Tag Archives: Homebrew

Brewing with Beer Smith

Well, it really has been quite a while since I’ve written about my experiences with home brewing.

To start, I want to thank all of the people at the Winnipeg Brew Bombers, especially my friend Jeremy, for all of their guidance, knowledge, and help. If it wasn’t for these folks I would not be improving at all in brewing beer.

I’ve brewed three new beers since the last time I posted and I wanted to give out the recipes and also talk a bit about some of what I’ve learned since the last time I brewed.

First, the beers. I’ve brewed a Pumpkin Spice Latte Stout (Milk Stout with coffee, spices and pumpkin), a Margarita Gose (A salty-sour beer with lime juice) and a Russian Imperial Stout (Based of the Brew Dogs DIY recipes). If you want, the Brew Dogs have handed out all of their recipes and you can get them all right here.

The first thing I’ve learned is how awesome Beer Smith is. Beer Smith is a home brewing program that provides you with a full range of grains, hops, yeasts, adjuncts, and other miscellaneous ingredients. Using this program, you can select a specific style of beer and construct the recipe

What’s fantastic about it is that it will give you a whole range of information about the style of beer. When you are brewing a style of beer using the BJCP rules there is a certain range for things like ABV (Alcohol Content), IBUs (International Bitterness Unit), SRM (A measurement of colour) and it even gives you an expected Original Gravity.

Beersmith 1

This is all really useful if you are thinking you might want to submit a beer you brew to a home brewing competition. Most of these competitions judge beers using the BJCP style guide, so if you “fall into the green” you are meeting those style guidelines at least for those aspects.

You’ll also see in that picture some more information about the mash, carbonation and fermentation measures. You can adjust these based on what type of brewing method you’ll use (Right now it is set for Brew in a Bag, Full Body but you can choose from any number of options). You can even design a recipe using extract if you aren’t quite ready for all-grain brewing.

Beersmith 2

Beer Smith also provides you with a Cloud Recipe search where you can see other recipes created by other brewers and use them for inspiration. It also allows you to choose what type of equipment you are using to brew. You can either choose from a list of equipment options, or create your own.

Beersmith 3

Probably one of the best things that can be done in Beer Smith is scale the recipe. I, for example, brew 2.5 gallon batches while many people tend to do 5-10 gallon batches. Using Beer Smith, you can take one of those larger recipes and scale it to your specific equipment. It will scale all the ingredients including grain, hops, adjuncts, etc.… to be exactly what you need to brew that recipe yourself.

I’ve used Beer Smith for my last three beer recipes and I’ve had a great deal of success with it. On brew day you can print out the “brew steps” page that will provide you with all the information you need to brew your beer. I’m posting the brew steps for all my recipes so you can take a look at them and brew them if you want.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Stout
Margarita Gose
Russian Imperial Stout
Brew Dogs DIY

Beer Smith isn’t free. It does offer a 21-day free trial, and after that I’d say it is well worth the money. If you are interested in it, you can find it here.

There are a number of other Home Brew apps but I don’t have any experience with them. If you use a different one that you like better, keep using it. If it works for you, and you’re getting good beer, keep doing it and let me know about it in the comments!



Craft Beer Events

Hey folks. Wanted to take a moment to write about a few craft beer related events coming up in the immediate and near future.  This won’t be a long post but I hope that people will take advantage of the opportunities to get out and try some new craft beer/support local establishments.

First, tonight (March 31st, 2016) at 7pm, PEG Beer Co. will officially open its doors to the public.

This has been a long time coming and it is so satisfying to see them open their doors.  Almost a year ago I first wrote about the plans behind this brewpub and more recently gave an update on where they are at. With all the delays and all of the hard work put in by the team, to have them open is very exciting indeed.

I hope that this will just be the start and we will be welcoming Barn Hammer, Torque, Oxus Brewing and others over the next year. As I’ve said before, I’ll say again, Winnipeg’s craft beer scene is going to be vastly different next year at this time.

