Maple Honey Porter

February 23, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I bottled the Maple Honey Porter I brewed back in late January. This one’s going to need some time to mellow.


  • OG: 1.073
  • FG: 1.016
  • ABV: 7.4%

I used my BrewPal iPhone app exclusively in logging this brew. This gave me far more info than I could have hoped for. Some additional factoids about this beer:

  • Color is 36.8 degrees Lovibond
  • there are 236 calories in every 12 oz bottle (yikes!)
  • 48 IBUs
  • 85% efficiency

I took a sample last week after a week in the bottle and it was terribly young. Flavors were all over the place and while tasty it was just too young to note anything specific. I took another sample tonight and the flavors and aromas are starting to work together a bit more. The nose is still tacky-sweet with maple syrup notes though there are some nice caramel notes starting to come through. I’m also getting a touch of honey still, mainly in the form of a faint flowery sharpness.

The body of this beer is thinner than you’d expect from the aroma, but what you would expect from the gravity. The thinness lends a bit to a boozy element to the beer, but there is also a nice faint trace of maple there to bring a little bit of “hefty” flavor back to the beer. Nice toasty flavors coming through, with a dry hoppy finish.

I’m going to let this one sit for a few more weeks before trying again, but it has potential.

2009 Knickerbocker Battle of the Brews

January 27, 2010

I can’t believe I hadn’t blogged this yet…

Back in November 2009 I entered the Knickerbocker Battle of the Brews. It was my first homebrew competition, and I was mainly entering to get feedback on some of my beer other than my friends and family telling me “it’s good, I like it”.

I entered two beers I had handy at home. One was an English Pale that I knew was a bit off and wanted to see what the judges thought of the flavors, and the other was the Imperial Honey Amber that I was really happy with. I was on the fence whether to enter the honey as a specialty beer or a braggot, but settled on specialty as there was a bit more malt than honey in it.

Come the day of the judging, I stopped by at the posted time for the award ceremony and the place was oddly dead. There were a few groups of people still milling about and chatting, but it looked like they were packing up for the day. I walked over to one of the organizers and asked what the deal was… Apparently they finished the judging early and just wanted to get the hell out of there! Fair enough. I can’t blame them, though next time I think I’ll camp out on location for the day.

Anyway, I gave them my name and one guy repeated it and asked me “Didn’t you win an award?” That took me by surprise, and I replied “I don’t know! I just got here. You tell me!” they looked through the many remaining judging folders (I guess being mailed back to non-local competitors) and pulled my folder. Sure enough, my Imperial Honey Amber took 1st Place in its category (Specialty Beer)!!!

I was quite shocked, and think I smiled for the rest of the evening. The judging comments were great – objective, critical, and praising all in one. Best judge comment: “I would pay good money for a beer like this!”

The English Pale Ale didn’t do as well, but I got good feedback. Consistent feedback of mild acetone notes. Ah well. I’ll be able to put all their feedback to good use, and that was the whole point of the exercise. Winning was a bonus!

The Imperial Honey Amber will be the first of several beers I’ll be regularly brewing to come to a consistent recipe.

Followup on the Imperial Porter

January 27, 2010

Well, since it’s now almost gone I’d better get to this follow-up.

The Imperial Porter ended up losing its crown. I couldn’t locate the WLP007 or any high gravity yeast in time for brew day (every homebrewer in the area was apparently making a kick-ass winter beer), so I had to go with a standard English Ale yeast (Munton’s) and work a 2 day starter to get enough cells to take on the porter. They petered out early, and the resulting ABV was only 6.1% which, while reasonable, left the beer extremely sticky sweet. It’s been conditioning well in the bottle and I’ve received no complaints, but this was not the beer I was targeting. Ah well. It’s tasty and drinkable, so I can’t be too upset.

Monday Night’s Brew – Maple Honey Porter

January 27, 2010

I’m a sucker for adjuncts, what can I say?

Here’s a quick run-down of the recipe.


