Sep 5, 2006

One down

Just finished my first week of classes, kinda.

Actually, yesterday's classes are being replaced tomorrow, which I'll miss along with everything else until 9/14. So far I've had Physical Planning - Waterfront (wed. night), Intro to Housing (thurs. night), Urban Data Analysis (tues. afternoon) and Intro to GIS (tues. night). The missing link is Intro to Transportation Planning (mon. morning).

So that's what my next three and a half months looks like. Except for the next week. Maybe I'll come back at ya with some kotowaza action when we return.


Sep 3, 2006

What's brewing? 9/3/06

We racked the saison to the secondary last Thursday (8/31), even though activity in the primary was still evident. Specific gravity was 1.014, and the lactic acid was contributing a pronounced, but not offensive, sourness. Color was a light amber. Should be an interesting beer.

I had attempted to reculture the Saison Dupont yeast, but it was showing no signs of cooperating. I've read that Dupont yeast not only prefers warmer climes, but will actually go dormant when temps drop below 78F or so. So maybe last week's cool spell was to blame. Anyway, I went ahead and threw it into the secondary in hopes that the existing yeast would kick-start the Dupont. Whether this succeeded or not we may never know, but several days later there is still some slow bubbling in the airlock.

Bottling will have to wait until after we return from Japan on the 13th, but perhaps that's for the best.

Aug 27, 2006

What's brewing? 8/27/06

This summer has provided fewer opportunities for brewing than I anticipated, with house guests and little weekend trips really hampering my "marathon of Belgian styles" efforts. But there's still time before autumn, and yesterday I finally brewed my saison.

From what I've read about the style, the mash traditionally consisted of malted barley and whatever other grains were available - often unmalted wheat or spelt. Difficult as it was to come across, I decided to give spelt a try. So my partial mash consisted of:

- 1lb spelt grain
- 1/2lb Caramunich malt
- 3lb Belgian 2-row pilsener malt

I began the mash by soaking the spelt stovetop for 30 minutes at around 115F. Then added the Caramunich and brought the temp up to 140F. Poured this grist into my mashtun, topped it off with the pilsener malt and added more water to stabilize the whole thing at 140F for 30 minutes. Added some boiling water to bring the temp close to 150F, and a little decoction put it right at 150F, where I held the mash for an additional 45 minutes. Sparged with 1.5gal water around 170F, to which I added 1/2oz food-grade lactic acid. This was recommended for lowering the pH of the brew water to approximate local conditions, as well as to provide a sourness characteristic of some traditional saison beers. Of course I guessed on the amount required... 1/2oz could be way too much!

The boil for saisons also tends to be longer, so I gave 90 minutes a try. At the beginning I added:

- 3lb extra-light DME
- 1/2lb wheat DME
- 1lb Belgian clear candi sugar
- 2oz Hallertau 3.9% AA bittering hops
- 1/2oz Saaz 3.3% AA bittering hops

The water level in the brew kettle was already at 3 gallons, so I added no more. After 75 minutes, added

- 1/2oz Styrian Goldings flavor hops
- 1/2oz bitter orange peel
- 1tsp ground coriander
- 1tsp Irish moss

After another 13 minutes, added

- 1/2oz Saaz aroma hops

Boiled for 2 more minutes, and strained wort into primary fermenter.

Since the boil was longer than usual, the post-boil wort was only 2 gallons. This meant a greater addition of cold water to get 5 gallons, which dropped the temp below 80F quicker. Original gravity: 1.054. I wasn't working from a particular recipe this time, but that OG is reasonable for the style, and is actually a little higher than I expected.

I had a starter culture going from the Wyeast Belgian Ardennes yeast purchased a while back, so I pitched that right away. By this morning the primary was rowdy with yeast activity, and it's still going strong tonight. When I transfer to the secondary in a few days, my intention is to add yeast recultured from a bottle of Saison Dupont.

Aug 23, 2006

Kotowaza of the day: Patience... or an exercise in futility?


Suitō wo motte taizan wo kobotsu

Meaning of Japanese:
Bring a large mountain to rubble with a small sword

English equivalent:
To empty the sea with a (tea)spoon

Related kotowaza:

Aug 16, 2006

Kotowaza of the day: Behind the smile


Ese-mono no sora-warai

Meaning of Japanese:
Beware the person who flatters with fake smiles/laughter

English equivalent:
A smiling boy seldom proves a good servant

Aug 14, 2006

What's brewing? 8/14/06

We bottled the Orval clone on Saturday, adding 3/4 cup clear candi sugar. Final gravity was 1.010, the low end of the predicted range, for about 6.2% alcohol by volume. A little low compared with the real mccoy, but perfect for the recipe.

Of course there's no carbonation yet, but this beer actually tasted very good pre-bottling. The dry-hop is pleasantly evident in the nose, and to a lesser degree in the flavor, without imparting too much bitterness. The color is right on, too. I'm excited to try this beer in a few weeks!

Aug 10, 2006

Kotowaza of the day: Techniques in PR, pt. 1


Gaki no danjiki, akujo no kenjaburi

Meaning of Japanese:
The fasting of a starved devil, the affected wisdom of a wicked woman

English equivalent:
Don't make a virtue of necessity