Weissbier!  Another favorite style of mine to brew.   Malt bill is simple, very little hops (just to enough for 15-20 IBU) and the rest is all about the yeast.  However, this version won’t be traditional Wheat & Pilsen Malt recipe.   Mostly because I’m out of Pislen, but also because I’m curious what the end product will be like without it.

Avangard Wheat7 lbs
Thomas Fawcett Golden Promise Pale Malt3 lbs
Golden Promise Pale Malt1 lbs 8 oz
German Magnum (14.1% Alpha) T-45.25 oz
German Magnum (14.1% Alpha) T-10.25 oz
White Labs WLP-300 Hefeweizen Ale Yeast1 packet

So that’s a bit different then my past Hefe’s.   However, what’s really different this time around is that I’m trying to a match Munich’s water profile.

I had my brewing water tested and plugged the numbers into Beersmith.   I choose a target water profile of Munich.   The end result are of the following water additions:

MASH Water (4.6 gallons)
Calcium Carbonate 3.01 grams
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) .44 grams

Sparge Water (3.6 gallons)
Calcium Carbonate3.52 grams
Epsom Salt (MgSO4).51 grams

Brewing now… Let’s see how this one turns out.

Hoppy Session

Another of my goto styles of beer is hoppy Session Ale.  Some commercial examples that come to mind: Good Nature Farm Brewer Blight Buster & Non-stop Hop Onslaught, Founder’s All Day IPA,  and Tired Hands Hop Hands.   I’m fortunate that Sapwood Cellars has opened up near me and they specialize in this style.  Their .38 Special and Rings Of Light are delicious.

What is a “session” beer you ask?   Generally it’s a beer between 3-5% ABV.  A beer where by design you can have a few and maintain your falculties. It’s not a new term.   Old school English Milds and Porters also fall into the “session” category. 

So today i’m brewing a beer that’s loosely inspired by a YouTube channel I like to watch (Harrison’s Brewery in the UK).  Harry makes a beer called Vacant Gesture which is only 3.8% ABV.   My brew won’t be an attempt at a clone.   I’m targeting a 4% hoppy ale featuring Cascade hops and Kveik Yeast:

7 lbThomas Fawcett Golden Promise Malt
14 oz Briess Carapils
4 ozAvangard Wheat Malt
1 ozCascade T-60
1 ozCascade Whirlpool 30 min
1 ozCascade Dry Hop 5 Days after primary fermentation
1 ozCascade Dry Hop 3 Days, in 2 days into first dry hop
YeastOmega Hornindal Kveik yeast slurry from previous batch

This brew is currently in the hop-stand/whirlpool.   When it’s keg conditioned I’ll post an update.

9/13/19 Update:   Well I didn’t stick to the dry hop schedule above.  After the first dry hop charge of Cascade I just wasn’t impressed…  So for the 3 day charge I used 1oz of Azacca and 1oz of Cryo Amarillo.   I suspect the Cascade hops were rather old.

I’ve decided to name this ‘Gesture DDH’ since it was inspired by Harrison’s Brewery’s Vacant Gesture.  I’m happy to say I hit my target ABV of 3.8% exactly (well, as exact as you can be with homebrew).

Here’s what it looks like:

3.8% Gesture DDH

Update: 01-17-2020 Just wanted to let folks know that this beer was decent when it was young, but it fell off the cliff quickly.  I didn’t drink the last gallon or so of this brew.   I think I used it to marinate some BBQ.

Sometimes I just want a Stout

One reason why I love homebrewing is that I get to make styles I enjoy which I can’t regularly find on tap at the local pub.   With everyone chasing the latest trends in craft beer I find it rare that a straight up “Stout” is on tap.   That’s why I made this beer.

6 lbBriess Brewer’s Malt 2-Row (1.8 SRM)
6 lbThomas Fawcett Golden Promise Pale Malt (3.0 SRM)
1 lb 5 ozMuntons Chocolate Malt (425.0 SRM)
1 lbFlaked Oats (2.5 SRM)
8 ozDingemans Aromatic Malt (19.0 SRM)
4 ozMuntons Roasted Barley (525.0 SRM)
1.25 ozWarrior 15% Alpha T-60
1 ozEast Kent Goldings 5% Alpha T-10
Nottingham Yeast Harvested from previous batches

The end result?   A 7.4% full bodied stout with chocolate, roast, and bitter finish.  The next version of this I’ll probably dial back the bitterness and maybe ditch the roasted barley all together…

You can find this beer on untappd at this link


What do when you want a light ale on tap made with some ingredients from the backyard?  You make a Blackberry Grape Jalapeno Kolsch.  I use the style of Kolsch loosely here.   It’s a malt bill that’s similar to Kolsch inspired brews I’ve made before but as I didn’t have Pilsen malt I substituted it for Golden Promise:

1 tspCalcium Chloride (mash)
.25 tsp lactic acid (mash)
9 lbsPale Malt, Golden Promise (3.0 SRM)
8 ozCarapils (1.5 SRM)
8 oz Wheat Malt (2.0 SRM)
0.50 oz Hallertau Magnum (14.10%) T-60
1 oz Saaz (2.6%) T-15
1 tspIrish Moss T-10
1 pkgSafAle K-97 German Ale

On day 6 of fermentation the SG was steady at 1.010.   That’s when I dumped approximate 1.5 lbs of Blackberry, 1/2 lb of grapes, and one Jalapeno (all from the backyard) in the fermenter.

Of course the extra sugars kicked off a second fermentation.  I waited another 10 days and keg’d it.   I was pretty sure the secondary fermentation would be done by then.

Before the additions the brew was at 5.4% ABV.  So I’m guessing the end result is between 6 – 6.5 %.

This beer was transformed from what would have been a clear crisp Kolsch inspired brew to something that’s hazy, slightly tart, berry flavors are subtle as is the Jalapeno aroma and flavor (no heat).  Since I like heat I may add two Jalapenos next time 🙂

Lemondrop Hefe

I like making lighter beers for the summer.  I knew I was going to make a Hefe but when checking out the hops at Maryland Homebrew I noticed “Lemondrop” hops.  My mind immediately thought of the German tendency to blend a Hefeweizen with Lemon.

Here’s the ingredients:

6 lb 14 ozPilsner Malt
4 lbWheat Malt
Hallertauer Hop T-60
1 pkg
Fermentis WB-06 Yeast
2 oz Lemondrop 5.2% Alpha
4 days after primary fermentation

I mashed in at 133ºF for 15 mins, stepped up to 152ºF for 60 mins, and mashed out at 168ºF.

The end result?  A 5.0% Hefe with a tart lemon character.  It is refreshing and easy to drink.   The flavor is a bit one demensional so next time I’ll probably substitute some of the Lemondrop for something else.

Lemondrop Hefe

Saison Du Wit

I like Belgian Wit’s and Saison’s so I figured for this brew I’d make somewhat of a hybrid between the two.

I started with a traditional Belgian Wit grain bill:

  • 8 lbs Pilsner
  • 2 lbs flaked oat
  • 1 lb wheat malt
  • 4 oz caramunich malt

I mashed in at 152ºF for 60 mins and mashed out at 170ºF for 10 mins.

The only hops in this brew were 3/4 oz of Columbus in the boil at T-60.

This was my first time using coriander seeds.  The aroma released while crushing them was amazing.   I added 1oz of them at T-5.

That just leaves the yeast.   When Sapwood Cellars was breaking in their brew system they produced a test batch, some of which they gave to homebrewer’s.   I picked up a carboy full and fermented it will Danstar’s Belle Saison Yeast.   I used the slurry from that batch to ferment this brew.

The end result?

My ability to describe flavors and mouth feel is still developing, but I’ll take a stab at it.  The first thing I notice is a slight Saison funk aroma followed by citrus.  I’d say it’s dry with a light body.   The finish to me is a bit tart with some lingering citrus.  I’m left thinking dry hopping this brew would have been good idea, but I really wanted to see what coriander contributes.

Now’s it’s time to keg my Aletoberfest!

Black IPA – Results Are in!

The Black IPA I submitted to NHC 2019 did a bit better than the Kolsch.  My average rating was 30 which is start of the “very good” range.

This is what it looks like in Beersmith:

The judges say:

So it looks like my Black IPA was too roasty for the style.   I’ll definitely take that into consideration when submitting for brews for next years competition.

I’m quite happy the results from this brew.   It’s really cool getting feedback.  

Now back to my regular brewing schedule 🙂

Kolsch – The Results Are In!

As I stated in my previous article I submitted two beers for the National Homebrew Competition.  I didn’t make it past the first round, but that’s not really a surprise.  Here’s the info on the Kolsch!

I had high hops for this beer mostly because I perceived previous versions to be highly drinkable and to style.  If you are interested here is recipe:

Here are the judges score sheets

I find these comments very useful.  A few are rather concerning to me and may point to problems in my process.   Both judges noted the appearance was “hazy”, which certainly should not be the case a Kolsch.   I suspect my beer had not been cold aged long enough before it was evaluated, or some issue occurred when I bottled it.  This is what it looks like today (hazy it is not):

In some aspects the score sheets are contradictory.    On one the finish is “cloying sweet” and the other “lingering bitterness”.   One said the  carbonation was low and the other between medium and high.   One notes the malt character is too low and the other too high.  It seem like they were trying different beers.   Very strange.  I submitted two bottles so I can only assume they each tried a different bottle and one was significantly different from the other.   Maybe I did something wrong during the bottling process?

Anyway…  an overall score of 24 means my beer is “good”.  Not great.  Not horrible…  Just good.   I’ll take that and hope to improve upon that score next time around.


Back in the saddle

After several brew mishaps I took a bit of time off from brewing.  Most of the issues centered around my grain crush so I used the time off to take a deep dive into my mill.

My grain mill has been used quite frequently for the past 3 years.  During that time I’ve never cleaned it.  Tearing it apart and cleaning it was the first order of business.   In doing so I found that the knurls on the main roller were definitely worn.   After cleaning it I figured it would be a good idea to invert the main roller and reassemble the mill and test it.   Unfortunately I encountered the same problem that plagued my recents brews; the mill would just spin and not crush grain.  A closer look was necessary.   A few days go by and I take a second look and notice the the rollers were worn more on the ends.  That’s when it clicked.   I finally realized it was the hopper was extending too far into the mill and rubbing on the rollers.   That would certainly cause them to not spin freely.  So that leads me to my most recent brews.

After figuring out my mill issues I decided I’d enter the AHA National Homebrew Competition (NHC).  Of the 100+ brews I’ve done I’d say my Kolsch and Black IPA are the best beers I’ve made that are “to style”.  So I figured I should make new versions of those beers and submit them in the NHC.

First up was the Kolsch since it needs as much cold storage time post fermentation as possible.   It ideally needs 2 – 3 weeks to “lager” so I brewed it 5 days ago.   In this version has Hallertau, Tettnang, and Saaz hops.  The later of which I dialed from previous versions.  It’s almost done fermenting so I should be transferring it to a keg within a few days.

Next up the Black IPA.  This is one of my favorite styles of beer, it’s hard to find a great commercial example.  I’ve had plenty that are good, but non that are “great”.   The first Black IPA I made was based on the Ace Of Spades kit.  That brew and research on others is what inspired NHC version of my Black IPA.   So the malt bill is quite different and the hops are mix of Pellets & Crypo Hop Pellets.  It should be interesting.  Today was brew day and I’m happy to report every thing worked as expected and I hit my target gravity.

So I’m back in the saddle with two brews happily fermenting away.  I hope they turn out well.

Fingers Crossed


Nae Bad

The Scotch Ale had been resting in keg for a few weeks so it was time for a taste.   My expectations were temperd by the brew day which didn’t go as planned.

Nae Bad – Scotch Ale – 5.3%

Fortunately it was “Nae Bad”.    The color is close to what I was targeting.   There’s a subtle notes of chocolate & caramel, smooth medium body, decent lacing, and at 5.3% highly drinkable.

This will be good beer to have on tap for the winter.  Its good to know mistakes can come out this well.