Flying “Under the Radar”

Saturday September 3rd found daughter Lisa and I at a new brewery in downtown Houston, “Under the Radar”. The day started with a play at the Alley Theater in Houston, “A Night With Janis Joplin”.  Great play and the lead in the play, Kacee Clanton, was channeling Janis Joplin’s spirit…….from nearby Port Arthur, TX. We attended the 2:30 afternoon performance so we were free to explore downtown. What better form of exploration than to find a new brewery and partake.

My good friend and fellow homebrewer, Mike and his lovely wife Annette had texted me last weekend from the Grand Opening of “Under the Radar Brewery”! Lisa and I were a week late for the Grand Opening but, as the old cliché goes, better late than never.  We arrived in time to witness the end of the Texas A&M Aggies take an OT win over my old school, UCLA. While catching the two point conversion by UCLA I struck up a conversation with a young lady, named Kelli, intently watching the game. She is an Aggie, “Poli Sci” major and yes of course, an attorney. Better yet, she is married to one of the owners. More about that connection later.

We found a close and convenient parking spot at 1506 Truxillo Street (home of the brewery and beer garden), adjacent to the Deutscher Fleschwagen food vendor! Oh my…..translation is the “German Meat wagon/truck.” The smells were heavenly and I will have to report out on another visit about the food. Lisa and I were focused on the beers for this visit.

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A look from the beer garden with the brewhouse in the background.

First round….for $ 15.00 I bought a logo glass and 3 tokens, we added a fourth token for an additional $5.00. Our choices were;

Dirty Blonde – I ordered the Blonde, I know, those of you that know me, are probably shaking your head because I tend to be an IPA fan, the hoppier the better. Lisa is a bit like me and she wanted the IPA….I  knew I would get a sip. I liked the Blonde and I know my wife will enjoy it.

Mid  Frequency IPA – Lisa…..yes she got the IPA. A good solid IPA, not over the top with bitterness. A good very drinkable IPA.

Midtown Bock – Because of commitments we decided to hold onto a token and sample the Bock and Porter on another visit.

Porter Authority

Radar Love – a light Hefeweizen. Now, I don’t normally drink Hefeweizens, but on this warm late afternoon I ordered  and glad I did. Very nice beer and very refreshing….coulda had another……. Just enough Magnum hops to keep it interesting but not enough to have my wife turn her nose up at it….So, Kathy my dear, there are two beers on this list that you will love.

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A listing of the usual offerings

There are plenty of tables to share with other likeminded beer drinkers with a nice mix of sun and shade in the beer garden. There is a Dynamo cornhole set on site to keep teams and groups talking smack and destroying their opponents. I noticed a few folks carrying in food and snacks as well as folks making use of the Deutscher Fleischwagen.

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Patrons enjoying a great day to drink beer……

Back to Kelli now. She introduced Lisa and I to her husband, Mike Norfleet, one of the three owners and still dabbling in his civil engineering work….He is a Purdue grad, but, he brews some very good beers so I will cut him some slack and …….  he did have the good sense to marry an Aggie! We chatted about beer, duh, as well as bees & honey. I think I put a bug in his ear to create a Honey Blonde or something similar somewhere down the road. I don’t have the inventory to supply enough for a 10 barrel batch…..It would be cool to find a local downtown source!  I told Kelli and Mike that I would see if I can find a contact for them.

We waited around long enough to catch a brewery tour conducted by Mike. He definitely has a passion for the craft and delivers with a strong authoritative voice. He also asked me to behave and not answer any of his questions…..I complied. The brewhouse is a 10 barrel system and they utilize 3 fermenters that also double up as brite tanks for force carbonating prior to kegging. They don’t have a bottling line so everything is kegged and distributed locally.

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Mike Norfleet, one of the owners up on his podium…..walkway between the mash tun and brew pot….delivering the beginning of an excellent tour of the brewery.

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Mike again…..drinking a cold one and leading the tour.

I am anxious for another excuse to wander downtown and sample the remaining two beers. It won’t be long. FYI, Mike and Kelli like Hay Merchant and I do believe you can find an Under the Radar offering there.

PS, Kelli, if we can keep it a secret, I will bring a 22 oz. bomber of my 3 year old Russian Imperial Stout, 11% ABV and aged on toasted, bourbon soaked oak.

Deutscher Fleischwagen

http://www.undertheradarbrewery.com/index.html

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

#undertheradarbrewery

#anightwithjanisjoplin

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Inspiration before Perspiration

Sitting on the patio enjoying an almost perfect Houston evening. It is about 74 degrees F or 23 degrees C for the rest of the world, a cold home brew in my hand and chicken on the grill.

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A small glass of my Honey Blonde Ale. My wife confronted me and asked if I was drinking “her beer”. I  had to admit, “Yes dear, I am”. Chill out Hun – it was only 8 ounces! Insert smiley happy face here! I was using a brewery sample glass from Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, Texas. Sure was good!

The chicken is smelling very good. @ $ 1.27 per pound!!!!   whole roasting chicken cut in half. Season with Lowry’s and garlic. Yum!

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That describes the inspiration for my next brew, a Session IPA! Target ABV will be 4.6% or so. Hops, this is where I will get my thrills, 7 ounces of Mosaic Hops. Three of the seven will be used to dry hop the beer as it sits in the secondary fermenter. Six and half pounds of domestic two row malt, one pound of Munich malt, one pound of domestic wheat malt and a half pound of 40L crystal malt.

Mashing and hopping schedule will be run through Beersmith and reported out on brew day, possibly tomorrow or the next day. (Wednesday doesn’t look good so it will be Thursday February 18th.)

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly
Bishop

Brewing Day

It was a few days ago, December 23rd to be exact. Yes dear, I probably could have picked a better day ……. seems like it was hectic for everyone – everyone else but not me…. I should have known that there were different expectations?????

The all grain process does chew up some time. I don’t wear a watch so a good portion of the day got away from me before I started. It was dark by the time I was finished and beginning the clean-up. From a technical standpoint the brew came off flawless……. I hit the volumes, the starting gravity, the color and if the flavor of the sample from the gravity measurement is an indicator, it will be very nice! In less than two days the fermentation was in high gear and I should transfer to the secondary in a couple of days.

I plan to make a small change to the recipe. I plan to add Raspberry Puree to the secondary fermenter for flavor. The folks at the local brew shop suggested the that I should obtain better results. Time will tell.

Low tech but effective outdoor brewing set-up.

Low tech but effective outdoor brewing set-up.

I finished drinking the little dab of Belgian Wit that was in the fridge and had a couple of my Golden Wheat Red IPAs while brewing. The Tap-a-Draft mini-keg really works well and added just a wee bit more CO2 – makes it an outstanding beer! Gotta have a homebrew when making homebrew!

 

Plans – my son Ben is asking for just a plain run of the mill Pale Ale – then he said it must have great flavor and be easy to drink…….the search for a recipe begins…..IPA flavor but less alcohol….as session IPA. I can do it!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

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…..it 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.

Tidbits.

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

Bishop

Just A “Quickie”

A “quickie” post. I have a few weeks relatively free, just a few quick local jobs so I promise to write more about my upcoming all-grain batch planned for the weekend.

I just had to write about this beer I poured – an IPA from Odell Brewing Company! Simply, “India Pale Ale, IPA”. The impact was a double whammy – the hop aroma hit the nose and the very mellow bitterness followed! Do a search and locate a sixer. You won’t be disappointed!

I just had to do it quickly. I will apologize now and deliver a more lengthy effort soon!

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Drink Local and Drink Responsibly
Bishop

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.

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A real, true Hop Head….Literally!

 

Drink Local – Drink Responsibly

Bishop

 

Bakersfield Does Craft Beer

I was back to Bakersfield California for a few days of paying work and some family time! In an attempt to manage my belt, I cannot and will not take every evening meal at the Lengthwise brewery or one of the two Lengthwise Pubs! As much as I want to continue my education into local craft beers I am restricting my intake.

I love hoppy IPA’s and just had to try the Lengthwise offering ,Double Centennial Ale. From the Lengthwise web page.(“This double IPA is generously kettle hopped and dry hopped with Australian grown Galaxy hops.  Galaxy hops add gentle citrus and passion fruit aromas and tastes.  Unlike most DIPAs this beer finishes a little dryer which helps showcase the hop flavor.”)

Yummy and hoppy but with a crisp clean aftertaste! I took notes and this maybe the model fo my next “all grain” batch for an IPA. I haven’t brewed with Galaxy hops but I just may have to give it a shot!

 

Yummy.....around 9% ABV so drinkers must use care, caution and portion control!

Yummy…..around 9% ABV so drinkers must use care, caution and portion control!

 

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly!!!!!!!!!

Bishop