Review of the recipe Beer with Marshmallow Fluff

It has been awhile since I last blogged.  I am in grad school and things began to get real.  Hence, blogging went on the back burner.  I might be a little rusty with the blogging, but as I catch up on posts, I think the writing should get better.

I did make some time to rack-n-cap the brown ale I have been writing about in the last few posts.  I have also been able to drink a few of them.  I thought I would pass on my observations for the rest of this post.

As I planned, I used the fluff as a primer.  I slowly melted 4-5 oz.s of fluff with water.  I don’t remember how much water I used exactly.  However, since I figured it was all sugar, I think it was about a cup, similar to if I was using corn sugar.  The idea is to spread out the water so it mixes most evenly with the fermented wort.

As the fluff melted down, it looked more and more like water.  There were also un-melted marshmallow floating at the top.  It looked like curds and some of them made it in the final product.  I think if I did this over again, I would try to take those floaters off the top.  I know it is edible, but it looks gross.

Lite Brown AleThe marshmallow in the final product is very soft.  The one in the photo had a slight milkiness to it; wisps of white.  There is very slight creaminess to it, too.  I don’t think it changed the body.   If you drank it and didn’t know there was marshmallow in it, you might miss it – so it is subtle.

If you remember from the last entry, I had a very light wort.  The final gravity was 1.006.  The alcohol level was about 2.9%, so I don’t think alcohol has a strong presence in the flavor.

According to my beer has about 90 calories in each bottle.  So considering the calorie count and the amount of alcohol, it looks as though I stumbled upon a Lite Brown Ale.  This isn’t something I’m proud of, but I am an optimist.  The beer isn’t bad.  It is drinkable, it just doesn’t have much flavor.  Seriously, if someone were to make a Lite Brown Ale on purpose, this is what it would taste like.  Still better than the “American Lite Pilsner.”

Concluding Lessons learned from this batch:

  • From what I have learned, since normal marshmallows and marshmallow fluff is made almost completely of fermentable sugars, adding it to brewing will not come up with something that tastes like marshmallow.   Its contribution is very subtle.
  • [Efficiency is something that should be considered for lautering.]  Sparging [can be] important to get flavor in your beer [depending on the method used].  First time all grain brewers should not overlook this part, especially when trying to create a beer whose grain bill is really important to final product.
  • If using fluff, take out the floaters before adding it to your beer.

The Problems with Omitting Sparging

So I brewed my all-grain brown ale last weekend. If mistakes are needed to learn, then I learned a lot. Instead of going over my procedures, I will just tell you some of the important things I probably won’t forget.

This was my setup for mashing.

This was my setup for mashing.


Considering how new I am to all-grain, I went along with the natural progression of learning and did the batch sparging method. That means after the extracting wort from the mash with the strike water, adding the sparge water and repeat the process. I initially thought that if I put 3 gallons in to the mash, I would get 3 gallons out of it. Not the case. The grain holds onto the water.

This was actually from my last batch, but it looked the same, snow and all.

As for the sparging, I didn’t know it was so necessary. I essentially added only a gallon of sparge. It should have been more. My gravity ended up being 1.028 before I added the yeast. I noticed the airlock bubbling, so hopefully this will turn into a beer that will be worth bottling.

I only have one brewing pot, and it really shouldn’t have more than 4 gallons in it; so I need to be resourceful. My idea is implementing a concentrated wort idea. So if I work with reducing the water from the wort, I should be able to get a higher gravity without over flowing the pot during the boil. I think my plan will be to let the sparge sit and fall to the bottom of the mash tun while I reduce the wort I have so far.

Barley (2013). Concentrated Wort Boil.
Northern Brewer (2012). All-Grain Brewing with John Palmer.
Palmer, J. J. (2006). How to Brew. Boulder: Brewers Publications.

Progress in my next project: Fluff in Beer

Interesting note before I begin, I had a bottle of my last batch explode before the two week mark. I think instead of just having the sugar at the bottom of the bottling bucket as I racked, I should have mixed it with some water first to help it blend better. I think the uneven distribution of sugar made it explode. First time it ever happened. I should knock on wood. Anyway, since today is the two week mark, I think the others will be fine.

The next batch begins this weekend. I am really excited, because it is my first all-grain recipe. I mentioned earlier that I was considering a brown ale. Running with it further, I have locked onto the American brown ale; which to me is synonymous with brown ale. I got the ingredients today. It was strange because I bought them from a new store to me. I have used a few supply stores, it is interesting how different they all have their own vibe. But I digress, as usual.

Bell's Brewery

Bell’s Brewery has a logo, this is it.

The recipe I decided to go with was one that I got from Bell’s Brewery. Considering they have the Best Brown Ale, they would know how to make it. However, I don’t think that is the recipe they gave me, it is called Best Bell’s Baby Brown.

According to their website, Bell’s started as a supply store and doesn’t want to leave its roots. Bell’s has been selling supplies since 1983. They seem like your typical brewery supply store, except they are connected to a nationally recognized brand and make some of the best beer I have ever tasted.

Anyway, they have some recipes on their site. The recipe I found has both all-grain and partial versions and has recommended dry and liquid yeast, which the brewer is to choose. Other than telling me the mash temperature and hops schedule, there really isn’t any directions, just information about the end product. It also uses ounces for hops, instead of alpha acids. So if you want to meet the target IBU, you must set the boil water level appropriately. I am not complaining, I find it a fun challenge. So this isn’t something that very beginners should try, but for everyone else it should be fine. I’m excited.

Avery Brewing Logo

Avery Brewing has a logo. When this blog was written, this was their logo.

Bell’s isn’t the only brewery to have recipes posted for home brewers. Another brewery that posts recipes is Avery. The recipes at Avery seem to be tied very close to beers they sell. Seems like a bold move. I don’t know any other brewery that does it. But I guess the lesson to learn is that if you have a brewery that you like, try going to their website. See what they are all about.


Bell’s Home brew recipe site:

Avery’s recipe site:


Bells' Hopslam

One of my aims in reviewing beer is trying to have at least some objectivity, but it is really really hard when it comes to Hopslam. So instead of thinking of this as a review, let’s consider this me telling you about an amazing beer.

Hopslam is made by Bells Brewery. Bells is my favorite brewery of all time. It is a solid brewery that can do no wrong. Every single beer is a grand slam. I digress.

Hopslam is a seasonal beer that sells super quick, and for good reason. If you love hoppy beers, you love Hopslam. If you haven’t had Hopslam, and you love hoppy beers, you do not know you love Hopslam. But you do.

I’m going to try to dissect the experience. Pouring the bottle into the glass, you notice that beer is a little cloudy. My guess is it is from all the hops.

Then you put the glass up as you are about to drink and you can’t miss its fragrance. The scent is as if citrus and sweet floral tones ride a tandem bicycle on a spring day, waving to neighbors and shooting zombies at the same time. I don’t think it is one type of hop variety you smell, it is a few, and they are working well together.

The taste is a punch in the face of hopstecy. Imbedded and slightly subtle in the hops is the alcohol. It is a double IPA so it is not messing around. None the less, 10% ABV can be easily missed in the celebration of hops. There is a very subtle hop after taste, but it is so subtle that it comes across as provoking you to have another taste. And then another.

Bottom line is if you love hops, you will love it. It is getting a little late in the season now, so you might have missed it, but if you see it, get a pack of well worth it. If you don’t love hoppy beers, this beer isn’t for you. It is for us, lover of hops.

Thinking about marshmallow fluff

I just bottled my last batch so I am ready to start thinking about my next project. I am thinking about using marshmallow fluff. Here are some thoughts:

First of all, marshmallow is a confection, just sugar and vanilla. I looked into a recipe online for making marshmallows, which I figure is going to have the same ingredients. The recipe is pretty much cane sugar and corn syrup, both of which are highly fermentable. So if I put it in the mash or before fermentation it would probably get all eaten by the yeast. No different than if I used cane sugar or corn sugar on their own.

My next thought is after the primary. The immediate problem is mixing it in with the rest of the beer. If I add it while I rack into a second, it would mix while filling the container with minimum of oxygen added. This could make some sense. But I think there is another possibility that I like better.

The last possibility I see is using it as a primer. Considering how much of it is fermentable, it could totally work as primer. 5 pounds of fluff could be all I need to make it. I would mix it in with water so it would mix easier with the beer and I wouldn’t have to stir it.

The type of beer I was thinking of adding it to originally was a Chocolate Stout. But there is a chance it turns into another chocolate stout or a sweet chocolate stout. My girlfriend suggested that I do something that resembled a fluffer-nutter, a peanut butter and fluff sandwich. The more I think about it, the better it sounds. So now I’m considering making a brown ale. I’ll post more when I make further decisions.

A Review of 21st Amendment’s Black IPA: Back in Black

21st Amendment: Back in Black

When I think of different countries, I think of different foods that come from that country. Think about different kinds of restaurants, most have to do with different nationalities. There is Chinese, Italian, Indian, Thai, the list goes on. But what about American? All American foods have their roots coming from other countries. What does the states bring to the table? We bring creativity and a desire for change. In the states we ask What happens when I…? or Is there a way to make it better? This especially goes true with beer.
Germans have their Lagers, British have their ales, Belgians have their style, and we have our modifications. One of the recent modifications I have seen lately is black beers. The Black IPA is one of them.
21st Amendment’s Black IPA, Back in Black, is one of them. I didn’t compare their IPA with the Black IPA, but in reference to my own pallet: it is definitely an IPA and it uses roasted malts. The front, middle and end had hoppy goodness. The roasted malt was there in the front and middle.
As far as hoppiness goes for IPAs, it did not seem like a punch in the face. Instead it felt like a slap in the face. The bitterness is there, but not strong enough to distract from the hops. The color is accurately black. The texture was more IPA than it was stout, it wasn’t anymore filling then a normal IPA (In my experience, dark beers are noticeably more filling. Dark beers that come to mind are Stouts, porters, and any bocks).
I would also like to point out the website for the beer. Often, when I’m drinking a beer I wonder what kind of hops are used, what kind of malt, etc. The website found here, gives helpful information about the beer. It is quick, enthusiastic, and to the point.
The only way I have seen this beer is in a can, but it also is available on draught. There are no bottles.

Dishwasher, a home brewer’s friend

This weekend I got to bottle my latest batch, a Cherry Stout.  As a home brewer eager to learn more, I am convinced there is better more efficient ways of bottling.  This time I used the dishwasher in two different ways: for drying sanitized bottles and for a surface for filling bottles.

When the dishes are washed, there are heat coils in the bottom of the dishwasher, that sanitize the dishes after they are washed, but before the cycle is complete.  I have heard others use it to sanitize the bottles, but I prefer using a liquid.  I like the idea of that rinse before they are filled.

Anyway, once dishes are cleaned, everything in the dishwasher is clean and sanitized, including the racks.  So I put clean dishes away then sanitized bottles on the racks, so they could drain.  Each bottle had it’s own stick to hold it up.  I was able to fit two cases on the bottom rack.  I had twelve bottles on standby on the rack above if I had any beer left over.

Once the bottles sat for a couple hours upside-down in the dishwasher and I was ready to start filling them, I put them on the opened dishwasher’s door.  The whole two cases (48 bottles) fit on the door.  My filling wand is very sensitive, so it is nice not having to worry about cleaning up any mess; any mess would be cleaned off the door next wash cycle.  Anything less to clean after racking and capping is great with me, I usually clean the most upon completing bottling.

Totally recommend both methods to anyone that can do it.

A brief introduction

I want to try to talk beer with as many different people as I can.  I love to drink it and I love to make it.  The main idea about this blog is to share ideas I have and things I have learned from brewing.  Since drinking beer is tied so closely to brewing, I will probably talk about that, too.