This week I invite John Palmer back to talk about brewing high gravity “big” beers. John shares some of his tips on getting the most from your high gravity mash, scaling recipes up to higher gravities, balancing your big beer and fermentation and aging.
Download the MP3 File – Right Click and “Save As” to download this mp3 file
Topics in This Week’s Episode (40:54)
- John Palmer, author of “How to Brew” at HowToBrew.com is back to talk about high gravity “big” beers and how to brew them at home.
- We start by discussing how high gravity brewing is fundamentally different from brewing a regular beer, and what defined a high gravity beer.
- John talks about the grain bill and why brewing a high gravity beer is not just a matter of scaling up an average beer but in fact requires you to add more malt.
- We discuss why high gravity mashes are much less efficient due to the lower grain to sparge/mash water ratio used.
- I briefly mention that mash tun capacity is a problem as well since a typical 5 gallon mash tun only holds about 13 lbs of grain at max capacity.
- John talks extensively about the importance of balancing malt and bitterness for a large beer. He explains how the bitterness ratio needs to be balanced for large brewing.
- John refers to his “How to Brew” book, page 212 which has a diagram showing OG/bitterness ratios for different styles
- We talk about hop presence in big beers and how most big beers don’t need a huge hop finish (except for a few styles like Imperial IPA)
- John talks about fermentation of big beers and the importance of pitching plenty of yeast for a big beer – as yeast requirements grow with the starting gravity
- We also discuss the need for wine/champagne yeast but John takes the position that if you properly pitch an appropriate yeast starter you rarely need to use wine/champagne yeast for finishing.
- John explains proper fermentation for large beers and makes the case that proper pitching and fermentation can actually significantly reduce your need for long aging.
- Along the way we also discuss parti-gyle brewing (getting more than one batch from a single mash)
- John shares a few of his favorite high gravity beer styles
- Finally he talks for a minute about his new book about beer brewing water which will be published in the fall. He’s planning to cover water from start to finish including filtration, preparation, additions, and much more. Look for the book from Brewer’s Publications this fall.
Thanks to John Palmer for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!
Thoughts on the Podcast?
Leave me a comment below or visit our discussion forum to leave a comment in the podcast section there.
Subscribe to the Podcast
Great News! We’ve been featured in the New and Notable podcasts on iTunes.
If you are not using iTunes, you can subscribe using this feed:
And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and my newsletter (use the links in the sidebar) – to get free weekly articles on home brewing.
You might also enjoy these articles:
- John Palmer on Hops and Home Brewing – BeerSmith Podcast 46
- Beer Brewing Water with John Palmer and Colin Kaminski – BeerSmith Podcast #70
- Five Tips for Beer Brewers from John Palmer – BeerSmith Podcast #82
- How to Brew Big – Making High Gravity Beers
- Beer Brewing Q&A with John Palmer and Randy Mosher – BeerSmith Podcast #100
Don't make another bad batch of beer! Give BeerSmith a try - you'll brew your best beer ever.
Download a free 21 day trial of BeerSmith now