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Drinking Sick

I went out last night, confirming to myself that I really was sick, and apparently, on the way home, I picked this up.

wha?

It's made of some kind of space-age rubber, and weighs about thirty pounds. I think it's made for being safe to run over with a car. I have no idea what it is, nor do I have any idea why I would have picked it up and carried it home. I need to stop drinking so much.

8:46 PM, Dec 3, 2004

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Second Brewing

Since the secondarfy fermentation for the first batch is winding down, I decided that it was time to get a second batch going. I have decided, in making this decision, that we'll bottle the first batch, just prior to tranferring this batch to the secondary. We're about to have a ton of beer available to us. I just hope it tastes good.

When I went to Peoria for Thanksgiving, I made sure to make a visit to Friar Tuck Beverage, and pick up ingredients for the next beer. The final decision was an India Pale Ale, known for their hoppy character and relatively heavy flavor.

Here are the hands of Josh and myself, steeping the two different kinds of speciality grains.

steeping.jpg

The wort began its boil, and I captured it on video, before getting fogged out.

The recipe we followed said that the original gravity, ideally, would be somewhere in the range of 1.050 to 1.055. When the boil was complete, Josh took a hydrometer reading, and came up with 1.054. We did a high-five, sealed up the beer, and put it into the pantry.

primaryferm.jpg

I think this one will be really good.

7:00 PM, Dec 4, 2004
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Christmas is Done

I finished my Christmas shopping yesterday, during a particluarly slow afternoon. It feels excellent to be done. The thing is, I'm certain I forgot something or someone. I always do.

We'll probably bottle the first batch of beer, this weekend, and use the opportunity to transfer the IPA over to the secondary fermenter. Keep an eye on the Brewing section for details.

Work has been picking up, as we have an exercise in Wisconsin scheduled to run in March. I have been making travel arrangements, and playing a game of tug-o-war with some of the people involved, as my struggle for nicer hotels for the same price continues.

1:34 PM, Dec 9, 2004

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Nut Brown

As is evident elsewhere, Josh and I bottled this weekend. From the dregs of the "Ale Pail," we siphoned two glasses, once the bottling was complete, and decided to have the first-ever Draught of the week without any carbon dioxide or nitrogen propulsion, or any carbonation, for that matter.

Here I operate the "tap."

fillup.jpg

The beer pours a deep copper color, and looks to be about three days stale.

full.jpg

Our first words after tasting it were, "to the next batch!" However, the more we had, the more we liked it. In addition, we guessed that this beer is very strong. the original gravity reading was 1.082, suggesting a potential alcohol content of about 12%. I don't think it was that strong, but the effects it seemed to have as soon as we each swalled a bit suggested that it was a very strong glass of beer. So, we've got that going for us.

empty.jpg

On top of that, the beer was neither carbonated nor chilled, which made it a bit odd. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. But again, I must mention the draw it had, to encourage us to keep drinking it.

Ratings (out of ten)

Flavor: 6 (Not bad, not great, but sort of like Newcastle. Belies its alcohol content.)

Body: 7 (Very thick. You know you're drinking beer you didn't buy at the store. Take that as you will.)

Aroma: 8 (This is the main redeeming factor, in my opinion. The hoppy aroma is pervasive, and promises good things to come. It gives me hope that the bottle conditioning will have a good effect.)

Smoothness: 7 (Actually goes down pretty smoothly. The more you drink, the more you want.)

Price: 2 (At about $230 to get everything in place, this is probably the most I've ever spent on beer. But then again, this whole brewing thing isn't about saving money.)

11:28 AM, Dec 12, 2004
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Bottling

The first of many moments of truth came this past weekend, and until now, I have been too busy/lazy to get it documented online. We bottled the Nut Brown on Saturday. December 11th, amid a flurry of inactivity and slovenly huzzah. I began by clearing a space in our spacious kitchen, and set the priming sugar to dissolve in some boiling water.

dissolving.jpg

After that, I drew up a sanitizing solution, and began, one by one, to sanitize the bottles we've saved up. Among the bottles we used were: Bell's Two Hearted, Bell's Winter White, New Belgium Frambozen, Dogfish Head Raison d'Etre, Victory Hopwallop, St. Pauli Girl Dark(blech!), Great Lakes Winter Lager, Anchor 30th Anniversary Winter, Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock, MacTarnahan Mac Frost, and some others I can't remember.

sanitizebottles.jpg

When we were ready to go, we transferred the beer(not wort anymore!) to the "Ale Pail," along with the priming sugar solution. About as soon as that happened, beer started to leak out the housing for the spigot, which we desperately tightened.

xfertobucket.jpg

When this happened, and when we couldn't figure out how to connect anything to the spigot, we just hooked up the bottle filler to the siphon, and ran it that way. It was no real trouble, except that we had to wash the, "Ale Pail."

joshfills.jpg

Josh filled the bottles, and I capped them. Here, you see the first case of our beer, ever.

firstcase.jpg

When that was all done, we transferred the IPA we brewed last weekend to the secondary, and agreed that we'll need to buy bottles for the next batch, as we just can't handle fifty more beers at home in such a short period.

xferipa.jpg

11:32 AM, Dec 15, 2004
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Pictures are Down

All the pictures on this site that are older than a couple of months are down, at the moment, as the server they live on is relocated. You probably didn't even notice, but if you did, woo hoo. They'll be back up, I'm assured, within a week. If, for some reason, you absolutely need a picture from there, just send me an email, and I'll send you my copy.

Also, there are some updates in the DOTW and Brewing sections.

11:55 AM, Dec 15, 2004

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I saved 2003

I just fixed the archived databased entries for 2003, making them look and behave like the rest of the site. While I was at it, I adapted the appearance of the 2002 and early 2003 entries to look like the rest of the site, as well. The latter two are not databased, but instead are drawn from a large flat file for each of them, from before I had comments on the site. Anyway, the archives should work fine now, and be pretty much in cadence with the rest of the site.

12:28 PM, Dec 20, 2004

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Tasting Invitation

You, the reader of this website, are cordially invited to my house to taste the Nut Brown we have so casually labored to produce. The official date of the tasting will be Tuesday, December 28th, at around 5pm, at my place in Kansas City. If you need directions, feel free to email me, and I'll get back to you with a detailed description. In addition to the Nut Brown, a very select few bottles of Joel's Dubbel and Tongue Splitter will be available. I think I might need to go and pick up a sixpack or two, as well.

3:47 PM, Dec 20, 2004
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Merry Christmas

Hello from Peoria, where I sit, beset by Christmas gifts. I have been here at Dad and Amy's house since the 22nd, and I finally have a quiet moment. Ironic that it's on Christmas day, n'est-ce pas?

I opened my first bottle of the Nut Brown we made, at the Caroling Party on Thursday, and was very pleased to see how good it was, though it definitely needed to complete its carbonation. That's what we get for cracking it early, I suppose. On Wednesday, Brian and I went over to Friar Tuck Beverage, and picked up a supply of ingredients for the next batch of beer. I will add some other things, and publish the recipe, if it turns out to be good, or maybe I won't, and I'll just make you wait for me to brew it, if you ever want any.

In conclusion, I got a fantastic ice cream scoop, and a raincoat, for Christmas.

11:15 AM, Dec 25, 2004

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2004 in Review

It's been a good year for me. I'll start with the bad things, though. My new job(in March) caused me to have to stop taking the bus to work, and as a result, all the exercise I was getting by having to habitually walk a couple miles a day ended, and I started picking up weight. My new year's resolution was to exercise for 200 days of 2004, and I think I may have managed about half that. I tried a number of times to get back into the habit of deliberate exercise, since my lifestyle no longer required it, but none of the attempts ever really caught on. In 2005, I resolve to make exercise a more permanent part of my life.

Another bad thing was that my brother moved out in July, leaving me without an easy roommate. He moved to Chicago to work for a company doing work he loved, only to get laid off with absolutely no warning five months later. It marked the first time I felt just as bad for someone else's misfortune as I would have felt if it had been my problem. In 2005, I resolve to help get my brother a job.

I did an unprecedented amount of travel in 2004, which is a good thing. I got a new job in March, working as a Linux System Administrator, for a government contractor. This accounted for a lot of the travel in question. They sent me to Pennsylvania, California, Idaho, California again, and Florida for various business trips. I took quite a few personal trips, as well. I started off the year in Colorado, attended a wedding in Wisconsin, visited my sister in Cleveland, spent the Fourth of July in Boston, visited some friends in Portland, turned 26 in Minnesota, enjoyed Labor Day weekend in New York, went back to Peoria for another wedding, and fit in a smattering of other trips. Also, I'm sorry if some of those pictures don't work. They'll be back up directly, with the hard work of my friendly neighborhood Matt.

I also began a couple of new sections for this webpage: the Draught of the Week came in April, the Lyons Den in June, and the Bahua Brewing Saga in November. I resolve, in 2005, to keep this site as innovative and original as I can make it, while remaining easy and fun to use.

Living downtown has been fantastic. Whenever I've had visitors, I've tried to impart on them the ease and fun of living in downtown Kansas City, and I have loved watching it grow right in front of me. I resolve in 2005 to get out more in Kansas City, because the more I see of this town, the more I love it.

In August, I got a new roommate and friend in Josh, and together, even managed to keep our rent from increasing.

It's hard to summarize a year, so I think I'll cut it off there. I think I got all the main points. If 2005 is half as great as 2004 was, I think I'm in for a good year.

10:13 AM, Dec 30, 2004

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