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

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

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

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

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

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

SMaSH IPA – Wait is Over

Bottled on the 18th of February so I have waited the requisite 10 days before I popped the top on the first bottle….couldn’t wait any longer. One of the bottles was only 3/4 filled so it became the sacrificial lamb.

Partially filled a “Back Pew” pint glass. Enjoyed my taste test while watching a very strange X-Files episode!

Good color – actually seems to be a bit more amber than on bottling day. Pretty well carbonated and very nicely hopped. I was a bit spoiled with the Hopslam I recently found but….. this Homebrew, even though not a double IPA, has top notch hop flavors and aromas…….thank you “dry hopping”. I will definitely use fresh hops again!

I may let it go a few more days to condition a little further but it is very, very drinkable right now!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop