Homebrew Blogging Day

I’m trying to stay involved, so here’s my entry for Home Brew Blogging Day

When I went away to college in 1997, I lived in the dorms on a floor with a lot of other dudes. Their ages varied, but most were right out of high school. One guy had a significant bit of age on him, despite only being 4 years older. He and I became friends due to a number of common interests, one of which was good beer. He preferred the darker beers and preferred the bitters, but we both appreciated the other’s taste.

One day I walked in to the dorm kitchen to find him steeping something that smelled wonderful. He was doing a partial mash home brew – something that both piqued my interest in DIY and was scandalous at the same time. I was still a minor, but I couldn’t get in trouble for brewing it since it hadn’t yet fermented.

I helped him brew a few more times over the next 2 years – mostly off site since he got tired of living with teenagers. Most of the beers turned out passable, some were downright wretched. We bottled in to Grolsch bottles and those little 5 liter party kegs. The problem with the party kegs was that you had to drink them all at once or the ambient air you used to pump the beverage would oxidize the beer. One such beer left us all with wicked hangovers even though none of us had more than maybe 2 pints. He finished school 2 years ahead of me and we’ve kept in touch a little since. Still, he’s my patron saint of brewing.

For my 22nd birthday, my girlfriend (now wife), got me a home brew starter kit of my own. I was living with 5 other guys in a house off campus. I brewed a first batch around the horrible mess of a kitchen, and wasn’t shocked when the first beer came out infected. We used it for bratwurst, but only managed to drink maybe a dozen bottles. The second batch, a stout, was entirely drinkable, but not fantastic. Brewing in a kitchen used by 5 other guys, most of whom were slobs, posed a real challenge to sanitation. I’d spend 1-2 hours cleaning the bathtub and kitchen, start brewing, and about halfway through the boil, people would all get back from class and start making meals. I managed to produce some decent beer, and I had plenty of access to free bottles, but it wasn’t until I was home for summer that I brewed my first great beer. It’s amazing sanitization does for beer.

This year marks roughly my 10th year home brewing, and I’ve probably done 50-60 batches. Each year brings some new techniques and better beers (when I remember to rack them).

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Pouring one out

I’m rather ashamed to write this, but yesterday I finally poured out a carboy of brown ale that I brewed on MLK Jr. Day (Jan 21st) that has been sitting in primary fermentation for 4 months. It was neglected because I’ve been busy with grad school, work, family, and projects around the house. Additionally, I never really wanted a brown ale, but the style is a favorite among my family.

Anyway, the dirty, dusty carboy was finally accessible again, and since I have no kegs to transfer it to, so I decided that it would be best to just cut my loss and move on. Out of curiosity, I managed to sip from the pour like you would from a garden hose, and I’m sad to report it wasn’t bad.

Now I must resolve to not brew again until I have the time to treat the beer appropriately. I also need to brew soon, since it’s beer season. Well, one of the beer seasons.

Cold Activation Bottles

While there’s some cleverness to Coor’s new Cold Activation bottle labels, there’s something that’s also easy to make fun of. I’m not the biggest fan of Coors -> Molson-Coors -> SABMiller-Molson-Coors, so I like to make fun of them both in real life and on the internets.

The technology is nothing new. No fancy paint or chemistry. The logo on the bottle is actually covered with human taste buds. I’m not sure how they justify this with the anti-stem cell crowd, but sometimes the simplest technologies work best. Here’s how it works:

  1. The taste bud cells are white when they’re not too cold, and can otherwise taste things
  2. When the temperature drops below the tastebud’s ability to taste (when they get numb), the they change blue
  3. Viola! Your taste buds won’t notice any flavor either!

How do they get the human taste buds? The harvesting operation is quite simple. All employees have to go to the lagering tanks and stick their tongues on the pipe used for cold filtering. Since its so cold, everyone’s tongue sticks. As the employees struggle to free their tongues, a few of the taste buds are left behind. After each shift, someone from the bottling room comes through with a scraper and collects the cells for impregnating in the labels.

Have you tried saying “Activator” with your tongue stuck to a cold-filtration pipe? It sounds funny.

Deschutes, Portland, The?

Dining at Deschutes in Portland

On Dave at BS’s advice, Michelle, my sister, parents and daughter met for dinner at the new Deschutes Brew Pub in the Pearl District. Parking was a little rough since it was both a) the Pearl and b) First Thursday. Still, we parked near Powell’s technical books and enjoyed the 3 block stroll – not bad at all.

Then new place is surprisingly big. I suppose it has to be for the location, and it was obvious they were in pre-flight mode. Everyone on the staff was incredibly nice and attentive, and they all seemed to know both what beers they were serving and enough information about them to make suggestions.
my six choices
The beers were terrific. I picked out the 6 piece sampler:

  1. St. Tanneth
  2. Rootin Tootin Low Gluten Ale
  3. Cask Bachelor Bitter
  4. Hop Henge
  5. Mirror Mirror Barleywine
  6. Nitro poured Obsidian Stout

The Rootin Tootin tasted like rye bread – it was really kind of a trip. The golden color and lack of any head made me think I was getting in to an adjunct beer, and the almost nonexistent but sweet aroma didn’t prepare me for the shock of a mouth full of sharp rye. The beer is made of sorghum, but the flavor was uncanny. Really worth trying, but again, I’m glad I don’t have celiac-sprew.

The menu looks fantastic, but our dinner ranged between ok to good, so they’ve got a few kinks to work out. Mine was interrupted by Ella, so she and I stepped out to let everyone else eat. I’m not sure how everyone else’s meal was, but I’m definitely withholding judgment for a few visits. The rest of the visit was certainly worth doing again.