Nov 192013

Like most homebrewers that use propane, I brew outside.  As the days get colder and shorter this gets less comfortable.  November 9, 2013 was a pleasant exception to this.  It was cloudy and breezy but was in the 50s so it was a perfect day to set up some chairs in a garage in Byron Center and make some beer.2013-11-09 11.31.00

I had decided earlier in the week that I wanted to brew my Black Pumpkin Ale.  This is a beer that I try to make once or twice every fall.  You start out by roasting two bowling ball sized pie pumpkins.  I describe how to prepare them in my article Pumpkin Preparation for a Pumpkin Ale.

Here is the rest of the recipe for a five gallon batch: Continue reading »

 Posted by at 8:05 am
Nov 142013

In my earlier post, Putting Jolly Ranchers in a Beer, I mentioned that we brewed a grape Jolly Rancher Belgian tripel for this year’s Iron Brewer in Grand Ledge, MI.  Judging for this competition took place this past Tuesday and our beer won.  All of the beers presented were well done.  Some were delicious beers that lacked a Jolly Rancher character.  Others tasted like delicious desserts or wine coolers.  The idea behind the Red Salamander’s Iron Brewer competition is to make something that showcases the “secret ingredient” while still being a beer.  This year the judges felt that our entry was best at walking that line.

Myself and Karl from The Red Salamander

Myself and Karl from The Red Salamander

Tom Payne Sr. - Jolly Rancher Unwrapper Extraordinaire

Tom Payne Sr. – Jolly Rancher Unwrapper Extraordinaire










Here’s the recipe for 5 Gallons: Continue reading »

 Posted by at 8:15 am
Nov 062013

I published this article last year before I started posting regularly.  Since I’m making my pumpkin ale this Sunday and plan to post the recipe I thought that it would be worth revisiting.  Enjoy!

I was fascinated by the idea of making some kind of a pumpkin ale for a number of years.  Interestingly enough I don’t think I’ve ever had a commercial one that really embodied what I envisioned.  The result of my experimentation was my Black Pumpkin Ale.  This recipe continues to be a favorite among those who frequent my basement pub.  I try to make it at least once a year and I think it’s definitely worth focusing on in a future post.

I try to use fresh ingredients in my beer whenever possible.  I love the flavor from fresh whole leaf hops, fresh spices, and fresh fruits and vegetables.  When I started tailoring my pumpkin ale recipe years ago many of the examples I looked at used canned pumpkin.  I knew that wasn’t what I wanted.  I wanted to add freshly harvested pumpkin to the mash.  So I went to the local farmer’s market, selected two bowling ball sized pie pumpkins and brought them home.  I’ve done this almost every year since. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:13 am
Nov 012013

I find that reading is a great way to broaden your knowledge of a topic. I don’t believe that brewing is an exception. Here are four of my favorite brewing books.

Image courtesy of adamr /

Image courtesy of adamr /

The Complete Joe of Home BrewingCharlie Papazian is arguably the father of home brewing in the United States.  The first edition of his The Complete Joy of Homebrewing was published in 1984 and is considered by many to be the home brewer’s bible.  I bought the second edition of this book on the day that I bought my first set of brewing equipment.  The fourth edition is due out next year.  Papazian divides this book into beginner, intermediate, and advanced sections doing a great job of giving you the information that you need to get started while also giving you more advanced information to help you improve.  One of the things that I always liked about this book is that you can pretty much get the information you need to know to produce a decent batch of extract beer in the first ten or fifteen pages.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 9:49 am