All posts by Ed

Ed Marsh is an experienced technical communicator, a podcaster, a lover of beer. This site is the home of his thoughts, as well as the Content Content podcast.

IPA Update

Yesterday, Sunday, I transferred my latest India Pale Ale (IPA) from primary fermenter to secondary. While secondary is technically a misnomer (no further fermentation takes place), it clarifies the beer and lets the last bunch of dead yeast cells and hop detritus fall to the bottom of the carboy.

One of the joys of homebrewing is taking a gravity reading, which tells you the density of your beer, where 1.00 is plain water, and everything above it is, in this context, beer. Homebrewers check the starting gravity, then the gravity when transferring to either a secondary fermenter, bottles/kegs, and/or both. A hydrometer checks the gravity by taking a sample of the beer and placing it in a beaker. You then read the hydrometer as it floats in your oh-so-precious liquid. My final gravity (FG) was only two points off what the recipe said it should be (the recipe noted FG at 1.014; mine was 1.016). This just results in a bit less alcohol in the beer, but I’m not sure how accurate everything is, anyway.

To avoid contamination, the sample is never returned to the rest of the beer. However, it is completely drinkable, and I always drink it to see how my beer’s coming out.

And holy cow, was that sample good. It was almost exactly the taste I want from an IPA. It was bitter, without being too much so for a hop-head like me. I do think it’s a bit thin in the malt department; next time (and there will be a next time) I’ll be sure to add another pound of malt extract to counteract the bitterness.

I also added a half-ounce of Amarillo and half-ounce of Simcoe, the two hops used in the beer, to the secondary fermenter. This is known as dry-hopping. It doesn’t contribute to the bitterness of the beer, but adds to the delicious aroma.

A few weeks in the fermenter, then bottle day, then I can drink a few weeks later!
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Now playing: The Doors – Twentienth Century Fox
via FoxyTunes

Commuting Fun

Commuting from northern new jersey to new york city is always a… challenge. I often have to be somewhere (i.e. a rehearsal) at a specific time, so making train connections is critical. I frequently tell people that if it weren’t for NJ Transit, i’d be in jail for committing road rage-induced murder. Of course, NJT isn’t perfect, but some days, it’s just abysmal. Take yesterday, for
example.

On rehearsal days, I leave work between 5:10 and 5:15 to catch a 5:47 train out of Hoboken. Percussion ensemble starts at 7. I arrived at the PATH World Trade Center station around 5:22. When I arrived, people were already waiting, which means I didn’t just miss a train. Three or four minutes later, the train shows up, loads, and takes off. i should still make my connection; the ride is usually around 12 minutes.

Until the PATH train stopped.

For at least 5 minutes.

No announcement, no indication at all what was going on. As we sat in a dark tunnel, I started
getting antsy, frequently checking my phone for the time. We arrive, finally, around 5:49, obviously missing my train. I’m now pissed and anxious, as this rehearsal is one of our last. The next train home isn’t until 6:18, and I have all our music and some instruments there with my car. S made her train, but it would take too long for her to go home, pick me up, and then drive home. The only solution is a cab. Twenty-five bucks, a rather aggressive cab ride (i’ve never seen anyone hug the inner curb so tightly) and a lot of frustration later, everything worked out. But, the extra stress and overly buttery slice of pizza scarfed down on the train were quite unnecessary.

I bought fish supplies, and I don’t own fish

One of the, shall we say, issues confronting homebrewers is equipment: you never have enough. I buy something new seemingly every brew day. All purchases, so far, have been good purchases, and result in better beer.

Saturday was brew day; I believe it’s batch #9 since I started. Building on the success of my last batch, Wazzup Wit, I formulated a recipe, and submitted it for comments on a couple of beer forums.

This, however, brings about another issue homebrewers have: how much advice to take when brewing beer. It takes some time to wade through the comments, and separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff. when i posted my recipe.


Simcorillo IPA

14-B American IPA

BeerTools Pro Color Graphic

Size: 4.84 gal

Efficiency: 6.62%

Attenuation: 78.6%

Calories: 212.42 kcal per 12 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.064 (1.056 – 1.075)

|==============#=================|

Terminal Gravity: 1.014 (1.010 – 1.018)

|===============#================|

Color: 11.7 (6.00 – 15.00)

|==================#=============|

Alcohol: 6.61% (5.50% – 7.50%)

|================#===============|

Bitterness: 95.8 (40.00 – 60.00)

|================================|

Ingredients:

7.0 lb Dry Extra Light

1 lb Crystal Malt 20°L

8.0 oz Caramunich® TYPE I

1 ea White Labs WLP051 California Ale V

1 oz Simcoe (11.9%) – added during boil, boiled 60.0 min

2 oz Amarillo (8.0%) – added during boil, boiled 20 min

1 oz Amarillo (8.0%) – added during boil, boiled 7.0 min

.5 oz Simcoe (11.9%) – added during boil, boiled 7 min

.5 oz Amarillo (8.0%) – added during boil, boiled 0 min

0.5 oz Simcoe (11.9%) – added dry to secondary fermenter

.5 oz Amarillo (8.0%) – added dry to secondary fermenter

Schedule:

Ambient Air: 70.0 °F

Source Water: 60.0 °F

Elevation: 0.0 m

Notes

Late extract addition – first time experimenting. Added 3lb DME at 60 minutes, 4lb at 15 minutes.
Mash temp for grains: 150F. 45 minute steep.
Created yeast starter (first time) following Palmer’s How to Brew method (http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter6-5.html)
Aerated wort for ~5 minutes using fish tank oxygenator.

Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.9b

Blogging Ain’t Easy

I keep telling myself to blog. It was a New Year’s resolution of mine to write more (and we all know how those turn out…). However, I find it hard to come up with something daily. I’ve a new appreciation for those who can turn their mundane, daily tasks into something worth reading. I do post a bit more often using twitter, which I included on the site. Over there. See it?

I will try to post more, I will tell myself that more often. For now, here’s a few things on my mind:

I close on my first-ever condo tomorrow. Holy crap!

In our move, I’m getting rid of (aka freecycling) the stereo system I’ve had since high school. An Onkyo receiver that never had a remote control; it wasn’t an option. A JVC cassette deck, a CD player, and two Laser speakers which I think were custom-made (thanks for that gift, Dad; looks like you got your money’s worth!) To date these components, and myself, I received them for Xmas one year; my first two CDs were U2’s “The Joshua Tree” and Genesis “Invisible Touch”. I still have both the CDs. Sadly, though, I think the sound on my new HDTV sounds better at this point.

Scott McClellan, WTF. Now you come up with a tell-all? I can only assume it’s because it takes a long time to write a book.

Warm weather kicks ass, if only for the increase of women’s flesh displayed.

I’m brewing an IPA this weekend.

More whenever!