Archives for June 2013

It’s Duff O’Clock Somewhere


It’s Duff O’clock!

Fans of the Simpsons — who can’t get enough of that wonderful Duff — can now throw down a frosty mug at Moe’s Tavern, thanks to the new Springfield exhibit opening at the theme park Universal Orlando. Various incarnations of Duff Beer have existed through the years, but this is the first Duff approved by the makers of the Simpsons in the US.

Sadly, for craft beer fans, no announcement has been made for Red Tick Beer.

Bastrop Brewhouse (and Clone Recipe)


Beer and Wine Journal will post clone recipes and I thought that starting with my local brewpub would be appropriate. For one thing, the brewers — Ed Peters and Kevin Glenn — started as homebrewers and their brewhouse isn’t that different from a homebrew setup.


The back decks of the Bastrop Brewhouse overlook the Colorado River.

Bastrop, Texas is located about 30 miles southeast of Austin and the Bastrop Brewhouse opened here last fall. The brewpub overlooks the Colorado River and the municipal park that runs along the river. (And for horror movie fans, the old bridge you see spanning the river is the bridge from Texas Chainsaw Massacre II. Remember that one? With Dennis Hopper? Awesome.)

The new owner had two levels of decking installed for outside seating, plus the lower deck has a stage area for small bands to play. Larger acts can play in the small pavilion down in the beer garden. (Kinky Friedman and David Allen Coe have played there.) In the evening, you can sit on the deck and enjoy a beer as you watch the sun set on the Colorado. Not too shabby.


Bands play in this small pavilion.

The brewhouse is located in a separate building from the brewpub. Wort is produced on a 3.5-barrel (~110-gallon/410-L), 3-vessel brewhouse with a hot liquor tank, mash/lauter vessel and a kettle. The wort is cooled with a plate chiller and run off to one of three 7-barrel fermenters. The guys make two batches of wort, on two consecutive days, to fill each fermenter. The brewhouse has four 7-barrel bright tanks where the beer is force carbonated and served from.

One interesting thing about the arrangement is that the serving lines run from the bright tanks in the brewery, under the ground for about 40 yards, and into the brewpub — that’s a very long way to push beer. The maximum pressure on the bright tanks is not too much higher than normal serving pressure, so they needed to find a way to move the beer that distance and still have it be carbonated and pour correctly. The solution was very large ID serving lines wrapped in a glycol chill tubing to keep it cold.

The brewpub has 2 year-round beers, Alley B Pale Ale and St Camilla’s Honey Brown Ale, the latter of which Ed Peters gave a clone recipe for. They also have 2 taps that serve seasonal and one-off beers brewed there.



Kevin Glenn (brewer, left) and Ed Peters (head brewer, right) before their 3.5-barrel brewhouse.

Bastrop Brewhouse’s St. Camilla’s Honey Brown Ale clone


Bastrop Brewhouse

St. Camilla’s Honey Brown Ale clone

(all-grain recipe; English units)

recipe by Ed Peters



The first time Ed Peters brewed St. Camilla’s Honey Brown Ale was for the birthday of the cousin of a friend (named Camille) that he had only met once. He brought a keg of brown ale and a keg of root beer. Now, St. Camilla’s Honey Brown Ale is one of the year-round offerings at Bastrop Brewhouse. Ed describes the beer as based on a Northern English brown ale, but bigger and tweaked to match the birthday girl’s taste. The beer is smooth and chocolately, and nicely balanced with English hops.

[Read more…]

Add Base Malts to Your Extract Beers


Adding some base malt, such as this Munich malt, to your extract beer will help improve it’s aroma.

A common way to make beer using malt extract is to rely on light or pale malt extract as the base of the recipe. To add additional malt color, flavor and aroma, specialty grains are steeped. For example, the grain bill for a pale ale recipe may consist of several pounds of dried malt extract and a pound or so of crystal malt. In a recipe like this, the specialty grains supply their flavors, aromas and a small amount of carbohydrates (that add to the specific gravity of the wort).

The light malt extract base supplies most of the carbohydrates (fermentable or  otherwise) to the wort, as well as some flavor and aroma. However, given the way malt extract is processed, much of the aroma associated with the base malt is lost. (For example, Pilsner malt extract (liquid or powder) is made from Pilsner malt (a malted grain). During it’s manufacture, some of the aroma of the Pilsner malt (the grain) is lost while the extract is condensed via evaporation.) If you are formulating an extract beer, there is an easy way to add base malt aroma back to your beer — add some base malt to your steeped malts. Common base malts include 2-row pale malt, 2-row pale ale malt, Pilsner malt, Vienna malt, Munich malt, wheat malt and 6-row pale malt.

Although specialty grains add malt aroma to a beer, the aroma they add is different from the aroma of base grains. You can easily verify this by smelling a handful of 2-row pale malt vs. a handful of crystal malt.

Some extract brewers may be reluctant to add base grains to their steeping grains because they have heard that base grains need to be mashed, not just steeped. Steeping base grains at the wrong temperature or volume can lead to starch haze in your beer. While this is true, mashing is similar to steeping. If you “steep” base grains in the right temperature range and with the right amount of water, you are mashing and do not have to worry about starch haze.

[Read more…]

Welcome to Beer and Wine Journal


Chris Colby, at the Austin ZEALOTS Xmas party. (That’s Mike Simmons of the ZEALOTS with the photobomb behind him.)


Welcome to Beer and Wine Journal, a website devoted to homebrewing and home winemaking. Beer and Wine Journal will be updated everyday with original content about brewing beer and making wine, and will also feature news and commentary on beer and wine from around the web. Although today (Monday, June 24th) is our launch day, we already have a week’s worth of material posted for you to browse. In the future we will be covering hombrewing and home winemaking ingredients, recipes, equipment and procedures. So come back often and see what’s new. Likewise, if there’s something you would like to see us cover, please let us know.

James Spencer (left) and Steve Wilkes (right) are ready to pitch that yeast starter and happy that nobody can tell they aren’t wearing pants.

Beer and Wine Journal is a joint project of Chris Colby (formerly BYO/WineMaker), James Spencer (Basic Brewing Radio and Basic Brewing Video) and Steve Wilkes (Basic Brewing Radio and Basic Brewing Video).

It’s Not “Infected”


The drummer from a mediocre “punk” band might have an infection, but your beer doesn’t. If there are bacteria growing in your beer, it is contaminated.

When a beer tastes sour, phenolic or otherwise off, you frequently hear brewers describe it as being “infected.” Although we all understand what they are trying to say, a much better term to describe the beer’s condition is “contaminated.”

Infection occurs when a living organism is colonized by disease-causing organisms, such as bacteria, fungi or viruses. For example, a person suffering from a common cold is infected with a rhinovirus. Your body’s immune system is fighting off foreign invaders constantly and typically an intrusion of a foreign organism wouldn’t be termed an infection until the invader “establishes a beachhead” — survives inside you and begins reproducing. (When an organism is invaded by multi-cellular organism, such as a tapeworm or other parasite, the host is usually not described as being infected. Frequently, biologists say the host harbors the parasite.)

When beer has microorganisms in it that lead to sour, phenolic or any of the multitude of bad flavors and aromas rogue microorganisms produce, the beer is contaminated. Although beer is made with parts living organisms — carbohydrates from barley, acids and oils from hops — and fermented by yeast (a living organism), beer is not itself a living organism. The microorganisms are not infecting the beer; neither are they causing the beer to be diseased.

When non-living things harbor bacteria — for example, water — we would say that the water was contaminated by bacteria, not infected with bacteria. Some dictionaries allow for the word “infect” to be used synonymously with “contaminate,” but “contaminate”  is a word that describes the condition exactly, and should be preferred.

Whenever someone hands me a beer and says, “Is this infected?” I say, “I know it’s not infected, by definition, but let me see if it tastes contaminated.”

Judging Wine Judges


Congratulations, your wine won first place! Or it was out of medal contention. Your mom liked it, so why worry?

On Saturday, The Guardian published a story on wine judges that may shock some home winemakers. Then again, if they enter contests often, maybe it won’t. The article detailed the work of Robert Hodgson, who tracked how trained wine judges scored the same wine (poured from the same bottle) when they encountered it multiple times during a judging session. His research showed that, when wines were judged on a 50-point scale (covering the values 50-100), the typical judges score for the same wine varied as much as 8 points (plus or minus four points from the midpoint value). Some judges performed significantly better than others, but interestingly, good performance one year did not guarantee good performance the next year.

The original research was published in the Journal of Wine Economics.

Beer for Inspiration

beerlightbulb.sjpegIs beer the right beverage for every occasion? Not according to the folks at Lifehacker. In their article on beer and coffee, they claim that you should drink beer for inspiration, but coffee when you need to bring your ideas to fruition. What do you think?

Incidentally, if you’d like to learn more about what alcohol and caffeine do in your brain, see the book “Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine,” by Stephan Braun (1997, Penguin) .

Molasses Ale and Candied Bacon Pizza

Molasses? Sweet. Candied bacon? Sweeter. Combine the two with beer? Sweetest.

Steve Wilkes and I began our little adventure in molasses tastiness after I brewed a Belgian-ish beer substituting molasses for candi syrup. After an initial beer with a fairly small amount of molasses turned out very well, I upped the amount of molasses in the recipe, also adding table sugar (recipe below). I challenged Steve to pair something tasty to eat with the molasses beer, and he answered with an incredible pizza, featuring molasses-candied bacon. [Read more…]

Hey, Porter!


Porter against a backdrop of sweet corn . . . because I like sweet corn, that’s why.

We will be featuring homebrew recipes regularly on Beer and Wine Journal. Today’s homebrew recipe is for my favorite porter, which I call Colby House Porter. This is a porter I have brewed, in one form or the other, over 25 times. It is a robust porter with a hint of molasses. (If you don’t tell anyone about the molasses, they probably won’t pick it up.) The first time I brewed it, back in 1991, the recipe was a slight alteration of a bock recipe from Charlie Papazian’s book. From there I’ve tweaked and retweaked it to my liking. The dark grains and hops are nicely balanced for a delicious aroma, full-flavor and very drinkable beer. This, along with my pale ale, is one my “go-to” beers that I try to have on tap as often as possible. I have posted the recipe with several options — the original all-grain recipe (in English and metric units), plus two versions of the recipe converted for malt extract brewers, extract (English units) and extract (metric units).

If you have a recipe you’d like to submit, sent it — and the story that goes along with it — to