St. Joe’s Home Sale Beer
So we wanna move. We buy the little statue of Saint Joseph, say the petition prayer, and bury him in the yard; head down, according to some of the people we asked. A year later, no sale yet. What else can we do? What about brewing a “St. Joseph’s Beer?”
A little research finds that St. Joseph, besides being an intercessor for home sellers, is also the patron saint of Belgium! So let's make a Belgian beer! (He's also the patron of Canada, so a Unibroue clone would have been better. Also of Austria and Bohemia, so a Czech lager or Vienna would have been good). So I ordered up a Saison kit from Kennywood Brewing Supply, run by a fellow BOSS member, lit up a St. Joseph devotional candle from the Mexican food aisle of the supermarket, and commenced a brewin’.
This brew actually used Belgian strong ale yeast, since Wyeast doesn't sell its Saison yeast in the winter. But the kit made up for it with some orange peel and kaffir lime leaves. I also added one Fatali chile pepper (just one, mind you) to add just the right finishing spiciness. Recipe.
In any Catholic bookstore, you’ll find these little boxes of tiny St. Joseph statues used to pray for a home sale. There seem to be two manufacturers; one uses a newly designed package with four-color photo and lots of tyepsetting, the other is the one modified here, using a drawing that seems to have been picked up year after year, with the three spot colors running into each other over time (note the red cloud outlines). It took very minimal modification to make this look like a Wacky Packages parody. But with all due respect.
- Second Place, BABBLE Homebrewers (Lake County) Brew-Off, 2007 (Pale & Belgian French Artisanal Ales)
- Third Place, Chicago Beer Society Spooky Brew Review, 2006 (Belgian & French Ales)
Brewed 2/12/06 - Bottle Conditioned 4/2/06 ~ O.G. 1.060,
F.G. 1.010 ABV: 6.5%
Ever since I started brewing, I wanted to do a popcorn beer, just because I’m from “The Pop-Corn Capital of the World.” Of course popcorn, like regular corn, is just an adjunct that lets you increase the alcohol without adding color. But finally, encouraged by Randy Mosher’s book, “Radical Brewing,” I went ahead and did this as my first partial mash brew. I went with a Belgian Strong Ale style, since the popcorn would allow me to do a lighter-colored beer than before, spiced up with Saison yeast. Thus the tenuously related “Can-Can” artwork. And why is the dancing girl blue? I saw it on a vintage poster, possibly by Toulouse Lautrec, and thought that’d help balance the red and white color scheme.
Again, I’m taking a chance by blindly depending on the Internet to translate my attempt at bi-lingual humor. If you were to plug “Temps Gai” into an internet translator, you'd only get something close to the name of the brand of popcorn I’m referring to.
And to get that nice gold foil look, be sure your graphic program has Pantone Metallic swatches. Even shown here in RGB, they look much better than anything I could make myself.
For the first time, this beer got me a first place finish for its style at the BOSS Chicago Cup Challenge. And it got a 3rd place at the first round of the American Homebrewers Associations’ 2006 National Homebrew Competition. That goes to the Finals with a score of 40 out of 50! (Click here, scroll to Category 16 to see) Recipe with Judges’ Comments.
Brewed 8/25/04 - Bottle Conditioned 10/10/04 ~ O.G. 1.052,
F.G. 1.004 ABV: 6.5%
To celebrate bringing our son Vanya home from Russia, I made up a porter... not a real Baltic porter, which would have been logical, but just to try and remake the base beer I used for my Mole Porter.
This is the result. That picture is the first one we took of Vanya when he was introduced to us. Amazingly, that shy little boy who barely talked to us at the orphanage is now the happy little chatterbox sharing our lives! Recipe.
The blindly internet-translated Russian on the label reads, “Vanya Porter Dark Beer.” The legend around the picture reads, “No son of mine will drink Coors Light.”
Brewed 6/20/04 - Bottle Conditioned 7/17/04 ~ O.G. 1.057,
F.G. 1.012 ABV: only 5.9%
Eis-style California Common
This started as a beer based somewhat on the Anchor SteamTM,
or California Common style of beer. That is, a lager fermented at warm
ale temperatures. I had lots of Northern Brewer hops to toss in, which
matches the style. Then I found out about the Minnesota
Home Brewers’ Upper Mississippi Mash-Out competition, with a
special “Eis-Anything” category. That’s where fermenting
beer is left in freezing weather to form ice crystals, then the ice is
drawn out, leaving more concentrated malt. Had to go for that, I thought.
Not quite a total disaster, just not the best I’ve
done. Yet when I entered the competition, I got a third-place
medal! Although I must honestly point out that this was third out
of four entries. And they spelled the name wrong in the results. But I'll
take it! Recipe.
Oh, and please be properly appreciative of the reference
to another played-out 1970s band!
Brewed 12/03 - Bottle Conditioned 2/04 ~ O.G. 1.052,
F.G. 1.022 ABV: only 3.7%
Who Wants to Drink a Chile Beer #4
I went for a more refined chile beer taste here by going
with a porter, using chocolate-roast malt, and using some of the peppers
used in a mole negro, a tasty Mexican chocolate-Chile sauce. I
had a Chilhuacle pepper plant from ChilePlants.com, which is apparently hard to grow north of
Oaxaca. That must be true, because it only put out two small pods, which
I used with some yellow Santa Fes and green anchos. Though I just couldn’t
taste the heat while it was fermenting, I resisted adding more peppers
and was rewarded with a nice heat that didn’t overpower the porter
taste. Here’s the Recipe.
I kept thinking that if someone didn’t know the Spanish pronunciation
of “mole” [MOL-lay], they’d wonder why I’d use
a burrowing rodent in the name. Then a co-worker asked if this was a tribute
to Cole Porter. Thus the little banner reading "I get a kick out of..."
I put some of this brew into competition bottles with just
a tiny slice of chocolate habanero, which, despite its pleasant name is
the hottest chile under cultivation. And it won the “Spooky
Brew” title at the Chicago
Beer Society’s 2003 Halloween homebrew contest: The Spooky Brew Review!
Brewed 7/5/03 - Bottle Conditioned 8/12/03 ~ O.G. 1.045,
F.G. 1.008 ABV: 4.8%
After Three Floyds brewery unveiled their great Gumball Head
summer wheat beer, Chris at Beer Gear homebrew supply
shop asked if I’d like to try and “clone” it. Sure,
I said. So we whomped up a mix of wheat malt and extract, threw in the
vital Amarillo hops that made all the difference, and here ‘tis.
The beer is a tad tart; partly the effect of the hops, and the fact that
wheat beers can be puckery (if you’ve had a Berliner Kindl Weiss, you’d understand, though mine’s
nowhere near that territory. Recipe.
The name is a play on the beer’s “mentor”, and lent
itself to this takeoff on a pulp magazine cover. I have no real color
sense beyond beyond playing primaries against each other. I drew this
in pencil, scanned it into Photoshop, and added colors and pattern fills
in layers. And, if you can read it, some “hard-boiled” copy
along the side.
Brewed 7/5/03 - Bottle Conditioned 8/12/03 ~ O.G. 1.045,
F.G. 1.008 ABV: 4.8%
An “Editor’s Choice” in BYO
Magazine’ 2004 Homebrew Label Contest (since it wasn’t
a prize-winner, though, it wasn’t posted on their web site).
King Bee Commemorative Mead
For the below-mentioned National Homebrewers
Conference, I designed this small label for the Commemorative
Mead, which was brewed by some of my fellow B.O.S.S. members and over 300 tiny bottles
of which were given to attendees (I arrived the evening of the
first day and they were already gone). Note the almost-but-not-quite
resemblance to John Belushi in his “Killer Bee” costume in the
almost-but-not-quite “Keep on Truckin” pose. You can click on
the graphic to view it close-up in PDF format.
I was asked to do this label by conference coordinator Randy Mosher,
who is himself a professional commercial designer and homebrewer,
so I’m pretty flattered. I also wrote and posted letters to regional
homebrew clubs and stores, for which my attendance at the Conference
was comped. That’s gotta be a career highlight: a commission for
which I’m paid in all the beer I can drink!
Home-Grown Scotch Ale
I got on a tear here. I started this beer
the same day I bottled the chile beer to save time. Took up more of
the day, but saved me one weekend. As this one used only hops that
came out of my garden, and all that implies, I chose the Fillmore
East-type psychedelic poster route. Had a lot of fun twisting
text around in Illustrator X and playing with their new fill swatches
(the fade to black was created with a white-to-black gradient
in a top layer, with a Multiply Transparency setting. Easy, no?).
I scanned the image from the frontispiece of a 1908 Funk &
Wagnalls edition of Edgar Allan Poe that I had, so I sure hope
this artwork is in public domain.
This one had a nice malty Scotch Ale taste, close to a 60/- style.
Brewed 3/29/03 - Bottle Conditioned 5/11/03 ~
O.G. 1.045, F.G. 1.018 ABV: 3.5%
Who Wants to Drink a Chipotle Chile Beer?
#3: Afterburner Wheat
Yes, I admit it. This label just goes way overboard.
Too cluttered. But I had just found these cool “Fink Fonts” based
on the lettering in the Ed “Big Daddy” Roth cartoons, plus clip art!
What else could I do.
Meantime, I couldn’t quite get the beer to ferment out completely;
it’s less than 3% alcohol. I smoked the chipotles myself, and
this is my first batch using the Northern Brewer hops I planted
Afterburner won third place in the first
round of the American Homebrewers Association’s National
Homebrew Competition. Here’s PDF of the results!
It failed to place, though, at the finals at the AHA’s National Homebrewers
Conference in Chicago. Here’s a .txt file of the recipe, with judge’s comments.
Brewed 2/22/03 - Bottle Conditioned 3/29/03 ~
O.G. 1.042, F.G. 1.020
Naked Lady Label
Munich Dark Lager
I tried out a kit beer with 5 gallons of pre-hopped
wort, so instead of eleboratley describing what I put into it,
I put something more interesting on the bottle. Actually,
the kit came with dried ale yeast, so I used actual lager yeast
intead and cleared a space in my beer fridge to properly lager
the brew at 42°F. I also slipped half a cup of molasses in to
boost the gravity just a little bit.
After my near-entanglement with the KI<><>
Army of Litigants, I decided not to just swipe some possibly copyrighted art or photo. Finally, those art classes in college paid off!
I drew this myself during the one class when we actually had a
model. So this art is all ©Mark McDermott (and the model probably
has grandkids by now). Brewed December, 2002, bottle-conditioned
and designed February, 2003.
Sorry if this may be seen as inappropriate, but I
figure you see a lot worse than this decaled to the rear windows
of pickup trucks, like those smirky Calvin rip-offs with pants
down, peeing on logos for other trucks.
Imperial Russian Stout
Why “Kraputnik?” Because so many things just went
Kraput. While in my airlocked primary fermentation bucket, it
kicked up such a head that pieces of hop leaves got caught in
the airlock, causing the lid to blow off (a not uncommon occurrence
in homebrewing). A few days after I managed to successfully tame
the froth-over, the sewer drain in my basement brewery backed
up, leaving a 3-ft. wide pool of fragrant gray water. I quickly
moved my fermenter upstairs. The rest of the procedure was incident-free,
except that when bottling, I broke a bottle for the first time.
Then in July, while letting it age, the beer “swelled up” in the
heat and one bottle exploded.
The label was designed in imitation of the poster
art of the Soviet Union, with great care taken to match those
drab poster colors, complete with an aged paper background (if
I could only have gotten that old coated paper with the sulfury
smell). Verbiage was courtesy of the Translation feature of Sherlock
OS X! Odd thing: when I submitted the phrase “Drinkers
of the World, Unite! You have nothing to lose but your sobriety!”,
it couldn’t provide a Russian word for “sobriety.” Here’s a .txt
file of the recipe
To see a rough English translation of my rough Russian typesetting,
just click on the label!
This label design was an “Editor’s
Choice” in BYO Magazine’
2003 Homebrew Label Contest.
Who Wants to Drink a Green Chile
#2: Scream of Wheat!
My second chile beer (those who grow chiles prefer
spelling it with an “e”) is based on an American Wheat recipe,
which better complements the peppery heat. I also used freshly
roasted chiles straight from my garden. Brewed in July, 2002.
To make your own Chile beer, take any whole dried Chile pod
and a mass-market beer with a screw-top bottle; open the beer, put about
a 2-inch piece of the Chile in it, close, and let sit a day or
two. Really improves the taste of those bland mega-brews, don’t
Scream of Wheat won a 2nd place ribbon at
the Chicago Beer
Society’s 2002 Spooky Brew Review competition! That last
link goes to the first page of the winners’ listings, this link
goes straight to category I placed in.
Bizarro is TM and ©DC Comics,
No endorsement by DC Comics should be implied!
Bizarroatmeal Stout #2
Here’s the latest version of my oddball Cinnamon Oatmeal
Stout (see below!). Cinnamon taste really stood out, but my fellow
beer brewers seem to think it’s okay. In fact, it very nearly placed
in the aforementioned Spooky Brew Review. So with a little tinkering,
I could have a contender, after all! Designed and brewed in May,
2002. Here’s a .txt file with the recipe.
Frehley I.P.A. #2
Here’s the second go ‘round on this brew. Since some homebrewers
use oak chips to simulate the flavor of barrel aging, I did the
same, and this is the result! Even hoppier, too. Brewed in March,
2002. Here’s a .txt file of the recipe
This beer won a 2nd place ribbon at the Brewers on the Bluff homebrew club’s 2002 Brewer’s Dream
competition! Check it out for yourself!
Who Wants to Drink a Chili Beer?
#1: Roast Poblano Blammo!
With this beer, I embarked on my mission... to boldly
brew what no home brewer in these parts has brewed before! I want
to replicate the tasty Green Chili Beer I enjoyed at Eske’s Brewpub
in Taos, New Mexico in 2000 (a very wonderful place to enjoy a
beer). This first try is way off, since Eske’s is a partial wheat
beer and this is a basic brown ale. And while they prefer the native Green
New Mexico (Sandia) chilis, I used the Poblanos (Anchos) I roasted
and froze last fall. But I still think this is pretty warm and kicky,
not harsh like that bottled Cave Creek chili beer in the stores.
I was reckless enough that I put some of it in small bottles to
enter in March’s Drunk Monk homebrew competition in Warrenville.
Didn’t get a very high rating: The judges complained the chili flavor
was too hot. So, my watchword now is: “I could kick your ass...
but not today!” Designed and brewed in January, 2002. Recipe.
Frehley IPA Beer
My first true homebrew!
After both of Chicago’s two brew on premises closed
down, I joined Brewers of South Suburbia, got the basic equipment,
and started doing my own homebrew from scratch! This is my first
brew, so in the cooperative spirit of homebrew, I replaced my parody
“Government Warning” with the actual recipe. I also thought the pun would be obvious, but it was new to my homebrew store supplier. The obvious subject for such a pun, though, involved a trademarked image,
so I have been obliged to alter it. Designed and brewed in December,
Our little tribute to the millennium bug--It wasn’t
really meant that way, but we kinda botched the brewing and forced
the Brew-on-premise to make more to fill out our batch. But it
was a most hearty brew, with a recipe based on Goose Island’s 10th Anniversary Beast. Designed and brewed in November, 1999.
Wedding Bell Bride-Ale
We wanted to thank all our relatives and friends for
coming to celebrate out happy day by serving a brewed-on-premise
beer at our reception. Only problem was, we held the party at a
room of St. Irenaeus’ elementary school, which didn’t have a license
to serve alcohol. So we handed out the bottles (as well as a tasty
root beer from the trunk of my car in the parking lot. Boy, that
sounds illegal! Good thing Barb’s cousin the cop was there!
Named for those crazy, backward inhabitants of the
weird square planet in the Superman comics (see my Pop Culture Reference page), I made up this tasty brew for Mensa’s HalloweeM party in 1996!
Class of ‘77 Altbier
What better way to celebrate my upcoming 20th High
School reunion than by coming with commemorative beer! My original
subject, one of the iconic people to a high school student in theat
year, was certainly a better idea than my class picture of me in
my Apricot orange leisure suit! Unfortunately, the original image
also happened to be a trademark, so I was advised by its subject’s lawyers to remove it. Designed in June, 1997.
Red Dingo Scotch Ale
My very first brew! I picked a name to parody all
the “Red” animal names coming out (Red Dog, Red Wolf, etc.) and picked a brew to match. When I did my usual cursory artistic research,
I found that dingos are, in fact, red! Brewed in July, 1995.
My second beer, and first attempt at a lager, was
labeled to parody the incessant commercial tie-ins with any and
all Disney cartoons. As it tuned out, during brewing some bacteria
got into the beer. Interesting taste, but it gushed out of the bottle whenever I tried to open it. Designed
and brewed in May, 1996.
How I did it:
The logo started as a piece of script type, in Illustrator.
I applied Kai’s Power Tools to distort it to a “comet tail,” then used
the 3-D Tool to add a bevel and extrude it, with a shiny metallic finish.
I rasterized it to a TIF object, applying a mask around the edges. Bizarro
was scanned from my comic book collection, to retain the color dots and
slightly off-register comic printing.
And the problem with typesetting in Russian is that although both
the Macs and PCs at work are supposed to be able to handle Unicode,
they gave no clue to how to actually access the codes to set the Cyrillc
characters. I had to download some Cyrillic decorative fonts, and for
the text, pull in the WordPerfect Cyrillic subset, which is not matched
to any real-life characters.