4 Homebrew Recipes from Great American Beer Festival Winners

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By Marty Jones

Are you looking to elevate your homebrew to world-class quality in 2022? Four medal-winning craft brewers from the 2021 Great American Beer Festival® are here to help you reach that lofty goal. Read on to get inside tips and homebrew recipes for how you can make your version of their impressive GABF™ winners.

If you are looking for more homebrew-scaled recipes from your favorite professional breweries, be sure to check out the collection of commercial clone beer recipes on HomebrewersAssociation.org.

Waypost Brewing Company – Saison

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Photo from Waypost Brewing Company Facebook page

It’s doubtful that many homebrewers-turned-pro can match the early focus of Hanna Lee, co-founder and brewer at Waypost Brewing Company. “I spent an entire year homebrewing nothing but saison,” she says. That obsession was foretelling: Waypost, a Fennville, Michigan farm brewery near the coast of Lake Michigan, is a saison-centric brewery that won a 2021 GABF gold medal in its favorite category.

While there are numerous versions of saison, Lee’s medal winner is a minimalist, yeast-driven charmer. “It is subtly complex, without any accoutrements,” she notes. “It’s clean, simple and focused, but there is beauty in that.” Lee recommends that homebrewers make their version with a “what’s on hand?” seasonal spirit in mind, and with local ingredients when possible. “Your own brewing style and location,” she notes, “will put a thumbprint on this beer.”

While she would be happy to return to saison-only brewing, Lee makes other styles for the Waypost lineup. But each time she makes a saison, it’s special. “It’s what I love most about my work,” Lee says. “Leaning into the process, striving for incremental improvement, and having a sense of curiosity to revisit things that are seemingly familiar, to discover something new.”

Waypost Saison Homebrew Recipe

Specifications

  • Batch Volume: 5 US gal. (18.93 L)
  • Original Gravity: 1.043 (10.75°P)
  • Final Gravity: 1.004 (1°P)
  • Alcohol: 5.1% by volume
  • Color: 3.0 SRM
  • Bitterness: 20 IBU
  • Efficiency: 75%

Brewing Ingredients

  • 4 lb. (1.81 kg) Pilsner malt
  • 3.25 lb. (1.47 kg) spelt malt
  • 0.75 lb. (340 g) flaked wheat
  • 0.25 oz. (7 g) Magnum hops* (first wort hop)
    *We use Michigan-grown, 18.9% a.a., though any clean bittering hop will be fine
  • Saison yeast, a high attenuator. There are so many to choose from, and so many to love! At the brewery, it is a blend.

Brewing Notes

Infusion mash at 149°F (65°C) for 60 mins. Once converted, raise to 170°F (77°C). Take time with a slow vorlauff and even more patience with run-off into the kettle. Hopping is simply first wort hops. Boil 90 mins., cool to 70°F (21°C), aerate wort prior to pitching.

Let fermentation temperature rise naturally, but do allow time to ‘cool’ condition on the yeast, ideally at 60–65°F (15–18°C), before fully cold crashing the beer.

Sudwerk Brewing Company – The People’s Pilsner

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Photo from Sudwerk Brewing Co Facebook page

California’s Sudwerk Brewing Company can also attest to the power of having a tight focus to perfect a style. Since it’s founding way back in 1989, its obsession has been painstakingly made lagers. That MO delivered Sudwerks a pair of 2021 GABF golds and the judging’s top U.S. Brewery & Brewer of the Year awards in the 5,001–15,000 barrels-per-year bracket. One of those golds was for the brewery’s People’s Pilsner, in the unforgiving Bohemian-style Pilsner category.

What’s the key to homebrewing a version of People’s for your people? “The water treatment,” says Sudwerk’s Ryan Fry. “It’s what will really give the ingredients depth. And since we are dealing with lightly kilned malts, an acidification of the mash is also needed.” Sudwerk uses acidulated malts for that purpose, in its pils and other traditional beers, to uphold its German-minded brewing practices.

Fry also emphasizes the need for deft management of yeast, temperature and time, and practicing unflinching brewing measures (including limiting dissolved oxygen) from start to finish. “A recipe,” he notes, “is only as good as the technique used in the creation of the beer.” When the two line up perfectly, it’s gold. “The People’s Pilsner,” he says, “has been our brewers’ favorite throughout the years, and it’s our most brewed beer. It’s the foundation of our lager brewing techniques, and it allows us to create other new adventures.”

