Its not beer

Its not even alcoholic.

But it IS fermented.  Hoosier vegetarian rootcrop kimchi.

Napa Cabbage, radishes, turnips, onions, ginger.  Naturally fermented for a week and then canned.  No fish, no. no. 

I DO usually cheat, just a bit, and add some vinegar near the end of fermentation....but just a tiny splash.


Some things are just uncalled for...

They're so wrong, so misguided, that you don't even know where to start.

There I was, minding my own business, and I clicked a link to read a beer review of Upland's Double IPA.

 (image lifted from Upland's website and used without permission!)

And I got slammed with a virus.  Internet Security 2012.

Now I'm a trained professional....I did all those things you have to do and the virus is gone and the pc is intact, etc. etc.

But a virus?  On a beer review?  Of an Indiana beer?  A GOOD beer? That's just wrong.

What type of scurvy b*st*rd would load a virus on a beer review page?


Spruce beer - a revolutionary brew

Looks good, doesn't it?

Well let me tell you about it.

First, a bit of history...or, maybe, a bit of myth.  We could use a history buff here...where's Ken McCluskey when you need him?

Anyway, as I heard it, back in the day, before things started getting hinchy with England, american barley was considered inferior...and American hops were pretty much considered weeds.  So there was no brewing infrastructure here...if you wanted beer, like tea, it came from England...and if you wanted malted barley or hops, those came from England too.

Well...the time came when we weren't doing that any more...not bringing stuff in from England...and we had no malting and kilning facilities here....but we needed BEER!

What we did have, in great supply, was molasses from the sugar cane fields down south and we had a king's ransom in pine trees.  So Americans did what they've always done...they improvised.  Spruce beer with molasses as the fermentable and spruce or pine tips as the bittering agent.

So I decided to make some.

Molasses and spruce tips and bread yeast.  And it fermented out.  And it was nasty.  Incredibly nasty.  Like going out an gnawing on a pine tree, but with a big, big kick.

So I refined my recipe.  Less pine and a decent yeast (Nottingham).  Batch 2. 

Still nasty.  Undrinkable.  I've seen grown men that drink after shave (don't ask, it was a long time ago) that wouldn't have touched this stuff.

I told myself it was a novelty brew....  didn't work.  still nasty.

I gave it a year to bottle condition.  didn't work.  still nasty.

So it's been three years now and I thought that surely it had mellowed so I cracked a bottle over the weekend.

It hasn't mellowed.  Not a bit.

Its easy to believe that this, truly, is the beer that won the Revolutionary War.  Not only will swilling it put you in an ill humor and go looking for someone who needs an ass whuppin...but if that ass whuppin means that there might, possibly, conceivably, be some decent beer coming to town...well anyone worth their salt is going to take up arms.

The only, and I mean ONLY, redeeming feature is that this beer makes outstanding bread.

No.  I don't know why.  Don't have a clue.  You can't drink it, but the bread is legendary.

Vortex! A DIY stirplate

The advantages of being a packrat!

Here's a previously unused 120mm 12v pc fan...two rare earth magnets mounted to the hub...and the whole thing mounted in an old plastic terrarium from when the kids were small.

The stir bar is a couple of small magnets, a couple bits of 1/4 inch dowel, all surrounded with some sugru.

As you can see, above, it works.

Here's a picture without the can see the magnets and the cool sugru bar.
I used an old 12v supply from something or other that's long, long gone, a potentiometer to control the fan speed and a couple of pc connectors.
I have no idea what this stuff cost originally...but I know it didn't cost me a dime today!

stop. now. go here.

No, really.  Stop what you're doing and go here:

Just go.  Now.  Bookmark it.

Then, if you get your kicks from history, do the same with this:

Good stuff.  You can thank me later.

Brewers Friend - software evaluation

I think I'm fairly typical in my recipe design / brewday in that I create recipes using one of the standard software packages...print or scribble some notes on paper, then use my phone and various timers while brewing. These folks at Brewers Friend have a nice package that lets you integrate the whole process.

Go to brewers friend and sign up.  Its free, but you need to register to take advantage of most of the cool features.

The recipe page, shown above, needs no real explanation.  It's drop dead simple to use.  Just design your beer like you would using any software and save the recipe. 

Now's when it gets cool.

First off, click the "my recipes" tab and then pick "edit" for your recipe.  Click the "share" tab.  You get a link you can send your friends and they can use your recipe, too!

Here's mine for a Pliny style thing I brewed over BrewDay

Ok...not cool enough for you?  Try this:  click on the "my brewing" tab.

There's your beer, with all the "stuff" you'd normally scribble for a brewing it....mash schedules, hop additions, etc.  Even some tips / checkoff items for the stuff that I, anyway, have screwed up too often (close the spigots on the mash tun, stuff like that).

Still not cool enough?  Ok...I can understand can do all that with your pencil and paper...get a checkoff sheet, add in your own timings and hop let's go for really mondo cool -> click the "brew timer" tab.

There's your recipe, converted into a brewsession, with the checkoff sheet, AND the timers for the mash, etc built in.

Work through your schedule, check things off, start the timers when you come to them...all on your phone.

Truly...I'm impressed.  The recipe formulation is solid, the share recipe is nice, the check off sheets, the built in sessions with timers....  Your whole brewing day in one, integrated piece of software.  Very nice.  Kudos to the programmers and kudos to thinking through the process.

I urge you to try it.  It's free, so you've got nothing to lose.

(also...a given, but just to be clear, there's no renumeration, etc passing hands here...I just wandered across these folks and really like the package).


A nice brew.

Mash @ 154
  • 1 T Gypsum
  • 4 # Golden Promise
  • 5 # 2 Row Pale
  • .5 # Wheat
  • 2 # Rye

  • 1.0 oz Northern Brewer - first wort
  • 1.0 # cane sugar - 30 min
  • 0.5 oz Northern Brewer - 15 min
  • 1 T Black Peppercorns - 5 min

Cool and pitch 1 sachet hydrated SafAle S-05
Rack to secondary and dry hop w/ 1 oz Willamette

OG 1.064
FG 1.009

appearance is a bit cloudy, tastes great...will try again with more rye