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Other Useful Links:
- How to Make Your Own Homebrew Equipment
- Brewing with Coffee
- Brewing with Chocolate
- Re-Using Yeast
- Yeast Ranching
- Baking Bread from Spent Grains
- Starsan Sanitizer and PBW Cleaner/Wash – My favorites!
- Alternate Sugars
- Fermentable Adjuncts
- Mashtronauts – The homebrew club I belong to (very helpful folks)
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Wine & Mead Yeast Recommendations:
Dry Yeast Lalvin 71B-1122 – This has become my favorite mead yeast. I now use it almost exclusively. It’s also the preferred yeast for Curt Stock, one of the top (gold medal winning) mead makers in the country. The yeast was designed to produce a fruity yet fresh character in wine that would live long after fermentation. In addition to producing rounder, smoother, more aromatic wines that tend to mature quickly, it does not extract a great deal of phenols from the must so the maturation time is further decreased.
White Labs Sweet Mead/Wine (WLP720) – very nice yeast and produces a sweet mead or wine. It leaves plenty of residual sugars, and if you’re using the freezing method to stop fermentation that I talk about in my videos you’ll find that this yeast dies off very quickly with that method.
Red Star – Wine Cote de Blanc – medium to almost dry mead or wine. What most folks who don’t care for sweet mead/wine prefer.
Red Star – Wine Pasteur Champagne – Produces a very alcoholic dry mead or wine. Suitable for making sparkling mead.
Beer Yeast Recommendations:
White Labs Hefeweizen IV Liquid Yeast (WLP380) – This is my favorite wheat beer yeast. It’s a little more expensive than the other yeats but if you pay attention to my cloning yeast video you can more than pay for the difference in cost in 2-3 batches of beer. Large clove and phenolic aroma and flavor, with minimal banana. Refreshing citrus and apricot notes. Crisp hefeweizen. This is probably my favorite yeast for wheat beers.
Dry Beer Yeast Safale S-04 – Great all-around ale and cider yeast.
Nottingham Beer Yeast – Used by several microbreweries. The Nottingham strain was selected for its highly flocculant (precipitating) and relatively full attenuation (transforming sugar into alcohol) properties. This means if gives you a clearer high alcohol less sweet beer. I’ve made VERY good wheat beer with this strain.
Whole Hops Hallertau (German) – There are a WIDE range of hops available, but this is by far my favorite. It has a wonderful almost apricot aroma and very low acid/bitterness level that lends itself to a fantastic wheat beer. This is the same hops I use in my own wheat beers.
Recommended Extracts (beer bases):
Briess Bavarian Wheat Extract – This rich malty, caramel-flavored extract is excellent when used alone or with specialty malts for extract brewing. It is also well suited for boosting gravity and color adjustment in all-grain beers. Ingredients: Base Malt, Caramel Malt 60L, Munich Malt. This is my very favorite base for making wheat beers. Accept NO SUBSTITUTIONS!
Briess Traditional Dark Extract – Produced from a big grist, this intense malty flavored extract is excellent for color adjustment. Ingredients: Base Malt, Caramel Malt 60L, Munich Malt, Black Malt.
Briess Pilsner Light – The lightest colored brewer’s grade malt extract available. Use alone for light-colored beers, or with specialty malts to brew beers of all styles. Excellent for boosting gravity and yeast propagation. Ingredients: Pilsen Malt, Carapils® Malt. This is a great starting point for a standard traditional american style pilsner such as Budweiser.
Other Essential Additives for brewing:
Powdered Brewer Wash (PBW) – My favorite cleaner, this stuff is a GREAT cleaner designed specifically for home brewing. Soak equipment overnight and rinse the following morning. No scrubbing needed! You can even use it in your dishwasher! For more info check our discussion thread about PBW and Starsan.
Starsan Sanitizer – My favorite Sanitizer, a contact no-rinse sanitizer much better than Sodium Metabisulfite because you don’t have to worry about rinsing. It also foams which makes it much easier to sanitizie hard to reach places. Residual starsan breaks down into yeast food so it’s perfect for brewing. For more info check our discussion thread about PBW and Starsan.
Bentonite – This is by far the best clearing agent i’ve used and it’s all natural and will not leave residue in your wine. (See Tips and Tricks for more Info)
Acid Blend – Needed for just about all meads. I would order 2-3 bags to have them on hand if you plan on brewing.
Campden Tablets – Used to sanitize a batch before fermentation. Usually only needed if you’re using un-pasteurized honey or fresh fruit wines/meads.
