The IPAs

The Indiana Pennsylvania Alesmiths (IPAs) is the homebrew club of Indiana, PA. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or email us.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Brewing with Oak

Barrel aging beers in oak is a more common practice these days, not only for big breweries but even for homebrewers.  Several clubs have group-brewed the same recipe in order to fill a barrel for bulk aging.  However, most lone homebrewers don't make enough beer to fill a large barrel, and even small barrels can be cost prohibitive for many. Enter the oak barrel alternatives for use at home!

Oak Chips & Cubes
Probably the most common way that homebrewers introduce oak flavor to their beers, and available through most homebrew supply stores. Chips and cubes come in different oak varieties, such as American, French, or Hungarian.

American oak is more aggressive with its flavor and adds some vanilla notes, while French oak is more delicate and adds some spiciness. Hungarian lies between the two. In addition to the varieties, chips and cubes come in various degrees of toast - light, medium, and heavy.  The degree of oak flavor to depart will depend largely on the style you're brewing and on your own personal taste.

Both chips and cubes are usually added to the secondary fermentation after sterilization by boiling for 15 minutes, or by soaking for several days in alcohol (e.g., whiskey, bourbon, or vodka).  By soaking in a particular alcohol, a homebrewer can attempt to mimic the barrel-aging process used by larger breweries who use spent bourbon barrels (or Calvados, sherry, and even tequila). 

Chips tend to give good flavor within a few weeks (great surface area), while cubes may take several weeks to a few months to fully develop flavors.  One mistake not to make is leaving the chips/cubes in the secondary for too long!  One of our members put Irish whiskey-soaked chips in a hop sock and placed in a Corny keg to age. However, the keg was set aside for too long and the results were disastrous ...
"Not only did the porter taste astringent and tannic and way too oaky, the chips were in there long enough to most likely cause another round of fermentation from natural organisms in the wood. When I tried to vent the keg, a geyser of porter shot 20 feet across my yard. The rest had to be dumped."

Oak Staves & Spirals
Staves and spirals are not as common, but still readily available from most supply stores. These are generally used for larger batches of beer (10+ gal), and can take months for flavor to develop.

Oak Essence & Oak Powder
Oak essence is a liquid flavoring agent, while oak powder is ... well, powder. Both can be mixed into the secondary (small amounts go a long way!) to give immediate taste. However, just as with any liquid or powder additive/flavoring, the flavors may not seem as genuine as long-term aging with the wood described above.

Source:  Raspuzzi, D. Brew Your Own 2014, 20 (1), p. 11.

December Homebrew Club Meeting

Our December club meeting will be held tonight (Dec 10) at Twisted Jimmy's starting at 8pm.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Review of "D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc."

This is my review of "D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc." by Robert A. Musson, MD, and is not reflective of any other club members' opinions.  Our club was invited to review this book by Arcadia Publishing, and a courtesy copy was provided to me.  Any club member wishing to read and review the book is welcome to do so.

Reprinted with permission from D.G. Yuengling & Son., Inc, by Robert A. Musson ,MD. Available from the publisher online at or by calling 888-313-2665.

If you've visited any local bookstores or Barnes & Noble, you've most likely seen the sepia-toned covers of historical series from Arcadia Publishing

D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. was written by Robert A. Musson, who first visited Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville in 1979 with his parents. This book is obviously a labor of love, as Musson spent a lot of time gathering memorabilia, visiting the brewery and photographing their personal collections, and interviewing various folks associated with the brewery and its history.

The format of this book is set up in eight chapters of specific topics that span the history of the brewery and its personnel. This is not a typical narrative or story, but rather page after page of pictures with descriptive paragraphs that walks the reader through the history of Yuengling.

Chapter 1: The Origin of a Legend, takes us back to the beginnings of the brewery and the family that started it. Some of the earliest known photos of the brewery are included.

Chapter 2: The Next Generations Take Over, walks us through the late 1800's to the 1910's.

Chapter 3: Surviving Prohibition, shows us some of the alternate products that Yuengling made and sold during a dark chapter in our country's history (at least for beer lovers).

Chapter 4: Brewing Returns!, takes us through post-Prohibition to the 1950s.

Chapter 5: Hanging On, discusses the 1960s through 1980s.

Chapter 6: America's Oldest Brewery, gives us an idea of the overall changes that occurred at the brewery from its beginnings to the end of the 20th Century.

Chapter 7: America's Newest Brewery, describes the growth in popularity and the expansion of Yuengling in the early 2000s.

Chapter 8: Yuengling Today, looks at the next generation of the Yuengling family and the current state of the brewery.

From the introduction:
"The history of this fascinating company is told here through more than 220 images of people, buildings, equipment, advertising, labels, trucks, and more. It is aimed at history buffs, collectors of brewery artifacts ..., and anyone who enjoys drinking any of the fine Yuengling beers available."
So if you're a beer geek (like me) and/or like to collect beer books for your library, or if you're a big Yuengling fan, I recommend picking up a copy of this book. I enjoyed seeing the evolution of the brewery in pictures and Musson is to be commended for his attention to detail and dedication to creating a pictorial narrative of Yuengling.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Our 6th Anniversary, November Club Meeting

In all the excitement with getting ready for Oktoberfest last month, we forgot to mention that October was the club's 6th Annivesary!  Yea for us!

November's club meeting will be held at Brunzies Bar, on the corner of 5th and Philadelphia Streets, at 8pm tonight.

We've also added a club Twitter feed (  Search @IndiPaAlesmiths

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

IUP Student-Produced Video from DI Oktoberfest; A Few Local Taps of Note

The 2nd Annual Downtown Indiana Oktoberfest went very well.  All tickets sold out, the weather cooperated, and all of the beer showed up!  We did, in fact, run out early of some beer, and all of it was gone by the end.  The crowd didn't seem to mind, however, and we got good feedback.  Many thanks to the IPA members who volunteered for the event or bought tickets - you helped make this event a success.  Bigger and better next year!

The following is a short video produced by some IUP students during the event - lots of familiar faces in the background.

The three winning beers from those who voted (81 votes) were: Church Brew Works Oktoberfest, Marzoni's Pumpkin Ale, and Penn Chocolate Meltdown Stout (which also just won a Bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival). 

In other news, Brunzies has opened up on the corner of 5th and Philly.  Nice tap selection, including East End Hop Harvest (fresh hopped beer), Anderson Valley Heelch O'Hops, Ayinger Brau Weisse, and Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale.  Twisted Jimmy's just tapped Heavy Seas Mutiny Fleet The Greater Pumpkin (barrel-aged pumpkin beer).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October Club Meeting, Oktoberfest Updates

The October club meeting will be held at The Coney at 8pm.

VIP tickets for the Downtown Indiana Oktoberfest have SOLD OUT!  There are still regular admission tickets left, so lets keep our fingers crossed for good weather on the 12th.  Club members volunteering for the event should be contacted soon (if you haven't been already) about the tasks and schedules for the day.

FYI - Twisted Jimmy's has just tapped Stone's 17th Anniversary beer, Goetterdaemmerung IPA. Get it while it lasts!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September Club Meeting at Twisted Jimmy's

The September meeting of the IPAs will be held again at Twisted Jimmy's (8pm as usual).  Keep in mind that for October, we will be having the meeting at a different location because the Penguins play on that night, and both Twisted Jimmy's and Steel City Samiches will be packed.

Friday, July 26, 2013

August Club Meeting - Change of Location

The August meeting (Tue Aug 13) will be held at 8pm as usual.  However, we will be holding the IPA competition at Twisted Jimmy's rather than at PA BBQ.  Twisted Jimmy's is right next door to Steel City Samiches on North 7th Street.  Depending on the construction on 7th, it's likely that you'll have to park on Philadelphia Street.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Daveman - Caveman

I love food.  I mean, I really love food.  I have not yet found a single aspect of the entire food preparation process that I don't enjoy.  Everything from spreading manure from my own chickens onto my garden, to slicing an onion, to scrubbing the crusty bits of lasagna from a pan has its rewards.  Each task presents challenges that, if approached in the right mindset, can be restorative and fulfilling practices of self expression.  Moreover, for me, all aspects of food are about connection.  Connection to the environment, connection to ancestors long-gone and cultures far-away, and connection to the loved ones who you get to share yourself, and the food you prepared, with. 

My love for all things food and the connections I feel when dealing with food has lead me, and my best helpers (my dad and my daughter) in some interesting directions over the years.  We like to call them experiments or projects.  Some might call our endeavors extreme, or even hipster.  There may be some truth in these labels.  My food projects tend to bring back something old, like growing heirloom dried beans; reject blind consumerism, like brewing my own beer; are highly educated philosophies, like making my own charcuterie and cheese; and have an artistic touch, like my sculpted adobe pizza oven. 

The pizza oven happens to be one of my favorite projects thus far.  My two best helpers looked at me as if I was insane when I presented them with a copy of Build Your Own Earth Oven, by Kiko Denzer.  But, they both quickly accepted the idea that they were going to build the oven together while I took pictures.  Now, everyone who comes by my dad's house for a swim gets treated to a wood fired pizza and I have a great picture of my dad in front of the oven where he looks like a caveman.

Home brewing has been one of my favorite experiments.  I get a thrill out of having a million yeast pets in a bucket working so hard that you can feel their heat, smell their sweat, and see their breath.  Then you get to taste and share in their efforts.  I like to think that my home brew recipes border on the extreme or are at least unique.  All of the recipes I have developed have a story and I have taken to naming my beers after the people with whom my connection runs deep.  I named my most recent beer "Daveman-Caveman", recipe follows, after my dad.  My dad acquired the nickname Daveman, pronounced Dave-Man on a camping trip when I was a kid over 25 years ago.  The "Caveman" part of my beer's name obviously came from the photo I have of him in front of the pizza oven, which I used as the label for this beer. 

So, how do you sum up a person with a beer recipe?  People are complicated…beer can be too.  To me, the name "Daveman" implies superhero capabilities, both in mind and body.  Most daughters probably feel this way, but I think my dad is the strongest, smartest guy around and he can fix anything.  My dad is fun and likeable yet authoritative.  He is a bit rustic and rough around the edges but has a soft side.  He can tend a fire yet delicately bake a pizza.  And he can use tools like the best of them.   Actually, my dad doesn't drink beer.  His drink of choice is bourbon and when at local bars where bourbon offerings are limited, he always orders a straight double shot of Old Grand-Dad with a Coke or Pepsi chaser. 

"Daveman-Caveman" evolved into something complicated and extraordinary.  Literally, it is a burnt orange and oak stout infused with Old Grand-Dad 114.  Figuratively, it is fun yet authoritative.  It is strong with a soft side.  It is a superhero.  The orange zest, when prepared the way I have, takes on a new flavor rarely encountered.  It isn't sweet like candy or citrus like the fruit.  It is effervescent and deep; a complex oak accentuated smoke.  It is the kind of smell you would expect to find in a log cabin in the fall.  Typically, citrus flavors aren't paired with stout, because the stout is too, well, stout.  But here, using fire and bourbon to intensify the zest only, the true orange essence comes through.  I have been advised by those in the Indiana PA Alesmiths that "Davemand-Caveman" is delicious and they have never tasted an orange quite as intense.  They also advise that if left to age, the oak will mellow and "Daveman-Caveman" will become legendary.  I think he already has.  Thanks Dad, for sharing my love of food and extreme food experiments.

1 Stout kit (Brewer's Best is a good choice) or your favorite stout recipe
4-6 large naval oranges
2.5 ounces whisky barrel chips or dark oak chips
3 cups of your favorite bourbon (since we are pairing with a stout, darker is better)

Two weeks before brew day, using a vegetable peeler, take the zest off of the oranges in long strips.  (Then remove the rind, discard it, and consume the fruit.)  Place the oak chips and zest in a glass bowl and add 1 cup of whisky.  Take your bowl outside and light the contents on fire.  Use a fire-safe spoon to stir the contents.  When the fire dies out, the edges of the orange zest and chips should all be toasted, but not black entirely.  Once you are certain the alcohol has all burnt off and the fire is dead, go back in the house, put the chips and zest in a canning jar and add the two remaining cups whisky (drink what doesn't fit in the jar).  Let this rest.  Brew and ferment stout according to kit instructions.  When you move your beer to secondary fermentation, strain the whisky into your bucket.  Place the solids (chips and orange zest) into cheesecloth, tie shut, and add to secondary fermentation.  Remove the pouch before bottling. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bill's Gluten-Free Ale Recipe

Courtesy of Bill Dietrich
            2 X 3.5# Briess Sorghum Syrup
            1.5# Quinoa (toasted in oven at 350° for 30 minutes)
            1 oz. Columbus hop pellets (14.2% a acid), in boil for 60 min.
            1 oz. Saaz hop pellets (5.8% a acid) in boil for 15 min.
            1 Whirlfloc tablet in boil for 15 min.
            1 oz. Saaz hop pellets (5.8% a acid) in boil for 1 min.
            1 oz. Saaz hop pellets (5.8% a acid) dry hop in secondary fermentation
Yeast: Danstar Windsor dry yeast, gluten-free
Brewing Notes:
- Put 5 gal of water in brewpot and Quinoa in mesh bag. Turn on heat and heat to 170°F. 
- Turn off heat and let steep for 30 min.
- Turn on heat, add 1.5 gal water and bring to boil.
- Add Columbus hops, boil for 45 minutes.
- Add 1 oz Saaz and whirlfloc tablet. Boil for 14 minutes.
- Add Saaz hops. Boil for 1 minute. Turn off heat and whirlpool.
- Cool. Rack into primary fermenter. Aerate and add yeast.
- Let ferment for a week.
- Put Saaz hops into mesh bag and place into secondary fermenter. Rack from primary to secondary. Let ferment a week.
- Bottle or keg as usual.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Two New Brew Pubs Coming to Butler

Most of knew about the soon-to-arrive Butler Brew Works in Butler, PA.  You can keep up to date with their Facebook page and Twitter accounts.

We've just learned about a second brew pub to open ... just down the street from the first one. Reclamation Brewing Co. is under construction, too!  Here are links to their Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Update on the Red Cross Gala

If you would like to attend the Red Cross Gala on Thursday, March 21, just call the local Red Cross office at 724-465-5678. They will send you an invitation and information. It costs $20, which covers 25 bid tickets. The dinner is free. There will be other chances to bid on some really neat stuff.

If you would like to get an IPA table together just mention that you'd like to be seated with Bill Dietrich.

As a reminder, the IPAs passed the hat back in November and was able to purchase a beginners homebrew setup. This prize will be auctioned off at the Gala on March 21 to the highest bidder. The winner will also be able to choose the recipe kit of his/her choice, and Bill (others?) will go to that person's house to teach them how to brew a batch of beer.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Root Beer Squared

By Anne Daymut

Can home brewing be fun for the whole family, even the little ones?  I think so, and I am doing my best to make it an educational life lesson at the same time.  Biology, chemistry, physics, math, the history and culture of food preservation, basic kitchen skills, and respect for alcohol consumption, you name it; home brewing is multidisciplinary and offers a lot of opportunity to spend quality time with the kids and they don't even know they are learning.  But, being small as they are, they don't get to [legally] enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Actually, with no extra effort at all, you can turn your favorite hobby into one the kids and grandkids can drink and will be begging you to do.

My daughter Mia, 7 years old, loves cooking and food almost as much as I do.  Last year for her birthday, she got a soda siphon and a book about the craft of home made sodas.  (She also has an entrepreneurial spirit so the gift giver thought Mia could start her own soda stand over the summer and make some money.)  This gift coincided with my growing interest in home-produced alcohol.  Together, my daughter and I have worked our kitchen magic and made beverages that can please the big ones and the little ones.  It's called Root Beer.

Root Beer has been around for a long time, and yes, back in the day it did contain alcohol (about 0.5% ABV) due to natural carbonation.  In order for the refreshing elixir (believed to have health restorative properties) to remain sweet, it was inoculated then immediately placed in a sealed container and drank within the first couple days of the start of fermentation, before much alcohol was produced.  Commercially sold Root Beer today is non-alcoholic and carbonated artificially.  Just like the major adult beverage companies have limited the diversity, healthfulness, and craftsmanship heritage of alcohol consumption (and, in turn, dumbed-down the American palate), so too have the soda companies done the same with drinks suitable for children.  And the possibilities for soda are just as diverse, if not more so, than traditional beer.  Combine a rainbow of fresh fruit, berry, spice, and herb flavors with the fact that you have control over the sugar, preservatives, and caffeine; and how could anyone interested in home brewing, that also has rug rats underfoot, not consider making home brewed soda?

Here is Mia's recipe for Root Beer:
Ingredients can be collected from the woods (if you know what you are doing), ordered online, purchased at health foods stores like Nature's Way in Greensburg or the East End Food co-op in Pittsburg, or from our local homebrew shop, Montgomery Underground Winery.
2 scant liters Filtered Water
¼ packet Champagne Yeast
1 cup Natural Sweetener like Sugar or Honey
¼ cup Dried Sassafras Root
¼ cup Dried Burdock Root
2 tbs Dried Sarsaparilla Root
1 tbs Dried Licorice Root
1 tbs Dried Ginger Root

Place roots in a tea ball, grain bag, or cheese cloth.  Bring water to a boil, add roots and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes.  Dissolve sugar in tea.  Allow tea to cool and add yeast.  Bottle as you prefer, leaving at least 1 inch of head space.  I like to put it in empty, clean, 2 liter plastic soda bottles.  Screw cap back on tightly and place in a dark warm place to begin fermentation.  You might also want to put it in a closed cooler or somewhere else safe in case it explodes.  Allow it to sit for 3-4 days.  If you use plastic bottles, check on progress daily. It is ready when the bottle is rock hard.  You can store bottles in the refrigerator for 2 additional days if you like but any longer and you will have a bomb on your hands.  Open carefully and enjoy.

The above recipe is sure to please the palate of any little tyke, discerning or not.  It is fresh, natural, and fun.  It even appeals to those of us big kids with a sweat tooth.  But, being the "drinkie" (my newly coined word for someone who appreciates all things "drink"; similar to the name "foodie" given to people who spend a lot of time contemplating and practicing all things "food"; i.e. people who watch Food Network daily and collect cookbooks) that I am, I wondered what a real Root Beer Beer (what I now call Root Beer²) would turn out like. 

Those of you that tried my first attempt really enjoyed it and that is why I wrote this article sharing the recipe.  In fact, my family and friends that have been following me through my home brewing journey insist that this is my best effort to date.  But I am certain it can be improved upon and altered to make wonderful, individualistic, and inspired creations.  There are literally thousands of herbs, spices and fruits out there that can be experimented with.  For instance, you might add some dried dandelion root or petals, licorice root, cherry or birch bark, juniper berries, or winter green leaf.  I am getting chills thinking of all the variations.  I would love to find a big wild patch of tea berries like my grandma pointed out to me as a kid hiking around cook forest; talk about making this truly a family affair, but I digress. 

Just one word of caution, start with a small amount of favor enhancements and work your way up to the perfect addition, maybe even small batches, and keep good records and labels.  I've been told that the best thing about my particular ratio of flavored root additions was that it was not too strong.  It gave just the right amount of up-front nose and a little bit of root flavor at the very end but it was still just a plain, widely accepted, version of the American Pale Ale, with hops, grains and all. 

Alas, I never make the same thing twice, even when cooking, but Root Beer² will always be in the back of my mind.  Well, I am going to get inventing on the next thing that will rock your boat (I am already dreaming about what I might brew this coming August when sweet corn is at its peak or even next month when I dig up those carrots that have over-wintered in my garden) while you perfect Root Beer².  And would it really be so bad if my daughter had a taste of this?

Root Beer Squared:
1  5-gal recipe (or ingredient kit) of your favorite American Pale Ale
1 tbs dried ginger root
2 tbs dried burdock root
2 tbs dried sassafras root
1 tbs dried sarsaparilla root

Brew Pale Ale as instructed in kit directions, adding dried roots during last 10 minutes of boil.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Homebrew Labels - A Great Glue Recipe

posted by Anne Daymut

It seems I am now known as “The Glue Girl”.  I have been called worse and I feel honored that so many of you appreciate the hours I spent researching the best method to affix homemade labels to your homebrew.  Well, I feel that our beer deserves the best.  After all, we have spent an incredible amount of time, effort, and money contemplating our next recipe, collecting equipment and ingredients, brewing into the wee hours of the night once the kids are in bed, tending to our fermenters like they are part of the family, and cleaning and filling bottles until our fingers hurt.  In truth, I had very little to do with this glue recipe, I just extracted it from the Home Brew Talk Forum after much reading.  (If you haven’t visited this forum, I recommend stopping by).

You can't buy this glue already made, but the ingredients are easy to find and it keeps well.  (A couple of us should go into business making this glue and selling it online!)  It is great because it won't come off in an icy cold cooler but peels right off without residue in hot soapy water.  
You can design your own labels using computer software such as Microsoft Publisher or Adobe Photoshop, but there are also websites where you can design your own labels for free, or almost free (future article, maybe).  Or, if you are particularly artistically inclined, draw something unique freehand (it is craft beer, isn’t it?)  I have found that creating a label for my beer and seeing the reaction on the faces of those I share it with, is almost as enjoyable as making the beer itself.  I have had a lot of good times asking friends and family to pitch in ideas for names and label designs for my next concoction.

When labels are printed using an ink jet printer, the colors will run.  If you don't have access to a laser color printer, just take a copy of what you printed using your ink jet to a copy center and ask for color copies, which are only 0.25 per sheet with 6 labels per sheet.  Actually, many copy centers will allow you to email a digital copy of your art to them so you don’t even have to waste your own ink.  Well, I could go on forever but, let’s get to the recipe.

Recipe for Glue (makes enough for at least 4 cases of beer)
6 Tbsp water
2 packets unflavored gelatin (1/2 oz each) found in jello section at grocery store
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp glycerin (skin care section of pharmacy)

Bring water to boil.  Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved.  Add vinegar and glycerin.  Let mixture cool slightly and pour into jar with tight fitting lid.  Use a brush to apply to paper while warm.  (I use a silicon food basting brush because it cleans so easily.)  Transfer unused glue to a glass jar with tight fitting lid.  Glue becomes a gel when cool.  To reuse, place jar in warm water bath until liquid.

Alternatively, you can skip this glue and dunk your bottles in milk and slap your labels on.  However, the milk "glue" method doesn't hold up in the cooler with ice.

February Meeting Had Record Attendance

The IPAs met last night (Tue Feb 12) at the Coney on Philadelphia Street.  In all, we had 26 people at the meeting, which included three new members (Welcome!), many 'regular' attendees, and a few old familiar faces.

Although this was to be our Stout brewing tasting, there were also a few non-stout brews shared. And two of the stouts supplied by members were commercial brews rather than homebrews. Regardless, there was a lot of great beer being passed around last night.

We sampled dry stouts, milk stouts, imperial stouts, stouts with chocolate, with coffee, and with blueberries.  We also had an American Pale Ale containing traditional root beer herbs/spices, a pilsner, and an India Pale Ale.  All in all, a nice evening.

Thanks to Carolyn and Ryan for holding the main dining room for us and for the great service.

Save the date:
  • Red Cross Gala (the club donated a homebrew starter kit for auction) Thu Mar 14

Friday, February 8, 2013

February 2013 Homebrew Club Meeting

The February 2013 IPAs club meeting will be held at 8pm at The Coney on Tuesday, Feb. 12.  We will have several tables reserved for us in the main dining area to avoid the DJ and the game room.  Carolyn, veteran server at the Coney, will be our waitress for the evening.

Many thanks to those who offered alternate solutions to our meeting-place quandry. Had the Coney not acquiesced to giving us prime seating, we would be headed elsewhere for this tasting.

The meeting agenda for Tuesday will be to get updates on any beer-related news in the region (festivals, new releases, etc.), discuss upcoming events for the club, and then get to the main event: the homebrew stout tastings!

Should this not be enough beer, the Coney currently has Penn Märzen on tap and Rogue Dead Guy, Founders Breakfast Stout, and Bells Two Hearted in bottles.