Thursday, March 13, 2008


New Wood Beer at DFH

I ripped the following from a promotional DVD included in the 4-packs of the new DFH brown ale conditioned on Paraguayan Palo Santo wood





Wednesday, April 25, 2007


SPARK! Mag info

Hey y'all ~ John here.

If any new or old faces have seen the SPARK! Mag story , here's a specific update, plus links, on the local beers I listed.

My choices are all available locally.

In general, there are 2 great places I frequent that have a great beer selection: State Line Liquor (SLL; Elton Road, Elkton, PA) and Brewer's Outlet , (BO; Rte 202, Chadds Ford, PA just above the DE/PA border), in addition to other local marts.

By and large, my beer tastes adhere to my mantra of 'Support Your Local Craft Brewer' so all choices are by local Mid-Atlantic breweries. These selections serve as a good survey of great local beer (all apologies to the local brewpubs, as I wished to focus on off-premise retail buys)


VICTORY Golden Monkey (Downingtown, PA) ~ excellent domestic facsimile of a Belgian-style Strong Ale; warm, sweet and perfumy.  Corked 750mL bottles are available and suitable for aging, like fine wine.  SLL 
VICTORY website

TROEGS HopBack Amber Ale (Harrisburg, PA) ~ an emerging giant in the craft-brew world, Troegs makes this superb American-style ale that does not shy away from hops with aggressive pine & citrus characteristics.  SLL
TROEGS website

RAMSTEIN Blonde Wheat Beer (High Point, NJ) ~ the best Bavarian hefeweizen (German wheat) made domestically, brewed by a friend who trained at an all-wheat beer brewery in Germany. BO
HIGH POINT website

TWIN LAKES Route 52 Pilsner (Greenville, DE) ~ Delaware's newest brewery; their artesian well-water source shines through in this unfiltered lager. Available for 'growler' fills directly from the brewery & on tap locally.
TWIN LAKES website

DOGFISH HEAD Worldwide Stout (Milton, DE) ~ A modern legend.  At ~18-23% alcohol by volume, it is perfect for aging.  A few bottles  from their first bottling can still be found my own beer cellar. Needs to be sipped like a fine port in a snifter.   SLL
DH website

Saturday, March 10, 2007



We are taking our blog elsewhere. We'll leave the stuff here for the time being... but any new updates are at:

Thanks for following us at our new location!

-Garrett, Scott, and the rest of the FSB bloggers.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Peated Scottish v2

Yes, today is a brewing day in the Sever household - the first in over a month! I've been seriously slacking, but more on that later. Today is a peated scottish ale, probably in the 1.050 to 1.055 range. Its one I have been meaning to do for some time - the ingredients are about a year old, so hopefully things will work out just fine - but the Golden Promise 2-row and Peated Malt were purchased some time way back when some club members did a big order to North Country Malt Supply>. Its not that I couldn't have done it before, or that I couldn't have used these ingredients for something else in the meantime - I just always managed to slide something in before it. Since the peated malt is over a year old, it has a much more mellow and subtle aroma (and I am guessing flavor) than it did back in March 2006 when Scott Bieber asked me "what did you DO to this?!?!? It tastes like peat moss!!" It obviously won't be ready for folks to try at this year's Jerry & Joyce St. Pats extravaganza - but I'll probably torture folks with it sometime around May or June.

I've been very busy doing research for a semi-automated / computerized homebrew sculpture. I say "semi-automated" because I don't want to just press the GO button and it does all the work - I want the computer to do smart temperature control and facilitate some of the more tedious exercises while brewing like measuring out water, or doing mash steps. **I** still want to be the brewer, but I want to exact a level of precision and repeatability over my batches that I don't have right now. I also want to be able to capture brew session data and have the ability to analyze it later if something truely wonderful happens (or awful, as the case may be).

So instead of brewing, I've been playing with electronics - programmable microcontrollers, resistors, capacitors, logic chips, LEDs, etc. - I used to know all that stuff, and have managed to forget it in the years since I learned it in college.

If you feel like amusing yourself, go to the Tech section of our website and check out "Electrobrew", my tentative name for this endeavor. I don't know what the project will ultimately be called, but that's good enough for now.

I won first place for my Choking Sun Stout at War of the Worts XII, which got me a $50 gift certificate to Keystone Homebrew Supply up in PA. Looks like I am going to have to make a pilgrimage to spend it, but there are always tons of other things to do in Philly that would warrant the trip.

Also, looks my family and some friends are all going to the Belgian beer festival at Ommegang in July. After reading of the experience from the assistant brewer at Iron Hill Newark, I convinced my wife that pitching a tent among the other bohemians was not something we wanted to do, so we are looking at getting a cabin some (walkable) distance away where we don't have to endure the all-night drum circles and idiots stumbing into our area, begging for late-night handouts.

Last but not least, we are MOVING our blog from Blogspot to our domain and using the Wordpress platform. Blogger has been reasonably good for us, but honestly I feel better having it on our own site. If you are reading this entry at then you are already ahead of the game.

If not, start checking instead, because that's where we are headed.

Monday, January 29, 2007


More belgian fury...

As my post over on the Google group indicated, I brewed more belgian style beer on Sunday morning... 10 gallons of what was supposed to be a somewhat mild brew that could support 3 or 4 in an evening without dropping the hammer... and it didn't turn out that way. Instead I'm probably looking at a 7-8% beer...

