Berry, Berry Good Beers

I was out inspecting my bees today and had the good fortune of visiting my apiary two blocks south of the Megaton Brewery in Kingwood. I took a quick look at the activity and made plans to open the two top bar hives to harvest a bit Sunday morning before the Women’s World Cup Final. I intend to leave them with enough honey to get into the fall. I had not broke much of a sweat, my deodorant seemed to be in place, so I decided to pop into the brewery.

I am normally an IPA guy but I still had one more apiary to visit. I chose a 9 oz pour of the Blueberry Lemon Heimdall Farmhouse Ale. Surprisingly good! Next up was a pint of the Cranberry Kolsch. Easy to drink but not what I expected….little or no noticeable cranberry flavor nor aroma. Now a 9 oz pour of the Wildberry Kolsch. The berry flavor came through nicely and a pleasant aroma. Of the 3 I really enjoyed the Blueberry Lemon Heindall. As I was waiting to order a 32 oz growler can to go of my favorite of the day, the board flashed and it was no longer available! Damn! I needed to bring some beer home to my wife and daughter.

It was suggested that I try the Heimdall Farmhouse Ale, sans the Blueberry an Lemon additions. I tried a taster, and although a pleasant beer, I didn’t think the girls would go for it. I asked them to can up the Wildberry Kolsch………and guess what? The keg went dry. What’s a guy to do?

Scratch the Wild and add Cran for the Cranberry Kolsch. Hope the girls like it!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Santa Barbara Discovery

I had intended to go to the Santa Barbara Brewing Company on State Street as my wife shopped, hopefully for something on sale! My destination no longer exists. So, plan B.

Gotta love it! Blue sky, trees in bloom and a horrible 66 degrees…..sans humidity. I was dealing with bees in Houston the past week @ 92 degrees and humidity that sucked big time!

Even better, the beers are very nice.

I went big on my first beer with the Vacancy IPA. Poured with a perfect head and the aroma was very pleasant. Kathy went with the Mango Day Dreamin and she enjoyed it.

Next up for me was the Mosaic – Pale Ale. I love Mosaic hops! Very nice….crisp and clean. As I ordered the young lady forced, twisted my arm and shamed me into sampling the 2019 Spring Seasonal-100% Mosaic hops. Wow!!!! I am sure glad I have no will power.

The beautiful clean Mosaic Pale Ale.

Institution Ale Company is based in Camarillo, I need to talk to my son-in-law about hiding this brewery from me for nearly 6 years!

Every beer poured was perfect! Why do I say that? They use a tall pint glass, clearly marking the pint line with very sufficient space for head on the beer. Much of the aroma of the beer is from the head. As those bubbles burst your senses are treated to Hop and malt aromas, my opinion!!!! It also looks great, the aesthetics of the presentation!

We didn’t try the food here but the items passing by our table heading to the lunch crowd visitors looked and smelled amazing. This place is high on my recommended breweries list!!!!

Just an FYI, our go to list in the area includes; Rincon, Island Brewing, and Brew Lab in Carpinteria. We have visited all 3 this week. Santa Barbara choices include Figueroa Mountain, the newly added Institution Ale Company and the Brewhouse.

More to come as we wander north on Highway 101 next week.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Confirmation – Bees and Beer are Linked

So, how did I arrive at this epiphany? I am certainly one data point. I started brewing beer around 1991 and became a beekeeper 6 years ago. Ok, not a strong link, but I have more that I would like to offer up.

I have a prolific 8 frame hive, already has 3 supers, in the backyard of some friends, Mike an awesome beer brewer and his wife Annette loves his Chocolate Porter. Synergistic relationship I am certain. The beer fridge, with two beers always on tap, is less than 25 feet away from the hive. There has to to bee and beer intersection in the respective auras influencing honey production and quality beers brewed here! A stronger link don’t you agree?

Well, here is the confirmation! A few weeks ago I put out feelers for an apiary location closer to the house to host a few of my hives. Out of the blue came an offer…..just 2 miles outside my parameters but close enough. Several acres, with a nice tall berm that is above the flooding that plagues our area, a pond and…….next to 100 acres of Tallow Tree – the biggest nectar source for SE Texas beekeepers. First move was a swarm that had moved into a newly built top bar hive in my backyard.

