Modifying Your Monster Brew

This Month’s Question: How do I modify my wort from the Monster Brew at Smog City Brewing?

Answer:  I hope you are all planning to join us at Smog City Brewing Company’s Second Annual Monster Brew, Saturday, January 24h, 2014, from 7:30 AM to 2 PM hosted by our very own Jon Porter. We’ll be brewing up a batch of Pilsner-based 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 20th anniversary, Southern California Homebrew Fest, club meetings and summer party.

The recipe for the wort is in the text box. About 2/3rds of the wort is German pilsner malt, based on Smog’s Little Bo Pils. A bit of Cara-Pils, Vienna malt and wheat malt round out the grain bill. Apart from that, the recipe is light-colored and minimally hopped. 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 1.052, with 22 IBUs of bitterness and a color of about 4 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. As formulated, the wort will make an excellent Pilsner if you pitch with German Pilsner yeast such as White Labs WLP800, or Wyeast 2007. Of course, this means you need to have a lager fridge or other cooler to pull this off. But, you can also pick something like a German ale yeast and make a Kölsch or and American ale yeast and make a blonde ale. Whatever style you go for, I suggest making at least a 1 quart starter a few days before the Monster brew.

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 as well. 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 Maibock 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 session beer styles such as Bitter, 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! I made a great porter and Schwarzbier the past couple of years with this approach.

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.
So, start whipping up your recipe now. Hope to see you on the 24th.

Smog City Monster Brew #2
Recipe for 16 Barrels (496 gallons):
• 660 lbs German Pilsner Malt
• 55 lbs Cara-Pils
• 55 lbs Wheat Malt
• 55 lbs Vienna Malt
• 26 lbs Acidulated Malt
• Summit 32oz (FWH)
• Saaz 48oz (15 min)
• Saaz 48oz (Flame Out)
• Target OG – 1.052
• Target SRM – 4
• Target IBU – 22

StyleYeastGrain / SugarHopsFerment
German LagerLagerCold
Bohemian LagerLagerCara-PilsSaazCold
American LagerLagerCold
Vienna LagerViennaMunich or ViennaCold
MaibockBockMelanoidin, LMECold
Traditional MaibockBockMelanoidin, LMECold
DoppelbockBockMelanoidin, LMECold
Munich DunkelMunich LagerMelanoidin, MunichCold
SchwarzbierMunich LagerCarafaCold
Cream AleCream AleCool
California CommonCA LagerCrystalNorthern BrewerCool
AltbierGerman AleCrystalTea / HallertauerCool
Blonde AleAmerican AleMedium
American Pale AleAmerican AleTea / Dry AmarilloMedium
American AmberAmerican AleCrystalTea / Dry AmarilloMedium
IPAAmerican Ale or EnglishCrystalTea / Dry AmarilloMedium
Brown AleEnglishCrystal, ChocolateMedium
Dry StoutIrishRoast BarleyMedium
Export StoutIrishRoase Barley, LMEMedium
Imperial StoutIrishLME, Roast BarleyTea / GoldingsMedium
Old AleEnglishLMETea / FugglesMedium
BarleywineAmerican Ale or EnglishLMETea / CentennialMedium
Wheat BeerWeihenstephanWheat MaltWarm
WitSpices: Corriander & bitter orange peelWarm
Belgian Pale AleAntwerpBelgian BiscuitWarm
Belgian DubbelAbbeyDark Candi Sugar, Special BWarm
Belgian Dark StrongTrappistDark Candi Sugar, Special B, CaraMunichWarm
TripelGoldenLight CandiWarm
SaisonSaisonDry hop SaazWarm

Monster Brew January 24th

On January 24, 2015 Smog City Brewing Company  and its SmogCityLogo Brewmaster, PG’s Jon Porter, will be hosting
their second Pacific Gravity Monster Brew.

PG Brewmaster Carl Townsend and Porter have developed a new base wort for
this event, based on the highly-popular Little Bo Pils recipe.   This will
be a great starting point for just about any light-bodied beer.  But,
keeping with past monster brews, the recipe can be the base for whatever creative
endeavor you might want to do.  Read more

Club Meeting – Anniversary Brew Recipe Poll!


Its been a busy month for me so I apologize for the late poll, but we have selected 3 great Belgian Dubbel Recipe’s for our Club Anniversary brew taking place this Saturday.  Details about the timing of the brew start and meeting will come later this week, but we need to get this poll up for all of you to vote!  Click on the link below to go to the online poll to vote for your choice for our club brew this Saturday!  Voting ends on Tuesday night @ 6pm so that we can purchase the appropriate ingredients ahead of time.  You can vote as many times as you like, cheers!


Here are the three final recipes!

Recipe #1: “I Like Rochefort”

  • OG – 1.070
  • FG – 1.010
  • IBUs – 20
  • SRM – 18.86
  • ABV – 7.9%
  • Recipe Size (6 Gallons)
  • Boil Time – 90 min

Grain/Fermentable Bill

  • 14.0 lbs Belgian Pils
  • 0.5 lbs Melanoidin
  • 0.5 lbs Special B
  • 1.0 lbs 90L Belgian Syrup

*(Mash Schedule – 20 Min rest @ 144F, 40 Min rest @ 156F)

Hops & Kettle Additions

  • 1.7oz (3.50% AA) – Hallertau Hersbrucker – 60 min.


  • 2qt Starter of WLP540 Abbey Ale IV

Fermentation Schedule

  • Primary – 7 days @ 66F
  • Secondary – 10 days @ Room Temp

*One full day after Krausen drops start to raise temp 1F per 12 hours till room temp.  Do not transfer unless within .002 of target terminal gravity.  Isinglass in secondary.

Recipe #2: Belgian Dubbel

  • OG – 1.068
  • FG – 1.012
  • IBUs – 31
  • SRM – 21.3
  • ABV – 7.5%
  • Recipe Size (10 gallons)
  • Boil Time – 70 min

Grain/Fermentable Bill

  • 18.0 lbs Belgian Pils
  • 2.0 lbs Belgian Candy Sugar (added to boil @ 30 min mark)
  • 1.0 lbs Light Munich
  • 1.0 lbs CaraMunich Malt
  • 1.0 lbs Cara Vien Malt
  • 1.0 lbs Belgian Biscuit
  • 1.0 lbs Belgian Aromatic
  • 1.0 lbs Special B
  • .25 lbs Chocolate Malt

*(Mash Schedule – 20 Min rest @ 128F, 20 Min rest @ 149F, 40 Min rest @ 153F)

Hops & Kettle Additions

  • 2.60oz (5.3%AA) – Tettnang 60 min.
  • 1.50oz (4.1% AA) – Hallertauer 20 min.


  • 2qt Starter of Wyeast 1214 Abbey Ale Yeast

Fermentation Schedule

  • Primary – 7 – 14 days @ 70F
  • Secondary – 14 days @ 70F

Recipe #3: Light Westy

  • OG – 1.069
  • FG – 1.010
  • IBUs – 18
  • SRM – 15.73
  • ABV – 7.7%
  • Recipe Size (6 gallons)
  • Boil Time – 90 min

Grain/Fermentable Bill

  • 7.0 lbs Belgian Pale
  • 7.0 lbs Belgian Pils
  • 1.5 lbs Belgian Dark Candy Sugar (added to boil @ flame out)
  • (Mash Schedule – 60 Min rest @ 145F, 20 Min rest @ 155F)

Hops & Kettle Additions

  • 0.50oz (8.5% AA) – Northern Brewer 90 min.
  • 0.50oz (4.1% AA) – Styrian Goldings 20 min.
  • 0.25oz (2.8% AA) – Hallertauer Mittelfrüh 20 min.


  • 2qt Starter of WLP 530 Abbey Ale Yeast

Fermentation Schedule

  • Primary – 7 – 14 days @ 65F (pitching temp, free rise afterwards)
  • Secondary – 14 days @ Room temp

*Cool to 65F and pitch yeast.  Let free rise to 80F and hold there.

Club 20th Anniversary Brew – Recipe Submission forms

Great meeting last night everyone!

As promised attached to this post is the excel form for you to submit your recipe for the club anniversary brew!  Once you complete the form please email it to:

board [at]

Please submit your recipes no later than October 23rd – and remember that the style for our 20th Anniversary Brew is going to be a Belgian Dubbel.  To recap the idea – our club is turning 20 next February and we thought it would be awesome to get together at next month’s Club Meeting & Chili Cookoff to brew up a beer that would be worthy of our 20th anniversary.  The board decided on the style, but we need our club members to help us get creative and come up with an awesome recipe for a Belgian Dubbel.  Lets get creative and brew up an awesome beer together!

The board will go through the recipe’s submitted and post a poll for all of you to vote for the recipe we brew on Nov. 22nd.

Thanks & Cheers everyone!



Smog City Monster Brew – Last Minute Notes

Here are a couple last minute reminders for the Monster Brew at Smog City Brewery tomorrow morning:

Parking:  Porter wants us to park behind the brewery on the West side.  The back door will be open. This will free up spaces in front of the brewery for the tap room crowd.

Payment:   Please check in with Ramesh our treasurer and get your ticket(s) for the wort pour.  If you haven’t already dropped off your payment, bring cash or check ($30 per batch) to the brewery.

Buckets: Please pre-sterilize your bucket.  If you need to buy a new bucket, Tim Bardet will have a couple for sale. NO GLASS and NO Narrow-neck bottles.  Corny kegs are OK.

The entire batch has been allocated, so we cannot take any more wort reservations.  You are welcome to come see the process even if you are not buying wort.


The event will be starting EARLY, at 7:30AM. If that is too early, you may show up by 12 noon and still get your pre-purchased wort. Of course, you’ll not get to take part in the actual brewing. Projected ending time will be between 2-3 PM.  Smog City Brewing Company is at 1901 Del Amo Blvd., Ste B, Torrance, CA 90501


Smog City will have coffee, bagels, pastries, etc. for breakfast.  In addition, Porter has arranged for Serendoggity Hot Dog cart to arrive at 11:00 AM.  They have amazing hot dogs and sausages at $4-6 for extreme yumminess.


Smog City Monster Brew Update!


Small update.  As of this morning we still have a number of spots open for the Monster Brew this Saturday.  If you haven’t signed up yet for your wort, please email [email protected] to sign up so you can reserve your spot.  We opened up the monster brew to other homebrew clubs in the area this morning to make sure we go through all of the wort – so I am sure spots will fill up fast so get your reservations in asap!

The rest of the information pertaining to this event can be found by clicking on this link – CLICK!  You can also review Carl’s recipe specific post on what the recipe is going to be along with suggestions on how to modify your wort HERE.

Here is a copy of the recipe:

  • Kolsch Malt – 550lbs – (67%)
  • German Pilsner – 220lbs – (27%)
  • Wheat Malt – 55lbs – (7%)
  • Summit – 32oz – (FWH)
  • Tettnang – 50oz – (15 min)
  • Hallertau – 48oz – (Flame Out)
  • Target OG – 1.052
  • Target SRM – 4
  • Target IBU – 25

The recipe that we are brewing is really the perfect canvas for a monster brew – I really cant wait to see what everyone comes up with individually.

Just a reminder about fermenting vessels.  At the Congregation monster brew last year we had a difficult time filling all better bottle (or other plastic type carboy’s with small openings) carboys due to the small opening at the top.  We are dealing with a large volume of wort along with hoses that are larger than typical homebrewing hoses which adds to the difficulty.  To avoid problems like we experienced last time we are not allowing skinny neck containers – please only bring fermenters that have large openings like plastic buckets or cornelius kegs.  Absolultely NO GLASS is allowed.

There will be breakfast provided by Smog City and the Serendoggity Hot Dog cart will be there around 11am.

Thank you again to Smog City for hosting this event, its going to be an amazing event.  Get your reservations for wort in!


Smog City Monster Brew March 8th

On March 8, 2014 Smog City Brewing Company and its Brewmaster, SmogCityLogo PG’s Jon Porter, will be hosting their first Pacific Gravity Monster Brew.  Porter is bringing the tradition from Tustin Brewing where we have had several excellent monster brews in the past. Read more

Congregation Monster Brew Update

We’ve pretty much maxed out the guaranteed wort allotment of the Congregation Ale House Monster Brew for Saturday morning Nov 2.   However, depending on the accuracy of volume measurement, we may have a few more batches.  If you have a second bucket available, bring it along and you might get a second pour.  Any second pours will be on a first-signed up priority basis.  My best guess (no guarantee) is about 10 more buckets.

Please put a name tag on your bucket.  Last year we had a few get lost or swapped.

Also, the folks from Telemundo 52 are interested in dropping by to check out the event.  They would especially be interested in any Spanish-proficient brewers to interview who could walk them through the brewing process.   If you are up for this (or willing to chat with them seprately about homebrew) drop me a line at [email protected], or Erick Mendosa at  [email protected]
818•260•5710 C: 323•717•2349

Read the original story here.


Still Room for Congregation Monster Brew Nov 2nd

We still have room for more brewers on Learn to Brew Day, Saturday, November 2nd, 2013 at Congregation Ale House.   If you haven’t already signed up, drop me a line at [email protected] by Monday, Oct 28th.  One 5-gallon batch of wort per person will be available on a first sign-up first served basis.   The wort is free, but you must sign up ahead of time to guarantee your batch.

Read the full story here.

Congregation Ale House Monster Brew November 2 – Sign Up Now

Join us for a unique opportunity to brew  congregation a batch of beer at Congregation Ale House on Learn to Brew Day,Saturday, November 2nd, 2013.  Caleb and tRav have graciously offered us this opportunity after we Pacific Gravity members demonstrated our brewing prowess by capturing the most awards in the 2012 Pacific Brewers Cup.    The wort is free, but you must sign up ahead of time to guarantee your batch.  If you didn’t sign up at the October club meeting, drop me a line at [email protected].  One 5-gallon batch of wort per person will be available on a first sign-up first served basis.    Read more