Stone: Pale Ale 2.0

From The Brewery: Stone Pale Ale 2.0

“This decidedly American West Coast pale ale represents the next chapter in our brewing story. Showcasing the full essence of vivid Mandarina Bavaria hops plucked from the storied fields of Germany, it presents bright flavors of peach and orange against a crisp, spicy, biscuity backdrop. We’re glad you’re with us on this journey!” 6.0% ABV American Pale Ale

The Pour: 

Pouring from a 12 oz bottle into my Tioga-Sequoia tulip pint glass. The body is slightly hazy, and copper-ish orange in color. A foamy off-white head is poured, which has very good retention and leaves plenty of lacing on the glass throughout. There isn’t much in the way of any visible carbonation.

The Nose:

Moderate Mandarina Bavaria aromas of orange zest and spicy/floral hop character blend with malt aromas of toasted grain and a hint of caramel/honey sweetness. The hop and malt aromas are properly balanced per the style.

The Mouth:

There is more substance to the body/mouthfeel than I expected – I expected it to be thin, and is just north of medium bodied. It finishes with a decent amount of carbonation and bitterness. The flavors follow the aromas: orange and earthy/floral hops, slightly sweet toasted grain maltiness. The hop flavors linger on the palate after finishing.

Final Thoughts:

I never got around to reviewing the original Stone Pale Ale before it was discontinued, so I don’t have that to compare it to. However, it’s simple to deduce that this went through a bit more of a revamp that Ruination 2.0, as the Mandarina Barvaria hops used in Pale Ale 2.0 are relatively new, being introduced in 2012.  Pale Ale 2.0 is a decent offering, a little more hop forward than the gold standard Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but does retain its overall balance. It isn’t an exciting beer by any means, but a perfectly good mixed 12-pack filler. 7/10

Stone Brewing Co. – Escondido, California




Posted in Beer Reviews, Light/Pale Ales | 1 Comment

Homebrewing: ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

I’ve been growing a quiet little fascination with traditional English beers as of late, and have tried making a handful of different English styles (Southern English Brown, Sweet Stout, Oatmeal Stout). I’ve never made an ESB before, and the homebrew club I’m in has a Special Bitter 11C competition coming up next year (as part of a 4-part cumulative quarterly competition featuring a different style each comp). That all adds up to designing a recipe and giving it a go!

The Recipe: 5.33 gallons into fermenter, 75 minute boil

  • 11 lbs Maris Otter (English Base Malt)
  • 1 lb Crystal 60L
  • .25 lb Special B (I know, not English, but think it will work well for the style)
  • .75 oz Nugget (15.8%) first wort hop
  • 1 Whirlfloc tab – boil 15 min
  • .5 teaspoon White Labs Yeast Nutrient – boil 15 min
  • 1 oz East Kent Golding – boil 5 min
  • 1 oz East Kent Golding – flameout
  • White Labs WLP002 English Ale Yeast – 1 liter starter from new PurePitch package
  • Original Gravity: 1.061
  • Estimated IBUs: 45.3
  • Color: 12.9 SRM
  • Estimated ABV: 5.4% (assuming a Final Gravity of 1.020 – I think I’ll get a little more out of my starter of WLP002 – updates to follow)
  • Efficiency: 71% – usually assume 65%, but got a little better than normal this batch

The Process:

I went to my local homebrew supply store a few days before brew day, wanting to make a yeast starter with WLP002. I made a 1 liter starter with 4 ounces of dry malt extract, boiled for 10 minutes on my gas range right in the Erlenmeyer flask, and chilled in an ice bath in the sink. When it reach about 72°, I pitched the pack of yeast and set it up on my Stir Starter stir plate.

I began my brew day like usual, collecting 10 gallons of reverse osmosis filled water from a local refill station. As I heat my strike water, I mill my grain and measure out my water treatments.

I mash in, aiming for 154°, but let my strike water get a touch too hot, and settle for 156° after about 10 minutes of whipping the crap out of the mash with my maple mash paddle. I use my BrewBag mash tun filter as I always do.

After a 60 minute mash, I add the .75 oz Nugget hops to the kettle and collect the first runnings. I then add my sparge water, doing a single batch sparge. I then drain until I reach my approximate pre-boil volume. I really need to get a kettle with some etched volume markings to make my brew days more consistent and accurate. I was originally aiming for about 7.5 gallons pre-boil, but got closer to 8 gallons, and adjusted my boil time from 60 minutes to 75 minutes to accommodate that.

After the boil and coinciding boil additions, I chill my wort using my Hydra wort chiller, transfer to my fermenter, add 60 seconds of pure oxygen, and pitch my entire 1 liter starter. I then set up my BrewJacket Immersion temperature control system and start to clean.

For whatever reason, after mashing in I completely forgot to keep taking pictures of my process, and my fermenter is currently wrapped up in its BrewJacket insulation, so I’ll add some more photos when I keg or when it’s on tap in my kegerator. Updates to follow!

Posted in Homebrewing | Leave a comment

Brown Ale Pulled Pork Quick Chili

With the weather finally turning cold here in California, an easy and hearty chili recipe using leftovers and homebrew! This is a cheater recipe that uses almost pre-made or canned ingredients, but it comes out quite good.


  • ~1 lb leftover pulled pork from a previous smoker session
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • ~1 clove of jarred minced garlic
  • 2 cans pinto beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Homebrewed Southern English Brown Ale
  • Butter/Olive oil


  • Dice whole large yellow onion, and saute on low heat with butter/olive oil, a pinch of salt, and minced garlic
  • After the onions are soft, add ~ 1 lb of leftover frozen (and defrosted) smoked pulled pork
  • Begin to add seasonings. As you can see from the pics, there is no exact amount. We just eyeballed the measurements, so start off a little light and add a little extra of whatever you think makes it taste good
  • After the seasonings are mixed in well, add ~20 oz for brown ale (we’ve used homebrew stouts and porters with great success as well), and ~20 oz of water
  • Add the canned beans and let it come to a simmer and let it ride as long as you can stand – for us it was about an hour
  • Garnish with whatever you please – we used cheese and sour cream, and would have used some green onion or chives if we had them on hand

Final Thoughts: IMG_4355

While this recipe is a tad better is done in a more traditional all-day crock pot manner, the quick version also comes out pretty damn good. We usually just use ground beef, but had some leftover pulled pork taking up some space in the freezer and put it to use. The sweet, bready maltiness from the brown ale mixes nicely with the heat notes from the chili powder and red pepper. Beer chili is definitely the way to go!


Posted in cooking, Entrées | Leave a comment

Stone: Coffee Milk Stout

From the Brewery:IMAG0619

“From imperial stouts to IPAs, we’ve discovered the tantalizingly roasty lift that comes from adding coffee beans to just about any kind of beer. This English-style milk stout, originally a limited-edition offering at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, proved the perfect foil for beans from San Diego-based Ryan Bros Coffee. The bitterness of the coffee is balanced out brilliantly by the milk sugar we used to add a touch of sweetness and creaminess to the stout’s smooth, easy-drinking texture. Cheers to the coalescence of two highly artisanal (and delectable) mediums.”

5.0% ABV Milk Stout

The Pour:

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my Libbey Stout glass. The body is solid black. A foamy, dark-brown head thins quickly to a light covering that leaves minimal lacing. Normally on smaller-ish stouts, some ruby-red highlights can be seen around the edges, but not so in this one.

The Nose:

At the forefront of the aroma is coffee, as expected. The coffee has two facets – both cold pressed aromatic smoothness, and a bit of a more harsh ashy, smokey, spent coffee ground nature. There are undertones of milk chocolate and toasted grain.

The Mouth:

Medium-thin bodied, goes down with a fair amount of roasted coffee bitterness. The flavors of coffee, milk chocolate and toasted grain are accompanied by a creamy sweetness the lactose adds to the mouthfeel. The finish is artfully balanced between the roasty coffee and creamy sweetness. It is a very drinkable stout.

Final Thoughts:

I first had Stone’s Coffee Milk Stout during last year’s initial bottle release, during what you could call my beer reviewing sabbatical. I liked it plenty when it came out, but this year’s version I’m pretty close to loving. Bumping up the ABV from 4.2% to 5% has given it some more body and balance, while retaining its sessionable mouthfeel and great combination of flavors. I love coffee, and I love cream stouts, so this beer is a no-brainer win for me. I only wish this were a year-round offering. Well done again, Stone Brewing! 9/10

Stone Brewing Co. – Escondido, California

Posted in Beer Reviews, Stouts/Porters | 1 Comment

Stone: Ruination 2.0

From the Brewery: aviary_1448197465183

“Stone Ruination IPA was the first full-time brewed and bottled West Coast double IPA on the planet. As craft beer has evolved over the years, so too have techniques for maximizing hop flavors and aromas. For the second incarnation of our groundbreaking India pale ale, we employed dry hopping and hop bursting to squeeze every last drop of piney, citrusy, tropical essence from the hops that give this beer its incredible character. We’ve also updated the name to Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 to reflect the imperial-level intensity that’s evident in every sip. Join us in cheering this, the second stanza in our ‘Liquid Poem to the Glory of the Hop.'”

8.5% ABV Double IPA

The Pour:

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a can glass. The body is hazy-orange with moderate visible carbonation. The off-white, frothy head has good retention and leaves a fair amount of lacing on the glass.

The Nose:

A melange of hop aromas emanate from the glass: lemon, pine/dankness, tropical fruit, floral earthiness. The malts present themselves in a bit of a candy caramel scent. While hop-forward, the malt base balances things out well.

The Mouth:

Medium-bodied mouthfeel, finishing dry with a lingering hop bite. It seems smoother than I remember the original being. The flavors match the nose pretty spot on: lemon citrus, pine, floral notes, with a touch of apricot sneaking in as well. The sweet, caramel malt character goes quite well with the complex hop profile.

Final Thoughts:

Ruination 2.0 is a smoother, more complex and refined version of the original. Looking back at that review from over two years ago, a lot of the remarks I notated are similar to what I jotted down while drinking this one. That was a bit of a surprise, because my perception was that they were pretty different. I would say the main difference would be the smoothness of 2.0, while the original’s notes were more staccato and harsh. Others I’ve talked to about this beer are ~ 50/50 on Original vs 2.0, but I think I like 2.0 just a touch better. I gave the original an 8.5/10, and I don’t think this is quite a 9, so I’ll give it an 8.75/10.

Stone Brewing Co. – Escondido, California




Posted in Beer Reviews, IPA | 1 Comment

Homebrewing: Southern English Brown Ale

I guess you could call this my house brown ale, since I’ve brewed it a few times and it’s one of my wife’s favorites. I set out to find a nice, malty, sessionable ale with a quick fermentation turnaround when I needed a keg of something to take up a tap on my kegerator. I perused some online homebrew forums and the BeerSmith archives, and threw together a simple recipe for a Southern English Brown Ale.

The Recipe: 5.5 gallons into the fermenter, 75 minute boil (Normally 60 minutes, but I over-sparged a bit and extended the boil, was aiming for about 5.25-5.33 gallons). I got 72% efficiency on this batch with a simple single batch sparge.

  • 6 lbs Maris Otter
  • 1.5 lbs Crystal 60
  • 8 oz Aromatic Malt (20 SRM)
  • 8 oz Special B
  • 4 oz Chocolate (350 SRM)
  • 1 oz East Kent Goldings (5.5%)
  • Fermetis S-04 or WLP002

60 minute mash at 154°

Fermented at 62° (S-04) or 68° (WLP002)

OG: 1.042

FG: 1.013

ABV: 3.8%

IBUs: 19.5

This current batch is made with the S-04, and I don’t like it nearly as much as I did with the WLP002, so if you decide to make it definitely go with that. In fact, I’ve made 3 beers with S-04 out of convenience, and I’m pretty much at the point where I’ll never make anything out of it again.


Review: IMAG0614

Nice ruby-red/brown body that is crystal clear after about a month in the keg. Off-white creamy head with great retention and lacing. Aromas of bready grains, tobacco, dark fruit, and chocolate. Flavors follow suit, but in the S-04 version much more fruity yeast characteristics show up and don’t mix particularly well with the base flavors. The WLP002 showed more malt characteristics, with the touch of dark fruit/pipe tobacco/chocolate making one of the better flavor profiles I’ve brewed to date.

This is an incredibly easy, cheap beer to make. With the right yeast, it is delicious. I will make it again, and use WLP002 from here on out.

S-04 version: 6/10

WLP002 version: 9/10

Posted in Beer Reviews, Dark/Brown Ales, Homebrewing, Recipes | 1 Comment

Evil Twin: I Love You With My Stout

From the Brewery: IMG_4315IMG_4316

“When I copied the famous Even More Jesus, I had to ask myself as an artist, why am I doing this? I didn’t honestly know. It was just an instinct about beer as pure form… in a sense this stout is like a metaphor for freedom – the sum of all the beauty that surrounds me and my perfect contemporary existence.”
– Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, Brewer and founder of Evil Twin Brewing

12% ABV Imperial Stout

The Pour:

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. It has the prototypical Imperial Stout look: opaque jet black body, thin brown head with minimal retention, and little visible carbonation. Little lacing is left on the glass, and the alcohol legs are obvious when swirling it in the snifter.

The Nose:

Aromas of black licorice, bitter dark chocolate, caramel, dark fruit, toasted coconut, and a kick of alcohol are present. The aromas are bold and meld nicely.

The Mouth:

I Love You With My Stout has a thick, syrupy body that finishes incredibly sweet with loads of residual sugars. It seems the very high gravity finish helps conceal the 12% ABV, as it’s not nearly as present in the mouthfeel as it is in the aromas. Flavors of  slightly scorched/cooked sugars, caramel, black licorice, bitter chocolate, and roasted malts.

Final Thoughts:

The biggest impression this beer leaves is how immensely sweet it it. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out if it finished with a final gravity north of 1.040. It is almost too sugary for my taste, but I find it quite enjoyable regardless. It is quite well put together. Overall, a quite enjoyable Imperial Stout that is definitely a sipper. I even would have preferred to split this 12 oz bottle with another due to its sweet, syrupy nature. 8.25/10

Eval Twin Brewing – Brooklyn, New York 

Contract brewed by Two Roads Brewing Co. – Stratford, Connecticut


Posted in Beer Reviews, Stouts/Porters | 1 Comment

No-Li Brewhouse: Crony

From the Bottle: IMG_4312IMG_4313

“Crony is designed to highlight the unique tropical fruit aromas and piney character of Simcoe hops. Layer these distinct hops on a smooth malt body and you get a NW Brown Ale with hints of garnet red.” 5.1% ABV American Brown Ale

The Pour:

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my Tioga-Sequoia teardrop glass. Crony pours a deep reddish-brown, which doesn’t really come through in the photo above. Held up to light, the body is crystal clear with little carbonation visible. A thin beige head is poured, which fizzles away and leaves scant lacing on the glass.

The Nose:

The aromas on Crony are mostly subtle, with the hops being more prevalent. Slightly spicy, earthy characteristics come though and combine with a bit of resinous dank. I get some carbonic, metallic-like aromas in there as well. The malts notes are light, mid-crystal/caramel malts and a touch of roasted/chocolate malt.

The Mouth:

Crony has a medium-thin body with a dry, moderately roasty finish. There seems to be more bitterness from than the 30 IBUs would suggest, though that could be accentuated by the carbonic bite noticed in the nose. The flavors are also more on the subtle side, with the aromatic hop qualities carrying over from the nose. More typical brown ale/brown porter qualities present themselves as it gets closer to room temperature, and smooth out as the beer degases. A modestly lingering aftertaste of chocolate/roasted malts, nuttiness, and the earthy hop zest round it out.

Final Thoughts:

No-Li Brewhouse Crony is described as a “NW Brown Ale”, and while it is definitely more hoppy than a standard English Brown, I was almost hoping it would be bordering on Brown IPA territory given the Simcoe hop emphasis described. The earthy nature of the hops came through fine, but the thick, resinous, “catty”quality I’ve come to expect from Simcoe wasn’t quite there. So, to me, this beer is in between a couple of preferred Brown Ale styles – not hoppy enough to be an enticing West Coast entry, nor having the rich malt complexity you can find in a simple English Brown. 6/10

No-Li Brewhouse – Spokane, Washington

Posted in Beer Reviews, Dark/Brown Ales | 1 Comment

All Beer Reviews

21st Amendment: Bitter American

21st Amendment: Brew Free! Or Die IPA

21st Amendment: Back in Black

21st Amendment: Fireside Chat

21st Amendment: Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer

Abita: Turbodog

AleSmith: Speedway Stout

Almanac: Biere de Chocolat

Anchor: Steam Beer

Anderson Valley: Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout

Anderson Valley: Boont Amber Ale

Anderson Valley: Heelch O’Hops Double IPA

Anderson Valley: Poleeko Pale Ale

Ayinger: Bräu Weisse

Ayinger: Celebrator Dopplebock

Ayinger: Urweisse

Ballast Point: Big Eye India Pale Ale

Ballast Point: Victory at Sea (Imperial Porter with Coffee and Vanilla)

Baltika: #6 Porter

Bayhawk: Chocolate Porter

Belhaven: Wee Heavy

Boddingtons: Pub Ale

Boulevard: Dark Truth Stout

Brewery Ommegang: Take The Black Stout

Calsberg Sverige: D. Carnegie 5,5%

Central Coast Brewing: Stenner Creek Stout (Oatmeal Stout)

Chimay: Tripel / Blanche (White) / Cinq Cents

Dogfish Head: 75 Minute IPA

Dogfish: Head Indian Brown Ale

Dust Bowl: “Hops Of Wrath” India Pale Ale

Dust Bowl: Super Tramp

Evil Twin: I Love You With My Stout

Evil Twin: Yang

Evil Twin: Yin

Figueroa Mountain: Davy Brown Ale

Firestone Walker: 805

Firestone Walker: Double Jack

Firestone Walker: Easy Jack

Firestone Walker: Pale 31

Firestone Walker: Parabola (2012 Vintage) Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Firestone Walker: Walker’s Reserve Porter

Firestone Walker: Velvet Merkin (Bourbon Barrel Aged)

Firestone Walker: Velvet Merlin

Firestone Walker: Wookey Jack (Proprietor’s Reserve)

Flying Dog: Gonzo Imperial Porter

Flying Dog: Raging Bitch

Frederic-Robinson: Chocolate Old Tom

Fuller’s: Organic Honey Dew

Grand Teton Brewing: Bitch Creek ESB (Extra Special Brown)

Great Divide: Yeti Imperial Stout

Green Flash: Green Bullet Triple India Pale Ale

Green Flash: Double Stout Black Ale

Green Flash: Imperial India Pale Ale

Half Moon Bay: Mavericks Pit Stop Chocolate Porter

Harviestoun: Old Engine Oil

High Water: Campfire Stout

Hoppy Brewing Company Stony Face Red Ale

Kona: Fire Rock Pale Ale

Kona: Pipeline Porter

Lagunitas: IPA

Lagunitas: Lucky 13

Lagunitas: Maximus IPA

Lagunitas: NightTime Ale

Left Hand: Milk Stout Nitro

Lost Coast: Downtown Brown Light Brown Ale

Mammoth: Double Nut Brown Porter

Mikkeller: Beer Geek Breakfast

Mikkeller: Milk Stout

Mission: Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout

Mission: Shipwrecked Double IPA

Moylan’s: Dragoons Dry Irish Stout

Moylan’s: Kilt Lifter Scotch Style Ale

New Belgium: Trippel (Belgian Style Ale)

No-Li Brewhouse: Crony

North Coast: Old No. 38 Stout

North Coast: Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

North Coast: Old Stock Ale (2012)

Oskar Blues: Dale’s Pale Ale

Palo Alto: Cool Beanz Coffee Porter

Riley’s: Sancha

Rogue: American Amber Ale

Rogue: Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale

Rogue: Chocolate Stout

Rogue: Double Chocolate Stout

Rogue: Hazelnut Brown Nectar

Rogue: Irish Style Lager

Rogue: Mocha Porter

Rogue: Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout

Samuel Adams: Cream Stout

Samuel Adams: Double Bock

Samuel Adams: Dark Depths

Samuel Adams: Octoberfest

Samuel Adams: Rebel IPA

Samuel Adams: Summer Ale

Samuel Smith: Oatmeal Stout

Samuel Smith: Organic Chocolate Stout

Samuel Smith: Organic Strawberry Fruit Beer

Santa Cruz Ale Works: Dark Night Oatmeal Stout

Shiner: Bock

Shipyard: Barley Wine Style Ale (Pugsley’s Signature Series)

Shipyard: Smashed Pumpkin (Pugsley’s Signature Series)

Sierra Nevada: Blindfold Black IPA

Sierra Nevada: Kellerweis

Sierra Nevada: Narwhal Imperial Stout (2012)

Sierra Nevada: Nooner Session IPA

Sierra Nevada: Porter

Sierra Nevada: Ruthless Rye IPA (2013)

Sierra Nevada: Snow Wit White IPA

Sierra Nevada: Stout

Sierra Nevada: Summerfest

Sierra Nevada: Torpedo Extra IPA

Southern Tier: Choklat

Southern: Tier Oat

Speakeasy: Big Daddy IPA

Speakeasy: Butchertown Black Ale

Speakeasy: Payback Porter

Speakeasy: Prohibition Ale

St. Bernardus: Christmas Ale

Stone: 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA

Stone: Arrogant Bastard Ale

Stone: Cali-Belgique IPA

Stone: Coffee Milk Stout

Stone: Double Bastard Ale

Stone: Enjoy By 07.04.13 IPA

Stone: Espresso Imperial Russian Stout (2013 Odd Year Release)

Stone: Imperial Russian Stout-2012

Stone: IPA

Stone: Levitation Ale

Stone: Pale Ale 2.0

Stone: Robert & Ryan / Rip Current / R&R Coconut IPA

Stone: Ruination

Stone: Ruination 2.0

Stone: Smoked Porter

Stone: Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA

Tap It: IPA

Tioga-Sequoia: Batch 250 Imperial IPA

Tioga-Sequoia: CA 99 Golden Ale

Tioga-Sequoia: Double Dry Hopped Gen. Sherman IPA

Tioga-Sequoia: Dublin Blues

Tioga-Sequoia: General Sherman IPA

Tioga Sequoia: Half Dome California Wheat

Tioga-Sequoia: Mt. Whitney Pale Ale

Tioga-Sequoia: Rush Hour Breakfast 

Tioga-Sequoia: Sugar Pine Cocoa-Vanilla Porter

Tioga-Sequoia: Tecumseh Imperial IPA

Weihenstephaner: Korbinian

Wells & Young’s: Banana Bread Beer

Widmer Brothers: Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout ’13

Wychwood Brewery: Hobgoblin

Wychwood Brewery: Wychcraft Blonde Ale

Young’s: Double Chocolate Stout

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Homebrewing: Every Hop Has Its Day IPA – Mosaic and Friends (Update 1)

Hey All! This is my first entry about my home brewing, and I’m sure the format will evolve as I chronicle more brew days. Yesterday evening I brewed up a batch of my house IPA, in which I use the same base malt recipe and swap out the hop profile.

The Recipe: 5.33 gallons into fermenter, 90 minute boil

  • 9 lbs US 2-Row
  • 2.5 lbs White Wheat
  • 10.6 oz Carapils
  • 1 lb Dextrose (added w/10 mins left boil)
  • 1 oz Nugget – 45 mins
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet – 15 mins
  • White Labs Yeast Nutrient – 15 mins
  • 2 oz Mosaic – 0 mins (20 minute hop stand)
  • 1 oz Simcoe – 0 mins (20 minute hop stand)
  • .67 oz Cascade – 0 mins (20 minute hop stand)
  • .33 oz Nugget – 0 mins (20 minute hop stand)
  • 2 oz Mosaic – 175° (20 minute hop stand)
  • 1 oz Simcoe – 175° (20 minute hop stand)
  • .67 oz Cascade – 175° (20 minute hop stand)
  • .33 oz Nugget – 175°(20 minute hop stand)


I began my brew day like I always do, with a trip to go buy some good brewing water. I’ve used bottled distilled water with great success, but have found that the local reverse osmosis filtered refill stations are much cheaper and equally effective at making good beer. I usually take two empty, clean carboys to get about 10 gallons of water.

I purchase my grain unmillled, usually from my local homebrew shop, or from an online retailer ( has been my go-to since I discovered it). I have a Barley Crusher grain mill, and begin measuring out my grain to crush after I get my strike water on the burner.


After milling the grain, I measure out my water treatments calculated using EZ Water Calculator.

IMG_4294 IMG_4295

I’ve been using the Brewbag Mashtun Filter (maybe I’ll put up a review soon) for a few batches, and use a long, thin mash (75 minutes @ 150°, 2.3 qt/lb ratio) to create a highly fermentable, dry wort.

IMG_4296 IMG_4297 IMG_4298

After 75 minutes, I begin to drain the mash tun and take a quick first runnings reading with my brand new, freshly calibrated refractometer. I hit my numbers right on based off this helpful chart. I haven’t vorlaufed since using this mash tun filter, and while the wort doesn’t come out crystal clear immediately, I haven’t noticed any difference in my end results not doing so. After draining the tun completely (including lifting the bag and some gentle squeezing), I add the sparge water, which I heat to a near boil to hopefully reach about 168° in the grain bed, which I let rest for 10 minutes before completing the batch sparge process.

IMG_4300IMG_4301 IMG_4302

Based off of my first runnings and pre-boil gravity, I don’t rinse my grains particularly efficiently. It’s been relatively consistent of the last 5 batches or so, so I’m not really stressed about it, and can live with ~70% efficiency using quick and dirty batch sparging.

Since I have a 90 minute boil, and the first hop addition is at 45 minutes, I wait until I get the boil rolling and under control with the help of some Fermcap S to measure out my hops. I also use my vacuum sealer to prep my double dry hop additions, to make things easier when that time comes around.

IMG_4299 IMG_4304 IMG_4305

After the boil, flame-out hop stand, and 175° hop stand, I chill my wort using my totally bitchin’ Hydra wort chiller.  I get it down to 72° in about 7 minutes, then bring it inside to rack to my 6.5 gallon Plastic Big Mouth Bubbler. I rack it through a funnel with a filter, and as one would expect with 9 ounces of hops clogging things up, it is a bit of an adventure filtering out all of the sludge. I rehydrated 2 packs of Fermentis US-05 yeast during the hop stands, and after oxygenating the wort with pure oxygen for 60 seconds, pitch the slurry and set up my BrewJacket Immersion fermentation temperature control unit (review definitely coming soon). I set it to 68°, and within a few hours the unit has it down from 72°.

IMG_4307 IMG_4308 IMG_4309

I’ll provide some updates after kegging/dry-hopping/tasting, but for now that’s about it. I will say it smells absolutely freaking phenomenal going into the fermenter. Huge, juicy berry notes from the Mosaic, with undertones of piney, catty dankness from the Simcoe/Nugget. I was originally going to use Amarillo, but didn’t have any in stock, and some quick Googling suggested the Cascade/Nugget substitution. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for updates!

Update #1 – 11/20/2015

I racked this beer to a keg after 8 days in primary fermentation. It appeared to have reached final gravity, ~1.007 (my hydrometer came calibrated to 1.003 instead of 1.000). There was a nice layer of yeast/trub hanging out in the bottom of the fermenter. It came out to 7.5% ABV.

I treat myself to the hydrometer sample, as I always do, and find this beer is right on schedule. Smooth bitterness, juicy melon hop flavors, just enough base malts, and plenty dry – just how I like my IPAs.

I purge my sanitized kegs with co2 in order to hopefully prevent oxidation, then prepare my Stainless Keg Hopper for my first dry hop. After siphoning from the fermenter to the keg, I add the hops to the keg hopper, and attach the lid to one of the keg handles via sanitized unflavored dental floss.

I purge the head space with more co2 and to seat the keg lid – about 30 psi. After tagging the keg, it’s off to the pantry to hang out until the second round of dry hopping. I followed the flame out/whirlpool hop schedule for the dry hop.

I’ll provide one more update when it’s done, followed by a detailed beer review!

Posted in Homebrewing, Recipes | Leave a comment