Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beer Review: Crown Valley Brewing - Antique Amber Lager

I am pretty sure today's submission is the first craft brew that I have had from the state of Missouri.

Our Antique Amber is a medium bodies American lager brewed with the finest noble hops and German Malt.

5.5% Alc. by Volume

Appearance: Pours a crystal clear golden brown with a thin to medium off white head that settles right over the beer.

Aroma: Crisp malt with some fruitiness and noble hops.

Flavor: Up front with caramel sweetness and maybe a little corn. A tinge of fruitiness from the yeast and a nice mellow noble hop flavor. Ends a little sweet but very crisp and refreshing.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with low to medium carbonation.

Overall: A very crisp and refreshing lager. The caramel malt plays perfectly with the yeast fruitiness. Reminds me somewhat of a lighter Vienna lager without as much as a malty presence.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beer Review: Anderson Valley Brewing - Boont Amber Ale

For the 2nd amber submission this week we have the only brewery west of the Mississippi.

Boont Amber Ale

“This is by far, the best ale I have tasted in my entire life. It is simply magical. It makes my mouth water for more with every gulp.”
David Centola – Dublin, CA
Boont Amber Ale won the Silver Medal at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival, in the American-Style Amber/Red Ale category, has several other medals, as well, and was named the “best beer brewed in Northern California,” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Boont Amber Ale is a medium bodied pale ale with a beautiful copper color, a robust head, and the rich flavor of caramel malt. This very smooth and exceptionally drinkable beer is excellent with steaks, chicken, pasta, and other flavorful meals.
As with all of our products, Boont Amber Ale is never sterile filtered nor heat pasteurized, and should be stored in refrigeration. However, to fully enjoy its rich and complex flavor, it should be served between 40° and 45°F
5.8 % Alcohol by Volume
15 IBU
“It’s bahl hornin’.”

Appearance: Pours a beautiful amber, the color of fossilized sap they make dinosaurs out of. Thick white head that reduces to about a half a finger.

Aroma: Biscuity caramel with some fruity and citrus hops.

Flavor: Smooth hop bitterness leads into caramel malt. Fruitiness is present and somewhat peach/apple/white grape like, possibly from the hops. Brown sugar and maybe a tinge of raisin, finishes caramelly sweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with low to medium carbonation.

Overall: For my tastes this is really really good. Bitterness is low but the fruity hoppiness is really unique. A lot of caramel malt in this one but it isn't too overly sweet. The caramel malt may be a little much for some but I love it. I am going to have to find a clone recipe for this because the hop complexity really throws me. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Beer Review: Arbor Brewing Co - Red Snapper Amber Ale

So I am traveling up to Montana this week and probably won't be by a computer much. I reviewed five Amber Ale/Lager/Hybrid this past weekend. Each day I will be featuring a new amber and will wind up the last post with my rankings. By no means are these the best 5 ambers, but they are a great selection from some great midwest breweries.

Style: Roasted Amber Ale
Strength: 4.9% (ABV)
IBUs: 30
Body: medium
Availability: Year-round, 24-12 oz bottles, 1/2 barrels

Food Pairings: Hamburgers, pizza, nachos, spaghetti & meatballs

Tasting Notes: A deep reddish brew with medium body and carbonation. This toasty, malty, and dry pale ale has a depth of hop taste and acidity in the palate and finish. 

Appearance: Pours a rich reddish amber. Thick almost tan head that lingers.

Aroma: Rich malt with hints of caramel. No hop presence detected, pretty much smells like grains in the mash.

Flavor: Huge malt backbone throughout. Hop bitterness comes through in the middle, and ends with a bit of roastiness. Detecting some biscuity and and toasty malt tones. Can not pick up any hop flavor. A tiny bit of caramel sweetness rounds it out and finishes lightly sweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with low carbonation.

Overall: An amber ale on the malt side of the spectrum. Very close to an English ESB, I am guessing this is what the recipe was based off of. I was expecting an American amber with more citrus hop flavor. The extensive and varied malt properties are very enjoyable. The bit of roast is nice but would like a little more caramel. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Watermelon Wheat Tasting Day

So just under a month the Watermelon Wheat has come full circle and is ready to drink!

I have to say this one one of the simplest, fastest, and non-problematic beers I have ever brewed. The craziest thing about the final product is that it is actually pretty clear, even after only 2 weeks of bottle conditioning. It somewhat perplexes me because one, I used wheat, two, I didn't use any finings to clear it out, and three I used German ale yeast which does not floc out very well...

 I am not going to question the results though, it is a beautiful golden beer. There is a great watermelon aroma with the tiniest bit of wheat to compliment it. I think I used the perfect amount of hops in this, you can tell there is a hop bitterness but it does not overwhelm any other of the flavors. The wheat and watermelon play really really well together. I really have to say that the fruit flavoring did a real nice job in lieu of any real fruit (made the process a ton easier as well). It is going to carb up a little more with a week or two more, it is a little light right now and I think it will benefit even more with a little more carbonation.

Not to toot my own horn but I also had some outside testers last night of the female variety. It was very well received and requested that I get more in the fridge as soon as possible.

This turned out to be a great success that I am going to enjoy in this heat wave Colorado is currently in. Sometimes everything just falls into place the first time you formulate a recipe, and I think this is one of them. If you are looking to brew up a watermelon wheat try this recipe out and let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Brewpub Review: Two Brothers Taphouse & Brewery - Warrenville, IL

Two Brothers Brewery and Brewpub is in my hometown of Warrenville, Illinois. They have been growing at an astounding rate in the past few years and are becoming nationally recognized for their outstanding line of beers. 

When they say they are off the beaten path they really do mean it. The building is located in I guess I would say an office park area of the town and not clearly marked at all. The first time I went there the only thing that told me that this must be it is the grain silo near the back of the building. If you are going there for the first time and not familiar with Warrenville, as I am, you may want to print out the directions and keep their phone number handy so you can call if you cannot find it.

 So you have found the building, now you have to find the entrance, luckily they have a straight and to the point sign on the door telling you where to enter.

Another nice feature is their sign showing the tap house business hours, complete with bar and food service times.

All joking aside, when you walk in this place you feel the great atmosphere. It is very clean and usually packed with people. It's one of the things I like about it, they don't need any fancy advertising or location to get people to come there, people go there because of the service, food, beer, and all around good vibe you get from the place. Word of mouth is the only advertisement that they need, and if you find it I am pretty sure you'll be wanting to go back. 

I have to say, they did a great job hiring a chef when they opened the tap house. The food, although mostly common pub fair, is perfectly prepared and some of the best quality I have ever had at a brew pub. We started out with the crab and artichoke dip. You wouldn't think the crab would be that good while sitting in the middle of the country, but they must have a great supplier cause it was fresh and went really well with the artichokes in the dip. 

Main courses were the pulled pork and the mac and cheese. The pulled pork was amazing. I can't tell you if they have a smoker on site but it sure did taste like it. Along with it I got some sweet potato fries, I am not really a huge yam fan but when deep fried you really can't stop eating them. The mac and cheese was just like your grandmother would make, add will not regret it. They only thing I have herd negatively about the menu is that the reuben is not your typical may like it or you may hate it.  

I apologize that the next pictures are going to be of lower quality. Camera ran out of batteries and had to change to the trusty cell phone cam for the rest of the documentation.  

With the quality of food they are putting on your plate you wouldn't think that the brewery operations are run out of the same building if it weren't for the window looking in.

"The fab five" as they call it listed above are always available on tap. They always have seasonal offerings and cask conditioned ales as well. The few times I have been there they have had a different IPA on draft. 

This time around I tried the Resistance IPA, conditioned in the "French oak foudres" that imparts a vanilla and oak flavor. Great IPA only wish I could have it on draft here in Denver.

The Long Haul Session Ale was another hit, and another offering that is aged with the French 4.2% you can definitely put a few back. 

Ebel's Weiss is a great German hefeweizen. Ranks up there with my favorite domestic hefeweizens along with Sierra Nevada's Kellerweiss.

If you have had your fill of the Two Brother's offerings they have a huge list of guest beers on draft and in bottle that you can try. Beer geeks will walk away very happy with their selection. 

