Friday, July 8, 2011

On the subject of Social Media

My sister recently invited me into the beta for google+. It looks pretty intuitive. Finding people is a snap, adding them to groups or circles is easy. I will play around with the settings some more but I think it'll take some hardcore facebookers away. More to follow.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

RIP Wellington

Current Mood: sad
Current Music: Dream Theater - Octovarium, Nightwish - Dark Passion Play
Current Drink: Feckin Irish Whiskey

A word about domesticated pets. They have been referred to as "our furry friends" or "fur babies," etc. Whether you have a cat or a dog, or hell even a monkey, you inevitably form a psychological bond. You care for said animal as if they were a member of your family, albeit kids change the equation but you still care for the pet. I say this because I have had coworkers chastise me for being so attached to a cat because it is considered a lesser pet in the eyes of men, or it is considered a girls pet.  Let me tell you something about "man-code" and pet love: it's all bullshit. If Johnny badass with his full blooded Rotweiler can be reduced to a (blubbering 12 year old girl who just got dumped by her first crush when his Rottie just got diagnosed with a fatal disease) wreck and still be considered a man's man then I believe I can be excused for being torn up over having to put my cat to sleep.

Wellington was a hard luck case from the start. Fat cat came to me as a rescue from a friend who didn't know the first thing about animals. Kept in a cage sized for a mid sized cat, 8 week old Wellie shared it with his Large sized mother, covered in excrement and half starved. This cat acted like he had no spine, draping himself over chair arms and whatnot.  He tore through his first bowl of food and Ione's (my other cat) food bowl. Ever the gentle giant fatcat was just a poof of love. He topped out at 17lbs. after which we discovered he was part Maine Coon, and with that size still moved like he was a sleek and tiny cat. He had so much fur between his toes there were times he'd chase the other cat around the house only to drift around corners on hardwood floors like a race car.  He had digestive issues since we got him and with patience we adjusted both cats' diets. In the end what took him was a form of cancer in his abdomen that metastasized in his pancreas and his lymph nodes.

RIP little ginger kitty, you will be missed.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The idiot's guide to making beer

The condensed version.
If you can make a cup of tea, you can make beer. Simple as that.
Extract brewing:
1. Boil water
2. Add specialty grains in grain bag (big ass tea bag), steep for recommended time.
3. Remove specialty grains, add LME/DME (liquid malt extract/dry malt extract).
4. Bring to boil, start your hop schedule.
5. Remove from heat, cool to approximately 90ºF.
6. Take the original gravity reading, record it.
7. Pitch yeast, stir, transfer Wort from brewpot to Primary Fermentor.
8. Wait.
9. Transfer to secondary fermenter add hops for dry hop or bottle/keg.
10. Drink and profit.

Now, some terms and concepts.
•The grain water prehops is called sweet wort (pronounced wert) due to the sugars from the malted grains. The wort post hops is called hopped wort. LME/DME can be used to speed to brewing process. While all grain brewing gives the brewer more control over the whole process, when making a simple brew malt extracts are just fine. There have been many a competition winner made using the extract method.
•A hop schedule is just what it sounds like, a schedule for your hop addition. Normally read in reverse the hop schedule should consist of a bittering hop and a finishing hop, though some recipes have been done with a single hop addition. ex. of a schedule.
1.00 oz. Chinook Pellet 13.00 52.5 60 min.
1.50 oz. Cascade Pellet 5.75 9.3 15 min.
1.50 oz. Willamette Pellet 5.00 6.1 10 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade Pellet 5.75 3.9 5 min.
1.00 oz. Willamette Pellet 5.00 0.0 0 min.
2.00 oz. Cascade Pellet 5.75 0.0 Dry Hop
what this mean is the Chinook pellet will go in right as the water boils, start your 60 min countdown, the rest is based on the time left in the boil.

•Now, remember when you said I'd never need chemistry again? Bet you are going to feel as stupid as I did when you realize it has practical and honorable uses. Sg - Fg * 131 = ABV% Your specific gravity reading, minus your finishing gravity reading multiplied by 131 will give you your alcohol by volume rating.
example: SG = 1.062 FG = 1.015
.062 - .015 = .047 * 131 = 6.157% ABV
You get the  SG reading from a hydrometer or a refractometer.

•The reason you need to chill the hopped wort to 90ºF or lower is because when you pitch the yeast you don't want to kill it outright. Brewers yeast comes in two different main forms. Liquid and dry. Liquid yeast is simple, you just pour the liquid in before it goes into the fermentor. Dry yeast needs to be activated before it can be added. Either rehydrating in ~4oz. of warm water for ~15mins. or like Wyeast labs does with an all in one packet that reactivates rehydrated yeast (too long to explain, but it's cool as hell). Rehydrated yeast can also be added to a starter which will speed the process from the start and also help to verify you have a good batch of yeast. This process is much like proofing bakers yeast.

•Secondary fermentation serves multiple purposes. Mainly it removes the beer from the dead and dying yeast cells and sediment that given time to steep into the beer can give off flavors to your beer. By siphoning the beer to a secondary fermentor you are moving the beer to another container giving it more room to settle and allowing you to add a dry hop addition (another post for this later).

•Starting off one should bottle, it's easier and cheaper. Bottles are easy to come by, chances are you are a serious enthusiast and should have a good collection of POP TOP bottles. You can recap pop tops, not screw tops. 5 gallons of beer (average brew amount) will fill about 50 12 oz. bottles. Be sure to clean and sanitize your bottles and tops. 

•Finally, something to remember that every brewer must do at all times; SANITIZE YOUR EQUIPMENT. Cleanliness is next to godliness and we all know beer is God's proof of his love to man (Franklin).  Sanitizers can run up a hefty bill but you can do a world of good with home chemicals, more to follow in another post. 

I hope this condensed (lolerskates) guide will give the hopeful neophyte an understanding of the process.