Steaming Pile Update: May 16, 2012

Since I got my internet working again, I’ve had problems with my keyboard on my iPad, where I do all my blogging now.  I also had that post destroyed by a WordPress app crash, so I’m working on a new workflow that would at least preserve my writing and avoid such stresses.  I’ve discovered that the WordPress app is notoriously unreliable. I’ve heard good things about Blogsy but need to set aside some time to learn how to use it.  That, of course, leads to more delays and fewer posts. Sorry.

Some quick updates:

* Goodbyes

I’ve said before and I’ll say it many many more times: one of the worst parts of this job is the departures of friends. We all serve 2 or sometimes 3 year tours and friends are coming and going. We spend a lot of time together here with real friendships. In the last week 4 of the people I spent most of my time with have gone with 3 more to go in the next month or so.  Almost my entire social circle will be gone by the time I leave for summer R&R. I know I’ll meet new great people but it is nevertheless a bit demoralizing to say goodbye to people that if you lived in the same city you’d be friends forever with but due to the nature of this job you likely will never meet again.

Just gotta be grateful for the time and memories we had.  I’ve been a little low energy and lethargic lately and I think this emotional toll is partly to blame.  Need to be more active. Did groove out on the bass a bit last night and recorded a track that was fun to do, which helped.

* Beer is bottled!

The first two batches, the American Pale Ale and the English Brown, are in bottles and mini-kegs.  The APA came out at least 5 points light in gravity which means its a lower alcohol content than designed. I’m not so concerned about the alcohol per se, but I’m bothered by questions about what went wrong. I think I may have had the temperature in the room a little low. The yeast may have been weak too, after spending so long on the shelf before I started brewing.

I didn’t measure the original gravity on the Brown so I don’t know where I’m at on it.  I did hit the prescribed final gravity. Both beers tasted thin, both in body and flavor, but there’s still a lot to come during carbonation.

I also tried using a Party Pig, a mini-keg system that uses a nifty chemical pouch system to maintain pressure inside the 2.5 gallon bottle. It sits on its side on a little stand with legs and really does look like a pig.  I have high expectations. 2 more weeks for both batches before we start drinking.

I have one batch that would be ready to bottle this weekend but I need to rack it to secondary and add more hops into the fermenter, a technique called “dry hopping”.  I was supposed to do it last weekend but was distracted by everything else.  I’ll make that transfer and brew another batch today.

I oddly seem to have misplaced a bag of bottle caps from my first kit.  Not a problem in any way but just infuriating because I try to be disciplined about keeping things organized and my house simply isn’t that convoluted: things should be easy to find.

* Dramacats

A friend of mine had to go back to the US for a few weeks for additional training and I’m watching her catwhile she is gone. The Eminent Cat wasn’t too fond of the Eminent Intruder at first and would hiss and run away.  The Intruder wasn’t too keen on being left alone in a strange place either and spent the first couple days hiding under the couch.  But over the last week, huge strides have been made. The Eminent Cat is still a bit of bully and will still hiss from time to time (especially if the Intruder is in the bedroom). She chases him around a bit and I’ve seen her bat at him, but never with claws and never any biting or outright fighting.  The chasing is more playful than aggressive (although I’m not sure that the Intruder sees it as playful as much as intimidation). He is a skittish cat by nature and doesn’t seem too intimidated by her though. She was sniffing his tail this morning and wasn’t hissing, so we may have passed a threshold. I’d like to think they’ll bond enough that when she goes to his house this summer when I’m on leave things go well.


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