Category Archives: Homebrewing!

planning for the future

Wow, that title sounds too serous…. Forget the title, lets talk Bière de Garde!

So I was thinking about food (obviously), and my mind wondered to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving could use some special brew. Nothing makes me think of celebration more than cork and caged bottles of something special. Bière de Garde! The original recipe idea for this was closer to an abby dubbel, but you know how things can go off the tracks. The Recipe!0723171507a

Bière de Garde

Batch Size: 4 Gal.

OG – 1.077

FG – 1.008  (That 87% attenuation! More on this later)

ABV – 9% (A touch more than originally intended)

The Recipe:


63% – Weyerman Floor Malted Pilsner Malt

35% – Great Western Munich Malt (I estimate around 15°L)

2% – Carafa II


Mashed at what I thought was 150°F, but while brewing I ran some calibrations on my equipment (remember I haven’t brewed beer for a while) and found after mashout that it was more like a 145°F single saccharification rest, thankfully I let it run for 100 minutes or I probably would have had efficiency issues…. oh well, it’s highly ferment-able!


20 IBUs worth of beautiful whole cone Saaz


I still had quite a few packs of Safale T-58 in the old fridge. They were old, but they worked like a champ!

Weeks in the future-

It has fermented and half is in cork and cage bottles. Why only half you ask? Because the other half is going into a 3 gallon carboy with somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 lbs of bittersweet pie cherries from the tree at the brew-shop.


They’ve been in the freezer for a year now (maybe two if we’re honest), time to use ’em!



I’ll bottle this half in maybe a month away from cherry addition, we’ll see. If the straight Bière de Garde is for Thanksgiving me thinks the cherried half will be for Christmas. Merry x-mas to me.

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Lupuloweizen Mk I

I tried Philipsburg Brewings’ “Haybag Hefeweizen” about a year and a half ago, and ever since I have had the notion to brew an American Hefe. Haybag was light, grassy/citrusy, but most strikingly it was all but opaque, like yellow milk. I put off brewing a hefe because my friends have limited interest in the style, and because I’m kinda lazy like that… But then I got an idea: overhopped American Hefe with Citra and Mosaic! Well, I may be the last homebrewer who has come to the conclusion of a hoppy wheat beer, but I dont care, I have a twist. Make it extra turbid like I remember Haybag being,and unlike any of the shimmering crystal clear hoppy wheat beers I’ve ever had, aaaaaand ferment it with (dun dun duuuuuuun) some Saflager S-23. Thats right! India Pale Lager Hefeweizen vom Kellar! So many adjectives it’s hard for a homebrewer not to get excited. Anyhow, the plan!


Lupuloqeizen (petite)


%50 Vienna 4°L

%30 Wheat Malt (maybe a little low for the style…. wait, this isnt a style…. move along, nothing to see)

%20 Munich 10°L

……….So it’s gonna be malty, OK?


2 Ounces: Mosaic (Flameout)

4 Ounces: Citra (Flameout)

2 Ounces: Mosaic (Dry Hop in Keg)

…………So it’s gonna be hoppy, OK?  Also note that I used no real bittering addition, so it’s really impossible to even estimate the bitterness contribution of those hops. I tossed in a few pellets of both Mosaic and Citra all throughout the boil because I was bored, but not enough to even calculate, the rest was dumped in at flameout and allowed to “Pseudo Whirlpool” for 20 minutes.

OG 1.050 IBU ??? SRM 6.35

In the lager fridge, just enjoying itself

In the lager fridge, just enjoying itself

It’s been Fermenting for 4 days now and it smells really nice, no sulfer or other ill smells. Hopefully I can give it a diacetyl rest in a few days, let it mellow at a coolish temp for a bit, then rack it onto some dry hops in a keg for fresh consumption, nice and cloudy… Cheers!

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previously on lager files


The lights are playing tricks with the camera, the beer is nowhere near that dark.

That pilsener I brewed a few months back, you remember the one? Yeah? Ok. Well somebody’s had it in the lagering keg in the fridge for a month, and somebody has been taking far too frequent samples. Somebody should write a short impartial review on their own beer wouldn’t your say?

2014 Pilsner

It comes out of the keg fairly bright and a little pale despite the decoctions. Carbonation has been allowed to be higher than I usually pursue, but it works well with a pilsener. The whole thing is capped be a merengue-ish lofting head that demands to be allowed a minute to settle before it lets you top off your pint.

Aroma, this is the interesting bit. When rackiing into the keg I noticed it had a banana bread type aroma. Not the typical yeasty isoamyl acetate banana type thing, but a grandma’s kitchen banana bread…. er….. type thing. I think it is attributed to the floor malted pilsener malt and the pacific hallertau hops…. er… maybe. Anyhow those aromas have faded a little in the lagering phase, but I doubt they will dissapear.

Taste, as with most pilseners, follows the aroma pretty closely. Doughy, bready (little banana), grainy malt. It starts with a tinge of sweetness, then has the rush of continental malt, and finishes with an unusual hop character thats spicy, earthy, and has hints of lime-like tang (or at least thats how I get it, if I didnt read that as a descriptor of the hops than I doubt I would have come up with that). The mouthfeel is light, crisp and spritzy with the medium-highish level of carbonation, but it does have a small hint of fullness in the finish with a whisper of sweetness.

If I brew this again next year I think I’ll change the hopping rates for one, and give it a nice long vigorous boil in the decoction to drive those rich malliard reactions and give it a touch more color and malt complexity.

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tasting notes: india pale ale


I am a latecomer as it comes to new american hops varieties, I usually just try to be crotchety about it and insist that a blend of older hops can create similar flavors. Obviously this cant always be true. For this beer I broke with my norm to just see if I could make an American IPA that has those juicy and dank qualities.


OG 1.061    FG 1.015   IBU No idea, with all that hop bursting its anyone’s guess.


  • 69.2% Pale 2-row (malteurope)
  • 23.1% American Munich 20°L
  • 7.7% Caramel 30°L


  • 60 minutes addition of Citra to 25 IBU
  • *  15 minute pseudo whirlpool addition of  3.5 ounces of Citra, 3 ounces of Mosaic,  and 2 ounces Simcoe.

*for ‘pseudo whirlpool’ I added the hops right after the end of the boil when I got my immersion chiller connected and ready. After adding the hops I cooled the wort gently to around 145° and let it sit for 15 minutes or so.


  • Two sachets of BRY-97 fermented at 62°

Six days after brew day the beer had finished at 1.015, right where I told it to (obedient little beer). I let it sit for another week to allow it to clear slightly and kegged it with 2 ounces Citra and 1 ounce Mosaic (kept the hops in the keg in a muslin bag weighed down with marbles).

It is a pretty beer, and over the last few weeks it has cleared very well. It has medium low carbonation, just perfect for hoppy beers if you ask me. The nose is different in every glass, now its more juicy and citrusy then the first week when it was musky an pungent.

My sister said it smells like there was illicit drugs put in the beer, my wife asked me when I bought oranges to put in the beer (there was none). And one of my impartial tasters had this to say:

“Nice medium golden color, 1.5 finger white head, aroma starts heavy and floral and ends with resin, semi dry mouth feel, no alcohol flavor. Starts sweet, gets bitter, then has a sweet aftertaste.”

So all in all it was a success, also one of the fastest tapped kegs to date for me. It’s also made me feel good to brew outside of what I normally do, which is to mess with every recipe and process just to see what does what to what with what, right? This coming weekend there will be more messing around with saison and some wild local yeasts, so stay tuned.

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totally authentic pils

Super artsy fartsy

Super artsy fartsy.

 I really kind of like winter, but don’t tell anyone that. The countryside turns white, you can drink a bunch of eggnog, and us cheap bastards who rely on ambient tempuratures can lager! This year there will be no fooling around on my part, time to get serious.

Point of discussion, I learn well from mistakes, and there have been a few made in my last few lagers. One thing I found is that an anemic abreviated boil is a bad thing for pilsner malt, I’ve had 5 gallons of dimethyl sulfide infused popcorn beer before. After that I used plain 2-row, which wasn’t really a mistake, but my heart of hearts likes the tinge of sulfer that pils malt brings into play with some nice bottom fermenting yeasts (it’s what makes  me think ‘crisp and refreshing’). There are a few more, but I think I’ve embarrased myself enough. Now the plan! –

The gloopy returns from the 1st decoction.

– 100% floor malted pils, I won’t mess with acid malt or water treatment. This will truly be a SMaSH.

– Speaking of water, the plan is to use water from my brewing friends house, lovely soft creek water.

– Hops: Pacific Hallertau. This is where the tradition stops, Pacific Hallertau, also called Pacifica I do believe, is an interesting hop. It has almost no real Hallerau flavor or aroma, it has a spicy and herbal bittering quality, but in aroma its pretty tropical. Straight out of the bag it smells like gummy bears, but the ammount of fruitiness that remains after fermentation is more on the bitter lime zest/earthy fruit that is the standard for southern hemisphere hops. Two additions-90 minute 4.5% AA to 15 IBUs, 20 minute 4.5% AA to 25 IBUs.

– Mash: Decoction naturally. Dough in at 130*, pull the thick stuff *hehehe*, raise the decoction for a short sacc range tempurature rest, boil, add back to raise the main mash to 148*, pull again and repeat to raise the main mash to 156*,  then a simple mashout at 166*.

– Yeast: Budvar. Nice big starter that’s a little over a week old. I know budvar isn’t the most snobby interesting strain, but I still like it. This beer will be pulling double duty as a starter for a doppelbock me thinks (I like the name “don’t mess with gator”…. get it?)

The brew day went fairly decently, the main issue being that this malt (even though fully convered) never did vourlauf very clear, leading me to extend the mash for an extra 40 minutes. Despite the trouble I did get well above the %80 efficiency I was aiming for, so that was nice. Its sitting in the lager garage at 53*, time to play the waiting game…

Look at that tasty mash!

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