How to make Pumpkin “Barleywine”

Technically, it is still summer. But based on the beer shelves full of pumpkin beers, breweries would have us believe fall came weeks ago. Love it or hate it, pumpkin beer is here.

It seems from twitter and other social media that people have some pretty intense opinions about the pumpkin beer thing. This includes me.

First of all, I am most definitely of the opinion that pumpkin anything should be reserved for when it is actually fall, so I’m always irked to see pumpkin beers out in August. What is that about!?

I’m just not ready for summer to be over I guess.

In terms of the beer itself, there are those people that think of pumpkin beer as a well-spiced (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.) fall ale. I am personally of the opinion that pumpkin beers should taste like rich, sweet pumpkin, with just a hint of spice. So for me, Southern Tier Pumpking, a favorite of many, is gross. Again, just my opinion, this is a blog after all.

Of course you *could* spice this beer to high heaven if you want, but then we couldn’t be friends. Just kidding! Sort of.

We decided that rather than add pumpkin pie spice or the like, we’d use a Trappist Belgian yeast for some extra fruity and spicy goodness. (If you ARE going to spice this beer up, don’t tell me about it I’d probably use a non-Belgian yeast that can tolerate high ABV (like WLP001). Up to you. Technically, per Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines, using the Trappist yeast makes this beer more a Belgian specialty ale, since we’re using a Belgian yeast for this “barleywine,” and adding pumpkin too, but whatevs.


So let’s talk about basic barleywine. Continue reading How to make Pumpkin “Barleywine”

Off Flavored Beer, Lessons from Scott at Blank Slate

Ever drink a beer and think to yourself, hm, there’s something wrong here? Maybe it was a beer you’ve had a hundred times, but this time, it just didn’t taste right. You couldn’t place what exactly it was that tasted off, but it was definitely off. Off flavored beer is an all too common occurrence, one which I have been trying my best to learn a lot more about in preparation for the cicerone exam (you know, that “beer sommelier” exam that you are all bored to tears of hearing me talk about).

Well luckily, a few weeks back, I was having a discussion with my friend Scott over at Blank Slate Brewing company all about my concerns, fears, and potential knowledge gaps for the upcoming exam, when Scott, who happens to be a certified cicerone himself, volunteered to host an off-flavor seminar for myself and a few other bloggers and homebrewers.

Scott is awesome. He first won my favor last year when he let me tour the brewery and answered all of my crazy beer and brewing questions without even knowing me (you can find that post by clicking here). Plus I don’t think I know anyone else who would take hours out of their crazy busy lives, on a Sunday, no less, to teach a few beer nerds about foul, off flavored beer. But, there we found ourselves, yesterday afternoon at Blank Slate, learning all about various beer afflictions.

Continue reading Off Flavored Beer, Lessons from Scott at Blank Slate

From apples to hard cider, a How-To

I’m finally back from vacation (and have even passed the subsequent period of vacation-is-over depression), and am extremely psyched to tell you all about our apple cider adventures!

A lot of beer drinkers poo-poo cider thinking that it is just a too-sweet girl beverage. Well as a savory-toothed, beer loving chick, I’m here to tell you that a well-made, dry hard cider is completely delicious and gender neutral. Mike and I have been talking about making just such a hard apple cider for at least a year or two. We finally decided to do some real research a couple months ago, and were pleasantly surprised at how easy it sounded. We learned that to make the best artisanal ciders, all you need is fresh, unpasteurized apple cider, and the appropriate yeast. Continue reading From apples to hard cider, a How-To