Home Brew Interview: Joe Fellers – Part 3

The second part of this interview with local home brewer Joe Fellers can be discovered here. Therein he talked about local ingredients, legalities and beer trends. Below is the final segment and it gets historical and philosophical.


So let’s get back to home brewing. Why should people get into home brewing?

It’s one of the oldest art forms. And it’s not just home brewing, I think there’s a lost art of making things we consume. There’s too much consuming and not enough making. Prior to getting into home brewing I liked to cook, but it has somehow enhanced my love of cooking and my love of food and the process because I’ve refined my palate. It’s turned me into a real elitist prick – but you know what I tell people? Just because I don’t like ****** things doesn’t make me an elitist. I will admit that I drank four Coors Light last night

– I can cut that part out.

No. No don’t. You know what I wanted to do? I wanted to drive home but I kinda wanted something that tasted like beer.

– Honestly me and a friend did a blind taste test years ago. We sampled Bud, Miller, Coors and threw Corona in there, just for fun.

Did you do Corona in cans or Corona in bottles?

– Bottles

Yeah, see if you did it in cans you can tell … I was just going to bring that up. I recently had three Corona’s from cans and you know what it tastes like? Come to find out, there’s a reason it tastes like this, but it tastes just like, well, a 90% match, with Hofbrau House Original Helles. And that’s because some people from the Hofbrauhaus, in the mid-1800s, settled in central Mexico and that’s where the Mexican light lager comes from. They brought yeast strains with them. I knew that there were Germans in Mexico but I hadn’t had Corona in cans – other than hammered at the lake – in fifteen years. I poured it into a glass and it was a nice straw color and it wasn’t skunky. I had forgotten what unskunked Corona tastes like. But anyway – you were doing a blind taste test.

– Yeah, and that might’ve made a difference

I’m telling you, man, it’s a huge difference. Heineiken’s the same way. Heineken is a very good lager, a fine example of a European light lager. And I don’t think they’re an adjunct beer. I think it’s all grain.

– Well we did that blind test – and I’ve always put Coors down, but honestly that one tasted better than the others.

It was ice cold?

– They were nice and cold, we had other people pouring for us. I was surprised how well Coors tasted compared to the rest.

It’s interesting to do stuff like that. I wish I could do taste testing like that here. But our distributor will not allow,and Tim won’t allow, Budweiser products here and I completely understand. But I would like to do it to prove a point. People have their brand loyalty when it comes to things but they have brand loyalty up here (points to the brain case) and not what they actually taste.

– Tell us the best resources for home brewers.

Your local brewery. Always. Make friends with your local brewer and the day shift bartender throughout the week. They’ll introduce you to people. The second best resource is going to be online home brew forums. Message boards and forums are kind of an antiquated form of communication on the internet but when it comes to home brewing they are a wealth of information. That’s where I’ve learned almost everything. In a lifetime, if you spent even three hours a day, you’ll never get through all the information there.

But number one would be your local brewery. As long as you like their beers. If you think their beers are not that great, then don’t go to them. But chances are, if they’re still in business they know what they’re doing. And talk to the brewers because they’ll be the first ones to tell you, “don’t do that.” Most brewers, most professional brewers started out as home brewers. In fact, the majority of them that I’ve ever met started off brewing beer because they were underage in college. They bought a home-brew kit on line because they didn’t card them online and so they could brew the beer. It gets you drunk. It’s college. Who cares. Some Uncle Ben’s Minute Rice and some grain you bought for $15 online, might as well do it.

– Are there any brewing techniques or processes that you have discovered that can help home brewers make better beer?

Don’t be afraind to fail. Don’t be worried about “oh, man, I hope this doesn’t taste bad.” You’re going to make bad beers. You’re going to have bad ideas. You’re going to forget to do something. You are going to make the mistake of drinking while you’re brewing, which is a bad idea. It’s a terrible idea. It’s how you end up with really terrible IPAs, that’s how you end up with infections, that’s how you end up making mistakes in your quantities. You get yourself a 15% IPA when you wanted a 6% or you end up with a 2% IPA.

It’s hard for me to give advice when it comes to home-brew technique because I kinda started ahead of the curve – because of Tim. Tim has such an engineering mind that he said, “listen, I went through all this, I don’t want you to have to deal with that. So we’re going to start you off at 7 as opposed to going 1-6.” So a lot of my techniques come from that.

Clean. Be clean. If the cleanest area of your house – you could be a slob, your room could be terrible, your dishes are dirty, food caked on stuff in your fridge – if the only area of your house that is clean is where your brewing equipment is and it’s clean, you rinse it off before using it and scrub it clean after youre done using, you keep all that clean. Make sure you put your concentration in that area. If you’re going to home brew you have to keep things clean otherwise you’re going to have garbage. Garbage in, garbage out. That’s the key. Sanitization.

– Any good gadgets that have helped your brew day be better?

If you brew in a garage have a deep sink. If you have a deep sink in your garage put a hose fitting on the faucet and then run a tube off of it. Just like we [B3] have out back. I have one in my house. It’s so handy for everything. For cleaning. I’m not kidding, I walk out in my garage from my kitchen when I have to fill up more than a gallon, when I have to make stock or something like that, I’ll go out there and use it because I can set my pot on the ground and fill up from that hose. That’s my number one favorite gadget.

Spray bottle. It sounds weird. A spray bottle with sanitizer or just alcohol. I have three of them at my house at all times. I spray down everything. I actually will do a fine mist of sanitizer in my fridge like once a week, in my ferment fridge and my serving fridge. Just to keep any sort of bugs at bay. But I’ll also do a fine mist of sanitizer in my bucket. I also use isopropyl alcohol if I’m going to do any kind of hot ferment. Anything above about 62 degrees, for like my ciders, a few hefeweizens and a few other things. I have one stout I ferment at 68 degrees, which is weird. But if I do a hot ferment everything gets sprayed down with alcohol because I want to control every aspect. And that comes from home brewing. I didn’t do that before.

So spray bottles and a hose bib connector for your sink, both are invaluable.

– What is your personal brewing philosophy, if we haven’t covered it yet?

The Sumerians were brewing beer thousands of years ago. You’re going to make beer, and whether you like that beer or not, that doesn’t matter, you’re going to make beer. So always keep it simple, listen to people that know more than you. That’s it. And I follow that all the time. I’ve got one friend of mine who’s .. four batches I think he’s made, maybe five. He just kegged his first batch about three weeks ago. It’s a Belgian blonde with blood orange. It was really good except he bought a kit and it wasn’t … the blood orange syrup that went into it just didn’t last. It lasted about two weeks and now he has a blonde ale. it doesn’t even have Belgian-y characteristics to it. It tripped the trigger. It got you in. Now he’s hooked. He keeps asking ‘what-if’ questions. I tell him it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. He asks, ‘well aren’t you worried about this or that?’ And I’m not. I’ve done 216 batches and had three infections and about 10 that I didn’t like. So, 13 beers in 200 batches, okay. That’s enough failure for me to learn lessons. You’re going to fail, you’re going to screw up. But no matter what you’re still going to make beer, even if you don’t like it. Then learn from those mistakes.

– Tell me some positive things about Kingman, as a home brewer.

That any time from about 6 am to about 10 pm at night, sometimes even later, we’re a tight knit community of home brewers; you always have someone you can get hold of. Tim, even though he seems surly, he’s a real big softie, he’s a big baby, he’s a real nice guy. If you’ve got an emergency and you’re like, ‘man, I’m like 35 minutes into my 90 minute boil and I just realized that I don’t have enough hops’ – call him up and he’ll help work it out. Because chances are he’s had that problem before. Jason Fuller, same thing. Me, I work nights. Three nights a week you can catch me at 2 am. If for some reason you have a brewing emergency at 2 am you can hit me up. And I know about 5 or 6 other brewers locally who are the same way. We’re all willing to help each other out. Brewing is a community. We’re all weird, brewing nerds. We all just love this stuff.

– What is the social need for alcohol?

Oh man, that’s a multi-tiered answer. First and foremost, humans have been consuming some kind of alcoholic – excuse me – some kind of mind altering substance as a form of community for thousands of years. It pre-dates the written word … I would say it’s right around the same time the spoken word came about. Anthropoligists say that humans started settling into communities and stopped being nomads because they needed to make substances that altered their minds. And to do that you can’t just roam around – well, it’s easier to grow your wheat and your barley and your sorghum and whatever it is your growing to make your alcoholic substance. So there’s a sense of community that comes with that.

When this country was being formed it was formed in taverns. Even the teetotalers showed up to the taverns because they knew that’s where the sense of community was centered. Not only that but your small communities, even up until just barely pre-Prohibition in the US, most decisions were made, in small towns, at the local tavern or ale house. Or at the brewery. Sometimes all three of those were the same place. So you had city council meetings, you had planning and zoning commissions, you had all those different things, all those things that were decided as a community, in and around alcohol. That’s number one, a sense of community. And that’s a very ancient thing, a very old part of our brain. It goes back thousands and thousands of years.

The need for alcohol, the social need – most people don’t want to talk about it, but everybody has social hangups. Not everyone is forthright and honest without some sort of chemical alteration. Whether it’s benzodiazepines to calm your social anxiety and makes you more outward and outgoing. Alcohol covers those bases and allows me to be more honest about what I’m talking about now. Literally self-referential.

– What’s an overrated craft beer?

Stone IPA

– What’s an underrated craft beer?

Any good pilsener from a microbrewery. And the reason I say pilsener is because a lot of people don’t realize, unless they are a home brewer, that a pilsener is one of the hardest things to brew. Because there is nowhere to hide. You’ve got an IPA, you can screw up your fermentation, your mash pH and all that – just add more hops, add more hops. Boil longer. Leave it in the keg longer. When you have a pilsener and it takes you five weeks to make it and you have five weeks and one day to put it on tap, there’s nowhere to hide. You have to be perfect. There’s no room to screw it up. That’s why when I go to a brewery that has a pilsener on tap, and they call it a pilsener, that’s the first beer that I order. Just to see if it’s good. If that pilsener’s good, I don’t even have to try the rest of the beers. I know they’re going to knock it out of the park because it’s so tough to make a pilsener. Which is why I’ve never tried to make a pilsener. I did a Munich style helles one time and it was okay but it took way too long. It took me almost five weeks, probably four weeks and about 3 or 4 days. No. Give me a hefeweizen, three days primary fermentation, two days to crash cool it, keg it one day. Five days.

– Tell me about the beer scene in Kingman. Is it good, bad, otherwise?

It’s so, so much better. More people are getting turned on to home brewing, more people are getting turned on to craft beer. While I’m conflicted about a second brewery in town, I know that the more breweries the better because that means there’s less bad beer out there. Or less boring beer. Because I don’t like boring.


Home Brew Interview: Joe Fellers – Part 2

Here are some additional words from local home brewer, Joe Fellers, from Black Bridge Brewery and the Cartoon Casual podcast.

We left off with his experience with yeast culturing.  You can find the first part of the interview here.  Now, read on for Part 2.


– So, we’ve talked about beer and cider. What other kinds of alcohol interest you?

I do love whiskey’s. I like – I’m really particular when it comes to whiskey’s. I can’t stand most American whiskey’s except for bourbon. Don’t like sour mash in any way, shape or form. I don’t really like white lightning, moonshine. I do love a good, dark rum. And by good I mean Captain Morgan Private Stock and then up. I’m not even that discerning when it comes to dark rum. Bourbons, rums. Lately, in the past year or so I’ve gotten into Scotch and only because I have a friend who has more money than me and is very …

– Your One Percenter pal?

Yeah, my one percenter pal, who is also very generous with his Scotch and knows his Scotch really well.

– Have you had the rums out at Desert Diamond?

I have. I go out there probably once a month and try their stuff. I really, really like Desert Diamond’s stuff. And again, it’s all local. Even their sugarcane comes from southern Arizona so that’s as local as it’s going to get.

I do love wine. Wine is something that is a new thing for me, probably in the past six or seven years. And only last summer did I finally get into white wine. I looked real manly just swirling my white wine around. It doesn’t matter though, I really don’t care because when it’s hot out there, when it’s 110 degrees and you walk into barely swamp-cooled places and it’s still 90 degrees inside, I want a chilled pinot grigio. It just tastes good. And I will not be emasculated for that!

– Hey, some of the best men in history have enjoyed good wines. Okay, so what’s the best beer trend right now?

Best beer trend? Do you want overall trend, or trendy?

– Overall trend

Best overall trend is toward craft beer because we’re still chipping away at the big boys of beer, their market share. The report for 2017 is another three percent we chipped away. Which is almost twenty percent in the past ten years, excuse me, the past twelve years. Still a long way to go.

Then I would say, trendy, the thing that I love is keeping things as local as possible. When it comes to ingredients, when it comes to staff, when it comes to self-distributing. Because as soon as you pay somebody to distribute your beer you add another barrier between the brewer and the consumer. I like self-distribution. There are several states that have now passed laws in the past twelve months or so that allow for self-distribution of microbreweries, whereas before they had to sell their beers to a distributor and the distributor sells it to a seller and then sellers provide it to the person.

– Is the Homebrewer’s Association working on furthering that? I know they are getting into a lot of legal issues.

I know that the Brewer’s Association is really big on pushing that. I wouldn’t say they are lobbyists but they are definitely pushing things in that direction, providing lawyers when needed to kind of help. People hear about things, legal problems when it comes to the craft beer industry or even the craft distilling industry because they have the same difficulty, a lot of the legal difficulties aren’t barriers put in place on purpose, the laws were just written prior to the industry kind of taking over like it has. The best example of that is in Arizona – up until a couple of summers ago you could only have growlers that were glass. They couldn’t be metal. That changed two summers ago. Now, you had breweries who didn’t care about it, they were like ‘we’re going to use metal because it’s more sustainable, it weighs less’ and etc. But technically it was illegal. It had to be a glass container, 32 ounces, 64 ounces, no more than 128 ounces. And that’s what the law stated. But that’s because the law was written when glass was the only thing available, in a large capacity. So a lot of those things have to be changed. And it’s happening.

