Yesterday my buddy John dropped by as he often does for a cold beer. We alternate patio sitting so yesterday was my turn. I knew he would like a nice pour of my Simcoe SMaSH IPA……
I pulled two 20 ounce glasses out of the freezer, set one under tap number one featuring my “outstanding” Simcoe SMaSH IPA….there I go again with self congratulation! Mini lesson here, when pouring beer, always pull the tap handle into the fully open position. Why, a partially open valve creates a larger pressure drop at the tap and causes much more foaming of the beer than necessary. I sat the big glass under the tap, pulled it full open and dang it, just short of 14-16 ounces the keg ran dry. No problem, I give John the good beer and I will take a pour of the Session Ale. At about 2 ounces poured the Session Ale keg blew empty……dang it. Sorry John……no full beer for you. I took a portion of his and we had even amounts……sadly.
Well, now my brewing plans need revision! My kegerator is empty. Life is not good….I do have some options! When I built my kegerator system I bought a Sankey valve connector and added hardware to connect it with ball lock fittings. In simple terms it means I can pick up a commercial keg requiring a Sankey valve and hook it right up!!!!!!I have a special keg ordered from my favorite local brewery, DECA Beer Company, the Mosaic SMaSH…..cant wait till it is ready.
I need to shift gears and put a succession plan together for my empty kegerator. IPA’s are at the top of my list, my wife has slowed down on her beer drinking so I will likely focus on my tastes, my buddy John’s tastes, he is a fan of IPA’s and also some of the good lighter versions, and my beer drinking sons. My son Ben likes the Dank West Coast style IPA’s as do I. At my age, 72 and counting, I could probably benefit by having some lower calorie and less potent beers on tap. So, IPA’s of some sort soon to be brewed.
As for my Russian Imperial Stout, bottling day is on the calendar for April 23rd or thereabouts. Almost all will be bottled in 22 ounce bombers but 4 or so will be in 12 ounce glasses to help judge the aging process every 3 months. Progress notes will be coming…..I promise no more long hiatuses.
I have this beer on tap in my kegerator now and everyday that I walk into the garage it whispers to me……”Bishop, come closer and grab a frozen mug! Pour a pint and enjoy it!” It takes all of my willpower to resist…..not that I have a lot of willpower when it comes to very good beer……Yes, I am patting myself on the back. So, on or around February 8th or so….It really isn’t a memory problem, it is about me not adding the proper notes to my brew sheet!
I did make a note that original specific gravity was 1.061, alas no date. Yeast was pitched on 1/22/23, WLP001 California Ale yeast. Pat myself on the back for that. I will now have to trust my memory on the next important part, final specific gravity, my memory has it at 1.012, which calculates out to about 6.4% ABV……several tastings of multiple pints seems to confirm the ABV….LOL. My previous blog post pegs the transfer to the secondary fermenter on January 29, 2023……So kegging was around February 7-8. First photo of a pint+ sized was February 11th……so…… relatively close on my time line….I will add those notes to the brew sheet and ask for your support and not calling me a liar.
Tasting, although my good buddy John does stoke (wasn’t sure if I wanted to use the word stroke here so I opted for stoke so as to not hear some of your giggles) my ego once in awhile, he pronounced this beer in the top 3 or so of my beers brewed…..he has liked a lot of my previous beers so I will accept his compliment. It was slightly over carbonated, but after relocating my CO2 bottle outside of the kegerator the low pressure gauge seems to respond better and hold the set pressures better. It now pours with a beautiful head!!!!!!
Now on to bigger and better things……a very big beer that nearly overwhelmed the capacity of my Grainfather System. I is rated at 20 pounds of grain and I managed 20.5 pounds……so, it was a struggle. It is a Russian Imperial Stout with dark toasted oak spirals soaked in good bourbon. The beer is in the secondary now, this will allow the spirals to sit for 8 weeks and impart magical flavors and mellowness to the beer and then bottle it in 22 ounce bombers. I am not kegging this beer. It looks like it will be between 10% and 11% ABV. The story on this beer soon!!!!!!!
First the update. Yesterday on day 8, I managed to rack from the primary fermenter into the glass carboy secondary fermenter. I added 1 ounce of Simcoe hops for dry hopping. Even after 8 days the beer was still a bit busy fermenting, as indicated by the gravity of the beer. I had been expecting something in the neighborhood of 1.012 or less and the beer was 1.021. The primary still had a busy looking krausen …… I figured what the heck, rather than closing it up and waiting a few more days I went ahead and racked it over to the secondary with the understating that it would still be bubbling pretty actively. The sample I pulled to check the gravity was not wasted, slightly sweet on the backend but very nice aroma and color was perfect. Note to self here…..this beer will need serious cold crashing prior to kegging…..At my age that may require and reminder plugged into my smart phone,,,,,if I don’t forget!…… FYI – I added it to Monday February 6th at 1:00 PM. Yee Haw!
Wandering musings……some of you are craft beer savvy and you understand the term SMaSH. If not it simply means the simple process of brewing with a single malt(malted grain) and a single variety if hops. A little more……
The desired end-product affects the malting process, but the basic steps involved in malting include:
1. Harvest: Gathering, cleaning, and drying the grains is the first step in malting. Since ancient Mesopotamia, the most common malted grain is barley. Malt makers or maltsters can malt all kinds of grains, but barley remains a popular staple.
2. Soak: Soaking or steeping the grains involves submerging the grains in water. The enzymes activate and set off chemical changes as the grains absorb water.
3. Germinate: When the grains reach a specific moisture content, maltsters drain the excess moisture and sprouting begins. The starches in the grains convert into sugars, such as monosaccharide glucose, disaccharide maltose, and maltodextrin, among others. Specialized enzymes called proteases help break down the grains’ protein into different forms, including amino acids, that yeast can consume.
4. Dry: At a certain point, the maltster halts the chemical transformations of the green malt with air and heat. This preserves the germinated grain in its new, changed state with the right combination of starch, protein, and sugar.
5. Roast: Some malts, such as those for certain types of beer brewing, roast in an oven or kiln. This additional heating process creates further changes in the nutritional profile of the grain, affecting the fermentation process and altering the flavor of the finished product.”
OK, that may be TMI but I am sure someone may want to know. So now the term malted grain is established . Now for hops.
Last of the TMI stuff. Lets talk about my Simcoe SMaSH and a little more. This is my third or fourth beer brewed in the SMaSH mode. The first couple were Mosaic Hops and Marris Otter malt. Feed back from my buddies indicate that it was a very drinkable beer with good flavor and great aroma…..Yes! I selected Mosaic primarily because of the amazing aroma but also for the fact it can also be a good bittering hop used at the beginning of the boil. Subsequent additions are later in the boil so as to maximize the aromas as well as a dose of dry hopping in the secondary fermenter. If you need to know…..go ahead and google “dry hopping” my musings going forward will attempt to avoid too much TMI. Marris Otter malt is very flavorful, has a bit darker color than if using a pale malt and a slight malty flavor that my oldest son doesn’t particularly like….Children are to be spoiled……even at 32 years of age. So, I used Golden Promise malt for the Simcoe SMaSH ……hopefully the taste will be in Ben’s preferred flavor profile. My sample seems to meet that criteria. A musing of sorts. I assumed criteria was singular but I googled it and learned that it is the plural of criterion. Really old dogs can learn new tricks. And I am a really old dog!!!!!!
Let me wander a little further…..next up on my brewing list is a Russian Imperial Stout with whiskey barrel aging as part of the process. Deeper explanations in a future blog posting. Suffice it to say that it will be a higher ABV beer in the 11% or higher range, will not be worth drinking until it is well beyond a year old and will do nothing more than age very nicely just as the blog’s author…..smiling broadly, I do believe that I have aged well. My last batch was brewed in 2016 and bottled in 22 ounce bombers. The last two bottles were consumed very recently. An old neighbor and homebrewer shared one with his wife this past December and the very last one was shared with folks down at DECA Beer company along with a Russian Imperial stout brewed in 2017 by Cody Evans, Chief Brewer and he holds so many flunky titles at the brewery that I won’t mention them. We had been attempting the taste off and sharing for quite some time. Both beers received high marks from patrons and brewers alike. My beer had been primed with brown sugar which imparted a faint aroma of molasses and was surprisingly good. Keep you eyes open for more down the road.
