More Cake..

I came across these old cake photos today. One of a beer glass stout cake I made years back, and another one of a cake that was excellent, however the frosting attempt was my first crack at fondant and looks like it was destined for an episode of 'nailed it!'


Reader Contributions - Michael's Refrigerator

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From time to time readers of my blog reach out with questions about Philcos or share some of their projects. Back in 2015 Michael had shared his project with me along with the before pictures. Then in 2020 he reached out that he had finished the project. I am glad I am not the only one that takes my time with things. Anyhow he did an awesome job restoring his old Philco so I thought I would share some of his photos.

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Here's to fridge and kegerator projects!

~ Stout Cake ~ Recipe


Typically at a beer tasting I like to bake my Stout Cake. A few folks have asked for the recipe. I have baked it in a loaf pan and it turns out well. You don't want it in a thin pan, you want the moist thick cake. Recently I have used a bundt cake pan which probably works best. One tip to get the cake to release is to coat the pan in oil or spray, then stick it in the freezer. Right before you are ready to throw it in the oven coat the pan with flour, or in the case of a dark cake like this one, use a little cocoa powder with your flour. Then pop it out the second you take it out of the oven.

The Recipe

235 ml Stout [1 cup]  (I like Black Chocolate Stout from Brooklyn or Yeti from great divide)

230 grams of unsalted butter [two sticks]

65 grams cocoa powder [3/4 cup]

230 grams flour [2 cups]

400 grams sugar [2 cups]

1.5 teaspoons baking soda

.75 teaspoon salt

2 Large eggs

160 grams sour cream [2/3 cup]

Oven Temp 350 (Bake 35 Minutes)

Melt butter with stout in a pan, once melted add in the cocoa powder and whisk.

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix eggs and sour cream and add to the flour mixture, then add in the stout chocolate mix. 

Sometimes I will do a frosting - but typically someone grabs a peice before I can get to that. 

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Wax n' Stuff - One Last Beer Hunt

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Every year I like to do an early February beer tasting. I hadn't done one in a while, which meant my verticals had grown a bit. I have a lot of 8,9,10 skip-a-few type verticals, and then I have some I have been diligent with. I had planned to crack the 13 year Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout vertical but Michigan didn't get BBCS this past year, or the year prior. By the time I went hunting it was too late. I called my beer guy Vince in Savannah, no luck, he'd drank his last one that night prior. I text my cousin in N.C. - no luck. Maybe November, but by January the ship had sailed. So I asked my old trading buddy in Chicago, no word. So I popped on Beer Advocate ISO: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout - finally got a bite from a good dude. He was looking for some stuff from Bell's special release party. However according to the fine print they wanted you to download apps, get covid passports and go full commie to get in. Looked like fun but sorry - I don't do full CCP just to get a damn beer. So I said well I guess well just have to drink em' and not have a current one.

Then come last Thursday I get a call, Vince is the man and he secured me one whoa ha yippy yah yay! But it wasn't gonna be here Saturday and I didn't want to rush things. Low and behold my buddy in Chicago found some too. This really made my week; but it meant the Brooklyn Vertical would just have to wait. But I still have several years of BA Dark Horse Plead the 5th, KBS, Bourbon County etc. Dave brought the world's best chili with peppers he smoked himself, I baked bread, and stout cake, and it was a good time.

We drank an O.A.S.I.S. (Old As Shit Imperial Stout) from Cherry Street I had brought back from Georgia, last year's Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, and a few other brews and then opened the 11,12,13,14,15,16,17, and current Dark Horse Plead the 5th BA versions. Eleven was awesome, 12-14 eh.. pretty funk aroma - think dog poo for 12, 15-17 were pretty good, 11,16,17 were the best.

I like to keep a small bunch so everyone can sample, but when I grabbed 13 years of KBS - well - I guess I need to have a little bigger crowd if we are going to sample that many ales. So we decided to crack some random brews instead. Rogue Rolling Thunder 2020 was great, Arcadia Shipwreck 2017 seemed to live up to its maritime disaster moniker with vinegar as the main character, and we peeled the wax off of Killer Penguin 2012 which was decent. I don't think it was ever anything out of the park, but it aged well. I always liked it unique wax with a laser engraved wooden date stamp. I had made some of my own stamps back in 2013 and think it's a fun way to personalize a brew.

Hopefully we'll crack that Brooklyn soon. It is my favorite Imperial Stout!

