Ryan and I totally made this.


Wheaton's Own California Pale Ale. Hosted by imgur.com

It's our beer! Click to embiggen at imgur

Today, at long last, the beer Ryan and I made together was ready to drink. We got on the phone and opened our first bottles together …. and it totally tastes like beer! It's sort of a slightly-hoppier version of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which is pretty much exactly what we were going for. I'll write all about this tomorrow, because right now, I'm going to go enjoy the beer that my son and I made, together, and try damn hard not to miss him.

83 thoughts on “Ryan and I totally made this.”

  1. We’ve been using Brewer’s Best kits from our local brewing supply store (Columbus, Ohio), only we haven’t used the dry packets in the kits, rather, we’ve been making our own liquid yeast starters.
    Here are the kit recipes from their site, along with the tweaks we’ve made to them:
    I don’t have my notes with me at the moment, but, I know we used exactly 16 ounces of organic NY state grade B maple syrup (the kind that’s best for baking) – I want to say we added it after the initial boil and before we started adding the hops – Regardless, use the best maple syrup you can get!
    We essentially tweaked the above Scottish Ale recipe by adding pumpkin and spices – but, the devil is in the details…
    There were SO many opinions on the “proper” use of pumpkin in our research – most of the sites seemed to warn against using canned pumpkin due to a) the mess, but more importantly, b) it making a cloudy finished beer.
    Not being able to find fresh pumpkin in Ohio in August, we had no choice but to use the canned – we ended up with a 5 pound bulk food can of the stuff.
    We added the pumpkin right after the initial boil – there was a lot of pumpkin!
    There were also 500 schools of thought of the spices mixtures (some said tablespoons, some said teaspoons, some said whole items like cinnamon sticks and ginger root, others said ground spices only) – There was debate on “when” to add them (some said at the boil, some said when cooling, some when going to secondary, while still others said not until bottling) – ideas were all over the place – obviously you can see where the creativity comes into play with the “art” of brewing, as you can have an infinite number of choices!
    We ended up with the following mixture, however, which we added with the final aroma hops and only five minutes of cooking time remaining:
    1/4 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and fresh grated nutmeg.
    We didn’t want to go too heavy on the spice, as we heard warnings of over-spicing from our local shop.
    Finally, before we pitched the yeast, we strained the beer through a triple layer of cheesecloth on top of a fine mesh sieve – this pulled almost all of the pumpkin out of the liquid, though, this took about 20 minutes to do with all the pumpkin being strained. As an aside, I wanted to make pie out of this, however, since we made many other spent grain recipes that evening, decided against it and composted it instead. :sigh: What might have been… 😛
    As for how we did? Only time will tell! I can tell you that the fermenting beer smells like a holiday pie, though, which makes me think it’s coming along nicely!
    We’re going to strain it again when we put it into secondary this weekend just to clear out any further pumpkin sludge, and we will sample for spice levels there as well, potentially adding a bit more of the above mixture as needed. I’m definitely excited!
    Whew, sorry if that’s a tad lengthy, but, you’ve seen how addicting brewing is – it’s tough not to go on and on about it! :)
    Good luck!

  2. Thanks for so much detail! I've printed this out and put it into my brewer's journal.
    When you strain before you move to secondary, won't that put oxygen into the beer? I have been under the impression that you have to rack to secondary with a siphon to keep oxygen out.

  3. Great question. Unfortunately, I’ve not been a part of the transfer to the secondary on either of the first two brewing efforts, but am totally helping that this go around…
    My assumption is that we’re going to strain it into another sterile primary fermentation bucket just as we did before, then siphon into the glass carboy for the secondary?
    Again, though, you’re right, oxygen will definitely be more at play here with us sloshing it around…hmmmm…I’ll have to ask the more experienced brewer in our group about this before we proceed…
    We’ll see in a few days for sure!

  4. This and the dice have gotten me excited. I and a friend are making some mead for our next D&D game. I’m pretty sure the party isn’t going to leave the tavern.

  5. I hope you are getting part of the sales from all the brewing kits that are being sold because of your blog!
    So, you have had success with beer, when you moving on to wines? I have a nice cycser (apple and honey wine/mead) that has doing quite well. Was lucky enough to have parents that raised bees and were looking to get rid of some honey, and I had this apple tree that was loaded…
    Keep making the beer, but don’t be afraid to branch out. If you try wine, I would suggest Cote des Blancs yeast. I used that in my cycser and have had good results with it in several other fruit based wines with it.

  6. First I’d like to say I have tried to read all the comments from all the related posts before asking this, if I missed the already asked and answered question someone please just point me in the right direction.
    I am considering brewing beer based on your experiences, despite close friends urging me to do so for several years, what sold me were the peripheral products (Root beer, bread, Dog biscuits etc.) Could you provide us with recipes (or links to same?) for the ones you liked?

  7. I’m definitely going to try the Maple Porter. The Pumpkin Ale sounds good too, I might have to get that going as well. Porters are great beers. The best beer I’ve ever had was a Hazelnut Porter at the Blue Loon Brewery in Toledo, OH. I’m going to try and duplicate it in the near future since I doubt I will be going to Toledo in the next few years.

  8. … each six-pack of your forthcoming IPA could come with a generic-brand black crayon and a blank d20, with a little typed slip of paper that says, “… YOU know what to do.”

  9. Looks good! Thanks for your posts on homebrewing, it’s gotten me motivated to do it again. I plan on brewing a Pumpkin Spice Porter this weekend.

  10. As soon as I saw the picture after reading about the bring Wil a die at Pax was, Oh. My. God. Wil Wheaton’s evil plan is to collect dice from conventions and turn them into beer to drink their luck!

  11. Great lookin beer Wil! Doing things like this with your kids (at any age) always brings the love between parent and child to the forefront. Could use a good beer as I wait for hurricane Irene to come knocking on my door this weekend.

  12. We moved to secondary last night! (whilst enjoying one or two Oktoberfest brews – the Tumbler from Sierra Nevada and Brooklyn Brewing Company’s seasonal offering – both were very good!)
    We didn’t have to strain our pumpkin at all, luckily – it looked amazingly clear, secondary might not even have been needed on that one – the initial cheesecloth strain we did was obviously a smart move. There was a nice layer of trub of course, but, the clarity of that beer was amazing.
    A small sampling revealed that the spice level was apparently in the Goldilocks zone! Looks like we “guessed” right with our amounts.
    Surprisingly, our Oktoberfest is very cloudy yet, and after moving it, we could see that it’s still fairly active. We left some room in the carboy to see how much more it’ll ferment over the next day or three – once done, we’re going to fill up with water to proper levels – maybe 16 ounces total (if that), not much.
    Should be able to bottle in 10 or so days, then some more waiting in the bottle…in times like this, a TARDIS or DeLorean would come in handy. :)
    Patience is a virtue, though, right?

  13. Homebrewtalk is a great forum, as well. I've also found r/Homebrewing at Reddit to be full of awesome and helpful people.
    If you want to make a kit, just hit up Brooklyn Brew Shop and pick out something that sounds good to you. They say if you can make oatmeal, you can make beer. They are telling you teh truth!

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