May 11, 2013

This is what technology has come to

And not a moment too soon. Behold: Flying drone will air-drop beer to music festival attendees

Until now, a beer dropping out of the sky into the middle of a party has been a feat that only existed in TV commercials. Thanks to Darkwing Aerials though, attendees at the Oppikoppi music festival in South Africa can fulfill the dream of beer lovers everywhere and have a fresh brew delivered to them from above with the help of a flying drone.

Things like this restore my faith in humanity. Briefly, of course, but I'll take what I can get.

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November 11, 2011

Beer here!

Well, after a two year delay, brew day is almost upon me again (the third child kind of put a crimp in my brewing area- it became a nursery). The beer to brew? A Delirium Tremens clone. If you haven't had it yet -look for the bottle with the pink elephants on it- I strongly suggest that you go out and get a bottle. Drive back home, crack it open and sip it. Do not attempt to drive afterwards, as it is more than little potent.

Where was I? Oh yeah: ingredients. Turns out that mice really, really like malt sugar and since I don't enjoy poop and pee in my beer (kind of why I don't like Budweiser), I had to chuck it and order more. And here's where it gets funny: my supplier didn't ship it because one of the two yeasts I ordered was back ordered. They didn't bother to inform in time. Nice, huh? Anyway, I started scrambling for substitutes.

1) Grains of paradise: use cardamom or black peppercorns
2) Belgian candi sugar: use table sugar. Really.
3) Biscuit malt and aromatic malt? Well, this one is trickier because I cannot get the usual substitutes. However, I'm going to modify the amount of Cara-Pils I had planned to use and toss in some other crystal and chocolate malt. It'll be close enough.
4) Wyeast Belgian Abbey Ale or Belgian Strong Ale? Don't have them (thanks guys!), so I'm going to mix Belgian Abbey Ale II and some dry yeast.

Instead of brewing Delirium Tremens, I'm brewing Delirious Geek. My guess is that it will turn out just fine, albeit slightly different than what I was expecting. As with all brewing, ahem, experiments, I'm curious to see just how good the alternative recipe will be.

Bottling day will be a few weeks in the future. I'll provide an update then.

Oh, maybe you'd like to see the actual recipe? Here goes most of what I'll toss into the pot:

15 oz. mixed cara-pils, chocolate and Munich malt steeped in pot at 150F for 30 minutes. Strain water into brew pot. Sparge grains (fancy word for pouring water over/through grain) with 1/2 gallon of 150F water. Bring water to a boil, remove from the heat and add:

7.5 lb. M&F light dry malt extract
1.5 lbs table sugar (candi sugar substitute)
1 lb. Lyle's Golden Syrup
1.5 oz Williamette hops @ 4.7% AA (7.1 HBU) (bittering hop)

Add water in brew pot until the volume is 3.5 gallons. Boil for 45 minutes then add:

1/4 oz Williamette hops (flavor)
1/4 oz Cascade hops (flavor)
1 tsp Irish Moss

Boil for 11 minutes then add

1/4 oz. Cascade hops (aroma)
1/4 tsp cardamom or black peppercorns

Boil for 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and chill the wort for 20 minutes. Strain the cooled wort into the primary fermenter and add cold water to obtain 5-1/8 gallons. When temperature drops below 80F, pitch the yeast:

Wyeast Belgian Abbey Ale II
1 packet dry yeast

Ferment in the primary for 7 days or until fermentation slows, then rack (siphon) into the secondary stage fermenter (5 gallon glass carboy). Prime the beer win the second stage with another dose of the same strain of fresh yeast. In my case, I'll prime with Belgian Abbey Ale yeast, assuming it's sent to me. Bottle when fermentation is complete and beer has cleared (approximately 6 weeks) with:

1/2 cup corn sugar and 1/3 cup table sugar (candi sugar) that has been boiled in 2 cups water.

Happy brewing.

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August 31, 2011

Great American Beer Festival

Well, I'm headed back to Denver after a 2 year absence. Anyone interested in meeting up for some Fat Tire and a Thai Pie at Old Chicago's should leave me a message in the comments. I'll let you know how to find me.

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June 24, 2009

Brewing your first beer, post II: the ingredients

Our first beer is going to be an extract only brew and, to simply things even further, we're going to use what's called a beer kit. We will, however, discard the directions that come with the kit. Following those instructions reduces the chance of making a decent beer. Anyway.

So what kind of beer kit should you buy? Like anything else, it depends on what kind of beer you like. Stouts, pale ales, bitters, nut brown ale. For my part, I'm going to pick a nice, crisp, refreshing beer, one that will quench my summertime thirst. I'm not usually in the mood for a Guinness just after I've mowed the lawn. To that end, I've decided to brew my next beer using Coopers Draught malt extract kit. It comes in a 3.75 pound can, which isn't sufficient for a 5-gallon batch, meaning that I'll have to buy two. On to the next ingredient.

To magically transform malt sugar into alcohol, you're going to need yeast. Once again, we'll take the path of least resistance and use dried yeast. It's economical and easy to use. I've had good success using both Coopers Ale yeast and Doric ale yeast. The Munton's Ale yeast worked okay, too, but I've had more success with the other two. I recommend the Coopers Ale yeast because it ferments fairly well, even if the temperature climbs up out of the optimal range, which is certainly possible during the summer months.

The next ingredient is obvious: water. What may not be obvious, though, is that you shouldn't use plain old water straight out of the tap. Most municipal water systems are chlorinated and that stuff will make your beer taste like a child's wading pool. However, if your water is charcoal-filtered, you're all set. You could purchase 5-gallons of drinking water(not distilled) from the grocery store if you like, but I think it's unnecessary. Up to you, of course.

After your beer has fermented and you're ready to bottle, you'll have to add a little bit more yeast food to the beer so that it will carbonate in the bottle. So you'll need a little bit of corn sugar, about 3/4 cup or so. This is NOT table sugar and you won't find it in your grocery store. Just add it to your shopping cart when you're purchasing your other ingredients at the local homebrew supply shop.

Optional ingredient: some hop pellets for aroma/flavoring.

The kit you'll buy contains hops already, but these are bittering hops. There will be essentially no hop aroma from this kit unless you add some of your own. If you enjoy a nice hoppy aroma, you might consider tossing in 1/2 ounce of Cascade hop pellets. They have a great floral, citrusy aroma, which I really enjoy. Again, though, it's not necessary. Completely up to you.

To recap:

1) 2 x 3-4 pound cans of any hopped malt extract beer kit. I've chosen Coopers Draught kit for my brew; it comes in a 3.75 pound can.
NOTE: If your kit comes in a 6-7 pound can, you will only need one can. Just an FYI.

2) 5-gallons of water, with all of that nasty chlorine filtered out.

3) 1 package dried ale yeast, purchased separately from what's included with your beer kit

4) Optional: 1-ounce packet of Cascade hop pellets.

Up next in the series: brewing the darned thing.

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June 17, 2009

Brewing your first beer, post I: the equipment

Since this will be your first beer, we're going to keep things as simple as possible. Terms that you likely won't hear in this series:

1) sparging
2) protein rest
3) saccharification
4) isohumulone

Things that you are likely to hear:

1) boiling
2) carbonation
3) bottling
4) drinking

Anyway, there a variety of items that you could use for homebrewing, but I don't want to stress you out. In the motto of the American Homebrewers Association: Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew.

Okay, first things first. You will need a kettle to boil your beer in. Technically, the beer will be called wort at this stage. And now you've added a new word to your vocabulary, although I haven't found a way to use it in conversations NOT about brewing.

Back to the boiling pot. It should be at least 3 gallons, although 5 gallons is probably better and 10 gallons would be better still. But if you want to save money, stick with the smaller pot. Some people get a little too serious about the type of kettle: ceramic coated stainless, pure stainless steel, pots that come with your own personal Emeril to screech "BAM!" every time you add something to it. Me? I went the inexpensive route and bought an aluminum pot. But hey, it's your setup. Whatever makes you happy.

Next on the list as a must have item is a fermentation vessel. You have a couple of realistic choices here as a homebrewer: glass or plastic. 5 gallon glass carboys are easy to find and they're not too expensive. Since you'll typically brew 5 gallon batches, though, you will need to use a blowoff tube for the first couple of days and then add on a fermentation lock. If that sounds like too much effort, a 6-1/2 gallon carboy is probably a better choice because you can stick the lock on top from the get go. And having said all that, I suggest that you go with a plastic fermentation vessel for your first batch. They're usually 6-1/2 to 7 gallons in capacity and have airtight lids with a single opening for your fermentation lock. Also, they're pretty much unbreakable, which isn't the case for glass fermentation vessels. Again, it's your call.

On second thought, you'll probably want to go ahead and order a 5 gallon glass carboy, or at least put it on lay-away. Glass is absolutely required for secondary fermentation. Granted, we won't bother with that for our first beer, but we will for future brews.

How will you get the beer into your fermentation vessel? You're going to need a pretty large plastic funnel. Maybe not for your first beer, but definitely for the next one.

If you want some idea of the potential alcohol in your brew, you'll need a hydrometer, a device used to measure the specific gravity of liquids. The more sugar that's dissolved in the beer, the greater potential alcohol content. And a floating thermometer is useful as well. It's bad form to add yeast to your brew while it''s too hot. Also, you'll need to know the temperature of your wort when taking the specific gravity if you want to correctly determine the specific gravity of your beer.

Since I mentioned fermentation locks in the preceding paragraph, I might as well discuss those next. There are several types available. A picture of the two most common ones can be found here. They both accomplish the same task: let carbon dioxide from the fermentation escape while preventing anything from getting back into the beer.

Once fermentation has completed, you'll need a bottling bucket. I suggest that you buy one with a spigot already attached. You will rack(siphon) the beer from the fementation vessel into the bottling bucket using a racking cane. This prevents having a lot of yeasty sludge from ending up in your bottles. Also, you'll probably want to buy a spring-loaded bottle filler, which makes filling up the bottles a much simpler task. It also leaves about the perfect amount of headspace in each bottle. In my opinion, this small piece of equipment will make your bottling experience less painless.

You'll need bottles, too, about 50-60 12-ounce bottles, or 25 24-ounce bottles. How do you aquire them? Well, you could buy brand spanking new bottles from the store, but I tend to get them from my other friends that drink beer, asking them to save all of their empties. My pals are usually very helpful in this regard, especially after I've promised to give them some samples of my homebrew. By the way, ask your friends to rinse the bottles after they're empty. Cleaning mold out of bottles isn't an enjoyable task.

Okay, you've filled your bottles with your beer. Now you need to cap them. This means, of course, that you will need 50-60 unused bottle caps, as well as a bottle capper to put them onto the bottles. Again, go the inexpensive route and purchase a lever-armed bottle capper. Bench cappers are nice, but more expensive, and they require more effort on your part if the bottles aren't all the same size, which is likely to be the case if you're using castoff empties.

I almost forgot: you'll need a couple of pieces of plastic tubing, too. One piece will attach to the racking cane and another to the bottle filler.

I think that our brewing list is pretty much complete. Let's recap what you'll need:

1 3-5 gallon brewing kettle
1 5 or 6 gallon glass carboy
1 6.5 to 7.5 gallon "food grade" plastic fermenter with airtight locking lid
1 6 foot length of 3/8-inch inside diameter clear plastic tubing
1 racking cane
1 fermentation lock
1 rubber stopper to fit the fermentation lock(It's bad form to not notice until you're pitching the yeast that they don't fit. Not that I know from experience or anything. I'm just saying.)

1 2-3 foot length of 3/8-inch outside diameter tubing which should fit the next item
1 spring-loaded bottling wand
1 large plastic funnel
1 floating thermometer
1 hydrometer
1 bottle capper, for which you'll need lots of new bottle caps.
50-60 beer bottles, preferably the non-screwtop type. Brown glass is the best, but pretty much anything will work.

I forgot to mention how important proper sanitation is. Let's go the cheap route yet again and use unscented household bleach. You don't want your beer to taste lemony fresh. Ugh.

That's enough to get started. We'll go over the limited ingredient list in the next post in this series.

What's that you say? You don't have a brewshop in your town? Have no fear, there are shops all over the country that will gladly ship the stuff right to your door. Check here and here. If you don't find what you're looking for there, then check out these links. Oh, and lots of places sell beginner kits containing most or all of the equipment listed above. Your mileage may vary.

See you next post.

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June 09, 2009

Personal preference given thumbs up by medical science

Part of the reason that I run on a regular basis is that I can ingest a few more calories than I would otherwise be able to. Many times, I've refreshed myself with a chilly beverage consisting of unfermented malt sugars and yeast pee and carbonated via yeast farts. As it happens, my rehydration technique is a healthy one. Excerpt:

Researchers at Granada University in Spain have come across a discovery that will undoubtedly please athletes and sports enthusiasts - a pint of beer post-workout or match is better at rehydrating the human body than water.

Professor Manuel Garzon, a member of Granada's medical faculty, made the finding after tests on 25 students over several months. Researchers believe that it is the sugars, salts, and bubbles in a beer that may help people absorb fluids more quickly.

The subjects in the study were asked to run on a treadmill at temperatures of 104F (40C) until they were close to exhaustion. Once they had reached the point of giving up, researchers measured their hydration levels, motor skills, and concentration ability.

Half of the subjects were given two half pints of Spanish lager to drink, and the other half were given just water.

Garzon said that the rehydration effection in those who were given beer was "slightly better" than those who were given only water. He also believes that the carbon dioxide in beer helps quench thirst more quickly, and that beer's carbohydrates replace calories lost during physical exertion.

Salt, Fat, Sugar, Beer and Caffeine: The Five Basic Food Groups. Coming soon to a PBS documentary near you.

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April 08, 2009

Really popular science

Ever have a warm 6-pack sitting around and wished you could chill it in seconds? Well, now you can.

Yes, I saw Mythbusters do the whole beer chilling episode. However, the geek cred for their icy brine solution is way less than the one seen here.

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October 29, 2008

Back to basics

While I have an interest in how this election plays out, I think that it's time to return to my second love: brewing beer. Physics, of course, is my first love, which is why, of course, I had to pick a second love that wasn't a person. Lookin' for love in all the wrong places? Well, the physics department is one of those wrong places.

Anyway. When last I started on my brewing your first beer series, I ended with Brew Day. I-

Okay, it's been 3 years. Bite me.

- never got around to bottling your beer. That will be my next post, which post will pop up before election day. So far as you know, anyway.

In the interim, I leave you with a picture that proves there is a God:

I really need to make shirt out of that image.

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October 13, 2008

My liver is in open revolt

And my kidneys have decided to vacation on the French Riviera to recuperate from this past weekend's trip to the GABF. On the plus side, the ache in my feet has subsided and the foul emissions of methane (prompted by lots of cask conditioned ales plus lots and lots of greasy food) have been reduced to a point where coworkers in neighboring cubes have stopped clawing at their throats and faces.

Lots of pictures and commentary to post in the near future. To whet your appetite, or kill it as the case may be, I'll leave you with this shot of me. While I truly have a face for radio, I will offer the defense that I was sleep deprived and alcohol, well, whatever the opposite of deprived is. Picture below the fold, for those of you with strong stomachs.

gabf 2935425979_102727ab52.jpg

Update: In case you're curious as to why the photos are in B&W, it's because of the FUBARed lighting in the Convention Center. I thought it was simply my cheap ass camera, but my friend has a much nicer camera and stuff still looked grotesquely yellow. Close pictures using a flash turned out okay, but anything using ambient light looked like a jaundice sufferer's hallucination.

And just to get you in the mood, here's one more photo:

gabf 2936313604_f229d71c4f.jpg

Observant readers will have noticed the beer holder belt buckle on display in the image above. Yes, it looks like you're holding your beer with your junk, but that's only because you are.

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October 06, 2008

GABF personal update

Well, this Thursday morning, around oh-shit thirty, I and 3 friends will drag ourselves to the airport, at which point we'll get lashed to the wings and dragged along at 37,000 feet to Denver.

Oh wait, I wasn't able to use frequent flyer miles. We paid cash this time, which means that we'll get to ride inside, which is nice.

I still don't know what geographic area of the Convention Center I will be assigned to, but you might be able to find me wandering around downtown Denver Thursday, Friday and Saturday. At least one of those days, probably Thursday, I'll be at Rock Bottom Brewery along the 16th Street Marketplace. I'll be easy to find, as I'll be wearing my Ace t-shirt or my Nuke the Moon t-shirt from IMAO. Probably the former, though, because I want to wear the nuke shirt around Boulder just to see how people respond.

Oh, and late Thursday night, we'll finish off the day with a Thai Pie washed down with some Fat Tire at Old Chicago's. We'll be easy to find, as we'll be the guys who haven't slept in 24 hours while drinking massive quantities of beer.

Come to think of it, we won't be that easy to find. The GABF brings lots of like minded individuals to Denver.

Update: Well, I know where we'll be now. From an email received about 30 seconds ago:

We have 1 ˝ islands this year. The full island is a combination of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. ... Oh and we also have the Bull & Bush band in our area again.

The Bull & Bush group is a lot of fun. I'll make nice again with them to try and score some swag. Oh, and come Saturday evening, I'll have enough temporary beer tatoos on my face and arms that it'll look like I stepped out of a Ray Bradbury novel.

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September 25, 2008

Coming soon

Well, this year's trip to Denver will mark my 10th mostly annual (my daughter was born GABF weekend one year) pilgrimage to the Great American Beer Festival. As yet, I don't know which section I will be volunteering in, although I can predict with a great degree of certainty that it will be somewhere within the 50 (or 57) states. In any event, if any readers or fellow MuNuvians are in the Denver area Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, October 9-11, look for me in the Colorado Convention Center or in the downtown area. Outside of the GABF, I'll be wearing my Ace t-shirt or my Nuke the Moon! t-shirt. Inside the hall, I'll be wearing a volunteer t-shirt over my nasty conservative credentials. However, once I find out what section I'll be pouring in, I'll post it on this blog.

One final thought: we typically head down to Old Chicago's for a Thai Pie and pitcher of Fat Tire after the festival ends, so I can be found down there between 10:30 p.m. and midnight most days.

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June 16, 2008

It's where the beer is

Every year at the GABF, some moron says to me, "You mean that you come all this way just for the beer?" No, I come each year because it's legal, for the duration of the Great American Beer Festival, to slap people asking stupid questions.

Yeah, the conversation tends to go downhill after that.

Anyway. Fresh meat Another friend is making his first trek to Denver with me this, bringing our total number of drunken idiots beer lovers from Virginia to 4, which is what it used to be before the other two guys wimped out. If anyone wants to stop by for a chat, let me know in advance and I'll tell you where you can find me. Maybe we can grab some more beer afterwards. I plan to, regardless, but YMMV.

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May 27, 2008

That brown sudsy stuff? I've heard good things about it.

If you're interested in such things, you might want to check out the website Beer Suggest. From their "About" page:

Beer Suggest is a niche community for beer lovers. The goal of Beer Suggest is to provide the most informative beer site on the net. This is a quite a hefty task, which is why we look to you, the user to help build this website.

Beer Suggest compiles beer reviews, brewery info and a list of beer related events. You might want to check it out. Register for free and start rating/reviewing your favorite brews.

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January 16, 2008

From the cradle of life

Or the James Gate Brewery in Dublin; I forget which.


Guinness: Tipping Point
Uploaded by Razorbuzz

Thanks to Bill Quick for the link.

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October 01, 2007

The time is nigh

The GABF is once again about to kick off in Denver, Colorado. I will be there-again- for my 9th trip in the last 10 years; I took off one year when my daughter chose the GABF weekend to be born. Such is life. In any event, I'll be there Thursday thru Saturday. If anyone wants to meet up for a brew or 1200, look for me in the Mountain section. Or is the Mountain West section? I forget. In any event, I'll be pouring Thursday/Friday/Saturday evening, leaving Saturday afternoon for my free drinking session. And I'll end each day with a Thai pie and a Fat Tire at Old Chicago's, which means that I'll start each day with a ginormous fart. Hey, it's worth it, to me anyway. My roommates might disagree. In any event, see (maybe) some of you there. Drop me a line if you're interested in some real life geekery.

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August 16, 2007

Mark your calendar

The Great American Beer Festival, 2007 edition, will occur on October 11, 12 and 13 this year. It's located at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. Individual sessions can be a bit pricey, but there's a way around that: volunteer. And if you volunteer for 3 sessions, you get into the 4th one for free.

If anyone in the MuNu family- or anyone else, for that matter- wants to drop by the Denver area for a beer or 1200, I'll be there. Drop me a line if you think that you might be interested. I'll be easy to find, as my volunteer group is in the Mountain section this year, and I'll be wearing either my SciFi Book Club hat or my Cheerwine hat.

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August 06, 2007

Tastes crappy, but definitely less filling

So the world's first virtual poured beer will appear sometime later this week. Color me unimpressed. What will impress is when a click of the mouse fills my actual mug with actual beer. Until then, go away and play with your silly computer graphics. Crap, it's not like there are any naked women or cool D&D characters being animated.

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May 16, 2007

Pizza flavored beer

'Nuff said.

Thanks go to Dave Barry for the link.

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May 10, 2007

My lost weekend

Okay, it was only about 35 minutes, not a whole weekend, but I had my role as navigator revoked as a result. I'm still not certain if the revocation is permanent or not.

Anyway. My buddies and I drove down to Raleigh recently for the World Beer Festival. The weather was pretty much perfect for an outdoor festival: it was sunny and the temperature was in the low 70s. And there were lots of breweries, most of which had beers which ranged from good to great. Abita, Sierra Nevada, Chimay and lots of others besides. Also, there was a lot of good food, which proved useful in washing down the beer.

So we sipped and supped for a few hours, being careful to not become drunk because we had to drive back home to Richmond, and then we hiked back to the car and got started on our return journey. And this is where the... fun began.

I remember getting into the front seat and relaxing, closing my eyes a bit while the three of us started some chit chat about Highlander cards and-

I DID mention that they were friends of mine, right? You shouldn't be surprised at nerd games being discussed. Probably none of you are.

- then everything kind of blanked out for a while. For me. To me, I was asleep. Oddly, and unfortunately for my friends in the car with me, I continued to speak. According to them -and I have no reason to doubt- I even waved my hand in front of the driver's face a couple of times to see if he was awake.

I know what you're thinking: this sounds like something that I could be mocked about, but no real harm done. That's where you'd be wrong. In my somnolent, yet conversant, state, I apparently replied a couple of times to, well, here's a sample of what was said:

Driver: Are you sure that we're going the right way?

Me: Sure, you're fine.

Well, the statement was true as a point of fact. Jeff was fine and dandy. Physically. However, we were NOT going the right way. In fact, we were going in what would best be described as the opposite of the right way. We wanted to go north and we were seeing signs for US-1, south, which sort of tipped us off. And by us, I include myself because I finally woke up. Despite assertions to the contrary, my higher brain functions were not working during that period. You could make the argument that they never work, but that's a different argument. In any event, we stopped at a Quickie Mart or something and asked the guy how to get to I-95. He wasn't sure, but he did laugh out loud when we told him where we wanted to go.

To the backseat I went. Being fully awake now, I made some comments about which exit to take, which lane to be in; my sister lives in Raleigh and I'm more than little familiar with the area. To each comment, Jeff asked, "So other guy not named Physics Geek, which way do we go? Or is the cause of our 1-1/2 hour delay in getting home actually correct this time?"

The mocking is certain to follow me to my grave, but it's well deserved. I'm still curious as to how I managed to give the appearance of being awake while not actually being so. It would allow me to catch up on my sleep at work. Then again, sleeping next to the Big Red Button would get me fired, so maybe I'll think on it a little more.

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April 04, 2007

In a nutshell

Courtesy of Val comes this comic strip which, I believe, encapsulates my life:

pearls before swine beer.gif

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March 13, 2007

An idea whose time has come

I'm so proud of this Duke graduate that I could cry.

When John Cornwell graduated from Duke University last year, he landed a job as software engineer in Atlanta but soon found himself longing for his college lifestyle.

So the engineering graduate built himself a contraption to help remind him of campus life: a refrigerator that can toss a can of beer to his couch with the click of a remote control.

"I conceived it right after I got out," said Cornwell, a May 2006 graduate from Huntington, N.Y. "I missed the college scene. It embodies the college spirit that I didn't want to let go of."

It took the 22-year-old Cornwell about 150 hours and $400 in parts to modify a mini-fridge common to many college dorm rooms into the beer-tossing machine, which can launch 10 cans of beer from its magazine before needing a reload.

With a click of the remote, fashioned from a car's keyless entry device, a small elevator inside the refrigerator lifts a beer can through a hole and loads it into the fridge's catapult arm. A second click fires the device, tossing the beer up to 20 feet -- "far enough to get to the couch," he said.

Is there a foam explosion when the can is opened? Not if the recipient uses "soft hands" to cradle the can when caught, Cornwell said.

In developing his beer catapult, Cornwell said he dented a few walls and came close to accidentally throwing a can through his television. He's since fine-tuned the machine to land a beer where he usually sits at home, on what he called "a right-angle couch system."

For now, the machine throws only cans, although Cornwell has thought about making a version that can throw a bottle. The most beer he has run through the machine was at a party, when he launched a couple of 24-can cases.

"I did launch a lot watching the Super Bowl," he said. "My friends are the reason I built it. I told them about the idea and hyped it so much and I had to go through with it."

A video featuring the device is a hit on the Internet, where more than 600,000 people have watched it at metacafe.com, earning Cornwell more than $3,000 from the Web site.

Cornwell said he has talked to a brewing company about the machine, but right now only one exists. Asked if he might start building some for sale, he said: "I'm keeping that option open, depending on interest."

When Cornwell was a student at Duke he participated in the engineering school's robotic basketball contests, said mechanical engineering Professor Bob Kielb. He said students tried to build a robot that could retrieve a pingpong ball and toss it into a small hoop.

"He always did well in it," Kielb said. "He came up with completely unique ideas."

And here's the video.

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August 18, 2006

Hope in our time

I believe in these difficult and mean-spirited times in which we live there needs to be a message of hope. Just a single image that speaks to us of love, harmony, peace and joy. An image that suggests the universal brotherhood of man. I have found that image, and I ask that all of you take a moment to be inspired by it.

image of hope.jpg

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July 27, 2006

25 is a good age

Feel like celebrating a birthday? The Great American Beer Festival turns 25 this year, September 28-30 at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. This will mark my 8th pilgrimage to the holy festival during the last 9 years. I missed one year because my daughter was born that weekend which, I felt, was a pretty good reason to stay home. I didn't miss it 10 days after returning from my honeymoon, though, because my wife was fine with me going.

Am I a lucky man or what?

Anyway, if anyone's heading to Denver that weekend, I'd be glad to meet up for, umm, some beer drinking.

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June 19, 2006

American Beer month is almost here

But the party has begun early. Join in the celebration by celebrating Wheat Beer Week. And here is a list of some foods that go well with wheat beers:


The flavors of wheat beer go great with many foods, especially summertime fare. The classic pairing with spicy-fruity hefe-weizens is a bratwurst or a veal weisswurst, but it goes well with nearly any grilled or smoked food.

Try it with barbeque ribs, roasted vegetables or marinated pork chops. And speaking of grilling, American wheat ales are the perfect compliment to grilled fish, be it salmon, tuna or trout. Since it is summertime, don't forget the salads!

The clove-like accents of weizen make a perfect compliment to summer potato salad while wheat ales go great with a tangy, vinegar-based dressings. So for this weekend's cookout, try your favorite wheat beer with your own barbequed specialty.

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May 16, 2006

Proof that there is a God

My goodness, my Guinness wasn't just a slogan: it was a prophecy. Excerpt:


Drinking a pint of beer a day may stave off osteoporosis, scientists have said.

New research shows that the alcohol in beer appears to suppress the hormones that promote bone loss. And researchers say it may have a better effect on preventing bone loss than calcium.

I believe that I'll go home and protect my bones a bit tonight. Thanks to the Real Beer Blog for the link.

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May 05, 2006

Someone needs a thicker skin

Ben and Jerry's ice cream is pretty tasty stuff. I'm especially fond of a new a flavor that they make, Black and Tan. Any beer drinker in the US worth his/her salt is familiar with the Guinness/Bass combo beverage. As with anything these days, someone took offense. What's worse, in my opinion, is that Ben and Jerry's apologized. Excerpt:


Ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's have apologized for causing offence by calling a new flavor "Black & Tan" -- the nickname of a notoriously violent British militia that operated during Ireland's war of independence.

The ice cream, available only in the United States, is based on an ale and stout drink of the same name.

"Any reference on our part to the British Army unit was absolutely unintentional and no ill-will was ever intended," said a Ben & Jerry's spokesman.

"Ben & Jerry's was built on the philosophies of peace and love," he added.

The Black and Tans, so-called because of their two-tone uniforms, were recruited in the early 1920s to bolster the ranks of the police force in Ireland as anti-British sentiment grew.

They quickly gained a reputation for brutality and mention of the militia still arouses strong feelings in Ireland.

"I can't believe that Ben & Jerry's would be so insensitive to call an ice cream such a name and to launch it as a celebration of Irishness ... it's an insult!" wrote one blogger on www.junkfoodblog.com.

Someone in Ireland got the vapors because a US ice cream manufacturer made an unintentional reference to some obscure group of British thugs. Holy crap, I can't believe that share some (distant)blood with these people.

Hat tip to the Real Beer Page blog.

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May 04, 2006

Drink, don't drive

A slogan that I can get behind:

drink dont drive.jpg

Update: Looks like VW beat me to it this time. Our email forwarding friends must be very similar.

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March 14, 2006

Magic faucet

I wish that the plumber in this story would work on my house. I'll even pay extra. Excerpt:


Haldis Gundersen was planning to do the washing up when she made the unusual discovery at her apartment in Kristiansund, west Norway.

But two flights below, workers in a bar faced the more disappointing realisation that water was flowing from their beer taps.

A worker had connected a beer barrel to the apartment water pipe by mistake.

"I turned on the tap to clean some knives and forks, and beer came out," Ms Gundersen told Reuters news agency. "We thought we were in heaven."

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March 07, 2006

Beer blogging

Beer Therapy is up and running at Realbeer.com.

Is it really a blog? Well, you can leave comments and/or trackbacks, so survey says Yes. Into the blogroll with ye.

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Cure for what ails you

Ever had a hangover? Surprisingly, I've never had the pleasure, despite deserving one many times in the past. However, for those of you who occassionally suffer from one, here is some advice for you:


Hangovers happen

Hangovers are easy to avoid. Don't drink. Or at least don't drink too much. Because physicians do not absolutely know what causes a "hangover" there are many suggestions for a) avoiding them and b) for recovering quickly when a) fails.

What causes hangovers?

- Drinking alcohol. But you probably knew that.

- Dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic; it makes you urinate and flushes fluids from the body. Drinking coffee only makes matters worse, because coffee also is a diuretic. The dehydration caused by alcohol and coffee can be minimized by drinking plenty of water. A headache is a symptom of dehydration and may be eased with pain relievers and water.

- Some alcohol is worse than others. Brandy, red wine, rum, whisky, beer, white wine, gin and vodka are worst to least in descending order of likelihood to cause a hangover. The British Medical Journal did tests that showed drinking bourbon is twice as likely to cause a hangover than the same amount of vodka.

- Different drinks for different folks. If you are allergic to yeast, for instance, unfiltered microbrewed beer might leave you with a terrible headache. Certain people are senstive to sulphur dioxide, an inti-oxidizing agent added to many wines to keep them fresh; others get headaches from chemical substance found in dark grape skins. The latter will drink white wine with no effects, and suffer with red wines.

- Mixing drinks can cause hangovers. Be careful with what you’re drinking and when you’re drinking it. Remember this rhyme: "Beer before liquor, never sicker. Liquor before beer, never fear." Beer or any other carbonated alcoholic beverage is absorbed much more quickly into your body. Drinking it before other alcoholic beverages will cause them to be absorbed more quickly as well.

- The rate at which one absorbs alcohol can depend on mood — increased adrenaline pushes alcohol through the system much faster. Therefore, feeling deeply depressed or ecstacially happy makes you drunk faster.

Taking preventitive steps

- Begin by considering your height, weight and personal tolerance for alcohol when drinking.

- Drink a glass of milk to start the evening. It will retard the absorption of alcohol, and protect your stomach against irritations.

- Never drink on an empty stomach. Food helps to absorb some of the alcohol and aids the body in digesting it faster. Consider eating starchy foods to slow the alcohol absorption.

- Limit yourself to less than one drink per hour.

- Drink a glass of water between each beer you order.

- Back in the '60s, a navy subcontractor provided "hangover shots," vitamin B injections, in the infirmaries of its many large U.S. centers. The shots were massive replacements of the water-soluble vitamins the previous night's massive consumption of alcohol had dehydrated right out of people. A good dose of water mixed with brewer's yeast (which is full of Vitamin B) before going to bed is a poor man's option.

- Even if you pass on the Vitamin B, drink lots of water before going to bed.

You're hung over - some cures?

- Sleep. It gives your body time to recover. A tired or unfit drinker is especially vulnerable to hangovers.

- Keep drinking water.

- Eat. Complex carbohydrates such as bread and pasta will raise your blood sugar level. Bananas are excellent because they contain complex carbohydrates, potassium and Vitamin C. And if your stomach can't face food? Chamomile tea is best, and make the first cup really strong. The chamomile will help your stomach, and if you take in quantities of water with the tea, it will ease the pain.

- Exercise. This will help you sweat the alcohol out of your system.

- Sex. See exercise.

There are doctors who claim hangovers are mostly mental. In that case you may feel the need to punish yourself with a more exotic cures. If so, try the Middle Ages mixture of bitter almonds and raw eel. Or mix together vinegar and raw eggs, and swig them down with a giant gulp.

You might decide you were better off stopping at cure No. 5 above.

Reprinted from Realbeer.com.

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Something's wrong here

Good: Someone won Beerdrinker of the Year for 2006.

Bad: It wasn't me. Bastards.

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February 24, 2006

Public Service Announcement

Police are warning all men who frequent clubs, parties and local pubs to be alert and stay cautious when offered a drink from any woman. Many females use a date rape drug on the market called "Beer."

The drug is found in liquid form and is available anywhere. It comes in bottles, cans, or from taps and in large "kegs". Beer is used by female sexual predators at parties and bars to persuade their male victims to go home and sleep with them. A woman needs only to get a guy to consume a few units of Beer and then simply ask him home for no strings attached sex.

Men are rendered helpless against this approach. After several beers, men will often succumb to the desires to sleep with horrific looking women whom they would never normally be attracted. After drinking beer, men often awaken with only hazy memories of exactly what happened to them the night before, often with just a vague feeling that "something bad" occurred.

At other times these unfortunate men are swindled out of their life’s savings, in a familiar scam known as "a relationship." In extreme cases, the female may even be shrewd enough to entrap the unsuspecting male into a longer term form of servitude and punishment referred to as "marriage." Men are much more susceptible to this scam after beer is administered and sex is offered by the predatory females.

Please! Forward this warning to every male you know. If you fall victim to this "Beer" scam and the women administering it, there are male support groups where you can discuss the details of your shocking encounter with similarly victimized men. For the support group nearest you, just look up "Golf Courses" in the phone book.

Check out this video to see how beer works.

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November 22, 2005

Help your fellow beer drinker

Have you ever been so drunk that you needed someone else to help you hold your beer while you drank? Did you ever thank that person properly? I thought not. Well, in rememberance of that special person from your dark, misspent youth, I give you this picture.

More beer and, umm, large tracts of land pictures here and here.

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November 08, 2005

We knew that it was good

Turns out that it's good for you, too. Beer, that is. Excerpt:


"Mmmm … beer."

This oft-repeated sentiment of Homer Simpson is a mantra for the millions of beer drinkers in the United States. As popular as beer is, however, it often has gotten a bad rap as a calorie-loaded beverage that only serves to create paunchy beer bellies and alcohol-fueled lapses in judgment.

But that negative image may begin to fade: Research is showing that beer could join the ranks of other guilt-inducing but wildly popular foods — chocolate, coffee and red wine — as a possible disease-fighter.

It turns out that beer hops contain a unique micronutrient that inhibits cancer-causing enzymes. Hops are plants used in beer to give it aroma, flavor and bitterness.

The compound, xanthohumol, was first isolated by researchers with Oregon State University 10 years ago. Initial testing was promising, and now an increasing number of laboratories across the world have begun studying the compound, said Fred Stevens, an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry at Oregon State's College of Pharmacy.

Earlier this year, a German research journal even devoted an entire issue to xanthohumol, he said.

What Stevens and others are discovering is that xanthohumol has several unique effects. Along with inhibiting tumor growth and other enzymes that activate cancer cells, it also helps the body make unhealthy compounds more water-soluble, so they can be excreted.

I wonder if alcohol is one of the unhealthy compounds of which they speak? Then again, who cares?

Thanks to blogless friend Jeff for the link.

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September 28, 2005

I'm going for some beer

Be back soon

Well, it's off to Denver and the GABF tomorrow morning. Three days of tasting/drinking good beer.

In my opinion, the GABF would be a great setting for a blogger get together. If anyone else is of the same mind, we could try to work something out for next year. Even if you don't like beer(HERETIC!!!), it's a lot of fun.

See y'all when I get back.

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July 18, 2005

Beer of the week

Here's a friendly reminder that July is American Beer Month. This week we're celebrating the American Amber Ale. Excerpt:


American amber is noteworthy for its relatively even balance between malt and hop expression. This is quite unusual, and not only for newer American beer styles. In most instances balance does not imply equal proportions of sweetness and bitterness (malt and hop). On the contrary, it should be judged solely in terms of the appropriateness for its style. For example, pale ale is typically dry and assertively bitter, not sweet and malty. On the other hand, brown ale tends to have more malt sweetness and toastiness, with decidedly less hop expression. The proper balance for each is quite different. In amber ales, hops and malts mesh almost perfectly - both are evident, but neither dominates.

Look here for some foods that go well with this type of beer.

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July 15, 2005

Beer news

Well, since my next post in the Brewing Your First Beer series will be about bottling, it seems appropriate to throw in a link to bottle-conditioning, which is the method we will use to carbonate our beers.
For more beer history, check out this site.

Links courtesy of Jennifer's History and Stuff.

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July 12, 2005

Homebrew stuff

Looking for beer recipes? A recipe calculator? Back issues of the Homebrew Digest in HTML format? Look no further than The Brewery.

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July 05, 2005

Brewing your first beer, post III: brew day

You've finally acquired the ingredients for your beer and it's sitting in a corner next to your equipment. Now it's time to get cracking so that your beer will be ready to drink before month's end. Let's get started:
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: All temperatures listed below are in degrees Fahrenheit. If you need to convert to degrees Celsius, here's a handy-dandy tool.

1) Immerse your cans of hopped malt extract in warm water for about 20-30 minutes. This will make it much easier to remove the syrup from the cans, which is a good thing. Malt extract syrup is gummy, sticky stuff. Dump the cans of malt extract into your brewing kettle which should already contain 1-1/2 gallons(US). If you use filtered water, you 'll be fine. If you don't, you might consider buying some "drinking water"; distilled water isn't a good choice. Regardless, bring all ingredients to a boil for 15 minutes. If you happened to buy some hop pellets, add 1/2 ounce 10 minutes into the boil, or 5 minutes from the end. This will impart a nice hop aroma to your beer. However, this step is entirely optional. No hops? No worries.

2) Sanitize your fermenter in a dilute solution of bleach and water. Add 1/4 cup bleach to your empty plastic fermenter and fill with cold water. Let stand for about 20 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with hot water to remove all traces of chlorine.
NOTE***: Sanitizing your equipment is the single most important thing that you will do when making your beer. Fortunately, it's also one of the easiest.

3) Add 3 gallons of filtered(or bottled) water to your sanitized fermenter. It should be cold; room temperature isn't good enough. An hour or two in the fridge should be sufficient.

4) Carefully, pour your hot wort(that's the mixture of hops, malt and water you've been boiling on your stove) into the plastic fermenter, splashing noisily. This will provide sufficient aeration for the little yeasties that you'll be adding.

Note: If you jumped the gun and bought a glass carboy, you'll need to use extra care. Make certain the 3 gallons of water you dumped into it are very cold. This will prevent the carboy from breaking due to the thermal shock of having boiling water added to it. Also, you'll need to pour the hot wort through a funnel to get it into the carboy. Then swirl the water around to make certain everything's been mixed well.

Optional Take a specific gravity reading using your hydrometer. It comes with a little tube in which you'll place some beer and then float the hydrometer on it. Feel free to skip this step for your first batch.

5) Add the yeast when the temperature drops below 78 degrees. You'll want to sanitize your thermometer before using it; I usually dip mine in some cheap vodka, which prevents the possibility of some nasty chemicals getting into the beer.

6) Seal the lid onto your plastic fermentation vessel and attach the fermentation lock. Again, I prefer to use vodka in the lock, as opposed to any type of sanitizing solution. Should the temperature drop suddenly, it will be vodka getting sucked back into my beer instead of bleach. If you're using a glass fermenter, sanitize the rubber cork, plug the carboy and attach the fermentation lock to that. Everything else stays the same.

Within a couple of days, and probably within the first 24 hours, an agressive fermentation will begin. The lock will be bubbling like crazy.

7) Sometime between day 7 and day 14, the fermentation will complete. When there's no noticeable activity in the fermentation lock for a couple of days, your beer will be ready to bottle. Which will be the topic of the next post in this series.

Happy brewing.

Update: After my fermentation lock foamed over from the fermenting beer, it occurred to me that maybe I should mentioned a little thing called a blow-off tube. What is it? Simply a piece of flexible plastic tubing inserted into the stopped hole where your fermentation lock goes. If you're fermenting in either a 6-1/2 gallon plastic pail or a 6-1/2 gallon carboy, a blow-off tube is unnecessary. If, like me, you're using a 5-1/2 glass carboy, a blow-off tube is pretty useful. Otherwise, you'll find foam pouring out of the top of your fermentation lock when you go check on your beer. Anyway, here's what you do:

6A) Seal the lid onto your plastic fermentation vessel and attach the blowoff tube. Submerge the open end of the tube into a dish containing an inch or so of water. After a few days, or when foam stops pouring out of your tube, remove the tube from the runner stopper and attach the fermentation lock. All other info in #6 above remains the same.

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June 30, 2005

It's the water that counts

Heh.
Double-heh.

Update: Blog-City sotres my ASF files in a non-clickable format now. Anyone know how to get around this problem? I converted the file to an AVI, but the damned thing grew from 1.9 Mb to 122 Mb. Suggestions, please.

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June 29, 2005

Mead moon

Reprinted from Mead Lover's Digest #1194:


Centuries ago, Eastern and Northern Europeans would celebrate the summer solstice with mystical pagan customs intended to produce healing, fertility and prosperity. During Midsummer Eve, the night before the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (usually June 21st), and people would light huge bonfires to symbolize light triumphing over darkness and life over death.

Shakespeare captured this night of supernatural wonder in his play A Midsummer Night's Dream when humans and other-world fairies mingled on a night when love and mischief was definitely in the air.

In time, those areas where Christianity came to dominate, the Church replaced summer solstice celebrations with the Feast of St. John, held on June 24th. Today, people in East Europe still mark Midsummer's Eve with festivals or dances and bonfires that light up the night sky.

The Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptizer (24 June), aka St. John's Day, is one of the quarter days, four Catholic holidays at the beginning of each season of the year, which were communally celebrated. The other quarter days are Christmas, Lady Day (Annunciation) and Michaelmas (Sept 29). Celebration of St. John's Day traditionally began the night before. St. John's Eve, (June 23), (today) was sometimes known as Bonfire Night in Ireland. Up to the mid-20th century, Irish Catholics lit large communal bonfires at sunset on this day, or small family fires outside their houses.

The communal bonfires were traditionally piled very high with wood, sticks, dry brambles, etc. Each household would contribute fuel for the fire. At dusk the whole town would gather around the pile, and an elderly man in the community would light the bonfire while saying a prayer. After the prayers, the merriment would begin: dancing, singing shouting, blowing horns, storytelling, instrumental solos, etc. The bonfire was tended until long after midnight

Saint John is known as the Patron Saint of Beekeepers. Two other saints are known as patron saints of Beekeepers. St. Ambrose Born: 339; Born: 339 Feast: December 7th and St. John Bernard of Clairvaux, Born: 1090; Died: 1153 Feast: August 20th.

The full moon closest to the summer solstice is known as the mead moon. This happened yesterday (June 22). I have also seen the full moon of July called the "Mead Moon".

All of this "History Lesson" is to let you all to know that, tonight, you should raise a glass of mead to the full moon and say a prayer to St. John (for you Christians) or howl at it (for you pagans). And, for those that believe the "Mead Moon" is in July, wait a month. As for me, I think I will drink a mead to the moon, and St. John, tonight AND next month.

You can read the rest here.

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Marketing genius?

Or extreme stupidity. I have a feeling that the commercial mentioned in this story wouldn't go over so well in the US. Excerpt:


A spokesman for the company said Regional has no plans to apologize for running a television commercial that said the difference between a wife and a lover was 30 kilograms (about 66 pounds), the newspaper El Universal reported.

Women called the advertising misogynist and demanded.

The Regional spokesman said the company wouldn't apologize unless it is forced to do so by the courts. He added: "I bet all these women's groups are run by women who are at least 30 kilos overweight."


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June 28, 2005

A senior moment

June 18 came and went, and somehow I missed it. Why is that important? Because it's the day the Physics Geek blog was born. And no, I won't link to the wretched first post.

I' feel pretty ancient for a two-year old.

Update: Via Harvey comes the image below:

BEER-WHI_2.jpg

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Style of the week

Celebrate the week of June 26-July 2 with a pilsner. Excerpt:


Pilsner is the classic lager style that emerged from the Czech Republic in 1841 to become the most common style of beer brewed worldwide. From China to the Caribbean and from Indiana to India nearly every beer drinker in the world has a favorite pilsner.

With a pale to golden color, pilsners provide a crisp drinkability with two major variations. The popular pilsners from Coors, Budweiser and Miller include a modicum of corn or rice to produce a light body and delicate flavor for the ultimate in drinkability. America's smaller brewers follow the course of their European ancestors, making all-malt pilsners with a full-bodied flavor and generous helpings of hops.

The best pilsner is the one made close to where it is consumed. The light body and golden color of pilsner mark it as one of the most delicate of beers so that freshness is critical to product quality. When you reach for the smooth refreshing flavor of a pilsner, grab one from a brewery down the road or across the state. You'll be sure to get a fresher, better tasting beer than one that comes from over the ocean or across the border.

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Beer/brewing info

For those of you who do not have access to newsgroups via your ISP, Google has all of the old Dejanews newsgroups available for your reading pleasure. One that you might want to visit regularly is rec.crafts.brewing. As with anything else on the Internet, it's best to keep your crap filter on. Anyone can post, including the guy who makes Pruno, so beware.

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I'm always the last to know

Someone has stolen my idea and created beer radio. Live shows will broadcast on Sundays at 5 p.m., west coast time. Beer related forums can be found here.

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June 24, 2005

Be patriotic: drink beer

It's almost that time again, folks: July is American Beer Month. Here's an excerpt from a website devoted to this most holy of months:


For the sixth year this summer, July is American Beer Month, a time to learn about, seek out and enjoy great American brews. This year’s celebration offers consumers new opportunities to discover and enjoy the treasures of American brewing.

Americans are the envy of the world when it comes to beer flavor and diversity. During July, every American has a chance to understand how varied and interesting American beers really are today so that they don’t miss out on this fantastic aspect of America’s culinary culture.

This year’s American Beer Month celebrates a different style of beer each week, starting June 19 and stretching through six weeks to conclude on July 31.

Check back each week to learn more about American beer!

And here's a link to help you celebrate this week's style, Wheat Beer.

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