Troubleshooter’s Corner

BYOB by | Dec 2013 | Issue #83

Illustration by Ellen Crenshaw

Call me a homebrew club evangelist. After all, it’s our chance to talk to other homebrew obsessives without the eye-glazing, backing-away response we get from so many others—including other beer geeks.

When your club is large, like mine, you can miss out on that close interaction and feedback. We do formal beer presentations (“Hi! This is my Saison. I used 11 pounds …”). But what if you don’t want to share your beer with the 80 people who come to a meeting because you’re worried it’s “off”?

In the Falcons, we resurrected a moribund tradition: “Troubleshooter’s Corner.” It’s simple: Several veteran brewers take over a space, and brewers can bring beer they have questions about. The participant is guaranteed respectful, honest feedback on what’s right and wrong, and what to try differently. Sometimes, it’s fermentation temps, sometimes water filtration or sometimes nothing. There’s an immediate back and forth. To share, we’re posting anonymous notes at

It’s been great to see the improvement in both the beers and the club. One fantastic example came from a new member, Eric Mendoza. He first attended Troubleshooter’s with a beer he couldn’t stand and was planning to dump: an aggressive spice bomb of a Belgian Dark Strong with persimmons. It was a tough beer to taste: way too spicy with no persimmon flavor. We recommended that he just wait a few months. Nine months later, he brought a beer with mellowed spices and persimmons that finally shone through.

For 6 gallons

Malt / Grain / Sugar / Fruit
12 lb. Belgian Pilsner
1 lb. flaked wheat
1 lb. Victory malt
0.5 lb. German chocolate wheat
0.5 lb. Carafa III – dehusked
1 lb. brown sugar
3 lb. + 3 Hachiya persimmons, skinned and blended

60-minute rest at 147°F

0.5 oz Nugget | 13.3% | 60 min
1 oz Sterling | 8.7% | 15 min

Other Ingredients
1 g grains of paradise 15 min
2 each cinnamon sticks 15 min
0.5 tsp turmeric 15 min
0.5 tsp ground ginger 15 min
0.5 tsp gypsum 60 min
0.5 tsp pectic enzyme 15 min

White Labs – Belgian Saison I
Yeast WLP565
Belgian Ardennes added at 1.035

• The German chocolate wheat was pulverized in a coffee grinder and added to the mash during the sparge.
• The Carafa III was made into an extract by steeping in cold water and filtering through coffee filters. The extract was added with 15 minutes remaining in the boil.
• 3 pounds of persimmons were skinned and blended, and added to the mash.
• Three persimmons were skinned, blended and frozen for addition in the secondary.