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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Many years ago, my brother Cory got me interested in brewing beer. In fact, in 1993 he bought the ingredients from Austin Homebrew Supply to make a dark ale of some sort. Why he lost interest, I'll never know. Starting in 2001, I brewed a few beers, mostly learning from then, co-brewing with Mike Duffy. When we moved to all grain brewing, we started the Xeno-Duff label (left).

Wednesday (the 9th) I brewed a big batch of beer at the request of Christine which brought out all of my brewing equipment out of the garage. I even bought a few more things (like a bad-ass reverse flow wort chiller). With all of this equipment out and ready to use, Cory became interested in brewing a "quick" 5 gallon mostly extract batch. So on Saturday night, I sent out an e-mail to a group of people who might be interested. Around 1:00 a decent group to showed up and help with the brew.

Fortunately for us, one of the ingredients Cory purchased back in 1993 survived for 15 years. It was a dark malt extract that, over time, had reduced down to nearly 2/3s of it's original weight and had been contaminated with airborne yeast. So, when the lid was removed, it smelled of dark malt and alcohol. When it was poured, however, it smelled like more like soy sauce but, it was too late. We had already committed to making Cory's "Forgotten Ale".

While we brewed, Bo, Frank, Rick and Josh threw the football around the backyard. As Cory and I were inside cleaning the brewing equipment, we heard a crash. Bo had smashed my grandmother's beautifully painted ashtray (left). So, now I've lost the thing that really defined my Grandmother in my mind. Sad.

As the brew kettle boiled the brown sugar, added grains (that we steeped like tea leaves) and the 15 year old malt extract, the smell became more pleasant. However, we are still not sure what the end results are going to be. The final step is adding yeast (White Labs British Ale Yeast YLP005) and agitating the wort to aerate the beer. So, Cory picked up the carboy and sloshed it around.

We should be able to see if this beer is going to be any good in about 5 to 7 days when we move it to the secondary fermenter. We plan on kegging this 5 gallon batch just in case it ends up being fertilizer instead of good beer.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

We're gearing up for a fun weekend. The weather report seems to indicate that we're in for a wet one, but that can't stop the rock! We've got beers and brats, mixed drinks and music. Just need to get find places for everyone to sit back and enjoy themselves. We just have a few issues to work out before Saturday, like the issue we had last night.

Last night, it was raining so hard the cover over the porch was leaking. Fortunately, the failure pointed to the cause. The cover collects water off the roof and channles it into the structural members at the edges. These channels are pitched so all of the water goes into two downspouts on the side of the porch cover that faces the property line. The first was free and clear, but no water was flowing out of it. The second was clogged up with about 2 inches of mud, backing up all the water and forcing it to leak out of every junction between channels. So I pulled out the downspout and pushed my hand up through the mud, which came out all at once. The problem is almost totally solved, except for a few seams in the corrogated steel sheets that make up the roof.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

We've been taking care of Brian's and Jasmine's* dog (Trixie) while they are busy inviting Atticus (their brand new baby boy) into the world. Congratulations to both of them. This morning, Trixie would not stop barking. When Christine went to call her in, she wouldn't come, so I went out to retrieve her. Turns out, she was barking at a Blue Jay that was lying on the grass. It looked a bit scruffy, so I assumed that it was dead. Trixie, was running circles around it and barking nonstop.

Upon closer inspection, the bird was scruffy because it had not yet grown all of it's feathers. It must have fallen out of the nest a bit early. So, I picked it up and placed it on the honeysuckle that's growing on the back fence. It was out in the open and there were ants crawling along the top of the fence, so it wasn't a good place to leave the fledgling.

Trixie followed me back to the door and went inside, and I returned to the back yard to find another Blue Jay perched on a branch of the pecan tree. It flew to the crappy elm tree across the yard, then to the top of the fence where the fledgling was trembling below a leaf. I watched for a bit to see if I could locate the nest but, I was already late for work. So, I picked up the fledgling and placed it as high into the elm tree as I could, under the thickest canopy of leaves. I'll get Christine to check on it later today, and I'll look again this evening. Hopefully, I can locate the nest to put it back.

*Yes, that's the proper way to refer ownership to two or more individuals.



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