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

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.

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

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

I think I Will Call it an “Imperial Stout”

From the Beer Advocate website; https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/style/157/

“American Double / Imperial Stout

Description:
The American Double Stout gets some of it inspiration from the Russian Imperial Stout. Many of these are barrel aged, mostly in bourbon / whiskey barrels, while some are infused with coffee or chocolate. Alcohol ranges vary, but tend to be quite big, and bigger than traditional Russian Imperial Stouts. Most tend to have cleaner alcohol flavors, higher hop levels, and more residual sweetness. Very full-bodied with rich roasted flavors far surpassing normal stouts.

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 7.0-12.0%”   [ ? ]

My desire was for a beer at the 11-12% ABV range and mine comes in at a respectable 8.66% ABV. I used charred oak spirals that had been soaked in cheap bourbon. They sat in the secondary for almost 4 weeks. I bottled it today(Feb 21) and I am pleasantly surprised. The bourbon flavor is not overwhelming, my previous attempts took nearly 6 months before the heat of the bourbon flavor mellowed. A little bit of a coffee flavor is present as well in the sample I pulled for the gravity measurement.
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Transferring the dark and yummy mixture into the priming tank.
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Priming tank slowly filling. Sorry about the focus….the color is what is important…..yes very nice!
I bottled up 23 “Bombers” (22 ounce bottles) and 5 in 12 ounce bottles. The 12 ounce bottles will be sampled periodically to see how the beer is mellowing and aging. I will wait………maybe wait……..kinda sorta for 30 days to see how it goes! If I break down and pop a top early, I will admit my weakness and report out on the taste test!
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B for Bombers of B for beer or B for Bishop or……… Can you spot my mistake?
I have reviewed my brewing process and definitely messed up the sparging. I made notes on the brewing worksheet and will see if I can do better next time…..
This all grain batch sure made the chickens at one of my apiary locations happy. I bagged up all the spent grain into individual 1 gallon zip lock bags. Every few days I pull one of the bags out and let it defrost. When i spread it out in the chicken coop they attack the pile of grains as if they were starving! Not sure the grains influence the flavor of the eggs, but “free” feed is a good thing……not really free but nothing goes to waste!
A lot of grain in this batch; 12 lbs. of pale 2 row malt, 12.2 ounces Caramel/Crystal malt 120L, 8.9 ounces Black patent malt, 8.9 ounces Chocolate malt, 8.9 ounces of Roasted barley, 8.9 ounces of Flaked rye and 8.9 ounce of flaked wheat.
Hops; 1.35 ounces Chinook @ 60, .81 ounces Chinook @ 30. .54 ounces Cascade @ 15 and another .54 ounces @ 5. Added 1/2 Irish Moss and 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 10.
Used Safale US-05 and the fermentation took off in a hurry.
OG 1.078 FG 1.012  = ABV of ~ 8.66%
Now the wait…….28 more days……..first taste test………If I can wait that long????????
Drink Responsibly and Drink Local
Bishop

The SMaSH IPA is Bottled

Yesterday, February 18th was bottling day for the SMaSH IPA. I wanted to bottle it at the end of day 4 of the dry hopping….2 ounce of whole Mosaic hops…..didn’t happen until day 5th day. I did pull a small sample while bottling and saved it until the task was done.

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Priming Bucket set and ready for bottling.IMG_4464

Sanitized and cleaned bottles ready for the elixir of the Gods!!!!!

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Painfully slow but such a rewarding process. Clean, fill, cap, rinse and store until properly conditioned.IMG_4465

A bunch of mutt sized 12 ounce bottles and one 22 ounce bomber.

12 lbs. Maris Otter Pale Malt

1 ounce Mosaic hops 60 minutes

1.5 ounce Mosaic hops10 minutes

1.5 ounce Mosaic hops at flame out

2.0 ounces of Mosaic hops – dry hopped 5 days

1/2 tsp Irish Moss at 10 minutes

1 pkg. White Labs #WLP-051 California Ale V

OG 1.050

Final 1.008

Single Infusion, Medium body, batch sparge.

4 Gallons into the fermenter….

Dry hopped in the secondary fermenter.

First impressions – daughter Lisa who is my IPA drinking buddy gave the sample a thumbs up, great aroma and a nice pleasant citrus like flavor. I agreed. Now to condition for 10 days or so and it should be more than ready for my birth day on or around the 12th of March.

Drink Local and drink Resonsibly

Bishop

4th of July Blackberry Cobbler

I have a freezer still full of blackberries, a pantry full of blackberry preserves and wife that says, “No more Jam!” What’s a guy to do? Ok Hun, it is your birthday on the third of July, how about some blackberry cobbler and Blue Bell vanilla ice cream?

I will share a recipe that has had rave reviews every time I have made it and rave reviews from everyone that has made it themselves. The recipe is not original with me but I do give it proper credit…..it is just amazing and so simple to make!

MEME’S BLACKBERRY COBBLER

I added an extra cup of blackberries to this recipe from Virginia Willis’ Bon Appétit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories From Three Generations of Southern Cooking (Ten Speed Press, $32.50).

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 5 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen – Hand picked from a friends property just north of Kingwood.
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more if desired for berries
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter in a large iron skillet (I used a 12 inch cast iron skillet), place skillet in oven to melt butter.

Put blackberries in a large bowl. If they are frozen, let them soften a few minutes. Crush lightly with a potato masher. Sweeten with extra sugar if you like. ( I did!!!)

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup sugar in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine milk and vanilla. Gradually pour wet ingredients into dry while whisking.

Remove skillet from oven. Add melted butter to batter. Stir to combine. Pour batter into hot skillet. With a spatula, scrape the berries into the center. Bake cobbler till it is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the cake (not the berries) emerges clean, about 1 hour.

Serve warm with ice cream — and prepare for a walk down memory lane.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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The start……this is what it should like on entry to the oven.

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This is what it should look like before scooping out into a bowl, just begging for a mound of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.

My presentation is pretty Patriotic, the skillet is a red enamel, the cooked berries are beyond blue and the Blue Bell vanilla ice cream is as close to white as it can be. Have a great Fourth of July.

TTFN

Bishop