Craft Beer

Pale Ale Brewday

Posted in Craft Beer, on 8 June 2016, by , 1 Comments

Where We’re At – Feeling Pale

As you probably know by now, when we’re Pilot Batching, it means we’re probably going insane for one reason or another, today the end result is a Pale Ale.  Lately that means holdups that are out of our control: Permits, and Loans.  One of the standard sayings in starting a brewery is that budget double any expense you plan, and plan for three times as long as any schedule you expect, well we’re about there.

  1. Our Federal Permit (TTB) is in the final stage awaiting final approval from the final inspector so we can have our Final Final Final, err our Permit.
  2. Our State Permit is in limbo, each of our investors were fingerprinted a month ago, and at this point we’re just awaiting guidance for what round of forms we need to plow through next.  I think its safe to say New Jersey is very thorough when it comes to their background checks and approvals.
  3. Lakewood has been phenomenal to us, with plenty of places and helpful figures trying to find ways to help and potential places to have us on tap including the Historical Theater “The Strand” as well as at our local Minor League Baseball Stadium First Energy Park home of the Lakewood Blue Claws.
  4. Money: Well if you have ever bought a house and thought that closing process was difficult, I would not suggest applying for a SBA loan, we are now 6 months into our Loan Closing, it gets awfully difficult to finish purchasing equipment and pay for all the nice things we need.  But we should be close which means a lot of movement soon.

While running a brewery might be 75% Janitorial Work, 20% Administrative, and 5% Brewing, starting a brewery is more 75% Acting like a Lawyer, 20% Being a banker, 4% Drinking the sorrows of bureaucracy, and 1% Brewing (Today).

The Brewday

Galena Pale Ale – The Idea

Now that the weather is getting nicer out there is nothing we love drinking more than a Fresh Hopped Pale Ale, so naturally we decided to brew a Fresh Hopped Pale Ale.  Personally I like my Pale Ales relatively simple, probably a result of studying in England, with the delightful simplicity English Pale Ales and Bitters have to offer.  English Pale Ales and Bitters tend to be slightly lower in alcohol, maxing at around a 5%, we were aiming for more of a hybrid, with and English style malt bill but American strength, American hops, and American yeast, the best of both worlds.

Malt Bill

So based on this I created my malt bill with a strong base of English Maris Otter (71%) which gives more character, nuttiness, and biscuit flavors than a standard American two-row malt, and Munich (18%) which provides a maltiness and a slightly amber color to be rounded out by Carapils (7%) for body and foam retention and Caramunich (4%) for a slight caramel hint.  The goal was to hit 5% ABV with very little residual sweetness and achieve that perfect Pale Ale color: darker than straw but lighter than amber.

Galena Pale Ale Malt Bill

Finishing the Pale Ale Sparge, you can see just how Pale the malt bill is

Hopping the Pale Ale

The main thing we were trying to highlight in this beer was the Fresh Hops.  We were gifted a batch of last years crop of Galena which was both dried and frozen whole cone to be preserved.  Fresh hops while harder to work with thanks to their bulk, absorption, and havoc they play on pumps are absolutely delicious when used properly.  As they are less processed than pelletized hops they have more preserved Hop Oils which make for a beautiful but delicate aroma.  The main descriptors for Galena are “Citrus, Spicy, Fruity” but I’d describe it most similarly to a Pineapple mixed with Blackcurrants, not sure my description is any easier to imagine.  I paired this with Azacca, a new hop to me which packs an intense mango/papaya aroma and flavor with it.  Rather than go with the standard American west-coast American style of hopping this to the point of puckering, I went with 45 IBUs which while relatively bitter can still be balanced by the malt profile and instead used a lot of the hops on the back-end for additional aroma.

Fresh Galena Hops

Whole Cone Galena Hops

Whats Next: Fermentation and Dry Hops

To compliment the Malt Bill and Hops we went with American Ale II for the yeast which while clean produces some nutty and fruity esters reminiscent of an Irish Ale Yeast without the intense dryness.  We went toward the upper range of he suggested Fermentation temperature scale, at about 69°F for a week.  At the end of the week we dropped the temperature slightly to 60°F to drop some yeast before we could begin the dry hop.  After dropping the initial yeast we added in additional whole cone Galena and pelletized Azacca for an additional 3 days before final cold crashing.  While it is sitting in Corny kegs carbing at the moment, the smell going into the kegs was absolutely insane, just blasts of Pineapple and Roses, extremely excited to try this when it is ready.


Post Pale Ale – What’s Truly Next:

Hopefully our next update has a lot more happy statements about how thrilled we are to be finished with our State/Federal permits and our bank account is looking a little nicer with this loan finally closed.  As soon as the loan closes we can pay our Contractor to build out our Tasting Room and additional bathroom as well as have our wiring and plumbing run for our Brewhouse.  We’re close, real close.  Beer Soon.


Beers on Deck to be Brewed:

Galena Pale Ale
Smoked Pilsner

Ginger-Grapefruit Witbeer

Chipotle Porter

Currently Fermenting:

Sweet Potato Pale

Currently in Barrels:

Imperial Coffee Rye Porter


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Icarus Glamour Shot

Posted in Craft Beer, on 25 May 2016, by , 0 Comments

Its been a mixed bag of hurry up and wait lately, with days where we have dozens of pages of documents to fill out and get back immediately or back to back meetings about our construction, followed by days where we can just stand around and dream about being able to brew.  Luckily the standing around looks like its finally coming to an end with all four phases of our final run toward opening finally coming over: Closing our Small Business Association loan, Construction, Building the Brewery, and Brewing Licenses.

Local Updates – Building the Brewery

With the exception of having our Lakewood Building Permit rejected we’re moving along splendidly with construction.  No need to panic on the rejection though, as far as we can tell that was mainly from technicalities and the differences between our Engineer/Architect completing their drawings based on how things would be in Toms River (where they are based out of), but of course we’re opening in Lakewood which has its own sets of rules which they’ve been nice enough to flex a bit to help us move toward opening.  As soon as these Building Permits are finally approved we should be ready to start construction of our Tasting Room, putting together our cold room, and getting all the utilities in place to run the Brewhouse.  It’ll be nice to finally have permanent structures built in our space.  Fortunately, things have changed quite a bit around the space since  our First Construction Update.

Forgeworks Brewhouse Unboxing

Brewhouse all laid out, going to be awfully difficult to brew in wood

Forgeworks Brewery glamour shot

Brewhouse Properly laid out, just needs plumbing, electric, gas, a stand, and then maybe thats it

State & Federal Updates: Legalize Beer

According to our Federal Limited Brewery License Specialist/Investigator we are close!  Should be a week at most out at this point as everything has been tentatively approved.  As huge as this is, it still does not mean THAT much until we can get our New Jersey license approvals.  We recently had every single Owner and Investor fingerprinted by the State for background checks as part of their pre-approval process.  Our next step is to provide even more financial documents backing us up then we’ve already provided (Check out our Permit Blog Post if you want to understand what 70 pages of applications gets you).  Hopefully these next forms we fill out and documentation we provides is a glimpse of the finish line because we’re getting awfully thirsty around here.

Beer: What makes us a Brewery

To keep myself sane: I brew.  To keep myself sane during the process of dealing with countless Bureaucrats: I Brew a LOT.   Legal Note: Pilot homebrews.  Oh, and as a legal note I love every bureaucrat equally, hugs and kisses.


Beer on Deck to be Brewed

Chipotle Porter

Smoked Pilsner

Grapefruit Witbeer

Currently in Fermentation

Sweet Potato Pale Ale

Currently on Tap

American-Irish Red Ale

Fresh Hopped Galena American Pale Ale

Galena Hopped American Pale Ale

Homegrown hops for Fresh Hopped Galena American Pale Ale








Amarillo/Cascade English IPA

Currently in Barrels

Imperial Coffee-Rye Porter


Now lets just get this Brewery legalized so I can share this beer with all of you.


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Posted in Craft Beer, on 9 May 2016, by , 0 Comments

What is the Craft Brewers Conference?

The Craft Brewers Conference is an annual event for professional brewers held at various locations around the United States and thrown by the Brewers Association.  With over 10,000 attendees annually the conference facilitates a place for brewers like me to discuss brewing education, and idea sharing on how to improve our quality and diversify our offerings.  Each day consists of both Seminars as well as a BrewExpo where we can meet with Hop suppliers from all over the globe, as well as brewery manufacturers, malt suppliers, and quality control specialists.  Whether you’re the assistant brewer for a super local brewpub out of Minnesota, Sam Calagione the founder of Dogfish Head Brewing, or just some brand new 10 BBL Brewery out of Lakewood, we all come together to find a way to improve the experience we give to each and every beer drinker.

The Classes – What I learned

For each Class Time there were 10 Class options offered in the categories of: Brewery Operations, Brewpubs, Government Affairs, Quality, Packaging Breweries, Safety, Selling Craft Beer, Start-Ups, Sustainability, Technical Brewing, and Export Development (Not sure exporting to Norway or Sweden are on my short term plans, sorry guys).  Unfortunately I can only be in one place at a time, which meant I need to keep focuses on both my job as a Brewer as well as a new Small Business Owner, and learn both the things that are interesting to me as well as the nitty gritty of management.

Sour Seminar at Craft Brewers Conference

The amount of Beards and Flannel in the audience is astonishing

First Class –  Marketing 101 for the Start-Up Brewery

Apparently my Business Minor in college does not make me a Marketing manager, guess I will not be trading in my Dickies and steel toed boots for a tailored suit and polished shoes anytime soon.  Some of the steps they suggested to improve my Marketing are to

  1. Know My Market – Well if you’re reading this, you’re probably my market, and could use a beer by now.
  2. Press Releases – Rumors of Print Medias demise have been greatly exagerated.
  3. Media Advisories- Mailers, or how to send mail to your garbage cans and Email to your spam box.
  4. Statistics- 73.9% of all Statistics are made up on the spot, but apparently numbers sell.
  5. Change the Voice on our Social Media from time to time- I would be tired of hearing my voice as well.

Second Class – Training Successful Sales Reps

Notice a theme here?  Taught by the Head of Sales for Firestone Walker, so at least when I become one of the 25 Largest breweries in the Country I’ll have phenomenal advice to go off of.

Third Class – Brewing Quality on a Budget: How to Use a Little to Do a Lot

So this is why I became a brewer, finally.  While some of the things learned here were rehashes of years of brewing there is always a few tips that are very helpful

  1. Force Diacetyl Test-  I have always done a diacetyl rise to make sure the ketones that cause the unpleasant buttery flavors and aromas are out of the beer are gone, but never truly tested further than taste to be sure.  The suggestion was to take a sample at the end of fermentation, shake, and then heat to force the diacetyl out to be sure the diacetyl is out of the beer
  2. Graph everything, especially Terminal Gravities-  If you find yourself re-brewing the same batch over and over its nice to understand why certain trends happen such as a raised terminal gravity which would result in a sweeter but lower alcohol beer.  With enough data you could then see if the change is because of different brewers, seasonable malt changes, process changes, or just random variation.
  3. Set up a Lab-  While we already plan on having a basic yeast lab, all it takes is a Alcohol Lamp for sterilization of an area, a pressure cooker since none of us can afford an autoclave, membrane filter using a faucet aspirator pump, and growth media and you have a sufficenctly sophisticated lab to pair with your microscope, and gram stain apparatus.

Fourth Class – The Science, Art, and Mystery of Sour Beer Production

This was by far the most popular class of the Conference, everyone loves sours, but no one truly understands them.  This class was taught by both the Director of Quality for Avery Brewing as well as the Microbiology Lab Manager for New Belgium Brewing, the amount of knowledge on the subject they had to offer was nearly endless.  If you fear Microbiology and Organic Chemistry, you should probably avoid this subject.

  1. Heterolactic vs Homolactic souring – Heterolactic has to create CO2 and Ethanol as well as Lactic Acid, Homolactic just creates lactic acid and a lot of it.
  2. Lactobacillus – Produces a softer lactic flavor, does not ferment maltotriose, very low alcohol and CO2 produced
  3. Pediococcus – Slower than lacto, much more harsh lactic flavor, cannot digest diacetyl, very temperature sensitive
  4. Brettanomyces – Breaks down dextrins, can be helpful when paired with pediococcus, can create some super interesting aromas like Ethyl Lactate (Pineapple aroma)
  5. Still a changing field with constant new experimentation to create some truly delicious and/or atrocious beer.

Just as there was no way to fully understand everything about sours in one hour seminar, there is no way to learn everything about sours in this blog, so I’d strongly suggest looking into Amazon – American Sours.

New Belgium Foudres

Currently on our Christmas List – Oak Foudres for Sours and Saisons

Fifth Class – Sustainable Design and Build Strategies for Craft Breweries

Well we’re not dumping radioactive waste into the drinking water, so that’s a strong start for an Ocean County industry.  We’re definitely looking into a lot of what we learned in this class to help be a little bit more environmentally conscious as well as the long term cost savings in being more efficient.  Plus, who wouldn’t want to wash their hands in the toilet?

Washing your hands in the toilet

Efficient yet scary, a perfect match

Sixth Class – Crafting Your Brand

Apparently I walked into a Brewpub branding class, okay I dropped the ball on this one.

Seventh Class – Top 10 Legal Tips for Start-Up Breweries

Apparently my Google Lawyer skills have led me mostly straight.  Key things I learned here were:

  1. Trademark everything you want to keep
  2. Lawyers will empty your bank accounts real fast
  3. Regulatory agencies are no joke
  4. Don’t be in need of 10 Legal Tips as a Start-Up Brewery

The Expo – Like a Brewer in a candy shop

Everyone has their “If I win the lottery I’m buying…” well, I’ll be at the Expo in the Craft Brewers conference buying every possible brewing “toy” imaginable.  Whether it be a super accurate flowmeter, oak barrels, Foudres, niche hops, or brew gear, I want it.  While we are currently relatively broke until we can start brewing and selling beer, we can always dream.  For now we made a few contacts with hop growers so we can end up on the lists early as new experimental hops are released, including testing out a batch of Idaho 007 from Hollingbery and Son Hops.  We also were finally able to meet our reps at Forgeworks, Premier Stainless, and Pro Refrigeration who have to deal with me on a mostly daily basis.

Forgeworks Expo at Craft Brewers Conference

Finally met the guys from Forgeworks who made our Brewhouse


Looking to the Future

Its a bright future for Craft Brewers, especially ones opening 10 BBL Breweries in Lakewood, NJ.  Based on what we’ve been told in the last few weeks we should be in the home stretch with our federal Tax and Trade Bureau limited brewery license, which hopefully means we are finalizing our New Jersey equivalent in the near future as well.  We are finalizing everything with Lakewood Township so we can start building our Tasting Room and have everything piped in as well.  Beer Soon?


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Posted in Craft Beer, on 5 April 2016, by , 0 Comments

If it tastes so good, it must be terrible for you, right?

We’ve all read countless articles about how beer is good for your health.  In moderation, beer has shown to help lower the risk of heart disease, lower the risk of Type-2 diabetes, and helps to prevent kidney stones.  But don’t worry FDA, I’m not here to claim any of these things, I’ll leave that to the scientists who unlike me decided not to abandon the world of Food Research in favor of brewing oh so tasty beer.  Since the dawn of time, Beer has been considered the bread of the people.  Both safer than the average water source as it was both boiled during the brewing process as well as containing alcohol and hops for shelf life, as well as healthier as beer contains significant amounts of protein, fiber, selenium, B vitamins, phosphorus, folate, niacin, and silicon.  But if you wanted bread, you could just go to the bakery, so instead for your physical benefit, and our mental and eventual monetary benefit, we decided to work on perfecting a new IPA recipe.

IPA Brewday

What could be more healthy than morning Oatmeal?  Well that’s where we started with this recipe, making almost 20% of the grain bill Flaked Oats to give a full mouth feel for this 7% ABV sipping beer.  The base malt was mostly pilsen, keeping things simple we then went with a little Munich and CaraMunich for a hint of malty sweetness as well as a light amber color.

Oatmeal makes the Oatmeal IPA


While the malt is always important to every beer, it is definitely not the highlight of the day, which should be spotlighted on the hop profile.  We went in to this wanting something bitter, but not so bitter that you’re stuck with the bitter-beer face the rest of your life.  We settled on 80 IBU, which is definitely up there but can be crafted to taste deceptively lower when balanced properly with the malt.  Rather than just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what would stick, we went with one hop profile: Spicy citrus.  We First Wort hopped with Chinook to really get the spicy out of the way early and the mass of the bitterness.  Both our late hops and dry hops are balanced with Cascade and Amarillo, aiming for that in your face citrus and orange flavor and aroma.

Amarillo and Cascade IPA Late hops

Amarillo and Cascade, 25% of the total boil additions


One of the oft forgotten facets of brewing that people tend to overlook is the brewing water.  There are scientific journals, books, and textbooks dedicated just to the subject of brewing water, and for very good reason, water is 90%+ of the beer, its going to impact everything along the brewing process.  The key difference for the “water salts” in this IPA as compared to say one of our Stouts is the much higher ratio of Sulfates added compared to the Chlorides in the water.  While chlorides accentuate the malt flavors, sulfates add a dryness and accentuate the hops and bitterness they provide.  We went with a 3:1 ratio of sulfates to chlorides, just enough to really accentuate the hops without imparting a sulfur flavor of its own.

Whats Next?

The IPA is currently in the Fermenter rocketing away, one huge CO2 bubble at a time.  After the Fermentation settles down slightly we will dry hop it with an additional 3 ounces each of Cascade and Amarillo, a real juicy citrus hop punch.  While the IPA is fermenting we are currently doing our Yeast drops on the Irish American Red Ale, which should be ready to move into kegs and tested in a few days.

Beers on Deck to be Brewed:

Oatmeal American-IPA
Smoked Pilsner

Ginger-Grapefruit Witbeer

Chipotle Porter

Currently Fermenting:

Oatmeal American IPA

Currently finishing Fermenation:

Irish-American Red Ale

Currently in Barrels:

Imperial Coffee-Rye Porter


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Lakewood Porter

Posted in Craft Beer, on 4 March 2016, by , 0 Comments

Porter: Certainly, but why?

Wooosah, no don’t worry I’m counting down from 10, woosah.  Sorry about that but sometimes these Federal Brewers Bond Applications and State Tax Applications require a quick moment of zen paired with something strong, possibly whiskey, possibly beer, also known as our inspiration for our Imperial Coffee Rye Porter which clocks in at 10% ABV.  While we were definitely aiming for 11% ABV originally, a combination of coming in just under gravity and barely missing our attenuation goal left us at 10% with a hint more sweetness which will help balance all the rich flavors from the coffee malt as well as the spice of the rye malt.  A recurring theme with our brews is rather than settle with a very good beer, we decided to kick it up the next notch, this time with barrel aging.


The Barrel

The barrels we selected for this project are once used Medium Toast American Oak Barrels made by Kelvin Cooperage aged with Catskill Distilling Buckwheat Whiskey.  Seeing how special and unique this beer is to us, it only made sense to use barrels that are equally special which have been used for a unique Whiskey made with 80% Buckwheat and 20% “small grains”.  From our tasting of the whiskey we pulled  some notes of vanilla, grain, and plenty of smoke, all flavors we would like to see in the Porter.

Oak Barrel

Kelvin Cooperage Medium Toast American Oak Barrel

The Process: Barreling

These Barrels were recently dumped of their whiskey, which is advantageous in two ways: rehydrating the barrel to swell the wood is much easier as the wood is still moist, and the whiskey notes should follow through to the beer added.  We filled each barrel with 180°F water, then rolled the barrels on their sides constantly looking for any leaks.  Luckily there were no leaks to be found.  After leaving the hot water in the Barrels for a few minutes we dumped the water from barrel to barrel to conserve on the amount of water wasted.  If Smell-O-Vision was a thing I would plug each and every one of you into the intense aromas coming out of the barrels after we poured out the water: Caramel, Smoke, and Vanilla, heavenly.

Hydrating Oak Barrels


Once we had our barrels hydrated and clean we were ready to transfer over the Porter, which had already been fully fermented and cold crashed.  We pumped it in as slowly as possible to reduce any risk of splashing and oxidation which could negatively effect the beer over time.  As soon as we saw a full 25 Gallons in the barrel, on went an airlock to make sure our little Porter could enjoy a safe and sterile environment over the next few months of its aging.  The plan is to let this beer sit in the barrel for the next 3 months, around which point we will run this process again with fresh poured barrels so another batch of Coffee Rye Porter can be barrel aged, except this time for Icarus Brewing with the full blessing of the Federal and State Governments.  The race is on, will we be brewing in Lakewood by the time this beer is ready, or will we still be waiting on the same permits that New Jersey and the Tax and Trade Bureau should be looking over right now?



Porter Barrel Fill



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Coffee Rye Porter

Posted in Craft Beer, on 1 February 2016, by , 0 Comments

With the Brewery construction is ramping up, so is the constant variables (aka Stress) that keep getting added to the process: engineers, lawyers, architects, bankers, and miles and miles of bureaucrats (municipal, state, & federal), forms for this, forms for that, etc.  To combat all of this, I did what I do best: Brew.  Todays batch was a Coffee Rye Imperial English Porter.  To double down, we double batched this massive beer (55 Gallons), brewing from 8 AM all he way til 10 PM, nothing says de-stress quite like a 14 hour Brewday.  Building off of our Intro to Recipe Development, we’re giving you an inside peak on what our Pilot brew days look like.

The Process

We tested out Wet Milling on this batch, to see what process changes and efficiency changes might occur.  This is done by lightly misting the grains prior to milling, which in theory should cut down on the amount of dust created as well as keeping the husks intact which would help with our lautering even as we tightened down our crush size (which should increase the amount of sugars we can efficiently pull from the grains).  While we definitely liked how the crush looked at the end of milling, our malt mill was not in love with the barley flour ending up caked in places it probably never should have been.  Consider Wet Milling a work in progress for us.

Milled Grain

Wet milled grain, husks mostly intact

This was also the second batch (and third batch) brewed on our borrowed Electric Brewing system.  Some of the advantages of Electric Brewing include increased cost efficiency as the Electric Elements can only heat the liquid it is touching, while Gas Burners tend to heat the entire room nearly as much as the vessel they should be heating.  This increased efficiency is then passed into increased speed on heating the liquid, which allowed for a sped up double brew day.

Electric Brewing

The Malt

Making an 11% beer isn’t easy, and it sure isn’t light work.  Each batch (Approx 27 Gallons each) of this Coffee Rye Porter took 103 lbs of grain.  As an English style I decided it would be best to go with Maris Otter as my base malt, something you’ll see commonly in my beers.  To make this a truly English Porter rather than a Stout I used a combination of Brown Malt and Chocolate Malt to provide the astringency and color that you would expect from a proper Porter.  For additional sweetness and complexity there is a substantial amount of crystal malts, providing those background toffee flavors.  But the real separator in this beer are the two flavorings I decided to top everything off with: Fresh Coffee Malt, and Rye.  The rye should provide a distinctive note of Earthiness and a slight “spiciness” that rye is known for.  The Coffee Malt tops everything off as an additional hint of fresh roasted coffee for aroma and flavor while not having the harsh tones that actual roasted coffee tends to add to beer when added early.


Milled grains

103 Pounds of Grain (Per Batch)

The Hops

While English Porters are definitely not known for their Hops, this is America, and we love our hops.  Almost a pound of hops went into each batch, with the bulk going in later in the boil to provide Aroma.  The majority of the bitterness in this beer was derived from Columbus and Phoenix which are typical high Alpha Acid hops known for their bittering qualities.  Throughout the boil additional Columbus hops were added for flavor and aroma complexity as hops added later to the boil isomerize differently, leaving more for Aromas, as well as Aromas that attach themselves to the beer better.  The last hop punch in this beer was a Flameout addition of Amarillo, which provides an aroma of citrus, melon, and stone fruits.  The final IBU will be approximately 45, which should help to balance the sweetness and alcohol burn that higher ABV beers can punch through.

Pouring Hops

90 Minute Addition – Columbus

Fermentation, Whats Next:

As of this morning the Coffee Rye Porter is oxygenated, and pitched with 3.4 trillion cells of yeast (US-05, American Ale Yeast).  US-05 is great at exemplifying the malt and hops added without adding too much of its own flavors leaving a clean beer as a result.  We’ll be leaving all 55 Gallons in the Fermenter for the next 3 weeks, deciding what to do next with it, whether it be adding cold pressed coffee, barrel aging, or maybe even both.



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Recipe Craft

Posted in Craft Beer, on 20 January 2016, by , 2 Comments


While every other end of our building process is rolling on right now we figured we would take a break and fully hash out a few of our next beers.  But unlike some of the big guys (Looking at you Mr. Busch, and Mr. Cold as the Rockies) we like to be as transparent as possible, bringing each of you on a tour with us through each and every aspect of our process, hopefully making each and every one of you our Assistant Brewer in some way.  Today we’ll be sitting down and talking over Recipe Development, one of the most important aspects of brewing, because otherwise we’d just be throwing random things into a pot and wondering why it always tastes so bad in revolutionary new ways.

Crafting a Style

The first step for us to decide which Style we’re going with.  This helps narrow everything down from brewing a beer, to brewing an American IPA or a Belgian Blonde or a Scottish Stout, so we know the general ingredients we should be looking at as well as what beer histories we should be reading into.  This does not mean we constrain ourselves to the style guidelines however, if we decide to make a German Lager we should be looking at mostly Pilsner malt, noble German hops, and a Bohemian Lager yeast, but luckily for us we aren’t subject to the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Laws), so if we want to throw in some bitter orange peel, and a handful of roasted cocoa nibs and make a American twist on the style, we probably will.

Malt Hops Water

German Purity Laws allowed only Water, Barley, and Hops. That’s no fun.

Malt – Where all craft beer begins

Now that we picked our style, we know where to look for our barley.  While Macros tend to aim for as cheap of a grain bill as possible, substituting in cheap adjuncts (Corn and Rice typically) wherever they can to provide a flavorless yet cheap “Crisp, Refreshing, Cold as the…” beer.  I’m always trying to go the opposite way, seeing if I substitute any of our grains such as 2-Row Pale barley for a more premium full flavored barley i.e. English floor malted Maris Otter or Golden Promise.  These premium barleys help to create a more complex and full flavored beer regardless of price.  I always start my recipes with this base grain decision, as it will end up being anywhere from 50%-90% of the grain bill in each recipe.

From there I decide whether I’ll be using any crystal malts, which are caramelized barleys, providing a sweeter flavor to the final beer.  Depending on style I’ll look into our darker malts next, which range from Roasted Barley which tastes like a bitter coffee bean to Chocolate Malt which tastes like bittersweet chocolate.  Sometimes its the simple color option of Black Malt which changes the color with very little grain usage or specialty products like “Midnight Wheat” which adds color and smoothness without the standard roasted malt bite.

The last grain going into the recipe are my specialty adjuncts including Wheat, Rye, Oats, and Flaked Barley.  These are added for body and head retention in the beer, with each having its own unique characteristic such as ryes’ spice, wheats’ smoothness, and oats’ creamy mouthfeel.

Malt Wheel

Hops – The spice of craft

Whether I’m making a beer designed for hopheads at 100+ IBU or a simple 15 IBU Blonde, hops always have their importance in Craft Beer.  Hops are used as both a natural preservative as well as for their flavoring and aroma oils.  For me, hops need to blend well with the beer, as a harsh piney Warrior bite might be fine in our 10% ABV 90 IBU IIPA meant to be sipped on, but I rather have something far more subtle in our 4% Summer Pale Ale.  Hops can definitely be one of the most expensive ingredients in a beer, which explains why Macros tend to avoid them and Craft Beer has embraced them, its okay Bud this hops for me.  I look at the various oil levels in the hops to see how they should be utilized, whether I use hops higher in Myrcene which tend to have citrus, and floral characteristics  or hops with higher Humulene which tend to have more herbal and subtle spiciness, with each being important for late in the boil for aroma or dry hopping.

Hop Wheel

A small subsection of available hops and their characteristics

Yeast & Fermentation- Craft beers workhorse

Yeast tends to be forgotten about yet it is possibly the most important aspect in brewing as it is the final decision maker on what style is coming out of the beer brewed.  The exact same recipe put into 3 separate Fermenters with 3 different Yeasts would result in 3 radically different beers.  Yeast determines which sugars are turned into alcohol versus which sugars are turned into various flavored esters verses which sugars are left alone for sweetness in the beer.  This is paired with the fermentation profile, where we look and see how warm we want to ferment.  If we ferment a beer warm we’ll be stressing out the Yeast resulting in some fun and funky flavors and aromas such as Banana smelling esters at higher temperatures, cider like flavors from too much acetic bacteria being present, or a very subtle but clean flavor from a cold (lagered) fermentation which Lager yeasts thrive at.

Yeast Profile

Sample Yeast Profile Chart


At this point we get to have fun, decide what else we want to throw in to really take this beer from Good to Great.  Maybe some Blueberries into the Fermenter, maybe we want to let this beer sit for 3 months on a freshly dumped Bourbon Barrel, maybe even throw a handful of vanilla beans into the Bright Tank (Carbonating Tank).  There is no end to creatively to beer, which is why we’re planning on having 15 taps rotating in our taproom, constantly something new, and always fresh.


Currently Fermenting: Weizenbock

Next Beer in Fermenter: Coffee Rye Imperial Porter

After that: Suggestions always welcomed.

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Brewery Gate

Posted in Craft Beer, on 7 January 2016, by , 0 Comments

Construction: Where We’re At

It has been an interesting month of hurry up and wait, something we’re slowly getting used to.  At the start of December we were rolling forward with tons of construction going on in the Brewery, with floors being poured, trench drains installed, and the building in general beginning to look more like a building.  But then came the Holidays, and while we love the Christmas Trees and Yuletide and Presents, we also learned that maybe Ebeneezer Scrooge was just cranky about how little work gets done on a major project like ours during this time of year.

This slow time has allowed us to catch up a bit on the behind the scenes work we’ve been slacking on while rushing full speed on the physical end of construction and machinery ordering.  We’ve mostly solidified our brewhouse design, getting the most out of our custom built brewhouse, putting in the design work now to shorten the brewday and save our backs a little bit when we open.  Some other behind the scenes work going on now include finalizing our SBA loans (financing a Brewery, definitely not the fun part of making beer), getting our architectural specs in place for the township, and plenty of paperwork (so much paperwork).

Brewery Buildout

Late December

Obviously some work has been done, we have gates, the windows are framed, and there is a man standing in our window, though that might not be a permanent fixture.  

Construction: Where We’re Going

Our next steps include getting town approval for our own construction and build-out, receiving the SBA loan (spending the Federal Governments money instead of our own personal money would be awfully nice), and then starting to built out our tasting room.  We’ve spent plenty of time working on R&D (Research & Development), taking some ideas from breweries all over the country, and all over the world, so hopefully the tasting room comes out half as nice as we dream it to be.

Upcoming Pilot Brews:

Coffee-Rye Porter (Look forward to a Barrel Aged version)

Belgian Wit Beer (Ginger & Grapefruit mayhaps)

Irish Red Ale

Chipotle Porter


Weizenbock brewday, should be ready pretty soon

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Icarus Brewing

Posted in Craft Beer, on 8 December 2015, by , 0 Comments

Who is Icarus?  What is Icarus Brewing?  Why Icarus?

Icarus is taken from Greek Mythology.  In this story Icarus and his father Daedalus (The Craftsman) were exiled to the island of Crete, with all land and sea routes blocked from escape.  Rather than living and dying in exile the two came up with a plan to escape through flight.  While our beer flights will be crafted from wood, their flight was crafted from feathers and wax.  When both were prepared for flight, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too high, because the heat of the sun would melt the wax, nor too low, because the sea foam would soak the feathers.  While Icarus failed to heed these warnings it is an important message we’ve taken to heart when we craft our beers: never too hoppy or it’ll taste like you’re sucking a pinecone, never so sweet that you might mistake the beer for punch, everything in balance and have the flavors compliment each other to hit all the right heights.  We will never settle for mediocrity though, just like Daedalus, and just like Icarus we’ll keep pushing these barriers, a little bit higher, a little bit stronger, a little bit hoppier, a little bit darker, always innovating, always exciting.

“Icarus flew too close to the sun, but at least he flew.” -Skullcrack City


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