Russian Imperial Stout- Not as Planned

This is a beer I make every couple of years and typically bottle in 22 ounce bombers. It usually comes in near 11% ABV, and is aged on toasted bourbon soaked white oak. It is what I call a “one and done” beer. Shared on special occasions with several friends. This batch…..well, it will be a little short on the ABV!

I will follow through on the aging process but my OG, original gravity was lower than expected. I had planned on something in the 1.090 range and wound up at 1.078. I just transferred the beer into my secondary fermenter and will add the oak shortly. I will say that the sample pulled for the gravity is tasty so, all is not lost. It now calculates out around 7.5% ABV.

Siphoning out of the primary fermentation bucket into the glass carboy for a little aging. Dark and yummy looking and yes, the sample was purty darned good!

Next up is a SMaSH IPA. Marris Otter malt and Mosaic hops. I will keep all y’all posted from my Kingwood, TX home brewery.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Honey, I Started the Honey Blonde

I have been in trouble since the moment I began sharing my wife’s Honey Blonde Ale, close to a year now! Really not hers but, I made it using some of the dark honey we harvested last year. She liked the honey so well that she took 6 pounds of the dark amber sweetness and hid it from the sales batches. I have been given very direct instructions for this batch……I am not allowed to give any of this beer away! I need to have my daughter Lisa share in some of the blame. She took a 6 pack to one of her trail races and addicted a couple of her friends. They were rewarded a couple of times.

This beer is an all grain brew, currently in the primary fermenter and probably ready to rack over to the secondary. The brew process,  a 90 minute boil, went very smooth. The starting gravity came out dead on to the expected number. The sample pulled for the gravity test, tasted pretty damned awesome.

Recipe;

Honey Blonde-p1

Details from the Beersmith Software. Whenever I read to sparge volumes I think – That can’t be right….to much water. At he end of the 90 minute boil it was a nearly perfect 5 gallons.

I will Bottle in another 7 days and should make my wife happy by mid August. Let me take that back, I always make her happy, she will be “happier” when this beer is ready  and happiest if I don’t share any……she can make that choice!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly,

Bishop

PS: My son Joe sent a text message as I was writing this post from Ranger  Creek Brewery and Distillery, San Antonio TX. Another one to add to my list.

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.

image

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!

IMG_1231

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

A Beer for my Honey

I have put back 5 pounds of a dark rich honey collected  from my bees.  I have been planning to make a beer utilizing my honey but haven’t made the time, until now. I asked my Honey for input, as we tend to like different styles….this beer is for her! In her cute way of saying it….A  “Honey Ale”, I have translated that to a “Honey Blonde Ale”. Now comes the  daunting part….selecting a recipe. There are so many choices!

This will be an all grain batch targeting an IBU number of around 20…..again, this is for my Honey and she prefers beers on the lower end of the IBU scale.

The challenge is add the honey in such a way as to not completely lose it’s flavor completely.  Obviously, it should be added at or near the end of the boil. Research also shows opportunities to add some honey to the secondary….Hmmmmm – I continue to do my home work.

I have a bit of time to plan…I won’t brew this batch until the eye doctor  give me permission to lift loads heavier than 20 pounds. I am having cataract surgery in a couple of days and would hate to lift a 5 gallon fermenter and have the implanted lens pop out….. Maybe I can draft my eldest son, a little over 6’5″ and now outweighs me and has the benefit of stupid young man strength, to help me out! PS – after challenging me to arm wrestle on his 21st birthday and losing badly – I still maintain a bit of a fear factor over him…it keeps him in line! He is now 25 and hasn’t asked for a rematch. Brew date is toward the end of the week of September 14.

I teat my son well....on the right is a Session IPA....his favorite and on the left is the Yes Dear Raspberry Wheat Ale....a little left for my wife.

I do treat my son well….on the right is a Session IPA….his favorite and on the left is the “Yes Dear Raspberry Wheat Ale”….a little left for my wife.

Brewing notes will be forth coming, in less than a fortnight!

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

Golden Wheat Red – A Big Beer in the Making

Progress – about 6 days ago I transferred the beer from the primary tank to the secondary, the glass carboy, for the second of the  two stage fermentation process. I am still disappointed with my measurement faux pas….I can only guess at my starting gravity. At transfer it was 1.015…a little lower than I had predicted but my predicted measurements were based on the absence of Murphy, as in Murphy’s Laws. see previous post – https://bishopsbeerblog.com/2014/10/22/the-brew-is-on/

I am happy to report that the sample I grabbed was very, very nice! In two days I will dry hop with an additional two ounces of Centennial hop pellets. I will hold the temperatures at 63 degrees F for 5 days after the hop additions and then crash it to 34 or 35 F to clear everything up. I still have some decisions to make. When finished – should I fill two of my 6 L Tap-a-Draft kegs and bottle the rest, fill one 6 L keg and bottle the rest or bottle all of it? So many choices! The best part of the decision – whatever I choose it will be drinkable and sharable!

Making the transfer - primary fermenter to the secondary.

Making the transfer – primary fermenter to the secondary. Mother Nature and gravity make the siphon move the beer!

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

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

 

A Repeat – Sorta

My Golden Wheat Red IPA is disappearing too quickly so I decided to brew another batch, albeit with a tweak to the hopping schedule.

Here is the link to the original post with the recipe;

https://bishopsbeerblog.com/2013/11/10/inspiration-comes-to-fruition/

My preliminary notes prior to cranking up the burner

My preliminary notes prior to cranking up the burner

The plan was to increase the hops, change the schedule up and see how it lands. There was a significant goof on my part, I was going to stay with the Amarillo and Cascade hops mix I used previously. I went to the Beer store in Humble(Backyard Homerbrewers and Education Centre) to pick up the ingredients from my pre-prepared list. Picked up the ingredients and headed home. If you look closely in the photo you will see a package of Centennial hops, not Cascade! The dummy at the store fouled up, or so I thought. My list was still in the bag so I looked at what I had written……Hmmmmm, where was my brain, I was thinking Cascade and wrote Centennial! I got what I wrote down – I guess I was the dummy.

Most everything stayed the same….except for the hops and the hopping schedule.

60 minutes – 1 oz Amarillo

30 minutes – 1 oz Amarillo and 1 oz Centennial

15 minutes – 1 oz Amarillo

At Flameout – 1 oz of Centennial

1 oz Centennial used for Dry hopping planned for the secondary – 5 days then crash to 34 degrees for a couple more.

The Original gravity of my first batch came in at 1.066, this one, using the same grain bill and extract is 1.040 – a significant difference. It could be I was shorted  or I bought slightly different ingredients from my local store. The first batch ingredients were purchased from the cross town store Defalco’s..  The color is also notably lighter – may have to try brewing this again real soon!

The beer is in the fermenter at 62 deg. F for a week and will then be transferred to the secondary and dry hopped….

Is it true that there are no bad beers? Just some better than others?

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

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!

TTFN

Bishop