For Sale: Reclaimed Barnwood Beer Flight Sets

December 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Looking for a beer flight set worthy of showcasing your finely crafted homebrew to friends and family? Well look no further.  I am pleased to be able to offer a limited number of one of a kind, hand crafted, reclaimed barnwood beer flight sets.

These unique paddles were hand crafted from reclaimed barnwood by Pennsylvania Amish.  Each paddle was milled, drilled, and stained by hand making them a great showcase for your hombrewed beer and a wonderful holdiday gift.

I am selling these one of a kind sets for $25 plus shipping and handling. Each set includes 4 high quality 6 oz serving glasses and one reclaimed barnwood paddle.  Quantities are extremely limited so if your interested please contact me directly at for availability, shipping quotes, payment information or any other inquiries.

Falling Leaf IPA Tasting Notes

December 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm



Falling Leaf IPA Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Pours a hazy, dark gold with burt orange overtones. A puffy cloud like whitish-tan head sits atop.

Smell: Sharp, cutting citrus,pine and sweet malt.

Taste:  Starts smooth and malty, lazily giving way to a moderate bitterness that transitions nicely to a finish of aromatic, bright, floral hops.

Mouthfeel: Slightly under carbonated, malty with a moderately bitter finish.

Drinkability & Notes: While this finished lighter then what I would consider the average IPA it has a wonderful malt flavor that is extremely clean and supports the heaping amount of late addition hops.  It has a moderate hop bitterness as opposed to the over the top bitterness in many of the commercial examples with huge hop aromatics and flavors on the finish.

For me the highlight of this beer is the finish.  The finish is loaded with amazing hop flavors yet just enough bitterness to cut through the malt  The Simcoe really dominates with its pine and grapefruit flavors while the Citra and Amarillo play  off them nicely with their citrus and floral contributions.

I brought a half keg to a Thanksgiving party a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit with all everyone.  The keg wound up going super fast and made me wish that I had brought a full keg instead of a half.  At the party I  was describing the beer as more of a strong Pale Ale then an IPA but a lot of people thought it was perfectly in the range of and IPA style beer.  Either way, what it lacks in bitterness it more than makes up with its hoppy finish, making this truly enjoyably and accessible, hoppy beer.



Conniption Ale

November 26, 2013 at 10:00 am

A few weeks ago I had what likely will be my last brew day of the year, a double batch brew day of two different styles of Belgians, the Golden and Dark Strong Ale.  I love both styles and needed some beers that would do well with some extending aging as I work through my existing backlog of beers.  I was also thinking about the versatility of the Belgian Styles and how it would be cool to have two different style beers that were similar yet completely different.

I decided that the similarities would include the same yeast strain, Wyeast Farmhouse Ale, which is described as producing complex esters balanced with earthy/spicy notes with a slightly tart, dry and peppery finish and final gravities in the range of  1.075 to 1.085.  The differences in the two beers would include the color, hop assertiveness and flavor profiles, grain bills, and mouthfeel of the final beers.

I kept the Golden Ale recipe extremely simple using only Pislner Malt with a touch of Turbinado sugar to help dry it out. For this beer I wanted to emphasis the hops and the interplay between them and the Belgian yeast flavors. This is in contrast to the large amounts of specialty grains I used in the Dark Strong which I intend to be a more of a malt focused beer.

I also really wanted to use some of the new hop strains I got from HopDirects 2013 harvest. One of which was Challenger, which I have used sparingly in the past with good results. I wanted to use a decent amount of them to get acquainted with their smooth floral and subtle spice flavors, these hops are known for.  I thought any mild citrus flavors from the Challengers could be bolstered with some Citra and Cascade late addition hops.

Im looking forward to seeing how this beer as long as the Dark Strong Ale, which I will be posting the recipe for shortly, turn out over time.  Both styles should age gracefully however Ill be watching the hoppier Golden Strong Ale closely to make sure and drink it before the subtle hop flavors begin to fade.  Having two Belgians, one that emphasizes the hop and yeast dynamics and another that focuses on the malt and yeast interplay should provide for some interesting drinking in the upcoming months.

Conniption Ale

Batch Size: 10.5 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.084
Est. Final Gravity: 1.014
ABV: 9.3%
IBU: 30.1
Color: 5.4 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

93.1% Pilsner Malt
6.9% Turbinado Sugar

2 Oz Challenger (6.3% AA) at 60 min
1 Oz Challenger (6.3% AA) at 20 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
1 Oz Cascade (8.5% AA) at 5 min
1 Oz Citra (12.9% AA) at 0 min

3 L Starter Wyeast 3726 PC Farmhouse Ale

60 minutes at 151F (Saccharification Rest)

photo (1)

Oatmeal Stout Part 1 Tasting Notes

November 20, 2013 at 8:59 pm


Oatmeal Stout Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Pours a midnight black with a billowing tan head, quickly dissipates leaving behind minimal lacing.

Smell: Notes of chocolate and roasted barley dominate, sweet vanilla and coffee are also present.

Taste: Silky smooth from the get go, big chocolate and mild roast flavors are met with a moderate hop bitterness. Finishes semi sweet with hints of cocoa and vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, silky and moderately carbonated.  Slightly hoppier then expected but still plays well with the darker specialty grains.

Drinkability & Notes: I was planning on adding two unique flavor combinations to the secondary, hence the Oatmeal Stout 2 Ways however due to some logistical challenges as well as the beer tasting pretty awesome as is I decided to veer of course from my original plan.

For me this beer encapsulates my favorite aspects of an oatmeal stout, specifically that silky smooth texture and chocolate flavors.  It has a great balance of  flavors and hops that work in concert to round out a classic oatmeal stout.

Next I’ll be adding a dry hop of cocoa nibs, bourbon soaked vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks and some dried kung po peppers I grew this summer.  Im going to start with 8 oz of cocoa nibs and the vanilla bean.  As these flavors begin to reach their prime ill than add the cinnamon sticks and the Kung Po peppers.

Im pretty confident that this dry hop schedule should allow me to handle all of these moving flavor pieces in a civilized manner.  Based upon how the base beer tastes and some preliminary testing I have done I think these additions are really going to complement as well as tranform this beer and potentially put it on the next level status.

photo (3)

Falling Leaf IPA

October 31, 2013 at 8:51 pm

After spending the past few months preparing for and brewing for my wedding I can say that it was worth all the effort. The beers were a huge hit, our guests drank close to 20 cases of beer and almost all the homebrew,  more importantly I am now a happily married man.  The biggest hit without a doubt was the Rich’s Pale Ale, with one keg kicking during the cocktail hour alone.  With the wedding now behind me I can focus my energy back on the small things in life such as this blog and  brewing more experimental beers.

Several weeks ago I placed an order with HopsDirect for some  their 2013 hop harvest, my order including some Citra and Cascade in addition to a few English varieties.  I decided that an IPA was in order to utilize some of these fresh hops as well as use up some of last years crop that Ive been working though this year.

I wanted to keep the grain bill fairly simple to let the hops shine, in fact I think this maybe the least amount of specialty grains I have ever used in a batch, except for my Tripel.  I went with a base of American 2-Row with a bit of Caraamber malt.  I was reading through last months issue of BYO on the plane ride back from my honeymoon and noticed that Hill Farmstead, used a grain bill consisting entirely of 2-Row and Caraamber malts for one of their beers.  I thought if it works for one of the most popular, critically acclaimed brewers in the world, that I should give it a try too.

The main attraction in this one is the hops obviously, being an IPA and all I decided to break out all of the big guns. Simcoe, Amarillo, Citra, and Cascade make up the aroma additions with a touch of Belma for bittering.  The Simcoe and Amarillo combo served as the basis for my Pale Ale and work wonderfully together.  I’m hoping that the addition of the fresh Citra and Cascade will give this one an even more over-the-top citrus hop punch.  I plan on dry hopping with the Citra and Cascade combo to round this one out, which I am hopeful will rival the amazing Simcoe Amarillo hop pairing I’ve had great success dry hopping with in the past.

