Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hump Day Drinkin' Songs- unoriginal edition

Music fans? OK, check this out. Made me laugh and really sad at the same time. Confirms what I've known for a long time- modern music is horrible.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday morning musings- day before a trip edition

The day before vacation always sucks. Especially when you haven’t packed and don’t know what you’re doing when you get there. My wife and I are bugging out for a few days this week and haven’t really planned any activities for the time we’re away. I might be OK with that. We’re not going to any of the big beer cities, so I’d be surprised if I have anything interesting to write about the local beer scene when I get back. Don’t worry; I’m scheduling a Hump Day Drinkin’ songs post to drop on you Wednesday morning so you won’t be disappointed.

Busy weekend in terms of brewing for me. Well, not exactly brewing but items related to brewing. First, tee ball season ended Saturday morning. It was both a happy and disappointing end. It’s been a long season, but the little guys were just starting to mesh as a team. I’ve got high hopes for the next few years. The end of the season means I should have more free time available for things like brewing and building the mash/lauter tun. That’s good news. Second, I put out some cherry poppin’ wheat at a get together we had yesterday and people drank it. I typically take that as a sign of success with my homebrews. I’m not looking for high marks on beer advocate- though eventually that would be nice. If my guests drink it, and drink more than the one they have to in order to be polite, that’s a win.

Friday, June 22, 2012

At least they used Old Milwaukee

I don't have much to say about this, but to steal a regular feature from Redsneck, here's a Video Friday video. Pass me a beer.

Excuse me if I get a little political just this once

I try to keep this space light hearted and away from very many serious topics. It’s a beer blog after all and it’s supposed to be fun. However, my little corner of the world is currently involved in a fight with the USDA regarding an infestation of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). ALB is a non-native invasive species of beetle that typically lives in SE Asia (hence the name). The ALB feasts upon trees, mostly maple, and allegedly eventually leads to tree death. This bug was discovered outside Bethel, Ohio last summer by a local businessman. He did the right thing and reported the bug to authorities who came to confirm what he was seeing. Government officials then went to work planning a removal of the bug. A removal our town was led to believe would include infested trees only. As a town, this seemed acceptable. We don’t want the bug here anymore than the USDA does. Several months into the process though, things started to change. The plan evolved into not only removing the trees that have the bug but also any tree that could potentially have the bug whether it did or not. In our case that brings the total number of trees from about 10,000 (in round numbers- this could be much higher as I don’t think we yet know the true extent of this infestation) to more than a million. A million trees! Think about that for a minute.

Homeowners of course did not take this sitting down. When USDA hosted a town hall meeting in November several hundred people, myself included, attended and listened to their dog and pony show suggesting that the most efficient way to be sure the beetle was eliminated from our town ( a beetle their lax import standards allowed in, by the way) would be to essentially clear cut roughly 70% of the trees in our township. Can you imagine your world with 2/3 less trees? I’m not a tree hugger by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m also not an advocate for quick and dirty solutions to complex problems. Rather than explore options, such as treatment that has successfully been used in more urban areas, the government made the decision early on to just cut everything down with little regard for the property of us local yokels. There’s no money in the budget for reforestation, no money for reimbursing property owners for loss of lumber or firewood or property value. In my case, most likely no money for restoring my house that sits atop a hill that will likely erode away if the maple trees that line the hill and keep it from washing out in heavy rains. No consideration has been made of erosion and excess flooding. In fact, our county soil and water office has been left out of the loop. This is truly government run amok and the people of the little town of Bethel aren’t going to stand for it. There are alternatives. We ask that they be considered and preferred. WE ask for a say in what happens to our property and our town. We ask for a reasonable, mutually beneficial solution to a fight we didn’t start and a problem we didn’t cause. Tell me this is unreasonable to expect in a representative democracy. Convince me that elected officials and those appointed to represent our beliefs and best interest shouldn’t be held accountable when they don’t. You’re going to have a hard time. There’s way more to this story, but I’m sure you stopped reading a couple hundred words ago…

For me this has become more than about a couple of trees. It’s become a microcosm of where our country is today. The ruling class has decided that they know what’s best for us and are ready to force feed it to us through our pursed lips. Yesterday it was smoking in public places. Today it’s my trees. Tomorrow it might be my beer. After that it might be your McDonald’s milk shake or your pick-up truck or SUV. How much are we going to take? How many more times are we going to vote for candidates or ballot initiatives that give away the liberty that so many died to secure for us. How much more of our God given individual liberty are we going to yield to a nanny state? The time has come for us to be responsible for ourselves.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

That's it! I'm building a mash tun

For at least the past year I've put off trying to make the move to all grain because, well, because.... OK, fill in any number of excuses here. Money, time, equipment, all were used. Today I've taken the first step. I found a piece of stainless water supply hose brand new in the package in my workshop. So I cut the ends off and pulled the PVC out. this will form the filter portion of my mash/lauter tun. So I'm off and running. Now to find a cooler...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hump Day Drinkin' Songs- Parody Edition

It's Wednesday, which means that we at NGB are looking for some crazy song about drinking, that inspires drinking, or we've been known to shout at the top of our lungs while drinking. This week, I've got one that meets all three criteria...

Snoop a loop, bring your green hat! And then listen to the Gourds country up some Gin and Juice. How can you not enjoy this?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

You say shandy, I say radler...

After facing down the end of the anniversary Summer Shandy and enjoying the Sam Adams Porch Rocker I found myself with a decision to make tonight. Switch styles, or make something up on the spot. I've still got some of the Dead Men and some of the Cherry Poppin' Wheat left in the cellar. So decisions, decisions. At supper tonight my wife served a pitcher of fresh squeezed lemonade. Which gave me an idea. If I saved my serving for later, I could mix it with the cherry wheat for a cherry radler, or cherry shandy if you prefer. For those of you that don't know, a radler is an old German concoction that's half wheat beer and half lemonade. It's rumored to have started at a bar that was running short on beer one day and was watering what they had down with lemonade to stretch it out. That's just what I'm enjoying as I type this. I got out my biggest mug, poured a 12 oz cherry wheat and topped up with about 8 oz of the fresh squeezed lemonade (you'll have to ask my wife for the recipe for that). It's smooth. So smooth. Starts out sweet and then at the last second the Perle comes back to give you that bite right before you swallow. I'll be doing this again.

Monday, June 18, 2012

You found what at the gas station?

Over the weekend I learned a few things. 1) Being a dad is just about the best job there is- even when it impacts your brew schedule. 2) As good as Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy is, Sam Adams Porch Rocker is better. 4) I shouldn’t have been as down on gas station beer selections as I used to be. 3) Sometimes you screw up.

Details on #3. I went to my local BP yesterday on the way to a Father’s Day gathering to get a six pack for the group of dads I spend a lot of Sundays with. We put away our share of Yuengling and Buds in cans but Father’s Day called for a least one round of something a little better. This particular BP has been pushed by another station down the street to improve their selection. The Sunoco down the road built a new beer cave last year, so in turn the BP lined an entire wall with coolers and filled it with craft beer. And surprisingly they’ve done a nice job. I ran into the previously mentioned Porch Rocker in a six pack and caught a surprise just as I turned toward check out. There in the middle of the cooler in a row of singles they were selling was a Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA. At a BP. In the middle of nowhere. So I picked one up because it was Father’s Day after all. All that said, BP I apologize for any negative remarks I may have made in this space about you or your ability to stock beer that doesn’t suck. High five on the commitment to better selection. Even if I’m the only one buying it.

Now for more on #4. I’m not certain it’s a screw up yet, but I opened one of the Cherry Poppin’ Wheats over the weekend and poured into my favorite mug. No head. None. The flavor is good, the color is good (pictures to come later), but no head. I used Irish moss- which has solved this problem for me before. But this time, not so much. I’m not ready to call it a fail yet. It’s only been bottled for 3 weeks. I’ve just never had to wait so long. Reading message boards I see this kind of thing all the time and the answer is always to wait. So wait I will. More updates as they come.

Friday, June 15, 2012

On Anniversaries, Shandy, and Why is this Beer So Cold?

I'm back. Yesterday was my 10 year wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's been that long. My wife and I have planned a little get away later in the month so we took it easy on gifts on the actual day. But I did come home to a chilled 6 pack of Summer Shandy from the fine folks at Leinenkugel's. The traditional 10 year gift is aluminum. Really glad she didn't get the cans. Not sure how I feel about the shandy in a can(dy). See what I did there? I just feel like it would taste like Minute Maid lemonade- all sticky and what not. With tee ball practice and the post practice anniversary dinner- including some Newcastle, more on that in a second- I have yet to crack it open, but it's waiting for me tonight. Thanks, honey. Happy 10 years!

Back to the Newcastle. This is one of those beers that tastes better when it's not ice cold. I wish someone would tell the restaurant I was at last night that. Hell, I wish beer distributors would tell them that. How about an instruction manual with the kegs? The Newcastle I was served last night was probably 38 or 39 degrees. For me, I prefer it more in the 45-50 degree range. It brings out more of the flavor and doesn't blast your taste buds. Beer that is advertised as ice cold, or has some silly indicator on the bottle to let you know it's cold enough (I'm looking at you Coors Light) is probably hiding something. Flavorful beer should be enjoyed at slightly warmer temperatures. Not cold enough to fool you into thinking it's something it's not. Figure it out restaurants and you'll sell a lot more craft beer at a higher cost than ice cold Coors Light.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hump Day Drinkin' Songs: Whack for my daddy-o edition

And you thought Metallica wrote this song... Here's a news flash, Thin Lizzy isn't responsible either. I've been on a big Irish music kick lately. This one keeps showing up from various artists with various styles and various lyrics. This version doesn't' fit that style, but it's probably different than how many of you know it. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Who knew you could light these on fire?

OK, so as a kid I used to eat Dorito's like they were going out of style. As an adult, I've had times where that was true too. Until now. Friday at work a co-worker suggested to me that you could use Dorito's for kindling. This has little to do with beer, but I found it interesting. After a bit of discussion it was decided that we should try it. A few hours later my co-worker came back to her desk with 2 vending machine sized bags of Dorito's, one for each of us. So, to hold up my end of the bargain, this afternoon I attempted to set them on fire. Here's what happened.

As you can see, they are indeed pretty flammable. Not sure I'll be eating any Dorito's any time soon. Now what to do with the rest of the bag? Bonfire? Or maybe I can boil water for my next batch of brew. See, I worked beer in after all.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tourneys in the morning and beer at night

Ever been to a D-instructional tournament? You haven't lived until you have. At this age the level of competition is supposed to be laid back, but the level of parent ranges from chill to kill. Incidentally, that's the plan for a few home brews tonight (Chill and then kill). In this league they don't keep score officially so supposed to be about teaching the kids how to play. In many cases though it becomes about how little A-Rod is going to take care of Mom and Dad some day. At least, that's how they act. Life and death for 6 and 7 year old kids. Not exactly my approach to youth baseball, but it is what it is. And now that it's over, it's time to relax. I wish I was brewing today, but nothing beats a day on the diamond with one of my little guys. More brewing to come- and tomorrow should be the first tasting of the Cherry Poppin' Wheat.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Like Sean Casey playing second base

So yesterday I get the email from my buddy over at Redsneck asking if I can dust off the old glove and play some softball last night. As you may know, I've moved on to the coaching phase of my career. Coaching tee ballers is much easier on the old knees (and the ego) than actually playing. But since they were in a bind and the game was well after a 5 year old's bed time, I couldn't say no to my old team.

First the good- and the part relevant to this blog. Another Good Guys alum was in town from South Carolina and brought with him some Espresso Porter from Pametto Brewing Company in Charleston. Remember the Drew Carey Show and the Buzz Beer they used to make? I'd like to think if it was any good it tasted like this. A porter brewed with espresso? Yes, please. Very easy to drink. Felt like something I should be drinking in the car on the way to work in the morning out of one of those cups with the pretentious logo from the Evil Coffee Empire in Seattle on the side. Then I remembered there was alcohol in it. I need to run into some more of this.

OK so now the softball. After enjoying the porter and arriving at the game, I learn that I'm being asked to play second base. I'm a first basemen by trade and by default largely due to my bad knees if I'm being polite to myself. I've never played second base in my life, well except those 10 try out balls I took with a team of overweight, drunk, hillbillies the first year I played softball (Went to 3 games, got 3 plate appearances and was perpetually replaced in the starting lineup by another piss drunk, fat slow cousin every week before I quit. Best $25 I ever spent). Anyway, so what they did last night is like asking Sean Casey to step out of retirement and move to the 4 spot on the infield. OK, so it's not like that. It's like asking someone bigger, slower, and with less discipline than Sean Casey to do something similar in a much, much less high pressure situation. But you have to respect the hyperbole.

I can tell you this morning that I didn't embarrass myself. But I also didn't get much action, thankfully. I was able to manage 2 hits in 3 at bats and drove in 2 runs. I'd like to say it was in a winning effort, and I really could and you'd never know, but not so much. More impressively, I was able to get out of bed and make it to work this morning without too much pain. I'm hoping tomorrow isn't worse. Now that I've delayed my hall of fame eligibility by another 6 months, it's time to start planning my next brew and figure out a way to run into some more of that espresso porter.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Still, some of these suck but I tried

Everybody knows it's almost the biggest holiday of the year right? I'm not talking about Flag Day (though that does have special meaning at my house). I'm talking about Father's Day. And shipping/shopping days are dwindling. Because I know you all love your dad as much as my kids love me, here's a link to some gifts that don't suck and some that do. For the record, I'm digging numbers 5, 9 and 11 the most. There's an expanded selection if you click the link they have at the bottom and quite frankly some of the other things they have suck way less than these 13 they've chose to not suck. Don't worry, I'm not getting paid to say this, don't have any affiliate ties to this site. I'm just trying to help you out. If I find anything else, cool, I'll let you know. If your dad is looking to homebrew I might suggest something like this to get him started.

You'll also need a brew kettle. I bought a turkey fryer for mine because it's big enough and about the same price as a stock pot anyway. Full disclosure- I am an amazon affiliate so now you know. Get your dad something cool, he's earned it. Not as much as your mom, but he has.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hump Day Drinkin' Songs- International edition

In an effort to add a little bit of culture to the masses, here's what I can only imagine as a drinkin' song from Carlos Santana and Mana in Spanish. It's been a long time since I took any Spanish, but I'm pretty sure he's talking about having a wounded heart. I can only guess that's due to a woman problem of some sort. Sounds like a good reason to tip back a few to me. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Baseball season is in full swing

After reading that title you may think you're reading Redsneck, but I assure you it's still me. Now that you're reassured, I can tell you that my three boys are in the thick of baseball season right now. This week we've got some baseball related activity 6, no wait there was a meeting Sunday, 7 days which leaves little time for Daddy to brew. I'm not complaining, I'd not trade a minute of this baseball madness for pretty much anything but you can see where I wouldn't have any news related to brewing.

As of right now I have the Cherry Wheat in bottles ready to start sampling this weekend or next, 2 gallons of dandelion wine, a gallon of strawberry wine, and a forgotten gallon of apple something or other that I need to bottle soon. There's only 3 more weeks of tee ball so things should start to slow down as the summer drags on which means more good things for you. Let me know what you're looking to learn and we'll take a run at it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

How could you forget about the strawberries?

Loyal readers will remember that last weekend there was a bit of begging on my part to secure some fresh strawberries for wine. Super loyal readers will remember that I was successful. Yesterday I took the another step toward turning that strawberry mush into wine. You'll recall that the instructions I posted called for straining and moving to a more permanent fermentation vessel after a week. I jumped the gun and went a day early, but was able to strain most of the solids off and move the liquid to a growler fitted with an air lock. I did have to add additional water to top up to 1 gallon, but I expected that would happen. Below is a picture of where we are now. The next time you see this wine it should be much clearer and have been racked a second time.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bonus Drinkin' Songs- Has it really been that long edition

This morning my wife reminded me that today is the 15 year anniversary of our graduation from high school. It's also the anniversary of my driver's license (which I'm more likely to remember). The first thing that popped into my mind was the chorus to this song. When you reach your point where it's late enough in the day for you to crack one open, drink a toast to the New Richmond High class of 1997 and enjoy this classic Conway Twitty. I know I will. Man am I getting old!