Dogfish Head – you know how they got their start. Sam Caligione got the money and, come to find out, breweries were illegal in the state. He went to the state congress and changed it. Pretty phenomenal. So a lot of things on the books are getting changed and I like to see that. And it’s opening people’s eyes. But on the whole, I’d say my favorite trend is the local, essentially farm-to-table, but for beer. Getting things as local as possible. If we had the climate here I would love to see a Kingman hops variety used in twenty percent of the beer.

– I have a friend here who has some hops vines. I need to talk to him some more about it because I’d really like to use that in my home brew. So, I think local hops would be something that’s possible.

Absolutely. It is possible – if you plant it properly.  And you have to water the bejesus out of it. And you’re not going to have the production that you would normally have in an area that was cloudier and cooler, we don’t get that. The Pacific Northwest, central Czech Republic and southern Germany, like those areas, they get their first cold snap, which is what triggers your hops oils to produce and then it warms up again – we don’t get that. Sometimes we do, but sometimes it’s 95 degrees in October. But consistently the Pacific Northwest, New Zealand, those latitudes they hit that cold snap in late August, early September. But you can get it around here. I’ve had beer made with hops from around here. You just have to use a lot more. Jeremy Fass, he grew some in his back yard. It didn’t produce a lot and it took two years, or three seasons to get a few ounces off of one vine.

Tell me the opposite of that, what’s the stupidest beer trend?

Oh man. Let’s see if I can marginalize and alienate people.

– Don’t worry, you can say anything and in the current culture you’re going to offend someone.

Yeah, this is an offended culture.

Anything that’s so extreme that it is a detriment to whatever it is. So if you have an IPA and you put too much hops in there and all it does is eat the enamel off your teeth, there’s no subtle nuances, there’s no finesse to it, I don’t like that. Same thing goes with sours. Oh, I had a smoked pale ale from a brewery I won’t name and it was kind of like drinking liquid smoke. For hours, hours afterward I would burp and I thought a puff of smoke was going to come out.  I only had one of them.  I bought a six pack (I wish I had that $11 back), but I powered through the one. Half of it was while I was eating food so it was easier to take and once I was done eating my food I drank the rest of it and it was so bad. So if you’re going to have a smoked beer, it should be in addition to the beer itself, it should complement. It’s all about balance. Anything that’s completely out of whack for what the beer should be is just too extreme. Going way to extreme is just annoying.

There’s a couple ways to look at that. There’s a beer that’s on tap, most of the time, at a brewery in Vegas, that’s around twelve to thirteen percent [abv]. It’s not very good. And not to toot our horn, but Wicked Poison is at fourteen percent. It’s good. It pays the rent. It’s a very popular beer. It’s like a blank, clean slate. You can add all sorts of things to it but it’s also good by itself. So if the end result of the extremism is a detriment to the product and it’s just extreme to be extreme, that’s annoying to me.


So we’ll end part 2 here.  The final segment of Joe’s interview will be here soon.

Home Brew Interview: Joe Fellers – Part 1

Kingman has a community of home brewers.  Now is the time to bring them into the light for they are the vanguard of such fabulous beer in this town.  Joe Fellers is one of these home brewers; many of you will also know him from his tapster duties at Black Bridge Brewery on Saturday’s.  You probably also know of the podcast he co-hosts,  Cartoon Casual.  Now you will know more of him.  This interview will be published in multiple parts, so keep reading.


– First, tell us the story of your beginnings, your home-brewing beginnings . How’d you get started?

In the summer of 2009 I was unemployed and had just been dumped by my live-in girlfriend. So she left, I didn’t have a job or any money, but I still liked beer. So my buddy Steve said, ‘hey you should come over to this guy’s house, he makes his own beer in the garage. Come over and have some beers.’ I was sure it was going to be awful, served out of some plastic buckets.

– You had no faith in home brewing.

None. I had none, because I had had one home brew experience about ten years before and it was garbage. I was just going to go ahead and continue to buy my own beer. I mean, I liked okay beer at the time – Fat Tire, Arrogant Bastard, like the junior league craft beer stuff.

