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  1. Shawn Hargreaves

    What I learned about brewing with spruce

    Inspired by the Alaskan Winter Seasonal, I wanted to try brewing a spruce flavored beer. After much online research, I discovered a surprising lack of good information about this. Much of what info does exist is contradictory, hearsay from people who never actually tried it, or reports of failed...
  2. Shawn Hargreaves

    Anyone ever tried WLP029 for a barleywine?

    I'm planning a big barleywine brew, and currently have a Kolsch on the go using WLP029. I know this isn't a typical high gravity yeast, but have used it for a range of low to medium gravity styles recently with great results, so I'm curious how high it can go? (plus seems a shame to waste the...
  3. Shawn Hargreaves

    How often do you need to rack?

    I'm a fairly experienced beer brewer, currently attempting my first batch of mead, and am wondering how long I can reasonably leave the mead without racking? Where I'm at: - Racked to a second carboy after ~1 month - After two months, gravity was at 1.022 - Yesterday, three months in...
  4. Shawn Hargreaves

    Dark Wit / Porter hybrid

    I find myself intrigued by the idea of making a hybrid Wit / Porter, or to put this another way, a dark colored Wit that includes some roastey malts. Anyone ever tried anything like this, or care to offer any advice before I try it out? Here's what I'm planning right now (partial mash)...
  5. Shawn Hargreaves

    Protein rest = efficiency boost

    I brewed my Wit again yesterday, but included a protein rest (20 minutes at 122 degrees, then 45 mins at 154), where in the past I've just done a single 60 minute infusion. I normally get between 70% and 75% efficiency, but this time I got 83%!
  6. Shawn Hargreaves

    Belgian Mild

    I want to grow up some WLP500 so I can pitch a Dubbel onto the yeast cake. I'm thinking of brewing an English style Mild as my starter beer, but using the Belgian yeast: OG: 1.035 FG: 1.008 3.43% ABV 14.7 IBU 19.4 SRM 5 lb Maris Otter (74%) 1 lb Crystal...
  7. Shawn Hargreaves

    Why does protein rest affect saccharification times?

    When I look at the kind of mash schedules people are typically using, I mostly see single infusion mashes at 154 degrees taking around 60 minutes. But when people include a protein rest, the saccrification step usually goes down to just 45 or even 30 minutes. For instance I see a lot of...
  8. Shawn Hargreaves

    How much grains of paradise for a wit?

    My wit recipe uses a tablespoon of crushed black pepper in addition to the usual coriander and orange peel. This time, though, I want to try using grains of paradise instead. But I'm wondering how much is appropriate? I've seen people talking about anywhere from a half teaspoon up to 5 or even...
  9. Shawn Hargreaves

    Bubbles in hydrometer sample

    My Kolsch has been in primary for 4 weeks now (fermented with WLP029) at 62 degrees) and the gravity has been steady at 1.008 for the last week. But when I took my most recent hydrometer sample, it was full of bubbles! The hydrometer was covered in them, and so many new ones were forming that...
  10. Shawn Hargreaves

    How much sugar for a Dubbel?

    I'm working on a partial mash Dubbel recipe, and unsure how much sugar I should include. Here's what I have so far: OG: 1.069 IBU: 22.7 SRM: 31.8 2.0 lb Pilsner 1.0 lb Munich 0.5 lb Caramunich 0.5 lb Aromatic 0.5 lb Special B 1.0 lb Candi Sugar, Dark 0.5 lb Table Sugar 4.0 lb Extra Light Dry...
  11. Shawn Hargreaves

    Seattle water chemistry

    So far I have entirely ignored issues of water chemistry, and been happy with my results. But as part of my ongoing quest for knowledge, I find myself wondering, maybe I could do better if I stopped ignoring this? So I read John Palmer's excellent overview of the subject from How to Brew. And I...
  12. Shawn Hargreaves

    "First steep" hopping?

    The other day I was discussing first wort hopping with a friend who is a new brewer, currently doing extract with steeping grains, and is a big time hophead. I repeated what I've read elsewhere, that first wort hopping is obviously only possible for partial mash or AG brews, since you need a...
  13. Shawn Hargreaves

    I relaxed and I didn't worry!

    I just realized that my most recent brew marks a milestone: the first time in 3 years of brewing I have not worried about a single thing the entire way through the process. My first couple of beers were full of worry: First time around, I worried that my basement would be too cold, because...
  14. Shawn Hargreaves

    Recipe feedback: Decoction Bitter

    I've been wanting to try a decoction mash for a while, and am thinking of using it on a partial mash ESB recipe. I know this isn't a traditional English technique, but I like my bitters with a big fat malty backbone and figure this might be a good way to achieve that. Here's what I have so...
  15. Shawn Hargreaves

    Bottle fillers are awesome!

    Crazy that I never tried using a bottle filler before today... I've spent a ton of time tuning my mashing technique, but for some reason never really thought about how I bottled, so I always just went with a siphon out of a bucket and straight into the bottle, the same way I did on my very...
  16. Shawn Hargreaves

    Differences between malt extract brands

    I'm surprised I haven't been able to find more information about how various brands of malt extract compare against one another. As a partial mash brewer, I typically use around 3 lb light DME per 5 gallon batch. So far I've generally used Breiss, just because that is what my LHBS has in...
  17. Shawn Hargreaves

    Honest Oatmeal Stout

    I split this brew into a small partial mash plus a separate set of steeped grains, partly because I'm not set up to mash so much grain in one go, and also because I was worried about the high proportion of dark grains messing with my mash pH. A couple of weeks before brew day, I toasted the...
  18. Shawn Hargreaves

    Bad Cat Delicious (Saison)

    Mash: 2.50 lb Munich Malt 1.00 lb Wheat Malt 0.25 lb Acid Malt One hour at 150 degrees, then mash out and sparge at 168. 60 minute boil: 1 lb Jaggery (late addition at 30 minutes) 4 lb Light Dry Extract (late addition @ 10 minutes) 0.5 oz Northern Brewer pellets [7.40 %] (60 min) 0.5 oz...
  19. Shawn Hargreaves

    Vienna/Munich diastatic power

    I've been doing partial mashes with a couple of pounds of 2 row, some Vienna or Munich, and a handful of specialty malts (biscuit, aromatic, etc, depending on my mood). I find myself on a quest to push the quantity of Vienna/Munich as high as it can go. But my current setup can only fit 4...
  20. Shawn Hargreaves

    In praise of the partial mash

    I've been brewing for nearly three years now: one year with just extract and steeping grains, and since then using partial mashes. I'm pretty happy with my technique, so I thought I would write it up here in the hopes that it might persuade some other extract brewers to take the plunge and try...