Friday 30 June 2023

Hard Seltzer - Recipe & Brew Day Guide

Following on from our recently published All About Brewing Hard Seltzer at Home article, here is our hard seltzer recipe and step by step guide for making it.

If you haven't already, we'd strongly recommend giving the previously mentioned article a read, as we cover a number of important aspects to consider when making your own seltzer.


Batch Volume: 20L 
Boil Time: 10 minutes
Original Gravity: 1.040
Final Gravity: 1.000
Expected ABV: 5.25%


20L - Distilled or Reverse Osmosis water
2.2kg - Dextrose
3g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
3g Calcium Chloride
1 Packet Omega Lutra Kveik dry yeast (OYL-071)
1 Packet Omega Propper Seltzer yeast nutrient
Flavour Extract


  1. Add 20L of water to your water heating vessel.

  2. Heat the water to 80°C.

  3. Whilst waiting for the water to warm up, add the gypsum and stir to dissolve.

  4. Once the water has reached 80°C, turn off the heat and add the dextrose. It's important to turn off the heating source to ensure the sugar doesn't scorch on the bottom which will lead to undesirable burnt flavours.

  5. Stir thoroughly until all the dextrose is completely dissolved.

  6. Once the dextrose is completely dissolved, begin heating again until you reach a gentle boil. Once a boil is reached, continue to gently boil for 10 minutes. If using an immersion chiller, add it into the boiling solution to sanitise it.

  7. After the 10 minute boil is completed, turn off the heat and add the Propper Seltzer nutrient and mix/whirlpool for 10 minutes.

  8. After the 10 minute whirlpool is completed, chill the solution down to under 30°C.

  9. Transfer to fermenter - it's recommended to aerate during this process by shaking or oxygenating the solution.

  10. Pitch the Lutra Kveik yeast.

  11. Leave to ferment at around 30°C.

  12. Once terminal gravity has been reached and is stable for 3 days, cold crash for 48 hours.

  13. Transfer to keg, carbonate and serve.

When it comes to flavouring, you have the option to dose the keg with your chosen flavour extract, or keep the keg unflavoured and add flavour extract to each glass. We're going to go for the latter option so we can experiment with some different flavours and strengths until we decide on a favourite.

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Wednesday 28 June 2023

All About Brewing Hard Seltzer at Home


We love beer (obviously), but we also enjoy a bit of variety and having other beverages available on tap - not just for us, but for others to enjoy as an alternative to beer. A popular option is spirit and soda mixtures like bourbon and cola, or our go to option which is Canadian Club and dry ginger ale. There is another option that's become increasingly popular in the past year or two and that is hard seltzer.

Fortunately, hard seltzer is relatively easy, and importantly very cheap to make, but there are a couple of pitfalls and things to be wary of before diving in so in this post we're going to take a closer look at how to make quality hard seltzer at home.

What is Hard Seltzer?

Hard Seltzer is essentially alcoholic sparkling (carbonated) water that is sweetened with fruit or other syrup extracts to get different flavours. The most popular brand would have to be White Claw, but at over AU$20 for a 4 pack, it's not particularly good value, especially when we look more closely at how cheap it is to make.

So how is it made? Add some sugar (typically corn/cane sugar) to some water, boil it to sanitise, pitch some yeast and other nutrients and let if ferment. The yeast consume the sugar, create alcohol and carbon dioxide, and you're left with alcoholic water - ie. seltzer. Add some flavour extract to the bottle, glass or keg for flavouring, and there you have it.

Addressing Yeast Health

It sounds pretty simple - and it is, but there are a couple of things we need to address as part of the process. Firstly, dextrose doesn't provide all the necessary nutrients required for yeast to do their job properly. When brewing beer, the malted grains used to create wort contain many other nutrients and compounds that yeast require (though we do often add yeast nutrient to our wort as well), but dextrose alone contains none of these, so we need to add some additions to our water to ensure we have healthy yeast and achieve full attenuation from the fermentation. If we don't, we'll be left with sugary sweet, partially alcoholic water which just won't taste right as not all the dextrose will be consumed (fermented) by the yeast.

There's a couple of ways to address yeast nutrition requirements. The easiest way would be to use a purpose made seltzer yeast nutrient pack, like Omega Yeasts Propper Seltzer Nutrient which is a 28g pack made to provide the nutrients required for a standard 5 gallon/19L batch. It's designed to be used with an Omega Yeast kveik strain but you could undoubtedly use it with almost any ale yeast. There's no specifics on what's contained in this pack, but we can likely guess, which brings us to option 2.

Our second option is to add the nutrients to our dextrose water ourselves. What should we add? Depending on where you look or who you ask you may get slightly different answers so we'll look at some popular options.

Martin from The Homebrew Challenge on YouTube only added 4.5g of gypsum and 4g DAP to his seltzer solution and achieved an excellent result.

Clawhammer Supply added 3g of calcium chloride and 3g of gypsum, and then used the previously mentioned Omega Yeasts Propper Seltzer Nutrient. They also appear to have created a nice looking seltzer with these additions.

Alternatively, you could just add general yeast nutrient, though you will likely need to increase the dosage compared to when using it for making beer since it's used to supplement the nutrients in wort - but with seltzer it will essentially be the sole source of nutrients for yeast.

Water Selection

One important characteristic of a hard seltzer is it should be nice and clear and water selection is an important factor in achieving this. For this reason, it's strongly advisable to use reverse osmosis (RO) or distilled water for making your seltzer and not regular town/tap water which contains many other minerals that will more than likely lead to a cloudy appearance in your seltzer, and potentially effect the clean, neutral flavour profile that you're after (prior to adding extract for sweetening).

Yeast Selection

Yeast is another important thing to consider. Any clean/neutral flavoured and high flocculating yeast will work well. Looking at our previous examples, Martin from The Homebrew Challenge used good old US-05, and Clawhammer Supply went with Omega Lutra OYL-071.

Interestingly, CJ from Homebrew 4 Life did a comparison using three different yeast varieties, Omega Lutra OYL-071, Turbo Yeast (distillers yeast), and wine yeast. Flavour wise, all three gave good results but the Omega Lutra was noticeably clearer, with the other two having a very cloudy appearance in the glass. For this reason, Lutra might be the way to go, plus it ferments quite warm so can be turned around very quickly - and since seltzer is typically a summer drink, it would likely be easier to make at this time of year since temperature control is less of an issue with kveik yeasts like this.

What Sugar & How Much?

By far the most popular fermentable sugar to use is dextrose, or corn sugar. It is the most easily dissolved in water as it's essentially powdered, but you can also use table sugar or cane sugar instead, or a mixture of both.

Shoot for an original gravity (OG) of around 1.040. Since dextrose is 100% fermentable by yeast, you can expect the final gravity to be around 1.000 which will give you a final ABV of a little over 5% - pretty much the sweet spot for a hard seltzer.

Brewing software like Brewfather will give you the answer to exactly how much dextrose you'll need to add to achieve this, but you're generally looking at around 2.2kg for a 19-20L batch.


It's important that you're dextrose water solution is boiled (10 minutes is sufficient) to ensure the solution is completely sanitised prior to pitching your yeast.

Getting that Clarity

We previously mentioned that seltzer's should have a nice, clear apperance. This is why we use distilled or RO water and a highly flocculating yeast. There are another couple of things we can also do to help achieve the clarity we're looking for. Firstly, once your seltzer fermentation is complete, we should cold crash the fermenter to help all the yeast drop out of suspension and flocculate to the bottom of the fermenter.

Fining agents like gelatin can also be added, but looking at the previous examples from The Homebrew Challenge, Clawhammer Supply and Homebrew 4 Life, they all achieved good levels of clarity without doing this. Water and yeast selection is far more important here.

It's known that some breweries use charcoal or other filters to help improve the clarity but this isn't a realistic option for most homebrewers.

Tuesday 27 June 2023

Lallemand - Lalbrew NovaLager - Yeast Overview


2022 saw the release of LalBrew NovaLager from Lallemand Brewing - a hybrid lager yeast strain offering the benefits of a classic lager yeast without some of the drawbacks generally associated with using them.

LalBrew NovaLager is considered a bottom fermenting lager yeast strain with characteristics that are ideal for lager beer production. Such characteristics include fast fermentation times, high levels of attenuation and a broad fermentation temperature range.

The genomic composition of NovaLager is a hybrid combination of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (75%) and Saccharomyces Eubayanus (25%), resulting in a genetically unique strain of Saccharomyces Pastorianus with a lager classification of Group III - NovaLager being the first commerical example of this classification.

Flavour Profile

When using Novalager, you can expect a clean flavour profile with some slight esters all across the recommended fermentation temperature range, as you can see from the wheel below - though you will get reduced ester production at the lower end of the recommended fermentation temperature range.

Image Copyright of Lallemand Brewing

The ester character from Novalager is considered to be a little different to what you get from other lager strains, giving it a unique flavour profile with slight hints of red apple and tropical fruit.

Reduced Diacetyl Production

NovaLager is a low diacetyl producer - as demonstrated in the graph below, it generates significantly lower levels of diacetyl compared to Nottingham (ale) and Diamond (lager) yeast varieties. Lower initial levels during fermentation mean there is less to be cleaned up by the yeast after fermentation has completed (ie. the conditioning period), meaning faster turn around times for batches brewed.

Image Copyright of Lallemand Brewing

No Hydrogen Sulfide Production

There is also some neat technology in Novalager that inhibits the production of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a common draw back of classic yeast strains which often produce hydrogen sulfide as part of the fermentation process. The smell of hydrogen sulfide is often likened to rotten eggs, and part of the extended maturation time required for classic lager yeasts is to allow undesirable byproducts of fermentation such as hydrogen sulfide to be cleaned up by the yeast, though with some lager styles, small amounts of hydrogen sulfide are normal and expected as part of the flavour profile.

As you can see in the graph below, hydrogen sulfide is not generated by the yeast at any point during active fermentation - no doubt a welcome change for anyone who has had their garage or fermentation area reeking of rotten eggs during a lager fermentation!

Image Copyright of Lallemand Brewing

Hop Biotransformation Properties

NovaLager is said to promote hop biotransformation and accentuate hop flavour and aroma, making it ideal for beer styles other than a classic lager. Think more hop forward styles like the Cold IPA, India Pale Lager (IPL), or other more heavily hopped lagers. Classic lager yeasts aren't known for their hop biotransformation properties so this is certainly something that will set Novalager apart from other lager yeast strains.

Attenuation Rate & Flocculation

Attenuation rate is quoted at 78 - 84%, and you can expect medium levels of flocculation along with it. If super clear beer is a priority then you may need to look at adding fining agents to help your beer drop clear since the flocculation level is a little lower than typical lager yeasts like the Diamond variety which has a high level of flocculation.

Temperature Range

The recommended temperature range is 10-20°C (50-68°F) giving a reasonably achievable target range for homebrewers that's pushing up into ale yeast territory. Fermenting at the lower end of this range will lead to a longer fermentation time and lower ester production, and conversely, fermenting at the higher end of this range will lead to a shorter fermentation time and increased ester character.

Alcohol Tolerance

Reasonably high levels of ABV can also be achieved with an alcohol tolerance of up to 13% ABV. Another benefit of the ale component of this hybrid strain is this higher alcohol tolerance compared to other traditional lager yeasts.

