Trappist Westvleteren 12

After my first home brew experience, I shared with my fellow brewers a Wastvelteren 12, also known as the “Best Beer in the World”. It is a 10.2% Quadrupel brewed by Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren), is a brewery founded in 1838 at the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus in Vleteren, Belgium. They began selling this particular brew to the public in 1940.


It was in the early 2000’s when the beer exploded in popularity as Rate dubbed it “The Best Beer in the World”.  The brewery went from having 30 some visitor’s a day to lines out the door trying to buy the brew.

There are 11 Trappist monasteries producing beer currently, Brouwerij, produces the fewest amount of gallons (126,000) a year, where Chimay produced the most, (3.2 million). Despite the demand, Brouwerij has no desire to increase production, the brewing process is solely to support their monastery.

The monks brew 70 days out of the year. 5 brew, 5 bottle, on the original copper kettles, the only monastery to keep theirs during both world wars. And the beer retails $2 a bottle at the brewery. Fascinating.

I was given the beer as a present and sat on it for years. I felt like my first time home brewing would be a nice ‘thank you’ gift as well as a good way to mark the occasion. image1

The brew was perfect. I have never had anything like it. Fruity, sweet, datey, pruney, with hints of candied sugar. There was no burn despite its high ABV, it was dangerously smooth. I hope to meet this beer again someday….maybe even visit where its from.

My First Home Brew Day!

Sunday, March 13th, 2016, marked a very special occasion for me, my first batch of home brew. It took place in the ‘Boar’s Nest’, pictured below, my friend’s pretty awesome man cave. IMG_2044

At the last MUGZ home brew club meeting, two names were drawn to brew a beer with ingredients provided by the club; the same grain bill, hops, and yeast but the brewer comes up with the recipe. Then we meet up in April and drink them both and talk about it.

My name was pulled. I even specifically said, “don’t put my name in there!!” I’m not a home brewer, I don’t have a brew set up at home, I attend these meetings for the love of information and creativity. But I guess, after 4 years of hanging around the QC home brewers, its about time I start brewing myself.


So I went over there around 1pm, we got the electric system all set up and water filling and then heating up.  We then milled the grain with a cool rig where an electric drill became a crank turn.

Once we had enough water and it was hot enough (166 degrees), we “mashed in”, which is a brewers way of saying we dumped grain into super hot water and stirred in a round with a wooden paddle.

Then we waited for an hour to let the grain germinate a bit, so we could open it up and get it to release sugars.


Then we sparged. The grain settles to the bottom of the kettle and acts as a filter. I poured hot water over it, while it was draining into the kettle and having that nice sugar water, or wort, run off.

This was also the first hop drop. We then brought this sugary water up to a boil and kept it there while we performed the second and third hop drops every 30 minutes. This is also when we had to rehydrate the yeast – see our yeast was in this powdery form but we added it to 100 degree water to wake it up a bit before adding it into the wort.


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After the boil and hop drops we put an immersion chiller in the drop the temperature as quickly as possible. We transferred into the carboy fermentor and pitched the yeast.


Now it sits in this fridge until it is transferred into a keg, carbonated, and dry-hopped. It will be unveiled on Sunday, April 24th, 2016 at the MUGZ Meeting at Rebellion Brew Haus.


The Fireplace Room: Project #2

IMG_2101The second room I decided to paint is the Fireplace Room. I painted it the hospital-gown green many years ago with my father. It took us three or four days to complete the job. This is why I was dreading it at first, but then I realized the difference between cheap paint (green) and good paint.

I purchased a 5-gallon bucket of Eggshell Behr Paint from Home Depot and it has worked phenomenally for me in both rooms. I’ve had to do one coat in both rooms and the color turns out smooth and consistent. The whole painting process in this room took about 6 hours. Set up and tear down, I’d say 9 hours total.

First things first….TAPE. I hate this part the most.


Second…patch any holes or cracks….


Third, go to town. (And by that I mean paint.)



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I absolutely love the way it turned out. The eggshell compliments the wood in the room so well, it brings about a nice warmness which is nice compared the sterile green it was before.


For now it is set up as a second bedroom for my sister, niece and brother-in-law who will be coming to stay with me soon! Then eventually it will be turned back into a living room.



My First Trip to Galena, Illinois

galena-mainThe title of this entry is a bit misleading in that I have been to Galena, many many times, but only straight to Chesnut Mountain Resort, I had never spent any time in the town. So when my buddy asked if I wanted to get out of town for the day and check it out, I naturally said, “yes”.

It’s an easy hour and a half drive up Highway 61 in Iowa, then you cross over the Mississippi River in Dubuque. We got really lucky with the weather we had that day, it was windy but the breeze was warm and the sun was shining oh so brightly. It was perfect.

Galena is a super cute town. Tall brick buildings filled with shops up and down a crowded street. We visited on a Sunday and weren’t the only ones with the idea of a day trip to the city, the streets were bustling with folks of all ages, shapes, and sizes.

galena-mainWe decided on eating lunch at One Eleven Main, a farm to table restaurant, a menu filled with local fare and handmade concoctions, a place right up my alley. I ordered a bloody mary and a cheeseburger, a fairly standard order for me, both were delicious.

IMG_2206 IMG_2205Afterwards we just meandered up and down the street, popping into different stores selling anything from antiques to toys to lingerie to wine and cheese, Galena has a little something for everyone.

I clearly had to stop at the Galena Brewing Co. I have had several of their beers before, in fact their Coffee Porter was the first beer I ever tapped at REB. I was impressed by their output given the space they have to work in.

IMG_2212 IMG_2211We popped into the Great American Popcorn Co. It was amazing. They handed out samples of any popcorn you wanted to try as well as spoonfuls of warm caramel they use for their caramel corn. Mmmm.

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Afterwards we stumbled into Jamie’s Wine Studio and had a guided tasting with Jamie herself. It was fun, there was another couple there too and the 5 of us ended up spending a good amount of the afternoon in there together. The place is a gorgeous wine store with a bar in the back. They serve cocktails as well as glasses of wine. It was a little pricey but a good time.

1913873_1027592503930439_2985098380543061510_n 1186852_613513302005030_1126608578_n I loved my time up in Galena, it was far too short of  a visit. I look foward to returning again soon. Next time we’re staying in a Bed and Breakfast and I look to explore the nightlife of the little town.