Category Archives: homebrew

Amber Ale 2020

Nose has a little bit of honey to it-sweet but also a little floral.
The flavors go along with that. It’s got a very strong malt backbone, which I like. The finishing bitterness isn’t very strong but it is just enough to keep any malt-sugar sourness pop up.
The Amber ale 2020effervescence isn’t very strong and I’m not sure if that’s a flaw or not. On the downside: the olfactory elements don’t get very far but on the upside, it does just enough work on the finish to make this a quaffable ale, and no more. There isn’t a sparkle on the tongue as with some lagers, for example.

All in all, though I like this beer and I think I did well with it.

Brew date: 5.16.20

Steeping grains
.5 lb 50L Caramalt

.5 lb biscuit
3 lb munich
3 lb 2 row

Fermentables: 3 lb ExLMe

1.5 oz East Kent Goldings @60
.25 oz Cascade @ 60
.25 oz East Kent, .75 oz Cascade @5

Yeast: Imperial House (2nd use)

OG: 1.064

FG: 1.01

Bottled 5.23.20

ABV: 7.3%

Cream Ale From May #2

Cream Ale 2020Here we go:
Head is steady and very white. It’s not thick, but it keeps the layer of foam on the beer throughout.
It’s got nice malt nose, too; not strong enough to be called grainy or bready but notable.
The flavors are excellent, to me; the malt is there and the bitterness on the finish isn’t intense at all. The carbonation really picks up the slack when it comes to clearing the palate.
It’s nice to know I can get beers like this made; no, it isn’t perfectly clear but it’s still bright and, as the kids might say ‘crushable’. I think one could easily put away a few of these at a time easily.
Brew date: 5.25.20

Steeping grains
7 lb 2 row
1 lb 15L Cara malt

Fermentables: 3 lb ExLME
1.5 oz Fuggle .5 oz Cluster @60
.5 cluster, .5 Fuggle @5

Yeast: Imperial House

OG: 1.06

FG: 1.018

Bottled 5.31

ABV: 5.7%

May’s Cream Ale #1

May cream aleNose is…odd. Has a malty quality, to it with almost a vanilla note? It makes me think, just a little bit, of nougat from a candy bar.

While the head on the beer dies down pretty quick, the scent remains, and it carries into the beer. A prominent malt element there but it steps back just shy of caramel. The finish, now here’s where things get weird. The hop bitterness comes on pretty hard, which is a surprise, but there is also a pleasant pop on the finish, when the bubbles kick in to keep things in check.

It’s really drinkable, which is something I don’t know that I’ve gotten to say about my beers too often.

Still, I’ve been trying to simplify and really drill down into beers that are just a few ingredients and for this one, at least, it’s been a working out.

Brew date: 5/3/30

Steeping grains

4 lb Serenade Vienna
3 lb Bohemian Pilsner

Fermentables: 3 lb ExLME

1.75 oz Mt Hood, .5 oz German Blanc hops @60
.25 Mt Hood, .5 oz German Blanc @5

Yeast: Imperial House

OG: 1.061

FG: 1.01

Bottled 5/10 (Smells a little apple-y at bottling)

ABV: 6.9%

First Quarter IPA

first quarter IPAExcellent nose; really get the dank scents from the hops. They seem to fade rapidly, which is a tiny drawback, and a surprising too. The head of this beer is thin, but steady so I’d hoped I would be more from that.
Still, a persistent head is a good sign, and pays off by helping clear some of the bitterness of the finish away.
You might notice that it’s a bit darker than your standard IPA; this is because I have continued with last year’s attempts at Sierra Nevada’s Resilance IPA which called for some caramel malts, giving it both the reddish hue and some sweetness.
I should definitely try this without the caramel malts, just to produce a ‘classic’ style.
However, this is a solid beer; again, one of the better ones I’ve made and I absolutely contribute that to the expedience with which I took to bottling this beer-and not putting it into secondary for a hop addition. Less exposure to the elements has made for a better beer.
Brew date: 4.11.20

Steeping grains
2 lb Dark honey
1.5 lb C30
5 lb Serenade paleFermentables: 4 lb ExLME

2 oz Centennial, .5 oz Columbus, 1 oz Magnum @60
1 oz Magnum, .5 oz Columbus @30

Yeast: Imperial House (3rd use)

OG: 1.07

FG: 1.01

Added 1 oz Columbus on 4.14

Bottled: 4.18

ABV: 8.1%

Pouring One Out

Contaminated pale aleFor the first time ever, I have dumped a batch of beer. Call it a rising sense of maturity, or a desire not to get into sunk costs but it is what it is.

The yeast didn’t start for 2 days, despite me making yeast starter. I was using a dry yeast, so making a starter was my attempt to jumpstart the yeast so the beer wouldn’t get contaminated.

That didn’t work out so well.

This beer smells of iodine, tastes of citrus, band-aid and metal. I seriously thought about bottling this anyway because who knows? Maybe a week in the bottle will improve things!

No. It won’t and I should stop pretending that it will.

Now, am I certain that the yeast is to blame? I am not, but it is the only variable to the process I’ve been doing for years, and certainly the only change since December. Nevertheless, I’m going to take some time to run a bleach solution through the equipment after this, because fool me once…

Here’s what I did, anyway:

Brew date: 6.7.20

Steeping grains
3 lb Gambrious Pale
4 lb Lamonta Pale

Fermentables: 3 lb ExLME

@60 1oz Southern Aroma, Cascade
@5 1 oz Cascade

Added 1 tsp Irish Moss @5

1.5 tsp Gypsum pre boil (for water conditioning)

Yeast: Mangrove Jack dry yeast-starter

OG: 1.065

FG: 1.014

Attempt to bottle: 6.17.20

ABV 6.9%

The First Cream Ale

first cream ale 2020It’s not too often that I feel like I really get to be proud of what I did, but this is one of those times.

For a first stab at a cream ale, I really like what I did here. There’s a pleasant sourdough nose, the malts are sweet but not grainy, and the finish is reasonably crisp. There’s even a subtle bitterness from the hops, which helps set the whole thing into balance.

The head on the beer isn’t quite as strong as I would like, which means that the effervescence on the finish doesn’t quite pop as much.

However, for the first time trying, couple with new methods of bottling, I feel like this is a pretty serious upgrade!

Brew date: 3.22.20

Steeping grains
4 lb Blue Serenade Vienna
3 lb Weyermann floor malted pils

Fermentables: 3 lb light LME-amber (doh)

1 oz Hallertauer @60
1 oz Hallertauer @10

Yeast: Imperial house yeast, 2nd use

OG: 1.055

FG: 1.012

Bottled 3/28

ABV: 5.8%

First beer 2020

At least, the first one I brewed. This is the year I’m working on making cream ales, so this will be the first of many reports on that process.

Pale ale 2020Nose has an element of roasted quality-something I can pick up from the malt. There is a pretty strong head on the beer, too: very clean.

But it’s old, and it’s a little dependent on a good pour. Because what I’ve noticed is that if some of the yeast from the bottom of the bottle gets in the beer, you can taste the stale qualities; a bit of a wet paper thing.

But if the pour is clean-and that’s not always easy to do but when I manage it!-this is a pretty solid beer. My goal was to shoot for a lighter ale (visually), but the honey malt put a kibosh on that. Still; a solid beer that, for being 4 months old, I am proud of.

Brew date: 1/12/20

Steeping grains
6 lb Lamonta
2 lb Serenade pale
1.5 lb dark honey malt

Fermentables: 4 lb ExLME


1.5 oz Cascade, .75 oz Hallerltau @60
.25 oz Cascade, Hallertau @5

Yeast: Imperial House yeast, 3rd use
Added .5 tsp Irish Moss for clarity

OG: 1.07

FG: 1.01

ABV: 8.1%

First Homebrew 2020

Pale aleSo, this was the first homebrew I drank this year. I’m getting by on a technicality but I’m OK with that. It took this long to get to this beer, because I had an abundance to drink and just didn’t get to it until March…so I keep that in mind as I review it.

The nose has an old hops scent. It is similar to what I get from fresh hop ales that have been around too long. Almost vegetal, and it is a little off-putting.

Still, given that the beer is three months old, that’s not too bad.

Fortunately, the flavor profile improves upon the first impression. The caramel malt gives this pale a nice counterweight, and the finishing bitterness doesn’t have any trace of the nasal qualities. It’s just a solid bitterness.

If I’d been drinking this beer in January, I bet it’s freakin’ excellent. Still, that it’s this good now speaks well of the change in my process and I’m definitely keeping this up for the future.

Brew date: 12/22/19

Steeping grains
5 lb Ballad Munic
1 lb Caramel 5
2 lb 2 row

Fermentables: 4 lb ExLME

1.5 oz Ekuanot @60
.5 oz Ekuanot @5

Yeast: Imperial House

OG: 1.069

FG: 1.012

Bottled 1/5/20

ABV: 7.7%

Last IPA 2019

Well, this is it. The IPAs of 2019 have been completed.

final IPA 2019
First, the nose actually comes through. Nothing dominating but I can pick it up; a bit forest, a bit dank.

It’s a pretty clean beer, too: the malts are there but they easily step aside for the hop bitterness. It’s probably a little less challenging in respect to the bitterness than most IPAs, but I really feel as if this one is far better than most I’ve made this year.

Since this is the first time I tried doing everything in primary fermentation, there are undoubtedly improvements to be made. But I can definitely work from here.

This has come about because I got the advice to get my beer bottled quickly, that one issue I was having was that my beer tasted stale.

Which was a surprise to hear, since it’s usually bottled within 3-4 weeks.

This time I went for half that, and it made a massive difference. Clearly, this is how I should be doing things from here on out.

Brew date 12/15/19

Steeping malts
5 lb Genie pale
2 lb Serenade
1.5 lb caramel 30

Fermentables: 4 lb ExLME

1 oz Hallertauer Magnum, Columbus, .5 oz Centennial @60
.5 oz Hallertauer Magnum, Columbus, 1 oz Cenennial @30

Yeast: Imperial house yeast, 2nd use

OG: 1.07

FG: 1.01

Added .5 oz Hallertaur Magnum, Columbus, Centennial on 12/24 to primary

Bottled 12/28

ABV: 8.1

Mary McCleod (Devil’s Mother) 2019

Devil's Mother imperial milk stoutThis is the 2019 batch of the imperial milk stout I make every year.

The nose has a hint of alcohol to it, but also a little bit of dried fruit too. The flavors include elements of chocolate, milk sweetness, and I’d say fig. So that’s all good. It’s not as chocolatey as I’d like, and the dried fruit qualities are just a bit off of what I want.

I was told by a homebrewing pal that the dried fruit quality was the result of the beer starting to oxidize-to get stale, if you will. In this style, that can be OK, but in most styles of beer, that isn’t what you want! Which means I’m going to change the way I make beer-but we’ll save that for when the next batch comes up.

It’s a pretty easy drinking stout though, given its strength and flavor intensity. There’s a nice clearance of the palate with the effervescence, so it’s easier to take another sip. But it’s strong, so this is a beer that is good to share if a second bottle gets opened. Works pretty well with desserts, but isn’t as complementary with other foods.

Still, not bad.

Brew date: 9/28/19

Steeping grains
2 lb chocolate
.5 lb Carafe 3
5 lb Maris Otter
3 lb Opal 22
1 lb Golden Promise
2 lb Lactose

7 lb ExLME

Hops: 2 oz Mt Hood @60

Yeast: Imperial: Darkness (2nd use)

OG: 1.15

FG: 1.04

Bottle 10/29

ABV: 14.9%