The People’s Pilsner Homebrew Recipe

Specifications

  • Batch Volume: 5 US gal. (18.93 L)
  • Original Gravity: 1.050 (12.3°P)
  • Final Gravity: 1.008 (2.1°P)
  • Alcohol: 5.5% by volume
  • Color: 3.1 SRM
  • Bitterness: 26 IBU
  • Efficiency: 82%

Brewing Ingredients

  • 8 lb. (3.62 kg) Weyermann Pilsner malt
  • 3.25 oz. (92 g) Weyermann acidulated malt
  • 0.25 oz. (7 g) Hallertau Perle hops (70 min)
  • 0.27 oz. (8 g) Hallertau Perle hops (70 min)
  • 0.75 oz. (21 g) Hallertau Perle hops (5 min)
  • 0.75 oz. (21 g) Contessa hops (5 min)
  • 0.75 oz. (21 g) Hallertau Tradition hops (whirlpool)
  • 1 oz. (28 g) Tettnang hops (whirlpool)
  • Water (ppm): Ca 40  Mg 0  Na 0  Cl- 30  SO4 60
  • German/Bohemian Lager Yeast, 12 million cells per ml

Brewing Notes

Use a step mash, mashing in at 140°F (60°C) and targeting a pH of 5.35. Rest 20 min at 147°F (64°C), then 40 min at 152°F (67°C), then 10 min at 158°F (70°C). Mash out at 165°F (74°C). Sparge at 165°F (74°C). Boil for 70 min. Cool to 50°F (10°C). Aerate to 8 ppm. Ferment at 50°F (10°C). Collect carbonation when 2 degrees Plato above final gravity. Drop to 46°F (8°C) to condition and collect yeast.

Monitor for diacetyl and condition at 46°F (8°C) until diacetyl is clear. Slowly drop to 32–36°F (0-2°C) and rack off. Clarify or filter bright if desired. Rack off to packaging and carbonate. Prost!

Barebottle Brewing – Cryo Chemistry IPA

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Photo from Barebottle Brewing Facebook page

“Magic” John Montes De Oca got his nickname as college student doing sleight of hand to pay his bills. But today he’s working magic as the Director of Brewing Operations for Barebottle Brewing in San Francisco, California. The brewery’s Cryo Chemistry offering won a 2021 GABF gold medal in the thickly packed Hazy IPA category. Like Montes De Oca, the beer’s special trait is in its name. “The Cryo hops are the key,” Montes De Oca says. “They help amplify the aroma and density of hoppy flavor without adding a ton of harshness. Using our selection of hops doesn’t hurt either.”

Montes De Oca says that salt additions add heft to the beer’s body and keep it refreshing, while copious hop additions are done with care to avoid oxidation. “Oxygen will wreak havoc, especially on Hazy IPAs,” he says. “The ultimate goal for dry hopping beers,” he adds, “is saturation. Make sure your dry hops are able to fully mix with the beer, don’t stuff them too tightly in a bag.”

Montes De Oca also uses ABV as a tool for creating extra juicy beers. “Don’t be afraid of slightly higher finishing gravities in this style,” he notes. And when it comes to brewing and experimentation, he says DIY brewers have advantages. “We opened with a homebrew ethos,” he says of Barebottle, “which inherently means having a never-ending curiosity. Since we don’t have any flagships, every beer we make is a stepping stone to improving our lineup and our processes.” Magic, indeed.

Cryo Chemistry Hazy Double IPA Homebrew Recipe

Specifications

  • Batch Volume: 6 US gal. (22.71 L)
  • Original Gravity: 1.077 (18.75°P)
  • Final Gravity: 1.020 (5°P)
  • Alcohol: 8% by volume
  • Color: 4.9 SRM
  • Bitterness: 34.4 IBU (calculated)
  • Efficiency: 68%

