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CCHBS News for January 2004

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  1. January Recipe Specials
  2. Pilsner Malt on Sale
  3. Beer Smith Software Available at CCHBS
  4. Spotlight on Grain - Important Information for All Brewers

January Recipe Specials

The Pacific Gravity featured style for March is lagers, so we're helping you get ready by offering two lager recipes as our January specials, along with an ale recipe. They both use the California/San Francisco lager yeast which retains lager characteristcs at fermentations temperatures as high as 65 degrees. So pick one of these and show off your lager brewing skills in March!

Addams Family Lager is our slightly twisted version of the beer from Boston which helped make America aware that there was something out there besides BudMillOors. We've adjusted the recipe slightly, based on Carl Townsend's recent article in the Pacific Gravity Gazzette, so now it's even closer to the original. Ordinarily selling for $26, Addams Family Lager is on sale for $22.00.

We're also continuing to feature our recently renamed Anchor 2003 Homebrew Club of the Year Steam Beer! This special will run through February, or until Anchor's lawyers find out about it. This is the perfect time of year to brew this style, and it's only $22.

Sunset Boulevard Amber Ale is our third featured style of the month. It's an American Amber Ale, the staple of brewpubs everywhere. If you're looking for an easy drinking ale that still packs plenty of flavor this is one you need to try. Ordinarlly $26, it's on sale for $22 in January.

Pilsner Malt on Sale

We always feature extract kits but we also wanted to help you all-grain brewers with your lagers, and what better way than a special price on pilsner malts? For the month of January, we're reducing the price of our German and Belgian pilsner malts to $1.35/lb. Do you need any more of an excuse for brewing a lager this month?

Beer Smith Software Available at CCHBS

We've been looking for Windows homebrewing software we could endorse for a while now. The online Beer Recipator is easy to use but has serious limitations. ProMash is powerful, but those features can be hard to find. Finally, we tried Beer Smith - a program that's both easy to use and powerful! We've been putting it through the wringer lately, using it for advanced calculations like decoction mashes and it's been passing every test. We're giving you several ways to buy it - you can download the software from and try it out for 3 weeks, then buy an activation code from us for $19.95, or you can buy a CD from us for $24.95. It's also installed on the computer at the store if you'd like to try it there before you buy it.

Spotlight on Grain - Important Information for All Brewers

Whether you're an all-grain or extract brewer, keep reading because the same base malt this article discusses is used to make liquid malt extract. This information is also covered in Carl Townsend's Ask the Brewmaster column in the Pacific Gravity Gazette, however, we think it's important enough to repeat it here. While we've been lucky so far with the domestic 2-row malt we've had in stock, it's never too early to take precautions.

Letter from the President, by Chris White
Reprinted by permission of Chris White and White Labs, Inc.

The trade press has been full of stories this year about the poor barley crop. The Milwaukee Business Journal, for instance, reported earlier this year that the crop was the smallest in more than 65 years, driving up costs for brewers.

The barley crop creates more urgent problems for brewers besides rising costs, however. The barley crop itself was poor, which has led to malt with higher protein, more beta glucan and other complex carbohydrates, which creates fermentation difficulties. Malting companies expect this to continue for another three to six months, until the new crop works its way to brewers.

Many brewers have already experienced and worked though problems, but some may have not had trouble yet. You're not out of the woods yet, however, because you may have more trouble when making high gravity beers for the holidays, which have a higher amount of malt. Even when the malt quality is good, trouble with certain batches can be apparent when brewing high gravity beers.

First off, you may have noticed that the fermentation takes longer to reach full attenuation. The telltale signs are normal fermentation for the first few days, but the fermentation hits a wall and stops 2-4 Plato (8-16 gravity points -ed.) higher than expected. The yeast is normal and vitality is high, but the complex sugars facing the yeast can be more than they can metabolize.

If given a few extra days, sometimes the yeast can work its way through the complex sugars and reach full attenuation with no further effort on the brewer’s part. The best corrective action for the brewer is to work the sugar profile in the mash. Try lowering the temperature of the mash. Record the best temperature, as this may be the one you will want to use for the next six months. Enzymes can be added to the mash, particularly if doing a high gravity beer. Alpha-amylase enzymes would be most beneficial. If you experience run-off problems, beta-glucanase enzymes can be used.

On the fermentation side, there are several things you can do. Over-pitching your yeast can help by having more cells to attack the abundance of complex sugars. Raising the fermentation temperature once 5 Plato (1.020 ed.) is reached can also help. If the fermentation is stuck, you can employ a strategy used by wine makers, who commonly experience stuck fermentations, due to the high alcohol involved and the low nutrient value of wine. Wine makers will commonly pull yeast from the bottom and restart it in a small quantity of aerated, fresh must. They let this go for 12 to 24 hours before adding back to the fermentation.

It is important to have the yeast active, because it is always difficult to get yeast to ferment in a beer or wine that is already fermenting, because of the alcohol present and the lack of oxygen. So if you add more yeast, regardless if it is from the fermentation or new yeast from our lab, do so only after getting the yeast active.

Also, consider using yeast nutrients if you do not already do so. Servomyces can help because zinc deficiency will add to the problem of slow/stuck fermentations. If the yeast is healthy, it is better able to cope with fermentation stress. If you have any other questions, I would be happy to provide you with further advise. Just write me at

Chris White is President of White Labs Inc. and is a chemistry and biochemistry lecturer at the University of California, San Diego. He has a Ph.D in biochemistry.

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