Cheers. Across the street from De Halfe Maan Brewery.


Pop Skull, Brainchild of the 3 Dogfishhead Syndicate

Following the compelling lead of such lauded dreamteam superband collaborators as  Duke Ellington, Max Roach, and Charles Mingus, Harlem Globetrotters and the Scooby Doo Gang, Hot Chip and Robert Wyatt, Huey Lewis and Gwenyth Paltrow,  to name a paltry few — Sam Caglione of Dogfishead and Nick Floyd of 3 Floyds Breweries have joined forces to produce an experimental voltron beer. Just when you and your  Dark Lord worshipping friends were deciding not to wait in line for and horde for future ebay glory and beer advocate credibility, the beer of your dreams comes true.

It’s called Popskull, and according to, it’s an “Old School, German Brown Ale with Palo Santo Wood and Botanicals. 60 barrels of Popskull will be distributed in limited release around the time of DarkLord Day 2K9.”

As well as riding the “extreme” beer craze to its Silver Surfer zenith in the sky, bound for some Galactus gobbling apocalypse, Popskull nips at the heels of Hvedegoop, 2008’s 3 Floyd collaborative wheatwine released around DarkLord Day that took took home a silver medal in 2008’s Chicago Beer Society Brewpub Shootout, and answers the prayers of beer starved geeks everywhere.

I swore I’d heard the word Popskull before, so of course, after checking my Urban Dictionary, I learned that given this beer’s pedigree, the name is what we used to call “ironic”.


Waiting in Line at Dark Lord Day '69

With Popskull’s limited release and noble parentage, it’ll inevitably be tres chic to hate on this beer as overrated, expensive, not worth waiting in line, yadda yadda, objections which will indubitably turn out to be true. Nevertheless, I for one, am way down for the hype, and am waiting with baited breath and thirsty tongue for my promotional copy in the mail. (Don’t worry, I’ll put a torrent of it on Pirate Bay.) I have to admit, one of the cooler things about our mulifangled American craft brewing culture is the open source, no rules attitude exemplified by this project. Sam Caglione,  Nick Floyd,  Obama: Yes We Can…

Those stuffy German breweries would never be a part of such an abomination. It’s been a couple thousand years and I am willing to bet my dark lord ticket it’ll be another couple thousand before Weihenstephaner and Spaten get bed together to make a baby for the beer-loving public’s voyeuristic pleasure.

Historically, brewing tends to be a tyrant’s game, each brewmaster their own little dictator, free to spit invectives at each other under their breath. Pre and post-prohibition lore is rife with tales of winner-take-all brewery wars and extinct libations we can only dream about. Fuck that. Get me a ticket to the Popskull orgy.

Of course, I’ll fuck anything aged in Palo Santo wood, so what do I know?

–This post dedicated to N. FalivenRa–

I forgot. You are fucking awesome. And foolish. You don’t need some dumbshit approximation of an equipment list, even though you’ve been to the local homebrew shop several times and returned home with the homebrewing equivalent of your dick in your hands. What you need is a goddamn recipe. And you don’t want a simple recipe that you can’t cock up. You want a recipe that will broadcast to Ninkasi, goddess of brewing, of your hairy-balled hubris. You want a recipe that will make the corseted german beer maids swoon in their pantaloons. Well, you asked for it.


“Dirt dog,

The point of my email was that I had the gear and I needed the recipe. So you go into great length explaining the necessary equipment and punt on the recipe? Fuck this, I’m making the Westvleteren 12 clone you linked to the other day.

I am a beer snob (snobs love old style, right?) and of course I want something foolproof, because I am a fool.

Recipe for the fabled Westveleteren 12

I brewed a tweaked version of this

from the unfathomably rad homebrew blog,

I didn’t have caramunich, used munich, and it turned out remarkably close to the beer advocate heralded best beer in the world. The Belgians will tell you that St. Bernadus Abt 12 is better without the hype. Try them both for yourself.


17.5 lb Dingemans Belgian Pilsner
1 lb Caramunich (belg)
.44 lb Biscuit
.31 lb Aromatic
.25 lb Special B
.19 lb Chocolate

Candi Sugar:
1 bottle of the Dark Candi Syrup (this is key, use the syrup)
.25 Amber Rock Candi

1.25 oz. Styrian Golding (60 min)
.25 oz. Styrian Goldings (15 min)
.25 oz. Haullertauer (15 min)
.25 oz. Styrian Goldings (1 min)
.25 oz. Haullertauer (1 min)

Yeast: WLP 530

D. Beaglethorpe slurps Westveleteren in Anterp

D. Beaglethorpe slurps fabled greatest beer in the world, Westveleteren TWELVE, in Antwerp

So then some dude in the comments says, can I brew this extract-steez. And then some other dude says, yeah sure 13 lbs of liquid dry Pilsen light or golden. Is this a 5 gal batch or a 6 gal batch? See what happens when you don’t put a lawnmower ale recipe on cock ale? You get some dick emailing you about how to convert a crazy all-grain clone of one of the world’s craziest beers into a ridiculous extract + specialty grain recipe.

Know that I am just fucking with you and that I dream of the day when your coast is my coast.

– N. FalivenRa, Cockale Fanboy Numero Un.”

Perfect. So here’s the deal. Multiply your base grains by 0.75 for liquid malt extract, and 0.6 for dry malt extract. This will give you the correct amount. And for the Westy clone you are brewing, you’ll need 13.125 lbs of liquid pilsen. You can steep the rest in your grain bag. Also, helpful hint. Instead of some expensive ass Amber Rock Sugar, use Turbinado or some other unrefined brown blood currency for imperialists.

Here’s a chart for converting all-grain recipes to extract, care of Mr. Ray Daniels.

Pounds of	Pounds of Extract     

Grain	 Liquid	 Dry

1.0	 0.75	 0.6

1.5	 1.13	 0.9

2.0	 1.50	 1.2

2.5	 1.88	 1.5

3.0	 2.25	 1.8

3.5	 2.63	 2.1

4.0	 3.00	 2.4

4.5	 3.38	 2.7

5.0	 3.75	 3.0

5.5	 4.13	 3.3

6.0	 4.50	 3.6

6.5	 4.88	 3.9

7.0	 5.25	 4.2

7.5	 5.63	 4.5

8.0	 6.00	 4.8

8.5	 6.38	 5.1

9.0	 6.75	 5.4

9.5	 7.13	 5.7

10.0	 7.50	 6.0

update: one thing I forgot to mention. When are converting all grain recipes to extract, you are probably using a concentrated boil and diluting it in the fermenter. If so, then kick up those hops a bit, cuz you won’t get the ibu utilization that get with a full boil.

zymurgy cover

Zymurgy, Official Magazine of the Venerable American Homebrewers Association

So you want to brew a batch of incredible beer but you don’t have much in the way of equipment or space. You want your beer to turn out tit-gushingly delicious, but you are wary of the learning curve present when engaging in this ancient craft. There are plenty of  youtube videos and forum stickies about brewing your first batch, so at the risk of reinventing the wheel, I’m just gonna drop the quick knowledge that worked for me. First, we’ll start with an extract plus grain batch. It’ll be amazing, and better than any beer you’ve ever tasted. Because you made it. 

E. Beaglethorpe Expertly Siphons the Nectar of the Gods

E. Beaglethorpe Expertly Siphons the Nectar of the Gods






Step One: Basic Equipment

Starter kits are available for a hundy bucks or so from your local homebrew shop or countless other shops online; I like Northern Brewer for their customer service and kickass forum


  1. Brew Pot 20 qt : People argue Stainless Steel vs. Aluminum ad nauseum. Suffice it to say that both work just fine, but go heavy stainless if you can.) 
  2. Large Stirring Spoon: Non-Wood, cuz you gotta be able to sanitize it. You can get your ancient oak mash paddle when you go all-grain.
  3. Fermenter: Five or Six Gallon Food Grade Bucket with lid and hole for airlock, Glass Carboy, or Better Bottle. Better Bottles are best because they won’t break and kill you. Food Grade Buckets work fine, but don’t you want to while away your hours watching your yeasties vigorously making beer? 
  4. Sanitizer: Star San or Iodophor. Star San is better, it’s no rinse, and the residal foam turns into yeast nutrient when in contact with wort. However, Iodophor is on sixty three cents per five gallons; I use both.
  5. This is Boozy.

    Hydrometers Tell You The Gravity of the Beer. Verdict: This is Boozy.

    Thermometer: I like the seven dollar cheapies from target.  You’ll want to calibrate it or make sure its accurate before you go all-grain, but for now it’s no big deal that it’s crazy accurate.

  6. Muslin bag: For steeping your grain.
  7. Big Strainer: For straining out hops when pouring into your fermenter.
  8. Big Funnel: For pouring your wort into your fermenter so it doesn’t get all over the kitchen and make your lady mad.
  9. Airlock or caboy cap: I like the carboy cap because I can stick a blow-off tube to it when I get vigorous fermentation. Blow-off tube=less mess.  
  10. Hydrometer and tube: So you can measure your original, specific, and final gravity,your abv, and make sure your beer is done fermenting.
  11. Auto-Siphon: If you are really hip, you can just go racking cane and plastic tubing. However, the fermtech auto-siphon less than ten bucks, makes life so much easier, and double as wine thiefs when sampling your beer. Need to get like five feet of tubing to go with it.
  12. Bottling Bucket with Spigot: Five gallon, plastic food grade bucket with a spigot. Some people will tell you this isn’t necessary.  I think it is.
  13. Bottle filler attachment. Little guy that will help you fill up those bottles, fits right into the spigot.
  14. A methodology: Instead of reinventing the wheel here, may I direct you to two homebrewing methodological hip priests.

Charlie Papazian, author of “The Joy of Homebrewing”, and Zymurlogical wizard and founder of the American Homebrewer’s Association. His wry Vonnegutian sense of humor and goofy mysticism have converted me and millions of others into obsessive disciples before my first batch hit the boil kettle. Also, Papa Charlie coined the phrase, RDWHHB (Relax Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew), the cure-all for all brewing anxieties.

John Palmer, author of “How to Brew”, and purveyor of cavernous alchemical geek knowledge made digestible to the wide-eyed and petrified novice. If you got some extra cash and you want to know the science behind this noble work, read and re-read his seminal work., the larges archive of homebrew knowledge on the web. They even have a social networking gig, and a wiki. Home to such beer heroes as Revvy, Edwort, Bobby_M, Biermuncher, and Orfy — masterbrewers. 

HINT FOR THE CHEAPSKATE: The bulk of Mr. Palmer’s book is available online for free here.

Beer Lore: Saison Dupont

January 23, 2009

2879340335_42f84fc095_bThe Dupont brewery, nestled in the Hamlet of Tourpes, within the french-speaking Hainaut region of Belgium, is light enough to quench a farmer’s copious thirsts, yet mightily flavorful and complex enough to put to  shame any bullshit “summer ale” put out by any hack American Brewery. Saison as a beer style is emblematic of the hardworking people of the country, and was designed by farmers for farmers to quench their thirst after sweating over cow haunches during the hot summer months.  Dupont’s classic version  epitomizes the style and is reportedly made with pilsener malt, cane sugar, and hallertau hops.  High fermentation temps of up to 90 degrees push the hard to attenuate yeast to its limit, fermenting the beer in three days and causing fruity skronk notes and a dry effervescent finish. The beer is then bottled with a different strain of yeast that gives a magnificent head out of its champagne bottle and rocket top worthy of a theatrical murder. Though, one can smell wasps of pepper, coriander, anise, or orange Peel, prominent spices that other brewers tend to add to their saison recipes, Dupont’s brewers firmly assert that all of these aromas come from their yeast, and that other brewers are just playing with themselves. Saison Dupont is widely considered to be idealized version of this hallowed beverage.

When in Belgium be  sure to check out the Dupont Brewery and Cheese Cremery, which pretty much encompasses the entire rural village surrounding it, with its statue of St. Arnold, patron saint of brewers, and small brewery cafe,  “Les Caves”, directly across the street. Les Caves is possibly the best place to drink a couple glass fulls of mindblowing Saison with the proud people who make it, salt of the earth, and get your ass kicked in bumperpool while accompanied by uproarious local laughter. 2880165222_5009859046_b

Jamil Zainasheff’s (The Thurston Moore of Homebrewing’s)  Saison Recipe:
Batch Size (Gal): 6.00 Wort Size (Gal): 6.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 11.63
Anticipated OG: 1.060 Plato: 14.82
Anticipated SRM: 4.6
Anticipated IBU: 39.8
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM
77.4 9.00 lbs. Pilsener Belgium 1.037 2
6.5 0.75 lbs. Wheat Malt Germany 1.039 2
6.5 0.75 lbs. Munich Malt Belgium 1.038 8
1.1 0.13 lbs. CaraMunich 60 France 1.034 60
8.6 1.00 lbs. Cane Sugar Generic 1.046 0


Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
1.70 oz. Hallertauer Tradition Pellet 6.00 39.8 60 min.
0.75 oz. Hallertauer Tradition Pellet 6.00 0.0 0 min.


Amount Name Type Time
1.00 Oz Irish Moss Fining 15 Min.(boil)


Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison

Mash Schedule

Mash Type: Multi Step

Acid Rest Temp : 0 Time: 0
Protein Rest Temp : 131 Time: 30
Intermediate Rest Temp : 0 Time: 0
Saccharification Rest Temp : 146 Time: 90
Mash-out Rest Temp : 170 Time: 20
Sparge Temp : 170 Time: 40

Total Mash Volume Gal: 5.40

The fabulous bottle-conditioned bounty of Belgium.

The fabulous bottle-conditioned bounty of Belgium.

Like Darwin stepping off the HMS Beagle to behold the Iguana and Komodo, a beer lover in Belgium is confronted the widest array of concentrated beer bio-diversity in the world. And I, like a schoolboy reading battered science-fiction novels under the covers with a flashlight and eager imagination, devoured Michael Jackson’s romantic tales of the arcane brewers and brasseries of Belgium. His tireless chronicles of the Belgian beer mages and their unconventional approach to beer-making, sense-of-humour, and blatant disregard for the so-called rules of brewing tradition, turned these ordinary men into the bandit folk-heroes of my amateur home-brewer dreams. If there were trading cards I would have collected them. R. Crumb, are you listening?
Brewer Puppet with Apron and Mash Paddle, Pipaix

Brewer Puppet with Apron and Mash Paddle, Pipaix

Trappist monasteries like Orval, Westmalle, and Westvleteren, pouring candied sugar syrup into Singles, Dubbels, and Trippels, weaving prayers, incantations,  into their arcane design. Bearded Lambic Blenders of  Lambeek and Beersel and their ancient art of collecting wild yeast and bacteria from the heavens, weaving their concoctions into alchemical realities called Geuzes, hitherto only known by the mad and delusional. Farmhands of Hainaut, churning cheese and mashing grain, until Sunday, when their wives go to chapel and they go to the brasserie to shoot bumper pool and drink gallons of sundappled and peppery Saison  — the list went on and on, like a league of Superheroes, each with their own super power, uniform and ethos.
Mrs. Beaglethorpe Enjoying her Frites

Mrs. Beaglethorpe Enjoying her Frites in Antwerpen

Recently, my wife and I had the great fortune to tour Belgium for a couple of weeks. After years of drinking improperly handled bottle-conditioned beers that survived their trek in questionable condition, to make their way across the Atlantic ocean. We decided to make the jump. We booked a flight, rented a car, grabbed our tattered copies Jackson’s “Great Beer Guide to Belgium,” and Tim Webb’s “Good Beer Guide to Belgium”, and with a determined and well-conditioned livers, had the time of our lives, one amazing beer at time.  And yet still, like some obsessed collector of old blues acetates, I yearned to meet the heroes behind the music. R. Crumb, I’ll say it again, are you listening?

jacksonb brewersstarmonk