Schoepshead Pale Schöps

For our April style competition, my homebrew club decided to try a Breslau-Style Pale Schöps. I had never heard of this until my club president brought this up as an option, and a bit of searching online finds virtually nothing. This is a historical style, native to the area of Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland). The Brewer’s Association added it to their style guide for the GABF a few years back, which I can only imagine must have been a special favor for someone, because there just ain’t any commercial examples out there now.

In any case, I only found a handful of recipes online, and many (all?) of these were by people asking, “So, I made up this recipe and does it look plausible…” This meant I decided to just use what I’ve learned over the years, and try and put my own recipe together.

From what I read about the style, it should be mostly wheat malt in the grist (up to 80%), with a bready flavor and aroma aspect and a full body. Although this is a wheat ale, it wasn’t supposed to have German wheat ale yeast–instead, a fruity character was described, without phenols. Hops are in the background on this, too.

With all of this information, I put together a grain bill that was mostly wheat malt (~70%), backed up by equal parts pilsner and biscuit malt. I elected to go with a German ale yeast, the classic WLP029. For my grains, I wanted to go with European malts, choosing those from Viking because at least some are sourced from Poland. This seemed appropriate for the brew! I had no idea if I would like this batch or not, so I aimed for 3 gallons instead of the full 5.

The name is a German-ish (highly inauthentic and untranslatable) pun on “Sheep’s Head,” just because I thought it sounded funny and vaguely like the word “Schöps.”

Schoepshead Pale Schöps

  • 6 lb. wheat malt (Viking)
  • 1 lb. biscuit malt (Dingemans)
  • 1 lb. pilsner malt (Viking)
  • 1 lb. rice hulls
  • 2 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (2.7% alpha), 35 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fremax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. German Ale/Kolsch yeast (White Labs, WLP029)

Target Parameters

  • 60 minute infusion mash, 153°, batch sparge
  • 1.065 o.g., 1.016 f.g., 6.6% abv, 24 IBU, 8 SRM
  • Claremont tap water


  • 48 hours in advance, I made a 0.65L starter with the yeast, and cold crashed for 24 hours.
  • I mashed in with 3.25 gallons of water at 165°, to hit a 154° mash temperature. I let this sit for 60 minutes, and it was down to 151° by the end. I added 0.3 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected first runnings.
  • Then, I added 2.25 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 4.3 gallons of runnings at a gravity of 1.047. This was only 67% efficiency; it put me well below my target (1.053), but it’s not a surprise given the large amount of wheat in the bill.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and yeast nutrient per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I chilled the wort and transferred to the fermenter.
  • I brewed this beer on March 30, with a starting gravity of 1.060. I fermented the beer a 68°, and gravity was down to 1.014 by 2 April. On 9 April, gravity was 1.010. I kegged the beer at this point; it had reached 6.6% abv.


  • Aroma
    • Very bready, with a slight fruitiness behind that. No hop aroma.
  • Appearance
    • Persistent white and very fine head. Beer itself is copper color, with a decent amount of haze.
  • Flavor
    • Lightly fruity on the front, with a nice rounded bready, malty flavor behind that. Hop bitterness is medium-low, with a nice smooth finish.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Great body on this, with moderately high carbonation. The finish is nice and extended, pleasantly balancing the malt and hops.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a really nice beer! I could see myself brewing this recipe again….I wasn’t sure how I’d like this, and it has turned into a pretty enjoyable brew. The flavor is really nice, and it’s a highly drinkable style for its level of alcohol. It’s a great bridge between the beers of winter and the beers of summer. I can’t say there’s anything I’d really change, either to keep it more to style or to make it more to my palate.
  • Overall
    • 10/10

And…the beer won first place in our club competition!

Olde Persica Porter

I’m getting that itch again, to brew with new styles and new ingredients. With winter on the horizon, I want to stock up on some beers that will serve well on a chilly night next to the fire. I also recently realized I haven’t brewed with smoked malt before. So, a smoked porter seemed like just the thing to try.

In assembling the recipe, I drew heavily upon an Alaskan Smoked Porter clone from the American Homebrewers Association website. This was augmented with a Smoked Robust Porter recipe, also from AHA. Because I wanted this to be a fairly rich base porter that would stand up to the smoke, I elected to go with Vienna malt for the majority of the grist. Conveniently, I also have a decent bit still in stock. To add an American emphasis, I’m going to use whole Cascade hops from South Dakota as the bittering hops, with a charge of Willamette at the very end.

