Sunday, May 25, 2014

Black Irish Red (Take Three)

This was my third attempt with this Irish Red recipe. We've lovingly called it the Black Irish Red because both of my previous attempts with this beer have turned out very dark. This time we changed quite a bit to try and get the color right while keeping the flavor profile as close to the original as possible. This is the best overall red I've made. It's still probably a little dark (a deep coppery-brown), but it's much closer. The flavor is pretty good, too. It's got a nice aroma, a great malty body, and a little bit of a sweet finish. I'm pretty pleased with how this has turned out. Third time's the charm, I guess.


  • 6.6 pounds Marris Otter LME
  • 6 ounces Crystal 40L
  • 8 ounces Crystal 60L
  • 2 ounces Roasted Barley 300L
  • 1 ounce Kent Goldings Hops
  • 1 packet Irish Ale or London Ale yeast (I used London Ale yeast)

  • Steep grains at 150-160 degrees for 30-60 minutes
  • Remove grains. Add extract and hops. Bring to a boil.
  • Boil for 60 minutes.
  • Cool wort and transfer to fermenter.
  • Pitch yeast.
  • Ferment for 2-3 weeks.

Note: I used London Ale yeast simply because the local HBS was out of Irish Ale yeast the day I was brewing. It's pretty close in profile to the Irish Ale yeast and keeps the flavor pretty close to the standard.

OG: 1.053
FG: 1.012
ABV: approximately 5%

Until Next Time,

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Last week, I put together two mead recipes. This is actually the first time I've worked with honey as the primary source of fermentation, and I have to say I'm very excited about the outcomes. I made these two batches with a friend of mine who came across a very good deal on 18 pounds of organic blackberry honey.

Traditional Mead


  • 13 pounds Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Gypsum
  • 2 teaspoons Acid Blend
  • 1 Whirlfolc tablet
  • 1 package Champagne yeast

  • Add honey, gypsum, and acid blend to 1.5 gallons of water and bring to a boil.
  • Boil for 30 minutes.
  • Add whirlfloc tablet in last 10 minutes of the boil.
  • Add to fermenter and add enough water to bring up to 5 gallons.
  • Cool below 80 degrees and add yeast.
  • Ferment for 1 week.
  • Transfer to secondary fermenter.
  • Bottle when clear.

OG: 1.058


  • 5 pounds Honey
  • 4 gallons Apple Cider (fresh and natural)
  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 whole Nutmeg
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet
  • 1 ounce Yeast Nutrient
  • 1 package Champagne yeast
  • 3/4 cup Priming Sugar (if bottling)

  • Add honey, cider, brown sugar, and nutmeg to 1.5 gallons of water and bring to a boil.
  • Boil for 20 minutes.
  • Add whirfloc tablet in the last 10 minutes of the boil.
  • Remove nutmeg and add to primary fermenter.
  • Cool to below 80 degrees and add yeast and yeast nutrient.
  • Ferment for 2-3 weeks.
  • Transfer to secondary fermenter.
  • Keg/bottle when clear.

OG: 1.070

A lot of these recipes call for very specific honeys (like orange blossom or wildflower), but honestly 13 pounds of honey is ridiculously expensive. My friend was able to get 18 pounds of blackberry honey for about 2/3 of the price to get these specific types of honeys from a brew store. I would recommend finding a farmer's market or apiary where you can get bulk amounts for a discounted price. 

Also, when making the cyser, I would adjust the amount of liquid going into the batch. Adding all of the liquid up front made for a very long boiling process. It took over 90 minutes for the batch to come to a boil. If you're brewing on a stovetop, it could take a while. Next time, I will probably add the water and three gallons of cider in the fermenter. Also, be aware that this batch makes right at 6 gallons. You can probably adjust the water amount if you really can't make more than 5 gallons.

I'm really looking forward to these brews. These will be great for summer and even the fall. I will update this post once I've moved both of them to the secondaries.

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Cider

Ciders are really fun, really easy, and quite frankly a great drink for the summer time. I did something a little different this time, and I think it turned out really nicely. There are a few things I will probably do different next time.

  • 5 gallons Apple Juice
  • 1 pound Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 pounds Honey
  • 1 pack Champagne yeast
  • 4 ounces Oak Chips
  • Potassium Sorbate (1/4 teaspoon per gallon) (Optional)
  • 2 containers Frozen Apple Juice Concentrate

  • Mix together on medium heat one gallon of apple juice with the brown sugar and honey.
  • Pour mixture into fermenter with rest of the apple juice.
  • Pitch yeast.
  • Ferment for about 1-2 weeks.
  • Rack to secondary on top of oak chips. Ferment for about one week.
  • Let 2 cans of frozen apple juice concentrate thaw completely. Add to the keg or bottling bucket.
  • Rack from secondary into keg or bottling bucket on top of thawed concentrate. This will add to the sweetness (this process is called back-sweetening.) In order for the back-sweetening to work, you have to stop the fermentation process, or the yeast will just keep consuming the sugar. Now, there are two things you can do to stop the fermentation process. You can cold shock it, which involves putting the bucket or keg in a very cold location like a refrigerator, which causes the yeast to go dormant. You can also add potassium sorbate. Either way works.
I used potassium sorbate, but I added it to the keg, which I don't think did a lot of good considering I immediately put it in the kegerator to carb. I think next time, I'll add the potassium sorbate in the secondary process so as to avoid a high alcohol content. I don't mind ciders of this ABV, but one around 4-5% is a little nicer. I like the addition of 2 cans of concentrate, but you can add more or less depending on how sweet you want the cider. 

OG:   1.060
FG:    1.000
ABV: 8%

Until Next Time,

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Wedding

So, it's been a while since my last post, mostly because I've been so busy getting ready for my friend's wedding this past January. We decided on three beers: Blonde Ale, Strawberry Chocolate Porter, and the Irish Red. I pretty much stayed true to the original recipes, so I'm not going to post those here, but they are on my blog and pretty easy to find. I also made a flat cider, that we served as a wine due to its very high alcohol content (about 11%). The cider was simple: 5 gallons of apple juice, 2 pounds brown sugar, 2 pounds honey, and one pack of champagne yeast. I fermented it for 2 weeks before transferring it to wine bottles.

 I did make some minor changes in the malts to try and get the color just a bit better on the beers. Although it is perfectly fine for porters to be brown, I really like a very dark porter, so I added a little more roasted barley to the original recipe which did help. We also lightened the malt bill on the red, which helped a little. Instead of being black like the first go round, it was a dark brown, which is as good as it's going to get apparently.

Everything was a success. Everyone who visited me seemed to enjoy what they were drinking. A few even asked me where they could buy it. Some asked me for my information so they could get in contact with me about making their own beer, or having me make some for them. This all made me very excited. I am very glad that everyone seemed to like the beer. I'm also very excited that my friend's idea of having me make the beer went over so well.

At the end of the night, we ran out of the red and cider. We had more blonde than porter left. The blonde, while well received, seemed to be the least favorite of the night. This doesn't surprise me because the flavors of the other two beers are so much more complex and robust, which is going to attract people who like beer more than the simple offerings of a blonde. And ultimately we had a lot of beer drinkers in the house. However, those who were more casual beer drinkers really did seem to like the blonde a lot. The cider was a hit among those who were looking for something closer to wine to drink.

While I wouldn't necessarily want to do this all of the time due to the time constraints (and not to mention the pressure of getting it right), it was a lot of fun and I definitely wouldn't mind doing this again for very special occasions. We also came up for names for the brews (with the exception of the porter), which are entertaining but apt. I'm still taking suggestions on the porter. Leave me your idea in the comments section of this post.

What we served:

Strawberry Chocolate Porter (name pending)
OG: 1.070
FG:  1.018
ABV: 7%

"Black Irish" Red
OG: 1.064
FG:  1.020
ABV: 6%

Dirty Blonde
OG: 1.060
FG:  1.012
ABV: 6%

Sinful Sippin' Cider
OG: 1.090
FG:  1.010
ABV: 11%

Until Next Time,

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Blonde Ale

For those of you who keep up with this blog, you know that I'm brewing beer for a friend's wedding in January. We decided that one of the beers should be a very light and mild beer for those who are "casual" beer drinkers, so I decided to brew a blonde as a trial. Here's hoping it turns out to be what we're looking for. It was incredibly easy.

  • 6.6 pounds Light LME
  • 1 pound Light DME
  • 1 pound Table Sugar
  • 0.5 pound Crystal 15L
  • 1.5 ounces Willamette Hops
  • Whirlfloc
  • 10 grams American Ale Yeast (White Labs WLP001, Wyeast 1056, or Safale US-05--I used 2 packages of US-05 for a really crisp feel and flavor)

  • Steep grains at 150-160 F for about 30 minutes
  • Add dry extract, sugar, and hops. Boil for 60 minutes.
  • At 15 minutes left, add liquid extract.
  • At 10 minutes left, add one whirlfloc tablet
  • After one hour, remove from heat. Cool wort and pour into fermenter. 
  • Pitch yeast.
  • Ferment for 7-10 days.
  • *Before kegging, I transferred the batch over to a secondary to remove excess sediment from the beer. I did not let it sit long at all. I then transferred the batch right over to the keg and pressurized it. This beer is supposed to be light and clear, so we don't want a lot of sediment getting in the way.

OG: 1.060
FG: 1.012
ABV of about 6%

It turned out to be a little more alcoholic than I would have liked for a blonde, but we'll see. I'll update in a couple of days to let you know how it turned out.

Until Next Time,

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Ultimate Compliment

A little while ago, a good friend of mine got engaged. He and his bride to be are getting married sometime in January. He asked me to be a part of the wedding in a somewhat original way. He asked me to make the beer for his reception. I, of course, accepted. What an awesome compliment. I will need to get some more equipment (oh darn) in order to do this right, but he's offering to help me buy some of that, not to mention he's buying the ingredients for the beer. This is so cool. I'm really looking forward to this. I'll be making 2-3 beers and one cider. We're currently discussing types of beer. This should be fun!

Until Next Time,

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Irish Red Update

I let the Irish Red ferment for about two and a half weeks before transferring it over to the keg. It came out nicely, in my opinion. It has a very deep copper color (a little darker than most reds) and has more roasted character than I would usually associate with a red. It has a great mildly bitter aroma, followed by a smooth texture. It has some great caramel and roasted malt characteristics, without too much of a bitter aftertaste sometimes associated with reds. A few of my friends who tasted it recently really liked it, but didn't think it tasted like an Irish Red. I'd be interested in comparing it to more traditional Irish Reds to see how it stacks up. At any rate, I really like it and would make it again.

OG: 1.064
FG: 1.020
ABV of approximately 6%

Until Next Time,