Monday, January 14, 2013

5. Brew my own beer - Beginnings

Going to college up in the Cascadia region (Go geoduck go!) its not surprising that many of my friends make their own beer. As with many other places around the country, craft been has been slowing increasing in popularity all over the last 15 years, both in consumption and distribution, as well as a hobby. However, in the Northwest we are lucky enough to have so many of the hops that have helped bring the craft to life named for familiar part and places (Willamette, Chinook, Cascade, Columbus, etc). I don't know if its more inspiring or anything, but its kinda cool to pick up a bag of Willamette hips and go "I know where that is!!". So after many years on the sidelines, being no more than a craft beer groupie, I decided to throw myself in this this lot. Thats right...  I decided to start making homebrew! 

Fortunately for me, Santa (aka my mom) bought me a whole bucket of brewing supplies and books for Christmas. (Aww look how happy I am!) Not long after new years, I rounded up all the supplies and began making my first beer. I call it "Fur Stout".... get it... ?

Mel = Hella chuffed!
While talking to my friends in Britain about brewing they all recommended, starting out with full extract brews. I just assumed that I've never seen it before because I'm a brew n00b and like some dog meme I saw once, I have no idea what I'm going. However when purchasing my supplies, the "starter kit" I asked for was all grain. I cook... enough. I can read instructions. I've been around people brewing before. I watched and occasionally stirred things. I think I can do this right? Sure. Why not?


I studied as a chemist. One thing you are taught the first week of every class: read through ALL the instructions before you start the lab! Why I didn't apply this lesson to beer making I have no idea. Also, why I decided to start this at 9:00, I also have no idea. Either way my frist brew, while ultimately successful, also contained more than few lapses in common sense. 

1) Not putting enough water for the wort, therefore the mesh bag won't fit all the way into the pot. 
2) Deciding this means you should dump the grain directly into the pot rather than just putting more water in. 
3) Not having a big enough strainer
4) Putting the sanitizer in the bucket so it can't be used to measure water...
5) Not thinking to just dump the sanitizer OUT of the bucket so you can use it. Its only.. like what? $0.30 of sanitizer. 

As I said it all turned out fine. Oy vey! There was a little extra grain in the boil, and yeah it bubbled out the airlock in the fermenter after a few days. All good lessons learned. In the end, if I can get drunk and not get sick I can't really complain. I got the stout because its generally forgiving. I start bottling next week. Hopefully that goes off well. Advice anyone?


45. Visit 20 bars I’ve never been to before - 1) The Albatross

1) The Albatross
1822 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA

The pub is dark, full of good beer, $1 bottomless popcorn, board games and entire wall of dart boards! I really can't complain!

I showed up at 6:30 to meet a friend for drink and sadly was stood up. However as I sat there reading about soil and sipping on my tonic and lime (I'm on the wagon for the Jan), I was approached by a group of people playing cards against humanity who asked if I would like to play (Ahem.. use the table). As the political incorrectness and booze flowed through our merry band of recently introduced 20 somethings, the bar filled up around us and by 9:00 a very very busy pub quiz had formed around our table. Although we didn't participate, the questions sounded well organized and diverse. As I left, sides hurting from laughing, with bits of popcorn in my purse and four new friends on Facebook, I decided that I definitely need to come to this place again!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

It Begins...

Instead of making a bunch of New Years resolutions that I am not going to actually follow, this year I decided to create a list of 50 things to do before the year it is out. I recently moved back to the San Francisco Bay area after being gone for nearly 10 years and figured exploring this place would be a great way to kick off the year. The list below ranges from going for hikes and runs, to visiting certain places, to doing things at certain times. However, having grown up in the bay there are a lot of things that I don’t feel the need to do again, such as drive down Lombard street or visit Alcatraz. This list is going to focus either on things that I’ve never done or I haven’t done as an adult (I’ve driven across the Golden Gate bridge, but never walked. I’ve been to the Japanese Tea Gardens, but I think I was 5). This is also the reason that Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay Aquanasium are not on this list. I am more than fond of both of those places and will probably go anyway. Having been gone so long, hopefully I can meet some people along way.

Lets see how many of these I can get through!

The List:

1.   A’s Game
2.   Art Museum in SF
3.   Bay Area Derby Girls bout
4.   Bonfire on the beach
5.   Brew my own beer
6.   Bring a Picture of Aberdeen Scotland to Aberdeen, WA
7.   Bus tour of SF
8.   Build a bird feeder
9.   Catch a jazz show in SF
10.        Take a ceramics class
11.        Eat Caramel in Carmel
12.        Finish reading Kurt Vonnegut’s catalogue
13.        Find a bar with at least 8 taps of local craft beer and drink down them all in one sitting. (help allowed)
14.        Gamble in a Reno Casino
15.        Garlic festival in Gilroy
16.        Go fishing
17.        Go to a rugby game
18.        Gun range
19.        Hike to the top of Squaw
20.        Hike to the top of Mt Tam
21.        Hike the Tahoe rim trail
22.        Ice Skating with my sister
23.        Japanese Tea Gardens
24.        Kickboxing Class
25.        Knit a jumper and/or socks
26.        Learn to carve a turkey
27.        Ride a horse
28.        Rock climbing
29.        Run a 5k (specific)
30.        Run a 10 K (specific)
31.        Run an obstacle course (Dirty dash or something)
32.        Oldest bar in California – The Saloon?
33.        San Francisco Zoo
34.        Sea Kayaking
35.        See the San Andreus Fault line
36.        Shakespeare in the Park and/or Opera in the Park
37.        Sharks Game
38.        Tai chi in the park
39.        Take a dip in the Pacific while eating a fish taco
40.        Take a French class
41.        Tour Satsop Nuclear Power Plant and/or wind farm
42.        Try 10 new gins
43.        Try snowboarding
44.        Visit 10 breweries I’ve never been to before (Suggestions?)
45.        Visit 20 bars I’ve never been to before (Suggestions?)
46.        Volunteer in a soup kitchen
47.        Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
48.        Washington Distillery
49.        Watch the sunrise from Berkeley hills
50.        Wine tasting in Napa