Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gettin' Back into the Swing of Things

Hi All, Well it appears I have taken a little vacation from the blogging world (as well as brewing) because I had to move the family and I so I have been busy with that. My wife and I are about to have another baby here like 5 days ago but the little bugger just doesn't want to come out. We are on high alert as the baby could come any second now. Let me pat myself on the back a bit here because I am high on my first "Best of Show" award that I just got last Saturday at the Michigan Brew Fest down in Columbus Twp (Richmond Area). I entered a Spiced Brown Ale under the Christmas Beer category and it did very well. Now I am totally stoked to bet back at it and get brewing again. I have a few brews up my sleave now that I am getting settled in here at my new place. I am planning on switching up my whole brewing repretoire by trying to set myself up with a HERMS system or "Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash" system. I will need to buy a pump in order to do this and probably drill a few wholes in my hot liquor tank (pot that I heat up my sparge/strike H20) but I think it will be worth it. For those of you that aren't sure how a HERMS system works, let me try to paint you a picture for I don't have any pics on hand (although there a a billion of them just google it)
Basically the main thing that makes up a HERMS system is a hot liquor tank with what would appear to be an immersion wort chiller in it. Now a wort chiller is basically a "Heat Exchanger". Typically you run cold H2O through an immersion wort chiller and place in in your hot wort to cool it down. Well you can also use one to heat up your mash. When you place the coil into your hot liquor tank and raise the temp of that water you can recirculate your wort through the "Heat Exchanger" to heat up the wort and return it right back into your mash tun thus allowing you to bring up your temp without placing your mash on a burner or adding a bunch of boiling H20) do the tun diluting it. Brilliant! I am also going to build myself a manifold to place in the bottom of a cooler so I can do my mashes in a large picnic style cooler instead of my 14 gallon pot with a false bottom. My efficiencey has sucked ever since I started using my pot to mash/lauter in. I went from about 75-80% efficiency using plastic buckets to about 55-60% in my big 'ol pot. I have trouble shot and trouble shot and I can't figure it out so it is time to make a change. I will post some pics of the new setup once I get put together. I'll try to keep updating more frequently now the the chaos is coming to an end.



Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What's Shakin Homebrewers?

Hey there all, sorry for the delay in updating my blog, I've been extremely busy being it is summer and there are always weddings and trips and beer festivals and what not. Well, I went to the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti July 27th and 28th. Holy shit, was that a fun time. I drank more sour beer than I ever thought possible, and many other styles, many worthy of swapping your first born for a barrel. I will be making the trip annually from now on. I got to meet a lot of you beer lovers that I usually only communicate with through e-mail and that was probably the best part for me. It's amazing how you can meet someone face to face and feel like you have known them forever--as was the case with many of you I met at the festival. I haven't been brewing for the past few months because I have been mega-busy with weddings and such but rest assured friends, I have a mental list of recipes that I want to brew that would make Ol' Gambrinus want to do the knuckle shuffle. I think I will be doing another Belgian Strong Golden with a few spices, a Roggenbier, West Coast Red Ale (back by popular demand), Brown Ale with a Chai addition based on one of Randy Mosier's recipe from "Radical Brewing", and another Brettanomyces Claussenni brew because the first one rocked my socks off. Hope everyone who reads this is finding success in their efforts. Brew on!


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Beer: An Insider's Guide - Beer Connoisseur

We go behind the scenes of the world’s largest annual competition for professional brewers to see how they decide the beers worthy of Champion Trophies at the Australian International Beer Awards. Three weeks before the winners are announced at the “Academy Awards of Beer”, from 9am to 5pm for five straight days, the nine judges will each sample the 502 entered beers… and unlike wine judges, they don’t spit it out.Head judge Rob Greig says one of the key taste components of a good beer is its level of bitterness and to test that thoroughly, the bitterness glands are at the back of the throat so the beer must be swallowed… all 502 times.

