30 June 2008

Upcoming Competitions

August 2 - Lunar Rendezbrew XV - Entry Deadline July 12

August 15-16 - Alamo City Cerveza Fest - Entry deadline July 26

August 25 - The Limbo Challenge - Entry Deadline August 3

September 19-20 - The Cactus Challenge - Entry Deadline August 20

October 17-18 - The Dixie Cup - Entry Deadline September 28 (?)

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:10 0 comments links to this post

28 June 2008

Fermenter Closed for the Summer

As much as I would love to dive back into brewing after coming back from NHC, it's just too darned hot to ferment anything. So I won't be brewing until it gets cooler. In Texas, that's probably December.

I am, meanwhile, thinking about upcoming brews, and the upcoming contests.

I bottled two six-packs of Kiwit in anticipation of Lunar Rendezbrew and the Limbo Challenge. I will be entering them in the Belgian wit category. I won't be entering the latest version of peppercorn rye-bock in a contest. It didn't turn out well enough. Should I have enough brown ale after our upcoming reunion, I will submit that.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:57 0 comments links to this post

26 June 2008

Ain't it The Truth?

Catching up after NHC.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 15:25 0 comments links to this post

24 June 2008

NHC Wrap UP

Having come out from under the Cone of Silence, It's time to wrap up my NHC trip, or, as Satan and I called it, The 2008 Mission from God.

We skipped the Saturday morning sessions at NHC and drove down to the river and Newport Kentucky. After shopping at the Mall, we headed over to Hofbrauhaus.

It was a couple of minutes before 11 am, and we walked into the lobby and were deciding whether to buy a liter stein or a Stiefel, and the hostess informed us we could sit in the biergarten or we could wait for two minutes. For some reason, we chose the biergarten. Then menu in the biergarten is different than in the dining room. So instead of schnitzel, I had sausage.

We had a German Pilsner and it was excellent. It went well with the brats. Our server was attentive. How could he not be? We were the only ones in the biergarten. Everyone else decided to sit inside!

We left Cincy on Sunday and drove to St. Louis where we had lunch at Square One Brewing Company. Square One is located in a cool little, St. Louis neighborhood with a lot of brick buildings. You can tell a lot of money has been spent to revitalize the area and it has paid off.

We arrived at about 1 pm on a drizzly Sunday afternoon. We spotted a few people in the courtyard and decided to risk the rain. I ordered a pulled pork BBQ sandwich and the wheat ale. Both were excellent! I would have liked to try the Festival Lager, but they were sold out. Our waitress knew her beers and was very prompt.

And, finally, this place has the best smelling bathroom in the world! It smells like BBQ smoke.

Our next stop was Springfield Brewing Company in Springfield, Missouri. We arrived between the lunch and dinner rushes. The restaurant is in an older neighborhood downtown apparently near the college. There is an upstairs area with pool tables and a downstairs dining area. Antique beer signs and ads decorate the walls brick walls.

I ordered fish and chips and a wheat beer. The beer was crisp and clean. The fish and chips arrived and the portion was huge: three big fillets and a basket of seasoned waffle fries. The fish was excellent, but maybe there was a bit too much. I only ate a couple of fries.

It's a very comfortable place, and hope to return someday.

We spent Sunday night in Joplin, and head to Oklahoma City's Bricktown Brewing Company. We arrived a little before one in the afternoon. The crowd was surprisingly light. Bricktown is the old industrial district in downtown OKC. I almost overdosed on brick buildings. It's a great area of town, and is probably packed on weekends.

We sat in the bar area and had the sampler. The copperhead ale was the best of the bunch. The porter had some butterscotch flavor in it. The copperhead was clean and refreshing.

I ordered the BBQ stuffed potato and was amazed at the size of the thing. It was huge. The potato had been cut open, and filled with pulled pork with a small amount of sauce. It would have been better with a bit more sauce, but it was still very good.

This is a great place. I look forward to visiting again.

We arrived at Satan's parents' home about 8 pm. I finally got home at 11 am and began to unpack. We brought home a lot of beer, and a lot of pint glasses.

The encore? Oakland. The 2009 Mission from God.

Heaven help me.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 15:11 0 comments links to this post

20 June 2008

NHC Day Two

We actually made a couple of seminars today: One on homebrewing from an English perspective, and one on mead. Satan and I want to branch out a little. We had lunch at Skyline Chili. Cincinnati chili is made with cinnamon and cocoa, served over spaghetti and under a huge mound of cheese. It is thin, though, and by the time we finished, my shirt looked like I had bludgeoned a small animal to death.

Club night is always the highlight of the conference. There were over twenty clubs and they served about 200 different beers. Some were good, some (the green chili wheat) were interesting, and some were undrinkable, but it was a lot of fun.

I must confess that I am getting a little tired of beer, though. Don't tell anyone.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 23:21 0 comments links to this post

19 June 2008

NHC Day One

I had intended to attend two sessions today, but we found the hospitality room.

Then at four, we went back to the motel room for a nap. We went back to at eight for pro night. What a crowd and what a line up of brewers! We were good, and didn't drink ourselves stupid. We stopped at a McDonalds before returning to the room for the night.

I did, however, spot this Flintstones-type car out side and had to take a photo:

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posted by Jeff Holt at 22:00 0 comments links to this post

18 June 2008

Makers Mark, New Albanian and Bluegrass Brewing

I have to say that I prefer the tour guides at Makers Mark to the Jack Daniels Tour guides. Tommy, in Lynchburg, was knowledgeable and funny, but Beckah at Makers Mark was much easier on the eyes. In fact, I only saw a few male employees. Most of the folks dealing with the customers were cute girls.

Makers Mark is a really nice tour. The setting is gorgeous, and the staff polite. The best part, is the tasting room at the end of the tour. They get you drunk then turn you loose in the gift shop. There's some marketing.

We left Loretto and headed to Louisville, where we stopped at New Albanian Brewing. I finally sampled a Kentucky Common. It was black and smooth. It had a licorice flavor with a sour finish, with some fruit flavors. I enjoyed it, but I won't need to make another one. I finished up with a 15B Porter. Good stuff, Maynard!

After some navigational difficulties, we stopped at Bluegrass Brewing Company. Another great place, though a bit more upscale. It has a huge bar, and some great beers. I recommend the Organic Alt. That was really good.

On to Cincinnati!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 19:35 0 comments links to this post

17 June 2008

Jack Daniels Distillery and Big River Grill & Brewery

Day two and we were off to Lynchburg. I had taken the tour back in '97, and Satan never had. Tommy was our tour guide, and the tour was a bit shorter than I remember, but just as enjoyable. Jack Daniels is made with 80% corn, 12% barley and 8% rye. And in the fermenting room, the fermenting mash smelled just like a hefeweiss!

Next we went downtown for some souvenirs and headed for Nashville.

Oh! And for the record, when I get my second million, I'm buying a house in the Lynchburg area. It's beautiful country!

Nashville, on the other hand, is completely different than what I remember from 1972. Imagine that!

We stopped at Big River Grill and brewery. I imagine that with a good map we would have found it easier. But we made it. We arrived at about 3 pm, and the crowd was very light. It was such a nice day, we sat outside. I ordered chicken strips, and Satan had a blackened chicken sandwich. We both ordered a 22 oz glass of their wheat beer. It was outstanding and a perfect match for the day.

Best of all, there were several wireless connections available for my iPhone, so I was able to snap a photo of Satan enjoying his beer and send it back to the working stiffs back home. However, the photo I took of the outside I did not mail until I got to our hotel in Bardstown Kentucky, and the wireless network here won't connect to my mailbox. So the picture is to come.

Tomorrow: Makers Mark, Louiville, New Albany and Cincinnati!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 21:03 2 comments links to this post

16 June 2008

Vino's PIzza and Brew Pub in Little Rock

Satan and I stopped in en route to Cincinnati after 9 hours on the road. It's right off the loop and darned easy to find. It reminds me of places in Austin. Very laid back and casual. The walls are covered with art for sale. My favorite was a painting of Hitler dressed as a clown and doing a puppet show in a suburban backyard.

I had a pepperoni and mushroom calzone that was as big as my head. It was served with a piping hot dipping sauce. Satan had a Deluxe Sandwich. The beers were good, too. I had a wonderful hefeweiss.

The Rainbow Wheat was a bright, cloudy yellow with a dense white head that dissipated rapidly. I had been expecting an American wheat, and was surprised by the banana and clove aroma and flavor, which is less evident than in a German hefe, but perfect on a 96 degree day. It was little under-carbonated, but somehow that made the beer feel silky.

This would be my standard beer if I was a regular. Vino's is a great place. If I had been staying the night in Little Rock, I would have spent all evening! But we had to move on. We decided to push on until se got to Savannah, Tennessee, so we would be closer to Lynchburg.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 19:03 1 comments links to this post

15 June 2008

The Road to Cincinnati - NHC 2008 Prelude

This year's National Homebrewers Conference is in Cincinnati this year. Satan and I are going. We registered when gas was $3 a gallon. Now that gas is $4 a gallon, and will likely be $4.25 by the time we get on the road, I am beginning to freak out a little about paying for this trip.

Earlier in the year, I sat down and checked out the brewpubs along the way. I sent Satan the list, with a list of regional beers we should look for, and he suggested that I might be a bit anal about the trip.

If you attend NHC and see a fat guy with a graying goatee counting the money in his wallet, feel free to stop by and laugh at me.

But if we come home with a medal. . .

Argh! I jinxed us!

Anyway. . .

With the noticeable exception of a female character in a sarong, Satan and I are doing our best Hope and Crosby as we get on The Road to Cincinnati. I am leaving Fredericksburg today, and, after a brief visit to Eola, I will meet Satan at his parents' home near Coleman. From there, in the morning, we head to somewhere in the vicinity of Lynchburg, Tennessee. I will update on the road!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 15:30 0 comments links to this post

14 June 2008

Hop Talk Guest Blog Entry

Last September, Al over at Hop-Talk asked if I would guest blog for him while he was away. I had just visited Mark Cannon at Eola School for the first time, and thought it would make a nice guest blog entry. Since I am packing for NHC at the moment, I thought I would repost my article. I will be posting from the road, reviewing brewpubs and beers and distilleries. Stay tuned!

Legend has it that Eola, Texas was named after Aeolas, the Greek god of the winds.

On a steamy hot Friday in August 2007, with much of the flat landscape still green from recent record rains, Eola’s namesake was blessing the small West Texas town (population 200) with a nice breeze, respite from the sweltering upper 90 degree temperatures. I turn into a a gravel drive, between two red brick columns that were the only break in a low fieldstone wall. A sign bears the legend, "Eola School Restaurant". I park in front of the front doors of what looked to be an abandoned building. A small blue car is the only sign of life at this little town at the crossing of two farm to market roads.

The school was built in the 1920s, when the population hovered around 400. At its height, five teachers taught the children of Eola from elementary to high school. It was abandoned in the 80s and sat vacant until 2004 when James “Mark” Cannon bought the property to open as a restaurant/lodge/brewery/warehouse.

The first grade classroom is the dining room, the chalkboard serving as the menu. Today’s special, the chalkboard reads, is a barbecue brisket sandwich with fries. The room next door is the kitchen. Across the long, central hall is another classroom decked out as a banquet room. He brews his Windmill Pale Ale and Warlock Wheat in the science lab, and ferments it in the old boiler room. He’s converted some classrooms at the other end of the building into a warehouse, where he stores items for local businesses. He’s made some rooms into lodging for folks to spend the night.

Mark is about 5′5″ dark haired with sleepy eyes and a slow way of talking that makes you feel instantly at ease. He poured me some of his Windmill Pale Ale in a white styrofoam cup. I take a sip and taste, well, I taste something wet. It’s a pretty mild beer, Mark explains, because most of his customers prefer Bud Light or Coors Light. “It doesn’t have much flavor,” he confides. Then he pours me a cup of Warlock Wheat. The wheat beer starts with a hint of pepper, then finishes slightly sour. “It’s Belgian wheat beer,” Mark says.

A couple of county workers come in and order burgers. I take advantage of the sole employee of Eola School, and order the day’s special. He brings out a sandwich overflowing with beef, onions and pickles, along with a side of wonderful handmade fries. Delicious. After the county workers leave, he invites me out to see the site of the upcoming Labor Day Weekend festival. He mentions that it was also the site of a homebrew contest on Easter weekend, but a cold front forced everyone inside. (There were 12 entries, and the winner was a Air Force sergeant stationed at Goodfellow AFB.)

We walk out the end of the building, under a huge, spreading oak where Aeolas continues to bless us with a breeze. It’s comfortable there in the shade and the last thing I wanted to do is get out in the sun. On the edge of what used to be the school’s tennis court, a large asphalt square, a flatbed trailer sits forlornly in the sun, goats grazing in the neighbor’s yard behind it. “That’s the stage,” Mark says. “And I have to finish mowing tonight, when it’s cooler.” We have another cup of Warlock Wheat and talk about beer, regional beer styles and history.

Mark hopes to expand the brewery soon, maybe over the winter. And he’s eager to move beyond pale ale and wheat ale, hopefully dragging along the palettes of the locals. First, he’s got to teach them that there’s more to beer than pale, fizzy, yellow stuff. He wants to make a porter or a stout. He also hopes that the folks in San Angelo won’t mind making the trip out to visit his brewery.

The Eola School Restaurant isn’t the fanciest place in the world. Parts of the building need work—parts of the men’s room ceiling had collapsed, exposing the structure; the flat bed trailer could use a roof; and the whole place could use a coat of paint. It is, however, a great small town Texas restaurant: a little, out of the way place with personality and good food.

The Bright Brewery doesn’t make the best beer in the world. But it’s fresh, crisp, and only $2 a glass--well, a styrofoam cup. And it’s the only craft beer between Fredericksburg, Texas and Artesia, New Mexico. And the world, especially small town Texas, needs more craft beer.

I hope Mark makes it. It’s a perfect place for me to stop on my frequent trips to Midland. And, more importantly, his success would prove that small, local breweries can still find a place in a world dominated by megabrewers. And we should all stop at these little breweries, and soak up the charm, make new friends, and drink new beers.

The Eola School Restaurant is at 12119 FM 381 in Eola, Texas and is open 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Give Mark a call at (325) 469-3314.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 13:17 0 comments links to this post

12 June 2008

Smoked APA Kegging Day

Last weekend, I kegged the Smoked APA, which I am calling Water Valley APA.

The smoke is a bit strong, and will need to age. Kinda bacony, but maybe I'm equating the flavor to smoked bacon. The smoke overpowers the malt. More hops might have cut through the smoke, too.

It would probably be better in (Holy Crap! Brainstorm!) the barleywine we want to brew. Well, that I want to do. More on that later. . .

The final gravity was 1.010, which gave me 4.4% alcohol.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:42 0 comments links to this post

10 June 2008

Kiwit tasting notes

I tapped the Kiwit for a quick taste at the beginning of the month. It's a bit flat, so I ramped up the CO2 on it. It's kind of yellowish gold. It is hazy and looks like I might have some kiwi pulp in it. I don't really smell anything. When I taste it I get a fruit flavor with some coriander, but if I didn't tell you it had kiwi in it, you wouldn't know it. It is surprisingly clean. I really don't taste any off flavors. I think I could package this as a wit and do well. I may have to package a couple of six packs for competition.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 15:44 0 comments links to this post

08 June 2008

Peppercorn Rye-Bock 4

I brewed version four of the peppercorn rye-back in April. I am finally tapping the keg. This batch was made with a full wort boil. I boiled 7 gallons of water, extract, hops and spices down to 5.5 gallons. To be honest, I can't tell that much difference with what I brewed before, but the beer is a bit hazy.

Satan and I visited over Memorial Day weekend. We re-work the peppercorn rye-bock base recipe:

  • 7 lb German Pilsener Malt
  • 3 lb Munich Malt
  • .5 Crystal 40L
  • 1.5 lb Flaked Rye
  • Hop to about 26-28 IBUs (hops to be determined)
  • WLP 830 German Lager

OG should be about 1065

Since the judges at Nationals didn't taste the rye in the contest beer, I bumped it up a half pound. We plan to brew this in October or November.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:04 0 comments links to this post

06 June 2008

Donn's Famous Horse Cram It In Brown Ale

My Dad has always told a story about playing rodeo in the front yard with his brother and sister while his mom was sewing. I guess they were under ten or so, and this was back in the 40s. My Uncle Donn would announce himself and his horse, "And now here's Donn and his famous horse Cram It In!" Dad said his mom didn't even look up from her sewing to say, "I think you need to change your horse's name."

We're having a family reunion at the end of July, and this beer was brewed in his honor.

Brewing Date: Sunday June 01, 2008
Head Brewer: Jeff Holt
Asst Brewer: Satan

Donn's Famous Horse CramItIn Brown Ale


ProMash Brewing Session - Recipe Details Printout
-------------------------------------------------

BJCP Style and Style Guidelines
-------------------------------

10-D Brown Ale, American Brown Ale

Min OG: 1.040 Max OG: 1.060
Min IBU: 25 Max IBU: 60
Min Clr: 15 Max Clr: 22 Color in SRM, Lovibond

Recipe Specifics
----------------

Batch Size (GAL): 5.00 Wort Size (GAL): 6.00
Total Extract (LBS): 7.75
Anticipated OG: 1.055
Anticipated SRM: 24.1
Anticipated IBU: 30.5
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Actual OG: 1.052

Grain/Extract/Sugar

% Amount Name Origin Gravity SRM
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
38.7 3.00 lbs. Light Liquid Malt Extract 1.035 7
32.3 2.50 lbs. Light Dry Malt Extract 1.046 7
16.1 1.25 lbs. Crystal 60L America 1.034 60
6.5 0.50 lbs. Vienna Malt America 1.035 4
6.5 0.50 lbs. Chocolate Malt America 1.029 350

Hops

Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.00 oz. Mt. Hood Pellet 5.20 25.6 60 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade Pellet 4.10 4.9 15 min.

Extras

Amount Name Type Time
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.00 Tsp Irish Moss Fining 15 Min.(boil)

Yeast
-----
White Labs WLP005 British Ale

Fermentation Specifics
----------------------

Pitched From: Starter
Amount Pitched: 500 mL
Lag Time: 10.00 hours
Primary Fermenter: Plastic

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:58 0 comments links to this post

04 June 2008

Dodging Duck Brewhaus - Boerne, Texas

Satan and I stopped in on Sunday for lunch and a beer. We had been talking about stopping at Dodging Duck Brewhaus for a year or so and finally managed to think about it as we were driving back from Fort Sam Houston. We arrived as the place opened and ordered a sampler. One of the wait staff brought us a bowl of tortilla chips and salsa, explaining that before noon on Sunday, they could only give us beer with food. Stupid beer laws!

The place has a casual atmosphere outside, a bit more formal inside. The deck has a great view of the park along the Guadalupe River. We were tempted to order something to go and a something in a growler, but there was no air conditioning outside.

I had fish and chips, which were excellent. My cousin had pork tenderloin with chimichurri sauce and looked really good, too.

There are only four beers on tap: a honey wheat, Biergesfest Ale (named after the local beer fest coming up), an English bitter (That was excellent! If I could remember the name, I would recommend it hartily! It was perfect with the fish and chips.), and a vanilla porter that was a little light on vanilla and should have been named a coffee porter (It was good, though! Just a let down).

Dodging Duck Brewhaus is worth a stop the next time time you're cruising down I-10 north of San Antonio.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:11 0 comments links to this post

02 June 2008

BEER MONEY by Matthew Freeman

I recently received an email from Matthew Freeman. Matt is an Australian author and has written a mystery novel, Beer Money, with a beer background. So what's it about? According to the website, about 178 pages. {Rimshot} Here's Matt's description: "An Australian brewery executive has gone missing. Or has he? Joe Abbott is paid by the man's wife with a beer-sodden cheque to find out the truth. In doing so he locks horns with dodgy nightclub owners, a toupeed beer baron, and endless eccentrics - plus, of course, a wild pig - all in the twisted pursuit of a stash of missing money. And he has time for a beer or ten along the way.

I applaud anyone who has written a book and is marketing it themselves. And I have a few posts to fill before I start the series "Road to Cincinnati: NHC 2008." So head on over to the Beer Money website and buy a couple dozen copies.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 14:58 2 comments links to this post