Archive for August, 2014

Purchased: American Sour Beers

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
Seems fitting hanging out with the barrels.

Seems fitting hanging out with the barrels.

I have been asking Michael Tonsmeire (The Mad Fermentationist) questions for at least three or four years: probably six months before I brewed my first foray into sour/wild home brewing. I wanted to know how I could work with Brett and how this magical yeast would be different from Sacch. Keeping it from contaminating my other beers and gear was a huge concern. I also learned that Brett does truly sour the way that the bacteria lacto does.

Since those early days my home brewery has lived harmoniously in the sour and normal beer realm. I feel like I have graduated to middle school. I have a miniscule amount of knowledge compared to Mike on the topic. Mike has had articles in BYO magazine for years but the first time I can remember him bringing up the idea of a book was via a poll on his blog.

I know that books aren’t easy to write so I had no idea if he would ever pull together his thoughts in one place. I was hopeful. Fortunately for the home brewing community Mike has a much more positive outlook on things than I do. 🙂

The book has been out a couple of months. Brando, the owner of the local home brewing store, Chicago Brew Werks, asked if I had read the book yet. He raved about the book. I had been intending to purchase but that was the last straw. I had to show my appreciation for all the hard work that Mike has put into helping funky home brewers and the book.

I am looking forward to the read. I am sure I won’t be able to put it down once I start. Friday night into the weekend will find me with book in one hand and a sour saison (review forthcoming) in the other. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: In 1980, a Las Vegas hospital suspended workers for betting on when patients would die.

Tasted: Grass Cutter Wheat Ale

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Grass Cutter Wheat Ale

This beer continues to evolve (first time, second time and third time blogged about). It has been brewed multiple times between with another batch ready to bottle in a week or so.

Why bring it up? Isn’t it ordinary?

I bring it up because I really enjoyed this last batch and the current batch that is fermenting was brewed to the same specifications as the last. The first time I have followed this beer up with a re-brew. I added 3 grams of bitter and sweet orange peel to the boil and, for the first time, added 3 grams of bitter and sweet orange peel, soaked in vodka, at bottling. Of course I only added the orange vodka mixture to the bottling bucket.

I no longer believe this beer to be ordinary. It isn’t extraordinary either. It is just a solid summer wheat beer with a nice orange citrus twist, well balance and easy to drink with friends. It goes over great, making it the perfect gathering beer. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: 30 years ago, you could buy a Lifetime, Unlimited First-class Travel pass with American Airlines for $250,000.

Brewed: Ryled Up

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

1# rye malt

I have brewed a Rye Saison a couple of times (the most recent I haven’t blogged about). Each time I have add some Brett to the beer after primary with a Saison yeast. In both instances there hasn’t been much rye left in the finished beer. I vowed to make a rye beer that would allow the rye to stand on its’ own two feet, while not over powering the beer, keeping balance and complexity.

I purchased some rye on my recent visit to the local home brew store (Chicago Brew Werks – probably the best selection of specialty malts I have seen anywhere), with the assertion that a rye beer that I have always wanted was one brew day away.

There was only one problem: I hadn’t made a recipe.

I thought about it for a bit, realizing that the large amount of hops in my freezer wasn’t getting younger. I had to start using them and a lot of them. That made the decision very simple. American IPA.

I had just finished bottling a DIPA a few days earlier, therefore I needed a beer that was more interesting from the malt side, balanced and had a bit of body. I still wanted a dry beer. I like dry IPAs. I needed a recipe, mash and yeast that would let me achieve my goal. I added the Caramel Vienne to get a touch of sweetness and very light toastiness, while the oats would help keep up the body of the beer with a mash at 150*F (was shooting for 151*F) making for a very fermentable wort by the S-05. I chose Cascade for the citrus that I feel is a great compliment to rye while the El Dorado has a nice fruitiness that I think would add a touch of complexity. I wanted the Cascade to stand out more – the reason for using more of this hop.

I should be dry hopping this beer around August 23rd, bottling it the following week. Hopefully ready for Bears football. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Thursday, August 07, 2014
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Safale S-05
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.055
IBU: 46.6
Color: 6.0 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.5%
Fermentation: 14 days @69*F, 7 days dry hopping

Grain Bill:
10.0# Two-Row
2.00# Rye
1.00# Caramel Vienne (20L)
0.25# Oats

Saccharification @150.2*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces El Dorado first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Cascade @ 10 minutes
1.00 ounces Cascade whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces El Dorado dry hop (7 days)
2.00 ounces Cascade dry hop (7 days)

1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes


  • 2014-08-28: Dry hopped with 2.0 ounces Cascade and 1.0 ounces El Dorado

Useless Fact: Sharon Stone was the first Star Search spokes model.

Brewed: Grass Cutter Wheat Ale

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

corriander and orange peel

I have blogged about this beer over, over, over, over, over, over again. In all those writings I have never attached the recipe. It has evolved just about every time that I have blogged about it. I don’t think I have been searching for the holy grail but mostly because I was out of a certain malt or hop or both. Yes, some of the tweaks have been to make it a beer I would like as much as the wife. The beer I brewed today is potentially the last iteration. I always have 2-row, red wheat and munich malts on hand as well as S-05 yeast and Saaz hops.

This is a simple recipe to brew with the coriander and orange peel being the only additions that keep this from being ridiculously simple. I have found that the mashing on the higher end (154.0*F) gives this beer enough body to stand on while not completely drying out (the S-05 can really attenuate). The orange at bottling adds a nice orange/citrus aroma that first greets the senses upon opening the bottle. Definitely a beer I will always have on tap once I can keg. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, August 02, 2014
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Safale S-05
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.041
IBU: 15.7
Color: 4.0 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 4.7%
Fermentation: 14 days @69*F

Grain Bill:
6.0# Two-Row
3.00# Red Wheat
1.00# Munich

Saccharification @154.7*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces Saaz 60 minutes
1.00 ounces Saaz 15 minutes
2.00 ounces Saaz 00 minutes

1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
9.0 grams coriander, crushed @ 15 minutes
3.0 grams bitter orange peel @ 15 minutes
3.0 grams sweet orange peel @ 15 minutes
3.0 grams bitter orange peel @ bottling soaked in vodka
3.0 grams sweet orange peel @ bottling soaked in vodka


  • 2014-08-17 Bottled with 4.1 ounces priming sugar, 2.0 cups of water. 4, 750ml, 20, 22oz, and 3, 16oz.

Useless Fact: Due to precipitation, for a few weeks, K2 is taller than Mt. Everest.

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