Saturday, December 31, 2005

Dammit Yeast!

Well, fermentation of my Old Stock Ale was going pretty good, but it seems to have slowed as expected and stalled at a specific gravity of 1.025 (I was hoping 1.018 or even less in the end). That puts the alcohol/vol % at about 6.8. Not bad, but I was aiming for at least 8%. But a lot can happen in the month or two before I bottle it.

The fermentation is still going slowly, so I'm going to let it sit in primary until after the new year then throw it into a glass carboy. The yeast should slowly attenuate the less-desirable sugars over time.

I was thinking, however, that the recipe does contain a large degree of dextrinous sugars (largely unfermentable by yeast, at least not quickly). 14 % Crystal malt is quite high... it will add lots of flavour but not much fermentable sugars. Plus the other unfermentables in the other malts and the beer kit, I may have 20% unfermentable.

So, maybe a final SG > 1.020 is the natural based on the recipe. Regardless, I'll give it another day or two, maybe they will ferment a few more sugars :).
Cheers and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Go Yeast!

My yeast in my Old Ale batch are still going strong. Although less strong than before. My cooling method made the internal wort temperature drop to almost 17 C. Getting on the low end for an ale. But this morning I pitched my active Wyeast 1028 London yeast strain starter and removed the fermenter from next to my door to a room at 20 C. Since the fermentation has slowed quite a bit, I figure that I need less cooling and a more consistent temperature (when yeast ferment they create heat, if nor properly cooled, they can raise the temperature to beyond desirable).

Speaking of Old Ale, here is a link to the BJCP (beer judge certification program) site and a description of what an "official" old ale is. Generally, it is a British style ale that was brewed to be aged for a longer period of time (greater than 6 months). This beer would be mixed with younger beers to create a middle-aged beer flavour. But, one could still buy the old ale by itself. British beers tended to be less alcoholic than many modern beer styles, and the British old ale may have been 5-6% ABV. But modern examples can be 7%, 8%, 9%... almost barley wine really. My beer is currently targeted for 8.5% alcohol, although I think I can get 8% and be happy with that.

I have purchased some old ale recently, Fuller's Vintage Ale 2005. It comes in numbered bottles and only 95000 were made. I bought 5 for myself... I drank one on xmas day... pretty good, although aging will certainly be a good thing. I will add my review soon. And other reviews. And brewing pictures. And all the other stuff I would do if I wasn't so sociable now that I'm back home in Calgary,

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Accepted to Heriot-Watt

Well, I received my acceptance letter to Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh in Scotland. for their Master of Science in Brewing and Distilling. Awesome. I discussed this possibility back in October. Now I just have to see if I can go. Lots of variables........... lots.

Old Stock Fermenting

Just checked the Old Stock Ale fermentation after a couple of days. Its going pretty damn well! I've put the fermenter by my sliding glass door, and with it being about -1 C outside the fermentation is about 18-19 C. Perfect. I scraped off the karausen (I've probably spelt that wrong but too bad) today and checked the specific gravity. 1.040ish. Thats good, down from 1.077.
I purchased a new liquid yeast pack, Wyeast 1028 London Ale. Its currently in about 400 mL of areated to crap wort growing some cells. I'll pitch it tonight, so the london ale yeast should be able to pick up a lot of the last fermentation as the dry yeast slowly runs out of steam.

All in all, this batch will have a blend of 3 yeasts!
Anyway, my lasagna is done. I'll write something about the Old Ale style later so you know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Review Dump Part II

I'm ever so slowly catching up... here are 4 more beer reviews:
  • Clear Creek Lager by Mountain Crest - UG. Horrible. But it was there.
  • Coopers Sparkling Ale from Australia - my parents just returned from a trip in Australia and they found this Austrailian beer here. I was surprised, it was pretty good. Its bottle conditioned too. Very unexpected.
  • Wild Rose IPA (Industrial Park Ale) from Wild Rose Brewery right here in Calgary. I've been meaning to write this down for some time. A good IPA, quite bitter, but more english hop character than your average "American" IPA.
  • St. Bernardus Abt 12 - An excellent beer of Belgian decent. I had the St. B Prior 8 when I was in Belgium and I can't find that here. The Abt 12 is a very very very good quadruppel. Looking at the other BA reviews there of 463 reviews the number of people who didn't like it are so small that it doesn't even make 1% (2 people).

Brewing again :)

Yep, finally. I couldn't wait for my load of new brewing supplies to get here (one more week....) so I made a batch of beer out of old crap I had sitting around. So there is a good chance this beer will suck. Anyway, I had a Baron's Brown Ale kit I bought over a year ago, and I didn't feel it was appropriate to throw it out. It is 7.5 L, and generally makes an initial gravity of about 1.050. I then made a lot of extra wort to add to that, to bump the initial gravity up to 1.077 :). It is in the style of an "old ale", and I should be able to age it since the alcohol should be between 8-9% by vol.

The homebrew shops were closed today so I had to pitch with a couple of packets of dry yeast I had around. I'm sure the fermentation will get stuck due to the high gravity and crappy yeast. So tomorrow I'll buy a pack of nice English ale or ESB yeast and throw it in too.

I think that it will be an interesting beer at the least... its based off of old grains, an old kit, and old DME, with old hops... I'm calling it "Old Stock Ale" for its use of 'aged goods'. But doing this isn't uncommon amongst brewers I think... its nice to have fresh new ingredients most of the time, but an aged ingredient will add a different flavour to the beer.... hopefully not too bad of a flavour!
Here are the details (and I know there are some flaws, I was just using what I had around):

BJCP Style and Style Guidelines
19-A Strong Ale, Old Ale

Min OG: 1.060 Max OG: 1.108
Min IBU: 30 Max IBU: 80
Min Clr: 10 Max Clr: 26 Color in SRM, Lovibond

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (L): 23.00 Wort Size (L): 23.00
Total Grain (kg): 5.63

Anticipated OG: 1.086 Plato: 20.60
Anticipated SRM: 20.1

Anticipated IBU: 35.8

Brewhouse Efficiency: 70 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Formulas Used
Brewhouse Efficiency and Predicted Gravity based on Method #1, Potential Used.
Final Gravity Calculation Based on Points.
Hard Value of Sucrose applied. Value for recipe: 46.2100 ppppg
% Yield Type used in Gravity Prediction: Fine Grind Dry Basis.

Color Formula Used: Morey
Hop IBU Formula Used: Rager

Additional Utilization Used For Plug Hops: 2 %
Additional Utilization Used For Pellet Hops: 10 %

% Amount Name Origin Extract SRM
53.3 3.00 kg. Baron's Brown Ale Kit
1.050 18
14.2 0.80 kg. Crystal 40L America 1.007 40
10.7 0.60 kg. Generic DME - Wheat America 1.010 8
1.8 0.10 kg. Corn Sugar Generic 1.002 0
15.6 0.88 kg. Generic DME - Light Generic 1.015 8
3.6 0.20 kg. Cara-Pils Dextrine Malt
1.002 2
0.9 0.05 kg. Chocolate Malt Great Britain 1.000 475

Exract represented as SG.

Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
28.35 g. Fuggle Pellet 3.71 3.4 15 min
28.35 g. Eroica Pellet 9.41 32.4 60 min

Notes... the Baron's kit was 7.5 L, 3 kg is wrong. I just needed the 1.050. There were some obvious errors, as the recipe says my initial SG should be 1.086. I figure a problem with my guess at the extract potential of the baron's kit, plus I had to grind all the grains by hand which means a lot of them wern't cracked. Anyway, I took a few pictures but am too tired to post them... tomorrow...

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Beer Cartoon

My favorite comic, Bob the Angry Flower, has a strip this last week that relates to beer. Click here to check it out. I also suggest you check out his site and his books, this guy has been making me laugh for years and years.
That is all, carry on.

Merry Xmas

Or happy holidays. Whatever suits you. Apparently its a big argument these days, some people get mad when you don't directly associate the holidays with "the birth of christ", despite that birth occurring in the summer and changed to be during winter so as to conflict with a pagan holiday... but I digress.

regardless of religious beliefs, this time of year tends to universally be a time to be with family or friends, take a bit of time off, and enjoy life a little (and apparently spend a lot of money). So, I wish everybody to enjoy this time of year.

Drunken Santa
This year we convinced the santa-believers that santa would like the surprise of a beer and nuts rather than the usual milk and cookies. The only santa believer here, however, is my 30 year old cousin who has a range of disabilities including muscular dystrophy. So don't go thinking we're warping the mind of children.
Anyway, we left out a Fuller's London Pride, and I get the honor of being the santa. An excellent end to an excellent dinner and conversation.

Speaking of Fuller's (an English Brewery), I managed to pick up two bottles of Fuller's Vintage Ale, an old ale that can be aged for some time. I can't wait to give it a try. I might pick up a few more bottles after xmas to age for a few years. Usually I try to buy a nice bottle of scotch every xmas so that I may have a collection of scotch... but really, I like beer a lot better. So maybe I should spend the money on some good cellaring beers.

So, of course I dumped four beer reviews last week, but then I went and tried more beers, which means I'm still like 12 beers behind schedule. Maybe I'll sneak off from family stuff tomorrow to write ;)


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Review Dump Part 1

Ok, so I FINALLY got around to reviewing some damn beers. But only 4 tonight. Some of the beers I've had in the last few weeks I didn't write anything down for and I don't think there is any point in reviewing them now since I won't remember anything.
Anyway, heres what I reviewed (links link to
  • Weihnachtskatze by Alley Kat in Edmonton. Tried this at my little job interview thing. Awesome beer. Pick up a case if you can find it. Its a Cranberry Spiced wheat ale, the spice being cinnamon. It screams xmas. Apparently I've been the only person to review this :).
  • Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout - A classic and one of the first oatmeal stouts.
  • Anarchist Amber Ale by Cannery Brewing in Penticton, BC. I reallllllllly liked this beer. Its seems though, that some of the BA reviews are negative. I think the brewer must have changed the recipe over the years (its a craft brewery afterall). The label has changed too. Its a good beer for my taste, I suggest you seek it out in Alberta/BC.
  • Naramata Nut Brown Ale by Cannery Brewing. Average. It was good, not great. It wasn't bad. Maybe a little 'soapy' flavour... hard to say. I'd like to try it on tap. I have much higher opinions of malty beers on tap (despite my preference for malty beers).
Well, thats it. I'll work on the rest soon.

Girlfriends and Boyfriends

How come its normal for females to call their female friends girlfriends, but it would be weird for a male to call a male friend a boyfriend.
Anyway, I am actually in the process of writing beer reviews, so my blog will finally be about beer for the first time in like 2 weeks.

Alley Kat
Er, actually I can tell "you" about my little chat with the owners of Alley Kat brewery. I was there over the weekend of the 9/10/11th and stopped in to talk to Neil & Lavonne about the possibility of working there. They were thinking of taking a new person on. Anyway, it was a good 2 hour chat I think, we'll see how it goes. They are a pretty small brewery and hiring somebody is understandably a big deal. I think the best thing about a job interview at a brewery is that the first question you are asked is "hey, so do you want a beer?"
Anyway, they will be releasing their first Scotch ale in January, called "Kiltlifter". I live the malty styles of beer, so I look forward to this!
Oh... and apparently the owner of the Hop n' Brew in Calgary has been holding onto a 1/2 keg of Alley Kat's 2002 Old Deut Barley Wine... :)

IE Sucks

Just a quick note that you should use Mozilla Firefox. Internet explorer makes blogs look like crap.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Garlic House

I had my xmas party last night, it ended up being a pretty good time, with more people than I expected. I made a roast for the first time ever and had a little potluck, but now my house smells like old food and garlic.

I served mostly wine I had made, which people rated from drinkable to great depending on their own tastes and level of intoxication, I suppose.

On Friday night I had bottled a kit wine I made, a Matero Shiraz, which had aged for about 6 months. I bottled 15 bottles and put away 12 L into a 12 L carboy to bulk age for the next year. I evacuated the air from the bottle so that should age pretty well. Anyway, it is still pretty young for a shiraz, but it was quite good so far. It has been aging in bulk 23 L under fairly cold temperatures for the last few months, quite a nice fruity aroma. I'll have to serve it again next year!

I also served an unnamed stout I had made back in the summer before I went to Fort St. John. I apparently forgot about a case of 12 650 mL bottles in my cellar. Before they aged, it was a little too harsh, but its mellowed out pretty nicely and people seemed to like it, despite it being a strong stout.

Me after a few.

The after effects wern't as bad as previous parties, a testament to my friends and I getting more 'adult' I suppose:

So at around 4:30 am the whole thing wrapped up, and a good time may have been had by all. I have a hangover to work off and a lot of bottles to clean up. Ug. I hate this part.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Not Bottling Wine

Ok, so my internet is _finally_ up and running due to a friend of mine who works at my ISP sorting everything out. I thought I was going to die there for a second.

I'm supposed to be bottling this great Matero Shiraz wine I made about 6 months ago, but I forgot I had lent a bunch of my equipment to a friend. So that took me about half an hour to figure out. I'm a quick one, really. Oh well.. tomorrow!

I had a chance to stop by Willow Park main store in Calgary (really good beer selection) and pick up a few beers. Amongst others, I grabbed some Belgian St. Bernardus Abt 12, and a few beers from a brewery in Pentiction, BC (probably spelt wrong), Cannery Brewing. I haven't tried/reviewed anything for awhile, I really have to get on that ... I have a backlog of 12 beers!

Anyway, I have to get back to not bottling wine (which means doing all the internet stuff I couldn't do for the last week or so).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

10,233 kms later...

From the time my car left calgary to the time it returned I had traveled 10,233 kms. Not bad for 3 months :)

Anyway, apparently some people actually read my blog and told me they havent seen any updates lately. Well I'll certainly have more time this week after I'm done moving, and also my internet will be turned back on. But for now, I gotta get home and to bed to I can go back to work tomorrow!


Thursday, December 08, 2005

t minus 14 hrs

Yep, its 5 pm here, and if I attempt to leave Fort St. John by 7 am (which means I'll leave by 7:30) that means 14 hrs.

Sorry I haven't written anything interesting about beer in the last couple of weeks, there just hasn't been the right time for decent beer writing. I've recently tried Dragon Stout from Jamaica which was pretty good, and I've had some good pints of the Okanagan Spring Pale recently. No reviews here yet, sorry. I'll get to it.

But this Saturday when I'm in Edmonton some friends and I are having an English beer night. We're getting a bunch of English ales from England and North America and downing them :). I'm sure I'll have something to write about after that.

And, of course, on my way through Edmonton I'm having a quick chat with a craft brewer there about a job, perhaps I'll be brewing some stuff up one of these days!


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Bloody 'ell

Ok, so my personal email address (not available on the net) and my photos aren't working due to my service provider (Shaw Cable) being retarted.

I transferred my account from FSJ to Calgary and apparently that just means CANCEL it even though I said transfer the email and web content.

Mom-assing goat bastards. Anyway, that means some of the pics below aren't available. Bah.

I needs me email.

Why am I not going underwater?

Just the last line from Arrested Development... Apparently there are more episodes ordered, but not enough in my opinion. In any case it seems to be cancelled this season.

Well, I'm still living in my hotel room here in Fort St. John. I leave for Calgary on Friday. I've had two lasagne(s) over the last two days. Neither were that great, and one of them was from East Side Mario's. I'm pretty picky when it comes to lasagne, but I think "homemade" Safeway brand is pretty good.

Ok, so as for beer, on my way back to Calgary I am stopping off at a brewery in Edmonton for a little chat with the brewer there for a possible job in late January. So maybe by the end of this week I will be gushing over a cool new job :)

As I am writing this I am also watching the Colbert Report. In his The Word section this evening, he talks about "Xmas", and says that the "X" is the removal of christ from christmas. Heh, so my feelings on Xmas weren't so crazy after all :).


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Uhaul Sucks

Well, I'm living in a hotel for this week. Its nice... I get my room cleaned every morning, there is a big TV, room service, and a hot tub. I could get used to this. And the best part... my company pays for it all :)

However, not 5 minutes ago I accidentally washed brand new contact lenses down the drain. Fuck. That's a lot of money literally down the drain.

Anyway, this is yet another "Beer Blog" not about beer. My only comment is that I finally had some beers last night after 1.5 weeks of no beer. All I can say is that maybe Sleeman isn't as good to me as it used to be. Hm.

Uhaul Sucks
So some friends moved up to Fort St. John here. They made a reservation with Uhaul for a 14' truck and a car-trailer. Here is a recount of their ordeal:
  • When they got to the depot in Calgary Uhaul didn't have their 14' truck they had reserved. They had a 17' truck and said they would only charge them for a 14'. But, looking at the bill later, they had been charged for the 17' anyway.
  • Uhaul didn't have the car trailer available, and said they would have one the next day for sure. They went back the next day... nope, Uhaul didn't have one at that location. They were sent to South Calgary where apparently a trailer was waiting for them. When they got to the South location, the Uhaul agent there said he didn't have the trailer. Guh.
  • Apparently there was a trailer in Cochrane (slightly North of Calgary) they could pick up. Turns out it was stored under snow in some employee's back yard. They had to go there and dig it out themselves.
  • The ignition key they were given wasn't the same as the door key. Apparently when a truck has ignition problems they just replace the ignition, but are too damn cheap to replace the door locks. The guy that got to jimmy the lock open said this was the 4th person he had done this for in the last week for in a Uhaul truck.
  • According to Uhaul they were only traveling to Edmonton, not all the way to Fort St. John. Luckily, my friends were so fed up by this point they didn't even care and drove to Fort St. John and to hell with Uhaul.
  • So basically with all the hassle and stress Uhaul caused they ended up leaving more than half a day late, which sucks when you're driving 1000 km.
So, in conclusion, Uhaul sucks, don't use them. The whole thing reminds me of a Seinfeld episode where Jerry was arguing with a car rental agency... "See, I think you know how to take the reservation, you just don't know how to keep the reservation... which is really the whole point of the reservation system. The reservation holds the car here." (Not an exact quote but close enough).
Anyway, gonna head off for a hot tub then maybe get some Italian food across the street in my little hotel world

