Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ghost Rider

I went to see Ghost Rider this weekend. I had seen previews but other than that I hadn't read or heard of the graphic novels that this movie was based on. That might be why I enjoyed the movie when I had heard that other people didn't like it so much. As I had not expectation of the story line, I was able to enjoy it for what it was, a movie. The story centers around a daredevil who appears to be trying to kill himself. As the story progresses we soon learn that he has signed away future use of his services to the devil in exchange from some intangible item. Because of this he has isolated himself from the world and is living life one day at a time. Trouble arises when his old flame steps into his life again and the devil comes calling on his promise. The ending wraps up nicely. I didn't see the ending coming and was happy with the way it wrapped up. It was appropriate and fitting. It was not simply "the good guy wins" but rather "evil has been defeated through its own stupidity". All in all, very good. I kind of hope there is another movie in the works as I liked the characters and at the same time, sequels never live up to the first movie. Maybe I should go and check out the graphic novels now.

Labels: ,

Another snow day

Winter snow fall
Originally uploaded by Canadian Loonie.
Started snowing today. It started off as sleet but then progressed into the wet fluffy snow. I ended up going to the movies and walked through the snow fall. It was very nice out. Everything was covered in a thick layer of fluffy snow. I grabbed the camera and took some pics as I was running down to catch the bus. The buses were running late making me late but then so was the person I was meeting up with.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How to make beer, pt 3

Now if the first two methods didn't sound challenging enough, the third way to brew is to use grains either as the whole sugar bill or in combination with DME. The grains will be soaked at about 155F (68C) for between 30-90 minutes and the temperature may be stepped up too. The grains are then strained out of the water so that a wort is left. The grains can be rinsed with warm or hot water to rinse out more sugars. The resulting wort will either be augmented with DME or not, but at this point the wort will be boiled as in part 2 for 60 minutes with hops and various other ingredients. Again, many brewers will do a full boil as they will have collected quite a lot of water from rinsing the grains. The wort will be cooled and the yeast pitched. Again the fermenting will go from 2 weeks to 2 months. A good way to determine if the fermentation is complete is to check the sugar level of the beer. The final gravity will be compared to the original gravity and if the difference is acceptable then the beer can be bottled or kegged. The difference between those two gravities will also allow the brewer to determine the alcohol content of the beer. The bigger the difference the more alcohol. Most brewers will have a hydrometer which they will float in a sample of beer. This will determine the gravity based on sugar content. Then the sample will be tasted. All along the process it is possible to taste the beer or the grains to get an idea of what flavour each ingredient will impart on the beer.

Bottling beer requires that the beer be moved off any sediment into a clean bucket, then some corn sugar, DME or honey (actually any number of sweet things) will be added. The beer is mixed gently to incorporate the sugar but without incorporating too much air. The beer is then siphoned into the bottles. The sugar will give the yeast that one last little kick which will cause them to carbonate the beer. Carbonation can also be done in the keg but one of the beauties of using a keg is that you can chill the keg then pressurize it in 2 days thus having drinkable beer sooner without all the capping. The draw back is that you don't have bottled beer to share, it is all on tap. It is possible to bottle beer after the fact but care has to be taken to not lose the carbonation from the beer. Bottles are pre-chilled then cold beer is placed in clod bottles and capped immediately.

Now if all of this sounds fun the best way to get started is to look for a local homebrew store and they will help you get started. The most basic equipment list would include a fermenting bucket, a top and regulator for the bucket, tubing to siphon with, the bottling tube, and a store beer kit. The store beer kit is something that is guaranteed to work and if there are any problems the store owner can help. One of the biggest problems people have is either not cleaning things correctly, or they are not waiting long enough for the beer to age. Young beer can be a little sharper then new brewers expect and they think the beer hasn't turned out. Waiting a few more weeks to allow it to bottle age helps with that. And remember the brewers mantra: relax, don't worry, have a homebrew!

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 19, 2007

More Beer!

I put on another three batches of beer. I think at this point my pipeline is full and I can back off. Once the beer is ready, I can do maintence brewing but I should always have beer ready to drink if I put on a batch once a month. I decided to make a cranberry weizenbier which I made on Sunday. On Monday, I had a fellow brewer over and we put on two big 5 gallon batches, one was a maple nut brown and the other was a chocolate stout. The nice thing was, I had a chance to try out a wort chiller and I really liked using it. He had just bought one so we had a chance to play with it. It is basically a copper tubing coil that get immersed into the hot wort. It is then hooked up to either a garden hose or the faucet and cold water is run through the tubing which then cools the wort. It worked very well. I think I will have to pick one up for the next batch. In the meantime, it is now time to sit back relax and wait for the beer to be ready.

I actually tried a few things differently with the yeast for the beer. I opted to try a liquid yeast, although at the time I didn't realize how expensive they were. I bough one package for the two 5 gallon beers and scaled up the yeast then pitched. It worked really well. For the weizenbier, I actually managed to save some yeast from the bottom of a bottle of Unibroue beer that was also a wit beer. That also worked quite well. Not sure if the trouble was worth it in the end as I still had to make something to grow the yeast in but I am really interested in seeing if there is a taste difference. I guess there is the bragging rights, not sure to whom but they are there. The fermentation was really active compared to when I normally use a dry yeast.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How to make beer, pt 2

So making beer is easy right? Well, the next step up on the difficulty scale is to obtain either a can of malt or dried malt and to do an extract brew. Ingredients for this will include malt, DME (dry malt extract, basically sugar from barley), hops and yeast. The DME will be the cane sugar substitute. Everything will be added to a large pot of water and boiled for 60 minutes. Many brewers will do a full boil at this point but not all, a full boil would be the full batch size, so 5 gallons for a 5 gallon batch. At the beginning of the boil some hops will be added, this will add bitterness to the beer and offset the sweetness by the DME, more hops will be added at the 30-45 minute mark for flavour then more will be added at the 55-57 minute mark for aroma. The whole mess, now called wort, will be cooled then brought up to 5 gallons (which is the standard sized batch). Yeast will be added. At this point the beer will ferment about 1 week in one bucket, then get moved to another bucket for another week at least then be bottled for 2-4 weeks. With this process, other things can be added to the beer that may require that the yeast take longer to break down sugars so the beer may stay in the secondary fermentor for up to 6 weeks possibly even longer. Honey takes a long time to break down and will slow the fermentation, also lagers are fermented at lower temperatures and that will affect the speed of the yeast to ferment.

There will be one more post after this. I will go into bottling and kegging a little as well as how to make beer straight from grains.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Making bread and mittens

So I didn't make it out for that hike today. I really should ahve forced myself up and out but it was so nice just lying their in a warm bed. In the end, I cleaned up a little, then pitched the yeast in my beer and started baking some bread. I had all those grains left over from the beer making so I incorporated some of them in the bread dough. I made the bread late in the day then put it in the fridge for a cold overnight rise. I have never tried making bread this way so I will be curious how it turns out and how long it takes to rise in the fridge. After kneading the dough, I am not sure I put in enough grains, but for a first shot, it will be fine. I also put in more wheat flour this time than I normally do so I hope it isn't too dense. Guess I will find out in a few days.

I also had a chance to go to a knitting group but I decided to be really lazy today. I really should force myself to get out more often as I really don't have as many chances during the week. I did start making myself a pair of mittens that are turning out quite nicely. I am mostly finished one mitten in just the few hours I was knitting. Can't wait to finish the set.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cat Empire

After bottling all the beer, and cleaning up a really big sticky mess, I went out with my bottler and we say Cat Empire playing at a local venue. I had never heard them play, nor had I even heard of them, but the description of their style sounded interesting. So after cleaning up we went out and enjoyed some really good, and really loud music. I did remember to bring ear plugs this time and I was glad I did. Not only did it keep my ears form ringing after the show, but by fintering out a lot of the crowd, I found the music seemed to improve with filtering. We went out for food after and I think my waist line is expanding from all the good food I ate this weekend. I knew I shouldn't have baked fresh cookies Thursday night. At least I had a great time. I am supposed to be going on a hike today but it is 2:00 in the morning and I have to be up and ready to go by 8:15. I am thinking this is not going to happen. Well I am off to bed.


Bottling beer

Today was beer bottling day. I had a 2.5 gal batch and a 1 gal batch. The 1 gal batch was the pepper beer and unfortunately part way through the filling process, the bottling attachment flew off and I sprayed beer all over the kitchen floor and myself. Talk about having a beer shower. Luckily I put my thumb over the end and kept the loss down to a minimum. I never did find my grease pencil so this time I used different caps for the different beers, but next time I will have to go out and buy another. The white beer was also bottled and went much smoother after I figured out to really push the bottling tube up into the tubing. I filled about 10 24oz bottles and several smaller 12oz bottles. I also ended up with a bottle of half white and half pepper beer, just to save the dregs. Not sure how that will turn out but I will see. I also checked the 5 gal batch and it was ready to have fresh yeast repitched and put in the keg. So in a few days I will have to wash the keg and get it ready for the beer.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 09, 2007


There was no official TGIF this week but a few of us did go over to the Hoya bar on campus and had a good time. I stuck around with the guy in the lab next door and we stayed until the bar closed then left. He's really nice and brews beer too, but I am just not sure he is interested. I had a chance to try an amaretto sour, which was very good. I also had a shot of tequila, not quite so good but I guess you have to try things at least once or be more drunk when trying them. The buffalo wings were dangerously good and there were three people who ordered plates at different times, so there were always wings around to tempt. I think I blew my waist-line, I am going to have to watch that. All in all though I had a really good time. I am expecting the guy from the next lab over tomorrow to help with bottling beer. Should be fun.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wow, more snow

Woke up this morning to a crisp, clean, white world. It had snowed sometime last night. Enough to be a pain if I actually drove to work, but not enough to snowshoe in. I will have to arrange for a trip or three out to some more snowy areas if I am to get those snowshoes properly tested any time soon. In the meantime, I am able to get the YakTrax tested on this lower snow level. Haven't had much in the way of ice but they work fine on snow too. I have a hike planned with some others for Old Rag which seems to be the hike to do in this area. Actually when I looked more into the hike, it looks like it can be a little technical. I hope my knees are up for it and the weather is in our favour. I would hate to have to bail on what sounds like a great hike. Maybe then I will have a good chance to use the YakTrax on some good trail use, and not the smaller, flatter trails I have been encountering lately.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

How to make beer, pt 1

So I have had a few people inquiring lately into how beer is made so I thought this would be a good place to let others know too. As there are several basic ways to make beer I will cover each type in a seperate post.

The easiest and simplest way is to obtain a can of liquid malt, a large bucket, some sugar and a bunch of bottles. Mix everything together in the bucket, and add the beer yeast that was supplied with the can of malt. Loosely cover the bucket so air can escape but nothing can get in and let the thing ferment in a warm place for 1-2 weeks. Most fermenting buckets come with a small hole on the top for an airlock which allows for the bucket to be properly sealed while still allowing the air to escape. Let contamination means better beer. Once the fermentation is complete, the beer is moved to a bottling bucket, basically a bucket with a spigot on the bottom. The major reason to move the beer is that the yeast will form a sediment in the bottom of the bucket that you don't want to have end up in the bottles.

On to bottling. A little sugar is added to the beer and the beer is bottled. The small amount of yeast that end up in the bottles will start to ferment the sugar down and give off carbon dioxide. It is this by-product that will pressurize the beer in the bottle. This process takes about 2-4 weeks depending on temperature. The flavour will continue to develop as there is still yeast in the bottles so the longer you can hold out the better the beer will be. As there is still some yeast there will be a little sediment in the bottom of the bottles, in most cases this should not be consumed. I think the sediment is called trub and it may give a slightly off flavour to the beer. Best to leave it in the bottle.

The next step up is to use dry malt extract (a barley sugar), and hops. Stay tuned for part 2. I have been listening to Basic Brewing Radio and they have a great show that talks all about beer adn how to brew. The show covers the basics as well as going in depth for more experienced brewers. I have really been enjoying the show and learn new things all the time, definitely worth checking out if you are interested in brewing. They also have a video podcast feed that is worth watching too.

Labels: , ,

Catch and Release

The movie of the week was 'Catch and Release'. I had seen a preview for this movie and as with quite a few of the previews lately I was left with a fairly good idea of what the movie was about and where it seemed to be heading. For the most part the movie lived up to its preview with few twists and turns.

The movie revolves around a small group of friends who have just lost one of their member in an accident. The finance is left bereft and the friends are struggling to cope while helping her at the same time. Into the midst of this turmoil, the finance discovers that her husband-to-be had secrets that he never told her. She struggles to come to terms with those while learning more about each of his friends. While learning more about her fiance, she learns more about herself.

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Children of Men

Two movies in one weekend, not too bad. I was looking forward to seeing this movie awhile ago but got side tracked and arrived late at the theater. So given the chance, I jumped at seeing this movie. The previews looked very interesting and I was drawn in to find out what would happen. Although the assumption is that everything will turn out well in the end, I wanted to know how things would come together to turn out.

The movie is a what if of what the world would be like if humans lost the ability to reproduce. The year is 2027 and the last child was born 18 years ago. The world has given in to chaos while Britain tries to hold onto the last vestiges of humanity. In the midst of the chaos generated by this degradation of humanity, a woman becomes pregnant. The stuggle then becomes in getting the woman away from the chaos and onto the human project ship where she will have a safe haven for herself and her child. But she will need to hid her pregnancy, find travelling papers and over come the fear that the ship does not exist.

The movie did get off to a good start but through out the whole film I was left wondering why they did not explain the fertility issue. There really wasn't any alluding to the issue either. I felt that this detracted a little from the story line but not overly. It made for a plot hole to be argued over but the story line still preceeded forward in spite of this missing piece. There were a few points that if matched together make for a somewhat shaky explanation. They do a really good job of showing the chaos and violence that remains when there is nothing left to live for. I don't feel that the movie tried to answer the question of how would humanity survive if there is nothing left to live for, but rather how hard would you fight to preserve that spark of humanity.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 02, 2007

Car in shop again

So the car made another visit to the shop again. Dropped it off on wednesday and picked it up today. I actually will end up walking about 5 miles total, I walked the 2 to the shop then another 1 to work then I have to go back home then back to work to catch the shuttle to go out tonight. I tried to change the back breaks myself but realised that wasn't going to happen when I couldn't get the caliper pins out on my own. So down to the local shop and I found out that they pins had seized to the rotors and the rotors needed to be replaced at the same time. Luckily they were able to remove the pins in one piece and not cause another expense. Another large bill later, the car sounds much better and I can barely feel the vibration from the front breaks and their slightly bent rotor. Hopefully the car will behave for awhile. I will put in a fuel line filter in the spring along with an oil change.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

February already?

Where does the time go? I guess part of the time has disappeared into beer making but I really don't have much to do during the week and I assumed that time would start to move a little slower. It seems that it hasn't. There was writing group meeting tonight but I stayed late at work and opted to not go. Also the car was in the shop and I really didn't want to commute over as it was so cold out. I did make it one of the meetings and while the people were nice and I did know one of them, I really didn't get any work done. I think that I really need to read through what I have written so I can get a fresh interest in it again. I really want to finish the story, especially before I forget where I was going with it but also so I can say I did it. What is the point of saying I wrote a 50K word novel if I can't say I finished it. I will have to make the time and energy to go the next thursday and force myself to start reading and outlining what I already have to I can outline and finish an ending. I think I will also post the first chapter to my other blog, I will put a notice on this blog when that happens.