Great Homebrew Recipes: Pliny The Elder

Occasionally, I will try to document a recipe that appears to be popular amongst the Internet brewing community. As well as serving as a reminder of a potential future brew, it also gives me the opportunity to relate interesting points about contemporary brewers and their brewing practices.

This is, of course, the recipe that Mike McDole’s winning entry in the 2007 Samuel Adams® American Homebrew Contest is based on.

Vinnie Cilurzo is credited with developing the first commercial Imperial IPA at Blind Pig Brewery in Temecula, CA. In 1997 he became head brewer at Korbel Champagne Cellars’ Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa, CA. He worked there for seven years before purchasing the brewery. At the American Homebrewers Association 2004 National Homebrew Competition in Las Vegas, NV, and again at the 2005 National Homebrew Competition in Baltimore, MD, Vinnie passed out a handout containing a homebrew scale recipe of Pliny the Elder which, in turn, got posted at Later, he worked with Brew Your Own magazine, to publish the recipe. The differences in the grain bill between the two may be due to different volume assumptions.

The small amount of caramel malt and the moderate dextrine malt are consistent with Vinnie’s tips on making better hoppy beers. Supposedly, Vinnie started introducing Dextrose due to mash tun volume limitations at Blind Pig. He found that his customers preferred the dry finish it provided. Also, they apparently no longer use mash hopping. The cows that eat their spent grains supposedly do not like it. Some say that they have switched to hop extract.

At 1:44:30 into the 06-26-05 episode of The Sunday Session, there is a lecture that Vinnie gave at the 2005 NHC called “Dry Hopping: Quantity, Time, Temperature, and Mixing,” including a discussion of this beer and how it came about and the dry hopping schedule at Russian River.

This is from the product page at Russian River Brewing:

Pliny the Elder was a Roman naturalist, scholar, historian, traveler, officer, and writer. Although not considered his most important work, Pliny and his contemporaries created the botanical name for hops, Lupus salictarius, meaning wolf among scrubs. Hops at that time grew wild among willows, much like a wolf in the forest. Later the current botanical name, Humulus lupulus, was adopted. Pliny died in 79 AD while observing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. He was immortalized by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, who continued his uncle’s legacy by documenting much of what he observed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

8.0% ABV, 1.071 OG

  • Gold Medal, 2006 World Beer Cup (Double IPA Category)
  • Gold Medal, 2005 GABF (Double IPA Category)
  • Bronze Medal, 2004 GABF (Double IPA Category)

I have formulated this recipe to produce 5 gallons (19 L) of beer for packaging. I assume a loss due to trub of 0.5 gallons in the fermenter and another 0.5 gallons in the boil kettle. That leaves six gallons (22.7 L) at the end of the boil. I assume a boil-off rate of about 1 gallon per hour, which means I need 7.5 gallons (28.4 L) at the start of the boil for a 90-minute full-volume boil. I have adjusted the ingredient amounts accordingly to achieve the desired gravities, bitterness, and pitching rates. I assume the use of bagged pellet hops for all hop additions. I use the Rager formula for calculating bitterness and the Morey model for calculating beer color.

Recipe: Vinnie Cilurzo’s Pliny the Elder

OG: 1.075 (18.2 °P)

FG: 1.013 (3.3 °P)

ADF: 81.8%

IBU: 261.3

Color: 5.9 SRM (14.3 EBC)

Alcohol: 8.4% ABV (6.6% ABW)

Boil: 90 minutes

Pre-Boil Volume: 7.5 gallons (28.4 L)

Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.054 (13.3 °P)

Extracts Weight Percent
Light DME (2.2 °L) 10.0 lbs. (4.5 kg) 80.9
Dextrose (0 °L) 1.1 lbs. (500 g) 8.9
Steeping Grains
Carapils Malt (2 °L) 0.94 lbs. (425 g) 7.6
Crystal (40 °L) 0.32 lb. (145 g) 2.6
Hops IBU
Warrior 15.6% AA, 90 min. 2.75 oz. (78 g) 167.9
Chinook 12.2% AA, 90 min. 0.5 oz. (14 g) 23.9
Simcoe 12% AA, 45 min. 1.0 oz. (28 g) 39.6
Columbus 14.3% AA, 30 min. 1.0 oz. (28 g) 30.0
Centennial 9.1% AA, 0 min. 2.25 oz. (64 g) 0.0
Simcoe 12% AA, 0 min. 1.0 oz. (28 g) 0.0
Columbus 14.3% AA, dry hop. 3.25 oz. (92 g) 0.0
Centennial 9.1% AA, dry hop. 1.75 oz. (50 g) 0.0
Simcoe 12% AA, dry hop. 1.75 oz. (50 g) 0.0
White Labs California Ale WLP001, Wyeast American Ale 1056, or Fermentis Safale US-05
Fermentation and Conditioning

Use 16 grams of properly rehydrated dry yeast, 3 liquid yeast packages, or make an appropriate starter. Ferment at 68 °F (20 °C). When finished, carbonate the beer to approximately 2 to 2.5 volumes.

All-Grain Option

Replace the light extract with 13.3 lbs. (6.0 kg) American two-row malt. Mash at 150–152 °F (66–67 °C). Add 1.5 ounces of 13% AA Chinook hops during the mash.1

  1. To quote Denny Conn, “The difference, to me, is that [first wort hopping] adds hops flavor and smooth bitterness and mash hopping basically does nothing but waste hops.” 

Brewing by the Yeast

During the Fall 2008 cycle of the Wyeast Private Collection I picked up a couple of each of the available strains: Wyeast 1026 PC British Cask Ale, Wyeast 1469 PC West Yorkshire Ale, and Wyeast 1768 PC English Special Bitter. Since I am still somewhat of a neophyte I was not sure what I was going to do with them.

I did some searching and found CJ’s House of the Rising Sun JPA using the now deceased extract recipe from Homebrew Adventures. It sounds like the beer to make using this yeast and I have a batch working in the cellar at the moment. Update: Here is a discussion of 1026 fermentation temperature and another about how it got into the VSS database.

I did a little more searching and discovered that Wyeast 1469 is the yeast Timothy Taylor uses so it seems like a Landlord Strong Pale Ale clone is in order. Perhaps The Inn Keeper from Northern Brewer, thought it seems the water profile is important, too. There is an interesting all-grain clone recipe from the book Brew Your Own British Real Ale, as well.

So far, the only recipe I have been able to find that uses the 1768 is the Northern Brewer Peace Coffee Stout Porter. Though there is some discussion about how fast this yeast ferments.

Does anyone have any other recipe suggestions?

Water Testing Progress

On of my Brew Year Goals is to get my water tested. So, I was reading the Tips & Tricks over at Brewcommune when I came accross this one about water analysis:

Water testing from Ward Labs, request test W-6.

Click on “About Us”, then “General Information” and then “Sampling Supplies.” From there you can order FREE water testing bottles, shipping boxes and pre-paid USPS shipping labels.

If you do that, you get to a page that looks like an order form. You fill in how many of each thing you want — I asked for a water testing bottle and a pre-paid shipping label — provide your contact information, and click submit. I guess I did not expect it to actually be free, so I was pleasantly surprised when the next screen was an order confirmation and not a credit card screen. I guess they figure you are going to use them to buy a water test, after all, and will pay for it then. Still, it is a nice gesture. A little bit later I got an email confirmation, as well.

I will post and update when I get my test bottle.

Beginner Recipes from Brewing Classic Styles

I have been trying to decide what beers to brew in 2009. In Brewing Classic Styles, Jamil and John have the recipes nicely broken down by difficulty level:

  • Beginner — Extract with steeped grain and basic equipment.
  • Intermediate — High gravities, tricky yeasts, odd ingredients, extra steps, and better fermentation temperature control.
  • Advanced — Partial mash, bacteria cultures, extended fermentation, and active fermentation temperature control.

I still consider myself a beginner and am happy to stick with extract with steeped grains for a bit until I get my skills better refined, so I decided to take a look at all of the “beginner” recipes.

While reviewing the recipes I came across what I assumed was a misprint — always assume somebody else is at fault before assuming you are mistaken — regarding the 300 °L Roasted Barley in the Irish Red Ale recipe. It seems to be a common question. To double check, I went to listen to the Irish Red Ale episode of The Jamil Show. Sure enough, the recipe is correct. I did some searching and discovered that Midwest Homebrewing Supplies carries something called Light Roasted Barley from Briess that fits the bill.

Anyway, I was listening to the show and they got to talking about how Jamil brewed a bunch of recipes using the same yeast in series by pitching on top of the yeast cake from the last batch.

Since I have reusing my yeast as one of my Brew Year Goals, I took a look at the recipes and found a number of series using the same yeast and primary malt. None require a secondary or dry hopping or exceed an original gravity of 1.070, which would seem to make them ideal candidates for yeast reuse. I have them listed here by increasing alcohol content, which is what some recommend.

This is well more than a year worth of brewing for me, but it does provide some interesting ideas.

White Labs WLP001 California Ale or Wyeast 1056 American Ale and Light Malt Extract

  1. Dirty Water Brown (p. 141) — 10C. American Brown Ale — 4.9% ABV
  2. American Pale Ale with Caramel (p. 136) — 10A. American Pale Ale — 5.1% ABV
  3. Call Me! (p. 96) — 6B. Blonde Ale — 5.2% ABV
  4. American Pale Ale (p. 134) — 10A. American Pale Ale — 5.7% ABV
  5. Black Widow Porter (p. 156) — 12B. Robust Porter — 6.5% ABV
  6. Janet’s Brown Ale (p. 143) — 10C. American Brown Ale — 6.6% ABV
  7. Hoppiness is an IPA (p. 186) — 14B. American IPA — 7% ABV

White Labs WLP001 California Ale or Wyeast 1056 American Ale and English Pale Ale Malt Extract

  1. Scottish Heavy 70/- (p. 125) — 9B. Scottish Heavy 70/- — 3.2% ABV
  2. American Amber (p. 137) — 10B. American Amber Ale — 5.1% ABV
  3. West Coast Blaster (p. 138) — 10B. American Amber Ale — 6.8% ABV

White Labs WLP013 London Ale or Wyeast 1028 London Ale and English Pale Ale Malt Extract

  1. Nutcastle (p. 151) — 11C. Northern English Brown — 5.1% ABV
  2. Who’s Your Taddy Porter (p. 154) — 12A. Brown Porter — 5.1% ABV
  3. Bière De L’inde (p. 183) — 14A. English IPA — 6.2% ABV

White Labs WLP002 English Ale or Wyeast 1968 ESB and English Pale Ale Malt Extract

  1. Through a Mild Darkly (p. 146) — 11A. Mild — 3.2% ABV
  2. No Short Measure (p. 116) — 8A. Standard/Ordinary Bitter — 3.6% ABV
  3. Nutty Man Brown Ale (p. 149) — 11B. Southern English Brown — 3.8% ABV
  4. I’m Not Bitter, I’m Thirsty (p. 119) — 8B. Special/Best/Premium Bitter — 4.6% ABV
  5. Programmer’s Elbow (p. 121) — 8C. Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale) — 5.4% ABV

White Labs WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale or Wyeast 3068 Weihstephan Weizen and Wheat Extract

  1. Harold-is-Weizen (p. 192) — 15A. Weizen/Weissbier — 5.0% ABV
  2. Trig Oscuro (p. 194) — 15B. Dunkelweizen — 5.6% ABV

One Shot Recipes

That leaves these recipes which do not share a common yeast with any other beginner recipe.

Sources of Ingredients

With the exception of one yeast, I have managed to locate online sources for all of the ingredients involved in making these recipes. I had to go to five sources to find them all:

In some cases the ingredient is available from more than one source. In general I tried to select the one with the lowest shipping charges.

The yeast exception was the Wyeast 3655 Belgian Schelde. It is part of Wyeast’s Private Collection and was last available in 2006. Should it come back around, I am certain that anyone that carries Wyeast will be able to get it. In the mean time, White Labs WLP515 Antwerp Ale seems like an acceptable substitute.

Also note that the White Labs WLP515 Antwerp Ale and WLP006 Bedford British Ale are both part of the Seasonal Platinum Yeast program and availability may be limited.

Malt Extracts and Sugars
Steeping Grains

What I Brewed in 2008

  • Two 1-gallon batches of Northwest Golden Cascade IPA
  • Two 1-gallon batches of Imperial Celebration IIPA
  • One 5-gallon batch of Speed Brewing Bitter
  • One 5-gallon batch of Call Me Irresponsible Blonde Ale
  • One 5-gallon batch of Tongue Splitter IPA
  • One 5-gallon batch of No Short Measure Ordinary Bitter
  • One 5-gallon batch of Red Cap Cider
  • One 5-gallon batch of Triple-X Sweet Stout
  • One 5-gallon batch of CJ’s House of the Rising Sun JPA

Cask Ale Blowout

It was warm in central Pennsylvania on the weekend after Christmas. Highs in the 50s. Warm enough that I was able to get in a brew session. I decided to brew a batch of CJ’s House of the Rising Sun JPA using the extract recipe on Homebrew Adventures.

It was the first time I used the Wyeast 1026 PC British Cask Ale. I bought two packs as soon as they became available. Manufactured 14-oct-08.

I smacked and the pack did almost nothing. It filled some, but did not swell. There was some yeast in there, but not terribly active.

I made a starter — 7 oz Light DME in 2 quarts of water with a pinch of Wyeast Nutrient — and the starter did almost nothing. Some effervescence but not very active bubbling. Some yeast, but not terribly active.

When I brewed I added a ½-teaspoon of Wyeast Nutrient 10 minutes before the end of the boil. After cooling, I rocked the carboy back and forth for a good five minutes to aerate before pitching. I pitched that afternoon and the next morning I had to switch from a 3-piece airlock to a blow off tube and the bubbling sounded like a damned minigun.

I guess the next time I use the Cask Ale yeast I will keep in mind that it may be a little slow to start.

Getting Reminders

I have already made some incremental progress on my Brew Year Goals. An important thing about goals is remembering them, so I put them all into my Remember The Milk account. I have it configured to send me reminders several weeks before and again on the day when a task is due. I have it send reminders to my email, as well as my Twitter account. I also have the iPhone App on my iPod Touch, so I can see my task list whenever I want.

Who knew Web 2.0 could help you brew?

2009 Brew Year Goals

I believe that people are more successful when they have goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound goals. I also believe that most people make completely bogus New Years resolutions and quickly forget them. It is no surprise when the year ends and they have not accomplished them. That is why I am defining my 2009 Brewing Goals, not my New Years resolutions.

Here are my goals for the coming brew year:

  1. Reuse the yeast cake from a previous batch
    • Some folks pitch right on top of a previous cake. Others wash and save. I bought some Wyeast British Cask Ale Yeast from the private collection that just ended, it would be nice to get more than one batch out of it. Since I just made a batch of CJ’s JPA after Christmas with it this would be a great time to start.
    • Here is the goal: Figure out how to get more than one batch out of a pack of yeast.
    • Do it by Groundhog Day (2/2/2009)
  2. Organize a group buy for equipment and ingredients amongst your brewing friends to save on shipping
    • There is no homebrew shop close to me. I order my equipment and ingredients from the Internet. Sometimes the shipping charge is more than the cost of what I am buying.
    • I do know a couple other home brewers in the area. If we pool our orders maybe we can share the pain on the shipping.
    • It might even be possible to go in with one of the local brew pubs.
    • Here is the goal: When you are going to place an order, let your brewing friends know and have them let you know what they want to buy from the same places and order it all together.
    • Do it by Saint Patrick’s Day (3/17/2009)
  3. Plant some hops
    • Who wants to get caught paying too much or stuck in a shortage when hops grows on trees… uh… bines?
    • Look over some of your favorite beers and determine what hops are your favorite.
    • Select a few hop varieties to grow. Think bitter, flavor, aroma, style.
    • Order some hop rhizomes.
    • Plant and care for them.
    • Do it by the first day of Spring (3/21/2009)
  4. Put together a “toolbox” for brewing stuff
    • I have all my brewing stuff stashed in cardboard boxes around the house. When I need to do something, I search through all of them to find what I am looking for.
    • Here is the goal: Figure out what brewing equipment you need on a typical brew day and buy a toolbox from the hardware store that will hold it all. Do the same thing for bottling day. If it will all fit, great! If not, get a second one for that stuff.
    • Do it by National Homebrew Day (5/2/2009)
  5. Completely nail at least one brew
    • Thorough cleaning and sanitation
    • Proven recipe
    • Quality ingredients
    • Good grain crush
    • Proper steeping
    • Full boil
    • Correct hop schedule
    • Rapid wort chilling
    • Adequate aeration
    • Sufficient quantity of healthy yeast with ample nutrition
    • Proper and stable fermentation temperature
    • Appropriate priming and conditioning
    • Do it by Memorial Day (5/25/2009)
  6. Start whirlpool chilling
    • When I bought my immersion chiller, I got the optional recirculation package. It is not doing me any good sitting in the box it came in.
    • Here is the goal: Buy a high temperature rated, food grade pump and the appropriate plumbing and fittings to be able to recirculate during chilling.
    • Be ready to try it on a brew by the first day of Summer (6/21/2009)
  7. Develop a house beer
    • It will probably be somewhere between Saranac Pale Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Something that Gretchen will like as well as I do. Hoppy with a good malt backbone and a clean finish.
    • Have a draft recipe and brew it by Independence Day (7/4/2009)
    • Work on making it consistently.
    • Make two consecutive consistent batches by the end of the year (12/31/2009)
  8. Get the water tested
    • Water chemistry effects mash pH as well as hop utilization.
    • Everybody says to go to Ward Labs and ask for the W-6 Household Mineral Test for $16.50.
    • Do it by Mead Day (8/1/2009)
  9. Brew a partial mash beer
    • There is no magic here. I just want to try partial mash brewing to get my feet wet with base grains.
    • Find a partial mash recipe, or even a kit, and try it out.
    • Follow the instructions to the letter and see how you think it compares to extract with steeped grains.
    • Do it by Labor Day (9/7/2009)
  10. Attend a regional brewfest and do a write-up
    • Gretchen and I attended several festivals last year and had a great time. At the Selinsgrove Brewfest we had the honor of chatting with Hugh from Clipper City Brewing and he even served us Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale. Awesome stuff and we had a great time.
    • It also served as a nice opportunity for the wife and I to get away from things here on the farm and see a little bit of the world outside and enjoy some time together.
    • Here is the goal: Identify brewfests within a reasonable driving distance. Consider the breweries that will attend and the beers that you like. Look at the area where it is being held and see whether there are other things to see in the area — Parks, museums, battlefields, and so on. Book a motel room nearby so you do not need to drive afterwards. Make an overnight trip out of it. After you get back, share the joy with the brewing community on the Internet.
    • Do it by the end of Summer (9/21/2009)
  11. Get more flip-top bottles
    • I have 5 — count ’em, five — Grolsch bottles. I have had them since I got into home brewing the first time in the early ’90s. They are great. If I have got a little more beer to bottle than I expected, I just pop it in those. The rubber seals are reusable and cheap to replace when they wear out. The problem is I only have five of them.
    • Option 1: Buy a case of Grolsch from the local distributor and save the bottles.
    • Option 2: Buy a case of generic brown flip-top bottles from a homebrew supply store.
      • Pro: They are brown so the beer is less likely to go skunky.
      • Con: They are expensive and glass sometimes carries extra shipping charges.
    • Here is the goal: Get at least 12 more flip-top bottles.
    • Do it by Columbus Day (10/12/2009)
  12. Dial in the system
    • A consistent brew is all about knowing how your system works. While you are starting out, measure everything.
    • How much water per pound does your steeping grain absorb?
    • How long does it take your burner to heat a given volume at a given temperature to a boil?
    • How much boils off in an hour?
    • How much gas does it take to boil for an hour?
    • How long does it take to cool from a boil to a given pitching temperature?
    • How much water do you use during cooling?
    • If you know these things it is easier to formulate recipes and know whether you are brewing consistently.
    • Do it by Thanksgiving (11/26/2009)
  13. Make at least one step further on the brewing path
    • All grain brewing
      • I do not know how attainable this one is given that I still have it as a goal to nail one extract brew.
    • Kegging
      • This seems reasonable. In fact, I understand that it will make brewing easier and more enjoyable.
    • Here is the goal: Invest in the equipment needed to get started with kegging and keg at least one batch of beer.
    • Do it by Christmas (12/25/2009)
  14. Work on a logo for the brewery
    • Everybody else has one. Why not me?
    • Something with rolling hills (Hey! It’s a valley for Pete’s sake!). Low rounded ones to reflect the Appalachian foothills where I live.
    • Something memorable that will make a nice backdrop or accent for beer bottle labels, glassware, and clothing.
    • Do it by the end of the year (12/31/2009)
  15. Visit a brewery or brewpub and do a write-up
    • Who needs an excuse to go to a brewery or brewpub? Nobody, but here’s one anyway.
    • Here is the goal: Go to a brewery or brewpub and write up a post about your experience.
    • Do it by the end of the year (12/31/2009)
  16. Volunteer to help out at a brewery or brewpub in your area
    • While you are at that brewery or brewpub let them know you are a budding home brewer and see if you could help out. They’ll probably put you on clean up duty, but everybody needs to start somewhere and you still get to watch.
    • Do it by the end of the year (12/31/2009)


p>There! Those are by brew goals for the new year.

What are yours?

How many beer bottles do I need?

128 ounces per gallon × 5 gallons = 640 ounces

640 ounces ÷ X ounces per bottle = Y bottles

Here are some numbers for bottle sizes you can order online.

  • 6 oz = 106
  • 187 mL = 101
  • 12 oz = 53
  • 375 mL = 50
  • 16 oz = 40
  • 500 mL = 37
  • 22 oz = 29
  • 750 mL = 25
  • 32 oz = 20
  • 1 L = 18
  • 1.5 L = 12
  • 64 oz = 10
  • 2 L = 9