Homebrewer, tourist, raker of mash tuns and cleaner of kegs, grower of hops, dilettante, the one who rolls the casks, owner of too much glassware, certified beer judge, snob, indiscriminate guzzler, geek dork nerd, scrivener of blogs.

Disclaimer: I work for Wyeast Labs. The views and opinions expressed herein are strictly my own. Nothing posted here should be considered an official statement on the part of my present or past employers, or any organization with which I am affiliated.

Copyright © 2013, The Beer Engine Blog. All rights reserved.

359 thoughts on “About

  1. Dawson,

    I brewed a couple months back, and with work trips, vacations, kids, laziness, etc….. it is still sitting in the primary untouched. Is it still okay to bottle, or does it need to be dumped? Do I need to pitch more yeast to revive it a bit? Thanks.

    • Only you can answer this question, Jay … how does it taste right now, and how badly do you need some beer to drink?

      At a cool enough temp, a beer with 2+ months in the primary could possibly still be OK – the cooler the temp, the better the chances. And if it tastes alright, then odds are good there will be some dormant but live-enough cells to carbonate bottles. The warmer the temp, the more likely it is that the yeast will have autolyzed and some trub components will have broken down, making it taste rubbery, band-aidy, and/or rancid butter-y.

  2. Hello Dawson,

    Back in Lager Workarounds you mentioned using 029 for your Aletoberfest. My lager version ended up with diacetyl (forgot d-rest) and I’m trying to get a batch in for an Oktoberfest party. I’m an ambient brewer so I’m limited in options. In that episode you also tried 2124 at ale temps. Which would you recommend for a basement that will be pushing 70 by the time I can brew it? Or (given the situation) should I just use the kegerator for a true lager ferment?

    • I’m in the same boat as you regarding the basement and ambient temps brewer. Last 2 yrs I’ve made Dawson’s Sustainor 2 Maibock with 2124 and had stellar results. Both times it’s been more than ideal temp conditions. What i end up doing is chilling my wort down, sticking my ferm bucket in a cooler of water with a couple frozen 1 liter bottles and it kept the temps right around 58-60F. Swamp cooler more or less.

      I’ve also used 2124 in a Vienna lager that fermented around 65F and it still came out very clean. All in all it’s a pretty versatile yeast. Try and get your temps down just a touch if you can, swamp cooler works like a charm and is pretty much no maintenance after a couple days. If you can at least start it off fairly low in the 60’s you’ll be golden.

    • What Seth said! 2124 at ambient (<70F) temps still came out more lager-like than any ale strain I've tried at the same temp. Use a swamp cooler like Seth, or if nothing else, cool your wort, jam the fermenter in your keggerator overnight to drop the temp further, then take it out and pitch.

  3. Hi Dawson,

    Have you brewed any Trappist:ish style beers? I really would love to hear more about it if so and your thoughts on the subject (like the style and so on). Thanks, keep up the good work on your blog and skål! (Swedish för cheers).

    • Yes! I like to do them in series: worts of different gravities with successive generations of the same yeast. I’ll be starting a new one sometime next month …

      Skål, and thanks for reading!

  4. I was wondering if you could give me some tips on increasing mouthfeel on my lower abv brews. I brewed a kit from nb which was your multi grain red. I fly sparged and did no mash out. The finish product tasted good, but its watery. Any advice for the future? Is there a way to get a nice low abv beer without it being sweet due to high mash temps/ increased specialty malt?

  5. Dawson,

    I was just re-watching the BrewingTV “Decoction Day” Episode, and since I decided to buy a chest freezer the other day when I move back to the country, I can start lagering! We don’t quite get down to lager ambient temps where I’m from. I really enjoy the substition of processes for ingredient, so I was hoping to do a decoction mash of my own. However, I typically do single step mashes at around 152 to 154 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour. Is it possible to mash for about thirty minutes, then do your decoction, and then add your heated up grains to the rest of your mash for mash out? Also, do you have any do’s/dont’s for single step mash/decoctions? I am hoping to have a burnt golden/light amber color so I was thinking of using 10 lbs of pilsen malt and a pound or two of munich. Do I need to add some body-enhancing malts like carapils as well, or does decoction also give it more body? I’ve been looking around Whitelabs and Wyeast for different yeast strains but as I have never actually used any of them before, do you have any recommendations?

    I know this is a lot of questions but any help you could give me would be great. I also want to thank you for all of your contributions to the homebrewing community. Yeah know, I started brewing March 8th right before the release of Brewing TV that May and followed you guys to you left. The three of you guys were/are a huge part of this community, and its really this community which makes homebrewing what it is, and what has kept me around for the last three years. Seriously, you guys effin’ kick ass, and it was great to see you and chip on “Boat Bitter”, keep doing what your doing and congrats on the new job!


    • Thanks, Alex!

      Is it possible to mash for about thirty minutes, then do your decoction, and then add your heated up grains to the rest of your mash for mash out?

      Yes, except I might consider extending the mash rest to >30 min to ensure complete conversion, because any starch or HMW material left unreduced in the thick mash post-decoction would get carried over to the boiler. The alternative would be to step the decoction up gradually through the sacch’ range to allow any native enzymes to continue converting on the way to boiling, but then you might as well extend the main mash rest and do a speedier decoction anyway (my $0.02).

      I was thinking of using 10 lbs of pilsen malt and a pound or two of munich. Do I need to add some body-enhancing malts like carapils as well, or does decoction also give it more body?

      The decoction technique in and of itself won’t do nearly as much to affect the body as will grist composition and/or temp and duration of protein rest. As far as CaraPils vs. no CaraPils, I don’t think you can go wrong either way – I’m a big fan of base malt-only lagers, but a little dextrin malt is often a good thing. Follow your muse.

      Do you have any recommendations?

      Again, follow your muse – pick a strain that’s suited to the style of beer you’re making first, and then a decoction mash should complement it. If I had to name a couple, 2124 Bohemian and 2206 Bavarian are both solid all-rounders.

      Hope this helps – let us know how it goes!

  6. Hi Dawson,

    Any suggestions – practical or theoretical – on building a house yeast strain blend? I am looking to have a good attenuating main strain (like 1056) blended with another high flocculation yeast to help get a brighter beer.

    Two questions of your yeast expertise (yeastpertise?). Which second strain would you add to the Chico strain to encourage rapid and good clarity? Any suggestions on how to create the initial blend?


    • With the understanding that this is probably the most time-intensive and complicated way to arrive at brighter beer … ; )

      Usually blends are used for flavor or attenuation; a problem I could foresee with using a multi-strain approach for flocculation is that over a few generations the less-flocculent component strain would get increasingly weeded out of each successive crop; if we tried to counteract that by only harvesting the less-flocculent, later-settling cells, then the more flocculent component strain gets weeded out instead.

      Since there will always be some amount of variation within a population of yeast cells, my $0.02 – and this is even more complicated – would be to start at one end (either attenuation or flocculation), pick a strain you like that meets the chosen criteria, and then over the course of (several? many?) generations select to gradually improve the other characteristic (e.g., crop only the most flocculent, first-settling yeast from successive 1056 fermentations).

      • Thanks Dawson for the guidance on the brightness goal. I may have oversold my desire on that point. I am intrigued by the “greater than the sum of its parts” approach to yeast. And really, it just sounds like something cool to do to have a house version of totally unique yeast.

        Thanks again.

  7. MD – Have you ever brewed a Leffe Brune clone? I fell in love with this beer during a recent vacation and would like to try to make it. Any thoughts on a recipe/yeast? I can’t find a reliable recipe online and have never tried to make a clone with nothing other than the beer to start with. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks and happy brewing!

  8. Mike,

    What is your preferred method of force-carbonation when kegging? And/or do you have different carbonation methods for different serving regimes (straight CO2 vs. nitro, etc.)?

    Set to serving pressure and wait, high pressure/shake the keg, or something in between?



  9. MD,

    I remember, long ago, you mentioning that Wyeast had been doing some testing of their Bohemian(?) Lager yeast strain being fermented as a steam beer (at ale temps) and was wondering if anything ever came of that? I want nothing more than to brew an Oktoberfest this fall but have no real way of lagering. Am I stuck waiting until I am better equipped or is there a way around this. I don’t want to waste valuable time or ingredients on a beer that will turn out bad. Any suggestions?

    Lucas B

  10. MD,
    I wanted to re-pitch some WLP006 from a Mild to an Ordinary Bitter. I had a little trouble washing it due to the high flocculation and wasn’t able to pitch right after I brewed on Saturday (8/17/13). The wort has been sitting in my fermentation chamber since then at about 8 C. I was hoping to pitch today (8/19/13). Have I waited too long?

    Also, do you have any tips for washing highly flocculant strains? I couldn’t seem to get the yeast separated from the trub.



    • I honestly don’t have a lot of experience using 006, so I won’t speak to that specifically. But in general, personally, and in a spirit of shutting barn doors after horses have gotten out, I have found that skimming a highly flocculent, top-cropping English-type strain (e.g., 1968) out of the primary works better (in terms of getting a clean, re-usable pitch) than trying to wash it afterwards. A possible workaround you could try at this point would be to feed the unwashed slurry some fresh wort, let it ferment, then decant and save the top portion (krausen with floccs) and discard the settled solids.

  11. MD-

    I’ll piggy-back on Adam’s post because the first part of his question is exactly the same as mine, but I’ll start a new post because I have a second question.

    Question 1: I brewed on Sunday but haven’t pitched the yeast (see question 2). The wort has been sitting in my fermentation chamber at a steady 67F since Sunday evening, which is the temp at which it will ferment. How long can the wort sit before pitching the yeast?

    Question 2: I made a yeast starter on Friday afternoon for the beer above. When I wasn’t able to brew on Saturday, I put the starter into the fridge after 24 hours on a stir plate. I took the starter out of the fridge on brew day Sunday to warm up before pitching. I decided not to pitch it before checking with you first because I’ve never refrigerated a starter before, so I didn’t know if there were any special steps to take to ensure a good pitch. The starter is now back in the fridge. Now that it’s been refrigerated, warmed up, and refrigerated again, is there anything I should do before pitching, other than let it warm up?

    Thanks for all you do with this blog. I started homebrewing because of Brewing TV so I’m glad you’re still doing something to connect with us nerds!


    • Cheers, Eric – thanks for connecting to this nerd.

      1. Difficult to say. It depends heavily on sanitation, post-boil exposure to microbes (which will be more abundant in warm weather), and storage temp of the unpitched wort (colder being better). Eventually something is going to get a foothold and start working, so the safe answer is “as short a time as possible” – anecdotally I’ve gone ~12 hrs before pitching a number of times without any adverse affects (although each time the wort was at colder, sub-50F temps).

      2. Given that the wort has been waiting for a couple days, my inclination at this point would be to let the starter warm to roughly the target ferm temp (to avoid temp shock) and then pitch.

  12. Hey Dawson! I’ve just started brewing on my own but have been the apprentice of my father my whole life (he’s been brewing since ’79). Unfortunately, funds and space are pretty low for me so I’m doing the brew in a bag method, and my dad looks upon this method with some disdain. I’ve seen you brew in a bag and I know a ton of other people do it too. I want to brew a batch and show my dad that I can make just as good a beer doing BIAB as he does doing fly sparging (my last batch was pretty mediocre). Any tips for getting the most out of a brew in a bag batch? Would you mind maybe describing your process? Love the blog and the videos, by the way.

    • Hey Ryan! To do this topic justice, I really need to spin it out into its own post – I have plans for that, but it’s going to have to wait a bit. In the meantime:

      Other than increasing the grist to offset lower efficiency (I personally never get as much out of a BIAB mash as a fly-sparged mash on my big system) I don’t really do anything different for BIAB. I still do a mashout, then remove the grist and bag and boil, hop, and chill as I would for any other batch. For fine tuning: I think it pays to keep an eye on water composition and pH, what with all the draff and malt solids that will stay in the boil kettle. A refractometer definitely helps to compensate for variables on the fly (eg, boosting pre-boil gravity with DME or tweaking hop additions to maintain target IBUs in spite of a missed target gravity).

      Hope this helps!

  13. I’m thinking about brewing something along the lines of Chicha de jora (south american maize/corn-beer) but I want to do it in a more controlled way. The malt/maize-part I got covered.

    But the yeast part is the one I’m still not sure about. Since you are now not just a idol of mine but a Wyeast employee you are probably the right man for my question.

    Do you think I should go with a clean sacch.-strain + just lactobacillus or just lactobacillus? The question here is probably, would just lactobacillus ferment the sugars without making it too sour/tart?

    The OG would be about 1.032-ish.

    • Let’s work backwards: what do you envision the finished beer being like? What’s more important, abv or acid?

      In my experience, Lacto always produces acidity, whether or not it achieves any alcoholic fermentation, and the level of acidity is probably most dependent on time and temperature. I’ve had many examples of homebrewed Berliner Weisse that had an initial souring with just Lacto prior to fermentation with Sacch, and these were plenty tart.

      I would guess a mixed Sacch + Lacto would probably make for a more shelf-stable beer that’s more approachable by modern standards. I don’t think you’d sacrifice the acidic character going this route … just based on the OG and yeast candidates, it seems like a Berliner Weisse fermentation regimen could be a good road map.

      Hope this helps – sounds like a cool project!

  14. Hey Dawson. I’ve decided to mess around with a step mash. For my system, this means I’ll be mashing in one of my 10 gallon megapots from Northern Brewer with the false bottom that goes with it so that I can apply direct heat to the mash tun. The deadspace in the tun is 2 gallons, which feels like a lot since this will only be a 5 gallon batch. Anything I should take into consideration for the mash? Is it as simple as adding 2 additional gallons of water? And how does this affect the sparge?

    If I’m going to keep doing step mashes, I’ll probably buy a new kettle with better dimensions than the megapots (taller and smaller diameter/circumference) but any advice you can provide for this batch would be greatly appreciated.


    • Anything I should take into consideration for the mash? Is it as simple as adding 2 additional gallons of water? And how does this affect the sparge?

      Basically, yes. You’ll need about that much less sparge water to hit your target preboil gravity. Stir the mash well while its heating between steps; a more dilute mash tends to favor beta amylase, so caveat mashor … Personally, it’s hard for a beer to be too dry for my taste, but something to keep in mind if you’re concerned about overattenuation or too light a body for the style.

  15. MD,

    I was hoping you could tell me a little about how precisely you maintain/monitor mash temps with your system. I am on the brink of going all grain and have been reading a lot on the interwebs (maybe too much). I understand the need to keep the mash within a certain range due to the impact on fermentability, but how precise does this need to be on a homebrew scale, say 5-10 gallons?


    • Hey Joe,

      I’m going to give you two answers:

      1. Precise is good. Personally, I try to keep it right on the nose; this makes results repeatable (or correctable) and it is fairly easy to do since I use brewing software to calculate infusion volumes and temps, and since I know my system very well after years of use.

      2. Having said that, the active temp range of the amylolytic enzymes in malt is pretty wide … you could miss a target mash temp by a full 8 or 10 degrees in either direction and still wind up with some kind of fermentable sugars that can become beer.

      If you’re just getting started with AG brewing, I’d say it’s most important to get your feet wet, start learning the process flow and the idiosyncrasies of your equipment, and take good notes. Fine-tuning is easier after you have a batch down and some data to look at. Yes, mash temp does affect fermentability of the wort and therefore the character of the finished beer; but it’s also just one of many variables that affect the finished beer, which you’ll learn to manage as you go, and my advice would be to not get too psyched out by all the details right away.

      Hope this helps!

  16. I jae a general beer question and then a homebrewing question:
    I was recently at Surly’s taproom and tried both You’re in (Urine) Trouble and Misanthrope and was surprised by how much I liked them. I have not had any Brett beers before and now want to expand my tastes; do you have any suggestions for what I should try that are available in our (MN) market?

    Its been a while since I’ve brewed and am going start with my favorite black IPA, but to be adventurous (a little) I’m going to siphon a gallon off prior to bottling and steep it in coffee grounds; like you would do to make iced coffee, and it got me thinking; for an extract brewer using specialty grains, could they (or some of them) be cold steeped (room temp) after fermentation?

    Keep up the great writing, I always look forward to your Growler articles, they keep me interested and thinking about brewing when life doesn’t provide enough time to be doing it.

    • Cheers, Carl – I’m going to kick your Brett beer question to the readership in general.

      Re: cold-steeping specialty grains – yes, absolutely. Don’t steep them in the fermenting/fermented beer, though – use a pot or pan of plain old brewing water. Just like making cold-press coffee, it’ll take much longer to extract color and flavor vs. steeping at a higher temp; and you’ll still need to boil the steeped-grain wort a bit to sterilize before adding it to the main batch.


  17. Back in Episode 4: Open Fermentation, you expressed that this was an experiment you definitely wanted to do again. I was wondering if you had, and if so, what you did and what were the results? Any dos/don’ts of open fermentation would be greatly appreciated!

    All for brew & brew for all

    • Yes – I have gone back to it, and really like it for Hefeweizen, English bitter and mild, and some types of Belgian ales (3787 is good for this). I did implement the precaution of using covered (but not sealed) vessels – all the benefits of unpressurized fermentation with none of the risk of airborne crud (or me dropping something in it) … helps ensure the purity of any skimmed yeast to be reused.

      Cheers, Alex!

      • I’d like to try this on an upcoming bitter (2nd Boat Bitter). What are you using for unsealed vessels? I’ve seen in BTV the use of a bucket and a kettle. Do recommend one over the other? Obviously you’d rack out of the kettle after…3-4 days? and seal the lid on a bucket i similar fashion…

        • I use both – dealer’s choice. A five gallon batch fermented in an 8 or 10 gallon kettle (or the equivalent) will have a more horizontal orientation and greater surface:depth ratio, which will tend to maximize esters (and 4VG, for strains that produce it); deeper & narrower (but still unsealed) wouldn’t give quite the same oomph. Timing of the racking is on the yeast’s schedule – once it nears TG and the krausen starts becoming weaker and begins to fall back.

          • sooo…wider is better for more ester production? I’m breing this up 3 gal BIAB style and i may just toss it in my 7.9 gallon bucket then. Wide plus tall, best of both worlds

            • Dawson,

              I wanted to do this for an ESB recipe I had. I remember Jeremy King saying he’s used the London ESB and the Thames Valley yeast, the main difference in that the ESB he had to agitate more. However, what I’m interested in is the difference in ester production and how clean the beer finishes. The ESB has more more ester production but also less attenuation, whereas the Thames Valley has a much cleaner, less sweet beer. Because of that, I’m thinking of choosing the Thames Valley, because I don’t want to have a malty sweet and fruity beer. But as Thames Valley isn’t known for it’s ester production, I’m worried the oompph that I want may not be there. Any thoughts/suggestions?

              Cool, I was debating of keeping it completely open or layering it with sanitized cheese cloth. Looks like I’ll go for the latter.

              Thanks a lot Dawson! I really appreciate all the help.

            • Thames Valley is a good one. The technique will enhance any proclivities that are already there; TV may be clean by the standards of an English ale strain, but it isn’t ester-neutral on the order of 1056, either. Have fun and let us know how it goes!

  18. Mr Dawson,

    Hi – I really enjoy reading your blog but I think, and you citizen might agree with me, the winter is coming (yeah you know what I mean ;-)…) right?, so I think its time for a Belgian Trappist:ish style beer! So, I have no doubt that you have something along these lines up in your sleeve right Mr Dawson?…

    Skål! (Cheers – yeah I know , its in Swedish.. :-))

  19. Hey MD
    Glad i found your blog, I missed getting blessed by your knowledge from Brewing TV… I have a Brew set up question. I want to make the next step in brewing, so far only done Brew In A Bag when i have done all grain. I am ready to make my next purchase for brewing gear. I already have 1 large 16 gallon brew pot with a false bottom, trying to decide if i want to go the cooler route or just get another lagre brew pot to use for a HLT and sparge in my 16 gallon pot.. Other then the cooler helping you hold temperature, is one set up better then another as a mash tun?

    Thank You

  20. Dawson,
    I have recently moved to China. I will be in the US to see some friends in a couple of weeks and intend to bring a supply of hops and yeast back to China.

    My question is, “what yeast would you take to China for a years worth of brewing?” Is there a strain that you absolutely couldn’t live without? Or are there some hardy strains that can get slapped around a bit but keep producing good quality beer.


  21. MD,

    I just finished brewing a session brown ale with the Northwest Ale yeast strain. I’d like to brew a series of beers using successive generations of this yeast. Any thoughts on second, third, and fourth beers?

  22. Hi Dawson,

    I thought I should alert you to a new book published by a colleague of mine: Brewing Science, Technology and Print, 1700–1880, by James Sumner, who is one of the best historians of brewing in the UK. Details here: http://www.pickeringchatto.com/titles/1659-9781848934238-brewing-science-technology-and-print-1700-1880. Martyn Cornell http://zythophile.wordpress.com/ has not reviewed it yet, but I expect he will soon.


  23. Mike, I have been wanting to do a smash with Marris Otter and was thinking of doing it with Galaxy hops in order to give them a try. What would you do in order to make a determination on what yeast to use. I know i could use Wyeast 1056 as I have a batch sitting on it right now. Any thought? Also, if you know that Marris Otter and Galaxy won’t mix well, let me know.


    • I’d definitely use what you have – what 1056 has going for it is showcasing the full flavor experience of Galaxy plus MO (which should be a good combo).

  24. I went out to dinner with a woman at the Happy Gnome last night, and upon tasting my Goose Island Matilda Lambicus, she said that it tasted like vomit and smelled like cat pee. Do I ask her to marry me for correctly identifying the effects of enterobacter, or do I refuse to see her again for besmirching the good name of a wild-fermented beer?

    • That’s a tricky one. I think I come down on the side of “correctly identifying the effects of enterobacter” doesn’t inherently constitute bagging on wild-fermented beer – I think “vomit” and “diaper pail” and “barnyard” can be used as non-pejorative descriptors. Although, to declare my bias, having fathered through the infant stage, the olfactory anticipation created by the phrase “diaper pail” skeeves me out a lot, lot less than it would have 5 years ago. Maybe a more important question is: does she like any other kind of beer?

  25. Hey MD

    I have a problem. I received a gift of a brand new keg 2 years ago. I had no place to keep it cold so it sat and I continued to bottle. I just built myself a keezer and was cleaning my keg when I noticed both poppets are jammed into the body connect. I have been pushing but there is no way I can get them out. Have you had this happen and have a trick for me or do I need to buy brand new poppets and body connects?


    • Hey Megan,

      If it’s a new, never-before-used keg, then these parts *shouldn’t* need replacing, and if the keg holds pressure and is otherwise functional, it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.

      If you remove the connector-post from the keg body with a socket wrench and still can’t push or pry the poppet out (don’t torque it so much that the poppet gets bent or damaged, though), then just jury-rig a way to clean it in place: e.g., hold the post in a tub of StarSan and manually open the poppet valve; flush sanitizer solution through the keg, poppet, and tapline under CO2 pressure; etc. Hope this helps!

      • Thanks MD. I will try that to clean and sanitize. I had my husband look at it and he said there is no way the poppets are coming out. What about if the gaskets break or tear?

  26. I somehow must have been stuck under a rock and missed the original run of BTV. Now I’m slowly savoring my way through the episodes like a batch of finely aged barleywine…

    I just watched Episode 38: None More Cask while picking homegrown Zeus off the bines. What a thoroughly enjoyable half hour. I just wanted to thank you, Jake, and Chip for spending the time and effort in making the series. I’m really having a great time with it. You guys rock. Please share a toast with the fellas, next time you find yourselves in the same company.


  27. MD,

    I recently was given 8oz. of Vanguard leaf hops from a relative visiting from WA. Any suggestions on what to do with them? I have never used them before. What styles do they work well in? Thanks.


    • I haven’t used Vanguard a ton, although I did like them in an Americanized Czech pils (domestic 2-row & American-grown noble hop descendents with a Czech lager strain) I brewed a while back.

      • So I’m finally around to doing a brew with these hops. The recipe I am going off uses German Perle and Czech Saaz. My gut tells me to substitute the Vanguard for the German Perle and use the Saaz. Am I off-base here, or should it be the other way around? This is new territory for me in terms of brewing a pilsner style beer. Thanks!

        • I think that should be good – Vanguard will definitely be closer to Perle than Saaz in terms of aa%, and somewhat closer to Perle in terms of flavor. Let us know how it goes!

  28. Hiya MD!
    Have a safe trip to GABF, & we look forward to hearing the report from this years festivities.
    My comment & inquiry go back to BTV 26: Big Beer Brewing, and the blog posting for your recipe for Warwick Golden Barleywine. I just drool when I see the color & carbonation on this beer. It’s amazing how big a beer can be as a “SMASH” beer.
    Is the Wyeast 1945 NeoBritannia exclusive to NB? And for my next question you might hate me, but I have a half-way decent reason….I know you’re a Wyeast guy, but my LHBS only carries White Labs for liquid yeasts, but for this type of big English barleywine, what would be a comparable yeast to use for this?
    Thanks so much.

    • Cheers, Chad! Honestly, for that recipe, the exact strain is secondary to the quality and quantity of Maris Otter, the quantity of yeast, and fermentation temp … anything that will go north of 10% abv without undue diacetyl or fusels should do the trick.

  29. Hey MD,
    I’m looking to make my first foray into Maibock territory. I typically use Weyermann Pilsner Malt for all my German beers. Would using Floor Malted Pilsner be a good choice for this style? How would the results differ from regular Pils?

    • Yep. The standard BoPils is a great malt; the floor malted version – to me – has a bread-doughier flavor (a bit like wheat malt w/o the phenols or fruitiness) and gives a creamier texture.

  30. Michael Dawson, i need some help!

    I’m trying to figure out a reasonably affordable 80L (21 Gallon) setup for brewing at work, what would be the best way to do this? 2 x 95L (25 Gallon) pots? One to mash, one to boil? Maybe just a big cooler mash tun and a pot? Any help would be appreciated.


    – O

  31. Hello Mr. Dawson,

    I started homebrewing back when Charlie P’s first edition of the Joy of Homebrewing came out. Back then it was very experimental and the choices of ingredients is nothing like it is today. After several moves, lost gear, etc., I had many years before I started brewing again…

    About 3 months ago I stumbled across Brewing TV and was inspired to take up brewing again (I managed to watch every episode, only to be disappointed in the end with the change in hosts…Jake, Chip, and you made the show excellent and worth watching).

    At this point I’ve collected new equipment, have 4 batches in fermenters (it’s going to be a good November!) and will start getting back into full grain brewing after the first of the year.

    I want to thank you for your inspiration and look forward to reading your postings.


      • Hi Michael – Can I make a usability suggestion for your blog site? When viewing single blog entries, it would be nice to see the next / previous links not only on the top of the page, but on the bottom as well. That way if you read through a post that is long, or contains lots of comments, you don’t have to scroll back up to the top to navigate to the next, or previous post.

        Not sure how familiar you are with customizing WordPress, but the fix is pretty straightforward:
        1. Log into the admin console for your site.
        2. Go to Appearance / Editor (found in the lefthand pane).
        3. When in the Editor, locate the file (righthand pane has all of the files for the theme you are using) Single Post (single.php)
        4. Copy everything from thru
        5. Paste what you just copied right below (don’t worry if nothing lines up. you can clean it up if you want but it doesn’t matter)
        6. Hit the “Upload File” button

        You will now have the Previous / Next nav links at the top and bottom of your blog pages.


        • Fix – I forgot that when adding “tags” into a comment, that they get stripped out! So, #4 above should read:: Copy everything from (the tag containing) nav id=”nav-single” thru the comment (including the angle brackets) !– #nav-single —

          #5 above should read: Paste what you just copied right below (the tag containing) ?php comments_template( ”, true ); ?

          Sorry for the confusion. If this doesn’t make sense, let me know and I can email the instructions…that is if you would like to use them.


  32. MD –

    I’m trying to better understand how my brewing system performs and one of the things I tested was my boil-off rate. I put 7 gallons of water into my kettle and boiled it for an hour (a nice rolling boil – not at all aggressive). I use the Blichmann floor burner. About 2.25 gallons boiled off in 60 minutes. This seems like a lot. Two questions for you:

    1. I believe you also use the blichmann burner – what is your boil-off rate?

    2. Does wort boil off at a slower rate because it’s not 100% water? In other words, is testing boil-off rate using 100% water an inaccurate way of estimating the boil-off rate of wort?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Hey Eric,

      1. I’ve ballparked my evap rate at about 17-18% – but …

      2. … boil-off is also largely dependent on kettle geometry (surface area of the boiling wort), ambient humidity, and probably a bit of elevation – my evap rate is definitely high, but my boiler is quite wide and MN is pretty dry for the majority of the year (plus I keep the boil pretty vigorous).

      Wort will be fractionally denser than water and so have a slightly higher boiling point, but not so much that it’d severely skew gauging your system’s evap rate with plain water. Hope this helps!

      • Thanks MD. It is helpful to know you’re approx. evap rate as a reference point. I also use a wide kettle – I use the 10 gallon megapot from northern brewer. I tested again tonight with a bit of a slower boil and I lost 2 gallons this time. You said your approx. evap rate is 17-18% and that you consider that to be high. Should I be concerned that I’m seeing a 28-32% evap rate (2/7 and 2.25/7)?

        • Not necessarily – it’s definitely possible to plan around a high evap rate (collect more wort, top up kettle, etc), and as long as you’re hitting targets it can just be a quirk of a system. Do you have the shutter wide open and the flame cranked to 10? If so, I wonder if just having 6-7 gallons of wort instead of 6-7 gal. of water in a 10 gallon pot would require a lower-enough heat (to avoid boilover) to affect evap rate.

  33. Thanks for the quick response. The shutter is wide open but the regulator is not cranked. I’d say it’s maybe halfway or so but that’s a guess.

    I’m brewing tomorrow and I’m going to plan around a 2 gallon evap rate. If it ends up being less, should I keep boiling until I hit the target gravity, or should I just add some DME?

    Thanks again MD. Really appreciate what you’re doing here with this blog.

  34. I’ve been inspired by your Brewing TV episode on brewing topless to try my hand at it. I’m planning on making a British Mild around 3.5% ABV with the Wyeast 1068 strain. Would this be a good candidate based on its ester profile? Also, I want to top crop some yeast to pitch to a oatmeal stout. Will I get enough yeast from top cropping to pitch without making a starter? Generally I either pitch on top of a yeast cake or do a rinse and re-use within 7-10 days. I’m concerned that this yeast may be hard to rinse because of its flocculent ways. Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks Big D.

    • Hey Mike, thanks for the questions – I’ll try to answer point by point:

      Yes, 1968 (we’re talking about the same strain, right?) makes for a great mild (and oatmeal stout); you should be able to harvest enough cells by top-cropping to pitch directly into a new wort, assuming it’s not an enormous increase in OG (e.g., mild to barley wine); its flocculence plus its love for the surface of the fermenter can make it a bit finicky for bottom-cropping (but that can be overcome with time plus some finings); I could forsee some challenges with diacetyl reduction if too much yeast is skimmed too soon, so listen to the beer, as the man says. Have fun!

  35. Hey MD,
    I just picked up a pack of 1099 and hoping to build it up through a few brews before tackling a Sweet Stout. What low gravity beers would you recommend I start with that this yeast would work well with?

    • Hey Adam,

      The obvious choice would be ordinary bitter, but for some off-the-beaten-path options I’d also consider it for a mild (especially a pale mild), a low-grav brown porter, or a cream ale. Have fun!

  36. MD,
    Thanks for the help with the topless fermentation. You were right that it is the 1968 yeast strain. I’m at about the 27 hour mark since pitching. I’m about to skim the scum off and rouse the yeast. I have two questions. If I brew the oatmeal stout tomorrow and pitch some of the krausen will that be enough to ferment if the OG is about 1.050 and still leave enough for the mild to ferment? Secondly, everything I read says that I need to rack to secondary after the initial fermentation but I’m wondering if it would be better/ok to just put the lid and airlock on? I figure this prevents issues such as oxygenating and hopefully leaves enough yeast to clean up any diacetyl. Thanks for the help with this.

    • I’m about to skim the scum off and rouse the yeast. I have two questions. If I brew the oatmeal stout tomorrow and pitch some of the krausen will that be enough to ferment if the OG is about 1.050 and still leave enough for the mild to ferment.

      Should be. The conventional practice would be to discard the first skimming, rouse, then skim again ~24 hours later and use the second skimming for repitching. Depending on the density and makeup of that krausen, 1-2 cups of creamy, thick skimmed yeast should be ballpark to inoculate the next 5 gal batch – YMMV, listen to beer, etc.

      Secondly, everything I read says that I need to rack to secondary after the initial fermentation but I’m wondering if it would be better/ok to just put the lid and airlock on?

      I think it’d be OK; in an open fermentation, strains like 1968 will laze about and respire at the surface if left to their own devices, so that prompt “dropping” or racking is functional – it serves to rouse the yeast and encourage the cells to finish up the job. Whether you rack or just rouse again and cover up the primary, warming the fermentor after attenuation is mostly complete will also help encourage VDK/diacetyl reduction.

  37. Hey MD. Couple of questions for you today:

    1. I wasn’t able to make it to your presentation on yeast at the BBSU beer school on Wednesday. Was it recorded?

    2. My Harpoon Winter Warmer clone was racked to secondary this morning so it’s time to start planning my spice additions. I’ll be adding cinnamon and nutmeg. Would you recommend doing a tincture or should I just sprinkle it right into the beer? If a tincture is the way to go, any helpful hints for making it? Should I use vodka or something else? How much liquid do I need? How long do I need to wait to get a good extract?

    Thanks as always.

    • Hey Eric!

      1. I don’t believe so.
      2. If it was my beer, and I were using powdered cinnamon and powdered or grated nutmeg, then I’d opt to just sprinkle it right in; you could do a tincture with a couple ounces of vodka, but I’m guessing it would become more of a slurry.

      Hope this helps, have fun with the Harpoon clone!

  38. Mike,
    So I brewed up a batch of my house ale yesterday (about 1.049 OG and uses 1056) and tucked it away in my fermentation chamber. With the changing of the seasons, it was the first time I needed to switch the temp controller from cooling to heating, which I did. However, I forgot to unplug the fridge and plug in the heater! Long story short, I woke up this morning, made a cup of coffee, and went down to the basement to check on my batch, only to discover a reading of 48 degrees! I have since plugged in the heater and it is steadily climbing. At this time, I am less than 24 hours from pitching–I finished the brew yesterday around 9:30 am. Do you think just ramping the temp back up will be sufficient, should I give it a little swirl, or should I throw some US-05 in there for insurance? Any impact on the fermentation do you think?

    • Hey Joe,

      Assuming a healthy, highly viable pitch (fresh pack, starter, etc.), I’m guessing the beer will be totally fine – maybe just some highly-suppressed ester formation due to the cells switching on once the wort temp climbs into the very basement of its range. I’d just let the temp ramp up gradually to avoid shock (i.e., don’t crank the heater all the way up at once), and rouse or swirl the vessel like you mentioned to make sure cells get into suspension.

      • Thanks, Mike.

        Just for the sake of closure, all is well in the fermentation neighborhood here. Things are bubbling along. The fermwrap heater heated it back up gently as you suggested. I will be interested to see if there is any impact on the finished product, but even with the big chill the batch was visibly fermenting by early afternoon. I also want to say that I really enjoy what you are doing with this blog and with/for homebrewing in general.


  39. Dawson,

    Christmas is quickly approaching, which means that with the help of Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick, I will soon be able to upgrade/add-on to my brewing system/equipment. I improve one piece at a time, a la Johnny Cash.

    I do BIAB, now, but I’m considering moving up to MLT/HLT all grain brewing, in the near future. I have found that, for a “similar” cost, I could get a two cooler MLT/HLT set up OR a stainless kettle with thermometer, valve, and false bottom for a MLT.

    I really like the idea of having the ability to direct fire the mash tun for multi-step mashing and heat to mash out without the hassle of adding hot or cool water to adjust the temp. If I would go that route, I would need to hold off on the HLT for a while, though. Which means I would need to batch sparge in the meantime, instead of fly sparging.

    I just wanted to get your take on the pros and cons of either situation and find out how important you feel multi step mashing is, particularly to lager brewing, vs a single infusion. I have not done lagers, so far, but would definitely like the ability to do so.

    Which do you think would be the better investment?



    • This might be worth kicking out to a larger audience for debate, but in the interest of a semi-prompt reply: I personally highly value the option of easily doing multi-temp mashes for not just lagers but Hefeweizens and other things. I don’t have an axe to grind either way on sparge techniques – I came up on fly sparging and still like to do it that way, but it’s strictly personal preference.

      Also – kudos for the Johnny Cash reference. With a little bit of help from an a-dapter kit, you’ll have your system running just like a song.

      • too bad I can’t land a job at blichmann and roll in there with a big lunch box, every day, to make these upgrades a little easier.

        Thanks for the input. My main interest in the stainless kettle is the ease of adjusting mash temps, as I’d mentioned, but given that I’m able to upgrade so infrequently, I want to ensure that what I get is an investment; something that will last my entire homebrewing career and I feel that the stainless MLT offers that more than the cooler setup. I don’t want to sacrifice quality for haste.

        I’m thinking that I will probably go that route and pickup or build a HLT, on the next round.

        Thanks again!

  40. MD,
    I’ve been looking over old literature regarding Doppelbock’s and have a question about Decoction mashing. One recipe lists mash rests at 1-133, 2-145, 3-158, MO-Decoction/Boil. Is this a triple decoction schedule or is it step mashing? If I try to replicate would I strike in to hit 133 and then do the steps as listed? What would the final step be?

    • It depends on how the mash gets from one rest temp to the next – if the temp is raised through direct (or indirect) heat or infusions of hot water, then it’s a step mash; for it to be a decoction mash, a portion of the thick mash would need to be removed, heated to boiling, and then returned to the main mash to bring the overall temp up to the next rest. Regardless of the method of raising the temp, either mash technique would aim to achieve the same temps in the same order. Does that make sense?

  41. Mike,
    I have a California Common fermenting in the basement right now and am thinking of what to do with the Wyeast 2112 yeast when this batch is done. Any thoughts on India Pale Lagers or even a Black IPL? I was wondering if the 2112 would be attenuative enough for that type of beer and just looking for advice in general for brewing that sort of hoppy style with a lager yeast.

    • Black India Pale Lager – take that, beer style police!

      I had an excellent Black IPL at Don O’s house a while back, and he used 2112 – based on that, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. As you noted, it’s not a highly-attenuative strain, so maybe adjust for that through mash temps and/or IBU levels when formulating the recipe.

  42. Hey Mike,
    I have been brewing for 7 years and can honestly say that I am a newb to brewing IPAs. I am having an issue with hop utilization. I have a feeling it is the fact that I am using acid to lower my pH. My water profile/mineral additions should give me a nice bitter note to my recently brewed IPA, but it came out rather muted. I will be performing an experimental IPA with no acid addition next week. I just wanted to get your thoughts on this.

    P.S. – Are you planning on attending the NHC in Grand Rapids next year? I

    • Hey Joe,

      Thanks for the meaty question – I’m worried that a good answer may require more info, though.

      Would I be correct in assuming you’ve already ruled out variables like boil vigor and volume, pellet vs. whole hops, and things like FG/attenuation which would affect perception of bitterness? Has it been an issue for styles other than IPA? And this was an American-style IPA?

      Did you measure the preboil pH of the recent IPA wort by any chance? My gut is that if the pH was indeed low enough to have a significant adverse effect on hop utilization, you’d see problems crop up elsewhere as well (mash efficiency, yeast health, etc.). If that’s not the case, I’d look at other factors first: the recipe, the quality/freshness of hops used, doublecheck the settings on the IBU calculator. Maybe do a side-by-side tasting with a commercial beer that has a similar stated IBU level as the one calculated for your IPA just to calibrate your palate.

      Hope this helps …

      PS – Hell yes.

      • My boil has vigor to spare. I used Warrior pellets for bittering. The OG was 1.058 and FG 1.012. As far as any adverse effects from the acid addition, I would have to say no. My mash efficiency is around 80-85% and I seem to get a healthy fermentation within 3-4 hours from pitch (using Safale US-05). I may have to chalk it up to hop freshness. I grabbed the last of the Warrior from my HB shop. They sat in the freezer for a week before using them. I have never had storage issues with that variety, but they may have been in the HB shop’s fridge for who knows how long.

        • Have you had this same issue with any other batches or beer styles?

          There are so many variables … hope you have better luck (or at least some conclusive findings) with your upcoming IPA!

  43. Hey MD. Now that I’m about a year and a half into homebrewing I figure it’s time to start paying closer attention to my water. I’ve got a copy of Palmer’s new Water book so I’m starting to dig into that, but I live in Minneapolis and since you’re in the area I thought maybe you could drop some knowledge based on your experiences. Here are some questions I have, but I would of course welcome any guidance you’re willing to share:

    1. Do you request water reports, and if so, how do you request them and how often do you ask for them? Palmer suggests requesting a water report monthly. A couple of times a year is probably more my speed but I just called the Minneapolis water department and they pointed me to a website with a “Plant Effluent Water Quality Analysis” from 2012 (google search “minneapolis water facts” and use the first link – about a third of the way down the page is a link to the report). I asked the lady if there was anything more recent and she said this was only available once a year.

    2. Any general rules of thumb you use for salt additions, etc?

    3. What do you use to measure pH? I’ve heard that the strips are fine and I’ve heard that they’re useless. Good meters are spendy so I’m curious what you use.

    Thanks as always!

    • 1. Waaaay back in the day, more or less pre-internet, I used to bug St. Paul Public Works for water reports. The profile tended to be very consistent, and matches up with what they publish online now. That’s what I work from.

      2. Whew … I guess I’d just say use a calculator to help figure out additions to reach a target profile, and then listen to your beer, as it were … pay attention to what a little Ca does for efficiency or SO4 for flavor, etc. I think it’s tough to be specific because water sources (MSP and STP use different aquifers, as I understand it), homebrew systems, and stylistic preferences can vary so much.

      3. I use both – they’ve each got pluses and minuses; I’d just strongly advise staying away from the cheapo pH strips, which are pretty much all minus, IMO.

  44. Dear Dawson –

    Long time listener/reader, first time caller/writer

    I have a question/problem. I’ve brewed a 5 gal robust porter 1.060OG, cold-steep the choco, and Black malts, and added a 1lb of lactose at 10mins. I’m slitting the batch in half at secondary this weekend. 2.5gal – hard maple wood, and graham cracker. 2.5gal – cherry wood and 4lb of Dark cherries.

    And there lies my problem, and I exhausted all forums and LBS employees, I don’t know the best way to have Dark Cherry flavor, without the tartness becoming overpowering. I’m look for cherry on the noise and subtle but noticeable cherry flavor without over-the-top mouth-puckering astringency, or cough syrup flavors.

    Here are the options I’ve come across:

    – – Use 4lb dark cherrie puree and rack on that for 6weeks? Back end sweetened before priming sugar and bottling.

    – – Use 2.5 dark cherry puree, rack on that and before bottling add extract? Back end sweetened before priming sugar and bottling.

    – – Use dry cherries?

    If you have done anything with Cherries, other than Dawson’s Kriek?

    Could you drop some knowledge my way? Your opinion would be very helpful.

    • Yes, I have – with real fruit (fresh, frozen, or pureed) at lower concentrations, it can be tricky to get it to come through as what it is, especially with a lot of other strong competing flavors. Purees are a lot easier to deal with in terms of settling and racking than whole fruit; given the roast malt and wood that it’ll be going up against in your porter, I’d go on the high side and also consider using a small amount of flavoring extract at bottling to make sure the beer reads as “cherry.”

  45. Salutations! I have a question on process with sours:

    Nearly a year ago I started my first batch, a NB Dawson’s Kriek. It’s looking good, nice pellicle has formed. Now I come to the part where I should add cherries. But how? Just dump them in? Put the cherries in a new carboy and rack on to them? Leave behind any yeast/bacteria matter or bring it with? Thanks for any insight you can give me, planning to do an Oud Bruin next!

    • IMO, best practice would be to:

      1. make sure the beer is “finished” (acid level, Brett character, etc., all to your liking) before disturbing that nice pellicle, and then
      2. rack it (beer, not trub & dregs) onto cherries in a new carboy to “marry” before packaging

      Hope that helps – let us know how it turns out!

  46. Hello Mister Dawson sir!
    Wasn’t sure how to get a hold of you besides this comments section that did not have to deal with the posts that you put up and did not see an email, so i hope this is appropriate! If not, i apologize.
    To the question if you’re ever bored enough to answer :).

    Bought some hops recently, and with them was some galaxy (4oz) also got some amarillo and citra (2oz each) and C/T/Z (my main bittering hop anyways). Saw them and bought them, decided to figure out a recipe later. So since I’ve never brewed with galaxy and i would love the hops to shine, but really didn’t get enough for a full IPA and am on limited cash, so those are what i’m working with.
    This is what i’m figuring for a sort of “west coast IPA” with more of a sweeter Two hearted style malt background. let me know if you would change any part of it.

    9lb Golden Promise
    2lb Vienna
    1lb C20
    .3 acid malt
    (152* – 60m)
    (will be playing with the salt additions later on)

    .6 Columbus @FWH
    1oz amarillo @15
    1oz citra @15
    2oz galaxy FO/hopstand @160* 20m
    1oz citra FO/hopstand @160* 20m
    1oz amarillo FO/hopstand @160* 20m
    2oz galaxy DH

    64 IBU – S-05

    • Hey Noah,

      Looks like a cool recipe. With the caveat that this is somewhat subjective, here are a couple comments since you took the trouble to write!

      1. Based on my experience with both, Galaxy and Citra have a similar tropical/guava/passionfruit element (to me, anyway), so if a main goal is to really highlight the Galaxy, maybe consider subbing the FO addition of Citra so you know you’re getting all Galaxy.

      2. OK, this is highly subjective, but – 8% caramel malt may be a bit high by West Coast IPA standards? I know you said you wanted more of that Two Hearted-style plushness, so on the other hand maybe don’t listen to me.

      Have fun, let us all know how it turns out!

  47. Dawson,

    Would you consider a short post/tutorial on finings? Essentially just the what/when/how to use, or at least your recommendation.

    I am in the process of setting up a keg system and should be kegging a double IPA within the next 2 weeks, or so. Crystal clear beer has not been a matter of great importance to me, so far, but it would certainly look nice, in a glass.


  48. MD,
    What do you think of the Cal Lager strain (2112) being used for styles other than California Common. I currently have a Cal Common in primary and would like to repitch this for a few beers in the next few weeks. I’m currently planning a Robust Porter.

    • I feel pretty damn good about it. I’ve personally tried it and liked it in things like blonde ales, Scottish ales, and a very non-traditional bitter (off the top of my head, there have probably been others); I’ve had the results when used for black IPAs and a number of lager styles. I’ve had a couple commercially brewed steam porters out west that I was enthusiastic about, so in the spirit of refraining from bad puns, I’d say full Cali Common ahead.

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