Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Collaboration Brew

I know that it has been a little while since I have posted. I've been thinking of this post for almost two weeks. A few month back, I sent my friend Matt Aerni a text that I wanted to do some sort of collaboration with him. He was really excited aboot the idea and agreed that this is a great idea. We started to hash out an idea for a brew, so we decided on a holiday beer for us to share with people. We both had ideas on what we wanted it to taste like and we went and did some research. We wanted something that had complex flavors with a really simple yeast that will come with a nice clean flavor. We wanted to enhance the spices mostly, but have a couple of flavors that came from the malts. After a few rounds of hashing out a recipe we decided on this:

12# Marris Otter Malt
2# Honey Malt Malt
0.5# CaraPils Malt
0.5# Caramel/Crystal 60 Malt
0.5# Caramel/Crystal 120 Malt
0.25# Special B Malt
0.125# Black (Patent) Malt Malt

We started brew day on Saturday November 12, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. I loaded my car that morning to bring all of my brewing equipment from my place in Cincinnati to Matt's place in Oxford. The day began with heating of the water and crushing of the grains. What was nice, with 3 or 4 people around, I didn't have to do all the crushing. After all the grains were crushed, mashtun preheated, and all of the water for the mash, we mashed in 2 gallons at 170ºF to get a mash temperature of 140ºF. We let it sit for 15 minutes before bringing raising and locking the mash temperature at 156ºF and held it for approximately 60 min. Strangely, the mash temperature dropped to 152ºF during the steep time, so I am not sure how that will effect the beer.

After steeping the grains we did a vorlauf to clear the wort. We mashed out 4 gallons, then sparged with 180ºF to get a final volume of 7 gallons. We started the boil and to the 60 min. boil we added hops, honey, and spices at the following increments:

1.00 oz. Magmum (14.00% AA) at 60 min.
2# Honey 10 min.
1.00 oz. Saaz (4.00% AA) at 5 min.
5 cloves flame out (steep for 30 min.)
2 cinnamon sticks flame out (steep for 30 min.)

We started cooling the wort with the wort chiller. We ran into a small problem. The outside faucet was turn on too high and it blew the line off of the chiller, spraying water everywhere (hopefully not into the beer). We fixed the minor problem and finished the cooling of the wort. While cooling the wort we hydrated the yeast (Safeale US-05). When the wort got down to 70ºF we pour the wort into a sanitized fermenting, allowing plenty aeration. We then added the yeast, put on the lid, added the air-lock, and added vodka to the air-lock.

After fermentation is done, we will secondary it over vanilla beans that are soaked in bourbon. We will periodically taste it to see when it is ready. I hope to have it shortly before the Christmas holiday for a beer tasting. Sorry that this post had no photos, I forgot my camera.

Edit:  Pre-boil Gravity: 1.072 (74% efficiency), Original Gravity: 1.100 (73% efficiency)

Edit2:  I have to thank Matt Aerni for the photos that he took while transferring to the secondary. Final Gravity currently 1.036 making it a 8.5% ABV

Monday, October 31, 2011

Brewing of a Wet Hop Amber Ale - Now on Tap at Quarter Barrel

Ah, two blogs in one day. I forgot to release this with the release of our latest beer at Quarter Barrel. Brandon and I decided now to synchronize the release my blog with a beer that we release, instead of publishing it then 5 weeks later tasting the beer.

This beer that we brewed this past August coincided with a hop harvest. Brandon had this style in mind that he wanted to brew and to complement the malts, we decided to use fresh hops to add some earthy tones to the beer. What came out of it is the Wet Hop Amber Ale.

To this beer, we had a variety of malts and all fresh hops that I harvested from my parents farm in Michigan. My mother's business, Nelson's Herbs, started growing hops the year before last. We have 6 varieties, Cascade, Chinook, Hallertau Magnum, Mt. Hood, Santium, and Tettnanger hops. Of these 6 varieties, we planted 5 rhizomes of each, except for only 2 rhizomes of the Tettnanger.

For this particular beer, we used hops varieties that we have got a large harvest from (Cascade and Chinook). The grain bill is the following:

50# Pale Malt UK
5# Caramel/Crystal 60 Malt
5# Munich Malt
3# Caramel/ Crystal 120 Malt
2# Victory Malt
0.5# Roasted Barley Malt

To the grains we added 178°F water and kept the mash at 156°F. Another thing that was special about this beer is that we get to use our brand new fermenter. Now we have the capability to make twice as much as we use to with 2 1-hectoliter fermenters. Yes, hectoliter, 100 liters, and everything is that much cooler in metric.

After 60 minutes we drained the mashtun into the boil kettle, while fly-sparging, and started to heat the wort. Fly-sparging (Denny does a better job at describing it as well as other types of sparging) is the technique in which we keep the water level just the top of the grain-bed, while draining slowly, until we estimate that we need to drain the grain bed dry to have the correct amount after the boil to fill the fermenter.

During the boil process we had time to clean.  We started to cycle PBW to clean the fermenter, pump, lines, and plate chiller for 20 minutes at which time we drained and started the cycle again this time with Iodophor to sanitize.

We had to use more wet hops to make up the lack of water in dry hops. To the boil had added the following hop addition:

5.0 oz. Chinook (60 min)
4.0 oz. Chinook (10 Min)
4.0 oz. Cascade (10 Min.)
5.0 oz. Cascade (0 min, Aroma Hop Steep)
5.0 oz. Chinook (0 min, Aroma Hop Steep)

After the boil, we transferred the wort to the fermenter, through the plate chiller, allowing for plenty aeration. We then added the yeast slurry of US-05 yeast connected the blow off tube and pushed the fermenter back into the closet. The Wet Hop Amber is on tap currently at Quarter Barrel.

Zincinnati Octoberbest Homebrew Competition

Over the past 7 years that I have been brewing, I have played with recipes and developed some interesting beers. Things that I brewed have greatly improved, because of feedback that I have gotten. I get feedback all of the time, from friends, and for the most part I trust them, but they are friends. Lately, I feel that it is necessary to get profession feedback on the beers that I make. This feedback that I get from professional judges and other people in the industry helps me continuously develop my beer to get them to fit styles that I want. Sometimes the beer doesn't fit the style, but has the exact characteristics that I am looking for it to have and it is nice for the judges to make that distinction in my beer. For example, one of the beers that I had judged in this homebrew competition is really hoppy edition for a barelywine style ale and it is nice that the judges to make notes on it (though I really scored low for this beer).

