Category Archives: Recipes

I’m crafting a new brew or refining an old one.


There are a number of ways in which you may have reached this article, but it is likely you came first upon my articles on mead making first. There, I advised buying a gallon of apple cider and inheriting with it a free 1-gallon glass vessel for your mead making adventures. This is a good way to go. Find yourself some cider. Get 100% real apple cider, and go organic. Anytime you are making a fermented beverage, organic is best. I am not opposed to agricultural fungicides at all, but the yeast that is going to be working my mead for me might have a problem with it.

Cyser is simple a mead made with apple. A mead with any added fruit is called a melomel. Some popular concoctions such as this one has a special name. This one is a cyser.

If you have stumbled onto this article and haven’t yet made mead or any other alcoholic beverage you should first read Your First Mead, and probably Your Second Mead. The process is the same, only we are going to reduce the honey from 3 lbs. to 2 lbs., replace the water with cider, and loose the acid blend. Other than that, the process is the same. You may want to experiment however with a little bit of cinnamon.

  • 2 lbs honey
  • 3.5 quarts real, organic apple cider
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • Yeast – of the many yeast available, there are cider yeasts, wine yeasts, and ale yeasts that will do nicely. Pick your favorite.

Mix and heat to pasteurize. Cool. Add Yeast. Wait several weeks. Drink. You may also wish to carbonate. If you are familiar with the brewing of beer, the bottling process will be the same.

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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Recipes


New Blood (Irish Red)

I have designed a number of beers, many with the intent of being starter brews. As I laid out the training program I am working on, I realized all of the beers I had made so far fit better in different places in the curriculum, so I was again left with a hole in what would be my very first teaching beer. I toiled over what theme it would have to fit along with the others. Then, it finally hit me. In both brewing and gaming, we start out as newbs or newbies. Our avatar’s blood is spilled over virtual battlefields. We are lifted up by our comrades and with a little luck from the Irish that claim to have it, we live to play another day. It is that new blood that frequently invigorates our game. The New Blood brew was born and it quickly made sense that it would be an Irish Red.

Status: Final. The test group drank this one up quickly and didn’t have much more to say other than, “May I have another?”

New Blood (Irish Red)

OG: 1.060, IBUs: 18.8, SRM: 18, ABV: 6.5%

.5 lbs. Munich
.5 lbs. Crystal 20
.25 lbs. Marris Otter
3 oz. Roasted Barley
6 lbs. Light DME
1 oz. Kent Golding [5.2%] (bittering hops)
1 oz. Kent Golding [5.2%] (aroma hops)
1 tsp. Irish Moss
WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast
5 oz. Corn Sugar (for bottle conditioning)

Apart from the play on the luck theme and the color, the Irish Red is fairly safe style for drinking as well. It is a balanced and flavorful beer that doesn’t come with any real surprises. Of the grains above, the Munich was added for its malty profile, the Maris Otter for a bit of nuttiness, the crystal malt for some caramel and sweetness, and finally the roasted barley for color. The Kent Goldings hops is a gentle and pleasant hop variety and a popular choice for the style.

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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Recipes


Prickly Pear Wine

20130808_214429A recent harvest of prickly pears left my fridge full of frozen fruit pulp and one of the main objectives was to try a batch of wine.  The wine is still in process, so we’ll see how well it comes out.  I crafted my recipe based on various sources over the internet and what I have learned about wine so far.  This post assumes that you already know enough about making wine to properly sanitize.

6 lbs. prickly pears, juiced.
3 qt. Water
2 lbs. sugar
Juice of 1 lime.
¾ tsp yeast nutrient
¾ tsp yeast energizer
¾ tsp pectic enzyme
Flor Sherry Yeast WLP700

OG: 1.090

I previously skinned 6 lbs. of prickly pears and froze what amounted to a little over 3 lbs. of pulp.  I like to freeze fruit that I am going to juice, as the freezing process helps to break down the cell walls.  I added a couple of quarts of water and brought it almost to a boil.  Then I strained the pulp and juice through a cheese cloth and was left with a little over three quarts of juice.