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Beer Cellar Take Two

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My old Michigan house had the perfect cellar for storing those three hundred bottles of beer. It has been my intention for a while to use the chest freezer with the temperature controller for lagering. Currently I have all of my cellared beers stacked in boxes inside. It's really hard to know what you have and to find a particular beer. While I don't have the perfect cellar in the new home, I do have some unused space I plan to convert to a cellar. I have been posting the progress on twitter as of late. So far I have the space under the basement stairwell cleaned up, framed in, insulated, the exterior covered in drywall, and the interior sheeted with plywood and a cedar overlay. With some slate look tile for the floor. Given the concrete floor and at least one side being an exterior wall, I am hoping it will remain close to 55F year round. I plan to fabricate a hidden insulated door and shelving. Determining what I want to do exactly for shelving has been a bit of a challenge. Given the ceiling is at a 40 degree angle and it's all rather small and awkward haha. Follow me on twitter for updates. Here are some before and in progress views: Before,  Interior, and Tiling

Home of the Homebrew

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So it's hard to claim you're the home of the homebrew if you, you don't homebrew. So once I moved back to Michigan I hit up Siciliano's Market and once again started brewing. No brewshed, no brew sculpture, just my ghetto rig, but it worked. I brewed up my barrel aged stout, and few months later lemon honey wheat, and my strawberry ale. I used grains of paradise, Georgia Sturdier Honey and whatever else I could think up.

Lemon Wheat

5 lbs. American Two Row

5 lbs. Wheat

1 lb. Pilsner

1 lb. Flaked Wheat

½ lb. Cara Pils

½ lb Rice Hulls

American Ale Yeast

All of the grains of paradise I could find

1 oz. Hallertauer (Bittering)

At flame out honey, lemon zest, more hops ; )

O.G 1.044


Strawberry Cream Ale

½ lb Carapils

½ lb. Munch Malt

5.5 lbs Pilsner Malt

½ oz. Willamette (Bittering)

At five minutes before flameout 1 oz. Saaz, and a bunch of Strawberry Puree.

O.G 1.035

shed_bandw.jpegSo I have 'written' countless posts in my head over the past few years, but for one reason or another have they have never actually made them to the blog. In April 2020 I managed to write the following text here in the blog never to actually post it "I took a bit of a sabbatical from brewing. But not from drinking. I was waiting to get my brew shed complete, then create my brew sculpture and resume brewing. I completed the brew shed, only to move. I recently setup a small basement area for brew equipment so there may be hope I will resume soon."

So that pretty much sums it up. I left the great beer state, moved to Georgia and silence. I kept drinking and mountain biking but the weather changed things up a bit for me. The first issue I encountered was the three hundred bottles in the cellar, where would they go? South East Georgia does not have basements. So I solved the issue but packing beer in the beer fridge, kegerator, and purchasing a fermentation chamber aka a cheap Lowes chest freezer that I added a STC-1000  temperature controller to. I have yet to use this cooler for lagering which was the long term plan. Sadly since modern technology is crap - or planned obsolesce as it's called - it is on its last legs and still holding beer. I have replaced the starting cap twice and the compressor whines like death is imminent amongst other issues. It has my signed Bell's bumper sticker from Laura Bell on it's face so I not going to part with it until I have to.

But I digress. The weather; In Michigan I brewed and did beer stuff in the winter and biked in the summer. Georgia was summer all the time. So I biked all year and since we didn't have a decent homebrew shop never actually brewed a damn thing in six years there. I did however make a brewing and bikes shed. The plan as my un-posted excerpt at the start stated was to weld up a brewtus once it was done. But perfection takes time and I am slow so I finished the brewshed right before I moved back to the great beer state. Here are a few photos of the beer and bike shed for your viewing pleasure. It has a retractable bike stand built into the floor, rough cut yellow pine loft, jar lights, heat/ac and all the stuff a guy could want. I left days after finishing it.

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Lagunitas - High West-ified

HighWest.jpgOver the course of the past year I have enjoyed a number of pretty amazing ales, from 110K + OT from Cigar City to Lumberjack Morning Break from three sons. Most of these I have not taken the time to write about. One ale however, I just felt impelled to write about - High West-ified from Lagunitas. Now when I bring up Lagunitas I am sure some craft beer drinkers will jump from their seats yelling that Lagunitas is no longer a craft brewery and that it has sold out etc. I have two things to say about this. One, I ran into a local Lagunitas person at the bottle shop the other day. They insisted that Lagunitas has not sold out and are completely maintaining creative control, and that any partnering was simply to expand distribution. Provided this is fact, I see no issue with it. Founders did the same thing. But, two, if they did sell out like Goose Island did, as long as they continue to make great beer, while I cannot agree with selling out - I can only complain so much. But I do hate sellouts. Wicked Weed made me a bit upset with their sellout.

So along to High West-ified. The first sampling of High West-ified I received from a trading partner from Chicago. It apparently did hit Savannah for a flash in the pan, but I never saw it. Then when I was down in Florida I picked some up, now knowing just how good it was. Given Lagunitas pension for mostly hoppy beers, and an occasional brown, High West-ified really seemed to be a step outside their box.

I should mention that High West-ified is an Imperial Coffee Stout. The bourbon character is at the level of Bourbon County or Plead the 5th. This is a full on Barrel Aged Stout not weak in any respect. Coffee, dark fruits, big bourbon punch, it's all there. It poured with a decent head that quickly dissipated, and.. that's all I remember. It was so good I finished my last one well over a month ago. This has not stopped me from carrying around my tattered tasting notes in my wallet and pocket until I finally found five minutes to publish my thoughts.  Sometimes I write a review, only to lose track of it and it never makes it to the light of day. But not this one. High Westified was my favorite ale of 2016. Yeah ok.. on to 2017..

Cigar City Brewing - Hunahpu's Imperial Stout

Huna.jpgI recently had the privilege of visiting Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, FL. As a rule, I am not a big fan of Florida, due to the unusually abnormal level of bad drivers and generally abnormal folks - but I found Tampa pretty cool. Folks were nice, the beer was good, and they even have pretty damn fun single track. 


This past Saturday was Hunahpu's day. Cigar City's annual brewfest. Brewers came from around the world to share their brews. Due to 'admission issues' in the past - things are pretty well organized now. Your wristband comes weeks ahead in a box, you activate it online, and entry is only allowed with the rfid wristband. You can pick your bottles of Hunahpu's Stout ahead of the event - which beats picking it up after. Although picking it up after was not an issue for those folks either as most everyone had picked theirs up already, mitigating any lines.

Four free food tickets and a tasting glass weSample.jpgre provided, along with admission. The fresh food from Da Kine Poke Bowls and other food trucks was amazing.

Estonia.jpgThe first brew I sampled was from a brewer in Tallinn Estonia - a Scotch Whiskey Barrel Aged Scottish Ale. He says it's changed a bit since I was there last.

My favorites were a couple of brews from 3 Sons, Lumberjack Morning Break - an amazing stout with a great aroma, and Scoop a La Mode a neapolitan stout, which was the best attempt I have had at a neapolitan stout by far. I met a couple of great guys from Chicago while in line and after dinner we headed over to the brewery.

The Cigar City brewery is decently small, had great service and tons of great brews on tap. They sell hand rolled cigars to smoke at the brewery. I sampled a Darkstar November (good stuff) shared by a patron, and enjoyed the tap list. The regular Huna pours with a dark viscous head, has a spicy sweet arouma and flavor. It's balanced with cocoa notes and nice warmth, it's a great stout. A bit expensive, but not disappointing.

cigar.jpgI might even try to go back someday. There are a number of other great breweries in the area, and Hunahpu's day falls at the end of craft beer week, and about two weeks before it gets way too hot. So it's not a bad time to be in Florida.

Terrapin - Tart Cherry Wake n' Bake

WnB.jpgI wrote this one a while back. I am not sure why I never got around to posting it.

Each year Terrapin releases their spin on a fancy Wake n' Bake. Their breakfast beer taken to the next level. This year it poured with a minimal head, minmal nose, till it warmed. Tart Cherry, coffee, pretty much what is was promoted to be.

The first time I tried the one off incanation of Wake n' Bake it was the Cinnamon Roll'd Wake n' Bake. I loved the subltly of it. It was not over the top, just a perfect cinnmanon roll. The next year they did the French Toasted, good but not as good as the Cinnmon Roll'd. I don't even remember what they did last year. Tart Cherry is good, but nothing to get overly worked up about. That said, I love wake n' bake, the Jitty Joe's Coffee addition is pretty amazing and really does make for a great breakfast stout. 

In the end the Jittery Joe's Coffee is the ticket. I had a homebrew from a friend who cloned WnB using the same coffee and it was just as good. So on one hand yeah it's amazing I love it, but on the other hand the ale is not super special, the coffee is.


The Brewmaster


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