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Update – 2/26/2014

Posted by Jeff on February 27, 2014

True to form… 6 months and I remember to update this blog.  Onward and upward…

Ok, where did I leave off last time… Ducktoberfest.  It didn’t turn out.  Had a fermentation issue that made the finished beer taste like I blended it with some butterscotch candies in secondary.  I powered through about 6 pints before I called it and announced the time of death.  Poured one (keg) out for the dead homies.

Ok, after that I made a beer which was inspired by Heretic’s Evil Twin.  I use the term “inspired” very lightly, because I’m certain the folks at Heretic wouldn’t want whatever that was that I brewed being associated with Evil Twin.  No fermentation issues this time.  But I think hop and malt substitutions destroyed whatever it is I was trying to make.  It found it’s way to the sewer as well, although I was able to kill half a keg.  Usually when I had already been drinking and really didn’t care about flavor anymore.

After that second failed beer I was starting to really hate my brewing self.  Nothing can quite put you out of the mood to brew like screwing up consecutive batches.  Well, then I decided I was going to make a Brown Sugga Clone.  I love that beer and have wanted to brew it for a while now.  Also, my homebrew club was doing a group buy on 5 gallon whiskey barrels from Balcones Distilling, and I figured that a 10% beer like that would be a perfect whiskey barrel beer.   So, I bought the ingredients, and thought about it, and came to the realization that I was really going to need a lot more yeast to really get this 10% beer fermented.  I figured I really should use the yeast do a small beer first, then pitch that yeast cake.  So, since the yeast was an English strain, I opted for one of my favorite (or favourite) styles, bitter.

Which brings us to the ESB.  I brewed it.  Fermented it.  Kegged it.  Then waited for my inevitable failure.  Alas, I was disappointed!  The beer wasn’t just good, it was damn good!  My faith in myself was, at least temporarily, restored!

So now I have the yeast and ingredients for the 10% beer… aaaaaand I get lazy and don’t brew it.  And then my daughter is born.  If you have never had a child then you probably don’t understand the sheer lack of willpower (or time) you have to do anything when tending to a newborn.  And so the ingredients sat.  And sat.  And sat.  3 months later, I finally brewed it.

Let’s explain some of the fun.  First, the ingredients are all old, at this point (they also got nibbled on by mice).  I forgot to put my false bottom in the mash tun, so after the mash, I had to dump out the grain, install the bottom, put the grain back, and then recirculate.  Needless to say, the beer is a bit cloudy.  Then, before my boil, I checked the gravity and found I was quite a bit low.  So I threw in as much DME as I had on hand to get it closer to where it needed to be.  Then I looked on the boil additions and realized I forgot to add the brown sugar.  Which would explain why the gravity was staggeringly low… and now it would be staggeringly high.  So… sugar in.  Check gravity.  Dilute back down to where I am supposed to be.  Then I let it boil for 15 minutes to help get all my number right, then threw in my 60 minute hops.  Wait… this sheet says first hops go in at 90 minutes.  This is supposed to be a 90 minute boil.  Of course it is.  Glad I just wasted time and boiled that extra 15 minutes.

The rest of the brewday went fine.  Relatively speaking.   Beer went into the carboy and the growler full of yeast went in.

The next evening I had expected the growler of yeast to cause an explosive fermentation of this 1.097 bomb.  It was not.  Mind you, the yeast is now 3 months old (although it was washed and kept at 31F.  So, to recap.  Old ingredients, mash issues, boil issues, fermentation issues.  I am curious to see if this will be an abomination, drinkable, or miraculously fantastic.

So that’s the beer update.  I have more on the mead front, but this post has been long, so I’ll wrap it up.

Until next time!  (I’m putting a button on my Favorites toolbar, so hopefully I won’t continue to forget)


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Update! ZOMG!!1!!!

Posted by Jeff on November 5, 2012

Once again, reader, I return.  Fear not, for I bring updates!  Be not unwise unto them be… thine… thee… fortuitous in mine gracing of thee.  … I’m not sure where I was going with that.  Or why.

Anyways… here’s the update.  Actually, quote a lot has happened since my last posting… so brace yourself for a smattering of updates.

Hot Blonde On The River, Blonde Ale – You may remember this beer caught an infection.  Well, I decided to dump some peach extract in there and it actually made a REALLY good Peach Blonde ale.  The slight sour from the infection really paired well with the sweetness of the extract.  It shows to go ya that where there is a will, there is a way.

Black Betty v2.0, Black IPA – Officially polished this keg off.  It was an amazing beer and I recommend it to anyone.  Unfortunately, I did NOT rebrew and enter it in Dixie Cup… because I got busy (lazy).

I’d Tap That, Blonde Ale – This was the re-brew of Hot Blonde.  It came out well, but I just don’t particularly care for blondes (ales, that is).  Everyone else seems to enjoy it, though.

Ok, so those are the last beers you knew about (because you faithfully follow this blog).  Here are the new ones:

Munich Dunk-ALE – This was an experiment.  I took a Munich Dunkel recipe and tried it with German Ale yeast.  So far, the result has pretty much sucked.  It has a green apple flavor to it that isn’t pleasant.  We’ll see if it ages out.  I have one friend that likes it, so, if anything, he can just finish off the keg for me.

Sex Panther, Black Belgian IPA – Ok, this one I made for the No Label Brewing Co.’s pro-am competition.  Basically it is my Black Betty v2.0 with Belgian Yeast.  I used a  blend of WLP500 and WLP520… not on purpose, out of necessity.  It’s a good beer, but I didn’t have time to properly carbonate, so I used the “crank up the CO2 and shake the shit out of it” technique.  Hopefully it ends up fizzy enough to keep the judges attention.  I’m hoping the witty name and funny label help propel it forward.  (See below)   It is currently on tap.

Owen’s Oat Brown Ale – Yep, decided to pull this recipe out and give it another shot.  I enjoyed it the first time, but this time added a touch of chocolate malt to try and get it a bit more chocolatey.  Also, I toasted the oats this time.  I hear that helps give it a toasty flavor, which sounds good.  That one will be drinkable by the end of November.

Honeycrisp Cider – So I finally dumped the bad mead in my 2.5 gallon keg and decided I need to fill it… and cider sounded like a great idea.  I found some organic 100% honeycrisp apple juice at the HEB and, after tasting, decided that would make a great cider.  The yeast I used was a few days expired, so we’ll see how that affected things.  I’ll probably have that one ready around Christmas.

So that’s where we stand.  I’m thinking of brewing a Black Barleywine at the end of the year (to be enjoyed next year).  We shall see if that comes to fruition.

Until next time, cheers!

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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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Update 4-14-2012

Posted by Jeff on April 14, 2012

I know.  I am quite inept at continuous updates to this blog… but I try.  Honestly.  For starters, I have updated my “What’s On Tap” page.  Secondly, I’ve added a picture of my completed brewstand to the Photos page (a full album of the build can be found at the link a few posts back).  And thirdly, I’m here to update you!

Ok, well, the last update was back in November after Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam).  She was a great beer.  I did send it off to a competition, but the judges said it wasn’t hoppy enough.  I disagree and thought it had a nice balance, but, such is the way.  Anyway, that beer has long since been tapped out.

Back in December I brewed my famous Pumpkin Ale.  Not the BCS one I did last year, but the good recipe from 2009 & 2010.  The one where I actually cut up and roast pumpkin to add to the beer.  It turned out great, although I brewed it late and still had the majority of a keg left after the holiday season had passed (and by then, who’s really in the mood for pumpkin beer?).

Ok, then I brewed the Tallow mead with my homebrew club in January.  February I made a “dark steam ale” which was an experimental recipe to make a black steam ale, but it didn’t turn out well.  Then I brewed an imperial chocolate coffee oatmeal stout… which turned out just phenomenal (more on that later).   Then recently I’ve brewed my American Pale Ale and just last week brewed a black IPA.