This year's Zinncinati Octoberbest Homebrew competition, hosted at the Covington Radisson Inn by Cincinnati Malt Infusers, is the third competition that I have entered this year and second time that I have entered a homebrew in this particular competition. This is competition is larger than the one that I entered earlier this month in Dayton, OH, but is still a small local competition. There were two beer entires that I put into this competition. I am glad to say that I took third in my flight for the Porter that I brewed, but the American Barleywine did not place. Though the style is not a Porter that I tried to brew, but because it did not fit any other style category, the one it fit closest to was the Porter. The beer that I tried to brew, in which I entered into the Porter, is a North American Dark Ale (NADA, or as others call it a Cascadian Dark Ale or Black IPA).

The American Barleywine, as I said above, was very hoppy and this is what the judges had to say of it:

Beer Judge #1
Beer Judge ID: B0636
Judge Qualification and BJCP Rank: N/A

Descriptor Definition: N/A

Aroma (7/12): Rich malt complexity with lots of raisin, caramel, and toffee. Rich dark fruits, hops come through late with citrus.

Appearance (3/3): Very clear, ruby color Small white head that goes to ring quickly.

Flavor (10/20): Opens with sweet malts and fruits notes. Middle charges in and blasts through with hops. Malt and hop balance is gone. Finish lingers on for a very long time – bitter.

Mouthfeel (4/5): Middle-full body, light carbonation, hop astringency.

Overall impression (4/10): A beautiful ruby red ale with lots of malt complexity that is crushed by the hopping rates.

Total (28/50)

Beer Judge #2
Beer Judge ID: B0252
Judge Qualification and BJCP Rank: Recognized

Descriptor Definition: N/A

Aroma (7/12): Toasted malt and hop aroma, with some hoppiness apparent.

Appearance (3/3): Nice dark amber color, good head retention.

Flavor (10/20): Good toasted, sweet malt flavor at front, but very aggressive, almost over-bearing, hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel (3/5): Medium body and smooth, but definite bite from hops kicks in rapidly.

Overall Impression (5/10): Good maltiness and sweetness to start, but the hop influence is bit too aggressive and over-bearing. Longer aging may help to mellow, but probably cut back on the hops a little.

Total (28/50)

The Robust Porter (NADA) took third in the flight and this is what the judges had to say of it:

Beer Judge #1
Beer Judge ID: N/A
Judge Qualification and BJCP Rank: N/A

Descriptor Definition: N/A

Aroma (7/12): Slight tartness, some fruit and roast chocolate emerges as it warms and tart recedes (reappears with fresh pour).

Appearance (3/3): Dark brown/black clear with a light brown head. Looks inviting.

Flavor (15/20): Good balance of chocolate and roast, with hop backing into finish. There is some decent fruitiness, but overall clean, well-attenuated. Maybe could use a little more “robust” roastiness, but I like it.

Mouthfeel (4/5): Nice creamy mouthfeel, appropriate carbonation. Hidden alcohol, roast comes in the nose after the swallow.

Overall Impression (7/10): Not sure why there is a sourness to the initial pour smell, but it is easily overlooked as I move in. Well done beer I could drink plenty more of.

Total (36/50)

Beer Judge #2
Beer Judge ID: B0654
Judge Qualification and BJCP Rank: Certified

Descriptor Definitions: Musty – Stale, musty, or mold aromas/flavors. Oxidized – Any one or combination of winy/vinous, cardboard, papery, or sherry-like aromas and flavors

Aroma (7/12): Slight oxidation / carboard up front. Moderate raost with slight acidic note. Slight alcohol more is apparent. Moderate hops.

Appearance (3/3): Very dark brown, clear around edges with creamy, persistent brownish head.

Flavor (16/20): Very malty flavor of toffee, caramel, and chocolate. Finishes med-sweet. Moderate bitterness balances well seems a it high gravity – like an imperial. Some roast / coffee notes and hop flavor. Clean flavor profile.

Mouthfeel (4/5): Heavy, chewy body, with creaminess. Carbonation helps cut the body fullness.

Overall impression (7/10); Very strong, malt / roast porter. A slight off-aroma up front, but cleared up nicely and did not leave any off-flavors. Good beer.

Total (37/50)

Again, I am very gratified with my showing and notes on my beer. I'll let my American Barleywine sit for a couple of years and re-enter it into another competition. Very soon I will have notes on my brewing of an Imperial Oatmeal Chocolate Stout that I did yesterday (10/29/11) and hopefully some notes on a Belgium Dubbel that Brandon and I brewed at Quarter Barrel. All notes on brewing will be released when the beer is on tap at Quarter Barrrel.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Teaching Friends how to Brew!

Teach Friends How to Brew

A lot of times I don't feel the necessity to brew beer for myself. My altruistic behavior wants me to share and have other people enjoy the fruits of my labor. I enjoy sharing my brew and with this batch that I am brewing, I get to share my knowledge of brewing. The batch that we brewed this weekend was a Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. It is not the imperial style, because I only have 3 weeks for it to be ready for a Halloween shin-dig that my friends wants it for. The brew date for this batch was 10.09.11. I want to acknowledge my friend and colleague Kaitlin Uppstrom for the rad photos that she took with her macro.

This brew is similar to the Imperial Oatmeal Chocolate Stout that I brewed last November in that it has a lot of the same grains and adjuncts. With this brew, I changed up the hop varieties and cut back on the yeast. Five days prior to this brew I started the smack pack of Wyeast strain 1084 Irish Ale and the next day I made a starter that had a specific gravity of 1.044. The morning of brew day, I crushed the grain, loaded my equipment and drove it from my home in Cincinnati to Oxford, OH for brewing.

My grain bill for this particular brew is the following:

8# Pale Malt (2-row) US
2# Munich Malt 10-L
1# Flaked Barely
1# Chocolate Malt
1# Flaked Oats
0.25# Caramel/Crystal 60
0.25# Caramel/Crystal 120
0.25# Roasted Barely
1# Rice Hulls

After I got all my equipment set-up for brew day, I prepared my mash water of 172°F for mash in and added it to preheat my mashtun and to the hot water storage tank. While this taken place, I also made oatmeal out of the flaked oats and barley. After the mashtun was preheated, I drained it and added my grains and oatmeal. I added 17 quarts of hot water to the grain and made sure that there were no dough balls and took a temperature reading. The temperature was low at 148°F, so I boiled another gallon of the stove and added it to the mash to bring the temperature up to 156°F.

During steeping of the grains in the mash Kaitlin and I went and tended bees. With this being the fall, and bees having limited nectar resources, the bees were angry. All that we were wanting to do is to check for the queen and add anti-mite strips to the colony. We are eventually going to prepare the bees for winter and split the hive, so that I will have a hive next spring and be able to extract honey for multiple mead making experiences!

During the run-off I did a Vorlauf to clear the beer and after the run-off of the wort, I weighed out the hops and cocoa nibs that I am using for this brew:

0.67 oz. Magnum [14.00% AA] at 60 min.
1.00 oz Willamette [5.50% AA] at 15 min.
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.20% AA] at 5 min.
3.7 oz. Cocoa Nibs at 15 min.
0.25 oz Irish moss at 15 min.

With my preboil being low of a 1.050, I decided to have a longer boil (70 min.) to bring up my. efficiency. I added my hops and adjuncts to the boil at the given times and started the cooling process with my wort chiller. Once the wort was down to 80°F, I sanitized the bucket, lid, and air-lock in an iodophor solution. I transferred the wort to the sanitized bucket by pouring it and allowing for plenty aeration. I added the starter to the wort, snapped on the lid, and applied the air-lock. The beer should be ready for bottling on October 23 or after.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dayton, OH DRAFT homebrew competition

A few weeks ago, I found out that I took 2nd in the flight for my homebrew, Batch #12, American Barleywine. Now that I have the beer scoresheets, I can blog what the judges thought of the beer. The beer, entry #112, was entered in Category 19C in this AHA/BJCP sanctioned competition. I didn't get as high as a score (35/50) that I thought that I would had, being that I took 2nd in my flight, and got a silver medal.

Here are what the judges thought:

Judge #1 BJCP ID B09796 Apprentice

Descriptor Definitions: Alcoholic - The aroma, flavor, and warming effect of ethanol and higher alcohols, Described as "hot."

Aroma (9/12): Piney American hops laced with caramel maltiness, with very little alcohol astringency.  A small amount of biscutty roundness in the background. No DMS or diacetyl.

Appreance (2/3): Medium brown in color. Extremely small head that does not last and is a light cream color. Cloudy with ruby hue.

Flavor (15/20): Initial maltiness / hop balance. Maltiness showcases caramel mostly with background of biscut. Hops are a piney spicess [sic] but well balanced. Alcohol warmth at first then pushes the hot range at the end. Slight esters of pear. Bitterness is strong throughout and lingers. Balances malty.

Mouthfeel (3/5): Medium – full bodied that is not heavy in the tongue. Carbonation is extremely low (probably because of age). Slight astrigency at the end from alcohol. Definitely warming because of the alcohol.

Overall Impression (7/10): Very full-bodied American rendition of a barleywine. Hops and malt are appropriate. The use of bittering hops could be slightly higher, the balance is malty and should be hoppier. Well attenuated but the alcohol may be too hot (could settle out with age).

Total (36/50)

Judge #2 BJCP ID B0637 Apprentice

Descriptor Definitions: Alcoholic - The aroma, flavor, and warming effect of ethanol and higher alcohols, Described as "hot."

Aroma (8/12): Malty with dark fruit notes in the background. Low to medium fruity esters, a little too high to style.

Appearance (2/3): Dark hazy gold to very light hazy brown. Very little head – to style.

Flavor (14/20): Grapefruit flavor with light fruit. Slightly harsh on the middle back of tongue. Bitterness high – hop flavor medium.

Mouthfeel (3/5): Very warm with a citrus blast a little light on body.

Overall impression (7/10): Would like to see a little more citrusy piney like aromas more of a dark fruit toastyness – overall nice – I do like the slight variation of the true style.

Total (34/50)

So I was very happy with my showing again. This was my fourth homebrew competition. I have had two very goods (both placing a 35/50), a good (29/50), and a fair (19/50). I haven't written on the good (which I still may, but I entered it into the incorrect category) and I don't have scoresheets on the fair (before this blog started). I have two more entries in the Octoberfest competition in Cincinnati here on 22 October.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hop Harvest 2011

It has been a hellish August thus far. Weeks of typing my masters thesis, being in the very hot and very humid weather doing field work for my doctorate work, traveling to Austin, TX (did I mention it was August....and in Texas none the less) to present some of my masters work, and school starting with all the undergraduates coming back, it was time for a break. So, last weekend (August 19-21) I went to my hometown in Michigan for a much needed break......and for a hop harvest!

It is that time of year that the cones are big with lupulin covering them. My parents live in SW lower Michigan in Edwardsburg, a small village 20 minutes NE of South Bend, IN. Two springs ago, my mum planted hops, Humulus lupulus, on the farm where they live. The farm also has both my parents businesses on it, Nelson's Herbs and Nelson's Tools. On top of suppling my addiction of homebrewing, my mum also sells the hops in her shop.

Previously, I have written aboot planting and caring for the hops that were planted. We have six varieties planted on the farm: Cascade, Chinook, Magnum, Mount Hood, Santium, and Tettnang. Five rhizomes of each were planted, with the exception of Tettnang, where only two were planted. The week prior to my arrival in Michigan, Magnum was already harvested. While at home, we harvested the Cascade and Chinook varieties. The rest will be harvested at a later date. 

Harvesting of the cones took two days of work in the hot sun. Me, being on a ladder, 8 feet in the air, and my mum harvesting near the ground. The wet weight of the harvest was approximative 25 pounds. It was enough to completely cover two folding tables. They were left in the shop to dry in the air conditioning. I took one pound of each (Cascade and Chinook) back with me to use in a beer that we will make at the Quarter Barrel. What Brandon and I did was to wet hop the beer and I'll explain this in future blogging. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Brewing of a Single Hop beer.

