Category Archives: Ask A Brewer

Ask A Brewer | Rob Lemery, Head Cellerman


Once a month, we’ll be soliciting your beer questions on Facebook for a member of our talented brewing team to answer on the Brooklyn Bloggery. This month, it’s Head Cellarman & avid safety-goggle-wearer Rob Lemery. 

I love Brooklyn Brewery Local 1. Is there a clone recipe I can use for homebrewing? – Kjetil R, Norway

First… thank you!  Second, I can’t provide all of the specifics of the recipe, but I can provide some details.  The grist bill is 100% pilsner malt, but we also add demerara and dextrose to boost the Original Gravity to about 18 degrees Plato. The bittering and flavoring hops are German Perle and the aromatic hop addition is a mix of Styrian Golding and Aurora.  We use our house Belgian yeast strain to ferment the beer, we bottle condition with champagne yeast, and have a resulting final ABV of 9.0%.

Local 1 is a Belgian Strong Golden Ale, so doing a little research into the beer style (and other similar styles) should help you develop your recipe. Of principal importance will be a long, low saccharification rest; this will give a very fermentable wort. Local 1 is strong, but also very dry – it finishes in the bottle at about 1.7 ° Plato. With all of these things in mind you should be able to get pretty close to a Local 1 clone.  If not, then we have plenty available here for you to drink! Let us know how you do!


Photo courtesy of Brett Casper

What would be a good food pairing for Winter Ale & Sorachi Ace? – David B, New York

Winter Ale is a toughie, great question! I like to pair sweet with sweet, specifically something robust like a dark chocolate anything, or something with spice notes like cinnamon ice cream or pumpkin pie.  If you are looking for a meal, I would stick with comfort foods and traditional pub fare like bangers and mash or shepherd’s pie.  Both have a nice sweetness to pair with – and a nice earthy spice note to level out – the sweetness of Winter Ale.

For Sorachi Ace I would keep the fare light rather than robust.  The lemongrass notes of the Sorachi Ace hop lends itself perfectly to Thai food, especially curries. Or, if you feel so inclined (and trust me, you do), steam your shellfish in Sorachi Ace as a replacement instead of white wine!

Rob AAB3

How long does it take to perfect a recipe? What’s the process of recipe testing like? – Alex B, Pennsylvania

Recipes evolve to account for seasonal changes in environment, brewing processes, and ingredients so they are never quite “perfect”. Getting close is something that can take a couple of weeks to a couple of months. For the “couple of weeks” scenario, it’s typically a beer style we’re familiar with, have made before, and would just like to tweak slightly.  We can typically nail it on the first try, and it’s only a weeks-long process because that’s how long it takes to make beer!  If we are trying a new style or changing an old recipe drastically, the new recipe can take months to develop. We constantly perform sensory analysis on the beer to discover if the flavors and aromas are what we hoped for.

What’s the temperature you usually dry hop at? Does hopping happen during the final fermentation? How long are the hops in contact with the beer? – Eduardo S, Brazil

There is much debate about dry-hopping these days. We’ve taken our combined wealth of knowledge as brewers as well as published materials and decided on 60 degrees Fahrenheit for our dry-hopping.  At this temperature, you extract the aromatic oils but don’t leech out too much of the grassy, chlorophyll vegetal aromas that we don’t like.  Dry-hopping should occur after fermentation has completed and yeast has been removed.  Yeast cell walls will adsorb the aromatic oils from the hops that we want in the beer, so you want most of the yeast gone by the time you add hops.  We leave the hops in contact with the beer for 5 days – long enough to get what we’re looking for, but not so long that we start getting those grassy notes.

BB_0510_MG_6505 1

photo courtesy of Brett Casper


Ask A Brewer | July 18

Shooter Dan

Dan Moss takes aim, and a break hosing runoff from the filter…

Every couple of weeks, we’ll be soliciting your brewing questions on Facebook for Brewer Dan Moss to answer here on Here are his answers to Round Five.

Mike McGuire: Whats your recipe for Brooklyn East IPA? Its too expensive in Ireland!

I can’t divulge the whole shebang, but I can steer you in the right direction. East India Pale Ale’s grist is roughly 30% continental lager malt and 70% English pale ale malt. We add a small amount of crystal malt and malted wheat as well. After mashing, we end up with a wort between 16 and 18 deg. Plato that we boil for just over an hour. We bitter the wort with Willamette hops, and blend some English and American varietals for flavor and aroma. After the boil, we ferment with our house ale yeast until the gravity of the beer is around 2 to 3 plato. This is also the point where we dry hop the beer, again with a blend of English and American hops. Cascade, Golding and Fuggle are just a few of the varieties we use in our dry hop blend. After allowing the beer to soak up all that hoppy goodness, we’ll filter the beer and prepare it for packaging. After that, we’ll package the liquid in kegs and bottles and then it’s off to your friendly neighborhood beer seller. If you’d prefer not to spend your hard earned money on our bottles and homebrewing is out of the question, you can always come to Brooklyn and get your fix at the source!

Brendon Van Allen: Getting into the industry is HARD, I have found. What advice can you give someone who wants to get into the beer industry?

You should grow a beard. And then trim it into a mustache. Think Gabe Kapplan or Burt Reynolds, and it’s in the bag. Seriously, that’s how it happened for me, and that’s how it might happen for you.

Amy DeFalco: Love the Summer Ale and the Local 2. On the Summer Ale, do you use Maris Otter as the backbone? It has such a wonderful crisp quality to it (and do you ferment it on the cool side?). On the Brooklyn Local 2, do you use the same yeast for bottle conditioning as you do in the primary? Thanks in advance : ]

Summer Ale is actually a blend of English pale malt and German pilsener malt. We use our house ale yeast to ferment, but in the standard 60-70 degree range. On the Local 2, we actually don’t use the same strain of yeast to bottle. We filter the beer and then add a blend of yeasts that do a great job with the stresses of bottle conditioning.

Scott Carmichael: My brother and I have been brewing for two years but our last four batches have all come up sour, like our ESB tasted more like sour patch kids than beer. This has happened ever since we tried our bacon beer. What could cause this?

There’s a laundry list of reasons for your beer to turn sour; it really depends on your particular practices when you brew. The most likely culprit is an infection of some kind. Lactobacillus and pediococcus are fairly robust bugs and if you weren’t diligent about sanitizing every piece of equipment you use to deal with the beer post-boil, chances are your fermenter, hoses and any plastic equipment you may have are going to be funky for life. My suggestion would be to get some new plastic equipment and revisit your sanitation regimen. Or you could just start brewing modern day sour ales…

Kevin Heidel: I’ve been homebrewing for a couple of years now with partial mash using recipies and supplies from a local home brew shop. What advice can you give to me for moving up from partial to full mash? Also, I am equipped for making only five gallons at a time, how difficult would it be to move up to say 20 or 30 gallon batches and how does a home brewer go about doing that?

There are a few ways to go about it, some more labor intensive than others, but the beauty of home brewing is being able to develop a system that works for your particular situation. To start off all-grain brewing, I would recommend buying one of those big outdoor propane burners (think turkey fryer or crab boil style). Most chain home improvement stores probably carry these coupled with a large pot, think 6-8 gallons. After you get your burner and pot, you’ll need a porous sack to hold the grain you’ll be mashing. The basic idea here is that you mash your grain and boil your wort in the same vessel with as little movement of hot liquid as possible. Moving up to 20 or 30 gallons would require a much bigger pot and sack for all of the grain of course, and the amount of hot liquids you deal with would increase as well. As you get more comfortable brewing all-grain, you’ll probably start developing your own ideas about how to increase the volume of liquid you produce in a shot, just remember that boiling wort burns, so be careful and happy brewing!

Mark Stieffenhofer: What makes your Weisse so much more tasty than other Hefeweizens? I’m addicted to it. I also heard that it was coming back in bottles… is there a time frame? Thanks!

I couldn’t say exactly why our Weisse is tastier than the rest of the field — my heart tells me that it’s because of the rich Germanic brewing heritage in our fair city, but it could also be the blend of German wheat and English barley malts we use, or the house yeast which ferments like no other Weisse yeast I know of.

[PS. We're currently experimenting with bottling Weisse again, but there's no guarantee of an official re-release.]

Hugo F Trejo: Is it true you shouldn’t trust a skinny brewer?

I’m going to say that it’s false. Have you ever seen a brewery in action? We don’t usually have the luxury of climate control and lugging full kegs around during packaging is no low impact activity. We stoop, sweat, struggle, haul and heave things just about every day here and it’s a struggle keeping our beer bellies at a healthy size.

Ask A Brewer | March 28

Dan Moss means business

Every couple of weeks, we’ll be soliciting your brewing questions on Facebook for Brewer Dan Moss to answer here on Here are his answers to Round Three.

Julian Silva: What makes some IPAs really bitter and others sweet and delicious?

Well Julian, there are a bunch of variables that factor into the virtuosity of an IPA.

Generally speaking, traditional examples, such as our East India Pale Ale are meant to be a bit sweeter and we accentuate the malt character by using a higher temperature rest period to stack the odds in favor of slightly more residual body after fermentation. With BLAST!, we mash at a slightly lower temperature, the idea being that all that delicious Maris Otter malt would make the beer syrupy and overbearing if we treated it like EIPA. Malt selection will also affect the finished product and I could go on for pages just talking about the nuances of malt and how to treat the malt to get a particular effect in the finished beer.

The hops are really what make an IPA an IPA. More often than not, the more bitter the beer, the more hops have gone into the brew. There are different ways to add them that affect bitterness differently, but essentially, those really bitter beers and the folks that brew them like to skew the flavors towards the bitter end.

It’s really all about balancing the malt character and hops character, and as long as you stick to our beers, you should find them subtly sweet, yet intriguingly bitter. The perfect combination to bring you back for another pint, am I right?

Emmett Hughes: Can I get your chocolate beer in PA?

Well, Emmett, you can’t get our chocolate beer anywhere, since we’ve never made one with real chocolate. You can however purchase Black Chocolate Stout (we only call it that because it has such an intense dark chocolate character, yet there is no actual chocolate in the beer) at better beer stores near you.

Brent Lengel: If you had your druthers, and price/ logistics were not part of the equation, what kind of beer would you create?

Simple answer to a simple question, I’d create the best beer. The best beer ever.

Josh LaBarge: Any possibility marys maple porter will be continued??

Short answer: No

Long Answer: One can hope, but there are distinct hurdles to overcome such as sourcing the maple syrup ( we don’t want to deprive the pancake eaters of what they desire most…) and keeping up with the demand for our other products like Blast! or Sorachi Ace and the like. Technically speaking, the Brewmaster’s Reserves are a one-time deal.

Amy Lamonica: What’s the best yeast to help dry out the finish on a homebrewed Tripel? I typically use Wyeast Belgian Ardennes yeast for my tripels. I have top notch flavor profile but need to get a bit drier of a finish to make it primo!

That is a damn fine yeast if I do say so Amy, but I’ve had the same problem using it in homebrewed beers. We’ve found that champagne yeast (I use Lallemand EC-1118) will dry out your beer in the bottle without much negative impact on the flavor profile. Hope this helps, let us know how it turns out!

Portersteken: A Swedish brewery (Ängö) recently made en experiment where they brewed a version of their pils with extremely soft water, 20 times cleaner than distilled water. Is that something for Brooklyn to try?

We do like to experiment and push the limits of beer with projects like The Concoction and Manhattan Project where we mimicked two great cocktails (the Penicillin and the classic Manhattan, respectively). Doing a super clean pilsner isn’t exactly our cup of progressive tea, as it were, but we are producing a hoppy pale lager for our newest Brewmaster’s Reserve. Keep an eye out!

Mike Conner How do people in Europe respond to Brooklyn beer? Is there a following?

Well, there is a following. Not to toot our own horn, but Europe loves us. And we love Europe (The Final Countdown!!!) We’ve been sending beer to the UK, Sweden, Denmark and lots of other countries for a long time now, and they keep asking for more.

Steven J Magner: When can I enjoy my favorite beer in Los Angeles? My dad stocks his fridge every time I come to visit the east coast, which leaves me fiending on the left coast.

Well, currently we don’t have plans to distribute that far west. We are, however, available in Texas and Minnesota, if you’re up for a little drive.

Timothy Aivazian: Can I have your job?

Sure, but only if I can keep the paycheck.

Pauly Walnuts: What’s the secret ingredient you put in Brooklyn Beer that makes every brew taste like MORE?

Well, Pauly, we don’t generally let this little secret out, but since you’re obviously infatuated with us (me, really), I’ll spill it…

We put a whole lotta love into every single batch…


Ask A Brewer | Mar 6

Frank Zappa & his doppelgänger at Bonnaroo 2011

Every couple of weeks, we’ll be soliciting your brewing questions on Facebook for Brewer Dan Moss to answer here on Here are his answers to Round Two.

Michael Berry: Can you offer any direction as to the hopping schedule for Brooklyn Brown?

Sure, we blend Willamette, Cascade, and Fuggle. They are added to the boil in 3 separate additions to optimize the flavors and aromas of the finished product. If you want to brew a respectable clone of Brooklyn Brown Ale, pick up one of our new homebrew kits that Mr. Hindy and Brooklyn Brew Shop have put together. The hop bill is much more straightforward than the one we use daily, but the results are eerily similar and equally delicious!

The Brooklyn Blues Project: So which is it. . . Chicken or Egg?

Well, if the chicken and the egg are both fried, they’d arrive in tandem, preferably on a flaky biscuit. Serve alongside a Brooklyn Lager, and boom! Perfection.

Mike Conner: Do y’all remove krausen and do you think that helps home brewers?

We don’t take any special measures to remove krausen, but we rarely fill our fermenters to the absolute upper limit of their capacity, so much of the dark brown brandhefe (the stuff that you don’t want) sticks to the top and sides of the fermentation tanks. For a home brewer, removing the brandhefe and krausen will definitely help maintain a clean flavor profile. But, if you can’t maintain a sanitary environment, you’re better off letting it settle and the racking the beer off of the spent yeast.

Meghan Cogan: Why is Brooklyn Brewery so amazing? No really … Why is it?! …. looking forward to Mary’s Maple Brunch this Saturday!!!

Well, we have some really amazing fans, including you Meghan! Hope you enjoyed the brunch!

Pauly Walnuts: Do you use any special treatment for the water you use at the brewery (filtering, adding minerals, etc)?

Well Mr. Walnuts, it is absolutely certain that we treat our water very special. As you know, It makes up about 90% of our beer. There are only two things that we do here, that you yourself might also do at home. First, all of our brewing water is passed through an activated carbon filter. That’s really to remove any excess chlorine or debris from the water system (our water supply pipes are basically antiques). When brewing a beer from the English tradition like BLAST! or East India Pale Ale, we like to add brewing salts or Burton salts in order to accentuate the hop character in the finished product.

Daniel Mahon: Could you provide a recipe for a starting point to make Brooklyn Lager at home? I’d like to experiment around that perfection.

Why would you ever want to mess with perfection? I call shenanigans, but will oblige. As per Mr. Oliver’s recipe in the recent December issue of Brew Your Own Magazine:


- 9.6 lbs American 2 row malt
- 14 ozs Munich malt
- 11 ozs 60 L Caramel malt


- 1 oz Willamette (75 min.)
- 0.33 oz Cascade and 0.45 oz Vanguard (35 min.)
- 0.5 oz each, Hallertau Mittlefruh, Cascade, and Saphir (2 min.)
- 0.75 oz Cascade and 1.5 oz Hallertau Mittlefruh are used post fermentation    as a dry hop

We reccomend mashing in the grain to a starch conversion temperature of 156 or higher; This strategy will help to achieve the body and mouthfeel we aim for. Another important element is our 75-minute boil, which may lead to excess color and flavor development if you are working over a very strong, direct flame. After your wort has cooled to 55 degrees, you’re ready to pitch your favorite lager yeast! About 10 days prior to bottling or kegging, add the dry hops.

Hope this helps, and if you need any more advice, just ask!

Brendan McHenry: I know the base malt for Brooklyn Monster is specialty Scottish floor malt, how essential is that for the overall flavor? How might you replicate that flavor otherwise?

Well Mac, the Maris Otter malt we use has its own distinct fruitiness that is almost impossible to replicate. It brings a certain mellow fruity quality that is very distinctive and makes our Pennant Ale, Winter Ale, and BLAST!, the complex creatures that they are. If you wanted to replicate that quality, you might try a combination of lighter crystal or cara malts and a very small portion of acidulated malt.

Till next time…

Ask A Brewer | Feb 10

Mr. Moss contemplates the meaning of life on the shore of Asbury Park, NJ

Every couple of weeks, we’ll be soliciting your brewing questions on Facebook for Brewer Dan Moss to answer here on Here are his answers to last week’s questions. The next call for submissions will be happening next week, so check in on Facebook to submit your question.

Patrick Boegel: At what stage of the boil do you add Mauritius Sugar to Local 1 and the Honey to Local 2?

