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 am brewing beer for my wife again. The time has come and the last two bottles of the Wit Bier that I brewed for her are chilled and begging to be consumed. It is an all grain recipe with one key difference from a standard Wit Bier, she doesn’t like the flavor of the coriander seeds in most Wit Biers. The flavorings are just confined to the zests of grapefruit, lemon and an orange. Potential variations suggested for a future match will be to use the zest of 6 blood oranges. They are a seasonal thing…..usually early winter into spring.
I have the 5.5 gallon batch in the primary fermenter and it is bubbling away nicely. It was brewed a couple of days ago in conjunction with extracting 65 pounds of honey…..yep, honey. Once the honey was in the bucket the prep work started for the beer….clean the equipment and have everything laid out and ready.
Today, I am taking the grains and making a spent grain loaf of sourdough bread. I will freeze a bunch and take the remaining grains over to my apiary location where the property owner has chickens. When they see me coming they come running to greet me.
I have 5 apiary locations all within about 20 miles of each and the variation in color and flavor is significant. One location has a darker color and according to my wife, a sweeter flavor. In the planning process is a honey blonde ale……the question is, which honey to use???
While writing this post my ADHD kicked in and I had to check out honey blonde ale recipes. The honey is a fermentable sugar and actually ferments out without leaving honey notes. Using honey in the wort would also drive off the aroma of the honey……that said, I found a recipe where the honey is added after primary fermentation has slowed. The brewers follow up notes on tasting the beer were pretty positive, not much in the way of honey aroma in the beer but it did come through while drinking the beer. The brewer also suggested some hopping variations……it is now on my list. I will keep y’all posted on the progress.
I have started a dialog with the owner of my brewing supply store. Heis the guy who convinced me to make a “bochet” with a 6 pound jar of honey that I warmed up a bit too much. Fortunately it caramelized rather than scorched. From 1393 – an archaic and delightful description of my intended effort.
“BOUCHET. To make six sesters of bouchet, take six pints of fine sweet honey, and put it in a cauldron on the fire and boil it, and stir continually until it starts to grow, and you see that it is producing bubbles like small globules which burst, and as they burst emit a little smoke which is sort of dark: and then stir, and then add seven sixths of water and boil until it reduces to six sixths again, and keep stirring. And then put it in a tub to cool until it is just warm; and then strain it through a cloth bag, and then put it in a cask and add one chopine (half-litre) of beer-yeast, for it is this which makes it the most piquant, (and if you use bread yeast, however much you like the taste, the colour will be insipid), and cover it well and warmly to work. And if you want to make it very good, add an ounce of ginger, long pepper, grains of Paradise and cloves in equal amounts, except for the cloves of which there should be less, and put them in a cloth bag and throw in. And after two or three days, if the bouchet smells spicy enough and is strong enough, take out the spice-bag and squeeze it and put it in the next barrel you make. And thus you will be able to use these same spices three or four times.” -Le Menagier de Paris, France, 1393”
It has been in the fermenter for almost a week now. One more week and it should be done. I brewed this all grain beer on one of the many crappy wether days that have been far too abundant over the last few months. Not horribly cold, but very wet. How wet? Nearly 20 inches over the past several months. Not any gully washer rains, but far too many wet days.
Let’s talk beer and brewing. My SMaSH IPA, made with Mosaic hops and Marris Otter malt, is conditioning in the bottle as I Wait! Sometimes waiting is difficult. I now wanted to brew a beer that would match something that my wife would like! Brewing is good for her in that I manage to mop some and sometimes all of the kitchen floor during the beer making machinations. I found a very interesting Vanilla Cream Ale recipe and sent it over to Preston at the Grain Cellar in Humble, Texas. FYI, for non Texans, the “H” is silent in Humble. By the time I had arrived, Preston had reviewed the recipe and noted that he’d had all the ingredients on hand that I needed.
As I visited with Preston, I notice on the chalkboard was listed a beer callled, Wife’s Wit. Well, I cancelled picking up the Cream Ale ingredients and went with the Wit. Preston tells me it is very popular and one of his most frequently brewed beers. I liked the grain bill and the additions, excepting the coriander!
The citrus added an amazing aroma. The lemon was off of my backyard Meyer Lemon tree. The grapefruit off of a tree in a yard where I keep a number of hives. The grapefruit came off of a tree visited by my bees kept on the property. The orange, sad to say, was a store bought blood orange.
Brewing day always calls for savoring some excellent beverages. First up……..
To the best of my knowledge I have never partaken in Strain G13, nor have I ever sampled this IPA.
Although not winterish in Houston, I did go with a winter beer as the grains steeped.
This is a familiar Ale, I last had one this past October while visiting Portland.
Lastly, before all the work of boiling, chilling and racking into the fermenter, I enjoyed a non beer beverage.
2.65 fingers of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. In the background is tire with a little sleigh attached. In December my daughter drug it 13.6 miles, a half marathon, just because!!!
After 14 days fermenting I will bottle this brew and then wait another 30 as it conditions….that will test my patience!
Yes it is. The ribs are in the smoker and 4 homegrown Poblano peppers are on the top rack. I am giving the peppers a 30-45 minute dose of apple and pecan wood smoke preparing them for a batch of Smoked Poblano pepper jelly.
Skin is beginning to crinkle as they suck up the smoke. I am biding my time waiting on smoked pepper perfection- we’ll, maybe not perfection but “excellence” is a better term, before pulling the peppers. To aid in the wait, a Pete’s dark roast and an Odell’s India Pale Ale – yes both!
Not sure life can’t get much better than this! (FYI- that is an untruth but I was lulled into a cliche statement!)
The ribs will take a lot longer than the peppers to finish up. Thus, a few more ales to aid in the process and maybe another coffee or two to prevent too much cloudy judgement.
I am saving one of my SMaSH IPAs for dinner time to go along with the ribs and some all beef franks, special request from my daughter in law.
Just gotta love 90+ degrees and 75% humidity here in Houston! The beer helps but the coffee works against the body in regulating core body temperature! Ok, Bishop, you convinced me, no more coffee – just cool clear water ( converted in to beer)!
I just finished a Red IPA from Sierra Nevada and pulled the peppers off. Peppers are in a bag for a little more humidity…… LOL. Makes it easier to skin them prior to jelly making!
Now I have a tough decision, our guests are pushing back arrival time so, I may need to lighten up and slow the ribs down.
Next morning now-
Blogging was interrupted by the arriving guests. I am back home now after picking wild dewberries and checking on some of my bees.
Ribs were a big hit as well as the dogs! My wife made a very simple beer based margarita that was also a hit. I had to dig into my special stash while she and one of our neighbors enjoyed their “beer-Rita!”
One can of frozen limeade
One limeade can of tequila
One limeade can of Sprite or Sprite Zero
One bottle of Corona
Mix in a pitcher and pour over ice. Squeeze a lime into the glass and enjoy. It was very refreshing, after she finally decided to share one with me….. there is much more to the back story but I will let it be!
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.
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,
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.
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.
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!
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.)
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. 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.
The very nice Karbach Hoppadillo Black IPA. Nice way to end my task!
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.
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?
Now 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
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 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.