Author Archives: wil

That Time I Made A Triple IPA (Pliny the Younger-ish) With Brewing TV

Here is the first part of a multi-part episode of Brewing TV, that we filmed on my patio about two months ago.

Bee tee dubs: the final beer we ended up with is fantastic. I have most of it on tap in my game room, but I did share a couple bottles with Chip and Brad, because it would have been rude not to.

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Brewday: Belgian Dubbel Ale

It’s been far too long since I spent an afternoon brewing, and with the weather here at the Devil’s Gate being so warm and wonderful, this weekend was a perfect opportunity to make a Belgian Dubbel Ale.

I had a lovely time brewing, and I documented in pretty much real time on Twitter. If you don’t see anything below, you may need to let an extension allow Twitter (Ghostery and NoScript block it, for good reason):


I realized I’d made a stupid typo:

This is the first boilover I’ve had in over a year. It could have been much worse, but I caught it seconds after the hot break.

I made a mistake here, because I was trying to do too many things at once. The hops addition should have happened at 10, and the Candi at 15.

So the Candi was only in the boil for 10, but with a five minute whilrpool before I added the chiller, I think it’ll be okay.

We’re having a drought here, so when I use an immersion chiller, I always collect the water that goes through the coil, and save it to wash my equipment, give to my dogs, or water my plants. Yesterday, I used about 25 gallons to chill the wort to 80, and was able to reuse all of that collected water to clean all my equipment, fill my dog’s water dish, and rinse off my hands when I was done. I’m getting a plate chiller soon so this won’t be an issue as summer arrives and the water crisis gets even worse.

I played the waiting game for much longer than anticipated, probably because I didn’t make a starter, and probably pitched a tiny bit too warm. But as of right now, about 20 hours later, it’s going nuts.

I undershot the OG by a bit. I wanted to hit 1.061, and I got 1.058 (maybe 1.059, if I’m generously reading the hydrometer). Presuming that I get to somewhere between 74% and 80% ADT, I should finish up between 6.5% and 7% ABV, which is a tiny bit on the low side, but within the BJCP guidelines. I also lost about a quarter gallon to hops trub, because I didn’t have any hops bags, which left me with about 4.75 gallons instead of 5. It’s not the worst thing in the world, and theoretically lets me moderately over-pitch, to really let the yeast esters go nuts. I used Wyeast 1214, and I expect it to give me some nice floral and spice notes.

A couple of updates to existing brews: My Pliny clone, Pompey the Great, is nearly gone, because it’s incredibly popular with my friends (#homebrewerproblems). I’ll probably put the porter on when that keg is blown.

I checked my extract w00tstout last night, because it had been in primary for two weeks. The gravity has fallen to about 1.022 (from 1.108), which math tells me is about 11%. I’d love to get it up to 12.5%, like #w00tstout Prime, and the airlock is still bubbling, so I’m going to let it hang out in primary for another week. The sample tasted incredible, with heavy chocolate notes and not a lot of booze.

I also made a super quick and super easy apple cider, because I already had all my equipment out. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with it, because it calls for 6 gallons of top-off and a 7 gallon fermentor, but I only had 5 gallon fermentors available. I won’t add anything to sweeten it, but I expect it’ll be a little bit sweeter than I wanted, just because of the extra concentrated nature of the beast. One thing I really like is being able to leave it uncovered by a T-shirt in the carboy, because there’s no hops, and I can watch the yeast do their thing. If you’ve never watched yeast swirl around during fermentation, do it. It’s really neat.

Happy brewing, everyone!

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On the Brewing of Double IPAs

Things have been quiet around here for the last few months. A combination of insane travel schedules and work responsibilities have left me very little time to brew. In fact, I have just two things happening at the moment: w00tstout in secondary (on bourbon-soaked oak chips), and Pompey the Great on draft.

