Thursday, November 22, 2007

of Flying and Brewing

At the top of this page, it says something about Alan and I wanting to find some interesting aeroplanes and beers. This post is to prove we're on the right track :-)

First up, some flying. It was Kingsbury Fly-in last weekend, at which we were looking forward to seeing some interesting vintage aircraft, both resident and visiting. Unfortunately the weather was decidedly iffy first thing and the clouds remained dull and overcast all day. However they did stay relatively high up which meant that flying could proceed, but visitor numbers were down nonetheless.

There's a nice chap with a Great Lakes who had promised me a flight in exchange for some pictures, so here's me in the front seat, about to enjoy half an hour of cruising over the Texas countryside with a couple of wingovers thrown in for good measure. We flew to Lockhart for some fuel and general adventure, then back to Kingsbury.

Once back on the ground, I was then bundled into a Cub with the intention of doing some air-to-air shots of a Rearwin Sportster. It was decided that I'd have much better camera range if I sat sideways, so here's me in a very unorthodox flying position!:

Yes, that is how we flew, with my legs dangling out. Cubs only go about 60 mph so it's just like driving my Jeep with the top down. (I do tend to stay inside the Jeep though) Click here to see the results.

So that was a fun day :-)

Right, I promised you brewing earlier so here we go. Alan has been making lots of tasty brews right here at home and yesterday saw the latest batch being created.

We start with a visit to Austin Homebrew Supply to buy a mini-mash kit. This consists of a big tub of malt extract, a bag of grain and some yeast and hops. The exact recipe will depend on the beer style that you're brewing but the actual brew is done in a big metal pot. You boil water with the grain in for an hour or so, then remove the grain and pour in the malt extract, then boil it for another hour or so, adding hops at various intervals as required.
Here's the brew pot assembly with the grain bag in place:

Note the attendant giant grasshopper just below the gas bottle. We had a group of these hanging around and watching us brew. They seem to like watching things happen; we went out later on and they'd all gone when we came back - obviously bored and gone to find something else to look at ;-) Here's a closer view:

The quarter next to it for scale is slightly bigger than a UK 10p, for our British readers.

Anyway, back to brewing. Once the boiling is done, you cool the wort (in the sink, with ice in water that you dunk the whole pot into) until it is down to 80F. Then you pour the whole lot into the brewing vessel. We use a 5-gallon plastic bucket. You attempt to measure the original gravity with a hygrometer. The one we brewed yesterday was a strong'un though and had way too many bubbles so too bad! Now we throw in the yeast (two phials this time, it's a doozer, this one - usually one phial is sufficient) and put the lid onto the bucket. The lid has an airlock to allow CO2 gas to escape. Stick it in the cupboard and wait for a day. By then you should see lots of bubbles rising through the airlock and then your beer is on the way!

After a week, the beer is siphoned into a secondary brewing vessel. In our case this is a plastic carboy bottle. It then sits for another couple of weeks.

Then it's time for kegging the beer! We use a keg rather than bottling it; much less hassle. In true Blue Peter tradition, here's one we prepared earlier (the blue topped cylinder; the smaller one is a CO2 cylinder):

This is one we just started drinking, that Alan made three weeks back. It's an IPA and is the best one Alan's done yet. Very nice it is! We decided to carbonate it naturally this time with extra sugar (the other way is to force-carbonate with the CO2) and it's worked very well.

And look, there's a few other bottles of tasty malt beverage in there too. How did they get in there, I wonder?

Cheers :-)

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