Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What comes around, gose round

Not long ago, I was in the car listening to the HairNation channel on SiriusXM.  Having grown up (gone to high school and college) in the '80s, I have a musical preference for hair bands; Van Halen (NOT "Van Hagar"...well, maybe some...), that sort of thing.  Well, Ratt came on, and out of nowhere I got a great idea for the name of a sour beer..."What comes around, gose 'round".

Besides the reference to an iconic hair band, as well as to the sour beer, the name of the beer has a third meaning...after all, it was the very generous guys (well, Jake, specifically...) up at Crooked Run Brewing who provided the input and insight as to how to make a sour beer at the scale at which I'm brewing.

Initial Brew Day: 14 Dec 2016

Partial Mash:
1 lb white wheat malt
4 oz rye malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil #1 (20 min): 14 Dec 2016
1 lb Pilsen DME

Early in the day, I started the heating mat warming, and took the remaining 2 GoodBelly Straight Shots out of the refrigerator.  I followed all of my usual processes (partial mashing, cooling the wort), and once the wort had cooled to approx. 90 deg F, I transferred it to a glass fermentor and added the Straight Shots.  Once this step was complete, I placed a blow-off tube in the top of the fermentor (not really necessary, no krausen forms...I just don't a solid cap for the fermentor) and placed it on the heating mat, wrapped in a towel (to keep light out).

Boil #2 (20 min): 16 Dec 2016
0.75 oz sea salt (0 min)
0.50 oz ground roasted Coriander (0 min)

Yeast: Safale US-05

Addendum, 31 Dec: Bottled this morning (usual method); got 9 full bottles and 1 partial (about 80%) fill.

More Medusa IPA

The Medusa IPA was so good, I wanted to go with another one!  This one uses the same hop schedule, although the malt is a little different in this case, as I was using up what was left over from the Summer IPA.

Brew Day: 14 Dec 2016

Partial Mash:
8 oz Franco-Belge Vienna malt
8 oz Gambrinus Honey malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar
14 g Medusa hops (FWH)

1 oz Medusa hops (10 min hop stand)

Yeast: Safale US-05

Addendum, 26 Dec: Dry hopped today with 14 g Medusa hops.

Addendum, 31 Dec: Bottled today, got 9 full bottles.

Addendum, 14 Jan: First pour; caramel color with an off-white, medium head.  Definite fruitiness in the nose.  Malt balances the hops, rather than overpowering it the way it did with the Summer IPA, but does persist a little bit into the aftertaste.  Head doesn't persist, mild lacing on the glass.  Overall, a very drinkable beer, but I prefer a much lighter malt to let the hops really shine through.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Another Summer IPA

My first summer IPA turned out really well, so well, in fact that I wanted to enjoy another round.  This one went over really well with my daughter, some friends, and my lovely wife, who does NOT have a palate for IPAs.  However, these IPAs are not like commercial West Coast IPAs, with respect to bitterness...these are very fruit-forward IPAs, relying only on the hops for the fruitiness.

Brew Day: 26 Nov 2016

Partial Mash:
8 oz Franco-Belges Vienna malt
8 oz Gambrinus Honey malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar
14 g Summer Hops (FWH)

1 oz Summer Hops (10 min hop stand)

Yeast: US-05

Addendum, 6 Dec: Dry hopped with 14 g Summer hops.

Addendum, 9 Dec: Bottled with 3/4 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Got 10 bottles.

Addendum, 2 Jan: I've had a couple of these beers by now, and I wanted to add some tasting notes.  My goal in using the Gambrinus Honey malt was to add some malty sweetness to the beer, but that didn't quite work out the way I had hoped; the maltiness overwhelmed the flavor of the hops.  Also, the carbonation was a bit low...the head was almost non-existent unless I up-ended the bottle into the glass.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Yet Another Big Belgian

My previous Belgian Beauty was a hit, and still is; we had one last night.  My wife and some of our friends really like it...a lot.  Since we're just about out, no time like the present to make some more...

Brew Day: 19 Nov 2016

Partial Mash:
1 lb Franco-Belge Vienna Malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
8 oz corn sugar
7 g Saaz (AA: 6.5%) hops @ 20 min

Yeast: T-58

Addendum, 6 Dec: Transferred to secondary tonight.  I'll probably let it sit for another week to 10 days before bottling.

Addendum, 17 Dec: Bottled today, with 0.6 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water.  This one will be ready for New Year's Eve.

Addendum, 2 Jan 2017:  My wife tried the beer last night; she really liked it.  She tried the partial fill and said that it tasted different; not that it was more or less carbonated, but it tasted different.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Sour Saison

Not long ago, I had a really good sour saison (with guava and Thai chilies) called "Something for the pain" at Crooked Run Brewing.  I thought that idea of brewing a sour beer and fermenting with a different yeast was intriguing, and I also thought it would be a good time to try hopping with some Summer hops.  Also, I'm not entirely sure of the shelf-life for the GoodBelly Straight Shots, so I want to make sure I use them up.

Brew Day: 11 Nov 2016

*Early in the day, set out (2) GoodBelly Straight Shots, and start warming the heating pad.

Partial Mash:
1 lb white wheat malt (crushed)

*Used my usual partial mash process.

Boil #1 (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME

*NOTE: No hops or yeast at this point!

Chill the wort to approx. 100 deg F (it will cool further during the transfer), and transfer to a glass fermenter.  It is okay to fill above the 1 gal line on the container.  Shake the Straight Shots and add each one directly to the fermenter.  Cap the fermenter, insert a blow-off tube (the bacteria does not form a krausen, this is just to isolate it...), wrap the fermenter in a towel and place on the heating pad.  Allow to remain there for approx. 48 hrs.

Boil #2 (20 min): 13 Nov
Allow the soured wort to a boil for 20 min (to kill the bugs). At flameout, do a 10 min hop stand with 14 g of Summer  hops.

Yeast: DanStar Belle Saison

Addendum, 14 Nov: Checked on the fermenter this morning while preparing other beers for dry hopping tonight; fermentation is going very well.  I am definitely looking forward to trying this one when it's done.

Addendum, 23 Nov: Dry hop with 14 g of  Summer hops.

Addendum, 25 Nov: Bottled this evening, with 0.6 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  My beers have been over-carbonated lately, and this one seemed to still be pretty active...the airlock cap was still floating pretty high when I bottled the beer.  I know that's not supposed to be an indicator of active fermentation, but I thought I'd just be safe.  After all, these beers are not heavily carbonated.

I got 8 good 12 oz bottles and one partial fill out of this batch.

Addendum, 9 Dec: Tried the partial fill...interesting flavor.  I'll definitely try this one again.  Mild carbonation, as is expected from these beers.  Good sour flavor, but something a little different from the last one.  I'll have to do a side-by-side comparison.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Medusa IPA

Not long after I first started brewing small batches, I received 1 oz of Medusa hops and tried my hand at an IPA.  Unfortunately, the fermenter cap cracked pretty badly, and it was several days before I found it, so I lost that batch. I've recently been able to get access to some more of these hops, and I'm going to give it another shot, using the same hop schedule that I've been using for my more recent IPAs.

My daughter recently tried my Summer IPA, and based on her feedback (as well as my own empirical testing), the hop schedule seems to work pretty well; I thought I'd stick with it for this one, as well.

Brew Day: 2 Nov

Partial Mash:
11.5 oz 2-row malt, crushed
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
19 oz Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar

14 g Medusa hops (FWH)
10 min hop stand with 1 oz Medusa hops

*Cool wort, pitch yeast via normal process

Yeast: Safale US-05 + 1/2 vial Clarity Firm

Addendum, 14 NovDry hop: 14 g Medusa hops

Addendum, 17 Nov: Bottled today; got 9 good 12 oz bottles and 1 partial fill that's like 90%

Addendum, 2 Dec: Tried the first Medusa IPA tonight.  From the picture to the right, you can see it has a straw yellow color, and is a bit more carbonated than it needs to be...I'm going to be backing down on the priming sugar, to about 0.6 oz, rather than a full ounce.  After a few minutes of sitting it settle down pretty nicely.

Started off with a bit of sweet fruit in the nose, as well as on the palate.  My wife tried it and when I said that to me, it had a hint of pineapple, she agreed.  Not bitter at all, with a flavor reminiscent of melon.

As I progressed drinking the beer, the head continued to settle down and there was some light lacing on the glass.  Looking through the glass, the head had large bubbles, but in the middle of the glass, the head resembled more of a latte foam.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Another Sour Beer

My first sour beer (not a gose, just a sour) turned out really well, thanks to the support provided by Jake of Crooked Run Brewing.  Having had some initial success, I wanted to try out hopping a sour beer, going for a sour IPA, using some of the Medusa hops I've got.

