How Many Hop Varieties Are In the Best IPAs?

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Derek Dellinger, over at did some research by polling for information from the brewers of nationally ranked IPAs.

I'll let you discover the answer over at his site in this article.

Back? What do you think? If you had to choose a limited number of varieties to fit that "ideal" number - what would you choose?


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Over at, I just put up the first of a series of notes about my club's "Troubleshooter's Corner." It's an old tradition that we've recently revived but think of it as a small group tasting with honest commentary and helpful advice. This happens at our monthly meeting while the main homebrew tasting is happening. A few veteran brewers step out and people who have beers or questions are free to come and go and we'll do our best to give advice and feedback and congratulations to those who are kicking ass and improving.

Facial Hair?

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An experiment that we must ponder: What is it with brewer's and facial hair? Is there an aura? A special contribution from the hair? Solar powered thinking machines?

But it can't just be solely the beard. The number of fantastic brewers of the distaff persuasion proves that. Maybe the beer is a vital substitution for something. Maybe it's a extra sensory organ amplifying a less responsive faculty. Who knows, but Denny and I are here for you, dear reader.

Another Reason Why Experimental Brewing Is Important

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As Denny and I get deeper into this book, the stronger I feel the whole enterprise depends on your favorite definition of "experimental". It means something different to lots of people. Do we mean experimental as a scientist means it? Carefully measured and designed explorations aiming to discovering an underlying objective truth? Do we mean it like an artist means it - the avant garde, the unexpected that in a brief exposure can expose a subjective truth and a deeper understanding of life?

Converting the Wicked - Pumpkin Time!

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It's pumpkin time and as sure as my name is Drew Beechum, the internet is awash in question about pumpkin beers. So to aid in answering some pumpkiny questions, I present to you a column all about the long hard slog to convert my sister to the ways of craft beer. This column first appeared in BeerAdvocate the Magazine in the fall of 2011. Since that time, my sister has gone on to brewing a ton of different beers and haunts the Tampa Bay craft beer scene better than I could. If you happen to see her say hi from her little brother.

Repeating Yourself

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Inspired by Janis Gross and her Facebook post today, I feel that its important to say a few words about repetition. So digging back through my archives, I want to present to you the unedited version of my BYOB column in BeerAdvocate Magazine. (You should subscribe - it's a damn good magazine even if I'm writing for it!) This is from around July of 2010 - "Practice Makes Perfect"

Don't You Love It When a Plan Works?

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In this blog post , I wrote about the changes I'd made to my Rye IPA brewing process that I felt had made a huge improvement in the beer. I brewed a second batch exactly like the first in order to confirm that those changes were actually the reason I liked the beer so much more than before. Well, I kegged that second batch yesterday.

Time is Short!

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Since time is always tight, how about something quick that will impress your friends, neighbors and fellow brewers? Mary Izett of Fuhmentaboudit on the Heritage Radio Network gave a talk at this year’s AHA Homebrewer’s Conference on “Alternative Fermentations”. The talk was filled with different projects you can tackle when you have a few spare cycles. To demonstrate, she poured a Strawberry Peppercorn “Short” Mead.

A Shift in the Plan

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As I get ready to head out to Philly for the NHC, I thought I'd announce a shift in the book plan that we're engaged in, now. Feedback from y'all has been overwhelming and a sudden inspiration took over. You see, Denny and I are but two semi-techy-geeky guys who like to play with our beer. It's right there in the site's motto! When we announced the book originally, there was an incredible response of people looking for more experiments and ways to answer the strange questions you can only come up with while you're obsessed with a hobby.

Am I Good or Just Lucky?

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I wrote a while ago about my experiments to increase sulfate levels in my Rye IPA. My latest batch, with a sulfate level of 300 ppm, is far and away the best of the many batches of this recipe that I've made over the years. So, now what I need to do is brew it again, exactly the same way, to find out if the changes in sulfate were the reason or if I just had Ninkasi looking over my shoulder when I made the last batch. That's what I'm doing today...brewing exactly the same recipe, with exactly the same ingredients, down to the same bags of malt and hops.

Splitsville - The Main Story

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Earlier this week we talked a bit about the value of smaller brewing to the homebrewer. Today, let's talk a few different techniques to get more variety out of your brew day. Remember the idea is say you don't want to brew 10-15 gallons of the same beer? (or 5 if you're really addicted to lots of flavors) After all, different flavors are wonderful and sometimes you just gotta fill out those taps! These days this is how much of my brew day goes. Virtually every batch has a plan like this attached to it.

My latest experiments

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A couple years ago I began using Martin Brungard's excellent Bru'nwater spreadsheet to calculate additions to my water for various types of beers. I immediately began noticing improvements so I decided to dig a little deeper. I decided I'd concentrate on improving my IPAs with water adjustments. The main area I concentrated on was increasing my sulfate levels a step at a time and see what kind of effect it had. I decided to experiment on my Rye IPA recipe since I've brewed it dozens of times and know it well.

Friday Fun Ingredient - Tea!

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Today's fun ingredient - Tea! The last time I brewed with tea was for the San Diego NHC in 2011. As part of the giant fleet of saisons that I made for the conference, I made the Jasmine Dragon Saison. It used one of my favorite teas - jasmine infused pearl green tea. Now this isn't the same stuff I used in the Dragon, but a very similar tea made it's way about 2oz (weight) of tea to a cup of vodka. That soaked and was shook for a business week and then strained.

Sanitizing mushrooms - NOT!

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I just got done writing up the recipe for my Wee Shroomy for the book. Basically a wee heavy with chanterelle mushrooms added to it. After trying various methods of dealing with the mushrooms, the one definite thing I've decided is that I hate the "soak them in vodka and then add the vodka" method. It adds an undesirable heat to the beer. I simply chop and freeze the mushrooms before adding them. Many people, though, seem to be deathly afraid of not soaking additions in vodka, to the point of not even trying anything else.


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