Alta California Lager 2022

I brew this recipe nearly every year, with only minor variations–usually in yeast or corn form. The 2022 version is another winner! I rolled it out with Diamond Lager Yeast for something a shade different.

Alta California Lager 2022

  • 6.5 lb. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 2 lb. flaked corn
  • 1.75 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.25 lb. rice hulls
  • 0.5 oz. Magnum hop pellets (10.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. BruTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Saaz hop pellets (4.0% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. yeast nutrient (WLN1000), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Diamond Lager Yeast (Lallemand)

Target Parameters

  • 1.046 s.g., 1.010 f.g., 4.8% abv, 19 IBU, 3 SRM
  • 8.75 gallons of RO water with 1.7 g CaCl to hit target parameter of 14 ppm Ca and 25 ppm Cl
  • 75 minute full volume infusion mash, 149°


  • I mashed in with 8.75 gallons of RO water and 1.7 g of CaCl, heated to 160°, to hit a mash temperature of 149°. I added 2.5 mL of 88% lactic acid, to adjust the pH.
  • I recirculated for 75 minutes, and then raised the mash temperature to 168° for 10 minutes, before pulling the grains.
  • In total, I collected 7.6 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.037, for 76% estimated mash efficiency.
  • I boiled the runnings for 30 minutes before adding hops, to bring up the gravity for a bit.
  • Once the Magnum hops were added, I boiled for 60 minutes total, adding aroma hops and finings per the recipe.
  • I did an initial chill with my coil, and then dropped it the rest of the way in the fermentation chamber to 48°, overnight.
  • I pitched the yeast on 24 April 2022, and fermented at 52°.
  • Starting gravity was 1.049.
  • I raised the temperature to 60°on May 6.
  • I cold crashed over a few days starting on May 10, dropping to 50°, 40°, and then 33°.
  • I kegged the beer on 15 May 2022. It had a final gravity of 1.010, for 5.1% abv.


  • Appearance
    • Light gold color, slight haze, creamy and persistent white head. The haze had dropped out, but when I moved the keg between houses, it must have kicked up a bunch of sediment, because even after a week it was still hazier than two weeks prior. Very annoying! The head is gorgeous, so that makes up a little bit for the haze. After another month of settling, the beer was back to its crystal clear original nature.
  • Aroma
    • Amazing! A sweet and light corn aroma comes through at the front, with a touch of malt behind that. I think I might get a whiff of the Saaz character, but that is highly variable.
  • Flavor
    • A moderate level of nuanced malty flavor through at first, with the sweet hint of corn sitting next to that. A clean bitterness balances out the malt, with a smooth and unobtrusive character. The malt really shines here, making it a highly drinkable beer that is a bit more flavorful than your typical Corona.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, smooth and a very slight bit of dryness to the finish.
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • This is consistently one of my very favorite recipes…or rather recipe families. It is slightly different every time, in terms of the brand of malt, mode of corn, and yeast involved. The Diamond lager yeast worked exceptionally well here, and I will probably keep that going forward (unless I choose a bona fide Mexican lager yeast). I suspect the flaked corn contributed to the persistent haze; my original cereal-mashed version was crystal clear. Or maybe it just needs a little more time to settle. Either way, I love this beer–the slight haze is my only minor gripe, and it did drop out in the end.
  • Overall
    • 9.5/10

Big Hop Summer IPA

Although many of my IPAs have been on the session side, I do try to make a full strength version every once in awhile. In this recipe, I aimed for something highly drinkable and packed with hop flavor. Towards the first item, I mashed low and added some dextrose to keep things light. Towards the second end, I looped in some HOPBOX finds–Azacca, HBC 586, and Idaho Gem. Finally, I wanted to experiment with Lutra, a kveik strain that has a reputation of a quick and clean fermentation. It’s a bit of a kitchen sink beer, in order to use up some grains and hops, but it’s all with a purpose.

