End of Houston’s Big Brew Weekend

We, my wife and I, poured beer Friday night in the Texas Brewers portion of the event. Friday was college football and all good things associated.

Today is Sunday and the day started off by cheering my daughter on in her second half Marathon and fittingly ended in front of the Karbach beer stand! They were out of beer but my wife planned ahead and we had frozen strawberries and several beers on ice for my daughter and her running mate.

This evening is now spent with some NFL football, grilling a pork loin and sipping on my homebrewed Belgian Wit. Life is pretty darned good I’d say!

An evening cool enough in Houston that has me in my insulated flip flops and no mosquitoes! Note pumpkin theme behind the glass.

Daughter and her running mate photo bombed by the Karbach crew.


Drink Local and Drink Responsibly


Big Brew Houston

My wife and I worked the Austin Beerworks booth for the Friday night session. What a hoot. Beer lovers are the very best kind of people to hang out with. Far less pretentious than some other kinds of events! Nuff said!

I was proud of how well my wife picked up the lingo and actually became a great salesperson for the brewery. She loved the Pearlsnap, a German style Pils and their Peace Maker, a light easy to drink session ale. The Peacemaker is also available in their famous “99” pack on rare occasions! Their Black Thunder is a nice malty German Schwarz beer! The brewery has a small distribution area but has a fan base that craves their beer. Count me amongst them! Their Fire Eagle, a strong American Pale Ale, took 2nd place at this year’s GABF! I understand why!


Their seasonal IPA, Heavy Machinery, was probably the best beer I sampled all night! Yes, we were able to cruise around and sample some great Texas beers.

The craft beer world is amazing! We had visits from other Brewers at the show and the respect they have for competitors is truly amazing. They all show respect and admiration for other practitioners of the craft!

Drink Local & Drink Responsibly



The Brew is On


I am making my first all-grain version of my Golden Wheat Red IPA. The first two batches were partial grain recipes. The first one was good, the second one was awesome! As I am typically prone to do, I will tweak the recipe, take pretty good notes, and plan the next round to be even better.

Brewing aids for the day;
One small 12 ounce glass, a couple of pours from the last of my session ale, at least one pour from my mellowing Belgium Wit….it was a little overwhelming with the bitter orange peel! So I then added a few too many drops of orange oil to the last 6L tap-a-draft keg…- 6 weeks later I do like it a lot! It has mellooooooooowed!

Brew notes;
It is looking good. It has a nice aroma and the dry hopping that will happen in a week or so should make it awesome!

5 lbs of pale two row US malt
4 lbs Belgium Wheat malt
1 lbs 12 ounces Carared
1 lbs 120L crystal malt
3.2 ounces Black Patent Malt 500L
1 ounce Amarillo pellets 45 minutes
1 ounce Amarillo pellets 15 minutes
1 ounce Centennial pellets 15 minutes
1 ounce Centennial pellets at Flame out
1/2 tsp Irish Moss at 30 minutes
1/2 tsp gypsum
Wyeast 1056 yeast
1 tsp yeast nutrient
2 ounces Centennial pellets in secondary for 5 days then crash to 34 degrees F

Mash in 14.94 quarts at 168.2 45 minutes
Sparge 1.53 gallons 168 F
Sparge 3.84 gallons 168 F, until it runs clear.
Total boil 60 minutes.

Now the Paul Harvey portion- “The Rest of The Story”.

Everything ws looking good, the aromas and color of the wort was dead on! I cooled it to 78 deg F and grabbed a sample to check the original gravity. Oh s**t, the hydrometer floated so high that the fat portion of the bulb was above the top of the cylinder. What the Hell! It can’t be that dense! Grabbed another sample, I hate to waste anything and crap, same situation. I added about a gallon of water and bring the batch up to about 5 3/4 gallons. No perceptible change! Now what?

I dumped the sample and then and only then do I notice that the bottom tip end of the hydrometer is busted off. Now I know the problem. The hydrometer is missing weight and damaged. What’s a brewer to do?

I pitched the yeast, scrubbed pots, cleaned the mash tun and crossed my fingers. The batch is now sitting at a controlled 65 deg F in my chest freezer. The fermentation is underway. When I checked this afternoon the aroma is heavenly, bubbling nicely and maybe, Just maybe I will have something close to the planned outcome.

I drank a partial bottle of my Russian Imperial Stout today after witnessing a normal appearing kickoff to the fermentation. Warmed my belly nicely and right now as I peck away at my iPhone keyboard I am drinking the very last glass of my session Ale.

Session Ale and the start of the brew before I knew what the future portends.

At coffee this morning @ #Javaman I took this photo with my iPhone, I should be carrying one my good cameras all the time!!!!!!!!! “Dang me, dang me, they oughta take a rope and hang me” Roger Miller inspiration. The sky color matches my intentions with this brew. Hopefully a good omen!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

PS: my bride and I will be pouring at “Big Brew Houston” Friday night the 24th of October. Come see us at the George R Brown Convention Center.

Great American Beer Fest – And Some Colorado Ramblings

The original plan for the week following our Anniversary on the second of October was to get a place in the Shaver Lake area in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Well, a call from the Canadian company that I consult for created  a small problem for that week. A client needed two people during our planned get-away week for some work in Grand Junction, Colorado. They had one guy free that week and, being the good guy that I am, I volunteered to be the second. I volunteered to give them a portion of the week my bride and I had set aside for our mountain get-away during  the week following our anniversary …….. Number 32 and counting!

That could have been a bad move on my part but it didn’t take long to convince my brilliant, beautiful and better half that we could have a good time in the Rockies instead of the Sierras. My work had me in Grand Junction on a Wednesday/Thursday. We decided to spend a few nights in Denver prior to driving across to Grand Junction. We arrived on Saturday, October 4th and the Beer Gods were smiling upon us. I knew that the Great American Beer Fest was held in Denver but I failed to buy discounted tickets when they were  first offered. I honestly did not plan that far in advance and flat forgot about it until we arrived at the hotel. I travel far too much and the concierge seeing that I was “Premier Platinum” for Marriot started a ticket hunt for us. He warned us to expect to pay a premium, as it had been sold out for months.

As he was working his magic to snag some tickets, we took a walk over to the 16th Street Mall. Lots of food, lots of beer and lots of people watching. We saw many of the Beer Fest attendees wandering the street as the noon session closed and the evening session, open to the general public, was being restocked with an estimated 3500 different beers from over 700 brewers. Oh my, a beer drinker’s heaven.

We decided, or should I say my bride decided to test the scalper market down near the convention center. My CFO and Chief negotiator went to work on the streets of Denver. For whatever reason, men are putty in her hands…me included. Guess what, she scored two tickets to the evening at less than face value! I think she could have taken a little more out of the guy but……I kept my mouth shut! Wise move.

It was a big, big crowd for the evening session on the 4th. I am not much of a fan of standing in lines but in this case the reward was worth the effort. After being herded through the doors and up the stairs to the top floor of the convention center we were faced with some very serious decisions. Our decisions were made 1 ounce at a time……that was the standard pour! So many choices!!!!! Even though I prefer IPA’s and Stouts, the craft beer industry is stretching boundaries into some very interesting offerings.

We had a Cucumber Ale and it tasted just like a cucumber…..not a beer nor and Ale – scratch that one. This year’s offerings were well represented by sour beers. Sour beers are brewed with Brettanomyces, the most common of the wild yeast strains. Those sour beers  were in abundance at this year’s event. My taste buds do not care much for the sour /tart tastes, or at least in the extremes found at the Fest. New Belgium has a beer that is a bit tart but in a pleasant way, Snapshot is the name of this tasty brew. My wife loved it. There were some amazing IPA’s and Double IPA’s and a few Imperial IPA’s that I gave up trying to segregate and remember! One very interesting observation concerning the Stouts I sampled….none quite measured up to my current Russian Imperial Stout that continues to age very well, much better than I have aged! Can you hear me patting my back?

The people really made the evening for us…..many in costume, many beer geeks, a whole gob of what some would call beer snobs…..I prefer to label myself as a beer geek, educating myself on all things beer – Try this definition out: “Beer Geek:  One who devotes himself to life long learning and loving of all thing beer related; one who attempts to try every beer regardless of the significance or insignificance of the price tag.” Thanks goes to Nate for the definition  @ http://thankheavenforbeer.com/2009/04/09/beer-dictionary-beer-snob-vs-beer-geeks/

A relatively orderly group even though we were all competing to get to the BEER!

A relatively orderly group even though we were all competing to get to the BEER! Just loved the pretzel necklaces worn by many attendees.

The masses gathering to get through the few doors at the far end...

The masses gathering to get through the few doors at the far end…

I corralled three of the six kinfolk wandering the event! I think there is only single branch on the family tree!

I corralled three of the six kinfolk wandering the event! I think there is only single branch on the family tree!

Beer poster art everywhere...I create and entire post just on the awesome art - both posters and labels.

Beer poster art everywhere…I create and entire post just on the awesome art – both posters and labels. I think next summer we will wander off to Providence, Rhode Island with our good friends Bev and John….URI Grads!

Should have shot this in video, Everyone dancing has headphones on and everyone is listening to different music...quite interesting!

Should have shot this in video, Everyone dancing has headphones on and everyone is listening to different music…quite interesting!

A couple of German Beer Maidens...not quite the likes of which are seen in the Hofbrau house in Munich!

A couple of German Beer Maidens…not quite the likes of which are seen in the Hofbrau house in Munich!

Where's Waldo....I think I found four of them!

Where’s Waldo….I think I found four of them!


Denver has beer! Some of you may have already figured it out but in case you haven’t, be yee snob, geek or as Nates says – “heading toward beer-savant”, Denver is close to beer heaven. Look left or right up and down the 16th street Mall and your choices of beers run into the several 100’s. A family friend originally from Midland Texas, Aurora now living in the Denver area, walked us down to the Denver Beer Company brewery for a great evening, wonderful soft pretzel, and great beers…Thanks Aurora!

Even the local Rock Bottom Brewery cranks out awesome brews and has an equally awesome wait  staff! How do I know….a couple of years ago I and one of my work mates, a formerly rowdy Canadian from Carnduff Saskatchewan, made connections with the wonderful wait staff at Rock Bottom…..We were invited to the tapping of a Vienna Black Lager on our last night in town. In fact we were served the first beers from the tapping, well before the other customers, and just before the wait staff had their briefing and tasting prior to making it available in the restaurant. I have a vague recollection of being treated to many special beer treats that night. I am sure thankful for level sidewalks and a short distance to the Marriott hotel!

The drive to Grand Junction included stops at Frisco and Back Country Brewery and Pub…. The sampler was awesome. Then a diversion to Breckinridge Brewery – in my opinion not nearly as good as Back Country. Also nearby was the Dillon Dam Brewery just a few minutes from Frisco was visited on our return trip. Before arriving in Grand Junction we found Palisade Brewery nestled into the area with peach orchards, vineyards and wineries. I have been here before but it was a first for my wife….GREAT BEERS. We caught a nice sunset as we left.

Beautiful and fiery sunset. Palisade, Colorado

Beautiful and fiery sunset. Palisade, Colorado

Grand Junction holds its own in the Colorado beer scene! Six right in the immediate area and others nearby including a distillery. Damn……they make a small batch Bourbon that seems to have a great reputation! Rockslide in Grand Junction is PDG! I still like Kannah Creek – great variety of beers and a fun staff.

I wonder if I can find several months’ worth of work in Colorado and follow that up with a month in Portland Oregon??????

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly


#kannahcreek, #denverbeercompany, #backcountrybrewery, #rockbottom, #rockslidebrewing, #palisadebrewingcompany, #dillondambrewing,