How Do I Modify My Tustin Monster Brew?

I hope you are all planning to join us at Tustin Brewing’s Second Annual Monster Brew, on February 27th, hosted by our very own Jon Porter.  We’ll be brewing up a batch of medium-gravity amber wort.  Where it goes from there is up to you!  We’re hoping to have as many variations on the theme as possible for upcoming events such as the Southern California Homebrew Fest, club meetings and other beer venues.

The recipe for the wort is shown below.  This year, we are going with a simple Blond Ale recipe.  Like last year, though, it is deliberately formulated so that you can use your own creativity as broadly as possible.  The wort will have a starting gravity of 1.050, 30 IBUs of bitterness and a color of about 5 SRM.  A lot of different beers can be made out of this.  With a bit of tweaking, you can make just about anything.  Here are some ideas on what to do.

1)  Pick a yeast.  The wort comes unpitched, so at a minimum, you have to get some yeast for brewing day.  If you pitch with the Wyeast 1056 Amierican Ale, or White Labs 001 California Ale yeast, you’ll have a pretty good middle-of-the-road Blonde Ale.  But don’t stop there.  If you have ever though about trying a new yeast, this is a great time to try it.  Just make sure you are set up to use it.  Don’t pick a lager yeast if you don’t have refrigeration for your fermenter.   Also, for best results, make up a starter the day before brew day.

2)  Make it stronger.  Styles such as IPA, Barleywine, Belgian Tripel can be made by adding some malt extract or Belgian candi sugar.  Just boil up a small amount of water and extract and boil for about 10 to 15 minutes, to make sure it is sterile.  Cool, and add to your fermenter.

3)  Make it darker.  Pick a dark grain like roast barley, Special B, chocolate malt or Carafa.  Steep in hot water, then strain out the grains and boil the liquid.  Voila, instant dark beer!   Last year, my Schwarzbier come out terrific.  Another variant is to add some melanoidin malt to make some of the malty German lagers.

4)  Dry hop it.   The recipe this year has no finishing hops, though it does have a healthy dose of American flavoring hops.   You can go American for American Pale or Amber Ale, British hops for ESB, or you can go with Continental Noble hops for something like Saison.

5)  Boost the bitterness or hop flavor.   You’ll have to do this if you want to get to IPA range, and I also recommend it for ESB, Robust Porter, Altbier and several other styles.  Boil up a small amount of water and add hops to make a hop tea.  Boil for at least half an hour with high alpha hops to raise the IBU level.  Boil for 10 to 15 minutes with your favorite hop variety to boost the flavor.  Note that this will boost the IBU level by a smaller amount.

6)  Do combinations of the above.  Suppose you want to make an American Barleywine out of the wort.  Boil up some malt extract, add some hops to boost the bitterness and flavor during the boil.  Cool and add to the fermentor.  Then, dry hop in secondary.

The attached table has a list of some of the interesting combinations you can do.  I came up with 20 variations without even breaking a sweat.  You can probably come up with even more.

You’ll want to pitch your yeast as soon as you get your wort home.  For most of the variations, you should plan of adjusting the wort at the same time, though you could wait a day or so.  Make sure you get it going before primary fermentation is done, since the yeast will need to work on the additional materials.

So, start whipping up your recipe now.   Hope to see you on the 27th.

Got a question for the Brewmaster?  Drop me a line at [email protected].  Also, an archive of prior questions can be found at the Picobrewery website at

Monster Brew 2 Recipe for 16 Barrels (496 gallons):

660 lbs 2-Row Pale  Malt
55   lbs 17oL Crystal Malt
55   lbs 37oL Crystal Malt
55   lbs  3 oL Vienna Malt
32 Oz Chinook 11.4% First Wort/Boil
50 Oz Simcoe 12.2% at 15 minutes
50 Oz Cascade  7.8% at 15 minutes

Vital Statistics:

OG:  1.050
FG:  1.012
Color:  5 SRM
IBU: 30

Guidelines for modifying your wort:

Beer Style Yeast Grain/sugar Hops Fermentation
Amiercan Pale Ale Amer Ale Dry-Amarillo Med
American Amber Amer Ale Crystal Cascade Med
California Common CA Lager Northern Brewer Cool
IPA AM Ale or Eng Liquid malt Extract (LME) Tea/Dry Amarillo Med
Altbier German Ale Melanoidin Hallertauer Cool
Porter English Chocolate Med
Dry Strout Irish Roast Barley Med
Export Stout Irish Roast Barley, LME Med
Imperial Stout Irish LME, Roast barley Tea/Goldings Med
Old Ale English LME Tea/Fuggles Med
Barleywine AM Ale or Eng LME Tea/Centenniel Med
Belgian Pale Ale Antwerp Bel Biscuit Warm
Belgian Dubbel Abbey Dark Candi, Special B Warm
Belgian Strong Dark Trappist Dark Candi, Special B, CaraMunich Warm
Tripel Golden Light Candi Warm
Saison Saison Dry-Saaz Warm
Vienna Lager Vienna Munich or Vienna Cold
Oktoberfest Oktoberfest Melanoidin Cold
Munich Dunkel Munich Lager Melanoidin Cold
Schwarzbier Munich Lager Carafa Cold