Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dog Sitting Beer Advent

Ed graciously agreed to do some dog/house sitting for us while we were out on our belated honeymoon.  I wanted to do something very special for him, so I Total Wined without him and pulled together this little set up.  He needs the carbs, he has been riding to work every day.   It is a twist on our annual beer advent adventure we have leading up to our winter birthdays.  (This time around was only 7 days, but I snuck in a couple extra so Lex could join in on the fun two.). The twist on the traditional countdown is that I wrote clues on each bottle.  This way he could have what he's in the mood for rather than leaving up to my foresight.  For beer nerds, it is fun to be fun while giving gifts or enhancing the experience.  Anyone else have a great way to mix beer and surprises?

If you can't read the clues in the picture, they are as follows..."hoppy and bready", "dark and perky", "high abv", "hoppy", "dry hoppy refreshing", "earthy", "light and relaxing", "little and bold", and "big and bold".   Something for everyone!

Sam, who is helped us out too, got a more traditional 7 day countdown.  He's a newbie to the experience, so no need to shock and awe.  I will post the line ups once I get some feedback from the boys.

In other news, I have a Dandelion and Fennel Seed Honey Ale going in the kitchen and we have some hops starting to pop out of the ground, so we'll be blogging about both of those real soon!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Brewery Visit: Chocolate City

Liz and I took advantage of a nice day in early March to check out Chocolate City Brewing near Catholic University.  Well, actually, we were there to visit the BBQ Bus that catered our wedding back in August.  Being Rockville suburbanites that work even further north, we don't get to partake in the food truck scene as often as possible.  So two birds with one stone.

I always fret about travel, and since Chocolate City is new enough there isn't a lot of web info on it, we decided to metro.  Being the environmentally friendly folks we are, we drove to Silver Spring to avoid sitting on the metro a hour coming from White Flint.  (We need a purple line already folks!)  The brewery is about 10 blocks from the Brooklyn metro stop, which helps you burn the calories you drink (or drink and eat in our case).  Aside from getting through some construction at the university, it was an easy walk.  It turned out, there was plenty of parking on the street adjacent to the brewery, so parking wouldn't have been an issue.  It is sort of a gritty industrial/resident area, but was pretty void of too much activity on a Saturday afternoon.

There was a pretty good crowd for a small and fairly new brewery.  About a constant 20-15 people (mostly hipsters) throughout the hour or two we were there.  You'd have no idea it was a brewery had a garage door not been opened up on the side.  Pretty non descript brown and red building.  Inside, there were about 8 smallish tanks and a table with a cooler keggerator set up serving 3 beers.  They had you a plastic cup and walk you through that day's tastings at your own pace.

They were offering up their Cornerstone Copper Ale, Cerveza Nacional De La Capital, and Mothership Connection.  The copper was a really solid leadoff.  It had a nice subtly sweet malt flavor.  The Cerveza Nacional was not at all what I expected.  It was a dark Vienna Lager, not what you usually imagine when you hear "cerveza".  I did not realize that the German's had been introducing beer to Mexico back in the day, but apparently they were.  This tribute was rich, with bold toasted flavors.  I was getting really excited to see what they finished.  Then I hit the Mothership Connection, a weizenbock, which had a respectable flavor, but isn't my taste.  The bubble gum flavor was just too strong and I could taste the sweetness of the 8.5%.  Technically sound, but not my taste.

Growlers were filled straight out of the tanks.  Have to love that freshness.  They also had a growler exchange if you have one branded by them, which let's you quickly grab a full one and leave your old one.  They do a brisk business from folks stopping on their way from work for just growlers, it seems.  I walked away with a growler fill up of the Cerveza for $10.  Money well spent!

Overall, a great trip, something to look forward to as the weather starts ripening.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tampa Bay Local Finds

Always a great day when you find a hidden gem while on vacation.  Ed was just down in the Tampa area last week for a separate bachelor party Spring Training trip and got a hold of Florida Cracker by Cigar City.  I am down there this week. Not only did we find an old favorite in Cigar City Maduro, but I found the bright green can with neon pink writing of Jai Alai.  Really good taste.  Not overly hoppy, but good balance of sweetness and hoppiness for a 7.5% abv.  (Though 3 of these guys on an empty stomach and in a parking lot leaves you a bit loopy for a noon baseball game.)