After a great dinner we were offered a tour of the back brewing facilities. Of course I had to jump on it and check it out. They are under incredible growth right now and you can see that some of the huge conical fermenters had been just bought from Goose Island brewing as they still have the line "Chicago's Craft Brewer" on them.

Pictured to the left are the French oak foudres that the Resistance IPA and Long haul session had been aged in. As explained to me, Two Brothers is the only brewery to be aging in virgin oak rather than reused oak barrels from distilleries. They had these shipped over from France and their beer was the first thing to touch it other than the hands that constructed them. I was also told that oak chips could not impart the flavors as these vats do. The vanilla and fresh oak that these impart are not like anything else any other brewery is doing.     

So not only do they have a brewpub and brewery in the same building, guess what else?? An actual distributor warehouse, Windy City Distribution. Now let me tell you, I have never seen anything as glorious as this in my life. And just to note, there is no swill in this warehouse just heavenly, magnificent craft beer. Check out the website listed above for everything that they distribute. 

So in conclusion, Two Brothers Brewpub/Brewery/Distributor warehouse is a thing to behold. If you are a beer geek and in the area you must check it out.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Recipe of the Week: How to Build a Clone Recipe

This week I am going to stray from the norm. I will not be posting an actual recipe but I will help you with building your own clone recipe. If you brew your own beer I am going to make an educated guess and say that you have a few favorite beers that you would like to recreate. 

The internet is a great resource, I mean this blog alone must have filled your brain with knowledge right??? You can scour and usually find someone somewhere who has a clone recipe for that beer you want to recreate. Along with the internet there are some great magazines out there that have clone recipe sections where they have brewed and blind taste tested next to the real thing. 

Step #1: Search the internet, terms like "Boston Lager clone recipe" will usually turn up something that is usable. Try the recipe out, if it doesn't turn out how you want it, or you weren't able to find one proceed to the next step.  

Step #2: Taste and review the beer you want to recreate. Critique it and try to pick out every little flavor. Write these down so you have a basis of what you are looking for.

Step #3: Research the beer via bottle label and/or brewery website. Brewers will usually give the specific information including original and final gravities, IBUs, hops used, grains used, and maybe even a type of yeast. If you find 3 or 4 instances of this specific information you have a good basis to start building a recipe.

Step #4: If step #3 left you high and dry use your communication skills. Email the brewery and ask if they can give you any pointers to lead you in the right direction. More times than not someone will get back to you with some useful information. They probably won't be able to give you an exact recipe, nor really want that out there, but brewers are brewers and love other people interested in their craft.

Step #5: Ok so with all the information you have gathered you are ready to start formulating your recipe. We'll start on the grain bill. We'll use the above posted information from Sierra Nevada to guide us through the process here. 

So your tasting notes on malt flavor are as follows smooth maltiness with hints of caramel. Looking at the beer specifics you see that they use two row and caramel malts which would agree with your tastebuds. The color from your notes is golden amber so you can discern that that majority of the grain bill is the light two row malt with a slight bit of caramel for the amber color and the caramel flavor. 

Next would be determining the amount of grain to use. Sierra Nevada gave their gravity readings in plato, most home brewers use specific gravity readings so I found this nifty calculator to help convert the reading. Converting 13 degrees plato gives me a specific gravity reading of 1.053. This is where you will bring up your recipe calculator. I use promash, but there are others like beersmith and beertools, any will do. Make sure your efficiency percentage is entered into the calculator if you are an all grain brewer. If you are a extract brewer efficiency will not matter.      
Now it's time to play around with your calculator. If you are going for an extract recipe this is quite simple, add enough of light dry or liquid malt extract to bring you to a specific gravity of 1.053. You can go a little less because the crystal grain you will steep will add some sugar but for simplicity I would rather get to my targeted OG and know I may be a point higher from the small amount of crystal grain I will be steeping. 

While you are the the home brew shop getting your extract taste the different levels of crystal grain to decide which you want to go with. The shop owner will not care if you taste a grain or two just don't start shoving handfuls in your mouth. Since I have done this before I will conclude that you have the same taste as I do and have decided on a crystal grain with a lovibond of 60.  Buy enough to steep that will give you the color you want determined by your calculator. For this recipe it should be around 90-95% pale additions and 5-10% crystal addition.

