Homebrew – A Cure For A Rough Week

Friday afternoon I received a call from my very goodest friend. Yes I know that the word “goodest” is substandard English….a former classmate and English major friend of mine is cringing as she reads my post!

My “goodest” friend was on his way home and was in need of an ear, good thing because I have two of those, and a good beer of more. I seem to always have beer on hand. I actually needed a break….I was trimming the crepe myrtle – not the annual “Rape of the Crepes” but the removal of those pesky branches that originate at the base. The T-shirt I was wearing was soaked as he pulled up into the drive way! Perfect timing as I needed a homebrew too…..but for different reasons.

I have two homebrews in the mini-kegs(Tap-a-Draft) 6 Liter bottles in the house fridge, my Father’s Day Ale ~ 6.2% ABV and a Session Summer Ale ~ 4 % ABV. The Session Ale is a tangy citrus like beer where as the Father’s Day Ale is more of a Pale Ale.

I poured us both a pint and put my listening ears on. The first pint slid down rather quickly so I poured another…..for both of us! The second pint was sliding down nicely and the week from hell was slipping into the past and plans for a better weekend were looking up. 45 minutes into our session we both had a smile and the warmth of friendship and good beer shared between the two of us.

It was time for me to finish my chores and my “goodest” friend went home and readied himself for a great evening…..We took our wives out to a movie, “The Heat”, laughed our asses off, had a late meal and all in all a great day and a great evening…….all starting with the “Cure” – a nice chilled homebrew!

http://99covers.com/funny-beer-2-facebook-covers/25061/

Yes I Got Beer! – go ahead and cringe again…..

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

 

 

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Never Stop Learning – About Beer

As a Homebrewer, I am always reading, learning, experimenting and deepening my knowledge around this noble craft. Non-brewers, it is also important to continue exercising the brain and learning more and more about beer is a perfect topic.

My friends over at “Good Beer, Better Hats” posted a great educational article that I think every beer loving individual should cruise through. It features 24 wonderful factual items and for my edification, there is a rich history of women and their role in the history of beer. So, with Mother’s Day just around the corner I think all beer drinkers should read the article and also give thanks to the nurturing and critical role that women have played in the rich history of beer! So, pour yourself a cold one, sit back and tickle the brain!

http://goodbeerbetterhats.com/2013/05/09/infographic-24-things-you-didnt-know-about-beer/

Drink Local – Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Long Hiatus is Over

I have been absent from my Beer Blogging duties for quite some time now. It is approaching a month that I have been quiet, at least quiet on the blogging side of my activities. If you visit my garden blog(http://bishopsbackyardfarm.com/2013/04/02/1665/) you will see that I have been active over there….strawberries have occupied most of the harvest efforts and then making strawberry jam……

That said,I think I see a strawberry blonde in my future. Tall, absolutely – a long neck, quite possibly, comfortable to hold, yes, intoxicating to the senses…..yes, but in moderation – you should never overdo a good thing….I will definitely have to ask my wife for permission…..How will that go over?

“Hey Hun, can I brew another beer?” I may be testing the boundaries here….I have a case and a half of Imperial Stout aging, a case of Pumpkin Ale – just a one at a time kind of beer, 6 liters of a honey blonde in my mini keg and about two cases of a session ale that is now drinkable and…..Sunday  I am splitting a batch of a Raspberry Wheat Ale with home brewer Mike, “kinda” like an Abita Purple Haze, about 9 L is my share! I think I need to have a party to reduce the inventory before I get an affirmative answer for my efforts!

Young Ryan(over 21) has asked for a lesson in crafting beer. Maybe I can work out a deal and kill two birds with one stone here. Hopefully this will work for all involved. Hope he and his crowd of friends will cotton to a Strawberry Blonde Ale.

Talking about craft beers! Read the article in the attached link. The craft beer wave continues to grow. A quote, a rather long one from the article linked below;

“Craft brewing continues to surge, producing 15% more beer and $1.5 billion more sales.

Craft brewing is clearly outpacing the rest of the beer market, producing 15 percent more beer in 2012 than the year before while the total U.S. beer market grew by only 1 percent, according to the annual report released today by the Brewers Association.

In total, craft brewers produced 13.2 million barrels in 2012, a 1.8 million barrel increase from 2011.

Craft breweries now make up 6.5 percent volume of the total beer market, up from 5.7 percent the year before. And craft beer also makes up 10.2 percent of the total U.S. beer market for a total of $10.2 billion in sales, up from $8.7 billion in 2011 or a 17 percent increase.”

I subscribe to this blog and always learn a little! Check it out!

http://craftbrew.cirqlemedia.com/craft-brew-continues-to-surge/

Remember

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

TTFN

Bishop

First Taste – Pumpkin Ale

Last night was a sad night for the Irish and confirmation that the SEC dominates college football here in the US.

In preparation for the evening I fired up the grill and cooked some chicken breasts. I tend to grill better when enjoying a good beer. My Pumpkin Ale has been conditioning in the bottle for about two weeks now. The temperatures here in Houston have finally dropped to well below room temperature. Since I/we prefer to keep the house cool, the inside temperature has been in the high 50’s….inside the house. We fire up the fireplace in the living area and keep the rest of the house cool.

The impact of the cooler temperatures inside the house are not so positive for my beer to condition properly and form carbonation. When I have beer in the fermenter it is an easy fix. I set a big plastic barrel in the room, set the fermenter inside the barrel and partially fill the barrel with water. I then add a fish tank heater set to 68 degrees F. I works very well. Just as I finished bottling the temperatures nose-dived. I hoped for the best but the low  temperatures lingered.  I didn’t want to chuck all of the bottles into the water barrel so  after a week I used a little space heater set on low in the proximity of the cased bottles. I removed one bottle last night before the game, chilled it and was very pleased with the results. Flavor had mellowed nicely from bottling day, carbonation was evident but just a little lacking. I did a little maracas shake with each bottle, placed them back in the cases and I should have dang near perfect beer in less than a week.

My friend, Bill shared some of his Helles Lager with me and now I feel comfortable sharing the Pumpkin Ale in return…Ah, life is so good when you have good friends, good beer and a good woman…..I might change that order depending on situation but you get my drift!

While my head was on the pillow last night I began to form some thoughts for this posting. I had some really cool thoughts that I planned on using but CRS overtook me. I remember just enough to know that I had the thoughts but they have escaped into lala land. I was tempted to go back into the bedroom and put my head back on the pillow in an attempt to recapture those salient and important thoughts! I thought the better of it, my mountain bike riding friends will remember my “den of the cave bear” comments and understand why I chose to not take the risk! I will always love you Hun!

These guys mashed and fermented in real pumpkins……I wasn’t so brave, I roasted the pumpkin, pureed the flesh and steeped it before boiling, adding the malts, hops, spices and irish moss to the wort…..Looks pretty interesting! I may not be brave enough to try it!

http://www.sloshspot.com/blog/02-25-2009/How-To-Brew-Pumpkin-Beer-in-a-Pumpkin-in-20-Easy-Steps-125

My pumpkin used for the process;

Cutting the pumpkin wedges prior to roasting.

Cutting the pumpkin wedges prior to roasting.

The roasted wedges prior to making purees pumpkin.

The roasted wedges prior to making puree pumpkin.

Drink local, drink responsibly,

TTFN

Bishop

 

 

 

 

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!

TTFN

Bishop

Beer Travels

My beer blogging efforts have been pretty slim over the past month or so but that does not mean I haven’t thought about, dreamed about, consumed or made any beer. I have been traveling, primarily to Bakersfield California, home of Lengthwise Brewing. I am a big fan of their Centennial IPA. It is not crazy hoppy, just a great balance of the bitter and the aromas. I have visited the pub out in the Rosedale area three times during this past month. Besides their offerings they always have a few guest beers from the western US. One of the guest beers was the Hop Notch form Uinita Brewing in Salt Lake City, Utah. Good but not as good as the home town offering!

This past week I was in Paso Robles for two nights. My occasional workmate, Alan would have been right in his element. Paso is becoming one of the best red wine districts in the country. For Alan, the Paso area would be reminiscent of our experience in the Margret River area in Western Australia….great wines, no crowds and a great tasting room experience – The Paso winery for fun, great wine and great service is Tobin James. Isn’t this supposed to be about beer? Oh yes, Paso, home to Firestone Walker and that is the real story.

I have enjoyed the Firestone offerings for many years now but have never made the stop. This trip my partner was Murray and he does love his beer. We went to the Taproom Restaurant adjacent to the brewery. It was a great casual place, brewery themed and staffed by some great people. Tiffani was assigned to us and she was delightful, knowledgeable and provided outstanding service. I started off with the Taproom IPA. How would my kids text it?….OMG!!!! ….. That sums it up. The first thing that I noticed was the heavenly hop aroma before it even touched my lips, I paused, savored the aroma and then let my tongue enjoy the beverage. I then tried the Velvet Merlin, an Oatmeal Stout, recommended by Erica at the Courtyard Marriott hotel. It was pretty darned good.

Tiffani recommended the seared Ahi Tuna which Murray ordered and I chose the salmon. Both were excellent. The only question that went unanswered for the evening was which hops were used in the Taproom IPA. Tiffani didn’t know, the brewmaster had headed home 30 minutes before our arrival, Rob the manager also didn’t know and last but not least, Milt (capacity unknown) swung by and although very chatty, he didn’t know either! Tiffani brought by two small brandy snifters of a barrel aged DBA – oh my – it was superb. Now our interest was piqued and I asked about the Walker Reserve, Parabola, a barrel aged Imperial Stout – the 2011 was $ 55.00 for a 22 oz bottle and the 2012 was $ 35.00. We decide to go big! Before I could ask where I could buy it on the outside I was informed that I couldn’t…it has to be sold and consumed on site.

Parabola - Barrel aged Imperial Stout from Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, CA

Parabola – Barrel aged Imperial Stout from Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, CA – iPhone photo

It was absolutely outstanding. Murray noted that was akin to indulging in a very good Port after dinner. It felt so good in the mouth and the complexity of flavors was heavenly. All we needed was some good dark chocolate and it would have been complete. Note: Alan, the only non-beer drinking Australian I know, you would enjoy this “beer” – it really goes well beyond beer, We shared a glass with Tiffani, I hope the management won’t frown on her sharing a bit of this fantastic bottle!

A quick google search for the best barrel aged Imperial Stouts showed the Firestone Walker’s Parabola in first place amongst the voters and Goose Island from Chicago holding down the second place spot. I need to contact my nephew in Chicago to see if he can score a bottle or two for me!

I am drinking a test bottle of the Imperial Stout I brewed about 4 months ago. It is pretty tasty but will benefit from a few more months in the bottle. I will rack my Cinderella Pumpkin Ale to the secondary tomorrow. I have high expectations of this brew. Reading beer mags during the past week I discovered a brewing technique that I want to explore….. SmaSh brewing……single malt, single hop with a variation of maybe a single specialty grain…..could be an interesting experiment!

My young Imperial Stout - yum but has some time to go!

My young Imperial Stout – yum but has some time to go!

TTFN

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly!

Bishop

Just One Beer at a Time

Thursday night October 25th I was in Long Beach at the 555 East Steakhouse. As advertised – very good steaks but I had been wanting a local beer to compliment the meal. It seems like there are lots of San Diego beers, Northern California beers but LA is barren when it comes to local beers. I quizzed the waiter….he had to check, seems like wine is their thing at the restaurant. I was in luck, they had a new offering from a small brewery just up the road in Torrance, CA., called the Strand Brewing Company. I had a pint of the 24th Street Pale Ale. I was pleased with the aroma and it had a pleasant drinkable taste. So I had another! I did a little research….for some reason LA is way behind the craft brewery craze in my home state. Strand Brewing is a good representative of what LA needs more of.

I flew home to Houston, arrived a little after noon, repacked my bags and headed off to Baton Rouge. 283 miles later I pulled into the Fairfield Inn on Essen! My son Ben met me and suggested we dine at Twin Peaks. I was expecting a Rocky Mountains theme and it was more like Le Gran Tetons – if y’all know what I mean( that is really a lie, I knew exactly what Twin Peaks was all about). Anything to make the young lad feel good. I barely noticed the scenery! I tried the house brew – Naughty Brunette. It was Ok.

Saturday night found us at the Kona Grill for a meal before catching the movie Argo….decent movie, suspenseful but you knew they were going to get out…. The poor young gal couldn’t pour a beer. I tried to coach her but she didn’t get it….oh well. No sushi for Ben nor me either. Just one beer – she forgot my second beer so she only had one chance. We did eat fish…Ben is growing up, no bacon cheeseburger this night…. sea bass, couscous and some interesting vegetables.

Sunday Brunch at Chimes just off the LSU campus. A noon start….Ben needed some beauty sleep. An amazing selection of beers on tap and in bottles. I had an IPA from NOLA Brewing, the Hopitoulas IPA – best beer of the weekend. They serve Imperial Pints so one was enough before the long drive back to Houston. The breakfast/brunch at Chimes is just simply outstanding! I am looking forward to an excuse to go back so I can do a proper critique of the offerings! I just need a driver and a bed!

This week at home, I had to sip on my homebrew IPA….so good!

My IPA in a St Arnold’s 12 ounce glass…..trying to stretch it out a little longer. I have 6 L remaining of the original 18 L batch.

Grilled some chicken the other night along with a Karbach Hopidillo in hand – this local brewery is so good! Last night I chilled one of my Imperial Stouts…..it has been bottled maybe 6 weeks. it was a little early but I just had to know. I bottled about 6 – 12 ounce bottles as the sacrificial offerings. It was good but I know that it will just get better with age. December 1st is the next scheduled sampling.

Just finished that little 12 ouncer of my IPA as I sit here tapping the keys and listening/watching the CMA Awards…..life is just so damn good!

Drink Local

TTFN

Bishop