Abita Wrought Iron IPA

I must be living under a rock! Where did this beer come from? Well, Abita Springs is the answer, but the bigger question – Why didn’t I know about it? I could probably come up with lots of excuses but the bottom line is- I didn’t expect Abita to put out one of these nicely hoppy beers?

Tonight at our local watering hole and restaraunt I asked the serrver for – what IPA’s are on tap? Nice young lady but not real beer savvy. I give her credit, she knew about a new IPA just tapped today. As a discerning beer drinker, PC. For a beer nerd, I had to ask!!!! All she knew was it was  “Iron” something but, without prompting she ran off to find out.

Good first step and on her return I learned it was an Abita brew. Smart phone to the rescue! Side note; smart phone is an Alan McDonald fact checker. Abita makes an IPA called “Wrought Iron”. So, she was pretty close!

I like it! Beer Advocate reviews are mostly positive. I liked it, the aroma and the pleasant bitterness. Danger good IPA!

For my local IPA loving buddies, find the Abita Wrought Iron. I found it on tap at “Three B’s in Kingwood Texas. It was a little more than “Danged Good”. You will like it too!

Drink Responsibly and Drink Local

Bishop

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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

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!

 

 

Inspiration Comes to Fruition

I hinted a couple of weeks ago about being inspired to brew something a bit unique. Well I made it happen today….the recipe was developed about a week ago from some inspiration found in a conversation with the bar keep at Lengthwise Brewing Pub in the Marketplace – Bakersfield California. I was attempting to order a beer and the big chalkboard had these tree words stacked above each other in the lower left corner of the board.

Golden

Wheat

Red

So, I ordered one…..it sounded like an interesting beer. The barkeeper smiled while telling me that those three were part of the tap line-up for the brewery. I had been fully aware of their Centennial and Double Centennial IPA’s, The Kern River Crude Porter, the Blonde as well as a host of guest beers on tap. It just didn’t dawn on me that these were three distinct beers. The ensuing conversation made me feel a little better. Apparently I am not the only ” cerevisaphile  – A devout lover of beers.”, that has made the same, I won’t call it a mistake, but rather the natural combining of those yummy sounding beer components. So I was struck by inspiration and went on my mission to build this beer.

The recipe; Partial mash – the easy way.

3 lbs light malt extract – the Golden portion

3 lbs of Wheat Malt extract – The Wheat portion

1 lb. Caramel Malt – crushed

½ lb. Crystal Malt 55 L crushed

2 oz. Black roasted barley – crushed – the crushed grains should add body and the Red portion of the inspiration.

2 oz. Centennial pellet hops – 1 oz. @ 30 minutes, 1 oz. @ 15 minutes

2 oz. Amarillo pellet hops – 1 oz. @ 55 minutes. 1 oz. in secondary a few weeks from now

½ tsp yeast nutrient @ 10 minutes, ½ tsp gypsum at beginning, ½ tsp Irish Moss @ 30 minutes

Grain placed in brew pot and removed when temperature reached 170 deg F.

OG is 1.066 – Fermenting at 64-68 deg F Aerated for 3 minutes prior to pitching Wyeast 1056 Ale yeast.

At two weeks I will check and transfer to the secondary then dry hop with the remaining Amarillo hops.

This should be a hoppy beer, not real bitter, but should have a good floral and citrus aroma.

Now the big challenge is to be patient!

Brewing notebook, malt extract, grains and hops. Ready to brew.

Brewing notebook, malt extract, grains and hops. Ready to brew.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Grand Junction, CO – Two for One Post

What a nice change of environment, three plus days out of the Houston heat and humidity. The only drawback – I wasn’t able to share this trip with my wife. I know sooner or later  the benefits of a mostly empty nest will be evident. What does mostly empty mean? Our oldest son has finished all of his on campus requirements for graduation from LSU’s Construction Management Program – one remaining class that can be completed via distance learning. It is cheaper to have him in Houston with us until all of the boxes for graduation are checked off and the job search begins.

The second night of the stay my workmate and I visited the Rockslide Brewery & Restaurant. Side note; the state of Texas has taken a giant step forward with recent legislation easing some of the restrictive regulations for small brewers and brew pubs but still lags far behind Colorado, California and others. The next night we drove about 15 minutes out of town to the little village of Palisade. The drive took us through some of the vineyards and orchards that cover the Colorado River Valley in this more temperate part of Colorado. There is a mall brewery in Palisade, Palisade Brewing Company.

Let’s talk about Rockslide Brewery and Restaurant. Located on Main St. in the old downtown section of town that has been nicely remade. The road has been shrunk to two lanes that meander around small plaza like areas sprinkled with benches and pleasant landscaping. It definitely slows traffic but adds a nice quaint old town feel. The restaurant is bright, clean and was hosting a party celebration of some sort in the back half of the upstairs seating area. The waiter had decent knowledge of the beer offerings and I have to admit, the food menu was broad enough to satisfy most visitors. My travel mate tried the Widow Maker Wheat – “pleasant and easy to drink” were his comments. Me, I went with the four beer flight, Rabbit Ears Amber, Cold Shivers Pale Ale. Kokopelli Cream Ale and the Horse Thief IPA. They were all very good beers, the IPA was my favorite but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.  The food fare – my work mate had the fish and chips with a twist. The twist was  – the fish was battered salmon rather than cod. He said it was surprisingly good. I had the steak salad, medium rare and it was perfect with their house Balsamic dressing.

http://www.rockslidebrewpub.com/

Rockslide flight of beers

Rockslide flight of beers

Rockslide Beer list.

Rockslide Beer list.

Palisade, small village as I mentioned before, and the journey to the brewery is only for those that know where they are going, have been there before or you are paying close attention the GPS. We had a driver, one of the client reps that attended the training session, who also happens to like good beers. He was a bit tentative but eventually we turned down the right street and pulled up at the brewery adjacent to the railroad tracks. We had the good fortune of live music out on the patio on a perfect evening for  dining and sipping al fresco. The seating was ample but all three of us noticed an odd split in the seating designations. At least 75% of the seating is designated for SMOKING! That is right, only 25% labeled for the non-smokers. If it hadn’t been for the three of us occupying 3 of the 20 plus seats on the no-smoking side it would have been empty. The smoking side was packed! Another observation, I felt like I had been transported back to the 60”s. The crowd was very reminiscent of SFO’s Haight Ashbury in the heyday of the 60’s hippy movement. I wonder if the 2012 ballot initiative that passed in Colorado had any influence on the seating arrangement and attendees.  More about being transported back in time later in this post.

Food was typical pub food with lots of Jalapenos available for every dish if you so desired. James, my workmate, had a huge appetizer portion of Nachos with the Blonde Ale offering. Our client driver, Rob, hmmmm, I forget what he ate but we both ordered a flight of beers, 6 beers served in 4 ounce Mason jelly jars. High marks to the brewery. Not a bad or even average beer in the bunch. I gave high marks to all 6 beers sampled.  Rob enjoyed the High Desert Red, James the Laid Back Blonde Ale  and me, the IPA, so well in fact, that I followed up with a pint of that nice IPA……Rob was driving! The “Off Belay IPA” was really, really good in my estimation……that is why I sampled it twice in order to confirm my first impression.

http://www.palisadebrewingcompany.com/

Palisade Brewery flight of beers in jelly jars

Palisade Brewery flight of beers in jelly jars

Uber healthy brisket, cheddar and Jalapeno sandwich. I paired it with a cucumber salad to solidify the healthy aspect!

Uber healthy brisket, cheddar and Jalapeno sandwich. I paired it with a cucumber salad to solidify the healthy aspect!

Dirty Hippy T-shirt from Palisade Brewery

Dirty Hippy T-shirt from Palisade Brewery

Upon return to the hotel I realized why it felt like I had been transported back to the 60’s. Parked out front was Emmett “Doc” Brown’s “Back to the Future” 1981 DeLorean, flux capacitor and all! I peaked inside and sure enough the dials were set to 1969! Not really, I am stretching the truth a little. Look at the photos and I think that you will agree that it is a remarkable replica of the movie vehicle. Why was the car there? I’ll tell you.  http://www.fireballrun.com/teams/182

Doc’s car and a companion car, a fairly stock DeLorean, are participating in the Longmont, Colorado to Riverside, California Fireball Run. The Fireball Run is a 2000 mile long scavenger hunt designed to create awareness for missing children and obviously raise funds. Check out the info online and the Facebook page to read about the successes they have had finding missing children. I made my donation to Doc and Team # 15. It is “small world after all”. Team #15 is driven by Paul “Doc” Nigh, a 4th year participant and from my home town of Bakersfield, California. He is a bit younger having graduated from North High in 1974 but sure enough, we had a few mutual acquaintances!

https://www.facebook.com/fireballrun

Look close - set to 1969 - Not

Look close – set to 1969 – Not really but could have been!

BTF car

BTF car and sister DeLorean in the background

Oh by the way, if your beverage of choice is wine, the area is dotted with small wineries with growing reputations. If you are on Interstate 70, make the decision to slow down and visit Grand Junction, Palisade and Fruita!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Drinking Beer in Carpenteria

Travel and work – it certainly can have a negative impact on my beer drinking! It is not all bad, I am in California for work and I have my weekends free. I was in Carpenteria last weekend, a nice beach town between Ventura and Santa Barbara. I am not much for laying on the beach and picking up the color of a well boiled lobster so my daughter Lisa and I walked down to the Island Brewing Company. It is a nice little brewery and tap room next to the tracks and near the Amtrak station.
This isn’t my first rodeo nor my first visit to this brewery. They have a very nice selection of beers, a casual and comfortable taproom and an outside seating area. Oh yes, the prices are very reasonable!!!! They also bottle the beers as well as sell growlers.
The timing was right and the brewery was hosting a tour of the back brewing area. The owner’s daughter was giving the tour. She is very knowledgeable and easy to talk to. While in the taproom I enjoyed the Paradise Ale, a pint of the cask ale – a raspberry wheat beer – a bit sweet but still very tasty and the Jubilee Ale! Not a bad beer in the bunch. Lisa tried the Blonde, the Paradise and a Shandy – half Tropical Lager and Lemonade.

