Sunday, June 29, 2014

Grow Your Own Hops

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

This weekend was pretty good... Saturday we headed out to San Jose for the IBC Betta Fish conference they were having down there (Izzy loves bettas) and that was pretty cool. It's basically a competition where they judge betta fish that people have raised... and it was sponsored by a company that specializes in aquarium goods & other pet products... but yeah, very pretty fish. That's about all I have to say...

That night, we finally did something that we've been planning on doing for the last two months... and that's convert a whiskey barrel donated by Elevation 66 after a few uses for their special barrel-aged collection over the last year or so... and convert it into some planting pots to start growing our own hops. Step one, we took a few screws and set the ribbons that help hold the wood in place... and step two, we pull out the SAW!!!

After cutting it in half, step 3, we drill a few holes in the bottom so that water can escape and it doesn't cause a lot of problems (or so Izzy tells me).

That's basically it, you have two pots after that... so then you fill it with soil, plant your hop rhizomes about six inches deep... and before you know it, apparently we'll have these things growing up to a foot a DAY. That's incredible to me... so yeah, below is a before picture... and I'll keep you posted every so often.

Chinook & Mt. Hood Hops... they gon' be good...

These guys were actually already sprouting
in a Ziploc bag so... yeah, they're gonna get big

We also tasted our Torpedo Clone for the first time... and it really tastes like Torpedo. It's not quite an IPA... but it's a very hoppy pale ale, so it worked out perfectly. Remember, ours was a little bit of a watered-down version from what the Aunts will have ready next weekend... so we'll see how they compare shortly. We're extremely happy with the hoppy results... and remember, this cooking of the wort was a little questionable. (Pat on the back...)

Anyway, that's about it for this weekend... and I'm hard at work at preparing entries for my Alaskan trip... so hopefully they'll be coming up soon. Just need to compile all the pictures and get the best ones for ya... have a great weekend everybody!!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bock You Like A Hurricane

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Tuesday night was the SF Homebrewers Guild meeting at Anchor Brewing & it was magnificent as always. He had a special presentation by a startup campaign for an item called the Brewometer. Essentially what it is… is a Bluetooth device that floats in your fermenting wort & sends a signal to your iPhone to let you know what the specific gravity is of your wort. Basically it lets you know when your beer is properly ready for drinking without guess work or constantly checking the gravity & possibly exposing the wort to contamination. They’re obviously still working on some of the kinks (battery life, signal strength, etc) but it seems like they’ve got a pretty good idea to start with. Best of luck gentlemen!
After the presentation, we shared some of our ChocoNut Stout & Blood Orange Hefeweizen to RAVE reviews as usual. We actually have a number of pretty solid fans within the guild now too that think our beer is some of the best that they’ve tried & that’s VERY high praise given some of the award-winning brewers that are a part of the group. Oh, Izzy also helped a little fledgling that flew in from the window in the middle of the meeting… and was basically the hero of the day! She’s pretty amazing that way!
Thursday, Izzy also made some delicious chocolate cupcakes using our ChocoNut Stout so making them basically Chocolate Coconut Stout Cupcakes… and she made a sh*t ton so we’ve been sharing them with friends, roommates & coworkers since…
Speaking of roommates, we interviewed a girl Sunday night that we’ll call Brazil… and frankly, she’ll be the new roommates. The girls had pretty much decided beforehand but they didn’t want to make it official until we’d met… and yeah, she seems pretty cool. Early 20’s, hostess at a five-star restaurant, only been in town since January, Florida a few years before that, born & raised in Recife, Brazil, good sense of humor, all that stuff. Yay!!! Roommate interviews were easy that time!!!
As for the rest of the weekend, Saturday was pretty busy… first off, we headed over to Izzy’s Aunts to FINALLY help them bottle their Torpedo Clone that we helped them brew six weeks ago in their Mr. Beer barrel… and unfortunately Izzy had rolled her ankle pretty good… but it worked out because while I bottled the beer, they caught up on chit chat & arrangements for their son’s wedding this Friday… which they needed to do anyway without being distracted. Here are some pictures…

The next few hours was me shopping for a bunch of new clothes for work… so I’ve got some more fly suits… but we also made a run to Napa to drop our entries for the Napa Valley Expo Town & County Fair. This fair was a little different so we entered six of our selections (and we would’ve done our Bourbon Barrel Porter too but… apparently we’re out of 12 oz bottles & only a few bombers left):
·         Honey Amber Ale
·         Blood Orange Hefeweizen
·         Oktoberfest
·         Winter Warmer
·         ChocoNut Stout
·         Torpedo Clone (under the name Pentacera-Hops)
We will keep you posted on the results… and while there at the brew shop making the drop-off… we also found this handy little device called Cool Brewing that helps you to maintain the temperature of your wort in your carboy. Basically it’s like a waterproof insulator that you can add ice to help keep it cool… which is perfect for our next batch that we made for Oaktoberfest. Here’s what it looks like in use…

Saturday night after we got back, we started our next batch… which is a Bock recipe that I kinda came up with looking at other recipes & trying to come up with something similar to Anchor’s now discontinued spring seasonal Bock… which is like a Maibock, but hopefully a little darker & maltier towards a Doppelbock with a different hop note replacing the usual Hallertau & Perle kind of German hops with Nugget & Fuggle. So yeah, it’s an experiment… but we’re REALLY excited about it… and it’ll be our entry into this year’s Oaktoberfest competition which allows for delicious German beers only. I don’t have as many pictures as I usually would as Izzy was resting her ankle after a long, hard day most of the time (Dr. Steve’s orders) but it went pretty smoothly. Here are some pictures…

Specialty grains at entry...

... at 5 minutes...

... at 10 minutes...

... and airing out after about 20 minutes

Chilling it down a little bit in the new cooler...

Just this morning there was noticeable fermentation activity… we were a little worried that we couldn’t get it cool enough to work… but my purchase of the insulator helped to drop the temperature about ten degrees from ambient to get it right in that sweet spot for a colder lager yeast temperature. Again, REALLY excited about possible making some decent German style beer as they’re some of my favorites.
Aside from that, not much to report… this next week we’ll be starting another batch to get ready for my Family Reunion in September. We should have results for a few other competitions in the next few weeks. The NBA Draft is Thursday night… and as I predicted a few weeks ago, my month early draft is completely in shambles now since consensus #1 pick Joel Embiid had ankle surgery & international man of mystery Darco Saric decided that he’d rather stay in Europe & be a superstar there as opposed to a role player here. Action & adventure always abound… but until then, have a great day everybody!!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Kegging Stout & Bottling Torpedos

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Yeah, it was one of those pretty good weekends... first & foremost, the San Antonio Spurs DESTROYED the Miami Heat (as predicted) in five games to win their 5th championship & first in seven years. Congratulations to them!!! Great team, great scheme, love following them & think they're GREAT for basketball. Done.

Saturday morning, we bottled our Torpedo Clone so we'll be able to taste it in two weeks... but in uncarbonated sample, it seems like it's gonna be pretty choice...

Next, Izzy & I finally kegged our ChocoNut Stout after a few issues with the process (including a quickly emptied CO2 tank) but got a few good tools that I needed anyway... and finished it up, got it working good... and then within a few hours was enjoying our stout. Here's the process... we had it in our keg last week, then to have it go quickly we did the "rocking" method of carbonating, which is basically when you turn the pressure up & rock it back and forth to make it happen quicker & absorb the CO2... then set it back to normal pressure for a few hours... and boom, you're ready. Here are pictures...

Also, here's a few sunsets from Saturday & Sunday night that I thought you'd enjoy... have a great evening everybody!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Week Back from Alaska

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

YES!!! I have returned from Alaska successfully... and it was f**king amazing!!! However, there's a lot to talk about & even more amazing pictures to show... so that'll be for another post when/if I have time. Until that happens (mostly because work is f**king crazy) here's a little recap of the week since I returned.

Well, before that even... before we left, we transferred some Torpedo Clone... behold...

Wednesday through Friday, I worked furiously... and my coworkers were glad to have me back...

Saturday, Izzy & I went to the San Mateo County Fair... mostly because we got free tickets & parking for entering the Homebrew Competition... and Izzy loves the animals being a farm girl at heart... and let's face it, you know what's there & either you're in or you're not. It's good to see some of the art that's up there... and there's carnival games... it's a county fair.

Big Surprise!!! Izzy won 3rd place in the Homebrew Label Competition... and we didn't know until we saw her design in the display case. Sure, I came up with the concept & rough sketch... but her skills made it a reality. Congratulations beautiful!!!

Sunday was Izzy's birthday... number 29 of course. No, for real... it's her 29th, not like all you faking ladies out there. To celebrate, her sister, best friend & their respective men came down to have some fun. We all met up (a few hours late shockingly) and had lunch at Café Avellino, then drove down to Pacifica to spent some time at the beach...

After that, her sister bailed... but the rest of us went to Rogue Ales Public House so that Izzy could get her free T-shirt & birthday beer. Well... shockingly, they no longer do the free T-shirts (gasp!!!) which was lame... but then again, the birthday beer was a liter mug of some of their fine brew... so you take what you can get for free. We had a great time... and unfortunately watched the Heat eek out a victory in Game 2 of the Finals (Spurs in five) but it was great to hang with Izzy's friends & make her birthday fun... and let's face it, I took her to Alaska so their gifts aren't sh*t.

The past few days has been more work, catching up, doing all that... so yeah, hopefully in the next few days I can get to telling you about trip to Alaska... but until then, have a great day everybody!!!