So, I took a look at the recipe that Jake posted to his blog, and using a conversion of 31 gal (US) to a barrel, I came up with total hop additions of 14 g @ whirlpool, and about 20 g @ dry hop.  This being the first time, I'm going to be a bit conservative, but it's a good start.

Brew Day: 1 Nov 2016

*Early in the day, begin warming the heating pad, and set out (2) Goodbelly Straight Shots.

Partial Mash:
1 lb white wheat malt, crushed

*Partial mash using my regular process

Boil #1 (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME

*NOTE: No hops or yeast at this point!

Chill the wort to approx. 100 deg F (it will cool further during the transfer), and transfer to a glass fermenter.  It is okay to fill above the 1 gal line on the container.  Shake the Straight Shots and add each one directly to the fermenter.  Cap the fermenter, insert a blow-off tube (the bacteria does not form a krausen, this is just to isolate it...), wrap the fermenter in a towel and place on the heating pad.  Allow to remain there for approx. 48 hrs.

Boil #2 (20 min): 4 Nov 2016
Starting the boil this morning (very early), I caught a whiff of the before, it sort of smells like apple juice.  This one is definitely going to be interesting, as the only real thing I'm changing about this is that I'm hopping it.

Hops: 10 min hop stand with 14 g of Medusa  hops (AA: 3%)
Yeast: Safale US-05

As a bit of a side note, some thoughts on brewing these beers...

First, the bacteria doesn't create a krausen; as such, when I get the fermenter ready to sit on the warming plate, I tend to fill the fermenter all the way up to the neck, leaving about an inch or two at the top.

Second, even though the second boil is not intended for volume reduction (it's meant to kill the bacteria), this will happen.  As such, adding some water to boil to make up for any loss in volume is fine.  This is particularly true if it's accounted for during the first boil, with the addition of a bit more fermentables.

Addendum, 14 NovDry hop with 14 g of  Medusa hops (AA: 3%)

Addendum, 17 Nov: Bottled today; got 8 good 12 oz bottles.

Addendum, 4 Dec: First taste of the sour IPA.  Straw yellow color with light carbonation.  Excellent flavor, definitely sour with an ever-so-slight sense of sweet fruit that comes through the nose at first.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sour Beer

I like sour beers.  There, I said it.

As a bit of side note, I had a chat on Facebook recently with Phil, the kind gent with whom I collaborated with for the EverLong IPS (still have a few bottles left).  Our discussion centered around requirements for boil times, as I'd been doing some reading recently and wasn't sure I was fully understanding everything I was reading.  The end result is that I did (understand, that is), and I'll be making a move to shorter boil times. As I'm not trying to get a lot of bitterness from the hops (even when I brewing an IPA), and using DME, I don't need to worry so much about having to boil off dimethyl sulfide (DMS).

Okay, so back to the sour beers.  I reached out to Jake (of Crooked Run Brewing), who has been producing some fantastic sour beers.  I had his gose a bit ago, and not only enjoyed the flavor, but enjoyed the conversation with my wife as she marveled at a "0 IBU" beer.  Recently, I enjoyed the Nepotism, a sour beer made with peaches that was quite delicious and very enjoyable (I also enjoyed the peach-habanero IPA, as well...).

From the good folks at Crooked Run Brewing:

I would recommend using Goodbelly probiotic drink, available at Whole Foods and Wegmans. You don’t need to make a starter on that scale, just use one or two shots of Goodbelly. It contains pure lactobacillus plantarum. It works best at 85-95 degrees. You should achieve a PH of between 3.2-3.4 in 48 hours. We typically get to our target PH in less than 24 hours.

According to GoodBelly, I can get the StraightShot product (unflavored) at a local WholeFoods.  I visited the Whole Foods in Fairfax recently, and while they had a number of GoodBelly SuperShots in different flavors, they didn't have any unflavored.  According to one source on the Milk The Funk wiki, the mango flavor might turn out okay.  However, I made a trip to Leesburg and stopped at the WholeFoods in Ashburn, and found the StraightShot product, and purchased a couple of 4-packs (they were on sale).

Okay, so as a small batch brewer, I'm thinking, how do I get the temperature up and maintain it consistently over, say, 2 days?  Well, Northern Brewer has a good option for a heating mat.

Brew Day: 19 Sept 2016

Earlier in the day, set out (2) GoodBelly StraightShot shots to reach room temperature, and start the heating mat warming.

Partial Mash:
14 oz white wheat
2 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME

After the boil is complete, cool the wort to approx: 100 deg F (it will cool further during transfer).  Transfer the wort to a sanitized fermenter, leaving room for the bacteria.  Add (2) StraightShot shots, transfer to heating mat.  Let the wort remain on the heating mat (monitoring regularly) for 48 hrs.

The image to the left shows the wort and lacto on the heating mat, where it will remain for at least 48 hrs.  I'm letting it set that long based on information provided by others regarding the time it takes for this to work.  I don't have the necessary equipment at the moment to check the pH on a regular basis, but to be honest, for the batch size, I'm not sure that I really need to do so.

Phase 2, 22 Sept:
This is actually kicking off a bit later than I would have liked.  I wanted to move on to this phase after just 48 hrs, but due to scheduling, it got pushed off to today.  Something I did notice that I wanted to document is that after sitting on the heating mat, the particulates in the wort settled considerably, and the wort was actually pretty clear.  However, agitation in transport, as well as returning the wort to the brew kettle disturbed some of that particulate matter.  I'm sure that it will settle out again, though.

I took the wort off of the heating mat, and into the kitchen.  As I poured the wort out of the fermenter into the kettle, I noticed that it smelled like warm apple juice...that's the best description I could come up with.  As I was heating the wort to boiling, I noticed that it continued to smell the same way.

I boiled the wort for 20 min, adding 4 g of Glacier hops (AA: 5%) halfway through the boil.

Once the boil was complete, I cooled the wort and pitch the yeast  (Safale US-05) as per usual.

Addendum, 5 Oct: Bottled today with 1 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c. boiling water.  Got two 22 oz bottles and 7 regular bottles.  Tasted the beer before adding it to the priming sugar, got some sour!

Addendum, 18 Oct: Chilled and tried one tonight.  Wow!  Pours with a light yellow/straw color, a bit hazy as you'd expect from the wheat malt.  Almost no head, but decent carbonation.  Very minimal lacing.  The important thing is that the flavor is definitely sour, not funky or cheesy.  Good body, light, drinkable beer.  Definitely a success for a first run at a sour beer, many thanks to Jake at Crooked Run for the tips.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hop Bomb

I should call this one my "dregs IPA", as the partial mash is made up of a bunch of small portions of different malts I had sitting around.  For example, I'd get a pound of Munich for a recipe and only use 10 oz, or I'd have some other malt sitting around.  It turns out that when I combined the small portions, I had a pound of malt, so I just added 2 oz of CaraPils to that and now I have a partial mash ready to go!  Admittedly, it's a bit more malt than I usually use, but this time, I'm going to hit the hop stand with a pretty massive amount of hops (for the batch size).  And to do that, I decided to use up the rest of the LemonDrop hops I had from the EverLong IPS I brewed a bit ago (which is still very good, by the way).

Brew Day: 18 Sept 2016

Partial Mash:
6 oz Munich
4.5 oz Vienna
3.5 oz red wheat
2 oz 2-row
2 oz CaraPils

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 20 min)
4 oz table sugar (@ 20 min)

14 g LemonDrop (AA: 4.4%, @ 20 min)
1.5 oz LemonDrop (10 min hop stand @ flameout)
14 g LemonDrop (dry hop)

Yeast: Danstar Belle Saison + 1/2 vial Clarity Firm

Addendum, 30 Sept: Dry hopped today, with 14 g LemonDrop hops.

Addendum, 5 Oct: Bottled today with 1 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c. boiling water.  I got 8 good bottles and one partial fill out of it.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Melon Hops

I haven't brewed in a while and I need to get back to it.  That said, I've got some melon hops I want to try, given that they're described as imparting melon and strawberry.  This time, however, I'm going to try a couple of different things.  First off, I'm reducing the boil time, and as such also reducing the amount of water I add to the brew kettle to get things going.  Second, I'm going to try a bit more aggressive to the hopping, using a hop stand.  Actually, this second part really isn't new, as its very similar to what I did with the Summer hops, and boy did that ever turn out good!

Brew Day: 16 Sept 2016

Partial Mash:
14 oz 2-row
2 oz CaraPils

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar

7 g HBC-438 (AA: 15.7%, @ 20 min; bittering)
1.5 oz Huell Melon hops (AA: 4.5%, 10 min "hop stand"/steep, @ flameout)
14 g Huell Melon (dry hop)

Yeast: Safale US-05 + 1/2 vial Clarity Firm

*I followed all of my usual processes for partial mashing, cooling the wort, and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 28 Sept: Dry hopped the beer today with 14 g Huell Melon hops.  Will bottle on Fri.

Addendum, 30 Sept: Bottled today with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c. boiling water.  Got 9 good bottles and 1 generous partial fill.  I'm really looking forward to trying this one in a couple of weeks.

Addendum, 14 Oct: Tried my first one tonight...very good.  Pours with a full, pillowy head, lots of lacing (think Bell's Two-hearted).  Fruit in the nose, and fruit with maybe a very tiny bit of pine or cedar on the tongue; this will likely dissipate with time.  None of the harsh bitterness typical of commercial American IPAs, but a very fruit-forward flavor.

As a side note, when I went to get one of the bottles to chill, I noticed that one of his 'brothers' had exploded.  This was my first bottle burst, and thankfully when I started home brewing almost 2 yrs ago, I got one of those storage tubs from Target and I keep the bottles in that while they're conditioning, just in case this sort of thing would happen.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

More Sah'Tea

My second attempt at a Sah'Tea clone turned our pretty good, and I thought I do some minor tweaks and try it again.  My wife has really gotten into the ginger saison (she really likes that one!), and I have a hefeweizen and big Belgian that will be ready soon.

Interestingly, I used Clarity Firm with the Belgian, which makes it GR, or gluten-reduced.  So far, there doesn't seem to have been any effect on the flavor of the beer when I've used the Clarity Firm.

Brew Day: 11 Aug 2016

Partial Mash:
10 oz Munich malt
6 oz rye
2 oz flaked wheat

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar (@ 60 min)
7 g German Hallertau (AA: 3.1%) (@ 60 min)

12 g crushed juniper berries + 2 black tea bags (@ 10 min)

Yeast: Safale K-97, 1/2 vial Clarity Firm

*I followed all of my usual procedures for partial mashing, as well as cooling the wort and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 13 Aug: Fermentation is going really well; so well, I had to swap out the blow-off bottle for a clean one this morning.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer Hops IPA

Jillian down at Jay's Brewing home brew supply recently got a stock of Summer hops in, and set 2 oz aside for me, for which I am greatly appreciative.  She'd done some research (BeerMumbo says "apricot and melon profile") and landed upon this hop in particular, and I'm really looking forward to trying this in a fruit-forward IPA.

Something that's a bit different in the way I'm using hops is the hop schedule.  I'm not trying to get an overpoweringly bitter beer, as much as I'm trying to coax aroma and flavor out of the hops.  For example, Old Busthead Brewing recently posted to Facebook regarding an "ExtraExtra Ordinary Double Dry-hopped Double IPA in honor of our 2nd Anniversary."  The DIPA has 2 dry hops, as well as two hot hop additions (kettle, whirlpool), and comes out at 2 IBU.  I can't even begin to imagine how the Simcoe and Citra hops taste in the beer!

I'll be very interested to see how this one turns out.

Brew Day: 19 July 2016

Partial Mash:
1 lb Pilsen Malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar

Hop Schedule:
14 g Summer hops  (FWH)
1 oz Summer hops (flameout, steep)

Yeast: Safale US-05, 1/2 tube Clarity Firm

*I followed all of my usual procedures for partial mashing, cooling the wort, and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 31 July; Dry hopped early this morning, with 14 g Summer hops.

Addendum, 8 Aug: Bottled tonight, with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  I got 9 good bottles out of it.  Everything was cleaned up and put away quickly.  I'm looking forward to trying this one around the end of Aug.

Addendum, 24 Aug: Tried my first one of these tonight.  Wow.  The beer poured with a nice white, pillowy head, and there was a good bit of lacing throughout.  The beer was clear and straw colored, and the first sip was full of sweet fruit flavor, without the harsh, cloying bitterness usually associated with IPAs.  I really enjoyed this beer, and I'm definitely going to continue using the hopping schedule.

Addendum, 1 Nov: I recently found out that my daughter has taken a liking to IPAs, so I invited her over to the house last night to try one of these IPAs, have some dinner, and help pass out candy.  She said that she really liked the IPA and that it tasted "fruity".  I thought that was pretty good because (a) it was what I was shooting for, and (b) I hadn't told her anything about what to expect from the beer.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

El Hefe

Most of my hefeweizens, particularly the ones using WLP380, have turned our pretty well, and given that it's summer, what better time for a nice refreshing wheat beer?  This one should be ready to drink right about mid-August.

Brew Day: 9 Jul 2016

Partial Mash:
12 oz red wheat malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
7 g Glacier hops (AA: 5%) (@ 60 min)

Yeast: WLP380

*I followed my usual procedures for partial mashing, cooling the wort, and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 10 Jul: I checked in the two fermenters I've got going; the hefe is about 16 hrs since I pitched the yeast.  Everything is moving along nicely.

Addendum, 25 Jul: Bottled tonight, priming with 1 oz table sugar.  Got 9 good bottles.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Okay, I'm going to something a little different...I'm going to publish the recipe before I actually "brew" the mead.  I'm doing this so that I can share the recipe with someone.

As I was reading through Sacred Healing Herbal Beers (which I can NOT put down...), and got really interested in mead.  I reached to a good buddy of mine, and he said that he really likes mead.  I thought I'd try it...I'll have to find some at the local beverage store...but I thought that since I've already made cider (a couple of times) that mixing up a batch or two of mead would be pretty interesting.  Also, it's gluten-free, so folks who can't drink beer (at least, not without Clarity Firm added) can at least have options.

Something else to consider (from the book) is the inclusion of heather in the mead.  Fortunately, I found heather tips on Amazon...

1 gal recipes
Storm The Castle - recommends 2 lb honey for a dry mead, more for a sweeter mead
Storm The Castle #2 - this is the fastest, easiest, cheapest mead recipe
Pixie's Pocket -
Instructables Strawberry Mead
Savannah Bee Company Recipe - recommends 2 lb honey, champagne yeast, no mention of nutrients

The Storm The Castle site is great for a lot of information on making mead, including (but not limited to) the secret art of mead making.

Not a 1 gal recipe, but BeerSmith has a pretty good description of how to make mead, along with using a staggered approach to adding nutrients.  The recommendation is to add 1 tsp of Go-Ferm to 1 tsp of Fermaid-K, and then split it into 4 equal portions.  Add one when pitching the yeast, and the others added at 24, 48, and 72 hrs, respectively, by adding the nutrient mixture to a small amount of honey and water, and then adding it to the fermenter.  Recommended fermentation time is a minimum of 2 months, which is similar to the artisanal mead recipe over at Northern Brewer.

Here's Bray's One Month Mead recipe, in both 1 and 5 gal batches.

Some of the recipes I've read that just use yeast (and maybe a bit of nutrient) take up to a year to ferment.  Those the use nutrient and energizer take less time...two months, or in the case of Bray's recipe, half that.  I'm okay with letting the experiment go for a bit, as I'd like to get a nice result.


"Brew" Day: 11 July 2016

3 lb honey - locally sourced (Hall's Honey Farm)
2 oz dried heather tips
Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast
Extra honey

Heat 1/2 gal of water to 150 deg F, add heather tips (in muslin bag), allow to stand covered for several hours. Bring to a boil, remove muslin bag.  Allow to cool to around 150 deg F, dissolve honey into liquid, then pour into fermenter.  Add 1/4 t. each of Fermaid-K and Go-Ferm, pitch yeast, and add enough lukewarm water to fill the fermenter to just below the "1 gallon" line.  Place a cap on the fermenter, add sanitized blow-off tube and bottle.

Nutrient addition schedule: at 24, 48, and 72 hrs, dissolve 1/4 t. each of Fermaid-K and Go-Ferm in a small amount of warmed water and some honey, add this to the fermenter and shake slightly.  Likely the best way to go about doing this is to boil some water in a measuring cup (the boiling will sanitize the cup), and then pour out all but enough water to dissolve the nutrients and a small amount of honey.  Reduce the temperature (ice bath) to 75 - 80 deg F before adding to the fermenter.

After 3 - 4 weeks, rack the mead to a clean fermenter, add an airlock and let sit for at least another 8 weeks before bottling.

