Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beer Making

A wise man once said, ""Brewers enjoy working to make beer as much as drinking beer instead of working." I have to agree. I made my first batch of beer ten or so years ago, then quit because the bottling was too much of a hassle and I didn't have a partner to enjoy the process with. Then, I met Shularbrau. He told me the secret of carefree brewing is to keg your beer instead of bottling. I felt as if I were a college student who was forbidden from taking her car to school and her parents suddenly changed their minds. Free of bottle washing, rinsing, filling, capping and washing again.
I made my first batch - alone. The beer was good, and Pam loved it, but I needed to share the brewing experience with someone equally as enthusiastic. Then, Scott and Katherine came along. Scott is easy to get along with, is all about beer making, and not only that, he has nice boobies (that was a joke).
We have made more than a few batches and have committed a few very serious errors. But we have come through with something we are proud of.
Our goal is to make relatively inexpensive, easy to drink beer that tastes good. We use the same basic formula each time, but we change the variety of hops and yeast to make each batch taste unique. We have written detailed recipes a couple of times and each time it came out tasting like crap, so we quit doing that.
Our basic formula is as follows this batch cost in the $50 range and makes 5 gallons (2 cases):
  1. Get the yeast going with about 2 cups of lukewarm water and 3 tbs light malt or honey. Cover it.
  2. Boil 3.5 gallons of water - we boil outside on a propane turkey fryer
  3. Add 3lbs Dry Amber Malt, 1 lb Dry Light Malt and 2lbs Honey
  4. Wait till it boils again and don't let it boil over (that is a mayday)
  5. When it begins boiling, add .5 oz of boiling hops (hops with alpha acid > 6%)
  6. Look at the time and continue to boil
  7. Wait 30 minutes continue to boil
  8. Add a dash of Irish Moss to help clear the brew
  9. Wait 10 more minutes continue to boil without boiling over
  10. Add one oz finishing hops (hops with alpha acid <>
  11. Wait 5 more minutes and continue to boil
  12. Take wort (not yet beer) off heat and put it in a big sink full of ice water to quickly cool.
  13. Add a 2 gallons of cold water to the pot of wort
  14. Wait until wort is 80 degrees F and rack (siphen) to a sanitized 7.5 gallon bucket.
  15. Pitch (add) the yeast
  16. Cover the wort with lid and top with an airlock
  17. Let it bubble at room temp for 1 week
  18. Rack to glass carboy
  19. Let it bubble at room temp for 1 week - at this point it shouldn't be bubling much
  20. Rack to keg
  21. Add 2 cups corn sugar. Put about 10lb co2 pressure on top of keg and ensure that there are no air leaks.
  22. The sugar will ferment in the keg and will naturally carbonate the batch
  23. Wait 6 days.
  24. Refrigerate Keg
  25. Wait 1 day
  26. Hook up Co2 tank
  27. Drink
  28. Drink more

Monday, October 20, 2008

This is where I start...

My wife Pam is out of town taking care of her mother, so now is a good time to start this thing.

Cell phones are a wonderful invention, but I am hacked that no one calls them out on how non-green they are. Hey, I'm not a tree hugger by any stretch, but this is obscene. My dog ate one of my phone chargers and my daughter lost the other one for this phone. My bride took the third to her mother's with her. No problem right? I have a drawer full of old chargers. None of the damn things fit into the hole in my girly phone. Don't tell me Samsung can't make one bloody charger for all of their phones and sell the cords separately. They do sell the cords separately now, but I don't want to pay $32 when I have a drawer full of Samsung chargers. I'm sure phone chargers will soon overtake disposable diapers and telephone books as the items that take up the most room in the landfills. So, maybe they can't put the same little female hole on each phone. Well, if you can't do that, then you should have a small device that adapts that phone to the standard. I asked the guy at the phone store if they had such a device. "No, you have to buy the whole cord." Of couse.
So, I acquiesce and buy the $32 charger, and the guy says, "do you have a blue tooth?" I reply, "were you going to throw one in for the purchase of this charger?" Of course not. He just wants me to buy one. I told him if I could use one of my chargers out of my drawer, maybe I would have the resources to buy one.
Problem solved. I now have a phone charger. Getting in my car (which is kind of my daughter's car, but she is in college and I won't let her drive it there) I hear the distinct sound of a seam ripping. I have ripped a 4 inch hole in the butt of my pants. I haven't been to work yet and it's 10:00, so I go on in. I give Pam a call just to share my predicament. She can't believe i'm not going home. I am very committed to my company and my job. I'm going in.
At the door, I ask a coworker, which is also a coworkers wife if she can tell I ripped my pants. "Oh no, you are fine", she says. I'm feeling a little breeze, so I have to get a second opinion. I ask two more friends and they say for sure you can tell. Well, I was going to lunch at 11:00 so I'll just sit at my desk the rest of the afternoon.
I am getting in the car to meet some friends for lunch and I hear that now familiar ripping sound. Oops. Now there is a huge rip in the seat of my pants. Ironically I'm meeting my friends at the CRACKer Barrell.