The Fruits of Our Labor

This weekend, after 2 weeks in primary, 3 weeks in secondary and 3 weeks bottle conditioning, we cracked open our first bottles of the Joe Paterno Is Old Ale that we brewed in January.

Unfortunately, despite what felt like very admirable patience (some of it due to the fact that we didn’t have caps or priming sugar or a car to get to Brew and Grow), it still wasn’t quite ready when we poured it. There was a bit of gas escaping when we popped the top, but that was about all she wrote. It was barely carbonated at all. In another month or so, it should really be hitting its stride. This is also a beer that I’ll be interested in trying in about a year or so. I bet it will cellar really, really well.

Tasting Notes

Despite the lack of carbonation, I still really enjoyed this beer. I really like the simplicity of it. A bunch of Maris Otter, a bit of Crystal and a dash of Special B. A couple ounces of hops were added and then just the standard British Wyeast. What comes out of the bottle, though, is rich and complex. Tons of flavor and great balance between the sweetness of the malt and the heat from the alcohol (this bad boy clocked in right around 7.4%).

It did get a bit cloying as you drank through an entire glass, but I bet a bit of brightness from carbonation would really help with this. Still, overall this beer is just as good as I remembered it being when we made it 18 months ago.

One things I was a little worried about was diacetyl.  We got a bit of that buttery, slipperiness in the Two Hearted clone we made. With the high gravity of the wort and forgetting to get starter going, I was worried that might be more pronounced in the Old Ale. Luckily, I think the extra week in primary and the extended stay in secondary allowed the yeasts to clean up most of the excess diacetyl.

Coming Up

My birthday is coming up, and brewing a beer for the occasion seems like the thing to do. I think we might try mail-ordering since getting the local homebrew store is sort of a pain. For the birthday, I’m thinking a nice RyePA (unsurprising to anyone who has followed this blog). I’ve heard good things about Northern Brewer, so I think I might order the Denny’s Wry Smile Rye Kit

Since they do a flat shipping charge, we might as well do a bigger order. One thing we had talked about was brewing an imperial stout now for next winter. It will be interesting brewing a beer in Spring for the Winter, but if we actually pull it off and have the patience, it could be really, really, good. That’s a big if, considering I thought waiting 8 weeks was an eternity.

Recipe: Red’s Rye Clone

[Editor’s note: publishing a bunch of old recipes that, for one reason or another, have yet to see the light of day – t]

This beer is a modified Founder’s Red’s Rye clone.


  • 9 lbs American 2-row
  • 2 lbs Crystal 60ºL
  • .5 lbs Flaked Rye
  • 1 lb Rye Malt


  • 1 oz Cascade (3.9% AA) 60 minutes
  • 1 oz Centennial (8.3% AA) 60 minutes
  • 1 oz Amarillo (8.6% AA)  15 minutes
  • 1 oz Cascade (3.9% AA) Dry


  • Wyeast 1272 American Ale II

We mashed for a little over an hour right around 165ºF with 4 gal of water. We ran the mash through an additional times to set the grain bed then added 170ºF water to sparge until we got 6.5 gal to start the boil, and finished with about 5.25 gallons.

  • OG: 1.069
  • FG: 1.016
  • ABV: ~6.4 %