Jun 27, 2006

What's brewing? 6/27/06

Yesterday we bottled the amber ale, adding 1 1/4 cup amber DME for bottling sugar. Final gravity was 1.014 - right about where it should be. Since the original gravity was 1.055, this beer will have about 5.5% alcohol (by volume).

For me it's still difficult to have a sense of what the conditioned (carbonated, matured) beer will be like, just from tasting it at the time of bottling. This one seemed a little... blah... although the body was good and the allspice did impart a nice hint of clove. Who knows, once it's rested in the bottles for a month or so and had a chance to carbonate it may turn out very well.

Done watched 'em git hitched

Last Saturday we attended a wedding in Chicago, for which I had the pleasure of being a best man. It was great fun all around, getting to see John and Karen and their friends again, running into some old Kansas State cronies, and meeting a few new cool people, like Frank. There was also some tasty food and beverage action. (thanks, parents of the bride and groom!)

We drove, which made for very long days on Thursday and Sunday, but it also meant Kona could go along. She was happy about that - a bigger apartment to romp around in, and lots of grass outside. But after 13 hours in the car Sunday, we were all glad to be back home in Nueva York.

Welcome to the married kids club, J&K!

**Oh, and I was an idiot and forgot our camera on Saturday, so I can't even post a photo to show how great everyone looked.

Jun 19, 2006

What's brewing? 6/19/06

New feature!
By way of explanation, I've been meaning to keep a homebrewing notebook to record recipes and methods, what worked, what didn't, etc. If you're interested or even curious about homebrewing, read on! Otherwise, this'll just be for my benefit.

So I'm getting a late start on this notebook. I'm already working on my fifth batch since rejoining the ranks of homebrewers in Fall '05, and I've got paper records of several brews made back in '97-'01. Abridged info for past brews may eventually find their way online, but for now let's deal with what's in the carboy...

It's an amber ale, modified from the Wild Hogge Amber Ale recipe in Clone Brews. Their description:
Straight from the British island of Berumuda, this satisfying, thirst-quenching light amber ale has a caramel, malty, hoppy nose and flavor. The aftertaste of this full-bodied alt beer is smooth and slightly sweet.
I started this one on 6/14 as a partial mash, like all my beers lately. The grain bill was

- 2lb British 2-row pale malt
- 12oz 60L US crystal malt
- 4oz Vienna malt
- 4oz chocolate malt

mashed by step infusion, for 30 minutes at around 130F, then for 10 minutes at 140F, and another 50 minutes at about 148F. Three steps simply because the recommended amount of added boiling water did not raise the mash temp to 150 on the first shot. 148 was a compromise, but I suspect that my mash efficiency was well below the target 75%. Anyway, I sparged with 1.5gal water at 170F and began boil. At 60 minutes, added

- 4.5lb light DME
- 8oz malto-dextrin (this adds body, as the sugar is largely unfermentable)
- 3/4oz Northern Brewer 8%AA bittering hops

Added water to 2.5gal in the brew kettle. At 45 minutes, added

- 1oz Styrian Goldings flavor hops
- 1tsp Irish moss

At 13 minutes, added

1/2oz Tettnanger aroma hops

Boiled for 2 more minutes, and strained wort into primary fermenter. Original gravity: 1.055, a little lower than the target range, possibly due to poor mash.

I had a nice 8oz yeast starter going in the fridge (two strains - German ale and American ale - because both were a tad on the old side), but I couldn't pitch that night because our hot apartment just wasn't allowing the wort to cool below 80F. When I pitched the next morning, I dumped the yeast starter direct from the fridge into the wort in my rush out the door, not thinking about temperature shock. But did this kill off the yeast? Nope. I returned home to find the wort bubbling away happily.

On 6/18 I racked to the secondary, and added a small handful (15-20?) of boiled whole allspice berries in the process. I'm hoping this gives just a hint of clovey, cinnamony goodness without going overboard. Gravity at transfer was 1.015, almost down to the target final gravity. The air in our apartment is easily over 80F during the day now, so I've wrapped a wet towel around the carboy to cool the beer down a bit. Today there was still some foamy action on top, though the airlock is relatively static.

All that remains for this one is bottling. My next four brews are destined to be Belgian styles. I've got some Orval yeast waiting for me in the refrigerator, and three Wyeast pitchables on the way from Northern Brewer.

Jun 18, 2006

Kotowaza of the day: Finding value in the dull thud


Akidaru wa oto ga takai

Meaning of Japanese:
An empty cask/barrel makes a loud sound

English equivalent:
Empty vessels make the most noise
The worst wheel always creaks most

Related kotowaza:

Jun 15, 2006

Kotowaza of the day: You snooze, you lose?

早起きは三文の徳, or

Hayaoki wa san mon no toku

Meaning of Japanese:
The early riser profits by three mon*

English equivalent:
The early bird catches the worm
He that will thrive must rise at five
The cow that's first up gets the first of the dew

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise

*The mon (文) was a monetary unit in Japan during the Tokugawa shogunate. One mon was equal to 1/1000 of a kan (貫), which was in turn 1/4 of a ryō (両). With the Meiji Restoration the system of money changed, and one ryō was equivalent to one yen (円), the only unit in commercial use today. (The yen is divisible into 100 sen (銭), but these are called into action only to express fractional share prices in fiscal markets.)

Jun 12, 2006

Kotowaza of the day: Vox oculi


Me wa kuchi hodo ni mono-wo iu

Meaning of Japanese:
The eyes say as much (are as expressive as) the mouth

English equivalent:
The heart's letter is read in the eyes
The eyes have one language everywhere

Jun 10, 2006

Kotowaza of the day: Dressing the part


Koromo bakari de oshō wa dekinu

Meaning of Japanese:
The robe alone does not make a Buddhist monk

English equivalent:
It is not the beard that makes the philosopher
The cowl does not make the monk

Jun 7, 2006

Kotowaza of the day: Don't get snotty with me


Mekuso hanakuso-wo warau

Meaning of Japanese:
The eye mucus laughs/scoffs at the nasal mucus

English equivalent:
The pot calling the kettle black

Jun 5, 2006

Kotowaza of the day: High-context communication


Ichi to iutara, ni to satore

Meaning of Japanese:
When you are told one thing, think and anticipate what follows
literally - when you are told one (the first), intuit/sense two (the second)

English equivalent:
A word is enough to a wise man
Send a wise man on an errand, and say nothing unto him

Jun 4, 2006

Kotowaza of the day: On Utility, pt. 2


Muyō no yō

Meaning of Japanese:
Seemingly useless, but actually useful

English equivalent:
Keep a thing seven years and you will find a use for it

One man's trash is another man's treasure

Related Kotowaza: