Category Archives: Beer

Gag gift of 2008 – ShamWow!

Among the few gifts I got S this year, one was supposed to be a joke – ShamWow!, the chamois made in Germany and sold on TV. The guy that appears in the ad is alternatively annoying and engaging, and has been on the TV enough to make it a joke in our house.

So, with Xmas approaching, I went to their crappy website and ordered a batch. Although they say 3-4 weeks for delivery, it came in only a few short days, plenty of time before Xmas. It was honestly hard for me to keep from giving them to S, but I decided waiting (and wrapping!) would be a better payoff.

On Xmas Day she was making her chocolate truffles for both her family and mine. I had a feeling melted chocolate would require cleanup, so I quickly wrapped them and handed her the package. She of course laughed, but then put them to use!

On Sunday, I decided to brew a dark Imperial Stout. Again, plenty of opportunity for messes. Two of the large ShamWow! were employed for cleanup, and a third is underneath the now-fermenting carboy in the closet.

I’m sure there are other, cheaper chamois available, including one S bought at Trader Joe’s, but they absorbed black stout and cleaned the floor pretty well. They sure came in handy at our house!

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Day after Xmas… at werk.

I came in today thinking i’d be feeling creative and write a post. Well, here I am at 12:30 EST with no such creativity, but at least I’m writing. I plan to blog more in 2009, but then again, I think “Write more” was my resolution for 2008, and that went basically nowhere.

there are three other people in my group here today with me. I think there are maybe another 5-10 people here in addition. Makes sense to open the office for alllllll of those people, eh?

i got a new flash for my camera for xmas … Nikon SB-600. i don’t know what i’m doing with it, yet. guess this also locks me into Nikon, not that it’s a bad thing. the grass is always greener over at Canon…

my girlfriend is out shopping for her family’s party tomorrow. i’m sitting in the office freezing with the other people, all of whom are wearing jackets or other heavy attire. it’s current 39 outside in NYC.

i plan to brew on Sunday – an imperial stout. my last porter didn’t come out so great. a bit lacking in body, a bit too much alcohol burn, not enough vanilla. still very drinkable, just not fantastic. 5/10.

my inbox is barren, facebook is dead, no one’s on twitter, and even my rss feeds aren’t entertaining me.

why is it that we’re here today? i guess this is the entitlement society i keep hearing about. even Hale and Hearty doesn’t have a full selection of soups today.

yes, i’m bitter. and cold.

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The Power of Yeast

Well, after a little over two months in secondary, we finally got around to bottling my latest homebrew, a porter. When I transferred to the secondary fermenter, I added a whole vanilla bean that was soaked in Jack Daniels for a couple of weeks. I also added the Jack Daniels. Unfortunately, there’s not much vanilla flavor; next time I’ll add another bean and cut them open, but there is a nice caramel flavor to the uncarbonated beer.

The big lesson with this batch is the effects of yeast on the beer. I used a Burton Ale yeast from White Labs. I should’ve known better (he says now), as I don’t really care for the “twang” of Bass Ale. Well, in my porter, you certainly get that Bass-like yeastiness. It was certainly interesting to see just how much of an effect the yeast has on the beer.

It’s not my best work, but it is still drinkable. It’s actually a bit lighter in color than I’d like. Maybe with some carbonation and time it will improve. I hope so, because I was planning on using some as gifts!

Labour Day Porter 2.0

12-C Baltic Porter

8.0 lb Dry Light Extract

1 lb American Chocolate Malt

.5 lb Caramunich® TYPE III

.5 lb British Crystal 55°L

1.0 oz Fuggle (4.0%) – added during boil, boiled 7 min

1.5 oz Super Styrian (7.0%) – added during boil, boiled 20 min

1 oz Super Styrian (7.0%) – added during boil, boiled 60 min

8.00 fl oz White Labs WLP023 Burton Ale

1.0 ea Vanilla (whole bean) – added dry to secondary fermenter

Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.2


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How to Get a Free Drink in New York City

This past Saturday night I saw Minus the Bear at Webster Hall. It was an awesome show; they are a very tight band that brought the crowd through a wide range of emotions. I was damn surprised that their drummer plays a basic, clear fiberglass Ludwig four-piece set with only two crashes, a ride cymbal, and hi-hats. His sound is generally much fuller than the equipment portrays. It’s great seeing bands in small venues, where you can actually see the performers’ faces instead of resorting to a big screen.

Afterwards, with time to kill before my train home, I went to my most favorite place on Earth (ok, my favorite bar at least) for some libations. Despite the large crowd in this oddly laid out location, I grabbed a seat at the bar, and had my first beverage. As I was consuming my second, a girl came up to me, “Excuse me, sir”.

Oh boy.

Long story short, these four girls were out for a bachelorette party (… at the Blind Tiger?!). As part of the bride-to-be’s scavenger hunt, she was required to kiss a man’s scalp. I guess scavenger hunts are what people do at bachelorette parties? As a male, I am used to bachelor parties consisting of severe intoxication that is generally paid for all day the next day, and barely clothed women asking for money at expensive locations to which I normally don’t go.

So, being the intoxicated good sport I normally am, I took off my hat, and tilted my head towards the woman who will probably only remember kissing my sweaty pate (I was at a concert, y’know) because of the photos her friends took.

As I wiped the last bit of lipstick off my head, the bartender placed an empty glass upside down, and she said “your next beer is from the lady wearing the tiara”.

I chose that delicious beverage as Avery Brewing’s Reverend Belgian Quad. A stellar way to finish right before I stumbled to the train station. I was considerate: it wasn’t the most expensive beer in the place, and as I left, I both thanked and congratulated the bride-to-be.

And I wasn’t even that hungover the next day.

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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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