Addendum, 12 July: I looked in on the fermenter this morning, a bit more than 12 hrs after pitching the yeast (actually, it's closer to 14 hrs).  I've never worked with this yeast, nor with honey before, so this will be interesting.  The mead is fermenting much like cider...some good activity, but not a great deal of krausen.  I'll be doing my first addition of nutrient and energizer this evening.

Addendum, 14 July: Added the last addition of nutrient and energizer this evening.  Everything seems to be going very well; there are a steady stream of bubbles coming from the blow-off tube.

Addendum, 31 July: Transferred to a clean fermenter this morning; I had my sanitizer and racking rig out this morning because I was dry hopping another beer, so I figured that I would just go ahead and rack the mead to a clean fermenter.  Now, it just sits for a couple of months...

Addendum, 21 Oct: Bottled today, with 1 oz of wild honey dissolved in a bit of warm water.  I didn't
need to sanitize the honey, but I did heat up some water to make it easier to pour into the fermenter.  I got 2 large (22 oz) bottles and 6 good 12 oz bottles out of it.  I also got a little bit more (see the image to the right) to try.  Now, it's been fermenting for a bit more than 3 months, and I had added the nutrient and energizer additions early on.  As such, it had a wine-like (wine-ish) scent, but I also detected some of the same notes as you get when you smell wild honey.  Of course, it's nowhere as thick as honey, and even as someone who doesn't drink wine, this actually turned out pretty well, I think.  My wife tried it, and at first she thought it was my sour beer (which she'd just asked me about...), and she liked it (she's the wine drinker in the family).  The mead has a slight while not overpowering sweetness to it, and I noticed that the alcohol warmth lingered on the back of my throat for a bit.  I've never had mead before, so I have nothing on which to base this or use as a standard, but I enjoyed the initial sample. I'm looking forward to seeing what the yeast remnants do with the priming honey over the next month or so.

Belgian Beauty

My wife that, REALLY...likes the last Belgian I made, and has even taken to calling it the "Belgian Beauty".  As such, I need to make it again; this time, I'm going make a big beer, very high gravity, a "Big Belgian Beauty".

Brew Day: 7 July 2016

Partial Mash:
16 oz Munich
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 60 min)
8 oz corn sugar (@ 60 min)
7 g Glacier (AA: 5%) hops (@ 60 min)

Yeast: T-58, 1/2 vial Clarity Firm

*I followed all of my usual processes for partial mashing, as well as cooling the wort and pitching the yeast/Clarity Firm.

Addendum: I checked in on the fermenter about an hour after I put it in it's special place, and there are already bubbles rising in the fermenter, as well as slow stream of bubbles coming out of the blow-off tube.  The picture to the right is four hours after pitching the yeast; the blow-off tube has material in it, and the blow-off bottle is clearly been collecting material, as well.  That T-58 yeast is nothing to mess with!

Addendum, 8 July: Checked on the fermenter this morning, had to replace the blow-off bottle as well as the paper towels beneath the bottle.  Things appear to be going very well at this point.

Addendum, 26 July: Bottled tonight, priming with 1 oz table sugar.  Got 9 good bottles.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Book Review: Sacred and Healing Herbal Beers

Okay, I'm going to do something a little different; rather than a recipe, I'm going to write a review of a fascinating book I just finished reading.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I was at the supermarket and picked up a copy of "American Survival Guide" on the magazine stand because it had an article on healing wounds with sugar.  After watching The Equalizer and The Shooter, I thought, wait, how do you use honey or sugar to help heal wounds?  On page 112 of the magazine was an article titled, "Brewing - A Survival Skill?" that talked about how, during times of social chaos and hardship, some folks have turned to brewing in order to have something to barter with.  The article even provides a pretty simple recipe that you can make at home, using mugwort and lemons.  In the article, Buhner's book was referenced as the "bible" for wild brewing.  I thought, okay, I have a B&N gift card that's gathering dust, so I got online and purchased the book.

Once the book arrived, I could hardly put it down.  My educational background is in engineering (BSEE, MSEE), and my first career was in the military.  However, what I read completely fascinated me, and drew me in.

I consider myself to be a critical thinker (or at least tending in that direction...), and for as long as I can remember, I've not been one to follow the crowd.  In fact, the larger the crowd, the more likely I am to find my own path.  One the things I really appreciated about Buhner's book was places where he pointed out fallacies in Western thought; specifically, when it came to why indigenous people drank fermented beverages.  I think that the error of Western thinking, due to cultural ignorance and more than a little arrogance, in many ways parallels what I have seen over the past decade or so in my "day job".  In particular, a cyber attack may be attributed to someone of a different culture (Chinese, Russian, etc.) and someone will make assumptions as to why the attacker did something.  Like I said, I found a lot of parallels, and value, in the statements Stephen made.

I didn't start drinking until later in life.  I spent four years at a military college, and only really drank one time besides my 21st birthday, and in both instances, in accordance with the culture, it was about getting drunk and little else.  I spent eight years on active duty in the military and really didn't drink much during that time, either.  It wasn't until I was 36 that my wife introduced me to social drinking, and to be honest, I really wasn't interested in drinking to get a buzz.  I quickly became intensely interested in much more than just drinking beer, and started making it (but honestly, we all see that in other areas, as well).  In the short time that I've been home brewing, I've found it fascinating how many "purists" know very little about craft brewing, and I've encountered a lot of folks who speak with authority on topics for which they are just wrong.  Stephen's book really shows how ignorant someone is who thinks that pure beer brewing starts and ends with the mass-produced, commercial beers.  Stephen illustrates in very easy to read language how fermented beverages not only sustained the people who made and drank them, but also sustained their culture.

Something else I really liked about the book was the first appendix, which presented four heretical rules of brewing, as well as a number of heresies.  Stephen's comments were spot on...while I had a great teacher who initially got me started by sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm, I tend to believe that his assistance was required, as I had run into a lot of the "suck the joy out of the experience" kind of instruction early on.  Stephen's comments echoed a lot of my own experiences, and more than anything else, really laid bare a lot of what many new to home brewing may initially see as "the right way" to do things.  While there are somethings that are necessary, as Stephen points out, if it all falls apart, you've got some good fertilizer on hand.

Stephen's book isn't just about the history or "why"...he also presents a number of recipes for other types of fermented beverages, and provides a great deal of the "why" behind the beverage itself.  Some of the things I found fascinating included how the medicinal essence of a plant was conveyed or even enhanced through the fermentation process.  Vitamins and minerals provided by various plants would sustain those who drank them by providing the resources their bodies needed to fend off diseases; hence, when religious groups brought the idea of temperance to isolated cultures, those who stopped drinking the beverages fell victim to diseases.  Stephen provided a number of interesting recipes for everything from mead to nettle or dandelion beer.

Like I said, I was continually fascinated by what I read, and could hardly put the book down at any given moment.  I quite literally had to ration my reading...I knew that if I had 15 or 20 minutes to sneak some reading in in order to shift gears and give my brain a break, I could not pick up Stephen's book because the 15 minutes could quickly become over an hour.

Thanks, Stephen, for your great work, and for sharing it with the rest of us!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Not long ago, I'd stopped by Jay's Brewing to pick up some items, and shortly after I got home, found an email in my inbox from the folks at Jay's, with a recipe for a gose (pronounced "GOES-uh").  The recipe didn't specify a volume, but based on the ingredients, I assume that it would be about 5 gal.  The recipe is as follows:

3 lbs. Pilsen DME
3 lbs. Wheat DME
2 lbs. Acid. Malt (20min @ 156°)
1 oz.  Tradition(60 min.)
.5 oz.  Tradition(10 min.)
.75 oz. Sea salt (10 min.)
.50 oz. Ground Coriander (10 min.)
Yeast - WLP029

Okay, looks simple enough.  I have no idea how it'll come out, but that's the joy of home brewing, isn't it?

Pg 148 of Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing has a similar recipe for a gose.  As far as goses go, I like Anderson Valley's Blood Orange Gose.  Also, I visited Crooked Run Brewing on 21 May, and had the simply wonderful La Resaca, which is a 0 IBU gose.

During the course of my research, I found a couple of other, similar recipes:
Breakin' the Law Gose
Salty Gose the Margarita
SourBrew Blog - uses kettle souring
BYO Recipe

During my "other" research, I've tried some really good goses, a couple from Anderson Valley, specifically the Blood Orange and Briney Melon goses.

So, here's my first attempt at a gose...

Brew Day: 8 June 2016

Partial Mash:
8 oz white wheat malt
8 oz acid malt

I followed my usual partial mash process.

