Friday, November 26, 2010

Awesome day

Today was an awesome day in my brewing life.

I did what few brewers have ever done.

I brewed 6 beers in one day!!!!!!!!

While the rest of you were fighting mobs of people to get a Xbox for $10 off, I was brewing beer.

I started this morning in the vicinity of 10AM and finished around 10PM. I brewed the following:
Carbon Black Oatmeal Stout
Rye Pale Ale
Belgian Duppel
Metathesis Pale Ale (double batch)

All of these were partial mash recipes, so it took ever longer. I ended up with two 5-gallon pails full of spent grains. They are now sitting in my composting bin waiting until spring.

It was tricky at times figuring out what hops went where, but I did it. I had two batches going at all times. While my wife and kids decorated the house for Christmas, I brewed. I was very busy.

I will not have to brew for a few months.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

back in the saddle again

I was recently offered an interim "promotion" to an administrative position at my college. I don't want to tell you what it is, but it rhymes with "Gene of the Smackulty." I quickly accepted the position only to find out later that apparently, I can't fire anyone I want.

I've been learning and doing a lot! This has left little time to brew. Thankfully, I've finally gotten things into a nice groove and have planned a few brews.

I just ordered the ingredients for 6 batches of beer. In no particular order:
Maifest bock
Metathesis Pale Ale x2
Carbon Black stout
Double bock
Rye Pale Ale

By Christmas, I should have a stout, porter, pale ale, and a rye pale ale ready to go. That should make me happy. Besides, that's what its all about.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I finally dumped it.

It took me a while to build up the courage to dump 5 gallons of beer down the drain, but I did it.

This was my first total loss.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Patents vs copyright

When a drug is patented, the patent last 20 years. It often takes 8-10 years of testing before a drug can be sold to the public. That means the drug company has only 10-12 years to recoup the costs. After which, anyone can make the drug and sell it.

Try that in any other creative endeavor and it gets labeled "outright theft of intellectual property."

Recently some Thai animators, created a nearly identical replica of Beauty and the Beast. Oh the horrors!!! Disney's patent on Beauty and the Beast would have run out long ago.[1] This knockoff would be totally legal if it were a drug. If so, you could buy it at Walmart for $4.

[1] yes, it was released in 1991, but I'm sure the testing and development started years before.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010



Anyone know the importance of this?

Is anyone a fan of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?

Can anyone make the connection?

The first person to do so wins a prize.[1]

non-nerds need not napply.[2]

[1] I'll email you an emoticon.
[2] alliteration enhanced.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

oops, I did it again.

I'm kind of like this:

I once had trouble with a bit of a beer geyser. Well, tonight I got fooled again. Shame on me..or.. don't get fooled a second time... whatever.

After killing three kegs within the matter of 2 days (thanks in large part to my family), I went about filling those three kegs.

I had removed the faucets for cleaning well...err...forgot to attach them... again... like that other time. I had a nice spray of pale ale flying out of my tap tower.

BUT!!!!!! Since God apparently likes me, 97% of the beer was sprayed into a garbage can. For 12 seconds I was pissed off!!!! But then, I realized all of the beer was in the garbage can. How sweet.

Still, it was a pretty stupid thing to do.

Things I hate

I hate speaker phones.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's torture

Since the beginning of August (± several days), I have had three beers on tap. I have a pale ale, a dark lager and a saison. All fine beers.

About a month ago, I found out my brother was going to be in town during this coming weekend. Since he is an enjoyer of beer, I figured I would save some for him. Easier said than done.

I've spent the last several weeks doing my best to ration my beer. This has been challenging... no actually it's been torture. I enjoy drinking my beer, but I've abstained. I've limited myself to one (or two) beers every few days. I think I should have enough.

Thankfully, my local neighborhood liquor store is closing to make room for a CVS pharmacy. They've been selling everything dirt cheap. I've taken advantage to the tune of 2 cases of wine for $3 a bottle. Not bad.

Long story short, I should have enough beer to share with my brother, but it wasn't easy. I'll be sure to remind him of that.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

stupid, stupid, stupid....

I have brewed over 115 batches of beer in my homebrewing career. I would like to think I know what I am doing. Recently, I brewed a partial mash rye ale. I was excited because I had never brewed a batch with rye in it.

I have a large kettle in which I can boil about 4.5 gallons of wort. After boiling the wort and chilling it, I dumped it into my carboy. My carboy has a mark on it to indicate 5 gallons. After dumping the wort in, the liquid level was about a half-gallon OVER the mark!!!!

I spent several minutes trying to figure out how I had made a gallon of liquid out of nothing. Maybe I had somehow acquired divine abilities. Sweet. What should I do first with my powers?

After thinking for a few minutes I realize what has happened. I didn't create matter. I forgot to dump the sanitizing solution out of the carboy.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

To return or not to return

With the recent rash of delinquent bloggers returning to active blogging, (see here, here, here and maybe even here) I've asked myself if maybe I should return to blogging on a more regular basis.

hmmmmmmmm, what to do, what to do?!?!?

Nah, I'm just going to stay here and keep blogging at a local high school. .. Unless, three of my fellow blog buddies would like to fly out here and talk me into returning.

Or, you could just offer me $20 million.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just popping in for a bat.. I mean bit.

I'm not really coming out of blogging retirement, but sometime things just need to be shared with the world[1]

Apparently, some dude in the Minneapolis area decided to go all NRA on a bat in his house. While it got the job done, it also got him in a bit of trouble. My favorite part was when he sent his wife upstairs to be safe. I'm pretty sure bats fly near the ceiling which happens to be the floor of the upstairs. Brilliant.

[1] assuming the 'world' is the 3 of you that read this.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why I love living in Minnesota

Today was the day. The day Spring done went and sprung here in God's country.

This morning the trees lining the river valley were brown. By the afternoon, there was an obvious green color covering the valley.

The sudden appearance of green is what makes Minnesota great. We endure harsh winters for this very day and the many that follow.

Now, if I can keep the freakin' rabbits away, we should get to enjoy a few nice tulips in a couple weeks.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Random thought as I randomly post sporadically

In the USA, yesterday was census day. Stand and be counted. I must admit, I still need to send in my census stuff. The USA Today published some interesting data on census participation. How does your state stack up? Notice that the highest participation rate is for states in the Midwest! Horray Midwesterners!!!! We are so responsible.

But, I was wondering. Where do these percentages come from? Let's review some math.

A percentage is mathematically described as the part over the whole times 100. In this specific example it is the number of people that responded divided by the total number of people in the state times 100.

But wait, the purpose of the census is to count the total number of people in the state. How can the percent be calculated if the total number of people isn't even known?

One equation with two unknowns cannot be solved.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stuff that I think is funny, not girls kissing. Just watch the whole thing. It's funny.

The part at 2:16 is funniest.

Happy pi day

[(–1)^(1/2)] [2^3] π

....and it was good

Happy π day everyone!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More free homebrewing advice.

Here's a novel idea for those of you interested in homebrewing. When you get grains at your LHBS* it is a good idea to label each bags. I know it sounds radical, but it helps identify which is the domestic 2-row and which is the Maris Otter. Or to identify the 20°L crystal from the 55°L crystal malt.

The last time I went to my LHBS, I got about 20 pounds of grains to be used in several batches. At my LHBS, it is a self service deal where one weighs out each grain, crushes it and puts it in a plastic bag. The last time I was there I got into a really cool conversation with another brewer while we were in the grain room. I kept weighing and crushing grains as we talked. However, I forgot to label most of my bags. I wrote everything on a list so the checkout guy knew what I was buying, but I distracted enough to neglect labeling the bags for my own use.

I just realized this a couple days ago and I got really pissed at myself. I THINK I identified what each thing is. I'm most confused about which 10 pound bag is Maris Otter and which is 2-row. In the end, it isn't that critical really, but I won't be making my Irish stout to the correct specs if I guess wrong.

*That's Local HomeBrew Store

Monday, March 1, 2010

potty humor (nerd alert)


Ag sucks

Congratulations to our neighbors to the north. You can have your Au. Hell of a game though, eh? Ah geez. We had it and den we din't.

If the bulk of Canadians[1] weren't such nice folk, I'd be real pissed off. Instead, since I live in Minnesota[2] and since I appreciate good hockey, I'm willing to let this one slide, fellas.

But geez, we almost had it. Curse that Gretzky version 2.0 fella.[3]

All I can say is, Horray North America!!!!!! Yeah, take that, World!!!

[1] in my experience, mostly those to the west of the French speakers and those to the east of the French speakers.
[2] Considered by some to be the southern-most province of Canada.
[3] geez, it took like 2 minutes for someone (probably from Nova Scotia) to update his Wikipedia page to include his game winning goal. God bless the internets.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The ACS national conference is coming up. The theme is sustainability. The keynote speech is Green Chemistry: Chemical Solutions for a Sustainable World. The whole "green" thing reminded me of a post I wrote almost 2 years ago. Since I'm semi-retired from blogging, I thought I'd do a little reposting to fill up the space.

Here is my opinion of "going green" from a May 2008 post.


I think of a lot of things. Recently, when the trees were finally forming leaves[1], I was thinking about chlorophyll. The area is finally turning green and the amount of chlorophyll being produced by trees is no doubt in the "ton" range.[2]

I got to thinking about the visible spectrum of chlorophyll a and b. Here is a picture from Wikipedia:
Do you notice anything? Look at the spectrum again and think about it for a second.

Let me ask you this: Why do leaves (most of them) look green?

Yup, because they don't absorb the green wavelengths of light. They don't absorb anything in the 500-550 nm range. In other words, green plants reject the color green!!!!

Allow me to personify. Plants hate green and they will have nothing to do with it. That is why they do not absorb green wavelengths of light. Plants DO like blue and red light. They absorb those wavelengths with glee. Plants hate green and love blue and red.

If you care about plants (and I hope you do because your survival depends on them) you should have the courtesy to reject what plants reject: GREEN.

I'm in favor of plants so I will not "Go Green" for anything. I will "Go Red and Blue". That's what plants like, and I like plants.

[1] We're still waiting for solid Spring weather.
[2] That would be an interesting calculation to figure out what mass of chlorophyll (all types) are stored in one tree.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm a super poster!!!!

Ever since I said I was going to quit blogging, I've found myself thinking of a lot more blog post ideas. I've also found that since I quit, I've felt a lot less pressure to post anything. I can't seem to get myself to totally quit. Slow down, yes, but not quit. I've like the Brett Farve of posting.

OK, maybe not, but here I am. Not being retired from blogging.

Let me get you up to date on my brewing activities because they have been plenty.

Tonight, I once again pulled off an evening few would be able to do. I did all of the following without my wife's help as she was out supporting the family:
I fed 4 kids (corn dogs, sweet corn, corn chips, see a theme here. They love that type of stuff)
I entertained 4 kids until the Olympics came on. Then I made popcorn for a snack. I vacuumed up a lot of popcorn my 1 year old dispersed.
I got 4 kids to bed. PJs, stories, brushed teeth, potty, everything.
I brewed two beers. An American Pilsner lager and and Czech Pilsner. One extract and one partial mash.
I sanitized 4 carboys.
I racked a 10 gallon batch of beer to two 5 gallon carboys and dry hopped them.
I emptied the dishwasher.
I filled the dishwasher.
I cleaned my 10 gallon carboy.

It was a busy night and I'm ready to finally drink a homebrew and relax.

So, I was thinking to myself that after a night like this, I'm pretty super. And that reminded me of a story.

When I was young (around 4-6 years old) I loved Superman. Who didn't? One day I was playing in our basement, and I decided to declare my admiration of Superman to the world by writing a bold statement in red crayon on the white basement wall. I wrote:

I love Supper man

My mom was not amused in the least. She also pointed out that I wasn't a very good speller. But, in the end, it turned out to be prophetic. Well almost. I don't love Superman as much now days, but I sure do love supper, man.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My newest activity

I've found a new outlet for all of the information floating around in my head.
I do homework for desperate/lazy students.

Yahoo Answers is a website that allows users to ask any kind of question. You may have heard of it.

If you go to the chemistry section (and I'm sure this is true of any area) there are all sorts of questions from users that clearly came off of a homework assignment. I'm sure most of these come from students too lazy to figure it out on there own.

That doesn't stop me. I answer them. Sometimes I answer them correctly. Sometimes, I don't.

Basically, it amuses me. Try it sometime.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


OK, I'm not going to totally quit blogging. But, I am going to fall into the typical pattern of a dying blog. I'll sporadically blog until I totally stop. It could get ugly and uncomfortable. Feel free to just look away.

Beside, I still have things to say that the world cannot do without!

First of all, which USA state has provided the most olympians for the 2010 Winter olympics in Vancouver?

If you said any state other than Minnesota, you would be wrong.

Minnesota has provided 21 world class athletes to represent the USA in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics. That's more than any other state. Many are involved in hockey or curling, but a few are involved in skiing. Curling and hockey make sense, but the skiing doesn't. The longest ski run in Minnesota is about 35 feet.

Here's one of them skiers:
hmmmmm. I don't think this picture of Lindsay Vonn was taken in Minnesota. Not even the Duluth area.

Secondly, apparently the NBA is running its All-star game. Sorry, the world quit caring about that in 1988.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It still stinks

After spending a week wallowing in a state of self-pity, I've come to a few conclusions about the Vikings loss in the NFC championship game.

  1. Without Brett Favre the Vikings don't play in the Championship
  2. Brett Favre is, as he was for Green Bay, the Vikings greatest asset and greatest liability
  3. However, Favre did not lose the game, Adrian Peterson did with his fumbles (despite an otherwise great game).
  4. The Vikings should have been able to score at least 13 more points than they did. Those chances were fumbled away.
  5. The Defense was superb... right up until overtime.
  6. Uncatchable balls are uncatchable. How can an uncatchable pass be interfered with.
  7. I don't mind ending sentences with prepositions.
  8. After the lose, I was amazed at how emotionally exhausting it is having a successful sports team.

Monday, January 25, 2010

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.... hmmm

When the math gets hard and heavy in General Chemistry, and my students get frustrated, I tell my students that if they can count to 5, they have the math skills needed to handle about 90% of what we cover in Organic Chemistry.

For those of you not into chemistry, carbon can only form 4 bonds. I tell my organic students to count the bonds to carbon and if they get to 5, something is wrong.

My beloved Vikings need something similar to the number 12. Despite all of the stupid mistakes they made last night, they actually had a chance to win the game until they got penalized for having 12 men in the huddle...after a time out!!!!

From now on, they should hire someone who's only job is to count the people on the field. If that person gets to 12, they should alert the coach.

Of course, in the scenario last night, there was nothing they could have done. They can't call back to back time outs. The blame lies squarely on the coaching staff. And then of course, Brett Farve decided to once again dash the hopes of a long suffering fan base by throwing in interception.....

I know, I was going to quit blogging, but this is cathartic.

OK, say with me:

uh oh!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Belated birthday to the blog and goodbye?

This blog was born on January 3, 2007. That's three years ago, and I missed its birthday 20 days ago. oops. It is time to reflect on whether I have accomplished what I wanted to with this blog.

In short, No, not really. My posts on the Chemistry of brewing have been few a far between. My problem is that I plan big ambitious posts and never find the time or motivation to finish them. There's something about having 4-5 classes a semester and 4 kids that really sucks the energy from ones being. Don't get me wrong, I love the life I have with 4-5 classes a semester and 4 kids, but it is not conducive to being a good and comprehensive blogger.

I had hoped this blog would be a source of meaningful information regarding the chemistry of brewing. I never quite got there.

On the other hand, I've written a lot about education and teaching. I usually complain about things, but that's not unusual. And regardless of the subject matter, I've been writing. Not well, but writing none the less. If there is one thing that I need to practice it is writing. I've used this blog to force myself to at least try to craft a thought and make it coherent as written words. I know I will never be 'writer' but I never wanted to be. I just want to exercise my brain.

So, were does that leave this blog?

Well, two days ago, I had a conversation with my brain. We have been mulling over the idea of shutter up this little corner of the internet. I came to a decision (this was just two days ago, BTW). I decided that I would continue to blog, albeit sporadically, as long as blog pal Matt Jenks continued to blog on his site, A Crown of Thistles. I thought, if he ever quits, then I'm going to quit. In a sense, I was merely passing the buck on making a decision.

Guess what? He's quitting (sort of).

To be true to my brain, I'm quitting too. Sort of. I plan on taking a bit of a hiatus. Yeah, yeah I know. I seem to have been on hiatus for the past 2 years.

Anywho, I'm not going to post much around here. Even less than I have. Maybe I'll shut it down completely. I'm not sure yet. Maybe I'll get my second wind and find some inspiration.

Until then,

Good bye cruel world

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wort as a beverage

My wife and I recently took a trip to Puerto Rico. We picked the most perfect time. Minnesota was suffering from record cold temperatures and Puerto Rico was not. It was great.

While in Puerto Rico, I discovered a drink that is very popular in the Caribbean, but I had never heard of before. And it is related to beer.

Malta. No, not the island, the drink.

Malta is essentially wort that has not been fermented. Wort, of course, is what beer is made from. It is made using barley, hops and water. In the case of malta, it is bottled and carbonated.

In Puerto Rico the brand I had was Malta India. It was exactly what anyone who has brewed would expect. It tasted like wort. It was sweet, balanced with a gentle bitterness. It is not a refreshing drink and one that requires an acquired taste. For those unfamiliar with wort, imagine watering down some molasses.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The legend is true.

OMG, it does exist!!!

I just found my desk.

After I shred a pile of papers, I will have clean (in a very relative sense) desk.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rain in January

Hey losers freezing your butts off on the continent (USA specifically).

I got rained on in Puerto Rico today while riding bike and I didn't mind a bit. Man, I could live here. After I learn Spanish of course.

My wife and I reckoned neither of us had ever been rained on during January. At least not comfortably.

Those we left behind in MN can enjoy the cold and snow. And to think, there is still another country further north than Minnesota.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Avatar has made a billion dollars and counting.

You would think they could have hired someone to teach Sigourney Weaver how to use an Eppendorf Pipette.

If you've seen it, did you notice? If you haven't, watch for it when they take the trailer to a remote location (you'll know what I mean).

Not to mention that since the film is set in 2154 it seems odd that Eppendorf would not have updated their design for about 160 years.

A little math lesson for you

Where I am:

Where I will be in about 30 hours:

Here's the math (updated to actually be correct) :

83°F – (-23°F) = 105°F difference between the two locales.

After setting two record lows in 2010 (yeah, that's 2 out of 4 days) for my area, I'm ready for a break.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone. I hope 2010 treats you well.

My family and I spent the night at a friends house. I drank some a pale ale that I designed and brewed with my friend. He had it on tap. It was delicious. Almost a bit too cascady (if that is possible).

Of all of the beer I drank during 2009, none of it compares to the beer that Al over at HopTalk drank. He finished 365 days of beer. During 2009 he drank 365 unique beers. Impressive and probably more of a burden than it seems.

Have a great 2010!!!