Friday, 26 May 2023

All-Star Hazy Pale Ale Recipe (All Grain)


Following on from our recently published Hazy Pale Ale Recipe Creation Guide - here's our Hazy Pale Ale recipe. 


We also owe a big credit for the majority of this recipe to Adam Makes Beer and Dudes Brews on YouTube, in particular this video where they cover in detail the Hazy Pale Ale style and a sample recipe provided by Adam.

As the name suggests, we're going for a simple combination of All-Star hops - with Citra, Galaxy and Mosaic. Yakima Valley Hops consider this hop combination in a 1:1:1 ratio as the GOAT combo for IPA's, particularly hazy ones, so they no doubt work well together.


Batch Volume: 23L 
Boil Time: 30 minutes
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.013
IBU (Tinseth): 29
BU/GU: 0.56
Colour: 8.3 EBC
Expected ABV: 5.1%


Temperature: 68°C - 60 minutes
Mash Out: 75°C - 10 minutes


4.0kg - Gladfield Pilsner Malt (73%)
0.7kg - Gladfield Big-O Malted Oats (13%)
0.4kg - Gladfield Toffee Malt (7%)
0.4kg - Gladfield Wheat Malt (7%)


Hopstand 20 mins @ 80°C - 50g Citra (9 IBU)
Hopstand 20 mins @ 80°C - 50g Galaxy (11 IBU)
Hopstand 20 mins @ 80°C - 50g Mosaic (9 IBU)

Dry Hop - Citra - 50g - 3 days
Dry Hop - Galaxy - 50g - 3 days
Dry Hop - Mosaic - 50g - 3 days


Lallemand (LalBrew) New England Dry Yeast (2 packets)


20°C - 14 days


2.4-2.9 CO2-vol

Water Profile

Custom water profile with only addition of calcium chloride to raise calcium and chloride levels

Thursday, 25 May 2023

Hazy Pale Ale - Recipe Creation Guide

Hazy Pale Ale's are the latest trending beer style, with craft beer lovers craving heavily hopped and flavour-packed beers, without all the alcohol and heaviness you usually get with styles like Hazy IPA.

The Hazy Pale Ale is the craft beer industries solution to this problem - a beer you can have more than a couple of and not fall asleep, or still be able to legally drive a car home. Think of it as a Session Hazy IPA. There's a bit to consider when designing a Hazy Pale Ale recipe so read on to find out what you should (and should not) be doing when designing and brewing your own.

Although the Hazy Pale Ale is not (yet) a recognized BJCP beer style so we're going to outline how the style would be outlined if it were to be a BJCP style.


Colour should range from light straw to a very light amber or even an orange hue. It should appear hazy or opaque but not cloudy or murky. There should be no visible matter such as hop debris, yeast clumps or any other particulates. Thick white head with high retention is desirable.


Hop aroma should be high to very high. Expect notes of stone, tropical and/or citrus fruits. Should not have grassy or herbal notes. Clean, neutral, grainy or light bready malt in the background, but no caramel or toast. Total absence of malt character is a fault. Neutral to fruity fermentation character is acceptable but esters from yeast and hops should not clash. A creamy, buttery or acidic aroma is a fault.


High to very high fruity hop flavour with notes of stone, tropical and/or citrus fruits. Low to medium perceived bitterness with a soft, medium finish. Hop character should be strong but not harsh or sharp, particularly in the aftertaste. Fruity esters from the yeast are acceptable and should complement the hop flavours. No strong/notable alcohol flavours.


Body and mouthfeel should be medium with a supporting level of carbonation. No harshness. Should not have a creamy or viscous mouthfeel and should not have an acidic twang or raw starch texture.

Vital Statistics

ABV: 4.5% - 6%
IBU: 20 - 40
SRM: 3 - 7
OG: 1.046 - 1.060
FG: 1.011 - 1.015


American Two Row/Pilsner/Extra Pale Malt - 70 - 75%
Combination of Malted Wheat and Malted/Unmalted Oats - 20 - 25%
Low Colour Dextrin/Crystal Malt (eg. Carahell) - 5-8%

The majority of the grain bill should be two row, pilsner or extra pale malt or any combination of these. This will provide most of the fermentable sugars in the wort.

Next we want to include somewhere between 20-25% malted wheat and either malted or unmalted oats. You can experiment with the ratios to get different flavours, but these will impart lots of proteins and contribute to the desirable haze that we're after for this beer which is why it's important to have at least 20% of the grist made up of these.

This beer will be loaded with hops so we need a little something extra to help support them, so a low colour dextrin malt like carahell should be included in 5-8% to help provide a little extra residual sweetness. Go for a low colour option here as we're not after caramel or toasty flavours, just a little bit of sweetness to hide behind the hops and prop them up a bit.


For your Hazy Pale Ale you're looking to use new world hops and lots of them. Also look for hop varieties with high levels of "survivable compounds" to ensure maximun aromas and flavours preserved within the finished beer after active fermentation. Examples include citra, mosaic, galaxy and sabro. When determining/researching hop combinations, any combination that works well in a Hazy IPA (or any IPA for that matter) will likely yield good results in a Hazy Pale.

The following article from Yakima Valley Hops on Top Hops for Hazy IPAs is a good place to start for some hop suggestions.

Whirlpool Hop Additions

Whirlpool hop additions are a requirement for this particular style. Utilise a large whirlpool hop addition to extract more of the desirable fruit characteristics from the hops whilst minimising the harsh bittering compounds that are typically extracted when added at boiling temperatures. You can even opt to get all of your IBU's for your Hazy Pale Ale from a whirlpool hop addition - aim for around 80-85°C and 15-20 minutes to get into the 20-40 IBU range.

Dry Hopping

Dry hopping is essentially mandatory to help promote the hop flavours and aromas that are desirable for this style. You can dry hop during active fermentation to leverage the effects of biotransformation, or wait until active fermentation has finished before adding your dry hop charge.

Aim for a dry hop rate of at least 5g/L, but don't exceed more than 8g/L or  you'll risk putting things out of balance as you may not have the IBU's or alcohol content to back it up, and you'll start creeping into Hazy IPA territory.

Mash (Temperature & Time)

Mash @ 67-68°C to help create a slightly less fermentable wort to achive a slightly higher final gravity (FG)
Mashout @ 75°C for 10 minutes


Use an ale yeast with medium flocculation. Some examples are below;

Dry Yeast:

  • Lallemand Verdant IPA 
  • Lallemand New England American East Coast Ale
  • Fermentis Safale S-04
  • Fermentis Safale S-33
Liquid Yeast:

  • Wyeast 1318 London Ale III 
  • White Labs WLP066 London Fog
  • GigaYeast GY054 Vermont IPA
  • Imperial Yeast A38 Juice

Water Profile

Similar to the NEIPA/Hazy IPA style, leverage a water profile with high levels of chloride and reduced levels of sulfate. Aim for a minimum 2:1 chloride to sulfate ratio. 100ppm or less of calcium.

Fermentation Temperature

Ferment within the upper range of the yeasts recommended temperature range to help promote some slight ester formations, though a clean, neutral yeast flavour profile is also acceptable.

Pressure Fermentation

If you're going for a clean and ester-free flavour profile then pressure fermentation can be beneficial here, but if leveraging a yeast that can impart some esters and desirable characteristics then avoid using pressure for the first few days of active fermentation which is when these esters are typically formed.

Cold Crashing

Cold crashing can be beneficial to this style of beer as it can help the hop debris settle to the bottom of the fermenter with the rest of the trub.

Sample Recipe

Hazy Pale Ale Recipe (All Grain)

Related Articles

Friday, 19 May 2023

American Amber Ale - Tasting Results & Review


When we set out to design the recipe for this beer, we made a conscious decision to focus on using hops that would give a flavour profile more resinous and piney than outright fruit, or citrus - and that's exactly what we got.

We're very pleased with how this one turned out, and it's not really any surprise, as we researched loads of recipes when putting this one together and found many commonalities in the recipes other people were using and documenting for their American amber ales. Striking the right balance between malt and hop flavours can be tricky in an amber ale, but we feel we've done a pretty good job with this one with both complementing each other nicely and neither dominating the palate.

Here are the links to the Recipe and Brew Day posts

A couple of key things to point out with regards to the recipe;
  • Use a tiny amount of pale chocolate malt - we used 50g in total and it really makes a big difference in accentuating the bitterness. Definitely don't use any more than this though as it will quickly overpower everything else at play.
  • Don't worry about dry hopping - we were very tempted to dry hop this but we're glad we didn't. One of the articles we read about designing amber ales recipes stated to try and avoid dry hopping and to trust your kettle hops. Obviously you need to make sure you've got some decent late boil (or whirlpool) additions to get the hop flavours you need balanced out against the malt


There's a thick, creamy, off-white head that has good staying-power, and as expected underneath it we've got a fairly dark beer in the glass with the Brewfather recipe estimating a colour of 31.5 EBC. It has cleared slightly in the keg after a couple of weeks thanks to the whirlfloc added to the boil, though the darkish colour doesn't make it look particularly clear.  It's at the darker end of the colour scale for an Amber ale but still within the acceptable colour range within the BJCP guidelines.


Thanks to the classic American hop varieties of columbus, chinook and centennial, we've got a fairly prominent earthy, piney and slightly dank aroma, followed closely by a little bit of sweetness from the malts. There's the tiniest hint of yeast aroma too that we've noticed, but this one smells goood.


Mouthfeel as you'd expect is medium to full - since we had a relatively high finishing gravity of 1.014, there's a decent amount of residual sugar left that helps give it the desired sweetness. The hop flavours are very much inline with those listed in aroma and are exactly what you'd expect from the hops used - piney, earthy and a little dank. A little bit of floral and fruit from the centennial hops too. The inclusion of centennial hops in the whirlpool only was a late inclusion but we're glad we added them in - we think it rounds the hop profile out nicely against the chinook and columbus.

Up front there's an initial hit of sweetness, closely followed by the hop flavours, and there's a nice firm but not overpowering bitterness from the hops, which appears to be accentuated somewhat by the pale chocolate malt. There's a nice lingering dryness as well that keeps you coming back for more and more sips. We've upped the carbonation just a touch higher than normal to help ensure the sweetness is kept in check, which it is. There's some interesting flavours coming from the malt - a bit of caramel as you'd expect but this is no caramel bomb. The shepherds delight malt has certainly imparted some interesting flavours likened to licorice and even cola. We're glad we kept the shepherds delight somewhat restrained though as this could very easily take over. The balance in this recipe for us is absolutely spot on.


We're very proud of our American Amber Ale. The hop varieties could be tweaked to adjust the flavour profile if desired to use more new-world hop varieties to impart more citrus and fruit like character, but for us we wanted that classic American piney flavour and it's exactly what we got.

If we were making this beer again we don't think we'd change much if anything at all. Perhaps a little more centennial in the whirlpool. We also ended up using BRY-97 yeast as we weren't able to get US-05, but although BRY-97 has gone an admirable job this time, we'd like to try it again with US-05.

Monday, 15 May 2023

Top 10 Tips to make high quality homebrew

The process for brewing beer is a combination of many steps - and brewing high quality craft beer akin to what you can buy from commercial craft breweries is the culmination of doing many of these many steps right. For us this was always the goal when we started brewing our own beer - to make something that to us tasted just as good as what we could buy from a craft brewery.

Here are the top 10 things we've found that have drastically improved the quality of our homebrews (in no particular order);

1. Adjusting your water chemistry

Perhaps the most daunting, but arguably the most important thing you can do is start looking at your water profile. Adjusting things like chloride, sulfate, calcium and bicarbonate levels are critical to get the correct flavour profile and mouth feel for your beer. Use a campden tablet to remove chlorine as well. Leverage the power of brewing software to do the hard work and calculations for you and check out our Feature Article on Spike Brewing that covers water chemistry in great detail. It's worth investing the time into researching and learning more about your water chemistry to greatly improve the end result in your beers.

2. Adjusting your water pH

This could arguably be included in point 1 for water chemistry but we felt it needed it's own dedicated spot. We initially started with only adjusting water chemistry and neglected pH levels, which saw us extracting way too many tannins from our grains which lead to enhanced grainy flavours and astringency in the final beer. Get yourself a pH meter and adjust your mash and sparge water using food-grade phosphoric acid so both are in the ideal range of 5.2 - 5.6. As mentioned above, leverage the power of brewing software like Brewfather to help with the calculations - even the free version has the water calculator feature!

3. Go All-Grain

In our opinion you're never going to get a beer that fully replicates the quality and flavour profile of a commercial craft beer by using malt extracts. All commercial beer is made using the all grain method and there's a reason for this - it's just better. If you can get your hands on a fresh wort kit then try fermenting one of these to see the difference for yourself.

4. Fermentation Temperature Control

This one is pretty well known by now and well documented. You must be controlling the temperature of your wort during active fermentation to prevent any off flavours from developing and to get the best flavour profile possible. Yes, you can use yeast strains that are more heat tolerant such as Kveik, or leverage pressure fermenting to ferment warmer, but there are some draw backs and limitations to these such as the styles of beer you can make with them, since fermenting under pressure suppresses ester formation which from some yeasts can be desirable.

5. Recipe Design & Development

Quality craft beer is all about balance, so it's a good idea to leverage some tried and true recipes to avoid any issues with imbalances - going overboard with hops, or with specialty malts can lead to overpowering flavours that mean your beer won't quite taste right. There's loads of free recipes available online, or otherwise look for homebrewing recipe books to get started. Be careful when tweaking other peoples recipes too as even seemingly small adjustments could have a big impact on the finished product.

6. Get Kegging

Most of us start out bottling our beers and using bottle conditioning for carbonating in the bottle. The issue with bottling is that you're more than likely exposing your beer to oxygen during the bottling process which will lead to rapid staling of the beer not long after bottle conditioning is finished. It will taste great for a couple of weeks then start to deteriorate. Kegging allows you to package your beer oxygen free, so it will last months in the keg, plus you can have some cool beer tap(s) setup. Yes, you'll need some additional equipment to get going like a dedicated fridge but it's a worthwhile investment if you plan on sticking with brewing, particularly if you like hoppy styles like IPA which are more prone to the effects of oxidation.

If you're intent on continuing to bottle, it's worth seriously considering a small carbon dioxide gas tank and a counter pressure bottle filler so you can do it completely oxygen free. You'll also need a pressure capable fermenter like the Apollo which is a high quality and affordable pressure capable fermenter.

7. Cleaning & Sanitation

Another well documented thing to check off, but well worth a mention. Poor sanitation or unclean equipment will undoubtedly impart undesirable flavours into your beer, or lead to an infection. Make sure all your equipment is clean before use, particularly on the cold side after the boil. Remove any visible contaminants using PBW, rinse, then sanitise with phosphoric acid based sanitiser like Star San. Make sure you dilute your sanitising solution correctly (read the directions on the packaging), give your equipment a quick spray before use and you're good to go. Also check out our article on the difference between cleaning and sanitising.

8. Yeast Matters

Ensure you're using a yeast strain suitable for the style of beer you're making (which ties closely into Point 5 Recipe Design & Development). Also make sure you're pitching an appropriate amount of yeast for the strain you are using - you can easily check this as it's often written on the packet/sachet or otherwise check the yeast manufacturers website. Pitching an insufficient amount of yeast can increase yeast stress and lead to off flavours developing.

Dry yeast is absolutely fine to use - you can definitely make commercial quality craft beer using dry yeast. It's fine to just sprinkle it onto the wort, or rehydrate it if you want. Using dry yeast will usually negate the need for oxygenating wort and creating yeast starters - it's just quicker and easier in our opinion.

Liquid yeast is also fine to use but you will need to make sure your wort has been oxygenated as the proteins and nutrients required for cell reproduction aren't readily available in the packet like they are with dry yeast.

9. Allow Conditioning Time

A number of off flavours are developed and present during active fermentation, and are typically "cleaned up" by the yeast after primary fermentation has finished. For this reason it's important to leave the beer on the yeast cake for at least a couple of days after final gravity has been reached to allow this process to happen. Raising the temperature a couple of degrees, known as a diacetyl rest can help with this process. Bottom line, don't try and rush things - we've found a typical schedule of 12-14 days from pitching yeast to packaging is sufficient for most styles. Even after you've transferred from your fermenter to keg or bottles, you'll more than likely need another week or two before the beer has mellowed out and reached it's prime.

10. Practice & Documentation

Like most hobby's, newcomers aren't necessarily great at them straight away and homebrewing is no different. Learning from your mistakes is a key part of the journey - we've certainly made our fair share of mistakes and errors since we started. There's a wealth of information available on sites like this, YouTube, Facebook groups, books, magazines etc. Seek the advice of others and research.

We also find it incredibly beneficial to have documented all of the beers we've made - keep your recipes in brewing software like Brewfather, or even a notebook. We're always revisiting past recipes to check what we've done before to remember what worked well, and what didn't, and having good notes and records makes this process much easier.

Friday, 21 April 2023

American Amber Ale - BrewZilla Brew Day

We put together our Amber Ale Recipe Creation Guide and Amber Ale Recipe quite some time ago, and with the weather starting to cool down here with Autumn finally settling in, we decided it was time to bring this one to life.

A couple of substitutions to our recipe needed to be made - firstly, the base malt needed to be changed from Maris Otter to American Ale malt as our local home brew shop didn't have sufficient supply. The same for yeast - we had initially planned to use US-05 for this one but ended up going for BRY-97 as that was all we could get. In any case, the result should still be good!

Here's our ingredients all laid out - though we've opted to skip Nottingham this time around and go with BRY-97.

Our pale chocolate malt wasn't milled yet either, but since we need such a small amount we decided to DIY it with a zip-lock bag and a rolling pin. Because why not?

We setup our BrewZilla 3.1.1 and Digiboil to pre-heat their water for mashing and sparging duties.

Whilst waiting for our water to heat up, we weighed out and added our water salt/mineral additions with the 3 usual suspects (calcium sulfate, magnesium sulfate and calcium chloride), along with a campden tablet for removal of chlorine from the water.

We added some phosphoric acid to our sparge and mash water to get the pH down to within the 5.2 - 5.6 range as well.

After our BrewZilla reached strike temperature we added the grain - it's definitely easier and preferable to make this a 2 person job so one can add the grain and the other can stir it in - this definitely seems to help reduce clumping and dough balls from forming.

After leaving the grain bed to settle for 10 minutes, we took a pH meter reading to find we were spot on with where we wanted our pH to be - around 5.3. Pretty amazing how accurate brewing software like Brewfather can be with predicting this.

We then began recirculating the wort via the built in BrewZilla pump. A lack of wheat in this grain bill meant recirculation was fairly good and didn't require much extra effort or attention.

We mashed this one a little higher than normal at 67°C to help promote a fuller body and have less fermentable sugars in the wort.

