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!


It’s brew day! This batch is an all-grain version of my first extract batch, Opus 5: il Prete Rosso. I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to do a bigger batch, and try it all grain. Most everything else is the same.

Strawberry Blonde AG
Recipe Strawberry Blonde AG Style Blonde Ale
Brewer Bandmaster’s Brewing Batch 4.00 gal
All Grain

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity 1.043 OG Estimated FG 1.013 FG
Recipe Bitterness 28 IBU Alcohol by Volume 5.0%
Recipe Color 4° SRM Alcohol by Weight 3.9%


Quantity Grain Type Use
0.50 lb Crystal 10L – [Body, Caramel, Head, Sweet] Grain Mashed
7.00 lb Two-row (US) Grain Mashed
Quantity Hop Type Time
1.00 oz Kent Goldings (U.K.) Pellet 5 minutes
1.00 oz Willamette Pellet 45 minutes
Quantity Misc Notes
1.00 unit Strawberry Extract Flavor 4 oz.
1.00 unit Nottingham Dry Yeast Yeast

Batch Notes

Mashed for 60 minutes at 154, using 6.5 G of water. SG 1.038 Pre-boil. OG is 1.042. Chilled to 68*, pitched rehydrated yeast.


I’m surprised I haven’t posted a tasting update on this beer, perhaps because I was too busy drinking this one! It’s quick, easy, and very, very tasty! It has a fantastic grapefruit flavor up front, and sharp bitter bite that lasts. It has a decent body, too, and is one of my best beers to date. I find myself really wanting more after I have one!

I bottled this one up tonight with 2.8 oz of corn sugar, batch primed through my new icing bucket.

Quick notes:

The auto siphon/bottling wand was great, and fast. Even quicker if the bottle is below the bucket. I also had some issues with trub and hop debris. I got 34 bottles, including 3 trub bottles (1 of which was the first bottle in the new setup, which got some air into it).

I’m going to have to research rinsing yeast some more. My experiment with that was a failure.

The hydro sample tasted of biscuit, nutty, and chocolate. I think this one is going to be amazing when ready.

FG ended at 1.012, very close to the estimate of 1.016!

Recipe: Opus 15, Earle Brown Ale

Posted: April 6, 2013 in Recipes

Yesterday was my last day on paternity leave, and a beautiful day, so it gave me the opportunity to brew up an all grain batch before heading back to work on Monday. I wanted to brew up something my wife would enjoy (read that: malty), but something that my hoppy preference would like as well. I settled in on an American Brown Ale, looking for a balanced, but malty flavor.

For this batch, I am using my new brew pot, and for the first time, working outside on a new to me turkey burner. The pot came from Academy Sports, a bargain for 30 quarts. The burner came from a buddy of mine. This is also only my second batch at the new house. With this setup, I expanded up to a 4 gallon batch, fermenting in an icing bucket picked up free at Sam’s Club.

Here’s a pic of the new setup:


Looks pretty good, right? That was before I noticed the spigot leaking into the house, flooding the basement, and leading to an insurance claim.

The name, Earle Brown, besides obviously fitting an American Brown, is an American avant-garde composer. Yes, I had to google him, too.

On to the brew…

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity 1.063 OG Estimated FG 1.016 FG
Recipe Bitterness 34 IBU Alcohol by Volume 6.1%
Recipe Color 18° SRM Alcohol by Weight 4.8%


Quantity Grain Type Use
7.00 lb Maris Otter Malt – [Nutty] Grain Mashed
0.50 lb Crystal 40L – [Body, Caramel, Head, Sweet] Grain Mashed
0.75 lb CaraPils – [Body, Head] Grain Mashed
0.33 lb Chocolate Malt (US)- [Chocolate, Coffee, Nutty, Toasted] Grain Mashed
0.25 lb Victory Malt Grain Mashed
0.25 lb Crystal 60L – [Body, Caramel, Head, Sweet] Grain Mashed
Quantity Hop Type Time
0.50 oz Northern Brewer Pellet 60 minutes
0.25 oz Northern Brewer Pellet 20 minutes
0.50 oz Cascade Pellet 5 minutes
0.25 oz Cascade Pellet 1 minutes
1.00 oz Centennial Pellet Dry hop
Quantity Misc Notes
1.00 unit Irish Moss Fining 1 tsp at 15 minutes
1.00 unit Safale S-05 Dry Ale Yeast Yeast American: Temperature Range: 55°-75° F 11.5 GRAMS

Recipe Notes

BiaB mash, 6.75 G at 152 for 60 minutes, mash out at 170 for 15 minutes (raising temp, hold for 15 minutes)

Batch Notes

Too much water, as I spilled some of it out. Try 6.1 G next time. I think the mash was okay, but I need to work on heat retention. I threw a moving blanket over the pot during the hour. I did fire up the burner for about 30 seconds at the 25 minute mark to be sure the heat was still there. I’m going to have to research how to maintain temperature during a BiaB.

I also may keep my mash out water out of the bot initially, and add it to raise the temp at mashout. This will keep me from refiring the burner while the grain is in the pot. To do this, though, I’m going to have to use either the stove, or the side burner on my grill to heat a gallon of additional water.

Fermenting four gallons at 66. Debated on using Nottingham yeast instead, but I wanted it to be more American than English. Rehydrated as usual, and pitched at 64 degrees. Took about 20 minutes to cool, so I didn’t get much of a cold break. This was probably because half of my water was ruining my carpet instead of cooling. I also had a bit less than 1/2 gallon of crud, so I ended up using a bit more than I wanted into the fermenter. This will probably lead to a cloudier beer. Being a brown, however, I may not notice.

Preboil: 1.061 corrected OG. Totally forgot to take an actual OG before pitching, but I think it’s close. I got around 73% efficiency, based on these numbers.

Outside of the ruining my carpet thing, it was a nice relaxed afternoon. I’m really looking forward to seeing this one progress!

Just a quick note to say I bottled this one up yesterday. Used 2 oz of table sugar to see what effect it has on the carbonation. FG came in at 1.010. With so little extras going in, it  yielded 24 bottles. Maybe could have gotten another out, too, if I had it sanitized!

Hydro sample had a surprising hint of lime. I was surprised it came through so well! I am a bit concerned about infection with this one still, remembering the lid that fell in at the end of the boil. Didn’t notice anything, but it’s too early to tell.

Should be a good lawnmower throw together beer near the end of the month!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, mostly due to personal commitments. I bought a new house, and had a baby, so my brew time is pretty limited right now. Luckily, I picked up some Mr. Beer extracts from BB&B at Christmas, so I was able to sneak away and throw together this quick brew.

I’m using a new stove, so I’m still learning about it’s power, or lack thereof. Seems to take a while to bring the gallon and a half to a boil.

At any rate, here is the recipe for the Ricky Martin. Why the name? It’s latin based, and just a bit fruity!

OP15: Ricky Martin Lime Cerveza
Recipe OP15: Ricky Martin Lime Cerveza Style Blonde Ale
Brewer Bandmaster’s Brewing Batch 2.40 gal

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity 1.056 OG Estimated FG 1.012 FG
Recipe Bitterness 16 IBU Alcohol by Volume 4.5%
Recipe Color 3° SRM Alcohol by Weight 3.6%


Quantity Grain Type Use
1.00 lb Briess DME – Golden Light Extract Extract
1.87 lb Mr. Beer/Coopers Mexican Cerveza Extract Extract
Quantity Hop Type Time
0.25 oz Citra – Musky tropical fruit and strong citrus make this a great flavor/aroma hop very fruity Pellet 5 minutes
1.00 oz Mr. Beer/Coopers Mexican Cerveza Pellet 5 minutes
Quantity Misc Notes
1.00 unit Lime Zest Spice added at 10 minutes
1.00 unit Mr. Beer Dry Ale Yeast Yeast Temperature Range: 68°-76° F 2.0 GRAMS


I added 1 lb of extract to 1.5 gallons of water and brought it to a boil. I added the wort chiller (to sanitize) and the lime zest, then the hops. At flameout, I added the can of Mr. Beer Mexican Cerveza, and cooled to 66 degrees. I then topped it off with cold water, pitched the yeast, and placed in the fermenter set at 68.