Once I got to the homebrew shop, I discovered that they had several different kinds of smoked malt in stock. I had been planning on using a beechwood-smoked rauch malt, but the owners suggested trying a peachwood-smoked malt instead. I was intrigued!

The malt itself is from Copper Fox Distillery, a Virginia-based operation that specializes in small-batch whiskeys and such. They have also started a brew malt operation, with a handful of products. Because the maltster is so new and so small, it is very difficult to find any specific information on the malts. Their website didn’t have any real information, but Southern Hills Homebrew Supply did. I also learned a bit in chatting with a local person who is helping to distribute Copper Fox malts in California. The bottom line is that this is a floor malted, smoked 2-row barley malt. The aroma and flavor profile are supposed to be a bit gentler than in traditional beechwood-smoked malt. Based on what I tasted and smelled during the brew, this very much seems to be the case. The aroma is delightfully aromatic and smoky, but the flavor in the wort is not at all overpowering.

As for the name of this recipe? Well, because I am using peach wood malt, I wanted to honor peaches. The scientific name for a peach is Prunus persica, reflecting its close kinship with plums (and thus prunes) as well as the fact that domesticated peaches entered Europe via Persia. However, peaches themselves have a deeper origin in China; the oldest fossil peaches clock in at around 2.6 million years old. As a frame of reference, our genus Homo was just getting started around that time, and the modern Homo sapiens was still 2.4 million years away!

Olde Persica Porter, just into the primary fermenter

Olde Persica Porter, just into the primary fermenter

Olde Persica Porter

  • 7 lbs. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
  • 3 lbs. peach wood smoked 2-row malt (Copper Fox Distillery)
  • 1 lb. 80° crystal malt
  • 1 lb. 40° crystal malt
  • 0.5 lb. black (patent) malt
  • 0.5 lb. chocolate malt
  • 2 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Willamette hop pellet (4.1% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Willamette hop pellet (4.1% alpha), 1 minute boil and 5 minute steep after flame-out
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 0.25 yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • White Labs California Ale yeast (WLP001)

Target Parameters

  • 1.065 o.g., 1.017 f.g., 6.3% abv, 37 IBU, 36 SRM, 5.5 gallons into the fermenter


  • Five days before brewing, I made a 2L starter. After two days, I split the starter (to create a yeast culture with 100 billion cells for later), and cold crashed the remainder in the flask for pitching on brew day.
  • I mashed in with 4.3 gallons of water at 166.7°, to hit a mash temperature of 154.5°. After 60 minutes, the mash was down to 151°. At this point, I added 0.75 gallons of water at 165°, to raise the mash to 152°.
  • I let the mash rest for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. I then added 3.5 gallons of water at 175°, let everything sit for 10 minutes, and then collected the second runnings.
  • Altogether, I collected 6.75 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.054, for a mash efficiency of 77%.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, and added hops and other stuff per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled the wort to 80°. Our groundwater is still too warm to get much below that!
  • Starting gravity is 1.060. This is a bit below my target (1.065), most likely because I didn’t have the boil as vigorous as it usually is. I pitched the yeast, and will be fermenting at 68°.
  • This beer was brewed on 22 October 2016, with vigorous fermentation underway within 24 hours.

Vienna Brown Ale

viennaMany of my recent brews have explored styles that are new to me–saison, Bohemian pilsner, witbier, and altbier, to name a few. This has been a ton of fun (and produced some tasty results), and I am ever-searching for new ways to expand my brewing repertoire further. For the next round of exploration, I want to really delve into Vienna malt. My standard base malt has been American 2-row, and last winter I spent a bit of time playing with Maris Otter too. I’ve certainly brewed with Vienna malt as a minor ingredient, but still don’t feel like I have a good handle on its flavor characteristics. Time to change that!

Descriptors for Vienna malt are typically vague–phrases like “full-bodied” and “golden colored” don’t really tell me much about the flavor itself. “Toast” and “biscuit” aromas are also supposed to be present. I’m not yet confident what this means within this particular malt, so I need to find out firsthand.

Thus, I recently purchased a 55 pound bag of Weyermann Vienna Malt from my local homebrew shop. I plan to do a whole series of brews with it during the rest of 2016. First up is a brown ale, then an IPA, and after that a classic Vienna lager (because it would be a shame not to!).

My brown ale recipe for this time around is fairly simple, veering towards the malty side (which I like in a brown ale). I have a good feel for what the various crystal and chocolate malts taste like, so this batch makes a solid first chance to get my brain cells around the overall properties of Vienna malt.

Vienna Brown Ale

  • 9.5 lbs. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.5 lb. chocolate malt (Briess)
  • 0.25 lb. crystal 40 malt
  • 0.15 lb. de-bittered black malt (Dingemans)
  • 0.5 oz. Nugget hops pellets (13% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tablet Whirlfloc, 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Nottingham dry yeast (Danstar)

Target Parameters

  • 1.051 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 5.1% abv, 24 IBU, 23 SRM, 5.5 gallons into the fermenter


  • I mashed in with 4.1 gallons of water at 163°, to hit 154°. This was down to 151° after 45 minutes. After 60 minutes, I added 1 gallon of water at 190°, to hit a mash temperature of 155°. I waited 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected 3.3 gallons of first runnings. Then, I added 3.7 gallons of water at 182°, to hit 166°. After 10 minutes, I vorlaufed and drained the mash tun.
  • In total, I collected 7.1 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.039, for 71% efficiency.
  • I boiled the wort for 60 minutes, adding hops and Whirlfloc per the schedule. The wort had boiled down to around 6.25 gallons (unchilled) by the end of the time.
  • After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and chilled the wort to 80°. I transferred the wort into the fermenter (5.5 gallons total), and pitched the dry yeast directly. I sealed up the fermenter, and will begin fermentation at 68°.
  • Starting gravity was 1.048, slightly below my target of 1.051. I brewed this batch on 20 August 2016.

Vitamin K Kölsch Clone

Magnum hops, locked and loaded
Magnum hops pellets, locked and loaded for this recipe.

As we inch closer and closer to the southern California version of spring, it’s time to wind down the “winter beers”, and start gearing up for some spring and summer brews. A kölsch seems like a good start for this. After thumbing through back issues of Brew Your Own, I found a recipe that is just the ticket. Vitamin K Kölsch Clone is a recipe mirroring a beer from Thunder Island Brewing Company, featured in the May/June 2014 issue of BYO. My adaptation of the recipe would probably horrify style purists, because I’ll be using American 2-row malt as the backbone. Then again, I’m not brewing this in Cologne, either, so authenticity (or indeed, the right to call it a kölsch) is out the window from the get-go.

I’m using White Labs WLP029, German Ale/Kölsch yeast. Following the calculations from my brewing software, I needed about 1 L starter (~1.040 starting gravity). This was prepared roughly 36 hours in advance of pitching; I haven’t yet made a stir plate, so I am relying instead on constant agitation. It took nearly 24 hours before I saw any real signs of activity in the starter (e.g., extensive foaming when agitated, etc.). The starter initially (for the first 24 hours or so) had a prominent fruity aroma, which is quite different from starters I have made for other strains. This transitioned into the more expected “yeast/bready” aroma after 30 hours or so. I am going to presume that this is just a characteristic of the strain (nothing online mentions typical aroma for this strain’s starter).

Following exceptional efficiency (75% and 83%) in my last two all-grain recipes, I have adjusted my equipment profile accordingly in BeerSmith to assume average efficiency of around 78%. Additionally, I will be tweaking my temperature settings a touch, based on the fact that my mash was ending up just a degree or two warmer than target on most occasions. I am heating up my mash tun with hot tap water prior to mashing in; in the past, I’ve been assuming a mash tun temperature of 75°. For BeerSmith calculations in this batch, I will assume a pre-warmed mash tun temperature of 130°.

Vitamin K Kölsch Clone

  • 7.25 lbs. 2-row malt (Great Western Malting Co.)
  • 0.75 lbs. white wheat malt
  • 0.5 lbs. Munich malt
  • 0.45 oz. Magnum hops pellets (13.7% alpha, 6.4% beta), 50 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss, 10 minute boil
  • White Labs German Ale/Kölsch yeast (WLP029), in 1 L starter prepared 36 hours in advance.

Anticipated Statistics

  • S.g.=1.045; f.g. = 1.009, 4.6% abv
  • Bitterness = 22.2 IBU
  • Color = 3.7 SRM
  • I mashed in with 3.25 gallons of water at 163° (a ratio of 1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain), aiming for a mash temperature of 150°. The mash settled at ~154° after five minutes, and was at 152° after 40 minutes. My mash temps are still running a little above calculated targets; I need to do a little more tweaking in BeerSmith. I wonder if my mash water isn’t rising in temperature just a touch after I turn the flame off.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 0.9 gallons of water at ~190°. I let this rest for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and then drained the mash tun. From this step, I collected 3 gallons of wort.
  • Next, I added 3.1 gallons of water at ~185°. This brought the mash temperature up to 168°. I let this rest for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and drained the mash tun.
  • In total, I collected 6.5 gallons of wort, with an overall gravity of 1.038. This equates to roughly 78% efficiency; looks like I guessed correctly on my mash efficiency assumptions.
  • I brought the wort to a boil; after 10 minutes, I added the Magnum hops (which were boiled for a total of 50 minutes).
  • 10 minutes before flame-out, I added the Irish moss. At this same time, I measured the volume of the wort to be ~5.6 gallons; this was a little below where I wanted, and I suspected this would bump my gravity up just a touch over target, so I added 0.25 gallons of distilled water. The boil-off rate must be just a touch higher than calculated for my equipment; I’ll have to adjust this in BeerSmith.
  • After a total of 60 minutes on the boil, I turned off the flame and began chilling the wort with my wort chiller. I brought the wort down to ~69°.
  • I transferred the wort to the fermenter and added the entire 1 L starter. Although I do not have this particular fermenter calibrated for volume measurements, based on my measurements at the end of the boil I transferred approximately 5.5 gallons into the fermenter.
  • I will be fermenting this beer at approximately 66°, which is right at the lower end of the optimal zone for WLP029 (65-69°). This way if things heat up a tad during the most vigorous part of fermentation, I should still keep esters and such under control.
  • Starting gravity was 1.045 – exactly on the nose! The wort is a beautiful light yellow in color, with excellent hot break separation.
  • I brewed this up on March 1, 2015. I will let it ferment for ~7 days before cold crashing it. Then, I’ll let it sit at least another week before kegging.

Bonedigger Brown Ale

Things finally seem to be clicking along with my all-grain setup; I’ve got my mash tun properties dialed in, my grain mill configured, and everything else coming up aces. The all-grain learning curve is perhaps a bit frustrating, after feeling like I was so proficient at extract brewing, but it feels like the pay-off is finally here. I’m now getting consistent extract efficiency (thanks in large part to owning my own grain mill), and the beers are turning out quite tasty.

For today’s brew session, I wanted to play with a style I haven’t brewed previously: American brown ale. Looking back at the blog, I brewed a British-style nut brown from a kit a few years back, but that’s it! I got some advice from Ray Daniels’ Designing Great Beers, and set up a recipe in BeerSmith. I was also inspired by a recent visit to Rök House Brewing Company, which had an incredibly tasty SMaSH ESB; on asking, I learned that the wonderfully malty flavor was courtesy of Maris Otter malt. So, I knew I had to incorporate that into my next recipe!

Bonedigger Brown Ale

  • 9 lbs. 2-row malt
  • 1 lb. Maris Otter pale malt
  • 0.75 lb. 80°L crystal malt
  • 0.5 lb. carapils malt
  • 0.5 lb. chocolate malt
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops, bittering (60 minute boil)
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops, bittering (20 minute boil)
  • 0.5 oz. Willamette hops pellets, aroma (5.3% alpha; 3.7% beta; 5 minute boil)
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss (10 minute boil)
  • 1 pkg. US-05 Safale American Yeast
  • I mashed in with 3.75 gallons of water at 165°. This hit my target mash temperature of 153°. The mash ended at around 151-152°, an hour later.
  • After 60 minutes, I stirred in 0.82 gallons of water just below boiling temperature, and let this sit for 10 minutes. I collected ~3.1 gallons of first runnings.
  • Then, I added 3.14 gallons of water at 185°; the mash temperature stabilized at 168°. I let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • After the second runnings, I had collected 6.5 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.049. This works out to 75.7% efficiency.
  • I brought the wort to a boil, and added the hops as indicated. The wort boiled for a total of 60 minutes.
  • After flame-out, I cooled the wort to ~78° using my wort chiller, whirlpooled, rehydrated the yeast, and pitched the yeast. I will be fermenting this beer for 2 weeks at 65°.
  • Starting gravity is 1.057, with a total of 5.1 gallons of wort. I brewed this up on 27 September 2014.