River Crew Brewing

About RCBC

By in Uncategorized, News 0

Big Changes are Brewing

Yeah, yeah. We know – it’s been forever and a day since we actually posted something on here. But we haven’t been sitting idly by; we’ve been hard at work behind the scenes, and a lot of our hard work is just about ready to be shared.

Promoted by our strong showing at Brew Riot, we embarked on an effort to develop our marketing and branding. Our main focus was getting the right look and feel established for our brand – creating something memorable that we can build on as we grow.

First up was our website. As you can see, it’s light-years ahead of our old site. We’re still getting it set up and learning it’s full functionality, but we’re really excited about all the things it can do and how it can grow with us as we move forward.

Next, and probably most importantly, was our logo. This is our first attempt at really crafting our visual identity, and we want something reflective of our brand that has a lot of staying power. The need is driven by our presence at local homebrew festivals, but this logo will go well beyond just events and turn into an anchor for everything we develop. We’re currently working with a very talented designer to get this done. A version appears at the top of the site, but stay tuned for the official unveiling of the completed logo.

Big things are on the way for The Crew. Stay tuned as we continue to build towards making the leap from homebrewery to Craft Brewery.

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 About RCBC 1

Get Crewed

The River Crew Brewing Company has a new tagline.

Get Crewed

Get Crewed is about the people you value most in your life – your crew – and the memories you create together.

These memories you make – whether they’re sentimental, monumental, inappropriate or down-right insane – will turn into stories you’ll share every time your crew gets together.

Our hand-crafted beer symbolizes what Getting Crewed is all about.

Every beer is inspired by each other and our memories together.  It’s our way of sharing our colorful experiences and personalities with you in the form of high-quality, hand-crafted beer.  We think you’ll enjoy them, and ee hope they encourage you to create stories of your own.

Now Go Out and Get Crewed.

By in About RCBC 0

Latest Picture of The River Crew

The River Crew

Of course we're at a bar

Here’s the latest picture of the crazy cast called the River Crew.  From the left it’s myself, Travis, Mattie, CB, Timmy and Mikey.  Stew and Jake are the only missing parties.

This was taken at our annual “Shit Show at the Ugly O”, which is begging to be the name for our Winter Seasonal.  Every year, we get together the night before Christmas Eve and fill our faces with big laughs and great beer.  It’s rare when the gang is in the same place at the same time, so we try to cram as much catching up, reminiscing, and drinking into 1 night as possible.  The result is the crew’s signature: an highly-entertaining shit show.

So far Timmy, Mattie and Stew have had beers created for them, with Mikey and Travis’s brews in the works, and my and Jake’s beers being formulated.  The goal is to have at least 1 beer for each person by the end of the year, plus a few for different events of occasions from our collective history.

By in About RCBC 2

Upgrading to All-Grain

Big Boy Pants

Time to graduate to Big Boy pants

That’s right – we’re officially graduating to Big Boy pants.  The River Crew Brewing Company is upgrading to All-Grain.

The pending move brings new opportunities.  Space was the main concern for not making the jump.  We’re moving to a bigger place with a more-appealing layout, paving the way for the room and the set up necessary for all-grain.

Now the fun begins – getting all new equipment, finding new recipes, and making my own recipes just like the pros do.  I’ll be updating the site as I start to put my brewery together.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and it should be a ton of fun get started on.

Up first – building my own mash tun.

By in About RCBC 2

Brewing on Hold for a Bit

Brewing's On Hold

Please hold while life intervenes..

Sometimes life interrupts the best laid fermentation schedule…or something like that.

Kim and I are moving, which means instead of creating delicious beer, I get to pack my entire life into lots of boxes, load it into a rental truck and cart it on down the road.  We’re only moving a few miles away, but, as I’m sure you’re aware, it pretty much consumes your entire life until it’s done.

Believe me, I’ve thought through every scenario where I could still brew and move at the same time, especially with the lack of brewing I’ve done lately.  However, the thought of a carboy full of freshly fermented wort riding shotgun in my car isn’t very appealing for me or the beer it’d produce.  It’s best to shut it down all together for the meantime.

But, that’s doesn’t mean I’ll have nothing to write about.  I have a healthy backlog of topics to get up here: my write up for Stew’s Beer for Breakfast Stout, new equipment purchases and procedures I’ve learned, and a few collaborations I was apart of.  So while I won’t be brewing up anything new, I’ll have plenty to talk about.  Be sure to keep an eye out for updates!

The Kegerator Project

From boring to beautiful in just 3 taps

From boring to beautiful in just 3 taps

Since right around the time this crazy brewery idea started materializing out of the wort, I wanted to build a kegerator.  My buddies and I talked about it a lot.  They ended up buying single tap systems, but I knew I wanted something custom – something I could put together and really make mine.

Then I started homebrewing, and seriously, how cool would it be to have your own beer on tap?  I could have a system that I built with my beer flowing from it.  It’d be like having my own brewpub at home, and another step towards legitimizing the River Crew Brewing Company.

So follow me as I take you through one hop-head’s journey on taking another step towards his dream by building a kegerator.

Planning for Greatness
My first step in building a kegerator was to figure out my ideal configuration.  Kegerator or keezer (freezer instead of fridge)?  How many taps?  Just homebrew or commercial as well?

After months of research, debates and sitting-on-pins excitement, I decided on a 3 tap kegerator, all 3 lines for homebrew, and one line where I could attach a commercial coupler.

There are a few reasons I wanted to go this route.  I didn’t have the space for a chest freezer in my apartment, so I went with a fridge.  Three lines would give me a variety of beer on tap.  The 3 lines also encouraged me to get a lot of brewing experience under my belt.  And the one commercial line gave me a place to put a beer I like on tap, and allowed me to put a crowd-pleaser on if we were having people over who weren’t beer fans (and gave me ways to convert them).

The Purchases

Future Beauty

Future Beauty

To build my mini-brewpub to-be, I need a few things.  First off – a fridge.  I scoured Craigslist to find the right fridge, and saw a few, but none of them were my ideal set up.  As luck would have it, I found just what I was looking for at a yard sale around the corner.  One awkward walk down the street with this thing on a handtruck later, I was halfway done with my equipment recon mission.

Next, I needed a conversion kit.  I found that most places only really offered a 2 tap system at most, and it was expensive on top of it.  I compared a few kits, and decided the 3 Tap Door Mount Homebrew system from LearnToBrew.com was the best fit for me.

The 3 Tap Door Mount System from LearnToBrew.com

The 3 Tap Door Mount System from LearnToBrew.com

It came with the faucets included, and the kit came pre-assembled.  They also offered a Sankey D Coupler with threaded fittings already attached so I could move a line from homebrew to commercial with ease.

It was a happy day in my apartment when the kit arrived.

The Assembly
Finally, construction day came!  Before I got started, I assembled a few necessary tools:

The hardware and tools

The hardware and tools

  • Drill
  • 1″ Bi-Metal Hole Saw bit from Home Depot
  • A drill bit set, most importantly a 1/4″ bit
  • An adjustable wrench that can accommodate up to a 1″ hexagonal bit
  • Masking tape
  • A few smaller screws to hold the gas manifold in place
  • The 3 Tap Kit
  • Tape Measure
  • An assistant

Step 1
I cleaned the heck outta the fridge. It was in pretty good shape to begin with, but I wanted to be sure it was pristine.

Step 2

Measure Twice. Drill Once.

Measure Twice. Drill Once.

With the fridge in place, I took the masking tape and made a straight line on the front of the fridge at the lever I wanted the taps to be.  I really wanted to be sure everything was level and looked great.  After measuring, I put a dot on the tape with a marker where I wanted the faucets to be, ensuring they were evenly spaces.

Step 3
Drill baby drill!  On the dots I drew, I started drilling with the smallest drill bit I have, making sure I made the first hole level. It took a little while and decent amount of re-centering to punch the initial hole in the steel.  Once I had the initial hole, I used increasingly larger bits, usually jumping 2 sizes at a time, to increase the hole size until I got to the 1/4″ bit.  Every now and then the bit would get stuck in the steel, so I backed it out and started the bit spinning before I put it back to the fridge to try and power through.

My assistant for the day

My assistant for the day

When it was time to use the 1/4″ bit, I attached it to the center of the 1″ hole saw bit.  There’s a spot for it in the middle of the bit, with and adjustable tightener at the bottom.  The 1/4″ bit stuck out about 1/4″ from the hole saw, leading the way for it, and creating an anchor for the hole saw to grab hold of the steel.

This is when the sparks fly…literally.  Cutting through steel is tough, let alone a 1″ hole.  It took awhile for the hole saw to cut into the door, and a pretty decent amount of time to get through it.  I had to lean into the drill, and even then it got stuck and I had to back it out.  It took about 15-20 minutes to get through the steel.

Once through, drilling was pretty easy.  All that was left was about 2″ of insulation and the plastic on the other side.  The hole saw bit filled with insulation once or twice, but other than that, it was smooth sailing.  As I neared the plastic inside of the door, I slowed the drill to make sure I cut through carefully.  Plastic can splinter when you drill it, so taking this part carefully is really important.

One down, 2 to go

One down, 2 to go

Once I had 1 down, the next 2 were pretty easy.  The only road bump I hit was the center faucet.  Behind where I marked on the door was where you’d normally keep butter and other smaller items.  And, of course, I chose to drill directly through them.  I used a small saw on my trusty pocket knife to cut out a section, and got some duct tape to help insulate the places I cut.

Step 4

Starting to take shape

Starting to take shape

Now that the heavy lifting is out of the way, now comes the time when it starts looking like a kegerator!  I unscrewed the tubing and the “door-tightening nut” from the back of the shank and faucet, loaded the rest of the equipment into the fridge, and put the shank through the newly-drilled hole in the door.  I rescrewed the “door-tightening nut” and the tubing to the back of the shank.  To make sure everything was tight and secure, I tightened the “door-tightening nut” (see why I called it that) till it was flush and beginning to press against the door. I then took a second to admire that my kegerator at least LOOKED like a kegerator.

Step 5

Sizing up the inside

Sizing up the inside

Now everything on the door’s hooked up, and I have a whole equipment in the fridge that needs my attention: the CO2 regulator, the gas manifold, the CO2 tank, both ends of the taps, and all the tubing.  To start, I attached the CO2 bottle to the regulator to get a sense of how much room it will take up, and how high the gas manifold would need to be mounted.

Again with the measure twice, cut once

Again with the measure twice, cut once

From there, I positioned the gas manifold on the back wall of the fridge where the CO2 regulator and tank would comfortably allow it.  I held it there with one hand and put marks on the back wall through the screw mounts on the manifold where I wanted the screws to go.  I put the manifold down and drilled out holes just smaller than the screws I had to anchor it to the fridge.  At least I thought they were just smaller.  Turns out the holes I drilled were a little larger than the screws, but they still held the manifold comfortably in place.  Nothing a little superglue couldn’t fix.

Here, I took a step back and was very proud.  It looked like a kegerator!  Now to see if it works…

Testing The System
It took me a week or 2 to do this part.  I stopped by Maltose, my local homebrew store, and got my 5lb CO2 cylinder filled.  I hooked it up to the system and made sure all the valves to the lines were open.

Now, here’s the nerve-wracking moment of the night – opening up the CO2 tank and seeing if there were any leaks.  I turned open the CO2, and set the regulator to about 20 PSI – enough that if there were a leak, I’d hear it.  I listened closely to all the connections, and luckily I heard no leaks!

Being as neurotic as I am, I put some dish soap into a spray bottle, and filled it up with water to give me some nice soapy water.  I got into full sniper mode (minus the ghillie suit), sprayed water on all the connections, and looked for any bubbling that would indicate a leak.  I saw no bubbles.  Not being convinced, I continued to soak the connections, just to be sure.  After using about half the bottle, I could finally put to rest any concerns about leaks in my system.  Woohoo!  I turned off the CO2 and released the pressure from the lines.

Cleaning/Sanitizing The System
I waited till my Flying Dog Doggie Style Pale Ale clone (which turned out to be Bad Dog) was ready to be kegged to do this.  I figured – why not kill 2 birds with 1 stone and clean/sanitize the keg while cleaning/sanitizing the system.

Fill 'er up...with OxiClean

Fill 'er up...with OxiClean

When my fateful first kegging day finally rolled around, I first removed the lid and all the stems from the corny keg.  I poured a full 1/2 cup’s worth of OxiClean Free into the keg, and filled it with hot water, while I soaked the parts I removed in a small bowl with some OxiClean Free. After hand-washing the small parts and rinsing, I put them back on the keg, which is still full of the OxiClean mixture, and made sure they were tight.

I carried the keg to the kegerator.  And, I have to say, I definitely felt like a bar owner moving a keg around.  I set my system to about 30 PSI to make sure I got a lot of cleaner moving through quick.  I hooked up my keg to the first line, let it pressurize for about a minute, and gave the tap handle it’s first ever tug.

Holy Crap!  This actually works!  OxiClean-filled water came rushing through the line and out the tap.  I did a little dance of joy as I filled up a 32 ounce mug of cleaner.  Who would have thought I’d get so excited over OxiClean!

After 2 full mugs, I moved the keg to the next 2 lines and repeated the same procedure.  And yes, my beer dance of joy was repeated 2 more times.

I followed pretty much the same procedure for sanitizing the lines as well – mixing up a 5 gallon batch of sanitizing solution inside the keg, then running it through the lines at 30 PSI.  Sadly, the dance of joy was not repeated.  Guess I like OxiClean better than sanitizer.

Kegging and Tapping The First Brew
I outlined the full kegging of my first beer in a previous post.  To summarize: it’s glorious!  It’s basically racking your beer into a bottling bucket (minus the carbonating sugars), and that’s it.  No rinsing, cleaning and sanitizing 48 bottles.  No bottling wands or stuck beer buttons.  No capping like a madman.  Kegging. Is. Awesome.

This being the first brew I kegged, I wasn’t exactly sure how to carbonate it.  Do I force carbonate it – cranking the PSI to 30, forcing the CO2 in, and having my beer ready to drink in a day?  Do I set-it-and-forget-it for about 2 weeks at 12 PSI?  Do I use carbonating sugar? After consulting with homebrew guru Joe Postma, I decided on the second option – setting it at 12 PSI and letting it slowly carbonate over 2 weeks.  To make sure I had the right serving temperature, I stuck a glass of water with my thermometer in it in the kegerator overnight, and adjusted the temperature till I got to 38 degrees – the optimum serving temperature.

All hooked up and ready to flow

All hooked up and ready to flow

I again did the wannabe-bar-owner waddle with the full keg to the kegerator.  I load it in, attached the lines, opened the CO2 tank, and set the lines to about 12 PSI.  I heard the CO2 rushing into the keg, and did my happy dance all over again.

Now, the moment of truth.  I gave the tap handle its second-ever tug and…….YES! IT WORKS! IT WORKS! IT WORKS!  Happy dance indeed!

My beer came slowly pouring out of the faucet.  At first it was a mixture of sanitizer and beer, change quickly to just pure, pure beer.  I filled 2 pint glasses and discarded them to be sure I didn’t drink any sanitizer.

Then, I couldn’t help myself.  I tapped my first ever homebrew.  Though it wasn’t carbonated, still filled with leftover yeast, and eventually turned out to be bad, it was the best beer I ever had.

And there it is – my little how-to on taking a step towards a dream and owning a brewpub.  It took awhile for the plan to come together (and to write this post), but damn, is it worth it.

If you’re reading this, you have a standing open invitation to come out, view my baby, and sample anything I may have on tap at the time.


A brew, a dog, and a sense of accomplishment. One step closer to the dream.

By in About RCBC 1

Aaaaand I’m Back

I’m a slacker.

Plan and simple – I’ve been slacking like crazy on this site.

It’s inexcusable that my last update was June 24th – a month and a half ago.

Well, I guess I have an excuse.  A lot’s happened in that month and a half.

My girlfriend finished school and moved out of her home state of New Jersey and up to CT with me.

We took a much-needed vacation with my family to Ocean City, NJ.

We moved and consolidated all her stuff from NJ and all my stuff in CT into a brand new place down the road in CT. (Needless to say – a headache or 2 soon followed).

We adjusted to our new life living together, setting up our new place and ironing out our routines and habits.

At work, we embarked on the second biggest pitch in the company’s 10-year history. This translated to a lot of extra hours (and dinners) at the office.

And then, because we didn’t have enough going on, we adopted a dog from the SPCA, who is currently the center of our lives and hearts.

Sooooo…you can see I didn’t have a lot of time for brewing. I made it a point to drink some great beer, but when it came to the fine art of creating the brews, there just weren’t enough hours in the day.

Now we’re getting settled into the new place, and getting a good handle on our new life together. Which can only mean one thing: time to get back to making and writing about beer!

Be sure to keep an eye on here for updates.  I have a lot of ideas and projects in mind, which will definitely give me a lot to talk about.

And if you don’t see enough updates from me, please report me to the Slacker Police.

By in About RCBC 1

The River Crew Brewing Company

Kinda random, right?  And how the heck does that tagline fit in?  Not the first thing you’d think I’d say if I told you I was naming a brewery or a beer site.  And it’s not – I had actually kicked around a couple of other names before deciding to stay true to my roots and go with this.  Like any good name, there’s a story behind it.  It’s something pretty close to my heart.  Let me take you through it.

It all started with a group of my friends – guys I’ve know since preschool mixed with some other like-minded fellas who had the misfortune of getting involved with us along the way.  We rode hung out, played sports, road big wheels, picked on each other, and all other growing up activities that bond a group together.

Towards the end of grade school and into high school, we started to hang out by a dam in the Schuylkill River (pronounced sku-kill) back in PA.  Why?  Why not.  We just wanted to chill together, and we found a spot that we all liked.  We used to build forts out of the trees and construction materials there.  As we got older, we just hung out there, smoked cigars, and had a few underage brews.

Slowly, we became known as the River Crew, and the name stuck.  It really solidified in high school, to the point we were making t-shirts and it was an honor to be “crewed.”  College came, and some went to the same school, and others went their separate ways.

Amazingly, we all kept in pretty close contact over the years, through college and beyond.  We even hosted our own little Thanksgiving dinner for a few years.  One thing is constant whenever we get together: beer.  There’s always beer around, and as we got older, the beers got more and more diverse.  One thing was for sure – we all loved trying something new, and the stranger the brew was, the better.

A little while ago, a few of us were (legally) drinking one night and a stroke of inspiration hit us: we needed to start our own brewery.  It was that night that the River Crew Brewing Company was formed, at least conceptually. We had a ton of fun coming up with some names for some beers based of friends and people we know, which is where the “inappropriate” portion of the company came into play.  There’s samples of these beers below.  We captured all this on a blog, which is the only place outside of our dreams it lived for a few years.

About  a year ago, we took another step towards to making this dream a reality when I started home brewing.  Full of enthusiasm and optimism, my first beer, a nice pale ale recipe, was a dismal failure.  It ends up I killing the yeast before I pitched it.  My second brew, an Imperial Blonde Ale from LD Carlson, turned out pretty good.  It’s got a nice, full-bodied malt flavor balanced by a good mix of hops.  My 3rd brew, a Sierra Nevada Clone, is still fermenting.  I’ll be writing about my experience with it soon.  I had a taste when I transferred it, and I think it’s going to be a good one.

I understand that if I want to be an actual brewer, I need to brew more than 3 beers and graduate from kits to my own recipes.  I definitely plan on stepping up my brewing skills soon, and plan on getting a whole lot more brews under my belt and into my belly.

