Sunday, February 08, 2009

Brewing Pics, The Truffle Shuffle, and My 200th Post!

Hello everyone!

Welcome to my 200th blog posting (if you don't count my posts on other blogs, that is). Hooray! I have no big fanfare for this milestone, but that stuff is pretty overrated. Besides, I have other things to talk about!

First off, I promised photos of the beer adventure, so here goes:

Here is the wort happily boiling away on two burners on the stove. There's not a whole lot to do at this step except to just occasionally stir it and sit back and sip some beer. Hey, I can do that!

After boiling the wort for an hour, we needed to cool it off before trying to pour it into the carboy for fermentation, or else we'd have a repeat of the disaster from last week. The helpful guy at the Home Fermenter Center suggested placing the kettle into a sink full of cold water to cool it faster, and it worked quite well.

At one point, Matt took off his shoes, and I sent him to soak smelly feet in the tub because I was worried the wort might absorb some of his raunchy feet smell.

Actually, he's just washing and sanitizing the spanking new carboy. It's too tall to fit under the faucet at our kitchen sink, so we have to use the bathtub faucet. I don't know why Matt put his feet in the tub as well. Maybe he thought we were making wine.

There's the shiny new carboy. It looks just like the old one, except the bottom isn't blown out. Having a bottom that isn't blown out helps it hold liquid more easily.

Once the wort had cooled to the appropriate temperature, we transferred it to the carboy and added the yeast.

Here it is in its new home for one to three weeks. At the top is a rubber stopper with a hose that goes to a small bucket of water. The reason for this is that once the wort begins to ferment, it needs to ventilate. The yeast "eats" the sugars in the wort that was extracted from the barley and oats, and then it "pees" alcohol and "farts" carbon dioxide. I apologize for the scientific terminology in the last sentence. Anyway, the carbon dioxide is emitted as a gas, which takes up more volume than a liquid. So there has to be a way for it to escape, or else it will at least blow the lid off if not completely breaking the glass.

However, we can't just leave the wort exposed to the air since there are nasty things in the air that could ruin the beer, such as bacteria, dust, flies, etc. So with the bucket of water and the hose, the gas bubbles out through the water in the bucket, but the bad stuff can't go through the water and up the hose to get into the carboy! It's brilliant! Not that I invented the concept or anything...

Here's a shot from Saturday morning. I had decided to let the wort ferment in the spare bedroom because I could crank up the heat to 68 degrees and close the door. We might be freezing in the rest of the house, but at least the yeast is comfortable! It turned out to be a good idea because the yeast started going to work right away, as you can see from the foam in the photo. Since the photo was taken, the foam has expanded so much that it's traveled all the way up the hose to the bucket of water, and now the water is brown and smells like stale beer. But it's bubbling faster and more rapidly than any batch I've made yet, which means things are progressing nicely!

If it stops bubbling before this weekend, I might try bottling it then. If not, maybe I'll try in two weeks or so. We'll see.

* * *

Switching gears a bit, today Cathy and I ran walked the Truffle Shuffle. It's a two mile race to raise money for Committed Partners for Youth, which I don't know much about and quite honestly don't care much about. But at the end of the race you get a chocolate truffle, and this was an excuse to get out of the house and do something outside, so we decided to go ahead and give it a go. We had to register, and of course we were given our race numbers.

I like to post photos of myself like these in order to keep me humble. This one is exceptionally terrible. What's with the stupid head tilt? And look at how white and pasty my skin looks! I look as if I've just served 30 days in the hole!

Moving on, we walked the route, and we finished in about 42 minutes, although I think we would have finished sooner if the crowd hadn't been so huge. The first leg was exceptionally slow going because of all the people--the crowd was moving much slower than my usual walking pace--until things began to thin out. But that doesn't really matter all that much. What was important to me was that I finished, and that I didn't finish last. Fortunately there were really old people and a few people in wheelchairs, although even some of them beat me! Cathy would've definitely finished sooner as well if I hadn't been slowing her down with my craptastic knee. But she's a trooper, and so she was willing to slum it with me and the rest of the gimps bringing up the rear.

Had I been thinking, I would've taken a few shots of the race and the crowd. But sometimes I forget the obvious. Oops.

The crowd was an interesting mix, even though there were way too many kids for my taste. But a lot of people brought their dogs, so it all balanced out. There were a few people dressed like truffles, and there was one guy who ran the whole course while also, as far as I could tell, juggling those bowling pin shaped juggling things.

I also had a lot of fun hearing bits and pieces of other people's conversations as we passed each other. Here are my three favorites:
  • "I mean, if you're peeing fire, you should just go see the doctor."
  • "Just because she owns a book, that doesn't make her a witch."
  • "You've doomed her to a lifetime of making fun of round-headed kids."
Eugene is such a great place to overhear strange snippets of conversation. I'm considering submitting these to Overheard Everywhere.

* * *

Anyway, I want to send a hearty thank you to the three or four of you who have kept up with my blog since the beginning and have put up with all 200 of my goofy, sometimes paranoid and/or idiotic rantings. I seriously think about each of you whenever I write, and I'm glad I can share a part of me with you, even if "I'm not getting paid for this."

Let's see if you can stomach another 200...

Rob

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