Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Beereview: Stone Old Guardian

It's Beereview time. Today I've poured myself a glass of the Stone, Limited Early 2010 release, Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale. I picked this one up fully realizing I've never had a barleywine before. And I know it's supposed to be intense. But as I sit down with the bottle... 11.1% ABV? I may not know what I'm getting into. The long, long, (I'm talking long like Lawrence of Arabia long. Not only long, but not very exciting, which makes it even longer) eyestraining (think of the text on the back of a can of WD40, now just think smaller) story on the back of the bottle doesn't really give you any idea what you're getting into. After the story the bottle reads "Ingredients: Tons and tons of Barley, Bountiful Hops, Water & Yeast." Yeah. No s__t.

The beer poured nice and smooth, with not a significant amount of head occuring, but what does occur is stable, and tinted yellow, a hint of just how much grain you're about to encounter. The smell however is misleading. The malt aroma is present, but not heavy, the hop aroma is nowhere to be found.

Now bear with me when I remind you this is my first barleywine, and I realize it's supposed to be strong. But wow. That first sip hits you like the 5 o'clock express in New York City. The mouthfeel is crazy smooth, and you can taste the malty-ness (not a word, I know). But upon swallowing the hops and alcohol come out of nowhere like ninjas and samurai, kick you in the teeth and steal your lollipop (Ninjas love lollipops). There's a significant difference here though. While I would never want to get kicked in the teeth a second time (or even a first time), I find myself wanting another sip from my pint. The following sips aren't as strong as the very first. But wow. I might not be able to get up after finishing this bottle.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chelada: Origins Myth


For those of you who don't know what Chelada is, read on because it's the punchline. I really wanted to do something fun with this particular beer since it's so unusual. I decided that I would do a blind taste test of the real thing versus one I make myself. Why is this so interesting? Because you likely wouldn't want to drink either of them.

My curiosity of Chelada stems from two sources. Eric likes terrible beer and Matt likes "Bloody Caesar's." That's really your first clue. To explain the horror properly, lets try and see what went on in the Bud Exec's heads:

"Hey man, Bud light with lime is selling pretty well. I wonder how we can duplicate that success?"

"Well what other mixers do people like with lime?"

"People like Bloody Marys"

"True enough, and those can go with lemon. We'll call it Buddy Mary and use Bud Light instead of Vodka."

"I like it, but it's not really different enough. You know what goes really well with a Bloody Mary? Seafood."

"Brilliant! Lets put some CLAM JUICE in as well!"

"I love it, we'll call it: Chelada."

Shortly thereafter Miller followed suit with Miller Chill, since big beer is all about diversity. Read more here: Michelada

I checked 3 reputable liquor stores for some Chelada, but apparently around here our stores are too nice to carry it. I know Eric's got the hook-up, so hopefully he'll pick some up tonight and we can get this contest rolling. What's the prize? You don't ever need to try it again.

Edit: After checking liquor stores around me and 7-11s on Long Island, I still can't find this stuff! I guess it was less successful than I thought. I'm postponing the taste test until I can lay my hands on some.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What to Do if All Your Blog Posts Disappear

We recently had the unfortunate experience of losing all our blog posts either do to maliciousness, or some kind of blogger glitch that only affected our site. I'm leaning towards maliciousness.

First things first, if this has happened to you and you did not change your Google password, GO CHANGE IT RIGHT NOW.

If you find yourself the victim of this sort of behavior (i.e. somebody deletes all your posts, one at a time) then this might help you.

If your entire blog was deleted, there's an un-delete feature available in the http://draft.blogger.com dashboard, so check that out.

This is advice to help those of us who see the "View All Posts" link on their blog and have no posts visible in the dashboard.

Your blog posts are probably not gone. In fact, the more popular your blog the more likely it is that NONE of them are gone. Here's where you can find your past posts:
  • Search Google for "site:yoursite.com" where "yoursite.com" is your URL. Odds are, a bunch of your old blog posts are stored there.

  • Contact somebody who has subscribed to your blog via email, and have them forward you all the posts they have received.

