Brewing Winter

I knew what was in store for me on last Thursday.  We’d been closed since New Year’s Eve and were on schedule to open on Friday. That meant cooking and prepping on Thursday. There was going to be post oak smoke drifting around Old Town and people that didn’t get the message about us being closed were going to pull in, see and smell smoke, and walk up to the door only to discover we are closed. I hated that feeling for them and me.

I thought about just hanging out back by the Black October to avoid face to face encounters with hangry peoples. I did have a lot of stuff to do and some of that stuff to do included bringing down Christmas decorations. It was time to stick a fork in the 2016 holiday season. The Christmas decorations were out in the front yard by where all the hangry people would be coming. At least I’d look busy is how reconciled how the day was going to shape up.

Flick was done no matter how you want to look at it.

It looked like the New Year’s Eve got the best ole Flick. One of the disappointed barbecue shoppers looked like Flick did when the not open today discovery happened. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. One couple drove over from Humble to eat our food. I felt terrible about that. Most people were very understanding of the need for us to have a few days away to gather up some energy, and the day of prep needed to restart The Craftory.

My son Austin is now working in the kitchen, busing tables, cleaning up stuff, cooking some stuff, and for this day helping dad take down the decorations. The putting up decorations is fun and volunteers are eager. The taking down decorations reminds me of when calling on friends to help with a move…not so eager anymore. Austin and I got it all done on what turned out to be a damp dreary day. Not slipping off a wet ladder rung was just one of the many victories of the day.

Starting fires with my magic fire wand warmed me up a bit.

Yes its a lazy way to start a fire. It’s called evolution. We’ve come a long way since rubbing sticks together. Besides, how is a Pitmaster going to hold a beer if both hands are tied up rubbing sticks together.

A couple of fresh bags of black pepper did the warming trick too.

Those are 5 pound bags of black pepper. There are two different size grinds because we like pepper in more than one size. Makes things interesting. We really don’t use a ton of pepper. We use about 3 fingers pepper over 2 fingers salt. That’ll season about 6-8 briskets for us. That’s all my special shaker bottle will hold at one time. I reload it when runs out and there are more briskets to season. I reload the shaker a lot.  I wouldn’t know how to season a brisket without my shaker bottle. I’m not much in the mood to screw with doing it another way anytime soon unless I had to, and then I would.

Here’s a guy who uses some black pepper.

That’s Russel Roegels. He’s been in the barbecue business for more than 20 years. His place is on Voss right next to Killen’s new STQ restaurant which is in the same space that used to be Mancuso Italian Table where Chef Greg was running the place before leaving to make chocolate bars. Small world eh. Anyways, go eat at Roegels Barbecue. Russel and wife Misty are awesome people and their food is fantastic. They make bold beautiful barbecue. Michelle and I stopped by on our day off to say hello and take a pit tour. Russel has two giant cookers and it was fun talking smoke with him. It was cold enough so that I could wear a coat heavy enough to help camouflage my man boobs. That’s helpful for when there’s picture taking going on. Man boobs aren’t my best feature nor are they photogenic.

On Thursday, I ran the cooker until beer thirty and turned the day over to Chef Greg.

This week a very special beer hit the shelves. Saint Arnold Brewery released a Blue Icon series beer that is a chocolate weizenbock. This a wheat bock that was brewed with the addition of cocoa nibs they sourced from us and they were happy to shout out about the collaboration.

The label is a tad tricky to read, but you can see in the close up that Saint Arnold was kind enough to mention Tejas Chocolate on their label. Bishop Barrel No.4 was a stud of a beer from a few years ago. I miss it terribly. This Blue Icon captures the essence of that beer. The difference between barrel aging and not barrel aging is more noticeable than I would have given credit to the value of barrel aging. It made me fully appreciate the effort and patience to barrel age a beer. I think its best to let this new Blue Icon warm a bit out of the cooler. The banana and chocolate notes open up as the beer cascades and warms after a pour. That’s been my experience with this beer thus far as I’ve been doing some beer product evaluations. We grabbed a few cases of Blue Icon last week so stop by and give this one a go. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Well the door is open on 2017.

I’ve only screwed up one check so far. That’s because I don’t write many checks anymore. I can recall some years at the kitchen table where I was putting the wrong date on checks well into February while I was writing to pay bills. Sometimes I’d do it on purpose just to keep the lights on until the next paycheck. I am supposed to use the printer like Michelle would prefer I do, but sometimes I’m in a hurry to write a check for a delivery. I choked on the first check of the year for 2017. It was cold. I lost focus.

And man did it ever get cold Friday and Saturday. That freeze seemed to sneak up on everyone including the weather man. Now they’re saying it will be 80 this coming Friday. Don’t know that I recall 22 and 80 in the same week before. Having all four seasons in one week for the second time this winter makes me want to reach for another beer. We shall see how that all shakes out.

Last thing I want to mention is that we are having a special Valentine’s Day dinner at The Craftory. This is a sit down full service dinner with 5 courses. Beer and wine pairings with each course. It is the first dinner in a series of what I’m calling The Tejas Quarterly. Each calendar quarter we will have a fancy smancy sit down dinner where we smoke your brains out with stupid good barbecue. Valentines Day is Quarterly #1. It’s $85 a head. If you are interested get on this. I posted it today and have 8 seats sold already. That was before I was ready to take a sale on the Valentine Day Quarterly Fancy Smancy barbecue dinner. The QFS has a nice ring to it.

Cheers! Scott


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