Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brew Day at Elevation 66 - Part One

Good Morning Ladies & Gentlemen,
Tuesday night, after an “interesting” day at work, I went over to Izzy’s place (Yes, Dizzy is Izzy… I know, it was a real nom de plume worthy of the annuls of history… but I figured why mix it up anymore). In the early morning, we were to brew… but first, we had La Val’s Pizza (Berkeley Special to be exact & it’s pretty good) and then we swung by the Albany Taproom for a drink since it was next door. While sampling some of their selection, they had a “Meet the Brewers” event with E.J. Phair Brewing Company out of Pittsburg, CA (not PA). They also have a new alehouse in Concord. Well, we started chatting with their brewmaster Craig & the sales director Bill… and we basically chatted with them for about two hours. The company is fairly new (as about 90% of most craft brew places have started in the last decade or so) but they’re expanding at a fairly steady rate (again as most) and seem to have a great space (check their website) with plenty of events from comedy & open mic nights… to brewery tours paired with two-buck pints… and just a nice biergarden complete with dart boards kind of atmosphere.
Of course, most importantly, they’re nice guys willing to chat with two random beer nerds… and the beer was pretty fantastic as well. They had four selections on hand Tuesday with their Facepuncher IPA, Plankwalker Pale, Teutonic Night (Baltic Porter & my personal fave) & Shorty’s Revenge (flagship English Amber Ale) but have a few more at their location… which after the gracious hospitality we were shown by them at the taproom, we’ll definite have to check out firsthand soon. More on E.J. Phair to come, I’m sure. Heck, I think this Friday is their brewery tour with $2 pints… so maybe VERY soon. Then again, I know a few of their key guys now. Check them out.
Ready for some brewing? Let's go!!!
Wednesday, we woke up at 4 AM, grabbed a quick bite to eat (toaster waffles) and headed over to Elevation 66 Brewing Company in El Cerrito to help out on a new batch of delicious brew. Brewmasters Super Dave & Big Ben were there waiting for us, so we thanked them for their time & allowing us to be a part of this (even in a small way), and then… we sanitized. Yes, the first, last, consistent & probably most important step of beermaking is sanitization. Why? Well, because even though there’s not really any deadly bacteria that can kill you in beer (alcohol saves you from that), the last thing that you want is to drink a beer and have it be absolutely disgusting because of a little something messing with the recipe or cancelling out another chemical reaction. It’s really a delicate balance when working with beer. It’s a lot like cake… but then again, it’s really hard to f**k up when the ingredients are butter, sugar & flour in a 400 degree environment free of bacteria for about an hour… compared to when you’re dealing with wheat, barley, bitter hops, water, and using yeast which only works under perfect conditions for bacteria over VERY long periods of time. Hopefully that helps to show why they’re called BrewMASTERS!!!
Some artwork around the place...
After cleaning up things with Big Ben, we noticed that Super Dave was already well into the mashing process. Our homebrewing is on a five gallon scale… but this batch was on an over 200 gallon scale… so where we were mashing with 10-12 pounds depending on the recipe, they’re dealing with 400-500 pounds of grains. One of their fellow brewers snapped a tendon in his bicep last week & it rolled up with a curtain on him. Being a brewmaster isn’t for the faint of heart or muscle sometimes… be sure to stretch thoroughly & maybe warm up a little before messing with these large loads. While Super Dave was finishing the initial mash, Big Ben & I wheeled around some of the spent grains (about 1200 pounds of them soaking wet) that they had stored from other brews so that a local farmer could pick them up to feed to his goats & cows. When dealing with these massive amounts of grains, there’s really not much else that you can do with them. Yes, with our little batch, we took a few scoops to make a few loaves of delicious bread… but even on that scale we end up using the vast majority as compost or sharing with the local birds. Especially with small operations like Elevation 66, there’s just not space, storage or the facilities to really do anything else with the grains other than to donate them to local farmers… but it works out well for both ends.

There was a lot of time during the mashing & boiling process where we were waiting for the massive amounts of liquid to heat up to proper temperatures… and during that time, we basically sipped a few brews (YES, it was a little after 7 AM… but we figured that given when we started, it was basically noon) and talked about how the company started, issues they face with space & layout of the building, limited supply versus growing demand, the lack of availability for various ingredients due to the BOOM of Craft Beer and their relative size (many of same things discussed with EJ Phair the night before), how they became Brewmasters, homebrew tips & tricks of the trade, events that they’ve been a part of, what they liked about them, what aspects of the events’ planning were seriously lacking, all different kinds of things, and of course we included the usual getting to know you chit chat & daily observations. Just a pair of great guys who seemed pretty happy to have us around… and frankly, we had a fantastic time helping out, even if only a little bit.
Unfortunately, due to my day job & Izzy’s first week back at school, we had to leave a little after 10 AM to grab some lunch before heading back into the City about a 40 minute BART ride away. This was right around the point where the hour-long boil & hop addition had just taken place & finished, so now they were running the hot wort through their plate chillers and into the fermentation tanks… which apparently is a rather timely process as well (there’s a lot of “Hurry up & wait” to the process as you know, but especially on a large scale) but we definitely plan on coming back and helping some more. This was my first time & Izzy’s second… so yeah, we didn’t do much this time… but apparently as we help out more & become more familiar with the process… they’ll trust us to do a little more, which makes perfect sense. This time around is was mostly sanitization and linking hoses and stuff like that… but a few times down the road, maybe we’ll be adding the grains… or mixing the mash… or adding the hops… or scooping out the spent grains… or testing the beer after fermentation to make sure that it’s ready or going along smoothly… or whatever. Obviously there’s a LOT to learn about the process, but we’re willing to learn.
So another HUGE THANKS to Super Dave & Big Ben at Elevation 66 for letting us get in the way & do a little grunt work for them… but mostly just being cool cats & shooting the sh*t with us before the sun came up. Also, a big thank you to Craig & Bill with E.J. Phair for hanging with us Tuesday night & I’m sure that we’ll see you shortly in Pittsburg and/or Concord. Go patronize these estblishments at your earliest convenience!!! Have a great day everybody!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Marathon of Ass Kickin'

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Here’s just a little catchup on things not directly related to beer in the world…
This past weekend, Dizzy & I had a little bit of a “Kick Ass” marathon (since she hadn’t seen the first) and ending with the recent DVD release “Kick Ass 2” starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Moretz, CMP (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) & Jim Carrey among others. Basically in the original “Kick Ass”, the story is about a teenager who decides to become a superhero & clean up the mean streets of NYC. Along the way, he gets his ass beat a lot… but he befriends a daddy-daughter duo (Big Daddy & Hit Girl), they teach him some of the ropes, they try to take down a crime boss in the end… they win… but Big Daddy is dead and now Kick Ass & Hit Girl are doing the whole high school angst during the day, crime fighters at night thing as the credits roll. Well, in the sequel, other crime fighters inspired by Kick Ass are coming out of the woodworks… and they form a bit of an alliance. The problem is… that the teenage son of the crime boss who died in the original (CMP) has decided to become the first Supervillain named… The Motherf**ker… and use his apparently limitless wealth to form his own legion of  dastardly villains with one goal in mind… to kill Kick Ass & wipe out any influence that he has (namely killing all his superhero buddies). Also, Hit Girl has sworn to her father figure (dad’s best friend) that she wouldn’t fight crime anymore & is trying to become a typical teenage girl… but of course that’s not going to work out well. What happens? THERE WILL BE BLOOD & VENGEANCE!!! As for the movie, if you liked the first one, you’re probably going to like the sequel… it’s not the best storytelling in the world… it’s based off a comic book, so there’s a little bit of disbelief involved… but overall, I really enjoyed the movie. Yes, as star Jim Carrey mentioned during his comments basically saying that he never wants to work in Hollywood again… it’s really violent & involves teenagers… but yeah, it’s a comic book movie. If you can’t separate that from real life, then you have mental health issues. Luckily… there are places in society where you can… oh wait, never mind. I guess we’re all screwed until that gets taken care of. In the meantime though, I recommend it. It’s not going to win any awards… but it’s a violent action-comedy… that gets a little dark at some points, so be prepared. Here’s the news…
Utah Update - A University of Utah student says he paid his tuition bill with 2,000 one-dollar bills as a silent (though obvious publicized) protest against the rising cost of college. Luq Mughal brought a metal case full of greenbacks to the school Tuesday, the deadline for payment. He says he collected the cash from several banks. Mughal tells The Salt Lake Tribune he spends weekends working to pay for his electrical engineering degree (wow… sounds familiar… try doing it during the week as well). The 21-year-old says he gets a discount because his father is a faculty member and acknowledges his situation is far from the worst on campus. Undergraduate in-state tuition rates have more than doubled in Utah over the past 10 years (like everywhere else). Trustees set a 5% tuition hike this year, saying they needed to fund a cost-of-living raise for employees as state funding declines. Look… it’s always been a dream of mine to pay a large bill with a suitcase full of money (probably singles until I reach big baller status) so I like this story for that aspect of it. However, saying that it’s a (silent) statement against the rise of tuition… while at the same time having a discounted tuition… is murky at best. However, I feel your pain (or rather did) and support your decision. Colleges & universities charge more & more every year… because they think they can… and they’re kinda right. There are some benefits to higher learning… but that’s when the cost-benefits analysis comes into play. When the peak is that extra million dollars over your lifetime that you’re going to be making (for Uncle Sam) over your lifetime that’s always advertised… and the low is that college is where you developed your drug habit, impregnated some chick at a party that you legally raped in some states eyes & have crippling debt for the rest of your life while you still can’t find a job… and the alternative is working hard, learning through apprenticeship while doing a day job or at least finding out what it is that you want to do before you commit a sh*t ton of money towards an education… just remember to weigh your options carefully. You hear about all the successes of college dropouts… but it’s because they something more than a piece of paper on their wall… they had a Drive & an Initiative & a Passion for what they do and knew how to get there. College can help you to find yours… but just do a cost-benefit analysis. That’s all I’m saying. Stay in school kids!!! At least while it’s free.
Good Deeds Done Hella Expensive – Or you could just be f**king lucky. For example, Montez Jones of Louisville, Kentucky was going about his day as a human billboard, enthusiastically dancing while holding a sign advertising Colbert Ball Tax Service, when he received a huge gift from a passerby. The sign man is dedicated to his job and told WDRB, “I don't care what the weather is, I'm coming to work." Perhaps it’s that devotion that caught the attention of Reverend Kevin Cosby, the President of Simmons College of Kentucky, a small and historically black Bible college. Rev. Cosby was driving by 29-year-old Mr. Jones as he did his job, and stopped to talk to the man. He described Jones as a, "human billboard, gyrating. I mean, totally depersonalized." Jones explained, "A black car just pulled up, and he said, 'Do you know who I am, young man?' I said, 'No sir.'" The stranger than replied, “I am The Devil… and I have a proposition for you.” Okay, no he didn’t. I was just checking to make sure you were reading. The reverend then introduced himself to Montez and offered him a $20,000 full ride scholarship and the opportunity to attend Simmons College. But why extend that offer to Montez Jones? Rev. Cosby said it was to, "Show [Jones] what confidence, hard work, discipline and being around the right environment can do for a person and if he can do it he becomes my example that anyone can be successful." The prospective student’s success could benefit them both, especially with the college anticipating full accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education, within months. Montez said that as a child he dreamed of being a doctor, but his circumstances, "living in the streets," and an arrest ended it. Wait, what was the arrest for? Oh I see, we’re not even going to discuss that part of the story. “With my background, it was over. My dreams were crushed,” said the sign shaker. He’s hopeful and grateful for the sudden opportunity saying, "It's like me being a newborn. Start my life all over again, fresh. Hopefully this might be a good start for me you know what I’m saying. I'm going to take it. I'm going to take it and run with it though. I ain't going to let [Rev. Cosby] down." I really do hope that it’s a great start for him into a new life. I like that he got the scholarship because of his attitude but… I mean… publicity stunt aside… why would a reasonable man just be driving down the street & see a guy waving a sign around and say “Hey, you wanna go to college?” “I don’t even know what I would study… and I haven’t studies since the 3rd grade… which is why I’m spinning this sign.” “Well, what did you want to be in 3rd grade?” “A doctor… and Spiderman.” “Well, school can probably help with one of those.” “Hmm… Nah… I’m good. Thanks though.” That being said… if he’s got the gumption, then I wish Mr. Jones & Rev. Cosby nothing but the best. It’s not going to be easy… but worst-case, at least he knows the President of the College.
Penis Pump Healthcare Scam – Yes, corruption has gone there too. Penis pumps cost the U.S. government's Medicare program $172 million between 2006 and 2011. Why is this possibly a scam? Because that’s about TWICE as much as the consumer would have paid at the RETAIL level (yes, even after doubling plus markup), according to a government watchdog's report released on Monday. The report by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services said Medicare, the government health insurance system for seniors, paid nearly 474,000 claims for vacuum erection systems, or VES, totaling about $172.4 million from 2006 to 2011. Yearly claims for the devices nearly doubled from $20.6 million in 2006 to $38.6 million in 2011. According to the Mayo Clinic, penis pumps are one of a few treatment options for erectile dysfunction. Government waste is a major issue in budget talks in the U.S. capital as lawmakers try to reach agreement on a $1 trillion spending bill. "Medicare payment amounts for VES remain grossly excessive compared with the amounts that non-Medicare payers pay," said the report, dated December 2013. "Medicare currently pays suppliers more than twice as much for VES as the Department of Veterans Affairs and consumers over the Internet pay for these types of devices." If Medicare had adjusted its payments to approximately the price non-Medicare payers pay, the U.S. government would have saved an average of about $14.4 million for each of the six years, the report said. Yup… and that’s JUST for penis pumps… imagine if, God forbid, they should extend those kinds of practices to daily medications and/or vaccinations. "Considering the strain retiring baby boomers will soon be placing on Medicare's budget, shouldn't we be focusing this entitlement program on real, life-saving treatment and equipment to serve the health needs of seniors - instead of subsidizing penis pump purchases?" Ben Domenici of the Heartland Institute think tank said in an email statement. "And to those seniors who really do want one," added Domenech, "just buy it yourself - you don't need to send the bill to your fellow Americans." Well… I’m not entirely sure about that last statement… but do you see where there are MAJOR issues in government… and if something isn’t done, it’s only going to get worse. Do you think the DOUBLE RETAIL prices (so something like 6-8 times cost of production) is just going towards mailing, processing, and all that? Or medications that costs about 10,000 times the cost of production? Hell no. Somebody getting f**king RICH off that… because they have a buddy in the system… who’s also getting f**king RICH. “I scratch your back, you scratch mine. What’re they going to do? Fire us? Please… those sheeple just want to live & get boners… and they want to continue to do so… they’ll pay OUR prices & fill OUR pockets for the privilege.” Now, I know that’s probably not an EXACT transcript from a conversation over a few cognacs… but yeah, that’s what’s happening… and we’re letting it happen. Just my PSA for the day… hidden in a story about penis pumps.
So yeah… that’s about it for this issue I think. Lots of good things coming up this week so do yourself a favor & subscribe to this blog (or friend it or whatever the term is) and these updates can be sent directly to your email or phone or really anything so that it’s quick, easy, convenient & of course entertaining. While you’re at it… sign up for Terrible Lizard Brewing too!!! It’s all the beer-related things from this blog… and so much more. Have a great day everybody!!!

