Beer Report

As regular readers of this blog know by now, I’ve been trying to broaden my tastes in the Queen of Holy Brews (coffee’s king, you know :-)), and to that end have been both sampling from a wide array of commercially-available micro-brews and experimenting a bit on my own (the molasses beer based on a Geo. Washingtom recipe was pretty good).

Well, last night, along with Son & Heir, I sampled the first batch of beer from my lil Mr. Beer mini-micro-brewery. I used one of their ingredient kits–the “California Pale Ale” mix–and he and I agreed wholeheartedly: Good Beer.

Now, this beer had a week-and-a-half in the fermentation keg and a full two weeks conditioning in the bottle before I refrigerated it.

Lovely deep golden color. Nice head. Good “hopsiness”. Clean taste. A little more body and just a tad more robust than Grolsh, but not a nicely bitter IPA. IOW, it was just about right to accompany last night’s turkey sandwiches and leftover Thanksgiving fixin’s.

Either tonight or tomorrow, I will start a batch of Wiezenbier (wheat beer) using a Mr. Beer mix. As I become more and more at ease with the process, I’d like to make some cider, some cherry wiezenbier and a few other niche flavors–perhaps an apricot cider/beer, who knows?

Oh, I used the “trub” from the molasses beer to make some whole wheat bread rolls the other day. Delish! The yeasts in the trub livened up nicely and though the bread was a tad heavy, that wasn’t all that bad; my whole wheat breads frequently are.

T-13, 1.49: Disney’s 12 Pains of Christmas… +1

As a part of my “avoid the news” week, I offer the following, “Disney’s 12 Pains of Christmas” (from the folks at JibJab), and to round it out to a full 13, I add one of my own “Pains of Christmas” at the foot of this post.

13. Christmas doesn’t last all year. Now, that’s a pain.

Noted at the Thursday Thirteen Hub and Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, The Virtuous Republic, Perri Nelson’s Website, Rosemary’s Thoughts, Adam’s Blog, Big Dog’s Weblog, The Amboy Times, Chuck Adkins, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, The World According to Carl, Pirate’s Cove, Blue Star Chronicles, The Pink Flamingo, High Desert Wanderer, Right Voices, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Avoiding the News

Wordsworth was onto something…

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

I’m somewhere in there with old Bill, so, apart from that which barges in my door rudely (yeh, I thought, “Rudy-ly” *heh*) demanding atention, I think I’ll mostly try to avoid the “news”–or what passes for news these days–for the next week or so.

Here’s some help: “tearing down” my office (to rebuild my desk, reorganize alla my junk, tear up flooring, etc.), so setting up a “new” computer where my Wonder Woman used to use her (now parted-out) desktop. Found an old 10GB disk with Windows 98SE on it (just thought: hope that wasn’t the one I had an iteration of Encore installed on… *hmmm* think not) I could pair up with a nearly as old 40GB disk. The 10GB disk will be for dual booting Ubuntu and PCBSD, while the 40GB disk will be for data generated while I have this computer (and all others) in pieces, packed away, etc.

Fun lil project. Especially when I realized I’d snaked the Cat5 cabling away from that location and need to run a temp line to set up the OSes (afterwards, I’ll use a wireless setup, but WILL need the comp connected in case drivers are lacking).

See? Just pick a project of your own and use it to distract yourself from the “news” for a few days. Betcha when you come back, nothing significant will have changed: Mass Media Podpeople and politicians *spit* will still be spinning the same old lies; the Saudis will still be free to spread jihad and call themselves our “friends; Jesus, Juan y Maria will still be crossing our borders in record numbers as the invasion continues unabated; Prisons for Kids will still be enstupiating the next generation of Americans, etc.

Take a break. Smell the coffee; savor the beer; play with the dog; mess with the cat’s mind (even money the cat messes with yours); talk with your spouse and children.

The world is too much with us.

