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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!'


Strawberry Cream Ale & Jam

This week, strawberries went on sale, so I brewed up some Strawberry Wine, Strawberry Cream Ale, and made some jam to go with the Spent Grain Bread  that I made from the Cream Ale grains.

Strawberry_Jam.JPGStrawberry Jam
2 Pounds Fresh Strawberries
4 Cups Sugar

Mix together the strawberries, and sugar, stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. I generally keep the boil going for a bit and put the hot jam, in hot jars heated in water. This makes a kind of chunky runny jam which I like. If you want it a little thicker, you might want to add a little something to gel it up a bit

This is my attempt at a Strawberry Cream Ale. I couldn't really get a exactly what I wanted, so we'll see how it turns out. It sure smelled good while brewing.

Strawberry Cream Ale (Extract)Strawberry_Wine_Cream_Ale.JPG
½ Pound Carapils
½ Pound Munich Malt
4 Pounds Light Malt Extract
1 Pound Rice Syrup Solids
½ oz Williamette Hops (Bittering)
1oz Saaz Hops (Finishing)
4 Pounds Strawberries (Purée)
Irish Moss
Yeast Nutrient
White Labs Cream Ale Yeast

Summer Ale

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Brewing.JPGToday I brewed up a summer ale loosely based off of the Honey Weisse I brewed. I did fifty percent grain mash. I don't have a lauter tun up and running yet so I did a mash in a bag. It was a little difficult keeping the temp held at 152 but fortunately enzymes are flexible and still do their job even when the temps jump around a little. According to my iodine test and my O.G. I got pretty good conversion just using a bag, and stirring the grains in the bag keeping the temp in the 48 to 56 degrees Fahrenheit range for about an hour.

I also whipped up some spent grain bread using the following recipe which I created from combining a couple of different recipes I found online. It came out nice and fluffy with a great flavor.

Spent Grain Bread
1/2 Cup Warm MilkSpent_Grain_Bread.JPG
1/2 Cup Warm Water
2 1/2 Cups Spent Grain
4 Table Spoons Sugar
1 Egg
1 Package Bakers Yeast
1/2 Table Spoon Salt
2 Table Spoons Vegetable Oil
3 Cups Flour

Combine the water, milk, and yeast. Add the salt, oil, spent grain (I ran it through the food processor), and a couple cups of flour. Stir well together and keep adding the flour until it gets stiff. Knead in the rest of the flour and let it rise until doubled (about an hour).Punch down and shape into two rolls, let rise till doubled again and bake at 350 F for forty minutes.

Let it sit for a half hour before slicing so you don't crush your bread as it still bakes on the inside for a bit.

Moon River Brewing Company

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Moon_IPA.jpgCoaster.jpgFinding myself in Savannah Georgia I did what I always do when I am somewhere new, look for the local micro brewery. Georgia is home to a few breweries and brewpubs. The most popular local beer on tap in Savannah is the Sweetwater 420, a full bodied pale ale. Downtown Savannah is home to Moon River Brewing Company a local brewpub that has cask ales on Wednesdays and thirteen or so brews on tap. Located in the building that formerly housed the historic City Hotel built in 1821, it sports an oak and brick interior with an extensive beer can collection.

I first had their Swamp Fox Indian Pale Ale, it has a great hop character reminiscent of a Simcoe, I never got a chance to ask the barmaid what hops they used. I also had their porter and ribs with sweet potato fries. The food was excellent, the service decent, I would recommend stopping in if you get the opportunity.

Graydon's Crossing & the Three Hour Pint

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graydens.jpgI want to say that Graydon's Crossing is my favorite pub. But I have already said that about Honey Creek Inn. So maybe I have two favorite pubs, so sue me. It burnt down a while ago, fortunately not too down, as it's back up again. Last week I stopped in and had a Flying Dog Gonzo Porter. In the bottle it's a great porter, but on tap it takes on a whole new persona, still great, but with a hop and sharp malt character undetectable in the bottle.

Tonight I stopped in and had their soup of the day (incredible) a spicy little curry and whatnot in a cup. I also had their fish and chips, a meal for two really - I was over stuffed for the next three hours. But the best part was the pint I sipped on for three hours, the Barrel Aged Plead The 5th from Dark Horse. I have already ranted about how it's the best ale in the world in my brewfest blurb. It comes out in November but Graydon's being Graydon's has a keg of it. But the story get's better, they let me take a growler of it home - Whoo Hoo. I am bottling it up right now so I can ship a sample to my favorite beer drinking buddy south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Amicarelli Vineyard - South Haven / Phin and Matts

vineyard.jpgWhen visiting South Haven Michigan a couple that were staying at our hotel recommended Amicarelli Vineyard. Not only was the food incredible, so was the service. I had my favorite dish which includes sausage and red sauce. It was the best Italian I have had since New York. My son was unhappy with the pizza so the server made him up his own custom slices. Well beyond anyone's expectation. I had a Phin and Matts Extraordinary Ale from Southern Tier Brewing in NY. It was rather unique. It was a very pale ale but hoppy. Most American IPA's have an all around body and flavor in addtion to the hop bitterness and arouma. Not this, it was a pale ale with a super light body, and a rather odd flavor. It was sweet and sour at the same time. I could not tell if it was just old, or that sour funk was actually part of the intended flavor profile. It did have a great hop bitterness. I think my jury is still out on this one till I try it again.

Honey Creek Inn


This past Saturday I dropped into Honey Creek Inn to have a pint. Founders Dry Hopped IPA was the cask ale on tap. To misquote princess bride 'Since the invention of the pint, there have only been five pints that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.' It truly was the best pint I have ever had.

            My first experience at Honey Creek Inn was a few weeks ago. I had been biking the Canonsburg State Game Area and decided to drop in. The amber walls are adored with a well over a hundred of tap handles. Neat, clean, and smoke free it had an authentic pub atmosphere. Eight tap handles advertised a selection a great brews with Bells Two Hearted occupying the cask ale tap. Impressed by the friendly patrons, many of which who were locals who have been visiting for years; I started up a conversation with the couple next to me. They introduced me to Don Kurylowicz, the owner of Honey Creek Inn, and for that matter owner of Cannonsburg Michigan. Don is a friendly down to earth kind of guy. He exemplifies pretty much everything a small business owner should be in my opinion. I would be surprised if a day goes by that he is not right there in the midst of things. His businesses are not just a business; they are his passion, an expression of himself and his creativity.


Don explained to me that every tap handle on the wall had actually been served on tap right there at his pub. He explained the origins of the public house what it really meant to be one. He ran me through the history of Honey Creek Inn and its close relationship with Larry Bell and the local breweries in the area. He was the first to have cask ale on tap in Kent County, and still one of only two that I know of. The food was great, the beer was great, and the atmosphere was great. Whether you are a billionaire or a concrete finisher you can find sit down and experience what every pub should be at Honey Creek Inn.


 Due to the family atmosphere and great food, on May 21st I decided to take my family to Honey Creek Inn for dinner. Unfortunately I had underestimated the fourty-five minute wait that might be experienced on a Friday night, and my wife was starving. In many ways this is the real test of a restaurant - the wait staff was super busy, and they were packed - despite all of this they were very prompt, helpful, and quickly put us on the waiting list, even giving me a menu to take out to the car. They provided answers to all my questions about what nights were busiest, explaining what specials they ran, all this even when  we had decided to come back another time.


Since, I have asked many persons if they knew of Honey Creek Inn with at least half telling me they have been faithful customers for twenty years. So this last Saturday was no accident, the perfect pint just happened to be at my favorite pub.

Beer Bread

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Thank you to foodnetwork for the following recipe.


Beer Bread



3 cups self-rising flour

1/2 cup sugar

12 ounces beer

2 tablespoons melted butter



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter a loaf pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and beer and mix well. The mixture should be

sticky. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes. At the last 3 minutes of baking, remove from oven, brush the top

of the loaf with butter and return to oven.


