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

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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

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

Not Quiet Anymore

I have been quiet on this blog since May 29, 2018……I have pent up things to say about beer and more. I am in Kenedy Texas…..Yes, Kenedy with one “n”…..it is a Texas thing, don’t fight it.

Last night my workmate and I pulled into a little place in Kenedy, Texas called 5D Grill and Lounge. Simple but good food and a friendly wait staff. They are a small chain with locations in oilfield towns like Kenedy, Monahans, TX, Carrizo Springs, TX, Yorktown, TX, and soon in La Vernia, TX. I decided I needed a beer last night and was pleasantly surprised. They had Elysian Space Dust IPA in a bottle. I had to say wow! It was wonderful “…..so I had another for dessert”….Thanks Kris Kristofferson for the line and Johnny Cash and Ray Price for making it famous.

Elysian Space Dust – Wow. Chinook hops up front and later on for bitterness and dry hopped with Citra and Amarillo hops. Some of my favorite hops that I use at home. ABV was enough to cut it off after two bottles, 8.2% ABV. Not overly hoppy at 73 IBU’s but it was a great blend and my palate was happy! I am actually a bit surprised that a beer like this would wind up out in a “kinda” remote location and a town 3200 people. It just shows that the buyer must know good beer!

spacedust-carousel2

Just Yummy…..

Link to locator…..yes they serve it all over Houston. Plug your zip code in to see if you get lucky!

In the near future I will post a wine making adventure. Wild Mustang grapes form the woods around Kingwood, TX

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

Bees & SMaSH IPA

I made a run to my two most distant Apiaries today. One in Splendora and the other in Grangerland – also known as the “berry farm”. I needed to add a deep box to one of my new hives in Splendora and poked my nose into see if the supers were filling with honey on the other three hives. They look promising but still a few weeks away from being ready for extracting.

Out at the berry farm I pulled 5 nicely filled frames. Would love to have had more Ready but – it will be a very good season based on the activity I saw today. The weather – 90 degrees F and 57% humidity made for a warm day. The bees were bearded up on the outside to keep the inside temperatures under control.

FYI- I am not feeding the bees, just haven’t removed the feeder yet! It was hot and I couldn’t beard up! I just had to sweat my ass off! For whatever reason, and they won’t tell you, the girls in the 8 frame hive were a little defensive today – Therefore, full gear and lots of sweat!

Upon return home and before unloading the truck – oh yes, and setting up in the garage to extract honey – I treated myself to my excellent SMaSH IPA! How can I tell what I’m drinking as in, I don’t put labels on my bottles? I use a bottle cap code. The SMaSH is a patriotic beer!

A hint of honey money in upper left background of the photo…… yes, I sell honey.

Ah, there is the box needing extraction! Now, I was interrupted at about 2/3 finished with my beer by my phone ringing. My friend and fellow Home brewer, Mike H, severely twisted my arm and forced me to delay extracting honey- Beer was the reason. “Meet me at Hop Stop in Humble”, more of a statement than a request.

Every Thursday they offer a rotating sampler and….. good folks, good conversation and a good place to drink beer. Traffic was crap, especially on the return trip, but it was well worth the trip….thanks Mike!

Still managed to extract and clean up. Lovely amber honey from the berry farm- “Blakelock’s Berries”. Check them out on Facebook.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop