Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Innovative use for your brew kettle

Regular readers know that I'm not brewing as much as I would like. Who this side of Dogfish Head is? A lot of that has to do with my duties as a dad to 4 kids. During the Christmas vacation my oldest boy came to me with an interesting problem. One of his brothers gave him one of those snakes that grows while you soak it in water. This particular one, being of the extra special Christmas gift variety, grows to more than 4 feet long. You can't exactly put that in a mixing bowl or beverage pitcher and let it got for 5 days. Space will quickly become an issue. Partly due to quick thinking and partially due to the fact that my wife is terrified of snakes and had already ruled out any of her kitchen equipment, we had to come up with an innovative place to grow this creature. Since I'm not brewing, my 7.5 gallon brew kettle seemed to make a nice place. Please excuse the poor photo, but you can make out the snake on day one. I can't wait to pull that thing out once it's fully grown.

There's a snake in my kettle

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Guy's New Year's Resolutions

This year, I expect to be much better than the last. But I expect that every year. This time though, I thought I’d make a few resolutions for New Guy Brewing. The year 2012 was a pretty good one around here, we made some good brews, a few good wines, and learned a few things a long the way. However, there’s always more to be done. With that in mind, here’s what I’m shooting for in 2012: •A blog post each week- something meaningful- more than just the Hump Day Drinkin’ songs which are kind of easy •At least 12 batches of beer. That’s one per month, though I expect I’ll need to double up a few months to make up for the busy times (baseball season) •Another 100 beers added to my list. I hit 100 just before the ball dropped on 2012, so it’s reasonable to expect I can get to 200 in 2013. •Make the move to all grain. This is one that I’ve been putting off for some time. I’ve reached that point in my brewing where it’s the inevitable next step. •Finally, I will make an amazing beer related gift for my sister in law for Christmas 2013. This year’s spice rack (pictures to come) was all right, but left something to be desired. I’m counting on you to keep me accountable. I’ll post updates through the year to keep tabs on how many of these things actually happen. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hump Day Drinkin' Songs- Hangover edition

Day late and a dollar short? Maybe, but here still. This one's gonna be quick because I've been busy lately. One for the season and for the wife. I know she's gonna love it.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bottling the alcohol fermented from harvesting the fruits of my labor

As you may remember, I also dabble in the world of making wine.
To that end, last weekend I was able to borrow a corker- probably should get one of my own- and bottle up 3 gallons (3 varieties) of this summer’s harvest. Surely there are a few tips I can share about my bottling experience right? Well, probably. The one big question I see over and over again is how do you know when it’s time? Well, honestly I’m never 100% sure. There’s no sure fire method to my madness. Others will tell you to look at the specific gravity and wait until it’s reached its final desired reading. I almost always forget to measure original gravity because I’m trying to get the brewing process done either while doing 2 or 3 other things or on a time crunch heading out of the house for an event. So, I usually wait until the wine is clear enough to see through (like the picture at the right) and has been racked a couple of times. (Racking is the process of moving from one fermenter to another with the idea being that you leave behind sediment each time and get a clearer, less chewy end product).

How many times should I rack, you might ask. The simple answer is as many as it takes. The idea is to get all of the solids out of the wine, not to rush the process so you can drink faster. If you’re into fast drinking, wine making is probably not for you. Typically, I’ve never been in a hurry to get my wine into a bottle- with the exception of the little bit of watermelon that I made. I’ve heard that watermelon juice goes bad quickly so I rushed the process a bit. Either because I was rushing, using bad melons, or it’s just a bad idea in the first place, the watermelon wine I made turned out to taste awful, for what that’s worth. Anyway, my current schedule doesn’t allow me to do things when I’d like or plan to do them, so I get it in when I can. That means when I got a couple of hours last weekend, I took the chance to get the growlers of wine out of my wife’s kitchen- it’s a win for both of us.

The actual bottling process is much like that of bottling beer. You transfer the wine into a bottling vessel- this serves as the final racking, and fill bottles using a bottling wand (trust me, this makes a huge difference and saves a big mess), and then cork using a specialized Portuguese Double Lever Corker (I borrowed one from my friends over at redsneck). After that, label what you’ve got; find a nice place in the wine cellar (in my case, a set of tall shelves in my garage that no one else can reach) and wait. Depending on your patience level and the type of wine you’re looking at 3-6 months. So I’ll be reporting back on the 2012 versions of my apple, dandelion, and strawberry wines sometime in the spring. Stay tuned.

At the end of the day, here's what I wound up with. Not bad, eh?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hump Day Drinkin' Songs- Personality Test Edition

So I spent the better part of today doing the DiSC personality test with my project team. Overall it was a pretty decent day with good company and a few laughs. What I learned is that I'm a "dominant" personality, which I apparently means that I like to get things done and I often times put my foot in my mouth. Could have told you that for free, but I won't pass up free lunch. Part of the exercise was for people of like personality types to to explain their "type" to the group. One of the questions asked was to name a song that best describes the type. Me and the only other dominant personality in the group both looked at each other and almost in unison said "Crazy Train." For that reason, here you go. Ozzie Osbourne when you could still understand what the hell he was saying. Next time, I'm thinking we move the team building activity to the bar.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hump Day Drinkin' Songs- Post Election Edition

OK, elections over. We all know what that means... All those annoying political commercials will be replaced with annoying Christmas shopping commercials. I've waffled on this decision this morning because most will agree that it's too early, but at the same time, it is that season, and there are a lot of these I want to get in this year. So, with apologies to all the Thanksgiving songs about drinking, here's a Christmas song to get your season started- whether you're partying that Obama won or crying in your beer that Romney lost. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hump Day Drinkin' Songs- Halloween Edition

Happy Halloween! Halloween, of course, means trick or treating. We'll be braving the cold to take our 4 little munchkins out tonight. Everyone knows all the cool houses will have a cooler of something cold for the dads. (Subtle attempt to influence behavior- I'm talking to you Bethel). It's only right. Something to warm the cockles on a wind driven night. You might ask what beer goes best with trick or treating. The best answer is free. If you're paying, I'd suggest something with a bit of winter warmer in it. It's gonna be cold in Ohio. No matter what you end up getting into, or not getting into, here's you're Halloween themed Hump Day Drinkin' Song. Enjoy.