Northern Brewer: Free Big Mouth Bubbler

I just received an email from Northern Brewer with the following promotion:


It’s pretty easy to dump $125 into this hobby at a time when you are acquiring your equipment. Do yourself a favor and get a little extra bonus too. It looks like you only have until 11:59 pm CST on 3/8/2015 to make your order so don’t wait around.

While I’m a huge fan of using my SS Brewtech 7 gallon stainless steel  conical I have a pair of these that I will always keep around the brewery. The large open mouths make them incredibly easy to clean. Being made of plastic makes them light, easy to move around, and most importantly safe. Last summer I had a glass carboy crack and was left with a pretty bad cut because of it.

From here on out its stainless or plastic for me.




Stone’s Pale Ale Recipe

It looks as though after 19 years of service Stone is decommissioning their Pale Ale. Interestingly enough, a comment from a concerned fan has lead to this long time mainstay’s recipe being published for the general public to duplicate on their own.

Stone’s Pale Ale Recipe

You can read the entire story at the link above. Below you will find the recipe extracted from the article for your viewing.

Stone Pale Ale

Yield: 5 Gallons (about 54 12-ounce bottles or 30 22-ounce bottles)

  • 10 pounds plus 7 ounces crushed North American two-row pale malt
  • 1 pound plus 4.2 ounces crushed 60L crystal malt
  • 4.8 ounces crushed 75L crystal malt
  • About 9 gallons water
  • 0.44 ounce Columbus hops (12.9% alpha acid)
  • ½ tsp Irish moss
  • 0.77 ounce Ahtanum hops (6.0% alpha acid)
  • 1.19 ounces Ahtanum hops (6.0% alpha acid)
  • 1 (35ml) package White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale Yeast or WLP002 English Ale Yeast
  • 1 cup plus 3 Tbsp light dried malt extract

Clean and sanitize all of your equipment.


In a 10-galloln insulated cooler, combine the crushed malts with 3 gallons plus 12 cups of 172°F water. The water should cool slightly when mixed with the grain. Hold the mash at 156°F for 20 minutes.

Add 2 gallons plus 2 cups of 184°F water. The mixture should come up to 165°F.

Lautering & Sparging

Lauter the mash. Once the liquid is lower than the level of the grain, begin to slowly sprinkle 3 gallons plus 1 cup of 168°F water over the grains to start the sparge. Continue sparging.

The Boil

Set the brew kettle of wort on top of a propane burner and add water to bring the wort level up to about 6 gallons plus 12 cups, if needed. Bring the wort to a rapid, rolling boil. As it begins to come to a boil, a layer of foam and scum may develop at the surface. Skim it off and discard. Once the wort is at a full boil, put a hops bag containing the Columbus hops in the kettle and set a timer for 90 minutes. Stir the wort frequently during the boil and be watchful to avoid boil-overs.

At 15 minutes before the end of the boil, stir in the Irish moss. At 10 minutes before the end of the boil, put a hops bag containing the 0.77 ounce of Ahtanum hops in the kettle. When the boiling time is over, turn off the heat and put a hops bag containing the remaining Ahtanum hops in the kettle. Cover the kettle and immediately begin cooling the wort as quickly as possible.

Pitching Yeast & Fermentation

Once the wort has cooled to 72°F, discard the spent hops and check the specific gravity of the wort with a hydrometer. The target starting gravity is 1.057 (14 Plato).

Transfer the wort to the primary fermentation bucket. Pitch the yeast (or prepare a yeast starter).

Allow the wort to ferment through primary and secondary fermentation at 72°F until it reaches a specific gravity of 1.014 (3.5 Plato).


When you’re ready to bottle, clean and sanitize the bottles, caps and bottling equipment. Put the dried malt extract in a medium saucepan and stir in just enough water to dissolve it. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let cool slightly. Proceed with bottling.


Stone Pale Ale (Advanced)

Yield: 5 Gallons (about 54 12-ounce bottles or 30 22-ounce bottles)

  • 87.0% crushed North American two-row pale malt
  • 10.5% crushed 60L crystal malt
  • 2.5% crushed 75L crystal malt
  • Conversion temperature 156°F
  • Mash out 165°F
  • 0.171 lb/bbl Columbus hops (12.9% alpha acid)

[90 minutes]

  • 0.30 lb/bbl Ahtanum hops (6.0% alpha acid)

[10 minutes]

  • 0.46 lb/bbl Ahtanum hops (6.0% alpha acid)

[0 minutes]

  • White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale Yeast or WLP002 English Ale Yeast
  • Pitch rate 16 to 18
  • Starting gravity 1.057 (14 Plato)
  • Final gravity 1.014 (3.5 Plato)
  • Ferment at 72°F

This is definitely something that I need to keep around just in case I get bored some day and want to make a clone of a beer that helped define a company.

Now we just need them to release the recipe for Arrogant Bastard.

Brew Day Saturday?

Right now I’m trying to decide if I want to brew again this weekend. My goal for this year is to brew at least once a month. My February batch was technically in March, but it was close enough.

A driving factor to brew this soon again is that I have a bunch of coconuts and key limes sitting around the house that are going to start going bad. I guess I could freeze them and use them at a later date, but with spring and summer right around the corner I want to begin to bolster my selection of lighter summer beers.

Right now the brew from last weekend is hanging out in my conical and will be there for another two weeks. If I want to brew this weekend it’s going to have to go into one of my carboys, which isn’t a huge deal.

