Posts Tagged Mustache Cat

Brewing with Strawberries and Apples

Remember Mustache Cat? If you go digging through the blog archives you’ll see it first show up in April 2011, when I brewed up a combination of Canadian Blonde ale and a lot of strawberries. Six pounds of strawberries, to be precise. It was my first try at full-sized brewing, and it tasted like someone’s first time brewing. Not a bad beer, per say, but what my wife and I kept calling a very “sharp” beer. A little more bitter than either of us liked. A little more alcoholic sting. No real strawberry flavor.

Funny thing happened the other day. I found a few bottles of Mustache Cat hanging out in the basement, and as we were looking to create some empty bottles for the batch I’m about to talk about, we stuck them in the fridge to give them a try. The resulting beer was smooth with a very pronounced strawberry flavor, both on the front end and in the aftertaste. Like some slow working magic trick, it took only two years for a beer we weren’t all that fond of to turn into a fantastic strawberry ale. This is the kind of funny patience that’s necessary for home brewing. I’ve heard people say no stout should be touched for six months, and even then it should still be thought of as immature. Meads, which I hope to get into one day, take years to even approach complete. Part of the fun of home brewing is finding that old bottle from the less than stellar batch and discovering a decent beer inside.

So, yeah, Mustache Cat rocks.

We were emptying bottles, however, ahead of another batch I brewed based on an Austin Homebrew recipe called “Apple Peeler.” Most of the beer I make is through a process called a “partial boil.” This means I don’t boil all the water that goes into the fermenter, instead only boiling about two gallons. This is then topped off with water until there’s about 5.25 gallons (20 liters, actually). Apple Peeler was different. Oh, there were the normal steps of steeping the grains, adding the sugars, bittering with the hops, but when the partial boil went from the pot to the fermenter, it wasn’t topped off with water.

It was topped off with apple juice.

There’s a subtle brilliance to this change. More so if you, like me, are a fan of a pub cocktail called a Snakebite. In its simplest form, a Snakebite is a shandy that mixes equal parts beer with non-alcoholic cider. Or, even better, alcoholic cider. It’s refreshing, and in the shandy form makes a fantastic drink with a pub brunch. This recipe struck me as a pre-made Snakebite, so I couldn’t resist. It’s fermenting in the basement now, and will bottle sometime in July. Hopefully it’ll be ready for a taste before the summer is over, as this strikes me as a late summer, early fall type of beer. If not, it can always wait until next summer and get all the tastier in the process.

Tasting some of the wort, an odd habit of mine, it was more bitter than I expected, and I’m already prepared to dial back the hops if I try the recipe again. It’s fun to have a few go to recipes to double back on, tweak a little, and turn into better and better beer.

I’ll also need a name. Apple Peeler isn’t a bad name, but what fun is it to use the pre-assigned name? I’m thinking just Fall Ale as an allusion not just to the season but the Fall of Man, which feels like a required reference with the combination of apples and snakes. What’s up with all my Biblical beers?

I look forward on reporting the flavor.

,

No Comments

State of the Writer: November 2011

After an interminable summer, October absolutely sped past.  Anticipation of Capclave and Flashathon likely spurred much of that.  Looking back, both feel like they were more than a few weeks ago.  Someone needs to harness time’s ability to speed past while being experienced but dilate when being remembered and turn that into a viable method of time travel.

October turned into a great month of micro-production.  The week of the 22-28th alone I wrote 15 bits of flash fiction, something I wasn’t entirely sure was possible.  At least four of those are stories that I can get longer, or at least better polished, pieces out of.  I call this an absolute victory.  I’ll probably take some time in November to sort them out, and give them a more prominent place within my flash fiction Scrivener database.

The month opened with me working on one novel project, ripping apart the tangled novels Capsule and Post Apocalypse, and ended with me ramping up another.  I talked about that yesterday in my Nanowrimo Eve post, so I’m not going to rehash that here.  I hadn’t thought about it while writing it, but that really ended up scooping a lot of my typical State of the Writer post.  Half an hour a day working with my wife on the project, probably another half hour translating that into Scrivener, and poking around the flash pieces I want to turn into short stories.  Sounds like pretty good goals for the month.

October also delivered to my email a proof version of one short story and an edited version of another.  So anthologies are moving full steam ahead.

I want to get meta for a moment and say I like these State of the Writer posts.  The same writers’ group discussion that gave rise to Friday’s post about mission statements as writers drove home the need to keep abreast of what you are doing, and what you want to do.  That’s what this series is about, a monthly chance to really look at what I did the month before, what I’m hoping to do next month, and what direction I’m moving with my writing.  They’re a way of keeping me focused, and they’re a way of keeping me honest, since I’m putting them out there for all to see.  Or all who care to see, at least.

So the state of the writer?  Anticipatory.  I’m getting back into novel production.  I’m starting a project I’ve been churning for several months.  And I’m seeing if I can work a novel and short stories at the same time.  Should be an interesting month.

State of the Writer’s Blog: Anyone who has been following these State of the Writer posts knows I’m trying to collect views from all 50 states.  The numbers are dwindling.  At the end of September, I only had North Dakota, Arkansas, and Delaware left to collect.  This month saw the first visit from Arkansas, leaving just two.  I’m hoping to wrap up all 50 by the end of the year.  That’s just one a month.  That’s not so hard, right?  October was also the 4th straight month of blog viewership growth, fueled largely by Flashathon.

State of the Writer’s Beer: Still working through a backlog of suds before I get the next batch going.  Might brew at some point this month.  Pulled out bottles of both batches for the Flashathon crowd.  Mustache Cat got generally positive reviews, Lazarus Ale was more of a specific taste.  Responses ranged from hatred to asking for seconds.

