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.