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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Pumpkin Ale Tripleheader!

We are closing out October with a tripleheader of pumpkin beers. So strap in folks and let us dive in!

Saranac Pumpkin Ale was my backup, my second choice. At one point in my early craft beer career I only really drank Post Road Pumpkin Ale for my pumpkin beer of the season. Then came a time when I couldn't find it so I had to find an alternative. Saranac's version was the first one I stumbled upon so I picked it up. It was one of those moments that lead to me discovering there was a whole other world out there for pumpkin brews because while I enjoyed it, I wasn't quite satisfied with it. Now though it is time to approach it again and take a closer look at it. 

Saranac Pumpkin Ale also doesn't go for the dessert angle instead focusing on the fruit aspect, though some of those qualities are present. It poured a clear copper color with a small tannish head. Allspice and cloves standout on the spice side of things, but they aren't overpowering. It is decently hopped but they are in the background. It is light on the palette, and finishes fairly dry with minimal aftertaste. Overall it is an easy drinker and not a challenging pumpkin ale. It comes in at an ABV of 5.4%. All this adds up to make Saranac Pumpkin Ale a good candidate to introduce folks to the joys of the style. 

Here's the "party line" on Saranac Pumpkin Ale:

Saranac Pumpkin Ale is brewed with Pumpkin, Cinnamon, Allspice, Cloves, Ginger and Vanilla. Look for a full-body and amber color. We're sure you'll enjoy this special brew!

Our second beer is RJ Rockers Gruntled Pumpkin Ale out of South Carolina. It poured a clear, dark orange color with a small white head. It is moderately carbonated and has a noticeable spice up front attitude. There is a spiced, sweet nature to this brew and those characteristics mask the pumpkin on the front end of things holding back that flavor until it suddenly appears at the end of the drink.  The beer finishes fairly dry with a lingering hop bitter aftertaste. This is one of those beers that improves as it warms up with the flavors becoming more full and rich. It comes in at a full and well-hidden 7% ABV. It is a solid effort by RJ Rockers which is a pleasant surprise. This isn't a beer to use to introduce the style, too many disparate elements going on that could be a turn off for novices. 

There is no "party line" on RJ Rockers Gruntled Pumpkin Ale so here is a second opinion instead by It's a Blog about the Beer

Our third and final beer is Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale out of Pennsylvania. It poured a clear light brown color with a small off white head. This is a big pumpkin pie style beer and it is another beer that really comes into its own when it is just shy of room temperature. You notice the big spices right out the gate. The smell will get in the nose even before you take a drink with the nutmeg and cloves barging their way to the front and the cinnamon tagging along. The pumpkin flavor is there but it stays wrapped up with the spices, never quite breaking free to establish its independence. It finishes dry with a spiced aftertaste that remains present for several minutes after. It comes in at a noticeable 8% ABV. I would recommend this at room temperature so the flavors and scents can really bloom, but this is a one bottle beer. Eventually the spice profile of this proves overpowering and starts to tire out the palette. While it is a very good beer, it is not a beer I would recommend as a starting point, and I would also be hesitant to promote it to anyone who wasn't a big fan of spices. If you pass those two hurdles though this is well worth checking out. 

Here is the "party line" on Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale:

Like a pyramid for a pharaoh, we set out to make a bold monument for The King of the Pumpkins! This 8.0% ABV pumpkin ale is the mother of all pumpkin ales. It is heartier, spicier, and more “caramelly” and “pumpkiny” than its faint brethren! We have added lots of pumpkin along with cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor. This truly is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Perfect finisher on a cool autumn night, or match it up with a slice of pumpkin pie and fresh whipped cream.
Happy Halloween everyone!

Welcome to your weekend: Spooky Halloween Edition!

Brought to you by spooky plastic pumpkins with
special guest Saranac Pumpkin Ale.
Also remember to check in today for a special Untappd badge!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Beer Battles Breast Cancer: A Look at Pretty in Pink

A slight detour today with the review. Instead of looking at some more pumpkin ales we are going to look at a beer brewed for a good cause. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and many organizations and events have been taking place to raise awareness of this insidious and perfidous disease. I'm proud to say that the Viriginia and DC brewing community is doing their part too.