My real dilemma is that I just have too much beer around. Most people would probably think that’s a good problem to have. I disagree. Since last fall I’ve consistently had all 6 of my tap handles full. With the second batch of cider and my brew of the Debbie Does Amarillo Dirty Blonde Ale I filled up the kegerator as well. At this rate I’m going to run out of empty kegs as well.

I’ve got 99 problems and a beer shortage ain’t one…

Batch Brewing Company

A small, unassuming building just a couple blocks away from the site of a storied baseball stadium in Cork Town is home to what could very well be one of the best new breweries in the Metro Detroit area. That brewery is Batch Brewing Company.

Batch Brewing Company is the culmination of a successful Indiegogo crowd funding campaign and a small business start up grant.

We had the pleasure of making a visit to Batch this past weekend and I have to say I was truly impressed.

As soon as you pull into the parking lot you can tell that this is an establishment in it’s infancy. There was a temporary stairway and ramp set up and one of the owners was hand writing the hours on the on the glass door. This kind of stuff is to be expected considering they had only been open a couple weeks.

However, once you stepped inside it was everything you would expect from a full fledged brew pub. From the bar and tables made of reclaimed bowling alleys to the wide open view of all the brew equipment this place just hit it spot on. Instead of hiding away the kettles and fermenters they have brought them front and center and created an environment that makes you feel as though you are part of the brewing process.

We were lucky enough to show up right as they opened and beat the rush by a few minutes. When I say rush I really mean rush. Within a half hour of opening the entire place was packed, it was standing room only, and there was a line 15 people deep to order. Getting there before all of that happened was really good because we were able to talk to the owners for a few minutes about their experience and some of the headaches that they have had to deal with. I have to say you can’t ask for a more personable group of guys.

By now though you are probably wondering about the beer. The beer was so-so. No, just kidding, the beer was really good too. After sampling a few of the various styles they had on tap you would have a hard time believing that this was a place that had only been open for a couple weeks. You can see what they have currently on tap here. I had a pint of their Midnight Marauder, a black IPA. I was told their Wheated Kolsch is going to be one of the mainstays, but it was still in the fermenter when we were there. At the time of posting this though it looks as though they may have put it on tap now.

One of the questions I had as we were sitting there sipping on our beer was what their “Feel good tap” was about. Stephen, one of the owners, explained that its a rotating tap that will be associated with a charity. Two dollars for each pint sold of that beer will go to the charity. This is a novel idea and an cool way that they are giving back to the community that supports them. Bravo!

Something that a lot of small start ups seem to be passing on these days is food. While I’m not very familiar with the area, Batch may not have a lot of carry out or deliver options near by. This could be a good thing though because they have their own chef and he makes some good stuff. Just like with the beers you can see the current menu online here. Beyond what you see on the menu they have a rotating selection of pasty’s.

Being vegetarians we had the veggie pasty’s and an order of pretzels. The pretzels were unique. They weren’t like your typical dark brown, fluffy soft pretzel. Instead they were a little flatter, more dense, almost like a pizza crust. They were different, but good. The veggie pasty’s though were the true stand outs. A lot of people in southeast Michigan probably don’t even know what a pasty is. A pasty is a baked pastry that is typically filled with meat and veggies. They are quite common in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula where Cornish immigrant miners made them. It was great and I hope it’s something they keep on their menu for the weirdos like us.

I really wish I had some pictures to share of the brew pub. It really is a cool place and I can’t wait to go back again. I think it will become a regular stop for us when we are down in that area. If you get a chance check them out.

The Dry Tortugas

As I sit here and watch the snow fall outside my office window I can’t help but reminisce about how much better the view out this window was.


That was the view arriving to the docks at the Dry Tortugas National Park. The Dry Tortugas National Park is a civil war era fort located 70 miles off the tip of the Florida Keys.

When we decided we were going to go to Florida for vacation this year we knew we wanted to do something that not everyone does. Everyone goes to the theme parks, everyone goes to Key West, but not everyone spends a day out in the incredible blue waters of the Gulf Of Mexico.

The only way to get there is a two and a half hour boat ride or a short flight by seaplane. We chose the first option, riding out on the 110′ Yankee Freedom III catamaran.

We booked our tour a couple months in advance, hoping that the weather would cooperate with us. Even though the rest of the vacation was pretty cool our days in Key West and at the Dry Tortugas were amazing.

Even after making it all the way out to the island you still need to cross a moat to get into the fort.


This was the building where they stored the gun powder for the massive cannons. Also in the foreground you can see the ruins of the the barracks.


An old supply cart down a long hallway inside the walls of the fort.


The odd shaped sloped roof building was the shot furnace.


One of the 15 inch, yes 15 inch, cannons mounted on top of the fort walls. These cannons could throw 400lb shots over 3 miles.


A room with a view. Slightly smaller cannons would have been positioned here to ward off enemy ships.


Looking out one of the windows over the moat and the Gulf of Mexico.


The stunning view of coral reefs as you emerge from the top of the fort wall.


One of the swimming beaches outside of the fort. The water was teaming with sea life and prime for snorkeling.


The old light house still stands tall atop the fort walls.


And finally a couple panoramic shots from the top of the fort.




Just like the rest of the vacation it seemed like as soon as we had gotten there we were already on our way back home. Even though it was a bit costly I’m really glad we took the trip out there. I don’t think this is a trip that you would take every time you visit the Keys, but it is something that you should do at least once in your life.

Mike Schaffer's Home Brewing Site