Beer Drought and Other Thoughts

I am up in drought stricken Midland, Texas….and that includes craft beers that are pretty much absent from the landscape!  I have elected to swear off drinking any mass-produced beers this week…..that means pretty much no beer at all this week in Midland. Two hours north in Lubbock Texas there are craft brewers…at least one brewery and a brew pub. Midland needs a pipeline….

I am not ignoring good beer this week! I am reading and learning so I can try something new when brewing my next batch of homebrew. I have been reading a little about hop-bursting techniques. This technique really intrigues me as a way to really showcase your hop choices. I like the scent of the aromatic floral varieties of hops like; Williamette, Kent Golding, Cascade, Fuggle,  Mt. Hood and other low acid hops. These are used toward the end of the boil for aroma purposes as well as a little bittering. The high alpha acid hops usually go in at the front end of the boil and at the end of the boil what’s left behind are the bittering qualities of the hops and a bit of the original aromas. The higher alpha acid hops that have been added early in the boil for bitterness have wonderful aromas….why not keep more of the scent/aroma in the beer…this is where the hop bursting technique comes to bear.  (the list of hops varieties is huge…everyone has their own favorites)

With “hop bursting”, the bittering hops are added with 20 minutes left in the boil rather than at the 60 minute or 90 minute mark, adding some bitterness while retaining more of their aromas – then  the hopping schedule is built from there – the low acid aromatic hops are added at the 10 or 5 minute remaining mark and/or at flame out. Now, I want to be honest I haven’t tried it yet but Saturday the 13th of October I will adjust my recipe for a Honey Blonde and try this technique… I will update all y’all in about 5 weeks or so and let you know how it turns out!

For further reading follow the link.

The other technique that has entered brewing portion of my pea brain is the Australian No Chill method. It is the result of not wanting to waste all that water used in cooling the beer quickly, as most gurus suggest, and it also make less of a mess – depending on your brewing location. Being in dry West Texas this week I see how this technique makes sense….they are 180 days or less from running out of municipal water supply. Another benefit….the hot wort can add another layer of sanitation protection for the home brewer. Make sure your fermenter can handle the temperature.  My food grade 6 gallon bucket style fermenter can be hot filled up to 180 degrees F. If you have stainless steel fermenters you are not limited to the 180 degree figure. Hun, I need to make another investment!!!!

What else can I learn in my spare time this week? I will share anything that I add to my hard drive!

Hop Flowers and Some Grain

Drink Local



Do Dirty Blondes Have More Fun?

A Nice Amber Color From The Start

I  am back to the brewing pot….I went down to the new brewing supply store in Humble, TX and had them help me design a blonde ale for an easy drinking session beer. What we came up with has the name – “Dirty Honey Blonde”. I was going to go real simple but I was easily talked into doing a partial grain recipe. It takes a little more time on brew day but it should be worth the effort. The grain bill included Vienna Malt, Honey Malt, Biscuit Malt and Cara-Pils Malt for body. The extract is an Amber Malt…. One hitch in the recipe was with the recommended hops, Hallertauer….they were out so we subbed Cascade hops…..when I cut open the package for the hops my nose was hit with an aroma that immediately took me back to my days of drinking Olympia Beer in California…. it was one of those beers that was just a little outside of the taste range for most of the new-rookie beer drinkers. What I realize now is how much the good use of hops influences beer taste. As a young man it was more about cost…..a case of Coors in the bottles was $5.25 – still a hefty sum in 1969 but I couldn’t tolerate Brew 102…the cheapest beer we could get. Yes, the Cascade hops….very nice, the clone recipe for Oly also includes Willamette hops but then again Oly is a lager and I am making an Ale!

I I did my darnedest to keep the cat hair at bay and soaked anything that came near the beer in Star-San!!!!! Mike, I am not going to lose another batch – It is into the fermenter now and it looks like it is off and bubbling. The  OG is 1.047 – about what it should be and will wind up in the neighborhood of 4.8% ABV. A nice session beer. Color is a nice amber  and a calculated IBU of 23.2 won’t make it real hoppy – that will make the bride happy.

My Amarillo Ale is done and seems to have mellowed out. The Amarillo hops……not from Amarillo, TX, give the beer a  definite  citrus floral  flavor. It has a bit of a grapefruit taste to me and Kathy says her buds pick up a hint of lemon. It slides down very easy. ABV of about 4.9% so it won’t whack you right away and the IBU comes out to about 58. The recipe claims – “somewhat dry ale with a strong floral-citrus accent” – and yes it fits the description.

Thanks goes out to the folks at Backyard Home Brewers and Education Center in Humble  TX.  A couple of the beer blogs that I follow are written by women brewers…..and guess what, while I was in the store a young woman – I would say most are younger than me now!- she was in to grab some supplies to brew on the weekend. The owners are helpful and easy to work with… if you are thinking about brewing and live in the area check them out. They hold classes on a regular basis and usually have something to sample and rate when you visit.

Until Later




Dick’s Danger Ale is Fermenting

Busy day yesterday. I brewed the 5 gallon batch yesterday and it was a hectic effort. I did not dive in and do an all grain recipe….. my CFO would need to authorize a $600 investment in mashing equipment…maybe a little more depending on the quality. This was a partial grain batch and the grain bill was pretty heavy – 2.5 lbs of 2-row pale malt, 7 ox. of crystal mall 80 (L), 9 oz. of Briess black malt 550 (L) – the black malt really gives it a dark look. I also added 3.15 lbs. of Briess light extract and 1.5 lbs of dried malt extract. I used severla of my dear’s kettles and had to be a little creative to rinse the grains.

Magnum hopsused  for bittering and Mt. Hood hops for aroma – the Mt. Hood hops have a great aroma! Dry English Ale yeast, pitched at 74 degrees and aerated well. A day later there is a good krausen ring around the edges of the fermentation bucket indicating the fermentation is well underway.

I should be ready to bottle in two weeks and enjoy for the Thanksgiving Holiday Season. I ran a taste test on the sample I pulled to check the OG(original gravity) and the color matches up with the recipe – about a 28 on the SRM scale vs. a 35 or more for my Stout. The taste is nice… not sure how it will mature after it conditions. Folks in the Northwest rave about the beer so I am anxious but willing (need) to be patient.

SRM Scale link if you are interested;

For you folks in Houston…. some good beer news. We have a new brewery, Karbach Brewing Co. The Brewmaster is well seasoned… looks like the Houston Chronicle mixed his name up with the Brewery name in the article… oh well, Eric Warner has somegood  roots and spent time with Flying Dog as the CEO…. I like the Flying Dog offerings and the irreverent humor expressed through the artwork on their labels. The article touts Karbach’s “Sympathy Lager”….. and now the hunt begins.

Hey hun….er, Ms. CFO – how about a good sized refrigerator for the garage so I can brew some Lagers….. I found a great article for clone lagers like Hamms and Oly…..real classics…how about a real good MGD?

Maybe I shouldn’t press my luck.

The Photo below was taken on my 60th birthday – Pat Love – We named a Wheat Ale we brewed after him, John Livezey, my partner in crime at the Humble Beer Festival ( the H is silent in Humble), me.. looking good in that Bush t-shirt and a non-brewing neighbor Alan Wooten…. he did a little quality surveillance for us.

My Bakersfield Brewing Buddies on my 60th Birthday

The Belgian Wit was a hit at dinner tonight. My daughter Ashleigh had a friend over and her review of the beer was pretty spectacular… head swells, chest puffs up and I grin like the Chesire cat…. I do love to hear nice things!




Amarillo Ale – Transfer to Secondary

Stunt Double for the Belgian Wit -" Fat Tire"

My latest batch is an Amarillo Ale… if you remember from the last post – it is not a Texas “thang”, it is because of the Amarillo hops used for the flavor. I took extraordinary care during the transfer to keep cat dander out of the air and hopefully out of the secondary carboy (6 gallon glass vessel – a lot like the old water bottles).  I will let the batch settle more in the secondary, dropping more  of the solids out, become much more clear and continue progress towards the final gravity. I was a bit surprised as it was only down to 1.032 when I transferred the beer. It started at 1.052 and I was hoping that it would be closer to 1.020. Be patient Bishop!!!!!

I did little sampling as I transferred the beer – I drank the sample out of the graduated cylinder and I was impressed. Wow, a great hop balance, not an IPA but just enough to make it stand out from the ordinary fizzy yellow waters on the shelf. Even stands out from some of the better ales. I had to ask for help from a cold Fat Tire Ale for the photo…. silly me, I drank the sample before taking the photo so I substituted the Fat Tire seen in the photo. My Amarillo Ale sample tasted better even though very young and just a little too sweet. I am anxiously waiting to bottle, age and enjoy the new beer.

Plans…. when I return from Midland, TX  during the middle of the week I will boil the wort for my next batch. I am making a Belgian Wit to satisfy my wife’s yearnings for a beer that is a bit better than the Blue Moon equivalent.  She is broadening her experience base and has begun to move out of her comfort zone and try new beers.

While surfing this AM I  saw a pumpkin beer actually fermented inside of a large pumpkin….. hmmmmm, might be worth a try! One example even used the pumpkin as the tun in a whole grain brew. Wow!

Enjoy the football season and try a new beer or two along the way.


Back to Brewing

Having a little to aid in the brewing process.

I spent a sweaty day brewing up a kit beer that I have had in the fridge for a few months. It is an Amarillo Ale from William’s Brewing. It is not named after the Texas city up in the panhandle but derives its name from the Amarillo hops used in flavoring the beer.  It is an extract kit beer and easy to brew. Or at least should be. I have had a couple of batches go sour and I blame it on
some of the cat dander and other microorganisms they bring into the house. I went overboard on sanitation and exposure to environmental air currents. I also aerated the beer to help the yeast get off to a better start. The fast start may allow the yeast to out compete the potentially undesirable airborne yeasts and bacteria.

I have a request form my wife to do a Belgian Wit for her. She loves Blue Moon and claimed my last Belgian Wit was much better than the commercial varieties. I ordered up the materials from Northern Brewer…..another good choice for all things associated with brewing.

I will give you an update on the Amarillo Ale soon.

Humble Texas Beerfest – May 7, 2011

My good friend John  and I made a brief appearance at the Humble Beer Festival this past weekend. For you none Texans, the H in Humble is silent. We both were a bit dismayed with the brief part….. the entry fee was double what it should have been but as true lovers of beer we winced when the wallet opened and closed but we were treat to some outstanding samples. Now don’t be too judgemental of  John’s appearance. The photo was taken quite early in the event, probably no more than 5,  two ounce samples under his belt.  I just forgot to say, “1, 2, 3, smile.”

It really was a nationwide festival, Brooklyn to Seattle and a few “fereners” notably the Ruskies. Every sample was good! although a few were much better than others. We met some interesting folks, the guy with a hops hat wearing a kilt was interesting to say the least. He was part of the Foam Rangers brewing club. I asked a young lady with bright pink hair to pose with me and she complied. I shared the photo of me and my friend on Facebook and my mom commented – “I was sent to the office in 1945 for having hair that color.”

Many new and even 3 day old start-up breweries were plying their marvelous concoctions. My primary interest was to assess how some of my recent efforts stacked up against the professionals. And yes maybe just drink a few as potential brewing candidates. I think my brews compare well! Hooked up with a local brew club here in Kingwood, TX so my brewing knowledge will continue to grow.

As for my brewing efforts;

The batch of wheat ale made for Lindsay Waterman went sour due to….. just my guess, cat dander from my wife’s cats. We rebrewed, is that a word – I guess now it is, and I bottled it yesterday. The sample pulled prior to bottling to check the gravity was might tasty! tonight I boil a new one for my daughter Lisa. She asked for a special brew that her friends from the band ‘Downfall 2012″ to take on their summer tour. I will try to replicate the recipe I shared in an earlier post. The only change I will make is to dry hop an ounce of the Amarillo hops. So, why mess with a good thing…. just to see if we can make it better. I will not send the full 5 gallons out with the band….i willjust keep some brew to replace the sweat I lose in the brewing process.