- I started brewing beer in 2014 with the Mr. Beer starter kit. This was one of the best gifts I ever received.
Over time, I began learning more about the process and gradually started to replace Mr. Beer equipment with small batch equipment to make 5 gallon batches. I’m by no means an expert, but I have gotten pretty darn good at it.
In January of 2015, I brewed my first all-grain batch. Later, I started making labels and custom bottle caps. In the summer of 2016, I entered my first competition and got fourth place in the Wheat Beer category. Not too shabby for a novice!
I learned almost everything I know from youtube, reading brewers blogs and from getting advice from friends. John Palmer’s book, “How To Brew” is my instruction manual. I’ll try to share all the tricks I’ve learned here too. Some things you just have to screw up and try to find the solution later. I hope you can find the solutions here before you make some of the mistakes I did!
Mike’s Basement Brewery is not a real company or brewery. It is seriously just me making beer in my basement. I don’t sell beer, but I give a lot of it away! For some stupid reason it’s illegal to sell beer without a license.
I hope you’ll like using my blog and you’ll give me feedback and advice and possibly share your favorite recipes!
BTW: “Stremph” is how Charles Barkley pronounces “Strength”. An old friend and neighbor used to tell me, “This drink’s got stremph!”
2017 Goals and Progress
Here’s a quick list of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. I’ll keep this list updated as I reach my goals all year long!
- COMPLETED: Grenadier English Porter with commercially-ranched yeast.
- This January I successfully ranched some irish ale yeast from 3 bottles of Bent River Brewing’s “Uncommon Stout” in making a 2-gallon batch of Grenadier English Porter. I got it to over 6% ABV. It was a tad sour, but a successful fermentation, nonetheless! I learned to use a yeast pitch rate calculator. Next time this will be fantastic.
- COMPLETED: Step mash by adding hot water at certain increments. This will take a bit of math, but I can do it.
- On February 11th, I successfully conducted a 3-step mash in making Arminius Dunkels Bock. I rested at 122F, 155F and 170F. I got this small batch to come out at 1.060 OG. It will be ready to drink in April.
- COMPLETED: Enter one or more beers in another Iowa competition.
- I entered 4 beers in the IBU’s Annual Open competition. No ribbons, but I got some decent scores.
- 2017 IBU’s Annual Open Competition Results
- COMPLETED: This spring, I WILL be growing hops in the back yard. I may even finish a planter near the fence and plant some barley. How cool would it be to malt some barley and make beer with homemade barley AND hops?
- The planter has been created. I have planted 4 rhizomes; Cascade, Hallertau, Chinook and Willamette.
- 2 plants survived in my low-light backyard. I plant actually gave me an ounce of hops that I used in Sleipnir Yule Ale. 4 more rhizomes will be planted in spring, 2018.
- COMPLETED: Graduate college by October, Magna Cum Laude. I’m at 3.98 now. No more A-‘s.
- Currently, I’m in the running for Summa Cum Laude.
- Nailed it. Graduated Summa Cum Laude, November 7th, 2017
- Perfect Gunslinger, Root-Down, Bethusela’s and SE Woodcreek. My goal here is to get Randi to like one of these.
- Showcase a beer at the Jimmy Carter Happy hour.
- CLOSE: Compete in the Iowa State fair again and get at least a third place ribbon.
- I didn’t get a third place ribbon, but one of my beers scored silver and was placed in the trophy case.
- COMPLETED: Win the Iron brewing competition at one of the IBU monthly meetings: April- IPA, May- Bocks.
- I competed in the April contest, but got few votes. These beers I’m competing against aren’t just clean and to standard, they’re unique and tasty. Instead of going for BJCP-like qualities, you have to have a great tasting, unique beer. I’ll be showcasing Arminius in May and Offa in June.
- I won the May Iron Brewer with Arminius Bock. there were no other Bocks, but it still counts.
- Enter a beer in the Sam Adams “Longshot” competition.
- Visit a brewery and obtain a yeast culture for a new brew.
- Roast or smoke my own batch of malt.
- IN PROGRESS: Learn to keg beer.
- I have a keg and a kit, I just need to learn how to use it and convert the Man Room fridge.
- I will be kegging Sleipnir Yule Ale around December 12th.
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