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Holly Jolly Election

Well its 1:08 AM... last night I was up until 3 am packing my apartment up since I have to be out this weekend so I can live in a hotel for a week. I was then up at 6 am this morning (actually, I guess now it was yesterday morning). So that's only 3 hours of sleep and then 9 hours of sitting in a boring seminar. I should be tired. Yet I am wide awake. Soooo.... may as well write about politics.

So, on Tuesday morning the Canadian parliament was dissolved. Kindof expected really. I feel a little silly for not paying attention to Canadian issues of late, I guess I've been in my own little world here.

Anyway, so here's my basic thoughts on the main parties from what I remember of the last election not so long ago:
  • Liberals: Scandal, corruption, etc. You can't really get away with that without a few limbs torn off. I am glad that in Canada such crimes don't go entirely unpunished. Or, at least the ones that get caught anyway. I agree with some of their philosophy, but for a "liberal" party they're pretty neutral as far as making changes goes. They've been in power for a long enough time to be a little stale. I still like them better than the conservatives though. Paul Martian has a little bit of charisma I think, but there is something about him I still don't fully trust.
  • Conservatives: In the last election the conservatives, to me, seemed to run on "The liberals suck, and your only other option is to vote for the PCP" (Progressive Conservative Party). I don't like Stephen Harper as a National leader, he's better as a winy opposition pawn disagreeing adamantly with everything Paul Martian says. The PCP also ran on a platform of anti-gay marriage by way of parliament having the right to overturn Supreme Court rulings. I can't agree with that... The Supreme Court of Canada is there as the non-political final say on matters of Constitutional law. It ensures that a government can't make a politically pressured decision that breaks our fundamental laws (aside from that interesting notwithstanding clause we have...). Judges shouldn't have to consider political retribution for making the proper decision even if unpopular. The system is set up as a balance. The PCP wants to change that balance to keep some "traditional family values" intact, whatever those are these days.
    But beyond my general disdain for Stevie H and the party philosophy, there is one final reason I can't even consider voting for the PCP: Rob Anders, the useless PCP candidate from my riding, Calgary West. Man, I listened to this guy speak at the University of Calgary (which is in my riding) and he had NOTHING useful to say. He was a talking head, spouting "well the liberals are bad and therefore vote for me" to any question. The crowd was yelling at him for not engaging. It was sad. It was small-time George Bush except worse. The green party candidate answered her questions better, and she was just some new graduate. I'll rant more about this tool Rob later. However, he still got 55% of the vote in an area where a lot of students live. Why? A lot more old people live in this area.
  • NDP (National Democratic Party): First, I think that the minority government was a good thing for Canadians in general. Nobody had enough power to power something through. And the swing votes were pretty much held by the NDP, who I generally agree with (more socialistic and "liberal" than the Liberals, in general). I'm still not 100% sure about all of their platform, I'll have to review it again. But I like them better than the Liberals and the PCP for sure. I actually find Jack Layton trustworthy, even if he looks like a boyscout with a stick up his ass.
  • Green Party: Yep, I voted green last time. Why? Isn't that throwing my vote away? Hellllll NO. See, federal funding for parties is based on % votes received now and not seat count in parliament. I don't really agree with all of the Green philosophy or think its 100% realistic, but its an ideal really. See my philosophical ideal lies somewhere between Green Party and NDP, with a little Liberal in there too for the hell of it. By voting for the Green Party, I'm pulling the political spectrum ever so slightly towards my ideal. 4.3% of Canadians voted Green. That's quite a few people. 7.6% of people in my riding voted Green. That's one of the highest rates in Canada. But they didn't win any seats. However, for every Canadian that votes Green, it makes the big 3 parties above notice a little bit more about what some Canadians want.
I think in this election in January the Cons will be still playing the "if you don't like the Liberals your best choice is to vote for us" platform. That's a TERRIBLE platform. That's getting us closer to a two-party system and the insanity that US politics has. Look at the parties. Vote for the one that you agree with most. Hell... Even vote for a canidate you like rather than the party. If you vote Conservative because you like them, great. If you vote Conservative just because you want to punish the Liberals, you are an idiot and selling out your own vote. Vote NDP or Green or Communist or hell vote for yourself.

Anyway, I still haven't had a beer (or any alcohol) in over a week, as per my decision... and hey! I'm tired now... 2:08 am. Sweet.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wanna waste a bit of time?

If you have a few minutes to kill and want to do something stupid with them, go to and watch until the end, its kindof funny..... :P


Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Well how sweet it is. I was talking to a co-worker last week and she knew a guy who just happend to have a full 58.6 L and half 29 L kegs just sitting around with nothing to do for quite some time so the deposit was already lost (apparently). I paid basically the value of their lost deposit, and got these two babies. Not too sure what I'm going to do with them yet, but large tough stainless steel containers aren't easy to come by.

The usual thing to do would be to turn the 58 L keg into a boil pot and make 48 L batches of beer. Well... I don't currently plan on making any 48 L batches of beer, so that might be a little extreme. Although if I did I could keg 29 L of it in the small keg, then bottle the rest.

I suppose I could just keep the 58L keg around until I find a good use for it and cut up the 29 L keg to make a perfect boil pot for 23 L batches.

The only problem is that now I need to find space for about 90 L of keg in my car for the drive back to Calgary in 2 weeks... .... yeah. Hm.


Monday, November 28, 2005


Well I had some plans to research and write something about beer, but then the Discovery Channel had a Mythbusters Marathon... and my evening was shot.

Anyway, it seems like its Xmas time again. Places are starting to play Xmas music, theres Xmas decorations, Xmas lights, Xmas sales, Xmas vacations, and Xmas foods appearing. Yep, a whole lot of Xmas.

Why all the Xmas and not Christmas? I got to thinking about the holiday season and it just seems that the point of "Christmas" has changed quite a bit since its first inception as a "celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ", or so the story goes. "Christmas" these days is more about getting together with family and friends. Taking some time off. Having some fun. Buying into the commercialism. Recieving presents. And getting drunk and driving home on icy roads.
...well, not the last one for anybody lets hope.

I think I shall refer to Christmas as Xmas from now on. I mean, Christmas seems to define the religious celebration. I'm not religious at all. So to me "Christmas" is just about family and taking a break. The idea of a baby being born about 2000 years ago doesn't really come into it at all. So, it would seem inappropriate to celebrate Christmas. Therefore, I shall celebrate Xmas from now on. To me, its a non-denominational term meaning essentially "yearly celebration of family and friends".
(...and presents too)

Interestingly, in the canceled-before-its-time show Futurama the holiday season is only refered to as Xmas in the future. Maybe this will catch on.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Brian's World

Its a good thing I don't have much to do at work, it gives me time to slack off and make a world map of everywhere I've managed to visit in my adult life. Check it out at Frappr here. You too could be wasting time at work making a map like this!! Just think of the waste!

Anyway, I guess I should post something about beer. So far my "no beer for a week and a half" is going ok, I still think about beer every day... I should probably stop reading homebrew books!
I added some half-ass reviews about the following beers from the last few weeks though:
I have lots of time this weekend so I'm working on a post about some kind of beer style, we'll see what I come up with. Or something not related to beer at all..... tune in for the excitement!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A decision

I've decided not to drink anything for the next few weeks.
No beer.
No wine.
No spirits.
No... hm... what else is there?

Why? Well, I have this weird complex about self-denial sometimes. Like when I think I'm drinking too much coffee, I stop drinking coffee for awhile. Or not even if I think I'm having too much, just to see if I can do it or even how it feels.

Now I don't think I drink toooo much beer/whatever right now, I am pretty much all alone up here so its not like I go for drinks with people much anyway. But I still end up buying a couple of 6-packs of beer every week to try out. I've pretty much tried everything I want to that's available up here. Now it occurred to me that if I have a beer or two every day does that make me some kind of alcoholic? I do, afterall, crave a beer at the end of the day.

Thus, to prove to myself and the few people who actually read my blog that I don't need beer all the time: I'm not having any beer until my work replacements arrive from Calgary. That should be Dec 3. So, that gives me a short week and a half. That should be pretty easy!
In theory, if I was an actual alcoholic I wouldn't be able to last even a few days without a beer, really.
Cheers! (er... well maybe not in this case)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Beer Heaven

Back from Edmonton. The total 1320 km there and back is getting way easier to drive!
So I went to this beer store at the Chateau Louis hotel in Edmonton. Holy crap. Excellent good beer selection. I've seen good before in Calgary at Willow Park, but lets not forget that I've been stuck up in Fort St. John for 3 months with not much good beer. I bought 8 beers (not too expensive either) and made my way back with 5 (2 of the same) as seen in the picture. Now I just have to keep myself from drinking them all at once... these need to last at least a week!
On a cool note, I played Texas Hold'em poker, and cleaned everybody out. Except I was the only person nobody else knew before coming to the party, so I guess I look like the jerk who shows up and kicks ass. Anyway, I'm very hungry after the long drive and craving that London Pride .... mmmmmm.

Friday, November 18, 2005


The weather is supposed to be excellent this weekend so I'm off to Edmonton. If you want to read anything interesting I suggest reading through the blogs below ;).

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Several Items Seemingly Not About Beer

Well, lets face it. The world of beer changes pretty slowly, as does my direct interaction with it. So thus I shall talk about many seemingly non-beer related items. But lets not forget, its all about beer, as you shall see.

1) The Colbert Report -This show airs after the more-awesome-than-awesome Daily Show. It has only been on in Canada for a couple of weeks now, and at first I was a bit wary. But, it turns out he's pretty damn funny. He looks like and can act like one of those 'analyzed' republican political nerds. But his whole act, while a little off the wall, manages to make fun of "Bush's America" (among other things) by accentuating some of the silly arguments some supporters make. The only thing I find a little weird sometimes is that maybe some of his guests don't quite get what hes doing. See, he basically voraciously seems to support arguments opposite to what the guest is presenting... but of course only to give them a chance to explain away how stupid those arguments are. But I've seem some guests look a little defensive. Anyway... Funny show. Makes me laugh, and stay up later than I should. Naturally, when the shows writers are thinking of jokes they must have had a beer or three...

2) Drug Testing - In the office where I work is a human drug testing facility that tests the many workers around here for various drugs (cocaine, THC, codeine, and a bunch of others). The procedure is that you pee in the cup, the pee temperature is taken, a quick-and-dirty test is done, and the results are found. Now, the temperature is taken so that they know that the pee came from you. If you keep a baggie of pee with you at the side of your body, it won't be warm enough. The outside of your body is quite a bit cooler than the inside. So any sample less than 35 C isn't accepted.
Anyway, this sketchy guy comes in and the tester takes him back. Apparently he gave her like a 20 mL sample, which was less than 35 C. He was then able to instantly produce 2 more samples of about the same volume that both failed the temperature test. As far as I know, nobody has the ability to pee cold pee in 20 mL increments. Obviously, the guy has a little thing of pee on him somewhere that hes trying to scam with. Anyway, eventually he actually pees by himself and he comes up "non-negative" for cocaine and refuses to sign a form so his sample can be sent to a lab for true confirmation (some prescription drugs can interfere with the testing). So, he moved all the way up here for work and got fired for doing drugs. Loser. This has to do with beer because the lab also tests for blood alcohol content and beer can contribute to that. Yeah.

3) "If you want children beaten, you have to do it yourself" - Just a quote I heard off of Futurama (which I am watching in the background). I miss that show. And that quote is so true too. It just happens to be the episode where they make beer in Bender's chest compartment with a method that would, of course, only work in cartoons :).

4) Warm weekend - Just checked the weekend weather, I'm going to make the 660 km trip each way to Edmonton for the weekend I think... see some people, drink some BEERS, waste 2 tanks of gas, and not lose my mind in Fort St. John.

5) Beer Reviews - Actually, I have done a couple of beer reviews in the last little while:

Ok, thats all I have. I think I'll try to do a book review this week.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Arrested Development

What is wrong with FOX? (ok, actually don't answer that, there is very long list ranging from their crap reality TV to their more than questionable coverage of news)...

But they have this great show that's incredibly funny and wins all sorts of awards... Arrested Development. One week they advertise that it will be on, then next week they replace it with a rerun of Prison Break. They show new episodes once per month. How can a show possibly survive with (1) no promotion by its network and (2) only showing the show once per month?

Perhaps the problem is that the executives just take the viewing audience for granted. Sure, I'll agree that most of Fox's audience does include many brain-dead morons that like crap like Stacked, Trading Spouses, or Cops. But, every once and awhile Fox puts on a show that is "smart-funny"... the only problem is that when a show is deemed too smart for the demographic audience of Fox, it gets "grey-listed"... not cancelled, but never promoted and never given any airtime until the executives can just say "uh, nobody is watching it, you're cancelled". And then the show gets cancelled. Which is what has basically happened. Oh well... next year Fox will release another smart funny show and let us enjoy it for a short time before running it into the ground too.

Ah well... its just TV.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Holy Ass!

See my last post for beer stuff.
So this weekend I had to drive to Grande Prairie from Fort St. John twice (which is about 200 km each way; ~124 miles for those who use that odd system). I had to pick up some people at the airport there who were flying into town for the weekend because they will replace me up here (and I get to go back to Calgary!).
So Wed and Thurs were lovely days... temp above 0 C, sunny, nice. But almost as soon as they get here the temp drops to -15 C and starts snowing. Needless to say the highway sucked, and my drive home on Sunday night was a little scary... dark, snow, and some black ice. I've never been in a car accident, but I was certain it was about time I did. And it took about 45 minutes longer to get home since traffic was moving at 10-20 km/hr lower than the speed limit due to the ice at some places.

Anyway... for anybody who doesn't know where Fort St. John is, here is a map:


Best Beers in Canada

Apparently this may be a recent addition to, but they now have a ranked list of the best Canadian beers according to BeerAdvocate member reviews. I've written before about the subjectivity (and generally biased) nature of BA reviews, but its still a list of some pretty good beers made in Canada.

Speaking of BA reviews, I was reading the reviews there for Alexander Keith's IPA. From the site, it gets a bad rating. Now, I've tried many a beer in my time, and Keith's for me is a good ol' standby. I like it. It generally seems that anything that is (1) yellow and clear and (2) you can buy at almost every liquor store, gets a bad rating. Keith's has both. I agree, the color is too yellow for a true IPA, but I also read comments about it doesn't have enough alcohol for an IPA and its not bitter enough. Both are not true.

There is a trend in a lot of North American breweries to make EXTREME beers... very high alcohol content, and insanely hopped/bitter. So, when North American's think of an IPA, we think of something that will get us drunk in two bottles and so bitter we can't taste ever again.

However, the original IPA developed in England to be shipped to India was not this extreme. True, English IPAs would be more bitter than your average English ale to keep bacterial growth down. But the bitterness was still reasonable. None of this 70+ IBU we see today. As for alcohol content, a lot of people think that IPAs had higher alcohol content too. However, from my readings it seems that English IPAs were actually meant to be LOWER in alcohol than a regular ale. The brewer would have less sugar in the wort so that the yeast would ferment a larger percentage of the fermentable sugar, thus there would be no left-over sugars for bacteria to feast on during transport. All in all, this would create a very dry, bitter beer.

Anyway, that just seemed interesting to me. As for Keith's, its 5% alcohol content is perfectly acceptable, and I feel it has a decent bitterness and hoppy flavor, certainly more than your regular Canadian "yellow" beer. As much as I'm a beer snob, I like Keith's, its a good beer... just because its 'mainstream' doesn't mean it can't be good.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Kari Byron

1) This post isn't about beer.

2) Ok, call me a huge nerd, but I thin Kari Byron has got to be the most attractive female on TV. She is one of the builders/co-hosts of Mythbusters on the Discovery channel. Smart... hot... can build stuff... can't get much better than that.

I'm sure this image is (C) copyright of the Discovery channel... much respect ;).
Well, that's her (on the RIGHT, not the guy on the left). You can click for a bigger image.

Anyway, her Mythbusters bio is here. Now I'm not one to usually post things about "hot chicks" or whatever like some dorky highschool kid, but I feel that Kari Byron is certainly my favorite TV female... sigh. Keri, if for some reason you browse across my blog... ... well I don't know what to say, but if I did it would be something that explained how perfect you were. Also, apparently she has been a fencer, like me. SO much in common! Well... maybe like one thing. My only hope is if she likes beer...

You can see some of her interesting art here and the art on her website here. And a collection of photos here. And a good interview with her here. And a blog/discussion w/ pics here.

Reading a lot of comments out there it seems that there are a lot of jerks with comments like "I'd like to bust her myth if you know what I mean". Man, those guys need a punch in the face. A woman of this caliber should be treated with a lot more respect. Save that crap for those Pamela Anderson slut types. Jerks.
Another good pic :)

Anyway... uh... beer. Yeah. Its a beer blog, afterall...

