Review of my Honey Kolsch

Well, I finally got past the time of waiting for my honey kolsch to carbonate and tried one out last night.  I’ll be the first to admit that kolschs aren’t my favorite beer style, but it seemed like a good choice for a summer-time beer.  Now, to cut to the chase, here are my notes on it (poured into a pint glass):

Appearance: Translucent dark honey color in the glass and a nice thin layer of foam across the top.

Smell: I can’t say too much here, I’ve been suffering from allergies..

Taste: Crisp, smooth, and not very hoppy, with the exception of the hint of honey it tastes exactly like a standard kolsch (which is a good thing).

Mouthfeel: Like the taste, it is crisp and smooth.  A light to medium body and  it doesn’t really weigh down on your tongue or leave any aftertaste.

Drinkability & Notes: I initially poured this straight into a glass out of a bottle I’d been keeping in the fridge at 37F.  As it warmed up to a drinking temperature it definitely began to unlock the flavors and taste better.  The second time I tasted it, I took it out of the fridge and let it sit for about 10 minutes so it would come up to a more appropriate temperature.  It is a very refreshing beer and definitely great for the summer-time even though I am not a fan of Kolsch-style beers in general.  I should also mention, I got the beer ingredients from Austin Homebrew and used their standard recipe.  I have some plans for another batch of this that’ll be more experimental.

2012 Goals – April Retrospective

The fourth month of the year has come and gone and now, we’re into May and time to do a self-assessment of the goals I’ve set out for myself.

#1 Participate in Tough Mudder / Get in better shape

I’ve been eating better in general (thanks to juicing and cutting carbs from my meals) and exercising, although not as much as I would have hoped.  It’s hard sometimes to cut carbs out completely, so I’ve been doing carb substitutions.  I know I still want some carbs, but I’ll forgo eating a certain type of carb to get another in return.  So, I’ve cut down on the carbs by not eating them at meals and giving myself a beer or two during the weekend as a reward.  Sure it might not be the healthiest, but life should be about having fun too.  I think I’ll be restarting Insanity! to help knock off that extra bit of fat that I shouldn’t have then transition back into doing P90X with more weight than I was using.

I’ve stopped using Fitocracy and SlimKicker as well.  I think Fitocracy is much better than SlimKicker since I don’t totally agree with SlimKicker’s point system when it comes to logging food.  It’s preferences are not the Paleo / low-carb diet that I find works best for me, but a low-fat diet that I don’t like and doesn’t help me at all.  I’ll probably start using Fitocracy again since it can interface with RunKeeper which is on my phone and it can track my bike rides.

#2 Propose my PhD Topic

I’m not where I totally want to be, but I am working on the end-to-end example and have one-third of it working right now.  The middle third I’m working on is going to be the toughest since it requires an awkward translation since the models have a mismatch in their representations.  I can make it happen, it is just requiring a bit more thought than I would have liked (but it’s a PhD, it isn’t supposed to be easy :)).  The last third is fairly simple and I could probably write it right now, but I want to save it for after what I’m working on so I’ll feel completely awesome about finishing it.

#3 Learn a new programming language

This lines up with completing my PhD so I might be moving this into that goal this coming month.  Either way, I think I’m making decent progress and I want to write a few posts about learning Scala from a different perspective than how they’ve been written thus far online.  So that might be my new goal.

#4 Finish painting rooms in my house

Still haven’t finished the room yet.  Instead, I cleaned out the garage and moved a palette of bricks from inside the garage to the side of my house and bought a new oven to replace the broken one in my house.  I’ll be installing the oven (hopefully) sometime this week and then perhaps I’ll work on painting this last room across a few nights.  Cut in the corners and trim one night and then roller it the next.

#5 Spring / Summer house cleaning

I started on this and cleaned up the formal living area of my house.  It resulted in a lot of things going out to the recycling bin and a few things going into the trash.  I’m hoping to focus on one room each week and try and clean it out either donating, selling, recycling, or throwing away unneeded thing in each room. Then, even if I don’t toss anything, as long as I organize it all and get it in order, it’ll be far ahead of where it currently is (looking clean, but sort of disorganized to my eye).

#6 Brew my own beer

I think I’ll be removing this one this month since I’ve got a Honey Kolsch that I’ll be tasting soon and I brewed my Belgian Beersperiment which is now aging in a secondary carboy (can’t wait until this one is ready to go!).

Overall

I think I’m doing ok, but I’m not having near the progress that I was hoping on some of the goals.  Of course, in the end, the point is to finish them while not going insane and having a life outside of these goals.

Beersperiment 1, Part 2: Belgian Banana Bread Beer

Well, here is the second part of the process.  Racking the beer from the fermenter to the secondary carboy to age.  And now, I have some lessons learned.

First, putting banana chips into the beer and letting them ferment on them, while a great idea didn’t work out so well from a practical standpoint.  It was damn near impossible to use the thief to get a sample of the beer to test the gravity.  I ended up having to take off the top and just dropping the hygrometer into the beer to find out the gravity.

Secondly, despite what they say, the Belgian yeast didn’t quite hold up to the 11% to 13% ABV that I was hoping for.  It petered out around 8% so this beer has a chance of being slightly sweeter than what I was imaging.

Thirdly, using a siphon to move the beer from the fermenter to the secondary was a pain in the ass because of all the bananas.  They kept clogging the siphon.  I ended up using a funnel with a filter and just dumped the stuff through that into the carboy.  Looking back, I probably should have gotten a slotted spoon and just removed the fruit with that so the siphon could work.  Oh well, there is always next time.

Fourth, a blow-off tube for this was the right way to go.  The yeast was seriously active until it petered out after four days of vigorous activity.

Fifth, I’m not sure if my toasted walnut infused Maker’s Mark is going to add a lot to this beer, but I sure hope so, cause I’m aging it with it for a few weeks (or at least until my Honey Kolsch is gone!).

Until next time (when I bottle the beer), this has been Beersperiments with your host, Lane Holloway.

Beersperiment 1, Part 1: Belgian Banana Bread Beer

I’ve finally decided to try my hand at making a beer from my own recipe and hence, beersperiment #1: Belgian Banana Bread Beer.  I’m aiming for a higher alcohol content (~11%) Belgian with a lot of banana smell and flavor.  In fact, you could say I’m wanting to make you drunk off banana bread. 🙂

Loading up the wonderful BeerSmith, I started with a standard Belgian Dark Ale recipe and began to modify it to meet my needs.  After I was happy with how all of this should end up according to BeerSmith, I printed out the instructions and grain bill and headed down to my local homebrew store to procure most of the goodies.  I had to pick up the dried banana chips and fresh walnuts from Sprouts.  The fresh walnuts are part of the experiment that’ll be done during the time the beer spends in the secondary carboy and I’ll explain it then.

Brew day went fairly well except for a little miscalculation near the end on the amount of water I needed in the pot during the boil.  I was a little low and ended up with a bit thicker wort than expected.  However, I can’t say it was too bad since the gravity came out almost perfect to what BeerSmith calculated.  Once the beer was put into the primary fermenter and started fermenting, I was glad I did the whole blow-off tube setup on this one.  The yeast for this is particularly active and had I not had the blow-off tube setup, I’d probably be cleaning wort off of the ceiling and walls…

In part two I’ll talk about the racking to the secondary along with the little walnut surprise that I’ve cooked up.

Alamo Drafthouse: Off-Center Beer Festival: Blazing Saddles

Ok, so I don’t know how much cooler this could get. Awesome craft breweries from around Texas and getting my picture taken with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery and then watching Blazing Saddles on a wonderful Thursday night with a cap gun to shoot at the screen.

First up, lets talk about the beers.  (512) Brewing brought an amazing Pecan Porter with toasted coconut, died cherries, and Mexican Vanilla; I had four 6 0z. glasses of the stuff.  The other breweries that were there there all had beers that were very, very good, but not as stand out as the (512) Pecan Porter.

Jester King brought a new beer, Beer Geek Rodeo, which is an oatmeal stout brewed in collaboration with Mikkeller (a Danish brewery).  I’ll be picking up a few bottles of Beer Geek Rodeo when it finally hits the store shelves.

Thirsty Planet also came through with a nice smoked coffee Belgian Dubble called Jittery Monk.  It was very smooth and had a good coffee flavor.  As the person working the tap said, this is more beer than coffee and he was right.  I just wish Thirsty Planet would figure out a way to get all these weird experimental beers out to the public because I’m not a total fan of Buckethead and Yellow Armadillo Wheat.  Where is Smokey the Beer and Jittery Monk Smoked Coffee Dubble on tap?  They’re better, more interesting tasting beers, in my opinion.

The only beer that I can say that I really disliked, but really wanted to like was the Twisted X Fuego.  Any beer that has been infused with Jalepeno has to be awesome, right?  Unfortunately, it didn’t have any of that jalepeno twinge or heat that I was expecting.  It tasted a little skunky and barely tingled the back of my throat at the very end for a few seconds.

My only complaint with the beer vendors is that Dogfishhead only brought Indian Brown Ale; I was hoping they could find it in their hearts to grace us with some wonderful 120 minute IPA or another concoction that is hard to find in Texas.  But, I guess they had to save all the interesting beers for the Once Upon A Time in the West feast at Alamo South Lamar.  Oh well, I suppose I need to get myself a trip up to the north east United States again.

The movie, of course, was awesome, and it was made even better by the fact that it was a quote-along.  Not that I needed the quotes scrolling across the bottom of the screen to yell out the lines (yes, I’ve seen it that many times).  As a side note, the food was quite tasty as well, although I have an issue with what they called a torta.  It should have been called a cheesesteak (but I’m not gonna nitpick on a day like this.  I’m just glad there are companies that can still put on a kick-ass mini-beer fest and movie without messing everything up).

2012 Goals – February Retrospective

The second month of the year has ended and now it’s time to take a look at how I’ve progressed toward my goals for this month.

#1 Participate in Tough Mudder / Get in better shape

I think I’m going in a good direction here, I’m stretching everyday and exercising as well.  As I mentioned earlier in my blog, I’ve also taken up road biking to build up my endurance.  I’d like to put on more muscle, but I haven’t kicked that into high gear quite yet, although it is coming.

#2 Continue Learning to Play the Guitar

I haven’t hit on this as much as I would have liked, other goals have taken precedence over this one, sadly.

#3 Propose my PhD Topic

I feel I’m on track although I’d like to be further along that where I’m at.  It’s been decided exactly what I’m going to propose, I’ve written everything for the proposal and I’m just waiting on approval of my advising professor to move forward with the rest of the paperwork that needs to happen.  Then it’s onto herding cats and making the proposal happen.  After that I can get to the fun part and start coding everything full-time!

#4 Learn another programming language and brush up on some old ones

I think I can put this one to bed and change it to something else.  In fact, I think I’ll change it to another house goal.  I want to do a through Spring cleaning of all the rooms in my house since I didn’t do it when I moved into my house last year.  It’s amazing how much stuff you can acquire in such a short amount of time.

#5 Finish painting rooms in my house

My brother came over and helped me paint a room in my house in early February and I spent some time touching it up so 1/2 of the things to do has been done.  I have to move a bedroom suite from one room into the newly painted room so I can paint that room, so I will get some more exercise 🙂 in moving it around.

#6 Remove the child playset from my backyard

Still haven’t done this one at all.

#7 Brew my own beer and make it good

Gotta make the honey kolsch with the ingredients sitting in my house.  I really should get off my rear and buy a propane tank and get it filled up so I can make it, but I’ve been doing so much other stuff, I just haven’t had the time to do it.  I’m still aging the other beer and we won’t know how that is going to turn out until November.

Overall

I think I’m doing pretty well in general although I need to pick up the pace on certain ones and slow down on others.  It’s a matter of sorting it all out; I don’t expect to be awesome all the time (but I’m sure as heck going to try) so I can accept the fact that it is going to take a few months of refinement to really get running on all cylinders.