The Epic Giant Catfish Debacle

Every disaster is caused by something, the Titanic had ice, the Hindenberg had hydrogen and we had Buckhorn Beer.  Five bucks a case, a fraction over a pair of dimes per can, it was cold, it was wet, it was beer, we were teenagers, appreciation of flavor would come later in life.  Catfishing along the shores of Lake Belton was prime Buckhorn time, along with bad jokes, exaggerated stories and really bad ideas.

Now we’d all heard the stories about the giant catfish that lived deep down at the bottom of the dam, and we’d done our damndest to catch one but we’d always come up empty, and I can’t recall any of those times that went well.  Well, they were normally funny but they didn’t proceed to any given plan.  We’d lost a few poles, one tore right off of a boat with the holder, so we were convinced that there was something big down there, and somebody was always catching a record-breaking catfish, so why couldn’t there be some big bad boys lurking down below the inside of the dam?  There were always the stories of divers seeing them when they did inspections, even a story of one swallowed to the waist and spit back out.  Mind you, we never actually spoke to any of the divers, but after the third beer those details always seemed pretty pointless.

We came back to the same aspect of the story that was the theme to them all, somebody was in the water and saw it.  So, who was going to be the bait?  I was out; I was meeting up with a girl that worked at an all-night diner at 6 the next morning.  Buck was out, he was the only one of us that passed for old enough to buy beer and we didn’t want his looks to draw questions if we needed more beer.  Scooter was out, he couldn’t swim and wasn’t in the mood to learn at night.  That left the kid we called LaDouche.  He didn’t earn his nickname because he was in modern terms, a douche, nobody called anyone a douche in those days, he got that nickname because he asked his girlfriend to go fetch him something cold to drink and when she didn’t like his tone he said it again with a few bells and whistles.

Actually, he was a douche, we may have been a little ahead of our time.

Anyway, she went and made him a cold drink, Cragmont (very very cheap Kool-aid knock-off) drink powder poured in a glass of Summer’s Eve, without sugar.  He got three gulps down and the muscles in his throat went into reverse and he blew most of it back out through his nose, presumably leaving his sinuses as fresh as a summer breeze.  They didn’t last another 3 minutes as a couple, and now that you mention it, she was the one I was going to see after she finished work in the morning, but we digress.

So, we rifled around the back of a couple of pickups and came up with everything that we needed: rope, inner tube, fishing line a bunch of hooks, weights and a couple of glow sticks.  Then all we had to do was convince LaDouche to be the bait, and you’d think that since LaDouche didn’t drink that would be a problem.  By the way, it wasn’t that he didn’t like beer but he was staying with his granny for the summer and if he came home smelling like beer she’d sit him down and read him every passage from the bible about the sin of drinking and then drag him off to a revival meeting to get baptized, again.

The trick with LaDouche was to simply look at him and say, “I knew you were all talk and no balls,” and that little phrase would get him to do some of the stupidest stuff imaginable.  Anything from eating stink bait to standing up his girlfriend to hang out with us. Come to think of it we weren’t very good friends but his granny was a sweet woman that asked us every summer to let him tag along with us, and she made amazing pecan pie, so we took him out and tortured him when the fun meter started getting low.

So, those nine words had him out in the lake, in the dark, sunk in an inner tube to his armpits with fishing lines hanging off of it, some ending with baited hooks a couple with glow sticks.  It was nice and quiet as we watched him bobbing around out there, he drifted for a while to our left but them he stopped so we didn’t worry much about it, we just figured that he’d found a calm spot in the water.  Meanwhile, under the water, a bunch of crappie happened by and suddenly they found something interesting, light drew them in and curious they went for the bait, and LaDouche’s bare toes.  He felt something nibble his toes and let out a shriek that would have done Newt, the little girl in Aliens, proud.  The, to our amazement he came up out of the water and appeared to run across it almost making it to shore before the rope went taut and snatched him off of his feet.

“What the f…” Scooter said before I cut him off with a heartfelt “Holy sh…” and Buck jumped up “I think he caught something, and ran around the bank, we were soon in hot pursuit.  He had indeed caught something, a couple of nice-sized crappie were hooked on a few of the lines and were just as stunned as LaDouche and probably perplexed to no end as to what happened.  Turns out that the lake was really high and there was a temporary dock that the Corps of Engineers had towed over for some work they were going to do, they’d anchored it when the water was lower so it was about 3” under water, and invisible to us where we sat.  He’d drifted over to the dock and held onto it so he wouldn’t drift all over.  When the crappie ‘attacked’ he’d just rolled onto the dock and up onto his feet and took off.

We gathered up LaDouche and headed back to our poles, but instead of four, there were only three.  We had been careful, we drove a stake in for each pole and had a length of cord from the stakes to the poles, but one pole, stake, rope and all had been dragged into the lake.  Well crap!  We missed our chance!  Nobody was going back out in the water so we were talking about frying up the crappie when we heard a long, gawdawful wail from the other side of the dam.

“Oh hell,” Scooter said quietly.  “It’s the Goatman!”

Now none of us really believed in the Goatman, but we were low on bait and out of beer, so there wasn’t any reason to stick around now was there?

© 2009 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.


Review: Ram Restaurant and Brewery

We found ourselves running around Meridian and the growling of our stomachs told us that dinner wouldn’t wait any longer.  We don’t find ourselves in Meredian all that often so we only had a few ideas of where we could go, but then a sign popped up on the left, Ram Restaurant and Brewery.  Everyone that knows me is already aware of my views on beer, the smaller the brewery the better the beer, so the thought of having a beer at the scene of the brew grabbed my attention in a hurry.

First of all the place looks sharp, inside and out; and, we were whisked off to a table as soon as we came in.  This could be good timing on our part but it was obviously busy.  The wait was a little long, as I said it was busy, but I sat entranced by the beer menu.  I ignored the part that covered other people’s beer and concentrated on the local stuff, so imagine my delight when I saw they had a sampler of all six of their beers, 30 total ounces in six glasses.  I just wish I remember the name of the sampler from the menu.  I brew my own, so the style guide isn’t a stranger to me, but it’s rare that I get a chance to sink my taste buds into a selection like this.  First of all, I don’t care for hoppy beers, so I went for them first.

  • 71 Pale Ale was very crisp the hops were forward which is correct for the style and even though I’m not a fan of hoppy beers this was smooth enough that I could overlook it and appreciate the quality.
  • Big Red I.P.A was also a hoppy beer without yielding to the temptation of being a hop grenade, which many brewers don’t manage that well.  It was a clear, sharp beer with an assertive hop presence that didn’t distract from the quality of the brew.
  • A little less down the hop scale was Big Horn Hefeweizen, unfiltered and true to style with a blend of hops to malt closer to neutral than the previous styles, a fine flavor that I could see enjoying on a hot day.
  • Big Horn Blonde is a sweeter beer, more malt forward and correct to style with an excellent crisply sweet flavor.
  • Buttface Amber Ale is normally a little hoppier than my tastes run toward, but this pulled it off well, it hit hoppy but finished a touch sweeter to leave a pleasant confusion among the taste buds, they weren’t sure what hit them but they were ready to try it again.
  • Porters and Scottish ales are my brew of choice, so I saved Total Disorder Porter for last, it’s a perfect balance of hop to malt, coming in at 25 IBUs and the flavor curled my toes.  This may just nudge my favorite porter from its throne, it’ll probably take a growler or two before I can say for sure, but this is undoubtedly the smoothest porter I’ve tasted yet.

The only thing that could have made the array of beers I had any finer would have been a good Belgian sour or lambic, but they can count on seeing more of me, and I’ll be marking out a section of my beer fridge out for Total Disorder, and maybe a bit of Buttface.  I’ll have to see if I can watch the brewing one of these days, no better way to geek out a homebrewer.

The food, yes we did eat, Kim and I both ordered 1 pound burgers, she had the Extreme Bronco Burger, it came loaded with cheddar, lettuce and tomato, hold the onion and pickle, and they did and she got a side of guacamole, which made her day complete.  The raspberry milk shake put it over the top foe her.  She was smart enough to stop at half, I was not.

I had an Extreme Big Dawg Burger, also weighing in at a pound and this bad boy was fully dressed out, bacon, cheddar, sautéed mushrooms, onions and pickles and I got to choose the condiments, a little mustard and I was good to go.  It was so good I didn’t realize I was stuffed until I was done, a massive burger and a side of onion rings and life was complete.

Normally the fastest way for any eatery to irritate me is to charge for the coffee I like to savor after I eat, but this time I was still well pleased, it was a large cup of dark rich brew that made you realize that they didn’t skimp on the quality.

The beer selection was outstanding, they covered the basics that most beer drinkers look for and did it with class and flavor.  The food was excellent, I completely respect their notion that you should leave stuffed when you’re paying good money.  It was clean, cheerful and pleasant all around.  Two big thumbs up and I’ll be back!

© 2009 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.


Brewing Report

Memorial Day was a bit of a brewer’s report card for me, and here’s the results of a tasting session:

The Lemon Head was interesting, it went too sweet which surprised me because sitting on the yeast with that much sugar it should have gone much deeper into the alcohol flavors, but it just might be that the acids and bitterness of the lemons combined with the alcohol it fermented as high as the yeast could and the rest was leftover sugar, it also didn’t carbonate much. Next time I think I’ll brew a high gravity beer then back flavor it.  I think it got an OK rating and Shae went home with the few bottles I’d put together.

Bragg’s Golden Braggot, braggot is a mead (honey wine) and malted drink (beer) at once. It went very dry and had a strong wine flavor, next time I go higher gravity on the beer side as this batch was mostly honey for fermentables, it was 6:1 honey to malt, I think I’ll bump that up to 2:1 next time with a slightly more assertive hop.  Key took home a 6 pack and I’m aging about 18 mor 12 oz bottles, I’ll call it a successful batch though.

Sour Puss Lambic definately had the funky sour tastes but was too light on the fruit flavors, I put in about 8 lbs of fruit but the yeast and souring cultures seemed to eat them all up.  When I popped the lid on the fermenter the scent was pure lambic, so I hit that perfectly, but lesson learned was to have a fruit concentrate on hand to back flavor it.  We tried mixing a lingonberry concentrate and it balanced up very easily with only a few drops to a 2 oz taster.  I’ll go mixed on this, its technicall correct, the flavor needs work, and nobody wanted any to take with them.

The Hard Apple Cider followed a trand of mine of going very fry, meaning high alcohol, I had to back sweeten it with soft cider, but next time I’ll use concentrate.  This was one of the better recieved and Kit got the rest of the batch to take home.  Next time, sour green apple cider.

The Red Death Melomel, a fruit mead, went very dry and the alcohol flavor is a bit of a knee in the groin.  It all stayed home with me.

The Holiday Cyser was a bit of a surprise, its mead and hard cider in one, with a spiced flavor that comes from a little cinnamon and a mix of honey and apple, it came out rather sweet and I’d cut that down by blending in a few cups of strong tea as the tannins reduce the cloying element of the sweetness.  It went rather well, expecially with those that like sweet spicy drinks.  Shae took home a half gallon and I have another gallon aging in the brew fridge.

After my last batch of Scotish 60/- (60 shilling) fermented out badly I was a little nervous when I tried my first Porter.  I’d rounded up the ingredients fresh in Seattle and brewed it up, I think I pulled it out of the fermenter a little early and it hadn’t finished conditioning, I compressed a three week process into two when it was all said and done, but it came out very well despite.  It was flat when we tried it but the flavor was very pleasant even then, I’d intentionally kept the hop profile a little lower than the brew shop’s recipe, to keep it in line with Black Butte Porter, but the malt really came through well.  Its a mild ale, a little light in color but I fan fix that with the steep next time, but it goes down really well.  I force carbonated it in the tap a draft and it is a gamned good ale, but a little heavy on a hot day.

As far as ales go, I may just have to alternate between 60/- and Porter.  Well, the 60/- in the summer and the porter in fall and winter.

Over all, I think I have a way to go, but pretty good for a brewer with under a year to his credit.

© 2009 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.