Ich braue wieder Bier für meine Frau

I am brewing beer for my wife again. The time has come and the last two bottles of the Wit Bier that I brewed for her are chilled and begging to be consumed. It is an all grain recipe with one key difference from a standard Wit Bier, she doesn’t like the flavor of the coriander seeds in most Wit Biers. The flavorings are just confined to the zests of grapefruit, lemon and an orange. Potential variations suggested for a future match will be to use the zest of 6 blood oranges. They are a seasonal thing…..usually early winter into spring.

I have the 5.5 gallon batch in the primary fermenter and it is bubbling away nicely. It was brewed a couple of days ago in conjunction with extracting 65 pounds of honey…..yep, honey. Once the honey was in the bucket the prep work started for the beer….clean the equipment and have everything laid out and ready.

Actively bubbling away and smells delicious.

Today, I am taking the grains and making a spent grain loaf of sourdough bread. I will freeze a bunch and take the remaining grains over to my apiary location where the property owner has chickens. When they see me coming they come running to greet me.

I have 5 apiary locations all within about 20 miles of each and the variation in color and flavor is significant. One location has a darker color and according to my wife, a sweeter flavor. In the planning process is a honey blonde ale……the question is, which honey to use???

This is a 3 bottle representation of the variation in color, less obvious is the flavor differences. I call it “hyper local” because I bottle by the zip code of the apiary location.

While writing this post my ADHD kicked in and I had to check out honey blonde ale recipes. The honey is a fermentable sugar and actually ferments out without leaving honey notes. Using honey in the wort would also drive off the aroma of the honey……that said, I found a recipe where the honey is added after primary fermentation has slowed. The brewers follow up notes on tasting the beer were pretty positive, not much in the way of honey aroma in the beer but it did come through while drinking the beer. The brewer also suggested some hopping variations……it is now on my list. I will keep y’all posted on the progress.

Honey Blonde Ale Tasting

I have started a dialog with the owner of my brewing supply store. Heis the guy who convinced me to make a “bochet” with a 6 pound jar of honey that I warmed up a bit too much. Fortunately it caramelized rather than scorched. From 1393 – an archaic and delightful description of my intended effort.

“BOUCHET. To make six sesters of bouchet, take six pints of fine sweet honey, and put it in a cauldron on the fire and boil it, and stir continually until it starts to grow, and you see that it is producing bubbles like small globules which burst, and as they burst emit a little smoke which is sort of dark: and then stir, and then add seven sixths of water and boil until it reduces to six sixths again, and keep stirring. And then put it in a tub to cool until it is just warm; and then strain it through a cloth bag, and then put it in a cask and add one chopine (half-litre) of beer-yeast, for it is this which makes it the most piquant, (and if you use bread yeast, however much you like the taste, the colour will be insipid), and cover it well and warmly to work. And if you want to make it very good, add an ounce of ginger, long pepper, grains of Paradise and cloves in equal amounts, except for the cloves of which there should be less, and put them in a cloth bag and throw in. And after two or three days, if the bouchet smells spicy enough and is strong enough, take out the spice-bag and squeeze it and put it in the next barrel you make. And thus you will be able to use these same spices three or four times.” -Le Menagier de Paris, France, 1393”

First taste report gave it rave reviews. Complex, hint of spice and caramelization!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Smoked Honey

Yesterday I was texting back and forth with my granddaughter who lives up in Torrington, Wyoming. She is a bit of a country girl, raises goats, chickens, bees and a couple of young boys. It started off with her asking if I had ever made “smoked honey”. My brain must have found the question foreign as it went right to smoking turkeys and needing to brine them.

She humored me along for a bit and then sent this text message;

“Oh I meant just the honey like smoking just the honey to add a.smokey flavor to it.”

I had been going on and on about smoking a turkey, subbing honey for the brown sugar in the brine, had a yada yada…….I hope I didn’t confirm that I sometimes outrun my brain and my typing finger! Senility? No, she wouldn’t go there…….I hope!

I took 3 good sized ramekins, each filled with about 1/3 cup of honey.

Started off with the smoker cold. I fired it up with pecan wood.

I tried to maintain a relatively low heat as I didn’t want to scorch the honey. Caramelized and a Smokey flavor was my goal.

Tartlet was 175 degrees F but ……. I am easily distracted and it approached 200 degrees F.

I mentioned above that I am easily distracted above and oops….about three hours later I shut off the smoker and brought the ramekins into the house.

Dark, I hoped smokey and fingers crossed……not scorched.

I let it sit overnight and it was very thick and caramelized with a hint of smoke flavor. Notes for future efforts.

  1. Fire up the smoker well before placing the honey inside.
  2. Set a timer dummy……that’s me talking to me. Check every 20 minutes for temperature and visual changes to the honey.
  3. Try a wood that has a more robust smokiness……..maybe mesquite next time vs. the pecan I used.

I will try this as a glaze or as an added flavor when marinating salmon. Maybe warm it and drizzle over cheeses on a cheese board. Hmmmmm other ideas?

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

FYI- oops again – should have been in my garden blog……oh well……it might be senility.

Correcting My Recollection

Correcting my recollection for my last post, Confirmation – Bees and Beer are Linked. My new apiary location wasn’t due to a response to my request for a yard closer to home, it was via serendipity.  I was in the Home Depot parking lot to pick up timbers and concrete blocks to set up some new hives. On the rack on the back of my truck were two empty hive bodies. I friendly guy asked if  was a bee keeper and I answered in the affirmative. He wanted bees!!!!!! Yee Haw!

This, if anything, reinforces the karma between bees and beer. Out of nowhere, kindred spirits are connected in the midst of 4 million people in the grater Houston area…..I say, it must be be undeniable proof proof that Bees and Beer are linked!!!!

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

Easing the Pain of Loss

A beer and bee story, bittersweet, poignant yet ends on a comforting note!

I went off to one of my bee yards to add a couple of supers as the nectar flow is on. One hive is swollen up and really needed some room so adding the super was the perfect thing to do. The bees immediately crawled up into the new space – Yee Haw!

Unfortunately the hive next to it…very active two weeks ago, was void of activity…..no need to add a super to it. Pulled the top off and no signs of bee life. As I dug in deeper I was amazed at how clean the girls left the house. I got there just in time, no small hive beetle larva present and no evidence of wax moths!

Here is the, glass half full, view. I now have 20 deep frames, fully drawn out and 10 medium frames, also fully drawn out! I now have some deep frames to help accelerate the growth of the swarms I have been catching and some medium frames to add to supers, ready to be filled with liquid gold. All 30 frames are in the freezer to kill any eggs and/or critters lingering. My smile is beginning!

Loaded the truck feeling a bit let down but knowing I still have some great opportunities for growing my apiary. I decided to swing by the beer store on the way to my “Goo” friend John’s house. They usually have a great selection and I scored big time!

Wow, this beer is amazing! Made with Northern California orange blossom honey. Wanna know more? https://coopaleworks.com/our-beers/

It is a double IPA so I need to be both selfish and careful😜. This beer is so smooth. I bought 3 – 4 packs, one 4 pack left at John’s house, minus the two beers as we consumed to help sooth my wounds over the loss of a hive!

It helps!

So now this gray bearded old man is a bit happier and now making plans on where to use these nicely drawn out frames! FYI- this is what a drawn frame looks like.

It really helps the bees. It takes 8 pounds of honey to make 1 pound of wax.

PS, I have two 4- packs of Alpha Hive in my fridge if you are interested and I may be willing to share. Yes, 9.7% ABV beer warms the soul and makes me smile.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Wife’s Wit Beer – Another Opportunity to Mop the Floor

This is a Belgian Wit beer and made for my wife!!! It is very similar to a Blue Moon made by one of those “evil giant conglomerate brewing companies”. A key difference with this batch is the absence of coriander. It does contain the zest of a grapefruit, locally grown, zest of lemon off of my tree and the zest of a store bought blood orange. Preliminary tastings while racking and checking the gravity have been very nice. Gotta wait 3-4 weeks to let it condition properly.

The all grain beer recipe;

The original gravity was dead on target and the final gravity looked good at 1.013.

This batch will be bottled – I wanted to use my 6 liter Tap-a-Draft small kegs but they are out of business and I need parts! Dang! I added 3.6 ounces of corn sugar to carbonate at around 2.4 volumes. Bottling is tedious and sometimes a little messy, so, I will most likely mop the floor again. I do hope it passes inspection!

Important decision before I start bottling – what should I drink to aid in the bottling process, my SMaSH IPA? A stout? No, too heavy. And the winner is……..

Yum…….. just one – Double IPA’s can sneak up on an unwitting and inexperienced beer drinker. I definitely have the experience part down several times over. Unwitting, well, I know the issue but sometimes that third or fourth IPA can cloud a persons judgement. The bottles have been sanitized and placed in a handy drying rack.

I hope I counted correctly! Yes Haw – I had two bottles left over and about 6 ounces for a little taster. It definitely passes muster. I don’t always label my bottles, I distinguish them by the color or type of cap. I asked Kathy which one she would prefer but she deferred to me. My choice! Gotta love Ben Franklin!

Waste not want not! I use recycled bottles, many consumed by me but I do get a little help from my friends. My supply is getting a bit depleted so I will need to gather up some before the next batch. I even recycle the 6 pack carriers. A couple of my favorites represented here.

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is awesome but their Hopslam is amazing!

I was rushing and trying to get too much done before “Leaving on a Jet Plane”……. Peter, Paul and Mary was playing that song in my headphones just as that song popped up. I need to make a folk singer playlist…….. I know, this doesn’t have anything to do with beer brewing or consuming, but that is how brain works, or according to some, doesn’t work! The rush also translated into riling up my bees during inspection and adding a few supers earlier that afternoon. I took a couple of stings through the gloves and at the next stop I took two in my left bicep……looks awesome! Makes a nice peak when I flex. I mopped half the kitchen and left a few 5 gallon buckets drying on the counter. I hope my wife knows where I keep them!

Get back on track now! Next, I think I will brew a double IPA or maybe a Pliny the Elder clone??? Maybe if I score some really good fresh hops a Hopslam kind of creation that is heavily dry hopped. Stay tuned I will get around to it in April …….. possibly.

Finishing up a few days in Teddy Roosevelt National Park. There is a nice little brewery in Watford City called Stonehollow. Awesome beers!

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

Beer Thirty

I made a bee run this morning, feed a few and finish setting boxes for the 6 NUC’s I will pick up on Thursday. Now it’s time for a brew. Next last stop on my route;

I added a third Langstroth box at the end of the stand. It is now ready to receive it’s NUC on Thursday.

Now, enjoying my SMaSH IPA! So, any guesses where I might be? City, county, state or state of mind? Search the photo for a hint!

Another beer note, my Amber ale should be ready to bottle this weekend. Yee Haw, at the Crawfish boil On May 12th I will have my Russian Imperial Stout, my SMaSH IPA and my Sugar T—s Amber Ale. Could be an excellent day!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly,

Bishop

Bee Lining

This morning I did a little experiment in the Backyard Farm with “bee lining”. This is an old time method for finding a hive, hopefully a wild one, and not one of your neighbor’s hives. 

I have been doing some open feeding in the backyard as an act of kindness for the early spring  foragers. The bees have been mobbing the feeder. This indicates a whole lot of bees nearby! 

I went out with a fresh bottle of sugar water early this morning,  before the bees were up and out foraging. Then I waited. Once a few visitors showed up I marked one with a dot of orange paint. 


Using a stop watch timing the round trips, it appears that there is a colony/hive less than 200 yards from my yard. In less than 10 minutes the feeder was overwhelmed and it is impossible to time the round trips now!!!! 


My next experiment will be off in the woods. I want to see if I can find a wild hive and document the adventure. Keep your eyes open! 

TTFN

Bishop