Tag Archives: What’s on Tap

A Hard Day’s Work

P3200041-beer and yeastIt is the first day of spring and it is snowing outside, so no better excuse than to make some bread and drink some good beer.  The bread recipe came from Jeffrey Hamelman’s book Bread.  It is an bread made with rolled oats and whole wheat flour, with a little honey, milk, and oil.  It is the first time I have tried this recipe, but it is bread so how bad could it be?

The beer is a simple English bitter that checks in at about 4% ABV, pleasant to drink but very sessionable.  The recipe was a little bit of a cupboard clearer – a little brown malt and crystal malt on top of a load of English malt (Golden Promise and Maris Otter malt). Also a little flaked wheat just because.  I used UK Goldings for bitterness and finished with some homegrown Fuggles.  The yeast was Wyeast’s West Yorkshire variety, which makes for a very enjoyable English Bitter.




What’s on Tap?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt has been awhile since we talked about the business end of the brewery.  The far left beer is Gerst Monath (barley-month)- who knew that was Anglo-Saxon for the month of September? I ran across that definition just the other day and it brought me back to the many visits I made to Evansville, Indiana in the 1990s.  The Evansville Brewing Company has a Gerst Amber Lager that I enjoyed. That brewery was closed in 1997 and I think Iron City ended up with it.  At the time I had no idea Gerst=barley.

My Gerst Monath is a nice little porter – mostly Marris Otter but also some brown malt, kiln coffee and crystal 160. With an OG of 13.0 ºP and an FG of 3.8 ºP it is a sessionable beer with nice sweetness and a touch of roast.

The middle beer is easy, it is the saison I made for the craft beer tasting.  It is a bit of a coriander bomb, but at 7% ABV it will make you smile.

The far right is my Pennant ESB.  Unfortunately for the Buccos there will be no pennant (but it was a great year for baseball in Pittsburgh).  Pennant is slightly stronger that the porter with an OG of 14.1 ºP.  It is 94% Golden Promise malt, with the remainder being equal parts flaked wheat and pale chocolate.   However, fermented with the Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire yeast you would never know it has no crystal malt.

Bicentennial Brew & Stats

Last weekend a milestone was reached at the LittleBoy Brewery.  The 200th batch of beer was put into the ferementer.  Because this was a milestone brew I made it something unique, a sour red ale.  I used the same recipe as the So Was Red brew, but instead of a Berliner Weisse yeast I pitched a pack of Wyeast Roeselare Ale, which is a blend of ale yeast, brettanomyces, lactobacillus and pediococcus.  I put it in a plastic bucket fermenter and intend to leave it sit for one year.  You can’t rush sour.

200 batches of beer is not that much for someone who has been brewing since 1997, but it has been a fun hobby.  Here are a few additional statistics:

  • The 200 batches made 3203 liters of beer or 846 gallons. That is just over 27 barrels.  Budweiser spilled that much this morning.
  • For the first ten years of brewing I never made ten batches in a single year.  I have averaged 23 batches per year in the last five years.
  • I have used 48 different varieties of yeast.
  • My most used yeasts are dry yeasts: Safale US-05 is my go-to: I used it for 22 batches, followed by Danstar Windsor (21 batches), Danstar Nottingham (20 batches).
  • Most popular liquid yeasts: White Labs WLP 002 English Ale (13 batches) and Wyeast 3711 French Saison (12 batches).
  • Most popular categories: English Pale Ale (35), Belgian and French Ale (22), Stout (20), American Ale (13) and Pilsner (12)
  • Most popular styles: ESB (17), Saison (16), Dry Stout (12), Ordinary Bitter (11) and Classic American Pilsner (10).

Of the 200 batches I only really dumped one. It was a spiced Christmas Ale that just never tasted right.  I don’t think it was spoiled, just too bitter and too much ginger.  I kept it a solid year before I gave up on it though.

Brew on!

So, What’s on Tap?

imageWell it has been awhile and things here at the brewery are in a sad state of affairs.  Look, we even have an open tap on the brew fridge.  Unforgivable, no?  Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words then we have a story to tell and we better get busy.

So, What’s on Tap?


The taps have turned blond again.  On the left is the T-58 Belgian Blond Ale.  I am tickled to be able to make a Belgian with dry yeast.  This will require much more experimentation to see how far I can push it. In the middle is the fabulous Genesee Ted, my lovely cream ale.  This is the third time for this recipe, and it just keeps getting better.  On the far right is my latest version of the RyePA IPA. This beer has a simply fabulous aroma, but the hop bitterness and flavor is not quite right.  I need to sample it a few more times and figure it out!

So, What’s on Tap?


Winter has rolled into Western Pennsylvania and the beer taps have rolled a bit too.  On the right we have the Decoration Ale, brewed back in December.  It is a simple English Bitter, but I am a bit puzzled as the hop flavor is very grassy.  I used a combination of East Kent and Styrian Goldings, and I do not recall ever such a flavor.  I did add calcium sulfate to the mash, and by my calculations the sulfate content greatly exceeds the chloride content, which is supposed to lend the beer a more bitter character.  I don’t know, but the beer is drinkable just not as enjoyable as a bitter should be.

In the middle we have the Solstice Stout, brewed on the shortest day of 2012.  It is you basic dry stout, with a malt bill of 70% Maris Otter, 20% flaked barley, and 10% roasted barley.  Enjoying a nice stout is always a pleasure.

And last we have Maggie’s Ale, brewed on the day my mom passed away in 2012.  She was a great woman.  This beer was designed to be a Foreign Extra Stout.  The original gravity came out a little low, but the flavor of the beer seems to fit the style.  It turned out around 6% ABV, which is low for the style.  I will definitely brew this again but aim to get closer to 8% ABV.  Then we will have a thing of beauty.

So, What’s on Tap?


Life moves on and the taps they are a changing.  The beer on the right, Ryder’s Cup Ale, was brewed with friends Ray and Jim on a Saturday in late September.  Jim brought over a boat load of home grown Cascade hops, so we did a quasi Dogfish Head 60 Minute beer.  We added 35 grams of hops every six minutes during the boil.  Of course we did not know the percent of alpha acids in the hops, but when adding hops like this it is not really that important.  It is pretty bitter, but tons of citrusy hop flavor.   The ABV is 7.4%, so it is hard not to like it.  Especially after one has enjoyed a couple.

The beer on the left is a simple Belgian Blond.  Mostly pilsener malt with a touch of aromatic. Wyeast 1214 yeast.  Over 8% ABV.  The flavor has, to my perception, a slight licorice flavor.  Interesting.  OK by me.  The beer is named after Leffe Blond, except I call it Leffe Behind.  If you drink too many, it seem like it is the apocalypse.

In the middle we have a Weizen-Bock.  This is my fifth weizen bock.  The first two were very nice.  I have not been particularly impressed with the last two I have made.  This one is too phenolic,  and not really as rich and malty as I think it should be.  My local home brew shop changed the type of  Special B they carried a year or so ago.  The one they stock today is about 118 °L, the old one was closer to 150 °L, and I think it was much richer and robust.  I may have to order some from an online source.  This is drinkable, but I think it can be better.

So, What’s on Tap?

It has been awhile since we have seen the taps.  The old Rye PA is still alive, but it is close to kicking.  It will be a sad day when that one gives up the ghost.  The new beers include Labor Day Ale, which is a robust porter.  I brewed it with brown malt and a a very dark English crystal, and it is nicely complex but approachable.  The third beer was brewed several weeks before and it is my first attempt at a Dortmunder Export lager. I am enjoying this beer as I write.  I am undecided as to how it fits the style.  I have a Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold in the fridge, which is a classic example.  I plan to do a side by side tasting to see how mine stacks up.  Cheers!

So, What’s on Tap?

Late spring has rolled into summer since the last post, too long a break for sure but the brewery saw little action during the early summer.  The drafts were down to a single tap, I was leaning pretty heavy on the bottle supply.  Since then a bit a disciplined brewing has brought the beer fridge back in line:

The Saison and the Rye IPA just wen on tap over the weekend, and they seem to be very promising brews.  I will talk more  about them soon.

Comparing Saison Yeasts (and What’s on Tap)

Recently I gave the recipe for Saison Wry , the beer that won a gold medal in the recent TRASH beer competition.  I recently re-brewed the recipe, splitting the roughly six gallon batch into two fermenters. In the first carboy I used my standard Wyeast 3711, French Saison yeast.  I love this yeast. It is rock solid and I believe it could ferment your concrete garage floor down to 1.002 or so.  It is the yeast I used in the medal winning recipe.  In the second carboy I pitched Wyeast 3726, Farmhouse Ale.  The 3726 is a limited release strain, and according to Wyeast it has an expected attenuation of 74% to 79%, versus the 3711 which claims 77% to 83%.

To make starters, I split active Wyeast smack packs into two, 2 liter soda bottles with about 1 liter of starter wort in each.  I noted the 3726 was a very powdery yeast; it settled OK but was much easier to disturb than the 3711.  In the end, I ended up with about 40 ml of fairly solid 3711 yeast but about 120 ml of very powdery 3726 yeast.  The 3711 smack pack was a few months older so perhaps some of the volume difference simply could be due to viability, but I think most of the difference was due to the 3726 not settling as well.

The wort had an initial gravity of 15.4 °P (1.063), and after pitching I aerated each carboy with pure oxygen for 90 seconds.  The wort was about 16 °C (61 °F) at pitching but I let the controller to 19°C (66 °F), and let it rise to 22°C (72 °F) by the third day.  The 3711 finished at a very typical 1.0 °P (1.004) for an apparent attenuation of 94% and 7.9% ABV.  The 3726 finished at 2.8 °P (1.011) for 83% attenuation and 6.9% ABV.

Today, here is the beer fridge, it is “Farmhouse vs. the French”:

So, which yeast “wins” ?  Both yeasts cleared well and both beers turned out very clear:

The Farmhouse Ale is softer and rounder, and perhaps a bit fruitier than the French Saison.  The French Saison is spicier and definitely drier and has a noticeable bend toward the higher alcohols.  In fact it has a slightly solvent like character that is stronger than I remember.  I guess I need to compare it to a bottle from the first batch to see if I am remembering correctly.  Which do I prefer?  It is funny, I seem to prefer the one that I pour first.  If I try the Farmhouse first,  then the French seems a little rough.  If I start with the French, then the Farmhouse is not a crisp and tart as the Farmhouse.  Which will I use going in the future?  Well, the Farmhouse is a specialty strain and not regularly available, so it will probably be the French Saison yeast.  And that is OK with me.