The small top bar in place. Room left for two more hives. I have two Langstroth hives that we’re not doing as well as I wanted out at Berry farm just begging to be moved closer. Today I gathered them up and hauled them over to the new and closer location.

I  have a 10 frame and an 8 frames Lang that were picked up Ready to go. They are loaded on the rack and they were set, opened and bees flying by 8:30 AM. Confirmation of the indisputable link between bees and beer happened at approximately 8:45 AM CST. My Goo friend John and I were packing the truck up when Terry, the property owner, asked if we wanted some homemade wine. It was red and sweet so we declined but mentioned beer is preferable. Terry turned and indicated that we should follow him.

There was a nice “Speak Easy” style door off the garage leading the BREWERY. – Yes a brewery…. 5 gallon style brewery, all electric, set up for all grain brewing. Sweet set up…..over to the right was the bar and a double tap. A lager on one, yes he truly brews and lagers his beer, and a nice Bock. John and I behaved ourselves as we had duties but we did sample and agree the Bees and Beer are joined at the hip.

Do you need anymore proof?

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Brewing My Wife’s Wit Beer

It has been in the fermenter for almost a week now. One more week and it should be done. I brewed this all grain beer on one of the many crappy wether days that have been far too abundant over the last few months. Not horribly cold, but very wet. How wet? Nearly 20 inches over the past several months. Not any gully washer rains, but far too many wet days.

Let’s talk beer and brewing. My SMaSH IPA, made with Mosaic hops and Marris Otter malt, is conditioning in the bottle as I Wait! Sometimes waiting is difficult. I now wanted to brew a beer that would match something that my wife would like! Brewing is good for her in that I manage to mop some and sometimes all of the kitchen floor during the beer making machinations. I found a very interesting Vanilla Cream Ale recipe and sent it over to Preston at the Grain Cellar in Humble, Texas. FYI, for non Texans, the “H” is silent in Humble. By the time I had arrived, Preston had reviewed the recipe and noted that he’d had all the ingredients on hand that I needed.

As I visited with Preston, I notice on the chalkboard was listed a beer callled, Wife’s Wit. Well, I cancelled picking up the Cream Ale ingredients and went with the Wit. Preston tells me it is very popular and one of his most frequently brewed beers. I liked the grain bill and the additions, excepting the coriander!

The citrus added an amazing aroma. The lemon was off of my backyard Meyer Lemon tree. The grapefruit off of a tree in a yard where I keep a number of hives. The grapefruit came off of a tree visited by my bees kept on the property. The orange, sad to say, was a store bought blood orange.

Brewing day always calls for savoring some excellent beverages. First up……..

To the best of my knowledge I have never partaken in Strain G13, nor have I ever sampled this IPA.

Although not winterish in Houston, I did go with a winter beer as the grains steeped.

This is a familiar Ale, I last had one this past October while visiting Portland.

Lastly, before all the work of boiling, chilling and racking into the fermenter, I enjoyed a non beer beverage.

2.65 fingers of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. In the background is tire with a little sleigh attached. In December my daughter drug it 13.6 miles, a half marathon, just because!!!

After 14 days fermenting I will bottle this brew and then wait another 30 as it conditions….that will test my patience!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Not Quiet Anymore

I have been quiet on this blog since May 29, 2018……I have pent up things to say about beer and more. I am in Kenedy Texas…..Yes, Kenedy with one “n”…..it is a Texas thing, don’t fight it.

Last night my workmate and I pulled into a little place in Kenedy, Texas called 5D Grill and Lounge. Simple but good food and a friendly wait staff. They are a small chain with locations in oilfield towns like Kenedy, Monahans, TX, Carrizo Springs, TX, Yorktown, TX, and soon in La Vernia, TX. I decided I needed a beer last night and was pleasantly surprised. They had Elysian Space Dust IPA in a bottle. I had to say wow! It was wonderful “…..so I had another for dessert”….Thanks Kris Kristofferson for the line and Johnny Cash and Ray Price for making it famous.

Elysian Space Dust – Wow. Chinook hops up front and later on for bitterness and dry hopped with Citra and Amarillo hops. Some of my favorite hops that I use at home. ABV was enough to cut it off after two bottles, 8.2% ABV. Not overly hoppy at 73 IBU’s but it was a great blend and my palate was happy! I am actually a bit surprised that a beer like this would wind up out in a “kinda” remote location and a town 3200 people. It just shows that the buyer must know good beer!

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Just Yummy…..

Link to locator…..yes they serve it all over Houston. Plug your zip code in to see if you get lucky!

In the near future I will post a wine making adventure. Wild Mustang grapes form the woods around Kingwood, TX

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly.

Bishop

It’s 11:37 AM in Houston

Yes it is. The ribs are in the smoker and 4 homegrown Poblano peppers are on the top rack. I am giving the peppers a 30-45 minute dose of apple and pecan wood smoke preparing them for a batch of Smoked Poblano pepper jelly.

Skin is beginning to crinkle as they suck up the smoke. I am biding my time waiting on smoked pepper perfection- we’ll, maybe not perfection but “excellence” is a better term, before pulling the peppers. To aid in the wait, a Pete’s dark roast and an Odell’s India Pale Ale – yes both!

Not sure life can’t get much better than this! (FYI- that is an untruth but I was lulled into a cliche statement!)

The ribs will take a lot longer than the peppers to finish up. Thus, a few more ales to aid in the process and maybe another coffee or two to prevent too much cloudy judgement.

I am saving one of my SMaSH IPAs for dinner time to go along with the ribs and some all beef franks, special request from my daughter in law.

Just gotta love 90+ degrees and 75% humidity here in Houston! The beer helps but the coffee works against the body in regulating core body temperature! Ok, Bishop, you convinced me, no more coffee – just cool clear water ( converted in to beer)!

I just finished a Red IPA from Sierra Nevada and pulled the peppers off. Peppers are in a bag for a little more humidity…… LOL. Makes it easier to skin them prior to jelly making!

Now I have a tough decision, our guests are pushing back arrival time so, I may need to lighten up and slow the ribs down.

Next morning now-

Blogging was interrupted by the arriving guests. I am back home now after picking wild dewberries and checking on some of my bees.

Ribs were a big hit as well as the dogs! My wife made a very simple beer based margarita that was also a hit. I had to dig into my special stash while she and one of our neighbors enjoyed their “beer-Rita!”

The recipe-

One can of frozen limeade

One limeade can of tequila

One limeade can of Sprite or Sprite Zero

One bottle of Corona

Mix in a pitcher and pour over ice. Squeeze a lime into the glass and enjoy. It was very refreshing, after she finally decided to share one with me….. there is much more to the back story but I will let it be!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Bees & SMaSH IPA

I made a run to my two most distant Apiaries today. One in Splendora and the other in Grangerland – also known as the “berry farm”. I needed to add a deep box to one of my new hives in Splendora and poked my nose into see if the supers were filling with honey on the other three hives. They look promising but still a few weeks away from being ready for extracting.

Out at the berry farm I pulled 5 nicely filled frames. Would love to have had more Ready but – it will be a very good season based on the activity I saw today. The weather – 90 degrees F and 57% humidity made for a warm day. The bees were bearded up on the outside to keep the inside temperatures under control.

FYI- I am not feeding the bees, just haven’t removed the feeder yet! It was hot and I couldn’t beard up! I just had to sweat my ass off! For whatever reason, and they won’t tell you, the girls in the 8 frame hive were a little defensive today – Therefore, full gear and lots of sweat!

Upon return home and before unloading the truck – oh yes, and setting up in the garage to extract honey – I treated myself to my excellent SMaSH IPA! How can I tell what I’m drinking as in, I don’t put labels on my bottles? I use a bottle cap code. The SMaSH is a patriotic beer!

A hint of honey money in upper left background of the photo…… yes, I sell honey.

