Tag Archives: Open Source

Open Source Beer: Take 3 – The Return

Okay, this has taken on a life of it’s own, and I think I’ll see it to its conclusion.

We’re still talking about Open Source Beer . After getting a post from a brewer which claimed that the recipe uses a lot of sugar. So much so, that any beverage that comes from it may not, in fact be beer. It may be alcoholic, but certainly not beer. I came to the conclusion that the Open Source Beer recipe was simply a marketing ploy.

Then Thorarinn Stefansson posted the following:

Being one of the students who published the recipe (and actually the one who wrote the english texts of the site) I’d like to point out that the “iffy beer recipe” whas produced in collaboration with a food scientist with over 20 years of experience in home brewing and who has published a book on the subject :)

The question wheiter or not a beer with added sugar for fermentation is a “real beer” is almost a religious issue to some, but it should be mentioned that the added sugar is only about 1/4 of the fermentable sugars.

Since I’ve also tasted the beer I can confirm that it in no way tastes like american style beers” (don’t forget that the guarana beans add a lot to the bitterness of the hops). It’s a real European with flavour and great color.

I’d also like to point out that on purpose the recipe is kept short, as the aim of the site isn’t to teach home brewing. But then I can’t see how the part of the recipe that says “[the wort] is then filtered and cooled in a sealed container” – is
“only inviting bacterial infection”.

Of course you have to use common sense when cooling, but I can’t see how, for instance in our brewing, cooling the wort in a sterilized sealed metal container in a cold storage room for 24 hours invites bacteria infection?

And Owen, please read the recipe again – the wort is boiled for 1.5 hours.

I don’t want to sound to negative (after all, beer is ment to be fun) – but I wanted
to explain a bit of our side.

Marketing ploy? Well, remember that this is a school project. The basic idea was to see how far the “open source” concept could be applied to something as old-fashioned as beer recipe. But I can confirm that the idea has gotten a lot of attention and publicity – although we of course have nothing to gain financially from it all.

(But we do hope to get a decent grade for the project :)


Well, I’m willing to take his word for it that it’s not a marketing ploy. But I’m not willing to say conclusively that the recipe will end up in a “beer” or not. The only evidence I will be willing to accept is the end result of the recipe. What that means is…Someone needs to make the brew.

Any takers? More importantly, anyone willing to send me a sample once the brew is complete?

Open source Beer: Take 2

After posting the article about Open Source Beer, Jennifer of Brewerburns left a comment that said:

I would be leery of any beer recipe that calls for 4 kg of sugar to be added.

Now I admit to a tremendous lack of knowledge when it comes to brewing beer. In an e-mail, I asked Jennifer to elaborate. This is her response:

well, my husband and I brew beer regularly. The adding of actual cane sugar to the wort (that’s what the beer is called before it’s fermented) is never a part of the process. The idea is that you are supposed to get all or almost all of your fermentable sugars from the mash: that’s the part of the process where you steep the grains in hot water; or from using malt extract, which you can buy at your local homebrew store. Any recipe that calls for adding cane sugar in the actual brewing process is therefore suspect. The only time that you use sugar, other than malt extract, when you brew is to prime the beer immediately prior to bottling to stimulate the yeast so that it will properly bottle carbonate. And then you only use 3/4 of a cup of corn sugar for 5 gallons of beer. If your primary source of fermentable sugars is cane sugar then you’re not really making beer. You’re making
something that will probably ferment and produce alcohol but it’s not beer. The primary characteristic of beer is, after all, a beverage produced by mashing grains to get fermentable sugars to make alcohol.

Another thing. I am not an all grain brewer. In other words, we buy malt extract instead of mashing grains to create enough fermentable sugars to brew a batch of beer with. That being said, the recipe that you posted only calls for a “one step” mash and then only calls for the grains to be heated to 55-60 C and held at that temperature for 1 to 2 hours. I suspect that the reason the recipe calls for a large amount of sugar in the wort is that this mash doesn’t produce enough fermentable sugars to make beer. Most all grain recipes recommend using at least a two step, or even a three step mash. I have seen some recipes that use a one step mash though. I also suspect that 55-60 C isn’t hot enough to really extract the fermentable sugars from the grains.

Additionally, if you were to transfer the wort (the liquid concoction you’ve
got on the stove) to a container and simply let it cool there before pitching the yeast (which could take up to eight hours if you actually put it in a sealed container) you are only inviting bacterial infection. In order to make good homebrew you need to cool the wort quickly after it’s done “worting” on the stove . That is why they make wort chillers: basically a copper coil with fittings on both ends. You attach a hose to one fitting and the other end of the hose to your sink faucet and run cold water through the coils while they are submerged in the wort. This cools the wort in about 10-15 minutes, thereby minimizing the amount of time the wort has to catch a bacterial infection. Then you transfer the wort to a glass carboy,
preferably, although you can use a plastic bucket with a well fitting lid (this is a bad idea but some people do brew this way) and you pitch the yeast. There are other things to do after that but I think this adequately covers why that beer recipe is simply an invitation to disaster. So, if you really would like some good beer recipes I might recommend either: buying the Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian or: you can go to forum.northernbrewer.com. It’s a homebrewer’s forum and there are lots of free recipes posted by people on the forum. Not all of the recipes are good but a lot of them are. Other places on the internet with free homebrew recipes are: the Wyeast home page and the White Labs Yeast home page. Since there are so many places on the web where you can get free homebrew recipes why use one that probably will only produce a beer tasting like syrup or
possibly infected with bacteria anyway?

So it seems that the open source angle is simply… *gasp*… a marketing ploy to further an iffy beer recipe.

Open Source Beer

Looking to start your own brewery? Wanting an interesting recipe? You might want to give the folks at Vores Ol a buzz. They’re offering their recipe to anyone who wants it…for free.

It’s open source and under Creative Commons license. If you wish to use it, you have to use their recipe to brew the beer or to create a derivative of their recipe. You are free to earn money from the Beer, but you have to publish the recipe under the same license (e.g. on your website or on our forum) and credit their work. You can use all thier design and branding elements, and are free to change them at will provided you publish your changes under the same license (“Attribution & Share Alike”).

Their FAQ for this is located here.

Their recipe?

Recipe for approx. 85 ltr. Vores Øl (Our Beer) (approx. 6% alchohol by volume).
Malt extract

For Vores Øl use four types malted barley:

  • 6 kg pilsner malt
  • 4 kg münsner malt
  • 1 kg caramel malt
  • 1 kg lager malt

The malt is crushed and put in 55-60°C hot water for 1-2 hours.

The mixture is filtered and the liquid now contains about 10 kg malt extract.
Taste and sugar

Besides malt use:

  • 60 g Tetnang bitter hops
  • 50 g Hallertaver aroma hops
  • 300 g Guarana beans
  • 4 kg sugar

(Guarana beans can typically be bought at health food stores).

The malt extact is brought to a boil in a large pot with the hops and approx. 70 ltr. of water.

After half an hour, the Guarana beans and sugar is added.

The mixture simmers for about an hour, and is then filtered and cooled in a sealed container.


Yeast is added and the beer is fermented at room temperature for approx. 2 weeks.

When the beer is fully fermented it is transferred to bottles. First 4 g sugar is added per liter and some yeast from the bottom of the fermentation tanks for priming.

Vores Øl is then left in the bottles at room temperature for 8-10 days for carbonation. Then the beer is ready to enjoy; cold and refreshing.

This recipe is under a Creative Commons license. This is the one you need to use if you use the above recipe.