Barley’s Homebrewing Supplies – Our First Ever Video (and it shows)

Recently we got to visit Barley’s Homebrewing Supplies in New Westminster.

They are located at 101-455 East Columbia Street, New Westminster, BC. for all your homebrew needs. Let us now what you think of the video!


2012 Brew Year In Review

By V1rgilmdm

In all, we brewed 14 different beers in 2012—up 4 from the 10 we brewed in 2011. We thought we’d share each brew with you, what we learned, and some other key developments including upgrading to a 50L batch size, and winning a home brew award.

Tartan Eater Strong Scotch Ale (All Grain)

28.7 IBU, 18 SRM, 6.4% ABV Batch Size: 19L
Malts: Pale, Carastan, Roasted Barley, Smoked Malt, Belgian Biscuit Malt
Hops: Perle, Fuggles, Willamette
Yeast: WYEAST 1084 Irish Ale

We decided to mirror our first brew of 2011 (which also happened to be our first brew ever) but this time we re-brewed the recipe as an all-grain. We hosted a tasting and compared our scotch ale with other commercial brews (such as Cannery Brewing’s Squire Scotch Ale, Russell Brewing’s A Wee Angry Scotch Ale etc. ). After the praise we received from friends and family, we decided to enter it into the Vanbrewer Competition—where it went on to take first place in it’s category!

Key lesson: We received great feedback from the competition! There isn’t much we would change, except maybe add a bit more peat smoked malt.

Maple Barley Wine (Extract and Grain)

43.3 IBU,18 SRM, ~11% ABV Batch Size: 19L
Malts: Pale Extract Syrup, Carastan, Chocolate Malt
Hops: Fuggles, Northern Brewer, Goldings
Adjuncts: Maple Syrup
Yeast: WYEAST 1028 London Ale

This brew was our first attempt at a high alcohol beer. We used extract for this recipe because of the size limitations of our mash tun. We added maple syrup for a distinct flavour and to provide some extra sugar to kick up the alcohol content (at least that was our intent). The brew tasted good when it was young (several weeks bottle-aging), but we could tell it was young and lacking carbonation. Unfortunately, as it aged it started to taste more and more like cola syrup and was sickly sweet.

Key lesson: When brewing a monster (brew with high ABV), use as much all grain as possible to lend complexity to the brew, and make sure it carbonates!

Hopful Monk Imperial IPA 3.0 (Extract and Grain)

86.2 IBU, 12 SRM, 7.3% ABV, Batch Size: 19L
Malts: Pale, Pale Extract Syrup, Honey Malt, Carastan
Hops: Simcoe, Chinook
Yeast: WYEAST 1388 Belgian Strong Ale

The third variation of our Imperial IPA (check out the previous attempts)—this time with more hops and Belgian strong yeast. Again we did a half extract, half grain due to size limitations of our mash tun.

Key lesson: Even similar strands of yeast (Belgian Abbey, Belgian Strong) will have a huge impact on flavour.

Dark Star Apprentice Licorice Stout (All Grain)

63.3 IBU, 26 SRM, 8% ABV, Batch Size 19L
Malts: Pale, Black Patent, Roasted Barley
Hops: Fuggles, Willamette
Adjuncts: Molasses, Dark Brown Sugar, licorice root, fennel
Yeast: WYEAST 1084 Irish Ale

This was our first attempt at brewing a licorice stout. We based it on Dark Star licorice stout by DogFishHead (from the book Extreme Brewing by Sam Calagione), but converted it into all grain with adjuncts added.

Key lesson: Tea shops carry a plethora of home brewer adjuncts.

Black IPA (All Grain)

78.5 IBU, 34 SRM, 7.6% ABV, Batch Size: 19L
Malts: Pale, Carastan, Roasted Barley, Chocolate, Crystal 60L
Hops: Zeus, Chinook, Citra
Yeast: WYEAST 1084 Irish Ale

Based on our Imperial IPA recipe, we made this one dark and added Citra hops. This brew turned out delicious, with citrus and piney flavours and a dark creaminess.

Key lesson: The dark side has chocolate.

Ginger Ninja Ale (All Grain)

34.5 IBU, 7 SRM, 5.3% ABV, Batch Size: 19L
Malts: Pale, Honey
Hops: Mt. Hood, Goldings
Adjuncts: Nettles, Dried Ginger Root
Yeast: WYEAST 1056 American Ale

Using a Golden ale base, we tried to re-create a golden nettle ale from Saltspring Island Brewing. During the boil, the aroma of the dried ginger root ended up smelling stronger than we anticipated. To balance this, we ended up using more nettle then we thought we would. This ended up softening the ginger in the final brew and created a more ‘herby’ beer—not what we were going for, but a great beer nonetheless. Next time we’re going to try fresh grated ginger root instead for a better balance.

Key lesson: Fresh is best! (Especially with ginger)

Imperial White IPA Witbier (Extract and Grain)

79.2 IBU, 5 SRM, 7.7% ABV, Batch Size: 19L
Malts: Wheat, Pale, Pale Extract Syrup, Flaked Oats
Hops: Zeus, Saaz, Cascade
Adjuncts: Flour, Orange peel
Yeast: WYEAST 3463 Forbidden Fruit

This was the first of two brews we did on a double brew day. We had a stuck sparge and ended up having to use extract to bring up the gravity. The extract caused the primary to be very muddy. Then we accidentally over-pitched the yeast, giving the brew some very strong clove flavours. This one was bottled too soon, leaving too much yeast in and making it spicier than we had hoped for.

Key lesson: Let the yeast do its thing—and die.

Pineapple Volcano White IPA (All Grain)

74.7 IBU, 8 SRM, 4.5% ABV, Batch Size: 19L
Malts: Pale, Wheat, Honey
Hops: Perle, Citra, Chinook
Adjuncts: Pineapple puree
Yeast: WYEAST 3463 Forbidden Fruit

The second wheat beer on our double brew day. This one turned out rather well, despite some interesting complications—the primary foamed over forcing us to utilize a blow-off bucket.

Key lesson: Fruit sugars ferment rapidly—think volcano!

Volcano Half Wit IPA

Grapefruit IPA (All Grain)

78.9 IBU, 7 SRM, 6.0% ABV, Batch Size: 19L
Malts: Pale, Honey, Carastan
Hops: Citra, New Zealand Cascade
Adjuncts: Grapefruit Zest
Yeast: WYEAST 1056 American Ale

This was a brew just for the sake of brewing. A stripped-down version of the Hopful Monk, with some fun New Zealand hops we found at Bosagrape. The grapefruit zest was added to lend a citrus flavour. In hindsight, we should have used pink grapefruits.

Key lesson: Keep better notes. We’re not even sure when we brewed it, let alone the specific gravities.

American Pale Ale (All Grain)

49.7 IBU, 6 SRM, 5.6% ABV, Batch Size: 19L
Malts: Pale, Crystal, Carapils, Carastan
Hops: Cascade, Willamette, Chinook
Yeast: WYEAST 1056 American Ale

This was our first requested brew! The request was for something plain that could be enjoyed by everyone, and it was well received. We made the plainest pale ale we could think of—and then added more hops!

Key lesson: Push comfort levels.

Hopful Monk Imperial IPA (All Grain)

94.6 IBU, 11 SRM, 6.5% ABV, Batch Size: 50L
Malts: Pale, Honey, Carastan
Hops: Zeus, Chinook
Yeast: WYEAST 1388 Belgian Strong Ale

This was our first brew using our new 50 litre equipment. We wanted our first to be a familiar recipe, so we went with the Hopful Monk since we’d done the most variations with that one. This one worked well, we re-used the false bottom from the mash tun, and utilized our 50,000 BTU Blichman burner. Everything turned out very well—best first time ever!

Key lesson: Never get rid of working equipment, you may find a new use.

