Archive for the beer Category

Apparently 1-800-Flowers.com doesn’t think they’ve screwed over enough people.

Posted in beer, Photo, projects, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2009 December 14 by KLP

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.

I had six groomsmen, properly represented by the label.

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.

Subway Surfing in Moscow!

Posted in adventure, beer with tags , , on 2008 April 13 by KLP

Twenty-four hours, three beers, 27 subway stops, several Soviet monuments, one hitched ride, and one fanny-pack later, I am about to pass out. For serious. I couldn’t sleep at all on the flight from JFK to Sheremetyevo so I watched The Host on my laptop and read DMZ Vol. 4: Friendly Fire and a little bit of Flight Vol. 2. After arriving at the hotel, I showered and passed out for a little bit, and then went into Moscow to do some touristy stuff. I got some good photos but, like the ass that I am, I forgot to bring the USB cable that connects my camera to my laptop. Therefore, it will be a little while before I can share them. Also, Baltika is a good brand of beer.

Beer, Music, and My Cube.

Posted in beer, music with tags , , , , , , on 2007 October 5 by KLP

Topics to be addressed:

  • Sunday’s brew session
  • In Rainbows – the new album by Radiohead
  • The upcoming Arcade Fire show
  • My cubicle

Everything seemed to just work on Sunday, despite the fact that I was brewing in a small kitchen and that there is plenty of nice carpet that was just asking to be spilled on. The brew entailed the following recipe, which I adapted from the one here:

Grain

  • 8lbs. Marris Otter
  • 2lbs. Vienna
  • 0.5lb. CaraHell (Crystal 10L)

Hops (Cascade only)

  • 1oz. at 60 minutes
  • 0.5oz. at 30 minutes
  • 0.25oz. at 15 minutes
  • 0.25oz. at 5 minutes
  • 1oz. irish moss divided between additions at 15 and 5 minutes

Procedure

  • Mash at 152°F with 3.5 gallons of water – about 1.33 quarts/lb. of grain.
  • Batch sparge at 175°F to collect about 6.5 gallons of wort.
  • 60 minute boil with hops and irish moss additions as listed. Collect about 5.5 gallons.
  • Chill to 73.4°F and pitch Wyeast 1065 yeast.

Several factors made this brew day go really well. For one, my head is in a better place than during past brew days. I’m employed and not worrying about exams, senior design, etc. This means I wasn’t preoccupied and was thus less apt to make mistakes. Kat was also a big help. She weighed out my grains and made me food. We shared the kitchen surprisingly well even with all of my brewing equipment in the way. Upgrades I made to my equipment proved beneficial. I modified my grain mill so I could use my electric drill instead of a hand crank and purchased a wine whip and a six-gallon glass carboy. The modification to the mill and the wine whip took a lot of labor out of the brewing process. They were both fun to use and very effective. Above all, the carboy just looks nice. It allows me to watch the fermentation process. Watching the yeast go to work after brewing for most of the day is very rewarding. Here’s a video:

I made two changes to my technique that made my brew session much easier. First, I made a large yeast starter over the course of the previous week. Doing so allowed for active fermentation to happen much sooner, which meant less risk for infection and less time for me to worry if I did something wrong. Second, instead of fly sparging, I batch sparged. I don’t know if I will go back to fly sparging. It’s too much work and there are too many opportunities for mistakes to happen. Fly sparging is too much like the examples in MATH 211, Differential Equations, where there’s a flow rate of fresh water coming into a reservoir with an initial salt content and a flow rate leaving the reservoir and you have to find a solution for the salt content over time. It sucks. Batch sparging is like taking a bath, where you don’t have to deal with rates. Batch sparging allowed me to achieve the proper malt content in my wort, as well as the proper batch size, which is something I was not able to do in previous attempts at fly sparging. I only regret not learning about batch sparging earlier in my brewing career and not brewing this particular batch a few weeks earlier. If I had, then it might be ready for Oktoberfest. Next year. Here’s a slide show of the brew session.

