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Become a Homebrew Master at Bitter & Esters

Become a Homebrew Master at Bitter & Esters

Brewshop 101 at Bitter & Esters offers classes to have you brewing like a pro in no time

Becoming a home brewer has never been so easy with Bitter & Esters homebrewing 101 class.

Want to brew beer at home, but feel intimidated by getting equipment together and going through the whole process? Check out the Brewshop 101 class being taught at Prospect Heights homebrew shop Bitter & Esters. The class gives you hands-on experience in brewing a beer and will make you want to get going on your own!

Bitter & Esters was founded by homebrewers Douglas Amport and John LaPolla. In addition to having a range of homebrew supplies and being New York state’s only brew-on-premises location, they offer multiple classes on brewing every week. Brewshop 101 takes you through the basics, outlining the equipment needed and having you go through the process of brewing yourself. With a beer in hand of course, we set about brewing the famous White House Honey Ale recipe in honor of President Obama’s visit to Brooklyn that day.

LaPolla takes you from steeping grains, to adding extract, hops, potentially adjuncts (honey for us) and yeast while explaining the purpose of each addition. Cooling techniques, fermentation, bottling and most importantly sanitation are also discussed in-depth. You get a bit of a beer history lesson during the class as well. John and Doug are also good guys to have a beer with, and the shop’s creations we got to try over the course of the class were all tasty. You get a handy guidebook to take home with you too.

Once your brew is racked for fermenting, you’ll have to go back in four weeks to give it a try. Hopefully by then you’ll be brewing yourself and will have something to share at their monthly beer swap. By then you’ll also want to check out their advanced classes, like one where you try the same base beer brewed 8 ways with 8 individual kinds of hops. Or if all else fails, get some friends together and brew in the store itself on their 15-gallon system! You can sign up for the class through Vimbly.

Homebrew Troubleshooting: Identifying Off-Aromas

Aromas, both good and bad, tell a lot about how a homebrew was made. Picking out the yeast character in a smell will tell you if the fermentation was healthy or not. Poor sanitation leading to bacterial infection can be detected on the nose. Even the length and vigor of the boil will contribute different aromas to the final product. Being able to identify the different aromas in beer will help you improve your process and fix problems that you find in your homebrew.

Here are a few basic ones to look for when you smell your beer.

Fruit Aromas

During fermentation, yeast produce fruity aroma and flavor compounds called esters. These aromas might remind you of bananas, or strawberries, or even bubble gum. For some styles of beer, a strong, specific ester production is a trademark. The banana aromas from a good German Hefeweizen are completely produced by the yeast, even though some people will insist they blend a Chiquita in every batch. American ales often have a character that may not be attributable to any specific fruit, but is just described as "fruity".

An ester aroma is not considered a negative character by itself. The problem with esters comes when they begin to overpower the rest of the beer. If every homebrew you make smells like strawberry bubblegum or freshly cut pineapple, you will want to start making adjustments to the fermentation part of your brewing process.

Temperature control during the first 48 hours of fermentation plays the biggest role in ester production. As a rule of thumb for ale yeasts, fermentation in the 60°F to 63°F range will produce low esters while the 67° to 70° range will cause a high ester production. Every yeast strain is different—some naturally produce more fruit characteristics than others—but lower fermentation temperatures will always produce fewer esters.

Plastic or "Band-Aid" Aromas

Phenols, whose aromas range from pleasant clove-like to unpleasant plastic, also can be produced by yeast. But yeast rarely produce enough phenolic aromas to be overwhelming. If a homebrew has a distinct Band-Aid aroma, it is most likely caused by a bacterial or wild yeast infection. Infections of this nature can be accompanied by an extreme amount of haze in the beer and highly over-carbonated bottles.

Proper sanitation will fix this problem every time. Be sure that every fermentation bucket or carboy is clean before you sanitize it, and don't let anything come in contact with the beer unless it is cleaned and sanitized. Some phenols can also form if there is bleach residue in the fermenting vessel or bottles. Always use Idophor or Star San to sanitize your brewing equipment instead of bleach.

Butter or Butterscotch Aromas

Diacetyl, the same compound that is used to flavor microwave popcorn, is produced by yeast at the beginning of fermentation. There are some British ales where diacetyl is considered to be acceptable at low levels, but in most styles it is undesirable. This compound is made by yeast as they begin fermenting, but it is also reabsorbed by yeast as they finish their job and go into dormancy.

Detecting butter aromas and flavors in homebrew means that the yeast did not have the opportunity to reabsorb the diacetyl they produced. To fix this, allow fermentation to completely finish before transferring to a secondary fermentation vessel or before bottling. If you fermented at a cooler temperature, such as 60°F or below, warm the beer up about 10° F for a day to give the yeast motivation to clean up the undesirable compounds.

