Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Break

Here are couple of pictures from spring break so far.

Day 1:  We visited the USS Midway.  It is very cool.  It is HUGE.
Day 2:  We visited the World Famous San Diego Zoo.

I'll probably post more pictures later.

Monday, March 28, 2011

BIAB for me?

So, this blog post might get a little home-brewing-geek-technical for some of you.  If you're not up to it, turn away now.  If it is more your speed, you can look through posts with pictures of the assistant brewers instead.

For all-grain batches, the SheppyBrew nano-brewery uses a 5 gallon gott-type cooler as a mash and lauter tun.  It is modified slightly to include a ball-value and a stainless steal braid to strain the grain as its "manifold".  I basically got the design here: Homemade Mash Tun Design.  I picked the 5 gallon cooler because when I started doing all-grain batches, I was still doing "Mr. Beer" sized batches, and 10 gallons just seemed like overkill.  Lately, however, I've been doing either double Mr. Beer sized batches or 5.5 to 6 gallon batches for my better-bottle carboy, and at my typical OG (usually around 1.060), the 5 gallon mash tun works ok.  At 1.25 quarts of water per pound of grain (which is BeerSmith's default on the mash profiles I use), I can fit the grain and water.

I've been hearing and reading that thinner (more water per pound of grain) mashes are better for mash efficiency.  Plus, there are some recipes that have higher OG's, which obviously means more grain.  And those will not fit in the 5-gallon cooler.  My recipe for Phat and Tyred Ale (which is what I had planned on making last time I had a brew day) calls for 10.83 lbs of grain with 13.53 quarts of water for the mash, and the tun was full.  If I were to try to make a 5 gallon batch of beer for Stone Soup IDA, though, I would have 13 lbs of grain, and to make things fit, BeerSmith tells me that I would use 12.91 quarts of water (because that is all that would fit with that amount of grain).  As you can probably tell without even being much of a math genius, that is less than 1 quart of water per pound of grain.  So, my mash in this case would be going thicker, not thinner.

Plus, with less room in the tun, I need to do several sparges (I batch sparge) to get what I need to out of the sparge. AND PLUS ... lately I've been getting some stuck sparges with the large batch sizes.  Until last brew day, these have been no big deal, but the last one sort of sucked.  Well, it was fun, but it could have sucked.  I actually don't know if the large batch sizes are related to the stuck sparges.  I might just need a new stainless steel braid.

Anyhoo... I wrote all that as a long (possibly somewhat boring) way of saying:  I need a larger mash tun.  Gosh, I hope you're not too bored.  If so, check out this blog.  She usually has something interesting to say.

So I need a bigger mash tun.  I need to buy a bigger cooler and I need to do some work and convert this big cooler into something that will strain and drain wort from my grains.

Or do I?

I have read and heard quite a bit lately about Brew-In-A-Bag (BIAB).  The Brewing Network has talked about the subject.  Basic Brewing radio has done at least one podcast about BIAB.  BYO magazine has done at least one article.  BeerSmith's blog has an article  and a recent podcast on BIAB.  And quite a few of my fellow brewers that I know from online forums and/or facebook have recently started BIAB brewing.  In fact, when I was doing partial mashes, I did a sort of weird hybrid between a BIAB method and a traditional mash tun method.

If you don't know, the premise behind BIAB is that you mash in the same container as you do your boil in.  In the pure form, your mash volume is the same as your starting boil volume, although I have heard of modified versions where some sort of sparging is done as well (similar to what I did when I did my partial mashes).  The bag enters the picture in that you put your grains in a big mesh bag.  The big mesh bag goes in the brew pot.  When the mash is done, you remove the bag, and with the bag, the grains come out.  Pretty simple.  All you need is a big brew pot and a big mesh bag, and I happen to own a big brew pot.  I can buy a big mesh bag for much less money (and a ton less effort) than a cooler and the pieces needed to convert the cooler.

And, with BIAB there is never a worry about a stuck sparge, which is something that I have been thinking about lately.

Some people say that you get a lower mash efficiency with BIAB.  Patrick Hollingdale from, (the guest on Brad Smith's podcast) though says this is not necessarily true.  In fact Patrick says that many BIAB brewers get better efficiency.  The other "knock" I've heard on BIAB is that you won't necessarily get the crystal-clear beer that you can get by recirculating the first of your drained wort, but I've never really worried about getting crystal clear beer, plus I think with Irish moss (or other fining agents) and/or crash cooling your beer before bottling, you can probably get similar results.

The only thing I'm not sure of is keeping the mash temperature steady for an hour (sometimes over an hour in some of my current mash profiles).  My cooler-style mash tun holds heat very well for well over an hour, but obviously a stainless steal pot will not maintain heat as well as an insulated cooler.  Of course, since the mash is in the pot, I could apply heat to warm things up if needed, but I know if I do that, I'll over compensate at some point.  I think some people use blankets over their pots to keep the temperature steady.  I just don't know how well this will work, especially in the winter.  Maybe its just a matter of getting used to what works. 

I guess the other thing that might be an issue with me is that my brew pot has a thermometer probe build in that could potentially poke a hole in the bag (which would probably not be a good thing).  I'm not sure what to do about that.  Do I just have to be aware of where that is, and be careful when adding / removing the bag?  Not sure.  I might even be willing to remove the thermometer if I can figure something to plug the left-over hole with.

So, at the very least, I think I am going to give Brew-In-A-Bag a try.  All I have to lose is potentially the cost of a grain bag.  I'll let you know (right here on this blog) how it goes next brew day.

Now all I have to do is decide:  should I do Phat and Tyred, Stone Soup, or Gringo Cervesa?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Worst brew day ever?

Today was sort of fun. I had intended to make my world famous Phat & Tyred Ale, but things did not go as planned.  I should have known things were not destined to go smoothly when I went downstairs and burst into the guest bedroom (otherwise known as the SheppyBrew fermentation room) and turned on the light to find my wife sleeping there.  Well, she was sleeping until I turned on the light.

After my wife got up to go up to our bed, things went better for awhile.  I hit the strike water fine.  The mash temperature was a little high, but not so much so that I even had to compensate.  Things were going well ... until about half way through draining the "first wort", my drainage stopped.  I would call it a stuck sparge, but I had not even started sparging yet.  That sucked.

To recover, I got my old "partial mash" grain bag and poured my grains into it.  It was in the brew pot, but the bag is not big enough to cover the whole outside rim.  This was difficult, and I didn't get all the grain in the bag.  Some of it ended up in the pot.  Then over a series of misjudgments, I ended up with way too much wort.  The recipe calls for a little less than 7 gallons into the brew pot.  I had about 10 diluted gallons.

I took some gravity readings and using BeerSmith, made calculations to figure out that if I boiled 8 of the gallons for about 2 hours, the beer would end up close to a decent original gravity.  At this point, I decided that this was not going to be Phat & Tyred, and I came up with a new recipe "on the fly".  I had some Wheat LME that had been in our basement for a few weeks.  I put that in.  I decided to save my Willamette and Fuggle hops for next time I made Phat & Tyred, and instead used a few leftover hops that had been in the freezer for awhile (Columbus for bittering and Saaz, Pearle, Centennial for flavor / aroma) .

And so, today, I created a new beer that I am calling "Fat and Stoopid Amber Ale".  I ended up with almost 6 gallons of wort with a 1.060 OG.  There is going to be a bunch of trub in this finished batch because of the extra grain matter that ended up in the wort, but even so, it will be a decent sized batch (for me).

I did put a recipe on the SheppyBrew website (as you might have figured out since there was a hyperlink to it in the last paragraph).  Unfortunately, if it turns out to be the best beer ever, recreating the the process I used to create it will be nearly impossible.

And, so that was my fun day.  I'm actually not even being sarcastic saying that it was fun.  I enjoyed figuring out ways around my bad luck and (stoopid) mistakes.  Luckily the Beer Smith software makes all the calculations very easy.  Disaster diverted.

My more-full-than-usual Boil Pot

Transferring from Brew Pot to Carboy

Almost 6 Gallons of Beer

Another cool thing about today is that while I was watching the pot boil, getting ready to add my 10 minute hop additions, a guy came walking up and said "I know what you're doing".  Apparently this guy (Eric as coincidence would have it) is a home-brewer who lives close by.  Close enough to be out walking past my house.  We talked for awhile about brewing.  He says that next time he is going to be brewing he will stop by and let me know.  I've never really had a real-live brewing buddy before.  All my brewing friends are from my beer forums and / or facebook.  Eric is actually a real person just down the street.  (Really, he is.  I'm not making him up at all).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bottled Cider

I put my gallon of simple cider into 10 12oz bottles tonight. I used 3/4 tsp sugar in each bottle to carbonate the cider. The cider ended up with a 1.003 finishing specific gravity, which comes to 5.9% alcohol (by volume). That is over 93% apparent attenuation.  Obviously, cider is more fermentable than the beers I usually make.

I did not take a taste, but the aroma reminded me a bit of La Folie.  It will be interesting to see how this turns out.  Based on the aroma, I think it might be a bit more sour than I would think a cider should be.  Obviously, I won't know for sure for awhile.  I should probably let these bottles condition for a long time, but I know I'm going to want to try some sooner rather than later.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sith (and other dangers) in my house

I live in terror.

I am guessing that you don't remember, but I've shared on this blog some of the weird (and usually completely frightening) things that happen to me.  It appears to have started shortly after we started having children.

Quite often (especially early on in my adventure of fatherhood), I will get attacked by all kinds of wild animals.  I've literally been mauled by lions and tigers and bears (oh my) in my own home.  I've been munched on by crocodiles, chomped on by human-child-sized piranha, literally eaten by rocky-mountain sharks (bet you didn't even know sharks lived in the rocky-mountain-wild).  Poisonous snakes have bitten me.  Non-poisonous snakes have tried to swallow me whole.  Various types of dinosaurs have succeeded in swallowing me whole (not a pleasant experience in case you were wondering).

Batman has been in my house fighting crime.  Cowboys and pirates and all kinds of rough and dangerous people frequently wander though my house picking fights with each other (and almost always with me).

Sometimes, I'll even change into something (very strange, right?).  Like, just the other day, I was minding my own business when I dropped to all fours as I became a horse.  Not just any horse, but a bucking bronco.  Two of those rough and dangerous cowboys started jumping on my back and I had to try to throw them off.  Too often for my liking, I'll be lying on the floor and all-of-a-sudden, I'll turn into a slide (yes, a slide).  Wild boys who have most likely been raised by wolves will jump on me and slide down my legs.

This sort of thing happens to me ALL THE TIME!

In my house, DANGERS ARE EVERYWHERE.  Yes, I am in danger all the time.  I've just barely started scratching the surface of the weird and scary things that happen right here in my house.

Interestingly enough, my wife hardly ever gets attacked and/or transformed into non-human things.  Weird.

Lately, I am terrified to say that a Sith Lord has been hanging around my house.  He looks disturbingly like Darth Vader, although, I know it cannot really be Vader since he died in 1983 at the end of Return of the Jedi.  Plus, this particular Sith Lord is a bit shorter than I remember Darth being.

One of the really scary things about this particular Sith Lord is that he keeps telling me that he is my father.  Creepy, right?  Either my parents did not tell me something, or this guy is lying to me, because my father is much taller than the Sith Lord currently haunting my house.  But, it is hard not to at least wonder.  This Sith Lord is very persuasive. 

The other night, my wife told me that a Darth Vader was sleeping in Connor's bed.  I'm betting that it was not Vader but was, in fact, the very Sith Lord I've been discussing.  My wife didn't seem too concerned.  Her lack of concern for her missing child is a bit bothersome, but in her defense, I brew a lot of beer, so maybe my wife was drunk.  I, of course, was unable to rush into Connor's room to demand the Sith return my child, because, well, I cannot discuss why not because I want to try to keep this blog rated PG (if you know what I mean).

This Sith Lord does very mean things to me.  He will use The Force to throw me around the house.  He chops off arms and legs and even my head sometimes with his light saber.  Luckily, one of the positive side-effects of all these strange things that happen around my house is that I now have certain super powers such as coming back to life and growing limbs and turning the starches of malted grains into sugar and then into alcohol.  Even so, it sucks to have body parts cut off by a light saber.  Trust me on this one.

So, this is just one more thing I have to live with.  The constant danger is a bit of a bother, but at least my life isn't boring.

In case you were wondering, my Sith Lord does not try to start my mini-van or our car with the force (like this one).  But, I am sure that if he tried, he would be able to do it.

Here are some pictures of us at Mt. Falcon this past Saturday:

Our "hikes" always take longer because the kids detour to every rock.

And tree.

Here are the boys sitting together.

Connor hiding in the trees.

Connor with his hunch-back look.

The kids climbing way to high for Mom's comfort.

Lunch time.

It took us a long time to get through the snow.  The kids have to throw it at their dad, you know.

A badly set up timer shot.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Old web pages

I was looking at my links to the right of the blog.  I followed some of the links.  I have not updated in quite awhile, but it is still there.  For the most part, everything that I used to post there is covered in this blog now. has pictures and stories of hiking and camping adventures.  Now I pretty much cover that sort of thing here with the "wilderness" label. is basically a spot on which to share photos of my kids.  Now, I do the same thing with any blog entry with the label "kids".

And of course, My Thoughts has really been replaced by this whole blog (

One of the pages in is a list of my best (at the time) blog entries.  I feel I was much more interesting just a few years ago.  I certainly had a better imagination, and wrote more entertaining stuff.  I'm not even sure if I updated my list now (3 years later) that I would be able to say anything since this list is better than any of those posts.

Here are a list of some of them from that page:
  • Tyler Cowboy (7/13/2005)  -- My son the cowboy.
  • Smacking Tyler (9/28/2005)  -- Confessions of an abusive father. 
  • Male Lions (3/5/2006) -- The danger of living with two boys who think they are wild animals.
  • Kelsey (8/23/2007) -- Me and the boys Camping without Mommy.
  • September ( 9/18/2007) -- How the Tweedle Beetles and the Summit County mob screwed us on the Duck Races.  Other Tweedle Beetle offenses.

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Bottling Stouticus

    You may remember that a few weeks ago, I told you that I was brewing Stouticus American Stout.  Today, I bottled it. 

    The beer did ok on its attenuation.  It started at about 1.052 and fermented out to 1.015.  That is about a 71% apparent attenuation, which is lower than most of my beers.  That lower attenuation is fine, though, because I like a bit of body to a stout.  In fact, I decided to add some lactose at bottling time to bring the FG up to around 1.019 and maybe add some sweetness to the batch.  The black barley really adds a dry, roasted flavor that comes across a little bit bitter, and the extra sweetness should balance that out just a touch.

    Since this was the first batch for which I used a 5-gallon carboy, it was also the first time I really needed to use the auto-siphon that I got for Christmas (thanks to my brother-in-law Shean).  It worked wonderfully, filling up the bucket in about 5 minutes.  I've used the bottling bucket a few times.  It seems more appropriate now that I have the carboy and auto-siphon, though.

    I was really pleased with the flavor.  I think I ended up with just the right amount of that dry roast flavor that should be in a stout.  It has hints of chocolate and a nice rich malt background.  I'm not sure I could taste the hops at all.  The black malts definitely dominate the flavor profile of the beer.

    Today, I got 43 12 oz bottles; 4 22oz bottles; and 2 1 liter bottles.  That comes to around 40 cents per 12 oz bottle or less than $5 a 12-pack.  A similar local beer would cost probably 3 times as much, and I like it better because I was able to craft it to my own tastes.  My wife and kids should be thanking me for all the money I'm saving, don't you think?

    I'll let these carbonate a couple of weeks and then bring most of these into work to share with my co-workers.   I'm guessing I'll bring in about 40 of the 12oz bottles, which doesn't really leave a lot for me, but I probably have too much beer already.  There are about 20 people in our office, so that means each person can bring home 2.  I'm assuming not everyone likes stouts, so that means there might be a few more of those that do.

    It will be interesting to see what everyone thinks of Stouticus.


    Anyone else hear about this guy who decided to fast for lent and has vowed to drink only beer during that time (much like certain orders of monks are famous for).  He is writing a blog:  Diary of a Part Time Monk.  I think it will be interesting to follow along.

    Wednesday, March 09, 2011

    Interesting Blog Stats

    This post is doing very well in my blog stats.  Its page views are by far #1 for both the week (2011 Mar 2 – 2011 Mar 9) and the month (2011 Feb 7 – 2011 Mar 8).  It is actually very close to the top 10 "all-time" despite the fact that it was posted only a few days ago.  I've been doing this blog since 2005, so to be close to the top 10 "all-time" is significant.  I think the stats are actually only since July of 2010, but that is still somewhat significant for me.

    Why is this post so popular?  No one has left any comments, so I can only speculate.  My guess is though, it has something to do with part of the title "Women wearing very little".  I'm guessing if people are flocking to my blog because they are expecting to see pictures of scantily dressed women, they are pretty disappointed when they get here.  Yes, that post had a couple of photos of some of the women who stopped by while my wife was out of town, but you can certainly get more of that sort of content elsewhere without having to be bored with the minutia my life.

    Part of me wants to make a blog post with the title something like:  "Hot naked women doing all sorts of sexy things".  It would be interesting to see how much traffic that blog entry would get.  I'm not sure I want that kind of traffic, though.  Of course, maybe just having "Hot naked women doing all sorts of sexy things" in the text of this entry will generate some interest.  I guess I'll see.  If so, the internet surfers who drop by will be very disappointed again (probably even more so).

    But, this phenomenon makes me think about some other stats that are somewhat mysterious to me.

    My post Tweedle Beetles which I added over 5 years ago still gets enough hits to make the monthly top 10 page views every month.  So does Poison Rationality, which was written in October of 2008.  These two posts are by far my #1 and #2 viewed pages "all-time".  I cannot for the life of me figure out why in March of 2011, people are still coming to read these two pages.  I'm not sure what the motivation is, but I am pretty sure whoever those people are, they are being disappointed as well.

    This month, for some reason, people are hitting SQL Partition clause (August of 2008).  All I put there was a link to another blog, basically just as sort of a way to bookmark it for my future reference.   Why people are coming here now for that, I have no idea.  I am pretty sure that if you google "SQL Partition Clause", there are pages and pages of much more useful results before you get to my entry.

    And, another amazing thing is that my audience comes from all over the world.  This week, my top 10 countries visiting my blog are United States, Slovenia, Russia, Vietnam, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Iran, and South Korea.  This month, people from China and Netherlands have visited quite a bit (quite a bit is a relative term).  Quite honestly, before blogspot added in the stats tab, I figured that for the most part I had two regular visitors plus random lost souls who accidentally came by every once and awhile.

    Of course, keep in mind that all these stats are relative to a lightly visited blog.  In each of the last couple of months, I've only gotten a little more than 500 page views.  The most I've ever gotten in a month is a little over 1000.  I don't know how many of those are repeats or bots just worming their way over the internet.  I don't know how many of those page viewers actually read.  I wish I could drill down a little more and figure some of this stuff out.  Yes, I'm a geek.

    Anyway, if you made it to this paragraph in the blog, do me a favor and leave me a comment.  I want to know what brought you here.  I am especially interested if you are the kind of person who came by simply because "hot naked women doing all sorts of sexy things" is in the text of this post.  Don't worry, you can leave the comment anonymously. 

    Zoo pictures

    So, as you may or may not know, the SheppyBrew Beer Model left her husband and kids so she could sail around tropical waters last week.  She finally came home late Sunday night.  You'll be glad to know that it appears that she had a good time.

    One of the things that the rest of her family did while she was gone was go to the Denver Zoo.  We go to the Denver Zoo a lot, and if you are one who has been following the blog for awhile, you've seen lots of pictures of the kids at our Zoo over the years.  We are "members", so when we go, we just show them our card and they let us in "for free".  Obviously, we pay yearly, but trust me.  It has saved us a small fortune to be Zoo members rather than paying each time we go.

    Here are some pictures from this time:

    This is actually one of their favorite parts of the zoo.

    In front of Dolly (the elephant)

    Another of their favorite parts of the zoo is climbing on this hippo.

    And they like to spend time jumping.

    Action shot.  I'm sure Tyler took a couple steps after he landed and claimed that he can jump as far as the ostrich.

    This bird and I had a conversation about women and how sometimes they desert you for a week making you take care of the kids.

    This guy was pretty grumpy.  Just like me.   I wonder if his wife had deserted him so she could sail around tropical waters.

    This is one of those binoculars to see lions better.  Connor looked at me instead.

    We see peacocks all the time at the Denver Zoo, but rarely do we see them showing off like this.

    Big kid attacking the bears.

    Little kid being attacked by bears.

    Connor just wanted me to take this picture.

    Here is what mama was doing while we were wandering around the zoo:  Drinking.

    The SheppyBrew Beer Model endorsing a non-SheppyBrew beer.  Traitor!

    If you would like to see more photos of the Beer Model's trip, follow this link.  By the way, there are two women in these pictures.  Only one of them is my wife.

    Monday, March 07, 2011

    Suffer Ring

    I dropped by my favorite LHBS a couple days ago.  After I purchased what I came for, I thought it would be silly not to visit Dry Dock Brewing Company next door for a pint.  At the Dry Dock, I was sitting at the bar minding my own business when some delivery guy asked the bartender if she knew what the 3 rings of marriage are.

    She knew engagement ring and wedding ring.  She didn't know the third.

    He told her that the 3 rings were
    • Engagement Ring
    • Wedding Ring
    • Suffer Ring (suffering)
    The delivery guy laughed heartily at his own joke.  The bartender chuckled, politely.  I couldn't help it; I smiled.

    The delivery guy pointed at me and said, "This guys knows it!".
    "No comment," I laughed.
    "No comment is the same as giving a comment," he said wisely.

    I had to admit that he was correct.  It would have been rude to argue with such a jolly fellow. Whether or not it's true (I'm sticking to the "no comment" on that one), it is funny.  Not LMAO or ROTFL funny or maybe even not LOL funny, but funny none-the-less.

    By the way.  The pint I had was a U-Boat Hefeweizen.  Am I the only one who doesn't really think that a hefe smells or tastes like banana?  I know that is the flavor / aroma usually associated with hefeweizens, but I've never really had one that reminded me in any way of bananas. 

    I do remember that the Beer Model, my brewing assistants, and I were having dinner with the Beer Model's cousin and his wife one time.  For some reason, the subject of home-brewing came up.  The Beer Model's cousin (let's call him "Jerry" so I don't have to keep typing "the Beer Model's cousin") is friends with his neighbor who just happens to be a home-brewer.  Apparently the home-brewing friend had just shared a vanilla porter (actually several porters if I remember correctly) with  Jerry and they both thought it was very good.  Apparently they got to talking about what sort of cool, crazy, unique things might be used to flavor a beer and one thing Jerry and his friend came up with was using banana to flavor a porter.

    The Beer Model (let's pretend her name is Tracy so I don't have to keep typing "Beer Model") crinkled up her nose and said "banana in a beer ... eweeeee" (or something very close to that).  I gave her a quizzical look and asked her what she was drinking.  You can probably guess the answer, but I'll tell you anyway.  She was having a hefeweizen.  I asked her for a taste because my own beer was getting empty (less full for you optimists out there) and I didn't know when the waitress would be back.  I pretended to savor the beer flavor, handed Tracy back her glass and asked her if she knew what fruit flavor was most often associated with a hefeweizen.

    "Banana?" she guessed correctly (that was the answer I was looking for).  Tracy pretended to taste and savor her beer and said "Hey, I guess it does taste a little like banana.  Maybe a banana porter would be awesome."

    I don't know if I would like a banana porter or not.  Like I wrote above, I don't really associated hefeweizens with banana.  For me the whole point was to make fun of my wife and was an excuse to take some of her beer for me.

    Can you guess which spouse in our marriage probably has more rings?

    Saturday, March 05, 2011

    Simple Hard Cider

    The guys from Basic Brewing Radio have recently done a couple of videos about a really simple hard-cider they tried.  I think they mentioned it in a couple of their "radio" podcasts as well.

    The recipe for the cider is really simple.  The ingredients are:
    1. Apple Cider
    2. Yeast 
    Basically, all they did was buy a gallon jug of apple cider from the grocery store, put the yeast in, and let the cider ferment for a couple of weeks.  They made it twice.  The first time they used a champagne yeast.  The second time they used a package of Fermentis US 05, which is a pretty neutral dry ale yeast.  It sounds like they prefer the ale yeast because it doesn't finish quite as dry.

    I was in the grocery store on Friday and saw some apple cider on the shelf.  I thought to myself, "Self, I have some Mr. Beer dry yeast that I will likely never use for beer.  Maybe I should make the hard cider that James and Steve made."  I agreed with myself and picked up a jug of spiced apple cider to bring home.

    Then, later that night, I took a specific gravity reading (1.048), put in 3 packets of Mr. Beer under-the-cap yeast, let the yeast hydrate for a few minutes, shook up the cider, and covered the jug with aluminum foil.

    Now, I'll let the yeast eat the cider sugars and produce alcohol.  In a couple weeks, I'll take another gravity reading and try the hard cider.  Pretty simple.  We'll see how it goes.  I've never made hard cider before.

    If you are interesting in seeing the videos, they are:
    Their YouTube channel is simply: 

    [Edit ... around 6:00 AM on Saturday]:  The cider is bubbling away.  Like James said, there is no krassen like beer, just a lot of little carbon dioxide bubbles rising to the surface.

      Thursday, March 03, 2011

      Missing Wife, Bottling Beer, Women wearing very little

      I guess I just lost my wife.  I don't know she went.  So, I'm going to drink my money.  I'm not going to pay her rent.  Na-na-na-na, na-na, na I wanna start a fight.

      Not really.  (By the way, those "lyrics" are based on Pink's song "So What".  Did you see what I did there?  I cleverly switched the word "husband" with "wife" and "he" with "she", and then also "his" with "her".  Those are not original "lyrics" and I do not want you to think I stole them without giving proper credit.)

      My wife left me and the boys this week.  She left us so that she could go on a cruise with her mother.  This year, my wife will be turning 40 and her mom will be turning 65.  Papa Lou thought it would be nice to send his wife and daughter on a cruise in honor of the "big" birthdays.  It's nice for Tracy and her mom.  Sort of sucks for me, but that's another story, and I don't suppose anyone is going to feel sorry for me.  As long as they are having fun, I guess it is worth it.

      Grammy's gift to our soon-to-be 9 year old
      Saturday after the women left, Connor practiced riding his bike.  Then, we came home and bottled some beer.  Then, I made the kids straighten up most of the house while I cleaned up the kitchen.  Then, we played soccer (the kids beat me).  At some point, we made dinner and I let the kids watch a Harry Potter movie.  Sunday was more of the same sort of stuff. 

      Of course the missing wife means that I had to work at home on Monday and Friday since half day kindergarten and even "full day" elementary school don't correspond with my normal working hours.  Luckily, my kindergartner is an independent little boy and able to entertain himself with minimal distractions to his father.  For this, I am extremely lucky.  Monday, he even made me a sandwich for lunch.  Of course, in return for having my lunch made, I had to make his Mac and Cheese, which I guess is fair.

      He also made himself a beach by digging up some dirt into a container and pouring in some water.  Weird, but at least it kept in busy for awhile.  And, if he made a mess, he did a good job cleaning it up before I noticed.

      I was surprised when it was time to get the bigger kid from school.  Instead of my sweet little 5-year-old, I found a mean looking Sith Lord with a scary looking light saber.  Somehow I survived that ordeal.  I should probably tell my wife what mortal danger I was in.  On second thought, she won't care.

      I think I finally got the whole DNS issue with fixed.  It took awhile, because for some reason there was a host file out there for, whereas I had always just managed it as a sub-domain on the host file.  I think the extra host file must have been created by GoDaddy when I set up the Sheppy Brew website as a sub-domain.  Anyway, all is well there for now.  I thought I had it fixed a couple times, though.  I think having more than one DNS host file doing the same thing confuses things so that they work for awhile and then stop.  Or, maybe I'm just crazy and it was either working or not the whole time.

      During my missing-my-wife-insomnia sessions, I did quite a bit of work on the Sheppy Brew website.  Most of it was around error-handling.  More often than I would like, the SQL Server that GoDaddy has attached to my site goes down.  Since most of my content is stored in SQL server, the site is pretty much useless when SQL is down.  I added some code to cache most of the pages in text files periodically which can then be accessed when I am unable to access the SQL Server.

      I also added an email field to the site comments.  Sometimes (rarely, but it does happen), someone leaves a comment and / or question which I feel needs an answer.  When this happens, I will leave a comment answer, but I usually feel like the person is unlikely to take the time to check back.  The email field gives me the ability to answer this person.  Eventually, I'll probably make the ability to do an email subscription to content updates, and I did some of the work there, but did not fully implement it.

      Of course since we were 3 guys alone in the house, we had to throw a party or two.  We invited some hot women.  Of course, none of the women was as hot as my normal woman, but she left us, so what was I to do?

      click here to show/hide sexist content (this doesn't work for FB users)

      Here are some pictures of us back when my wife wasn't sailing around the world:

      I can't wait for Tracy to get home.  I know she doesn't miss me as much as I miss her.  I'm sure she misses the boys, though, so she'll probably come back.  Don't you think?