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

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We Made It! Firestone Walker the Pub

I have to give Firestone high marks for the beer and also for the food offerings at the Pub. Here I am trying to balance calories in vs. calories out and fortunately Firestone makes it a doable task. I am not going to order a Coors Light, not a bad beer but, after all, I am at a nationally recognized Brewery so I need to take advantage to the opportunity….a full flavored and FULL calorie beer….Like the “Wookie Jack”. Well since I was there I decided to order a 3 ounce taster of one of the very best Imperial Stouts made in America. I have tasted it before and I agree. Dang it…..not on tap on the night of my visit…..I was tempted to order a “Bomber” – 22 ounces to take with me….12,5 % ABV, complex wonderful flavors….sipped and enjoyed like a fine port…BUT $ 55.00 for a bottle…..now way! I suffered, but not much….The Wookie Jack was superb!

The food pairing for me was a very nice piece of Pacific salmon, wonderful steamed spinach underneath it. Portions were just right….allowed me the opportunity to enjoy a great beer and not bust my calorie budget for the evening! On top of that, the absence of the Imperial Stout, barrel aged for a year was mitigated by the fact that I have in my possession the 2011 bottling of this barrel aged stout….waiting for the right occasion to open and share….as is my bottle of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon! I am accepting bids – contact me if you would like to make an offer on either bottle!

I did branch out and try another local beer, Tap It Breweries IPA. Brewed in San Luis Obispo. I was pleasantly surprised….I need to check out more of their offerings on a future trip. My buddy Gary has decided that Firestone’s 805 Ale fits nicely in his wheelhouse……multiple times. I have to admit…It is a good one but my preferences run toward higher IBU’s……International Bittering Units, i.e., HOPS>>>>>I love hoppy beers.

Not me…..but this is a Hop Head I ran into at the 2011 Humble, TX beer festival.

Copy of JBD_0198

A real, true Hop Head….Literally!

 

Drink Local – Drink Responsibly

Bishop

 

Area Code 805 Vacation

As the title indicates, I am vacationing in area code 805. If you have read some of my past posts you know that I am a Firestone Walker Brewery fan. The Paso Robles brewery is making a great name for itself with quality beers. My wife’s taste in beers is developing….maybe that is not a fair statement. Her beverage of choice was always beer, you know, that yellow fizzy water kind of beer. Her very good girlfriend was a help, her father owned the Miller Distributorship in our home town so it was easy to acquire Miller products. Our roommate when we first married drove for Coors and at that time Coors Light was her beer of choice.

Roommate Ernie helped me convert an old fridge to hold a 15 gallon keg. Life was good for all of us. Six months or so after we were married, my wife suggested that maybe Ernie should find new accommodations. It was a tough decision. Ernie was one hell of a good cook, not too good at cleaning up, provided lots of beer and paid a nominal rent fee. He laughed when I boke the news – he knew that the time would come but actually surprised that we allowed him to stay as long as we did after the knot was tied. We parted friends and so it remains.

Lets talk 805. My wife is coming along on the journey of seeking and sampling better beers with me….in baby steps. There some Blonde Ales that she enjoys, that is until she asks for the calorie count…Just enjoy it Hun.

From their website;

“805

It’s not a unique idea, but one that everyone on the Central Coast understands… Call something “805” and it means local.  As a regional craft brewer we have always known that the closer the beer is to where it was brewed, the fresher it is.  In fact since 1996 our brewery has been built on fresh, local beers for the Central Coast…. so we created a beer for the “805”.”

It is a session Blonde Ale that is very drinkable. To that, my wife has sampled it everyday of our mini vacation. She has also had the Blonde from Island Brewing in Carpenteria and her other staple, Blue Moon Belgian Wit. Me, I am abstaining for 12 weeks. I am joining my daughter on a health and fitness committment, which if it goes as planned, I should be hitting my fitness target in 12 weeks. I just have to watch my drooling in the company of beer drinkers to ensure I don’t dribble down my chin.

I plan to still help others enjoy good beers as well as craft a blog or two, maybe include updates on my 12 week plan and plan my return to good beer. I do have my coffee vice to help me through the challenges.

The bulk of our mini vacation will be in the 805 area code area….a bit redundant but you get the idea, Kathy I am sure will quaff a few more “805’s” and I hope to hell you about it. My son-in-law dined with us last night at a very nice wine bar in Camarillo, Sheila’s Wine Bar…..he drank the 805 along with my wife. He is my favorite son-in-law, a well-earned title!

http://www.sheilaswinebar.com/

PS – Great food too!

My wine loving travel mate and coworker enjoyed the wine and attempted to be discrete using an app to listen to the CFL game between his team from Calgary and the BC team……he did cheer out loud several times! We coached him gently.

http://www.firestonebeer.com/home.php

Click on image to enlarge

Free Advertising

 

805

 

The 50 Best Beers and the 25 Best Brewers –

In my recent copy of Zymurgy’ there was an article touting the 50 best beers in America as voted by members of the American Homebrewer’s Association. My first thought when I saw the tag line on the cover was……..”How many have I sampled?”….So, how did I do? Lets go down in rank order. I have enjoyed at least one of the following beers.

  • 1. Pliny the Elder by Russian River….hard to find but oh so worth the effort
  • 3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
  • 7. Arrogant Bastard Ale
  • 8. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA
  • T9. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
  • T9. Stone Ruination
  • T12. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra
  • 15. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • T17. Firestone Walker Double Jack
  • 20. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
  • T21. Bear Republic Racer 5
  • T27. Deschutes Black Butte Porter
  • T27. Green Flash West Coast IPA
  • 30. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
  • 36. Lagunitas IPA
  • 37. Stone IPA
  • 38. Odell IPA
  • T42. Russian River Blind Pig IPA
  • 45. Firestone Walker Parabola
  • T48. Green Flash Palate Wrecker
  • T48. Lagunitas Brown Shugga’

I will add my 2 cents – The Firestone Walker Parabola is the most amazing beer I have ever sampled, a barrel aged Imperial Stout…it has very limited distribution and limited production. I am certain that it would have garnered far more votes if sampled by more folks…. My wife surprised me last week with a bottle of the 2011 Parabola found in a specialty beer and wine shop in Bakersfield California – Imbibe is the store name. It will be a special occasion in the future when I crack the top! I grabbed the last available bottle of the 2011 and took a 2013 to mature in my Houston beer cellar ( converted freezer currently set ay 54 degrees F)

I have under my belt – literally and figuratively, 21 of the top 50 beers voted on by members of the American Homebrewer’s Association and published in the July/August 2013 issue of Zymurgy.

They also asked members to rank the Commercial Craft Breweries across the US…..I am either a lush or ???? I have sampled the offerings of many of these breweries. By member’s vote listed below are those in my experience base;

  • 1. Stone Brewing Company
  • 2. Russian River Brewing Company
  • 3. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
  • 4. Dogfish Head Brewery
  • 6. Firestone Walker Brewing Company
  • 8. Lagunitas Brewing Company
  • 9. New Belgium Brewing Company
  • 10. Deschutes Brewery
  • 11 Odell Brewing Company
  • 15. Green Flash Brewing Company
  • 16. The Boston Beer Company
  • 17. Boulevard Brewing Company
  • 18. Goose Island Beer Company

I have 13 of the top 25….I need to do some beer swapping to complete my list! .This should be a doable challenge….

Three Superb Beers

Three Superb Beers

This trip has included several brewery visits – Island Brewing in Carpenteria, 3 times and another tonight with my granddaughter – yes she is of legal age to drink in California, the Santa Barbara Brewery, several visits to Lengthwise Brewery in Bakersfield and I hope to sample something at Anacapa Brewery in Ventura around lunch time. I was close to both San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles but there are only so many days available on this trip and heard the Sirens’ call from the breweries in these two towns. (dangerous and beautiful creatures these Sirens be)

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Beer Trumps All

I spent last week in California, more precisely, Coalinga, Paso Robles, Bakersfield and San Ardo.

In Coalinga we stayed at Harris Ranch Inn. Great beef, great ranch style rooms and good beer to. Tuesday night we shifted locations to Paso Robles, 27 minutes south of San Ardo oilfield. We were in the midst of some of the finest red wine growing and nearly 300 wineries, from little tiny to very, very big! Just a note, we should have had a 27 minute drive but due to cattle guard issues with a local rancher and some drilling activity we had to drive another 8 or 10 minutes north, hook back across the Salinas River and meander through some  lush produce fields adding 15 minutes to the drive. We witnessed seemingly endless vistas of vineyards, cattle grazing on the rolling hills, cabbage harvests and lettuce planting….This stretch of Highway 101, El Camino Real that parallels the freeway is the most amazing display of the earth’s bounty.

Harris Ranch Inn pool vista. Actually pleasant arounf the pool - the wind from the Harris Ranch feedlot was not tracking toward the hotel!

Harris Ranch Inn pool vista. Actually pleasant around the pool – the wind from the Harris Ranch feedlot was not tracking toward the hotel! Thank Goodness

The altar at the San Miguel Mission near Paso Robles. Built in 1794!

The altar at the San Miguel Mission near Paso Robles. Built in 1794!

My workmate, Murray and I had worked in the region this past December. While in Paso Robles we dined at the pub associated with the Firestone Walker Brewery. Great beer and now great food to boot.  We treated ourselves in December to a bottle of Parabola, a barrel aged Imperial Stout. We shared the 2011 “vintage” – I think it is ok to use that term since we are in an incredible wine growing region! The 2011 bottle was amazing! We both agreed that it treated the senses to a mouth feel, taste and aroma that could be used to describe a great Port! I would love to have hauled an unopened bottle back to Texas but they wouldn’t agree to sell one to me for that purpose. I tried to explain that I was Bishop Decker, world famous beer drinker and blogger extraordinaire! I guess my fame is restricted to Texas!

Murray's good side with his 4 beer sampler at Firestone Walker Pub.

Murray’s good side with his 4 beer sampler at Firestone Walker Pub.

Surrounded my great wines, vineyards and wineries, so what do Murray and I drink? Beer!! We had the DBA, the 805, a 4 beer sampler – see Murray’s good side, and of course the Parabola. Rules seem to have change or maybe Murray and his west coast of Canada charm worked some magic – the rascal convinced them to sell him a bottle of the 2011 Parabola in a “to-go” box. In fact it was the last bottle and stamped as the No. 2 bottle from that batch.  We shared the 2013 bottling on the advice of our server….he said the 2012 was a bit too sweet. The 2013 is superb!

The Parabola 2013

The Parabola 2013

I treated Murray to a dinner with my Mother on Wednesday night at her favorite seafood place in Morro Bay. She ordered her favorite meal – the chicken breast – FYI the old gal doesn’t eat fish. She was her usual perky self at 84-ish. She conducts a Tai Chi class 3 days per week – as much a social gathering as it is fitness – a mix of mind and body. PS – Mom, Murray thinks you are pretty special. I hesitated putting that comment in because it could go to her Head!!!!

Friday we trekked back to Bakersfield the long way, through Santa Maria, similar vistas as the 101 north of Paso Robles but now strawberry fields add to the mix. We took Highway 166 through Cuyama…endless vistas of carrot fields! We continued our beer sampling at Lengthwise Pub out on Calloway in Bakersfield with their Centennial IPA.

Saturday on the plane very early, fingers crossed for an on time flight….My youngest son was graduating High School with over 600 of his classmates. The event was held in one half of Reliant Stadium…the same place that the NFL Texans play their games! At the celebratory graduation I tried a bottle of beer from Bear Republic, Red Rocket Ale – I really liked it!!!!!!

COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
Red Rocket Ale is a bastardized Scottish style red ale that traces it’s origins to our homebrew roots. This full bodied and hoppy brew finishes on the palate with sweet, caramel malt flavors. 2009 California State Fair – SILVER 1999 Great American Beer Festival® Other Strong Ales or Lagers – SILVER 1998 Great American Beer Festival® Other Strong Ales – SILVER

JBD_3414

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly – I am sipping on a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale as I write….made with fresh hops…Murray has promised to bring me some fresh hops for my home brewing efforts next fall – Grown on the island of his residence, Salt Spring BC – said that he would supply me a kilo of the good stuff! A KILO OF HOPS Y’ALL!!!!!

Dinner at son Joe's graduation - he is far right, my big maroon body with my Red Rocket Ale is near right.

Dinner at son Joe’s graduation – he is far left, my big maroon body with my Red Rocket Ale is near right.

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

Bakersfield Beers, Big and Bold

I had a quick trip to Bakersfield California last week, Not much free time but I did manage to get out to the Lengthwise Brewery Pub out on Calloway on Sunday night during the football game. I had my two beer work night limit, one was the Midnight Restoration Ale, it was nice, and then I had the Centennial IPA as we called it an evening.

Bakersfield has a number of good establishments that are catering to the craft beer drinkers. I have heard lots of good things about the brewery up Kernville and as far as I can figure, Lengthwise is the only local brewery. Frugatti’s on Coffee Road has Firestone on tap, great beers brewed in Paso Robles,  Fat Tire seems to be everywhere, some of the San Diego beers are pretty easy to find as well as the Sierra Nevada beers. The Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the standard and well known and well loved. I am a big fan of the Torpedo IPA. Pop over to the website and wander through their offerings. The beer description pages are very detailed and the food pairings piece is pretty cool. If you are an IPA fan the “Hoptimum”  is awesome, checking in at 100 IBU’s…. http://www.sierranevada.com/beer/

My last night in Bakersfield last week included a dinner at my sister-in-law’s house. Her husband and to a certain extent, my sister-in-law are oenophiles. I have nothing against the affliction, I believe that it is curable and those that can’t be cured can still live a full and productive life.  I believe they just need to broaden their horizons! I swung by the Calloway Lengthwise Pub on Calloway to pick up a couple of growlers as a gift for the hosts. My wife had sent me a note informing me of a new tapping on sale that evening – the Double Centennial IPA. I picked up one growler of the Double and the other was the Golden Ale – a light refreshing ale that isn’t too heavy.

My sister-in-law tried a pint of the Golden Ale after dinner and she was on to her second pint as I left to head back to the hotel….. I knew she was versatile! Beer lovers are too often caste as a bit crass and low brow…. but, to the informed, the depth and breadth of the beer drinking experience matches, at a minimum and probably exceeds, that of the wine world. Read the article in the attached link for a grin and an attempt to provide a more appropriate moniker for those of my ilk. Unfortunately I sometimes reinforce the beer drinker stereotype with my coarse behavior, language and I occasionally burst into inappropriate song on a few rare nights each year. http://www.realbeer.com/library/authors/smith-g/beer_lover.php

I will try to pick a day this week to brew a session type beer – 4.5% ABV or so, light in color and body. My friend John sent me a note….his Christmas gift – beer of the month delivery is in his possession – he needs some expert help assessing the quality of the shipment. It may be an effort but then again it might be worth the effort.

Drink Local – Drink Responsibly

TTFN

Bishop