After not brewing too much over the summer, I’ve recently become more active brewing. I brewed four batches of beer this fall.
My first batch was a cream ale. I found a book of homebrew recipes on clearance at a used bookstore and bought it. Getting home and looking at it closely, I realized that the book had been published in 1994. The state of homebrewing has changed a lot in the 25 years since then. I picked out a cream ale recipe to try out. The recipe called for some of the grains to be toasted. I had picked up some malted oat samples at a meeting of my homebrew club, so I decided to use those instead. The brew day went fine and soon had some beer to drink. The first few I tasted weren’t as good as I had hoped for. But in a couple weeks the beer had aged a bit more and was better.
My next batch was an experiment. Those are bottled and waiting to age a bit. I want to test these out without giving away exactly what I did, so I won’t go into too much detail. After I had put aside enough for the experimental batches, I had some left over. So, I added some fruit juice to those to make a different beer.
The other two batches were all brewed at my church. The Associate Pastor is a homebrewer and he decided that he would put together a group at church to homebrew together. He named the group “We Brews”. In addition to describing what we would do it’s also a gender-neutral version of a book of the Bible.
We Brews did two batches in one evening. While I was the resident expert, there were other there who had also brewed. I was pleasantly surprised to find that doing two batches didn’t feel like double the work of one batch. One batch was a cream ale, a different recipe from the batch I had done earlier. The other batch was an amber ale. I had a lot of fun finding some recipes on the internet. Both batches are bottled and aging.
After I bottle beer and I have to wait before I can drink, I vary between thinking the beer is going to be really good to wondering if I might have messed something up and it’s going to be really bad. Almost always it’s been somewhere in between those two extremes. In a way it’s like being a Minnesota Vikings fan.
Like most people, there are days when I struggle. Events in my life, in the world lay heavy upon me at times. At these times I find comfort in prayer.
While I’m now a Lutheran, I grew up as a Catholic. When I was studying for the CPA exam my Grandmother offered to let me study at her house. I spent a lot of time over there studying all day then having dinner with my Grandma Margaret and my Aunt Peggy who lived with her. Every evening they would turn on the radio. They would pray along with as the station played the Rosary. While I never got into praying the Rosary myself, I did find it calming to listen to them pray.
The main prayer of the Rosary is the Hail Mary. That prayer has been my go-to prayer whenever I’m making a request ever since college. I had used that prayer when praying for a classmate who was having some problems and the prayers worked.
I started praying while I drove. At first it was just a prayer to protect everyone on the road from my driving. But I kept adding on more prayers.
Later, when someone suggested that I should say seven Hail Mary’s, seven Our Father’s, and seven Glory Be’s every day, I decided to try to do that during my first drive of the day. Eventually that became seven Hail Mary’s while I asked for specific requests. Seven Our Father’s while I conversed with God. Finally, seven Glory Be’s while I looked around for something beautiful in the world. I’ve been surprised that on days that are my roughest; after we had miscarriages, when a co-worker’s baby was shaken to death by the day care provider, after Debbie died and other events; I can still find beauty in the world. Somehow, in the midst of sorrows or setbacks, I can look around and see that God is still active in the world. And that gives me some peace.
The Minnesota Twins baseball season ended suddenly. After thrilling us all in Minnesota with by winning over 100 games, they didn't win a game in the playoffs.
The Minnesota Twins baseball seaon also ended slowly. Their three playoff games clocked in at 11 hours and 51 minutes total time.
Baseball is my favorite sport and I enjoy rooting for the Twins. But Major League Baseball really needs to do something to speed up the pace of the games. They've put in some changes to try to speed up the pace, but games just keep getting longer. My guess (and hope) is that we'll see pitch clocks soon. My pet peeve is whenever they bring in a relief pitcher in the middle of an inning even though he's warmed up in the bullpen, he still needs to spend time warming up when he comes into the game. But, I digress.
Even though they had a wonderful season it's disappointing for it to end that way. Some day we'll be able to look back and appreciate the joy this season brought. But until that time, there's always next year.
Just a little bit of fun for everyone who's been driving between concrete barriers during our road construction season in Minnesota.
If you’re looking at this blog after reading the about the author at the end of my article in Zymurgy, welcome. It says I blog about beer and brewing, but I also blog about many other topics. To see just the homebrew posts, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Details”. That will put a list of categories below the details and you can click on “Homebrewing and Beer” for those posts. Since the main audience for my blog has not been homebrewers, most of the posts will contain basic information that you already know, but that non-homebrewers would not know.
I’ve been spending some time on setting up a website for my business. I’ve just launched that, if you’re interested here’s the link to click on: www.tkanecpa.com. I’m going to include a business blog on that site. I’m going to start with a few posts on using Microsoft Excel. You can get to the blog here: www.tkanecpa.com/blog. I’ve only put up a welcome post so far. I’ll do my first Excel post tomorrow.
I launched off on a road trip earlier this month. I did a quick minor league road trip. It was less intensive than last year’s trip. (Nobody gave me a gun this time.) I’ll eventually write about that here.
Things have been quiet for homebrewing this summer, but I’m starting to get back into that. I didn’t brew for most of the summer. But I recently did brew up a cream ale. Wednesday evening I’ll be bottling that. I’ve got at least three more brews planned between now and the end of August. Two of these will be brewed at my church. Our Associate Pastor is also a homebrewer. He wants to do get a group doing homebrewing at church and we’ve been planning what and when to brew.
I’m planning on sitting down and doing a calendar what to write about for my future posts this year. I’ve done that in the past and then got away from it. Looking back, I think that helped my writing to not have to spend part of my time deciding what to write about. (Thereby avoiding posts like these where I hit a bunch of miscellaneous topics.) I’ll be launching that soon.
And now that I’ve beaten the launching theme to death, I’ll wrap things up. Thanks for reading; I appreciate you all.
I’ve had a story published in a magazine. I’ve been published before, but this one is different. They asked for my social security number, so I believe I’m going to be paid. I’m losing my amateur status. I’m a professional author. Or maybe, not quite yet. When a get the check.
The magazine is Zymurgy. It’s the magazine of the American Homebrewers Association. I wrote an article about the beer I had brewed that won best of show in a competition. It’s a short one-page piece at the back of the magazine. I’d link to the article online, but you have to me a member of the American Homebrewers Association to read it online. Here’s a link to the magazine: https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/magazine/search-zymurgy-issues/
The little about the author at the end of the article. It mentions this blog. If you’re visiting after reading about this in the magazine, welcome. Even though it says I blog about beer and brewing, I also blog about many other topics. To see just the homebrew posts, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Details”. That will put a list of categories below the details and you can click on “Homebrewing and Beer” for those posts. Since the main audience for my blog has not been homebrewers, most of the posts will contain basic information that you already know, but that non-homebrewers would probably not know.
Update on Lucy
From my last post you might be wondering how Lucy is doing. After her recent adventures at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Clinic, Lucy has recovered. She’s back to eating as normal and seems fine.
This last weekend was supposed to be a relaxing. And if you’ve read my other posts about plans, you know thing aren’t going to go as I thought they were.
I was going to go up to Duluth with friends on Saturday. One of the other people in my poker group lives there and it was his turn to host. We would return on Sunday. I would have some time to relax before going over to my mother-in-law’s to play pinochle. Instead I found myself confronted with a life or death question.
When I returned from Duluth, I found that Andrew had left. Lucy, our dog, hadn’t eaten her food that morning and had been eating grass when he took her out in the morning. After reading the note I discovered that Lucy had been vomiting all over the house. So, first things first, I started cleaning up. Everyone of the seventeen messes. In addition to the ones that were obviously dinner from the night before and the ones with grass from the morning there were several that were just white and frothy. Hmm, I thought as I cleaned, I better look that up on the internet when I finish.
That plan vanished when I saw Lucy sitting in the family room next to a new mess. Argh, I can’t keep up with her. I went to clean it up and found that there were three messes. And these were pink and frothy. Oh no! That’s from blood, I thought.
The internet told me that pink and frothy vomit was a symptom of congestive heart failure, which is what caused the death of the dog we had before, Ginny.
Crying along the way, I immediately took Lucy into the emergency veterinary clinic at the University of Minnesota that is close to where I live.
Once they had examined Lucy, they told me it looked like it was her gastrointestinal tract that was causing the problem. Her heart sounded strong. My relief quickly vanished when they said there could be something blocking her intestines. If that was the case, surgery would be needed to fix it. Then they told me that surgery would cost three to four thousand dollars.
As they took Lucy to x-ray to see if there was a blockage, I was left alone in the empty exam room. Alone with my thoughts.
I love Lucy, but could I justify spending that much money on a dog. At ten years old she probably has only a few years to go. Could I even afford that much?
They brought Lucy back. The x-rays had been sent to the radiologist for analysis, so it would probably be about a half hour before they had any news. From the doctor’s demeanor it felt like she already knew they would show something blocking her intestines.
I was left alone with Lucy. She laid down on the bench next to me, listlessly watching me as I pondered. Luckily there was a box of tissues in the room. I made use of them as I watched Lucy through my tears. Half an hour came and went. An hour came and went. Two hours came and went. Somewhere along the way I made the decision to pay for the surgery if it came to that. I also got in some exercise walking laps of the small exam room. If I walked slowly, I could stretch out the lap to twelve seconds.