After an uneventful 60 minute mash, we pulled the grain basket and began sparging. 

The flow of sparge water back through the grain bed was pretty good so we reached our bre-boil volume of 26.5L reasonably quickly.

We set our BrewZilla to "HH" for boil and took a pre-boil gravity reading using our digital refractometer whilst we waited. 1.051 had us 2 points higher than our expected reading of 1.049.

Next we weighed out our bittering hop addition - 12g of Columbus (CTZ) hops.

Once we reached a boil they were unceremoniously added into the BrewZilla - plenty of foam and hot break forming!

We started our timer for our 30 minute boil and then proceeded to weigh out our other hop additions to be added with 10 minutes left, along with some yeast nutrient and whirlfloc.

The 10 minute additions were then added after 20 minutes had elapsed in the boil.

A late inclusion was to add some centennial hops to the flame out/whirlpool addition to help add some additional flavours. American "C" hops are known to work, so centennial, chinook and columbus seems like a pretty safe bet.

At the end of the boil we chilled the wort down to 85°C and added our flame out hops and let it recirculate using the recirculation arm for 10 minutes before we continued chilling down to yeast pitching temperature.

We then transferred to our Apollo Snub Nose Fermenter.

This is only our second brew using whirlfloc tablets, but the difference they make is significant. These 2 photos were taken about 10 minutes apart, with the first being right after the conclusion of our wort transfer from BrewZilla to fermenter.

You can see how much has settled to the bottom of the fermenter in such a brief period of time, and the snub nose design means it settles into a nice little cone, meaning more of the wort (and beer) can later be harvested from the top after fementation.

Next, we took a gravity reading which gave us a starting gravity of 1.053.

This was confirmed with our floating hydrometer which gave a reading more or less the same - perhaps more like 1.054.

We then pitched a single packet of BRY-97 yeast and left it to do its thing.

Fermentation went relatively smoothly and we had a FG of around 1.014. There was a pretty decent krausen that stuck to our Hydrom and skewed the readings so the true FG was never reached/shown according to the Hydrom.

This FG was a little higher than we anticipated, but in a style like that which allows for a fair amount of residual sweetness we don't anticipate it to be a big issue. Also means the ABV is a bit lower than planned, coming in at 5.1%.

Check out our post with the Review and Tasting Results for our American Amber Ale.

Friday, 14 April 2023

Cream Ale - Tasting Results & Review

Our Cream Ale/International Lager in the Craftd Freddy glass

Straight off the bat, in terms of overall quality, balance and flavour profile, this is probably the best beer we've made to date. Constant tweaks to water chemistry, in particular making sure our mash and sparge pH levels are within the 5.2 - 5.6 range has made all the difference in eliminating all off flavours our palate is capable of detecting. We also made a conscious decision to really strip things back to a really simple and straightforward recipe, without loads of hop flavour like we've been doing in many previous brews.

In terms of being a "cream ale" - it arguably is, however we've found it more closely resembles an international pale lager. With the use of lager yeast (W34/70), it technically is a lager, but also the classic noble hop of hallertauer mittelfru, some corn based adjunct (maize) and a bit of simple sugar (dextrose). To our taste it came out very much like a Heineken. A true cream ale would perhaps be better suited with some new world hops and a clean fermenting ale yeast like US-05 - which is what we'll try next time. If you look at the BJCP guidelines for the two styles (international pale lager and cream ale), you'll notice there's quite a bit of overlap between them anyway.

We're super happy with how this one turned out even if it wasn't exactly how we had planned, but sometimes accidents and missing the mark aren't an entirely bad thing!

Let's dig a bit deeper into how it turned out;


Super pale in colour and by far the clearest beer we've ever brewed, it's certainly appetising to look at. The whirlfloc tablet worked wonders and this is something we'll be including in all future brews with the exception of course of hazy styles. It needed a good few weeks to drop fully clear in the keg, but we’re pleased with where it’s at without needing any additional cold side finings. A nice clean white foamy head (perhaps a little too large on initial pours from a warm kegerator tap) is apparent and has some good staying power.


There is not a huge amount of aroma as you'd expect from a beer like this - since the grain bill is fairly neutral and there isn't a great deal of hops at play. It's all in balance as it should be, but you do get a slight hint of the lager yeast on the nose up front.


This one is very easy drinking and to our taste has no noticeable off flavours. It was fermented warm (around 20C) and under pressure (around 10psi) which certainly worked to suppress any esters and off flavours from developing. We were particularly worried about the warm fermentation termperature imparting some off flavours, but the W34/70 yeast certainly wasn't phased by this, and more than likely having the fermentation happen under pressure helped too.

The yeast profile is very neutral and provides the perfect backdrop for the hallertauer mittelfruh hops to do their thing. As we previously mentioned, there isn't a huge amount of hop flavour, but there is as much as there needs to be to keep the malt and hop flavours in balance. In our opinion the balance is spot on so we'll be keeping this hop schedule as a basis for future recipes.

The malt provides a nice clean, cracker-like platform for the hops - and the overall flavour is very much reminiscent of European lagers.

Conclusion & Changes for Next Time

We plan on entering this beer into an upcoming competition to see how it ranks as an international lager - no one needs to know we actually brewed it to be a cream ale, right? But as we mentioned, the styles have quite a bit of overlap so we're hoping it will do well.

As for changes for next time, the only things we'd change is using a new-world variety of hop, and would also try using a clean fermenting ale yeast like US-05. The base recipe and hop schedule would remain the same.

We were very impressed with the W34/70 yeast and will definitely be using it again. We got a very crisp, clean result and it was turned around just as quickly as a typical ale fermentation - faster actually. The 2 packets of W34/70 finished fermenting in under 2 days! 

Related Articles

Cream Ale - BrewZilla Brew Day

Cream Ale - Recipe (All Grain)

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Water Chemistry & pH Balance in Brewing - Spike Brewing Feature

We're super stoked to have recently featured as a guest writer for Spike Brewing's Ask A Pro blog. The Ask A Pro articles are written by brewers, for brewers with the aim of breaking down knowledge barriers and helping to empower brewers to make better beers by giving them useful guides and insights into the plethora of different aspects of brewing.

Our article is a deep dive into the world of water chemistry - something we've covered in other articles on this site, but arguably in not such rich detail. We had a blast researching and writing this article for Spike, you can check it out by following the link below;

It's a Wonderful Waterworld: Your Go-To-Guide for Water Chemistry and pH Balance in Brewing

Sunday, 12 March 2023

Spike Flow Brew Pump - Hands on Review

Spike Flow Brewery Pump - side shot

At various points of the brewing process there is a requirement to move liquid from one vessel to another. Whether you're brewing with a single vessel all-in-one unit, or have a fully fledged three vessel system in your brew space - you'll inevitably need to move your water, wort or cleaning solution at some point. Sure, you can use gravity but this of course requires lifting large volumes of water so that they're high enough in relation to other vessels to allow gravity to do it's thing, so undoubtedly the most efficient way to do this is to use a motorized pump to do the hard work and heavy lifting for you.

Not all pumps are created equal, however - with base model units having limited flow rate, non-standard fittings and connections, increased risk of clogging, limited serviceability options and are simply more likely to just break down and leave you high and dry (literally and figuratively).

Spike Brewing have previously incorporated the March branded pump in their brewing systems, but for several reasons decided it was time to engineer and manufacture their own in order to address a number of shortcomings with the March and other similar brew pumps available on the market.

The end result is the Spike Flow Brew, and with thanks to Cheeky Peak Brewery, we're one of the first to get our hands on one for a hands-on, in depth review so let's jump in.


The Flow comes packaged in a bright white box emblazoned with the red Spike logo. As we've come to expect with Spike products, there's plenty of padding to ensure no damage can occur to the pump during transit as well as protective covers over the inlet and outlet to prevent any dust or other material making its way in there.

Spike Flow packaging

First Impressions Last

Taking the Flow out of it's box - and it just looks cool. The black anodized casing for the motor is the perfect back drop for the red Spike logo and chrome clamps to really pop out against. It comes fully assembled and ready to go - though you will need some additional attachments that aren't included to get it hooked into your brewing system. After lifting the Flow out of it's box for the first time we're impressed by the weight - there's no doubt this thing is built to last - Spike do claim after all that your liver will fail before their equipment does.

Accounting for this weight, at least in part, is the solid steel base with mounting holes/pattern consistent with other pumps on the market. This allows the Flow to be fixed to just about anything you can put a screw or bolt into, giving you flexibility and options with how you implement it in your brewery. It's sturdy enough on the ground, but mounting it to a piece of timber might be a good idea to help prevent it being accidentally knocked or kicked over - because you wouldn't want to damage that pretty paint job, right?

Spike Flow Model Options

There are two different models available for the Flow, with the only difference between them being the type of connections used for the inlet and outlet. Ours features a 1.5" tri clamp connection at the inlet and outlet points, with the alternative model featuring NPT threads in place of the tri clamps. It's certainly a personal decision as to which option will work best for you, and may depend on what hose connection types you already have but it's nice that two standardized fitting options have been used so no specialist or proprietary adapters are needed to get things going. 

Depending on what model you go for will determine what extra parts you need - for the tri clamp version you'll need two 1.5" tri clamps, gaskets and suitable 1.5" fittings with some sort of barb or quick disconnect mechanism for attaching a hose to (one for the inlet and one for the outlet). We fitted some 1.5" tri clamp to quick disconnect attachments to make attaching and detaching hoses super quick and easy - just how you like things to be on brew day.

