Drink Magazine

Homebrew Adventures: A Retrospective

By Bryan Roth @bryandroth

Homebrew Adventures: A retrospective

Note: This is part one of two.

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time, discussing two of my (somewhat) recent homebrews to point out how a couple experiments have turned out. This month marks my one-year anniversary (brewiversary?) since I started homebrewing and through the first year I created a dozen batches. I’m currently on hiatus as I try to clear out space from all the bottles I’ve saved up, but there are lots of great recipes I have in mind on the horizon.

In the coming days, I want to share details on two of my brews, one perfect for summer and one ideal for the fall:

  • Watermelon wheat
  • Beer-cider hybrid

Do these pique your interest? Hit the jump to find out some general details that should interest homebrewers and non-homebrewers alike.

We start with the watermelon wheat, for which I used a standard wheat recipe with ingredients from Austin Homebrew Supply. Since I brew with extract, I steeped with eight ounces of 2-row, eight ounces of white wheat and four ounces of Crystal 20L. I used six pounds of wheat dry extract.

My watermelon wheat recently came up in conversation with Nick over at Drink. Blog. Repeat. after his review of 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon. That beer was actually the catalyst for my decision to make my homebrew because I didn’t think there was nearly enough watermelon flavor – something I know sets me apart since my palate enjoys big, bold beers.

All my watermelon wheat bottles have been highly carbonated, a combination of Safebrew’s wheat yeast and lots of residual sugars from triple-watermelon brewing my beer. (More details on the beer below)

Here’s how I used the fruit:

  1. I squeezed 1.25 gallons of watermelon juice from fresh watermelons the morning of brew day. I added it with 10 minutes left in the boil.
  2. In secondary, I added about a pound of watermelon pulp in an attempt to give the beer some fleshy fruit characteristics.
  3. With a few days left before bottling, I added somewhere between .5 and .75 gallons of more watermelon juice, also which I squeezed myself.

For my hops, I used one ounce of Hallertauer – .5 ounces for bittering at the start of my 60-minute boil and .25 at 15 and 5 minutes, respectively, for aroma and flavor. I’ve used this hop in all my wheat beers because I don’t want too much hop flavor to be too present and I find the general floral aroma of Hallertauer to pair ideally with fruit.

Now that the beer has bottle conditioned for a few months, it’s reached a pretty perfect medium. Whereas in Hell or High Watermelon you’ll get traces of fruit and lots of smooth wheat flavor, my brew is all watermelon-forward, but not so much it’s sweet like candy. Granted, I’ve been told by different people that the beer either doesn’t have enough watermelon, too much or just the right amount. Different strokes for different folks.

The high carbonation does do the beer a great service, allowing for the fruit flavor to literally tingle your tongue. It cleanses your taste buds slightly while letting some of the fruit linger on each sip.

If you’ve got any questions about the beer, feel free to ask below. I hope to post about my beer-cider hybrid this week.

Watermelon wheat stats:

  • Malt: 2-row, white wheat, crystal 20L
  • Hops: Hallertau
  • Adjuncts: watermelon, honey
  • ABV: 7 percent

Bonus stats for fellow homebrewers:
OG: 1.064
FG: 1.010
Watermelon juice OG: 1.034 (This was fun – I wanted to see what it might be like if I ever brewed a beer solely using watermelon juice)


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