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Homebrew Q&A: Specialty Beers

Question: I recently tried and fell in love with the Quinannan Falls Special Lager; however no one where I am located carries it. I know that I can’t get the recipe for this delicious brew however, any information regarding grain bill, hops, etc. would be appreciated so I can try and recreate this it at home.

Answer: Start with a base of Pilsner malt and add a touch of Carapils or other dextrin malt for some body. Shoot for a gravity just shy of 1.060.

Hopping is simple – use your favorite American hop for bittering and a flavor addition (60 and 30 minute additions) – shoot for around 50 IBUs.

Ferment with your favorite German lager yeast – something clean.

Dry hop with a moderate amount of Simcoe and a small amount of something noble, like Saaz or Hershbrucker.

That’s it. Ferment cool and lager cold. Good luck!

Question: I've seen a recipe for Double Cream from zymurgy a while back that only had three or four ingredients.

The bottle says it’s made with ten. I'm curious if this recipe is even remotely close:

Black patent
Chocolate malt
Pale/Munich for the base
Flaked oats/barley for the adjuncts
Am I even close? I wonder about the lack of lactose to get that creamy flavor and also wonder what yeast you might recommend.

Answer: A little bit of a lot of things is the secret to DCS’s complex flavor. There is no lactose added. I would add a bit of roasted barley and some biscuit or Victory malt as well. Otherwise, it think you’re on the right track. I’d keep the crystal malts to 2 varieties to avoid muddying that layer of the beer. Good luck.

Question: I have been drinking Two Hearted for a long time. Just had Roundhouse for the first time at the Eccentric Café today, and happily bought cans at the general store on the way out. As a homebrewer, Roundhouse is a beer I would love to make over and over! Can you provide any direction on grain bill/hops/yeast to make this?

Answer: Roundhouse uses a pretty basic red ale recipe – base malt, a mix of light and dark caramel malts for color and flavor, some munich and/or carapils for body, then a dose of honey or sugar to help dry it out. I’d use no more than a pound of either (honey or sugar – we use honey) in a 5 gallon batch. Hops: use a mixture of Amarillo, Citra and Simcoe primarily – use a lot of them at the end of your boil, then dry hop with a mixture of those same hops. Again, use your favorite clean American yeast.

Question: So I just cracked your Bells 30th Anniversary ale and my mind is blown by the roast, dark grain, and mouthfeel of the beer.... Even at almost two and a half years old. I would absolutely love to try to recreate this on the home brew level. Is there any insight to the grain bill you could offer me?? Original gravity? IBU's? Yeast strain? Mash specifications? Anything would be amazing! Thanks!!

Answer: I think I have some details that may be helpful for you. Here you are: The grain bill on this beer used a combination of base malt, Roasted Barley, Chocolate malt, Victory malt, 80L Caramel malt, and dark chocolate malt. You may need to use some simple sugars (dextrose) to get the gravity high enough. If that’s the case, you may benefit from slowly adding the sugar during fermentation to kind of feed the beer as it goes.

Hops used are clean, high alpha types – shoot for over 75 IBUs. Add a big flameout strike as well for some hop character.

Gravity is very high – around 1.112.

The yeast we use in all our non-Belgian ales is our house strain. You could culture it from a bottle of fresh Amber or Oberon if you wanted. If you’re not up for that, a clean American strain should do the trick. Just pitch big and add lots of oxygen for a beer this big.

Since it’s such a big beer, you’ll want to get as much fermentability as possible. Mash long – shoot for around 150 degrees.

Question:  I was wondering if you would be so kind to verify the hops in Hopslam. Northern Brewer has this and I am a little surprised they have no Simcoe until the dry hop. What do you think?

-- 1 oz Centennial (60 min)

-- 1 oz Glacier (20 min)

-- 1 oz Vanguard (20 min)

-- 1 oz Centennial (5 min)

-- 3 oz Amarillo (0 min)

Dry Hop with 3 oz Simcoe and 1 oz Amarillo

Answer:  The hops in Hopslam are one thing that our brewing team keep pretty quiet about. I believe the exact mix can vary from year to year depending on the character of that year's crop. Here's what I can tell you:

The dry hop is Simcoe at about 3.5 oz. per 5 gallons. There is a late addition of Amarillo as you've got on your recipe. They typically like to blend in traditional German Hops for a little character in a lot of the hoppy beers. It adds a dimension that I think is unique and gives a little earthier characteristic to the otherwise fruity hops.

Hopslam is all about late addition hops. The IBUs for that beer are actually not very high at all - about the same as Two Hearted. So do whatever you can to get lots of hop flavor and aroma.

- David Curtis, Bell's General Store Manager and resident homebrew expert

This post is a part of an occasional homebrew Q&A series. Bell’s founder and president Larry Bell began brewing his own beer in the late 1970s after working at Sarkozy Bakery in Kalamazoo where he learned about yeast and fermentation. Larry opened his homebrew supply store, Kalamazoo Brewing Co., in 1983, which later became Bell’s Brewery. Homebrewing is still a big part of who we are. This series is an homage to our homebrew origins - one of the ways we give back to the community that helped us get to where we are today.  Homebrew equipment and supplies can be purchased online or in person at our General Store.

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