It is using a yeast cake from the Heretic Strong Dark Ale I brewed back in early January, meaning the Unibroue strain from Wyeast (3864). It smells absolutely divine as it is fermenting, and once again I am hoping that it tastes as good as it smells.

Check out that monster fermenter - a 12 gallon pyrex solution bottle, loaned to me by Oliver Weatherbee (Thanks, man!!). It weighs a freakin' ton, especially full! I've got it fitted with a BBBOT. I do wonder how accurate that stick-on thermometer is with all that glass - isn't glass an insulator? It might be like 3 or 4 degrees higher inside the bottle than it is on the surface... But hey, this yeast is good to 80 degrees, so I should be fine.

Speaking of the Heretic, here it sits in the secondary, three weeks and many days after primary fermentation subsided... and as you can tell, the yeast is still flocculating. I thought about putting it out in the garage to make it fall faster, but I'm in no hurry, so the yeast can take their time. I just hope there is enough active yeast left to carbonate it - I may end up taking a small measure of the yeast from the 10 gallon batch and pitching it in with the priming sugar.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Coming of War

... of the Worts XII on Feb 17th. I have been looking at my bottled beer inventory (as well as those that I could quickly put into bottles with my counter-pressure filler) and trying to decide what to send into this Feb 17th competition. I have a couple that I know will be dogged by the judges, but I think the $5 entry fee is probably worth it to get feedback. Here are my considerations:

Sirius Black Honey Ale12B - Robust Porter
Ed's Special Reserve Porter12B - Robust Porter
Ed's Special Reserve Porter22C - Wood-aged beer
Choking Sun Stout13D - Foreign Extra Stout
My Wife's Nutty Brown(Undecided - American brown or English Northern?)
Nightmare Stout21A - Spice, Herb, or Veg Beer
The Beer Formerly Known As Hopocalypse14C - Imperial IPA
Saison du Sevier16C - Saison

I entered My Wife's Nutty in the 2006 Buzz-Off competition and got comments that it didn't have enough hop character to balance it in the Northern category, and would be better as a Southern Brown - However this is a new batch and I feel that it *IS* hoppier, so I am torn between putting it in the same category where it only got 31/50 last time or trying a different one entirely - namely the American Brown. It doesn't have American hops, so that is probably a bad idea (used Bullion and Kent Golding, I think) which probably means I should stick to English Northern or Southern.

I am entering my dad's bourbon porter in two categories, both the wood aged and robust porter, because I don't know how best to categorize it. The oak and bourbon flavors only come through in the aftertaste, and it grows slowly as you sip your way through the beer - so the judges are likely not to get much of it with only 2oz. It may end up having too much oak & bourbon for just robust porter, but not enough for the wood-aged category - that would suck.

So if I enter things as listed above, I am looking at losing basically 16 beers and $41 to entry fees, but that's cool with me. Hopefully I'll walk away with a ribbon or two for it, and I'll definitely get lots of good feedback... hopefully constructive and informative, although that isn't always the case.

I think the next competition that has a firm date on the schedule is this year's Buzz-Off in summer, so I'll have several months to build my bottle inventory back up... and I'll have a whole new batch of beers to try out in that competition.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


New year brew year

I may have very well brewed my best belgian ever.

Saturday (Jan 6th) was my first beer brewed in 4 weeks. Last was my homegrown ale on December 10th. Amazing that I only brewed 5 gallons in December - but we were gone for 2 weeks on vacation to Atlanta, so I shouldn't be suprised. I brewed 5 gallons of a belgian-style strong dark ale, which I intend to bottle-condition in corked belgian 750mL bottles. I'm pretty excited about it, and am happy as can be brewing again - I almost forgot how much I enjoy it. I used a whole bottle (16 oz) of Dark Candi Syrup and the Unibroue yeast strain (Wyeast 3864) so it should turn out pretty good, and different than anything else I've brewed to date.

I also took a key learning from my last batch of Dubbel and mashed at a higher temperature since I managed to ferment that last batch down to 1.009 (Yikes!!!) Maybe it was the yeast's fault (WLP530 Abbey Ale).... Oliver reported similar results, although he managed to ferment down to 1.006...

It is now 4 days after brewing, and primary fermentation has been winding down for a day or so. Let me tell you - if the aromas that are coming from the fermenter are any indication of how the beer tastes - I am going to be a REALLY happy man.

The floor corker I got for christmas just totally rocks out. I can't wait to use it on this batch of beer... and many others this year. I am more than willing to share if any of you out there are interested in corking one of your batches.

I've got a ton of bottles out in my garage again that need the PBW cleaning and label-stripping treatment... Many of them are belgian-style bottles (Many many thanks to John Biggins!!!!) so I can avoid the exhorbitant $20/case of 12 price that you must buy them for. Unfortunately several of them have some sort of wicked screen printing on them (Corsendonk Brown, Unibroue Terrible, and of course all the Delerium bottles) so I am not sure I can use them. I tried using lacquer thinner to get the paint off, and it was completely ineffective... I am suspecting that the paint is probably some oven-cured enamel that was baked on (and may have fused with the glass). I haven't given up hope on them yet... but I am struggling with what my next step should be. At some point the effort to remove the paint is going to outweigh the cost of buying them new... particularly if I can get them cheap from Victory Brewing Co. in the spring. Anyone out there got new ideas? I've already ruled out paint thinner, lacquer thinner, acetone, and "Goof Off!".