I topped it off to one gallon, added the lime juice, the yeast nutrient, and the yeast energizer, and the sugar.  Then I heated it back up to 165 degrees F to pasteurize it and to make sure the sugar was well dissolved.  Then, over an ice bath, cooled it down to room temperature. You must cool it down before doing anything else.  Higher temperatures from here on out will cause problems.

From here, I added the pectic enzyme and let it sit for 12-24 hours.  This will help to clarify the wine.  Then,  comes the yeast.  I choice Flor Sherry yeast.

I expect that some time down the road I will be back-sweetening it, though I haven’t yet planned on how to do that.  I will either use campden tablets and wine stabilizer, or time to kill the yeast.  Then I’ll add either a simple syrup mixture or perhaps prickly pear nectar.

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Posted by on August 11, 2013 in Prickly Pears, Recipes



King Henry’s Country Beer (Smoked Southern English Brown Ale)

King Henry’s Country Beer (Smoked Southern English Brown Ale)

For the 2013 SCA Arts and Sciences competition, I set out to recreate a beer similar to what may have been brewed in the Middle Ages while still catering to the modern palate and be something I can enjoy and be proud to serve.  The first modern pallet sensibility requirement was the use of hops.  Before the hops became popular, ales used an herbal mixture called gruit.  This does not appeal to me or even most of today’s drinkers, so I let myself be inspired by a declaration made by King Henry VI in 1426.   Fermented malt beverage brewed with gruit was to be called ale.  If the beverage is to be made with the use of hops, it was to be called beer.  The terms ale and beer are not used in that way today, but in observation of the King’s declaration, this brew shall be known as King Henry’s Country Beer.

2 lbs    English Brown Malt
1 lbs    Oak Smoked Wheat Malt
2 lbs    White Wheat Malt
1 lbs    Malted Oats
1 lbs    Crystal 20
1 lbs    2-Row Barley
½ oz     Fuggle (UK) bittering hops (60 minutes)
¼ tsp     Calcium Chloride (added during the boil)
½ oz     Fuggle (UK) finishing hops (15 minutes)
1 oz     Irish Moss
Wyeast London Ale III 1318

OG: 1.039, FG: 1.015, IBUs: 16.9, SRM: 33, ABV: 3.1%

I used several sources when recreating this beer but I first wanted to find base style to use as a guideline.  Most modern styles recognized by the BJCP didn’t come about until the modern era, but the English Brown Ales had some historic relevance.  Beers brewed in England before the use of coal and were brown and smoky , and were only lightly hopped.    The malt bill for this style includes an appropriate variety of additional grains such as wheat and may have a fruity character that classic yeasts may add to the beer.   These characteristics point toward a smoked southern English brown ale.

It is popularly understood that it was common in the Middle Ages to brew three batches of beer from the same batch of malted grain.   This resulted in a range of beers from highly alcoholic to very mildly alcoholic.   In this sample, we are going to make one brew with an alcoholic content near that of or slightly stronger than what we would expect from the historical second batch.  The addition of smoked malt and malted oats will be a deviation from the modern style to more accurately reflect the period style beer.

The water is a very important base to the beer.  I start with clean filtered water from Water Street Station.  For this beer I am going to add ¼ teaspoon of calcium chloride to the batch during the boil based party on recommendation for the style of beer  and a hardening nod to a time before water softeners.

I had several English yeasts to choose from.  I choose the Wyeast London III for the fruity character it is reported to impart to give it a character that resembles the base style I choose.  This yeast is also a good choice for a healthy fermentation in the low 70s F home environment I have available to me and is still something that bears as much historic resemblance as any other English yeast I could choose from.  Historically yeast was kept from one batch of beer to the next , originating from regional wild strains.  Without that convenience and due to the fact that I live in an entirely different region of the world, I am just going to run to the brew store to pick up what I need.