Second, on April 18th at Barley Brothers Stadium, The Parallel 49 Brews Bros Vol. 2 Launch Party is happening

All 12 beers from this collaboration pack will be on tap down at the Stadium location of Barley Brothers (Pembina Highway location).  As this is a launch party for the collaboration pack, it means we will be seeing this 12 pack show up in liquor marts here in Manitoba.  The list price is $29.99 ($5 cheaper than last year) and more details about quantities at Liquor Mart locations will be coming on the Liquor Mart website as we get closer to the date.


If you’re wondering, “what beers are going to be in this 12 pack?” Well, here is your answer:

Axe and Barrel – Paranoid (Oat Wild Pilsner)
Not your typical beer. Start with an Imperial Pilsner recipe, throw in some rice and Sorachi Ace hops, add Sake yeast and Brettanomyces clausenii, and just for good measure put in some oak spirals aged in Chardonnay and Sake. Don’t forget to finish it with lager yeast. Seem too complicated? No comment.
IBU: 68
ABV: 8.5%
Doan Brothers – Thunderstruck (Sticke Alt)
With origins in Northern Germany, this dark cool fermented ale has been turned up to 11 with some chocolate malt notes and a prominent noble dry hop. Continental Pilsner malt ensures a refined and highly drinkable beer that is deceptively strong.
IBU: 43
ABV: 6.0%
Barkerville – Run for the Hills (Golden Strong Ale)
A traditional Golden Strong Ale. Spicy and fruity yeast derived notes add a rush of Belgian character to this golden elixir. A healthy addition of sugar to the pale malt base results in a deceptively light body for a higher alcohol beer.
IBU: 31
ABV: 8.0%
Fernie Ridge – Spirit in the Sky (Havana Club Stout)
Inspired by Export Stouts and rum, the dark crystal malts and touch of molasses serve to remind the drinker of the later. Oak spirals aged in Havana Club 7-year old rum add another level of complexity to this surprisingly smooth drinking dark tawny ale.
IBU: 30
ABV: 6.5%
Bridge – Bat Outta Hell (Dark Helles Bock)
A Helles Bock that would infuriate any German beer traditionalist. A core of Continental pale malts book-ended with a touch of black malt to give it an imposing colour and a hearty dose of Hallertau Blanc hops to add a bright gooseberry aroma. A fruity malty lager that is surprisingly dark.
IBU: 28
ABV: 6.3%
Four Winds – The Boys Are Back in Town (Nectar-Face)
The love-child of Jerkface 9000 and Nectarous we’ve been waiting for. A wheat malt base kettle soured a la Four Winds, and late hopped with Mosaic and Ahtanum hops in the Parallel 49 style. A true marriage of techniques and ingredients results is a pungent dry-hopped sour.
IBU: 12
ABV: 6.0%
Cannery – Gimme Shelter (Apple IPA)
A snakebite inspired beer, using a witbier base fermented with a Saison yeast. Spicy yeast and floral citrus notes sit atop a light apple tinged wheat malt base. Dry hopped with Motueka and Citra because… well… why not?
IBU: 22
ABV: 7.0%
Hearthstone – Sympathy for the Devil (Black I.P.A.)
A rustic and uncomplicated Black IPA. Simcoe hops are made for a beer like this. A moderate malty base, a touch of Roasted Barley flavour, and a restrained ABV make this a beer you’ll be coming back to again and again.
IBU: 52
ABV: 6.5%
Category 12 – Comfortably Numb (Rye Old Ale)
A rich and malty ale with a substantial rye note was fermented with Brettanomyces lambicus to add a cherry funk. This all-malt beer uses earthy hops to balance. This beer doesn’t hide its alcohol or the spicy cherry character that it developed.
IBU: 44
ABV: 8.9%
Moody Ales – Purple Haze (Black Currant Sour)
Playing off of the woodsy resinous flavour of Black Currants, this American sour wheat ale hints at the summer to come. Brace yourself for this tart fruity treat that has perhaps the most stunning colour of any beer we’ve ever seen.
IBU: 8
ABV: 8.0%
Crannog – Suspect Device (Gruit)
A gruit spiced with organic heather flowers, juniper and dry “hopped” with fresh ginger. This mild rye ale focuses on the spicy ginger and juniper, reserving the heather for a background note to support the rich organic Munich malt base. Maybe hops aren’t necessary in every beer.
IBU: 0
ABV: 5.5%
Strange Fellows – People Are Strange (Hoppy Saison)
A classic Saison with a dose of rye malt to throw in some complexity. Taking advantage of the fruity herbal aroma of Opal hops and the spicy pepper notes from the farmhouse yeast. This is sure to be a thirst quencher.
IBU: 32
ABV: 6.5%

This is just the start of the beers that we will be seeing come into Liquor Marts from the 49th Parallel group.

They’ve got Rogue 4 hop coming out later this week and it looks like it might be getting bulletined as one of their new core products.  As well, waiting to come into Manitoba is Phillips Sax (Dark Sour Brown Ale aged on grape musts), Rogue Sriracha Stout, Rogue Brutal IPA as well as a taste of my home town, Picaroon’s Timberhog Stout.  Not sure on the date these will be coming out, so watch the Liquor Marts new listing section.

It also looks like Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries will be doing the Coast to Coaster again and there are a couple of new breweries on board for this event. Fuggles & Warlock from BC as well as a German Pilsner and a French Schwartz Beer.  Keep your eyes open for this.

Finally, for those who homebrew, there is a Pros vs Schmoes competition coming up on May 28th.

This is put on by Grain to Glass and Le Beau Café.  The best of show beer will have their beer brewed at Barnhammer after it opens.  There will be some great prizes and it’s a great opportunity to get your beer judged by certified BJCP judges.  It’s a great way to get some feedback on your homebrew and to have an opportunity to win some great prizes.

Not all beer styles are being judged.  According to the website only the follow styles will be judged:

1(D) American Wheat beer, 10 German wheat beer, 18 Pale American Ale, 19 Amber and brown beer, 20 Porter and stout, 21(B) Specialty IPA, 25(B) Saison, and 34(C) Experimental/other

You can get all the details you need by clicking here.  You can also register by clicking here.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.

-Beer Winnipeg

Winnipeg Brew Bombers


This past week I had the opportunity to attend my second ever Winnipeg Brew Bombers meeting. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the home brewing club, the Winnipeg Brew Bombers have been around for quite some time. Each year they average close to fifty members who have various levels of home brewing experience.  I decided to ask a few questions of their president, Rob Mieth, and do a write up on this really cool club.

Brew Bombers President Rob Mieth

The meetings of the club take place on the second Tuesday of every month and rotate between being hosted at Half Pints or Fort Garry.  The two meetings that I’ve had the fortune of attending have both been at Half Pints.

While having no official mission statement, the goal the Winnipeg Brew Bombers main goal is to make each one of its members a better brewer and to create more awareness about good craft beer. One of the ways this is done is through sharing of knowledge, tasting of homebrew from members and providing feedback, and talking about craft beer and brewing in general.

My first meeting which I attended back in November, I had the opportunity to learn from some of these homebrewers. The conversation at the meeting was all about answering questions members had about a variety of brewing topics. Some of these were surrounding water chemistry, yeast strains, adjuncts, mashing techniques, basically anything members could think of. The more experienced home brewers stepped up and answered the questions. David Rudge, president and head brewer of Half Pints, was also on hand to add his two cents to the answers. This was a great opportunity to learn from those who have the experience and I found a great deal of value in it.

What was really exciting about this meeting was the announced competition. Each year there are typically 1-2 internal competitions held between the brew bomber members as a way of getting some feedback on a particular style of beer or giving people the opportunity to learn about brewing.  The competition announced in November was the “Supermarket Sweep”.

The competition had two main goals:

  1. Brew with someone you’ve never brewed with before
  2. Get ingredients from a non-traditional grocery store and brew with them

It was a great opportunity for me to learn how to brew from a very good and experienced brewery, Mister Jeremy Koop, and to go through the process of creating a recipe and buying some non-traditional brewing ingredients and trying to find a way to make a beer that tastes good.

This competition, getting people to brew with new people and try new things, is one of the most important parts of the brew bombers for Rob: “The friendship and networking aspect of being involved with a group of people who share the same passion for good beer.” For me, brewing with Jeremy was an opportunity to not only make a new friend but also learn from his experience and build my own personal knowledge for brewing.

So that brings us back full circle to the second meeting I attended. This was the one where we all got to share our different beers and see who’s turned out the best.  There was a huge number of people participating, it was actually very impressive. I’d say abouIMG_4834t 16 teams of two which makes up the better part of 3/5ths of the entire club.  There were a
ton of different styles of beers ranging from IPA, Saison, Stout, Winter Warmer, and Lagers.  Each team was required to give a presentation about their beer and this brought out some pretty funny presentations. The atmosphere of the meeting was incredibly friendly.  Great comradery, friendship, and a lot of laughs.  There were some really good beers that came out of this competition including the winner, a Winter Warmer made with Manitoban wild rice.                           IMG_4833

For me, this club provides a unique opportunity to meet with people who are passionate about beer and who work very hard at brewing for the sake of brewing.  There are people of all ages and levels of experience and it’s a great way for a brand new brewer to learn and grow and become better.


For those interested in joining, Rob has a message: “We’d love to have you!”

-Beer Winnipeg


All Brew’d Up

As the last of my Spruce Tree IPA begins to dwindle down it comes time to brew once again.  This is my second batch since getting back into scratch brewing and I wanted to try another style of beer I really like.

Anyone who has followed this blog knows that Peak Organic White IPA got my top pick for the Craft Beer Advent Calendar last year.  I’ve had a number of White IPAs and it is definitely a style that I really enjoy.  I also like to be creative and try things I haven’t had before.  It’s why I got into home brewing, I wanted to try different things out, see what works and what doesn’t, and make beer I want to drink.  So, rather than the tradition orange and coriander combination oft found in White IPAs, I went with lemon and thyme.

I never did get around to posting an update to my Spruce Tree IPA.  It turned out really well.  I was very happy with it and the spruce definitely comes through. I’ve had the opportunity to share it with a number of people who I trust and overall the reception has been good. I do end up with a bit of cold haze in the beer and there are times when the spruce isn’t as strong as I’d like, but overall I am happy with it.  I did make a few of mistakes and I am trying to learn from this time.

First off, I didn’t treat my water.  For those who don’t know chlorine and chloromine are often found in city water.  It’s a way for them to ensure the water clean.  Chlorine boils off during the brew process, but chlormine does not and can interact with the proteins in your wort and make for a funky taste.  I lucked out on my Spruce IPA that I didn’t end up with a noticeable change with this interaction, but this time I treated my water to remove the chloromine.  This should improve this batch of beer.

The second mistake I made was not cold crashing.  I was new to doing this before I picked it back up and something I’ve recently learned is that you want to cool your beer down after the boil as quickly as possible.  This is a cold crash.  It also helps with the cold break to allow the particulate in your wort  to drop to the bottom so you don’t transfer it over to the fermenter resulting in a clearer beer.  As well, dimethyl sulfide is a compound which forms in wort when it is hot.  This is boiled off but if you don’t cool your beer quickly it can form again resulting in off flavours in the finished beer.   Again I was lucky to avoid any significant off flavours, but something I wanted to learn from and made sure I did on this batch.

The third (yes I made three) mistake I made was not considering the hop profiles.  I was so excited to get started I just grabbed a few hops not even considering how they might play with the spruce.  This time around I made sure to consider this and end up using Chinook hops from Prairie Gem Hops.


Overall, I am quite pleased with this batch so far.  It smells really good and I’m hoping that the taste will be there at the end of the day as well.  As I am still new to this, I don’t mash.  So for this recipe I used extract.  I also ended up using pellitized hops for the knockout.


