Tag Archives: homebrewing

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Remember what happened tonight. I thought about stopping by Glasstown Brewing tonight after I drop Fritz off. I didn’t because I didn’t get excited about drinking beer. This will prove beneficial when I return to planning out a multi-thousand-dollar home brewery . . . I am a sugar addict. Breaking this sucks as I crave the sugar. Stay out of convenience stores, the principal’s office, etc. I am stronger than sugar. I am stronger than addiction . . . Had a rough day on Friday at work. Frustrated that students aren’t learning nor are they following my advice. Why should they? I should not impart advice; I should teach academics. My story is not inspirational to these students. It does not resonate with them . . . News today is the same as it was 17 years ago. Just like a soap opera. One could not pay attention to the media for whatever period of time, pop back in, and not feel as though he has missed a beat . . . Thought I had taught my children to thank others for their kindness. I failed. Sent my son a book he wanted. It arrived today. Silence. Maybe he didn’t get it. Maybe he’s engrossed in activities with the new guy. Perhaps he didn’t think to acknowledge his father . . .

Homebrewing, the Beginning

Twenty-five years ago when I lived in the apartment I somehow got into homebrewing. Frankly, I think I had picked up a homebrewing book even before that while I was still in Cape May.

Anyhow, homebrewing was a bit different back then. I did everything in the apartment. Pretty certain I was using extract kits at that point. I know I had purchased a full-sized garbage can for this hobby. I suspect that was for wort cooling, but I do not remember. I don’t have a whole lot of memory of what I did then. Pretty certain I brewed some pilsners. Probably ales as well. Eventually, I gave all the equipment to Cliff Graham at some point.

At the house I got interested in homebrewing again. I had thoughts of adding three utility sinks in the basement to assist. Yup, never happened. I did purchase another starter kit. I brewed a few different beers. I know I brewed John Palmer’s Cincinnati Pale Ale. Whatever I did was not correct as it was not tasty in the least. I think I rushed it.

I toyed with the idea of a real all-grain system, a homebrewed all-grain system, and some other systems. That did not sit well with the other adult in the home. I eventually got rid of my homebrew equipment in favor of drinking Glasstown Brewing Company‘s excellent offerings without having to do the work myself. It is akin to why I gave up the dream of having a Davis Instruments weather station at the house given the professional weather station at the airport that would be even more accurate than anything else I could purchase.

All this fit well into my simple living space. I have so little stuff these days. My time these days is focused on rebuilding this blog.

And that’s when it happened. I came across a post about that failed Cincinnati Pale Ale. Since then, I have been giddy about brewing beer again.

When I moved back to the apartment, I envisioned that I would be cooking a lot. With barbecuing removed from my life because of the divorce, I truly expected I would be cooking. Things like stocks, soups, stews, etc. The reality is, that has not happened.

But I like cooking. Brewing beer is definitely in that space.

While I am at maximum efficiency in my simple living, it’s not that nothing can be added. A year ago I did begin adding stuff back into my life. Yes, that stuff has since been offloaded. 🙁

If I am convinced that homebrewing is something that will stick, I am going to move forward with this. That’s a big if, however. There’s a lot going for it. But there is also a lot of stuff that comes with it. I have questions. I am not 100% convinced yet. This process reminds me quite a bit of when I first got into barbecue.

We shall see . . .

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Materialism is alive and well despite me living a simple life. Going through old photographs today reminded me of making apple cider. Now I want a homebrew set again (this would be the third set). C’mon, Bob . . . Yesterday I was researching cameras and stills. I’ve been down this path many times before. One never escapes wanting to buy things, it seems . . . Spring 2007 seems to be where recreating this blog has slowed down. Far too many photographs and some complicated web pages are stretching out the time that I spend doing this . . . ’twas reminded how I tried to take my ex-wife to New Hope many times. She refused each time. Also tried to take her to Prince Edward Island due to her interest in Anne of Green Gables. She wouldn’t go there either. And just today, one of my students told me he went to Williamsburg. That was yet another destination I suggested many times our family travel to. No, we never did . . . Not big on polls, but Biden and Harris are 20+ points underwater right now. On top of that, 64% state they don’t want Biden for a second term. The man hasn’t even been in office a year yet. Yikes! . . . For some reason, Facebook thinks I am interested in skydiving. Not certain why . . .

I Don’t Need Any New Hobbies!

I am my father.

My father had a plethora of hobbies: Duplicate bridge, building model cars, terrariums, astrology, making wooden handbags, woodworking, building clocks, computers, etc.

I am very much the same; I bounce from one hobby to another.

