Flying “Under the Radar”

Saturday September 3rd found daughter Lisa and I at a new brewery in downtown Houston, “Under the Radar”. The day started with a play at the Alley Theater in Houston, “A Night With Janis Joplin”.  Great play and the lead in the play, Kacee Clanton, was channeling Janis Joplin’s spirit…….from nearby Port Arthur, TX. We attended the 2:30 afternoon performance so we were free to explore downtown. What better form of exploration than to find a new brewery and partake.

My good friend and fellow homebrewer, Mike and his lovely wife Annette had texted me last weekend from the Grand Opening of “Under the Radar Brewery”! Lisa and I were a week late for the Grand Opening but, as the old cliché goes, better late than never.  We arrived in time to witness the end of the Texas A&M Aggies take an OT win over my old school, UCLA. While catching the two point conversion by UCLA I struck up a conversation with a young lady, named Kelli, intently watching the game. She is an Aggie, “Poli Sci” major and yes of course, an attorney. Better yet, she is married to one of the owners. More about that connection later.

We found a close and convenient parking spot at 1506 Truxillo Street (home of the brewery and beer garden), adjacent to the Deutscher Fleschwagen food vendor! Oh my…..translation is the “German Meat wagon/truck.” The smells were heavenly and I will have to report out on another visit about the food. Lisa and I were focused on the beers for this visit.

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A look from the beer garden with the brewhouse in the background.

First round….for $ 15.00 I bought a logo glass and 3 tokens, we added a fourth token for an additional $5.00. Our choices were;

Dirty Blonde – I ordered the Blonde, I know, those of you that know me, are probably shaking your head because I tend to be an IPA fan, the hoppier the better. Lisa is a bit like me and she wanted the IPA….I  knew I would get a sip. I liked the Blonde and I know my wife will enjoy it.

Mid  Frequency IPA – Lisa…..yes she got the IPA. A good solid IPA, not over the top with bitterness. A good very drinkable IPA.

Midtown Bock – Because of commitments we decided to hold onto a token and sample the Bock and Porter on another visit.

Porter Authority

Radar Love – a light Hefeweizen. Now, I don’t normally drink Hefeweizens, but on this warm late afternoon I ordered  and glad I did. Very nice beer and very refreshing….coulda had another……. Just enough Magnum hops to keep it interesting but not enough to have my wife turn her nose up at it….So, Kathy my dear, there are two beers on this list that you will love.

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A listing of the usual offerings

There are plenty of tables to share with other likeminded beer drinkers with a nice mix of sun and shade in the beer garden. There is a Dynamo cornhole set on site to keep teams and groups talking smack and destroying their opponents. I noticed a few folks carrying in food and snacks as well as folks making use of the Deutscher Fleischwagen.

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Patrons enjoying a great day to drink beer……

Back to Kelli now. She introduced Lisa and I to her husband, Mike Norfleet, one of the three owners and still dabbling in his civil engineering work….He is a Purdue grad, but, he brews some very good beers so I will cut him some slack and …….  he did have the good sense to marry an Aggie! We chatted about beer, duh, as well as bees & honey. I think I put a bug in his ear to create a Honey Blonde or something similar somewhere down the road. I don’t have the inventory to supply enough for a 10 barrel batch…..It would be cool to find a local downtown source!  I told Kelli and Mike that I would see if I can find a contact for them.

We waited around long enough to catch a brewery tour conducted by Mike. He definitely has a passion for the craft and delivers with a strong authoritative voice. He also asked me to behave and not answer any of his questions…..I complied. The brewhouse is a 10 barrel system and they utilize 3 fermenters that also double up as brite tanks for force carbonating prior to kegging. They don’t have a bottling line so everything is kegged and distributed locally.

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Mike Norfleet, one of the owners up on his podium…..walkway between the mash tun and brew pot….delivering the beginning of an excellent tour of the brewery.

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Mike again…..drinking a cold one and leading the tour.

I am anxious for another excuse to wander downtown and sample the remaining two beers. It won’t be long. FYI, Mike and Kelli like Hay Merchant and I do believe you can find an Under the Radar offering there.

PS, Kelli, if we can keep it a secret, I will bring a 22 oz. bomber of my 3 year old Russian Imperial Stout, 11% ABV and aged on toasted, bourbon soaked oak.

Deutscher Fleischwagen

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly




Honey, I Started the Honey Blonde

I have been in trouble since the moment I began sharing my wife’s Honey Blonde Ale, close to a year now! Really not hers but, I made it using some of the dark honey we harvested last year. She liked the honey so well that she took 6 pounds of the dark amber sweetness and hid it from the sales batches. I have been given very direct instructions for this batch……I am not allowed to give any of this beer away! I need to have my daughter Lisa share in some of the blame. She took a 6 pack to one of her trail races and addicted a couple of her friends. They were rewarded a couple of times.

This beer is an all grain brew, currently in the primary fermenter and probably ready to rack over to the secondary. The brew process,  a 90 minute boil, went very smooth. The starting gravity came out dead on to the expected number. The sample pulled for the gravity test, tasted pretty damned awesome.


Honey Blonde-p1

Details from the Beersmith Software. Whenever I read to sparge volumes I think – That can’t be right….to much water. At he end of the 90 minute boil it was a nearly perfect 5 gallons.

I will Bottle in another 7 days and should make my wife happy by mid August. Let me take that back, I always make her happy, she will be “happier” when this beer is ready  and happiest if I don’t share any……she can make that choice!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly,


PS: My son Joe sent a text message as I was writing this post from Ranger  Creek Brewery and Distillery, San Antonio TX. Another one to add to my list.

Beer, Bees and Bugs in Brenham

On hold and misplaced since mid April”

Actually the bees were the first part of the day.  I was enrolled in a daylong event for beekeepers, 550 of us.  Should have been one more but I somehow failed to get my bride enrolled. The late fee at the registration table was more than we wanted to spend….I actually did learn a lot of useful information and I am already looking forward to the 2017 event. I need some honey production to replace the Honey Blonde that my wife fell in love with and I was too generous handing it out to others!

The previous week we, Kathy and friends Bev and John, were in Brenham visiting the Brazos Valley Brewing Company. Besides enjoying the beers I was also a bit excited knowing that the crawfish boil at the brewery coincided with the Brenham bee school. YEE HAW! Even better the iPhone map indicated a 6 minute drive from the Washington County Fairgrounds would put me in the parking lot at the brewery. The spicy aroma of boiled crawfish was wafting across the parking lot as I arrived. Yum, and cold beer too!


Bugs, taters, corn and a first for me, mushrooms.


Another load dumped out onto the table ready for consumption.


Just about enough for a meal. As they say in Louisiana, “Pinch dem tails and suck dem heads. FYI – there is a good bit of yellow fat in the head. Either suck it out or dig it out with a long finger nail….Don’t give that look…..!


The day’s offerings. Pretty much love them all, my wife loves the Golden Ale. Say hi to Robert about to exit, stage right.


David, one of the brewers, was manning the boil pot and he was just amazing. He kept a steady flow of spicy, but not overly spicy crawfish (mudbugs), coming out of the pot along with corn, potatoes and a first for me, large mushrooms!  Loved the mushrooms!!!!! Robert behind the bar, the guy that does whatever needs to be done and doing  well poured, my flight of beers. I had both brown ales, the Golden and the IPA that was missing from last week’s visit. Can’t say enough about the quality of the beers.

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This is Dave. Say hi to Dave if you go visit.

For a drizzly and misty, rainy night there was a hardy crowd enjoying mud bugs, beer and friends. Sing by and visit. About 8 minutes east of Highway 290 you can discover the charm of the historic downtown Brenham area and indulge in some great beers. Slow down and smell the hops and maybe the malts!


Not enough drizzle to upset the regulars!


Drink Local and Drink Responsibly


Beer, Bluebonnets, Wine and Rings

Friday was a road trip with our best friends, Bev and John. We did have a purpose to the trip, but the route was allowed to be managed from the male perspective. The one given, and not subject to deviation, was a meeting with our youngest son receiving his class ring at Texas A&M in the 4:45 PM grouping. The tradition of the ring is pretty well understood within the state of Texas but it is a bit foreign to those on the outside. Rather than spending a chunk of time trying to explain it, the following link will put it into context for all y’all that may be interested. Just a side note, I have spent most of my life in the petroleum industry and that Aggie ring network is powerful and widespread.

John and I knew we had to arrive in Aggieland in time to buy Joe and the entourage lunch and still make the ring event. The rest of the planning was up to us. Beer was on our list and we chose the Brazos Valley Brewery as a stop on the return trip. On the trip to College Station, Aggieland, we selected a small winery in Chappel Hill, Texas Star Winery on the day before the Bluebonnet Festival…..for you non Texans, Bluebonnets are the state flower and kind of a big thing. No, they are a really big thing…..this is Texas after all.

The winery was almost a non-stop. We pulled into the parking lot at opening time and we were met by a distinguished looking gentleman several years my senior….He was an A&M grad and was proudly displaying his ring. He also told us that the winery was closed for a private event….Bummer………… Fortunately John needed to get rid of some coffee and ran into the winery owner….the esteemed Aggie had it a little wrong….the tasting room down the hill was open!

Off to the tasting room and we were the first four folks in the door. Fifteen minutes later a couple of younger women walked in and they were a hoot. Yes, they were Aggies, both proudly displaying their rings. The wines were interesting and we bought a couple of bottles to take with us….Conversation with the young women was also very interesting and very Texas infused. Seems that one of the businesses that one of the gals was involved with was the selling of bull semen. Apparently lucrative and again, very Texan. Sly smiles and subdued chuckles all around.

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Outside the winery tasting room.

Winery 2

Inside the tasting room

Back on the road to stay on the timeline John and I had planned. We wandered the backroads through ranch land, rolling hills and occasional patches of Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes and Texas Longhorns. We found a nice little open field on a sharp corner turn for some quick photos on the way to meet the gang for lunch prior to the Aggie ring event. This year’s Bluebonnet display was nice but paled in comparison to last year’s trip to Muleshoe Bend near Johnson City.


We made it on time to College Station and gathered the gang up for lunch at Madden’s in Bryan, the town is melded to College Station. This party of 8 included my son Joe, an Aggie friend and former swimmer at Kingwood HS and A&M University, Austin, another Kingwood HS swimming friend, Steve and Steve’s girlfriend Alisa. Oh yes, and the four that started out on the journey. Great meal and great conversation until I said something about the Aggie gals at the winery and the phrase bull semen. Apparently I said it loud enough that some of the 8 at our table dipped their heads and folks around us spun their heads around in apparent disbelief, amazement….Oh well, not the first time I have been a little too frank or as some may say clueless, about my choice of words. Those who know me well shrugged it off as one of those “Bishop” moments.

The ring event was an efficiently run affair, an Aggie engineered event run by four hundred volunteers. The smile on my son’s face was well worth the trip. He is a Petroleum Engineering student and has now joined an amazing fraternity of Aggies. It will provide a powerful network for the future.

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My little son with his ring and with his proud parents!

OK, now for the beer. I violated the code. My wife Kathy knew where we were off to, but we kept the final surprise from Beverly. We did tell her we were heading toward Brenham, Texas. Lots of options there in her mind, antique shops, restaurants and the awesome Bluebell Ice Cream Factory. Word of warning….navigating the confusing streets in the downtown area is difficult and made more difficult with 3 navigators. We managed to find the Brewery and now the cat was out of the bag. Note to others heading that way, the sign on the outside of the patio area says Brenham Brewery but the real name is the Brazos Valley Brewery.

This is a very comfortable and unpretentious place. The friendliest people that you could ever imagine. I also learned that this 6 degrees of separation is much, much smaller. I have to tell the story. John had engaged a seasoned gentleman in conversation. In the conversation John shared that he and Bev were from Rhode Island and mentioned that Kathy and I were from California. Somehow during the conversation, Tom, the seasoned gentleman, asked where I lived in California. His response was, “I lived in Taft!” Small world! I told him that I was born in Taft….well we had a Taft conversation and world travels in the oil filed discourse…I hated to end the conversation, just for a short bit because the flight of beers I ordered were not getting any colder.

