New Holland at Ashleys

I rarely have reason to go out to the bar in Ann Arbor, but when I read that several New Holland beers were going to be featured at Ashley’s last night, I couldn’t help but check it out. There were about 10 beers on tap, ranging from the ordinary (Poet Stout, which you can pick up at pretty much any grocery store in the state) to the ordinary-but-on-Firkin (Dragon’s Milk), to those I’d never seen before (Charkoota Rye).

Night Tripper

New Holland Night Tripper

New Holland Night Tripper

Imperial Stout (10.8% ABV) Tastes really strong, there’s plenty of alcohol in the flavor. Really roasty with some chocolate notes. Pretty darn malty sweet (as imperial stouts, especially Russian Impoerial Stouts, often are). I would almost say it could have been fermented a little more to a lower final gravity to dry it out a bit, but it’s already bordering on liquorbeer, so upping the alcohol content is unnecessary.


Dragon’s Milk Firkin

New Holland Dragon's Milk (Firkin)

New Holland Dragon's Milk (Firkin)

As beers served on firkin always are, this was warm, and it was flat as well. After the Night Tripper, it almost tastes bland (though it’s one of my favorite beers usually). I think the Firkin really damps a bit of the aroma, partially because there’s less carbonation maybe. Hardly get anything on the nose, very light on the vanilla, a nice roasty smell. Tastes a little hot in the back of the mouth, and you definitely get the barrel-aged flavor. Not necessarily bad, but I’m used to (loving) the beer as normally served.


New Holland Envious

New Holland Envious

Not what I expected. Ingredients listed as pears and raspberries, I was expecting something relatively light in color or even a wheat, but it had a nice deep mahogany (my apartment smells of it) color. A little fruit on the nose – all pear. In the flavor, mostly pear, but I definitely see where the “slumber on oak” with raspberries comes in. Not as tart as the description led me to believe there would be. The tartness reminded me of the tang from our cherry belgian, which comes mostly on the swallow, not in the mouth.


El Mole Ocho

New Holland El Mole Ocho

New Holland El Mole Ocho

I’ve already had (and loved) this beer, so it was the only thing I had that wasn’t “special” in some way. On the nose, it has a nice malty character, almost no hops with a hint of spiciness. The flavor, however, is full of hot pepper flavor, but honestly more well-balanced with malt than I remember. It’s not blistering hot like our second pepper porter, but reminds you the heat is there, along with the pepper flavor. I really like this beer.


Charkoota Rye

New Holland Charkoota Rye

New Holland Charkoota Rye

This tastes a lot like El Mole Ocho with smoke serving as the “special flavor” instead of pepper (although they’re very different beers in reality). Aroma is a slightly malty but mostly smoky. Taste is super heavy on the smoke up front, but if you let it linger a bit, you get much more maltiness, for a nice balanced beer. A solid Kolsch with delicious smoky flavor. This was a lot like what I was hoping the BOB Brewery BBQ Beer would be at Winter Beer Festival.


Imperial Hatter

New Holland Imperial Hatter

New Holland Imperial Hatter

Classic imperial IPA (can an imperial IPA be “classic?”). Nothing really distinct from other beers in the genre. Decent nose/body balance, some graperuit citrus and a lot of bitterness in the flavor.


Of course, if I had read a little more carefully before heading out, I would have seen that many of the beers weren’t going to be tapped until later in the night, and I wouldn’t have shown up at quarter-to-6… since I closed the place down, that’s more than 8 hours in the bar. Oops. Good times were certainly had by all.


The Three Meads

3 Meads

Split into bottles and 2 buckets.

As I’ve been without a stove for a while—documented here—brew days have been few and far between (a phrase which here means “nonexistent”). However, late in the fall, we managed to get started on a mead, thanks to a friend whose father is a recreational beekeeper. After several transfers between carboys and buckets and buckets and carboys, today was bottling day.

However, we at YBD aren’t satisfied with just any old mead. Of the 5-gallon batch, I bottled about 3 gallons (carbonated with sugar tabs), then made a trip to The Produce Station to look for some adjuncts. After furiously texting Paul back-and-forth for proportions (technology!), I headed back home with two grapefruits and two kiwi.

Fruits for mead

Kiwi. Grapefruit. Mead.

I juiced half a grapefruit into a bowl, and scooped the pulp into my food processor. Then, I skinned both kiwi and chopped them up, putting the meat into the food processor as well. After giving it a few quick pulses to puree the whole thing, I put the pulp and juice into the microwave for 30 seconds to kill any bacteria. Finally, I dumped the whole thing into a bucket with half of the remaining mead (just over a gallon). Since I didn’t want to leave such a small batch, I added about a quart of distilled water to the whole she-bang.

With the remaining grapefruit, I followed a similar process: juicing and scooping the pulp. This fruit-and-a-half went into the other bucket, and again I topped it with a quart of distilled water. This left us with 3 gallons of plain mead, 1.25 gallons of grapefruit-kiwi mead, and 1.25 gallons of grapefruit mead.

Can’t wait to taste the plain mead in a couple weeks, and the fruit editions a few weeks after that.

Review: William’s Brothers Ebulum

William's Brothers Ebulum

William's Brothers Ebulum - Elderberry Black Ale

I normally shy away from fruit/berry beers. I generally find them too cloying and light on actual beer flavor. While there are a TON of examples of great fruit beers, there are certainly many that just don’t cut it.

This one avoided the filter by having its base beer be a Black Ale. Black Ales are one of my favorite styles, and I couldn’t imagine a way that the addition of a bit of berry flavor could completely dominate the roasted malt and burnt acridity that comes with a Black Ale. Here’s how William’s Brothers describe Ebulum:

Introduced to Scotland by Welsh druids in the 9th Century, elderberry black ale was part of the Celtic Autumn festivals when the “elders” would make this strong ale and pass the drink round the people of the village. The recipe was taken from a 16th Century record of domestic drinking in the Scottish Highlands. Elderberries were used for many natural remedies to cure sciatica, other forms of neuralgia, influenza and rhumatism as they contain tannins and fruit oils. Ebulum is made from roasted oats, barley and wheat boiled with herbs then fermented with ripe elderberries.

I can enjoy a bit of anthropological brewing, especially when it falls right in a style that I really enjoy.

Ebulum pours a dark brown with mocha-brown head that lasted only seconds. Fruit dominates the nose with roasted malts coming through underneath with some caramels and burnt sugar.

There is a fruit sweetness up front which is quickly covered by a deep roast malt flavor, flowing into a nice acrid bite. There’s a lingering berry flavor without any sort of cloying sweetness. Very nice. The beer is smooth without being very heavy with a nice, crisp carbonation.

Overall, a very nice beer. I’m usually not one for fruit beers, but the roasted, acrid notes work really well to cut the cloying sweetness you sometimes end up with in a fruit beer.

Recipe: BREWConn Blueberry Wheat

The first in our Michigan Football 2010 series, BREWConn is a standard summer wheat ale, with 2 quarts of blueberries (about 4 pounds) added in secondary. This was our first extract brew in a while, though it did include some specialty grains.


  • 8lb Liquid Wheat Extract
  • .5lb Flaked Wheat (steeped)
  • .5lb Flaked Oats (steeped)


  • 1/4oz Columbus pellets, added at 60 and 15.


Wyeast 1056.


The beer ended up being much darker in color than we were expecting as we took it out of primary. We bought 2 quarts of locally-grown blueberries, pureed them in a blender, and added it to our secondary fermenter before siphoning the beer into secondary.

Tasting Notes

Decent. Originally had a yeast-y taste that has gone away the longer we’ve let it age. Of course, one of the reasons we made this beer for UConn was to hope for a blue color… and we ended up with a red/maroon by the time the blueberries were pureed. That’s life, I guess.

Belgian Sour Ale, brah.

The original plan for our latest beer was to make a Kriek Lambic, but the circumstances… they didn’t work out so well. First off, I found a good deal on some sweet cherries at a farmer’s market, not the sour Kriek cherries that are intended for the style. Then, our local homebrew shop was all out of lambic yeasts (must be a popular style this time of year – who knew?). So, we’re going to end up with some hybrid style, with a belgian style and cherry adjuncts, but probably not anything like we thought we were going to get when we started.


  • 10lb Belgian Pils
  • 1.5lb Flaked Wheat
  • .5lb Caravienna

We mashed for a little over an hour at our standard temperatures (water temp around 170, about 150 by the time it actually mixes in with the grain) with about 4 gallons. We sparged with 165 degree water, with enough to get us up to 4.5ish total gallons. We let the water keep running out for extra wort, or a second running beer.



We had about 5 gallons of wort that we put into our carboy with a vial of WLP550 Belgian Ale Yeast. The extra wort (about 1 gallon) went into an Ale Pail with a bit more of the yeast  We threw  it in our brew closet for about a week and half. It developed quite a bit of trub down on the bottom. After about 10 days, we washed and microwaved or cherries to get the sterilized and tossed them into the Ale Pail. We mashed them up as best we could with our paddle, and racked the beer from the carboy to the pail. About a week later we bottled them.

Tasting Notes

The first thing we noticed when pouring this beer was a very nice, red color, even the head was a nice pinkish cream. There was a little bit of cherry in the nose with some of the ester notes you’d expect from a belgian. The taste is actually a little thin. There isn’t that much cherry flavor or belgian flavor. It is a solid tasting beer with an awesome color that finishes with a hint of the flavors we were going for. This was our first beer using fresh fruit, and, like usual, we learned some stuff. Mainly, you need to really macerate the fruit. Cherries, being a stone fruit, prevented us from using a blender or food processor, so we had to do it with a paddle. A lot of the cherries were completely whole, so didn’t contribute that much flavor to the beer.