Monthly Archives: October 2012

Janet’s Brown Ale Brewday

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I’m a big fan of The Brewing Network and their podcasts, especially Can You Brew it and Brew Strong. After listening to nearly every episode of both shows  it’s become very clear that Tasty McDole knows a lot about brewing and, especially, recipe formulation – an area that I still have a lot to learn about. Tasty is well known for his recipe Tasty’s APA and, of course, Janet’s Brown Ale.

Janet’s Brown Ale is an American Brown Ale that is a bit stronger/hoppier than most for the style, but that hasn’t stopped it from doing quite well at NHC (2004 Category 10 gold medal, imperial version 2009 Category 23 gold medal). The recipe is all over the internet – or in your copy of Brewing Classic Styles. The only change I made was using English Chocolate Malt (430L) as I couldn’t find a domestic chocolate malt close to 420L. I also plan to dry hop in the primary fermenter instead of a secondary, just because I almost always dry hop in primary. I had never mash hopped – will be interesting to see the flavor impact.

It’s long overdue, I’ve been wanting to brew this for about a year and just never squeezed it in – luckily my brewing partner Jay mentioned brewing a brown ale to end his brewing hiatus. Here are some pics of the brew session (brewed on 10/27). This ought to be a great fall/winter beer – plenty of body and some residual sweetness to go with the bitterness and hop flavor.


Filed under Brewing, Homebrew

Brewday prep, other stuff

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Got a small starter of washed WLP001 from a Scottish Ale (MacAulish) that was brewed in August. I typically don’t use yeast that is this old, but figured I’d make a small starter and give it a shot. It’s looking fine this morning so I’ll probably step it up to maybe 2 liters tomorrow so it’ll be ready for brewing Tasty McDole’s Janet’s Brown Ale this weekend. I’ve heard nothing but good things about that beer – been meaning to brew it for some time now.
Got a couple entries (Hamfast the Gaffer and Bagshot Pale) shipped off to both the Land of the Muddy Waters and SCH*ABC V competitions for judging on 11/10/12. These are 2 beers that I’m planning to rebrew for some competitions early next year so I want some feedback on them since it was the first time I brewed both of those.
I’ll get a new post up this weekend after brewing – hopefully with good news from Hoppy Halloween for which judging starts tonight!

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Hamfast the Gaffer > Pliny the Elder?

Brewed up a Pliny clone (which I have dubbed “Hamfast the Gaffer“) on 9/1/12 using the recipe Vinnie provided in his “Brew a Double IPA” writeup for Zymurgy. My friend Brandon brought over some Pliny several weeks before we brewed this so expectations were high (that was my first taste after hearing about Pliny for years).

The brew sesh was pretty solid, everything went real smooth and we hit target OG of 1.072. We pitched some washed WLP001 from a Scottish Ale (Jamil’s 70/-) that had been brewed about two weeks earlier. Fermentation was kept at 67F until things were slowing down and I let it rise to 70F as I usually do with WLP001 to encourage the yeast to finish out and clean up. FG was slightly low at 1.009.


Racked to secondary on 9/8 with first dose of dry hops (loose pellets)


Added second dose of dry hops on 9/16 (loose pellets)

Moved to chest freezer to cold crash on 9/18 and racked to keg on 9/21 leaving most of the hop matter behind

Poured a sample on 9/21 and the beer tasted good, but it was still settling and mellowing and there were hop flakes in the glass.

Waited until 9/28 to try again and the beer was crystal clear and had really smoothed out. The bitterness is very pronounced, but I wouldn’t quite call it harsh. The aroma is like nothing I’ve ever smelled, seriously. I imagine Pliny at the brewery would smell this good, but I don’t think anything that gets bottled and transported to a liquor store, purchased and shipped across the country could ever smell like this. Upon comparison, I think we all agreed that the commercial version tastes a little smoother and has a little more sweetness, but the aroma is just not that great (due to circumstances mentioned above). Brandon even brought a bottle back from GABF that was bottled on 10/4 and we compared this a second time on 10/14, but again the aroma just wasn’t that good.

Hamfast on the left, Pliny on the right
The shape of the glasses and bottle reminds me of something, what could that be?

I am really happy with how this one turned out, probably my favorite beer to date that I’ve brewed. I entered it in the Hoppy Halloween competition and may send it off to a few others in November – we’ll see how it does..


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Unexpected result – Big River Brew Fest Homebrew Competition

Looks like the same IPA that took 2nd in the IPA category at the MN State Fair this year took home 1st place in category 14 and best of show (kind of hard to tell in the picture, but that’s got to be my name there with one extra ‘m’ in Remington):


Picture from Big River Brew Fest Homebrew Competition results on the Nordeast Brewers Alliance website (

This isn’t just the same recipe as the one entered at the state fair – it’s from the same batch brewed 6/2/12! I almost didn’t even enter it thinking it would be bad by now, I’ll have to check for more bottles, hopefully I have at least one left as I usually save one to read with the results. My Special Bitter didn’t place, but that was almost as old and I’m learning that it doesn’t taste too great beyond 3 months.
A big thanks to the Nordeast Brewers Alliance for putting this competition together.


Filed under Competition, Homebrew

Beer Engine Caskegerator – Butterbur’s Bitter

I really really love English beers through a handpump, but I wasn’t about to spend $400 on a beer engine until I had at least tried this out at home. I saw a BYO article about building a beer engine out of an RV hand pump and a pretty cool build on HBT so I decided to cannablize a wine-cooler that was collecting dust and build a beer engine/caskegerator (hand pump, swan neck, sparkler tip, cooling unit, corny kegs = Beer Engine Caskegerator).

It’s cooled by the peltier cooling unit from the wine cooler, and an additional PC fan. My basement isn’t quite cool enough yet so I am supplementing the cooling with some frozen 2 liter jugs which allows the setup to hover around 52-53F.


I had a swan neck fabricated by Zach at and added a compression fitting to 3/8″ MPT, I then jammed a sparkler tip on there and turned it to basically create new threads. After flushing the system a few times all the plastic chunks were purged out.


The pump is a Valtera Rocket Hand Pump that I got on Amazon for $28 – took off the stock spout and used a keg dip tube and o ring fastened on by the plastic nut that was holding the stock spout on.

I brewed an ordinary bitter for the Beer Engine Caskegerator’s maiden voyage:

Butterbur’s Bitter

OG 1.037

FG 1.009

Mash at 151

60 Minute Boil

90% Floor Malted Marris Otter (Warminster)

5% English Dark Crystal (Simpson’s)

5% Corn Sugar

54g Styrian Goldings 4%AA 60 minutes

17g Styrian Goldings 4%AA 20 minutes

17g Styrian Goldings 4%AA 5 minutes

WLP002, pitched at 62F, let free rise to 66F, kegged at 1.010 and let fermentation finish out while carbonating the beer. Gelatin finings.


Tastes perfect, bitterness is definitely there, but not in your face, has some hop flavor and a tiny bit of English yeast fruitiness, but finishes clean and dry with a hint of honey and breadiness that I think comes from the floor malted MO. Aroma is pretty much all malt/bread with a hint of sweetness/earthiness from the Styrian Goldings, the recipe might benefit from a late addition, but I wanted to brew a traditional ordinary bitter and I don’t think I’ll change a thing next time.


Filed under Bitter, Brewing, Cask, Homebrew

Competition time

I’ve been bottling beers on and off all week for the Hoppy Halloween competition, as you can see below:

I’ll be entering 7 ales:
MacAulish – 09B Scottish Heavy 70/- brewed 8/18/12

Crichollow Mild – 11A Mild – brewed 8/23/12

Hamfast the Gaffer (Pliny clone) – 14C Imperial IPA – brewed 9/1/12

Butterbur’s Bitter – 08A Standard/Ordinary Bitter – brewed 9/8/12

Bagshot Pale- 10A American Pale Ale – brewed 9/13/12

Erebor Pale Ale – 14B American IPA – brewed 9/18/12

Bucklebury Bitter – 08B Special/Best/Premium Bitter – brewed 9/22/12

I think that the best beer of them all (and quite possibly the best beer I’ve brewed to date) is Hamfast the Gaffer, it should be right around it’s peak when judged (hopefully), it’s been tasting real good since about the 5 week mark. The Bagshot Pale and Erebor Pale Ale are also real good. The MacAulish turned out a little more bitter than I planned (subbed EKG for Northdown since I had some leftover), but I still think it will score well. The Mild just hasn’t cleared up much, I must have moved the keg around too much and the isinglass lost its effectiveness, but it tastes pretty good regardless – very bready/toasty with hints of chocolate and coffee. The ordinary bitter is ok, nothing too special especially since I brewed this with my beer engine in mind, but decided to bottle some for competition. Bucklebury Bitter is quite good as usual, it’s a bit young now, but should be at it’s peak during judging. I think all the beers are good, but Hamfast the Gaffer and Bucklebury Bitter are where I’d put my money to place followed by Bagshot Pale and MacAulish.
I’ll post updates after the results are posted (hopefully I’ll be reporting about the Brewhemoth conical I just won).

Bagshot Pale enjoyed while writing this

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