Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category

Brewed: Leaner Saison (E)

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

beautiful day to home brew leaner saison

This is the fifth recipe version that I home brewed of Leaner Saison. It is the second time I have brewed Leaner Saison this year and the second recipe version. Not much difference but I keep tweaking.

There is only a few unbelievable days each summer in Chicagoland. Today was going to be the second in a row: 75*F – 80*F with <40% humidity. Starting the home brewing process at 0600 with high skies is the perfect scenario for me. The sun hits the yard with those long angles, similar to the evening but riding on the hope of the days beginning rather then the solemn end.

Formulating the recipe for Leaner Saison (E)

The reason for brewing this batch of Leaner Saison are quite similar to the earlier brew session this year:

  1. Lallemand Belle Saison yeast had been purchased a couple of weeks prior in anticipation of home brewing a saison.
  2. The taste for rye was in my mouth. I think it may be time for hoppy rye amber as well!
  3. I purchased Azacca purposely for Leaner Saison after the success of the brew day earlier this year.
  4. Simplifying the last recipe version.
  5. It summer and a hoppy saison sounds darn delicious.

Anticipation is high from end for this beer. The upped level of hop usage along with how well it plays with the rye… Enjoy!

Recipe for Leaner Saison (E)

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, July 07, 2018
Day: low humidity, high sky, started @65*F, rising to 80*F
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Lallemand Belle Saison
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.061
Finishing Gravity: N/A
IBU: 30.8
Color: 5.0 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Conversion Efficiency: 67.75%
Alcohol by Volume: N/A
Apparent Attenuation: N/A
Calories per ounce: N/A
Primary Fermentation: 2 days @68*F, rise to 90*F

Grain Bill:
9.00 pounds Pilsner
3.00 pounds Rye
2.00 pounds Red Wheat

Saccharification @149.9*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces 2016 Azacca @10 minutes
2.00 ounces 2016 Azacca @5 minutes
2.00 ounces 2016 Azacca whirlpool, 20 minutes

1.0 tsp Irish Moss @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @15 minutes
4.0 quarts of rice hulls


  • 2018-07-07 evening: @66.7*F, added yeast.
  • 2018-07-08 morning: @66.0*F, no visible fermentation.

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Brewed: Summer Rental American Pale Ale

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018
american pale ale summer rental home brew

Beautiful day but the humidity is off the charts!

I wanted to home brew last weekend but it just wasn’t in the cards. I was promised (by the wife) that I could home brew this weekend. Time to get an early start as the humidity is off the charts with all the rain we have had over the past week or two. I feel like I am in Florida in July and/or August.

Summer Rental is an American Pale Ale made with a combination of old and new school hops, while using North East India Pale Ale techniques. The grain bill is quite simple and typical of American Pale Ales: base malt, carapils, and a low Lovibond caramel malt. I decided to mash a slight bit high than normal (was shooting for 152.0*F) as I didn’t want this beer to dry out too much with the Safale S-05 yeast, American ale.

The recipe was devised to use up some older hops, making way for the enormous amount of stockpiled hops. That stockpile is only making me imagination get the best of me: what can be done, how juicy can I make, what other combination of hops can turn out fantastic?

Hops centered beers will continue to be the home brewing style of choice until I get tired of them or I cure my hoarder mentality. Enjoy!

Recipe for Summer Rental American Pale Ale

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, June 23, 2018
Day: 70*F, partly cloudy, ridiculously humid, rising to 80*F
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05, not hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.046
Finishing Gravity: 1.005
IBU: 30.4
Color: 3.9 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Conversion Efficiency: 67.75%
Alcohol by Volume: 5.38%
Apparent Attenuation: 89%
Calories per ounce: 12.37
Primary Fermentation: 7 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
8.00 pounds American 2-Row
1.25 pounds Red Wheat
0.50 pounds Cara-Pils
0.25 pounds Caramel 20L

Saccharification @150.8*F

Hop Bill:
3.00 ounces 2015 Cascade @10 minutes
1.00 ounces 2015 Equinox @5 minutes
3.00 ounces 2015 Cascade whirlpool, 20 minutes
3.00 ounces 2015 Equinox whirlpool, 20 minutes
3.00 ounces 2015 Cascade dry hop, 6 days
2.00 ounces 2015 Equinox dry hop, 6 days
2.00 ounces 2015 Equinox dry hop, 5 days

1.0 tsp Irish Moss @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @15 minutes
4.0 quarts of rice hulls


  • 2018-06-23 evening: @65.1*F, added yeast.
  • 2018-06-24 morning: @62.0*F, no visible fermentation.
  • 2018-06-24 afternoon: @61.6*F, no visible fermentation, put on heat @68.0*F.
  • 2018-06-24 evening: @64.8*F, light fermentation, took off heat.
  • 2018-06-24 morning: @65.3*F, medium fermentation, put on heat @68.0*F.
  • 2018-06-24 afternoon: @67.6*F, great fermentation, added dry hops.
  • 2018-06-25 afternoon: @68.4*F, slowing fermentation, added second round of dry hops: 2 ounces 2015 Equinox.
  • 2018-06-29 evening: @66.4*F, no visible fermentation. Cold crash @39*F.
  • 2018-07-01: Kegged.

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Tasted: Whammy! NEIPA

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

The wait is over, I can finally taste a home brew: Whammy! NEIPA (Northeast India Pale Ale). Gearing up for the tasting, I couldn’t wait, I had been tasting the beer pre-carbonation to determine the development of the profile.

I had apprehensions of the Hallertau Blanc hops as I wasn’t certain they would nicely with the other two hops; Vic Secret and Mosaic. For those of you that aren’t familiar, Vic Secret is a hop that is a replacement for Galaxy, typically the harder of the two to get. Hallertau Blanc has some wonderful tropical fruits but also can have a green grape side that might not be friendly.

Look: Pours golden yellow. Very hazy, even cloudy.. Nice white foam covers, about an inch thick. Retention is above average. Lacing is nice. Similar to Swim? Swammi? Slippy? Slappy? Swenson? Swanson? NEIPA as the grain bill is exactly the same.

Aroma: Mango, passion fruit, papaya, pineapple, grapefruit and fruity green grape. Slightly floral. Sweet. Solid on the nose, the hops completely compliment each other.

Taste: Sweetness is there but seems to suit the style. The cornucopia of tropical hop flavors want to overwhelm but my nose is up to the task. Hops carry from start to finish but are not bitter, the sweetness makes sure of this point.

Body: Medium body. Medium carbonation. Very Dry.

Overall: This beer is a home run. The malt profile is perfect and the hops lend the perfect balance for the style.

Back in business of home brew. Starting off with an All-Star beer makes this an easy slide back in. My next beer will be on point quite quickly. Of course it will be another NEIPA. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: According to a study, people whom constantly check and use their mobile devices throughout the day are less able to delay gratification.

Trade, Oklahoma edition

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

So today’s blog is about ALPHA HIVE, a double IPA from Coop Ale Works out of Oklahoma City, OK. It was acquired from a gentleman named Jason, and there are three things I want to mention about the trade I made with him that netted me this beer:
1) I found out about Jason being a willing trade participant because he traded with a certain beer dude in the recent past
2) I sent him a couple of local barrel aged beers, and that’s because
3) the “main event” of his part of the trade was the three Founders’ Canadian Breakfast Stouts he sent me

Alpha Hive is very reminiscent of a much more well known beer, one called Hopslam, as this is a double IPA with honey. It’s listed as 100+ IBU and 9.1%ABV.

The beer is a brownish gold with mild head and lacing. It’s got a haze that’s caused by the considerable particulate presence. Smell is dank and hoppy with a definite honey background. Taste? Delicious. Hoppiness is there in the bitter forefront, but the sweet honey asserts itself and it leads to a taste combination that works together, not against each other. Feel is dominated by the strong alcohol, kind of juicy, well balanced, easy to drink for a beer that’s strong in a couple different ways.

Overall, I’d say this one gives Hopslam pretty good competition as a quality double IPA with honey.

American Craft Beer Prices – Again!

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

American craft beer prices continue to climb. There seems to be no stop in site. It drives me to home brew more often in spite of a crazy busy day-to-day schedule.

This most recent rant on American craft beer prices was brought out by the purchases I recently made at the local box beer store. Severn different American craft beers were purchased with an overall cost of $96.93 (excluding tax). Side note: this was the first American craft beer purchase in several months. Below is a list of the purchases:

Only one beer under $10.00. And, that beer, when I originally had it was only $6.99. That is a $2.00 price hike or, more meaningful, a 28.6% price hike. Other beers, on the list above, that I have reviewed on Two Beer Dudes, have had similar price hikes (why logging this crap is so important).

According to the graphic ( some 52% of the cost of American craft beer comes from the distributor and retail markups. Never thought it was that much. Wait. Why does beer still cost so much when purchased directly from the brewery?

This isn’t my first rodeo discussing (complaining) about American craft beer prices…

Past articles on American craft cost:

Some of the articles above were speculative. Surprisingly, possibly not, but some of those have come true. Especially the post on American craft beer limited lease price increases.

What is next?

The only way that change will occur: people have to stop paying the rising prices for American craft beer. But, the fever is on, it is the in thing. This is scary similar to the wine industry some 15 – 20 years ago.

Prediction: I think that the American craft beer bubble is going to burst in the next three to five years.

In the meantime, make mine a home brew. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: There are 318,979,564,000 possible combinations of the first four moves in Chess.

Trade, Oregon edition

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

So I never got around to Ohio, Fresh Hop part 2, but I had a new one to me last night from a friend named Phil who is a recent transplant to Oregon. He sent me a Pelican Brewing’s Mother of All Storms (which will be shared with a certain beer dude at some point), a bottle of Hair of the Dog’s Matt (for obvious reasons, a beer I’ve always wanted to try), and two cans of STICKY HANDS, an IPA from Block 15 out of Corvallis Oregon.

The first thing I can say about it is it was brewed December 19th, 2017, and I had the first one between January 10th and 14th, and it was amazing. The second thing I can say about it is it is not a beer to let age more than three to four weeks, as while it was amazing, it definitely wasn’t as good as it was when fresher. I guess that’s why the can reads “best before yesterday”.

Any way, it’s a fun looking beer. It’s a very cloudy gold orange with slight foam and lacing, plenty of particulates and carbonation. The smell is straight up danky hops, with a slight mild citrus presence. Taste starts with a dank bitterness than opens up into hoppiness and citrus and pine flavors. It’s not as crisp and booming as it was when fresher, but it still has plenty of hop presence and flavor. It’s a dry beer, but very mouth filling with a strong alcohol presence. It’s an easy sipper and a very good beer, and I’d look forward to trying it again, only this time finishing them all off right off the bat instead of letting any age too long.

Tasted: with the Afro Six-Nine

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

It is snowing outside, the temperatures are in the teens, no better time than the present for a home brew. with the Afro Six-Nine seems to be the prefect beer for the present moment. Of course this fits the bill of a North East India Pale Ale (NEIPA).

Look: Pours golden yellow. Somewhat hazy, could possibly call it cloudy. Nice white foam covers, about an inch thick. Retention is above average. Lacing is thick, coating and throughout.

Aroma: The nose is big on the hops. Passion fruit, peach and some berry mingles. Ripe! Gentle sweetness. The aroma is huge!

Taste: Light sweetness balances a huge hop flavor. Ripe passion fruit and peach are prevalent. The hops linger into finish along with a sidecar of sweetness.

Body: Medium body. Medium carbonation. Crisp and dry. Bitterness is minimal.

Overall: There is huge aroma on this beer. Definitely the star. Taste is solid. Overall a good example of the style. The hops work well together.

My first kegged NEIPA. Being able to get a small snort is so much more enjoyable than having to finish a 22 ounce bomber all the time. Enjoy!

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Brewed: Leaner Saison (d)

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

Leaner saison has been a go home brew of mine for quite some time. Unfortunately I only blogged about in 2016, when I made a version of leaner saison with mosiac hops.

Blogging on version d of leaner saison is more of an exercise than it is to log the beer. Four iterations of the beer with minimal changes (yeast and hop), leave little to document.

Formulating the recipe for Leaner Saison (d)

The reason I decided to brew leaner saison: I had another satchel of Lallemand Belle Saison yeast that needed using before expiration. It had been sitting for at least four months, from the late summer, with thoughts that it would have been used rather quickly.

I could have decided on other saison recipe I have on hand or formulated a new one. I chose leaner saison as it’s versatility lends itself to small tweaks:

  1. rye, as I enjoy the profile in a beer.
  2. left over Azacca hops needed to be used.
  3. been wanting a home brewed saison since the summer.

Let’s hope the first beer of 2018 will be fantastic. Enjoy!

Recipe for with the Leaner Saison (d)

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, January 06, 2018
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Lallemand Belle Saison, hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.062
Finishing Gravity: N/A
IBU: 40.6
Color: 4.8 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.41%
Alcohol by Volume: N/A
Calories per ounce: N/A
Primary Fermentation: 1/2 day @66*F, slow rise for 2 days to 78*F

Grain Bill:
10.00 pounds Pilsner
3.00 pounds Rye Malt
0.25 pounds Oats

Saccharification @149.2*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces 2015 Azacca @20 minutes
1.00 ounces 2015 Azacca @10 minutes
2.00 ounces 2015 Azacca whirlpool, 20 minutes, started at flameout

1.0 tsp Irish Moss @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @15 minutes
4.0 quarts of rice hulls


  • 2018-01-06 @6:00pm: @65.6*F, little fermentation. Added heat at 68.0*F.
  • 2018-01-07 @7:30am: @66.5*F. Moved heat up to 71.0*F.
  • 2018-01-07 @1:00pm: @70.2*F. Moved heat up to 73.0*F.
  • 2018-01-07 @6:00pm: @71.9*F. Moved heat up to 75.0*F.
  • 2018-01-08 @6:30am: @73.4*F. Moved heat up to 78.0*F.
  • 2018-01-08 @7:30pm: @77.8*F. Great fermentation.
  • 2018-01-10 @7:15pm: turned off heat.
  • 2018-01-20: kegged.

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Tasted: Fat Sam NEIPA

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

Fat Sam – the inspiration for this beer.

Fat Sam NEIPA is yet another North East India Pale Ale (NEIPA). Are you tired of them yet? I am not. My senses love the hops.

I think I may have finally found a winner. The combination of Mosiac, Citra and Rakau hops are ridiculous. There is good sweetness to this beer that brings me into the NEIPA territory.

I have had multiple today and I looking for my third!

Look: Typical NEIPA that I have been brewing over the past year: brilliant, light gold color. Hazy. Big white foam. Slightly rocky as it begins to recede. Great retention and sticky lace.

Aroma: The hops are huge here! Ripe tropical fruits: mango, pineapple, and papaya as well as stone fruits: apricot and peach. Nice balancing sweetness.

Taste: The cornucopia of hops continues: mango, papaya and apricot are strongest, lingering. There is a bigger sweetness than I have had in more recent NEIPA attempts. Minimal to no bitterness.

Body: Medium body. Medium/light carbonation. Crisp but not overly dry.

Overall: This beer blows away She Doesn’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl in every sense. The best NEIPA I have brewed. No question! Easy to drink. Mild enough on the senses to have multiple. Alcohol starts to sneak.

I have been searching for that crazy hop profile for my person NEIPA on high. I have finally achieved it. I could have left it at Mosiac and Citra but I think the Rakau mingles and plays like a pro with those other two big boys. I have already looked into picking up more hops to allow further brew days but, unfortunately, it looks like Farmhouse Brew Supply is out of them. Enjoy!

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Trade, Ohio Fresh Hop Edition Part One

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

So I think I had the next two beers I’m going to blog about last year, and I jotted notes on them and intended to include them in a big comparison of fresh hop beers, but I just never got around to it. So since they’re both beers I got in trades from a state I have yet to review, I figure I’ll do a blog about each of them. I could do a comparison tasting, but I’d rather let each be judged upon their own merits.

So, the first one is Hop Stalker by Fat Head’s Brewery out of Middleburg Heights, Ohio. I received it from a guy named David who I hadn’t traded with before. He actually sent me a couple of Ohio beers, but let’s just stay with the fresh hops. This one was bottled 10/4, so it’s about six weeks old.

The first thing about this beer that jumped out at me was the big smell of hops. Fresh, citrusy, and dank, yes, even at this age. It’s got a cloudy bronze tint to it that gets darker the higher in the glass, plus a creamy looking lacing and a constant carbonation stream. I think the taste has faded slightly, but it’s still got a healthy fresh citrus mixed with dankness and a bit of bitterness. I’m kind of surprised how not bitter it is for an 80 IBU beer, plus it’s rather crisp and clean with little evidence that it’s 7 percent ABV.

I think the thing I like best about it, other than the smell, is how balanced it is with citrusy hoppy flavor and the mild amount of bitterness.

A rather quite enjoyable beer.

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