 

I have sampled their Blackbird Porter in the past….a very tasty beer but better suited for the last beer of the evening while sitting at home! It is a wonderful beer!

Lisa says - head this way to find fresh beer.

Lisa says – head this way to find fresh beer.

Here is the tap room…..

The taps and yummy board!

The taps and yummy board!

 

On the walk back to the beach I had to make a pit stop. The picture is a little blurry….iPhones aren’t bad but you have to look close at this one to see the details.

Down near the beach I stepped into the State park lavatory . While standing there killing time I looked up and saw a frustrated sea gull - lost opportunity to bomb me!

Down near the beach I stepped into the State park lavatory . While standing there killing time I looked up and saw a frustrated sea gull – lost opportunity to bomb me!

I hope to have time to visit Anacapa Brewing in Ventura, or Firestone in Paso Robles and if time permits San Luis Brewing in San Luis Obispo. Bakersfield even has beer, yes I know that might surprise you….Lengthwise is my favorite pub and brewery in town. I hope to share a little more over the next week on my California adventures.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly,

Bishop

 

American Craft Beer Week

At least this reflects something positive on the news wires this week! I apologize to Nathan Berrong who writes Eatocracy’s Beer column, “Berrong on Beer” beacause I am stealing a piece out of his column’s headline…. when I think about craft beer or homebrewed beer I have a new phrase to use when offered a “real” beer – I can exclaim, “Ale Yeah!” So this being American Craft Beer Week – thanks to Mr. Berrong and I stand up and shout “Ale Yeah!”

This is a great opportunity to set down your Coors or Bud or other variation of yellow fizzy water and broaden your horizons. The variety of offerings in the craft beer section of the store is very broad.You can take a small step out and go with a Blonde Ale of some sort. You may surprise yourself and find that Amber Ales can be surprisingly easy to drink…..don’t be misled that an amber color equates to “dark” flavors….. Dive a little deeper and try a Brown Ale.

Now there are some lessons to be learned…A Pale Ale can have a very broad spectrum of flavors and aromas. The spectrum is influenced by the varieties of hops and yes by the malts too, yes there are a myriad variety of hops, which lend the beer the bitterness and aromas. The hops are my real focus when sampling Pale Ales. If you are a bit of a geeky numbers person find the IBU designation on Pale Ales. If the number starts creeping north of 40 or so it indicates a more “hoppy” beer. I like the Pale Ales designated as IPA – India Pale Ales – they are higher in both alcohol and bittering – historically made to survive the boat trip to India. The style has survived and thrived. If you didn’t figure it out, I love IPA’s.

The choices for broadening your beer experience include Stouts, Porters, Wheat Beers, Belgian Styles and more. If you see the word “Imperial” in the name be prepared for a higher ABV – Alcohol by Volume. Some can even approach wine levels…10-12% and sometimes more. Then the craft industry is using barrel aged beers and “oh my” the complexity of flavors goes through the roof. Firestone Walker in Paso Robles California has a barrel aged Imperial Stout labeled “Parabola” that is just out of this world….unfortunately it is not sold retail!

From Mr. Berrong’s article here are some suggestions he gleaned from others;

The Brewer’s Association, a not-for-profit trade group that represents small and independent brewers, is the driving force behind ACBW. Below are some tips from them on how to get the most out of this year’s beer week:

• Conduct a craft beer tasting or pairing. • Visit your favorite local brewery, restaurant or tap room and enjoy local craft beers. • Host a tasting at home featuring craft beer from small and independent producers. • Tweet your pride for U.S. craft brewers using the hashtag #ACBW. • Seek out other like-minded folks by attending an official ACBW event. Use the official ACBW events page to find an event in your area. The link below takes you to the full article.

http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2013/05/13/berrong-on-beer-ale-yeah-its-american-craft-beer-week/?hpt=hp_c4

My weekend sampling will include my homebrews – a Pumpkin Ale, Imperial Stout flavored with roasted oak and bourbon, a 4.2% Pale Ale and my share of a batch of Raspberry Wheat Ale. I will also be racking my Father’s Day Ale over into my secondary fermenter this weekend. I will look to local beers to add to the weekend mix….Mom I will not drink all of them – just a nice smattering of beers. Karbach, St Arnolds, Southern Star, No Label, Buffalo Bayou and ????

Guys, your GF or wife may enjoy some of the Belgian Wit Beers that have a hint of orange peel and coriander – they also tend to have a broad spectrum of how spicy they come across. I have to pat Coors on the back because their Blue Moon Belgian Wit has helped many of the fairer sex wander away from Miller Lite!

The list of beer styles is extensive…I have only scratched the surface – follow the link below to see what beer nerds love…beer styles listed and IU ranges for reach style.

http://www.brewersfriend.com/2009/01/24/beer-styles-ibu-chart-graph-bitterness-range/

Plan your week and your weekend….be adventurous!!!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop