River Crew Brewing

Home Brews

By in Kicking It Old School 0

Kicking It Old School – The Recipe

This collaboration  brew’s a throwback to IPAs of yester-year. A nice malt complexity sits underneath an aggressive and floral hoppiness, all topped with an oak-aged smoothness.

Here’s the recipe for Kicking It Old School, an oak-aged IPA from the old Ballantine Brewery with Mike from New Jersey Craft Beer.  It was based on the recipe outlined on East Coast Ale’s Facebook page and modified for our set up using BeerSmith.

Estimated OG: 1.074
Estimated FG: 1.018
Estimated ABV: 7.5%
SRM (color):
IBUs (bitterness):
Efficiency: 72%
Batch Size: 10 Gallons

Fermentables (Grains/Malt)
20 lbs – Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
4.5 lbs – Flaked Corn (1.3 SRM)
2 lbs – 10L Munich Malt (10.0 SRM)
10 oz – Caraaroma (130.0 SRM)
5 oz – 120L Caramel/Crystal Malt (120.0 SRM)

Mash Procedure
Mash at 152 for 90 minutes
Sparge at 168

Boil – 60 Minutes
45 min – 5 oz Bullion Hops [AA 8.00 %]
30 min – 4 oz Cluster Hops [AA 7.00 %]
15 min – 1 Whirlfloc Tablet
15 min – 1 tsp Yeast Nutrient
5 min – 2 oz Williamette Hops [AA 5.50 %]

3L Starter – American Ale Yeast (Wyeast #1056)

Primary Fermentation
Ferment at 68-72 Degrees for 10 Days or when desired FG is reached

Dry Hop
Rack to Secondary Fermenter
Add 1 oz – Amarillo Hops
Age for 1 week

Transfer to corny keg to carbonate
Add 1.5 oz Medium Toast Hungarian Oak Cubes in stainless steel tea ball to keg

By in Kicking It Old School 0

Kicking It Old School – A Collaboration with Mike from NewJerseyCraftBeer.com

This collaboration  brew’s a throwback to IPAs of yester-year. A nice malt complexity sits underneath an aggressive and floral hoppiness, all topped with an oak-aged smoothness.

National Homebrew Day was back on May 7th of this year.  It celebrates the day Jimmy Carter legalized homebrewing in 1979.  Each year homebrewers celebrate with a Big Brew day, gathering their friends and fellow brewing geeks to celebrate by making beer together.

Bob Olson of Bolero Snort Brewing Company, the resident #BrewYork big-thinker, put out a call to all the #BrewYork homebrewers to see if anyone was interested in getting together for Big Brew Day.  Andrew Maiorana of The Druery, Mike Kivowitz of NewJerseyCraftBeer.com and myself answered the call.

Bob had just gotten himself a new 3-burner rig, all of which had keggles we could use as brew kettles.  Bob and Andrew had brewed together before and already had designs for their brews.  Mike and I were paired up to take over the 3rd burner and had to decide what we wanted to brew.

Whole Lot of Brewing Going On

Whole Lot of Brewing Going On

Not knowing where to start, I came up with a recipe for a BAMA based on our first initials.  BAMA stood for a Belgian-American Maibock Ale, where we’d take a Maibock lager recipe and change it up to use American hops, a Belgian yeast, and ferment it at ale temperatures.  I was pretty excited about this really unique brew and was curious about how it’d turn out (and still am – stay tuned!)

Mike Mashing Kicking It Old School

Mike Mashing Kicking It Old School

Mike, being the Jersey guy he is, stumbled upon a recipe from the old Ballantine Brewery from Newark, NJ on the East Coast Yeast Facebook page.  Given that we were brewing in Jersey and we had the opportunity to brew a classic, we decided to brew this recipe instead of the BAMA. We went about getting the ingredients together, but

Hard At Work

Hard At Work

Brew Day at Bob’s was great.  He’s got a heck of a set up.  I had a good time using it, and now have visions of something similar.  It always good to be around brewers of this caliber on brew days.  You can’t help but learn something.  And, even though I was relatively new to all-grain, I was able to offer suggestions and help out with the other brews, which made me pretty proud.

Kick it Into the Primary - with Jack's Help

Kick it Into the Primary - with Jack's Help

The beer came out pretty tasty.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to get a hold of East Coast Yeast’s Old Newark Ale (which is apparently the Ballantine from the old brewery).  But the American Ale strain we used did well, even though it took its time to finish.  Bob did a great job taking care of our beer as they fermented at his place.