Boil (60 min):
13 oz Pilsen DME (@ 60 min)
4 g Hallertau (@ 60 min)
4 g sea salt (@ 10 min)
3 g ground Coriander (@ 10 min)

Yeast: Safale US-05, 1/2 bottle of Clarity Firm

I cooled the wort and pitched the yeast using my usual process.  I did notice that the resulting wort was very light in color...I think that minus the acid malt, replacing with Vienna, and adding some flaked wheat might make a really good Belgian wit recipe.

Addendum, 23 Jun: Bottled today with 1 oz of priming sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water; got 9 good bottles out of it.  Tried a bit of the beer that was left after filling the bottles - was a little sweet and not even a hint of sour, but that might be due to the priming sugar.  We'll see how this turns out in a couple of weeks; I may give something like the NB Dawson's Kriek (uses WYeast 3278) a try if the acid malt doesn't really do much; either that or try WLP655, which my favorite home brew supply place has in stock.

Addendum, 12 Jul: Tried one of these tonight.  Light yellow color, very clear, pours with a full, persistent head.  No discernible aroma, not the slightest sour or tart taste, although there is a very mild sense that there is something there.  Came out as a clear wit beer.  Not bad, very light and refreshing...but not a gose at all.

Page 181 of The Homebrewer's Recipe Guide has an inset called "Full Wort Souring".  This inset describes how to sour the wort, simply by letting it set for 12 - 24 hrs.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


A bit ago, I made a cider for my daughter's college graduation.  I'm not a cider drinker, and not really even a fan, so when I tried the partial fill that I had from the bottling, I didn't really think much of it.  However, not too much later, she tried one, and really seemed to like it.  I thought I'd try it again, this time with some small tweaks here and there.

Brew Day: 2 Jun 2016

4 qts Harris Teeter brand Gravenstein apple juice
12 oz frozen apple juice concentrate
3 oz brown sugar

Yeast: SafCider

The previous cider I'd done had a good aroma of apples when opened, but the resulting cider was pretty dry, due to the yeast.  As such, I figured that I might want to start with something a bit sweeter this time.  For this cider, I followed a similar process as the previous cider; however, this time, I started with a 12 oz can of apple juice concentrate.  The ingredients list says "apple juice, absorbic acid", and that's it.  Because it's frozen, I don't need to pasteurize it, but I figured that raising the temperature a bit would make things more amenable for the yeast, and allow me to dissolve the brown sugar a bit easier.

So, I put the contents of the apple juice concentrate and some of the juice from the bottle into a sauce pan and raised it up to 160 deg F, and dissolved 3 oz brown sugar in the warm juice.

The previous cider had a bit of sediment from the juice, and my daughter was a little ooged out by it.  This time, I tried filtering the juice through a coffee filter (cupped in a strainer) as I poured it into the fermenter.

I'm going to dry hop this one with some Jarrylo (which I used last time) and a bit of Amarillo, just to see how the flavor comes out.

Addendum, 5 Jun: Checked in on the fermenters this morning during my usual rounds; there are three fermenters in the bathtub at the moment.  The cider is still bubbling away really well, about 3 bubbles per second, which makes a nice rhythm with the ginger saison, which is bubbling at about 1 bubble per second.  Clearly, it still has a while to go before dry hopping, but so far, so good.

Addendum, 10 Jun: Checked the fermenters this morning as part of m usual rounds.  The other day, I had checked and found that the fermenter cap for the cider had a crack in it, so I replaced the cap, and put the airlock back on.  The airlock cap has been sitting flush with the top of the post since I replaced it, but I know enough now that that is not an indicator of...well...anything.  I put the fermenter on a stable surface and took a close look at it, and I could see very small bubbles still rising in the fermenter.

This is one of the downsides of small batch failures.  However, I'm familiar enough with what can go wrong (for the most part) and prepared...I keep extra caps available all the time, and check the caps on a regular basis.  Fortunately, these are a low-cost item, so it's not hard to have a few on-hand.

I'll be looking to dry hop the cider early next week, and from there, likely bottle before the end of the week.  That'll put the first taste test around 4 Jul.

Addendum, 13 Jun: Dry hopped today with 10 g Jarrylo + 7 g Amarillo (I had it left over, so why not?).

Addendum, 16 Jun: Bottled today with 1 oz of brown sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  I got 8 regular beer bottles and one repurposed soda bottle out of the batch.  I also tried a bit of what was left in the siphon tube...a little dry, which apparently is a good thing.  We'll see how this batch turns out in comparison to the previous batch.

Addendum, 3 Jul: My daughter tasted the cider tonight...she liked it and initially said that it wasn't as carbonated as she would have thought, but her mind was changed shortly (and loudly).  I poured a little for myself, and took a whiff...slight apple scent from the glass.  The cider was very dry, with little if any discernible apple flavor.  My daughter said she liked it, and offered up the idea for trying a recipe that let a bit more apple through; as such, I'll need to consider something that's less of a champagne yeast, and go with a wine yeast that will let a bit of the fruit flavor through, or try a dry beer yeast.

Addendum, 8 Jul: I received an email from Northern Brewer this morning that contained a link to a Short Pours blog post on making cider.  In the blog post, there was a really good recommendation to use Red Star Cote de Blanc yeast in order to retain some of the apple character.  I think that's what I'm going to do with the next one...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ginger Saison, Again

The ginger saison I did a while ago was so good, it's time to do it again...

Brew Day: 1 Jun 2016

Partial Mash:
4 oz Belgian Munich malt
10 oz Vienna malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

The malt I used was primarily the result of what I had available at the time.  I followed my normal partial mash procedure.

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 60 min)
7 g Hallertau hops (AA: 3.1%, @ 60 min)
4 oz sugar (@ 60 min)
0.5 oz thinly sliced ginger (@ 10 min)

Yeast: DanStar Belle Saison

I followed my usual procedure for pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 16 Jun: Bottled today, got 9 bottles out of the batch.  Looking forward to trying this around the 4th of July.

Addendum, 7 Jul: My wife tried the beer tonight...definitely loves it, definitely a keeper. Interestingly enough, she really seems to enjoy it more when the beer is closer to room temperature.  I tried a taste when she was close to the bottom of the glass, and as I put my nose into the glass, I caught a whiff of the ginger.  There's no doubt, this one is definitely a keeper!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sah'Tea #2

Okay, my first attempt at a sah'tea may have gone a little awry (given that there's rye malt in the wort, no pun intended...well, maybe just a little...), but only because I'd use a hefeweizen yeast that, on my first use, has so far produced a LOT of banana aroma in the hefe.  It's likely not going to end up being anywhere close to what I had hoped, and may end up getting renamed to "LCpl's Tears #2", or something similar.

This time, I'm going to go with a wort that's a bit lighter in color, but with good body.

Brew Day: 22 May

Partial Mash:
12 oz Belgian Munich malt
5 oz rye malt
1.5 oz CaraPils

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 60 min)
2.5 oz table sugar (@ 60 min)
10 g Huell Melon hops (AA: 4.5%) (@ 60 min)

10 g crushed juniper berries and 3 black tea bags (@ 10 min)

Yeast: Safale K-97

*I followed my normal process for the partial mash, cooling the wort, and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 27 May: While I was preparing to bottle the "300 Hefe" this morning, I went ahead and put an air lock in this fermenter.  Things seem to be moving along nicely.

Addendum, 7 Jun: Bottled tonight; got 8 regular bottles and one re-purposed soda bottle.  Should do nicely.

Addendum, 3 Jul: Tasted the beer tonight, from what I'd put into a soda bottle.  I just about hit the nail on the head with this one!  Very, very close on color, body, and flavor...even have just a bit of bitterness/"mouth feel" from the tea.  Very good, definitely sticking with this recipe, with the minor exception of upping the juniper addition to 12 grams.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


I wanted to do a couple of things with this brew...use up the Munich LME I have, use the red wheat I got from Jay's Brewing (LHBS), and try a hefe with a different yeast.  In this case, I'm going to be trying the Pure Pitch WLP 300 yeast, which suddenly gives the picture to the right some context, doesn't it?  See what I did there?  WLP 300, a picture from the movie "300"...

Anyway, I still have some of my previous hefe left, but then it's getting to be that time of year where I get out to mow the grass, and when I'm done, I may want to enjoy a nice cold hefeweizen as my reward.

Brew Day: 11 May 2016

Partial Mash:
1 lb Red Wheat
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (60 min):
1.3 lb Munich LME
3 oz table sugar
10 g German Perle hops (FWH)

Yeast: WLP 300

*I followed my usual processes for the partial mash, cooling the wort, and pitching the yeast.

