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Friday, September 21, 2012

Some Days It Pays Not to Leave The Couch

Today was the day, folks.  The day that I re-open my little shitty beer brewery and start brewing again. I usually stop in the Summer months because I hate sitting in the heat, and I cannot get my conical fermenter down much past 25 degrees below ambient.  And since I typically ferment in the low 60's, I figure it's just time to give my house a rest from the homebrew, you know?  Sure you do ...

Brewing a beer for Can You Brew It is always a treat, as it means free ingredients from the best homebrew shop around, Northern Brewer.  Since they sponsor the show and have practically every ingredient known to man, they are kind enough to ship us CYBI brewers whatever we need.  For poor folks like myself, this is the only way I can really afford to even have beer on tap as of late.  Todays beer is Turbodog, from Abita Brewing.  A malty brown ale, it's one of my favorites and perhaps THE best brown ale I have ever had!

I start at about 11am, get the PBW recirculation going, heating the mash water, etc.  Shoot down the block to swap propane tanks at 7-11, then back an ready to dough in.  Perfect, all is well - the smell is amazing already, smells just like the beer does!  BeepBeep - my alarm tells me it's time to recirc my mash.  Which on normal days is easy, right?

Snap!  I hook up my hosing, everything is going well so far.  I pop open the ball valve to the mash tun and see the tube fill with sweet wort - oh it smells so good!  Grab the plug to the pump, jam it home and  ... whirrrrrrr-grrrrr!  Stoppage!  It's ok, this pump has sucked for years anyway and just needs a restart.  Nothing.  Nothing again and again.  I open the bleeder valve at the bottom of the pump and watch as blobs of grain come oozing out.  Thinking back over my steps, I wonder what ... the FALSE BOTTOM!  Yes, this fat, bald asshole - who rags on homebrewers all the time, forgot to put the false bottom into the mash tun prior to graining in.  Perfect, I know.

So I grab a pot and start scooping out grain-laden wort and dumping it into the empty boil kettle so I can insert the false bottom and transfer the grain back.  "I can salvage this day!", I told myself - and I almost did.  Everything went smoothly and within 10 min and about .75 gallons lost, I was back at the pump controls, jamming away.  The nothing laughed at me.  The pump struggled, but there was no output.  I took apart the ball valve leading to the sparge arm, cleaned out the grain clog, and tried again. Still nothing.  So I investigated further and found a two-inch long clog inside my sparge hose to the ring.  Ok, fine.  Flushed that out and ...

Hot wort shot out of the only unclogged hole in my sparge ring, spraying my garage door like some alien porn star.  Shutting the pump down and controlling my urge to knock everything over and cry, I once more grabbed the sparge ring and flushed it out good.  All ports were open and water flowed freely.  Again, back to the mash tun, again to the pump and with a burst - wort flowed freely!

After the first of two spray downs ... 

For about 4 seconds.  Then another massive shot of hot steamy wort to the garage door - the fucking thing clogged on me again!  Pump off, I surveyed the day:  About 3 gallons of wort on the floor/garage/me, grain in every loop in the system, wort in the burners, wort in the sparge water ... it just wasn't happening.  So I tossed a hose out into the driveway and opened the mash tun ball valve, bleeding it out like some freshly shot pig or something.  There was just no saving this brew day.  I worked on it for about 45 min, aerating the wort, clogging and unclogging ports.  I called it quits, friends.  I just didn't have it in me, and even if I had saved some, I'd be adding water and DME and the beer would have been not what it should have been.

The first 3/4 gallon.  


Tell me I'm not the only one this has happened to.  Please?  It would make my two-hour clean up go by so much faster.

This post written under the influence of Steel Panther and anger. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Shakoolie: A Review

There are very few moments over the age of say, 12, when you are asked to not only re-examine your showering habits but to adjust them and add steps to them.  Pretty much if you have showered 5 times ever, you have it locked down, right?

Enter ... The Shakoolie.  Drinking beer in the shower is a new idea for me.  I'm not one to crave beer so much that I can't wait the 3 minutes it takes me to shower (having a bald head has its advantages).  Some of you out there weren't blessed with the ability to say "No", so I can see where a product like The Shakoolie can add to your X-Games-like showering production.

The Shakoolie is a beer koozy with velcro on the back.  That's it.  You stick the fuzzy side of the velcro on your shower wall, and pop a beer into the koozy, then smash that koozy onto your tile and BLAMO - instant beer holder.  Again, I'm not some raging beer head.  I can wait for a beer.  Plus, I don't like being naked for any length of time so I want to get in and get out, no time for enjoying a cold beverage.

Reservations aside, I "installed" The Shakoolie in my shower and asked my roommates to each have a go with it.  The overall opinion in the house is that The Shakoolie works as advertised, and quite well.  The velcro was able to hold the beer while I was busy with my undercarriage, and was easy enough to pull off the wall and steal a sip while rinsing.  I can't say it revolutionized the way I shower or anything, but the roommates with hair, and who as a result do shower longer, seemed to enjoy the option of taking their beer into the shower with them and having instant access to it.

The Shakoolie.  It holds your beer so you don't have to!

Shakoolie - Installed, loaded, and ready for  action!