Grassfed + Honey

Good start to the new year. Finally, the White House Honey Ale is done, after 4 weeks conditioning in the bottle its well-carbonated, sweet and hoppy. Couldn’t be happier with it.

WH Honey Ale

And my beef has arrived. Last year my brother (a budding butcher) got the whole family to pitch in to buy an entire grassfed, pastured steer raised in the Shenandoah Valley. It was hung to age about two weeks ago, butchered two days ago and is now in my the family freezer. A mix of sirloin, tri-tip, filet mignon, ribeye, shoulder, tongue, heart and liver, stew meat and a hamburger mix consisting of strip, flank and brisket goes to seven families, over 60+ lbs each for around $200 per family. Now that my siblings and their families are all within an hour drive of DC, I can see us doing this annually, and perhaps adding a hog to the mix.

Grassfed Beef

Home Brewing Pt. 2

Last week, my first home brew, the White House Honey Ale, came out of its three-week primary fermentation. Now, normally most home brew kits and recipes suggest a two-week primary fermentation and then a two-week secondary fermentation in another fermenter bucket. Doing some research revealed an increasingly accepted longer single-primary fermentation approach. Basically, fermenting for 3-4 weeks then going straight to bottling where the final conditioning will take place in the bottle. Apparently it leads to a clearer beer and reduces the risks of introducing oxygen into the fermentation and other contaminants that might ruin the beer. Well, being no expert, I turned to the DC Homebrewers association and indeed got the recommendation for a primary fermentation and went with it.

After painstakingly washing and sanitizing about a case’s worth of bottles, we transferred the ale to a bottling bucket. The aroma of honey and beer filled my apartment. Sampling the beer revealed a flat but sweet brew, delicious actually, but in need of carbonation. We then primed the ale with dissolved and purified brewer’s sugar and went to work bottling. The whole process took about an hour. I stored the beer in the second bathroom and around next weekend will open a bottle for the first tasting. If there isn’t enough carbonation, I will let it go another week or so before refrigeration which should be just fine because it will probably all be consumed over the holidays anyway. I’m nervous, but everything looks good so far…

White House Honey Ale Primary Fermentation







Home Brewing Pt. 1

I’ve been itching to try homebrewing beer for quite a while. I took a class at Brooklyn Kitchen a couple years ago, bought the kit but never followed-up. Recently, I was inspired by the release of the recipe for the White House Honey Brown Ale under a Freedom of Information Act. So I grabbed my brother and we messed up his kitchen in Bloomingdale last weekend.

Of course it is tradition to sample brews AS you brew. Fat Tire’s Snow Day and Heavy Seas Loose Cannon kept us properly marinated while we steeped the grains, boiled the wort, and added the first and second batch of hops. We then moved the wort to the fermenter, put the lid on and attached the airlock. And now we wait. The recipe suggests that we rack the beer for the second fermentation after 5 days, but while doing some reading on the homebrew forums I came across the notion of a “long primary.” Seems today’s homebrewers now agree that a single longer primary fermentation will yield a more clear beer with less risk of oxidation in the transfer to a second fermenter. After checking in with the guys at DC Homebrewers, I took their advice and am going to let it sit for 2 weeks before bottling and conditioning for 2 more. So I won’t have the beer in time for Thanksgiving, but definitely should have it to give as Stocking Stuffers!

White House Honey Brown Ale

White House releases homebrew recipe! Just in time for the fall. I have visions of me and my mad scientist  in his basement brewing up a batch quite soon. No doubt, expect the local DC-area brewers will have variations on tap this Autumn. Kudos to the DC Homebrewers who made the big push to get the recipe released.

White House Honey Ale


2 (3.3 lb) cans light malt extract
1 lb light dried malt extract
12 oz crushed amber crystal malt
8 oz Biscuit Malt
1 lb White House Honey
1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
1 1/2 oz Fuggles Hop pellets
2 tsp gypsum
1 pkg Windsor dry ale yeast
3/4 cup corn sugar for priming


In an 12 qt pot, steep the grains in a hop bag in 1 1/2 gallons of sterile water at 155 degrees for half an hour. Remove the grains.
Add the 2 cans of the malt extract and the dried extract and bring to a boil.
For the first flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings and 2 tsp of gypsum. Boil for 45 minutes.
For the second flavoring, add the 1/2 oz Fuggles hop pellets at the last minute of the boil.
Add the honey and boil for 5 more minutes.
Add 2 gallons chilled sterile water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons. There is no need to strain.
Pitch yeast when wort temperature is between 70-80˚. Fill airlock halfway with water.
Ferment at 68-72˚ for about seven days.
Rack to a secondary fermenter after five days and ferment for 14 more days.
To bottle, dissolve the corn sugar into 2 pints of boiling water for 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks at 75˚