Join with us on our adventure as we build East Alstead's first brewery and what is quite possibly the only off-grid commercial brewery in the United States. We feel that what we brew and how we brew it are equally important. If you would like to help out with this project, contact me at:

The Belgian Mare Says Hello!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year End

Once again another year has past.  We have definitely made some good progress this year.  Most recently the mash tun was completed, but we also finished the interior paneling and the boiler.  Don't forget that the siding is all painted and ready to go. As we now stand, the equipment is about 90% done.  The big part is finishing the building.

As usual we had several requests for home-brewed presents this Christmas.  Luckily, we were able to meet demand.  Several new formulas were tried and met with rave reviews.  I hope to soon be able to post some specifics of the new recipes.  

One recipe that was certainly not new was the cherry-cream stout.  This was one of the first beers I brewed after moving back to Alaska.  It was a great beer, but for reasons I no longer recall, I never brewed it again. For other reasons I do not recall, I decided to brew the cherry-cream stout again this winter.  

Once again the result were excellent, though very different.  The previous rendition had used pitted bing cherries.  This gave a cream stout character with just a hint of cherry.   This time I used tart cherries and ran them through a blender to ensure a more complete fermentation.  The result was a dark beer with a strong tart cherry character that dominated the malt flavor.  It bordered on being a dark kriek.  Maybe I created a new style: Kreik-stout!

In other news we passed 8000 visits to our blog.  It is truly unbelievable that so many people have seen fit to check in on our adventures and musings.  We are thankful for all the support and hope you will all stay with us as we complete our journey.

Once again, thank-you and Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Boiler Room

As of late, I have been concentrating my efforts on building the wood-fired boiler that will be the heart of our brewhouse.  This has been quite the adventure as I have, with some advice from 19th century brewing texts, designed the boiler myself, from the ground up.  Further, construction required the acquisition of bricklaying skills.  Fortunately, the good people of Whitcomb's were more than helpful throughout construction. Admittedly, this whole process was a bit scary, if I messed up here, going back would not be easy.  In the end, the results were better than expected and quite acceptable for a first effort, if I do say so myself.  And I do.

The bricks are standard fire bricks.  The cast iron door is from a barrel stove kit.   The tank is a stainless steel sap tank that was modified to my design by Perley Lund and  for which I had a lid constructed by Ray Britton Sr.  Both are excellent craftsmen..

The next step is having a scaffold built for the mash-tun!

The pictures below show the evolution of the boiler! Cheers!

The base of the firebox is in place.  Note the outlet with tri-clamp fitting that Perley welded on.

The boiler tank is set in place.

The brick work is finished and the cast iron door is in place.  Success!

Rear view of the boiler.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Good Reviews

A bit ago I was asked if I could brew up a couple of beers for the Orchard School's fall festival.  Things worked out and I had the time and managed to cook up two batches to donate to the cause.  One was my already-famous hemlock stout and the other was an experimental recipe using a lager yeast and dark roasted wheat malt.  I knew the hemlock would be good, but I worried about how the lager would be received by the crowd.

Well, not to worry.  Both beers received rave reviews.  Several people asked where they could buy some for home consumption.  Alas, I had to tell them that we are not yet a real brewery, so I could not sell them any.  Bummer.  

Still, the festival was a good time and I met many good people and got the word out about what we are trying to do here at the Belgian Mare.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


We continue to hope and hurry.  Recently we purchased about 2/3 of the siding and have been painting away with a view to getting the exterior done this fall.  We are getting soo close!

Tracy painting away on the new siding.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Quick Taste

Never one to leave well enough alone, I decided to try my latest my latest brew.  It has only been in the bottle for five days.  Not much, especially for a beer that was bottled without priming.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.

First off, the beer poured crystal clear.  The aroma is an enticing biscuit/malt.  The flavor is excellent.  It matches the best of any brewpub I have ever tasted.  Malt and bitterness are in perfect balance with a pleasant earthy aftertaste.  Believe it or not, the carbonation was pretty good for only five days with no primer.  I would like to see more carbonation, but that will come with time.

In spite of using a new yeast and base malt, it looks I got things right this time!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Whitbread Ale Yeast

I just finished bottling my first brewing effort with a yeast I have not previously used.  The yeast in question is Safale s-04 which is billed as a dry version of the famed Whitbread Brewery's in-house strain of yeast.

Like other Fermentis products, this yeast goes to work quick.  Just dump the envelop in the fermentor and you will see noticeable activity within the hour.   A large head of yeast did not develop and after four days the yeast had dropped. On day eight I bottled.  The beer came out crystal clear.  The final gravity was 1004!  This yeast had fermented my beer nearly to water! Further, in spite of not forming a large yeast head, a very thick yeast cake had formed in the bottom of the fermentor.  I probably could have saved some for repitching.

The flavor is excellent.  It has a almost lager-like tartness with a pleasant grainy base. Obviously, it is light bodied but did not seem watery.  I look forward to drinking this once it is fully conditioned.

What may pose a problem for me is carbonation. I had decided that with this beer I would once again go the traditional route and not prime the beer before bottling.  Just bottle it and wait three months for it to carbonate and condition naturally.  However, with a final gravity of 1004, I worry that there is not enough fermentable material left for it to carbonate. I shall find out. I will either have an awesome Real Ale, or some great tasting flat beer.

Deer Reader, I shall keep you informed.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

7000 Hits and More!

So we have made it to 7000 hits!  Woohoo!  I am not sure what caused the recent flurry of activity, but I am glad that people are still checking up on us.  As you all know, progress has been slow.   I only wish it could go faster, but that is life.  However, if any of you finds a big bag of money and do not have any use for it, send it my way...

On to what progress we have made:  I have finished the bead-board and painting in the sales area.  The last bit I finished on my own.  Let me tell you, cutting those jigsaw puzzle-type pieces of bead-board is pretty scary.  I lived in fear of miscutting and ruining a whole piece.  But in the end, I was able to cut even the most contorted piece and get it to fit.  Then came painting, which was another adventure given that I am not much of a painter.  Things turned out pretty well in the end.

Progress on the sales area!
Lately I have been derailed from working on the brewery because one of the horses did some major damage to one of the sheds and it had to be torn down.  So most of my efforts lately have been on building a new run-in for the horses.  I wanted to make sure this new one would last so that ate into the finances a bit.  Then we had some vet bills, etc.   It never ends.

Still, I am getting ready to do some more brewery work.  The next step is building the boiler and firebox.  This is pretty exciting as it marks a step where we are creating a brewery and not just any building.  I have found a cheap source for firebrick so it will be much less expensive than anticipated. I also found a cast iron fire door that is not too expensive. The only hold up now is getting a welder to do the necessary modifications to the tank that we will use as a boiler.   If we can't get the welding done soon, I will start working on the boardwalk that will run along the south side of the building.

 Thanks for staying tuned in, I will keep you all posted on our progress!

We did manage a side trip to Salem, MA, and got to see the witch house!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Interior Progress

So the draft horses decided to do some creative rearrangements to one of their sheds. That happenstance has left me with little time the last week as I have torn down the old shed and built up a new one. We are a little less than half way finished with the new shed.  Hopefully this one will be able to better withstand the horses' creative endeavors.

On the brewery side, I have finished putting up the beadboard paneling.  Marcus helped with most of it, but the last four sheets I put up myself. At an average of nearly one hour per sheet, it was a humbling experience.  On the plus side, I am much better with a circular saw than I was before I started building the brewery.  Three of the walls have been painted.  Once the fourth is finished the corner trim and headers can be put up. For now though, I have a horse shed to finish!  Cheers!

Insulation in place an paneling started.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


OK, so the kickstarter thing did not work out.  Right now I am sitting her and sipping a homebrew so life cannot be all that bad.   In fact, things are going reasonably well right now. The hopyard is looking good and we continue to chip away at the brewery building.  I am not sure when we will be able to finish it, but we are making progress.   So all in all, I can't complain.  Things are going slower than I would like, but they are going.  And that can't be a bad thing.  Cheers!

Monday, April 16, 2012


Our advertising department said we needed a leggy blonde European model to promote our brewery. Here she is folks, Aggie, the face and hooves of the Belgian Mare Brewery...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Many things have changed since my last post.  I went from full-time to part-time at my job so I would have more time to work on the brewery and other projects. We also took a short trip to New York City so Tracy could get some continuing education done.

So now I am back and working on the brewery and related items.  One thing we are looking to do is set up an account on  This site is a great way for projects to raise capital and get the word out about what they are doing.  Please keep an eye out for this.  I hope to have it done for next week.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Jeet Kune Do Paneling

So yesterday our friend Marcus braved the snowfall to come out and help with the brewery. Since Marcus is also my Jeet Kune Do instructor, this meant that I would not get a lesson this week.  Bummer.  However, his help in finishing up the interior wall more than made up for the missed lesson.

The interior wall was ready for the bead-board paneling and, as any of you who have ever tried solo paneling installation know, paneling is a two person job.  So I was thankful to have Marcus around to help out.  We started by installing a header board that would give us something to nail the ceiling panels to when it came time to install them. Next we put in a kick-board and blocking between the studs so we would have something to nail the bead-board to.  The walls in the public room are 8'8 3/4" so we needed a pretty generous kick-board.

Then came putting the paneling up. With two of us this went pretty quickly.  Since great pains were taken to make the interior wall as square as possible, the panels fit right in with no fudging.

The final step was to put the door that I had built into position.  Again, having two people to do this made the task much easier.  I am still impressed that I made a door that actually works.

So now that we have one wall done we know what we need to get the other walls done.  That will make paneling the remaining walls go much faster.  Thanks to Marcus for coming out to help!

Friday, February 24, 2012


Tomorrow,  I finally have a day with nothing planned. So today after dropping off the kitten to get spayed, I went to Hamshaw Lumber and bought some bead-board panels.  My hope is to get the interior wall paneled and the door into its final position.  You may remember me mentioning the interior door whose construction cost me several valuable hours of my precious life. In the end it turned out quite nice.  It is very rustic looking and opens and closes smoothly.  Currently, the door is tacked into place awaiting final positioning once the paneling is in place.  Every little bit moves us closer to a real brewery...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Yeast Quest

Those of you who know me well know that while living in Alaska I was a big fan of the White Labs liquid yeast cultures.  I was pretty bummed out when I moved down and could not find a source of White Labs products, though I have found some amazing dry yeasts.  So you can imagine that I was pretty excited when I recently managed to get my hands on some White Labs cultures.

Unfortunately,the joy was short lived.  The first culture I used showed no activity after 24 hours.  So I pitched a dry yeast in the wort but it was too late.  Bacteria had taken hold and the beer was terrible.  To avoid a repeat, I tried to make a starter with the next one.

Once again, the culture proved completely nonviable.  Literally, nothing happened.  Out of curiosity, I let the starter sit for over two weeks.  Still nothing!  At least I know I was properly sanitizing my glassware.

Happily, since those failures, the next two cultures have worked well.  What the difference was I cannot say.  The only factor I cannot account for is temperature. I did let the wort cool longer on the third and fourth tries. Perhaps, I pitched the first two cultures at too high a temperature.  At the very least, perhaps the difference between the temperature of the wort and the yeast was too great and some sort of thermal shock killed the culture.

I hope I can figure this out as I really like the results I get with White Labs yeasts.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Building Walls

Last week I took two days off work to try to get some work done on the brewery.  This weekend I tried to finish what I started.  Well, I did not get as far as I wanted, but then I always plan for too much.  What I have got done was pretty good.

I build and framed an interior door.  This is quite a task if, if one has not done it before. In the end it took a surprising amount of time to complete.  However, now that it is done it looks pretty good.  

The other task I accomplished was framing the partition wall.  Since we plan to have a sales area, we needed to have an interior wall to separate the brewing and sales areas.  This was not too difficult a task. The only problem was that since it is 9'4" from the concrete floor to the joists above I had to build the wall and then build a short extension to connect it to the floor above.

So I accomplished a good bit of work over the last two weekends. Hopefully, I will soon have some more videos and pictures to post.