Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Brew Year’s Resolutions for 2017

As I reflect on my past year as a brewer there were far more highs than lows. Most recently I moved up in BJCP rank from Recognized to Certified.  I narrowly lost out on the People’s Choice award at Ales over ALS.  After years of avoiding brewing IPAs, I learned a lot during my United States of IPA project. Since I started pointing my social media links to my Blogger page and monitoring traffic, those posts have been some of my most viewed. Speaking of learning, I learned so much at Homebrew Con 2016. I have already put in for the time off to go to Homebrew Con 2017 in Minneapolis, but who knows if we will be able to go.

In 2015 I scheduled and planned out my brews so my seasonal beers would be ready on time and to help me ensure I brewed the beers I wanted to brew. That worked great and I stuck with that schedule for most of the year until my house was overwhelmed with beer. I’ll call that one a qualified success.

Looking forward to 2017 I have a few Brew Year’s Resolutions I want to hit.

  • Brew more big beers and sour beers: This is a carryover from last year. Dawson’s Kriek is still in a secondary fermenter and will be ready to bottle around February 1. Pyrite Pistol came out quite nice and garnered some decent scores in a competition, but then several bottles became infected. A couple were bottle bombs, many others were overly carbonated. Banshee Breakfast Stout is still in a secondary. I love the flavor of the beer, but the finish feels harsh. I can’t decide to dump it, blend it with a new batch of fresh beer, or bottle it and hope it mellows with age. I might have to bring a sample to the shop to get some advice. After those early batches I got away from brewing beers that benefit from extensive aging. I want to do more of that. Especially when our home is cooler during the winter months which helps make sure high gravity beers do not ferment at too warm of a temperature. Empty carboys are a waste!
  • Perfect a house IPA recipe: Unless it has a very specific niche, any would-be brewer needs to have a flagship IPA. I ran a survey on Facebook and the site to see what kind of IPA people would want me to make and New England-style was the clear winner. Also, brewing in Beverly, MA our local water with its high chlorides is most conducive to brewing a New England IPA. I have brewed several New England Pale Ales and IPAs, it is time.to dial in one recipe that can be a house or a flagship IPA.
  • Make other fermentable beverages and food: When I work Saturdays at the Modern Homebrew Emporium I feel I can answer most beer questions and help customer’s put together recipes. However if customers have questions about wine, mead (honey wine), or kombucha (fermented tea), I am out of my depth. I would like to dabble in other fermented beverages besides beer like I recently did with cider. Even if these are one-off batches I at least want to try once. The shop also sells cheese making kits. I purchased a kit for Jennie for Christmas a couple of years ago, but we never purchased the milk to make the cheese. I definitely want to do that with her soon.
  • Enter more competitions: Another thing I wanted to do last year, but got away from. In the middle of the year I brewed six batches just for special events which didn’t leave leftover beer to ship out. I am starting to ramp my brewing up again and should have enough beer to enter into competitions. I have already entered Curly’s Pumpkin Milk Stout in a competition in Maine.
  • Collaborate more: Regular readers know my cousin Andy and I try to brew every few months during the warm weather. We wanted to get one last batch of his house RyePA before the winter but haven’t quite pulled it off yet. I brewed the Utopias Barleywine with my friend Pat from the North Shore Brewers. In 2017 I would like my brewing to be less me alone in my kitchen, and more learning and collaborating with others.

I have a feeling 2017 is going to be a big year for me personally and professionally. As always, watch this space!

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I am a certified G and a bona fide judge…

…and you can’t… teach… that!!

Well I did it. After retaking the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Beer Judging Examination for a second time I just barely scored high enough to move up in rank from Recognized to Certified. To move up in rank I needed a score of 70 and I earned exactly a 70.

I am happy that I set out to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. Especially since I did not spend as much time studying as I originally intended to and probably should have. Still, I felt much better after this exam than I did my first exam in 2014. When I think of it that way I was a little disappointed in my score.

The two areas where I ran into trouble were that I noted characteristics in the beers that did not match what the exam proctors found. Perhaps I was over-thinking things and looking for off-flavors in the beer that weren’t there.

The other area that wasn’t strong enough was my descriptive ability. When I judge in competitions I find myself using a lot of the same adjectives to describe the beers I am evaluating. That is something I will look to improve at. Sometimes I think the fact I am a “meat and potatoes” guy when it comes to food hurts me here. One time I was attempting to score a hibiscus beer in a competition and I couldn’t have felt more in the dark. If I had more of a culinary background perhaps I would have better descriptors for beer.

Making the step from the rank of Recognized to Certified was fairly easy. In addition to improving my score on the Judging Exam, all I needed to do is accrue five experience points, half of those from judging.

The step up from Certified is the rank of National. National judges can proctor the Judging Exam. To move up I would need to improve my score on the Judging Exam to 80, and pass the Written Exam. The Written Exam consists of 20 true-false questions and five essay questions. I think I would need to go back on ADD medication for quite awhile to pass that.

There still are not many BJCP judges in the North Shore area. In 2017 I may put together a study group of aspiring judges who are interested in entering the program. If you live in or around Boston’s North Shore and would be interested in joining a BJCP study group email me. If I were to work with a study group, I could maybe see myself taking the Judging Exam again. Barring that, it is mission accomplished.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Belated Brew Day: Pa’s Lager (International Pale Lager)

As I was writing my post about Courageous Kevin’s Cream Ale and Pugnacious Pete’s Porter, I tried to link to my brew day post about my 2016 batch of Pa’s Lager.  To my astonishment, the post did not exist. I had completely whiffed on putting a post together. It’s not the first time I have brewed a beer and not written a brew day post, but I had really thought I had written it. My four and a half day holiday weekend can’t come soon enough.

This is the fourth year I’ve brewed Pa’s Lager. Originally called Pa’s Video Board Lager, we always kind of called it Pa’s Lager. It feels right to just name the beer what we call it.

After brewing essentially the same recipe in 2013 and 2014, I adjusted the recipe to better comply with the new International Pale Lager category. The beer may have been more stylistically accurate, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. For 2016 I wanted to make the beer more like the original.


I discussed the recipe with one of my occasional coworkers at the Modern Homebrew Emporium Nafi, who also works as a brewer at Cape Ann Brewing.  The original recipe used a fair amount of Carafoam Malt. Carafoam adds body and head retention to a beer without changing the flavor. Nafi said he doesn’t use malts like Carafoam, and instead will adjust the temperature of his mash if he wants to add body to one of his beers.