English beer was often brewed from a mixture of malted barley, wheat, and oats.   I made sure to use brown malted barley for authenticity and touch of roasted character.  I then added some smoked barley malt, making sure to use Oak as would have been used in the region.   I sweetened it up with some crystal malt and balanced it off with generic 2-row barley.  The balance of these grains listed in the ingredients below should give me the right color, the right amount of fermentable and non-fermentable sugars, and enough enzymatic activity to convert the grain’s starches into those sugars.

I choose the UK Fuggle variety of hops for the region in which it was grown, the appropriateness and popularity it has in the chosen style of beer, and for the fact that it should add the required bitterness to the beer while still remaining mild and not over pronounced.

I used a single infusion mash at 155 degrees for 45 minutes and rigged up a continuous sparging system to free the wort from the grain. This diverts from the widely accepted period method of steeping the grains three times and extracting the water for three separate batches of beer .  This choice was made for the sake of efficiency and the fact that I really only wanted one batch of beer.  I use a modern immersion wort chiller for efficiency and sanitation to lower the risk of infection.  Then it sat on the yeast in a glass carboy for two weeks. In the Middle Ages fermentation would have likely taken place in wooden barrels , but wooden barrels are expensive.  I then bottled the beer with priming sugar for carbonation.  This is purely a choice for the modern pallet as carbonating beer was not a known medieval practice as the bottles just wouldn’t hold up to the pressure .

The combination of grains and temperature gave it the sweat flavor I was looking for.  The light smoky flavor and the light use of hops all came together to meet my expectations soundly.  I made this beer to celebrate the time period and to share, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Recipes


Fig and Blackberry Cordial

Fig and Blackberry Cordial

I thought for a moment that I would step outside of the beer brewing and mead making to do something different.  I was inspired by two things.  First, I wanted something that would be relevant to the arts within the Society for Creative Anachronism; a medieval re-creationist group I play with.  Second, this fig and blackberry tart that a wonderful pastry chef friend of mine packaged with a great catering package at one of our recent video shoots.

The flavors danced so well together that I just went on a fig kick.  I put figs in everything for weeks, finally soaking some in brandy.

Making cordials is pretty simple.  I let the liquor soak up the flavoring agents for 2-3 weeks, then strain and add a mixture of simple syrup to taste and let it sit for a few months to let heat of the alcohol settle and blend.

1.75 L Brandy VS
3 pints blackberries
17 oz. dried figs
1 cup simple syrup

The results were amazing.  It takes everything in me to save the bottles I need for competition.  I just might have to do this one again.  I got some great feedback from the recent competition.  It was a lot more fig than blackberry.  I didn’t mind this so much, but if I am to call it a fig and blackberry cordial, I should have removed some figs for more blackberries.


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Posted by on May 5, 2013 in How-To Brew, Recipes


Orcish Smoked Porter

Orcish Smoked Porter

The Orcish Smoked Porter is something that I expect to really enjoy for myself, as it is based on successful beers I have brewed in the past and one of my favorite peoples; the Orc.  I love the porters.  They are dark, packed with flavor, not overly hoppy, and are a perfect bed to lay other flavors on – in this case, smoky goodness.



Orcish Smoked Porter

OG: 1.062, IBUs: 37.8, SRM: 73, ABV: 6.2

.25 oz black patented malt
.5 lbs Caramel/Crystel 60
.5 lbs Chocolate
.5 lbs Pale 2 row
2 lbs Smoked Malt
5 lbs DME
Safale S-04

1 tsp Irish Moss
1 oz Chinook hops [12%] (bittering)
1 oz Willamette [5%] (aroma)

I picture in my mind a tribal scene where orcs are laying about or playing games and watching a giant caldron over a blazing fire boiling delicious wort for a coming celebration.  The hot fire deepens the color and caramelizes the sugars in the wort, a concoction of water and grains crudely roasted by open flame.

To reflect the resourceful nature of the orc, I would encourage you to use local wood flavors to smoke your grain if you are so able and inclined.  As that might be a bit much for the average homebrewer, some peat smoked malt should do nicely.  I want to experiment with some different flavors of smoke.  Some are harsh and can impart too much flavor, so backing off on the smoked component would not be a bad idea.  While most orcs will find this satisfying, we might want to keep an eye on it for human consumption.

The malts were chosen for color, flavor, and familiarity as they are typical of a modern great porter.  The bittering hops may impart a piney character to represent the mountainous environment of the orc home.  The finishing hops will be mild but hopefully add some earthy component and may even enhance the spicy flavor of the previous hop edition.  The goal here is balance with a good solid smoky flavor that will go great with meaty dishes.

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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Recipes


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Elven Blonde

I designed the Elven Blonde to be another good beer for beginning brewers and something really easy to enjoy and share.  Blondes are refreshing and light but still very flavorful.  I like them over American Ales because they are typically less hoppy, and I am not much of a hophead.

Elven Blonde

OG: 1.045, IBUs: 22.7, SRM: 3.6, ABV: 4.3

.5 lbs. CaraPils/Dextrine
.5 lbs. Crystal 10 Malt
.5 lbs. Vienna Malt
.5 lbs. American 2-row
5 lbs Extra Light DME
1 tsp Irish Moss
1 oz Tettnang hops [6.1%] (60 minutes bittering)
.5 oz Tettnang hops [6.1%] (5 minutes aroma)
Yeast: Wyeast London Ale III

The Blonde is a great beer to represent the elves; not just because one of the most famous elves was blonde, but because it is elegant, balanced, and precise.  The malts were chosen to keep the color as pale as I could, while giving the beer a subtle sweetness.  The yeast was chosen partly because of the fruity esters it will add to the beer and partly for its origin.  Elves have a history on the British Isles after all.  The hops just seemed like the right choice to balance the beer out.  It should have a pleasant, mild, and slightly spicy aroma.

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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Recipes


Arkham Pale Ale (American Amber Ale)

The Arkham Pale Ale was designed to be a gateway beer into the world of home brewing.  I set out to design a first beer to be simple, but with a theme worthy of attention.  While this is actually more of an American Amber Ale, it pales in comparison to the dark nature of Cthulhu, for whom we hope to summon with all of our friends with this beer.

Status: Beta.  My first pass got some pretty good reviews.  An experienced home brewing friend of mine suggested swapping the hop editions, so next time, I think I will try this. Everything else will remain the same.

Arkham Pale Ale (American Amber Ale)

OG: 1.052, IBUs: 33.4, SRM: 13.3, ABV: 5.2%

.5 lbs. American 2-row
.5 lbs Crystal 10
.5 lbs CaraPils (Dextrine)
3 oz. Black Patent Malt
5 lbs Light DME
2 oz Willamette [4.7%] (bittering hops)
1 oz Cascade [6.4%] (aroma hops)
1 tsp Gypsum
1 tsp Irish Moss
Safale American  US-05, Dry Yeast Addition
5 oz Corn Sugar (for bottle conditioning)

When designing a beer for first-time brewers, I wanted to go with something that was pretty widely accepted.   I chose the American Pale Ale at first because it is a pretty widely accepted beer.  It was clean and simple.   I also just liked the sound of the name.  Arkham is American, and you need something refreshing to drink when you’re not chasing around the city closing extra dimensional rifts.

As I started researching ingredients, I couldn’t help but to add something dark.  I expect the black patent malt to add just enough character to represent the dark ones.  With as little as I added, I don’t expect to notice a lot more than just the color, but we will see.  The rest of it is just good American beer.  I may experiment someday by increasing the Black Patent Malt to how its roasted darkness impacts the beer.

The real characteristic of the American ale is the American hops.  Cascade hops should add a citrus character to the beer that you would expect of this style.  An addition of brewing salt (the gypsum) should add crispness to the bittering hops.  American yeast tends to ferment cleanly.  The malts were chosen to give the beer a little body, some head, and just a bit of sweet in an otherwise dry beer.  It should also have enough kick to it to help you unwind very quickly.


Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Recipes


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