So that’s the update.  I’m going to call this post a win and start a new one to talk about individual beers.



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Update: 11-22-2011

Posted by Jeff on November 22, 2011

Greetings all ye who happened to stumble upon this site.  Even you, guy who was just trying to Google pictures of parched fowl and somehow landed here…

A lot has happened since my last update, so I feel obliged to tie up some loose ends.  First of all, the Black Betty turned out fan-damn-tastic!  The malt had a good subtle roast note and was complex enough to keep my attention and then… BLAM… hops.  I just kicked this keg the other day.  For my first foray into the Black IPA series, I think it went well.  I did enter it in the Bluebonnet Brew Off, where it got good scores, but didn’t win any awards.  Judges said they thought it needed more hop presence.  I disagree.  I like it just the way it is.

After that, myself and a friend of mine who is a fellow homebrewer and CIA club member, Caleb, decided to team up and brew a couple beers for the Dixie Cup.  We had aspirations of winning team awards, but it was not meant to be.

In total we brewed:

Once You Go Schwarz, You Never Go Pils – Schwarzbier:  Caleb and I love this beer, but the judges did not.  That was a dissapointment.  I think it averaged a 28.

Why The Helles Not? – Munich Helles:  Judges liked this one, and it made it to the second round… but no medal.  Averaged 36, I believe.

Alt’erior Motives – Dusseldorf Alt:  We brewed this one to play the odds (least entered beer style last year).  It also fared poorly.  Averaged 26, I think.

Uncle Pliny Touched Me – Imperial IPA:  A Pliny clone.  Surprisingly, the judges thought it was too hoppy… averaged 32, if I remember.

All in all, it was fun to brew some different styles and brewing with 2 people tends to make brewing easier (especially bottling day).  We split what was left after the entries were in and I’m just about tapped out of everything.  So… time to get back to brewin’!

Last week I brewed my Holiday Pumpkin Ale.  I’ll dedicate my next blog post to that one as I feel this post has gone on long enough.  I’d like to brew on Friday (off for Thanksgiving) but can’t decide on what to brew.  I’m kinda feeling like something with chocolate in it.  Or, Bugeater’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Amber.

Stay tuned for updates…



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Tasty’s Amber Update

Posted by Jeff on May 26, 2010

Last Friday I transferred my batch of Tasty’s Amber to a secondary/bright tank and added the 2 oz. of Centennial dry hops.

Gravity was looking good, down to around 1.010-12. Right where I wanted it.

As for the taste… not too bad at all! I was a little concerned about the hops in this one. There was no 60 minute hop addition, so all the bitterness had to come from flavor/aroma hops. The IBU’s were only in the twenties… which I wasn’t sure about for an American Amber. But, all in all, the bitterness was just perfect!

I’m excited to sample the aroma after kegging. I’ve never dry hopped with 2 ounces before (and especially not with hops as pungent as Centennial) so I’m curious about the hop aroma and what that will add to perceived bitterness.

It’s getting kegged on Saturday (5/29) so it should be ready to drink by next weekend! Cheers!

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Frontier Fiesta Beer – Success!

Posted by Jeff on March 30, 2010

Another year of Frontier Fiesta is in the books… thank God.

So, as luck would have it, my Frontier Fiesta Amber actually turned out really nice!  I guess it just needed a week to let the flavors meld a bit.  I’ll bet that after a week or two more it would have been even better, but this beer was born for a purpose… and it’s purpose was served.

Originally I thought the beer was thin and watery… but, once again, I have to remind myself that you can’t judge a beer immediately after fermentation!  It was a very nice smooth drinking beer.  Aroma was fairly neutral with some sweetness.  Visually, the beer was a murky amber orange color.  I think the yeast I used didn’t flocculate out very well, but whereas it was murky, I think the suspended yeast gave it a hint of character and mouthfeel.

As for the taste… I thought it was a fine beer.  Very unassuming and very crowd pleasing.  There wasn’t any residual sweetness (great for a beer you are drinking during a warm day at a BBQ cookoff) and the hops were just enough to keep the beer in balance, but not come through on the flavor too much.  There was a small hop bitterness lingering on the back of the tounge in the aftertaste that one person said was reminiscent of lime.

All in all, the beer was just what I wanted it to be.  A very easy drinking, well balanced crowd pleasing beer that you could enjoy multiple pints of.  I didn’t want to shock anyone with hops or blow their minds with caramel/toffee flavors.

Everyone who drank it (except the one guy who made the comment about the lime flavor) really enjoyed it!  Looks like I may keep that recipe on hand for future Frontier Fiestas!

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Update – 2/8/10

Posted by Jeff on February 8, 2010

Had a big day yesterday… I had 2 beers sitting in secondary, ready to be kegged… just needed an open tap in the kegerator.

Well, the Oatmeal Stout finally kicked (last pint was bottled to send to my cousin for a homebrew exchange), so that freed up a tap!  So yesterday I transferred both beers to keg and went ahead and put one of them on tap.

So… here’s where I stand with what’s on tap:

1) Dubbel Duck – Belgian Dubbel Ale
2) Duck Pond Brown – Brown Ale
3) MallardSteam – Steam Beer
4) Spiced Amber Ale

The “Spiced Amber” is actually my holiday pumpkin beer… but, due to the funky off flavor it got during fermentation, it tastes more like a spiced amber ale than a pumpkin beer… so I’m calling it that.

On deck I have a keg of Darkwing Duck – Dark Ale.  Just a nice little extract beer I made for fun.  (See previous blog posts for more info).

Seeing as how the other kegs on tap are fairly full, I’m not sure when Darkwing will get on tap.  Need help draining the reserves… any takers?

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Wort’s Happening With Thirsty Mallard

Posted by Jeff on January 27, 2010

Wort’s happening… see what I did there?!  See!?  Because “worts” sounds kinda like “what’s”!  So original…

Ok… so the Steam Beer is in the secondary.  Actually, it needs to get into the kegerator, I’ve just been too busy to move it.  But that’s alright… a little aging won’t hurt it.  Upon transferring to secondary I gave it a taste and it was pretty damn good!  I’m really looking forward to having this beer on tap.  I’m considering filtering it… but I think, in true Steam Beer tradition, I won’t.

I’ve been mulling over names for the beer.  I like MallardSteam and Old Prospector.  I’d like to make the name/label to have a connection to the California Gold Rush of 1849 since that’s the origin of steam beer. 

I also brewed another beer… something nostalgic.  Check my next blog post for that update. 

Alright… so as for inventory… right now on tap I’ve got Dubbel Duck (Belgian Dubbel), Duck Pond Brown Ale, Thirsty Mallard Oatmeal Stout and technically the spiced holiday ale with the funky off flavor is on tap, but probably won’t be for long.

The Oatmeal Stout is a few pints from kicking.  I’m going to try to bottle what’s left for competition (Bluebonnet Brew Off) to free up space for the Steam Beer. 

So that’s wort’s happening!  (HA!)

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Holiday Spiced Ale Update

Posted by Jeff on January 7, 2010

As I mentioned in my previous post… something is wrong with my beers.  I’ve changed alot of variables and I think I’ve found the culprit… but in the tangle… I lost some good beers.

The Holiday Spiced Ale has fallen in those ranks.

Last year this beer was a delight!  It was smooth and delicious and tasted like drinking a pumpkin pie beer!  This year… well… this year it tastes like a spiced hot mess.

On the plus side, it’s the same off flavor I’ve had in most of my recent beers, so I know there is a consistent problem… I just have to find it.

In the meantime, I’m letting the Holiday Spiced Ale age for a while in hopes that it will become drinkable… but I’ve got low hopes.  Looks like a batch I’ll be giving to the dead homies.

Bah humbug!

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