Into the New Year

Looking back over the past year has been interesting. From my beer blogging efforts I posted 57 blog entries in 2012 – this one makes 58. That is about one per week. I will attempt to be more consistent – I had a few hiatus periods – not those gaps in the geologic record but gaps in my efforts. In 2012 there were approximately 2000 views of the postings. My goal for 2013 is to exceed 10,000 views! Lofty goal but with the help of readers that like what I  do and contacting other like-minded readers I think it may be possible! I added 115 pictures over the course of the year and with my love of photography I aim to do more as well as improve the quality of my offerings.

So why brew…..

  • It is a creative outlet that dovetails into my love of good beer
  • Satisfaction – both personal as well as the common compliment – “You really made that beer!” – don’t you just love that?
  • Get to spend time chatting up other brewers to expand my knowledge and horizons
  • Experimentation ! New hops, new techniques, new recipes, new friends and new satisfactions
  • Being my kind of environmentalist…..I am recycling beer bottles, sending the spent grains back to mother earth via my compost pile and no packaging sent to the landfills. Now I will admit to adding to the CO2 load on the atmosphere – the fermentation process produces both the much desired alcohol as well as CO2.
  • I don’t pay taxes on my beverages – I save about 20 cent per gallon of beer, that’s a whole dollar for a standard 5 gallon batch. Maybe I shouldn’t say that out loud – the Federal Government might see this as an opportunity or revenue stream!
  • I have fun brewing…..usually sampling one of my brews or a craft brew by someone else!
  • Apocalypse contingency planning – I picked that one up from someone else…I can’t take credit for that idea but I can certainly subscribe to it.
  • The knowledge gained by brewing can become a great conversation starter in brew pubs, taprooms, microbreweries and some of the finer libation locations with both the staff and others of like mind
  • Maintains the links with antiquity – perpetuating historical and primitive urges to please both the brain and the palate.
  • For my health – in moderation it is good for me and secondly additive free – no preservatives and other gobbledygook that shows up on labels….if you read them!
  • Ah…..The Pride Factor

Can’t wait for this batch a mature a little more – seems that I have heard some similar words from my wife referring to some of my behaviors! I think my behaviors sometimes cause her lament as seen in the background to the right in the photo!

5 gallons of my Imperial Stout, boubon infused and toasted oak resting on the bottom. Note the bourbon in the airlock!

5 gallons of my Imperial Stout, bourbon infused and toasted oak resting on the bottom. Note the bourbon in the airlock!

Drink local, patronize the craft brewers and drink responsibly




Pumpkin Ale is In the Bottle

Two days ago I managed to get a window of time and bottle the Pumpkin Ale. The process went smooth…sanitized the kitchen and equipment, kept my hands away from those unsanitary places, no nose picking or scratching the nether lands! One of the simple lessons learned from the local store, Backyard Homebrewers and Education Center, was the use of a misting spray bottle filled with the sanitizer used for the equipment. It comes in very handy.

After struggling with the house being warmer than I want for the fermentation period I now struggle with the house being a bit too cool for the conditioning period for the bottled Pumpkin Ale! I may need to get the heating pad out for a few days to get the Ale off to a good start. The sample pulled to check the final gravity was sampled by my son Ben and his good friend Chuck Ciliske. Chuck is a West Point grad in town in order to get married on the 30th! Both young men gave the sample good marks with the comment that the pumpkin flavor was not overwhelming. I agreed as I tossed back the remaining few sips. The final gravity came in at a very nice 1.010….. the calculated ABV should be somewhere around 5%. A nice beer to drink without getting too toasty.

I can’t remember if I mentioned sampling the Imperial Stout on Christmas Day? Just a bit of CRS cropping up…..It had been nearly a month since my last taster and the beer is mellowing nicely. I still think the 6 month mark is the target date for sharing with friends. I may set a few bottles back and let them mature for more than a year or so, available for Christmas and New Year’s Eve in 2013. I have one bottle that escaped consumption from my December 2010 batch…..being held for Ben’s graduation from LSU in May of 2013.

Pefect philosophy -

Perfect philosophy –

The only bad beer is no beer!

Drink local and drink responsibly!



Quick Beer Update

I just returned from California and peeked at the secondary holding my pumpkin ale. If I can convince my wife I will bottle it tomorrow and clean up the corner of the bedroom set up as my fermenting location. I think she may agree if I make an additional promise or two!

Bakersfield, as you know from my previous posts, has a local brewery that I really enjoy, unfortunately I did not find the time to swing by. At least I avoided Coors and Budweiser products and sampled a few good beers, Firestone, Widmer Brothers, Sam Adams of several varieties and a Pyramid Wheat Beer.

My wife picked me up at the airport and let me have lunch at the Brickhouse….I had a cask beer. Served cool from the cask, hand drawn and flavored by the live yeast. It was a very smooth beer. Need to go back and check out the rest of the offerings!!!!

If I don’t post before Christmas…I want all y’all to have a Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2002 in Midland Texas....

Christmas 2002 in Midland Texas….


Local local and drink responsibly!


Homebrew and Venison Burgers – life is just too damn good!

Last night I made a variation of my famous hamburger recipe using some ground venison from a deer my son shot a few weeks ago. To aid in the process and because I didn’t have to drive, I had 2 pints of my IPA, just an OK IPA but still drinkable, and two pints of my Dirty Honey Blonde Ale, it gets better the longer it sits. It has just a hint of a banana flavor from fermenting too warmly at 75-76 degrees F. I need to solve that problem for future batches(CFO must approve the expenditure though). The current batch of pumpkin ale has benefitted from cooler temperatures and I chose yeast that works well at that temperature.

The burgers – the last grilling effort resulted in burgers that tasted great but did not hang together as well as they should have. This time around I used 2 lbs. of venison, two eggs, A1, Worcestershire, Lawry’s Seasoning salt and Garlic salt. I put the eggs and sauces in a blender for a bit to mix them well and added to the meat. Seasoned, mixed well and formed into 6 – 1/3 lbs. Bambi burgers. They were just simply awesome and made better by the pleasure of my homebrew.

Burgers almost ready!

Burgers almost ready!


Dirty Honey Blonde Ale needing my attention.

Sizzling away. They smell so good!

Sizzling away. They smell so good!

In the kitchen now - Burgers were great!

In the kitchen now – Burgers were great!

Drink local or make your own!

Drink Responsibly!



Pumpkin Ale

I wrote about frost on the pumpkin this morning for my gardening blog…..a little more philosophical than usual this morning but came on the heals of racking my Pumpkin Ale into the secondary yesterday evening. I should really call it “Cinderella Pumpkin Ale” as it was brewed with fresh pumpkin puree that I prepared from one of my wife’s fall decorative pumpkins. They are usually discarded once the season ends but I chose to make use of at least one of them. Two more are still firm and available for rescue.

Back to the ale, it started at about 1.056 original gravity and checked in at 1.015 when I racked it into the carboy(uncorrected gravities). It should be an easy beer to drink at around 5.6% ABV plus or minus a little. I had my oldest son and wife sample the ale from the graduated cylinder and both agree that it is pretty tasty. I want it to clean up pretty well before bottling. There was a good two inches of yeast and puree debris at the bottom of the primary and still a bit cloudy. May let it clean-up until after Christmas before bottling.

Last night I was treated to a great evening by my wife…….no, not like that! She bought some tickets for the US Women’s soccer match vs. China here in Houston last night. My daughter and three good friends joined us for some pre-match beers at the Flying Saucer downtown. It always a bit crowded and noisy and we almost could not find a place for the 6 of of us to sit together. The evening chill wasn’t too bad so we grabbed a table out side. Quieter, except when the Metro Train whizzed by on Main St. I added three new beers to my list, tossed the keys to my wife, the DD and off we went to the match.

USA, USA, USA was the common chant and we weren’t disappointed. We missed the first 15 or so minutes circling to find a parking spot but arrived just in time to see Abby Wambach put a signature header into the back of the net. She had another unassisted goal in the second half as the US side ran away with a 4-0 win. It was cold enough that the 24 oz. can of Tecate lasted almost the entire match and stayed cold!

The Cinderella Pumpkin was huge so I wound up with puree to spare….so , rather than brew 20 gallons of Pumpkin Ale I put some in the freezer and used some to make the Pumpkin bread shown below. Pretty danged good….especially on day two and beyond! It seems that the flavors mature as it site….hmmmmm, kinda like good beer, eh?

Yum, very nice. Made two loaves and have plenty to make more!

Yum, very nice. Made two loaves and have plenty to make more!

Drink local and responsibly!



Beer Travels

My beer blogging efforts have been pretty slim over the past month or so but that does not mean I haven’t thought about, dreamed about, consumed or made any beer. I have been traveling, primarily to Bakersfield California, home of Lengthwise Brewing. I am a big fan of their Centennial IPA. It is not crazy hoppy, just a great balance of the bitter and the aromas. I have visited the pub out in the Rosedale area three times during this past month. Besides their offerings they always have a few guest beers from the western US. One of the guest beers was the Hop Notch form Uinita Brewing in Salt Lake City, Utah. Good but not as good as the home town offering!

This past week I was in Paso Robles for two nights. My occasional workmate, Alan would have been right in his element. Paso is becoming one of the best red wine districts in the country. For Alan, the Paso area would be reminiscent of our experience in the Margret River area in Western Australia….great wines, no crowds and a great tasting room experience – The Paso winery for fun, great wine and great service is Tobin James. Isn’t this supposed to be about beer? Oh yes, Paso, home to Firestone Walker and that is the real story.

I have enjoyed the Firestone offerings for many years now but have never made the stop. This trip my partner was Murray and he does love his beer. We went to the Taproom Restaurant adjacent to the brewery. It was a great casual place, brewery themed and staffed by some great people. Tiffani was assigned to us and she was delightful, knowledgeable and provided outstanding service. I started off with the Taproom IPA. How would my kids text it?….OMG!!!! ….. That sums it up. The first thing that I noticed was the heavenly hop aroma before it even touched my lips, I paused, savored the aroma and then let my tongue enjoy the beverage. I then tried the Velvet Merlin, an Oatmeal Stout, recommended by Erica at the Courtyard Marriott hotel. It was pretty darned good.

Tiffani recommended the seared Ahi Tuna which Murray ordered and I chose the salmon. Both were excellent. The only question that went unanswered for the evening was which hops were used in the Taproom IPA. Tiffani didn’t know, the brewmaster had headed home 30 minutes before our arrival, Rob the manager also didn’t know and last but not least, Milt (capacity unknown) swung by and although very chatty, he didn’t know either! Tiffani brought by two small brandy snifters of a barrel aged DBA – oh my – it was superb. Now our interest was piqued and I asked about the Walker Reserve, Parabola, a barrel aged Imperial Stout – the 2011 was $ 55.00 for a 22 oz bottle and the 2012 was $ 35.00. We decide to go big! Before I could ask where I could buy it on the outside I was informed that I couldn’t…it has to be sold and consumed on site.

Parabola - Barrel aged Imperial Stout from Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, CA

Parabola – Barrel aged Imperial Stout from Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, CA – iPhone photo

It was absolutely outstanding. Murray noted that was akin to indulging in a very good Port after dinner. It felt so good in the mouth and the complexity of flavors was heavenly. All we needed was some good dark chocolate and it would have been complete. Note: Alan, the only non-beer drinking Australian I know, you would enjoy this “beer” – it really goes well beyond beer, We shared a glass with Tiffani, I hope the management won’t frown on her sharing a bit of this fantastic bottle!

A quick google search for the best barrel aged Imperial Stouts showed the Firestone Walker’s Parabola in first place amongst the voters and Goose Island from Chicago holding down the second place spot. I need to contact my nephew in Chicago to see if he can score a bottle or two for me!

I am drinking a test bottle of the Imperial Stout I brewed about 4 months ago. It is pretty tasty but will benefit from a few more months in the bottle. I will rack my Cinderella Pumpkin Ale to the secondary tomorrow. I have high expectations of this brew. Reading beer mags during the past week I discovered a brewing technique that I want to explore….. SmaSh brewing……single malt, single hop with a variation of maybe a single specialty grain…..could be an interesting experiment!

My young Imperial Stout - yum but has some time to go!

My young Imperial Stout – yum but has some time to go!


Drink Local and Drink Responsibly!