Profile: The Mad Fermentationist

Michael Tonsmeire

Michael Tonsmeire is an award-winning homebrewer, certified beer judge, beer blogger (TheMadFermentationist.com), and has written articles for various magazines about brewing sour beers. He consults as 'Flavor Developer' for Modern Times Beer (San Diego, CA), for which he develops the recipes, process, and microbes to produce sour beers. Tonsmeire resides in Washington, D.C. where he works as an Economist.

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Big IPA Recipe (1 lb of Hops)

With a couple exceptions I have always been a bit underwhelmed by the quality of my hoppy beers. They are generally solid, but they never taste quite as bright, clean, fresh as the top shelf commercial IPAs (and double IPAs). With hop prices back down close to their "pre-crisis" levels, I though it was time to give another shot at brewing a really hop forward beer.
Originally posted February 12, 2010
The Mad Fermentationist
CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Category: Craft Beer

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Design a Beer Recipe in 10 Steps

Too many homebrewers are overwhelmed by recipe design and as a result stick to kits. While kits can produce solid beers, writing your own recipe means you can tailor the beer to your tastes exactly. Many brewers just don't know where to start, how to select ingredients, and the way everything fits together. This post isn't about ingredients or process (although I'll mention both), each of my recipe posts gives some insight into why I selected particular malts, hops, yeast, and techniques. This is a meta-post about the process I go through each time I write a recipe.
So here are the 10 steps I go through for every batch I brew.

The Mad Fermentationist
CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Category: Craft Beer

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Low Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Brewing Lager

After my friend Trevor talked my ear off about it, I read the German Brewing Forum's collaborative treatise on low dissolved oxygen (Low DO) brewing.

The Mad Fermentationist
(CC BY-SA 3.0 US)

Category: Craft Beer

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BYO Boot Camp: Burlington and Santa Rosa

In less than two months, Michael Tonsmeire will be flying to Burlington, VT for the Brew Your Own Boot Camps on November 4th and 5th.

The Mad Fermentationist
(CC BY-NC-SA US 3.0)

Category: Craft Beer

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'Westvleteren' Blond with Brett

We all suffer from brewer’s block once in awhile. So, I’ve come up with seven tricks for coming up with something to brew.

Category: Craft Beer

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Drinking Beer in Oslo and Drammen, Norway

Beer highlights and other interesting discoveries on a trip to speak in Norway.

Category: Craft Beer

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Dark Saison 7 Etrog: Tasting

The aroma is hard to place. There is some pale-coffee and dubbel-like maltiness, damp hay, and a touch of citrusy perfume.

Category: Craft Beer

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Sour Brown: One Batch Two Barrels

Split batches are wonderful! However, with sour beers you always have to be cautious not to read too far into them as identical worts aged in identical barrels under seemingly identical conditions can diverge as the microbes compete.

Category: Craft Beer

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Brewing Sour Beer at Home

After almost three years of blogging about sour beer (among other things fermentational) I think most of what I have learned about brewing them at home is buried somewhere in the roughly 250 posts on this site. That said there isn't anywhere on the blog where the bulk of my opinions and experiences have been coalesced for easy reference. I did put up a lengthy post about Brettanomyces a year or so ago, but that covered just one aspect of sour beer production.

Category: Craft Beer

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11 Mistakes Every New Homebrewer Makes

I was inspired by coaching one of my coworkers through his first batch of homebrew (an English bitter) to write up a list of the mistakes that many new homebrewers make. Several of these are things I did on early batches, while others I have tasted at homebrew at club meetings. Many of these issues stem from poor kit instructions, bad homebrew shop advice, and common sense that just doesn’t work out.

Category: Craft Beer

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Extract Lambic Recipe

Extract beers get an undeservedly bad rap. Experienced homebrewers who brew with malt extract often sound apologetic: “I work 90 hours a week and have three young kids… what other option do I have?” The truth is that if you use the same process (full-boil, pitch enough healthy yeast, control fermentation temperature etc.) that you would for all-grain, extract can produce some excellent examples of some styles!

Category: Craft Beer

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Softer, Juicier, and Uglier APA

I’ve always put appearance way down the bottom of the brewing-importance hierarchy. If an ingredient or technique benefits flavor/aroma/mouthfeel, but harms clarity or color, then I’m all for it! However, even I have to admit that I may have gone too far with this batch of New-England-style hoppy pale ale.

Category: Craft Beer

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Passion Fruit Sour Wheat Beer

Passion fruit is one of the few fruits that is almost always used as a flavoring rather than consumed straight; passion fruit mousse being the classic example. This is largely because it has a potent flavor and loads of seeds. I was at the supermarket a couple months ago and happened to see fresh passion fruit for $3 each. Many brewers (and chefs) skip the actual fruit and opt for purée, but I bought two with no plan of what I'd make with them.

Category: Craft Beer

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Chocolate Butternut Squash Porter Recipe

Like my annual slice of pumpkin pie, I think I'm going to enjoy pumpkin ales more than I usually do. As far as clean pumpkin ales go, stouts and porters provide the best base.

Category: Craft Beer

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Cranberry Dark Saison Tasting

Hard to believe Alex and I are already talking about our eighth annual dark/funky Saison! The bottle I’m drinking tonight is from batch #6 (recipe), brewed almost two years ago with the help of a few of the Modern Times Kickstarter backers.

Category: Craft Beer

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French Blonde Ale Recipe and Tasting

Every Labor Day for the last 20+ years my wife’s family has thrown a big barbecue in her ancestral homeland of northeastern Ohio. For this year's festivities, Audrey and I decided to brew a batch specifically for the event. The goal was something that would be accessible and appealing to people who like beer: refreshing, moderate alcohol, low bitterness, and clean fermentation.

Category: Craft Beer

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Ambient-Spontaneous Yeast Starters

Fermenting beer with truly wild microbes (that is to say not ones found in a tube, pack, or bottle) has recently started in earnest among American sour beer producers. Russian River, Allagash, Jolly Pumpkin, Midnight Sun, and Jester King have all tried their hands at spontaneous/ambient fermentations. Despite this recent surge in interest, allowing the yeast and bacteria present in the environment to ferment wort is nothing new.

Category: Craft Beer

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How to Homebrew: All Grain Beer

Over the years I've gotten numerous emails asking me to do a post detailing how I brew. This is the answer to those requests. What follows is not the only way, or necessarily the best way, but it is how I brew. The pictures were taken during the brew day for my Citra Pale Ale, a relatively simple, moderate gravity batch.

Category: Craft Beer

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10 Homebrewing Myths Debunked

Homebrewing has a host of hotly debated topics when it comes to how to brew: hot-side aeration, dry yeast rehydration, aluminum pots, the need to rack to secondary etc. I’m not touching those with this post. What I want to highlight is 10 things I’ve heard repeated over-and-over again, that annoy me because they either aren't true or don't match my experience. While the internet deserves credit as a great resource to homebrewers, it has also led to ideas and “facts” being repeated by people who assume they are true "because someone on a message board said so."

Category: Craft Beer

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