Category Archives: Brewing

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Garden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forrest

McKinley Park Hip Hop

Our Inspiration

Back in June of 2017, my wife Sharon, and I took a trip down to Shawnee National Forest (which is something we had wanted to do for quite a few years). After spending a weekend in a fantastic cabin, eating in at a Brazilian restaurant in Carbondale and hiking through the beautiful arboreal landscape, we stopped at Scratch Brewing. There we experienced the wonder of beer flavored with foraged ingredients. Cherry bark, pine needles and Chantrelle mushrooms were among the amazing flavors that day.

Marika Josephson, Aaron Kleidon, & Ryan Tockstein published and sell a book at the brewery entitled The Homebrewer’s Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to Making Your Own Beer from Scratch. The book contains advice on foraging, using vegetables & herbs in beer, and recipes for unique beers.

Our Adventure

Having only once have I foraged for ingredients (when I gathered spruce (pine) tips for an IPA) and inspired by our trip to Scratch Brewery, Sharon and I decided to forage wild rose hips from McKinley Park (which we planned to use in a saisson). We only managed to collect a pound of hips, which were not fully ripe, having an orange shade of red and a hard consistency. 

In the brew, I used 11 pounds  of two row, and about a pound of crystal malt (60 L?). In addition to an ounce of pellet hops, I used a half-gallon bag of backyard hops (Nugget?) at the start of the boil. We added the rose hips at the last 5 minutes of the boil as well as a half gallon-sized bag of backyard hops (Cascade?). I pitched a smack pack of (French?) saisson yeast. After two week in primary fermentation, I kegged the beer.

Then, after a couple weeks we tried it, but it tasted a tad too bitter but it had a good, not-too-yeasty, saisson flavor with a little something to it – possibly citrus from the rose hips.

Final Draft

After much discussion about how to deal with the less than desirable bitterness, we decided to brew up a whole new batch. Sharon went back to the park and collected, a tremendous, 8 pounds of deep-red, ripe rose hips! Meanwhile I began the mash. You can see the recipe and some notes below.


  • 10.5 # Pilsner Malt
  • 1 oz German Tettnang (3.7% alpha acid) at 60 min
  • 0.5 gal. freezer bag of backyard hops (possibly Cascade) at 15 min
  • 3# Rose hips (whole) at 15 min through flame out plus 15 more min
  • one vial of French Saisson yeast from White Labs

Attempts were made to de-seed hips but this proved too laborious. Backyard hops smelled piney at the end. Bag of rose hips had a noticeably citrus aroma (according to me but not Sharon ;)).

The Homebrewer’s Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to Makeing Your Own Beer from Scratch


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There’s no such thing as Scotchtoberfest

Brewing up a Scotch Ale that I tried a few years ago. I intended to make a alt-bier/scotch ale hybrid. “That’s right. There’s no such thing as Scotchtoberfest.”

  • 12.00 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otterscotchtoberfest-simpsons
  • 1.67 lb Munich Malt
  • 0.83 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L
  • 0.16 lb Chocolate Malt

First runnings were 1.054 at 124 deg. 1.060 pre-boil. Could not find the hop schedule I used previously. I thought I added some German hops in there, so I just went with the following.

  • 2 oz. Fuggles (4.5%) at 60 min
  • 1 oz. Tettnang (3.9%) at 20 min

Only got 4 gallons in the fermentor. Boiled off more than I thought and/or mis-estimated how much was in the brew pot. So, I boiled up 1+ gallon of reserved liquid from the mash tun. Ended up getting close to 5 gallons. OG was 1.060.

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McKinley Park Wee Heavy

Got home from going out to breakfast plus a half hour walk. Thought I had nothing else to do today. Had milled grain sitting around from a postponed batch, so I decided to brew up a Wee Heavy. Except this wee heavy is going to have an American twinge to it. This was probably the most grain I’ve ever used at one time. All approximately 20 pounds of grain went into the mash tun with 5 gallons of water. My temp was right around 154, but I did not have complete conversion. I added another gallon to bump the temp up and let it sit for another 30 min. This time was good. I got about 3 gallons in the brew pot and added 5 more gallons to the tun for the sparge. After an hour, I drained off about another 3 gallons and began the boil. While that started I added another gallon of water to the mash and let that sit. My first runnings were 1.093 at 140 deg with refactometer. To start the boil I had a 1.080 initial reading on the refractometer. Below is the recipe. I had some business to conduct so the boil went a little over 1 hour. I also pulled off another gallon from the tun and boiled that separately.

  • 18#  Marris Otter
  • 1# Crystal 40
  • 1# Munich Light
  • 8 oz Special B
  • 2 oz Roasted Barley
  • 1 oz Nugget (14.9% AA) at 60 min
  • 3/8 oz Fuggles (4.2%) at 60 min
  • 1 oz Hallertau (2.7%) at 20 min
  • 3 gallon freezer bags full of homegrown Cascade and Nugget hops at 15 min

Did not get done with the boil until around 7:00 PM and had plans to go out. So, I stuck the brew pot in an ice bath after the wife helped me squeeze wort out of the bag of hop cones. Got home at around midnight. Due to the boil and use of whole cone (or miscalulations) I ended up with only 4 gallons, so I had to add the gallon from the separate boil. This may knock down the IBUs. I pitched Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale yeast. OG was 1.090.

Update 4/3: Bottled after 6 days of dry-hopping with 1 oz of Cascade pellets. Had to use detrose and DME. FG 1.018 so about 9.5% ABV. End of the bottling bucket was fruity, smokey/spicy and bitter.

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Backyard Pale Ale 2015

Brewed this West Coast Pale Ale up on February 28. I’ve read and heard that West Coast Pales are supposed to dry and hoppy. That is what I’m going for whatever the reality may be. I’m not sure if Northern Brewer fits the American bill, but that is what I had on hand for bittering.


  • 12# two row
  • 0.5 oz Northern Brewer
  • 1# LDME
  • 4 gallon freezer bags full of home grown Cascade and Nugget hops

I had 7 gallons in the tun which maxed out. Got about 5 gallons in the kettle. My initial pre-boil gravity reading was 1.040 at 127 degrees. Put 1.5 gallon in tun for “sparge”. Got about the same amount back. Added 4 gallon freezer bags full of cones. Got 5 gallons in the fermontor. OG = 1.056. Pitched Omega West Coast ale yeast. House smells piney.

Update (3/14): I check the gravity and have a reading of 1.002. I added 1 oz of Cascade pellets for dry hopping. At the moment, not thrilled about the taste. Got some esters. May have fermented at over 68 degrees.

Update (3/20): Bottled 40 bottles (2 bombers). Still had estery characteristics but was also very bitter.

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Four Hop IPA

I brewed up my American IPA with 4 different kinds of C-hops. I tried to do a “regular” brew with a sparge but could not get mash temp above 150 with the original 3.5 gallons. So I ended up with 4.5-5 in the tun. This have me a gravity reading of 1.058 at 140 deg F and 3.75 gallons in the brew pot. I poured 3.5-4 gallons in tun for sparge. I got about 7 total gallons in the brew pot after an hour plus sparge. The gravity was 1.042 at 120+ degrees. This only comes to a gravity of about 1.050, so I’ve decided to do a 90 minute boil. I’ve got far more that 5 gallons in the pot, and I’d like to get a higher gravity. Even though I’m using some whole hops, I don’t think I’ll loose too much.


  • 12# Two-row
  • 0.45# Crystal 40L
  • 0.45# Crystal 60L
  • 0.5# Carapils
  • 1 oz Columbus 13.4% at 60 min
  • 1 oz Centennial 9.3% at 30 min
  • 2 gallon freezer bags full of backyard hops at 15 min
  • 1 oz Cascade 5.5% at 5 min
  • 1 oz Citra (dry-hop in a couple weeks)
Muku looking for a treat.

Too fast for the camera.

When I shook the first package of hops, Muku came looking for a treat. I am still having problems with my wort chiller. I did realize that the connector I purchased last week is slightly off. The 13/16″ male connection has thinner threads than the threads in the female part of the faucet. I switched back to using the out-take spigot from my mash tun and I forced a smaller tube over it, but I still had leakage at the point where it connects to the chiller. After much aggravation, I got the wort chilled, but my 90 minute boil back-fired. While I got a decent OG of 1.064, I only ended up with 4.5 gallons in the fermentor. I pitched California Ale yeast and off it goes.


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Brewed up an amber based on this Irish Red. I have been using this recipe for a while, but I finally managed to find brown malt.


  • 10# two row
  • 0.25# crystal 40L
  • 0.25# crystal 60L
  • 0.25# brown
  • 0.5 carapils
  • 0.75 oz Fuggles for 60 min
  • 0.5 oz Goldings for 60 min
  • 0.25 oz Fuggles at flame out
  • 0.5 oz Goldings at flame out

20160123_150442I got all of the grain and about 7 gallons of water in the mash tun. I am again doing a no-sparge method, but I only mashed for 90 minutes in stead of 3 hours. The gravity reading was about 1.041 with both instruments. About 5 gallons went into the brew pot and 1.5 gallons of heated water went back into the mash tun for a mini-sparge. I stepped out to get an adapter to properly connect my wort chiller to my faucet. I needed a 3/4″ to 13/16″ adapter, I had been having a difficult time finding, but Ace was the place. After a side trip to Brew & Grow for a new fermentor and some DME, I got back home to drain off the mini-sparge which had a gravity reading of about 1.020 at 128 deg F. 20160123_150434I started boiling the main brew pot and the liquid from the mini-sparge separately. After 40 minutes of boiling, I added the remain 1 gallon from the mini-sparge into the main brew pot and added 1# of DME.

Then stuff started to go to hell. I broke the tip off of the floating thermometer. Of course that happened after I went to the brew store. I also again had trouble with the wort chiller. I am now using the correct intake tubing which has a garden hose (3/4″) attachment. The 3/4″ to 13/16″ adapter I bought at Ace fit the tubing to the faucet correctly, but when I turned the faucet on water went everywhere. I eventually minimized the leakage at the connection, but I could not get the tube clamped down tight enough on the chiller to stop dripping at that point. I also tore up my hand trying to tighten up all of the connections, so into the bathtub the brew pot went.

I pitching White Labs Irish ale yeast into 5.5 gallons of wort in the fermentor with an OG of 1.060.

Update: FG was 1.010. Which should give it a 6.5% abv. 20 IBUs


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Celebration Clone 2015

Brewed up my Celebration clone today. I used 3 bags of backyard hops at 30 min. I did not get to 5 gallons. Plan to dry hop this with an ounce of Cascade and Centennial.

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