How to Calculate Alcohol Content (%ABV) of Liqueur

When making your own liqueurs at home you may want to know what is the percentage of alcohol. With beer making you would use a hydrometer and calculate the alcohol content from the the specific gravity, but it is not practical to use a hydrometer when making liqueurs.


Calculating the percentage of alcohol or “ABV” (alcohol by volume) of a homemade liqueur is more straightforward because the distilled spirits you are starting with have a known alcohol content. Read Full Story

Kestrel Lager Acquired and Rebranded For UK Supermarkets

Kestrel LagerGLASGOW, SCOTLAND – Kestrel Lager, formerly of Wells and Youngs Brewing in Bedford, UK has been acquired by Brookfield Drinks, Ltd, which is planning to re-brand the premium lager and sell lighter versions of the popular brand in UK supermarkets.

The original Kestrel Lager, which weighs in at 9 percent ABV, is considered to be a “super strength” brand. Brookfield Drinks will continue to produce the original beer under the “Kestrel Super” label, but also plans to expand its appeal by creating lighter variants for the mass market. Plans are in the offing for a low-alcohol 2.8% variant as well as an alcohol-free version, a Pilsner and a “premium” 5.0% lager. Read Full Story

Allegro Mexico Zaragoza Coffee For Homemade Kahlua

Allegro Mexico Zaragoza Organic Coffee

I have tried various coffee brands for homemade Kahlua. Recently I have tried making homemade Kahlua with a brand of coffee that is the best I have found so far. It is available at Whole Foods grocery stores under the brand name Allegro.

This variety of coffee is called Mexico Zaragoza. It is organic – meaning that that it is grown without  pesticides. That is a big plus. Another plus is that it is light roasted. Many coffees are medium or dark roasted. The darker the coffee is roasted, the bitter it is. When the beans are only lightly roasted, there is virtually no bitterness. This coffee is the best coffee I have ever tried when making homemade Kahlua. It always comes out smooth with a hint of chocolate flavor.

Please note. This variety of coffee is called “Mexico”, not “Mexican”. Whole Foods also sells a variety of Allegro coffee called “Mexican Grapos Collective”. It is not the same as “Mexico Zaragoza”. Please do not be confused and buy the wrong coffee.

Dried Black Currants From U.S. Supplier

Finding a steady supplier for dried black currants in the U.S. has been a challenge. Since I made my last post on this topic in September, 2010, the supplier I was using at that time (Good Sense) has stopped carrying them. Lucky for me, though, there is a currant farm in New York that has an online store where you can buy dried black currants in quantity.

The company is called CurrantC™ and it is managed by Greg Quinn. I am very happy that the company is offering dried black currants and that you can buy them in quantities. The are available in 1 lb, 5 lb and 10 lb bags.

Read Full Story

Lager Yeast Ancestor Found in Argentina

BOULDER, CO – Scientists at the University of Colorado, in Boulder have discovered the ancestor of the lager yeast that first appeared in Europe 600 years ago.

Geneticists have wondered what was the origin of lager yeast that first appeared in Germany 600 years ago. They knew it was hybridized from ale yeast – used to brew ale. But lager yeast ferments at lower temperatures than ale, so scientists have always wondered where did that yeast come from. Read Full Story

How to Make Beer Video

I found a great video for making beer at home. It’s really simple and the video shows the step by step process how to do it.

The video is produced by where you can buy beer-making kits online at reasonable prices.

Dried Black Currants

Trader Joe's Dried Black Currants

It’s been awhile since I posted the recipe for Black Currant Liqueur (crème de cassis). When I first made the liqueur, dried black currants were readily available. I just happened to get lucky when I put together the recipe for the first time and the liqueur turned out really well.

I originally obtained the dried black currants locally from Trader Joe’s (image to right). The dried fruit was of exceptional quality. I was disappointed to find out later that Trader Joe’s decided not to sell them anymore. They said it was due to low sales. I suppose that’s because black currants are not very well known in the USA and people were just not used to buying them. Read Full Story

The Worldwide Hops Shortage is Over

I just received the latest newsletter from and it says that the worldwide hop crisis is over.

More News – According an article in the February/March issue of Southwest Brewing News, The hops shortage has apparently ended with better crops in America this year as well as Germany having a very good crop.

Even More News – According to the Oregon Local News, an online article has a headline that starts with, “Glut of hops …”

So it looks like things are looking good for making beer these days.

Mediterranean Holiday Cocktail

The Mediterranean Holiday is a sweet, fruity cocktail made with four basic ingredients: vodka, sweet and sour mix, pomegranate juice and homemade Black Currant Liqueur (or Creme de Cassis). You can make your own sweet and sour mix. Use 100% pomegranate juice (natural, unsweetened) for best results.

Mediterranean Holiday

Add vodka, sweet and sour mix, pomegranate juice and black currant liqueur into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously until chilly. Serve in a Martini glass. Garnish with orange slice or flamed orange zest, floated on top.

Mediterranean Holiday Cocktail

AHA National Homebrew Competition


AHA (American Homebrewers Association)
National Homebrew Competition, April 24, 2009
1st Round Southwest & Intl Region, San Diego, CA

Contact: Chuck West
Phone: (858) 571-2930
Entry Fee: $9 for AHA Members; $14 for non-members
Entry Deadline: 04/08/2009