30 March 2014

Fredericksburg Founders Day - Malt and Hops

I'm not the most outgoing person. I seldom go out by myself (though I have gotten better about that), and prefer to hang out at home with all my books and my TV. In a group, I prefer to skulk around the edges, avoiding the limelight. So when I was asked to give a short presentation on Fredericksburg historic breweries I hated that I said yes.

The Gillespie County Historical Society's theme this year is Malt & Hops, and will focus on the role of beer in the German culture. Rick Green, head brewer at Fredericksburg Brewing Company, and Lee Hereford of Pedernales Brewing Company will also be speaking, so I only have to focus on the three pre-Prohibition breweries.

Fortunately, it's only a ten minute presentation. Unfortunately, I could talk about the three breweries for thirty minutes, and another 30 minutes about the role of beer in German settlers' lives. So I'm working on the presentation. I will speak on May 10, around 7 pm.

I have learned something new that will go into the speech, and I will share it with you next time.

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28 March 2014

Beer is Good For You!

The Boston Globe recently reported that beer in moderation can help lower the risk of heart disease and kidney stones, and build strong bones.

And some Japanese researchers have discovered that the part of the hop plant NOT used in the brewing process could be helpful in treating tooth decay and gum disease.

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26 March 2014

"Irresponsible" Labeling

The neo-prohibitionists are at it again.

Drinks Business writer Dan Fox got his panties in a bunch when he learned some craft breweries are coming up with suggestive names for their beers. He cited ten labels in his latest column to show just how craft brewers are trying to get people to binge drink, to get people to drink and drive, advertise the effects of alcohol, and seduce young children to drink.

If you call a beer a session beer, your are encouraging binge drinking, he argues, citing Founders All Day IPA. (However, he doesn't point out the car on the label as the Car shape on Sweetwater Brewing's Road Trip label. Granted, the name Road Trip is on the car shape. But if you're going to say crazy things, you might as well be consistent.)

If you use a star shaped Santa Claus as Lagunitas Sucks' label, you appeal to kids. Same thing with a teddy bear of Dog Fish Head's American Beauty label, or a non-moving "animated" character on the Rooty von Ginger label, or the Kewpie doll on Three Floyd's Broo Doo label, or the jack o'lantern on Flat Tire's Pumpkick.

He called out Bell's Hop Slam because the name and image (of a hop slammed into someone) describes the alcohol's affect on you.  (Apparently, in DanFoxLand hops=alcohol content.) He cited Left Hand's Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout, Boulevard's The Sixth Glass Quadrupel Ale, and the aforementioned Pumpkick label for the same thing.

His "Wag of the Finger" column somehow excluded Shock Top's cartoon character, but since he spent several articles praising Big Brewers restraint, it probably would have made him look insincere.

I don't know why he didn't include the All Day IPA car or the Sixth Glass face as cartoons appealing to children. Overkill, I guess.

Seriously, do any children buy beer? Can cartoons only appeal to children? Do the Zoloft cartoon ads or the Quilted Northern bears market to children? Do the Geico gekko commercials market to children? Does a cartoon automatically mean you are trying to appeal to children? If so, how do we stop insurance companies from enticing children to drive?

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24 March 2014

No Mission From God This Year

I call Satan "Satan" because he says his friends' wives all say he's the devil—a horrible influence on their husbands.  When he's around, they say, their husbands drink more, stay out later and associate with women of dubious virtue. Satan says that it's his friends' fault when they get in trouble. But I have a theory: Sometimes, when Satan comes up with an idea, before you know it, you think it's your idea and you're convincing him to go along with “your” plan.  I call it the Satan Push.

Satan has been doing some pushing lately, and we won't be going to NHC this year. As much as we'd like to go to Grand Rapids and mark Michigan off our list of visited states, we thought maybe a slower paced beercation was in order.

We're not quite sure what we're going to do. We'd like to go back to San Diego or Santa Rosa in California. We wouldn't mind a visit to Louisville and the worlds best appetizer: pork belly on a stick! Abita Springs, Louisiana and Athens, Georgia are pretty high on our list, too. But we'd really like to revist New Glarus, Wisconsin!

