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On Tap at the Farmhouse

Tap 1: Habanero Porter

Tap 2: Free

Tap 3: Free

Primary: Rye IPA

Aging: Brux Farmhouse, Barrel-Aged Golden Strong Ale

Upcoming: BBL Imperial Stout with Raspberries, dark sour, American IPA


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Tasting: Red IPA 2

This red IPA is identical to our previous attempt with one excpetion: we used rye instead of wheat as a backing grain. We were pleased with the original, wheat-inclusive batch but wanted to see what rye’s ruddy, grainy spice would contribute.

We worked through the keg with the help of a bunch of friends and, over the course of about 3 weeks, got to enjoy this beer fresh and slightly fading as we worked our way down to the dregs. The beer changed a good bit in that time, in ways both good and bad.


Tangerine, pine, and grapefruit dominate thanks to Summit, Chinook, and Centennial hops, but there’s a pleasant, bready maltiness behind it. I want little or no specialty malt whatsoever in most of my IPAs, but in this case it’s deliberate, and it works for me.


Amber with ruby and caramel tones. Good carbonation and a good inch of sticky, white head thanks to all the rye. Decent lacing.


As a young beer, rye pushed prominently against the hops. In addition to leading hop flavors of tangerine and pine, rye infused the beer with a rough-hewn spiciness, something surprisingly earthy and almost husky. As a darker rye IPA, it worked, but the rye honestly felt a little too pungent to me. The pure drinkability of the wheat batch was sacrificed for rye brawn.

As it aged, though, the hops and rye struck a nice balance. That raw, young flavor subsided, leaving in its wake a moderately spicy, slightly malt-forward IPA that still packed plenty of hop wallop. A few weeks old, this beer suited me much more than it did at first tapping.


Pleasantly crisp with just enough zip from the carbonation to keep the hops prominent. Final gravity was about 1.011, so the beer is by no means insubstantial or thin, but it works over the palate quickly. As it aged, it felt a lot better going down.

Overall Impression

This batch grew into its own. It just took a little time. I do enjoy the rye addition, but I still prefer the original batch that relied on wheat. The hops simply danced a bit harder without rye as competition.


Brew Day: Habanero Chocolate Porter

When a friend gives you hot peppers, you throw them into a hot kettle.

At our last homebrew club meeting, one of our members showed up with a big pile of habanero peppers from her and her husband’s garden. Lara and I had already planned to make a pepper-infused porter for the upcoming Homebrew for Hunger, so this was a true stroke of good timing.

This is actually our first pepper beer of any kind. I’ve had several good ones (Birdsong’s jalapeno pale ale comes to mind as does Hot Pistol stout from our buddies Glenn and Dave) but hadn’t felt compelled to try one until Lara suggested it recently.

There are a couple ways to prepare hot peppers for brewing: (1) simply open them up so you can seed and slice before adding them to the boil and (2) infuse a neutral spirit with the peppers and add the infused spirit to the fermentor, keg, or bottle.

We opted for the first choice this time. I removed the vast majority of seeds and gave them a rough, ½-inch chop before adding them to the last 5 minutes of the boil. The benefit here is speed and ease because preparing the peppers took very little time. The downside, though, is that you don’t really know just how hot the peppers are. They naturally vary from pepper to pepper, and habaneros range from 150,000 to 300,000 on the Scoville scale. That means one pepper can be intense but citrusy and pleasant, and another can lay you out for the day.

That’s where the second option is superior. By making an infused liquor, you can control the heat addition to the beer more precisely. You chop the peppers and remove as many seeds as you prefer, then top the peppers with enough vodka to cover them. After a week, you have an infusion that you can taste test at different volumes in a sample of the beer.

Because I chose to chop them and put them directly into the end of the boil, we won’t know until we check gravity and taste toward the end of primary exactly where this porter stands. We have a few more peppers that we can use during secondary if the heat level is too low, and we can only hope the beer isn’t already a capsaicin blowout.

Another thing I’ve read is that hot peppers can infuse bitterness if boiled for too long, so it’s best if they’re added within the last few minutes of the boil, if not simply at flameout and/or in secondary fermentation.

The base beer is our robust chocolate porter, last brewed for our 2013 Oktoberfest party.

Target Numbers
Batch: 6.0 gallons
Grains: 12.65 lb.
SRM: 23
IBU: 35.5
OG: 1.054
FG: 1.013
ABV: 5.3%

Grain Bill
9.10 lb. Maris Otter
1.20 lb. Caramunich II
0.90 lb. Flaked oats
0.58 lb. Crystal 60
0.58 lb. Chocolate malt
0.29 lb. Roasted barley

2.70 oz. Willamette (5.5% AA)
0.40 oz. Centennial (9.9% AA)

Wyeast 1275 (Thames Valley Ale)

12.5 gallons RO water and Durham well water (50% RO/50% Durham)

7 habanero peppers (5 chopped and seeded, 2 remaining for secondary fermentation)
0.5 lb. Videri cocoa nibs
0.5 lb. 1 Whirlfloc tablet

0.5 tsp. yeast nutrient
0.5 tsp. gypsum

Mash (60 minutes)
Saccharification: 155°F
Mash Out: 169°F
Fly Sparge: 169°F

Boil (60 minutes)
60: 2.20 oz. Willamette
20: 0.50 lb. cocoa nibs
05: 0.50 oz. Willamette, 0.40 oz. Centennial, 5 habanero peppers

Pitch: 69°F
Primary: 70°F
Secondary: 70°F

Once we taste the fermented beer, we’ll make a decision about adding the remaining peppers to secondary fermentation. An update will follow in a couple weeks.


Brew Day: Tropical DIPA

This is one way to burn through a freezer full of Citra and Mosaic. I’d been meaning to brew an imperial IPA for a while. We’d cranked through several versions of our base IPA and a new red IPA this summer and figured it was time for something a bit brawnier.

This being a bit of a freezer clear, we opted for Centennial for a small bittering charge over my original choice, Bravo, and we leaned heavier on Mosaic because we didn’t have any Jade or Galaxy on hand. While not technically a “hop burst” beer, we did pull most of our IBUs from big hop additions toward the end of the boil.

Grain-wise, this is a typical IPA for us: almost entirely two-row pale, a touch of wheat, and just a pinch of crystal malt. We added half a pound of candi sugar during the boil to boost the alcohol and dry out the body.

Fermentation took off quickly and vigorously. We pitched the yeast cake from our latest red IPA into the wort, and the cells were healthy and hungry. The blowoff tube was making a mess within 24 hours of pitching.

The tropical DIPA is right in the middle of our fermentation shower, causing all sorts of trouble and spilloverWe plan to serve this beer next month at Homebrew for Hunger, a great charity homebrew event in Carrboro. Head here for details and tickets. In the meantime, I’d better start brewing the other four beers we’re supposed to have at the festival.

Target Numbers
Batch: 6.0 gallons
Grains: 18.75 lb.
SRM: 6.5
IBU: 65
OG: 1.083
FG: 1.012
ABV: 9.3%

Grain Bill
16.5 lb. 2-row pale
1.00 lb. Torrified wheat
0.75 lb. Crystal 40

6.20 oz. Citra (12% AA)
6.20 oz. Simcoe (13% AA)
5.20 oz. Mosaic (11.6% AA)
0.80 oz. Centennial (9.9% AA)

Wyeast 1272 (American Ale 2)

12.9 gallons RO water and Durham well water (50% RO/50% Durham)

8.0 oz. Beet sugar
1 Whirlfloc tablet
0.5 tsp. yeast nutrient
0.5 tsp. gypsum

Mash (60 minutes)
Saccharification: 151°F
Mash Out: 169°F
Fly Sparge: 169°F

Boil (60 minutes)
60: 0.80 oz. Centennial
10: 1.00 oz. Citra, 1.00 oz. Simcoe, 1.00 oz. Mosaic
05: 1.20 oz. Citra, 1.20 oz. Simcoe, 1.20 oz. Mosaic, 8.00 oz. beet sugar
00: 2.00 oz. Citra, 2.00 oz. Simcoe, 1.00 oz. Mosaic

Pitch: 70°F
Primary: 72°F
Secondary: 72°F (dry hopped with 2.00 oz. Citra, 2.00 oz. Simcoe, and 1.00 oz. Mosaic in two charges, each half of the bill and each for 5 days)


Brew Day: Red IPA 2

Behold the beautiful cold break and all its pulpy protein.

This should prove to be a vibrant beer, and it had better be because it’s destined for company. This is a tweak on our recent red IPA, brewed in July as a lark when we needed 5 gallons of wort to blend with a Flanders red ale. Imagine our surprise when the Flanders red malt bill paired magically with Chinook, Summit, and Centennial hops to create a pungent hop bomb with a satisfyingly rich and complex grist. Sometimes those larks land on your regular brewing roster.

We brewed largely the same beer as last time with one exception: we swapped the traditional wheat addition to a Flanders red for rye. We loved the original beer but wanted to see how an intense, spicy grain like rye would play in this concoction.

Target Numbers
Batch: 5.5 gallons
Grains: 12.00 lb. 
SRM: 14.5
IBU: 40
OG: 1.057
FG: 1.010
ABV: 6.0%

Grain Bill
4.00 lb. 2-row pale
4.00 lb. Vienna
2.00 lb. Munich light
0.50 lb. Caramunich
0.50 lb. Aromatic
0.50 lb. Special B
0.50 lb. Wheat

3.00 oz. Chinook (13% AA)
1.60 oz. Centennial (9% AA)
1.60 oz. Summit (17% AA)

Wyeast 1272 (American Ale 2)

12.5 gallons RO water and Durham well water (75% RO/25% Durham)

1 Whirlfloc tablet
0.5 tsp. yeast nutrient
0.5 tsp. gypsum

Mash (60 minutes)
Saccharification: 153°F
Mash Out: 169°F
Fly Sparge: 169°F

Boil (60 minutes)
30: 0.70 oz. Chinook
10: 1.00 oz. Chinook
05: 1.00 oz. Chinook, 
00: 1.00 oz. Centennial, 1.00 oz. Summit

Pitch: 67°F
Primary: 73°F
Secondary: 73°F (dry hopped with 0.60 oz. Centennial, 0.60 oz. Summit, and 0.30 oz. Chinook for 6 days)


Tasting: Red IPA

Here’s a vivid way to show the many flavors of beer you can create from a single mash.

A month ago, Lara and I brewed a young beer to blend with our homebrew club’s Flemish red ale. Rather than stop there, we brewed a double batch. We treated half as the young Flemish red and half as this brassy, resinous red IPA.

Lord, what different beers we ended up with. With the red IPA, I wanted a beer heavy on resin and pungent forest floor flavors that bordered on scallions and garlic, figuring this malt bill would stand up to such a potent hop burst. More than anything, though, I just wanted to drink a lot of Chinook.

I smell all three hops: the rough spice of Chinook, the oniony bite of Summit, and the bright grapefruit of Centennial. If you like this combination, it’s a beautiful thing. There’s plenty of malt underpinning the potency, though---hints of plum and raising from Special B and bready, nutty aromatic malt.

Ruddy with a slight haze. It’s deep ruby with caramel notes. A single-finger head of white foam that sticks well to the glass.

Summit leads right now. Plenty of herbal spiciness with that expected scallion note. But just beneath that is that classic Chinook resin-and-dirt thing that I love blended with a background note of Centennial. There’s residual sweetness from the malt bill---again, raisin, bread, and maybe some toffee---but it works well with this hop combination. Yes, the malt masks some of the pure hop flavor, but that was by design here. I wonder whether these three hops in a pale, specialty malt-devoid IPA would taste like a rusty razor blade across the tongue.

Adequate carbonation. Just prickly enough to be lively without giving much of a carbonic acid bite. Plenty of body given the complexity of the malt bill, but rather than irritating me the way it would in a standard IPA, it’s rather pleasant, a fullness that complements the hops because I went into this tasting expecting a malty, spicy IPA.

Overall Impression
A pleasant success. This is just the sort of thing I want from our double brew days, when we’re brewing with a purpose and double up on the mash to see what sort of outlier we can create from the other half of the wort. There’s plenty of room for experimentation, though. I’d love a stronger hop aroma. What if we dropped Summit for Bravo? What if we dropped the Belgian-style specialty malt in favor of Caramunich, Munich, and Crystal 60? We won’t be brewing a Flanders red ale again terribly soon, so I imagine grist changes will happen next time we tackle this beer. For now, though, I’m going to drink the hell out of this keg.