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

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.

Recipe;

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,

Bishop

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.

First Taste – Honey Blonde Ale

My wife’s comment pretty well sums it up! “I can drink that,” she says with a smile and a nod of her head.

I am a little more critical and would like to see a little more carbonation…It  has been about two weeks or so since I bottled it. I will give them all a little shake to stir up the yeast to wake them up and then sample again in a week. Flavor is very nice….not tickling my hop loving palate but it was designed to please the love  of my life – her nose goes up and wrinkles when one of those “hop bombs” that I love comes anywhere near her nose. The color….definitely honey as you can  see from the photo below. There is a bit of honey taste and aroma….I used my dark and robust honey in the recipe…it does  come through.

Nice beer....look close and you can see some bubbles rising and this blog post in progress on the lap top in the background.

Nice beer….look close and you can see some bubbles rising and this blog post in progress on the lap top in the background.

Choices…… the freezer is now available for use as a fermenting chamber….. I had a hive super that the bees had cleaned for me residing at 10 degrees F for a few days….kills any wax moth eggs that may be lurking and wanting to do their damage. The super is out, wrapped and ready for service next spring!

A mead is one choice…. small problem…..I need a bunch of honey, like 15 pounds. I am really not so much interested in the mead as I am in producing  some honey wine vinegar.  It may take almost 9 months to finish the vinegar ….. maybe a little longer to let it age. It might be ready for my “Farmer’s Market” table when I sell my honey next summer…….That is another story you can find on;

http://bishopsbackyardfarm.com/

Maybe a tandem effort….a mead and an Imperial IPA…..yeah that sounds good!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

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 

Bishop

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

Bishop

A Beer for my Honey

I have put back 5 pounds of a dark rich honey collected  from my bees.  I have been planning to make a beer utilizing my honey but haven’t made the time, until now. I asked my Honey for input, as we tend to like different styles….this beer is for her! In her cute way of saying it….A  “Honey Ale”, I have translated that to a “Honey Blonde Ale”. Now comes the  daunting part….selecting a recipe. There are so many choices!

This will be an all grain batch targeting an IBU number of around 20…..again, this is for my Honey and she prefers beers on the lower end of the IBU scale.

The challenge is add the honey in such a way as to not completely lose it’s flavor completely.  Obviously, it should be added at or near the end of the boil. Research also shows opportunities to add some honey to the secondary….Hmmmmm – I continue to do my home work.

I have a bit of time to plan…I won’t brew this batch until the eye doctor  give me permission to lift loads heavier than 20 pounds. I am having cataract surgery in a couple of days and would hate to lift a 5 gallon fermenter and have the implanted lens pop out….. Maybe I can draft my eldest son, a little over 6’5″ and now outweighs me and has the benefit of stupid young man strength, to help me out! PS – after challenging me to arm wrestle on his 21st birthday and losing badly – I still maintain a bit of a fear factor over him…it keeps him in line! He is now 25 and hasn’t asked for a rematch. Brew date is toward the end of the week of September 14.

I teat my son well....on the right is a Session IPA....his favorite and on the left is the Yes Dear Raspberry Wheat Ale....a little left for my wife.

I do treat my son well….on the right is a Session IPA….his favorite and on the left is the “Yes Dear Raspberry Wheat Ale”….a little left for my wife.

Brewing notes will be forth coming, in less than a fortnight!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop