Monday, November 30, 2009

My pipeline bursteth

I currently have 9 beers in my pipeline:
  1. Imperial Stout 100
  2. Metathesis Pale Ale
  3. Generic pale ale #1
  4. Generic pale ale #2
  5. Oatmeal Stout #1
  6. Oatmeal Stout #2
  7. Guinness clone
  8. Doppelbock
  9. Grain Belt Premium lager clone
Four of these batches are for friends. I'm contract brewing now, sort of.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A few reasons why I might be awesome

I brewed two batches of beer tonight. A pale ale and a pale ale.
I racked two beers to secondaries. An oatmeal stout and a doppel bock.
I cleaned and sanitized three carboys during the process.
I changed a poopy diaper.
I fed my kids*.
I put my kids to bed*.
I wrote a math quiz today.
I taught 4 classes and an organic lab.
I wrote a gen chem exam.
I got my kids to school...on time.
I graded homework.
I bought new jeans for the first time in 6 years (true story).
I bought salt for our water softener.


I got a flu shot. Seasonal, not H1N1. They won't give that to me, yet.

And I did this all before 10 PM. Now, I'm watching Scrubs on WGN and then I'm going to bed.

* with my wife's help.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lager picture

Here is a picture of a glass full of lager I made a few months ago. It never actually lagered as long as it should have. I was too impatient.

Since the winter months are upon us here in Minnesota and my lagering fridge is in my unheated garage, I was looking at the possibility of shutting the lagering portion of my brewery down for a while. No way!!! I went to Walmart and spent $10 on a really crappy heater. I connected it to my temp controller, switched it to the heating setting and I continue to lager by using a heater in my fridge to get the 52°F temp needed.

Right now I am fermenting a clone of Grain Belt Premium and a doppelbock.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Worst website on the nets

Biggest mall in the USA.

Worst website in the world.

Functionality has been replace with gimmics to the point of excessive suckiness.

Friday, November 13, 2009

beer 100

As you may recall, I've brewed a few batches of beer. Over 100 now to be inexact. For batch 100, I decided to do an imperial stout that weighs in at 10.0% ABV.

It's currently in the secondary chillin' over some oak. The gravity is now down to 1.028 from an OG of 1.098

Here are some pictures:

The big starter. I got this baby going. So big that when I gave it a good swirl, the entire thing erupted into a 6 foot geyser out of the airlock all over my kitchen. It reminded me of something. I had quite a mess to clean up.

Here the brew kettle:

Here's the fermentation

Here's the blow off tube. This thing was really bubbling. I was impressed.

I tasted some recently and it is strong and good.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Horseradish: Kick ass chemistry

I like horseradish. It is used in cocktail sauce, spicy mustards, wasabi sauces and Arby's horsey sauce.

Several years ago I planted horseradish in my backyard. Horseradish is essentially a weed and grows with little attention. During October, the roots can be harvested and ground up into a most delightful condiment. I recently did that.

Here's the dirty roots:
Here they are after cleaning. One of them (top left) has been peeled:

I do everything outside so I don't die from the strong fumes. Using a food processor, I grind up the roots and add enough water to make a grindable paste. This is when the odor gets strong. To stop the enzymatic action (see below) I add a few tablespoon of a 5% aqueous acetic acid solution (vinegar) and bottle it. Here is the prepared horseradish:

Yes, I made a quart and a half. That's a lot.

So, what about the chemistry? Glad you asked.

Horseradish is not pungent until you start destroying cell walls. When that happens, enzymes are released and they go into action and start breaking down glucosinolates. The result is a number of compounds in the isothiocyanate class such as allylisothiocyanate and 2-phenyl ethyl isothiocyanate as shown:

These compounds are noxious and irritating.

But, they also have a special place in my heart. I used isothiocyanates regularly in my graduate work. I spent some time functionalizing amino terminated dendrimers with isothiocyanates. What is great about the isothiocyanate group is that it reacts exclusively with amino groups in the presence of alcohols. The isothiocyanate is tuned just right to react with the more nucleophilic N instead of the less nucleophilic O. Cool (see above and ignore the misspelled isothiocyanate).

Monday, November 2, 2009

UHP He for the kids

So, what do you do when your tank of ultra-high purity helium drops down to 100 psi? The pressure is too low for the GC (gas chromatograph). I could just send it back as is to the gas store when I get a new tank, but I see opportunity here.

I brought it home to the kids.

I filled some balloons I had on hand and then filled some garbage bags I stole from the janitor's closet.

The garbage bags are surprisingly good at holding He.

My kids think I'm the greatest dad ever.

I think I'm in the running for: