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Black Betty v2.0

Posted by Jeff on May 23, 2012

As I mentioned while whining in my previous post, I recently brewed an American Black Ale.  Going back a few posts you will see I brewed Black Betty some time ago and it came out really well, but I wanted to try to make something with more hops and less malt complexity.  For the sake of argument, let’s say I wanted to brew something that was less Cascadian Dark Ale and more American Black Ale.  Not to be confused with a Black IPA… I feel like a Black IPA is just an IPA with some black malt in it and I wanted something a little more than that.  I find Cascadian Dark Ales to be more earthy with vegetal hop flavor.  I think “American Black Ale” is a good medium between the two.  But I digress…

Also, it just so happened that the Big Batch Brew Bash was coming up, and the style this year was American Black Ale.  So it was a good motivator to get it brewed.

So, I decided to dub it Black Betty v2.0.  Mostly because I like the name “BLack Betty” for a beer.  I’ll probably choose a new pin-up girl for the label this time… we’ll see what I can find.  Ok, so the recipe.  This is actually based off of a clone recipe for Stone’s Sublimely Self Righteous Ale (which I love).


Black Betty v2.0

6 Gallons, 60 min boil
EST OG: 1.080, EST IBU: 112.8
14.5 lbs. – Two Row (US)
1.0 lb. – Carafa III – De-Husked
0.75 lb. – Crystal 55L

2.0 oz. Chinook – 11.8%AAU – 60 min.
1.0 oz. Amarillo – 9.3%AAU – 15 min.
1.0 oz. Simcoe – 14.1%AAU – 15 min.
2.0 oz. Amarillo – Dry Hop
2.0 oz. Simcoe – Dry Hop

Yeast:  WLP001 California Ale (Pitched yeast cake from previous batch of pale ale)

Mash: 153F for 60 min.


Brew day went alright.  I over sparged so my pre-boil gravity was low, causing me to have to add some DME to the boil.  I ended up with a 1.077 beer, rather than a 1.080 beer.  Worse things have happened, I suppose.

As I mentioned, I had planned to enter this beer into the Big Batch Brew Bash, but I made one crucial error that killed the whole thing… water.  Read my previous post on water chemistry for an explanation, but basically the beer came out tasting flat.  I was really looking for more from the hops, but water chemistry has a sneaky way of taking that away from you.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good beer, just not hoppy enough to be a contender in a competition, so I decided not to enter it.  It’s now on draft here at the brewery.

So, I guess next time I’ll try adding some water salts in and see how that helps.  In the meantime, cheers!


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Brew Day – Owen’s Oat Brown Ale

Posted by Jeff on August 30, 2010

Well, your poll results showed that you all loved the Oat Brown… and I agreed!  Today was brewday.  Let’s begin with the recipe I devised:


Owen’s Oat Brown Ale

6 Gallons, 65% eff., 60 min. boil
EST OG – 1.052  EST IBU:  24

Transferring and cooling wort to the fermenter.

9.0 lbs – Crisp Maris Otter
1.25 lbs – Flaked Oats
1.0 lb – Brown Malt (65L)
1.0 lb – Victory Malt (25L)
0.5 lb – Crystal 40
0.25 lb – Pale Chocolate Malt (200L)

1.20 oz. – E.K. Goldings (5%AA) – 60 Min.
0.5 oz. – E.K. Goldings (5%AA) – 5 Min.

Yeast: WLP013 London Ale – Ferment at 68F.

Mash: Single infusion at 154F for 60 min


Brew day went well, aside from the heat and humidity.  I hit all the numbers I was supposed to (my OG actually came out to 1.060, so I diluted down to 1.052).  We’ll see how it goes.  During the boil the wort had a nice coffee/light roast aroma to it that I was really liking.  Hopefully that comes out in the final beer.

This is the first recipe I’ve ever really taken a stab at just coming  up with on my own (rather than taking one from the internet or a book).  I’m excited and nervous about it.  Hopefully it doesn’t suck.  And hopefully I get the flavor profile I was aiming for.  I’m thinking I should have had more Pale Chocolate malt and probably dialed back the bittering hops to 1.0 oz.  Then again, I haven’t even tried it yet, so what do I know about what needs changed!

Oh well… in the end, it’s still beer!


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What To Brew?

Posted by Jeff on August 18, 2010

Next brew day will be over Labor Day weekend.  If you would like to join, you are more than welcome!  For now, help me decide what to brew?  Just for reference, whatever I brew will probably be ready to drink by the first week in October.

Rye Wit – A beer inspired by Freetail Brewing’s Rye Wit.  Crisp and refreshing, but not too much of a “wow” factor.

