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Vienna Lager Train! Woot! All Aboard!

Wait, what?

Slow down there mister.  Vienna Lager?  Aren’t you Mr. Look-at-all-the-barrels-I-have?  Mr. Sours?  Mr. “Infection is Sacch in Your Beer”?  What is going on? 

I’ll tell you what’s going on, and that is the Vienna Lager train.  All aboard this choo-choo as we head to crushable flavortown.  I’ve jumped on and so should you.  Here’s why.

Vienna Lager is a really delightful style of beer whose origins are somewhat all over the place, although there are clues here and there that eventually take us back to Austria.  Before we dive in though, the question that needs to be answered is why are we looking at this kind of beer?  First and foremost is flavor.  Vienna Lager is a well balanced, crisp, clean, easy drinking beer that almost anyone will enjoy.  More complex than a Pilsner, without the over-malted tones of an Oktoberfest/Märzen.  Most of us have had an Oktoberfest beer, think of Vienna as being along the same track, but with much more hop-balanced, subtle flavors.  I’m not the first to mention that this is NOT a mini-Märzen.   It is a lower strength beverage, but the malt/hop profile is different than an Oktoberfest – which makes it an even easier beer to sip.  Your Budweiser drinking buddies will think they’re having some succulent craft beverage.  Hipsters will love it because most have never heard of it.


Why else would a sour-beer loving soul such as myself recommend a Vienna Lager?  Its palate cleansing goodness.  As much as I love sour and wild beer, sometimes its nice to have a break to refresh.  Whether it’s enjoying a clean Vienna between sampling sour brews (and Zantac), or even taking a few weeks between some low pH pounders, it’s great to give your mouth a chance to relax and establish a baseline.  I find that even though I’m drinking lots of sour beer, my in-between go-tos are Vienna Lagers and fresh IPAs.  I’m no expert in Vienna Lagers, but here’s what I’ve learned over the last year or so.

A traditional Vienna Lager would have been made in Vienna almost exclusively with Vienna malt.  Nowadays they are slowly working back to this tradition, but for a while were influenced by beers of a similar name coming out of Mexico.  Back in the early 19th century, malt was kilned using direct fire.  This is akin to putting your meat on the grill directly over the coals: the malt (just like the meat) became a dark color very quickly.  It was the travels of Munich Brewer Gabriel Sedlmayr (Spaten Brewery) and Vienna Brewer Anton Dreher (Dreher Brewery) that shed some light on another method of kilning malt: indirect fire.  Think putting the coals on one side and meat on the other.  Result?  Lighter, brown coloring and less char.  Enter lightly toasted malts.

Sedlmayr and Dreher brought this malting technology back to their hometowns (along with a few stolen samples.  Yes, they actually had a cane made for their journey fashioned with a metal tube designed for stealing wort and yeast.  Sedlmaryr is often quoted as saying, “It always surprises me that we can get away with these thefts without being beaten up.”).  Dreher kilned his malt in Vienna to a similar toast we are familiar with, and Sedlmayer toasted his at a slightly higher temperature and for a bit longer, hence the Munich malt having stronger flavors.

It was in 1841 that Dreher showcased his new beer in Vienna.  Much of the research about color and flavors are somewhat unclear, but one thing is for certain: Dreher wanted his beer to be bright.  From all accounts I have read, many of the beers of that time were darker: brown and red.  The impression I get is that a Vienna lager in Dreher’s day is much lighter than the commercial examples we’ve come to know.

So… Mexico?  Quick version: Mexico stopped paying money to Europe, Napoleon III invades, and an Austrian was declared Emperor of Mexico.  Enter German immigrants and all sorts of tradespeople, including brewers – one Santiago Graf – and the delicious Vienna elixirs.  Slowly though, Vienna lager begins to fade from the scene, being replaced by darker lagers – some even still identifying as the  Vienna style.

I jumped on the Vienna Train when my blogging internet friends started talking shit about how good their Vienna Lagers were.  Like me, your first step is disbelief.  Suuuurre Captain Pedio, those beers are probably “okay”, but don’t stand up to other, more “complex beers.”  Wrong.  The second step is to playfully start talking shit back about how good of a Vienna Lager you’re going to brew.  Third, frantically research what a Vienna Lager is (I’m helping you out on this one).  Fourth, brew it.  Try some commercial examples (I drank a lot of Devils Backbone at HomebrewCon this last year).  Drink your brew, and try again.  This is my fifth batch of Vienna so far and it’s definitely a contender for the best one.  I’ve tried this recipe, one from Derek over at Five Blades Brewing, a triple decoction 100% Vienna malt, and a few variations on going as close to all Vienna as I can.

I opted for using Tettanager instead of Hallertau or Saaz, and only added dashes of melanoiden and carafa II (for a slight color change).  I wanted it to be as close to 100% Vienna as I could, but found in a previous batch that a little color and melanoiden was pleasant.  I chose to do a faster lager fermentation.  I pitched at 50F, held for a couple days, then ramped it up a couple degrees per day until I hit the mid 60s.  After five days at 66F, I lowered it to 33F, kegged, fined, and served.  What a gorgeous beer this turned out to be.  Not as dark as some commercial examples that use darker malts (Backbone!  Ahem!), but really a pleasant beer.


Other than brewing Viennas, I’ve been working on my NEIPAs and blending/fruiting lambic beers from 2013/2014.  If you follow my homebrewery regularly, you’ll find there has been more action on the ‘social media’ websites than the blog.  Part of that is the simplicity of posting a photo with a tagline, part of it is the lack of time I have for articles now with an additional child in the house.  I’m working on getting a few more articles ready, including more NEIPA thoughts, a few foodie recipes, more bread, eventually some “Milk the Funk” wiki writing, and tentatively a few short webisodes showing “how-to’s” and other fun stuff.  In addition to all that, I’m brewing beers for discussion here for our local brew club meetings, getting ready for winter, and parenting to the maximum.  If you want to follow along more with what happens, I’m pretty sure the social media buttons work.  Contact me here or there!  Cheers!

Hollow Cane

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5.5 gal 60 min 23.8 IBUs 8.9 SRM 1.050 1.011 5.1 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Vienna Lager 7 A 1.048 - 1.055 1.01 - 1.014 18 - 30 9 - 15 2.5 - 3 4.7 - 5.5 %


Name Amount %
Vienna Malt 10 lbs 98.04
Carafa II 1.6 oz 0.98
Melanoiden Malt 1.6 oz 0.98


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Tettnang 1 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 5.5
Tettnang 0.5 oz 15 min Boil Pellet 5.5


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Mexican Lager (WLP940) White Labs 74% 50°F - 55°F


Step Temperature Time
Mash In 150°F 75 min

Aroma is light and malty, less so than the Paulaner Oktoberfest I drank earlier.  Light hop spiciness.  Clean, no off flavors.

Appearance is crystal clear.  Not as dark as many commercial examples, but still lovely looking.


When it comes to flavor, this beer is on the lighter scale of commercial Viennas I’ve tried… it’s an edge above the widespread pale lagers, with medium maltiness.  A light toastiness follows the malt character, then a balanced hop flavor and clean lager finish.  No caramel, no roast.   Finishes dry.  More body than a Pilsner.  Exceptionally easy to drink.

Yeast Wrangling Adventure

Before we get into this article, I wanted to share with you an few updates.  First, I took the giant leap and am on social media, however only in a homebrew sense.  Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as “Brouwerij Chugach.”  This way you can follow along all the other updates, photos, and simply join me in sharing what we’re doing with beer.  (As you know, I’m not trying to sell you anything – I’m always ad-free! – and there’s no other reason to join than to share the knowledge and inspiration.)   I hope to see you soon!


For those of you who frequent this blog (as often as it is) you’ll know that there’s more to my brewing than just a bunch of numbers and ingredients.  There’s some romantic notion in my head when I brew, especially when making a wild beer.  For me, a wild beer not only tastes delicious, but captures a place and a time that can never be repeated.  Most of my sour beers are several years old by the time I drink them, and they give me a chance to reflect – what was I doing three years ago?  However, a wild beer (one that is fermented from the wild) captures a time and a place.  This post documents the trip I took to capture the time and place for an upcoming brew.   It’s pretty Alaska photo heavy, but it’s hard not to be when the scenery is like this.  Plus, it’s my damn blog 🙂

Taking it all in.

What a place.

As wild & sour beer is becoming more and more popular, many brewers and breweries are attempting to make the “next” best wild beer.  There are many methods when dealing with the grist, hopping, and souring techniques.  One of the most popular ingredients to experiment with is yeast.  Being the unicellular organism responsible for fermentation, it’s pretty easy to say that we as brewers set the stage: the yeast are the cast and crew of the beer-making show.

Fall is coming. Which means winter is too.

Yeast can be anywhere!

While White Labs and WYeast have dominated most of the commercially-available liquid yeast for several decades, there are many new yeast suppliers providing an even broader spectrum of yeast strains for the home brewer.  If that isn’t great enough, they’re also starting to provide us with brettanomyces, other bacteria cultures, and blends.  (For a full list of yeast suppliers, check here on the Milk the Funk Wiki.)  Even greater, as a brewer you have the ability to go and get your own yeast as well!



This post deviates from my “regularly scheduled programming” as it does not provide conclusive results of any beer.  I’m sharing this with you to remind you that this is the time to go yeast harvesting!  While spring and fall are generally considered good times for coolshipping, fall is a great time to get some wild yeast from flowering blossoms and fruit on the vine.



This past week my youngest brother moved back to Anchorage where my other brother and I reside.  We decided to celebrate with a weekend of heading out to the Nelchina Public Use area just past the Eureka Roadhouse, on the way to Glennallen.  Fall is just starting to hit some parts of Alaska, and that clicked off a reminder for me that it’s yeast wrangling time – so I packed some dried malt extract and some mason jars in hopes of finding the next best thing.  We packed up my brother’s new side-by-side 4×4 and met up Friday evening.  After an evening ride out to a gorgeous overlook we slammed a few beers, crashed, and woke up early to go exploring.  With hunting season having recently opened August 20th, the few other riders we saw asked us if we were out hunting.  I resisted with all my might not to say, “Well of course!  By the way, what kind of media are you going to be propagating your microbes with?”

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The creek where I harvested the wildflowers is in the back/center of this photo.

The next morning we packed up everything we’d need for the day: a hi-jack, extra clothes, rain gear, food, water, and a few slugs in the 12 gauge (for bears), just in case we ended up stuck somewhere.  We were two hours out of town and heading towards the mountains almost twenty miles off the nearest highway.  If we got stuck in the mud or if the engine quit, it wasn’t a sure bet we’d be able to get out right away.  I put a few videos up on youtube if you want to see what it was like that day.  Here’s one.  Here’s another one with even more exciting terrain.

Guess who was driving?

Guess who was driving?

Due to the bouncing around that ensued while the four wheeler was in motion, I decided not to fill with the wort I’d be using; I just collected samples in the mason jars.  The first place we stopped was atop an overlook before we headed down into a canyon.  [Location: 62°02’28.1″N 147°19’44.6″W] With a slight breeze in the air, I thought this might be a fun place for a collection.  I sliced off a few crowberries stems and put them into Jar #1.  We took in the views and headed out.

Crowberries aquired.

Crowberries acquired.

After cruising around a bit more, we headed down a valley toward a riverbed that looked fun.  My brother found a rock filled with oceanic-looking fossils… interesting!  But not as interesting as the wildflower I found to add to Jar #2.  [Location: 62°04’20.1″N 147°22’01.8″W] Gotcha!

Getting some wildflowers.

Getting some wildflowers.

We tried taking the river downstream and explore further, but after the first set of water came over the hood we decided to head back the way we had come.  We paused on the way back to pick a few blueberries – they were insanely thick and I can’t resist a blueberry pie.  Hopefully, neither could the yeast; Jar #3 was filled with blueberry bush stems with the delicious fruit still attached.  [Location 62°01’12.1″N 147°11’13.1″W]

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Capturing those blueberries!

After picking a gallon of berries, we went back to camp and crushed a few more brews.  I noticed some Fireweed on the far side of our camp and filled Jar #4 with some blossoms. [Location: 61°57’35.4″N 147°07’34.9″W].

Fireweed at camp.

Nabbed some fireweed at camp.

When I got back home, I boiled up some wort to gravity 1.020 and filled each jar 2/3 full.  I also trimmed each set of branches/flowers so they would all be under the wort.  I chose a low gravity wort to gently introduce the yeast to their new lives.  After they’ve fermented out, I’ll step them up with 1.030 and then 1.040 wort.  Each time I step them up, I’ll taste the discarded fermented-out wort to assess flavor.  If one them tastes like “assess” with one less “s”, then I’ll probably dump it out.

Samples collected!

Samples collected!

What do you need to do to capture your own yeast?  Do you have to travel to the backwoods of Alaska?  Good news!  You don’t!  All you need are a few mason jars, something to cut a sample or swab one, and some malt extract to help step up your yeast as quickly as possible.  If you want to go the easy route, Bootleg Biology offers a yeast wrangling kit that has everything you need!  You can even send your yeast off to their Chief Wrangler and he just might culture it up for you.

I hope this has inspired you to give some yeast wrangling a try.  It’s simple, fun, and there isn’t a lot of special equipment needed to get started.  Yeast hunting is a great way to get outside and capture a few memories you can share over a bottle of homebrew in several years.

The drive home. Just a pretty shot.

The drive home. Just a pretty shot.

Butter 2

It’s pretty obvious I like bread – scratch that, I love bread.  Beer (a Lawnmower Lambic, in particular) is naturally the perfect thirst quencher after destroying half of a batard.  However, my bread does not get consumed naked – it gets adorned with butter before being consumed.  Most of us probably use butter or some other fat (cheese, olive oil, bacon drippings…) when eating toast or similar.  I go between both butter and olive oil.  Unless I have a snazzy bottle of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), I tend to use butter – but found most store bought butter still needed some sprucing up with salt, pepper, saffron, etc.  Enter the stronger flavor of cultured butter.


Store bought, 24 hour, and 72 hour cultured

As you probably have read (or just recently did) I culture my own butter and churn it for pairing with my bread.  If you didn’t read the link before, here it is again – it goes over how to make cultured butter.  I’ll briefly review the steps here again.  You’ll notice that the cream I used in the original post was locally sourced (pasteurized) 15 min from where I used to live in Portland, ME.  I also had used “Siggis” yogurt to add my cultures.  Siggis has several strains of lactobacillus in it, and is a really tasty product.  This time, however, I decided to do a little exBUTTERiment (apologies to Brulosophy) and see if great cultured butter could be made from simpler, more affordable, store-bought cream and more widely available yogurt (although Siggis can be found many, many places.)


Cream + yogurt. Yum!

In this batch of butter I did several things.  First, for my fat I used heavy cream from Costco.  Nothing special, and most of you reading this probably have access to a big box store that sells heavy cream.   For my “culturing” I used Tillamook plain yogurt – again, a pretty common yogurt you can find in most box stores that has some lacto in it as well.  Just for kicks I also tossed in two capsules of some lactobacillus plantarum I had ordered from Amazon for beermaking.  I used my method outlined on the previous page and ended up with two products.


The 72 hour cultured cream drizzling into the processor. Hnng…

I added a small dollop of yogurt to a half gallon of cream and let it sit at room temperature, covered with cheesecloth for 24 hours before churning half of the batch (about 1 quart).  I let the other half sit for 72 hours before churning to give it more time to develop any additional flavors. Both were churned in my food processor, washed, then refrigerated.  (**Don’t forget to save the runoff when you strain it – that stuff is buttermilk and is great for pancakes!  See below!)

Here’s a video of the churning process.  Feel free to skip through it, it takes almost two and a half minutes to separate to butter and buttermilk – But here’s the whole shebang.  (Whipped cream is at 1:30ish, separation begins just after the 2:00 mark.)


Here we are after emptying the food processors contents into a strainer:

Strain and save!

Strain and save!

And the ice water washing (so as not to melt the butter):

Wash, wash, wash with ice water until close to clear.

Wash, wash, wash with ice water until close to clear.


I let them sit in the fridge to stabilize and snacked on them both with the fourteen loaves of bread I’ve made in the last two weeks.  (Yes, one-four.  I give a lot away.)  Then I decided to do a side by side taste test to see if there were flavor differences between the two fermentation times and whether it really was worth the effort and mess when compared to store-bought standard butter.  I tasted them both on bread as well as small amounts plain.  All were sampled at room and refrigerator temperatures.

Sample time. My favorite!

Sample time. My favorite!

If you want to skip the notes below, the bottom line is I still think it’s worth culturing your own butter, even if you’re using generic ingredients from Costco.  A big batch is pretty easy to do and freezes easily for long term enjoyment.  While cream sourced from a local dairy is still my favorite, store-bought ingredients do seem to deliver more flavor than a standard block of butter.

As long as you don’t mind having to meticulously clean your food processor (or run it through your dishwasher), it’s a process worth repeating.  Higher fat content and stronger butter flavors are a great treat and will easily “wow” your friends & family.


Notes on 24-Hour-Cultured, 72-Hour Cultured, and Standard (Std) Butters:

Directly out of the fridge they taste similar, although there is a slightly more complex flavor in the two cultured samples than the std.

At room temperature, I found the texture of the 24-hour to be my favorite.  Light and fluffy, like whipped butter.  It was a close call, but I also enjoyed the flavor of the 24 hour the best on bread as well as plain.  It seemed to have the most “cultured” taste to it.  Standard store bought butter was almost lifeless compared to both samples.  The 24 had a lighter, “brighter” cultured flavor, whereas the 72-hour seemed harder to pick up on and more mellow.  Both were obviously different than the store-bought, but it was hard to tell the difference between the 24 from the 72-hour versions when tasted side by side.  I’m not convinced I could pick it out of a triangle test.




Hopefully you saved your buttermilk.  If you did, you’re in for a treat.  You can use it for waffles, pancakes, cakes, etc.  My favorite lately has been pancakes.  I got to experiment a lot recently with the large quantity of buttermilk I’ve had from the two batches of butter I made.  Here’s a recipe I’ve been working on and am quite happy with.  Nothing too unique, but they’re freaking delicious.


1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1 banana

1/4 tsp vanilla (depending on taste)

1 tbsp butter or oil (don’t use evoo)

1 cup einkorn flour (or whole wheat)

1.5 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp sugar

All purpose flour (Anywhere from 0 to 1/4 cup.  Add until batter is thick enough for the cakes you want.)


Notes:  I mix the egg, banana, and buttermilk together in a blender to homogenize.  Then pour into the dry ingredients.  Mix it all up, but don’t overmix.  Blueberries are a bonus.  Cook on a cast iron skillet on medium.  Top with your cultured butter and whatever else you like!


Fast & Dirty Sours: What the hell happened? | Batches 3 – 7

Welcome back to the Fast and Dirty Sours series.  Here we’ll cover batches 3 – 7.


The goal of a quick sour beer is entertaining to me.  Most “fast sour” beers are simply that: sour beers.  What I’ve been looking for are quick ways of making “Sour” Beers – however that term does include beers that are fermented with Brettanomyces and are often not sour at all.  (I’ll stick to the term sour beer, but know that what I’m looking for is a drinkable beer with both sour and brettanomyces character.)

Soon after I started the F&D sour series I found myself busy prepping for my HomebrewCon talk, getting my house in order for child #2 (expected any day now), and trying to pour most of my efforts into learning about personal finance.  I’m also working to help update the Milk the Funk “Getting Started” page, which I hope to have completed soon.  Needless to say, I am deciding to give you updates on the last few batches of F&D sours all at once so as not to prolong writing about these crappy beers.

In the first several batches of this series, I found myself experimenting with different sources of yeast/microbes.    Some of them were starters I grew and tasted nasty, so they never made it into an official “batch”.  Others passed the starter test and found themselves in 2.5 gallons of wort, as always, a 60/40 blend of Pilsner and Wheat malt.  Many are still to be tested, I’m kind of a yeast hoarder.  In batches 3-6, I experimented with lactobacillus from yogurt, a lacto blend with “Bring on da Funk”, my Partial Eclipse blend, and a kombucha culture.  Each one had its own special outcome.  You’ll notice this post is titled batches 3-7, however – and we’ll discuss Batch 7 at the end.


After all the strains I’ve experimented with over the years, I think the proposal for my next HomebrewCon talk will be: “Fantastic Yeasts and Where to Find Them

Batch 3 used Lactobacillus from Yogurt as well as a blend of a farmhouse strain and brettanomyces brux I had from a previous beer.  It was “cold side soured” after the boil using lactobacillus from yogurt (which I had grown on a stir plate for 3 days).  After being “soured”, it was cooled and the blend of Farmhouse/Brett was added.  After a month, this beer was what I called “Nothing Special.”  It had a thin, very light one-dimensional sourness, and was very, very dry.  I speculate the yogurt didn’t end up souring as much as I had thought it would, each sample I tried wasn’t very tart at all.  My pH meter died so I didn’t take a reading.  I ended up blending this beer with another sour beer that was a little “too much.”  The blend is fine.

Batch 4 used Lactobacillus from grain, as well as the “Bring on da Funk” blend form Omega Labs.  Using the same methods (although skipping the yogurt this time and using grain) the beer came out lightly sour, although it had a dirty/sweaty flavor to it, with a lot of dryness and astringency.  It was also slightly sweet.  This one I blame on the yeast possibly dying in transit.  This yeast came during the ‘cooler’ months up here and I believe it spent a little too long in the mail truck/box.  I never got a lot of carboy action out of this (although there was a little bit), and I think it eventually just sat there and decided to crap out bad flavors.  I’m calling it a failure based on yeast.  Dumped.

Batch 5 used my Partial Eclipse blend of brettanomyces and had really great sourness.  However, while I was on vacation in April the airlock went dry.  (The air here can be very dry.)  Judging from the oxidized flavors, astringency, and armpit flavors I tasted/spat out, I dubbed it a “whoops.”  Dumped.

Batch 6 used Kombucha Dregs I had from a tasty bottle of kombucha.  I stepped them up slowly.  Each stepping yielded a tasty few ounces so I pitched them into a 2 gallon batch.  The result was disgusting.  Dirt, bile, moss, etc.  Nothing great.  If I was going to do this again, I’d try using a Scoby from someone rather than stepping them myself.  (A friend of mine used dregs to make his scoby, which is why I thought this would work.)

This brings us to Batch 7.

Batch 7 was brewed only two weeks ago.  I received a generous portion of Funk Weapon #2 from a brew buddy Matt of “To Brew a Beer.”  The first starter tasted delicious and it revitalized my desire to brew beer using a stir plate.  As I’ve mentioned before, many of the starters I’ve made go down the hatch and taste great.  So I brewed a one gallon batch, this time using some oats and a bit less wheat.  I hoped the oats would provide some more body that I was wishing I had in a few of the earlier versions.  I brewed the batch and let it sit on a stir plate for 7 days.  Afterwards, I crash cooled and carbonated using a carb-cap and served from a 2L plastic bottle (something I was a little too well known for at HomebrewCon).  It should be noted in the tasting that the first time I stepped it up I let it ride too long on the stir plate and it got extremely acetic, undrinkably so.  I didn’t decant as well as I should have and some of that acidity did make it into the final beer in a level slightly higher than I would have liked.


Batch 7

The results?  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  Actually this beer is pretty good.  Definitely tastes young, but summertime-crushable.

Aroma is grainy with light overripe tropical fruit.  “Punchy ripeness” (from the Bootleg Bio page) fits this appropriately.  Some acetic acid (as noted above).  A light doughiness.

Appearance is hazy, probably from the oats.  I didn’t fine this batch.  I plan to next time.

Flavor is pleasant.  Light doughiness, some acidity, comes across to me as lemonesque.  No hop bitterness.  Light acetic notes.  Normally I can’t stand acetic, but in this beer it works in tandem with some lactic-flavored acidity.   It’s not perfect by any means, but is really quite pleasant for a week and a half out, being 6% ABV, and having not been kettle-soured.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a medium dry finish.  This water profile is the same as the one I used in Amerihops, which I feel helps smooth this otherwise harsh beer out.

Overall, I’m quite happy with how this came out, especially given the nastiness of some of the previous batches.  What’s next for the F&D Sours?  I’m going to continue my stir plate method, perhaps with an overnight “flask sour” in the future if it doesn’t end up as sour as I’d like.  I plan on testing various strains and messing with my malt bill slightly.  I’m also enjoying kind of using the NEIPA style malt/water profile, just without all the hops: crushable, yet complex.



Amerihops: Independence Brew

Open this in a new tab before reading for the best experience.


“Good morning.  In the past two weeks, three different malts joined forces with four varieties of hops from around the world.  They attempted to launch the hoppiest elixir  in the history of India Pale Ales.  

India Pale Ale – that word has new meaning for us these days.  

We can’t be consumed by our petty clarity differences anymore.  

We will be united in our common goal: fresh, smooth hop flavors.  

Perhaps it is fate that the day we celebrate together was when this beer was completed: merging styles of both West and East coasts into an achievement unparalleled anywhere.  Not a beer labeled by polarized coasts, but a beer that showcases the best of both; all brewed in the greatest state in the union.  

We brew these beers so that we may live remarkably.  

July 4th is known as a great American holiday – and the day we declare in one voice:

We will not skimp on ingredients!

We will not bicker over clarity!

We are going to live large!

We will add more hops!  

Four days ago, we celebrated Independence Day!”



I know its a few days late, bite me.  In the last year or so I’ve been brewing a whole lot of beer, but one keeps coming back and getting brewed consistently: An IPA with a softer bitterness and a smooth finish.  To some, its called the New England IPA, or NEIPA.  Sometimes they’re referred to as New England Pale Ales, depending on the hopping rate.  What I love about these beers is their extreme drinkability and super-fresh hop flavors.


F yeah.

Not everyone loves them, as we’ve discussed.  There are many who think the haziness of the beer is off-putting and don’t enjoy the haziness factor.  Others chase it down like a bear going after spawning salmon.  As I mentioned earlier, when I can get a clear beer, it’s great, but if I’m unable to do so easily, I’m able to live with it.  To each their own.


I brewed this beer very similar to the way I brewed Alohops a few months ago.  Differences this time were a change in the amount of oats, using London III, and playing with some of the “less juicy” hops to impart a deeper and more complex flavor.  While I’ve really enjoyed all the Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy, etc., I wanted a little more flavor and a tad more bitterness.  I left my charge of magnum alone, and decided to use some Falconer’s 7Cs in my knockout and dry hopping.  What I got was a delightfully hoppy beer with a little more bite, yet still great smooth hop flavors.

Brewdays have gotten really simple for me when brewing this style: I’ve got all my additions memorized and bought a few trinkets to help transitions go smoother throughout the day.  I’m able to brew this beer in under four hours while watching my son (part of which conveniently overlaps with his nap time).  Not too bad.

During our lunch, I brought all the equipment I’d need into the kitchen.  After lunch, my son hit the hay.  Once he passed out, I started to heat my strike water and crushed grain.  Once warm and crushed, my brew bag was added to the pot, as were the water adjustments and my grain.  I mixed and let it sit while I got my makeshift fume hood out and cleaned up a few things on our porch.   I hoisted the bag up, let it drain, rinsed the grain, squeezed out the rest, and started to heat.  With a heat stick I’m able to be at a boil in under 20 minutes.  I weighed out hops and added my first charge when I started the timer.

I didn’t add any other hops until whirlpool.  I cooled to 190F, and let 4 oz of hops steep for 25 minutes.  I put my brew bag back in to help with hop removal.  I don’t mind a little trub, but this does get nuts after dry hopping.


I hit this with a 1L slurry of London III, and it fermented at 70F for 4 days.  It was then raised to 72F and 5oz of dry hops were added.  Four days later, it was crashed and kegged.  I started drinking it later that day, thanks to my carbonation stone.  The first day it was somewhat harsh and I was afraid I’d over-bittered.  However, with a couple more days in the kegerator, it’s pouring well and drinking exceptionally smooth.  Not quite as easy as “Alohops“, but I personally enjoy a little more of the bite.  I also liked using all Crisp MO as the base with a splash of vienna.  Really tasty.


Next iteration?  I’ll probably do something similar, but I’d like to try playing around with oat and wheat levels.  I’m also toying with a similar brew without using oats – a friend of mine is getting married so I’ve got a couple brews I’m going to do in a similar fashion for the occasion.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5 gal 60 min 90.0 IBUs 6.6 SRM 1.080 1.018 8.2 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Imperial IPA 14 C 1.07 - 1.09 1.01 - 1.02 60 - 120 8 - 15 2.2 - 2.7 7.5 - 10 %


Name Amount %
Pale Malt, Maris Otter 12 lbs 78.87
Vienna Malt 2 lbs 13.15
Oats, Flaked 1.214 lbs 7.98


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Magnum 0.72 oz 60 min First Wort Pellet 14
Citra 2 oz 25 min Aroma Pellet 12
Falconer's 7C 2 oz 25 min Aroma Pellet 14
Galaxy 2 oz 4 days Dry Hop Pellet 14
Falconer's 7Cs 1 oz 4 days Dry Hop Pellet 14
Citra 2 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 12


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
London Ale III (1318) Wyeast Labs 73% 64°F - 74°F


Step Temperature Time
Mash In 150°F 75 min


Water profile: Ca 115 | Mg 11 | Na 9 | Cl 120 | SO4 124



Aroma is dominated by huge hoppy notes of citrus, passionfruit, mango, and tropical fruit.  Every time I spill a drop here or there the aromas infiltrate the entire room.  This is an aromatic monster.

Taste is phenomenal.  The hoppiness is well balanced by the Maris Otter, and the silky smoothness of the oats coats your mouth pleasantly.  There is some of that “juicy” character from the Galaxy/Citra, but also a deeper, more robust flavor from the Falconer 7Cs blend.

Appearance is not terrible.  Its not crystal clear, but as you can see in the photos, its not a mud pie.  I didn’t get any of the grey-ness that others say shows up with using darker malts.  More of a light orangish amber.  I tried not to mess with the photos too much to showcase its true color.

Mouthfeel is spot on for a NEIPA, but with a touch more bitterness in the aftertaste, which I really enjoy.

Overall, a great beer.  Its probably a tad more bitter than a NEIPA should be.  I realize its not the perfect blend of both Coasts (as I hinted at in the opening) but I feel like a little more earthy/spicy/citrus character would meld excellently with those classic NEIPA juice-hops.



Its a quarter past five and I’m seeking liquid cheer,

I open my fridge and find I’m running low on beer.

So off to the spreadsheets: Beersmith & Bru’n Water,

Even browsed an article saying its bad to chill with copper.


Recipe in hand now that the Sandman has my son,

I head out to the brewery to get some work done.

First thing I grab is a stainless ten gallon pot,

Set it on the stove and fill with water that is hot.


While the water is warming I weigh out some grain.

Barley crusher and a drill: check crush, mill again.

Usually there is some light spillage of grist,

So I go grab the broom and try not to get pissed.


Water is adjusted, and reached the correct calefaction,

I put in a brew bag, some grain and start the action

of mixing my grain with an over-sized whisk

I don’t care about aeration  – I’m convinced there’s no risk.


With a swirl and a flick the whisk is removed

And I check the temp: a perfect one-fifty-two.

On goes the lid and a light mash tun insulator

I’ll come back to check on this sixty minutes later.


While the starches are converting to sugar in my mash,

I go to the freezer and pull out some pelletized hash.

Magnum for bittering, Citra for a low temp whirl

I’ll also add Galaxy, Falconer’s and perhaps Perle.


I weigh out my hops for a hazy New England I-P-A

One sixty minute addition with the rest put away,

Till end of the boil after a light temperature drop,

I’ll put in four ounces of hops with a plop.


The mash is completed the enzymes are done

Its time to begin some BIAB sparging fun.

I hoist up the bag and its 210 micron filter

The wort drops down while the bag is in kilter.




With the spent grain removed the wort begins to heat,

I reach in the fridge for Fermicap and a leftovers to eat.

A few drops per gallon and one more for good luck

If this thing boils over, my wife will yell @%^#!


With a heat stick to supplement my electrical range,

The wort is almost ready for a slight phase change.

A bittering charge of Magnum goes in with a stir

Yeah, I weighed those in grams – I’m no amateur.


The boil rages on forty five minutes or more

I toss in my chiller and Irish moss (really, what for?)

Fresh hops, chloride rich water, adjunct-ed with wheat.

This beer will be hazy enough to make Jamil need to tweet.


I turn the heat off and get ready to whirl in the pot

With my ghetto-hydra-style-chilling big copper knot.

In go the hops and steeping goes on for about twenty

Then pour into the fermenter with London Ale III yeast aplenty.




Down to the cellar where its cooler, yeasties can frolic

By eating these sugars they’ll make this sweet tea alcoholic.

I turn back to the counter all covered with grime

and clean before my wife gets home, thus concealing my crime.


Exit Glacier. 6-24-16.

Exit Glacier. 6-24-16.

Oude Kriek?

This week will be exactly two years since I wrote about Framboise.  Well, what about Kriek?

I brewed my first batch of “as authentically possible” Lambic in 2013.  The second batch was in early 2014.  After letting that batch sit for a year, I kegged some and fruited the remaining two different ways.  The first one became the Framboise you may have read about in the aforementioned article (10 gallons, 3lb/gallon).  The second part received cherries at a rate of 2.5lb/gallon (5 gallons total).  I’m going to admit here that I didn’t have access to any great cherries at that particular time, so I used frozen ones from Costco.  There you have it, I’m not an actual lambic brewer and you can strike down the title of this article to whatever you wish.

Why is that?  Well, let’s take a look at what Kriek means.

Grain bag? HOP BAG!

Grain bag? HOP BAG!

The term “Kriek” came to us in the late 19th century, when small industry brewers used cherries to flavor lambic that had been aged for two years.  It was extremely popular, and blenders soon began to follow the trend.  As WWII began, ingredients became harder to acquire and the excellence of Kriek became less than ideal.  From backsweeteners being used, coloring agents, and thinner blends emerged a new style of Kriek: a sweeter version rather than the more authentic tart style.  Hence the name for Kriek and Oude Kriek (old Kriek).

If you’re drinking a Lindemans Kriek, that would be a new Kriek.  Very sweet, and slightly sour.  More like medicinal syrup than tart beer.  If you are drinking a Drie Foneinen Kriek, you’re drinking the older style with much more complexity.  This older style is what I shoot for when making this style:  the Oude Kriek.

Cherry selection is completely up to the brewer obviously, and this is where I’ve been choosing to cheat a little.  Cherries are great fruits, and if you can get your hands on them easily I would recommend using them whole (yet smashed.)  Traditional cherries used are Schaarbeek, a very hard to grow cherry and must be harvested by hand.  Nowadays, other varieties of sour cherries are used depending on the brewery.

I’ve used a tart cherry concentrate to flavor my lambic and lambic-style beers into Kriek and sour-cherry beers.  I know, I know, for once I’m not taking the hard route, but the amount of time, effort, and beer saved is worth it.  Not to mention cost.  I can get enough concentrate to flavor ten gallons of beer for under $25.  Not too bad, especially living in Alaska.  Framboise is totally different.  I haven’t been able to find a 100% raspberry concentrate.  That, and Alaska raspberries are super-flavored, intense, tart, and plentiful.

We get it, you have barrels.

“We get it, you have barrels.”

Back to this batch: I used the Costco sweet cherries.  5 gallons seems like a lot of lambic to use testing this out, but if it worked I didn’t want to be wishing for more.  If it didn’t work, I’d only be out 10% of the total batch.  I aged the fruit and lambic in a corny keg, which I vented several times per week.  In retrospect (and from looking at the pink stains on the wall), I would attach a blow-off tube in the future.

After 6 months, I racked it to a new stainless keg and carbonated forcefully.   After letting it settle for a week, I tried some.  It had great color and cherry flavor, but was a touch sweet for me.  There was also a slight Cheerio flavor which I attribute to tetrahydropyridines (THP).  Like most issues with sour beers, I figured the best thing to do would be to let it sit.

Insane amount of blowoff.

Insane amount of blowoff.

Two years later (and now over 3 years from brewday), I found myself in the garage, bottling beers to take to HomebrewCon2016 (about 3 weeks ago.)  As I was packaging Lambic v3, I glanced through the rest of the semi-full kegs on the wall.  On top was one marked “Lambic with Cherries”.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to disturb it to take a taste.  It was fantastic.  Color was amazing.  Thankfully, it was even slightly carbonated.  I racked off 2L to take to Baltimore.

In Baltimore, I shared the bottle with several friends in the hotel, at the Milk the Funk meetup, and the last few ounces at club night.  No one remarked on the cherry character being anything but great.  I thought it was delicious, even though I only got to try a few ounces the whole trip.  Here’s an example where Relax, Don’t Worry, Hide the Keg and it Will be Great Later (RDW,HKWGL) delivered a tasty beer.  Not many would call it an Oude Kriek – but then again, not many could begin to tell the difference.

Kriek 6/20/16

Oude Kriek 6/20/16

Aroma:  Musty, funky, and cherry-licious.  Some stone-like fruits.  Nothing medicinal (thank goodness!).

Flavor:  Tart.  Great fruit flavor.  Not much in the way of sweetness.  Light brettanomyces notes, that classic “Lawnmower Lambic” flavor.  Dry in the finish, lightly tannic.

Mouthfeel:  The mullet of mouthfeels – full bodied and fruity up front, dry in the back.  Leaves your mouth slightly puckered and dry.

Overall:  Even at room temperature, this beer delivers.  I’ll say it again, I’m thankful nothing medicinal comes through.  Too many cherry beers often have cough syrup notes to them.  The cherry flavor is great.  Color is lovely.  I do wonder if my love of the color increases my perception of cherry.



Alaska Brewery Reviews 01: Odd Man Rush

I’m not a hockey kid.  In fact, I’ve only been to a dozen or so college games in my life.  So when someone told me there was a brewery in Eagle River that was called Odd Man Rush, I said “What?”

Turns out Odd Man Rush isn’t any thing about a goofy guy named “Rush” (which is what my initial thoughts were.)  Its a hockey term, used to describe a move when the offense has more people than the defense in an “attacking move” is happening.  I’m not sure any correlation exists between this move and beer.  A couple weeks ago, on the way back from Valdez, I decided so swing in for a taste and see whether these guys were attackers or defenders.


I forgot to take pictures so I stole this one from yelp. Sue me.

If you look up previous articles about Odd Man Rush, they can tell you about all the re-purposed materials that went into the construction of the tasting room they built after a successful Kickstarter campaign.  While entertaining, the reason I was here was for the beer – so we got one of everything.

My brother and I carried a couple of tasting paddles upstairs while some heavy rock blasted throughout the brewery.  It was a Tuesday afternoon, and there were a few other people having a pint downstairs.  I enjoy tasting with my brother, since he is not a “beer geek” and can provide an opinion of what an average drinker might think.

First off, none of these beers were “terrible”.  There wasn’t one on the list that we didn’t finish (although there were a few that I wouldn’t order again.)  A few were not quite to style but still tasted fine.  It was pretty impressive for a nine-beer lineup to have so many beers that were pretty good.  Not something we’re seeing with every new brewery that opens.

o (1)

I forgot to take pictures so I stole this one from yelp. Sue me.

I don’t hold back on my reviews – if you’ve read anything I have written about a product or review you know if anything I’m almost too harsh.  So take that with a grain of salt.

In no particular order, here’s what we thought of the individual beers:

Oatmeal Stout was tasty.  Had a nice smooth mouthfeel and a light roasty character.

The “Hot Blonde” Jalapeno Blonde had great Jalapeno flavor, but no spice.  Not sure if this changes with age.   Light smokiness.  Well balanced.  My brother’s favorite.

The Chocolate Stout was smooth as well and had noticeable light chocolate notes to it.

I don’t know much about Scottish Ale, but this was a tasty beer.  I referenced my (nerd alert!) beer style guidelines and for it seems as though they met the mark for this one.  Good caramel flavors, no noticeable smokiness.

The Gose was a low point for me, as I really like Gose and was looking forward to something tart.  Oddly enough, they don’t sour their Gose at all, so this beer was a wheat beer with salt and coriander.  Not particularly amazing.  [If anyone from the brewery ever reads this, I’d be happy to lend a hand showing some sour kettling techniques!]

The Black IPA was hoppy but too astringent for my tastes.  Perhaps it was just over bittered and too much roast, but I didn’t care for this one.  Full disclaimer: I don’t like Black IPAs.  Keeping that in mind, this was one of the rougher ones I’d tried.

The Hefeweizen was a clean beer with some light banana and clove, but seemed thin for a hefe when it came to that wheaty character we look for.  I’m also skeptical as to whether this was brewed using something other than the house yeast.

The Kolsch was lacking in crispness and missing most of its hop character.  It was a drinkable beer, but not one I’d put in the Kolsch style.

The Double IPA was ok for style, but too much caramel malt and not enough hop flavor.  The maltiness was dominant, something that shouldn’t be in a DIPA.

Overall, it was a pleasant experience.  The beers were good, but didn’t quite meet the price point they’re asking for a pint or growler fill.  I’d go back if I was in the area and get another sampler to see how things change as they find their stride – I do recommend going by for a tasting.  Seeing how this is the first review I’ve done, I won’t rank them “better” or “worse” than others in the state, but they do seem to be a little above average from most the breweries I’ve been to.


NHC 2016 Recap

NHC 2016

NHC 2016 has just come to an end.  For those of you who don’t know, this is the conference “HomebrewCon”, formerly known as the National Homebrew Conference.  It’s a four day mashup of beer related seminars, vendors, socializing, late nights – and, of course, some serious sampling.  The last NHC (I’m still having a hard time with the new HomebrewCon title) I attended was in 2013 in Philadelphia.  While I had a great time there as well, this time I was far better connected and got to put a face to many of the people I’d been conversing with online for years.  Here’s what I remember, and apologies to anyone I left out:

Departing Anchorage, 2:45am

Departing Anchorage, 2:45am

I left Anchorage late Tuesday evening and arrived Wednesday evening in Baltimore.  After dropping off the beer for my seminar, I checked in to the hotel and went to meet up with Eric of Eric’s Brewing Blog and Marshall of Brulosophy.   I converse regularly with both of these guys, but it was the first time we’d met up in “real life.”  Both are super awesome dudes.  We scarfed some seafood and pounded some brews at Phillips on the water.   We then headed over to Max’s, a local watering hole with a great tap selection.  We had some beers, talked about karaoke, then, had some more beers.


Thursday morning I woke up bright and early around 11am.  Having already checked into the conference, I headed down to meet up with Marshall, Matt, Malcolm, and a few others.  We also met up with Derek of Five Blades Brewing and Matt of Accidentalis.   I spent the afternoon checking out the vendors and meeting up with many of the people who make some of the great products I love to use.  I also made a few connections with others whose products I plan to use in the future.  A highlight was chatting chillers with the guys at JaDeD Brewing.  They make a fantastic chiller that uses coils in parallel (rather than one long one that uses the same length in series).  Both were also great to chat and pound brews with.  I also met up with Rex from the Brew Bag.  Great sense of humor and super helpful in answering all of my questions.  Other vendor highlights were the Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager, aromatizing hops at the Lagunitas booth, and blending with the guys from Love2Brew.  Fantastically enough, I chatted more with the Love2Brew guys to work out some flat rate shipping to Alaska.  Hellllllo ECY!



I attended Tasty’s talk on Fast Lagering in the afternoon with a few others – it was a great “to the point” talk on making Lager beer in much less time than traditional methods.  Afterward, we swung by my hotel room to get a sample of some sour beer, then headed out to nab some some food at Luna Del Sea.   Crab cakes were great.  After dinner we all attended the Craft Beer Kickoff Party, where we drank from many breweries near and far.


Craft kickoff!

I was also pumped to meet Ed of Ales of the Riverwards.  Ed was another Yeast Bay beta tester from a year ago, and someone who I chat with regularly about all things bread and beer.

Friday morning I got up and headed out to see the talk “Brewing Wild” on spontaneous beer.  Brian Wolfe and John Wilson did a great job of providing an informational and entertaining talk on strategies for brewing using yeast you won’t find anywhere but outside.  After that, I went back to prep for my seminar.  The seminar went well and while I didn’t have as much beer to serve as I would have liked, the beer that did make it was still in fantastic shape.  [Having flown from Anchorage, the best way for me to get beer to the conference was in 2L plastic bottles.  A method I’d used before, but I’m always nervous checking important things with airlines.]

Giving my seminar. Lambic sample in foreground.

Giving my seminar. Lambic sample in foreground.

After giving my seminar, I finally got to relax and decided to attend Jeff Mello’s seminar on Wild Yeast.  Jeff is working on making a yeast bank with yeast from around the world that have never been used before.  An ambitious goal!  After Jeff’s talk we proceeded to another highlight of the trip:  Milk the Funk meetup!

Milk the Funk is a resource for all things funky when it comes to brewing.  Their wiki is a fantastic resource for sour and wild brews.  Here I met Mike, The Mad Fermentationist, Matt from SourBeerBlog, Scott from, and many other interesting and genuine people.  I served my Lambic v3, my Framboise (yeah, the same one, now 4 years old!), a Brett IPA, and a Kriek I plan on writing about soon.  I also had a NE Style IPA (another upcoming article) which wasn’t sour/wild (gasp!) but was a great palate cleanser.  I was really impressed with the quality of everyone’s beer, especially a couple of the bottles from Matt Miller.



After removing most of the enamel from our teeth, we headed to Chipotle for a quick burrito, then back to the convention center for Club Night.  If you’ve never been to an NHC, you should probably go simply because Club Night is amazing.  For one night, every homebrewer who wants to can serve their own beer!  I tried as many beers as I could.  Some were simply amazing.  I had several great Lambics,  a fantastic Berliner Weisse from Clarence at Midnight Homebrewer’s League and played around making a blend of IPAs from Mike and Scott’s beers from the DC Homebrewer’s Club.  There were other countless great beers but I simply can’t recall the name of each one!

I loved this.

I loved this.

Saturday I awoke feeling excited and refreshed.  With a little skip in my step, I went down to attend the Homebrew Blogger’s Roundtable.  Moderated by Chip Walton, this presentation was hosted by Ed, Marshall, Derek, and Matt (of A Ph.D in Beer.)  The seminar was informal, yet inspiring – hence this post!  After the roundtable, I stayed to watch Malcolm and Marshall share information they’d collected in mash length, boil length, and fermentation temperature in Modern Perspectives on Traditional Methods.  Great speaking, guys!

Great roundtable, guys!

Great roundtable, guys!

After the presentations, I took a brief siesta, had lunch, and came back to watch Mike talk about Dry Hopped Sour Beers.  To summarize: Mike is an enthusiastic and inspiring speaker.  I get the sense he’d done this before, but his talk was motivating, funny, and easy to follow.  All of the beers he served were great, although his second offering, a slightly more soured, one-month-old pale beer was my favorite.  It was the talk that I was most interested in after having tried similar methods recently.  There is a fine line between too hoppy and too sour when brewing this style:  one which I plan on investigating more thoroughly soon.

After the seminars, we freshened up and went to the grand banquet.

HUGE banquet!

HUGE banquet!

I shared a table with Eric, Marshall, Malcolm, Matt, John Palmer…


After the banquet, we headed out for a few more beers at Max’s.  I had a light sampler of local brews, we downed some grub and headed back to the hotel.  The next morning was final goodbyes and a short plane ride home.

Back to Alaska!

Back to Alaska!

Would I go back to NHC?  Hell yes.  I’m already starting to brainstorm about Minneapolis for next year.  Am I having a beer tonight?  Probably not.

A Teaser

What’s new here at brouwerij-chugach?

With my seminar work finally done, I hope to finish up a few of the Fast and Dirty sours series. I’ll also share a few recipes on some NE IPAs that came out marvelously, as well as a Brett IPA with Lemon Drop hops.  I also went through to taste everything in my cellar and am working on dumping or packaging those beers.  Recently, I ordered a BrewBag to fit my 55 gallon pots so I hope to try that out in the next month or so.  I’m also planning a series on reviewing beers and breweries in Alaska.


Bread related, I’m working on expanding my baking to using less common grains for variety and flavor:  kamut, spelt, and einkorn.  I hope to have results within a few weeks.  I’m also working on my flour blend for bagels.

Other than that, if there’s anything YOU as a reader want to know about, shoot me an email or leave a comment below.

“Alohops” : Brewing hop-forward beer with aloha.

A week ago I came back from another fantastic trip to the Big Island of Hawai’i.  While the weather was still fantastic, the people full of aloha spirit, there was one thing that I did slightly different this time:  I brought 3 gallons of beer with me.  We are lucky to have some close friends who live in South Kona – it just so happens that this friend is the person who introduced me to sour beer brewing several years ago.  Seeing as he has some recent additions to his family and hasn’t been brewing much, I decided to bring him some Lambic v3 (regular and dry hopped), a Quad that’s been aging in a bourbon barrel since last November, and an IPA I’m calling “Alohops” which is remarkably amazing.  (And what this post is about.)

I got a $7 heat stick off Amazon. Really helps with the boiling/heating times. Yes, its connected safely.

I got a $7 heat stick off Amazon. Really helps with the boiling/heating times. Yes, its connected safely.

As someone who spent four years in New England before heading back to the Great Land this fall, I got to see some of New England IPA surge.  Bissell Brothers, The Alchemist, and Lawson’s Finest are producing some delicious hop forward (although controversially hazy) ales.  My ever-so-loving wife hooked me into these beers with a couple cases of Heady Topper several summers and I haven’t looked back.  These beers are quite pale and have much less overall bitterness to them, but a tremendous amount of hop flavor and aroma.  Many are calling this the “juicy” factor in these beers.  While I haven’t been looking for juice necessarily, I have really been enjoying experimenting with huge late hop additions and water manipulation.  My only “haze vs. clear” comment is that I’ve had beers that taste great on both ends of the spectrum.  Enough said.

Check out that trub.

Check out that trub.

I’ll be honest, the inspiration for working on this beer came from Lawson’s Double Sunshine – a beer I’ve never had.  I have had “Sip of Sunshine” and it was fantastic – so why not double it?  I read an article about it from BYO which started me off on a grain bill I’ve been enjoying for the last few IPAs I’ve made.  I had a friend in Maine play around with some water adjustments and we came up with Ca:65, Mg:9, Na: 8, Cl:69, SO4: 87, mostly based on this snippet.  Nothing crazy.  Since then I’ve been increasing both my Calcium Chloride and Gypsum additions a little, keeping the Chloride/Sulfate ratios closer to 1 than I have in the past.

Neapolitan Beer.

Neapolitan Beer.

With “Alohops”  I used almost all Citra (as done in Double Sunshine) but this time dry hopped it 50/50 with Denali/Citra rather than the straight Citra I have used in the past.  Other than that, the recipe is listed below.  You’ll see it follows pretty close to the BYO one, with a few adjustments.  I’ve dropped the sugar addition, I use Magnum instead of Columbus, and skipped out on the carapils/caramunich additions.  The hop additions are much later in the boil, with whirlpool and dry hopping receiving most of the hops.  I also have been whirlpool hopping at 185F, rather than immediately after flame off.  This beer ferments with both US05 and S04 at 66F for 4 days, then is ramped to 72F for 3 days, receiving the dry hops on day 2 of the increased temperature.  Dry hopped for 3-4 days, then crashed and kegged in one afternoon using a carbonation stone.

Is there any beer in there?

Is there any beer in there?

It’s pale in color, 8%ABV, slightly hazy, and drinks easier than a session beer.  It’s the hoppiest, smoothest, most thirst quenching recipe I’ve ever brewed:  Alohops.

“Alohops” – New England Style IPA

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5 gal 60 min 72.6 IBUs 5.2 SRM 1.077 1.017 7.8 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Imperial IPA 14 C 1.07 - 1.09 1.01 - 1.02 60 - 120 8 - 15 2.2 - 2.7 7.5 - 10 %


Name Amount %
Pale Malt (2 Row) US 12.444 lbs 84.94
Vienna Malt 1.741 lbs 11.89
Oats, Flaked 7.43 oz 3.17


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Magnum 0.72 oz 60 min First Wort Pellet 14
Citra 1.55 oz 10 min Boil Pellet 12
Citra 2.13 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 12
Citra 2.95 oz 0 min Boil Pellet 12
Citra 4.14 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 12


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
SafAle English Ale (S-04) DCL/Fermentis 73% 59°F - 75.2°F
Safale American (US-05) DCL/Fermentis 77% 59°F - 75°F


Step Temperature Time
Mash In 150°F 75 min


Alohops & the Alpenglow. (sunset is now 9:32!)

Alohops & the Alpenglow. (sunset is now 9:32!)

Appearance is pleasant.  Some residual haze (this beer was drank a day after carbonation).  No matter.  It’ll settle with time – if I let it last that long.

Aroma is fantastic.  Fruity, tropically with slight resiny (if thats a word) dankness.  Strawberry, melon, pineapple, pear – its a fantastic cocktail.

Super smooth mouthfeel.  I set the carbonation up a little higher for my IPAs, and this one still is oh-so-smooth on your tounge.  Not slick, but smooth.  Thank you oats.

Taste is delicious.  I really can’t speak highly enough about this beer.  I’ve made it four times now, and each fresh batch makes me happy.  Nothing like 11 oz of Citra.  I might be able to get away with a little less, but why mess with a great thing?  Bitterness is exceptionally smooth, with a crisp finish.  Fruits I can pick out include pear, lemon, orange, lime, pineapple, and some mango – depsite that there’s a solid light malt flavor.

Drinkability is too easy for this beer.  I can knock back several pints of this without really thinking too much about it.  Definitely a great one for springtime, in fact I’m off to pour one right now!


Obligatory Alaska photo. Winter's still out there if you search for it.

Obligatory Alaska photo. Winter’s still out there if you search for it.

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