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Everything posted by aiki_brewer

  1. Don't be too jealous - it's really about the only thing I'm good at, and also, beer snobs can be insufferable... Also, I consider myself more of a beer dilettante than a specialist. A beer blog would be very dull - a few hours of excitement on brewing day, and then 3-5 weeks of watching CO2 bubble, slowly, out of the fermenter - plip... plip... plip...
  2. The beer was outstanding. It's actually been conditioning for about a month and a half (it was supposed to be ready for GC when the, ahem, project was finished), and the extra time has allowed it to develop. It now has some complex, subtle fruit undertones that it didn't have after the basic fermentation was done. GC's hardly worthy of it... You know what they say - comedy is tragedy that happens to somebody else... With apologies to those who aren't interested (but hey, we had an extended discussion of names for burnt rice, like the twenty-five Inuit words for snow...) - the sword is for iaido, the art of killing from the draw. Very traditional, practiced mainly as solo forms. (Kendo is more like modern fencing, practiced with pads and bamboo "swords.") Aikido is primarily "open-hand," but we occasionally practice weapon take-aways, including sword disarming techniques. Having trained with a sword, all I can say is, "yeah, right..."
  3. 'Fraid not. "Eye-key." After practice, I am frequently achy, though in nine years (knock on wood) no breakies... Don't tell GC, but it's not a real sword - no edge, just for practice. Not that I couldn't get one on short notice... Besides, the aikido would be more effective - pop limbs from sockets like disassembling a roast chicken, without leaving a mark! What do you know, GC got his butt to the job right early this morning, but not before I left, so we had a little chat, and confidence is up again. That may be the worst part, the roller-coaster inconsistency. That, and hiring a surfer to do work for very detail-oriented people...
  4. She's called me in to play the heavy - that thunderous sound you hear is me cracking my knuckles in preparation for pulling the ring on that can of whoop-ass...
  5. Only evil. Sweet, delicious evil... That's JGarner53 herself, about age 5, I think. She's just as cute today, though a bit less blond...
  6. He has a name, you know. And even a EG log-in! He just hasn't checked it since he was bizzy watching the beer forums 2 years ago...
  7. aiki_brewer

    Good Keg Beer

    I'd figure that Red Hook ESB would be a pretty good choice - 5.77% ABV, easy to drink, and probably well-priced (and easy to get). Not very exciting, I know, but, hey, it doesn't sound like these are people into exciting beer. It's a good craft (yes, I know they haven't qualified as a microbrewery in years) "wedge" or "beginner" beer. Or, you could go with their Winterhook seasonal, 6.11% ABV and with a little more character.
  8. aiki_brewer

    Duck Rabbit

    Stouts, particularly modern stouts, don't have to be molasses. Pub stouts like Guinness and Murphy's are often referred to as "session" stouts, because they're not so heavy and therefore you can keep drinking them throughout the night. To some extent, I think that the idea that stouts are heavy (or especially strong) beers is a psychological one, partially from the fact that they're dark and opaque, and partially from the fact that most commerical beers in America are so light and weak. Is Duck Rabbit (I'm reminded of the Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck cartoon Duck Rabbit Duck; I can't remember if it's the one with "Wabbit season... Duck season!" or "Well I say he DOES have to shoot me now... SO SHOOT ME NOW! (blam!) You're DITHPICABLE!") local to Greensboro? I've had imported milk stout (Mackeson's XXX), and made my own, but haven't ever seen any from the local microbreweries and pubs here in the SF Bay area.
  9. has fat tire started distributing outside colorado? ← It's definitely in California (or at least the SF Bay area).
  10. aiki_brewer

    Canadian Beer, eh!

    Any chance, after Tuesday, that we can get our Good Friends Up North to annex California? I promise we'll bring all of our breweries (Anchor, Sierra, Speakeasy, Stone, Anderson Valley, Bear Republic, Bison, Buffalo Bill's, Firestone Walker, Lagunitas, Lost Coast, Mad River, Mendocino, Moylan's, North Coast, Pete's, Sudwerk, and St. Stan's, to name a few) with us! (And maybe Pyramid and Rogue, too, if we can get WA and OR to come with us.)
  11. aiki_brewer

    "Beginner" Beer

    I'm afraid the only appropriate response to that is this cross-post from the "Worst Beer Ever tasted" forum (thanks, JetLag!) "When I lived in Mexico City all my Mexican coworkers called Corona pepe de raton, rat's piss!" Of course, I'll admit that I enjoyed one of those myself last night, after a fiece 1.5 hour martial arts workout; I probably would've gacked on Ommegang or Chimay...
  12. aiki_brewer

    I spy...

    There's been XPmas stuff in Walgreen's alongside Halloween stuff (makes for an interesting juxtaposition) since Labor Day. Used to be that Thanksgiving was front line, then it fell back to Halloween. If Labor Day falls, there'll be no stopping XPmas's inexorable march towards Independence Day and its ultimate goal of 6 months of XPmas Of course, Full Sail Wassail and Anchor Christmas year-round wouldn't be such a bad thing (Way to get back on topic, eh?)
  13. aiki_brewer

    Organic Kolsch

    If you get Pyramid beers out there, they make a Kolsh called Curveball, though they only sell it from May to July (it's their baseball season seasonal).
  14. Bison Brewing's (of Berkeley, CA) Chocolate Stout, about 4 years ago at the SF International Beer Festival. Imagine taking a skunky ale and stirring a big heaping spoonful of Nestle Quick into it. I had to spit my free sample out into a nearby garbage can, and the lingering affects ruined the next several tastings.
  15. aiki_brewer

    black and tan

    Um, wouldn't that be a Black and Very Dark Brown? I'll defer to the English bartender, though I've always heard either Guinness and Bass (mmmm, nationalist rivalry in a pint glass) or Guinness and Harp (though mixing ale and lager offends my zymurgian sensibilities). I've even once had Guinness and Sierra Nevada Pale ale served as a Black and Tan, but I wouldn't recommend it!
  16. Just what the world needs - Zima-Dew... O Ninkasi, where are you when we need you to smite these unclean abominations?!?
  17. Slightly off topic, but does anybody have a source for Thai-style muslin coffee bags? The best cup I've ever had on the planet may just have been the one I bought for 10 baht (about a quarter) from a street vendor, grounds in a muslin bag that had been steeping in a tin can of hot water probably since the last monsoon season, poured over sweetened condensed milk.
  18. Actually, I've heard of the reverse - a friend of a friend makes chocolates with habeñero peppers in them! Tasty, but they just get hotter, and hotter, and HOTTER in your mouth!
  19. aiki_brewer

    Pumpkin Ales

    I found the website of a pub brewer who talked about a batch he'd made that used 38 lbs of canned pumpkin in 99 gal of beer, which worked out to 1.9 lbs for a 5 gal batch, which seemed fairly reasonable, so I got 2 cans of Libby's pumpkin (w/ no preservatives). He suggested baking the pulp at 350F for 1hr to carmelize it, which I did (by spreading it out thin on one of jgarner53's Silpat mats atop a cookie sheet ), and then added it at the beginning of the boil. I used a basic mild ale-style wort as the base (9 lbs 2-row, 3/4 lb 60L crystal, 1/2 lb Victory, 1/2 lb torrified wheat, 1/4 lb chocolate, or something close to that), with one infusion of 1 oz of Cascade hops for 1 hour. Adding the pumpkin to the boil (I actually added it at about 180F) produced some orange scum that I scooped off, but otherwise the pumpkin seemed to disolve pretty well, though there was some in the trub, and then more when I racked it this past weekend. When I racked it, I also added a spice infusion, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp each of ground cloves, allspice, and ginger, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg, which had soaked for a week in 6oz of vodka (I strained it when I added it to the 2ndary; I've been working on that spice balance for years, BTW - a little nutmeg goes a LONG way in beer ). The brewer's website had suggested spice additions during the boil as well, to bring different characteristics out of the spices, but I wasn't sure enough about the results or the chemistry thereof to try it. I'll probably bottle it in 2 more weeks, though I may rack it again, as there's still quite a bit of sediment. Fortunately, I didn't get one of the explosive fermentations that I've sometimes gotten with fruit beer. If people are interested in the results, I'll keep you posted (and of course break out a bottle for anybody who happens to be in the San Francisco area, home to not one but TWO f-up baseball teams ).
  20. aiki_brewer

    Pumpkin Ales

    About the only one we have out here in CA is BB's, which is brewed in Hayward (in the San Francisco Bay Area). Dogfish Head is available through Stone Brewing in San Diego, but is much rarer and I've never seen it up here. A question for the homebrewers - does anybody have a good pumpkin ale recipe that actually uses pumpkin? My local homebrew-store says that if you add pumpkin to your mash, the starch doesn't saccarify, meaning you're just going to get cloudy, starchy, gas-inducing beer. According to him, you either have to add enzymes to break down the pumpkin starch, or, since pumpkin doesn't really have much flavor on its own, cheat, by adding pumpkin pie spices (the flavors most people associate with "pumpkin") but no actual pumpkin. This is what I've always done - soak the spices from the missus' (jgarner53) pumpkin pie recipe in vodka to make a tincture, and then add it to the secondary. However, if somebody has a pumpkin ale recipe where the pumpkin actually adds something good, I'd love to try it.
  21. aiki_brewer

    "Beginner" Beer

    There are some good books on beer connoisseurery out there, most notibly by Michael Jackson (the Bearded One, not the Gloved One). But ultimately, to really learn the styles of beer and variations within each style, you're going to need to taste. Just line learning wine, you'll want to do horizontal tastings (comparing different styles side-by-side) and vertical tastings (the same style or beers of closely-related styles by different brewers). One way to do a horizontal tasting is to visit a local craft brewer or brewpub and get a sampler of all of their beers. Brewpubs will often also have menu suggestions for pairing their food with their beer. The American Homebrewers Association (ABA) publishes a ABA style guide, which you may find helpful in learning the styles and their characteristics. As a final note: most beers don't have much of a "yeast" taste, except for hefeweizen (wheat beer with residual yeast), or Belgian or other beers that are bottle- or cask- conditioned. In fact, such beers tend to have a mellower flavor, as the live yeast "scrubs out" (as my homebrew store guy says) impurities in the beer. Plus, the CO2 in such beers is better disolved in the beer than those that are force-carbonated at bottling or tapping, leading to a smoother, less "fizzy" mouth-feel. Bitterness is, of course, a necessary part of beer's flavor, since otherwise all you'd have would be residual sugar, carmelization, alcohol, and grain roasting providing the flavors, which would be a little (or very) cloying. However, there are plenty of beer styles that are on the more balanced or even sweeter side. (American ales tend to be more aggressively hopped than English ones, and if it was Danish it was probably pilsner which are generally on the slightly hoppier side.) Busboy's suggestion of Fat Tire (American-brewed Belgian-style ale) is a good one; I'll also throw in Mackeson's XXX Stout (sweet- or milk-stout, very different from Guiness, made with lactose), or Moretti La Rosa double-bock (not regular Moretti lager). Good luck!
  22. aiki_brewer

    Beer tasting notes

    As I recall, there's actually a good tasting reference near the end of (of all things) Homebrewing for Dummies (which is actually a pretty good reference guide, and in many ways is better organized and more comprehensive than Papazian's standard The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing). It has a good chart of flavor characteristics (as well as potential off-flavors and their causes), and some sample forms for tasting and competitive judging. Which reminds me of the joke I read somewhere, that "the difference between beer tasters and wine tasters is that beer tasters swallow..." (Not to mention, "If beer were easy to make, they'd call it "wine.")
  23. I saw these a couple of years ago in the brewpub in the Monte Carlo casino in Las Vegas. (Mediocre beer, BTW - the water out there is too harsh to make good beer.) Didn't actually drink from one, but I agree that it's pretty gimmicky, particularly at 10liters (that's a lot of beer), and probably a pain to clean. Only really makes sense in a bar/pub, since to use it at home, you'd need a keg to fill it from, and why not just tap off the keg? And if you're in a pub, you only get to drink that one type of beer (unless they pour you a very tall black & tan). Of course, we should have been tipped off to the fact that these people are silly by the chart on their "Do beverages stay cold" page, which shows them pouring the beer at 40F...
  24. Generally I've used Cuvee yeast for making meads - it's got a high alcohol tolerance, and isn't going to add much in the way of flavor characteristics. With ale yeast, you're likely to get diacetyl flavors (and, in the case of wit yeast, phenolics) that could unbalance the flavor of the finished product, particularly if you're going for just a straight mead. Honey's flavor is pretty subtle (at least for most of the kinds of honey one would use to make mead - I tasted eucalyptus honey once, it was like eating sweetend Vic's Vapo-rub...) As for open v. closed fermentation, I always go for closed. I'd be worried about even a "clean" dish towel, as clean ain't necessarily sterile. Guess it depends on how big your fermentation vessel is, and how likely the blow-off is to come into contact with the towel and whatever's in the air beyond. If I'm likely to have a vigorous fermentation, I'll go with a blow-off tube rather than an airlock - about a 3 foot length of tubing, one end crammed into the carboy stopper, the other securely submerged in a plastic container filled with a couple of inches of water and a little bleach. Basically a giant airlock.
  25. aiki_brewer

    Low-Carb Homebrew

    Actually, alcohol (CH3OH) is a carbohydrate, too, so having the yeasties converting the sugar into alcohol doesn't actually reduce the carbohydrate content. Now, while I wouldn't try this myself, it IS possible to add some body and "mouthfeel" to your beer, after you've reduced the amount of malt going into your wurt in an attempt to make "low-carb beer;" however, doing so is going to ratchet your carb content back up again. You can add lactose, AKA "milk sugar," which is a sugar that yeast can't digest and therefore remains in the finished beer to add a slight sweetness and body. You should be able to get it from your homebrewing supply shop, if you want to try this. (Of course, if you're lactose-intolerant, you probably won't want to.)
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