Cascadian Dark – Also known as a Black IPA.  It’s a new style that’s pretty popular right now.  Quite interesting, but maybe too much flavor?

Oat Brown Ale – Inspired by Charlie Papazian’s recipe in Zymurgy.  Sounds mighty tasty.  And it would make a nice Fall beer (assuming we actually get Fall weather at any point…).

Old Ale – This one would be a tribute to my son, Owen, who is about to be born.  This would be a strong beer that is good for aging, so I could save some bottles and open a few every year on his birthday.

Blonde Ale – Just something light and easy to drink.  A lawnmower beer, if you will.  It’s hot here in Houston and it probably still will be in October.

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Cane Island Alers – Big Brew Day! Wheat Beers Edition

Posted by Jeff on May 27, 2010

Last Saturday my local homebrew club, the Cane Island Alers (CIA), had our May meeting.  We decided that this would be our (almost) annual club big brew meeting.

That’s where we bring out the big club mash tun (AKA: the “MEGATUN”), get a few sacks of base grain and some specialty grain and brew one gigantic batch of beer that we split and boil amongst our individual brewpots.  This method usually yields around 50+ gallons of beer of varying gravities (the first runnings are usually taken to make a strong beer, and subsequent runnings are used to make beers of varying strengths).

This time we decided to do wheat beers.  Local up-and-coming brewery No Label Brewing Co. generously donated a 50 lb. bag of Two Row and a 50 lb. bag of Wheat Malt for our base grain (huge thanks!).

Water started heating around 6:00AM.

The first two batches we pulled off were some high gravity Wheat Wines.  High Gravity Beer Aficionado Chris Mittel pulled some as did brew day host, Jeff Royal.  Chris added some specialty grains and rice to his whereas Jeff just went with what came out of the tun.  I’m excited to try some from each!

Next, club member Keenan pulled off runnings and diluted down to make 2 five gallon batches in the 1.050 range.  One was going to be a hefeweizen and one a wit.

Then came me.  For my first batch I wanted to make an Amber Honey Wheat (American Wheat style).  I took 4 gallons of runnings and diluted it down to the 1.040 range.  To this I added some mini-mash of a pound of Crystal 55.   At the end of my boil, I added about pound of honey (Texas Wildflower).  For yeast, I went with California Ale yeast (WLP001).

As all that was boiling I snagged about 8 gallons of wort which I intended to split into two 4 gallon batches… but would have to boil later.

After my snags, the other Jeff was done with his wheat wine, so he went ahead and took enough (after dilution) for 10 gallons in the mid 1.040’s.  Post-boil, this would be split into two fermenters with two different yeasts.  One with a wit strain to make a wit bier that Jeff will add some orange peel and coriander during secondary fermentation.  The other got some Wyeast 3056 to make a nice hefeweizen that we were brewing for Brian Royo (founder of No Label who donated the grain).

And finally, Chris went back and took some 1.040-ish runnings to make a nice dunkelweizen, including some specialty grains he picked up for the batch.

The brew day “ended” around 3:00.  All in all we ended up brewing about 50 gallons of various wheat beers.

I say “ended” because I then took my 8 gallons home and boiled it (thus continuing brew day).  I ended up with 7 gallons of post-boil wort, so instead of splitting that into two 3.5 gallon batches, I just decided to do one 6 gallon batch and sacrifice the rest.  Pitched a nice healthy WLP570 yeast starter and we were good to go.  I’ll add some orange peel, coriander and French lavender to the secondary to make a nice wit!  (Wit recipe inspired by The Bruery’s Orchard White Ale).

It was a fine brewday and, needless to say, we should have plenty of beers to drink at the July meeting!  The weather cooperated, until around 12:00… but it was nothing a bottle of water and a glass of homebrew couldn’t take care of!


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Brew Day! Tasty’s Amber Ale

Posted by Jeff on May 7, 2010

Let me run down a situation for you…

I currently have five 5-gallon kegs that are all at least half full (if not more) as well as a myriad of commercial beers in my beer fridge.  So, logically, what should I do?  BREW MOAR BEER!!

I decided to go through my recipe log and find something I haven’t brewed but wanted to.  I already have a Brown, APA, Dark Ale and Steam Beer on tap.  I thought about doing an IPA, but I wasn’t feelin’ it.  Then I came across a recipe from one of my most respected brewers, Mike “Tasty” McDole, for one of my most favorite styles, American Amber!  (Hey, I already have a Brown and APA on tap… let’s complete the trifecta!)

