No, I Haven’t Stopped Brewing

I have a couple of new brews to share and a kegerator build to share.

No, it is not a Shiner Juicy IPA. It is my first one that I have ever brewed, my first to grace my new kegerator and…. it is pretty damned good.

Since the Wit Bier i wrote about last, I have brewed and bottled a Honey Blonde Ale using honey from one of my apiary locations. Next up was a deviation from anything I have brewed in the past, it was a New England style hazy and juicy IPA. I didn’t bottle it but it is the first beer into my new kegerator…..see photo above.

The Wit Bier was a success but, ……… the choice of Citrus zest was not as good as the prior batch, at least according to my wife. Others tasting the current batch give it high marks but don’t have the reference point of the prior batch.

What made the prior batch special? The zest for the Wit Bier makes a bigger impact than I would have expected. I used a store bought grapefruit as well as a store bought Blood Orange. The lemon was a homegrown Meyer Lemon, sweet and very aromatic. At my wife’s request no coriander is ever used in my Wit Biers due to her dislike of it from my very first batch. The current batch was brewed with all store bought citrus. The brew store Guru, Preston Brown, down at “The Grain Cellar” in Humble, TX, has suggested using all blood orange in the future. Interestingly, if it is not in the stores it can be brewed with blood orange purée. I may have to research this approach.

Let me turn my attention to the kegerator. I toyed with the idea of using a chest freezer but finally settled on in upright refrigerator with the freezer on top. I brainstormed a little with myself, small storm and no sparks, and decided that top freezer portion could be used as a chalkboard as well as a magnet surface. I used chalk paint and framed it as if it were a real chalkboard. The space will be used to note which beer is on each of the 4 taps.

Chalkboard painted surface surrounded by 1X4 cedar boards. Should be more than adequate space.

The interior of the bottom portion will easily hold 4 Cornelius kegs as well as one or two commercial style 5 or 7.5 gallon kegs along with the Cornelius kegs. One concern is tap handle clearance for opening the freezer where frosty mugs will be located. I measured concern and maybe twice…… I decided to run a horizontal center line on the third 1X4 below the freezer.

The lucky mistake…..I sat down, drew the lines and drill hole locations and drilled the fourth board down, not the third. Crap! If I had drilled the third board down I would have intersected a molded obstruction not allowing me to properly secure the taps!
That molded strip would have caused an epic fail! It was a very lucky accident.
Four Cornelius kegs easily fir with plenty of clearance. Now…. to brew and keg!

First up was the aforementioned New England Style IPA. Lots of hops, very little up front for bittering, a good dose at flame out, another good dose steeped after the boil and three rounds of dry hopping. I have learned the this dry hopping schedule give the beer it’s haze and the citrusy hops provide the “juicy” part of the flavor profile.

Scientifically speaking, “haze is a combination of polyphenol and protein molecules that associate via hydrogen bonding and become visible,” explains John Palmer, author of How to Brew. Suspended yeast, which is different than protein-polyphenol haze, also causes cloudiness. There are some banter back and forth on this style, but to me it comes down to you and your preferences. Me, I can drink almost any and every style…….except for Sours……not for me!

First pour off the kegerator, the Hazy Juicy IPA……..not the Shiner version…..I just happened to score the tap handle, actually a box of various ones, from my Denver based daughter. (Repeat of top photo)
A toast to Texas and a hazy IPA.

In the fermenter now is a West Coast style IPA. “West Coast IPAWest Coast IPAs are known for the huge hop aroma bursting with notes of citrus and tropical fruits. Their malt character is understated, and they finish dry to let the layered hop flavors and aromas take center stage.” By JOHN VERIVE, Los Angeles Times, February 22, 2014.

This brew will be heavily dry hopped and should mirror the description from the Times article. Chinook for bittering, then good doses of Citra, Simcoe and Amarillo hops for very late addition, steeping and dry hopping. Should be kegging it in about 12 days!

Drink Local and Drink Responisbly

Bishop

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

Blue Moon Clone and Other Tidbits

I returned from Williston, North Dakota yesterday and racked my wife’s Blue Moon Clone over into the secondary. It was a couple days later than I wanted but, based on the gravity ready and the taste of the sample pulled for the reading…..it will be a good beer. The gravity had dropped to 1.008 – very nice and it would have been more meaningful if I had remembered to get the original gravity. Beer Smith brewing software estimated the original gravity to be 1.053 and final to be 1.018. I am well below the estimated final gravity so I suspect my original gravity may have been on the low side of the estimate. In a few days, as it settles and clears a little more,  off it will go into the minikegs and bottles.

Tidbits.

I just read through the top 50 commercial craft beers in the US as voted by the members of the American Homebrewer Association. By my count I have had 23 of the top 50. I apologize for not having tried hard enough to score higher. My newest “favorite IPA” was tied for 49th, Odell’s IPA. I believe as the distribution for Odell’s widens it will move up. If you can run down a sixer….and you like IPAs’, buy it and enjoy.

These same folks ranked brewers as well – of the top 25 I have sampled beers from 14 of them…Still have to work on better form. I think I need a plan for the second half of 2014! I will be in Chicago for a week in August so I expect to sample that market! I will be in the Paso Robles area soon and will visit the number “7” ranked brewery, Firestone Walker. It is home to my “personal” number one ranked beer, their barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout, Parabola!

Included in the article are recipes…clone recipes that are very tempting – One is a clone for an “All Day IPA” from Founders Brewing Company in Michigan…it comes in at an ABV of about 4.7%. The number one ranked beer, “Pliny the Elder” from Russian River in California is also included with a clone recipe. It is a  heavily hopped IPA that comes in at 8.2% ABV and an amazing dosage of wonderful hops! What shall a man do? Maybe both????

I have to get my wife’s beer bottled and out of the fermenting chamber. I can only ferment 2 – 5 gallon batches at a time. If I only had a bigger chest freezer! Hmmmmmmm I wonder if Santa would say that I have been a “good enough” boy this year?

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Beer, Baseball and an iPhone

Over the past few weeks I find that I have been pairing beer with lots of things….fishing, fish tacos, brewery tours, vacation sampling and now baseball……that shouldn’t be much of a surprise for anyone that has attended a baseball game….the only pairing that I can think of that I won’t write about is beer and driving. This is a family blog, no, not really, maybe more of a responsible beer blog…yeah that should work.

I was off to Midland, Texas this week earning a little money so I can continue with my many hobbies. Wednesday of this past week the local AA team, the Midland Rockhounds were returning to town to open a stand vs. the Arkansas Naturals. The attendance was sparse… not like my previous visit of a month ago. The Rockhounds were rocking the Naturals! A 5 run first inning and it was hit after hit from there on. I think I may know why we saw the low attendance – The Rockhounds are in the cellar of their division with just 24 wins…..sad…..but the poor “Naturals” were in the same position for their division with just 17 wins to show for their efforts.

Midland is still in a drought and no relief on the horizon. Odessa is proposing a 40% increase in water rates – those lawns that have some color other than dead will soon join the desert look of the region. The other drought  is for local craft beers…. I do have to give the stadium vender a pat on the back for a variety beyond the standard Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light…..You can get  on draught – Dos XX’s, Shiner Bock (Texas Beer), Blue Moon Belgian Wit, Shock Top and ………….. insert 7 hour pause here because I just flat drew a blank. I sent my work partner for this trip an SOS call to help me out and then got busy with other tasks. An hour ago I was driving down Kingwood drive and ran into the word – Ziegenbock! Ah, that’s the beer I was drinking last night….and no I did not over do it….just two beers!  Wikpedia labels it as an “imitation craft brew marketed under Anheuser-Busch’s ICS (Import – Craft – Specialty) brand, positioned as a Texan beer to compete with Shiner Bock.” It is not a bad beer and competes well with Shiner Bock! Thanks Pat for sending the “Zig” text message….

Discussion on lost thoughts – I think they leave your brain as cyberwaves and float around until your brain collides with them and they can then be pulled back in. I am sure that we all have a unique harmonic frequency for our brain waves and when we encounter one of those orphan thoughts vibrating at “our” frequency we can recapture the thought. Makes sense to me….. the science geeks will say something like – you encounter some sensory clue, sight, sound or smell that allows the brain to connect that lost thought with the neural links that were associated to that thought or idea….. I prefer my harmonic mind meld explanation better.

As an aid for this post I am sampling a local beer brewed by Karbach brewery right here in Houston. I have previously enjoyed their “Hopadillo” IPA. Tonight’s choice is their Rodeo Clown Double IPA – mmmmmmm pretty tasty and one will probably be enough for the evening. Midland, Odessa, Lubbock and or Amarillo are in need a a local craft brewery – I correct myself…. Wicked Beaver Brewery is located up in the Lubbock area – they need to market in Midland! I just did a little snooping….these guys are committed craft brewers, creative, whacked out sense of humor (I like that!) and looks like they are branching out!

Wicked Beaver Brewing LLC | West Texas Craft Brewery | Dam Good Beer

I saw a photo on their Facebook that got me thinking. There are many many millions of beer drinkers in the US. If we all shift a significant portion of our $ spent on beer to true craft brewers we can help out the good ole USA.  Cut back on your Budweiser….. it is brewed by a Belgian-Brazilian beer conglomerate….Yes they have US breweries employing US workers but they own so much of the market your shift will not be a blip on their radar. There goes my Ziegenbock choice … Now Coors, is brewed  by the Canadian Molson Coors Brewing Company and is the third-largest brewer in the United States. At least it is North American. Drink Blue Moon or Killian’s Irish Red – close to craft beers.

Now my iPhone shots from the Midland Rockhounds game.

My Jumbo Dog, mustard, catsup or ketchup – whatever, relish, onions and the West Texas favorite…smothered with jalapenos!

From our seats…. somebody liked us and set us up with box seats. Thanks Zoe at the Residence Inn in Midland. Please note the Chevron(my former employer) sign on the outfield wall. The first of several Rockhounds home runs went out way above the Chevron sign.

Blue Moon Belgian Wit beers were quite common – Go Coors.

I have to give her credit – beer in one hand – social networking with the other and she glanced up when the crowd made noise!

And heeeeeeres Rocky –

The Rouckhounds have such a great family stadium and Rocky is a favorite with the kids.

Remember – Drink local – support the guys that lovingly CRAFT your beer!

TTFN

Bishop

Lost Beer – Found

My best friend’s son just graduated from Texas A&M this past week. Son Ryan loves his beer, but that is not much of a surprise. We met Ryan the day after graduation night over at his parent’s house…Kathy and I made up a nice sample of good micro brews and a lone bottle of my aged Imperial Stout….a stout that was brewed December 2010 and has aged so very well. I took a 22 oz. bottle – John and Ryan split it three ways so we could all get a good taste of the beer. Ryan loved it!!!!! to say the least. I told him that I had held back one 22 oz. bottle for a special occasion.

I don’t know if it was the stout or the fact that he had been partying for 30 plus hours but at 9:30 PM he was horizontal and snoozing. I can only guess but a day or so later I received a text from my son Ben, a good friend of Ryan, asking me to save the last bottle of stout for him. Ryan must have bragged a little! I agreed but the beer disappeared before Ben came home to get it! Hmmmmmmm – seems like daughter Lisa absconded with it and shared it with her friend John….The report back was that he beer was superb. Sorry Ben!

I went to look at my storage locations thinking that maybe I had put a couple of bottles back but….no luck but I made a discovery……two cases of beer from a mystery batch. I use colored caps to differentiate the batches…I finished up the blue caps a month or two ago, the red caps last week, I still have the Dirty Blonde in the 6L bottle and a handful of flip top bottles of the same….where did the 45 bottles of silver capped brew come from?

Looks like the only hope for Ben getting a bottle of the Imperial Stout is if our friends the Mageean’s have not consumed all of the thqank you bottles I gave them for hosting and helping Joe this past fall. Donel Mageean is Irish so…..it is possible that it has been sampled completely.

I usually keep records of each batch brewed, dates, OG, FG, etc. But no records in my book for these 45 bottles! Ok – so lets chill one and taste it. It was very good….Like a Belgian Wit…. Where did it come from…Not Defalcos, Not Northern Brewer, not our local store in Humble…..I sometimes use Williams Brewing and I checked my order history there….ahhh in November I bought a seasonal kit…the “Christmas Wit” yes….now I remember…two cases capped with silver caps. Yeah, I think I remembered that I wanted to bottle condition for an extended period of time, yeah that’s right….and I will swear to the story.

Just add “Christmas Wit Ale” in the label area and you can imagine how the label looks on the bottle.

Beer Advice – Patience, Just Patience!

Serrano Pepper Jelly is Ready--- My Beer Isn't

On the 25th of November the kitchen saw double duty – I bottled my Dick’s Danger Ale clone and made a batch of Serrano Pepper jelly….. all of the peppers from my backyard “farm”. The jelly is so good right now……. but unfortunately I have to wait and wait.  It has been a long two weeks and I know I should have waited but…… I just had to check on it.

I had a batch of a Double Belgian Wit in my primary fermenter and it was time to transfer it over to my secondary. It is a well-known fact that to ensure a good beer, each step in the process requires a good beer in hand. I popped the top on my – what I should have known, immature beer. No, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad bit I now know that I need to be a little more patient and let this beer age a little more.

I did sample the Double Belgian and I am excited about it too! Be patient Bishop – another 15 days in the secondary and at least three weeks aging after bottling…. Let me look at the calendar -hmmmmm –  can I wait until next year before I can sample it? I will have to ……. I may even wait until Super Bowl Sunday and then bust it out……well maybe a taste test to ensure its quality is up to my standards.  I have been known to have a broad range of acceptable standards when it comes to beers. basic requirements are; 1. It must be cold and that is somewhat negotiable, 2. It must taste good and I like a lot of different flavors so again it is broad range, and 3. It must make you smile….. non-negotiable!

What’s next – I saw a good-looking for a Cream Ale – an easy drinking beer that should make my bride happy. I have a few weeks off so I will look into to it soon…. Now I need to check in with my nephew to see how his batch is coming along. And remember Sean…… be patient, use your uncle as an example…sometimes a not so goood one!

TTFN

Bishop

 

Dick’s Danger Ale is in the Secondary Fermenter

It was a busy afternoon in the kitchen/brewery. I flew in from Midland on the 5:20 AM flight this morning….. I got some feedback – I was told that the flight left at the” crack of stupid”! It was a bit early according to my who picked me up as well as my co-worker – he decided to stay in bed and have a day of leisure – my alarm went off at 3:45 AM in order to get the car back and get my “special” pat down at the security gate… this all metal left  knee sets the alarms off every time. I wonder if anyone ever gets a woodie during this pat down….? No, not me… the guy doing the pat down!

Back to the beer – I transferred the ale from the primary into the glass carboy secondary fermenter in order to clear it up and allow it to condition a little long without sitting on the spent yeast. The grab sample to check the specific gravity was so good I think I  could keg it now and charge it up with CO2 – it would be ready to drink. If it gets better over the time as  it sits before bottling  I won’t be able to keep it around. This partial grain recipe seems to be a keeper. Once I get set up to do an all grain beer I will give this ale a try as an all-grain brew. It looks very dark but isn’t heavy and is just smooth!!!!!

I was able to do a pretty good job of avoiding collisions with my daughter Lisa and my lovely wife. Halloween party tonight with Lisa and friends. She made some of those Ritz cracker and peanut butter cookies dipped in melted almond bark and decorated Halloween style. I wonder if they will go well with D’sDA – (Dick’s Danger Ale)

I did have a bit of a problem during the transfer….. it is a requirement to enjoy a good beer while conducting any and every step of the brewing process. Well, I had a “small” pint of the Belgian Wit I recently brewed – one beer…. shouldn’t be a problem right? Well, not so recently. I have been afflicted with a condition called Sudden Hearing Loss –  just the right ear. I am one of the chosen ones because along with the hearing loss I have a pretty good dose of vertigo….  that becomes the issue. My vertigo and one beer start the merry-go-round spinning a little too fast. The only benefit that I can see is that my good home-brew may stick around a little longer because I am a one and done guy in my current condition. If you want more info there is a link below.

http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/hearing/shl.htm

Hmmmmmm, what shall I brew next?

TTFN,
Bishop

Dick’s Danger Ale is Fermenting

Busy day yesterday. I brewed the 5 gallon batch yesterday and it was a hectic effort. I did not dive in and do an all grain recipe….. my CFO would need to authorize a $600 investment in mashing equipment…maybe a little more depending on the quality. This was a partial grain batch and the grain bill was pretty heavy – 2.5 lbs of 2-row pale malt, 7 ox. of crystal mall 80 (L), 9 oz. of Briess black malt 550 (L) – the black malt really gives it a dark look. I also added 3.15 lbs. of Briess light extract and 1.5 lbs of dried malt extract. I used severla of my dear’s kettles and had to be a little creative to rinse the grains.

Magnum hopsused  for bittering and Mt. Hood hops for aroma – the Mt. Hood hops have a great aroma! Dry English Ale yeast, pitched at 74 degrees and aerated well. A day later there is a good krausen ring around the edges of the fermentation bucket indicating the fermentation is well underway.

I should be ready to bottle in two weeks and enjoy for the Thanksgiving Holiday Season. I ran a taste test on the sample I pulled to check the OG(original gravity) and the color matches up with the recipe – about a 28 on the SRM scale vs. a 35 or more for my Stout. The taste is nice… not sure how it will mature after it conditions. Folks in the Northwest rave about the beer so I am anxious but willing (need) to be patient.

SRM Scale link if you are interested; http://www.brewersfriend.com/2009/02/28/beer-styles-srm-color-chart/

For you folks in Houston…. some good beer news. We have a new brewery, Karbach Brewing Co. The Brewmaster is well seasoned… looks like the Houston Chronicle mixed his name up with the Brewery name in the article… oh well, Eric Warner has somegood  roots and spent time with Flying Dog as the CEO…. I like the Flying Dog offerings and the irreverent humor expressed through the artwork on their labels. The article touts Karbach’s “Sympathy Lager”….. and now the hunt begins.

Hey hun….er, Ms. CFO – how about a good sized refrigerator for the garage so I can brew some Lagers….. I found a great article for clone lagers like Hamms and Oly…..real classics…how about a real good MGD?

Maybe I shouldn’t press my luck.

The Photo below was taken on my 60th birthday – Pat Love – We named a Wheat Ale we brewed after him, John Livezey, my partner in crime at the Humble Beer Festival ( the H is silent in Humble), me.. looking good in that Bush t-shirt and a non-brewing neighbor Alan Wooten…. he did a little quality surveillance for us.

My Bakersfield Brewing Buddies on my 60th Birthday

The Belgian Wit was a hit at dinner tonight. My daughter Ashleigh had a friend over and her review of the beer was pretty spectacular… head swells, chest puffs up and I grin like the Chesire cat…. I do love to hear nice things!

TTFN

Bishop

 

Kegged and Now I have to Wait

 

Mini kegs - 6L each

 

The batch of the Belgian Wit has been racked to the 6L plastic keg bottles. I have about three long weeks to wait before I tap the first one. I wound up with about 15 liters of beer….last time I used the little kegs I had a full 18 liters. The bottom of the primary fermenter was pretty deep with sediment so I left some beer behind….it was a tough decision but for the good of mankind I erred on  the clean and clear side of the proposition.

The bottles need to condition for about 9-10 days and then sit at a little cooler temperature… 65 or so for two weeks!!!!. That may be a tough temperature range to find without special equipmen and may be a long wait! Ales are a bit forgiving so I will hope for the best here in the house.

As with every racking effort I had to run some of the beverage across my tongue. It does not appear that the cat dander found this batch, yee-haw! I am not a huge fan of the Belgian Wit……. “Blue Moon”, but this batch tastes very drinkable and I may share a few evenings sipping a cold one with Kathy – this batch really is hers but I know that she will share some with me.

I have been running across more articles in various magazines of all types, food magazines, Mother Earth News and my brewing periodicals, talking about the growing wave of hard cider making. It is a very compatible venture for home brewers and has captured my interest. I am still very interested in making an all grain batch of beer but it may be followed or maybe preceded with a cider effort. The decision will posted here very soon.

Still waiting on the Amarillo Ale. Sampled it last week and it was way too early. I have a bottle cooling in the fridge now for a weekend test. Fingers crossed. The first bottle was a bit flat and the flavor was very ordinary. I will update y’all soon.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2007-10-01/How-to-Make-Hard-Cider.aspx

 

Bishop –

 

Bottling and Racking to Secondary

A very nice beer to sip while brewing.

I have the Amarillo Ale bottled and aging now. I had to delay bottling for a few days because the gravity did not drop as low as I wanted. I stirred it up and let it sit for another three days and got a 3 point drop. I am a little more confident that it will be fine. The sample during the bottling was OK but not outstanding. I will be patient and let it condition and age before sampling again.

On the same day I racked the Belgian Wit over into the secondary fermenter. Yes I sampled and took the gravity…. gravity is where it needs to be and the flavor is damn good. I will again show some patience and let it sit the full required time in the secondary before filling my 3 -6L minikegs. While I was boiling the wort my wife walked by and said she liked the smell of this wort as compared to some of my other batches. I still have no chance to boiling the wort inside the house……

Next on my list?????? I am still wanting to try an all grain beer. I need to do a little research and see if I have enough goodies on hand so I don’t get the CFO questioning additional expenditures. If someone has a request for doing a clone send me the request. Or maybe I will  get real frisky and brew something original in a style I like? So many beers and so little time to sample them all!