Today was a day set for experimentation. Normally, our experimentations are not full batches (1-hectoliter, which is approximately 26.4 gallon). Normally we do experimental batches only at a 10 gallon size (I haven't written on any of our experimental batches as of yet), but this being an easy batch and hard to make mistakes with, we decided to go ahead and do a full batch. With our experimental batches, we want you to know what specific hops, malts or other adjuncts give to beer. So, today, we decided to entice you with a specific hop, Challenger. Our first of our single hop series.

Hops are the female flower of the hop vine, Humulus lupulus. There are many characteristic that hops can give a beer. First, it can give a bitterness to a beer. The tannins from the leaves of a cone can do the same thing that skin of a grape can do to a wine. It give a dryness, almost astringent quality to the beer. Second, depending on the variety that is used, it can give one or more aromas to the beer. Different hop varieties give aromas like: citrus, grassy, spicy, or floral characteristics. Third, hops helps preserve the beer. Back when England held land across the globe, they sent beer to their troops in India. By the time it got there, it went sour and spoiled. So they added a measurable amounts more hops to the beer, and it made it way safely to the troops...thus India Pale Ales (or IPAs) were born.

I can go on with pages over hops, but if you are at all interested, I can forward you with some great literature that can explain it better than I can. So on with our experiment...

Our beer today is a something that we want you to be able to get a sense of what different hop varieties gives to a beer. Our choice for the first of our single hop series is the hop variety called Challenger. Challenger hops was bred from an United Kingdom variety called Northern Brewer. It was bred because of it's resistance to a fungus called Downy Mildew, which had plagued many hops and created certain hop variety shortage in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011. At 7.0% alpha acids, it can be used as both a bittering hop or for it's spicy aroma characteristics. Because it is of the UK variety, it has a mild to moderate bittering quality.

We didn't want to do a complete Single Malt and Single Hops (SMASH) beer, we wanted to give your taste buds other varieties malts with this beer. We decided to go with the following grain bill:

36# Pale Malt (UK) 2-row
30# Pale Malt (US) 2-row
3# Caravienna

We used both US and UK version of the same malt because they give specific characteristics to a beer. The US version of pale malt give clean, mildly malts flavor to the beer, along with a straw like color to the beer (2 SRM or Lovibond– Standard Reference Method). The UK version gives a slightly nutty/biscuit flavor the the beer along with a slightly darker color to the beer (3 SRM or Lovibond). Caravienna malt is a pale to medium that is roasted in a drum (20-24 SRM or Lovibond). Cara are varieties of Belgium malts that are roasted to give some unfermentable sugars that some sweetness and body to the beer.

Our day started with the measuring of the malts to add to the mashtun. To the mashtun, we added 160°F water to the grain. This gave us a initial temperature of 135°F, to which we added boiling water to raise the temperature to a final temperature of 150°F. 

We did this stepping up of the temperature to bring out different qualities to the grain. At this steeping temperature, we will have a slightly drier beer.  Then we sparged (rinsed the grain) with 180°F water.

At run-off of the wort, we did a First Wort Hop, which produces complex bitterness and aroma that is both smooth and pleasing to the pallet. We started to boil and after 15 minutes we made our 60-minute addition of hops. We made hop additions at 60, 30, and at flame out (0 min.). Our hop schedule was of the following:

4 oz. Challenger FWH
4 oz. Challenger 60-minute
4 oz. Challenger 30-minute
6 oz. Challenger 0-minute

After our boil was completed, we whirlpooled the wort and transferred it up to the fermenter through a plate chiller. We added the yeast, in which we made a starter of the day before. This batch will be left in the fermenter until fermentation is complete in a week or two and will be serve in a month.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Inventory of Beer Cellar

I found it necessary to compile an inventory of what I have in my cellar...well, not exactly my "cellar," but what I have in my basement, or back room, or storage closet (what ever has an appropriate temperature range).  I have been stocking what I  have in the "cellar" for 3 years now, occasionally drinking one every once in a while.  There is a certain requirement for items to be cellared.  The must be high gravity (greater than 7% ABV).  Though I do have quite a lot of homebrew, they don't stay there long unless they fit the criteria of being cellared.

These are some of my criteria:
-That I buy two and drink one now and the other goes into the cellar
-7% ABV can be cellared for one year
-8% ABV can be cellared for two years
-9% ABV can be cellared for three get the trend....
-Temperatures ranging from 10°-16°C

750-mL and bombers:
Brooklyn Black-Ops 2011
The Bruery Saison Rue 2010
Dogfish Head Squall IPA 2010
Dogfish Head Miles Davis Bitches Brew 2010
Dogfish Head Sah'Tea 2010
Dogfish Head Namastee 2010
Dogfish Head/Three Floyds Poppaskull 2010
Goose Island Night Stalker 2011
Left Hand Warrior IPA 2010
New Holland el Mole Ocho 2010
Otter Creek Quercus Vitis Humulus 2009
Stone 14th Anniversary Imperial IPA 2010
Stone Old Guardian 2010
Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous 2010
Southern Tier Pumking 2010
Three Floyds Black Sun 2010
Three Floyds Dreadnought 2010

12-oz and 10-oz. (quantity in parenthesis):
21st Amendment Fireside Chat 2010
Bells Hopslam 2010 (4)
Bells Hopslam 2011 (5)
Dogfish Head Burton Baton 2010 (2)
Dogfish Head Immort Ale 2010
Dogfish Head Old School 2010 (3)
Dogfish Head Festina Peche 2011 (3)
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout 2009
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout 2010
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout 2011 (3)
Founders Old Curmudgeon 2009
Flying Dog Raging Bitch 2010
Great Divide Belgica 2010 (2)
Great Divide Yeti 2009
Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire 2009
North Coast Old Stock 2010 (2)
Samuel Adams Imperial White 2010
Sierra Nevada Big Foot 2009
Southern Tier 2XIPA 2010
Southern Tier Old Man 2010
Three Floyds Gumball Head 2010 (3)

Homebrew Bombers and 750-mL (quantity in parenthesis):
Barleywine 2010
Imperial IPA 2009
Imperial Oatmeal Stout 2007 (2)
Imperial Oatmeal Stout Secondaried Over Bourbonized Cherries Bittered With Cocoa Nibs 2009
SMASH 2009 (Munich and Hallertauer)

Homebrews 12-oz. (quantity in parenthesis):
Barleywine 2011 (24)
Cascadian  IPA 2011 (14)
Imperial Oatmeal Stout Bittered With Cocoa Nibs 2010 (6)
Stout 2009 (4)
Ordinary Bitter 2011 (20)
SMASH (Munich and Nelson Sauvin) Secondaried With Wild Raspberries 2010 (2)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cerise from Founders Brewing Company

Some days I don't need to be in the lab working and can work from places other than the University. This day, I decided to work from my local brew pub, Quarter Barrel Brewery and Pub. All I was doing at the time was statistics on my laptop. The day was sunny and warm at 24°C and a slight breeze; it was absolutely beautiful day, it was time to sit out and work. The nice day brought on the thoughts of a refreshing drink and from the taps I found Founders Cerise.

Founders Brewery was one of my favorite places to be while living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I lived all around Grand Rapids for a period of 7 years, off and on. Some days it was a battle on where to spend my time, because there were so many great breweries in the are (New Holland Brewing Company to name another).

Cerise is a fruit beer, but not a supper sweet beer. It is fermented with Michigan tart cherries and has a ABV and IBU of 6.5% and 15 respectively. I could not find any information on the types of malts, hops and yeast that were used, so I am not able to give readers that.

My thoughts on fruit beers are not always the best. There are relatively few that are not overpowering and taste like cough syrup. This is one that hits right were I want with a fruit beer. The beer was served in a tulip glass at 8 oz. The review:

Appearance: Pours a coppery red with brilliant clarity and a bright white head with pink hues that quickly dies down to a lacy ring on the glass. The level of carbonation was low to medium. The amount of malty coating of the glass by the beer was minimal, but the lacy head coated the glass as it was drank.

Aroma: Right off the nose I get the cherries, not sweet, but very tart that gives almost a sour note on the beer. I also get caramel and bready notes from the malts used in the beer. I am unable to get any hints of hops in the beer.

Taste: A tartness is the first thing that I pull from my first sip. As the beer washes back over my palate, tastes of caramels, bread, and sourness comes to my taste buds. The tartness of the beer comes directly from using the Michigan tart cherries, instead of esters from the yeast. The level of sweetness is minimal and no bitterness.

Mouthfeel: The body of the beer is low-to-medium, with medium carbonation. The cherries linger on the taste buds

Overall: A very refreshing beer have. It is the right amount of tartness. And not overly sweet. What I have heard from the folks at Founders, was that the Cerise is to replace the Rabaeus, their Raspberry beer.

I have to say that I have a fondness for anything from Founders, because it is my home taproom. I am happy to see a little bit of home at far away places. Cerise from Founders Brewing Company is currently on tap.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Brewing of a Black IPA.

The latest brew that I did in the past week was a Black IPA. This one, I had a lot of help from my friend Joel. Joel did a lot of work on this because he is really interested in learning on how to brew.

This brew I got a taste for after having a New Holland's brew called Black Hatter. New Holland, has an every end of spring event called Hatter Days, where they brew Mad Hatter in different varieties (Black Hatter, Lager Hatter, Imperial Hatter, Oak Cask get the point). I first did this brew in 2008 with all Sterling Hops, but this I wanted a lot more hoppy. I wanted to use all Chinook hops, but with the lack of money I used a combination of Magnum, Nugget, and Chinook (hops that I had left over). A lot of this brew had malt and hops that I had left over.

For the malt, I wanted a complex taste, with a good variety of malts. The grain bill was:

13# Munich Malt
1# Crystal 80
0.5# Biscut
0.5# Carafa III
0.25# Black Patent
0.25# Roasted Barley

The weather was not cooperating with an outside brew. It would down pour, then get sunny and hot, then down pour again. Half of this brewing process was standing under half in the garage. While grinding and steeping our grains, we opened a 2007 N'ice Chouffe by Achouffe Brewey. Then during the boil we open one of my 2 year old Barleywines.

We steeped the grains for 60-minutes and vorlaufed (or recirculated) the wort. After we gathered around 8-gallons we started applying heat for the boil. Our pre-boil gravity was 1.068, 6 points under our projected of 1.074. Our hop addition to the boil was the following:

0.50 oz. Magnum (14.00% AA) 60 min
0.25 oz Nugget (13.00 % AA) 55 min
0.25 oz Nugget (13.00 % AA) 50 min
0.25 oz Nugget (13.00 % AA) 45 min
0.25 oz Nugget (13.00 % AA) 40 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 35 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 30 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 25 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 20 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 15 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 10 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 5 min
1.00 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 0 min

After the boil, the wort was chilled with a copper wort chiller and poured into a sanitized fermentation bucket to allow for plenty aeration. In three weeks this brew will complete it fermentation and conditioning. The last check on progression of fermentation showed that the gravity is at 1.034 and need to drop 10 more points to 1.024. One ounce of Chinook hops was added to the beer for dry hopping. A tasting was done on the beer and it is not nearly as hoppy as I want it to be and seems like it turned out to be more of a Porter, but a very tasty porter at that.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Brewing of a Scottish Ale and Racking the Wheat

A lot went on this past weeks with brewing. First, starting yeast so to make yeast active and make enough of them to make a quality beer. Second, brewing a batch. Third, racking beer that was made last week. Fourth making another yeast starter. And fifth brewing a small batch. I will break this up into two blogs. Many reason for not getting these up fresh; I started my field season for research on my zoology doctorate and writing my masters thesis.

Making a yeast starter is very easy and there are many way at doing it. Personally, I don't build up because it lessen the chance at infection. This particular yeast starter was made from dry yeast. You really don't have to do it, but I prefer my yeast active to minimize the of wild yeast or bacteria to get into the beer and making it non-drinkable. To do this for what I brew (1-hectoliter), I took some dry malt extract (DME) and carefully poured it into a flask. I added water to the 1000-mL mark and added aluminum foil to the top. Then I put it on the stove. I was extra careful not to over-boil, once I saw movement in the solution, I turned down the heat. After 15-min of boiling and the DME was dissovled, I removed the flask from the heat and put it in a sink of cold water.  Be careful while doing this, because some glass will tend to break when suddenly changing temperature.

 When the solution was room temperature to the touch through the glass, I started adding dry yeast (Safale US-05). 

First I dipped the scissors into Iodophor to sanitize them. I also dipped the top of each packet before cutting them in the Iodophor and shook it dry. Once I added all of the packets (5 for my brew) I let it sit over night before adding it to the wort. For most starters (White Labs and W-Yeast) you want to make a starter 3 days in advance.

