30 November 2005

Reality Sets In

While speaking with my brewing partner about kegging and planning our next brews, he told me he didn't want to do this every weekend. He has a hundred other hobbies, literally. He says he ADD: he moves from one thing to another. I've come to realize that while I have a hundred other hobbies, literally, I'm more obsessive/compulsive about it: I focus on one hobby at a time then I move on to the next one for a while. I forget that others aren't as interested as I in my hobbies.

So our brewing will now be at his schedule. He's offered the use of his place anytime I want, which I appreciate, but I will never take up him up on the offer. It's his property, his shed, his house, yada yada yada.

I may, however, resume brewing at home. I can do smaller batches on my schedule. At least until I lose focus and move on to whatever's new.


posted by Jeff Holt at 19:15 0 comments links to this post

28 November 2005

Christmas/Holiday Beer

The fine folks at Honey Creek Brewery (that would be me and my brewing partner) sampled their latest offering.

If I may refresh your memories, we brewed this beer in October. When we bottled half of the batch, we didn't have enough corn sugar. We kegged the other half.

My brewing partner and I sampled the kegged beer yesterday. The color was black, and there was a thick, foamy head. There was a hint of cardemom, or spiciness in the aroma. There was more bite to it than just a hoppy after taste, which I attribute to the cardemom. We were both impressed and intend to brew this beer regularly.

Until tonight.

I sampled one of the 1 liter bottles. These were severly under-carbonated. The beer was similar to the one I had last night. But it was flat. It was good! But flat.


posted by Jeff Holt at 20:16 0 comments links to this post

26 November 2005

Evolution Amber Ale

Wasach Brewery's Evolution Amber Ale

As a general rule, I don't think beers should have overly humourous names and labels. Just call it "Amber Ale" or "Hefeweisen" or whatever. In this case, I have to admire the guys over at Wasach Brewery in Utah. in response to the ongoing attempt to get Intelligent Design, and therefore religion, in Public Schools.


posted by Jeff Holt at 08:08 0 comments links to this post

24 November 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

As I recover from too much beer and far too much turkey, I will be pondering the question: Why homebrew? It's so much work. It costs so much in equipment. You have to wait so long to get the finished product. And so on and so on. On the other hand it's cheaper than buying commercial beer.

Let's dispense with the last thing first. I purchased a 6-pack of Abita Turbo Dog last night for consumption on Thanksgiving Day. It cost $5.98 at my local liquor store. That's about a buck a bottle. An extract beer kit costs about $34. While most homebrewing books will tell you a five gallon batch with get you two cases of beer. In my experience, it's not that good. (Although I am willing to entertain the suggestion that my experience might be the problem!) I usually get 44-46 bottles. Almost 2 cases to be sure. That's about $.75 a bottle. Not a huge savings, but not too shabby. But if i want cheap beer, I can by a 30 pack of Miller High Life for around $18, which yeilds $.60 a can. And if I want till it's on sale. . .

I don't brew to save money. Never have. If I was concerned about price, I wouldn't have spent $300 on a kettle. That made my first batch about $7 a bottle!

I brew for the taste. Every once in a while, I enjoy a Bud. Or a Lone Star. Mostly, Shiner Bock, though. But sometimes, a nice Guinness is appropriate. Or a brown ale. Or an IPA. And what about sour mash beers? Bourbon stouts? For those, I gotta home brew.


posted by Jeff Holt at 20:42 0 comments links to this post

22 November 2005

1958 Lone Star Brewery Tour

Over at TexasBreweries.com, I just posted a 6 page tour of the Lone Star Brewery as it was in 1958. I found the tour in the March 1958 issue of Bru-it, a magazine for Brewery employees and distributors.

I have about 10 years worth of these little magazines. A lot of the stories are PR pieces about the Lone Star Brewery in San Antonio, or its employees, or its distributors. There are a couple of stories about the history of beer, about the brewing process, and other odds and ends. I need to catalog them, but I will eventually add more stuff to the Texas Breweries website where applicable.


posted by Jeff Holt at 09:48 1 comments links to this post

20 November 2005

The Portable Beer Cooler

Ready to party!

I finally found my Camel 6-pack quiver. It holds 6 regular cans of beer, and 5 Silver Bullets. When I was working for the cigarette company back in the 90s, shortly after the premuim was put in the stores, Willie Nelson had one of his 4th of July picnics in Zilker Park. While driving down Lamar Blvd near Riverside drive, I spotted dozens of these slung over the backs of the concert goers. It's on of the most practical items RJR put out, and I still have three or for of them today.

Since I was feeling playful, I loaded a hops belt holster, a hops shoulder holster, a beer neck and a Camel quiver onto the guy modeling the Oktoberfest skirt. (Click on the traditional link on the left.) This guy is ready to par-tay!


posted by Jeff Holt at 09:21 0 comments links to this post

18 November 2005

Ancient Brewery served 64 oz Brews

A mountaintop brewery in South America, built by the Wari empire, precursor to the Inca Empire, around 600 A.D., has been discovered. According to archaeologists, wealthy, beautiful maidens brewed beer for extravagant parties, serving their beer in 64-ounce cups until the final blow out, where the patrons destroyed the brewer in 1000 A.D.

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Link 4


posted by Jeff Holt at 07:06 0 comments links to this post

16 November 2005

Double header report

We racked our double header beers to secondary Monday night. The stout was smooth and mild, the Cream Ale that wasn't contaminated was smooth. The "Airmpit" version, though, did have some off flavors. But that was expected due to the problems we had.

Beer Original Gravity Final Gravity % alcohol
Oak Barrel Stout 1043 1012 3.18
AHS Cream Ale 1055 1012 4.42

posted by Jeff Holt at 06:49 0 comments links to this post

14 November 2005

Shiner 96 Presentation Box

Shiner 96 Presentation Box

I managed to get my hands on a Shiner 96 Presentation Set. Inside the wooden box, are a bottle of the beer, a mini poster, a brewery key, and a booklet explaining the reason for the beer.


posted by Jeff Holt at 10:44 0 comments links to this post

12 November 2005

Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

The last brew session at Honey Creek Brewery was a bit of a bitch. We tried to do two recipes, one after the other. We had a couple of train wrecks. Combine that with our corn sugar fiasco (I should have boiled 2/3 cups regular sugar in a cup of water, instead of improvising with corn syrup), we decided we needed a checklist.

I have created a PDF file that should accomplish this. I did not create the first page in the file. That was stolen/borrowed from The Brewer's Companion. Click on the "Beer Books" icon on the right and do a search. The checklist, though, is mine.


posted by Jeff Holt at 20:12 0 comments links to this post

10 November 2005

Colonial Small Beer

Table (or common) beers throughout the colonial period were low in alcohol and lightly hopped. Called Small Beers, they served as a form of nourishment and at the same time made the water used in preparing the beer "safe" for drinking. Recipes were often corrupted, based upon what the settlers had available for brewing. molasses and other fermentables frequently substituted for malt.

3 lb light malt extract
1 lb molasses
1 1/2 oz Northern Brewer hops
Ale yeast

Add 1 gallon of warm water to brewpot. Pour in malt extract and molasses, stirring until dissolved. Add water to usual brewing depth. Bring to a boil, add hops and continue boiling for a total of 60 minutes. Cool wort and add water as necessary to make 5 gallons. Ferment with ale yeats at 68°. Prime and bottle, or keg, in the usual manner.

This recipe was in Zymurgy Vol 23 #5, Sept/Oct 2000, page 24. I would, in a heartbeat, link to an authorized online recipe, but there isn't one available.

I brewed this in 2000. It was nice little beer. I want to brew it again.


posted by Jeff Holt at 19:55 1 comments links to this post

08 November 2005

Beer Hops Inhibit Tumor Growth! But not American Beer!

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that a molecule that comes from the hop cone, xanthohumol, that prevents the formation of cancer producing enzymes. "Most beers made today are low on hops, however, and so don't contain much xanthohumol. But beers such as porter, stout and ales have much higher levels of the compound," the story says.

Stories like this make me glad I'm a hophead.


posted by Jeff Holt at 06:22 2 comments links to this post

06 November 2005

Austin Homebrew Cream Ale

Part of double brew Friday at Honey Creek brewery, the cream ale presented us with some challenges. After we boiled, and put in the fermenter, my brewing partner noticed one of our fermenters was leaking from the spigot. We didn't have another fermenter clean, so he reached into the beer and tried to tighten the nut. It didn't help, so we grabbed a clean, but unsnitized, carboy and put the beer in there. Folks, this one is gonna sting!

The beer wound up with an OG of 1055.


posted by Jeff Holt at 07:15 0 comments links to this post

05 November 2005

Bourbon Stout

Back in September 2001, I visited my family in Washington DC. One day, my uncle and I went to the Old Dominion Brew Pub near Dulles Airport. My uncle had saved me an article about their beers and I was particularly eager to try their Oak Barrel Stout. It was delicious! The beer was silky smooth with a hint of bourbon in the finish.

I knew I would never be able to age the beer in oak barrels to get that bourbon finish, so I ordered three pints and drank them very slowly!

Last week, in my AHA newsletter, there was this entry:

From: Marc Chaton >>> Maybe I could soak some oak chips in bourbon and then put into a secondary. Not a bad idea, really.<<< A great idea. I made a "Bourbon Barrel" stout by soaking 4 oz. of American Oak Chips in 8 oz. of Bourbon for a few days, then adding it to the secondary. The Bourbon flavor will start out fairly strong and mellow with time. Pete Clouston Lawrence Brewers Guild http://www.lawrencebrewers.org

As I mentioned yesterday, we ordered a Guinness Extra Stout kit from Austin homebrew Supply, and 4 ounces of American Oak Chips. When we started the boil, we put the oak chips into a clean airtight container, and adding bourbon. Next week, we will transfer the stout to secondary, and add the oak chips.

Here are the stats: OG=1043. Target OG was 1045.


posted by Jeff Holt at 07:46 0 comments links to this post

04 November 2005

This is too much like work!

I just returned home from Honey Creek Brewery after an all day brewing session. My brewing partner, in return for brewing lessons, bought to kits from Austin Homebrew Supply; a Guinness Extra Stout Kit, and a Cream Ale kit. He also purchased some American Oak chips. These are to be soaked in bourbon to make a bourbon stout. I'll post about that tomorrow.

Since I had the day off, I asked if he wanted to brew today. He said yes, and suggested we could brew both kits.

After the first batch and midway through the second, I complained that I was losing my focus. I opined that in the future we might stick to one kit per session, or, we could purchase another kettle and burner and do them at the same time. He said, "It's like serving two sentences concurrently or consecutively." I thought that summed up my feelings perfectly.

We both agreed to one kit at a time in the future.

Oh, my feet hurt.


posted by Jeff Holt at 20:09 0 comments links to this post

02 November 2005

Canadians Can Always Find Beer

A news report on the CANOE website announced Canadian security trial that was a resounding success.

In the interest of accuracy, I am reprinting the story here:

October 27, 2005
Military research technology group hails marine security trial as success By JOHN LEWANDOWSKI
DARTMOUTH, N.S. (CP) - If anyone can find a beer barrel in the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, Canadians can.
A Canadian-led marine surveillance experiment that involved tracking a metal cask from Liverpool, England, to it's intended drop off point in Nova Scotia's Chedabucto Bay as part of a security exercise, is being called a success.
Using a diverse array of satellite, sonar, radar, unmanned aerial surveillance and stealth buoys, researchers were able to track the pretend contraband and eventually seize it as it was transferred between four vessels.
"The object of the exercise was to collect data from different sensors on a common incursion scenario into the Maritimes," said navy Cmdr. Anthony Cond, project co-ordinator for the $3.5-million Maritime Sensor Integration Experiment.
"Following it was the hardest part, especially when it's far out to sea. We want to be able to find out where these vessels are and watch them before they enter Canadian waters," Cond said at a news conference Thursday.
Cond said that in a post 9-11 world, knowing what's happening off Canada's coasts 24 hours a day is critical to marine security.
In the trial, a barrel was placed on a container ship and then dumped on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, where it was retrieved by a fishing trawler.
From there it was taken to Nova Scotia and transferred to a smaller vessel which was then boarded by police who seized it.
An array of equipment was brought into play, including land, sea and air-sensing technology that allowed trackers to know where the barrel was virtually every second it was at sea.
They used the Canadian-built Stealth Buoy, which is designed to lay quietly on the ocean floor until it rises in response to propeller noise and transmits the target's location. The Silver Fox unmanned drone, which looks like a large toy plane packed with video equipment, was also deployed from land, cruising about 300 metres above Chedabucto Bay.
"We provided a live video feed to HMCS Toronto and the RCMP so they could see what was happening on the target vessel," said Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Walton of the Maritime Warfare Centre.
"No one on board would have seen it because the normal ship's running noise would have masked the sound of the (drone) and unless they knew where to look they wouldn't have seen it."
Researchers will now take the next several months to examine the data and try to refine the use of the technology.
Several departments and agencies, including the Canadian Forces, RCMP, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Transport, Environment Canada and the coast guard could all benefit, said participants.
Much of what they find will also be shared with other countries, such as the United States and Britain.

I think the first paragraph says it all.


posted by Jeff Holt at 07:54 0 comments links to this post