Category Archives: homebrew

Cream Ale 2021

This isn’t hitting right. I can sense it in the nose, actually. This beer is off. It smells a bit like old paper.

Now, it’s reasonably malty in the midrange: some caramel there, and pleasantly bubbly too, so nothing sticks around long. However.

The finish? It brings back that old paper flavor. Not my best work, is all I can say.

Brew date: 3.6.21

Steeping Grains
3 lb Munich
3 lb Vienna
1 lb Digngemans Aromatic malt

Fermentables: 3 lb dry malt extract pils

Hops: 1 oz Willamette, .25 oz Falconer’s Flight @60

Imperial Pub yeast (2nd use)

OG: 1.06

FG: 1.012

Bottled 3/14

ABV: 6.5%

Less Than Awesome

Pale ale in glass on countertop

So, this didn’t come out so great. I was trying a new yeast-it was  on sale and it described itself as adding Brut champagne characteristics. I figured, why not?

But it took 36 hours to get active and I think that contributed to a beer that just…missed the mark. It was overcarbonated, and tasted uneven; sometimes a little floral, sometimes a little dirty.

Brew date: 1.9.21

Steeping grains
3 lb Weyermann Vienna malt
3 lb Great Western 2 row
.75 lb Mecca Grade Opal 22

Fermentables: 3 lb dry pils malt extract

.5 oz Summit, 1.5 oz Centennial @60
@ 5 .5oz Summit, .5 oz Centennial

Yeast: Omega Gulo

OG: 1.059

FG: 1.012

Added 1/2 tsp Irish moss @ 5 min for clarity

Bottled 1/18 to let the yeast finish up

ABV: 6.4%

The Last Cream Ale (of 2020)

The nose is more bready than yeasty, but there’s some overlap. A sourdough influence is present, I would say but not disruptive. An accent scent.

Cream ale in glass on countertop

The head on the beer is a bit thin, but the effervescence is constant, so that’s good.

Buuut. The flavor has a hit of that tea-cinnamon flavor, left over from the yeast I used on the winter warmer. This is a disruptive element, in a beer that I was really hoping would be bready and clean. It doesn’t make the beer undrinkable by any means, but I have to acknowledge that it’s a fly in the ointment.

So I’ll take that as a lesson to do keep my yeast as clean as I can-until its last use. Then, adjunct away!

Brew Date: 12/26/20

Steeping grains
4lb Pilsner malt
3 lb Vienna

Fermentables: 3 lb dry extra light

1.5 oz N Brewer @ 60
.5 oz N Brewer @5

Yeast: Imperial House yeast, 3rd use

OG: 1.06

FG: 1.01

Bottled 1/2/21

ABV: 6.8%

Smash Cream

So, here was a fun one. A single hop and (mostly) single malt cream ale that I was hoping would be an interesting spin on all the beers I’d been brewing in 2020.

And…it turned out OK! But it was a little less ‘interesting spin’ and a little more one dimensional, even though I added hops days later to try and bring up the hop elements.

Still, it wasn’t bad: nothing too intense, but like most SMASH beers, more of an interesting idea than an excellent beverage.

Brew date: 11/28/30

Single malt, single hop cream ale in glass on counter

Grains: 7lb Pilsner malt

Fermentables: 3 lb Extra Light Malt extract

Hops: 1.5 oz Northern Brewer @60
.5 oz NB 5 days later

Yeast: Imperial’s House

OG: 1.054

FG: 1.012

Bottled 12/5

ABV: 5.7%

Just Half

The black tea cinnamon comes up in the nose…and unfortunately dominates most of the flavors of this beer.

Winter warmer ale in glass

This is a surprise; I did not think that 3/4ths of an ounce of tea would be enough to dominate five gallons of beer. And yet….

With it comes a less pleasant wood flavor, herbal, a little dirty. I don’t think this got infected, but I probably need to rethink how I use tea in my beers.

On the upside, I really only want half a bottle before I can move on  to the next beer.

The downside is there’s 48 bottles of this…

Brew date: 12/12/20

Steeping grains
1.5 lb Opal C20 malt
.5 lb Carabrown
6 lb Maris Otter

Fermentables: 3 lb ExLME

2 oz N Brewer @60
.75 oz Chai tea @ flameout

Yeast: Imperial’s House (2nd use)

OG: 1.06

FG: 1.008

Bottled 12/19

ABV: 7.0%

Hoppy amber

Amber ale in glass on table

I took this recipe from the Homebrew Day 2020 post by FH Steinbart’s for a hoppy red ale.

The nose is still malt forward, with a little bit of caramel, a little toast but not much in the way of hops.

Which is actually OK: the malts are right up front when I drink the beer, but a nice citrusy bite comes around on the finish to keep things tidy. It works better than I would’ve thought. A pleasant, drinkable ale.

Brew date: 11/14/20

Steeping grains
4 lb Munich
2 lb Dextrapils
1 lb C 75

Fermentables: 3 lb Extra light malt extract

Hops: 1.5 oz Centennial @60

Yeast: Imperial Loki (3rd)

OG: 1.06

FG: 1.012

Bottled 11/21

ABV: 6.5%


Whenever I’ve had Sorachi Ace hops in the past, they always had a lemongrass quality to them, which I dug on. So when making cream ales this year I thought: those would be perfect, right?

Cream ale w/Sorachi Ace hops

Then the pandemic happened and I couldn’t find them. But I kept my eye out and then…they were back in stock. So, I was eager to give them a go-what could be better than the crispness of a cream ale with a hint of lemongrass?

The results were not as hoped though. The nose is a little soapy and that is a bummer.
The flavors don’t have much lemongrass in them either. There’s some caramel in the middle, which is good, and the finish is dry and maybe a little grassy? But this didn’t come together like I wanted. The nose is definitely off the mark.

It’s not the worst thing but I  wish I’d gotten a little closer to what I envisioned.

Brew date: 9/19/20

Steeping grains
6lb Mecca Vienna malt
2 lb Great Western 2 Row

Fermentables: 3 lb ExLME

.5 oz Azacca, 1.5 oz Sorachi Ace @60
1.5 Sorachi Ace .5 Azacca @5

Years: Imperial Pub (2nd use)

OG: 1.065

FG: 1.01

2 tsp Gypsum (for water hardness)
1/2 tsp Irish moss at flameout (clarifying agent)

Bottled 9/26

ABV: 7.5%

Devil’S Mother 2020

This year’s Mary MacCleod has a very luxurious chocolate nose to it. It’s steady, even after letting the beer warm up for a significant amount of time, which is good, because it’s the best way to drink this beer.

This is also the first time that I’m detecting a hint of tobacco in the beer, too; it’s still quite chocolatey, but the sharpness of the tobacco makes for a really interesting stout.

However letting this beer warm up to nearly room temperature is where it starts to shine. The rough edges fade out, the chocolate settles in and it becomes a bit velvety on the tongue. 

The only real problem I have is remembering to wait ten or more minutes before drinking the beer. Otherwise, no complaints at all.

Brew date: 10/24/20

Steeping grains
2 lb Chocolate malt
1 lb Carafa 1
3 lb Opal 20L, Golden Promise, Genie malt
.6 oz toasted oats (20 min @250

6 lb ExLME
2 lb Lactose

Hops: 2 oz Mt Hood @60

Yeast: Imperial’s Pub (3rd use)

OG: 1.101

FG: 1.044

Bottled 10/31

ABV: 7.7%

Nov Cream Ale

Cream ale on kitchen countertop

Good news; the nose is still malt forward. Caramel, definitely has a liquid extract sweetness to it-which means it’s a little abstract. I don’t think there’s any one grain that malt extract is made out of, so I can’t exactly say; caramel 80 is responsible here!

I can, though, say it’s got a more caramel flavor than other efforts, due to the use of regular malt extract instead of extra light malt extract. That’s OK; it doesn’t play havoc with the beer, it’s just a bit darker and a bit more malt forward than I’d want for a cream ale. But I’m not sure there’s a light amber style, and it’s not hoppy enough to be a pale ale so…what do we call this?

Maybe an red ale? Maybe amber really is a good description; I’ve always felt that most amber ales tinted too dark anyway and should be called reds…but I don’t make up the naming conventions.

There is I’m pleased to say, a present but not upstanding bitterness on the finish. A little lemony, a little floral but unmistakably bitter there. It helps tie the beer together, keeping any sweetness from overrunning things.

All in all, not bad!

Brew date: 11/1/20

Steeping grains
2 lb caramel 20L (from Opal)
6 lb Pils malt (from mainstream freewater)

Fermentables: 3 lb ExLME

1 oz Saaz, German Mandarina Bavaria @ 60
1 oz Saaz, German Mandarina Bavaria @ 5

Yeast: Imperial Loki (2nd use)

OG: 1.05

FG: 1.012

ABV: 5.1%

Oct Pale Ale

The nose isn’t bad; a whiff of citrus is there but it’s largely malt, which is not what I was looking for. I might have to start adding hops in the following days, after the initial yeast activity, if I want to really get something in the nose, because this isn’t doing it.

October pale ale on kitchen counter

There’s also a rather prominent run of malt in here. So the hops really aren’t getting to shine much. Even the finish isn’t offering me much bitterness.

Honestly, this might not make a bad red ale-it’s dark enough and there’s enough sweetness but…how the heck did I get here?
And then I see it; Light malt extract, not extra light-so the malts were going to be pushed more than the hops I was adding in.

It’s not bad, but I possibly mismanaged my expectations.

Brew date: 10/4/20

Steeping grains
4 lb Golden Promise
4 lb Genie Pale

Fermentables: 3 lb LME

.25 oz Pallisade 1oz Galena @60
1 oz Galena, .75 oz Pallisade @5

Yeast: Imperial’s Loki

OG: 1.065

FG: 1.012

Bottled: 10/11

ABV: 7.2%