What is up with these prices?

My wife and I want to be smart with our money. So we have a financial plan. You could say it gives us some peace of mind. Our 10 year plan (9 years to go!) is this:

  1. Pay off all student loans.
  2. Build our savings
  3. Buy a vacation/retirement home down south

To keep on track, we have fun money that we can spend on whatever we want every month. Our fund money is necessarily limited to $40/month.

So what the heck is up with these hop prices? How am I supposed to brew beer when it costs almost 4 bucks to get 1oz of centennial hops? I’m trying to get all of the ingredients to make my grapefruit IPA and even with a sale, I could only buy the fermentables and then boom! I’m out of fun money. No hops purchased. I felt a bit like Ron Burgundy.

escalated quickly


Aurochs Brewing

I’m not sure if this qualifies as product placement but it certainly is an endorsement. I have been waiting some time for this news but Aurochs Brewing Company is officially open!

Aurochs, for those unaware, is a new ALL gluten free brewing company in Pittsburgh. These guys both are celiac so they understand what it means to be gluten free and they both have a passion for good beer. I had a chance to sample some of their product a while back and it was great.

Here is their official announcement:

As of 4:00pm today, August 7th, Aurochs Brewing Co. will be officially open for business!

Moving forward, our hours of operations will be Thursdays & Fridays 4:00-8:00pm and Saturdays Noon-6:00pm. We will host tastings and growler salesduring that time.

We are located at 8321 Ohio River Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15202 (turn on to Walliston Ave to enter our parking lot).

Our significantly abridged plan from now through the end of the year includes a slight increase in capacity over the next few months, which will allow us to sell growlers from the brewery, a secondary location and service a handful of customers who will work with us to maintain the quality and purity (or gluten-freeness) of our beer.

In 2015 we will aim to make a significant jump in production capacity.

We want to be transparent with our friends, neighbors and customers in regards to growler sales and tastings as we deal with the enviable problem of high demand exceeding our limited supply.

As we grow as a brewery, so too will our capacity, but that will take time, money and resources. We hope to that you will continue with your support, enthusiasm and patience as we experience these growing pains.

Please know that we put our beer and our customers first every day.

Also, know that if you have ideas and suggestions or want to share criticism with us about our product or the way we run operate the brewery, we are always accessible (ok, sometimes it might take us a week or two, or six, to respond but we are always listening).

So if you are in the Western PA area or passing through…check them out!

Game changer?

 I saw this posted on Facebook. Synek is basically a Keurig machine for beer. This is a really clever concept and it could be a game changer. The only thing I can’t determine is if it carbs the beverage. It doesn’t seem to, which would mean you would still need to be able to carb your beer before putting it in the machine. But if it carbs the beer…this would be a serious game changer for home brewers.


I missed the FAQ section…. check this out:

Yes. The pressure relief valve on our cap will begin to steam off pressure at 20 PSI. You are able to force-carbonate, ferment, and carbonate inside the bag, as well as age and store your brew. The 30 day shelf life does not start until after the first pour. This is a great application for beer, but of course particularly wine.


So the answer is YES! This is a definite game changer!

A cornucopia of updates!

It has been a while since I updated anyone on anything so here ya go.

The Drunken Emu Hard cider is gone. It turned out pretty good but I have other cider recipes I prefer far more and wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long. Oh well, that is part of the process.

The Dry-Hopped Cider is gone. Hallertau was an okay hop. I know how much I enjoy cascade hops but in the spirit of exploration, next time I will try centennial hops.

The Transfiguration IPA is nearly gone. I really enjoyed this brew. I like IPAs and I think IPAs are the easiest beer to brew in the gluten free style. The malt isn’t what matters; the hop is and in this beer man do the hops stand out and taste delicious!

The 1st Date Dunkel 2.0 is nearly gone as well. It is still a popular drink with “regular” beer drinkers. I will definitely make it again but I will most definitely not use oak chips again.


Palmerston’s Solution is starting to mature and tasting better every time I sample it. My only fear is I have given too much of it away. How is that for selfishness? As Paul said, “Oh wretched man that I am!”

Black Jack Pershing is bubbling away as happy as a clam. I forgot to sample this one so I have no idea what it tastes like! I’m rethinking my classification of this, I think it may be more along the lines of a graff. Whatever.

Finally, my Fall Harvest Mind Crusher is….forgotten. I need to work harder at being intentional with my meads. It is still in the jug. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll bottle this when I bottle the Black Jack.


Now on to my book shelf…

I am still working through D.A. Carson’s Call to Spiritual Reformation. I like it so much I’m thinking about starting over and taking better notes! I cannot recommend this one enough to someone who values prayer.

I am nearly finished with Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ. It is an odd mixture of Arminianism and South African (Dutch) Reformed Calvinism but it has its merits.

I finished James S.A. Corey’s Abaddon’s Gate and it was awesome! I’m excited for the sequel which will be released in a few days.

I read Elizabeth Moon’s Trading in Danger in the hopes that I might have found something to satisfy the void that Lois McMaster’s Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga left. While the book had its good points and I will definitely read the next one…the main protagonist is no Mile’s Vorkosigan. But then again…who is? <sigh>

I am about 1/3 of the way through The Presbyterian Conflict by Edwin Rian. I feel a bit like Dr. Zoidberg, “Fellas, fellas…why didn’t anybody tell me about this stuff?” The Auburn Affirmation really explains why the PC(USA) (and other mainline Reformed denominations) are where they are theologically. Oh well. Praying the Lord opens a door to a more, eh hem, Orthodox denomination.

I put aside Jame’s Jordan’s commentary on Judges. I didn’t do that because it was bad–it was excellent. But mainly because I have some pressing subjects (see the book immediately above) which I need to master ASAP.


I think that is it for updates.





Black Jack Pershing (The Great War Series)

For my second beer of the Great War Series I bring you an unusual beer named after the commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) General John “Black Jack” Pershing. But first, a story.

For this beer I had planned on brewing a French Saison which I was going to call Marshall Foch after the infamous French general during the Great War. It was going to be a simple beer, with few ingredients and a simple hop schedule using French Striselspalt hops. When I went to purchase the ingredients, the hops were sold out! So, after some research I bought Mt. Hood hops because it was, so far as I could determine, the closest to the French hops out there. But by the time the hops arrived, I had buyers remorse and decided I didn’t want to make the Saison if I couldn’t do it with the ingredients I wanted to use.

So there I was, with 2 oz of Mt. Hood hops and no idea what to do with them. Then one day I saw a post on one of the Gluten Free Homebrew forums I frequent and it was about Harvester Brewing Apple IPA. Now, as a fan of IPA’s and Dry-Hopped Cider I must say this beer sounds like something I’d really enjoy. I’ve never had it; I’ve never had any of their beers, but I can imagine what it tastes like. I decided to make my own version of it and base it off of some sort of part of the American involvement in the Great War.


When I had finished brewing it, it was a lot darker than I had anticipated and since it is 50% cider, I thought of “Black Jack.” Black because of the color and Jack because of Apple Jack (which I haven’t yet made but do plan on attempting one day). With that in mind, I introduce to you my own Apple Pale Ale, named after General John “Black Jack” Pershing. Along with George Washington, the only American general to achieve the highest possible rank in the military and the only one to do so while alive. He mentored Generals George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and George Patton. If that isn’t enough, the American participation in the 2nd Battle of the Marne is considered a key turning point in the Great War. This guy deserves a beer.

My brother-in-law was in town. Thankfully, he is already saved, so I can concentrate all of my effort into trying to convert him to the joy of homebrewing. I think he enjoyed it.

Black Jack Pershing 

5 Gallon Batch


  • 1lb 5oz Brown Rice Syrup (Full boil)
  • 2lbs Candi Syrup (D-45) (Flame out)

Hop Schedule

  • 1oz of Columbus hops at 30 minutes
  • 1oz of Mt. Hood hops at 10 minutes
  • 1oz of Mt. Hood hops dry-hopped for the first seven days


  • 8oz maltodextrine (Full boil)
  • 2 1/2 gallons of apple juice poured into the primary
  • S-05 yeast

This was an easy brew. So easy that I made black cherry chocolate ice cream while I brewed this. In a few weeks I will bottle it and we’ll see how it tastes.

Deuteronomy 14.24-26:But if the distance is too great for you to carry it, since the place where Yahweh your God chooses to put His name is too far away from you and since the Lord your God has blessed you, then exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place the Lord your God chooses. You may spend the money on anything you want: cattle, sheep, wine, beer, or anything you desire. You are to feast there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice with your family.”

Palmerston’s Solution (The Great War Series)


Some of you may know and others may not realize that this year marks the 100 year anniversary of the Great War (more commonly known as World War I). And some of you may know, and others may not, that I was at one time a history buff who focused on WWI. This is not the place to talk in-depth about why I have always found that conflict fascinating or where that fascination has led me in life but I do want to honor the memory of those who died this summer. So I have two beers I will be brewing with a theme linked to WWI. Since the war started in August 1914 and this is the summer of 2014 both beers will focus on the very early moments of the conflict.