The Pompey The Great (my name for Northern Brewer’s Plinian Legacy) I made is on tap in the game room, now, and it’s delicious. I’m finding that I love double IPAs more than their traditional counterparts because of the malt sweetness that balances the bitterness. Don’t get me wrong — I still love a good Ruination from time to time — but DIPAs like Pliny and Firestone’s Double Jack (and the limited-release Double DBA, if you can find it) are rapidly becoming my go-to choices.

So let’s talk a little bit about the things we need to consider when we’re making a double IPA, as opposed to a traditional IPA. These notes primarily apply to all-grain, but there’s advice for extracts in here, too:

  • I was very surprised when I did my extract Plinian Legacy, because after the boil was finished, I had a thick, sticky, extremely viscous mass in my kettle. It really looked like I’d done something wrong and wrecked the brew, until I collected everything out of the kettle (I had to scrape it out with a spatula, it was so thick) and topped it off. It was very useful to have Brewsmith on hand to make sure I used the right amount of water to top up.
  • Following on from that first point: don’t panic if your extract kit seems to be super-concentrated at the end of the boil; once you top up, it’ll be fine.
  • In fact, when you top up, put about a gallon and a half into the fermenter before you add the wort, and then top it off with water. This way you’ll minimize striation and get a more accurate hydrometer reading.
  • Our mash time will probably be closer to 90 minutes than 60, because we need to extract more sugars to hit our target gravity. This also means that our sparge will be longer, and we’ll need to be very patient during the entire lautering process.
  • Plan on losing a gallon per hour to boiloff, and another gallon to dead space in your kettle, and collect eight gallons of wort if you can (be careful that you don’t make it too thin). Most double IPAs need 90 minute boils, and it’s always better to have more wort left in the kettle than make a sadface when it’s time to fill the fermenter.
  • Keep an eye on your hops. When we do double IPAs, we end up using way more hops than in a traditional IPA, and if you don’t weigh out and bag your additions ahead of time, it’s surprisingly easy to let things get mixed up.
  • Be prepared to stir your boil. The extra sugars in these brews make it dangerously easy to boilover.
  • Aerate the hell out of your wort before you pitch. I use a stainless steel stone with an aquarium pump, and usually aerate for thirty minutes.
  • Speaking of pitching, I always double pitch when I do a beer this big, because my OG is usually around 1.086 or so, and I want my yeasties to go nuts as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t rush your primary. Sometimes it can take up to two weeks for the yeast to do all of its work, and even then you may want to give it a day or two to clean up after itself. These beers can get really boozy.
  • Nearly all double IPAs use dry hop additions in secondary. While you can use a bucket or standard glass carboy for secondary, I freaking love my Big Mouth Bubblers, because it makes dropping in the hops bags easy, and clean up is stupidly simple. After trying to pull a swollen hops bag out of the neck of an older glass carboy, and ending up wearing a hops explosion, I will never go back.
  • I like to weigh down my hops bags with some sanitized marbles. DO NOT USE LEAD FISHING WEIGHTS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY DO I EVEN HAVE TO SAY THIS.
  • I like to get my beer out of secondary on a tight 10 day schedule, so that I get the maximum hop aroma possible when I finally drink the beer.
  • Remember, double IPAs are delicious, and if you’ve balanced them out properly, you may not even realize that you’re drinking a beer that can be upwards of 9% ABV. Keep an eye on that when you’re enjoying your homebrew, and beware of Bad Idea Bears.

I really love this beer style, and I’ve always found that it’s worth the wait. Happy homebrewing!

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Catching up – Porter, Pompey, and W00tstout

I didn’t have much time to homebrew over the summer, thanks to a very busy work and travel schedule, but now that Autumn is in full swing, and the end of the year has brought with it the usual slowdown in my industry, I’ve had time to set up and brew three different beers in the last few weeks.

First up, I did the St. Paul Porter from Northern Brewer (in fact, all of these kits came from Northern Brewer, because I work with them to do some of my own things). This was an extract kit with specialty grains, and I did a liveblog of it on Twitter during brew day. Here are some highlights:

It was a fun brewing session for me, and I enjoyed sharing the steps along the way with people who follow DevilsGateBrew on Twitter (it’s much lighter than my main account, so I can actually interact with people who have questions). In fact, I had such a good time with it, I hatched an idea to do a livestream video of a brew day, explaining all the steps as I do them, and taking questions during the long stretches of waiting for something to happen in the kettle. As a proof of concept for that video (and potential series) I shot a couple things and posted them to G+ when I made Northern’s Plinian Legacy kit, which I call Pompey The Great.

I can’t embed them, because why in the world would Google want to make it easy to embed things that might drive people to G+? So here are links to

The sun went down in a hurry, so it was too dark to film the last part, but after I pitched the yeast (2x 1056), it was bubbling like crazy within two hours. It’s a good thing I used a blowoff, because not only did it overflow the mason jar I was using, but it nearly filled up the little bowl I put the jar in, just to be safe. That beer will be racked to secondary next Sunday, and dry-hopped twice before it gets kegged. According to my brewing calendar, it should be ready to drink around January 16.

Yesterday, I finally had time to use all of my shiny, fancy, new equipment to make the all grain #w00tstout kit that we started selling at Northern Brewer a couple months ago. This is a huge beer, with a target OG of 1.108, 21 pounds of grain, a two and a half hour mash, and a ninety minute boil. I tweeted it, and here are some highlights:

I know it’s called a carboy, by the way. I was just being silly. It was tremendously relaxing to spend literally an entire day — from about 1030am until nearly 6pm — just taking my time to make this beer. I made a couple of small mistakes, most notably not collecting enough wort. I got about 6.5 gallons, which is usually enough for a typical 60-minute boil, but with this being a 90 minute boil, I really should have collected closer to 8 gallons. I ended up with about 4.5 gallons when I was finished boiling, and undershot my OG, ending at 1.106. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, but I’m always learning while I brew, and next time I do this kit, I’ll make sure to get more wort. (I also ended up letting the mash tun run extra runnings into a separate kettle, and got about 4 gallons of 1.030 wort, which I was going to use to make a partigyle stout today, but it’s raining. I have it refrigerated, so I’ll try to turn it into beer before the end of the day tomorrow, just for kicks, and make a 1 gallon experimental batch).

As I type this, the #w00tstout is fermenting a few feet away from me. It’s making happy, tiny bubbles in the blowoff’s Mason jar, but it isn’t filling my room with the magnificent smell of hops like the Pompey did (unsurprisingly). The recipe instructions say that it will be ready in about 3 months.

So that catches me up on my latest brewing adventures. Coming up soon, I’m going to post pictures and descriptions of my equipment, brew the extract version of #w00tstout, share a new brewer’s holiday gift guide, and maybe have a new homebrewing webseries to announce. Thanks for reading, and happy homebrewing!

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Northern Brewer and Devil’s Gate Brewing Company bring you the official homebrew w00tstout kit

Northern Brewer and I have teamed up with Stone Brewing Company to make an official homebrew version of w00tstout!

w00tstout-homebrewThis is an official recipe for w00tstout, converted to homebrew specs with the help of Stone Brewing Company’s brewmaster, Mitch Steele. It is released with the blessing of all the collaborators, and I can’t wait to make it myself next week. It’s available in both extract and all-grain kits.

This is a huge beer, and not something I’d recommend for a first time brewer (if you’re looking to get started in homebrewing, you can get your feet wet with my #VandalEyesPA 1-gallon kit).

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Devil’s Gate and Northern Brewer Team Up To Bring You #VandalEyesPA!

Wil Wheaton joins Northern Brewer

I’m super excited to announce this today, because it’s one of those things that’s been in the works for almost a year, but I had to keep secret.

I’ve partnered with Northern Brewer to design and release some homebrew recipe kits this year (and hopefully beyond, if people like them enough).
Some of the marketing language in the announcement is a little much (I don’t think I’m a master brewer, yet), but I love how excited and enthusiastic everyone at Northern Brewer is to work together with me.

Our first kit is the #VandalEyesPA that I designed for my wife,  about a year ago. It’s a big IPA with lots of hops aroma, but a big caramel malt backbone to balance it out. Think of it as an IPA that drinks like a double IPA, I guess. It’s available in extract and all-grain versions.

As the year goes on, I’ll release more kits. I’m thinking about doing a sage saison, a coffee stout, a nice pale ale, and maybe a #w00tstout clone.
I’ll keep blogging about my homebrewing adventures right here at, and when you make these for yourself, you can even check in on Untappd because I’ve been entering Devil’s Gate brews there since I started almost three years ago.

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Progress Report: Smashing Pumpkin Ale

About two weeks ago, my friends Bobak and Rileah came over to help me make the Smashing Pumpkin Ale from Northern Brewer. I’ve made it before, but this was their very first time homebrewing, so I got to talk them through the whole experience, teach them a little bit about brewing science, and spend an afternoon with two people I really like.

I’ll have an entirely separate post about that brewday soon, including tons of great pictures. Until then, here’s a progress report:

Smashing Pumpkin Hydrometer

Our target OG was 1.054, which we hit on the nose. I was hoping that we’d be able to get it down to around 1.012 or so, but while I was in Texas doing some shows, the yeast (US-05) went nuts, and as you can see here, it fermented all the way down to 1.010. Beersmith tells me that this will give us an ABV of about 5.8%, and an ADT of about 80%. I have to tell you, I’m more and more in love with dry yeast each time I use it. I’ve done starters with White Labs and Wyeast, and I’ve never gotten the kind of ADT I’ve been getting from Safale and Danstar.

There’s a bit of haze in this sample, but it tastes really great and has a wonderful orange colour that isn’t coming across in the photo. I roasted a 10 pound pumpkin and put its flesh into the mash this year, and it seems to have made quite a difference. Last year, I didn’t use any squash (and made the extract version), and it wasn’t very good. I ended up dumping most of it. This year, though, we went all-grain, and it’s looking like we’re going to have a really tasty pumpkin ale.


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Brewday: Synchronicity Extraordinaire Wheaten Saison

Northern Brewer had a sale recently. If you ordered four extract kits, they were shipped for free. Extract kits can sit in my closet for a few weeks (hops go in the freezer) so it seemed like a good deal and I pulled the trigger.

One of the kits I got was the Synchronicity Extraordinaire Wheaten Saison. I am absolutely crazy for Saisons, and I kind of loved the idea of a relatively quick extract-based brewday with minimal ingredients. It’s been really warm here so letting it ferment up around 77° shouldn’t be difficult, and if everything goes well, it’ll be ready in about 6 weeks.

The kit was really simple: 6 pounds of wheat malt extract, three hops additions, a late addition of 1 pound of honey, and some lemongrass and sweet orange peel. Holy Hell did it smell good in the last five minutes!

Normally, when I do extracts, it’s a partial boil that gets topped off before pitching yeast, but I’ve done a couple from Brewing Classic Styles, and I much prefer doing a full boil (partially because it makes getting a correct OG reading much easier than if I add water and have to worry about striation) so I got on the line with the support crew at Northern Brewer, and asked if I could go ahead and do full boil without messing up the hop utilization. Gabe at NB told me that for a non-hop-forward beer like this, it would be fine to do that (for a hop-forward beer I could still do it, but there’s a bit of math involved to ensure the hop utilization is correct) so I went ahead and did a 6.5 gallon boil. Everything went great, with no boil overs or accidents, and I was able to drain right into my bucket leaving trub and hop debris in the bottom of the kettle. Unfortunately, I miscalculated my boil off and ended with just under 4.5 gallons, but my OG was 1.052 (right on target!) so I didn’t top it up. I aerated it for about 20 minutes, pitched Danstar’s saison yeast, and after about 3 hours lag, the yeasties were doing their thing.