Big Hop Summer IPA

  • 5.25 lb. Golden Promise malt (Simpsons)
  • 5.25 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
  • 1.75 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.25 lb. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.75 lb. dextrose (added to boil)
  • 0.75 oz. Bravo hop pellets (14.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Azacca hop pellets (12.7% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. HBC 586 hop pellets (11.8% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. Idaho Gem hop pellets (14.2% alpa), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 1 pkg. Lutra kveik (dry), Omega OYL-071
  • 1 oz. Azacca hop pellets (12.7% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. HBC 586 hop pellets (11.8% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Idaho Gem hop pellets (14.2% alpa), dry hop in keg


  • Appearance
    • The beer pours as a hazy gold, with a persistent white head that leaves nice lacing down the side of the glass over time. I am surprised that the haze hasn’t dropped out, even after two months in the keg at temperatures below 40 degrees.
  • Aroma
    • Orange peel aroma at the front; very citrusy character overall.
  • Flavor
    • The balance is tipped towards the hops (no surprise), with a very citrusy and resin character. I also pick up a bit of stone fruit, which might be from the hops or perhaps from the yeast. There is a little bit of a “twang” of something somewhere in the background, which I suspect is from the yeast but I can’t be 100 percent certain. Even though Lutra is supposed to ferment clean, I’ve seen remarks that it is still a farmhouse-type strain, and they remain a bit rustic. As the beer sits on the tongue, I wonder if some of it is some citrus pith character. In any case, there is something that detracts a little bit from complete enjoyment of the beer by my tastes, but it’s not overwhelming, and it isn’t totally out of character for this kind of beer. The malt is in the background, as it should be, but provides a nice bit of body and a touch of malty flavor to balance against the hop bitterness.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body, with moderate carbonation and a dry finish. It goes down super easy.
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • I like the beer overall, but I might switch up the hop varieties. I tried Azacca years ago, it didn’t overwhelm me with awesome then, and I had a similar experience this time around. I think it’s just not a hop that does much for me. I’m surprised by how persistently hazy the beer has been, even after two months in the keg; the haze doesn’t terribly detract from the beer, but it’s just a bit more haze than I expected. Those remarks aside, this is a very drinkable beer, especially for something that clocks in at 6.7% abv. The combination of low mash temperature and dextrose addition likely contributed to keeping things on the lighter side.
  • Overall
    • 7.5/10

2022 Orange Summer Wheat Ale

This was a quick brew to serve at a homebrew festival…I roughly followed past recipes, and used zest from 5 Valencia oranges soaked in 4 oz. of vodka for the orange flavoring (added at kegging). It was my first brew back on my batch sparge system (while my Anvil Foundry was temporarily down). I had some major efficiency issues–I suspect maybe a poor crush for the grains–and thus had to improvise heavily with extract. The brew definitely didn’t go as planned, but at least it got done. My subsequent brews in the old mash tun went much better, thank goodness, and now I’m back on the Foundry!

2022 Orange Summer Wheat Ale

  • 6.5 lb. red wheat malt
  • 3.25 lb. 2-row pale malt
  • 6 oz. Viking dextrin malt
  • 8 oz. rice hulls
  • 0.8 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. WLN1000 yeast nutrient (White Labs)
  • 1 pkg. German Ale Yeast (SafAle K97)

Target Parameters

  • 1.043 s.g., 1.011 f.g., 4.3% abv, 21 IBU, 4 SRM
  • Full volume mash, no sparge, 152°
  • Claremont tap water, Campden tablet added to remove chloramines


  • I added 8 gallons of water to the mash tun, letting it settle to 157° before adding the grains and 8 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust pH. The mash settled around 152° initially, and I let it sit for 75 minutes before vorlaufing and collecting the runnings.
  • In total, I collected 6.3 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.027, for barely 45% mash efficiency. This is some of the worst efficiency I have ever had, and I’m not sure why. I suspect either I had a poor crush with the high volume of wheat malt, or perhaps the wheat malt didn’t have the enzyme potential expected (which doesn’t make complete sense to me), or some other factor. In any case, I had to improvise major-time and add 1.5 lb. of extra light Briess DME to bring the gravity into a tolerable range.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, boiling for 60 minutes and adding hops and finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and chilled down to ~70° before transferring to the fermenter.
  • I brewed this beer on 10 April 2022. Starting gravity was 1.044. Once I pitched the yeast, I fermented at ~65°.
  • Prior to brew day, I zested 5 fresh-picked Valencia oranges and put the rind into a 4 oz. bottle topped up with vodka. On kegging day, I strained out the zest.
  • I kegged the beer on 23 April 2022, and added the orange tincture at that point.
  • Final gravity was 1.010, for 4.5% abv.
  • I force carbonated, and it was served at a beer festival on April 30. I couldn’t attend, and got the keg back. Two weeks later, I transferred to a pinlock keg for serving. I didn’t have my usual ball lock quick disconnect handy, so I had to do the less-than-desirable task of transferring directly into the keg and then purging it with CO2 via the pressure relief valve.


