An IPA Start to my Birthday

Maybe I should have waited! Oops

My SMaSH Mosaic IPA. First beer to start the evening. Then an Odell’s Fresh Grind IPA…. Wow! Then a Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter with distilled Hop oil. Gotta love a Texas Backyard Birthday!

Then a nice slab of salmon with pesto butter!

And what a great treat- the family searched far and wide and found 5 – six packs of Hopslam! I am in heaven. Gotta find a cold and secret place to store them.

Thanks Lisa for a card that made me cry!

Dessert? Carrot cake and –

Very yummy!

It is not so bad to be two years beyond Medicare age!

Maybe a Hopslam night cap?????

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly


Honey, I Started the Honey Blonde

I have been in trouble since the moment I began sharing my wife’s Honey Blonde Ale, close to a year now! Really not hers but, I made it using some of the dark honey we harvested last year. She liked the honey so well that she took 6 pounds of the dark amber sweetness and hid it from the sales batches. I have been given very direct instructions for this batch……I am not allowed to give any of this beer away! I need to have my daughter Lisa share in some of the blame. She took a 6 pack to one of her trail races and addicted a couple of her friends. They were rewarded a couple of times.

This beer is an all grain brew, currently in the primary fermenter and probably ready to rack over to the secondary. The brew process,  a 90 minute boil, went very smooth. The starting gravity came out dead on to the expected number. The sample pulled for the gravity test, tasted pretty damned awesome.


Honey Blonde-p1

Details from the Beersmith Software. Whenever I read to sparge volumes I think – That can’t be right….to much water. At he end of the 90 minute boil it was a nearly perfect 5 gallons.

I will Bottle in another 7 days and should make my wife happy by mid August. Let me take that back, I always make her happy, she will be “happier” when this beer is ready  and happiest if I don’t share any……she can make that choice!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly,


PS: My son Joe sent a text message as I was writing this post from Ranger  Creek Brewery and Distillery, San Antonio TX. Another one to add to my list.

Honey Blonde Ale – One Step Closer

I racked the Honey Blonde from the primary to the secondary fermenter this morning. I was a few days tardy but it should not hurt the final product. I hope to bottle over the weekend and sit back and enjoy a cold one on or around October 17/18. 

The hydrometer reading indicates that fermentation is complete so I will let the beer clear up in the glass carboy secondary for a few days, chill, then bottle. ABV calculates at 5.64%. Not an all day session beer but very nice. I drank the sample I pulled – can’t let it go to waste! 

Color is nice – like a light honey color…. Go figure. Yes, a bit of sweetness in the flavor and a pleasant after taste. 

  From left to right, my honey in a squeeze bear, a bit of the extra sample I pulled and the hydrometer sample back right. The honey color is definitely evident.  The beer should clear up nicely in the next few days….. I will keep all y’all updated. 
Drink Local and Drink Responsibly 


The Girl Can Brew !

The girl code named, “Madison the Mad Brewer”, also makes hand crushed, foot stomped wine….trust me, I saw the grape stained fingers in person and photos of her grape stained feet. She is an energetic young lady with what appears to be boundless energy and curiosity. The purpose of my visit with her last week was to provide a mini-lesson on the use of vintage, manual 35mm cameras. Many old cameras from that era required mercury batteries that are now longer available. The replacement batteries and the electronics of the old camera leave many users without a through the lens means to meter accurately. Madison has a hand held meter that she, like me, found the user literature to be less than clear.  We decided to make it a learning opportunity.

We loaded up an old Asahi Pentax Spotmatic 35 mm camera, with a dead meter, with Kodak Tri-Xand headed to the back yard. We used the hand held meter to understand measuring incident and reflected light, depth of field, metering for contrast and other thoughts. She is a very curious photographer and a quick student! We also discussed night and star shots that led to a discussion on the “B” bulb setting on the shutter speed dial. She is a quick student and I think I/we will see more creative efforts from her soon.

Let’s Talk Beer

In February she promised me one of her brown ales, “Squatch Drool”. As I type, and watch Atlanta kick the crud of of the Houston Texans, I am seeking solace in her offering. As I was about to leave after the camera lesson she remembered the promise and handed me the last bottle from the December 2014 batch. Yes, the girl can brew! You can honestly see it in her eyes! I suppose Squatch drool was modeled after Moose Drool by Big Shy Brewing Company, Missoula Montana. I give her interpretation high marks and it drinks “cleaner” on my palate than Moose Drool.