If you are an all grain brewer the formulation is a little harder but not by much. Just like I had mentioned above you have concluded by your tasting and color matching that you will need a pale malt addition of 90-95% and 5-10% crystal. Play with your calculator until you hit an OG of 1.053 under the percentage constraints that you have determined. Remember that the OG calculation that the calculator gives you is directly related to your own systems efficiency. If you are an all grain brewer you will probably know how your system works. 

I am using an standard efficiency rate of 72%, I only call this standard because this is where a lot of the calculators are set at from the get go. To make the grain weighing simple and based on the efficiency this is where my grain bill ended up. 

9.5 lbs two row pale malt 92.7% of the grain bill
 .75 lb Crystal 60L malt 7.3% of the grain bill

This gives you an OG/SG of 1.053 based on a 72% efficiency rate. It has also concluded that your SRM (color) is 8.4 and with the promash calculator it shows a color sample. This looks exactly what you are looking for.  

Step #6: Next up, determining the hop bill. This works the same way for extract and all grain brewers. The calculations are also much like the grain bill calculations. Sierra Nevada has provided an IBU (bitterness units) level of 37. From tasting you know that there is a good amount of bitterness, so there will be a good amount of IBUs from the first (bittering) addition at the beginning of the boil. They have also given you the bittering hops that they use so for these first additions you know you are going to use Magnum and Perle hops. You also notice from tasting that there is a good amount of hop flavor and aroma in the beer which would tell you there is a good amount of hops for flavor and aroma additions. These additions are anywhere from 20 to 0 minutes left in the boil. The later in the boil the more aroma you will pull off the hops. Sierra Nevada has provided you with that information as well, they use cascade hops for this. 

Now time to play with the calculator again. As you will noticed the longer in the boil the more IBUs. Since you are looking for a good bitterness to this beer you should decide that most of the IBUs are going to come from the bitterness additions. Your IBUs are dependent on the alpha acid percentage of the hops and the time in the boil. Be sure to get the alpha acid % from your hop package and enter it in your calculator so you will come up with the correct calculations. Maybe from the tasting notes you detect a small bit of spiciness which would tell you maybe the perle hops were used somewhere mid boil. This is all on your taste perception though so if you don't taste it don't do it. Since there also is a lot of hop flavor to this beer more finishing hops towards the end of the boil will give you more flavor but not add a lot of IBUs.  

After you enter the alpha acid information into your calculator play around with the values until you hit on or around your IBU value of 37. The one thing to remember is if you are adding an aroma addition at 0 minutes left in the boil this will not (technically) add any IBUs, make a judgment call to how much hop aroma (also contributes some to flavor perception) you want.

So after you have done all this, you have come up with this hop bill and you are almost finished with the recipe.

.35 oz Magnum @ 14AA 60 minutes in the boil
.3 oz Perle @ 7.5AA 30 minutes in the boil
1.6 oz Cascade @ 5.75 AA  10 minutes in the boil
2 oz Cascade @ 5.75AA 0 minutes in the boil 

IBUs are right on the dot at 37 and you are comfortable with what you are getting from your hop additions. 

Step #7: Choosing your yeast is probably just about the easiest part of recipe formulation. For this recipe it is even easier because you can refer to the yeast guide I posted a few weeks back and search to see if the brewery you are trying to recreate has made their yeast available via White Labs or Wyeast. In this case we know that Sierra Nevada's yeast is WLP-001 or Wyeast 1056. For other clone beers that you may be developing you can use your taste notes and use your best judgment. All of the yeast companies provide profiles of each of the specific yeasts. For this specific example we know from tasting that the yeast leaves a very clean profile which would be describe in the yeast providers description.

Step #8 (for all grain brewers only): Decide your mash temperature. Estimating what your beer will end up at gravity wise is one hell of a science. I can lead you here and you can try to understand all that data but I prefer to take the easy route and not be a perfectionist. Yeast providers will also give you an attenuation range (how much sugar will ferment) dependent on the yeast strain. The only other factor to know is mashing lower will give you more fermentable sugars and mashing at a higher temp will give you more unfermentable sugars. 

