Saturday, February 22, 2014

Yeast re-pitch and Worthington's White Shield

Tonight I transferred my Super Bowl ESB to a carboy and pitched a new yeast. The bucket primary fermenter did not seem to be producing carbon dioxide as fast or consistently as my previous beer and mead projects. I was concerned about contamination or a dead yeast packet, so I stopped by Black Hawk Brewing Supply for advice and fresh packet of Nottingham Brewing Yeast. I'm still not sure what the values on my hydrometer are telling me exactly, but both samples I tested were in the center of the "finished beer" marked area. Still, I siphoned the beer into a sterile carboy and pitched the new yeast on top. The airlock began bubbling a steady and reassuring pace as soon as I sealed the cork, so it appears there were definitely more sugars to convert. I didn't specifically stir or agitate it after sealing, but it did slosh quite a bit as I carried the carboy to the central fermentation chamber (my closet). Next weekend I'll bottle and then give it a further week to bottle-condition.

Worthington's White Shield
Photo from
I found this dusty bottle amongst my liquor. I have no idea when I got it; it doesn't seem like the sort of thing I'd pick for myself and Sarah knows I usually don't like IPAs. The brand itself is from eighteenth-century England, but was acquired by Coors 12 years ago. I didn't get my own picture, so I'm unsure whether the bottle I tried came from ol' Burton-upon-Trent or one of the MolsonCoors industrial operations in this hemisphere. Regardless, it was very tasty. Two fingers of head and a rich amber color. Caramelized malt flavors and an uncommonly balanced hop profile compared to most IPAs. The internet says 40 IBUs. This was a real winner, but unfortunately not offered in 6-packs here. I think my tastes are drifting away from the Black Lagers and Belgians toward more tradition British styles. This is one I'd get again.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Brew

Northern Brewer ESB kit
I didn't take pictures this time because honestly, all homebrewing looks the same.

1514 Brew Kettle with 10 quarts warm tap water started on High heat uncovered.
1530 Crushed Grains added. Surface temp: 174
1540 Surface temp: 193
1550 Grains removed, kettle removed from heat. LME put in hot water bath. Surface temp 204
1555 1st 3.15 lbs LME added
1600 2nd 3.15 lbs LME added, Kettle returned to high heat burner
So that 2nd Jug of LME was supposed to be added in the last 15 minutes of the boil. Whoops: error # 1
1614 Still not boiling. Surface temp: 193
1620 Placed a clean, bamboo cutting board on top of the brew kettle to act as a partial lid. The actual lid for this kettle is missing somewhere. Surface temp: 207
1625 Boil achieved. 2 oz Willamette Hops added. Still on High heat, stirring occasionally.
1710 1lb Briess Golden Light DME and 1 oz UK East Kent Golding Hops added
1724 1 oz UK East Kent Golding Hops added
1725 Brew Kettle removed from heat
1730 Fermenting bucket, lid, and airlock in starsan solution
1735 Brew Kettle in cold water bath
1825 Surface Temp 84. 1 quart cool tap water in primary fermenter. Siphoned wort into primary fermenter. Pitched yeast. Added cold tap water to bring the volume up to 5 gallons.
I am a little concerned because the airlock wasn't immediately bubbling, but I'll check on it in about a day and maybe re-pitch.

Pike Monk's Uncle Tripel
Representing Seattle, an amber tripel. tonight we've got Very thin, lacy head.
Strong, floral hops profile, but not too bitter.

New Belgium 1554
Representing Colorado (Fort Collins), a Belgian-style dark ale. Looks like Coca-cola with very little head. Roasty, malt, and it's an overall winner.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Back in America & Otto's Apricot Wheat

I have been back in the US for almost 2 weeks and the temperature in Texas has ranged from 20s to 80s and back. I have been busy with Army re-integration classes and medical screenings, befriending Luna, assessing my motorcycle purchase, as well as just trying to relax with Sarah and visiting family.

It's quite nice to not be at work for a few hours.

Otto's Apricot Wheat
Today's beer review is made possible by my fantastic mother, who drove all the way to Texas with a case of Happy Valley's finest fruit beer.

Otto's Apricot Wheat is quite possibly their most successful brew. This is anecdotal, but I feel like most restaurants that carry local beer have it, often on-tap. It pours crisp, clear amber with a lasting, thin head. The apricot flavoring is subtle and more refined than you might imagine. Overall, it's a sweet beer that manages to avoid the saccharine pitfalls of other fruit-beers. With the inviting flavor and 4.8% ABV it's easy to put away several. It was nice to have a taste of home when I arrived back in Texas, so thanks again Mom for making it happen.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Motorcycle Monday: Yamaha TX650A

It was a big week for motorcycle searchin'. I'd learned how to sort ebay by no-reserve auctions and then save searches. Early on the 1st of September, I made a somewhat rash decision. And as a result, I won an auction.

I won a 1974 Yamaha TX 650 on ebay from Lima, Ohio. 16,236 miles, original brown, the only things different from stock form are the modern tires and that rakish padded sissy bar. KBB value: $1900

Okay I know this is an old bike, but that 650 engine is very popular (sold by Yamaha for 18 years) with new parts still being produced. Which is good, because the seller admits the clutch is stuck (complete clutch repair kit: $120). This is almost the same riding position as my dear departed Bonneville, but way cheaper to own and insure while also being simpler to fiddle with. I won the auction at my self-imposed maximum bid of $1200. Payment and shipping arrangements still need to be finalized, but it will be in my garage for well under blue book value. It's quite the relief, really, to get the bike I wanted, within the price I wanted, and be done with part of this vehicle searchin'.

Reference links for future use:

Looking Back & Squatters Hell's Keep

August has ended and I think a general update and review of my goal progress is in order.

My birthday passed pleasantly. Not too much fuss and I received a wonderful carepackage from my grandparents. Afterward (but unrelated to the carepackage, I hope) I was ill for a few days. Later in the month, we got our first casualties of the tour. My old platoon hit a very large IED. The Lieutenant and the Afghan interpreter were killed. 3 others were critically wounded, currently in Germany for surgery and rehabilitation. We were fortunate enough to get out of Iraq without any of that, so this whole process was new for the unit and me especially.

I got these done:
  • Started Deployment Savings Program with initial deposit
  • Re-established contact with my pennsylvania bank account 
  • Re-established contact with student loan accounts 
  • Tracking all account balances
  • Open Vanguard Roth IRA (building ETF portfolio until I can roll it into an IRA)
  • Populated profile with all my accounts
Totally failed at this (more to come)
  • Chill out on Car/Motorcycle shopping
I still have to make a real student loan repayment plan. I'm making greater-than-minimum monthly payments now, but I want to know specifics of how/how long I'll repay those loans. It just requires me to wrestle with Excel in my free time so it naturally gets put off.

I haven't been back to Crossfit yet. I was feelin' ill after my birthday and then our shifts were changing and then we had casualties to deal with. I know they're all excuses and others here found the time and gumption to get to the gym, but it all culminated to sap my drive from me. Now that all of that is settled, I'm going to start attending the 1800 class.
I have found there's not much room for me to be ambitious with my role in the TOC, but I'm glad I made an effort. However, I can now focus more of my at-work hours into personal professional development:
  • Online Army education
  • Promotion tracking 
  • Studying for promotion board
I found a very promising program at George Mason University. It's a strong state school (between Pitt and PSU in size) located in Fairfax Virginia. It's a good area and Sarah could commute into DC via the metro. All veterans who reside in Virginia are now eligible to receive in-state tuition if they can show proof of residence in Virginia (lease or deed) and proof that they are in fact a veteran (DD214). All in-state tuition would be covered by the Post-9-11 GI Bill, so I could go back to school without incurring lots of debt again. The program is a combined Earth Science BS + Curriculum and Instruction Accelerated MEd which seems perfect for me and my goals. All of this is a ways off, but it's nice to have an answer for one of the possible destinations Sarah and I have discussed. In the meantime, I also got my physical copy of Lindberg's Beginnings of Western Science to reread in the TOC.

Squatters Hell's Keep

Total retro-review here: this Belgian-style pale ale is bread-y in flavor and quite possibly the only libation I've ever had from the exotic state of Utah. Maybe one day I'll make a map of the different states whose beer I've tried. I remember Hell's Keep being good with food, but a little under-whelming for its top-shelf pricing. Still, a top-shelf beer is only maybe 12 bucks per 22oz bottle. Compared to wine pricing, taking a gamble on something new still seems rather frugal.