Cooked Vegetables or Creamed Corn Aromas

There's good news and bad news about this off-aroma. The bad news is that nobody wants to drink a homebrew that smells like creamed corn. The good news is that it's an easy thing fix in future homebrew once you've identified the smell. This aroma originates from a compound called Dimethyl Sulfide, abbreviated DMS. It is found most often in light colored beer, but it can be present in dark beer as well. If you make extract homebrew you probably won't have to worry about DMS, but it is something to be aware of as you move on to grain based recipes.

The compounds in wort that create DMS evaporate very quickly, so this off-aroma can be corrected simply by boiling the wort more vigorously. The lid of your brew kettle should always be left partially off to allow the evaporated compounds to escape. If you leave the lid on tight throughout the boil, the compounds will sink back into the wort as it begins to cool. If you are unable to boil the wort more vigorously due to the limitations of your burner, consider doing a 90 minute boil instead of the usual 60 minute boil.

Smell something strange in your homebrew? Feel free to ask about it in the comments!

Become a Homebrew Master at Bitter & Esters - Recipes

About six homebrewers signed up for the morning session (there was an afternoon session, as well) to brew Prima Pils on Bitter & Esters three-tier HERMS brewing system. Below are chronological photos of the first part of the brew session.

The idea behind the "Brew Like a Pro" series is to get not only detailed technical advice from a subject beer's brewer, but, if possible, the exact same ingredients as well -- the same malt and the same hops (probably not the exact same water, though). And, if possible, have a representative from the brewery on hand to assist with the brew, and provide general information about the brewery and specific information about the beer being brewed.

Tim, who is spearheading the program, said that one of the goals is to showcase the best examples of established commercial styles by the breweries considered to be exceptional in brewing those styles. It also demonstrates an interesting point -- homebrewers can make exceptional beers. You don't have to be a pro to brew like a pro!

Sean of Victory gave the group the "Victory story" [bonus podcast], about how Bill and Ron started the brewery. He also spoke about Prima Pils and the pilsner style.
Victory's History bonus podcast

Tim said that he's looking forward to approaching other breweries about having their beers cloned at the Bitter & Esters laBREWtory, maybe even some from Europe and Scandinavia. Keep an eye on their website and Facebook page for updates, and for the locations and dates when the Prima Pils clone will be available.

Citra Pale Ale Recipe Details and Instructions

Batch size: 6 gallons
Original Gravity: 1.056
Final Gravity: 1.011
ABV: 5.9%
IBU: 35

11 lbs. 2-Row (90%)
.75 lbs Crystal 40L (6%)
.5 lbs CaraPils (4%)


Citra AA% = 12
Cascade AA% = 6

.5 oz Citra (60 min)
.5 oz Citra (15 min)
.5 oz Cascade (15 min)
.5 oz Citra (0 min)
.5 oz Cascade (0 min)
.5 oz Citra (dry hop)
1 oz Cascade (dry hop)


WLP001 California Ale yeast with 2 liter yeast starter.

Extract Option:

Replace the 2-Row with 8.25 lbs light liquid malt extract. Add half of the extract in the beginning and half with 15 minutes left in the boil to preserve the lighter color of this beer.


Mash at 154F. Cool to 66F and pitch yeast. Ferment at 68F until fermentation stops, then transfer to secondary and dry hop for 7 days. Carbonate to 2.2 volumes.

Video Transcript: Today I am brewing one of the first beer styles that I ever made? American pale ale. What are you doing here? It’s not tasting time. Hmm…

I’m Martin Keen taking the Homebrew challenge to brew 99 beers in 99 weeks. And I have a special guest. Hello, welcome Lauren. So normally we’ll see you in the tasting. Um, how familiar are you with the whole brewing part?

I’m not familiar at all. So I kind of want to learn the process of what actually goes into making the beers myself.

I heard it that when you watch back these videos, you just fast forward over the whole bit of me making the beer and just watch yourself tasting.

Yeah, I go to the good part, like when I’m on the screen. So…

Let’s make a start with American pale ale, Lauren. Okay. What is this? Yeah, so this is some suspicious powder. Yeah. What do I do with it? Um, dump it in to the water in here. Yep. Okay. And then just give it a rinse around so that we can get in, like put it in. Yeah. Okay.

So what we’re doing here is we’re just balancing the water with some salts. It’s warm, it’s warm, it’s 158 Fahrenheit. So we get the brewing water fairly warm for the mash, the water salts we’ve added simply just to balance out the water.

We added epsum salt, gypsum, and calcium chloride. In addition, we’re gonna need some lactic acid to bring the pH down as well. So if you could kindly add three milliliters of lactic acid.

So I’m about halfway through my Homebrew challenge. Now I’ve done a little bit over 50 beers and I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about some of our favorites. Right.

So if you’re trying to think, well, which beer style should I brew? There’s a lot to choose from now. Um, so maybe we can give you some guidance about what your next beer should be.

