Friday, October 17, 2014

Lionel Hutz Bourbon Barrel Milk Stout: Tasting Notes

I haven't done nearly enough on the tasting notes of my beers. So without further ado, here's a review of my "Lionel Hutz" Bourbon Barrel Milk Stout from Feb/Mar 2014.

Appearance: Deep brown-black color that pours a lovely tan head. Maintains its head throughout the experience. Good clarity.

Aroma: Great bourbon barrel predominates. Very slight hint of sweetness. Maybe some bitter chocolate with deep breathing.

Taste: Smooth. The bourbon barrel flavor is there but it doesn't overwhelm the beer. In fact, it is quite secondary to the dry coffee-chocolate notes that should carry any stout. The sharpness of the bourbon has mellowed significantly over time, providing a nice warmth before giving way almost immediately to a milky sweetness.

Verdict: I'm really proud of this beer. It successfully blends smooth, milky sweetness with a rich roasty flavor. With time, the sharpness of the bourbon has mellowed significantly and adds a great warmth, perfect for autumn. I'll definitely be brewing this one again!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Paint It Black Ales [bottled]

Date: Sept. 27, 2014

Transferred both to secondary on 9/13. No change in gravity by bottling date.

Scottish Black

FG: 1.008-1.010

  • 55 g corn sugar
  • 1.5 c water
Desired CO2: 2.1 vol (3 gal @ 64F)

Belgian Black

FG: 1.018-1.020

  • 55 g corn sugar
  • 1.5 c water
Desired CO2: 2.1 vol (3 gal @ 64F)

English and Wild English Cider

A lot of potential wild yeast in there
Date: Sept. 20, 2014

Headed to Door Creek Orchard to pick apples and pick up some great unpasturized cider. Since last fall, I've been wanting to take another crack at doing a hard cider, and especially a batch that included wild yeast.

I found the Mad Fermentationist blog to be really helpful (See Sour Cider and Cider 2008), as well as web pages from Vermont Home Brew, Lost Meadow Vermont, and some interesting looking recipes from Two Fingers In Cider.
(Over)heating this batch by mistake.

English Cider
1 gal

Sanitize a one-gallon jug. Add brown sugar and potassium metabisulphite to cider and let sit 24 hrs to suppress wild yeast and bacteria. Add pectic enzyme one hour before pitching yeast. Add nutrients, pitch yeast, and aerate.


  • 1 gal Unpasturized apple cider
  • 1/16 t Potassium metabisulphite (24 hrs before yeast pitch)
  • 0.5 t Pectic enzyme (1 hr before yeast pitch)
  • 6 oz Dark brown sugar
  • 0.5 t Yeast nutrient
  • 0.5 vial White Labs WLP775 English Cider yeast
  • Ferment at 66F ambient air.

Wild English Cider
1 gal

Sanitize a one-gallon jug. Warm cider to 70+F, aerate, and let sit 24 hrs to promote wild yeast. Add pectic enzyme one hour before pitching yeast. Add nutrients, pitch yeast, and aerate.


  • 1 gal Unpasturized apple cider
  • 0.5 t Pectic enzyme (1 hr before yeast pitch)
  • 0.5 t Yeast nutrient
  • 0.5 vial White Laps WLP775 English Cider yeast
  • Intended to warm cider to 72-75F 24 hrs prior to pitching cider yeast, but forgot about my heater and left it on too long. Jug was warm to touch. Heated 3-4 hrs.
  • Immediately put jug in ice water bath to quickly chill. Brought temp down to slightly cool to touch. Chilled 30 min.
  • Left at 66F room temp overnight, ~12 hrs.
  • Leave to ferment at 66F ambient air for remainder.

Beer Zeus Dunkleweizen [bottled]

Date: Sept. 12, 2014

  • 68 g corn sugar
  • 2 c extra dunkleweizen beer
Desired CO2: 2.4 vol (3 gal @ 64F)

Paint It Black Ale (Scottish Black, Belgian Black)

Brewing date: Aug. 31, 2014
#31 and #32 - 6.5 gal

Brew day with the boys. Wes, Eric, and Kevin joined me to do a big, black ale. Tons of fun, but the gents probably got more than they bargained for as I explained the process. Based on Dark Horse Brewing's Reserve Special Black Ale, we split the batch and fermented 3 gallons respectively between two yeasts. I'm not sure how much of the yeast character will shine through on a beer this dark, but I fermented the Belgian yeast a bit warmer during the first 48 hrs. to try and push the fruity notes.

The guys brought over an assortment of great Octoberfests and we grilled out later that afternoon. An all around great afternoon.

  • 12 lb 2-row malt (Briess)
  • 1.5 lb Caramel 40L
  • 1.5 lb Caramel 80L
  • 1.5 lb Chocolate malt
  • 10.5 oz Roasted barley
  • 5.5 oz Black malt
  • 0.5 oz Columbus (15.2%, pellet) (60)
  • 0.5 oz Nugget (13.3%, pellet) (30)
  • 0.5 oz Simcoe (14.1%, leaf) (15)
  • 1.5 t Irish moss (15)
  • 0.25 oz Chinook (11.6%, pellet) (5)
  • 0.25 oz Columbus (15.2%, pellet) (5)
  • Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale 1L yeast starter
  • Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes yeast
Target OG: 1.068
Target FG: 1.019
Target ABV: 6.47%
Target IBU: 49

  • Mash in 6 gal @ 164F
  • Sac rest @ 152F (60)
  • Mash out @ 168 (10)
  • Batch sparge 4.5 gal
  • Boil (60)
  • Chill to 66F and pitch
First running: 4 gal @ 1.075
Second running: 3.75 gal @ 1.030
Pre-boil: 7.75 gal @ 1.055
OG: 1.069

Scottish Ale - Ferment at 66F, ambient air temperature
Belgian Ale - Warm and rest at 72F for 48 hrs,
ambient air temp 66F

Monday, September 8, 2014

Beer Zeus Dunkleweizen

Brew date: Aug. 23, 2014
#30 - 4.25 gal

A beer for the baby to be. Beer Zeus: the name of that baby (at least according to our friends... and me). A ridiculous unique name for the beer, but a pretty straight forward recipe.

My first weizen too. I don't tend to care for them, but my wife is a big fan. Especially dunkleweizens. And since she's been brewing a baby for the last 8+ months, she gets whatever she wants when that kid drops.

A team effort all around. And, by "team," I mean that I did nearly all the work. (We're talking about the beer now.) She helped with the mash in, hop additions, and yeast pitch. In between, she made delicious bread and soup. It was a good arrangement.

Turning to the overall brew session, it went smoothly enough. However, my efficiency was lower than expected, maybe 75%. I may have to increase the length of the first saccrification rest next time. I lengthened the boil by another 20 minutes to get closer to my target OG.

This was also the first batch that I successfully whirlpooled and chilled simultaneously. The heat resistant water proof silicone gloves I recently purchased were a big help. Don't leave home without them. The fittings, tubing, and pump are finally doing the work I intended.

After about a week, I racked the beer to a 3-gal carboy to secondary. A few quick observations on the still fermenting and conditioning product. I think the beer could use more residual sweetness and toasty malt. I probably could up the chocolate, caramel wheat, and Special B malts by a few more ounces. Probably throw in a little caramel 40L malt too.

Also, I could definitely detect a distinct sulfur smell early on. I hope that this is just a characteristic of the yeast (as the description says), and that it will dissipate with conditioning. It does seem to be slowly fading. Otherwise, the beer is pretty light, and has that wheat-y flavor. As the wife says, "it tastes like a dunkle." I hope so.

  • 5.25 lb Pale wheat malt (Briess)
  • 1.75 lb 2-row malt (Briess)
  • 6 oz Munich malt 20L (Briess)
  • 3 oz Caramel wheat malt (Thomas Fawcett)
  • 3 oz Chocolate malt (Briess)
  • 3 oz Special B (Dingemans)
  • 3 oz Roast wheat malt (Thomas Fawcett)
  • 0.5 lb Rice hulls
  • 25 g Tettnanger (3.9%, pellet) (60)
  • Add remainder of Tettnanger (30)
  • 1 t Irish moss (15)
  • Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen yeast 1L starter
Target OG: 1.052
Target FG: 1.013
Target ABV: 5.11%
Target IBU: 15
Target Efficieny: 80%

  • Mash in 4.5 gal @ 128F
  • Protein rest @ 122F (20)
  • Sac rest @ 149F (30)
  • Sac rest @ 158F (30)
  • Mash out @ 168F (10)
  • Batch sparge 3 gal
  • Boil (60)
  • Chill to 70F and pitch
First runnings: 3.5 gal @ 1.048
Pre-boil: 6 gal @ 1.040
Evaporation: 1 gal gone at 42 min
OG: 1.047-1.049

  • Put carboy in cold water with 2 frozen one-gallon jugs overnight. Chill to 66F.
  • Remove ice jugs and allow tempt to free rise all day to 70F
  • Chill for 4 hrs and free rise overnight
  • Allow to ferment at 68-70

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Brotherly Love to Baltimore Pale Ale [bottled]

Date: Aug. 6, 2014

  • 114 g corn sugar
  • 1.5 c water
Desired CO2: 2.3 vol (5.5 gal @ 63F)

Appearance: Light marigold, very slight haze.
Aroma: Cascade citrus, chinook piney aroma.
Flavor: Good bitterness, but too much? Nice underlying citrus, resin flavor. Little alcohol strength. Could be a little sweeter.

Brotherly Love to Baltimore Pale Ale [dry hop]

Date: July 23, 2014

  • 0.5 oz Chinook
  • 0.5 oz Cascade
Gravity: 1.012

Appearance: Very light orange color, very slight opaque.
Aroma: Light orange aroma, very light malt aroma.
Flavor: Light body, bread, then dry citrus, followed by moderate bitterness. Needs a bit more sweetness to balance the dry-bitter flavor.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Brotherly Love to Baltimore Pale Ale (w/ orange peel)

Brew date: July 12, 2014
#29 - 6 gal

After a few years in Philadelphia, my brother is heading to Baltimore for a new gig. What better way to send him off (and not give him any of the finished product) than by brewing something to commemorate the journey.

I settled on a mid-summer American pale ale emphasizing the citrus note with a late boil addition of bitter orange peel and some cascade first wort hopping. An additional dry hopping with more cascade and chinook is also in store.

It's always fun to show people how their beer gets made: the raw ingredients, the smell of freshly milled grain, how mashing works, why we vorlauf, the variety of hops, the ridiculous amount of cleaning and sanitizing necessary. It's also fun to share war stories of past brews. I know I like to describe homebrewing as boredom punctuated by moments of terror.

While there was no real terror this session (no loose hoses spraying boiling hot wort, etc) there was a fair amount of waiting around. Especially while chilling the wort. I've got to find a better system for this. It takes forever. And my pump just will not stay primed for whirlpooling the wort around the immersion chiller. I may just need to suck it up and buy a counterflow chiller... Can anyone spare a dime (or $200)?

Until I figure out a better system, I need to be more mindful of the time involved. Always estimate 5 hours. This session's total brew day: 10 am - 3 pm.


  • 7.25 lb 2-row (Briess)
  • 4.25 lb 6-row (Briess)
  • 0.75 lb Vienna (Briess)
  • 0.75 lb Munich 20L (Briess)
  • 0.5 lb Caramel 40L (Briess)
  • 0.5 lb Wheat flakes
  • 1 oz Cascade (7.8%, pellet) (FWH)
  • 1 oz Centennial (9.5%, pellet) (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Chinook (11.6%, pellet) (20 min)
  • 1 t Irish Moss (15 min)
  • 0.5 oz Orange peel (dried, bitter) (5 min)
  • 0.5 oz Cascade (7.8%, pellet) (KO)
  • 1 L Wyeast 1056 American Ale yeast starter (7/8/14)
  • 0.5 oz Cascade (2nd)
  • 0.5 oz Chinook (2nd)
Target OG: 1.056
Target FG: 1.014
Target ABV: 5.5%
Target IBU: 40
Target Efficiency: 75%

  • Mash in 6 gal of 50/50 filtered/RO water @ 162F
  • Rest @ 152F (60 min)
  • Mash out (10 min)
  • Batch sparge 3.5 gal 50/50 filtered/RO water (10 min)
  • Boil 60 min
  • Chill to 72F and pitch
  • Ferment @ 68F (66-72F) (10 days)
  • Secondary (2 wks)
  • First runnings: 4.3 gal @ 1.070
  • Second runnings: 3.6 gal @ 1.028
  • Pre-boil: 8 gal @ 1.050
  • OG: 6 gal @ 1.064
  • Efficiency: 93%

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kollath & Kraemer Bottling Extravaganza

Bottle date: May 9, 2014

A brief detour to sample some of the unique offerings from Central Waters Brewing and O'so Brewing for Madison's Craft Beer Week notwithstanding, we spent most of the evening bottling our kolsch and brown ales.

