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Topics - Andy Farke

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If you are in the Los Angeles area, missed my talk on "The Dinosaur in My Beer" at HomebrewCon, and are the odd sort who wants to hear about the paleontology of beer & brewing, I'll be giving a 20 minute riff on the topic at Nerd Nite Los Angeles this Thursday evening. More info here:

Beer Recipes / Red Lager - Recipe Feedback?
« on: December 20, 2017, 03:17:18 PM »
I'm thinking about making a red lager soon, and was looking to get a little feedback for my draft recipe. In terms of basic idea with this, the aim is for something that's in the ballpark of an Irish Red Ale, but in lager form. BJCP criteria or any style adherence are not a consideration. I would like something that tips towards the malt side, and of course it would be nice to have a red tinge.

RED RYE LAGER - draft recipe*
7 lbs. pilsner malt
3 lbs. Munich I malt
1 lb. rye malt
0.5 lb. CaraRed malt
0.38 lb. crystal 120
.25 lb. roasted barley
4 oz. Magnum hop pellets, 60 minute boil (13.2 AAU)
2 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets, 10 minute boil (8 AAU)
Lager yeast (White Labs San Francisco Lager yeast perhaps -- WLP810?)

1.055 o.g., 1.017 f.g., 23 IBU, 15 SRM, 5.0% abv
Mash at 152 degrees

So some specific questions....
- if I can't get CaraRed at my local shop, is CaraVienne an OK substitute?
- I'm looking to add some rye spice; right now it's at 8% of the grist. Good idea? Bad idea?
- I'm bouncing around on the yeast variety; I use 34/70 pretty regularly for my lagers, and suspect it would do fine, but want to branch out a bit here. Are there other varieties folks might recommend in this case?
- Any other suggestions?

*the recipe is modified from an Irish Red Ale ("Better Red Than Dead") from the AHA website:

Tonight a friend and I did a head-to-head tasting of Ayinger’s October Fest-Märzen and Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest, alongside my own festbier. I'm quite happy with how my homebrewed version turned out!

I noted that the Ayinger was a bit oxidized, and probably not at its prime, although what was there originally was pretty good (including a modest yet enjoyable spicy hop note alongside the malt). The Sierra Nevada was decent, but lagged a bit in terms of head retention and overall malty character.

Results are blogged here:

All Things Food / Raspberry puree for marinade...
« on: July 10, 2017, 04:41:29 AM »
I had a cup or two of leftover raspberry puree from a recent brewing project, and was trying to find something fun and creative to do with it. And then I thought...marinade!

The result was pretty darned incredible. Raspberry puree, grilled jalapano pepper, oil, garlic, salt, and paprika, all combined into a delightful marinade with just a touch of heat.

Full details on the recipe, etc., are here (, if you want to try it yourself. I bet this or something similar would work well with most any fruit puree.

Beer Recipes / Lemon Wheat Ale - Recipe Advice?
« on: June 04, 2017, 05:46:38 PM »
Later this week, I want to brew an American wheat ale for easy summer drinking. My goals are to create something tasty and play with Lemondrop hops. I've put together a draft recipe, and was wondering if anyone had feedback or suggestions.


4.5 lb. 2-row malt
4 lb. white wheat malt
0.3 oz. Warrior hop pellets (15.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 oz. Lemondrop hop pellets (6.2% alpha), 5 minute boil
1 oz. Lemondrop hop pellets (6.2% alpha), dry-hop in keg

- 152 degree infusion mash, batch sparge
- Current parameters work out to 1.045 s.g., 1.011 s.g., 23 IBU, 4 SRM, 4.3% abv

A few constraints/comments:
- I batch sparge, and don't have much interest in doing various temperature rests
- I want to keep the focus on Lemondrop hops, because I haven't brewed with them before
- I plan on using WLP320 (American Hefeweizen Ale)
- For this batch, I don't particularly care about BJCP guidelines (although I don't object to them, either)
- I'd like to keep this in the sessionable range (<5% certainly, <4.5% if possible)

And a few questions:
- For those who have experience with Lemondrop hops, is it worth bolstering the citrus with some lemon extract? (I have a decent bit of homemade extract)
- I have been going back on forth on whether to use flaked wheat for some portion of the grain bill in place of wheat malt.
- 2-row or pilsner malt? I have both on hand.
- Other grains or hops I should consider? I have a decent stash, but also don't want to cover up the Lemondrop (part of my goal, of course, is to learn what that variety is like).

