Things are really starting to go sour.

Barrel Aged Flanders Red Sour Ale Bottles

We nerded out on this one and made cheesy labels.

Last December, we had the privilege of joining a handful of fellow hombrewers in filling a Leopold Brothers Blackberry Whiskey Barrel with Flanders Red Ale. This wasn’t just any normal barrel, though. This beautiful barrel was previously use for creating New Belgium Brewing Company‘s award-winning sour beers (La Folie, Le Terroir, e.g.). Loaded with all-star bacteria, the barrel still resides at New Belgium, watched over lovingly by Lauren Salazar and her team of experienced sour-makers. Two weeks ago we pulled the beer out of the barrel and this weekend we finally tasted and bottled it. I’m not going to lie – it’s damn good.

Flanders Red Ale goes into the barrel at New Belgium

Filling the barrel in New Belgium’s Foeder Forest, December 2013

This was only our second sour beer attempt (we have two more fermenting  – one on cherries, and a dark sour wheat) and the entire process is still a little new for us.  For me, one of the craziest things about souring beer is that you intentionally infect them. I supposed it’s a little like cheese, but somehow it feels weirder. Anyway, this is how the top of our beer looked in the carboy before we bottled:

Pellicle formation on a Flanders Red Sour Ale

A beautiful pellicle on the top of the ale.


I know a handful of homebrewers who do not take part in their local homebrew clubs and, honestly, I just don’t understand it. The staggering amount I have learned from my fellow brewers, the opportunities the club presents (like the one at New Belgium), and the friends I’ve made by regularly attending meetings, brew days, competitions and events make it one of the most valuable memberships I’ve ever had. Thank you, Liquid Poets Society!

We’re looking forward to cracking on these bottles open every couple of months to see how they age – and we’re already scheming on how we can make more.




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SumoCitrus III

20 lbs Maris Otter (77%)
3lbs 2 Row (11.5%)
3lbs Caramel Malt (30L) (11.5%)

2 oz Centennial Leaf 11% AA (60 minutes)
2 oz Centennial Leaf 11% AA (50 minutes)
4 oz Cascade Leaf 7.7% AA (45 minutes)
1 oz Centennial Leaf 11% AA (45 minutes)
1 oz Cascade Leaf 7.7% AA (10 minutes)
1 oz Centennial Leaf 11% AA (5 minutes)
1 oz Cascade Leaf 7.7% AA (0 minutes)
2 oz Simcoe Leaf – one fermenter (Dry Hop 5 days)
2 oz Citra Leaf – one fermenter (Dry Hop 5 days)

Yeast: Equinox Brewing American Ale Yeast (1L)

2 tab Whirlfloc (15 Minutes)
1 tsp Yeast Nutrient (10 Minutes)

Mash Steps:

Strike – 36.5 Quarts at 165 degrees for 60 minutes
Fly Sparge at 168 degrees

Fermentation Temperature: 70 F

Brewhouse efficiency at 72%. 90 Minute Boil. 10 gallons split and fermented in two 7.5 gallon SS Brewtech Stainless Steel Conicals.

Original Gravity: 1.062
Gravity at Rack (5 days in primary) – 1.010
Final Gravity: 1.010
ABV: 6.8%
IBUS (est): 135

Brewed: May 3, 2014
Brewed: July 23, 2014

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Imperial Brown Ale


12 lbs Pale Malt
2 lbs Aromatic Malt
0.5 lbs Crystal Malt (20 SRM)
0.5 lbs Crystal Malt (80 SRM)
0.5 lbs Crystal Malt (120 SRM)
0.13 lbs Roasted Barley (600 SRM)

1 oz Northern Brewer Whole Leaf 12.4%AA (60 minutes)
1 oz Northern Brewer Whole Leaf 12.4%AA (20 minutes)

Yeast: English Special Bitter (Wyeast 1768)

1 tab Whirlfloc (15 Minutes)
0.5 tsp Yeast Nutrient (10 Minutes)

Mash Steps:

Strike – 154 degrees for 60 minutes (19.54 quarts)
Batch sparge at 170 degrees (12.50 quarts)

Fermentation Temperature: 66 F

OG is light. Was shooting for 1.072. Wort tastes good, though. Not sure this will end up being an Imperial. We’ll see.

Original Gravity: 1.062
Final Gravity: 1.12
ABV: 6.6%

Brewed: December 14, 2013

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Belgian Pale Ale

Recipe by: Taft Canyon Brewers

4.5 lbs Pale Ale
3.25 lbs Light Munich
1 lb Aromatic Malt
0.5 lbs Caramunich III

0.5 oz Sterling Pellets 7.9%AA (60 minutes)
0.25 oz Sterling Pellets 7.9%AA (20 minutes)
Aiming for 18.2 IBU

Yeast: Belgium Ale (WLP550)

0.5 tab Whirlfloc (15 Minutes)
1 lb Candi Syrup – Golden(10 Minutes)
0.5 tsp Yeast Nutrient (10 Minutes)
1 Star Anise (whole) (5 Minutes)
0.5 oz Coriander Seed (crushed) (5 Minutes)
0.5 oz Sour Orange Peel (dried) (5 Minutes)

Mash Steps:

Strike – 153 degrees for 60 minutes (13.4 quarts)
Mash Out – Boiling with 10 Minute rest (7.94 quarts)
Batch sparge at 170 degrees (12 quarts)

Fermentation Temperature: 66 F

Second attempt at a Belgian Pale Ale.  All went well until:

On the bright side, I quickly learned how to make a blow-off set up out of some extra keg tubing a 1/2 gallon glass milk bottle.

Original Gravity: 1.048
Potential ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 18.2
Gravity at Rack: 1.008
Final Gravity: 1.006
Final ABV: 5.8%

Notes: Grain volume adjusted for Brew House Efficiency of 65%.

Brewed: October 20, 2013
Racked: October 26, 2013
Bottled: November 17, 2013

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Filed under Beer Recipes, Making Beer, Pale Ale

QUADrophina Grand Cru

Recipe by: Taft Canyon Brewers

7 lbs Pale 2 Row Belgium
6.5 lbs Pilsner Belgium
0.5 lbs Special B

2.65 oz Hallertaur Whole Leaf 3.3%AA (60 minutes)
1.35 oz Hallertaur Whole Leaf 3.3%AA (10 minutes)
Aiming for 24 IBU

Yeast: Belgium Dark Ale (Wyeast 3822)

0.5 tab Whirlfloc (15 Minutes)
2 lbs Candi Syrup – Simplicity (10 Minutes)
1 lb Candi Syrup – D-180 (10 Minutes)
0.5 tsp Yeast Nutrient (10 Minutes)

Mash Steps:

75 minutes at 146 degrees (19 quarts)
Batch sparge at 160 degrees (16 quarts)

Fermentation Temperature: 70 F

Before bottling a Belgium, I always re-pitch some yeast into the bottling bucket along with the corn sugar.  I normally use the same type of yeast for fermenting, but this time I tried Lallemand CBC-1 bottling yeast.  This yeast is specifically designed to not add any flavors to your beer – perfect for bottling.  I bottled for 2.6 volumes of carbonation, and the beers came out over carbonated.  I am working on letting off a bit of the carbonation, but I am wondering if this is a cause of the CBC-1.

Original Gravity: 1.076
Potential ABV: 10.5%
IBUs: 23.9
Gravity at Rack: 1.028
Final Gravity: 1.025
Final ABV: 6.7%

Notes: Grain volume adjusted for Brew House Efficiency of 65%.

Brewed: September 7, 2013
Racked: September 15, 2013
Bottled: September 22, 2013

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Hop to Sip – Video from talented CSU students.

Some Colorado State University students recently set out to make a video chronicling the making of a beer from the first hop picked to it rolling off the bottling line at Odell Brewing. They did a great job.

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Coffee Beast Stout

Recipe by: Taft Canyon Brewers

1.25 lbs Flaked Oats
.63 lbs Chocolate
.63 lbs Victory
.42 lbs Black Barley
.42 lbs British Roasted Barley
.42 lbs British Dark Crystal I 85°

5 lbs Maris Otter Extract (60 minutes)

1.65 oz UK Goldings Whole Leaf 3.4%AA (60 minutes)
.85 oz UK Goldings Whole Leaf 3.4%AA (60 minutes)

Yeast: British Ale Yeast (Wyeast #1098) – 1,000ML Starter

Whirfloc tablet (10 minutes)
2 cups Cold-steeped Espresso Coffee (1/3lb cold steep beans for 2 days – yield 2 cups liquid)

Mash Steps:
60 minutes at 155 degrees (12 quarts)
Batch sparge at 165 degrees (8 quarts)

Fermentation Temperature: 66 F

Original Gravity: 1.057
Final Gravity: 1.013
ABV: 5.8%


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A Pico-Brewery in Every Home?

Earlier this week I learned about a new invention that would allow for counter-top brewing at the touch of a button. No boil overs. No burners in the garage. No worries about correct temperature control, water flow, or finding someone to watch the kids while you brew. Two questions immediately came to mind:

1. Could this be true?

2. If it is true, would I actually want to use this thing?

The “thing” that I am referring to is the Picobrew Zymatic. As of writing this, it has 5 days left to solicit investment dollars on Kickstarter. And it’s already raised over $510,000 (on a goal of $150,000.) It’s the Keurig of beer-making and, if it works like they say it does, could significantly alter the entire beer landscape as we know it.

Here are a couple of predictions.

Craft Beer sales will increasingly pull market share from the Mega-Breweries.
People who make their own beer are the same people who appreciate great beer the most. Just like people who truly know how to cook appreciate great food. Once you understand how beer is made and the effects of the different ingredients and the patience and skill it takes to make a great beer, your appreciation for craft beer is raised tremendously. This means more support for great beer and less support from the crap that the big guys have been churning out for the last century.

Local Homebrew shops will flourish.
You might be thinking “What? What the hell are you talking about? This contraption is going to kill homebrew shops – it makes brewing too easy!” Wrong.  The Picrobrew only facilitates the “hot” phase of the brewing process. You’re still on your own for the fermentation phase – kind of important. You still need fermenters, equipment for yeast starters, measurement tools and, most importantly, ingredients. Barley, hops, yeast – these come from your homebrew shop and the more beer you brew, the more ingredients you need.

Your homebrew show also has KNOWLEDGE. I can’t stress this enough. The Picobrew doesn’t protect you from using a shitty beer recipe. It doesn’t teach how to formulate recipes or give you advice on what yeast to add, what additional ingredients can be added to the secondary.

It won’t replace the all-day brew sessions.
People will brew MORE 5-gallon and 10-gallon batches, not less. This thing only makes about 3 gallons worth of beer. That’s about 30 beers, which might seem like a lot until you throw a party and you’re out of homebrew within an hour.  Or until you go on a business trip and realize that your wife drankyou’re your best stuff while you were gone (that’s never happened to me, of course). But the real thing is this – thie machine takes 90% of the fun OUT of homebrewing. Standing around the brew kettle on a weekend afternoon with a bunch of friends, smelling hops, judging the quality of the first runnings – that’s what it’s all about.

Bottom line for me is this: I don’t want it. It’s not just because these puppies are expected to retail for over a thousand bucks (once it’s $99 and I can buy it in SkyMall, I might take a gamble).  It’s because I like the PROCESS of brewing.  It’s therapeutic, rewarding, and fun. It’s the same reason I don’t own a bread machine or a push-a-button espresso maker. Others will love this thing (it’s pretty cool technology) and I think it may help raise the overall beer IQ of the population – but it’s not for me.


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Jonas Porter w/Cherries V2

Recipe by: Hops & Berries (Jonas Porter)

4 lbs Pale Malt Extract
1 lb Amber Malt Extract

Specialty Grains:
1 lb Crystal Malt 80L
1 lb Brown Malt
0.95 lb Chocolate Rye
0.5 lb Debittered Black Malt
0.5 lb Light Munich Malt
0.5 lb Marris Otter

0.75 oz Simcoe (60 minutes)
1.oz Willamette (20 minutes)
0.75 oz Willamette (5 minutes)

Yeast: British Ale (White Labs WLP005)

Original Gravity: 1.069
Gravity at Rack: 1.025
Final Gravity: 1.023
ABV: 6.1%

Mash Steps:
60 minutes at 154 degrees

Add 4lbs Cherries (fronzen, then boiled) and 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme per gallon of beer.

Brewed October 20, 2013

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Filed under Beer Recipes, Making Beer, Porter

A Tale of Two IIPAs

We recently decided to attempt what we thought was a simple experiment. We wanted to brew two batches of the exact same beer and then dry hop them with different hops to see how dry-hopping affected the overall aroma and taste and to better understand the aroma characteristics of the hops we were using.

We chose to brew an Imperial IPA for this experiment for a couple of reasons. One, we love big IPAs. Two, the recipe we were using was a partial mash and uses a healthy does of Pale Malt Extract (10lbs in each 5-gallon batch) in it, which we believed would even out some of the potential differences in efficiency from the mashes we would make.

Our brew set up remains very simple and we set to getting both mashes going at the same time. We have two gas burners, kettles, and we used sleeping bags to control the mash temperatures. Nothing fancy and we’ve done it many times before, but not brewing the same beer. We did 60 minutes mashes and 60 minutes boils for each. We used the exact same ingredients. With all these similarities, I expected the results to be about the same.

Batch #1 came out with an original gravity of 1.070. This was much lower than I expected – we were shooting for an OG of 1.10. Hmm.

Batch #2 had an OG of 1.082 – also low, but considerably higher than batch 1. WTF?

So there are two main questions:
Question 1: Why were the original gravities so much lower then our targets?
Question 2:  Why was there such a large discrepancy between the OGs of the two batches when we used the same recipes, brewed them at the same time, etc. Clearly our mash and brew methods are different.

I’m going to tackle question #2 first – the discrepancy between the OG of Batch 1 and the OG of Batch 2.

Brew Kettles: In both cases, we used 6 gallon brew kettles for both the mash and the boil. But there are differences between the kettles. Kettle 1 was stainless steel and short and wide, kettle 2 is aluminum and tall and narrow. As a result, the mashes may have acted differently, even though we tried to keep them at a mash temp of 151 degrees. The difference in kettle shape and material may also have been

Mash and Sparge equipment: We used two pretty significant methods for mashing an sparging. Since we only had one lauter tun, we opted to use a grain  bag for Batch 1 and then sparged the grains by pouring water through the grain bag. For batch 2, we mashed the loose grains in the kettle and then dumped the grains into the lauter tun and sparged from there.

My theory is that the difference in OG between the two batches is a result of inconsistencies between the batches during mashing and sparging, since we added 10 lbs of extract to each kettle later. Equipment clearly matters, and can result in pretty significant results.

Back to question #1 – why was our OG so much lower than our target of 1.100? I think the answer here is simple – we mashed at the incorrect temp. I need to research this more.

And then this happened.

The top blows off the Imperial IPA.

The top blows off the Imperial IPA.

At around 2am on the night we brewed a loud POP! wakes me up. The lid off the bucket blew and painted my ceiling, walls, and kitchen appliances with deliciousness. Idiot. I should have used a blow off tube from the beginning. I’ve made this mistake too many times before. Here’s a quick little video of the yeast doing their thing after I put the tubes in:

Today, one week after brewing, we racked and dry hopped the IPAs. Interestingly, they both have the same gravity at rack – 1.041. This means that Batch 1 is currently at 3.8% ABV and Batch 2 is at 5.4% ABV. Way low for the end of primary fermentation for a beer this big.

Imperial IPAs Dry Hopped with Cascade (left) and Citra (right) Hops

Imperial IPAs Dry Hopped with Cascade (left) and Citra (right) Hops

10 hours later, however, and fermentation has kicked back into gear in the secondary.

Imperial IPA reactivated in the Secondary

Imperial IPA reactivated in the Secondary

Next week, we’ll keg these things. Cannot wait to see how they turn out. Stay tuned.



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