Kollasch Kolsch


  • 94g corn sugar
  • 1.5c filtered water
Desired CO2: 2.2 vol (5 gal @ 60F)

Brown Ale

  • 57g corn sugar
  • 1c filtered water
Desired CO2: 2.2 vol (3 gal @ 60F)

Bourbon Barrel Brown Ale

  • 49g corn sugar
  • 6g brown sugar
  • 1c filtered water
Desired CO2: 2.2 vol (2.75 gal @ 60F)

Kollasch Kolsch [secondary]

Racking date: April 21, 2014

Decided not to dry hop this beer after sampling.


FG: 1.010
Appearance: Light yellow, straw color. Opaque.
Aroma: Bready slightly spicy/flowery hop note.
Flavor: Light, light-to-medium hop bitterness, bready character.

Molasses Brown Ale Two Ways [secondary]

Racking date: April 21, 2014


FG: 1020
Appearance: Deep red hue, fairly clean.
Aroma: Not much.
Flavor: Fairly dry, some dark caramel/toffee notes at end.

Smarch Maibock [bottled]

Bottle date: April 21, 2014


  • 102g corn sugar
  • 1.5 c water
Desired CO2: 2.3 vol (5 gal @ 60F)

Poor Lyla Belgian IPA: Tasting Notes

Pale orange color, very slight haze, frothy white head, good lacing.

Belgian notes, fruitiness, citrus, piney resin hop smell.

Good IPA bitterness. Piney resinous bite quickly gives way to a subtle sweetness. Citrus and bread flavors flow at the end. Finishes dry and bitter. Medium bodied. Would be refreshing in a late July heatwave.

I really like this beer. My best effort at an IPA yet. Great aroma from the mash up of Belgian yeast and citrus/piney hops. Still dealing with over-carbonation problems though.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Kollath & Kraemer Brewstravaganza: Brown Ale and Kolsch

Brew day: April 5, 2014

Kollath & Kraemer together at last! A glorious day! A meeting of minds, philosophies, tastes. Very high-brow...

Nah, we just spent all afternoon brewing the hell outta some beer! ;p

My buddy Jeff and I have been talking about crafting a brown ale together since we both got started brewing a few years ago. After a few life-changing events (Jeff-baby, Peter-brew rig) we finally got our act together.

Jeff, ever ambitious, insisted on brewing two beers. Peter, ever foolish, let himself be convinced. It may have been biting off more than we could chew -- barely finishing in time to watch the Final Four -- but it was fun. And a heck of a nice spring day (FINALLY!).

Brown Ale
#27 - 6.25 gal

I worked together a recipe inspired by Abita's Turbo Dog clone and Bell's Best Brown clone. Jeff supplied me with a delicious New Holland Brewing "Into the Woods." Our malt bill and yeast probably wont pick up the hints of gruyere cheese, smoke, and dry rye bite of that beer, but it's something to shoot for next time.

Since brewing, this brown has fermented in my basement with an ambient air temperature of 59-62F. The first 36 hours showed the carboy temperature to be pretty steady at 64-66F. Since then, it has ranged from 60-70F. After work each day, I've hit it with some heat from a carboy wrap, and then allowed to cool overnight. I'll do this for the remainder of the week. Then allow to sit a week before transferring to secondary.

  • 10# Maris otter
  • 1# Victory
  • 1# Caramel 60L
  • 1# Belgian aromatic
  • 0.75# Caramel 120L
  • 0.5# Chocolate malt
  • 0.25# Roasted barley
  • 0.75 oz Chinook (11.6%, pellet) (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Willamette (5.3%, pellet) (15 min)
  • 8 oz Black strap molasses (10 min)
  • 1 t Irish moss (10 min)
  • 0.5 t Yeast nutrient (10 min)
  • 0.5 oz Willamette (5.3%, pellet) (5 min)
  • Wyeast 1469 W. Yorkshire Ale (2 liter yeast starter)
Target OG: 1.064
Target FG: 1.016
Target ABV: 6.27%
Target IBU: 31.5
Efficiency: 75%

