Friday, 27 May 2011

Fermenting: Sour Cider (Mach I)


I’ve been itching to make a cider. Yet, since it’s off season, I don’t feel like going too crazy. So, I thought I’d make a nice simple recipe. If successful, this should be ready around Thanksgiving. If really successful, it’ll be gone by then.

    Sour Cider (Mach I)

  • 4 gallons Indian Summer apple cider
  • ~2 tbsp Brettanomyces (aka dregs of 2 Orval bottles)

Update 15 June 2011
The Orval bugs are still going strong. A fresh layer of krausen has been ebbing and flowing twice a day for the past week. If/When it stalls out, I’ll bottle.

Update 09 July 2011
Bottled today. FG: 1.004
A little funkiness on the nose, smooth full body. Real easy to drink – even before the carbonation.

The Mad Fermentationist’s Sour Cider

Fermenting: Aloysius Amber Rye


Turns out, I’m addicted to Hopville’s Beer Calculus in much the same way others are addicted to Angry Birds. And the game play (get a group of ingredients to match a beer style) I find just as engaging.

The first of many recipes I’ve been working on is this Amber Rye in dedicated to my grandfather.

    Aloysius Amber Rye

  • 8# Briess Amber LME
  • 2# Rye Malt
  • 1# Crystal 50-60L
  • 8oz Flaked Rye
  • 0.5oz Chinook @ 60
  • 1.5oz Sterling @ 30
  • 1.0oz Ahtanum @ 15
  • Wyeast Headwaters Ale
  • Original Gravity: 1060. (Hopville estimated it @ 1074 – makes me think I could have done a better job of milling the rye.)
  • ABV: 7.5
  • IBU: 43
  • BU/GU: 0.59

This was also my first attempt at a DeathBrewer-style partial mash. It’s just the bridge I was looking for into all grain brewing. The process was straightforward and much more ‘Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew‘ than many of the other partial mash processes I’d been reading up on (even in step 2 DeathBrewer reminds us to be comfortable).

The fermentation was strong by morning, and now – 24 hrs later is going full bore. I’m thankful this batch is in a 7 gallon brew bucket – rather than a 5 gallon carboy.

Here’s the Aloysius Amber Rye on Hopville

Update 9 July 2011:
F.G: 1.020
Medium brown in color.
Pre-carbonation: Tasting notes – Sharp black pepper & caramally-sweetness right away. Finishes clean.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Success: Actual Size

For the past 8 years, I’ve run my own company. A digital product consulting company. Across those 8 years, I’ve launched 3 products of my own that I’m very proud of – while doing interesting client work, that I’m also very proud of.

I’ve also become a father of 3.

As I write this, my third child is nearly a year old. Experience has told me – a newborn in the house is demanding enough – there’s no reason to purposefully add more. Whether that be the demands of launching a startup or anything else. It just makes everything that much more difficult and everyone that much more unhappy. I want more happiness – not less.

Thankfully – I’m able to work in a way that I’m most productive. On projects I’m interested in and still be there when the 5 yr old finds his first toad in the backyard.

This is why I live in Minnesota.

“If you can build a six-figure lifestyle business, chances are you can build a million-dollar business, but only if you want to. How big you build the business is up to you because you’re calling all the shots, for better or worse.” – Corbett Barr

“When you need thirty people to create a company, venture capital is important. When you need three, it isn’t….we’re three middle-aged fathers…we decided that we wanted to make enough money so that none of us had to change our standard of living.” – Dan Grigsby

“I’ve been doing one kind of startup or another for pretty much my entire adult life, so being an entrepreneur is really the only way that I know how to live and that’s with or without kids.” – Jason Roberts

To Make Matters Worse.

“You should analyse which cookies are strictly necessary and might not need consent. You might also use this as an opportunity to ‘clean up’ your webpages and stop using any cookies that are unnecessary or which have been superseded as your site has evolved.” [pdf]

Upshot: Strictly necessary cookies don’t require explicit user consent.

Which means, the EU e-Privacy Directive simply reduces the overall number of cookies dropped by websites. Unless there are suddenly teams of EU Auditors inspecting the business logic at every company around the world – it’s hard to imagine less tracking, less remarketing, less of what this was directive trying to minimize, going on.

It’s easy to imagine the tracking problem increasing and the remarketing efforts increasing and code the captures the data getting further buried into the business logic. All while, a smaller number of analytics companies with their ‘strictly necessary’ cookies grow even larger and are able to better profile/target individuals.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Why I Auto-Renew Domain Names

A couple weeks back, I had this idea for a new web app. Like so many of these ideas – I wrote it down. Just to get it out of my head.

This afternoon, I get an email from my sister describing the need for a web app not unlike the one I wrote down earlier.

So, I took a few minutes after dinner and started looking for available domain/code names for the project. Nothing that I’d be proud of. Nothing that would really resonate with me as I built it. Nothing that would continually remind me of the attitude and purpose of the site.

Then, the moment I walked away from the search, I remembered…

I already have the perfect domain. And I just renewed it.

This new project is both a perfect fit for the domain name and easier to prototype.


Turn On, Tune In, Opt Out

For a couple years now, I’ve felt Timothy Leary’s 60’s mantra ‘Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out‘ has gained new relevance.

The first two sections of the triplet seemed quite obvious. We can even re-use Leary’s explanation of them. The third section was more elusive. While Leary preferred to describe it as a commitment on self-reliance – ‘Drop Out’ – implies a complete disengagement.

It wasn’t until clicking through Jeremy Abbett‘s Driven to Distraction deck that I got it.

In this age of ever-more-granular control of our incoming & outgoing communications – wholly and complete disengagement is too primitive a solution. It’s much more beneficial to ruthlessly opt out.

Opt out is setting your Facebook privacy to minimize Facebook’s ability to sell you.
Opt out is the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email campaigns you receive.
Opt out is your spam filter.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Pegging Us Afloat

One of the reasons I love economics is it’s complexity. Sure, in theory the principles are simple – their application across a global scale are awe-inspiring, and frame-shattering.

Take this passage from former Obama economics advisor Christina Romer on the terribly selfish reason China owns so many Treasury bonds:

“For years, China has deliberately accumulated United States Treasury bonds to keep the dollar’s value high in renminbi terms. The United States would export more and grow faster if China allowed the dollar’s price to fall. Congress routinely threatens retaliation if China doesn’t take steps that amount to weakening the dollar.” – Christina D. Romer

So…..China is artificially inflating their currency by pegging it against the USD and buying up Treasury bonds to keep it a float.

Romer argues that this is preventing the US economy from fully recovering – thereby postponing a more fundamental rise in the value of the USD. Thereby making it a less attractive currency – in the short term – to peg another currency against.


Thursday, 19 May 2011

First Crack #127. A Guitar, Bass, Electric Trumpet, and Bryan Schumann

Bryan Schumann and I talk about composing music, improvising music, and whether the classical guitar pairs better with an upright bass or an electric trumpet.

Bryan Schumann’s links:
Beznau Music Shop

Listen to A Guitar, Bass, Electric Trumpet, and Bryan Schumann. [27 min]

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

This Beer Tastes Like Corn

For the past week all the commercial beer I’ve tasted has this flat, grey, toffee-textured, corn-like taste. Doesn’t matter if I’m drinking at one of many brew pubs in Wisconsin or a sixer of something imported from the 49th state.

In all cases, this taste is so strong the beer is undrinkable.

Thankfully the first time this happened, I was catching up with a friend with a history of judging beers.

He pulls out his phone and points me to the Home Brewing Wiki’s page on DMS (Dimethyl sulfide).

Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) is an organic sulfur compound present above its flavor threshold in most beers. Because of its low flavor threshold, 10 – 150 ppb, it is a primary flavor and aroma compound that makes a significant contribution to beer character, especially in lager beers. It has a characteristic taste and aroma of cooked corn or creamed corn.

Yes, I think as a general rule I’ll be skipping lagers containing 20% corn.