How do I modify my wort from the Monster Brew at Tustin Brewing?

This Month’s QuestionTustin Brewing CompanyHow do I modify my wort from the Monster Brew at Tustin Brewing?


I hope you are all planning to join us at Tustin Brewing’s Third Annual Monster Brew, Saturday, February 26th, 2011 from 6 am to 2 pm hosted by our very own Jon Porter.  We’ll be brewing up a batch of high-gravity pale 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, the American Homebrewers Conference, club meetings and other beer venues.

The recipe for the wort is shown below.  As formulated,

the recipe is fairly bland.  This gives YOU the opportunity to spice it up, using your own creativity as broadly as possible.  The wort will have a starting gravity of 1.067, with 25 IBUs of bitterness and a color of about 6 SRM.  A lot of different beers can be made out of this.  With a bit of tweaking, you can make just about anything.

Monster Brew #3
Recipe for 16 Barrels (496 gallons):
935 lbs 2-Row Pilsner  Malt
110 lbs German Munich malt
55   lbs Vienna Malt
55   lbs 60oL Belgian Cara-Munich Malt
75 Oz Perle 8.3% First Wort/Boil
50 Oz Saaz 2.5% at 15 minutes
50 Oz Saaz 2.5% at flame-out

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.067
FG:  1.015 (though depends on the yeast)
Color:  6 SRM
IBU: 25

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.  Since the wort is fairly strong, I suggest you make up a starter the day before.  If you pitch with the Wyeast 2206 Bavarian lager, or White Labs 833 Bock yeast, you’ll have a pretty good middle-of-the-road Maibock.  Note, though that these are lager yeasts, and you need to be set up to use it.  What, no lagering fridge?  Not to worry; there are many different ales you can make too.

2)  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 Pale Ale, 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, and for best effect, use pellets rather than whole-leaf hops.  To calculate the bitterness, use these numbers:  Each ½ oz of 12% AAU pellets will boost the bitterness by 15 IBU.  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.

3)  Dry hop it.   The recipe this year has a low level of Saaz finishing hops, but not enough for the citrusy American styles.   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.

4) Make it stronger.  Styles such as Wee Heavy or 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.

5)  Make it weaker.  If you are into styles such as Bitter, Blonde Ale or most of the light lagers, the gravity will be too high.  You can cut the gravity by adding some water.   This is a great way of increasing the yield of your brewing day, and you may need a second fermenter to hold the extra volume.  For best results, the water should be sterilized by boiling ahead of time for a few minutes.  Note that the dilution will drop the bitterness level too, which will fit some but not all of the lighter styles.

6)  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 came out terrific.

7)  Make it malty.  Discover the magic of melanoidin malt to make some of the malty German lagers styles such as traditional Bock, or Munich Dunkel.  I’d even recommend a bit if you are making a Maibock.

8)  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 fermenter.  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 on 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.

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So, start whipping up your recipe now.   Hope to see you on the 26th.

Suggested Modifications to the Monster Brew:

Beer Style Yeast Grain/sugar Hops Add water Fermentation
Vienna Lager Vienna Munich or Vienna Yes Cold
Oktoberfest Oktoberfest Melanoidin Yes Cold
Maibock Bock Melanoidin Cold
Traditional Bock Bock Melanoidin Cold
Doppelbock Bock Melanoidin, LME Cold
Munich Dunkel Munich Lager Melanoidin Yes Cold
Schwarzbier Munich Lager Carafa Yes Cold
California Common CA Lager Crystal Northern Brewer Yes Cool
Altbier German Ale Crystal Tea/Hallertauer Yes Cool
Amiercan Pale Ale Amer Ale Tea/Dry Amarillo Yes Med
American Amber Amer Ale Crystal Tea/Dry Amarillo Yes Med
IPA AM Ale or Eng Crystal Tea/Dry Amarillo Med
Brown Ale English Crystal, Chocolate Yes Med
Porter English Chocolate Yes Med
Dry Strout Irish Roast Barley Yes 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 Yes 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

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