Note: I checked on the beer about 6 hrs after pitching the yeast, and it's doing really well.  The yeast is really doing a it's thing!

Addendum, 12 May: As part of my normal Thu morning routine (trash day), I checked in on the brew, and I had to replace the blow-off bottle.  The bottle was completely overwhelmed with krausen, and the padding I'd placed under it (4 paper towels) was completely saturated.  So, I put some fresh sanitizer in another bottle, and cleaned up and replaced the padding, as well.  It was messy, but a good sign.

So far, my experience has been that if you want a good hefeweizen, liquid yeast is the best way to go.  Yes, I've gotten some nice banana notes from the T-58 yeast, but that's more for a Belgian style beer.  Also, letting the beer sit for a bit longer is a great idea; it applies to the hefes just as well as it does to the IPAs.

Addendum, 27 May: Bottled the "300 Hefe" today.  I got 8 good bottles out of the fermenter.

Addendum, 16 Jun: My wife tried one of these last night...the Munich LME was overpowering.  I figured it would be, due to the color, and I had guessed right.  The color and flavor are definitely of a caramel malt, and the flavor overwhelms any aroma of banana.  Comes out as heavy-bodied, malt-forward wheat beer with strong caramel notes.

Not a keeper for a hefe recipe - lesson learned, do not use any caramel malt (grain or extract) in a hefeweizen.

Friday, May 6, 2016


I wanted to try something a bit different, and figured I'd go back to something I'd considered last year.  I still haven't been able to find DogFish Head Sah'tea in the stores, so I thought I'd take a shot at making one of my own.

From the Sah'tea page at the DogFish Head web site:

...the beer is fermented with a German weizen yeast. In addition to juniper berries foraged from the Finnish countryside, Sah'tea is flavored with black tea.

I've got a copy of Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing, and there's a recipe on pg. 244 for a Finnish Sahti.  I'm using something of a variant of that recipe, going with a partial mash, but I wanted to get an idea of how to go about adding juniper berries to the recipe, and in what amount.  I've been doing research on the subject and what I've found is that there are some resources available on the Internet that both praise and condemn the use of juniper berries in beer, but few that include recipes or proportions.  The recipe in the book calls for 1 oz of crushed berries in a 5 gal batch, and juniper branches are included in the mash.  I'm not going to include the branches in this attempt, but I may in future attempts.  I have a juniper bush in my front yard and snipping off a few small branches to include in the boil might not be a bad addition.

For this first attempt, I'm going to got with crushed berries, added to the last 10 min of the boil, in a muslin bag.  I'll do a gentle crushing using a mortar and pestle, and I don't want little bits and pieces of the berries floating around in my beer; the muslin bag will take care of that.

Brew Day: 6 May 2016

Partial Mash:
9 oz Briess Rye Malt
3 oz Crystal Rye Malt
1.5 oz Carapils

Boil (60 min):
1.6 lb Munich LME (@ 60 min)
3 oz table sugar (@ 60 min)

Hops: 10 g German Perle, AA: 8.4% (FWH)

Additions: 10 g Juniper berries (crushed), black tea (@ 10 min, remained in the wort during cooling)

Yeast:  WLP380 (wanted to go with something that imparts less banana, more clove)

*I followed my usual process for the partial mash, cooling the wort, and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 7 May: Going through my normal morning routine, I checked in on the beer; the yeast was pitched about 13 hrs ago.  It's bubbling quite nicely; there's a bit of blow-off in the blow-off bottle, but not a lot, and the bubbles rising in the fermenter are as many as the stars in the sky.  ;-)

I will say that the beer is a bit more brown than I would have like, but that's a result of the LME and crystal rye.  We'll see how the combination of additions works on the flavor, but the next attempt at this may be more along the lines of an all-grain brew.

Addendum, 8 May: Checked in on the beer this morning, found that the blow-off bottle was completely overflowing, and was glad that I'd put paper towels underneath it.  I replaced the blow-off bottle with a new one (I use spent Gatorade bottles), and was able to see the flow of bubbles; they were small, a little over  second apart, but there was a steady flow.  Now, I'll just let the beer sit and let the yeast keep doing it's thing.  I'll likely put an airlock on the fermenter in about a week, and I'm looking at bottling either the 18th or maybe the 20th.

Addendum, 12 May: My wife had one of the hefeweizens I made with the WLP380 yeast, and she really likes it...a lot!  She opened it and poured it into a glass, and I could smell the banana from across the room.  As such, I'm wondering if the juniper berries and tea will overwhelm the banana esters, or after a couple of weeks of sitting, the reverse will be true.

What I may need to do with the next attempt at this brew is try the K-97 yeast.  I know that the description from the DFH site says "weizen" yeast, which is "wheat" in German.  The K-97 is described to be a German ale yeast, so that may be the way to go.

Right now, I'm somewhat on the fence regarding other changes.  Part of me says, "...make documented, atomic changes...", but the Marine in me says, "...make BOLD dope changes!!" It might be best if, when tasting this brew, the banana is overpowering to just change the yeast used, and nothing else.

Addendum, 21 May: Bottled today, before heading out to an anniversary dinner with my lovely bride!  Got a full six-pack, plus two repurposed soda bottles worth of beer.  During the transfer, the beer had a bit of banana aroma already; I didn't try it because I wanted it all in the bottles.  It will be interesting to try this one in 2-3 weeks.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Wasn't sure what to call this post...ideas, thoughts, I just went with "whatnot".

My wife had an Abbaye tonight, and told me that she REALLY likes it!  This from someone who's favor leans toward Dominion Candi and Leffe Blonde...yes, she has excellent taste.  She is also a fan of the LemonDrop Saison I did as a test of the LemonDrop hops.

Speaking of the LemonDrop hops, it's been a week since I bottled the Everlong IPS.  I think I'll put one in the fridge soon, and try it on Sunday or Monday.  Given the amount of hops in this one, it'll likely be another week or so before it smooths out a bit, but I have that partial fill in the soda bottle that will be good to try.

So, upcoming looks like I need to do the LemonDrop Saison again, which is a very good brew.

I'm also planning to do a Sahti soon, based on the DogFish Head description.  I've got black tea bags, and a good weizen yeast (WLP380), and all I need is the juniper berries.  Fortunately, I saw some on the rack at Jay's Brewing HBS.

A couple of ideas for beers that I've been bouncing around:

- A hefeweizen, using WLP300 yeast (known for producing banana esters), and dry hopped with melon hops, and...

- A BaMM IPA, using Brewer's Gold, Melon, and Mosaic hops.

Finally, I was running errands the other day and saw a sign for Mustang Sally Brewery in Chantilly, VA.  With a name like that, how can you not want to stop by?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Brewer's Gold + Mandarina IPA

I really like what I got out of the two hops that I've used individually before, so I wanted to see what I'd get out of using them together.  This may seem like a really over-the-top IPA based on the total amount of hops I'm using, but the Mandarina isn't really high in alpha acids, and I'm using the Brewer's Gold (generally 8-11% AA) later in the boil.

Brew Day: 12 Apr 2016

Partial Mash:
7 oz Vienna malt
4 oz Gambrinus Honey malt
1.5 oz CaraPils

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
3.5 oz table sugar

14 g Mandarina (AA: 7.4%) - FWH
9 g Mandarina + 9 g Brewer's Gold - 10 min
9 g Mandarina + 9 g Brewer's Gold - flameout

Yeast: Safale US-05

Dry Hop: 10 g Mandarina + 10 g Brewer's Gold

Addendum, 16 Apr: Put an airlock on today; the bubble activity through the blow-off tube had settled down significantly, and since I was dry hopping the Everlong IPS, I went ahead and put an airlock on.  I'll probably end up dry hopping on Wed, 20 Apr.

Addendum, 20 Apr: Dry hopped tonight.

Addendum, 27 Apr: Bottled tonight, with 1 oz table sugar.  It was a little passed the time that I wanted to bottle, mostly due to my schedule.  The beer was very clear when I bottled.  I got 8 regular bottles and one "repurposed" Dr. Pepper bottle out of it.

Addendum, 15 May: I tried one of these IPAs tonight.  I'd put it into the fridge to chill last Fri, and tried it before dinner tonight (while my palate was still "clean").  Very good, very drinkable IPA, not overpoweringly bitter or harsh.  Excellent body, good color.  This one had been in the bottle for about 2 1/2 wks; my experience with IPAs has been that 3 - 4 wks is better, so I'll chill another one later this week and try it on Sunday.  I have to say, though, that this is a really good combination of hops to use.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Collaboration Brew - Everlong IPS

A bit ago, I did a brew to test out LemonDrop hops, and it turned out pretty well.  In fact, from the comment that Thomas from Jay's Brewing left, it was pretty darned good.

