I love saving money. I also love building stuff myself. When I get the opportunity to do both, I try to take advantage. I got married last year and we decided to serve home brew at the reception. Of course, I was not going to serve beverages that I have such pride in without providing a bit of show as well. I built a keezer and tap wall to serve as a Beer Garden.
I enlisted some help from my dad. We used a variety of parts that we either had laying around plus a few trips to the local hardware store to acquire the rest.
hinges and gate latches
wood screws and machine screws
old chest freezer
First, we framed up the tap wall with 2x6s. This would attach to the keezer.
Next, we made a collar for the freezer, so that we would be able to leave the freezer itself intact. The collar allowed us to run beer lines out of the freezer and into the tap wall. We framed up a rectangle with 2x6s. We decided to also use tie plates on the sides and back of the collar to keep everything in place.
Next, we attached the 1x8s to the tap wall frame. We used the finishing nails for this. We chose to not worry with evening the tops to give it a more rustic feel. Next, we attached another 1×8 running perpendicular to the verticals to put the taps on. We popped three holes with a 1″ drill bit to allow mounting of the tap faucets. Finally, we mounted shelving brackets and a bar top to complete the look.
Now it was time to build the chamber for the tap lines. First I used silcone sealant for the cracks in the 1x8s. Next, I lined the interior of the tap box with reflectix insulation. The gorilla tape helped to seal the edges as well. We ripped some 1x8s to mount the gate latches on, as well as provide a bottom for plyboard access panel to contact. I robbed a piece of plyboard from an old homemade boat hunting box is the reason it is camo painted. The front of the collar would rest against the gap at the bottom. We cut a slit in this portion of the collar to allow the tap lines into. As well as the tap lines, I mounted a couple of pc cooling fans to move air between the keezer and the chamber behind the tap wall.
Now it was time to stain the wall. We chose to use a darker stain on the shelf and tap board.
First coat applied.
Mom applying stain to bar top.
Finally, I decided to go with a removable sign, to allow versatility if I chose to use the tap wall for other occasions. Pictured below is the sign as well as the finished product. We used eye hooks on each side of the tap wall frame to attach a ratchet strap too. We used this to cinch the tap wall to the keezer. (Not pictured are all the inner workings) I removed the hinges from the freezer top. This would allow me access to the kegs and CO2 tank without having to worry about which way the freezer was turned. Faucet connection is simple enough and I will not cover in this post. Some sheets of burlap material covered the freezer well enough behind the tap wall. The freezer was big enough to fit a 1/2 bbl keg of a white ale blend and two cornies each of a blonde ale and saison. As wedding favors we gave custom printed shaker pints at the top of the article.
The wife and I posing with my folks on wedding day.
Comingin at just under 20% abv, Black Tuesday could really make for a Blacked Out Tuesday. This Barrel Aged Imperial Stout packs a heckuva malt punch, tasting much of raisins and dried fruits. The bourbon barrel character shines through in some caramels and a slight oakiness, as well as the slight alcohol bite. This beer makes for a wonderful shared pour among friends, but be careful when enjoying alone. It may leave you wondering where Tuesday’s gone.
Appearance. Black in color. Slight head, tan. Aroma. Very malt forward. Some caramels along with dried fruits, raisins.
Taste. Very malt forward. Raisins. Whiskey characteristics (oaky and caramels).
Mouth feel. Medium heat (alcohol). Very warming. Some slickness. Beer was thick, but not as thick as one would think.
Happy National Beer Day!! That’s right, on this day in history, 1933 to be exact, the Cullen-Harrison Act (1)(2) went into effect. This allowed people to buy, sell and drink beer containing up to 3.2% alcohol by weight (or 4.05% by volume) in states that had enacted their own law allowing such sales. By December, prohibition was repealed. The brewing industry had sustained a major hit, and it wasn’t until the 70s and 80s that craft brewers and something other than light american lagers started to once again grace the U.S. with their presence. For the next few decades, the brewing industry saw growth across the country, with brewery after brewery popping up across the country as states became brewer friendly. Great Raft is one such brewery. I am very excited to be trying their 100% Brettanomyces fermented IPA.
