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

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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

The Hunt for an Antique Mirror

This may not sound much like brewing, beer drinking or an alcohol related post but please bear with me.

Two weeks ago …………….finally getting around to posting.

My wife is on a a quest, a mission, a wide area search for the perfect mirror to help create the perfect decor for her dining room. Our most recent foray across this broad this metropolitan area, home to nearly 5 million people, took us across a broad swathe of territory. The first leg was Kingwood to Friendswood, TX. No, the woodS aren’t close to each other. Only 50 miles, one hour and five minutes, barring any freeway shenanigans.

We struck out on the first stop. Internet photos on the website were, shall we say, misleading at best. The mirror was in perfect shape and size for my wife’s preferences. The wood frame was far from perfect…… yes, we could have spent many hours to clean and repair the damaged wood frame but decided to go to plan B and location B, the Cypress/Jersey Village area.

We took the 50 mile route to avoid crawling through the center of Houston. The homeowner wasn’t able to meet at our proposed time so we opted for lunch. The first Siri search put us at a smoke scented pub with two cars outside. Both were indicators of a poor choice. Then by happenstance we spotted “The Backyard Grill” just east off 290 on Jones Rd.

What an amazingly lucky choice. Great beer menu and the food was also very good! I had Odell’s – Rupture – A Fresh Grind Ale. It utilizes fresh ground whole hops. Beer Advocate rated it at 4.12 out of 5 and it hit my flavor profile nicely. Not overly bitter but very pleasant, pleasant( yes…pleasant twice) feel in the mouth and the aroma was also doubly pleasant. My wife went safe with a Blue Moon…….yes I know, not a real craft beer…… 40 plus choices for drafts on tap as well as a similar number of bottles and cans.

My grilled chicken, a half chicken, was seasoned perfectly and injected with 8th Wonder Rocket Fuel beer. One of the best, excepting my own grilled chicken, I have ever tasted. Moist and the seasoning rub was excellent. My wife had the Cypress burger, with sliced avocado on a great jalapeño butter bun.

https://www.thebackyardgrill.com/

Ok now, back to the mirror hunt. This “antique” mirror might have been barely of legal drinking age. I didn’t check the ID but maybe, barely 21 years old. We struck out on the mirror quest but we did drop a pin on the map for future dining and drinking outings. Now a short 33 mile drive back home.

On a Brewing note, I racked my SMaSH IPA over into the secondary…..yes I sampled the cylinder pulled for the gravity check, 1.056 to 1.012 – very nice and probably finished. I will dry hop with 2 ounces of Mosaic pellets for 5 days, then crash cool to 35 F, before bottling. I started with 12# of Marris Otter malt, 1 ounce of Mosaic at start of boil, 1.5 ounces at 40 minutes and 20 minutes later, 1.5 ounces at flame out. I added 1/2 tsp of Irish Moss at 30 minutes.

One another note, my first wine making effort is also ready to bottle. I have 4.5 gallons of wild Mustang grape wine begging to be bottled. I won’t back sweeten this batch. It is finished but I wouldn’t call it dry. It will still need to sit for about a year before drinking. FYI, wild Mustang grapes grow wild all over our area – often mistaken for Muscadines but they are distinctly different if you look at leaves. Also, Mustangs ripen at the end of June and Muscadines at the end of summer.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

My Bucket List is Growing Exponentially

Maybe I should just quit clicking on beer related goodies from blogs and other beer related ads and email subscriptions sending me hoppy stuff! This morning in my mai was an email from CraftBeer.com sent by jay@brewersassociation.com. Thanks Jay, you highjacked my morning reading. The lead in was “Announcing 2018’s Great American Beer Bars”. How could I resist? 51 offerings, 50 states and the den of liars of Washington DC. I got carried away, there is a tab in the menu for “Travel”….. more for my bucket List! Damn!

https://www.craftbeer.com/breweries/great-american-beer-bars-2018

This website is just overloaded with food, beer, travel, beer, brewery info, beer, FESTIVAL info(now my head is spinning and not from the Bells Hopslam!) and more beer stuff! Let’s do the math, 51 Great American Beer Bars, I am weeks away from 67 – If I knock off 10 per year that puts me at age 72, BUT – something tells me the list will be updated every year! Hmmmmm, throw in a few beer festivals, local breweries and damn, I do love to eat…..I think I am short on the requisite years required! So, what should an old, no – let’s say a mature, beer drinker do?

My wife actually makes lists and scratches off the completed item. I have resisted the activity, yes, when I do I am more productive and accomplish more……well, not really more! I kind of like the spontaneous way I roll……..it does create a need for me to stock up on “round-to-its” – they are in short supply according to my wife…..LOL! OK, I’ll make a list.

Or……..

Maybe I can visit vicariously……if you are reading this blog and have hit one of the “Great American Beer Bars” on the list….Please send me the juicy details in the comments section…..it may help! I will accept your nominations too……

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

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.

DSC_5179

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

DSC_5181

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

Flying “Under the Radar”

Saturday September 3rd found daughter Lisa and I at a new brewery in downtown Houston, “Under the Radar”. The day started with a play at the Alley Theater in Houston, “A Night With Janis Joplin”.  Great play and the lead in the play, Kacee Clanton, was channeling Janis Joplin’s spirit…….from nearby Port Arthur, TX. We attended the 2:30 afternoon performance so we were free to explore downtown. What better form of exploration than to find a new brewery and partake.

My good friend and fellow homebrewer, Mike and his lovely wife Annette had texted me last weekend from the Grand Opening of “Under the Radar Brewery”! Lisa and I were a week late for the Grand Opening but, as the old cliché goes, better late than never.  We arrived in time to witness the end of the Texas A&M Aggies take an OT win over my old school, UCLA. While catching the two point conversion by UCLA I struck up a conversation with a young lady, named Kelli, intently watching the game. She is an Aggie, “Poli Sci” major and yes of course, an attorney. Better yet, she is married to one of the owners. More about that connection later.

We found a close and convenient parking spot at 1506 Truxillo Street (home of the brewery and beer garden), adjacent to the Deutscher Fleschwagen food vendor! Oh my…..translation is the “German Meat wagon/truck.” The smells were heavenly and I will have to report out on another visit about the food. Lisa and I were focused on the beers for this visit.

File Sep 04, 10 54 53 AM

A look from the beer garden with the brewhouse in the background.

First round….for $ 15.00 I bought a logo glass and 3 tokens, we added a fourth token for an additional $5.00. Our choices were;

Dirty Blonde – I ordered the Blonde, I know, those of you that know me, are probably shaking your head because I tend to be an IPA fan, the hoppier the better. Lisa is a bit like me and she wanted the IPA….I  knew I would get a sip. I liked the Blonde and I know my wife will enjoy it.

Mid  Frequency IPA – Lisa…..yes she got the IPA. A good solid IPA, not over the top with bitterness. A good very drinkable IPA.

Midtown Bock – Because of commitments we decided to hold onto a token and sample the Bock and Porter on another visit.

Porter Authority

Radar Love – a light Hefeweizen. Now, I don’t normally drink Hefeweizens, but on this warm late afternoon I ordered  and glad I did. Very nice beer and very refreshing….coulda had another……. Just enough Magnum hops to keep it interesting but not enough to have my wife turn her nose up at it….So, Kathy my dear, there are two beers on this list that you will love.

File Sep 04, 10 57 53 AM

A listing of the usual offerings

There are plenty of tables to share with other likeminded beer drinkers with a nice mix of sun and shade in the beer garden. There is a Dynamo cornhole set on site to keep teams and groups talking smack and destroying their opponents. I noticed a few folks carrying in food and snacks as well as folks making use of the Deutscher Fleischwagen.

File Sep 04, 10 54 17 AM

Patrons enjoying a great day to drink beer……

Back to Kelli now. She introduced Lisa and I to her husband, Mike Norfleet, one of the three owners and still dabbling in his civil engineering work….He is a Purdue grad, but, he brews some very good beers so I will cut him some slack and …….  he did have the good sense to marry an Aggie! We chatted about beer, duh, as well as bees & honey. I think I put a bug in his ear to create a Honey Blonde or something similar somewhere down the road. I don’t have the inventory to supply enough for a 10 barrel batch…..It would be cool to find a local downtown source!  I told Kelli and Mike that I would see if I can find a contact for them.

We waited around long enough to catch a brewery tour conducted by Mike. He definitely has a passion for the craft and delivers with a strong authoritative voice. He also asked me to behave and not answer any of his questions…..I complied. The brewhouse is a 10 barrel system and they utilize 3 fermenters that also double up as brite tanks for force carbonating prior to kegging. They don’t have a bottling line so everything is kegged and distributed locally.

File Sep 04, 10 53 34 AM

Mike Norfleet, one of the owners up on his podium…..walkway between the mash tun and brew pot….delivering the beginning of an excellent tour of the brewery.

File Sep 04, 10 52 34 AM

Mike again…..drinking a cold one and leading the tour.

I am anxious for another excuse to wander downtown and sample the remaining two beers. It won’t be long. FYI, Mike and Kelli like Hay Merchant and I do believe you can find an Under the Radar offering there.

PS, Kelli, if we can keep it a secret, I will bring a 22 oz. bomber of my 3 year old Russian Imperial Stout, 11% ABV and aged on toasted, bourbon soaked oak.

Deutscher Fleischwagen

http://www.undertheradarbrewery.com/index.html

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

#undertheradarbrewery

#anightwithjanisjoplin

Beer, Bluebonnets, Wine and Rings

Friday was a road trip with our best friends, Bev and John. We did have a purpose to the trip, but the route was allowed to be managed from the male perspective. The one given, and not subject to deviation, was a meeting with our youngest son receiving his class ring at Texas A&M in the 4:45 PM grouping. The tradition of the ring is pretty well understood within the state of Texas but it is a bit foreign to those on the outside. Rather than spending a chunk of time trying to explain it, the following link will put it into context for all y’all that may be interested. Just a side note, I have spent most of my life in the petroleum industry and that Aggie ring network is powerful and widespread.

http://aggietraditions.tamu.edu/symbols/aggiering.html

John and I knew we had to arrive in Aggieland in time to buy Joe and the entourage lunch and still make the ring event. The rest of the planning was up to us. Beer was on our list and we chose the Brazos Valley Brewery as a stop on the return trip. On the trip to College Station, Aggieland, we selected a small winery in Chappel Hill, Texas Star Winery on the day before the Bluebonnet Festival…..for you non Texans, Bluebonnets are the state flower and kind of a big thing. No, they are a really big thing…..this is Texas after all.

The winery was almost a non-stop. We pulled into the parking lot at opening time and we were met by a distinguished looking gentleman several years my senior….He was an A&M grad and was proudly displaying his ring. He also told us that the winery was closed for a private event….Bummer………… Fortunately John needed to get rid of some coffee and ran into the winery owner….the esteemed Aggie had it a little wrong….the tasting room down the hill was open!

Off to the tasting room and we were the first four folks in the door. Fifteen minutes later a couple of younger women walked in and they were a hoot. Yes, they were Aggies, both proudly displaying their rings. The wines were interesting and we bought a couple of bottles to take with us….Conversation with the young women was also very interesting and very Texas infused. Seems that one of the businesses that one of the gals was involved with was the selling of bull semen. Apparently lucrative and again, very Texan. Sly smiles and subdued chuckles all around.

Winery 1

Outside the winery tasting room.

Winery 2

Inside the tasting room

Back on the road to stay on the timeline John and I had planned. We wandered the backroads through ranch land, rolling hills and occasional patches of Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes and Texas Longhorns. We found a nice little open field on a sharp corner turn for some quick photos on the way to meet the gang for lunch prior to the Aggie ring event. This year’s Bluebonnet display was nice but paled in comparison to last year’s trip to Muleshoe Bend near Johnson City.

Flowers

We made it on time to College Station and gathered the gang up for lunch at Madden’s in Bryan, the town is melded to College Station. This party of 8 included my son Joe, an Aggie friend and former swimmer at Kingwood HS and A&M University, Austin, another Kingwood HS swimming friend, Steve and Steve’s girlfriend Alisa. Oh yes, and the four that started out on the journey. Great meal and great conversation until I said something about the Aggie gals at the winery and the phrase bull semen. Apparently I said it loud enough that some of the 8 at our table dipped their heads and folks around us spun their heads around in apparent disbelief, amazement….Oh well, not the first time I have been a little too frank or as some may say clueless, about my choice of words. Those who know me well shrugged it off as one of those “Bishop” moments.

The ring event was an efficiently run affair, an Aggie engineered event run by four hundred volunteers. The smile on my son’s face was well worth the trip. He is a Petroleum Engineering student and has now joined an amazing fraternity of Aggies. It will provide a powerful network for the future.

Ring 1

My little son with his ring and with his proud parents!

OK, now for the beer. I violated the code. My wife Kathy knew where we were off to, but we kept the final surprise from Beverly. We did tell her we were heading toward Brenham, Texas. Lots of options there in her mind, antique shops, restaurants and the awesome Bluebell Ice Cream Factory. Word of warning….navigating the confusing streets in the downtown area is difficult and made more difficult with 3 navigators. We managed to find the Brewery and now the cat was out of the bag. Note to others heading that way, the sign on the outside of the patio area says Brenham Brewery but the real name is the Brazos Valley Brewery.

This is a very comfortable and unpretentious place. The friendliest people that you could ever imagine. I also learned that this 6 degrees of separation is much, much smaller. I have to tell the story. John had engaged a seasoned gentleman in conversation. In the conversation John shared that he and Bev were from Rhode Island and mentioned that Kathy and I were from California. Somehow during the conversation, Tom, the seasoned gentleman, asked where I lived in California. His response was, “I lived in Taft!” Small world! I told him that I was born in Taft….well we had a Taft conversation and world travels in the oil filed discourse…I hated to end the conversation, just for a short bit because the flight of beers I ordered were not getting any colder.

Here is my flight……Golden Ale, Silt Brown Ale, Black IPA and the Cream Ale. Very well brewed and more than drinkable. This is the first brewery where my wife uttered these words, “Every one of the beers I tried were very good. Not a bad beer in the bunch!” High praise from her as she can be a discerning beer drinker…OK – just a bit picky sometimes.

One of the Brewers and a man of great business sense, David Nowowiejski, took us on a personal tour of the brewery. Wow, clean and well organized. The man knows his stuff. He answered all my questions, and that is saying something because my wife always tells me I quiz the brewers too much in all of our visits! We bought two six-packs of the Golden Ale to bring home with us….my wife loves it and for a non IPA I enjoy it too!

I just have to mention….this place is one where you aren’t a stranger from the moment you step onto the patio. I will sing the praises and pass along great reviews to any and all beer drinkers I meet.

File Apr 12, 3 35 06 PM

L-R Old Man Bishop, Lovely wife Kathy, “Goo” friend John and his Lovely wife Bev. Selfie at the Brewery! Note the black eye my wife gave me has almost faded away! She didn’t really  mean to hit me.

 

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly,

Bishop