Sunday, August 24, 2014

Going Experi-Mental

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Last Saturday night, Izzy & I watched “TMNT: Turtles Forever” which is an animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie from 2007 that… basically crossed-over the series of the 2000’s with the series from the 1980’s via… wait for it… transporting through different dimensions. Now, the way it was cut & everything made me think that it was meant to be four TV episodes (there are “commercial break” wipes every 7-8 minutes) but it was actually surprisingly good. Basically the new Turtles who are serious & super secretive and… well, ninjas, are sitting at home in the sewer when there’s some news of video evidence of green do-gooders running around NYC. “It wasn’t us” so they go investigate… and find out that it’s the brash, smartass older Turtles from the 80’s complete with catchphrases… and basically they have no problem with just walking around town in their dimension. Well, there’s also both Shredders involved… and just check it out if you’re a fan. There are a few things you’d probably like about it. By the way, both April O’Neills are in it too and… okay, 80’s April somehow pulled off the yellow jumpsuit look… and the newer one… I think she’s 14 years old… or at least looks that way, but dating Casey Jones? Is that… is that just the way that things are nowadays? I feel sorry for kids nowadays… anyway, check it out. Lemme know what you think.
Sunday night, I watched “The Fisher King” starring Jeff Bridges & the late Robin Williams. It had been a LONG time since I’ve seen this movie… and I forgot how poignant& good it can be at times. From director Terry Gilliam (“Brazil”, “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas”, “12 Monkeys”, etc) comes the story  of a radio shock jock named Jack (Bridges) who spouts off his mouth… and incidentally causes one of his crazy listeners to shoot up a bar killing seven people & himself. Well, feeling responsible, Jack goes into a bit of a rut… drinks himself into a stupor for the better part of a few years… and then is mistaken for a homeless man by some young white assholes just looking for somebody to beat up on… and they’re just about ready to set him on fire (no joke) until he’s saved by a homeless man (Williams) and his friends. Well, when Jack comes to… he finds out the homeless guy is named Parry & he’s… well, mentally unstable. As he tries to leave though, he finds out that Parry was actually a college professor… until his wife was gunned down in front of him during the incident that Jack “incited”. So feeling a little responsible, he tries to get Parry back on his feet… sorta… really just make himself feel better… but then stuff happens as they search for the Holy Grail. That’s right. Terry Gilliam made another movie about the search for the Holy Grail I believe that you might have seen. I don’t want to give too much away because I want you all to go check it out. There’s also a REALLY good performance by Jack’s girlfriend (Mercedes Ruehl) throughout the movie… and Robin Williams is pretty fantastic… and yes, even the Dude does a pretty decent job… though there are some parts where he’s just being the Dude too cool for school… and really just a great ensemble cast & one of those weird twisted kinda love tales with some heart tugging moments. There’s a lot of concepts brought up like how homeless people are actual people with backstories, how people react to tragedies, relationship dynamics, and a couple crazy silly stuff to keep you entertained too.  Check it out.
Tuesday night was our company Softball opener… and I was actually a little ready this year. No, not really hitting the batting cages or fielding grounders a bunch or anything… but I have been running a bit… but most importantly, this year I’m dressing the part. That’s right… in previous years, I was my usual amazing self… wearing jeans and raggedy ass “everyday” sneakers. This year, I’ve got some actual baseball pants& some good running sneakers. Heck, even my socks are supported for betting play and match our colors of navy blue & silver. Yup, I’m lookin’ pretty fine this year. We even have new uniforms. Nothing too incredible, but definitely better than the ones we’ve used for the past decade or so. As for the actual game, both teams started out slow so it was tied 0-0 after the first three innings. I played the first two innings and… 0-for-2 with a ground out & a pop fly. Nothing in the field came my way either. Then I substituted out since we had about 16 players to work in. Over the next three innings though, we pulled out to a 15-1 lead… and after the last inning (and a few gimmes), we won 15-5. Afterwards a few of celebrated with pizza & beer… and I’m liking our chances to pull off a three-peat this year & win our 3rd consecutive championship… but I may be getting ahead of myself. I have to start playing better on a personal level before I can claim anything on that. Lots of fun though & a great way to hang with coworkers, especially since I’m too damn busy to do so when actually at work.
Thursday night, Izzy came over to my place and made me a wonderful dinner of Hunter’s Sausage in what basically because a Irish Red Ale reduction sauce… fresh sliced tomatoes from her garden with lemon pepper sprinkled on them… and some homemade garlic sourdough bread with a little cheese mixed in & garlic butter. Needless to say, it was pretty f**king fantastic… here are some pictures…

Also on the menu, was our Bock that is finally ready for consumption… and as you can see, it’s a beautiful color… a little darker than your typical Maibock… and the taste is pretty amazing as well. I’m a HUGE fan of Bock beers… and this is really good. If I had one lone criticism, it’s that it’s a little more bitter than a bock typically is… but I think that’s because we used the Chocolate Malt instead of the Black Prinz that was recommended to us by the Anchor Brewers a few months ago. You see, when we were making this, you had to know somebody who could get Black Prinz as it wasn’t a readily available malt, basically a priority malt to professional brewers as it provides the coloring and characteristics of a chocolate malt… but without the bitterness that usually comes with it. Of course, about two weeks after we started this Bock, we started seeing Black Prinz available in homebrew stores… so now we’re REALLY excited about this already delicious beer, now with Black Prinz instead of Chocolate malt. It’s one of my favorites already. BEHOLD!!!

Saturday, Izzy & I made another batch of the simple Pale Ale recipe that we made last week… but we have different plans for this batch. A month or so ago, I had purchased a Quad Core Kit, which is basically four one-gallon glass carboys as opposed to one five-gallon glass carboy. Last week’s batch’s plan is basically to ferment for 10-14 days and then we keg it so it’s ready to drink in about two weeks’ time. The plan for this 2nd batch is a little more experimental. We make the batch, set it up for primary fermentation for about a week, and then transfer into the four separate one-gallon carboys, each with a different ingredient to add in secondary fermentation… and any extra (that 5th gallon) to be bottled so it’s ready to drink in a week or so. As far as secondary ingredients, there are a lot of different options that you can do. Fruits & berries are also good for sweetness or tartness of just the hint of flavor, dry hopping is good for various bitternesses, you can even add things like liquor or wine to give it some of those characteristics. For this batch, using essentially the same base wort, the different ingredients in the containers will be:
1)      Dried Strawberries from our dehydrator
2)      Dried Kiwi from our dehydrator
3)      Dried Pineapple from our dehydrator
4)      Dry Hop - TBD
5)      Bottled with Izzy’s Jalapenos in each bottle
Then after about 7-10 days of secondary fermentation, they’ll be bottled & we’ll have five different Pale Ale varieties to contrast & compare… six if we still have some leftover from last week’s batch in the keg. True, we’ll only have about 10 bottles of each, but with those samples, we can see if there’s a particular kind that we REALLY want to make again for a full batch. It’s pretty exciting… but then again, I’m now kind of a beer nerd.

It was also time to bottle our second batch of ChocoNut Stout, so we added the coconut extract during the bottling process & they should be ready in about two weeks. Mmm… this is the version with the Black Prinz instead of Chocolate Malt (discussed earlier during the Bock) so it should be interesting. Upon taking the final gravity, we tried the amount that was in the hydrometer and… yeah, it was pretty f**king delicious... and only going to get more delicious when carbonated…

 By the way, this is how active our Pale Ale was this morning... we had to add the blowoff tube...

Anyway, that was the week that was… hope you all enjoyed reading about it… or learned something maybe, I don’t know. Not sure who all reads this thing anymore. I also wanted to do a special shout-out to my lovely ladyfriend Izzy for making me some wonderful meals & helping me start a mini garden in the backyard, both pictured below... and Big Ben for his magnificent Mead that he shared with us...

Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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