New Burner

Ghoulish Ghourd Pumpkin Pie Ale (All Grain)

22.7 IBU, 16 SRM, 5.3% ABV, Batch Size: 50L
Malts: Pale, Biscuit, Carastan, Carapils,
Hops: Fuggles, Goldings, Hallertau
Adjuncts: Brown Sugar, Cooked Pumpkin, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cloves
Yeast: WYEAST 1056 American Ale

This ended up being one of our best brews ever. It tasted delicious and we served this at a Halloween party from a keg. It was a bit heavy on the specialty malts, and for future batches we may scale that back slightly.

Key lesson: Grinding cinnamon sticks and smashing nutmeg is tiresome. Just buy the spices from the store.

1030 Cranberry Vanilla Russian Imperial Stout (All Grain)

42.4 IBU, 62 SRM, 9.3% ABV, Batch Size: 50L
Malts: Pale, Chocolate, Flaked Oats, Roasted Barley, Crystal
Hops: Magnum, Crystal, Goldings
Adjuncts: Brown Sugar, Molasses, Frozen Cranberries, Vanilla Beans
Yeast: WYEAST 1056 American Ale

This was an ambitious monster brew, with mixed results. The goal was a chocolaty, strong stout with a vanilla flavour profile and a hint of berry bitterness. Initial samples were promising, but the result was more like cold, strong coffee. Also, it did not carbonate well. To save time (we’re lazy), we used wine bottles and added a corker to our repertoire. When we make this again, we will most likely use cranberry juice and a few drops of vanilla extract.

Key lesson: Proper carbonation is important for carrying flavour.

Gingerbread Beer (All Grain)

30 IBU, 20 SRM, 6.7% ABV, Batch Size: 19L
Malts: Pale, Chrystal, Wheat, Special B, Roasted Barley
Hops: Hallertau, Cascade
Adjuncts: Brown Sugar, Molasses
Yeast: WYEAST 1056 American Ale

This was an experimental Christmas beer. I had been told of a beer (Cookie beer) that was filtered through sheets of special Belgian biscuits, and I thought, GINGERBREAD! We thought it would be a fun thing to try. So using a winter ale base, and a great gingerbread recipe, we painstakingly filtered the wort through sheets of gingerbread before putting it in the primary. Results were not as strong in flavour as we would have liked, but it was definitely interesting. Next time, to up the flavor, we think we’ll also add spices to the primary.

Key lesson: Travel to Belgium to see how they do it.

Like every great idea, this one involved Ninjas!

Like every great idea, this one involved Ninjas!

What’s next?
We are on to 50 L batches with a brew group of 5. We want to do more batches, create more styles and definitely enter more competitions. Our first brew of the year, a red lager, is currently sitting in the primary. We chose a lager to take advantage of the cooler weather.

2012 had some great experiments and we will continue to work on those recipes to lock them down.

We’re also tossing about the idea of creating a Youtube channel and filming some video reviews and brewing tutorials—so stay tuned for those.

What would you like to see? Leave your comments below.

2012 Blog Stats

This is a thing WordPress does automatically. Thought I’d share since I didn’t actually have to provide content!

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Vintage Holiday Beer Ads

We’re still getting a lot of hits off of last year’s Vintage Santa Beer Ads, so to continue the tradition, we found some more Vintage Ads to poke fun at.

Schlitz 1959

Schlitz 1959


The power of suggestion at it’s finest. Drink Schlitz and that’s all you need to live the good life. Love the Winterscape in the background, but I’m wondering why the beer’s just for him?


Nothing like double fisting beer for the holidays, but why bother with a glass?

Miller 1947

Miller High Life 1947


Great rendering of Winter, complete with an open sleigh and…two horses?


Boy oh boy,  do I ever wish I lived on a beer farm.

Carling Black Label Date unknown

Carling Black Label Date Unknown


This guy is just way too happy to be getting tanked for the holidays. He’s like your creepy uncle Fred who passes out just before the Turkey’s ready.


Agreed this guy is extremely happy even though he is carrying Black Label.

Budweiser c1950

Budweiser c1950


Really Budweiser? Nothing like it? At least in this one the wife’s allowed to have a beer too.  AFTER she made sandwiches of course.

Guiness Santa

Guinness Date Unknown


Little known fact, George RR Martin looks to vintage beer ads for his slogans. This is like a wartime ad. Except when did Australia go to war? I mean aside from the great kangaroo war of 1910 of course.

Guinness Date Unknown

Guinness Date Unknown


Yes! This poster is fantastic. It’s beer advertising for the Disney crowd. Nothing says Christmas like psychedelic voyages and under-age drinking. Also I want that pelican as a pet.

Molson 1926

Molson 1926


Simple, boring and in French. Banking on name brand recognition and an almost complete lack of competiion. Your move Labatt Bleu.

Happy holidays! Thanks for reading!


Recently we were contacted by makers of the FastRack bottle system, asking if we would help spread the word of their product..

So here we go:

We think this product looks amazing and would be useful for any restaurant or bar owner, home brewer, or avid entertainer. It’s definitely on our Christmas Wishlist! Check out the video below.

8-Bit Beerblog Guide to Reviewing Beer

At 8-Bit Beerblog, we recognize that brewing good beer does not happen by accident. Craft beer is born from the marriage of technical process and flavour art. We want to support the craft beer industry and its efforts, not tear it down or criticize. As such, when we review a beer we don’t use an arbitrary rating system based on a personal preference scale that is always changing.

Instead we give an open and honest appraisal of our experience at the time of drinking the brew. When we review a beer, we look at the following:

  1. Packaging: It’s the first thing that we see in the store and it influences our purchasing decisions and perception of the brew.
    For reviewing, we look at originality and attractiveness.
  2. Appearance: How does the brew look when poured? For reviewing, we look at colour, clarity, carbonation and head retention.
  3. Aroma: Taste begins with the first scent.
    For reviewing, we smell for these attributes:

    • Malts: Descriptive terms—Caramel, bread, hay, cereal, chocolate, coffee, nuts, toast, roasty
    • Hops: Descriptive terms—Resin, floral, grass, spruce, citrus, herbs
    • Yeast/Bacteria: Descriptive terms—Doughy, barnyard, cheese, basement aromas, leather, earthy, leaves
    • Other: Descriptive terms—Alcohol, banana, bubble-gum, butterscotch, clove, cooked vegetables, cough drop, ginger, licorice, raisin, rotten eggs, soy sauce, skunky, smoke, vanilla, woody
  4. Taste: What’s the first sip like?  Is it sweet, bitter or sour? Any flavour sensations across the tongue? What is the mouth-feel, aftertaste, and flavour after the beer warms?
    For reviewing we look for the presence of these flavours:

    • Acetaldehyde: Green apple-like aroma and flavour.
    • Alcoholic: The aroma, flavour, and warming effect of ethanol and higher alcohols (think vodka straight, no chaser).
    • Astringent: Lingering harshness.
    • Diacetyl: Butter, butterscotch, or toffee aroma and flavour. Sometimes perceived as slickness.
    • DMS (dimethyl sulfide): Sweet, cooked, or canned corn-like aroma and flavour.
    • Estery: Aroma and/or flavour of fruits or roses.
    • Grassy: Aroma and/or flavour of grass or leaves.
    • Light: Skunky flavour from exposure to UV.
    • Metallic: Tastes like tin, copper, or iron.
    • Musty: Stale or moldy aromas/flavours.
    • Oxidized: Stale, papery, or sherry-like aromas and flavours.
    • Phenolic: Spicy (clove, pepper, etc.), smoky, plastic or medicinal aroma/flavour.
    • Solvent: Aroma and flavours of higher alcohols. Similar to acetone or lacquer thinner.
    • Sour/acidic: Tartness in aroma and flavour.
    • Sulfur: Aroma of rotten eggs or burning matches.
    • Vegetal: Cooked, canned, or rotten vegetable aroma and flavour (cabbage, asparagus, etc.)
    • Yeasty: A bready or sulfur like aroma or flavour.
  5. Uniqueness: How well does it represent the style? Does it follow a style? Does it inspire innovation by creating its own style?
  6. Cost and availability: How much does it cost and where can it be found? Is it a fair price? Is it a limited release or a regular attraction?
  7. Summary: Our final thoughts about the brew.
  8. Achievement!: In keeping with our video game theme, we award achievements (often silly and nonsensical).

drink beer

A Tale of Two Brews

By V1rgilmdm

A couple months back, we had our most ambitious brewing day ever—two batches in a single day! We started brewing at 6 a.m. on Saturday (OK it was more like 8 a.m.) because we wanted to use the same yeast packet for both wheat ales. Yay efficiency!

Here’s what we used:

WYeast 3463: Forbidden Fruit

A widely used strain in the production of Witbier and Grand Cru. This yeast will produce spicy phenolics which are balanced nicely by a complex ester profile. The subtle fruit character and dry tart finish will complement wheat malt, orange peel and spice additions typical of Wits.

Flocculation: Low
Attenuation: 72-76%
Temperature Range: 63-76F, 17-24C
Alcohol Tolerance: 12% ABV

   Belgian Specialty Ale

It was our first time using this yeast and because we wanted to use it for two separate brews, we made our largest starter ever, approximately 7 liters. We then split the starter between the two batches—without measuring.

The first recipe was an all-grain, Pineapple Wheat India Pale Ale. We used 48% Pale Malt, 40% Wheat, and 12% Honey Malt. To get the pineapple flavour, we pureed two medium cans of pineapple rings, and added them in the last ten minutes of the boil. We hopped this brew with Perle, Citra, and Chinook which resulted in about 55 International Bitterness Units.

The second recipe was for an Imperial White India Pale Ale, which has been a bit of a fad recently (e.g.. Lighthouse’s Belgian White, Vancouver Island Brewing’s Flying Tanker, etc.). Our original plan was for an all-grain batch, but the sparge got stuck and we had to add a pound of extract to hit our target gravity. We used 59% Wheat, 33% Pale Malt, 7% Pale Malt extract, and 1% Flaked Oats. We started with 1 oz. of Zeus hops in our hour long boil. At the 25 minute mark, we added 1 oz. of Saaz hops. Then at the 40 minute mark, we added 1 oz. of Cascade hops. The result was about 53 International Bitterness Units. In the last 10 minutes of the boil, we added about an ounce of orange peel.

We finished about mid-afternoon and decided that after a hard day spent in the kitchen brewing, we could go out for the evening with a feeling of job well done. Meanwhile at home this was happening:

Thus the nickname ‘Volcano’ was created. This is what happens when your yeast reacts to the readily available fructose sugars in the pineapple, and there’s not enough headspace in the carboy. The beer continued to foam for several hours, and I ended up taking the tubing from my mash tun, and running it into a bucket with water, essentially making a giant airlock (the idea to create this “blow-off bucket” came from this forum posting:

While the Imperial White did not have the ‘explosive’ issue, it did stay a muddy brown colour due to the extract we had to add to achieve the gravity we wanted. Both of the brews were fermented for ten days in the primary and then went straight to the bottle.

Fruits of the labour!

We bottle-aged both brews for a week and then rested for another week in the fridge. Then finally, we got to taste the brews!

Volcano, the Half-Wheat Pineapple IPA, turned out great. The pineapple was more in the aroma than the taste, but that complimented the citrusy/pine hop character very well. If we did this recipe again, we would rack to a secondary and add some more pineapple puree to really heighten the taste.

Unfortunately, the Imperial White IPA wasn’t quite as good. The freshest bottles had an almost overpowering clove spice flavour. We think the strong flavour came from the fact that there was too much yeast used for the batch and the fermentation happened at too warm a temperature. Luckily, as the bottles aged, the spiciness of the cloves was suppressed and the bitterness from the hops became the more dominant flavour. The oldest bottles have high amounts of carbonation causing foam-overs in the glass. If we did the Imperial White IPA brew again, we would use less yeast, more orange peel, and add some coriander. We would also rack to a secondary and use a large mash tun to prevent the stuck sparge issue that forced us to resort to the Pale Malt Extract.

In the end, both brews were great for the summer, and neither lasted very long in the fridge—which is always a good sign!