So far. I’d have to say my favorite light one was the one we just did the hazy New England IPA. Um, I liked that one. It’s more on my taste level. Like I liked the kind of hoppiness to it. Um, it wasn’t too overpowering. Um, I liked the haze on it just because that’s different as well. So I think that was definitely my favorite light one. Yeah.

I’ve quite enjoyed the German lagers that we did. Um, and there were a lot of those, but I think my favorite beer so far has been the German Festbier.

So, um, when you think of Oktoberfest, you probably think of Marzen, it’s kind of a dark orange kind of heavy drinking lager. Um, but actually most October fests’ serve Festbier, which is a much lighter version of that. And I’m not sure I’d have tried it and it was delicous.

Yeah, I think I was unfortunate that I didn’t actually get to try that one, but I did hear so much good about it. And so maybe you need to do it again one day.

Yeah, yeah. I’d be happy to do that one again for sure. All right. So let’s, uh, let’s get making some beer. Okay.

I’ll talk a little bit about what’s in this bag of milled grainn in a moment, but let’s get it added in.

Okay. Just the whole thing. Just dump it in. It looks like animal feed. All right. So there’s no actual mashing to it. I thought it was like mash, like mashed potatoes?

Ah, well, it is a good idea to give the mash a stur. That’s a whisk, whisk, not a mash, a whisk. So you just take that.

And it was just making sure there’s no clumps. If there’s, if it’s all clumped up in balls, then it’s not going to be very efficient getting the water through it. Gotcha. Right. Yeah. It looks good. You mashed, I whipped.

Well, I whisk, so what do these numbers mean?

Or this time that I’m here is the temperature in the mash. I’ve got a thermometer here. That’s, that’s measuring that. And then this is the temperature that we want to get it to. So to turn the heat on, we want to heat this up to 152F. Okay. That’s cool.

We mash at 152 Fahrenheit. Okay.

What about dark beers? I’ve got to tell you my favorite dark beer so far has got to be Irish Stout. And that’s one of my favorite styles anyway, but this one, this one was interesting because for the first time I didn’t serve it on nitro. I just serve it on CO2.

Um, and yet I still got exactly what I’d want out of a dry Irish Stout. Very much like a Guinness mouthfeel. Um, absolutely delicious.

I took a great liking to the oatmeal stout. Um, I was super surprised with the taste of it. The how light it tasted, cause not a big fan of dark beers. I think they are too heavy, but that one was just on the top of all the ones that we tried.

You might think of American pale ale as being a less hoppy version of an IPA. But this style actually has its origins from English pale ale.

And whereas English pale ale emphasizes earthy and floral tones, American pale ale focuses more on citrus and fruit.

Now I’m going to build a beer here with an original gravity of 10 54 giving about a 5% beer and the grist for this one is reasonably simple. So I’m going to start with 2 row moat and that’s going to make up 81% of my grist to that, to add a little bit of basketry sweetness, I’m going to add 9% of caramel 20.

I’m also going to add 5% each of victory malt and Cara Pils.

All right, got another one for you. We’ve done a ton of British beers and given our heritage, we should pick a favorite.

My most favorite one was the Irish red ale. That was a pretty beer. Yeah. Um, it looks great. It tasted great. It wasn’t too over powering. It was like a little bit malty, little bit like biscotty and it went down real smooth. So that’s definitely, yeah, that’s definitely my favorite.

Yeah, that was a really nice one. My favorite, um, has been the best bitter. So I generally like best bitters anyway, but let’s just sort of discovered that I really, really like best bitter when it has a little bit of pale chocolate malt added to it, which is something that Ringwoods best has, which is my dad’s favorite beer style.

So I decided to incorporate it in the best better that we did. And it’s only, I think 2% of the ingredients, but it just makes all the difference.

So the mash is done just draining down. Now I’m bringing to a boil Lauren. And when we bring to boil, do you know what goes in next?

Is it hops? It’s hops. It’s hops. Yeah!

So with this bear, we’re going to get an IBU of about 40. So relatively hoppy for this sort of gravity. Uh, but not, not too, too overboard. Um, I’m going to add as my bittering hop, warrior hop 10 minutes from the end, I’m going to repeat a warrior again.

I’m going to add a bit more warrior and along with Amarilla and cascade and then, uh, at flameout, Amarillo and cascade will go back in a third time. All right.

So let’s get the grain basket out. Okay. And add in some hops. Sorry. That was a lot of words. Okay. So on the hops?

We’ve done a lot of beer styles that are not ones you drink every day. Uh, and I think we’ve both tasted beers that we’ve never even heard of before. Right? Yeah. So what’s your favorite best style that you never heard of?

Um, so my favorite one was probably the Australian sparkling ale. Um, not only was that a fun experience to drink out of your fermzilla. Um, it also tasted really good. I remember saying that it was a very summery drink. It was like perfect for being outside and it be hot and it, yeah, that was my favorite.

