Birth of a Beer Recipe

Experimented with my first recipe formulation and brewed it last weekend. I can’t say this is the best approach – but I was excited and needed to brew something.

My approach? – I simply listed all the grains and hops I had in the house. I knew I had enough ingredients to make a general beer. Even though we’re still awaiting the results of our “Yeast Test” (brewed 12 gallons of beer & split into 4 different 3 gallon batches w/ different yeast) – I have faith that it’s not royally messed up.

I have to admit though – the one area I feel most unsure about is my hop selection.  I can’t really put a mental taste on what types of flavor & aroma to expect from the various hop varieties.  I did find some explanations – but come on!! Earthy?  That tells me it tastes like a mouthful of dirt!  At anyrate – this is one area I know I do need to brush up on.

I did add 4 pounds of raspberries to my primary during fermentation and may add more once racked to the secondary.  I’ll have to taste it though.  I’ve read enough back & forth in various forums on the web that I’ve come to the realization that no matter when you add them – someone will argue and say you should have done it differently.  So anyone who’s against me adding 4 pounds of frozen raspberries to my primary fermenter…. well… you can’t have any then!

I’ll try to rack to secondary this weekend and let you know how it’s coming!

Homebrew With a View

One more reason I love making my own beer.  The time I get to spend with this view…. and it get’s better beer by beer!  This is from my brew session last week (Feb 12) on the Belgian Pale Ale.

The view from my driveway

The view from my driveway

Successful Brew Day: Belgian Pale Ale

I must be upfront.  I love Belgian style beers!  That is why I choose to brew this style more than the others.  Yet it’s like most phases.  When I first started homebrewing my kick was IPA’s.  This will explain why 5 out of my last 6 brew sessions have been Belgian related.

This time I needed to tone down from my last 3 brew session of a Belgian Trippel (8.7%), Doppelbock (10%), and Grand Cru (7.5%).  Yes, I like big beers but not so much during football season.  I found I was pretty drunk by halftime.

As a guide I mimicked a recipe from BYO’s July-August 2008 issue called “Hopping Through Antwerp”.  The original recipe called for Belgian Pilsner & CaraVienne malt – which unfortunately I didn’t have access to.  I simply used 2-row American Pilsner & Veinne malt as substitutes.

So here’s the recipe I brewed:

9.5 # – 2-Row American Pilsner
1 #  – Vienna Malt
4 oz – Biscuit Malt – Belgian

38 g – Saaz (5.8% AA) at 60 min
28 g – Saaz (3.9% AA) at 0 min

For the mash – I added 1.5 tsp of Gypsum because I brew with RO Water (reverse osmosis).  My house has well water that is high in nitrates.  The mash had a rest of 60 minutes at 151 degrees.  After the hour rest I attempted to raise the temp to 168 degrees before sparging with 170 degree water.  Well – that little attempt wasn’t much success – so we’ll just say I sparged with 170-ish water.

I learned a great sparging technique from a friend that involves using aluminum foil instead of a sparging arm device or the back of a spoon.  You basically take a piece of aluminum foil (big enough to fit in your mash tun) and poke a bunch of holes in it for the water to drain through onto your grain bed.

WARNING:  You may end up with a fork in your head if you decide to create this handy devise when your wife is napping on the couch!  I noticed her standing in the doorway glaring at me.  I honestly thought she was about to turn into the Incredible Hulk-ina.

I was able to run-off about 7 gallons into my brew kettle and boiled it for 1 hour adding my hops at the times noted above.  Thanks to a couple more tips from my friend – I had:

  • No boil-overs when boiling 7 gallons in a 7.5 gallon pot (this is a first!)
  • Hops did not boil up all over the side of my brew pot
  • Skimmed foam off of top of wort to help with clarification

These simple techniques made the whole brewing session cleaner, easier to handle, and quite frankly more enjoyable!

Post boil and wort cooled – I ended up with 5.25 gallons of wort with an SG (starting gravity) of 1.045 – which is currently a alcohol potential of 5.8%.  For yeast I’m using the dry yeast by Fermentis – Safbrew S-33 – which should still lend some Belgian type flavors into the beer – hopefully not too over powering.

All in all – it was a great brew day despite the 28 degree weather!

Getting the REAL Module Settings!

Strangely – since we upgraded our directory websites (such as and to the newest DotNetNuke version (5.02.01) our custom site map wasn’t working anymore.  I am using theiFinity.DNN.GoogleSiteMapProvider – a wonderful FREE provider – to create my site maps dynamically.

Within my directory module – I was originally using ModuleSettings to save the settings.  As our requirements grew – I knew I needed to switch over to TabModuleSettings to store my settings.  I just now came to the realization that while most of the directory listings were showing up fine for Foremost Hunting; my homebrewers website Foremost Brewing – wasn’t showing my homebrewing related listings.

Low – and – behold – when you have a question about DotNetNuke – review the core source code and see what the Core Team did.  I followed through the PortalModuleBase and found the settings (both ModuleSettings & TabModuleSettings) were being gathered in the DotNetNuke.UI.Modules ModuleInstanceContext – which was my solution for fixing my directory module’s site map provider!

+2 for Ego!

It’s wonderful how the little decisions can impact your life.  Back in April I joined a Winemakers Club in Janesville (Milton), WI.  I’m pretty new to making wine – but have been home brewing beer for 4 years.

Being a member of the club has been a wonderful experience and I’ve learned a lot.  Most importantly – my wine doesn’t suck as bad as I thought!  Seriously – While most of the other’s wines have been deliciou – I’ve tried some other home vintner’s wine that tasted like they fermented dirt!

Low and behold – everyone in the club know’s I’m more of a home brewer than a home wine maker.  Hey, I’m still young (and poor) enough to realize that a quality micro-brew 6-pack is still cheaper & will last me longer (by at least an hour ;D) than any “comprable” bottle of wine.  So I drink beer more often than wine.

Moving this post along…

One of the members of the wine club (Dan D.) was contacted by the local newpaper about doing an article on people who brew their own beer.  Since Dan only makes wine – he passed along my contact information…. and that’s how this lucky homebrewer scored a newspaper interview!

Talk about an up-swing in motivation.  With a pending interview I realized what had just happened.  I was the interviewee – the expert per se. You know – so I had to practice brewing to make sure I get all the steps right in the interview.  And to practice – I had to make multiple batches of beer!  And to save money making multiple batches of beer – I had to buy grain in bulk!  And if I was gonna buy grain in bulk – I had to have a Barley Crusher!  (Hey, the logic worked on my wife ok)

Bingo!  A home brewery upgrade!  +1 to Ego!

I purchased the Barley Crusher online for crushing my (bulk order) grain when it was needed.  I also purchased a digital thermometer to make sure my mash water was correct.  And I had to purchase a digital scale for weighing out the grain….. logical of course.

In all – I brewed 3 times in 2 weekends.  Well actually 4 times.  The first batch had such strong wort runoff – that I had enough wort left over to make a second “weaker” style beer.  And trust me – the first batch has reached an ABV of about 10%!!

The Interview…

For the interview I brewed a Belgian Pale Ale beer.  It was great.  I had the grains mashing when the reporter and photographer arrived.  They took pictures and I answered questions…. you know… like an interview would go.

About a month later – when the Belgian Pale Ale was finally carbonated – I was contacted by Shelly Birkelo, the reporter and told the story was going to run the next day.  No doubt I was excited – I’ve been in the paper before – but for speeding tickets and such.  I was actually going to be in the newspaper for home brewing!!  What an honor and priviledge!

+1 more for EGO!

The next day – when I went to purchase the newspaper – there I was, larger than life on the FRONT PAGE!!  My interview was the feature article of the newspaper!

You can read the full article here on my website.

A big, big thank you goes out to Shelly Birkelo – the reporter for the Janesville Gazette who interviewed me.  Simply being interviewed about home brewing was beyond anything I’ve ever imagined – and her article has opened many new lines of communication between me and other home brewers in the area.  Thank you so very much Shelly!

Family Reunion or Beer-cation?

My mother’s side of the family meets up every year for a reunion.  We generally congregate in Alma, WI – which is north of La Crosse and on the Mississippi River if you’re familiar with Wisconsin.

I love fishing – but decided to forego the opportunity this year and decided to mix some work into this reunion.  No – not my normal programming work – I left the laptop at home!

Being a homebrewing “Beer-natic” – I decided to find some brew pubs, breweries, and wineries to visit on this trip.

First on the stop – Moosejaw Pizza & Dell’s Brewing Company in WI Dells, WI.  First off – the decor was excellent.  The building is a large 2-story log cabin.  The lighting is all kinds of antler chandeliers – and there’s a huge fireplace in the dining room.  No fire int the summer – but I just may have to take a visit in the fall/winter when it’s a roaring!

I had the 10 beer sampler – which was all of their beers.  My favorite was the Dells Chief Amber Ale (5% ABV) – which was the 2008 Silver Medal Winner at teh Great American Beer Festival.  A smooth and malty beer I’d have again and again.

The big surprise beer was an Apricot Ale (4.4% ABV).  It’s a light and refreshing ale – with the right amount of Apricot.  Not so much that you’ll forget where you left your purse (AH – but you shouldn’t HAVE a purse) – but enough for great flavor.  Think of it as one of the perfect summer hammock beers.

If you go to Moosejaw – make sure you get some of their wonderful Beer Bread!

Next stop on the way up was in Winona, MN at the Backwater Brewing Company.  I figured this place had to be great since there’s a bowling alley there too!  Their popcorn on the table was so good – you ate it even though you weren’t hungry!  Unfortunately – the beers didn’t seem to follow suit.  They had 4 beers on tap – but the focus seemed to be other commercial beers – which was a little disappointing to me.

Of course – eveyone’s taste in beer is different – so this was MY opinion.  Their stout was a very VERY light tasting stout.  Almost like a stout with training wheels.  Of course – that could be the goal since I know a ton of people who taste with their eyes – so it’s surprisingly light.  They had a pale ale that was actually quite good and belongs in a brew pub!  The other two were mediocre at best – I forgot them pretty quick – I think one was a wheat beer.

The next day my wife, child, and I drove to Mantorville, MN to visit with Tod Fyten – the brewer/owner of Mantorville Brewing Company.  I had contact Tod a week earlier about a tour – and even though he had a beer fest the next day in Chetek, WI – he still took time out to meet with me.

I spent close to 4 hours talking with Tod – it was a real treat!  He’s very involved and knowledgeable – and shared with me a lot of the little things homebrewers don’t think about when they try their hand at making commercial beer.  Tod’s family has been in and around the beer industry for 4+ generations – and as Tod stated, he’s “been around fermentation all my life.”

He showed us his small brewery about the size of a large 2+ car garage – and let us sample his beers.  It was very interesting to see the huge mash tun he had.  The copper tubing inside was set up much like my mash tun cooler at home.  Makes ya feel you’re doing something right with your beers.

There’s currently 3 beer produced by Mantorville Brewing Company.  A Stagecoach Amber Ale which was the first beer released and is available in 6 packs across S.E. MN. He also offers lighter golden ale that’s made with Honey malt which I thought was pretty tasty.  But the beer that had both my wife and I licking our chops was the cream stout!   A big thank you to Tod for the tour and the extra time to just talk with me.

If you’ve visited any of these brew pubs or microbrewies – or others  I’d like to hear what you thought about them!  Also feel free to leave comments about the various breweries and brew pubs you visit on Foremost Brewing !

Loving Beer and Life

It’s amazing how fast time can fly. Seriously — it’s days from June – I’m a heartbeat away from turning 33 – and my son is now 3 months old. Gawrsh!

I start to feel bad when I don’t accomplish as much as I would like in a week on – but this project is very much alive! Unfortunately – most of the improvements have not been with the homebrewing recipe database.

That project is far from dead also. I honestly get decent time to work on this wonderful homebrewing site – and it really motivates me as I see people register and/or use the site to contact local homebrewing supply shops, wineries, brew pubs, etc.

So what have I accomplished? Well, I’ve been implementing a lot of “sugar” for your homebrew shops, brew pubs, wineries, breweries, etc.

What do I mean? Well – the idea of is to help you find the tools you need for making great beer and wine and to help you get in touch with those that can help YOU!

I would appreciate if you would tell your local brew pub, homebrew supply shop, winery, etc about us. We are a FREE source for them to help advertise themselves. All of the listings you see in the directory has the ability for you LHBS owner to control – and add/edit the information best for them.

I want to help the homebrewers, and the home brew shops! It’s my hobby to help bring this to you!

To steal from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — “I have a dream” that one day American’s will turn from their lame taste of lite beer and enjoy the goodness and efforts of ones who care – and realize that light beer is to “beer” as rice cake is to cake!

Progress has been made – I promise!

I just noticed I haven’t posted here since late October — gosh! I’ve been working on the site at least 4 days a week! That and things have been extremely busy – my wife gave birth to our wonderful baby boy (our first child!) — and he was 2 months early!! So it has been busy and exciting!

Here’s some of what I have done in the meantime:

I’ve added all kinds of new features such as Homebrewing and Winemaking clubs.

I have completely revamped the custom search to be faster and more efficient.

I have begun to add homebrew and winemaking supply shop listings for Canada

Added a complete Social Networking type members section

Changed some layout and aesthetic features through out the site. This was evident from a forum thread at Midwest Supplies.

I appreciate the feedback. Especially since I’m not a real “graphics” guy. I usually dress myself unless it’s a nice occasion – then my wife dresses me!

I have re-embarked on the recipe database – this time – I figure – to start basic and we’ll work mor into it. I want to get something out to you and your feedback is welcomed!! Click here to share your thoughts on Foremost Brewing.

Improving the User Experience!

In an all out effort to bring ease of use to the masses – I’m glad to annouce that I have made some SWEET changes to the Foremost Brewing directory!

I’m in a lucky position to be able to combine my passions for the work of good and hopefully benefit you the homebrewer or home winemaker. Using my passion for making homemade wine and beer and eagerness to learn more about this great hobby – I created this website with the goal of bringing tools and information close together in a nice, easy to use format to the home winemaker and home brewer for FREE!

Being a web developer – I get to explore and learn new techniques and ideas to enrich the user experience in a “close to home” setting that will also benefit “my day job!” And by combining them both – I strive to gain a greater knowleged in both homebrewing and winemaking. Win Win Win for me! Win Win Win for you!

With the big picture in mind, I have taken many many small steps towards this goal and have ironed out a few wrinkles in the directories. In an attempt to make communication easier between you and various brew pubs, breweries, homebrew supply shops and wineries – I have implemented the “Comments” and “Contact” forms into the listing page. Just to make things smoother on your experience here at Foremost Brewing.

I have also added a nice “lightbox” effect to directory listings images (those that have images). My hopes is that these nice new features will help drive micro-breweries, wineries, and homebrew supply shops to Foremost Brewing to update their lsiting to bring you the best and most up to date information available!

Only places that have an email address on file will have a “Contact Us” form. And those emails are sent directly to the place intended – so any replies will go directly to your email!

I am pretty excited about these new changes as they have really sparked new creative ideas for both the homebrew beer recipe database and the wine recipe log database. They are coming, I Promise!!!

Wine Recipe Database and Other New Features!

I haven’t posted in almost 2 months – but the work on has been constant! I’ve added so many new features which include a wine recipe database, directory for homebrewing clubs and wine making clubs, and Google Map searching!

As you are well aware – is new – and so it takes time to build up our content and functionality of this site to reflect my original dream. A FREE Online homebrewing recipe calculator, brewing log, with access to other homebrew recipes, wine recipes mead recipes — as well as a directory of local homebrewing supply shops for making your own beer or making wine at home — and homebrewing clubs and wine making clubs to help you brewer/wine maker find a nearby club to join. I have made good on parts of that dream over the last two months.

Free Wine Recipe Database

The wine and mead recipe database is in place! I am new at making my own wine and mead – and wanted to have a place where I could share the recipes I have tried or created. If you have a recipe you want to share – you can share your wine and mead recipe with the community FREE! Simply register on the site and you can list your own wine recipes!

Google Map Custom Search

Going to visit the in-laws and want something to do while you’re there? Use the new Google Map Search to find brew pubs within 5 miles of where you’re going! It’s very easy to use and plugs into all of the listings we currently have available! New to homebrewing and want to find a local homebrew supply shop or find wine making supplies close to where you live? Use our custom Google Map search to find those homebrewing supply shops!

Homebrew Clubs & Wine Making Clubs

I have added pages for homebrewing clubs and wine making clubs. Do you belong to a brew club? Then list your homebrewing club or wine making club for free on and get more exposure and members for your brewing club!

There is so much more coming in the next few months on – so be sure to bookmark us and visit again!