Skip to content

R.J.'s Home Brew Corner

Welcome to R.J.’s Home Brew Corner!  This is where I get to tell you about all of our new products, and why we like them so much!  We'll talk ideas, what we plan to use them for, and even dip into some of our favorite products, even if they're not new!  I’ll wax eloquent on everything fermentation, from fermented food to wine, mead, cider, beer and seltzer.  I’ll update this page the first Monday of every month so you can stay up to date on the latest and greatest products and what we're doing with them. 

If you want to see all of these new products, head over to our R.J.'s Home Brew Corner collection and see all of them together!

Have a product you'd like to see on here, or give some feedback on?  Write your question in our Ask a Question under the products that you want to learn more about!  We personally read and reply to each and every question.  Want to add your two cents on one of your favorite products?  Write a review and let us know what you think!! 

New Products for January 2021

NEW YEAST

White Labs WLP631 - Appalachian Tart - Vault Strain

Ok, so full disclosure, I'm kind of obsessed with Kveik strains, and one of my favorite hacks when brewing sours, courtesy of Morgan when he developed our Lightning Hammer Hibiscus Gose Beer Recipe Kit, is co-pitching a Kveik strain with a Lacto strain and fermenting at 80° F.  This is a double whammy because you get to ferment in an optimal temp range for the lactobacillus, giving you more sour, and don't have to worry about temperature derived off flavors produced by the sacch because Kveik doesn't care!

It stands to reason that this blend is pretty killer, because that's exactly what it is!  While they don't divulge which Kveik and lacto strains are contained within, I'm very excited to try this in a berliner weisse, like Insane Wizard, a gose, or a simple fruited sour beer, and you should be, too!

White Labs WLP618 - Saccharomyces ludwigii - Vault Strain

This is another cool strain that is geared towards low gravity beers.  The lore goes that its is only able to eat simple sugars, so it makes an ideal strain for 3% or 4% session style beers, or any style with lower alcohol content.  The beauty here is that you can make a nice, sessionable IPA or ESB without worrying about it being watery and unbalanced.

All of this being said, somebody HAS to try this in a cider!  I'm thinking that a sacch geared towards simple sugars in a simple sugar solution would be awesome, and I'd be interested to see what the flavor profile came out to be when it could really buckle down and had plenty of sugar to eat!

White Labs WLP030 - Thames Valley Ale Yeast - Vault Strain

For all of us savages out there, if you don’t want to be mocked by anyone speaking ‘proper’ English, Thames is pronounced ‘Tems’.  Has to be something to do with the accent, I’m not sure.  As a yeast strain, though, this is very similar to WLP002 in that it creates a balanced and malt forward beer.  The beauty is that it’s significantly more attenuative, so you can make that Crazy Red Headed Irish Ale or Lawn Mower ESB pack a little more punch without sacrificing the generous flavor profile you get from the Fuller’s strain.  For me, this strain really is the best of both worlds.  I’m looking forward to testing it out with an East Coast style juicy pale ale or IPA, just to put it through its paces properly!

White Labs WLP835 - German Lager X Yeast - Vault Strain

This strain seems to be the end all, be all for pilsner beer and German style lagers.  For those of you that know me, you know that I’m obsessed with the Weihenstephan Lager strain (WLP830, Wyeast 2124, Imperial Global, or Saflager 34/70, respectively).  

This is a cleaner, crisper alternative that produces low sulphur but still pushes out that wonderful, high quality malt character that I look for in any kind of lager, be it bock, oktoberfest or helles.  Since it only comes around once a year or so, it’s definitely worth trying out with your next lager style!!

White Labs WLP860 Munich Helles Lager Yeast - Vault Strain

Here is another one of my favorite lager strains, supposedly from the Augustiner brewery.  This is the strain we use when we brew our Occidental Edel~Hell homebrew kit, and I’ll be honest.  It makes the ultimate, easy drinking German beer.  If you’re getting your summer lagers ready, that combination may be one of the best to try!  Remember to give yourself a little extra time with this strain because it ferments a little lower, 48 - 52.

Wyeast 2352-PC Munich Lager II

What I love about this strain is that it's perfect for brewers who don't have a ton of temp control.  The temp range is 52 to 62 F, so you have way more wiggle room if you want to try your hand at a bock, but maybe don't have a fermentation chamber or a fancy conical with a glycol chiller

It's also known for being a low diacetyl and sulfur producer, which is also nice for anyone home brewing a lager!  Mix that with a nice, malt forward profile, and I don't know why we're not brewing up a dunkel right now!  I think this would be an ideal strain for The 94 Baltic Imperial Porter because it would make the malt complexity shine!

Wyeast 3191-PC Berliner Weisse Blend

Ok, back to sours!  This is hands down, by far my favorite pre-blended berliner yeast available, and I wish they’d make it a year round strain!  It already has everything you need, including a brett strain for a little added complexity.

Last time we used this, we did a mango berliner that even I liked, which is saying something since you all know I’d rather brew a sour than drink it!  Try it with our Insane Wizard kit and your favorite fruit puree, and give it an extra month in the fermenter to let a little bit of that dank, brett-y character to develop!

Wyeast 1581-PC Belgian Stout

This is a gently fruit forward Belgian strain, but the funny thing is, most of the ester profile falls out in a stout.  It leaves a malt forward and slightly dry dark beer behind, with subtle fruit characteristics and tons of complexity!

My favorite application for this strain so far is a blueberry stout using our Midnight Wave recipe kit and a can of Vintner’s Harvest Blueberry Puree.  It came out fruit forward, but not fruit dominated, and made for a dry, delicious stout!

Wyeast 3333-PC German Wheat

Think super traditional, bubblegum and bananas German style wheat, but crystal clear!  That’s what I like about this strain.  While I love wheat beers, the heavy sedimentation seems to get to me, if you know what I mean, so this strain gives me all of the brighter, hef flavors that I want with a nice balance of phenolics as a counterpoint.  

If you’re into wheat beers, but want to give your friends something crystal clear and quaffable, try this and make your own modern wheat with all of the authenticity of a traditional hef.  

NEW MALT

Gambrinus Pilsner Malt

As many of you know, we have kind of an obsession with malt around here, and I’m always looking to try different maltsters and see how they compare to the high quality malts that we already carry.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far with Gambrinus Pils.

While it is technically a North American malt (comes out of Canada), this is the closest pils I’ve found to Belgian pilsner.  My gauge is always Synergy Pilsner from Briess malting, which seems to nail a perfect balance between the German Pilsner ‘cracker-y’ character and the Belgian Pilsner ‘sweet’ character.  Gambrinus is still in the middle, but way more on the Belgian sweet side than the German cracker-y side.  Not quite as sweet as the Belgian pilsner, but very close!

Try your favorite pilsner recipe with Gambrinus pils next time, you won’t be disappointed!

Weyermann Spelt Malt

You hear a lot about spelt malt, and it’s a malt that you don’t see a lot of.  It’s really just a type of malted wheat, triticum spelta, but the really cool part is that it’s genetics have been traced back to the fertile crescent and ancient Sumeria!  This means that you’re using a truly ancient grain in your German wheat, probably similar to the same grain bill that the ancients used!

The flavor profile has more of a nutty characteristic than common wheat, especially that grown in the United States, and a cool, tangy acidic characteristic.  Try it with our Honey Wheat recipe, your favorite German or American Hef, or even as a substitute for the wheat in your IPA for a more complex flavor profile.

Weyermann Dark Wheat

This malt is for all of the die hard dunkel brewers out there!  This malt is kind of like wheat and munich malt had a love child, and is a great sub for when you want the head formation and foam retention from a malted wheat, but also want some of those gently toasted, bready, baked goods, biscuity flavors.  Even though it’s only about 8 Lovibond, the range of flavor is way more than you’d expect from such a small difference.  If you’re trying to make a Franziskaner clone, this is an absolute must!  While it will work in just about any beer where you’d add wheat, keep in mind the munich-y, caramel 10 kinds of flavors it throws off and plan accordingly.

NEW EQUIPMENT

Stainless Steel Kettle Spider

Ok, not a brand new product, but new to us!  If you’re brewing bigger batches, this guy is ideal for big hop additions and minimal effort!  We always say to use one big bag for all of your hop additions, and this is one of the easiest ways to hold your bag steady and only have one big bag of hops to clean.  

Originally, I was afraid that it would just slip around and fall in the kettle, but it comes with adjustable, anti slip silicone sleeves on each leg to hold it steady and measures 18” in diameter, so it fits on most big kettles.  We use a 4” Tri-Clover Clamp to hold the bag on, and it works like a champ.  Josh also uses it to catch butterflies when the bag is attached.

Dry Hop Filter Tube

Full disclosure, I am absolutely a hop head.  That comes along with tasting new hops, experimenting with different ways and times to add hops, and everything in between.  Obviously, one of my favorite and easy ways to dry hop is in the keg.  Before, I’d just use a bag and either tie it to the lid or, if using Cryo Hops, I’d just use the pull and pray method and drop them in the keg and leave them.

That’s what I dig about the Dry Hop Filter Tube.  I can do either, but instead of trying to dig out a bag with fishing line attached to it, it’s already got a stainless steel chain and the mesh is stainless, too, so I get better filtration and flow than I would with a bag.  This is a must have!

NEW HOPS

African Queen Hops

Speaking of hops, talk about a crazy flavor and aroma profile!  Dank blueberries, stone fruit, currant and gooseberries, this is like CTZ and Nelson had a baby in South Africa!  We recently did a LIVE broadcast and made a simple pale ale, and it’s almost ready to keg!

With such a versatile profile, we’re excited to see how it comes out and use it as an example for future hoppy beers, and see what would pair best with it to bring out more flavor.

Southern Passion Hops

Obviously, we’re pretty excited to have access to the South African hop varieties again, so we just wanted to try them all!  Southern Passion is brighter than African Queen, with big tropical fruits, melons, coconut, and calendula.  I’m super excited to try these out with some Simcoe to see how much of the brighter flavors we can bring out!