Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Happy Birthday to ME

You may have already read my post a few weeks ago. This upcoming weekend is the Philly Craft Beer festival. To say I'm excited is an understatement. I've already gone through some game plans. I've got to bring my laptop to take notes. I'll have my iPhone to take notes on the fly, and even voice recording if need be. I'll have a stack of business cards at my disposal. I'm ready to schmooze with some brewers. I think my true success will be diligently alternating my samples of beer with samples of water. I don't see any other way to start drinking at noon and make it through 80 breweries AND to nightfall (at least). I just don't have the spunk that I used to in my college days I guess. I would expect next weeks post to be late. Earliest a Tuesday post.

On other news, I have an exciting announcement to make. For the longest time, ATOTB has gone largely unchanged. We've added a few extras here and there, but nothing too exciting. I'd like to announce the beginning of a new series of posts called the "Brew Crew." I've tossed around the idea in my head to enlist a few people to write an article sporadically. If I get 3 or 4, I should be able to have a fairly regular posting schedule. Well, so far I've got one, but he's stoked and ready to go. You'll see his first post this Friday! So stay tuned. The plan is to have regular Friday posts, but in the beginning it's not going to be so regular.

Here's another preview of an upcoming post. I just finished my forced flow line cleaner, but haven't had the time or chance to test it out yet. Right now it just looks like a pile of parts in a bucket. Once I give it a shot, I'll give it a full write up.

Wish me luck at my beer fest! And stay tuned for our inaugural Brew Crew post!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Digital Menu

So I'm sitting at work today, engineering my butt off. Doing an amazing job as usual. Then a link pops up from a friend. The link contained something amazing. The kind of thing that gets me all excited inside.

What? Not what you were expecting? Get your mind out of the gutter. I was at work people!

First lets introduce you to Raspberry Pi. No, it's not a nerdy version of a baking recipe. It's a tiny open source computer that's taking the programming and DIY open source community by storm. Yeah Arduino is pretty cool, but the Raspberry Pi is a whole computer... for only $35. The stats on the computer are not out of this world, at 512 MB of memory and a 700 MHZ processor, it's still faster than something you might have paid over $1,000 in the late nineties. The idea is that it's cheap, and you can program it however you want. The only limit is your imagination (as long as you're not trying to create some supercomputer mega-cluster). Projects include time lapse photography devices, a web server, a digital frame, and an arcade cabinet to name a few (source). 

So why NOT apply it to beer? I've been wanting one of these things for a while. I didn't even know what I'd use it for. I know it's something I could spend hundreds of my DIY hours diving in to. But now... Now it has a purpose! ShrodingersDrunk over at Reddit has created his own Raspberry Pi device for his fancy kegerator that provides a list of beers on tap. Like a true do it yourself-er however, the project is never finished. While he's cleaning up the interface of the current program he has future goals. Step one, be able to touch a beer and pull up the recipe and tasting notes. Step two, to be able to tell how many beers are left in the keg (weight measuring? maybe).

I must do it. I will do it. First, acquire screen. From time to time my company gives away some of their old hardware. I've never been in the market, but I know a few people who will take any free technology available to them. I imagine I can hit up one of these guys for a cheap monitor.

Second, get Pi. Then learn Pi. Learn the programming. Learn how to plug the little %@#* in.

Third, hook up monitor. Stare blankly at the monitor while the monitor blankly stares back. Figure out how to make awesome.

After a few weeks of this, attempt to sleep.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Glass Blast

If you haven't figured it out already, I'm not a purist by any stretch of the definition. There's a thing to be said about diminishing returns. If there's a drop of beer left in the cup when you go to fill it with a different beer? So what? The solution is dilution. It wont make a difference. I'm not saying mix beers half and half, but a drop won't throw of a pint of beer.

In some ways, it's the same with glasses. Most of my glasses are the standard "pint" glass. There's really nothing special about the traditional pint glass. It's meant to serve a pint of beer, and that's about it. I don't usually make it a point to pull a special glass for a certain kind of beer.

It does have it's merits however. Good glassware is key to fully appreciating a beer. Some glasses present aroma, some allow for the release of carbonation, others for delivering mass quantities to its owner. I came across this article in the LA Times this week. They've come up with a brand new glass for India Pale Ales, the beer which is currently making waves in the nation. The local hipster would tell you they liked it before it became popular. Feel free to punch him in his dumb looking glasses and hang him from his trendy scarf.

Let's go over a few glasses, shall we?

Your Pint Glass is your standard beer delivery device. Every bar has them. If you haven't held one, I doubt you've ever had a beer from the tap. There's nothing special to see here really, open top lets out aroma, thick sides prevent your hands from warming the glass too quick.

This is the Pilsner Glass. Typically taller, but will contain a little less beer. Used for Pilsner, the tall glass accentuates the color, clarity, and carbonation of the beer, while the wider top will maintain a good head. A new trend as of late features laser etching (nucleation site) at the bottom of the glass for a place for bubbles to start forming. It creates a nice effect for these typically high carbonated beers.

A Snifter is probably the most fun glass to pronounce. It also has a hint of a snobby background. Typically used by British rich folk to drink Brandy (stored in a globe) while planning the next battle strategy. Really though, the snifter has its applications with your typically high gravity and thick beers like Barleywines and Imperial anythings. The wide bowl with narrow top traps the aromatics, gives you plenty of room for swirling (releasing more aroma). On top of that, when you hold it in the palm of your hand, the warmth of your hand causes the release even more aroma. 

Welcome the new IPA Glass! Thanks to the help of some of the leading hop heads like Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head) and Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada), the company Spiegelau has delivered this new glassware. The ridges in the sides are meant to aerate the beer, making it release extra aroma. The slender shape amplifies the aroma into a hop smokestack. The wide opening also lends to shoving your nose into the glass for, once again, more aroma. Even the material the glass is made out of is meant to sustain a good head and carbonation.

DAS BOOT (Actually 'The Boat' in German). Probably the most unique and most likely to make someone scratch their head. The boot is a peculiar thing, and the history of it has a few interpretations. The one I like the most is a German general promised his troops he would drink beer from his boot if they were successful. The general kept his promise by getting a glass maker to make a glass boot and drink from that. I've heard these boots being anywhere from a half liter up to 3 liters. What other purpose can this have other than to promote drinking mass quantities of beer??? DRINK UP!!

Have a favorite glass you'd like to talk about? Let us know! Post below!

Monday, February 4, 2013

What Not to Bring to a Superbowl Party

The lack of postage and update this past few weeks is unprecedented. I mentioned the other week that I was down and out with a cold (apparently the flu?) the entire weekend, not beer induced. Well last weekend was a hundred percent beer induced. Had the yearly Monster Jam man outing. PBR came out in full force. I hadn't fully recovered until Tuesday morning. I don't spring back like I used to I guess.

In reference to my slippery fingers, I just transferred my beer to the secondary about an hour ago. The x'fer was over 2 weeks late, due to my... Sub optimal health the past few weekends. At least Monster Jam was fun... I had been pretty worried, because the lagerator had a pretty foul, bitter smell to it. I took a good whiff while transferring and I think we're OK.

But now I sit watching decent commercials interrupted by some sweaty guys slamming into each other while throwing some balls around.

Hmm maybe that doesn't sound right.

The power just went out in the stadium and now they're trying to figure out how to fill the time. I'd hate to be the maintenance guy being chewed out right now because he forgot to replace the 10 year old fuse on the disconnect regularly.

But then I thought, what would you bring to a superbowl party? What would be devastating to a superbowl party? Here's my short list...

To bring to a Superbowl Party:
1) PBR - Or really any cheap light beer. The Superbowl is the pinnacle of cheap beer. There is no other event (save memorial day weekend or any college fraternity party) where the low quality beer comes out in droves like this. This is the perfect application.

2) Yuengling - If you want to pretend to be fancy, bring some Yeungling. Better yet, bring it in cans. Nothing like shotgunning a can of Pennsylvania beer that sounds like it was made in China screams class like that.

3) Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - This is toeing the line of being too fancy for a Superbowl party. It might very well be too fancy. But if you're beer snob friends happen to also watch football, this may be a good choice.

Do NOT bring to a Superbowl Party:
A) Stone Beer - I love Stone. That being said, walking into your party with a case of Double Bastard will certainly get you some WTF looks. Sure people will be curious. But when they try to pound a bottle of double bastard and don't get past a mouthful, the beer will start getting lonely in the corner of the fridge.

B) Dogfish 90 Minute - Lets say you have some IPA lovers. So you've got some Stone IPA, Hopsecutioner, maybe the Sierra Nevada mentioned above. Your friends are half lit, and you switch the beer with a few 6 packs of 90 minute IPA. I give it 90 minutes after that before your buddy is past out under the tree in the backyard.

C) Guiness - lets face it. Hardcore tailgaters and rednecks shy away from Guiness like Republicans on gay pride day at Disney. It just doesn't go over well.

Got any suggestions? Please feel free to post below!