Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow Day

We are in the middle of our first snow storm of the year. It is rare to get this much this early. I'll bet the ski resorts love it. I actually like it too. I have had to shovel a bunch, but it is sort of nice to have something physical to do every couple hours since I am staring at the computer all day.

Tracy worked at home yesterday and her office is closed today to "non-essential" personnel, so between the two of us, we were able to take care of the snow-bound kids pretty well yesterday. Not that I ever have problems with the kids when it is just me. It is nice to be able to know you can play man-to-man rather than zone on the kids.

I think the Phillies are going to win the world series this year. Better them than the Yankees.

Some of my "Blogs I read" over on the right hand side (for those of you who read this as a blog instead of a facebook note) are not updating. Not sure why or how to fix it. Unfortunately, two of the blogs I want most to keep updated on (my Sister's and my Dad's) are ones that are not updating. I notice that they are also not updating on each others' whereas mine seems to be on both theirs. So, it appears to be something about the blogs ... not something about my subscription to them.

Hey... little sis and father ... fix your blogs!

Don't really have anything interesting to say. Just sharing the photo.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bike Ride: Correction

I said in my last post post:

"We rode a total of just over 15 miles which makes this Tyler's longest bike ride ever."
"but I think 15 miles for a 7-year-old is pretty impressive."

We actually rode just over 25 miles.
It was still Tyler's longest ride ever.
I still think it is an impressive distance for a 7 year old.

But, I was wrong (and way off) saying it was 15 miles when it was actually 25.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bike Ride

This past Saturday, we went on a bike ride on the Platte River trail. At first, Tyler said he wanted to ride into Denver, but once we got on the path, he decided he wanted to go in the other direction.

It was really a nice day. We rode a total of just over 15 miles which makes this Tyler's longest bike ride ever. It is a pretty flat path, so it probably was not his most difficult ride, but I think 15 miles for a 7-year-old is pretty impressive.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wild Yeasties


For those of you who do not know, that means "Relax, Don't Worry. Have A Home Brew". Those of you who do know are probably home brewers yourself.

One thing that is fascinating about brewing beer is something so damn simple has become such a science over literally thousands of years.

Every home-brewer knows the acronym "R.D.W.H.A.H.B." and yet, every home-brewer (to varying degrees) obsesses about (literally) microscopic details. Every home-brewer will tell you that you must sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Anything that touches the beer or has a chance to touch the beer or might even be close to the same room has to be sanitized. Bacteria and wild yeasts are the enemy of beer and can produce off-tastes. There are countless other examples of ultra-precise time / temperature / and volumes that have to be just right if you pay attention to all the books and Internet forums out there.

But, quite frankly, beer is simply malted grain, water, hops, and yeast. According to Wikipedia's History of Beer article, beer dates back to 6,000 B.C. I find it hard to believe that home-brewers 8,000 years ago had any idea what micro-organisms were flying around and landing in their beer. It was not until the 1800s that Louis Pasteur discovered the role of microorganisms in the process of fermentation. In fact, on Beer Day, I mentioned the Reinheitsgebot (beer purity law). The original law did not mention yeast, because Germans in 1516 had no idea what micro-organisms were let alone what role they played in making beer.

Maybe I should mention in case you don't know that yeast is a micro-organism that eats sugars and poops alcohol. I do not think beer would be nearly as popular without the by-product created by those hungry little critters.

So, one of the most important pieces of the beer-puzzle was literally unknown for thousands and thousands of years, and amazingly, people were still able to brew beer. Amazing.

And do you know how beer brewing worked before humans knew about micro-organisms? Wild yeasts. There are millions and millions billions trillions wild yeasties flying all around us. Home brewers fear them because really, who knows what a wild yeast will do to you (and more importantly, your beer). But, truly, if these little creatures were not flying around trying to find something to ferment 8,000 years ago, no one would have discovered beer. NO ONE WOULD HAVE DISCOVERED BEER! Can you imagine? Can you?

And so, if people 8,000 years ago could brew beer without worrying about it, don't you think we should be able to? Why obsess?


Tonight I brewed a beer I am calling Fools Gold. When I brewed SheppyBrew's Nugget Gold, I was hoping it would end up like Boulder Beer Company's Buffalo Gold, which I think is a very good beer. I know a couple of people with whom I've shared my home brews also like Buffalo Gold. Nugget Gold did not taste like Buffalo Gold. The HME used in Nugget Gold just seems hoppier than Buffalo Gold. Well, by going to the description of Boulder Beer Company's Buffalo Gold, I found the hops and grains that are used in the beer. So you can look on to see how I tried to recreate the beer. It will be awhile before I am able to compare how I did. It will be fun to perfect this beer. You can be sure I sanitized and tried my very best to eliminate those wild yeasties.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

SheppyBrew Update

Most of you know that I have been brewing my own beer this year. My wonderful, generous sister is to thank as she is the one who got me a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas. To be honest, I got the kit and figured I would brew maybe a couple batches and probably go months before using it again. The only home-brew I had ever tried was a stout back in college, and I really did not like it. I'm not sure if it was a bad beer, or if I was simply so used to mass-produced watered down beer that I could not appreciate good beer at the time. But, based on that experience, I really did not think I would like home-brewed beer that much.

Boy, was I wrong. Of course, the nice thing about brewing your own beer is that you control what kind of beer you get. It takes a bit of trial and error, and you will most likely make mistakes (eg: Girly Berry; Maple Brown), but if you follow the process and stick to what you like, most likely you will end up with great beers (eg: Eric's Red; Wetta Blonde; Phat & Tyred; etc ... etc ... etc ... )

So far, if I just counted right, I have brewed 21 batches of beer. Those 21 batches have given me 16 distinctly different beers. Currently, I have 8 different types of SheppyBrew beers in my beer fridge which are theoretically drinkable right now, and 2 batches my fermentors which can be drinkable in the next couple of weeks. My batch sizes are smaller than most "real" home-brewers as the Mr. Beer fermentors hold just over 2 gallons, whereas most home-brewers do 5 gallon batches. Basically, every batch is a case of 12oz beers. But, even with my small - size batches, I have brewed over 45 gallons of beer this year, which I think is alot. Federal law allows and individual to home-brew 100 gallons a year and a household to brew 200 gallons a year. From my beer forums, I know some people who go over the 200 gallons a year limit (shhhh.... don't tell the feds) , so at least I'm not as obsessed as I could be.

My signature beer is Eric's Red, a deep- redish- amber beer with a heavenly malty, almost sweet flavor with very low bitterness. The thick creamy head on this beer is absolutely amazing. Even though this is my favorite (or at least in the top 2), it is also the one I have tinkered with the most. I have made 4 batches of Eric's Red, and each one has been a bit different. I have one that I have to bottle this weekend, which I am sure will be the best one yet. I also really like Phat & Tyred, which started out as a Fat Tire clone, but which I modified enough that it really isn't a clone anymore. It depends on my mood which one I like better and any particular day.

Out of the people with whom I have shared my beers, my Blonde beers have been the favorites. My very first beer was a simple beer recipe that came with the Christmas gift, Classic American Blonde Ale, which was a huge hit with everyone I shared it with. It was, of course, this beer that made me fall in love with the hobby, so obviously, I liked it as well, but it is not the kind of beer I want associated with SheppyBrew. It was a good beer, but not a great beer, so I followed up on a beer that beer drinkers could appreciate in which I added more body and hop flavor, Wetta Blonde, and it has been a big hit as well. Not only do others like it, but I think it is a great beer too.

My most recent beer is one I call Rocktoberfest Ale (in honor of the Rockies who just made the playoffs for only the third time in their history). This one is a deep-amber, almost dark brown with modest bitterness. It had a little higher alcohol content than most of my beers, and its dark malty flavor with the extra little alcohol kick serves well to warm you up on a cold October night while watching the baseball playoffs. Its carbonation is pretty low, which I will have to fix next year, but it is also a great beer. It is considerably darker than your typical oktoberfest lager, but I did not make it for the typical oktoberfest drinker.

So, out of my 16 different styles, I would say at least 4 will be part of my regular lineup (Eric's Red, Phat & Tyred Ale, Wetta Blonde, and Dragon Spit). I plan to always have bottles of each of these ready to drink (NOTE to self: Need to make some more Dragon Spit). At least 4 will definitely be repeated seasonable brews (Whisky Wife Wheat, Gringo Cervesa,X-Mas Ale, Rocktoberfest Ale). Whisky Wife Wheat has the potential of making the regular lineup. It is too soon to tell on Vanilla Porter and Tommy Hawk APA, but I need an APA and a Porter or Stout in the mix, so their chances are pretty good if I like them at all.

And of course, I will always be looking to try new recipes (if I can ever fit them into the schedule having just committed to at least 8 and probably 10 beers to regularly brew). I know I am going to try a DoppleBock and an Irish Stout.

If you made it this far in the blog entry without getting totally bored, you might be interested to see the artwork for my beer labels. You can check them out by going to my public facebook page.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Boys' Weekend

My wonderful, beautiful wife left us a couple of weeks ago to go to our church's women's retreat. I am not sure why women would need to retreat in general, but that is a topic for another time. The fact that my wife thought it appropriate to leave two young boys in the care of her incompetent husband is completely shocking, but again not really what this particular blog entry is about. Really, it is about nothing except sharing of a couple of pictures for those of you who tragically don't get to see the boys very often.On Saturday, we went to the zoo. We have a membership to the zoo, so any particular visit is free for us. The boys like the zoo. It was a nice day. I like to see animals. So, we went to the zoo.

We did the usual zoo stuff. We rode the carousel (I still call these merry-go-rounds, but apparently I've been referring to them incorrectly all these years). We sat on various statues around the zoo. We saw all kinds of animals... some of which even felt like cooperating with us by being somewhere we could see them ... some of them even moved around some. We ate lunch and the boys got ice cream. Tyler even got a close-up picture of the tiger yawning (pretty cool... don't you think). As you can see, tiger teeth are on the largeish size.

After the zoo, we came home and had a movie night with pizza and popcorn (Daddy even had a few beers. All in all, a very successful day ... all while our wife and mommy was off doing God-Knows-What with other women on her "retreat".

And the next day, we had to entertain ourselves AGAIN. We headed over to Golden. Nothing real special was going on in Golden. We just went to the playground and then walked along Clear Creek and played on the rocks and in the water while heading towards the Capital Grill in downtown Golden. Where the boys got ice cream again and Daddy got a beer again.

When we got home, mommy was there. She did not seem to care about my crying and gnashing of teeth from the wild, crazy kids and my attempt to control them.

It was a nice weekend.
Hopefully by the time next women's retreat comes along, I'll be able to convince Tracy not to leave her poor kids in my incapable hands.