Minor update: the PC-BSD 1.4.1 installation process is sooooo slick! Super easy, “power” options clearly presented, a true no-hassle install. Funny thing: on the same machine–an old 1.3 ghz box with notalotta memory–384MB–the latest Ubuntu would NOT install in a graphic install mode and took forever to install in text mode… then failed to load once “installed”. Strange. Likely some old hardware giving troubles. The PC-BSD 1.4.1 install was slicker than goose grease, though. Even asked up front what “optional” software (I chose Firefox, Opera and Open Office, among other apps) I wanted installed. Nice.–twc

mini-minor-update-to-update: well past my bedtime, now. Just been having fun discovering how very, very easy the improvements to PC-BSD make doing things in the OS. Heck, installing WINE is a snap with 1.4.1. And having Opera straight off the install (sure, I had to switch to CD #2 to get Open Office, Opera, etc., but so?) was really handy. Liking it. Heck, even KMail is better since the last time I looked at it. Easy, easy configuration to check/send via GMail–only account I set up on it–and at least as nice an interface as Outlook express or Thunderbird. Liking it.

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Honoring Heroes

hhhwebsitelogo.JPG is sponsoring “…pro-troop rallies and events in 40 cities across America for the next three weeks, and at each event we’ll collect signed Christmas, Hanukkah and holiday greeting cards that we’ll deliver to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan . We’re collecting over 100,000 cards in this effort – and given the current rate the cards have been coming in to our headquarters at Move America Forward we could well exceed that goal.


Folks, this is worth doing no matter what your views on the Iraq adventure may be. Those who have chosen to serve in the armed forces to protect and defend our country deserve our best in response to their high calling.

Get the word out, would you, and while you’re at it, if you can, go to one of the rallies too.

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Trackposted to The Virtuous Republic, Right Truth, The World According to Carl, The Pink Flamingo, Stuck On Stupid, Cao’s Blog, Big Dog’s Weblog, Chuck Adkins, Stageleft, and Adeline and Hazel, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Advent Warmup

(We interrupt the curmudgeonry of twc to bring this timely reminder.)

The Advent season “officially” begins next Sunday, but since the airways, highways, and “buyways” are filled with sights, sounds (*ka-ching!*) and smells of Christmas already (is it just me, or are Christmas trees for sale far, far too early?), here’s a short pre-Advent reminder of what Christmas is really about:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…. And the Word was made flesh and pitched his tent in with ours; and we saw His glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1

And, from Philippians 2, expanding on the story of the Advent:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So, while celebrating Christmas, remember: Christmas is prelude to Calvary, as Calvary is the movement Easter.

We now return you to the regularly scheduled curmudgeonry of twc.

Oh, make some time to drop by The Random Yak for some really early Christmas posting.

Thanksgiving Traditions

Well, a third world county central Thanksgiving tradition has struck again. Plumbing problems. Yep. We can almost count on plumbing problems striking around Thanksgiving (although the water heater died at a more convenient time of the year).

This time, it’s right where we needed plumbing problems most: the kitchen sink (yes, the one system everything in the kitchen drains through :-)). If I cannot locate a plumbing supply store where I can get the proper elements to replace the drain pipe tomorrow, then I must swing by WallyWorld (the one place I KNOW will be open), brave the crowds and pick up some chinet-type stuff.


At least it’s not a flood in the basement this year.

Oh, and this does remind me of things I can be grateful for:

No dishes to do! (Leftovers will be stored in the dishes they were cooked in–and yeh, I know I’ll not be able to get the plumbung parts I need tomorrow)

It’s not a flooded basement! (Yeah!)

I have the requisite skills and tools to do the job, and I’ll be off on Friday anyway (hey! And so will Bubba, so he can help out! Another Good Thing.)

See? It may not be all good, but what comes of it can be.


In Every Thing Give Thanks: T-13; 1.48

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I’m just a natural curmudgeon. Oh, many folks around here think of me as a jolly old elf (or whatever–my belly doesn’t shake like a bowl full of jelly, but I do–now–have a white beard and despite my curmudgeonly nature, I laugh a lot and manage to bring chuckles or even outright guffaws to no few folks), but I am a curmudgeon.

I see a glass with water and I don’t think of it as half full OR half empty. I just wonder which politician stole part of it and spit in the rest.

Trust but verify? Notachance. Look askance and test for validity (not so much a cynical outlook as a suspicious and skeptical one). Trust must be earned.

So, Thanksgiving is a two-edged sword for me. While I have much for which I am thankful, I look every gift horse in the mouth (What? Accept a gift horse and then be responsible for its care if it turns out to be unhealthy?); I look for the hidden strings, the catches, the gotchas in everything.

But, “In every thing give thanks…” ?