  • 3 lbs Amber DME
  • 2 lbs pale malt
  • .5 lbs black patent malt
  • .25 lbs chocolate malt
  • .75 lbs Crystal 120L malt
  • 32 fl oz pure maple syrup
  • 1 lb wildflower honey
  • 1 oz Cascade hop pellets (5.6%a)
  • 1.75 oz Galena hop pellets (10.6%a)
  • 1 vial White Labs WLP007 English Ale yeast

Brew Day’s Eve: I first stole 1/2 cup of Amber DME to make a 1 qt yeast starter. I gave the starter 24 hours so I’d pitch while the yeast was still highly active.

Brew day: Started with a 30 minute steep of all the grain in 2 gallons of water. Steeping held steady at about 155 degrees. Sparged with another 2 gallons of 165 degree water. Then started my boil with 4 gallons – a thick boil. Dropped 1 oz of Galena for the 60, the remaining .75 oz at the 30, and the Cascade at the 2. Transferred to fermenter, brought up to 5 gallons with clean cold water, chilled to 73 degrees, aerated and pitched the starter.


  • corrected OG: 1.073
  • 48 IBUs
  • color: 37 degrees L

Imperial Porter Recipe

October 8, 2009

I haven’t brewed in a while, mainly due to money and time. My next brew should be an imperial porter. I put this recipe together toward the mid-late summer, and intended it to be bottled by now and conditioning for the Christmas/New Years time period, but that didn’t happen. Perhaps it’ll be ready by St. Patrick’s Day…

Anyway, here’s what I intend to do:


  • 6.6 lbs pale malt extract
  • 3.3 lbs brown/dark malt extract
  • 2 lbs Crystal malt
  • 1 lb chocolate malt
  • .5 lb black patent malt
  • 1 oz Willamette hops
  • 1 oz Fuggles hops
  • 2 oz Northern Brewer hops
  • White Labs WLP007 dry English ale yeast

As you can see, this is going to pack a punch. The yeast I’ll be using is intended for higher gravity worts and can sustain in fairly high alcohol levels. I’m going to wing the Crystal malt and extract selections based on what’s available, but I’d prefer syrups and a lighter Crystal.


You know you’re a homebrewer…

October 8, 2009
  • IF you measure beer in gallons.
  • IF you have more than 10 gallons of beer in your home right now.
  • IF you don’t think 10 gallons of beer is a lot.

Bottling the Strawberry Summer Beer

August 25, 2009

A quick update…

I bottled the Strawberry Summer Beer with Angelos and guest homebrewer Jeff on Sunday. Final gravity was 1.010, giving this beer a final ABV of 4.5%, which is perfect for the style and a good yield for the lower starting gravity of 1.044.

The beer has a mild though distinct aroma and flavor of strawberry that does not intrude upon the light golden ale base. I think the oats I added softened the mouth feel up just enough, and perhaps took the potentially acidic edge off the berries. The beer is a bit murky still, but I’m hoping that much of that will fall out of suspension once the bottles are fully conditioned.

I’ll follow up next week with a tasting update. Need to test for carbonation, you know…

Monday’s Brew: Strawberry Summer Ale

August 20, 2009

This brew day happened on August 10th. Yeah, I’m a slacker.

I know August is an odd time of year to brew a summer ale, but honestly, it’s finally starting to feel like summer around here and I felt compelled to honor the warm weather. For those not in the northeast US, the weather throughout July can be summed up as follows: rain with intermittent thunder, lightning and wind, chance of sun 10%.

Earlier this year I discovered a delicious Strawberry lager by Abita and wanted to try my hand at brewing a strawberry beer of my own. Since I don’t have lagering capability (yet) I had to go with an ale recipe. I thought about using a wheat beer base, but then changed my mind at the last minute to a summer ale. Good thing, because that same day my brew buddy Angelos also brewed a strawberry beer using a wheat beer base.

The ingredient list:

  • 8 oz. oats
  • 1 lb. Carapils malt
  • 1 lb. Vienna malt
  • 12 oz. Wheat malt
  • 8 oz. Lager malt
  • 3 lbs. Golden dry malt extract
  • 3/4 oz. Hallertau hops (4.8% A)
  • 1 oz. Tettnang hops (4% A)
  • 3 lbs. whole frozen strawberries, pureed
  • 1 lb. sliced frozen strawberries in sugar
  • Windsor dry brewer’s yeast

The process:

Steep oats, Carapils, Vienna, Wheat, and Lager in about 2 gallons of water at 160 degrees for 20 minutes. Strain grain bags, move “tea” to boil pot, add water to 3-4 gallons. Bring to boil, add dry malt extract and Hallertau hops, bring to boil, set timer for 50 minutes.

