Tag Archives: BJCP

BJCP style #2: Belgian blonde (18A)

For the second beer in our series, I decided to brew a Belgian blonde, mostly because it’s become one of my favorite styles of beer, but also because it’s pretty difficult to find more than a few good examples.

11 - 23- 15 031My assistant brewer that day was my friend Trevor, who still hasn’t managed to come drink any since we brewed.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Belgian blondes are about 6% to 7.5% ABV, light and fruity with maybe little spicy character, a mildly sweet grain front, and a dry finish. There are other style expectations too, but that’s about all I can keep in my head. In my mind a Belgian blonde is kind like a fluffy, fruity, lower ABV, less hoppy version of a SONY DSCtripel. I only have to make that comparison though because I’ve drank a lot more tripels than blondes. If you’ve never had one, Leffe blonde is probably the easiest to find, and is a great example of the style.

So many Belgian beers I have had from breweries and home brewers in the United States are just undrinkable to me. They tend not to have a lot of real Belgian yeast character, and they finish far too sweet. So, my main goals here were to capture at least a decent amount of the fruity, slightly spicy flavor a Belgian blonde should have, and get a nice dry finish.



  • 10.33 lbs. Belgian pilsner (The extra .33 lbs. was just because I spilled a bit of grain)
  • 1 lb. German wheat
  • 4 oz. light dry extract (I actually forget why I put this in, I don’t have notes on it…)
  • 1.25 lbs. table sugar (Try to kick up the dry finish)

Hops: (the slightly odd hop weights were because I was finishing off quantities of certain hops I had lying around that I thought appropriate for the style).

  • 0.6 oz. Mt. Hood (First wort hop, boiled 60 minutes)
  • 0.4 oz. Hersbrucker at 60 min.
  • 0.2 oz. Mt. Hood at 7 min.
  • 1 oz. Saaz at 2 min.


  • 1 tsp gypsum in the mash
  • 0.25 tsp irish moss at 10 min.
  • 0.25 oz. coriander at 5 min.
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient at 10
  • Yeast was SafBrew Fermentis T-58 with no starter

We did a full volume mash with about 8 gallons of water to account for grain absorption and boil-off, using a 70 qt. cooler with a home-made bag.

After the boil we cooled to 65F and added the yeast. After fermentation started (about 12 11 - 23- 15 032hours), I moved it to the basement where ambient was 60F for about 36 hours until high krausen dropped, then moved it to my fermentation closet with a plant mat to try to get it up to 75F until fermentation was completely done (about 6 days). I use a similar temperature profile, with some variation, with most beers I brew, but especially Belgians. The reason why this is important is that by starting out fairly cool during the most intense fermentation, one prevents high concentrations of hot fusel alcohols, as well as other problems like band-aidy flavors. But heating up the fermentation as it starts to cool ensures that your fermentation will finish strong, and you’ll get a nice dry finish to your beer, which as I talked about before, is so critical with Belgian brews.

After another seven days, I primed with 4.5 oz. of corn sugar and bottled. This is a little more priming sugar than I’d usually use, but Belgians should have a solid carbonation to them.

The end result: delicious! It ended up being a little too alcoholic (like 9%!!), so it started out a little astringent but over time it mellowed out, and after a couple months is amazing.

Next up: quadruppel!





Classic beer style #1: Kölsch gone crazy

For beer #1 in my post series on homebrewing classic beer styles, I’m brewing a Kölsch, calling it Dog Day Afternoon Kölsch. Most of my homebrews are given names related to dogs, because I like dogs, although I imagine it will be something of a struggle to think of a decent name for every one of the BJCP styles.

Kölsch is a style of pale German ale that looks and tastes more like a German lager – it’s a pale gold color with a little bit of bready German malt flavor.


I decided to start with a Kölsch because I usually brew pretty strong dark 2751199594_a4aa5de4d0beers, or very hoppy beers, but some of the people I drink with, especially my father and father-in-law, prefer light beers. Technically, a beer can only be called a Kölsch if it’s brewed in Cologne, Germany, but I’m pretty sure this only applies to commercial beers. If I’m wrong then I guess I’m brewing a “Kölsch-style beer”!

I started with a couple really basic recipes found on the reddit homebrewing sub and the homebrewtalk forums, as well as some ideas from Designing Great Beers (Daniels, 2000). Then I made a couple modifications of my own, such as using Mt. Hood and Hersbrucker for hops. I have a few pounds of Mt. Hood in my freezer that I harvested from plants in my backyard this fall, and I just really like Hersbrucker so I occasionally buy them in bulk.

