Hot Glass, Cold Brew

Tonight I participated in my first Escambia Bay Homebrew Club activity; a fund raiser for The Belmont Arts and Cultural Center. Tonight they had their “Hot Glass, Cold Brew” which featured blown glass demos, auctions of hand crafted glass items, live music and of course complementary beer provided by the Homebrew club. I know for fact I’ve never served so many glasses of beer. We had 13 items listed:

  1. Belmont Pale Ale
  2. Light Lager
  3. Jim’s Root Beer
  4. Jim’s Honey Ale
  5. Jim’s Blueberry Wine
  6. Rick & Butch Tornado Watch IPA (between 8% and 9% ABV)
  7. Dusty’s Red
  8. P&B Pale Ale
  9. P&B Wheat
  10. Ron’s Rum Punch
  11. Scott’s Cherry Wheat
  12. Laura’s Dry Cider
  13. Laura’s Blueberry Cider

This was a fun event for me, not only did I find out about the Belmont Art & Culture Center but I also got to meet other club members. The BACC looks like a pretty cool organization.

My Austin Homebrew 20th Anniversary All Grain Irish Red & Stout kits arrived today.

AHS 20th Anniversary Irish Red & Stout All Grain Kits

A few days ago I ordered my next two beers from Austin Homebrew Supply which shipped without much delay and arrived today, well within their promised delivery period.  So far all my experiences with AHS have been great and I recommend them to anyone looking for good deals on Homebrew supplies.

Currently they are running a special, to celebrate their 20th Anniversary, with a wide choice of 20 beer kits for just $20 each, yeast is extra of course. Each kit gives you an option of Extract, mini-mash and all grain to fit your brewing style preference. These kits were not designed as cheap products made with low production cost and high sales in mind.

These are not inferior kits. These kits are being sold below cost with an option for free shipping. The only shortcut is the price. Order soon before they are gone.
-Forrest ( Forums)

Sure, I know the argument that if you put your own recipe together, it costs less- and it does. If you buy all your grain in bulk and culture your own yeast bank, grow your own hops (or find really good prices) you can get your beer cost down to less than $0.25 per 12 oz serving. The AHS kits come in to about $0.44 per 12 oz serving. That still isn’t bad at all when you consider that they have 20 years of experience putting together award-winning beer recipes so the recipe will produce good beer- the homebrewer is the one at this point who’s going to make or break it. Also, if you are starting out or have limited space for storage, it just makes sense to spend a little more and get the beer kit that fits your needs.

The plan:
This weekend I will be brewing my beers. My goal is to brew them back to back, finally using the all grain equipment I have collected over the past few months. I plan to post my progress as I go, so come one back later for the updates.

Friday is show and tell


Last night on the way to pick up Alex from school, Ally noticed the reflectors on the road and asked, “Daddy, why are there lights on the road?” Pretty much the rest of the drive to the college was spent talking about reflectors and how they bounce light back towards the source of the light, causing them to appear as though they were a light source.Every Friday at Ally’s pre-school they have show and tell, all themed about a letter of the week. This week was the letter “R” and I figured it would be a perfect for Ally to discuss what she just learned about for show and tell.

When we got home, I dug out my reflective tape and some foam board. I airbrushed the board black and cut out the word ‘Reflective’ from the reflective tape. I placed the letters on the board and gave everything a nice coat of clear coat from a rattle can.

Ally with sign
Ally with sign

In the morning, we dropped Ally off at school with her sign and a bright flashlight to show off her new knowledge of a new word. 

When we picked her up from school, the teacher raved about her show and tell. He was very excited about it, because not only did he get to teach his kids a new word, but it was also a very visual example too.

@Sprint update – Still no 4G but feeling a little better

Last month after contacting Sprint via their online chat, I agreed to have a Sprint representative call me back. Unfortunately, I was busy when someone from Sprint called back and I missed the call. Finally a few days ago, I found a chance to call Sprint back to discuss my dissatisfaction about being lied to in regards to my local 4G coverage.

This time, instead of talking to someone who seemed to only want to tell the customer whatever they wanted to hear, even if it was a blatant lie, I spoke to Janine T., who’s honesty was refreshing.  Not only did she have an incredibly sexy British accent, she took the time to find a resolution that was acceptable.

So, while I may not have 4G coverage yet and I find myself hoping to have it soon, I am feeling better about the situation. I’m not trying to justify a move to AT&T or Verizon, which after early termination fees and having to buy new phones again would have been upwards of $800.

1 Month Old Apfelwein

After slightly over a month of fermentation in the primary carboy, I’ve racked my wild yeast Apfelwein to the secondary carboy.  It already has a brilliant clarity, so I’ll really be surprised if I find much of any sediment at all in the secondary fermenter.

Since I started this batch, I bought myself a refractometer so that I can more precisely measure the sugar levels of my brews. I saved a bit of money by getting one that only measures in brix, but that’s alright.  There’s plenty of calculators around to easily convert to specific gravity. Specific gravity is the measurement of solids in water, in this case we measure sugars which are fermented into alcohol by our yeast.  The original gravity of the Apfelwein was measured with a hydrometer and measured in at 1.055 SG.  Tonight, measuring it with the refractometer, it measured at 6° brix. The total alcohol by volume is at 4.2%.  Since this is the first time I’m using this yeast, I’m not sure if it is done fermenting, though I’m pretty sure it is.  I’ll know for sure if when I take my next reading, the specific gravity has not changed.

This is a wild yeast after all and I know nothing about it’s performance. It is highly possible that using it over time, it may mutate into a yeast strain that is more alcohol tolerant and can produce higher alcohol concentrations. We’ll see.  This yeast produces a lot of fruity notes, so I’m very curios as to how things will turn out with it. Since I plan on reusing this yeast a few times to see how later generations perform, I’ve saved the yeast so that I can wash it and have it ready for my next batch. Yeast washing is a process of separating good, viable yeast from the sediments that are created during the fermentation process. I think that for my next few batches of beer, mead and cider, I’ll plan on making an extra gallon of must or wort to ferment with this yeast.  Those should be fun experiments.

So, what about the Apfelwein that I originally started writing about?  How does it taste, etc.? Taking in mind that this is still a very young apfelwein and most apfelweins don’t come onto their own for several months, this isn’t too bad.  It’s a bit sweet, since roughly half the sugars were fermented out and it’s a lower alcohol concentration than I was hoping for. It is fruity, and not just as in apples. If you’ve ever had Welch’s White Grape Peach Juice, that is what I’m tasting here. I find it very interesting, considering this is fermented apple juice after all.

I think it’s time to leave this youngster alone for at least a few more months before I test it again. I’ve been told at 4 months apfelweins become drinkable and at a year, they just start to come into their own characters.  We’ll see what time has in store for this youngin!

New Orleans vs. FHA

This was sent to me by email, and though I’ve made no effort to verify if any of the story below is true, I can see it happening and would not be surprised at all if this were true.


Rebuilding New Orleans caused residents often to be challenged with the task of tracing home titles back potentially hundreds of years. With a community rich with history stretching back over two centuries, houses have been passed along through generations of family, sometimes making it quite difficult to establish ownership.  A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the lawyer three months to track down. After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply from the FHA:

“Upon review of your letter adjoining your client’s loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin.”

Annoyed, the lawyer responded:
“Your letter regarding title in Case No.189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 206 years covered by the present application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased by the United States from France, in 1803 the year of origin identified in our application.
For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France , which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain . The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Queen Isabella.
The good Queen Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus’s expedition…Now the Pope, as I’m sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana. God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it, and the FHA. I hope you find God’s original claim to be satisfactory. Now, may we have our loan?”

The loan was immediately approved.