I have a blog. I like Radiohead. Therefore I guess I have to contribute to the hype surrounding In Rainbows, their new album, available for free download on October 10th. Even though I haven’t heard the album yet, and it has just as much potential as any other new album to suck, I am more of a Radiohead fan than I used to be. Why? Because the band is taking something on that I’ve been advocating for a little while now: that freely (and allegedly illegally) downloaded music should not correlate with lower sales of albums in tangible format. From this argument, one must conclude that if there is no loss, there is no theft, and thus no crime in pirating music. There should be no correlation for two main reasons. First, digital music is typically lower in quality than unadulterated music from a CD or even vinyl. The uncompressed music from a hard format, omitting cassette tapes and the like, just sounds better. And mp3s, for example, are often fraught with glitches that have none of the charm of those found on vinyl. Second, you can’t hold an mp3. It doesn’t exist as anything more than data. It’s not collectible. It’s worth no more than the space used to store it and the bandwidth used to transfer it. Hard formats, on the other hand, can be held, can fit on a shelf. You’re careful with whom you share them with. They are worth more than digital music files. Selling a tangible album then is simply a matter of convincing buyers that the album is worth adding to their collections. Doing so is accomplished by proving to the buyer that the music is good and offering more in the tangible version than can possibly be had digitally. Radiohead is doing just that. In addition to the free download, an exceptional album package is available for preorder, containing the album, with a bunch of extra songs, in both CD and vinyl, as well as tons of album art. At $80 or so, it’s expensive, but if the music is good enough, I’ll buy it. Final summation: downloading an album freely, and then not buying it in hard format does not make you a thief since you weren’t going to buy it anyway. If anything, pirating music gets people to go out and buy CDs, because they can do so without fear of getting ripped of. Rather, it is the big record companies that are the thieves for lobbying for the right to push crappy music on unwitting consumers and for trying to sell low quality mp3s at tangible album prices and not offering anything tangible. But I digress. Props go to Radiohead for adopting a smart business model.

Tomorrow I am going to see Arcade Fire, Les Savy Fav, LCD Soundsystem, and Blonde Redhead at Randalls Island, NY. I am pretty pumped, although not as pumped as I was when I saw Arcade Fire in February 2005. Their latest album, Neon Bible, is good, but I don’t like it as much as Funeral or Us Kids Know. Nevertheless, I know that they put on a great show, and I’ve heard that Les Savy Fav does as well. It looks like tomorrow should be a pretty awesome day.

As for my cubicle, it needs some work. See what I mean:

I’m thinking that in addition to better organization, it could use a beta fish or maybe an ant farm. Let me know what you think.

Sierra Nevada Clone

Posted in beer, projects with tags on 2007 March 7 by KLP

I tasted my latest brew for the third time in four weeks and it was delicious. It’s Sierra Nevada clone made with the following recipe:

  • 8 lbs. of Pale malt
  • 1 lb. Biscuit Malt
  • 1 lb. Crystal Malt
  • Mash at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour with 1 quart of water for every pound of grain
  • Sparge with 10 quarts of water at 170 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 60 minute boil; at 60 minutes add 1 oz. Chinook Hops, at 15 minutes add 1 oz. Perle Hops, at 2 minutes add 1 oz. Cascade Hops
  • Chill wort to less than 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pitch Wyeast 1056 (American Ale)

I fermented in the primary for about eight days and then in the secondary for two weeks. I used DME for priming. The last couple times that I tried the beer, it wasn’t so great. No esters, but hardly any flavor or carbonation. It’s totally delicious now and tastes very much like Sierra Nevada. I wouldn’t say that it’s exact, but I am very happy about it. The ABV is approximately 5% and my girlfriend, Kat, and I have decided to name the brew Last Semester Ale. Hopefully it will continue to age and get even tastier by St. Patrick’s day.

From Last Semester…

Pictured is the label Kat illustrated. I don’t really want to stick it on every bottle. I’d rather just save time and only put it on the ones that we give as gifts. Removing the original labels from the bottles is just two much of a pain. In fact, bottling in itself is a pain. I can see myself upgrading to a keg system within a year. Then again, there is an old school glamor to bottling and naturally carbonating, which isn’t to say that natural carbonation cannot be achieved when kegging. It’s just nice to see a little sediment at the bottom of the bottle, like that in Sierra Nevada Pale Ale bottles.

@dmytri

Venture Communist. Miscommunications Technologist. Telekommunisten Polemicist. ThoughtWorks Analyst.