One. Is that the one where we did the awesome Australian accents? Correct.

So what about you? What was the best, all that you never heard of?

Helles Bock turned out to be my favorite beer style, which is particularly interesting because when I tasted it with Brian, I didn’t like it, but that beer aged for a little while.

And I came back to it when it was about two months old and it really developed, and it just goes to show that even if the beer doesn’t come out exactly as you were hoping, it would do initially some of these beers, especially the high gravity ones, with a bit of age really, really come through.

It’s a few hours later. Now the boil was done. I cooled, transferred into this fermentor and, um, needed to put it in my chest freezer, uh, for a few hours just to bring it down to yeast pitching temperature at 68 Fahrenheit. But now we are ready to add the yeast into the fermentor.

We’re in beer. It’s thirsty work.

Now I have one more question for you Lauren. Yeah. So we’ve added in so far water. Okay. Malt. Yup. And hops. Okay. There’s one thing we still need to add to make beer.

Yeast, yeast it is. So what I’ve got here is a starter that I made earlier. This is Wyeast 1332 Northwest ale. This is a yeast that will really accentuate the malty profile and the fruity profile of any beer that you add it to, which is exactly the two things that we want to promote in this beer, given the malt bill and given the hop schedule.

So would you like the honor of, uh, giving the yeast some food, some yeast some food? That means pouring it in the yeast are going eat the sugars. Okay. Sure. In here.

Thank you, Lauren, for brewing with me today. Now you’re going to have to watch the whole video.

We’ll give this one a few weeks at 68 Fahrenheit and see how it turns out in the tasting.

So are you excite try a beer that you had a hand in brewing? I am really excited. Yeah. So take a look at, uh, American pale ale. What do you think?

Um, it is very light, golden color, um, which I expected it to be, um, very bubbly. I noticed that while pouring it. Um, yeah, I’ll give it a good amount of carbonation. I like these beers fizzy. Yeah. Uh, the head on it when I first poured it, it was very, it’s a light head on it as well. It didn’t last too long, but it looks great.

Okay. For smell a little bit of a fruity hop to it. Yeah. So that’s the Amarillo, the cascade, um, coming through, I think.

Let’s try. Okay. I’ve been really looking forward to trying this beer. I love the style of American pale ale because it has hoppy freshness to it without being too overboard and too bitter. And it has a little bit of, uh, an English malt character to it. When I think it’s done well, this is all of those things to me. This is exactly what I was looking for.

I have to agree. Um, I like the APA, I think is like the youngest sibling of an IPA. It’s got all the characteristics, but it’s a bit lighter and tasting, um, and not as overpowering. Uh, it’s definitely all in there. It’s really good.

Now, not to toot my own horn, but I think it might be really good because I had a hand in it.

We talked about a lot about our favorite beers in this episode. Um, what’s your least favorite beer so far?

So there haven’t been that many that I didn’t really like, or wasn’t a fan of. Um, but I got to say the highest up there would be the Wee heavy. Um, I just, wasn’t a fan of that style. It was a bit too like sweet and overbearing for me. Kind of reminded me of Brandy.

Yeah. I would say with, wee heavy, give it a chance, like try it again in six months. So it’s, it’s actually underneath the, the wall here, uh, aging. So yeah, it definitely wasn’t good when we tried it.

Yeah, no, I would try it again. Um, a lot you said aging, a lot of people said aging like of get better with time and it didn’t have time to mature, so I’ll try it again. Okay. What about yours least favorite?

Well, it’s familiar. It’s easy. It’s that damn smoke beer. That smoke, but um, I mean, it’s totally my own fault. I went overboard. I put way, way too much smoke malt in, um, for the style and it just became this smoke bomb and completely overpowering.

It’s of all the beers that I’ve done, it’s well, you know, sometimes you, you have a sip of a beer and like, I don’t think I really liked this. And then, you know, you get a bit further down the glass and that’s it. That’s all right. It’s all right. This is the only beer, the smoke beer, is only about I couldn’t finish a single glass of.

This, because there was too much smoke stuff. As I have complained multiple times to him, like I want the, to redo the beer with less smoke, just to see what it should taste like.

I’m going to have a whole one of those for my bubble bath beer. It’s like, I can’t wait.

Strong Bitter Common Room ESB

Amount Item Type % or IBU
10.00 lb UK Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (1.4 SRM) Grain 90.91 %
0.75 lb UK Medium Crystal 50-65L (56.5 SRM) Grain 6.82 %
0.25 lb UK Dark Crystal 135-165L (150.0 SRM) Grain 2.27 %
1.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.50 %] (60 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 30.4 IBU
0.25 oz Fuggles [4.00 %] (20 min) Hops 2.0 IBU
0.25 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.50 %] (20 min) Hops 2.8 IBU
0.25 oz Fuggles [4.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
0.25 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.50 %] (0 min) Hops -
1 Pkgs SafAle English Ale (DCL Yeast #S-04) Yeast-Ale

Est Original Gravity: 1.054 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.054 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.17 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.21 %
Bitterness: 35.3 IBU Calories: 241 cal/pint
Est Color: 10.4 SRM Color: Color

Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Mash In Add 13.75 qt of water at 173.3 F 154.0 F
10 min Mash Out Add 8.00 qt of water at 198.3 F 168.0 F
Sparge with enough water to achieve desired boil volume.

This beer was formulated with the goal of recreating a very traditional ESB with authentic British ingredients. Keeping the grain bill as simple as possible and balancing the malt and hops has produced an easy to make authentic English ale.

It is named for the fact that I can easily imagine a beer very similar to this being drunk in large tankards in the common room of inns by weary travellers in your favorite fantasy novel. Whether washing down a roasted chicken or being enjoyed by itself with friends, I hope you get similar feelings when drinking this ale.

How to Brew Altbier | Homebrew Challenge

It’s no secret that the Germans love their beer. If you were to walk into a local establishment in Dusseldorf, Germany and say “give me a beer,” you would indeed receive an Altbier.

The Germans have been consuming Altbiers for approximately 3,000 years.

It’s made with light malts and also darker crystal malts. It’s brewed as an ale but it has the clean tastes of a lager, so this is going to be an interesting one to brew up. Now I have here the grist for that I’m using. This consists of nine pounds of German pilsner malt and then one pound of Munich 10, that makes up the base malts. Then for the specialty malts, I have four ounces each of CaraMunich I and then chocolate malt for the color.

Mashing in here at 152 Fahrenheit for about 60 minutes looking to get to a pre-boil gravity of 10 44

So today’s brew day started at 5:30 AM we brew where we can, right? Fortunately I’ve got a poor of nitro cold brew coffee here to wake me up. Cue the gratuitous nitro cascading effect montage. So smooth….

Now one of my favorite things about posting videos is I’ve brewed each one of these beers is the feedback that I’ve got in the comments section. I’ve learned all sorts of stuff.

Okay. Not everyone’s a winner, but I have learned a whole lot of hints and tips in these comments. Take for example, my video about packaging in kegs. I was looking at a way to do that better to reduce cold-side oxidation.

If you’re doing pressurized transfers, I’d love to hear how you’re doing it. Well, I’ve got a ton of good feedback on that. Let’s try one of those ideas now.

So basically the issue here is I’ve got this fermenter and it’s full of beer and CO2, and I’m racking that beer into this keg and this keg is filled with nothing but air. And what I was looking for is a solution that would eliminate the air and just make sure that when I’m transferring from this vessel to this one, the only thing that’s transferring is beer and CO2. Now here are the tools I’m going to use to do this.

So first of all, I’m going to fill a keg right to the top with water and starsan, and then I’m going to pump out the water from that keg into a second keg using CO2. So to do that, I have this bit of tubing here. I’m going to put a liquid out connector onto each end.

And this is how I’m going to get the water from one cake to the other. So I’ve set my CO2 regulator to just a couple of PSI of pressure and that’s connected to my keg, that’s full of starsan. And then coming from the outpost here, we have this connected to a second keg and water is now transferring through here.

And then as I pumped the water in the air that’s originally in this keg needs to come out. So I have a gas connector here on this gas post just to let the air out. So this is now filling with CO2 and draining the water and star san. And this is filling with the water from that keg.

Okay, I guess that’s done then. Okay, so what that’s left me with is a keg full of CO2. Now as I start pumping beer into that keg, the CO2 that’s in there has got to go somewhere and I’m going to send him back into the fermentor.

And I’m going to do that by using this little Silicon tube here. And this tube is going to fit into the top of my brew bucket. And this side is going to connect to the gas outpost on my keg. So I screw this on. So this keg now is completely empty of liquid. It’s just full of a little bit of CO2 under light pressure. So now I’m going to connect the fermenter to the outpost here and then the gas post is going to connect here and I’m going to put this back into the bucket and then start the beer flowing.

So now beer is flowing out of the brew bucket through this tube here into the keg. As the beer enters the keg, CO2 is displaced, the CO2 is coming out of this gas post back into the brew bucket. We’ve got a closed system here. Now I have no real way of checking if this has worked or not other than just to sort of check on the taste and the shelf life of the beer over time. But it makes sense to me that this is going to reduce the amount of oxygen that’s getting into my keg.

And thank you so much to everybody who left a comment along those lines. This is the method I’m going to use going forward now. Back to the Altbier…

For the hops, any kind of clean, bittering hop will do. I am using Perle hops. I have got 1.75 ounces of that to get me to an IBU of 37. Then with 15 minutes to go, I am going to add in 0.75 ounces of Tettnag hops. It’s time for the perle to go in now.