So I go over to Tim Schritter’s house and I walk in his garage – and his garage is set up basically like a brewery. Not basically, it was a brewery. He had a nice stainless steel hand-wash sink; he had six refrigerators or something in there, some for service, some for fermenting; got introduced to Tim and I proceeded to get completely wasted out of my gourd because every single beer I tried was really, really good.  And then I told Tim, “hey I wanna learn how to make beer” (spoken in Will Ferrel’s Harry Caray voice, if you know Joe you can hear it now) and he was like, ‘okay, you come back in the morning and I’ll teach you how to make beer.’ Later on, I found out he didn’t expect me to show up; but I got up, grabbed a couple of Egg McMuffins and some energy drinks and showed up at like 7:30 in the morning the next day and, uh, and that’s it. That’s how I began home brewing. He showed me how to brew beer, I looked up the chemistry – the actual chemistry behind it and got really interested in it because I’ve always been interested in science.  Through Tim, and then Jason Fuller, as well, because he’s a science teacher and a home brewer – we all saw eye to eye. It all just clicked in my brain, it totally made sense to me. It’s one of those things where some people look at something and it makes sense – I looked at recipes, at mash temps and things like that and it just kinda made sense.

– What other kind of science do you have in your background?

Just a giant nerd. I always excelled at science. I grew up in Ohio, so you had to take earth science, biology, chemistry then physics in high school and I tested out in the first two so when I was a freshman I was taking junior level classes and I just went from there. I just absolutely love it. So I had no real background in anything scientifically applicable to brewing, but it clicked in my brain – ‘oh, okay so this – we need to have a good mash pH for this and have this and this and amylase reactions …’ For whatever reasons, that all made sense to me.

– So why do you keep home brewing?

I get like a creative energy that I just need to get out.  I love to cook.  I love taking something from raw ingredients and making something different out of it. Brewing allows me to do that. And I’m not working in a commercial setting so I can do whatever the hell I want. I can experiment, and if it’s god-awful, then it’s god-awful. Like, my Bavarian style hefeweizen ferments at above 68 degrees, has banana characteristics to it.  I love chocolate covered bananas so why not add chocolate to a Bavarian style hef? Not a good idea, for the record. It’s not very good! But I figured that out by making it and then forcing myself to drink five gallons of it. Because I’ve never actually done small batch home brewing, like I’ve never done a one gallon batch – it’s been four and half to five gallon batches every time I’ve done an experimental beer.

– I just saw an article about blending. Have you ever done that with your beers, your home brews? Like if something went wrong, or just purposely blending them together?

No. I never have. Whenever I’ve had anything go wrong, it was so tragically wrong I didn’t even want to dump it down my drain. I wanted to dump it down someone else’s drain.

– Were you able to do that?

Yes, and I will not disclose where it was dumped. I’ve only ever had three tragic failures – only three I can remember were actual real bad failures. And they weren’t even failures of my own – it was the airlock getting clogged and blew the top off and infected the beer. That happened to me twice and another time was just pure dumb.

– Tell us your current favorite beer or beer style.

What’s Red Bridge? Irish red? Current favorite because it’s in my hand.

But honestly I have to say, I have to supplant that with Hops & Dreams, the New England IPA. It’s just so … I went through what a lot of people went through that were into craft beer or have been into craft beer, say, the past four or five years – the hop fatigue, so to speak.  Because IPA’s became so prevalent but also turned into a pecker measuring contest. “Let’s hop it up as much possible!” But that’s akin to the guys at the chili cook off who say “you can’t have more than a couple of spoonfuls of my chili, it’s so hot.” Well, I’m hungry. I want to taste, I want something with good flavor, I don’t want it to be just too hot. The same thing goes for IPAs, it just got to be a little too much. And now sours are starting to become like that. So for a while I just went away from IPAs, heavily hopped IPAs.  But the more I try this “New England Style,” the hazy, citrusy IPA, well I’m falling in love with them all over again. I just had to take a break and then go back to them. So lately my favorite has been the New England Style IPAs.

– So, now that your boss has left, what’s your current favorite brewery?

To be perfectly honest with you it’s almost always Black Bridge and it has nothing to do with brand loyalty, which I do have, obviously.  Brand loyalty because I work here; I’ve seen it grow from Tim making beer in five gallon buckets and serving it in his garage and getting me drunk to what you see now.  But, Tim and I, while we’re friends, I don’t get a lot of communication from him that tells me what’s coming up. He’ll tell me, ‘hey guess what I’m going to brew tomorrow’ but that’s about the extent of it. It’s not like I know what’s going on in his head.  So I’m still surprised by the beers that I’m pouring. But if had to pick a “second favorite” even though my boss is still gone, it would probably have to be Wanderlust, out of Flagstaff.

– All right, I’m on board with that. I love that place.

I do, too. And I love the idea of … I’m a big fan of the farm-to-table movement when it comes to food and I love the idea of making beer as local as possible. Because while it is cool to import things, just weird, exotic things to put into your beers, I like the extreme opposite of that which is grain that is grown down the street and yeast harvested literally out of thin air, which is what they did for several of their beers at Wanderlust. They don’t buy commercial yeast. Their 928 Local, whatever the hell it is, I don’t even know – I think it could kinda be considered a farmhouse ale – 928 Local is yeast that was propagated from sugar water being left out, just like you would a sourdough starter. And it’s delicious. So yeah I’d say that Wanderlust is my favorite, that I don’t work at.

– Have you ever been able to do that ‘bootleg biology?’ Culturing your own yeast like that?

I have. I’ve done it on several different levels. The house strain … oh, I forgot, who makes Fat Tire? New Belgium. New Belgium’s house strain that they use for the majority of their beers is incredibly hardy and it’s related to Scottish 1728 that we use here and they actually use it in their lagers as well. It’s technically an ale yeast.  But I propagated that, or harvested that, from several bottles of Fat Tire. Left a little in the bottom of the bottle, swirled it around, add it to the thing and put it in the fridge and six or seven bottles later start adding some sugar syrup to it and then you propagate.  Then made a batch of beer and saved it. I actually have a few vials in my refrigerator. But as far as spontaneous fermentation, I’ve never done that locally, but I plan on doing it this summer. I have a friend whose mom has several apple trees. I want to make a cider the traditional way. I found somebody in town who has a cider press and I want to try to make 15-20 gallons of cider and ferment the must from yeast I harvested out of the air.



Hooked, aren’t you?  Well, I’m going to stop there for now.  Watch for the next post wherein we’ll uncover Joe’s other favorite alcohol’s, his view on beer trends and legal diatribes.

Gender Roles and Brewing

One of the first axioms learned in home brewing is Charlie Papazian’s Proverb:  “Relax.  Don’t worry.  Have a home brew.”  Two weeks ago I heard that refrain on the Brewing Patio at Black Bridge.  A Belgian Blonde was being brewed by two women, Rachel & Sharon.  They were both questioning temperature as the beer was being transferred to the fermentation vessels.  They were told to ‘not worry so much.’  Their response was, ‘we’re women.  We worry.’

The declaration made me wonder: do women, in fact, worry more than men?  What is the objective of their worry compared to men?  Are they concerned about their reputations?  Or are they concerned about the well being of those they serve? Or is it pointless to even make that a thing because, we are all, you know, people?  After all, let’s not forget it was a man who penned the above warning regarding worry.  Many men have read that warning and have had to remind themselves of it during a stressful brewday.

Before you continue reading, I feel I must warn you – there are no answers to the above questions.  At least, not from me.  Go forth, then, and have a full discussion of gender roles.

Traditionally women have been entrusted with domestic management.  They have always been concerned about how and known the way to take care of their family.  An important part of family life is centered around food and drink.  Beer – or wine, or mead, or alcohol of choice – has always been a part of human life; from ancient times women were usually bread makers and beer brewers. It was a home activity. Once it became a profession or an industry men arrogated it.  More women are becoming involved in the commercial brewing industry now.  Women may especially worry about their performance in this industry and others because they are working in what has now become a man’s environment and they feel they must prove themselves.  Whose fault is that?

The point?  Humans have brewed.  Humans are brewing.  Maybe we should just leave it at that.  Gender politics should not be a thing.  Therefore, I have mixed feelings on whether I should write this up the way I am. But here I am doing it.  Fine.  I’ll throw this in – one difference I noted in the Belgian brewday was the number of selfies happening.  I have no idea how that fits into the gender role discussion.

As noted above the beer being brewed was Belgian Blonde with additions of prickly pear.  That’s right, No Pricks Allowed has returned.  While the female brewers of the beer were different than last year there have been no other stylistic to the beer.  From what I recall, it was a beautiful beverage – outstanding clarity and bright purple color.  It had a light body and drank quickly and easily.  It’s Belgian-ness was not overpowering, nor was the prickly pear.

Here we are in the post-modern information age and still arguing over race and gender.  I’m simply going to argue that No Pricks Allowed was a good beer last time around.   And If I recall correctly, last year’s iteration of this beer encouraged Janelle to begin her own home brewing adventures.

Politics, gender or otherwise, may be a verboten subject at the brewery (yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s not true) but beer and brewing is always on the table so check for this Belgian Blonde in the coming week.  Raise a glass to the people in your life.

Weekend Beer Recommendations

For October 6-8, 2017

Here are my recommendations for what you should be drinking.  You do what you want, of course.

Homebrew.  If you have it at home it should be your first choice.  Prime your weekend of beer with a brew of your own.  I have Shistory Saison.  It’s a very brown saison with a little pepper in the background as it warms.  This batch suffers from overcarbonation but that seems to be subsiding as it ages.  Still good.

