Beer Name:    Summit Steamin' Wife Lager

(5th time making this beer; 2nd time AG; 1st time using all Summit hops)


 Click on pic for larger version.


Grains:        10 lbs Rahr two row pale

                    .5 lbs Crystal 55L


Hops:          .25 oz Summit 18.1 % AA  60 min

                    .25 oz Summit 18.1 % AA  45 min

                    .5 oz Summit 18.1 % AA  40 min

                    .25 oz Summit 17.7% AA 10 min (leftover from earlier Ten buck #2)

                    <1 oz homegrown whole Centennial  ~2 min in hop bag


Yeast:         Wyeast California Common 2112.   Made 2 pint starter 2 days prior.


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                          01/06/07                        01/16/07                                02/20/07

Gravity:                      1.053                             1.015                                    1.012

% Alcohol:                  7                                    2                                           1.9

% Sugar:                    13.8                                4                                           3

Temp of reading:         64                                 60                                         60



Thank the Lord I finally hit a TG right on.  It's been about 4 batches that I haven't gotten there.  This time, I had Juno from NB help me with the crush to make sure I was getting an adequate crush.  I think it proves that some of the problems I have been having are due to an inadequate crush.

- 13 qts -> 165.   Held at 153 for 60 min.

- *** Stirred at 30 min.  Did this help? ***

- down to 150 after 60 min so that is not bad at all.

- added 7 qts boiling -> 157.  Held 10 min.

- collected 3.2 gallons

- added 3 gallons of 190 -> 170.  held 10 min.

- had about 6.3 gallons in brewpot.

- first time doing a pre-boil gravity check.  once calibrated to 60 degrees it was 1.044.  I knew at that point that I was going to get around 1.050 after some water would boil off.

- dead on 5 gallons into fermenter, and I hit my TG of 1.53 for 70% efficiency.  Man was I happy.

- it is fermenting now (2nd day) at 58 deg.

01/16/07   Pungent, grapefruit aroma.  Makes me think of Summit hops but I used Centennial for the aroma.  I think the Summit hops also are contributing to the aroma, at least at this stage.  Fairly cloudy still.  Tangy, hop flavor.  Finishes with some lingering hop prickle on the tongue.  Sweetness is just enough.  Good thing it is not more bitter.  Unique flavor from Summit hops.  Pretty good so far.  Clearing and a few weeks of aging will do it good.

02/20/07    Very clear.  Aroma was less pungent and more of a nice mix of hop and malt.  Crisp, clean flavor.  Nicely bitter but not overly so.  Summit hop character has mellowed with its month of laagering at ~ 35 degrees.  Great balance.

04/07/07  Took above pic and some tasting notes.  The aroma is slightly minty with a hint of black pepper.  Not sure how much comes from the dry hop Cascade.  Seems more like a Summit hop aroma.  The clean malt flavor lets the hop character come through.  The hop taste reminds me of tart sour apple, zest of lemon, and grapefruit rind (trying to avoid saying "citrus, grapefruit").  The finish has a mild bitterness that lingers with a touch of piney resin.  This hop is a little more assertive than some.  As a single hop addition it is good, but it might serve a pale ale or IPA better as a part of multiple hop additions.  But now I have a good idea of what the Summit hop tastes like.

- got an article in BYO magazine for this recipe.   check it out here.




Beer Name:     Pilsner 2007


Click pic for larger version.


Grains:        10 lbs Durst Pils 1.6L

                    .25 lbs Briess Carapils  1.4L

                    .25 lbs Durst Vienna  3.8L


Hops:        3 oz Saaz 3.4% AA  60 min

                  1 oz Saaz 3.4% AA  15 min

                  1 oz Saaz 3.4% AA  2 min


Yeast:        Wyeast 2001 Urquell    2 pint starter made 3 days prior


Misc:          1 tsp Irish Moss  15 min


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                          1/28/07                        02/12/07                                  04/24/07

Gravity:                     1.054                            1.015                                       1.010

% Alcohol:                 7.1                               2                                              1.2

% Sugar:                    13.6                             4                                               2.5

Temp of reading:        60                               60                                             60



- 12 qts 162 -> 149.   60 min.  Stirred once at 30 min.  Temp after 60 min: 147

- 2 gallons boiling -> 166.  10 min.

- collect 3.3 gallons

- added 3 gallons 190 -? 175.  added 1 qt cool water -> 169.  10 min.

- collected ~ 6.8 gallons in brewpot. 

- boiled 15 min before adding hops to boil off some volume

- gravity of pre-boil wort check, calibrated to 60 deg was 1.043, so I knew I was on track.

- 4.8 gallons into fermenter.

- filtered all the hops with a sanitized grain bag over the funnel.  This was a pain in the butt, but I want this beer to be as clear as possible.  Also, I am going to re-use the yeast in my Helles and wanted less hop residue. 

- topped off with yeast starter to 5 gallons, so I won't end up with 5 gallons in the end but that is ok.

- pitched starter.  Was at 52 degrees next morning and just starting to ferment.

- Things I have done differently this year in light of last year's results.  1) altered grain bill to be lighter in color.  2) mashed at 149 to try and make it more fermentable (lower FG is the goal).  3) used Irish Moss and the filter bag to try and make it as clear as possible.  4) eliminated malto dextrin so less unfermentable sugars in wort. 

02/11/07  Wanted to check on this.  It has been at 60 degrees for diacetyl rest for 3 days.  Bubbling somewhat often.  Was down to 1.015.  I want it to ideally be 1.010-1.012, so I added 3 drops of liquid Beano.  This might help it drop a bit more. 

02/23/07  Gravity down to 1.012.  Beano has helped some I think.  Maybe it will drop another point or two.  Taste was really nice, pretty crisp and hoppy.  Color might be lighter than last year too.  Pretty clear already.  Moved it to cold room to condition for a while at as cool of temps as possible.

04/24/07  Pretty clear with a nice straw, light copper color.  Aroma was mostly dissipated by the time I drank it.  Noticeable hop presence but somewhat rounded.  Light malt backbone.  Clean.  Perhaps more like the real PU which was part of the experiment this year - change a few things and see if it makes a difference.  The Beano has helped nicely and dropped the gravity to just where I wanted it.

08/13/07  I've been waiting to do the taste comparison and picture until my beer got clear.  It is clearer, but it is still not super clear, just like last year.  I thought I should do the side by side before it ran dry.

Pilsner Urquell - color is very close to mine.  Slightest bit more orange color.  Very clear.  Slight skunk aroma at first but that faded into a mostly malty aroma.  Less hop aroma than mine.  Thin mouthfeel, almost prickly carbonation.  Dry hop finish lingers.

Homebrew -  Not quite sparkling clear but getting there (can't really tell from pic).  Soft Saaz hop aroma is still there.  Some malt in aroma.  Slightly more viscous in mouthfeel.  It has a hop bitterness but with a good malt balance, even with FG of 1.010.  Overall it is more balanced than PU.  I would not want to make mine any drier.  Very pleasant peppery/mint bitterness (use some mint in a Pils?)




Beer Name:    Smoked Helles  (based on last year's Helles with some modification)


Click on pic for larger version.


Grains:        7 lbs Durst Pils 1.6L

                    2 lbs Weyermann Smoked 2L

                    1 lb Durst Munich 8.3L

                    .25 lbs Briess Caramel 10L (no longer carry Light Crystal)

                    .25 lbs Dingemans Aromatic 19L


Hops:        .75 oz Spalt 4.7%AA  60 min

                  .5 oz Hallertau Hersbrucker 3.3% AA  60 min

                  .25 oz Spalt 4.7%AA  2 min

                  .5 oz Hallertau Hersbrucker 3.3% AA  2 min


Yeast:         Yeast slurry from above Pilsner (Wyeast 2001 Urquell)


Misc:         1 tsp Irish Moss 15 min


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                          02/18/07                       02/27/07                                03/29/07

Gravity:                      1.053                            1.012                                    1.011

% Alcohol:                 7                                    1.9                                        1.7

% Sugar:                    13.5                               3.5                                        3

Temp of reading:        60                                 65                                          60



I am trying to approximate Schlenkerla Smoked Helles.  However, I heard they do not use any smoked malt in their beer.  It gets smoky from being made through the same equipment as their great Rauchbiers.   I decided to try a couple pounds of smoked malt this year and see if it gives it any detectable smoke flavor.  I am aiming for too little as opposed to too much.

- 13 qts 163 deg -> 150.  60 min

- 8 qts boiling -> 163.  10 min.

- collected 3.5 gallons

- added 3.1 gallons 190 -> 174.

- few ice cubes -> 169.  10 min.

- 7 (?!) gallons in brew pot.  Not sure how that happened.

- 5 gallons in fermenter

Was fermenting immediately due to pitching 1/4 gallon of yeast slurry.  Next morning krausen was nearly in blow off tube.  52 degrees.

02/23/07  Mostly done fermenting.  Moved upstairs for diacetyl rest for few days.

02/27/0   Still cloudy, but a light straw color. It is darker than my Pils. The taste is primarily like last years Helles, mostly malty and a nice clean lager taste (although it is not super clean or clear yet, but it will get better). However, there is a faint black pepper note. That is the smoked malt.  I did not want to over do it so that is good.  Next time I make this I might use 3 lbs smoked malt instead of 2.  That is a 50% increase and might make it a bit more like Schlenkerla Helles Lager. So far so good.

03/29/07  I was planning on kegging the Pilsner tonight but I noticed that Beano was still working its magic.  I decided to let that continue and keg this.  This one is pretty clear, and a light yellow color with a hint of orange.  The sample sat our for hours before I tasted it so there was not much aroma.  Has a clean Helles taste with just a hint of smoke flavor.  It just just barely there in a slightly peppery finish.  It is definitely not too smoky which was one of my goals.  I will see how it ends up in the next few months but perhaps the grain bill could include 3 lbs of smoked malt.  It's very nice so far.

07/09/07  Took above pic and did side by side tasting.

Homebrew:  Clear, actually clearer than S.  Straw color with a deep orange tint.  Get that color from smoked base malt?  Almost pungent malty aroma, sort ofwarm orange peel.  From the hops?  The smoke flavor has mellowed quite a bit and comes in mostly at the finish.  Probably should have compared earlier.  It is barely detectable now and I know it had a little bit more than it does now.  Fairly normal light German lager with a hint of smoke.

Schlenkerla:  Some suspended particles in beer, otherwise clear (no hazy).  Straw color.  Slight biscuit sweet malty flavor with similar hop bitterness (not much) as homebrew.  Some slight "bite" or bitterness from smoke flavor, and finishes with lingering touch of smokiness.  Almost a mild peppery finish, very subtle but nice.  Better than mine.  :)  As it warms the smoke flavor comes through a little more.

->  I suppose one more lb of smoked malt could be used in a recipe like this to get a little more smokiness in it, but it was very enjoyable as it was. 



Beer Name:    PLambic  (made up recipe based on various readings)


Pic taken Feb 2010.  Click on pic for larger version.




Click pic for larger version

Here is the beginning of the pellicle in June 2007.  See notes below for more pics.




Click pic for larger version.   I racked a couple gallons onto some fruit.  02/10/08



Grains:        7 lbs Dingemans Pale two row  3.2 L

                     3.5 lbs Weyermann's Pale Wheat 1.5L

                     .5 lbs Simpson Medium Crystal 55L


Hops:         2 oz Hallertau whole flower hop.  aged at room temp for month and then baked at 200 deg for about 2 hours (60 min)


Yeast:         Wyeast 3278 Lambic blend


Misc:          5 oz malto dextrin


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Bottle Date:


Date:                           03/27/07                      10/14/08                                 03/20/09

Gravity:                       1.058                           1.004                                      1.004 (? - didn't take reading.  didn't figure it would have changed)

% Alcohol:                  7.5                                .5                                            .5

% Sugar:                     15                                 2.5                                         2.5

Temp of reading:         62                                65                                           60



So it begins!  If this works out at all I could see making one of these a year and building up quite a supply.

I know you can just use extract to make these because they are not about the quality of the wort, per se, but I like doing all grain and that is how they do it in Belgium, no?

- 13 qts 169 -> 156.  60 min.  (mashed higher to provide more unfermentables)

- 6 qts boil -> 168.  10 min.

- collect 3.2 gallons

- add 3+ gallons 186 -> 173.  few ice cubes -> 168.

- have 6.5 gallons total.

- just threw whole flower hops in and filtered them out later.

- let cool overnight.  did not use wort chiller.

- about 30 hours after finishing boil, siphoned into new plastic bucket and pitched Lambic Blend.

- had water sitting in new bucket for a couple days to possibly remove any new plastic flavor.

- got 5 gallons into fermenter but I wanted a little more volume.  Boil about 1.5 cups of DME in about 4 pints of water and added that (after cooling) to batch.  I think I have approximately 5.5 gallons now.  Gravity would not have changed that much because my additional wort was about the same gravity as the all grain wort.

04/03/07  First gravity sample.   1.019, 2.7, 6.  Murky.  Light brownish orange color. Aroma is yeasty and a bit of wheat.  Taste is at first sweet malt with some yeast, and slightly tart.  It is interesting that the aftertaste reminds me of my Sour Brown's aftertaste. There is no real sourness yet, but the possibility seems to be there.  It needs a ton more time, and probably some more critters.

04/08/07   - Made 2 pint starter with 1/2 cup extra light DME.   Ended with a little less than 2 pints.  I will add more wort over time when needed.  I might decant from time to time into the bucket as well.

- Added dregs of Boon Framboise.   (see pic).   Wiped down part of neck where dregs would be poured with a little paper towel wetted with Scotch.  The Boon Framboise is nicely tart.  The raspberry flavor comes through well, but is complex with the other sourness of the beer. 

- added the dregs from one of my Sour Brown bottles.

04/11/07  Added the dregs from Jolly Pumpkin La Roja (see pic).  I was going to taste this beer before adding the dregs, but it has a true farmhouse/biere de garde aroma and flavor.  It is musty, dry, with a hint of sourness (that last bit is why I decided to go ahead and add it).  It is not particularly sweet but these beers aren't supposed to be.  The dregs were so stuck I had to add a bit of my starter wort into the bottle, swirl it up, and then add it back in.

06/13/07  Swirled up the starter and added half of it to the beer.  Took above pic.

06/21/07  at 74 deg:  1.007, 1, 2.  Wow it has dropped!  Nice tangy, sour aroma.  Sourness coming in, tart, fairly dry due to the low gravity.  Tastes woody too but I used no wood.  So far I think it is coming along well. 

- Added dregs of 3 Fonteinen Oude Gueze (see pic) to the starter.

06/26/07  Added some Rodenbach (see pic) to the starter, but I don't think there was any yeast sediment.  I thought I'd try but I was surprised to see it was very clean and clear at the bottom, even after decanting all the beer out of the bottle.

07/06/07  Added dregs from Boon Oude Geuze to starter (see pic).  Wow that beer is really great.  It's just what you expect from a blended lambic, quite tart and sour and dry but really drinkable.   In a week or so I will swirl up the rest of the starter and dump it all into the bucket.  I hope it is not too late for the critters in the starter to add some effect.  I say that because the gravity is so low that there probably is not many sugars left to be consumed.  This is my first batch and a learning experience.  Maybe next time I should have the starter going a month or so before brewing. 

07/13/07   Added rest of starter to bucket and took a couple pics of the pellicle.  One Two

08/04/07   Moved from 75-80 upstairs to 70 deg basement.

09/04/07   1.004, .5, 1.1.  Wow that is low.  Good, tart sour smell.  Taste has a zing puckering sourness with dry finish.  Somewhat "oaky" (dry?)  On its way.  Could be more tart. 

02/10/08  Sure it has not been a full year, but I decided to add some to the fruit.  I had 3 lbs of cranberries (thanks Jerry) and 2 lbs of raspberries (thanks back yard).  I tried to rack about 1/2 gallon into each of the jugs for 1 gallon total for each fruit.  I also racked about 1 gallon into a carboy by itself so later I can compare it to the rest that is left on the trub, and see if racking it off the sediment makes it better or worse.

08/31/08  Bottled 9 bottles of the one gallon I had set aside (no fruit) from the rest.  I did that to see if it will be different from the beer that has stayed on the trub/critters for the longer amount of time.  Used 3 sugar tabs/bottle.

09/14/08  Sample from bucket.  Not very clear (due to being near top?)  Decent aroma.  More tartness in aftertaste than in middle.  Like a tangy taffy instead of the puckering I would prefer.  But for a homemade plambic made in plastic it is a fair approximation of the real thing.  I will leave it longer to see if it continues to get better.  Eventually I will have to rack to secondary to let it clear.

12/14/08  Racked lambic off the fruit.

01/18/09  Racked it again (still lots of sediment went with it when racking off).

03/20/09  Bottled both batches (fruit and straight) around this date.  Couple pics of bottled fruit lambic:  One  Two  I was a dolt and forgot I used cranberries instead of cherries.  So the bottles saying "kriek" should say "cranberry."  D'oh.  That's what happens when years pass between steps!   I primed all the fruit bottles (two gallons worth) with 3 carb tabs in each bottle.  But for the 2.6 gallons I used about 1/2 cup of table sugar.  I hope this is not too much.  I guess if they become over-carbonated in time I will have to take all the caps off, let breathe, and re-cap.  I can't even say what I think of the fruit lambics.  They were ok.  Time, carbonation, some chill, and a whole glass will tell me more how they turned out.

As for the straight lambic, it was clear and a little darker in color than I had hoped.  Light red color.  Smell = orange sweet tarts.  First taste is sweet and kind of musty.  Finished dry and with sharp tanginess.  At first I thought it was not what I wanted, but once I was used to it it was all right.  This seems to have more potent flavor than the 1 gallon I pulled off early.  I will do a side by side of those two one day (to see if leaving on the dregs for a longer time is a good or bad idea).  Time will tell if I am happy with the 2.6 gallons I left in the bucket all those months. 

02/21/10  Took above pic.  Couple things to note.  The larger number of bottles I bottled (the ones that stayed on the dregs longer) are starting to get a little too carbonated. I wonder if I over did the priming sugar a little.  One was a bit of a gusher (crap) and another one did not gush out but had a pronounced "pop."  I will have to keep an eye on those and maybe do something.  The picture above, though, is one of the bottles that is from the 1 gallon I pulled off early.  It has low carbonation.  It also is much less potent in its taste, so my experiment proved that if you leave the beer on the dregs longer it will get more sour, tart, and funky.





Beer Name:    Big Brew Belgian Wheat  (part of MN Homebrewers Big Brew event)


***  This beer was not brewed by me.  It was part of a 40 gallon boil.  I was only responsible from it after it was delivered into my fermenter.


Click pic for larger version.


Recipe for 40 Gallons


Grains:        Lots and lots of wheat malt (53%)

                    Quite a bit of two row pale ( ~ 40%)

                    Some Munich malt ( ~7%)


Hops:        Hallertau Hersbrucker boiled for a period of time


Yeast:        White labs 530 Abbey Ale yeast (see notes)



Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                          05/05/07                        skipped                                   05/18/07                              

Gravity:                       1.050                                                                           1.012

% Alcohol:                  6.6                                                                                1.8

% Sugar:                     12.5                                                                              3.5

Temp of reading:         64                                                                                65



05/05/07  I choose this over the IPA wort because I have a couple hoppy beers I want to brew in the near future and I thought I could use this for an easy summer wheat.  I choose this yeast for a couple reasons.  The main one is I am going to brew a Chimay Grand Reserve type beer and I thought I could use the yeast cake from this batch for that one.  I choose this particular Belgian strain because it is said to have less fruitiness than other strains.  I just pitched the White Labs tube and it is now in the basement beginning to ferment.

05/18/07   Cloudy, orange yellow, murky with yeast.  Banana aroma and sweet banana taste with slight Belgian yeast flavor in finish.  I think fermenting at a lower temp for this yeast strain (high 60's) helped minimize the Belgian characteristics it could impart.  This was my hope.  For only 13 days old, this is great.

06/22/07  This keg is going fast.  It is very drinkable and a greats summer beer.  The Belgian yeast flavor is there, but subdued thankfully.  It is not going to last long and I need to get some more beer brewed!



Wine Name:     Dandelion Wine  (hybrid recipe I made up from reading and from some advice on the NB forum)




Here is the picture page I will keep updating for this batch.    Click on pics for larger version.


Here is a Chop & Brew VIDEO that I am featured in about making dandelion wine.


There are a variety of wine racks for sale to store dandelion and other wines. Horizontal wine racks are the best option for wine storage in your home.




Recipe for One gallon (I made two gallons, so I doubled this)


- 2-3 qts dandelion flowers (heads only, remove as much green as possible.  I used 5 qts for 2 gallons)

- 2.5 lbs granulated sugar (2 cups = 1 lb)

- 1 lemon (zest and juice)

- 2 oranges (zest and juice)

- less than 1 gallon water (sugar takes up some volume)

- 1 tsp yeast nutrient

- 1 lb golden raisins (to be added near end of fermentation)

- yeast (I used 71B Narbonne)


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:     Rack to Thirdary:               Bottle Date:


Date:                          05/06/07                      06/11/07                            07/28/07                            01/28/08

Gravity:                      1.108                           see below                          see below                             1.039 

% Alcohol:                 14.5                                                                                                                   5.1

% Sugar:                     26                                                                                                                     10

Temp of reading:        75                                                                                                                     50




- picked dandelion heads

- put them in a pot with maybe around 1.5 gallons water

- added zest of fruit

- added yeast nutrient

- brought to simmering boil for 10 min

- near end of boil, added juice from fruit (or maybe right after boil was turned off)

- covered with lid and let sit for 5 hours.  Why 5 hours?  Because that was the time at night that I needed to get going on it and get to bed.  There are many ways to make this wine and this is just how I tried it this first time.

- poured mixture through colander/grain bag strainer into bucket.  pressed juice remaining in flowers with sanitized plate.  Collected 1.2 gallons.

- dissolved 5 lbs sugar in still-warm water.  Now I had 1.9 gallons!  I was aiming for 2 gallons total and I am glad I did not have more water from the boil.

- topped off to a little over 2 gallons.

- cooled down to about 80 with ice jugs on outside of bucket, pitched yeast. 

- took gravity reading and it was about where I wanted it, so I let it be.

05/13/07  chopped up 2 lbs of golden raisins and added to bucket.  Vigorous fermentation lasted for 5 min or so.

05/27/07  took gravity reading.  1.045,  6,  11.5.   Not as low as I want for the final gravity, so I purchased, rehydrated, and added another packet of 71B Narbonne yeast.

Aroma was some alcoholic and some kind of light vegetal smell probably from the flowers.  Very strong and sweet at this point.  Orange and raisin flavors come through.  Tasty but definitely needs to mellow.  It is 8.5% alc so that is ok, but I would like to see it ferment some more.  It will get smooth over time and I think turn out all right.

06/10/07  1.043, 5.8, 11.  Still has not gotten very low.  It's a milky straw color.  Taste is not bad but it is a little too sweet and it needs time to mellow. 

06/11/07  Racked it to two one-gallon jugs onto 1/2 tsp of yeast energizer.  I will see if that gets it going.  If not, I think the only thing left I can try is to aerate again.

06/29/07  1.035.  At least it is doing something.  Added 2 drops Beano per jug to see what happens.  I know this is a lot more than I would add for beer, but with this wine I would not care if it got really dry.  I can always sweeten it back to my taste.

07/23/07  1.036 or 1.037 (I have two one-gallon jugs and they might be slightly different gravities).  Doesn't look like it is fermenting any more even though I have been tipping them upside down once a week.  Taste is decent.  Needs time to mellow though.  Citrus, sweet, dandelion aroma?  Dandelion in taste too?  Hard to describe.  Medicinal/vegetal, hard to pinpoint.  Alc is probably up to 9% and that is pretty good, basically on the low end for a white wine.  Guess I will rack so it can clear and let it sit some more. 

07/28/07   Racked into another set of carboys leaving as much sediment behind as possible. 

01/28/08   It was a rare 40 degree day in January and I was home from work because I was sick.  The wine has a pleasant fragrant aroma, from the dandelions?  Or oranges or lemons, raisins?  Tastes very nice, sweet mostly, some light and delicate spice (flowers?) and some warming.  Will be better in 6 months but not bad now.  Have to say, I am pretty pleased with how it is coming along.   Kind of like a cross between a white wine and a mead.  Also, the alc % could be higher than the numbers provided because of the raisins used.  I am not sure but I imagine the % would have gone up by 1 or 2 % with 2lbs of raisins in 2 gallons.   So it might be 10 or 11% alc.





Beer Name:     Chimay Grand Reserve clone  (Beer Captured recipe)


Click on pic for larger version.



I split it into two 5-gallon carboys so I would not lose volume to blow off.  This pic was 24 hours after pitching the yeast cake from the Belgian Wheat.



Update:  The 2nd morning after pitching yeast I discovered the airlocks foaming over with krausen.   Geesh.  So I just took them out for now.  This shows that I would have lost quite a bit of beer if I had put it into one 6-gallon carboy. 



Click on pic for larger version.    More experimentation.  I made a brett starter from the bottom of a bottle of Orval and let it sit for month in the closet.



Click on pic for larger version.  I then took 1 lb of frozen raspberries and split it into two 1 gallon jugs.



Click on pic for larger version.  Then I racked 1 gallon into the two jugs and split the brett starter.




Grains:       14 lbs Dingemans Pils  1.6L

                    8 oz Dingemans Caramunich 47L

                    6 oz Dingemans Aromatic 19L

                    4 oz Dingemans Special B 147L

                    2 oz Simpsons Chocolate 412 L


Other Fermentables:

                    1 lb Dark Belgian Candy sugar (made from beets) 275L

                    .5 lb cane sugar


Hops:        .5 oz Yakima Magnum 14.4% AA  60 min

                  .5 oz Hallertau Hersbrucker 4.2% AA  15 min

                  .5 oz Perle 9% AA  2 min (recipe says Hallertau, but I had the above .5 oz Hallertau and this .5 oz Perle already on hand).      


Yeast:       White Labs 530 Abbey Ale (yeast cake from above Belgian Wheat)


Misc:        1/8 tsp Grains of Paradise (crushed)  15 min

                 1/8 tsp Grains of Paradise (crushed)  2 min



Brew Date:                Secondary:         Thirdary:      Bottle Date:


Date:                          05/26/07                      06/03/07             06/26/07        01/24/08

Gravity:                     1.089**                        1.028                    1.018            1.015

% Alcohol:                11.9                               3.8                        2.2               2

% Sugar:                   22                                  7.5                        4.5               4

Temp of reading:       60                                  70                        70                65


** Virtual gravity.  See below for explanation



- heated 19 qts.  doughed in at 165 -> 155.   Added ice cubes -> 150.  held 60 min

- added 1 tsp cinnamon for first time from a statement by Charlie Papazian that he does this and thinks it helps the beer keep better over time.

- after 1 hour, still at 150.

- collected 2.75 gallons

- added 3.75 ~ 190 -> 168.

- collected 6.5 gallons in brew pot total.

- cooled it to 70 degrees and took reading.  Was surprised to see it was only 1.076.  My pre-boil gravity was 1.060 and that seemed reasonable for 6.5 gallons.  So I am not sure why I did not have a higher gravity after the boil considering I added 1.5 lbs sugar.  The best explanation I can come up with is that I must have not boiled off the volume that I thought I was going to.  Since I am fermenting it in two 5-gallon carboys it is hard to know how much I ended up with.

I was not going to be happy with 1.076, so I made a mixture in about 20 oz of water of 1 lb Briess Golden Light DME and .5 lbs cane sugar.

So the virtual gravity would be:


+  9 pts from DME

+ 4.5 pts from .5 lb sugar

= 1.089.

I know this math is a little bit fuzzy, and that I actually have more than 5 gallons, but this will work.

06/03/07   Maybe transferred it a bit on the early side.  Still had about 1" krausen in each carboy.  However, there was SO much sludge and gun that I wanted to get the beer away from it and let the fermentation finish in the secondary.  Got about 5.2 gallons.  It is bubbling pretty actively still.  Lots of suspended yeast still, murky.  Aroma was alc and orange zest.  Sweet flavor, some Belgian yeast character.  Am I tasting the grains of paradise?  Alc warming.  Actually, not as strong in flavor as I expected.  Somewhat mild tasting except for the alc.   It is 8% alc at this point. 

06/22/07   70 deg:  1.018, 2.5, 4.8.   Good to see it fully fermented.  Now I have to decide to rack it again or not for longer carboy aging.  It carried over a bit of yeast into secondary.  No noticeable aroma.  Fairly clean smooth flavor, touch of spice, alc warmth.  Pretty good but I thought it would be a little more aggressive tasting. 

06/26/07  Racked it again to get it off the rest of the trub.  I want to bulk age it for a while and I figured this was a good idea.  I still have a full five gallons or just over in the carboy.  It tastes much better already!  Plum and raisin flavor with a citrus zest (grains of paradise?  yeast?) and some alcohol warmth.  After a few months I will bottle it.

07/28/07  Did above brett and raspberry stuff.

12/02/07  Bottled the 1 gallon of brett/raspberry beer in 10 bottles.  Added 3 Munton carb tabs to each bottle.  It tastes ok but nothing too sour or fruity.  Mostly it is funky/horse-blankety with some tartness from the raspberries being fermented.  I don't think it will be wonderful but hopefully it will at least be interesting, and maybe give me more ideas for future experiments.

01/24/08  Nicely clear going into the bottling bucket, but after I added the pack of S-05 ale yeast, the beer was kind of cloudy going into the bottles.  Hopefully it will settle out in the bottle and clear beer can be poured off.  Light brown, red color.  Aroma is a bit of alc with some sweetness.  Fairly complex flavor.  First malt, then some spiciness from yeast and maybe grains of paradise.  Definite alcohol warmth in finish.  Carbonation will lessen the alc warmth as well as will time.  No off flavors.  Somewhat thin on mouthfeel for beer this strong (from sugar?)  needs to age.  Hopefully it will carbonate.  Used 5/8 cup of priming sugar.  Bottled 4 gallons.

11/16/08  Took top pic of Chimay showdown and these notes.  Mine:  Clear, malt aroma, some alc.  Decent carbonation.  Little bit more warming in throat than original but balanced.  Not unpleasant.  Candied fruit, figs, finishes with yeast bite and alc warmth.  Mine is less brown with more of an orange or red tint.  Mine leaves lace.  Overall, alc in mine could be tuned down.  More age?  Different recipe or fermentation temp?   Chimay:  some chunks of sediment.  Malt aroma, more carbonated than mine.  Smoother taste than mine.  Sweet, spices from yeast (?), some yeast flavor, clean finish, slightly warming.  Candy (?) aroma.  Dark Belgian candi sugar?  Overall a little better than mine.

- Conclusion - this recipe actually makes a decent approximation of Chimay Grand Reserve, more so than I was expecting even.  A blind taste test with friends who have not done it yet would be fun to see what is said. 

01/27/09  This beer did not place in the 2009 Mashout Strong Dark Belgian category.  Scoresheets:  One  Two  Three





Beer Name:    RYE IPA (based on different Hop Rod Rye clone recipes (BYO Sept 2004, Zymurgy March/April 2002), and with a modified hop bill).


Click on pic for larger version.



Grains:        8 lbs Rahr two row pale  1.4-2L

                    2.5 lbs Weyermann rye Malt 3.5L

                    1.5 lbs flaked rye  2L

                    1.5 lbs Durst Munich 8.3L

                    .75 lbs Briess CaraPils 1.4L

                    .75 Rahr white wheat

                    2 oz Dingemans debittered black 515L


Hops:          .5 oz Amarillo 9.7% AA  - first wort hop

                    .75 oz Chinook 11.5% AA  60 min

                    .5 oz Centennial 9.5% AA 30 min

                    .5 oz Amarillo   aroma

                    .25 oz Chinook aroma

                    1 oz Amarillo dry hop

                    .5 oz Centennial dry hop 


Yeast:         Wyeast PacMan.  I saved a smack pack from Nov 2006.  It swelled up just fine and smelled normal.  Made 2 pint yeast starter 24 hours prior.


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                          06/17/07                    06/26/07                                    07/28/07

Gravity:                      1.065                          1.014                                        1.012

% Alcohol:                  8.5                             1.8                                            1.6

% Sugar:                    16                               3.8                                            3.1

Temp of reading:        72                               70                                            70



- 19 qts of 168 -> 157.   ice -> 153.   after 60 min, still 153.

- 1 tsp cinnamon in strike water

- did not do mash out but.... major stuck sparge.  Tried blowing back into tube, no luck.

- got 1 lb rice hulls and stirred them in.  Added some water as they soaked up a bit.   Still getting stuck.  Argh.

- scooped entire mash tun contents into brew pot.

- cleaned out mash tun.

- heated brew pot to around 165 stirring very well.  scooped back into mash tun.

- still had poor sparge but eventually got 6.5 gallons into brew pot.

- not clearest wort ever but hopefully it will settle and clear.

- Pre boil gravity was 1.056 at 75 deg so I knew I would at least get into the 1.060's.

- ended with 5.25 gallons of wort in fermenter.  A little under TG of 1.072 but probably due to all the mash problems.  close enough.

- fermenting now in mid 60's (in 70 degree room).   Trying to keep as close down to 60 as I can but it is vigorous and into blow off tube.  Using ice jugs put under shirt around carboy.

- this was the most difficult brew day I have ever had, but it was never too maddening.  It was just filled with problems that needed to be solved and that in itself is kind of fun, well, if you can solve them.

06/26/07  Some grassy hop aroma (and now I am dry hopping with 1.5 oz).  Dark orange/light brown color, not very clear yet.  Complex bitter flavor (first wort hopping and 3 kettle additions).  Hop bitterness in beginning, middle, and finish.  Malt flavor is different than a 100% barley beer, almost with a touch of lemony character or tang (from rye?)  Aging will help and mellow it a bit.  Carbonation will disperse the bitterness a bit.  Quite good so far. 

07/28/07  Red orange color.  Alcohol and hop aroma.  Semi-sweet flavor with hop bitterness.  Fairly strong and no lingering finish.  Decent for now.  Could be sweeter?  We will see how it is in a month or so. 

09/10/07  Took above pic.  Darker than last year.  Not as clear, either.  Good hop aroma, even still (it was dry hopped).  Taste is getting better.  Mostly bitter and somewhat dry at end.  Not totally unbalanced but last year's (Denny Conn Rye IPA) is a better recipe for this kind of beer.  This is decent though, just not the better of the two.  The other one is slightly sweeter, more balanced, and in my opinion better.




Beer Name:      Organic Pale Ale    original recipe


Saving the Earth and biking the ingredients home.  :)  Here is a pic of the squeezed, used, homegrown hops.



Click on pic for larger version.



Grains:       8.5 lbs Briess Organic two row pale 1.8L

                    1 lb Briess Organic Munich 10L

                    .5 lb Briess Organic Carapils 1.5L

                    .5 lb Briess Organic Crystal 60L


Hops:        .5 oz homegrown Cascade hops - first wort hop   

                   1 oz homegrown Cascade hops  60 min

                   1 oz homegrown Cascade hops 30 min

                   .5 oz homegrown Cascade hops  15 min

                   .5 oz homegrown Cascade hops  2 min

                   (3.5 oz total.   Had two frozen bags, 1.5 oz, 2 oz)


Yeast:         PacMan yeast slurry from above Rye IPA


Misc:          1 tsp Irish Moss 15 min.


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                          06/30/07                        07/02/07                                07/10/07

Gravity:                       1.051                            1.012                                    1.012

% Alcohol:                   6.8                               1.6                                        1.6

% Sugar:                      13                                3                                            3

Temp of reading:          70                                70                                         70



- 13 qts 166 -> 152.  60 min.

- add 6 qts boil -> 161

- collected 3.6 gallons

- added 3 gallons 195 -> 180.  added ice -> 167.

- 6.8 gallons total in brewpot.

- preboil gravity calibrated to 60 deg was 1.042

- added .25 gallons yeast slurry and the thing was finished fermenting in about 24 hours!  Had ice jugs around carboy and kept temp at 68.

- hydrometer sample tasted ok but not nearly as bitter as above Rye IPA.  I hope I did get some bitterness from the homegrown hops but this is the first time I have ever exclusively used them in a beer. 

07/02/07   It fermented super fast.  It was nearly done in 24 hours, actually.  I kept ice jugs near it and it was at 68 deg the whole time.  I was surprised that by 48 hours after pitching the yeast the krausen had totally fallen.  It is a very light orange copper color, slightly lighter than I expected but still nice.  Aroma is mostly malt with some faint citrus hop.  Flavor is first malty, but bitter in the finish.  Wow.  Very drinkable even at 3 days old.  Good grief it is tasting nice as I drink a few more sips.  Have to love the PacMan yeast.

07/10/07  Nice and clear already and only 11 days old.  Mostly malt aroma with some hop.  Taste is smooth, malty, medium mouthfeel, with a mild, earthy soft bitterness.  Very drinkable.

09/09/07   This stuff is nearly gone. :(  It is going way too fast.  Aroma is predominantly malty with a slight pepper note (from hops?)  Some bitterness is definitely there but perhaps not as bitter as it would be with commercial hops.  Finishes with some lingering bitterness.  Makes me want to take the next sip.  Pretty balanced.  What did the organic malt contribute?  Kind of hard to say.  I would have to do two more experiments (my hops in non-organic malt beer; organic malt with commercial hops).   But I can say that exclusively using homegrown hops in a beer is totally doable.  The beer tastes great and it provides a lot of satisfaction. 

Speaking of, here is a video of the 2007 hop harvest. 





WineName:     Vintners Reserve Gew├╝rztraminer kit


Juice:   2 gallons concentrated juice (added to 4 gallons water for 6 gallons total)      


Yeast:   Premier Cuvee


Misc:   other additives that came with kit


Start Date:                Rack to Secondary:     Rack to Thirdary:          Bottle Date:


Date:                          07/09/07                    07/17/07                        01/10/08                            09/15/08

Gravity:                       1.070*                     1.010                              1.001                                 1.000

% Alcohol:                   9.5                           1.5                                 .1                                       0

% Sugar:                      17.5                         2.8                                 .1                                       0

Temp of reading:           60                          70                                   60                                     68



* calibrated to 60 deg

I was a little concerned that the gravity was lower than my other wines, but I know I mixed the juice and water thoroughly.  In the instructions it said the gravity will be 1.070-1.085 depending on the kit, and this must be a lower gravity kit.   It was fermenting the next day ~72 deg.

07/17/07  Tastes about like any wine at this early stage.  Not bad but not great.  It's on its way. 

09/04/07   Stirred in all remaining ingredients according to instructions.  Gravity:  .995, -.6, -1.   10.1% alc right now.  Did not taste bad but is pretty harsh and needs more time as all wine does at this point.   This one had a pack of juice that I added back in, designed to sweeten it a bit.  We'll see.

01/10/08  Huh, it dropped a fair amt in the last number of months.  I did not expect that.  I had added some kind of sorbate as well as the sweetening pack.  I wonder if it just fermented the extra juice I added?  At any rate it tasted pretty good and did taste somewhat sweeter than I remember the Riesling tasting.  It still needs many months to age though.  It was nice and clear and should be even clearer since I racked it off some sediment.  I topped it off with about 30 oz of water (6 gallons total so that will affect the taste and gravity very marginally).

09/16/08  Very clear.  Wow.  Nicely smooth, mildly sweet despite the low FG.  Drinkable now and we don't have to wait any longer.




Beer Name:       Can't Stop Coffee Stout (based on earlier recipe but made into all-grain this time)



Click on either pic for larger version. 

This beer took first place in the Upper Mississippi Mash Out 2008.


Grains:        11.5 lbs Rahr two-row pale

                    .5 lbs Simpson Crystal 160L

                    .5 lbs Simpson Chocolate 412L

                    .5 lbs Simpson Roast Barley 550L


Hops:        2 oz Northern Brewer 7.5%AA (90 min, recipe says only for 60 min, see notes below)


Yeast:        Wyeast 1056.  2 pint starter made 2 days prior.


Misc:         1 tsp Irish Moss 15 min


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date*:


Date:                          07/15/07                      07/23/07                                   09/03/07

Gravity:                      1.068                           1.018                                        1.018

% Alcohol:                 9                                   2.5                                            2.3

% Sugar:                    17                                 5                                               4.6

Temp of reading:        64                                70                                             70



- 16 qts 167 -> 154.  60 min.

- add 6 qts boil -> 162.

- collect 3.5 gallons

- add 2.5 gallons 182 -> 169.

- 6.25 gallons total (wanted little bit less as I only want to end up with 4.5 gallons in fermenter).

- brew boil gravity was 1.050 at 60 deg.  I knew I could get it up to almost 1.070 (TG) if I boiled it down to about 4.5 gallons.  Over time I realized I was not boiling off enough volume.  I put a fan to blow over the kettle to try to help.  I ended up needing to boil for 90 min instead of 60.  I did a quick calc and this would raise my IBUs from 74 to 81, so not too much of an increase.  The wort sample at the end of the day did not taste too bitter so that is good.  I also mashed it at a higher temp so hopefully there will be some non-fermented sugars.

- ended with 4.25 gallons in fermenter and added my .25 gallon starter for a total of 4.5 gallons.  Fermenting now at 68-70.

- I will add about .5 gallons of strong coffee at kegging time.

07/23/07  Very dark, black oil.  Roasted barley aroma.  Chocolate and coffee flavors (before the coffee is even added).  Semi-dry finish, slight burnt lingering flavor.  Somewhat thick mouthfeel.  Little bit of hop bitterness.  Hopefully not too strong after espresso coffee is added.  I'm glad it did not ferment any lower.  Good call to mash higher.  I suppose I could add malto dextrin to sweeten if need be.  Maybe next time back off slightly on the highly kilned malts?  If I can keep SRM's high that is.

09/03/07  Fairly dry and roasty, even before coffee is added. 

*  Gravity before adding the coffee.

Added 1/2 gallon of coffee, brewed with French Press pot and ~ .25 lb espresso blend coffee.

To figure out alc:    6.7% alc * (4.5 gall * 128 oz) =  38.6 oz alc

38.6 oz / (5 * 128 oz) =  6 % alc. 

12/27/07  Took above pic and tasting notes.  (This beer took 3rd in the Eclectic Beer category for the Onion Homebrew Contest).  I was concerned when tasting this earlier on that it might be too roasty or dry w/o any balancing sweetness but it has come around.  There are some black, unsweetened coffee notes in aroma.  Interesting flavor combination of bitterness from espresso, roasted barley, and hops.  Somehow though there is a slick oily sweetness in final part of swallow (add malto dextrin or lactose to increase this a touch?)  Some hop notes in aroma, too.  Overall it turned out very nice and much more pleasant and well rounded that I thought it might when tasting it earlier on.

01/09/08  Got scoresheets back from The Onion homebrew contest.  This beer got 3rd place out of 13 entries.  Score sheets:  One  Two  Three   It was reviewed pretty favorably so that was nice. 

01/28/08  Holy crap.  I decided to enter the Upper Mississippi Mash Out this year, just to see how I would do in a large contest.  I had placed in both of the smaller contests I had entered but figured I would have less of a chance in a larger one.  Anyway, I was astounded to find out that I took first place in the specialty beer category with this stout!  Score sheets:  One  Two  Three




Beer Name:     Quick Wit  (some kind of rye wit recipe I created)


Click on pic for larger version. 



Grains:        5.25 lbs Dinemanns Pale two row 3.2 L

                    2 lbs Rahr White Wheat malt  3.5L

                    1.5 lbs Weyerman Rye 3.5L

                    1 lb flaked wheat

                    .25 lbs Dingemanns Aromatic 19L

                    [ used .5 lbs rice hulls too and no stuck sparge]


Hops:          .75 oz Willamette 3.8 % AA  60 min

                    .50 oz Willamette 3.8 % AA  15 min

                    .75 oz Willamette 3.8 % AA  2 min


Yeast:         T-58 Safale (dried)


Misc:        .75 oz Bitter Orange Peel  15 min

                  1 tsp coriander seeds  15 min

                 .25 oz Bitter Orange Peel  2 min

                  1 tsp coriander seeds 2 min


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                          08/30/07                        skipped                                 09/07/07

Gravity:                       1.051                                                                         1.014

% Alcohol:                  6.6                                                                              2

% Sugar:                     13                                                                               4

Temp of reading:         70                                                                              70



Holy dog doo - two batches in one day!  First time.  Didn't go too badly.  Took just over 7 hours.

- 13 qts -> 167 -> ice -> 153 for 60 min.

- add 6 qts boiling -> 163

- collected 3.1 gallons

- add 3.1 gallons 185 -> 173 -> ice -> 170.

- collected 6.2 gallons in brew pot

- exactly 5 gallons in fermenter

- added dry yeast and shook carboy to aerate (did not use pure O2 this time)

- very nice yellow murky white color.  I did this for a quick turn around and hope to keg in about a week.

09/07/07  Yellow, murky straw white color.  Yeasty orange peel aroma.  Tastes just right.  It's a nice Wit.





Beer Name:     Oatmeal Mild  (recipe based on Chris Mikkelson's Mild and added some Oatmeal)



Click on pic for larger version.  It's in a .5L BYO mug because I had just got my swag for being published.




Click on pic for larger version.   Here was the pic for the Fundraiser poster.



Grains:        6 lbs Crisp Maris Otter 3.5-4.5L

                    8 oz Crisp Amber 27L

                    4 oz  Simpson Extra Dark Crystal 160L

                    2 oz Simpson Black 550L

                    8 oz flaked barley

                    8 oz flaked oats (these last two ingredients are to provide the "oatmeal" effect)


Hops:         1 oz East Kent Goldings 4.5% AA  60 min


Yeast:         Wyeast 1099 Whitbread.  semi-swollen smack pack smacked about 6 hours before



Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                           08/30/07                    09/07/07                                   09/22/07

Gravity:                       1.040                        1.015                                        1.015

% Alcohol:                  5.2                             2                                               1.9

% Sugar:                     10.5                           4                                               4

Temp of reading:        70                              70                                              70



- 10 qts 170 -> ice -> 152.  80 min (finishing up previous batch)

- add 6 qts 193 -> 159

- collect 2.75 gallons

- add 3.2 gallons 190 and some cool water

- collect 6 gallons

- add .25 water in kettle to get up to 6.25 gallons

- got 5 gallons even into fermenter

- shook to aerate

09/07/07   Medium brown color with orange tints.  Toffee and grain aroma.  Taste some malt sweetness with bit of dark malt roasty dryness.  Finishes pretty clean.  Not a lot of favor but no off flavors.  Quite drinkable. 

09/22/07  First attempt at carbonating naturally in keg.  Primed with 3/4 cup priming sugar.  Will check in two weeks to see how it is coming and if need be put it on CO2 for last week, before fundraiser.  Super mild flavor, no pun intended.  Not bad but just not very strong.  Can drink it like water.  I do not know if it is as flavorful as Chris Mikkelson's, which this was based off (although he gave me a recipe that was before the one that I really liked.  He did not take notes for the one that I really enjoyed and wanted to make).




09/20/07  Must have missed prior propane tank fill update.

Got it filled today.  It took 3.7 of a possible 4.7 gallons.




Beer Name:     Ten Buck Ale #3  (original idea to use homegrown hops and make a frugal batch of beer)


Click on pic for larger version.


Cheapest batch of Ten Buck ale yet, one that actually lives up to its name.


Grains:        10 lbs Rahr two row pale 1.4-2.0L

                    .5 lbs Simpsons Medium Crystal 55L


Hops:          .5 oz Centennial homegrown whole flower  first wort hop

                    .5 oz Centennial homegrown whole flower 60 min

                    .5 oz Centennial homegrown whole flower  45 min

                    .5 oz Centennial homegrown whole flower  15 min 


Yeast:         Safale US-05  (fka US-56)


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:              Keg Date:


Date:                          9/21/07                        10/01/07                                 10/21/07

Gravity:                      1.052                           1.012                                      1.013

% Alcohol:                  7                                  1.7                                         1.9

% Sugar:                    13                                 3.5                                         3.5

Temp of reading:        70                                 70                                         60



- 13 qts-> 172.  few ice cubes -> 153.  after 60 min -> 152

- add 8 qts boiling -> 167

- collect 3.6 gallons

- add 3 gallons 180

- 6.6 gallons in brew pot

- 5.3 gallons (!) in fermenter

- shook to aerate and just pitched US-05 dry yeast.

- nice light copper color.  wort tastes good, slightly bitter

- fermented at 68-70

10/01/07   Not very clear yet.  Nice color and good flavor. Very balanced with malt sweetness and some nice hop flavor and bitterness.  Not especially bitter but it is there.  So far I like this better than the Organic Pale ale, which could be due to the organic malt (will have to do another experiment with that some time) or due to the Centennials being "better" than the Cascades.

10/21/07  Pretty clear today.  Some hop aroma but didn't really go for that.  I was more interested in the hop bitterness I would get.  Very clean and balanced beer.  Some bitterness, probably will be enhanced by carbonation and cooler temp.  Very nice so far, better than the Organic Pale Ale (made with homegrown Cascades).

12/28/07  Took above pic and tasting notes.  Nicely clear.  Wonder why my Ten Bucks are often so clear?  Hop flowers instead of pellets?  Very light copper orange color.  Not much hop aroma but I did not design it that way.  Some sweetness and light graininess in aroma.  Extremely drinkable.  Very nice balance between light to moderate bitterness, and sweetness from malt.  Finishes mostly clean with hint of hop bitterness at end making me want the next sip.  Could drink a lot of this at once.  Think I like the homegrown Centennials better than the homegrown Cascades.  I should do another Ten Buck (non organic) with all homegrown Cascade to compare. 

01/09/07  This did not so well in the Onion Homebrew contest mainly because I entered it as a Cream Ale and it is not a Cream Ale!  It is more of a Pale Ale, but it would not have done well in that category.  Knowing what I know now, I probably would not have entered it at all.  It is a great beer!  I love it.  People are drinking it pretty fast.  But it did not do well being judged as a Cream ale.  Score sheets:  One Two Three




Beer Name:      Holiday Cheer  (Charlie Papazian recipe, my 3rd time making and first AG version)


Click on pic for larger version


Grains:        11 lbs Rahr two row pale 1.4-2.0L

                    .5 lbs Simpsons Medium Crystal 55L

                     2 oz Simpsons Black Patent 550L


Hops:        1 oz Cascade pellets 6.9% AA  60 min

                  1 oz Cascade homegrown whole flower  60 min

                  1 oz Cascade homegrown whole flower 2 min


Yeast:         Wyeast 1056 - 2 pint starter made 2 days prior


Misc:          1 lb Honey  15 min

                    3 tsp ground cinnamon 15 min

                    1 oz ginger root grated  15 min

                    3 oranges zested  15 min



Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                          9/21/07                        10/01/07                                    11/06/07

Gravity:                       1.062                          1.012                                        1.013

% Alcohol:                   8                                1.8                                            1.8

% Sugar:                     15.6                            3.6                                            3.5

Temp of reading:         70                               70                                            60



- 14 qts 168 -> ice -> 153.

- after 65 min -> 152

- collect 3.7 gallons

- add 3 gallons 176

- 6.7 gallons on brew pot

- 5 gallons in fermenter

- good dark red/brown color like I hoped for.  wort tastes nicely spicy as I recall from making it two other times.

- fermented at 68-70

10/01/07  Could be just a touch darker, but is is ok.  A pint of it will appear a very dark brown.  Holy Lord is this a nice taste.  The aroma is ginger and cinnamon.  The taste is those spices and also the orange peel with a clean malt sweetness.  The all grain malt flavor is much better than my previous two versions of this (extract).  It has a touch of hop bitterness and so far is really tasty.

11/06/07  Brownish red color.  Ginger, cinnamon, orange in aroma, and also in taste.  Very even, balanced spice flavor.  Cleaner tasting than my extract versions.  Not much aftertaste.  Very slight alcohol warmth, not unpleasant.  So far it is great.

12/20/07  Took above pic.  The spices are just about right.  If I could, though,  I might change one small thing.  I see it went down to 1.013.  I think if it was like 1.016 it would be just a bit better with more sweetness to balance out the sharpness from the spices.  I would not cut back on the spices though as they are fairly subtle as is.  It will be interesting to see what the score sheets say (Onion homebrew contest).  I see I mashed at 153.  Could be up to 156 perhaps.  Or add some non-fermentable sugar (malto dextrin?)  Not as much of a negative comment as it is an observation.  Better as it warms, too.

01/09/08  This did pretty well in the Onion Homebrew contest but it did not place.  It got some good comments and the overall critique seems to be it could use a little more body or sweetness.  I said as much above.  Score sheets:  One  Two Three




Cider Name:      Commie Juice Cider   (#1)


Click on pic for larger version.



Fermentables:    5 gallons apple juice purchased via MN Homebrewers club buy


Yeast:          Red Star Premier Cuvee  (temp range 45-95F)


Misc:           5 camden tablets 24 hours before pitching yeast


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                          11/05/07                       11/24/07                                12/13/07

Gravity:                       1.056                            1.006                                    1.004

% Alcohol:                  7.5                                .8                                           .5

% Sugar:                     14.5                              1.5                                        1

Temp of reading:         64                                60                                          54



- cider was not totally thawed (was frozen when got it) so it took 11 jugs (1 gallon) to get 10 gallons of juice.  Some of the ice remained behind (possibly boosting sugar content of juice just slightly).  Shook carboy well and sprinkled yeast in.  Temp was at 64 degrees morning after pitching yeast and fermentation looks like it has begun.

11/24/07  Fair amount of yeast in suspension still.  Not done fermenting?  Cooler tolerance for this yeast strain so kind of odd.  It's been nearly 3 weeks.  Sharp tang, not totally tried out (yet?)  Fair enough.  Possibly slightly preferable to the other one at this early point. 

12/13/07  If calibrated to 60, it would almost be down to 1.003.  Nice and clear.  Mellowed slightly but still dry and tart.  Drinkable though (actually drank about 30 oz of it unsweetened that would not fit into keg).  Added 3 cans Old Orchard apple juice concentrate.  Should make it just about right.

01/26/08  Took above pic.  Did not do tasting with notes, but this has turned out nicely, much like most of my other ciders.  Some sweetness balanced with a healthy amount of natural tart flavor.  Pretty carbonated.  Don't know if NOT using sorbate to stabilize has had a negative effect or not.  I have not used it for the last few batches. Seems to be fine if putting right into the keg. 

01/28/08  Got my score sheets from the Upper Mississippi Mash Out.  It did not do as well as I had hoped.  I realized that I don't know what constitutes a contest winning cider.  I mean, to me this cider has no flaws and tastes great, but it must suffer when compared to better ones.  Fair enough.  Score sheets:  One  Two




Cider Name:      English Country Cider   (#2)


Click on pic for larger version.



Fermentables:    5 gallons apple juice purchased via MN Homebrewers club buy


Yeast:          Lalvin Bourgovin RC212 (temp range 59-86F)


Misc:           5 camden tablets 24 hours before pitching yeast



Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                          11/05/07                        11/24/07                                07/29/08

Gravity:                       1.056                            1.004                                     1.002

% Alcohol:                  7.5                                .5                                            .3

% Sugar:                     14.5                              1                                            .5

Temp of reading:         64                                 60                                          70



- cider was not totally thawed (was frozen when got it) so it took 11 jugs (1 gallon) to get 10 gallons of juice.  Some of the ice remained behind (possibly boosting sugar content of juice just slightly).  Shook carboy well and sprinkled yeast in.  Temp was at 64 degrees morning after pitching yeast and fermentation looks like it has begun.

11/24/07  Yeast floculated more than other one?  Huh, but has more yeast flavor.  Almost more bitterness that might be from yeast.  Or maybe it is just the puckering from the tartness.  I guess it is more like the first one when drinking side by side. 

07/29/08  Very clear.  Nice apple aroma.  Strong tart taste.  Dry.  Alc warmth.  Sweetened with 3 cans of apple juice concentrate.  No sorbate. 

11/02/08  You know, I think it slowly does continue to ferment the apple juice if I do not add sorbate, even if in the fridge at about 40 deg.   So, in the future I might try to add sorbate again and see if that slows or stops that.  Still, a flavorful and enjoyable cider even at 1 year old.




Beer Name:      Northdown Steamin' Wife Lager


Click on pic for larger version.


Grains:        10 lbs Rahr two row pale

                    .5 lbs Simpson Medium Crystal 55L

Hops:         2 oz Northdown 7.2% AA   60 min

                   1 oz Northdown 7.2% AA  15 min


Yeast:         Wyeast 2112 California Lager - 2 pint starter made 2 days prior


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                          11/25/07                      12/07/07                                  1/09/08

Gravity:                      1.044                           1.014                                       1.014

% Alcohol:                 6                                  1.8                                           1.8

% Sugar:                    11.5                             3.6                                           3.6

Temp of reading:        65                               60                                             60



- as for the lower-than-expected gravity, I think there are two factors.  The mill at NB was not crushing very fine.  I tried to adjust it and even asked for help. Still was not very fine.  I ran it through twice but I wonder if many kernels did not get cracked.   Secondly, I slightly over collected wort and did not boil extra time to condense.

- 13 qts 167 - mash 152 for 60 min

- after 1 hr - 151

- add 7 qts boiling -> 163

- collect 3.4 gallons

- add 3 gallons (little more?) 185 -> 177.  add ice -> 170.

- somehow got 7 gallons of wort.  little over collected.

- ended with 5 gallons in carboy and I left a small amt in the kettle.

- pitched yeast and next day is was fermenting nicely at 60-62.

12/07/07  Medium clarity, dark orange color.  Hop aroma, earthy.  Semi sweet taste.  Decent bitterness.  Slight chalky feel but mostly clean finish.  Not as sweet as some Steamin Wifes, maybe due to not getting those last 6-8 pts of gravity?  Hmm.  We'll see. 

12/27/07  Added about 2.5 oz of left over malto dextrin to add a little sweetness/body.   Also added 1 cup (8 oz) of white cane sugar thinking it might add a little sweetness w/o fermenting since it is at a cold temperature right now, and will then go into the keg, maybe not giving the yeast much time to try and ferment it.

01/09/08  Nicely clear.  Typical Steam beer light copper color.  Taste is decent, less sweet than some of my Steamin' Wifes, but not unbalanced.  Not much aroma at this point.  Not sure if malto dextrin and sugar added anything detectable.  Clean.  Probably will be ok.  No off flavors.  I wish the crush would have been better so I could have gotten those last few gravity points. 

03/10/08  Took above pic.  As clear as usual for my Steamin' Wifes.  Similar color too, kind of a light orange.  Some hop aroma.  It is becoming slightly less sweet, less of that flavor that I have been attributing to malto dextrin, and this is a good development.  It is 3.5 months old now.  Finishes fairly clean.  Nice balance between the sweetness and bitterness.  Still wish I would have gotten those extra 6 or 8 gravity points though. 




Beer Name:      Better Late than Never Oktoberfest (recipe from Brewing Classic Styles)


Click on pic for larger version.  Oktoberfest by early season Cascade chutes.


Grains:        4.5 lbs Durst Pils 1.6L

                    2.5 lbs Durst Vienna 3.8L

                    3.5 lbs Durst Munich 8.3L

                    1 lb Digemanns Caramunich 60L


Hops:        1 oz German Tradition 6.2% AA  60 min ( recipe calls for 1.25 oz Halltertau Hersbrucker 4% AA)

                  .5 oz German Tradition 6.2% AA 20 min (recipe calls for .75 oz HH 4% AA)


Yeast:        Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager.    1/2 gallon yeast starter made 3 days prior then put in fridge over last night


Misc:         1 tsp Irish Moss last 15 min


Brew Date:                Rack to Secondary:               Keg Date:


Date:                          12/29/07                      01/17/08 (?)                            02/23/08

Gravity:                      1.056                           1.017                                      1.015

% Alcohol:                 7.5                                2.25                                        2

% Sugar:                    14.5                              4.5                                          4

Temp of reading:        60                                 60                                          60



- 16 qts 164 -> 151.  60 min.  after 1 hour, 150.

- add 6 qts boil -> 157

- collected 3.5 gallons.  added 3 gallons 190 -> 173.  added ice -> 169

- collected 6.9 gallons total

- first time using refractometer!  first runnings: 1.056.  2nd runnings 1.028.   pre boil:  1.044, with 6.9 gallons)

- boiled 25 min to reduce volume before adding hops

- 5 gallons into fermenter.

- poured off 1/4 gallon of yeast starter, swirled up, and poured remaining 1/4 gallon into fermenter.

- fermenting now at 47 degrees.

- OG was 13.5 brix.  went up .5 brix after an hour of sitting (?)

01/13/08   Took gravity reading while in primary, two weeks after brewing.  1.017.  Not very clear but nice orange color.  Malty aroma!  Sweet taste with some hop bitterness.  Slightly tipped towards sweet side.  Very nice already.  Moved to warmer closet (main level of house) to perhaps finish fermenting. 

01/17/08  Somehow my update for racking to secondary did not get saved.  I believe the gravity and taste were the same as above.

02/23/08  Clear orange brown color.  Wonderful aroma, slight butterscotch and sweetness from malt.  Pretty nice flavor.  Fairly sweet but hop bitterness to balance.  Not as sweet as sweetest Oktoberfests I've tasted.  Medium mouthfeel.  Clean finish.  Nice so far.




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