arkansas, Beer, craft beer, Uncategorized

Earl Grey ESB, an Arkansas collaboration

Another 3:30 AM alarm, another large coffee made, another moment of thought “why didn’t I pack more the night before?” Where’s my wallet? I can never find my wallet. And also, don’t forget the tea!


Don’t leave the tea Moody!

Wiped the snow off the car, a rarity this time of year in Little Rock, and on the cold road by 4. I have become somewhat of an audio connoisseur for these road trips. This American Life, Planet Money, and the latest This American Life spinoff Serial has become my latest obsession for the road (No, Adnon didn’t do it, something is still fishy with Jay, but there’s something else to the story, in my opinion).
Strange looks from the gas station attendants (I wore my brewer’s boots and shorts in sub freezing weather) who nonetheless filled my bad coffee and worse egg burrito order. Still figuring out the best stops on I40 — nights at Alma gas stations are a no go by the way.
To Apple Blossom Brewing Company in north Fayetteville, AR by 8 and ready to get the brew day started. I had been talking with the owners (a great group of guys) and the then Head Brewer Nathan Traw (now at Core Brewing Company) about a collaboration for some time now. I had been drinking more tea than I usually do, some for research, but had been steadily sipping Earl Grey tea. The more I drank, the more I wanted. And so, I brought up the idea of doing a beer with Earl Grey tea, and the boys were on board. Yes, that’s right, a tea beer. Has an Arkansas brewery made one yet? Not that I recall. We agreed to maintain the British theme and settled on an earl grey Extra Special Bitter.

Apple Blossom's bakers toasted these oats perfectly!

Apple Blossom’s bakers toasted these oats perfectly!

As in cooking, brewing great beer starts with great ingredients. We wanted to retain the identity of this truly classic style, so we kept our target ABV to a sessionable mid 5% ABV, used floor malted British Maris Otter base malt, pulled the resident Apple Blossom Bakery’s help to lightly toast oats the day before to lend a big body and nuttiness to the malt profile. I thought, let’s make the best ESB base we can make, really emphasize the malt characteristics of that style.

We used British Kent Goldings hops because we really thought their earthy nature would play well with the earthy black tea. For once, I held restraint on the amount, keeping it traditional, because we wanted the aromatic profile to be all about the tea. Not just Bigelow or Kroger brand tea that I usually get–Davidson’s organic with real Bergamot oil. Derived from the Bergamot tree native to Calabria, Southern Italy, Bergamot oil and black tea make up the English favourite Earl Grey tea. Cold pressed, real Bergamot extract has an intense aroma of citrus fruits lemon, orange, and grapefruit. A couple of pounds were added at the last minute on the hot side (again, we wanted to imbue some real tea flavor in the bitterness and flavor of the brew), but we reserved the lion’s share for dry hopping. What I mean by dry hopping, is that in about a week or so, once the ESB has been fully or nearly fully fermented, we’ll rack the non-carbonated beer onto a new, sanitized vessel filled with about a pound per barrel of tea. This will, over the course of about a week, imbue the flavor and aroma of the tea without adding bitterness to the beer.
I digress. We still had to brew it.  Brew day went swimmingly!

weighing out hops

weighing out hops





No stuck mashes (oats can give some systems hell), no boil overs, we hit our target gravities, I ate a great lunch from the kitchen (Apple Blossom kitchen staff knows how to cook!), had a smooth knockout to the fermenter.

Merlot barrel aging Trippel

Merlot barrel aging Trippel

I got to sample some of Apple Blossom’s experimental ales conditioning in their wine barrels. Whew! An oaked trippel that tasted like delicious Cognac, and a rustic, funky, soured, oaked Pale that was developing some really complex flavors.

very complex and very tasty brews coming from these guys

very complex and very tasty brews coming from these guys

The only hang up was that couple pounds of tea clogging up the floor drain during clean up. Sammie and I spent a solid hour on hands and knees, scooping and straining tea leaves from the trüb by hand to help it drain. Next time, we agreed: we bag the tea.


I spy the correct original gravity!


the most important job in the brewery: cleaning

And so there we had it! Arkansas’ first Central – Northwest AR collaboration ale was in the fermenter, wort becoming beer.


now fermenting: Moody Brews + Apple Blossom’s Earl Grey ESB


A victory beer of Half Seas Over was as fitting as it was refreshing.



  Then we were off to our other friend’s brewery across town, Fossil Cove. We were to attend the Arkansas Brewers’ Guild’s first tap takeover, where nearly all AR breweries donated beer and the proceeds from the sales went toward our legislative efforts at advancing the local craft beer movement in Arkansas. You know, I can only think of other people’s professional gatherings, like a stuffy doctors association or what a computer programmers’ conference might look like. Brewers are usually some of the most relaxed people in the crowd. They march to a slightly different beat. It was special to share a pint with those guys who share similar outlooks, motivated by similar passions.

Arkansas Brewers Guild fundraiser at Fossil Cove

Arkansas Brewers Guild fundraiser at Fossil Cove

I had plans of staying in Fayetteville that night, as I had planned on being completely knackered. But I got to hold one of the brewer’s 6-month old, and I could only think of getting back to my girls. And that was it: on the road back to home in Little Rock.
Now, in my haste, I forgot to do two things. I forgot to change out of my brewing shorts and boots ensemble, and I forgot to pee before I left Fayetteville. I suddenly realized the latter 10 miles in to the 40+ mile 540 to 40 leg of the drive home. By the Alma exit, I was hanging. The nearest gas station wasn’t quite Trainspotting bad, but its patrons seemed on par. I didn’t care.

Relieved, recaffeinated, it was a quick drive back home just in time to help Katchiri give our baby girl her nightly bath.

There are days in this new to me gypsy brewing life that I am still getting used to. The planning, the coordinating, the daily meetings, the endless emailing. It’s work, but of a different sort. I miss the brewing, the cellaring, wearing the boots every day. I feel better about myself when I come home physically tired. I certainly did that night, and all was right in my little world.

Much love to my dear friends at Apple Blossom. They are truly kind, doing things the right way, and it is a great feeling to have friends and peers like that in my home state. Expect our collaboration to be on tap at Apple Blossom’s beautiful brewpub, possibly on their nitro line! We are still working out distribution, but I hope to see our Earl Grey ESB pop up at other taps around Northwest Arkansas and Little Rock.

Moody Brews + Apple Blossom's collaboration ale, an Earl Grey ESB, to be available mid December

Moody Brews + Apple Blossom’s collaboration ale, an Earl Grey ESB, to be available mid December


a singer, a brewer, new fathers, old sons

2014 A.D. has shaped up to be the most momentous year of my life. It has brought me a house in which I have made a home, my dearest love (a beautiful bride to be), FATHERHOOD (and the mystical joy and wonderful challenges that come with such events), a shot at making a living making beer my own way, under my own company. Lately, life has brought me up in the wee hours to attend to my beloved daughter; during which times as I cannot easily return to sleep’s embrace, I find the space to express such reflections as you read here.

A mere few weeks ago now, life brought me the unique pleasure of hosting my favorite musicians in my own town (Little Rock), and in my home. Joshua James and his band of gentlemen were on tour and dipped into the South on this particular stretch. To my surprise, I found he was to play right here in town, albeit at my less than favorite venue. Those who know me well know I have been listening to his music for years, learning and covering his songs at every opportunity the guitar comes into hand, which unfortunately has been few and far between as of late. My taste in music usually veers towards the deep and brooding lyrics, wrapped in accessible key structures and chord patterns. There are few musicians who reach so deep within themselves to pull out so honestly their struggles, hopes, and fears wrapped in delicately placed strums and hums as Joshua James. One of my favorites from his latest album From the Top of Willamette Mountain can be found here, one of my favorite live recordings here.

When on tour, they frequently stay in the beds/floors/couches of warm hearted strangers who would offer such. I was honored to share all of the above with them recently. In Little Rock, they played to a mostly empty yet enthusiastic crowd of approximately 10 souls, and despite being road weary, played and sang with vigor nonetheless. We then came to my home to be greeted by my lover and child at the gate. As much as I wanted to grab my guitar off the wall and sing and play, hear and be heard by and with the boys, I could tell they were more interested in a conversation and bed. So it was a toast with Moody Brews: to the road, to an empty show, to the great mystery of life we share in our moments of breathing. Conversations of gardening and traveling and camping spots soon turned to fatherhood, as three of the four band mates have young ones of their own. Laughs were had over the lack of sleep, revelations of how difficult it is to be away from one’s pride and joy while on the road. In my life as a gypsy brewer, I can mildly relate.

We talked the business of making money for ourselves and our family, how the calculus of such changes with the addition of a life for whom you are now responsible. For an artist, money will always be a strange necessity. When I had no one to care for, I loved the work I did as Head Brewer of a small brewpub and didn’t mind too much the small paycheck. It was enough to make rent, I had all the food I could eat at the restaurant, fresh produce from my dear friends at the local community garden (who gladly traded for brew), my own beer to drink. All I had to do was work very hard every day creating a product people enjoyed. It was honest work; similarly for a touring musician. You are able to make rent doing what you love. You don’t “get ahead,” but that’s not the point. The point is the experiences you get to share, create for others, and in so doing, create your own.

At one point, I declared how incredible it is to be making my own beer, doing this thing I love, but how in reality, at least so far, how little I get to put back for myself, my girls. “I mean I can’t even afford to make a t-shirt order right now!” says I, and how hard it is to say no to charities at this point in the business. To which, Evan, the incredibly talented and very kind lead guitarist, responded: “we are just now breaking even on the vinyl pressing we did for an album two years ago… but we get to make money doing what we love”  And that my dear reader is the POINT of this meandering story.

The boys were off before daylight, off for a long trek to Nebraska I believe, but not before some baby holding and picture taking. To my new friends, should you read this: thank you for your company. That time helped put my mind back on track to where it matters most.


IMG_8407 To the ROAD, to LIFE

I don’t know if Moody Brews will ever make a bunch of money doing what it does. It’s certainly not at present. But I know I am doing what I love. And I am thankful for folks who pay their hard earned dollars to buy and hopefully enjoy my beer. There’s no guarantee that this venture will work, but know I am giving my ALL (head and heart) in what I create and present. And that is where I want to be, where I have to be.
Joshua James performing one of his newest songs “Favorite Diamond”:

“I’m tryin to carry, my weight around for awhile,

Living’s harder when it makes no sense Pa,

I said I wish I understood the conviction in your blood

He said, son keep giving when you’re heart has given up”


Cheers to my friends on the road, to road itself, which presents us all with twists and turns, possibilities of which we never dared hope.

Josiah Hunter Moody.


Interview Links

A list of interview links and reviews.

10/1/2014 The Arkansas Traveler with Ashton Eley.

9/30/2014 The Daily Record with Becca Bona

9/9/2014 Colonial Wine and Spirits debut (video)

9/9/2014 Little Rock Foodcast review by Steve Schuler

9/8/2014 The Arkansas Times review by Michael Roberts

9/7/2014 John the Beer Snob newsletter review by John Wells

9/1/2014 Soiree magazine article by Kevin Shalin

6/10/2014 Little Rock Foodcast podcast interview with Steve Schuler

6/8/2014 Josiah Moody leaves Vino’s announces his own label (Arkansas Times) with Michael Roberts


What’s in a label, anyway?

Thanks are due to my two week old daughter Aria who provided the 4 am impetus for getting this post out of my head and on “paper.”

Littlest Moody caught her third wind at 4 am, might as well put on the coffee and write.

Littlest Moody caught her third wind at 4 am, might as well put on the coffee and write.

     In keeping with my goal of documenting the ins and outs, triumphs and frustrations of creating a new beer making business, I wanted to include the evolution of the Half Seas Over label. For whatever reason, my aesthetic has always leaned toward minimalism. To me there is beauty in less, boldness in the painfully simple. It’s safe to say most homebrewers have dreams somewhere of making their own label. I, however, never really allowed myself that indulgence. Sure, I perused wine and beer labels and took note of what I liked and didn’t like, but I felt a bit foolish about spending too much time and energy on fanciful artwork…until I was under a deadline for getting the Half Seas Over label done and officially submitted through the GOV’T.

     And so, after my final agreement with the brewery, I found myself well behind on artwork and with a severe paucity in the drawing ability department. The consultation process began (and culminated with) my Grandmother. Ever the artist (painter and potter), she very quickly directed me to an old advertising magazine filled with art deco style artwork. That evening we–no she–sketched out some ideas based on those classic themes.

Drinking for inspiration

Drinking for inspiration


My Gram, artworking

photo 5 (1) photo 4

Theme solidified, I sought out other interpretations from more technologically inclined friends and family. 

Hop_Flower copy top hat monocle copy photo Imperialsmall copy IMG_1065

     Friends and family, from four states in total, came to the rescue with ideas and talent. I am in their debt for their time and unpaid work. Despite their best efforts, each offering was just a hair off from whatever it was I wanted. I knew more of what I didn’t want than what I wanted, and in retrospect, the above artwork was made with too little direction from me. I should have said more than “minimalist, art deco, go.” Some of these above were close but just not quite IT, not quite exactly me. After months of skyping, emailing, and phone calling my artist friends, I was without a clear vision for the label. It was time for another visit with Gram, and within the hour she had it. Behold–the Monacle Man!

photo 1

It’s one thing to draw a thing (which I can’t), and it’s another to digitize and vectorize it. I can use a computer. I can whip out spreadsheets, run statistics programs, format any paper (thanks to two theses under my belt), but Illustrator/Photoshop is another animal all together. It’s like drawing but harder. Overwhelmed, it was time to call in the big guns: my little sister.

