We have never talked about Beer


Both of you would love Cigar City’s Hunahpu Imperial Stout, or Westbrook’s Mexican Cake Stout. They are both variations on the mexican chocolate stout theme. They are hard to come by, but if you can find someone with one of them, get in on that tasting.

I have to say, I’ve been really amazed that peppers work so well in some beers. I love hot peppers, so I can tolerate a lot of it in a beer (but not all of them.) But when they combine them with other ingredients, sometimes the result is pure magic. We had a pro-am homebrew competition a few years ago. The winner got their beer brewed, bottled and sold by an actual local brewery. The result was a single run of a beer called Hot Pistol Stout, that NoDa Brewing did for the event. It was FANTASTIC: chocolate, raspberry, and habanero peppers.


The only seasonal things I’ve seen so far are a lot of pumpkin ales on the shelves, which don’t really do anything for me. Hoping we start to see some darker stuff. One of the things I don’t really like about Idaho breweries is that they make so many IPA’s. Every brewery in the state has, like, four different IPA’s available at all times. I like IPA’s, but not all the time!

We’re also creeping closer to December, and that means Lagunitas Gnarlywine. I think something went wrong with their batch last year and never made it to us, so I’ve been waiting two years for it to come back.


Haven’t seen the straight Westbrook stuff but their collaboration with Evil Twin is dynamite.


Currently brewing: Southern Brown Ale.


Now that is bad ass. Temp controlled fermenter it looks like. I’m super jealous!

Being honest, I have not yet had a bad Westbrook beer. Seek them out if you see any.


Best of all: It is a 320 USD cheap-ass no-brand model. Works like a charm after we added some insulation.


That is also common in California breweries.


And Vermont breweries. And every other damn brewery in the nation it seems.


Had a great couple of days drinking in Belgium just recently. Visits to Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen blew me away, I’ve not really explored geuze’s before but we drank a lot of aged beers and it has really opened my mind. Got to meet Armand who is the head blender at 3F and that was a fantastic experience, he brought out a special blend made for his 65th birthday and we were the first to try it outside of the staff there. So good, and a brilliant, unexpected experience.


Geez, man. You drank mana from heaven. I’m not sure it gets any better than where you went.

Any pics? (I don’t even know if pics are allowed in either place, I thought I’d ask you though.)


It was pretty special. Of about 12 different beers we had in the two places only one was anything less than spectacular.

Yeah we have a few pics, as old and stuffy as the employees at Cantillon are they don’t go as far as to discourage photos :) 3F was much more modern and friendly in that regard.

Here we are with Armand at 3F:

Enjoying ourselves at Cantillon (Geuze 06, Zwanze 13, Fou 17, Lou Pepe Kriek 14 l to r)

The Barrel Store at 3F


Awesome. I have a good friend who is an absolute lover of any Belgian beer and he’s very fond of both of those breweries. If I hadn’t known him I would have never gotten to try several, including multiple Cantillon beers.

Looks like you had a great time, man. Cheers!


Cheers! It was a brilliant couple of days, especially as it was mostly beer I had not been exposed to before. Now a confirmed geuze fan! Also got to go to Kulminator in Antwerp, which is a bar unlike any other I have ever been in. It’s run by a lovely old couple and they have a huge book of vintage beer (mostly Belgian but a few Mikkeller and some other less interesting stuff), and when you order they go and hunt it down in the cellars. Can take 20 minutes for them to find it :) It’s mostly affordable stuff too, got to drink some absolute delights (plenty of old De Struise).


I think I’ve heard of that bar, it’s relatively famous. I didn’t remember the name, but surely there aren’t too many bars that match that description. It’s near those breweries, right?


About 20 miles north of Brussels, yep.


Picked up a pack of Founder’s Harvest Ale. Pricey. Good, but right on the very edge of how much piney hop flavor I can handle in a beer, so that even within the same bottle some sips are “mmm, good” and others are “ermagawd I’m drinking a damn pine tree”.

Waiting eagerly for this Fall’s Azaca to make it’s way from Michigan through the distribution channel and onto local shelves.


Backwoods Bastard is back. Yay! One of my faves.


Adventures in homebrewing ongoing: we bottled our first batch today. Final gravity of 1.022, just under 9% ABV. We tasted the contents of our sample jar, and found no off aromas or flavors, so we apparently managed a healthy fermentation with no contamination.

It was dark in the sample jar and the tasting glasses, but it was a lovely amber through the siphon hose. Taste-wise, it put me in mind of a Scotch strong ale, big on the malt notes with a bit of hop flavor for balance. We put spices into the wort, but I could barely tell they were there.

We broke out the label printer to commemorate the occasion.

Anyway, they need two or three weeks to bottle condition, so I’ll have more to say after Thanksgiving.


That seemed like a high FG but then I saw your ABV calc, wow she’s a big beer! I’m anxiously awaiting to hear your final notes.

Also for what it’s worth, I’ve had mixed success with flavor additions. Some work well and come through even from the beginning of the boil (chocolate, cinnamon.) Others just don’t do much at all, even adding very late in the boil (vanilla.) I have a buddy that will boil some flavor additions in a very small amount of water on the stove, chill it, then add it to the fermenter instead of the boil. I hesitate to do that, because I’m worried about adding anything late in the process like that for fear of contamination. Another trick I’ve read is you can soak some of your flavor additions in some sort of alcohol, then add that alcohol in at flameout, or even after fermentation. There are just so many ways to do it, that I find it all pretty complicated to re-brew just to try and see the differences.

How did you bottle carb, drops or added DME?

Also, there is a decent podcast, Basic Brewing, that covers a lot of the, “what if,” things related to brewing. So you might find some help there. Also good is some of the old stuff from The Brewing Network with Jamil, especially because he steps through just about every style of beer and the caveats on brewing each one.


For sure. When I found the recipe, I thought it looked pleasant, and didn’t quite know what I was getting into. The nice thing about such a big beer is that it resists drinking it too quickly. Although we put a hair over five gallons into the carboy, we only ended up bottling four and a half—we lost a lot out of the blowoff tube. Next winter, when we revisit this recipe, we’ll hopefully have a carboy with more headroom.

I want to wait for at least the two weeks we’ve set for ourselves before I comment definitively on the success or failure of the spices, but I’m more or less happy with where they are now. It’s definitely a seasonal recipe, but I’ll be happy if, in the final reckoning, that season is between October and March, as opposed to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We actually bought a bag of corn sugar for priming as part of our initial equipment buy; we boiled it into a light syrup, poured it into the bottling bucket, and let the siphon action swirl it in. I already see a nice tenth of an inch or so of yeast on the bottom of the bottle, so I suspect it’s working. I understand bottling is unpopular among high-level homebrewers, but I like the option of long in-bottle conditioning. That, and in my situation, where a friend and I are splitting the products, it makes it really easy to be equitable.