So join me as we move into another month.  Tomorrow, it’ll be another trip to A Writer Reviews focusing on, of all things, apples.  Bonus points to anyone who can guess which two television shows that’ll cover.

, , ,

No Comments

State of the Writer: August 2011

July was a month of submission, waiting, and maintenance.  It wasn’t nearly as productive as June, but that’s to be expected.  June was about setting myself up in a position where I could have five submissions out, and July was the month they were out.  So far those submissions have resulted in a short listing, a rejection, and three I’m still waiting to hear back on.  The short list thrilled me, I thought it was probably the strongest of the five submissions, and the rejection didn’t surprise me, as it was the weakest.  I’m wrapping up a huge reedit of that story, and looking for another good market for it.

July also saw me put a few new projects together.  My wife and I are in the initial stages of noodling out what we’re hoping will end up as a trilogy of steampunk novels based in 1870s America.  In fact, my last writerly activity for the month of July, completed around 10:30 last night, was assembling an alternate map of the American south to use as the main setting for the first novel.  There’s a big unfamiliar state sitting in the middle of the south that I’m going to have to get used to staring at.  Step one is to stop thinking of the capital city as Huntsville, Alabama.

But that’s a future novel project.  July also ended with me getting slowly back into the right frame of mind for Capsule.  My optimistic goal is to finish the first draft of it in August.  My realistic goal is September.  Either way, it’s a story I’ve been talking about returning to almost since the day I stepped away from it, and with several short stories making the rounds, this feels like the right time to finally do so.  And I’m excited.  I remember the last scene, know the next scene, and have a clear path through to the end of Act Two in what should be a nice three act structure.

State of the Writer’s Beer:  Mustache Cat gets better and better with every bottle, but there’s a clear upper limit.  It’s crisp, a little more bitter than I’d like, but certainly drinkable with a nice strawberry finish.  And that’s really about as good as I expect it to get.  We have started sharing, so we’re about halfway through drinking the batch.  Tonight the first bottles of Lazarus Ale go into the fridge, so we’ll be drinking lemongrass ginger ale next weekend.  I’ll not be started a new batch until a significant amount of the current beer is gone.  Good target will be having enough empties to bottle the next batch without buying more.

State of the Writer’s Blog:  July saw this site have it’s biggest day, week, and month since relaunching.  I don’t normally talk about actually numbers, but I’ll pull back the curtain and show how low they are.  The big day was the 28th with 22 visits, the first time the blog has topped 20 visits in a single day.  That lead to the week of the 24-30 seeing 73 hits.  Month total just passed 200 for the first time.  Yeah, there are blogs out there where my monthly totals would be a lightly traveled day, but things are growing around here, which excites me.

My quest to collect visits from all 50 states has now reached 40, with first time visits from Wyoming, Nebraska, and Maine during the month of July.  That just leaves Alaska, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Louisiana, Vermont, Rhode Island and Delaware to go.

Coming this week:  Speaking of best month ever, I made a promise in Twitter that I’d do a bonus Fortnightcap today if the site hit record monthly views.  I don’t think anyone actually saw that promise, but I’ll still follow through.  Also, look out tomorrow for the first details of the #flashathon that I will be hosting in conjunction with Unleaded Fuel for Writers in October.  Well, the first details other than “cohosted with Unleaded” and “October” that is.  It’s an event that I’m excited about.

Edit of the Writer:  Seems every time I do a State of the Writer, I end up doing an edit to it.  Just got in my email the cover for Steam Works.  Still needs all the text on it, so I’m probably not supposed to share it yet.  But there is a cover.  And the anthology is still happening.

, ,

No Comments

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?

, , , , , , ,

No Comments

State of the Writer: June 2011

I got an email last night from Hydra Publications, the house putting out the Steam Works anthology that’ll mark my first actual publication, asking for an Author Bio.  There’s nothing I find more daunting to write, especially early in my career when I can’t easily pad it out with other publications.  That also means that the anthology is still moving forward, and they are still looking for a July publication.  As always, I will keep people in the loop with what I know right here.

So that was a positive note to end a rather positive month.  The month also saw me get rejected from Mammoth Book of Steampunk, but turning the story right around and sending it back out the door.  I got my story done and sent off for Bad-Ass Faeries 4.  Both stories were sent off for June 30th deadline competitions, so there won’t be any news on them until, hopefully, sometime in July.  Also with a June 30th deadline is Future Lovecraft, and I’m up to my elbows in that story.  It’s not turning out to be the smoothest write, but I’m hoping to clean it up a lot, and quickly, in editing.

Had another anthology come across my desk after getting followed by its Twitter account.  It’s called The Memory Eater, and I would pass along more details, but its website looks to be down this morning.  Deadline is July 15th, I remember that much.

Successfully completed two Fortnightcaps, and entered #5MinuteFiction every week this month.  Yay for keeping my brain rotating.

State of the Writer’s Beer: The first bottles of Mustache Cat went into the fridge, and the first has now come out again.  It was a little more bitter than I expected, and the yeast is still in solution, yielding a slight bready flavor, but that’s also Vitamin B.  Strawberry flavor is undeniable, and hopefully everything will mellow out some more with time.  Sat in on a home brew panel at Balticon, and it’s great to see the overlap between brewing and writing.  It’s all about creation, I guess.

Next batch is supposed to arrive at my door step today.  It’s a Lemongrass Ginger Ale that I’ve taken to calling “Space Ale” as whenever I say the name out loud I’ve been saying “Ginger Space Ale” to distinguish it from a non-alcoholic ginger ale (which, yes, also has a space in it, but the point gets across).

, , , , , , ,

1 Comment

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.

, ,

No Comments

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.

, , , , , , ,

No Comments

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 »

, , , , , ,

2 Comments

%d bloggers like this: