Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas is a Joke!!!!!!

First let me start out that this is not a post against religion in anyway. My beliefs, though probably not the same as you the reader, have nothing to do with this segment.
Christmas, like most holidays any more, has gotten away from its origins. Now it can be stated that Jesus was possibly born on this day, or that this is just a holiday that was made so that the religious right could make it easier for the pagans that celebrated the winter solstice to be converted. Either way it originated as a true celebration or life and the sharing of that enjoyment with others that we love.
On to current times and the commercialism that is taking over every aspect of life. Now a good christmas is determined by the world by the number of dollars spent shopping, was the latest and greatest toy given to your children. I have come to hate the holidays. What is there to look forward to. I see my wife spend and spend and spend to get presents for everyone under the sun. This is money that we do not have and will be trying to still pay off even next year when it all starts again just like we currently are. And it is not like I have not tried to get out of it. Hell I can not even leave town this year the week of christmas but yet every family must find a way to make the day to get together and get gifts exchanged even earlier. People, get a clue, I do not want to be a part of Christmas. All it does is piss me off and yet it is a major crime for me to say I do not want to be there. I am ok with doing christmas on christmas day for my kids, though that in itself is the cause for most of this problem. I have young kids and try to let them enjoy it as much and as long as they can, but it is getting more difficult. Oh well, guess that is the burden of living in the modern day where the almighty dollar is the only thing that counts.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fly fishing for....Catfish????

Well spring is finally here and fastly going to summer, time to get the fly gear out, dusted off, relined and head for the pond for some fun pan fish practice. I have the first Trout trip already booked and figured that I needed to get the cast practiced before going and trying to get a fly over top one of those very finicky Browns. So with gear in hand and ready to go I head for the family farm pond. I have written about fly fishing for pan fish in the pond before in my blog and figured this trip to be no different than any other. It started out as normal, bad cast after bad cast with me yelling at myself about keeping my wrist tight and waiting on the back cast before bringing the rod forward, all the usual first time garbage. I soon had myself all retooled and the cast were looking pretty if just a bit short (what do you expect, it was the first time of this year after all, can't have a perfect cast right out of the shoot). So casting correctly for the first time in an hour of fishing, I finally see a little bit of surface feeding action and cast in the area, boom, first fish of the year, a little, beautifully colored sunfish. Well the fun was on and for the next hour I must have caught 30 of the little monsters. This is the usual fair with a bass or two thrown in for a little bit of a fight to be had but this night I was fishing in the grassy area that was covered by the pond being up a bit due to spring rains so was not expecting the hard hitting bass, after all this is just practice for the Trout that was coming the next weekend. It was getting to be just about quiting time when I got my first fish on the line that was not a sunfish, a little bitty largemouth bass. I could of used this guy for bait he was that pitifully. Well I figured what the hell I will cast one more time and see if big brother bass was in the shallows as well. I put the little #12 black foam popper on 6x tippet out about 8' of the shore line and started playing it along when KABOOM, the water explodes, the line takes of at mach speed, hits the reel which also goes into a twirl and the fight is on. Welcome to the party big bro, glad you could attend the festivities. So finally I get the reel to slow and start working the big guy in, back and forth, I reel him in, he swims back out. To all of you fly fisherman, you know the wonderful dance of playing a fish that you know at any moment the little bastard is going to look up and spit the fly right back at you as to say "I have had enough fun with you today". What kept surprising me the whole time was that this guy never went above water. Largemouth bass are fun to catch just to watch the aerial displays they put on while being brought to bear. This guy was giving non-of that. So the fight continues till I finally get him in and plunge in the water with the net. Ta-da look at the beautiful 3# bas...CATFISH?? Catfish?? Was I seeing things, this fish had hit a topwater popper correct. Well the proof was in the net. My first ever Catfish catch on a fly rod. After that I figured I should call it a night, so I snapped a few pics for even more proof, gave the fish back to the pond for a future try and packed out. All in all, a very fun evening at the pond.

Friday, January 25, 2008

First Partial grain homebrew, WOW, Tasty

Well as you have been reading I have started brewing my own beer and have tasted it on occation as it has slowly been coming around. Tonight I popped open a bottle that has been sitting for 2 weeks and Wow, it is tasty. A great stout flavor and with just a hint of coffee. I am completely impressed with this brew. Now I just can't wait till the Scottish brown is done.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Making of a Kegerator - Part 1 - Clean up

Well after getting the beer bottle cooler home and it being a beutiful weekend I decided to get start on the clean up. I started digging in to the inside and found that it was not as bad as I had first thought and just a bit (ok lot) of surface rust. I got the shop vac out and started getting all the old bottle caps, dust bunnies from the inside and the motor compartment. Then it was time for the wire brush. Soon I had rust dust flying so thick that I had to wait for it to settle so that I could see where I was at. After a lot of wheel time I ran to the store and bought a couple cans of rustoleum paint. I figured that this would help protect the metal at the bottom in case of any spills, future bottle breakage or any number of things. Ok time to get high. I get the paint shook up and started painting. I am rather shocked at the results. It looks great. I have a 20lbs. CO2 tank that is roughly the same size as a 5lbs. keg. the bottom will fit 5 kegs and the CO2 container. It will also allow for 2 cases of bottles on the top step. Next step will be for the outside. I have not quite figured out what I want to do with that yet but I am sure that an idea will present itself. Below is the after shots.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

New Era of Beer

Well as you would have read in my last post, I have started brewing my own beer. The first batch was brewed on 12/29, racked to the second fermentor 1/5 and then today I bottled it. What a bitch to say the least. First I racked it to a bottling bucket, added brown sugar ( this is not normal but I wanted to add the flavor just at the end for a touch of molasses) and started to bottle. 40 bottles later, bucket empty, bottles capped and set to carbonate and empty buckets.

Well here is where I need to back up a couple of days. Thursday there was a auction that was selling off all the equipment at the first bar that I ever bartended at. I decided that I wanted to go just to see what was still there 10 years later. Well as I watched the proceedings I noticed that one of the bottle cooler behind the bar, a 54" Superior, was not being bid on so I started bidding. Well what do you know but I win it for the great price of $50. Now this is great as I had been reading about getting a kegerator started and had been looking at all the people that turn fridges and freezers in to homebrew kegerators. I wanted to do this but didn't have the spare fridge or freezer. I got this cooler home and started planning. My original thought was to put a tap tower or two on the top, but with the doors sliding up under the top that was not going to work. I looked at the back and sure enough, it is just a big black sheet of metal. Perfect. I can put a whole row of taps in. I started looking at the interior and figured that I could easily put in 5 of the 5 gallon Cornelius type kegs and still have a couple cases of bottled beer in there chilling as well. I will keep a log on this site of all the work as I proceed but first step is to clean it up.
This brings me back to the empty buckets. Well I now have a cooler to put beer in and only 40 beers to put in it. That just begs for another brew. The last was a Stout so now I wanted to take it down a step and go with a Scottish style ale. I had found several recipes for this style on line but all seem a bit heavy on the hops for my taste. I took two of the recipes that I had narrowed down to the LHBS and talked to the owner. After discussing a couple of options with the recipes that I had we came up with a grain bill and hops schedule that I was happy with. So I got the bottles capped, buckets empty, cleaned and sterilized and pot of water on to boil the water that I will use to fill the 5 gallons. I get that cooled, and start the grains to steep. Instantly I notice the difference in the brew. When at this stage on the stout, the water was almost black right away. This time it has a nice brown color and more grain in the smell. This batch is now sitting in the basement fermenting. Can't wait.
I have added the two recipes below:
Shepherd's coffee stout
6 lbs Amber LME
1/2 lb. of Crystal 60L Malt
1/2 lb. of Black Roast Barley
1/4 lb. of Dextrose Malt
5 cups Dark roast coffee - Add when 5 min left in boil
Hops Schedule
1 oz. Willamette hops 7% acid 60 min
1 oz. Sterling Hops 5% acid 5 min
American Dry Ale Yeast
Shepherd's Scottish Ale
6# Amber LME
2# Marris Otter
1# Brown Sugar
.5# 80L Crystal
.25# Chocolate
Hops Schedule
.5 oz Sterling 60 min.
.5 oz Sterling 5 min.

American Dry Ale Yeast

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year Brew

Well as the title shows it is New Years Day, Happy New Year everyone, but the Title is also a bit misleading. I had the Crazy Irishman over this last weekend to brew up a fine batch of Coffee Stout. Now this sounds easy but to be honest, this is the first time I have brewed my own batch of beer. I tend to research everything that I want to try to the extreme, so this being no different I hit the Internet weeks ago and read everything that I could find about making my own beer. Now the Irishman is a bit different. He tends to like the trial by error approach (the gods truly love the Irish to have them all survive this technique) and as he had already brewed a couple of batches of beer with excellent results I called for his help. So off we go to the local home brew store. I had found a recipe for a part grain, part extract brew that I wanted to try. The one thing that I suggest to every first timer, talk to the shop owner. I did and after talking to the owner I found that I really wanted to modify the recipe to make the stout that I was going to attempt fit more to what I was looking for in taste. With ingredients in hand, we headed to the kitchen to start the brew. For those that are reading this and know what they are doing I will state that we did clean, sanitize and boil everything before the cooking started. Now being the fine Celts that we are we decided that making beer required us to first pour a glass of single malt scotch. Today we started out with a bottle of Aberlour 16yo Sherry cask. Wonderful scotch. Now we get all the grains that we got in the bag and put them in the water and bring it up to 150 degrees and cook for 30 min. Now 30 min is just about the right time to enjoy the glass of scotch so who needs a timer. Once the scotch was completed, we took the bag of grains out, washed the grains and brought to a boil. Once we reached boiling we poured in the liquid extract. This is some sticky stuff I am telling you. Ok, malt in we return the wort ( that is what we are making by the way) to a rolling boil and add the first batch of hops, set the timer for 1 hour, pour the next scotch, this time a 12 yo Tullibardin, and wait. The house now smells like a fine loaf of bread. Fast forward an hour, now time to cool the wort. This we did by setting the whole pan in a ice water bath. Now they do make fancy cooling coils that you can use but this being my first attempt and poor to boot, I just did the old tried and true bath method. after 20 min of cooling we have reached the right temp for the yeast so we pour the wort in the bucket, add water to 5 gal, add the yeast and stir. Then we capped it, set up the air lock and placed in the basement. This is where I explain why the title is misleading. This beer, as good as it tasted now, will not be ready to drink till probably St. Patty day. Sad but that is the way of beer making. So in the mean time, we will continue with drinking scotch, store bought beers and looking forward to the day that we can see what the fruit of our scotch laden labors taste like. Cheers.