Here is my flight……Golden Ale, Silt Brown Ale, Black IPA and the Cream Ale. Very well brewed and more than drinkable. This is the first brewery where my wife uttered these words, “Every one of the beers I tried were very good. Not a bad beer in the bunch!” High praise from her as she can be a discerning beer drinker…OK – just a bit picky sometimes.

One of the Brewers and a man of great business sense, David Nowowiejski, took us on a personal tour of the brewery. Wow, clean and well organized. The man knows his stuff. He answered all my questions, and that is saying something because my wife always tells me I quiz the brewers too much in all of our visits! We bought two six-packs of the Golden Ale to bring home with us….my wife loves it and for a non IPA I enjoy it too!

I just have to mention….this place is one where you aren’t a stranger from the moment you step onto the patio. I will sing the praises and pass along great reviews to any and all beer drinkers I meet.

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L-R Old Man Bishop, Lovely wife Kathy, “Goo” friend John and his Lovely wife Bev. Selfie at the Brewery! Note the black eye my wife gave me has almost faded away! She didn’t really  mean to hit me.


Drink Local and Drink Responsibly,



Volunteerism and Tomatoes

I was in the garden this morning, April 6th my electric toothbrush Buzzing the tomato blossoms. Why…..? Read and find out why from an old post .

From My Backyard

Not sure about where to go with this concept but I will dive in. My compost piles gets pretty hot but not hot enough, apparently, to damage or disrupt the viability of tomatoes seeds. How do I know this? Well, almost every time I spread compost from my pile I see tomato sprouts in a week or so. They get weeded out and life goes on. This season one of these “volunteer” tomato sprouts managed to escape my evil weed pulling eye and was discovered at about 12 inches tall and very robust. Since I tend to be curious I let it go. It is now 6 + feet tall and loaded with small cherry style tomatoes with GREAT flavor. It is absolutely prolific, even as the day time temperatures are up near 90 F! I have never saved tomato seeds but I will be tempted this year.

I have…

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Inspiration before Perspiration

Sitting on the patio enjoying an almost perfect Houston evening. It is about 74 degrees F or 23 degrees C for the rest of the world, a cold home brew in my hand and chicken on the grill.


A small glass of my Honey Blonde Ale. My wife confronted me and asked if I was drinking “her beer”. I  had to admit, “Yes dear, I am”. Chill out Hun – it was only 8 ounces! Insert smiley happy face here! I was using a brewery sample glass from Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, Texas. Sure was good!

The chicken is smelling very good. @ $ 1.27 per pound!!!!   whole roasting chicken cut in half. Season with Lowry’s and garlic. Yum!


That describes the inspiration for my next brew, a Session IPA! Target ABV will be 4.6% or so. Hops, this is where I will get my thrills, 7 ounces of Mosaic Hops. Three of the seven will be used to dry hop the beer as it sits in the secondary fermenter. Six and half pounds of domestic two row malt, one pound of Munich malt, one pound of domestic wheat malt and a half pound of 40L crystal malt.

Mashing and hopping schedule will be run through Beersmith and reported out on brew day, possibly tomorrow or the next day. (Wednesday doesn’t look good so it will be Thursday February 18th.)

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Celebrating with Ashleigh

Yesterday my daughter Ashleigh turned 31! Well, I did the grilling for the event and, as most of the guests, we enjoyed some good beers. My Honey Blonde Ale homebrew was well received in addition to other craft beer offerings. 

For this special night I broke out a bottle of an Imperial Stout from Marble Brewery in Albuquerque,  New Mexico. What a great beer to help Ashleigh celebrate her 31st! Love you Ashleigh! Black as night, great head and very warming. 

We finished the evening sipping on my homemade Limoncello. I think that was a bit over the top for both of us! Very sweet, lemony and a hint of “Everclear” used for the base. It warms all the way down! 

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly