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.

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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

Yes Dear Raspberry Wheat Ale is Primed!

I have been a bit slow priming and kegging/bottling this brew. It could be written off to laziness but I would like to say it was due to the multiple and diverse tugs on my scattered brain. 1. There has been a number of football games needing viewing,; 2. We keep the house cool in the winter – 60 F so sitting near the fire in the fireplace feels so good; 3. My son’s dog, a very sweet recue dog loves my attention and walks in the woods; 4. weeds, damn weeds in the garden; 5. Words with Friends is like Crack!; 6. Thoughts of working out – succumbed to the thoughts a couple of times; 7. Sourdough bread experimentation – another yeast related activity – I think will just stop there…

I carved out the time today to prepare. Most of the batch was going into two 6 Liter mini kegs, Iap-a-Draft to be exact and the remainder into 12 ounce bottles. As I usually do, I pulled a sample for checking the final gravity….I had no doubt that it was finished but….just checking. Damn – the hydrometer nearly floated out of the cylinder…..can’t be! How can it become more dense? It can’t – I pulled the hydrometer and the little foam pad was stuck to the bottom. Mystery solved. The chilled sample, 37 F, was 1.011 – plenty good to know that it was done fermenting. Final count, 2 – 6L bottles and 14- 12 ounce bottles.

The taste test from the gravity sample was very nice…..I shared a sip with Mrs. Yes Dear and she agreed. Looks to be a success. Now I need to be patient and let it condition….10 to 14 days ought to be sufficient. Normally, it is required to drink a homebrew while working on a batch, I failed to indulge. I have had a Bomber of Karbach Black Hopadillo IPA in the fridge for months now, just begging for my attention, so . Damn good! that is second use of the word Damn….I’m feeling a bit like Clark Gable!!!!!

What is the next project? My son Ben is wanting a “session IPA”, lower in ABV but still retaining great hops bitterness and aromas. There are some decent commercial offerings that he enjoys. The simple approach would be to find a clone recipe but I think not….I think I may be able to improve on the clone!!!!! Stay tuned…more coming.

The transfer is on...Sourdough starter in the left background.

The transfer is on…Sourdough starter in the left background. I love the carboy carrier straps…makes it easier and less likely to drop it.

My bottled beer and the two 6L Tap-a-Draft bottles.

My bottled beer and the two 6L Tap-a-Draft bottles.

The very nice Karbach Hoppadillo Black IPA. Nice way to end my task!

The very nice Karbach Hoppadillo Black IPA. Nice way to end my task!

Drink Local and Drink Responsible

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

Naked – Bonde Ale

Beer1Now that I have your attention let’s talk beer. I just received a note from WordPress identifying a new follower. He is brewing a Naked Blonde Ale with oats as an interesting add to the grain bill. I do need to brew a lighter and less hoppy beer for the bride so this looks like the recipe, besides, the kitchen floor looks like it needs to be to be mopped again so that is my cue card to make a mess and clean it up for my darling wife. Below is a link to the inspiration and recipe.
http://theapthomebrewer.com/2013/01/15/naked-blonde-ale-brew-day/comment-page-1/#comment-68
Hey guys, don’t get confused like I typically am. Yesterday my wife mentioned going out for lunch and a movie on Valentines Day. It sounded like the perfect solution so I agreed. I have been making some plans, went out and bought her a couple of bags of little Dove chocolates to fit into her pure…we are candy smugglers, for clandestine consumption in the theater. I shifted some of my errands around for the week and brought a hot lunch home for her today, Thursday, the day before our planned rendezvous! Yes, I was making major points! Then the problem……. just a moment ago she mentioned a glitch in my plans….she said, “You are working next week. We can’t go to movie and lunch for Valentine’s Day!”
I quickly replied , before engaging the brain, “Yes that’s right we are going tomorrow!”. All of a sudden it dawned on me…..I thought Valentine’s Day was tomorrow! I blame it on the retailers – they have had the displays out for weeks now. Just begging procrastinators like me to do the right thing and do it on time! I did and I planned a daytime event that could be fun……avoiding the crazy evening crowds! Yes, you da man! Bishop………I am just a full week early! Now….the dilemma. Stay tuned, I will see how I can manage this minor screw up.
Brew some beer and mop the floors – that may help!
Drink Local and Drink Responsibly
Bishop

http://www.homestoriesatoz.com/valentines/21-unique-valentines-day-gift-ideas-for-men.html

Raising The Bar With My Homebrewing

I have just moved my home brewing efforts up a new level. This now allows summer-time brewing as well as creating an opportunity to brew some lagers. Lagers must be lagered…..yes, I know that really doesn’t paint a clear picture. Lagers are typically fermented at temperatures much lower than “room” temperature and then once bottled/kegged lagered for several months, i.e., held at say 35 degrees F. I can’t do that in my dining room!

What, do you ask is needed to up the efforts? I have purchased a small used chest freezer and a Johnson Controls, A 419. digital temperature controller. The current batch of beer I have been brewing was transferred into my 6L mini Tap-a-Draft kegs yesterday. The conditioning phase requires that this Father’s Day Amber Ale condition for 7 days at a strict 68-70 degrees F and then at 55-65 for two weeks. I cannot afford to cool the house to those temperatures, after all this is summer in Houston.

I had been watching the local listings in the “Kingwood Yardsale” website for several weeks. Yesterday I found a working small chest freezer for $ 70.00. The next step is to buy and install a controller that will keep the freezer temperatures in the range I need for my purposes. The Johnston Controls controller has a very wide range that will more than adequately cover my needs.

Stable fermenting temperatures provide the best environment for the yeast to work its magic. The conditioning process is many times aided by a reduced temperature to allow the beer to best express its flavors. In the past I have used a big plastic tub filled with water in the corner of the dining room. My wife is both tolerant and patient with my hobby but I can now give her most of the dining room back…..it is still a bit of a home office for my consulting business.

The Controller set at 68 degrees F

The Controller set at 68 degrees F

The 3 six liter bottles. I added a lot of my glass bottled home brew to create some additional thermal mass to aid in managing temperature swings. I will also use this as my "cellar" after this current batch has conditioned. I added about 60 bottles of beer ....... Seems to be wrking pretty well.

The 3 six liter bottles. I added a lot of my glass bottled home brew to create some additional thermal mass to aid in managing temperature swings. I will also use this as my “cellar” after this current batch has conditioned. I added about 60 bottles of beer ……. Seems to be wrking pretty well.

Two of the 3 six liter bottles sitting in the freezer this AM.

Two of the 3 six liter bottles sitting in the freezer this AM.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly
Bishop

Long Hiatus is Over

I have been absent from my Beer Blogging duties for quite some time now. It is approaching a month that I have been quiet, at least quiet on the blogging side of my activities. If you visit my garden blog(http://bishopsbackyardfarm.com/2013/04/02/1665/) you will see that I have been active over there….strawberries have occupied most of the harvest efforts and then making strawberry jam……

That said,I think I see a strawberry blonde in my future. Tall, absolutely – a long neck, quite possibly, comfortable to hold, yes, intoxicating to the senses…..yes, but in moderation – you should never overdo a good thing….I will definitely have to ask my wife for permission…..How will that go over?

“Hey Hun, can I brew another beer?” I may be testing the boundaries here….I have a case and a half of Imperial Stout aging, a case of Pumpkin Ale – just a one at a time kind of beer, 6 liters of a honey blonde in my mini keg and about two cases of a session ale that is now drinkable and…..Sunday  I am splitting a batch of a Raspberry Wheat Ale with home brewer Mike, “kinda” like an Abita Purple Haze, about 9 L is my share! I think I need to have a party to reduce the inventory before I get an affirmative answer for my efforts!

Young Ryan(over 21) has asked for a lesson in crafting beer. Maybe I can work out a deal and kill two birds with one stone here. Hopefully this will work for all involved. Hope he and his crowd of friends will cotton to a Strawberry Blonde Ale.

Talking about craft beers! Read the article in the attached link. The craft beer wave continues to grow. A quote, a rather long one from the article linked below;

“Craft brewing continues to surge, producing 15% more beer and $1.5 billion more sales.

Craft brewing is clearly outpacing the rest of the beer market, producing 15 percent more beer in 2012 than the year before while the total U.S. beer market grew by only 1 percent, according to the annual report released today by the Brewers Association.

In total, craft brewers produced 13.2 million barrels in 2012, a 1.8 million barrel increase from 2011.

Craft breweries now make up 6.5 percent volume of the total beer market, up from 5.7 percent the year before. And craft beer also makes up 10.2 percent of the total U.S. beer market for a total of $10.2 billion in sales, up from $8.7 billion in 2011 or a 17 percent increase.”

I subscribe to this blog and always learn a little! Check it out!

http://craftbrew.cirqlemedia.com/craft-brew-continues-to-surge/

Remember

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

TTFN

Bishop