Brewery Tour – Atlanta, GA

Torched Hop

IMG_3398The atmosphere is a cool art-deco motif, sultry hop shaped metal chandeliers and brightly colored stained glass, leading to a vibe of sleek drinking rather than casual quaffing of beer. Beyond the dim lighting, there is ample brewing hardware in the background, letting the drinker know that they are still in a working brewery. The music reminded me of modern dance club, which matched the somewhat younger crowed at the bar. The staff was overall friendly but a bit standofish, giving advice but never seeming to interested in the drinker’s choices.

IMG_3399The beer is a mixed bag, however it is of generally good quality on the whole. Their IPA is certainly on point, with some citrus and evergreen notes. It is refreshingly bitter but not overpowering. Additionally, the smoked porter was very appealing, giving definitive  camp fire flavor that was also not overwhelming. Its malt base is rather mellow but it has a very smooth chocolate and coffee undertone. On  the other hand, several of their other beers failed to thrill me. for example The Belgian dark strong was highly undistinguished and lacked anything to make it stand apart. I would certainly visit again, however I will most likely ask for a small sample before I settle on a full pint of beer.

Overall: 7/10

Web Page:

Address: 249 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308


Wrecking Bar

IMG_3402The Wrecking Bar is a great place if your are looking for beer, brunch, or even both.  During my visit, I enjoyed a beef cheek sandwich with caramelized onions and swiss, which proved to be both greasy and delightful. The fries were prepared well and nicely crisp. Music in the background spanning across the yester year album, featuring hits from from Jimmy Buffet, Nancy Sinatra, to Willy Nelson. The staff is increadibly frindly, making this an excelent location to sit back and sample a few beers.

IMG_3407I think that this brewery has an excelent and diverse line up of brews allowing the drinker to either enjoy their favorite style or take atrip across the globe. The Berliner weisse is tart and crisp, very refreshing due to a restrained sourness. One very cool beer was Spruce Juice, an American Pale ale, with highly expressive evergreen notes and a honey like sweetness. It is highly drinkable and seemed to take the best of a winter forest and distill it into a beverage with deep, rich flavor.  Finally, Mr. Brownstone Imperialized Pale Ale, was a great example of this ofshoot style. It balanced malt and hops, giving leading to a dank nose and strong papaya flavors. Overall the wrecking bar is an excellent destination, whether you’re looking for extraordinary beer or food.


 Web Page:

Address: 292 Moreland Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

Sourdough Kvass

I’ve recently been experimenting with making sourdough breads. Now, while I haven’t perfected it to the point of blogging (hopefully that will come soon) I have made some tasty product. However, for every one success, there are probably three failures. Personally, I hate wasting food, especially failed cooking experiments. While I was pondering what to do with the bread besides trying to compost it, I remembered the relatively obscure Russian beer kvass.

FullSizeRender_1Classically, a kvass is a low alcohol beer brewed from old rye bread. The bread is mashed and the resulting slurry is fermented and consumed in a thick, often lumpy, smoothie. In more modern variations, the bread is separated from the sugary liquid and then the resulting wort is fermented. Being low in alcohol and before the time of “modern” brewing, it is likely that kvass developed a level of sourness after only a few days. It makes sense that a sour dough bread, having had lactobacillus already sour the mix, would be a perfect choice for a more modern take on the classic Kavas.

In order to extract as much sugar from the wheat as possible, I mashed with a bit of brewers malt just to make sure that the enzyme level was high enough. I had relatively poor control over the mash temperature so the temp ranged from the mid 150s to the low 140s. After an hour I did a quick sparge and then squeezed the brewing bag to extract a fair amount of liquid. I then boiled for an hour with a single bittering hop addition.

FullSizeRender.jpgI wanted to take this one step further. Since this beer is about as far from Reinheitsgebot as you can get, a bit of experimentation was in order. I chose to make this beer into an herbal beer, adding thyme and basil to complement the bready characteristics. I wanted the beer to remind the drinker of bread sticks and salad (sounds a bit weird, but its a combo that has worked for Olive Garden for years). Going above and beyond I wanted to see what this beer tasted like in both a “clean” and “soured” form. One gallon went to a clean German wheat fermentation, the other went onto some jolly pumpkin dregs I had kicking around the house.