30 Gallons of Homebrew Happily Fermenting

30 Gallons of Homebrew Happily Fermenting

The amarillo dry hop we did gave it a great citrus aroma.  The 90 IBUs are definitely there, but they don’t overshadow the malt bill underneath.  The oak cubes aging in the beer are really smoothing everything out, adding another layer of complexity to an already complex beer.

Keep your eyes out for more collaborations between this crew, as we made some great beer and had an awesome time.

Name Changin’ & Brand Buildin’

From this day forth, Timmy’s Polarizing Porter will be known as Put Your Boots On Porter.

Why the name change, you ask?

Well, The Beer formerly known as Timmy’s Polarizing Porter was the first beer I brewed under the River Crew Brewing Company banner.  Back then, all I knew is I want to make beer inspired by the River Crew, and I thought it’d be fun to name it after them.

As my brewing experience grew and I got more beers under my belt, the brand started to evolve.  Beers started getting named after our stories and memories together, and not after individual people.  It focused more on what we shared together, and culminated in the invention of our tagline: Get Crewed.

This name change falls in line with the refined direction of the brand.  Timmy’s Polarizing Porter was more about Timmy and less about the Crew and what we did together.  “Put Your Boots On and Go Home” is a phrase that came to it’s infamy in high school, and still gets tossed around with regularity by the crew today.  It was only fitting to switch things up and name a beer after it.

By in Travis's Matrimonial Mild 0

Travis’s Matrimonial Mild – The Recipe

Travis's Matrimonial Mild

This beer is mild in kick but full of flavor, just like the man of the hour himself. This lightly-hoppy, malt-forward beer boasts a toasty, carmelly flavor – perfect for a long night before the Big Day.

The Recipe
Since this beer tasted pretty good, I thought I’d share the recipe.  Be sure to check out the notes behind this recipe’s formulation.

Estimated OG: 1.043
Estimated FG: 1.013
Estimated ABV: 3.93%

Actual OG: 1.043
Actual FG: 1.016
Actual ABV: 3.5%
Efficiency: 72%
SRM (color): 26
IBUs (Bitterness): 14.1
Batch Size: 5 Gallons

Fermentables (Grains/Malt)
6 lbs 6.0 oz – Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
12.0 oz – Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM)
8.0 oz – Brown Malt (65.0 SRM)
8.0 oz – Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM)

Mash at 154 degrees for 60 minutes
Mashout at 168 for 10 minutes

Boil – 60 minutes
60 min – 1.00 oz Fuggles [3.60 % AA]
15 min – 1 tsp – Yeast Nutrient
15 min – 1 ea – Whirlfloc Tablet

500ml Starter – London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968)

Ferment at 68 degrees for 10 days
Bottle using 2.1 ounces of Corn Sugar (1.65 Volume CO2)

By in Travis's Matrimonial Mild 0

Travis’s Matrimonial Mild – The Beer

Travis's Matrimonial Mild

This beer is mild in kick but full of flavor, just like the man of the hour himself. This lightly-hoppy, malt-forward beer boasts a toasty, carmelly flavor – perfect for a long night before the Big Day.

The Beer
Travis’s love for the Yards Brawler gave me a nice starting point for this beer.  Being able to taste a beer as a reference is a huge help in designing something similar.

And this beer stands right up next to the original.  Actually, I think it has more maltiness than the Yards Brawler.  When compared side by side, the Yards’ taste is more subtle than the Matrimonial Mild, which is upfront with a more robust maltiness.  It’s really rich and roasty with nice amount of caramel flavor mixed in, and I’m amazed how it smells just like my apartment on brew.  The hops are there, but only subtly to help balance the flavor.  There is a sweetness that creeps up a bit towards the end of the bottle, which is probably because the beer finished with a higher gravity than I wanted.

Overall, this beer was met with many positive reviews, and seem to be thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.  Especially the groom, who carried a bottle around with him for most of the night.

The Man of the Hour and His Beer

The Man of the Hour and His Beer

Recipe Formulation
The recipe formulation was a bit tricky.  I’ve never brewed a Mild before, so it was great to have a reference to build on. Unfortunately their site gives you little information about what goes into the beer.  Googling around also yielded few results for a clone recipe, or any information at all around a “Pugilist Style Ale.”  So I had to go with was an English Dark Mild Style around 4.2% ABV.

Grabbing my trusty copy of Brewing Classic Styles, I started building my recipe with the 4.2% ABV goal in mind.  Milds typically lead with a toasty, roasted malt flavor, so I included a mix of Amber, Brown, Chocolate and Black malt on top of a modest amount of Maris Otter.  Since the hops are there primarily to balance the malty sweetness, I went with 1 ounce of East Kent Goldings, a low Alpha Acid hop used mainly for bittering maltier beers.  To stay true to this style’s English routes, I chose a London Ale yeast from Wyeast to ferment this beer.

I bounced my recipe off of my brewing mentor Joe Postma.  He countered with a similar recipe, but one that simplified the malt bill a bit and pulled in a few more Mild characteristics he thought were lacking.  Most notably was the inclusion of Crystal 60 to impart a lot of caramel and roasted flavors into the beer.  In turn, the Amber malt was eliminated, as was the Black malt since the beer was going to be fairly dark as it is.

Matrimonial Mild boiling away

Matrimonial Mild boiling away

Fearing the East Kent Golding hops would be a little too much, I swapped them our for Fuggles.  I had a lot of success with them in the past, and found other brewers who like them in Mild recipes as well.  I also switched the London Ale yeast to a London ESB yeast after reading an experiment by my buddy Jason Rodriguez where he found the London ESB strain produced a pleasant fruitier flavor than the London Ale yeast.

Collecting my first runnings

Collecting my first runnings

This was my first all-grain brew, so of course I was nervous going in.  Luckily, brew day went pretty well.  I nailed my mash and mash out temps, and batch sparging went well.  The Fuggles clogged the filter in my brew pot, so I ended up having to dump the mash through a funnel with a filter to get it into the primary.  I also under-collected the amount of wort needed, and added about a gallon of water to the primary to hit 5 gallons.

Fermenting Away

Fermenting Away

I left the beer in the primary for 10 days before checking the gravity, only to find the beer was 5-7 points higher than I wanted it to be.  This means the ABV would be lower than I wanted, and the beer would have a more robust body.  Since my goal was 4.2% ABV, I was a bit upset by this.  Then I think I remembered the problem – I think I forgot the yeast nutrient on brew day, meaning the yeast could have fallen dormant earlier than they should have.

To try to wake the yeast back up, I moved the primary upstairs, where the ambient temperature is about 10 degrees warmer than my basement.  After a week upstairs, the temperature increase helped me shave 2 points off the gravity, ending up at 1.016 – about 3 points short of my goal.  This was good enough for me, so I went ahead and bottled it up.

Overall, from a brewing standpoint, I’m extremely pleased with this beer and the praise it’s received.  For my first all-grain brew, I think I have a winner!

By in Travis's Matrimonial Mild 1

Travis’s Matrimonial Mild – The Inspiration

Travis's Matrimonial Mild

This beer is mild in kick but full of flavor, just like the man of the hour himself.  This lightly-hoppy, malt-forward beer boasts a toasty, carmelly flavor – perfect for a long night before the Big Day.

The Inspiration
Travis got engaged at Disney World in 2008. The Crew went down to surprise him and celebrate his engagement. Tears, laughs, drinks and concussions ensued.

The thought of making a beer for his wedding never entered my mind at the time.  When he got engaged, I only had a few beers brewed under my belt, and only 1 good one I made by accident.  Luckily, Travis and his soon-to-be-bride wanted a long engagement, setting the date for their special day for June 18th, 2011.

Fast forward a few years and many batches of beer later, and we were hanging out at Travis’s house, discussing the upcoming nuptials and sharing a few new beers.  The conversation turned towards the beers we each had lately and our takes on them.

After explaining a few different beers , Travis excitedly announced his current crush is Yards Brawler.  He loved the maltiness of it, and said it reminded him of another favorite – Yuengling’s Porter.  He liked it so much he picked up a case of it to have on hand.

Seeing how much he liked the beer, I said: “Well, if you like it so much, I’ll make you something similar for your wedding.”

To which Travis exclaimed: “Dude, that’d be awesome!”

Travis was very excited about it, and I thought a beer commemorating his wedding in his favorite style was a really cool gift.

Double Power Hour Double IPA – The Beer

Double Power Hour Double IPA

A brew as intense as a back-to-back session of the shot-per-minute pastime. Boasting almost a pound of hops, the super-bitter but smartly balanced flavor will help you power through to the 120th minute.

The Beer
Given this beer’s inspiration, I knew I needed something strong.  Like, really strong.  Something that could equate to drinking more than 10 beers in 2 hours.

I hadn’t brewed an IPA before, and with summer right around the corner, now was the perfect time.  But I didn’t want to brew just any IPA – I wanted something hop heads would love.  I did some research, and I started eyeing up More Beer’s Pliny the Elder clone.  I mean, if you’re looking for a big beer, you might as well go with the former top-rated beer on Beer Advocate, right?

Then I remember Pliny official categorized as a Double/Imperial IPA.  The story of our back-to-back power hour came to mind, and the Double Power Hour Double IPA was born.

Look at all those hops....

Look at all those hops....

This recipe packs almost a pound of Centennial, Magnum, and Cascade hops on top of almost double digit poundage of malt extract, with some corn sugar for a little extra kick.  It combines the first wort hopping technique with an extended boil and an aggressive dry hop.  It’s a hop-lover’s dream, and has a big 8% ABV kick.  It’s perfect for what I wanted, and really represents the Double Power Hour story.

Steeping and First-Wort Hopping

Steeping and First-Wort Hopping

The beer itself turned out as you would expect from the recipe and procedure above – super bitter but has a nice malt body to back it up.  The hops leap from the glass in a pleasant piney bouquet.  The taste follows the nose – piney hops mix with a nice citrus note at first, with a hint of the malt backbone showing through.  The hops reemerge on the back end, leaving a great hop floralness long after the beer has gone.

This beer’s exactly what I wanted it to be, and fits with the name perfectly.  I look forward to sharing it and enjoying it through the hot summer months.

Double Power Hour Double IPA – The Inspiration

Double Power Hour Double IPA

A brew as intense as a back-to-back session of the shot-per-minute pastime. Boasting almost a pound of hops, the super-bitter but smartly balanced flavor will help you power through to the 120th minute.

The Inspiration
With the year 2009 coming to a close, The River Crew gathered to celebrate the end of another memorable, life-changing year by doing what we do best – drinking in excess.

We were fresh off a Thanksgiving trip to Vegas for Jake’s wedding (it was planned, I swear!) where we discussed the possibility of ringing in the New Year in a bit of a throw-back way with an old school power hour. Stew (of the Breakfast Stout fame) had recently found his power hour CD of timeless hits from when we were in middle school and high school and really wanted to take it out for a spin.

So on December 31st we settled in around Travis’s basement, jamming to tunes we’d long forgotten (some of them on purpose) and putting down a shot of beer every time a new song came on.

When we were about half way in and starting to feel good, someone channeled their inner Ernie Banks and said: “Let’s Play 2!”, meaning they wanted a second spin on the power hour roller coaster.

Most of us (or at least myself) laughed this off as some ridiculous notion, knowing we could barely accomplish such a feat in our drinking prime of college, let alone being 5 years removed. But, as we closed in on the end of the hour, the idea was again proposed, and this time was greeted with nodding heads and smiles from people clearly feeling the affects of the previous 50 minutes. Those who hesitated were threatened of being left off “The A Team”, and you know how challenges are received while under the influence. We took a 3 minute break before stumbling back to the table to give it a second go.

The results were not pretty:

Aftermath of the Double Power Hour

Aftermath of the Double Power Hour

Notice me using Stew to hold myself up.

The rest of the night was a blur. I kind of remember singing my heart out, a spontaneous dance party, missing the ball dropping, and being EXTREMELY offended at what J-Lo was wearing. When we were ready to leave, the guys tried to convince my girlfriend (who did not participate) to let me stay. Her response was: go talk to him. After a short conversation I have absolutely no recollection of, it was agreed that it was in my best interest to head home.

Stew’s Beer for Breakfast Stout

Start your day the beer lover’s way This is a dark but light-bodied brew with a nice toasty character and a sweet finish. Pairs perfectly with CoCo Puffs.

The Inspiration
Back when we were younger lads and drinking was of questionable legality, the crew engaged in the time-honored tradition of Senior Week.  Invading a friend’s beach house, we were fully prepared to take full advantage of all the perks that came with a free beach house and no parental supervision.

About mid-week, Stew decided our usual methods of drinking didn’t give him an early enough start on the day, and took matters into his own hands.  Instead of milk in his morning cereal, Stew decided to make his own breakfast of champions and use beer.  While the result won’t make the culinary hall of fame, it will go down in the book of legends.

Breakfast of Champions - It's Grrrrrrrrreeeat!

Breakfast of Champions - It's Grrrrrrrrreeeat!

The Beer
I knew I wanted to brew a stout, but I didn’t want to do just any old stout. After recalling the story above over some beers with the Crew, I knew it had to be a breakfast stout.  Plus winter was right around the corner, and a stout would be great to have on-hand.

I did some searching online and found a recipe for one on Northern Brewer.  But after reading it over, it looked like it was more of a porter than a stout, and some of the review agreed.

Looking to bump up the body and add a little more oomph to this recipe, I did what any brewer would have done – I doubled it.  I thought this would be the easiest, most effective way to pump up the OG and make this beer a Stout.

