Archive for March, 2010

Itis Burger v3.0

To understand what this post is even about, you need to understand “The Itis.” To do so, there is really no better way than watching the episode of The Boondocks titled “The Itis.” For a synopsis of this episode, you could always just hit up Wikipedia. In short, when you eat a lot of food and drift off into a sleep not even an explosion can rattle you have “The Itis.”

My best friend, Jordan, and I have been on a quest for the perfect version of The Itis Burger for several months. Each time we change the recipe, I increment my version number. Last night saw version three enter the world. Several people were coming over to watch UFC 111, and I intended to make us all have a battle of our own. A battle against the itis.

Armed with some bison meat, grass-fed beef, bacon, onions, green bell peppers, sliced white mushrooms, baby spinach, whole wheat kaiser rolls, and some Sierra Nevada Porter and Spice brown mustard I set the stage for this battle. Some sausage made it onto the grill with my burger patties, and was also eaten with the burgers. A glorious fight it was. Everyone eating one of the full itis burgers had to take a break, or risk losing to the itis immediately.

The next version will also have at least three meats, and more than one kind of cheese.

Itis3

The Itis Burger v3.0

Adventure Ale

It’s been a while since my last brewday, and my good friend Joesph came to town for a few days, so I decided to fix that little problem. A few weeks ago, I decided an IPA would be my next style. Today’s brew, however, is more an Adventure Ale. Why is it an Adventure? I have no idea what is even in it, beyond the hops.

I took a drive down to DeFalco’s, and again spent more than I planned. Two one-gallon glass carboys, with stoppers and airlocks, came home with me. I also picked up a stopper to use when I finally start bottling from the keg. Whoever helped me at DeFalco’s took off grabbing ingredients when I said I wanted to brew an IPA. I failed to get an ingredient list, and I certainly did not get what is in any of their recipe kits online, so beyond knowing I used 1.5 ounces of Columbus hops, an ounce of Centennial hops, and an ounce of Cascade hops – I really couldn’t tell you what I did.

Brewday

Support materials

Given that I had no idea what was in the specialty grain bag, I just took a SWAG and heated 2 gallons of water to 150°F and steeped for 25 minutes. I definitely got color from the specialty grains, a very dark amber. Anyway, from there I brought my volume up to 6 gallons and stirred in my unknown amount of liquid malt extract (I also don’t know which variety LME I used, I seem to recall seeing pilsner on the side of the barrel it came out of, but who knows). Once everything was dissolved, I kicked up the heat and brought things to a heavy boil.

Steeping Grains

Steeping Grains

After the foam dropped, in with an ounce and a half of Columbus hops. 40 minutes later, an ounce of Centennial went in, and at flame out an once of Cascade. Something, that’d be my tongue, tells me this was entirely too much alpha acid. Entirely. Too. Much. Makes for good pictures though.

Columbus Hops

Columbus Hops

All things considered, I will be very surprised if this beer ends up being drinkable at all. That said, it wasn’t a complete waste. Joseph got to experience a brewday and see how things generally go together and make beer. Carrie got to participate too, via Skype, by telling me just how much fun it was to watch “brown water boil.” I will leave the fermenter in the closet, and keep an eye on things, but I am not expecting to get a good beer out of this. Time will tell.

Flickr Slideshow

Another trip to Austin…

… another good time with friends. Tuesday night, I rode drove into Austin to hang out for a few days before resuming the joys of cal2 and physics. Since mid-afternoon is always an excellent time to throw back a few cold ones, I linked up with my friends Joseph and Eric. You could have stuck a fork in me long before evening was official, I was done.

If you’re wondering, a power-hour is generally a bad idea all by itself. Attempt a power-hour with Dale’s Pale Ale (6.5% alcohol, and perhaps the best beer one can purchase in a can) and you will be sorry. Once we’d called it quits on the power-hour it was time to share some of my homebrewed American Amber Ale. That went well. I still have a few bottles left, but not many.

The fun times Tuesday night did not bode well for St. Patty’s Day. Let’s just say I have felt better, though I’ve also felt far worse. I still managed to pick Carrie up and have a few drinks at The Ginger Man in Austin before I had to throw in the towel. At least I managed to get some homework done and see the Austin Martinez crew.

Thursday, I met up with my friend Val at Pure on 6th street. Yes, Pure. Apparently, during SXSW everyone has to put on some live music. Val’s boyfriend was playing with his band, which was pretty good. I won’t go awarding Pure for having an excellent sound setup, because I’d have to lie to do that. Basically all they did was throw some speakers on the upstairs dancefloor and call it a stage. Promotion seemed, at least judging by the total lack of patrons, to be lacking as well. I can understand that, because exactly nobody I know hears Pure and thinks “great venue!” Most hear Pure and think “hipster overload.”

My Thursday plans changed in the middle of the day and prompted me to drive down to San Marcos to see other friends and update some things on my little sister’s computer. Great idea. It cost me $116.65 to fix my sister’s computer. Not because there was anything wrong with it, but because my truck was towed from her apartment complex. That really pissed me off, so I just headed back to Houston. When I got home, the Yamaha dealer was kind enough to call me and tell me I could come pick my FJR up.

Keezer = Built!

For a while now, I have been talking about building a “keezer.” If you do not know what that is, allow me to explain. A keezer is a beverage dispensing device housed within a chest-style freezer. Mine serves beer, from 5 gallon soda kegs via two Perlick 525SS faucets. All of the plumbing, kegs, and beer serving hardware for this project came from Jeff over at kegcowboy.com. You might be able to find a better deal somewhere, though I sure couldn’t, but you will not find a nicer guy to do business with. If it has anything to do with kegging, my money is going to Keg Cowboy for sure.

The build was actually quite simple, and can be done for far less than I spent on mine. Impatience won out, and I ended up converting a brand new chest freezer rather than scouring classifieds in search of one that wasn’t three tanks of gas away. In short, get a refrigeration device, some kegs, a temperature controller, faucets, a CO2 system, and plumbing for your fluids. Drill some holes for your faucets and hook up your plumbing. Serve beer.

Perlick 525SS faucets

Perlick 525SS faucets

You didn’t really think I was going to leave it at that, did you?

In the interest of not having to post every single image, I’ll do another slideshow, but first a brief rundown of how everything happened.

First, I bought a G.E. chest freezer from Home Depot, along with some sheet metal for my drip tray, black appliance paint, and some textured paint for the collar. I also bought wood to make the collar (a spacer to increase the vertical clearance inside the freezer – and keep me from having to drill through the side of the freezer). When I got that home, I took the lid off the freezer and sanded the whole freezer.

Building the collar was easy, as I already had the dimensions for the top of the freezer and had the 2′x4′ piece of plywood cut when I bought it. Butt joints won today, and were covered up with wood filler and sanded smooth. Just like it never happened. Since I was mounting the lid to the top of the collar, I decided to reinforce where the lid would attach by gluing and screwing another board in at the mounting point. Insulation was next, adhered by my friend Liquid nails. A few moments with a measuring tape and pencil and I had center marks for my faucet holes. Once all of that was finished, I hit the whole collar with sandpaper and washed it off to apply some cool looking textured paint.

While the collar was drying, I hit the freezer with a few coats of black appliance paint. Sadly I got rushed, a little high (from the fumes, people), and ended up with some drips here and there. Attempting to fix those later was an exercise in failure. Sanding a thick, hard, epoxy paint doesn’t work so well. If only I had a sandblaster. Anyway, it still looks pretty decent so I finished the build by drilling a hole for my temperature controller and leaving the probe in a bottle of water. It won’t get cold enough to freeze the bottle, so I didn’t bother with glycol or anything like that.

The only thing that is incomplete, as of this posting, is my drip tray. I bent, with a hammer, sheet metal in to a box and sealed the corners up. Right now, paint is drying. Tomorrow I plan to mount the drip tray to the keezer and post up a final photo. I do have my keg of German Kölsch on tap #1 at this very moment, and do believe it’s a perfect time to go pour myself a glass.

Flickr Slideshow

German Kölsch = Kegged

A few days ago I picked up a homebrew kegging setup from Keg Cowboy. Today, I put them to use after getting my CO2 tank filled at Katy Propane. Kegging took far less time from start to finish than bottling.

I took the kegs apart, cleaned everything, replaced the O-rings, and then treated both with some more of my 12.5ppm Iodophor solution. From there the process was a lot like bottling. My priming solution (1/3 cup corn sugar in a cup of water) was added to one of the cleaned and sanitized kegs, and I siphoned the beer from my fermenter to the keg. I did manage to make a pretty huge mess, but I’ll solve that problem with a longer section of tubing before I keg another beer. Now that one of the kegs has beer conditioning inside, I’ve got a week or two to actually finish my keezer build. Better get a move on it.

Kegs and Carrie

Kegs + Carrie

Return top