Friday, September 24, 2010

The more I brew...

So, the one thing about brewing that is fascinating to me is that the more I do it the less I truly know. Now I know that sounds weird but it's true. There are so many methods to brewing and so many styles, I have just barely scratched the surface. There are styles that are defunct and no one knows about anymore, or at least you have to really research to find them.

Now, every time I write a new recipe or even revisit an old one to see what I can do to improve it, I try to apply new techniques that I haven't used before. Some are met with success and others I could do without. That's half the fun though, I feel creative and adventurous yet secure in knowing I am doing something that I enjoy and seem to have aptitude towards. And, even though my knowledge of beer grows daily I am starting to understand I know next to nothing about it. THAT right there is why I truly love doing this, with such a rich history I look forward to learning something new everyday.

~Until next time, keep evolving.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Overworking and utilization...

So, I sit here after a very long weekend. I had a family member pass away suddenly Friday night. I had worked a double that night. I called the family all Saturday morning then went to work for the BSU game. Which even on a normal day is a butt kicker and about 12 hours. I closed and less than 8 hours later I was back to work. I sit here getting ready to work another double. I am worn out, mostly emotionally but somehow that always translates into physical fatigue also. Once again my thoughts turn to beer, yet again, yeast to be specific. It's weird I keep tying our lives to the lives of the micro fungus.

Yeast are funny creatures, you give them the right environment, give them some food, don't overwork them and they will work as long as you let them. You can reuse the same yeast for anywhere from 6-12 batches if they are treated right. (I have heard of brewers using them longer but about 8 times is the average.) Use them in a high alcohol beer and they become stressed, not only because they are over worked but also because the environment becomes toxic. They start dying at a faster rate and start having issues reproducing making weaker cells and having a high rate of mutations. This is why when you reuse yeast you start with a lower alcohol beer and do your higher alcohol at the end. This helps them stay strong and healthy as you keep the stress to a minimum.

Stressed yeast can create off flavors, making the beer taste funky. Basically they stop doing their job. Not cleaning up some of the chemicals left over from the fermentation process like they normally would. Once there, unfortunately, the yeast is done. You cannot reuse it from this point on. Luckily we as a species can "recharge out batteries" and fix this. I get to recharge mine here in a couple weeks as I am going to Oregon for my brothers wedding. It works out as the coast just so happens to be one of my favorite places to be and most of my family will be there.

So take a look around from time to time and see if your environment too has become toxic, take the time to fix it or even go recharge yourself. You'll be happier for it in the long run.

~Until next time, keep evolving.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cliff Clavin...

I had to share this. The gentlemen (I use this term very loosely) over at were talking about their favourite beer quotes and I came across this. I had read it before but had forgotten about it. It amuses me, so I am sharing it with you.

"Well ya see, Norm, it's like this... A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first.

This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.

That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers." ~Cliff Clavin

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Use it or lose it.

So, for those of you living in a cave, Oskar Blues has pulled out of Idaho. This was mainly due to the fact that they cannot keep up with demand in their bigger markets, and decided to go where the money is. Honestly, I cannot blame them...well cannot totally blame them. I still feel jolted, like a 17 year old stood up waiting for her prom date to show up.

For the last 3 years that they have been in our market I helped sell their beer every chance I got. Hell when working at the Front Door, we were the first to get their new releases in this market. The brewer's would come down, have a brewers night to push their product and then we'd go drinking. All I ever heard was how much they loved Boise and how glad they were to be a part of this market, as we would appreciate their hard work. Well, so much for that.

No more Mama's Lil' Yella Pils; no more Ten Fidy; no more Old Chub; no more Gordon. (RIP Mr. Knight) We had it and we lost it. Now, I was the first on the bandwagon to blame the distributors. If you know me, you know how much I despise the 3 tier system. I think we are slaves to the system, if a distributor doesn't want to carry a product we are S.O.L. If they carry it so no one else can but will never push it, S.O.L. again. So, I immediately looked to the distributor for not pushing it. In someways there is some blame there, but I have changed how I feel about why it happened.

It comes back to us, the beer drinkers. We are always looking for the BBD, the biggest bang for our buck. What's new, whats the seasonal, etc... Yet, these wondrous little cans always sat on the shelf, waiting, hoping that we'd take them home and love them. Yet we never did, we took the Imp. IPA of the season, or the Barleywine, or the newest Imp. Stout. And now, we are without, because we took them for granted. No more Lil' Yella Pils for when mowing the lawn. No more Gordon. to celebrate with. No more Ten Fidy to keep us warm on cold dark snowy nights, and it sucks.

So, the next time you are out looking over the beer aisle at your favourite establishment, or pouring over the tap selection, go with the Amber you've always loved but haven't had in a couple years. Or, the Pale Ale that got you into craft beer. Or even just get whatever is on from your favourite brewery that you'd like to support. Whatever you do, just make sure we do not lose another great brewery due to our complacency towards the "normal" beers that we see everyday. Because when that happens, we'll get left waiting on the doorstep once again.

Until next time, keep evolving.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Adventures in uncertainty.

So, I got a message today from my cousin whom posed a good question. In relation to my last post, she was asking if yeast actually understood the part they play. And made the point that it makes sense that they and we do not as well. That we may never know the part that we play. It's a good point and I think that's what makes life so interesting.

We go through life hoping to have some purpose and, if we are dreamers, maybe even make a lasting change to this world. Most of us, though, will never know what our parts are, why we are here. Maybe it's some grand design, maybe it's just the randomness of life. Who am I to say.

Now, in looking back through history there have been moments that have changed the course of history. The best part is, most of the time, the people that were there making said history had no idea. It was just another day to them. The same goes for our little fungal friends, yeast. It's just another day to break stuff down, to cause chemical chain reactions that was once thought to have been cause by magic gnomes. (Well, in beer making at least, I guess gnomes just love making beer...and shoes.) But, the fact of the matter is the overall impact is huge.

My point is, once this adventure is over and the uncertainty of our lives is but a distant memory, isn't it all about feeling like the little things that we will do will have a big impact? Most of us will honestly never know the answer to this, but isn't it nice to think that everything we do will someday be enjoyed by someone else? That someday someone will come along and enjoy the fruits of our lifetimes? Who knows, maybe we are just like the yeast, running around, doing our thing and have no idea that we are making a cosmic beer of sorts. If we are, lets just hope it turns out.

Until next time, keep evolving.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The microcosm of beer, and the macrocosm of life.

So, I have been doing some thinking today. Being a little introspective if you will, which if you know me doesn't happen often. Not to gloss over something that is important and serious in my life but I have a family member that is gravely ill and it got me thinking. And, as this chain of thoughts shows, we all deal with these things in our own way. Somehow my thoughts turned to beer and how it relates to life in general.

So, in brewing, we take a living organism and give it food and shelter. We nourish it, nurture it, and try to keep it from getting sick. In some ways it becomes a child to us, and yes, I have been known to talk to it. If you haven't guessed I am talking about yeast. That magic little fungus that takes basic sugars and converts them into alcohol which, when you have the proper mix of grains, water and some hops, hopefully gives us beer.

Now, in thinking about this, I realized that every time I brew I get to watch life begin and end in a matter of weeks. It's the beginning and end of time for all the yeast know. In watching yeast when it's active, I have witnessed clumps of it banding together to help find food and survive for just a bit longer. Higher thought process or not, they do the same thing we do, survive to propagate more life.

In nature, though, it seems these little guys have a bigger purpose, to break down matter and return it to the earth. That begs the question, what is our purpose? We live, eat, breath, and give off copious amounts of Co2, just like yeast, but where do we fit in? We celebrate coming into this world and mourn leaving it, yet in the end what is it for? Yeast are here for mere days and we get 80 years if we are lucky, which is not long at all. Yet in those few days, a yeasts actions can seem more grand than ours.

I guess what it comes down to in the end, is what have we done of purpose lately? Think about that and then go home to your family, or call them if they aren't nearby, tell them you love them and start making plans. Plan big, give life some purpose, and hopefully when our time comes we can say we lived with purpose.

Keep evolving.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Call of the Wild.

Well, this is it. I have finally succumbed to all things interwebs related. Facebook? Check. Twitter? Check. Blog? Wow....check. It's weird how wanting to start a business makes you want to connect.

Anyways, as the days drag on and the seasons change I'll be posting my random musings about brewing and the industry in general. There will probably be lots of drinking involved and probably some beer reviews. Hopefully I have something interesting to say and hopefully you enjoy reading what I have to say. Until later, keep evolving!