The eyes of a mad brewer, a fledgling vintner and a Mt. Whitney summiteer! I have heard rumors of fireworks daredevil but can't confirm!

The eyes of a mad brewer, a fledgling vintner and a Mt. Whitney summiteer! I have heard rumors of fireworks daredevil but can’t confirm!

Squatch Drool....Very, very good Brown Ale!

Squatch Drool….Very, very good Brown Ale!

Brew Date and Beer Description - Ages well!

Brew Date and Beer Description – Ages well!

Nice - pours a good head and a bit of lace....very satisfying. Thanks Madison!

Nice – pours a good head and a bit of lace….very satisfying. Thanks Madison!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly


Honey Blonde Ale

Today is brew day! I made the switch to All-Grain brewing almost two years ago. It takes time! On top of that this recipe calls for a 90 minute boil!

To pass the time I made some labels for my Session IPA. The bulk of that batch went into my 6 Liter mini kegs from Tap-a-Draft. 12 liters kegged and about 16 bottles. Labeling is a good thing because I sometimes discover an orphan in the back of the fridge and have to drink it to find out it’s lineage. Oh Darn!

Session IPA - Ready and waiting on thirsty lads.

Session IPA – Ready and waiting on thirsty lads.

Over ninety degrees F in my outdoor brewhaus- proper attire, sandals, shorts and a t-shirt!

Killing two birds with one shirt..... Thanks Hun!

Killing two birds with one shirt….. Thanks Hun!

Just I case you are interested;

4 pounds of domestic Pilsner  malt

3 pounds of domestic two- row malt

2 pounds of domestic white wheat malt

0.5 pounds of Canadian Honey malt

1 pound of honey from my backyard at flame out

1 ounce of Cluster hops at 20 minutes

1 ounce of Cluster at 5 minutes

1 pouch Wyeast 1056 Amber Ale yeast

5 gallon batch

should come in under 20 IBU.

Near 5% ABV

I will keep y’all posted

Planned 1 week at 65 F then rack to secondary for 2 weeks at 67 F

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly


Karbach’s Hopadillo Helps Make Awesome Burger

This is less about the beer but I had to use something to make these awesome and over the top burgers.

Ready for the grill - recipe somewhere below.

Ready for the grill – recipe somewhere below.

Ok, how does Karbach factor into this post? See photo below. The burger started off as a 10 ounce lump of 80/20 ground beef. In order to make a pocket in the lump for stuffing I had to use something. Grilling requires a beer in hand so, I used one of my very favorite beers in a can.

The Hopadillo makes a perfect pocket for stuffing and then can help me with the grilling process!

The Hopadillo makes a perfect pocket for stuffing and then can help me with the grilling process!

Now once the pocket has been made I can start to add the yummies. Jimmy Dean pure pork Sage sausage, grilled onions, peppers – yellow and orange, Vermont Ultra sharp grated cheddar, Sweet Baby Rae’s BBQ sauce, mince garlc and the meat seasoned my secret way…… for a fee I will release the ingredients.

My very large skillet simmering away just waiting for proper placement in the pocket.

My very large skillet simmering away just waiting for proper placement in the pocket.

Karbach small tour glass holding the amazing elixir of life….yes, a worn out cliché but I still love it, ready to be stuffed and then wrapped in bacon.

The possibilities are endless. I had mushrooms and a corn salsa to use but forgot to use both!.

The possibilities are endless. I had mushrooms and a corn salsa to use but forgot to use both!.

Ok, now the mouth watering work of putting them together and grilling. I used indirect heat and it took about 45-50 minutes for them to cook through..

On the grill and ready for the heat!

On the grill and ready for the heat!

I  only made 3 this go around and they were inhaled. My son ate one and then a conventional burger, my wife ate hers sans bun. I placed mine on a bun and inhaled it before realizing that I failed to add red onion slices, tomato, lettuce and the corn salsa. Gotta do this again! Maybe I can get another Karbach to help on the next batch, Rodeo Clown or Weekend Warrior….so many wonderful choices. One beer wasn’t enough for the grilling session so – I had one of my beers, the “Yes Dear, Raspberry Wheat Ale” and then a New Belgium Ranger IPA.

Check the video out  –  this is where I picked up ideas for my version….endless possibilities!

Drink Local and Drink Resopnsibly


PS…..the recent hiatus is due to many excuses that don’t really hold water. I have not disappeared – just wafting about in the cloudy murkiness of excuses.

Southern Star Brewery – Plan C, A Better Plan

Saturday was supposed to be a morning trip to NRG Stadium here in Houston for the RV and Boat Show. The return trip was in the trip advisor as a stop at Karbach Brewing Company for beers and a tour. As they sometimes do, plans change and options must be assessed. The participants on this field trip were good friend John, son Benjamin and his fishing buddy David. Benjamin and David decided to check out the Boat Show on Friday evening.  Both of the boys were interested in a seminar on winter fishing for Speckled trout. That lead to the first change. Even though storms were forecast for Saturday morning, the 25/26 year old fishing fools took the boat down to Trinity Bay on the recommendation of the seminar speaker. They got very wet but did catch a few fish.

Two participants had now bailed on me. The storm did materialize and it hammered our house with wind, rain and some hail from near 4;30 AM, when the boys left, until 6:30 AM! My son’s dog hates lightning and thunder so I was trying to get her settled down, I will chat with him later. John realized on Friday evening when I sent him the remindern that he had scheduled the Direct TV installer for Saturday AM.  Due to the stormm the installer was late and he was begging off. So, what’s a guy to do?

I called daughter Lisa at 11:30ish and sought out her company….bag the Boat Show and head to Karbach Brewing Company. I needed to salvage part of the day’s plan. She agreed and off we started. It was now near 12:45 before we got on the road. Just for grins and because of the storm, I asked her to check with Karbach and make sure they were open. Oops…….Karbach hours on Saturday are 12:00 to 3:00 – Mmmmm, just a bit too short. Plan C now. Let’s check on Southern Star Brewing Company in Conroe. Good news, on Saturday they are open from 1-5 PM. We could be there by 2:00 if we were quick. So, turn the Suburban around and head North Westish in the direction of Conroe, Texas.

Lisa snapped a shot of the speedometer of the Suburban as we dashed off toward Southern Star Brewing Company. We made good time!

Lisa snapped a shot of the speedometer of the Suburban as we dashed off toward Southern Star Brewing Company. We made good time!

Here is the “Paul Harvey” – The rest of the story twist. The electronics in the dash are messed up. While parked the speedometer reads 80 mph…, I am not a menace on the highways, but it sure makes a fun image.

Great news on arrival, the first pint is “on the Brewery”….Yee haw cowboy! We did behave since I was driving but Lisa did go after a few of the bigger beers, the Valkyrie Double IPA was her first and she finished with one of my favorites, the Buried Hatchet Stout. I experimented and tried the Waloon, a grisette style beer that is not broadly brewed. I liked it but it would more appeal to my wife. I also sampled the Old Potentate, it has a nice maltiness and is hopped very nicely. I finished up with a Pine Belt Ale. My favorite of the day.

We took the brewery tour. It was a high speed, energetic yet informative tour….The teaser for  is the description of the future plans for capacity  expansion and an increase in the amenities that will set it apart from many of the local breweries. There will be a nice outdoor grounds, and Old House on the location will most likely house the taproom. The brewery expansion will be significant. Look for news of the opening in late 2015!


The Tourmeister…..very entertaining and knowledgeable. Loves his beer and is passionate about brewing.

Lance at the bar ordering hos next Libation.

Lance at the bar ordering his next libation.

Lisa. not my daughter Lisa, but Lisa from College Station - she knows her beer too! She was working her way through the sampler.

Lisa. not my daughter Lisa, but Lisa from College Station – she knows her beer too! She was working her way through the sampler. Lance is still trying to decide.

Empty cans waiting to be filled with the liquid gold! The blue cans are the Bombshell Blonde, the number on seller and the Buried Hatchet Stout the brown cans.

Empty cans waiting to be filled with the liquid gold! The blue cans are the Bombshell Blonde, the number on seller, the Buried Hatchet Stout the brown cans and the center pallets are the Pine Belt Pale Ale cans.

The brewery is a very casual and a great atmosphere for meeting people. Granted the cool weather and the Holiday season may have kept the crowd down. We wound up making some new acquaintances, got to know a few by first name and if you are there…….you are a lover of beer!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly!



Yes Dear – Raspberry Wheat Ale

I seem to brew a lot of beers that I like – the  problem is, my wife has a different palate! I made one for her  a while back but the bitter orange peel used for the Belgian Wit Bier was a bit overwhelming. Dang it….I have had to drink almost all of it! Since then I have brewed a rich and chewy Russia Imperial Ale and my Golden Wheat Red IPA.  So, as my Christmas gift to her, I have just returned home from the beer store with the parts and pieces for a Raspberry Wheat Ale, affectionately labeled the “Yes Dear – Raspberry Wheat Ale”. No wrapping paper needed and the gift that keeps on giving, She will be so happy! My old brewing buddies will understand that the unsaid portion of the label would have read, ” Yes Dear, I should have known – Raspberry Wheat Ale”. It’s a long story…. and besides, it would have crowded the label.

Ingredients = $ 29.12…… I definitely think she is worth that much…

  • 5.5 lbs. Domestic white wheat malt
  • 5.5 lbs. domestic two row pale malt
  • 0.5 lbs. British medium crystal malt
  • 0.5 lbs. Flaked oats
  • 0.5 lbs. Rice hulls – aids in making a filter bed during run off
  • 2 ounces Hallertauer hop pellets – 1.5 oz. 60 minutes and 0.5 oz. 2 20 minutes
  • 1 pkg. Wyeast # 1056
  • 1/2 tsp Irish Moss @ 15
  • 1/2 tsp food grade gypsum
  • Many gallons of Ozarka Spring Water
  • 2 lbs. frozen Raspberries added to the secondary – two weeks

Single Infusion @ 152 deg F and batch sparge.

Below is an image of label design for this batch taken by my iPhone from the laptop screen.

Tongue in Cheek - "Yes Dear - Raspberry Wheat Ale" -

Tongue in Cheek – “Yes Dear – Raspberry Wheat Ale” –

I sure hope my bride has a sense of humor?…….never mind, she married me so the answer is, yes she does!


PS – I also came home with 1.75 Liters of 190 proof Everclear! Not for beer brewing but for making some Limoncello with my bumper crop of lemons! More on that later.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly




Fixing the Autodraft Mystery

Something odd happened the other day. I used my blogging app on my iPhone to generate a blog about the first taste test of my Gloden Wheat Red IPA. I attempted to publish after adding a few photos and conducting my typical sophomoric self editing  before publishing.  All that appeared was the “Auotdraft” title and no meat, no potatoes and nothing about the beer. I want to rectify that problem or mystery.

This was Golden Wheat Red IPA III – but it was also the first attempt at brewing the recipe as an all grain batch. If you read an earlier post detailing the brewing day you will see that it did not go as intended. Lesson learned, if the hydrometer is behaving incredibly far outside of expected norms, do not panic. Take a pull on a  good pint of homebrew – down to mid point, lick your lips and realize that it would not be physically possible for the hydrometer to float that high…….Then inspect the hydrometer closely…..if I had I would have noticed that the tip had busted off and the calibrating weight in the base was missing. Had I done that,  it would have been mystery solved….I panicked –  but based on the taste test I recovered nicely.

My first taste test was 11 days after bottling and the conditioning process was spot on….nicely carbonated but not too much.  Great hop balance…good bitterness up front from the early additions and the late additions including the dry hopping have provided a nice aroma. Very, very drinkable….I have encountered very few undrinkable beers but I have had some that were worse than others! This one comes in pretty durn close to outstanding!

A pint of a successful batch...or really 12 ounces!

A pint of a successful batch…or really 12 ounces!

Lovely lace and great flavor

Lovely lace and great flavor


My label to aid in CRS issues

My label to aid in CRS issues


CRS – a condition that increases with age where you “Can’t Remember Shtuff” or something like that. I will label the bottles this weekend and painful as it is to admit I will share a few! I will be a bit stingy but not nasty about sharing!


Drink Local and Drink Responsibly



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… 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.


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