Monday, October 29, 2012

Magnetic Doughnut

I have emerged on the other side unscathed.

Well, mostly.

I still have my sanity and my health (sort of). My wife hasn't left me. But it's been a long few weeks. I'm not the only one suffering at work, these are just one of those tough times. Could be worse though. I suppose I could be mooching of the government for 70+ weeks (I only mooched for 6 months).

Better crazy busy than crazy unemployed.

But free time has been scarce like hair stylists to Donald Trump's haircut. I haven't gamed in weeks, I'm falling behind on The Walking Dead, and the deadline for me to brew is coming closer and closer. The brew off is December 14th. I have to have a Belgian Dubbel brewed next weekend before I leave for Vegas. Or I'm late like a high school cheerleader's period. Thankfully, a lot of progress has been made into the past 2 weeks.

Controls are all wired up, and this weekend I troubleshooted and cleaned metal shavings from the inside of my kegs. Figured those would work themselves through the G.I. so well. I'm calling R2-DBREW 99% complete right now. All she needs is a few cosmetic zip ties and we're good to go.

Troubleshooting went better than expected. A few things were wired backwards. Two connections had slipped. Two copper joints leaked badly. One valve was installed backwards. Finally, I learned something about my pump.

So pumps have impellers right? Impellers are these rotating things that look like a squished spider from the top down. They take (in this case) water and fling it out the other side. The whole point of these March beer pumps is that they're food safe. The actual motor, with all its' oilyness and bearings are separate from the impeller housing. How does the motor spin the impeller? Effectively with a magnetic doughnut. Doughnut, connected to the motor, spins the impeller using magnetism. They're separated by a thin sheet of metal. Well apparently that magnetic doughnut is exposed to the outside. Once you mount it on your brewing rig, call it a day, then proceed to drill holes in metal above it... bad things happen. By showering little (hot) metal shavings over the motor like fireworks ashes on the 4th of July, that magnetic doughnut sucks those shavings in like a Dyson with a mission. Those metal shavings bind that motor up quick, causing you to have to take the entire thing apart.

Thankfully the pump was probably the hardest part of my troubleshooting. I should be good for next weekend. If not, I'm screwed. I need a beer bubbling next weekend.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Perfect Storm

Seems the rough times just keep on trucking!

I've got the perfect storm of situations here. I've got a brewing competition on December 14th that I have to have a Belgian Dubble ready for. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, except that my brewing system is in a million different pieces right now making a Decepticon like transformation into R2-DBREW. Backtracking that means the last weekend I could brew is, ideally, November 9th.

Right. November 9th. I'll be on a plane flying back from my awesome week-long vacation in Vegas, so that pushes my brewing date back to November 3rd-ish.

Oh, but wait, I said that my brewery still isn't finished. Right. Backtracking that, allotting time for troubleshooting, I have to be finished the weekend of October 28th, ready to brew the next weekend. Shouldn't be a problem, I've got plenty of time! The weekends. Probably got an hour a day during the week. Right? RIGHT?

WRONG. One of my coworkers quit, and now I'm handling his projects. A good bump in responsibility for me. But with a major project deadline looming on the 22nd, and a myriad of other smaller projects with due dates peppered between now and then, I've got a negative amount of time during the weeks. What's negative? That means the time I need to work + the time I need to relax + the time I need to sleep is greater than the allotted 24 hours in a day. Woohoo.

Right, and there's a deadline strategically placed the week I'm in Vegas. Have to get that done a week early as well.

What does this mean? Things are crazy. I've got a lot of things on my mind. I'm spending a lot of time on the weekend getting R2-DBREW done. While I spend time with my wife hanging out, watching our favorite crime scene dramas and the Yankees getting hammered harder than a frat boy during senior week, I am multitasking by stripping wires and wiring up my control box for the system. My hands are getting calluses from gripping and ripping those tiny pieces of insulation off the end of the wires. I'm almost done with the box itself at this point and I have over 40 feet of wire crammed into this little control box. But it looks great...

I'm getting very close to the end of the project and I'm getting a little nervous. Things could go wrong. Plug in my box and fry something. Hook up the water and it's spraying out of all the joints. Flames keep shooting out of where they aren't supposed to... For now, I'll just sit and enjoy the boot of beer my wife just poured me.

How awesome is that.

R2-DBREW... 85% done.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Beereview: Sam Adam's Thirteenth Hour

For one who's never been a huge fan of Samuel Adam's, I've sure been writing a lot about it lately. I guess that happens when you visit a brewery. While I was there I managed to pick up some bottles of their "Barrel Room Collection," which is a unique collection of Belgian style beers that are only sold in their breweries. Some time ago I tried the "New World" which is a Belgian Tripel. New world was a great beer, good body, and on the easy side (relative to tripels) to drink. Not too long ago I tried the "American Kriek," which is aged over some fancy cherries. I'm not one for fruit and beer, and in turn, I thought the beer was awful. I wish I would have known that ahead of time, and I would've given it to someone to drink and I'd keep the bottle. The wife and I couldn't handle it though, and it was... this is even hard for me to say... dumped.

Today I have the "Thirteenth Hour," a dark stout, Belgian style. This beer will complete my trifecta of Barrel Room Collection beers on my shelf. The beer pours black, but not as thick as I would have expected. It looks more like a porter right now than it does a stout. The head is thick, but not creamy like a stout would be. The aroma is great, with some Belgian wine notes, and some roasty coffee aromas. The beer itself is complex. The first sip comes across with the strong Belgian beer taste, as would a St. Bernardus or a Delirium Noctorum (my spellchecker hates this post). It's sweet, bordering on a flavor not unlike a barleywine. Finally, last and not least, are the coffee and roasted notes mentioned on the bottle.

Not a bad beer. I can't say it's one of my favorites, but they really captured the essence of what they were trying to accomplish, creating a Belgian style stout. I think it's more of a Belgian style porter myself. Regardless I'll definitely be finishing this bottle, probably slowly sipping in front of the tube playin' Borderlands 2 the rest of the afternoon.

R2-DBREW is finally nearing completion. I finished the keg fit-out yesterday, and I'm going to proceed starting the control box. I'm still debating whether to go ahead and add the plate chiller now or later, and I have to figure out how I want to do that. Status today? 70%.

Let me know what you think about this beer! Or what kind of chiller you think is best! We love to hear from you. Thanks for reading!