My post from October 29th was all about the making of my Avery Clone IPA and I had promised a timely update…….well, I failed, but not completely. The untimely demise of the beer was not unexpected. It was sadly, one of the best beers of this type I have ever brewed. The final kegging was just a bit shy of 5 gallons which should have been satisfactory.
After kegging and slowly carbonating the beer it was time to pull the first cold glass of IPA heavenly essence. I pulled the first glass and, although cloudy as it had picked up a bit of settled sediment off the bottom, I knew by the aroma that it was going to be excellent. I had to invite my good friend John over to help with first impressions. Well first impressions lead to some serious sampling and we put a dent into that 5 gallons of heavenly essence.
Our first session of this 6.3 % ABV beer was thoroughly enjoyed, much to the chagrin of my wife, but we were too far into our discussions on how friggin good this beer was to really care. Yes, it was good….After our third pints each, John figured he needed to stop there and take the short two block drive home…..good idea John….Me on the other hand……well it was a mellow evening.
I stopped after the third pint and filled this very nice and large and frozen mug of liquid joy, bottom photo. I was one happy camper. The beer was excellent, the comradery was fun as always, the compliments were heady and, yes went to my head……both compliments and the alcohol. Sorry Hun it is just the way I am with really good beers. Happily she tolerates my obsession with good beers…..as long as I behave properly!
This is not a session beer but…..I/we/they and others did not treat it as a session beer. Our sessions with this beer put a rosy color on our cheeks and a chuckle into even the lamest of jokes. It was a sad afternoon when I went out to pull a nice pint and the keg became empty……but pleasantly, the pint glass was full enough when it blew. A little murky off the bottom but yes, tasty enough to finish.
Some observations on this beer beyond its potent essence. It has…..no, had, a nice thick frothy head. The aroma was spot on and not overwhelming. It was properly bitter without a bite. Secondary flavors were smooth and pleasant. Nice lace on the glass delineating every wonder pull of the beer also indicating a very clean glass holding a nice frothy head of beer. It begs to be brewed again.
I apologize a bit to a beekeeping acquaintance of mine here in Texas as he has named his business “At it Again Apiaries”…….so, I just appropriated a portion of the name. That said, it has both been too long since I last brewed and also too long since I last posted. Up date, I have an Avery IPA clone sitting in the secondary, dry hopped and I started the cold crash yesterday before kegging tomorrow. The gravity targets from the recipe were hit dead on. It was 1.056 for the starting gravity and 1.012 for the ending gravity…….sample tasted wonderful.
Sadly my local beer supply store closed a few months ago and I have resorted to online ordering. The online experience has been hit or miss. I have tried Austin Homebrew Supply and Northern Brewer. The excuses revolve around labor shortages and supply chain issues……I am more concerned about having room in my kegerator for two more beers so, I am learning to be more patient. Tomorrow I should be carbonating the Avery clone but the next beer, or should I say planned beer is a SMaSH with Golden Promise grain and Simcoe hops…….dangit…..may not get it started until sometime next week. That is if the remaining ingredients show up.
I hate to say it but part of the delay is my fault. The grain bill calls for 12 pounds of Golden Promise, in the drop down box I apparently did not click hard enough on 12 and they order went out as 1 pound. I did have a second chance to review my order at checkout, but guess what, senior moment, and I did not correct my mistake. So I have compounded the delivery issues……nuff said and you can stop giggling any time you want!
The Avery clone was an all grain kit from Austin Homebrew Supply…..they did a decent job getting the supplies here on a reasonable amount of time. A browse through the products section does highlight notable amounts of “out of stock” tags but over all not too bad. I did resort to going to the “Grainfather” site for parts I needed before brewing the Avery clone. The connections on the inlet to the pump and discharge side of the pump had gone bad. Fortunately the discharge tube leaked badly as I was cleaning and prepping and not during the brewing process, averting a catastrophic event!. It delayed the Avery IPA clone by about a week.
I will promise to update all y’all in a timely matter once in the keg and properly carbonated….and wish I could share some with y’all – you will just have to rely on my words and your imagination. Trust me…
In a nutshell what is Voodoo Ranger IPA? ……….. Origin: 2017 as Voodoo Ranger IPA and Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA. Since then it has grown to about 20 variations in the theme in the Voodoo Ranger series. You can even buy all things “Voodoo from the Vootique. Official gear of epic beer. https://www.vootique.com/……….. My order is in and it will be epic!
Today is a hot and “sweltery” (New word that I will submit to the “Funkin’ Wagnels” 2023 updated edition) and humid Houston, TX day. Insert smiley face here ……….. yes, an attempt at humor, laughter of course is your choice. I am a beekeeper, so some of my sweat today is related to honey stuff, condensing partial 5 gallon honey buckets into 1/2 gallon jars and cleaning sticky equipment.
To ease the pain of the heat and effort, I made an attempt to rehydrate.I enjoyed a really juicy Voodoo Ranger Juice Force IPA……Gotta say it helped but oh my, starting off with a 9.5% beer for the day may not always be a wise choice. It does bring a smile or as my wife describes it, a goofy grin.
Seriously Juicy and very refreshing……
Had to have another but Voodoo Ranger was no longer on my shelf so I went local…..Galveston Island Brewing……Citra Mellow and yes I was…… great day got a lot down and the shower will feel really good.!
Let’s start with Great Change Brewery in Bakersfield, California. My wife Kathy had arrived in Bakersfield a few days earlier to care for her mother. The evening of the 14th of November we met up with an old friend and his wife at the brewery. Kathy and I had arrived a bit early so I started on a flight and Kathy had a pint of Poncherello Pale Ale.
The Idaho Fresh Squeeze IPA was up first. Day Ride – a nice 7% American IPA with cascade and Simcoe hops…. I really enjoyed it. The Spotted Pony Session IPA was easy drinking at 5%. The Yo Mr. White is a double IPA that is smooooth. The malt bill is like a Belgian Wit beer and nicely hopped with Amarillo, Idaho 7 and Simcoe.
Sassy Red Ale, 5.2% ABV – not overly hoppy but very nice.
This is a post that got lost in the editing process. Several of the beers I had that night are not in production now but looking through the current list of beer available it seems to be very well rounded.
I want to report out on the 2020 best beers according to Zymurgy magazine. Not familiar with Zymurgy? Zymurgy is the publication of the American Homebrewers Association. The 20 best beers are the opinions of American Hombrewers Association, AHA, members and may not reflect the opinions of drinkers of swill. Swill may be a harsh term but there really is a flavor, aroma, mouthfeel and quality difference for the beers in this list.
I am pleased to report that a handful of my go to beers, including 3 at the top of my list are in the top twenty.
Number 1…. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, from Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, MI. I was introduced to this beer on one of my many work trips to North Dakota and it is now being distributed in Texas…..yes, it is in my fridge. Two Hearted is brewed year round.
Number 2….. Pliny the Elder, from Russian River Brewing Co. It is a double IPA coming in at 8% but….. drinks very smooth with an incredible mix of aromas and broad but smooth bitterness. I have only been able to have this beer on three occasions and can probably give you date, time and location when I was able to enjoy this beer! It really is that good. Drawback, very hard to find……gotta know somebody! Available year round but…..only in limited quantities.
Number 3…… Pale Ale by Sierra Nevada. This was probably my first exposure to real beer nudging me away from my usual swill….the beer came out in 1980, it probably was late 1980’s before I was treated to the wonderful, bottle conditioned ale featuring, new at the time, Cascade hops. Confession, I did experiment with non swill in the late 70’s, Anchor Steam beer after it was reintroduced in 1971.
Number 4……..Heady Topper by the Alchemist in Stowe, VT. This beer has not blessed my lips, but…….I am on the hunt now. This is a double IPA and according to the recommendation printed on the can…..it is best consumed from the can. According to the review in Zymurgy that is to “allow your senses to enjoy the maximum hop experience.”
Number 5……. Hopslam Ale from Bell’s Brewery….. my go to Double IPA. It is best consumed fresh……..but I have hoarded it far into the year, hidden away from the local beer gnomes that raid my stash. Very high on my list. Mark your calendar, this beer is distributed in January and February……then the dearth sets in. Dearth, a beekeepers term when nectar is not available for the bees and also appropriate for this nectar of the gods hoppy beer. At 8% it will help make you toasty….nice!
Number 6 …….. Zombie Dust by Three Floyd’s Brewing Company, Munster, IN. Three Floyd’s describes it as “intensely hopped”. That description places it on my list of beers to hunt down. The Zymurgy review calls it “Insanely drinkable”….. sounds like a gotta have beer. Only 6.2%…..yum.
Number T 7……. Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, by Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City, MO. Very nice beer coming in at 8% …..very good hoppy aroma and and hop flavors. I have been able to track this one down, although not in my top list I would never turn it down.
Number 7 T……. Kentucky Breakfast Stout, barrel aged, by Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI. It is a strong Imperial Stout that I find Rivals my favorite Imperial Stout, the barrel aged Parabola from Firestone Walker. It is 12.3 % and best shared in 4-5 ounce glasses with good friends. Complex flavors and aromas and really warms going down. Patting myself on the back, my home brewed Imperial Stout, also aged on toasted and bourbon soaked oak, is on par with this beer.
Number 9………Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR. This is a beer that almost always graces my fridge. Two of favorite hops are used for this beer, Citra and Mosaic, both during the boil and during fermentation. It is a very fresh and clean drinking beer.
Number 10…….Old Rasputin, North Coast Brewing Company, Fort Bragg, CA. I have had an opportunity to sample this beer and it is treat for the palate with wide variety of flavors and complex set of pleasant aromas. At 9% ABV it will warm you up nicely.
The remainder of the top twenty; Treehouse Julius, sounds delicious, Founders All Day IPA …..a go to session ale loved by me and my beer drinking partner, Focal Banger by Alchemist….I know nothing of this beer but need to hunt it down, Jai Lai by Cigar City….I have had it a couple of times and it is a very pleasant beer, Celebration Ale by Sierra Nevada…..damn good beer, I really like it! Pseudo Sue by Toppling Goliath, the reviewers were very complimentary of this beer – yep another one to chase down, White by Allagash Brewing, apparently a real nice example of the classic Wit Bier style, Sip of Sunshine by Lawson’s Finest Liquids, this is a NEIPA this is an 8% beer, Odell IPA, , been there, done that beer many times and bought the shirt, the Odell IPA knocked my socks off the first time I tried it! Very yummy! Hazy Little Thing by Sierra Nevada Brewing……I love this beer, great aromas and flavors…yum
It seems that I fly through Denver most often to get anywhere I need to go. Once in a great while it is Houston direct to some big city , but more often than not it is Williston, ND, Midland, TX, Bakersfield CA or other locations best served by regional jets. Thank goodness it is rarely on an old turbo prop that makes the ears protest madly. My buddy Gary Carnduff an$ I flew the Toronto to Sarnia bone shaker turbo prop several times!
Today’s flight is Houston – Denver- Bakersfield. Once in Denver the regional jets fly out out the east end and damn……that is where the New Belgium Hub is located. It is Wednesday and apparently a quiet night so it was seat yourself. The bar seats were full but I did find a table for two. Me in one seat, my brief case and big camera bag in the other……I say big, but also heavy. Two Nikon cameras, a D600, a 35mm Nikon F5 with full battery pack and only bringing 4 lenses on the trip but two weigh a ton. The 80-200 f2.8, the 80-400 f4.5, a 50mm f1.4 prime and a wide angle zoom.
Now let’s talk beer…..yum. I started off with a New Belgium Citradelic Tangerine IPA – 6% ABV and a low 50 IBU’s in a bottle. Pleasant, crisp clean and easy to drink.
Then the Smoked Salmon Caesar Salad arrived an I need another beer. On drat was New Belgium’s Hop Avenger. Yum, great head, a bit hazy, great head and deliciously good. ABV comes in at 7.7% and a mild 45 IBU’s. Loaded with some of my favorite hops including; Mosaic, Chinook, Citra and a few more.
Time to kill before my next flight but am pretty well sated, for food and beverage……😜.
Over the past several years I have conducting training classes in Williston, North Dakota and have been miserable due to the lack of Breweries in the area. I am in North Dakota during this last week of September and I am thirsty……I am also anxious to spend my free time down in Medora to shoot photos in the Teddy Roosevelt National Park and of the scenery along the backroads of North Dakota and Montana.
My wife, she certainly loves me…..how do I know? She sent me a text message on my drive from Williston to Medora. The text came in shortly after I passed the turn off to Watford City, home of a good brewery that has excellent pizza baked in a wood fired oven……I pulled over and stopped in order to reply…..I told her that maybe, on the way back I would stop at that brewery. I then headed south to the park.
I drove through the North Unit of the Teddy Roosevelt Park and was rewarded with an abundance of Bison…..and too many tourists….I now know why I like the end of October or into November for my fall trips!!!!!! It also seems as if more wildlife is out….Bighorn sheep, Mule deer, whitetail deer, coyotes and those cute little prairie dogs. After my pass through the North Unit, it was on down to the town of Medora.
I was up early to see the sunrise the next day and …… well much too overcast to be treated to a great sunrise.. I did see my first wild Mustang horses in the park as well as my fist sightings of Pronghorn Antelope. I also ran into a guy while hiking a trail, quizzed him on his home base and it turned out to be Dickinson ND….I was guessing it was more than an hour away but no….33 miles from Medora. Hmmmmmmm, now the beer-wheels are turning!
It was now a bit after lunch time and I have eaten at every place in Medora several times – I also yearned for a good beer. I remembered my wife’s text message from the day before and I mentally mouthed the words, “Yes Dear!” – I googled Dickinson and breweries and Phat Fish Brewery came up….35 minutes away…..how fortuitous! (that means lucky).
I have done training classes in Dickinson several times a few years back and no mention of a brewery by any of the attendees. They were either ignorant, hiding the truth from me or……maybe Dickinson was quaint enough to be barren when it comes to craft breweries. It turned out to be the latter.
I hustled east on I-94 and found the brewery at 1031 West Willard….obviously on the west end of town. I walked in and was impressed with the size, the layout and the crisp cleanliness of the place. The lunch crowd had pretty well thinned out and the crew was busy prepping for a special event that night, they planned on being busy as they were also expecting the regular crowd for Thursday Night football. Two young ladies one chair down from me were sharing a pizza and drinking a beer that looked a little anemic…..I couldn’t help myself, I had to ask. It was Miller Lite, Miller Lite for the both of them. That should tell you that they do have some guest taps at Phat Fish until they can further educate to town.
Gotta love the Phat Fish logo
I went with a pint of the Pipelayer IPA…an easy drinking and satisfying IPA – ABV 6.8% and 44 IBUs. I hope I wasn’t too pushy but I did encourage the young ladies to branch out and dip their toes into the beers on tap other than the domestic lagers. They admitted to being a bit less adventurous. While we chatted and ate, I had a thick crust Spicy Righand pizza with a decent dose of Jalapenos! I went reverse style and then ordered a 4 beer flight after my pint of the IPA. Blue Hawk Belgian – Belgian Wit, Nodak Sunrise- Oatmeal Porter, Roughrider Razz- Raspberry Wheat and the Hazy Honey. I think I had the Nurses convinced to try the Hazy Honey on their next visit.
The Belgian Wit was very nice. The coriander was not overwhelming and the citrus zest was perfect. I really liked the Raspberry Wheat, not over the top on raspberry! …. the girls had tried a taste of the Raspberry Wheat previously and enjoyed it….so there is hope for them.The Oatmeal Porter was my favorite of the 4 beer flight. Very good coffee flavors, smooth and robust! The Hazy Honey was light, smooth and refreshing.
Next week they will have a sour beer on tap…..I have to admit……sours are not in my wheelhouse but more and more people are finding them to be very drinkable. More power to them and it just adds a bit more variety to the Craft Beer world.
After the nurses left I damaged to spend a good 10 minutes talking with Melissa Scharf, one of the four principals of the business….10 barrel brewhouse, two – 10 barrel fermenters and two – 20 barrel fermenters. They found a great deal from a brewery that was upsizing and made a smart purchase…..the equipment was so clean it looked as if was set new when they opened 3 months ago…..I find that adherence to cleanliness a great attribute. I am impressed with her knowledge, energy and commitment.
Wow, is that a beautiful and clean image or what?
My four beer flight
Now I just gotta find a way to get back up here…..sooooooon!
I have included links to their website and their Facebook page.