Archive for the ‘Beer Making’ Category

Beer ‘n’ Bread at Living History Farms

March 20, 2010

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All of the photos below may be enlarged by clicking on them.  Since there are so many photos, this post might take awhile to load on your screen.

If you happen to know these guys, would you please tell them I posted this photo? I told them that I'd email, but I misplaced the email address.

On the first Saturday in March for the past three years, Katie, Joe, Bill and I have delighted in attending Living History Farms’ (Urbandale, Iowa) annual Beer ‘n’ Bread fund-raising event. Each year we sampled home brewed and microbrewed beers as well as locally baked fresh artisan breads. Represented this year at the three-year-old event were two bread vendors, six microbreweries, one macrobrewery, and the Iowa Brewers Union.

At this festive and tasteful event you won’t see any mugs filled to the brim and you won’t hear any slurred language. (At least I’ve observed neither.) What you will experience is a teasing of your taste buds and walking away with an education. (And, for anyone who doesn’t like beer, check out the Millstream Sarsaparilla.)

Upon entering the event this year, each participant received a “free” mug (included in the ticket price of $15 per person or $25 per couple). As you might have guessed, the mug was used for the sampling of as many different beers as many times as a guest wished.

Tokens for voting for favorite 1. bread 2. home brew and 3. microbrew.

With the mug were three tokens (either tiny toy horses or bees). These tokens were used for voting: one vote for the favorite bread, one vote for the favorite microbrew, and one vote for the favorite of the twelve brews of the Iowa Brewers Union.

Official voting rules posting around the corner from the South Union Bakery table.

It was tough to know which bread to vote for because there were two categories of bread vendors. One was a bakery, while the other offered packaged beer bread, dip, spread and cheese ball mixes. I went back for seconds and thirds of the Beer Bread Company’s (Sac City, Iowa) beer bread and later bought two packages of the beer bread mix in the Living History Farms’ gift shop. Although I voted for the beer bread, I’d purchase the South Union Bakery’s (Des Moines) already-baked Garlic Foccacia in a heartbeat.

Millstream's (Amana, Iowa) Windmill Wheat got my vote.

As far as the microbrews and home brews at this year’s Beer ‘n’ Bread event, my favorite overall was Millstream Brewing Company’s (Amana, Iowa) Windmill Wheat. Bill’s favorite microbrew was the Colony Oatmeal Stout from Millstream.  His favorite of the twelve home brew varieties from the Iowa Brewers Union was the Pale Ale #2 Hoppy.

The Iowa Brewers Union offers good beer and good advice. It meets the third Monday of every month at the Holiday Inn on Merle Hay in Des Moines. Meetings are open to the public. More information is available at


A partial representation of voting jars for the breads and beers at the Beer 'n' Bread event.


The Iowa Brewers Union offered 12 home brew varieties for sampling.

What we like about the event is that…well…obviously we get to sample a wide range of varieties of beer as well as mouthwatering bread. An added bonus is that while the event is never too crowded, we brush shoulders with guests and vendors who share our interests and are glad to offer advice. For example, the beer meisters from the Iowa Brewers Union (IBU) exude such enthusiasm about their beer making. I’ve tried to rewrite this next sentence about ten times and I keep coming up with…The IBU Beer ‘n’ Bread participants are like grown up little kids. They love to tinker with their beers, and they relish sharing what they’ve learned in the process. Click here for more photos…


Home Brew Bottles (What Kinds? Cleaning? Caps?)

November 25, 2009

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Last night Jim Eaton and Bill bottled the American Bock that Jim, Bill and Scott Finneseth began brewing on September 22nd.

It’s an odd concept that if one wants to bottle beer…you have to have bottles! Probably the only part of the brewing process these brewmeisters aren’t excited about is removing labels to recycle bottles.  But, many hands (and good conversation) make light work, as was the case last night.

Sam Adams bottles recycled for this batch of American Bock home brew. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Q.  What kinds of bottles do they use?

A. They used to try any bottles that weren’t of the twist-cap type. This included the longneck type of bottle as well as the shorter bottles, such as Anchor Steam.

The Anchor Steam bottles worked fine with their first batch of home brew.  However, when the Anchor Steam bottles were reused in a second batch, the tops of some of the bottles broke. Since this wasn’t the case with the longneck bottles, they now stick with the Sam Adams and other longneck non-twist-cap bottles and have had no further breakage problems.

(Once when they were really low on bottles, some were purchased from Beer Crazy in Urbandale.  Of course, that cost can add up quickly.)

(Click photo to enlarge.)Q. How do they clean the bottles?

Q.  How do they prepare the bottles for label removal?

A. They soak the bottles in a bucket for a day or so, or several hours if short on time.  The solution consists of water and the powdered form of Oxi Clean stain remover.  The labels peel off fairly easily.  A brush or sponge is used to remove any label residue.

(Click photo to enlarge.)

Q.  How do they get the caps to be tight on the bottles?

A. They use this contraption (at left) that they purchased at Beer Crazy in Urbandale.

* * * * *

S-o-m-e-t-i-m-e I plan to talk more with Mr. Spaulding and post more insight from him. Also, I want to add a few more posts to finish up about our Oregon trip.  And, of course, I want to pass along more information about Mother’s watercolors.

November 30th will be the fifth anniversary of  Mother’s passing away. The November 30th posting will be in her honor.  If you missed the open house and/or if you’d like to know more about the availability of prints of Mother’s watercolors of…an ear of corn, florals, grain elevators, a bunny, etc., click here.

Until next time, warm wishes and thanks giving for this…Thanksgiving.

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Packers, Vikings … and Beer Making

October 5, 2009

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Jim, Bill and Scott divying up the fruits of their labors.  (Click to enlarge photo.)

Jim, Bill and Scott divvying up the fruits of their labors. (Click to enlarge photo.)

Tonight while the Packers went up against the Vikings, Scott Finneseth, Jim Eaton and Bill were brew meisters once again. more…

Oregon: Day #2 — Beer in Bend, Oregon (and Perry, Iowa)

August 27, 2009
IMG_2198 S.F. bottling

Scott Finneseth capping beer. (Click to enlarge.)

To read other posts about Bill’s, Jim Eaton’s and Scott Finneseth’s beer making adventures,  click on the “beer making” category at this blog’s home page.  For background information about Bill’s and my Oregon travels in July, click on the “travel” category. more…

Bear Spit and Wild Willy’s Wheat — Part II

July 15, 2009

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(Click here if you’d like to read Part I before reading this Part II.)

The reviews from Jim and Bill of Bear Spit and Wild Willy’s Wheat are as follows: more…

Bear Spit and Wild Willy’s Wheat — Part I

July 13, 2009

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At some point I’ll post more thoroughly about home beer brewing.  Before I can do that, I need to learn more about the process.  Until that time, hopefully bits and pieces will suffice in your sharing the fun of beer making with us.

May 31, 2009.  L to R:  David Weiser, Jim Eaton and Bill Shimon transferring Bear Spit from the turkey fryer to the cargoy for fermentation.  Click photo to enlarge.

May 31, 2009. L to R: David Weiser, Jim Eaton and Bill Shimon transferring Bear Spit from the turkey fryer to the carboy for fermentation. Click photo to enlarge.

Last Wednesday evening, July 8th, Jim Eaton and Bill (and I, a little bit) sampled their first fruits of beer making.  To date Bill and Jim, with the help of Scott Finneseth and David Weiser, have begun three batches of home brew.

The first beer unveiled last Wednesday is what Bill and Jim fondly refer to as Bear Spit.  The kit for what we call Bear Spit is officially marketed as True Brew TM * “DOUBLE IPA All Malt.”  The Double IPA home brewing kit is $52.25 at Beer Crazy in Urbandale, Iowa.  The packaging says the kit should yield five gallons of beer; however, the yield at the Shimon household was a skosh more than four gallons. more…

The Art of Pumpkins, Watercolor…and Beer Making

June 19, 2009

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A watercolor of Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) I have long admired is that of — Pumpkins.  Mother painted it in 1971.  It now belongs to my four-years-older sister.  Peggy lives in Michigan and was traveling to Iowa last fall.  I went out on a limb asking her if she might consider bringing her Pumpkins painting to Iowa so I could have it taken out of the frame, scanned, profiled, and a print made for me.

Pumpkins prints are readily available in two sizes.  Medium LImited Edition prints are 6" x 16.25", $25.  The smallest Pumpkins prints are 4.5" x 12.25", $15.

"Pumpkins" (painted in 1971) prints are readily available in two sizes. Click photo to enlarge. Medium-sized limited edition prints are 6" x 16.25", $25. The smallest Pumpkins prints are 4.5" x 12.25", $15. (For prints and/or more information, contact me at, or Mona at Wild Faces Gallery.)

Peggy was immediately up for it.  She brought the painting to Iowa without me knowing where I was going to get all of this done.  I only knew I was going to ask Mona at Wild Faces Gallery if she would reassemble the painting, frame, etc., after I’d had a print made … somewhere.  Until I asked her the “reassemble” question, I had no idea that Mona’s husband, Mike, makes giclee prints from original art in the Wild Faces Giclee side of their business.

When I made this discovery via talking with Mona, both Peggy and I were at the gallery.  Peggy then gave Mike permission to make prints of Peggy’s Pumpkins painting.  Mike did all of the scanning/profiling/printing work.  I got to decide the quantity and sizes of prints I wanted within my budget.  Mona then shrink-wrapped the prints. more…