Four brewsters, Becky Jordan of Lost Rhino, Megan Parisi of Bluejacket, Kristi Mathews-Griner of Vintage 50, and Rachael Cardwell of Hardywood Park, put their minds together and came up with a beer to represent the brewing community's efforts to support breast cancer research. The end result of their collaboration is Pretty in Pink: Awareness Ferments Hope, a saison style beer amplified by pomegranate and hibiscus.

The brilliant brains behind a beautiful beer.
(L-R: Becky Jordan, Kristi Mathews-Griner, Rachael Cardwell, and Megan Parisi)
I stopped in at the Churchkey in DC earlier this week for one of the tappings. The beer filled the tulip glass with a hazy pink hue, an appropriate color for its cause. On the drink the pomegranate and hibiscus blend exceptionally well with the tangy flavors found in most saisons. It finishes dry with a bitter tartness retained in the mouth. This actually works in the beer's favor, amplifying the fruity nature on the next drink. Overall this went down smoothly and way too quickly. This is a wonderful fruity, refreshing, and drinkable beer that should appeal to a wide audience. It has an understated ABV of 5.8%. 

Part of the proceeds of the sales of Pretty in Pink will be donated to the Massey Cancer Center in Richmond to continue their mission of research and treatment of all types of cancer. 

The initial 80 barrels have sold out quickly to the drinking establishments in the region. Another batch is in the works and will be making its way to shelves in 22 ounce bottles during the holiday season. 

Pretty in Pink is a well-crafted beer for a notable cause. Keep your eyes open for this and pick up a bottle or two when you get the chance. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Beer Recipe: Quick Beer Bread

Looking for a easy and delicious way to cook with beer? This beer recipe for a Quick Beer Bread is quick, easy, and very tasty.

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bottle light or dark beer (but not stout), cold or at room temperature, but not flat

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the beer and fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center and all the way to the bottom of the pan comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes.

Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before un-molding to cool completely on the rack.

Download a recipe card here:

Questions? Comments? Please write below, or contact the author at:

Beer Recipe: Bavarian Style Mustard

Want to cook with beer? Here is a great beer recipe that is easy to make at home, and delicious. It's homemade mustard, great with sausages, pretzels, and anything you would find at Oktoberfest. Also - this is an expensive beer lovers gift you can make for your friends this holiday season.

Here's how to make a simple Bavarian style beer mustard:

  • 1/2 cup whole brown mustard seed
  • 1 cup beer, ambers, browns, or pale ales work best
  • 1 cup dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Combine mustard seed and beer in a medium glass or plastic bowl (nothing metal!) and let stand overnight. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and blend until almost smooth (mustard will be grainy). Add the dry mustard, sugar, and salt; blend well.

Place in a jar with tight-fitting lid. Age in a cool dark place 2 to 8 weeks. Store in a cool dark place.

Download the recipe card here:

Below are a few pictures I took during the process. Please let us know if you have a favorite homemade mustard recipe, especially if it's a beer recipe.


For jars, I sanitized some small canning jars I had around the house. These are pint sized, and I simply boiled them in water for 10 minutes.

Here is what the seeds look like after soaking them in beer overnight:

And this is the consistency of the mustard after grinding it in my food processor:

Monday, October 22, 2012

10 Beer links for the latter part of October

We haven't done the beer news lately so let's dive in!

In the News!
(Original found here)

Imagine the Drunken Emails You’ll Send With a Beer Can Keyboard (
This could be a case where you could become to drunk to type.

Pink saison and hot beer (Washington Post)
The release for this is at the Church Key Wednesday evening. I'll be there.

Latino Beer Sales Hint At Economic Recovery Among Hispanics (Huffington Post)
Beer consumption and purchase is a fascinating economic indicator. One day we will have to explore it.

Craft Brewers Global – Salone del Gusto (
Now this would be an awesome event to talk my way into.

A little beer is there in the Brahms, says Grand Rapids Symphony’s guest pianist (
Time for a bit of culture. Also I bet Brahms like a pint or two.

