Category Archives: recipes

Not my usual brewing experience…

Got invited a little while ago to brew with the Four Fathers. They’re an Elora-based start up brewery or concept brewery that is just starting to get off the ground with a few good beers and recipes.

I met the Four Fathers when they came to Grand River Brewing for a brew day. We hung out for the day on “my” brew system and had a great time. At the end of the day they invited me to their brewery for a brew day. “It’ll be fun”, they said. “We’ll have a great time”, they said.

They weren’t wrong. Here is what greeted me upon my arrival at “the brewery”:

Four Father's (1 of 4)

Four Father's (2 of 4)

Four Father's (3 of 4)

(Please see title of this blog post LOL)

Behind the scenes, however, it was closer to my usual brewing experience:

Four Father's (4 of 4)

Controlled chaos, moments of confusion, missed timings, near boil overs, slight messiness… Really, just the usual brewing experience.

They have a Sabco BrewMagic brewing system which was a treat to brew on. New to me but if I were to do it again I would do a bit more reading on it and figure out a few more of the features of the system to allow for repeatablility of recipes and programming mash profiles etc. Would love to have one of these for my own use but will need to save up a few more dollars before that happens. 😉

We ended up brewing a session IPA, of sorts. We’ll find out in a couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to have a taste and maybe brew another beer. One more father in the mix of Four Fathers.

Just in time

Just in time for St. Patrick’s day, my most recent stout is on tap! It’s a Maris Otter-based oatmeal stout with some cocoa thrown into the mash for a bit of extra chocolate flavour.

I’ve done a couple of stouts before on my own and felt them to be a bit thin and astringent. This one I deliberately attempted to counter that and mash-in a bit higher than my normal. For this batch I hit a temp of between 156F and 157F for some extra body.

Nailed it!

2013-03-17 20.13.48

“Happy Pils” and “MO stout“. It’s what’s on tap…

Bits and pieces…

Hop Harvest Time: It’s that time of year again! Sometime this week I’ll be harvesting my crop of Hallertauer hops from my hop bine out back. It’s hearty and has produced a decent crop despite the dry summer. The only thing I’m not looking forward to is the amount of work versus the amount of hops harvested. The two are inversely proportionate to an extreme! Commercial hop harvesters have machines to do the work but I’m not there yet.

Pumpkin Time: Scott and I will be brewing a pumpkin beer this year but I’ll be doing in time for Fall/Thanksgiving/October instead of last year which was in time for Christmas. Same recipe but this year I’ll be adding a touch of vanilla which has been soaked in The Balvenie for a few weeks. It’s already started so by the time the beer is ready to have it added there will be no waiting around. It will be added in secondary or to primary when fermentation is quite done.

Oktoberfest: My next solo brew will likely be an Oktoberfest-type beer. I’ll be using a mix of 2-row and Munich I along with my Hallertauer that I’ll be harvesting. It should be a decent malty brew in time for the fall. I do cheat a little bit in that I use an ale yeast (US-05) instead of a true lager yeast. I’ve done it before with lager styles and it’s worked fine. I’ve even submitted to competition and had the beer entered into the lager category with very favourable comments.

Bad Beer: Had a batch of my Citra Pale Ale that didn’t work out so well. Had that brewing blitz at the beginning of July where I did four batches in four days. It was warm that week and my basement fermentation temps were not great. The first batch I did that week I moderated the temperature with a swamp cooler, the other batches I didn’t bother. That one batch that got moderated turned out phenolic and clove-like. Definitely not to my liking. The other batches are just fine. Go figure.

Citra Pale Ale (the good one), it’s what’s on tap…

Kicking and Screaming

If you can’t laugh at yourself, where are you?

My brew partner Scott is chock full of ideas and he came up with the idea of a Neopolitan (ice cream) Stout: Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry. We bounced the idea back and forth and I amended it to Chocolate, Vanilla and Raspberry thinking that the Strawberry flavour would likely get lost in all the other big flavours.We both decided this would be the next brew.

I like to keep things simple both in process and flavour. Scott recognizes this and he came up with the name of Kicking and Screaming Stout. That is, dragging me kicking and screaming into making this beer!

We brewed it a while ago and it’s been fermenting away nicely. Primary is basically done and it’s ready to transfer to secondary for the addition of vanilla and raspberry. I dealt with the vanilla portion a while ago by splitting the vanilla beans and scraping the paste out of them. I then cut up the beans themselves and soaked everything in a few ounces of The Balvenie Scotch.

Any addition to secondary needs to be sanitized and whether you do that through heat or through alcohol, the choice is yours. It seemed much more enjoyable and flavourful to soak the vanilla in the alcohol and then add it to secondary.

I’ll be adding the raspberries this week as well but will be pasteurizing them by heating them to around 180ºF for 10 minutes or so. I don’t like to transfer things more than once, if at all, but even though the vanilla is ready to go I’ll have to wait to get some raspberries before I do the transfer.


Click the link for our recipe for the Kicking and Screaming Neopolitan Stout:

K&S stout

On tap now is the Kleine Schwarz (second runnings from our LISP) and Three Seas IPA.

LISP brew day

We did it before and it was awesome so we’re doing it again. This time with 10 gallons of the good stuff!

My birthday brew about five months ago was a Licorice Imperial Stout Porter (LISP). Scott and I brewed 5 gallons of it back then and split it and we liked it so much we each wanted 5 gallons of it. Only one way to do it.

Here are some photos from the day:

Here is the recipe:



Two beers at opposite ends of the beery spectrum.

A couple of weeks ago I finally took some readings on an Imperial Stout that Scott and I brewed back on February 17. Our final gravity reading was 1.018 giving us an abv of 14.5%!! That’s the biggest beer I’ve brewed so far. It’s also remarkable because it was done with a regular ale yeast, US-05. We did use a starter but nothing special aside from that. This will be sitting for a while to age and mature and then kegged and bottled. Will definitely keep you updated as to how it tastes later. So far the samples are VERY tasty.

At the other end of the beer spectrum is my recent, and ongoing, project of 14 day ales. I started this at the end of last summer to see how quickly (and tastily) I could move a beer through my system. I started with a grain to glass benchmark of 14 days. That worked fine with a regular strength, basic ale. I have gradually backed that up to 12 days and most recently I pushed a pils through in 10 days.

One of the added challenges to the 14 day (now 10 day) mark is the carbonating of the beer. This one I was able to carb to a reasonable amount in six hours. That may be fodder for another post at some point. 😉

Granted this is no hop-bomb or high gravity double imperial eisbock but it sure gets the job done. If you’re looking for an easy drinking, tasty, back deck kind of beer, this one will work just fine.

Ten days for fermentation/clarifying/chilling and six hours for carbonation led me to name this one “10 ‘n 6 Pils”. I like the name.

Here is the recipe for those who are interested:

BeerSmith 2 Recipe Printout –
Recipe: 10 ‘n 6 Pils
Brewer: Peter Collins
Asst Brewer:
Style: Lite American Lager
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0)

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 6.90 gal
Post Boil Volume: 6.15 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.60 gal
Estimated OG: 1.039 SG
Estimated Color: 2.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 20.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 81.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU
8 lbs 8.0 oz          Pilsner (Weyermann) (1.7 SRM)            Grain         1        100.0 %
1.00 oz               Hallertauer (Cambridge) [4.00 %] – First Hop           2        12.5 IBUs
0.50 Items            Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)        Fining        3        –
1.00 oz               Hallertauer (Cambridge) [4.00 %] – Boil  Hop           4        5.7 IBUs
1.00 oz               Hallertauer (Cambridge) [4.00 %] – Boil  Hop           5        2.3 IBUs
1.0 pkg               Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)  Yeast         6        –


Needless to say, this IS what’s on tap. Although I also have an Imperial IPA but I’m just trying to get through that keg to make room for a Citra Pale Ale. Ask Scott. 😉

So much cleaning.

I’m so behind in my brewery maintenance/cleaning. I’ve had several transfers over the last month or so and I have not yet caught up.

My current (and increasingly urgent) to-clean list includes two kegs, three carboys and a myriad of bottles and growlers in various states of label removal and soaking. It seems that my other life of playing bass trombone for a living has affected my brewing life. So be it.

On the other hand, I am entering into a very nice beerspace in the near future. The pale ale brewed over the holidays with my friend Matt has fermented out. It’s been dry hopped and is currently sitting in secondary with gelatin and cold crashing. Could be kegged as early as this evening or I could let it go for a bit more for clarifying.That will be grain to glass in under three weeks. It’s no record but it’s quite reasonable for that beer.

The best bitter that was also brewed over the holidays has fermented out as well. I took a sample the other day to check final gravity and the sample was already very clear and tasted quite good. It’s the first recipe I’ve made for a best bitter and I think it turned out quite well. I don’t usually fret over these things but in this case the recipe was for a 10 gallon batch to be split with my friend. If the recipe had not turned out so well I would have felt a bit guilty having created less-than-stellar beer.

As far as what’s on tap… The Fin de la Saison is finally ready. My brew partner on that batch, Scott, has handed most of the 5 gallon keg over to me! While the beer is well made and to style it was not quite to his taste. He got a volume out of it that he wanted and brought the rest to me. It’s a perfect second tap beer in my set up as it’s not something I’ll drink every day but it’s nice to have around. It’s certainly a different taste than what I would normally make on my own but that’s one of the great things about brewing with somebody. Every once in a while we go in a direction that one of us may not want to go but it’s good to explore.

Brewing this week will put me back at GRB for a couple of batches and at home with a 5 gallon batch of Imperial doppeleisbock strong ale… Or something like that. I have to look at the recipe. 😉


She’s gonna be big ‘un!

Brewed a pumpkin brew last week to put on the second tap. This week I decided that I would brew nearly the exact opposite of what I would normally brew and that it was also my birthday I would just go nuts with the ingredients. From that came the idea of LISP: Licorice Imperial Stout Porter (recipe for LISP).

Grains for LISP

A bigger grain bill than normal for me for a 5g batch. You can see the crystal 110 in bowl, bags of chocolate malt, roast barley, and carafa II on top of a bucket that contains the 9lbs of Munich II and 9lbs of 2 row. WAY more grain than I normally use.

Hops and extra ingredients for the LISP

The grain bill was not only one of the larger ones I have had to deal with but the extras were also numerous. In the photo above are two (of three) of the hop additions on the left, bowl of licorice candies in the middle, star anise on the bottom right, fennel seed on the middle right and in behind are demerara sugar and molasses (not just the plain kind, I sprung for the fancy kind). Missing from the group photo is the licorice root (which will be soaked in Sambuca asap until we add it two secondary in a few weeks) and the third hop addition.

The brew went almost as planned with a bit of a bonus in the middle. I was brewing with my friend, Scott, and we have been talking about a doing a parti-gyle brew for a while. We have plans for an “Epic Parti-gyle” involving many mash tuns and many boil kettles resulting in many more carboys filled with beer. Before we went that far I wanted to see how the basics would work. The LISP was not planned as a parti-gyle but when you brew a beer as strong as the LISP you end up leaving a lot of sugar behind in the grains. Instead of just throwing that away we decided to continue sparging so that we got a few more gallons of wort with the same grains in order to make a porter.

Mild brown on the left, LISP on the right.

The timing with both brews worked perfectly! The big brew came to a boil while we were still lautering for the small brew so it had a bit of a head start. That difference was just enough so that when the big brew was done chilling we immediately started chilling the small brew. Transferred into primary with the big brew and as soon as that was done the small brew was ready to transfer.

I pitched the big brew on a yeast cake from a previous batch of beer–A topic always open for discussion on various brewing forums–but was still worried about the viability of the yeast. It was a decent batch that it came from but it had started slow. No worries, though. I checked on the beer after a couple of hours and there was already signs of fermentation. Came back in a few more hours to this:

Excess blow off!

Not a great thing to clean up but it definitely could have been worse.

After a bit of work with a damp cloth and a bucket of water I devised another solution:

Larger jug inside stock pot... No worries now.

Not a great way to spend several minutes having to clean up the mess but I can say that it smelled amazing! I’m really looking forward to this brew in the deep of winter: A true sipper.

Pete’s Pumpkin Pale Ale

In light of my post about having a second tap I figured I would brew something different (for me) this past week. I ended up taking a stab at a pumpkin ale.

There are many very good pumpkin ales out there: Grand River Highballer Pumpkin Ale, Great Lakes Pumpkin Ale and my favourite from Southern Tier, Pumking. I wasn’t trying to clone anything (although that does give me an idea for a separate blog post 😉 ) I was just trying to create a spiced beer for my “seasonal” tap.

In truth, part of the inspiration came from my daughter who wanted to make some pumpkin cupcakes last week. She needed a few extra ingredients like pureed pumpkin and some pumpkin spices. When we went to the grocery store I had suggested that we pick up a jar of pumpkin pie spice or mixed spice just to keep things simple but she insisted that we already had all the necessary spices at home. I picked up a jar of the mixed spice anyway knowing that I would use it for brewing. She also needed some of the pureed pumpkin but I knew she wasn’t using all of it. Guess what ended up in the mash?

I created the recipe the night before and came up with a pretty straight-up almost pale ale using a few grains I had around. My hops were based on wanting to keep the beer balanced but on the malty side and keep the hops sort of out of the way. The Super Galena (or Super G as I call it) fits that bill perfectly and the experience that I have had with Willamette seems to hold true for that hop as well.

Adding the pumpkin to the mash is debatable with regards to what it adds to the beer but I didn’t feel right calling it a pumpkin beer without the pumpkin. If it doesn’t add anything to the final product, that’s fine. If it does, okay. Either way I’m just using up some leftover pumpkin puree that would have otherwise gone bad in the fridge. Just trying to be practical.

I have posted the recipe here but I wasn’t able to add correctly in BeerSmith the types of spices I used. There was about half a can of pumpkin puree in the mash. I put about a teaspoon of the mixed spice in the last ten minutes of the boil along with 50g of freshly grated ginger and about a half cap of vanilla extract.


Pete’s Pumpkin Pale Ale