Tuesday, November 19, 2013

All Hail!

Been a little side tracked as of late. It gets a little difficult to keep up with the brew schedule I'd like to keep when working 7 days a week. Thankfully, one of those jobs is out at the Texas Renaissance Festival, a necessary distraction from the real world. Here's what's happened in my brewing world lately.

Firstly, I moved to Central Texas finally. As soon as I did, I found out that Houston has now opened a few more breweries. Upon leaving, I knew of St Arnold's, Karbauch, and No Label. Now there are at least half a dozen more new ones. Either way, Central TX still has the highest concentration of breweries in the state.

Secondly, I got to go to the Texas Craft Brewers Festival in late September. So many breweries and so little sobriety. There were 30+ breweries on site for the festival, each with multiple entries. You are provided a 4oz tasting cup that gets refilled over and over. The most notable one that I tasted was from No Label in Katy. It was a special release called Perpetual Peace, a Scottish Wee Heavy style beer that was about 9.5% ABV. I'm not normally into cask aged ales, but this one made me go back for more.

Recently, I got to meet the brew master and owner of Brigadoon Brewery. They are, as far as I know, the only onsite brewery for this particular Renaissance Festival. They only brew for a few months out of the year to be able to provide the freshest, tastiest craft beer on the festival grounds. There are themed weekends to give the patrons a different experience for each weekend. Brigadoon has taken this to the next level and provided beers that pair with the themed weekend. These specialty beers are done in smaller batches as they do not know if it will be as big of a hit as their standard brews. So far, each one has sold out very quickly. I look forward to seeing what they will put out next.

Thirdly, I have made more tasty booze. I still haven't made the full switch to all grain brewing, but this will be happening very shortly. Since moving, I have done one store recipe from Austin Homebrew Supply and a second version of a stout that I'd done previously. The first one was a brown ale. It came out well. Not spectacular, but definitely drinkable. The stout, however, came out much better than planned. The mash went well. The brewing went smoothly. I started tasting it about 2 weeks after bottling. Each week, the taste got smoother and creamier. I had nothing but compliments for that one. Hopefully soon, I can start trying all grain versions of these.

**Updates to follow for the mead recipe.**

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sidetracked By Other Booze

So last night, I randomly decided to make mead for the first time ever. I had never even knowingly tasted mead before. A friend of mine had given me a bottle of his homemade mead a long while back. Hell, I didn't even know if it should have been cold or not. Found out later that I prefer it cold.

According to the book, the best ratio for mead is 2.5lbs to 4lbs per 1-gallon of water. The only other non-optional thing you need is the yeast. I've had some champagne yeast in the fridge for months and months now with nothing to use it on. I had originally purchased it because I had a batch of beer that had stopped fermenting before it should have. Now I've found a use for it.

Basic Mead 
(makes 1 gallon)

3 lbs (48oz) Honey
1/2 pkg Champagne Yeast
14 cups or (112oz) water
1tsp of Brewers Yeast supplement (Optional)

Equipment Needed:
Kettle (any size over 1-gallon will work)
Stirring Utensil
1-gallon glass jug

  1. Added 3 quarts of water to the kettle
  2. Added all honey (volume is up to 1 gallon now)
  3. Heated to boiling
  4. Boiled for 15 minutes
  5. Cooled the kettle in an ice bath in the sink, down to 58°F
  6. Heated 2 cups of water to ~85°F, added 1/2 pkg of yeast
  7. Let yeast sit for 10-20 minutes
  8. Stir yeast slurry into honey "wort", added 1 tsp of brewers yeast as well
  9. Took gravity reading
  10. Poured into primary fermenter, 62°F and 1.111OG
The end result!!
Updates will be forthcoming as I follow the process of fermentation. Fingers crossed on this one, never tried this before. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Beginning

Homebrewing is easy as long as you give it some time. Beer is not instantaneous (as we would like it to be). It takes time to cook, time to ferment, then time to age properly. If you try to shorten these, it can cause less than desired results.

I started with a kit. For me, that was the best route to take. I had only a vague idea of the equipment needed for the process. My local store, DeFalco's, had all of the items I needed to get started. Since then, I have upgraded my equipment and added to it. It seems there's always room to improve. Most major cities will have some kind of homebrew shop that will have all the equipment needed. If you're in a more rural setting, you can always order kits and ingredients online.


Any book you read, any forum you go to, all says to sanitize everything. Maybe I'm a bit OCD about it, maybe a little too sanitary with it, but I have not had a batch of beer go bad yet. *Knocks on wood.*

I purchased the kit and 2 cases (24 in each) of brown 12oz bottles. In retrospect, I could have been saving bottles for months leading up to this purchase. And I haven't purchased bottles since. Everyone's got friends and family that drink beer, have them save bottles for you. The only thing you have to watch out for is the types of bottles they give you. Brown (and blue) bottles are preferred as they let the least amount of light in, which can be damaging to the liquid inside. Green bottles are still acceptable. Things you do not want are twist top bottles and clear bottles.

With the kit, you are going to need some large volume kettle to cook everything in. Stainless steel is the preferred metal for these. An aluminum tamale steamer will not work as it will cause a metallic taste to get into the beer. Kettles can be purchased online or at the local homebrew store. It is also advisable to get one that is at least 5-gal (19L). You may want to get one that is slightly larger in size. I have found that a 5-gal kettle only really allows you to cook up to 4 gallons in the kettle at one time. Most books on the subject suggest getting one that is larger to be able to do the full boil, but we will go over that much later.

The last thing needed to begin is a set of ingredients. My kit came with the most basic recipe I've used to date. My suggestion would be to start with a recipe kit for your first brew. They will generally contain all of the ingredients needed for a 5-gallon batch of beer. This way you can get used to the process and how to use the equipment when needed.

Once these items are acquired, you're ready to get started brewing. For that first batch I did, I just followed the instructions that came with the recipe to the letter. It turned out well enough that I've continued to brew and try new things with it. Here's hoping the same happens for you.

Mr Pants

Saturday, July 6, 2013


So here's a little story all about how... no, not going there. I brew beer. Hopefully someday for a living. First time blogger, first time sharing much more than a simple status update online. Beer is something I've had an interest in for a very long time. I grew up with my dad brewing in the home at least once a month for quite a few years. Recently I have taken up the craft myself. The sense of pride you get when you can see someone enjoying something you've made is beyond gratifying. I imagine that's what chef's feel like every night. Brewing just takes much much longer to get to that point.

I have brewed only about 15 batches of beer thus far in my career. To put that in perspective, I brewed 13 of those within the last 7 months. I have already started piecing together my own twists on established recipes and am liking the results. Also, I have started making special batches of beer customized to the specific party or person I am making it for.

Over the next, um, foreseeable future, I will be updating and sharing my wares. Pics will be posted from what has been done so far. Regrettably, not as much photo documentation has been done as I would like, but that will be corrected as time goes on. I want people to learn, enjoy, and discuss all things beer.

Skål! (Cheers)
Mr Pants

*Disclaimer: You will not find any documentation or discussion of anything relating to the "Big 3". If you need to ask what that means, you need a real beer.* 

[Homework - Watch "How Beer Saved the World"]