For the NPT version of the Flow, you will need two female NPT fittings with a barb or quick disconnect attachment that you can connect your hoses to (one for the inlet and one for the outlet).

Spike Flow with tri-clamp connection

Spike Flow with NPT thread connection

Here's a markup highlighting all the key parts of the Flow. This is of course for the tri clamp version, the NPT version will be the same with the exception of the inlet and outlet connection types;

Spike Flow Pump with TC connections

Air Relief Valve (ARV)

The image above is fairly self explanatory, but it's worth pointing out the incorporated Air Relief Valve (ARV). This feature makes the process of priming the pump as simple as possible. The knurled ARV adjustment knob you can see protruding from the side is what is used to open or close the valve which when opened lets any air pockets (and some fluid) out through the 1/2" barbed ARV drain port, located on the front face. This is a neat inclusion and what's also great is that this valve is on the inlet side of the pump, so there is no pressure applied to this port which allows it to be opened whilst the pump is running without fear of whatever you're pumping being sprayed everywhere. Place a small container or  hose under the port if you wish to capture and reuse whatever is drained out as part of the bleed process, then add it back into your source vessel if you wish to minimize wastage. 

Some brewing pumps don't feature any sort of bleed or priming valve mechanism at all, and other pumps like the Blichmann Riptide have it on the high pressure side of the pump and facing upwards, meaning purging can result in hot sticky wort (or whatever it is you're pumping) spraying everywhere, including your pump housing. Having this built in with such a simple to use and non-pressurised valve is a great inclusion on the Flow, and means opening it gives a nice manageable stream that can be easily and safely contained.

Spike Flow ARV

How does the Flow, flow?

Spike boasts a best-in-class flow rate of 9 gallons (34 litres) per minute (with the pump running fully opened), and a maximum pressure of 9.5 PSI (with the pump fully closed). Pretty impressive numbers and Spike are claiming 25% more flow than other comparable pumps on the market, but why is this important?

Flow rate is key when it comes to pump specifications, and higher is generally better. This means you can move more fluid through the pump more quickly. This is beneficial for almost every use case in a brewery - like faster movement of wort when transferring between vessels, a more effective trub cone when whirlpooling, faster wort cooling after boiling to help promote cold break, or more cutting power when cleaning your gear using a clean in place (CIP) spray ball. You can throttle back the flow if you need to by implementing a ball valve on the outlet side of the pump which allows you to dial it back for other use cases where flow rate doesn't need to be so high - like recirculating wort when mashing to match your recirculation rate to the flow through the grain bed.

The omission of a flow control mechanism was a deliberate design decision by the Spike engineering team as an integrated valve like what is featured on other pumps will ultimately limit and restrict the maximum potential flow rate of the pump. Plenty of man hours were invested in making the Flow work the way it does, with over a year spent on the pump head design and geometry alone. With this level of planning, design and engineering, it's no wonder they were able to achieve the numbers and specs they did.

The forward facing inlet and vertical facing outlet are oriented for maximum flow and efficiency - as opposed to other pumps which feature an "east-west" style flow path for inlet and outlet that inevitably lead to sharp bends that impede and hinder flow rate and efficiency.

Breaking It Down

The large 3" tri clamp that joins the motor housing to the cast-steel pump head is another great inclusion and means taking the Flow apart for whatever reason is quick and much easier than other pumps that feature multiple screws to hold the pump head in place. Undoing the 3" clamp and removing the pump head exposes the clever 6-impeller system used by the Flow. 

Spike Flow with pump head removed

No doubt one of the greatest inconveniences during a brew day is a clogged pump - an annoying and all too common occurrence when dealing with pumping fluids containing relatively large amounts of solids and particulate - like grain, hop debris and other proteins commonly found on the hot and cold side of brew days. Spike have tried to alleviate this problem by including chopping tines in the Flow's impeller system to cut up and break down any large enough particles to all but eliminate the chance of a clog occurring. It's a great idea that would no doubt be well received by any brewer who has suffered through the frustration of a clogged pump half way through a brew day. It will work well with things like T90 hop pellets, but isn't going to be capable of chopping up whole hop cones, so best proceed with caution if using these to ensure they remain contained in your brewing vessel and don't make their way into the pump.

Still shot from an animation of the chopping tines in action (from Spike website)
Spile Flow pump with housing removed 

Removing this 3" tri clamp is all that is needed to clean out the pump, making it really fast and simple to maintain without fear of being unable to put everything back together again, or losing small parts required for reassembly. Some basic cleaning is all that's required to keep your Flow in good working order with no other regular maintenance being needed.

In saying that though, long-term serviceability was obviously a factor when designing the Flow, with the thrust washer and impeller shaft being integrated into a single stainless steel piece. This was another design consideration and point of difference between the Flow and other pumps which have the shaft fixed or integrated into the pump head with a removal thrust washer that can be very easily lost during disassembly. What this means is that after thousands of hours of running time, if the shaft becomes overly worn and needs to be replaced it can be done cheaply and easily without needing to replace the entire pump head like you would have to with a pump head with a fixed shaft attached.

The red on/off switch is located on the side underneath the motor, and features a plastic cover to prevent any fluids from getting in and damaging the circuitry inside. The power cord is permanently affixed, but is 6 feet (~1.82m) in length giving plenty of reach as well.

The motor casing itself is almost completely sealed off too, making it splash resistant with the only ventilation holes being on the rear of the housing. Other brewing pumps we've seen feature ventilation holes all over the motor casing to help keep the motor cool, but also allow water or wort to get inside the housing which is definitely not ideal - we all know that electronics and water don't mix well. It's great that Spike were able to engineer the Flow for continuous use without fear of the motor overheating, and without needing loads of ventilation holes in the casing to do so.

Spike Flow pump side angle with on/off switch

The Flow Test

We've broken down all the key parts and features of the Flow, but how does it actually perform? We setup a simple recirculation system to our Cheeky Peak Nano-X Fermenter to give it a test run to see for ourselves.

Spike Flow pump assembled for testing

Here's our Flow fully assembled for testing and as you can see in the image above, we've got our 1.5" to quick disconnect on the inlet of the pump. We then put a ball valve sight glass on the outlet of the pump with another 1.5" to quick disconnect on top of the sight glass for our outlet hose connection. 

A ball valve on the outlet side is the best way to control the flow rate, and a sight glass is a nice addition in order to be able to see what's going on (and coming out) of the pump. Keep in mind though that this ball valve doesn't have to be attached to the Flow itself, you could mount it on the inlet port of your kettle for example to make it easier to access and monitor to make fine adjustments - all that matters is that the flow is controlled somewhere on the outlet side of the Flow and not on the inlet side.

We then hooked up the inlet side of the Flow to the bottom of our fermenter, and put the 13.5mm (ID) outlet hose from the pump back into the top

Spike Flow pump test rig with Cheeky Peak Nano-X Fermenter

A very simple setup, but you get the idea and it's certainly enough to give us an understanding of how the Flow performs. After hooking this up we bled the air bubbles in the inlet hose out via the ARV, then powered on the Flow with a 'click' of the on/off switch - and we were surprised at what happened next.

Spike boast about the motor being "ultra-quiet" and they certainly weren't kidding. The Flow seemed to be moving the water through these hoses with much more force and pressure than you'd expect from the gentle hum coming from the motor. Check out the video below to see for yourself.

We left this setup running for a period of time and unsurprisingly the Flow didn't miss a beat. It's certainly got more than enough working pressure to run a spray ball attachment so this is something we're going to look at investing in soon - but there's no doubt that whatever fluid pumping job you need to do in your brewery, the Flow is up to the task.

The Verdict - Go With the Flow

The Flow has certainly established itself as a premium product, and with that comes a price tag to suit, putting it typically within a few bucks of what we'd consider it's closest competitor - the Blichmann Riptide. It's apparent that plenty of thought has gone into the engineering of the Flow, since it addresses almost all the shortcomings of other pumps on the market - with the only real drawback being the lack of included mechanism to control the output flow. We're OK with this though - including such a mechanism would have ultimately reduced the performance of the Flow, and if you do need to control the output, ball valves are cheap and readily available and most brewers probably already have one in their equipment inventory anyway.

The included ARV is a feature highlight, with a non-pressurised and simple to use drain port for bleeding air out of the inlet line for easy, mess free and safe pump priming. 

The Flow looks great, goes like hell and with standardized fitting options, mounting holes and exceptional build quality would without a doubt make a great addition to any brewing system.

The Technical Stuff

Here are the technical specs, taken directly from the Spike website;

• Best-in-class 9 gallons (34 litres) per minute flow rate
• Best-in-class 9.5 PSI of pressure
• Air Relief Valve (ARV) makes priming easy and convenient
• Built in 1/2" drain barb
• 6-vane impeller design optimized for performance and durability
• 304 stainless steel precision machined casting with maximized inlet and outlet ports
• Integrated chopping tines to prevent clogging
• Black anodized motor shell and shot-blasted housing
• 3" Tri-Clamp housing connection for easy disassembly, cleaning and reassembly
• Ultra-quiet, fan enclosed motor: 120v, 60 Hz
• 6 foot power cord
• 9" length x 5" width x 7" height
• Continuous use rated

Where to Buy

If you're located in Australia (like we are), the only place to get your Spike Flow Brew Pump is from Cheeky Peak Brewery with a current price of AU$385.

Outside of Australia you can get the Spike Flow directly from the Spike Website (US$229 for the NPT model or US$249 for the tri clamp version) or from other good brewing equipment retailers.