Pitching Rate

The recommended pitch rate for Novalager is 50-100g/hL meaning a single 11g pack is sufficient for a typical 20-22L batch, and is more in line with an ale yeast pitching rate since typical lager yeast pitching rates are around 100-200 g/hL. For higher gravity worts, pitching at the higher end of this range would be advisable.

The below graph taken from the Lallemand website gives a visual representation of the fermentation time of the NovaLager yeast strain compared to two of their other popular strains - LalBrew Diamond and LalBrew Nottingham. 

Image Copyright of Lallemand Brewing

You can see that NovaLager reaches it's terminal gravity faster than the other two yeast strains, and also has a lower finishing gravity.

Conditioning Time

The conditioning time when using Novalager is significantly shorter than when using traditional lager yeast strains. Conditioning is the period after primary fermentation where the yeast will continue to work away and "clean up" some of the undesirable byproducts of fermentation. Since Novalager produces some of these byproducts in reduced amounts (like Diacetyl), or not at all in the case of hydrogen sulfide, there is less for the yeast to do and the beer is conditioned and ready for consumption sooner. The primary reason for any conditioning time after primary fermentation with Novalager is to help improve the clarity of the finished beer.

Beer Styles

Novalager is suitable for use in a broad range of beer styles - anything that would call for a fairly neutral flavour profile will be a good candidate to use this yeast variety for. We've previously mentioned Cold IPA and IPL, but just about any classic lager will turn out well, especially those with a little more hop character.

Looking at the flip side of this equation - what beer styles aren't suitable for creating with Novalager, and this would simply be any lager style that requires and expects some degree of hydrogen sulfide to be present, since Novalager doesn't produce this at all. It's also not a particularly good alternative to some ale yeasts that produce enhanced ester characters like some english ale yeast varieties for example.

Pressure Fermenting

There isn't a great deal of official information as to whether or not Novalager is a suitable candidate for pressure fermenting. We suspect that the yeast itself would handle pressure fermenting without too any problems, but the question you would need to ask yourself is, why use it under pressure? 

Pressure fermenting will only further suppress the limited ester character you will get from the yeast under normal fermentation conditions, and given the relatively high temperature range you can ferment at, there doesn't appear to be a great deal of benefit to be had from fermenting under pressure. Sure, you could probably do it and get a really clean and neutral flavour profile, even above the recommended maximum of 20°C, but we'd recommend fermenting normally for the first few days (when most of the esters and flavour compounds are produced), and then fit a spunding valve toward the tail end of fermentation to get a head start on force carbonation.

Summary & Final Thoughts

So, what's the big deal with Novalager yeast? It's an exciting development as new yeast varieties like this aren't released very often. Essentially, Novalager has been developed and targeted to homebrewers and commercial brewers alike as an alternative to the typical lager yeasts that have been in use for decades or even centuries. It provides a more robust and temperature tolerant lager yeast that produces reduced diacetyl levels and no hydrogen sulfide at all during fermentation. This means that clean, neutral lagers can be created faster, which is particularly ideal for commercial brewers who no longer have to give up valuable tank space for a beer to lager or condition for weeks on end.

With enhanced biotransformation properties, NovaLager would be more suited to modern, hop forward styles that don't necessarily work well with traditional lager yeast varieties - something that consumers and homebrewers are crying out for more of in recent times.

We're very much looking forward to trying this yeast for ourselves in the very near future and will of course share our results and findings.

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Monday 26 June 2023

Beer Kegging Guide - Spike Brewing Feature Article

We were recently invited by Spike Brewing to submit another article to feature on their website on the hot topic of kegging. Our Beer Keg Guide is an in-depth dive into the world of kegging beer - arguably the best way to package and serve your beer at home. We look at the different types of kegs, what benefits you can expect to reap from kegging compared to bottling, and provide some detailed information on what you'll need to get started with your own kegging setup. Check it out by following the link below;

Spike Brewing Feature - Beer Keg Guide: From Brewery to Tap

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