Local Beer.  At Black Bridge, I’d recommend a couple of beers:  first, Oktoberfest.  I agree that this should be a year-round beer.  It’s a sunset-copper color, sweet & malty but not overly so.  Basically, this is a liquid metaphor of the change in seasons.  The other recommendation would be Li’l Orange Van, the orange vanilla weiss beer.  Yes, it’s a creamsicle in a glass; drink one of those as a shout out to summer, then Oktoberfest to say goodbye to summer.  All right, bonus recommendation – for you weirdo’s who like the pumpkiny stuff, Heckedy Peg will be arriving soon.  It’s fine, for a pumpkin beer.  If that’s your thing, well, super, I guess.  Just don’t talk to me about it.

 Other Commercial Beer.  Both options above may be unavailable to you, or maybe you eschew them and just want a beer from the shelf.  If so, drink a Sam Adams OctoberFest.

This weekend has supervenient beer events.  The 2017 Brews and Brats Oktoberfest will be held at Metcalfe Park.  Black Bridge will be providing the beer again.  In addition to the Oktoberfest noted above, a schwarzbier will be available and also Go To Helles, the brewery’s faux-lager yellow fizzy clone, which is terribly popular and really quite good.  And on Sunday, the Sunday Funday Breakfast will return to Black Bridge.

Learning To Brew

Learning to brew
Is the coolest thing
Making a wort
That’s worth drinking

 … Hasta La Vista, Tom Petty …

Recently I reconnected with some old friends (hi Rob & Dom!).  It takes not long to determine that I am obsessed with beer and brewing and even dabble in the alchemy we call homebrewing myself.  Therefore, one of these old friends asked me how to get started in this hobby.

I was happy to provide some starting advice and it occurred to me that I really hadn’t written up anything like that on this blog.  I’ve talked about the homebrewing adventure and some of my experiences therein but I have not included any kind of resources for anyone wishing to delve into this hobby.   Therefore, I hope a few of the following notes will be of assistance to any who wish to get started.   Once you’ve begun, well, doubtless the DIY zeitgeist will possess you and then there are many other resources to be found to help you build your system.  So this is just for the novice.

And, please, if you are a home brewer reading this and you think of a resource or advice that needs to be added, please leave a comment.  Thanks & Cheers!

Home Brew Supply Store
If you have a homebrew supply store near you (and by that I mean in the town or city within which you dwell), fantastic!  This store will be full of all the equipment and ingredients you need to begin homebrewing.  More importantly, the owners of the store will likely be experienced home brewers who can answer your questions and walk you through your brew day.  If there is not one nearby then you’ll need to consult the all knowing oracle of our time, Google.

I use Brewers Connection in Phoenix, AZ.  There’s also More Beer.  No doubt you’ll be able to find one in your state that can ship you the things you require.  These online outlets may also have various books and brochures available that describe the brewing process.  Buying online may give you the ingredients but likely you’ll still need, or want, tutoring.

Local Brewery
For pointer, experience and encouragement you need go to your local brewery.   Make friends with the owner(s) and brewer(s) there – in fact, with the entire staff.  This crew will be very knowledgeable about beer making, beer styles, beer appreciation, beer everything.  They will be ridiculously happy to help you in the homebrew journey.

Homebrewers are usually among the most ardent supporters of the local.  The staff of the local, likely homebrewers themselves, can point you in the direction of the homebrew community in your locale.  Maybe a club even meets at the brewery.  All of them will be able to give you superb guidance to making the best beer possible.  Your local may also be able to act as a surrogate home brew supply store on a brew day that goes wrong, too.

I’ll take this moment to give a shout out to Kingman’s local, Black Bridge.  The crew there is outstanding and I am indebted to them for furthering my beer knowledge.  For a very long time, I thought I knew this town and beer.  The local has helped me to realize both those postulations were false.  The best lesson you can get is that you know nothing.  Then you can move on.  So, thanks to everybody there!

American Homebrewers Association
This is a national organization dedicated to homebrewing.  They have a vast database of recipes, lots of tutorials, lists of home brew supply stores and they sponsor Learn To Homebrew Day.  This occurs annually on the first Saturday of in November. This year that falls on November 4 and its express purpose is to propagate the home brewing community.  If there’s an event near you this is a wonderful opportunity to be exposed to a larger community of brewers.

Brew on!



On Imperial Stout – Most Notably, Angry Elf

In his book Brewing Porters & Stouts author Terry Foster enumerates several stouts that he had readily available at the time of his writing or that were in his locale.  Some of the names are renowned and acclaimed:  Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, Yeti Imperial Stout, Narwhal.  Foster consecrates an entire page to sundry stouts and then declares:  “You should have no difficulty finding other versions of this style in your own area.”

That was no fallacious declaration.  Verily, in our small town we can find our own imperial stout.  Angry Elf is that stout; brewed initially by Kingman home brewer Mike Hinman and now often offered on tap at Black Bridge Brewery.   There should be no qualms about putting it amongst the other beers noted above.  It was last on tap late last year (2016) and a portion of this inky potation secreted away in forgotten vaults.  I am grateful I was allowed a sample of this well aged beer.  It was outstanding.

It pours an impenetrable black, a darkness that even the sun cannot pierce, with a dense brownish bay of foam for its head. Only at the edges of the glass can you discern some brown and red accentuations.  The bouquet is redolent of dark fruit and high alcohol like a brandy or cognac or some other liquor of which I am ignorant.  This smell portends its alcoholic potency.  (Yeah, don’t really remember the alcohol content; knowing Tim & Mike it’s probably like ten to twelve percent.)

The first sip:  surprisingly, it’s very soft; not as aggressive as one might think after gazing upon it and recalling its name (Angry Elf).  It’s more like Will Ferrel’s Elf.  There’s a slight nod to vanilla and hops are palpable at the edges of the tongue; a bitterness intended only to offset the hedonic, malty power of the body but not to be harsh or resinous.

Great, now I’m thinking of Will Ferrel … the relish of candied marshmallow is discernible, maybe, in the next draught?  Along with a little anise?  It is even minutely smoky – as in cigar, not peat.  It dries on the tongue expeditiously while not being astringent.  The warmth of the alcohol is subtle, an alluring fade out.  Roasted malt becomes more apparent as the body warms.  The beer’s body, not mine.

Kingman has some sublimely talented brewers both in the home brew community and at the professional level in Black Bridge.  Angry Elf is a child of both.  It hits all the right markers for the style but is far more than a derivative of those guidelines.  It’s a confident, not arrogant, beer.  Everyone said that aging this beer made it even better (6-8 months, I think?) and they were not unsound in their views.  At all.  It’s a complex beer wherein no one factor overpowers or outshines the other.  Really a superb accomplishment.

(Joe even let me in on a secret:  apparently, this stout has won gold medals at beer competitions!  My shock is not apparent.)*

So, two gold medal beers from Black Bridge:  Angry Elf and Katastrophic Humiliation.  And I’m sure they will be appearing in competition once again.  Beware, other beers.

See below for additional info on what to expect out of any imperial stout you like to drink.

20C. Imperial Stout

  • An intensely-flavored, big, dark ale with a wide range of flavor balances and regional interpretations.
    • Roasty-burnt malt with deep dark or dried fruit flavors, and a warming, bittersweet finish.
  • Despite the intense flavors, the components need to meld together to create a complex, harmonious beer, not a hot mess.
  • Aroma: Rich and complex, with variable amounts of roasted grains, maltiness, fruity esters, hops, and alcohol. The roasted malt character can take on coffee, dark chocolate, or slightly burnt tones and can be light to moderately strong. The malt aroma can be subtle to rich and barleywine-like.
  • Fruity esters may be low to moderately strong, and may take on a complex, dark fruit (e.g., plums, prunes, raisins) character.
  • An alcohol character may be present, but shouldn’t be sharp, hot, or solventy. Aged versions may have a slight vinous or port-like quality, but shouldn’t be sour.
  • Color may range from very dark reddish-brown to jet black. Opaque. Deep tan to dark brown head. Generally has a well-formed head
  • Flavor: Rich, deep, complex and frequently quite intense, with variable amounts of roasted malt/grains, maltiness, fruity esters, hop bitterness and flavor, and alcohol. Medium to aggressively high bitterness.
    • Malt backbone can be balanced and supportive to rich and barleywine-like, and may optionally show some supporting caramel, bready or toasty flavors.
    • The palate and finish can vary from relatively dry to moderately sweet
    • The balance and intensity of flavors can be affected by aging, with some flavors becoming more subdued over time and some aged, vinous or port-like qualities developing.
  • Full to very full-bodied and chewy, with a velvety, luscious texture. Gentle smooth warmth from alcohol should be present and noticeable, but not a primary characteristic;
  • The wide range of allowable characteristics allow for maximum brewer creativity.

Brewers Association 2017 Beer Style Guidelines
American-Style Imperial Stout

  • Color: Black
  • Clarity: Opaque
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Extremely rich malty aroma is typical. Extremely rich malty flavor with full sweet malt character is typical. Roasted malt astringency and bitterness can be moderate but should not dominate the overall character.
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Medium-high to high with floral, citrus and/or herbal character.
  • Perceived Bitterness: Medium-high to very high and balanced with rich malt character.
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity-estery aromas and flavors are high. Diacetyl should be absent.
  • Body: Full


Oh, I guess Joe indulged in what we would call “humor.”  Apparently EVERYONE knows it’s a gold medal beer!