Sunday, February 4, 2007

Adventures on the CTA: Free Coffee!

Yesterday when I got on the bus, I was the only one on it. The bus driver said that she was at the stop early and we had to wait a few minutes. Since we were outside of the 7-11, and since it was nothing degrees F outside, she went in for some coffee. And she gave me a coupon for a free coffee!!

That totally made my day.

Today I brought some of Brew 28 to the Superbowl party. Everyone really liked the beer. The first five minutes of the game was really good too.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Brew #29: India Pale Ale

Today I brewed another Northern Brewer recipe, this one is an India Pale Ale.

This time I tried a few new things. First, I used some software to manage my brew. I purchased the Beer Smith package. Very easy to use, and can even be run under Wine if you don't want to use a Windows machine. The software was especially helpful in doing the multi-stage infusion. It calculated the amount and temperature of water I would need for each step.

This enabled me to do a two stage infusion. The first was at 151 degrees, the second at 165 degrees. I undershot a little, because when I did the first stage, I didn't wait long before taking the temperature. It was 161 F, so I added 2 quarts of cold water. This dropped it considerably, so I'm thinking the temperature was okay after all, but just needed a minute to transfer the heat from the water to the grains.

Beersmith also generates an HTML brew sheet, so I'm going to paste that in here.

#29: Northern Brewer India Pale Ale

Brew Type: All Grain Date: 2/3/2007
Style: English IPA Brewer: Mattox Beckman
Batch Size: 5.00 gal Assistant Brewer:
Boil Volume: 6.00 gal Boil Time: 60 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.0 % Equipment: My Equipment
Actual Efficiency: 55.4 %
Taste Rating (50 possible points): 35.0

Amount Item Type % or IBU
11.50 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 92.0 %
1.00 lb Carafoam (2.0 SRM) Grain 8.0 %
1.00 oz Nugget [13.00%] (60 min) Hops 42.9 IBU
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.50%] (30 min) Hops 11.4 IBU
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.50%] (1 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (10 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
1 Pkgs Thames Valley Ale (Wyeast Labs #1275) Yeast-Ale

Beer Profile
Estimated Original Gravity: 1.066 SG (1.050-1.075 SG) Measured Original Gravity: 1.052 SG
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.016 SG (1.010-1.018 SG) Measured Final Gravity: 1.005 SG
Estimated Color: 5.8 SRM (8.0-14.0 SRM) Color [Color]
Bitterness: 54.3 IBU (40.0-60.0 IBU) Alpha Acid Units: 3.5 AAU
Estimated Alcohol by Volume: 6.5 % (5.0-7.5 %) Actual Alcohol by Volume: 6.1 %
Actual Calories: 226 cal/pint

Mash Profile
Name: Double Infusion, Medium Body Mash Tun Weight: 9.00 lb
Mash Grain Weight: 12.50 lb Mash PH: 5.4 PH
Grain Temperature: 72.0 F Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F
Sparge Water: 1.81 gal Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE

Name Description Step Temp Step Time
Saccrification Add 15.00 qt of water at 169.4 F 153.0 F 60 min
Mash Out Add 8.75 qt of water at 205.7 F 170.0 F 10 min

Mash Notes
Double step infusion - for medium body beers requiring a protein rest. Used primarily in beers high in unmodified grains or adjuncts.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Spiders on the Train!

Normal people, when they go shopping, end up buying shoes or gadgets or cars. Today I bought a tarantula. She's a Pinktoe (Avicularia avicularia) from the look of her, but then she is only six to eight months old. She could turn out to be a he, or she could also turn out to be a Peruvian Pinktoe (Avicularia urticans). Time will tell.

In any event, she's beautiful. Here's a picture:

Pinktoe Tarantula

The photo really does not do justice to the colors. Her abdomen is a reddish purple, her carapace is has a blue metallic tint. And of course, she has pink toes.

One of the attractions of this species is that they are very docile. None of the other four spiders in my collection are handleable, so it's nice to have one that I can bring out. I've also been wanting to learn a few techniques for picking up a tarantula that would work on even more aggressive species, but you need to practice on one that's more compliant. I hope she doesn't mind.

The guy working at the petstore was not too happy when I wanted to look at her. He got the kind of look... well, okay, he got the kind of look most people, including many of my dear friends and family reading this, would get if someone asked them to hold a "giant" spider. (Come on, she's only the size of two quarters end to end. Let me go to my room and get you a real giant spider....) The lady behind the counter who carried herself as a proprietor would had to get it out for him.

Of course, I took her on the train home. This time is was the metra. No constipated people yelling "Yummy yummy!" today. I had to put her in my coat sleeve, a trick I learned from Mrs. Snake the last time I had an adventure in animal transport. Note: she was in a "to-go"-like container. I don't think I would keep a loose spider in my sleeve. Not that I would mind the spider, it's just that it would get out.

She does seem docile when I held her; but she did one surprising thing. Most tarantulas, when they get to the end of your hand, turn around and try the other direction, or else they feel over the edge until they find your other hand waiting for them. This one jumped! Very luckily, I caught her. Definitely will want to keep her over the wood floor or a blanket next time I take her out.

If there is a next time.... One problem is that I have actually managed to develop an allergy to certain kinds of spiders...! I hope she is not one of them.