to brew with.
What barleys are available and which ones should be used in beer? Until recently, within the last eight to ten years, most of the barley grown in the United States was a six-row variety. The main growing area for six-row is western Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, a region known as the Red River Valley. Each of the Western states also grow some six-row.
By far the largest crop of six-row is Robust. More than three-fourths of the acreage planted in the Red River Valley is Robust, because it is preferred by the big brewers. The barley has excellent enzymes and produces a clean, sweet, mild malt flavor, making it very versatile in creating beer styles. The Stander variety is rather widely grown but is not very popular with either the maltster or brewer. It is what is described as “hot,” which means it has excessive levels of the alpha and beta amylase enzymes. The next most-popular strain is Excel. This tends to have a little higher protein level and a sharper, more husky flavor. If the homebrewer buys a six-row base malt, he can expect that Robust would be the majority, if not all, of the product, with maybe a little Excel, Foster or B1602.
In the United States, two-row varieties have become very popular. Two-row is grown mostly in the Western states and much of it is on irrigated land. Irrigation allows the farmer to control nature and control the quality of the barley, at least to some extent. Moisture — or lack of it — during the development stage determines the kernel plumpness, color, starch-to-protein ratio and brewing quality.
Up until 1997, Klages was the primary two-row variety. The maltsters and brewers loved it. It was easy to work with, had good brewhouse yields, a nice color and flavor, and low protein, but the farmer was not happy with his agricultural yields. In 2001 there was very little, if any, Klages grown in this country, except under contract. It is doubtful that any Klages malt would find its way into a homebrew shop.
Harrington is the most widely grown two-row malting variety. It has many of the Klages characteristics but a big disadvantage — the husk is very loose. During malting, far too much husk is lost. We all know how important husk is for lautering during all-grain brewing!
Moravian is grown in Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming, under contract to Coors. The original Moravian variety has undergone many generations since the barley was brought over from Czechoslovakia. It is very difficult to malt and requires changes in brewhouse procedures. It has a distinctive flavor, regardless of how it is malted. If you can get some, try it. It makes an interesting brew.
Metcalf is grown in Canada. The flavor is a bit different from Harrington, and the husk stays on the kernel. A bit of Alexis also is grown in the States. This variety is popular in the UK. It tends to have low protein, usually in the 9 percent range, and low enzymes, so it takes careful time and temperature control during mashing.
Each barley will give slight flavor differences and may perform a little differently in the brewhouse. Trying new base malts can be a challenge, but that’s what makes homebrewing fun!
Base Malt Extract Essentials
Let’s see a show of hands. Everyone who was brewing when Blue Ribbon malt extract was the only “beermaking” extract you could find, raise your hand. OK. Now let’s see how many of you know what base malt was used to make Blue Ribbon. No hands? I didn’t think so. It’s only been within the last 20 years that most homebrewers developed a desire to know not just whether their products would make beer, but exactly how those products are derived. In his article on base malts, Mark Garetz walks
you through five malts that are used as a base in all-grain brewing. Which begs the questions — what are the base malts used to make malt extract, and if you want to work with one of the malts Mark mentioned, which extract do you use?
By starting with an unhopped, 100 percent malt extract, a skilled homebrewer can create almost any beer style in existence. Today’s high-quality malt extracts — the well-known “name brands” that are formulated specifically for brewing — have a high degree of fermentability, sufficient FAN (free amino nitrogen) for yeast nutrition and mid-sized proteins fora creamy, long-lasting head. These top-of-the-line extracts are made with choice base malt, usually from the barley variety that’s dominant in the country where the extract is produced. In the United States, for example, that would be Harrington two-row pale malt. Depending on the extract type, specialty malts also may be included. No manufacturer is going to release their recipe, but with careful tasting and experience, it’s possible to make an educated guess about what malts your favorite brand includes.
The most important thing to remember when selecting an unhopped malt extract is this: If you are not working with a high-quality extract, it does not matter what base malt produced it. Stick with extract producers who have been recognized as making high-quality extracts intended primarily for beer making. Next, seek out technical information on the malt extract
you’re considering. This will tell you if the base malt used in producing the extract is the same as, or similar to, the base malt
you would use in all-grain brew. All the better producers include this information on their Websites, so read the spec sheet carefully.
The age of the malt extract is also important. It doesn’t matter if the base grain used in producing a malt extract was a lightly kilned pilsner malt if the extract in the can is two years old. It will be dark. Look for the “use by” date or the production date on the bottom of the can. If there is no date, either try a different brand, or look for a brand that seems to be selling through well at your local shop. And always purchase a maltextract that specifically says “100 percent malt extract.” If it doesn’t specify that, the extract could be cut with cheap corn syrup.
Let’s run down each of the five basemalts in the article and see how they translate to unhopped malt extracts. I mention a few brand names by way of example, but this list is not meant to be comprehensive. If you have a favorite extract brand, simply do a little research and learn about the base malts that are used to produce it.
Two-Row Pale & Pale Ale Malt
Two-row pale malt is the base for almost all ales, and is also the base grain used in almost all malt extract production. As long as the malt extract is from a quality producer, you can substitute “Light” or “Extra-Light” malt extract for just about any recipe that calls for two-row or pale ale malt. This includes liquid or dry malt extract.
Coopers uses two-row Schooner, an Australian pilsner barley, in the production of its extracts. To my knowledge, Coopers is the only company that uses pilsner barley in the production of malt extract. Many producers offer an “Extra-Light” malt extract in both liquid and dry form that will work well also.
Vienna malt is rarely used by commercial brewers these days and is not used at all in malt extract production. You can best simulate the body and color of Vienna malt by combining in equal quantities a relatively light Amber DME, likeMuntons Amber, with a Light DME.
Briess Amber contains between 15 to 50 percent Munich malt. You can substitute it for Munich, but you’ll be guessing a bit on the ratios. St. Patrick’s of Texas has a proprietary product, Maries malt extract, that is 50 percent Munich. If your Oktoberfest recipe calls for up to 25 percent Munich malt, then a 50-50 mix of either of these two extracts with a good Light malt extract will put you in the right ballpark.
– Mark Henry
The Base Malt Recipe File
Now that you understand base malts, how do you use the knowledge? The best advice I can give you is to brew and see what happens. Brewing is like cooking. You taste your ingredients. You think about what the ingredients taste like and what the finished beer should taste like. Then you put together a recipe and see what happens. With that in mind, I’ve put together a starter recipe file. These simple all-grain recipes should give you some ideas about how base malts can be used and how each malt will taste in the finished beer.
All of these recipes are for five gallon batches and all use a single-step infusion mash at about 154 °Fahrenheit (68 °C). Mash in all the grains together. To each recipe you can add a quarter-pound of flaked barley for head retention. I also recommend one tablespoon of Irish moss added at the beginning of theb boil. (Most homebrewers add it near the end of the boil. That works as long as you rehydrate the Irish moss first, which most homebrewers don’t do. Adding it at the beginning eliminates the need for
Some of these recipes are ales, some are lagers. You can brew the lagers as ales if you don’t have any way to control the fermentation temperature. All the ale recipes (and lager recipes made as ales) should be fermented at 70° to 72° F. If you use lager yeast for the lagers, start the fermentation at 70° to 72° F, then lower it to 54° once the fermentation has started in earnest.
I’ve given you the bittering hops for these recipes in IBUs, or International Bittering Units. This is a measure of how bitter the final beer should be. IBUs take into account hop utilization, which is an expression of how efficiently you use the bittering compounds during the boil. It also accounts for losses during fermentation. To calculate the weight of hops you need, use the following formula:
hop weight in ounces = Gallons x IBUs
% Util x % Alpha Acid x 0.749
If you know your approximate utilization, great. If you don’t, here are some guidelines: For the novice brewer, you’ll probably get 24 to 26 percent utilization for the one-hour recommended boil. Most all-grain brewers will probably get 26 to 28 percent utilization. Advanced brewers or brewers with really great kettles and burners are more likely in the 30 to 33 percent range.
Using the Extra Pale Ale recipe as an example, I call for 30 IBUs of bitterness in a five-gallon batch. Thetop half of the equation looks like 5 x 30, which equals 150. Assuming your utilization is 28 percent and your Galena hops are at 13 percent alpha acid, then the bottom equation looks like 28 x 13 x 0.749, which equals 273 (rounded up). Now divide 150 by 273 to get about 0.55 ounces of hops. Note that these calculations only apply to the bittering hops (in the example recipes, always a single addition of a single variety). All other hop additions should not be adjusted based on alpha acid. Just use the weight listed.
Two-Row Extra Pale Ale
OG = 1.048 FG = 1.012 IBU = 30
This recipe is very simple, but it makes an excellent beer. It’s a great way to evaluate two-row malt.
8.5 lbs. pale malt (two-row)
30 IBUs Galena hops (bittering)
1 oz. Cascade hops (5 minutes before the end of boil)
1 oz. Cascade (steeped for 10 minutes after the boil or dry-hopped)
Wyeast 1056 (American Ale) or
White Labs WLP001 (California)
Step by Step
Mash in 10.6 quarts of water to bring the mash to a temperature of 154° F. Let stand 30 minutes. Sparge with 180° F water to collect 6 to 7 gallons of wort. (The exact amount will depend on how much you boil off. The idea is to end up with 5 gallons of wort.) Bring the wort to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon Irish moss and the bittering hops. Boil for 55 minutes, then add 1 oz. of Cascade, stirring in well. Boil another 5 minutes. Shut off the heat, stir in another ounce of Cascade and cover the kettle. Let
stand 10 minutes, then cool to 72° F. Transfer to the fermenter and pitch the yeast. Ferment until done (gravity has stopped dropping). Bottle or keg.
OG = 1.045 FG = 1.011 IBU = 25
Another simple recipe, but you will really taste the pilsen malt.
8 lbs. pilsen malt
25 IBUs Tettnanger hops (bittering)
1 oz .Tettnanger hops (5 minutes before the end of boil)
*Wyeast 2278 (Czech Pils)
or White Labs WLP800 (Pilsner) to make as a lager;
*Wyeast 1056 (American) or White Labs WLP001 (California) to make as an ale.
Step by Step
Mash in 10 quarts of water to bring the mash to a temperature of 154° F. Let stand 30 minutes. Sparge with 180° F water to collect 6 to 7 gallons of wort. Bring the wort to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon Irish moss and the bittering hops. Boil for 55 minutes, add 1 ounce of Tettnanger, stirring in well. Boil another 5 minutes. Cool to 72° F. Transfer to fermenter and pitch the yeast. Ferment until done (gravity has stopped dropping). Bottle or keg.
Extra Special Bitter
OG= 1.050 FG = 1.013 IBU = 25
This recipe shows a typical use for pale ale malt. The small amount of chocolate malt will give this beer a nice copper color.
8 lbs. pale ale malt
1 lb. crystal malt (15° Lovibond)
0.10 lbs. chocolate malt
25 IBUs Galena hops (bittering)
1 oz. Willamette hops (5 minutes before end of boil)
Wyeast 1968 (Special London) or White Labs WLP002 (English Ale)
Step by Step
Mash in 11.4 quarts of water to bring the mash to a temperature of 154° F. Let stand 30 minutes. Sparge with 180° F water to collect 6 to 7 gallons of wort. Bring the wort to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon Irish moss and the bittering hops. Boil for 55 minutes, then add 1 ounce of Willamette, stirring in well. Boil another 5 minutes. Cool to 72° F. Transfer to the fermenter and pitch the yeast. Ferment until done (gravity has stopped dropping). Bottle or keg.
OG= 1.067 FG = 1.017 IBU = 18
This recipe makes a traditional Oktoberfest. It uses basic two-row for most of the fermentables, with Vienna and Munich for flavor, aroma and color. Carapils adds body.
9 lbs. Pilsen malt
0.5 lbs. Vienna malt
1.5 lbs. Munich malt
1 lb. carapils
0.5 lbs. crystal malt (95° Lovibond)
18 IBUs Tettnanger or Mt. Hood hops (bittering)
0.5 oz. Tettnanger or Mt. Hood (5 minutes before end of boil)
*Wyeast 2206 (Bavarian) or WLP820 (Oktoberfest) to make as a true lager;
*Wyeast 1056 (American) or White Labs WLP001 (California) to make as an ale
Step by Step
Mash in 15.6 quarts of water to bring the mash to a temperature of 154° F. Let stand 30 minutes. Sparge with 180° F water to collect 6 to 7 gallons of wort. Bring the wort to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon Irish moss and the bittering hops. Boil for 55 minutes, then add 0.5 oz. of Tettnanger or Mt. Hood, stirring in well. Cool to 72° F. Transfer to the fermenter and pitch them yeast. Ferment until done (gravity has stopped dropping). Bottle or keg.
India Pale Ale
OG = 1.063 FG = 1.016 IBU = 35
This is definitely a West Coast, hophead IPA. It uses Munich malt for body, color, flavor and aroma (something has to compete with those hops to balance the beer!). I included this recipe so you could see a non-traditional use of Munich. Try it, you’ll like it!
8.5 lbs. pale malt (two-row)
1.5 lbs. Munich malt
1 lb. carapils
0.5 lbs. crystal malt (15° Lovibond)
0.25 lbs. crystal malt (95° Lovibond)
35 IBUs Galena hops (bittering)
1.5 oz. Cascade hops (5 minutes before end of boil)
1 oz. Cascade (dry hop)
0.5 oz. Columbus (dry hop)
Wyeast 1056 (American) or White Labs WLP001 (California)
Step by Step
Mash in 14.7 quarts of water to bring the mash to a temperature of 154° F. Let stand 30 minutes. Sparge with 180° F water to collect 6 to 7 gallons of wort. (The exact amount will depend on how much you boil off. The idea is to end up with 5 gallons of wort when you pitch the yeast.) Bring the wort to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon Irish moss and the bittering hops. Boil for 55 minutes, then add 1.5 oz. of Cascade, stirring in well. Boil another 5 minutes. Cool to 72° F. Transfer to the fermenter and pitch the yeast. When fermentation starts to slow down (characterized by the vigorous activity starting to subside) add 1 oz. of Cascade hops and 0.5 oz. of Columbus. Stir in well with a sterile spoon. Ferment until done (gravity has stopped dropping). Bottle or keg.
Super Smooth Porter
OG = 1.049 FG = 1.012 IBU = 25
This will give you a nice, smooth porter with a good deal of flavor and body. Both light and dark Munich are used in this recipe. Normally I’d use more chocolate malt, but I’ve cut it down to allow for the use of the dark Munich, which will add a lot of toasty flavor on its own.
5 lbs. pale malt (two-row)
1 lb. light Munich malt
1.5 lbs. dark Munich malt
1 lb. carapils
0.5 lbs. chocolate malt
0.25 lbs. black patent malt
25 IBUs Willamette hops (bittering)
Wyeast 1056 (American) or White Labs WLP001 (California)
Step by Step
Mash in 11.6 quarts of water to bring the mash to a temperature of 154° F. Let stand 30 minutes. Sparge with 180° F water to collect 6 to 7 gallons of wort. (The exact amount will depend on how much you boil off. The idea is to end up with 5 gallons of wort.) Bring the wort to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon Irish moss and the bittering hops. Boil for 60 minutes. Cool to 72° F. Transfer to the fermenter and pitch the yeast. Ferment until done (gravity has stopped dropping). Bottle or keg.