Ah, there is the box needing extraction! Now, I was interrupted at about 2/3 finished with my beer by my phone ringing. My friend and fellow Home brewer, Mike H, severely twisted my arm and forced me to delay extracting honey- Beer was the reason. “Meet me at Hop Stop in Humble”, more of a statement than a request.

Every Thursday they offer a rotating sampler and….. good folks, good conversation and a good place to drink beer. Traffic was crap, especially on the return trip, but it was well worth the trip….thanks Mike!

Still managed to extract and clean up. Lovely amber honey from the berry farm- “Blakelock’s Berries”. Check them out on Facebook.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

My All Grain – Amber Ale is Bottled

I decided to step out and brew something a little different than my usual’s, an American Amber Ale. So what is an American Amber Ale?………….. From Beer Advocate;

American Amber / Red Ale

Description:

Primarily a catch all for any beer less than a Dark Ale in color, ranging from amber (duh) to deep red hues. This style of beer tends to focus on the malts, but hop character can range from low to high. Expect a balanced beer, with toasted malt characters and a light fruitiness in most examples. The range can run from a basic ale, to American brewers who brew faux-Oktoberfest style beers that are actually ales instead of lagers.

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 4.0-7.0%  

I have a copy of “BeerSmith 2” loaded on my computer, FYI, I love the program!  I did a search of the recipes in the BeerSmith cloud and found an American Amber Ale that caught my eye…..probably for all the wrong reasons….Uncle Mickey is the brewer’s name. I do need to give him credit for the recipe because, I brewed it step by step, just as he submitted it. I chose to honor his “naming convention” for his beer but, in order to be a little less crass, I translated it into German – “Zucker Zitzen” – Therefore it will be labled “ZZ Amber Ale”.

The beer is in the bottle and now capped with a dark pinkish red cap. I use cap colors to differentiate my beers until they receive a label. The 6 gallon batch filled 54 standard size bottles…12 ounces. I was almost a week late getting it into the bottles but, the sample I pulled for the gravity check was nice, definitely malt forward and a hint of sweetness. I think it will be nice. It is not heavily hopped, 1 ounce of Summit at 60 minutes, 1 ounce of Amarillo Gold at 10 minutes and 1 ounce of Cascade at flame out and I let it sit for about 15 minutes before beginning to chill the wort.  I have 21 days to let it condition and age before the crawfish boil. With my lack of patience, I will most likely have sampled a couple just to be safe before the party. FYI – I worked up a sweat bottling so I enjoyed a bottle of my SMaSH IPA (American Flag cap), while resting before the cleanup began. I think I am down to about a dozen of that batch left……I better be a little stingy and hide a few!

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Five six packs of random shaped bottles, all 12 ounce bottles, but recycled from my broad and diverse drinking habits. ( a six-pack of stubby bottles are hiding below the Sierra Nevada six-pack)

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23 and 2/3 perfectly uniform bottles of “ZZ” American Amber Ale. Yes, 2/3 of a bottle….nothing goes to waste here! Yum……

Now……What is next on my brew list?

  • A clone of Alpha Hive Double IPA from COOP Ale Works in Oklahoma City? It is an amazing beer if you can find it. http://coopaleworks.com/beers/alpha-hive-double-ipa/
  • A session IPA is also something I have threatening to brew for quite some time now? A clone of founders All Day IPA is high on the list!!!!
  • I do have bee hives at a blueberry/blackberry farm so, a fruit wheat ale may taste pretty good?
  • Or another SMaSH IPA with either Simcoe, Citra or Amarillo hops…..????

So many choices and so little time!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

An IPA Start to my Birthday

Maybe I should have waited! Oops

My SMaSH Mosaic IPA. First beer to start the evening. Then an Odell’s Fresh Grind IPA…. Wow! Then a Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter with distilled Hop oil. Gotta love a Texas Backyard Birthday!

Then a nice slab of salmon with pesto butter!

And what a great treat- the family searched far and wide and found 5 – six packs of Hopslam! I am in heaven. Gotta find a cold and secret place to store them.

Thanks Lisa for a card that made me cry!

Dessert? Carrot cake and –

Very yummy!

It is not so bad to be two years beyond Medicare age!

Maybe a Hopslam night cap?????

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop