How to: Culture Bell’s house yeast from a bottle of Bell’s beer
We don’t offer our house yeast for sale. But since we don’t filter any of our ales either, you can harvest it directly from the bottle.
Any of our non-Belgian ales are good candidates for this. If you can get your hands on them, Oberon, Midwestern Pale Ale and Amber Ale are all good choices.
What you will need: 1-3 bottles of beer, a vessel, a flame source and the same ingredients required to build a yeast starter.
1. Refrigerate your bottle of beer for one week. Make sure you have a nice slurry on the bottom. Two to three bottles will yield better results.
2. Open bottle and sanitize the lip with a flame.
NOTE: You may also want to spray sanitizer on and around the cap before opening.
3. Gently pour the beer into a glass, leaving the sediment (yeast) in the bottle.
4. Swirl the sediment/yeast in the bottle and re-flame the lip.
5. Pour sediment into a sanitized container.
6. Grow your yeast using a stepped starter – start with 75ML (about 1/3 of a cup) of wort, then let ferment for two to three days. Then add an additional 750ML of wort and let ferment an additional two to three days.
“I hope this shows that you don’t have to have been homebrewing for years to make good beer. Anyone who is passionate about brewing and takes the time to learn about the art and science of the craft can apply what they learn and brew beer they are proud to share with others.”—We’re tapping the winning beer from our 3rd Annual Homebrew Competition at the Eccentric Cafe tomorrow at 3 p.m. Read more about the winner and his beer on the Bell’s Blog.
“Your dad was into craft beer before you were and he has one of the best breweries around to prove it. He was the MacGyver of making drunk, the Mozart of all things malt. He could bottle a beer with one hand, seduce your mother with the other and still never spill a drop.
So hipsters, next time you’re belly up to the bar, scratching your beard and staring at the tap selection like it was an assortment of Levi’s skinny jeans, remember this…
Your dad knew beer before you did and you can taste his knowledge on your local tap by ordering a Bell’s.
Much Thanks to Laura B. for submitting a photo of Larry Bell of Bell’s Brewery.
I tip my cycling cap and raise a glass of Oberon to you sir. You brew a beer that reminds me of being home in Michigan.”—Dads are the Original Hipsters
Here are some commonly asked questions (and answers) about this year’s Homebrew Competition. For more on the competition itself, go here.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: There is no charge. The 5 gallons of wort are free.
Q: How much wort will be available?
We won’t know exactly how much we will end up with until the wort is made, but last year we were able to give 5 gallons of wort to 205 homebrewers. We hope to be in that ballpark again this year, but things happen during wort transfers that can affect that number. We recommend arriving early to sign up and make sure you get your wort.
Q: I can’t be there until later in the day. Is there any way I can bring my vessel to you early and pick up the wort when I’m able?
Sorry, but we only have so much wort to give away so we are forced to give it to those in attendance on Sept. 8 (sign-up begins at 11 a.m.).
Q: Can I add extract/sugars/steeping grains/water/etc. to the wort?
You can add whatever you like. However, if your homebrew is chosen as the winner, we will have to be able to figure out a way to make your beer on a much larger scale. So please, take good, detailed notes of everything you do to the wort.
Q: I can’t make it to the Expo. Can I send my friend/wife/whoever to pick the wort up for me?
Yes. We aren’t concerned with who takes the wort, so much as we are with who turns bottles in to be judged in October. We do ask that you don’t bring friends or relatives who don’t brew, just so you can have an extra 5+ gallons of wort. We are relying on the goodwill of homebrewers to help each other out and share the wealth. Please help us make sure all who want to compete are able.
Q: What do I need to bring in order to get the wort?
A: Please bring a sanitized vessel capable of holding 5 gallons. A bucket, a carboy (please be extra careful handling glass carboys) or a cornelius keg are the most common. You can leave your vessel in your vehicle until it’s time to pick up your wort (we will start distributing the wort around 1 p.m.). Please sanitize your vessel prior to your pick-up time to help us make sure everyone gets their wort.
This handy carboy transportation system from Plainwell, Michigan, is easy to install and adjustable. It fits 5 gallon and 6.5 gallon glass as well as Better Bottle carboys. Available in several colors, Brew Hauler is washable and bleach resistant.
Recipe for chocolate chip pretzel cookies will help put spent grains to good use
Have some spent grain on your hands? Make some cookies - here’s how.
Recipe courtesy of Beth Campell-Raich.
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup spent grain
1 cup roughly crushed pretzels
1 cup chocolate chips
Optional ingredients: 1 cup of nuts, cranberries, or M&Ms
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients and mix well until just combined. Stir in the spent grains, pretzels and chocolate chips until just incorporated. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
Drop onto cookie sheets with rounded tablespoons. Bake until lightly brown - 14-16 minutes. Let stand on cookie sheets for 2 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool.
Different types of grains will impose different flavors - have fun and experiment.
Try putting your grains through a food processor before adding them to the dough.
Quick poll: Would you attend an all-grain homebrewing demo on a Saturday?
While our monthly homebrew demonstrations are typically held during the week, we have been mulling over the possibility of offering an all-grain demo on a Saturday at the Eccentric Cafe in downtown Kalamazoo.
Help us choose the Bell's General Store's next hop variety (poll)
We have an open spot for a new hop variety at the Bell’s General Store and we want you to help us choose which one to offer.
Below are the descriptions for each, along with a poll to vote for your favorite.
Voting will close on Tuesday, May 29 at 10 a.m.
MILLENNIUM: A triploid, high alpha acid variety with Nugget as the mother with a mild herbal aroma. Used for ales, stouts and barley wines.
ZYTHOS™: A proprietary hop blend created to embody the powerful tradition and aroma you expect from your finest ales and IPA brews. With a targeted brewing value of 11.9% alpha and 5.0% beta, ZYTHOS™ is an IPA style blend created to optimize and exceed the aroma characteristics you require. ZYTHOS™ is not a replacement for proprietary varieties, but rather a premium pellet blend that will compliment your current IPA and Pale Ale brews.
MOTEUKA: An excellent hop in many applications from first kettle additions through to late gift. This hop offers a unique aroma and flavor making it suitable for producing bigger, more traditional style Lagers, especially a Bohemian Pilsener. Excellent when employed in multiple additions from a single hop bill and sits well on the palate to balance specialty malt sweetness. An excellent variety for Belgian Ales and gives a real edge to Cask Bitter.
PACIFIC JADE: Suited for use as a bittering hop with some excellent results also seen in dual purpose applications, with a soft bitterness attributable to the low cohumulone. The citrus aroma and flavor notes work well to temper malt sweetness in “fullish” Ales especially when used moderately as a finishing hop. Pacific Jade is also well suited to balance dryer Lager styles when employed as an “up-front” kettle addition to showcase its bittering qualities.
STYRIAN AURORA: Moderate-alpha with powerful hoppy aroma, very versatile - try in US, Belgian or English ales.