Saturday, June 26, 2010

First Batch

Because I am a patient man, I waited a full eight hours before starting to make my first batch of home brew. Turns out that brewing - with all the sanitizing, boiling, steeping, and cooling - can be a little time consuming.

Lesson one: Starting the process at 8pm on Sunday night is not advisable for those who have to wake up and go to work the next day.

The first batch is an IPA and almost everything went according to plan. Brand spanking new equipment cleaned and sanitized, ingredients at the ready and with recipe in hand I set off to make my very first home brew!

First the steep:

Once the steep of the base grains was complete it was time to remove the mash and add the dry malt over low heat to avoid scorching.

Then for the favoring hops. Sure, it has a striking resemblance to gerbil food but this stuff has a unique and potent aroma. It also gives IPAs their distinctive flavor.

As the boil draws to an end it's time for the addition of a finishing hops and a "quick" cool down of the wort.

Apparently there's a couple of ways to do this and I chose the method known as the "kitchen sink ice bath" method. Little did I know it's probably the least efficient way to chill the brew.

Essentially, you need to chill the liquid from boiling to under 80 degrees as quickly as possible before pitching the yeast. This requires a great deal of heat transfer... and lots of ice. I did not have lots of ice. And here lies the problem.

I dumped every ice cube and freezer pack I could find at it. I even dropped a frozen bottle of vodka into the ice bath! At three o'clock in the morning and the wort had still not gotten down under 80 degrees. I gave up and pitched the yeast at about 82 degrees.

My starting gravity was 1.050 with a potential alcohol of 6.5%.

After about 3 days it was time to transfer from the primary fermentation to the secondary. This requires more sanitizing and some careful siphoning to leave behind the trub, or sediment. And then... More hops!

Once the beer is in the secondary fermentation it's just a waiting game. Watching for bubbles in the air lock and periodically checking the gravity.

And this is where we're still waiting. Bubble... Bubble... Bubble...

Once the secondary fermentation is complete I'll add some additional sugars to start the carbonation, bottle, and wait about two weeks before cracking open my very first cold one.

Can hardly wait!

"He that can have patience can have what he will."
-Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Loved and Appreciated

If ever there was any doubt, it's been obliterated! It is undeniable that this father is loved and appreciated. How else can one explain an inspired gift such as this... Behold the embodiment of true love!

You might be asking yourself, 'what is this collection of peculiar instruments?'... It's a Home Brew Kit, I tell you! She's done it again. Sheer genius!!

"A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it's better to be thoroughly sure."
-- Czech Proverb

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Great to be a Dad

Just a few reasons it's great to be a Dad...
  1. Crazy dancing
  2. Running races in the backyard
  3. Tickling to hysterics
  4. When he takes off his Crocs and shouts "stinky piggies!"
  5. Watching Toy Story together
  6. When he tells me to "have a nice day, daddy"
  7. High fives
  8. Watching him sleep
  9. Putting away all our toys at the end of the day
  10. When he picks me (instead of Mom) to read a bedtime story
"Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them."
Dr. Seuss

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Grapevine Triathlon

Thanks to a friend and colleague, I was made aware the Grapevine Triathlon, a local sprint distance triathlon, that takes place just outside of Dallas. The event was held on June 5th and wouldn't you know it... I did it.

The race was a 300 yard pool swim, 20 kilometer bike, and 6 kilometer run. The distances are a little odd, and I've never done a triathlon in a pool, but hey, a race is a race!

The athletes started the swim one at a time, in 20 second intervals. Unfortunately, I severely overestimated my swim time and was lined up in the back of the starting queue with slower swimmers. I passed the guy ahead of me before I'd swam the first length. I think I passed 6 or 7 people in just 300 yards.

Once I got on the bike, I hammered away at the rolling hills of the bike course, hitting over 30 miles per hour at times and averaging 19.4 mph for the 20k. I must have passed another half dozen by the time I rolled into T2.

Then the Texas heat (and mediocre training regimen) began to take it's toll... It must have been well into the mid-80s and humid! Knowing I'd not trained as fully as I should have for this race, I eased into the run and settled into what felt like a modest pace. After the first quarter mile I got my legs back but chose to be conservative given the heat.

As the finish line approached I realized I could have (and should have) pushed a little harder through the run. Turns out I was only running a 9:18 pace. No wonder I felt so good out there.

Alas, I was in excellent form for the after party... a wine, beer, and BBQ fueled post-race party on the grounds of the Cross Timbers Winery. Great stuff!

All told, it was a great little race, well managed, good support, and a great after-party. I finished in 1:22:21 which was good enough for 29th place (out of ~150) and just shy of an age group podium placement.

Next year it's mine!

"Time is the longest distance between two places." -Tennessee Williams

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Since so much in my life has changed of late I figured it high time for my blog to follow suit. So, new look, new feel. Heck, maybe I’ll even post some new content from time to time. Stick around, stranger things have happened.

"All is change; all yields its place and goes."