So that’s it – that’s how this crazy idea got rolling.  I’d love to some day get it to the level we envision it – a rocking brewpub with great beers and great food to match.  I know this is probably a pipe-dream, but it’s a fun one to have.  And who knows, maybe I’ll get the hang of this brewing thing and we’ll actually get something going.

Here’s a list of those initial beer names we came up with on that fateful night a few years ago:

  • CB’s Cheat me Sweet Wheat – Be careful with this one as it feels like the right choice at the time, it may come back to bite you
  • M&M’s Asshole Ale – This intense hoppy flavor may bite but in the end you realize it’s harmless
  • Zennie’s Zesty Fruit Zensation – Although it’s a little fruity it’s well worth the commitment
  • Tim’s Full Mouth Stoudt – Although light on the calories it’s still a mouthful
  • Travis Rutt’s IPA – After a few you will not remember your thoughts
  • Private Stew Pilsner – We kept it light for those who still have to report back to the general
  • Mikey’s BS Bock – This potent concoction will have you talking out of your ass
  • The Rajun Cajun’s always changing Special Brew of the Month – A monthly or Bi-Monthly special blend that will only last long enough to acquire a test. As it is afraid of comment, we need to constantly change it
  • The River Crew Lager – A familiar taste; its smooth crisp and comfortable. It brings you back to the good ole’ days
  • CB’s Just The Tip Ale – Just a sip, just for a second, just to see how it feels
  • Timmy’s Inappropriate Double IPA – 11% of inappropriateness
  • Moment of Zennie Pale Ale – A little bit of Zennie in every glass
  • CB’s Writer’s Block Red Ale – One sip of this brew will give you diahrea of the mind and pen. Perfect for first dates and term papers
By in About RCBC 0

Back To Brewing

After about a 6 month hiatus, I’ve decided to get back to brewing.  Finally.  I haven’t brewed since I move to CT, and I’m really excited to get my hands suddsy from being arm-deep in beer.

I put off brewing for a couple of reasons, some of which are valid, and some of which are just me being ridiculous.  My main motivation for not brewing over the winter months was the temperature in my apartment.  I have oil heat at my place, and I’ve never had the wallet-prying pleasure of paying for lovely utility before.  That first $300 heating bill was an eye opener, and I probably over reacted to it.

To keep costs down, I kept my heat around 60 degrees for the whole winter.  Yeah, I know, I’m nuts.  I was only able to make it through thanks to a bunch of blankets and my trusty Snuggie (for real – it’s blue.)

Keeping my apartment just above ice-box level didn’t really make for ideal fermentation conditions.  I found out later there are some beer recipes where this is temperature would work, but I didn’t want to risk it.  Plus, with how unpredictable the heating bill was, I just felt it was best to take a bit of a break.

The motivation for getting back into brewing was the discovery of Brew York on Twitter.  Brew York is a collection of home brewers, beer bloggers, beer reviewers, and just plain old beer fanatics around the New York City area.  Needless to say, these were my people.  And boy, do these guys know their beer – almost to an intimidating level.  Luckily, they’re some of the most humble and supportive people I’ve ever met, and are more than willing to support a brotha in his quest to learn how to make quality beer at home.  Check them out here: http://twitter.com/Hoptopia/brewyorkers

The more I started talking about beer with them, the more the brewing itch grew.  Finally, once the weather started turning warmer, I decided it was time scratch that itch and get back to brewing.  Kim, my girlfriend who has to put up with all of this beer talk, got me a Sierra Nevada Porter clone kit for Christmas, and I brewed that up last week.

And in light of this new-found brew culture I create this website to write about my experiences with brewing, starting with the Sierra Nevada Clone I brewed last week.  I might even try my hand at writing a beer review or 2, as I’m always seeking out new and different beers while expanding my tasting palate.

So be sure to check back and hear all about my adventures in home brewing and journeys to the bottom a few bottles of crazy brews.

Welcome! You must be 21 years old to visit this site.

Please verify your age