Tuesday, February 28, 2006

First day of work at a brewery

Yep, thats right, today was my first day.
I got into work about 20 minutes too early since I misjudged traffic... It only takes like 7 minutes to drive to work. Should only be 15-20 minute bike ride when it warms up :)

Anyway, first, I'll remind you of where I work. I'm just starting at Allet Kat Brewing in Edmonton, AB. Five people work there... the two owners (husband/wife) who brew and manage the business, a main sales rep, me, and a temporary labourer they bring in when they need help.

Today was a bottling day. I was working the end of the bottling line, which is one of the more 'menial' tasks in the brewery. The process involves taking 4 six-packs (case) and placing the filled, capped & labeled bottles in the packs. Then taking a hot glue gun that makes a mess and sealing all the boxes (...without making a mess, these have to look pretty for the stores). Then just stamping the boxes with expiry date and batch ID and stack them on a skid. Pretty much anybody could do this. Which is why I'm lucky I work at a very small brewery... if this was a large brewery this would be somebody's job every day all day. Tomorrow I get to do something differnt (kegs? cleaning? install a new tap? ?). And the next day we're brewing. Then maybe more bottling on Thursday... I donno.

At least bottling is easy and mindless (well, until I have to operate the filler/labeler... looks like a bitch). Perhaps in the future I'll be longing for a easy bottle day.

Anyway, I'm pretty tired and have a lot of emails to catch up on.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Saga Continues

Sorry for the no content of late, but I am in the middle of moving to another city. Its going pretty ok for now. I put an offer in on a place and its looking like I'm going to get it. A few small issues with it and a crazy-ass condo manager, though. Its exactly what I was looking for really. My parameters aren't like most peoples though... I wanted to be in a high-rise condo complex, lots of light, upper floor, in a busy lively area of the city. I'm offering on a 10th floor, south facing 2 bdrm, 1.75 bath, with a balcony. It could use a bit of renovation work, so I'm looking forward to that.

Beer Stuff
Ok, well I bottled my Old Stock Ale finally, its been more than two months since I started it. I do have kegging systems, but I want to age these bottles for awhile. The final alc vol % was 7.8, which is lower that I wanted but still pretty good. The flavour still has the heavy smell of goldings hops from my 2 weeks of dry hopping with 50 g of whole hops. I'll give it a try in a month, I have some concerns about its quality... but carbonation changes everything.

I start my first day at Alley Kat brewery on Monday, I'm looking forward to that. Even only two weeks of time off with no job gets pretty boring pretty fast. Plus.... I'm working at a brewery! Sweet!

I was down at my favorite Calgary pub, the Hop n' Brew, last night and found something odd. They were serving "Braveheart" Scotch Ale from Alley Kat brewery. Now since I am soon to be an employee of Alley Kat I was fairly certain they were mistaken on the name, which was supposed to be Kiltlifter Scotch Ale (a mighty fine ale if you ask me and even according to my several non-beer nerd friends who have gobbled the stuff up). I asked about the name change, the owner thought the name would cause too many problems.... really? "Kiltlifter"? That's an awesome name!
What do you think? Is in an appropriate name? Its beer after all...


Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Lasagna Incident

Ok, well, its 8:05 and I'm supposed to be going out in half an hour or so to the Hop n' Brew (my favorite Calgary pub) for a friend's birthday. So I made some lasagna for dinner just before I left (the frozen kind). I then went up to my computer to eat the lasagna whilst watching an episode of Family Guy.

My computer desk isn't very big. With the monitor in the way I only have about 20 cm of space to put a plate on. My plate is ~25-30 cm in diameter, leaving 5-10 cm hanging off of the table.

When one applies downward force with a fork to the 1/3 of the plate that is hanging over empty space, something interesting happens, I learned. The plate flips up and lands upside down in your lap. Then, you must decide if it is more important to save the lasagna you just finished making so you can eat it, or to save your legs & crotchal area that are starting to 'feel the burn'. Myself, I chose to save the lasagna... flipping the plate over and grabbing the steaming hot lasagna with my hands, depositing it back on the plate.
It really hurt.
But I was pretty hungry.

So anyway, since I'm moving soon I had just put all of my decent clothes in the washing machine, keeping one decent set to wear out this evening. Naturally, this was the set of clothing I was wearing when I dumped freshly cooked lasagna on myself. The stain on the crotch area made it look like I had pissed my pants with some kind of horrible bladder infection. All I had left were sweat pants.

Also, since I burnt the inside of my thighs a little I have this little bow-legged walk I have to do to keep the pants away from the skin. It looks stupid.