5.25lbs pale malt extract
2.5lbs wheat malt extract

2oz dried chinook hops (Praire Gem, 60 minutes)

5 oz dextrose (30 minutes)
whirfloc tab (30 minutes)

1/2 oz dried lemon peel (5 minutes)
1 oz fresh thyme (5 minutes)

Centennial (knock-out)
Willamette (knock-out)

wyeast 3787 (High gravity trappist yeast)

Now I just play the waiting game.  I’ll let you know how this one turns out.

-Beer Winnipeg

Summer Time – Brew Time

Well, I’ve been pretty terrible.  With May and June being absolutely crazy at work and having to also try to fit in time working on my Master’s Thesis, I’ve neglected this blog far too much.  I’m sorry.  I have more free time now so I will try to get back into the groove.  That begins today.

With this free time I’ve decided to try my hand once more at home brewing.  One of my favorite beers I’ve had was a Spruce IPA that was put out by Half Pints a couple of years back.  It was tasty and I really loved the spruce.  It also happens that Picaroon’s does a “Christmas tree IPA” which is very similar.  So, I decided to try my hand at this.

The recipe I used is as follows:

2kg light malt extract
1lb Crystal Grain
2lb Two Row Pale grain
1 oz Nothern Brewer hops (bittering)
1 oz Cascade Hops (flavouring)
1/2 oz Williamette Hops (flavouring)
1/2 oz Goldings hops (finishing)
1/2 oz Godlings hops (dry hopping)
1/2 oz Williamette Hops (dry hopping)
American Ale yeast
1 1/2 cups of fresh spruce tips – Added with bittering hops at beginning of boil.

File 2015-07-13, 1 38 32 PM

So far everything is coming along nicely.  I’ve got it in the secondary to allow for some clarifying and aging as well as the dry-hop part of the process.  I ended up with less than I expected.  Using a new pale I must have mis-measured and have 20 litres instead of 23.  Will see what impact that has.  You learn from your mistakes and I’ve certainly made sure I will not do that again.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.  It’s been quite a long time since I’ve brewed from scratch and I’m excited to getting back into it.  I’ve already started working on the recipe for my next beer,

Make Beer and Wine in Store

One of the most difficult parts of brewing beer and wine, even from a kit, is having the time, space and the materials to do so.  Well, those people are in luck!

The Manitoba Government has announced that the Liquor and Gaming authority will now be able to authorize businesses to allow brewing on site!  What does this mean?  It means that places like Brewers Direct, Grape and Grain, and Wine Sense, will be able to provide space for home brewers to mix, ferment, and bottle their kit of choice on site.

According to the Backgrounder “In-store brewing facilities provide customers with the ingredients, instructional advice, and equipment to produce wine and beer for off-site personal consumption in private locations. Customers purchase ingredients on-site, mix their wine or beer, and leave it on the premises for fermentation. After a period of time, customers return to bottle their wine or beer and remove the product from the site.

Anyone who has ever made wine or beer, especially beer from scratch, at home knows that there is more to it than mixing, fermenting and bottling.  There are steps that must be followed along the way.

It is still unclear whether the site will be responsible for racking the beer from primary to secondary fermenter, whether their will be the ability to create a beer wort from scratch on site, or if this will essentially be a full service enterprise where it really will be an “add the yeast and bottle” type process.

At present the government has indicated in their backgrounder that a number of exisiting businesses that sell kits have indicated their interest to provide this service.  They have also recognized the new business potential of such an endeavour.  The government has begun looking at best practices from other jurisdicitions and developing regulations and guidelines to be put in place.

The final regulations are expected to be in place by Spring of 2015 according to Minister Chomiak, at which point business will be able to apply for special authorization to allow on-site brewing.  The Minister did say that the business would need to also meet “federal and municipal regulations” and that it will be based on “training and inspection“.

What is certain is that this initiative opens the doors to a variety of business models where, perhaps, some enterprising home brewer might open a place where you can, with advice and materials, create your very own beer from scratch and learn the ins and outs of full scale home brewing.

-Beer Winnipeg