Beer: An Insider's Guide - Appreciating Beer

There are around 50 styles of beer that can be broadly categorised into distinct groups. We begin the series by explaining what makes each beer style unique and what distinguishes ales from lagers; the two major beer ‘families’. As the world of beer flavours grows every year, new respect for its gastronomic worth is pushing beer back onto the dinner table. We already drink five times more beer than wine but now public attitudes are changing about when and how we drink it. Hosting hundreds of “Beer Appreciation Dinners” around the world, Brewmaster Bill Taylor – responsible for the taste of two million bottles of beer brewed daily at Lion Nathan Breweries – is one of the key players involved in raising public awareness about the new age of beer. We drop in on one of Bill’s dinners to see what foods complement what beers, we learn how to pour a beer correctly and we discover the truth about much-debated points like whether beer is best from a bottle or can.

Beer: An Insider's Guide - Beer and Food

Their campaign to take barbeque cooks back to school is part of a gastronomic revolution that has swept beer along in its wake. We join their new age barbeque class that shows men how to cook moderncuisine and how to match particular beers with particular foods. Beer and food matching has become a buzz topic in gastronomic circles. Multi-award winning chef Tim Pak Poy is an uncompromising epicurean – quality is everything and beer is no different. Tim is preparing his new season beer list and has asked acclaimed brewmaster Bill Taylor to help match styles with various dishes. Bill is one of the world’s leading authorities on beer and its relationship to food. We check his recommendations and learn why what food, goes with what beer.

Beer: An Insider's Guide - Beer Mania

After touring their beer-filled house, we follow them to the 25th Anniversary “Canathon” where beer can collectors from all over the world gather to swap andtrade. Beer can collectors are just one example of people afflicted by “Beer mania”. From the Latin “bibere” – to drink – this ubiquitous beverage has developed its own sub-culture. Collectors of cans, bottles and memorabilia, home and pub brewers, beerjudges, brewing historians and plenty more are fascinated by the wider world of the amber.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Carbonation Issues

What the hell, it figures I would run into problems with my carbonation right before a local homebrew competition. I was going to have about 4 beers that I wanted to enter in the Hereford and Hops Homebrew Competition coming up at the end of June BUT I had started using DME to carbonate my last 3 batches of beer, all of which have shitty CO2 going on. They just so happen to be the beers that I had been REALLY looking forward to brewing because I spent a lot of time working out the recipes, well one was a JZ recipe, but my RIS was all off the top of my head. I'm bummed out because the RIS I brewed tastes so bloody amazing aside from the fact the the carbonation isn't up to par. I have to brew this bad boy again and get the Carb right this time. The other one is a 10 gallon batch of smoked porter that I used Jamil Z's recipe for. I tastes damn good too but again, the Carbonation is just not 100%. Oh well live and learn. Not sure why I decided to change to DME in the fist place. I have had such success with Dextrose or just straight up Sucrose. Oh well, now I now. I think for any of you brewers that decide you want to go with the DME, go by a weight that you know will work rather that a volume that you are uncertain with....Or just stick with the dextrose or sucrose. That is what I have found to work the best, aside from force carbonation.

Peace out,

May all your brewing experiences be merry.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

La Folie Clone (New Belgium Brewery)

I was trying to think of something to brew for this weekend all week and I kept throwing around the idea of doing a Bell's Two Hearted clone recipe that I've been sitting on for some time now but while looking through BYO's 150 Classic Clone Recipes issue I saw the recipe for "La Folie" from the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, CO. Since I'm on a sour beer kick I was immediately stoked. Plus I have every thing I need to brew this including some french oak chips and the Wyeast Lambic Blend. In a year from now I am going to have about 20 gallons of sour beer to drink between this brew, the Flanders Sour Red that I brewed last week, and the All-Brett Beer that I am going to do using the B. Claussenni strain. Sweet!

Sunday, May 20 2007

It's going nuts in the primary and I will transfer this to a secondary after 10 days leaving behind as much of the trub as possible. Then I am going to pitch the WYEAST Lambic Blend and let it do its thing. It was so cold the last few days I actually had to throw the brew belt on my carboy to warm it up to 70+ degrees to get my fermentation going. I saw that my two carboys of Flanders red got down to 64F. I had to move everything so I wasn't have all my yeast poop out on me. I think I caught it in time.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Amazing Daze American Wheat Ale

Kentucky Breakfast Stout in hand, I thought I would try to brew something up for the Hereford & Hops homebrew competition coming up. Based on what grains I have on hand aside from the ones I have set aside for a batch of wedding brews for my friend Jason, I decided to brew a hybrid American Wheat Beer. Hell, it's summer. The recipe is based on the one by the same name as my title in "Radical Brewing" by Randy Mosher. Great Book. I tweaked the recipe a bit. I am adding Coriander Seed at the end of the boil and I upped the grain bill just a few pounds to compensate for my efficiency. I also don't have rice hulls to aid in filtration so I through in a pound of pale malt (unground) to help prevent a stuck sparge which can happen easily when using a lot of Wheat Malt.


I got a yeast starter going of California Ale Yeast WLP 001 in the big 2000ml flask for the Wheat Beer. That was the deciding factor in what beer I decided to brew today, was the yeast. I didn't have any Weiss Yeast and this recipe didn't call for it so it was perfect. I am curious to see how this turns out with a highly attenuative American Ale strain. Most wheat beers that I really enjoy have that spiciness to them from the yeast that was used. My guess is that this will be a cleaner flavor which might let the Coriander Seed shine through a little more.

I had checked my mash pH about a half hour in and it was at 5.8. I checked the pH of the wort after the sparge and it was exactly 5.2 so I am good to go. I highly recommend picking up some pH strips. There don't break and they are very cheap. Cut them in half and you have twice as many. I've been using this same little tube of them since I started brewing about 5 years ago.


Being a dad and brewing beer don't always jive. I stepped away for a second from, what I thought, was a nice steady rolling boil that didn't look like it was gonna rise. Nope. The hot wort actually removed some of the other stuff that I had been trying to get off my stove for some time now. My stove is cleaner now that before I started brewing. That last beer that I had a boil over with turned out really good so maybe this one will too.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Brice in Zymurgy

I was just flipping through the new issue of Zymurgy (May/June '07) and there it was on page 14, a picture of my son Brice standing up next to one of my carboys. A great picture, I died laughing. I forgot that I had even sent the picture to Zymurgy. If you have the magazine, notice in the picture how I had to improvize because I ran out of thick blow off tubing.

Jolly Pumpkin Yeast

Me and my friend Jason were sitting around having some beers last night and we had a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin La Roja sitting on the table unopened. Jason said, "well, this is the last JP beer from the stash". I immediately went to my beer closet and pulled out some DME. I figured I should probably get a starter going. We don't get Jolly Pumpkin in the U.P. anymore so it is always a treat.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Homebrew Club in Marquette, MI

I am starting to compile a list of people who are in the Marquette area and are into homebrewing or who would like to learn about homebrewing. I think that in a town like Marquette there should be plenty enough people to start a homebrew club. So if you are one of those people that were curious about homebrew clubs in Marquette and came across this site in a search to learn more about beer. Please leave me a comment letting me know so I can add you to my list of people who appreciate better beer. You can e-mail me at and just let me know that your interested. If you want you can even leave your phone number and I will keep you informed on the progress of a club. As of right now there are only a few people and it would be great to have at least 10 or so. We'll see if we can make it happen.

Brettanomyces Claussenii WLP645 Beer

Well I just brewed up my first funky beer, a 10 gallon batch of Flanders Red, now it's time to get a starter going for funk monster #2. I am getting a starter going tonight using the Brettanomyces Claussenii strain from White Labs. Before I can use this to ferment a whole 5-6 gallon batch of beer I need to grow up the amount of yeast I have. The vial that you can order from White Labs isn't intended to take care of your entire primary fermentation. It is meant to be used in conjunction with another yeast, more than likely of the Saccromyces variety. I am going to get a pint starter going tonight and in about 10 days I will pour off most of the wort trying to leave as much of the yeast behind as I can and then I will pitch another fresh pint of wort. I will repeat this a few times until I have a large enough amount of cells to take care of a 5-6 gallon batch of beer.

DO NOT SWIRL AN ERLINMYER FLASK FULL OF BOILING HOT WORT!Son of a bitch! I knew that too and I still did it. I've burnt my hands so many times that I think I am starting to get immune to it.

It has been two days since I made my starter and I haven't seen any real activity going yet. I was hoping to see an obvious sign that everything was going smooth because I am going out of town for the weekend and I don't want to have to worry about it. I added a little bit of servomyces earlier today to help it on its way. I was glad to see that someone on the BBB website was posting about their experience with their WLP645 starter at the same time as I was doing mine because I can learn from all his posts. Everything seems to be sitting on the bottom right now.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

My First Wild Brew!

Well, I am finally going to do my first wild brew. I am doing a Flanders Red, a style I fell in love with right away. I don't think I have ever found a beer that I really get cravings for like a sour red. It mine as well be a drug from the 80's the way it gets you hooked. I think the first sour beer I have had and fell in love with was La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin. I remember buying a few cases of Jolly Pumpkin because I wanted to hang on to a few and age them out and all of a sudden I had drank most of my supply and realized that these beers soured to perfection. Then it sank in that I just drank a whole bunch of these before they were prime time. Doh! Then I tried a Duchesse De Bourgogne and I was baffled by the smell. Who in the hell put vinegar in this bottle and tried passing it off as beer. Well.....whoever it was, I love you. The first sip kind of struck me as odd but the second, third, and everyone there after just made me want to get my hands on every beer similar to this. I had got a bottle of Rodenbach Grand Cru in the mail one day and that one was Mega-sour compared to the Duchesse. Now I am hooked on this style and decided I would brew up 10 gallons for myself. I am going to do a recipe that Jamil Zanisheff has done very well with in competitions and see what kind of beer I can translate it into. The only difference in my recipe is that I couldn't get Weyerman Munich malt through my supplier so I am going with American Munich. We'll see what it produces. I've been spending tonight prepping for the morning so I can brew bright and early. I like to brew around 8-9 AM so I still have most of the day to relax with my wife afterwards.I will post more tomorrow when I am brewing this bad boy up. To be continued.


Alright, I got up at 7:00 PM this morning, ground my grains and I was doughed in by 8:20 AM. Half asleep I almost forgot to add a little bit of acid malt to my mash to get my pH to were I want it. I added a little bit to my last beer and my efficiency jumped up quite a bit. The recipe I am doing is very odd for a Flanders Red. Jamil Zanishef says that this, if done right, tastes very very close to a classic Rodenbach. Here is the grain bill:

This is a 10 Gallon Batch

10 lb. Pilsnen malt
10 lb. Vienna malt
7 lb. Munich
1 lb. Special B
1 lb. Caramunich
1 lb. Aromatic
1 lb. White Wheat Malt
.5 lb Acid Malt


1.4 oz. E.K. Goldings (60 min)

I also used 2 oz. of med+ toast French Oak Cubes (1 oz. per carboy)


Wyeast Roselare Blend from the VSS (Very Special Strain) Series

Come on, Give me a break, like you look any better at 8:00 AM after about 3 hrs of sleep. I've just gotten doughed in here and I'm making sure my temp is right at 154 F, as it was. Mash at 90 minutes at that temp and then bring it up to 168 F for 10 minutes. Sparge at 170. I am going to batch sparge again because I had good luck with it when I did my smoked porter. And it cuts a ton of time of my brew day.

Just as I was starting to sparge my phone rang, I ignored it, it rang again and I pick it up and it's my boss saying I need to go into work because (sidenote: I work at a TV station) our system that we play our commercials off of went down and we were losing thousands of dollars by not playing these commercials. I had to obviously finish sparging and then siran wrap both of my brew pots so they wouldn't get infected and head out to work. Luckily I was home within an hour and a half and my wort was still hot. I got back into the swing of things and kept brewing like nothing happened except a major delay. I should have been done by 2:00 PM, now we'll see.

Everything worked out O.K. It took me a lot longer than expected. Now I only have to wait 1 year. Great!

I think this is the fastest starting fermentation I've seen out of all the batches I've made. It basically took about 12 hours and the yeast was rockin' out.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Say No To A Higher Beer Tax

As pointed out in the latest issue of the Michigan Beer Guide, Liquor May Become More Expensive in Michigan
"The solution offered of course includes taxing beer. “The Lansing Community College Board of Trustees urged Granholm and the Legislature to go beyond the income tax pause and look at raising taxes on cigarettes and beer, and making changes in the estate tax and sales tax to raise additional money.”
Now I am not predicting anything, but it sure looks to me like raising the price for spirits is a step toward raising the price on beer as well. Good for the government, good for the retailer, but not good for the consumer and especially not good for the beer manufacturer. MBG"
Read the full article here:

Take a Stand! Visit
for more.

Westvleteren abt 12 Clone Recipe

Here is a recipe for probably the best beer I have brewed to date. It is a Westveleteren abt 12 clone recipe that turned out awesome. To bad I don't have any more left. I think I am going to brew this one annually. A few months back I had the pleasure to do an on-line beer swap with a bunch of really great guys from the Burgundian Babble Belt website. We all sent each other one of our big belgian beers that we had brewed and we tasted them in 2 seperate sessions and critiqued each others brew. One of the guys that I got some feedback on my beer was none other than Stan Hieronymus, Author of "Brew Like A Monk".
I thought it was great to be able to hear what Stan thought of my beer when his book is what inspired it to be brewed in the first place. This beer went over really well with everyone. I recieved some of the best homebrews I've ever tasted from some of these guys. One of them that I recieved was a Gold Medal winner at some big competition in Colorado I believe. If you are looking for a good recipe for Westy 12 clone, try this one and let me know what you think.


17.5 lb Dingemans Belgian Pilsner
1 lb Caramunich (belg)
.44 lb Biscuit
.31 lb Aromatic
.25 lb Special B
.19 lb Chocolate

Candi Sugar:
1 bottle of the Dark Candi Syrup(this is key, use the syrup)
.25 Amber Rock Candi

1.25 oz. Styrian Golding (60 min)
.25 oz. Styrian Goldings (15 min)
.25 oz. Haullertauer (15 min)
.25 oz. Styrian Goldings (1 min)
.25 oz. Haullertauer (1 min)

Yeast: WLP 530

Single infusion mash at 149 for 90 min. Mash out at 170 for 10-15 min. Sparge at 170. Boil for 60 minutes.

Trappist Night....Holy Beers!

I thought since I am a huge fan of Belgian Beers it would only be appropriate to have a Trappist Beer Night to enjoy the fruits of those blessed Monk's labors. For anyone who doesn't know, A Trappist beer is a beer brewed by or under control of Trappist monks. Of the world's 171 Trappist monasteries (as of April 2005), seven produce beer (six in Belgium and one in The Netherlands). These seven breweries are authorized to label their beers with the Authentic Trappist Product logo that indicates a compliance to various rules edicted by the International Trappist Association. Here are a list of the Trappist Breweries:

La Trappe/Koningshoven

Me and a few friends had tracked down beers from all of these breweries and had them sent to my house from a few different places across the country. All breweries were well represented. The beers in the picture above are the ones that I supplied. There were quite a few more that were consumed. Being that these beers range in alcohol anywere from about 6-11% ABV. We got pretty drunk. We were lucky enough to get our hands on beers from Westvleteren who makes the Westvleteren abt 12 which is known to most of the beer world as "The Best Beer in the World". Also one of the hardest beers to get your hands on because you can only buy it straight from the Abbey in which it was brewed.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Chupacabra Russian Imperial Stout...It'll Tear Your Ass Up

I decided that I was going to try and brew myself up a a massive Russian Imperial Stout because I have been craving a beer like the "Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout" from Three Floyds Brewing Co. It is simply one of the best beers ever known to man. I sat down in front of my computer and opened Promash and started hammering out a recipe that would give me an incredibly big beer that would satisfy my craving for RIS and this is the recipe I came up with.


15 lb Maris Otter Pale 2-row
10 lb American Pale 2-row
2 lb Germain Munich
1 lb Caramunich (belg)
1 lb Chocolate (amer)
1 lb Crystal 40L
1 lb Crystal 60L
1 lb Flaked Wheat
1 lb Roasted Barley
.5 lb Black Patent
.5 lb Wheat Malt
.5 lb Special B


.5 oz Chinook Pellet Hops (19.4 ibu's @ 60 min)
1.5 oz Centennial Pellet Hops (12.9 ibu's @ 15 min)
.5 oz Chinook Pellet Hops (3.3 ibu's @ 5 min)

Other ingredients

3 lbs U.P. Honey from Brampton, MI
1/2 stick of brewers licorice


1 Big Old Starter of WLP001, Trusty California Ale Yeast.

This beer ends up being about 37.5 lbs of grain. I have a 14 gallon mash tun and it was full to the brim. If you get good efficiency with your system you can get away with using quite a bit less of base malt. This is a new system that I am trying to work the kinks out of so my efficiency is around 55-60% at least for this beer it was. Take that into mind if you use this recipe. my ABV came out to be around 10.5 % so if you use this exact recipe and get a better efficiency you will have a killer beer. This one is tasting phenominal right now. I recommend pitching a little fresh yeast before bottling because your yeast will be pooped out after working on all the sugars in this beer. My carbonation is a little bit less than what I wanted because I didn't pitch any fresh stuff before bottling. That is the only thing I would do differently if I were to brew this again.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Smoked Robust Porter

Well I just bottled up my Robust Smoked Porter that I brewed up a 10 gallon batch of. I'm pretty stoked to be doing 10 gallon batches now because I am the type of homebrewer that can't keep my hands off of my beers until they are fully matured. I feel the need to check how my carbonation is doing like every day or two at the most.

I am pretty happy that I got my efficiency back up a little bit. I had just bought a 14 gallon pot so I could do bigger beers (gravity and volume) but my efficiency took a nose dive. I'm still trying to correct the issue. When I made this porter, instead of just changing one variable at a time, I changed 2 things so I am not sure what is the reason for my increased efficiencey. Maybe it is both things. One thing I did was I did a batch sparge instead of fly sparged. I would think that that would make a big difference for a beer with an O.G. of 1.065. The other thing I did was I added a half pound of Acidulated Malt which dropped my pH down a little which makes for a better environment for converting starches to sugar. I think that had a lot to do with the increase. I'll have to tweak one of these variables at a time to really get it pin-pointed. Here is the recipe I used for this porter.


17 lb. Pale Malt (2-row)

6 lb. Smoked Malt (Weyermann German Malt)

2 lb Crystal 40L

2 lb Crystal 60L

1.5 lb Chocolate Malt

1 lb Munich

1 lb Black Patent

1 lb Vienna Malt

.5 lb Acidulated Malt (taste a little bit of this, Wow!)


1.58 oz. East Kent Golding (60 min/Pellet Hops)

1 oz. East Kent Golding (15 min/Whole Hops)

1.1 oz. Willamette (15 min/Whole Hops)

Yeast: California Ale Yeast from White Labs

Single infusion mash for 90 min at 151 F

Mash out at 170 F for 10-15 min.