ProAm Collaboration with Yonkers Brewing Company

Mucking out the mash tun.

Big brewer, tiny mash tun. Doing my fair share of cleaning at Yonkers Brewing Company.

Opening a commercial brewery is the ultimate fantasy for many homebrewers.There is something incredibly thrilling (and cool) about taking a beer that you have conceptualized and crafted and bringing it over to the commercial beer world. This is a big part of the reasoning why most homebrewers jump at the opportunity to have one of their recipes scaled up and brewed on a commercial scale.

This is precisely the spot I found myself in a couple weeks ago when I had the opportunity to brew my Oast House Saison at Yonker’s Brewing Company. All of this was the result of winning the Brewer’s Choice award at the Westchester Farmhouse Ale Competition — not a bad prize!

One interesting thing I have realized over the course of this experience is how non-brewers perceive brewers and the work they do; recipe formulation is viewed as alchemy and something to protect. But I’ve always taken the mindset that recipe is fractionally important compared to the technical skills of the brewer. I think it is somewhat absurd that I have been asked multiple times if I am being monetarily compensated for this recipe being brewed at Yonkers. Honestly, the value in seeing firsthand how a commercial brewery operates is far more valuable than the recipe. The marketing and experiential value has been enormous for me — especially as I consider perhaps one day opening my own brewery.

This was my third time taking a personal homebrew recipe and scaling it up to a commercial batch. This is always a challenge as commercial brewers may not have the same stock of ingredients used in the original recipe. Being malleable is critical for a successful ProAm collaboration. Remain humble and realize that this is a profession for those you’re working with and that there are economic considerations that simply don’t exist in homebrewing. Try to stay true to your vision, but allow yourself to be creative in achieving the same end despite the means. It is important to play the role of the humble homebrewer — these types of collaborations are fun and should be positive for all parties involved. I think we achieved this on all ends of this collaboration.

If the case of my beer, I used a complex mixed-culture of saccharomyces, brettanomyces, and lactobacillus to ferment my beer. This fermentation was critical in achieving the appropriate level of acid and funk in my complete beer, but something that could not be achieved at Yonkers Brewing without running the risk of contaminating their brewery. The suggestion of their brewer was to kettle sour half of the batch and then blend it back with the other half that was cleanly fermented with saison yeast. The idea is that the kettle soured half would bring the tartness exhibited by my homebrew while keeping any souring organisms to the hot side of the brewery where contamination would not be a risk. Additionally, we tweaked the recipe slightly, adding approximately 10% corn sugar to encourage the high level of attenuation exhibited by my homebrew and attributed to the atypical fermentation.

Right now the beer is finishing fermentation and conditioning. Stay tuned. I’ll post details soon about when and where the commercial version of Oast House Saison can be enjoyed.

Brew Day Play-By-Play


Homebrew Shirt, Anyone?

Hello! This is Jessie, the homebrew wife here at The Pour Report. Nick has kindly let me take over the blog so I can introduce you to a new project of mine.

Although I do not consider myself a homebrewer per se, I do consider myself an active homebrew wife who has gained some tangential knowledge over the years and spent quite a bit of time within the homebrew community, attending various events and meeting other homebrew enthusiasts. Over the years, I have grown to love and appreciate all of the hard work and passion homebrewers put forth in their pursuits. And it was this love (and pride at being a part of this fantastic group of folks) that led me to design a couple of shirts to boldly declare my affiliation with the world of homebrew. Having fielded more inquiries than I had anticipated while wearing said shirts, I have decided to get my feet wet as HOMEBREW WIFE and sell homebrew-centric shirts that I hope you will enjoy. Realizing that it’s not always just about the homebrewer, my goal is to design shirts for the entire homebrew family. I am constantly working on new designs, but would love to hear if you have any suggestions for shirts. You can find me at

It’s been nice talking to you. Happy Brewing!


Grow Your Own – Sante Adairius Cellarman

cellarmanWhy just drink sour beer, when you can also grow up the dregs in the bottles, propagate the sour cultures, and then use them in your own beers? This is the premise of my new ‘Grow Your Own’ series. The idea is simple. I’ll be propagating the dregs from some of America’s best sour beers and then do some basic analytic and sensory analysis on the resulting starter beer. My goal is to eventually maintain a library of unique mixed cultures that have data associated with them which can aid in their selection for future beers. I have created an evaluation form for each culture that captures analytic facts such as pH and specific gravity, while also allowing space for notes and sensory data via a spidergraph chart.

Procedure for Sour Dreg Propagation

1. Spray the cap and a portion of the neck of the beer you’re culturing with isopropyl alcohol. Light it on fire and let the flame burn out.

2. Open up the beer and carefully decant into a glass. Save approximately a 1/2″ of beer in the bottom of the bottle.

3. Pour into the beer bottle approximately 200ml of sanitary 1.030 specific gravity wort. Place a sanitized stopper and airlock on the bottle.

4. Let the dregs begin fermenting at room temperature. It may take up to 3-4 days to see much activity. Let the culture do it’s thing for about 1.5 weeks.

5. Prepare 200ml of sanitary 1.060 wort in a 500ml Erlenmeyer flask. Cool and pour all contents from the bottle into the flask. I am starting with a high gravity wort at this point, as I am counting on the contents of the bottle it is combining with to dilute the sugar content. Let the culture ferment out 2 weeks.

5. Prepare 1000ml of sanitary 1.040 wort in an Erlenmeyer flask. Decant the spent beer off the culture and pour into the new starter wort. Let this ferment for a couple days at which time it is ready to be used in a beer.

Sante Adairius – Cellarman

Sensory and analytic analysis form completed for the Sante Adairius culture.

Sensory and analytic analysis form completed for the Sante Adairius culture.

To begin this project, I started with a phenomenal beer call Cellarman from Sante Adairius Rustic Ales in Capitola, California. This was one of my beer highlights of 2015 (thus far), and I’m really stoked to have their culture in my micro-library. The culture was very fresh and took off quickly. While fresh, the beer was able to develop some mild acidity, and lots of spicy and slightly funky Brett notes.

In terms of fermentation, the culture performed well:

Starting Gravity: 1.040
Terminal Gravity: 1.008
Apparent Attenuation: 80%
pH 3.78

You can read the full analytic and sensory analysis for this culture, here.

First Annual Westchester Farmhouse Ale Competition

First Annual Westchester Farmhouse Ale Competition - October 11th in Dobb's Ferry

First Annual Westchester Farmhouse Ale Competition – October 11th in Dobb’s Ferry

Update, Winner! I had a great time serving beers to the thirsty public at the festival. It was great to talk brewing, enjoy everyone’s beers, and eek out one last bit of fall weather. I also managed to take home the biggest prize, the Brewer’s Choice Award! I am collaborating with Yonkers Brewing Company to have the beer brewed commercially. It’s gonna be a blast! Stay tuned for details about where the beer will be tapped in the NYC area.


Join me on Sunday, October 11th, for the first annual Westchester Farmhouse Ale competition at Harper’s Restaurant in Dobbs Ferry. 20+ homebrewers (including myself) will be pouring ‘farmhouse’ style homebrewed beers. Thirty dollars gives you access to 5 hours of drinking, food, and live music. The grand prize winner will have their beer brewed commercially at Yonkers Brewing Company with additional winners for people’s choice, brewer’s choice, and Harper’s choice.

If you like saison, and the many creative and interesting permutations of the style, this will be a fun event to check out.

Oast House Saison

My entry for this competition is a new take on the prototypical Saison DuPont-esque saison. I’ve taken a base of pilsner malt, added a bit of rye to round the mouthfeel and accentuate the spicy phenolic yeast character, and then added some oats to give what is typically a very dry beer a soft roundness on the palate. I then took the beer and fermented it with a house-mixed culture that originally consisted of harvested Saison Dupont dregs, The Yeast Bay’s Brett Amalgamation blend, and a touch of White Labs’ Lacto Brevis.

I’ve run this culture through a number of trial fermentations and it tends to be very fruit forward with lots of melon and minimal brett funk. There is some tartness that likes to come out in low-IBU beers such as this one, but is pretty much non-existent in beers over 15 IBUs.

Post fermentation, the beer was dry-hopped with a blend of New World citrus-forward hops that play very nicely with the fermentation character and tartness in the beer. The resulting bright and juicy fruit character is amazing — a perfect blend of yeast and hops.

If you come out, please stop by and say hi. I’m very curious to hear your feedback on the beer!