Meanwhile… bring all strawberries to 180 degrees and simmer at 180 for 20 minutes to kill off any bacteria that may be hiding in the fruit. Bacteria at those levels are fine to eat, but will multiply in the fermenter into something quite nasty, thus the cooking.

When the 50 minute timer goes off, add the Tettnang hops to the boil and set a timer for 10 minutes. When timer goes off, remove from heat, remove hop bags and transfer to primary fermenter with the cooked strawberries. Add clean water to 5 gallons, chill to 70 degrees, aerate well, pitch yeast and seal the fermenter.

Original gravity was a low 1.044, which should produce about a 4-4.5% ABV beer unless the sugars from the strawberries don’t factor into the gravity. We shall see.

Wexford Irish Cream Ale

July 31, 2009

Wexford Irish Cream Ale
Cream Ale
Greene King/Morland Brewery
5% ABV
Grade: B+

Poured from nitro-can into an imperial pint glass. Comes out a thick, rich foam that takes a good 10 seconds to start breaking down. As the foam settles you see a beautiful cascade of foam as it breaks down into beer. The beer itself is a beautiful clear brownish orange color, and the foam a slight yellow in color. Superb head retention on this ale. Even toward the end of the glass there is a good half-finger of creamy foam atop the beer.

The smell is very bready and sweet with a touch of lemony tartness behind it. Not much else to note.

The taste is definitely bready, almost with a bit of rye. Any hops in here are solely for bittering, as there is nothing up front but a nice mild bitterness on the finish.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly creamy for such a clear-looking beer. It’s nice and thick-feeling.

Drinkability is high. It goes down easy and has a wonderful bitter aftertaste. Very thirst-quenching, in my opinion.

Overall I’m quite happy with this one. I’d walked past these cans for months and finally decided to try it. I wasn’t disappointed.

Monday’s Brew: English Pale Ale

July 28, 2009

I had forgotten to blog this at brew time, so here’s the post-game with all the brew details. In truth, I had a particular recipe in mind going into the brew store, but based on what they had, I made alterations. Looking back on the ingredients, this is leaning toward a pale ale.


  • 6.6 lb golden LME (liquit malt extract)
  • 2 oz Aurora hops (8.1% alpha)
  • 1 packet dry British ale yeast
  • 1 lb Crystal 10-degree Lovibond
  • 1 lb Vienna malt
  • 1 lb wheat

The schedule began with a 20 minute “tea”, which involved steeping the Crystal, Vienna, and wheat malt in a grain sock in about 3 gallons of 160 degree water. Once the tea was done, I lightly compressed the sock and ran the hot tea through it a bit as a bit of a faux sparge to release any remaining sugars into the tea.

I then brought the tea to a boil and added the LME along with 1 oz of the Aurora hops. I find that with extracts, it’s best to add hops as soon as possible to prevent boil-over. Something about the hop oils seems to calm the beer down as it approaches boiling.

Once at a boil, I set the timer for 30 minutes, at which time I added another 0.5 ounces of Aurora hops. Then set the timer for 28 minutes, at which the remaining Aurora was added for the final 2 minutes of boil.

At the 0-minute mark, removed from flame and removed the hop bags. With wort chiller, chilled down to 70 degrees, aerated the wort heavily and dry-pitched the yeast. I’ve had a lot of luck with dry-pitching, though over the past year or so the beer’s been slower to really start fermenting. But, it does ferment.

Original gravity was 1.062.

Final reading on bottling night (last night) was 1.014, yielding a nice 6.3% ABV IPA. The color is a bit on the deeper side, though not quite brown or amber. The beer has some strong bitter characteristics with mild maltiness behind it. At room temp and flat (and unconditioned) it was fairly good, but Angelos and I both agreed that once conditioned, carbonated and cold, this would be a fine brew. We shall see!