Monday, November 30, 2009

The Best Ale in the Universe

I work at a Health Sciences Charter High School and when we started the school 3 years ago we said we wanted it to be the Best School in the Universe. It really is a great school but I won't get into that here. So for our Holiday party this year I thought it would be cool to brew a beer for the occasion. Two of my coworkers have gotten into homebrewing over the last year and we decided we would use our day off for Veteran's Day to brew this beer, but we wanted to make it connect to the school some how. My buddy Lucas said we should include some item from the school lunches and incorporate it into the beer, and so we decided upon the Pepperidge Farm Giant Graham Cracker Fish cookies .

Now to choose the base beer style. This job was taken on by me. I knew what I thought would be good, but I also know that many of our fellow teachers are not huge beer fans so I wanted to keep it balanced, somewhat sweet, not too hoppy and allow the cookies and their cinnamon to be accentuated. I decide that if I made a Souther Brown everyone would like it, but a low abv beer just doesn't seem to say celebration, so I went to an Imperial Southern Brown (still only 5.2% abv). I talked to Matt Navarre and Chuck Silva from Green Flash brewing about adding the cookies to the mash and they both agreed it wouldn't ruin the beer so I went for it. This beer was brewed with Myself, Tim, Chelsea and Jo (Lucas couldn't make it but we thank him for his creative input)

Here is the recipe for a 5 gallon batch:

Selected Style and BJCP Guidelines
11B-English Brown Ale-Southern English Brown Ale

Recipe Overview
Target Pre-Boil Gravity:1.050 SGActual Pre-Boil Gravity:-No Record-
Target OG:1.058 SGActual OG:-No Record-
Target FG:1.019 SGActual FG:-No Record-
Target ABV:5.2 %Actual ABV:0.0 %
Target IBU (using Tinseth):25.7 IBUActual IBU:40.4 IBU
Target Color (using Morey):31.4 SRMActual Color:31.4 SRM
Target Fermentation Temp:64 degFActual Fermentation Temp:64 degF

UK Pale Ale Malt9.00 lb80.0 %5.1In Mash/Steeped
US Caramel 80L Malt1.00 lb8.9 %15.1In Mash/Steeped
US Caramel 120L Malt0.50 lb4.4 %11.4In Mash/Steeped
US Chocolate Malt0.50 lb4.4 %33.1In Mash/Steeped
German Carafa II0.25 lb2.2 %20.3In Mash/Steeped
UK Golding5.5 %1.00 oz19.7Loose Pellet Hops60 Min From End
UK Golding5.5 %0.50 oz6.0Loose Pellet Hops20 Min From End
White Labs WLP002-English Ale
Mash Schedule
Mash Type:Full Mash
Schedule Name:Single Step Infusion (68C/154F) w/Mash-Out
Step TypeTemperatureDuration
Rest at154 degF60
Raise to and Mash out at171 degF10


Mashed at 153F, using 3.5 gallons. Strike temp 166F. Sparge with 5 gallons. Add broken Giant grahams to mash after it has been strirred (hoping to avoid a stuck mash). 23 packs added (2 cookies per pack).

I brewed this with a bunch of coworkers and I forgot to get a OG reading so it is uncertain. When I took a FG reading last week I was just slightly over the target OG, so I figure I am in range. I also did not account for the gravity points that I would gain from the cookies. This was more for fun than anything else.

The beer will be kegged next week in preparation for the Holiday Party on the 18th!

I will let you know how it turns out and how people liked it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Big Wednesday

This is Kelby of Kelby Knife Fight Fame
I am a teacher and for the last 4 years or so we have had the entire week of Thanksgiving off, pretty sweet, huh? Well I decided what better to do the day before Thanksgiving than brew two beers and smoke a pork shoulder (more on this another time). I brewed a Pale Ale based on Rubicon Brewing Co.'s Monkey Knife Fight. MKF is a great easy drinking beer that has a nice hop bitterness, and a great hop flavor and aroma. The beer also finishes nice and dry. I emailed the brewer this summer after visiting the brew pub in Sacramento and he was willing to part with some info. I don't have a pet monkey, but I do have a French Bulldog named Kelby. So it is named after her. Note: Rubicon uses all Willamette, but the LHBS was out so I went with all Goldings.

The other beer was my Dark Winter Saison. I have brewed a saison for each season and this is the final in the series. I started with the Spring (basic 6.5% saison with some wheat and all amarillo hops), Summer (Low abv, traditional saison), Fall (Amber colored, with caramelized butternut and pumpkin, brown sugar, and whole spices added at flameout). The Fall got infected with Brett though so it will need some more time and I think it will be a great beer for next Fall. I say infected because it wasn't supposed to have brett, I had a little outbreak in the brew house this fall. Think of the winter as a Belgian Dark Strong with saison yeast, dark candi syrup, and Golding hops and a late Hellertaeur addition.

Kelby Knife Fight

10A-American Ale-American Pale Ale

Recipe Overview

5 Gallon batch

Expected OG: 1.051 SG

Expected FG: 1.012 SG

Expected ABV:5.2 %

Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 44.6 IBU

Expected Color (using Morey):8.7 SRM


US Pale Ale Malt 8.00 lb 80.0 %

US Caramel 40L Malt 1.00 lb 10.0 %

US Carapils Malt 1.00 lb 10.0 %


US Willamette 4.5 % 2.18 oz Loose Pellet Hops 60 Min From End

US Willamette 4.5 % 0.54 oz Loose Pellet Hops 30 Min From End

US Willamette 4.5 % 0.54 oz Loose Pellet Hops 1 Min From End

White Labs WLP001-California Ale

Winter Sasion

16C-Belgian And French Ale-Saison

Recipe Overview

5 gallon batch

Expected OG: 1.087 SG

Expected FG: 1.018 SG

Expected ABV: 9.4 %

Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 26.3 IBU

Expected Color (using Morey): 26.1 SRM


US 2-Row Malt 12.00 lb 71.6 % In Mash/Steeped

US Munich 20L Malt 1.00 lb 6.0 % In Mash/Steeped

US White Wheat Malt 1.00 lb 6.0 % In Mash/Steeped

US Caramel 120L Malt 0.50 lb 3.0 % In Mash/Steeped

US Vienna Malt 0.50 lb 3.0 % In Mash/Steeped

Belgian Special B 0.50 lb 3.0 % In Mash/Steeped

German Carafa I 0.25 lb 1.5 % In Mash/Steeped

Sugar - Dark Candi Syrup 1.00 lb 6.0 % Start Of Boil


UK Fuggle 4.5 % 1.75 oz Loose Pellet Hops 60 Min From End

Czech Saaz 3.0 % 0.75 oz Loose Pellet Hops 20 Min From End

White Labs WLP568-Belgian Style Saison Ale Yeast Blend

I have no camera at the time so no pictures for now, hopefully for my birthday next month. This is my first real post so please any suggestions, insight, etc. would be appreciated. I will keep you updated as they progress.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Well, I have finally started my own home brewing blog. I will try and update as much as possible, but no promises. I have been brewing for 3 years and have mainly focused on Belgian styles, and lately have taken up wild brewing (bacteria and wild yeasts). Hope you enjoy it and please any feedback is appreciated.

First beer post will be a Imperial Southern Brown with Graham Crackers! So much for Belgian specialty, huh?