Potassium Sorbate – Used to stabilize the wine before bottling.You’ll need quite a bit if you plan on brewing as it’s used for every batch. (See Tips and Tricks for more Info)
Pectic Enzyme – Used to make fresh fruit wines. Helps to extract more juice from the fruit. Tannin – Used to add zest (astringency) to wine. Also aids in clearing the wine.
Recommended Flavor Additives:
Elderberries – One of my absolute favorite flavors to brew with. Throw in just a handful for a hit of a unique soothing berry flavor or the whole bag for some serious berry wine/mead. Also proven to assist the immune system with colds/flu.
Lactose – An unfermentable sugar used after brewing to sweeten your wine but keep from fermenting in the bottle (so your wine bottles don’t explode). Obviously not good for folks that are lactose intolerant.
Star Anise – Nice flavor agent for those who enjoy it. It’s similar to licorice and has been used traditionally in meads for centuries. .
Rose Hips – High in vitamin C and another traditional flavor used in meads, brewing in general and teas.
Orange Peel – Great flavor agent for just about anything you make, but you’re better off going to the supermarket, buying a bag of oranges, eating them and drying the peels.
Recommended Yeast Nutrients:
Generic Yeast Nutrient – You’ll need some of this for every batch of mead so go ahead and order the 1lb bag. You’ll use it. I’ve found no benefit in using name brand over generic.
Wine Kits – There’s a whole range of absolute essentials kits to advanced kits with all the toys. I do recommend the advanced kit because it’ll save you $ in the long run if you become a serious home brewer.
Beer Kits – Everything you need to start making some serious beer. High Gravity’s Build Your Own Starter Homebrew Kit starts out with the basic pieces of equipment needed to make your own world class beer, then lets you add additional items that will enhance your brewing experience. You can even pick out your fist batch of beer, all from one convenient page!
Airlock (fermentation lock) – used to vent fermenting gasses but keep outside air out. Also Requires Sodium Metabisulfite (above). I prefer these barrel locks to the snake designs. They’re sturdier. .
Hydrometer – Used to measure sugar content and to calculate alcohol percentage.
Test Jar (for hydrometer) – This is just about the perfect little tube for testing with your hydrometer and it’s the same one I use.
Wine Thief – used for easily taking samples of your batch for measurement. Very handy and cheap tool. Can also be used as a test jar.
Recommended Books – order from our amazon store to support this site.
Beginner Beer Books in order of preference:
Homebrewing For Dummies Amazon Price: approx $13.50
My Analysis: If you’re new to the game of brewing you simply can’t go wrong with this book. I’m a big fan of the Dummies books in general and they did a great job in this adaptation for brewing. Worth a read if you’re new to brewing or as a great gift for someone you want to introduce to the hobby.
Product Description – Want to become your own brewmeister? Homebrewing For Dummies, 2nd Edition,gives you easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions for everything from making your first “kit” beer to brewing an entire batch from scratch. Before you know it, you’ll be boiling, bottling, storing, pouring, and kegging your own frothy, delicious suds.
How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time Amazon Price: approx $13.50
My Analysis: I have not actually read this simply because I haven’t had time but it comes highly recommended from a guy who has probably forgotten more about brewing than you or I will ever know. I’m told it’s worth it’s weight in gold (or beer). If you pick this up and would like to write a review I will be happy to post it here. Everything needed to brew beer right the first time. Presented in a light-hearted style without frivolous interruptions, this authoritative text introduces brewing in a easy step-by-step review.
Product Description – Everything needed to brew beer right the first time. Presented in a light-hearted style without frivolous interruptions, this authoritative text introduces brewing in a easy step-by-step review.
Advanced Beer Books in order of preference:
The Brewmaster’s Bible: The Gold Standard for Home Brewers Amazon Price: approx $13.50
My Analysis: Again, a more advanced book, but this is in the no-loan section of my library as well.
Product Description – The Beer Renaissance is in full swing, and home brewing has never been more popular. According to the American Homebrewers Association, there are currently 1.2 million home brewers in the country, and their numbers keep rising. Tired of the stale ale, bland beer and lackadaisical lagers mass-produced by the commercial labels, Americans are discovering the many advantages of brewing their own batch of that beloved beverage: superior aroma, color, body and flavor.
CloneBrews: Homebrew Recipes for 150 Commercial Beers Amazon Price: approx $10
My Analysis: A more advanced guide, but it gives pretty clear instructions on how to replicate commercial beers available on store shelves with a startling degree of accuracy, from what I’ve been told.
