Saturday, January 12, 2013

Making a hybrid ipa

      Today is incredible it is January 12th and as a native Pennsylvanian im outside making beer, its usually a lot colder at this time of the year. What an awesome way to spend the weekend. Its a little over 50f right now and its the perfect weather for beer making. There is a fog that has been hanging around all morning but as the day wears on the sunlight is slowly creeping in. On to the beer.......I want to thank my family from my wife Katie's side who all helped contribute the new equipment that I used today. It makes making the beer so much easier, and because its a little easier, even more fun. The two new pots and propane burner makes doing the boils faster and these pots will let me do 5 or 10 gallon batches.
I adapted my recipe from a pale ale recipe that I found on the internet that used hops with a much lower Alpha Acid levels. Not really sure what to call this beer yet, but I decided it would be good to balance the floral and bitter flavours of the hops with the steel cut oats they should add a delicious body to this strange ipa hybrid, without contributing too much to the final ABV. I ended up using 1.25oz of Kent Golding hops 7.2%aa and 1 oz. of Simcoe Hops, which have a hearty Alpha level at 13.2%aa. Im very interested to see how the combination of the english with a decidedly american hybrid hop strain. The simcoe hop has become one of my absolute favorite hops it has such an amazing flavor profile. I posted pictures of my kegerator setup, including a picture of a pour of my first draft beer, as well as pictures taken during the various steps of the brew process (from the initial mash step to the boil).

The steel cut oats are in the metal bowl in the bottom left.

Just started the mash

The boil 

     To start (this is after all my equipment was cleaned and sanitized),I mashed the 2lbs vienna malt and 1lb of Crystal 10l malt with the steel cut oats for one hour. Initially heated the 2gallons of water to 160f and then stirred in the grain somewhat more than 4lbs of grain. I pulled that pot out and then began heating up 2 gallons of water for the sparge/lauter step. Since I was doing this outside I would have to switch the mash pot back onto the burner every so often to make sure that the grains stayed around 155f while they were mashing, as long as its between say 145f-160f its fine. This temperature is perfect for getting out the sugars and other flavor contributions from the grain without being so hot that it begins to break down the cell walls of the grain and let out harsh flavors. Generally, when doing a partial mash infusion one only mashes the specialty grains for 30-45mins. But because i was also mashing the Vienna malt I wanted to mash for a full hour to make sure the extra sugar is extracted from the Vienna malt. And I assume that the extra time wont do much to harm the specialty grains. The Sparge/lauter step rinses the sugars of the grains. What I do is place a large stainless mesh colander over the sparge pot and slowly pour the mash through the colander, the colander collects all the grains and then i lift the colander full of grain and place it on top of the now emptied mash pot then i slowly pour the pot of 4 gallons of mash over the grains, rinsing out the remaining sugars. I do this same step again assuring that the grains are fully rinsed, this also ensure that the wort is oxygenated. Oxygen really hurts the flavour of the beer later on but initially the yeast need the oxygen to do their job. I then boil the wort and add in the dried malt extract and add the hops in according to the hop schedule. After the boil is finished, it is important to cool the wort as fast as possible to make sure that not harmful bacteria grows, and when the wort is 70f you can pitch the yeast and let the beer ferment in the primary container for 10-14days. And since I now have a kegging system I add it directly to a clean and sanitized keg and set it up in my kegerator and in a few days i can enjoy the beer. It usually is best to let the beer sit for around 2 weeks in the keg as it allows the beer some more time to be able to although the flavors to meld and mellow. But I have a hard time waiting that long.

Heres the ingredients:

8 lbs. 2-Row Pale Malt 
2 lbs. Vienna Malt 
1 lb. Crystal 10L Malt 
1lb 2oz Steel Cut Oats

Kent Goldings .75oz boil for 60 min. 
Kent Goldings .50oz boil for 30 min. 
Simcoe .5oz.  boil for 15 min. 
Simcoe .5oz boil for 5 min. 

Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Journeys in India so far...

The anticipation caused by waiting for a big trip is the perfect opportunity for self reflection and discovery. One is readily able to see what his hopes and fears are, there is easy access to ones full range of emotion.
I tried my best not to over think this trip. I do not want my activities to be shaped by ideas that I have thought up long before. I want to be able to experience my journey without having it shaped by my own will. I do not want my fears to be present nor my desires. So leading up to this trip I have not done that much planning. I’m hopeful that this will be a very special experience and I wish to get all that I can out of it. I do not wish to have my trip tarnished by feelings of disappointment from unmet desires.
Upon arriving at the newark airport at 5,30 am, I was quickly checked in and equally fast went through security. That was a total surprise, I suppose considering the hour that it is to be expected. I was all through and waiting outside my gate by 6 am.
The flight over went a lot faster than expected I think that I managed to squeak in a few hours of rest while on the plane, got to watch a movie. I didn’t spend that much time talking with my seat mate. I started to read a very interesting book called treasure island. Mostly I just tried to rest, I got about 3 hours of sleep the night before so it was good to rest. I’m also getting excited because this is the first time that I have ever been to England , too bad I only get to see the inside of this big airport. Next stop and I will be on Indian soil.
Finally made it to Delhi. Its about 3,40am back home. I’m pretty tired but still very excited. The city is stuck in a fog. Which was pretty impressive to descend into. My favorite part of the part flight was looking down over the vast deserts over Afghanistan. It then shifted into a mountainous region which was also very beautiful. Its crazy to see so much empty space. Being up high and looking down makes everything look like toys; perspective.
Still relaxing at the Delhi airport. Kinda wish that the layover wasn’t as long as it was but it has actually gone by quite fast, it helps that I napped a bit. I am already enjoying the price different caused by the currency exchange rate here. A half liter water bottle cost 10rps, which is about
.25$. The internet has taken on a new function for me here, I have to say that it was quite nice to be able to talk to my parents back home so soon. I am also experiencing something that I haven’t felt in a very long time and that is the feeling of being a foreigner. I have noticed quite a few people staring at me, which at fist can be disconcerting but after it sinks in that I am the odd one out it isn’t so bad. Airports are a really great place to people watch, and I have been able to see all sorts. Now that night has come it seems like the fog has lifted. But I swear as soon as I got here the place has looked hazy even inside the airport. They are doing a lot of construction at this airport. Oh while I was waiting in the lounge before being checked in for my flight I saw some kind of important person. He came complete with his own guard, who carried a submachine gun, and he had about 10 men with him whom all participated in some way in taking care of him. They brought him a coffee and cake. At one point a man came by who was talking on his phone, while he was talking he leaned on his cart point his backside in the persons face (obviously not on purpose) but straight away one of his staff came and asked/made the man move, which he did. Another unique experience for me, was watching a man lay out a mat and pray towards mecca.
There is a mix of the way people are dressed here. I have seen quite a few men in turbans. Some older ladies dressed in the indian fashion the exposes part of her midriff. Men wearing the typical outfit that consists of the long shirt that goes to the knees and pants with a vest over. I have seen a few ladies fully covered, also some with heads covered. But more or less the people dress in typical “western fashion”. The guards at the airport here all carry some type of fire arm, it was a little scary to see guys carrying around ak-47s out in the open. I will be leaving soon to go to Jaipur, and I cant wait for that I am totally ready for this 30+ hour journey spanning three continents (with about 16 hours spent in flight) to be over.
Today was my first day of activity in India. We met some of the students and then we had hindi lessons. The language is very interesting because in any sentence the verb is at the end, and usually the noun is first. After the Hindi lesson we were served a small cup of chai and I tried this sweet that was made from sugar (and was a hunk of sugar), the flavor reminded me of caramel.
I was told that I look like a hero from two different people, that was fun to here. when we got back to the apartment complex that we are staying in, which is really nice too, (I’m staying in my own room, with my own bathroom) I made salsa by hand and cooked up chicken to make fajitas. We started eating diner around 9pm, and were finished and cleaning up by 10. It was a really nice time for all the american people here. We all hung out in the kitchen, everybody helped out it was just a good time for all of us young people from america to bond. We hung out and talked until about 11,30pm.

Monday, February 2, 2009


A lot has happened in the past two months and because of some decisions that I made events have shifted the direction of my life. And I must say in reflection I am very pleased with the way things have turned out. Instead of going back to school for the Spring semester I am working on an organic farm. But the place is so much more than that. It is part of what is know as the Camphill community and the farm I work on is called Kimberton Hills. On this farm they practice biodynamic farming as well as organic and their beliefs our founded in the philosophy and practices of a man named Rudulf Stiener. This community believes in the spiritual nature of man and that Christ was the perfect represententative of what man could/should look like.
They also take care of adults with disabilities, right now I am living in a house with four other coworkers and five villagers. The name "villager" is what is given to the adults with disabilities. So far, I am really being immersed in what it truly means to be patient. Patience, because I have to wait so often while the villagers gets up or gets dressed. This act of waiting has taught me so much. I have taken for granted how easy it is for me to go about the things that I would consider so simple. I wake up and can be ready to go in ten minutes, but the villager I help wake up in the morning takes a minimum of half an hour. Then their are the other villagers in my house too. One is fully blind and the other a female is confined to a wheel chair.
They both are so happy and content with such simple things. The blind man, named Herb, is so happy just to talk to me and wax on about sports. His world exists in books on tape and the radio. So the only time he can receive information is when someone gives it to him.
Then there is Eleanor, she in confined to a wheel chair because she has Parkinson's disease. She loves talking. I mean loves it, as soon as she wakes up she will talk your ear off if you gave her the chance. She is constantly asking others what they are up to or just telling you what she is about to do. Which is extremely limited. Her activities consist of singing with the choir that comes to our house on Mondays, going to work in the weavery on Monday and Friday mornings, and going to the weekly church service on Sunday mornings, sadly that is about it. Yet she is still so happy to simply have a conversation about what she is going to do even if she has already told you five times that she will be going to the weavery on Monday morning.
Seeing their lives has helped me to realize some things. One is that I need to be way more grateful for the simple things that I can do like reading, or surfing the web. I am so fortunate that I can find out anything that I want to know, but they both have to ask it from some one else. I just (and anyone else who reads this) need to be so much more grateful for everything that we have.
Then there is the fact that they basically live their lives through others. I used to think that that was shameful. That I would never want to have to be the one who has to rely on somebody else to care for me and I think that I have actually said that I would rather die than have to live in a wheelchair. How foolish? What a blessing life truly is and even more so that lived with a close connection to others! And I feel privileged that I am able to help others experience a life that they most likely wouldn't be able to do on their own. It really makes me feel like thats what we are put here (on earth) for, for each other.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Christian Nation?

Think about this: As Bishop England wisely put it, “There never was a union of church and state which did not bring serious evils to religion.”

I just passed upon the website of Americans United. Their purpose is to protect the rights of separation of Church and state. They presented some recent poll data that was more than a little bit scary; it said that 55% of Americans believe that the constitution establishes the U.S. as a Christian nation.

The posting also reminds us of the work of Bishop John England, who was a staunch supporter of the separation of Church and state. Please allow me to present some quotes that I thought it important for us to consider:

England Argued, “If ninety-nine hundredths of the present population, were to become Catholics to-morrow, they would be morally criminal did they exclude the remaining hundredth portion from any civil, or political, or religious right; and under our Constitution the attempt would be usurpation, and therefore invalid.”

He also stated, “Congress has no power to nurse the Evangelist, nor to frown upon the Papist; it cannot prefer the Christian to the Jew; nor bestow one cent either to plant the Gospel in Monrovia, to build a synagogue at Grand Island, or a mosque in New York.”

He really makes some solid points and when one considers the history of what has happened when the religion is in a place of Governmental power it never really works out well. Consider the past power of the Catholic church or what of nations of Islam? Religion has its place in peoples lives but its my opinion that a ruling body should neither promote nor deny its practice. Do yourself a favor and visit their site.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How to be human

This will be my first ever blog post and I approach it with much trepidation. The fear that the world will find me inadequate, or my thoughts. Its my opinion that bearing your honest, your own, thoughts to some one else is worse than them seeing you naked. So enjoy your selfs fellow voyeurs.

I'm going to post stuff that interests me. As a reader you should know that I am interested in what it means to be a human. A real human. In my opinion the majority of "humanity" lives empty lives based on mimicry. Or in blind pursuit of fulfilling desires. So I will try to post things (links, pictures, etc.) that make me think and hopefully others too.

On the subject of what it means to be real I found this story at The story posted is the Velveteen Rabbit. The author presents an intriguing idea of what it means to be real. Read it for yourself and let me know what you think.

The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."