I also stumbled upon a sixer of Florida Cracker and Hotter Than Helles, but with it being my second to last day, I knew I could choose only one.  I had to take Florida Cracker, knowing it would make a better beach beer.  The toughest of vacation choices.  It was heavenly.  The corriander really comes through, making it interesting and drinkable.  At 5%, I could have a couple of them and still be good to function in the sun.  Best of all, I had enough room in my luggage to sneak one of each can home.  I even got to taste some Oak Aged Jai Alai at the airport on Saint Party's day before departure.  Thank you Tampa International Airport.

This made a pleasant trip, since last time I came up short at the Publix and Sweet Bay grocery stores I was able to get at on our infrequent stops.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Throw Another Squash on the Barbie

So it appears Battery Brewing has seasonal brews now.  This year marked the third time we've made both the Strawberry Kolsch and now the Butternut Nut Brown Ale.  

How great this is, right?  We've had three beers successful enough that we've wanted to make them three times?  Right?  Uhhhhh, not so much.  You must not remember 2011.  This was the beer that drove me to make the wort chiller.  It was gross.  I don't like abusing my beer knowledge, but I'll admit,  we rid ourselves of it by telling novices how good it was and then watching them gagging it down as they tried to tell themselves it was good.  A clear abuse of power, I know.  I'm not proud of it.

So now, with wort chiller in hand, we tried our hands at it a third time.  

Ed, apparently a glutton for punishment, wanted to push the boundaries of brewing and try our hands with outside brewing since we have a backyard now.  Where we'd love to have a propane burner with significant btu's, we're on a budget, and we workable burner on the grill.  It was really nice to brew outside in nice weather, but it didn't heat the water up fast enough and it left me convinced nasty critters (bacteria, wild yeast, bugs) were getting in the brew.  Nothing ventured, nothing "grained".  (<--...hrrrm, just thought of that, so don't steal it, and we will be making shirts that say that.  Posted here 11/11/13, so dibs on that phrase)

Let me backtrack a bit, we had a homebrew store adventure where we picked up some grain for the brew.

Smoked malt speciality grain?  Don't mind if I do.  This should be good a good flavor in our butternut brown ale, right?  I'll get to that later.

We picked up:
2 lbs 2 row malt
1.5 lbs Munich
4 oz Crystal 60
3 oz Chocolate Malt
1 oz Black Patent
.5 oz Roasted Barley
1 oz Smoked Malt
2 lbs lightly hopped LME
.8 oz of Willamette Hops
London Ale 1028 Wyeast

You can see from the shopping list that it is a partial mash.

Before we started we roasted 2 butternut squash and some odds and ends from pumpkin carving.  The trickiest part of this is cutting up the squash.  I have no good advice from this other than watching out for your fingers.  Please leave a comment if you know the secret to cutting up butternut squash.

We sparged the specialty grains at 165 degrees after bringing the water to a rolling boil.  We let them sit for about 20 minutes, with off and on dunking.  We did our best to rinse them out and squeeze out the sugars, until it ran mostly clear.

From there, we brought it back up to a rolling boil and covered it back up.  10 minutes into the boil we added our liquid malt extract and the about half of the squash.

At about 50 minutes we added in the hops and the other half of the squash.

We let it finish to about 65 minutes, then went about prepping the yeast and setting it up in the carboy.

It took a while to get started fermenting, which had me nervous.  I attribute this to having it in the basement, which is sort of cold.  Much to my wife's dismay, I moved the carboy up to the kitchen for about 10 days for it to do it's business.  In all, we bottled two weeks after setting it in the carboy.  I would have let it sit longer (as my experience is the longer dark beers sit in the primary/secondary, the better flavor you get), but we had a hard deadline of our yearly Battery Lane Family Thanksgiving in about 10 days, that we needed getting ready for.  We bottled with a split between maple syrup and priming sugar, which gave a good carbonation.

The beer ended up with a bit of a burned smell, and we contribute this.  I don't think it was the grill.  I think it was the smoked malt.  The taste is there though.  I know smell is a major part of a beer experience this, but I can move past it once I taste the butternut.  One friend called it an "ash tray" smell, but he's a bit obtuse and I think that's over-stating the smell.  Overall, the beer turned out pretty solid and none of the homebrew taste from last year.

Now for something a bit more refreshing.

 And just to whet our whistles during the boil, we enjoyed vintage Saison du Buff's.  I know, I know, light colored, low abv herbed beer should be enjoyed currently, not 2 years after the release, but we all know I have a beer hoarding issue.  It took me about 6 months to allocate all 3 of the series of Stone, Victory, and Dogfish, but I found them that year.  The Stone one was the first I found, but it cost me 6.99 for the bottle in Joppatowne, which historically has very cheap beers.  The other two were Total Wine finds for like 1.99 and 2.99 a bottle respectively.  The flavors actually held up awesomely.  This was the beer that inspired us to make the Rosemary Wheat Ale.  Our's actually holds up to the professionals for once, I think.  Anyways, clearly you can see my awesome pours below, but Ed, Liz, and I enjoyed this treat during the brew.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Guest Post: Gifts for Homebrewers

This post is by Liz, Kevin's wife.

I feel like at this point in my relationship with Kevin, I should be able to write a book on "Gifts for Homebrewers." (I've done quite a bit of Googling). For Kevin's birthday last year, I gave him a homebrew store gift card and a membership to the American Homebrewers Association. This year, I decided to get creative and up the ante'... 
Here's some back story: About a year and a half ago, Kevin and Ed picked the name "Battery Brewing" for their homebrew operation based on the street name where we all lived: Battery Ln. Subsequently, Kevin designed a logo and screenprinted some rockin' t-shirts for Team Battery Brewing at the annual Dogfish Dash in Milton, DE.

It wasn't long before I scanned the design, did some photoshopping, set up this blog and named myself the Chief Marketing Officer of Battery Brewing. A title which is sometimes stripped from me when I say things like, "hm, this beer tastes like chicken."

So for his birthday this year, I decided to do what any *good* marketing person does and slap that logo on EVERYTHING. I mean, who doesn't love custom beer-related swag? (We certainly bring a lot of it home from other breweries). 
I started with some basics from Zazzle and Cafe' Press like stickers, magnets and a key chain. I designed a lovely poster with some choice pics of the Battery Brewing team in action. Finally I found some specialty shops to order a bartender's bottle opener and, the best part, a dozen custom pint glasses. Ooooh, ahhhhh.
All I will say is... it was worth having the glasses done professionally. I ordered a first round off Cafe' Press and they were a disaster (for which I got a refund and got to keep the disasters... woohoo?). The professional ones were expensive if you think of the per-glass cost, but it was the perfect thing and I literally did a dance when we got them in the mail.
To round out the birthday celebration, I hosted a Battery Brewing-themed dinner party with each course paired with one of their homebrews (menu below). Each lucky guest got to take home a pint glass!
I have know idea how I'm going to top this next year! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Beer Advent 2012

It is that time of year again, Ed and I are kicking off our 2nd Annual Beer Advent.

For those who are new to the game, here are the rules:
1.)  Find a friend, or two, or three, or four, or twenty-four (we use just 2)
2.)  Decide what you're counting down to.  (Our birthdays are Dec 26th and 27th, so we're counting down to our birthdays, but you can do it however you want to.  I guess some people with non-seasonal birthdays may choose Christmas Day)
3.)  Decide on how many?  (24 seems logical, since its divisible by 6, and roughly 24 is close to 25, so you could roughly start Dec 1st...24/2=12 a piece)
4.)  Decide who goes when?  (Ed and I go even and odd days respectively)
5.)  Hit up a make your own 6-pack place (you can purge a dozen 6-packs if you want too though)
6.)  Set a price limit.  (We set $30, which roughly gets us to $2 a bottle, and leaves $6 for a big bottle to mark the final day.  $2 is sometimes idealistic for fun singles, so we allow you to cover the gap with homebrews or other beers you have sitting around)
7.)  Buy some foil
8.)  Decide on the order you want your partner(s) to drink the beers in.
9.)  Write down the order on a piece of paper for yourself.
10.)  Wrap up the beers.  Make sure you do #8 and #9 before #10, or you will be playing a guessing game.
11.)  Exchange, Enjoy the fun.
12.)  Blog about it!

We'll be doing our best to live blog here so you can see all the fun we're having and give you some good commentary on our reviews and placement strategy.

Day 1 (E):

Intuition Aleworks-Jon Boat:

This beer was crisp and refreshing out of the can.  Great start to advent.  Kevin had spent Thanksgiving in Jacksonville, FL, the brewery mecca of the south, so his 12-er for Ed is going to be south heavy.

Day 2 (K):

Bear Republic-Red Rocket Ale:

I played the spoiler first this year, and had to go out to L.A. for a couple days without a checked bag.  This meant he missed his day 1, but that means he also got to double up.  This beer was good.

Day 3 (E):


Who says pumpkin beers are only for halloween and Thanksgiving?  Pumpkin pie is a staple around the Christmas dinner table in my family so I welcomed this brew from Terrapin.  This is a solid take on the style.  Not too much spice and definitely not too much sweetness.  If i had my druthers I'd add another pinch of spice and this would excellent.