Oceans Between Us is a very hop forward beer, which is to be expected with an IPA. It poured a golden straw color, with a white, fluffy head. Citrus and grass hit my nose. It is very prickly throughout, with higher carbonation. The beer is like biting into a grapefruit, but at 7% ABV (not Cullen-Harrison friendly), I would not recommend having it at breakfast…if you have a workday ahead. The beer even finishes like a grapefruit, and it finishes dry, leaving you thirsting for more. Upon reccomendation from the Nation’s, I plan to cellar a bottle (it was a conundrum with it being an IPA, but the Brett won out). I will be reporting back with how this beer changed in 6 months.
In the 1620, the Pilgrims crossed the Ocean, and landed on Plymouth Rock because the ship was running out of beer.(3) The beer tradition continued flourishing, except for those dark times in the early 1900s. Thanks to the Cullen-Harrison Act and the repeal of Prohibition, beer was able to be imbibed in public. By the late 20th century, beer began to expand past the American Light Lagers that dominated for the majority of the 1900s. Today, there is large variety of styles to enjoy, and more seem to pop up monthly, as homebrewers and commercial brewers alike continue to push the limits and experiment against the norm. Great Raft has done a wonderful job so far with their continued innovation and experimentation. I look forward to more from their Belgian series of beers, as well as their general selection. I am also glad there is only the Red River, and not an Ocean Between Us.
I’m brewing up a Golden Strong Ale today. I made sure to title it a Belgian style instead of true Belgian for you purists out there. Technically, this will be a Louisiana Golden Strong Ale…I’m liking the sound of that already!
Already brewday hasn’t gone quite to plan, my mash efficiency was a little lower than my normal brews. I still want to figure out what exactly happened to hurt me so, but that is for another time. Right now, I am concentrated on fixing the issue. For me, this means a longer boil, which is why I have time for a quick blog post. I don’t mind sacrificing a little volume to better attempt to hit my numbers.
Everything else so far has gone swimingly, however. All a product of proper planning. Planning your brew day out sure goes a long way in easing your mind during the process.
My recipe can be found below, I’ll certainly be checking back in to let you know how this one turned out.
Golden Strong Ale
East Kent Golding 2 oz at 60 min
Czech Saaz 2 oz at 30 min
Target Gravity was 1.100, but looking like I’ll be closer to 1.090.
Targeting 1.009 on the final gravity.
Fermenting with WLP570. Going for fermentation in the low 80s this time.
Tonight’s beer is the Irish Channel Stout by NOLA Brewing. This beer poured a deep dark brown to black with little head. A coffee aroma with hints of chocolate dominate the nose. These flavors continue on the palate, with a slight sweetness up front paired with a distinct bitterness on the backend, much like a night out in the Crescent City for a visitor. Overall, NOLA puts together a wonderfully pleasant version of the Americanized stout.
This is my first taste of what the brewery in Water Valley, Ms. has to offer. The name fits this Amber Ale. While the copperhead is one of the more common poisonous snakes in the region, the amber ale is a common style found in most breweries. Like the snake, which is known to be the most likely to bite, the amber is a beer that is easy to sneak up on you. It drinks similar to it’s blonde and pale cousins, and doesn’t pack the alcohol or hop punch that other styles do, much the same as the snake, which although is venomous, has a milder venom in comparison.
The Copperhead, we’re talking about the beer now y’all, has some wonderful ruby notes to the eye. This is a malt forward beer, which is to be expected with an amber. A certain roastiness hits the nose, and the beer starts crisp on the tongue. Toast continues, along with caramel and nutty notes towards the middle of the palate. The beer finishes with an earthy, almost spicy backend. Overall all impression is a wonderful beer to have at a cookout in the fall, heck even winter down here. This brew would pair wonderfully with any red meat dish.
I remember as a kid going to play by the creek, always watching out for cotton mouths (water moccasins). We’d always repeat back the common rhyme to not confuse corals and kings, “Red on Black, friendly jack. Red on yella, kill a fella.” We’d even have to watch out for rattlers around here, and listen for ’em too. I do remember being on the lookout for copperheads, but they always seemed to play 2nd or 3rd fiddle to the other snakes common in Louisiana. Much the same does the amber ale seem to take a back seat to the more popular and bigger beer styles, such as the IPA, the Barleywine, the Imperial Stout, and any other style one can think of in this, more alcohol, more hop world that craft beer is in sometimes. I always have to step back and remember that even though it may not have as catchy a name, have some wonderful rhyme, or make sounds that sends shivers, the amber ale can still pack a heck of a punch if you are not prepared. Similarly can the copperhead strike without warning if you are not vigilant.
I remember being a child and seeing pictures of a Rougarou. It haunted my childhood dreams. When I would be leaving a deer stand at night and see eyes, it was a Rougarou. I was terrified of being in the woods at night. Now that I have grown up I know that this hellish beast was something a taxidermist fashioned out of deer, coyote, and bobcat parts. Tin Roof has recreated this Rougarou nightmare with a beast that is 9.7% ABV and 108 ibus. I don’t fear this Rougarou. I respect it’s power. The only thing that scares me now is the car ride home…thankfully Uber has that covered.
The aroma is a mix of dark roasted malts, chocolate and coffee with some citrus. The hops are pretty powerful at the front end but quickly faded to a dry, stout like finish. I will definitely be grabbing another bottle of this.
When first starting this blog, I figured it would be a cakewalk. As it turns out, I greatly underestimated the difficulty that I would have in writing. I am a creature of habit. As we all do from time to time, I settle into my ways, especially in the evening time. I am now challenging myself to review a beer a week. I hope to stick to majority Louisiana beers to start, but will definitely expand out.
To break my habit and start to writing, there was no better choice for me than Creature of Habit by Great Raft Brewing in Shreveport. First let me say that I love what these guys are doing. I have yet to be disappointed by one of their brews, but enough about the brewery, let’s get to the beer!
Creature of Habit is their seasonal brown ale. It’s a coffee aged ale. Coffee is the definitive characteristic, complimented by some nutty and biscuity malt qualities. I am not one for cold brewed coffee, but a cold brew combined with coffee, that is another story. Sipping on this beer takes me so many different places. With one sip I am with my buddies after a morning hunt, eating a hearty breakfast at a local diner, sipping on a piping hot mug of drip coffee. The next drink comes and I am sipping espresso whilst visiting with friends. Coffee aroma and flavors abound with this brew bringing together blue-collar and the upper-echelon alike.
That is what I love about beer as a whole, there’s a style for everybody out there. Everyone has different tastes, sometimes we have to break out of our comfort zones of taste, and sometimes it’s fine to fall back and be a creature of habit.
The remaining 4% was Acid malt because my water ain’t right.
1.058 estimated post boil OG
Mashed for 1.5 hours at 154. The center of the grain bag temp was 149 when I pulled the grain out.
Bittered with simcoe. Cascade at 10 minutes, chinook at 5 minutes and simcoe at flame out. 52 IBUs. US05 yeast pitched and fermented at 69 degrees. 1.5 hour boil.
The predicted FG is 1.013.
I racked 5 gallons into fermenter at 1.060. My OG was high but I don’t have a problem with more alcohol. I will be fermenting this for around 12 days and bottling straight from primary.
Realized 11 days into fermentation that the lid on my bucket was cracked so I bottled at 11 days. The beer finished at 1.010. It was pretty tasty going into the bottles. I really like the hops…hardly a trace of citrus or fruit. Very earthy. I am very impatient so I drank two bottles yesterday after 2 days in the bottle. I think this will be a stable brew for me.