Friday, April 1, 2016

Common Homebrewing Myths

There are common misconceptions with homebrewing that persists with many people that have "heard" about the hobby, or "has a friend that does it", and these perceptions keep people away from a fulfilling and fun craft that produces amazing products.
Here are a few myths we at Salt City Brew Supply and Ogden City Brew Supply here quite often,
and we can help put them to rest:

Myth - Brewing Beer Takes Too Much Time
Accuracy - Somewhat True
Truth - Brewing beer takes a few hours to steep/mash grain, boil and add hops, cool down and add yeast. After your brew day, it takes a few weeks to ferment, and clear, followed by an hour or two to bottle your finished beer, and another week or so to carbonate. All in all, you will spend 4-8 hours of labor to get your beer ready to drink and 4-6 weeks of waiting.

Making wine from a kit takes only a total of 2-4 hours of labor to get your wine finished an in bottles, but it takes higher alcohol beverages, such as wine, more time to mature. Depending on the wine you could be waiting 8 weeks to a year for proper aging.

It is certainly quicker to grab a 12 pack of beer or a bottle of wine from the store, but really, you just have to wait for that first batch. Keep a steady rotation fermenting, and you'll find you don't even have to drive to the store, it will already be at your house waiting for you!

Myth - Making your own beer and wine at home can make you sick
Accuracy - False
Truth - Homebrewing beer and wine is safe and easy to do without spoiling you product. Beer and wine are both food products and if not handled properly they can go "bad", but nothing that grows in fermenting beer or wine can hurt you. The worst that can happen is you make something that doesn't taste very good, or you get an infection of acetobacter which will eventually turn your drink to vinegar... but even that can be good... maybe not what you were shooting for... but good none the less.

The fact is, if you keep your equipment clean and sanitized you never have to have a "bad" batch of beer or wine, and there are products available today to make this process as simple as clean, rinse, sanitize! There are no-rinse sanitizers like StarSan, that are harmless to the touch, and break down into yeast food that actually helps your beer and wine ferment. Now getting sick from drinking too much of your delicious beer or wine, is something we just can't help you with. Hangovers, sometimes, are inevitable

Myth - Too Much Homebrew Will Make Me Gain Weight
Accuracy - Oversimplification, but True
Truth - Drinking alcoholic beverages in excess can lead to weight gain. Alcohol = Calories. When the calories consumed are greater than the calories burned, unfortunately we gain weight. Since drinking calories doesn't seem as bad as eating them, it can make it easy to over indulge. This is just a universal truth however, and doesn't have any more bearing on Homebrewed beer or wine than imbibing the same drink from a commercial provider. So if you typically drink a pint of beer or a glass of wine for dinner, then drinking the home brewed version won't have any different affect on your waistline.

Myth - Making Alcohol in Utah is Against the Law
Accuracy - False
Truth - According to House Bill 51 passed in 2009 it is legal to homebrew "(A) 100 gallons in a calendar year, if there is one individual that is 21 years of age or older residing in the household; or (B) 200 gallons in a calendar year, if there are two or more individuals who are 21 years of age or older residing in the household;" This means you can brew your favorite beer, wine or cider without any license. Just don't sell it. And distilling it (heating your alcohol to collect the vapor, then recondensing it for a higher percentage) is Federally illegal, so stick to fermenting, and you will stay well withing the law. The only hard decision now is what kind of beer or wine to make!

There are more Homebrew Myths to come, but if you didn't see your question answered here, feel free to contact us at the stores, follow us on Facebook, or email

Monday, October 12, 2015

Winexpert Limited Edition 2015

Here is this year's Limited Edition 2015

A unique collection of five distinguished varietals from some of the world’s most renowned wine-growing regions. Available by pre-order only. Order yours by December 4th, just $25 down.
Pre-orders available at both the Salt City Brew Supply and Ogden City Brew Supply locations, or online!

Gewurztraminer Verdelho Muscat

Mosaic Red

Pinot Grigio Verduzzo


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Top 12 Mistakes New Homebrewers Make - Again

This was one of our first posts here on the SCBS blog, but it is a good one, and with all the new brewers out there that just got a brew kit for Christmas, it is a great time to blow the dust off of it and put it at the top of the blog once again. Here are a dozen things that can help the new home brewer when starting out. These are common issues that can easily be avoided and help make a better beer.

12. Using 5 ounces priming sugar

Your Local Home Brew Store (LHBS) will often sell pre packaged priming sugar for bottling, which is just what you want for a five gallon batch for most beers (1oz/gallon). However, many batches of beer may start as five gallons, but after transferring the beer off the yeast cake, evaporation, samples you take, and any spills that may happen, the final bottling volume of beer may be considerably less than this. If the full 5oz of priming sugar is used, this can create an overly carbonated bottle of beer that could potentially just spew out foam when opened or poured.
11. Relying on Airlock / Not waiting long enoughGetting excited about your first few batches of beer is common, but moving them along too quickly in the process can be a mistake. Getting anxious to bottle your beer before it has fully fermented can result in blown bottles down the road. Relying on just the airlock as an indicator that your beer is done and ready to be bottled is a common mistake. Even after your airlock has stopped is it a good idea to let you beer age for a while. The extra time won’t hurt it. The only way to truly tell that your beer has stopped fermenting is by taking a hydrometer reading a couple days apart to make sure the specific gravity is not changing.
10. Squeezing the bag after steeping
Steeping grain is something you can do to greatly improve an extract only beer. Most ingredient kits are built with a healthy amount of steeping grain and a muslin bag (sock) to hold it all (1-3 pounds). After steeping the bag of grain in some warm water you should pull it out and discard it. However, it is a natural tendency to want to squeeze this bag of grainy goodness to get all the sweet liquid from it, but this is not a good idea. There is a bitterness (and not the good kind you get from hops) that reside in the barley husk, that can be very noticeable in your final beer.

 9.Starting with a complicated beerIt is true, that for many beers the brewing process is very similar, but as a beginner it is easy to get excited and want to go for a complex and high alcohol beer such as an Imperial Stout, Belgian Tripel or Double IPA. These beers can have extra steps or ingredients, or just a bunch of hop additions to keep track of, but the biggest reason not to start with one is time. Big beers need time to age properly and you don’t want to wait 3-6 months to find out you did something wrong. Worse, if you only have one equipment kit, you will be taking up space in your secondary fermenter for three months and not brewing more beer. Start with some beers that will be done in a month or so, if for no other reason than to fill the fridge before you start aging your 10% monster brew.
8. Not following the recipe/Just following the recipe/worrying too much
Some people get stuck doing exactly what the instructions say which leads to some anxiety when the inevitable problem/situation happens that forces them off that course. Others throw caution to the wind and start adding a bunch of extras like 50% more extract or hops than the recipe calls for. Both of these extremes will produce beer, but brewing should both be fun and produce good beer. Getting too worked up about getting everything just right can reduce the amount of fun you have while you are getting into a new hobby, and throwing your beer out of any recognizable style can possibly make the beer something you don’t want to drink. So don’t worry while you are brewing your first beer, just have fun while trying to brew a recipe that is tried and true so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
7. Not removing brew pot from heat
You will probably have a boil-over eventually, but there is a really easy way to help keep this from happening. If you remove your kettle from the heat source before you add your extract the slower thermal change will help keep this from happening (at least less violently). There is also the added benefit of not scorching your Liquid Extract as you add it, since there won’t be a direct heat source on it as sits on the bottom of the pot before you get it stirred up and in solution.
6. Not aerating the wort adequately
To make it simple, your yeast needs only a couple of things to sustain a healthy start to fermentation; sugar and oxygen. The only time you should intentionally add Oxygen to your beer is when you are adding (pitching) your yeast. Feel free to shake, aggressively pour, or slosh your wort (unfermented beer) at this point in time, as this will introduce the Oxygen that your yeast needs to reproduce at a healthy rate.
5. Wrong temps
Temperature control is what making beer is all about. It is a little less critical in an extract/grain kit, but controlling the temperature at every stage of brewing is what leads to consistent results and minimal off flavors. Just as a rule of thumb for ales; 155°F (Steeping), Aggressive boil, 70°F (pitching yeast), then 60-70°F (fermentation).
4. Not keeping records
This might not seem as important as some of the other things, but if you don’t keep notes of - what you used in your recipe, how much yeast you added, and what temperature you fermented at and for how long, you could find yourself wishing that you had down the road. These are just some of the notes you need to record per batch so you can dial in your recipe for the best beer the world has ever seen, make the same beer over again... or heaven forbid, help you sort out what went wrong.
3. Chlorine
Many municipal water supplies have a good water profile for making beer. Hard water can be good for some beers, soft can be good for others, but chlorine (or the more stubborn form, chloramine) is not good for any beer. Depending on the amount you get in your finished beer it can lead to a plastic or even band-aid taste, which can be very unpleasant. Using fresh spring water is ideal, but you can also treat your water with campden (metabisulfite) to help the chlorine “gas-out”. Just one campden tablet can treat up to 20 gallons of water.
2. Incorrect pitch rate
Adding yeast to your cooled down wort (pitching) is pretty straightforward, but adding the correct amount is a really easy way to reduce “off flavors”, and unfortunately this is commonly overlooked by the home brewer. There are benefits to having a quick start to your fermentation, and adding correct amount of yeast cells to your batch can make that happen. Your LHBS can give you the long explanation on how to calculate the correct pitch rate, but for a 5 gallon batch of beer over 5% alcohol, you will benefit from either one packet of dry yeast, or two packs (or vials) of liquid yeast. You will need even more than this for even higher alcohol beers, or any lagers.
1. Cleanser vs Sanitizer
Back in the old days of the 1990s and earlier, home brewers would use soap to clean and either iodine or bleach to sanitize, but this combination was hard to deal with and replaced worrying about bacteria to worrying about off flavors from soaps and chemicals. These days home brewers have access to products made specifically for their hobby, but starting out you may get these items confused.  First use a cleanser to clean any organic matter from your equipment such as One Step, or PBW (both brands are cleansers designed for brewing). These products contain what is essentially dry hydrogen peroxide and while some people even use them as sanitizers, they tend to leave a film so rinsing is recommended, and once you rinse something, you are assuming the water you used for rinsing is free of microorganisms. This is where sanitizer comes in. Products like StarSan and iodophor are no rinse sanitizers that will not harm your beer. However, you can’t sanitize something if it isn’t first cleaned, so clean  with a cleanser then sanitize with a sanitizer, and you will greatly minimize the potential for a ruined beer. Some may call this over kill, but it is a small price to pay to avoid dumping 5 gallons of precious beer down the drain.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Limited Edition Wine Kits 2014

A unique collection of five distinguished varietals from some of the world’s most renowned wine-growing regions. Available by pre-order only. Order yours by December 5th, just $25 down. German Riesling
Riesling, with its pronounced acidity and ability to mask sweetness, is a grape that is happy in a cooler climate. Its notable flavors of lemon, fresh apple and limestone will encapsulate you with its tangy acidic kick and the soft, gentle sweetness on the finish to tie it all together. This wine loves food, and many sommeliers often reach for Riesling as their wild card. This German example would pair beautifully with schnitzel, white fish, or simply a good book.
Sweet Thai Glazed Shrimp Skewers

Sweetness: Off-Dry
Body: Light-Medium
Alcohol: 10%


January, 2015

WINE: Shiraz Viognier
This Northern Rhône-inspired blend takes the spicy, strong and tannic red grape Shiraz and softens its edge with the voluptuous white grape Viognier. These wines are a beautiful marriage of black cherry, smoky plum, black pepper from the Shiraz and hints of exotic jasmine flower, ripe apricot and juicy peach from the Viognier. Enjoy this full-bodied wine with grilled lamb stuffed with an apricot-mint stuffing or barbecued ribs coated with a sticky sauce. If meat is not on the horizon, then try dishes such as grilled vegetable kebabs or portobello mushroom burgers.

