Brewhouse BlogIndependent. Brewer Owned. Brewing What We Like to Drink.

Tastes Great! Less Filling! Fights Cancer! (?)

Not sure what I think of this...
University researchers developing cancer-fighting beer

A team of researchers at Rice University in Houston is working to create a beer that could fight cancer and heart disease. Taylor Stevenson, a member of the six-student research team and a junior at Rice, said the team is using genetic engineering to create a beer that includes resveratrol, the disease-fighting chemical that's been found in red wine.


Might there be some over promising here? And, even though I brew and drink beer, I also enjoy red wine. I don't need beer to solve all of my problems, there's a place for everything, no? How about a sensible diet and regular exercise?

I'm all for progress, but I'm also leery of genetic engineering and any possible unintended consequences. Or, am I just reacting like an uninformed villager ready to storm Dr. Frankenstein's lab brewery? Am I just acting like an old man shaking my fist at the clouds?

It seems that the students at Rice University are working on modifying a strain of yeast for this purpose, it would be interesting to know what strain they are working with. Different yeast strains are used for different beer styles.

Fermenting, Kegging, Bottling...

This week should see me kegging up the Bitter Wheat test batch experiment (A.K.A. "Grodziskie") as well as that first production batch of the Hellsmoke Porter. The Hellsmoke will be bottled up after some time carbonating and conditioning in the corny kegs. Commercial keg options are being explored this week, I should be finally pulling the trigger on a couple of "sixels" soon.

Next on Deck: Wheatley Hills Weizenbock

Once the big fermenter is clear of the Hellsmoke Porter, the next production batch will be the Wheatley Hills Weizenbock. I had planned to have two more large fermenters by now, so as to keep the production batches rolling along. I'll get those extra fermenters once money loosens up a bit.

A little Long Island history
The Wheatley Hills Tavern used to be on Post Avenue in Westbury, and a few businesses (and a golf club) in the Westbury area still bear the name. The original Wheatley Hills is in England (I'm not sure if the good folk there would appreciate a German-style beer bearing their town's name). There is also Wheatley Heights in Suffolk County. "Westbury" and "Salisbury" on Long Island were also named for original places in England by English settlers here in the 1600s -- after they took over western Long Island from the Dutch, who in turn muscled out the original Lenape people.

A glimpse of Wheatley Road circa 1906
The Vanderbilt Cup Race was held from 1904 to 1910, and was a pretty big deal at the time. It was the first international automobile race held in the U.S., and Vanderbilt had the Long Island Motor Parkway built partially for the race itself.

The film below is from 102 years ago, and shows a hairpin turn at Wheatley Road in Old Westbury.



For more about these early 20th Century races, check out the excellent The Vanderbilt Cup Races site.

Bitter Wheat Experiment

With last Saturday's back-to-back batches of Hellsmoke Porter fermenting away in my largest fermenter, this Saturday I brewed up a small experimental batch of a Polish / German style that appears to have otherwise become extinct - Grodziskie. Grodziskie, a smoked wheat ale, is considered to be the only beer style native to Poland, and it is named after the city where it was brewed.

When the city of Grodziskie was part of Germany, it (and the beer style) was renamed Grätzer. (My heritage is more Polish than German, so I prefer to refer to this as Grodziskie). This style is said to have been popular across much of Poland and northern Germany up to the period before the first World War.


Thought to have been born sometime in the 14th Century, the last known commercial example of this style was brewed in the 1990s, when the last brewery producing it closed.

Grodziskie is considered by some to be related to Weissbier, in that the majority of the grist is Wheat, but in the case of Grodziskie, about half of the grist mashed is first smoked over oak.

I smoked some of the wheat malt over medium-toast French oak chips. For this test batch, I used a German ale yeast, rather than a weizen yeast, and hopped with 30 IBUs of Saaz. This style is said to be bitter and of a relatively low ABV. I'm shooting for an ABV of 3.7%

While there was a surprise somewhat-unwanted guest in the brewhouse last Saturday, yesterday morning there was a most-welcomed guest: Rich Thatcher - President of the Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts, as well as the manager of Bellport Beer & Soda. Rich got to see just how small this nano-micro brewery is just before I started smoking up that wheat.

Notes from a Brew Day

Two back-to-back batches of the Hellsmoke Porter are now in the hands of the yeast, which are happily fermenting away since late Saturday. It was a long day, with some brewing time lost when I discovered a leaky connection in the conical fermenter on Saturday morning while filling it one more time with sanitizer. Finally fixed it and got back to smoking some malt for the first batch's mash.

(Unlike meat, grains do not take hours to smoke. I prefer to smoke the grains the day of the brew, they can lose some of the smoke over time.)

Are black labs a good omen?


A little more time was lost when a neighbor's dog came running into the brewhouse. I've never seen the dog (a big, friendly black lab) before, she seemed to be drawn in by the malty aroma during the mashing of the first batch. My entreaties to "go home" were unheeded, her tail kept wagging while she continued sniffing around the brewery. Fortunately, she had a tag on with her address on it. I flamed off the kettles for a bit while I walked her up the road to her home.

The brew session did not seem to suffer, as it hit my target Original Gravity of 1.067.

Buster Keaton Draws a Cold One

I'll be brewing up a big batch of the Hellsmoke Porter this Saturday.

Meanwhile, here's a vintage (circa 1959) beer commercial with Buster Keaton, drawing himself a cold one...



The William Simon Brewery was in Buffalo, New York. Sadly, it closed in the early '70s.

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