Starting Over 2015

January 9th, 2015 by The Guru

So Happy New Year to all my readers, faithful and otherwise. Time to get back into the swing of things. New year, new start, new beer…

Keeping it as simple as possible, my first brew of 2015 contains only 5 ingredients (including water); 6 if the two different hops count separately. I owe this recipe to two great brewing friends, Walter Wallner (once and again of Austria) and my Tunbridge neighbor Carol Hall.

Several months ago, Brew Your Own ran an article about SMaSH beers – single malt and single hop – I brewed a SMaSH pale ale for my friend Rick’s summer party, using only North American 2-row malt and only Columbus hops – a 5 gallon corny was drained in about an hour. Then Carol came to a HOPS club meeting with a Vienna Lager she’d done with only Vienna malt – it was delicious, but not what you’d expect a Vienna to look like – nowhere near the color of, say, Negra Modelo or Dos Equis Amber, which are pretty much held up as the modern commercial examples. Then I remembered that Walter used to brew what he simply called a “märzen”, a typical Austrian lager – which was barely darker than a Czech Pilsner.

OK, I can do this – all Vienna, minimal quantities of noble hops, Mexican lager yeast (a nod to Modelo and the immigrant disciples of Anton Dreher in Imperial Mexico), and voilà…


  • 8.5 lbs. Weyermann Vienna malt
  • 1 oz. Tettnang hop pellets
  • 1 oz Saaz hop pellets
  • White Labs Mexican Lager yeast (WLP940)
  • 2/3 cup corn sugar (for priming)


  • Crush malt.
  • Heat 14 quarts water to 161°F.
  • Dough in crushed Vienna malt, mash at 150°F for 45 minutes.
  • Heat 11 quarts water to 170°F.
  • Begin runoff and sparge, collecting about 23 quarts sweet wort.
  • Bring to a boil, add Tettnang hops.
  • Boil 30 minutes, add Saaz hops.
  • Boil another 30 minutes, remove from heat and chill to 75°F.
  • Take a sample for your gravity reading, pour into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well.
  • Pitch yeast, seal and ferment at 65°F for ten days.
  • Rack to secondary, lager two months at 40 – 45°F.
  • Bring back to “room temperature” for 24 hours, prime with corn sugar and bottle.
  • Age in bottles for three weeks, the first at 65-68°F, the last two at 45°F.

OG: 1054

IBUs: 27

A deep golden lager, crystal clear, emphasis on the malty backbone but with a noticeable noble hop bite and flavor. The Vienna lager style first brewed in Vienna around 1841 by Anton Dreher, was darker than the beers of Munich and Pilsen but was probably not the amber/brown creature we know today. It was the primary style brewed by German/Austrian brewers who went to Mexico with the Emperor Maximilian, and it is primarily in Mexico that the style even exists today, it is very rare in Europe.


A Beer for trick-or-treaters?

October 31st, 2014 by The Guru

By popular demand/request – here’s the recipe for my successful (third) attempt at a Peanut Butter Cup Porter. First one went funky, second one just didn’t have it… This one, on the other hand, mmmmm.


  • 8 lb. 2-row pale malt
  • 1 lb. dark Munich malt
  • 1 lb. Belgian kiln-coffee malt
  • 1 lb. pale chocolate malt
  • 1 lb. biscuit malt
  • 8 oz. cara-pils malt
  • 4 oz. malted wheat
  • 4 oz. 30°L crystal malt
  • 1/2 lb. flaked oats
  • 2 oz. Carafa III malt
  • 1 oz. Mosaic hop pellets (12.7% aa)
  •  4 oz. de-oiled, dehydrated peanut butter powder
  • 2 oz. cocoa nibs
  • White Labs London Ale yeast (WLP 013)
  • 2 oz. peanut butter powder and 2 oz. cocoa nibs, soaked for three weeks in 3 oz. vodka


Mash: crush all grains. Mash at 155°F in 17 quarts water for 90 minutes. Runoff liquid and sparge grains with 15 quarts water at 169° F.

Boil: 60 minutes. 1/2 oz. Mosaic for 60 minutes, 1/2 oz. for 15 minutes. Add first dose of PBP and cocoa nibs at the same time as the second hop addition.

Chill, pour into sanitized primary fermenter, splashing well to add oxygen. Pitch yeast, seal and ferment 10 days at 65°F

Rack to secondary, add vodka-soaked PBP and cocoa nibs. Age three weeks.

Prime with 2/3 cup extra-light DME, bottle and condition three to four weeks.

OG: 1073

IBU’s: 35

I think the next time I brew this I would add more peanut butter powder – it’s there, mostly aroma, but it could be more pronounced, in my opinion.

Happy Halloween, 2014!



Another article…

February 7th, 2014 by The Guru

My friend Chris Fleisher writes a bi-weekly beer column (On Tap) in our local paper, the Valley News. I get quoted about every third article. This week’s article was about my late great friend Greg Noonan and the imminent release of Smuttynose Brewing’s “Noonan” Black IPA… Well done, Chris, and thanks!