Summer is here and . . . hey, what happened to summer? How is it almost fall already?
For lots of people, summer is beer season. It's hot and beer is widely viewed as a thirst-quenching beverage. (We homebrewers, of course, know that there is a beer for every season.) And this summer, in Texas, I had some good thirst-quenching beers. The Austin ZEALOTS picnic, in particular, was one day that I had some good beers. Held again this year at Emma Long Municipal Park, the ZEALOTS (the homebrew club from Austin I belong to) threw a great bash featuring somewhere in the neighborhood of forty 5-gallon Corny kegs of homebrew, a 68-lb. roasted pig (thanks to Roger Kovalcheck for roasting that) and plenty of ribs that were entered in our second annual rib cook off.
There were too many good beers to mention, so I'll mention one beverage I had a hand in instead. As I detailed in an earlier blog entry, Joe White, Dave Ebel and I brewed a Four Loko clone awhile back -- not because we view Four Loko as a distinguished beverage, but for the technical challenges (of which there were a few). It was our "horizontal Everest," as we put it. Well, Dave brought his portion that he flavored with watermelon-flavored Jolly Ranchers and pushed it through a watermelon Randall. As it turned out, it succeeded at being what it was supposed to be -- sweet, fruity tasting and alcoholic (about 12% ABV) without tasting hot. (Or, as one of us -- I forget who -- put it, "Oh man, if I were in Junior High, I'd love this.") Challenge met, now let's never speak of it again.
In other local news, someone opened a brewpub about a block from my house. The Bastrop Brewhouse just opened, with guest beers from local Austin breweries on tap while the on site 3-barrel brewhouse is being assembled. For the grand opening, the two brewers -- my friends Ed Peters and Kevin Glenn -- brewed six days straight on two homebrew rigs to have enough beer for the festivities, highlighted by a concert by Kinky Freidman (a Texas legend). Hopefully, their brewhouse will be up and running in late September.
If many beer drinkers view summer as beer drinking season, many homebrewers view fall as the start of homebrewing season. Temperatures fall into the range in which ales can be brewed without temperature control and brewers start dreaming of what beers they will produce for the winter and holiday season. This year, I have been really crunched for time and haven't been able to brew as much as I'd like. So what am I going to do about it? Whine about it on my blog like a little girl? Well, maybe just a little, but in a practical sense, I think I'm going to crank out some partial mash brews. Partial mash brewdays are little shorter than a full all-grain brewday, and I can do everything in my kitchen (since it's still hotter than Hades here in Texas, even if fall is approaching). I'm going to start with partial mah adaptations of my pale ale and porter recipes -- which I've brewed over 20 times each in their all-grain versions -- just to get a couple Corny kegs worth of beer in my beer fridge, then I'll see what comes next. I didn't brew my cranberry beer for Thanksgiving last year, so I definitely want to do that. I'd also like to take another crack at a Vienna lager and also make some kind of hop bomb, like maybe a rye IPA.
While summer was passing me by, I had a lot of great ideas for blog entries. Did I write them? No, of course not. But hopefully I'll get around to them this fall. I learned how to make "solid beer" (AKA bread, and I have a couple beer bread recipes that are awesome) and I also now have the equipment to make hard cheese, which I'm going to try soon. In addition, along with all the "normal" beers I hope to get brewed, I'd like to try one experimental idea -- malting beans and making a "beer" from them. I'll start, however, with the partial mash brews and see how things go.