This made perfect sense to me. Also, the San Francisco Lager yeast has a very low attenuation further reducing the need for the Carafoam. When I designed the recipe I was still new to brewing and thought every beer needed a “Cara” malt of some kind.


The recipe used to use Perle hops for bittering and Liberty for aroma. I was able to get my hands on about half a pound of Liberty hops which I used in the recipe for bittering and aroma. That’s also why I used Liberty in my Kevin/Pete split batch. As I was brewing I realized I had turned the beer into a SMaSH beer.


The one change I made to make the beer more like the early batches was to go back to adding a small dry hop a week before packaging. The recipe was designed to be a beer that would honor our Heineken-drinking grandfather, and that we would enjoy. That was why we punched up the gravity and dry hopped it in the first place. I don’t know why last year I decided to be a style Nazi all of a sudden.

I brewed this one at home again like I did last year. As you may have seen I bottled this year’s batch. The idea is to better be able to share any leftover beer and not have to lug around kegs, CO2 tanks, and my jockey box.

See the full recipe here
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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Brew Night: Courageous Kevin’s Cream Ale

Image result for kevin turner patriots

The response I received for Pugnacious Pete’s Porter at Ales Over ALS was overwhelming. I was moved by how much it meant to the Frates family, but I was also taken aback by the response it received from the rest of the attendees. I knew right away that this beer couldn’t just be a one-off.

A couple months later as I start to think about the direction of my brewing and my career I conceived a brand built around “Fresh and flavorful beer brewed to be enjoyed by the pitcher with friends before, during, or after the game!”. Pugnacious Pete’s with its drinkability and flavor fits the bill perfectly.

The Brewer’s Association published their 2016 Craft Beer Year in Review which included a few insights of note. IPAs represent 25% of craft beer volume, no shock there. An IPA is next on the docket for me to brew and start refining. More interesting is that sessionable styles like Golden Ale, Pilsners, and Pale Lagers are up 33%. Those styles also fit my brand like a glove.

Pugnacious Pete’s without the porterine is basically a cream ale. I decided to do a single boil, single fermentation before blending half of the batch with porterine to make Pugnacious Pete’s, while the un-blended cream ale could also be a welcome addition to my burgeoning brand.

When I brewed the first batch, I did a single mash which I then split into two separate batches to boil separately, the other batch being Larrupin’ Lou’s XXX Ale. Most craft breweries have one brewhouse with one boil kettle. A split boil on a commercial scale seems impractical.


Brewing in my apartment the only practical way to make a six gallon batch like I brewed last time is to do a partial mash. As it was I filled my boil kettle to the brim and watched it like a hawk to make sure I didn’t have a boilover.

IMG_1029 IMG_1031

The malt extract is made from 2-row barley, as opposed to the all 6-row base malt I used in the first batch of Pugnacious Pete. When I assembled my ingredients I only had 1.25 pounds of 6-row and 0.25 pounds of Caramel 20 malt left over from the original batch. I used more 2-row and Munich malt to compensate. Critically, I had just enough flaked maize. From talking to brewers from Pretty Things and Notch who have brewed with corn, they have both used a blend of 2-row and 6-row as a way to take advantage of the diastatic power of the 6-row and the smoother, less grainy flavor of the 2-row. I also changed the late hops from Fuggles to Liberty based on what I had available.

I still used the same Wyeast 1272 American Ale II yeast. I thought about trying the same yeast I plan to use in my upcoming IPA, but I decided I didn’t want to change too many variables.

What I plan to do is bottle both beers so I can share them with as many people as I can and potentially enter them into competitions. I think being bottle conditioned where the bottles will be chilled before serving will help the beers clear before serving.

With my single boil both the cream ale and the porter will have the same level of bitterness. Compared to modern cream ales, Courageous Kevin’s will be heavier and more bitter like these beers were before Prohibition. The BJCP recommends entering historic cream ales in the Historic Beer category as opposed entering the beer as a Cream Ale. We’ll see how the beer comes out and how drinkers perceive the bitterness.

I planned to brew this batch on a Sunday during a week where the Patriots played on Monday night. After letting my Sunday get away from me I ended up brewing on a Tuesday night. I think this was my first brew night since Jay Thinks He’s Weizen. If I brew on a weeknight again I will make sure it is either an extract batch, or at least a batch that doesn’t require a 90 minute mash and boil. Luckily I didn’t need to be in the office until 12:30 p.m. the next day.

I did take advantage of that long mash to bottle up my 2016 batch of Pa’s Lager. I added a little more priming sugar to ensure higher carbonation to lighten the body. When I tasted samples all I could taste was priming sugar. Our new QA inspector was on hand to make sure the latest batch is up to snuff.

IMG_1033 IMG_1034

See the full recipe here

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Tasting Notes – Catching up on past beers Part II

This is a belated Part II where I post some thoughts and reflections on beers I brewed in 2016. Click here for Part 1.

Salted Caramel Brown Ale – The other batch we brewed for Jamboree. Adding the actual salted caramel was an afterthought, which given the name of the beer was something of a problem. In a pinch I added Hershey’s caramel syrup and sea salt to taste when I kegged the beer. The beer didn’t have enough time to naturally carbonate in time for jambo. In the end the beer was a decent enough brown ale, with a slight hint of salt and caramel. I promised Jennie I would go back to the drawing board before brewing another salted caramel beer. I still have most of the keg in the basement. I think I will break it out for the North Shore Brewers holiday party in January. Rating 3 out of 5.

NSB SMaSH Base Malt – I jotted down some quick thoughts on the other SMaSH beers brewed by other club members. All of the beers were fairly boring, because the beer was designed to be boring. The point of the exercise was to taste the flavor contributions of various base malts.

The ingredient variable aside, having brewed basically the same recipe as several other brewers, my batch more than held its own. After my Galaxy IPA from the club’s single hop project finished overly dry last year, having this year’s club project beer be as solid as it was validates my brewing process as much as anything. I packaged the beer in four half-gallon flip-top growlers. I opened one at the club picnic. I brought two to jamboree to be served along with the club’s other SMaSH beers. I ended up dumping most of those when I needed to fill the growlers with leftover Broken Fist. Alas, I still have one growler left. Rating 3.75 out of 5.

Commonwealth v Chalifour – This was a tripel recipe I developed, that Andy and his brother AJ brewed. After rushing to have it ready for AJ’s 30th birthday party, we weren’t able to bottle the beer in time. Andy and I each kept four bottles, and gave the rest to AJ. I thought it was pretty good, if perhaps a little light for the style. Jennie said she got some sourness in the flavor. I didn’t really get it. I shared a bottle with the manager at the Modern Homebrew Emporium as part of my “liquid resume”. Plenty of esters from the Belgian yeast. Rating 3.5 out of 5.

Summer Somewhere 2016 – I had originally planned to bring this beer to Beans N Brews in June. However I let the beer sit in the secondary for too long before packaging, and it was not ready for the event. I ended up bringing bottles of Fort Dummer instead.  I ended up bringing a keg of Summer Somewhere to AJ’s birthday party in lieu of the not-quite-ready Commonwealth v Chalifour.

The London Ale 1318 yeast definitely threw more fruit flavor into the beer than the Irish Ale 1084 I used in the 2015 version. The Styrian Bobek hops gave the beer more of a pilsner-type flavor. The beer tasted far more European than the citrus bomb that the 2015 version hopped with Galaxy was.

I brought a one gallon polypin to a North Shore Brewers meeting. The beer had fallen off considerably by then, but was still drinkable.

At AJ’s party there was a half-barrel keg of Samuel Adams Summer Ale and a quarter-barrel keg of Harpoon IPA. That my 3 gallon keg kicked that night is a point of pride. This is a beer I will brew every year. I might play around with different ingredients, but the bones of the recipe will never change. Rating 4.25 out of 5.

Fort Dummer – It’s never good when you find two ounces of hops in the freezer and realize they were supposed to go into the beer you just bottled. The batch was still pretty good. The folks at Beans N Brews enjoyed it even though they were expecting an English summer ale. When I drank it I kept thinking about the missing hops and in my mind the beer should have been better. When brewing four IPAs at once for my United States of IPA project, I made sure to pre-measure and label every dry hop addition to avoid making the same mistake again. Rating 3.5 out of 5.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Making hard cider at home

I haven’t entered as many homebrew competitions this year as I would have liked. Instead of laziness as it was in the past, it has been down to the fact that most of my brewing in 2016 has been dedicated to specific projects like the United States of IPA, and the two batches I brewed for Ales over ALS. I simply haven’t had a lot of extra bottles to ship out or drop off.

In my entire time as a brewer the only medal I have ever won in a competition was actually for a cider. In 2013 my New England Cider finished third out of ten entries at the Boston Homebrew Competition. Since then I have brewed beers that have received higher scores than the 30.5 that the cider earned, but to date that is the only award I’ve won.

Cider is fun and easy to make. After making several batches during our first couple years of brewing, I am making my first batch in several years.

For our purposes here all cider is hard cider. Unfermented ‘cider’ like you drink on Thanksgiving will be referred to as apple juice. Before Prohibition all cider was hard by definition.
  • Start with your juice. The juice can’t have sulfates. Sulfates are sometimes added to juice as a preservative; they will kill your yeast. Fresh pressed cider from a local orchard works best, but I have also made cider with Target brand juice bought on clearance after Christmas.
  • Treat your juice with a camden tablet to kill any wild yeast and let sit for 24 hours.
  • Pitch the yeast of your choice. In the past I’ve used ale yeasts. Wine or champagne yeasts can also work and will make a drier cider. There are also cider yeasts available. When you pitch your yeast add yeast nutrient as apple juice is not as nutrient-rich as a barley wort.
  • Keep your fermenting cider in the primary fermenter for 2-3 weeks.
  • Rack to a secondary for up to 8 weeks for additional conditioning.
  • Bottle or keg as you would a beer. Add priming sugar or force carbonate if you want to make a sparkling cider. Ciders can be sparkling, still, or pellitant which is very lightly carbonated.
  • You can also add ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) at bottling to prevent the cider from becoming oxidized and darkening. Your cider can darken when exposed to oxygen just like the inside of an apple after you bite into it.
  • Some cider-makers like to back-sweeten their cider at this point with sugar or apple juice concentrate. Most commercial cider makers back-sweeten and force carbonate their ciders. If you are brewer with kegging equipment this is certainly an option. If you are bottling your cider and want to back-sweeten you will need to add another camden tablet and make a still cider, or use an artificial sweetener that the yeast won’t ferment. Otherwise you will have gushers and bottle bombs as the yeast ferments the additional sugars in the bottle.
That is the easiest way to make cider at home. You can add different sugars before primary fermentation to increase the alcohol level. You can also add any other flavors you would like to add during secondary fermentation. My ‘award winning’ cider added local wildflower honey and was aged on oak chips.

Cidermaking is more similar to winemaking than it is brewing. More experienced cidermakers know how to manipulate the levels of tanin and acidity in the cider. Many also select the variety of apples they want to use and press the apples themselves. This is all outside of my area of expertise. After several years of not making a cider, and having a better idea of what I don’t know about cider, I wanted to keep it very simple this time.

At Homebrew Con I grabbed a packet of Mangrove Jack’s Cider Yeast. I have been told that this yeast will make a dry cider, but still preserve apple flavor and aroma more than a champagne yeast. I bought my apple juice from the Modern Homebrew Emporium. The shop sources its juice from Box Mill Farm in Stow, MA. The juice smelled and tasted outstanding and should make an excellent cider.


I will probably rack the cider to a secondary this weekend. I think I will take some of the oak cubes I bought for Pyrite Pistol, soak them in some rum, and add those to the carboy. While making this cider I cracked open one of my original ciders from 2012 and found it was still quite tasty. I may have to enter it into another competition to see if I can win another award.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Brew Day: Dundalk Irish Heavy (British Strong Ale)

At Homebrew Con Northern Brewer, being the largest homebrew supplier in the country had a huge setup. They had a ton of swag they were giving away, were running daily raffles, and were giving away recipe kits. When we stopped by their booth on Friday they had three of their Big Mouth Bubbler fermenters set up in a row, and were giving away kits to anyone who could throw three consecutive rubber bungs in into the fermenters.

When it was my turn I sank my first bung, and barely missed with my next two tosses. Somewhat disappointed, I took a look at the huge stack of kits to see exactly what I had missed out on. I saw it was their Dundalk Irish Heavy, I told one of the reps working the booth, “Ahh the Dundalk, I really wanted to try that one”. That was true by the way. I had seen the kit on their website and thought the recipe was interesting. Without saying a word the rep smiled and handed me the box.

This occurred in the middle of the afternoon. Not wanting to leave the convention center I carried around that box all day. I managed to just fit it inside one of those drawstring backpacks I had gotten from the BeerSmith booth. After awhile the the box became increasingly awkward and heavy. A small price to pay for five gallons of free beer.

“Irish Heavy” isn’t a style. I rigorously researched for several minutes to see if it was perhaps a rare of obscure style that wasn’t included in the latest BJCP Guidelines. Looking at the recipe closely it sounded a lot like an English Winter Warmer which falls into the British Strong Ale category. In contrast to American beers with the “winter warmer” moniker like Harpoon’s version, English winter beers are not spiced. Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome is one of my favorites, and locally Shipyard Prelude and Geary’s HSA are solid examples of the style.

While the grist is essentially a scaled up Irish Red, the instructions call for English Yeast. Specifically it calls for White Labs WLP002 or Wyeast 1968, both of which are rumored to be the Fullers strain. I would have used the suggested yeast, but I was able to get some expired Wyeast 1187 Ringwood Ale yeast for free. Expired yeast is perfectly good, it just requires building a bigger yeast starter. Other than the malt extract I used to make my starter wort, this entire batch didn’t cost me a dime.

Like WLP002, Ringwood Ale is “highly flocculent and rapidly fermenting”. I also harvested some extra yeast from my starter for future use. I think I might try another batch of Alan’s Stepchild. I might also try it in my next batch of Pugnacious Pete’s.

IMG_0912 IMG_0914



I took advantage of the easy extract brew day to catch up on a few other beer related tasks. I made and bottled another three gallons of starter wort. I used some of the starter wort to make a yeast starter for the 2016 version of Pa’s Lager.

I also finally racked Dawson’s Kreik onto the cherry puree. I was waiting to buy a new siphon and tubing so I would have separate equipment for sour beer and for clean beer. I used my six gallon glass carboy that had been holding Dawson’s Kreik to ferment the Dundalk. I soaked it with a PBW solution, brushed it, examined it, brushed the tiny spots I missed the first time, rinsed it, and sanitized it three times to be as sure as I possibly could be that none of the bugs from Dawson’s Kreik made it into the Dundalk.



After pitching my starter fermentation took off quickly, before lagging after a couple of days. I looked at the temperature on my fermenter and it was down to 64F.  After swirling the carboy to bring some of the yeast back into suspension, and moving the carboy to a warmer location in my apartment the airlock started to bubble steadily again.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Beer Inspiration in our Backyard – Cape Cod

The last couple of posts have touched on the fact that I am starting to seriously think about starting some kind of professional brewery. While I may have been slacking on brewing and writing, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy lately.

The biggest thing that has happened is that I started working Saturdays at the Modern Homebrew Emporium in Cambridge. My main job is to help customers and share my ‘expertise’ in brewing. Most of the customers on Saturday came in with their recipe knowing exactly what they were looking for, but I was able to help one customer buy their first starter kit and recipe kit. I look forward to making some extra money, meeting more people in the beer community, and having fun talking about  beer.

I had a prior commitment to pour for Newburyport Brewing Company on Cape Cod the first Saturday the shop wanted me to work. I worked for a couple hours at the shop in Cambridge, before driving to Centerville, MA. As I crawled down Mass. Ave I kept watching my estimated time of arrival become later and later.

The last time I visited the Cape was for a wedding. I was excited to have a chance to try beers on the Cape that don’t make their way up on the North Shore. While I was pouring at Cape Cod Package, I was able to sample beers from Cape Cod Beer and Naukabout Beer Co. I found both of their beer very easy to drink. Cape Cod is a vacation spot. When you’re on a boat or at the beach you don’t need a beer that hits you over the head. Next time I’m on the cape hopefully it will be a purely pleasure trip, and I can make time to stop by Cape Cod Beer and Naukabout Beer’s new tasting room in Mashapee that’s opening in the spring of 2017.

IMG_0841 IMG_0843

The nearest brewery was Devil’s Purse Brewing Co. in Dennis. I arrived about a half an hour before closing and grabbed a couple of sample pours. As I took a photo of the brewhouse from the tasting area, co-owner Mike Segerson invited me back and showed me around. We talked about beer, did a side-by-side with a couple of Newburyport and Devil’s Purse beers, and he shared some of his rarer beers including an oyster stout and a raw Nordic-style saison brewed with Juniper branches and fermented with every yeast at the brewery in a barrel. Knowing I had a long ride home, Mike even gave me a couple of cans of Mountain Dew for the ride home. My only regret was not grabbing a crowler of their IPA.

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There was still one stop I wanted to make before heading home, the outermost brewery on Cape Cod: Hog Island Beer Co. in Orleans. In addition to my need to drive home responsibly, I was also absolutely starving having not eaten since breakfast. The brewery shares a building with the Jailhouse Tavern. It was pitch black when I arrived and I unwittingly walked into the tavern and sat at the bar. Seeing some Hog Island beer on tap and desperate to eat, I ordered the Hog Island Stout.

After my meal I asked the bartender where the brewery was. The brewery is actually in the back of the building, but is easily accessible via a path from the back of the restaurant. As I walked into the brewery there was live music, a pool table, and overall a more casual atmosphere. I enjoyed a sample flight and took a crowler of the Moon Snail Pale Ale to take home.

Brewing on Cape Cod is not easy. Many of the residents and business are seasonal in nature. There are no sewer lines on the cape which makes disposing of waste water more expensive than it is in other places. Luckily for vacationers and year-round residents there is plenty of quality beer brewed on the cape.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

What should our flagship IPA be?

After years of "someday when" talk that was speculative at best, I am seriously considering starting some kind of professional brewing company.  I have re-branded what was a baseball themed home brewery, Bleacher Brewing as Bleacher Sports Brewing. Our brand is:

Fresh and flavorful beer brewed to be enjoyed by the pitcher with friends before, during, or after the game!
While our beers are going to balance drinkability and flavor, our brand wants to capture the fun and camaraderie of sharing beer by the pitcher.  During this past softball season, as we were passing around pitchers of PBR after the game, I realized that this was something craft beer was lacking. If our brand can capture that it will differentiate us in the marketplace.

What from that would take on Day 1 is still very much up in the air. Whatever form it is we will more than likely have to launch with a flagship IPA. I have experimented with a variety of different IPAs and could go in any number of directions. 

