Tiny House Returns!
It’s been a while since we posted anything, but fear not, the brewing (and drinking) hasn’t stopped!
For those who don’t know me outside this little corner of the internet, my day job is somewhat technology-related building online courses in the education field. This website was my first foray into the WordPress environment. The last formal web development course I took was in college in the early 2000s and a lot has changed since then. Bootstrap responsive what? I felt like I needed to brush up on some of the more current web dev practices, so I joined the 10 week MakerSquare part-time front end web dev program in January. They cover a lot of ground in a short time span, which meant lots of time outside class reading/researching or doing homework, and consequently, less time for blogging. I did use the last couple sessions of class to work on a homebrewing-related project, but I might get into that in a separate post. [Spoiler Alert] It’s an Austin homebrew swap/review site.
So what’s been going on with Tiny House since January?
January Brew Days
ESB: Continuing his infatuation with ESBs, Matty brewed one on January 3rd. Matty collected a handful of juniper berries from the trail behind our house and added them to a flask of the ESB.
Piñon Coffee Porter: Reminiscing about our New Year’s in New Mexico last year, I brewed a basic robust porter recipe (which turned out not so robust, btw) on January 4th. I added the cold-brewed piñon coffee in secondary. I also pulled a separate gallon off and added (hot) Aeropressed chicory coffee to that one.
Getting Started with Kegging
Jan 25 Our friend Watkins gifted us a keg to help wean us off our dependence on bottling. We used Matty’s ESB to christen the keg. Usually I take most of the brewing photos so I don’t have to be in them, but sometimes Matty sneaks in some shutter time and makes me regret losing track of my camera. In the spirit of “keeping it real” though…
February Brew Day
AHS Highway to Helles – AHS released a few smoked beer kits and I’m a fan of helles. Brewed as directed, no fancy pants stuff. 20 days fermenting. 10 days lagering. Kegged on 3/1. Polished off at a three-year-old’s birthday party 3/8.
Bluebonnet & Martin House
Feb 8 I had heard about the Bluebonnet Homebrew Competition and the event seemed like a fun time so I decided to enter a beer. The only one we had ready at the time entries were due was the Piñon Coffee Porter, and when I say “ready,” I mean barely ready. I entered it anyway. One mediocre beer in a sea of thousands, but this was for the experience. We made a quick trip up to Fort Worth to drop off the beer and picked up a direct tap for the keg while we were milling around Stubby’s Texas Brewing Inc.
We met up with Matt’s bro/sis-in-law for lunch at Rodeo Goat and went to Martin House for a brewery tour.
March Brew Days
ESB – Matty’s quest continues. We just finished the keg of this one. It was one of his best, I think. I initially thought it might’ve been too bitter based on hydrometer samples, but it turned out a nice balance of sweet and bitter after carbing.
Unite Pale Ale – Brewed (a bit early, on 3/7) for International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. I think it was supposed to be more for the pro sector, but I liked the concept and the proposed recipe for the brew day sounded like something that would be up my alley, so I gave it a shot. It was just kegged this week (4/3), and so far seems pretty decent. I also have a gallon that was dry hopped with Falconer’s Flight and bottled, so I’ve yet to try that version.
Bluebonnet – The Awards Ceremony
Mar 21-23 We made the drive back up to DFW for the Bluebonnet Homebrew Competition Tasting and Awards. Friday night we settled in and visited the hospitality lounge (free beer, nice) and sat in on a session about state homebrew laws and a keynote from Eric Warner of Karbach Brewing. This was followed by the commercial beer tasting. Matty volunteered to lend a hand with pouring and, despite my social anxiety and general panic around crowds, I followed suit. We ended up pouring Brooklyn Brewery’s IPA and Dry Irish Stout, from bottles. So in a room full of beer nerds surrounded by hometown favorites and crazy one-off casks and kegs, we weren’t terribly busy. After an hour or two (time? what’s time when free beer is flowing?) we were relieved of duty and got to make our rounds for the tasting. I really liked Revolver’s Bock and the 10/6 English IPA from Rabbit Hole Brewing. The Lakewood Temptress with mint, pineapple, and banana was a fun adventure. The Mexican IPA from Texas Beer Refinery with key limes sounded interesting, too, but they ran out by the time we made it up to the table.
The homebrew tasting followed the commercial tasting. This was a lot of fun with the different homebrew clubs offering a selection a beers, some with themed setups or team shirts and the like. Each attendee had three tickets to vote for their favorite beers or clubs and thus determine the “People’s Choice” winner. It was a long window of beer tasting and people grew more sloppy and less discerning in their imbibing, but no major catastrophes.
The next day we slept in and missed any valuable education opportunities happening downstairs. We ventured all the way out to Lewisville to check out Cobra Brewing, a small operation making use of dairy tanks as brewing equipment a la Live Oak, but on a smaller scale. I wanted to like them, but two out of the six beers on tap had noticeable issues. I don’t throw the word “infection” out there very often because I’m not an expert and I don’t want to be a pretentious asshole, but it did seem appropriate here. The other beers we tried were okay but nothing stood out as really remarkable. The beer I started with, a golden ale, was probably my favorite out of the bunch. We grabbed dinner (and a few more beers) at Humperdink’s and made our way back to the hotel for the awards ceremony.
The awards ceremony is a little reminiscent of high school. Choose your seat wisely. Most people sit with their homebrew club. Although Matty and I are technically members of the Texas Carboys, with his work schedule and my recent class schedule, we haven’t been able to attend many meetings, so we’re not really close to anyone in the club. We found a few empty seats at a table near the door and ended up sitting with members of the Houston club, the Foam Rangers, and Gary Glass, Director of the AHA. The ceremony is a long process with lots of polite clapping. Or, as displayed by our table, loud heckling if that’s what your heart desires. The folks at our table did include us in their bottle share, which was very generous of them, although I don’t think Matty and I were sufficiently reverent toward Pliny the Elder. Basically my takeaway from this event is that if you’re really active in a homebrew club or you’re serious about competing in homebrew competitions on the Lone Star Circuit, or if you’re a white dude over 50, you’ll probably enjoy it. Maybe that’s a little simplistic or maybe I’m just bitter because we didn’t have any awesome beer friends present. I do think the feedback in the beer judging scoresheets is valuable, but you don’t have to attend the event to get those, you just need to pay the fee(s) to enter your beer(s).
We are taking another trip to California over Easter weekend, but we’ll be there visiting family (meeting our niece for the first time!) and probably won’t make it to any new breweries. Maybe a quick stop at Firestone Walker, because when in Paso Robles…
It may also be time to take a crack at sours again. Matty was interested in trying a Berliner Weisse and I’d really like to make a Flanders red or brown one of these days.
Until then, cheers!