State of the Brewery 2013

I wanted to reach out to anyone that still following the blog via RSS or similar to give an update.  The past couple years have been extremely busy.

Last year I started brewing for a very small brew pub on a island in lake Erie.

I told you it was small

The place has never been known for having great beer (no offense Carl).  The place is seasonal, open typically from April to late September.  It runs a 10 hectoliter (~267 gallons) extract based system.   I have a pretty good relationship with the owner and he basically told me to brew what I want.

The first thing I did was build him a mashtun out of an old stainless whirlpool tub.

Full of goodness

With a very thick mash I am able to mash about 300 lbs of grain in it.  Certainly not enough to fill the kettle but with the combination of extract and some other malts I was able to create some pretty solid beers.     I put together the IPA, Lakeside Blonde Ale, Christmas Ale, and Rye IPA recipe.

I will brewing on the island again this summer and have sourced a nice amount of Simcoe, Citra, and Amarillo.  Look for a big dry floral IPA as well as the return of the Christmas ale.  I am also pushing him to experiment with some other styles as well, so perhaps a Gratzer style may be in order.  If you find yourself on the Put In Bay this summer shoot me a note, Id love to sit down and drink a few beers if I am around.

Pretty, isn’t it?


At home I am still brewing a lot.  My larger system based upon 55 gallon drums is online and fully functional.  I owe this blog a write up on it and hope to take care of that this summer. The small micromatic glycol system has been working great for controlling fermentation temps when I brew out in the garage.  Again, I need to write it up.

Recently I put 20 gallons of a Mexican Style Lager in the fermentesr as well as a session IPA recipe (1037 to start) that I am working on.   Up next will probably be another tweak on the IPA as well as another Gose.




04 2013

First Commercial Beer Review

This just in.

My first professional beer has a review.

Poured at the brewpub…very cloudy. Smelled of earth. Very hoppy, but no balance at all…


Seems I suck.

Back to regularly scheduled programs




05 2012

There Gose The Neighborhood

Ive really interested in the Gose (Goes-A) since I had the chance to try it this past summer at the Great Taste of the Midwest.  It really stood out as excellent on a day of excellent beers.

Before you try to produce a new recipe it is best to consult with those with experience. First off I am extremely fortunate to have access to some excellent brewers.  Russ Chibe is a member of my homebrew club and is quite accomplished at brewing styles that originate in Germany.  His series on brewing Gose is a must for anyone looking to reproduce the style.  Additionally I reached out to Kevin from GB for his process and he was extremely helpful in pointing me in the right direction.

Good Stuff



The general recipe / process is as follows:
50/50 german pils  / wheat malt ~ 11-12 plato
Mash Low 150s
Run off and let cool to 100f (no boil)
Pitch Lacto – Hold at 100f until PH reaches 3.7
30 minute boil
6-10 ibu (Hallertau or noble hop)
10 minute  -.96 oz Coriander in 6 gallons.  Scaling back 10% gets me to .84 oz.
Kosher Salt (15g is a good starting point)
My process and recipe fell somewhere between what Kevin and Russ recommended.  For the recipes I used the following:
There Gose The Neighborhood

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal):         5.50    Wort Size (Gal):    5.50
Total Grain (Lbs):        8.94
Anticipated OG:          1.047    Plato:             11.67
Anticipated SRM:           3.0
Anticipated IBU:           7.8
Brewhouse Efficiency:       76 %
Wort Boil Time:             75    Minutes

%     Amount     Name                          Origin        Potential SRM
48.2     4.31 lbs. Wheat Malt                    Germany        1.039      2
44.4     3.97 lbs. Pilsener                      Germany        1.038      2
7.4      0.66 lbs. Flaked Barley                 America        1.032      2


Amount     Name                              Form    Alpha  IBU  Boil Time
0.80 oz.    Hallertau Hersbrucker             Whole    4.75   7.8  30 min.

Finest Selection

I added the Flaked barley because, well, nearly everything I brew has flaked barley in it.  I like what it brings to the table, and have found that when brewing with wheat a little flaked barley produces amazing foam and head retention, which I really wanted to emphasize with this beer.
My process shakes out like this, On day one mash as usual.  Run off, your full volume and bring to a boil.  Boil for 10 minutes.  This will kill off any lacto that exists in the grain and carried through from the mash.  It should be noted that if you chose to not boil you could add a handful of cracked grain to the wort and it would sour.  I decided to boil because I wanted to sour with a pure strain of lacto from White Labs.


Chill the beer to 115-120f and run off into a carboy (I’d recommend using glass/steel for this).  For the next two to three days you will need to keep this wort at 120 degrees to allow the lacto to work optimally.  Personally I use a large Rubbermaid tub filled with water, a ranco temp controller, and a heatstick (from amazon).
Standard disclaimer here.  Electricity and water do not mix and will kill you.  Do not attempt without the appropriate safety precautions.

Looking Tasty

I cannot emphasize enough how important this warm step is.  If you fail to keep your wort warm the lacto will not get it nearly sour enough.  You will need to keep an eye on your water bath because the elevated temperatures will increase the evaporation rate.
After two to three days the lacto will drive the pH of the solution down to around 3.7.  At 3.7 lacto has a really hard time producing additional acid and the acid production will slow.  Feel free to give it a few more days, but it is a fools battle.  Try the beer at this point.  The smell will be funky but tasting will gives you a totally different viewpoint. Personally I was ready to drink it without fermenting it further.  The sugar left in solution and the acid made it really quite nice.


If you wish to preserve your lacto culture you should harvest some of your wort now.


Next up is the boil and ferment phase.  This is fairly standard stuff.  I personally chose to go with a 75 minute boil due the heavy pils malt bill and the extended time in the 100’s.  I only wanted to ensure that I fully drove off any DMS and DMS precursors.  Was it necessary?  I can’t say for sure but it made for a cheap insurance policy.  It should be noted that this will also nuke all the lacto in the wort.


At the 10 minute mark I made my coriander and salt additions.  I went with:
•    20 g of Indian Coriander
•    22 g of Kosher Salt


This is about 10% less than what Kevin used in his batch last summer.  I made the change because he felt that it was a bit too orange forward.   The salt is kind of a wild card and can be adjusted in the keg if desired.  A salt addition of 22g will put it in the salty range.  If you like it a bit less assertive, I’d start at 15g and tweak from there.


Then chill and ferment.  I used Wyeast 1007 German Ale because I had it laying around and it was semi traditional.  More traditional would be to use one of the weizen yeasts, however many people just use Cal Ale for the clean profile.  This beer is not about the yeast, so whatever yeast you go with ensure that it gives you a clean fermentation.


Up next Keg / Bottle to 2.5 – 2.6 vols and enjoy.

Look at the Foam on that beer

The end result came out quite nice.  My version came out nicely sour but not puckeringly so.  The salt was quite forward but in my opinion it did not overwhelm the beer.  I would perhaps boost the coriander 2-3% but at that point it is really splitting hairs. I served this beer at my St. Partrick’s Day party and I think that the people that liked it most were “non-beer” people.   My sister in law has liked it enough to inquire if I would brew a keg for her.  For me  this is high praise.   The beer itself is quite quaffable at 5.5% and is amazingly refreshing.   It would be an amazing summer beer.   Ive submitted it to the BOSS Brewoff and once I have the results back Ill post the scoresheets.




04 2011

Goose Island To Be an Anheuser Busch Product

Wow, really big news for Chicago Beer lovers today.   It seems that AB will actually be buying Goose Island Brewing.

About 4 years ago AB made a big investment in GI and partnered with them to do distribution.   At the time I honked my horn(pun intended) saying that Goose as not a AB product.   Since then, that post has been one of my biggest search terms (sad I know).   It seems that has changed.

I wish the Hall family all the best, and only hope this represents an opportunity for them to start a new venture.  However, today, Chicago has lost their anchor brewery and a bit of their brewing soul.


03 2011

Belly To Bacon Blog

I wanted to take a minute to give a quick shoutout to a Chicago blogger that is doing an amazing job writing about charcuterie and home curing of meat. I dont write about it much here but I’m a dabbler in making sausages and other cured meats at home. I dont buy bacon at the store any more and it is doubtful that Ill bother buying another encased meat product except for the occasional Chicago Dog.
Now thats a dog

Mark does an amazing job writing about and documenting the process. His posts on bacon making are well done and he quite often departs from using the standard pork belly. If anyone is interested in making a try at curing bacon at home I highly suggest a read of his blog.

Additionally, and for me this is a big one, he does a great job with the imagery in his posts which I believe makes all the difference in the world.

Simply Beautiful

Good job Mark. Keep the posts coming.


02 2011

Mr. Hyde 2010

This past weekend I brewed up my annual parti-gyle batch of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.  The general idea here is to brew two beers from a single grain bill.

One beer is a small mild mannered beer (Jekyll) and the other is a beast(Hyde).   The focus of this post will be on Hyde,  because nobody really gives a shit about the good doctor.   All I will say is Jekyll will be a 4.5% abv dry stout.

I made a few tweaks on last years version of the recipe for Mr.  Hyde, adding Flaked Barley and boosting the amount of Flaked Oats.  In total flaked products make up over 15% of the grist.

Thats the stuff

The mouth feel on this beer is going to be really huge.  Additionally I added small additions of English Brown Malt, which I think provides really nice chocolaty richness.  The base malt is still Maris Otter, with a small addition of Pils to help dry it out.  In total the grist for the beer weighed in at just shy of 29 lbs, which is about the limit of my current mash tun.

For hops we are looking at about 70 ibu’s of Nugget, Citra, and Willamette hops.  Big blast of Chocolate and Coffee at the end of the boil.

Hyde weighed in at 1.110 on the specific gravity scale.   I am hoping to get the beer down into the 1.025 range.  Either high gravity yeast or a pack of champagne yeast will be added towards the end of the week to ensure that the beer finishes ok.

At this point I am debating about trying to make a run at making this a very high gravity beer by adding additional sugars towards the end of the fermentation.


01 2011

Emptying The Barrel

Back in early September.  The barrel was emptied.

The pump was key

The imperial porter had spent just shy of six months in the once used, oak bourbon barrel.

On the way for a rinse out

We managed to pull out 50 gallons of what turned out to be a very solid beer.   It needs a couple months to mellow as it is very bourbon forward at this point.  It however has an amazing richness that you just cant recreate without some wood aging.

Sweet Sweet Foam

We filled the barrel with an imperial red ale.  We plan on giving it 90-120 days and see what we have.


12 2010

Bourbon Barrel Porter Pecan Walnut Pie

A pie recipe on a blog about beer?  Yes, yes indeed.

I love brewing.  I love cooking.  I love eating.  I love beer.  This Thanksgiving I combined all of them to produce some food for the family.

Using the bourbon barrel aged porter as a base for the flavor I (ok we, hat nod to my wife) whipped up a pecan walnut pie.

This should be good

The recipe follows.

* 1/3 Cup Barrel Aged Bourbon Porter
* single crust pie
* 1/2 Cup chopped pecans
* 1/2 Cup walnuts
* 1 tsp. Cinnamon
* 1/4-1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg.
* 4 eggs
* 1/2 Cup corn syrup, light or dark
* 1  tlb. (good squeeze) honey
* 1/3 Cup white sugar
* 1/3 Cup brown sugar
* 8 tlb. melted butter
* 1 tlb. Vanilla Extract
* 1 tlb. flour
* 8 oz Chopped 50% Cacao baking chocolate (I use this same chocolate in Mr Hyde)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Toast the pecans and walnuts for 10 minutes in the oven.

While the nuts are toasting, sample bourbon barrel porter.  Tilt head back, savor the flavor.

Return to cooking, in a mixing bowl combine the honey, sugars, eggs, corn syrup,  butter, Porter, vanilla, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix until smooth.

Fold in the nuts and chocolate. Pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake at 350° for 40-50 minutes.

Eat massive meal.

Finish with massive block of pie.

Sleep on couch for 3 hours.

A match made in heaven


11 2010

Brewing Network Shoutout

For anyone looking for the Promash File Converter mentioned on the Beer and Boobs Show on The Brewing Network show, look no furtherFull usage instructions are on the converter page.    Let me know if there are any issues in the comments and I’ll do my best to resolve them quickly.


10 2010

A Gose Discussion

One of my favorite beers from the Great Taste of the Midwest this summer was a Gose brewed by Kevin Blodger from Gordon Biersch-Bollingbrook.

Id be smiling too if I had one of those in my hands

The fest was very hot and after drinking massive one off beers for the entire day Nate and I were wiped out.  Our palette spent.  After talking to Doug from Metropolitan Brewing(great people, great beer) he strongly suggested we walk over to the GB tent and try the Gose.

It was amazing.

Sour but not puckering.

Dry yet full.


It may be the perfect summer beer.   Its also a beer that is rarely brewed anywhere, although it seems to drawing favor by Craft and Homebrewers alike.

Today Stan takes a look at the style and talks about how it is brewed and more importantly how it is pronounced.  Personally its on my brewlist for late winter.  Most likely just before the St.  Patrick’s Day Party.


09 2010