Session Beer Is Conditioning

My session beer is conditioning and my wife has asked my several times, “When will it be ready?” I take that as a very positive comment. She has sampled it on several of the steps…Primary fermenter to the secondary and again when I bottled it.  I have been attempting to capture the step by step process to share here but work got in the way. I am really trying to keep that nuisance of work impacting my hobbies but it does pay the bills!

I think I mentioned a while back that this was a SMaSH recipe. Single Malt and Single Hops. It was intended to beer and not too hoppy. Based on my wife’s feedback it meets the  minimal hops criteria and it is light in color…..she usually equates flavor with color but her education on better beers is opening her eyes a little.

I started off with the guys down at the Backyard Homebrewing and Education Center. Laid back bunch of folks and passionate about beer – puts them near the top of my list! If you are a local – check them out. I used to go down to Defalcos on the southwest side of Houston. They are a good bunch of folks too but too far away.

I left the beer in the secondary an additional week – mostly because I was lazy and busy….any excuse will do! That is not necessarily a bad thing. The beer is beautifully clear……a color that my wife likes and very easy to drink…..based on the samples and needs another few days hun! We can drink it his weekend, March 9-10.

The single malt extract is being weighed out.

The single malt extract is being weighed out.

Nice selection of grain along the wall..... next batch will be all grain. I think I have said that before.

Nice selection of grain along the wall….. next batch will be all grain. I think I have said that before.

Something to make the visit to the store worth the effort!

Something to make the visit to the store worth the effort!

Nice color....for my gravity down to 1.011...Perfect!

Nice color….for my wife….final gravity down to 1.011…Perfect!

Drink Local, Drink Responsibly –





Pumpkin Ale is In the Bottle

Two days ago I managed to get a window of time and bottle the Pumpkin Ale. The process went smooth…sanitized the kitchen and equipment, kept my hands away from those unsanitary places, no nose picking or scratching the nether lands! One of the simple lessons learned from the local store, Backyard Homebrewers and Education Center, was the use of a misting spray bottle filled with the sanitizer used for the equipment. It comes in very handy.

After struggling with the house being warmer than I want for the fermentation period I now struggle with the house being a bit too cool for the conditioning period for the bottled Pumpkin Ale! I may need to get the heating pad out for a few days to get the Ale off to a good start. The sample pulled to check the final gravity was sampled by my son Ben and his good friend Chuck Ciliske. Chuck is a West Point grad in town in order to get married on the 30th! Both young men gave the sample good marks with the comment that the pumpkin flavor was not overwhelming. I agreed as I tossed back the remaining few sips. The final gravity came in at a very nice 1.010….. the calculated ABV should be somewhere around 5%. A nice beer to drink without getting too toasty.

I can’t remember if I mentioned sampling the Imperial Stout on Christmas Day? Just a bit of CRS cropping up…..It had been nearly a month since my last taster and the beer is mellowing nicely. I still think the 6 month mark is the target date for sharing with friends. I may set a few bottles back and let them mature for more than a year or so, available for Christmas and New Year’s Eve in 2013. I have one bottle that escaped consumption from my December 2010 batch…..being held for Ben’s graduation from LSU in May of 2013.

Pefect philosophy -

Perfect philosophy –

The only bad beer is no beer!

Drink local and drink responsibly!



Imperial Stout Additions

Not many votes but my first choice was number one on the list. Oak infused with bourbon has been designated as the route to take. I decided to make my own oak spirals – not really a spiraling cut but I believe it will work. I shot a video of my handiwork on the lathe creating extra surface are for the oaky and bourbon flavors but couldn’t post on this blog – just still photos. I have enough to make many more for a fraction of the cost of commercial oak spirals.  I also roasted the oak in the oven 1 hour 45 minutes at 400 F and 30 minutes at 450 F. I wandered off during the roasting process to run some errands….when I returned to the house I could detect the “robust” odor of roasted oak… wife’s description of the odor was not as complimentary….she had her candles burning in an attempt to mask that wonderful robust and oaky scent.

I cut the spiral cut dowel to fit into a wide-mouthed mason jar. I went off to the liquor store to buy the bourbon, a less expensive bourbon than I have in the bar……No Pappy Van Winkle for this effort, I bought Evan Williams – a Kentucky bourbon. I chatted with the store clerk and she seemed to know a little bit about bourbon. I explained my intent and she offered this one as having a bit of a smoky flavor. The reviews are not real good as a drinking bourbon – I did pour a little over ice and I think I would agree with many of the reviewers – mix it with something, do not drink neat or even over ice(my choice). Should be fine for my intended purposes though.

The dowel partially cut – repeated the pattern the entire length using my parting tool.

Same dowel viewed from a different angle. Left rough for better liquid absorption and release of flavor.

I will allow it to soak for another week, then transfer my Stout over into the secondary and add my bourbon soaked oak dowel.

PS – the color of the dowel after roasting was about the same color as “tanning moms” face at her peak of brown-ness….roasted oaky brown is my description of her hue!