Brew Day – Bunsy Bell AIPA Clone – 12/22/2018

So, tomorrow I march into my Fantasy football championship (12 team, full PPR) with this roster…

  • QB: Cam Newton
  • RB: James Connor
  • RB: Todd Gurley
  • WR: Julio Jones
  • WR: Tyler Boyd
  • WR: Alshon Jeffery
  • TE: Rob Gronkowski
  • Flex: Josh Allen
  • K: who cares
  • DST: Denver

What’s that you say – injuries happen? Let’s see what I’m really throwing out there…

  • QB: Josh Allen
  • RB: Gus Edwards
  • RB: Todd Gurley
    • Oh wait, he’s doubtful – probably either Kallen Ballage or CJ Anderson
  • WR: Julio Jones
    • Oh wait, he’s doubtful – probably Robert Foster
  • WR: Alshon Jeffery
  • WR: Jarvis Landry
  • TE: Rob Gronkowski
  • Flex: Could be Kallen Ballage or CJ Anderson, or Robert Foster depending on Julio’s status
  • K: still don’t care
  • DST: Denver

If I end up pulling this off, they should double my winnings.

UPDATE: 12/23 – I got slaughtered. It was over before Todd Gurley even got a chance to be scratched. Oh well, 2nd place in one league, and 4th in another isn’t a bad year. Gronk goosed me in the championships! Never again Gronk. Never again. Julio ended up playing, so I flexed Kallen Ballage. That ended up being garbage.

I need a beer.

BYO just published a bunch of recipes from Bell’s brewery. I love their Hop Slam. I also love their Two Hearted Ale. Since Hop Slam is one of those “…don’t make plans the next day if you are going to drink a few…” beers, it is better suited to be a small batch.

Two Hearted Ale, on the other hand, is well suited to be a keg beer in my tap room. Not a session by any stretch of the imagination, but a beer that I could probably get away with having two, and not feel bad the next day. It is a REALLY good beer.

To give you an idea of how good this beer is – it got a 100 on Ratebeer. Yes, its that good.

The recipe:

Not a lot of creative license here. I’ll follow the recipe the first time out, and if all goes well, maybe I’ll put my own spin on it. But, it’s a freaking perfect beer – I can only screw it up by monkeying around, right?

The Steps:

  • 75 minute mash
  • 75 minute boil
  • Hops @ 45/30, and dry after primary is done
  • Yeast nutrient and fining agent at 10 minutes
  • 2 packs of rehydrated S-05

The Numbers:

  • Pre boil volume target: 7.59 gallons
    • little on the high side
  • Pre boil gravity target: 1.057
    • exceeded @ 1.060
  • Post boil volume target: 6.34 gallons (5.25 gallons into the fermenter)
    • too much – 6 gallons into the fermenter
  • Post boil gravity (OG) target: 1.071
    • missed @ 1.065
    • makes sense – I have .75 gallons more than I should have, so its a touch diluted
  • Final OG target: 1.010
  • Measured ABV (est): 7.2%

Misc Notes:

  • BIAB large batch
  • No sparge method
  • Struggled with volumes today – it was about 40 degrees outside and I didn’t have a particularly strong boil going. Ended up adding 8 minutes onto the boil to get the volume down a little. In retrospect, probably should have gone about 15 minutes total and pushed it to a full 90 minute boil.
  • The cold wreaked havoc on my poor battery powered drill. I had to break out the corded drill for grain milling and aerating.
    • Oh my freaking god – that corded power drill aerated the HELL out of that beer. Unreal. I’ll have to do that every time from here on out instead of my little 18V battery drill.
  • MY HYDROMETER BROKE DURING CLEANUP! This is a very essential piece of equipment as I have two beers in the tank already, and both are needing hydrometer updates.

12/24 update – The hydrometer I ordered on 12/22 actually ARRIVED. Thank YOU Amazon Prime.

Fermentation Notes:

  • Brought a space heater in to the basement to help fermentation area stay around 70 degrees
  • 12/24 – visible krausening in the tank (since there are a couple gallons of empty space, the airlock doesn’t usually go too crazy – I keep an eye on the krausen activity. I’ll be taking a hydrometer reading on the night of the 27th (per the recipe instructions).
  • 12/27 – dry hopped, couldn’t take a hydrometer reading due to trub surrounding the sample spout, and I’m not ready to empty the bulb yet. Since fermentation could be sluggish to due temp control issues, I don’t want to remove any yeast that I don’t have to yet.
  • 12/31 – emptied the bulb in my conical for the first time. No gravity reading yet.
  • 1/1 – Happy New Year! emptied the bulb for the 2nd time. Most sediment settled and now I have clear beer at the bottom of the conical. Took a gravity reading – 1.010 (TERMINAL). Will give it 24 hours to let any final sediment go to the bulb, and will probably keg tomorrow night when I get home from work. Got a real winner here.

Tasting Notes:

  • 1/1 – first time tasting since my sampling spigot was blocked by a ton of trub. Nice hoppy and pine finish. Slight sweetness. Very much reminds me of a Bell’s Two Hearted (which is good considering its a clone).





So You Want to be a Homebrewer – Volume 1: Recipe and Overview

So, you like beer and want to try making your own batch at home? You’ve read about it on the internet. You’ve heard your buddies talk about it. You figure it’s time – what’s the worst that can happen, right? You drink it, it sucks, you throw it out.

Good for you! Welcome to the community!

Homebrewing is a fun hobby if you are really into beer, and you enjoy learning/practicing a process. It really is something you get better at each time you do it (if you are willing to try and learn from your mistakes). As I’ve talked about previously, my personal experienced started with an IPA kit I received as a gift.  That batch was drinkable, and the reviews from my friends were that it didn’t suck. Hooray for me.

My next batch was a disaster.

I learned very quickly what a waste of time the process can be if you don’t properly sanitize your gear. That experience made me almost give up the hobby. Luckily, I had one gifted kit left, and rather than throw it out, I decided to give it my best shot. I spent some time reading articles online, and watching a lot of YouTube videos from experienced brewers. There is A LOT of nuance to this hobby that is lost when you just read the instructions that are inside of the kit you buy. When you understand the steps, understand the WHY behind what you are doing, and understand how the process leads you to different points in the brewing process, you can better execute the craft. And, you will also be in a better position to make corrections if a problem arises, OR, more importantly, be able to IDENTIFY that a problem is coming.

This series of posts will not be the companion piece to John Palmer’s, “How to Brew.” That dude wrote the definitive book on homebrewing, and you are hard pressed to read any beer forums that don’t refer back to John Palmer at least once. Rather, these posts will walk you through my process in brewing a beer on my stovetop in the plainest language I can provide. If I have to use jargon, I’ll be sure to explain the jargon. I’ve found that when people come over to try my beer, they usually ask about 20 different questions about it, and then say, “…that just seems like a lot, and I don’t think I could figure it out…”


In 2 minutes, I’m able to explain to people exactly what gravity means, and how important it is to the quality control process simply by putting my hydrometer in some tap water. All of this process can be explained and absorbed by looking at it in pieces rather than as a whole. Yes, its 4-5 hours of work, and yes, there are a lot of things you need to do along the way to get it right, but, it is manageable if you have a plan. You can use as little or as much equipment as your heart desires. Me personally, if there is a way to make the process easier (within reason), I try to either make the equipment or get the equipment.

For the purposes of this series, I’ll talk about the brewing process as it impacted one of my recent beers, The Bunsy Imperial Stout + Oak Chips.

Continue reading So You Want to be a Homebrewer – Volume 1: Recipe and Overview

Brew Day – Bunsy Imperial Stout + Bourbon Oak Chips – 12/8/18

It’s time to get a little freaky! I don’t want to buy an oak barrel because they are a pain to keep clean/sanitized from what I read. BUT, I do want a way to create a delicious oak flavored beer.

Enter the chips.

Oak chips to be exact. Oak chips, spirals, or cubes are a very useful arrow in the homebrewer’s quiver. As long as they are handled properly, they can add some very interesting character and depth to your beer. I never used them previously, so I’m keeping very basic. I’m brewing a base imperial stout, and then I’m going to soak the oak chips in some bourbon for a week. The goal is to have a nice imperial stout with detectable (but not overwhelming) bourbon and some oak/smoke highlights.

I chose Evan Williams as my bourbon of choice because I like the taste. And, it won’t break the bank. I bought my oak chips (packaged) from my local homebrew store, so no additional prep was needed. I don’t know enough about this process to advocate making your own oak chips – I’m sure that there is some type of prep involved – I’ll save that for another person to explain. You probably don’t want to sweep sawdust off your workshop floor. That just sounds gross.

This oak chip addition will be in the secondary, so I don’t have to worry TOO much about infection. The beer should be alcoholy enough to ward off the plague at that point. But, I do want to make sure I handle these things properly (like a good little home brewer). Here are the simple steps I performed…

  1. get a mason jar and lid (wash, rinse, sanitize both)
  2. dump in the oak chips
  3. pour bourbon on top until the oak chips are covered
  4. shake and let the chips set
  5. top off bourbon to keep the chips below liquid level

The general idea is that the bourbon will sanitize the oak chips. Over the next few days, I checked on the liquid level, and topped it off once or twice as the chips absorbed more bourbon. By week’s end, that jar smelled MIGHT FINE!

Here is where you can personalize the process. Some forums advocate pouring the liquid AND the chips into the secondary. Some advocate just putting the chips into the secondary. It really comes down to your taste preference. Since I only wanted some highlights, I reserved the liquid, and just threw in the chips. The liquid is sitting in my fridge for future deployment (or drinking). It really does smell amazing.

The amount of time the chips sit in the secondary is totally a taste preference. After 5 days, I started drawing mini samples to see how it was doing. At day 7, I felt that the level of bourbon/oakiness was where I wanted (another taster confirmed), and then I bottled. I had three other people taste this sample completely still. THEY LOVED IT. This thing will be amazing once its done bottle conditioning.

Recipe note – it took about 4 oz of bourbon to cover initially, and I probably topped off with about 1-2 more ounces as time went on.

The Recipe:

imperial stout + bourbon oak

Target numbers:

  • Pre boil SG: 1.073
  • OG – 1.102, FG – 1.020

This will be bottled once it reaches its final gravity.

Bought ingredients at my local homebrew store (Bacchus & Barleycorn).

Brew day notes:

  • Date: 12/8/18
  • Stovetop BIAB setup
  • Total time (including cleaning): 4 hours
  • Brew day beer of choice:
  • Brew day A/V stylings of choice:
    • “Two and a Half Men,” season 8
  • Actual OG: 1.114
    • I’ve never hit an OG that high – this is new territory for me! Glad I made a yeast starter!
  • Final OG: 1.031
  • Final ABV: 11.3%
  • What went well:
    • Everything – no issues at all
  • What went bad:
    • Fermentation temp was a little too low for my liking. The basement is reflecting the arctic tundra that is the outside weather. The space heater only does so much without going TOO HOT, so I’ll need to find a more targeted way. I don’t want to build a fermentation chamber, so I’ll have to see what options are out there.
  • Fermentation notes:
    • 12/8 (yeah, same day as brewing) – visible bubbling in airlock
    • 12/12 – still bubbling…
    • 12/15 – 1.036 gravity
    • 12/17 – added bourbon soaked oak chips, but reserved the liquid
    • 12/22 – nice taste in the sample, some nice oak and bourbon character – put in fridge to cold crash for a few days
    • 12/27 – 1.031 gravity at bottling. Missed final OG, but hit the target ABV for the recipe. I think that better temp control during the fermentation would have driven the gravity lower. I’m looking at some interesting solutions for that including aquarium heaters!
  • Tasting notes:
    • 12/27 – this beer tastes amazing. At 10 days on the oak/bourbon chips, this thing is even nice to drink at room temp and still. Its sweet with a little bourbon backbone and some oakiness. I’m very glad that I reserved the liquid and didn’t pour that into the fermenter – the bourbon balance is PERFECT right now. I’m going to put a bottle or two off to the side, and let it age for a couple of months in the bottle. I have a trip to Philly in March, and I know my buddies will want to try this one.


Have you ever brewed this style beer before? Please let us know about your brewing experiences. If you enjoyed this post, please like and share. Thanks!

Brew Day – My Mosaic – 12/17/2018

Founder’s makes a really good Mosaic centered IPA (called Mosaic Promise). Makes me really appreciate the taste and aroma of the Mosaic hop, so I wanted to design a beer around it. Not quite a SMaSH beer (since the grain bill will have some speciality in it), but kind of close. I learned from my SMaSH experiments that either a touch of caramel 20 or caramel 40 is a nice addition to an IPA.

Going to call this creating “My Mosaic.” If you want to understand why, just sing “My Mosaic” instead of “My Sharona.”

Okay – I’ll stop now.

The recipe:

I’ll admit, I’m going a little nuts on the dry hopping. I’m doing a full ounce of Mosaic for a 1.5 gallon batch! That is crazy. Ideally, I’d like to hone this recipe and make it part of my regular rotation, so I figured I’d go to an EXTREME fence post, and see if that big of a dry addition will make it undrinkable. If it does – oh well, I’ll cut it in half next time. If it doesn’t, I’ll add more next time. I can’t imagine that I can do too much more though. I guess we’ll see.

The Steps:

  • 75 minute mash
  • 60 minute boil
  • Hops @ 60/10, and dry after primary is done
  • Yeast nutrient and fining agent at 10 minutes
  • 1 pack of rehydrated S-05

The Numbers:

  • Pre boil volume target: 2.12 gallon
    • nailed it
  • Pre boil gravity target: 1.047
    • exceeded @ 1.052
  • Post boil volume target: 1.72 gallon (1.65 into the fermenter)
    • had to top off with cold water
  • Post boil gravity (OG) target: 1.060
    • exceeded @ 1.072
  • Final gravity target: 1.011
    • nailed it
  • Est ABV (actual): 7.9% (yowza!) – very high end for this style

Misc Notes:

  • BIAB stovetop (small batch)
  • No sparge method
  • Everything pretty much went as planned!

Fermentation Notes:

  • Brought a space heater in to the basement to help fermentation area stay around 70 degrees
  • 12/18 – FINALLY bubbling
  • 12/24 – gravity reading at 1.011 – terminal gravity reached
  • 12/24 – added 1.38oz of mosaic hops (dry hop add)
    • Note – the recipe I wrote called for only 1 oz of dry hops. I had .38 oz extra in the fridge, so I figured – what the hell??? Throw it in!

Tasting Notes:

  • 12/24 – slightly bitter – will definitely benefit from the dry hopping!
  • 12/29 – drew a couple samples for my buddies – AMAZING. Rave reviews. The aroma and hoppiness were very pleasant. Looks like I could have added more!
  • 12/30 – bottled – ready to drink in a week or two


Do you enjoy the Mosaic hop? Have you had any beers or brewed any beers with Mosaic in it? If so, please share in the comments below. Thanks.




Brew Day – Bunsy Burton Ale – 11/20/18

Being sick kind of blows. I don’t get sick a lot, but when I do, it makes me really miss not being sick. Caught some type of sinus cold/infection and have been under the weather since Friday (this is my 4th day sick). It was my first time taking care of Baby Breaking all by myself when I’m ill.

Guess what – that really bites.

I love watching my kid, but he doesn’t care that I’m sick. He still wants all of his baby wants, exactly when he wants them. He doesn’t care that it feels like a elf is banging a tambourine behind my right eye, and chiseling cartoons with a dull ice pick into my skull. In fact, the little guy actually would giggle when I’d sneeze, hold back my tears, and then shake out my head like Mike Tyson just clocked me.

The best part is I can’t really sleep. Being horizontal just increases the pressure. I’ve accepted that Ibuprofen is now a dietary supplement for me until this passes. According to the internet, that should be any day now.

As the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, I took 1.5 days off work because its a ghost town in the office during this week, and I’d rather be home with the family and brewing some beer. We are hosting Thanksgiving this year, so we’ll spend a majority of Wed/Thurs prepping food. So, that means I get to commandeer the kitchen for a batch of beer today (I had to look up how to spell commandeer – tricky). Don’t worry – I’ll try not to add any phlegm/hop additions.

I first read about Burton Ales in BYO (a great homebrewing magazine if you’ve never heard of it). The style of beer is named after a town across the pond in merry ol’ England. Here is an interesting article from the interweb about the style. In a nutshell, you need to make some adjustments to your water profile, you should use a burton strain of yeast, and the beer itself is on the darker/sweeter side with the hops (of course). While checking out a plethora of different ways to brew it, I saw people adding brown sugar, molasses, and some other darker fermentable adjuncts. For this beer, I’m slightly adjusting a recipe from BYO. Rather than hop blast at the end of the beer, I’m just going to put the hop blast additions (.16 oz of each East Kent and Pacific Gem) in at zero minutes, and let it set for 5 minutes before cooling. The darkest IPA I’ve ever made was the Hop Dump, and I thought that was a touch on the dark side (it used Crystal 60). I can only imagine the color this will have with crystal 80 AND chocolate malt in it.

I’ve had a Burton style ale before – it was the Burton Baton by Dogfish Head Brewing. It was amazing. That certainly was a one and done type beer because it was right around 10% (bordering on Barleywine territory). As you can see below, this will be slightly less potent if I hit my numbers. Overall, looking forward to this one. That seems silly to say – I look forward to ALL OF THESE!

The Recipe:

bunsy burton ale

Brew notes (I’m not going to regurgitate all of the steps – just the ones that are important):

  • Add water adjuncts into mash
  • 75 minute mash
  • Hops at 60/15/10/1

Target numbers:

  • Pre boil SG: 1.056
  • OG – 1.073, FG – 1.017

This will be bottled once it reaches its final gravity.

Bought ingredients at my local homebrew store (Bacchus & Barleycorn).

Brew day notes:

  • Date: 11/20/18
  • Stovetop BIAB setup
  • Total time (including cleaning): 4 hours
  • Brew day beer of choice:
    • Homebrew – El Hefe
  • Brew day A/V stylings of choice:
    • “The Office,” season 8
  • Actual OG: 1.076
  • Final OG: 1.020
  • Final ABV: 7.4%
  • What went well:
    • Nailed pre-boil gravity
    • Nailed post-boil gravity
  • What went bad:
    • had to add water to top off again – need to adjust my boil metrics in BeerSmith
    • original recipe called for Northdown Hops, but I used them in another recipe, so I subbed in Pacific Gem as the 60 min bittering hops (since the alpha acid was in the ballpark of Northdown).
  • Fermentation notes:
    • 11/20 – in to the tank – MAN, this thing is dark brown
    • 11/21 – slight bubbling
    • 11/22 – BUBBLES!
    • 11/27 – 1.020 gravity, added dry hop addition
    • 12/4 – bottled
      • Sample is dark and sweet but bitter. Doesn’t have much hop aroma. I’m enjoying the flat/room temp sample. Certainly a different beer.


Have you ever brewed this style beer before? Please let us know about your brewing experiences. If you enjoyed this post, please like and share. Thanks!

Brew Day – Breakfast Stout – 11/11/18

It’s football sunday again. My Eagles are the night game against the Cowgirls. We get to display our new weapon (Golden Tate). I hope they find a lot of interesting ways to deploy him.

I’m a huge fan of Breakfast Stouts. Especially, if the stout has coffee in it. Founders is one of my favorites, so I used a recipe from BYO that was a Founder Breakfast Stout clone, and make a couple minor grain changes. I recently drank my last Founders Breakfast Stout, so, rather than buy more, I decided to handcraft some.

I’m excited about the coffee additions – I’ve always only added a cold brew to the keg – this is my first time actually boiling with the coffee and adding grinds into the secondary. Should be a blast! The wort was crazy sweet, and the sample I tested before putting into the fermenter was pretty amazing – great depth of flavor there, and OMG THE COFFEE! It’s a shame this won’t be ready for Thanksgiving – I have a feeling that people will enjoy this a lot.

The Recipe:

Breakfast stout

Brew notes (I’m not going to regurgitate all of the steps – just the ones that are important):

  • 75 minute mash
  • Hops at 60, 30, 0 min
  • Coffee and chocolate at 0 min
    • Let brew rest for 30 minutes with 0 min additions before cooling

Target numbers:

  • Pre boil SG: 1.066
  • 1.65
  • OG – 1.085, FG – 1.016

This will be bottled once it reaches its final gravity.

Bought ingredients at my local homebrew store (Bacchus & Barleycorn).

Brew day notes:

  • Date: 11/11/18
  • Stovetop BIAB setup
  • Total time (including cleaning): 4 hours
  • Brew day beer of choice:
    • Homebrew – Chicory Dry Irish Stout and El Hefe
  • Brew day A/V stylings of choice:
  • Actual OG: 1.093
    • Exceeded expectations – NICE!
  • Final OG: 1.024
  • Final ABV: 9.2%
  • What went well: pretty much everything
  • What went bad: I knocked over my stainless steel hop holder and spilled some Cacao and Coffee at 0 min. No biggie – just had to run through a strainer into the fermenter.
  • Fermentation notes:
    • 11/17 – added .66 oz of ground coffee
    • 11/20 – drew a sample at 1.024 (about 8 points to theoretical FG)
      • Coffee aroma, coffee/chocolate taste, slightly sweet. VERY DARK
      • Remembering that I was 8 points over my target OG, so not sure how much further down this will go.
    • 11/24 – bottled! Tastes amazing!


Have you ever brewed this style beer before? Please let us know about your brewing experiences. If you enjoyed this post, please like and share. Thanks!