Beer, Bees and Bugs in Brenham

On hold and misplaced since mid April”

Actually the bees were the first part of the day.  I was enrolled in a daylong event for beekeepers, 550 of us.  Should have been one more but I somehow failed to get my bride enrolled. The late fee at the registration table was more than we wanted to spend….I actually did learn a lot of useful information and I am already looking forward to the 2017 event. I need some honey production to replace the Honey Blonde that my wife fell in love with and I was too generous handing it out to others!

The previous week we, Kathy and friends Bev and John, were in Brenham visiting the Brazos Valley Brewing Company. Besides enjoying the beers I was also a bit excited knowing that the crawfish boil at the brewery coincided with the Brenham bee school. YEE HAW! Even better the iPhone map indicated a 6 minute drive from the Washington County Fairgrounds would put me in the parking lot at the brewery. The spicy aroma of boiled crawfish was wafting across the parking lot as I arrived. Yum, and cold beer too!

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Bugs, taters, corn and a first for me, mushrooms.

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Another load dumped out onto the table ready for consumption.

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Just about enough for a meal. As they say in Louisiana, “Pinch dem tails and suck dem heads. FYI – there is a good bit of yellow fat in the head. Either suck it out or dig it out with a long finger nail….Don’t give that look…..!

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The day’s offerings. Pretty much love them all, my wife loves the Golden Ale. Say hi to Robert about to exit, stage right.

 

David, one of the brewers, was manning the boil pot and he was just amazing. He kept a steady flow of spicy, but not overly spicy crawfish (mudbugs), coming out of the pot along with corn, potatoes and a first for me, large mushrooms!  Loved the mushrooms!!!!! Robert behind the bar, the guy that does whatever needs to be done and doing  well poured, my flight of beers. I had both brown ales, the Golden and the IPA that was missing from last week’s visit. Can’t say enough about the quality of the beers.

FullSizeRender Dave

This is Dave. Say hi to Dave if you go visit.

For a drizzly and misty, rainy night there was a hardy crowd enjoying mud bugs, beer and friends. Sing by and visit. About 8 minutes east of Highway 290 you can discover the charm of the historic downtown Brenham area and indulge in some great beers. Slow down and smell the hops and maybe the malts!

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Not enough drizzle to upset the regulars!

 

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

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Inspiration before Perspiration

Sitting on the patio enjoying an almost perfect Houston evening. It is about 74 degrees F or 23 degrees C for the rest of the world, a cold home brew in my hand and chicken on the grill.

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A small glass of my Honey Blonde Ale. My wife confronted me and asked if I was drinking “her beer”. I  had to admit, “Yes dear, I am”. Chill out Hun – it was only 8 ounces! Insert smiley happy face here! I was using a brewery sample glass from Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, Texas. Sure was good!

The chicken is smelling very good. @ $ 1.27 per pound!!!!   whole roasting chicken cut in half. Season with Lowry’s and garlic. Yum!

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That describes the inspiration for my next brew, a Session IPA! Target ABV will be 4.6% or so. Hops, this is where I will get my thrills, 7 ounces of Mosaic Hops. Three of the seven will be used to dry hop the beer as it sits in the secondary fermenter. Six and half pounds of domestic two row malt, one pound of Munich malt, one pound of domestic wheat malt and a half pound of 40L crystal malt.

Mashing and hopping schedule will be run through Beersmith and reported out on brew day, possibly tomorrow or the next day. (Wednesday doesn’t look good so it will be Thursday February 18th.)

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly
Bishop

Christmas Advent Calendar-Craft Beer Style

I am blessed with an amazing woman that consented to become my wife over 33 years ago. Among the many things we have in common is a fondness for beer, good beer! My fondness may cross over to an obsession for very good beers. As any good Catholic girl knows, Christmas is a time for Advent Calendars. FYI, Advent Calendars originate with the German Lutherans and has become common among most Christian faiths.

How does an Advent Calendar fit in a beer blog you might ask? It was discovered in my wife’s Pintrest account. I have one but I am not quite that Pintrest savvy – yet! Ok, how is it done? She built a massive book case thing out of oak with little doors for each of the 24 Advent days. Each little door was large enough and deep enough for a 12 ounce bottle of beer lying on it’s side. All hardware was polished brass and finished natural with high gloss Tung Oil. Each little door was built like paneled doors and the edges rounded with a router. SMACK!  Sorry I was dreaming!

Maybe next year! This year she used a shoe holder, 24 pockets that hangs on a door. Each pocket was numbered in Christmas colors. Each mystery bottle was wrapped in tissue and festooned with a ribbon. Isn’t she clever? See below;

Isn't that the coolest idea?

Isn’t that the coolest idea?

Today’s offering was from Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, CA. Hmmmm 1967 also comes to mind. Why? It is a story for another time, involves lifeguarding, beer, swimming, old friends and rock concerts!

Great beer! Great aroma, near perfect bitterness. Love it!

Great beer! Great aroma, near perfect bitterness. Love it!

What a gal and what a gift!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly!

Bishop

 

 

The Brewery Tours – Whole Foods Market Houston

I had originally planned on a separate post for each stop but I wanted to keep my promise to the brewers and get the ball rolling.

July 11thWhole Foods Market, yes – Whole Foods Market – they have an awesome brewery in the store. The head brewer, Dave Ohmer, is the creative and driving force behind the efforts. I used the plural to reflect his commitment to continually brewing a new beer, never repeating. You will not find a flagship beer associated with the Brewery. If you find a beer you really like you better campout in the store and drink it until it is gone……because it ain’t coming back.

The day we were there was a bit of a family gathering….and we all lover beer! Daughters, Ashleigh and Lisa, friend of daughter Ashleigh….and she really loves beer…..LOL….Don’t hold it against me Ferrin, I meant it as a compliment, my son and his GF Cheryl Again, another two beer lovers. Last and definitely not least my wife Kathy…..a beer drinker for a very long time…maybe even HS age when her older brothers would stash beer in the bushes in the alley behind the house for her. Hun, the kids are old enough to hear these stories now.

Back to the Whole Foods story. We met for lunch, you can pick something up in the store and consume in the Brewery area or order off a menu. We did a mix of both. The day of our visit they had 12 house brewed beers on tap and a couple of guest beers. They variety and creativity is pretty amazing. A word to beer lovers, if you find one on the menu you like, carve out some time to continue drinking, come back often because once that batch is gone it will be only a memory!

Ten of the twelve Whole Foods beers on tap that day.

Ten of the twelve Whole Foods beers on tap that day.

I got a chance to meet with Dave, the head brewer, and we had a 20-30 minute beer discussion…. We are not beer nerds….I think we are a little beyond being beer nerds and definitely not beer snobs. We have a love for beer, brewing beer, enjoying new and interesting beers and love talking beer. And talk we did….He has a deep background in brewing….from being the clean-up guy all the way to head brewer.

Dave and me talking beer before heading into the back room.

Dave and me talking beer before heading into the back room.

While in the back room on the other side of the glass he let me sample a Belgian made with smoked pears, pears from the store, smoked in the smoker on site in the store and then mashed up and fermented along with the rest of the wort. So danged good. I asked why they won’t have a regular group of beers and then do seasonal’s or trials of others? At this point in time he told me, their plan is to never beer brew the same recipe again….they will produce a similar style but every batch will be unique.

On the other side of the glass....great equipment, amazing brewing knowledge and a very creative guy!

On the other side of the glass….great equipment, amazing brewing knowledge and a very creative guy!

If you are local – head on over. Whole Foods on Post Oak near the Galleria. If you are in for a visit….well some people like to shop at the galleria – and if you are like me, you could hang out a Whole Foods until the other party has finished shopping….if there is such a thing as finished shopping. Be nice Bishop….it could be said that there is a similar feeling about beer sampling!

Four beer sampler....so good!

Four beer sampler….so good!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

My First All Grain Batch of Beer

I finally bit the bullet and invested the time to brew an all grain beer. What does all grain mean? The link below will provide a good description but the short answer is best explained by tracking my brewing progression.
I, or I should say we, John, Pat and I pooled our brewing equipment and formed our Laverton Avenue Brewing group. Laverton Avenue was our neighborhood street in the early 90’s in Bakersfield, CA. We started off using kits. We bought the extract, a thick syrup of malted grains, yeast, bottling sugar and hops. Kits can make great beers and we made some good ones and some that were OK.

I then began brewing solo as I migrated to Texas. I expanded into doing partial mash, that is, using specialty grains add complexity, new flavors, color and more body to the beers. I also began to “keg” as well as bottle my beers. I use Tap-a-Draft 6 Liter mini kegs. I have made some really good beers this way.
Today was step 3…..all grain, no sticky extract syrups, just all grain that needed conversion through a mashing and sparging process, converting the starches to fermentable sugars. The variations can be mind boggling and quite complex. I stayed simple and lots of craft breweries use a single infusion process for their beers.
I used 8 lbs. of pale two row malt, 1 lbs. of Naked Golden Oats and a pound of local honey. The beer, it will be called “Naked Honey Blonde Ale”…… just to be a little racy. I have almost exactly 5 gallons fermenting as I write. Cascade hops for both bittering and aroma. I plugged everything into a great software program for brewers….BeerSmith. It is almost idiot proof. Based on the ingredients you plug in BeerSmith , it makes all of the calculations.
Just a side note….the program calculated an original gravity of 1.046 and I came in at 1.041. Way cool! It estimated the SRM color as 3.2 – Check out the photo below….very Blonde!!!!
It added about an extra two hours to my brew day but I think it will be very worth it! Just have to wait about 6 weeks from today….
http://www.brewplus.com/making-beer/beer-homebrewing-extract-brew-vs-all-grain-brew/

PS: I plan on mopping the kitchen floor tomorrow!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

My Golden Wheat Red IPA to help the lengthy brewing process.

My Golden Wheat Red IPA to help with the lengthy brewing process.

 

Looks like SRM 3.2  to me...Naked Honey Blonde!

Looks like SRM 3.2 to me…Naked Honey Blonde!

 

 

To Your Health

I subscribe to a weekly online post called the “Weekly Pint”. Always informative and usually entertaining. Last January an article caught my eye – drinking a hoppy beer like my preferred style, IPA, may reduce the chances of catching a cold. I love it when I can tout the health benefits of drinking beer….. The winter cold season is approaching so…..What do we need to do? Read on and find out.

I dove in to the article, as I read further I realized that I needed to temper my enthusiasm! The promising research showed that ingesting large amounts of humulone, a key ingredient in hops, the best part of my preferred beer style – see above in case you forgot that I love IPA’s of all kinds, yes some more than others – nonetheless they are all good, can actually be good for your health (a lengthy run on sentence). So how many IPA’s would I need to pound down to fend off Respiratory Syncyital virus? Just 30 beers at one sitting would provide enough protection to ward off the virus. Dang it….that would definitely max out my daily intake limits by – hmmmm somewhere in the neighborhood  of 10 times. Let’s hope that the researchers mentioned in the article will find more benefits of hops – in a more practical dosage!

http://link.weeklypint.com/view/5032e2fddc87ac0b4f0b2ce5tn1c.2e1/a70bbd88

“Humulone

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Humulone and its “cousins” adhumulone, cohumulone, prehumulone, and posthumulone are α-acids found in the resin of hops (Humulus lupulus). They are precursors to iso-α-acids, the predominant contributors to bitterness in beer. H. Bungener isolated humulone from commercial hops in 1886, but it wasn’t until 1970 that D. DeKeukeleire and M. Verzele determined its absolute configuration.” Facts from Wikipedia – a most trusted source!

Now you know……. probably mare than you wanted to know! As a bar trick you could use the information above to draw the molecule on a bar napkin and impress all of your friends!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Dry Hopping Dilemma

I should not read any more! If you have been following along I am brewing an “inspiration” IPA based on my mistaken read of the chalkboard at the Lengthwise Brewery Pub out in the Marketplace, Bakersfield, California. The ale is designed to be a “Golden Wheat Red IPA” based o the combined three individual local beers on tap. I failed to report that the bartender had poured a mixed blend for some customers who gave the blend high marks. I just decided to try and brew that blend. Post with recipe located here;

http://wp.me/p1qlvz-ec

So here is my dilemma. I transferred the beer into the secondary carboy with 1 ounce of Amarillo hop pellets sitting on the bottom. Once the beer was transferred, I gave the carboy a nice swirl to get the pellets to settle. I then carried it out to my temperature controlled chest freezer. I now need to decide on a temperature scheme/schedule during the dry hopping phase. From my exploration of the web I find too many choices, schemes, schedules and opinions!

  • Two days at room temperature and then crash to 35 degrees for up to two weeks.
  • Five to seven days at low room temperatures then rack off and package.
  • Five to seven days at room temperature and then crash to 35 degrees for 2 days prior to packaging.
  • And too many variations to list!!!

My choice – the logic I like is; hold the beer at a temperature that will allow the aromatic oils in the Amarillo hops to best express their amazing aroma.  So, five days at 65-67 degrees then crash to 35 degrees for a couple of days to aid in clarifying the beer before I bottle. I am convinced that the beer will be very good!

While racking the beer into the secondary I noted that the fermentation was vigorous – the Krausen was thick and reached the lid of the primary. I guess that I was lucky that it didn’t lift the lid or fill the airlock. Note to self: consider a blow-off tube next time for the early yeast activity!

Transfer from primary fermenter to the secondary and hop pellets floating on top.

Transfer from primary fermenter to the secondary and hop pellets floating on top.

Hop pellets floating on top of the beer - kinda look like the rabbit pellets we fed them!

Hop pellets floating on top of the beer – kinda look like the rabbit pellets we fed them!

 

Evidence of the Krausen on the sides... gotta be a good beer.

Evidence of the Krausen on the sides… gotta be a good beer.

I bet some of you are thinking, is he going to drink that? Yes I am!

Drink Responsibly and Drink Local

Bishop