Bacon & Beer Day

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Well, Saturday was our first official Beer & Bacon Day at the apartment. In the past we had a few Bacon Days… and drinks are always readily available… but this was our first joint venture with our own Homebrew as a featured player. Why now? Well, Wednesday January 22nd was the 453rd birthday of Sir Francis Bacon… former Lord Chancellor of England… and an accomplished philosopher, statesman, scientist, and author who’s probably best known for his work in helping to establish the Scientific Method. Don’t worry, Kevin Bacon’s birthday is in July (probably when our next one will be) and National Bacon Day is during Labor Day Weekend… so there are other reasons for such events even if they’re not directly related to each other. Basically, Dizzy & I like to cook delicious things and make beer… and Bacon is probably our favorite food that isn’t on the endangered species list (I assume Panda taste like meaty pumpkin pie… and that’s why they’re almost extinct) so we like to have a gathering of friends & family, make some delicious dishes, and now… we’ve included our incredible homebrew options as well.
Now, I want to say from the get-go… that basically everybody that attended was Dizzy’s family & friends because… all my family is back in Utah… and apparently I have no friends here in the Bay Area besides those I’ve acquired through my association with her… but hey, it’s all good… they’re great peeps. Guests started arriving around 3 PM… which was perfect because we had food ready & waiting for them… BEHOLD!!!
Drink Menu:
·         Irish Red Ale
·         Pumpkin Ale
·         Bavarian Hefeweizen
·         Nut Brown Ale
·         Honey Root Beer
·         Adam Carolla’s Mangria (both red & white peach)
Food Menu:
·         Bacon-wrapped chicken breast rolled in brown sugar & Cajun seasoning
·         Bacon-wrapped cheddar jalapeno poppers
·         Bacon fried in pumpkin pancake batter
·         Bacon Turtle Brownies
·         Spent Grain Bread (a HUGE hit)
·         Bacon Quiche (two kinds)
·         Bacon Pecan Brittle

We also made some sourdough & bacon grilled cheese...
and blue cheese or cheddar for the melty goodness...

The guests came in waves… first was Dizzy’s aunts and they brought a few quiches with bacon in them… and then a few of her friends from Sacramento showed up… and then as the evening progressed, some of her coworkers stopped by after their shifts. It started with talking about the food, and a few times we answered questions about the homebrewing process and the differences between the different beers… and basically why they were so much better than they were expecting… even showing off our batches that were almost ready for bottling (Mead & Porter) and our newest batch (Winter Warmer) that were off to the side in the living room. They seemed really interested (or at least feigned it well) and REALLY liked the beer. They tried everything… and I think our biggest hits were the Pumpkin Ale and the Hefeweizen. Now that the Hef has aged a bit, it may actually be a Dunkelweizen. We may have been sent the darker malt extract, because it tastes more like one & is still pretty dark for a hefeweizen. Regardless, it’s pretty delicious now.
Preparing for the next event...

Skele-Pig watches over the food & accepts your donations...

"... cuz I'm fly... that's why..."


We also played board games like Toc Toc Woodsman (kind of like Jenga, but with an axe chopping down a tree), Avalon (a King Arthur based game of strategy) & Cards Against Humanity (R-Rated Apples to Apples if you haven’t heard of it), all of which were hits & helped to keep everybody entertained… and let’s face it, the drinks helped.
The last guests departed a little after midnight… and we had gone through about four pounds of bacon, two pounds of chicken, a 40-pack of jalapeno poppers, over a case of homebrews, and various other ingredients… but well worth it. We had a FANTASTIC Saturday night with great people… and we also have some HUGE fans of our offerings so it’s good feedback to carry into our next batches and beyond. Maybe our next stop will be offering to the SF Homebrewing Guild so that they can critique our beers. I’m excited about that prospect. They could definitely help us take our “hobby” to the next level to make sure that we’re making fantastic product… and not just stuff that we think is awesome because we made it & our friends won’t tell us that it sucks… but I doubt that’s the case. It’s really good.
Stay tuned for other big things this week… we have new batches to bottle, transfer and/or start anew… there’s the possibility of another Brew Day at Elevation 66… and just a host of other things coming your way thanks to our borderline obsession with things beer-related. There’s also a visit this week from friend of the blog Jackie D… and SF Beer Week is just around the corner. So much going on!!! Have a great day everybody!!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Vin Diesel: Our Generation's Stallone

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Not a whole lot going on this week… checking out LegalZoom’s services regarding our brewing adventure… but more to come on that in the next few months… met up with Bubbles for dinner last night, she’s doing good… other than that, pretty low key. Oh! Adam Carolla is coming to do a show just a few blocks from my crib at the Palace of Fine Arts on May 18th, so I got a few great tickets for that for myself & Dizzy. Nice little thing before the cruise the following week… yeah, maybe I spoil her… but I wanna go too!
Tuesday night, we watched “Timestalkers” on Netflix starring William Devane & Lauren Hutton (“Once Bitten”) as well as a few small parts for John Ratzenberger (“Cheers”), Tracey Walter (“Conan”) and the late great Uncle Phil… sorry, James Avery from “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” fame. Apparently because “Back to the Future” was so successful, they made this movie two years later in 1987 about a widowed Wild West enthusiast professor (Devane) who notices a photograph from the 19th century with a 357 Magnum (1980’s street weapon), looks into it… and inadvertently kinda sets the basis for time travel… six hundred years later. Now he pairs with a woman from the 26th century (Hutton) to catch another time traveler from changing the course of history back in the Old West. Basically, it’s Back to the Future meets Timecop… but with the budget of a 80’s comedy and the era’s special effects. There are LOTS of holes in the plot, so don’t even try to look… they’ll find you… but yeah, just a quick easy little flick that you might enjoy… especially if you’re nostalgic for 80’s stuff. Again, it’s on Netflix. Enjoy.
Also this past weekend, we watched the latest installment of the legendary series… “Fast & Furious 6” starring the late Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne “THE ROCK” Johnson, Tyrese & LUDA!!! So… sadly I’ve seen all of the movies in this series except number 3 “Tokyo Drift” because… frankly, I’m not sure WHY I’ve seen the other five. Here’s what the movie has… fast cars doing lots of stunts, GALLONS of gun butter greasing up ripped dudes like Vin Diesel & the Rock, a few waif chicks who… eh, aren’t really aren’t my type (Jordana Brewster, Gal Gadot, etc… though Gina Carano is a’ight), the plot’s always something like “They have to do bad… to do good” or some sh*t and it’s really just them getting themselves into trouble… but luckily they can go to exotic locations and live worry free… until the Rock shows up to get them together for “one last gig”. Well, as per usual, the Rock finds them chilling & living the good life… but then he has a photograph… of Dom’s (Diesel) ex-girlfriend (Rodriguez) who apparently died back in F&F 4. “What? She’s alive? That’s probably a fake… but I hafta be sure.” Sidenote: WHY? You have a Brazilian girl that you’ve been bangin’ steady for two movies now… you live in the Canary Islands who don’t believe in extradition… you’re a millionaire… basically if she’s not trying to reach you, maybe staging her death is just her way of saying “It’s not working out”. What’s that? OH!!! AMNESIA!!! Of course… who the f**k cares?
Another side note: Six months ago when Jackie D was visiting, she went to see this movie… and I asked her about it. “Oh it’s the BOMB!!! They really did a good job of bringing back characters & tying all of the movie together.” “Bringing back who? Michelle Rodriguez?” “Yeah.” “How did they… sigh… did she have amnesia?” “N… No…” “Jackie D… did they pull the soap opera method of writing out to bring back Michelle Rodriguez?” “NO! It’s a well-written…” So they used amnesia… but she knew that if she told me, I’d probably never see it. Of course I was going to see it anyway, because I like action movies… especially really stupid & unnecessary sequels of genres that I never really like in the first place (since they rolled the Chevelle back in the original).
Anyway, so the other twist is that now SHE’S WORKING FOR THE BAD GUYS!!! As in, because she’s a criminal for life anyway, she hooked up with the biggest baddies in the world (Luke Evans) that aren’t in hiding from their previous five movies, and now they’re planning on stealing a weapon that would kill millions… nay, BILLIONS & shift the global power structure to whoever bought it from them… blah blah blah… people that couldn’t film for more than a few days are kidnapped, laws are broken repeatedly, explosions, car chases were innocent bystanders are killed, nonsensical plot twists… okay, here’s one.
They finally get the bad guy… and are about to recover a bunch of the pieces of this ultimate weapon… mission accomplished… but then Paul Walker’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the bad guy’s henchmen while he’s handcuffed… and this is verified by them calling Paul Walker on his cell phone. The bad guy then starts with this whole “So here’s what’s going to happen…” as he’s going on & on… I would walk up to him, drop kick his f**king face… grab the closest power drill… and start to completely mangle all non-vital areas with the power drill while he screams for mercy & I’m completely surrounded by armed guards. I then pick up the phone… and go cold ass Liam Neeson on his ass. “Listen up bitch… your boss has already signed the certificate for his slow & painful death… but there’s still a chance for you to save yourself & everybody that you care about. So here’s what’s going to happen… you’re going to escourt my wife back to my mansion, she’s going to kick you in the nuts… probably twice… you WILL thank her for the courtesy of stopping. Next, you will clean up anything in the mansion that you destroyed, taking an inventory of such, and I will expect full restoration within 10 business days (I’m not a complete monster, his paycheck is literally getting drilled by me in the worst possible way). Next, your group goes to their respective homes… tells their families that they love them… and you change your line of work. If you do all of this, then I won’t hunt you down.” About this time, bad boss man is screaming “Don’t listen to him! Kill her! Arrrgh… (choking on his own blood)” “Could you excuse me for just a moment? (screams & drilling noises like at the world’s worst dentist office) Hey, I’m back. So… is she back home watching soap operas yet? Or do I have to fly back home? Because I don’t know if you’ve been watching the movie so far… but I can basically teleport on a moment’s notice.” Look, you may think I’m cold hearted because I’m risking them killing my baby mama… but… you’re not seeing the obvious big picture… first off, there’s about a 20% chance that he’s going to let her live anyway… secondly, if you let him go… with that ultimate weapon, you’ve just killed potential BILLIONS!!! Besides, you also have about a 70% chance that she gets amnesia from being shot in the head & comes back in a sequel anyway… and your child is safe with Vin Diesel’s hotter Brazilian girlfriend (hotter than Michelle Rodriguez and NOT WORKING FOR THE BAD GUYS!!!) who’s obviously pretty open to any & all situations because… I feel like she’s not a real character in the series… she’s just there. So yeah, that’s why I go Dr. Love, DDS on his bitch ass if he threatens me in that situation. One of many similar situations in the movie that just don’t work for me.
Also, there were a few times where... we honestly had to stop, rewind, repeat a few times... just to find out what Vin Diesel was trying to say. There's one point in the movie where... I'm not sure if this is an exact quote... but it's right after the whole above situation... and he says something like "Those words were taken away when we were born" but it took about five times on repeat... and just an assumption that it had something to do with the previous statement to piece it together. I've basically come to the conclusion that Vin Diesel is this generation's Sylvester Stallone, whether good or bad. Sly has made some great movies... and some horrible sh*t in his time... and Vin Diesel has done the same. Sly has three solid franchises to his name (Rocky, Rambo & Expendables) where Vin current has Fast & Furious (legit), the whole Riddick thing (technically a trilogy) and... he may be coming back to do "XXX" or he's a voice in the whole "Guardians of the Galaxy". Sly's third trilogy didn't come until he was a good 30+ years into the game. They've both directed (Diesel not nearly as much but... wait until F&FXXV), they're both known for their great physiques & questionable plotted action flicks... and they both can barely speak for whatever reason. Annunciation is not their thing. Just something to keep an eye on as his career progresses... or regresses... whatever.
So yeah… I rag on it… but it’s an action movie. What do you really expect? If you’ve seen the first five… you’ll like this one… and the next seven or so until all the actors die off (too soon?) but I’m actually kind of excited for number seven. Not just for the picking out where they switched Paul Walker with a stand-in & superimpose his dreamy blue eyes… but… oh God… I don’t want to ruin it… but it’s already on IMDB so… f**k it. A few seconds into the credits… you find out… The Transporter (Jason Statham) is apparently the bad guy’s older brother… and he’s looking for VENGEANCE!!! AAAAGGGGGGHHHHH!!! F**king LOVE Hollywood!!! I’d be seeing it this summer if somebody had a professional driver (again, too soon?). It’s a tragedy… it really is… but still. I’ve probably said it… close to a hundred times on this blog. No exaggeration. Drink & drive responsibly, ladies & gentlemen! Here’s some news…
Damn, That’s a Cold Ass Honky - Newborn baby Bella Sophia Bonanni entered the world in quite a unique, wintery fashion. It was early in the morning when Bella’s mother, Shirley Kim Bonanni of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (not Mississippi) awoke to contractions that were 10 minutes apart. As reported by WPVI Action News, Shirley, not a first time mother, thought there was still time before she would go into labor. So, she was surprised when she, “Took a shower and after the shower it was like back to back contractions. And once we got out of the house there was no way that we were going to make it to the hospital.” Apparently this child snuck up on her like diarrhea. When Bella’s grandparents arrived to watch Logan, Shirley and Fabian’s 2-year-old son, the couple attempted to get to the hospital. But the family’s home sits on a steep hill and Shirley’s husband, Fabian was unable to drive the car up to get to his wife. Shirley was also unable to walk down the hill. That was not a problem because her well-prepared husband had a plan B in place: a sled. He told WPVI, "It seemed like it was walkable to the car. But I had the sleds just in case it was super-slippery, because we had that ice storm like a week or two ago." In minus 15 degree wind chills, Fabian placed Shirley in the sled and began to push her down to the car (wait, you mean… guide her down, not push her down the slippery hill on the sled, right?) and that’s when Bella decided it was time for her birth. Typical woman! Neighbors heard Shirley’s screams and helped the parents and grandparents with the delivery. Their neighbor, George Leader, told WKYW CBS Philly what happened on the side of the street in the sled, “The father right there. I was on the phone with 911 talking him through it. The in-laws were right there at the mother’s head helping her out. And we kind of all kicked into action and little Bella came out happy and healthy.” An ambulance made its way up the street (because they know how to drive in winter conditions?) to take the family to Temple University Hospital. 7 lb. 9 oz. baby Bella and her mother are doing well and will return home in a couple of days. Such a nice story… I guess.
I’ll just leave you with that… Bacon & Beer Day is tomorrow!!! Have a great weekend everybody!!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Winter Warmer & Honey Root Beer

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Saturday was a Brew Day!!! Dizzy & I woke up, none of the roommates were around… so we decided to start up our next batch of delicious brew…
The Winter Warmer
Basically it appears to be a bit of a brown ale with darker grains so that it’s primarily for sipping by the fireplace & warming the cockles of your heart while you enjoy family time. Of course, because none of the roommates were around mid-day on a Saturday and it was a perfect time to do it… they immediately showed up as soon as all of the stuff was getting sanitized in the kitchen. Oh well… it happens… and luckily they didn’t really need the kitchen other than to warm a few things up for lunch, etc. Yes… it’d be nice to have a garage or something to do the homebrewing in… but you work with what you have… and frankly, it’s not a bad situation at all. Maybe it’s just that I worry too much about being in my roommates’ ways… but I’ll get over it. They know how it goes. Anyway… we started with sanitizing the equipment… and then sparging out those delicious sugars for our wort…

Sparge the first bit... then put it back in so you get the good stuff...

Spent grains make good fertilizer...
even though we really don't care...
I'm guessing the birds don't mind

Add the hops...

Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize...
Now, we’re beginners with the mash-tun… and apparently we have a little learning to do. See… apparently what happens if that you have to make sure that you have enough water to sparge out all the goodies. If you’re making 5 gallons, then you’d think 5 gallons would be enough… and you’d be WRONG!!! The grains that you’re pulling the sugars from are all dried out, cracked to expose their innards, so you really have to calculate the amount of water that you use to get a desired amount of liquid through there. The dried grains will obviously rehydrate with the addition of the hot waters, some of the gelatinous qualities act up and basically, depending on the amount of grains used (in this case, about 12 pounds) we should’ve used somewhere in the range of 8-9 gallons of hot water for the total sparge to get the desired 5 gallons.
However, we didn’t really do a lot of calculations beforehand… so I think we only used about 7-8 gallons of sparge water… so we only ended up with about 3.5 gallons of wort when it was all said and done. Take into account the evaporation from the hour-long boil for the hops… and we basically ended up with three gallons of Winter Warmer for the primary fermenter. Not a complete loss obviously… but definitely could’ve used an extra two gallons. Rookie mistake that we’ll certainly learn from… and that’s why you live… so that you can learn.

From this point, the process will still basically be the same despite the lower amount of wort. We still add yeast, primary fermenting, secondary fermenting, bottling, and it should be ready in about six weeks. The best part about learning of this now… is that we’ll definitely have enough water ready for our next batch… which is our Oktoberfest batch… which I’m personally really excited about because I LOVE German biers. Also, we got a little bored trying to cool the hot wort as fast as possible... so we decided to take some pictures of melting ice like we're filming a glacier documentary like "Chasing Ice" and here are the results...

Another added bonus of the mashing & sparging… is that we then have a few pounds of extra “spent” well-hydrated grains that we can use for things like making bread. With just a few eggs, some flour, olive oil, etc. We took some of those grains that we would’ve just given away or thrown on the lawn as compost… and turned them into delicious high-fiber bread for… well, anything bread is used for. Sandwiches, snacks, soaking up beer, whatever. It’s really good stuff… and you can even dress it up more if you like by adding raisins and other things that people unnecessarily add to good old fashioned bread.

Honey Root Beer
Since we had the stuff out, we also decided to make a batch of Honey Root Beer. What makes it Honey Root Beer? Well, we used some delicious honey as the sugar instead of standard cane or corn sugar in the recipe. Here are some pictures before the process… honey on the bottom, extract & water on top...
This batch should be ready in a week which is perfect for our Bacon & Beer Day Celebration this Saturday!!! You know, a magnificent alternative for those who don’t want to have a bunch of homebrews, may not be of age (though I don’t know why they’d be hanging out with us), or just to try a twist on a classic. We’ll keep you posted.
Monday, we celebrated Martin Luther King Day by going to downtown Santa Rosa to try out a delicious sampler of beer at Russian River Brewing Company. During last weekend’s adventure, we didn’t really have suitable time to experience it… but we did this time. They were still pretty busy despite being just after noon when we arrived… but we got some Drew Bites (like a little pepperoni & peppercini pizza cut into little bites) and THIS SAMPLER!!!

There was also this car parked nearby...
Bay Area... it's what we do...

The beer was magnificent! We highly recommend it! The service was a little slow… but they were really busy, still pretty nice though. I just kinda had to make things happen to get the order in, get a check, and to help out… I even went & got my own drinks at the bar. I’m cool with it… but you just may not be expecting it.
Have a great day everybody!!! We’ll see you next weekend with a report on our Bacon & Beer Day Celebration!!!

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