The rain will be heavy off and on over the next several days. I have cucumbers needing support along with tomato vines. My plans to lay sod are shot for the week so plan B is is to cut some plugs from healthy patches of grass and moving them into the more bare spots. Potatoes are looking very, very healthy. My poor bees….. foraging is greatly diminished, heavy rain reduces nectar available as well as the pollen. They will be put a little behind on my schedule……but my schedule is not on their calendar….LOL.
Our many dozens of customers wanting honey will hopefully be patient…..
I have made 4 or 5 Russian Imperial Stouts since I first began brewing in 1991. I have always used charred dark oak spirals that had been soaked in bourbon and added to the secondary fermenter for up to 3 months. Every batch has produced very drinkable and enjoyable stouts. The last batch was one that I ignored for several years, the last 22 ounce bombers were 6 years old when consumed at the beginning of 2023. the beer seemed to continue maturing to the “not bitter end”! The complexity of flavors never ceases to amaze me. The last bottle was shared with a handful of folks at DECA Beer Company, the head brewer Cody was loving the slight molasses aroma, obviously from the use of brown sugar to prime the beers.
Beer lesson……priming homebrewed beers that that are bottles. I batch prime my beers when I bottle rather than add sugar to each bottle….a lot less messy. If it is not and Imperial Stout, I use corn sugar to prime. How much sugar? Well that depends on the style and and amount of carbonation desired. There charts galore out on the web to help new brewers figure out how much sugar, and yes, you can use many different fermentable sugars. How do I batch prime. I will take two cups of water….microwave it until it is plenty hot, add in the measured amount of sugar and stir to dissolve. I then cover sugar water and let it cool before pouring it into the bottling bucket. As the beer siphons out of my fermenter into the bottling bucket it mixes uniformly and well….the residual yeast in the beer eats up the sugar, adding negligible alcohol but primarily creates the CO2 required for the beer.
Many beers once primed and bottled can be ready to drink 14-21 days later. My Imperial Stouts take a lot more time, not necessarily to ferment, but to properly age and mature. Months and months down the road and continues to mature actually for years.
I would love to pick up a 5 gallon bourbon barrel for my home use. They can be found…..pricey maybe, but I think I will bite the bullet and attempt to really, really, barrel age my next batch. I would like to think that the depth and complexity of the beers will be amazing to say the least. I found this great guide that will help me out in that endeavor as well as give y’all a look at how it is done….lots of good info in the article and resources too. Enjoy……
I bottled about 5 gallons of the stout this week. It is inky black and for a beer that has yet to mature, it has great flavor….I giggled a bit when I wrote the title…..it is a bit of a reflection on me…..I consider myself to still be in maturing mode but some folks, including my wife, think my maturing was somehow mostly arrested many years ago…..my physical maturity has been marching along and has begun to make the downhill sprint…..if you can call it a sprint….LOL, into my “Golden Years”.
My Russian Imperial Stout was brewed with a grain bill that slightly exceeded the recommended maximum for my Grainfather system….20 pounds max and I went with 20 pounds and 8 ounces of grain….doesn’t sound like much, but trust me…..it was over the limit. The original gravity was a little lower than I expected…I was shooting for something in the 1.090 SG and hit 1.085. Final gravity was 1.019 SG so not too bad. 8.7% and was hoping for 9.3 %.
Once into the secondary fermenter I add some dark toasted oak spirals that had been soaked in Bourbon. Last 4 batches this was the procedure. Always loved the results. As noted above…..maturity will be somewhere down the road so……I gotta be patient….not my long suit. Most of the beer went into 22 or 20 ounce bottles. I bottled 6.75 – 12 ounce bottles that will be used to gauge the maturing process. I took the 3/4 filled 12 ounce bottle down to my local brewery, DECA, here in Porter, Texas. Surprisingly feed back from beer connoisseurs was positive, even though it has a long ways to go. I and everyone else was expecting the beer to have a hot taste, i.e., the taste of alcohol coming through but it was actually a pleasant taste. Note: the beer was primed prior to bottling with 3 ounces of dark brown sugar. It will ad to the beer’s complexity upon maturation.
The stout definitely turned out inky black and dark, albeit with great early flavor.
So now the schedule is set, one 12 ounce bottle every 3 months until the proper level of maturity is reached…..Obviously long before I reach my proper level of maturity.
Yesterday my buddy John dropped by as he often does for a cold beer. We alternate patio sitting so yesterday was my turn. I knew he would like a nice pour of my Simcoe SMaSH IPA……
I pulled two 20 ounce glasses out of the freezer, set one under tap number one featuring my “outstanding” Simcoe SMaSH IPA….there I go again with self congratulation! Mini lesson here, when pouring beer, always pull the tap handle into the fully open position. Why, a partially open valve creates a larger pressure drop at the tap and causes much more foaming of the beer than necessary. I sat the big glass under the tap, pulled it full open and dang it, just short of 14-16 ounces the keg ran dry. No problem, I give John the good beer and I will take a pour of the Session Ale. At about 2 ounces poured the Session Ale keg blew empty……dang it. Sorry John……no full beer for you. I took a portion of his and we had even amounts……sadly.
Well, now my brewing plans need revision! My kegerator is empty. Life is not good….I do have some options! When I built my kegerator system I bought a Sankey valve connector and added hardware to connect it with ball lock fittings. In simple terms it means I can pick up a commercial keg requiring a Sankey valve and hook it right up!!!!!!I have a special keg ordered from my favorite local brewery, DECA Beer Company, the Mosaic SMaSH…..cant wait till it is ready.
I need to shift gears and put a succession plan together for my empty kegerator. IPA’s are at the top of my list, my wife has slowed down on her beer drinking so I will likely focus on my tastes, my buddy John’s tastes, he is a fan of IPA’s and also some of the good lighter versions, and my beer drinking sons. My son Ben likes the Dank West Coast style IPA’s as do I. At my age, 72 and counting, I could probably benefit by having some lower calorie and less potent beers on tap. So, IPA’s of some sort soon to be brewed.
As for my Russian Imperial Stout, bottling day is on the calendar for April 23rd or thereabouts. Almost all will be bottled in 22 ounce bombers but 4 or so will be in 12 ounce glasses to help judge the aging process every 3 months. Progress notes will be coming…..I promise no more long hiatuses.
I have this beer on tap in my kegerator now and everyday that I walk into the garage it whispers to me……”Bishop, come closer and grab a frozen mug! Pour a pint and enjoy it!” It takes all of my willpower to resist…..not that I have a lot of willpower when it comes to very good beer……Yes, I am patting myself on the back. So, on or around February 8th or so….It really isn’t a memory problem, it is about me not adding the proper notes to my brew sheet!
I did make a note that original specific gravity was 1.061, alas no date. Yeast was pitched on 1/22/23, WLP001 California Ale yeast. Pat myself on the back for that. I will now have to trust my memory on the next important part, final specific gravity, my memory has it at 1.012, which calculates out to about 6.4% ABV……several tastings of multiple pints seems to confirm the ABV….LOL. My previous blog post pegs the transfer to the secondary fermenter on January 29, 2023……So kegging was around February 7-8. First photo of a pint+ sized was February 11th……so…… relatively close on my time line….I will add those notes to the brew sheet and ask for your support and not calling me a liar.
Tasting, although my good buddy John does stoke (wasn’t sure if I wanted to use the word stroke here so I opted for stoke so as to not hear some of your giggles) my ego once in awhile, he pronounced this beer in the top 3 or so of my beers brewed…..he has liked a lot of my previous beers so I will accept his compliment. It was slightly over carbonated, but after relocating my CO2 bottle outside of the kegerator the low pressure gauge seems to respond better and hold the set pressures better. It now pours with a beautiful head!!!!!!
Now on to bigger and better things……a very big beer that nearly overwhelmed the capacity of my Grainfather System. I is rated at 20 pounds of grain and I managed 20.5 pounds……so, it was a struggle. It is a Russian Imperial Stout with dark toasted oak spirals soaked in good bourbon. The beer is in the secondary now, this will allow the spirals to sit for 8 weeks and impart magical flavors and mellowness to the beer and then bottle it in 22 ounce bombers. I am not kegging this beer. It looks like it will be between 10% and 11% ABV. The story on this beer soon!!!!!!!
First the update. Yesterday on day 8, I managed to rack from the primary fermenter into the glass carboy secondary fermenter. I added 1 ounce of Simcoe hops for dry hopping. Even after 8 days the beer was still a bit busy fermenting, as indicated by the gravity of the beer. I had been expecting something in the neighborhood of 1.012 or less and the beer was 1.021. The primary still had a busy looking krausen …… I figured what the heck, rather than closing it up and waiting a few more days I went ahead and racked it over to the secondary with the understating that it would still be bubbling pretty actively. The sample I pulled to check the gravity was not wasted, slightly sweet on the backend but very nice aroma and color was perfect. Note to self here…..this beer will need serious cold crashing prior to kegging…..At my age that may require and reminder plugged into my smart phone,,,,,if I don’t forget!…… FYI – I added it to Monday February 6th at 1:00 PM. Yee Haw!
Wandering musings……some of you are craft beer savvy and you understand the term SMaSH. If not it simply means the simple process of brewing with a single malt(malted grain) and a single variety if hops. A little more……
The desired end-product affects the malting process, but the basic steps involved in malting include:
1. Harvest: Gathering, cleaning, and drying the grains is the first step in malting. Since ancient Mesopotamia, the most common malted grain is barley. Malt makers or maltsters can malt all kinds of grains, but barley remains a popular staple.
2. Soak: Soaking or steeping the grains involves submerging the grains in water. The enzymes activate and set off chemical changes as the grains absorb water.
3. Germinate: When the grains reach a specific moisture content, maltsters drain the excess moisture and sprouting begins. The starches in the grains convert into sugars, such as monosaccharide glucose, disaccharide maltose, and maltodextrin, among others. Specialized enzymes called proteases help break down the grains’ protein into different forms, including amino acids, that yeast can consume.
4. Dry: At a certain point, the maltster halts the chemical transformations of the green malt with air and heat. This preserves the germinated grain in its new, changed state with the right combination of starch, protein, and sugar.
5. Roast: Some malts, such as those for certain types of beer brewing, roast in an oven or kiln. This additional heating process creates further changes in the nutritional profile of the grain, affecting the fermentation process and altering the flavor of the finished product.”
OK, that may be TMI but I am sure someone may want to know. So now the term malted grain is established . Now for hops.
Last of the TMI stuff. Lets talk about my Simcoe SMaSH and a little more. This is my third or fourth beer brewed in the SMaSH mode. The first couple were Mosaic Hops and Marris Otter malt. Feed back from my buddies indicate that it was a very drinkable beer with good flavor and great aroma…..Yes! I selected Mosaic primarily because of the amazing aroma but also for the fact it can also be a good bittering hop used at the beginning of the boil. Subsequent additions are later in the boil so as to maximize the aromas as well as a dose of dry hopping in the secondary fermenter. If you need to know…..go ahead and google “dry hopping” my musings going forward will attempt to avoid too much TMI. Marris Otter malt is very flavorful, has a bit darker color than if using a pale malt and a slight malty flavor that my oldest son doesn’t particularly like….Children are to be spoiled……even at 32 years of age. So, I used Golden Promise malt for the Simcoe SMaSH ……hopefully the taste will be in Ben’s preferred flavor profile. My sample seems to meet that criteria. A musing of sorts. I assumed criteria was singular but I googled it and learned that it is the plural of criterion. Really old dogs can learn new tricks. And I am a really old dog!!!!!!
Let me wander a little further…..next up on my brewing list is a Russian Imperial Stout with whiskey barrel aging as part of the process. Deeper explanations in a future blog posting. Suffice it to say that it will be a higher ABV beer in the 11% or higher range, will not be worth drinking until it is well beyond a year old and will do nothing more than age very nicely just as the blog’s author…..smiling broadly, I do believe that I have aged well. My last batch was brewed in 2016 and bottled in 22 ounce bombers. The last two bottles were consumed very recently. An old neighbor and homebrewer shared one with his wife this past December and the very last one was shared with folks down at DECA Beer company along with a Russian Imperial stout brewed in 2017 by Cody Evans, Chief Brewer and he holds so many flunky titles at the brewery that I won’t mention them. We had been attempting the taste off and sharing for quite some time. Both beers received high marks from patrons and brewers alike. My beer had been primed with brown sugar which imparted a faint aroma of molasses and was surprisingly good. Keep you eyes open for more down the road.
Brewed this beer January 22nd 2023, after a fairly long break from brewing….The Avery Clone IPA was the last beer I brewed and kegged. If you read my last post you know that it disappeared too quickly. I have brewed a Mosaic SMaSH IPA several times in the past and decided to go with Simcoe hops for this SMaSH…..I love the aroma and the flavors come through very nicely….
A little about Simcoe Hops from Yakima Valley Hops web site;
“At 12%-14% Alpha Acid, Simcoe® has great bittering qualities, but also packs a complex aroma of stone fruit, pine, and citrus zest. It truly is a dual purpose hop that is capable of standing on its own in single-hopped beers in a wide range of styles.”
When I pulled the sample to determine the original gravity, 1.064 to be exact, I dipped my nose in for a whiff and by golly Yakima was right! Secondly the flavor was very, very pleasant a little sweet but to be expected as unfermented wort should be sweet. As the sugars in the wort are devoured by the “yeasties” the sweetness disappears and the magic of conversion to beer happens. I have very high hopes for this beer.
Brew day did not go as smooth as I would have liked…..I have a 110 Volt Grainfather G30 system. Overall I love it but……brew day was pretty damned cold for Houston and the wind was stiff. I brew outside because my wife does not like the smell of boiling wort in the house, I think it is rather pleasant but….I make some sacrifices to maintain harmony in the house. The mash went very smooth, the equipment held the 165 degree F mash temp perfectly. The system’s pump worked perfectly for the Vorlauf process. During Vorlauf and sparging I ran the set temperature up to 212 degrees F. One drawback of the 110 Volt system is the slower heating rates as compared to the 220 Volt systems.
I use my propane burner to heat the sparge water, 170 degrees F was the recommended tempearture. I was patient and sparged at a rate to rinse as much sugar out of the grain bed as was expected. As I was sparging the temperature was coming up very slowly…….too slowly. I pulled out my electric paint stripping gun and plugged it into a separate circuit in order to not to blow a fuse. It helped, I ran it on high setting on the lower sides of the pot….and slowly the pot came up to a good rolling boil. Added 0.5 ounces of Simcoe for 60 minutes. Next addition of Simcoe was 1.0 ounce at the 15 minute remaining mark and 1.5 ounces at the 5 minute remaining mark. Added ½ of a whirlfloc tablet at that same time in order to help precipitate haze-causing proteins and beta glucans resulting in a clearer wort.
Then a set back and change of process now that the beer had boiled for the required 60 minutes. I attached my counter flow chiller and attempted to pump hot wort through the coils and back into the pot to sanitize the coil. The pump had worked perfectly when I ran it to Vorlauf but for some reason the pump would not move any fluid…..I was at a standstill …… I disconnected the fittings to see if there was clog and I could not see a problem. Started and stopped the pump multiple times……no dice. I could hear it sounding like it was running but no output……I need to get the wort cooled and into my fermenting bucket.
Plan B now. The wort is at a specific gravity of 1.064 X 8.345 pounds of water per gallon X 6 gallons equals about 53.27 pound of liquid plus the weight of the pot. I had to now lift this hot and awkward mess up onto platform of some sort in order to make plan B work……siphon the wort into my fermenting bucket. I did utter some strong words, tested my 71 year old back and pain tolerance to hot surfaces, but did manage to gain the necessary height to allow the siphon to work. I pumped very hot wort through the siphon hose and equipment and back into the wort to sanitize it all……then successfully filled the fermenting bucket.
Got it all situated and placed in a 66-68 degree location to best allow the yeast to do it’s work. Took a couple of Tylenol as a preventative for potential back pain and waited overnight to add the yeast. I usually like to cool the wort much more quickly and add the yeast once it is all down below 80 degrees F. Yeast was added this morning and by this evening there was good indication of bubbles and active fermentation. Now, one of my challenges is being patient to allow nature to do its work.
Next step will be transferring to a secondary fermenter and adding 1.5 ounces of Simcoe hops for dry hopping. After 7 days I will cold crash it to 34-35 degrees and transfer to a keg. Then carbonate, be patient again and then enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Lesson learned and a discovery. The wort was at boiling temperature when I turned the pump on and with a little research the pump suction creates a lowered pressure and likely vapor locked the pump. Lesson learned ….be patient……turn the heat off, wait a bit then turn on the pump. During cleanup there was a bit of brew trash in the discharge check valve but probably not enough to stop flow. Note to self……understand my sometimes lack of patience and chill old man!!!!!!
SMaSH – a beer brewed with a single malt and a single hop……in this case Golden Promise Malt and Simcoe hops…..Yum
My post from October 29th was all about the making of my Avery Clone IPA and I had promised a timely update…….well, I failed, but not completely. The untimely demise of the beer was not unexpected. It was sadly, one of the best beers of this type I have ever brewed. The final kegging was just a bit shy of 5 gallons which should have been satisfactory.
After kegging and slowly carbonating the beer it was time to pull the first cold glass of IPA heavenly essence. I pulled the first glass and, although cloudy as it had picked up a bit of settled sediment off the bottom, I knew by the aroma that it was going to be excellent. I had to invite my good friend John over to help with first impressions. Well first impressions lead to some serious sampling and we put a dent into that 5 gallons of heavenly essence.
Our first session of this 6.3 % ABV beer was thoroughly enjoyed, much to the chagrin of my wife, but we were too far into our discussions on how friggin good this beer was to really care. Yes, it was good….After our third pints each, John figured he needed to stop there and take the short two block drive home…..good idea John….Me on the other hand……well it was a mellow evening.
I stopped after the third pint and filled this very nice and large and frozen mug of liquid joy, bottom photo. I was one happy camper. The beer was excellent, the comradery was fun as always, the compliments were heady and, yes went to my head……both compliments and the alcohol. Sorry Hun it is just the way I am with really good beers. Happily she tolerates my obsession with good beers…..as long as I behave properly!
This is not a session beer but…..I/we/they and others did not treat it as a session beer. Our sessions with this beer put a rosy color on our cheeks and a chuckle into even the lamest of jokes. It was a sad afternoon when I went out to pull a nice pint and the keg became empty……but pleasantly, the pint glass was full enough when it blew. A little murky off the bottom but yes, tasty enough to finish.
Some observations on this beer beyond its potent essence. It has…..no, had, a nice thick frothy head. The aroma was spot on and not overwhelming. It was properly bitter without a bite. Secondary flavors were smooth and pleasant. Nice lace on the glass delineating every wonder pull of the beer also indicating a very clean glass holding a nice frothy head of beer. It begs to be brewed again.
My son and wife came into town for a quick visit. He is also into homebrewing and he and wife both love to explore craft beers. The doors on Sunday open at 11:00 and we were nearly first in line. We had an early lunch to facilitate their drive back home to Corpus Christi. They do have a very good food menu and a nice selection of beers.
If you noticed my selections for the flight I ordered were on the heavy side for ABV, Double and Imperial IPA’s…..I did have a driver LOL. I decided to educate myself so I am including a description from bsgcraftbrewing.com
“Double IPA or Imperial IPA? What’s the difference?
Short answer? Nothing.
Double IPA and Imperial IPA are in fact the same thing; an IPA that’s been turned up to eleven. Some believe the origin of the name “Double IPA” comes from the extra “I” in the abbreviation of Imperial IPA (IIPA). Imperial on the other hand is a term often used in beer to denote big flavor and high alcohol.”
My impressions….The Rodeo Clown Double IPA, good but almost ordinary in flavor. It is smooth to drink but I wouldn’t put it high on my go to list. The Rodeo Clown Imperial Tropical IPA comes through with Citra, Galaxy, Comet and Mosaic hops. The impression I picked up was more to the citrusy side with a pleasant bitterness. . The Rodeo Clown Imperial Hazy IPA was my favorite of the the first three. The hops were a broad mix including Motueka, El Dorado, Mosaic, Sabro, Melon, Citra and Amarillo. These are a good mix of aroma hops and dual purpose hops that work well for this nice hazy IPA.
The BBH, Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter, choices were very good. The first, BBH Eggnog, brewed with Katz Coffee eggnog flavored coffee and aged in bourbon barrels. Very smooth and easy to drink. this one is one of those evening ending beers to be shared in small glasses LOL… especially at 11.5% ABV. The BBH Mole was my favorite and it comes in at 11.8% and slightly more dangerous, but already well into the dangerous range. This ale is brewed with chilis, cinnamon, clove, and chocolate. Very well done! Karbach does a great job with the BBH series but in my professional beer drinking experience/opinion, the Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles has the very best selection of barrel aged beers and an amazing mix diversity of offerings…….sorry Karbach, but, that said your BBH series ales are top notch.
On the lower end of the ABV scale Karbach has many great offerings and Hopadillo is one of my favorite beers…..consistent, hoppy in a very good way and pleasant to drink. Love Street is a nice summer beer and in honor of the Astros going to the World Series again, the Crawford Bock referencing the Crawford Box Seats…..Left field and recipient of many Astros dingers. Oh yes……it is and excellent beer to drink at Minute Maid Park. The Karbach Clutch City links back to the glory days of the Houston Rockets. It too is a nice easy drinking beer.
Gotta give a thumbs up to the food menu at the brewery. Good choices, portions are reasonable and they pair well with many of the beers. I had family with me on this visit, wife, daughter and youngest son with his bride. The beers ordered were diverse as well as the food choice ordered. Overall a great place to bring family and friends…..and yes we will be back.
I apologize a bit to a beekeeping acquaintance of mine here in Texas as he has named his business “At it Again Apiaries”…….so, I just appropriated a portion of the name. That said, it has both been too long since I last brewed and also too long since I last posted. Up date, I have an Avery IPA clone sitting in the secondary, dry hopped and I started the cold crash yesterday before kegging tomorrow. The gravity targets from the recipe were hit dead on. It was 1.056 for the starting gravity and 1.012 for the ending gravity…….sample tasted wonderful.
Sadly my local beer supply store closed a few months ago and I have resorted to online ordering. The online experience has been hit or miss. I have tried Austin Homebrew Supply and Northern Brewer. The excuses revolve around labor shortages and supply chain issues……I am more concerned about having room in my kegerator for two more beers so, I am learning to be more patient. Tomorrow I should be carbonating the Avery clone but the next beer, or should I say planned beer is a SMaSH with Golden Promise grain and Simcoe hops…….dangit…..may not get it started until sometime next week. That is if the remaining ingredients show up.
I hate to say it but part of the delay is my fault. The grain bill calls for 12 pounds of Golden Promise, in the drop down box I apparently did not click hard enough on 12 and they order went out as 1 pound. I did have a second chance to review my order at checkout, but guess what, senior moment, and I did not correct my mistake. So I have compounded the delivery issues……nuff said and you can stop giggling any time you want!
The Avery clone was an all grain kit from Austin Homebrew Supply…..they did a decent job getting the supplies here on a reasonable amount of time. A browse through the products section does highlight notable amounts of “out of stock” tags but over all not too bad. I did resort to going to the “Grainfather” site for parts I needed before brewing the Avery clone. The connections on the inlet to the pump and discharge side of the pump had gone bad. Fortunately the discharge tube leaked badly as I was cleaning and prepping and not during the brewing process, averting a catastrophic event!. It delayed the Avery IPA clone by about a week.
I will promise to update all y’all in a timely matter once in the keg and properly carbonated….and wish I could share some with y’all – you will just have to rely on my words and your imagination. Trust me…