Imperial Stout – This was Definitely not a “Quickie”!

My second attempt at brewing an all grain batch was a significantly more time consuming. I brewed a Russian Imperial Stout – “An intensely flavored, big, dark ale. Roasty, fruity, and bittersweet, with a noticeable alcohol presence. Dark fruit flavors meld with roasty, burnt, or almost tar-like sensations. Like a black barleywine with every dimension of flavor coming into play. ” (http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style13.php#1f

Hmmmmmm dark as night and an nice tan looking foam!

Hmmmmmm dark as night and an nice tan colored foam!

The total grain bill weighed in at 21 pounds. A massive amount compare to the previous all grain pale ale I last brewed. I had to make another purchase to handle this “big” beer. I am now the proud owner of a triple clad 60 quart Polarware kettle. It is built “Hell for Stout” – FYI – a subtle tongue in cheek play on words. The boil started at nearly 8 gallons and during the 90 minute boil it reduced down to the 5 gallon recipe’s designated target volume.

Dry weight was 21 pounds of grain. Now - muck more than that! At least I didn't waste it...tried a bread recipe - not very good. Fed some to the birds....they didn't like it so the remainder went to the compost heap.

Dry weight was 21 pounds of grain. Now – muck more than that! At least I didn’t waste it…tried a bread recipe – not very good. Fed some to the birds….they didn’t like it, so the remainder went to the compost heap.

The batch came in at an OG of 1.088 a little lower than I was predicting…I spilled a bit pouring into the fermenting bucket( didn’t I Ben?) and had to add about  3/4 gallon of water…probably caused a bit of dilution. Still well within the acceptable range.

All in all the brewing process went well. The beer seemed to be slow kicking off and it took 4 days before I noticed any sign of activity and when I did it was a doozy! You know, intuition is something that shouldn’t be ignored. The brew store suggested using two vials of yeast sine it was such a big beer. I used White Labs WLP 007, Dry English Ale yeast. It took off sometime late on the fourth day…..when I checked on it on the 5th day it was very obvious that fermentation had kicked off….my intuition told me to use a blow-off hose. My intuition was right but I didn’t listen. Now I had a good excuse and reason to clean out the converted freezer.

What a mess! The upside is - the freezer is very clean now!

What a mess! The upside is – the freezer is very clean now!

Cleaned it out and left it for another 6 or so days before I found time to rack it over into the secondary…..Today. The gravity had dropped to 1.026 – good for around 8.5% ABV  – now I need to be very patient – about 6 months worth. I still have a few adds, I have some white oak toasted to a burnt toast look and being soaked in Bourbon at the moment. In another week or so the oak will be added to the secondary for a final touch.

There it is - 1.026 SG - hopefully I will get a little more fermentation and it will drop a little more - 8.47% ABV at the moment.

There it is – 1.026 SG – hopefully I will get a little more fermentation and it will drop a little more – 8.47% ABV at the moment.

Continuing along at about 63-65 deg. F in the converted freezer. The sample pulled for the Specific Gravity check was PDG! How much long before Santa arrives? Yep, that’s what I thought. I will have it bottled and share one with Santa! I have 4 or 5 22 oz. bottles from my last batch brewed over two years ago and one that is about 4 years old waiting on my son Ben’s graduation celebration….July 2014!

Next, the CFO has asked for a Belgian Wit – something along the lines of a Blue Moon – only better! She loves the Raspberry Wheat Ale in the mini kegs, the Tap-A-Draft 6L ones….. She is down to about 3L remaining and getting very stingy about sharing!

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

 

Mesmerized or Mesmerised

I think they both mean the same thing – it just depends on which English is spoken! I honestly feel that I am right but I am willing concede a bit…..the meanings are the same so lets proceed!

Saturday was a rainy day early on but did settle down by the time my daughter’s Birthday gathering got underway – I had the duty of preparing the carnivorous treats for the evening. When turning meat into yummy and satisfying treats I usually keep a cold beer nearby so I can pull in a nice long sip as I contemplate what I need to do next.

I am on the patio, the smoker is heated up. The water pan is well filled with my favorite form of water. It is “water” that has been boiled with the heavenly flavors of malt and hops. Yes, it is beer, my favorite form of “water”. I used a couple of bottles of my Imperial Stout and a bottle of a homebrewed session ale (4.8% ABV). I also added about 5 tablespoons of crushed garlic to the mix.

Three chickens were cut in half lengthwise, covered in John Henry’s East Texas Pecan rub! Smoke was provided by pecan wood brought home from the Ciliske’s ranch. The hard work was having the patience to let the slow cooking and smoke do its magic.  My penchant for peeking too often loses too much heat.  So, I sat back became mesmerized or mesmerized watching the bubbles break out of solution in my pint glass of homebrewed Father’s Day Ale! Earth to Bishop, Earth to Bishop! What, what – oh yes let me continue. The Father’s Day Ale seems to have become more mature & mellow as it sat in my little 6L Tap-a-Draft kegs. Time to brew some more.

I had to be careful with the mesmerizing or mesmirising image of the bubbles in the beer lest I fall into a hypnotic trance and forget to quaff – not cough….quaff! Thankfully I held up nicely, the chickens were amazing and the evening was a success! Could it have been my talent, or simply my choice of ingredients? It didn’t really matter, I received the kudos with humility and a knowing smile.

I reluctantly went into my stash and pulled out a few 22 ounce bottles of my Pumpkin Ale….about 8 months old and very nice! I am now down to 2/3 of the 6L keg of the Father’s Day Ale, 5 bottles of the session ale and about 20 bottles of the Imperial Stout. The stout is also very nice but another few months will allow it to mature and mellow toward perfection.

Caution – when watching the attached clip, remember to breath and look away regularly or risk mesmerization! Hopefully 12 seconds is not enough to cause a problem.

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

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

Imperial Stout Bread

I ripped off a recipe from the magazine “Beer” – I love that title. The original recipe was made with an oatmeal stout called Velvet Merlin from the Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles California. I really like beers from Firestone Walker – they will be distributed in Texas some time this year. Texans are in for a treat. Issue 27 of Beer magazine, page 60+

So, I love to make bread and utilized a bottle of my home-brewed Imperial Stout, not mature enough to drink yet but it made some very good bread. The bread making process was an entirely by hand process – the only thing resembling a machine was the oven! It called for a nice home-brew from one of my neighbors to aid in the process. here is the link to the recipe on my other posting location.

http://wp.me/p30G6n-d

My Imperial Stout bread!

My Imperial Stout bread!

 

 

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