Tag Archives: recipe

Sabotage Within

31510914194_40af6f35ce_cThis did not turn out so well. I prefer to say that up front because I think it’s always better to front load information like that.

The nose has a little medicinal hit to it, which comes back at the finish. Really, that’s where it goes wrong and it’s enough to make this a disappointment. I’m not sure what’s got this beer off but I’m thinking two things happened urging my process:

First, I have been using a little less water when I’ve been cleaning bottles and I think that I may have to go back up to using a little more. While using more water isn’t ideal, neither is producing a corrupted beer.

Second, I didn’t produce a starter for the yeast. I have been overconfident with the volume of yeast I had available but it wasn’t enough. This delayed the start of the fermentation and could have provided a window where things could go badly.

I think this is less likely, as when I tasted the beer before bottling it seemed fine. If it’s infected, it’s usually pretty easy to tell right then. But having less-than-ideal bottles could be what turned this beer, because two weeks in contaminated vessels will make things go badly.

Brew date: 11/11/16

Steeping grains
4 lb 2 row
2 lb Munich
2 w lb C15

Fermentables: 4 lb EXLME

2 oz Columbus @ 60
1 oz Columbus @ 30
1 oz Columbs .5 oz Zythos @ 5

Yeast: Imperial’s Barbarian-2nd use

OG: 1.064

FG: 1.016

Put into secondary 11/30
.5 oz Columbus and .5 Zythos added to secondary fermentation

Bottled 12.4

ABV: 6.5%

Devils Mother 3: Mary MacLeod

There is something to be said for consistency. Doing the same thing, every time helps bring about results that are expected.

Mary McLeod is the Devil's MotherI’m pleased the say that it’s no different here: Mary MacLeod is a solid version of the Devil’s Mother. I just keep repeating that recipe, and it keeps on delivering.

The nose isn’t too strong and that is a slight ding against the beer. The dry roast coffee scent is there, if I dig into it but it’s not pushed at all. That is only bad because so much flavor is lost without olafactory stimulation!

(Sorry, I’m trying out some $5 words to keep from getting burnt out).

The beer itself though is solid as a brick. Full body, a touch of black licorice in there, almost certainly coming from the Black Patent malt, with nothing too sharp on the bitterness to make the beer too challenging to drink.

Brew Date: 10.22.16

Steeping Malts
1 lb black patent
1.5 lb chocolate
.5 black prinz

Fermentables/brewing malts
3 lb 2 row
4 lb Maris otter
7 lb LME

Additions: 1 lb Lactose

Hops: 2 oz Nugget @60

Yeast: Imperial Darkness

OG: 1.1

FG: 1.03

Bottled 11.13

ABV 9.5%

Foul Ball

Named because it almost hits, but there are a few errors here.

First, I mixed up the malt extract I meant to purchase, getting Light Malt instead of Extra Light. As a result, the beer has come out darker and a bit sweeter than I meant it to. Another reminder to pay attention to what I’m doing.

When I first opened bottles from this batch, there was a hint of citrus in the nose and the malt kept the finish from being too bitter. That was a good thing.

As time when on though, bottles have been coming up semi-infected, overly foamy and a bit sour on the end. Sometimes I got a proper ale but.. a few more misses than hits. What this experience is reminding me is that once a year, I try to just clean everything with bleach: carboys, racking canes, buckets: everything and I haven’t done that yet. It’s quite likely that some of my beers are suffering because of this.

So it’s time to run bottles through the dishwasher & bleach my carboys. Time to clean everything up so I can get better beers in the future. Maybe even take another crack at this and see what happens when I either mean to make a redder ale or get the correct malt extract.

Brew date: 7.10.16

1 lb carapils
1 lb C 30
1 lb Special roast

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

1 oz Mosaic 1 oz Galaxy @60
1 oz Mosaic 1 oz Galaxy @10

1/4 tsp Gypsum

Yeast: Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale (2nd use)

OG: 1.06

FG: 1.01

Secondary 7/29-added 1oz Galena hops

ABV: 6.8%

Success After Disaster

29308996181_31a01b2565_cLook at this:

I mean, sure it’s a little cloudy from the yeast at the bottom of the bottle but after that? THIS is what I’ve been shooting for.

And it doesn’t just look good. The dry hopping worked, providing the beer a little grassy and fruity scent. While there isn’t a lot of malt in the middle, that’s OK because there also isn’t a huge bite at the end. Oh, there’s some bitterness but the effervescence keeps the SAD light and easy to drink.

This is the beer I was hoping to make when the cat died. (It is interesting to note the acronym, which I swear was unintentional).

Now all I have to do is repeat my success…

Brew Date: 6.17.16

Steeping Grains
4 lb Full Pint
2 lb C15
2 lb Vinenna

Fermentables: 4 lb EXLME (extra light malt extract)

1 oz Simco .5 oz Galaxy @60
.5 oz Simco .25 oz Galaxy @30

Yeast: Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale

OG: 1.06

FG: 1.013

Notes: 1 oz Galaxy hop pellets into secondary
Secondary on 6/30
Bottled 7/2

ABF: 6.4

So So

28149572631_313f158f1b_kI like this amber ale. I know, I know, I titled this piece “So So” but I was pressed for titles, trying to make sure I had everything else in line.

The beer has a pretty solid head on it, which provides a little hop nose to it but not much. A whiff, if you will, nothing dramatic.

The rest is a solid red ale. Not quite malty enough for an amber, I would say but enough body to the beer that it won’t be mistaken for a pale. The C120 malt gives it just enough of a roasted quality that, like the hop nose, you get a whiff of it just on your tongue.

Pleasingly, the carbonation whisks everything away rather nicely. The ABV of this might be high enough that So So is a little dangerous, because the alcohol content isn’t notable while I’m drinking it. After three or four of them, though, I can tell that I’ve had a proper pint.

Brew date 5.14.16

Steeping grains
5 lb Gleneagle maris otter
1.5 lb C120
1.5 lb Munich

Fermentables: 4 lb LME

1 oz Glacier, 1 oz Dom Cluster @60
1 oz Dom Cluster @ 5

Yeast: Imperial house (4th and final use)

OG: 1.066

FG: 1.014

Put into secondary 5/29

ABV: 7.0%

Work > Result

The day that Sherpa died, I had started to brew beer.

As you might imagine, everything stopped when we realized that he was going to have to go to the vet. I had water in the kettle moving towards boiling point and ingredients all laid out; that got put on hold. The rest of the day was difficult, to say the least.

After he died, the only thing to do was to continue with the work. Sitting around and mourning him wasn’t going to help anyone-although if I had decided to do that for the day, that would’ve been OK. However, I have found that when things go wrong, solace can be found in activity.

So I continued brewing pale ales because this year, that is what I am doing. The result was less than hoped for.


In one respect, I feel bad. I had hoped that this beer would be a tasty one, that it would be a way to remember a creature who had been very kind to me. That it got infected and poured a glass after glass full of foam makes me feel like I let him down. That’s not a very comfortable feeling.

It’s also a little silly, because he was a cat and cats do not care about beer.

On the other hand, I feel as though I can hardly hold myself accountable for doing less-than-exemplary work on such a difficult day. I did the work and on that day, that is what mattered.

There is also a bright side: the nose on this beer did have a distinct, although not very strong, nose of Galaxy hops. So I’m finally getting closer to a style of beer that resembles a pale ale.

Sorry it wasn’t this one.

Brew date: 4.23.16

Steeping grains
1.5 lb Full pint
1 lb Vienna

Fermentables: 7 lb Extra LME

1 oz Simco, .5 oz Galaxy @60
1 oz Simco, .5 oz Galaxy @10

Yeast: Imperial barbarian (3rd use)

OG: 1.068

FG: 1.02

Secondary  on 5/6
Added 1 oz Galaxy hops to secondary
Bottled 5/7

ABV: 6.5%


Continuing my quest to make a solid pale ale this year, today’s entry, Nudges, isn’t quite right.

The picture doesn’t show it as well as I would like, but this beer is far more orange-amber colored than it is reddish. I tried to get the photo in the light but things were still a little dark. Sorry: I’m very much an amateur when it comes to photos.

It’s so amber colored, though, because of this:

Light malt extract

This is light malt extract (often abbreviated as LME in my recipes) and you may note that the color here is very similar to the color in the beer:

27022622962_15712cb01a_cIt’s got a soft nose of hops which are slightly fruity; the malt midrange is sweet, a little biscuit, maybe a touch of toffee. The finish doesn’t have a strong bitter quality; I’m starting to think I may have made an ESB instead of a pale. I am fairly certain that the C15 grains didn’t have that drastic an effect. Therefore, the Light Malt Extract seems like the most likely culprit. I should try Extra Light next time; I have feeling that will give me the results I’m looking for.

Still, Nudges is a good beer, drinkable and tasty. I learned something here and can put it to use on my next batches. A drinkable beer plus I learned something?¬† That’s a win-win in the best sense.

Brew date: 3/12/16

Steeping grains
3 lb Munich
3 lb full pint
2 lb C 15

Fermentables: 4 lb LME

1 oz Millenium @ 60
.5 oz Galena (pellets) @ 30
.5 oz Galena & 1 oz Millenium @ 10

Yeast: Imperial Barbarian (2nd use)

OG: 1.067

FG: 1.018

1/2 tsp Gypsum in boil
1 oz Glacier in secondary
Secondary 4/2

ABV: 6.6%

I can believe it’s not butter

26298512922_86fc9fe9ea_cSo much about this looks good: smooth, steady head, nice, red, clear ale. But.

It tastes like butterscotch. There is really not much more to say about this beer. It’s flawed, and not just kinda-sorta. No, it’s just bad news.

It’s not something I can throw away, either…it’s bad but it’s not sickly bad and money is still money.

But damnit, it was supposed to be a pale. There is nothing resembling that style in this beer.

A little research suggests that the yeast may have fermented at too high a temperature, so at least I can take this knowledge into my next brew with this yeast. All is not completely lost.

I’m surprised, because pitch temperature is something I’ve been paying attention to lately. I’ve been making sure the temperature of the wort is getting down to at least 75 F. I didn’t worry about getting it lower because I usually have to add another gallon of water to it, and that should drop the temperature down another five degrees, easy. Low 70’s, high 60’s is about where you want to pitch (most) yeast.

Nonetheless, this is a new yeast for me-Imperial’s Barbarian (Aside, this is how we know that this is a young company is run by men. Instead of calling the product something that tells you what it is for, as every other yeast company does, they call it “Barbarian”. Because that’s cool, right?) and that means adapting to what’s given, not what I believe I “know”.

Next time, next time.

Brew date: 1.25.16

Steeping malt: 3 lb C40

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

1 oz Comet,.25 oz Dom Goldings @60
.5 oz Comet, .25 oz Domestic Goldings @ 40
.5 oz Comet .5 oz Dom G @10

Yeast: Imperial “Barbarian”

OG: 1.065

FG: 1.018

Secondary 2/13, 1oz Dom Goldings added
Bottled 2/14

ABV: 6.4%

Rather Not What I Had In Mind

I’m still on a quest to make a decent pale ale and…well, the quest may be more Lord of the Rings in length instead of Green Mile in length. Getting it right is always a challenge worth taking on but I wish I had an easier place to point to where it’s going wrong.

Nose is sweet…hint of alcohol/malt sweet, a little veggie there but not vegetal. By that I mean, the sour taste of veggies isn’t present. It’s grassy, perhaps but not cut grass. So not bad, just not especially pleasing.

The malt is there; it makes a flashbang appearance but rapidly moves towards the bitter flavors. The bitterness isn’t terribly offputting, instead it’s almost textured. My mouth feels like I’ve had a very dry wine when it’s done, the bitterness is fading but still present.

It isn’t bad but it’s definitely short of my hopes for this beer. I can see this beer doing OK with some food; potato chips seem like an excellent choice for some reason. But on the whole, it just is a little too abrasive for the style, too focused on the back end and not enough up front to really love.

What is disappointing about this is that I dry hopped the beer in secondary for about 36 hours. Not very long, but the advice I got from better brewers suggested less is more here. A day, two at the most for dry hopping, before the flavors of the hops start to get ugly. Yet, there’s practically no hop nose to speak of. I suspect I should’ve used different hops for the nose but I wanted to remain consistent in what I’d used.

Brew date: 1.18.16

Steeping grains
6 lb full pint
2 lb C15

Fermentables: 4 lb LME

1.5 oz Falconer’s Flight, .25 Warrior @60
.5 oz Falconer’s Flight, .25 oz Warrior @30
.5 oz Warrior @5

Yeast: Imperial A01 House yeast

OG: 1.069

FG: 1.015

1 oz Warrior hops added to secondary on 1/29

ABV: 7.3%

More Toast, Please

25176592185_4e1dc16690_cThe goal here was to make an amber ale, with a focus on toasted, bready notes.

The nose is not very distinctive: a whiff or oranges, the kind you get when your first start peeling one. It’s good but I’m surprised there isn’t more intensity, given the head.

A bit of malt sweetness in there, which is not too sweet and the finish isn’t very bitter or dry. All in all, a solid, drinkable little beer! However, I was hoping for something a little more toasty, not quite as sweet.

I brought this to the local homebrew club meeting and the response I got was fairly positive, which is great. I mentioned what my intentions were, though and one fellow promptly said, “Biscuit malt.”

Well, of course. I mean, it’s so obvious, as soon as someone smarter than me points that out….

Oh well. OK, next time, biscuit malt!

Brew date:

Steeping malts
2 lb pale wheat
3 lb Maris otter
1 lb 2 row
2 lb C120

Fermentables: 4 lb LME

1 oz Glacier, 1 oz Palisade @ 60
.5 oz Glacier, Palisade @30

Yeast: Wyeast American Ale 2

OG: 1.075

FG: 1.014

Secondary on 11.21

Had to add Windsor dry yeast after 24 hours to get fermentation going.

Bottled 12/5

ABV: 8.3%