Saturday, August 16, 2014

26, Baby, and 90 Shilling Ale

So firstly, allow me to apologize for the radio silence around here. After Sarah's announcement over on her blog and the joint facebook notice, I felt like I couldn't really write anything else here without addressing that elephant in the room first. And yet I still don't know what to say. On one hand, nothing has really changed for me yet (Sarah's appointments and puking aside). On the other, I can still see the precipice of incredible changes in perspective and obligation within the greater circle of life. Those feelings will change and develop over time, I'm sure, and I just don't want to commit banal or shortsighted comments about fatherhood to the eternal record of the internet.

26, then. It's nice to have a birthday back in the United States again, but I still had to work a full day out in the Texas sun. I want to thank all of you for the assortment of cards and packages I came home to.

Odell 90 Shilling Ale

Let's start with the fact that there's nothing really Scottish about it. Odell Brewing Company is in Fort Collins, Colorado. This doesn't carry the maltiness or high ABV commonly associated with Scottish or scottish-style ales. Branding complaints aside, this is just a tasty, well balanced ale. I like it. 5.3% is not going to sneak up on you. This has a lacy head, a clear amber body. I'm a fan.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Big Motorcycle Pictures Post

I have kinda dropped the ball on blogging here. So many tasty beers and motorcycle tribulations have passed by since returning from Afghanistan. So if you had never seen a picture of the New/Old Yamaha, this is what she looked like back in December:

Frost on the seat lets you know this shot is really from December
Big padded sissybar, buckhorn chrome handlebars, only one somewhat floppy rearview mirror, stuck clutch, hadn't run in... some time. But the bones are good and there's comparatively little rust for a bike this old.
Fast forward to yesterday: 

After a few months, I caved in and pushed the bike to a mercifully close-by shop to have the clutch and electrical business professionally sorted out. He also rebuilt the front brake cylinder and gave me an overall inspection.

New handlebars/grips/mirrors. These handlebars are black-coated carbon steel intended for 4-wheel ATVs, but I liked them. It's hard to shop online for something like that unless you already know exactly what you want. 

I bought these coyote-tan pouches to increase the carrying capacity of my medium rucksack for Afghanistan, but now they make tidy little saddlebags that loop right over the frame beneath the seat.

Found a permanent destination for that mustache patch
The vinyl seat is in great shape for its age
I really, really wanted to ride the bike to the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin. It's the successor to the 1 Moto Show that I had been traveling to when I crashed in 2013. I imagined the excursion as a triumphant getting-back-on-the-horse moment, however, the ol' Yamaha still likes to stall out and refuse to restart at intersections on occasion. I had my first mystery stall about 6 miles from the house and chickened out. I eventually got it started again, but I didn't feel confident riding the whole way down to Austin for the show.
photo by Sean Delshadi of Cycle World
It was a cool show. Free admission, free parking for bikes (6 bucks for cages), cash bar and hotdogs, leather jacket drawing. And some world-class custom and vintage motorcycles in the flesh. I didn't effectively capture it, but here are some of the bikes that were there; guess which photos I took:

1973 Yamaha TX650 by MWPerformance
1974 Yamaha XS 650 by Wesley Case
Pre-war Vincent Rapide
1979 Iron Head Harley Sportster customized by Aaron Buck
Triumph T120? I didn't take the best of notes on all of these
Wall of Death customized Indian Scout
Wall of Death photo by Sean Delshadi of Cycle World
Stock Indian Scout
The Mako 2003 Harley Sportster by Brawny
Hardtail Triumph bobber parked outside the event

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.