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… 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!




Dicks Danger Ale – May It Rest In Peace

After the transfer to the carboy

I had very high hopes for this beer, a clone partial grain recipe. It looked, smelled and tasted great racking from the primary to the secondary carboy. No hint of problems when bottling the batch. I was patient and let it sit for nearly 5 weeks. Ahhh, the reward, or so I thought. Somewhere along the process my ale became infected, infected so severely that I had to pronounce the batch as terminal. I have blamed the cats in the past but I think I may have to admit that I might not have taken the sanitation  to the nth degree. I have been very successful in the past……

For the future, my preparation will include scrubbing down the entire work area, strong cleaning measures for the equipment & bottles and keeping the air still – no cat dander or whatever it may be. I like my beer far too much to let myself become subject to beer-brewing malpractice! I received significant coaching from my better half two weeks ago as I bottled the Double Belgian Wit. She made valid comments and I was reduced to the simple and only right answer a man can give at that point – “Yes Dear”!!!! She likes her Belgian Wit and does not want it to not die a tragic death due to my controllable actions!

In the near future I may consider a conical fermenter and eliminate the racking to the secondary all together. Maybe I should size up to the next size, this would allow me to make 10 gallons at a time and brew a little less frequently. Hmmmmmm – Not a big cost difference in equipment –  I should also add a bigger boil pot too! I will write-up the AFE and see if I have adequate justification with the CFO to proceed with the capital investment.

Better news in the next post…….. I hope!


Dick’s Danger Ale is in the Secondary Fermenter

It was a busy afternoon in the kitchen/brewery. I flew in from Midland on the 5:20 AM flight this morning….. I got some feedback – I was told that the flight left at the” crack of stupid”! It was a bit early according to my who picked me up as well as my co-worker – he decided to stay in bed and have a day of leisure – my alarm went off at 3:45 AM in order to get the car back and get my “special” pat down at the security gate… this all metal left  knee sets the alarms off every time. I wonder if anyone ever gets a woodie during this pat down….? No, not me… the guy doing the pat down!

Back to the beer – I transferred the ale from the primary into the glass carboy secondary fermenter in order to clear it up and allow it to condition a little long without sitting on the spent yeast. The grab sample to check the specific gravity was so good I think I  could keg it now and charge it up with CO2 – it would be ready to drink. If it gets better over the time as  it sits before bottling  I won’t be able to keep it around. This partial grain recipe seems to be a keeper. Once I get set up to do an all grain beer I will give this ale a try as an all-grain brew. It looks very dark but isn’t heavy and is just smooth!!!!!

I was able to do a pretty good job of avoiding collisions with my daughter Lisa and my lovely wife. Halloween party tonight with Lisa and friends. She made some of those Ritz cracker and peanut butter cookies dipped in melted almond bark and decorated Halloween style. I wonder if they will go well with D’sDA – (Dick’s Danger Ale)

I did have a bit of a problem during the transfer….. it is a requirement to enjoy a good beer while conducting any and every step of the brewing process. Well, I had a “small” pint of the Belgian Wit I recently brewed – one beer…. shouldn’t be a problem right? Well, not so recently. I have been afflicted with a condition called Sudden Hearing Loss –  just the right ear. I am one of the chosen ones because along with the hearing loss I have a pretty good dose of vertigo….  that becomes the issue. My vertigo and one beer start the merry-go-round spinning a little too fast. The only benefit that I can see is that my good home-brew may stick around a little longer because I am a one and done guy in my current condition. If you want more info there is a link below.

Hmmmmmm, what shall I brew next?


Dick’s Danger Ale is Fermenting

Busy day yesterday. I brewed the 5 gallon batch yesterday and it was a hectic effort. I did not dive in and do an all grain recipe….. my CFO would need to authorize a $600 investment in mashing equipment…maybe a little more depending on the quality. This was a partial grain batch and the grain bill was pretty heavy – 2.5 lbs of 2-row pale malt, 7 ox. of crystal mall 80 (L), 9 oz. of Briess black malt 550 (L) – the black malt really gives it a dark look. I also added 3.15 lbs. of Briess light extract and 1.5 lbs of dried malt extract. I used severla of my dear’s kettles and had to be a little creative to rinse the grains.

Magnum hopsused  for bittering and Mt. Hood hops for aroma – the Mt. Hood hops have a great aroma! Dry English Ale yeast, pitched at 74 degrees and aerated well. A day later there is a good krausen ring around the edges of the fermentation bucket indicating the fermentation is well underway.

I should be ready to bottle in two weeks and enjoy for the Thanksgiving Holiday Season. I ran a taste test on the sample I pulled to check the OG(original gravity) and the color matches up with the recipe – about a 28 on the SRM scale vs. a 35 or more for my Stout. The taste is nice… not sure how it will mature after it conditions. Folks in the Northwest rave about the beer so I am anxious but willing (need) to be patient.

SRM Scale link if you are interested;

For you folks in Houston…. some good beer news. We have a new brewery, Karbach Brewing Co. The Brewmaster is well seasoned… looks like the Houston Chronicle mixed his name up with the Brewery name in the article… oh well, Eric Warner has somegood  roots and spent time with Flying Dog as the CEO…. I like the Flying Dog offerings and the irreverent humor expressed through the artwork on their labels. The article touts Karbach’s “Sympathy Lager”….. and now the hunt begins.

Hey hun….er, Ms. CFO – how about a good sized refrigerator for the garage so I can brew some Lagers….. I found a great article for clone lagers like Hamms and Oly…..real classics…how about a real good MGD?

Maybe I shouldn’t press my luck.

The Photo below was taken on my 60th birthday – Pat Love – We named a Wheat Ale we brewed after him, John Livezey, my partner in crime at the Humble Beer Festival ( the H is silent in Humble), me.. looking good in that Bush t-shirt and a non-brewing neighbor Alan Wooten…. he did a little quality surveillance for us.

My Bakersfield Brewing Buddies on my 60th Birthday

The Belgian Wit was a hit at dinner tonight. My daughter Ashleigh had a friend over and her review of the beer was pretty spectacular… head swells, chest puffs up and I grin like the Chesire cat…. I do love to hear nice things!




Bottling and Racking to Secondary

A very nice beer to sip while brewing.

I have the Amarillo Ale bottled and aging now. I had to delay bottling for a few days because the gravity did not drop as low as I wanted. I stirred it up and let it sit for another three days and got a 3 point drop. I am a little more confident that it will be fine. The sample during the bottling was OK but not outstanding. I will be patient and let it condition and age before sampling again.

On the same day I racked the Belgian Wit over into the secondary fermenter. Yes I sampled and took the gravity…. gravity is where it needs to be and the flavor is damn good. I will again show some patience and let it sit the full required time in the secondary before filling my 3 -6L minikegs. While I was boiling the wort my wife walked by and said she liked the smell of this wort as compared to some of my other batches. I still have no chance to boiling the wort inside the house……

Next on my list?????? I am still wanting to try an all grain beer. I need to do a little research and see if I have enough goodies on hand so I don’t get the CFO questioning additional expenditures. If someone has a request for doing a clone send me the request. Or maybe I will  get real frisky and brew something original in a style I like? So many beers and so little time to sample them all!

Amarillo Ale – Transfer to Secondary

Stunt Double for the Belgian Wit -" Fat Tire"

My latest batch is an Amarillo Ale… if you remember from the last post – it is not a Texas “thang”, it is because of the Amarillo hops used for the flavor. I took extraordinary care during the transfer to keep cat dander out of the air and hopefully out of the secondary carboy (6 gallon glass vessel – a lot like the old water bottles).  I will let the batch settle more in the secondary, dropping more  of the solids out, become much more clear and continue progress towards the final gravity. I was a bit surprised as it was only down to 1.032 when I transferred the beer. It started at 1.052 and I was hoping that it would be closer to 1.020. Be patient Bishop!!!!!

I did little sampling as I transferred the beer – I drank the sample out of the graduated cylinder and I was impressed. Wow, a great hop balance, not an IPA but just enough to make it stand out from the ordinary fizzy yellow waters on the shelf. Even stands out from some of the better ales. I had to ask for help from a cold Fat Tire Ale for the photo…. silly me, I drank the sample before taking the photo so I substituted the Fat Tire seen in the photo. My Amarillo Ale sample tasted better even though very young and just a little too sweet. I am anxiously waiting to bottle, age and enjoy the new beer.

Plans…. when I return from Midland, TX  during the middle of the week I will boil the wort for my next batch. I am making a Belgian Wit to satisfy my wife’s yearnings for a beer that is a bit better than the Blue Moon equivalent.  She is broadening her experience base and has begun to move out of her comfort zone and try new beers.

While surfing this AM I  saw a pumpkin beer actually fermented inside of a large pumpkin….. hmmmmm, might be worth a try! One example even used the pumpkin as the tun in a whole grain brew. Wow!

Enjoy the football season and try a new beer or two along the way.