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




Beer and Domestic Harmony

I bottled my Imperial Stout yesterday. The sample I took for the gravity reading was very nice. Just a hint of bourbon from the oak and a taste of both coffee and dark chocolate. Can’t wait to see how it matures. While prepping for the bottling exercise I cleaned up the counters and floors to eliminate potential cat hairs from invading the beer and infecting it. I had all of the chairs moved out and mopping when my wife showed up. She was so pleased that I was mopping the floors for her! Her admiration for my efforts was not long-lasting. She quickly spotted the bottle tree, the priming bucket and other paraphernalia. Then she let know exactly what she thought….

“You’re not mopping the floors for me! You are doing it for your beer!” she said and then walked away.

My beer bottle tree = clean and sanitized bottles!

Guys, can we ever win? On Tuesday of this week we were down at the St Arnold’s Brewery and she put me in a tough stop then. We were sitting at a table near the bar. There was a woman near the same age as my wife standing with her back to us. She was wearing fairly snug jeans. Kathy asked me the no win question.

“Hun, does my butt look as big as hers?” – I looked and honestly didn’t think the woman’s butt looked that big and Kathy’s not as wide as the woman’s butt. I replied, “Hun, your butt is shaped much nicer than hers!” Not quite the answer she wanted to hear.

Then she said, “let me go up and stand next her. You use your phone and take a picture for me.” Oh boy, I really can’t win this one…..fortunately she decided against having me take the picture.

I did remop the floor because I did make a bit of a mess……still did not make too many points because as she points out….I will probably just track in more muck. She normally waits for me to go out of town when she mops so the floors stay nicer – longer!

Had a nice lesson in brewing today down at the Backyard Homebrewers Education center in Humble TX – the H is silent!. I learned a few more tips and techniques to improve the brewing of my next batch!

My homemade toasted oak dowels – hand turned in my shop. They were soaked in bourbon for two weeks before being added to the secondary fermenter.


Drink Local


Imperial Stout- bottling day

Prepared on on iPhone so it is a bit of a challenge. I spent some time yesterday cleaning bottles in order to bottle my stout today. I have a bone to pick with some of the craft brewers out there. Labels and the glue used are the issues.

I give very high marks to two brewers, Back Forty Brewing – Naked Pig, good beer and the label slips off with minimal effort. Pappadecker Brewing, that’s me. My labels purchased from the Defalco supply store in Houston are close to perfect.

Sam Adams – you are a close second. Thank you! You are also a home brewers friend. Abita, y’all are close behind. Keep up the great work crafting gear beers and never, never go to twist off caps!

Now I have a problem with Real Ale bottles. Your labels are a real bitch to remove. Your beers are good and made in Texas but help us cheap guys out. I am trying to save money and recycle your bottles but your glue makes it a challenge!

Craft brewers, please help out your homebrewers as we tend to purchase your products over the mass produced yellow fizzy waters in the stores. We compliment you as well, as we try to emulate your styles so – help us out! Use glue and labels that will release in 20 minutes immersed in water! PS – I hope your ink is nontoxic – the labels go into my compost pile!!!!

One of my labels just sliding cleanly off the bottle! Enjoy and drink local! TTFN – Bishop


The Making of the Imperial Stout

I really enjoy stouts….not an everyday beer but as one of those that can top the evening off with that deep dark and sensuous flavors abundant in mature stouts. My last Imperial stout was brewed in December of 2010 – that last bottle consumed in July of 2012 and it was the best of the 40 bottles….it aged so well. I wanted to recreate that beer but as I always seem to do…I wanted it to be better!

The ingredients.

I started with a partial mash recipe…takes a little more time on brewing day but increases the complex flavors in the stout. I have used mail order suppliers in the past but I am also a firm believer in supporting local business. These guys are top notch…and on top of that they usually have a homebrew on tap to sample! Brewing day did not go smooth as I noted in a previous post but I think the results will not be compromised. The racking process discussed in my last post is a real positive indicator that the beer will be wonderful. The original gravity was pretty high, 1.093. I was concerned that I may not have aerated the wort enough before fermenting in the primary. I thought that it would take off vigorously and need a blow off tube…not. There was a good steady bubbling in the airlock, a thick two + inch thick krausen in the fermenter so I had fingers crossed that the yeast was working hard. The gravity when racking to the secondary addressed my concerns. The gravity had dropped to 1.024, a significant drop indicating that fermentation is nearly complete! If I run it through a calculator it comes out around 9.3% ABV….a pretty potent brew. With the addition of the toasted oak dowels and the infusion of the dowels in bourbon I should have a very complex and satisfying beer. Two months and then bottle and then wait a little more. I am hoping that it will be ready by New Years Eve – roll into 2013 with my new stout!   My bride and I had a nice visit with my cousin down in the Medical District here in Houston last night. We decided to make it a date night and after dinner we stopped by the Flying Saucer in downtown Houston, 705 Main St.  The varieties on tap, in cans and bottles is mind-boggling. I did join the saucer club but it may be several years before I have my name enshrined on the walls. Once you sample 200 beers your name is placed on a saucer and hung on the walls or ceiling for all to see. They were wise enough to put a daily limit on how many you can officially add to your tally – three beers per visit – I think that is a smart and sane way to manage the process. After two months I sit at 6 on my tally….it will be years getting there but hey, everyone needs a goal or two in life, eh?

So, what should I brew next….something for my wife I suppose! A Belgian Wit or a nice Blonde Ale….I will mull it over and yes, I know, seek her input! TTFNDrink local, drink smart,Bishop

Bourbon and Oak Infused Imperial Stout

Last weekend I was able to get my Imperial Stout racked to the secondary fermenter. In the prep and sanitation process I noticed a potential problem with my plans to include the toasted oak dowel that I had so lovingly crafted and infused in bourbon for several weeks. The opening on my glass carboy looked like it was going to be a tight fit when inserting the toasty oak. I went out to the garage and picked up the oak dowel remnant from my turning process and tried a fit test….oh crap…..it doesn’t fit!

Plan B…..rechuck the toasted and soaked dowel sections and turn then down a little. That would delay the racking to the secondary because I would want to ensure that the dowels were sanitary…another couple of weeks in bourbon to be safe. Not a catastrophe but just two more weeks added on to the entire process. I didn’t plan on having my first tasting until December so not a deal killer.

I looked in the mason jar and it appeared that the dowels looked to be a bit smaller in diameter….I’m thinking I might be in luck. I thought back to the roasting process and it did seem that the dowels had shrunk, but would they then expand after infusing themselves with the bourbon???? Ok, extract the dowels with a sanitized stainless steel fork and by golly….they slipped right through the top with room to spare. Now, hopefully after a couple of months they don’t swell up and give me problems retrieving them!

Below is a shot of the carboy and airlock. I decided to use some of the bourbon in the mason jar to provide additional protection in the airlock. Now the challenge – I must be patient!

Five gallons of my Imperial Stout, bourbon infused and toasted oak resting on the bottom. Note the bourbon in the airlock! My wife’s common lament is visible to the right!



Imperial Stout Additions

Not many votes but my first choice was number one on the list. Oak infused with bourbon has been designated as the route to take. I decided to make my own oak spirals – not really a spiraling cut but I believe it will work. I shot a video of my handiwork on the lathe creating extra surface are for the oaky and bourbon flavors but couldn’t post on this blog – just still photos. I have enough to make many more for a fraction of the cost of commercial oak spirals.  I also roasted the oak in the oven 1 hour 45 minutes at 400 F and 30 minutes at 450 F. I wandered off during the roasting process to run some errands….when I returned to the house I could detect the “robust” odor of roasted oak…..my wife’s description of the odor was not as complimentary….she had her candles burning in an attempt to mask that wonderful robust and oaky scent.

I cut the spiral cut dowel to fit into a wide-mouthed mason jar. I went off to the liquor store to buy the bourbon, a less expensive bourbon than I have in the bar……No Pappy Van Winkle for this effort, I bought Evan Williams – a Kentucky bourbon. I chatted with the store clerk and she seemed to know a little bit about bourbon. I explained my intent and she offered this one as having a bit of a smoky flavor. The reviews are not real good as a drinking bourbon – I did pour a little over ice and I think I would agree with many of the reviewers – mix it with something, do not drink neat or even over ice(my choice). Should be fine for my intended purposes though.


The dowel partially cut – repeated the pattern the entire length using my parting tool.

Same dowel viewed from a different angle. Left rough for better liquid absorption and release of flavor.

I will allow it to soak for another week, then transfer my Stout over into the secondary and add my bourbon soaked oak dowel.

PS – the color of the dowel after roasting was about the same color as “tanning moms” face at her peak of brown-ness….roasted oaky brown is my description of her hue!




Bombshell Blonde Beer Butt Bird

Southern Star Brewing has been getting a lot of exposure in my recent blogs….good beer and great people so that is not a bad thing. I used Bombshell Blonde cans for a weekend meal – see photo below.

Bombshell Blonde cans sitting in my beer butt holders.

I could not bear wasting this great beer on the chickens, so I spent a leisurely afternoon enjoying the Blondes – BEERS! – and then split a yellow fizzy water brew between the two cans – added garlic powder, Lawry’s seasoning salt and cumin powder to each can – inserted the cans – and grilled with indirect M/H heat for about 80 minutes.

The results – two very moist, tender and tasty chickens. I had an Alaskan Amber as my bread with the meal and salad for my greens –

The chickens – done, tender, moist and oh so good. One was too tender – darn – and fell apart as I removed it!

I peeked at my Imperial Stout this morning and there is a nice krausen up about two inches inside the fermenter and the air lock is bubbling away. I placed my nose close to the air lock and the aroma is heavenly….Need to check the polling results to see how will I enhance the flavor in the secondary!

The vote so far – 50% coffee and 50% bourbon infused oak – help me out – go to the link for the “Brewing Day” post and express you opinion…it really does matter!




Busy Brewing Day

The day was much too busy and much of it was my own doing. The Imperial Stout was a partial mash effort so there was that element of an extra step in the process – not much in the way of work, just time, patience and monitoring. I had trotted off to the store a few hours earlier and my ambitious nature kicked in – I decided to buy a brisket to smoke while the beer was brewing. A perfect excuse for another beer while heating up the  backyard.

All was going smooth until transferring the mash liquor from the kettle to the boiling pot. The bottom of the bag holding the crushed grain busted open. I sent quite a bit of the spent grain over into the boiling pot. I tried fishing out the grains and realized(American spelling) that I was not going to recover mare than about 70% of the grain. Ok, now lets hunt for my wire sieve. I couldn’t find it last time I looked for it so why would I think it would be different this time? “Call a friend” – and yes she had the answer to the question. I enlisted the help of my 17-year-old son…..giving him a start on a skill set that could make him a popular guy in college a few years down the road. (he has to wait until 21 to practice the trade)

I am a busy dude! Keep feeding the wood chips to the smoker, keep an eye on the brew pot, watch the timer for the hops additions, be ready to stir down the potential boil over when adding the hops and keep adding chips to the smoker….oh yes, try a new craft beer! I bought this new one more as a test for my wife. It is called Citra Blonde from Widmer Brothers in Portland Oregon. She did like it and I was pleasantly surprised!  I recently fell in love, a beer this time, with another Widmer beer, Rotator IPA – an ongoing changing recipe. Great concept! A bit like the Yazoo Brewery’s Hop Project!

Beer | Widmer Brothers Brewing  Take a look – first class website and a great overview of how to brew!

It was well after my planned finish time before I pulled the brisket, cooled the beer & pitched the yeast, cleaned the pots, sequestered the fermenter in a cool dark spot and sat down for a brief respite. this looks to be a stout stout….starting gravity of 1.093! I sampled the sweet wort after checking the gravity and the flavors a very interesting even at this early stage of the process. Aroma is nice – if it mellows/matures as I expect, it should be an awesome beer. I am still deciding what to do after transferring to the secondary……coffee – maybe, oak – that is a possibility and maybe oak that has been soaked in a decent bourbon, chocolate – hmmmm maybe not. I have 8 or 10 days to decide. Maybe I run a poll!

Poll Daddy Poll

Sitting back in the shade on the patio – the beer is boiling, the brisket is smoking and a cold beer in my hand.

The brisket – smoked for 7 hours. The thick end was cut off, wrapped tight in foil smothered with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and 10 hours in the oven at 200 F.

That dark crust, enhanced with oak chipped from Jack Daniels bourbon barrels – the bourbon flavor/aroma was not noticeable in the meat but the smoke off of the smoker was pretty yummy! The brisket just fell apart….



Imperial Stout – My Next Homebrew

Fire up the pot and let’s brew something. There was a sad day this summer of 2012! The last two bottles of my Imperial Stout that I lovingly brewed in December of 2012 was consumed….oh it was so good and I was able to share the heavenly experience with my son-in-law. Tayna does not normally drink stouts, but unless he was lying to me…and he knows better than to do that, he complimented me on this beer. It aged incredibly well.

The original batch was an all extract kit from Williams Brewing in California. The kit came with oak chips to add in the secondary and the final product was awesome…..it took a few, but once it got to that right age….about six months from brew date, it was very drinkable. I was going to order the same kit but decided to buy local. I have been encouraging readers to drink local beers so why not brew with ingredients from the local folks.

I went down to “Backyard Home Brewers Education Center” in downtown Humble yesterday and with the helpful folks there, searched for and found a good-looking partial extract recipe for an Imperial Stout. Now here is another plus of this local store…..cost difference. The Williams Brewing kit would have set me back about $46.00 plus shipping, here, the grain, extract, hops and yeast total cost was a bit over $26.00. I saved some money and got to build my own recipe! Oh yes, they had an Oatmeal Stout on tap in the store that was very tasty. Tomorrow, Saturday, they are having an all grain education brewing class…I wish I could make it but I am off to watch my youngest play soccer.

I will keep all y’all posted on the progress of this batch. I think I will saturate my oak additions in a good bourbon before adding them to the secondary. Yum! Check out the store and education opportunities if you live in the area.


A glass of my old stout, so dense that no light can penetrate its murky and tasty depths!

A glass of the previous batch…..just a wee bit heavy and oh so good!

Recipe will be posted soon.



Brisket and Stout – Better Than a Sleeping Pill

Stout and Brisket - Should Be Goo

Woke up around 2:30 AM this morning, tossed around for a while and finally decided I would get up and try to get some things accomplished. I looked online and saw that my local Starbucks wasn’t open until 5:30…..I could have gone up to the front of Kingwood – that store opens 30 minutes earlier….. Chose to wait and ride the bicycle down to my local Starbucks hang out.

My restless night was partially due to the procedure done on my right ear yesterday… they poke a needle hole in the tympanic membrane and inject a warm steroid solution into the ear. After three daily treatments the hearing issues (lack of) and vertigo may subside or go away. The vertigo increased overnight and the hearing is so bad I can’t tell if it is getting better. The tinnitus ringing in the ear was over the top last night… so it was a sleepless night…not “Sleepless in Seattle” – I think that was a chick flick, it was sleepless in Kingwood.

So, what does this have to do with a beer blog – well let me fill you in. I decided that some good Texas comfort food – Brisket!, a bottle of my oh so good Imperial Stout……. it just seems to get better and better as it sits, some nice fresh gazpacho – fresh from the garden and local CSA pick-up and dinner with my wife and daughters would be a nice precursor to a full belly and the sedation from an 11% stout! – it just may help me sleep.

I think I will sleep very well tonight. The stout is so smooth…almost silky on the tongue and a mix of “chocolaty” and a hint of licorice flavors is very nice….the beer  adds to my vertigo – I am almost ready to go sideways as I type. My third inner ear injection is tomorrow and hopefully I will see some improvement!

More Beer stuff. Need to pass along some pats on the back to some beer supply folks. A couple of weeks ago I ordered some imprinted bottle caps. Well, they have not arrived so I sent a note off to the contact email address asking for an expected delivery date. I received a great reply, after hours and not from some overseas call center….. Mr. J Cameron Cooper, Manager of BottleMark LLC, http://www.bottlemark.com/ , sent a great note back explaining  their production issues/problems….. I told him no problem that I could wait –  but he fired off a note back to me saying they will try to get my order out for my next bottling….. this is real customer service…. if you need printed caps – give BottleMark LLC your business. I am impressed!

Oh yeah, back to the brisket,…. 10 hours in the smoker – the brisket turned out awesome…. And yes…..I am fading …. I think I will have to pass on watching “Dancing with the Stars” tonight. Sorry hun!Mmmmmmm good brisket – goes well with the Stout.

Mmmmmmm good brisket - goes well with the Stout

An update… I was fading for sure – the post to the blog also went sideways so I am trying to salvage my thoughts – so few and so fart ( as I proofread I saw the word fart…not intended between them! – I am trying again. I did sleep very well – until about 5;20, then rode the bicycle down to my Starbucks office to finish things up.

Dear Melissa, the vertigo just makes riding the bicycle a small challenge in the bigger scheme of things. I love the challenge. When it gets bad enough that I have to lay down to put my underwear on I will forego the morning rides…..