ALEiens Homebrew Club

Spreading the Joys of Home Brewing Throughout Philadelphia and the Universe!




(working on uploading pictures)


Matt and myself brewed our first batch of extract lager in 1994.   We brewed a couple (3) gallon batches together on the stove in Matt’s kitchen.  Matt continued to brew 1-2 batches a year of Raspberry Wheats and Pale Ales for an annual 4th of July party he had.  We started brewing together again and got into a consistent brew schedule around mid 2008.  We started doing 4-5 gallon extract batches and about a year later moved on to doing a mini mash with specialty grains.  In 2010 we began all grain brewing using a cooler for the mash tun and a keggle for the brew pot (10g. batches), then upgraded to 25g. batches with cooler MLT and 30g. Blichman, then to our current 1+ barrel system (more on that later).


In late 2010 we came up with the Outta Hand Brews name and the Knuckle Logo and started designing labels for our beers.  We’ve worked with various tattoo artists, but have most recently worked with Alex Clare who designs Fegley’s Brew Works labels.   We print everything through Microsoft Publisher on waterproof labels you can purchase from   We now have 8 custom labels for different beers we brew annually. 


We brew Belgian style beers primarily because it is what we like to drink the most.  We barrel age and sour/funk usually a portion of most batches.  We focus on Saisons and Wits more than any other style.  We have 2 different straight Saisons and 3 different funky or sour Saisons.   We also split all of our Wit batches and have two fruit style Wits and a 100% Brett fermentation Wit we do.














In 2011 we converted a 25’X15’ section of Matt’s barn for brewing.  




We are able to leave all of our equipment in place.  Our system is designed for a single infusion mash where we bring all of the strike water into the MLT and re-circulate just the water until the desired temp is reached. Then we add all the grain and mix. We fly sparge gravity fed from HLT and then pump the wort to the kettle. We do 60 min mashes and 90 min boils. Our system is made up of two 55 gallon Blichmann pots for the HLT and Brew Kettle.  HLT and Kettle are direct fired with propane burners (HLT: restaurant quality stock pot stove w/ 120,000btu, kettle: Tejas 32 jet burner w/ 320,000btu)  We designed a custom 59 gallon rectangular Mash Tun and had it manufactured for us.  We insulated it with 2” foam board and have a 5 rail copper manifold in the bottom.  We also have a sink drain welded into the bottom to make it easier to clean in place. We use a Therminator as our chiller with well water at 55 degrees. We us one March pump for moving wort in and out of kettle. We ferment in converted ½ and ¼ barrel kegs. 



Batch size. Pre-boil 45g., 38.5g. into fermentors, 35-37g. finished beer. Mash tun can hold up to 150lbs of grain for a 1.100 OG all grain wort. We run at about 75% efficiency.

We turned a small room in Matt’s basement into a cold room late in 2011 and we both feel that this made the largest improvement in our beer consistency and quality.   The room is about 12’X12’ and we have an in room air conditioner and heater.   We keep the room as close to 60 degrees as we can throughout the year.   We use heat wraps to get the beer to the fermentation temperature the beer requires.  We have two temperature controllers that we use primarily when we are fermenting the same batch at two different temperatures.  We can ferment in a range of about 64 degrees to 80 degrees.



















We transport all finished beer to my house to force carbonate in my fridge.  We force carbonate 95% of our beer.  We’ve had mixed results with bottle conditioning and only do certain beers that way.   We force carb up to 4 kegs at a time in my fridge.  We find it is more consistent than bottle conditioning for specific CO2 levels.  We bottle almost everything we make. We used to clean and reuse champagne and bomber bottles.  With the larger batch size it became too much to keep up with.  We purchased a pallet of 22 oz bottles from Buy Our Bottles (  Great bottles for a great price.   In 2011 and 2012 we bottled over 3,000 bottles. 
















We started doing sour beers in 2009 and did not want to have the kegs or barrels in with our “clean” beer.   We converted a 10’X12’ room in my basement and created the “Funk Dungeon”.  My house is a 1775 farmhouse and the basement has a very dungeon feel to it.  We do sours in both stainless vessels and barrels.  We’ve been using the 15 gallon Dad’s Hat barrels lately.   We currently have over 200 gallons of sours/funky beers aging.







Splitting batches.    Many times we split our batch up between 2-3 yeasts and implement a post boil addition.  Our most recent brew day was our Saison.  It is a Rye Saison with 15% Rye.  We started with 38.5 gallons out of the boil pot.  We fermented 11 gallons with White Labs 565 Belgian Saison Yeast, 11 gallons with Wyeast 3711 French Saison Yeast, 11 gallons with White Labs 545 Ardennes Yeast, and 5.5 with White Labs 500 Trappist (Chimay). The 500 yeast batch came out of the kettle hot and racked onto fresh orange zest and grains of paradise. After about 20 min we let it cool in an ice bath before pitching yeast.  The saison batches followed one temp schedule rising to 80 degrees. The other two yeasts we kept at 68-70 degrees. Out of this batch we produced 4 different beers. Mid-summer (Chimay yeast with spices & zest), 36 Chambers Saison (565 yeast), Belgian Pale Ale (Ardennes yeast), and the 3711 yeast saison which was bottled with bret brux.  


Temperature Control  Temperature is everything when fermenting Belgian beers.  Most of the grain bills are very simple and a lot of the flavor profile comes from the yeast. Many strains of Belgian yeast will get much more estery, fruity, spicy, and even funky through higher fermentation temperatures.  A typical temperature schedule for us is to pitch at 66, free rise to 68-70 over the first 2-3 days, then increase the temp to 72-75. This keeps the fermentation under control in the beginning to avoid it being hot or having an alcohol burn to it while producing the yeast flavor desired. Fermenting Belgian beers below 68 degrees will cause many Belgian strains to lose much of their character and create a very clean tasting beer.  On high gravity beers the challenge can be keeping the beer cool enough because a vigorous fermentation can create enough heat on its own to free rise into the mid-70’s. When you experiment with different temps and schedules remember a few degrees can make a difference in flavor so having a digital control makes repeatability much easier.


Fermenting Saisons. We’ve performed many fermentation experiments with our Saison batches over the past couple years and one consistent element we look to achieve is a very dry beer.  Our favorite yeast strain for taste is 565 DuPont strain from White Labs. It can be a tricky strain without temperature control and even with temperature control we’ve had it stall at the 1.025 to 1.030 mark and sometimes not restart for 3 weeks.   We like to pitch at 68 degrees and hold for 48 hours before ramping the temperature up 2 degrees every 12 hours to 80 degrees.  To help keep fermentation strong all the way through we will add sugar to the fermentor just after high krausen (about 2-3 days, right when bubbling starts to slow down). We normally use 1 pound of sugar per 10g. We have tried different types of sugar such as Belgian syrup, Turbinado, regular cane sugar, dark candi sugar. We have found the taste to be very similar between Turbinado and clear candi sugar, and due to the cost prefer Turbinado. With a strong fermentation the beer will finish out in about 7 days (down to 1.003-1.006). We will let it rest at 80 for a few more days then turn off the heat. After dropping out for 5-7 days we rack to kegs. We typically do not use secondary fermentors for our beers. NOTE: If you don’t get down below 1.010 try adding bret/bacteria for a funky saison.


Yeast Pitches. We target a pitch rate of about 10-15 million cells per ml, or 400 to 600 billion cells per 11 gallons fermenting depending on the gravity. That translates to a starter of 1-2 vials or packs in a 5L flask with stir plate. We rely on Beersmith’s starter feature to calculate the amount of yeast needed erring on the high side. We use fresh yeast to make the starters and do not harvest any of our old yeast mainly because we are not set up to collect it and it could be 6 months or a year until we brew something with that yeast again.


Souring/Funking Beers in Stainless  We began souring and funking all of our beers in stainless vessels.  We noticed, especially with Brett beers that they had a slight rubber stopper smell.  After investigation online and from people in the brewing community we found out that the rubber stopper smell can be a by product of Brett that doesn’t have wood to latch on to.  We started adding roughly 20-30 medium toast French oak to our 5 gallon batches.  It does not impart much of an oak flavor, but gives the Brett something to attach themselves to.  Our brett beers and sour beers have improved through that simple addition.


Cheaper barrels  We’ve looked for smaller barrels over the years and always had a difficult time finding barrels for souring projects that were 15-25 gallons that weren’t $300-$400.   Earlier in 2013 we did an experiment where we took a Dad’s Hat 15 gallon barrels from Keystone Homebrew shop and stripped it for a souring project.  They are becoming much more scarce, but are still available from Keystone.  They are a nice size for aging sours in.   They are currently $125 per barrel.  We have bought them brand new and stripped them for souring projects that we don’t want the oakiness or whiskey flavor.  We boil 15 gallons of water and fill the barrel.  We let it sit for 4 hours, drain it and repeat.  We do this 3 or 4 times until the water coming out after 4 hours doesn’t have any whiskey flavor left.  It also strips away much of the char.   If you are looking for some toast or slight whiskey to your beer it works if you only do it 1-2 times.  


Force carbing beers for bottling or dispensing  We force carbonate 95% of our beer.  We force carb in both sanke kegs and Cornelius kegs.  We allow the kegs to sit in the refrigerator overnight to cool down to 43 degrees.  Once the keg is cool we hook the gas into the down tube (beer side) and set the regulator to 22 psi.   We bleed off the headspace and let it sit on pressure for 1 week.  We use 22 psi for Saisons, Wits, Golden Strongs and other Belgian Ales.  We use 18 psi for our Stouts, Quads, barrel aged beers and IPAs.  

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