Here’s the recipe:


Tasty’s Amber

6.0 gallons
90 Minute Boil
Est OG – 1.056

11.0 Lbs – Two Row
1.5 Lbs – CaraPils
1.5 Lbs – Crystal 40
0.5 Lb – Wheat Malt
0.125 lb – Roasted Barley

0.5 oz. – Northern Brewer – 30 min
0.5 oz. – Northern Brewer – 15 min
0.5 oz. – Cascade – 15 min
0.5 oz. – Cascade – 5 min
2.0 oz. – Cascade – 1 min
2.0 oz. – Centennial – Dry Hop

Yeast: WLP001 – California Ale

Mash: Single Infusion at 153F for 60 min.


(Note: Tasty’s actual recipe also calls for 0.5 oz. Northern Brewer for mash hops, but I decided to omit them as I don’t think mash hopping does anything.  I could be wrong and probably am… but I didn’t feel like buying an additional ounce of hops only to use half of it and feel like it did nothing.)

So, brew day went well as can be.  I had better than expected efficiency, so I came out to an OG of 1.060.  And I forgot to make my starter.  (And, of course, by “forgot” I mean I was too lazy).  So we’ll see how well this beer ferments with just one vial of White Labs.

I was a bit concerned about the fact that there are no 60 minute hops in this recipe.  The recipe only has estimated IBUs of 29, so, we’ll see.  I trust Tasty.


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Frontier Fiesta Amber

Posted by Jeff on March 10, 2010

In part 2 of my two week update, last weekend I brewed a beer for the upcoming Frontier Fiesta!

I went into the homebrew shop without a recipe, so I decided to browse some of their shop recipes.  I wanted something with an OG in the mid 40’s and something that everyone would like.  Also, since I only had about 4 weeks until Fiesta, I wanted the beer to have a low enough OG that a long ferment/aging process wouldn’t be needed. 

I came across one for a “Texas Bock”, which looked like it was trying to mimic Shiner Bock.  I know Shiner is a crowd pleaser, so I thought that would be a good place to start.  Unfortunately, since Fiesta is less than a month away, I didn’t have time to make it as a lager, so I figured I’d try it as an ale.  At the very least, it should be interesting!  Here’s the recipe:

Frontier Fiesta Amber
5 Gallons, 60 Min Boil
Est. OG – 1.045
4.5 lbs – Two Row Pale Malt
2.0 lbs – Flaked Maize
2.0 lbs – Munich (light) – 9L
0.5 lb – CaraVienne – 25L
0.5 lb – Medium Crystal – 55L
.025 lb – Carafa II (uncrushed – added to mash in sparge only)
1.0 oz. – Tettnanger – 60 min
0.5 oz. – Crystal – 30 min
0.5 oz – Crystal  – 1 min

Yeast: White Labs WLP011 – European Ale

Mash: Single Infusion – 150F for 60 min
Originally I was calling this a brown ale, as the Carafa II was supposed to add enough color to darken it.  The homebrew shop employee advised me not to crush it, however, after my mash was complete, I really don’t think I got much of any color (or any flavor) from the uncrushed Carafa.  Next time I may try at least a light crush. 

Once again, I had trouble with my OG.  This time I overshot (somehow).  I came in around 1.048-1.050… and that was after I added water to the post-boil.  Like I said, I had hoped for 1.045, but what can you do.  I did mash low, so that should help fermentability.

I don’t think I’ve ever used European Ale yeast before… and I’ve never brewed with corn.  So I’m interested to see how this one turns out.  Worst case scenario, I’ll bring it out later in the evening at Fiesta when everyone is getting drunk and won’t know the difference anyways…


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Pale Ale

Posted by Jeff on March 10, 2010

In an unprecidented move, I actually brewed two weekends in a row!  Free time is a glorious thing…

So, for the first analysis… two weeks ago, I brewed an American Pale Ale.  As the weather is starting to warm here, I like to have a crisp and refressing beer on tap.  None fits the bill better than a nice pale ale!  The recipe is a clone of one of my favorites, BJ’s Brewhouse – Piranha Pale Ale.  I got the recipe from someone who claims to have brewed for BJ’s in the past.  Last time I brewed it it was pretty fantastic, so I’m looking forward to having it on tap again.  Here’s the recipe (this is the recipe I made, which is a little different than what I have written down as the actual clone… due to availability of ingredients when I bought them):

BJ’s Brewhouse – PIRANHA PALE ALE Clone
5 Gallons, 60 min Boil, All-Grain
Est O.G. – 1.052
8 lb. – Two Row Pale Malt
1 lb. – Wheat Malt – German (LHBS was out of Domestic Wheat)
0.5 lb – British Medium Crystal – 55L (recipe calls for 60)
0.5 lb – Light Crystal – 10L (recipe calls for 15)
0.75 oz. – Chinook – 60 min
0.75 oz. – Chinook – 30 min
1.0 oz. – Cascade – 10 min
1.0 oz. – Cascade – Dry Hop

Yeast: White Labs WLP001 – California Ale

Mash: Single-Infusion at 154F for 60 min.

Brew day went well.  Ended up a little low on the OG though, at 1.049.  Mashed a little low too, at 149F, which should make the beer more fermentable so it will end up dryer.  May knock the hops out of balance, but I think it will be alright.  

It’s two weeks into fermentation and smelling great!  I’ll be transferring to secondary and dry hopping this weekend.  I’ll update after. 


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Frontier Fiesta Beer?

Posted by Jeff on February 9, 2010

One of the biggest events at UH in the Spring, Frontier Fiesta, is fast approaching.  I brought a few kegs of homebrew a few years back that everyone LOVED.  Which is great, but now every Fiesta I get requests for homebrew from everyone.  Every year I say I’ll brew some next year… well, maybe this year I live up to it.  So… what to brew?

Fiesta is March 25-27.  I’ll probably only bring homebrew out on Saturday, 3/27, so that gives me approximately 6 weeks as of this Saturday to get something brewed, fermented, aged and carbonated.

So, here are some options:

  •  Wheat beer – I can do a traditional hefe or a Blue Moon style wheat.
  • Amber Ale – Simple and easy
  • Chili Beer – Would go GREAT with the BBQ… not sure what base beer would be, though
  • Scottish Ale – Easy to drink 
  • Pale Ale – A nice classic, although not sure how the hops will go over
  • IPA – See above
  • ESB – A nice style, although not everyone appreciates a British beer

So those are a few options.  I think I’ll definitely do a wheat, just because they are crowd pleasers.  

I’ll update as soon as I decide.  In the meantime, feel free to offer suggestions via comments.


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Brew Day! Steam Beer/Cal Common

Posted by Jeff on December 27, 2009

Today I’ll be brewing a Cal Common.  Due to a slight miscalculation, I’ll be making a bit less than normal as I am shooting for 4.5 gallons as opposed to 5.5 gallons.  I’m a little short on gravity and don’t have any DME lying around… so I’ll just have to sacrifice some quantity to for a gravity boost.

Here’s the recipe:

Thirsty Mallard Brewing – Cal Common
All-Grain, 4.5 gallons
60 minute boil, 68% Eff.
EST OG – 1.045
EST IBU – 36

7 lbs – Two Row
0.75 lbs – Crystal 45
0.50 lbs – CaraPils

0.75 oz – Northern Brewer – 8.5%AA – 60 min.
0.50 oz – Northern Brewer – 8.5%AA – 10 min.
0.75 oz – Northern Brewer – 0 min.

Yeast:  WLP810 – San Fransisco Lager

Mash:   Single infusion @ 153F for 60 min

So there you have it.  The hopping is a bit weird, but I wanted to keep the hops on the lower end of the style, so I played with them a bit.  The 0 minute addition was just the hops that would be left over, so I figured I’d throw them in for good measure.  Plus I like the aroma of Northern Brewer, so I think it will be a nice touch to the final beer.

I won’t be fermenting in my temp controlled conical this time.  As it goes, any beer I put in there seems to come out tasting funky.  I’ve had quite a few batches go south and after a process of elimination, the fermenter has to be the cause.  I think it’s because, since I’m so smart, I’ve never replaced the gaskets and I have a funky bacteria living in them.  I’ve ordered new gaskets in hopes that the problem goes away.  I’d hate to not be able to use a $1,500 fermenter… but I also am getting tired of ruined batches.

So this batch will go in a carboy and sit in the cool garage and I’ll just hope for the best.  Anything has to be better than the funky beers I’ve been cranking out lately…

I’ll post with progress after the ferment!


PS – I’ll need a good name for the beer.  I welcome suggestions.

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Brown Ale Update

Posted by Jeff on October 14, 2009

Yesterday I checked my gravity on the Brown Ale.  It was sitting at about 1.012, which is about where I want it.  I gave it a little taste, too.  Tastes fairly good, but seems thin.

I had to remind myself that the beer isn’t even two weeks old yet… so don’t get discouraged!  On the plus side, I didn’t taste any infections or major flavor flaws.  I think after a month of sitting and letting the flavors meld and condition, this beer will turn out just fine.

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