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Update – Black Betty v2.0 & Blonde Ale

Posted by Jeff on July 7, 2012

First off, I wanted to update on my previous post about Black Betty v2.0.  I freaking LOVE this beer.  Seriously.  I’m not even mad about how the water chemistry may have affected this beer, because I like it just the way it is!  I think this recipe is done tweaking and will get rebrewed for the Dixie Cup in the fall.

On to sadder news… I tried to brew a blonde ale for a trip to a river house with some friends.  Lo and behold, when I went to transfer from conical to keg, I found that I left the airlock stopper off the lid.


I hoped for the best but expected the worst… and I was greeted with a lovely layer of infection growing atop my beautiful blonde (ale).  Unfortunately, this beer was not going to be palatable to my friends going with me to the river house.  On a positive note, the infection wasn’t tasting too bad (yet).  It was still a bit thin and watery, but I think it will sour up nicely.  Maybe a nice, Berlinner-Blonde.  In any case, I never throw beer out… always give it some time to see where it goes.

I bought ingredients and will be re-brewing the blonde this weekend, hopefully with better results…

Here’s the recipe:

Hot Blonde On The River

5.5 Gallons – 60 min. Boil
Est. OG – 1.049
Est. IBU – 18.2

10 lbs – Two-Row (US)
0.5 lb – Crystal 15L (UK)
0.5 lb – Domestic Wheat Malt

1.0 oz. Tettnang – 4.8% AA – 60 min.

WLP001 California Ale – with 1200mL starter


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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: Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam) – Black IPA

Posted by Jeff on June 7, 2011

Well, I vowed not to brew again until I completed my new brewing rig… and for the most part, I completed it.  Sort of.

Sunday was to be the day.  A quick water tight test of the HLT unfortunately failed.  My thermometer and valve were both leaking.  Given that this is an electric HLT, any leak is a huge issue.  So, no HLT would be used today.  I decided to use the boil kettle as my HLT and just pump the hot water into the Mash Tun. (Side note: I learned that you will lose 8-10 degrees of temperature that way.)

So, as alluded to, my mash temperature was low.  I was shooting for 152ºF but ended up at 148ºF.  So looks like it will be a little lighter bodied than I had anticipated.

I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with my new Banjo burner.  She pumps out some BTU’s… and quiet as a mouse.  It almost didn’t feel like I was brewing without the roar of the hurricane burner.

It also took me a while to figure out the best configuration for hoses and pump speed.  I’ll need a few more brew sessions to get it all figured out.  As soon as the HLT is repaired I will take some pictures of the final product.  Oh, also one of my GFCI outlets popped and won’t reset.  Not sure what that is about.  GFCI plugs aren’t cheap, so hopefully I don’t have to replace it.

Alright, here’s the recipe:


Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam) – Black IPA

5 Gallons, 90 Minute Boil
EST OG: 1.070  EST IBU: 94

11.5 lbs – Two Row
1.13 lbs – Carafa II
1.13 lbs – Dark Munich Malt (Germany)
0.75 lb – Wheat Malt (Germany)
0.50 lb – Cara 45

0.30 oz – Colombus – FWH
0.50 oz – Colombus – 60 min
0.50 oz – Magnum – 60 min
0.40 oz – Amarillo – 30 min
0.50 oz – Cascade – 15 min
0.50 oz – Cascade – 2 min
0.75 oz – Cascade – 0 min
1.25 oz – Amarillo – Dry Hop After 10 days

Yeast: WLP001 California Ale – 1 pint starter made


My gravity ended up at 1.072, so I hit the mark just fine.  I had to use hard water (hose water) so I’m not sure how harsh that will make the hops.  I would have rather used some clean water, but oh well.

If this one is good enough I’ll enter it in the upcoming Alamo Drafthouse Homebrew Competition.  Here’s hopin’!


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Arctic Blast Porter

Posted by Jeff on February 12, 2011

So last weekend I did end up brewing and decided to go with the Robust Porter.  I’ve decided to call it “Arctic Blast Porter” because of the ridiculous winter weather we endured recently.

In any case… the recipe is based on a self devised clone recipe for Ranger Creek Brewing Co.’s Mesquite Smoked Porter. After emailing with their brewer, I got a fairly good idea of the recipe (and some awesome insight into his process and mental attitude when developing a recipe).  I decided to brew the base beer first and in the future I’ll smoke the malt for the true clone.  Here’s the recipe:


Arctic Blast Porter (Robust Porter)

6 Gallons, 68% Efficiency
Est. OG = 1.068
Est. IBU = 17.2
Est. SRM = 44.3

13.25 lbs – Crisp Maris Otter
1.5 lbs – Crystal 60
0.87 lb – Chocolate Malt
0.75 lb – Black Patent

0.75 oz. – Fuggles – 4.8%AA – 60 min
0.50 oz. – Fuggles – 4.8%AA – 30 min
0.75 oz. – Tettnang – 0 min.

Wyeast 1098 – British Ale – Ferment at 68F for 10 days, 70F for 4 days.

150F for 60 min.


It smells fairly good in the airlock.  I hope the Tettnang wasn’t too much.  I’m hoping for a nice roasty, chocolatey, and coffee flavors.  If it turns out alright I may enter it into the Bluebonnet Brew Off homebrew competition.  I’ll be sure to keep the blog updated about that…

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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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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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Holiday Pumpkin Spice Ale

Posted by Jeff on December 8, 2009

It’s like drinking pumpkin pie!  If pumpkin pie kind of tasted like beer.  And had 7.5% ABV.  And was carbonated.   But I digress…

This is my second year to brew this annual treat.  Last year it was really well received and, quite frankly, it was one of the best beers I have ever made.  It’s a surefire holiday hit!  Oh, and this beer is best when fresh… I’m talking within 2 weeks of bottling.  So it’s a good one to make around Thanksgiving and have ready for Christmas!

I brewed this beer on Black Friday and will have it ready to drink on Christmas Eve.  The only thing I need to make it complete would be a catchy name.  Let me know if you have any ideas.  Here’s the recipe:

Holiday Pumpkin Spiced Ale
Thirsty Mallard Brewing
5.5 gallons, 90 min Boil
Est. OG – 1.070 (65% eff.)

9 lbs – Maris Otter
4 lbs – Munich Malt (20L)
2 lbs – Aromatic Malt
10 oz. – CaraMunich (55L)
5 lbs – Cooked Butternut Squash (peeled) – 90 Min
0.5 lb – Dark Brown Sugar – 15 min

1.25 oz. – Fuggles (UK) 4.6%AA – 60 min

1 Tbsp – Ginger Root (Fresh ground) – 5 min
1 Tsp – Nutmeg – 5 min
3 Tsp – Saigon Cinammon – 5 min
4 Tsp – Vanilla Extract – Secondary

Yeast: White Labs WLP002 English Ale (starter made)

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

To prepare squash:  Day before, cut into cubes, sprinkle with brown sugar and cook in oven at 300F for 2-3 hours or until soft.  Peel away skins and put pulp in a bowl.  (DO NOT ADD ANY SKINS) Store in fridge until brewday.

Notes:  Ferment at 68F for 10 days, move to secondary and add vanilla and any additional spices (to taste).  Bottle and carbonate on the low end to allow rich flavors to come through.

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Brown Ale Brew Day

Posted by Jeff on October 5, 2009

Saturday I brewed up a brown ale.  It was a nice overcast day…  perfect for brewing!  Here’s the recipe:

Brown Ale – 5.75 gallons
EST OG – 1.052

11 lbs. Two Row (US)
0.75 lbs – Crystal 55
0.75 lbs – Special B
6.0 oz – Chocolate Malt (350L)
0.5 oz – Black Patent (500L)

1.5 oz. – East Kent Goldings – 60 min
0.6 oz. – Willamette – 10 min
0.6 oz. – Domestic Hallertauer – 0 min

WLP002 English Ale yeast (starter made)

Mash = 153F
Ferment = 68F for 10 days, raise to 72 for 4 days.

Originally I had intended to brew a Moose Drool clone, recipe from The Brewing Network’s Jamil Show – Can You Brew It.  Unfortunately, the homebrew shop was out of a few ingredients, so I had to make substitutions.  Also, I forgot to buy water, so I used the water from my hose, which is some pretty hard water.  Hopefully it turns out alright.

Brew day went perfectly.  I hit all my numbers and everything seemed to go well.   As of Sunday, fermentation had kicked off and was going strong.  This was my first time to use a “real” starter, and it seemed to go well. 

This beer should be ready to drink in November.  Now I just gotta think what to name it and come up with a kegerator label.  A few names I’m kicking around are, “Duck Pond”, “Lil’ Brown Duck” or “Ugly Ducking”.  I’ll take any suggestions…

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The Belgian Strong Dark That Wasn’t

Posted by Jeff on September 17, 2009

Updating my beer blog has been quite the chore… honestly I just forget it’s here!  I’ll add a favorite link to it, or something, and try to update more frequently.

On to the brewing news…

I brewed what was supposed to be a Belgian Strong Dark Ale a few weeks ago (August 29th, to be exact).  I combined it with a club meeting/brew-in at my house.  (By the way, my homebrew club is the Cane Island Alers based out of Katy, Texas.)

Here’s the recipe I used:

Belgian Strong Dark Ale – 5 Gallons

14.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 85.94 %
0.50 lb Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 3.07 %
0.38 lb Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 2.33 %
0.25 lb Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 1.53 %
0.16 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 0.98 %
0.50 oz Magnum [14.00 %] (60 min) Hops 30.3 IBU
0.25 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] (15 min) Hops 1.4 IBU
0.25 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] (0 min) Hops
1.00 lb Belgian Candi Syrup (80.0 SRM) Sugar 6.14 %
1 Pkgs Abbey Ale (White Labs #WLP530) Yeast-Ale  
1 Pkgs Trappist Ale (White Labs #WLP500) Yeast-Ale

So, somewhere along the line (I think the sparge) I screwed up and my efficiency went to hell.  The OG was supposed to be in the high 1.080’s but ended up at 1.068.  In my defense, I was hosting a club meeting and drinking high alcohol beers while brewing.  Not a good combination for success!

I figured I’d fix it later, so I put it in the fermenter, pitched the yeast and went on not worrying about it.  The next day I contemplated adding some DME or some more Belgian candi syrup to bump up the gravity… but in the end, I decided, “Ah screw it.  Let it ferment out and call it a Dubbel.”

And so I did.  After 2 weeks of fermentation it was at 1.010, so it finished out just fine (and at 7.6%ABV).  Tastes alright, but it’s still quite young.  We shall see, I suppose!  Relax.  Don’t worry.  Have a homebrew…

Anyways, I dubbed it the Dubbel Duck and I made this label for my kegerator:  CLICK HERE

Hopefully this weekend I’ll transfer it to secondary and keg it in a week or so.  I figure I’ll give it 3-4 months before tapping, to let it try and reach full potential.

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