So, for now, that's our plan. We're planning a couple of days in Kansas City/Lawrence area. A couple of days in New Glarus/Madison. Maybe visiting Captain and Mrs. Carrot in northern Illinois, too.

Anyone have suggestions for other stops along the way?

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22 March 2014

Big Hops Growler Station

I hadn't been to San Antonio for a while, and after being sick Friday and Saturday, I needed out of the house. I called my nephew and arranged for a meet up. We'd both wanted to check out Big Hops Growler Station on Huebner for a while.

I don't know what I was expecting, but I thought the place was a little small. There is a patio, but it was a bit too chilly for that. Since it was at noon, there were only a few people in the place.

The tap selection was pretty good: about thirty taps, and about a quarter of them were local or Texas beers. Branch Line Evil Owl, Ranger Creek La Bestia Amiable, Real Ale's Brewers Cut California Common and Phoenix, (512) Milk Stout and Rogness DIPA. There were several IPAs and a couple more DIPAs. Stone, Lagunita and Dog Fish Head were also on tap. I finally got to try Real Ale's Hefeweiss. It was good, but I still prefer the one from Pedernales Brewing.

We shared a couple of beers before heading across Huebner to Flying Saucer to meet the rest of his family for lunch.

I texted Satan about the place, and it's proximity to Busted Sandal Brewery and Spec's. He deemed the area "Mecca."


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20 March 2014

Twisted X Chuphopra

The Great Texas Craft Beer Desert continues to shrink. Look what I found in the wild here in Paradise!



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14 March 2014

Learning About Water - Part 2

More from the Brewing Network's Brew Strong show.

Your water pH doesn't matter. It's all about Residual Alkalinity. It drives mash and beer pH. Residual Alkalinity is a "triangle" between your water alkalinity, water hardness and the grain bill's color.

Water profiles are a target, a snapshot in time. If your close on sulfate and chloride, you're okay. But use the residual alkalinity. It's not about the amounts of sulfate and chloride, it's about the ratio.

Add salts to the mash based on the amount of water in the mash tun. Salts will dissolve in the low pH of the mash.

This is the water report here in Paradise:

  • Calcium - 83 ppm
  • Magnesium - 39 ppm
  • Sodium - 41 ppm
  • Sulfate - 35 ppm
  • Chloride - 81 ppm
  • Bicarbonate (CaCO3) 364 ppm
So the RA of the water here is 282, according to the spreadsheet. And I should be brewing a lot of dark dark beers.

They did mention that diluting water with distilled water is okay. However, in the next show (notes to come), I should make sure the calcium is at 50 ppm.



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12 March 2014

Bridgeport Trilogy 1 Crystal Dry-Hopped Pale Ale

Sometimes it's pretty cool to have this blog.

Last month, I got an email from the fine folks at Bridgeport Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon. They wanted to share the first of their 30th anniversary brews with me.

Appearance (0-3): Pours up a hazy golden color with an white head that quickly falls to a this layer of bubbles on the surface. 2 points.

Aroma (0-4): Starts with malt sweetness, then is replaced with a floral, tart hop aroma. 3 points

Taste (0-10): Subtle malt flavor, but the floral, spicy hops quickly come through. Good carbonation and mouthfeel. Finishes a bit tart with some floral notes at the back of my throat.

Overall Impression (0-3): I've never had Crystal hops before, so I can't say this was a familiar flavor. The floral notes take some getting used to. But I like the beer. I might have to go to Oregon for an extended pub crawl. 2 points

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10 March 2014

Learning about Water

First, I owe all of you an apology.

I thought I had posts scheduled through this weekend.  Apparently, I didn't.

I try to post consistently for the 6 of you that read this, so I try to plan ahead in case things get busy at work or at home. I failed in that planning, and I'm sorry.

Having said that, I do have a few posts to load up on here, so let's get to it.

The best way to learn something is the have to teach it to someone. So any time I try to learn something new, I pretend I am teaching someone. Today, that's the six of you that read this. Congrats!

I bought Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers, a few months ago and tried to read it.

