Spirits Lifted

The spirit’s foe in man has not been simplicity, but sophistication.
George Santayana 

I’m not what you could call a patient man. In fact you’d probably be more inclined to call me a “loosely contained ball of explosive rage.” That is to say, I get frustrated easily. I have perfectionist’s expectations and a toddler’s attention span. At least that’s what I’ve found when it comes to homebrewing. I’ve recently decided to tug on my own leash a little bit and get refocused on the brewing aspect of homebrewing instead of the “ZOMG what beer can I make next?!” aspect.

Part of the reason for this have been my recent not-successes: Suicide by Hops, 187 and Midnight in the Garden. The first was a dismal failure due to over-consumption during the brewing process, and the latter two were a failure of uncontrolled fermentation and poor yeast handling. So I decided my best course of action was to take a simple recipe and work my way through all the steps of the brewing process, without drinking, and see how things turned out.

It is still early to tell how the beer will turn out, but this was my most efficient brew-day yet.

Chilling the wort outside

Chilling the wort outside

What decided on was a single malt and single hop (SMaSH) beer in the style of Marzen/Oktoberfest. I figured this recipe was as simple as it can get and it is the recent season for an Oktoberfest beer.

I nailed the original gravity (OG) of 1.052 according to both my hydrometer and refractometer; I had a mash pH of 5.3 (ideal is 5.2) and a final pH of 5.8. All my hop additions were on time (within 30 seconds or so), the wort chilled pretty quickly, and my new auto-siphon (thanks again to my girlfriend who got me this as a birthday present) made getting everything into the carboy easy and damn near effortless. I added a smack-pack of WYeast 1007 German Ale yeast to the carboy and shook the damn thing for about ten minutes – my next homebrew purchase will probably be an oxygenation system. After a good shaking, I carried the carboy down to the basement and loaded it into my new fermentation chamber (a 15 cubic-foot chest freezer I got off Craigslist with a Ranco dual-stage temperature controller I bought literally a day before it went on sale).

Fermenting in my new chest freezer.

Fermenting in my new chest freezer.

As of early this morning there wasn’t much activity, but as of about 15 minutes ago there was a thick krausen on top and bubbles coming out of the blow-off tube. Which is all to say that fermentation is underway!

I named this beer Spirit’s Foe in homage to quote at the top of this post; it’s a reminder to myself that not everything needs a metric fuckton of hops or speciality malts or super yeast strains. Let’s just hope the final product matches the brew day.

Spirit’s Foe


  • 10 lb of Munich II (Dark) Malt – 10*L
  • 1 oz of Hallertau (German) hop pellets @ 60 minutes
  • 0.5 oz of Hallertau (German) hop pellets @ 20 minutes
  • 0.5 oz of Hallertau (German) hop pellets @ 5 minutes
  • Wyeast 1007 German Ale Yeast (Smack-Pack)

Stats and Targets

  • 90 minute boil
  • OG: 1.052
  • FG: 1.013
  • IBU: 23
  • SRM: 12
  • ABV: 5.2%


  1. Found myself in a similar spot too recently, always looking ahead to the next brew and not paying attention what I had going on in front of me and my process got sloppy. I slowed down and concentrated on my current brews and things ran slowly.
    Like the recipe, I’m a big fan of simple German ales and 1007 is probably my favorite yeast to use.


    1. Thanks! It’s my first time using 1007. The guy at the homebrew shop said it can be a finicky fermenter and to Google what temp to ferment at. I’m using 62*F (+/- 2*).


      1. Yea it has fermented differently every time for me. sometime it shoots off in under 12hrs or has waited 48hrs+ to show any signs of action. I try to keep it between 60-62F. Always have had good results though.

  2. With even a modicum of success, and a healthy portion of arrogance, I would have assumed that I could go from 0 to 100 just because I wanted to. As I said to you before, I found the simplest Mr. Beer “add water and poof” beer process to be ultimately too much of a pain in the ass to follow. Kudos for taking a lateral step and admitting that small steps may create a template for big results.


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