Kellerbier 2022

>> Monday, December 26, 2022

I haven’t brewed a ton in 2022, so I figured I’d do one last brew before the end of the year. This will also allow me to fine tune this recipe in preparation for some upcoming competitions. 

Today I’m trying a slight variation of my Kellerbier recipe. I really like this beer because it's so easy to drink; great on its own after working in the yard, as part of a michelada, or just any time you want a nice drinkable beer. This beer is inspired by Russian River’s STS Pils and I was listening to a recent BN podcast with Vinnie Cilurzo where he mentioned they use Augustiner yeast. L17 is reportedly the same strain as Augustiner, so I figured I'd give it a try (in the past I've used Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager) and see how it compares.

Target OG 1.051
Target FG: 1.010 
IBU: 21
ABV: 5.4%

8.25# Root Shoot Pilsner
0.25# Weyermann Munich I
1g BrewTan B in mash
20g Hallertauer Mittelfruh (FWH)
14g Aramis (60 min)
24g Aramis (0 min)
4.66g BCAA 
Imperial Yeast - L17 Harvest 

Single Decoction Mash

Mash in at 132°F and hold for 10 minutes.
Increase mash temps to 147°F, then pull 1/3 of mash for decoction. 
Heat the decoction to 156–158°F, hold for 10 minutes.
Bring Decoction to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes.
Raise mash to 156–158°F.
Return decoction to mash and mashout at 168F.

90 minute boil, ferment at 50°F

Water Recipe - To 10 gallons of RO water, add:
  • 3g Epsom Salts
  • 3g Calcium Chloride
Brewing Notes
No issues, but I totally forgot to add the BrewTan B to the mash. I’m testing out a little pH meter accessory I designed and printed using my 3D printer. It’s basically a holder for a beaker and the two probes from the pH meter (temp and pH probe). I partially fill the beaker with water and ice, then I have a smaller beaker that I fill with the sample. The smaller beaker fits in the larger one and the sample gets cooled by the ice water to ensure accurate pH readings.

Session Readings
Beginning mash pH 5.36
Ending mash pH 5.29
1st running gravity 16.7 (1.066)
Pre-Boil gravity 8.9 (1.034)
Pre-Boil pH 5.34
Post-Boil gravity 12.7 (1.050)
Post-Boil pH 5.39

Update 12/26/2022 7:20PM
Wort temp was down to 50F so I aerated and pitched the yeast.

Update 12/27/2022 7:00PM
There are active signs of fermentation with a bubble out my blow-off tube, about once per 4-6 seconds.

Update 1/14/2023
I kegged this beer today along with 10ml of Biofine. I let this go for 24-48 hours before drawing off a pint or so. It should be carbed and ready to drink within a few days.


Spaghetti Pomodoro from The Bear

>> Sunday, December 25, 2022

This recipe is based on the red sauce as featured in the family dinners in the FX television series The Bear. Granted, I haven't made a whole lot of marinara recipes from scratch, but I really liked this sauce and it's way better than bottled sauces. This recipe is based on this YouTube video where real-life chef Matty Matheson and Courtney Storer from the show walk you through the process. I'd definitely advise checking out the video but if you're used to the typical step by step recipe instructions that you usually find on the Internet, it'll be a different experience. So, this is my attempt to translate the recipe into the more traditional format.

2 - 28oz cans Centro crushed tomatoes
6 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, halved
1 - 6oz can of Cento tomato paste
8-10 cloves garlic, chopped/minced/sliced 
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Fresh basil
1 box spaghetti (I actually like angel hair pasta more)

  1. Halve your onion and peel it. It's ok to trim a little off the top and bottom, but leave enough of the core on the bottom so that it holds together. You’re going to be removing the onion later, so this is why you want to keep it intact.
  2. To a medium/large pot, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium high heat.
  3. Add 6T butter to pot.
  4. Once the butter has started melting, add onion halves (flat side down).
  5. Add garlic and adjust heat as necessary so as not to burn the garlic.
  6. Add one or two "chef pinches" of kosher salt. (It's probably at least a teaspoon)
  7. Reduce heat to medium low.
  8. Add a pinch or more of crushed red pepper (more of you like some heat in your red sauce)
  9. Add anywhere from 3-6oz of tomato paste to the pot and cook it off for a few  minutes. This will help avoid the metallic character often associated with tomato paste.
  10. Tear a few basil leaves and add them to the pot. If you decide you want more basil, you can also add it later. 
  11. Add crushed tomatoes to pot. 
  12. Add about half a can (14oz) of water to the pot.
  13. Add a couple more chef pinches of kosher salt.
  14. Add black pepper to taste. I probably start at about 1 teaspoon worth, and go from there.  
  15. Stir to mix and taste.  If it's too acidic, add more salt (a little at a time).
  16. Continue to cook over low medium heat until the onions are fully cooked through and translucent.  I've let it go over an hour without any issues. Just remember to stir occasionally and make sure the heat is low enough that it doesn't burn/scorch the sauce.
  17. When the onion is cooked all the way through, remove the onions and discard. Taste the sauce again and add salt, pepper, and more fresh basil to taste. 
  18. Prepare your pasta per the package directions.
  19. In the video they combine the pasta and sauce then serve. I love a ton of sauce on my spaghetti but my wife likes less sauce on hers, so we add the sauce at serving time. 
I love meatballs and this sauce goes well with them for spaghetti and meatballs or for a meatball sandwich. One time I added some crumbled spicy Italian sausage and it also was really good.


Easy Chicken and Waffles

>> Sunday, November 27, 2022

I’m a breakfast guy, and I’ve been known to be a little grumpy in the morning if I don’t get something in my belly before starting my day. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a bowl of cereal or buttered toast with McCormick Salad Supreme Seasoning (trust me, I discovered this when I was a kid). On weekends I like to step it up a little and make a hot breakfast. 

Here’s an easy chicken and waffle recipe that I made over Thanksgiving weekend that turned out really well. This is more of a semi-homemade dish because for the chicken I’m using Just Bare Chicken Breast from Costco. These chicken patties and their chicken nuggets are a favorite around our house because they’re lightly breaded and seem much more like homemade chicken than most store-bought breaded chicken. 


2 ¼ c All-purpose flour
1 T Baking powder
¼ c Sugar
½ t Kosher salt
1 t Cinnamon
2 eggs, separated
½ c Vegetable oil
2 c Milk
2 t Vanilla extract

  1. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. Beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, coming egg yolks, vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk until well blended.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until most of the lumps have disappeared.  Gently fold in the egg whites with a spatula.
  5. Cook the waffles in your waffle maker to desired doneness.  On mine, a setting of 3.5 on the dial that goes from 1-5 results in a golden brown crust.

Spicy Syrup 

1/2 c Honey or maple syrup
1 t Chile powder
1 t Kosher salt
1 Stick of butter

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small pan over medium heat. 
  2. Stir until butter is melted and all ingredients are well incorporated. 
  3. Reduce to low heat to keep warm until ready to serve.

For the chicken, just prepare per package directions. I usually heat it in our air fryer.

To serve, slice chicken breast and arrange it on top of the waffle. Drizzle the chicken and waffle with the syrup and enjoy.



>> Sunday, September 04, 2022

Today I'm brewing a Kölsch, a style I can't believe I've never brewed before. The BJCP guidelines describe the style as follows:

A subtle, brilliantly clear, pale beer with a delicate balance of malt, fruit, and hop character, moderate bitterness, and a well-attenuated but soft finish. Freshness makes a huge difference with this beer, as the delicate character can fade quickly with age.  
Köln has a top-fermenting brewing tradition since the Middle Ages, but the beer now known as Kölsch was developed in the late 1800s as an alternative to pale lagers. Bottom fermentation was actually prohibited in Cologne. Kölsch is an appellation protected by the Kölsch Konvention (1986), and is restricted to breweries in and around Köln. The Konvention simply defines the beer as a “light, highly attenuated, hop-accentuated, clear, top-fermenting Vollbier.”
Jamil Z has a good article that he wrote about the style for BYO Magazine years ago. The BJCP guidelines mention subtle fruitiness (I think it used to omit the word “subtle”) and Jamil talks about how some homebrewers tend to run with that and brew an overly fruity and estery beer. This is a hybrid ale/lager beer and as such it should not lean too far either way. One of my complaints after judging a Belgian category years ago at a comp is that homebrewers tend to focus on a key characteristic (e.g. Belgian phenolics) and overdo it; “if a little bit is good, then more must be better”. IME this is rarely the case and I tend to shoot for balance. That will be the goal with this beer, some light fruitiness with a clean and crisp lager-like character, well attenuated and super drinkable. 

You could say it's a little late in the year to be brewing something this crisp and drinkable, but I'm the type that enjoys crisp drinkable beers year round (and Imperial Stouts too). If this turns out well, I'm planning on entering this beer in Beehive Brew-off. Here's the recipe as I'm brewing today:

Target OG 1.051
IBU: 21
7.8# Weyermann Cologne/Kolsch Malt
6.5oz Proximity White Wheat Malt
42g Tettnanger (60 min)
14g Tettnanger (10 min)
Wyeast 2535 Kolsch Yeast
Wyeast Nutrient

Step mash at 142F (30 min), then raise to 154F over 60 min
Mashout at 168F
90 minute boil
Chill to 58F, ferment at 60F

Water Profile
This is a pretty soft and balanced water profile. To 10.5 gallons of RO water, add 3 grams each of:
  • Epsom Salts
  • Calcium Chloride
Brewing Notes
No real issues with this brew session. Beginning mash temp was 141F so I pretty much hit my initial strike temp close to perfect.

While sparging, I went inside for a minute and ended up accidentally collecting a tad over 7.5 gallons rather than my targeted 6.75 gallons. To compensate, I boiled a little harder than normal. This worked out perfectly as I hit my target OG exactly at 1.051. The wort is currently chilling down to my pitch temp of 58F.

Session Readings
Beginning mash pH 5.33
Ending mash pH 5.37
1st running gravity 16.6 (1.066)
Pre-boil gravity 9.2 (1.036)
Pre-boil pH 5.46
Post-boil gravity 13.1 (1.051)
Post-boil pH 5.42

Update 9/4/2022 10:30PM
Wort was aerated and yeast pitched.

Update 9/5/2022
I was seeing signs of fermentation this morning with a bubble through the blow-off about every second.

Update 9/25/2022
I kegged this beer today. Gelatin was added to the keg for fining and I’ve started dropping the  temps.

Update 11/18/2022
I entered this beer in Beehive Brew-off and while it didn't medal, it scored fairly well with a composite score of 39; not bad for my first attempt at the style. About the only thing I didn't like about the beer was I couldn't get it to clear. I may try a different yeast next time and see if that helps. One other thing, I might try dialing the grain bill back slightly for a little bit lower gravity. My starting OG of 1.051 is a point higher than the high side of style guidelines, and I think this detracts a little from the drinkability of the finished beer (higher alcohol can increase perceived sweetness).


Imperial Stout 2022

>> Sunday, August 07, 2022

For this post I'm rebrewing the Weldwerks Achromatic Stout recipe that I brewed back in May of 2021. For the original brew session, I used Mecca Grade Lamonta for the base, and I split it in half and fermented on two different yeasts. I also did two different treatments (TX Bourbon and Cacao). This time I only have about 17 pounds of Lamonta available, so the rest of the base malt will be Crisp Maris Otter. Also, I'm using A01 only for this fermentation. Lastly, the beer will age in a Garrison Bros Single Batch Bourbon barrel that was then used at The Bruery for a special single barrel Black Tuesday release. I'm super excited to put a beer in this barrel. This is a 15 gallon barrel, so it'll be brewed in two sessions. Here is the recipe for the first 10 gallons:

10 gallon batch
OG: 1.105
FG: 1.030
IBUs: 45
ABV 10-ish%

27.25# Mecca Grade Lamonta
1.75# Simpsons DRC
1.375# Simpsons Light Crystal
1.375# Flaked Oats
1.75# Simpsons Chocolate Malt (*cold steeped)
1.75# Weyermanns Chocolate Rye Malt (*cold steeped)
1.75# Crisp Pale Chocolate Malt (*cold steeped)
0.375# Simpsons Roasted Barley (*cold steeped)
Imperial A01 House
84g Magnum (FWH)
Yeast Nutrient

Cold steep roasted grains (1lbs/2qts RO water) overnight. Add cold steeped extraction with 10 minutes left in the boil.

Mash at 153F, 90 minutes. Collect ~12.33 gallons pre-boil volume (assuming boil-off rate of ~1.16 gallons/hour), 120 minute boil.  Aerate well; 2 minutes at 0.5l/m. Start fermentation at 60F, ramping up to 65F over 5 days.

Carbon-filtered tap water treated with Campden (extra precaution against chlorine and chloramine). 

Brewing Notes
For round 1 I added the cold steeped dark malts right near the end of the boil. This ended up diluting the gravity much more than I was expecting. Round 1 was brewed 7/17/2022. For round 2, I added the dark grains at the end of the mash so I was much closer to my target gravity.

Session 1 Readings
Beginning mash pH 5.32
Ending mash pH 5.35
1st running gravity 25.7 (1.106)
Pre-boil gravity 19 (1.076)
Pre-boil pH 5.26
Post-boil gravity 21 (1.085)
Post-boil pH 5.12

Round 2 Notes
For round 2 (8/6/2022) I added the dark grains at the end of the mash before sparging.  This didn’t dilute the wort as much, so OG was much closer to target (24.2/1.099). I also only had about 14# of Maris Otter left so this got about 2# each of Avangard German Pale Malt and Great Western California Select Malt. Rahr North Star Pilsner filled the remainder of the base malt bill. Round 1was transferred to a 10 gallon holding keg until round 2 is done fermenting and the barrel is ready for filling. I also had three of my friends over to help brew round 2, so I wasn’t as good about taking readings throughout the brew day. Mash pH was right at 5.24 before adding darker malts and starting the sparge.

Update 8/19/2022
This beer went in the barrel tonight. 


Golden Solera 2022

>> Sunday, July 10, 2022

Finally, a new brewing post! First brew of 2022 and first brew since November of 2021! I've mentioned in a couple times, but I've been working on a kitchen remodel project that's finally wrapping up, so it's time to brew some beer!

Today is a another 10 gallons of my Golden Sour Solera. I'm bumping up the grain bill a little and using different base malt for this round. See the last version here.

12.0# Weyermann Barke Pilsner Malt
3.0# Spelt Malt
56g Aged Hops (60 min)
Yeast Nutrient
Inland Island Brett Barrel III

Mash at 160F. Collect  ~10.0 gallons, then top up to ~12 gallons. 90 minute boil, ferment at room temp.

Water Profile
50/50 blend of carbon filtered tap water and RO water.

Brewing Notes
Thankfully no issues during this session, especially since I considered myself a little rusty. I may have cur my sparge a little short (~9.5 gallons), but post-boil gravity came in same as the last batch. I'm fermenting this at room temp in a half barrel Torpedo Keg with a floating dip tube. When ready, I'll be able to push it straight into the Solera barrel for extended aging and souring. Here are this session's key readings:

Brewing Readings
Beginning mash pH 5.28
Ending mash pH 5.32
1st running gravity 20.5 (1.083)
Pre-boil gravity 9.5 (1.037)
Pre-boil pH 5.58
Post-boil gravity 11.2 (1.044)
Post-boil pH 5.64

Update 7-11-2022
I went to check and fermentation is super active this morning. As I mentioned, I'm fermenting in a half barrel Torpedo Keg with a floating dip tube. In order to vent CO2, I connected a gas quick-disconnect with a short section of 1/4" tubing that runs into a cup filled with sanitizer.  

Update 7-18-2022
Activity started decreasing about 3 days in, but there’s still some activity today; about a glug per minute.

Update 7/30/2022
On 7/27/2022, I transferred 10 gallons from the Solera barrel onto a combination of homegrown sweet cherries from my buddy Brandon’s tree, sour cherries from my tree, and dried Montmorency cherries for a total of about 30 pounds of fresh fruit (3#/gallon). I’ve used dried zante currants before in a Consecration clone, but this is the first time trying dried cherries. My thought process is even though you’re adding sugar with fresh fruit, the amount of water in fresh fruit usually ends up diluting the finished beer. By adding dried fruit, I should be getting fruit sugars without dilution. 
Also, the 10 gallons of fresh beer from this session wasn’t enough to top off the barrel due to angel’s share losses, so I brewed up another 10 gallons on 7/30 that’s currently fermenting. OG on the last batch was a little higher at 11.7 (1.046) and will give me enough to finish topping off the barrel plus some extra for future topping off.


Chilean Carmenere 2022

>> Tuesday, March 01, 2022

As I mentioned in the previous post, I've been busy since...I think December, working on some remodeling projects. This wasn't just a simple paint refresh.  We ended up taking out a bar and putting in a new one.  I moved a bunch of electrical, added new lighting, moved drain lines, etc. Our kitchen cabinets were long overdue for replacement and dogs and kids had taken a toll on our flooring, so all that was torn out as well. Long story short, lots of trips to the dump spread over lots of weekends. 

We're kind of at the end of all the destructive work and moving on to putting things back together. New flooring is going in this weekend (pretty much the only thing I'm paying someone to do for me) and I'll start installing new cabinets and appliances shortly after that. I feel like we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Anyway, the point of my long-winded intro is to point out the probably obvious fact that I haven't had a chance to brew in a long time. Because the time commitment is so much less and because my wife likes wine, I'm about to start on my second batch of wine, a Chilean Carmenere.

This is another Wine Expert kit. For this one, I'm using the yeast supplied with the kit (EC-1118) and per my usual beer brewing process, I'm making a yeast starter to help ensure a healthy fermentation. For the yeast starter, I'm using 1 quart of Knudsen Concord Grape because it's 100% juice and it's preservative free. To this I added 1/2t of Fermax Yeast Nutrient and 4t of granulated table sugar. This was boiled to sanitize then allowed to cool overnight before pitching yeast. I'll let this go for a day or two before pitching.  

Update 3/3/2022
The krausen on the yeast starter (is it called krausen when making wine?) looked like it was starting to drop a little bit, so I decided to proceed today. I'm doing primary for this one in my SS Brew Bucket. Here's the process I followed today:
  1. I added 8 cups of hot water then bentonite to the fermenter and stirred well. I used RO water for this part and ask other water additions.
  2. I added the concentrated must from the kit then topped up to the 5.5 gallon mark. The instructions call for topping to 6 gallons, but I felt comfortable going to 5.5 since I'll be adding my yeast starter, and I suspect the bucket cone will do a good job containing sediment.
  3. Next, I added the granulated oak.  
  4. Lastly, I took a gravity reading: 21.3 (1.086).  I should end up with a wine around 12.1% ABV.
  5. I pitched the yeast and am fermenting at 63F.
Stay tuned for more updates.


Pinot Noir 2022

>> Monday, February 28, 2022

I’ve been busy working on some home projects, including a full kitchen remodel, so I haven’t had any time to brew in a while. I’d purchased a Wine Expert Pinot Noir wine kit way back in July of 2019 that I’ve been planning on making this wine and blending it with some of my barrel-aged sours for a beer-wine hybrid. I’ve never tried making wine before, but these kits seem pretty straightforward and the time commitment is substantially less than brewing an all-grain batch, so I was able to fit it in one evening after work.

For these wine kits, pretty much everything that you need is included, from finings to sulfites to yeast. The only things you need to provide is some basic equipment like a carboy, racking cane, etc. Since mine had been sitting in a dark corner of my basement for over two years, I opted to purchase a fresh pack of yeast. I went with Red Star Premier Cuvée. I also picked up some Fermax Yeast Nutrient. The only other thing needed  is enough good quality water to bring the volume up to about 6 gallons. 

After doing a little Googling, it seems most wine makers ferment at warmer temps compared to your typical beer fermentation. I opted to ferment at room temp which ended up being about 68F-70F this time of year. Visible signs of fermentation wrapped up in a little over a week. Beer kit instructions are notoriously vague and often outdated compared to current best practices (e.g. no need to rack beer to secondary in most cases). The wine kit instructions seemed a little more detailed so I followed them fairly closely. The biggest difference was I left the wine in primary for about 3.5 weeks rather than the 2weeks in the instructions. The wine is currently sitting in secondary. The kit didn’t come with any oak, but I have a bunch of Medium+ French Oak, so I’m toying with the idea of aging it on an ounce-ish. Stay tuned for more updates.