Category Archives: Beer

WheezeNoWortMo: A Three-Part Miscellaney

“I thought you were going to be done with the stinky part by the time I got home,” she says as she enters the house.

“Well…,” I reply, “I thought I was too.”

The house currently smells like wort. I think the smell of boiling malt and hops is heavenly, partially because it brings me back to my twenties, brewing beer with my friends Mike and Dylan (both of whom I’ve lost touch with over the years, which saddens me). Jennifer, though, doesn’t approve of the smell at all. “It doesn’t even smell like beer,” she says. “It just smells like wrong.”

I’m not sure what I can do about the smell, though, because it only occurred to me halfway through the boil to turn on the fan above the stove. I offered to open the windows and turn on the fans, but Jennifer says she can live with it. For now.

Currently the wort is cooling in an ice bath in the kitchen sink. I did a fine job, if I do say so myself, of keeping the kitchen clean while doing this. The cans of extract I placed on a paper towel in case they leaked. The hops were contained to their little bags. The sanitizing solution (because brewing is, according to the book I’m reading, 75% about cleaning) sitting in a big plastic bucket on the floor with a lid on to keep out curious cats. The boiling pot was cleaned and sanitized. So was the lid. And everything that went into the pot at any point is being cleaned and sanitized. Maybe I’m going a little overboard, but better to be over-clean than have skunky beer, right?

The intention with this beer is to make a nice vanilla stout. I’m not sure how I’m going to go about adding the vanilla flavoring. Jennifer has some vanilla beans that she’s willing to let me use. All the recipes say I’m supposed to soak them in bourbon for a few days, then add them at the second ferment. It’s that “second ferment” part that worries me. I have a secondary fermenter, but I’m worried about transferring the wort. Because that’s what I do. I worry. More on that some other time.

I’ll keep you in the loop on the details of the brew, because I’m sure you’re fascinated.


Meanwhile, this stupid upper respiratory infection can go away any time now. It knocked me out for two days before Thanksgiving, then went away, then decided to take another whack at my lungs last Thursday. Jennifer’s been stuck with the same cold for that entire time (though now she’s just coughing instead of dealing with all the other symptoms). During those few days where I was feeling fine, Jennifer once said, “I can’t believe this cold didn’t stick in your lungs for a month this time.” Me, too. She was also kind of jealous that while she was coughing and hacking, I was breathing clear. That’s usually the opposite of what happens in our household.

Wheeze, wheeze. That’s what I’m doing now. My grandpa used to call me Julius Wheezer, and I have one friend who calls me “Wheezer!” whenever she and I get together. Better than “Geezer”, I suppose.


Did you know that I participate in National Novel Writing Month every year? I know, it’s like I never talk about it at all! This year, I wrote¬†Love in the Time of Cthulhu and put the entire thing online as I was writing it. You can find it here and read it all if you like. I know, I haven’t mentioned this before. My activities during November are a closed book, aren’t they?

Yesterday was the Thank God It’s Over (TGIO) party for the region, our traditional post-NaNoWriMo get-together where we commiserate, eat, talk about writing, eat, socialize, and eat some more (though I was actually eating very little because, well, I wasn’t hungry — I worked on that resistance muscle, so to speak). About fifteen people showed up, and we all had a good time. Some of us even got up the nerve to read portions of their novels out loud to the group. I did not, because I was afraid of my lungs conking out on me halfway through.

It’s funny that we can get together with these people, the other regional participants of National Novel Writing Month, hang out with them, chat, write, socialize, and call them friends for a month, then not see them at all again for the rest of the year.


Here, have a picture of two of our cats, Rupert and Sherman. Jennifer took this picture yesterday, and I think it says more about them than I could in words. Click to emcatenate.


What about you? What have you done with your weekend?

‘Tis the season for (stinky) Holidailies

Arrogant Bastard

Occasionally, I review things in this journal. Movies, theater, fine wine, restaurants…

Well, okay, I hardly ever do. And when I do, it’s an informal thing. But I’ve decided that my duty to the public good requires that once in awhile I actually write a review of an important product. Tonight, that important product is going to be:

Arrogant Bastard Ale

Arrogant Bastard Ale

I’m not quite the beer snob that I used to be. Back in The Day, my buddy Oog and I would actually go out of our way to find unique and strange microbrews, then traipse back to our apartment complex and then quaff them and actually compare notes: "This one is rather mild on the malt, but the hops make up for it," that sort of thing. When my friend Dilano moved in with me, he and Oog and I brewed some beers of our own. By far our most successful was something called Fools’ Brew (why? because we were all fools, fools a-brewin’). I got to the point where I could almost — but not quite — tell what kinds of hops went into a particular beer.

The point of all that was that Back in The Day, I knew a thing or two about beer. And even today, I still like to find odd or unique microbrews and, armed with the knowledge that a 12-oz. bottle of your typical beer is about 2 or 3 points (Weight Watchers, you know), I buy up some and quaff it and think of the good old days.

And yesterday I was listening to Talk of the Nation on National Public Radio; the topic was beer, and what makes good beer, and what makes bad beer. It was a blast from the past for me. So while I was at the pharmacy, picking up some of the medicine that keeps my lungs pumping away on a daily basis, I stopped by the beer cooler to see what they had.

How could I pass this one up? The copy on the label says it all: "You’re Not Worthy."

"Yes, I am!" I informed the label, and I grabbed the beer.

So how’s the beer? Is it worthy of proclaiming that the drinker is unworthy? The copy on the bottle reads that this is an aggressive beer, and it certainly is. It’s harsh on the palate and has a cloying maltiness that I don’t care for all that much. It’s nicely carbonated, though, and the hops are very aggressive — here the label doesn’t lie. I like the bitterness and the overall taste of this beer. It won’t displace Guinness or Old Nick or (drool) Samuel Adams Triple Bock as my favorite beer of all time, it probably won’t even make it to the top ten… but it’s not that bad.

That’s all about that.

I’m doing my best to become a threat to the American Way, apparently. While browsing through some news archives on the LUGOD website, I found this article, in which Microsoft claims that the open source model of programming — including Linux — is a threat to intellectual property and is un-American. Says Jim Allchin of Microsoft, "I’m an American, I believe in the American Way. I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policy makers to understand the threat."

I love this. Linux and open-source — a community in which ideas are freely exchanged and developed on, and a person can rise to the top by virtue of their talent and skill, and ownership of code and proper credit is given a great deal of importance — is un-American, while the proprietary software model — which stifles the ability of the average guy to develop code and which guarantees that talent and skill are secondary to politicking and personality when it comes to advancement — is as American as apple pie.

I, personally, would argue exactly the opposite. The Linux and Open Source community is a democratic free for all, where ideas and innovation can explode and grow, where security is an extremely high priority and giving credit where credit is due is a high ideal.

Hence, my new slogan: "Linux — it’s not just for godless, anti-American, communist hippies anymore!"

Think it will fit on a bumper sticker?

The usual stuff is going on. Thanks to my friend Cearalaith, I’m feeling much less out of the loop than I was a week ago. I’ve decided to put Outer Darkness on hold for awhile because my heart wasn’t in it and I wanted to focus on other things for awhile. I’ve been grilling (cod with a neat tomato sauce tonight, undercooked salmon last week with Jennifer and her mother), biking (we went to the meeting of the local bike club earlier this week), and playing with my Linux box. I still work as a temp for UC Davis, and I’ve come to the conclusion that anyone who says that they know what their mission in life is is lying.

And that’s all for now. Have a good night.