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


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!



Drink Local and Drink Responsibly



Beer Thirty

The thirty I refer to is not a place on the clock, it is a reference to 30 years married to my best friend and wife Kathy as of yesterday – 10/2/1982-10/2/2012. Yes, beer was part of the celebratory events! I asked Kathy to trust me and take a ride down town around 2:00 PM. Good sport that she is, she trusted me! Headed south on Highway 59, exited at Collingsworth, drove about a mile and half on the access road to Lyons Ave. Turned right and she became very curious….a bit of blight was visible…beat up, old and abandoned buildings, industrial weed growth everywhere… The road took a jog and around the bend and then she spotted the destination, Saint Arnold’s Brewery! Now, before you think I am totally low brow, we returned home, gussied up and had a nice dinner that evening at a nice Italian Ristorante!

I have been wanting to see the St. Arnold’s brewery and beer hall for a long time. They make some very nice craft beers, in fact they call themselves the “oldest craft brewery in Texas”. I can’t and won’t dispute the claim….it’s not really that important. Kathy has been primarily a beer drinker ever since she turned – ahem! – 21! The photo below was cropped from a pre-ceremony wedding picture 30 years ago – just her hands holding a can of Coors Light. It may have been a little liquid courage to go through with the ceremony.

Grainy shot holding a cold Coors Light.

In my haste to get out the door and surprise Kathy – I forgot to bring a real camera, I did have my iPhone so we did chronicle the visit. I also forgot to have us wear closed toe shoes….safety requirement to participate in the downstairs portion of the tour.



Santos, a black Kölsch style beer – still too malty for Kathy’s palate. I liked it!

Our next choices in the cute little 10 ounce or so glasses were – the Amber for Kathy and the Endeavour for me. The Amber was easy on Kath’s palate so now we have something more to broaden our beer style horizons. The Endeavour is a Double IPA – way too hoppy for Kathy but the flavors made me very hoppy….ok, I know a little over the top in description. I liked it a bunch!

Kathy enjoying one of the samplings.

Kathy tried the Brown next and I think she was surprised at how nice it was! She finished with the Fancy Lawnmower which is a true German Kölsch style beer. I had to use two chips to get the Endeavour so I was limited to three small beers….. my last chip was for their standard IPA – The Elissa – less “amped” up on hops as compared to the Endeavour but I liked it!

My lovely wife Kathy up at the counter… Happy 30th Hun!


I encourage all y’all to drink local! We met a young couple in town from PA for some meetings. They work for EOG Resources and follow the “drink local” creed. On top of that the young lady also homebrews!!!!! Wow.








Brisket and Stout – Better Than a Sleeping Pill

Stout and Brisket - Should Be Goo

Woke up around 2:30 AM this morning, tossed around for a while and finally decided I would get up and try to get some things accomplished. I looked online and saw that my local Starbucks wasn’t open until 5:30…..I could have gone up to the front of Kingwood – that store opens 30 minutes earlier….. Chose to wait and ride the bicycle down to my local Starbucks hang out.

My restless night was partially due to the procedure done on my right ear yesterday… they poke a needle hole in the tympanic membrane and inject a warm steroid solution into the ear. After three daily treatments the hearing issues (lack of) and vertigo may subside or go away. The vertigo increased overnight and the hearing is so bad I can’t tell if it is getting better. The tinnitus ringing in the ear was over the top last night… so it was a sleepless night…not “Sleepless in Seattle” – I think that was a chick flick, it was sleepless in Kingwood.

So, what does this have to do with a beer blog – well let me fill you in. I decided that some good Texas comfort food – Brisket!, a bottle of my oh so good Imperial Stout……. it just seems to get better and better as it sits, some nice fresh gazpacho – fresh from the garden and local CSA pick-up and dinner with my wife and daughters would be a nice precursor to a full belly and the sedation from an 11% stout! – it just may help me sleep.

I think I will sleep very well tonight. The stout is so smooth…almost silky on the tongue and a mix of “chocolaty” and a hint of licorice flavors is very nice….the beer  adds to my vertigo – I am almost ready to go sideways as I type. My third inner ear injection is tomorrow and hopefully I will see some improvement!

More Beer stuff. Need to pass along some pats on the back to some beer supply folks. A couple of weeks ago I ordered some imprinted bottle caps. Well, they have not arrived so I sent a note off to the contact email address asking for an expected delivery date. I received a great reply, after hours and not from some overseas call center….. Mr. J Cameron Cooper, Manager of BottleMark LLC, http://www.bottlemark.com/ , sent a great note back explaining  their production issues/problems….. I told him no problem that I could wait –  but he fired off a note back to me saying they will try to get my order out for my next bottling….. this is real customer service…. if you need printed caps – give BottleMark LLC your business. I am impressed!

Oh yeah, back to the brisket,…. 10 hours in the smoker – the brisket turned out awesome…. And yes…..I am fading …. I think I will have to pass on watching “Dancing with the Stars” tonight. Sorry hun!Mmmmmmm good brisket – goes well with the Stout.

Mmmmmmm good brisket - goes well with the Stout

An update… I was fading for sure – the post to the blog also went sideways so I am trying to salvage my thoughts – so few and so fart ( as I proofread I saw the word fart…not intended between them! – I am trying again. I did sleep very well – until about 5;20, then rode the bicycle down to my Starbucks office to finish things up.

Dear Melissa, the vertigo just makes riding the bicycle a small challenge in the bigger scheme of things. I love the challenge. When it gets bad enough that I have to lay down to put my underwear on I will forego the morning rides…..



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?