Tacoma dispensary busted for marijuana beer (Seattle Times)
I wonder what the flavor profile is on this.

County parks plan would use beer garden money for maintenance projects (Business Journal)
Beer in service of government. This could be a Parks and Rec storyline.

More Filipino women beer drinkers than men, says Radio Veritas study (Inquirer News)
Some interesting statistics in this.

Brown’s beer: Dodgy pints are the Achilles heel of the craft beer revival (London Loves Business)
Quality control of the product is important. Bad pints are bad business!

Brooks on Beer: The 10 most common beer defects (San Jose Mercury News)
But if you do get a bad pint this primer will help guide on why it sucks.

In site news!

Look forward to a final wrap up of GABF and what it all means, more reviews on pumpkin ales, and a look at some ciders. Also part 1 of the Mother Earth Brewing Company interview will be up at the end of the week. This coming Saturday I'll be at the Annapolis Craft Beer and Music Festival, if you see me say hi. Stay tuned and thanks for stopping in!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's a Pumpkin Ale Doubleheader!

Pumpkins are a big deal in America at this time of year, you would be hard pressed to go anywhere without seeing them or some reference to them. That ubiquitous nature is what made pumpkin ale a viable entity for the colonists in the 18th century. Pumpkins offered a cheap alternative for brewers to add different flavor to their beer. This time we are going to look at two firsts. The first candidate is Post Road Pumpkin Ale by Brooklyn Brewery. This was the beer that introduced me to the joys of pumpkin ale. Ever since then I try to enjoy at least of bottle of it every year around this time. I freely admit it is a favorite of mine so this first review will be a bit biased. 

It poured clear copper color with a small white head that dwindled down to a thin sheet across the top of the glass. It has a decent nose with the nutmeg standing up, waving its hands around to be noticed. It has above average carbonation and the effervescence helps promote the spices of the beer. The most notable thing about this beer is unlike other pumpkin ales this one is not going for the pumpkin pie effect but rather more raw pumpkin taste. On the drink the spices flash up front on the swallow. The pumpkin rides along throughout the whole drink, a constant companion from start to finish. Another element of this beer that differs it from the pumpkin pie crowd is that it is not very sweet. It finishes dry with only a mild hop bitterness with the spices slowly fading out. This is a pumpkin ale that can be sessioned, it comes in at a drinkable 5% ABV and it is not overwhelming with its presence.

Here is the "party line" on Post Road Pumpkin Ale:
Early American colonialists, seeking natural ingredients for brewing ales, turned to pumpkins, which were plentiful, flavorful and nutritious. Blended with barley malt, pumpkins became a commonly used beer ingredient. Post Road Pumpkin Ale brings back this tasty tradition. Hundreds of pounds of pumpkins are blended into the mash of each batch, creating a beer with an orange amber color, warm pumpkin aroma, biscuity malt center, and crisp finish.
While Post Road was my first pumpkin ale, our other candidate tonight was the first publicly available pumpkin ale back when craft brewing was still in its infancy in the 1980s. Part of the story line on this beer was that it used a version of George Washington's pumpkin ale recipe. This beer may have started out as a novelty but it has hung around for almost three decades and helped usher in a thriving category of beer.

Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale poured a slightly hazy dark orange color with a rapidly dissipating white head. On the drink the pumpkin pushes to the front followed by a slightly sour taste. The spices in this beer are not overt, instead hanging out on the edges flashing up for a cameo on the swallow. It finishes very dry with a quickly vanishing raw pumpkin aftertaste. That said once you start on this beer it quickly becomes an easy drinker. Each drink builds on the previous one. This beer also does not subscribe to the pumpkin pie variety but stays focused on the pumpkin itself, even more so than the Post Road. If you want a pumpkin beer with little spice presence then this is the beer to choose. It comes in at 5.5% ABV.

Right now it looks like Buffalo Bill's Brewery's website is currently under construction so here is a second opinion instead.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Virginia craft brewing has arrived! A recap of the Great American Beer Festival Awards Ceremony

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
toasts the assembled craft brewers.
This past Saturday I attended the Great American Beer Festival Awards ceremony held in the Wells Fargo Theater in downtown Denver where the Brewers Association handed out the medals and awards for the judging portion of the festival. Charlie Papazian, the godfather of American homebrewing, and president of the Brewers Association greeted and awarded each brewer or brewing team that was privileged to be called up to the stage.

One of the cool stories of the awards ceremony was watching the east coast beer scene really come into its own. Devils Backbone Brewing, by any definition, kicked ass and stole the show taking home 8 medals (2 golds) and small brewpub and brewpub brewer of the year award. With their strong showing at the Virginia Beer Cup and now here, I think we can safely crown them heir-apparent to the brewing crown of Virginia. While they may sit on the throne now there are still usurpers waiting in the wings to seize it. My local, Port City Brewing, took a bronze with Monumental IPA and Blue Mountain Barrel House (Devils Backbone's neighbor up the road) bronze medaled with Local Species, Mad Fox Brewing  and Rock Bottom - Arlington also grabbed some nice shiny hardware.  Half the Virginia breweries that entered the competition took home at least a medal. While Virginia made a strong showing so to did other breweries in the region. DuClaw from Maryland medaled and so too did the District's own DC Brau. To the south, Mother Earth Brewing in North Carolina grabbed a bronze and to the north, Troegs of Pennsylvania ran away with a few medals and the mid-sized brewery and brewer of the year award. A bit closer to my heart was the showing by Wisconsin breweries. Old favorites of mine such as New Glarus, Stevens Point Brewery, and Central Waters also took home medals. 

Devils Backbone Brewing of Virgina stole the show. 
The competition had 84 categories with a total of 4338 entries by 666 breweries (This is the real reason why Devils Backbone won! It's a conspiracy) and was judged by 185 beer industry professionals from 11 countries over three days. Take a moment to think about that because that is a lot of beer and a good portion of it has only recently emerged on the scene in the last ten years or less. As for the beer itself, IPAs still dominate with the American-Style India Pale Ale category having over 200 entries submitted and the Imperial IPA category had over 100 entries. As one brewer said sarcastically while receiving his medal, "These IPAs are just a fad."  Other categories that were deep with entries were Herb and Spice beer, American Pale Ales, American-Style Strong Pale Ales, and surprisingly the Wood and Barrel Aged category.

The big picture is this. There is no better place in the world right now for beer. Time and again it was said that America is brewing the best beer in the world. American craft beer can go toe to toe, pound for pound against any country in the world not only in beer quality but also for sheer diversity. It is hard to refute that when you look at the strong showings by breweries across the country in all the categories.  

On a side note, one of the things that was interesting to note was audience reaction to several of the winners.  Of particular interest was how former crafts who had been bought up by macro companies were treated. Both Goose Island and Leinenkugels appeared to get the cold shoulder with only perfunctory applause from the audience when their medals were announced. Meanwhile Pabst got a rousing applause from the crowd for its gold medal in American-Style Lager. Make what you will about that. 

Final results can be found here.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Greatest Beer Show on Earth! Part 1

Overwhelming, loud, relentless. These are the thoughts that cross my mind as I walk through the throngs of crowds crisscrossing in front of me from one beer station to another. Cries go up everytime someone drops their plastic tasting glass. All I can think is this is a bit insane, but absolutely wonderful at the same time. 

Hours later I started writing this while down in the media room on the floor below the convention hall. Even here behind closed doors the dull roar of the crowd above can still be heard, pulsating and droning on. Plainly put, the Great American Beer Festival is simply, "Beer as Spectacle."

 Merriam-Webster defines spectacle as:
"something exhibited to view as unusual, notable, or entertaining; especially : an eye-catching or dramatic public display"
This is what GABF is for craft beer, a dramatic public display on what craft beer is, was, and what it can be. The love of beer here both by brewers and participants is infectious. The mad scramble from one station to another, the deep conversations, and the celebration of a good thing. 

This year there were 570 plus breweries and brewpubs on the floor with over 2700 beers being poured. For shear size alone this is intimidating. My original plan was quickly dashed to pieces and I just rambled through the lanes tasting known entities in my first session. Big hits of the Friday evening session were Stone, Cigar City, Russian River, Dogfish Head, and Bear Republic. The lines for them were long but moving quickly. A majority of the stations I passed had minimal or no wait though and an attendee could quickly bounce among them tasting what they liked. With a one ounce taster you could easily try a lot of things without losing your senses.

I wouldn't go so far to say fortunes are won or lost here, but medaling here will make a difference. Fortune is won by almost every brewery or brewpub who is participating. The exposure to tens of thousands craft beer fanatics is priceless for these breweries, putting unknowns on the radar, and reconfirming the stature of others. For many of the attendees here this may be the greatest beer experience they have ever had. It is very cool to be part of this. 

Stay tuned for more updates!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Jolly Good Fellows preview of the Great American Beer Festival

The Great American Beer Festival kicked off properly today though events have been running all week.  Tomorrow I will be experiencing it for myself. Truth be told I have no idea what I will be walking into. The last time I was at the Colorado Convention Center I was briefing Department of Defense personnel and allied foreign nationals from various Ministries of Defense about the power of social media in the environmental arena. Funny little thing about that experience; it indirectly lead to the creation of Jolly Good Fellows. So in a weird way heading back to Denver and the Colorado Convention Center in particular is actually the end of a journey for me. The concepts I laid out two and half years ago have seen fruition in a beer blog that I started as a side project but has grown by leaps and bounds. GABF is, in a way, a victory lap for me personally.

Tomorrow's adventure is easily one of the coolest things Jolly Good Fellows has done yet. There will be a lot of ground to cover but I have three sessions to do it. Here is the basic plan, find some kick ass stories, take a lot of pictures, taste new and interesting beers, meet new folks, and share the 3 tenets with anybody who will listen. You can expect a few articles, plenty of photos, and updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Untappd. I'm open to recommendations, if there is something you want to know about then let me know and I will see what I can do. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It's pumpkin time! An intro and a review.

We have reached that time of the year where finally the temperature appears to be cooling down. Autumn is here not only date wise but weather-wise also. That means it is time for an all around original American style brew, pumpkin ale. The first recorded recipe of pumpkin ale dates from 1771, but with beer being such a big part of colonial life it is easy to argue that resourceful colonists had being brewing with this plentiful fall fruit many decades earlier.

Pumpkin ales today take more of their influence from pumpkin pie than just the fruit itself, using a variety of spices found in the dessert to inform the brew. No worries though, the pumpkin itself is still the leading actor. Pumpkin ales vary quite a bit, the only real constant is the pumpkin itself, but even how or when it is applied to the brew kettle can be different from brewer to brewer.

Our first on the docket is Pumking by Southern Tier Brewing. This is a beer I have been wanting to try now for a few years and now I finally get the chance. Let's dive in.

For starters, the aroma of this beer is fantastic especially if you love pumpkin pie. On the first whiff it smells like the dessert and that aroma stays with the ale through the entire glass. It is very pleasing. In appearance this beer has a clear orange, copper color with small, quickly disappearing light tan head. On the drink it starts off smooth but quickly balloons into a big bundle of spice and flavors in the mouth. It has a light sweetness that eventually gives way to a dry, mildly bitter finish. This beer is a good study on putting all the pieces together, it has the right aroma, the right look, and the right appearance. All these add up to a unified and enjoyable drinking session.

That said, this is a one bottle beer. It is big, complex, and tasty, but I wouldn't want to drink multiples of this in row. First it comes in at a very deceptive 8.6% ABV. All the spice and flavors mask the alcohol very well but it does pack a bit of a punch. Second, it is a bit of a spice bomb and after awhile all those flavors start becoming a bit of a drag. Break out a bottle or two of these for a fall dinner party and use it as an aperitif in four ounce tasters and you have yourself a sure fire winner. One recommendation, I enjoyed this beer more as it warmed up and more character developed.

Here is the "party line" on Southern Tier Pumking:
All Hallows Eve is a time of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world, and when magic is most potent. It is thought that we harness this magic to brew our powerful pumpkin ale. Not so, but it is with great respect of the magic of their trade that our brewers produce this fine beer. Take a whiff of this complex ale and your journey has just begun. At first sip, a magical spell will bewitch your taste buds, yet another victim enraptured by the Pumking.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Beer links by the baker's dozen!

Thirteen beer links strung together for your enjoyment. Let's get to it!

In the News

Civil War beer returns to market (Washington Post)
The Civil War was the first historical event to capture my imagination when I was a kid. I will track down all 9 of these as they become available.
I could have went with bull testicles but I figured
I would keep it classy.  (Original found here)

Revival of historic beer (Mountain-Ear Newspaper)
Historical beers always have a place in my heart. I think it may be time to have a favorite historical beer group post.

Colorado brewery creates beer flavored with bull testicles; Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout is made with 25 lbs of roasted bull gonads. (New York Daily News)
When April Fool's jokes become reality. I will be trying this beer at GABF because you have to try every beer at least once.

Great American Beer Festival 2012: GABF Celebrates 31 Years Of Great American Craft Beer (PHOTOS) (Huffington Post)
I can’t tell you how excited I that's not true, I can and I will at the bottom of this post.

7 Beers to Try at the Great American Beer Festival (The Daily Meal)
I’m looking forward to everyone of these even the last one which may take some hustling.

Maryland Beer Fest coming right up (Baltimore Sun)
Fall beerfests are going on everywhere!

Snallygaster Brings Rare Fall Beers to Yards Park (Washington City Paper)
This would have been my alternative if GABF wasn't on the calendar.

Beer tourism: How far would you travel for a brew?
For sure to here.

Beer Bombs (
I always drank the beer in Fallout games because as long as you had RadAway you were ok.

The West Bank fetes Oktoberfest (Deutsche Welle)
This makes me happy. I love the unifying power of beer.

Reduced purchasing power hits beer consumption (Business Day)
More of a global perspective but things like this are scary for macro breweries.

Sustainable agriculture tackles challenges in beer production (The Guardian)
This is worth taking the time to read and understand what is necessary to continue to produce our favorite beverage because it can be environmentally intensive.

Alabama poised for craft beer boom (
I first noticed this when I was at the Music City Brewers Fest in July. The southern scene continues to rise.

In Site News

With Oktoberfest month now finally over we launch into pumpkin beers and ciders for the remainder of October. For me those those styles always shout out fall to me both in appearance and flavor. The colder, crisper days play to the apple and pumpkin flavors. Expect our first pumpkin ale review tomorrow night.

The big news though is the Great American Beer Festival which I will be covering as a one man army out in Denver from Friday till close on Saturday. I am beyond excited. Look for my preview on Thursday and stay tuned with updates on Untappd, Twitter, and Facebook. You can link in with all of those by clicking on the widget in the top right corner. As always thanks for stopping in!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Brewing Beer as a Holiday Gift

I know what you are thinking... how can I possibly think about the holidays when it's the beginning of October!? Well, friends, if you want to brew some beer for your friends, you are going to want to start thinking about it. On average, it takes approximately 6 - 8 weeks for a beer to properly ferment, carbonate, and do it's general "beer thing." That means we should start brewing in mid-October to make Christmas.

This year I'm testing out a recipe for a spiced pumpkin ale. I'm starting by making a one gallon batch to test it out. The pumpkin beer recipe is below. It's a simple homebrew recipe, and great holiday beer to share as a beer gift, or just for your own celebrations.

  • 1 lb. 2 Row Malt
  • 8 oz. 2 Row Pale Ale
  • 8 oz. Crystal 60L
  • 0.25 oz Northern Brewer Hops (@45 minutes)
  • 0.50 oz Northern Brewer Hops (@5 minutes)
  • 1/2 Package of Muntons Dry Yeast
  • 2 lbs. Pumpkin (pie pumpkins are preferred, but a regular ole Jack O' Lantern works, too)
  • Spices: 2 cinnamon sticks, several whole cloves of garlic, fresh ginger (peel the ginger and slice it), whole all spice, 2 teaspoons dry nutmeg (@30 minutes)
    • Place all the spices in a teabag or, as I did, just use a grain bag (since the spices do not go in until after the grains come out, I just dumped the grains from my bag and reused it for the wort) 

To begin this homebrew recipe, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Peel the pumpkin using a pairing knife or vegetable peeler. Cut in half and clean out the guts. Chop roughly into 2 inch squares, place on the lightly greased baking pan, drizzle with oil, and roast until it's fork tender, but not mushy.

While the pumpkin is roasting, heat 3 quarts of water to 170 degrees.

Place the grains and the cooked pumpkin in two separate grain bags. When the water is at 170 degrees steep both together for 45 minutes, keeping the water temp between 145 - 155 degrees. Stir every fifteen minutes.

While grains and pumpkin steeps, heat 1 gallon of water in another pot to 160 degrees. After 45 minutes of steeping, take the grains and pumpkin out of the pot and rinse the grains with the 1 gallon of water (I placed a metal strainer over my pot and used that for sparing).

Boil wort for 45 minutes, adding hops and spices according to schedule above. At this point you can add 3 tablespoons of brown sugar or molasses, but this is entirely optional. I didn't use it this time (and didn't list ingredients above), but have read several recipes that do add sugar during the wort process.

After 45 minutes, take off the heat and cool to 70 - 80 degrees using a ice bath or a wort chiller. Pour cooled wort into a sanitized one gallon jug, adding more water if necessary. Place cap on top and shake to aerate. Take cap off, pitch yeast. Top with water, if necessary, and place stopper with blow off tube at top.

Let ferment for two weeks (don't worry about second fermentation) and bottle. No need to use corn sugar for carbonation, it will be fine as is.

Enjoy, and let us know if you try it at home or have your own recipe!


Questions? Comments? Please write below, or contact the author at:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

We review Oktoberfest beers from the 2 largest American owned breweries

These are the last two beers we will be looking at for Oktoberfest. The candidates tonight come from the two largest solely American owned breweries, Boston Beer Company and Yuengling Brewery.

Samuel Adams Octoberfest is the baseline for American craft Oktoberfestbier. Others may have brewed it earlier, but Sam Adams made it popular. It is ubiquitous through out the United States this time of year. Go to your local supermarket or beer store and you should be able to find it on the shelves.  If an American beer drinker has drank a US craft brewed märzen or Oktoberfestbier then chances are pretty good it was Sam Adams. Let's take a closer look at this lager.

Samuel Adams Octoberfest poured a clear bronze color with a small, rapidly vanishing, tan head. Carbonation on this beer is about average. It is lighter than expected in the beginning of the drink but picks up some fullness in flavor on the saw the flavor comes out after. The roasted malt is noticeable upfront but it gives way to a toffee-like sweetness. The hop presence is relegated to the background but it does yeoman's work keeping everything on keel. It finishes with a mild roasted, bittersweet aftertaste that slowly fades away. It is well balanced but is lighter in alcohol than a traditional oktoberfestbier coming in at 5.3%ABV. Overall it is decent märzen-style beer. It is not overbearing or pushy, just a mild-mannered märzen that works well to introduce people to the style.

Here is the "party line" on Samuel Adams Octoberfest:
Brewed with five varieties of malted barley for a big, rich flavor. 
The first thing you notice when pouring a glass of this seasonal beer is the color. Samuel Adams® Octoberfest has a rich, deep reddish amber hue which itself is reflective of the season. Samuel Adams Octoberfest masterfully blends together five roasts of malt to create a delicious harmony of sweet flavors including caramel and toffee. The malt is complimented by the elegant bitterness imparted by the Bavarian Noble hops. Samuel Adams Octoberfest provides a wonderful transition from the lighter beers of summer to the heartier brews of winter.

The final oktoberfestbier we are looking at tonight is by the oldest American brewery Yuengling. For Yuengling, brewing Oktoberfest has been a relatively new venture with it only readily available for the last two years outside of the brewery walls. This year in particular has seen there a much bigger push to get this on more shelves throughout the region.

It also poured a clear bronze color, though the head lasted longer, slowly dwindling down to small sheen across the top of the beer. The hop is more noticeable in this, leading on the drink and staying in the forefront all through the aftertaste. It strikes me as a beer that is out of balance. The other characteristics you would expect to find, the roasted malt, the caramel/ toffee taste are secondary or even tertiary actors in this beer. They don't really get a chance to shine until briefly showing up in the aftertaste but even then the scene is stolen by the hop who lingers around an otherwise clean finish. That said, don't mistake this for a hoppy beer because it is not. The hop just happens to be the most dominate feature in a relatively mild concoction. You can tell this beer is a Yuengling. They, like Sierra Nevada, have always had a certain quality that carries through all their brews, the Oktoberfest is no exception.  My take is this is a beer that needs to be tweaked a bit to find some balance in its flavors. It has potential but it is not there yet. If you are a Yuengling fan though, odds are you will probably enjoy this as it is. It comes in at a below average (for a märzen) 5.4% ABV.

Surprisingly there is no "party line" on Yuengling Oktoberfest.

Beer links to start off October right!

And now back to your regular scheduled programming.

(Original here)
In the News!

SD tribe’s lawsuit against beer stores dismissed (CBS News)
This will move to state courts and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

The 5 Best Beer Cities in America (GQ)
No Portland, San Diego, or even Asheville? I think the fix is in! Discuss in the comments.

Drink a Beer, Save an Endangered Species (Washington Beer Blog)
I always enjoy supporting good causes while drinking a good brew.

N.Y. beer, wine ‘summit’ could boost several industries (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
Both areas have scene a lot of growth over the years. Promoting them makes sense.

America’s Best Beer Gardens (Food & Wine)
I now have a couple of new places to check out!

Craft beer blossoming as an economic development driver (Kalamazoo Gazette)
Over and over I keep seeing articles of craft beer survivability during the recession. It makes me happy.

Beer and Metal: Bourbon Barrel Aged La Petite Mort by Central Waters and Local Option (Chicago Reader)  Central Waters Brewery continues to expand and keep their creative edge. The label on this beer is pretty cool.

U.S. Beer Consumption Continues Decline (CSP Daily News)
The above is a slightly misleading title, another take is craft beer consumption continues to rise.

Heineken Triumphs in Asia Beer Deal (Wall Street Journal)
It was a long drawn out fight to get Tiger, it may have been more costly than they realize.

Taplister Cracks Open Craft Beer Discovery With New Online Social Online Social Platform (MarketWire) This is a pretty cool.

What Your Beer Says About Your Politics (National Journal)
Graphs and charts! Expect more on this later this week.

Belleville woman arrested after calling 911 to report boyfriend drank her beer (
Sometimes I weep for my country. Quick PSA announcement: Don't abuse the 911 system!

In Press Releases!

As the site continues to grow we have started to be contacted from various vendors. Every so often I will be posting things if I think they are entertaining or useful. The below blurb is from Mark of the RankPop Marketing Team in support of their client Kegerators

...I have a client with an awesome (and rather funny) Keg Calculator that calulates how much beer you should purchase for a party based on the number of people and how much each of the people are likely to drink. Here's the link. I was hoping that if you liked it, you wouldn't mind sharing it with your readers by mentioning it.
I may need to use this to help plan my 20 year high school reunion in Wisconsin this next summer! 

In Site News!

Oktoberfest marches on to its inevitable conclusion and we are riding it out. Expect a few more Oktoberfest related articles and then get ready to shift into pumpkin brews. As always thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Addressing conflict of interest

Our newest team member Craig has recently started working at Port City Brewery and while his recent Port City Oktoberfest review is sincere and was published before he started working at the brewery it could be perceived as a conflict of interest.  I concur with Craig's article, Port City Oktoberfest is a quality märzen style beer, but I have made the decision to pull the review. 

Jolly Good Fellows and its staff does not benefit financially from the breweries we cover, it allows us to comment freely on  the beer scene. We are proud that Craig has the opportunity to be part of the brewing industry that he is passionate about and support his decision to join the Port City team. As the editor and publisher of JGF I  want to ensure that we continue to provide an objective view of craft beer from the perspective of people who enjoy it.  

Thank you for your continued support.