Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Visiting the in-laws, I got a chance to visit two local breweries in Meadville, PA (south of Erie), Timber Creek Tap and Table and Voodoo Brewery . Tap and Table is a brewpub with eight beers on tap, including a rotating Belgian, and two seasonals. We didn’t eat there, so no food reviews. Word on the street is that service is pretty rough, but we didn’t have any problems in the Tap room side. The atmosphere was pretty laid back, with an industrial lodge feel, highlighted by a windowed floor to the brewery below. Although, I couldn’t help but think that was pretty creepy for the ladies in the bar.

Their beers were pretty much to style, and all pretty good. Unfortunately, nothing really stood out as great. The highlights included the Dortmunder, if you like the style (too sweet for me, but the wife loved it). The stout was pretty solid, too, with a good chocolate and coffee notes, but not so strong you couldn’t have more than one (see Voodoo below). The IPA seemed too hoppy almost, lacking a good backbone to support the five (really!) hops used. It reminding me of a young brewer who decided more IBUs must be better without considering structure. We’ve all been there, but it was disappointing from the pros here. One other note, they also brew a root beer on site. Cool and kid friendly.

Voodoo, in downtown Meadville, is a pretty cool place. Again, we didn’t eat, but the food coming from the kitchen looked pretty tasty. It had a more hip industrial vibe, long tables and bar, and was a good setup to linger. Their beers were more inventive, and most pretty solid. They seems to love Belgians as well, offering three different ones among their 10 offerings. Six of these are year round, and four are rotating. My only complaint was that they seem to love ABVs, with all standard taps above 7.5%. The rotating taps had some session beers to balance, though. These guys have been distributing around PA since 2007, and just moved into New York.

I really enjoyed the brown ale, and brought a growler back to the in-laws’ to enjoy. They also had an imperial stout that was great, coming in at 12%, that’ll knock your socks off. If you like Belgians, their offerings were pretty solid too. Their IPA rotates by season also, changing throughout the year. This will definitely be a standard stop on our visits as I really enjoyed the beers here. If your in the area, I’d suggest you make a stop and check it out.


Just a quick note to say that I bottled this one up this afternoon. The final gravity ended up at 1.016, a bit higher than anticipated. I think it was done, though, as the color was good and the clarity was pretty good too.

The hydro sample had a nice sweetness to it, and a golden copper color. I expected it to be a bit darker, but I think it is okay for the style. It’s probably a bit low in ABV, so maybe I’ll have to change this to a Scottish Heavy instead of an export. Used .5 oz of corn sugar in a batch prime, and ended up with 31 clean bottles, including 2 trub.

I squeezed in another brew day today, brewing up Opus 19: Kokomo Arnold Milk Stout. This recipe is based on this one from homebrewtalk, and received great reviews. My brother enjoys this style, so I thought I’d give it a go. It’ll also be a nice contrast to the light summer beers I’ve been making. The only adjustment I made was to play with the numbers for a 4 gallon batch.

The name comes from the song “Milk Stout Blues”, originally written by Kokomo Arnold, an early blues musician and contemporary of Robert Johnson. I love it when I can learn a little music history as I brew!

This is also the first batch that I will ferment in my new Better Bottle, which I bought with my winnings at the Madison River Roots Brewoff. This also marks the first time I will be using rinsed yeast, pitching a 1 L starter. I’ll have to describe that process in another post sometime.

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity 1.066 OG Estimated FG 1.017 FG
Recipe Bitterness 24 IBU Alcohol by Volume 6.4%
Recipe Color 48° SRM Alcohol by Weight 5.0%


Quantity Grain Type Use
6.00 lb Two-row (US) Grain Mashed
0.50 lb Munich (German) – [Malty, Sweet – Redish Color] Grain Mashed
0.50 lb Crystal 60L – [Body, Caramel, Head, Sweet] Grain Mashed
0.50 lb Chocolate Malt (British) – [Chocolate, Coffee, Nutty, Toasted] Grain Mashed
0.40 lb Flaked Barley [Briess] – Body for stouts and porters Adjunct Mashed
0.30 lb Flaked Oats [Briess] – Body, mouthfeel and head retention Adjunct Mashed
0.75 lb Roasted Barley – [Burnt, Coffee, Grainy, Nutty, Roasted] Grain Mashed
0.75 lb Milk Sugar Sugar Other
Quantity Hop Type Time
1.00 oz Kent Goldings (U.K.) Pellet 10 minutes
0.25 oz Magnum Pellet 60 minutes
Quantity Misc Notes
1.00 unit Irish Moss Fining Added at 15 minutes
1.00 unit Safale S-05 Dry Ale Yeast Yeast 1 liter starter

Recipe Notes

Mash 75 minutes at 152, Ferment for 3 weeks at 65
Add lactose at 10 minutes

Batch Notes

Mashed for 90 minutes at 152-154. 1.047 Preboil gravity. OG is spot on at 1.064!

Used 1 gallon less than calculated, added back for sparge

Pitched 1 L starter of rinsed US-05 yeast at high krausen, at 70 degrees.

Contest: RiverRoots Brewoff

Posted: May 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

A few weeks ago, I entered my first competition, the RiverRoots Brew-off in Madison, IN. I discovered this contest on their website, after I bought my tickets to the event. The contest limited styles to only American ales, category 10, taking only Pale ales, Amber ales, and brown ales. I happened to have both in my fridge, so with no entry fee, I drove them up there to enter.

Results were announced yesterday. My brown ale, the Earle Brown Ale, I knew was very young. It was still conditioning when I entered it, and was not brewed to compete. I put it together based on this NHC award winning recipe, combined with Jamil’s brown. I also wanted something my wife would enjoy, so I kept the hop bill in check.

This brown finished in third, scoring 29.7. Judges thought it was very drinkable, but not to style. It needed a bigger, more complex malt aroma, flavor, and finish. One judge stated these were reversed for the style. I’m not sure, but I believe they will come through with time and conditioning. I’m tempted to enter it again in a few months to see how it develops.

My other entry, the WC Handy Pale Ale, has had lots of time to condition. It was a bit over hopped, but I figured the time let the hops mellow a bit. It must have worked because this beer won the category and was named Best in Show, scoring a 40! Judges liked the aggressive hops, huge aroma, and malt balance. One noted it was almost an IPA, which it probably was, but it scored very well with flavor. Mostly flawless technique was noted too.

The funny thing with this beer is that it was brewed before I had fermentation control. It fermented on a nice cool week in a closet in my old house. Just happen to be perfect conditions that week. Moreover, I intended to use a different hop bill, as seen in Movement 2, but the LBHS was out of warrior. I made a last minute substitution, and this is better than that version!

Overall, I’m obviously excited by the results. Even had things not gone well, I think the experience of competing would have been positive. I didn’t get much help to take to my brewing, except to continue doing what I am doing, and to keep learning as I try new flavors. But, I can now claim “Award Winning Brewer” as one of my accomplishments in this hobby. Very cool, indeed!

My son was home sick today, so during his morning nap, I took the opportunity to bottle up the Ludwig IPA. Only one change on this one since the last time, and that is to use  a 3 foot hose tube from the hardware store to rack the beer to my batch priming container. I discovered last time that the new Mr. Beer spigot does not fit my bottling wand, and although I tried to rig something up for the Amadeus, it didn’t work that well.

The only other change is the recommended amount of corn sugar. I am afraid that I may have undercarbed the Amadeus, which I measured using tastybrew’s calculator. For an IPA, they recommended even less sugar (1.3 oz). Maybe I’ll be out of the proper style, but I upped it to 2 oz to be safe.

I got 20 good bottles out of this batch, and one more trub bottle. A new problem also popped up, too. After about 18 bottles, the trub backed up in the bottling wand and really slowed things down. I cleaned it out and dipped it in sanitizer before bottling the last 3 bottles, so if they are contaminated, I know why. I think the clog was because of the dry hop I used, so I’ll just have to live with it. Maybe I can keep some sanitizer in reserve to clean the wand if it happens again.

I also expected a bigger aroma to this one, which I didn’t get. It smelled good, but not big. The hydrometer taste was good, though, and this one should turn out pretty well, I think. The FG was 1.014, .002 lower than qbrew expected. Looks like a good one!