  • Appearance
    • The beer is cloudy and a sort of muddy reddish orange color. The head is white and persistent.
  • Aroma
    • A fairly pleasant orange and orange blossom aroma is prominent, but not much else.
  • Flavor
    • Orange and doughy malt flavors, with a moderate level of bitterness.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Light body, moderate carbonation, dry finish. There is a somewhat unpleasant astringency on the finish.
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • This was a very disappointing version of my normally likable orange wheat ale. The orange character is nice, and K97 is an awesome American wheat ale yeast, but the astringency and muddy coloration keep this from being a winner. So many things went sideways on this brew that I have no doubt my next iteration will be far superior. All blame goes to technique flaws, not the recipe itself. This batch is not a complete dumper, but it comes very close.
  • Overall
    • 3/10

Spring Classic IPA

I just love the “traditional” northwestern IPAs, as mentioned numerous times before on this blog. So many breweries focus on the tropical fruit profiles, which I also love, but sometimes I just want pine and citrus and dank flavors in my IPA.

This latest batch doesn’t follow any particular recipes; I’m just aiming for a bit of interesting base malt character with a touch of crystal malt. So, I leaned on the two-row for about three-quarters of the grist, along with a bit of Golden Promise for interest, some crystal 40, and a bit of biscuit. The latter two used up my supplies, so it was good housecleaning.

The hopping was traditional with a twist. A recent HOPBOX had some of their hop extract, enough to add about 47 IBU. According to their website, it’s mostly CTZ-type hops with some other semi-random aroma varieties. That sounded like a perfect bittering base for my beer, and I have also wanted to try out some of these hop extracts for awhile. I elected to put the rest of my hops all in the whirlpool and dry hop additions. In this case, Amarillo, Centennial, and Cascade were perfect choices.

This batch was brewed while my Foundry was down for repairs, so I used the “traditional” batch sparge technique. I’m glad to say I still have the skills here, and hit my numbers really closely.

Spring Classic IPA

  • 10 lb. 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
  • 3 lb. Golden Promise Finest Pale Ale malt (Simpsons)
  • 9 oz. 40L caramel malt (Briess)
  • 4 oz. biscuit malt (BlackSwaen)
  • 10 mL Yakima Valley Hops CO2 hop extract (48.91% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7.8% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. Cascade hop pellets (8.7% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (12.5% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 2 pkg. American West Coast Ale dry yeast (Lallemand BRY-97)
  • 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7.8% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Cascade hop pellets (8.7% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (12.5% alpha), dry hop in keg

Target Parameters

  • 1.059 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 6.5% abv, 69 IBU, 7 SRM
  • Infusion mash to hit target of 148°, 60 minutes, batch sparge
  • Claremont tap water with gypsum added to to achieve 79 ppm Ca, 6 ppm Mg, 91 ppm Na, 172 ppm SO4, 85 ppm Cl, 144 ppm HCO3, 118 ppm alkalinity, 58 ppm RA


  • I heated 4.6 gallons of water (with Campden tablet) to 159°, and mashed in with my grains to hit 149°. I added 6 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust the pH. I mashed for 60 minutes before adding 0.75 gallons of 185° water. I let it rest, vorlaufed, and then collected the first runnings. Next I added 3.75 gallons of water at 185°, let it rest at around 170° for 10 minutes, and then collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7.6 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.050, for 75% mash efficiency.
  • While the kettle was coming up to a boil, I soaked the hop extract in hot tap water, in order to make it easier to add. That certainly did the trick!
  • I added 6 g of gypsum to the boil, to hit my water target.
  • Once the kettle was boiling, I added the hop extract and then added other items per the recipe.
  • After a 60 minute boil, I turned off the flame, added the whirlpool hops, and let it rest (with occasional stirring) for 15 minutes before chilling.
  • I transferred the wort to my fermenter and chilled it down to 66° before pitching the yeast.
  • I brewed this beer on 15 April 2022, and fermented it at 66°. Starting gravity was 1.059, right on target.
  • I moved the beer to ambient on 24 April 2022, and kegged it on 4 May 2022. I added the drop hops at this point, with a mesh bag inside the keg.
  • The final gravity was 1.011, for 6.4% abv. I’m very pleased on how closely I hit my numbers overall!


  • Appearance
    • Pours as a golden, somewhat hazy beer, with a creamy white head that is very persistent. The head leaves gorgeous lacing down the sides of the glass.
  • Aroma
    • Orange and overall citrus notes, with a slight malty background. The yeast character is quite clean.
  • Flavor
    • A citrus, citrus pith, pine, and resiny hop bitterness at the front, with a clean malty presence and a light bit of candy behind that. The hop character has that “sticky” quality on the tongue that I really adore in a good traditional American IPA.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium body, with moderate carbonation and a dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • I feel like I’ve gotten my “traditional” West Coast IPAs down pretty well now. I know the hops and hop combos I like, and have found that perfect balance of crystal malt and base malt. I also have a few variations on recipes that work well. It definitely has a “hop haze,” which I suppose dings it a little bit in terms of my overall score, but I also expect that should be cleared out by the end of the keg. BRY-97 is my favorite IPA yeast now, too! Another thing I love about this beer is that I perceive it just a little differently every time I sample it. Sometimes the pine hits me, sometimes the orange, sometimes the resin.
  • Overall
    • 9/10

What’s Brewing? April/May 2024

Because this is an incredibly busy time of year in the non-beer part of my life, April slid past and now we’re a good chunk of the way into May. So, I’ve got a combined post this time around.

Beer Batch Updates

  • I have kegged my Belgian pale ale, and it won both the brew club competition as well as the Southern California Homebrew Festival bragging rights competition! My personal assessment was that it was a decent beer, but not fantastic. But, I guess I was wrong.
  • I brewed and kegged a version of my orange wheat ale, to go to the SoCal Homebrew Festival. It’s not my best iteration, but it will do. Because my Anvil Foundry was down for a month or so (see below), I went back to a standard mash with batch sparge. Something went sideways–mismeasure of grain mass, maybe?–and I only got 50% mash efficiency.
  • I brewed and kegged an American IPA, focusing on a more traditional piney/citrusy profile. I used Centennial, Cascade, and Amarillo hops to reach this goal.
  • I brewed the 2022 iteration of Alta California Lager on 24 April, and it is now in the final stages of fermentation before cold crashing.
  • I brewed a Scottish 70/- Heavy on 7 May, in order to have a flavorful but lower alcohol beer on-hand. I’m letting it ferment out at ambient temperature (around 66 to 68° in the garage), which is perhaps taking a small chance but I also think it’s a recipe that will benefit from a fruitier yeast character. I used US-05, so any fruitiness will probably be fairly restrained.
Photo by Lukas on

What’s On Tap?

  • My Pre-Prohibition Lager is on tap, and wow is it delicious. It’s exactly the beer I wanted to bridge into the warm days of spring! I’m going to be sad when it’s finished.
  • My American IPA is on tap, and it’s a bit young yet but will come into its own as it settles out. The flavor is awesome (a classic late 1990s West Coast IPA), but the yeast haven’t dropped completely clear yet, so it’s a bit on the hazy side. It’s got a great flavor of citrus and resin and pine.
  • I am moving my orange wheat ale on-tap soon, to fill the vacancy left after my altbier keg kicked.

What’s Coming Up?

  • I’m thinking about another IPA, something to highlight the tropical-type hops that I’ve been getting in my HOPBOXes. The draft version I’ve got uses Azacca, HBC 586, and Idaho Gem…I’m not sure if I’ll stay in that space, but it seems like a start.
  • I’m also looking at a German pils, using 100% Barke Pilsner malt, and Saphir+Hallertauer Mittelfrueh for the hops.
  • It feels like another beer should happen before some big events this summer (fieldwork, travel, and a house move), but I haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe a dark or amber lager?

Other News

  • Back in March, I had some issues with my (otherwise beloved) Anvil Foundry. It turned out to be a bum power switch…after a bit of back-and-forth with their tech support and a new switch+wire, I am back in business! Even though I am past warranty, I really appreciate that they covered this replacement.
  • After about five months of fermentation, my beer vinegar (made from my weissbier) was ready to go. It had some amazing vinegar mother action (see image below). The flavor is exceptional, just like malt vinegar that you would put on fish and chips. I used it to spritz a pork shoulder during an extended smoke, and the flavors blended really nicely. I can’t wait to try another batch!