Where I floundered, 

MoodyBrews monacle (1) 

Rebecca Moody excelled:




From there it was a short step to formatting.



     Wait, what am I going to call this thing?? “Whatever Name Here” just isn’t going to cut it. Going back to my art deco theme, I settled on a 1920s colloquialism, “Half Seas Over,” which is slang for being inebriated. For an Imperial IPA with hops from two hemispheres, “Half Seas Over” just fit.  And so, without further adieu, the final, federally approved label. 


     My thanks to my friends, family and fellow collaborateurs for all their contributions. I can only repay you all with product, which I promise to do. To my Gram and Becky: you both have helped push this thing through every impasse, even when I did not know what I really wanted. I am grateful and proud to say this is truly a family affair.

–Josiah Moody.

Crafter of Beer, Worker in Progress.


Moody Brews, brew #1

Yesterday, I left Little Rock and met with the Choc Brewery boys in Krebs, Oklahoma to finalize my and their concerns and suggestions on Half Seas Over, my first brew.  After coming to mutual agreements, I was off to Tulsa for a bit of time with my Grandmother. Time with her was as it always is–home. My childhood home, my Grandmother’s cooking, and staying up too late watching old British comedies made for those moments that you cherish, moments that make you feel like you should work harder to have more of them.

5 AM came early, but I had about 100 miles between me and my first Moody Brew, so I was excited nonetheless.

Sunrise leaving Tulsa

Sunrise leaving Tulsa

Once at the Choc brewery, it was time to mill and mash in. Unfortunately, their silo was out of base malt, so we had to load the mill by 55-lb sacks, one sack at a time, all 60 or so of them. From there it was on to work on the largest brewhouse I have ever worked on, which is to say I did a lot of standing over the shoulders of the brewers, running up and down brewery stairs to fetch this or that.


empty silos make for strong backs

empty silos make for strong backs



mash mixing hearts beating


big hops for a big beer


There was no time for reflection during the brew day, as on the fly adjustments and decisions had to be made. And that’s as it should be I think. I’ve spent plenty of time in my head, second and third guessing the fine details of this brew in the weeks leading up to it. It was time to move now, and brew, no time for reflection…until we “knocked out” (transferred wort to the fermenter).

And then, gazing at this 30-barrel fermenter, it hit me. This was 10 times the largest brew I had ever made, a recipe I haven’t brewed exactly, a hop I hadn’t used. The deed is done. All the meetings that led to this partnership, all the financial work of making Moody Brews, L.L.C., all the hours and consultations spent making a label, securing and then having to find a new distributor–done. done. done. No more planning, no more theoreticals, no more abstractions. This brew, this company, this career is happening NOW.


meet Half Seas Over, living and breathing.


Little Rock Food Cast interview

Sat down with Little Rock Food Cast last night and recorded my first interview with Steve Shuler. Will try not to ramble on here as I did enough of that in the interview. We talked about how I got started brewing, the history and legacy of Vino’s Brewery, one of my favorite places to breathe, to draw inspiration from in Little Rock at Dunbar Community Garden, and future of Moody Brews. Give it a listen if you’re so inclined!

Crafter of beer. worker in progress.

Josiah Moody



Craft beer for workers in progress

MoodyBrews is in the initial stages of creating craft beer, and also discovering what blogging (is that pronounced with a hard or soft “l”?) is all about.

I decided to forego the standard website route and attempt to make an online presence more engaging with people interested in what MoodyBrews is all about. I am finding that I’m a brewer not a blogger, but isn’t that a perfect example of what I’m trying to do here after all? Document the journey. And one part of the journey starts with figuring out how to blog.

Thank you for your interest, I find myself at present consumed with wrapping things up at my current place of employment, planning the ins and outs of my first brew, and becoming a father for the first time. I will get better on here, but in the meantime, here are some photos for labels. Many revisions were made, mostly in Tulsa, Oklahoma with my Grandmother (the artist), then put into digital form by my very talented little sister. I suppose that means it’s a family effort.

Best to you all.

Josiah H. Moody

Crafter of beer. Worker in progress.

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