Northern Brewer isn’t just about brewing beer! Read about mead-making techniques, the history of mead,  mead styles, and more.

Blow Off Tubing Assemblies

A blow off assembly is a length of tubing which is attached to your primary fermentor to allow excess yeast and foam (krausen) to escape. During an especially active fermentation, the krausen can fill the entire head space of a fermentor. Without a place for this foam to go, it can create quite a mess. An airlock can become clogged, but a blow off assembly allows krausen to be expelled from the fermentor while still making sure that nothing gets in. One end of the blow off is inserted into the fermentor, and the other end is submerged in sanitizer in an open jug or bucket. Keeping the end of the blow off tube below the surface of the sanitizer will keep a positive seal in the fermentor. There are several different types of blow off tubing assemblies depending on the type of fermentor.

A 1″ ID blow off hose fits glass carboys. 1.25″ Blow-off hose for older style Acid Carboys.

The PET Blow-off Assembly is for narrow-neck PET plastic carboy that use a #10 stopper.

The Fermenator Blow off assembly is for Fermentators

A length of ⅜” siphon tubing can be inserted into a bucket lid by removing the airlock and grommet if needed as well.


Attenuation is the degree to which yeast ferments the sugar in a wort or must. If you have 50% attenuation it means that 50% of the sugars have been converted into alcohol and CO2 by yeast. If you have 100% attenuation, all of the sugars have been consumed by yeast. Beer fermented with normal brewers yeast will never have 100% attenuation. This is important because it can help predict the final gravity and alcohol content of a beer. A yeast with low attenuation will leave a beer with more sugar and more body than a yeast with high attenuation. This can also be very helpful when selecting a yeast strain for a recipe.

Example: your beer has an OG of 1.050 and the expected attenuation of your yeast is 75%. The yeast will ferment 75% of the gravity sample (75% of 50 gravity points is roughly 38 gravity points) so your final gravity should be around 1.012 (50 -38 = 12).

Two Melomels from Curt Stock

Meadmaker of the Year (2005) and Northern Brewer mead kit creator Curt Stock shares two of his favorite melomel recipes with Brewing TV. Now you can make your own! See Curt make a similar melomel in Brewing TV Episode 21. Both recipes scaled for five gallon yield.
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Gimme Somethin’ Sweet

Gimme Somethin’ Sweet Using Honey as a Sweetener in Beer Brewing Add honey to just about any edible & you’ve turned onto the path of consuming something delicious: honey wheat bread, honey ham, honey mustard. A dab of honey turns more folks on to plenty of things. I think honeybees are the species that owe […]

The Grand Yeast Experiment

Fourteen batches of wine and mead. A bevvy, nay a slew, of yeast. Which will take home the gold? Only time, and a lot of drinking, will tell.

A few days back I made up 18 gallons of wine and mead to do a side-by-side test of different yeast strains. The picture above is of 12 1 gallon jugs of mead and wine, there is also a few gallons of pyment and a full carboy of wine. The mead was a 1.092 White Sage Honey traditional that received adequate doses of yeast nutrient and energizer. The wine was the Vintner’s Reserve Shiraz, which despite it’s low cost ranks very high in kit wine-making competitions. The pyment is a 60/40 blend of the Shiraz and White Sage Mead. Here is the breakdown on the yeast.

White Sage Mead – Red Star Pasteur Red, Lalvin Narbonne 71B-1122, White Labs 575 Belgian Ale Blend, Lalvin D-47, Red Star Montrachet, Vintner’s Harvest CR51

Pyment – Lalvin 71B-1122

Vintner’s Reserve Shiraz – Pasteur Red, Lalvin 71B-1122, White Labs 760 Cabernet, Lalvin D-47, Red Star Premier Cuvee, Red Star Montrachet, Vintner’s Harvest CR51

Tasting notes and results will follow in a future blog post. Place your bets on the winners now!

How to Make Invert Sugar

Ever feel like your brewhouse could use more science nerdery? Try making invert sugar! Read more

Nutrient vs. Energizer: Which Should I Use and When?

Nutrients and Energizers sound pretty beneficial – and they can be! But, what the heck are these products!? Moreover, if you use the wrong stuff or an inappropriate bolus, you can do some major damage to your yeast!  What you need to know about nutrient vs. energizer Read more

A Fresh Take On Soda

I’m sure many of you homebrewers out there have considered making soda at one time or another. It only makes sense: those who homebrew often make a lot of things for themselves. Soda should be no different.

You’ve seen the soda extracts that many shops (including NB) sell, which I myself partake in from time to time. They make good, quality sodas and the majority of the work is done for you.

Making soda is easy and usually involves two approaches, either natural or forced carbonation. Natural carbonation involves letting yeast begin to ferment the sugars available in the soda in a closed container (glass or PET bottle). The amount of CO2 produced from the yeast carbonates the soda before any real alcohol is produced. Forced carbonation most commonly involves a homebrew kegging system. No yeast needed, just dissolve sugar in water,  mix in your soda extract, and carbonate.

The following soda recipe and directions I mentioned utilize a homebrew kegging system for forced carbonation. This recipe can be made with natural carbonation using yeast, but for sake of ease I prefer the forced carbonation method. This inspiration for this recipe was given to me from NB employee Ilya Soroka.

What’s different here is what you consider a soda: is it something sickly sweet, loaded with high high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and too much caffeine;  or can it be a healthy, delicious, and refreshing beverage?

Check out this recipe for a new, fresh take on soda.

Orange/ Carrot/Ginger Soda (3 gallons)


  • 2 Gallons Orange Juice (from oranges or from concentrate)
  • 5 lbs. Carrots (tops removed)
  • 1 branch* of Ginger (peeled)
  • 1/2 Gallon Water
  • Juicer
  • Funnel (sanitized)
  • 3 or 5 gallon soda keg (also sanitized)


  1. Place the  sanitized funnel in the open keg hatch and position it under your juicer.
  2. Juice the oranges, carrots and ginger (I typically find juicing the ginger knobs with the carrots or oranges easier than alone).
  3. Top the keg off with water to desired level of consistency and sweetness.
  4. Attach the keg lid and purge head space with CO2.
  5. Carbonate with CO2 to 3 – 4 volumes.
  6. Keep refrigerated at all times to maintain freshness.

No sugar added, all natural and delicious.

The possibilities are endless: pick your favorite fruits (and/or veggies), juice them, and carbonate. Not to mention, those who just like carbonated water can make their own “club soda.”

I will be experimenting with some strawberry-watermelon soda this summer – I’ll keep you updated!

* This is what a “branch” of ginger looks like, way bigger than a “knob:”