Friday, October 15, 2010

First all-grain - brew in a bag

First all-grain brew in a bag style:

That Sunday's brew session was... interesting :) I knew my drill would lose power half way through the grain bill. I didn't know that my fellow brewer/brother in law's backup drill chuck would be too small... or that my antique hand drill (getting desperate) wouldn't clamp on tight enough... or that my air tool set didn't have an actual drill. At least my father in law, Bill, doesn't live far and he had a super drill!

Drilling and filing the hole for the brewpot valve took longer than I thought as well... of course. At any rate, other than taking awhile, it worked fine - no leaks!

The brew in a bag experience was interesting. My mother-in-law, Terri, did a super job constructing the bag, but I think I had her get the wrong bag material. It didn't want to release any wort. We had to lift out 20 pounds of grain and probably 8 gallons of wort. We let it drain into a separate bucket, but it took a long time and we had to massage the bag a bit (probably extracting too much tannins, especially since it's a dark beer). But... we did end up with about the right amount of wort... and I think we got over 80% efficiency! It tasted good going into the fermenters too. We shall see. I wish it would have been ready by this week's brew club meeting... but it will have to wait for the next meeting, I guess.

Thanks again to Erich for his help and spare parts!

Northern California Homebrewer's Festival (NCHF) 2010

As a member of the Hetch Hetchy Hop Heads homebrew club, I made the trek out to Lake Francis Resort (a campground near Dobbins, CA - northeast of Sacramento, in the boonies). This year had over 20 clubs and over 208 club beers on tap for "the main event". Unfortunately, Sean Paxton, the homebrew chef, was busy at GABF this weekend - so the dinner Friday night was not as spectacular as in years past. Lake Francis did provide some very excellent prime rib, and with plenty of beer, it was a good evening. The Hoppy Hour before Friday's dinner was spectacular as well.

What amazes me the most about this awesome festival is the organization behind it. The Board sure has it figured out by now - everything appears to run like a well oiled machine, powered by homebrewers. It's all a volunteer effort that is incredible to behold. It reminds me of big projects at work - so many moving parts that when it's successful, all the players are working towards a common goal with the priority being the success of the project. Same here - all the clubs work really hard to present their food and beers in a generally well decorated booth. Everyone is very accommodating and friendly. It just makes for a great time and a successful event.

Since I didn't have any beer to bring at the time, my contribution was making pretzels...

Latest House Project - funky remodels

Buying a house that has been remodeled will give you some surprises. A house that has had a remodel on top of an older remodel may really give you a surprise... and most likely not in a good way. While our house's first remodel (from the '50's or '60's?) is weird, it's not terrible on its own. When the second more recent remodel came along with new landscaping, it made for a bad situation.

The warning signs were the dogs sniffing and being obsessed with weird spots around the house. No wonder they use beagles for drug sniffers or hunting dogs! Well, our Moose is a hunter. The project started with Moose catching a rodent. It was living in a gap under the siding, as we found out when we started to take things apart. Other interesting things were found as well - an oddly cantilevered wall, exposed ducting for the HVAC, a small amount of dry rot (did we catch this just in time?!), and more. Without totally rebuilding the wall, we flashed it better and are patching it all back so it doesn't house rodents and doesn't allow water intrusion.