  • Mash in 6 gal 50/50 filter and RO water @ 163F
  • Stabilize and rest @ 153F (60 min)
  • Mash out @ 168F
  • Batch sparge 4 gal 50/50 filtered and RO water (10 min)
  • Boil (60 min)
  • Chill to 70F and pitch
  • Ferment 64-68F (2 wks)
  • Split batch, half on bourbon staves, half secondary (2 wks)
  • First runnings: 4.25 gal @ 1.063
  • Pre-boil: 7.5 gal @ 1.050
  • OG: 1.064
4/7/2014: Split 4 Old Sugar Distillery whiskey staves and added 2 oz Makers Mark to refresh and sanitize them. Will add to half the brown in a 3 gallon carboy and condition a few weeks.

"Kollasch" Kolsch
#28 - 6.25 gal

One can only drink so many big, bold ales -- especially during summer. This kolsch aims to be light and refreshing. Inspired by articles on brewing this style by Beersmith and Brew Your Own, and a recipe on Norther Brewer.

Since brewing, this kolsch has fermented very aggressively in the ambient air temperature of my basement, 59-62F. Good thing Jeff brought his 6.5 gallon carboy and blow-off tube, or I'd be cleaning yeast off my ceiling once again. I plan to just let this one go for two weeks, before racking to secondary and keeping as cool as possible in my basement for a few weeks to get it as clear as possible before bottling.

Hoping this will be one to share with all the non-beer drinkers. (Those that I allow to hang out with me.)

  • 10.5# Pilsner malt (Best Malz)
  • 0.75# Vienna (Briess)
  • 0.75# Munich 10L (Briess)
  • 2.5 oz Spalt (3.2%, pellet) (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Saaz (3.0%, pellet) (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Spalt (3.2%, pellet) (15 min)
  • 1 t Irish moss (10 min)
  • 0.5 t Yeast nutrient (10 min)
  • Wyeast 2565 Kolsch (1.5 liter yeast starter)
Target OG: 1.049
Target FG: 1.012
Target ABV: 4.8%
Target IBU: 29.6
Efficiency: 75%

  • Mash in 6 gal 50/50 filtered and RO water @ 126F
  • Stabilize and rest @ 120F (20 min)
  • Rest @ 150F (30 min)
  • Rest @ 158F (30 min)
  • Batch sparge 4 gal 50/50 filtered and RO water (10 min)
  • Boil (60 min)
  • Chill to 64F and pitch
  • Ferment 60-64F (2 wks)
  • Secondary @ 60F (2 wks)
  • First runnings: 1.060
  • Pre-boil: 1.040
  • OG: 1.049

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Smarch Maibock [secondary]

Racking date: March 17, 2014

Following a brief, 48 hour diacetyl rest at the ambient air temperature upstairs (~64F), I racked the maibock to a pail and set in my frigged garage to lager for the next several weeks.

The air temperature in my garage will likely swing wildly with the late winter/weak spring that we're having. Temperatures so far have ranged from ~30F to 48F. I hope to keep it within this range for 4 weeks.


  • 3/8 oz crystal (3.8%, pellet) (secondary)


  • FG: 1.019
  • Vol: 5 gal

A quick taste test of the flat maibock yielded exciting results: Malty goodness, ending clean and dry. No detectable diacetyl or other esters to cloud the crisp, lager flavor. A few weeks in the cold, and this baby is ready to roll!

Tom's Pumpkin Ale [bottled]

Bottle date: March 14, 2014


  • 95 g corn sugar
  • 1.5 c water
Desired CO2: 2.3 vol (4.75 gal @ 60F)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Smarch Maibock

Brew date: March 1, 2014
#26 - 5.5 gal

Bocks. I love them. Pretty much the only thing to like about February and March. (Lousy Smarch weather!) They have the alcohol backbone to stand up to Mother Nature (whose been a real b!tch this year).


So, after a weekend downing a few tankards at the Essen Haus and then again at Capital Brewery's Bockfest, I had a taste for more. Thankfully Coincidentally, the weather forecast continues to look dismal (read: cold) for the weeks ahead, so I decided to make the best of a bad winter and try to cram in a late season maibock.

[One more thing before I forget: Krombacher's Bock. Really really good. Had it at the Essen Haus. Delicious, on the darker side, with a little more burned caramel flavor than most bocks. Also a little lower ABV, so it didn't knock me on my ass. (I saved that for the Paulaner Salvator Dopplebock.)]

A few notes about the brew day. It was a crisp, snowy day. Roughly 10F outside, 20F in the garage. Beautiful, no doubt, if you were watching from the window. But, sadly, I'm over it by this time of year.

I'm continuing to use a 50-50 RO/filtered tap split for all of my water based on my reading of Madison's hard water supply. I believe I lost a little grain (maybe 4 oz) when I was at the Wine and Hop Shop and failed to push the milling bucket all the way back.

I set out about 10 gal of water in my garage overnight to nearly freeze, in order to quickly cool the wort post-boil. Use a large Rubbermaid tub and a cooler to do this. Chilling to 60F probably took 20-30 min.

The maibock has been sitting in my laundry room with the door closed to maintain a pretty consistent air temperature of 55F. I placed the carboy in a tub and filled it with a few gallons of cold water. Then covered the carboy with an old shirt. As the water slowly wicks up the shirt and evaporates, it should help maintain the fermentation temperature. Sitting on the floor, my carboy temperature strip reads 52-54F. I'll keep it there for two weeks before checking the gravity. If it's close, I'll rack to secondary, toss in my final addition of hops and lager in my garage for a month. Hopefully by then the temperature will be consistently in the 30-40F range.


  • 13 lb Pilsner malt (German)
  • 1 lb Aromatic malt (Belgian)
  • 1 lb Rye malt
  • 0.5 lb Caramel wheat malt (Thomas Fawcett)
  • 0.5 lb Munich malt 10L (Briess)
  • 0.5 lb Vienna malt (Best Malz)
  • 0.25 lb Carapils (Briess)
  • 2 oz German Hallertau (4.1%, pellet) (60 min)
  • 1 oz German Hallertau (4.1%, pellet) (15 min)
  • 1 t Irish moss (15 min)
  • 0.5 oz Saaz (3.0%, pellet) (5 min)
  • 0.5 oz Crystal (3.8%, pellet) (secondary)
  • Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager - 2 pack yeast starter, 2/25/14
  • 5 gal RO water, 5 gal filtered tap water
Target OG: 1.068
Target FG: 1.017
Target ABV: 6.7%
Target IBU: 30

  • Heat 6 gal strike water to 130F
  • Mash in and rest @ 122F (30 min)
  • Heat and rest @ 154F (60 min)
  • Mash out @ 168 (10 min)
  • Batch sparge 4 gal (10 min)
  • Boil (60 min)
  • Chill to 62F and pitch
  • Ferment at 52-54F (ambient air temp: 55-59F) (2 wks)
  • Secondary and lager (4-6 wks)
  • First runnings: 3.5 gal @ 1.088
  • Pre-boil: 7.5 gal @ 1.060
  • OG: 1.068

Monday, February 24, 2014

Poutin' Stout Jr [bottled]

Bottle date: Feb. 23, 2014

FG: 1.016

Great roasty aroma. Silky mouthfeel from the lactose, but dry with coffee and burned brownie flavors. Clear, ruddy black-brown color.

  • 56 g corn sugar
  • 1.25 c water
Desired CO2: 2.2 vol (3 gal @ 60F)

Lionel Hutz Stout ("Brownest of the brown liquors")

Conditioned in secondary on five split whiskey staves from Old Sugar Distillery for 20 days.

  • 47 g corn sugar
  • 1 c water
Desired CO2: 2.1 vol (2.75 gal @ 60F)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

“Polar Vortex" Saison Blackberry: Tasting Notes

Pours nice, perfect carbonation. First thing I'm struck by is the purple-pink head. The body is black to blood-red purple in color. Very wine-like, almost like a pinot noir.

Blackberry, cabernet, even sherry-like notes, dry, some funkiness from that Belgian strain.

Smooth and silky, with tart blackberry right up front. Nice dryness. Some tangyness, some funk, but overall very slight. But the blackberry is the real star here. As I said, perfect carbonation, which keeps the flavors effervescent.

Totally unlike anything I've brewed thus far. At first, the blackberry was so forward that it threw me. But, as the beer warmed and after a few more sips, I found myself really liking the departure. Dry and tart, but with enough subtle sweetness and warm flavor to bring balance. I would definitely brew this one again.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

“Tom's" Pumpkin Ale

Brew date: Jan. 26, 2014
#25 - 5 gal
It's nothing pretty, but chilling by a sink is a breeze.

My father-in-law received the gift of homebrewing from a friend -- a pumpkin beer kit -- but no equipment with which to brew, ferment, or bottle. So he left it to me. We were all set to spend the day brewing together, but he had to cancel on account of the godawful weather we're (still) having this winter.

Yet, we must leave no beer behind.

Even though it was disappointing that I couldn't illustrate my homebrewing hobby obsession to Tom -- I suppose I can come off as a little crazy about beer making -- it was kind of fun working on my kitchen stove again with only a partial mash and some malt extract. Not freezing my ass off outside was definitely a nice change of pace.

I altered the kit recipe slightly. Since Tom had the kit for sometime before I was able to use it, I decided to add some aromatic malt, and threw in about a pound of 2-row to up the starch conversion in the pumpkin. I also added a 15 minute hop addition and held off from pouring in the malt extract until about 30 minutes into the boil in order to increase the bittering from the tettnanger.

On the whole, it was a relaxing brew day. Chilling the wort to pitching temperature was a snap with the sink nearby. Again, the good old days. Since then, it's been fermenting at about 64/68F each day.

  • 1 lb Pumpkin pie mix, canned
  • 1.25 lb 2-row malt (Briess)
  • 1 lb Aromatic malt
  • 1 lb Caramel 60L
  • 7 lbs  LME (30 min)
  • 1.5 oz Tettnanger (pellet) (60 min)
  • 0.25 oz Mt. Hood (6.1%, pellet) (15 min)
  • 1 t Irish moss (15 min)
  • White Labs WLP008 East Coast Ale yeast starter
Target OG: 1.064
Target FG: 1.016
Target ABV: 6.27%
Target IBU: 28

  • Mash 3.5 gal water @ 155F
  • Sparge 1 gal water @ 168F
  • Boil 60 min
  • Chill to 72F, add 1 gal cold water to fermenter, and pitch yeast
  • Ferment @ 64-68F
  • Mash @ 1.027
  • Pre-boil 5 gal @ 1.023
  • Post-boil 4 gal @ 1.079
  • OG 1.065

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Poutin' Stout Jr

Brew date: Jan. 20, 2014
#24 - 6.5 gal

Prepping a stout for St. Paddy's Day. It won't be an "Irish" dry stout, but rather one that is (hopefully) both semi-sweet and darkly rich. Having never worked with lactose and just read about cold-steeping dark grains, I can only guess.

This brew takes some inspiration from AHA's Triple-X and Chai Milk Stout recipes, with hopes of submitting this to a local competition in March. In the meantime, I'll split the batch and secondary half of it on some whiskey barrel staves from the Old Sugar Distillery -- great local rum and whiskey if you're in the Madison area.

A smoother brew day overall, with one exception: During sparging, one hose came loose and sprayed wort every.where. I can't wait for warmer weather to fine tune my set up, and better prepare the garage for beer making.

  • 11 lbs Maris Otter
  • 1 lb Chocolate malt
  • 0.75 lb Flaked barley
  • 0.75 lb Roasted barley (cold steeped)
  • 0.5 lb Black malt (cold steeped)
  • 0.5 oz Columbus (16.3%, pellet) (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Magnum (14.3%, pellet) (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz UK Goldings (5.0%, pellet) (30 min)
  • 0.5 lb Lactose powder (15 min)
  • 1 t Irish moss (15 min)
  • Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale yeast starter
Target OG: 1.058
Target FG: 1.015
Target ABV: 5.76%
Target IBU: 49

  • Cold-steep roasted barley and black malt in 3.5 qts water, 36 hrs before brew day. Strain and add steeping wort to boil 15 min before flame out. Add bag of steeped grain to mash, but remove before mash out. Doing so to help raise the acidity of the mash, but pulling before risk of tannin extraction during mash out.
  • Mash in 5 gal @ 152F for 60 min
  • Mash out @ 168F for 10 min
  • Sparge 4.5 gal for 10 min
  • Boil 60 min
  • Add steeped wort 15 before end of boil
  • Chill to 68F and pitch yeast
  • Ferment 66F for 36 hrs, raise to 68F after peak fermentation
  • First runnings: 1.069
  • Second runnings: 1.028
  • Steeped wort: 1.035
  • Pre-lactose: 1.055
  • OG: 1.058
  • Use 50/50 RO and filtered water

Saturday, January 25, 2014

“Poor Lyla" Belgian IPA [bottled]

Bottle date: Jan. 23, 2014
5.25 gal

Superb citrus, piny hop aroma, very bitter. Too bitter to really taste the Belgian characteristics of the yeast. Some breadiness in the aftertaste. Nice golden clarity, very slight haze. Hoping the hoppiness will recede slightly and open up to the Belgian fruitiness.

  • 108 g corn sugar
  • 1.5 c water
Desired CO2: 2.3 vol (5.25 gal @ 60F)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

“Poor Lyla" Belgian IPA [dry hop]

Dry hop date: Jan. 6, 2014

Added directly to the fermentor. Looking to add that nice grapefruit, citrus hop flavor and aroma to the slightly bready, Belgian-y IPA that I have now.

  • 1.5 oz Saaz (7.1% A) (pellet)
  • 1 oz Cascade (3.0% A) (pellet)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

“Poor Lyla" Belgian IPA

Brew date: Dec. 23, 2013
My office window for the day.
#23 - 6.5 gal

A beautiful, snowy brew day, but one beset by problems.

Lesson number one: Don't leave your pump outside during the winter. Mine froze, so I was forced to do some heavy lifting to transfer the wort between kettles during the sparge. No spillage, thankfully.

Lesson number two: Get a handle on efficiency. I was way off on this batch. Looking for an original gravity of 1.077, but came in at just over 1.060. What happened? That's less than 60% efficiency! In the future, I'll be doing an iodine test to check for starch conversion of the mash. I'll also give my batch sparge a little longer to sit. Maybe 15 min. Still not sure how my calculations were so far off the mark...

Lesson three: ALWAYS use a blow off tube the first 48 hours of fermentation. If you don't, you'll scare the piss out of your brother-in-law's dog when the airlock inevitably gets clogged, blows off the carboy and hits the ceiling like a gunshot. Needless to say, I was wiping yeast off my basement ceiling, while everyone else was cleaning the urine out of the carpet. Sorry, Lyla, this one's for you.
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  • 9.5 lb belgian pilsner malt
  • 6.5 lb briess pale ale malt
  • 0.5 lb aromatic malt
  • 0.5 lb caramel 60L malt
  • 1 t gypsum (pre-boil)
  • 2 t Irish moss (10 min)
  • 1 lb candi sugar (5 min)
  • 1 oz cascade (7.1% A) (FWH)
  • 0.5 oz saaz (3.0% A) (FWH)
  • 0.5 oz columbus (16.3% A) (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz centennial (8.7% A) (45 min)
  • 1 oz cascade (7.1% A) (15 min)
  • 1.5 oz saaz (3.0% A) (1 min)
  • Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes starter
Jan. 6, 2014
  • 1 oz cascade (7.1% A) (dry hop)
  • Apple popsicles.
  • 1.5 oz saaz (3.0% A) (dry hop)
Target OG: 1.077
Target FG: 1.019
Target ABV: 7.65%
Target IBU: 70

  • Mash in 6 gal water @ 156F
  • Rest @ 145F (60 min)
  • Heat to 155F and rest (15 min)
  • Mash out @ 168F (10 min)
  • First runnings: 3 gal wort
  • Sparge 4.5 gal
  • Second runnings: 4.5 gal wort
  • Total: 7.5 gal wort
  • Boil 60 min
  • First runnings: 3 gal @ 1.070
  • Second runnings: 4.5 gal @ 1.031
  • Pre-boil: 7.5 gal @ 1.045
  • Post-boil: 6.5 gal @ 1.060
  • Added 0.25 lb candi sugar to bump OG to 1.063

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

“Polar Vortex" Saison [bottled]

Bottle date: Jan. 1, 2014

Saison - 3 gal

  • 58 g corn sugar
  • 1.5 c water
Desired CO2: 2.2 vol (3 gal @ 63 'F)

Saison with blackcaps - 2.85 gal
  • 56 g corn sugar
  • 1.5 c water
Desired CO2: 2.2 vol (2.85 gal @ 63 'F)

“Hackett" Irish Red [bottled]

Bottle date: Dec. 18, 2013
  • 80g corn sugar
  • 1.5 c water
Desired CO2: 2.1 vol (4.5 gal @ 64 'F)
FG: 1.016