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Features for Distinguished Handcrafters

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Finely Handcrafted
since 1996

Volume 1, Issue 3
July 2006

In this Month's Issue:
(Quick click each link)

Setting Up A Home Brewing Party (part 1) Recipe for Cherry Wheat Ale Monthly Food Recipe


Setting Up A Home Brewing Party
(part 1)

By Frank Holes, Sr.

Making your own beer is a great hobby to share with your friends and relatives.  Regardless of whether you are a first time or an experienced brewer, combining beer, food, and snacks in the company of friends will make lasting memories.  This is the first in a series on hosting your own home-brewing evening.

One important aspect of the party is to involve everyone in the brewing process. Many people are very interested in learning about the processes of brewing.  And you can be the one to give them this awesome experience.   Many will have at least some familiarity with beer and cooking, so you can start there.  Invite your friends to participate in each step along with you as their guide. 

Start by displaying all of your equipment and ingredients near the cooking area (but not in the way of dinner!)  Have everything out so guests can touch, feel, smell, and look over each item.  Help explain what each is for and how it is used. And be ready for any questions.  Most of our guests are intrigued by the ingredients.  I invite guests to pick up and explore each ingredient, usually on a small table near the cooking surfaces, yet close enough to the brewing area so I don't have to move them when its time for the 'entertainment'. 

As dinner is prepared and served, put your brew kettle on to boil.  This will enable you to start the evening's entertainment soon after dinner is finished.   While dinner is cleaned up, invite guests to the brewing area and carefully explain the process and what you'll be doing. 

What should you have for dinner and drinks?  Obviously this is a prime time for you to showcase your homebrews.  You'll want to have some small samplers on hand throughout the evening.  Also think about dishes you can pair with your best brews.  You can find some recipes and matching beer selections on our website.  And remember, though many guests will be brave enough to try your homebrew, there will be some who will only want a taste (and some who won't want any at all).  Therefore, make sure you have other drinks available, such as beers, wines, sodas, and other soft drinks.  Keep this in mind as you plan on what wines to serve. 

Once the water is boiling, prepare your malt.  Allow guests to smell, touch, and even taste each ingredient before it is added.  Select guests to stir the wort and smell the brew.  Remember to involve your guests, as you're entertaining and educating at the same time.  Explain carefully what you're doing at each step.  Answer their questions, let them experience each facet, and above all enable them to have fun. 

I like to assign several jobs to our guests.  Each guest should take turns stirring the wort, as this is very important anyway.  This activity allows guests to smell the wort and see the brew up close.  Another job is to open each ingredient package.  One person opens the malt and stirs it in, while another opens the hops, and yet another guest opens the yeast.  Each guest is allowed to check out each ingredient, smelling, touching, (and even tasting) each. 

Hops are another important ingredient everyone has heard of and yet many have no experience in seeing.  Open the hops at the last minute and let everyone smell them.  Guests can feel the hops, rubbing them between their fingers.  This works whether you use whole hops, plugs, or pellets.  Of course, having a few whole hops available to look at will give your guests a chance to see what hop flowers look like before they're processed. 

After dinner, we start the serious brewing.  Your water should be boiling by now and your guests are fed and ready to be entertained.  As the evening passes on, make sure you have snacks or a dessert ready for during the long boil or for during the rapid cooling.  You want your guests to see the entire process, from boil to bucket. 

The next article in this series will continue the events through the evening.  You can also use some of our monthly food recipes for ideas on what to serve your guests for dinner.  

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Frank Holes, Sr. is the Vice President of Griswold Mountain Brewing Company and a distinguished crafter of homemade champagne and cordials. 


Recipe for home brewed
Cherry Wheat Ale
by Frank Holes, Sr.

Even after eleven years of home brewing, we still make our small batches just the same way we started long ago - from a kit or just like a kit.  Our cherry wheat ale was first developed back in 1998 and played with since then.  We've enjoyed experimenting with cherries in our beers, from the cherry wheat to a cherry-nut-brown, to a chocolate-cherry porter.  You can use your favorite wheat kit (German or American) with this recipe or check your beer pantry for the individual ingredients below.
Recipe for Cherry Wheat Ale

2 gallons of good water

6 lbs of Wheat Malt Syrup (a 55 wheat/45 barley mix is preferred)

2 lbs Dried Malt Extract (DME) Wheat

2 oz Liberty Hops

1 oz Irish Moss

1 package of liquid American Wheat yeast (or a packet of dry yeast if it's all you have)

2 lbs of ripe (or frozen) cherries, or a 4oz bottle of cherry flavoring, or 2 cans of cherry pie filling

Cherry Wheat Ale Recipe Directions:

In your large brew kettle, bring 2 gallons of water to a boil.  The more water available to boil at the beginning will provide you with a much lighter colored finished product.

Place the malt syrup (still in its container) in a large bowl of warm water to make it easier to work with.  

Once the kettle comes to a boil, slowly add the liquid malt syrup, stirring constantly.  Add the dry malt extract (I like to pour off a bit of the wort and whisk in the DME in a large bowl, then pour everything back in to the kettle).  

Once all the malt is stirred in, add half of the hops.  Start your timer for a 45 minute boil.  Stir often.  

With 15 minutes left in the boil, add the Irish Moss.  At 5 minutes left, add the remainder of the hops.

Once the boil time is over, remove the kettle from heat (I like to pour the wort off into another large pot I can cool in the sink - or use a wort chiller if you have one).  Reduce the temperature to around 75 degrees F.  

If you are using fresh ripe cherries, frozen cherries, or even cherry pie filling, pour this into your primary fermentor.  If you are using cherry flavoring, pour in while adding the wort.  Add in the wort, being sure to leave the bottom dregs in the pot.  Fill up to the 5 gallon line with room temperature water, being careful to stay between 68 and 76 degrees F (don't kill the yeast).  

Stir in the yeast (pop your liquid yeast several hours or even a day earlier if necessary) well, and seal the fermentor with an airlock.  Store in a room temperature place out of the way for 7-14 days.  You can re-rack into a secondary fermentor after 7 days if you wish.  

Bottle and store for three more weeks (taste and carbonation both improve in my opinion).  You can also add another 4 oz of cherry flavoring at bottling if you want a more pronounced cherry flavor.  This beer will keep in bottles for up to 4 months (but they probably will disappear well before then).  This makes 5 gallons.  

We use fresh ripe cherries picked picked off our trees during the summer, but you can use the frozen cherries, cherry flavoring, and we've even made this beer with two cans of cherry pie filling during the winter.  You'd be surprised that it does turn out well!


Recipe of the Month:

Salmon in Red Wine with Apricots

by Michael Roberts


Salmon in Red Wine with Apricots
Yield: 4 servings

Always make sure you cook with a wine you'd drink on its own.  

2 tbsp Vegetable oil
1/4 cup All-purpose flour
1 1/4 lb Salmon fillets
1 cup Dry red wine
1/2 cup Fish stock
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup Dried apricots
2 tbsp Unsalted butter
Cooking Directions:

2.  Pat the salmon dry on towels. Dust in flour, shaking off the excess. 

3.  Heat the oil in a 12-inch oven-proof skillet or roasting pan over medium heat on the stove. Add the salmon and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate and discard oil. 

4.  Add the wine and stock to the skillet and bring to a boil. Replace salmon in the skillet, add the apricots and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

5.  Place, uncovered, in the oven. Cook 7 minutes. When done, transfer skillet to the stove top and remove the fish to a carving board. 

6.  Cook the liquid in the roasting pan over high heat, stirring, until it thickens slightly. 

7.  Remove from heat and whisk in the butter. 

8.  Cut the salmon into 1/2-inch slices, arrange on a serving platter and spoon over the sauce


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