Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 travels

Somewhat for myself, a list of travel I (or Helen and I) did in 2008:

Lake Tahoe for a weekend of skiing
Mammoth Mountain for a week of skiing

Disneyland for the company winter trip
Boston to see my Grandfather
Lake Tahoe for a weekend of skiing

Lake Tahoe two weekends for skiing
NYC for Helen to go to the Opera, and me to hang out with Kacy and Kevin

Boston for my Dad's 60th birthday
Lake Tahoe for one weekend of skiing
Pittsburgh for Carnegie Mellon's Carnival

Qatar for the first graduation of Carnegie Mellon Qatar and a side jaunt to Jordan to see the Dead Sea and Petra
Los Angeles for Helen's grandmother's 80th birthday
San Francisco for my bachelor party (not exactly travel, but people traveling to see me!)

Lake Tahoe for Jeremy's wedding

No travel!

Helen and my wedding in Burlingame (again, not travel but our favorite people came to us)
Maui for our honeymoon (Lahaina/Ka'anapali and Hana)
Boston and Maine for labor day

No major travel

No major travel

Maine for the Maine Brewery Festival
Los Angeles for Thanksgiving

Mendocino/Fort Bragg for beer tasting
LA for Christmas
Maine for Christmas

Miles flown in 2008:

Friday, December 05, 2008

Holiday Ale postmortem (or How I accidentally started a lambic)

The holiday ale was just thrown down the drain.

Cause: bacterial growth

Symptoms: persistent "fermentation" (aka bubbling in the airlock), even far past the window it should happen, a weird sour apple smell out of the airlock.

  • Percent sugar recorded at ~3% by hydrometer after almost two weeks with consistent bubbling implies a "gusher infection" per How to Brew
  • That sour lambic smell that shouldn't happen in a holiday ale.
  • Wort tasted and confirmed un-sugary and un-alcoholy. And just plain wrong. Yes, I drank bacterially-contaminated wort.
Things to do better next time:
  • Sanitize equipment better (we used unsanitized equipment to squeeze the hops bags outside the acceptable temperature range to do such a thing, and I can think of a couple other things we could sanitize better)
  • Sanitize hands (hand sanitizer purchased)
  • Take a specific gravity reading so I can earlier test when something seems wrong and pull the plug earlier, with more confidence.
Ok, that's all I got, folks. Scotch ale being brewed next week on an evening.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Current brewing projects

Back to brewing

For my twenty-first birthday, my parents bought me a True Brew beer brewing setup. I brewed two True Brew kits in college, and then moved to California.

When I brewed in college, I fermented beer in the basement. The apartment was also air conditioned, overall keeping the beer within the range of good fermentation temperatures (68-72 approximately for ales).

In the bay area, however, most people don't air condition. This presents a problem to trying to keep the beer within good fermentation temperatures. Our apartment doesn't have AC, and I never felt comfortable that we could keep the beer in a good fermentation range. I didn't try to solve the problem, I just left the equipment in the closet.

About 2 months ago, I saw a Brewcraft Rogue Dead Guy kit on, and on an impulse, I purchased it! I got back into brewing!

During fermentation, it actually stayed at pretty much the right temperature in our back closet in November, and last weekend I kegged it (kegerator setup to follow in a subsequent post). Last night, we drank the first beer from the keg! Although a bit flat, it was pretty tasty and I will work on carbonating it a bit more.

More posts to follow, including:
  • Kegerator setup
  • Fermentation cooler setup (I can brew ales or lagers year round!)
  • Current projects