Finally, the results came from radiology. They didn’t think the x-ray showed a blockage, although it wasn’t clear enough to know for sure. They would keep Lucy in the hospital overnight and keep her hydrated and give her pain medication. In the morning they might be able to tell if there were any changes.
It was some good news, but she wasn’t out of the woods yet. That evening I watched the news at my mother-in-law’s and it was all about the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. So much anguish and grief, so many families torn apart and all from two people who gave in to hatred and turned themselves over to evil.
That night as I laid in bed the thought struck me, how could I justify spending money on a dog when people were dying. If I could afford that money for Lucy, wouldn’t it be better to send it to an organization that is fighting to stop these senseless attacks?
That thought was still with me in morning. I was brushing my teeth and thinking about the stress-free weekend I was supposed to have. This stress has probably taken some time off my life, I thought.
Then I realized that for all the stress Lucy was causing at the moment, she’s been a faithful companion and has relieved a lot of stress just by being there. And aren’t there studies that show people with pets live longer than those without?
I suddenly felt relieved. It was ok to spend the money on Lucy. What person would not spend the money if there was a way to prolong their lives. We do it all the time, it didn’t make a difference if the money was being spent on a dog. It was the result that mattered.
I had my justification or rationalization for spending the money. I probably would have spent it in any case, but at least I could now do it without feeling guilty.
In the morning the clinic called and said there was no obstruction and that Lucy was doing better. Andrew and I went to visit Lucy in the evening.
They wanted to keep her another night to continue giving her fluids. But she was definitely better. The doctor we spoke to said that Lucy had gastroenteritis and they didn’t know the exact cause. So, an episode like this may happen again and maybe not.
I picked up Lucy the next day and she is now home taking it easy and reducing my stress just by being around. My life and death decision behind me.
In front of me lies a decision about what to do regarding the mass killings that are plaguing us. My brush with mortality over the weekend and my personal experience with losing someone has convinced me that it is time to stand up and do something.
It’s easy to lose hope in the midst of the carnage, but I am optimistic that things will get better. While some people give in to hatred and evil, most do not. There are millions of people who didn’t kill anyone this weekend. Millions of people who live lives of love and compassion. Unfortunately, some of them are no longer with us after this weekend. And for that we should all mourn.
I'm going to delay my post that was due for this week. You can blame the Twins and the Yankees as their game is in the eighth inning while they approach four hours in the game length.
As I had said in my Belgian Experiment #1 post, my next batch was going to be done with pilsner malt and without any of the other malts I had tried using in the other samples. That was an error. In the first experiment, the recipe also included some grain flakes. This gives the beer a better mouthfeel. For experiment #2, I used different ingredients to give the beer a better mouthfeel in conjunction with using the pilsner malt as the base.
My four variations were:
1. Oat flakes
2. Wheat flakes
3. Barley flakes
4. Carapils malt
And the results, after one tasting with three people, were similar to my first experiment. There was one that was clearly in last place with two that were favored. The barley flakes were everyone’s least favorite. Oat Flakes and Carapils were both picked as favorites.
Personally, I liked the oat flakes best. But I do agree there was some additional flavor with the carapils. I didn’t find a lot of difference between the oats and wheat, but there was enough that I picked the carapils as my second choice. The carapils was mentioned by one of us as having an additional peppery or spicy flavor.
Right now, I’m undecided on what to use for my next batch. I’ll probably have to do another tasting. (One of the benefits of experimenting.) Once I make a choice then it will be on to round #3.
My plan for the Belgian Experiment #3 is to try different hops. Hops are what adds the bitterness to beer. Belgian ales are not very bitter, and the hops are not a large component of the flavor. Typically, they have a spicy earthy flavor. I’m going to try to get some Triple Pearl hops as one of my choices. These are grown in Minnesota by Mighty Axe Hops, so I’d like to give them a try. For the others, I’ll probably pick Saaz, Styrian Goldings, and something else. Stay tuned for the results.
Last week I sat down to do a blog post and found that there was already a post in my drafts folder. Apparently, I had put the post before into drafts and then never posted it. So, I posted that as my post for the week. For some reason the date of the post is the date it was put in the draft folder and it looks like last week had no blog post.
I had decided that I would do a blog post on July second to make up for the post I had missed. My plan was to do a post about my second Belgian ale experiment. In order to research that post I went over to a friend’s who is also a homebrewer. In the midst of tasting my different experimental beers and several other and then going out to a taproom, I realized I would not be in a condition to post tonight. This has been a roundabout way of saying that I’m not going to write a post tonight and I’ll do it next week.
Have a great Fourth of July. And, if you really want to read something by me here’s a couple links to posts the reference the Fourth of July:
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.