About a month ago now, I pulled my last ‘house’ beer made about two years ago and the follow up v2 version. Again, in light of clarity and direction, I’ve taking the highlighter or more likely a red pen to my brews.
2015-01-25 17.26.44


the nose: quite bright, fleeting funk and little else. suds are in then out, likely under-carbed.
the palate: lightly tart, more like “lemon,” much like citrus acid. It ‘becomes’ funky, more like much-to-ripe fruit; reminds me of the dank days of summer and forgetting to eat the fruit bought the week earlier and thought a pineapple was a good idea. A strange bitterness…? This may be unlikely due to its age, dryness masquerading as such? It could be its dryness coupled with the funk and acid confusing my taste buds. It’s flavors and very “clean” – which sounds silly for a wild brew, a wine term to fit: round is much more fitting. It’s wine-like, more so than h^2 . Very sharp as it warms and gives that high-acid top-of-stomach tickle.
the result: 7.5/10 – a decent first attempt, and I’d more than likely give it a lower score had it not been the no wistful beacon of “first focused wild brew”. It’s pulled it self through the mud though, cleaning up its stumbling flavors that made it a ‘only one’ level of attitude
2015-01-25 17.33.35


the nose: more grapefruit-like than h^1, still bright. Much more funk forward, but still little else. Not sure what I’m looking for – malt, hops, or else is long gone taken by the critters and living creatures dumped into making it what it is – but something, anything to add depth
the palate:

  • slightly tart
  • mellow tartness and funk battle for attention on the palate, nicely complex
  • seemingly more dry, leaves palate wanting more, VERY dry
  • “thicker” mouthfeel which plays into a more ’round’ taste and drink; it’s difficult to define, very dry thick, and sour
  • heavy white head turns weak and flimsy overtime

the result: 8/10
hard to say which i liked more. Nostalgia plays it’s hand, so I’d have to pick house version one.
2015-01-25 17.43.03


The rough edges of both are smoothed, made for a wonderful, nicely ‘quenching’ brew. Not more “simple” but less work for the tongue to decode, it was someone less ‘punching tart.’

what I’d change: Honestly, I’m not sure. I’d at least wait to drink the “last one” a bit longer, but now we know. I think the rye plays a slow meandering spice that floats away over time which I’d add more of. I likely also would bottle early and then allow them to age in bottles due to too much O2 – too tart? A part of me likes the ‘rough around the edges’ form of their early days, something about it’s beastly nature made it interesting, hard, intriguing – and something I couldn’t get in the store.

Bottled Taste – House & v2

Posted on

February 13th, 2015



I had all intentions of writing a post on beer tonight. I pulled out the original house beer (wild) did from when I was still living in limbo at my mom’s house after we moved back from Maine and version two which has sat for about a year and a half. I took notes, ratings the nine. I did all of this to try to take my mind off my Dr. Jekyll of child and as I sat thinking about what I could say my mind was clouded, a dark storm thunder head, by my wryly son.

The past couple of weeks, he’s been pushing my buttons worse than ever and I’ve put pressure on him to “improve” (ie, no iPad at the table, less sass, etc). That is until Friday when the boat was pushed from the harbor to the murky churning seas of toddler anger. The long and short of it is he’s very much like me – short-tempered, bull-headed, and unwavering will – put two of us in a room and toys will get tossed, tears will be shed, and voices will reach at the very edges of vocal rage. Thursday, he’s sick, needs attention snuggles me all day, doesn’t want me out of arm’s reach. Friday I go to work and we’ve already clocked one time out for hitting. Not ten minutes after I walk through the door he’s in it again. As we move through the weekend it becomes a battle zone where my wife – who had never been at the receiving end of Finn’s rage – found herself at the brink as well. Sunday was spent at Gary’s for a short visit with our return home devolving into a new timeout format (understandably difficult), a couple of hours working to cool heads, and Finn playing in his room by himself for the rest of the evening.

I say all of this not to complain to but to show. Before this weekend I felt we were doing everything right. Finn is (was?) a dream son: fantastically behaved, sweet, and while an instigator – he knew other’s limits (as well as his own). But now, sitting in bed writing this – I feel like I’ve lost. Our relationship crumbled, I feel like I’ve not only failed as a dad, but Finn, myself and it all.

I can only hope this is a spell due to being sick, or turning three in a month, or I’m not sure – to be honest, but I’ve got to hope. I can only hope that he’ll wake up not being a terror. Not pushing my face while putting on jammies or crying about which car seat he’s in or scratching my arms when he’s not listening – I don’t know where it all came in. It’s like a flood and we’re drowning. I soldiered on through the hour of failed 4-min timeouts and felt he was finally getting it, thought that it was sinking in the more we told him he had to play in his room, ate up all his dinner, unaided, and bathtime was a breeze (which is unusual) but when he accidentally poked my face when I put on his jammies and he kept doing it while laughing and then stopping to only pick up a toy to then bang it into my glasses I couldn’t take it anymore. Rudolph went flying.

He went to sleep in a blink, so maybe there will be light. More days ahead and a calmer head must prevail.

Beer next time, cheers.

Dad Post: This side of failure

Posted on

January 25th, 2015

In the messy hall of a room I call the brew house and others call the brewery, things are shaping up. The fermentation/yeast fridge is kicking up its first lager, the burners still tumble through their paces, and I’m left feeling a large debt to the man who hosts me, my beer, and most importantly watches my son for 6 hours twice a month. So I brew him a batch. His very own choice of ESB meets amber meets his tastes.


The first iteration came in 2013 when I was firing up the kettle at Gary’s and he brings up a good point on having ‘all of this beer’ in his basement and he “can’t drink any of it.” A quick brainstorm, detailing, and the very next brew day an ESB is poured through the stained aluminium pots and out into the standard pails. My memory is its simplicity, under hopped, mildly caramel and malty. He loved it.


2014 rang in and he wanted something more “amber” so in went MO, Victory, and a dash of corn – this round was split between 1335 (Brit Ale II) & 1275 (Thames). It was ‘fine’ not better or worse to my palette – that is until an infection took hold and make it maple syrup. We tried to allow it to sit, but the malty backbone took hold and the thickness never let go – the first bottles to ever get a dump. Away with ye.


2014-09-23 09.45.47
The kind and bull-headed man of a father-in-law I have kept attempting to drink the mess I crafted and I felt it necessary to rectify. Malt was shifted to 80 & 40L, a dash of roasted barley, and a few oz of homegrown hops – yeast split to Steam Beer and s-04; I was testing his tastes, putting his keenness for British strains to the test. He didn’t blink, s-04 was favored right away, even pre-carbonation. It’s under hopped (again), much too malty for my tastes, but is really getting along nicely. Then he says he’s ready for v4 – and to “brew the same beer last year.” I smile and sigh.


2014-12-21 10.46.08
This beer is a tag-along. The thing I left out here is that Gary gives a lot of this amber away. He drinks most of it, sure, but he’s apt to give buddies of his 6 packs as parting gifts and house warming presents. I won’t mince words, I think these are the fellas that think anything with a beer-like flavor fits their preferences. But, and this is a huge but, it’s a larger audience than my ‘this-is-good’ host. So again, this is a tag-along beer to take with him on an extended trip to the far-flung deserts and mountains of the south-west US. Two cases, all four cases? Who is to say. Only him. Drinks for him at the hotel, sixers gifted to hosts, yurt-neighbors, and the like.
2014-12-21 10.46.41

I caught a rare Gary the day before brewing v4 saying an amber he drank was ‘flat on flavor’ and an ESB having a bit more “something.” Rye. It popped in the old noodle right as he said it. So here we go – I couldn’t just leave enough alone. 5% rye, a bit of c120, and lots of 2-row – that’s it; biscuit malt had every intention of making the mash, but it was left in my bag – ever onward. I also doubled, even tripled the amount of hops – still using his whole leaf homegrown hops. They still held a good amount of aroma after a freezer stay in vacuüm bags for 6+ months but I wanted something with BALANCE finally, the quality of the leaf home-style cascades just weren’t there. This version is split between s-04 (from a cider pitch) and OLY-006; my thoughts drifted to Gary romanticizing his brewery, his hops, and a locally grown yeast to those cracking a bottle or two of ‘his beer.’ Report on taste, experience and more soon.

Take Aways: nail down efficiency and boil-off; I’m always way over on mash efficiency by ~10 points (70 vs 80 percent), as well as boiling down more than I want (ending a smidge lower than ~8.5 gallons) which means just about everything I brew is higher gravity than intended. Really need to get a handle on proper liquid measurements.

‘Bullfrog’ V4

Posted on

January 1st, 2015



First, I recently noticed I don’t write a lick about the taste of a single beer I brew – unless in passing. Not really a great way to 1) log them for myself. 2) sit down and think about the beer beyond good vs bad 3) report on impression to the audience (or lack there of). So here we are, leaping head first into this thing.

2014-12-09 17.39.19

Earl of Gray Pale

The Story: I already wrote about this beer a few times, but here it is in short and total: So I wanted to do brew a clean beer (finally) and thought a nice neo-american pale using fresh picked wet hops would be great. My brew buddy, bless his enthusiasm, tooth the reigns while I and my father-in-law picked hops. Miscommunication on when adding hops and so there ended up with a 90min and 60min addition along with 30 and 10 and 0. It was remote dry hopped with help from my father-in-law who, bless his enthusiasm, ended up leaving the air locks dry. Okay fine, so I bottled it anyway. That is what we’re left with.

The nose: malty, mellow funk, caramel notes; that is it. Seemingly blah mix of malt. Honestly one of the least aromatic beers I’ve ever smelled – just… nothing. Very odd. Maybe it was the cold I have/had, but there wasn’t anything. I went as far as dumping and sloshing a sample in a smaller glass to get something, anything from it. Failure at every pass.

The palate: boring, not bitter enough even for even a pale. Clean, with a little more noticeable, but still light, funk. Flavor is light and fleeting with a meandering off flavor, most of the malt forwardness is gone and I’m left with a limp beer.

The result: 2/5; an uninspired pale, drab; needed A LOT more hops; no hint of the tea besides a strange tannin (maybe?) that I can’t put my finger on – which could be some strange off flavor I don’t recognize.

What I’d change: A LOT more hops, 1:5 on these fresh picked hops was nowhere near the right ratio. Use straight bergamot instead of cold brew tea. Dry hop it myself. Bottle it sooner. Try it again.


Bottled Taste – Wet Hopped Earl Gray Pale Ale/IPA

Posted on

December 11th, 2014



I’ve been a heavy crashing ocean of emotions as of late and writing here has not been at the top of my list. I’m working on a full overhaul of the website at work, squeezing in little of anything else until it’s done. When I’m not coding the site, relearning css, reading up on Bootstrap, I’ve been watching The West Wing or playing a few hundred years of Civ V – basically escaping any kind of “work” I can. Admittedly, writing here should not be work, but as a way of relaxing, reflection, and else – it’s been more or less a weight on my ever-growing list of ‘things I should be doing but am not’.

In brew news:

The “brewhouse”

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Essentially, everything is done – save for the stand. NG burners were tested and were pretty damn hot, but ever got to boiling – likely due to too much heat going ‘out of the sides’ and being too far from the pot. The floors were painted, a tile backsplash finished, the fridge moved in with temp control set in, all good to go. Just one piece of the puzzle to go. I’m sure I’ll find more I want to change/add.

The fuck up

2014-11-14 12.08.08

A Pale went IPA when 8oz became 16oz at 60min; an IPA became a funky-failure cascade when an unexperienced helper dry hopped it. It’s final conclusion will likely be a drain pour, but I bottled it incase there are miracles left in the world.

The Chocolate Yawn

2014-10-10 10.42.11

I’ll be the first to admit I’m jaded. Oaking beers comes with a long arduous thought on a complimentary and warranted flavor/aroma pairings,  spices are all but out, fruit is utilized sparingly, and big fat beers are fine, just not ‘a thing.’ So when I got a bottle of peanut butter extract my first instinct was the throw it away, but there it loomed waiting for its place. My brew buddy is  all grinning excitement for the cute things like that – don’t fault him, he’s free to like whatever he wants. But we made a Chocolate stout with a nibs added at FO and added to secondary and aforementioned of flavoring is headed in at bottling and away we’ll go. I sound excited, don’t I?


Solera #3

Barrel Aged Wit

Bullfrog Vacation Beer

Delayed Update – Nov 14

Posted on

November 24th, 2014



I haven’t forgotten about the blog – it’s hard to keep up. I’ll be working on another brew update along with a flushed out post on the ‘brewery’ as it’s moving right along now. As a preview, I’ve set up a STC-1000 on Gary’s old fridge, 23-tip NG burner and Gary has laid out a tile backslash. Churning out beers and more experimental goodness. Don’t worry, I haven’t lost sight of the solera – now moving onto its real name: Renard.

Until then.

Still Here – Late Oct

Posted on

October 28th, 2014

Sometimes, seemingly more often I care to admit, I don’t get around to writing here. That and the beer page have kind of fell to the wayside now that Finn is at Pre-school and I’ve two more days of work. That has left me consuming instead of creating on my free time. While this relaxes me, it ends up making me despise the lazy part of myself. And well, here we are, stuck with a bit of writing to be done here and best intentions waiting in the wings. Pause no more, faithful, journey with me across the roaring fire and tumbleweeds.

Wet “Pale”

2014-08-26 13.30.54
While stuck in the seemingly endless cool summer with bottles of thirst quenching punchy sour beers and funk this and infected that, I could stand no longer the unsteady ground of complexity. I wanted a drinking pale, something to herald in fall, something to keep a steady pace in the fridge. All of those things and to keep my non-sour-drinking-wife happy. In the midst of brew day, a fellow just one town south announced his homegrown hops ‘up for grabs.’ I shuttled my brew partner and myself over to said fellow’s house and hacked down bine after bine. We found a ratio of 1:5 of dry to wet and made a quick change to dumping in whatever was picked – high alpha or not, it was to be a snowflake. My compatriot has been taking lead on brewing, as I’ve been desperately trying to hold on to someone’s interest, even a mild one, in brewing. Clear communication being our foible, the boil received an extra dose. I laughed at our now possible ‘session IPA’ and went back to picking hops. Recent taste tests resulted in confusion – seemingly less bitter than even say a standard pale. Denny’s Favorite (WL1450) and US-05 were dumped and are only slightly different at uncarbed sips. Cold brewed Earl Gray will go in at bottling.

Sasion de pompoen

2014-09-12 13.13.58
Well, you’ve done and bit me on the toches, dearest autumn. I don’t like spice beers. I don’t enjoy (almost any) pumpkin beers. Yet here we are, deep in exposition about slogging our way through a day crafting one. Sure, I told myself, a pumpkin beer with real pumpkin and soft on the spices. Turns out, with plenty of reading, that pumpkin doesn’t exactly ‘taste’ like anything save for the spices strewn across its glistening orange surface. Fine. A pumpkin beer without pumpkin. The base was a wonderful orange hue from dashes of 40L & 80L & wheat. I made a tincture of spice shelf goods and rum. It tasted fine, and we’ll see how those tiny flecks deal with a bit of a soak in the finishing beer. I feel I could have done better with this one, sure Belle Saison and 3711 are okay choices, but fresh spices, or at least whole spices, would have been ideal. I wept inside a bit while dashing ground dried ginger into a small jar of murky cinnamon and clover water. Time will tell – a keg to my brother-in-law.

Extra Special Bullfrog

2014-09-23 09.45.47
I can’t say much about this beer, it’s the second version of an amber I brew for Gary. I can say much about the man behind it though. We’ve been crashing Gary’s retirement just about every other Tuesday, and sometimes in rapid succession. Where some folks, even some family, would reel and tire of the whirlwind visits, Gary’s interest only grows. I’ve grown from using a small corner of his basement and garage to taking completely over in the small back room of his garage and nearly all the basement; bottles stack high, bucket fermentors creep ever so slowly across his basement floor, furniture and rugs get soaked, equipment is bought and installed, and he grins and actively involves himself in all of it. I am unsure my heart would be into homebrewing, due to its location, as much as it stands now without the Gary Mielke touch. I am continually humbled by his fervor for this hobby of mine. Least I can do is brew the man a beer every so often.

Up Next

Peanut Butter Chocolate(?) Stout
Solera #3

September’s End, Brew Update – 2014

Posted on

September 30th, 2014



In the long days of this seemingly never-ending cool summer – I’m left with even keeled and mellow wild beers.

2014-08-19 09.17.01

Solera #1 is still sitting on its cakes and fearfully, had a dry airlock one of the couple of visits I made while Gary was out West. A sample was pulled and it’s right where I wanted it. A bit worried about it getting too tart now, but we’ll see 1- where everything ends 2- if it indeed does tart up.

This past brew day went swimmingly – besides a watery mash – hit high 80s on my mash efficiency and right about the amount I wanted ending up in the fermentor. I relied on the local homebrew store having the WL670 I use, but alas. I trudged on, thinking big picture: all wonderfully blended anyway. #2 ended up with Wyeast 3209 Oud Bruin Blend & Wyeast 3278 Belgian Lambic Blend; both fitting well into the larger puzzle of the solera pretty well. Letting the yeast thing go I’ve opened the doors allowing for shifts and subtle changes as it ages. Let it go and let it grow.

2014-08-19 09.17.44

side notes: sampled the Quad finally and it’s got me hot and bothered. Wheat wine was overbearing & “hot,” and <1gal got a treatment of #2 cherries & #1 of raspberries – making it more of a fruit wine, still tasty and interesting. Most of what is pouring is quite good and things are finally coming together.

Lesson learned: hang up your hang ups

Solera Brewday #2

Posted on

August 21st, 2014



I told myself I wouldn’t finish writing this post until I drank the second bottle of Lambic ‘BHall’ from Brouwerji-chugach sent over from Maine. Well here I sit, in bed, with 1/8th of my glass left. My initial notes are below, but my pallette is likely much cleaner than previously – no other tastings, had cider previously – so I wanted to take a quick ‘second look’.

Lambic – 9/10; simply put: superb, verbose: not overly tart/sour (as many of my wild ales lean toward) making for a shockingly drinkable beer with mellow ‘green apple’ flavors, it smells like funk and a barrel had sweet babies crafting  an amalgam to simply draw intrigue – lemon rind, vanilla, light malt, and that ever elusive ‘cherry pie’. Honestly, if his brewery – once it starts – churns out beers like this, I’ll be bragging to everyone that I knew him when.


Now for the first tasting. My [sometimes] brew buddy and his wife stopped over at our “new” place along with a long 10 beer flight with some recent brews, and not so recent, along with BHall’s choice options (lambic, gueuze).

Our flight:

Grapefruit Wheat (GFW), OLY-500 with Pummelo Grapefruit rind and meats and thyme flowers ‘dry hopped’

Summer Stouts (ss04/05), split batch of first attempt at “warm weather” stout – US05 vs S04

Belgian Pale (BP2), “beta” pitch of 100% brett pitches from Omega Yeast labs, second floor version – high heat

Wine Hybrids: Saison with Sav Blanc must added and pitched with EYC20 (20), ECY01(01), WL670 (670) or Cuvree (cuv)


  • GFW – 8/10; Very grapefruit forward, light spice
  • BP2 – 6-7/10; lots of ‘malt’; herbal, earthy
  • ss04 – 7/10; chocolate nose w/ “semi-sweet palate”, nutty?, stone fruit
  • ss05 – 7.5/10; more “stout”, grain forward
  • 20 – 8/10; funk/sour nose, smells VERY tart but is reserved on the palate
  • 01 – 6/10; floral nose w/ overipe fruit, quite tart, “nerds”, ‘drink one’
  • 670 – 8.5/10; fruit salad nose, very “sweet/sour” along the palate
  • cuve – 3/10; sulfur nose, palate: smooth very nice, like a “malty wine”
  • lambic – 9/10; “barrel” nose, vanilla, lightly sweet meets a nice mellow sourness, VERY drinkable
  • gueuze 8.5/10; “vanilla” nose w/ a touch of sulfur; under ripe apple, a more ‘tame’ version of the lambic


  • GFW – 7/10; sour grape fruit after taste, wheat at the top w/ a subtle sour note
  • BP 2 – 7/10; caramel, malty, earthy, dry
  • s04 – 8-9/10; coffee, caramel, malty, nutty
  • s05 – 9/10; semi-sour, very nutty, hint chocolate
  • 20 – 8/10; sour nose, grapefruit, clove hint of banana, citrus, vanilla aftertaste
  • 01 – 5/10; sour nose, overripe fruit, tart (like drinking nerds)
  • 670 – 7/10; stone fruit nose
  • cuv – na/10; n/a
  • lambic – honey, touch of citrus, oak, vanilla
  • gueuze – honey, oak, green banana, vanilla


  • GFW – 8/10; sour, bitter, fizzy, champagne, grapefruit
  • ss04 – 8/10; peach, caramel, coffee, nutty, smooth
  • ss05 – 5/10; sour, acidity, salty
  • bp2 – 6/10; cocoa, malt, bitter, green
  • 20 – 10/10; light crisp, citrus, lemon
  • 01 – 6/10; spice, tart, sweet, dessert
  • 670 – 5/10; dry, citrus, grapefruit
  • cuv – n/a; sulfur, dry, sour
  • lambic – 9/10; honey, grapefruit, green, lemon, vanilla
  • gueuze – 7/10; tart, oak, fruit

Some had obvious favorites – but a pretty decent spread of beers that makes up the current profile. My surprise: the summer stout is really quite fantastic, none of that “acidity” found in many of my earlier stouts – how? Adding the chocolate malt with the sparge, wouldn’t have thought it, but it’s a huge difference – a nice mellow actual chocolate/coffee profile. I am no master taster by any stretch, but my brew buddy is burgeoning and his wife has never done anything like it before which gave me a good spread on experience and expectations, a nice swath I’d like the replicate in the future.

Tastings Early Aug

Posted on

August 15th, 2014



If life is what you make of it, then I’ve been a ship adrift.

More updates to come in a way to make it more obvious I give a damn about this whole thing. I’ve made the claim I care for not much save for my writing and brewing. Two days ago, my brew sheet was wayward – missing many new items and feeling empty, I haven’t written a lick save for the paragraph in the clumsy sci-fi piece I’ve now started, and I haven’t been keeping up with blogs at work, and here we are. Time’s up. Put it back together again and move on, head down.

On to the interesting parts anyone cares about: I crafted a few recipes and have been tilling the field of my mind for future ideas. Here they are in order.

Grapefruit Saison

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My dear uncle shipped a box full of massive white grapefruits from his tree placed in the shadow of the San Jacinto Mountains to our house whereupon I ate a couple and peeled, juiced and froze the rest. There it sat, moving from cold box to cold box and finally jumped its way into a brew I was cobbling together. What started as a grapefruit wheat met my dear love for OLY-500 and I kept the train rolling. OLY-500 vs Roeselare (Gen 3) this go; the former received ~1oz of fresh thyme from the garden at Southport, it’s simply wonderful, mellow grapefruit flavor met with peppery/lemon saison – easily a favorite – rest was ‘gifted’ via Keg. Roeselare version is untouched and needs packaging.

Summer Stout

2014-06-24 10.27.01

Simple point: I don’t enjoy many (nearly all) stouts. Very few. I want to love them, truly. My brewer-in-crime has love for them, so in my soul search and his admiration we came to an agreement on trying to bridge summer and stout. Before comments are mashed in the little box below, I’m well aware stouts are beloved all times of year. But the sheer truth is most beer drinkers are not reaching for a pint of the black in the throes of dog days. A fellow homebrewer mentioned a short steep of dark malt to nix the harsh acidity and his Black IPA was a testament to that. This mash got a dose of chocolate malt added at sparge only. The kettle was a murky river brown but was likely due to the heavy amount of wheat. Clarity will make it right. US05 vs S04.

Brett Mower

2014-07-01 11.35.57This idea started with knowing a cool summer only last so long and my itch to brew a “normal” pale was bubbling up. Homebrew Club was put to test a pitch of Omega Yeast Lab’s ‘beta’ brett mixtures – supposedly a Fantome and Trio mix. I threw some turbinado to round it out, a pinch of 120 and chocolate (for very light color) in the mash, and likely way too much fresh Thyme leaves in at boil’s end at. The Thyme went into the hot liquid and filled the small back room with an almost liquorice-lemon smell which make my heart plummet to sad places. We’ll see how those Brett fellows get on with the oils. This split is 2nd floor (70-80 f) vs basement (solid low 60s f) – an attempt to gauge the profile better.

Brewhouse Update

2014-06-17 09.24.37

Things slated for installation: fan, NG tie in. In process: Weldless 3-tier strut stand, tile back-splash, fermentation fridge. Components to each set, but progress. And I spilled about 2# of unmalted wheat that has sprouted and started to really grow over a handful of weeks.

Ever onward.


June/July Brew Rundown

Posted on

July 19th, 2014