Blog Archive

Friday, November 27, 2015

Reeses' Peanut Butter Beer

Your peanut butter is in my beer....your beer is in my peanut butter.    

It's that time of year.  It has become a tradition each Thanksgiving to brew a beer with family for the yearly Christmas trip to Kansas.  Two years ago, I did a Peanut Butter Kolsh.   Last year a spot on PB&J (no real style).  This time....Reeses' peanut butter cup.   Of course there is the obvious equation for this beer to be a hit.  Stout + Peanut butter = Reeses'.  But that would be too easy and quite frankly, it's been played before.   So, how about a Blonde + Peanut Butter + Cocoa Nibs = Reeses'?  I guess we'll find out.

Here is the recipe.

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.49 gal
Post Boil Volume: 6.34 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal 
Bottling Volume: 5.76 gal
Estimated OG: 1.057 SG
Estimated Color: 5.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 16.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 76.3 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                                                   %/IBU       
8 lbs 4.0 oz        Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)                       67.7 %       
1 lbs 13.0 oz      White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)                             14.9 %       
12.0 oz               Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)                                 6.2 %       
12.0 oz               Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM)                                      6.2 %       
10.0 oz               Milk Sugar (Lactose) (0.0 SRM)                        5.1 %       
0.75 oz               Northern Brewer [6.90 %] - Boil 60.0 min        20.9 IBUs   
1.0 pkg               Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)           

Mash Schedule:
Name                   Step Temp  Step Time   
Protein Rest         122.0 F       30 min       
Saccharification   158.0 F       60 min       
Mash Out             168.0 F       10 min       

If you read the PB&J article from last year, I explain the reasons why I developed this recipe and why I do a protein rest on this one.  You'll also read how I do the Peanut Butter addition.  Most would simply add PB2 which is a dried Peanut Butter powder.  The reason most brewers use this is because the oil has been removed from the peanut butter and oil is bad for head retention.  But I've figured out a why to add real peanut butter and not lose the head on the beer.

I brewed this beer on Thanksgiving night from abut 9:30pm to 3:30am.  Here are the stats:

OG: 1.052
FG: 1.016
Est FG: 1.015
ABV: 4.7
Est ABV: 4.9%
IBU: 21

Once I do the peanut butter addition, I'll take more pictures and add them to this article.


I used 2.5 lbs of peanut butter.  I'm guessing others will work but I've only ever used Jif.  I'm comfortable with the flavor and I know how much of an oil slick will be on the top of the beer after 7 days.

I laid down the cheese cloth after washing and spraying the counter with a star san solution.  After laying down the cheese cloth, I sprayed the cheese cloth with the same solution.  Make sure it's completely saturated.

I then spread the peanut butter out as evenly as possible.  This is the hardest part.
After spreading, you roll the logs.  Because of the moisture level, you shouldn't have a problem getting the peanut butter to roll by lifting up on side at each end.  Once rolled, sanitize waxed (un flavored, un scented) dental floss by soaking it in sanitizing solution and then tie at even increments as seen in the pic.

Finally, tie a long piece of floss at each end on each log.  You can leave this hanging out of the top of the fermenter.  This will make retrieval easier once the "dry PB'ing" is done.


In this pic, I'm showing how I drained the Cocoa Nibs.  I soaked them (4oz) for about 2 weeks in a small canning jar with vodka (use good vodka or you will end up tainting your beer with a harsh alcohol).
When racking into the keg or bottling bucket, make sure to keep the tip of the racking cane beneath the oil slick on the top of the beer.  You can continue to rack until you're just about to the point where the oil slick is getting ready to go into the cane.  As you can see in this pick, the oil slick coats the side of the fermenter.  This is what you want becuase that means there is less on the top of the beer allowing you to get more into your keg.  What ever you do, don't rack the oil because that will totally kill the beers head retention.
Just another pic of the oil slick on the side of the fermenter.  PBW will get that off just fine.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Amarillo Nights - "Not so Pale Ale"

Who doesn't like a good session-able Pale Ale?  It's an easy go to beer for those who like hops.  Most Pale recipes will call for up to 20 crystal malt.  When I first started brewing, I used a lot of Crystal 60.   Who didn't back in the day (two years ago).  Lately however, I have not been a fan of Crystal Malts opting to brew IPA's and most others without any crystal at all.  Instead, I've been experimenting with other steeping grains and one of my favorites is Special B.

I love the dark fruit raisiny flavors you can get out of Special B.  At the same time I was playing with other grains, I was also looking to develop a good low alcohol go to beer.  That's when I came up with the idea to do what I first called a Dark Pale Ale (Yes, I do understand the Irony).  I'm making this beer pretty much the same way I would have a Pale Ale only I'm eliminating the Crystal malt and adding Special B.

I'm now leaning more toward calling it a Brown Pale Ale to be somewhat consistent with the new BJCP style guides that were just released where they introduced a Brown IPA category.  While Brown Pale doesn't really exist, I'm hoping it does at some point because I really, really like this beer.   Either way, I really, really like this beer and will continue to have it take one of my taps until I grow tired of drinking it.

I've now brewed this beer three times.  The first time was simple...take a Pale Ale recipe and substitute Special B for Crystal.  After finishing that keg, I wanted to do it again but I thought it might be good if I added some Rye Malt to the mix.  To be honest, I don't know if just formulated wrong on the amounts of Rye vs. Special B or not because I just didn't like it so I went back to the original recipe and did one more substitution to see if I like it.   Good news is I have the original recipe ready if I don't like this newest version.    That said, it seems to be a good recipe to use as a base for a little experimentation. I've provided all three recipes below so please feel free to comment on #2 and #3 if  you have suggestions.  Especially take a look at #2 because I really didn't like this version and I typically love Rye IPA's so I'm guessing I either did something wrong in formulation or process.

Amarillo Nights - "Pale Ale" #1

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Size: 6.46 gal
Boil Time: 60 min
End of Boil Vol: 5.46 gal
Final Bottling Vol: 4.84 gal
Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.6 %

Name Type # %/IBU
8 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 88.9 %
1 lbs Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 2 11.1 %
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.80 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 3 41.3 IBUs
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold [8.80 %] - Boil 20.0 min Hop 4 6.9 IBUs
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold [8.80 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 5 3.4 IBUs
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold [8.80 %] - Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 min Hop 6 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg WLP090 (San Diego Super Yeast) Yeast 7 -

Gravity, Alcohol Content and Color
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.6 %
Bitterness: 51.7 IBUs
Est Color: 17.9 SRM
Measured Original Gravity: 1.043 SG
Measured Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 4.3 %
Calories: 141.5 kcal/12oz

Single Infusion @ 156.0/60Mins

Amarillo Nights - "Pale Ale" #2 (With Rye Malt)

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Size: 6.46 gal
Boil Time: 60 min
End of Boil Vol: 5.46 gal
Final Bottling Vol: 4.84 gal
Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.6 %


Amt Name Type # %/IBU
6 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 65.0 %
2 lbs 8.0 oz Rye Malt (4.7 SRM) Grain 2 25.0 %
1 lbs Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 3 10.0 %
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.80 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 4 41.3 IBUs
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold [8.80 %] - Boil 20.0 min Hop 5 6.9 IBUs
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold [8.80 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 6 3.4 IBUs
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold [8.80 %] - Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 min Hop 7 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg WLP090 (San Diego Super Yeast) Yeast 8 -

Gravity, Alcohol Content and Color
Bitterness: 51.7 IBUs
Est Color: 18.4 SRM
Measured Original Gravity: 1.043 SG
Measured Final Gravity: 1.007 SG
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 4.7 %

Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, 156/60Mins

Amarillo Nights - "Pale Ale" #3

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 11.00 gal
Boil Size: 13.54 gal
Boil Time: 120 min
End of Boil Vol: 11.54 gal
Final Bottling Vol: 10.50 gal
Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.7 %

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
18 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 90.0 %
2 lbs Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 2 10.0 %
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] - First Wort 60.0 min Hop 3 20.7 IBUs
4.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.80 %] - Steep/Whirlpool 20.0 min Hop 4 19.9 IBUs
2.0 pkg WLP090 (San Diego Super Yeast) Yeast 5 -
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 6 0.0 IBUs

Gravity, Alcohol Content and Color
Est Original Gravity: 1.049 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.009 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.2 %
Bitterness: 40.7 IBUs
Est Color: 17.3 SRM
Measured Original Gravity: 1.048 SG
Measured Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.0 %
Calories: 158.4 kcal/12oz

Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion 152/60Mins (Wanted Medium body mash because I'm upped the Alcohol a bit and wasn't as concerned about compensating for under 5%)

NOTE: This batch is still fermenting.  It was brewed on 7/28/2015.  I will provide notes on it's tasting once it's legged up and ready to sample.

Tasting Notes: 
#1: This so far is my favorite.  Very easy to drink.  It was brewed to be a full bodied beer mainly because I was trying to keep it as a session beer and wan't expecting much body to come from the grain bill itself.   As it turned out, it was perceived as a medium bodied beer which is where I like my Pale Ales to be.   Very nice aroma.  Definitely picked up the darker notes from the Special B.  Little dark fruit and some nice raisin.  Amarillo came through quite nicely as well due to the dry hop addition.

#2:  This so far is my least favorite.  I'm still trying to power this one down.  It's not a down the drain beer but it's not what I was shooting for.  At this point, I'm thinking it was either too much Rye malt as 25% is very high or the Rye and Special B don't play off each other very nicely.  I'm pretty confident it was just too much Rye.  That said, what I didn't like about it was that it had a very astringent bite to it.  The flavor itself isn't bad but the astringency was hard to handle.  Especially at first.  Now that it's about 5 months old, it's smoothed out quite a bit and is much easier to drink but I'm looking for a quick beer that I can brew all the time and have on hand.  This recipe is not it.  I may try Rye again in the future but I'll do it at a much lower percentage and in a small batch since I'm now doing 10 gallons of this stuff at a time.

#3: TBD


  • Friday July 3 - Gravity reading 1.006.  Dry Hopped with 4 oz. of Amarillo hops. 
  • Friday July 17 - gravity reading 1.004 (nice and dry). Kegged after cold crashing to 40 degrees.  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Black Currant, Black Cherry, Cranberry, Blueberry Mead

My family has a tradition during spring break that we started about 3 years ago.   Each year, I attend SXSW here in Austin which occurs the same week as spring break.  The good news is I go to the Interactive conference and it's over on Tuesday.  The bad news is, that only leaves three days to "break" with the kids and wife.   So a few years back we decided to let everyone pick an event in the area that they would like the family to do.  We've gone to the zoo, museums, beaches etc.  This year, my wife decided to go to Round Rock Honey and do a "tour".  Their tour is really a short 1 hour class on how honey is made and how it's bottled.  They also have a deeper dive set of classes they offer for beekeeping called Beekeeping School.

This honey is very local to my area because they have hives located all over austin including right down the street from my house.  So, given I'm a home brewer, one thing leads to another and I'm walking out with 12lbs of honey and plan to make a mead.

After having Moonlight Meadery's Desire, I decided to use that mead as my inspiration.   Here is the recipe:

12 lbs | Wildflower Honey
3 qt. | Black Currant Juice
3 qt. | Black Cherry Juice
2 qt. | Cranberry/Blueberry
1.25 Gallons water
1 tsp | Fermaid-K
2 tsp | GoFerm
1 pas | Lalvin Narbonne Yeast (71B-1122)

This makes about 4 gallons at a starting gravity of 1.120.  The must tasted absolutely wonderful so I have high hopes for this.

I'm doing a staggered nutrient schedule where I'll be adding 3/4 tsp of the GoFerm/Fermain-K mix hydrated every 24 hours for the first three days and the same during pitch & after 30% of the sugar has been depleted.  That schedule ultimately looks like this:

3/4 tsp of the blend immediately after pitching the yeast
3/4 tsp of the blend 24 hours after fermentation begins
3/4 tsp of the blend 48 hours after fermentation begins
3/4 tsp of the blend after 30% of the sugar has been depleted

3/31/2915 - took a gravity reading and it is now at 1.084 which is good timing if not a little late for the last nutrient addition.  I'm going to go ahead and add the final nutrients just to make sure the yeast is a s healthy as possible so it can keep chugging along as necessary. This is going to be about 14-15 percent ABV so the yeast will need all the help they can get.

Update 4/19/2015: Took a gravity reading and its sitting at 1.018.  I'll take another in three weeks or so. 

Alcohol by Volume: 13.7 %
Alcohol by Weight: 10.7 %
Original Extract (OE): 27.8 °P
Apparent Extract (AE): 4.6 °P
Real Extract (RE): 8.8 °P
Apparent Attenuation: 83.5 %
Calories per 12 oz: 428.5 kcal

Update 5/11/2015: Took a gravity reading and its sitting at 1.016.  Ready to bottle.  Final ABV: 

Alcohol by Volume: 14.0 %
Alcohol by Weight: 11.0 %
Original Extract (OE): 27.8 °P
Apparent Extract (AE): 4.1 °P
Real Extract (RE): 8.4 °P
Apparent Attenuation: 85.3 %
Calories per 12 oz: 427.6 kcal

Monday, February 16, 2015

NXNW Duckabish - Amber: 2/16/2015

We all have that place we go for a go-to beer or two.  Mine is NXNW Restaurant & Brewery.  There are two locations in Austin Texas.  The original is up north and their newest location is out in south Austin where I live.  Surprisingly, I go to the North location much more than I do the south.   While my favorite beer is the Okanogan Black, most of my friends enjoy Duckabish.  I would call this an English Amber.  It's pretty light at 5%, very malt forward with a hint of that English yeast flavor and one of my favorite hops for English styles, UK East Kent Goldings.

I've been thinking about doing this recipe for quite some time just to share with friends and it makes for a nice go-to beer at the house when I'm looking for something a little easier on the night.   After an intense day at work, I decided to pull the trigger on on 11 gallon run.

I already had a head start on the recipe after asking my homebrew club (The Austin Zealots) for the recipe.  Seems we have a few members that are "friends of the brewery" in some way or another.  This is what I received in the way of guidance? 

86% pils malt
13.5% cara 20
.5% choc
Single step mash at 153° F
Hops: UK Golding for 75 min for 17 IBU
Yeast: English Ale
This is one of the few beers we filter, but with some extra conditioning it can go without.
Carbonate to 2.5 - 2.6  vol co2

After a few trips to the brewery for tastings, I translated this to the following recipe in  beersmith:

Recipe: Duckabish - Clone
Brewer: Brian Stevenson
Asst Brewer: 
Style: American Amber Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0) 

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 13.27 gal
Post Boil Volume: 11.54 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 11.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 10.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.050 SG
Estimated Color: 8.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 17.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.7 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                                          Type          #        %/IBU         
17 lbs 8.0 oz     Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)                  Grain         1        85.9 %        
2 lbs 12.0 oz     Caravienne Malt (22.0 SRM)                     Grain         2        13.5 %        
2.0 oz                Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)                     Grain         3        0.6 %         
1.53 oz              Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Boil 75.0  Hop           4        17.0 IBUs     
1.0 pkg              Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007) Yeast         5        -             

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out
75 mins @ 150.0 F

Total Grain Weight: 20 lbs 6.0 oz

The only difference between my actual brew day and the recipe above is that I couldn't find anyone with Belgian Pilsner so I was forced to use German.  I don't see a lot of difference between the two taste wise.  The only concern I had was DMS but I figured a 90 minute boil would eliminate most of that possibility in either.

Overall the brew day went pretty good.  I hit my OG right on the money at 1.050.  I did a double batch for this brew day which included a 5 gallon IPA that I call "Last Minute IPA" because I decided two days before to create my first IPA recipe from scratch.  I'll blog about that process as well shortly.

I'm going to be doing some firsts on this fermentation.  First time using the Sabco 15 gallon fermenter (pictured below) and the first time using my new (old) deep freeze as a fermentation chamber.  Should be fun getting the fermenter in and out but that's why I have a 230 lb, 6 ft tall 14 year old.  Well, not the only reason but he does come in handy on a brew day.   I'm going to be working on a hoist system at a later date and will probably have to put a collar on the freezer to fit more than 10 gallons at a time but I'm in no hurry to do that because I don't often brew more than 15 gallons on a given day.  10 in the deep freeze and 5 in a converted dorm fridge I've used for 5/6 gallon batches for ever.  

Below are some pictures and descriptions of the brew day.

I'll be updating this post as the beer ferments and as I taste the final product.  

Beer Name: NXNW Duckabish - Clone
Style: English Amber
Date Brewed: 2/16/2015
Batch Size: 11 Gallons
Recipe:  See above from BeerSmith
OG: 1.050
Tasting Notes: TBD
Mashed for about 15 minutes over schedule.  Just because I was preoccupied during the brew day.  I was also planning on doing two batches today so I had to play around with my system a bit to be able to do that.
Run off took about 50 minutes.  I used my second pump for the first time.  I am still having trouble getting my pumps to run slow enough that I don't have to watch them but fast enough they don't just stop for no reason.  That happened a couple times during my sparge.  I had to run off a little faster that I'd like at time just to keep the pump going.  All in all everything went OK in terms of the sparge and run off. 
Filled the boil kettle almost to the top.  Not a lot of room for the hot break which made me a little nervous but I was able to contain the boil and didn't have any boil overs.   I kept a spray bottle right next to the kettle just in case. 
About 13.25 gallons pre-boil volume.  
These were the hops of the day.  I was double batching it today so most of these were for an IPA I'm making.  We'll see how that turns out but the hop schedule for this amber was super easy.  A single addition at 75 minutes on a 90 minute boil.   
75 minutes in to the 90 minute boil and the first and only hop addition was added.  I do love the smell of most hops but Goldings have that Old school aroma.  Love it.

FYI: I did a 90 minute boil to eliminate or at least reduce the possibility of DMS since I was using Pilner malt.  
Had a snap a couple photos of the steam coming out of the kettle.  Was an unusually cold day in Austin.  Don't get to see this view much.  
Just another angle on the steam kettle. 
Target OG 1.050.  Measured OG 1.050.  That's always a great brew day when you're calculations are right.  Means I'm getting used to the system....or I'm really lucky. 
Out of the kettle, through the Therminator and into the Sabco 15 gallon fermenter.  As I said earlier, it was unusually cold in Austin so I had to play with the water flow to get to the right temp.  If I had ran what I started at, I was going to end up around 55 F.  That's way cold for Austin water.   I was able to play enough to get the final right at 72 F.  

UPDATE 3/1/2015:  kegged the batch today.  Fermentation went without a hitch really.  The final gravity was 1.010.  This make the beer clock in at 5.2% ABV.  Just a tad bit higher than I had intended but not much and not anything that will be noticiable.  

Friday, January 9, 2015

Austin's Top 100 Bars - According to @craftaustin

So I happened upon a tweet from @craftaustin where he provided a link to his list of the Top 100 bars in Austin.  In his blog he noted said "And did you really think I was going to include a link for each entry?"  So I thought it might be a good idea to at least collect twitter accounts for each of these so I can keep tabs on what craft beers are being released and where.  Most all of the links below are for their twitter accounts and in most cases their web address is listed on their profile. There were a couple I couldn't find twitter accounts for so I just did their web sites.

If you see a need for any corrections, just leave a comment and I'll make them.  



HEB Mueller
Glass Half Full Taproom (Alamo Drafthouse - Lakeline)
Brew Exchange