Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2020

Strange Roots Hive Alive Inspired Honey Ale 1.0

A couple of months ago, the folks at Tavour offered me a chance to purchase a beer from Strange Roots Experimental Ale s in Pittsburgh, PA.  The beer, called Hive Alive, clocked in at 17.3% ABV.  The Tavour folks described it as: Each velvety mouthful sends your palate fluttering into honey heaven.  That's bee-cause Strange Roots crafted their mead-like Still Ale with copious amounts of real orange blossom honey and malted barley!  And that's drizzled on top of an already-smooth Pilsner malt base, resinous hops, and Pennsylvania wild yeast for a touch of funk... [snip] this brew drips with earth tones, florals, and sugar cookie-like sweetness. All the while, gentle stings of apricot and orange citrus keep the experience from becoming too cloying. This is the bottle I opened almost two weeks ago. It was really tasty, and inspired me to try my own version of it. I'm not trying to replicate theirs exactly, which is probably not possible without their wild yeast and kn

Mandarina Munich SMaSH 1.0

Last weekend, I brewed a SMaSH beer using only Viking Pale Ale Malt, Mandarina Bavaria hops pellets, and Safale US-05 yeast.  As part of my ongoing effort to learn what the various base malts contribute to the flavor of a beer, I'm making this one with Munich Malt.  The main challenge this time is that I'm using 5 pounds of malt instead of the 4 I used last time.  To get the gravity close to the last two batches, I'm bumping the volume up from 2.5 to 3 gallons. Ingredients 5 pounds Avangard Munich Malt (Munich Avangard - Malz Premium 6L) 1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer 0.25 tsp. Brewtan B (20 min. boil) 1/4 Whirlfloc tablet 3 gallons of mash water 1.75 gallons of sparge water 1 packet Safale US-05 yeast Brewfather estimates the beer will have the following qualities: Batch size: 3 gallons (estimated and actual) Original Gravity:   1.049 SG estimated (1.055 actual) Pre-Boil Gravity:   1.042 SG estimated (1.039 actual, at 4.25 gallons) Final Gravity:   1.011 SG

Viking Pale Ale Malt SMaSH 1.1

Late in 2019, I tried to brew a SMaSH beer using Viking Pale Ale malt and a sous vide setup.  The beer ended with the appearance of having kettle soured or getting infected, so I dumped it without attempting to bottle it. I recently made some modifications to my Grainfather's wort chiller and recirculating pipe connections in the hope that this would make those connections easier to use and more reliable.  Today was my first attempt to test those out. The goal of this brew session was twofold. First, I wanted to test the modifications to The Grainfather using a simple recipe with ingredients I had on hand in quantity, so that if something went hideously wrong I would only be losing a few bucks' worth of ingredients.  Second, I wanted to see how Viking Pale Ale Malt tasted when brewed by itself. Ingredients 4 pounds Viking Pale Ale Malt 0.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer (mash) 1 capful Phosphoric Acid 10% solution (mash) 0.50 ounces Mandarina Bavaria hops pellets @ 9.6% AA

2019 - My Year in Home Brewing

I like to take some time each year to reflect on my brewing activities for the year, identifying what I've learned, what went especially well, what didn't, and what I'd like to accomplish in the year ahead.  That's what this post is all about. 2019 Brewing, in Numbers In 2018, I made a whopping 48 batches of home brew.  That figure dropped to 27 batches in 2019.  The drop-off was caused by a number of different factors, including: 2019 saw a number of major family events, including three graduations, a wedding, and others.  Not that I regret participating in those events, but that was time I might otherwise have spent brewing, so it affected the total number of batches. My Brewie+ system failed part-way through the year.  The manufacturer folded shortly afterward, so repair services pretty much died with it.  A good friend spent hours with me trying to get it working, but in the end I could not even get it to power on anymore.   Before the Brewie+ died, I disc