Ingredients

  • 14.9 lb. (6.76 kg) Rahr 2-row malt (82%)
  • 1.1 lb. (0.5 kg) Rahr white wheat malt (6%)
  • 0.7 lb. (318 g) flaked oats (4%)
  • 0.7 lb. (318 g) Weyermann rye malt (4%)
  • 0.8 lb. (363 g) dextrose (4%) in boil
  • 1.1 oz. (31 g) Citra hops, 12% a.a. (whirlpool)
  • 1.1 oz. (31 g) Idaho 7 hops, 15% a.a. (whirlpool)
  • 1.1 oz. (31 g) Mosaic hops,12.3 % a.a. (whirlpool)
  • 1.4 oz. (40 g) Azacca hops, 15% a.a. (dry hop)
  • 1.4 oz. (40 g) Mosaic Cryo hops, 24% a.a. (dry hop)
  • 2.1 oz. (60 g) Citra Cryo hops, 25% a.a. (dry hop)
  • 1.4 oz. (40 g) Amarillo Cryo hops, 16% a.a. (dry hop)
  • 2.8 oz. (80 g) Strata hops, 12% a.a. (dry hop)
  • 0.7 oz. (20 g) Sabro hops, 14% a.a. (dry hop)
  • 1.4 oz. (40 g) Azacca hops, 15% a.a. (dry hop)
  • Water Profile: target around 250ppms of Chloride with a (0.8) Sulfate/Chloride Ratio.
  • Imperial A38 Juice yeast

Brewing Notes

Do a single infusion mash at 152°F (67°C) for 60 minutes. Collect enough wort so that you are left with 6 gallons (22.71 L) after a 60-minute boil. Don’t forget your Whirlfloc. After the boil is over, drop the temperature of your whirlpool to 180–185°F (82–85·C) and make sure the pH is below 5.1. Then add the whirlpool hops for 30 minutes. Ferment at 67 degrees and do a diacetyl rest temperature rise 2/3rds of the way through fermentation. Just as fermentation finishes, add the dry hops. Cold crash when gravity readings remain the same for 3 days. Drink Fresh.

Ratio Beerworks – Domestica Blonde Ale

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Photo from Ratio Beerworks Facebook page

Ratio Beerworks co-founder Jason zumBrunen met his future brewery co-founder, Scott Kaplan, while the two toured in bands. While sweaty rock & roll venues were a perfect match for sessionable light lagers and pilsners, the men sought something different when they opened their Denver, Colorado brewery in 2015. “We wanted a drinkable, clean beer that had a little hop character,” zumBrunnen says, “that you could drink several of while listening to your favorite live band.”

Ratio’s Domestica fits the bill perfectly and landed the brewery a gold medal in the 2021 GABF’s Golden/Blonde Ale category. How to make this crowd-pleasing rocker at home? “With lighter styles, less is more,” zumBrunnen says. “When homebrewing this style, be conservative on your IBU measurements, and guess lower than higher. On subsequent batches, you can make incremental additions upwards to add a little malt or hop character.”

While Domestica is an ale, its understated yeast flavor requires a cooler room to hone its chops. “Try to ferment this homebrew recipe at 19°C (66°F) or even a touch cooler,” zumBrunnen says. “A basement might work well if you don’t have refrigeration for your homebrew.” With his artful sipper out of the basement and on the GABF medals stage, zumBrunnen is especially proud. “Domestica,” he notes, “was one of five year-round beers that we opened with, and it’s still one of our most popular beers today. We’re excited to have success with a beer in such a classic style and category.”

Domestica Blonde Ale Homebrew Recipe

Specifications

  • Batch Volume: 5 US gal. (18.93 L)
  • Original Gravity: 1.048 (12°P)
  • Final Gravity: 1.009 (2.4°P)
  • Alcohol: 4.9% by volume
  • Color: 4 SRM
  • Bitterness: 11 IBU
  • Efficiency: 70%

Ingredients

  • 4.8 lb. (2.2 kg) 2-row malt
  • 8 oz. (230 g) Munich type 2 malt
  • 5 oz. (140 g) Carafoam
  • 2 oz. (60 g) acid malt
  • 0.2 oz. (5 g) Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops, 4.6% a.a. (90 min.)
  • 0.5 oz. (14 g) Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops, 4.6% a.a. (whirlpool/flameout)
  • 0.5 oz. (14 g) Czech Saaz hops, 3.75 % a.a. (whirlpool/flameout)
  • Chico ale yeast

Brewing Notes

Mash grains 60 min at 151°F (66°C). Boil 90 min, adding hops as indicated. Ferment at 66°F (19°C) until final gravity is reached. Rack to secondary. Allow to condition 7 days before bottling or kegging.