Brew Night: Courageous Kevin’s Cream Ale

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The response I received for Pugnacious Pete’s Porter at Ales Over ALS was overwhelming. I was moved by how much it meant to the Frates family, but I was also taken aback by the response it received from the rest of the attendees. I knew right away that this beer couldn’t just be a one-off.

A couple months later as I start to think about the direction of my brewing and my career I conceived a brand built around “Fresh and flavorful beer brewed to be enjoyed by the pitcher with friends before, during, or after the game!”. Pugnacious Pete’s with its drinkability and flavor fits the bill perfectly.

The Brewer’s Association published their 2016 Craft Beer Year in Review which included a few insights of note. IPAs represent 25% of craft beer volume, no shock there. An IPA is next on the docket for me to brew and start refining. More interesting is that sessionable styles like Golden Ale, Pilsners, and Pale Lagers are up 33%. Those styles also fit my brand like a glove.

Pugnacious Pete’s without the porterine is basically a cream ale. I decided to do a single boil, single fermentation before blending half of the batch with porterine to make Pugnacious Pete’s, while the un-blended cream ale could also be a welcome addition to my burgeoning brand.

When I brewed the first batch, I did a single mash which I then split into two separate batches to boil separately, the other batch being Larrupin’ Lou’s XXX Ale. Most craft breweries have one brewhouse with one boil kettle. A split boil on a commercial scale seems impractical.


Brewing in my apartment the only practical way to make a six gallon batch like I brewed last time is to do a partial mash. As it was I filled my boil kettle to the brim and watched it like a hawk to make sure I didn’t have a boilover.

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The malt extract is made from 2-row barley, as opposed to the all 6-row base malt I used in the first batch of Pugnacious Pete. When I assembled my ingredients I only had 1.25 pounds of 6-row and 0.25 pounds of Caramel 20 malt left over from the original batch. I used more 2-row and Munich malt to compensate. Critically, I had just enough flaked maize. From talking to brewers from Pretty Things and Notch who have brewed with corn, they have both used a blend of 2-row and 6-row as a way to take advantage of the diastatic power of the 6-row and the smoother, less grainy flavor of the 2-row. I also changed the late hops from Fuggles to Liberty based on what I had available.

I still used the same Wyeast 1272 American Ale II yeast. I thought about trying the same yeast I plan to use in my upcoming IPA, but I decided I didn’t want to change too many variables.

What I plan to do is bottle both beers so I can share them with as many people as I can and potentially enter them into competitions. I think being bottle conditioned where the bottles will be chilled before serving will help the beers clear before serving.

With my single boil both the cream ale and the porter will have the same level of bitterness. Compared to modern cream ales, Courageous Kevin’s will be heavier and more bitter like these beers were before Prohibition. The BJCP recommends entering historic cream ales in the Historic Beer category as opposed entering the beer as a Cream Ale. We’ll see how the beer comes out and how drinkers perceive the bitterness.

I planned to brew this batch on a Sunday during a week where the Patriots played on Monday night. After letting my Sunday get away from me I ended up brewing on a Tuesday night. I think this was my first brew night since Jay Thinks He’s Weizen. If I brew on a weeknight again I will make sure it is either an extract batch, or at least a batch that doesn’t require a 90 minute mash and boil. Luckily I didn’t need to be in the office until 12:30 p.m. the next day.

I did take advantage of that long mash to bottle up my 2016 batch of Pa’s Lager. I added a little more priming sugar to ensure higher carbonation to lighten the body. When I tasted samples all I could taste was priming sugar. Our new QA inspector was on hand to make sure the latest batch is up to snuff.

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See the full recipe here

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