itle

⇒ What is 'beer enhancer' (will it make my beer taste better)?

What is 'beer enhancer' and will it make my beer taste better?

Using beer enhancer with your homebrew to make better beer


The thing about beer is that is that there’s so much variety in style and taste but there is one thing they all have in common: 

The so-called ‘mouth feel’ which makes a beer feel like it has 'body'. 

Like how a good pint of Guinness feels. 

Like a solid breakfast. 

If you simply brewed malt with sugar you will get a beer but your beer’s mouthfeel will be closer to feeling like water. Which is just wrong, as a full-bodied beer enhances the drinking experience!

To get an improved mouthfeel, many beer brewers use an ‘enhancer’ to do exactly what it says it will do – enhance the beer by giving it greater body and mouthfeel.

Beer enhancers are made of basic ingredients, being a mix of fermentable and non-fermentable. They usually contain a mix of dextrose and maltodextrin.

Such beer enhancers work the dextrose serving as the food for the yeast and are thus used in the fermentation process. 

The maltodextrin does not ferment and thus forms part of the beer solution giving the beer mouthfeel and a true sense of body. It also has the benefit of allowing the poured beer to have a good head of foam and to retain it. 

I have no idea how the science of this part works!

The combination of dextrose and maltodextrin suits the lighter style beers such as pilsner, draught and lagers.

If you are brewing an ale or a beer where you desire a full, maltier flavour an enhancer that also has an element of light dry malt extract will be what you need.


This is often simply referred to as DME.

Some beer enhancers also have hops added to match the kind of beer style so if you are ordering from an online store, check that the particular enhancer's hops matches the kind of beer you are trying to make


'Branded' beer enhancers


The Australian beer making company, Coopers, offer two well-known beer enhancers to help achieve these goals. They are simply known as Brew Enhancer 1 and Brew Enhancer 2. What is the difference between enhancer one and two? 


The difference between the two is one suits a lager, the other ales. 

You can imagine the salty old brewer that came up with those very telling names! 

Coopers include the enhancers with their beer kits but you can buy them separately too. I've often seen them in supermarkets for a reasonable price (and reviewed them!) Side note - never do a Coopers Lager Kit without an enhancer, I have and trust me the results are rubbish. The result was the beer having very little body and the flavor could have been stronger. 

There are some other popular enhancer brands out there too. Muntons, Young's and Copper Tun are well known and trusted by many brewers.

Using spraymalt to add body to beer


You may have also heard the word 'spraymalt'. It can be used as an alternative to standard beer enhancer. 

Spraymalt is a specially prepared kind of DME. Drying is achieved by the use of a spraydrier, a process which produces particularly uniform powders both in terms of particle size and flavour. 

This means a spraymalt beer will be less dry than beers that simply use sugar. Or you can add spraymalt in addition to the sugar for more effect on the taste or your beer.


How to make your own beer enhancer


Of course, you do not need to buy brew enhancer, you can make your own


If you going to make your own enhancer, here’s some ingredient ratios which you could use as a guide: 


Beer style
Dextrose
Maltodextrin
DME
Light Beer
60%
40%
0%
Ale, more malty beer
50%
25%
25%

The quantity to make is is 1Kg per 23 litre brew.

The beauty of the dextrose is that it is apparently a more favoured food of the yeast when compared to ordinary sucrose sugar and so fermentation will commence more quickly. 


Whether that makes a difference, I don't know however using too much sugar gives the beer too much a citrus flavour which can be off-putting.

Many beer supply shops will carry the ingredients you need. That way you can get the advantage of buying in bulk so to reduce your brewing costs.

Adding beer enhancer will likely increase the alcohol production of the yeast as well


When do I add beer enhancer?

When you are preparing your wort - I do it first and then add the malt extract as I think it all dissolves better in that order. You can add your hops at the same time.

But at what cost to my beer?


Adding a brew enhancer to your brew does add to the cost per glass somewhat, however given that enhancers actually really do work (I use them every time I brew), it's my view and that of thousands of other home brewers, that the taste and body improvements are very worth it. 


If your enhancer costs 8 dollars and you make 23 litres, that’s only 35 cents extra per litre. 

Naturally, mileage may vary depending on what brand and at what price you’ve purchased!

If you’re not interested in making your own enhancer but think brand name enhancers are too expensive, there is a happy medium. 


Many beer shop suppliers will do the mixing for you and sell you a 1Kg bag of no frills beer enhancer.

↠ What is dry hopping (and how do I do it) ?

what is dry hopping in beer making?


How to dry hop beer (and should I?)


Simply speaking, dry hopping is when the brewer adds hops in pellet form to the fermenter after the wort has been readied.

The brewer is of course using hops to improve the aroma of the beer and to add some bitterness to the brew (bitterness is best produced by the boiling of hops though). 

This ‘dry’ practice is often done later in the fermentation cycle of the beer. The thinking behind adding the hops later is that the hops aroma is more likely to stay with the beer brew through to the bottling process.

This is because the bubbling process and emission of carbon dioxide via the air lock allows the aromas to escape.

Bearing in mind that one should leave one’s beer to sit quietly for a couple of weeks before brewing to ensure that the yeast has had a chance to do it’s thing, this is a great opportunity for the oils and bitterness of the hops to also transfuse into the beer. It’s for that reason why dry hopping is a popular practice.

That said, we’ve thrown extra hops into our brews at the start of the fermentation process and haven’t experienced any taste disasters.

Beware the sediment factor

A point you might like to consider is that dry hopping can increase the chances of sediment settling in your bottled beer. You may wish to think about placing the hops in a nylon mesh bag or muslin wrap.

Shortly before bottling your beer, remove the muslin back of hops with a sterilized instrument and you’ll be fine. 

I’ve read some brewers raise concerns that this method may reduce the chances of the hops being exposed to the beer. If you do share those concerns, you may want to make a tea of your hops!

If you are worried about infecting your beer with hops, don’t worry about it – indeed hops has been found to assist yeast with fermentation by having an anti-microbe effect on any nasties in beer!

The classic hops choices for brewing are popular for dry hopping: Cascade, Crystal, Fuggle, Saaz, Willamette, Golding, Hallertau and Tettnanger. You can of course dry hop with whatever variety you wish! It’s your beer, you can make it any way you want. 

We would encourage you to match the kind of hops to the kind of beer you are making. E.g. Golding hops is a popular choice for ale brewers.

The home brewer’s last question of how much hops should be used when dry hopping is fairly easy to answer. Anywhere between 30 – 60 grams is considered normal, however you can add as much or as little or as you want. It's all about taste and experimentation to find your personal preference.

If you double that 60 grams to 120 you will be more likely to get a very strong hop aroma from your beer. Any greater amount and you will probably suffer diminishing returns (and hops are expensive!).

Did you know you can grow your own hops?

↠ Where can I buy beer hops online?

where to purchase beer hops


Where can I buy beer hops online?


If you know a thing or two about beer, you'll know that hops is so crucial to making good beer that the Germans made it the law for it to be an ingredient of beer.

You are of course free to make beer whatever way you like but you're probably going to want to buy hops for your home brew at some stage, especially as you begin to experiment with new tastes and flavours.


So there are two questions you should ask - what hops should I use in my beer and where can I purchase hops?



First we will talk about what hops to use in your beer. Certain kinds of hops are commonly associated with particular styles of beer or beer from certain regions.

It's really up to you, the power of buying and using hops is yours! (Did you read that in a Captain Planet voice?)

Here's some commonly used hops that you can buy:
  • Pilsner beers have became nearly synonymous with the four so called 'noble hops'. These are varieties of hop called Terrnanger, Spalt, Hallertauer and Saaz. 
  • Saaz hops are closely aligned with the brewing of lagers, mostly for the delicous aroma that has become associated with the beer. As an aside, pilsner beers are known as traditionally coming from the Czech Republic.
  • If you're looking for hops that might help your beer taste a bit like the classic New Zealand beer, Steinlager, you might buy Green Bullet hops. 
  • America, the land of the free beer drinker, has become a home for hop production and many new varieties from old favorites have been developed. American hops are recognized and appreciated all around the world for their bold, and often intense flavors they imbue in beer. American hops are often described as being citrus like, however that's a most elementary description. Cascade hops are a very popular choice.  Chinook is another popular 'north western' hop.
  • The English Golding hop has become the signature hops of English ale.
  • The Fuggle hop is another popular hop used for ale beer. 
That's all well and good but where can I buy hops? I need to purchase some saaz hops, man! Is it OK to buy hops online? Yes, Timmy, it sure is OK to buy hops online!

There's two ways to buy hops - in person or online. If you are going to do it in person, you need to find a local specialty beer brewing shop.

So get on to Google and have a snoop around or ask your mates at work, chances are they are homebrewers!

Or you can buy or hops online. There are a mega ton of sites out there but we reckon if you know what you want, just order hops from Amazon. There are plenty of reputable beer brewing equipment experts on there and between them, they have a large selection of the best hops to buy.

If you've bought some hops and are wondering how to use them, check out our guide.

⇒ Steinlager Classic Clone Recipe

sexist steinlager advertising from the 1980s

Steinlager clone recipe for homebrew beer


There's plenty of evidence around to suggest that Steinlager is one of the greatest beers that has ever been produced.

Despite the trend to craft beer drinking, Steinlager beer is holding it's own in the market.

Kind of...

Steinlager homebrew recipeThis is due of course to a strong marketing campaign* by Lion Nathan - it's the official beer of the all conquering All Blacks, the fact it's a New Zealand household name and the fact that it's actually a good beer to drink.

It really is, beer snobs need not contribute their opinion!

If you've found this page, chances are we do not need to sell you on Steinlager being a good drinking beer - and if you want to clone it, here's a Steinlager clone recipe that might just help you get an approximation of what many consider to be one of New Zealand's finest beers.

And just so there's no confusion, we are talking about Steinlager Classic, the original Steinlager beer.

Not this "Pure' version of it they market these days and let's be clear - there's no way we are even going to consider a Steinlager Tokyo.

That is simply marketing a new beer for the sake of marketing a new beer.

It has no soul.

Steinlager Classic, now that is a beer that has tradition, aspiration, balls and of course great taste.

A beer that you can actually have a good crack at making a homebrew clone!


style="display:block; text-align:center;"
data-ad-layout="in-article"
data-ad-format="fluid"
data-ad-client="ca-pub-5086055149121394"
data-ad-slot="4443780038">


Let's talk about the required hops for a second

The actual recipe for Steinlager is a closely held trade secret, so it's a bit of a guess what goes into it but well educated taste buds have been able to offer some handy insight.

Steinlager is noted for its key ingredient of the so called 'green bullet' hops. 

This hops is unique in that it was developed in New Zealand and it delivers a traditional bittering quality and hop flavour, ideal for lager making.

It's popularity has meant it's now a flagship hop within the New Zealand brewing industry.

So your Steinlager clone will at the lease need bullet hops!


How to make a good clone of Steinlager beer


So there's two ways to make a Steinlager clone. One way is rough as guts, and the other is your more refined home brewing process...

Making a good Steinlager clone using a beer kit:


You will need the following ingredients:
Prepare according to the usual method of making beer with kits and dammit, Jim - make sure you sanitise your gear!

Cold storage of your lager will be very handy - leave it in the shed?

Extra for experts: If you are trying to make a Steinlager Pure clone (hey, it's your life), note that Pure uses Pacific Jade hops, Nelson Sauvin hops and possibly some green bullet too.