  • Find out if anybody has ever followed you with a feed reader, those usually keep copies of all the downloaded RSS items. Google Reader is an example of a feed reader.
If you only have a few posts, it shouldn't be too bad to manually re-enter them from this information (just backdate them by clicking "Advanced Options" when posting.

What We Did

Luckily, I had subscribed to the blog in Google Reader from the beginning, so I had a complete copy of all our posts.

Being a programmer, I wrote a windows application which would download items from my Google Reader feed and resubmit them to blogger.


To use this, you need to follow the steps here: http://www.rimmkaufman.com/rkgblog/2008/09/19/gogle-reader-export-starred-posts/
You'll end up with a 20-digit number corresponding to your starred posts.


Install and run my application (source code is included, to prove there is no monkey business going on) and you'll be able to import 50 posts per day to your blog (from your public reader feed).

This has some limitations: Images aren't preserved, you lose all comments, and the person who originally posted the item has to be the one who runs the program and reposts it. Use it as a last resort.

Here's a link to the program.

This is provided under an MIT-license. Which means you can do whatever you want with it, but can't hold me liable for any damage that may be caused to your computer or blog. Like I said, use it as a last resort.

Our support post was here: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/blogger/thread?fid=702f115af0f7f0fc000484d8da229111&hl=en

Technical Difficulties

All our posts disappeared yesterday around noon. What was weird about it is, it affected only our blog. We're currently in the process of restoring it, and aside from one post we didn't lose anything.

All the posts were individually deleted (if the blog was deleted entirely, we could have just undeleted it).

Since we were the only blog affected on the entire interwebs, this points to a Malicious act. Obviously we both changed our passwords.

If the comcast customer in Orlando who messed with our blog is reading this: we're still considering our options.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

MicroBlog: Today's News

This is not beer related, so I might get an earful from Gene later. That said: "Lords of Ultima" IS "Farmville." Diamonds are Farm Bucks or whatever they are called. The build queue is harvesting. Don't subscribe to this new layer of the internet: micro-transactions. It's just like the Commodification of beer, food, and everything else. They want to reduce the net to the smallest possible salable portion.

Farmville is like the Bud-Light of the internet. It's O.K. in small doses but there is no substance and it does cost real money. To all your brewer's our there, to all you starbucks-shunning no-I-will-not-have-fries-with-that enlightened consumers out there, do not fall for the obvious trap here. The more consistent you are (across the board) in your purchasing habits, the more you vote with your dollar. That's the only true vote we have left in our consumerist society.

I intend to vote for home brew. I intend to vote for local high quality ingredients. My dollars will not go to Farmville, Budweiser, or Kraft. I'm going to shop at Princeton Homebrew even though I could get a better deal online. Every dollar I don't spend on Starbucks, Farmville, or cheap rice-beer can go towards my Beer Education. Think about that the next time you buy some Farmville fuel.

Happy Wednesday everyone. And I have an announcement to make.

Happy Wednesday everyone. And I have an announcement to make. My beer boxes are finally finished. And don't expect anyone ordering any from me for a while, because they were a pain to make. They turned out great, but a lot of labor was involved. It still holds true that I prefer to do the rough woodworking as opposed to the finishing. I may be doing something wrong, but it just doesn't seem right that fabricating the thing doesn't seem to take as much time as making it look or feel nice. Regardless I'm proud of the finished product and I'm happy to say goodbye to the rag-tag cardboard boxes I used to use. I made four of them, and I plan to use the other two to house my competition beers (that I brew towards the end of the year.) If anyone would like to see the project schematics, please feel free to send me a message on twitter via @splobucket. I'd be happy to share them with you.

On to more exciting news: with the boxes out of the way and the wifey's island nearing completion, the HERMS project is going to be starting very very soon. As a matter of fact, I just put in an order for a 18 volt DeWalt cutting tool from Amazon.com that's been long overdo. Once that arrives the first thing I'm going to do is rip open the top of my keg... I mean "Hot Liquor Tank." My plan from there on out is to mount the valves, coil, and drain on the HLT and move on to the Mash Tun, and then the control box.

Also saw an interesting article over at the Brewer's Association. They released the 
top 50 Craft & Overall Breweries by sale volume for 2009. It's interesting to see who's on top, but probably not all that surprising. Nice to see that Sam Adams is doing well being at/near the top of both lists.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Nick's Bad Day: Failed to Brew (with video)

Sunday was supposed to be my big solo brew day, but it didn't go so well. I don't mean the kind of not-going-so well where you end up with less fingers at the end of the day, but I do feel a bit defeated. Watch the video when your boss isn't looking.









The video sums it up, but here's the play-by-play:

  • 11:00 AM: 30 mins to the big brew, got my stuff ready to load in the car to take to my friend's parent's house (they have a hose which they graciously are letting me use)

  • 11:15 AM: I get a phone call from my friend's mom. I have this sinking feeling, which is immediately validated when she says her hot water heater sprung a leak. My access to hose water (for cleaning and the wort chiller) is now denied until they can get a plumber out there. Bummer, but at least I can flush my toilets; I'm still better off.

  • 11:20 AM: Undaunted, I seem to remember that there is a sink adapter that lets you connect a garden hose to a kitchen faucet. I remove the faucet from my kitchen sink (which is retractable) and true to form, the faucet tube promptly ratchets back deep into the pipe. This was the first bit of bad luck. After trying for a while in vain to push it back up through the pipe, I dig out my screw extractor (from an electronic toolkit) and with Sam's help, I snag the end of the tube and pull it free.

  • 11:45 AM: I test the water in the sink without the faucet and promptly soak myself from head to toe as it whips around like a spitting cobra. I go change my clothes.

  • 11:50 AM: I attach a bottle opener to the hose to keep it from ratcheting back into the pipe again. I turn on the water to wash my hands... and soak myself head to toe AGAIN.

  • 12:30 PM: I run over to Big Lots (I misspoke and said Home Depot in the video) and buy a 50' garden hose ($9), a two pack of nozzles ($10), and some hose washers ($1). I love big lots.

  • 2:00 PM: I head over to Home Depot with my newly acquired floriculture essentials for fermentological purposes (see if that gets me a googlewhack). After careful inspection of all the various plumbing and sink equipment available, I conclude that they DO NOT MAKE an adapter for retractable faucets. This is bad luck event #2, since the accidental soakings were more like stupidity. They make a brass adapter that will go from 1/2" to 5/8" hose but I don't want to mess up my sink with a metal to metal connection.

  • 2:30 PM: I decide to try vinyl tubing with plastic connectors and buy what I'll need. I bring it all home and open it up. It's always a good idea to clean up before a project, so I turn on the water to wash the sink and promptly soak myself from head to toe. Yeah.

  • 2:45 PM: After checking everything out I go to connect my 1/2" adapter to the sink and discover I bought the wrong size. It was threaded at 3/8", but for a 1/2" hose. Crap. This is Bad Luck #3 or arguably: stupidity. It's now too late to brew.

  • 3:30 PM: I finish making my video blog post (above) and go play Borderlands with Gene.

So there you have it. I need to try and brew during the week sometime instead. I'll keep you all posted.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Janitorial Work

First I'm excited to say that we've gone pro, we now are located at www.ataleoftwobrewers.com. Which is pretty damn exciting to me. We're also going to be launching a few upgrades here and there in the upcoming months so stay tuned. I've also added a donate button on the lower part of the information bar to the right. If you enjoy what you read here, contribute to the site's research and development! Money will go to new brewing items such as a fermenator, kegs, bottles, more automated gadgets like a digital burner control, and ultimately a new brewery. Thank you, in advance.

Now that two kegs have been spent, and ATaleOfTwoBrewer's First Original ESB on the horizon of kegging, it's time to clean out some kegs. For Christmas the wifey got me the Kegworks.Com beer line cleaning kit (link). If it weren't for the warning, or should I say un-warning, I would've handled the cleaning stuff that comes with it with thick rubber gloves and a pair of tongs reminiscent of a blast furnace. This stuff looks like it'd eat a hole in your driveway. However according to the label it's actually quite safe. And a little more than a capful will create a gallon of cleaning solution, which I found plenty to clean lines for two kegs and two taps.



