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CCHBS News for February 2006

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  1. Recipe Specials for February
  2. Lager Yeasts on Sale this Month
  3. Muntons Bulk Extract in Stock
  4. Hours For the Weekend of February 17-19
  5. Take a Look at Our Website at
  6. Spotlight on fermentation: Brewing Lagers

Recipe Specials for February

In April, Pacific Gravity will feature Brown ales. These beers run the gamut, stylewise and we've got a recipe for almost every palate. Our first recipe special is Melrose Mild. Mild ales are low-alcohol but still flavorful – exactly what light beers should be but almost never are. Best of all, during February it's only $16! Next up is Brown Derby Ale. If you like the English Northern Brown ales, like Newcastle Brown, this should be a favorite, especially since it's only $22 this month. Queen Mary Brown Ale is a good example of a Southern Brown ale. If you were lucky enough to try a sample while we had it on tap, you'll know that this is a great style for folks who don't like hops. It's also $22 during February. Finally, we've got Malibu Brown Ale for those who do love hops. The American Brown Ale style was created by during the `80s by homebrewers who were just discovering the contribution that hops could make to a beer. Think of it as an American Pale Ale with a dark tan. It too is on special for $22.

Lager Yeasts on Sale this Month

February is the best month of the year for fermenting lagers, so we're putting all of our lager yeasts on sale for $5.50. That's a full dollar off our regular price! Whether you've been thinking about making a Bohemian Pilsner, Bavarian Bock or Venna Lager, this is the time to do it!

Muntons Bulk Extract in Stock

Due to delivery problems with our usual supplier, we had to look elsewhere for our bulk extract. This is actually a lucky break for those of you who like to brew English beers, because the replacement is Muntons extract from England. This is a high-quality extract, just like the Alexander's we usually stock, but it's made using British malts instead of American malts. Think of it as buying imported beer for the same price as domestic. What could be better?

Hours For the Weekend of February 17-19

We will be open while Pacific Gravity travels to San Francisco for the Homebrew Club of the Year banquet. However Friday hours are still uncertain at this time, so please call before coming over.

Take a Look at Our Website at

If you haven't visited our website lately, it's well worth taking a look. Our webmaster, Jillian Wallis, has been hard at work and people are now telling us we've got one of the most informative websites of any homebrew supply store! We're also in the process of adding graphics to Fred Waltman's original instructions on How to Brew Quality Beers at Home, to make it even better!

Spotlight on Fermentation: Brewing Lagers

Many homebrewers are intimidated by the thought of brewing lagers, but there's no need to be afraid. The only thing different about brewing lagers, rather than ales, is that lager yeasts prefer lower fermentation temperatures. While ales may be fermented at typical room temperatures, primary fermentation for lagers must be in the 50-60 range – lower than room temperature but warmer than a refrigerator. Achieving this does take a little more work, but at the right time of year these temperatures are easily attainable in the coastal regions of Southern California.

The first thing to do is find the coolest part of your house. During February, it's easy to find an area that stays in the low 60°s. Next, you'll need something to use as a water bath. Those rope-handled utility tubs are great, but a new plastic trash can with a lid works even better. If you wrap an old sleeping bag around it as insulation, temperatures in the low fifties or even high forties are easy to reach. The last piece of the puzzle is to find a way to cool the water bath even more. Frozen plastic bottles of water work well. If using the rope-handled tub, try putting an old t-shirt over your fermenter so that it touches water, then pointing a fan at it to hasten evaporation. You might need to do both. Whichever approach you choose, a floating thermometer in the water batch will give you an idea of the temperature in your fermenter.

Once primary fermentation is complete, you'll need to lager your beer. Lagers get their name from this step in the process, which means "storage" in German. Cold storage is what you want, the colder the better. If you have room for a carboy in your refrigerator, that's great. If not, just keep your secondary fermenter as cool as you can. A water bath works just as well here, if that's all you've got. Once you've bottled your beer, allow it to carbonate. When you're sure they're carbonated, store them in a fridge if possible. They'll lager in their little 12 or 22 ounce bottle and improve with age. While it's true that the colder you can lager, the better, successful lagers can be brewed at temperatures in the 50°s.

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