Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Beer News

Ok, so I have no beer news of my own, other than my frantic prep to move to Edmonton to work at a brewery. I did come across a few beer news items that I will blatantly post as "content" for my blog, enjoy:
  • Beer is doomed: Germans like shandy. A shandy is a beer diluted with some crap like pop or juice or something. This completely ruins the flavour of the beer of course. But, I guess if you're drinking crappy beer to begin with, its not to big of a deal. But if the Germans like this, what hope is there for any of us???
  • Hedonistic beer label: In the world of beer marketing its hard to get noticed. These guys had an interesting idea. But some people are prudes, so they returned the beer. Personally, I could use a little hedonism.
  • Some beer isn't fresh: inside freshness codes. Certainly, it would be nice to get an "expiry" date for every beer bought. It really depends on the style of beer and many other factors, but many beers that you buy at your local store may be expired. When I lived in Fort St. John in Northern BC it was hard to find a beer before its expiry date. Plus, the beers were stored at room temp under UV emitting flourescent lights. So they were really bad. Anyway, remember to check your expiry dates.
  • And finally, an article on diet choices of beer and wine drinkers. It seems that wine may skew healthier because the wine buyers tend to buy healthier foods anyway. Beer people tend to buy crap. I know I do. I'm pretty bad for that.
Well, thats it. On a side note, that last episode of Battlestar Galactica was pretty weird (2x14). Bad writing... they invented problems and sub-plots to satisfy a brief storyline. The whole episode was disjointed with the series. It was way too "mainstream" for this show... it reminded me of shows I hate like "The OC", "ER", and every reality TV show ever made (other than Mythbusters with Kari Byron). Was there a different writer? Director? I donno, but that may qualify for "worst episode ever". Every series has one.
Cheers n' such!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Chuck Norris

Well, I found this site funny. Other than that, I probably have some beer reviews to post but I've spent too much time this evening looking for a place to live in Edmonton so you'll have to entertain yourself on that website or on my previous posts or on other websites or on non-computer actions.
OH, and I watched season 2 of Battlestar Galactica within 36 hrs. Man, that show is so good.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Minority Gov't

Well, looks like even more of a minority government here in Canada again. At least that means the Conservatives won't be able to pass some of the crazier "ideas" they had. But all in all, things will remain the same, we'll just have that post Harper as our leader. Eh, hes better than George Bush I suppose.

Anyway, in my riding we had some interesting results:
DISTRICT: Calgary West
CandidatePartyVote CountVote ShareElected
Rob AndersCON2659458.56% X
Jennifer PollockLIB1008922.21%
Danielle RobertsGRN469510.34%
Teale Phelps BondaroffNDP37548.27%
Tim CayzerCAP1850.41%
André VachonML1000.22%
January 24, 12:39:44 AM EST
225 of 292 polls reporting

Its not quite final, but it looks like Mr. Robby Anders gained voter ground from the Liberals this time out. Man I hate that guy. Oh well, I'm moving to Edmonton anyway.
Nicely, the Green Party gained ground, up like 2.5-3% over last year, even beating the NDP, a "real" party. See, the riding of Calgary West is (1) rich old people, (2) poor old people, and (3) students due to the University of Calgary being in the riding. Makes for a little balance, this riding has one of the highest Green Party vote in the country.

Well, thats it for politics.
Now for beer:
I racked off two beers yesterday, and I was quite impressed with the results. For my Best Bitter, the gravity after primary was 1.012, its looking like 4.7% alcohol. The flavour is quite good so far! Good balance between malt and hops, with a not-too-overpowering hops bitterness nor aroma or flavour. Just right. I can't wait to carbonate it. My Old Ale is going along quite nicely. After 20 days in 2ndary with 50 g of whole Goldings hops + oak chips, it has a pretty complex flavour. I calculate the new OG to be 1.079 and the final to be 1.020, which sets the Alc vol at 7.8%ish. Not bad, but not the 8.5 I was aiming for. It has pretty thick head retention, and nice dark colour. Helll yeah.

Job Details
Well I got the offer in writing now, so that means I'll officially (eventually) be the brewer at Alley Kat in Edmonton (see last post). I had to tell my new boss at my current job today, man that wasn't easy. I felt like I was breaking up with a girlfriend or something... "Its not you, its me". Ha.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

My New Job :)

Well, its pretty much a done deal. By March, I shall be an apprentice/assistant brewer at Alley Kat Brewing Company in Edmonton, Alberta!
So... now I just have to quit my old job, move to edmonton, and get in decent shape to do physical work again. Well, I'm gonna go get started!


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Best Bitter Brew Bictures

Ahh... ok well here are some pics from my beer brewing on Saturday. If you want, you can check out the latest recipe and brewing info here. If you look at the efficiency, my mash was 64% efficient. Not great at all. My recipe assumed 70%. Ideal would be 75%. That means I basically used 11% more grain than I needed to. The end result was that to get a beer of the same initial gravity (1.048) I had to have less total fermenting volume (20 L instead of 23 L). However, I plan on putting this entire batch in a 19 L keg, so this may be ok.

The problem was the sparging. I need a better sparge system, and I know what I want to build I just haven't done it yet. But thats learning for you.

My (undissolved) Burtonized water. So much sulfate!

Start of the mash. Note that I really need a bigger pot!

Halfway through the mash. Notice the loss if volume as the grain has absorbed
lots of liquid.

My makeshift sparge strainer. It worked ok, but my overall efficiency was a
horrible 64%. I really need a better sparge system. Sooon... soon.

I need a bigger pot, but I was able to boil between two pots. Not too bad, I
was able to make them boil at the same time despite different volumes.

So much humidity due to the boil!

Much later, after the wort has cooled, and I pushed it through a makeshift
hop-back, measured the SG, and added some filtered water. Racking it off to the
glass carboy for fermentation.

(Next day) Go yeast! Fermentation started. I kept it in a 'cold corner' of my
house so they didn't get themselves too warm at first. Too warm is bad. But so
is too cold. I think for a bit they may have dropped below 15 C temp. Bah.

In a warmer place in my house, the yeast blew off through the hose. Man I'm
glad I used a blow-off hose rather than an airlock. Those airlocks can suck to
clean. The aroma is pretty nice. I can't wait to taste this beer.

Well, yep, those are photos. If anybody in the Calgary (or possibly Edmonton soon!) area wants to try some let me know, I like critics :).

Job Woes

Ok, well today I accepted a new position at my current employer, which is a good job with higher pay, more responsibility, and sounds quite challenging. It was kind-of a surprise, and I tried putting off accepting the job (see below for why). But today I gave in and accepted it, so its official.

But I was looking to get this job at a craft brewery in Edmonton before xmas... well, we had a great chat I think and it seemed positive. I knew they were on vacation over xmas, and I should have emailed them last week and followed up. But I didn't, lazy I guess. We were talking about mid to late Feb for starting anyway. So anyway just after I accepted the new job this morning I got an email from the brewer there, asking if I was still interested in brewing with them, as they were still interested in me. I KNEW that would happen. Crap.

So of course I want the brewing job, even though it will pay much less and I'll be basically starting a new career from the bottom. But if I get it the people at my current employment are going to be sooooooo mad... and quite screwed (I'm usually quite modest, but the new job does solve a lot of their problems). I suppose I can't just stay there out of guilt, I do one day want to be a brewer, and while I'm not in a huge rush I should take a great oppertunity when it comes along. After all, this is the time in my life when I can switch careers... I am 26.5 and have no family/wife. If I keep taking jobs on my current career track then there will be less and less reason to switch careers as I get more responsibility and dependant on the $$. Now really is the time.

Anyway, just my little woes. I have pictures from my brew day I'll post in a few hours.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Brew Day Prep

First, let me post this link, its fairly humorous: http://www.oilempire.us/canada.html. I like the maps.

Anyway, here is what I'm brewing tomorrow. If you don't want to read the entire promash dump, the recipe basically is:

% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM
71.8 3.70 kg. _Pale Malt (2-row) Harrington Canada 1.037 2
13.6 0.70 kg. _Crystal 40L unk 1.034 40
9.7 0.50 kg. _Munich Malt - Dark Germany 1.037 9
3.9 0.20 kg. _Unmalted Torrified Wheat unk 1.033 2
1.0 0.05 kg. _Black Malt unk 1.030 525

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.

Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
28.35 g. _Fuggles 3.6% Pellet 3.60 16.0 90 min
21.27 g. _Fuggles Pellet 4.60 15.4 90 min
14.18 g. _Fuggles Pellet 4.60 1.6 5 min

Amount Name Type Time
1.00 Tsp Irish Moss Fining 15 Min.(boil)

WYeast 1318 London Ale III

Well, there you have it. It should be a pretty decent recipe. I still don't have a malt mill, so I have to drive down to the homebrew shop first thing tomorrow morning to get them to grind my grains. I've been working on my own "Easymasher" style setup, but I ran into a few problems so I don't have a viable sparge system. Thus, I shall just batch sparge and that will have to do. Oh well.

Its an all fuggles hop recipe, I plan on making a similar beer later down the line with all goldings, try to taste the difference.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Battlestar Galaterific!!

Ok, I'm a pretty big sci-fi nerd for some shows, but until yesterday I had never watched the newish Battlestar Galactica remake. What a great show! I couldn't stop watching. I watched the 3 hour mini series plus all of season one within 24 hours (and failed to do anything useful in that time). Complex storys, multiple plot lines, philosophy, love, hate, war, and a little comedy. I can't believe this show escaped me for 2 years. Frack, that means I'll be wasting more time watching this. Oh well.

Anyway, gonna do up an all-grain batch of a Special Bitter style beer this weekend.... just something to throw in the keg and drink. I'll post the proposed recipe later, but it will be pretty simple: pale 2-row malt for like 70-80%, a bunch of crystal 40L malt, maybe 4-5% wheat for head, and if I feel right about it then I'll add some honey or aromatic malt. I'm thinking maybe 25-30 IBU for bitterness (not toooo much) with some Target for bittering and some E.K. Goldings for aroma/flavour. Or maybe goldings for everything... hm. It'll be fermented with Wyeast London Ale III.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

More Pix

Ug, I really have to get better at my beer reviews. I always write my blog at night as I'm heading to bed, so I'm sleepy and say "meh, I'll input that review tomorrow". Well 7 tommows pass and then you're way behind. Oh well.

I will, however, post some cooool pictures again:

This is a pile of malts. As you can see, there is a lot of malt. Like 25 kg or so. Hell ya!

This is several ounces of hops.
Included are Fuggles, E.K. Goldings, Saaz, Hershbrucker (however the hell thats spelt), First Gold Organic, and probably something else.

And of course, this is my quick keg set up. Its pretty easy-ish once you get it going.

Ok, well I'm tired. Enjoy the pix, I'm going to bed.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Fucking Wallet!!

Well, I'm at home, its 8:20 am, and I'm supposed to be boarding a plane to Kelowna, BC at this time. I got up on time. I showered. I packed. I got to the airport 30 min before boarding should start. But as I got to the ticket window -- no wallet. Fuck.
So of course I parked in the overnight parking, which apparently costs $2.50 even if you've only used 10 minutes. Fuck. I had no money of course, so I gave the guy what change I have (like $1.36 or something) and he pretty much had to let me through.
Anyway, I'm booked standby for a flight at 10:30 am for like $49 more or something like that.

And my wallet? At home on the table having a laugh. Fucker.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Beer Brewin Pics

Ok, I'm lazy. I said I would put pictures from my Old Stock Ale brew day, but
I didn't. SO now I am. Woot. Many of these were taken by my friend Lise, who
just happened to notice my failure to mention her help in the production....

Some of the base ingredients. The big bowl is the 15% crystal malt in the

The horrible mess of crushing grains without a malt mill.

The "mash". This isn't really a mash because the grains here don't have any
enzymes in them, they are just for colour and flavour.

A quick "sparge" to get the rest of the sugars out of the grains.

Measuring the dry malt extract.

A cool action shot of some of the extract being dumped into the boiling wort.
Note the tinfoil on the pot to hopefully keep the heat in better.

Dumping into the primary. I tend to be pretty anal with sanitation, so you'll
see me wearing latex gloves and a face mask so I don't breathe into the fresh

This is much later (1 week). The primary is done, and its in the secondary.
Here I've dry-hopped the beer with 50 g of whole Goldings hops :) as well as
some "oak chip tea". This should really add more flavour to the beer!!

Well... the end. Hope you enjoyed ;)

What to do with my vacation

To take advantage of the Family Day holiday in Alberta here, I booked a week off from work mid-Feb. Now I just need to figure out what to do with it. I figure that I will do one of or a combination of:
  • Go to New York. I've never been there, and its a city that will be fun in any season. I have a friend there, although she will probably be busy with school. Plus there are some good breweries near there.
  • Go to Ottawa. I have a few friends there or near there. I really should visit our nations capital at some point afterall. Plus there are some good breweries near there.
  • Go to Montreal. I haven't been there since I was a young'un. My cousin is at McGill there, and I'm pretty sure I know somebody else there too (at least near by). Plus, ... there are some good breweries near there.
  • Do some insane brewing. I could start a batch every day, or every second day. Of course that would be an odd use of a week off... and you can only do so much until you're just waiting. So I figure I do one of the above for most of the time then brew like hell for a couple of days.
Anyway, just verbalizing thoughs. Carry on.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Well, first off, I have a couple of beer reviews to dump. I just went to the good beer store here in town and stocked up on a bunch to try, but here are some from the last weeks or so... I'm still missing my Fuller's Vintage Ale review. Bah. Anyway:
  • Amber Ale by Alley Kat in Edmonton. One of my favorite local craft brews.
  • Smoked Porter by Alley Kat... a bit of a sour brett finish I guess (not really to my taste), but an awesome aftertaste that makes you want to drink more. Seasonal, brewed in March.
  • Innis And Gunn Oak Aged Beer from Scotland (in Edinburgh, near where Hariot-Watt is :). A damn fine beer if you ask me. I wish to make something this good.
Anyway, so I picked up my half of the brewing supplies in Edmonton yesterday. Man, sooooo much malt. I have about 25 kg of malt ranging from pale 2-row grown right here in Alberta, to various specialty malts from around the world. I figure that with conservative recipes I can make about 10-12 batches of 23 L each... with 'fun' recipes I can probably make 6-7 :).

I have a lot more to post, but I've been terribly lacking in sleep the past 4 days. Sigh. Tomorrow the plan is to crack into the 18L keg of beer I acquired for some socializing before my friend moves back to Ottawa. That doesn't bode well for me updating my blog. Bah.
I had so much more time when I lived in Fort St. John and didn't know anybody.
Of course, I was horribly lonely... but at least I had time to update my blog daily :P.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year


Man, what a night. Got home at 7 am, slept for maybe 4 hrs, had to get back up again. Now I'm off to Edmonton. I should probably get a coffee lest I pass out on the road.

In Edmonton I get to pick up my half of a large order for homebrew supplies a friend and I put in. We bought kegging systems too. The place we bought the supplies from sold us one of the kegs (~18 L) full of beer already. Sweet.

Anyway, gotta run. Cheers!