In fact, this beer focuses on a moment that is almost 100 years prior to the conflict.  Following the Napoleonic Wars, the European powers gathered in Vienna to try to restore a balance of power to the Continent. The subsequent Congress of Vienna really, in many ways, set in motion the wars of the 20th century through the gerrymandering of nations that took place. One of the things that came about was the nation of Belgium. The “nation” of Belgium really isn’t a nation in the sense that we understand it. Historically Belgium was part of the Low Countries–which were primarily part of what makes up modern day Netherlands. But Belgium also has a significant French population (Walloons) and so it is a nation divided. Hence, the fact that from 2007-2011 the government of Belgium was shut-down. So, it is a bit like Ukraine, a myth fostered by the Great Powers for their own geo-political gain. But when it came to Belgium, the Great Powers were willing to go to war.


Lord Palmerston was the one who, in the 1830s (following revolutions in Belgium), worked tirelessly to ensure that Belgium remained an independent nation. This meant that France would not take the territory from Belgium (that had been French) or risk losing British support. It also meant other countries (later Germany) would respect the neutrality of Belgium or risk involving Great Britain in a war on the Continent. This came to be known as “Palmerston’s Solution.” (A great read on some of this is in, if I recall correctly, Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August).

What does all of this have to do with the Great War? Well, the Schlieffen Plan for fighting a two front war (Germany vs. France and Russia) involved a swift invasion of France with a holding pattern on the Eastern front. Because the French/Germany border was so heavily defended, the only way to swiftly invade and defeat France was through neutral Belgium. In August 1914, Germany did just that: they marched into Belgium. Great Britain, obligated by a treaty (Palmerston) was forced to come to Belgium’s defense. What could have been (theoretically) a short war quickly spread as nation after nation declared war and became a horribly, violent, prolonged war of attrition.

Now, perhaps you are wondering, why is he telling me this and what does this have to do with beer? Well just this: Belgium beer is great to drink during the summer and since Belgium’s history is intricately tied into the Great War, I thought I’d make my blue moon clone and name it in honor of Henry John Temple, or Lord Palmerston. Hence,

Palmerston’s Solution

(Blue Moon Clone)

5  Gallon Batch Extract Only



  • 3lbs Sorghum                            (Full Boil)
  • 1lb 5oz Brown Rice Syrup      (Full Boil)
  • 1lb Lyle’s Golden Syrup         (Full Boil)
  • 8oz Honey                                  (Full Boil)
  • 8oz Brown Sugar                      (Full Boil)



  • 1oz Northern Brewer          60 minutes
  • 1oz Saaz                                  15 minutes



  • 8oz Maltodextrine                  (Full Boil)
  • 8 orange peels                         (10 minutes)
  • Crushed Coriander Seeds     (3 1/2 TBSP @ 10 minutes)
  • Black Pepper (Whole)            (3 tsps @ 10 minutes)
  • Safbrew WB-06


The brown sugar was a last minute addition. The package my sorghum came in was busted. Most of it was still in the container but boy was that an awful mess trying to get it out. I know I didn’t put a full 3lbs in so I improvised with the brown sugar. I’ve used it in beer before so I know it will work. Hopefully, it will not make that much of a difference in the flavor profile. The oranges were clementines because one of my daughters really enjoys those so that is what I had on hand. I think I probably got 1 TBSP total of orange peel zest. Whatever the amount, the aroma of the orange peel certainly over-powered the hop aroma when the wort was cooling down.

This will be my first time using two ingredients: Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Safbrew WB-06. Lyle’s is commonly used in gluten free brewing by brewers across the pond so I thought I’d give it a try. Beside, how appropriate to use a thoroughly British ingredient in my Belgium beer, no? I’ve also never used WB-06 yeast before, though I have been wanting to for some time. I hope I enjoy how it ferments because I’ve got another package of it for my next beer.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12-17, ESV) 

Summer Recipes!

Well, it was a long time coming but Spring appears to finally be here. I have a French Saison that I hope to brew in the next week or two (depending upon when the ingredients arrive and I actually have the time) but I thought I’d share three of my favorite recipes for the summer.

The first is technically not a beer. But it isn’t a cider either. It is kind of hard to classify because it is hard lemonade. It is somewhat similar to Skeeter Pee but Skeeter Pee (A) involves a white wine yeast cake and (B) is a terrible name. No, mine is the stuff of the gods. A number of years back, Mrs. Wine and I went down to Louisiana to attend the wedding of our friends. One day, while walking in the French Quarter I purchased a glass “Louisiana Lemonade.” This was essentially Lemonade with rum. It was very refreshing and so last Spring I thought I’d try my own take on it.

Now, somewhat amusingly, I didn’t really care for the final product. So I gave it away (Mrs. Wine was pregnant at the time). It was such a hit that I actually made another batch just to give away to more people. And already I have been asked if I would be making more of it this year. Maybe. But, here is the recipe for those who are interested.

Louisiana Lemonade (Hard Lemonade)

3 Gallon Batch

  • 3 gallons of organic lemonade
  • The peels of 3 lemons
  • 4 cups of white table sugar
  • Yeast (S-04/05 I never use wine yeast except for my meads)

I let this ferment for about 3 weeks and then right before bottling I added:

  • 1 cup of simple syrup
  • 1 375ml bottle of Bacardi Limon

So there ya go! If you are gluten free and miss Mike’s Hard Lemonade, you can make this for the summer.


The next recipe I’d like to share with you is a single hop IPA. I’m from Columbus, Ohio and as everyone knows, we have the best football team in the country (Go Buckeyes!). But in the day under coach John Cooper, the defense was called the “Silver Bullets.” So I decided to make an all Columbus hop (get it?) IPA for football season.

Silver Bullet IPA

5 Gallon Batch


  • 3lbs Sorghum Extract
  • 1lb 6oz rice syrup
  • 2 1/2 lbs Honey


All hops are Columbus

  • 1 oz @ 60
  • .5 oz @ 15
  • .5 oz @ 5
  • .5 oz @ 0 minutes


  • 1lb lactose

I used S-o4 for the yeast and then dry hopped 1oz of Columbus hops for 7 days in the primary before racking to the secondary for another 7 days.

This turned out fantastic. It was so bitter I couldn’t touch it for at least a month after bottling but eventually, the bitterness subsided and the lactose added just enough sweetness to really balance everything out. I really recommend this for a summer brew. It was so good the batch didn’t make it to football season!


Last but not least a very important recipe. This beer I brewed fairly early in my GF homebrewing experiment and it taught me that I could do this and that I could do it really well. The recipe was designed by Homebrewtalk user Igliashon (who has taught me much). He has taken a job as brewer at Ghostfish Brewing Company and on their blog provided the recipe and instructions for the Grapefruit IPA. I will most definitely be brewing this again very soon for the summer months.

A few minor changes that I made when I brewed this:

Grapefruit IPA

5 Gallon Batch


  • 3lbs Sorghum extract
  • 1lb 6oz Brown Rice Syrup
  • 2lbs D-45 Candi Syrup
  • 80z honey


  • 1oz Columbus @60 minutes
  • 1oz Cascade @15 minutes
  • 1oz Centennial @10 minutes
  • 1oz Cascade @ 5 minutes
  • 1oz Cascade @1 minute


  • S-05 Yeast
  • 8oz of Maltodextrine
  • Zest of half a grapefruit at 5 minutes

Finally, dry hop 2oz of Centennial hops for the first 7 days. I would also recommend adding some large pieces of grapefruit peel for that time period as well. If you only make one beer, make this one. You won’t regret it!

Acts 2.42-47: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (ESV)

The search is over!

One of the common problems gluten free beer drinkers (and homebrewers) run into is the absence of good head retention. There are numerous threads on this on the Homebrewtalk GF forum as well as essays, blog posts, etc out on the worldwide web. In the past, I have spent a lot of time reading what others have attempted and experimenting with ingredients…to no avail! There is actually head retention powder available for purchase. It is basically guar gum. When I learned that was the primary ingredient, I thought about using xantham gum (since I had some on hand), but I never did go that route.

One day, I read an article on the proper way to clean your beer glasses. Turns out, I was cleaning my glasses wrong. Now, I use soap on the exterior of my glass, and around the lip (where I put my lips!) and use very, very hot water to wash out the inside of the glass. But never soap on the inside, only hot water!

Since following the advice of the article I have discovered something: my gluten free beers have great head retention! Not only do the beers (once aged properly of course!) pour a great frothy head, but the head stays there as you drink the beer. On my dunkel, there is significant lacing of the glass. So much so that I’m wondering if I’ll have to scrub it!

So there ya have it. Throw what you thought you knew about cleanliness out the window and all of your problems (at least head retention on gluten free beer problems) will be solved!


The proof! (Transfiguration IPA)

Philippians 4.10-13: “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Uh-oh. Copyright infringement?

I certainly hope not.

This is what happens when I am no longer content with what I have. The background image on this blog is what came with this wordpress format. I happened to like it and thought it went well with the theme of the blog. Then tonight, because Mrs. Wine is watching the Olympics and as a result I’m bored out of my mind I lost my status of contentment.

I could read but I finished The Wind-up Girl earlier today and I’m kinda  “readed” out. I did start Perdido Street Station but then I thought better of it: Mieville should not be read when tired. So I thought, “I’ll improve my background image.” So I googled “three taverns” hoping for maybe some sort of artist rendering of the site or maybe even an archaeological ruin.

Instead, I found this: Three Taverns Craft Brewery. Oops.  And here I thought I was being original.

Philippians 4: 10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.