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.