Monday, November 18, 2013

Chapter 9: Nut Brown Ale Tasting

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
This was a pretty busy weekend… but first, let’s start with a Nut Brown Ale Tasting. This batch was original cooked up four weeks ago… and we were really excited since it kinda smelled like chocolate. Unfortunately I was a little under the weather this weekend (thanks to a coworker, but she took it worse than I did) but we still tasted it at the four week mark… and it was REALLY good. It had a nutty, full flavored taste to it similar to Rogue’s Hazelnut Nectar Brown Ale… but again, didn’t quite have the lingering taste, which I believe comes with a little more aging… so I’ll have to fill you in on that in a few weeks (probably during Thanksgiving dinner).
Nut Brown Ale
Malt Extract Kit
5 gallons
6 lbs
Maris Otter Malt Syrup
Specialty Grains
1/4 lb
English Chocolate Malt
1/4 lb
Belgian Special B
1/4 lb
Belgian Biscuit
1/4 lb
Briess Special Roast
1 oz
Fuggle (60 mins)
Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast
Cook Date/Primary Ferm
Secondary Ferm
Not needed
2 weeks
First Taste
4 weeks
Delicious, great nutty flavor
Hints of chocolate & roasted nuts
Aging may help even more
Great recipe really
 Perhaps maple brown?
Thursday night, Dizzy & I were invited to a special early screening of the Coen Brothers next movie “Inside Llewyn Davis” starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman & others. Now, the Coen Brothers have made some of the greatest movies in recent history like “The Big Lebowski”, “No Country for Old Men”, “Raising Arizona”, “Fargo” (which I didn’t care for… but it won awards) and so on… but they also made “Burn Before Reading” & the somewhat pointless “True Grit” remake, so they’re not infallible. The early reviews have this movie high on their list… a metacritic score of 99 right now… and even the preview was pretty interesting… so my expectations weren’t sky high… but they were up there. I… Maybe I just didn’t get it. The story is about a twenty-something folk singer named Llewyn Davis trying to make the scene in Manhattan. Basically he’s a moody artist who crashes on people’s couches, sleeps with their girlfriends (though it does take two to tango), a bit of a drunkard & just an overall asshat most of the time… but hey, he’s got a bit of talent in songwriting & performing… by which I mean playing a guitar & singing with some soul, not like… Prince or other showmen, but you get it. Anyway, during the course of the week of this story, he has an orange cat that I think is supposed to be a metaphor for his personal life because he keeps f**king up & losing it… or trying to do good & it turns bad… then he goes on a road trip to Chicago with two dudes (Goodman & Garrett Hedlund) and auditions for a big producer named Bud Grossman… and that’s where the preview stops. Is he going to make it big? Will Bud likes what he sees? Spoiler alert: If you ever plan on watching this movie, stop reading now. When watching the preview, my first thought was “I would LOVE for the producer after his performance to just say something like ‘It’s good but… I’m gonna have to pass. We’ve got a bunch of guys just like you & they know how to use a razor and show up on time’ and he would be stunned… roll credits.” Long story short, that’s EXACTLY what happens… well, probably better dialogue & more specifics… except the movie doesn’t end there… it goes on until they randomly roll the credits about 15 minutes later. You know how the Coen Brothers do sometimes. Those endings that are just… boop, there you go. Now, I would give this movie two stars. That being said, it wasn’t particular my thing. It was basically 100 minutes (that seemed MUCH longer) where half of it was them performing the soundtrack (which is very decent if folk music is your thing) but the story is just… he’s an asshat… and he doesn’t make it in the folk scene… and he sucks at life? There are a few funny moments & that awkward situational humor that the Coen Brothers do… but overall, not a great movie in my opinion. Some have said that this movie is kind of a rip-off of the documentary “Looking for Sugarman” about an folk artist that never made it but influenced MANY who did but… if that’s the case, I kinda don’t want to watch “Looking for Sugarman” now, even though I’m sure it’ll be more entertaining… because there might be a story to it… at least with an ending where he died drunk & alone. Horrible, sad, academy award nominated ending… but it’s an ending. Maybe it just wasn’t for me… and I didn’t get it… but I’m okay with that.
Saturday, I took Dizzy to a wonderful place that some friends from SLC referred to me from their visit last week, Harley Farms Goat Diary in Pescadero, about an hour south of the City. About twenty years ago, a British lady named Dee Harley came out to the beautiful coastal town and got some property… and basically slowly but surely went from a few acres of overgrowth in her property… to a fully functional goat dairy with some serious award-winning cheeses. Of course, Dizzy is a HUGE fan of goats & worked on a dairy in Sacramento… and these were some of the nicest goats (and llamas) that you could even imagine. Hell, they’re so pampered that if I’m reincarnated, I wanna come back as one of Dee’s goats. Seriously… they’re a masseuse away from living YOUR dream too. Anyway, here are some pictures…

After the tour, we headed to Half Moon Bay Brewery in time for the sunset… and to try their beers & sliders. All of which were pretty good… some more pictures…
Friday night, we watched the documentary “Blackfish” about Tillikum, the blood-thirsty killer whale that wreaked havoc all over Sea World & ripped apart… wait, let me rephrase that. (clears throat) The completely innocent orca who was taken into captivity many years ago… and has been wrongly accused of murdering several trainers in several different establishments. Basically… if he were a human… he’d be a Black Widower& locked away forever… but because he’s an adorable sea panda… sorry, killer whale… sorry, orca like Shamu… then he’s on display. Yes, that’s one way of looking at it. There are many ways of looking at the situation, whether it’s completely innocent animal kept in small quarters… or blood-thirsty scourge of aquatainment. This documentary takes the lighter side (and probably more accurate to Tillikum’s point of view) where in the wild, he would be an alpha male with throngs of orca maidens yearning for his seed… but because of being kept in captivity, he’s gone through some serious hardships, killed a few trainers… and now is… well, basically world-famous & has been put out to stud… so he’s kind of an alpha male… with throngs of aquariums yearning for his seed to make large, beautiful orcas for their centers. It’s twisted… but orcas are f**king adorable when they’re a plush toy… and isn’t that what really matters? “But how could they do this to wild animals like this?” A) Do you have any idea how much money SeaWorld & other centers make off killer whales? B) Do you think that if nobody really knew what an orca was that they would be still around or on the brink of extinction? Do you know what a common dolphin looks like? Hourglass dolphin? They’re gorgeous creatures… but because they don’t have a show at SeaWorld, you don’t know about them… and they’re facing extinction. Like I said, it’s a twisted situation. Watch the movie though… it’s pretty interesting… though obviously one-sided. By the way, have you noticed that I love playing Devil’s Advocate from time to time?
Next up was Syfy Channel TV movie legend “Sharknado” starring Ian Ziering (“Beverly Hills 90210”), Tara Reid (“American Pie”) & John Heard (“Home Alone”) which is about not only a series of superstrong tornados hitting Los Angeles (which doesn’t get tornados) but… these tornados are also carrying GIANT SHARKS who’ve survived the 100+ MPH winds and lack of breathable water in a tornado… to be thrown into the “flooded” streets of LA to eat anything & everything in their path. Who can save the City of Angels? Only a Santa Monica beach restaurant owner (Ziering), his Australian buddy, his hot 19-year old waitress & a drunk (Heard). How do they try to stop the tornados… and the sharks? Well, first he wants to get his ex-wife (Reid), daughter & son… and then they want to throw bombs into the tornadoes… because that stops them… and then take shotguns & chainsaws to flying multi-ton death machines of the sea being thrown at them. Obviously… it’s a horrible movie… but I don’t see why this one was such a big hit over the other crap that Syfy churns out on a monthly basis other than people were nostalgic for Ian Ziering (and who can blame them really?) and it’s utter preposterousnessity (I’m pretty sure I just made that word up). It’s on Netflix so go ahead & check it out if you want. Also… pretty sure they used some of the exact same graphics as “Jersey Shore Shark Attack” last year… but kudos to them for getting a sequel in the works.
Last up was a very special event that I was invited to at Skywalker Ranch to watch a movie with Dizzy & J-Mo. First off, before I get to the movie, the ranch was absolutely amazing. Obviously George Lucas has done pretty well for himself… and you can’t really hate on him for doing that. You’d sell out a little bit too. Don’t even try to front. The grounds were immaculate & the theatre where we watched the movie was basically a perfectly designed theatre for a few hundred people. Big ups to Skywalker Sound & thanks for the invite.

The movie was “All is Lost” starring the great Robert Redford… and the majesty of Skywalker Sound… and that is about all. IMDb: “After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor (Redford) finds himself, despite all efforts to the contrary, staring his mortality in the face.” Simple enough of a concept, right? A man… alone… about 1700 miles from anything (Sumatran straits)… with a  hole in his boat… storms on the way… and basically everything stacked against him at this point… but he powers on… but will he ultimately prevail? It’s a concept not unlike “Gravity” earlier this year… but how many people are going to be in space? My guess would be fewer than those going on sailboat rides. The movie’s director (J.C. Chandor of “Margin Call” fame) does a great job of completely immersing the audience into the experience of the man on the boat, almost telling it from a first-person perspective most of the time… and the mastery of the sounds of the boat & the ocean along with Redford’s performance REALLY makes this a movie that you should see in a theatre. No joke. This movie is up there with “Gravity” for my picks for the year thus far. There’s basically only a few spots where Redford even speaks, mostly trying to use the radio or get someone’s attention… and yet you don’t even really notice… because it’s all performance driven and frankly, exactly as it should be. Go check it out!
Fun fact: This movie is rated R for “Strong Language” because wait for it… he says the f-word once in absolute frustration. However, “Hunger Games” will be PG-13 and I’m pretty sure there will be ritualistic killings for sport (isn’t that the premise of it?) and there will probably be worse language. “Man of Steel” killed… I don’t know… MILLIONS of Metropolis & Smallville citizens and had Superman snap Zod’s neck after completely destroying the city. PG-13 though. Let’s get serious on this rating system, Hollywood. It’s getting pretty ridiculous. Again, go see “All is Lost”! In theatres!!!
That’ll do it for this entry. Busy week coming up… and then for the weekend, Dizzy & I are going on a Reno Road Trip to see Chick’n’Wing and… wait for it… ALICE COOPER LIVE!!!!!!! Yes, THE Alice Cooper will be in concert at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno on Friday night… and my ass will be there. My dad has seen him in concert five times since 1978 & he says it’s an absolute show every single time… so I’m really excited about that. Also, we’ll be hanging out with Chick’n’Wing and her family for the first time since Oregon over three months ago… and then the following week… The Wingman comes to the Bay for Thanksgiving!!! Good times coming up… and I didn’t even mention the meeting of the SF Homebrewers Guild tomorrow night… with special guests SF Mead Company!!! Damn… it’s just a good time to be me… and I’m incredibly thankful for it!!! Have a great thankful day everybody!!!

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