2020 Homebrew Highlights

Last year I compiled a list of my homebrewing highlights and the things I've learnt along this awesome journey. Its a pretty cool feeling to look back over time and see how far you've come as well as see how many brews you have under your belt.

2020 was my fourth (and craziest!) year of homebrewing. While 2020 was a weird year for the whole world, it gave me the opportunity to brew more than ever. I honestly still feel like I am learning with each brew completed. This is one amazing hobby!

Humebrew Apricot Sour Ale

Favourite Batch

Towards the end of 2020, I brewed a batch of beer using a new purchase, the Fermenter King Junior. I brewed a beer based on the Beachwood Amalgamish IPA recipe and fermented it under pressure. It's called "Pimpi" and is named after one of my daughters dolls. I guess thats what happens when you ask a 2 year what the name of your next beer should be! The reason it was so good was that the hops really shone through, more so than any other brew I'd made in 2020. I am certain that dry hopping under pressure had something to do with it.

For more information on the recipe, please see the following link to the Brewfather recipe.

Least Favorite Batch

I attempted to brew a hoppy Mexican Style Lager inspired by the Alvarado Street Lager - Citraveza. Being based in the UK, I've never actually tasted the Alvarado Street version, but I'm pretty sure it tasted better than my version! I used Omega Yeast's Lutra, but unfortunately I added too many hops and ended up ruining the beer. Sad to say....this one was a dumper.

Most Fun New Style/Recipe to Try

At the beginning of 2020, I started a Solera project with a batch of Lambic inspired beer. Learning about sour beers has taught me a whole new world of things as well as an appreciation for this style. I plan of blogging about my Solera project soon.

Best Technique Added to Repertoire

Fermenting under pressure. I purchased (and reviewed) the Fermenter King Junior which allowed me to ferment and dry hop under pressure.

Re-using yeast. At certain points throughout 2020, some of the homebrew shops in the UK were so inundated with orders (during COVID) that it was almost impossible to get hold of brewing ingredients. This forced me to be clever about my ingredients and buy in bulk, and reuse as much as possible. I've been getting into reusing yeast and it's been great. I've found that it has helped me cut costs, but also that the yeast is hungry and takes off like a rocket from generation to generation.

Best Ingredients Added to Repertoire

Spelt malt. I’ve used it a lot in my Saisons and I am very happy with how they have turned out. I find that spelt really aids the dryness of a beer, especially in a style like Saison.

Favourite Book(s)

I keep coming back to American Sour Beers by Michael Tonsmeire. What an awesome book and an excellent resource.

While it doesn't necessarily fit under the "book" category, I have been reading a lot of Craft Beer & Brewing magazines. I subscribed recently and all I can say is the content is amazing. So much to learn and a great way to keep up with all things brewing.

Lessons Learnt

  • Brewing BIG beers is super fun! The joy of cracking one open after a few months to a year is a great way to start cellaring and keeping great beer.
  • Don't get too cocky with your mash schedules. I've fallen a few points short of my desired OG by cutting corners.
  • Patience is a virtue when brewing sour beers!
  • Keep your IBUs low when brewing sour beers, else the bittnerness will inhibit the Lactobactillus production - resulting in little to no sourness.

Overall Stats

This year I brewed around 24 batches of beer - a lot more than previous years. I've been brewing a lot of split batch beers which might account for the increase since last year (15 brews in 2019).

Cheers to another year of homebrewing. I am looking forward to seeing how 2021 turns out (including more sour beers that are waiting to be bottled!).