Off for Xmas!

Shopping for Xmas is exhausting. Getting the presents, wrapping them, mailing them, it’s such a pain in the ass that I now understand why I never really tried to do it before. It’s much easier to simply not expect any presents and not give any presents. I mean, seriously, I can shop for myself. And most of the presents I’ve gotten in the past have been somewhat useless crap. At least my parents figured me out a while back and now tend to get me beer and/or beer-related accessories.

Still, I tried. Got the parents something, got something for my nephew, even mailed a few things off to some friends. Now all I have left to do is to wrap one present, stick it in the car, and drive to the parents house. So, I’m out for Xmas today. Have to spend some drinking quality time with Mom and Dad. What else are the holidays for?

However, I will be back in time for Trivia night at the Saucer on Xmas day, so I’ll see everybody then!

Minor highlights of the life of Otto…

Let’s see, haven’t posted here in a while… what to say…

Lorelle invited me to make some guest posts this month on her blog. I wrote a short little technical ditty about how to integrate Microformats and WordPress Themes. If you’re into WordPress, or CMS’s in general, it’s worth a look. Since I use this site as a sort of test bed, I might also mention that it’s currently showing nine, count ’em, nine different microformats. And a few other things that aren’t microformats as well.

Went to the Art on Tap beer festival this last weekend. Had a hell of a good time, but was rather disappointed in the food selection. Also, it was one of the only beer festivals I’ve ever seen where all the beer was poured out of bottles. The exception was the homebrews poured by The Bluff City Brewers, which were all really good. I recall getting back to the Saucer, I don’t quite recall going home. So clearly, I had a good time. Paul posted some shots of the fest, some of which include yours truly.

The Rapscallions won at Trivia tonight, amazingly enough. Pete has clearly been making the questions harder, as we only scored 79 out of a possible 160-something. Still, that was enough for a tie, and we won the tie-breaker. $50 in the pot for the next party!

I received an invitation to the wedding of Chris, a friend of mine currently living in Atlanta. I kinda wonder about it, the wedding reception is at a beach resort in Alabama, but it’s in November. Anybody know what the weather is like at Gulf Shores in November?

Along with the invite, I received a summons from Zach for the Bachelor Party in October. Unfortunately, I’m told that it’s the same day as the Great Decatur Beer Tasting Festival. That’s just poor planning, man. Although, a beer tasting in the afternoon, followed by a Bachelor Party all evening… I’m not sure I’m capable of that anymore. I’m not as young as I used to be. Still, it’s doable, and damnit, I think I’m going to have to try. And then this weekend, I have the Cooper-Young festival to cope with. Along with a keg party a block away from the festivities.

Oh yeah, and Raiford’s is reopening, with Raiford back at the turntables. Now that I live about 2 blocks away from that point, I can see many 40’s in my future.

So, the fall is looking busy.

My God, it's full of Beer…

This may be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.

All-In-One Brewing Device

It’s an all-in-one brewing machine made by a photographer at Popular Science. He spent about $4300 making it, but it brews, chills, ferments, and pours, all in the same device. Apparently, a little manual intervention is required, in the form of swapping CO2 hoses around to move the brew along through the machine from time to time. But the brew itself is never exposed to air, thus eliminating the risk of contamination.

They also have a slideshow of how the device actually works on PopSci’s website.

And, of course, a YouTube video of him demonstrating it. :)

Virtual Bartender

Paul found a thing called MyFountain on somebody’s website. It’s basically an automated bartender.

Now, I’ve seen these before, but mostly as do-it-yourself type projects. The basic idea is that you get a bunch of liqour and beer and such, hook it up to a bunch of pumps and tubes, and hook those to a computer to portion each one out properly. Simple enough. The trick, of course, is programming the computer properly. Running pumps and such is no big deal.

This MyFountain thing takes it to a whole other level. The cheap version (which is still $2500 or so) is a basic bartender. It can go online to get new recipes and such, and it knows what you have in the fridge so it can tell you what you’re capable of making. The advanced version is basically geared towards managing an entire bar, in that it networks with multiple units, can estimate drinking patterns and call headquarters to schedule deliveries of more beverages automatically, etc, etc. Very clever indeed.

Still, I think it would be a fun project to build my own unit. I’ll need a mini fridge or freezer of some design to hold the beverages, but I’ll have to be willing to cut holes in the thing for the necessary tubes to pass through. So if anybody knows of a fridge/freezer design suitable for such a project, capable of holding, say, 6-10 bottles of liquor and possibly 1 or 2 mini kegs, let me know.

Dogfish Head Beer Tasting – Review

I had a thoroughly enjoyable time at the Flying Saucer last night. They had a Dogfish Head beer tasting event, where we got to try five different Dogfish Head beers along with a five course tasting meal to go with the beers and such.

First: By far, my favorite was the Midas Touch. It was an excellent beverage, extremely smooth. The contents of it are unusual (as with all Dogfish Head beers), and it had a flavor which I’m somewhat unable to describe. Very mellow and mead-like, but not overpoweringly so. Strong as heck (9%) but you can’t tell at all. A very complicated beer.

Second: The Festina Peche, which was not a beer that I was expecting them to have. It’s a wheat beer, but they called it a “Neo-Berliner” which was new to me. It had the most variation in flavor of any beer that night, very sweet at first, turning almost sour by the 4th-5th taste. High in carbonation (for a beer), but surprisingly low in alcohol (only 4.5%). Excellent flavor though, and I will pick it up again when I find it.

Third: The 90 Minute IPA. For those of you that know me, you probably know that I hate IPA’s. Really, really hate them. However, the 90 Minute IPA really does an amazing job of hiding the hop flavors with the sweet flavors at the start. I did discover that if you block the sweet flavors by eating some bread just before taking a drink, then it’s extremely hoppy. All the hop flavor comes out when you can’t taste the sweetness.

Fourth: Raison d’Etre. This is one I’ve had many times before, it’s a beer made with green raisins and Belgian yeasts. It’s a good beer, but many people don’t like it because it’s slightly sour flavored and very malty. Note that by ranking this 4th, I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying that the other three were better. :)

Fifth: The 60 Minute IPA. It’s a pretty average IPA, but with a lot more hops than per normal. The hop flavor is immediately apparent as it’s way overhopped. I have to say that while I can drink this beer, I don’t really care for it much. It’s a high alcohol beer (6%) for a low alcohol price, and that’s a good thing. It’s also a much better beer than many others on the market. However, it’s very much an IPA with a huge amount of hops, and I don’t care for that style of beer myself. But if you like IPAs, you’ll love it.

Unranked: The 120 Minute IPA. Mikey was lucky enough to procure the “Golden Ticket” and thus win one of the coveted bottles of their heavy-duty IPA. We also procured a couple of other floating bottles, so I got to taste this one fairly well. The short of it is that that it’s very strong. At 18%, it’s not messing around when it comes to the alcohol. It’s also very heavily hopped, but honestly, the alcohol hides that flavor. Again, I tried the bread trick, and it worked, you can really taste the hops when the sweet alcohol is hidden from your palate. I do not recommend doing this trick on this beer however, as it tasted like I had chewed on a handful of hop pellets. It’s that strong. On the whole, however, it’s a good beer, but it’s more like a fine wine. Sip it. Slowly.

The food was delicious as well, and whoever thought of mixing the Peche wheat beer with orange sherbet is a sheer genius. Same goes for the Beef Stew and the 90 minute IPA.

The guy from Dogfish Head mentioned that they’re bringing their beers into more Memphis liquor stores. Apparently we have a 6% law I did not know about, so you’ll likely only be able to find the stuff in liquor stores and not general grocery stores. Some of their beers are well worth the extra trip, so I plan on making some liquor store runs soon and seeing what I can find.

Geekery and Beer

So, I’m sitting here drinking some of my new homebrew. It’s a rather nice cherry wheat that came out a tad more spicy than I was actually expecting. I think I rather overdid it on the cinnamon. I figure that after another couple of weeks of bottle conditioning, it might turn out to be a rather good beer.

One thing I have noticed is that it’s a lot stronger than I was expecting. After just one, I’m catching a buzz. Very nice.

Anyway, while I’m basking in the sun and enjoying a frosty beverage, I figured I’d putz around with the website a bit. Those of you of a geekish bent might try looking at the site on your mobile phone or whatever handheld device you happen to prefer. Through the magical power of the interwebs, the blog should now look different on the handheld devices, more suited to smaller screens. It’ll eliminate the sidebars and rejigger the display a bit. Since I’ve been using the mobile web a lot more, I find this quite cool.

Also if, for some demented reason, you feel it necessary to produce hardcopy of my random meanderings, you’ll find that the excessive imagery disappears on the printout, leaving you with just the basic text and little else. This should all be automatic if you have a modern browser, no strange trickery required. Although I’m dubious as to why anybody would want to print out my worthless words, the option is now there, if you happen to come up with a reason.

Those of you interested in the technical details can read on after the jump…
Continue reading “Geekery and Beer”

Beer is the basis of modern static civilization

Not my title. It’s a quote from Charlie Bamforth, Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at the University of California (which is possibly the greatest professorial title ever).

More on the subject at Scientific American.

Some good quotes here:

Because before beer was discovered, people used to wander around and follow goats from place to place. And then they realized that this grain [barley] could be grown and sprouted and made into a bread and crumbled and converted into a liquid which gave a nice, warm, cozy feeling. So gone were the days that they followed goats around. They stayed put while the grain grew and while the beer was brewed. And they made villages out of their tents. And those villages became towns, and those towns became cities. And so here we are in New York, thanks to beer.

And this one explains my theory of Sunday morning brunch:

He who drinks beer sleeps well. He who sleeps well cannot sin. He who does not sin goes to heaven. The logic is impeccable.

Good stuff.

Interesting weekend/life

You know, I moved here 3 years ago, and until last year, my life was kinda uninteresting and dull. But then I made a positive decision to actually go outside and make my own life, and that really sorta changed things for me. Now I have interesting friends who live in interesting places and do interesting things. I really dig that.

More so because of weekends like this. It was a busy weekend. First, I’ve got Mikey’s Texas de Brazil event, which was, frankly, incredible. More meat than I could possibly imagine, for free. And it rocked. I’m now a fan of de Brazil.

Second, there was the Rapscallions trivia team drink-fest Saturday night, which was a hell of a lot of fun. I got to try several new beers on the trivia tab, and enjoyed myself immensely.

Next, there was the crazy brunch this morning at the Majestic. At one point we had completely filled the entire bar, which, at the Majestic, is no mean feat. I counted 16 happy people enjoying a quality menu and drink selection. Our bartender, Tiffany, seemed to be quite happy with it as well, for obvious reasons. It was an interesting time full of interesting people.

Finally, after my semi-required weekend workday, I met up with Chad and Rebecca and had an entertaining few hours eating $0.25 oysters over at the Flying Fish (a new and fun place on 2nd street).

So, at this point, I’m both drunk and full of oysters, and really sort of in a contemplative mood. About a year ago, I would not have said my life was a good one. I had/have friends that I loved but rarely saw, and spent much of the rest of my time working/sleeping.

Today, my life is complex and busy, and I love it.

Hefeweizen goodness

I finally chilled a few liters of the Hefeweizen I made a couple months ago. Had some last night. Even picked up some actual lemons at the supermarket in preparation.

The result: It’s good. Real, real good.

I may have to go buy the brew shop and pick up a bigger fermenter vessel and some actual bottles. It came out very tasty. Just the right amount of flavor and no nasty aftertaste like, say, Paulander Hefeweizen. The amount of hops was just right, the cloudiness was perfect as long as I didn’t pour off the yeast, and I’m sure using the correct type of liquid yeast made some kind of difference. All I know is that it was way, way better than my last attempt at a wheat beer.

In fact, the only Hefe I’ve ever had that beat this homebrew one was the Schalfly Hefeweizen at their brewhouse in St. Louis.

So anyway, I’m probably going to try to perfect this particular beer. If I can find the receipe I used, that is. I’ll probably try to get some base ingredients instead of some of the normal canned stuff like the malt extracts and such, and make it up from scratch. Help me learn the process a bit better.