My First Saison

My First Saison

Not that the video sheds any light on brewing a saison, but that’s what I was doing. One of the big differences was the step mash instead of a single infusion, and the whole mash process took more than two hours, but aside from the yeast (Imperial’s “Rustic”) and relatively low hop bill it was pretty straightforward.

This was my 5th brew on my new system, and I’m starting to understand it, but still struggling with the cleaning process, which really extends my brew day way more than I’d like. I’ll figure it out, but am open to any ideas for curtailing the cleaning. (We are on a septic system, so I’m trying not to put a lot of junk down the drain, both in terms of hop residue or cleaning chemicals…).


Bucking Chukar

So, thanks in part to Covid-19, things have gotten a little out of hand in the brewery-that-used-to-be-our-garage. My lovely wife decided to get me a logo for Hells Canyon Beer as an early birthday present (possibly thinking I won’t survive until I reach my next birthday; need to check on whether she took out another life insurance policy on me). I’m into several batches now on my new Ss Brewtech 3-vessel electric system, with a NEIPA chugging away in the unitank (to be kegged as soon as I crash it with the glycol chiller that just arrived). Anyway, we’ll have some shirts and hats, and maybe pint glasses with this logo for sale on the Chukar Culture website before too long. With any luck, it’ll be before the stay-at-home directive expires (which could be years, so don’t hold your breath). Anyway, some good news, at least for us, since we think the graphic is very lovely.

Many News

New system, new beer style… I’m learning the ins and outs of the Ss Brewtech 3V system I recently acquired, and want to share a bit of my second batch experience, which was my first shot at brewing a New England IPA. Often while brewing, I’ll practice my bagpipes while waiting for the mash or the boil to finish.

This is the secret ingredient of Hells Canyon Beer. The tune I’m playing while the grain is mashing is one of my favorite piobaireachd melodies, “Nameless (Hiharin Dro O Dro),” which is appropriate for this specific beer: the beer is called “Certain Slant NEIPA (New England IPA)” which is named after one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems, “There’s a certain slant of light.” Her poems were not titled (i.e., “nameless”), but are known from the first line of the poem. Same with this piobaireachd, which they call “Nameless,” but because there are other un-named piobaireachd tunes also called “Nameless,” they distinguish them all by putting in parentheses the vocables of the first line, in this case hiharin dro o dro, which is how you would sing the specific notes of the opening melody (as long as you know what a “hiharin” or a “dro” sound like). The beer style connects to all this: it’s a New England IPA, and Emily Dickinson lived in New England. Finally, there’s another connection, too, which has to do with the yeast: the yeast strain is London Ale (Wyeast 1318), originated in England, and — if I were to culture this for future brews — I would use certain kinds of “slants” to store the yeast for cultivation down the road. So there it is. Enjoy!

I also added a steam condenser to the boil kettle so I could brew with the garage door shut and not turn the ceiling into a gooey mess of degrading drywall. Here’s my review of the first test run on the Steam Slayer by Brewhardware.

Spent Grain Treats for your Best Friend


Hmm, what should we do with our spent grain?


Compost? Animal Feed? We decided to use some for compost and the rest to make peanut butter dog treats for our best friend. Four simple ingredients and easy to make. Give these to your dog and if they don’t already love you they most certainly will after these drooliscious treats.

Spent Grain Dog Treats Recipe

4 cups spent grain
2 cups flour
2 large eggs
1 cup peanut butter


Mix all ingredients together in large bowl, then roll out on flour coated surface and use cookie cutter to make desired shapes. Put onto cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for 30 min. Turn treats over on cookie sheet then reduce heat to 225 degrees for 2 hrs or until dry (to prevent mold growth). Store in air tight containers. Freeze leftover treats in Ziplock bags and thaw out as needed.


Spent grain.



Very simple!



Roll out the dough.



Squirrels and Bones.



For our Superstar!



Boiling the first one

Boiling the first new one

Long time coming, but better late than whenever. A fit of je ne sais quoi pulled the release on this and it’s on. Let’s see where it goes.

I made my first batch of beer, an extract stout from a kit, soon after turning 21 in Berkeley, California. There was a home brewing store way down on San Pablo Avenue, in El Cerrito, actually. It must have been 1983. Stovetop beer, plastic buckets, bottles everywhere, a complete mess. No clue. I wish I could remember more about it, other than I couldn’t believe how cheap it was to make my own beer, and some friends who seemed very happy to watch and help ingest the evidence. One guy, Mike, came over and saw what I was doing – boiling a batch in a cheap enamel-covered tin canning pot on the electric stove in the apartment I shared with three young women. I didn’t care for Mike much, but he wanted to learn even though he needed a few years to be legal. I showed him the steps, and forgot about it. A few months later I found myself at a party in his apartment. Eight 5-gallon plastic fermenters, festooned with bubbling airlocks, lined the hallway between the kitchen and his bathroom. Mike clearly had launched himself, found something bigger and better. It might have been envy, but regardless – at the time I thought his brewing mania broadened his idiocy. I wonder if Mike still brews.

I’ve become Mike. I wonder what’ll become of me.