No, I Haven’t Stopped Brewing

I have a couple of new brews to share and a kegerator build to share.

No, it is not a Shiner Juicy IPA. It is my first one that I have ever brewed, my first to grace my new kegerator and…. it is pretty damned good.

Since the Wit Bier i wrote about last, I have brewed and bottled a Honey Blonde Ale using honey from one of my apiary locations. Next up was a deviation from anything I have brewed in the past, it was a New England style hazy and juicy IPA. I didn’t bottle it but it is the first beer into my new kegerator…..see photo above.

The Wit Bier was a success but, ……… the choice of Citrus zest was not as good as the prior batch, at least according to my wife. Others tasting the current batch give it high marks but don’t have the reference point of the prior batch.

What made the prior batch special? The zest for the Wit Bier makes a bigger impact than I would have expected. I used a store bought grapefruit as well as a store bought Blood Orange. The lemon was a homegrown Meyer Lemon, sweet and very aromatic. At my wife’s request no coriander is ever used in my Wit Biers due to her dislike of it from my very first batch. The current batch was brewed with all store bought citrus. The brew store Guru, Preston Brown, down at “The Grain Cellar” in Humble, TX, has suggested using all blood orange in the future. Interestingly, if it is not in the stores it can be brewed with blood orange purée. I may have to research this approach.

Let me turn my attention to the kegerator. I toyed with the idea of using a chest freezer but finally settled on in upright refrigerator with the freezer on top. I brainstormed a little with myself, small storm and no sparks, and decided that top freezer portion could be used as a chalkboard as well as a magnet surface. I used chalk paint and framed it as if it were a real chalkboard. The space will be used to note which beer is on each of the 4 taps.

Chalkboard painted surface surrounded by 1X4 cedar boards. Should be more than adequate space.

The interior of the bottom portion will easily hold 4 Cornelius kegs as well as one or two commercial style 5 or 7.5 gallon kegs along with the Cornelius kegs. One concern is tap handle clearance for opening the freezer where frosty mugs will be located. I measured concern and maybe twice…… I decided to run a horizontal center line on the third 1X4 below the freezer.

The lucky mistake…..I sat down, drew the lines and drill hole locations and drilled the fourth board down, not the third. Crap! If I had drilled the third board down I would have intersected a molded obstruction not allowing me to properly secure the taps!
That molded strip would have caused an epic fail! It was a very lucky accident.
Four Cornelius kegs easily fir with plenty of clearance. Now…. to brew and keg!

First up was the aforementioned New England Style IPA. Lots of hops, very little up front for bittering, a good dose at flame out, another good dose steeped after the boil and three rounds of dry hopping. I have learned the this dry hopping schedule give the beer it’s haze and the citrusy hops provide the “juicy” part of the flavor profile.

Scientifically speaking, “haze is a combination of polyphenol and protein molecules that associate via hydrogen bonding and become visible,” explains John Palmer, author of How to Brew. Suspended yeast, which is different than protein-polyphenol haze, also causes cloudiness. There are some banter back and forth on this style, but to me it comes down to you and your preferences. Me, I can drink almost any and every style…….except for Sours……not for me!

First pour off the kegerator, the Hazy Juicy IPA……..not the Shiner version…..I just happened to score the tap handle, actually a box of various ones, from my Denver based daughter. (Repeat of top photo)
A toast to Texas and a hazy IPA.

In the fermenter now is a West Coast style IPA. “West Coast IPAWest Coast IPAs are known for the huge hop aroma bursting with notes of citrus and tropical fruits. Their malt character is understated, and they finish dry to let the layered hop flavors and aromas take center stage.” By JOHN VERIVE, Los Angeles Times, February 22, 2014.

This brew will be heavily dry hopped and should mirror the description from the Times article. Chinook for bittering, then good doses of Citra, Simcoe and Amarillo hops for very late addition, steeping and dry hopping. Should be kegging it in about 12 days!

Drink Local and Drink Responisbly

Bishop

Confirmation – Bees and Beer are Linked

So, how did I arrive at this epiphany? I am certainly one data point. I started brewing beer around 1991 and became a beekeeper 6 years ago. Ok, not a strong link, but I have more that I would like to offer up.

I have a prolific 8 frame hive, already has 3 supers, in the backyard of some friends, Mike an awesome beer brewer and his wife Annette loves his Chocolate Porter. Synergistic relationship I am certain. The beer fridge, with two beers always on tap, is less than 25 feet away from the hive. There has to to bee and beer intersection in the respective auras influencing honey production and quality beers brewed here! A stronger link don’t you agree?

Well, here is the confirmation! A few weeks ago I put out feelers for an apiary location closer to the house to host a few of my hives. Out of the blue came an offer…..just 2 miles outside my parameters but close enough. Several acres, with a nice tall berm that is above the flooding that plagues our area, a pond and…….next to 100 acres of Tallow Tree – the biggest nectar source for SE Texas beekeepers. First move was a swarm that had moved into a newly built top bar hive in my backyard.

The small top bar in place. Room left for two more hives. I have two Langstroth hives that we’re not doing as well as I wanted out at Berry farm just begging to be moved closer. Today I gathered them up and hauled them over to the new and closer location.

I  have a 10 frame and an 8 frames Lang that were picked up Ready to go. They are loaded on the rack and they were set, opened and bees flying by 8:30 AM. Confirmation of the indisputable link between bees and beer happened at approximately 8:45 AM CST. My Goo friend John and I were packing the truck up when Terry, the property owner, asked if we wanted some homemade wine. It was red and sweet so we declined but mentioned beer is preferable. Terry turned and indicated that we should follow him.

There was a nice “Speak Easy” style door off the garage leading the BREWERY. – Yes a brewery…. 5 gallon style brewery, all electric, set up for all grain brewing. Sweet set up…..over to the right was the bar and a double tap. A lager on one, yes he truly brews and lagers his beer, and a nice Bock. John and I behaved ourselves as we had duties but we did sample and agree the Bees and Beer are joined at the hip.

Do you need anymore proof?

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

The SMaSH IPA is Bottled

Yesterday, February 18th was bottling day for the SMaSH IPA. I wanted to bottle it at the end of day 4 of the dry hopping….2 ounce of whole Mosaic hops…..didn’t happen until day 5th day. I did pull a small sample while bottling and saved it until the task was done.

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Priming Bucket set and ready for bottling.IMG_4464

Sanitized and cleaned bottles ready for the elixir of the Gods!!!!!

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Painfully slow but such a rewarding process. Clean, fill, cap, rinse and store until properly conditioned.IMG_4465

A bunch of mutt sized 12 ounce bottles and one 22 ounce bomber.

12 lbs. Maris Otter Pale Malt

1 ounce Mosaic hops 60 minutes

1.5 ounce Mosaic hops10 minutes

1.5 ounce Mosaic hops at flame out

2.0 ounces of Mosaic hops – dry hopped 5 days

1/2 tsp Irish Moss at 10 minutes

1 pkg. White Labs #WLP-051 California Ale V

OG 1.050

Final 1.008

Single Infusion, Medium body, batch sparge.

4 Gallons into the fermenter….

Dry hopped in the secondary fermenter.

First impressions – daughter Lisa who is my IPA drinking buddy gave the sample a thumbs up, great aroma and a nice pleasant citrus like flavor. I agreed. Now to condition for 10 days or so and it should be more than ready for my birth day on or around the 12th of March.

Drink Local and drink Resonsibly

Bishop