Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Our days lately are filled with parenting, commuting, working, and packing. Our move is approaching quite quickly. We’ve been interrupted a few times for some fun things and/or guests visiting though (as well as an unfortunate death, but we won’t get into that here).

We made our way out to the Berkshires for Easter Sunday. My cousin had a little get together out there. EE seemed to have fun. He was given so much candy though during the 2 weeks surrounding Easter we had to eventually cut him off. He had times where he got so hyped up I thought he was on speed or something. We had the Monday after off for Patriots Day (a benefit of living in Mass) and our daycare was closed that week so I took Tuesday and Wednesday off as well. As it turns out an old friend from High School was coming into town and he needed a place to stay, so it worked out. I picked him up at the airport Monday evening and he ended up staying until Wednesday midday when I dropped him at the T to go meet up with his bandmates. See, he’s a drummer. He was actually the drummer of my band back in High School and College. He went on to study music and moved to California. He’s in a band now that was making its first tour of the Northeast. This past weekend I drove up to Portsmouth New Hampshire to meet up with ‘Wrence and some other old High School friends for dinner and then to check out the band. It was a good time and great to see some old faces that have eluded me for a while. I’m hoping to keep in touch with them better.

My Bro-in-Law, Food Boy, visited us this past week as well. He was here for Thursday night until Saturday morning, also from California. He brought me a couple Pliny’s, which were much appreciated.

I got the Belgian IPA on tap and carbed up. I was able to get it ready and packed up for the 8 Seconds of Froth homebrew competition on May 17th in Wyoming. The timing worked for this beer so I sent it in along with the DIPA, just since I had it. I didn’t enter this one last year but used to every year. They always seemed to like my IPA’s. The Belgian came out pretty good I think. It’s dry, 1.006, but I like it that way and seemingly fits for the style. The aroma is strong and a nice mix of the hops and esters.

I think we’re in decent shape for the move but as time moves along one can’t help but to worry. This week is the attic. We are making good headway so I’m hoping to be done by Thursday. It’s pretty amazing how much crap you accumulate living in a house for 5 years. We are donating or throwing away at least 25% of what was up there (along with other stuff throughout the house). Purging feels good but takes time to go through everything and then package and label everything you are keeping. The attic being done will be a huge weight lifted, and as long as that’s done before this weekend then I’ll feel back on track. Then we’ll have 10 days, with two weekends, to do everything else, which should be doable.

I’ll be really happy when this is all over. Of course that won’t be for a while since we then will have to unpack and set everything up. Moving sucks. Moving a house sucks more. Moving a house with a 2 year old in it sucks even worse. It doesn’t help being a homebrewer either. So. Much. Shit to Pack.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Hello. Once again I've been pondering closing this blog down. I could get everything across pretty well just using Twitter and Instagram really. But, I've been sucked in and I'm doing this post....

-We took our semi-annual trip to Florida back in March. It was fun and warm but not super warm the last few days. We did some swimming and whatnot and went on some outings. You can see what I drank in my instagram feed and some pictures of us and EE.

-We signed the P&S on our house the day before we left, so it's sort of official that we'll be moving. They can still get out of it if their financing falls through, but they have only until this Friday to get their loan commitment letter. So at that point, if everything goes as planned, I think there will be much rejoicing.

-My Double IPA didn't quite come out as I had hoped, and 'Wrence helped me figure out what the problem was. It was too malty. It was due to the fact that I got that malt from Great Western for free with the gift certificate I won. It must have been the Pale Malt and not just the base 2-Row. Anyway, it's still good, and a lot of beer nerds might even like it better this way, but I like it drier with the hops out front more.

-I wanted to enter the DIPA into the South Shore Brew Off but I missed the window. From about mid February until we went to Florida life was pretty nuts for us. My mind was mostly consumed with the whole buying and selling of these houses and constantly having to do things, make decisions, get paperwork together, etc. When the smoke finally cleared and I could get my mind focused on beer again, it was the day after the last day to sign up and drop off. In my defense, I know I checked in late January and they had NOTHING online about it (maybe even early February). It still linked up to 2013. This is by far the most poorly run comp I've ever entered. They capped the entries at 250 this year because the last two years it took them 3 or 4 weekends to get all the judging done. That's pretty crazy if you ask me. Maybe it'll hold up until the next comp.

-This past weekend I brewed a Belgian IPA. I wanted it to be a session beer around 4.5% but was over gravity/under volume a bit so it'll be closer to 5% I think. I had roughly 5 lbs of that Pale Malt left so I used that and added around 4 lbs of Pilsner malt (I had 13 lbs from 'Wrence, so I saved 9 lbs for a Pils this Summer). That and some Cara-Pils and sugar made up the fermentables. I mashed around 148F. I used Wyeast1214, Belgian Abbey, and using 'Wrence's advice, did not make a starter, hoping for more esters to come through from the yeast and I'm letting it get as warm as I can in my house. It was fermenting away this morning around 68F. I'm hoping it climbs into the mid-70's today. I hopped it was Amarillo, Simcoe, and Mosaic. Hopefully this yeast churns away and gets it nice and dry. It's stated that 1214 is a slow starter but it seemed to get going okay for me, so should be strong.

-It has been relatively cool here still, though it's starting to warm some. There has been no signs of my hops sprouting yet, but I think that's a good thing and more normal. They used to come up early and rather than cut them back I'd let them go. It doesn't matter too much I suppose since we're moving. I'm thinking of digging up as much of the roots as I can and transplanting it at the new place though. They probably won't do too much this year but I figure that's better than starting over with new rhizomes. We have a pretty good spot I think at the new house for them. The current owners have a few planting beds in the back against the house so I figure that must get some decent sun. I can run some twine up to the top of the house. The house faces West pretty much so one side gets the most Sun. I'll just have to see how it gets blocked by trees and stuff. Should be doable though and hopefully better soil so that I actually get a decent crop for once. I won't miss our clay like rocky soil.

I guess that's all for now....cheers.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Boston Results

I got my scores back from the Boston Homebrew Competition.

IPA South - 31
American Stout - 34
Dubbel - 34.5 HM

Somehow the Dubbel managed an Honorable Mention. It wasn't listed as such on the website. It was also my least favorite of the three beers. I dumped the last few pints because I was sick of drinking it. Even one of the comments on the score sheet was "I couldn't drink a lot of it", or something of the sort. Funny.

The Double IPA is on tap and pretty much carbonated. It doesn't quite have that "punch you in the face" hop profile I was expecting but it's drinking quite nicely. It's actually getting a little better with another week on it so maybe it's still coming into it's own. Lots of tropical fruit action.

Next up is going to be a Belgian Table IPA. Basically a session IPA (around 4.5% prob) except with Belgian yeast and some Pils malt. I was hoping to get it in this weekend but with everything going on right now I'm thinking I might have to wait a bit.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014


The other big announcement for us this year, that was motivated by baby #2, is that we are moving. HK is planning to stay home with our kiddo's since daycare would be ridiculous for two kids. Living on my salary alone meant downsizing our mortgage as much as we could while hopefully getting a bigger place. HK wanted to go North to be closer to her family and friends up there, so in order to accomplish our goal that meant really far North. My commute will suck but we don't have much of a choice and it won't necessarily be forever.

The market around here it ass-hat crazy right now, which we will exploit when selling, but hinders us some when buying. There just aren't a lot of properties on the market which drives up demand and thus price (College Economics paying off). Having a mortgage pre-approval with a contingency of having to sell our current house presented with any offer we make, scares a lot of sellers away, especially when they have other offers. We are also dealing with time since we don't want to move when HK is 9 months preggo. A house came on last week that we liked so we jumped on it and eventually had an offer accepted, with a little negotiating. This meant we had to move quickly to get our house on the market to sell ASAP. That was this past weekend.

Having a two year old makes doing anything more challenging. Nothing against him, he was actually really good all weekend, but you can imagine how this went. There was little sleep but we manged to get everything we wanted done. Mainly it was de-cluttering and deep cleaning, though there were a lot of pictures taken down as well which meant hole patching, sanding and painting. There were a few other smaller projects as well that I've been putting off but needed to be done before selling, like some basement ceiling tiles that needed to be replaced and painting the molding around the windows in the kitchen, etc. It did jump start the packing though since as we de-cluttered and cleaned we packed stuff up and put everything in the garage. The goal was to be done by Tuesday since they were taking pictures for the listing. We have a few more things to do before the open houses planned for this weekend but most of the hard work is done.

Our house is now officially listed for sale though, as of this morning. I'm sure you don't have to be an expert sleuth to find it by researching through my blog. It's a weird feeling. We don't want to leave our house, even though the new house is actually similar, but we can't afford to stay. The last 5 years have brought lots of changes and memories (marriage, baby, etc.) not to mention all the sweat and money we have put into the house. We made it pretty much our perfect home and did almost everything we ever thought about doing to it. There were just a couple things we never got to.

We've crossed a couple hurdles already but there are still a lot of ducks that have to fall into a row in order for these two home transactions to following through. Here's hoping for the best! If all goes well we'll be saying hello to our new home in May:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


We had a "bros" weekend out in Noho this past Saturday with me, 'Wrence and our technically "ex"-step bro. It was a good time except Sunday was pretty much a lost day. I didn't realize how hungover I was until driving home and then shoveling for an hour. Luckily it wasn't too much snow, but beery-sweat was pouring off of me. I brought back some floor malted Pilsner malt that 'Wrence got for me, to use in a Belgian IPA. I'm debating using half Pils and half Pale but will probably use 100%.

Monday was much better and I racked the DIPA and added the first dry hops. I took a reading and it fermented down to 1.010. That's spot on for what I was hoping for. I tasted it and it wasn't quite as hoppy as I thought it would be. The sample was marred by some yeast I picked up though and it was also a little bit hot from the alcohol. After I tweaked my efficiency and attenuation I came up with 8.3% ABV. I'm guessing it'll smooth out in a few weeks. I don't plan on having this on tap until it's 4-5 weeks old. My current stock should hold out until then. I put together 5 ounces of pellets to dry hop with. I added around 4, which will sit for 2 weeks. With around 5 days left I'll add the last ounce, roughly following the homebrew Pliny timeline. I didn't think I had ever done a multiple dry hop addition until I was looking back at some old recipes and found that I had done so back in like 2004 or 2005. I must have just not had the hops right away or picked up some extra or something, I can't remember.

So far everything has gone right with this beer, except I came in under volume. There was a TON of trub and yeast settlement and I ended up with around 4.75 gallons before dry hopping. They'll probably suck up another half gallon or so. Aside from that, I have high hopes for this beer.

Monday, February 10, 2014

DIPA Update

Brewing went about as good as it gets Saturday. I Hit my mash temp right on and my gravity came in almost exact as well at 1.073. It was showing activity the next morning and really churning away by Sunday night. The temp got away from me a little bit though. This time of year I don't usually use my fermentation fridge since it's cool. It was fermenting around 64F when I went to bed but climbed up to 70 by this morning. I moved it down into the basement so it'll hopefully cool off...or at least not go any higher. Should be alright though.

I boiled just over 7 gallons in my 8 gallon brew kettle (below). I'm planning to invest in a 10 gallon kettle in the near future but until then I really have to watch for boil-overs on big or really hoppy beers. Northern Brewer has a nice kettle for $150. Like mine now except updated with stay cool handles and gallon measurements on the inside. Both of which will be nice. I'll drill it and add my valve. Of course then my 8 gallon will be useless. I could always ditch my 5 gallon sparge water kettle and use the 8 instead.

My stomach was a little queasy introducing beer to it Friday night after being sick last weekend. I was worried for a bit but pushed through it and I was fine on Saturday. I finally drank through most of the store boughts and actually drank some homebrew. It was nice and reminded me why I do it: I thought it tasted better than most of the stuff I had purchased. The IPA South is still drinking really good, though the hops have died some, and the Porter/Stout is very tasty.

I think I've decided my next two brews will be a Rye Black IPA and a Belgian IPA. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Hop Shot Double IPA

I'm FINALLY going to brew again this weekend. Looking forward to brewing a bigger IPA. It'll be similar to my 4 Hop IPA except I'll be adding a 5th hop and they won't all be equal parts. I'm adding maybe 4 more pounds of 2 row (hoping to end with 5.5 gallons of wort). Following 'Wrence's lead, I'm also using two Hop Shots for bittering. One at 60 minutes and one at 30, with a few pellets along with each. According to the chart they provide this will give me 75 IBU's. My recipe without them yields around the same. So I guess it'll end up with 150 IBU's. Take that as you will. Shooting for an 8% ABV final product. As far as the hops go, I've always felt a good IPA needs a little CTZ funk in there, but I've learned I may like a little less of it than I normally use. So, the hop bill should be as follows: Columbus and Amarillo will make up 1 part (50% each); then 1 part Citra, 1 part Mosaic and 2 parts Simcoe. Fermented with 1056 as usual. I'll be using my new method of mash/sparging in the afternoon while EE naps and then finishing when he goes to bed.

Other beers I'm thinking about brewing soon: Possibly another Porter to use the rest of my Black Patent; Session IPA with slightly less hops and really high mash temp so it's not so dry; maybe a Black Belgian IPA, or each "B" individually.

Cheers to the weekend!