Category Archives: Summer

El Dorado SMASH Tasting

This recipe used 8oz of El Dorado hops; it was my first time using them – they’re super interesting and juicy!


Aroma: All hops – lemon, berries, peach, hint of pine.

Appearance: Pale yellow, cloudy. Medium density white head that leaves excellent lacing.

Mouthfeel: Light, ever so slightly acidic, and refreshing on the palette. Minimal lingering bitterness in the finish despite the level of hopping.

Flavor: All hops again, peach-y citrus all the way. When the beer was young, I thought it had undertones of grape, maybe even plum. These faded after while to only the brighter peach and lemon.

Overall: El Dorado is awesome. A very unique hop that I would compare to a blend of Chinook and Citra – it has the tropical flavors but with some piney sub-flavors. The bright peach and lemon is unlike anything I’ve used. I will for sure be using it in APAs and IPAs to come, maybe even an interesting Saison. Going with all 2-row is the base was a safe bet to really get a feel for the hop in question, but adding a bit of color and body to the beer via dark Munich or a pinch of specialty malts would help to provide a bit more balance; I tried blended 2/3 this and 1/3 of an English Bitter and that worked really well together.


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Filed under Blonde, Hoppy, IPA, SMASH, Summer, Tasting

Galaxy/Cascade APA – Tasting Notes

This won first prize in the American Pale Ale category of the Battle of the Bubbles Homebrew Competition. I’ll add some of the judges notes once they come in. Here’s the recipe.

Appearance: Orange with some burnt highlights. Moderately cloudy. Fluffy white head that leaves good lacing.

Aroma: Grapefruit, mango, grass, and some cookie malts.

Mouthfeel: Medium body up front to a somewhat dry finish.

Flavor: Excellent balance of malt and hops. The hops stick out first with the malts quickly behind, with mostly a breaded malt-forward finish. Clean, bright flavors.

Overall: The flavors of this beer changed several times on tap. At first, with some of the yeast still suspended, it had an amazing peach and hop “juice” flavor – incredibly fruity and bursting with aroma. This faded as the beer clarified, and gave way to the more traditional characteristics of the Galaxy and Cascade hops – tons of citrus and pine. Despite the magnitude of hop flavor, the malts were still wonderfully displayed and provided balance with some prominent graham cracker-like biscuit flavors. Thoroughly enjoyed this, and will be making it again!



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Filed under Hoppy, Pale Ale, Summer, Tasting

Peach Cider w/ Citra – Tasting Notes

The inspiration for this recipe came after tasting the Brewers Best Peach Cider kit at my LHBS. They had it on tap for customers to taste, and, even me not being a big cider guy, I was blown away by how good it was. Bright, juicy, crisp, not overly sweet, and most of all super drinkable. I checked out the packaging in the store, and the ingredients had loads of artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives (womp womp), so I didn’t buy it. I decided to try and make something similar based on ciders and other non-alcoholic things I’ve tasted before.

Wegman’s “natural style” apple juice has made consistently good cider for me. All of their apple juice is 100% juice without preservatives and I think the “natural” label means it’s slightly less filtered compared to its counterpart which is crystal clear. It’s a little cloudy and I think it has a much more rounded and smooth apple flavor.  This, plus WLP001 was the starting point for the recipe.

Then for the peach. The white-grape-peach juice from Wegmans is delicious on its own, too. It’s more peachy than grape in flavor, so I went with this. The citra hops were an afterthought – I thought it needed a little “edge” after tasting the batch halfway through.

Appearance: Extremely pale, like a wit. Slightly hazy. White head that fizzles quickly to nothing.

Aroma: Peach, pear, all-around tropical. Sort of fruity white wine cooler-ish.

Mouthfeel: Fairly thin, but spritzy.

Flavor: Good balance of fruit and acidity.  No single fruit jumps out at first, but the peach comes a little later followed by apple.

Overall: Very nice spring/summer sipper. Almost reminds be of a less sweet, more tart Moscato white wine. Next time I might to catch it before it hits 1.000 gravity to retain some sweetness, but it’s fine dried out like this, too. The ratio of apple to peach juice was pretty spot on – if anything I would go up a little more with the peach (adding some fresh peaches would be nice too), but I think 100% of the peach juice would be too tart given how balanced it is now.


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Filed under Cider, Experimental, Hoppy, Small Batch, Summer, Tasting

Belgian Amber

It’s been a while since I did any kind of Belgian beer. Generally speaking I’m never totally satisfied with how they turn out. Yeast is the biggest factor in that – pitching enough isn’t a problem, but controlling fermentation temps is not my strong suit. Fortunately, this time of the year is good in my house for a 2-stage fermentation – my basement is a cool 62F and first floor is mild 72F. I’m going to try to do this one right – pitch a big starter, start things out cool and then let it finish warm.

  • 11 lb Pils (Dingemans)
  • 0.75 lb Aromatic (Dingemans)
  • 0.75 lb caravienna (Dingemans)
  • 0.25 lb special B (Dingemans)
  • 1 oz Saaz @ 70 30 and 15 minutes.
  • Omega Yeast Labs Belgian A

// Mash-in 2 qt/lb at 148 for 40 minutes, raise to 158 for 10 minutes, mash out at 168. Sparge w/ 3.5 gal to collect 8 gallons 1038 wort. Boil 70 minutes, collect 6 gallons 1048 wort. Chill to 75F, shake to aerate, pitch 1L starter. Brewed 5/27/16. //

5/29/16:  Started fermentation at 62F, seemed to slow down, so brought it upstairs to 72F to finish out and gave it a good shake. Gravity at 1022.

5/31/16: Gravity at 1018. Slightly cloudy, but overall nice flavors. Soft esters with a nice rustic crusty bread flavor. Gave it another good shake.

6/1/16: Racked to keg. Gravity at 1016. No time to crash cool, since this will be for a party in 3 days.

6/6/16:  Came out well! Tasting notes.

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Filed under All-grain, Amber, Balanced, Belgian, Summer

El Dorado SMASH

My LHBS had a deal going on: 1/2 lb El Dorado hops for $11! That’s a sick deal – $1.38/oz for a hop that normally goes for $2.50/oz. So I picked up a pack and made a recipe to really showcase it; huge late hopping.

  • 15 lb US 2-row
  • 0.5 oz El Dorado 60 min
  • 1 oz El Dorado 15 min
  • 1.5 oz El Dorado 10 min
  • 1.5 oz El Dorado 8 min
  • 2 oz El Dorado 6 min
  • 1.5 oz El Dorado dry hop

// Mash-in 1.8 qt/lb for 60 minutes, sparge w/ 3.5 gal 170F water to collect 8 gal 1042 wort. Boil 60 minutes, let hops stand for 25 minutes. Chill to 80F, collect 5 gallons of 1058 wort. Lost about a gallon to hop trub. Racked directly onto cake from the Peach cider. Good fermentation a few hours later. Brewed 5/20/16. //

5/22/16:  Fermentation started to slow down, added dry hops loose to fermentor.

5/25/16:  Gravity at 1011. Crazy hop flavor. Tons of citrus, but it’s kind of lemon-like with some subtle grape, dark fruit that weirdly reminds me of crystal malt. Moved to fridge to crash cool.

5/26/16: Kegged. Tasting notes to come.

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Filed under All-grain, Blonde, Experimental, Hoppy, IPA, SMASH, Summer

Galaxy/Cascade APA

Spring is upon us and I’m craving some hoppy beers. I remember good things about a hoppy pale ale I brewed a few summers ago, so I decided to do a rendition using Galaxy hops since I haven’t used them that much. I also wanted a fairly short brew day, so I decided to try a minimal sparge technique with a 5 gallon BIAB method. Brewed 4/23/16.

  • 12 lb 2-row pale
  • 2 lb Munich 10L (Breiss)
  • 0.3 lb Crystal 60
  • 0.25 Cascade, 0.5 oz Galaxy FWH
  • 0.5 Cascade, 1 oz Galaxy 20 min
  • 0.5 Cascade, 1 oz Galaxy 10 min
  • 0.75 Cascade, 1.5 oz Galaxy flameout
  • Wyeast London ale III

// Mash-in 2.1 qt/lb (7.5 gal) at 154 for 40 minutes, dunk grain bag in 1.5 gal 170F water for sparge. Collect around 7.75 gal 1040 wort. Boil 60 minutes, add flameout hops and let stand for 30 minutes at 170F. Chill to 75F. Collect around 5 gallons (about 1 gallon leftover of hop/trub) 1051 wort. Rack directly onto yeast cake from pale jaryllo. //

// Water: 4 tsp Gypsum to mash. //

4/24/16:  Fermentation was quick (started almost immediately after pitching) and out of control – after just one day it appeared to be close to finished. Gravity at 1013 and tastes wonderful. Slightly dry, but crisp and hoppy. Still very cloudy. Added 1 oz of Galaxy dry hops to the primary.

4/25/16:  Transferred carboy to fridge to crash cool. Tasting notes.

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Filed under All-grain, Hoppy, Pale Ale, Summer

American Farmhouse Saison


I’ve been dreaming of a crisp, dry saison for a little while now. I heard about WLP670 – American Farmhouse Blend – and got pretty intrigued about what kind of beer it would create. Some reviews have said that it is slightly cleaner (in terms of esters/phenols) than a Belgian strain, but does produce some funk/barnyard. One half gets the 670, the other gets a single vial of WLP656 Brett Brux.

  • 21.8 lb Avengard Pils
  • 0.5 lb Avengard Cara-8
  • 0.25 lb Acidulated malt
  • 1.5 oz Palisade (60 min)
  • 1.5 oz Palisade (30 min)
  • WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend
  • WLP565 Brett Brux

// Mash-in 1.6 qt/lb at 146-148 for 45 min, 158 for 10 min, 168 for 2 min. boil 90 min. Chill to 82 (coldest i could get it with the ground water in summer). Oxygenate with 60s pure O2 in each carboy. Collect 9.5 gal 1051 wort. Pitched starter of 670 into 5 gal, straight vial of the brett into 4.5 gal. Brewed 8/8/15. //

// Water: 2.5 tsp gypsym, 1.5 tsp CaCl2 in mash, 2.25/1.25 in sparge. //

Good fermentation within 8 hours of pitching the 670. Brett didn’t get started til within about 2 days.

8/15/15   Fermentation slowed quite a bit in the 670 (one bubble every 20s or so), took a sample at 1012. Really nice flavor – Great saison esters (not as perfume-y as the Belgian strain, but still very solid), and some light breaded malts. Getting a slight hefeweizen-like aroma as well – clove maybe? Earthy, herbal hops in the background with a slightly dry finish. Decided to let it go for another week since i’m going on travel for a week, and it could afford to dry out and clear up just little more. Brett still chugging away.

8/22/15  Both carboys stopped fermenting almost completely. 670 is at 1007. Similar flavors and aroma but crystal clear and super crisp malt flavor with the yeast complimenting it really well. Can’t wait to taste this chilled and carbed. 565 is still very cloudy, but took a sample anyway. Incredible aroma – slightly sour/funky with crisp apple and lemon, almost like a Berliner Weiss but less tart. Fairly sweet, but similar flavors to the aroma. Gravity at 1021 so it still needs time to work. On its way to a something spectacular, though!


WLP670 Version:

Appearance: Slight haze at first, but after two weeks in the keg it was brilliantly clear. Golden/yellow. Fluffy white head that doesn’t last very long.

Aroma: Slight peppery saison yeast aroma with a strong presence of bread pils malt and a hint of noble hops. Kind of reminds me of a pilsner. Not nearly as perfume-y and ester-y as a Belgian strain, but still has a light spicy character that reminds me of a Belgian single.

Flavor: Clean malts and saison yeast up front with a hint of hops midway through a sip. Clean dry finish that lingers with a little bitterness. Similar to the aroma – a pleasant crisp farmhouse style beer with more of a clean pils feeling rather than a saison, but there’s a touch of the spicy saison character that brings it back home.

Mouthfeel: Light and crisp, but still feels like a fair amount of body despite the low finishing gravity.

Overall: I really liked this strain of yeast but in the end it didn’t produce my ideal saison. Not enough yeast character as the classic Belgian Dupont strain, but I also fermented fairly cool and only gave it 2 weeks in the primary before kegging. I’ve read that if you give it longer there’s actually some Brettanomyces present that will start to eat away at residual sugars and create a more complex funk. That would be awesome, but I really wanted to have something on tap sooner than later. Either way, this produced a very clean Belgian style beer farmhouse beer that was crisp and very enjoyable in the summer months. The simple malt bill worked great so that the breaded pils malt and hops could also shine.

WLP565 Version:

Appearance: Super cloudy, a murky straw yellow. Pillow-y white head that last for about 30s.

Aroma: Slight funk, lemon, bright citrus without a particularly distinguishable fruit that I can think of.

Flavor: Very light pils malt and some barnyard accompanied by a similar lemon/citrus from the aroma. Not much funk. Slight acidity which adds a nice overall brightness to the beer, maybe even slight mineral-y flavor. Hops come through a little in the finish, but overall contribute some moderate bitterness and add to the dryness.

Mouthfeel: Thin and dry with spritsy carbonation.

Overall: Tastes like this could be the base of a great sour beer, but it’s not very sour and/or funky having used all Brett B.  In general it’s a fairly uninteresting Brett beer compared to the one i did previously with more American hops. The main observation I can glean from the comparison (since they were the same yeast and basically the same malts) is the difference in hops. This beer keep it pretty clean, crisp and earthy in terms of addition times and flavor, whereas the other showcased some big fruity Mosaic hops. Personally I think the Mosaic beer’s hop flavor and Brett funk complimented each other really well.

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Filed under All-grain, Balanced, Funky / Sour, Saison, Summer