Steinlager clone recipe for more seasoned brewers


If you're into boiling your wort and getting the timings of the hop additions just perfect, here's some a Steinlager clone recipe that seems pretty handy.

It comes from a bloke called Timmy:

4.00 kg Pilsner, Malt Craft Export (Joe White) (3.2 EBC) Grain
0.25 kg Carahell (Weyermann) (25.6 EBC) Grain
0.15 kg Carafoam (Weyermann) (3.9 EBC) Grain
0.15 kg Wheat Malt, Malt Craft (Joe White) (3.5 EBC) Grain
60 min 20.00 gm Green Bullet [13.50 %] (60 min) Hops
10 min 15.00 gm Green Bullet [13.50 %] (10 min) Hops
10 min 25.00 gm Northern Brewer [8.50 %] (10 min) Hops
10 min 0.50 items Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
1 min 25.00 gm Northern Brewer [8.50 %] (1 min) Hops
1 Pkgs Budvar Lager (Wyeast Labs #2000) Yeast-Lager
Estimate: 1.056 OG
Estimate: 1.014 FG
37.8 IBU's

There are other Steinlager clone recipes around but they are more or less the same as this one.

One or two seem to suggest that the beer contains Hallertau Hops but others have countered that was an older version of the beer.

Indeed, given the green bullet hops wasn't first produced until 1972 and that Steinlager has been around since the late 1950's, the beer drunk since at least 1972 has a different hops than what the originally beer started with - which is probably no biggie as it was in 1977 when Steinlager was crowned the world's best beer.

It also won the Les Amis du Vin Award (a renown beer competition) again in '78 and '80 so it's the green bullet hops that helped win the world over.

This article has a sweet history of the beer as it became popular around the world.

* How about that poster eh? Classic sexist advertising from the 1980s. 

↠ What is a wort and how do I make one?


When I first started making beer I was totally confused by the word 'wort' that I kept seeing everywhere. "Cool your wort quickly!" the internet said. Um what?

I now know that the beer wort is the starting point for making beer. It is the amber liquid extracted from malted barley.

In the most basic sense, you can describe the wort as unfermented beer.

Beer makers use the wort as the basis to which start the beer. Think of the wort as the base contents of the potion in a witch's cauldron.

As the witch adds 'eye of newt' and other goodies to her potion, the beer maker does the same by adding flavourings and hops to the wort to prepare a solution ready for fermenting.

beer wort, what is it?

So basically, the wort is just flat beer. 


Like making a cake, if you don't use the correct ingredients in the right proportions your cake fails, a wort needs to be properly prepared.

If you are making beer using a beer kit, then your wort is easily made simply by adding the content of the can to the required volume of hot water.

Boom, you have wort. You add to your beer potion, hops, and sugars such as dextrose or a beer enhancer

If you're boiling your own wort, it's more complicated. You the one who is in charge of making sure you have all the ingredients and that you boil them at the right time.

Mashing is required to turn the grains into sugars. The grains a mixed with malt and hot water for an hour or so in a mash tun. When the liquid is ready, it is 'sparged' from the mash and ready to be boiled. 

This is to extract the bittering, flavour and aroma from hops. This is critical if you want your beer to have the characteristics of beer!

The bittering hops are usually boiled in the wort for approximately one hour to one and a half hours. This long boil extracts resins from the hops which provides the bittering.

Near the end of the boil, flavouring hops can be added. Then, if you're fully on your beer brewing game, finishing hops are added last. This part of the wort boil extracts the oils which provide flavour and aroma.


Chill out, man


Once your wort is boiled it's now time to sparge the wort - that means to drain it from the grain mash.

and everything has gone to plan, the wort is chilled very quickly using a wort chiller.

Due to the temperature requirements of yeast, it needs to be at a temperature which will allow it to thrive. If you put your yeast into the just off the boil wort, you will kill the yeast and get flat beer.

It might taste nice but there won't be any alcohol in it either!

Brewers have a tough enough time trying to work out if their beer has fermented properly, so make sure you get that part of your beer brewing right!

Image credit to Alan Levine via Creative Commons Licence

↠ 7 tricks that make brewing beer a breeze

home brewing tricks

7 tricks to make brewing beer a breeze

Here’s a selection of random tips for the experienced and not so experienced beer brewer. Some of these tips will suit your beer making style, some will not.

Some are nice to haves, some are things that even the most harden veteran must do (STERILIZATION!) and do every time they brew.

The beauty about making beer is that there are many ways to do things, but given that beer has been brewed for over 6000 years, the process of brewing beer is well trodden and any shortcuts will lead you off the path of quality beer making.

Stick to your brewing instructions and recipes whilst bearing these hints and tricks in mind.

Get the bigger kettle or pot, in the long run you’ll save money


For many first homebrewers, the purchase is a starter equipment kit. Once they have that, all they need is a brew kettle or pot and ingredients. So they get the cheap, smaller size kettle – and then suddenly they find they want to keep going with beer making and so need to purchase the bigger kettle or brewing pot.

If you have in inkling you are going to do a bit of brewing, get the 5 or 8 gallon size unit, save the smaller ones for making jam! Big is better for most of your brewing equipment needs.

If you've got a pretty decent burner, it should be able to hold any sized pot or kettle.


O is for Oxygen, get that element away from your beer



Once your beer is ready to have the yeast pitched in, this is the last chance for oxygen to be exposed to the beer. Once the yeast is in, the fermenter needs to be properly sealed.

The presence of excess oxygen can result in poor smelling beer.

Allowing the fermenting beer to be exposed to oxygen can allow beer spoiling bugs and organisms such acetobactor to sour your beer by using the oxygen to ferment the alcohol into acetic acid – commonly known as vinegar. Keep your fermenter well sealed!

Same goes for bottling – try to avoid getting too many bubbles in the bottle as your pour.

It’s cool to cool your wort

Cool the Wort quickly.

Doing this will increase the fallout of proteins and tannins that are bad for the beer.

It may also reduce the chance of infection occurring. Some brewers use immersion wort chillers as a relatively inexpensive investment that will improve the clarity and quality of your beer.

If doing a full batch boil, there’s not much choice, the wort should be cooled for maximum effect.

You may wish to consider investing in a wort chiller.


It’s not clean until its ALL clean



When we say clean we actually mean clean AND sterilized. Sterilize the heck out of everything you use. If you're starting out as a home brewer, your kit should contain a cleansing and sterilizing agent.

You NEED to make sure that at the very least your drum is fully clean and sterilized before your start your brewery process.

There is nothing more disappointing than going to bottle your brew and recognizing the scent of a bad brew that has been contaminated by nasty bugs.


You'd do best to brew an ale than a lager



The truth is that the darker the beer, the more forgiving it will be in the home brewing process.

It's very easy to make a mistake with your first homebrew so a beer style that's good to drink and is also easy to take care of is the brew you are after.

While you should feel free to start with a lager, and yes, many starter beer kits do come with lagers, bear in mind that lagers need to be cooled rather more quickly than an ale and they also require a bit more yeast in the fermentation process.


Use fresh beer making ingredients – it’s not a fancy suggestion at all



The importance of brewing with fresh ingredients cannot be overstated. The quality of home brewed beer can only be as good as the quality of the ingredients going into the brew kettle.

If you use old stock, you run the risk of your beer tasting like old socks. Pretty simple. This is especially true of the yeast that you use (it may lose it’s potency if too old) and hops.


Don’t listen to all the hacks that might be writing about beer (?)



Worrying obsessively about every little thing you read on the internet will not help your beer taste any better. Find a beer brewing guide you are happy with and just get on with it! When you become a more regular and practised brewer you can start to think about things like digital ph testing of your wort and adding oak chips to your beer for flavor.