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. :)

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”

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.

Mr. Beer Mishap

So I pull out the keg the other day to bottle the Blackberry Brew that I’ve been fermenting for a couple of weeks, and what do I discover? The keg damn near exploded, that’s what.

Like I’ve said in earlier posts, the screw top system seems to have a few drawbacks. For one thing, the level of tightening that you need to use is questionable. I appearantly overtightened the lid, and the result was that the keg was overpressurized. Given that it is a fruit based beer, there’s a lot of fermentation going on, which means a lot of gas released. With it too tight, the gas couldn’t easily escape the keg and the keg was bulging and bent out of shape. Fortunately, it didn’t actually burst, but it was indeed pressurized, as I discovered when removing the lid and hearing the fizzzzzzz sound it made.

The beer was fine and I was able to bottle it easily enough, but the keg is damaged to the point where I really can’t use it any more. It also did some damage to the tap mechanism, which is not surprising considering the quality of the mechanism anyway.

I’ve changed my next club order to get a new keg, along with a 2 liter growler. The keg is only $10, so it’s not a big loss or anything, still, it is a bit annoying. I think I’ll keep using the Mr. Beer keg for smaller batches, but I’m definitely going to go buy a more sturdy fermenting vessel and make some larger batches as well. I’ll probably only continue to use the Mr. Beer for experimentation purposes, since I do find that an 8 liter batch is darn near perfect in terms of speed. You can have a decent beer made from start to finish in a month with that quantity, whereas the next bigger size (5 gallons) would take at least 3 months or so.

All in all, given the quality of the keg in such circumstances, and the non-dishwasher safeness of it, I can only recommend the Mr. Beer setup for a) people new to home-brewing and wanting to learn easily, and b) people wanting an easy way to quickly experiment with new brews and styles. The lack of a proper airlock with a ball valve (to prevent contamination) just makes the Mr. Beer keg suitable only for very short fermentation times. 2 weeks, maximum.

Just be sure not to overtighten the lid.

Brewing: Father’s Day Cream Ale

I bottled my latest brew the other day, a Cream Ale. Basically it’s a Canadian Draft mix with some Northern Brewer Hops. I also have a Vienna Lager maturing and which I plan to drink next weekend.

The only reason I’m posting about it is that after I was done bottling, I tried some of the yeasty flat leftovers at the bottom of the keg. By god, that stuff was delicious. It’s going to be a quality beer. I just hope I didn’t screw up the carbonation like I think I did. I keep waiting to hear a loud popping sound from one of the bottles exploding. Fortunately, I use a cooler for the storage, so it won’t hurt anything if it does blow.

My next brew is going to be a Dopplebock. I’ve already got the ingredients, I just need to make bottle room. It looks to be a hell of a beverage, with three different kinds of malt extracts, a whole ounce of hops (instead of 1/4 ounce as per usual), and my first attempt at using liquid yeast. It also takes 6 months to bottle condition, so I’ll have it around October or November. But it’ll be about 9.2% ABV, so at least it’ll have a good kick to it. )