Temperature Activity Duration Effects
95'F/35'C Phytase
up to 2 hrs. Lowers pH,
makes more acidic
122'F/50'C Proteolysis
15 min.- 1 hr. Proteins broken into
amino acids
140'F/60'C Beta-amylase starch conversion into
20 min. - 1 1/2 hr. Produces a highly fermentable wort
(thinner beer)
150'F/65'C Alpha & Beta-amylase equally active 20 min. - 1 1/4 hr. Produces wort with both fermentables and nonfermentables.
158'F/70'C Alpha-amylase
starch conversion into

20 min.- 1 hr. Produces a wort high in unfermentables
(more body)
168'F/76'C Amylase activity
5 - 15 min. Aids in liquefying wort for better run off.
170'F/77'C Sparge Water
30 - 60 min. "Washes" sugar from grain bed, but too high temp could extract tannins
* from 

For single infusion mashing (most common and easiest) you are only concerned with the Beta-amylase and Alpha-amylase. 

The final gravity after converting degrees plato is shown at 1.011. Using the attenuation rate from the yeast provider you can make a judgment call to ferment this around 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step #9 (optional): Decide a fermentation temperature. If you have somewhere that you can control your fermentation temperature I would recommend just choosing somewhere in the range that the yeast provider gives in the description. They have already done the testing so you know you will be good there. If you do not have temperature control, put your fermenter somewhere in the house that will keep you closest to the temperature range. 

Step #10: TIME TO BREW!!

I realize I said I was not going to post a recipe on this addition of ROTW but I figure hey we went to all this trouble...


9.5 lbs American 2-row malt
.75 lb Crystal 60L malt

Mash at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes

 .35 oz Magnum @ 14AA 60 minutes in the boil
.3 oz Perle @ 7.5AA 30 minutes in the boil
1.6 oz Cascade @ 5.75 AA  10 minutes in the boil
2 oz Cascade @ 5.75AA 0 minutes in the boil 

Wlp-001, Wyeast 1056, or Safale 05

Ferment at 65 degrees until completion


Replace the mashing step/grain bill:
5.5 lbs light dry malt extract or 7.2 lbs light liquid malt extract
.5 lb Crystal 60L (steeped before boiling)

I know this was a lot to take in...if you have any specific questions please do not hesitate to email or make a comment after this post.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Beer Review: Widmer Brothers W '10 Pitch Black IPA

Well two for Tuesday today, and yes I know it's a beer from a brewery that I reviewed last week but it was staring at me from the fridge just saying drink me...DRINK ME!! I find that a lot of beers I have never tried talk to me, or maybe I just drank a barley wine too fast. Plus not a better time to review when the new issues of BYO Magazine and Zymurgy have articles about the emerging style of Cascadian Dark Ales, which basically translate to black IPA.

Our Brewmasters' Release - Pitch Black IPA is a Pacific Northwest twisted tribute to an IPA style of beer. It is almost a traditional IPA but it is instead brewed to the emerging style of Cascadian Dark. We add a modest amount of a specially made debittered black malt to give this IPA a very dark color but without the characteristic dark malt flavors. Pitch Black IPA is hopped generously in the brewhouse and then again later during the dry hopping process. Hopheads of the world will certainly enjoy this dark version of IPA, as will beer drinkers looking for something new and experimental to fill their pint glass.
The "W" Brewmasters' Release Series is from Widmer Brothers. A new beer every year. Built from the ground up by our hardworkin' brewmasters. Traditional, experimental, anything goes. Here's to trying new things.
January - April
65 IBU
alcohol by volume:
original gravity:
Two Row Pale, Caramel 10 L, Special Roast, Carafa Special II
AROMA: Alchemy, Cascades
DRY HOP: Cascade T-45
goes well with:
smokey and spicy type dishes that tend to be richer, Steak with blue cheese butter (black and blue combo), Spicy Mole, Chili, Smoked and/or spicy cured meats, BBQ ribs

Appearance: Pours a deep mahogany in the light but appears black when out of the light. Thick off-white head lingers awhile with great full glass lacing.

Aroma: Citrus hops leaning towards grapefruit, with no roasted character evident until the beer warms a little. A tiny bit of caramel sweetness. 

