Archive for September, 2012

After 3 weeks of fermentation and a 9 day dry hop, the Gene Autry Ale is in the bottle. The FG is reading 1.014, well within Qbrew’s range. I ended up dryhopping with .5 oz of orange peel, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 full nutmeg, .5 oz of Chinook hops, and .2 oz of Cascade. A slight change in the process, I used a sanitized stainless steel spoon as my weight in the paint bag this time.

Initial QC sample (from the hydrometer) gives a lot of orange flavor. Not as much hop aroma as I hoped, but I think (read: hope) it will balance out in the bottle. I plan on letting this sit and warm condition for a while, doing a quality sample at Thanksgiving, and  reserving most of these through the Christmas season. Maybe I’ll even wrap them up and put some under the tree, if only to avoid opening them sooner!

Remembering that this is the first time I “overfilled” the LBK to the bottom of the Quart mark, I still ended up with ?22 bottles. There was a lot of trub at the bottom of the LBK, so I didn’t push it.

It does seem a bit like Home Depot to be thinking about Christmas now, but that’s what’s required. Now to be patient…


Opus 9: Gene Autry Christmas Ale

Posted: September 8, 2012 in Recipes

Growing up, I had an old Gene Autry album, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, that I would play constantly as Christmas. It seemed fitting, then, to name my first Christmas Ale after this great country singer.

Tonight, I brewed up what I hope will be a holiday tradition and gift for friends. I based the recipe off a couple commercial clones, combining some ingredients from Schlafly and Bell’s to make a new combination I think it going to be great. This is also a bit bigger batch, 2.25 G, filling the LBK up to underneath the QUART mark.

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity 1.060 OG Estimated FG 1.018 FG
Recipe Bitterness 40 IBU Alcohol by Volume 7.1%
Recipe Color 19° SRM Alcohol by Weight 5.5%


Quantity Grain Type Use
0.25 lb CaraMunich – [Caramel] Grain Steeped
0.50 lb CaraPils – [Body, Head] Grain Steeped
1.00 lb Crystal 60L – [Body, Caramel, Head, Sweet] Grain Steeped
3.00 lb Muntons DME – Amber Extract Extract
Quantity Hop Type Time
0.50 oz Northern Brewer (Germany) Pellet 30 minutes
0.25 oz Northern Brewer (Germany) Pellet 15 minutes
0.50 oz Chinook Pellet 5 minutes
0.25 oz Cascade Pellet 5 minutes
0.50 oz Chinook Pellet Dry hopped
0.25 oz Cascade Pellet Dry hopped
Quantity Misc Notes
1.00 unit Generic Other 2 Cinnamon stick, 1 nutmeg dryhopped
0.50 unit Orange Peel, Sweet Spice Dry hopped
1.00 unit Safale S-04 Dry Ale Yeast Yeast English: Temperature Range: 59°-75° F medium attenuation with medium to high flocculation


I did my steeping a bit differently than last time. I steeped the grains in 1 gallon of water for 30 minutes as before, but then sparged the grain in 1.5 gallons of 170 degree water. I then combined these to 2.5 gallons of water before adding the extract and starting the boil. (After the boil, I ended up with about 1.5 G of wort). I also only added 1.5 lbs of the Amber extract at the start, and added the other 1.5 lbs at 5 minutes. According to some folks over at, this will diminish the “extract twang” and lighten some of the color.

I plan to dry hop with both Chinook and Cascade, as well as with Orange peel, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg. It’s a lot of aroma to bring to the party, but that’s what Christmas is about…the sights and the smells! Otherwise, this will be a slightly hoppy amber ale.

I will give it 2-3 weeks to ferment, depending on the readings from the hydrometer, and as long as possible to condition. I think with all the flavors going on, it will need the time to come together. If it works, great! If not, I’ll enjoy it myself!

It’s been a while since I posted, and since I’ve brewed. But, I did want to give a quick update on the Robert Johnson IPA before I finish the last couple bottles.

Overall, this beer has come together pretty nicely over the last couple weeks. It hit it’s stride about 8 weeks after bottling, giving a nice sized 1/2 head that lasts throughout the glass. The picture here was an early bottle, taken after 4 weeks in the bottle. The aroma isn’t as big as I would have liked, but it is still present. As I recall, I did leave it a bit longer than intended, so it was a bit diminished. I’m also not sure if the Centennial I used was the best choice for the Mr. Beer hops already in the American Devil.

As for taste, it does have a nice complexity to it from the hops. I fermented a bit hot (still no temp control, unfortunately), so it has a slight hot alcohol flavor, but not too much to bother me, and you have to really think about it to taste it, to my untrained palate. You clearly pick up grapefruit notes from the Cascade, but there is a nice balance from the malts as well. It’s definitely high on the IBUs, and gives a very dry finish. Being based on the MB extract, it’s hard to say exactly what causes the dryness, other than the bitterness. Still, the finish adds some complexity without overwhelming.

This balance improved with time, as as the beer warmed, it became very good. Early on, it was a bit too dry and certain flavors like grapefruit where much more pronounced. But over the last couple weeks, it has really been a good drinking beer.

I enjoyed the combination of hops, and think it added some nice flavor to what is already a decent MB extract. But, since Coopers has discontinued this extract, it looks like I won’t be able to try this one again, even if I wanted to.