Americans are like their Beer

I've been reading a few forums these days that relate to beer, and it just seems that people (esp. Canadians) say "American beer is piss". It seems that a lot of the same people may be tempted to say "Americans are dumb, rude, ignorant, stupid... etc".

Well, it seems to me that such feelings stem from ... yep, you guessed it... Ignorance. You see, most Canadians see American beer as Bud and Coors. But, little do they know that the States has some of the most diverse and excellent verity of beers on the planet. Its just that they're all craft or regional breweries. And hey, these same Canadians that call Bud and Coors crap probably drink Canadian. Ha! Its practically the same thing (well, a bit better... ;).

I notice the same thing with the world's general view on Americans... People are basing their ideas on a bad American stereotype. But in my many travels I have only met 2 Americans I have not liked. The rest were awesome. Intelligent. Good people. But then again, I met most of these people while traveling. I'm betting that your "stereotype" American idiot would be too scared to leave the safety of the good ol' US of A anyway. But hey, that just means the rest of the world gets to interact with the good ones.
(Although I did meet one woman who was THE stereotypical American traveler... god I hated her. But like I said, most Americans I've met have been some of the best people I've ever met).

So... Americans are like their beer. A few bad examples ruin it for what is the majority of good examples.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Xanthohumol in the News

Just came across a short article from ABC on antioxidants in beer. It got me thinking about xanthohumol of all things. Turns out my 15 minutes of research on Google was more than the ABC author had time for...

From the ABC article:
Still, no one knows how much beer is needed to reap the benefits [of xanthohumol]

And a quote from another article entitled "Scientists Reccomend 120 Gallons of Beer per Day":
[Xanthohumol] is so rare that a person would have to drink about 120 gallons of beer -- or roughly 1,300 12-ounce bottles -- every day to reap the benefits.

I'm just being overly picky. Anyway, both articles are interesting. Basically, don't count on beer for your antioxidants, although we're learning more and more about the health benifits of beer.

Oh, and if you read the first paragraph of both articles its funny that they both refer to Homer Simpson :).

(PS> The first many Google results for Xanthohumol are informative FYI)


Yeah I'm too lazy to write a bunch today, I've decided to watch TV and pass out on the couch instead.

But, I found an import at the liquor store, a Munich Dunkel from Czech Republic, it was pretty good: Lobkowicz Baron.

I prepared and sent in my application for Heriot-Watt University for their Brewing & Distilling MSc. program (see this for why I'm doing that).

I'll write something interesting tomorrow........
Cheers ;)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Oh yeah... beer

I suppose if I call my blog a "beer blog" I should talk about beer once and awhile. First, the batch of beer I started brewing here is completely fucked. The yeast I got from the homebrew shop was crap and fermented a 1.050 wort down to 1.035 and basically stopped, and there is some kind of contamination in it. Its hard to get decent homebrew stuff up here in Fort St. John, BC. If you're experienced, you really should order stuff in. I could dump it down the sink, or I was thinking of taking 1/2 the remaining wort, reboiling it with more DME, and trying to make some kind of lambic.
But then again I'm only here for 3 more weeks and I don't want to bother. Down the sink it goes.

I was reading about Scottish ales this weekend. I'm going to attempt an 80 shilling heavy ale I think. The traditional brewing process is slightly different than the common accepted homebrewing practice. A single step infusion mash is done at ~69 deg C. This doesn't allow beta-glucanase or proteases to do a whole lot, and isn't a great temp for beta-amylase. Thus, the produced wort is fairly thick and dextrinous, creating a beer with good body. Since less fermentables will be created, I can only assume that the beer will have a lower than predicted alc %.

Another interesting method used by Scottish brewers was to slightly caramelize the wort during the boil by using a high direct heat or just a longer boil time. This should create a caramel flavor (although some people might confuse this with diacyl). A homebrew recipe I found suggested to take a few L of the first runnings from sparging and boil them to thick caramelization, adding it back to the boil later. The whole idea is to create a caramel flavor without the use of caramel malt (or unwanted diacyl). Caramel malt isn't a traditional ingredient in Scottish ales... however every Scottish ale recipe I've seen uses it. Meh.

Most of this is in Ray Daniels' excellent book, Designing Great Beers. Anybody who wants to advance in their homebrew skill really should pick it up, it is by far the most informative source I've come across yet (it doesn't cover basic homebrew methods or anything though so buy a book on homebrewing first, brew 10-15 batches, then read this book).

Ok, now I feel content that I have written a good amount about beer for today. Cheers!

The Crallspace

Just browsing through some other blogs, of which 95% are usually crap. This guy's blog kept me entertained for a good 25 minutes somehow. Check it out, as my blog probably won't interest you for longer than 3 minutes anyway:

The Crallspace

Wedding Fun

Oh man... flew into Calgary this weekend for the wedding of a good friend of mine. I haven't been drinking all that much since I've been up in Fort St. John here, so it was a good night to let loose a bit. Anyway, liquors drunkened me, and I woke up the next morning feeling like ass. I won't publish any stories related to the evening to the net here though :P. But there are a few....

Not related to the evening, however, was the wedding pictures. As an usher, I get to be in a couple of shots with the bride & groom. But when one has their wedding in early November, and decides to have their pictures outdoors... well, fun is had by few. I'm glad I'm male and get to wear a wool suit. The bridesmaids had open legs and shoes... I felt sorry for them. Especially when they had to take off their coats to reveal their dresses for the pictures. It must be hard to smile when your teeth are chattering!
But it was still fun... nobody will forget it :)

I miss Calgary. Gotta get outa here.

Friday, November 04, 2005

First day of snow

Yep, it uh... "snew" today. Here is a picture from my balcony.

Ugly, eh?

Anyway, off to Calgary for the weekend... :)

Big fat order

Man, its getting cold up here, I can feel winter coming. Any day now... I'll be burried in snow. Probably the day I'm supposed to make the 990 km drive to calgary too.

I heard back from a brewmaster in Edmonton about the possibility of working there in some fasion in late January. I don't know if that means part-time or full time, or even an 'apprentice' type position. I don't think he knows either, has to figure out his needs and such. But its only November, so theres lots of time. Anyway, thats awesome.

I'm putting together a pretty large order for homebrew supplies and equipment from Paddock Wood Brewing Supplies out in Saskatoon. I contacted their order desk and they may be able to swing a 10% discount for all the stuff, which is pretty good. Their prices are cheap to begin with, but 10% more stuff is always good (helps them rotate their stock too... a lot of homebrew ingredients don't last more than 6 months - 1 year). If you're in Calgary or Edmonton and want to get in on this, let me know :).


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Learning is Good

If anybody wants to buy me presents (and why not?) I have a neat little wishlist setup on :).

Like I said, I've been doing lots of reading these days on the subject of brewing. But, I need to be able to practice more. My head is full of knowledge, just need experience! But more books never hurt either...

Reviewed: the new winter beer from Shaftebury, Winter Nights Black & Tan. I thought I had found a new one for the site, but it turns out somebody added their review a mere 9 minutes before me! Bah. Oh well.

Anyway... buy me presents. Thats all.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Man, I'm bored out of my tree. I need to get back to Calgary soon. I get to fly back this weekend for a wedding, which is nice but I'm only in town for about 2 days total and can't get a whole lot done. But maybe on the long weekend if the roads aren't too bad I can get out of here to at least Edmonton.

But, of course, having nothing to do does allow for "self improvement" by learning things. When I came up to Fort St. John I figured I'd be reading lots of books and learning all kinds of things that I always wanted to. Ha! Full cable TV came with my apartment, so that took up a lot of time. But I'm bored of TV now, but there is still the computer. Which isn't all that bad right now since I am using it for beer research (recipes, hop styles, malt prices, etc). But, I have been reading my "Designing Great Beers" book by Ray Daniels, which is quite informative. So I guess I am learning something.

Anyway, I'm just using this downtime to research the first few beers I want to brew when I get home. Ingredients are a must. Paddock Wood supplies in Saskatoon seems like a good supplier for me. Plus a friend of mine might be able to pick the stuff up and bring it to me, saving shipping costs maybe. I figure what I want to work on is (1) a simple english pale/bitter that can be used as a "standard reference" beer, (2) a Fuller's London Pride clone, (3) a strong dark belgian ale (only 1/2 a batch since these are apparently hard to make at home!), (4) something else... maybe an IPA or munich mild dark. Although with it being winter it would be a good time to be brewing lagers (easy to keep cold). So maybe a German wheat lager.


Sunday, October 30, 2005

I need crap

If by any chance somebody who is selling or thinking of selling their homebrew equipment reads this, I am looking to buy some homebrew equipment. Specifically:
  • Large stainless steel pot w/ lid
  • grain mill
  • refractometer
  • maybe a stainless steel fermenter?
Email me at if you want to sell something. I'm sure we could work out a deal that works for both of us :).

Aside from that, I reviewed some beers over the last several days, all from Okanagan Spring:

Friday, October 28, 2005

Various Notes

Man, I have to get up and be on the phone for a sales conference call at 7:00 am on Fridays. I speak for about 1 minute then listen to a bunch of other people talk. Good thing speaker phone exists... now I can type this while I wait.

Good news: I apparently am out of Fort St. John for sure by the end of November and back to Calgary (for now), word of mouth tells me that there is somebody to replace me. Sweet.

As for nerdy beer stuff... sent me this awesome book I've wanted for awhile, Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels. Its a really in-depth book for advanced homebrewers or professional brewers. Lots of sceintific background, lots of graphs, charts, tables, and even references to scientific papers in journals. I've read 1/2 a chapter and already learned a few things!
  • For malt extracts, use dry malt extracts. Liquid ME is hydrated and chemical reactions occur faster.
  • For all my extract brewing to date, I had always mini-mashed the specialty malts together, sparged, and then boiled with a bunch of Light DME to get the initial SG up. However, I think from now on when I do my mini-mash I will add a bunch of 'regular' malted barley (likely pale 2-row). I'm thinking this would help with starch conversion in the mini-mash, and using real grains instead of DME apparently does provide some improvements and better control. I figure if I replace 1/3 or 1/2 of the DME I'd use normally with 2-row I might like the results.
Anyway, I also took a look at a well known program, ProMash. I wrote a whole crappy spreadsheet that did some of the things this software did. Its just easier to spend the money and get this program! Anyway, check it out, its kinda fun to play with... well, depending on how dorky you are...


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Subjectivity of Beer Reviewing

Ug, I don't seem to have any energy today. bleh

One problem with websites like is that (I think) people discriminate against anything from a large macro brewery. Its funny because large breweries win festivals in blind judging... for example, the Great American Beer Festival. Its not like they can pay off the judges, its a blind test by very experienced certified judges. Lets just take one example:
Michelob Pale Ale won gold for the "Classic English-Style Pale Ale" category, a common and popular beer style. Michelob is owned by the same people who bring you Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch. But on BeerAdvocate, this beer is rated as 75 from 22 reviews. 75 is considered "not recommended". 22 reviews isn't a lot of reviews for the site, but enough to be valid. So... a beer considered by professional judges as a gold medal for a popular category is "not recommended"?

I just think that people are prejudice against the larger breweries. I'll admit guilt in that too, of course. And I'm probably guilty of giving higher scores to smaller breweries or lesser-known beers. I think people like to take pride in something that is special... a beer you can only get in your home town has a certain appeal.

Anyway, I think people also tend to not analyze beers by their style, but compared to all other beers. You can't compare Molson Canadian to any other beers other than American style adjunct lagers. I think people tend to give the American lager bad scores because they don't like the fact the fact that it doesn't have much flavour... but the style isn't supposed to have much flavour... so you can't really complain!

Well... thats my rant for today. I also added a review for Molson Canadian (why not? I think its good for its STYLE).

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Beers Reviewed

Oh yeah, and I did do some beer reviews too, all from Alley Kat: