Category Archives: The beers

Ancient grains update


This is the beer I made with malted Emmer, Spelt, Khorasan and caramel Khorasan. It’s got a bunch of modern hop varieties in it Citra, Galaxy, Mandarina Bavaria and Azacca. I usually only add a couple of different hop varieties to a beer but this day was a “what the hell” kind of day. This beer actually cleared up after a few weeks after starting out rather hazy.dsc02870 You can almost read the label on the back of the glass in the picture above. The head is big and lingers till the end and as of now, no gushers. I was expecting a few because of the fusarium I saw in the Khorasan. Luckily it was not bad enough, I’ve gone through about half of them and so far so good. Flavour: tart, really tart, underneath is the earthy spiciness of cloves. I used Wyeast Weihenstephan 3068 fermented on the cool side at 18C or 64F. On top is a lot of fruit from the hops, so much that it reminds me of POG, that Hawaiian drink that consists of passion fruit, orange and guava juice . At first, I thought the spicy fruit combo was weird and I thought it would have been better if I fermented warmer to get more banana esters. But it’s grown on me and if there were banana notes it might just taste like a fruit salad (which might be worth a try next summer) As it is it takes some time to detect all the flavours going on. It definitely has body, it’s like eating sourdough bread so it’s a slow drinking beer that demands a couch and an ottoman, or something to support the “wheat belly” I’m working on.


Feed Barley I.P.A.


Here’s what I’ve done with some of that feed barley I malted a little while ago. I know an I.P.A. is not the best beer to judge malt quality, the hops mask a lot of the malt character but I felt like drinking an I.P.A. so I made one, so don’t judge!

It’s super tasty, I’m loving these Galaxy hops. I also dry-hopped with Mosaic. There’s a dose of peach up front followed by some citrus and ending with a strong piney bitterness that reminds you that you’re drinking beer, not sangria.

I used quite a bit of caramel malt and some honey as well so it may be too malty for the style but I think it’s balanced and for me the sweetness seems to accentuate the fruity character of the hops.The Mosaic hops were sent to me from John from his families hop farm in Washington “thanks John!”

It has a nicely rounded mouth feel and as you can see in the picture a creamy head that likes to linger. O.G. was 1.059  F.G. 1.013 According to Beer Tools my efficiency was 80% What was also surprising is that I had full conversion in one hour.  Being more patient than I used to be with the germination and waiting until it’s really well modified has obviously helped in developing the enzymes in the malt.

If there is a possible flaw it has to do with a faint hint of phenolic flavour that I detected in the last beer I had which would be pretty disappointing. I can barely taste it so I don’t really care but I’ve sent this one off to be judged at the local competition, so we’ll see what the judges say about it in a few weeks. The possible source may be my water. I tried using tap water treated with half a campden tablet overnight. This is the first time I’ve tried this. Has anybody else experienced an issue with this method?

Update: This beer scored pretty low at the competition. It received a 29/50 from one judge and a 31/50 from another. However, it’s main flaw was stylistic -not enough hops and too sweet. I’m usually good at taking criticism, but I do disagree that it was low in hop flavour. Maybe the Galaxy hops threw them off? I would say they’re more peachy than citrusy but this was not noticed. According to Beer Tools this beer should have had 78 IBU’s which does not include the 2 oz of Mosaic that I dry-hopped for 5 days. Oh well.  Here’s what the judge who gave me the 29 had to say:

Aroma: Moderate grainy toasty malt. Not a lot of hops. Some citrus but very faint. No DMS, maybe diacetyl, low fruity esters. 7/12

Appearance: Hazy orange amber. Off-white moderate creamy head. Retention is pretty good. Leaves some lacing. 3/3

Flavour: Moderate caramel toasted bread crust. Hops are very faint. Bitterness is moderately low. Finishes sweet and the sweetness lingers in the aftertaste. some diacetyl maybe and low fruity esters. Moderately low alcohol. 11/20

Mouthfeel: Medium strong body with medium carbonation. Alcohol warmth is low and smooth. No astringency. A little cloying from sweetness. 3/5

Overall Impression: More like an English P.A. It feels a little under attenuated with way too high sweetness for the style. I also got some caramel which I sometimes mix with diacetyl. I didn’t feel any slickness in the mouth so I assume it was caramel which is fine but it was a little high. If you used some specialty malts it might be better to reduce them . Also the hop flavour and … was lacking a little. ( I could not make out a word, the guys writing was terrible)  5/10

At least there were no obvious off flavours. Looking at the recipe it probably was too sweet and malty. I used 11 lbs of pale. 1 lb. of caramel and 12 oz. of my brumalt. I mashed in at 143F for 15 min and decocted a gallon of mash to get to 152F for 1 hour. The final gravity was 1.013 making the ABV 6.09%




Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Feed barley, The beers


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1804 Porter taste test

DSC00525This is the Porter based on the Barclay Perkins Porter from 1804 with Brown malt and Pale malt. I shouldn’t call this a taste test because that would imply that I haven’t tried any when in fact it’s almost all gone. But hey, can you blame me? It was the perfect beer for the Christmas holidays. After all the food, desserts, and chocolate it was nice to finish the evenings with something not sweet but full of dry roasted flavours. Dark toast and coffee dominate, the smoke is almost non-existent. It’s so subtle it’s  presence could be mistaken for a slight sourness but I recognize the flavour from my other pecan wood  brown malt porter. The hops are very low which doesn’t surprise me. These were the hops I picked on River Rd. just outside of Fort Langley. I have no idea what kind they are but I’m guessing the alpha acid level is around 3% so I could have used a lot more. The colour is gorgeous, no complaints there and it’s got a full mouth feel. The head doesn’t stick around for very long, but considering the disastrous brew day and the stuck sparge I’m extremely happy it turned out so well.



1804 Porter

What a disaster. This beer was loosely based on the 1804 Barclay Perkins TT recipe from Ron Pattinsons book The Home brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beers. I didn’t think I was going to use the whole batch of brown malt in one recipe but this gave me a perfect excuse to do just that. So 4lb of non-diastatic brown, 2 lbs of my diastatic brown malt samples in place of the Amber malt in the recipe and 6lb of pale malt. I also added 1 lb of pilsner malt just because I had some and to help with conversion. Everything was going great until I tried to sparge. This mash got stuck and I mean really really stuck. With brown malt being roasted it is very friable, the husk breaks down in to very small pieces and the inside is a fine dusty powder which turned into cement at the bottom of my mash tun and completely plugged the false bottom. A larger mash tun would have helped and definitely more rice hulls, a lot more, I would suggest one pound minimum. I tried giving it a stir – nothing, I tried blowing some air through it – still nothing. I finally ended up ladling it out into a bucket and throwing all the sparge water in, sort of a batch sparge and then just pouring it through a strainer, what a mess. I’d be very surprised if this turns out. I ended up with 4.5 gallons of a decent looking dark beer with an O.G. of 1.064.  It’s been bubbling away nicely and has just started to slow down, my fingers are crossed. I thought this post might at least be useful for anyone else trying to make this recipe,  Cheers!DSCN1180


Posted by on December 5, 2014 in Brown malt, Diastatic Brown Malt, The beers


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2014 Competition Results


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Garden update and Belgian Dubbel

Marching off to battle!

Marching off to battle!

I’m entering 4 beers into this years Vanbrewer’s Home brewing competition. The pre-industrial pale ale, the Vienna lager, a Belgian Dubbel and a Belgian dark strong ale all of which have some homegrown malt in them with the pale ale being 100% homegrown.

Belgian Dubbel

Belgian Dubbel

This one turned out really well with hints of chocolate, medjool dates and caramel. It’s dry but with a full mouth feel enhanced by a fine spritzy carbonation. The colour is a rich coppery brown and the aroma is of sweet hay. Here’s the recipe:

  • 8 lbs pale malt
  • 1 lb munich (home grown)
  • 8 oz. caramel 60L
  • 4 oz chocolate malt (homegrown)
  • 15 oz Special B (homegrown)
  • 8 oz raw soft wheat
  • 8 oz Honey malt (home grown)
  • 4 oz acid malt
  • 1 lb sugar
  • Tettnanger 3% 1 oz 60 min
  • Mt Hood 5% .5 oz 20 min
  • Mt Hood 5% 1 oz 5 min
  • White Labs WLP 545 Belgian Strong

Mashed at 153 C for 1 hour

8 gal R.O. water with  4g gypsum, 6g calcium chloride, 1g epsom and 4g Sodium Bicarbonate

Yeast pitched at 18 C. Primary fermented at 21 C then lowered to 18 C

O.G. 16.75 or 1.069 F.G. 7.5 or 1.0054   ABV 8.3 %

I counted 4 stalks coming up.

I counted 4 stalks coming up.

A few weeds to get rid of.

A few weeds to get rid of.



The barley is doing ok. I do have some concerns about the rate of growth in the centre of the beds. Perhaps the over crowding stunted the growth or there wasn’t enough nitrogen in the soil. I did notice some yellowing in the leaves so it’s probably nitrogen. The horse manure we get at the gardens contains a lot of sawdust which can lock up the nitrogen while it’s decomposing. Next fall I will definitely compost it in a pile instead of spreading it over the beds. A hot pile of compost can decompose faster than simply laying it on the beds due to the action of the bacteria. I spent a few hours taking out the weeds that had come up only to find out later that it was chickweed and that you can eat it, bummer. If you can eat your weeds it makes the work seem so much more worthwhile.


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Posted by on May 18, 2014 in Garden Updates, The beers


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Vienna Lager

Take a look at that, it’s like an ice cream sundae. I don’t think this beer has even fully carbonated yet and this was after 4 minutes of trying to get a good shot. I was going to wait a little while before writing a post about this one but after I poured it I had to get a picture. It’s very clear and clean and super smooth. Probably too smooth since it goes down very very fast. There is a slightly toasty and sweet maltiness which I like but the hops are subtle. This is apparently what a Vienna lager should be like but personally I would have liked much more hop aroma. Unfortunately I’ve been stuck using pellet hops and I find (just a personal opinion) that you just can’t get the same hop bouquet that you get with whole hops.



The glass looks warped because it has a triangular base.

Here’s the recipe:

7 lb Vienna malt (store bought)
1 lb 10 oz Munich (homegrown)
1 lb 8oz Brumalt (homegrown)

.5 oz Hallertau 60 min
.75 Hallertau 20 min
1 oz Tettnanger 5 min
Yeast Wyeast Bohemian Pilsner
Very soft water with 1/2 tsp gypsum

Single decoction mash 140 for 30 min then 153 for 60 min pH 5.4
Pre-boil grav. 12 or 1.049. 60 min boil
Pitching temp 16 C Fermenting temp 11C for 16 days. Diacetyl rest 2 days at 20 C
Lagered three weeks
OG. 1.053 F.G. 1.0075 ABV 5.9%


It’s still there!


Going, going…

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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in The beers


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First Barley Update

It’s coming up really nice, fingers crossed. This is the stage where slugs can do a lot of damage. The re-may cloth has been protecting them so far. Sorry to sound like I’m selling the stuff but re-may is awesome! Not only does it protect your crop from all sorts of critters but it warms up the soil and gets things growing fast. I also use it on my carrots, I leave it over them all season. I could have left it on the barley for another week, it doesn’t hurt the barley, it’ll straighten out once the re-may is removed but the forcast called for nice sunny weather and I’m just too impatient.



What’s brewing: Most of last seasons malt was used for the diastatic brown malt project but I did make the special B which has ended up in a stout which sucked- the stout did, not the special B. The base malt I used was too old, bad mistake. This may have imparted the slight metallic taste to it. On top of that I forgot to treat my water ( I was using reverse osmosis water) Not my best brew day. This beer also had some dark chocolate malt that I made but didn’t write about because it was supposed to be a black patent malt. I had to cut the process short because it was getting so smokey I thought the neighbours would call the fire department. The beer was drinkable but thin and the head would disappear instantly. It was roasty but lacked maltiness and ended with the metallic flavour.


Stout with the Special B

Stout with the Special B











What’s your worst brew day? I think mine was the time I ran out of propane half way through the boil and couldn’t get any till the next day. I cooled down the wort and covered it until I got some more propane. The beer turned out ok!


Next up a Vienna lager which is still lagering right now (third week) For this beer I used the Brumalt and the munich malt. The munich was my first attempt at brumalt which didn’t reach the 50C during the last stage of germination only 25 which made it perfect for munich. The base grain is store bought Vienna which I’ve never used as a base grain so I thought I’d give it a try. Vienna is one step up (darker) than pale malt, kilned at a slightly higher temperature 105C as opposed to 95C (varies according to company) and that’s the only difference. This one is a surprisingly dark reddish brown colour.

Vienna Lager with the Brumalt and Munich malt

Vienna Lager with the Brumalt and Munich malt


Finally, since I had some Special B left I made one of my favourite styles, a Belgian Dubbel. This is based on a recipe I’ve done numerous times. I’m really looking forward to this one since everything went perfectly, fermentation began within a couple of hours.


Posted by on April 2, 2014 in Garden Updates, The beers


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Pre-industrial pale ale? tasting

DSCN9068_edited-1Well it was supposed to be a porter but… maybe next time. O.G. 1.051 F.G. 1.013  Alcohol 5.03 % Final volume 3.75 but I can’t be exact because of the spill. Efficiency according to Brew Tools is 78%. That’s the technical analysis, as far as flavour goes- Wow, this is an awesome beer, I’ve never had anything remotely similar. It’s only flaw (besides not being darker, of course) would be that it could use more hops but this is a matter of opinion as this is my wife Lori’s favourite beer. She’s not a huge beer fan, most of the time when she tries a new brew she responds with “tastes like beer” but this has such a unique flavour it took us a while to pin it down.

Clarity: Super clear but the colour is light, similar to a brown or even a pale ale. I know porters made with 100% diastatic brown malt were supposed to be lighter in colour but probably not this light. It might be more appropriate to call this a pre-industrial pale ale instead. I think it is worth some further experimentation to find out how dark I can go and how hot I can cure the malt without killing the enzymes. Perhaps I’ll make a chart that will include temperatures, kiln duration and extract potential.

Aroma: Certain smells can trigger memories and this beer had us both feeling particularly nostalgic. What came to my mind was the smell of charred cedar burnt in a campfire on a beach here on the west coast, it made me think of all the times we’ve spent camping by the ocean. What came to Lori’s mind was the smell of the Drum tobacco I used to smoke 20 years ago when we first met, (but in a good way).  I find that all smokey smells affect some primitive part of my brain, perhaps a part we share with bees who become docile when they come into contact with smoke. Or maybe they get nostalgic too.

Flavour: Some sweetness, a  low hop presence which I think is a shame because the pecan smoke flavour would go very well with a lot of hops.  I’ll try brewing a pecan smoked IPA very soon. There is a subtle nuttiness and tartness which is part of the smoke flavour and there’s a hint of toasted grains. The smoke is mellow enough, to allow the sweet and toasty flavours to come through.

This was a fun project but I’ve only scratched the surface, there will be many more attempts in the near future and I have much more research to do. Thanks to this beer I may be hooked on smoked malts. I’d like to try cherry, maple and oak as well.


Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Diastatic Brown Malt, The beers


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Historical Porter Brewday

The recipe: just 7 lbs of the diastatic brown malt, I combined both batches, Fuggle and Brewers Gold (both homegrown hops) and Wyeast London Ale III yeast. I mistakenly thought I could get away with a single step mash although this wasn’t the original plan. A protein rest would have helped for sure. Surprisingly my pH was 5.24 without any water additions. I kept my mash temp. high (156F) for sweetness since I wasn’t adding any caramel malts to this beer. Conversion took 4 1/2 hours. Original gravity was 1.051. Final volume – 3.75 gallons, but I had a disastrous spill while transferring from brew pot to carboy. I must have lost 2 pints, luckily the kids were outside and didn’t hear all the swearing. The final colour was very much like a darker brown ale.

There was quite a difference in aroma between the two batches of malt, the first being quite smoky like bacon, the second very toasty with hardly any smoke. The colour of the first batch of malt when ground was, as expected, almost white, whereas the second was reddish brown. Who knows perhaps I made what would have been called an Amber malt, but  I suspect if I had made the malt darker it may not have converted at all. If I do this again I think I would make a small batch of very dark roasted malt and combine it with a lighter version.

First batch on the left, second on the right.

First batch on the left, second on the right.


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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Diastatic Brown Malt, The beers


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