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

Beer and Spent Grain Sourdough Bread

Sunday afternoon and I am enjoying a warm slice of bread made with the spent grains from the SMaSH IPA, I brewed during a nice thunderstorm late Friday afternoon. The beer is destined to be good! Why? The grains were in the mash tun and there was a big flash and a powerful boom from very nearby lightning. Almost immediately AC/DC came up on my playlist…………and yes, it was Thunderstruck! A very good omen.

The recipe for this beer is well known to me, I have it three prior times. Simple all grain recipe, 12 pounds of Marris Otter malt and 6 ounces of Mosaic hops. One ounce at the start of the 60 minute boil, 1.5 ounces at 10 minutes and another 1.5 ounces at flame out. Two ounces are reserved for dry hopping. WLP 1051 yeast and it is off and running. I ran it through Beer Smith and used a single infusion with two step sparge I also hate to throw spent grains away so all 12 pounds will be used. I have composted them in the past but I think they have more value.

I hauled a gallon bucket of spent grains over to one of my nearby apiaries that has chickens on the property……the chickens seem to recognize me or maybe it’s the gallon bucket full of grains, regardless, they come running for the sweet treat. I bagged 4 bundles of grain, again about a gallon each and placed them in the freezer…….future treats for the chickens. I kept about 2 quarts to partially dry and make ready for use in bread making.

I have been diligently making sourdough during our social distancing exercise and I am getting pretty good at it. Yes, I am patting myself on the back. I searched the web for a simple and straightforward sourdough recipe utilizing the spent grains………. I’m a simple guy and I got lucky – finding a simple recipe within my skill set! See below.

Sourdough & Spent Grain Bread – based on a recipe from this site….pretty much followed it but just a few tweaks. https://noteatingoutinny.com/2010/04/13/sourdough-spent-grain-rye-bread/

1 cup sourdough starter
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour – I used 3 and it was just enough.
1 cup spent grain, still a bit wet
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 – 2 cups water – varies depending on how wet the spent grains are.

Combine the starter, 3 cups of the flour and enough water to allow the dough to just come together, in shaggy strands(I didn’t know what that meant so I googled for images). Knead about 5-6 minutes( I used dough hook) and let rest in a bowl, covered with a towel. Keep in a warm place and let sit for 1 hour. Fold in the mash with your hands and dust on the remaining flour as you combine it to help keep dough from being too sticky( I used my stand mixer and a dough hook). Form dough into a long, oblong loaf (or put it in a prepared loaf pan, I had a 5X9 loaf pan, sprayed a little Pam on the sides and coated the top of the dough with flour. I did a couple rounds of stretch and fold like do with my regular sourdough prior to the final rise. Let sit in a warm place covered with a towel for an 1 hour or so. Score deeply before placing the oven.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. I used a big pizza stone that was also preheated. Bake for about 20 minutes, monitor, I used a thermometer to chick internal temperature. It took an additional 10 minutes to reach 200 F. Remove and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before eating. My wife didn’t want to wait…… I held my ground and gave her the first warm slice with butter. She forgave me!

During one of the several stretch and folds.
Doesn’t that look good?
Very nice crust, very nice crumb ….. wife loved the crust and the nice soft texture inside.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Beaver Nuggets – Beer?

Being a Texas transplant, arrived in 1996 and wish I hadn’t waited that long, I have become a fan of Beaver Nuggets. I have also become a fan of Buc-ee’s……cleanest restrooms that you could possibly imagine, not that I am that picky…….but my wife certainly is. “ Happy wife – Happy Life”….. wisdom and truth in one phrase!

Ok, so why Beaver Nuggets in a beer blog? Panther Island Brewing in Fort Worth has a beer aptly named, “ Road Trip Snacks” made with Beaver Nuggets! I don’t suggest you drink and drive but I do recommend driving and snacking on Beaver Nuggets and once you arrive……drink some – “ Road Trip Snacks”!

I need to give credit and a shout out to a blog called “ The Beer Thrillers”. “Central PA beer enthusiasts and beer bloggers. Homebrewers, brewery workers, and all around beer lovers.” Enough of the use of quotation marks….. they might make English majors giddy but I am over with them, until of course the voices in my head tell me to use them! https://thebeerthrillers.home.blog/2020/05/08/beer-review-road-trip-snacks-panther-island-brewing/

What’s next on my Brew list you might ask? My SMaSH IPA made with 12 pounds of Marris Otter malt and 6 ounces of Mosaic hops, 5 gallon batch and generously dry hopped. I just need to check with Preston down at the “Grain Cellar” ding, ding, ding……..just had to use them again, to see if his Friday delivery included Mosaic hops.

Thanks The Beer Thrillers for the fun read……buy some damn Beaver Nuggets and satisfy your curiosity…..finger lickin’ good.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/buc-ees-the-path-to-world-domination/

Being safe at Buc-ee’s – and left with Beaver Nuggets……I’ll have to wait for a solo trip….tee-hee!

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!

IMG_4991

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)

IMG_4989

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