40 original recipes, 47 batches total

Today I record my brewing experience with the 47th batch of beer. It is the 40th recipe and only my 2nd extract based recipe. It is a sorghum based, gluten free beer. I had hoped to make this to share with my friends and family who deal with Celiac disease so that they may have craft beer without worrying about symptoms. The brew day went as a typical brew day goes, but shorter due to the elimination of the mashing step. My friend Kody helped and got to learn more about the brewing process today. So with two guys brewing there should be no reason I can’t make a successful batch of beer today!

Recipe Creation

Aside from the obvious sorghum selection, I needed to decide on a style, water chemistry, yeast strain, and then hops. After about 45 minutes I had everything set. It would be an American Premium Lager (BJCP 1C) so I would be looking for the following numbers:

og: 1.046 – 1.056
fg: 1.008 – 1.012
ibu: 15 – 25
srm: 2 – 6
abv: 4.6 – 6.0

As far as water chemistry would go I would look for the following numbers:

calcium: 225
sulfate: 120
sodium: 60
chloride: 60
magnesium: 40

I got my water chemistry pretty close, just a little low on calcium and sodium, but I accepted and moved on. Then would be hops. Typically, for the style, there is a very low to medium-low aroma from the hops but floral or spicy. Hop flavor wouldn’t account for much, either: none to low. Bitterness gave me a little more room to play with: low to medium. So I read up a little more on hop profiles and alpha to beta acid ratios and decided on two hops. I would use Sterling for bitterness and also for a small amount of aroma, and also Saaz for a small amount of aroma. I know it would possibly end up with too much hop aroma, but it seems as though the rules on hop aroma are slightly bending to the favor of the hops being more acceptable, even in larger amounts. During the boil sanitized the fermenter and brought the yeast (smack pack from Wyeast) up to room temperature. Even though this was a lager, I had decided I wanted it to start fermenting warm and then I would cool it down so that I could build up a healthy yeast cake before fermenting at cooler temps which would slow the yeast down. This temperature schedule would also provide the healthy cells I needed to make sure there was no diacetyl before lagering. Everything went as planned, infact the numbers were really good:

og: 1.044
fg: ?
ibu: 17.9
srm: 4.7
abv: ?

I had assumed a yeast attenuation of about 80%, which is typical for my beers, so that would mean the finished gravity would sit at about 1.010, which would mean the assumed alcohol by volume would be 4.5%.
Perfect. My numbers were right on the mark, thanks to my spreadsheet full of calculations, formulas and data. My time building that beautiful piece of work had been paying off. Now it was up to the yeast to do it’s job, which I had full confidence it would do. had. That sentence doesn’t even deserve the proper capital “H” because I’m so annoyed with the yeast that never started!!!!

Well, let’s review: made the recipe, brewed the recipe, sanitized the fermenter, the yeast smack pack expanded, pitched the yeast at the correct temperature, but still no activity, 5 days after pitching.

*sigh….

Days like this just make me want to throw the towel in and forget the whole endeavor. Why keep trying when miscellaneous occurrences of evil brewing gnomes hijacking my yeast produces a flat, non-alcoholic, somewhat pungent mixture of water, hops, sorghum, and yeast? I could could choose Red Dog or Hamms if I had preferred swill. Why push myself to make more if it would fail, costing me my time and money, and the obvious discredit to my brewing experience.

Then I’m reminded of a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Why do we fall? So as to learn to get back up.” Getting back up sometimes feels good; a return to the situation that originally caused the grief which sought us to our end can provide the possibility to become the victor over our failures and shortcomings and become triumphant in both body and mind. So even though there sits on my counter, a carboy full of wort that will not ferment to beer and continues to remind me daily that somewhere along the process I failed, I am reminded to get back up, dust myself off, and keep on keeping on.

~B

 

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Homebrewing eBook on the way!

Lately I’ve been writing an eBook on the subject of homebrewing. I decided a few years ago that I needed to write my own spreadsheet (as I do for a lot of things because I love Excel….) that would act as a recipe generator/formulator. Knowing full well that others have written a few beautiful programs like BeerSmith, ProMash and others like them, I decided that I needed to do my own calculations because I wanted my beer to be calculated at my own hand. I did so with success, but it took years to get it to the point of actually being very usable. Years. I will spend more time perfecting it, I’m sure, but what I like about it is the amount of data that is collected in the spreadsheet. Based off the information I have available through various books, internet pages that I’ve favorited, magazine articles, and of course colleagues who have provided their experience over the years, I was able to compile an immense amount of calculations and formulas regarding every aspect of making beer at home. And then a little extra for good measure. What a spreadsheet! What an accomplishment! My magnum opus. My creme de la creme. I had finally done it. Something to be proud of, something I made with my own experiences and something I could share with everyone. 

Then it hit me, “What if someone else would like and all this data for their own calculations?” So I set out to write the biggest collection of brewing data, formulas and set of calculations I could imagine. I didn’t want to weigh it down with too much personal opinion, except where necessary, of course. Also, I’d want all that data sorted out by process step, so a chapter for mashing, one for boiling, another for fermenting, etc. And of course it would need a title. Something slightly tongue in cheek…

This is my shameless proclamation of the forthcoming title “The Grimoire of Homebrewing”. 

I’ve been writing it in my spare time and hope to have it finished before May 4th, National Homebrew Day. So please favorite this blog to keep up to date on it’s release. I guarantee you will be pleased with the amount of data, formulae, and calculations available.

~B

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I want you – original lyrics, work in progress

you came home last night again, smelling like another man’s world

I’ve been here waiting since you left, and it seems like I’m waiting still

you won’t look me in the eyes, guess i know the reason why

when you talk you talk small, but that isn’t the worse of it all

.

I want you, I want you

nothing more in this world, I want you

I want you deep in my arms with your beautiful smile

I want you

.

everything I held deep inside, all my fears and my pride

I gave to you in the light, in hopes that someone would understand

but I was wrong and now every night, I’ll be screaming your name on the inside

tearing me open, on the inside

.

I wanted you, I wanted you

nothing more in the world, I wanted you

I wanted you deep in my heart with your beautiful mind

I wanted you

but you decided you wouldn’t want me

.

these original lyrics by Brian G. Jacobs, 2013

no permission to reproduce these lyrics is expressed unless when allowed by Brian G. Jacobs

The Rose – Original lyrics, work in progress

Girl let that rose, grow in the land, I just want, to hold your hand

Will you be mine, forever? I just want, for us to be together

.

I will never leave, I will always love you

Even in the dark, I will always hold you

Even if the danger comes, I will always fight for you

When it’s time to go I will still love you…

.

Everyday I, wake to your face, I’ll count my blessings, in our homey place

We’ll spend a lifetime, doing many things, And its of you, that my heart sings

.

I will never leave, I will always love you

Even in the dark, I will always hold you

Even if the danger comes, I will always fight for you

When it’s time to go I will still love you…

.

Girl put them flowers, down on the stone, And go back to, the place we called home

Call our friends and, family my love, And don’t cry because, I’ll be watching you from above

.

I will never leave, I will always love you

Even in the dark, I will always hold you

Even if the danger comes, I will always fight for you

When it’s time to go I will still love you…

these original lyrics by Brian G. Jacobs, 2013

no permission to reproduce these lyrics is expressed unless when allowed by Brian G. Jacobs

Everything – Original lyrics, work in progress

everything that you thought you were fighting for, is lying naked with him on the floor
all your emotions and every tear, only validate your simple fears

well, don’t give up, and don’t give in,

this life will turn out right, in the end.

and don’t give up, no, don’t fall in,

that grave is deeper than you think, my friend.

everything she said to never fear, is looking back at her now, my “dear”
how can she deny when I know, all the dirty seeds that she’s sown

well, don’t give up, and don’t give in

this life will turn out right, in the end

don’t give up, no, don’t fall in

that grave is deeper than you think, my friend

and every day must become night,

and every night will come to an end,

it’s hard to forget the pain,

when she was your everything

these original lyrics by Brian G. Jacobs, 2013

no permission to reproduce these lyrics is expressed unless when allowed by Brian G. Jacobs

As the ocean’s tide

There are moments in a life when we realize that things have changed. The tides of rage and love have risen or fallen, taking with them the memories of our times with the people we cherish and hate, sometimes burying them deep into the dark, sometimes bringing them to the light of day. Like the winds of a hurricane we feed into the anger with our jealousy, doubt, fear. We wonder why when everything around us is crashing to the ground. And then it hits us.

Realization.

Then, at that moment, we know the truth. We understand why the ocean’s tide moves. We have gained insight, and it becomes apparent: the situation sucks. We withdraw, we lash out, we run away, we shut up, we don’t know what to do, we know exactly what we want to say but say nothing at all.  For no reason, but with plenty of reason. The emotion sickness has consumed us, and we are very sick.

Action.

But how do we get out of the negativity? How do we change the situation? Sometimes there isn’t a good answer. I think the best way to approach this is a desire to change the situation. Of course, we can’t change other people, but, we can impress on them a different point of view of ourselves. So in essence, we can change the world around us, through hard work, determination, and commitment and the willingness to change ourselves. I believe it was Ghandi that said “we must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Obviously, his view was for a much larger portion of the world, but I believe this is perfect for the smaller portions of the world that we all arrive in daily.

Be the change.

Dropping a negative view can be one of the most difficult things to do. It’s a habit. A very negative habit. The habit of constantly being negative due to fears, or at least due to the effects of deeply rooted and possibly hidden fear, just seems to draw on and empty our energies, both physical and emotional. It also empties the energies of those we care about and love which sends relationships into spirals, deepens fears, creates drama….etc, etc, etc. But it’s simply a habit. It was made, it can be broken!

Break the cycle. 

 

Aeries – from the writer’s perspective

As a dungeon master for an ever changing set of characters in a continuously evolving story line, set in a home-brew campaign in the Dungeons and Dragons (4th edition) setting, I’ve watched anxiously, patiently, and with great anticipation as my players would crawl through dungeons, save the princess, purchase homes, escape death, and continue the pursuit of their endeavors. What an exciting time for most of my players’ characters, but a tragically terrible demise for others; not every character would live past the fictional tales of their player’s actions. The decisions that my friends would make, watching their characters either flourish or faint, would keep me entertained for weeks on end, like a never ending movie. I liked that about the entire endeavor of being a DM. It was as if I had the rare opportunity of being part of a great story that no one else in the world has ever heard, and I got to write it with my friends. What an awesome collaboration to be part of. There were times when I realized that I needed to influence the game with my own design, and sometimes my own characters. Certain moments of the story would only develop and mature correctly with non-player characters that I would use and dictate to help the story move along, or to help the players in a time of need, or to dispatch them from their mortality, when necessary. It was anything but brutal and beautiful, all at once. The one character I never ended up using in a game was Aeries. At first, he had become a maligned image of myself, in some respects. I twisted him into a dark character that would only be hell-bent on the retribution and revenge because of the loss of his only son. When I realized his loose association with my own dark feelings and emotions I realized I needed to cut the cord of the character I had birthed through pen and paper. From here, Aeries collected dust for some time before I even thought about him again. Eventually, he found his place under my pen, his story continued again, his pursuit renewed, his vigor restored, and he was more angry and pissed off than ever. It was an unstoppable gravitational pull toward my anger and fear that began to feed his own character elements, his decisions, his reactions, his tears, and his strength. I decided that I couldn’t make an evil character, but a lawful good character with an inner darkness would suffice. Something that pulled his strings tightly, keeping him on his toes and always looking over his shoulders and around corners for the answers to the questions he would constantly ask himself.

One of the key elements of Aeries’ story is his pursuit of self-justice, not to be confused with justification of his actions or decisions, which he never feels he has to justify anything because of his inner lawfulness. Born with an innate ability to perceive the justifications of his peers and adversaries he draws upon this inner voice that calls out to him as he listens to conversations, and at a young age, decides to use this information as basis for his own actions.

I guess he has a little bit of justification, but not in the traditional sense.

This inner voice had always eluded my own understanding. I tend to side towards logic and black-white hard lines when it comes decision making and natural understanding of the world around me. I rarely allowed myself to think that there could be a metaphysical side to the world I lived in. Recently I’ve been aware that there are some aspects of life that do in fact influence our perception of life from the metaphysical realm. I have always had an inner voice, telling me what’s right, helping me decide what’s right and wrong, not that I’ve always listened to the voice. I drew from this experience to create Aeries’ perception of discernment that would help him to win great battles with ease, speak easily with people of great power such as kings and queens and even the sages, influence crowds of his opinion, but most importantly to see the truth in others when they would lie to him. It was this discernment that he would rely on for many conversations with adversaries and even his so-called friends that would betray him from early on in his life, although he sometimes regrets calling on the truth from his friends when he would point out their lies because if he had just lived with the lies his friends would tell him he would at least have had people around instead of living alone. It becomes easy to fear everything around you when you find yourself alone, in the dead of night when lying to sleep, or even under the noon day sun in a crowd.

Sometimes fear is fueled by emotions beyond our control: rejection and abandonment to name a few. Once fear has taken hold of a heart it becomes the driving force behind all decisions and grows from a nuisance to become a gargantuan monster that can kill, maim, destroy, from the inside. This is Aeries’ greatest battle. His fear becomes his greatest enemy, but an ally that he must learn from in order to prevent the destruction of the world around him. Unfortunately this dance with the devil could become Aeries’ destruction. As they say in the kitchen “play with fire you’re bound to get burned.”

~B