Day 4 (K):

Evolution-Secret Spot Winter Ae:

Ed and I really like Evolution, and I'm sort of mad at myself for not seeing this beer.  It was really crisp and delivered on the holiday spices without overdoing it.  The beer was lighter in color than I had expected.  It had a nice bitter finish, which was a unique taste when dealing with a seasonal beer, which I enjoyed.

Day 5 (E):

Sixpoint-Sweet Action Cream Ale:

Sixpoint.  How I love thee.  Your nano kegs and your pounders are always delightful.  I hadn't had this tall boy yet and was excited ever since I spotted it still wrapped in foil.  Cream ales are not my favorite style but I am always wowed by Sixpoints offerings.  Does a fine job of balancing bitter hops with sweet creaminess.

Day 6 (K):

Lagunita-A Little Sumpin' Sumpin:

This is the first Beer Advent beer that I had tasted before.  To Ed's credit, he wasn't with me and I couldn't pinpoint when I had it before.  It turns out I had it in Sarasota Florida last year at Spring Training at Owen's Fish Camp (Great seafood restaurant with a nice bottled beer selection if you're ever in the area).  It was a hot sumer day, I was a bit hungover and deyhdrated, so the beer was clearly a bit of a different experience this time around.  This beer was hoppy, but not overly hoppy, and had a nice orange taste rather than the grapefruit we're used to.

Day 7 (E):

Blue Point-Toasted Lager:

The only one of the lot that I had enjoyed before, but never in a can. Blue Point toasted lager holds a special place in my hophead's heart as I would pinpoint this as my gateway beer into the world of craft beer back at Isaac Newton's in Newtown, PA, my preferred hometown watering hole.  Even crisper from the can.  Nice pick Kev, I really appreciated the nostalgia and I rarely order this beer since i've had it many times before.

Day 8 (K):

Sixpoint-Righteous Rye Ale:

Ed's been falling hard for Sixpoint.  To be honest, the price point on 4 packs has kept me away.  Total Wine has just started breaking them out into singles, so I've been expanding y horizon.  I don't know why I'm afraid to drop the coin.  They haven't disappointed; everything's great.  I've been on a rye ale kick lately, and this beer really did it for me.  I knew this was going to be my favorite advent beer before I finished it.  It didn't taste like rye bread, like many breweries error in doing.  The rye was subtle, without being underwhelming.  The maltiness was sweet and comforting.    The hop flavor came through with such a crispness that I found myself chugging this beer.

Day 9 (E):

Cigar City-Maduro Brown Ale:

Cigar City brews are tough to get a hold of up here in the DC metro area.  This oatmeal brown ale just screams Kevin Weaver at me, as i know how much he enjoys the style.  I really enjoyed this beer and its not a style I go after often which is what makes Beer Advent so great.  I wanna say i tasted a little bit of tobacco in here but maybe that was in my head.  At any rate, the only way this brew would be better is if we could run it from a nitro tap.  Tons of volume already but nitro would put it over the top.

Day 10 (K):

Anderson Valley Brewing Company-Winter Solstice:

Ed and I bottled a white house honey porter tonight at the house.  Ed was a day behind, so he brought his Cigar City and we enjoyed our cans.  Ed and I had both had bought these to get a badge on Untappd, but I didn't give mine to Ed because I thought he was keeping his.  Whoops.  Nice that we got to share.  I've had this beer before, but it was on draft, and it tasted more caramel like on tape.  Out of the can, it seemed closer to a chocolate taste.  It was still a pretty solid offering.  Not as spicy as a lot of winter ales, but definitely warmed you up with a nearly 7% abv.

Day 11 (E):

New Belgium-1554 Black Ale:

The shape of the bottle always gives New Belgium away so I knew i wouldn't be disappointed.  This black ale was a nice dark mocha type brew, almost like a porter in flavor.  Didn't love it as it warmed up however, this brew should be kept cold and drank in the cold.

Day 12 (K):

Rogue-Mocha Porter:

Dark, chocolate-y, nutty, bit of a bitter finish, clings nicely to the glass.  I had this beer after a long drive after a long day with family.  It was a great bed time beer.  It wasn't overly sweet thanks to the burnt tasting bitterness provided by the porter backing.

Day 13 (E):

Left Hand-Fade to Black:

Love.  Love this beer.  Left Hand Fade to Black Volume 4.  This is sixpack worthy and if I wasn't already overloaded with brews and wine I'd snag it.  Super dark yet with strong hoppiness throughout.  Lot of activity but a lot of balance as well between the sweet, bitter, and the smoky texture.

