Thanksgiving Beer

What’s Happening Now


This week we will be bottling the brown ale that we brewed last weekend. This beer only has a fermentation period of a week and we will bottle condition it for two weeks. When it’s done it will have a dark amber color, malty sweetness, and toasted nut notes. We are still drinking on the IPA and Stout. Well, I’m drinking the IPA.


Have you ever had an issue with flies congregating around your CO2 blow off tube or valve? We did. They are there because the brewer’s yeast emits a fruity aroma during the fermentation process. These aromas attract the tiny, impossible to kill fruit flies.


Scientists have discovered the particular gene that causes the yeast to produce a fruity aroma, reports Wired Magazine. Experts can enhance the gene, where the yeast create more of the aroma or limit the gene, where the yeast makes very little of the aroma. They are working to produce a strain of brewer’s yeast that does not produce the aroma at all. Researchers believe that this aroma is produced to attract the flies on purpose. The yeast uses the flies as a transport to spread the organism’s population range since a yeast culture cannot move far on its own.

I know this is something that would normally be placed in the Hey, Did You Know? section, but I have a good post for that and this pertains to What’s Happening Now. We have had fruit flies everywhere and have for some time regardless of the falling temperatures outside. They congregate around the blow off valve or tube depending on the set up for different types of beer.


Here is how to kill those little buggers from my friends at Wiki How.

Hey, Did You Know?


Everyone knows that Thanksgiving is coming up and I felt it necessary to do a seasonal post about the holiday. I was curious about beer at the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims would have brought barrels of beer on their ships across the Atlantic because beer lasts longer than potable water. Researchers at the Smithsonian Magazine believe there would be very little beer, if any, at the first Thanksgiving, which makes me sad. Fear not my readers. Your Thanksgiving has potential to keep the beer flowing throughout the gorging day.


You want look for brown ale style beers or if you have Marzens left over from Oktoberfest. Concentrate on brews that have a high level of sweet malts and toasted nut flavors, low levels of bitterness, and lower levels of alcohol – because no one wants to be the one who ruined Thanksgiving due to drunkenness. These types of beers are going to pair well with the multitude of flavors, textures, temperatures, and weights of Thanksgiving meals. You want to make sure that you are not drinking a heavy beer that will fill you up as you enjoy the turkey. Brown ales or a Marzens will be a perfect blend to avoid flavor dominance over your meal.


May you have many things to be thankful for. I know I am.



My Unadulterated Opinion-


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t like brown ales. I don’t care for the sweet malts and lack of hop flavor. I want some bitter hops, but I just upsold you on toasted malt beer to go with your turkey so I put my pallet on the line. I’m glad that I went against what I normally drink. Boffo Brown ale by Dark Horse Brewery is a fantastic beer.


The dark color and the smooth head make the beer look aesthetically great. It pours out as a muddy color with about 80% clarity. The flavor is robust and exquisite. The sweet, toasted malts flavors meld well with bitterness dark chocolate notes. I think I like it because it does have some bitterness in the flavor, but it’s not from hops. I was able to overlook it though.


I enjoyed drinking this beer. This beer will be at my Thanksgiving dinner table. I got a six pack for $11.99. Enjoy my friends.






  • What beer will you drink over Thanksgiving?


Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. You can email me at Make sure you go and read the backlist posts.

Featured Image Credit: Boulevard Brewing



Watch for the Over Boil

Learn One of the Dangers of Home Brewing

What’s Happening Now

We were finally was able to get back into brewing after a several week hiatus. I apologize for the lack of brewing updates – renamed What’s Happening Now. We heat with wood here in the valley and our weekends have been spent cutting, splitting, and stacking it. I estimate we have half of our wood supply for the winter ready to burn and 20 years worth already cut in the woods ready to split.

We brewed the brown ale for the second time over the weekend. Check out my Brewing Over an Open Fire post for the story of the first time. We followed the recipe exactly with the exception of adding about half a cup of maple syrup to the wart as it brewed. This was an in-the-moment decision and the first time that we have strayed from the original recipe. I’m excited and a little nervous to see what comes up. Now we wait a month. I’ll be sure to give a full report when that is done.

Other beers that we have are the Imperial Stout  and the IPA. I’m not sure what we will brew after the stout has run out. We have less than half a case left. It’s the house favorite. I like having two beers to drink and one in the fermenting/conditioning stages. I’m open to suggestions. Comment below.

I would like to discuss a serious danger with home brewing. Be careful of the over boil. I cannot stress this enough and we almost had a catastrophe over the weekend. We have had wart start to foam up before, but never come close to the top of the brewing pot. The other day was the closest that we have had to an over boil. The wart foamed up to nearly the rim when I was able to reach it, take it off the heat, and snap the featured picture. This type of incident is the thing that will ruin your stove and consume hours of your time in clean up. Make sure you are always controlling your heat and stir occasionally. I have to admit I was not watching the boil. I drafting the next section that was, Factoid, now called Hey, Did You Know? Brew safely my friends.

Hey, Did You Know?

“Why does my beer smell bad? It doesn’t taste well either. What happened?” I’m sure you’ve heard or uttered those words to yourself before. That would be called skunked beer. There are several ways that beer goes bad while still in the bottle, but the most common factor is ultraviolet light. A term for beer being exposed to too much ultraviolet light – sunlight or florescent light in store – is light-struck.

Have you ever noticed that your favorite beer comes in cardboard packaging with the bottleneck covered with a paper band and probably in brown bottles? These elements are not just for marketing purposes, but also to protect the beer from ultraviolet light that is emitted from the florescent lights in the store. When beer is exposed to ultraviolet light for a long time the hop molecules, isohumulons, are ripped apart. At this point there are atoms floating around in the beer looking for a home. The lost atoms bind to sulfur atoms and they create a molecule similar to the smell of a skunk. Hence, skunked beer.

If you are fermenting or aging beer in a carboy make sure that your beer is not exposed to light. If your carboy is clear then cover it with a towel or paper bag. We age our beer in food grade plastic buckets that sit in a dark room. Once the beer is bottled we put it in sealed cardboard boxes and store them in a closed cabinet under a sink in the basement. The beer doesn’t see light until we pour it into a glass to drink.

Some beers will come in a clear or green bottle and are usually import beers. Breweries are not in the business selling skunked beer to Americans. These beers usually have that bitter, sulfur taste on purpose. This is the foreign equivalent of sour beer.

Now you know.

 My Unadulterated Opinion-

This week’s flavor comes from Rivertown Brewery and their take on Winter Ale. I had very high hopes for this beer considering it hails from Rivertown and it’s a dark winter ale. It has all the characteristics of a classic winter ale. It has pumpkin, cinnamon, and burnt almond notes, which spell out for a great seasonal beer. The color is right and the little head is aromatic. It goes down smooth and lines the throat with a creamy texture.

However, I found the cinnamon to be over zealous. There should be a harmony of flavors in a

Rivertown Winter Ale and Rivertown Glass from our tour

Rivertown Winter Ale and Rivertown Glass from our tour

sweet winter ale to compliment the cider drinkers and the smell of ham at the Christmas table. I didn’t get these here. This arrangement is all about the cinnamon and it’s too much.

I also found that my sample was a little flat. Maybe that was just an isolated incident to that batch, but there was not much of a head as you can see in the picture. That picture was taken a minute after I poured that glass of beer.

I had very high hopes for this beer and bought the six-pack for $8.99. It’s not a terrible beer, but I will finish my six beers and won’t buy it again. There are plenty of great winter ales out there. This is not one of them. I hoped that I would never find a beer from Rivertown that I didn’t like. I even liked their sour beer. Don’t let this review be a reflection of the brewery as a whole. I love Rivertown and the great guys I met there – check out our Tour of the Rivertown Brewery to see how much I like them, but I just don’t like this beer. Check out Hop Baron, Old Bruen, or Dunkel.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. You can email me at Make sure you go and read the backlist posts.



  • What do you look for in a winter ale style beer?

Hey, Did You Know? Credit: Skunked Beer

Tour of Rivertown Brewery

Fortune Favors the BraveIMG_1222

Last week my girlfriend surprised me with reservations to tour the Rivertown Brewery in Lockland, Ohio just north of Cincinnati. Rivertown Brewery, started in 2009, have now have reached: Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Florida. They have two brews a day to meet up with their demand. I have been to several breweries in the Cincinnati area, but never had a formal tour. This was such a great experience and I highly recommend anyone reading take a tour of your local brewery. We drank beer through the whole tour -that’s a plus.


We got there over an hour early like the tickets said to. As soon as we walked in there was a huge a bottling machine capable of filling 72 bottles at a time (back left of picture). The whole place smelled of fresh grains and sweet malt. Their taproom stood off to the right of the door. We had a few pints while we waited for the tour and talked to the bartender.


Six o’clock hit and Josh, Rivertown Brewery’s general manager, gave us a tour of the brewery. It started with showing us the different types of ingredients they use in the beer. We sampled different malts and grains. Josh encouraged only smelling the hops – and rightly so. We moved into the room with their 31 barrel (976.5 gallons) mash tun and half a dozen fermenting vats of varying sizes.

Next was their old bottling machine. At 24 bottles at a time the machine did it’s job well, but Rivertown Brewery is expanding too rapidly for the small thing to meet up with demands. They have a huge rotating 72 bottle capacity machine, but it is not in operation as of yet.


Josh moved us on to the wooden barrels where they age some of their beers, the pallets of bottles and kegs, and finally to a cooler the size of a three car garage. After the tour we met back up at the front bar and some other employees answered questions.

The shining star of the whole visit was their sour beer. Yes, dear readers, sour beer. I’m not talking about old, skunked, or stale beer. Sour beer is the new style of beer that brewers are making. Think about how food companies take cream and add bacteria to make sour cream for your tacos. This is the same process. Rivertown takes a few of their “normal” recipes, adds bacteria, and creates sour beer.

I wasn’t excited to try it at first, but I knew that I had to take the plunge for my home brewing readers. I did it for you. It took some getting used to, but by the end of the night I got a full pint down and was satisfied. It’s not a beer that you throw back during a sports match or one to sip on.

The preferred technique from the Rivertown brew masters is to drink it in large mouthfuls to saturate the taste buds. The first few drinks were the worst, but as time went on the beer got so much better. I felt myself waiting with anticipation until the next drink. It tasted like someone took a beer and put Warhead candy into it.

I thought that sour beer is genius and Rivertown expects it to be the next big thing. There are several breweries across the country that makes sour beer. I don’t know if this will ever rival the IPA as the flagship of craft brewing, but it could give it a run for it’s money.

Check this beer out and my new friends at Rivertown Brewery. I can’t thank them enough for the amazing experience and knowledge they shared with us. I would also like to thank my lovely partner in crime for surprising me and arranging everything.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. You can email me at


Had you ever heard about sour beer and would you ever drink it?



How Well Do You Know Your IPA?

Carbonating the Gaivs Plinivs Secvndvs

Pliny If you have read more than just this post to the blog you will know that I love IPAs. We have had the opportunity to brew a few of them. Gaivs Plinivs Secvndvs (Guy-us Plinius Secendus) was the first and my favorite.

We followed the directions step-by-step. The boil went by perfectly and we transferred to the fermenting bucket like we were supposed to. I was surprised how much hops were in the bottom of the bucket. There was a gallon equivalent in the bottom. This was far more than any other beer we had made up to that point. We dry hopped the fermentation for two weeks before bottling. The whole bottom was green.

After two weeks in the bottles we opened one bottle and it was flat. The flavor was great. It had the classic burnt copper color and had an incredible bitter taste of Centennial and Columbus hops. We were baffled why it was so flat. We waited another two weeks.

On the second try the beer was still flat. We asked the guys at the brewing store and they said to swirl the bottles to agitate the yeast. Ales have a top feeding warm yeast. I looked at the bottles and all the yeast had fallen to the bottom. I swirled the bottles and the yeast spun all around.

Two weeks later the carbonation was perfect. The beer had a perfect white head when poured into a glass. I loved drinking it. The sweet citrus mixed with the bitter hops was delightful. I want to make the beer again.

Bottle conditioning can fix almost any problem you are having with a batch. Making beer is an active chemical process with real organisms. Give them what they need, a little time, and you will have excellent beer.


The Flagship of Craft BrewingColumbia Hops

IPAs are the fastest growing type of beer in the United States for drinking and for brewing. It ‘s inevitable that you will run into an IPA somewhere along in your journey; therefore, you might as well know a little bit about them.

There are three main types of IPAs: English-style India pale ale, American-style India pale ale, and Imperial (double) India pale ale along with countless subcategories.

English-style India pale ale are quite balanced in overall malt and hop character. Notable floral, earthy, grassy hop character resides alongside a caramel, bready malt backbone. American craft-brewed versions of the English-style IPA, which outnumber available English-brewed examples, may show a little more hop personality than English-brewed IPAs; however, they remain more restrained in overall hop character than American-style IPAs.

American-style India pale ale- golden-to-copper appearance as English Pale Ale and delivers a medium malt profile, but it then diverges toward a hop-forward personality and often imparts a crisp mouth-feel. Pronounced fruit, citrus, pine and/or floral aromas and flavors from Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and other American hop varietals are often the mark of American Pale Ale. Brewers use techniques such as adding hops late in the boil phase as well as dry hopping to ensure the hop aromas and flavors are harnessed along with bitterness. The American Pale Ale style can perhaps be credited with starting America’s love affair with hoppy beers.

Imperial (double) India pale ale- are all about copious amounts of hops—typically of American variety—with plenty of malts and higher alcohol levels to offer balance to the hop bitterness. Variations exist within the style, with some examples offering a unilateral “tongue ripping” hop experience (to the joy of many hop enthusiasts as of which I am one). Others are balanced overall in hop bitterness and malt sweetness, and still others are complex, with multiple layers of fruity, hoppy, malty character that evolve as the beer passes over the palate and as it warms in the glass.

IPA’s have been the flagship of craft brewing for years now, but there is a challenger to the world of beer. Check out my post next week for more details. My latest experience was fun.

Community Brewing Competitions

For the community news section I will attach the American Homebrewers Association list for the up and coming brewing competitions. Find a competition in your area and try to make it. I look Northern Libertiesforward to the Annual Brewsters Cup Mead Competition near Cincinnati and maybe I will see some of you there.

“For Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Hoppiness”

This week I am reviewing one of my favorite beers Christian Moerlein Northern Liberties IPA. I have been an IPA man for about a year now and this is the IPA that got me into IPAs. It is a smooth beer that is not too over powering. I have had beers with more hops and more bitterness, but this one is just right.

The color is a burnt copper with a perfectly white and aromatic head. Thlife libery hoppinessis is one of the few beers that are an exception to my father’s see through the beer rule (see previous post for the rule). In my Brewing Over an Open Fire post I talked about ales and lagers. Lagers are known for their crisp taste. IPAs are considered ales, but this beer is very crisp. There is plenty of bitterness in the taste and citrus notes abound.

I love this beer. Finish this post and go buy some. You can find it at most retailers with a beer license. I bought my six-pack at Kroger for $8.99.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. Be sure to check the backlist of posts for more content. You can email me at

I’ve noticed that the highest day for traffic to the blog has consistently been Wednesday. I’m not sure why, but I welcome it. I will be changing my post day from Thursday to Tuesday to compliment the Wednesday high traffic day.



  • Think about your favorite type of beer. For me that is an IPA. What beer introduced you to the style and what about it converted you? Remember to hit comment at the top of the page.