I'm in my 50s, and it's been since the early 1980s that I've stepped into a chemistry class. So about three chapters in I hit the wall. I know that knowing about water will help my brewing, but c'mon! Learning at this age?

Whenever I need advice on brewing I turn to the Brewing Network. So, with the help of a BNArmy buddy, I downloaded the Brew Strong water shows, and got a chance on Sunday (duped into a non-brew day by a pessimistic weatherman) to listen to the first couple of shows. Here are my notes for Show I, expanded slightly.

Water is important to beer flavor, but the most important things in water to brewing are the minerals. Look at it this way: If you use distilled water to make a soup, it will turn out good, but flat. If you add spices and salts to your water, it will turn out much better. Distilled water brings, as Alton Brown says, nothing to the party. (He also has a fun podcast.)

Water pH plays a role. Acidic water (under 7 pH) makes a drier beer. Basic water (above 7 pH) makes a maltier beer.

Calcium is important for yeast health, mash pH, and beer clarity. It should be 50-100 ppm.

Magnesium is good for yeast health, but the yeast will get what it needs from the mash. Too much can give you the shits. It's used in Milk of Magnesia.

Chloride is a malt enhancer, and sulfate enhances hop flavor. The key is to get a good balance between the two. The bicarbonate concentration of you water lets you know what you can brew.
  • 0-50 ppm: pale beers
  • 50-150 ppm: orange to brown beers
  • 105- 250 ppm: dark beers
The ratio of Chloride to Sulfate lets you know how bitter or malty your beer will be.
  • 0:.5 - Very bitter
  • .5:.75 - moderately bitter
  • .75-1.25 - Balanced
  • 1.25:1.50 - Malty
  • 1.5:2 - very malty
This is where the first show ended. 


Let me know if I got this right. I want to make better beer, and water is a part of it.

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04 March 2014

Brugghús Steðja Made Beer with Fin Whale Meat

Icelandic brewery, Brugghús Steðja, recently brewed, in collaboration with whaling company Hvalur, a beer made with fin whale meat for Thorrablot, a festival which honors the Norse god of thunder, Thor.

Naturally, conservationists are in an uproar.

The brewery owner, Dagbjartur Ariliusson, countered that the traditional celebration involves eating whale meat, and that this 5.2 % beer would be available only for the festival and hoped that people would try it. There were no tasting notes, thankfully.

I'm of two minds about this. First, who are we to judge a local custom if the whale is harvested legally? Second, Oh Hell No!

In the interest of full disclosure, when I was an exchange student in Japan in the 1980s, I had whale. It had the consistency of pot roast, but tasted like fish. It was served to me by a very nice young lady who I was interested in getting to know. I thanked her for the experience, and asked if we could just go to McDonalds next time.

So there is no way I would try this. Nope. Sorry. I'll pass. Unless the server's cute. . .

And where in the heck would put meat in the brewing process?

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02 March 2014

Beer and Hymns and Bible Studies, Oh My!

Beer and religion seems to be all the rage.


I can see beer and hymns. The alcohol lowers your inhibitions and makes you sing more enthusiastically, if not more tunefully. But drinking beer while studying?

I learned in college that I couldn't study anything while drinking beer. Hell! I can't watch TV and drink beer because I won't remember what I watched. How do they expect me to remember anything while studying the Bible and drinking?

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01 March 2014

Custom Koozies For Your Event or Business

I love neoprene Koozies. I bought my first one at the 30th Anniversary of Austin's now defunct Aqua Fest way back in 1995. In fact, I still have that Koozie in my collection. I have neoprene koozies with a dozen different logos and colors. 

The other day, I got an email from Sam at True Imprint asking me to take a look at the company website, and help spread the word about their business.  I enjoy sharing cool beer gadgets and new products. Especially with my club, the Basin Brewers

True Imprint has several different types of koozies, including the original foam koozies which I dislike because of their size. 

I found that they also sell neoprene koozies! If you are a homebrew club and don't offer these to members, you need to re-evaluate your branding. I've already passed this along to the officers of the Basin Brewers, and have encouraged them to slap their logo on this thing.

If I were trying to make a living from this blog, first, I'd be insane; second, I would be passing these out everywhere I go.


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