A girl's guide to beer, brewing & booze…and other things. Just my views on the world in general. Enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

the 5 year plan (March 2010)

In my family, you have to have a 5 year plan. Since I was 10, I’ve had a 5 year plan (5yp). It’s been fluid and even a little fuzzy at times, but it’s always been there. By there, I mean sitting in the back of mind, helping to shape and direct the decisions I make.

Writing down the 5yp, or sharing it with others is a scary process. There have always been roadblocks – Will others judge my 5yp? What if it isn’t good enough, or what if my assumptions aren’t right? Will they remember, and laugh when plans don’t come to fruition?

However, I think in order to move forward with the 5yp, it needs to start being clear and focused. More than just “eventually’s.” So for the first time, I am putting my fuzzy little plan down on paper and sharing it with those around me. Will it change? Probably. But as long as the major goals remain the same, the path there is just part of the journey.

So what is my 5yp?

-Gain Cicerone Certification

-Complete “Business of Brewing” at Siebel Institute

-Complete “Brewery Immersion Class” with Tom Hennessey, at Colorado Boy in Ridgeway, CO

-Finish Business Plan

-Enter and Place in 3 major competitions

-Be ready to open my own business

Temperature Controlled Fermentation Cabinet

So…my last IPA got knocked for having phenolic characteristics. What’s a girl to do? The other beer judges suggested that perhaps it was fermented at too warm a temperature – it lived out it’s entire fermenting life in our crawl space though, so there wasn’t a cooler place available this summer.

">Now we’ve had an extra window air conditioner hanging out in the shed for awhile, thinking it might be useful some day. This past weekend, we took that air conditioner and built an insulated cabinet around it. It’s counter height, so it makes a great work area – and at 6 feet long, it offers all the beer storage I could want (for now.) Insulated with foam board and expanding foam filler, it’s got a R-Value of around 8, so I may have the Engineering department (thanks Larry!) add some foil wrapped bubble insulation, left over from making our tin-foil house. (We are totally safe from aliens – as well as chilly drafts.)

Last step? Still need to secure a digital temperature controller to regulate the temperature. I’d prefer a dual-stage, so that I can pug in a heating element over the winter as well as the air conditioner. Right now, I’m still researching brands – Ranco and Johnson Controls both seem to make one, although there may be other brands I haven’t found yet.

Enjoy the pics!

Brewing Again! October 6,2010

This week, I have the privilege of brewing on the Siebel Institute Pilot System. It currently lives at Metropolitan Brewing – where its great to be a volunteer! I’m a little nervous - I’ve not brewed on an automated system like this before – but also WAY excited. In homage to my surroundings, I decided that a German style was a must. I spent some time researching various styles, and decided on a Sticke Alt (Secret Alt). If you follow the BJCP, its classified as a Dusseldorf Altbier (7c – Amber Hybrid Beer, or in Category 23, Specialty Beers.) It is noted in the guidelines that the Sticke Alt is slightly stronger, darker, richer and more complex, which are all things I love in a beer.

I researched recipes for classic alts, as well as the elusive Sticke Alt, and went to work crafting a recipe to call my own. After consulting with Doug at Metro, I made a few small tweaks to adjust for available ingredients – and improve th e overall body of the beer.

We ventured out to St. Charles last weekend, to visit The Hombrew Shop, ltd. Picked up some hops and black patent, which weren’t available at the brewery.

I’ve sanitized my fermenters, airlocks, and everything else I can think of – and Friday is the big day.

Can’t wait to get started!

Gluten free living ( or why I haven’t finished my Alaskan blog entry) july 19,2010

Shortly after returning from an AMAZING trip to Alaska, my doctor (chiropractor/nutritionist/acupuncturist) prescribed a two month gluten free, low glucose diet. I am now one month in, and completely miserable. I have to make exceptions, of course, for professional reasons – as a beer judge, I have to drink beer. I work at a brewery and get paid in beer. I am co-founder of a ladies beer club. So although I still partake of the suds, it is on a pretty limited basis.

From an intellectual level, I look at gluten free living as an exciting challenge – it stokes the creative juices and makes me want to try all sorts of new recipes. From a practical point of view – I’m just depressed about the whole ordeal. Unfortunately, practical is winning right now. I love to cook – I’m passionate about it, but right now, the thought of food makes me cringe. I dream of Sourdough, and the thought of having to continue this lifestyle just kills me.

The support of friends has been amazing – hubby has been a trooper, and is following along with the diet (no small feat). The Beer Vixens have rallied, and are formulating a gluten-free homebrew. Other friends have researched and found the Gluten Free Girl blog, which truly looks amazing. As I move past the half-way point, things are finally starting to look up. Maybe I’ll try some new recipes this week :)

Beer Tour of Alaska (aka Family Vacation time) June 14,2010

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in Alaska. It was also 2 weeks with my parents, sister, brother-in-law and niece, but still, it was in ALASKA!

As we were there anyway, I decided to conduct my own “Beer Tour” of the areas we visited.

First up : Denali Brewing Company, in Talkeetna, AK.

Some of the beers we tried in the tasting room: Mother Ale (6.2% ABV, 46 IBU’s), Single Engine Red (5.9%ABV, 46 IBU’s), Twister Creek IPA (6.7% ABV, 71 IBU’s), Chuli Stout (5.9%ABV, 55 IBU’s). I was surprised by the variety of beers they were doing, and the quality. Many times, these small town places put out mediocre products, but can succeed because they are the only beer in town – not so here at Denali Brewing. Each brew was well balanced and solid in it’s own right. The stout really didn’t do anything for me, but the Mother Ale was rich and flavorful, the hops were a great player in the flavor, but not overpowering. The surprise from the taster line up was the Gypsy Rose – a traditional Belgian style witbier, dry hopped with rosebuds. Sounds like it was a springtime seasonal, but it was satisfying and intriguing.

Next stop: Silver Gulch, Fairbanks.

To be fair, we didn’t actually make it out to Silver Gulch – it was too far to walk from where we were staying , and the timing just never worked out to get there. But we did try 2 of their brews at the Salmon Bake. Copper Creek Amber Ale with Willamette hops. It was mild, pleasant and refreshing ( 4.8% ABV, 33 IBU’s ). We also tried the Coldfoot Pilsner (5.2% ABV, 33 IBU’s), which again, was refreshing, just not memorable. Though I would mention that it had been a long, warm day, and beer reviewing was not necessarily the first priority of the night.

In Juneau: Bike & Brew Tour

We stepped off the pier in Juneau, and met our guides for the day, a pair from Cycle Alaska. We drove off to their shop, picked up the equipment trailer, and set off out towards the Mendenhall Glacier. Once they suited us up with our bikes, helmets, water,etc, we went through a safety lecture and then we were off! We biked roughly 9 miles through the Tongass National Forest, including a stop at the Glacier visitor center, for some great photos. Not being in top physical shape, I had worried about this tour – I was excited, but didn’t want to slow down more experienced people in our group. Our guide kept us at a fairly slow pace and there was really only one hill to speak of – so the tour was great for me, and my dad, who hasn’t been on a bike in more than 10 years. There were more experienced bikers in our group, but they seemed to enjoy the tour as well. Once the biking was done, it was time for the Brews!

Cycle Alaska dropped us off at The Hangar on the Wharf, an old airplane hangar sitting on pilings over the water. Sea planes seemed to be taking off from the water right below us every 5 minutes or so – another great photo opportunity. At the Hangar, we tried Alaskan Brewing’s Summer, White, IPA, and Stout. I’ll go into more detail about these later though. The stand out of the day was the Kenai River Brewing Naptown Nut Brown - which was complex and a little mysterious. Looking at their website, it is brewed with Pecans added to the mash, and darker malts for some coffee and chocolate flavors. It is definitely not your standard Nut Brown Ale.

From the Wharf, we took a city bus over to Alaskan Brewing – I’ll pick up here in the next blog entry!