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Category Archives: Brewing

Brewing Homebrewing

Brewing Day: RISing Mounds

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So the wife went out for a Girl’s Night Out…so I decided to brew once the boys went to bed.  I made a yeast starter the night before.  I invited over a good friend, Chris, to be an assistant brewer for this batch, and taste a little craft brew (READ – excuse to drink beer together).IMG_20151107_232313879

Before Chris came over, I did some work ahead of time.  I took a pound of oats, and toasted it in the oven.  About 15-20 minutes on a bar pan gave it a slightly darker color, and a little more toasty flavor.  I tossed that into a muslin bag.  I also added the pound and a half of other crushed grains I had for the recipe into another bag.  I steeped these for about 70 minutes.  I used my new big pot for it’s second brew.  I love this pot because of the internal basket.  It leaves about 3 inches of space between the basket and the pot, so there really isn’t a way to scorch your grains.  I got a nice dark color, and a little bit of oatie goodness in there, and it was time to ramp up the flame.


For the main brew, I remove the basket, as it is no longer needed.  Chris showed up just after I added almost 3 pounds of dark dried malt extract, and was in the process of adding the first 6 Continue reading

Brewing Homebrewing

Brew Day: Clone Wars – Lt Topper

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IMG_20151101_131515386 So a buddy of mine, Chris, used to REALLY like stouts.  He preferred to keep it dark, and was not a “hoppy” guy.  Enter in the use of Untappd.  Since he started (which was AFTER me), and blew past 1,000 unique check-ins (BEFORE me), Chris has taken a real liking to DIPA beers.  For those out there, a DIPA is a double IPA.  This is usually a REALLY hoppy beer!  Now, in all fairness, I was basically the same way.  A few months ago, we had a poker night, which was really more of an epic beer tasting with a card game on the side.  That night, we had some Heady Topper, considered by some to be the Holy Grail of DIPAs.  Rated extraordinarily well, and not available for purchase outside of the state of Vermont, it is usually a highlight beer for true drinkers.

Fast forward a few months….Chris asks me if I can brew some DIPA beers for him.  So, of course I say YES!  I start looking into different recipes.  After some thought, I decided to go with Northern Brewer’s “Off the Topper” and “Plinian Legacy” kits.  I figure that having a clone of each coast’s premier DIPA is not a bad thing.  I decided to brew on a Sunday, during the 1 PM NFL games.  My team was on a bye week, I had already watched most a of game since it was in London, and I had access to a few cans of Heady Topper to compare it to when I was done.IMG_20151101_130801547

Time to break out the brand new brewing pot.  The kit calls for a 3 or 3.5 gallon boil, but it is always better to do a full boil if possible.  So my new 11 gallon pot should do the trick.   I steeped the grains in this extract kit with a partial mash.  To be sure the grains didn’t rest on the bottom of the pot and possibly scorch, I used to the basket that sits in the pot to keep it up.  Pulling out the grains is from the mash in is important to squeeze out those extra drops with all the malty goodness into your wort.  I ramped up the flame, and learned a valuable less – big pots with lots of water take lots of time to get to the rolling boil stage.

Once up to a boil, the dried malt was added, and I used a new little brewing ingredient…. hop shots!  A few things to think about with hop shots.  It is extraIMG_20151101_145804638cted and very potent hop oils.   I used 10 mL of the hop oil extract.  DO NOT try a little to see what it is like….it is is super strong, and almost seems like it is burning when swallowing, not that I tried it or anything.  It is a dark black sticky substance, and my son described it in the boil as me adding pepper to the beer….because it looked like small black dots on the top of the boil.  In reality, it really is like an oil slick in a few spots.  The pictures just don’t do it justice.

The rest of the brew went off pretty much without hitch.  At 15 minutes before flameout, the liquid malt was added.  I have been reading lots of things about not putting the liquid malt in until then so it utilizes it best AND it doesn’t over boil it making a darker beer.  A larger pot means more time for it to cool, less room for the ice bath in the sink, but these are all first world problems.  I decided with a big pot that perhaps a siphon of the wort was a smart idea, much better than attempting to pour it into my big mouth bubbler.  Things were going fine until I pumped the siphon a little more after some air got in the tube…..the hose popped out of the bubbler, and sent some of my precious wort all over the floor.  Hint, not fun to clean up, and very sticky.  I got that fixed, and eventually pitched the yeast.  My OG was 1.080, which was above the target that the instructions stated, but right on based on Beersmith software.

This is question of yeast viability now.  I got the Omega Labs DIPA yeast.  It was packaged on October 6th, so it was fresh.  It is in a smack pack like container, but says to shake it for 30 seconds.  I did so.  There was no huge swelling like I am used to with smack packs.  It was out of the fridge for about 5 hours before pitching.  I had it shipped to me with an ice pack, so I figured I was all set.  60 hours in, there was no krausen layer or real activity in the airlock.  I ended up pitching some S-05 dry yeast this morning, and now I have a nice level of activity, and krausen going on.  Lets see how it does.  I don’t think it will have an adverse effect on the beer.


Wort transfer to primaryThings I learned this brew:

  • I like a bigger pot.  I will do a full review on it soon.
  • Bigger pots mean longer times for brewing.
  • Always have somebody hold the tube for you.  Cleaning up some wort on your floor sucks.
  • There is a BOATLOAD of hops in this recipe.
  • Hop shots are cool.  I have started to look into making my own and using them in IPAs.
  • Beersmith is cool to help you track things (review coming).
  • I need a bigger spoon.

Questions I have:

  • What effect on taste does pitching a second, but alternatively recommended yeast, have on a beer?
  • How will the new pot do for a BIAB?
  • How would the pot do on an outdoor burner?
Brewing Homebrewing

Too Hot Mama, the Variant, and the Brewing of Ghost Pepper Beer

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So people have been asking about this ghost pepper beer that I brewed for the Making Dad With Chip and Zach.




Last year, I grew some ghost peppers in the back yard.  I got a few, shipped some off to a friend, and dried two out.  I hung them up on string in the corner of the kitchen, so no little fingers would touch them.  Chip Dolce, of the Making Dad Show asked if I was ever going to brew with them.  I said I would, as long as I came up with a decent recipe to work with them.  So after lots of thinking,  I decided that a Mexican Cerveza would be a good choice.  I sought out some Mr. Beer kits.  I combined multiple kits to make the beer a little stronger, and hook up with a 2.5 gallon recipe or so.  So two ghost peppers in the brew, and the name came about of TOO HOT MAMA.

That is when my thinking began to go as wild as my fermentation.  Later that night, I stopped down to check on my fermentation.  Here is what I posted on Facebook:

“Glad I stopped down to check on the Too Hot Mama fermentation. It was bubbling out of the airlock. Must have been ONE of the ghost peppers trying to do dastardly deeds.”  

If I hadn’t stopped down, my basement would have been a mess with ghost pepper wort, and the Too Hot Mama would have been my wife….but for the anger reasons.  11760107_10206263973611365_3016627267579577367_nI quickly rigged up a blow tube setup as shown below.  Before the fermentation was done, the growler was cloudy with chunks of wort and pepper seeds in it.


So back to the crazy thinking.  I took some home grown chili peppers and soaked them in tequila.  Ten of those peppers went into my first variant bottling ever.  I floated them in there and changed those bottle names to TOO HOT MAMA – MSHW.  What is MSHW you may ask? My Smoking Hot Wife.  This is a tribute to that minister who did a NASCAR prayer before the race and thanked God for his smoking hot wife (search it on youtube….worth the watch).


Well, Too Hot Mama, and the variant rang in at 5.6%. Don’t think this ghost pepper beer is a session beer though……although it is quite tasty.  Pair it with Doritos, chicken wings, or chili and you are on the right track!


Want to hear what Chip and Zach think of it?  Check out http://makingdadshow.com and check out episode 27 (being released on 10/26/15)





Brewing Homebrew Talk Homebrewing

Brewing Day – SMaSH Stye

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IMG_20151011_140003341So there was a quick change in the weather….so I had to harvest my hops.  I have two Nugget hops bines in the back, in a raised bed garden.  Full sun all day, good soil, and great hops.  With the quick change, some of the bines went straight brown.  So I had to harvest in a hurry.


I got home, did some quick snipping, and then just sat and picked hops for almost 2 hours.  In “wet weight”, I got over 4 pounds.  I didn’t pick carefully, as the sun was going down.  I think had I gotten a good harvest time, and picked carefully, I would have gotten 10 pounds easily.


Enter the new vacuum sealer!  For a recent birthday present, I got a hop grower’s dream machine, the Sinbo DZ-280.  It seals, and re-seals mylar bags.  I packaged up the hops in roughly 10-12 oz bags using the gallon size mylar bags.


Ok, back to brewing.  I made a quick SMaSH recipe.  I used 6 pounds of pale malt dried extract, and just a little over a full pound of my freshly picked wet Nugget hops.  I did hop additions every 10 minutes, starting at 60 minutes of the boil, five ounces at right at the start, and about two ounces each interval.  I added a final ounce at flameout.


I decided to try the SMaSH style, single malt and single hops, to really get the full effect of my homegrown Nugget hops.  I have never made a SMaSH beer before, but figured I would give it a shot.  Let’s let it ferment for a while, then see what is up!  The original gravity was a paltry 1.048, so it will be more of a session beer most likely.



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