Mixed-Culture Dry-Hopped Saison Recipe:

Size: 5.5 gal
Efficiency: 66%
Attenuation: 88%

Original Gravity: 1.052 (measured)
Terminal Gravity: 1.006 (measured)
Color: 4.88 SRM
Alcohol: 6% ABV (calculated)
Bitterness: 10.1 IBUs

9 lb (69.2%) Weyermann Pilsner Malt
2 lb (15.4%) Oats Flaked – added during mash
2 lb (15.4%) Rye Malt – added during mash

Mash Regiment:
147 °F – 40m
152.0 °F – 20m
158 °F – 10m

Water Treatment:
Extremely Soft NYC Water
6g Gypsum (to mash)

8 g Centennial (10.5% AA) – 90 m
1 oz Citra™ (12.5% AA) – dry hopped 3 days
1 oz Azacca (10.3% AA) – dry hopped 3 days

Kettle Additions:
0.5 ea Whirlfloc Tablets – 15 m
0.5 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – 10 m

1L House Saison Mixed Culture



Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone – 2.0

Another blog post, another Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone. The Verdict: Not Cloned.


Commercial beer on the left, homebrew on the right.

That said, we’re getting close.To start, here is the recipe that I brewed.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Cone 2.0 (Not Cloned)


Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 68%
Attenuation: 80% (measured)

Original Gravity: 1.051
Terminal Gravity: 1.010 (measured)
Color: 10.86 SRM
Alcohol: 5.4% ABV (calculated)
Bitterness: 37.7 IBU (calculated)


6.75 lb (94.7%) Briess 2-Row Brewers Malt
6 oz (5.3%) Briess Caramel 60L

Mash Regiment:

152 °F – Sacc Rest – 60min

Water Treatment:

Extremely Soft NYC Water
4g Gypsum (to mash)
2g Calcium Chloride (to mash)


9 g Magnum (12.6% AA) – 60 m
8 g Perle (8.7% AA) – 30 m
8 g Cascade (6.9% AA) – 10 m
72 g Cascade (6.9% AA) – Whirlpool 15m

Kettle Additions:

0.5 ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – 15 m
0.5 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – 10 mYeast:


WYeast 1056 American Ale™ Starter on stirplate to achieve 1 million cells per milliliter of wort per degree Plato. Use Mr. Malty to determine proper starter sized based on age of yeast package. Pitch into 60°F wort and allow to free rise to 64°F. As fermentation begins to slow, raise temperature to 70°F.

The Results

While there are some recipe changes in store for the next iteration, this beer primarily misses the mark on technical merits. Most noticeably my beer has a touch of honeyed oxidized malt character with perhaps a faint hint of diacetyl that is not present in the commercial beer.

I am typically very careful to limit O2 exposure, especially in fermented beer. In some ways, the oxidation of this beer is welcome as it is making me look critically at my process and think of ways I can limit O2 pickup. The biggest risk for oxidation in my process comes at two locations: the cold crash and packaging.

When I cold crash my beer, there is usually some suck-back of air into the fermenter due to a vacuum being pulled as the liquid’s volume decreases as it cools. I typically put a little CO2 head pressure on my beers as I cold crash in order to prevent this. With this beer, I got lazy and skipped this step. Nevermore!

The second biggest opportunity for O2 pickup is when I rack finished beer to my keg. I always purge the keg, but perhaps I am not always as careful as I should be in gently racking the beer and purging the racking cane or fermenter head space once it is opened up. In a perfect world, I would be doing a completely closed transfer — this is something I’m looking into and hope to implement in the future.

In terms of recipe, I believe the malt bill I am using is nearly perfect. There is a slight color difference between my beer and the commercial example, but I believe this has more to do with some yeast being suspended in the homebrew, and not a dramatic miss with the malt bill. I may bump up the crystal malt ever so slightly in the next round — perhaps only by a couple ounces.

The biggest recipe difference that I need to implement for the next round is in regard to flavor and aroma hops. The commercial beer has a substantial grapefruit pith and slightly spicy / herbal hop character. While this character is present in the homebrew, it is not nearly as intense. The homebrew’s bitterness level is spot on, but the aroma and flavor needs to be dramatically increased. For the next iteration of my recipe, I intend to boost the amount of late hopping at least by an order of 2 or 3 in order to get closer to the commercial beer.