Great question Pat. There are a ton of ways to throw some extra fermentables into a brew, but they all have different impacts on the finished product. Basically, if you want to optimize the aromatic qualities of the sugar, adding it as late in the process as possible is best. So, without spilling the beans, we add sugar and honey in the boil and our aim is to optimize the aromatic qualities of both Local 1 and Local 2.

Ian Cann: Hi guys, What differentiates dry hopping from the usual wet hopping, and what difference does it make to a beer?

Hi yourself, Ian! The term wet hopping is somewhat misleading as all additions of hops are wet, since beer is a liquid. Here at Brooklyn, we start adding hops as soon as our wort hits 212 degrees; that sir, is essentially for bittering the beer and balancing sweetness from the malt sugar. The term wet hopping refers to using hops fresh from harvest that have not been kilned. What’s kilning? It’s essentially a gentle drying of the hops to preserve the longevity and aromatics of the flower. Just as dry hopping is intended to enhance the aroma of a beer… Wet hopping does the same, although with some difference compared to dry hopping. The goal for both processes is to enhance the hop aroma of a beer, but wet hopping will ultimately add a “fresh-from-the-field” aroma that conventionally kilned hops don’t possess, as they have been dried out.

Drew Shalian: What’s the best way to get a position in a brewery? I want to become a brewer. Is there a school to get trained or should I just start home brewing?

Homebrewing is always a good place to start, and the homebrew literature available on the market is a great way to learn the process on a small scale. I started out homebrewing myself, but when I decided to make the leap, I went through the American Brewers Guild’s Craft Brewer’s Apprenticeship. It was a six month online/ correspondence course, and the Guild’s network helped me with my apprenticeship planning, which ultimately led to my current job. There are two other major programs in the US that I know of, UC Davis and The Seibel Institute, that have brewing specific educational programs.

Brian Dochney: Hey Dan, Long time fan, first time caller. What makes the BLAST! so delicious if it’s so over hopped? Is it true that Brian Dochney thinks it’s the “Greatest Beer in the World”ᵗᵐ

Thanks for “calling”, Doc. You usually refer to it around me as a big warm hug you can drink, but we’ll go with “Greatest Beer in the World”ᵗᵐ for now. Overhopped? Well, when you use the huge amounts of Maris Otter and pilsner malts that build the big, juicy malt base, you have to balance out that sweetness with something. For us, that something is copious amounts of hops from the US and UK, added at a number of points in the process, both in the brewhouse when we boil the wort, and in the cellar after fermentation.

Kathy Moss: Great can’t wait!

Woo Hoo!  I expect some real tough questions from you…

Jeff Krug-Bräu: Hey guys. I just racked a porter into secondary with some makers mark and some oak. I want to add some nice maple flavor to the beer (maple bourbon barrel porter?) How can I go about this best? Can I bottle condition with maple syrup instead of DME or table sugar?

Hey Jeff! Sounds like a mighty tasty brew you have shaping up. As you may know, we just released our very own version of maple porter called Mary’s Maple Porter. There are a few points in the brew process to add sugars, but if you’re already in secondary and want to try something fairly interesting, using some leftover maple syrup to bottle condition is a great approach and will add layers of flavor that DME and table sugar are incapable of providing.

Jonathan Zornow: For priming, what are the consequences to using plain ol’ table sugar instead of dextrose? Searching on Google gave me mixed thoughts …

Well, those sugars, chemically speaking, are very similar, so broad strokes-wise, the effects of using both sugars will be darn similar. The cidery character generally associated with table sugar (which contains sucrose, mainly) is actually a function of the yeast. If you do use table sugar at any point in the brew (I’ve had homebrewed belgian strongs that have…) don’t go crazy. No matter how much of those neutral sugars (dextrose included) you add, you won’t get much appreciable flavor. Hope that didn’t mix your thoughts any more than Google did.

André Adelar Hommerding: Hey guys, what´s the difference between the English, the Belgian, the German and the American Pale Ale Malt?

We use a variety of domestic and European malts here at the brewery and they all have their own complexeties that they bring to beer. For our Local line, we generally use German pilsner malts because of the light biscuity undertones that result and how they play with the other elements from the hops to the yeast in the bottle. Our Pennant Ale uses the grassy, earthy Maris Otter heirloom barley malt that comes through to support the deeper citrusy hop notes. From Belgium, we use aromatic malts that enhance the malt profile in many of our beers.

If you’re interested in the technical stuff like lab calculated extract potential, color, or protein content, you can probably get a report with that information from wherever you can buy malts from.