Sanitation matters

It matters a lot.

Botulism isn't really a bug.  It's a toxin produced by a bug...specifically, Clostridium botulinum.

Wikipedia says "Although the botulinum toxin is destroyed by thorough cooking over the course of a few minutes, the spore itself is not killed by the temperatures reached with normal sea-level-pressure boiling, leaving it free to grow and again produce the toxin when conditions are right"

So matters a lot.

To make the point, in recent news, a prisoner making pruno in a Utah prison poisoned his fellow inmates.  The CDC reports that this isn't an isolated's occurred other times in other prisons.

My friends: be careful out there!

Bitter Betty - Kyle's first beer

Bitter Betty, an American Thanksgiving IPA

Kyle wanted to try his hand at brewing over the Thanksgiving day weekend.

  • 5# Maris Otter
  • 5# Golden Promise
  • 1# 40L Munich
  • 1 oz Warrior, first wort
  • 1 oz Galaxy, 20m
  • 1 sachet SafAle S05

Initial mash temp was, I believe, 154F

We had a round of stomach flu over the weekend and so it was an 18 hour mash...and boy, was it sour.  You can, much to Rox's chagrin, still smell it in the garage where we need to do some scrubbing on the floor...

My recipe calculator brings it in at 83 ibu, which is a tinch high for the style  but still well within my own personal guidelines.

OG was 1.050, a bit lower than we expected, particularly considering the long mash time...but the primary is going like crazy and, considering it's S05, I'm still betting we come in at 6% abv.

Initial taste into the primary was good:  I have high hopes.  It'll be interesting to see how the sour mash works with the Galaxy.  Stay tuned.

sweet mead. straight, no chaser.


It's sweet.  It's smooth.  It's really, really strong.

no ginger or orange zest or anything added to this...just primary fermentation with a "malt forward" type yeast, then the classic D47 to bat cleanup.

Like all meads, stupid easy to make...95% of mead making has to be yeast selection and temperature control during fermentation.


  • 15# Honey
  • water to 6g total
  • 1 sachet S04
  • 1/2 teaspoon yeast nutrient when sealed
  • 1/2 teaspoon yeast nutrient after 1 week
  • 1 sachet D47 after 1 week

og 1.088
fg 1.010 (but it tastes a lot sweeter than that)

and it's very, very don't notice how easy it is to sip down.  the handy abv calculator says 10%...but, uh....experience says that can't possibly be acurate.


A nice brew.  Zythos pellets are a proprietary blend from Hop Union.  To me they taste kind of like a mix of cascade and simcoe...but what do I know?

Good beer: try it yourself!

 Mash @ 154

  • 4 # 6 row
  • 4 # munich
  • 2 # acidulated
  • 1 # munich 60L
  • 1 # aromatic
  • .5 # wheat


  • 1.0 oz Zythos - first wort
  • 1.0 oz Zythos - flameout
  • 3 T Black Peppercorns - flameout

Cool and pitch 1 sachet hydrated SafAle S-04

OG 1.056
FG 1.014

This was a nice beer.  Great flavor, nice mouth feel.

The pellets came saying 10.9% aa..the amounts above had just right bitterness.

I'll make this again, albeit with a simpler mash bill.

Watermelon Wine

There's an excellent reason you never see watermelon wine at your local carry out.

It's because it's nasty.

I don't know seems like it ought to be great.

But it's not.

3 gallons watermelon juice
1 sachet D47

og 1.034 (truly, i thought it'd be higher...)
fg 0.980

but really.  it tastes bad.  not infection bad.  not "oh, just a little of this to fix it bad"....just bad bad.

It's almost like the whole thing tastes like the white part of the rind, like any taste from the red part of the melon just vanished.

So I won't be trying this one again.

Dandelion Wine

If I'd only known!

Started this back in May, just now tasting.

simmer for 1 hour:
  • 1 large pot of dandelion heads
  • 2 gallons water
  • 2 oranges, juice
  • 5 pounds of sugar 

Cool, strain and pitch a sachet each of S04 and S05. Add water to make 3 gallons total.

Dry hop with the zest of those same two oranges.

og 1.084
fg 0.900 heard me....checked with multiple hydrometers.

Anyway, as you can imagine, it's hot hot hot tasting...needs to age to take some of the alcohol heat off.

Tastes pretty good...but there's a slight green taste.  When we do it next spring, even though it's a lot more work, i think we'll pull the green root of the heads off the yellow petal parts.

I think next time we'll use honey instead of sugar...I just didn't want to go to the expense of honey until we'd tried it once to see if it was worth doing.

And I think, next spring, we'll try some different yeasts, as well.

But definitely worth doing.

Let the brewing season begin!

Now filled with sweet mead....might be a tinch too sweet but I was anxious to try a barrel aged mead before putting sours in the barrel, under the assumption that, once it's done a sour, it's pretty much dedicated to sours.

Anyway, very cool barrel the kids got me for my birthday.  First "brew" of the season, although you can see a couple carboys (dandelion wine and watermelon wine) behind it.

(note...judging from initial taste tests, there's a very good reason that you don't see watermelon wine in your local pickup....although the same can't be said for dandelion's pretty nice.)

15# honey.
H20 to 5g total
pinch of yeast nutrient

og 1.088
fg 1.010
(or, maybe not fg...but gravity into the barrel, anyway)

pretty simple.