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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Homebrew: An Explaination

A lot of what I say on the air is just for fun.  Well, ok, I'm lying. SOME of what I say on the air is just for fun, and it rides the line between what I'm about and what I think will get a reaction.  I'm not racist, but I do operate off of stereotypes, and I think those lines are fairly blurry.  If you really think about it and stop worrying about feeling guilty, you'll come to the same conclusion.

Specifically I'm talking about homebrew, today.  We can discuss my shitty views on race another day (though if one group isn't supposed to win, they shouldn't call it a race ...), today I want to address Homebrew.  I bad mouth homebrew a lot on the show.  Is it for fun?  Profit?  Just to be a dick?  Well, yeah.  And so much more.

If you are really honest with yourself and think back to the last homebrew club meeting or NHC.  Really try to remember how the beer tasted then.  Remove the fact that you or your friends made it, or that you have any ties to the hobby at all.  Would you buy that beer? 90% of the time the answer is "No", but a "No" said through a rising column of bile deep in your throat.

Ok, stop being offended and let me explain.  Just because something is bad does not mean it is without merit.  I like homebrewing, and I do it often.  I think the hobby is a good one and it promotes learning about biology and science and all that stuff.  Even if the product can be ... less than stellar.

I just tasted two homebrews, sent to me by two homebrewers who listen to the show.  One happened to be a clone of my oatmeal stout.  Both were good beers, with some flaws.  But even with those flaws they were above and beyond most things I have at homebrew gatherings.  Why is that?  I really want to know.  Why do people insist on bringing their contaminated beer to events?  They have a club, does their club just not say anything?  Do they not know?

Drinking these beers made me realize that there is a lot of beer out there, and regardless if it's good or bad, people are trying hard to make things they don't normally see from a commercial brewery.  Whether or not that is a good thing remains to be seen.  But next time you hear me go on about how homebrew sucks, I hope you can cut me some slack, and also realize that I'm probably right.

some people are having a hard time understanding my point.  Greg.  And I get that - most times I am just shooting from the hip, without an outline or bullet points or even a clue as to what I'm saying.  Which is why I picked the name I did for this blog.  Most of these posts are just written thoughts. Anyway, I'm not saying homebrewing is bad and you shouldn't do it.  I'm saying that there are shitty homebrews going around the world, and we are afraid to say that.  The beers I had today were pretty ok, but they were trying to get better, and that is the point - improve.  Or not.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Understanding Your Place

I had intended to write about the latest hullabaloo in craft beer the other day, which is, if you don't already know, that thread on some beer site about which breweries are overrated.  I won't bother with the link, because you have already read/heard about it, I'm sure.  To make a long story short, some dude was calling out breweries for not living up to the hype.  Fair argument.  Having done this myself on more than one occasion, I didn't think much of it.

But man, did people ever freak out about this!  One brewer after another started posting about where this guy went wrong, how hurtful this is to craft beer, and blah blah frigging blah.  I left it alone, assuming it was one moment in time, and would pass faster than it had started.  Then comes Jim ...

Jim Koch, from Samuel Adams, decided to put his dog in this fight and speak up about how unfair it is to be called overrated (read his deal here).  First Sam from Dogfish jumped in with his speech (it's not on his blog, so Im not linking other shitty beer sites that took it and posted it - but find it, it's worth the read), and now Jim.  To make it easier, I'll just address them both ... ahem ...

Guys - there is a phenomena on the internet called "Trolling".  People who are trolling are called "Trolls".  Their only purpose behind posting is to make people mad.  They want to bait people into conversations and responses that they would normally not even think about.  You guys were trolled in that post.  Hard.  Like, SuperTrolled.  Do you really think that your comments on how innovative your beers are will change anyones minds on your beer/product/brand?  Sam, your post was just an advertisement for your beers.  Jim, I liked yours, but it just said how mad you were and how much you like Sam.  No offense, but Big Hairy Deal.  Who cares?  The thing you have to learn about internet trolls (as opposed to those who live under bridges) is that if they get ignored, they go away.  You have to be confident enough in your product to take a punch from some nobody on a lame forum and continue walking.  Instead, you both let this dude grind your day to a halt while you penned a response that really lacked any sort of real focus or point.  This is why trolls are trolling - to get these soft responses and to laugh at them.  You feed the troll.  Never feed the trolls.

Ok, so that's out of the way.  Here's my opinon: bitching is great.  It's good from your fans, it's good for your brand, it's just a good thing.  I never understood that whole "support craft beer simply because it exists" attitude that most craft beer fans seem to have.  If the beer is good, it will sell.  If not, it will die out and leave us alone.  Right? So why the need to have ALL beer be equal?  It never will be.  Understanding that, we can then turn to marketing.  Some breweries are known more for their marketing than their beer.  I won't name any names, you all know who they are.  When you have a rad marketing campaign, you are already setting yourself up for be judged at a much higher level than other beers in your range. And, sorry to say it, but you may not live up to your marketing hype in some eyes.

I like beer.  Love it, even.  But there are beers that I feel are overrated by the general public.  Doesn't mean I'm right, doesn't mean I'm wrong.  And if I wanted to, I could post them here and feel totally fine in expressing my opinons.  Which is what that dude did on that lame forum.  So WHY all the beef?  These craft brewers are getting all over a beer guy for what - putting them down a peg?  It's the adult equivalent of "No YOU are smelly!" "No ...YOU are the one who is that thing you just called me to my face!"

The whole thing is stupit.   Yes, I said STUPIT.

Beer makers should really feel ok with hearing bad things about their beers.  Ignore the fluff and accept the rest.  The last thing you want to do, though, is to make a long-winded post in response.  It makes you look silly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Both of my hens are now starting to lay eggs, though one is firing them out more often than the other. Lucretia is being a bitch, while Butterworth is quietly going to town, providing me with about an egg a day.  Awersome!

They have been eating mostly pellet feed - a mishmash of vitamins, plant protein, and whatever else chickens eat (souls?), and I wanted to give them some other stuff to eat as well.  Some digging around and I found this rad chart from backyardchickens.com that has what to feed them and what not to feed them.  It's good info and can really be summed up to this: birds will eat most anything, so don't give them things you wouldn't eat yourself.  In case you like details, here's the link to the Chicken Treat Chart.  

This post written while listening to some old shite ... 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hidden Flavors

I like this title.  I wanted to call it "How Does Your Draft System Taste?", but all I could picture in my mind is a fat 40-year-old on his knees in the garage, head in the fridge, tongue running over the side of a 5 gallon corny keg.  So I went with "Hidden Flavors".

The purpose of this post is not to inform, but simply to suggest an experiment to find out if it's possible to track down flavors in your beers that may not come from fermentation, or contamination, but from your draft system.  Now, I realize that how clean your keg is will directly impact the flavor of your beer, but I'm talking about flavors that you might consider as your house flavor.  Maybe you have tasted some dry, musty thing in your beer and chalked it up to wild yeast.  Maybe some plastic, honey-like flavor and figured it was ingredient based.

I got thinking about this recently because I started to carbonate water in one of my2.5 gallon kegs.  Not everyone digs on water with bubbles, especially if it has no booze in it.  But I drink so much of it I figure I can just do it myself.  So I cleaned a keg, dumped some filtered water in there, and hit it with gas for a couple of weeks. I had to go buy a new faucet assembly for it, because I didn't want my water to taste like beer.

When I took my first sip of my newly carbonated water, I tasted a flavor similar to my beers. I'm not sure why - could be the way I clean my kegs, could be the new faucet assembly.  I was tasting a slight musty flavor, with a plastic note from what I imagine is the faucet assembly.  Which kind of shocked me, because it was made from draft line that was not supposed to leach any flavors.   My drinking water doesn't taste like this at all, so why does my kegged water?  I think I clean my equipment well enough.  My beer is good.  But clearly I was getting a flavor in  my beers that I couldn't place normally, until I took out all of the other ingredients except the water and the CO2.

So this is my challenge to you: clean your keg, filter your water, and put it on gas.  See what flavors you get from that - do they show up in your beer?  They did in mine.  What am I going to do about it?  I have no idea.  But I'd like to hear from anyone who does this.  It really sort of opened my eyes to really how much my draft system impacts my beer.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Chicken Update

More than a few of you have been asking for an update on my chickens, and I haven't been doing one simply because my birds are boring.  They hadn't laid eggs, all they do is get fat and eat - until a few days ago when one of them finally popped out their first egg!

We had been having this new issue, where the girls would knock their water feeder around so hard it would spill all the water out, which meant we would have to fill the stupid thing a coupe times a day to ensure they had enough water. On New Years Eve night, my girlfriend goes out to water them and comes back yelling "Egg!"  At first I thought she was making an inappropriate but hilarious joke about her egg, but then I caught on and ran outside with her to see the most glorious sight - a small brown egg lying in the dirt.

I grabbed it (it was still warm!) and we skipped inside to check the thing out.  Up until that point, the birds had been with us since the first part of May.  Hens are able to being laying around their 22nd week, but some can take up to 10 months, not to mention most shut down egg production during the winter.  So we were sort of getting used to not seeing any output from them, which is why the egg got us more excited than it should have.  Plus we were drunk.

After a debate on if we should eat it ( I wasn't sure if the first egg would be some nasty warm-up try or not), we cracked it and dropped it into a pan.  The aroma was strong, much more so than the "cage-free organic" eggs we currently buy.  It's hard to explain, but it was almost musky smelling.  Farmhouse-like.  And the flavor was intense!  Unlike any egg I have had before.

Then - two days later, another one!  Same size - small - but it was an egg!  Proof that our birds are doing something, which is all you really want after months of buying feed, giving them treats like worms and things, cleaning up their poop.

Mrs. Butterworth and her egg.
  Anyway, that is the latest from Chicken Town.  I have the second egg in the fridge, waiting for Saturday morning when I can fry that sucker up and truly enjoy the second most expensive egg I have ever had.