So, here’s the recipe:

Grain: 10.5 lbs. Briess pilsen 2-row, 1.5 lbs. Vienna

Hops: 2 oz. Hersbrucker at 60 min., 1 oz. Mt. Hood at 60, 0.20 oz. Hersbrucker at 2 min. Most of the hops for a Kölsch should be in the bittering, not in the flavor or aroma.

Yeast: Wyeast 2565 Kölsch yeast.

Starting gravity (SG) was 1.048, with 26.8 IBUs.

This is a little more grain than one would normally use for a Kölsch, but I’m just moving into all-grain brewing from partial mashes, and for this beer my new 11 gallon pot had yet to come in, so I had to mash and boil 3 gallons, and then dilute to 5 for the full 5 gallon batch.

The 3.5 gal pot I was using – with my purple Thermopen

So, I BIAB mashed using two bags in a cooler at 152 using 3.5 gallons until I hit 1.067, which diluted to 1.048 after the boil.


After the boil, I cooled with a basic immersion chiller, diluted to 5 gallons and tossed in the yeast, which I’d built up in a 1.5 L starter from the Wyeast pack for 3 days.


I tend to just dump everything from my kettle into my fermenter based on the recommendations from Brülosopher’s Exbeeriments, so you can see the kettle trub and hops at the bottom of the carboy. For some reason though, I got some weird separation between a darker malty layer, and a lighter, yeasty-looking layer. I’m guessing I didn’t mix the diluting water and the boiled wort enough, but I’m not sure. I was pretty worried about this at first, but it seems to have turned out fine.



I fermented at 60F for one week in the basement using a makeshift swamp cooler. The fermentation kind of went nuts for some reason – I use Fermcap S when I ferment because I don’t really like having to use blow-of001f tubs, and even when brewing a big Russian imperial stout on a yeast cake froma  previous beer the Fermcap S kept me from needing to use a blow-off. But for some reason with this Kölsch yeast I needed a blow-off for nearly a whole week! So, be warned if you go to use Wyeast 2565 – it works great, but it creates a ton of krauesen, especially given how low gravity this beer was.

After a week in the swamp cooler then raised to 70F (by putting the carboy in the pantry) for a diacetyl rest. After a week at 70F I checked the FG, and finding that it was 1.010, which was my projected goal, moved the whole carboy into my fermentation chamber, and dropped it down to 50 over 4 days. Below you can see the color when I checked the gravity – might be a little darker than I was intending, but I think it’s looking good! It also tasted good, which is always a good sign so soon after a beer is brewed.

Next time I think I’ll try to drop it slower so it doesn’t go down by more than 2 degrees a day as a lot of people have recommended that this keeps the yeast healthier and less likely to go dormant.

It’s now been at 50F for almost a week. In another week or two, I’ll bottle it, and post some pictures of the bottles.

Update 1: I’ll pop pictures of bottling up soon. Up next, Belgian blonde!



Brewing all the BJCP styles

Recently I decided I’d like to brew a classic example all of the Brewing Judge Certification Program (BJCP) classic styles. The BJCP is a certification program for homebrewing judges, and they clarify style guidelines. Examples include beers like altbier, kolsch, American IPA, American wheat beer, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

I decided to do this when listening to the Brewing Network, where Jamil said that brewing award winning versions of all these styles was one of the things that helped his brewing and his understanding of historical styles the most.

The BJCP has a new style guide out for 2015, and since it sounds like most judging is focusing on these guidelines now, I’ll be focusing on this guideline. I’m not going in any particular order, but instead I’ll just brew what I feel like at a given time, checking them off the list. I’ll post about each one as I go.

I decided to start this now because I finally have the ability to do 2 things – lager beer, keeping it at a low temperature for a long time after fermentation, and brew 100% all grain.

The graf I posted about isn’t a classic style, but for my first entry I’ve already started a post on a Kolsch beer, sub-style 5b, in the pale bitter European beer category.

How Kolsch is traditionally served.

Kolsch is technically an ale (meaning it’s fermented with a top-fermenting strain of Saccharomyces yeast at a higher temperature), but it’s very light and dry with just a little bit of bready malt flavor, more like a traditional German lager.

Top fermenting yeast

I’ll probably follow that up with a winter ale or a British style for the holidays, or something to use up the many pounds of hops I have in the freezer from the harvest.

Part of my hop harvest

The Kolsch was very fun to make. It’s lagering right now, and I’ll be posting about it very soon.

Check out the BJCP guidelines here:

Click to access 2015_Guidelines_Beer.pdf