I admire folks with a simple faith(fulness). Those who can honestly look at each and every situation in life and be thankful–to God–for where they are, who they are, what is going on in their lives. Such people embody the concept the Apostle Paul spoke of elsewhere:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)


“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?” (Romans 8:24)

Hope? Gee, that’s a tough one, sometimes.

Brown Bannister answered the problem of being thankful in difficult situations this way, about thirty years ago,

When you’re up against a struggle
That shatters all your dreams
And your hope has been cruelly crushed
By Satan’s manifesting scheme
And you feel the urge within you
To submit to earthly fears
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in, seem to disappear

Praise the Lord
He can work with those who praise Him ,
Praise the Lord
For our God inhabits praise,
Praise the Lord
For the chains that seem to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise him

Others –many others–through the years have offered their answer to the problem of being thankful even in difficult times.

Babbie Mason,

All things work for our good though sometimes we don’t see how they could.
Struggles that break our hearts in two sometimes blind us to the truth.
Our Father knows what best for us; His ways are not our own. So when your pathway grows dim and you just don’t see him remember you’re never alone.

God is too wise to be mistaken;
God is to good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand,
When you don’t his plan,
When you can’t trace his hand,
Trust his heart.

Empty platitudes? From folks whose difficult times have been circumscribed by the cocooned, cushy lives of modern Western society?

Yeh, maybeso.

But how about this guy?

During the years of 1618-1648, Europe and especially Germany where plunged into a 30 year religious war. It was during these years that Martin Rinkart was pastor of a Lutheran church in Eilenburg, Germany. Famine and deadly diseases raged throughout the land. In 1637 Rinkart buried 4480 persons who had died of an epidemic sweeping through his city. One of the persons was his dear wife. When he writes, “guide us when perplexed,“ he is not talking about minor inconveniences. The population of Germany was reduced from 16 million to 6 million during these years. Yet, Rinkart was a faithful and caring pastor, tending to the sick and hungry. Through the grief and bloodshed he looked to his Savior, and was able to thank God for the many blessings he still had.

And what expression of Rinkert’s heart, what response to those years of affliction do we still have as witness of his thankfulness in difficult times? This:

Now thank we all our God With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, In whom His world rejoices,
Who, from our mother’s arms, Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God thro’ all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns with them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God, whom earth and heav’n adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

And others could offer the same sort of witness.

Kind of sets my petty gripes and such into perspective doesn’t it?

So, with “so great a cloud of witnesses” set before me, I offer my poor list of gratitude, beginning with things I might usually overlook being thankful for:

Taxes. Being taxed unfairly, irresponsibly, illegitimately by nearly all levels of government means I have the wherewithall to be taxed.

Politicians. There but for the grace of God… *heh* And they do serve as very good bad examples for folks to learn how NOT to live their lives, eh?

Academia Nut Fruitcakes. Almost a perfect example of the nearly overwhelming physical abundance of our society. A society that can afford to support such useless creatures is rich indeed!

Mass Media Podpeople. Ditto both comments above.

Slander, lies, attacks against the truth at every opportunity. All proof that there are some decent people, else why would their attackers need to resort to lies to attack them, and there is truth, else why would evil people fear it so much?

Illegal aliens: finally a simple litmus test for whether or not our political leaders are decent, honest, even remotely ethical or possessed of the ability to see truth or the stones to act on truth.

Islam. Yep. What better way to drive folks to the Church than to let them know more and more about this cult of hate and to seriously and honestly compare and contrast the truth about Islam and its hatemongering “prophet” as opposed to the Person and work of the Christ?

Too much in the way of material possessions. Yes, too much. It’s an exercise of will (a will that needs exercise to avoid flabbiness) to throw out, give away, just flat get rid of stuff we have too much of, don’t need, etc. What a blessing to need that exercise of will!

Music: not the manufactured crap the RIAA seems determined to use in an attempt to destroy our society (although I often manage to manufacture my own good from even the worst drek “music”). No, there is still great music that uplifts, harmonizes man and nature and more. Unfortunately, most of it was written (and/or performed) by people long passed away, but we have it as their legacy.

A world of wonder: almost unlimited knowledge at my fingertips; healthful foods; a plethora of clothing to choose from; a house that puts any I grew up in to shame; the beauty of the Ozarks right outside my door–all these and more.

Parents: still living, in their eighties, health failing; ties that bind.

Children: better people than I am.

My Wonder Woman. One of the greatest miracles of my life is that I approach this Thanksgiving season nearing the celebration of 29 years of her longsuffering love.

Repeating myself once again from last Thanksgiving,

Look deeply at the things you are thankful for. SOMEONE other than yourself alone is due thanks for the blessings of possessions and health, family and friends–and it ain’t you, cos no matter what lies our society tells you, neither you nor anyone else (and certainly not I) deserve all the blessings y’all have. Oh, maybe you “deserve” some, but never all.

So WHO do you say “Thank you” to?

Let me take a leap here: to the God who makes all these things blessings–the easily seen as good and the obvious trials–Thank You.

1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all you lands!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;[a]
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.–Psalm 100

Noted at the Thursday Thirteen Hub and Trackposted to Perri Nelson’s Website, Rosemary’s Thoughts, The World According to Carl, Pirate’s Cove, Stuck On Stupid, The Pink Flamingo, Big Dog’s Weblog, Chuck Adkins, Wolf Pangloss, Dumb Ox Daily News, Adeline and Hazel, and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Make your own micro-mini-brewery and a batch of George Washington’s “small beer”

Well, sorta George Washinton’s molasses small beer. Adapted from Making Homemade Wine and Beer’s recipe.

Make a mini-microbrewery and brew George Washington’s Molasses “Small Beer”

I have a Mr Beer mini-brewery keg that I like. It works pretty well with or without the ingredient kits. If not using a kit sized for it, simple arithmetic allows conversion of recipes for larger batch mini-brew setups (typically sized for 5 gallon carboys or plastic buckets).

But, when I had a brew started in my commercially made rig and wanted to try making a molasses “small beer” recipe (mostly based on one George Washington used), I just didn’t want to wait another week to get it started, so…

I made another “keg” of about the same size using:

1 plastic “kitty litter” bucket. (three cats; you do the math on how many of these things I have laying around…)
1 plastic water spigot–the kind you would avoid putting in outside for your water hoses/sprinklers, whatever (because it’s cheezy and easily broken) but which is better than brass for a brew setup.
1-male/female threaded coupler to fit the spigot–and a rubber “hose washer”
1-male/female threaded 1/2″ PVC coupler
1-male threaded/female Unthreaded 1/2″ PVC pipe coupler
2-1.5″ sections of 1/2″ PVC pipe
1-1/2″ PVC “trap”

(The last four pieces are used in constructing the airlock for the keg/bucket fernemnter.)

I cleaned the kitty litter bucket very, very well with dish soap and water, then rinsed it and filled it with clean water with 1/2 cup chlorine bleach (yes, I soaked the lid in the bleach water for a few minutes before putting it on the bucket). I let that soak over night.

Traced the size of the water spigot end and the male/female threaded couplers in their respective places—the spigot about 1″ above the bottom edge of the bucket and the male end of the coupler (to the airlock) traced in the center of the snap-on lid to the

Placed all the plumbing parts in the bleach water to soak.

When the bucket and parts had soaked overnight, I discarded most of the bleach water (reserving about a gallon for cleanup after finishing construction), rinsed them and laid everything out on clean paper towels.

Next, using a razor knife, I cut the holed on the inside of the traced lines and threaded the male threaded/female UNthreaded 1/2″ PVC pipe coupler coupler for the airlock into the hole on the lid and secured it with the male/female threaded 1/2″ PVC coupler on the inside of the lid.

Then, I threaded the hose washer onto the water spigot and the water spigot into the hole 1″ above the bottom of the bucket. I then secured that with the pipe coupler that fit its threaded piece.

Next, I rinsed the rest of the plumbing pieces yet again in bleach water, then clean water and assembled the airlock as per the graphic.

I then filled the bucket with the remaining bleach water, topped it off, shook the water around and then drained all that would drain through the spigot, dumping the rest from the top. Followed that with a thorough rinsing with plain water. Placed the top back on.

Here’s a pic of the final product:

It’s easier to just show it than to describe the process. *heh*

(Since the pic above–and a batch of the brew below–I have made the airlock more airtight by the addition of some white Gorilla Glueâ„¢ between the top on top) and the exterior fitting, as well as a rubber washer inside.)

Now, George Washington’s Molasses “Small Beer” as adapted for this setup:

Makes about 3 gallons

  • – 20 ounces of molasses (that’s 2.5 cups)
  • – two ounces of mild hops (or make it like George did, without the hops!)
  • – one ounce cream of tartar
  • – zest from one lemon
  • – 1/2 teaspoon ale yeast (you can make a “starter” from some yeast saved from the dregs of some bottle carbonated beers, or saved from the trub of a previous brew OR even use bakers’ yeast in a pinch. Won’t taste quite right, but it will work… sorta. I’m told. :-))
  • – 1/2 teaspoon ginger (presumably ground)
  • – 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

SANITIZE all utensils and equipment using a dilute bleach solution. Rinse well with clean water (bleach kills yeast, so do rinse well!).

Bring about a 1-1.5 gallons of water to a boil, add the molasses, hops and lemon peel and boil the mix for an hour.

Add the cream of tartar, ginger and ground cloves for the last 15 minutes of the boil.

Meanwhile, start your yeast in a cup or so of warm (NOT HOT!! UP TO 100F) water and maybe a teaspoon of molasses or cane sugar. Just about body temperature or a little less will be a good temp.

Strain the boiled mix (the wort) into the brew bucket (fermenter). Well, actually, those are copied from the recipe I adapted this from. I let all the fixin’s go into the fermenter. We’ll see how that goes. Strained it when bottling, but just the last little bit to avoid too much trub entering the bottles.

Add clean water (good, not too heavily chlorinated tap water or bottled “spring water”–NOT distilled!) to cool the wort to about 70 F and bring the water level up to about 3 gallons. Then check your yeast starter for signs of life and then GENTLY stir in the yeast, using a sanitized plastic spoon.

Place just enough clean water in the airlock to form… an airlock, of course. 🙂

Let the brew “cook” away in a location that stays about 70 F for at least a week or until the airlock doesn’t bubble at all. (You probably should check the airlock for water level daily. Mine stopped showing signs of fermentation after THREE DAYS!)

When bottling, prime by saving some of the wort (about a quart) and re-mixing with the fermented brew when it is bottled OR add about a teaspoon of cane sugar for each 16 ounce bottle (about 3/4 teaspoonful for a 12-ounce bottle). Add the sugar to the bottle, then gently pour the fermented brew into the bottle–down the blttles’ necks to avoid any unecessary aeration–to about an inch below the top of the bottle andcap it. Gently swirl the sugar/brew mix until the sugar’s dissolved. DO NOT SHAKE VIGOROUSLY. You do not want to aerate the beer at this point. Trust me.

Bottle condition the beer for at least one week in a dark place with a constant temperature of about 70F. (Well, after writing this, I

For a more traditional “beer” flavor, you can try varying this recipe a bit. Here’s one variation that doesn’t even require a trip to a brew shop for most folks–just a trip to your pantry.

  • 1C Malt-o-Meal cereal (I separated the cup into four batches and placed the 1/4C portions in coffee filters tied off with zip ties)
  • 1C pearled barley

Boil the Malt-o-Meal and pearled barley in the 1.5 gallons of water for an hour and then strain them out (you can combine the stuff and eat it for a hot ceral right away, if you want *heh*), then add the other ingredients and boil for another hour. Sure, it adds an hour to the
prep and Malt-o-Meal and pearled barley aren’t the same as malted barley/wheat you can mash for “real” beer, but it does add back in some of the flavor/texture of those traditional beer ingredients. Or at least I think so. 🙂

[Update: gave the molasses beer in the Grolsch swingtop bottles more time to bottle condition. Much better head and flavor; the additional carbonation and time for flavor conditioning was a Very Good Thing. Taste much improved. Note to self: drink more Grolsch (for the bottles, of course *heh*). Definitely will give a bit more bottle conditioning to the next batch. ]

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Going Green

Just saw a commercial for a Honda fuel cell-powered electric car. Big selling point? Supposedly its only exhaust is water vapor.

Of course, that ellides over the production of the hydrogen for the fuel cell (what are the power needs to accomplish that) or the rest of the process.

And, of course, water vapor is the most prevalent greenhouse gas already and currently accounts for around 66% of the greenhouse gas warming effect…


(But then, without the greenhouse effect, we’d all be living on a ball of ice.)

Catch phrases and cute invocations of global alarmist memes: Madison Avenue “science” for the mass man.

Light Week

This week will feature even lighter blogging at twc than most in recent times. Family, scurrying about doing “holiday” stuff, etc., on top of a normal schedule. So, if you will, please provide me (and those who drop by) with a reading list of your posts. Thanks.

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