What makes a Breakfast Stout are the ingredients, and this one includes flaked oats and lactose – the sugar found only in milk, and the stuff that makes your tummy gurgle if you’re lactose intolerant.  The oatmeal’s intended to add some silkiness to the beer, and I toasted them a bit before I steeped them to give it a bit of a toasted quality.  The lactose is mainly unfermentable, meaning most of the sweetness will stay in the final product.  I’ve never brewed with either of these ingredients before, so it was going to be a learning experience.

And both show through in the final product.  It’s pretty close to the beer I wanted it to be.  Like it’s described above, it’s a dark, slightly toasty and very sweet beer.

Okay – so it’s a bit too sweet.  I may have overdone it with the 2 pounds of lactose.  But like I said, I never brewed with it before, so I definitely learned my lesson on this one.

But, people seem to like it.  I’ve had a few friends who aren’t beer people really like it.  And I had a fellow homebrew try it and say: “Well, you’ve got Guinness beat.”  Can’t beat that kind of praise.

When I brew this beer again, I’m definitely toning down the lactose.  I’ll probably half it, or maybe even less.  I might toast the oats a bit longer to get some more roasted flavor in there.  And, in probably my most ambitious move as a homebrewer, I plan on making a peanut butter version of this beer.

By in Mattie's TKO Winter Warmer 0

Mattie’s TKO Winter Warmer – The Beer

Mattie’s TKO Winter Warmer

If you antagonize this beer, it won’t hesitate to cold-cock you.  Big, malty, with a strong boozy backbone, you may only last a few rounds with this brew.

The Beer
Given the back story of this beer, it had a lot to live up to.  With winter right around the corner, I knew I wanted to do something in-season.  I just had to decide what style I wanted to do.  I’m not a big fan of overly spiced beers, so I wanted to avoid those styles.  I wasn’t set up to do a lager yet, so that was out.

While doing some searching, I found a Winter Warmer recipe on NorthernBrewer.com, and I knew I had my recipe.  I’ve only drank a few brews in this style, most notable Lancaster Brewing Company’s, and I always really enjoyed them.  It was exactly what I was looking for – a big, complex malt flavor complimented by a nice hop profile and ending with a boozy alcohol note.

And I have to say – this beer falls right in line with the style.  I’m really pleased with how it came out.  It hits you with the malt up front, but there’s some nice layers to it.  The hops kick in about mid-taste, and the boozy not takes over at the end.

The Recipe and Process
The recipe for this beer is interesting. It’s got a few ingredients I’ve never used before, and combinations I wouldn’t have thought to put together. Unfortunately, since it isn’t my recipe, I can’t post the exact specs here, but I’ll refer to the ingredients without the measurements.

The specialty grains in this beer are unique combo.  I was expecting to use Simpson Crystal and Simpson Chocolate grains for this beer.  I can definitely see Crystal, since this brew has a high OG, but the Chocolate threw me.  It added a good amount of color and complexity to this beer.

To achieve the OG mentioned above, which is 1.069, this beer has a beefy malt backbone of liquid Gold Malt Syrup.  We’re talking almost double digit poundage of the stuff.  It definitely gave the beer the rich booziness I was looking for.

And believe it or not, this recipe had the most amount of hops I’ve used.  This calls for a good amount of Willamette hops, which have a modest bittering value, but are great for aroma filled with earthy spice notes.  While it’s a lot in quantity, it’s not a lot in terms of bitterness, and the hops add a nice richness to this brew.

Although the process was pretty by the books, I was introduced to a new procedure – late malt extract additions.  This is used to combat the carmelization that can occur with liquid malt extract during a 60 minute boil.  Basically, if you put the liquid sugars in the boil for too long, they can burn to an undesirable level.  Adding the liquid malt extract later in the boil helps keep the flavors and color where they should be.

I did make my first ever yeast starter for this beer.  I probably made it a bit small with a 500ml starter for a 1.069 OG beer.  I have to say, this made a HUGE difference in the quality of the beer.  The increased number of yeast cells did their job, and I got a really clean beer in return.

Then came the real tough part with this beer – aging it.  Because of the amount of malt and the deep flavors with this beer, the recipe recommend aging the beer for a month in the secondary.  This way, all the flavors would get to know each other and blend together.  As tough as it was to leave it alone, the finish product benefited from it’s aging.

So there you have it – how a drunken knock out between friends inspired a big, boozy winter brew.  I’ll be enjoying this one until the summer months and hoping it doesn’t put my lights out.

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