Richard P Grant and his BioLOG (biolog); the wee blog, weblog, or web blog; things not necessarily biology related. The anti-blogger.


28 November 2007

Second hand blogs

News from France

So, what’s new?

Filed under: stuff — rpg @ 9:53

27 November 2007

One bourbon, one scotch, one blog – Part V

Note to self: Preparing another batch of homebrew while you have friends round to taste previous batches is not one of your better plans.

On Saturday I stuck the wheat back into the oven and turned the temperature up to about 50°C for a couple of hours with the fan on full. Then we went out and left it to cool. Final moisture content was around 5%, perhaps a little high but I didn’t want to push it any further.

And then the fun began. I spent an hour milling the grain with a spice mill

5 kg milled malt

and then soaked it in warm water (52°C) for an hour or so — ‘mashing’. Next it was into various pans to bring the temperature up to 68 – 70 °C for the mashing out (meant to be half an hour, but with the aforementioned friends around I think the best we can do is ‘indeterminate’):


Finally I added Tettnang hops to the big pan and boiled for half an hour, before straining the whole lot into a fermenting barrel, stirring in some dextrose and making the volume up to 23 l with cold water. The mash volume was rather less than I was expecting; I think next time I should squeeze out what I can from the malted wheat and then sparge it with hot water for a second extraction. My starting specific gravity was only 1040 with the dextrose added, so a little low (i.e. the brew is too dilute).

Sunday morning I was a little concerned to find that fermentation had started (small fizzy bubbles at the surface) but when I added the yeast it went completely mental (‘vigorous’) and today (Tuesday), fermentation is about finished, with SG = 1005. So by the time I’ve added priming sugar to the bottles, we’re looking at 4.5 – 5 % ABV, which isn’t too shabby.

Filed under: beer — Tags: , , , , , — rpg @ 10:18

24 November 2007

One bourbon, one scotch, one blog – Part IV

The sun hasn’t shone in Sydney for two days. So the drying has been slow.

But last night I put the whole lot in the oven, and left it on as low as it would go, with the door wedged open half an inch and the fan on low. This morning we’re down to 5.6 kg, which equates to 12% moisture.

If I were roasting barley I’d now bump up to about 65°C, but apparently I’m not supposed to do that with wheat. I have to have a cup of tea and consider whether I want to push it all the way, make any of it darker, or just go mash.

Filed under: beer — rpg @ 8:52

21 November 2007

Sign of the blogs

This sign has been annoying me ever since we moved here. It took a few weeks to actually realize what was wrong, and another eighteen months to photograph it.


Filed under: fools (!gladly) — Tags: , — rpg @ 6:00

20 November 2007

One bourbon, one scotch, one blog – Part III

Two days later, this is germination:

Germinated wheat

And here’s how I’m going to dry it:


Next stage is to incubate at around 40°C for 24 hours, to drive off the moisture and make crystal malt. The inside of the kettle reached 52°C this afternoon, which is a little bit warm, but rain is forecast tomorrow and I’ll leave the vents open.

The trick is to dry the grain, not to cook it (which kills the enzymes). Even if it does get that hot, I’m not too worried because the actual mash step (when the maltase converts the starch to sugar) is supposed to be at around 55°C, and the grains already taste sweet. This means that even now the malt has a fair sugar content. If it wasn’t forecast to rain, and if I wasn’t worried about rats and possums (spit. Bastards) I’d just leave the lid off to sun-dry them.

Filed under: beer — Tags: , , — rpg @ 20:34

18 November 2007

One bourbon, one scotch, one blog – Part II

As promised, here is the ferment-o-cam.
This is what the top of 5 kg soaked wheat looks like


And here it is ready for germination


Filed under: beer — Tags: , , , — rpg @ 22:21

My funny blog

Gmail has a sense of humour:

how to cook spam

Filed under: meta — Tags: , — rpg @ 13:00

17 November 2007

One bourbon, one scotch, one blog

Mash into 6 qts. water at 127° F, then allow 45-minute protein rest at 122° F. Raise the temperature to 151° F and maintain for 90 minutes. Mash out at 167° F and sparge with 6 qts. 170° F water. Add hops and boil for 90 minutes. Cool to room temperature, aerate, and pitch yeast. 

As those of you who have have been paying attention will know, we’re brewing our own beer. But tonight, I’ve gone hardcore, and am attempting to make a wheat beer by malting my own grain.

For various reasons we have (‘had’, now) a half-hundredweight sack of wheat. I have taken 5 kg (= approximately 2 lb per gallon for a 23 litre barrel. I know, I know), washed it to remove the chaff, and will now soak it overnight. Then I’ll perform some magic and malt it. Then I’ll make beer.

Watch this space. . .

Filed under: beer — Tags: — rpg @ 22:10

15 November 2007

Set the controls for the heart of the sun

Via CK, from the I want one of those for Christmas department:

In my formative years I used to read a lot of science fiction. This ranged from the classic (Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke) through the outrageous (E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith) to the execrable (Heinlein). Somewhere in the midst of all that I came across a single book by a forgotten author, number two in a four part series I think, that actually attempted to be a little more realistic.

Yes, I know; ‘realistic’ and ‘science fiction’ in the same paragraph. Bear with me.

The thing that I remember most about the book was the description of space warfare. In a thinly-veiled dig at Star Wars one of the characters talked about the impossibility of aeronautical manoeuvering in the airless void and the equally unlikely practicalities of light and ‘plasma’ weapons with which entire generations are familiar. Opposing fleets would, instead, use atomic-tipped missiles fired at each other across vast distances, making space combat a somewhat — ha ha — hit and miss affair.

But this cove had equipped his spaceships with railguns that fired pound-sized lumps of metal at some prodigious rate into the path of the enemy fleet. Which, on encountering thousands of these small but very fast projectiles, was colandered (not having the advantage of something so dubious as shielding technology.)

And of course, the Aurorans in Escape Velocity have rail guns too. The Auroran’s weapon is a slow, clumsy affair, not as cool as my mind’s eye version of them: Massed banks of the things firing scatter shot across a vast volume of space.

So a little bit of me is pleased to see that the US Navy is taking delivery of a 32 megajoule experimental railgun.Apparently it draws 3 million amps per shot, which to me seems a small price to pay for delivering a payload two hundred miles. . . at Mach 8.

My plan, therefore, is to lobby the NSW government to build that bloody nuclear station, in my garden, and construct a hundred railguns. That would result in withering fire of six hundred rounds per minute, which might not be in the same class as a Gatling gun, but boy, it would make the bastards who speed down our road at 3 in the morning think twice.

14 November 2007

Fake plastic blogs

My current cow-orkers:

Filed under: work — Tags: , — rpg @ 10:00
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