My father-in-law passed away in 2004, and since then I wasn’t brewing much beer. In 2005 I only made three recipes – but they were all really good. The Sororal Union Ale was brewed for my sister’s wedding (hence its name – “sororal” means “sisterly”).

  • Sororal Union Ale
    OG: 1.056
    FG: 1.010
    ABV: 5.9%

    To honor my sister, Kristie, and her Halloween engagement (the day before her birthday), I cooked up a pumpkin hefeweizen. It was bottled and ready to drink by the time her wedding rolled around. I flew a case of homebrew from Atlanta to LA to give to the new couple. You’ll notice that the two dogs on the label do not have typical wedding attire – my sister’s wedding had a Pacific Ocean theme, with matching/coordinating Hawaiian fabrics on the whole wedding party. The male dog on the label has a big hoop through his nose – Cass (now my brother-in-law) was not actually wearing such jewelry at the wedding, but he was when I first met him. Finally, you’ll notice a small, white dog, sitting just to the right of the Hump’s logo – that would be Little Girl, Kristie’s and Cass’s dog, as drawn by Cass.

    On to the beer: I cleaned and then cut up a large (8 lbs.) pumpkin into eight wedges. I roasted these wedges to caramelize some of the starches in the pumpkin’s flesh. I then cubed it and added it, along with some pumpkin pie spices, to a weizen recipe. The finished product was delicious. But, disappointingly, it didn’t keep any pumpkin or pumpkin pie flavors. There were distinct flavors of banana, however, thanks to the weizen yeast and a primary fermentation that may have been a degree or two too warm…

  • Smoked Porter
    OG: 1.064
    FG: 1.012
    ABV: 6.8%

    This may possibly be the best homebrew I’ve made. A mellow combination of rich, dark malts; citrusy hop bitterness, from Cascade and Centennial hops; and a very mild smoke flavor. After it aged for a few months, it was simply divine.

  • Holiday Ale
    OG: 1.068
    FG: 1.015
    ABV: 7.0%

    This was the least spicy holiday beer I had brewed to date. I used nutmeg, coriander, and vanilla bean. The vanilla was very strong during the first few months. The beer was very candy-like overall, due to only a small amount of hops, and the strong vanilla flavor. After aging the beer for 10 months, it held up well. It tasted much more complex. The vanilla had subsided greatly. The aroma and finish tasted unusually strong with alcohol (considering it had aged for nearly a year). The aftertaste held a nice mix of all of the ingredients: vanilla, spices, hops, and honey-like malts.

    I even got some compliments on this beer from some of my coworkers (to whom I gave some away – kind of like Christmas presents).