Homebrew Recipe: WH Honey Ale

Like the White House honey Porter, I decided to brew this beer with the hope that I could use the opportunity to repeat “FOUR MORE BEERS!!!” over and over again. Needless to say, that got pretty old pretty quickly.20130116_185714

The original recipes (including the one posted below) can be found at the White House Blog. The recipe itself is relatively straight-forward, but as I was working with a dealine on my brew day, my brain went into auto-pilot mode, and I included certain ingredients – namely, the honey – in the wrong order. The original recipe – pictured below – calls for the inclusion of honey near the end of the boil (in the last five minutes. I presume that this gives the beer a more lasting sweetness, and enduring honey-flavor. Of course, unless I make it again, I won’t know what it’s SUPPOSED to taste like, as I dumped the honey in with the rest of the extract… and THEN read the reast of the instructions.

Oh well; my version of the brew turned out to be pretty damn tasty.

Here it is:

Grains: (Steep for 30 minutes in 3 gallons of water at 150 degrees)

  • 8 oz Crystal 40
  • 8 oz Crystal 60
  • 4 oz Crystal 80


  • 6.5 lbs Light LME
  • 1 lb. Light DME
  • 1 lb. Wildflower Honey


  • 1.5 oz Goldings (@ boil)
  • 1.5 oz Fuggles (@ 5 minutes left)


  • Windsor Dry Ale Yeast

Unlike the porter, I would certainly make this beer again. It has a nice amber color, a balanced maltyness, it’s not too sweet, but still has a lingering hint of honey, and the


Tired dog and a homebrew

I enjoyed the first of my batch of the White House Honey Ale (recipe posted here) last night after a run with Attila. While I assume he was sad that he wasn’t allowed a mug of his own, he seemed satisfied to simply bask in the warmth of the fire.

For being a brew that’s only been in bottles for a few weeks, the beer was nicely balanced, with a nice light-brown hue, and pleasant malty flavor to balance the lingering sweetness of the honey. There were minimal hop-notes detectable to both the nose and the palate, but I’m hoping that a few more weeks in bottles will age out some more of the sweetness, and bring the savory notes forward.tilla and whha

Homebrew Recipe: The Murphy’s Holiday Cheer

20121219_205941The first winter beer that I ever put my lips to was Samuel Adams’ hefty winter brew “Old Fezziwig Ale.” I think I was around 21 at the time, and to my uncultured beer-palate, the Boston-based brewery’s Christmas concoction was like getting punched in the mouth by a beer-soaked Christmas cookie. My friend Jon and I – who had purchased the brew as part of a Sam Adams winter 12-pack – both agreed that it was the worst beer that each of us had ever tasted. Looking back, I’m not surprised that we didn’t like the brew considering we both unusually defaulted to Labatt Blue, and I (shamefully) had a thing for Bud Light in aluminum bottles. We had no taste. There. I said it. Needless to say, we both tend to avoid winter warmers as a result of this early experience. Thankfully, our tastes in beer have matured significantly since then, and I’ve come to appreciate a good spiced beer though – admittedly – I don’t seek them out, as the memory of that first hit of Fezz still tends to linger.

It was for this reason that I felt a slight tinge of apprehension when my wife asked if I wanted to make a holiday beer to hand out to friends and family for this past Christmas season. Don’t get me wrong, I love brewing, and her proposal lent a certain validity to the results of my relatively newly-acquired hobby, but there’s a difference between giving beer to your drunk friends when they’re over for the evening, and openly distributing it to your colleagues.

Krystle’s chief complaint about my brewing was the lack of appeal to beer-drinkers who like things a little lighter (a problem that I recently overcompensated for with the Light Honey Ale). Because of this, we decided to try to devise a holiday brew that would have a lighter body, medium malt-flavor, and noticeable, but not overwhelming, spice notes. I found my starting point in Papazian’s Complete Joy of Hombrewing (page 220). I modified his “Holiday Cheer” recipe, which he claims is prize and heart-winning, and ended up with the following:

Grains: (Steep in 3 gallons of 150 degree water for 30 minutes)

  • ¾ lb. Crystal 10
  • ¼ lb. Black Patent


  • 6 lbs Light LME
  • 1 lb. Wildflower Honey


  • 2 oz Cascade (full boil)
  • Spices: (final 10 minutes)
    • 6 inches Cinnamon Stick
    • 1 oz peeled and sliced fresh ginger
    • Zested peels of 4 oranges
  • ½ oz Saaz (final 2 minutes)

WYEAST 1056 – American Ale

I brewed on October 27th, racked on November 5th, and bottled on November 12th. The final brew has a nice spiced aroma that complements, but in no way overwhelms, the smooth and light malty mouthfeel and noticeable hoppyness of the brew. The one complaint that I had was the surprising lightness of the beer (success) when held against the expectation of it being a winter warmer. Were I to make it heavier, additional malt (perhaps 2 lbs of amber or dark) would round it out nicely. My wife designed the labels, and we handed them out to work colleagues (although that’s hard to do when you’re a highschool teacher) and friends.334706_10100376388581320_1989011041_o


Brew Recipe: White House Honey Porter

Just before the election, the White House and Obama’s campaign did a great job of making a very small percentage of the population (homebrewers) believe that the Presdent somehow identified with them. Not only did they hype up the idea that the president was a homebrewer, they claimed that the recipes were secret, and only released them after enough people petitioned the White House. First off, I watched the video (posted with the recipies on the White House blog: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/09/01/ale-chief-white-house-beer-recipe) and the president isn’t down there tranferring the wort and spilling sanitizer on his shoes… that job falls to the competent chefs of the nation’s first domicile. Second, it’s certainly not worth the $1200 that a single bottle sold for at auction (granted, it was for charity) not too long ago. Sure, I appreciate a president who drinks beer, in fact, I can imagine that he drinks beer frequently. You can you buy beer recipe kits for these brews (including 1-gallon verions) at Northern Brewer.

All that crap being said, I decided to jump on the bandwagon, and try out the brew for myself. I had a few other brews under my belt when these recipes were released, so I thought I’d pick up the ingredients and bust them out in a weekend. After copying the recipes down originally, I decided that I was in the mood for a beer that didn’t call for a pound of honey. That was the weekend that I ended up brewing the WTF? and my last AltBier. Needless to say, I eventually grabbed the ingredients – it turns out that honey from the White House beehives is VERY hard to come by – and tossed them in the brewpot.

Here is my rendition of the Honey Porter:


  • 3/4 lbs Munich Malt
  • 1 lb. Crystal 20
  • 6 oz. Black Malt
  • 3 oz Chocolate Malt


  • 6.5 lbs Light LME
  • 1 lb. honey (I use organic wildflower from the brew supply store)

Additions: (the original recipe calls for 10 HBU’s, so I did my best to approximate)

  • 1/2 oz. Goldings @ 15
  • 1/2 oz. Goldings @ 30
  • 1/2 oz. Hallertau @ 60


  • Nottingham Dry Yeast

This beer takes a while in the bottle before it tastes good. My original notes got thrown away (dumb, I know) but I know for certain that this has been resting since early December, so more than a month as I write this. After two weeks, the duration that the recipe calls for, the brew was sickly sweet, with little “porter”-like character, and nearly no head. It’s only recently, after about five weeks, that the beer has a decent body, a light (odd for a true porter) mouthfeel, and a sweet aroma. Not bad in the end, but I will NOT be making this one again.

Brew Recipe: Light Honey Ale

As far as brewing is concerned, there is very little that is easier – and more immediately rewarding – than brewing an extract-only light ale. As with most light beers (and really anything else that appeals to the bovine masses) it only takes a few simple ingredients to make something mildly pleasing, and therefor adored by all. Seriously… What, you think the Bloomin’ Onion or the Big Mac are complex dishes? You think there are a lot of ingredients in Budweiser? Sure, us ‘Mericans love guns, and we certainly love saying that we love freedom, but most of all we love simplicity… and things with lots of salt and sugar. Mmmm… makes me want to pop over to Applebees for some babyback ribs and a Bud Light.

Anyway, in an effort to appeal to the female members of the Shadow clan, and to see how easy it would be to churn out a light, decent-tasting homebrew, I raided the malt-shelf over at Larrys Brewing Supply, and concocted the following recipe, which Jon is now affectionatly calling “Yeti Piss”.

Fermentables: (dissolve in 3 gal of 150 degree water, and bring to a boil. boil for 60 min)yeti piss

  • 3.5 lbs Pils DME
  • 1.5 lbs Honey


  • 1 oz of cascade, borzken down as follows:
    • 1/4 oz @ boil
    • 1/4 oz @ 30 min
    • 1/2 oz @ 0 min

Yeast: WYEAST American Ale 1056

I ended up racking this brew into a second stage after only 7 days of fermentation. Unfortunately, I had run out of bottles, so I had to wait for a delivery from a friend. As I mentioned above, a light brew like this is immediately satisfying, and can be consumed as soon as it is carbonated. After only a week in the bottle, the beer had a pleasant, smooth mouthfeel, with some nice sweet honey-notes. A few more weeks in the bottle have aged-away the excess sweetness from the bottling sugar, and have allwed the subtle, medium-hoppy flavor of the Cascade to balance out the honey. It has a nice, clear golden hue, and is a hit with the whole crew.



Homebrew Recipe: Dark Altbier

This is the OTHER result (the first being the WTF?) of the mixup of some Papazian recipes. This brew is delicious. It has a dark amber color, a smooth mouthfeel with a light bitter finish, just enough hoppy flavor to complement the dark body, and a standard altbier yeastiness. Make it. It’s very good.


  • 3/4 lbs Crystal 40
  • 1/2 lb chocolate 350


  • 6 lbs Amber LME


  • 2 oz Northern Brewer hops (full boil)
  • tsp Irish Moss (@ 10min)

WYEAST German Ale

Homebrew Recipe: The “WTF?”

This beer is beer.

That last line was my wife’s analysis of this beer. Here is mine:

This beer was one of the results of the mix-up that I explained in my last post: The “Perils” of Homebrewing: Shadow(brew)ing Papazian. The result was a dark, bitter black ale, with a light sweetness, as the bitter original flavor was cut by the ginger and the light aroma of the Saaz with which I chose todo an additional dry-hop after racking the fermented brew.

Grains: (Steep for 30 min @ 150)

  • 1/4 lb Chocolate 250
  • 1/4 lb Black Malt


  • 6.5 lbs Dark LME


  • 2 oz of Cascade hops (@boil)
  • 4 0z grated ginger root (@boil)
  • 1 oz Willamette leaf hops (finishing @ t-1 min)
  • 2 oz Saaz (for dry-hop in 2nd stage)


  • My old standby – WYEAST American Ale

Follow the normal procedure for a brew, adding the grated ginger with the cascade at the boil. After fermentation, rack to a 2nd stage and add 2 oz Saaz. 2nd stage for 14 days. Bottle with bottling sugar. Good after two weeks, better after four.

The “Perils” of Homebrewing: Shadow(brew)ing Papazian

When we first began homebrewing, my buddy Matt (an official Shadow Brewer) brought over a book that he had received from a friend as a gift. He left it at my house, as my garage had become the defacto brew-cave, and it was promptly tucked into a corner and forgotten as we stumbled our way through our first few brew sessions. The results of these early sessions were good amateur beers: Red Ale from and kit, Pale Ale from the homebrew supply store’s recipe, and a few other randomply downloaded recipes from here, there and everywhere on the web. Then one day, having run out of sit-down toilet-time reading, I turned to the forgotten text: Charlie Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Home Brewing. The book is nothing short of awesome. Papazian – the “pioneer of beer” – is one of (if not THE) major driving forces behind the homebrewing movement. He founded the AHA – the American Homebrewer’s Association – and the Great American Beer Festival. His mantra, which he repeats throughout his book is as calming as it is appealing: “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.”

Needless to say, my on the toilet time increased as my knowledge of basic homebrewing began to grow. I started learning actual terms for things that we had been referring to as “the not beer yet” (wort) and “that crap at the bottom” (trub), and started reading through delicious looking recipes, which went on for pages.

While reading these recipes, I had an idea… What if I were to brew my way through Papazian’s book? It would be like the blog basis for that Julie & Julia movie, except not boring, and with beer! Then I considered my process. Could I brew them in order? Should I start with something easier? What if I couldn’t find the right ingredients? Would I have the patience? What if I wanted to brew a pilsner or lager, but I couldn’t maintain temperature? Those were all questions that I didn’t answer… mostly because I got bored asking questions. Instead, I started to thumb through the recipes, and landed on one that looked delicious, the Vagabond Black Ale on page 214. Go ahead… flip to it. Ok, truthfully it was the picture that first drew my attention. Like many suburban upper-middle class males, I have a weird obsession with the hoboes of yore, and a beer associated with a picture of a dude with a bindle full of brew was too good to pass up.002

On the way to the store I decided that one brew would not be enough. I mean really, when is one brew ever enough? So I added another one: a German Alt (Osmosis Amoebas German Alt from page 199) that looked like a straightforward brew.

So the problem with me going to Larry’s, the closest homebrew store to my house, is actually the same as the problem with me going any other store where there are things that I want: I get so wrapped up in buying things that I forget simple steps, like pacing myself, or labeling the products that I’m shoveling into my cart. Needless to say, my lack of attention to detail resulted in some basic mix-ups during the brewing process. These goofs – of course – ensured that my resulting brews were nowhere near those intended by the good Mr. Papazian, but I can assure you that they were (correction: are – I’m enjoying one of them at the moment) thoroughly delicious.

What’s funnier than my initial mix-up is that when I realized that I had begun steeping the wrong grains for the yeast that I had activated (ahh the wonders of WYEAST self-activation pouches), I freaked out. Thinking about it, I have no idea why it made a difference. I had the ingredients to what could very possibly shape up to be a great beer in my brewpot. I had a beer in my hand. There was no reason for the moment of panic and profanity that ensued. But then I calmed down (although those who know me would doubt that I had a moment of panic in the first place). Why? I had looked at the book again, and come across Papazian’s pearls of wisdom – “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.”

Words to live by.

Brown Ale Recipe

September 22, was a busy day for the Shadow Brewers… not only did we roast upwards of 20 lbs of pumpkin, and churn out both the Pumpkin Ale and Pumpkin Porter, but we also found some time to squeeze in a tasty Brown Ale!

Brown Ale Recipe:

1-1/2 lbs. Domestic 2-Row
1/2 lbs. British Brown
1/4 lbs. Crystal 60
1/8 lbs. Chocolate 250
1/2 lbs. Cara-Pils

6 lbs. Amber LME

1 oz. Northern Brewer (Bittering) @60 min
1 oz. Saaz @15 min
1 tsp Irish Moss @ 10 min

Safale US-05

Steep the grains in 4 gallons of 150 degree water for 30 minutes. Remove the grains, and increase the heat. Add LME and bring to a boil. Make additions as listed above. Full boil = 60 minutes. Cool to 85 degrees, add to carboy, top to 5.5 gallons with water, and pitch yeast. Ferment for 7 days. Bottle, and let sit for 2 weeks.

This is an easy-drinking Brown Ale that is appealing to all. The medium-body, light hoppy aroma and smooth finish made this a great beer to appeal to our diverse tastes as a group.. As Matt said: “I could drink that Brown ale all day!”

Pumpkin Ale Recipe

If you’re thinking aobut making a season, pumpkin-based beer, this is a great recipe to start with. It yielded a pleasant, aromatic beer with a solid, but easy-drinking malty mouthfeel and a nicely spiced finish.

Pumpkin Ale Recipe Pumpkin Preparation (Same for Ale and Porter)

  • Cut up a pumpkin (about 10 lbs) or use two cans of pumpkin puree)
  • Sprinkle with spice mixture:
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp nutmeg
    • ¼ tsp allspice
    • ½ tsp ground ginger
    • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees
  • Use the same spice mixture for the last 5 minutes of the boil as well


  • 10 lbs of spiced and roasted pumpkin
  • 2 lbs Munich Malt
  • ½ lb Crystal 90
  • ½ lb of carapils


  • 7 lbs light LME


  • 8 oz Spiced and Roasted Pumkin (full 60 min boil)
  • 1 oz Northern Brewer (full 60 min boil)
  • 1 oz Saaz (10 min remaining)
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss (10 min remaining)
  • Spice Mixture listed above (5 min remaining)


  • WYEAST 1056 (American Ale)

Prepare pumpkin as listed above. Steep pumpkin and grains at 150 degrees for 30 minutes in 4 gallons of water. Remove pumpkin and grains, and increase heat. Add extract. Bring to a boil. Make additions as listed above (60 minute total boil time). Cool to 85 degrees, and funnel into carboy. Add water to total 5.5 gal, and pitch yeast. Ferment for 7-9 days and bottle. Age for 2 weeks before drinking.