Today, I got a check in the mail for $9.25 from 1-800-Flowers.com. I assumed that this check was the outcome of some sort of class action lawsuit in which I was an unwitting plaintiff. I mean, I believe it was last Mother’s Day that they delivered a product inferior to the one I ordered to my mother, and failed to deliver the one Kat ordered for hers, and never produced any sort of refund. Surely, others suffered from this terrible service as well, so I reasonably figured that such a lawsuit had occurred. Then, I realized that Kat hadn’t received any such check, so I decided to read the fine print.
By cashing this check I agree to a thirty-day trial offer in Elite Excursions. I understand that the $19.99 monthly fee will be automatically charged to my card on file with 1-800-FLOWERS.COM unless I cancel my membership by calling 1-866-709-2905 before the end of the trial period… By cashing this check I authorize 1-800-FLOWERS.COM to securely transfer my credit card information to Elite Excursions for enrollment, billing and benefit processing.
Yeah. Would you, at the suggestion of a company that had ripped you off once before, sell your credit card information to a company you’d never heard of for $9.25? You be the judge, Internets.
As some of my readers may know, I married Kat on June 20 of this year. She’s awesome. She’s sexy. She’s smart. She may or may not know what she’s gotten herself into. And all that makes me very lucky. I had thought about chronicling the wedding, honeymoon, and the preceding events, but I can’t possibly do it justice. In fact, I’d almost prefer that the stories of our wedding exist only as an oral history, aging for the sake of occasional tastings, like a good vintage, or more appropriately, a dark, potent brew. So, I’ll stick to something I had hoped I would write about more often when I started this blog: beer.
I prepared a really awesome gift for my groomsmen. It consisted of a homemade Oktoberfest contained in fancy, swing-top style bottles. Each bottle bared a hand-made label, and came packaged with a pint glass, hand-etched with the groomsman’s initials. Pat Faust, the wife of Dennis at Brew and Wind Hobby in East Hartford, did the calligraphy and screen-printing for the labels as well as the glass etching. I had the beer brewed and bottled for sometime prior to the wedding, but I waited until about 10 days before the wedding before I came up with the label idea and started looking for someone to make it and the glasses for me. In addition to creating a really nicely finished product, Pat did it within my tight schedule and the gifts were a hit. They simply wouldn’t have happened without her.
As far as actually brewing the beer went, it involved a lot of firsts. It was our first lager, it was Dave’s first experience with homebrewing, and it was the first brew session at my parent’s house. Also, this batch employed some new equipment, including a 185,000 BTU propane regulator and burner for brewing, and a mini-fridge equipped with a temperature controller for fermentation. The burner necessitated that we brew outdoors, on a cold December night, at my parents house. Since it produced lots of fire, heat, and carbon monoxide, we obviously couldn’t operate it in the apartment. Furthermore, I didn’t feel like lugging brewing equipment to and from the courtyard. However, brewing away from home would present its own challenges, like forgetting to bring the yeast. While brewing, I turned up the burner too much, leading to a boil-over and then a small fire. Apparently, the foam from the wort caramelized as it spilled down the side of the pot and then ignited upon contact with the flame. After dealing with that and adjusting the burner to a lower setting, I thought all was well. We still had a really strong boil going, which undoubtedly helped make the beer really clear in the end, but we also lost a lot of water, reducing yield and increasing the concentrations of hops and malt. I wish I could blame the small amount of beer, 3.75 gallons, on the insanely powerful burner, but truthfully, I easily replenished the lost wort volume with water during fermentation, achieving the intended concentrations of malt and hops. Therefore, the low volume really has to do with poor efficiency in the mashing process. Perhaps the small quantity increases novelty of the whole thing. At least it tastes good!
And it’s not just me saying that. Even Samuel Adams agrees. On a whim, I submitted four twelve ounce bottles of Groom’s Reserve to the Samuel Adams Longshot Homebrew Contest where it earned second place in the Oktoberfest category. I will point out that the brewer who took first in that category became a finalist with another one of his entries. In other words, I was beaten only by a skilled brewer, as opposed to some schmo. As a prize, Samuel Adams sent me a hat. I may only wear it when I get drunk, but I wear the glory 24/7. Have a look at the judges’ report cards:
Before I close, I’d like to share a link to some of the wedding photos taken by our guests. When I get a hold of the digital copies from our official photographer, I’ll share them there.