I am running a poll on what style of IPA Bleacher Sports Brewing should launch with. The idea is have fun and engage people.

This is still very early days. So far all I have done is come up with the new name and branding, had a new logo made, and registered the URL. That is the easy part. The hard work will be to come up with budgets to figure out how much this thing will cost, and how much beer we would have to sell. I will take a look at several models and determine which one makes the most sense to start. Then I have to actually raise the money we would need to start.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Figuring out my next step

Lately I have been thinking a great deal about what the next step in my career should be. After working for large corporations for half of my life, I have reached a point where I want to control my own destiny and show people what I am capable of doing. At the same time I have thought a great deal about what the next step in my brewing, and my and Jennie’s home brewery.

In my head I can think of a ton of reasons why becoming a professional brewer is a bad idea: the marketplace is overly crowded, our beer isn’t good enough, there is a mountain of red tape to cut through, we don’t have the capital to become professional brewers.

When I was in college I majored in Sport Management. I recall I had to write a paper about a possible career path in the sports industry. Unsure of what direction to go, I threw a paper together outlining a career as a Major League Baseball general manager. There are only 30 MLB GM jobs. Getting one’s foot in the door to work in baseball operations is difficult enough. I cited articles and online chats that I had read for pleasure. I turned in my paper fully expecting my professor to take a stinging dump on the pie-in-the sky career path I described. I was shocked when I actually received a high grade on the paper.

I think about that paper now for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I think I am smart enough to know what I need to do to get where I want to go. Secondly, just because something is difficult that doesn’t mean it is something I am incapable of doing. In life it is easy to tell others how hard things are and garner instant sympothy.

Yes, I have a passion for beer and brewing. If I were to become a professional brewer, that passion would not be the only reason why I would do it. If I were to control the destiny of my career at this point in my life, beer is what I know best. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

I never ended up working a full-time job in the sports industry. I tried for awhile and then I stopped trying. Over ten years after graduation I still don’t have a great answer as to why. When asked I usually make up some BS answer on the spot and change the subject. Whether I make the leap and become a commercial brewer or not, I want to make sure I have no regrets.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Brew Day: Utopias Barrel SMaSH Barleywine

Shortly before I rejoined the North Shore Brewers, the club obtained two used Samuel Adams Utopias barrels. Utopias is one of the rarest and most sought-after beers in the world. I was lucky enough to have a very small sample at the brewery. I made sure to savor every mini-sip. It is a big deal for the club to have gotten its hands on the barrels.

Around the time I joined, the club filled both barrels with an imperial stout; a clone of Portsmouth Brewery’s Kate the Great. Several members of the club brewed the beer, let it ferment out, filled the barrels, then after the beer had aged for several months got the same volume of the now blended beer back. On top of that the club got five gallons to pour at Jamboree. The keg at Jamboree kicked fairly quickly once word spread the club had a Kate clone. I made sure to try some early on, and it was outstanding.

After emptying both barrels the club decided to fill one of the barrels with an English Barleywine. Like the SMaSH Base Malt beers we brewed earlier this year, the SMaSH Barleywine used a single malt, Maris Otter, and single hop East Kent Goldings. A big beer like this uses a lot of grain, 20 pounds to be exact. There was no way I would be able to brew that at home. The brew day would also be very long. I wouldn’t want to impose a long brew day like that on Andy. As it is we will do well to squeeze in one last brew day before winter.  In my mind I was going to sit this one out and maybe brew something when it is time to fill the second barrel the second time.

At the last meeting I was encouraged to brew a batch of the barleywine because there was room in the barrel for another three batches before it would be full. I texted my friend Pat who is also in the club and we arranged a brew day at his house.

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My 10 gallon igloo cooler mash tun was plenty large to accommodate all of the grain and mash water. Pat asked about maybe brewing a 10 gallon batch, but we would not have been able to do it with the equipment we have. Our target mash temperature was right on the money at the end of the mash rest.

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The recipe called for boiling down one gallon of the first runninigs, that is the first liquid to run out of the mash tun after the mash and is the highest in sugars, all the way to one quart. The idea is the concentrated first runnings would add some additional malt complexity to a single-malt beer. The boil was 90 minutes. The longer boil enabled us to collect more fermentable sugars before boiling it down to our five gallon batch.

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We started around 10:00 a.m. and finished around 4:00 p.m. While long the brew day was fairly smooth. In about three weeks we will drop off the beer to be racked into the Utopias barrell. From there it will probably be at least six to nine months before we can collect our share. The plan at that point is to add some fresh yeast before bottle conditioning and splitting the bottles.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ales Over ALS Homebrew Competition – Essex 2016


Click here for Wicked Local’s coverage and event photo gallery. 

This was our second year brewing beer for and pouring beer at the Ales Over ALS Homebrew Competition in Essex. There are two awards given: The Judge’s Choice determined by a judging panel of professional brewers, and The People’s Choice determined by the event attendees.  The event raises funds for Compassionate Care ALS.

When we were setting up the weather was not ideal. I drove up to the Essex Shipbuilding Museum where the event was held, unloaded, and then had to park behind a tennis court probably three blocks away. As I parked the car what was a steady rain became a driving rain. After I walked back to the museum I realized two things: Jennie had an umbrella in the back seat, and I left two keg disconnects in the car. I had to walk all the way back to the car in the rain, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to serve beer. I was now completely soaked. The only silver lining was that on the way back I was able to move to a closer parking spot.

I brought two beers I designed and brewed just for this event:  Larrupin Lou’s XXX Ale and Pugnacious Pete’s Porter, and entered the porter in the competition. I made two signs for each beer with brief tasting notes, as well as pictures of Lou Gehrig and Pete Frates so people would know the meaning behind the names. Not only had I never brewed these before, I didn’t taste them until I set up at the event. Both batches were so small, I didn’t want to draw any samples out when we were kegging the beers.

Larrupin’ Lou’s XXX Ale was a beautiful showcase for the HBC-438 hop. The nose on the beer was as strong and inviting as anything I’ve brewed to date. The hop flavor oozed mango. The hops dominated, but there was just enough body and malt flavor to balance. If the beer was more lightly hopped, the grainy 6-row malt flavor would have been more obvious. As it was, the beer tasted like a modern American Pale Ale. If I had entered Larrupin’ Lou I think it would have done very well.


Since I could only enter one beer in the competition, I chose Pugnacious Pete’s because I thought that adhered to a particular style more closely than Larrupin’ Lou’s and would play better with the judges. I reviewed the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) description of Pre-Prohibition Porter as I tasted the beer. The beer ticked most of if not all of the boxes. There was a really nice grainy malt aroma, and as the beer warmed there was a very low roasted malt aroma. The beer was medium to dark brown, with a mousy white head that persisted nicely for a light-bodied beer brewed with adjuncts. The clarity was disappointing and is something I need to improve upon with my kegged beers. The flavor and mouthfeel were right on the money. There was a grainy base malt flavor, and more roasted flavor than the aroma suggested. Hop bitterness and flavor were sufficient to provide balance.

As the judges worked their way around the museum and made it to where I was set up, I made it a point to reiterate that Pugnacious Pete’s was a Pre-Prohibition Porter, not an English or modern American porter. At the time I felt confident that two of the judges understood that distinction. The third judge asked me what made the beer “Pre-Prohibition”, asked what grains I used, and quizzed me a bit on the style.

It was also an important distinction to a lot of the attendees at the event. The event attracts people who want to support the cause more than it attracts craft beer geeks. I encouraged people who didn’t think they liked dark beer to try it. Unlike many stouts and porters, the beer wasn’t heavy or full-bodied. It also didn’t have an assertive roasted character that might be outputting to a wine or light beer drinker. The response from the attendees was almost universally positive.

One of the first attendees to take notice of Pugnacious Pete’s was Pete Frates’ uncle Art Cronin. I met him last year, reintroduced myself, and showed him the beer. I couldn’t believe how genuinely touched he was that I named the beer after his nephew. He had arrived from an ALS walk in Boston and informed me that other members of the Frates family were also on their way.

The picture I used for the Pugnacious Pete’s sign was Pete’s Twitter profile picure; a photo of him and his daughter Lucy. Shortly after speaking with Pete’s uncle, Pete’s wife Julie arrived with Lucy in tow and wanted to try Pete’s beer. Right away Julie pointed to the picture and pointed out to Lucy that it was her and daddy in the picture.

Pete’s dad John Frates walked up shortly there after wanting to try his son’s beer. His lit up when he saw I was wearing one of their “Strikeout ALS” shirts, and saw the sign for Pugnacious Pete’s Porter with the photo of his son and granddaughter. We spoke for a few minutes about our families’ roots in the city of Beverly, about the event, the beer, and Lou Gehrig. John came back a couple of times to have his glass refilled. Pete’s brother and care-giver Andrew asked for a couple of cups, one for himself, and one he poured into Pete’s feeding bag.


There had been murmurs that Pete himself would be appearing. Several other members of the family stopped by, introduced themselves, and tried the beer. An attendee told me Pete had arrived at the event. Pete slowly worked his way to the back corner where I was set up. The computer he uses to communicate was retracted; I imagine it is impossible for him to communicate in a crowd with several people at once. When Pete made it back to my table, I raised my cup to him and told him this was his beer. We made eye contact and it looked like the corner of his mouth started to smile. I took a picture with Pete, Pete’s beer, Julie, Lucy, and the sign for the beer.

Jason Chalifour

The support of the Frates family certainly helped my vote total for the People’s Choice award. As happy as I was with both beers I brought, the other entrants’ beers I had a chance to try excellent. I didn’t get to try all of the beers entered, but I did take some quick notes for the ones I did:

Jason and Max Garzado brought an excellent Vienna Lager. It had a really nice toasty Vienna Malt flavor, with just the right amount of Munich Malt sweetness.

Bill Torrey brought a Smoked Red Rye Ale. I found the beer to be very drinkable. The smoke, rye, and red malts were light, but present.

Jake Rogers, co-owner of the future True North Ale Company along with his father Gary, brought a Mexican Lager that if it had come in a clear, stubby bottle, I would have been convinced was Modelo Especial. Gary brewed a Grapefruit IPA. Gary’s beer wasn’t quite as dry and hoppy as some of the more prominent commercial examples, but the citrus worked well with the malt flavor.

Julian Miller brewed a New England IPA that came as close to anything I’ve drank to matching the mouthfeel of Tree House. I picked his brain on the water chemistry he employed to make his beer beer that soft.

When it was time to announce the winners, I was told I had a really good chance to win People’s Choice. Everyone still in attendance gathered around outside to hear the winners announced. Julian’s New England IPA ended up winning both the People’s and Judge’s Choice. I was announced as the runner up for People’s Choice and a virtual tie for second in the Judge’s Choice. When I saw the actual tallies I had lost the People’s Choice by one vote.

As touched as I was by the support I received from the Frates family, how happy I was with the beer, how I thought it was a very good to great representation of its style, and the wonders winning would have done for my ego, on its own merits Julian’s beer was probably better. The three judges gave his New England IPA an aggregate score of 119, three or four of us were clustered together with scores around 113-110. The aggregate score of 110 that I received works out to an average of 36.66, which according to the BJCP is “Very Good”. That is as high as any beer I’ve entered into a competition.

What will stay with me more than anything was how much that beer meant to those people who have been affected by ALS as much as anybody. Even if I brewed and named the beer knowing Pete Frates and his family would show up, I couldn’t have imagined that it would mean what it did. It is easy to give money, make the world’s worst Ice Bucket Challenge video, or go to a charity event, it’s not always easy to think about how things like ALS affect real people.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Brew Day: Curly’s Pumpkin Milk Stout

I gave up on being trendy a long time ago. When I was 14 I realized I would never be cool, and socially only aspired to be left alone most of the time. At 34, I find being purposely uncool kind of amusing. Case in point, I refused to use emojis until very recently. Now that everybody uses them, I try to use them as obnoxiously as possible. When Jennie asks if I want Chipotle for dinner, I might respond with several thumbs up emojis, several burrito emojis, and several eggplant emojis. To wit, when I suggested a Pumpkin Milk Stout, Jennie’s response was “pumpkin spice is so 2014″. At that point she may as well have put the squirt gun emoji to my head. I had to brew this!

To Jennie’s point, the sales of pumpkin beer are down substantially. The market finally reached a point of saturation last year.


My last batch of Curly’s Milk Stout was a dud. There was something off about the flavor. I entered it into a competition where it scored quite poorly. The judges remarked that the beer was phenolic. My guess is that the batch was infected. I still haven’t tasted the coffee or chocolate variants from that batch.

