Homebrew Recipe: IP…L?

I brewed this recipe this past January… and I’m still drinking them as it’s only grown better with age.

Truth be told, this was a screw-up. I had purchased the ingredients for a few different recipes – an IPA, an amber ale, and a Steam Beer – as I usually do, and I stored the WYEAST packets in the corner of the fridge. My intention on this particular day was to brew an IPA, but I popped the priming bag in the packet of California Lager yeast by accident. Unfortunately – at least for the integrity of my original recipe – I didn’t notice this mistake until I went to pour the primed yeast into the wort.

My original intention was to create a strongly malted IPA with a good hop backbone.

The recipe is as follows:

Fermentables –

  • 1 lb of Crystal 20
  • 1/2 lb toasted barley
  • 5 lbs Pils DME
  • 3 lbs Amber DME

Additions –

  • 2 oz Northern Brewer @ boil
  • 1 oz Saaz @ boil
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss @ t-10 min
  • 1 oz Cascade @ t-2 min
  • 1 oz Summit @ t-2 min
  • 1 oz Chinook – dry hop

Yeast –

  • California Lager WYEAST

The brewing process was pretty simple: a 30 minute steep of the grains, addition of the extract, a 60 minute boil, the yeast addition, 14 days in the primary, and 14 days in the secondary to dry-hop.

Homebrew Recipe: California-Style Steam Beer

This California-style Steam Lager was a pleasant surprise for a couple of reasons. First, I have little experience with Steam Beers, and tend to be biased against lagers. I realize that there is no reason for me to dislike lagers, the only real experience I’d had with them had been – of course – those of the mass-produced variety. As a result, I was a bit biased… but can you blame me?
Anyway, I picked up some California Lager yeast (WYEAST 2112) on a whim, and desigend a couple of brews with the cold weather in mind.
The following recipe is for a 5 gallon batch, and it has been one of my most well-recieved beers to date.

Fermentables:steam beer
1/2 lb Crystal 20 – Steep in 3 gallons of water for 30 minutes at 150 degrees
Bring to Boil
Add 7 lbs Pilsner LME
1.5 oz Perle @ boil
.5 oz Cascade @ T-2 min
Allow to Ferment for 2 weeks
2nd Stage for 3 weeks
Good to drink after 2 weeks in bottles.

2013-01-12 12.26.19

For the low amount of hops in the additions, this beer is consistantly hoppy, but enjoyable by all.

Homebrew Recipe: Apfelwine

In early October of 2012, I decided that I wanted to make a hard cider. I had grandiose dreams of pressing my own apples for about ten minutes. After poking around online for a while, I realized that pressing apples would be a shitload of work for (according to the internet) likely very little payoff, and possibly a horrible disaster. So I ditched the ideas of fresh-pressed cider, and opted instead for a tasty take on Apfelwine, which seems like a good (and safe) route to take given that it was my first foray into cider-territory.2012-10-07 13.17.18

I had purchased a brand new carboy for the occasion (Side Note: Do NOT use the same carboy to ferment beer afterwards, I ruined a batch of Pale Ale because I wasn’t thinking), and I was ready to go after picking up the following ingredients:

  • 5 Gallons of Tree Top Apple Juice
  • 2 lbs of Dextrose
  • Red Star Cotes des Blancs Yeast

I based this on the original recipe posted on winemakingtalk.com. As you can see, the type of wine yeast is different from the original, which is because the helpful people at Larry’s Homebrew advised me that they have been happier with the ciders made with the type of yeast that I bought.2012-10-07 13.22.54

2012-10-07 13.21.52As I pitched the yeast according to the package instructions, I poured some of the apple juice from each bottle into the carboy, and then divided up the dextrose into the partially full apple juice bottle, and shook them up to make the sweet sludge easy to pour into the fermenter.

After pouring the pitched yeast into the carboy, I stopped it with the bung, gave it a good shake, and placed the airlock.

The original recipe advised filling the airlock with vodka rather than water. I was glad that I followed this advice a few weeks later, as I found the corpses of nearly half a dozen flies drowned in the airlock by the time that it had finished fermenting. I can only imagine that they died happy… or at least tipsy.

2012-10-07 13.28.48After that, I waited. It was kind of a pain in the ass actually. That hefty carboy of sickly sweet smelling liquid was shifted to and fro as I brewed and bottled at least three beers, and there were a few times when I glared at the giant bottle, wishing that it was filled with IPA instead of apple juice. But still I waited.

I had read that I should bottle after about a month, but I let the concoction go for nearly 45 days before finally getting around to it. I followed my normal bottling process, using 3/4 of dextrose in a cup of water to try to ensure a little fizz.

And then… I waited longer… and longer… and longer still. In fact it took more than four full months in bottles for it to reach a drinkable state.2012-10-07 13.41.49

Here’s my timeline:

October 7 – “Brew”

November 21 – Bottle

Around Christmas – First try… disgustingly sweet

May 18 – Shared with friends… good reviews all around.

The final product has the light color of apple juice (as you would imagine), a light body with a little bit of fizz, and a crisp, dry flavor, like biting into a good apple.

Make this recipe. It’s delicious, and well worth the wait.






Homebrew Recipe: B&G Amber

Some days, you just need to brew something simple. For my brother-in-law and I, two days after Christmas was one of those days.

At the time, I had rencently brewed quite a few beers, including the Red, the WH Honey Ale, and my Holiday Beer, and when I purchased the ingredients for each brew, I had made a point of picking up additional ingredients. what’s mroe, many of the recent extract recipes had called for odd amounts of DME, which left me with a few 1/3 and 1/2 empty bags of various kids of dry extract. I also had about half a pound of Saaz left over from a 16 oz. bag that I had purchased in October or so.

Anyway, with this overstock of ingredients, and a basic need to create something simple, Grant and I set out to make an easy-drinking amber.

We used:

6 lbs DME

1 oz. Saaz @ boil

1 oz. Saaz @ 45 min

1 oz Saaz @ 30 min

1 oz Saaz @ burnout

American 1056 Yeast

Primary for 2 weeks, then bottle for 1 month before cracking the first one.

The result was exactly what we were hoping for. It was a simple ale with an amber hue and a good amount of foam after a clean pour.

Plus it only ran me about 25 bucks for the brew.

Try this one out!

Waiting for beer…

20130227_205003There’s little worse than waiting for a brew to finish. After spending all those hours planning, purchasing, brewing, racking and bottling, it’s harder still to wait for weeks to try the brew. I slowed my brewing over the winter as well. In fact, I haven’t had anyhting in the brewpot for over a month and a half now, and it’s starting to feel… well… wrong. Granted, I currently have a stock greater than what is pictured here (about 10 cases of 12 oz. bottles, and approximately 50 22 oz. bottles) but what I’m really missing is the fun of creating the beer.

I just 20130227_204944took a look back over my first few months as a brewer, and while I definitely churned out quite a few brews, I still have a lot to learn about the process, and the patience, involved in creating good beer. Luckily, I have a few friends, some work collegues, and a greater community here on the internet from which I can draw support and inspiration.

Here’s to returing to the garage and firing up the kettle! Cheers!

Homebrew Recipe: Irish Red

2013-01-20 18.23.58-1One of the first better-tasting beers that I ever tried was Killian’s Irish Red. A friend of mine bought a six-pack of them for St. Paddy’s day one year – mostly just because it has “Irish” in the name – and not only did we have the pleasing realization that beer could have more character than Natty Ice, we also came to the unfortunate conclusion that a six pack is never enough. Granted, I later realized that Killian’s is a lager, is manufactured by Coors, and is not nearly the best Irish Red out there, but there’s no way I could hold any of those things against it; unlike most of the beers I’d had up to that point, it didn’t taste like urine.

Though I usually prefer something pale with a lot of hops, I’m always on the lookout for a decent Irish Red. There’s something about the crimson hue, the heavy maltyness and the toasted flavor that makes my mouth water. So after becoming a homebrewer, it stood to reason that I would eventually brew up one of these pleasing beers. We’ve made at least one red before, but unfortunately it was from a kit, was one of our first beers, and through a number of what I’m sure were mistakes on our part, had the unpleasant aroma and flavor of bananas.

So it was about a month ago when I went back to my recent source of inspiration – Papazian’s book – and found the basis for an Irish Red recipe that is not only simple, but turned into a delicious and balanced brew.


  • 1 lb Crystal 20
  • ½ lb. Toasted Malted Barley


  • 5 lbs Amber LME


  • 1 oz N. Brewer @ boil
  • 1 oz Tettnager @ burnout


  • WYEAST 1056 (American)

Brew it… it’s good

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.