The beers come out with an original gravity of 10 52 which is what I’m looking for. We’re going to use ale yeast, but kind of ferment closer to lager temperatures. So I have here WLPO29 that’s German ale yeast, and I’m going to ferment it at 60 Fahrenheit. All right, that’s it. 8:45 time for breakfast.

It’s tasting time. I’m here with Brian. Brian, welcome. Thank you. So the quick notes about this bear, this came out as a 5.6% beer. The final gravity was 10 09.

Now Brian, you’re a homebrewer as well and you mentioned that you’ve proved this style before. Yes, it’s not a real hoppy beer. I think it has a little bit of sweetness to it. Nice malti body. See if, if this beer matches all of those characteristics.

Okay. So, yeah. So first of all, let’s take a look at the color. What do you think about the, the color for this one? That’s a nice, um, kind of, uh, Amber reddish color. Yes. Okay.

Uh, how about the aroma? Um, malti little bit of sweetness. Yeah. Hopefully that’s on point. So that’s, that’s give it a taste and see if this matches your malti and sweet characteristics for this, this style of beer.

Cheers. That’s very good. Similar to the, the aroma malti, just a little bit of sweetness to it. So you’ve heard a couple of these, this is a style you enjoy? Maybe one or two.

This was one that I, I think I had at a friend’s house and I liked it, so I thought, Oh, I’ll try brewing that. All right, well I’m glad you enjoyed the beer and yeah. Cheers. Yep. Thanks for inviting me.

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Masters Championship of Amateur Brewing Medals

Homebrewing is a hobby that starts out as a fun thing to try, but soon becomes an all-consuming lifestyle. That’s why I wrote this website. I wanted to learn everything I could about brewing beer and mead at home and become a master brewer.

In the process of building the site, and brewing lots of homebrew recipes, I now feel I can brew anything and control the outcome. I can brew a recipe, send it off to a competition, take the score sheets with the judge’s feedback, and tweak the recipe to make a better beer the next time. You never stop learning and you will learn something every time you brew.

Many homebew experiments still need to be done by homebrewers to answer some of the questions we all have, and some we haven’t thought of yet. If you love great beer, then welcome to the hobby. Most professional brewers started as homebrewers and are now living their dream, brewing great beer for a living.

So whatever your goals, I hope you will enjoy homebrewing as much as I have and I hope you find Winning-Homebrew a useful tool that you return to time and time again with your home brewing questions and comments.

Please share the information on this website on your favorite social media platforms (it helps Winning-Homebrew get “Google Juice” and rank higher in the searches). You can use the share buttons on the left side as well.

Cheers! If you need a little inspiration about homebrewing, check out this video…

Esters in Beer Brewing

Esters in home brew beer can be both a blessing and a curse. Ester (a fruity flavor) can be highly desirable in many English ales or Bavarian Weizen, but can also be a curse in other styles like lager. This week we take a look at esters in beer and what you can do about it.

What are Esters?

Esters are a fruity flavor produced during fermentation that can vary in taste and aroma between pears, roses, bananas or other light fruits. In very high concentration it can create a solvent-like flavor.

Esters are formed in beer by the “esterification” of ethanol which is the primary alcohol in beer. Ethanol combines with fatty acids and a molecule called acetyl coenzyme (ACOA) forming ethyl acetate. Ethyl acetate’s flavor varies from a light pear-like character to solvent-like in high concentrations.

Other alcohols present in the beer may also combine to produce additional esters. For example isoamyl alcohol will combine and produce isoamyl acetate which tastes like bananas in low concentration. This ester is the distinct banana flavor that is the defining characteristic of Bavarian Hefeweizen.

Are Esters Bad?

Different styles require different levels of esters. For example, esters are highly undesirable for most lagers, so you would want to minimized ester production when brewing a lager. Esters are a feature of many English ales and as noted above in Weizen/Hefeweizen.

Choosing a Yeast Strain

The production of esters is primarily driven by the yeast used. Yeasts have an enzyme called acetate transferase (AAT) which drives the production of esters. A low AAT yeast will produce far fewer esters, so choosing a yeast that is appropriate to the style you are brewing is the #1 way to control ester production and make sure it is appropriate for your beer.

Fermentation Temperature

A second way to control ester production is by controlling the fermentation temperature. Higher temperatures in fermentation result in rapid yeast growth, more AAT and more ester production. This is why, in general, ale yeast produces more ester than lager yeast. So if you are brewing an estery English ale you might want to target the high end of the yeast’s fermentation temperature.

If you are brewing a style such as lager where you want few esters, be sure to ferment at appropriate lager temperatures. One common beginner mistake is to attempt fermentation of a lager at room temperature which will result in a fruity lager – not what you were shooting for at all.

Yeast Pitch Rate and Esters

A third way to control ester production is by varying your pitch rate. If you under-pitch yeast (i.e. don’t pitch enough yeast for your volume of wort) the yeast will reproduce rapidly during the short lag phase. Rapidly reproducing yeast enhances AAT production and subsequently produces more esters in the finished beer. This is another common problem for beginners who often brew with no starter and get fruity esters in their lagers. Pitching enough yeast (or even overpitching) will result in less ester production.

Oxygenation of Wort and Esters

Finally you can reduce esters by properly oxiginating your wort. During the growth phase, the yeast will actually consume ACOA (above) which is a precursor of ester production to reproduce. However this only continues until the yeast run out of oxygen. So if you properly oxygenate your wort it will reduce overall ester production. Conversely if you under-oxygenate your wort it will actually enhance ester production in the finished beer.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s article on esters and homebrewing. Please subscribe to my newsletter for a weekly article on homebrewing.

Anyone else overwelmed by the amount of hops in IPAs and NEIPAs?

Whenever I buy an IPA or NEIPA, especially NEIPA, all I can taste and smell is the absurd amounts of hops. the bitterness is just too much. Maybe I can smell something fruity, but the taste is just a bitter attack on my tongue. i know these beers are supposed to be heavily hopped, but to me they are hopped far beyond what I can appreciate.

The good thing about being a home brewer is that I can brew beer I think I'll enjoy.

Does anyone else find NEIPAs and some IPAs unpleasant? Maybe I've been drinking some bad examples, because I can't understand how someone can find these beers drinkable. If you like them, good for you, I'm not saying you are wrong and I am right.

Erik the Anglophile

Well-Known Member


New and loving it

NEIPAs aren't bitter, they're hoppy. Big difference. IPAs typically are bitter because the hops are boiled and the alpha acids in the hops are isomerized into the bitter compounds we taste. NEIPAs use a lot of very late and dry hopping to deliver the hops' flavour, into the beer, but the alpha acids aren't isomerized into bittering compounds.

Yes, NEIPAs can be bitter, but they generally are not. I prefer my IPAs bitter (high IBU) and my NEIPAs not bitter (low IBU). Very fruity and very juicy though.

EDIT: Regarding your question - I find the hops overwhelming, yes. Not from a taste perspective, but from it's cost.


Supporting Member


Supporting Member

I was homebrewing for about 2 years before i really even started liking IPAs. I was introduced to NEIPAs by a friend on a trip @ Treehouse which are good, but too me sometimes push too far with the overpowering late additions/dry hops.

I really enjoy both styles of bitter IPAs & juicy NEIPAs, but do agree that many breweries have been pushing beyond the limit of enjoyable balance in both styles.

I think it was Vinnie @ Russian River that coined the coined the lupulin threshold shift term. It seems like the amounts just keep going up and become the entire focus of the beer. (also, i may be in the minority but am one that likes a west coast IPA but don't care for Pliny)

You are correct though in being able to dial in to your liking with homebrewing is AWESOME. I've maxed out my NEIPAs at about 10oz per 5G batch and feel i could go head to head with many breweries offerings. I've tried as high as 18oz per 5G batch, and exactly what you said "everything else gets lost" and it tasted like a giant hop bomb mess.


Supporting Member


Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder

Erik the Anglophile

Well-Known Member


Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder

Reminds me of the double down from KFC. Too much is just like not enough.But people are buying it, so I can only watch the show from afar.

OG-wan Kenobi

Arcane Artisanal Ales

Anyone else overwelmed by the amount of hops in IPAs and NEIPAs?


Well-Known Member

Erik the Anglophile

Well-Known Member


Well-Known Member

Bailey mountain brewer

Supporting Member

OG-wan Kenobi

Arcane Artisanal Ales


Supporting Member

I will add that flavors/compounds do register different to different people. Beers that I find to have a mid-level of bitterness, my girlfriend thinks are way over the top. She hates "IPAs" has learned that she loves NEIPAs. I enjoy the style myself, but she gravitates to the 9% ones that are saturated with hops. I tend to pick up a strong astringency once the dry hop level gets to high, where she says she does not notice any astringency in these beers.

At least to me, bitterness and astringency have some similar character but differences. Bitterness tends to sit toward the back of my tongue and build through the aftertaste. The hop astringency hits early and right up front on the tongue and fades. To me that astringency is a sign of a bad example or one that is too young. but maybe that is just my preference.


Airlock Sniffer


Opinionated Newb

I thought absurd amounts of hops was one of the things that made an IPA and IPA.

Took me awhile to get used to them, but now very hoppy beer is my preference. Though I'll sneeze once or twice while drinking them.

Bailey mountain brewer

Supporting Member


Well-Known Member

I don’t consider west coast and NEIPAs IPAs. I think it’s either lazy nomenclature or limitations from the existing “official” beer styles. That doesn’t mean I don’t like what the brewers of those beers are doing. In fact I love it. I just don’t think of IPA when I drink them other that a nod to their origins. They are what they are and it’s wonderful. Fwiw IMO pure ibus doesn’t equate to good beer. I’ve sample more than I care in so called IPAs that lacked balance, flavor and complexity going for high IBUs.

Man do I love the bitter grapefruit of cascade in an ale for example. I’ve always said if Sierra Nevada came out now it would likely have the I added to Pale Ale. In any case that’s pushed the hop growers to coax different flavors and aromas out of hops (not to mention how different yeasts interacts with them) making for far more interesting options for beer lovers. And the idea of the NEIPAs taking the best of two worlds,- the flavor and aroma foreward of late addition hops from their west coast cousins and the malt and cream on the palette from their English ancestors - is pure genius IMO.

The only way to know where the line is, is to cross it. That happens all too often in brewing as pushing the envelop gets you noticed in a very crowded field.

To the OP, I appreciate that taste is a very personal thing and understand where you are coming from. Could it be a lot of meh and bad brews slapping the IPA on the label? I think it’s happens more than we care to admit. Could pushing hops offend your taste buds? Likely and that’s reasonable. Its great that homebrew lets you make what you like and it’s also great that there is so much variety out there that are outstanding brewers who do wonderful things with hops that the odds added you find what you like. Just gotta keep sampling IMO

Fwiw, I am pretty much a hop head, but every year I challenge myself to brew a kolsh and love the other end of brewing where malt is featured with a delicate hand on the hops to perfectly balance the beer in a tapestry of subtle.

Sweet Stout and Milk Stout Recipes

Sweet stout and milk stouts are increasingly popular beers that form a counterpoint to Dry Irish Stouts. This week we take a look at the history of Sweet Stout, how to brew it and recipes for making it.

History of Sweet and Milk Stout

Milk Stout (also called Cream or Sweet Stout) traces its origins back to Porters. Strong Porters which were widely popular in the 1700’s were often labeled as Stout Porter. Eventually the Porter name was dropped in the 1800’s to become simply Stout. A number of variations of stout emerged. Dry Irish stouts (like Guinness) pushed the limits of using heavily roasted malts to create a dry coffee-like flavor. Other stout variations such as Russian Imperial Stout pushed the limits on the malty or sweet end. Still others, like Oatmeal stout pushed in other directions.

Milk stout and Sweet stouts push the sweet end of the spectrum by using lactose – which is unfermentable. The iconic example of milk stout, Makeson’s stout, was first brewed in 1801 in the Southern United Kingdom. Milk stouts were widely marketed in the 1800’s as nutritious – even to nursing mothers. After World War II, the UK outlawed the use of the word and imagery for milk in association with beer, so many modern examples are labeled as Sweet stouts.

The Sweet Stout Style

Sweet stouts use dark roasted malts to create the dominant flavor which is a malty, dark, roasted chocolate character. Like Dry Irish Stout, they may have roast coffee-like flavors. Unlike Dry Stout, Sweet stouts have a medium to high sweetness (malt or lactose) that provides a counterpoint to the bitterness of hops and roast malt. Some (though not all) sweet stouts include lactose, an unfermentable sugar that enhances sweetness and body.

These stouts are full bodied and creamy, and have low levels of carbonation. Original gravity starts at 1.044-1.060 and finishes at 1.012-1.024 for a 4-6% alcohol by volume. Many English examples use a relatively low starting gravity, while US examples tend to be brewed at a higher starting gravity. They have low to medium esters and little to no diacytl.

They are moderatly hopped at 20-40 IBUs for a bitterness ratio of around 0.6. The hops should balance the malt, but hops is not a major flavor in this style. The color should be dark brown to black (30-40 SRM).

Brewing a Sweet Stout

Sweet stouts start with an English Pale Malt base which makes up 60-80% of the grain bill. To that, we add a mix of crystal/caramel malts (roughly 10-15%), and chocolate, black and roasted malts (10% or more in total) to provide color and flavor. Corn, treacle, wheat or other off-beat malts are sometimes (though rarely) used.

For a true milk stout, lactose is often added. Since Lactose is unfermentable it provides a distinctive sweetness as well as body for the finished beer.

Sweet stouts traditionally use Southern English ale yeast as this is where the beer was originally brewed. A relatively low attenuation English ale yeast with moderate esters such as White Labs WLP002 or Wyeast 1092 would be appropriate.

English hop varieties such as Fuggles, East Kent Goldings, or Columbia are appropriate, though many US variations also use popular American hops. The hops should primarily be added as bitterness hops since hop aroma and flavor is not dominant. Hops should balance the sweetness of the beer.

Mashing an all grain sweet stout should be done at the higher end of the temperature range to enhance body and residual sweetness. I will typically mash this style in the 153-156 F range. Fermentation is done at normal ale temperatures and the beer is conditioned as any other English Porter or Stout.

Sweet Stout and Milk Stout Recipes

Here are some recipes from the BeerSmith recipe archive:

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