Recipe: San-Fran Kvass

Weird… Yah, Tasty… depends on who you ask. The clan version is very pleasant, with a freshly baked bread flavor and a hint of herbs on the finish. It only has a mild level of sourness, just enough to give a slight twang on the tongue. Overall, it is dry and refreshing, perfect after a day under the sun! The sour beer will be ready in a few months and will hopefully be drinkable. This modern take on a Russian kvass brings together San Francisco sour dough flavors with a nice basil and thyme backbone. At such a low, ABV this is a good session beverage which has a sour tang without the need to mess with sour bugs…. unless you want to.

Recipe: 2 Gallons

OG: 1.036 —- FG: 1.000 —- ABV: 4.73%

  • FullSizeRender2.5 Lb Sour Dough Bread
  • 0.5 Lb Brewer’s Malt
  • 10 g Tradition
  • 10 Basil Leaves
  • 3 Sprigs Thyme

1 Gallon with Wyeast 3056

1 Gallon with Jolly Pumpkin Dregs

Brew Tour – Raleigh, NC

Trophy Brewing

This place is an excellent brewery combining the best of both food and beer leading to an excellent drinking experience. I came in on a Friday afternoon as my car was getting repaired. At a balmy 91 degrees, the day was shaping up to be a scorcher. The sun followed me into the brewery, its hot rays inspiring me move quickly into its cold embrace.

IMG_3367Shane Fisher, the General Manager, greeted me and welcomed me into the back. As I walked in, their head brewer was juicing fresh oranges and the air was redolent with the smell of citrus. It was a small room, no bigger than 30 by 30 feet, and filled to the gills with fermenters and brewing equipment.

IMG_3368“It’s amazingly cool in here” were some of the first words out of my mouth “how do you do you’re heating?”

“Were all electric” Replied Shane with a smile as he showed me the master control panel of the brewery, an impressive piece of technology which controls the brewing opperation.

IMG_3362It’s safe to say that while their operation may be small, they are making the most of the space that they have and producing excellent product. When it comes to the beer, their lineup is as diverse as it is excellent; with sours, to saisons, and even a few lagers gracing the taps. My tasting started with a Gose with both ginger and rosemary. To me, sour beers can be an indication of a brewer’s quality and potential. From the minute the gose hit my lips, I knew they were on to something special.

“Do you sour in the fermenter or the kettle?” I asked, taking another sip.

IMG_3363“We do most of our souring in the kettle, but we are starting to work on devoting a whole tank to brett.”

One trend that I have seen recently is the use of fruit, herbs, and spices in Gose and Berliner Weisse. When I asked about this trend he nodded, “ We have been using a lot of teas recently, and we find that they work well and give us the flavor we are looking for.”

IMG_3365Whatever it is that they are doing, it is working. The ‘Your my boy blue’, a wee heavy with blueberry and pomegranate tea was an extraordinary blend of the malty richness of wee heavy with the sweet richness of blueberries and pomegranate.

Trophy Brewing’s food is also something to wright home about. Their house specialty is pizza, a dish that often blends well with beer. During my visit, I enjoyed the “local Celebrity” which combined brussels sprouts, pork belly and a mélange of flavors that came together and complemented the beer.

Overall 9/10

Web Page:

Address: 827 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh, NC 27603


Hefeweizen has become a very popular style among craft beer drinkers. Many breweries have at least a seasonal hefeweizen available on draft or in the bottle. However, there is a is a darker, more sinister, cousin of hefeweizen that many people have never even heard of… the dunkelweizen.

Lets break Dunkelweizen down. Dunkel is German for dark and Weizen is German for wheat. Put them together and you get a Dark Wheat Beer. One key component to brewing a dunkelweiss is producing a beer that has a dark color combined with rich malty flavor. We can accomplish this through a number of methods, but I recommend utilizing a bend of various high lovibond malts. This will not only give a darker color, but will also create an interesting malt profile. Next we have to think about the weizen component to this beer. I personally prefer a near 50:50 ratio of wheat malt to barley malt but this is again about personal preference. One thing to remember is that the more wheat you have, the more challenging your sparge will be. Although it may be overkill, I like to use 1 pound of rice hulls in my wheat beers. I can say that when I use high amounts of rice hulls, I never get a stuck sparge.

This brew makes an excellent beer for the fall. It has the excellent banana and clove aromas that hefeweizen is redound for, but it has a more rich malty note that makes it perfect for colder weather. This is an excellent transition between the light beers of summer to the dark beers of winter.

Recipe: Dunkelweizen

This is a highly malty, rich beer with a beautiful hint of chocolate. It balances the banana and spice of a German wheat with the complex malt and dark sugar notes of a dark Belgian ale.This particular version is heavy in the darker malts, giving a plum and raisin flavor.

DunkelweissOG: 1.051 —- FG: 1.0** —- ABV: *.*%

Recipe: 5 Gallons

  • 5 Lb Red Wheat Malt
  • 4 Lb German Pilsner Malt
  • 1 Lb Dark Munich
  • 4 oz Carafa I
  • 4 oz Special B
  • 4 oz Crystal 90
  • 1 Lb Rice Hulls
  • 0.75 oz Hallertau (4.5% aa) at 90 min

Yeast: Mangrove Jack Wheat

Fermented at Room Temperature for 12 days, Kegged and Forced Carbonated

Quick Brews and Fast Ferments

There are many times when you just say…. “F$*K It”, I just don’t feel like brewing today… but I really need a new beer on draft.  At other times you think… “Oh S&*T” I promised a keg of beer for the party next week. We have all been there, but there is no need to let the trifling matters of laziness and lack of time stop the production of delicious beer. There are a number of ways that you can make a great beer without a lot of work or time. The key is being clever, and determining the strategic short cuts you can take in the brewing and fermenting process.

Fifteen Minute Brews

I first came across the idea of a 15 minute homebrew while watching basic brewing radio. The idea is as simple as it is brilliant. Since malt extract has been pre-boiled, it is not necessary to do a full boil. Considering this fact, a 60 minute extract boil more or less superfluous for most beers. The big limiting factor in the fifteen minute boil is the hop utilization. The long and the sort is that your bitterness extraction will decrease with more sugar in your wort. On top of this, with a 15 minute boil, you will get significantly less alpha acid utilization than you would during a 60 minute boil. There are a number of ways to compensate for this, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The first is to do a full boil at around 5.25 gallon starting volume. With the full boil, you will extract more bitterness from your hops but you will will have to spend more time in your brew day heating up and cooling down the wort. The alternative is simply adding more hops or higher alpha hops to boost your alpha acids. The down side to this method is the increased amount of money you will have to spend on hops. In my opinion the best option is a combination of the two methods. A 4 gallon boil is a very good middle ground between increased utilization and decreased overall cost of hops.

One Week Turn Around

I think we have all experienced times when we want to have a beer on hand but are faced with very limited amounts of time to make it. Its during these occasions that fast fermenting beers are our best bet. Generally speaking, fast fermenting beers are low alcohol beers. The less sugar there is for the yeast to ferment, the faster they will finish their project. Additionally, low sugar and low alcohol environments put significantly less stress on yeast, allowing them to ferment even more efficiently. When your looking for a beer with a quick turn around, look for something with a starting gravity of around 1.040 or less. Many styles can be brewed at either a low or high starting gravity, so there is quite a bit of room for low alcohol beers in several categories. Some examples of fast fermenting beers are: Ordinary Bitter, Mild, Scottish Light, Irish Stout, Cream Ale, Blonde Ale, Gratzer, and Trappist Single. On top of this, you could always make a “session” version of any beer style, your creativity is the only limiting factor.

Not only is it important to pick an appropriate style of beer, its necessary to treat the beer properly. There are a number of ways that you can ensure a healthy and fast fermentation. The first is ensuring that your beer has ample nutrients. You can do this by adding… you guessed it, yeast nutrient. Pick your preferred nutrients and add them as per the instructions. The next step is proper oxygenation. Yeast need oxygen in order to stay healthy, so don’t skimp when adding your O2. With the wort nutrient dense and full of oxygen, its time to pitch the yeast. Going with more yeast will give you a more rapid fermentation, but there is a limit. Don’t go over 4 packets of yeast, as this could take away from the overall flavor of the yeast. Finally, there is the question of temperature. Generally in chemistry it is understood that the higher the temperature, the faster the reaction (I know chemists, this is a gross simplification, get over it). This same idea works in brewing, and higher temperatures lead to faster fermentation. Unfortunately we need to deal with the nasty byproduct of off flavors. As tempting as it is to ratchet up the temperature to 90 degrees and let it rip, this would most likely make a highly undrinkable beer (but… what about a session saison…. think about it). I would recommend looking on your yeast’s web page and find out what the highest temperature your yeast can handle and use that a starting point.

Recipe: Quick Second English Bitter

This beer is a great recipe to brew if your in a rush and need a fast fermenter. The key to this brew is the low alcohol and punch of hop flavor. It makes a very easy drinking bitter, with delicate hop notes and a solid bite of bitterness. This recipe is based on Michael Dawson’s Boat Bitter. It’s best enjoyed with good company and simple food. 

English BitterOG: 1.041 – FG: 1.008 – 4.3% ABV

Recipe: 4.5 Gallons (Originally Designed for 5 gallons)

  • 7 Lb Marris Otter
  • 1 oz East Kent Golding (15 min)
  • 0.5 oz UK Brambling Cross (10 min)
  • 0.5 oz UK Brambling Cross (5 min)
Yeast: Mangrove Jack Burton Union


The Funk and the Fruit: Split Batch Brewing

Minion Fruit HatFor me, one of the most frustrating aspects to brewing sour beers is the wait time before you get to drink the beer. Even the quickest turn around sours will still take around 3 months to finish (with the exception of sour mashing, but that’s a different story). More often than not, I’m willing to take on a long wait for a big payout. However, there are occasions where my brewing schedule wont allow me to use a brew day making something I wont be able to enjoy for a year or more. On these rare but regretful occasions, I take the middle path and do a split batch.

The concept of split batch brewing is incredibly simple. Take one wort, put it in two different fermenters then BOOM you have a split batch. With this grossly simple overview covered, there are a number of options for you to choose from. The first thing to decide is what sour you want to start out with. From there you can determine what your non-sour beer will become. I’ve outlined a few options for transforming a sour base beer into something unique and exciting.

One idea is to match your sour style with a complementary non-sour style. Many beers in the sour category line up very well with the “standard” beers set forth by the BJCP guidelines. If your making a Lambic or Geuze, you can make the other half of your batch a wiezen. Considering that a large portion of a lambic’s grain bill is wheat malt, and the hopping rate is low, transforming the recipe into wheat beer is an easy shift. I would stick with a classic German krystal or hefeweizen, rather than an American wheat, as these styles most closely match the lambic malt and hop bill. Oud bruin’s vital statistics are almost in lock step with those of a Northern English Brown ale. By using a nice hearty English yeast strain you could easily make this beer into a complex malty version of the classic English staple. Unfortunately,  Flemish Red ales do not have a perfect correlate, but they can become the base of a number of excellent beers. You could turn your Flemish Red into a rustic Saison, a Belgian Specialty ale, or even a fruit beer. Other than matching style you can add a number of adjuncts to transform part of your wort into something completely unique.

Apart from matching style, you could also doctor your wort to make something completely new. In an episode of Brewing TV, the guys used Dark Belgian Candy Sugar as one of the sole darkening agents with a very light beer base. Since Belgian candy sugar can be used after the boil, it provides an excellent adjunct in the carboy. Along this line, you can use another sugar to boost up the alcohol of your non sour beer without changing any color. You could use light Belgian candy sugar to transform a lambic into a Belgian golden ale or ample honey to create a braggot. Finally, you can use cold steeping of dark grains to transform a Flanders red or oud bruin into a Belgian stout.

Costco Fruit MixThere are a number of other ways to doctor your non-sour beer in order to make it something unique. One excellent way of doing this is by adding Fruit. The choice of what you add is up to your personal preferences and possibly what is growing at the time. I think that exotic fruits and fruit blends are a lot of fun and can give you something rare. If you want to stick with tradition, cherries (for a kriek like beer) or raspberries (for frambois type style) would be the way to go. Very interesting beers can be created by the addition of oak. It can turn a boring and bland beer into a rich blend of vanilla, smoke, and coconut. Finally, if you find that your base beer lacks a any interesting character, you can try dosing it with some tinctures.

One final thing to keep in mind is the how much of an effect temperature has on the fermentation. If you are lucky enough to have multiple areas to ferment, you can pick a specific area for your sour and another for your non-sour beer. If you limited to one area to ferment, you have to decide what temperature to keep your beers at. Most sours ferment best and fastest in a slightly warmer environment. That being said, they will ferment at lower temperatures but it may be sluggish. Now, it is possible to ferment your non-sour beer at higher temperatures and have the best of both worlds. Strains that work very well at higher temperatures include wheat beers, Belgian strains, and saisons.

Recipe: Funk and Fruit Split Batch

Doing a split batch gives you one beer that you can drink in a short amount of time and another that you can savor in a year or two. The fruit beer provides an intense bouquet of tropical fruit and a slightly sour undertone. The flavors of the fruit evolve over time, giving you a new beer every few months. The sour beer is a basic Flanders Red, with a nice solid amount of funkiness and a pleasantly subtle sourness that makes this an incredibly easy drinker.

The FruitOG: 1.054 —- FG: 1.000 —- ABV: 7.0%

Malt and Hops: 8 Gallons

  • 7 lb Pilsner Malt
  • 7 lb Vienna Malt
  • 10.5 oz Aromatic
  • 10.5 oz Cara Munich
  • 10.5 oz Special B
  • 10.5 oz Wheat Malt
  • 1.33 Lb Munich Malt
  • 1 oz Hallertau – 90 min

Yeast: Sour Beer (Wyeast De Bom) and Fruit Beer (Wyeast French Saison)

Notes: The fruit beer component was racked onto 6 lb of Mango/Strawberry/Pineapple/Peach Mix from Costco after the primary fermentation was complete. The Fruit beer was then racked to tertiary to age. The sour beer was fermented in primary for two months then aged in a 6 gallon carboy for another ten months. After a year the beer was kegged and put on the infamous golden sour tap.

Tincture Brewing

IMG_2866First off, what is a tincture? A tincture is simply an infusion of a spice or herb in an alcoholic solution. Traditionally these were used for medical purposes, extracting and preserving the healing properties of herbs and spices for use at a later time. A happy extension of this practice is the infused alcohol which we enjoy in cocktails (think rosemary infused vodka martini or the infamous Jägermeister). For our purposes as brewers, we can use these tinctures to improve our homebrew. Tinctures allow a quick, precise, and relatively easy way of adding a unique and exciting boost of flavor to your beer.

Advantages of Tinctures

Tinctures provide the home brewer with a number of distinct advantages over simply adding the flavoring agents to the beer. Firstly, tinctures allow for a precise amount of control over the amount of flavor added. When added at the end of fermentation or before bottling, the brewer can add small amounts of a tincture and taste the beer with each addition. This prevents the risk of adding too much or too little flavor and can cater the taste exactly to your personal preferences.

The next great advantage is the reduced risk of infection. While many herbs and spices, hops included, have inherent antimicrobial properties, there are still some which may harbor bacteria. By soaking your flavor addition in an alcoholic solution, you are significantly reducing the chances of a rogue microbe getting into your beer. The alcohol not only extracts flavor but sanitizes at the same time.

The final great advantage is the shorter time frame associated with tinctures. This is especially true when working with oak. When aging on oak, the time required for full extraction can be along the lines of months to even years. On the other hand, you can make an oak tincture (with either vodka or bourbon) and have it ready for addition within 2 weeks time. While it is true that this can take away from some of the complexity associated with oak, its time advantage can definitely outweigh this disadvantage.

What Spices/Herbs to Use

Any spice or herb can be used as a tincture. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the flavor of your tincture should compliment the beer you put it in. While sage may be delicious in a saison or Belgian wit, its flavors may clash with a malty porter. I’ve outlined a number of spices/herbs you may want to try, and the beers that they could go very well with.

  • Sage: With a fresh yet potent aroma, sage screams out spring. It makes an excellent addition to saisons and Belgian wits but I would recommend using it with a light hand as it’s flavor can get overpowering very quickly.
  • Rosemary: This is one of my favorite herbs and it lends itself very well to beer. I personally enjoy using rosemary in my saisons, but I could see it being an excellent addition to a Belgian golden ale or possibly even a dry cream ale.
  • Mugwort: Said to ward off evil spirits and promote vivid dreams, this unique herb possess a sage like aroma and intense bittering potential. This is one of the ancient bittering herbs used for gruits. Try it today ind rich porters or northern English brown ales.
  • Heather: This herb is common to the Scottish highlands and was commonly used in old school scotch ales. With the high taxes associated with hops (usually grown in more southern climates) the Scotts often turned to this bitter herb to mellow out the malt in their beers. Heather possesses floral and earthy notes. Try adding a tincture of heather to your next scotch ale.
  • Cinnamon: This favorite spice can be found in almost every pantry across America. Obviously cinnamon imparts a cinnamon type flavor, but what many people don’t realize is that cinnamon lends a unique spicy heat to the beers it is put in. You could experiment by adding just a dash to your next stout or English mild. I’ve had a great deal of success adding cinnamon to Irish Red ales.
  • Vanilla: We all know vanilla from various experiments in baking. Its flavors go very well in stouts, particularly milk stouts. For something a bit beyond the pale, you could try adding this to a blond or cream ale. If you want to try an example of this, Forgotten Boardwalk’s Funnel Cake Ale is a Cream Ale brewed with lactose sugar and vanilla.
  • Cocoa Nibs: Cocoa nibs are just dried and fermented cocoa beans. They lend a rich chocolate flavor to your beer. For a pure chocolate flavor, add these to a neutral spirit such as vodka. For something a bit more extraordinary, you could add them to either rum or bourbon. Stouts would be the classic beer to add this tincture to but Triptych Brewery’s Golden Oatie adds coffee and cocao nibs to their blond ale with very unique results.
  • Pumpkin Spice Mix: The types of beer that you could put this mix into are endless. My personal favorite style is a rich and malty amber, but I have put it in stouts and saisons as well with varying levels of success.
  • Gingerbread Mix: I generally like putting this mix in brown ales but it really could go into anything. Check out the recipe below for my Gingerbread Beer Recipe.
  • Winter Spice Mix: Generally consists of allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger but other permutations are more than possible. I have heard of cardamom being used as well as mint. Generally this mix is associated with very full bodied malty beers. You could try them in an old ale, a stout, or a porter

How to Make a Tincture


While this is not the only method of making a tincture, it is a great starting point for the newbie willing to experiment. The following pictures are from an experimental green tea tincture I decided to make.

Clean Equipment Step 1: Start by thoroughly washing your container. While sanitation is not essential for this process, it is important to make sure there is no dirt which could lead to off flavors in your tincture. As far as choice of container, I personally like using canning jars. In regard to size, I would recommend either 4 oz or 8 oz jars. They are large enough to provide almost any size tincture, but small enough to easily fit into any space for storage.

Add Spice/Herb to JarStep 2: Add your spice or herb to the mason jar. For wet herbs, I would recommend shredding them lightly to increase surface aria and release some of the essential oils. The amount that you use is completely your prerogative and is a matter of personal choice. At this point, it would be hard to go overboard with the amount since you will essentially be diluting this mixture later.

Step 3: Add the alcohol to the jar. Make sure that the spirits are completely covering the spice.


Store the TinctureStep 4: Store the tincture in a dark place. The warmer the location, the faster the extraction will occur. Every few days give the jar a shake to mix the herb/spice and disperse the flavor. After 2 weeks, the tincture will be fully extracted. Longer wait time will only increase the potency. A combination of tasting and trial and error will let you know when its finished extracting.

Straining TincturesStep 5: Once you have decided that your tincture is finished extracting its time to take the extract off of the herb/spice. There are a number of ways to do this. One is to purchase a fine mesh bag and squeeze until all of the tincture is separated from the left over gloop. Another way is to use plain old coffee filters. While less efficient than a mesh bag, coffee filter’s convenience and price point makes them a reasonable alternative. Store in a cool dark location. Shelf life should be good for several months before flavors begin to diminish.

Recipe: Gingerbread Brown Ale

This beer is the perfect winter brew, combining the rich malt of an English brown ale with the warm spice of gingerbread. This makes an excellent gift to family or friends for the holidays. Although the spice diminishes slightly as the beer ages, the flavor still gives the beer a unique twist.

Gingerbread BrownOG: 1.060 —- FG: 1.015 —- ABV: 5.9%

  • 6.6 Lb Gold LME
  • 0.5 Lb Carapils
  • 0.5 Lb Crystal 80
  • 0.5 Lb Biscuit
  • 0.5 Lb Chocolate
  • 0.5 Lb Marris Otter
  • 3/4 oz (East Kent Golding) – 60 min
  • 3/4 oz (East Kent Golding) – 20 min
  • 8 g (Gingerbread Spice Mix) – Flameout
  • Gingerbread Spice Tincture to Taste

Yeast: Wyeast 1318 (London Ale III)

Notes: Gingerbread Spice Mixture as Follows (2 Part Cinnamon : 2 Part Ground Ginger : 1 Part All Spice : 1 Part Clove : 1 Part Nutmeg)

Next time I will consider dialing back on the darker malts in order to balance the profile and make the beer a bit lighter in both body and color.


House Blond Ale #1

I’ve recently been looking for a solid house blond that I could brew repeatedly and nail down. My goal was to create a recipe with a pleasant malt base, restrained bitterness, and an overall high level of drinkability. I decided to go with a high alpha hop and a later addition in order to get the best of both bittering and flavor. Citra, with its unique and pleasant characteristics in addition to its high alpha content, made a great choice for this beer. I chose honey malt since it would provide a level of sweetness, a hint of color, and a level of “what is that taste” to this brew. I decided against carapils for this round, but I may use them in the future to bulk up the body and add a bit of stability to the head.

Overall, I found this to be a good first try in creating a house blond. It is what I would consider to be an IPA lover’s dream blond ale. It comes at you with a very pleasant floral bouquet, and imparts strong flavors of cooked pineapple. It is most certainly a highly drinkable beer, but I am not thrilled by the hop selection. Next time I would like to go with something a little more subtle, allowing the malt bill to shine. However, I am hugely fond of the base of this beer and think it is a keeper.

Recipe: House Blond Ale #1

This beer has a pleasant malt base, restrained bitterness, and an overall high level of drinkability. The citra hops come across as a melange of tropical fruits with pineapple taking the lead. This recipe could be adapted to any taste with the substitution of another high alpha hop for the citra.

Blonde AleOG: 1.047 —- FG: 1.0** —- ABV: *.*%

  • 9.5 Lb Brewers 2-Row Malt
  • 0.5 Lb Gambrinous Honey Malt
  • 1 oz Citra at 15 min

Yeast: Wyeast 1099 (Whitbread) with 1800 mL starter of 2 days, cold crashed

Mashed at 152° F for 60 min, Whirlpool 10 min, Rest 20 min

Fermented at 67° F for 11 days, Cold crashed at 40° F for 3 days


  • With the starter, this beer took off like crazy and finished fermenting in around a week
  • 1099 flocculated amazingly, it formed a very compact bed at the bottom of the fermenter and left very clean beer behind
  • The flavor has mellowed with time to become more of a subtle hop character

Saison du BUFF Clone

All_BUFFs.previewWhen I first tried Saison du BUFF, I was astonished by the amount of flavor that was packed into this beer. It was a fantastic expression of both a solid saison base and a floral earthy bouquet. It’s what I would consider to be a gruit beer light, combining herbs and hops for a fantastic and unique combination. One of the cool aspects of this beer is that it was brewed at Stone, Dogfish Head, and Victory; with each brewery putting on a unique spin to the base beer.

This is the recipe from stone that I chose to use as a starting point: Recipe Base. I went a bit outside of the recipe for this beer, just to compensate for efficiency and taste preferences. I’m pretty happy with how this beer turned out, it has a nice similarity to the original but with a bit of a twist. It’s most certainly a solid base for a saison and I will definitely be using it again for future saisons, with a little bit of variation.

OG: 1.048 — FG: 1.002 — ABV: 6.0%


  • 5.5 Lb American 2-Row
  • 5.5 Lb American Pilsner
  • 1 Lb American White Wheat
  • 1 Lb Flaked Rye
  • 2 oz Aciduated Malt
  • .25 oz Centennial – 90 min
  • .25 oz Amarillo – 45 min
  • .25 oz Amarillo – 30 min
  • .25 oz Amarillo – 15 min
  • .25 oz Amarillo – 5 min
  • 7 g Parsley – 1 min
  • 1.5 g Sage – 1 min
  • 3 g Rosemary – 1 min
  • 3 g Thyme – 1 min

Yeast: Wyeast 3711 French Saison


  • Appearance: Slightly Hazy, Pale gold, Honey Blond, Great Head Retention
  • Nose: Sage and Rosemary, Slightly Sour, Earthy, Herbal
  • Mouth Feel: Well Carbonated, Dry
  • Flavor: Herbal, Subtle malt, Low hop, Tart, Flavors and aroma are well blended, Huge bouquet
  • Overall: A very nice beer but definitely not for a beginning drinker, very complex.