- My recipe calls for some weird sounding item that I couldn’t find; can I still brew my beer? Yes. There are only 4 critical ingredients for beer: water, yeast, malt, and hops – everything else is optional. Most additives are just there to enhance the beer. Obviously, if you don’t have anything that tastes like raspberries you won’t be making a “Raspberry Wheat” – it’ll just be plain wheat beer, but it will still be beer.
- I want to use spices, fruit, coffee or some other flavoring, when and how much should I put it? It depends on the specific ingredient but most flavorings get added in one of two spots: 1.) End of the boil 2.) After primary fermentation. When choosing between #1 or #2, ask yourself: How will this ingredient respond to being boiled? If the answer is “poorly” then go with #2. As far as how much, that is tricky. I say aim low. If you put too little in, it will just taste like beer. If you put too much in, you might render it un-drinkable.
- Should I use yeast nutrient? Nutrient is like a multi-vitamin for yeast. It will work fine without it but the yeast will be healthier with it. Nutrient is usually recommended for high alcohol fermentations or beers that use a lot adjunct sugars.
- What can I do to make my beer less cloudy? The most common thing is the use of clarifying agents like Irish moss or whirfloc. Clarifiers cause particles floating in your beer to settle to the bottom. Transferring to a secondary fermenter will also help more particles settle out particularly if you store it at colder temperatures. Another simple thing you can do is move your fermenter to your bottling station a day before you actually bottle. Moving your fermenter stirs up the sediment at the bottom, so give it time to settle back down.
- What’s the difference between Irish moss and Whirfloc? Not much. They are both clarifiers with the same active ingredient but Whirfloc is stronger. Whirfloc is basically Irish moss on steroids.
- Is it true some beer contains fish guts? Yeah, in very trace amounts… some brewers use a clarifier called isinglass which is derived from fish. Since beer is outside the jurisdiction of the FDA, commercial brewers don’t have to list the ingredients they use, so it’s hard to know who uses it and who doesn’t. If you’re a vegan, this is a good reason to brew your own.
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