Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I'm not most people.

John Palmer says (though I paraphrase), "Most people, once they try all-grain brewing, say they can't believe it's so easy." Riiiiiiiiight.

Of course, most people don't have a giant earthquake in the middle of their first-ever fly sparge. Ok, so that didn't really have any impact on the process, it just sounded dramatic.

It took me seven hours, start to finish. For someone with ADD, that's a very long time to keep paying attention. But I did it, and amazingly, somehow I managed to achieve my target gravity of 1.050 the first time. I'm not sure my efficiency was really where it ought to be, mostly because I have no idea how much wort I had. Yeah, I know, that's really dumb. But I was using the beautiful new pot my buddy gave me, and unlike my other pot, it is unmarked. I think I only boiled 5 gallons, and lost 2 to boil-off so I had to top my pot off with water after all. But I honestly have no idea.

I used the yeast nutrient he gave me, and a brand new aquarium burbler to oxygenate... And had the slowest yeast start I've had in two years with the lowest volume of krausen I've ever had. Coulda been the yeast, obviously, but still a little disheartening. I'm concerned I'll have to re-pitch to get a full attenuation.

My first attempt with the grain mill the night before was hilarious. It's a Ferminator Grain Gobbler that uses a power drill to run it.... I got it set up (I thought)in a workable manner, started grinding, and grain pretty much was flying everywhere. Only about half of it was even cracked after this first go-round. I cleaned up the rat buffet from my garage, and thought about it overnight, coming up with a much more sturdy set-up. This time, I had both the drill and the rollers in a better position and achieved full grinding. Pulverizing in some instances. But now I know what to do with this item.

I will be truly surprised if this beer turns out at all. But hey, it was a learning experience. And there was some stuff that went really well - no stuck sparge, for example, and the aforementioned OG target. Hopefully this rotgut will evolve for the next batch into something more drinkable.


In the glass: Nuffin'. I'm at work. Shhhhhh.
In the fridge: Alaskan Amber I don't want, and maybe one bottle of Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous
In the primary: the maiden all-grain pale ale. Working title: Brackish Pond.
In the secondary: My amber - it needs a name.
In the kegerator: The Arrogant Bastard, depleting steadily. Racer 17 the IPA clone, carbonating. It taps tomorrow!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More beer. No, really, a lot more beer.

Well, it seems that last blog post started something... Because I've been on fire with beer stuff ever since. Many developments, including...

The amber. I backed off my assertion I was making an alt-style and went instead with something that is supposed to be closer to Anderson Valley Boont Amber. I drank half a six-pack of Alaskan Amber and was forced to admit I just plain don't like it. At least I like Boont Amber, even if I don't usually choose it when I'm out. I did it sort of off the cuff, with hops I had on hand and a fairly simple grain bill. My last extract brew? Perhaps... Anyway, it's got another week of secondary before it's going in the keg and the kegerator for conditioning.

More importantly, I received a critical text last Tuesday night - yes, my friend was bringing over the all-grain gear. Huzzah! I spent today washing everything up, getting it ready... Cleanliness is next to godliness, I think we can all agree... Anyway... I bought all the grain I need... I'm ready to jump in next weekend. Gotta figure out how to operate the grain mill, the sparge arm, the plate chiller.

Oy, don't be intimidated... Don't be intimidated...


In the glass: Stone Arrogant Bastard. Like me!
In the fridge: Eel River Organic IPA / Alaskan Amber I don't want
In the fermenter: The amber
In the kegerator: Did I mention it's a keg of Arrogant Bastard? Oh yeah. And the Racer 5 clone is conditioning.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Racer5ish... And ready for the next one.

Long months later, an update. This will be... A beer update. Hoorah.

I've got a nice Racer 5 clone finishing its ferment in the closet over there. Based upon a recipe I found online and then promptly recopied incorrectly, it has, nonetheless, been delivering a host of pleasant aromas each time we open the door. Turns out that So CA in the winter has a perfect ambient temp average of 68 degrees so my ale needs nothing but darkness to shine. Darkness, and proper sanitation, and I'm feeling pretty good about the latter now that I've switched to Star San.

So that little Prez Day project has me stoked to do some more. For the first time ever, I've decided to go ahead and brew a style that is not my favorite. I want to see if it's just other folks versions I don't like, or if there's something inherent in it that doesn't fly with me. And, my old boss really likes this style so I'll bottle it up for him if I don't like it. What, you're asking, what is this style so reviled? Amber ale. Alt-style. Alaskan Amber for a commercial example.

But, the real question is, why the sudden resurgence of brewing, when I had kinda taken a break for awhile? Two reasons. One, I think I gotta stop buying bottled beer. I mean, mine tastes just as good most of the time. Mine's cheaper. And when it's on draft I can have smaller amounts and enjoy it just as much. Two, a colleague has told me he's entrusting his all-grain gear to my care.

This is an amazing development. All-grain brewing is a significant investment of both time and money - the gear can be expensive and the process is more labor intensive. To be able to learn the process without shelling out for my own gear is a terrific opportunity. And, supposedly, he's got the full set - a grain mill, an aquarium pump aerator, a plate chiller.... Not sure he's giving me that part, but what the heck is he going to do with it? Use it as a desk bauble? He even has a fermenting fridge - and I sold mine when I left Tucson because I didn't think
I had room for it. Well, I do need something for the summer temps. And I cleaned the garage up aaaaalllll niiiiiiiceeeee.... We'll see if I'll be allowed to keep the fridge too.


In the glass: the dreaded Alaskan Amber. Gotta learn the style before I brew it.
In the fridge: Eel River Organic IPA
In the fermenter: My new Racer 5 clone.
In the kegerator: Nada. Yep, I suck.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Where's Heather?

Hey y'all -

Thanks for dropping in on the Dogdish Steering blog. Some of you are likely visiting because you're following me on Twitter and checked my profile. Sweet! What you've probably figured out, though, is that I don't have the attention span to update more than one thing at once so I've been more focused on Twitter and haven't updated here in awhile. Sorry 'bout that.

I foresee a time when I will get back to authoring thoughts longer than 140 characters, though, so do keep visiting. You never know what sort of info you might find here. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter:

Monday, February 09, 2009

Possibly the best user-generated brand love I've ever seen.

Heard about this on Twitter courtesy of @davidhenderson RT @db:

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The competition.

Don't want to do it my way? You can do it this way instead!

MR.BEER® Home Brewing Kits. American's #1 Home Brewing System. Makes a great gift!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jewel Quest Addiction

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