Busy Brewing Day

The day was much too busy and much of it was my own doing. The Imperial Stout was a partial mash effort so there was that element of an extra step in the process – not much in the way of work, just time, patience and monitoring. I had trotted off to the store a few hours earlier and my ambitious nature kicked in – I decided to buy a brisket to smoke while the beer was brewing. A perfect excuse for another beer while heating up the  backyard.

All was going smooth until transferring the mash liquor from the kettle to the boiling pot. The bottom of the bag holding the crushed grain busted open. I sent quite a bit of the spent grain over into the boiling pot. I tried fishing out the grains and realized(American spelling) that I was not going to recover mare than about 70% of the grain. Ok, now lets hunt for my wire sieve. I couldn’t find it last time I looked for it so why would I think it would be different this time? “Call a friend” – and yes she had the answer to the question. I enlisted the help of my 17-year-old son…..giving him a start on a skill set that could make him a popular guy in college a few years down the road. (he has to wait until 21 to practice the trade)

I am a busy dude! Keep feeding the wood chips to the smoker, keep an eye on the brew pot, watch the timer for the hops additions, be ready to stir down the potential boil over when adding the hops and keep adding chips to the smoker….oh yes, try a new craft beer! I bought this new one more as a test for my wife. It is called Citra Blonde from Widmer Brothers in Portland Oregon. She did like it and I was pleasantly surprised!  I recently fell in love, a beer this time, with another Widmer beer, Rotator IPA – an ongoing changing recipe. Great concept! A bit like the Yazoo Brewery’s Hop Project!

Beer | Widmer Brothers Brewing  Take a look – first class website and a great overview of how to brew!

It was well after my planned finish time before I pulled the brisket, cooled the beer & pitched the yeast, cleaned the pots, sequestered the fermenter in a cool dark spot and sat down for a brief respite. this looks to be a stout stout….starting gravity of 1.093! I sampled the sweet wort after checking the gravity and the flavors a very interesting even at this early stage of the process. Aroma is nice – if it mellows/matures as I expect, it should be an awesome beer. I am still deciding what to do after transferring to the secondary……coffee – maybe, oak – that is a possibility and maybe oak that has been soaked in a decent bourbon, chocolate – hmmmm maybe not. I have 8 or 10 days to decide. Maybe I run a poll!

Poll Daddy Poll

Sitting back in the shade on the patio – the beer is boiling, the brisket is smoking and a cold beer in my hand.

The brisket – smoked for 7 hours. The thick end was cut off, wrapped tight in foil smothered with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and 10 hours in the oven at 200 F.

That dark crust, enhanced with oak chipped from Jack Daniels bourbon barrels – the bourbon flavor/aroma was not noticeable in the meat but the smoke off of the smoker was pretty yummy! The brisket just fell apart….




Fishing and Beer

Friday night this past week we invited our best friends, Bev and John and their newly employed son Ryan over for fish tacos….from the Spanish mackerel caught earlier in the week. My son Ben caught the fish, prepared the fish and the prep for frying them up was all his doing! He did well! I also contributed my Flounder to the mix and wrapped it in foil butter and secret seasonings – done up on the grill.

The beer component – a Newcastle mini-keg, Lazy Magnolia Pecan Brown, Yazoo Hop Project, Bombshell Blonde, Pinebelt Ale, few that were lingering in the back of the fridge and young Ryan – the newly employed Ryan brought over a some offerings from Southern Star – a seasonal that was very good…more on that later.

The fish tacos were superb! The company and fellowship were superb! It was too friggin hot to be outside very long……We fried the fish outside on my beer boiling and turkey frying burner…..last batch of fish the gas ran out…the back-up bottle was empty but I saved the day with my single burner camp stove….not real stable with a big pan of hot oil on it but we finished it off and secured the hot oil without incident. We also celebrated Sierra’s birthday. Ben claims she turned two on or about this day…see photo below.

The Livezeys rolled off to the house about 10 ish and I wasn’t far behind. Ben had planned another kayak trip for dark thirty Saturday morning….It turned out to be an interesting trip. The weather report did not indicate much wind but the surf was up, choppy and muddy brown…What the heck….I was first out. Wow! It was a challenge to bust out through the breakers – several  pounded down on the deck and filled the cockpit. Fortunately my kayaks are sit on tops and self draining. I was committed – there was no way to turn around and abandon this folly now. It kept pounding and pounding and pounding and finally 250 – 300 yds out the waves stopped breaking. The swells were 3-4 feet and it was work to fish and keep the bow into the waves. Fishing was bad.

The return trip was going to be a bigger thrill. I was oblivious to the wind and drift. Finally we need to head to shore and I was lost. Ben pointed out the launch point…..probably a good 2 miles against the wind and subject to the big rollers coming through. It was a workout. We discussed how to secure all loose items and then Ben went first – I was sitting 200 yards out and catching a glimpse of the rhythmic dipping  of the oars into the water then nothing! I looked for a couple of minutes and then finally saw him struggling in surf with the orange kayak. It took him a while but I finally saw him drag it up on the beach. Now it was my turn.

I caught a few of the rollers coming in, you could feel the acceleration but also the power. I would attempt to steer and was doing a decent job until……a big one lifted me up…..My kayaks are not designed for the surf…..no rocker. They are 14 feet long and my previous experience with the kayak showed a tendency to bury the nose in the surf. In the past, leaning back, steering hard and being patient was enough. Not today, the nose buried itself deeply and veered right, I steered hard left and leaned and leaned and just when I thought I was going to stay up right…..over I went.

I had asked Ben to video my attempt because I knew it would be a source of amusement. He later told my that it happened too quickly and it was not recorded…… I would love to post it here but all you have is my poor attempt to describe it. I hope you laugh at me just the same.

We fish a little more on the Bay side, caught a few undersized Redfish and fought the wind again. We were tired puppies coming home. At home I popped the top on a Southern Star Seasonal, sighed, enjoyed the great taste and also savored the adventure and great day out with my son!

Fish fryer Ben and his birthday girl Sierra. Happy 2nd birthday!

TTFN – Drink Local!