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

Kveik the Keg Brown Ale

As the days turn towards winter, I’m in a dark [beer] mood. This is the time of year when I really like having a stout, porter, brown ale, or even an amber ale on tap to round out my beer choices.

To kick things off for the fall/winter dark beer season, I brewed up “Kveik the Keg Brown Ale.” It’s a total experiment, pulling together something that’s vaguely an American-style brown ale, with a repitch of the Hornindal kveik culture used in my recent pale ale. The idea was to make a sessionable beer holding ample malt character and a citrus highlight…something like a “chocolate orange” feel. I modified this from the Wasatch Premium Ale recipe in the Brewing Session Beers book by Jennifer Talley, because it looked like it had many of the initial features I was hoping for. For the malt base, I mixed American 2-row and light Munich malt, supplemented by a hefty dose of crystal 75, some chocolate malt, and a touch of Carafa Special III for color. For hops, I used all whole-Cascade hops. The Hornindal culture, which produces a subtle citrus character, would hopefully work alongside the Cascade. As you’ll see in the tasting notes, this was a pretty successful experiment!

Kveik the Keg Brown Ale

  • 6.25 lb. 2-row brewer’s malt (Great Western)
  • 2.5 lb. Munich light malt (Chateau)
  • 1 lb. crystal 75 malt (Great Western)
  • 2.6 oz. Carafa Special III malt (Weyermann)
  • 2.5 oz. chocolate malt (Briess)
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 30 minute boil
  • 1.5 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • Hornindal Kveik (Omega OYL-091), repitched from previous batch
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), dry hop in fermenter

Target Parameters

  • 1.044 s.g., 1.011 f.g., 4.4% abv, 18 SRM, 33 IBU
  • Infusion mash, 156°, batch sparge; 60 minute boil
  • Claremont water, with Campden tablet to remove chloramines.


  • I mashed in with 3.4 gallons of water at 166°, to hit my mash target of 156°. After 40 minutes, I added 1.5 gallons of hot water (~175°), to raise the mash temperature to 164°. I let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
  • Next, I added 3.75 gallons of hot water, to hit a ~164° mash temperature. I let this sit for 10 more minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7.3 gallons of runnings at a gravity of 1.038, for 76% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, and added hops, nutrients, and finings per the indicated schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat, chilled the wort down to 89°, and transferred it to the fermenter.
  • I brewed this beer on 19 September 2020. Starting gravity was 1.045, pretty close to my target. I pitched around 8 ounces of yeast slurry (which had been harvested a week prior), and saw signs of fermentation within 90 minutes of pitching the yeast! Within 18 hours, there was vigorous fermentation. What a solid start for this culture! I fermented this at ambient temperatures.
  • On 23 September, I added 1 oz. of dry hops directly to the fermenter.
  • I kegged the beer on 3 October 2020, adding 2.8 oz. of corn sugar boiled in 1 cup of water. The keg sat at ambient for ~10 days, before I topped up the pressure using force carbonation.
  • Final gravity was 1.017, down from 1.045, for 3.6% abv.
Kveik the Keg Brown Ale


  • Appearance
    • Very clear, deep brown beer with a persistent ivory head. It is exceptionally pretty!
  • Aroma
    • Moderate chocolate character to the malt aroma, with a slight citrus character, presumably from the yeast and hops. Very clean!
  • Flavor
    • The beer has a surprisingly rich, bready malt base (must be that Munich malt!), with a dark caramel and chocolate character behind that. Bitterness is at a moderately high level, but not over the top relative to the malt. There is definitely an orangey citrus character in play here.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Moderate carbonation, with a fairly light body and a crisp finish. There is a very slight bit of what might be astringency on the extended finish, but it’s barely noticeable. It’s not harsh at all, but does seem a touch out of balance with the rest of the beer.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! I might make a few minor modifications, perhaps to dial the bitterness back just a touch and maybe reduce the dry hopping level or dry hopping time. I think the beer would also benefit from swapping out the 2-row base malt with a Vienna or Maris Otter-type malt, to enrich the malt character. All that said, it’s overall a pretty good beer. I really like how the kveik culture worked in this beer, and it’s pretty nice to find something for this yeast that’s not yet another oversaturated IPA. I’ll probably be brewing more beers like this down the road!

Kveik Pale Ale

It happened…I’ve given in to a brewing trend, and am trying a recipe with kveik. As you’ll see in some upcoming posts, I’ve in fact tried a few kveik recipes at this point. This is my first one, and admittedly not my favorite.

red package of yeast from Omega Yeast, Hornindal Kveik strain, with cartoon of cat on front
Kveik culture from Omega

For those not familiar with it, kveik is essentially a Norwegian farmhouse ale culture, with a rich cultural history that has likely been over-analyzed by those outside of the original neighborhoods where the yeast originated. I’ve been intrigued by their stated qualities of fermenting cleanly in excess of 90°, which almost sounds too good to be true. It wasn’t, in the end!

The recipe is inspired by a kit recipe from Atlantic Brew Supply, with major adjustments to pretty much everything. Many of the kveik-centered recipes out there are super-high alcohol, and that just doesn’t interest me. Session ales forever! I looked around at a few different kveik strains, and Hornindal from Omega seemed to hit the balance of a citrusy character that I wanted. I went with my usual session pale ale strategy of Vienna plus some Munich and a little crystal malt. For the hops, I grabbed a South African experimental variety, U1/108, from my local homebrew shop.

Kveik Pale Ale

  • 8 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
  • 1 lb. Munich light malt (Chateau)
  • 0.5 lb. Crystal 40 malt (Great Western)
  • 0.75 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 30 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet
  • 1 oz. African Experimental U1/108 hop pellets (15.0% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. African Experimental U1/108 hop pellets (15.0% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 3 oz. African Experimental U1/108 hop pellets (15.0% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 pkg. Hornindal Kveik (Omega OYL-091)

Target Parameters

  • 1.043 s.g., 1.011 f.g., 4.3% abv, 6 SRM, 41 IBU
  • Infusion mash, 156°, batch sparge; 45 minute boil
  • Claremont water, with Campden tablet to remove chloramines and 2 g of gypsum added to boil kettle.


  • I mashed in with 3.25 gallons at 168°, to hit a 158° mash temperature. I also added 4 mL of 88% lactic acid to the mash, to adjust pH.
  • The mash temperature was down to 156° after 45 minutes. At this point, I added 1.5 gallons for the first sparge, which raised the temperature to 162°. After 10 minutes, vorlaufed and collected the first runnings. Next, I added 3.6 gallons for the second sparge, with a vorlauf after 10 minutes.
  • In total, I collected 7 gallons with a gravity of 1.039, for 77% mash efficiency.
  • In the kettle, I added 2 g gypsum, and the broil everything to a boil. I boiled for 45 minutes, adding hops and other items per the schedule.
  • After flame-out, I chilled the wort to below 185° and then added 1 oz. of whirlpool hops. Hops were between 175° and 180° for 10 minutes. Then, I continued chilling.
  • After I chilled the wort down to 90°, I let it settle for 1 hour and then transferred to the fermenter and pitched the kveik.
  • The fermenter showed minor activity within 6 hours, and vigorous bubbling within 18 hours. At this point, I measured ~85° degrees for fermenter temperature, with 80° degrees ambient in the garage. I started fermentation on September 5, and fermentation seemingly was done by 9 Sept 2020.
  • I kegged the beer on 13 September 2020, adding dry hops in a baggie at that time. As has been my usual practice lately, I did a mixture of keg priming and force carbonation, targeting 2.7 volumes of CO2. I added 2.8 oz of corn sugar dissolved in one cup water for this first stage, and after a week topped up the CO2 using my cylinder.
  • Final gravity is 1.017, for 3.6% abv.


  • Appearance
    • A hazy gold beer, with a pillowy, fine, and very persistent white head
  • Aroma
    • Aroma is malt-centered, very bready and showing a bit of caramel. Hop aroma is surprisingly low.
  • Flavor
    • Very hoppy, with a slightly rough bitterness. The malt in the background has a bready and toasty quality.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Light bodied, slightly astringent finish, probably from the dry hops. Moderately high carbonation.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Not with this particular hopping regimen. The malt character is fine, and the yeast character is fantastically clean for having been fermented at high temperature, but the hops just don’t do it for me. I wonder if it’s a combination of the hop variety with the low starting gravity, so that the hops aren’t balanced more by the malt. I also think I overhopped on the dry-hopping, so I can’t blame it all on the hop variety. Honestly, the beer was far better before I added the dry hops! That said, I’m super impressed by the yeast, and harvested a ton for use in some upcoming batches.
  • Overall
    • 4/10

Packrat Porter

Yeast sludge settling out

I’m always interested in expanding my skills and homemade brewing equipment, and it seemed like an opportune time to take a big step forward. I’ve been curious about washing and reusing yeast for some time, but just haven’t made the effort to enact the process. So, when I kegged my Seven Seas Session IPA, I saved the sludge from the bottom of the primary fermenter. I added a bit of boiled and cooled water, and then decanted the slurry into two quart mason jars. Each jar was about 2/3 full (a little too full, in retrospect), and I then topped each up with more cooled and boiled water. I let them sit for awhile, and then decanted the liquid as well as the top layer of sludge into another quart jar. This, too, was topped up with water and then placed in the fridge for a week. Last night, in preparation for today’s batch, I prepared a 1L yeast starter and added the yeast from the bottom of the jar. This stirred overnight and into the afternoon, at which point I was ready to pitch the yeast. The starter looks and smells quite healthy, so I’m optimistic about this little experiment. Next time, I may instead overbuild a primary yeast culture and save that, instead of reusing yeast from a previous batch.

I also decided to try adding the dark grains and crystal malts during the vorlauf, following a technique suggested by Gordon Strong in his recent homebrew recipes book. This was a little tricky when it came time to calculate the various water volumes required, and I missed the target by a little bit (I had done the calculations without the various crystal malts, and I also presume the oats soaked up a bit of extra water). I improvised by washing the grains at the end with a final pulse of water, and that brought me right to my volume and gravity target. Lesson learned!

The final major addition to today’s brew process was the construction of a hop spider. I essentially followed directions from BYO magazine, but instead used a food-grade straining bag instead of a paint-straining bag. It worked quite well during the boil, and will definitely be easier than wrangling multiple bags during more hoppy brews.
Today’s brew was an American(ish) porter, named in honor of a resident of our quarry this summer. It was also appropriately named as the dumping ground for a whole bunch of leftover ingredients and free samples, as well as my first attempt at yeast washing. I am under no illusions that some of the smaller grain additions will have a detectable effect, but I can’t stand the idea of throwing out those little packets, either! Given my experience with the last porter I brewed, which was a touch thin, I beefed up the recipe with a pound of flaked oats.
Packrat Porter
  • 8.55 pounds 2-row malt (Great Westerning Malting Co.)
  • 1 lb. flaked oats
  • 1.4 oz. Borlander Munich Malt (Briess)
  • 1.4 oz. Victory malt (Briess)
  • 1 lb. chocolate malt, added at vorlauf
  • 0.75 lb. 60° caramel Munich malt (Briess), added at vorlauf
  • 0.37 lb. 40° crystal malt, added at vorlauf
  • 1.4 oz. 60° caramel malt (Briess), added at vorlauf
  • 1 oz. Newport hops (10.7% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1L starter of English ale yeast, WLP002 (reused)
  • 1 tbs. 5.2 pH stabilizer (in mash)
  • 1 tablet Whirlfloc (10 minute boil)
Hop spider in action
  • I mashed in with 3.1 gallons of water at 168°, which stabilized to around 155°. The mash had dropped to 152° after 60 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes, I added the dark and crystal grains, as well as 1.27 gallons of water at 185°. I let this sit for 15 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected 3.15 gallons of wort. Then, I added 3.65 gallons of water at 180°, which raised the mash bed to 164°. I let this sit, vorlaufed, and collected the remainder of the wort. This totaled 6.1 gallons at a gravity of 1.046. This was a little under my target on both counts, so I added 0.75 gallons of water at 120°. I drained this for the final collection.
  • All told, I collected 6.75 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.048. This works out to 75% efficiency.
  • Once the wort came to a boil, I added the hops and boiled for 60 minutes. With 10 minutes to go, I added the Whirlfloc.
  • At flame-out, I chilled the wort down to about 80 degrees and then transferred it to the carboy. I placed it in the fermentation chamber and cooled it for an hour or so, and then pitched the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.056, which should result in a final abv of around 5.1%. The unfermented wort has a nice dark color and a good taste. I plan to ferment this for 2 weeks at 68°.

Getting Started with Yeast Starters

Over the past year, I’ve been experimenting with several new techniques related to beer brewing. These include full-volume boils, temperature-controlled fermentation, and all-grain brewing. For my upcoming batch, a pumpkin ale, I decided to try my hand at making a yeast starter. This will allow me to use a wider variety of yeasts and also prepare for the eventuality of making lagers (which seem to pretty much require a starter).

The equipment is fairly simple: a 2-liter Erlenmeyer flask (pictured at left) and some aluminum foil.

The procedure itself is fairly simple, too. I boiled 172 g (~6 oz.) of extra light dry malt extract in 1.5 L of water for 10 minutes, to produce an unhopped wort with a gravity of ~1.040. I decanted the hot wort from the saucepan into the flask, which was capped with foil and plunged into an ice bath. After about 10 minutes, the container (and presumably the wort) were cool to the touch.

Once the wort was cooled, I pitched a tube of White Labs WLP001 (California Ale) yeast into the flask, shook it up, covered with sanitized foil, and set the flask in a relatively safe and warm corner. For this batch, I’m agitating (i.e., swirling) the mixture whenever I happen to be by the area, so roughly ever 30 to 60 minutes. If I have the time before my next brewing session (which probably won’t be until late November or early December), I may build a stir plate.