Monthly Archives: April 2013

Leopold Bros: Pre-Prohibition Never Tasted So Good!

Leopold Bros Pre-Prohibition Style American Whiskey

Leopold Bros Pre-Prohibition Style American Whiskey

Not long ago, I found myself confronted with a bit of an existential issue… do I like all whiskey’s, or just Scotch whiskey? Ok, so maybe not your run of the mill existential issue, but nonetheless, I felt it challenged what I thought of myself as a drinker. Here I was after about 10 years of thinking I only liked Scotch, but here in my hand, rising to my nose were the notes of caramel, vanilla and oak. A soft inviting scent, I salivated with the thought sipping. Yet, what ho!? This was a glass of American Pre-prohibition Style whiskey! Could it be, could I actually be enjoying a glass of American Whiskey? Turns out, yes, yes I could!

Leopold Bros stands up to my palate while at the same time requiring more attention. By no means do I have a developed palate, but I’m working on it. This spirit continues to surprise me, the depth and complexity are wonderous. Each glass I have I grab something new from the experience.

As noted above, there are soft notes in the nose, oak, caramel, vanilla, and they persist to the palate as well. Quickly following is the spice of the alcohol. It is very alcohol forward, but if one sniffs at it, you get past the alcohol, and start peeling back the layers. This is a continuing love affair and as I taste more this will most certainly be updated with more thoughts and revelations.

For now however, suffice to say that I am going to continue on my quest of figuring out if I do in fact appreciate American whiskey as well as Scotch.


Beware The Ides of Bottle Conditioning!

Hop Monster

Type of Beer: IPA/IIPA

Name of Beer: Hop Monster

Grain Type:

  • 6 lbs UK Pale Malt
  • .5 lbs US Carmel 20L

Extract Type:

  • 3.3 lbs liquid malt extract
  • 1.0 lbs light dried malt extract

Bittering Hop Bill:

  • US Cascade 2.0 oz.
  • US Centennial 1.5 oz.
  • Simcoe leaf 1.0 oz.
  • US Ahtanum 0.5 oz.
  • US Citra 0.5 oz.

Finishing Hop Bill:

  • US Citra 0.5 oz.
  • US Ahtanum 0.5 oz.
  • US Centennial 0.5 oz.


  • Two packages of Wyeast 1272 – American Ale (smack pack liquid yeast)

Process Followed:

I started on 3/3/2013 with a recipe from Brew and Grow in Chicago modified from their Hop Lobster stock recipe. I mashed grain at about 150° F for 60 minutes in about 2 gallons; then sparged with about 3 gallons of water at 170°. At the end of the mash and sparge I had about 4 gallons of wort. I added to my brew kettle and had about 3 inches of room left at the top, so just barely made it! Added back to heat and dissolved the dry and liquid malt extract and brought to a boil. The boil was actually hard to achieve as the volume was so large, after about 40 minutes on the heat I just started adding the hops and shortly after it boiled.


I put all hops into hop/muslin bags for a 60 minute boil in the following order

  1. 1.0 oz. Cascade for 60 minutes
  2. 0.5 oz. each of Centennial, Cascade, and Simcoe leaf for 30 minutes
  3. 0.5 oz. each of Centennial and Ahtanum for 15 minutes
  4. 0.5 oz. each of Cascade, Simcoe leaf, Centennial, and Citra at flame off


Wort chilling didn’t go great as I had forgotten to buy ice, so I had to use what ice there was in the freezer and extra cold water. Of course, then it took about 30-40 minutes to get the wort down to the right temperature. I finally got it down to the pitching temperature but tasted it and tested for O.G. prior to pitching. The pre-pitched wort was VERY sweet, but still had a decent amount of bitterness and hop aroma. I was worried about the yeast, as the night before (when I bought the ingredients) I forgot and left the yeast out of the fridge overnight… After smacking the yeast though, both pouches puffed up really nice and big, so I wasn’t too worried that there was damage to the yeast cells. Original Gravity was 1.113 (temperature corrected), which I think is astronomical, at least, I’ve never brewed something with that much sugar pre-fermentation!

Best part of brew day, the reward of sweet sweet pre-beer!

Best part of brew day, the reward of sweet sweet pre-beer!

The wort sat in the primary fermenter for 7 days, and I forgot to get a specific gravity reading at the time of transfer to the carboy. After moving the beer to the secondary fermenter, I added the dry hops. I used 0.5 oz. of each of the following:

  • Citra
  • Ahtanum
  • Centennial

I used a muslin bag with a knot at the top, but dropped the whole thing, including the tail of the muslin bag, into the carboy. This turned out not to be a great idea. The hops were to sit in the secondary for one week, but I let them sit for 10 days. At that time, I am used to bottling, but the recipe called for an additional 2 weeks of aging. So I had the problem of getting the hop bag out of the carboy. I settled on using a coat hanger. I am sure there was a collective gasp there, but I did clean and sterilize the coat hanger. It wasn’t ideal, but I needed to get the hops out of there.


After the additional two weeks of aging, I then bottled on 4/1/2013. The finished gravity was 1.014, which translates to about a 13% ABV which I don’t believe. So somewhere I must have messed up the reading. Maybe I corrected for the wrong temperature pre-pitching.

Tasting Notes:

10 days of bottle conditioning (4/13/2013):
Complete lack of carbonation. VERY alcoholy, I can’t tell if the yeast has autolyzed, or if it just isn’t ready yet. I was quite disappointed and I think that the yeast sitting out may have had an impact after all, or maybe the coat hanger… Not very pleasant to drink, very sweet, and only a bit bitter. With the amount of hops added during the boil, and the dry hopping, I would expect a least a bit of floral nose, but I couldn’t detect one, if it was even present.

15 days of bottle conditioning (4/17/2013):
Still a complete lack of carbonation, despite the hiss when opened (same as at 10 days). The alcohol, while still forefront is mellower. There is more bitterness this time so it’s helping to balance out the sweet maltiness. I was concerned about what to do about this batch, so I looked online and found this forum post. The suggestion is that for high ABV beers it will take upwards of three weeks (could be 6-8) for a “big” beer to be carbonated. This gives me hope as I am sincerely hoping this batch didn’t go up in… bubbles?

22 days of bottle conditioning (4/25/2013):
After vigorous pour, there showed a ton of head generation, which wasn’t present at all previously. The head was retained for about five minutes. I don’t notice any residual carbonation, but there is that telltale acidic bite of carbonation. It still is very alcohol forward, but still mellowing. I’m not picking up much hop aroma/bitterness, but that could just be because this bottle was pulled out of the fridge. As I keep drinking, I can tell that the carbonation wasn’t really retained, so I think I would still call this young, but it is changing. I have to say, this so far has been the MOST interesting beer. I have never alternately loved and hated a beer as much as this one. After letting it sit out for a bit, and it does get more alcoholy.

57 days of bottle conditioning (5/30/2013):
This beer keeps me guessing that’s for sure. Almost 60 days in and still changing. This time I pulled a bottle from the case where they sit when NOT in the fridge. At popping it open there was a loud and noticeable “psssht” which was a good sign. I grabbed a brandy snifter style beer glass, gave it a vigorous pour and was presented with great head. Well as often is the case the great head didn’t last. This time though I wasn’t left with flat beer and a mirror surface, now I have about a dime’s height worth of head remaining at the edges with a skim of bubbles through the middle. The taste, oh, the taste!! I am falling in love with this beer. It still has an alcohol front nose, but not in such a distracting way. It’s still a malt heavy, but it does have some hop balance to it, the bitterness really rides the sides of my tongue with a long finish. When the head was present, the alcohol smell was masked considerably, and there were light notes of toastiness and bread, I almost want to say that there was some warm fruit in it as well, but that was fleeting, and I may be misremembering that now… I feel that this has finally become drinkable by others but me.

A Common Misconception


Joe’s On Broadway, a great hole in the wall bar that has been around for.. well, a long damn time; it also shares the distinction of being very close to my house. While frequenting Joe’s recently I decided to have another go at Anchor Steam, the progenitor of the craft brewing explosion in America. Continue reading

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