Thirsty Mallard Brewing – The Blog

All the updates from Thirsty Mallard Brewing

Mead Update – 2/26/2014

Posted by Jeff on February 27, 2014

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have gotten into meads, lately.

Honestly, I really like their ease of brewing (add honey to water, shake, pitch yeast. Boom.)  Now I am just trying to find that recipe that makes a mead I like drinking as easily.  I brew them in 1-2 gallon batches.  I find this gives me the flexibility to find the type of mead I want to make.

Let’s see… first I made a standard mead.  Just  a regular 1.100 with Lalvin D-47.  Just to see what it would do.

Then I made a test Cyser.  Honey added to 1 gallon of apple juice.  1.098 with Lalvin D-47.  Just to see what cyser tastes like.

Next I brought back some honey from Nova Scotia after the wife and I took a Canadian cruise.  I wanted to make this one to see what flavor impacts a local honey can have to a finished mead.  The honey was very buttery and smooth.  Quite floral, as well.  True to form, the mead seems to be taking on some of those great qualities, as well.  (Side note, I also added about 4 oz. of pure maple syrup.  Because Canada.)

After that I made a cucumber mead.  Standard mead using processed mini-cucumbers.  It sounded interesting and I wanted to test how it would blend with my jalapeno mead (to make a cucumber jalepeno mead).

Finally, just recently, I made an apple pie mead.  Tallow honey and apple cider with a secondary fermentation on apple pie spices.  I also added some sugar to add some complexity.  After primary it tasted pretty good.  I’m excited to see what some age and spices can do to it.  It came out to 16%, which I am pretty happy with.

Now I still have a bucket of honey to play with, and I’m contemplating what to do with it.  I’m thinking of an oatmeal raisin cookie mead aged on rum soaked oak chips.


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Update – 2/26/2014

Posted by Jeff on February 27, 2014

True to form… 6 months and I remember to update this blog.  Onward and upward…

Ok, where did I leave off last time… Ducktoberfest.  It didn’t turn out.  Had a fermentation issue that made the finished beer taste like I blended it with some butterscotch candies in secondary.  I powered through about 6 pints before I called it and announced the time of death.  Poured one (keg) out for the dead homies.

Ok, after that I made a beer which was inspired by Heretic’s Evil Twin.  I use the term “inspired” very lightly, because I’m certain the folks at Heretic wouldn’t want whatever that was that I brewed being associated with Evil Twin.  No fermentation issues this time.  But I think hop and malt substitutions destroyed whatever it is I was trying to make.  It found it’s way to the sewer as well, although I was able to kill half a keg.  Usually when I had already been drinking and really didn’t care about flavor anymore.

After that second failed beer I was starting to really hate my brewing self.  Nothing can quite put you out of the mood to brew like screwing up consecutive batches.  Well, then I decided I was going to make a Brown Sugga Clone.  I love that beer and have wanted to brew it for a while now.  Also, my homebrew club was doing a group buy on 5 gallon whiskey barrels from Balcones Distilling, and I figured that a 10% beer like that would be a perfect whiskey barrel beer.   So, I bought the ingredients, and thought about it, and came to the realization that I was really going to need a lot more yeast to really get this 10% beer fermented.  I figured I really should use the yeast do a small beer first, then pitch that yeast cake.  So, since the yeast was an English strain, I opted for one of my favorite (or favourite) styles, bitter.

Which brings us to the ESB.  I brewed it.  Fermented it.  Kegged it.  Then waited for my inevitable failure.  Alas, I was disappointed!  The beer wasn’t just good, it was damn good!  My faith in myself was, at least temporarily, restored!

So now I have the yeast and ingredients for the 10% beer… aaaaaand I get lazy and don’t brew it.  And then my daughter is born.  If you have never had a child then you probably don’t understand the sheer lack of willpower (or time) you have to do anything when tending to a newborn.  And so the ingredients sat.  And sat.  And sat.  3 months later, I finally brewed it.

Let’s explain some of the fun.  First, the ingredients are all old, at this point (they also got nibbled on by mice).  I forgot to put my false bottom in the mash tun, so after the mash, I had to dump out the grain, install the bottom, put the grain back, and then recirculate.  Needless to say, the beer is a bit cloudy.  Then, before my boil, I checked the gravity and found I was quite a bit low.  So I threw in as much DME as I had on hand to get it closer to where it needed to be.  Then I looked on the boil additions and realized I forgot to add the brown sugar.  Which would explain why the gravity was staggeringly low… and now it would be staggeringly high.  So… sugar in.  Check gravity.  Dilute back down to where I am supposed to be.  Then I let it boil for 15 minutes to help get all my number right, then threw in my 60 minute hops.  Wait… this sheet says first hops go in at 90 minutes.  This is supposed to be a 90 minute boil.  Of course it is.  Glad I just wasted time and boiled that extra 15 minutes.

The rest of the brewday went fine.  Relatively speaking.   Beer went into the carboy and the growler full of yeast went in.

The next evening I had expected the growler of yeast to cause an explosive fermentation of this 1.097 bomb.  It was not.  Mind you, the yeast is now 3 months old (although it was washed and kept at 31F.  So, to recap.  Old ingredients, mash issues, boil issues, fermentation issues.  I am curious to see if this will be an abomination, drinkable, or miraculously fantastic.

So that’s the beer update.  I have more on the mead front, but this post has been long, so I’ll wrap it up.

Until next time!  (I’m putting a button on my Favorites toolbar, so hopefully I won’t continue to forget)

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Update – 8/16/2013

Posted by Jeff on August 16, 2013

Greetings and salutations! 

Far be it for me to keep this blog up to date.  PBBBT!!  Oh well… here goes, anyways.

The “What’s on Tap” page (link on top) has been updated with current offerings. 

I recently bought a new chest freezer for the sole purpose of making lagers.  It is currently housing my first Oktoberfest beer!  I’m pretty excited about it.  It smells pretty good, so I have high hopes.  Can’t wait to start making Vienna Lagers and Helles-es.  I love those styles…

Aside from that, I have started to take a keen interest in mead.  I’ve brewed one or two, but I decided I want to try and start making small batch meads to keep around.  Also, when I travel I want to start bringing back 5 lbs of local honey and trying to make a simple mead from it to get some interesting regional meads (a nice souvenir, I think!)  Right now I have a Nova Scotia mead in the fermenter (used local Nova Scotia wildflower honey and just a hint of pure maple syrup… I had to.  Side note, the NS honey tasted very buttery. Curious to see how it will come out.)

Aside from that, not much is going on at TMBC.    I will update again (probably in another 6-7 months, since that seems to be how I roll…)

Until then, Cheers!

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Jalapeno Honey Wine

Posted by Jeff on February 23, 2013

Jalapeno Honey Wine

Added 12 grilled jalapenos (seeds and all) to 5 gallons of sweet mead.

So the Cane Island Alers recently had our annual Mead-ing (play on the word meeting… get it!?).  Last year I made a regular sweet mead with Texas tallow honey and it came out fantastic.  So this year I wanted to try something different.  Decided to try a capsicumel (mead made with hot peppers).  Decided on jalapenos as I like their flavor and they are abundant.  (I think I may try some 1 gallon experiments with habaneros and poblanos).

So the mead started of at about 1.090.  I was shooting for 1.100, but drank a few too many homebrews before brewing the mead… so my math was… fuzzy.  Oh well.

I pitched the yeast (Lavlin D47) on 2/28/13.  After about 10 days, gravity was down to 1.060 and I added the 12 sliced, grilled jalapenos. Checked it today (2/22/13) and the gravity is at 1.030.  Which is about where I want it.  I’m going to give it another week on primary, then transfer off the yeast & jalapenos.

As far as the sensory analysis… In terms of aroma… it’s not too good. Honey and jalapeno aromas don’t really play well together. Flavor is interesting. It’s definitely hot (12 peppers with seeds were added 2 weeks ago) and that is a great balance to the sweet, but I’m not sure how well the vegetal flavors from the jalapeno play with the honey. Granted, this is a YOUNG mead (and I can taste some sulfur notes) so I’ll be interested to try it in a few months when it cleans up a bit.

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Update! ZOMG!!1!!!

Posted by Jeff on November 5, 2012

Once again, reader, I return.  Fear not, for I bring updates!  Be not unwise unto them be… thine… thee… fortuitous in mine gracing of thee.  … I’m not sure where I was going with that.  Or why.

Anyways… here’s the update.  Actually, quote a lot has happened since my last posting… so brace yourself for a smattering of updates.

Hot Blonde On The River, Blonde Ale – You may remember this beer caught an infection.  Well, I decided to dump some peach extract in there and it actually made a REALLY good Peach Blonde ale.  The slight sour from the infection really paired well with the sweetness of the extract.  It shows to go ya that where there is a will, there is a way.

Black Betty v2.0, Black IPA – Officially polished this keg off.  It was an amazing beer and I recommend it to anyone.  Unfortunately, I did NOT rebrew and enter it in Dixie Cup… because I got busy (lazy).

I’d Tap That, Blonde Ale – This was the re-brew of Hot Blonde.  It came out well, but I just don’t particularly care for blondes (ales, that is).  Everyone else seems to enjoy it, though.

Ok, so those are the last beers you knew about (because you faithfully follow this blog).  Here are the new ones:

Munich Dunk-ALE – This was an experiment.  I took a Munich Dunkel recipe and tried it with German Ale yeast.  So far, the result has pretty much sucked.  It has a green apple flavor to it that isn’t pleasant.  We’ll see if it ages out.  I have one friend that likes it, so, if anything, he can just finish off the keg for me.

Sex Panther, Black Belgian IPA – Ok, this one I made for the No Label Brewing Co.’s pro-am competition.  Basically it is my Black Betty v2.0 with Belgian Yeast.  I used a  blend of WLP500 and WLP520… not on purpose, out of necessity.  It’s a good beer, but I didn’t have time to properly carbonate, so I used the “crank up the CO2 and shake the shit out of it” technique.  Hopefully it ends up fizzy enough to keep the judges attention.  I’m hoping the witty name and funny label help propel it forward.  (See below)   It is currently on tap.

Owen’s Oat Brown Ale – Yep, decided to pull this recipe out and give it another shot.  I enjoyed it the first time, but this time added a touch of chocolate malt to try and get it a bit more chocolatey.  Also, I toasted the oats this time.  I hear that helps give it a toasty flavor, which sounds good.  That one will be drinkable by the end of November.

Honeycrisp Cider – So I finally dumped the bad mead in my 2.5 gallon keg and decided I need to fill it… and cider sounded like a great idea.  I found some organic 100% honeycrisp apple juice at the HEB and, after tasting, decided that would make a great cider.  The yeast I used was a few days expired, so we’ll see how that affected things.  I’ll probably have that one ready around Christmas.

So that’s where we stand.  I’m thinking of brewing a Black Barleywine at the end of the year (to be enjoyed next year).  We shall see if that comes to fruition.

Until next time, cheers!

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Update – Black Betty v2.0 & Blonde Ale

Posted by Jeff on July 7, 2012

First off, I wanted to update on my previous post about Black Betty v2.0.  I freaking LOVE this beer.  Seriously.  I’m not even mad about how the water chemistry may have affected this beer, because I like it just the way it is!  I think this recipe is done tweaking and will get rebrewed for the Dixie Cup in the fall.

On to sadder news… I tried to brew a blonde ale for a trip to a river house with some friends.  Lo and behold, when I went to transfer from conical to keg, I found that I left the airlock stopper off the lid.


I hoped for the best but expected the worst… and I was greeted with a lovely layer of infection growing atop my beautiful blonde (ale).  Unfortunately, this beer was not going to be palatable to my friends going with me to the river house.  On a positive note, the infection wasn’t tasting too bad (yet).  It was still a bit thin and watery, but I think it will sour up nicely.  Maybe a nice, Berlinner-Blonde.  In any case, I never throw beer out… always give it some time to see where it goes.

I bought ingredients and will be re-brewing the blonde this weekend, hopefully with better results…

Here’s the recipe:

Hot Blonde On The River

5.5 Gallons – 60 min. Boil
Est. OG – 1.049
Est. IBU – 18.2

10 lbs – Two-Row (US)
0.5 lb – Crystal 15L (UK)
0.5 lb – Domestic Wheat Malt

1.0 oz. Tettnang – 4.8% AA – 60 min.

WLP001 California Ale – with 1200mL starter

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Black Betty v2.0

Posted by Jeff on May 23, 2012

As I mentioned while whining in my previous post, I recently brewed an American Black Ale.  Going back a few posts you will see I brewed Black Betty some time ago and it came out really well, but I wanted to try to make something with more hops and less malt complexity.  For the sake of argument, let’s say I wanted to brew something that was less Cascadian Dark Ale and more American Black Ale.  Not to be confused with a Black IPA… I feel like a Black IPA is just an IPA with some black malt in it and I wanted something a little more than that.  I find Cascadian Dark Ales to be more earthy with vegetal hop flavor.  I think “American Black Ale” is a good medium between the two.  But I digress…

Also, it just so happened that the Big Batch Brew Bash was coming up, and the style this year was American Black Ale.  So it was a good motivator to get it brewed.

So, I decided to dub it Black Betty v2.0.  Mostly because I like the name “BLack Betty” for a beer.  I’ll probably choose a new pin-up girl for the label this time… we’ll see what I can find.  Ok, so the recipe.  This is actually based off of a clone recipe for Stone’s Sublimely Self Righteous Ale (which I love).


Black Betty v2.0

6 Gallons, 60 min boil
EST OG: 1.080, EST IBU: 112.8
14.5 lbs. – Two Row (US)
1.0 lb. – Carafa III – De-Husked
0.75 lb. – Crystal 55L

2.0 oz. Chinook – 11.8%AAU – 60 min.
1.0 oz. Amarillo – 9.3%AAU – 15 min.
1.0 oz. Simcoe – 14.1%AAU – 15 min.
2.0 oz. Amarillo – Dry Hop
2.0 oz. Simcoe – Dry Hop

Yeast:  WLP001 California Ale (Pitched yeast cake from previous batch of pale ale)

Mash: 153F for 60 min.


Brew day went alright.  I over sparged so my pre-boil gravity was low, causing me to have to add some DME to the boil.  I ended up with a 1.077 beer, rather than a 1.080 beer.  Worse things have happened, I suppose.

As I mentioned, I had planned to enter this beer into the Big Batch Brew Bash, but I made one crucial error that killed the whole thing… water.  Read my previous post on water chemistry for an explanation, but basically the beer came out tasting flat.  I was really looking for more from the hops, but water chemistry has a sneaky way of taking that away from you.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good beer, just not hoppy enough to be a contender in a competition, so I decided not to enter it.  It’s now on draft here at the brewery.

So, I guess next time I’ll try adding some water salts in and see how that helps.  In the meantime, cheers!

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Water Chemistry Can Kiss My Ass

Posted by Jeff on May 23, 2012

The title says it all.  But allow me to further my point, anyways.

I used to use the water that came from  my hose to make beer.  The water that comes from my hose is very hard and full of minerals.  Hard water tends to harshen the beer by accentuating harsh bitterness and lending a mineral-like flavor.

So I switched to water from a large Windmill dispenser in front of the local grocery.  That water touts that it is filtered a bajillion different ways and apparently, some have tested this and found it true.  So I started using it. Lo and behold, now I don’t have ENOUGH minerals in my water.

Unfortunately, this means that the last two beers I made, an American Pale Ale and a Black IPA, both which are meant to showcase some crispness and hops, were both flat and mediocre.  I know it’s my fault… but I can still be angry about it, damnit.  On the other hand, my imperial coffee chocolate stout came out awesome.  So… there’s that.

I’ve tried to avoid it, but it looks like I finally have to learn about water chemistry.  Lame.

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Update 4-14-2012

Posted by Jeff on April 14, 2012

I know.  I am quite inept at continuous updates to this blog… but I try.  Honestly.  For starters, I have updated my “What’s On Tap” page.  Secondly, I’ve added a picture of my completed brewstand to the Photos page (a full album of the build can be found at the link a few posts back).  And thirdly, I’m here to update you!

Ok, well, the last update was back in November after Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam).  She was a great beer.  I did send it off to a competition, but the judges said it wasn’t hoppy enough.  I disagree and thought it had a nice balance, but, such is the way.  Anyway, that beer has long since been tapped out.

Back in December I brewed my famous Pumpkin Ale.  Not the BCS one I did last year, but the good recipe from 2009 & 2010.  The one where I actually cut up and roast pumpkin to add to the beer.  It turned out great, although I brewed it late and still had the majority of a keg left after the holiday season had passed (and by then, who’s really in the mood for pumpkin beer?).

Ok, then I brewed the Tallow mead with my homebrew club in January.  February I made a “dark steam ale” which was an experimental recipe to make a black steam ale, but it didn’t turn out well.  Then I brewed an imperial chocolate coffee oatmeal stout… which turned out just phenomenal (more on that later).   Then recently I’ve brewed my American Pale Ale and just last week brewed a black IPA.

So that’s the update.  I’m going to call this post a win and start a new one to talk about individual beers.



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Update: 11-22-2011

Posted by Jeff on November 22, 2011

Greetings all ye who happened to stumble upon this site.  Even you, guy who was just trying to Google pictures of parched fowl and somehow landed here…

A lot has happened since my last update, so I feel obliged to tie up some loose ends.  First of all, the Black Betty turned out fan-damn-tastic!  The malt had a good subtle roast note and was complex enough to keep my attention and then… BLAM… hops.  I just kicked this keg the other day.  For my first foray into the Black IPA series, I think it went well.  I did enter it in the Bluebonnet Brew Off, where it got good scores, but didn’t win any awards.  Judges said they thought it needed more hop presence.  I disagree.  I like it just the way it is.

After that, myself and a friend of mine who is a fellow homebrewer and CIA club member, Caleb, decided to team up and brew a couple beers for the Dixie Cup.  We had aspirations of winning team awards, but it was not meant to be.

In total we brewed:

Once You Go Schwarz, You Never Go Pils – Schwarzbier:  Caleb and I love this beer, but the judges did not.  That was a dissapointment.  I think it averaged a 28.

Why The Helles Not? – Munich Helles:  Judges liked this one, and it made it to the second round… but no medal.  Averaged 36, I believe.

Alt’erior Motives – Dusseldorf Alt:  We brewed this one to play the odds (least entered beer style last year).  It also fared poorly.  Averaged 26, I think.

Uncle Pliny Touched Me – Imperial IPA:  A Pliny clone.  Surprisingly, the judges thought it was too hoppy… averaged 32, if I remember.

All in all, it was fun to brew some different styles and brewing with 2 people tends to make brewing easier (especially bottling day).  We split what was left after the entries were in and I’m just about tapped out of everything.  So… time to get back to brewin’!

Last week I brewed my Holiday Pumpkin Ale.  I’ll dedicate my next blog post to that one as I feel this post has gone on long enough.  I’d like to brew on Friday (off for Thanksgiving) but can’t decide on what to brew.  I’m kinda feeling like something with chocolate in it.  Or, Bugeater’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Amber.

Stay tuned for updates…



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