Fredericksburg, TX

Vereins Kirche in Fredericksburg
The Vereins Kirche in Fredericksburg is a replica of an earlier public building that served as a church for all denominations, fort, school, and town hall.

We recently made a trip down to Fredericksburg, and had a great time! It is one of the places that we had talked about visiting, but never made plans to actually go. We decided a trip during the week of Valentine’s would be fun, and started making plans.

We stayed a couple of blocks from Main Street, so we were able to walk to a lot of the places we went. We stayed in a small house (Adams Travis House) that was perfect for us. Really, we didn’t spend much time in the house because we spent a lot of time out and about around town. Being close to Main Street was great because we could walk to a lot of the shops and restaurants.

One of our first stops was the Fredericksburg Brewery to try their brews. We did samplers of all their beers, and were really impressed. We especially liked the Fritztown Brown Ale, Not So Dumb Blonde Ale, and Peacepipe Pale Ale. Afterwards, we walked another block to Auslander for an excellent dinner. Another restaurant we really enjoyed was Der Lindenbaum (Note: it’s cash only). We went on Valentine’s evening for an early dinner. It’s a smaller restaurant and we didn’t want to wait, so we opted to dine earlier than we normally do.

Relaxing on the front porch of the Adams Travis House.
Relaxing on the front porch of the house we stayed in while visiting Fredericksburg.

One day we visited the National Museum of the Pacific War, and it was a really great museum. I love visiting museums, so this was a top spot for me. It took us a while to go through the George Bush Gallery (main museum), and then we walked around the grounds to see the Memorial Courtyard, Plaza of Presidents, and Japanese Garden of Peace. We also walked through the Admiral Nimitz Museum, but that didn’t take very long. In all it was a little more than half day thing for us.

Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead at the LBJ State Park.
Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead at the LBJ State Park.

Another day we visited the LBJ State Park & National Historical Park. That was a lot of fun, and we saw more than I had planned on seeing. I knew about the Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead (living history farm), which was the main reason I wanted to go, but I didn’t know about some of the other things. The park is a working ranch, so be aware of the livestock that roams the grounds. We stopped at the visitor center and got a CD for the self-guided tour (free, just return the CD when you finish). Then we drove the the park listening to the CD and learning more about the history of the area. We did stop at each of the sites (one-room Junction School, reconstructed birthplace, Johnson family cemetery, Show Barn, and Texas White House). The Park Service offers a tour of the Texas White House ($3 per person) that we took. They’ve modeled the house as it would have been in the 1960’s during Johnson’s presidency, not during the 2000’s when Lady Bird passed away. All-in-all, it was a great day trip. It’s about 15 miles east of Fredericksburg, so a short drive, and with all the stops we finished mid afternoon.

Wineries. So many wineries in the Fredericksburg area. We did visit two, Woodrose Winery and Grape Creek Vineyards. Both are located on Highway 290 east of Fredericksburg. Honestly, we were a bit disappointed in Woodrose. While the ambiance was good, the wine wasn’t great. They do a table top service, which was nice because the other wineries don’t offer that. They also have a sweet golden retriever that laid near our table and occasionally stopped by to be loved on. We tasted all of the wines they offered, and several of them had too much sediment. Our favorite wines at Woodrose were the Texas Port, White Merlot, and Sea Breeze. For Grape Creek, the ambiance was okay, and the wine was good. They had a nice bar to walk up and taste their wines. We each had a wine tasting and also enjoyed a glass while sitting on their outdoor patio. Our favorite wines at Grape Creek were the Grand Rouge, Bellissimo, and Cabernet Blanc. We did not have time to take a tour of any of the wineries, which would have been a lot of fun and added to the experience. Maybe next time we’re in the area we can make a tour.

Another stop along the way (or rather slightly out of the way, but close enough to go see) was Luckenbach. Not much to see during the day. Maybe if you go on a Friday or Saturday night when they have live performances. But now we’ve been to Luckenbach… where everybody’s somebody. It was worth stopping by, and is about a 15 minute drive from Fredericksburg.

Longhorn Cavern State Park
Entrance to the Longhorn Cavern.

Our last detour was on the way back home. The Longhorn Cavern State Park was another slight detour, but well worth it. We got there just in time for the last tour of the day. It was a fun tour, and I think that both the science and the history of the cave were really interesting. For instance, science-wise I enjoyed seeing the different geologic formations and the hibernating bats, while history-wise I learned it had been used as a speakeasy during Prohibition and was a Civilian Conservation Corps project during the 1930’s, who did a lot of the work that is what you see today while on the tour.

All-in-all, we had a great vacation. We got to go to new places and try new things. There is much more to see in the area, and a trip back would be a lot of fun.

Bottling Day – Hefeweizen Homebrew

It’s time to bottle the hefeweizen we brewed a couple of weeks ago! We prefer to bottle our beer rather than keg. Mainly because we like to share our brews with family and friends. Normally, we get 53 or 54 12-ounce bottles out of a 5 gallon batch of beer.

The morning of the day we bottled, we placed the carboy on the counter top with a cardboard box over it. This way, the sediment that was disturbed while moving the carboy settled back down before we bottled. The cardboard box was just to keep the beer in the dark because our kitchen gets a lot of sunlight.

Sanitized bottles.
Sanitized bottles.
Bottling equipment.
Bottling equipment.
Hefeweizen ready to be bottled.
Ready to be bottled!

Before bottling, we sanitized all bottling equipment.

After everything was sanitized, we prepared the priming sugar (corn sugar). Priming sugar is added to carbonate the beer. This was prepared by bringing 2 cups of water to a boil and adding the corn sugar. After adding the sugar, we let it boil for another couple of minutes until the sugar was dissolved. Then we removed the priming sugar from the heat and cooled it down to less than 80°F.

Adding corn sugar (priming sugar) to the boiling water.
Adding corn sugar (priming sugar) to the boiling water.
Cooling the priming sugar.
Cooling the priming sugar to less than 80°F.
Adding priming sugar to bottling bucket.
Adding priming sugar to bottling bucket.








Bottling bucket filling with homebrew.
Bottling bucket filling with homebrew.
Transferring homebrew to bottling bucket.
Transferring homebrew to bottling bucket.

When the priming sugar was ready, we added it to the bottling bucket first and then transferred the hefeweizen from the carboy. We added the priming sugar first for better mixing with the hefeweizen. When transferring the beer, we tried not to disturb any of the sediment on the bottom of the carboy.

When the transfer was finished, we moved the bottling bucket to the counter and hooked up some tubing – one end to the spigot and the other end to a bottle filler. Once everything was attached, we began filling the bottles. We have a system where one of us fills the bottle and passes it to the other, who then caps the bottle. After the bottles were all capped, we placed the beer in a dark closet for storage while carbonation takes place.

Finished bottling!
Finished bottling!
Ready to cap the homebrew.
Ready to cap the homebrew.
Filling a bottle with homebrew.
Filling a bottle with homebrew.

Hefeweizen Homebrew

Heating Water
Heating water to 155°F.

We brewed up a hefeweizen last week, and below are the steps we followed.  The steps described are for extract brewing.

First, we sanitized all equipment that we use for our home brewing. After everything was sanitized, we filled a stainless steel pot with 2 gallons of water and heated it to 155°F.

Steep Grains
Steeping the grains.

While the water was heating, we made sure the grain bag was ready. We used 1/2 pound each of cara-pils and white wheat. Once the water was heated, we turned off the heat and soaked the grains in the hot water for 25 minutes. While soaking the grains, we lifted the bag in and out of the water to steep. Once the 25 minutes was up, we lifted the bag out of the water and placed it in a strainer over the pot to let water drip back into the pot. When it was finished we discarded the grains and added another gallon of water to the pot and brought the mixture to boiling.

Liquid Malt Extract
Liquid malt extract.

Dry Malt Extract
Dry malt extract.

Once the mixture was boiling, we turned off the heat and added the malt extracts. We used both a dry malt (2 lbs wheat DME) and a liquid malt (5 lbs wheat extract). We continuously stirred the mixture while pouring in the malts to prevent burning. This step is easier with two people because one can pour in the malts while the other stirs.

Once the malts were dissolved, we returned the mixture to a boil. Once a good rolling boil was established, we added the hops.

Rolling Boil
Rolling boil.

Weighed hops.

Tettnang hops were used (2/3 oz for bittering and 1/3 oz for aroma). The bittering hops were added first and a timer was set for 60 minutes. After 45 minutes, flavor hops were added.

Cooling Wort
Cooling the wort.

When the boil time finished, we removed the pot from the heat and placed it in an ice bath to cool down to 80°F. This usually takes us about 30-40 minutes. We used a large metal tub filled with cold water and set the stainless pot in it with the lid on the pot. Then we placed ice and ice packs in the water around the pot to help bring the temperature down.

Transfer Wort
Transferring the wort to a primary fermentor.

The cooled wort was poured into a primary fermenter and cool water was added to bring the volume to 5 gallons. We used a 6 gallon glass carboy as the primary fermenter and poured the wort through a strainer to help stop sludge in the pot from entering the carboy. When the carboy was full, we stirred the wort to mix well with the added water.

After stirring, we checked the specific gravity using our hydrometer.

Fermenting Homebrew
Fermenting the homebrew.

Carboy with airlock.

Last, we pitched the yeast. We used a dry yeast (Munich German wheat) that we poured directly into the carboy and stirred the wort so it was well mixed. After mixing well, we placed an airlock that contained water on top and stored the carboy for fermentation. The liquid in the airlock provides a barrier against contamination. We store our brew in a temperature controlled chest freezer. We keep the temperature around 70°F for brewing our ales.

My First Post

I’ve wanted to have a blog for a long time, and here it is! Yay! My wonderful husband got this site set up and gave it to me as a birthday gift. So, now I’m trying to learn my way around and figure out how to do it.
A bit about me… My name is Darinda, I’m recently married (May 2012), I live in East Texas, I belong to a beautiful chocolate lab named Belle, and I have numerous interests. I was born and raised in The South (Louisiana) and love all things southern. My education is in science (BS and MS in environmental science), and I like to keep up with current environmental topics and research. I’m not currently employed, so I’m getting the chance to enjoy being a housewife and do all the things that I never seemed to have time for when I was working.

I’ve enjoyed reading blogs by others and have often thought it would be fun to write about the things that interest me. I will be posting about various topics, including home brewing, gardening, DIY projects, and family. In time, I hope to have a site where I enjoy blogging and others enjoy visiting.