I checked it this morning, and fermentation is going like crazy, so I’m staying out of the way until it’s all done sometime next week. I’ll do about a five day secondary (while I’m in Phoenix next weekend for Comicon, probably) and then this one will go into bottles because I don’t have enough kegs or kegerator space [FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS] to package it any other way.

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Pro-Am contest results and other news

My entry in the Golden Road Pro-Am competition was not selected to go to the second round, which did not surprise me. It’s not the best beer I’ve ever made, and there were a number of problems with the process. If I had to do it all again, I’d probably go extract or partial mash, and instead of focusing on just one hop like I did, I’d go ahead and use some other hops for bittering. It scored an average of 31 on the judges forms, which isn’t bad, and the feedback I got was very useful. I learned a lot from the experience, and it really was a whole lot of fun, and I can’t wait to enter more beers into more competitions.

I went on a buying bonanza recently, and took advantage of some sales at Northern Brewer. If you want to see what’s in my queue, it’s in the sticky at the top of the main page. A couple of days ago, I brewed their Dead Ringer IPA, partially because Anne and I love IPAs, but mostly because I harvested a bunch of yeast from Batch 31 (which finished a little sweet at about 5%, but tastes amazing and is on draft in my office right now) and I wanted to repitch it into something new. Dead Ringer calls for US05 or 1056, but my yeast was harvested WLP001, so that’s what I used. I’m pretty excited to see how it turns out, since it should theoretically be comfortable with my water and brewhouse conditions. It’s also the first time I’ve used an aerator, which was pretty neat, and the shortest lag I’ve ever had, right about 2 hours.

I was hoping to celebrate today’s Big Brew Day by making a Saison this afternoon, but it’s also Free Comic Book Day, and I don’t think there’s going to be time, so I’ll celebrate it tomorrow. For the first time this year, I’m hoping it stays warm so I can really let that Saison yeast go nuts at 80+°.

I also bought myself a three-keg draft system that will be delivered on Monday. I can not begin to describe how excited I am to have multiple homebrews on tap to share with my friends!

Finally, I found a really great guide for new homebrewers at Homebrew Finds that I wanted to share with the world.

Happy Homebrewing, everyone!


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Brewday: American Pale Ale

I really wanted to make beer yesterday, but I didn’t have time to do the all-grain Halcyon Wheat I’ve had on my schedule for so long, the grains have probably gone stale. So I asked Anne what style she’d like me to make, and went to the homebrew supply to pick up the ingredients for the caramel American Pale Ale from Brewing Classic Styles.

The only problem was, my homebrew supply didn’t have any Munich extract, which is an important part of the recipe. Greg (the owner of Eagle Rock Homebrew Supply) and I stood in the store for several minutes trying to figure out what I could do instead, and then we simultaneously realized that I could just substitute Munich malt for the extract, and do a partial mash of that malt with the caramel 40 specialty grains.

I gathered my hops, milled my grains, and then went to get the LME … only to realize that the recipe calls for 7.9 pounds, and the homebrew supply only sells LME in 6 and 3 pound units. Undeterred, Greg and I did some math, figure out that I could substitue an appropriate amount of light DME for 2 pounds of LME, and pretty soon, I was in business.

I mashed the grains at 154 with a thickness of 1.5qt/pound for 45 minutes, circulated the resulting wort through the bag one time, and was delighted when I saw that my calculations were spot-on, leaving me with exactly 2.25 quarts, which I added to about 6 gallons in my brewing kettle.

My boil was uneventful. I didn’t boil over, I didn’t boil too much, I didn’t evaporate too much, and when the whole thing was over I collected just over 5 gallons of wort. The best part? The target gravity was 1.052, and that’s exactly what I got. I pitched 2 WLP001 at about 74* (a little warm, I know, but I had to leave) and when I got home six hours later, the yeasties were already doing their thing.

This beer is currently unnamed, but I’m looking forward to drinking it in a few weeks, so I can find out if the adjustments I made worked, and if I brewed to style.

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