After taking 2015 off from pumpkin beer and the hassle involved with brewing with fresh pumpkin it is time to brew one again fall. There are commercially available pumpkin milk stouts out there, but it is not nearly as ubiquitous as the lightly hopped amber pumplin ales that are everywhere.

The first thing I did was revisit the recipe for Curly’s Milk Stout that would be the base beer. Each batch has been slightly different than the last as I sought to perfect the beer. Recently I drank the last bottle from the original one-gallon batch as part of a vertical of all of the batches of Curly that I have brewed. At the end Jennie and I both agreed that the first batch was the best batch.

With beer and with life it is easy to be carried away with trying to improve things. After too many small improvements, it is easy to lose your way. Sometimes when something is lacking or deficient, it is better to just start over with a clean slate which is exactly what I did.


Curly’s Milk Stout was always an amalgam of English and American ingredients. The first thing I decided was I wanted all of the ingredients to be American. I replaced the English Fuggle with American Willamette hops. I simplified what had become an overly complicated grist: clean American 2-row barley as the base, Caramel 40 for body and a medium caramel flavor to compliment the sweetness from the lactose, Chocolate Malt for a light roasted character, and a small addition de-husked Blackprinz malt for color without adding an excessive roasted flavor.

For my yeast I didn’t want anything too floral or malty like WLP029 Burton Ale and 1318 London Ale III that I have used in earlier batches. I also wanted something with a little more character than Chico, so I went with one of my favorite yeasts 1272 American Ale II. The 1272 strain also doesn’t finish quite as dry as Chico which I think will work well here.


I purchased two sugar pumpkins at a local farm. Jennie helped carve the pumpkins and discard the innards. We roasted the pumpkin wedges and added them directly to the mash. Pumpkin can be treated like any other un-malted adjunct in that any extra enzymes in the grain will help convert the starches in the pumpkin into fermentable sugars. With my small partial mash and high percentage of pumpkin in the grist, some higher enzyme 6-row malt might have been a better choice.

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It is so easy to go overboard adding too many different spices and/or adding too much spice. In our experience cinnamon sticks and pre-packaged “spice blends” available at homebrew shops can be too much and throw off the balance.  I reviewed the recipe from the last pumpkin beer we made, Pennant Race Pumpkin Wheat as I felt we had really dialed in the spice additions. I used the same ratio of the different spices relative to each other, but I did increase the amount of spices slightly because this beer is both a darker and hoppier beer than the pumpkin wheat.


When I sealed the fermenter the beer smelled amazing! My yeast starter wasn’t ready to pitch until the morning after brew day which also gave the wort some extra time to get down to pitching temperature. When I peeled back the lid to add the yeast the wort smelled so rich and malty. After two weeks I will rack the beer, taste a sample and decide if I want to add a vanilla bean.

Shipyard plans to keep Pumpkinhead on shelves well into winter, describing it as a “perfect Christmas beer”. The spices one might use in a pumpkin beer, and the spices a brewer might use in a spiced winter ale are actually quite similar. Is nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and clove out of place in a winter beer?

I planned to brew this beer at least two weeks earlier before I injured my left rotator cuff.  As a result this beer won’t quite be ready for Halloween, but we will have plenty for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. On brew day, in addition to carving the pumpkin, I needed Jennie’s help milling the grain and lifting the grain bag out of my 8-gallon kettle. This is the first five gallon batch that we’ve brewed just for us, as opposed for some type of event, in a long time.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Re-Taking the BJCP Beer Judging Examination

I first took the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Beer Judging Examination almost two years ago. At that point I had judged in three competitions as a Novice judge. I crammed for all of 17 days from the time I took the initial online exam until I took the tasting exam, and managed to pass with a 65. The whole experience was like high school all over again.

My score along with my level of experience at that time earned me the rank of Recognized. Since then others who are not familiar with the BJCP’s ranks have referred to me as a “Certified” judge. I am certified in the sense that I have a certificate, but the rank of Recognized is actually below the rank of Certified.

To move up in rank I need to obtain 5.0 experience points from judging in BJCP competitions, and earn a score of 70 on the tasting exam. In the past two years I had judged locally in Boston, Lowell, and Rhode Island, as well as at the National Homebrew Competition. With the required experience points in the bag, to move up in rank I need to retake the tasting exam and improve my score.

Late April I was scanning the BJCP website curious to see if there were any local exams on the calendar. Sure enough there was an exam on the agenda for the fall. I emailed the organizer Jennifer Pereira, who also organized the Ocean State Homebrew Competition, and reserved my spot. Like the Ocean State competition, the exam was at the Isle Brewers Guild, future home of the Narragansett Brewery and Newburyport Brewing Company‘s sister brewery.


After I took the tasting exam in 2014 I learned that most other judges spend a lot more time studying for the exam than I did. In my mind I was going to use the period of time to really buckle down and study. In reality I almost forgot that I registered. Sometime last month I checked my calendar to remember exactly when the exam was and started to study in between work, watching baseball, social media, and playing games on my phone.

My weakness when I took the exam in 2014 was the depth of my knowledge of the various styles. I remember not being sure if diacetyl is appropriate in a Dry Irish Stout (it isn’t). I did review the style guidelines several times, if not quite enough to have all of the styles completely memorized. I have also been working on finishing How to Brew per the recommended study I received with my 2014 exam score. Brad Smith’s seminar on off-flavors at Homebrew Con was also a great review of the various off-flavors that can be found in beer and the causes of them.

Most importantly I have judged a lot more since first taking the exam. Judging different styles is a great way to learn about them. The guidelines are right there to reference before tasting each beer. Tasting numerous examples of a style gives the judge an opportunity to taste different interpretations and to really appreciate the breadth of of a style. I have also been able to work with and learn from a lot of experienced and higher ranking judges.

I hope that experience makes the difference. From pulling up with the other judges after the exam was done, and learning from Jennifer what the beers we tasted were, I think I did okay. All I have to do is improve by five points which shouldn’t be that hard.

If I obtain the rank of Certified, I think that will be it for me. The next highest rank is National which requires 20 experience points, a score of 80 on the BJCP Beer Judging Examination, and pass the Beer Judge Written Proficiency Examination which includes five essay questions. Yeah, I can’t even….

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Is Big Beer trying to take over homebrew?

Northern Brewer, perhaps the largest homebrew supply shop and website in America has been acquired by ZX Ventures, a global incubator and venture capital arm of AB InBev (AB). Rumors have been circulating for a week or so, and now they have been confirmed.

The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) estimates there are 1.2 million homebrewers in the US. The 1.2 million run the gamut in dedication from brewers like me who brew once or twice a month, those more advanced than me who spend thousands on equipment, to those who might brew a can extract kit once a year.

Homebrewing and craft beer certainly have a chicken and egg relationship. Jim Koch famously brewed his first batch of Boston Lager in his kitchen and many other craft brewers started the same way. And as craft beer has exploded, it has inspired more people to start homebrewing.

While homebrewing has grown exponentially since it was legalized in 1978, over the past few years it’s popularity has shown some signs of softening. The AHA’s membership has declined slightly from previous all-time highs. The AHA reports softening in sales at retail shops. This could be due to more brewers brewing all-grain which is less expensive than brewing with malt extract. Brewers could also be brewing less often. The hobby reached it’s apex of popularity after the last recession. As the economy has recovered and people have gone back to work, people are brewing less.

Which is to say that it is curious that AB would want to buy into a niche market like homebrewing. If Northern Brewer could use AB’s purchasing power and scale to buy ingredients, not only would that help Northern Brewer’s profit margin, but Northern Brewer could undercut their competitors’ prices for ingredients.

Surely Northern Brewer’s marriage with big beer will cause many homebrewers to buy their supplies elsewhere, just as there are beer drinkers who refuse to drink brands like Goose Island or Lagunitas that are bought out by a macro brewer. A lot of brewers also prefer supporting their local shop as opposed to buying ingredients online. A move like this would only stiffen their resolve.

I probably buy about half of my ingredients at local shops and the other half online. Where I buy my ingredients depends on what supplier has what I need, if there is a sale going on, or my schedule. There are times I need ingredients the same day, while there are also times when I don’t have time to drive to a local shop. Sometimes one shop or one website has one thing I need. From there I will buy ingredients for my next several bathes to qualify for free shipping, or if I drive to a shop I feel like it is a more efficient use of my time and gas if I guy a lot of stuff. Rationalization is a powerful thing.

I’ve only ordered from Northern Brewer once in 2016, but it was my go-to online supplier for a long time. I’ve brewed three Northern Brewer kits for the blog, Australian Sparkling Ale, Plinian Legacy, and Dawson’s Kriek.  When I brewed a lot of extract and partial mash batches, I really liked Northern Brewer’s selection of malt extract. In my experience their customer service has been outstanding. One time I placed a particularly large order and one bag of hops was missing. Not only did they send the missing hops via 2-day shipping, the sent a note and a Northern Brewer glass.

As a brewer and a customer I’ll probably take a wait and see approach to see if I will still shop there. If Northern Brewer’s quality and quality of service under AB is on par with the taste of a Lime-A-Rita, I won’t shop there. I am more ambivalent than most on the influence of big beer in the marketplace than most.

This move is more concerning for me than AB’s brewery acquisitions because the homebrew marketplace may be easier to monopolize than the beer marketplace. It is easier to make a more flavorful beer than Bud Light and compete on quality. How can the other homebrew retailers compete when they are selling the same malt and hops as a conglomerate? The key for any business is finding a niche. That may be more important than ever for Northern Brewer’s competitors.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tasting Notes – Catching up on past beers Part I

When I started the blog I would write a brew day post that would be published shortly after brewing the batch. Afterward I would publish a tasting notes post where I would publish some detailed thoughts on the beer.

My favorite part of being a brewer is designing recipes and brewing the beer. Often after I brew the beer, and sometimes even before I actually get to brewing a batch, I have already lost some enthusiasm for the beer and I have already shifted my attention to my next batch.

This loss of enthusiasm, along with the fact that when I do drink the beer I like to just enjoy it without over-analyzing it, has made me lag far behind in publishing tasting notes. Below I will catch up on the beers I have brewed in 2016 that haven’t received a full tasting notes column.

These impressions are based on recollections that are weeks and months old. In some cases I was able to view Untappd comments to jog my memory.


Wisconsin Belgian Red Clone – I am almost positive I still have about 12 bottles of this beer in my apartment somewhere that I can’t find them for the life of me. When it came time to buy the cherry juice I bought black cherry instead of tart cherry juice. This gave my beer a sweeter cherry flavor than the original. The keg didn’t quite kick at the cookout I brought it to, so I brought the rest to my gym for our Memorial Day Murph workout.

It isn’t a fruit-bomb like New Glarus’ beer, but the fruit flavor was prominent.  When I served it on draught the beer tasted like it could have used another week or so to naturally condition in the keg.  I really hope I can find those bottles as they should be carbonated nicely by now. As it is the beer was good, not great. Rating 3.5 out of 5.


Westbrook Gose Clone – I had a full tasting notes post written and ready to go for this beer. Once I hit “Submit”, it all went blank. I had an earlier draft saved, but I was too filled with rage to finish it again, add all of the photos again, and inbed all of the links again. I was literally screaming at my computer. I wasn’t this angry when David Tyree caught that pass against his helmet.

I brought several bottles to a summer cookout. Luckily for me someone there had cans of Westbrook Key Lime Pie Gose which enabled me to do something of a side-by-side. For a home-brewed batch that I nearly ruined, my beer was pretty close. The Westbrook can had a brighter sourness. I am not sure if this is down to that beer being naturally soured, while my beer was soured with lactic acid. My other thought is that my beer was more oxidized than the canned commercial beer.

This is definitely on my mental list of beers to brew again. In addition to the Key Lime Pie Gose, Westbrook also released a Mojito Gose aged in rum barrels, which was then infused with lime and mint. I would love to make a split batch of a regular gose, and some type of flavored variant. Rating 4 out of 5.

Camp Randall Red IPA (Barrel House Z Launch Pad Competition) – Although this was not an official BJCP competition, the guys at Barrel House Z did fill out score sheets to give their thoughts on the beer. I rushed to brew this batch for the competition which was unfortunately reflected in the feedback I received.

The beer was phenolic and over-carbonated. The batch was more than likely infected. It was also yeasty with all kinds of floating particles. Using a highly floccuating yeast like SO4, that should not happen.

Needless to say this was a major disappointment. If my brewing process was better with this batch, this beer would have been exactly what they were looking for. Instead this was a poor representation of my brewing. I wish I could have entered the original batch I brewed in 2015. Rating 2.5 out of 5.

Later this week I’ll publish Part II with thoughts on some more of my beers from 2016.

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