“Ryesponsibale Collaboration” – A session IPA

Maybe we could call it RC?  Or by it’s full legal name The Mostly Harmless Brewing Co.’s Ryesponsibale Collaboration Session IPA, Esq.  We’re gonna need a bigger label.

We dropped some dry hop action into this one earlier this week (1 oz Crystal / .5 oz Centennial / .5 oz Ahtanum) and it’s cold crashing right now.  It’s got an amazing hop aroma and a pronounced, but smooth, bitterness.  We finished up at 1.010 which landed us at 4.8% ABV, a bit higher than our target of 4.2% but we used our grain mill for the first time and pulled a bit more efficiency than we estimated.  Oh well, 4.8% is still pretty sessionable IMO.

If you missed the back story on this beer check it out here.  In short, we collaborated with some friends around the country and we’re each brewing the same recipe and then we’ll share the beers we brewed to compare them.  Should be a fun experiment.  OK, I guess that pretty much is the back story, no need to click that link now.

Our Centennial hop farming is coming along nicely as well despite brew dog Boo’s efforts to dig up the hop bed.  We’ve discussed that this is unacceptable and I’m sure she’ll behave now.  I can’t wait til these get long enough to start climbing and producing cones.

Centennial hops start to shoot up!

Centennial hops start to shoot up!


Session Rye IPA Brewday and Hop Farming Update

Since Saturday was National Homebrew Day / Big Brew Day we pretty much had to brew some beer.  Mother Nature looked upon us most favorably and the weather was absolutely perfect for hanging outside and brewing.  A few friends joined us and enjoyed a day of brewing, drinking, eating and smoking cigars – not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

For this brew we collaborated with several friends on the brew.  We’re all going to brew the beer then send a couple bottles to each other to see the differences we each get.  We’re pretty widely distributed (GA, OH, FL, TX and MO) so it will be interesting to see the differences we get from this recipe.  We’ve wanted to do a session beer for a while and this was a good chance to make it a bit more fun.  The recipe is based off of Denny Conn’s Wry Smile IPA tweaked to a target of 4.2% ABV and 61 IBU.  This was our first brew milling our own grains and we got a bit more gravity than expected.  We hit 1.047 with a target of 1.042, looks like our actual ABV on this one will land around 4.8%, still sessionable IMO.

We’ll check the gravity this weekend and see how it’s coming along.  This one will probably have to stay in the fermenter for a few weeks as I have to go out of town the weekend of the 17th, hopefully we’ll get it kegged up on the 24th.

Not a long video, but here’s a little Instagram snippet from the brewday.

Our hops are coming in nicely.  It took them a while to break the surface but they’re growing an inch or so each day now.  We’ve got 6 shoots that I can find with a couple of them much more aggressive than the others.  I wish they’d hurry the heck up.

Hop Sprout - 05/02/14

Hop Sprout – 05/02/14


Hop Sprout - 05/06/14

Hop Sprout – 05/06/14

May 3rd is National Homebrew Day!

National Homebrew Day Big Brew - May 3, 2014

National Homebrew Day Big Brew – May 3, 2014

Some info on National Homebrew Day from the AHA website:

In 1988, May 7 was announced before Congress as National Homebrew Day. The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) created AHA Big Brew as an annual event to celebrate National Homebrew Day around the world. AHA Big Brew is held each year on the first Saturday in May.

Anyone, even homebrew shops, can host and register a Big Brew event, so invite your friends and family, gather around the brew kettle and join in the global celebration of the greatest hobby there is—homebrewing!

There are a lot of events planned around the country to introduce people to homebrewing.  If you’d like to see what this hobby is all about check here to see what events are in your area.  We’ll be celebrating here at MHB by brewing up a session rye IPA.  The recipe for this is a collaboration with several of our friends and we are all going to brew it then share the beer with each other to see the differences.  We’re located in GA, OH, FL and TX so it will be interesting to see the differences we get from our different equipment, processes and water profiles.

Stay tuned and we’ll post a recap of brew day with some more info on the beer.

Brewed and Bottled – Rainy Day IPA

This weekend we bottled up our Rainy Day IPA.  It’s a very sessionable at 4.0% ABV and not too hard on the palate at 42 IBU.  This is Brian’s recipe and was based on a few clone recipes of Founder’s All Day IPA.   The recipe included Maris Otter, Caramel and Rye malt along with Simcoe, Amarillo and Centennial hops.  Based on the samples we tried at bottling this should be a great beer.

Rainy Day IPA

Rainy Day IPA

We brewed this one on 12/28/13, our last beer of 2013.  The weather didn’t want to cooperate with us and it was cold and rainy and windy, all around crappy.  We had to set up a tent/awning to keep the rain out of our boil kettle and heaters cranking to keep us from freezing to death, OK… maybe 40°F wouldn’t freeze us to death but we live in the South so anything below 50° is freezing as far as we’re concerned.  Considering how nature was being such a mother the brew day went pretty well overall.

We also got to try out some new gear for this brew day.  We replaced the braided hose in our MLT with a bazooka screen and we got a pH meter that we used for the first time.  I won’t go into a bunch about pH meters as there’s plenty of reading out there if you choose, but we purchased the Oakton Eco Testr pH 2 and we have been happy with it so far.  It has an overall 4 star review and the price was $47.43 when we ordered it.  After we use it a bit more I’ll probably do a more detailed ‘review’ of it.

Capped and Cased

Capped and Cased

There are pros and cons to adding new gear to your brewhouse.  Improvements are always nice but anything you add to the equipment will change the results of your brew, hopefully for the better, but you still have to adjust for the changes made.  As an example, the bazooka screen flowed much quicker when we were lautering and sparging, we had to keep an eye on the flow and adjust so we didn’t move too quickly, I think this may have cost us a couple points of gravity but we know now for next time.  Using the pH meter I found the pH of our water out of the tap is 8.8, normal range is 7.0 – 8.5 so it’s a bit on the hard side.  I haven’t looked yet to see if I need to make any tweaks there however the mash pH was 5.4 so we fell within the acceptable range.

Everything else went smoothly.  We kept this in primary at 62°F for 2 weeks the dry-hopped for a week, cold-crashing it the last couple days before bottling.   I’m really stoked to try this one and with the lower ABV it should be ready fairly quickly.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and it will rain here in a couple weeks so I can try it out in its intended environment.

Here’s a little data porn for those that like this stuff.  I chart out the fermentation temps and then mark the low and high points during primary fermentation and any anomalies.  We use an STC-1000 temp controller on our fermentation chamber and, as you can see on the chart, it kept us within +/-  0.52°F for the whole two week fermentation.  That’s pretty solid control.

Click the chart to view that sucker full size.

Rainy Day IPA - Fermentation Chart

Rainy Day IPA – Fermentation Chart

Look at my awesome beer label.

A couple weeks ago we brewed a pseudo-clone of Founder’s All Day IPA.  You know how movies that are total bullshit will say something like, “inspired by actual events.”?  Well that’s what this beer is, except for the bullshit part… we hope.  We still need to dry hop it but I took gravity today and we’re done fermenting and we nailed a very sessionable 4.0% ABV with this one.  It smells great and it tastes awesome, I can’t wait to try it after dry hopping, carbing, etc.  This was Brian’s recipe, and since his last creation ended up being a soy sauce IPA I’m pretty glad to see this one seems to be coming along nicely.

But this post isn’t about the beer, it’s about the label.  Which is awesome.  Brian and collaborate on the labels and both of us throw in ideas and I usually do the photoshopping.  Sometimes we have similar ideas, and sometimes we don’t.  This time we were 180° apart.  I was thinking of a simple shot of an IPA glass on a table with the view looking out through a rainy window pane… because something like that is in line with my Photoshop abilities.  But no, not Brian, he’s all like, “I think we (he meant me) need to do something like this (insert Singin’ In The Rain movie poster) for our label.  Maybe replace the heads with hop cones?”  OK, Brian… fine…. I’ll give it a shot.  I thought I was going to get off easy with a stupid beer in a window, pfft.

But I have to say, I like the results.  That was a pretty good idea he had there – and it helped me to continue to develop my Photoshop skillz.  It’s not perfect, but it is pretty sweet.  We’ll post more info on Rainy Day IPA when it’s done, I may have to wait for a rainy day to try one.

Singin' in the Rainy Day IPA

Singin’ in the Rainy Day IPA

And for comparison, the original movie poster…

Singin' in the Rain

Singin’ in the Rain

Homebrewed Eats – Beef and Stout Stew

When we have a brewday at Mostly Harmless there are a few things that are gonna happen.  We’re gonna brew some beer (duh), we’re gonna drink some beer (duhhh), we’re gonna smoke some cigars, and we are going to eat.  Most of the time we just hit up a local pizza joint or sports bar but occasionally we throw down some home cookin’.  OK, I throw down some home cookin’, Brian’s the type that makes scrambled eggs in a mug in the microwave and would likely starve to death if not for his wife.  Scratch that, he’d just live off beer and multivitamins.  Anyhow… this week I decided to make up some beef stew to go with brew day.  While Brian was tending the strike water for our session IPA (Rainy Day IPA, stay tuned for more info on that) I got to cooking.

Homemade Beef and Stout Stew

Homemade Beef and Stout Stew

Most beer geeks have had, or at least heard of, Guinness Stew – beef stew brewed with Guinness.  This is my take on that recipe using a bottle of our HOTDOS Oatmeal Stout.  I did some Googling and looked at a few recipes and then threw this together from what I found, most closely based on this one.  In all honesty making a good pot of stew is pretty easy, here’s what you need to do.


2 Lbs lean stew beef
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne
2 large onions, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste dissolved in 1/4 cup beef broth
* If you don’t have beef broth you can use 1 tsp powdered beef bouillon in the flour mixture and dilute the tomato paste with water)
10 oz of your favorite stout
2 cups baby carrots or large diced carrots
1 lb diced potatoes
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 tsp dried thyme


  1. Toss stew beef with 1 Tbsp of the oil.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour and all dry seasonings.
  3. Toss the meat with the seasoned flour.
  4. Heat remaining Tbsp oil (use a bit more if needed) in a large skillet over high heat.
  5. Brown the meat on all sides.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, garlic and tomato paste diluted in broth or water.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Transfer the beef and onions to a crock pot and pour 1/2 the stout into the skillet.
  8. Heat to boiling and hold for 5 minutes, stirring well to deglaze the pan.
  9. Pour the sauce over the meat and add the carrots, potatoes and mushrooms.
  10. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  11. Approximately 30 minutes before serving add the rest of the stout to the pot and stir well.

When done the stew should have a nice, heavy sauce on it without being too thick.  If sauce is too thick you can thin it with a bit of water.  If sauce is too thin dissolve 1 tsp of corn starch in 1 cup of cold water and add in small increments to the stew, stirring and allowing the sauce a couple of minutes to thicken.  Serve with fresh-baked crusty French bread and more STOUT!

It was cold and dreary and rainy here yesterday and after a long brew day in the elements this was just what we needed.  It came out great and I’ll definitely make it again.  If you try it out let me know what you think.

Cooking the beef and onions with tomato sauce

Cooking the beef and onions with tomato sauce

De-glazing the pan with the stout.

De-glazing the pan with the stout.

Into the crock pot.

Into the crock pot.

We Made More Mead!

Due to the overwhelming popularity of our Pirate Pancake Syrup we decided to make some more mead this weekend.  I hate to admit it but I think PPS was probably the best thing we’ve made so far, that was some good mead.  It was also very “Limited Edition” since we only made 1 gallon.  So we’re hoarding it like crazy, we gotta stretch these few bottles out at least 4 months until the next batch is done.  I’m not making any promises that’s going to happen.

We also decided to whip up a 1 gallon batch of Acerglyn, a honey-maple mead.  We don’t know what the hell we’re doing here, but that’s never stopped us before, so we used 44 oz of honey, 12 oz of Maple sizzurp and a vanilla bean and pitched some wine yeast on it.  Further reading on the subject of mead making shows a lot of people add some acid blend to their meads to help balance the mead and give it crispness or tannins to increase body.   I’m going to leave this one as is and see what we get out of it.

In Goes the Honey

In goes the honey…

Pirate Pancake Syrup V2 and Acerglyn

Pirate Pancake Syrup V2 and Acerglyn

Don’t worry though, we haven’t abandoned beer!  We also brewed a batch of a top secret pale ale we’re calling Codename: Ohio, we’ll share more info on that one later.  Our fresh hop Simcoe IPA is coming along nicely as well and I just added 4 oz of hops to the carboy to dry hop for 5 days.  That bad boy will go in bottles or a keg this weekend.  MMmmm… hops.

This beer totally got Simcoed.

This beer totally got Simcoed.