General Homebrew Discussion / Achievement Unlocked: Dumper Batch!
« on: May 28, 2017, 10:04:41 PM »
I "finally" had a batch I couldn't stand to was a Bohemian pilsner for which the brewday and fermentation had gone flawlessly. Except for one thing.

As I was putting the aroma hops in for a 10 minute boil--some pelletized Czech Saaz hops--I thought, "Hey, those smell way more grassy than I'm used to for hops."

And then I thought, "Meh, what's the worst that can happen? It will probably just boil/ferment out, and be just fine."


The cooling wort smelled like a freshly mowed lawn.

The fermented beer upon kegging smelled like a freshly mowed lawn.

The carbonated beer smelled like a combination of grass and a touch of vegetable and nothing good could possibly come of that.

Lesson learned! Next time, I'll trust my instincts when adding ingredients. If something seems off, I'll do a quick-change for something better, even if it means I go off-style! (and I suppose this is also a classic example where unwavering adherence to "authenticity" is woefully deleterious to my final product).

Details on the pilsner at my blog...

Events / Dinosaurs in my Beer at Homebrew Con
« on: May 24, 2017, 02:19:24 PM »
For those who will be in Minneapolis, I've got a promo post on my website about my seminar...hope to see many of you there, either at the talk or in the hallway. Look for the guy with the paleontology-themed t-shirts.

General Homebrew Discussion / Buying in bulk
« on: May 16, 2017, 02:26:21 AM »
I just did a quick post for my blog ( on a topic I've been ruminating on for it worth it to buy grains, hops, etc., in bulk? Would love to hear people's thoughts!

Given my rate of brewing, I usually have three kinds of base malt on hand (right now, a 2-row, Vienna, and pilsner), a few kinds of hops (I'm a sucker for the 1 lb. bags of pellet hops), and PBW (50 pound bucket). Given my storage practices and space availability, this works pretty well.

Events / Dinosaurs & Beer Lecture: Claremont, California, March 8
« on: March 03, 2017, 04:16:19 AM »
For those of you in the great Los Angeles area, I'm giving a talk at Claremont Craft Ales on Wednesday, March 8, at 6:30 pm. This is part of their monthly speaker series--my talk title: The Dinosaur in Your Beer: 250 million Years of Brewing History. This is a test-run of some of the stuff I'll be presenting at HomebrewCon!

Location: Claremont Craft Ales, Claremont, California
Time: 6:30 pm, Wednesday, March 8, 2017

For more information, check out my blog post:

Zymurgy / Last Drop, Sept/Oct 2016: Behind the Scenes
« on: August 27, 2016, 03:14:16 PM »
I am super excited to share my story as a homebrewing paleontologist in the latest Last Drop column ("Homebrew for Dinosaurs", September/October 2016 issue)! There was a lot of stuff that I wanted to fit into the article, but didn't have space to, I put together a short blog post with some tidbits related to the topic. Check it out here:

In case it is of interest to anyone else out there, I was able to modify a design for ball locks that was publicized on Homebrew Finds, to elegantly fit my pin lock system. Details are at this blog post:

All Grain Brewing / Where to Buy Malt from Montana?
« on: August 10, 2016, 03:34:06 PM »
I am doing an upcoming "novelty" brew that will use ingredients from the state of Montana--I have the hops in hand, but am hoping to also find malt...I located some maltsters that malt Montana barley, but have not had success in finding a supplier that specifically sells Montana-grown malt to homebrewers. Anyone know of one? I am looking for ~10-12 pounds (enough for a 5 gallon batch).

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