So in conclusion, fuck it I'm not going out tonight. Ah well, I should be packing anyway...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Uhh... well this was a post... then I went to edit it... and then I did something weird... and then it was gone.

Fuck VD

Not venereal disease.. Valentine's day. BTW, currently, I'm listening to all the songs in my iTunes collection that include the word "fuck". This, apparently, includes "Just don't give a fuck" by Eminem, 'Fuck off" by Kid Rock, "Fuckdubs part 1&2" by Tosca, "Rollin' On Chrome (Wild Motherfucker Dub)" by "Aphrodelics" which is an awesome driving tune BTW, "Hey Fuck You" by the Beastie Boys, and "Fucking Hostile" from Pantera. A wide selection if you ask me.
Anyway, this year was the year of Fuck VD for me. Although I've only actually had a girlfriend for one VD ever, the point is that at this one time of year we are all forced to examine our relationships with our relationships & possible relationships. Last year, I examined my current relationship and decided it was something I wanted to put everything I had into... well, a couple of weeks later I was dumped. But this year I had the advantage of not having any relationship to examine. It passed without any event, really. I sat at home, watched TV, and did shit all.
You know, I bet that a lot of relationships end in the two weeks before VD. People freak out and decide if they really want to be with they people they are with. VD is a big event. You better be serious about what you want!

How does this relate to BEER? Well, I think that this year I really should have gone to some bar full of sad singles like myself and had lots of beer like some other desperate woman there... at the very least I would have met some woman in the same situation as myself... even if it didn't go anywhere, we could have made fun of married people or something :P

Anyway, here's to VD (the St. Valentine kind)

Not Billy!

On another non-beer related note, I just finished watching Battlestar Galactica 2x16... dammit. They killed Billy! Those bastards! I liked Billy. Sigh.
Anyway... carry on.

Place to live = found

Phew! Sorry for not posting for a few days... I know the like 3-10 people who actually read my blog are very disappointed with me. I know that my blog is a very important part of daily life and my removal of that part really messes people up. I am so important.
Er... whatever.

Anyway, aside from tooting my own horn, I finally found an excellent place to rent after 4 freakin days in Edmonton. I heard about it from a friend of a friend, so that makes things easier for "references" since they have excellent resources to find out if I'm a good guy or not. I am living with a female, which is fine by me, I actually get along better with females I think anyway. And NOT just in the "giggity-giggity" way either (actually, history suggests I don't do that very well... I'm more of a "nice guy". Meh.)

So yeah, moving in next week. No beer news for another couple of weeks, sorry. Although I have to bottle my Old Stock Ale tomorrow...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Assorted notes

Well, I put an offer in on a place to buy in Edmonton over the weekend, but it didn't go through. Kindof a seller's market up there these days. I'm probably best off renting for 6 months at first anyway... its just more expensive... meh. I have two weeks to find a place to live and move into it. And.... GO.

As for living in Edmonton, I'm really hoping to get a place in/near the Whyte ave area somewhere inbetween 99th st and the University. Its the cultural centre of the city, and I always get a good vibe when I'm down there. The plan is to buy a bike (my old one was stolen a couple years back) and do most of my transport with it. The brewery I work at is only about 4-5 km from the area, so thats really only a 15-20 min ride with traffic.

On another note, a friend of mine wanted his name to appear higher on google, so he registered his name to a domain name and it seemed to work. He is Scott Carmichael. I should do that... when people search for "Brian Westcott" they get some wrestling dork...

Anyway, the post below is actually about beer.... cheers!

Best Bitter

Finally had a chance to crack the keg of Best Bitter I made last month. It was my first short at force carbonation, and I got it wrong :P. When we cracked it, there was almost no carbonation... which is somewhat traditional for English ales, however this was dead flat. Not so tasty then. But by the next day after letting it sit at 20 psi overnight it was carbonated perfectly, and quite tasty if you ask me. It came out just as I wanted it to... perfect medium-brown colour (although on the darker side for bitters), nice smooth maltiness with a little graininess which was still quite plesant. It was pretty bitter, and not very tasty when warm, but had a great bite when served colder (7 or so C). I only used fuggle hops, so it was nice to taste it alone. I think in future recipes I'll change the hops to goldings, see how they change the flavour. I might also add more late-hopping, since in this batch while the bitterness is quite evident, I wasn't getting much flavour or aroma. So it was quite a simple beer, but when served in the proper conditions it was quite plesant.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Moving Crap