Flavor: Upfront with grapefruity citrus tones leading to a tiny bit of roast and caramel sweetness. Slighty astringent but barely noticeable. Finishes dry on the palate. As the beer warms some roasted character comes through which really plays well with the hops.

Mouthfeel: Low to medium body with low carbonation. Very drinkable.

Overall: All I can say is that it is different. The color really throws off what you are tasting. This is a very tasty IPA with just a hint of roast which plays well with the hops and slight caramel sweetness. Very drinkable but will catch up with you if you have a few of them. A new style that will likely take on with the craft beer world. The style was probably derived in some homebrewers kettle. If it does well I could see Widmer Brother's making this an everyday offering or at least a seasonal one. As of now it is part of their yearly brewmaster's release so pick one up if you see it, you may only have the rest of this year to try it out.  

Beer Review: Buffalo Bill's Orange Blossom Cream Ale

Well yesterday was the first day of summer and what a better way to welcome the upcoming scorching heat with an orange flavored cream ale. I found this at a liquor store up in Boulder, CO but have since seen it popping up everywhere, even at Cost Plus.

Orange Blossom Cream Ale is a seasonal beer in the fastest growing category in the craft beer segment. Pour it into a glass and enjoy the wonderful fragrance of freshly peeled orange. Orange Blossom Cream Ale is brewed with sweet orange peel, orange blossom extract, and honey. 

Pale, Victory

First Gold

5.2% Alc. by Volume


Appearance: Pours golden orange with a one finger white head. Slighty hazy with a small touch of lacing.

Aroma: Smells like those orange scented potpourris. 

Flavor: Bitter orange peel upfront, leading into a sweet honey/floral middle, ending with candied orange. Bitterness slightly balances out the sweet.

Mouthfeel: Low body with medium carbonation.

Overall: Not too cloyingly sweet, the orange is present but also lends a pith bitterness to the beer. Would be nice to have one on a real hot day by the pool, although not a fan of putting fruit in beer this would probably be nice with an orange slice. I am not going to be sexist and say this is a great girly drink (ok I guess I am) but if you are into Smirnoff ICE this may be somewhat up your alley. I would recommend toning down all the orange and adding some malt to add to the complexity. They say they use victory malt which would do this nicely but I wasn't able to pick any up from the tasting. I could have one of these beers but would wind up getting sick of it if I was trying to "indulge" that day. 


Kyle's Brewfest - Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver Colorado

Kyle Hollingsworth, keyboardist extraordinaire, from the likes of The String Cheese Incident, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Holy Kimoto, etc has put together a great event in support of Conscious Alliance. In cooperation with Great Divide Brewing, The Mountain Sun Brewery, Deschutes Brewery, and Odell Brewing the event will be held at the Great Divide Taproom on Thursday July 22nd, 2010 the night before String Cheese's return to Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Tickets are $25 and all proceeds benefit Conscious Alliance. In addtion to helping out a great charity all tickets include:

• exclusive performance from Kyle Hollingsworth Band
• limited edition Kyle’s Brew Fest logo pint glass
• several drink tickets
• one 2-oz taster per brewery (participating breweries include Great Divide Brewing, The Mountain Sun Brewery, Deschutes Brewery, Odell Brewing, Avery Brewing, Boulder Beer, Ska Brewing, Stone Brewing, Trinity Brewing, Upslope Brewing and others)
• delicious Mountain Sun grilled food
• an opportunity to bid at the Silent Auction (which features rock memorabilia from the scene’s favorite artists, among other items)

I am told by a source very close to the scene that these tickets are just about sold out so if interested I would grab them up pretty quickly. Tickets can be purchased at:

***UPDATE - Tickets are currently only available at The Mountain Sun and Southern Sun Pubs in Boulder and Vine Street Pub in Denver. Online tickets are currently sold out, more tickets may be made available online at a later date. Mountain Sun Pubs

For more info:

Kyle has worked hard with the sponsoring breweries to put this together and working even harder helping them brew the batches that will be available for tasting at this event. It is going to be a very unique event to kick off a great weekend of music and brews. 

I will be attending and giving an in depth review in the week following. There may be some plans in the mix to get an interview in with Kyle so if you have any specific questions please post away.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Brew Gear: Online Supplier Review -

If you have been apart of the homebrew community long you have probably figured out there is at least one common thing that all of us possess, and that would be thriftiness. Let's face it, this really isn't a cheap hobby. You may tell yourself hey I am making great beer for cents on the dollar but this is only factoring in ingredients. When looking at all the equipment I have bought over the years I probably would have broke even by just going and buying craft beer from the local liquor store.

Here in Denver I am lucky enough to have three homebrew shops that are within a 20 minute drive. Unfortunately the closest one shafted me on some grain and the owner wouldn't take my advice that he should probably calibrate his scales. Oh well, such is life, I will take my money elsewhere. I am not always available at the operating business hours of the other two so I began testing out a lot of the various different homebrew supply providers online.

As with any business, prices are going to vary from site to site. Some having cheaper grain, some having cheaper gear, etc... One of the first things I try to find out about an online site would be the shipping policy, if they charge by the pound it probably will be a lot higher than just driving to the store, but if they have a flat rate shipping charge it usually ends up being right around the same. I get to be thrifty and lazy??? The perfect combination...

I came across this online homebrew supplier because I saw the owner posting on the message board that I frequent ( The website is very nicely designed. It flows and is easy to navigate around to find what you are looking for. 

 A nice feature that I have only seen on this online store is what they call the "Brew Builder." This feature allows you to build a beer recipe directly on the website. The brewer will choose the style that they are going for and it will let the them know if they are close to hitting the marks developed by the Beer Judge Certification Program. Not only does it provide you with the calculations for the quantitative values of the recipe but also give you the qualitative data about that specific style of beer.

Along with being able to build recipes directly on the site, they also allow the user to save recipes under their username. There is an option that will allow the brewer to share his/her recipes with others and even without a username you can search through other's recipes to help you build your own.

 Brewmasters Warehouse pricing is very reasonable. Most of my brewing needs can be had at this site for cheaper than I can get them at my local stores, with the flat rate $6.99 shipping I can get grain and yeast for my brew day without ever having to leave my house.

Although you have to option for quicker shipping I find that the FedEx ground used for the flat rate shipping is plenty fast enough. The order is usually fulfilled and shipped within two days of placing the order online. They send out an email with your tracking number so that you'll know when it is going to be waiting for you at the doorstep. The packaging is done very well and everything always arrives safely.

The number one aspect of Brewmasters Warehouse that keeps me ordering is the customer service the the owner Ed provides. There have been times when I have forgot to add an ice pack to my order, wanted to see if my package has shipped, or something had been out of stock. I have emailed and Ed always gets back to me within two hours (most of the time shorter) and takes care of the problem.

 I definitely recommend buying from Brewmasters Warehouse, they are a quality homebrew shop that has top notch customer service. I look at them like a German Shepherd, they might not be the best at just one thing, but they are at least second best with everything.  

Friday, June 18, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Mister Squinty Contemporary Summer Ale

This week's recipe comes from Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher. This is just one of the more tamer of the many recipes in the book that you can find for purchase here. This recipe is somewhat a take off a British ordinary bitter. It has a more malty background and has some spiciness from the hop additions. It matures pretty quickly and is perfect for a hot summer day.

 *via AHA

The efficiency from the recipe in the book seems to be a little high for most brewers. I will post the original recipe but you may need to tweak it a little so that you can hit the gravity marked based on your system's efficiency. 


4lbs Maris Otter
2lbs Pilsner Malt
10 oz White Wheat malt

Mash at 147 - 148 for 60 minutes 


Add 8 oz of piloncillo, demerara or similar unrefined sugar to the boil 

1.25 oz Challenger Hops 60 minutes
.5 oz Challenger Hops 30 minutes
.5 oz Challenger Hops 5 minutes
.5 oz Saaz Hops 5 minutes


Use your favorite British ale yeast

OG: 1.048
Alc by Vol: 3.9 - 4.6%
IBU: 43

I have made this recipe or variations of it a good amount of times. It always turns out a stellar beer. One of my favorite variations is subbing Sterling for the Challanger and Liberty for the Saaz. If you are looking for something light, refreshing, drinkable, and moderately hoppy I highly suggest trying this one out.

This recipe fermenting

Finished product (not the best picture) it is much lighter