Posts Tagged home brew

New Peculiar Bottle Day 2

Oh what difference the correct hardware makes!

When we bottled mustache cat, we were stuck with tubing that was too wide bore to fit on to either the auto siphon or the bottling wand, which meant a lot of flying by the seat of our pants.  Since then, I took a trip to Home Depot and found the right size tubing (yes, food grade tubing, it’s intended for ice makers).  And then…it’s like magic!  When you can get a vacuum seal everything works so much faster.

Oh, and when you remember to add your priming sugar and don’t have to empty all the bottles and starting over, it also works a hell of a lot better.

As for the beer itself?  Lazarus Ale is, to remind, a lemongrass ginger ale with a pound on honey thrown in to boot.  It smells strongly of ginger, which is not something that I’m used to beer smelling like.  I suspect it’ll be a fantastic beer to try the next time I do sushi.

I did take a sip of it, it’s just something that I do when I’m bottling a beer.  Yeah, the end product will never taste quite the same as that taste, but it can give an indication as to where the beer is heading.  The sip wasn’t very bitter at all.  The flavor…was interesting.  That’s the first word that both my wife and I used to describe it.  Interesting.  Which isn’t always the best of words.  But after that sip, after I thought about it, I wanted more.  I wanted a full bottle.

Patience.  August 1 is the earliest I’m going to put a bottle in the fridge.  I’ll have to bide my time with Mustache Cat until then.

So what’s next?  Well, there are two directions I’m thinking about going.  The first would be to attempt to recreate my greatest success from my Mr. Beer days, a boysenberry stout called Pie Stout.  But I’m also thinking about taking a break from beer and instead going for a hard cider.

On a side note, we got some wormwood today for the garden.  Wormwood is used for vermouth and absinthe, so I was curious if it was ever used for beer.  Well, I knew there were other ingredients used to bitter beer before hops became the primary go to.  Apparently wormwood was one of those.  Does that mean I’ll eventually brew with home grown wormwood?  Not necessarily.  But it’s tempting.

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State of the Writer: July 2011

I’m going to come right out and say it: the state of the writer is good.

On a writing front, I’ve got three stories out the door to anthologies and contests that had deadlines at the end of June, and plan two more submissions this coming week.  That will mark the first time I’ve ever had five stories out for consideration at once.  Hell, this marks the first time I’ve had three stories out for consideration at once.  Out the door already are Face of the Serpent, Beyond Light, and Vampires of Mars, and getting ready to head out the door are Sleep and Home Again.  I have high hopes that one of those will land in its current market, with a potential ceiling of three of them landing.

Yup, I’m getting all excited and optimistic, but I already wrote that post.

July is going to see a change of direction.  I’ve been working on short stories for awhile, and I’ve really enjoyed it.  But I’ve left Capsule languishing for far too long now, and it’s time to get back into it.  Especially since I’m already starting to world build my next novel, and I don’t want Capsule to get steamrolled and forgotten.  I like the story too much to let that happen.  So it’s going to be back to work on that, trying to keep a strong pace going.  Really, I’d love to have the first draft finished by no later than the end of August, and then it’ll be a process of figuring out what to do next.  That might be turning right around and editing Capsule, that might mean making another go at Conqueror Worm, or it might mean starting Nickajack.  Really, that’s going to be more a subject for September’s State of the Writer.  I hope.

It’s an exciting point in my push to be something more than just an amateur writer.  First short story is still due out soon-ish (though I’m honestly thinking July is unlikely, even if the anthology hasn’t officially said so), and so much more hopefully on the horizon.

State of the Writer’s Blog: June was a great month for readership.  I didn’t quite hit the record views of May, but I didn’t miss by much.  This was aided by the last day of June being the best single day for viewership since the relaunch of this blog back in December.  So yay!  Google Analytics also tells me that I collected my first views from six states this month: Hawaii, Idaho, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Ohio, and South Carolina.  That leaves 13 states that have never visited my blog: Alaska, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine.  I’m hoping to hit all 50 states before too much longer, so look for me to start pandering!  Woo!  Do you Dakotans know just how sexy and intelligent you are?

But seriously, I’m going to try to set my two July Fortnightcaps in states that have yet to show up, just to see if I can’t push viewership.

Update: Hello, Omaha!  That’s another state down.

State of the Writer’s Beer: We have now drunk 4 of the 24 bottles of Mustache Cat, and it’s getting better with each bottle.  A few more weeks, and I’ll be glad to share some.  The bitterness that it had when brand new is mellowing out nicely, and there’s a very strong strawberry aroma and aftertaste.  This weekend it’s going to be bottling time for Lazarus Ale, which I’m going to try and have the self discipline to not crack a bottle of until August.  Next batch is still being planned, but I may take a week or three just to give us time to catch up on the drinking process, because this is becoming a lot of beer.

So.  We’ve passed the solstice, the days are getting shorter but no cooler, what better time of year to avoid the outside, and instead write?

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Beer of the Living Dead

First batch of beer I did fermented like crazy.  That’s what happens when you take all the sugar already in a beer kit and add in six pounds of strawberries for flavor: yeast go insane.  The end result was a blowout, which means the fermentation was going on so hot and heavy that yeast backed up into the airlock.  Some serious crazy fermentation, but made for a nice drinkable beer with a strawberry aftertaste that’s only getting better with age.

The new batch?  No so much.  I was concerned about the yeast before I started.  The cold pack meant to keep it at refrigerator temperatures had melted by the time the kit was delivered, and the whole box sat on my porch on a 90 degree day for several hours waiting for me to get home from work.  But I followed the directions, put the yeast in, and hoped for the best.  That was Saturday.  Sunday?  Nothing.  Monday?  Still nothing.  Tuesday?  Still nothing.  Now I’d read online that fermentation can take several days to start, and may not show up in the airlock at first, but lacking a hydrometer, the airlock is the only proof of fermentation I have available to me.

