Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday


Our church put on its annual Passion Service today. Every year it seems it becomes a bigger and more impressive production.

Most of the churches I have been part of in the past probably have less people attending on a typical Sunday than were putting on the service today. The choir alone was about 50 people. The orchestra was probably 30 more. The main cast was probably about 15 people, but I have no idea how many extras there were plus children who sang and danced. It was a lot of people. Whoever coordinated all that did a great job.



It was a wonderful show.

1st Quarter Stats

Well, I mixed up Monkish Wit in Rutt yesterday.  Tuke still has another week to finish up Buckwheat's Belgium Pale Ale, so for all practical purposes, the first quarter of 2010 is done.  You may remember in SheppyBrew 2009 Stats I discussed the beers that I had made in 2009.  I was curious to see how I've been tracking in 2010, so I took a look through my brewing calendar for what I have done so far this year.

So:
  • 2009:  I brewed 29 batches of beer. 
    2010 so far:  I have mixed 9 batches ... putting me on pace for 36 batches in 2010 (around 81 gallons give or take)
  • 2009:  There were 18 completely different recipes. 
    2010:  so far, all of them have been different recipes.  7 of them are brand new in 2010.  2 (Phat & Tyred, Fools Gold) were repeats (with minor tweaks) of recipes I brewed last year.
  • 2009:  26 Sheppy Brew recipes. 
    2010 all so far have been SheppyBrew recipes.  Monkish Wit might be debatable, but I did come up with the additions on my own, so I am counting it as mine.
  • 2009:  93% were good, very good, great, or oh-my-god fantastic. 
    2010:  100% (so far) have been good, very good, great, or oh-my-god fantastic.  (of course 4 have not really been tasted fully carbonated, yet.  I'll let you know if I have to modify this stat).
  • 2009:  6 batches had no Mr. Beer ingredients. 
    2010:  6 already have had no Mr. Beer ingredients.
  • 2009:  The person who consumed the most SheppyBrew (other than the Brew Master) was Tracy Shepard. 
    2010:  Still the Beer Model.
Interesting stuff, huh?  Well, I might be the only interested party.
Lately, I've been doing big hoppy darkish beers.  The beer model does not prefer big, hoppy, or dark.  We are running dangerously low on Wetta Blonde and Girly Berry, which are the Beer Model's favorites.  It has been requested that I work on getting the light beer inventory up.  I have started doing that.  Buckwheat's Belgium Pale Ale, and Monkish Wit are answers to that request.  I am pretty sure that one of my next batches will be a Girly Berry, and I certainly want to do a Whisky Wife Wheat so that it will be ready for early summer.  I have to take care of my #1 customer, you know.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Snow Blowers

There are only a couple of times a year when I wish that I had a snow-blower.  Usually those days are during one or more of our annual March (or sometimes April) snow storms.  Today was one of those days for awhile.  The snow today, like most of the Denver snowstorms in March (and April) was deep and wet.  Translate as HEAVY.

My neighbor started his driveway just a bit before I started mine.  It took him just as long with the snow blower as it took me without a snow blower.  In fact, he started before me and I finished a little before him, so I guess I was faster than he was.  He had to keep stopping to clear out clogged snow from the machine.  He swore at it a few dozen times (and those were just the times I heard him swear.  I assume he did more swearing that I could not hear).

Our driveways are about the same size ... not big.  It only takes a few minutes to clear our driveways when the snow is light and fluffy, so I would not need mechanical help on those days.  And apparently, on days like this, when the snow is wet and heavy, and I would like to have help removing snow, there is no real advantage to having the snow blower either.  I'll have to remember that when I am thinking of buying one next time.

Of course, I was a lot more tired after shoveling than my neighbor was after pushing his machine.  But, I did swear less.


The boys were off school today due to snowy roads.  Both my wife and I worked from home.  It is much easier to deal with wild children as a team effort.... especially when work is expected to be completed during the time with those wild children.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Picture Day

Somehow, we lost 3 months of pictures off the SD card of our camera.  It is unusual that I go 3 months without copying our pictures to the home computer so that I can work on our yearly calender and/or the Colorado Shepard DVD, but for various reasons, I had not copied the pictures yet this year.  So, most of those pictures are really truly lost.  This sucks, but I suppose worse things have happened.

So, today, we started off the day with the task to get family photos for January, February, and March.  Luckily, it was just a beautiful sunny day after a day of pretty decent snow fall.  This combination makes for great family pictures.

Here are some (not even close to all of them) of the pictures we took today.

Here we are at Red Rocks.  Not a very original picture for those of you who get the calendar every year, but it is a nice view ... especially in the snow.

 The boys at Red Rocks.
 This is the family in front of the Table Rock in Golden.  The boys used their snowshoes to get up this path, to this point.  We didn't go too much further up the path ... even though I had geo-cache coordinates loaded into the GPS.  Apparently, when my kids spend hours playing in the snow, socks and feet end up wet and cold even when they are wearing snow boots.
 This is a picture of the boys in front of Golden City Brewery, which is Golden's 2nd largest brewery.  We have been past this several times, but I've never been in to try a beer from here.  Today, we did stop in and get a sampler platter.  Both the beer model and I think that SheppyBrew has a better lineup of beers, but GCB does have some pretty decent beers.  Unfortunately, the beer I was most interested to try, their Evolution IPA, was out-of-stock.  I guess I'll have to go back sometime and try that one.  They also have some interesting sounding seasonals that I will have to try.
 Here is another picture of the boys.

So, we did get great pictures today to cover the first 3 months of the year of our calendar.  I guess it was not worth crying over losing the photos we lost after all.

----------

This morning was also a decently busy day at the SheppyBrew brewery.  I bottled up my Stone Soup IDA.  The beer finished up with a final gravity of 1.016, which makes this the best attenuated beer that I have ever done.  Based on the sample, the dry hopping really seems to have turned out well, making this a great example of a double IPA ... except the chocolate malt makes it almost black (IDA stands for imperial dark ale).  I am really looking forward to trying this beer after carbonation.

I also did a yeast starter of Wyeast's 3944 (Belgium witbier) yeast.  My intent on this starter is to divide it up to use in 3 or 4 batches of various witbier recipes that I have designed.  Since my last few brews have been darker and/or extremely hoppy beers, my supply of lighter beers for my beer model have been dwindling, so I need to brew some beers that my wife will enjoy.  My first of these will be Buckwheat's Belgium Pale Ale, and the next one after that will be one of those witbiers.  I think I'll brew up the Buckwheat tomorrow.  The first of the witbiers will probably be a Tuesday night project.

Everyone have a good weekend.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Leprechaun Stout

I brewed a special beer for St. Patrick's day, and called it Leprechaun Stout. Right up until the last 5 minutes of the boil, my plan was to just do a pretty typical stout, but right at the very end, I added 1/2 tsp of pepermint extract. My "logic" was something like: "This has to be special for St. Patrick's Day. Everyone wears green on St. Patrick's Day, but there is no way I am going to make a stout green. Mint is green. I will add peppermint to my beer." Not sure that all adds up, but that was my thought process. I added the peppermint.

For most of the fermentation process, I was sure that peppermint was a mistake. While tasting my first sample before bottling, my fears were "confirmed" .... The mint taste was way too strong. My sample at bottling time was not as bad, but still I thought "that is too minty".
But, my QA tastes got better. The beer got to tasting a bunch like a thin mint girl scout cookie. Too much mint for an everyday beer, but not a bad "dessert" beer. 




Today, I think the beer has the perfect amount of peppermint to compliment the dark roasty chocolate malts. This is no longer just a "not-bad dessert beer", but a good everyday brew. Maybe it is just my mood today, but today I think this is a great St. Patrick's Day Brew.  It still reminds me of a thin mint with the chocolaty dark malts and the now-not-so-strong peppermint, but it is a bit more restrained than it was.  I've never really had (or even really heard of) a beer with peppermint in it, but if I were to try one, this is how I would want the peppermint to come through. 

I am very glad that this beer turned out so nice.  Most beers to which I've tried to add experimental flavors have turned out a bit disappointing (the first batch of Girly Berry, Maple Brown Ale, Vanilla Porter).  This one, I might brew again next St. Patrick's day.  I may even put some peppermint in my next X-Mas Ale.
 

Happy St. Patricks's Day everybody!

Here is a photo of Connor after finishing off Tyler's birthday cake.  Sometimes I am frightened of this child.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bike Directions

I just found out from New Belgium's Facebook page that maps.google.com now has the ability (in beta right now) to map a bike route for you.

I've actually been wondering (actually even mentioned it out loud to some people) when google would add this functionality.

Here are directions I just did.  These will take me from around my house to around where I will be working on a daily basis in a couple of weeks. 

As I mentioned, the bike directions are in beta.  Who knows how good they are, but I'll be using them.  I think this is awesome!  It is about time!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Extra Kids

We had extra kids this weekend.  We had an extra 4-year-old and an extra 7-year-old for the whole weekend, and we had 3 additional extra 7-year-olds Saturday night.  One the the seven-year-olds could not stay the whole night, so we only had a total of 6 boys (7 if you count me) spending the night Saturday.

video

The 2 4-year-olds did the dishes Friday night.  Not sure why they think that is so much fun.  Very weird children. (note to facebook readers:  videos don't come through the facebook import of my blog.  If you want to see the videos, you'll have to go to the actual blog post:  http://blog.ericshepard.com/2010/03/extra-kids.html)


Batman and a fireman playing LeapPad.


Here are the older goofballs that came over for Tyler's birthday party.  Clockwise starting with the birthday boy:  Genghis Khan, Mongolian Warrior, Dead Man, General Straub (not sure I am spelling that right), and General Zaharas. 

video

The above is a video of us exploding diet coke using mentos. This was not the time that Mongolian Warrior got completely soaked.  (don't tell his mom that we doused her kid with diet coke).

video
A video of the singing of the birthday song.  Cha cha cha.


A picture of cake and kids.



Fun was had by all.  It was much easier than I expected.  Sort of makes me wish we had 7 boys all the time.

By the way... in case DeadMan's and Oso #4's parents come by, here is a link to the youtube video we told you about:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKoB0MHVBvM (others can look too)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

My LHBS's

This past Sunday, I went to one of my LHBS's to get ingredients for Stone Soup IDA.

I consider myself pretty lucky in that I have 2 good Local Home Brew Shops (LHBS) that I am able to frequent.  Lots of homebrewers do not really have any shops close by, but the Denver area has several.  I have one that is about a 15 minute drive from my house, and one that is about a 15 minute drive from where I work.  The one close to my house is called Beer at Home.  The one close to where I work is called Stomp them Grapes.

They are both good places to obtain beer-making ingredients.  I prefer Stomp them Grapes slightly because it has a better selection of grains and I just feel more familiar with where everything is and how the store is set up.  It also has better prices on extracts, and its website is far superior, which is nice when I need to formulate recipes and can actually look up what is in stock.  Beer at Home, though has GREAT prices on hops.  For the most part, I get my hops at B@H and everything else at STG.

Sunday, though, I decided to get all my grains / extracts and hops for Stone Soup IDA.  There were 2 women working the shop this particular Sunday afternoon, which was a surprise.  I have rarely seen women in LHBS's, and when I have, the woman has obviously been along with her husband or boyfriend, just because she did not want to wait in the car.  Obviously, there are women who brew (I talked to one on Sunday), but homebrewing is certainly a male-dominated hobby.

My understanding is that this has not always been the case.  Back in the days before commercial breweries, just about  every home had a home-brewer.  If you wanted beer back then, there was really no other choice.  And, for the most part (from what I have heard / read), this was one of the wifely duties around the house.  Apparently, 4000 years ago in the Babylonian empire, all brewers were priestesses.  And, as you go through the history of beer making you can find other examples of women being the primary beer-brewers.

But now-a-days, the fact that I ran into two beer-brewing women working the LHBS is a rare occurrence.  I probably should have taken a picture so I'd have proof that it actually happened.
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