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Taxation

It looks like the governments are scrambling to get some extra cash. State by state, governments are attempting to pass laws to raise the taxes on beer. Found this info over at Monday Night Brewing's blog. While it appears to affect only the big brew companies, it looks like it would hit a majority of smaller breweries as well.

There's a Czech proverb (so they say) "The government will fall who raises the price of beer."

So lets not get hasty, government. Let's leave beer out of this. Tax something else... like... toaster ovens. Or something.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Coastal Wheat, did Sam Adams really need a Blue Moon?

I remember my first weissbier (wheat beer) back in college. Before I became a beer aficionado (self proclaimed) I frequented JP MacGrady's in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. At the time, I was as likely to order a Molson as a Rogue. When my pitcher came around on the geetarr (listen: Alice's Restaurant) I generally went with whatever pitcher constituted the group consensus, especially if it was $4. Typically this was Yuengling but the night my friend Ed came to visit they had a special on Hoegaarden. We ordered a pitcher and I was very surprised to see it served with an orange wedge.

"Fruit in beer?" I thought, "Surely this is a mistake."

After the first sip I was sold. The orange creates a delightful fruity aroma which enhances the delicate (and somewhat sharp) flavors of the beer. It has a bit of a pungent aroma, but like a good cheese: it's savory. Many people squeeze the lemon or orange into the beer, but the acid serves to ruin the frothy head; it's really meant to be a garnish (and an attention-getter in bars.)

From these humble German roots (also try Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier NaturtrĂ¼b), an American Beer-splosion started. Coors launched Blue Moon, and it's slowly been making it's way into even the seediest of bars. Don't get me wrong, Blue Moon is good (but do we really need more Seasonal's from Coors? Half Moon, Full Moon, New Moon, Dark Moon?)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Summer of Hops 2K10

Hmm... you don't really save much time with "2K10" vs. 2010 do you. Oh well.

I've received my spring order of hops from HomeBrewHeaven.com and they've been planted in the ground next to my one surviving cascade hop plant from last year. This year I decided to go for the... well crap. I just went to check my order receipt and it doesn't say. I guess that shows you how much of a green-thumb I am. Well I believe I went with the Nugget hops this year. I figure I had a (about) 6% Cascade hop, and that I'd go for a strong bittering hop. According to homebrewheaven it grows well in all climates (since Florida isn't exactly ideal).

My little hop garden. I also picked up some coir rope for the hops to grow on, but I'll get that in place in the coming weeks. I have to note, and I hate to say it because I like HomeBrewHeaven (they have fantastic prices on a big ol' bayou pot with a pre-installed spigot on it). I wasn't too happy with the rhizomes I got. I ordered two and I was expecting to get the usual beefy rhizomes, but the one was pretty disappointing. I suppose it did have a white bud coming off it, but it was about 1/8" to 1/4" at it's thickest. The rhizomes I've gotten in the past have been more around 1/2" to 3/4". Oh well.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy birthday Mr.... Presidente?

So I'm digging in the memory banks a little for this one, so for those who are involved please cut me some slack. When I was in college my roommates got together and went to one of their home towns in Ecuador. They came back raving about this beer, Presidente. This was back before my complete obsession with the whole culture of beer tasting and such, so I didn't really pay much attention to it. But for weeks they wouldn't stop talking about the damn beer, and kept asking me to go to the import store to find it. Well it wasn't there, at least not where I was looking.

So here I am this past weekend, in Miami with a friend to watch a tennis tournament. We had some down time in the evening and spent cruising around South Beach having a drink here and there. We stopped at this Mexican restaurant, and he mentioned this beer and promptly ordered two pints. I was looking forward to trying this stuff my roommates raved so much about.

I was delightfully surprised. And please excuse my lack of detail, because I dont have a pint in front of me like I typically do. But this beer is wonderfully crisp and smooth. If you're looking for a lot of hops or a complex flavor, your barking up the wrong cerveza. This beer is a great example of a simple pilsner and is perfect when you're sitting on the beach and you need a refreshing drink.

Or two. Or three. Four, or Five. As it may be.