So I started to worry.  It’s an easy solution, non-fermenting beer, just add in another dose of yeast.  But there are some things that could kill any yeast added, and I was worried I’d killed my beer.  On Wednesday, however, the beer finally came to life and the airlock is now happily bubbling away, letting out all the yeast farts so that my wort can become beer.  It’s back from the dead, and as such, I think needs a new name.  Originally it was going to be called Space Ale, but now it needs some acknowledgement of the fact that it went down that path, saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and at the last moment came back.  So, a poll:

Happy drinking!

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Mustache Cat: Bottling Day

Adventures abounded during the bottling of the first batch of DL’s New Peculiar.  While doing all my santization, I re-read the instructions and saw that it was recommended to turn the priming sugar into a priming syrup, so the process got put on hold while I did some quick boiling and cooling.  During that time, I started working on sanitizing all my tubing, just to discover the bottling wand (a fantastic device that makes it a lot easier to fill a bottle to the correct level) and the tubing didn’t form a seal.

Look, I’m not saying I did the right thing.  I used duct tape.  Going forward I’m going to seek out a solution that doesn’t involve having to dunk duct tape into every bottle of beer I’m filling, but for yesterday it worked.  I got the solution in place, and started bottling.  Had a good thing going.  I was filling bottles, wife was capping them.  We were through about 18 of 24 22-ounce bottles we were filling when I suddenly remembered the priming sugar.  Sitting upstairs in the fridge.

What choice did I have?  We popped all 18 bottles and dumped them back into the bottling bucket along with the priming syrup.  This syrup provides just a little more sugar for the yeast to feast upon and provide some carbonation for the beer.  So I was damn close to bottling a full 5 gallons of really flat beer.  Redoing the bottling then resulted in my tubing clogging up with strawberry chunks twice.  Whole lot of not fun, but at least when everything got cleared out we had a good system in place.

It’s all in bottle now, priming and conditioning.  Few more weeks until I actually get to have any, but had a quick taste of the natal beer going into the bottles, and it wasn’t bad.  So here’s hoping for a good batch.

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State of the Writer: May 2011

Hey, look at that.  It’s a new month, so it’s another chance for me to unbutton a shirt button to allow for optimal naval gazing.  April was an oddly productive month for me, which is largely to say that I was productive in odd directions.  The primary project of the month has been working on updates for my Lucha Libre story, something that’s turned into a pure joy to write and work on in a way few other stories have.  Almost a shame it’s so short, but there’s really nothing else I can do with it.  Going into May, that story is still going to get much of my focus because even though it’s not due until July 1, I’ve got a personal deadline of May 12 set.

In other projects, Future Lovecraft has just opened up, and yes, that’s the story I was talking about in my previous post.  I have a concept that I like, I just can’t quite crack the blank page to really get a start that I like.  Perhaps because I’ve got a few other stories running around my brain that are insisting on being told one-by-one.  These are the Steam Worlds.  These are the stories that came from my curiosity with the way that the Victorians imagined the earth and the cosmos working.  One already existed, then four more titles came about in the course of about an hour.  By the end, these stories will head to Mars, Venus, Phaeton, the Moon, and even inner Earth.  Right now they exist in the following formats:

  • Mars: Submitted to an anthology, still waiting to hear back (anxious, anxious)
  • Venus: Plot noodled.  I’m loving the plot I’m coming up with, which will include elements of Chernobyl, UrbEx, and 1940s air pollution disasters.  And robots.
  • Phaeton: Title with a vague X meets Y notion.  Least developed of the five.
  • The Moon: Change of title, change of focus, and suddenly there’s a story to be told here.
  • Inner Earth: This one depresses me a little.  Possibly the most ambitious theme and concept of the set.

I don’t know what will ultimately end up happening to them.  Mars, being in current circulation, could really help the others get told and sold.  Perhaps one day when several are sold and some rights revert they might merge together and be my first short story collection.  For now, I’ll search for homes where I can find them without worrying about continuity between them.  They don’t share characters, and don’t really share a timeline, they just exist in similar worlds.

Been reading too much Save the Cat.  Has me wanting to write another screenplay.  A proper one.  Maybe one that I could put up on Amazon Studio.  More on that if it actually starts happening.  Also been thinking about a certain xenophobe and his Serbian mentor.

State of the writer’s beer: Mustache Cat fermentation has slowed.  Bottling could happen this weekend, is more likely to happen next weekend.  Might be able to crack a bottle in time for June.  Looking at my options for batch two, considering a Ginger/Lemon/Honey Ale offered by Austin Homebrew.

It’s going to be a three Fortnightcap month.  First one will be up tomorrow, probably in the form of a new article.

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DL’s New Peculiar: Mustache Cat

It’s been a long time since I’ve made home brew.  Far too long.  I first got into the hobby back in my old apartment when the Mr. Beer kit went for sale over at Woot.  I watched it most of the day, staring at that little “I Want One” button trying to decide if I did or not.  Brewing is something that has always fascinated me, and while I’m not a huge fan of beer in general, I have never had a home brew I didn’t like (at least up til that point, more later).  Just after noon the button started bouncing, the kits were selling out, so I clicked through fast and a few weeks later I was in possession of a little brown jug a can of malted extract, and instructions for how to make my first beer of my very own.

This is going to be a long one, so I’m going to put in a break here.  More after.

Read the rest of this entry »

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