Day 14 (K):

Mad River Brewing Company-Steelhead Extra Stout:

Not sure if it is the booze or the taste, but close to an imperial in taste, almost a barleywine in finish, wonderfully dark colored head.  There may have been too much of an identity crisis going on with this beer for me to enjoy as much as I could have, but it was still a pretty great offering.

Day 15 (E):

Rogue-Juniper Pale Ale:

Gotta be honest.  This was a little out there for me.  Would rank this lower in the Beer Advent standings this year.  I appreciate the unique use of junipers but it didn't work for me.  I expected more of a berry flavor but maybe i don't really know what junipers taste like anyway....

Day 16 (K):

New Holland Brewing Company-The Poet:

Around here, beer's with a Raven on them are a bit of a gimmick.  I would likely shy away from buying this beer for myself, rather I'd stumble upon it at a tailgate.  With that said, I'm glad it found its way into my six pack.  It is nice and rich, starts bitter and finishes a bit sweet and cocoa-y, if it were either a little sweeter or smoother it could push it to the next level.

Day 17 (E):

21st Amendment-Fireside Chat:

Another brew I've been eyeballing all season and last but never took the plunge.  I think winter warmers get a bad wrap and this one isn't really lighting up the board at beeradvocate but i really enjoyed it.  The spice, sweet, and alcohol seemed to be competing with each other but found balance as you continued to sip thru the brew.  Far from a session brew but a great winter evening sipper that I applaud 21st Amendment for executing on.

Day 18 (K):

Duclaw-Euforia Toffee Brown Ale:

Inventive idea, little on the sweet side, but pairs unbelievably well with chocolate.  It is a dessert beer, if you would.  We had it with chocolates, which was delicious, but I think if I didn't have the bitterness of a nice chocolate, this beer would have been a loss.  It just needs something, whether hops or a some burned grains, an edge cutting the sweetness would make this a pretty goo beer.

Day 19 (E):

Sweet Water Brewery Festive Ale:

Bring on the warmers!  This was not as spicy as the Fireside Chat but rather more cocoa and maybe some maple syrup in there or molasses.  I would take the Fireside first but this is also excellent and probably equally enjoyable because its unobtainable up this way.  Another great pull Kev! 

Day 20 (K):

Boulevard Brewing Company - Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale

I was probably  most excited for this beer than any other after opening it.  The design is classic, rustic, and vintage looking, just my style.  I wasn't let down.  There was some great spicy flavor here that enhanced the bubble gum flavor of the style.  I was a bit surprised that this rang in at 8%.  Pretty great job Eddo.

Day 21 (E):

Bison Brewing Organic Gingerbread Ale:

Somewhat of a rookie winter warmer or a spiced up porter.  I'm not sure this beer knows what it is really.  Cool idea and the ginger was definitely at the right level but I was not wowed.  I did get to enjoy this one with my dad over some baked ham so the experience brought the enjoyment level up a bit.  Not too familiar with Bison and would be interested in trying some of their other stuff since they seem to be adventurous.

Day 22 (K):

21st Amendment-Fireside Chat:

I just use Ed's review, right?  Second year in a row we've both given each other the same 21st Amendment.  I guess we have a go-to grab at beer advent.  I still haven't decided if I like this beer.  The flavor was bold and well rounded, with great holiday flavor.  As I got further into the beer, it tasted more and more like it had too much spice.  My mouth tasted a little too much like cloves and Christmas at the end.  I'd suggest maybe splitting it with a second person, and it might be the right about of flavor.

Day 23 (Ed's Birthday):

Heavy Seas Below Decks Barleywine:

Happy birthday to me!  This beer has some serious guts.  At 10% ABV it is not the strongest or weakest barleywine i've had but it actually kind of tasted like it should have been.  I'm guessing that this beer could age well and might temper the alcohol flavor that i was getting.  This brew did sip really well and the alcohol actually kind of gave a nice conclusion to each sip.  It went along with the full bodied but not yet syrupy texture of the brew.  I'd be really interested to try this aged in cabernet barrels which I hear was recently released.  At any rate, I love barleywines and was really happy to conclude this year's beer advent with one, especially one that is local.  Until next year!  Cheers!

Day 24 (Kevin's Birthday):

Green Flash Brewing Barleywine Style Ale

Ed and I have beer kismet sometimes.  Both of us closing on Barleywine for the final beer is one of those moments.  Last year it was serving up the same beer on back to back nights.  This one was good, but somewhat forgettable.  I've actually been hearing more and more about Green Flash lately, but I just can't get behind a brewery that names a beer "Barleywine Style Ale".  I know it is wrong, but I'm already thinking "uncreative" before it hits my lips.  It was a lot hoppier than most Barleywine's I've experienced, a little outside of the genre norm, but that didn't help it into the top half of Barleywine's I've had.

And Ed's Barleywine was pretty awesome, but it pails in comparison to what Liz got me for my birthday.  Check out her guest blog on her adventures in birthday shopping for a homebrewer.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I Got Berried!: Strawberry Kolsch

First off, apologies, it has been too long since my last post.  Ed and I both moved, so we've been spending more time transporting beer and equipment than using it.  I did get married though, and we made beer for it, so have I got a post for you!

What to make, what to make, what to make?  Liz and I have a handful of Battery Brewing beers that are important to us. One of our first dates was to pick strawberries so that I could brew with them.  Our first kiss was after a homebrew release party for a Blood Orange American Wheat Ale.  The list goes on, but I'll spare you the mushy stuff.  But this presents a quandary for any homebrewer, when you're brewing for a special event, how do you decide?  What's on your mind?

Do you do something new and bold?
Do you do something you've done a bunch before and are fairly confident in?
Will you get bottle blowups from over-carbonation with everyone in their nice clothes?
What happens if it doesn't turn out?  
Should I brew separate batches to plan for the worse?
What if people don't like it?
Do I need to provide cups so people don't get the yeasties?
What if I get floaters in there?
Am I giving myself enough time for it to mature?
Fruity, dark, hoppy, bitter?
No one's going to touch it, right?

I worry a lot.  I should have it checked out.  Does anyone else secretly dread a big event they're sharing a beer or do you embrace it fully?

We chose a Strawberry Kolsch that I've been brewing with Ed every year since I've met Liz.  It is very drinkable when it works.  It is reasonably drinkable when it doesn't.  It is light and refreshing, so it transcends even inexperienced pallets.  And it is a brew I'm particularly proud of.

It also means we get to go on a You Pick 'Em Adventure!  Ed and Lex joined us.  (We actually pit-stopped at the Flying Barrel to pick up homebrew supplies on the way...or out of the way, depending if you're Ed/Kevin or Liz/Lex)

Liz and I en route to berries...Tip #1, wear red, so you don't stain your shirt
Tip #2, Wear your Flying Dog T-Shirt, and you get compliments on it all day.  

Ed and Lex on the hay ride to the berries

Still happy with each other, even after the field work
Our first foray with this brew, we used a Weizenbier kit with Kolsch Yeast.  The next year we experimented (full on Kolsch kit, speciality grains, timing of strawberry addition, secondaries), but we found that the first year we got it mostly right, so we tried to recreate it.  We've been trying to move beyond traditional kits lately, to both be more adventurous and save coin, and the homebrew store doesn't always have the kit you need!  We used a Kolsch yeast,  3.3 pounds of LME, 1 pounds Pilsen DME, and 2 pounds wheat DME.  We used about 1 pound of strawberries at about 40 minutes, then 2 pounds at about 50 minutes of a 60 minute boil.  We used a mix of both sliced and pureed berries.  We also boiled with sliced/juiced lemon to give it a bit more sour flavor, and in our experience the lemon brings out the flavor of the strawberries.  At 35 minutes we used a 1/2 ounce of German Magnum hops at 50 minutes for bittering, and 1/2 an ounce of US Perle hops at 55 minutes for aroma.
Ignore my awesome hair
Lemon peels dropped into the boil

We used sliced and pureed, surface area
and strainability in mind
Since they're being added late in the boil,
we cook the berries to get rid of any bacteria
If you haven't built a wort chiller for cheap yet, do it now!

Filtering out the pulp

We let it ferment, which started in about a day and half and completed after about 5 days.  On day 6 we added about a pound of pureed berries in for the secondary, and let it sit for another 3 days.  Then we bottled, using a mixture of honey and priming sugar, let it do its magic for a week, then started doing the nervous taste testing.

Pureed berries boiled for the secondary addition
It was pleasant after a week, and even better after 2 weeks.  I was very excited it appeared to have turned out!

Now for the presentation!  Of course, this is for a celebration!  Check back next week for some great information on how we made labels, attached them to bottles, and decided on the beer selection for the wedding.  I never labeled my beers before, so the designing was fun.