Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Beers

I’ve never been good with present shopping during the Christmas holidays. Part of the reason is I’m not sure what to get and I usually procrastinate to the end. Moreover, I would rather give gifts that have a personal touch than buying the requisite gift card or shot in the dark. This year I decided to brew a batch for a few male members of my family and write a little blurb. Each gift was a case of 12 ounce bottles with personalized labels.

Ryan’s Renegade IPA

Not only is my brother-in-law, Ryan Nugent, an awesome husband to my sister, but he is a great friend as well. Social media guru and media development expert, Ryan used to work for Next New Networks back in 2011 until it was purchased by YouTube and Google and became YouTube Next Lab.


One of Ryan’s signature works has been the writing the Creator Playbook, which guides YouTube users on content optimization, audience identification, and strategies for developing channels on YouTube. Although Ryan likes many craft beers, he is a self-prescribed hop-head. No beer is too bitter or too hoppy for this individual. In keeping with tradition, I brewed my most bitter beer to date, a hop heavy IPA that clocks in at 100 IBUs (Tinseth). For the label art my wife, Kim, took some of his favorite story themes, iconic 19th century whaling and space travel:

Ryan's ruthless_JJR_final

Here is the recipe (7.0 gallons – split into two cases):

  • 9 pounds extra light DME
  • 8.0 ounces Crystal 20L
  • 8.0 ounces Crystal 60L
  • 1 ounce Chinook (13% AA) at 60 minutes
  • 1 ounce Columbus (16.3% AA) at 60 minutes
  • 1 ounce Centennial (10% AA) at 15 minutes
  • 1 ounce Centennial (10% AA) at 10 minutes
  • 1 ounce Cascade (5.5% AA) at 5 minutes
  • 1 ounce Columbus (10% AA) at flameout
  • 1 ounce Cascade (5.5% AA) at flameout
  • 1 ounce Chinook (13% AA) at flameout
  • 1 ounce of whole leaf Simcoe – dry hopped in primary for 2 weeks
  • Yeast: Mangrove Jack’s US West Coast Yeast (no starter)

Bill’s Brown Ale; Garcia’s Brown Ale

With Ryan’s Renegade IPA I split the batch between Ryan and myself. This next batch was split between Kim’s father and my stepfather (I brewed both beers in one day). My wife’s father, Mr. Schaumloffel, whose name means foam skimmer for beer in German, is a great grandfather to Natalie and wonderful person to hang out with. Full of dry witty humor, Mr. Schaumloffel puts the charm in the term “old school” – he does things by the book and expects nothing less from anyone else. He grew up in the Rockaways of Long Island and worked as a steamfitter for the local union. He is so proud of these days that Kim decided to take the logo from his local 638 and convert it into a beer label:

Dad label

My stepfather, Rene, came into my mom’s life after my parents separated, though they were friends in high school. Rene is a cool character – always mellow, relaxed and his personality always leaves you at ease. Rene is fantastic musician and an expert on all things Beatles. For his label art, Kim decided to play off an old Beatles album:

garciaFor both beers I asked Mr. Schaumloffel what his favorite craft beer is and he mentioned Brooklyn Brown ale. Although there is no recipe, I tried to clone the beer and found most of the ingredients – English and Belgian malts and hops along with some late American hops for flavor and aroma. Here is the recipe (6 gallons) which was split between Rene and Mr. Schaumloffel:

  • 7 pounds extra light DME
  • 1 pound Special B (180 L)
  • 8.0 ounces of Caramunich II (57 L)
  • 8.0 ounces of Chocolate Malt (450 L)
  • 1.5 ounces of East Kent Goldings (7.2% AA) at 60 minutes
  • 1 ounce of Willamette (5.3% AA) at 10 minutes
  • 1 ounce Cascade (5.5% AA) at 5 minutes
  • 1 ounce Cascade (5.5% AA) at flameout
  • 1 ounce Willamette (5.3% AA) at flameout
  • 0.5 ounce East Kent Goldings (7.2% AA) at flameout
  • Yeast: Mangrove Jack’s US West Coast Yeast (no starter)

Brewing Notes:

This was my first time using Mangrove Jack’s dried yeast and I was pretty excited because of the different options that are available. The one downside to using this yeast was the huge lag time to the start of fermentation – 2.5 days. Every instinct of yeast biology and fermentation tells me this can’t be good. Long lag times equates to a yeast population that is understrength, stressed, and not ready to ferment a batch of beer. The yeast should be fermenting beer, not replicating and growing biomass. Interestingly, the beers came out pretty good (the brown ale is very close to the real deal), but I wonder if the beers could have been if I made a starter.

This was my first time making such a bitter IPA and at first I thought the beer was contaminated (phenols? astringency?) after trying it when the gravity reached 1.025. Turns out that the beer wasn’t finished fermenting and I tried it young, although the brown ale finished one week earlier (both beers were pitched at the same time with the same amount of yeast). The young off flavor was attributed extreme bitterness as I shook the carboy to get the dry-hops wet – the brown scum on the side of carboy went into solution as I shook it. This substance is potently bitter and gives the beer an astringent off-flavor. To save the beer I had to let the beer sit for another three weeks to allow those bitter resins to fall to the bottom and for the beer to finish fermenting.

Merry Christmas and Brew on!


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