Beef & Mushroom Cottage Pies
Sweetness: Dry
Body: Medium-Full
Alcohol: 14%
January, 2015

WINE: Trio Blanca
The three grapes that make up this blend are distinct characters indeed. Chardonnay is the popular and adaptable friend with apple and melon characteristics. Chenin Blanc reflects the soil well in its chalk and citrus aromatics, while its acidity anchors its structure down on the palate. Finally, lady Muscat with her wildly perfumed nose and distinctive “grapey” flavor gives the blend a refreshingly fun and juicy addition. This wine is sip-worthy on its own, but will also pair well with fuller white meats such as roasted turkey or duck, and exotic flavors like curries and south-Asian cuisine.
Lemon & Sage Flattened Chicken
Sweetness: Dry
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 13.5%
March, 2015
WINE: Triumph
This blend of Bordeaux’s finest; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot is proof that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” These three friends all work so well together and each contributes their individual strength to the wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, or “King Cab”, brings the structure with his firm tannins and adds complexity with his aromas of cassis and black currant. Cabernet Franc adds spice, with his peppery nose and red fruit undertones. Merlot likes to round things out with his approachable plum and cherry characteristics and his softer, rounder body. Together, they really do create a harmonious blend. Think of dishes that warm your stomach: beef stroganoff in the winter, steak on the barbecue in the summer, or simply aged cheddar for any time of year.
Wild Mushroom and Arugula Ragu
Sweetness: Dry
Body: Medium-Full
Alcohol: 13.5%
February, 2015
WINE: Super Tuscan
Super Tuscans are proof that winemakers are also rebels in their own right. In the appellation of Chianti, where rules limited winemakers to certain grape varietals and practices in order to warrant official status, in the 1970s a few winemakers decided to break the rules and make wines that they decided were of superior quality, and disregarded the limitations. Coined “Super Tuscan”, this full-bodied wine consists of Cabernet Sauvignon and the native Sangiovese, and has firm tannins, notes of cherry and currant and a long finish. Italy is the land of food and wine, so naturally these wines are a perfect match with food. Try spaghetti Bolognese, osso buco or a big wedge of asiago cheese.
Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank With Creamy Polenta
Sweetness: Dry
Body: Full
Alcohol: 14%
April, 2015




Sunday, October 26, 2014

Grand Opening at new location and Learn to Homebrew Day



Just across the street to the North at 723 E Fort Union

In an effort to serve our customers better, we have added a mill room to keep down the dust, 8 feet more grain wall to display more grain, a larger hop freezer to display more hops... and yes, we now have a back room for storage. No more relying on our supplier so heavily to stay in stock with all the ingredients you need to make your next batch.

We are growing our wine selection by 20% as well, and we will be adding cheese making supplies in the near future. 
Our Grand Opening will be this Saturday in conjunction with an AHA sanctioned "Learn to Homebrew Day" event. We will be hosting a Beginning Homebrew Class starting at 1:00 PM. So, come out and join us to see the new location, join the class if you would like to learn to brew, and stay for some prizes.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kinda Corny

Corn gets a bad rap these days with the constant onslaught of anti-high fructose corn syrup rhetoric, so as a native Iowan I find myself constantly compelled to defend this amazing plant. Not just because of corn's contribution to beer (which we will get to in a bit), but because it is wholly American and deserves some recognition.

While wheat and barley certainly are at the roots of beer and even civilization itself, corn was the dominant grain crop for the Western hemisphere for thousands of year before Columbus. Much different than today's corn on the cob, Maize was cultivated in the Americas long before America was even "discovered", and while it's transition to a European staple was slow, it eventually became a dominant crop in Europe and the rest of much of the world.

Fruit, Vegetable or Grain? Yep! Since the reproductive parts of the plant reside in the corn kernel, it is a fruit. Since the kernel can be dried and stored, as well as planted, it is a grain. And, since it is part of the vegetation of the plant (before maturity) and we eat it, it is also a vegetable. "Field corn that is harvested when the seeds are dry would thus be considered a grain. Sweet corn when harvested before maturity is usually considered a vegetable. It is however, actually classified by botanists as a fruit."

Why do I feel obligated to defend corn as a native from Iowa? Well, child hood memories of the dangers of walking into a cornfield and getting lost aside, Iowa is the largest producer of corn in the U.S. (sorry Nebraska and Illinois), and the U.S. produces 40% of the worlds corn which feeds not only the U.S. but people all over the world. Indeed, I once heard that Iowa produces more corn than any other single country in the world! At a high water mark, Iowa production was 14.4 million acres, or roughly the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined (or just larger than the size of Belgium) While corn likely had it's modest, but important beginnings in what is now Mexico, the Midwest of the U.S.A has everything needed for this crop to shine.

So why does corn sugar get a bad rap? Well, because people like a scapegoat, and many nutritionists (some without any health credentials to speak of) latched on to the ominous sounding High Fructose Corn Syrup a decade or so ago, and didn't let go, blaming it for everything from obesity to cancer. And while there seems to be a general overuse of sugar (of any kind) in the pre-packaged food we eat today, the fact of different sugars is this: Glucose is the sugar in blood, and dextrose is the name given to glucose produced from corn. Biochemically they are identical. Fructose is the principal sugar in fruit, and since corn is technically a fruit, when ripened, corn starch produces fructose as well as dextrose. In comparison, sucrose is table sugar. It is a double sugar, containing one part each of glucose and fructose, chemically bound together. The human intestine quickly and efficiently split sucrose into glucose and fructose, which are absorbed into the body as single sugars. HFCS is made from corn starch. It contains roughly equivalent amounts of glucose (45 to 58%) and fructose (42 to 55%). There is no difference to your body (except that there is no need for your body to split the sugars as it is already separate in HFCS). Indeed, the American Medical Association, and The Center for Science in the Public Interest seem to agree there is no scientific evidence to suggest that HFCS have any different effect on the body than other types of sugar, but that Americans consume to much sugar in general.

And this all brings us to the beer and wine makers. We would rather turn sugar into alcohol, and there
is no better way to do this than with corn sugar (dextrose specifically). Since Dextrose is a monosaccharaide (simple sugar) it is easy for yeast to eat and is the first to ferment, making an almost 100% conversion into alcohol. For this reason, dextrose is used in many beer styles to add alcohol while keeping the body light and clean (meaning not much flavor). The homebrewer also uses dextrose to bottle condition their beers in the form of "priming sugar" since dextrose doesn't leave residual sweetness or flavor behind. While the use of corn or dextrose does go against the  Reinheitsgebot (German beer purity law), it has become common use in Belgian and American beer styles. Whole or Flaked corn is used in some European pale recipes such as bitters and ESBs, but exist in many American versions of Pilsners, Light Lagers, Blondes, Cream Ales and Pale Ales.

From making a light bodied beer to creating a dry wine or cider (or a cheap base for a distillate), corn and corn sugar will always be an important tool in the hombrewers list of ingredients, and one that has its roots in the Western hemisphere, not in the pretentious "cradle of civilization" like that of wheat, barley and grapes. So use corn, make booze, and be proud!

Kentucky Common
(Yep, its a style - Dark Cream Ale)

5 Gallon Recipe: 1.049 SG, 1.010 FG, 27 IBU, 5% ABV
3.25# Corn Grits (or Flaked Corn)
5.5#   6-Row Malt
.25#   Cara 60
.25#   Black Malt
.5 oz   Cluster @ 60min
.5 oz   Cluster @ 35min
.5 oz  Hallertau @ 20min
.5 oz  Hallertau @ 0min

Yeast is Unknown, but is probably a variant of a lager strain that ferments warm:
Wyeast 2112
It is also speculated that this beer was sour and most likely Used Lactobacillus Brevis:
Wyeast 5335

 "I spy, with my little eye, something that starts with C."
~ Children of the Corn

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cherry’s are here. It’s time to make booze!

There are a lot of people this time of year that have more cherry’s than they know what to do with, and since you can only make so many pies, you might as well make some booze. A few options would be beer, cider, or wine!

For any of the following recipes, make sure your cherries are de-stemmed, cleaned and pitted, free of worms and are as ripe as possible.

If you are a beer brewer and don’t like wine, beer is the obvious option, but if you haven’t added fruit to a beer before, you might be hesitant. Don’t worry, adding fruit to a beer is easy, and can produce great results. The big question is, what kind of beer goes well with cherries? Well, if you like beer, and you like the taste of cherries, the options are pretty much limitless. Most people think of light colored and light bodied beers like a Hefe or a Blonde, but the tart flavor goes well with sour beers like berliner weisse or lambics. But, sometimes the overlooked beers for fruit are the dark beers, and sweet or tart cherries work well in porters and stouts. Try adding 5 pounds of tart cherries to your fermenting dry Irish stout, and get an easy drinking cherry stout:

Light LME - 6 lb
  (or 8 lbs 2-row pale malt for all grain brewers)
Flaked Barley 1 lb
UK Roasted Barley = 12 oz
Acid Malt - 4 oz
UK Black Malt - 4 oz
Kent Goldings - 2 oz @ 60 min
Cherries - 3-5 lbs
Yeast: Wyeast 1084 or Lallemand Nottingham dry
OG: 1.046, FG: 1.010, IBU: 32, ABV: 4.4%

Add cherries to the end of primary fermentation or to start of secondary fermentation. This will create a reactivation of the yeast and will start fermentation again. Once this second fermentation has stopped, transfer to another vessel for clearing and aging, or bottle.

Making cider can be an easy way to ferment some cherries also. This can be done with just cherry juice, or as an apple cherry blend. While the blend is more popular, if you love cherries, try it straight. Using just cherry juice will give you a starting gravity of 1.055-1.065, just right for a cider. Much like an apple or pear cider, the only thing really needed is juice and yeast. Since even “sweet” cherries are relatively tart, I would recommend starting with sweet cherries so you don’t get something too sour to drink, but some people like it sour, so do whatever you like, it is homebrewing after all. Make a 1 gallon batch to start, and go from there:
Sweet Cherry Juice 1 Gal
Yeast: Wyeast Cider or Mangrove Jack Cider dry
Yeast Nutrient
OG: 1.046, FG: 1.010, ABV: 4.4%

Not much to do here. Just ferment your juice in either double or single stage and bottle. Try it carbonated.

Many people think that after grapes, cherries make the best wine, and cherries also blend well with grape wines, but for the sake of purity we will just discuss a straight cherry wine. Like the cider you can use a sweet or tart cherries, or a blend of whatever you have, but unlike the cider, instead of just cherry juice, we will use sugar and water to bump the volume and alcohol. It is a bit counterintuitive, but the cherry wine recipe takes fewer cherries than the cider recipe, but again it is homebrewing, so make some 1 gallon batches with varying amounts of cherry juice to see what you like best:
Fresh or frozen sweet cherries 4-6 lbs
  (or 1 gallon black cherry juice, pure or reconstituted)
Finely granulated sugar 2-3 lbs
Water 1 gallon (omit if using 1 gallon juice)
Acid blend 1 tsp
Pectic enzyme 1/2 tsp
Yeast nutrient 1 tsp
Montrachet or Premier Cuvee wine yeast

Whether you use juice or water you can use a nylon bag to “steep” the cherry “pulp” in your primary fermenter, this should add some body and character to your wine. Remove bag when transferring to your secondary vessel (or after 5 days).