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What’s Past Is Prologue

Growing up, the family yard had a few gargantuan tree’s of various age and limited function. The sweet-gums in the front yard cast these terrible golf-ball sizes pods that crunched and pricked. The sycamores along the side of the house were good for nothing but sloughing sheets of crispy flesh and monster leafs. If their only purpose was to serve as decoration, they barely passed a such. The neighborhood did not have (and still does not have) any exit but the primary entrance from the main drag on which it sat. Our neighbors were nearly all past middle age with full-grown offspring and few kids in the age group of me and mine. It was quiet. I’m not complaining, of course.

I mention this only to say that we never had a treehouse. Not, at least, until I was 17. It was only after I was driving and, embarrassingly, only just shaving that I had found a place where my friends and I would do those things that I had imagined kids in treehouses did. We were loud. Boisterous. Admitted rude but deeply honest. There was no literal tire-swing or playfully sexist admission sign, but there were games and music and the first nights of my life in which three in the morning was commonplace. We told stories and made new ones. The club’s membership was constantly rotating, always open and never bare. Sometime people ask you “where you grew up”. I expect few people are able to answer as specifically as a single room. I grew up with plaid furniture and cackling lunatics.

After nine years, the treehouse stands as one of the longest standing traditions in my life. I guess I still think myself young enough to be surprised that I could have done anything consistently for nearly a decade. I have attended no school or held any job as long as I have worked to make a blue couch fit as comfortably as a well-worn slipper.

On Saturday, I helped take our treehouse apart. When the sun was setting, I saw the place empty but marked with the unmistakable pattern of our adolescence. Later that night I saw it put back together again in a new tree. The toys were still mostly in their boxes, but everything important was right where it was supposed to be. My friends were there. Nothing changed. Thanks to everyone making sure it never will.

Now I know that I’m not
All that you got
I guess that I, I just thought
Maybe we could find new ways to fall apart
But our friend are back
So let’s raise the toast
‘Cause I found someone to carry me home

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Bitch Hunter: The Beginning

Last weekend, the old lady helped me whip up a batch of Bitch Hunter. Well, we made a Witbier, anyway. Yesterday, I added the raspberry puree and moved things into another carboy. Today, I noticed a secondary fermentation has started off. The oddest thing that’s happening is that instead of a thick, fluffy head, what I’m seeing is a bit thinner, a bit denser and appears to be lifting off of the liquid beneath it. You’ll see it in the pictures. The stuff has a good purplish hue to it but the wife is worried it won’t be quite berry-ish enough. Never fear, we have a small bottle of raspberry extract I think I’m going to add to small percentage of the batch during bottling. Some will be more potent than others.

The only thing left to do in the next two weeks is drink the other 30 bottles I need to rack this batch. But that’s OK, Rose’s homecoming is in a couple of weeks and I’m sure I’ll have help emptying some bottles.

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Bitch Hunter: The Preview

I went ahead and took tomorrow off of work to burn through some ridiculous vacation time I’ve squirreled away. I’ve decided it’s finally time to try my hand at a little more complicated brew. Truly, it’s probably not that complicated. But it’s not in the playbook, dammit, and that’s difficult enough for me. Maybe this is why cooking has always seemed so daunting a thing for me: math and science are based on a series of knowns and proofs that if I do something a particular way than the results are guaranteed or at least predictable. If you deviate from your math book… good luck, asshole.

And so for my next trick I will be stealing a recipe from the fine folks at Man Cave Brewing in order to make my wife happy. Beer’s not really her swag unless there is a copious amount of fruit involved so I’ve decided I’m going with a fruity little beer that I’ve tried (and enjoyed) that the folks call Bitch Hunter. Apparently it’s still mostly a kit beer with a few modifications that seem sort of last minute. The Man Cave recipe (which I’m sure they won’t care that I divulge) is just:

  • A Brewer’s Best Witbier kit
  • A 3+ pound can of raspberry puree
  • Additional light candy sugar

I was able to find all that I required at my local boutique and even found an additional container of raspberry extract that is so strong it pierces its sealed container. I’m not sure if it will be required, but it seemed a simple thing to include.

Let’s see how tomorrow goes, bitch.

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Dumb Blonde Joke: Pour, Drink, Forget

I just wanted to pop on here really quick and mention that the Imperial Blonde Ale has been drinkable for like three weeks now. I’ve had like four or five and have not yet taken a picture. But here are my initial impressions as I recall them: woohoo! It’s nice and strong, has good clarity and the carbonation took a little better than the IPA did.

While I’m here, I’ll also mention that I did bottle the Sunset and July after three weeks in the secondary and it should come due maybe this weekend. I’ve distributed a few bottles with the warning that they need a little time still, but reviews should pour in shortly? My first crack at one might not come this weekend as I consumed far too many fermented beverages this weekend at a friend’s nuptials so I’m sort of taking myself out of play for a little while. Does anyone else find that Anheiser Busch products give them the worst hangovers regardless of the quantity consumed? Just me then? OK.

I also found out today that the second-to-last Amber Alert was finally consumed yesterday by someone who actually received one of the first out of the basement. It was met to, I would say, rave reviews. Makes me excited to crack the very last one later this summer.

That’s all on the beer front for now. Not quite sure what the next one is going to be, but I bet it will be decided in the next week or so.

Drink up.

The Blonde looks blonde to me

An Evening With Beer: Transfer & Bottle

I’ve fallen a little behind on updates but I wanted to get some of these pictures and information up here before I moved on any further. This post then qualifies as “Dumb Blonde Joke: The Bottling” and “Sunset in July: The Transfer”.

Because of my brewing schedule and a quick trip out of town last week, I had to both bottle my Imperial Blonde Ale (Dumb Blonde Joke) and then transfer my Summer Ale (Sunset in July) in the same evening. The transfer was really more pressing than the bottling but I only have two carboys so I had to get the secondary emptied out before I could use it. This coming weekend is a little busy, but I hope to maybe bottle the Sunset on Sunday (ha).

I might have made a mistake or two when I was working but my constant absent-mindedness hasn’t tripped me up yet so we’ll see. I don’t think I swirled the Dumb Blonde Joke very well before bottling it so there’s a bit of a question as to whether or not I’m going to get good carbonation. Also, I didn’t filter the Sunset when I was transferring it though it sat for some time and I kept a good eye on the tubing and don’t think I transferred too much junk from the bottom at this time.

Both the Blonde and the Sunset went through a bit of a color change in the secondary, but I think what I’m seeing is actually the beer clearing up a little bit in the secondary. Both brews showed their very blonde/yellow hues in the secondary because they were very cloudy and that gave the light something to reflect off of. Now, I see the stuff in the secondary and its nearly ink (due at least partly to darker basement conditions). I was worried at first (as Shives can attest to) but the Blonde was the perfect color when I was bottling it and it certainly smacked of beer when I sampled it. Final Gravity was also well within range. So, all this panicking for nothing.

The two week mark for the Blonde in bottles is this weekend, though I probably won’t chill more than one bottle to check its progress. I’m going to have to learn a little patience as each of the beers has gotten a good deal better the longer I let it condition. Two weeks seems like the theoretical soonest you can drink some recipes; everything has improved a good deal at the four week mark. But I might be out of other stuff by then. I guess that’s the Brewer’s Dilema.

While in Cincinatti this weekend, I picked up a couple bottles at the Party Source. I found the Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA which I’ve had from the Mellow Mushroom a number of times and enjoyed. The gentlemen there also recommended Laughing Dog’s “Alpha Dog” if I really wanted to be shitting hops by the end of the night (115 IBU’s!). The Avery is around 100 IBU’s but a healthy 10.5% ABV. I always make sure to get that before pizza arrives. Though, when we were at the Mushroom on Friday, they informed me they were out of the Maharaja and did not expect to get it back. I promised them that after I was finished with my meal, I would imbibe the last of their worthy second place (Southern Tier 2x IPA) and then, after dabbing my mouth with a napkin, sing the song that ends the Earth.

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Dad’s Dirty IPA: The Pour

I sort of cut this one close when I opened it up on Sunday. It would have been 2 weeks nearly to the minute since it was bottled so the head was a little less than satisfactory. But I’m pleased to report that everything else about it seemed completely on point for the recipe. Whatever little taste I kept sensing in the Amber Alert and Huskerweizen was no longer there.

Just before drinking this first Dad’s Dirty IPA, I drank one of the last Amber Alerts. It was significantly better than the 5 or 6 I had had up until this point. This would have been about 10 weeks since it was bottled and that pesky imperfection I first detected after it was done is now gone. Unfortunately, I now only have one remaining Amber which I’ll probably just sort of keep for the next special occasion. I will, from this point, probably one one from each batch at two weeks after bottling  but probably won’t distribute any of it until at least three weeks pending a second review. It appears patience is the name of the game, folks. I hope to still have at least a case of the Dad’s Dirty IPA left at the ~6 week mark to see if it has really made a difference and perhaps stretch the enjoyment out a bit.

That’s all from the brewery. Let me know if you want a Dirty and I’ll see what I can do.

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Dumb Blonde Joke: The Brew

I fired up a fourth batch on my day off on Friday with the assistance of @Alex_Drumm and Dave. This was kit, but it was a Brewer’s Best “Premium” kit. The only difference I can see is the increased quantities of ingredients. There were a lot of parts. This one is supposed to be a 7.0% brew which is a good deal stronger than the other batches I’ve done before.

This guy is taking is dear sweet time on the primary. I would have to assume because of the higher amount of food for the yeast. We brewed Friday morning, and as I write this, I still have bubbles coming up through the trap. The IPA was a two-pump chump and finished in about 48 hours. I’m kind of excited by this prospect and am interested to see what color we end up with as I transfer this thing this weekend.

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Dad’s Dirty IPA: The Transfer

I realize I’m nearly two weeks behind on this post, but I promised I was going to be thorough so here’s the post I’m obligated to make.

I transferred the IPA from the primary to my brand-spanking-new secondary carboy a few weekends ago taking extra care to keep as much of the trub from the first out of this one.  I think the result is a little clearer than it was originally but it’s really hard to judge the “final” clarity of a beer when you’re viewing it through the lens of a 6.5 gallon carboy.  I hope to spend at least part of Father’s Day bottling this bad boy (how appropriate?) so we’ll be drinking this thing by the Fourth of July if we’re lucky.

Not a lot of graphics with this event, but there is a good shot of my now-completed Brewing Storage Center in the basement.

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Huskerweizen: The Pour

Last night I cracked open one of these bad-boys after two weeks in the bottle.  The color seems to be spot on (I’m sure the Blue Moon glass aids in its appearance) and it’s an appropriate level of cloudy.  The carbonation seems to have gone well (the photo was taken some time after the head settled).  Unfortunately, there’s a taste in this batch that was present in the last one that I can’t place my finger on.  I don’t know if it’s the water or the plastic from the fermenting pail or what, but it’s not something present in any homebrew I’ve had from other folks (even fellow amateurs).  It’s even in the smell a little bit.  Anyone have any thoughts?  I’ll distribute as many sample bottles as is required to solve this.

I think I’m going to imbibe one of my last remaining three Amber Alerts so that I can see if the issue has to do with aging.  The Amber Alert has been drinkable for nearly a month, but it’s been at least two weeks since I’ve had one.  Curious.

I’ll soon know if it’s plastic since Dad’s Dirty IPA was fermented (and continues to do so) entirely in glass.

The mystery continues!

Dad’s Dirty IPA: The Brew

My old man came down early (well, 10am early) to give me a hand brewing this new kit. I had forgotten to order a kit from Midwest Earlier in the week, so I just went out to the local supplier and picked up a Brewer’s Best IPA kit. It was a little more expensive, but I didn’t have to pay shipping so the thing might have come out as a wash. I have to say, there was a lot more going on in this simple extract kit than in any of the others I’ve done so far. Lots of extract, lots of grains, lots of hops. It’s a good thing I prepared a lot of water for this.

Everything went very smoothly since I remember to prep a few things ahead of time before starting which I had failed to do previously. The only hiccup I’d say we encountered was having a really hard time filtering during the transfer to the carboy. I usually bag the hops to make this stage easier, but this kit came with more hops than I could bag and I was forced to throw in the aroma hops loose into the wort. This was how I figured out that my the filter size on my strainer is way too big. The constant stop-and-start of the transfer caused even more trub to loosen up from the bottom of the kettle which just clogged my strainer even faster. Dad and I made quite a mess, hence, Dad’s Dirty IPA.

However, even with our losses and being forced to leave some quality wort behind with the hop-sludge, we still got 3 gallons of wort into the carboy before needing to top it off with water which is pretty good in my book. We wrapped up around 1pm and by 10pm, as you can see, we’re fermenting just fine. Which I am really happy about, be cause once again I forgot to take a gravity reading before adding the yeast. So we’re placing this by ear again.

I’ll let you know how things go next week when we move to the secondary. I plan on taking steps to be very careful on the transfer to see if we can’t clear this batch up a little bit.