California Dreamin' - Barley the Brew Pup's March Recipe
 Wind blowing through my hair. Top down, my snout filled with the wonderful aroma of salty air from my left, orange groves from my right. The sky illuminated in magnificent hues of fiery red and crimson. Blasting north along Highway 1, losing myself in the beauty of the fading light. That's my idea of a perfect California evening.
The scene above inspired my take on the perfect California Beer - a delicious brew with a creamy mouthfeel, complimented by notes of vanilla and orange.This is our California Dreamin' recipe using oats, vanilla beans, and navel oranges, which are native to California. We will steep the oats, peel the oranges, and scrape the vanilla beans from the pod, so come along and brew with us!

The Recipe:

  • 1 can of Mr. Beer Canadian Blonde HME
  • 1 bag of Mr. Beer BrewMax Pale LME
  • 1 pack of Mr. Beer Brewers Yeast (found under lid of HME)
  • 2 hop sacks
  • 1/2 pound of oats
  • 2 oranges (we used navel, you can use any kind you like)
  • 1 vanilla pod (vanilla extract can be used but won't have a fresh, natural flavor)
  • 1/4 cup vodka
Before we get started, I suggest finding yourself a brewing assistant. An assistant isn't completely necessary for humans, but I hear it makes the process more enjoyable. I like to keep my paws off the hot pots and make this guy do the heavy lifting. I fondly refer to him as the upright, the big guy, or the human. He will pretty much answer to anything. I have him pretty well trained. IMG_4770 Now that I have the big guy to do the work, I'm going to assemble all the ingredients. I like to take this time and read through the instructions (two or three times doesn't hurt) and make sure I have all the equipment and ingredients I need BEFORE we get started. Well, ok... maybe I can't technically read, but the upright has that part figured out, so he reads and collects everything while I watch. It's a pretty good system that we've worked out! Photo3 First, I have my brewing assistant place 6 cups of fresh water in the brew pot and bring it to a boil. During this time, I instruct him to prepare the oats by placing the entire 1/2 pound into the supplied steeping bag. The big guy is going to inevitably spill a couple oats because he is a bit of a klutz, but not to worry! Oats are a healthy, tasty snack that I get to hoover up while the upright continues working. Photo4Once your 6 cups of fresh water comes to a boil, remove from heat (be careful not to burn your paws) and lower your tied off oat bag into the water, giving it a swirl or two to be sure all of the oats get wet. Once the oats are wet, set your brew pot aside, and let the fun part begin: prepping the oranges and vanilla beans! You'll need to gather the following ingredients and supplies:
  • 2 navel oranges (again, any variety of orange will work, but navel will give it that California flare!)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1 small, air-tight glass jar.

No, that's not a fake mustache, it's a vanilla pod. 

Only one orange is pictured for photo purposes, but we used the peel from two as noted in the instructions. We found our vanilla bean pod at Whole Foods, which happened to come in the perfect size air-tight jar! To begin, have your assistant (the one with opposable thumbs) peel each orange. I like to keep a close eye on the upright to make sure he doesn't peel too deep, as the white "pith" will leave bitter and unwanted flavors. Photo7 Next, I instruct the big guy to split and scrape the vanilla pod. You want all the delicious little vanilla bean nuggets that are inside, so make sure you take your time and scrape carefully. I am a visual pup myself, so for those of you who are like me, here is a short video from Chow Tips on how to scrape a vanilla pod: Photo8 Photo9 Last, I have my assistant place the orange peels and vanilla bean paste into the air tight jar and pour in the 1/4 cup of vodka. I would watch your assistant closely here... they seem to like the "one for you, one for me" method. Once your orange/vanilla concoction is in its sterile environment, place the jar in a cool, dry location... on the shelf where your fermenter will go is perfect. Photo10 Now, let's get back to brewing! Did you already forget about your oats steeping? Give the oat sack a gentle stir with your brew spoon to release some of the trapped oaty, creamy, deliciousness, and then remove and discard the sack and oats. Bring the creamy water up to a boil by returning the brew pot to the stove on medium heat. Once the boil is achieved, I have the big guy remove the brew pot from the heat and add the Mr. Beer Canadian Blonde HME and Mr. Beer Brewmax Pale DME. Photo11 Photo12 After the wort is thoroughly mixed, I fill my sanitized LBK to the 4 quart mark with refrigerated fresh tap water. The big guy carefully pours in the wort and we top off the LBK with more cold tap water to the 8.5 liter mark. Using our sterilized brew spoon, we give the wort/water in the LBK a vigorous mix (taking care not to scratch the sides of the plastic LBK) and take a hydrometer reading. For some reason, the big guy likes to taste the hydrometer sample... sometimes, I just don't get these humans. Photo13Once we have our hydrometer sample and ensure our wort temperature is between 66-68 degrees, we pitch our Mr. Beer Brewer yeast and place the LBK on our fermenting shelf next to the orange/vanilla jar.


After one week of fermentation, we carefully empty the contents of the orange/vanilla jar over your fermenter and into a sterilized hop sack (provided with the recipe) and gently place into the LBK. You want to pour the orange/ vanilla contents into the sack OVER the opened LBK, so that the flavored vodka mixes into your now fermenting beer. With a sanitized brew spoon, remove the hop sack 3 days prior to bottling Now comes my favorite and, quite possibly, the most important step in the entire brewing process... Once you have tucked your fermenter away in a cool, dark, dry location and thoroughly washed all of your brewing equipment, you should sit down and crack open a nice cold homebrew. Get yourself a brewing journal and jot down any memorable notes from your brew day, as every brew is unique and a great learning experience. Also, while enjoying your homebrew, take a look on to start planning your next brew. You have to keep the pipeline going! Photo14Disclaimer:
  1. Please don't give your pups beer…WE DONT! Everything you see here is staged for entertainment purposes.
  2. Sanitization is very important to us and we recommend following all of Mr.Beer's recommended sanitization process. A much more thorough write up, including information about sanitization practices, can be found online on the California Dreamin' recipe page.
If you have enjoyed this homebrew write up, please check me out @BarleyTheBrewPup on Instagram. We update daily and love to share our experiences - follow us to see what the uprights have in store for me next!