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On Saturday I attended Brew-UICA 2002. It was the urban institute for contemporary arts' attempt to provide southwest Michigan with a beer tasting event. Thanks to a good friend of mine I got in free. Except for one brewer all the beer was in bottles. That states a lot if you ask me. This was a bunch of contemporary art people's attempt at a beer fest. Frankly, contemporary art people suck. My apologies to all those contemporary art people visiting my site. You may go to now, come back when you know what a mash tun is. Ok so enough with dissing people of culture. About the beer. There were seventeen tables with no less than four styles of beer per table. Not bad indeed. My favorite was an import, Flag Porter. Flag Porter is brewed from a traditional 19th century British recipe, fermented with original 1825 yeast salvaged from a sunken vessel in the English Channel. Good stuff very English, it had the sour thing going on. Try it if you ever get the chance.


Kalamazoo Brewing Co was there. Their Stout was terrible. I will give them the benefit of the doubt maybe it was just that bottle. Founder's had a nice Porter, very hoppy, good stuff. Roffey Brewing Co. knows how to make good beer. Their Lake Effect Stout rocks the boat. Their Forecaster Pale Ale is also an excellent pale ale. Motor City brought their Amber Wheat. It tasted like crap. Sorry Motor City maybe you should take up contemporary art or something.


Butte Creek from Chico, CA came with their Organic Porter. It was good but it tasted pretty organic if you ask me. Could we please give up on Organic Beer! Who's idea was it anyhow? Organic granola bars; great idea. Organic beer??? Don't we have anything better to do folks? Why not experiment with organic contemporary art or something.

New England Beer Tour

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Well I am back from the New England Beer Tour. We started off at Carl's for breakfast. Carl's is a diner about the size of a 1971 Chrysler Newport . I ordered french toast which is about four dollars. I made it through the first 10 pieces or so. I also got a side of bacon which comes with about five pounds of potato's and 12 strips of Bacon. Needless to say we were all stuffed. From there we visited the Harpoon Brewery. Harpoon has recently purchased Catamount. I tried the Catamount Pale Ale, UFO Hefeweizen, IPA, and Hibernian Ale. The Hibernian is a very good Irish Red. My favorite however was the UFO. From there we went to Magic Hat Brewing in Burlington, VT. There I sampled a experimental brew with Northern Brewer Hops. Very Excellent. I also tried their Heart of Darkness stout. It seemed a bit drier on tap than in the bottle. We sampled their Humble Patience. This is an Irish Red on tap with Nitrogen. It is the same thing as Bob's first except for the Nitro-tap. Simular to Guinness in head. Of course the simularities end there. We also made a couple of other stops.


After sampling a couple more brews at Magic Hat we headed on down to Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury, VT. There I sampled the Stovepipe Porter. It was similar to Saranac's Black Forest. It was a good brew, but is not in my definition a porter. It was way too hoppy for a porter, and had a very light body. It reminded me of a steambeer porter I once brewed myself. I also tried their Pale Ale, Copper Ale, and their Mudbock Ale, which is not a Bock. Frankly I was not impressed at all by any of their beer. I will never drink it again. For a good Bock try Brooklyn's Doppel Bock. Now there is a beer! I tried one last evening, and I was very impressed. It has the typical sour taste that a bock should have. There is a reason that Garret Oliver is famous. Next on our list was the Mendocino Brewery in Saratoga Springs, NY.


We most definitely saved the best for last. At Mendocino we sampled one of their new products not yet released. It's called Old Saratoga Lager, it's a Vienna style lager. Very similar to Brooklyn's Lager. One of those beers we have to thank for bringing the American beer drinker around to real beer. To say that the bartender was a great gentleman is an understatement. If anyone would like to see how a brewery should be run, stop by Saratoga Springs, Mendocino Brewery. We were able to drink several other products as well. Unlike Otter Creek these were not 2oz samples, but rather beer by the pint. The bartender showed us how to make a black and tan using Black Hawk Stout, and Eye Of The Hawk. Eye Of The Hawk is an 8.0% ale. It's color and flavor are reminiscent of a barley wine. We also sampled their Blue Herring pale ale. At our departure we were obliged to take six free pint glasses. Their beer by the case prices were excellent, frankly the best deal I have seen for such high quality beer.


About the only negative thing I have to say is that I don't like Mendoncino's labels. Needless to say I'll put up with the poor graphics if they continue to produce the same quality beer consistently.


The Brewmaster


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