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Friday, March 24, 2017

Buy this book! Read it! Enjoy it! Or else!

 Years ago, I found myself unemployed, again. I wasn't able to find anyone willing to hire me, so I decided to try and find a way to generate my own income. I found I wasn't too bad at putting words together, so I decided to become a freelance writer.

For the next five years, I wrote for local businesses; brochures, ad copy, manuals. I didn't make a lot of money, and I eventually gave it up to become a restaurant manager. But, I did make money, and at that time, that was all I needed to do.

One result of that exercise was a soft spot in my heart for anyone who tries their hand at wordsmithing. One such person is my friend, Will Siss, teacher, reporter, beer drinker, author.




 

I was surprised and pleased to see that Will had written a book on Connecticut beers.




http://www.amazon.com/Connecticut-Beer-American-Will-Siss/dp/1626197938/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430546112&sr=8-1&keywords=will+siss


 As with many books of this type, it was probably out-of-date before it came out. But, it gives a nice overview of the brewing scene in our state, which is surprisingly healthy. I've read it, and I'll recommend it to anyone.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What Are We?

I just cut the cord. We sent the cable boxes back, hooked up an internet streamer, and installed a bunch of free channels. We save almost $100 a month. Admittedly, there's a bunch we can't watch. It's hard to find a baseball game. But, there's a lot I wasn't even aware of.

Among these are science shows, and one of these posed a question that is really sticking with me. What is consciousness? What is it that makes me, me? How do you explain the feeling that I'm in charge, and not just reacting to stimuli? How do you define, or describe, an inner life?

For most religions, it's easy. You simply separate the physical from the spiritual. The spirit, the soul, is where all the "me-ness" is. It's harder for science, because you can't find anything to grasp, or measure.

I know why this is on my mind so much. My dad died a little over a year ago. Where is he? Is he gone forever? Is he in heaven, or that other place, or some undefined afterlife? What happens when we die? What happens to "me"? What has happened to all the "me"'s who have ever lived?

There's also my own age. I'm 63. So many really famous and talented people passed away well before that age. I might live for another 30 or 40 years. I might be gone by the time you read this. Where will I be? Will I be?

I don't know. There are no answers, only questions. I guess I have to be OK with that.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Beer!


As I look over my beer activities for this past week, I notice that two of my favorite things about brewing are both present.

On the one hand, I'm making a beer I've done before. I know what to do, what to expect, and I can look forward to the taste of the beer. There's absolutely nothing wrong with knowing what you're gonna get. That's why McDonald's and Budweiser have such success.
I remember being surprised at how much the yeast influence the flavor. I was told to expect banana and clove in the taste, but I really someone was being a bit snobbish in their evaluation. Then I tasted it. Sonofagun! Banana and clove!
Batch Size2.000 galBoil Size1.750 gal
Boil Time60.000 minEfficiency70%
OG1.062FG1.016
ABV6.0%IBU23.2 (Tinseth)
Color16.8 srm (Morey)Calories (per 12 oz.)206

Fermentables

Total grain: 3.500 lb
NameTypeAmountMashedLateYieldColor
Briess DME - Bavarian WheatDry Extract2.000 lbNoNo95%3.0 srm
Briess - 2 Row Brewers MaltGrain1.000 lbYesNo80%2.0 srm
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 120LGrain8.000 ozYesNo72%120.0 srm

Hops

NameAlphaAmountUseTimeFormIBU
Williamette3.0%1.000 ozBoil60.000 minPellet23.2

Yeast

NameTypeFormAmountStage
Windsor - Hefeweizen Ale YeastWheatDry1.0 tspPrimary











On the other hand, I made  a cream ale, something I always wanted to try, but never got around to. Strange, but I've never used corn in my beer, but some of my old favorites use a lot, and actually have a noticeable corn taste. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this comes out. I liked Genesee Cream Ale, and if I get close, I'll be happy.


Batch Size2.000 galBoil Size1.750 gal
Boil Time60.000 minEfficiency70%
OG1.051FG1.010
ABV5.3%IBU19.2 (Tinseth)
Color4.4 srm (Morey)Calories (per 12 oz.)168

Fermentables

Total grain: 3.500 lb
NameTypeAmountMashedLateYieldColor
Briess - 2 Row Brewers MaltGrain1.000 lbYesNo80%2.0 srm
Briess - Yellow Corn FlakesAdjunct1.000 lbYesNo75%0.8 srm
Briess DME - Pilsen LightDry Extract1.000 lbNoNo95%2.0 srm
Briess - Caramel Malt 10LGrain8.000 ozYesNo76%10.0 srm

Hops

NameAlphaAmountUseTimeFormIBU
Willamette4.5%0.500 ozBoil60.000 minPellet19.2
Willamette4.5%0.500 ozDry Hop0.000 sPellet0.0

Yeast

NameTypeFormAmountStage
Muntons aleAleDry0.500 tspPrimary


In both beers, I did what's called a partial mash. Most of the fermentable sugar comes from malt extract, to save time and space (necessary in a small apartment). But, I also get some sugars, and flavor, from actual grains and enzymes. A very easy way to accompish this is a method called "Brew in a bag". I need no extra equipment, except a big nylon bag, to line my pot.

It adds a couple of hours to my brewing session, but the extra time is well worth it.

Now, I wait. When the yeasties have finished their work, I can bottle, and see how I did.










Friday, January 20, 2017

Another post-Election Thought

I think I have over 170 friends on Facebook. Most, I know personally. A few are "Facebook friends".

This election highlighted something that I sorta knew, but hadn't dwelled on. My friends are from all over the political map. As we got near Election Day, some friends told me I had to vote for Clinton, others insisted Trump was the choice. When I replied I didn't want either one, I was accused of wasting my vote.

My choice didn't win. Did I waste my vote? Well, by that logic, I also wasted my vote on McGovern, Dole, and McCain. Voting for someone who doesn't win is never wasting your vote. Blindly following someone else's lead is.

I don't expect any of you to remember this. I will listen to your arguments. I promise to consider them seriously. But, when I make my choice, it's going to be my choice. I make the choice that I think is best for the country, not to make some silly statement.

The President is not all-powerful. In our system of government, there's only so much he can do alone. And, to think that the other two branches will just allow him to is to sell them very short. Read your history. Our nation survived some pretty terrible Presidents. We'll be OK. And, who knows? Maybe he won't be as bad as we think.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Post-Election Thought

OK, I'm surprised. I didn't think he would run. I didn't think he could win the nomination. I didn't think he had a prayer of becoming President. Good thing I didn't pick politics as a career.

There is a lot about this whole affair I find amusing. There seem to be a lot of people saying what bad, evil, horrible things Trump will do as President. I have but one thing to say. Take it easy.  Don't panic.

But, he's President!

The President can only do so much by himself. To really make substantial changes, he needs approval of Congress. To make a FUNDAMENTAL change, he would have to get the Constitution amended, a most difficult task.

But, Congress is Republican,too!

One of the overwhelming themes of this election year was the intense dislike everyone seems to have for The Donald. Other Presidents have struggled with Congresses of their own party. I'm sure he will, too.

But, you were wrong about everything else!

Well, you have me, there. I can only say that we survived Tyler, Pierce, Fillmore, Buchanan, Nixon, Carter and anyone else you choose. I'm sure we'll survive Trump,too.

So, relax in your easy chair. Pour your favorite adult beverage, and enjoy all the jokes the late-night hosts are even now salivating over.

I promise, I'll get back to beer.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Please Think

I'm voting for Gary Johnson. I've been criticized for this, which is understandable, given the atmosphere surrounding this election. After all, when asked about Aleppo, he didn't know it was a city in Syria. But, compared to the things said or done by Trump and Clinton, I would consider this really minor.

I honestly consider him to be the best candidate. If you disagree, well, that's your right.

Will he win? Probably not.

Is this a protest vote? Absolutely not! I'm not protesting anything, just choosing who I think would make the best President.

I've been told I should choose Clinton, or Trump, because they're better than Trump, or Clinton. That may be true. If I die in my sleep, that's better than dying in a car accident. But, I'm still dead.

I'm not saying vote for Johnson (although I'd like you to). I'm only saying, put some thought into your choice. Pick someone you can actually respect and honor as President. Remember, voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Most Interesting Election Cyle......Ever

If you enjoy politics as a spectator sport, then this the year for you. The Donald, Crooked Hillary, Gary the cannabis CEO, Dr. Stein. This is going to be fun to watch.

I watched a town hall with Jill Stein on CNN last night, and I was impressed. I still intend to vote for Johnson, but in the unlikely event she wins, she would be a President I could respect. That makes two.

I'm very pleased that someone else has picked up the "wasted vote" theme. I find it repugnant that somebody would vote "against" someone, instead of "for" the person they want. I realize full well my vote for Johnson may not help much. But, I didn't vote for Nixon, either. My conscience is clear.