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Ask The Brewmaster

Finished Homebrew Beer Brined Turkey

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Well, Tommy The Turkey tasted pretty darn good!  As you can see, he turned a nice golden roasted color.  My homebrew beer brined turkey experiment was a success!


As far as taste, the saltiness of the brine was definitely present.  The turkey was juicy.  The flavor of the two beers I used, a pilsner and SMASH made with nugget hops, was very present, but not overpowering.  My boys loved it.  The in-laws definitely liked it.  Even my wife, who doesn’t love turkey or beer, said it was good.  Leftovers stayed very juicy and moist.  When reheated, there was a smell of brew in the air.


Would I do it again?  SURE WOULD!  Next time, I would definitely get the bigger ziplock bags (5 gallon size).  I may soak it for longer.  I would definitely go bigger than the 14 pound bird I used this year.

Ask The Brewmaster

Beer Brine Your Turkey With Homebrew

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Tis the season to be FOWL…..Ok, maybe you just want to try something different with your fowl.  Thanksgiving is the perfect time to showcase your home brewed beer.  This year, my 14 pound Tommy the Turkey is making a 2 day swim in a homebrew beer brine before I give him a little roasting.

I read an article in BYO magazine about using homebrew to beer brine your turkey.  After a quick discussion with the powers that be, I put the plan into motion.   Continue reading


Homebrewing Update: Lt. Topper and RISing Mounds

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Today is a brew “maintenance” day.  It is these days during homebrewing that make you wish you could speed up time just a bit to get to the final product.  Patience, patience, patience.

I added the first batch of hops for dry hopping the Lt. Topper, the first beer in my CLONE WARS series.  It is a Heady Topper clone.  I will let this first dry hopping of just short of 4 ounces of hops sit for a few days before I transfer it to the secondary and add even more hops.   This beer smells wonderful.  I have a few cans of Heady Topper off to the side to be able to do a comparison.

Today is also the first of two coconut toasting days.  Today I am toasting 14 ounces of coconut to go into RISing Mounds, a chocolate coconut Russian Imperial stout.  I will also make a new addition of some more Royal Dutch Chocolate and some Mayan cacao powder.  This will all be at the bottom of the 6 gallon glass carboy when I rack it over shortly.  I may have to sample a little wort during the transfer for both gravity sake, and taste.  Oh yeah, and I will also add two vanilla beans soaking in bourbon….a little extra tastiness!

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

Ask The Brewmaster Homebrew Talk Homebrewing

Homebrewing Tip: Making A Yeast Starter

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So I have been brewing for a little over five years.  You know what I had never done?  Yup, you guessed it by the title…I never had made a yeast starter.  Fellow Beer Nerd, Ricky, made a comment about a my batch of Lt. Topper.  I had a question about the viability of my yeast and pitched some dry yeast on top.  Here is what he posted:

I always make a starter before brew day. Not only does this give you enough yeasties to tackle all that wort, it also gives you an idea of your yeast health. You don’t need anything fancy either, I started with just a clear jug so that I could see the activity.

I had the tools, my wife got me a “little” kit a year back or so. But, alas, I was lazy, and now it was time to put it into practice.  Thanks to the nudge from Ricky.  According to industry leader, White Labs, a starter is good for the viability of your yeast, getting a lager batch ready, a high gravity brew (over 1.070), or if you want a fast start.

I decided that I was going to brew a Russian Imperial Stout while my wife was out for a girls night….but I decided to brew a little less than 24 hours before I needed my starter to be flying.  I smacked a pack of Wyeast Scottish Ale at 10:30 at night.  About 1:30 AM, I boiled 1 liter of water, and added 1 cup of dark malt extract (what I had on hand).  The boil for this was just 15 minutes.  Then, I poured the wort into a glass flask, and did a quick water bath in the sink to cool it down.  Once my temp was low enough, I poured the smack pack into the mixture.  I gave it some good swirls to move some oxygen in there to aerate it.  Then,  I put on a #10 stopper, a traditional 3 piece airlock, and filled it with some sanitized water.  I then put the beaker into a nice dark place in the cellar.

I noticed a nice “small” krausen layer beginning to form about 12 hours later, with a little activity in the airlock.  Another 10 hours later, my starter was ready to pitch into my RISing Mounds.  My brew day report will be coming soon about that brew!

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?
Bottling Homebrewing

Bottling Day: SMaSHing Nuggets and Bottle Scraping

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It all started because of a dentist appointment.  A little extra time, and voila!


I scraped and sanitized a bunch of bombers and 12 bottles today.  This will prepare me for my next brew.

Then I bottled SMaSHing Nuggets.  I put some into a Beer Box, some in bombers, and some into 12 ounce bottles.  The OG was 1.048 and the FG was1.015.  ABV rings in at 4.5% – makes for a good session beer.  The uncarbonated beer tastes a little earthy and peppery…I think it will be quite tasty!

I attached a pic of the brewing notes.  Feel free to try it out!
SMaSHing Nuggets

Ask The Brewmaster

Great Place For Shopping Help – Homebrewfinds.com

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One thing that is important in home brewing, is sharing information.  Homebrewfinds.com is a perfect example of this!  I find myself checking out the site frequently to see what Chris has posted.  I will be featuring a post with an interview with Chris in the near future.  Disclaimer time – when you go to his site and find out there is something out there that you “need”…..don’t blame me for “needing” to spend the money.

Chris has a great social media presence, and can help you find some great deals.  Did you find a great deal someplace?  Drop him a line and let him know.

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)





Ask The Brewmaster Homebrew Talk

“Making Dad with Chip and Zach” Announces Official Brewmaster

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Making Dad with Chip and Zach has a new member on their extended team.  The comedy podcast about fatherhood decided to challenge a local homebrewer, Jerry Scoppa, with making a spooktacular brew, and the challenge was accepted.  During the show, Brewmaster Jerry Scoppa  presented them with a few homebrews and one special Halloween treat.  The treat was a brew that used ghost peppers as a main ingredient.  Brewmaster Jerry was also given the title of Official Brewmaster of Making Dad during the show.


During the the broadcast, Chip Dolce and Zach Anderson were able to taste some homebrewed hopped hard apple cider, made from juice from the local supermarket, a chocolate peanut butter stout, a citrusy IPA and the ghost pepper beer.  Zach has issued a new challenge to Brewmaster Jerry of creating a cookies and cream beer for their tasting delights.  As a special gift to the listeners, Mr. Beer© , a home brewing system company, provided some special prizes for their listeners.


Making Dad with Chip and Zach is a show that is recorded and produced in Rochester NY, by Chip Dolce and Zach Anderson.  The duo is not new to podcasting, they formerly had a podcast in 1999 about video games.  Now the duo brings their talents to the Internet once more, but focussing on family, fatherhood, and humor.  They have been a featured podcast on iTunes, and have recently joined with CBS Radio’s play.IT podcast network, home to many well-known national celebrities podcasts and an audience in the millions.  Chip and Zach are now considered Internet celebrities in their own right.  New episodes of Making Dad are available every Monday. and can be found exclusively on CBS Radio’s play.IT podcast network,  in the iTunes Music Store or on their website at makingdadshow.com.


Brewmaster Jerry Scoppa is an avid homebrewer, and owner of the website AdventuresInHomebrewing.Beer , a site dedicated to brewing beer at home.  The site focusses on many ideas and thoughts in the world of homebrew, offers readers a chance to learn new things, and follow the journey of Brewmaster Jerry in his quest to create the perfect brew.