Displaced Geek

Just a city geek and father coming to terms with being replanted in farm country

2012 Brew in Review

So 2012 was the year my lovely wife & I started brewing. Let’s see exactly how it went.

2012 Brew List:

  1. Imperial Nut Brown – kit
  2. Red Ale – kit
  3. Pumpkin Spice Ale – kit
  4. Lemony Snicket Wheatslightly modified internet recipe
  5. Raspberry Wheat – modified internet recipe
  6. Denny Conn’s Vanilla Bourbon Porterinternet recipe
  7. Hard Cider 1 – Purple Turkey Alehouse Original
  8. Hard Cider 2 – Purple Turkey Alehouse Original
  9. Simple Saisonslightly modified internet recipe
  10. Pete’s X1-RIS – Purple Turkey Alehouse Original
  11. LHBS Pumpkin Spice BeerLHBS recipe
  12. Modified Midwest ESB – internet inspired PTA original
  13. Irish Red 2 – modified internet recipe

Considering all the “real life” things that happened last year, 13 brews (12 brewdays) in 10 months is fairly respectable. But I’m certainly aiming for a higher number this year.

Despite having a binder with all our beer stuff in it, a bunch of this is going to be solely from my memory, because we took horrendous notes, if any, for pretty much the entire first half of the year.

Our first three brews were straight kits, and there’s very little I can add to their respective website descriptions, except to note that the Pumpkin Spice Ale kit was absolutely the best pumpkin beer I’ve tasted.(not saying much) On the other hand, it really should be called a Pumpkin PIE Spice Ale, because there was very little actual pumpkin flavor to it.

The first recipe we did on our own was a Lemon Wheat designed to be all refreshing & whatnot. It calls for 6.6lbs of Wheat Extract, but I’m fairly sure we used 7, since that’s how our LHBS sells their bulk extract. Additionally, I have no idea what the AA was for the hops, my notes have two different final gravity readings, and three different ABV calculations. All that being said, it came out as a refreshing easily drinkable brew, with a definite summery-feel to it.  I expect we’ll have at least one batch of this one ready for the height of summer again this year.

Lemony Snicket Wheat, PTA-Style:
OG: 1.055
FG: 1.0298 – 1.01
ABV: 3.3 – 5.9


PTA Raspberry Wheat:
OG: 1.048
FG: 1.01
ABV: 4.99 – 5.06

Our next brew was another shot at post-lawnmowing refreshment, a raspberry wheat. We started out with a blackberry wheat recipe, and swapped the 6.6lbs Irks Wheat for 7lbs of our LHBS’ Bavarian Wheat LME. We also used Safale S-04 in place of the Wyeast 3056 indicated. Instead of putting the berries into the primary, we racked the beer into the secondary right over the frozen berries. We were unable to fit more than 60oz of berries, and in fact were forced to use a blowoff tube for the first time as a result of the decreased (read: complete lack of) headspace.  Unfortunately, life got in the way of bottling this one, and it sat on the berries much too long.  Consequently, this was a delicious beer with a bit too-tart finish. Case in point: it’s now several months later, and we still have a few bottles left.  It needs to be HOT out for this beer to be enjoyable enough to overcome the tart.


For our first shot at a BIAB recipe, we went with the infamous Denny Conn’s Vanilla Bourbon Imperial Porter.  With so many better written descriptions out there, I’ll limit myself to the aspects of our brew that diverged from the original recipe.Our only substitution was a result of LHBS stock.  We subbed 1lb Vienna and 0.5lb German Smoke for the 1.5 Great Britain Brown Malt.  Also, we used Safale US-05 in place of the yeasts listed.  I *believe* we used W.L. Weller as our bourbon, which is a wheated bourbon with vanilla notes already, much like the significantly more expensive Maker’s Mark many internet denizens recommended.This was a highly enjoyable brew that I thought aged incredibly well. Definitely one we’ll brew again.

DC’s Vanilla Bourbon Imperial Porter, PTA-Style:
OG: 1.085
FG: 1.019
ABV: 8.6 – 9.3


PTA C1 Cider:
OG: 1.0625
FG: 1.004
ABV: 7.6 – 7.8

PTA C2 Cider:
OG: 1.0625
FG: 1.004
ABV: 7.6 – 7.8

According to our notes, we did our ciders the same day as DC’s Vanilla Bourbon Porter. I’m not so sure about that, but it doesn’t really matter. The fact is we overcomplicated what should’ve been an incredibly simple thing by spicing the cider pre-fermentation, and ended up with 2.5 gallons of an arguably passable cider (backsweetened with apple juice, brown sugar, & molasses), and 2.5gallons of Instant Hangover© (backsweetened with straight apple juice). That being said, it did serve as an excellent practice run for the easy stovetop low-temp not-quite-pasteurizing method described here. We’ll make a cider again this year, but certainly not this recipe.


When I decided it was time to do a saison, I found the simplest saison recipe I could. Unfortunately, not only was this the height of my “no notes” period, but we brewed it with a broken hydrometer, so I have genuinely no idea what the OG was. In addition, I changed up the hops, and didn’t add the corn sugar as indicated. I also used WLP565 instead of the Saison Blend. After aging, it has turned out to be the prettiest beer we’ve ever done. A beautiful creamy head and almost perfectly clear body make it a sight to behold. That being said, it’s still a saison without a clean finish, so while it has its fans, it’s far from perfect. I’ll definitely do another saison, whether or not it’s this one is still up in the air.

PTA Simple Saison:
OG: Broken Hydrometer – No Reading
FG: 1.004
ABV: est. 7.2 – 7.3


OG: 1.088 – 1.097
FG: 1.024
ABV: 9.1 – 10.5
1.097 was measured, but I would’ve needed 105% efficiency to get that, so I stuck the calculated OG (1.088) here as well.

Le sigh. One of my favorite brews of the year, this was my first 100% independent recipe. A Russian Imperial Stout, this recipe called for a pitch black beer with a tan head and big body. I tinkered with it for a very long time. It turned out pretty damn tasty, looking almost exactly as I wanted it to, and it was almost too easy to drink, considering the alcohol content. In other words, it was a really good winter brew. Of course, when I decided to age a case to see how it’d mellow, by aging a case? I basically threw said case down the drain. Think I’m exaggerating? I’m averaging 4 to 5oz drinkable beer per bottle on the remainder of the case. Clearly there was more residual sugar left than I calculated, which just took some time to increase the carbonation to absurd levels.


The downside to that delicious Pumpkin Spice kit from Homebrewer’s Outpost, is that the grains weren’t specified, nor were the spices, so when we decided to do another one for Gabriella’s birthday party, we settled on the recipe put together by our LHBS. Bad idea. This beer has no redeeming qualities. While we tushed it slightly there’s no way that accounts for its complete and utter undrinkability. We will be brewing a pumpkin beer again this year, but it will not be this recipe.

LHBS Pumpkin Spice Beer, PTA-Style:
OG: 1.070
FG: 1.012
ABV: 7.6 – 7.9


PTA Modified ESB:
OG: 1.061
FG: 1.014
ABV: 6.0 – 6.2

I’m about as far from a hophead as you can get, so this is a style of beer that I don’t normally drink, nevertheless it seemed like a good fit for my father-in-law’s Christmas gift. I started with some of the internet’s modified clones of Midwest‘s ESB, and continued to tinker until I was content with the results, and was so dramatically changed that it bears next to no likeness to the original. It turned out pretty good, but probably light on hops, both for the style, and the intended recipient.


This recipe is yet another in the not so long line of almost-good-enough red ales. Okay, so we’ve only brewed two. Still, a good red ale just seems like the kind of thing a brewer needs in his arsenal. This recipe started out as an online recipe, but went through a series of transformations before brewday, and ended up as our own. With a decent flavor profile, but too-thin mouthfeel, I think it still needs a few more transformations.

PTA Irish Red 2:
OG: 1.046
FG: 1.012
ABV: 4.4 – 4.5

So there you have it, a brew in review post almost a month late. You’re welcome.

Now don’t say I never did anything for you.


Written by Peter

January 23, 2013 at 925

One Response

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  1. Reblogged this on Good Beer Better Hats.


    January 23, 2013 at 1135

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