Product Description – You can now brew beer at home that tastes just like your favorite brands with this collection of 150 “cloned” recipes for premium beers from around the world, such as: Pilsner Urquell, Pete’s Wicked Ale, Guinness Extra Stout, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, Dos Equis, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Bass Ale, Anchor Steam Beer, Foster’s Lager, Chimay Red, etc.. All 150 recipes come with separate extract, mini-mash, and all-grain instructions. You’ll also find tips for replicating any commercial beer so you can make your own clones when you discover a new favorite!
Brew Ware: How to Find, Adapt & Build Homebrewing Equipment Amazon Price: approx $13.00
My Analysis: The end-all-be-all book on fabricating your own custom brewing setup.
Product Description – Using this handbook, homebrewers, tinkerers, and putterers can create their own microbrewery that is safe and makes brewing easier.
Wine & Meads in order of preference:
The Compleat Meadmaker : Home Production of…Amazon Price: approx $13.50
My Analysis: This is THE book to have on hand if you’re thinking about getting into brewing and mead making. You’ll want to have this around for reference, trust me. Mead (honey wine) is the new buzz among beverage hobbyists as more and more consumers start to make their own. This up-to-date title tells the novice how to begin and the experienced brewer or winemaker how to succeed in this newest of the beverage arts.
Product Description – Mead (honey wine) is the new buzz among beverage hobbyists as more and more consumers start to make their own. This up-to-date title tells the novice how to begin and the experienced brewer or winemaker how to succeed in this newest of the beverage arts.
Making Wild Wines & Meads: 125 Unusual Recipes Using Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & More Amazon Price: approx $11.50
My Analysis: There is very little in this book on the how-to of wine making but if you’re an experienced wine maker and you’re looking for a recipe book for mead and wine this is the one to get. Tons of stuff.
Product Description – Make Extraordinary Homemade Wines from Everything but Grapes! Exotic wines, honey meads, spicy metheglins, and fruity melomels-there’s no end to the great-tasting elixirs you can make using ingredients from your local market and even your own backyard! You’ll find easy, step-by-step winemaking instructions plus memorable recipes, including: .Apricot Wine .Dry Mead .Marigold Wine .Almond Wine .Cherry Melomel .Cranberry Claret .Pea Pod Wine .Lemon-Thyme Metleglin .Strawberry Wine .Rose Hip Melomel
Mad About Mead: Nectar of the Gods Amazon Price: unavailable
My Analysis: Nice simple primer and a few good recipes on basic meads. There’s also a bit of history here. I’ve used this book as a text book for teaching basic brewing classes. This author does a good job of explaining many historical things about Mead. She has experience harvesting her own honey, and offers several tips on how to make mead. Although I wouldn’t recommend this book for someone who is a beginner, it is a good book to round out your mead making library.
Product Description – Our ancestors used to drink mead in the belief that it would impart the divine gift of prophecy, poetry and fertility. Now mead is being brewed and drunk again, and “mead madness” is once again rearing its head in the world. This text mixes history, mythology and ritual with instructions for making your own homebrew version of the nectar of the gods, mead. The recipes explore honey varieties, yeasts, equipment, and more.
Medicinal Brewing in order of preference:
Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation Amazon Price: approx $13.50
My Analysis: This is in my mind a revolutionary book and every experienced brewer or herbalist should have a copy. This is in my library in the “don’t loan out even to friends” section.
Product Description – This is the first comprehensive book ever written on the sacred aspects of indigenous, historical psychotropic and herbal healing beers of the world.
The Homebrewer’s Garden: How to Easily Grow, Prepare, and Use Your Own Hops, Malts, Brewing Herbs Amazon Price: approx $10
Product Description – Grow Your Own…Brew Your Own! If you have a backyard, or even a sun-facing porch, you can greatly enhance the flavor, aroma, and uniqueness of your homebrew by growing your own hops, brewing herbs, and malt grains. Easy instructions will help you put the “home” into your homebrew from setting up your first hop trellis, to malting grain at home, to brewing recipes specially formulated for homegrown ingredients. When you grow your own organic ingredients, you can be sure they are the freshest and purest available.
The New Age Herbalist: How to Use Herbs for Healing, Nutrition, Body Care, and Relaxation Amazon Price: approx $15.50
My Analysis: If you’re into herbalism in the least this book is absolutely and totally essential. It has full-color photographs of most of the major herbs in both their natural and harvested (dried/powdered) states. It also lists a wealth of information on each herb from it’s Latin name, common names, basic plant and chemical characteristics, homeopathic uses and quite a bit more. There are priceless reference charts in the back of the book with outstanding information about herb harvesting and cultivation in other sections. It’s a bit pricey but it’s full-color and WELL worth it. I NEVER loan my copy out. It’s that valuable to me.
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