Falling Leaf IPA

Batch Size: 10.5 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.066
Est. Final Gravity: 1.014
ABV: 6.9%
IBU: 65.2
Color: 6.7 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

94.1%  2-Row
5.9% Caraamber

.75 Oz Belma (11.3% AA) at 60 min
.75 Oz Amarillo (9.2% AA) at 20 min
.75 Oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) at 20 min
.75 Oz Citra (12.9% AA) at 20 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
.75 Oz Cascade (8.5% AA) at 15 min
.75 Oz Amarillo (9.2% AA) at 10 min
.75 Oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) at 10 min
.75 Oz Citra (12.9% AA) at 10 min
.75 Oz Cascade (8.5% AA) at 5 min
.75 Oz Amarillo (9.2% AA) at 0 min
.75 Oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) at 0 min
.75 Oz Citra (12.9% AA) at 0 min

2 Packages US-05 SafeAle

Dry Hop:

1.5 Oz Citra (12.9% AA) 7 Days
1.5 Oz Cascade (8.5% AA) 7 Days

60 minutes at 152F (Saccharification Rest)

Hops Close Up

Oatmeal Stout 2 Ways

September 28, 2013 at 10:05 am

After spending most of my now limited brewing time working on the beers for the wedding I wanted to get back to experimentation for my latest batch.  With winter quickly approaching and not a dark beer insight I decided to do an oatmeal stout. After all, theres nothing better then sipping on a smooth, malty, oatmeal stout on a Sunday afternoon in December.

I used the stout as an opportunity to purge my grain stash a bit and ended up with a slightly more specialty malts then usual.  The grist ratio breaks out to be 75% Base 15% Specialty Malts and 10% Oats.  I selected  a wide breadth of specialty malts in an effort to increase the complexity of the final beer.  Some of my favorite stouts have a lot of layers to them and aren’t  overpowering with one flavor in particular.  I finished the beer with some Chinook for bittering and some EKG for aroma.

Now you might be thinking I thought I said I wanted to get back to experimentation, that oatmeal stout looks pretty standard.  While I agree that it is, for this batch i’m looking to  experiment in the secondary.  Ill be adding several different combinations of flavor, in order to create  two totally different yet complementary oatmeal stouts.

For the first five gallons I plan on adding a mixture of some dried Kung Po peppers from our garden, Abuelita (Mexican Chocolate), and cinnamon sticks.  While I haven’t quite hashed out the preparation of these ingredients, im thinking that I will add all three to a saucepan and let it cook for a bit to meld the flavors and sanitize the peppers.  Im envisioning this beer as a silky chocolate type stout with a warming pepper heat to finish it off.

The second batch will receive an addition of  8 oz of Coocoa nibs, .75 Oz Rum Soaked Oak Chips, and a vanilla bean.  Im hoping this take on the oatmeal stout will be sweeter with a more subdued chocolate flavors. Ideally, this sweeter stout will pair well with the more robust, spicier first stout.  Ill make sure to provide an update when I finalize the additions, preparation, and time of each in secondary as I will most likely stagger them.

Oatmeal Stout 2 Ways

Batch Size: 10.5 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.066
Est. Final Gravity: 1.016
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 57.3
Color: 33.9 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

55.7%  2-Row
19% Marris Otter
10% Oats, Flaked
4.2% Amber Malt
2.7% Chocolate Malt
2.5% Black Patent Malt
1.7% Roasted Barley
1.4% Crystal 40
1% Crystal 120

2 Oz Chinook (13.1% AA) at 60 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
3 Oz East Kent Goldings (4.06%AA) at 15 min

2 L Starter White Labs 028 Edinburgh Ale

60 minutes at 154F (Saccharification Rest)
10 minutes at 165F (Mash Out)

photo (1)

Bier de Garde Tasting Notes

September 10, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Bier de Garde1

Bier de Garde Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Pours from  the bottle with a deep orange borderline brown color. A long lasting, thin crystalline white head percolates on top.

Smell: Tantalizingly sweet, aromas of Belgian candi sugar, carmel, and toffee are present.

Taste: Begins with a thin carbonated sip and as it progresses through the palette becomes thicker, chewier and maltier.  Leaves with a feeling of warming alcohol and rich belgian sugar and carmel notes.  Finishes dry with a bite.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation, sweet and malty.

Drinkability & Notes: This beer is big and strong with plenty of complex flavors to hold its own.  The belgian grains and kettle caramelization really put this beer into the next level with the breadth of flavors they add contribute.  Deep flavors of carmel and sweetness really jump out of the glass in this one, and to be honest drinking it really gets me excited for the fall.

On a side note, I also added a heaping portion of bourbon soaked oak cubes to the other half  for an extended age, that to be honest is going to really test my patience in order to give it the time it needs.


BDG tasting

Pumptastic Porter

August 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Brewing pumpkin beers has become an annual right of passage for many homebrewers, myself included.  It marks the beginning of the end of summer, and the transition to the bigger, darker, maltier beers many of us prefer to drink during the fall and winter months.  There is a wide array of opinions when it comes to pumpkin beers, particularly if adding actual pumpkin is worth the extra effort (many argue that only the pumpkin spice is necessary)  I have always been a fan of using pumpkin in my beers, as you may have noticed by now, I take my brewing very seriously and don’t like to cut any corners perceived or not.

I decided to stick with the porter as the base beer for my pumpkin beer this year, as I really like the combination.  However, I decided to up the amount of pumpkin as well as fine tune the grain bill with a bit more speciality malts in an effort to hone in on that fresh, bready, pumpkin pie taste we have all come to love.

I have always added the Libby’s Pumpkin mixture directly to the mash water and grains but this year maybe the last time I go that route. I should have known that I was going to be in for it when I added the nearly 10 lbs of pumpkin to my mash water before adding a single ounce of grains.  I didn’t account for the additional volume of the pumpkin (first mistake), and wound up pulling off some of the mash water prior to doughing in to a level I felt comfortable with.  Upon adding the grains and rice hulls my pump ran great for about 10 minutes, before I had the dreaded stuck mash!  The addition of so much pumpkin, and in turn starches, to an already thick mash was to much for my system. The result was one of the worst stuck mashes I have ever had.

To make a long story short and much less profane, lets just say that I am now a firm believer in adding the pumpkin directly to the boil instead of the mash.  I’m hopeful that the additional pumpkin will be worth the trouble and come through in both mouthfeel and taste in the final beer, which should be a crowd favorite for my wedding.

Pumptastic Porter

Batch Size: 10.5 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.059
Est. Final Gravity: 1.019
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 29.2
Color: 25.9 SRM
Boil Time: 60Min

71.1% Maris Otter
8.9% Wheat Malt
6.1% Chocolate Malt
4.9% Munich II Malt
3.0% Carapils Malt
2.0% Amber Malt

.75 Oz Chinook (13.1% AA) at 60 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
2 Oz Hallertaurer Mittelfrueh (4.0% AA) at 20 min
1.75 East Kent Goldings (4.06%AA) at 5 min
3 Cinnamon Sticks at 5 min
6 Whole Cloves at 5 min
1.75 tsp Nutmeg & Allspice

4 L Starter White Labs 011 European Ale

60 minutes at 154F (Saccharification Rest)
10 minutes at 165F (Mash Out)


Added 9.4 lbs Libby’s Pumpkin to mash along with 1lb rice hulls.
Pumptastic Porter

Smoked & Oaked Barleywine

August 4, 2013 at 10:27 pm

As a homebrewer it is important to have a constant flow of beers, in their prime to enjoy.  Sometimes scheduling and managing this pipeline around equipment availability and optimum age can be difficult. One thing that I have been trying to do over the past few years is brew one big beer a year and get a secondary “big beer pipeline” established.

For this set of beers I concentrate on high alcohol beers usually with wild yeast and extended oak aging.  I started two years ago with a sour beer aged on NJ Sour Cherries, and last year I brewed Lets Grow Old Together Ale.  Ideally, I would like these beers to be able to withstand some significant aging (1-10 years)  and hopefully develop deep, complex flavor profiles that evolve over time.

This year I decided to do a smoked barleywine, which will eventually find its way onto the Wyeast Old Ale yeast cake.  I am also thinking of adding some Scotch soaked oak cubes throughout the duration of the bulk aging.  This beer has multiple moving parts, namely the Smoked malt, Brett, Scotch oak, and most significantly time.

While time will tell if the smoked malt hold up over time, my intent is to layer some malt smokiness and  scotch oak flavor on top of a big, slightly English leaning barleywine grain bill.  The Old Ale yeast, has started to show some cherry pie flavors in my Old Ale at around 9 months, I’m hopeful to achieve similar flavors in this batch to complement its biscuity, bready, malt backbone.

For me this batch is about experimenting with the  smoked malt and the interplay of the oak and brett.  I’ve used smoked malt one other time, but it was a homemade smoked rye malt, not one of the two readily availabe commerical smoked malts. (Briess Cherrywood & Wyereman Rauch Malt) I went with a roughly 2:1 ratio of Rauch Smoked (somewhat milder, less pungent smoke smell),  to Cherrywood (deep smoke, bacon).  I hope that the mix will be able to provide enough up front smoke flavor to last for the first 6 months to a year of this one.

To round out the recipe I added a bit of Demerera Sugar for some extra fermentables as well as some Chinook and Tettnang hops.  I used the S-04 English Ale to for the primary fermentation, rounded out by the Old Ale yeast for the secondary, bulk aging.  I don’t always try to cram this many ideas into a beer but I think this recipe is strong enough, and the flavor profiles complementary enough to handle it.   I’m really looking forward to forgetting about this one for a while, a really long while.

Smoked and Oaked Barleywine

Batch Size: 7 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.100
Est. Final Gravity: 1.018
ABV: 10.9%
IBU: 93.1
Color: 22.2 SRM
Boil Time: 75 Min

59.9% Maris Otter
13.8% Smoked Malt (Rauch)
8.9% Munich 20L Malt
6.9% Smoked Malt (Cherrywood)
4.4% Amber Malt
3.4% Demeremera Sugar
2.6% Crystal 120

3 Oz Chinook (13.1% AA) at 60 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
6.2 Oz Tettnang (4.0% AA) at 10 min

2 Pk. SafAle English Ale S-04

60 minutes at 150F (Saccharification Rest)
10 minutes at 165F (Mash Out)


After 3 weeks primary, rack onto Old Ale yeast cake. Add 2 oz French Oak soaked in Scotch for 3 weeks and age for 12 months.


S&O Grains

Far East Wheat Tasting Notes

July 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Far East WheatFar East Wheat Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Pours a hazy deep yellow almost gold.  Minimal to no head when poured from the bottle.  Off the keg a nice fluffly white head was present.

Smell: Tangerine, Watermelon, Yuzu.  Citrus aromas meld seamlessly with sweet sugar notes, like smelling into a candy jar.

Taste: Starts with a subtle tartness that is quickly overcome by a blend of sweet malt and citrus.  Notes of tangerine, orange, and yuzu dance along on the tongue.  Finishes with notes of lemon and flowers.  The schezuan pepper, while subdued, leaves a very delicate aftertaste on the palette that adds another layer to a surprisingly complex beer.

Mouthfeel: Moderately carbonated, a bright beer, highly refreshing.  The Yuzu contributed a noticeable tartness to the beer which is balanced nicely by the sweetness of the crystal malt.

Drinkability & Notes: I am extremely happy with how this beer came out.  There is always the risk when brewing a beer with unusual ingredients of brewing a clunker, however this is far from that.  The wheat base with the touch of crystal provided a great base for the Yuzu to showcase its unique citrus flavors, while the Schezuan pepper foils the flavors on the back end.

I can taste the Yuzu, however if you didn’t know it was in the beer it could easily be mistaken for orange, tangerine or some other citrus aroma from a peel or hop addition.  If the Yuzu wasn’t so expensive I would consider upping the amount, (with one Oz of Yuzu 8 gallons would be my initial thoughts for an increased Yuzu punch)however part of me really enjoys the subtleness of this beer.

All the moving parts work well together in subtle and complementary, yet complex ways leaving me yearning for another sip.  When I brew this again one change I would make to the initial recipe, would be to increase the amount of Schezuan pepper by another gram or two as I feel it could be just a bit more pronounced.

If you are looking for a truly unique beer to impress your friends I would highly recommend this beer to you. I can see it becoming one of my new favorites and a summer seasonal at Lionheart for years to come.