Now, having tested the LemonDrop hops, and after Mr Rufus has tried out his side of the experiment, it's time to put it all together and

Okay, the name...I'm a child of the '80s, and Phil (Mr Rufus) is "from" a decade later.  But I'm also a fan of the a lot of '90s music (Foo Fighters, etc.), so we decided to go with "Everlong IPS", which is a nod to David Grohl.  The "IPS" is for "India pale saison" (as opposed to "IPA", for "ale"), because of the saison yeast we're using. This promises to be fruity, crisp and tart.

Brew Day: 5 Apr 2016

Partial Mash:
12 oz Vienna malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
3 oz table sugar

7 g LemonDrop hops (FWH)
7 g German Brewer's Gold + 7 g LemonDrop hops (10 min)
7 g German Brewer's Gold + 7 g LemonDrop hops (flame out, 10 min steep)

Yeast: Danstar Belle Saison

Dry hop #1 (2-3 days):
14 g LemonDrop hops

Dry hop (2-3 days):
14 g German Brewer's Gold, 12 oz raspberries (frozen, sanitize by bringing to 160 deg F for 5 min)

Addendum, 12 Apr: Dry hopped with 14 g LemonDrop.

Addendum, 16 Apr: Dry hop #2, 14 g Brewer's Gold hops and 12 oz raspberries (frozen, pasteurized at 160 deg F for 5 min) - Looking to bottle on 20 Apr

Addendum, 20 Apr: Bottled tonight.

 The image to the left is the beer resting on the priming sugar.
I ended up with 6 bottles, a large bottle, and a partial fill on a sanitized Dr Pepper bottle.

Addendum, 3 May: First taste test; I decided to go with the soda bottle partial fill.  Yes, I used a soda bottle for bottling.  I've done this before and it's worked really well, not changing the flavor of the beer, but keeping it quite nicely and allowing the pressure to dissolve carbon dioxide into the liquid.

Opening the bottle proved to require a bit of effort, as the pressure had built up pretty well.  The beer poured easily, without a substantial head.  Full blast of berries in the nose.  The initial taste is of light bodied beer with a hoppy bitterness, followed by a hint of the berries going down, with no aftertaste of any kind.  This has only been in the bottle for two weeks, and all of my previous IPAs had the hoppy bitterness settle out after 3 or more weeks, so I'll let the other bottles for a bit longer.

This is definitely a lighter-bodied beer, with a mild tartness from the berries.  I'm definitely going to let this sit for another week or two before trying it again.  Stay tuned.

Addendum, 27 May: Finally got around to having another one, and man, is it good!  Right after the pour, there was a nice, pillowy pink head on the beer, and I got a full nose of berries.  The raspberries are definitely coming through much better in the flavor this time, and there's a slight tartness on the back.  The beer has a nice moderate body, with excellent flavor and lacing.

Addendum, 6 Jul: Chilled and cracked a 22 oz bottle of this tonight...I'm still amazed at the pink
beer, with a pink, billowy head and some moderate lacing.  REALLY good beer!  A nice fruit nose from the berries, and the flavor on the tongue is a nice IPA zing with a bit of berry tartness. Not too much of either, but just enough!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Fruit-forward IPA: Calypso + Jarrylo

A recent edition of Zymurgy had an interesting article on "Modern Day IPAs", with some fascinating tips, as well as some recipes.  One of the things that sort of bothers me about the commercial IPAs, and even some of the craft IPAs, is the overpowering bitterness that some have.  For example, I recently tried Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tropical IPA, and maybe my palate isn't nearly sensitive enough, but I wasn't really getting much in the way of "tropical".

I liked how my Calypso IPA turned out, as I did get some dried apple in the flavor.  The Calypso hops have a pretty high alpha acid, so they'd definitely be good for bittering.  I also want to round out some of the flavor with some of the Jarrylo hops that I have left over from the 4 oz I received last summer from my AHA membership.

Brew Day: 25 Mar 2016, early morning brew, because I love the smell of hops in the morning...

Partial Mash:
5 oz Rahr 2-row malt
5 oz Vienna GoldPils malt
2 oz Gambrinus Honey malt
1.5 oz Carapils

Boil (60 min):
1lb Extra Light DME
4 oz table sugar (@ 60 min)

7 g Calypso, AA: 13.3 % (FWH)
7 g Calypso, AA: 13.3% +  7 g Jarrylo, AA: 14.2%  + 7 g Mosaic, AA: 12.8% (flameout, steep)
(projected) 14 g Calypso, AA: 13.3% (dry hop)

Yeast: Safale US-05

*I followed my usual processes for partial mashing and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 4 Apr: Dry hopped tonight with 14 g Calypso, and 7 g Galaxy (AA: 14.5%), all while doing my best Tim "The ToolMan" Taylor grunt.  Why the additional hops?  Because it was there, and because I can.  I'll likely be bottling this one on Thu.

Addendum, 7 Apr: Bottled today, got two 22 oz flip-tops and 6 regular sized bottles.  The beer smelled really good while transferring it onto the priming sugar, a little bit like apple juice.

Addendum, 10 May: Chilled and enjoyed one of these tonight.  Very good.  I really like the hint of tart dried apple that results from the Calypso hops.  This one is definitely a keeper.

Addendum, 22 May: I chilled one of the 22 oz bottles of this tonight, and had some while I was making dinner.  The beer pours with a fine, pillowy head and the beer is a crystal clear straw color.  Excellent flavor, not bitter as one would expect in an IPA, but instead with hints of dried apple and pear.  Still enjoying this one, and it's going to be sad to see that last bottle of this be emptied.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hefeweizen, Again

If it appears that we like're right, we do.  I wanted to try a different yeast this time, and I found some WLP380 Pure Pitch at Jay's Brewing the other day that, based on the write-up, I wanted to give it a try.  I opted for a low AA hop in a first wort hopping that might do a little bit to emphasize the reported apricot from the yeast, or at least not overwhelm it.

Brew Day: 15 Mar 2016

Partial Mash:
10 oz Rahr Red Wheat
4 oz GoldPils Vienna
1.5 oz CaraPils

Boil (60 min):
1lb Bavarian Wheat DME
10 g Huell Melon hops (AA: 4.5%, FWH)

Yeast: WLP380 Pure Pitch (Jillian at Jay's Brewing recommended this one...)

*I followed my normal process for partial mashing, boiling, and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 18 Mar: Checking on the beer this morning, I saw a bubble come up out of the blow-off tube (in the bottle).  I had replaced the blow-off bottle yesterday, so the contents were pretty clear.  However, closer inspection of the fermenter cap revealed two cracks, one large enough for me to slid my thumbnail into; so I sanitized another cap and an airlock, and placed those on the fermenter.  I'm pretty sure that the beer is fine; it has at least another 7 days before I even think about bottling.

Addendum, 26 Mar: Bottled today (1 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water).  When I racked the beer on to the priming sugar, I picked up a strong aroma of banana, and some other sweet fruit.  I got 9 good bottles out of this one.  If this yeast works out pretty well, I think that the next thing I might try is dry hopping.

Addendum, 5 Apr: Chilled two bottles and poured one for Terri tonight, and she really liked it.  This one had more body that what you might associate with a hefe and definitely more than a wit...Terri mentioned that the body reminded her more of a Lefe Blonde.  I caught a whiff of banana as I poured the beer into the glass, but I'll have try another one to see if there were notes of apricot.

I think for the next hefe, I'll use the same yeast, but back off of the malt just a bit.  I might also give dry hopping a shot, using some melon hops.

Addendum, 10 May: Had another one of these hefes tonight; initial pour was with a mild head consisting of big bubbles.  I could smell banana from about 3 ft away; at first, I thought the aroma was from rinsing out the bottle.  When I did a big inhale over the glass, it was clear that the aroma was from the beer.  As I was drinking it, the head got thinner but really smooth, almost creamy.  Excellent flavor, I really enjoyed this one.


My previous attempt at a cider wasn't bad, but it could have been better.  This time around, rather than making small incremental changes and seeing how they turn out, I'm going to fall back on my military training...specifically from the rifle range...and make  BOLD "dope" changes ("dope" referring to settings on the iron sights of the rifle).

A recent issue of Zymurgy had an article on malted cider that was interesting, but more importantly, I wanted to try something a bit different, and make a cider with a bit more body for my daughter's college graduation.  She's the cider drinker in the family, and I wanted to make something special.  NorthernBrewer had a recipe for a dry-hopped cider, so I thought I'd combine a couple of different aspects of the various brown sugar, frozen juice concentrate, and dry-hopping.  See what I mean by "bold dope changes"?

Brew Day: 15 March 2016


I picked up an 11.5 oz bottle of pasteurized Simply Apple juice and 4 qts of HT brand Gravenstein apple juice.  I poured the small bottle of juice into a pot, topped it off to two cups, and heated it to 170 deg F.  Once it reached that temperature, I dissolved 3.5 oz of organic brown sugar in the heated juice, and then added that to a fermenter.  I then topped the fermenter off to about a gallon, and pitched the yeast.

Addendum, 18 Mar: The cider is still fermenting away; the blow-off bottle is pretty clear, and the bubbles coming out of the tube make a steady "thump, thump" that's exciting to hear.

Addendum, 25 Mar: Dry hopped with 10 g Jarrylo; very apple-y smell during the transfer.  Looking to bottle on Monday.

Addendum, 29 Mar: Bottled tonight with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  I got 9 good bottles and 1 partial fill, which I'll try around mid-April.

Addendum, 22 May: I had tried the partial fill of this cider a bit ago, and I didn't much care for it...but then, I'm not a cider drinker.  I'd decided to put a bottle in the fridge, and keep it for my daughter, and then empty out the rest of the bottles.  Well, she tried one tonight, and liked it!  Who knew?  In fact, she had a second one.

The juice I used this time included some apple material at the bottom of the bottle, and I went ahead and included that in the mix.  This, of course, settled out in the bottles, as well.

I do think that regardless of the yeast used, and in particular with this one, it might be a good idea to include some apple juice concentrate for extra sweetness.  I also tossed out the idea of soaking apple sticks (apples sliced up in sticks) in vodka for a day or two and then including several of them in the bottles.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Going for the berries (again)

Keeping with my trend of fruit-forward IPAs, I wanted to use up the Brewer's Gold hops that I had remaining from my second run of the "hop bomb" IPA.  The first one turned out really well, and with what I have left, I wanted to try a shot at a fruit-forward pale ale or IPA without the Mosaic and HBC-438 hops, and use just a single hop.  I'm hoping to get that black currant that are associated with the hops.

Brew Day: 1 Mar 2016

Partial Mash:
6 oz Vienna malt
4 oz Pilsen malt
1 oz CaraPils

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Munton's Extra Light DME (60 min)
3 oz cane sugar (5 min)

Hops (German Brewer's Gold, AA: 5.9%)
7g Brewer's Gold (FWH)
7g Brewer's Gold (5 min)
11g Brewer's Gold (dry hop)

Yeast: Safale US-05

*I followed my usual process for the partial mash, as well as for cooling the wort and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 13 Mar: First thing this morning, I dry hopped the beer with the last 11 g of Brewer's Gold hops that I have left.

Addendum, 15 Mar: One of the things I love about home brewing is being able to take the bull by the horns and do whatever is I like with my beer.  This morning, I dry hopped this beer with 14 g of Mosaic (AA: 12.8%)!  While I was racking the beer into the clean fermenter on top of the hop pellets, I could smell a wonderful sweet berry aroma from the beer.  After I was done, I removed the racking crane from the old fermenter and inhaled deeply...WOW!  I'm really hoping that the tropical fruit aroma that Mosaic is known for imparts just a bit more aroma of sweetness to the beer.  I'm going to bottle early on Thu morning.

Addendum, 17 Mar: Bottled with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water.  I cannot wait to try this smelled so good during bottling!

Addendum, 31 Mar: Tried one of these tonight, got some definite notes of tropical fruit in the nose, as well as on the palate.  Very good.

Addendum, 4 Apr: I have to try another one of these soon, to see if the flavor from the previous tasting persists.  I have to admit that I'd chatted with a friend to whom I'd recommended the hops, and his taste of his test brew indicated notes of tropical fruits and passion fruit.  When I opened one of my beers 5 days ago, I really came away with a sense of similar flavors.  I find this pretty interesting because a lot of the beers that I've tried that are described as having notes of tropical fruit end up being too bitter to taste much else, but these controlled home brews allow for a recipe where the subtle notes from the hop oils (not acids) are allowed to blossom.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

LemonDrop Hefe

Partial ingredients
I stopped by Jay's Brewing recently to pick up some bottle caps, and picked up some WLP300 yeast in the Pure Pitch packaging as well, for a hefeweizen I'm going to brew.  My experience has been that with hefes, the liquid yeast works best.  Jillian was kind enough to provide some instruction regarding how to prep the yeast for use, and I promised to read the packaging again when it got to be brew day.

I've brewed hefes before...or rather, in some cases I've attempted a hefe (here, here, and here).  The big take-away so far is, don't use the WB-06 if you're looking for a good solid hefe yeast...definitely go liquid.  I've tried Jasper's stuff, and I wanted to try something else, as well.  The folks down at Jay's have the White Labs Pure Pitch in stock, so I thought I'd give that a shot.  I wanted to try a hefe using the LemonDrop hops I got from Nicobrew, using the first wort hopping technique.  I'm hoping that with a lower alpha acid percentage than the German Perle, a bit more of the hops won't be too much bittering.

Brew Day: 3 Feb 2016

Partial Mash:
12 oz Pilsner malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

I followed my usual partial mash process.

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Bavarian wheat DME
7 g LemonDrop hops (AA: 4.4%) (FWH)

Yeast: WLP300 Pure Pitch

I followed my usual process for cooling the wort and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 4 Feb: A LOT of activity within the first 12 hrs of fermentation!  So much so that I had to swap out the blow-off bottle.  Things are going pretty well, although I am going to have to move the fermenter and do some clean up...and people laughed at me when I said I was putting my fermenters in a bathtub!  ;-)

Addendum, 5 Feb: Fermentation appears to have settled down quite a bit.  I'll very likely remove the blow-off tube and add an airlock later today or tomorrow.

Addendum, 15 Feb: Bottled today.  Got two 22 oz bottles and 6 12 oz bottles.  Smelled really good during bottling, but it was also really clear.  We'll see if this one finishes with the cloudiness associated with the style.

Addendum, 29 Feb: First taste.  Poured a golden straw yellow color, billowy non-persistent head.  Light citrusy-clean taste, no bitterness, no bitter aftertaste.  Very clean, slightly reminiscent of a fruity cleanness, very easy drinking.  Carbonation is good.  Definitely a keeper.

Addendum, 18 Apr: Opened one of the 22 oz flip top bottles tonight, and went through that one pretty quickly.  Today's high was 81 deg F and I had cleaned the truck tonight, so I was thirsty.  I had a regular 12 oz bottle with dinner, and the head was pretty smooth and creamy.  Right after pouring the beer and for the first couple of sips, I got a good whiff of banana, but after a few minutes, it tapered off.  The beer was still very enjoyable, smooth and light, with the right body.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Belgian Golden Ale #2

My first Belgian Golden Ale turned out REALLY well...I opened one recently for my wife and almost didn't give it to her, I wanted to just keep smelling the aroma coming off of the head of that glass!  Once she had it, she wasn't about to let me have another one!

This time around I wanted to try something a bit different, by doing a first wort hop of LemonDrop (AA: 4.4%) hops.  I also wanted to use up the rest of the Clarity Firm I had available.

Brew Day: 30 Jan 2016
~ 15 hrs after pitching yeast

Partial Mash:
9 oz Belgian Munich Malt
3 oz GoldPils
1.5 oz flaked wheat

I followed my usual partial mash procedure.

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Munton's Extra Light DME
4 oz corn sugar
7 g LemonDrop hops (FWH)
Clarity Firm

Yeast: T-58

I followed my usual process for pitching the yeast (and Clarity Firm).

Addendum, 31 Jan: I added the picture (above) of the fermenter about 15 hrs after pitching the yeast.  Lots of activity, and a rhythmic "thumping" of the bubbles in the blow-off bottle.  The yeast has plenty to eat and keep it happy with this one.

Addendum, 2 Feb: Things are moving along nicely, replaced the blow-off tube with an airlock today.

Addendum, 13 Feb: Bottled with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved into 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Got nine good bottles out of it.  Really looking forward to trying this one in a couple of weeks.  I'll need to remember to hold on to one of the first Belgian Golden Ales to do a side-by-side comparison, and see the difference between the hops, and the hopping method.