Category Archives: recipes

Smidge Too Far

28656797543_68021837aa_cIt’s a good beer: the chocolate and coffee flavors are there but not sharp at all, it’s got some nice viscosity to it without being syrupy or having an alcohol burn to it. Drinkable in a very pleasant way, with maybe a little more punch than your average bear.

However, I really needed to nix the Black Barley malt. Because my goal was to make a double brown ale, not a porter. Looking at the picture, though, this is clearly a porter. All from half a pound of the Black Barley, so I’ve definitely gotten a lesson in color for beer.

It’s not a bad porter. It’s quite good! It just happens to fail the category of brown ale.

I can live with that and will give it another go sometime.

Double Brown Ale

Brew date: 7/4/16

.5 lb Black Barley, 1 lb Chocolate, .5 lb British brown steeped overnight

Brew day malts and fermentables
5 lb 2 row
1 lb Carared
4 lb LME

.5 oz Wilamette, .5 oz Kent Goldings @60
.5 oz Wilamette, .5 oz Kent Goldings @20

Yeast: Imperial Independence yeast

OG: 1.07

FG: 1.012

Bottled 7/17

ABV: 7.8

The Half Empty

I thought about calling this the Half Full but The Half Empty trips off the tongue better. Maybe I should call this the 50/50?

But here’s why:

Every bottle I’ve opened has come out looking like this photo. Visually amazing to witness, not as much beer left to drink.

My goal was to make a Mild ale and I have to say, it is easy to drink once you can drink it. Sweeter, with a nice coffee and chocolate blend, coming down further on the chocolate side.

Of course, drinking too soon means chewing on foam and that’s a lot less appetizing. The finish is too bright as well; the bubbly elements of this beer wash everything out too fast and hard. It feels prickly and dissuasive of the next sip of beer. Less than awesome, that.

Brew date: 2.28.15

5.5lb mild malt
6 oz Carafa 3
6 oz C80
6 oz Kiln Amber

Fermentables: 3.5 lb LME

Hops :1 oz Simco @ 60

Yeast: 1028 London Ale Wyeast

OG: 1.053

FG: 1.029

ABV: 3.25

Coulda Woulda Shoulda

The head on this is amazing: like velvet, it hits the upper lip. It’s also super clear: deep  umber clarity through the glass. This puppy looks good, I tell you.

The beer itself…falls short of the IPA I was going for. I didn’t stick the landing. There’s a solid malt backbone in here but I didn’t get much in the way of a hoppy nose nor a appropriate finish. Grrrr.

I’m bothered by this because I feel like I used an appropriate amount of hops in the brew, along with a secondary hop addition to provide the scent notation that I’d like this beer to have. It’s not as though this beer is ruined! It’s perfectly drinkable. But Coulda Woulda Shoulda isn’t what I was going for and I wish it was more on target.

Brew Date: 1.11.15

Steeping Malts
2.25 lb Irish Pale
2 lb Munich
2lb 2 row
1 lb Carabrown
1 lb C40

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

1 oz Simcoe, 1 oz Warrior @60
1 oz Cluster @20
1 oz Warrior @5

Yeast: 1084 Wyeast, 3rd use

OG: 1.09

FG: 1.024

1 oz Simcoe in secondary on 1.25.15
Bottled 2.8

ABV: 10.16%

Peanut Butter Bitter

This is the ESB-ish sorta kind beer I made that Shane gave me feedback on a couple weeks ago. Personally, I more fond of this beer than Shane was. It’s malty and I’m not detecting a peanut butter quality. But there is a sweetness in the nose, something that may be what Shane was talking about?

I also get a hint of the hops in there, the Chinook spiciness just under the surface. It’s a sweet beer though; malt is present and forward. However, it’s also sweet in a  different way leading me to think that, Shane is right; the yeast could’ve produced some unwanted sweetness. It’s not fruity though, which is the characteristic I usually associate with yeast pitched incorrectly. I’m hard pressed to understand how to pitch the yeast at the correct time-the moment when it’s at the height of reproduction, instead of starting to eat itself, but that just means there’s more to learn. I’ve also incorporated into future beer recipes the temp at which I pitch the yeast, just as a data point.

The other thing is, it doesn’t taste like a 7% beer, given how light it is. This could be because there’s a steady effervescence that runs throughout the beer: even 3/4ths of the way done, it’s still got a pretty foamy head on it and carbonation is steady. It may be flawed, but it’s certainly drinkable.

Brew date: 12.6.14

Steeping Grains:
S2 lb ME Pale Ale
.5 lb C60

Fermentables: 7lb LME

1oz Galena @ 60
Handful Chinook @ 60
Handful Chinook @40
1 oz Galena@10
handful Chinook @10

Yeast: Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale-2nd use

OG: 1.066

FG: 1.01

ABV: 7.6%

Not That Portland Stout

I’ll just say it up front: I’m happy with how this came out. Really dense with flavor. Roasted, chocolate, with coffee coming in to clean it all up. As it warms up, there’s even a bit of tobacco in the finish. It’s a bit more effervescent than the style would call for, which means I may’ve overdone the bottling sugar, making this beer more ‘bright’ in the mouthfeel than the style calls for. But for the most part this beer rests on the palate like a stout should, I feel; thicker and with more weight than a porter.

Also, something happened with my readings I can’t understand. According to the Original Gravity reading, I’ve got a beer that’s just under 4% ABV. The mouthfeel tells me that this is impossible. Also; it flies in the face of the volume of malts I added to the beer.

So something is off. However, I also tried something new for this beer by steeping all the dark malts in cold water the night before I brewed. I don’t know why that would have thrown things off but when things get weird, I look to the new step in the process.

That said; if that’s what went wrong, then I’m going to go wrong a lot more often.

Brew Date: 11.12.14

.5 lb black patent
1.5 lb Chocolate
2 oz cocoa nibs
Steeped the night before
6 lb Crystal steeped before boil

Fermentables: 5 lb LME

Hops: 2 oz US Nugget @60

Yeast: 1084 Wyeast irish

OG: 1.056 (and this doesn’t make a lick of sense!)

FG: 1.029

Bottled 12.13

ABV: 3.65%

Nothing Happening

I like the Nothing Happening. It’s a pretty low key beer that has turned out better than I expected! There’s a bready smell, possibly from the yeast but I’m hoping the malt contributed to as well. A solid, long lasting head on this beer, with a nice amber color. Pretty clear, too!

The taste is definitely a winner. Malted, toasty flavor but it’s all very light. The finish is clean, effervescence contributing to the lightness of this ale; it just tastes good and is really, really drinkable. Hop presence is pretty low which isn’t bad: I’ve been trying to work more with malt lately anyway. A hint-not a strong one-of some bitterness on the finish is there but overall, this is a malt forward effort.

I suppose this might be called an ESB? I honestly don’t know. I failed to note the base beer style I was going for so now I’m just stuck with something I can’t categorize properly but is tasty.

Tough life, right?

Brew Date: 11.1.14

Steeping Malts
1 lb Caramalt
.5 lb Crystal
1 lb Medium Brit Crystal
.5 lb light Brit

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

1 oz Glacier @ 60
.25 oz mystery hop
.5 oz mystery hop @30
1 oz Glacier @5

Yeast: Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale

OG: 1.066

FG: 1.028

Put into secondary: 11.11
Bottled: 11.15

ABV: 5.15%

Mystery Prize

It’s nice to finally have a beer come out without any significant flaws. Having three beers in a row get out from under me was starting to make me anxious!

This is the first beer I made from hops that were given to me by a friend. Hops I don’t know the variety of but who cares? Free hops are free.

And…it’s good but as I’ve been noting, fresh hop ales just aren’t that compelling.

However, there is a nice spiciness to this beer, both in the nose and on the finish. It’s not very forceful but it exists in just enough quantities to give this beer a little dimension. I’ve also used this with a chunk of wheat malt, which was to give the beer some body, something to stand on in case the hops didn’t work out. Fortunately, it’s unnecessary but as you might be able to glean from the photo, the beer isn’t extremely clear as a result of that. (I think).

I suppose you could call this beer a pale, although from a color perspective it doesn’t really look like it, from a hop perspective I feel I can safely put it in that category.  Also important to note: while there seems to be a lot of hops in this beer by weight, those hops haven’t been dried out, so they’re all still full of moisture after being picked. Their overall impact on the beer is lessened because those hops are adding water to this beer where ordinarily they would not.

Brew date: 9.14.14

Steeping Grains: 2 lb white Wheat

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

Fresh mystery hops from friend!
2.5 oz @ in preboil
2.75 oz @60
2.5 oz @30
2.5 oz @ 10
2.5 oz @flamout

3rd use of German wheat ale yeast from Wyeast

OG: 1.058

FG: 1.018

Secondary notes:
Moved on 10.5, added 3/8th oz mystery hops to secondary

ABV: 5.4%


Every bottle of this beer I open gives me the same result you would get if you put a Mentos in a Coke. The funny thing was, once I was able to taste the beer, it seemed fine! I didn’t know what went so wrong but this is why we have friends who are way better at brewing beer than I am. In this  case, advice came from the wonderful Jen McPoland who won best in show for this year’s Fall Classic.

Who asked me: Did you put too much bottling sugar in?

Now, I’m pretty loosey-goosey when it comes to keeping records on my bottling because by then, the beer is done, right? What could go wrong?

But it’s possible is that I bottled this the same day as I set up a yeast starter and made a simple syrup for both, one that was too strong. Since there isn’t anything else wrong with this beer the simplest explanation is the most likely one.

As for the beer? Well, when it settles out, it’s pretty drinkable with a malt-forward nose and a mild flavor. It’s almost a summer ale instead of an autumn one.

Brew date: 9.6.14

1 lb Vienna
3 lb Munich
1 lb Carahell
1 lb 2 Row

Fermentables: 4 lb LME

1 oz Hallertau @ 60
1 oz Tettnang @60
.5 oz Hallertau @30
.5 oz Tettang @30

Yeast: Pacman Yeast from Light Hop, 2nd use.

OG: 1.06

FG: 1.014

Secondary 9.17, bottled 9.25

ABV: 6.2%

Uneven Imperial

So…this one didn’t quite work out as nicely as I would’ve hoped. The goal was to make a stronger chamomile ale, because I could only make one beer during the month of August. I thought it might be interesting to give that beer a bit of a surge, see if I could get it to work out.

Not so much. In addition to having an uncertain carbonation level, I didn’t really add enough chamomile in there.  That is a surprising thing to realize, since over-addition of the tea has been an issue for many of the batches I made.

Instead, I have an ale that has a fruity sweet nose, as though it didn’t quite get enough sugar eaten out of it, and a sweet but thin mouth. It’s really kind of bland and that’s a very strange thing to say. It’s a bit of a bummer, of course, but the beer is still drinkable.


7 lb Pale wheat
1 lb Belgian biscut

7 lb LME

1 oz N Brewer @ 60
1 oz N Brewere @30
7/8th oz Chamomile tea @flameout

Wyeast German wheat (2nd use)

OG: 1.085

FG: 1.014

Put into secondary on 8.23. Bottled 9/5/14

ABV: 9.6%

In Thar Hills

Successes aren’t always glamorous to talk about but a good beer is a good beer. After getting a reminder from the Commons that golden ales exist, I am very glad that I have given this style a go. I may’ve used slightly darker malts than I should’ve: there is a strange zone for goldens to inhabit between actual ambers and lagers, or even pales.

Color is a funny thing for beer and I’ve never quite gotten it down. Between the red of an amber and the straw of a lager is…everything else? Anything that isn’t obviously a brown, stout or porter, anyway. Still, I suppose intention is what matters here and I was intending a lighter, maltier ale and I got one! It’s tasty and that is what matters. I deliberately kept the hops low, in order to emphasize the malt but there’s still a little zip to it.

Brew date: 6.8.14

Steeping Malts
3 lb Vienna
3 Golden Promise
1 lb Crystal 15
1 Maris Otter

Fermentables: 3.5 lb LME

1 oz US Hallertauer @ 60
1/8th oz Glacier @ 60
1/8th oz Glacier @30
.5 oz US Hallerltauer @ 30
.5 oz US Halltauer @10
.75 oz Glacier @ 10

Yeast: White labs Cali Common-3rd use

OG: 1.07

FG: 1.012

Secondary on 6.18

ABV: 7.8%