Well, since I am moving to Edmonton I am realizing that I have stuff built up in my house over the last 5 years... including:
  • Some medium sized old shelving units
  • A 3 large-drawer'ed dresser
  • A small-drawer'ed dresser, medium height. (...I can make up punctuation if I want to)
  • A whole bunch of empty CD cases (I've long since put all my music on my iPod, and all the CDs are on spools. What the hell do I need the cases for?)
  • An old coffee table hand made of cheap wood.
  • A really comfy single bed (mostly new, one wine stain)
  • Another medium-sized shelving unit.
  • Perhaps a cheap-ass (yet quite comfy) couch.
  • A pile of clothing that either doesn't fit me or I don't like
  • A shitload of old computer stuff:
    • HP Netserver LH II, with dual 300 mHz processors, 256 mb ram, and 6 SCSI hard drive bays and hardware RAID. It was a fun project, and hopefully some other geek will get ahold of it. It currently has a way outdated version of Gentoo Linux.
    • A double sized case with an AMD 1.2 gHz processor, 512 mb ram, and I think a couple of hard drives totaling 100 gb... actually I should probably plug that thing in and see whats on there.
    • A battery back-up system, two batteries wired together. Heavy as all hell. It was pretty sweet for my server setup.
    • An oldish dell desktop with I think a 20 gb hard drive and maybe a 1.5 gHz processor. I should probably fire that one up again too... hm.
    • Some shitty old monitors, maybe 15" or so.
    • A realllly old 120 mHz computer I used as a gateway/firewall server. Its basically crap, but it can still do the job. I think it still has OpenBSD 3.0 on it (They're on 3.8 now, and they release every 6 months... I hadn't touched the thing for the whole time other than opening a port now and then and it always worked!)
    • A lot of assorted cables for almost everything PC (and some Sun, oddly enough), small amounts of memory, old-ass hard drives, an old dual-head video card, lots of cd-rom drives, power supplies, processors, network cards, modems, hubs, switches, and ... well a lots of pretty nerdy stuff somebody may have a use for.
  • Two fairly large boxes of Warhammer 40k (mostly "Epic" scale, for those who remember it). I should probably sell that on eBay or something, I bet somebody would love to increase their collection.
  • A bunch of mis-matched dishes.
  • A whole bunch of books, including a lot from the dragonlance series, and lots of computer text books.
  • An old -30 C sleeping bag... not the easy pack kind.
  • Some nice laptop bags I picked up at conferences etc over time (some leather).
  • Some luggage.
  • A table lamp, slightly broken yet still bright.
  • A TV from like 1984. Free if you can get it out of my house. It works though.
  • A big brown comfy chair that belonged to Canadian writer Ken McGoogan.
  • Large 1.8 m long shelving unit, three shelves tall.
  • A good "study desk" about 1.2 m long.
  • Hangers. Lots.
  • A few large pads of that newsprint you use in meetings... whatever its called.
  • A whole bunch of AD&D 2nd edition books!
  • Some good quality glass pots (3, small + med + large), teflon frying pan (scratched...), perhaps some other cookware.
I think a lot of the stuff would be good for a student or anybody getting started on their own. Its really cheap (or even free in many cases), I just need to get rid of it. I've mostly put this list up for people I know to give them an idea of what I have to get rid of (in which case call me if interested), but if you're just passing through this blog and live in Calgary feel free to give me a shout at bobtheheadless@hotmail.com.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Kegged Bitter

First, I kegged my Best Bitter that I started back at the beginning of Feb. I love kegging, it was SO much easier that bottling!! Too bad I still have to bottle 23 L of Old Ale I plan on aging for some time. I've never force carbonated (rather than letting the yeast carbonate the beer) and I have to have this beer ready for a possible party this coming weekend, so I decided to force carbonate this batch. We'll see how it turns out.
For taste... its 4.7% alcohol, perfect amber brown colour... I can't judge the head yet since it wasn't carbonated. Its a little grainly, and quite dry in its maltiness (I was aiming for a little sweeter). The hop bitterness came out perfect, its quite bitter but still nice. I used all fuggles; the aroma and hop flavour is low but noticeable. I think its a little young, but we'll see how it tastes with carbonation!

Not about beer:
Anyway, I've been pretty bad with my updates of late. I was just up in Edmonton looking for a place to live before March before I start my job at the brewery. So many decisions!

Oh, and I just watched the new War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise in it last night. Fuck, what a stupid movie. There were a few times I considered turning it off, luckily I had nothing better to do. Read the book, you'll be entertained a helluva lot more. Maybe some of the special effects were cool, but all the actors pissed me off.

Er... well, anyway, Cheers!