Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Perfecting Homebrew

There are very few beers that I brew which I go on to brew twice or more, LimeLight is an obvious exception, as is my strong Thanksgiving ale Samoset, though the recipe changes most years. I have been thinking though of late that one of the things I would like to do when Mrs V and I move into our new house is to get a kegerator and develop a range of "house" ales, a couple of which would always be on tap.

In thinking about the types of beer to focus on, I gave myself some fairly simple criteria:
  • at least 2 session beers
  • at least 1 style which is difficult to get in Virginia
  • one lager
  • to cross the spectrum of colours
Having pondered, I decided on the following:
  • 3.5% - 3.7% Ordinary Bitter
  • 3.9% - 4.1% Blonde Ale
  • 5% - 6% Porter
  • 4.2% - 4.8% Pilsner
I wanted to have 5 beers in total though, and it wasn't until I had the magnificence of Oliver Ale's "Ape Must Never Kill Ape" last week that I knew what I wanted to do, a "Belgian Mild" which would have an abv of less than 3.5%.

Yes, they are all styles that I have brewed before, and in the case of my Ordinary Bitter won a gold medal for, but they are the styles that I enjoy drinking the most and at the end of the day homebrewing is all about having beer that I want to drink.

Naturally I will still make bits and pieces that either take my fancy or are brewed for special occasions, such as my Samoset Thanksgiving ale, whatever the International Homebrew Project throws up and our internal Iron Brewer project with the homebrew club, the next round of which requires honey malt, Hersbrucker hops and ginger.

If you also homebrew, what beers would you want to perfect to have on tap regularly?


  1. Still working on my ordinary bitter house beer, and I may never stop tweaking. With so little grain, I keep overshooting my gravity, and ending up with a best. Either way, everyone loves it, so I get to brew it often and see what little changes can do.

    Sounds like you're going for a row of taps (keezer?). Can I suggest dedicating a tap and a keg to seltzer? Nothing more refreshing when you can't or don't want to drink than a glass of seltzer with a shot of homebrew from the tap next door. Can't say it was my idea, though:

  2. For me, its always been about English bitters, special/best in particular. I can't think of a time when I didn't have at least one on tap. I still like to tweak and change things up from time to time, but the overall character of the beers stays pretty much the same. After bitters, I always try to have a dark and malty brown porter on tap and an occasional hoppy beer for my friends. I'd like to get back into brewing lagers.

  3. I'm rather partial to a good pale ale below 5%. American IPA tasting but without the extra alcohol.
    I like to mix American and New Zealand hops. I have made a few variations this year, all very similar.
    A stout/porter is a must have also.

  4. This answer keeps changing, but as of now... Porter, Scotch Ale, Vienna, IPA, Mead. Yeah, mead on tap. I'm crazy.


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