Our latest brew was a Scottish Ale. Our preference for a Scottish is less sweet and more hops (mostly because Brandon and I are hop heads). One of our favorite brews is Founders Dirty Bastard, a Scottish, that we wanted to mimic. It has the hop and malt quality that we love in a beer. Though, we didn't want a clone, we did want something close. Here is the grain bill:

Pale Malt (2-row) – 70.0 #
Crystal 60 Malt – 7.0 #
Carapils Malt – 3.0 #
Roated Barley Malt – 3.0 #
Rye Malt – 3.0 #

With the malt, we added a 5-gallon bucket of rice hulls to make the run-off of the mash easier. We added aboot 30-gallons of 176ºF water to the grain to get a final mash temperature of 152ºF. 

We wanted to raise the mash temperature up to 158ºF, so we did a decoction. For this, we took 5-gallons grain and wort out of the mashtun, and put it in 8-gallon kettle and boiled it down to 3-gallons. This, not only adds more caramel, but steps up our mash temperature. We added the decoction back into the mashtun and let it mash for 60 min. During this time, I had breakfast, which was a Great Divide Yeti Stout.

For the run off, we connected a line from the mashtun to the boil kettle for the transfer. We didn't want to let the wort splash around in the kettle to prevent off-flavors in the final beer. If the wort is let to oxidize on the hot side, it will get a musty off-flavor in the beer. The pre-boil gravity 1.068, 6 points low (projected to be 1.074).

During the boil, we racked the beer in the fermenter, which was the wheat beer that we made 2-weeks prior. We serve our beer out of Cornelius kegs, and we run our beer through a 1-micron filter to get rid of excess yeast and other particulates. We filled 4 corny kegs with this batch.

To the boil we added both Chinook, Cascade and East Kent Golding hops. The hop addition were the following:

Chinook – 6.0 oz. (60 min.) 13.0% AA
Cascade – 6.0 oz. (15 min.) 5.0% AA
East Kent Golding – 3.0 oz. (15 min.) 5.0% AA
East Kent Golding – 3.0 oz. (1 min.) 5.0% AA

During the boil we also clean the fermenter and cycled an acid wash through the system to clean. We then cycled rinse water and Iodophor. After a 90-min boil, we transfered the wort, through a plate chiller, to the fermenter. The original gravity for this beer was 1.076, down from a projected 1.089, giving us a 65% efficiency. In the transfer, we use a spray ball on the end of the transfer line in the fermenter to allow plenty aeration. During the transfer, we added the yeast starter to it.

The whole process, mashing, boiling, racking, and transferring, took around 10 hours. Soon we will have the wheat up at the Quarter Barrel. We do have a tap handle, and are now serving the Mumrath IPA.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hop Tending

This past weekend, I finally went home to my parents to see the kids. The girls are growing so tall, it brings a tear to my eye. :') The “kids” are of course the hop plants that my parents have started on their property. In the spring of 2010 my parents started growing hops. Some of it is, of course, for me to use in homebrewing and the like. Some of them are for re-sale at Nelson's Herbs, my mum's greenhouse business.

The hops are grown in rows along guide wires. There are five rows, for five varieties, and of each variety, there are 5 vines, or rhizomes. The varieties that my parents have are: Cascade, Chinook, Hallertau Magnum, Mt. Hood, and Santium. Also, in the display gardens for Nelson's Herbs, my mum has 2 Tettnager rhizomes planted.

Last year, off of the one-year vines, I got approximately 2-paper grocery bags full. There were a little extra that my mum harvested for merchandise.

This year, when I got to the hop bed, I had to complete a couple of chores. First, trim the hops back to two or three vines for maximum production. Second, spread bedding of straw to keep moisture in. This took me aboot three hours to complete. Very pleased with what I did accomplish, I hope to have a great harvest for next year and plenty left for sale and fellow homebrewers to buy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Brewing of a Wheat Ale

With summer quickly coming to us here in Ohio (though it doesn't really seem that way with all the rain), Brandon and I wanted to brew something for the summer. Sunday we decided to brew a wheat ale. Firstly, because we both love Three Floyds Gumball Head and secondly, we needed to try something different. So, I went searching for a recipe that practically a clone of Gumball Head. I found a recipe for a 5-gallon batch and from there, I plugged it into my trusty beersmith. This is what came out.

Grain Bill:
26.4 pounds of 2-row Pale-Ale
21.2 pounds of White Wheat Ale
5.3 pounds of Cara-Vienna

Because the Wheat Ale can get all gummy, with the gains, I added a 5-gallon bucket of rice hulls to the grain and made sure it was plenty mixed. This grain bill seems a little light. We added our water of 180°F to the grain and had to add a little bit of cold water, because the mash was a little high and got it down from 160°F to 152°F. While we mashed, we also did a hefty cleaning of the fermenter, plate chiller, and pump. We did a acid wash for 30-minutes or so. In that time we drained the grains off into the boil kettle, I added our first-wort hops and took a pre-boil gravity. 

Noticing that the gravity was a little low, we took 8 gallons of wort off and did a hard boil in the back kitchen. To a 5-gallon kettle we added 3-gallons of wort and boiled that down to half. In a 10-gallon kettle we added 5 gallons and 2 pounds of pale and did a decoction. We also boiled that down to half the volume and drained off the wort from the grains and added both kettles back into the boil.

Hop Addition:
1.32 oz. Amarillo Hops First-wort
1.32 oz. Cascade Hops 60-min.
2.64 oz. Amarillo Hops 15 Min.
2.64 oz. Amarillo Hops 5 Min.
2.64 oz. Amarillo Hops Flame Out

While boiling we finished cycling rinse water in the fermenter, plate chiller, and pump, and then cycled Iodiophor. The boiled wort was then transferred up to the fermenter, through the plate chiller, to which I added 5 packets Fermentis US-05 yeast that was cultured for a day. It was closed off and the blow-off tube was connected. Time to clean up. What made this easy clean is that we came up with a way to connect a stainless-steel hose braid to the boil kettle to keep the hops out of the pump and chiller. Can't wait to try. Original gravity of 1.042, Pre-Boil 1.038.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Brewing of an IPA (04.17.11)

First thing apology. I apologize to the reader(s) (thanks mum) that read my blog for the lack of writing lately. I have been busily finishing up my master's thesis, starting field season for my doctorate work, and getting craft beer ready to be served at Quarter Barrel, that I haven't made time to write. So I figure that I should update my blog.

The latest brew that Brandon and I did at Quarter Barrel was a revised version of an old brew that we previously have done and is now on tap. As we do more brews on a bigger system, the better they come out and higher efficiency we get.

We still have yet to come up with a name for any of our beers. We first designed the name of the beers to be related to some sort of literature. Some of those has already been done, now we are back to square one.

The beer that we brewed recently, on April 17 (yes, I am a week behind on this) was the IPA. I have never posted the design of this beer, because, though it was a great beer, I think that it could have been improved...and we did. This version, from the latest tasting has a lot of hops up front to the nose and is an improvement to what we have done previously. Here is the IPA (for our 1 hectaliter system)


Grain Bill:
Pale 2-row (American) 62#
Munich (German) 3.5#
Carmel/Crystal 60L 2.5#
Amber Malt 2.5# (this is the substitute that was suggested for the biscuit that we would normally use)
Carmel/Crystal 120L 1.75#

Centennial 2.0 oz. (9.70% AA) First Wort Hops
Nuggett 3.5 oz (12.00% AA) at 60 min.
Millenium 2.0 oz. (15.90% AA) at 60 min.
Chinook 6.6 oz. (12.80% AA) at 15 min.
Centennial 6.0 oz (9.7% AA) at 10 min.
Simcoe 6.0 oz. (12.20% AA) at 5 min.
Amarilo 6.0 oz. (6.90% AA) at 0 min.

After loading the grain to the mashtun, with ample rice hulls for draining, we add 79-qts of 180°F water and held the mash temperature at 152°F. We then stepped up the mash temperature after 40-min steep time to 156°F and held it there for the remaining 60-min steep time. While draining to the boil kettle, the first wort hops were added. The pre-boil gravity was 1.057, which gave us a 77% efficiency. We did a 90-minute boil, adding hops at the appropriate times. The original gravity came to be 1.073, which gave us a 69% efficiency. The wort was transferred to the fermenter through a plate chiller and Fermentis US-05 yeast was added. The day before the brew, a starter was made using 5-packets of yeast.

The brewing went excellent and the taste out of the fermenter is great. We hope to have this ready to serve here in 4 weeks. We recently started kegging our beers in 3 5-gallon Cornelius kegs and a 1 5-gallon pin for cast conditioning. Right now we are serving an IPA (from the last batch), up next is a scotch ale that is really hoppy, then this recent IPA.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fort from Dogfish Head Brewery

Dogfish Head Fort was a rarity that I found one day at Party Town in Florence, KY.  A rarity on two points, one because it is a occasional release by Dogfish Head, and two, the bottling date stamped on the bottle was 2008 (over two years ago).  When I noticed the bottle, it was stuffed back behind others on a end-cap shelf.  I knew that this is going to be a special beer, so I took it with me on my winter trip, to see my very good friend Jenni, in Houston, TX.

Fort, is a ale style brew, some what of a Belgium style ale, that is brewed with a "ridiculous" amount of pureed raspberries.  At around 15-18% ABV and 49 IBU, it is a very big beer that should be on the sweet side.  Since it was bottled over two years ago, it had plenty of time to cellar and have the sweetness meld away into the beer.  Also, from prior experiences with Dogfish Head, it should be hot and boozy.

I was not able find much on the grains and hops that were used to make the beer, but the Alstrom Brothers did a excellent interview with Sam Calagione on Beer Advocate, that I would recommend reading.

This beer was so large that I had to share it.  It came in a 750-mL bottle and was serve in pint glasses (not white wine glasses as recommended).

Appearance:  The beer pour slightly hazy (could be from the airplane ride from Dayton, OH and the a layover in Charlotte, NC) with a brilliant rose color.  In the sun, I could see pink and orange in the beer.  It was topped by a glossy 2 to 4-cm head that left a lacy film on the glass.

Aroma:  Fort has an intense raspberry aroma that bring both tart and sweet to the nose.  I smell slight Belgium esters in the beer with pale malts.

Taste:  First sip..."INTENSE" and "boozy" were the only word that came to mind.  After getting past the alcohol, a tartness that dominates the taste buds, with some spices, candy sugar, and honey that washes down with the beer.  I get a earthy hops that I didn't detect in the aroma. 

Mouthfeel:  Fort was highly carbonated and after the sweetness from the raspberries leaves the mouth, a dryness is left on the tongue and the rest of the palate.  A solvent heat from the alcohol warms the body.

Overall: Definitely a beer that needs to be shared with a friend.  This was extremely drinkable, which was not my first thoughts after the first sip.  A sipping beer at that...

I had fun with this beer and have many more Dogfish Head beers in the cellar that I will age over the next couple of years.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Blogger Interview: The Beer Wench

I have been a home brewer for 6 years now, but my involvement in beer have dramatically increased in the past 6 months.  I have started brewing in a local bar called The Quarter Barrel Pub and Brewery that serves Oxford, OH and the Miami University students and faculty.  Also, I have started this blog, to show my appreciation of beer and organize my tasting and brewing notes on beer.

A month ago, I got this idea to send Ashley Routson, The Beer Wench, a message to see if I could establish some contact with her.  The idea came because I wanted to see if I can establish a network, so if I decided to become a full time brewer, that their might be a possibility of being one through a connection (that is if I decided to do something else after getting a PhD in zoology).  Also, the idea came directly from The Beer Wench, because she sent out a tweet on twitter asking for bloggers to interview.  Instead of wanting to be interviewed, I wanted to interview her. What is really cool is that maybe we could exchange interviews, over e-mail, and it worked; which means that, she is pretty rad by my standards.

Ashley runs a very tight blog site called Drink with the Wench.  On her site, she supplies almost everything about beer and the industry that I could think of.  She has meet so many very cool people.  On her blog, she interviews both other bloggers and beer industry people, also writes on beer events, beer travels, beer topics, and wine.  She describes herself as "a professional beer writer, craft beer evangelist & social media whiz whose passion for craft beer and penchant for writing have sent me on a mission to drink my way through the world one beer at a time, harnessing the power of the Internet to spread the good word of craft beer.  Unfortunately, I'm cannot claim the title of 'beer afficianado' quite yet. Instead, I consider myself to be a beer connoisseur. While I'm not an expert, I'm no novice either."

For the interview, I sent her a set of questions, which she gladly answered them.  The questions and answers are un-edited, the way that journalism should be:

1.  Where are you from and where do you currently live?
Born in Denver, raised in New York, college in Ohio, lived in Florida, spent a few months in Seattle, currently call Napa and the Greater Bay Area home! 

2.  Describe the first instance in which you had beer?
Wow. Do you mean ever? I'm pretty sure it was something that my parents let me taste -- which means it was Spaten if it was my father or Sam Adams if it was my mother. Neither of which I remember well. My early experience with beer was crappy yellow fizzy corporate beer. I don't think I was really exposed to craft beers until post college. I must admit, I drank pretty nasty beer back in the day. But I was also broke, and uneducated about beer.
3.  Describe your first experience in which that you really enjoyed beer?
Oh wow, let's see. I probably first started enjoying beer with my parents in the summers home from college. We used to go hiking a lot, and then when we would come off the mountain, we would reward ourselves with a few pints at the local gastropub -- The Gilded Otter in New Paltz, NY. It wasn't until I managed a restaurant in Columbus, OH -- called The Northstar Cafe -- that I really began to understand craft beer and, ultimately, fall in love with it.
4.  What do you currently do?
I spend my days being awesome at life. Okay, in all seriousness, after 3 years of blood, sweat and tears, I finally landed a fantastic job with a great brewery. Technically, my title is "Sales Evangelist" at Bison Brewing Company in Berkeley, CA. However, I prefer to call myself "Assistant of Everything" because I have a hand in all sorts of projects, including brewing (which is a dream come true).
5.  Describe your college years?  Where you went to school?  What did you study?  Any other relevant information that you would like to include?
I am pretty sure that anyone and everyone who has ever met me knows that I went to THE Ohio State University. This is probably because I drop it within the first two sentences of meeting people. What can I say? I have a lot of Buckeye pride. My father went to Ohio State, as did my little sister. We are an obsessed family. College for me was pretty intense. I was an overachiever and got involved in as much as I could. I earned varsity letters in two separate D1 sports, was the marketing chair of the Student Athlete Advisory Board, on several honor societies, a member of the swing club, as well as graduated with two Bachelor degrees with honors. Now you can see why I have a lot of school pride -- I literally bled, sweat and cried for that school.
6.  What value do you get from writing your blog?
This is a really intense question. For me, my blog has a lot of value -- but none of it is monetary. My blog is my raison d'etre. It is the platform from which I launched my beer industry career. My website has given me more opportunities than I would have ever had otherwise. I've traveled to amazing places, attended awesome beer events, met soooooo many fantastic people and so much more because of Drink With The Wench. It has opened so many doors. But most importantly, my site has served as a soapbox for the advocacy and evangelism of craft beer. I use my site to promote and educate others about the world of craft beer.
7. What are your favorite styles of beer?
Saison, gueuze and American IPA are my top three. Milds, pilsners and porters are the ones I drink the most of at the moment.
8.  What is/was your favorite place that you have drank a beer at?
I'm a real sucker for environment. Craft beer is always delicious, no matter where you go. It is truly the people that make the bars/restaurants/breweries so memorable. I would have to say my favorite place to drink beer at is the Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA. It is my favorite brewery in the country -- but, that is not the reason I love the brewpub so much. That place is like a "Cheers" for me, a lot of the staff know me by name... and I even have a special "blend" that one of the bartenders created "for me" (at least I tell myself that). Vinnie and Natalie are also amazing humans, and the food kicks ass.
9.  Describe your favorite talk that you have had over beer and whom with.
These questions are hard! Man oh man, I've had so many amazing beer conversations with so many different industry people. Some of my most memorable = listening to Ray Daniels analyze beer at the Hop Leaf in Chicago, talking to Fred Bueltmann for hours upon hours about beer evangelism, all my conversations with Julia Herz about women in craft beer.... and it goes on and on. If I had to name one person in particular, I would have to say that Jamie Floyd of Ninkasi blows my mind every time I hear him speak. He is so driven, so passionate about craft beer, and just so inspiring. That guy is radical, and I love it.
10.  Over the years, have your taste in beer changed much?
Very much so! My beer palate has changed in the same way that my wine palate has. When I first started getting into beers, I was an extremist. I wanted everything to be BIG BOLD OVER THE TOP SLAP YOU IN THE FACE crazy. Now, I prefer to quaff more session-able, balanced styles.
11.  What are your top three breweries that you have visited?  If you have visited breweries outside the U.S., please state them as top three U.S. breweries, then top three foreign breweries.
I am a very lucky person. I have visited a great number of breweries in my short lifetime. And way more than I can even list. They are all special to me, for one reason or another. I would have to say that New Holland Brewing Company is my favorite, because they were the first people to help me design and brew a recipe. That brewery holds a VERY special place in my heart. I also love The Bruery in Orange County because I love the entire company, the beers, and had a great experience bottling with them. Last but not least, Stone World Bistro and Gardens is one of my favorite destinations and I've always had a fantastic experience there.
12.  Describe some of your favorite beers that you have had.
My favorite craft beer is always the one in my hand :)
13.  What is your first experience in craft beer.
Working? Writing? Tasting? My first real exposure to craft beer was from my old boss, Kevin Malhame, at the Northstar Cafe in Columbus, OH. Kevin is a true evangelist of craft and artisan producers. He put me in charge of the beverage department because I was a big wine geek. And he refused to carry anything but craft beer, so I was forced to learn everything about it. A lot of my first major beer experiences came from that restaurant.
14.  Describe how active you are in promoting craft beer.
I call myself a beer evangelist for a reason. I am constantly preaching the gospel of craft beer, whether it be on the Internet or in person. Craft beer is more than just a product to me, it is part of who I am, it is a lifestyle, it is my raison d'etre. Every second of every day I follow the mantra: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Ghandi.

I was very glad that I had the opportunity to have a conversation with her, though not direct e-mail one at that.  I hope that the next time that she comes home to Ohio, I will be able to meet her and take her out for a that I can actually say that I "Drank with the Wench."