Believe it or not, I am in decluttering mode presently. To that end, I have off-loaded stuff from some previous hobbies. More recently, I have been addressing our basement. The big chores there are the 1000+ books, the music collection, the piles of CDs with years of back-ups from the computers, and papers. The music was dealt with last summer. The CDs are almost done. I have tired of them. I do a few discs every now and then, but most of them deal with photographs from my early days of geocaching and have no EXIF data. On top of that, the files are duplicated all over the place. I feel obligated to go through each one to ensure I have everything.

My current project is the books. I have made great headway. I needed a break from it as it is tiring too. The paperwork is contained, but we have some shredding ahead of us.

There is another area down there to deal with: all my homebrew stuff.

Homebrewing is a love/hate relationship. Fifteen years ago I had a set-up at the apartment. I made some very good beer for a while, then I lost interest. I gave away all my equipment. Once we purchased the house and settled in, I bought new equipment. I made some beer. I had mixed results. I lost interest, the equipment went into a corner of the basement. I’ve been moving in that direction.

One of the things that got me back to brewing a few years ago was that I have space to do it here. I am going to make another run at this hobby. There is a cider I have been wanting to make for several years that I am going to get going. The other day I contacted a buddy of mine who has gotten into all-grain brewing, which is where I was headed. He and I are going to hook up for a brew session soon. I think that will help my confidence. He also tipped me off to a new style of brewing that is new since I was involved. Since then, I have been reading nonstop. I am in the middle of an 80-page thread on one site.

My decluttering is clearing up space, but I am finding old stuff that I am reconnecting with. I may even get to kegging this time around. 🙂


07-08-03 LC2S

39.390094 -75.054797

About a dozen years ago I had a brewing setup in the apartment I lived in. When I met Gert, space became a real issue. As we re-organized our stuff, I donated my equipment to the husband of a colleague of mine. When this scavenger hunt was listed, I kept thinking I should visit them and take the obligatory photographs in front of “my” equipment. I never did that as the stuff wasn’t mine any longer. As this school year wound down and we prepared for a visit from my mother, I decided that now that we have settled down into our home, Daddy could afford to claim a little space to get back into brewing.

So, in late-May/early-June, I began re-purchasing equipment. I documented brewing the first batch with my new equipment and bottling. We popped open a couple bottles in early July and it was still very green. I had another about a week ago and things are far smoother. The equipment is all packed up in the basement until it is time to brew again.

Bottling Day

07-06-19 Cincinnati Pale Ale Bottling Day

A little more than three weeks ago I brewed my first homebrew in a dozen years. I was supposed to have bottled it last week, but time got away from me. On Friday, Beetle and I drove to Williamstown to pick up some supplies. The store did not have everything I needed. On Saturday I drove to Richland. I knew the country store there had some supplies. I was more than impressed; they certainly had as much in stock as the Williamstown store, if not more. And with it being two towns over as opposed to a 40-minute drive, well, I found a new place to frequent.

But I got lazy and did not bottle until now. I knew it was going to take a while and just did not commit to it. But time’s a-tickin . . . the children went to sleep and so did Gert. Then I began.

I had washed my bottles in the dishwasher yesterday and they were still there waiting for me. I first sanitized the spigot. After attaching it to the bottling bucket, I added sanitizer to the bucket. Once sanitized, I added the water to the wallpaper tray I purchased the other day. In there went the siphon, bottle filler, etc. While they sat, I boiled some water and priming sugar.

I was nearing, finally, bottling, but had to sanitize the bottles still. Kegging is looking better already. : ) Bottle after bottle went into the tray. After soaking I rinsed. Repeat. Forty-eight times. Finally I was done.

I added the priming sugar to the bucket and then siphoned the beer from the fermenter. I went with an easy pale ale and knew it was full-proof. With no secondary I expected it to be cloudy. It did not disappoint. I will be repeating this ale soon with the addition of a carboy. That will demonstrate how well that will clear a beer for me. There was plenty of trub at the bottom. FWIW, the auto-siphon worked like a charm. The LHBS did not spare any tubing. I’ll probably pick up a long section next time out.

I drew a sample to measure with the hydrometer. I did not take the original gravity, but it did permit me to sample the beer. Flat and warm, but it did have a pleasant taste. I think it will be enjoyable to drink despite all the sediment in it.

The homebrew boards recommend filling over an open dishwasher door. Any spills will be on the door that way. Rather ingenious. With a spring-loaded filler, filling the bottles was a piece of cake. I filled six at a time and then capped them. It didn’t take too long before I had my 48 bottles done. I was about 1/3 of a bottle short.

Then came the big clean up.

My mother is looking forward to drinking some of this when she visits. Unfortunately, it really won’t be conditioned yet for drinking. We’ll pop a couple to taste, but the real drinking will not occur until July.


Food Thoughts

Recently there have been a few food-related thoughts popping around . . .

I purchased my second food-related item at a paint store the other day. A couple years ago I picked up some new paint cans to create seafood boils in. Now I purchased a wallpaper tray to sanitize my beer bottling equipment.

We went to Bob Evans for a Father’s Day brunch with my in-laws today. We dine here far more frequently than I am comfortable with. Looking for something a bit different, I opted for the Bob Evans Benedict. It sounded interesting using the franchise’s biscuits instead of English muffins and the signature Bob Evans sausage replacing Canadian bacon.

Unfortunately, the hollandaise sauce was weak. It spoiled the dish. In addition, the eggs were overcooked. Poached eggs are not difficult to make and for a breakfast place to not get it right speaks volumes. Interestingly, this is the first Eggs Benedict I have had since a thread over at Cooking Light a few months ago.

Cal Ripken looks like Tom Colicchio.

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Picked up my bottling equipment today so I can bottle my pale ale . . . I found the fitness room at my school today. We have treadmills! . . . Beetle finished school today. I am the only one left working . . . Michelle Malkin smacked down Geraldo Rivera last night on The Factor . . . Summer is fast approaching, AK . . . Chevy Chase is a poor actor. How did he get a gig on Law & Order? . . . Yard work tomorrow . . . My ticket was paid today . . . The cooking reality shows are back! . . . On Hell’s Kitchen, Melissa and Rock seem to be the ones with talent. At this early stage, I think it is Rock’s kitchen to lose. Aaron has no business being on the show and Jen seems a mess . . . The Next Food Network Star is the weakest link of the three cooking shows. Nevertheless, I like JAG and the Monica look-a-like. Next to leave should be Paul and/or Flower Girl Colombe . . . Top Chef is full of controversy this season already. The contestants were selected from a pool of chefs nominated by friends of the judges. Then the first guy eliminated was chosen over someone who did not complete the task. The natives are restless over this. I have no issue. Clay was the weak chef. I like Tre and Howie, although Hung looks to be the one with talent (and a relationship with least season’s Marcel) . . .

Keeping Wifey Happy

So, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about homebrewing of late. Gert seems to be agreeable thus far. She did ask about money at one point (all hobbies cost, don’t they?). I mentioned that the change in my geocaching habits should offset all that. Filling up the gas guzzler is an expensive activity and by taking the extended break (for all intents and purposes) I am, it should free up what I need.

But it is not an endless pit of money. I do work for the government after all.

I really want to keg my beer, but that is not going to happen right off. While reading through a thread I came across this post. I recall being 26. 🙂

Can someone please explain to this 26 year old why one needs SWMBO’s permission to buy brewing stuff? Or for anything for that matter. Just tell her to get her ass back in the kitch……

After some scolding and advice, that same guy posted:

Being gay is looking more and more appealing minus the whole “being gay” part of it. NTTAWWT…

I nearly sprayed my computer screen right there.

It is true that a happy marriage is contingent on give-and-take. I do not understand the clothes and shoes that makes my wife happy. I have even fewer shoes than what I described last August. Purchases aren’t the only things to keep one happy. But with a limited supply of money, one needs to be reasonable with his share of the disposable income if he expects her to be equally reasonable. That she purchases shoes, clothes, or dainty things that mean little to you, understand that the brewing equipment, GPSr, etc. may not impress her either.

Nevertheless, once one begins spending beyond a certain threshold, the spouse needs to be involved. Hell, I spoke with Gert just today about a free refrigerator. Over the last several years, I have come to the conclusion that transparency in all walks of life (marriage, work, geocaching) is key.

Families need to work together. The It’s None of Your Business attitude is not, in my experience, the way to a harmonious relationship.

Just food for thought . . .

Cincinnati Pale Ale

07-05-25 Cincinnati Pale Ale

Totem Clan posted an idea about hosting a homebrew geocaching event 10 days ago. That thread got me thinking about homebrew.

About 12 years ago I bought some equipment and made a few batches of homebrew. I recall a decent pilsner and a hard cider that was very good. I lived in an apartment at that time. The equipment took up a lot of space and when Gert moved in the beer equipment moved out.

Now we have a home, two children, and once again I am interested in brewing.

Since Totem Clan posted, I have been reading all about brewing. It seems like a few things have changed since I brewed, most notably priming sugar is not needed in each bottle, but can be added directly to the beer. Also, the Internet seems to have brought a wealth of information that was not as available back then. It has served me well.

Lots of folks point to John Palmer’s How to Brew for beginners. I found this to be extremely helpful.

As I age, I do not rush out (or at least I hope I do not) and buy everything that is needed for a new hobby. I continued reading and planning. I decided to hold off on the bottling equipment. I so want to keg my beer. I am not certain I will end up there this soon, but I am still researching. I still had my brew pot. I knew all I really needed was a fermenter and ingredients. I bought those today. I should have picked up a thermometer too.

I made the pilgrimage to Williamstown (much easier now that I geocache) and picked up what I needed. I had expected to purchase a stainless steel brew pot, but didn’t see one.

They did not have the Amber malt my recipe called for so they substituted another extract and a half pound fresh malt. That meant I would be steeping. They also changed around a few of the procedures. As an OCD boy, I didn’t like this. I want to follow the damn recipe word-for-word initially before I modify.

I came home and referred to my online resource for help. These guys answered all my questions and I felt at ease.

Cincinnati Pale Ale Ingredients for a 5 gallon batch
  • 3-4 lb. Pale malt extract syrup, unhopped
  • 2 lb. Amber dry malt extract
  • 12 AAU of bittering hops (any variety) For example, 1 oz. of 12% AA Nugget, or 1.5 oz. of 8% AA Perle
  • 5 AAU of finishing hops (Cascade or other) For example, 1 oz. of 5% Cascade or 1.25 oz. of 4% Liberty
  • 2 packets of dried ale yeast
Substituted 1/2 pound Crystal malt and six pounds extra dry malt extract for the 3-4 lb. Pale malt extract syrup, unhopped and 2 lb. Amber dry malt extract.

Used one ounce Nugget 11.6% for bittering and one ounce Cascade 5.8% for finishing.

Used one packet (11.5g) of Safale US-05 yeast.

After spending the balance of the day with the family (air show, ice cream, etc.), it was time to begin.

I sanitized everything I needed to after scrubbing a couple others. I then began boiling a couple gallons of water. As I did, I realized that the brewstore told me to toss in the grains and let them steep as the water boiled. That didn’t sound correct so I checked online. My reading indicated that most folks steep in less water than I had going. So I took some of it out and began a second pot. I also waited until the temperature in the first brew pot was 150°F before I put in my “tea bag”. I kept checking the temperature with a meat thermometer to ensure I did not hit 170°F, apparently when the tanins break and add acidity to the wort. I steeped the grains for 30 minutes.

10:00 p.m.
I rinsed the “tea bag” with water from the other kettle and discarded the grains. I drew a cup of water from the second pot for the yeast and then poured the nearly boiling water into the wort. I now have approximately three gallons of brew right now.

I brought the wort back to a boil. Once there, I shut the heat off and added six pounds of dry malt extract. I stirred thoroughly so there were no chucks in the wort. Once done, I turned the heat back on.

10:53 p.m.
The wort returned to a boil and the bittering hops were added.

It seems to me it took some time to get back up to a boil. Once I put the burner on high, it was soon there. I was trying to avoid scorching the wort. I have set the timer for 60 minutes. Ten minutes before that I will add the finishing hops.

11:40 p.m.
Added the finishing hops.

Afterwards, I began assembling the ice bath. I couldn’t find the drain stop so I ran upstairs to get the one for the tub.

11:50 p.m.
The boil is over. The boil is over!

I removed the hops, shut down the boil, covered the pot and placed the wort in the ice bath made in the kitchen sink.

This is going to take a bit . . .

Meanwhile . . .
It’s been a while since I have had a Grolsch. This is a beer I recall my father telling me about. Dad wasn’t a big beer drinker, but he told wonderful stories about his youth and Grolsch.

12:15 p.m.
I was surprised the wort chilled so quickly. The wort was cool to the touch.

I pitched the yeast, sloshed the wort in (rinsing the Pyrex glass the yeast had been in with the wort), and topped off to five gallons with cool tap water.

At that point the fermenter was set. I attached the lid, filled the airlock with vodka, and placed it in the hole.

It occurred to me that I might want to take a hydrometer reading before I put this in the basement. But without a thermometer, I am not certain that reading will mean anything. I have a question into my brew buddies. Time’s a wastin’, I think it is a lost cause at this point.

Now, to wait two weeks . . .

Sunday 10:22 a.m.
No bubbling yet in the airlock. 🙁

Monday 8:23 a.m.
It appears there is a little activity in the airlock. It’s not quite like I recall, but I am not using a blow-off, so that may explain the difference. Or it may just be at the beginning of activation.

Wednesday 5:18 p.m.
After more than three and one-half days, fermentation is finally evident. I have been a bit concerned and began asking on my brewers’ board. I was put at ease as it seems that my basement is so cool that fermentation is slowed. No biggy as things are now where they should be. It is very exciting!