Wine – the 2nd Stage

Mar 06 2012 Published by under Brewing

“The older I get, the more I really don’t give a fuck about work politics” – Me (Sometime over the past few weeks)

Anyway. There’s a post bubbling around my head on that, but it’s not ready to come out yet.

A little bit more detail on my first attempt at wine making. It’s actually a tonne of fun to do. MBH thinks I’m far too messy when initially mixing it, and then siphoning it off. But in my view if people used to stomp on a tonne of grapes in bare feet and basically just used barrels and bathtubs in days gone by … well I’m not that messy. It’s only when you start on a project like this do you really appreciate how much more equipment you’re missing :) I had to mix it initially in a Carboy/DemiJohn whose neck is no more than four inches in diameter.

“Bugger” I thought – would have been a good time to have a funnel, and I can’t believe we didn’t already have a funnel! Luckily I did this on a Saturday so my caffeine intake had been a lot lower than a weekday. So my hands weren’t too shaky. Then I had to top off the Demijohn to 4.5L – argh should have at least put graduations on the outside to tell me where 4.5L was! No worries, finger in the air, tongue stuck out and I think it was near enough. THEN it came time to activate the yeast. A quick peer at the instructions and it required water between 40 and 47 degrees in temperature. Awesome time to have a thermometer? Shame I didn’t. That was tricky as too hot and the yeast would die, too cold and nothing would happen.

I used one proverbial finger in the air and one in the water to ‘scientifically’ guesstimate….

Amazingly enough when the fermentation lock was put on and it had sat for five minutes – tonnes of fermentation activity and plenty of lovely ‘Blooping’ from it. So I ran around the room a little bit shouting “It’s Alive!!!” to noone in particular – actual noone as MBH was away for the weekend.

Seven days and a lot of temperature monitoring later it was time to siphon it off to secondary fermentation. The only thing I had was a silly sized 22L barrel which came with the initial kit. It didn’t come up to more than three inches off the bottom when I siphoned wine into it. A little bit of research and you/re not supposed to have too much air around the wine at this stage. But there was a lot of bloody air in that container. So after two days of fretting it went back into the newly cleaned demijohn and I ordered two more demijohns from the supplier.

It’s not doing a lot right now. No bubbling. It’s just sitting there. I was a little worried about it at first but some quick research and it’s fine (apparently). It’s going to sit there for another ten days and then it get’s siphoned off again and I have to do a lot of ‘degassing’.

I really need to find a good home brew forum.

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So full of promise

Dec 22 2011 Published by under Brewing

Take a look at that will you? That is the start of my World dominating micro-brewing strategy. As with everything I’m approaching this exercise with a little bit of confidence (ahem!).
 
Home brewing has been a bit of a tradition in my Family. Both my Father and Grandfather were keen brewers. With different levels of success of course.
 
My Father favoured brewing Ale and always had a keg on the go. He did try Wine and I think gave some liqueurs a shot. With varying degrees of success. His wine quickly got a reputation for being particularly good at making you lose the feeling in your legs. Whether that was a good or bad reputation varied with the people drinking it.
 
My Grandfather was more of an enthusiastic if not accomplished home brewer. This was a man whose philosophy was that alcohol cured many ills and if it didn’t, well it would dull the pain and make you forget for a bit. Had he been born a century earlier I’ve no doubt he’d be hawking some miracle cure – that had a strong alcoholic base. He didn’t have the patience to wait as long as you should for the brewing process to complete. His brews tended towards cloudy, in some cases bitty and I have no doubt were not great for teeth enamel.
 
Taking that fine historical pedigree on board, it’s time for me to start experimenting with home brewing. Going against that pedigree I’m aiming for a tasty beverage. I’m not aiming for potency or speed – it’s got to be yummy dammit!  I’m starting off with a red wine kit just to see how it goes. I have to find the right place in the apartment for this that has a steady temperature. Although I’m approaching this with confidence there’s a bit of realism in there. It may not turn out perfect the first time.
 
After a couple of go’s with the kits, my plan is to build up to raw ingredients.  And one of the things I really want to take a shot at brewing is Mead. It must be 25 years since I did any kind of brewing. It was Ginger Ale I remember. Brewed, bottled and stacked it under the stairs and just had to wait for a week or so before testing it out. About three days into the waiting period my Father, Uncle and myself were stood by the stairs, chatting, when the corks started exploding out of the bottles. I remember thinking “Well that’s bloody disappointing” as we all threw ourselves to the floor to avoid being taken out by corks. I think there were a couple of bottles that didn’t explode. They tasted bloody awful. I see you can buy fizzy alcoholic Ginger Ale in the shops now – I was doing that all those bloody years ago. If only I’d used champagne cages :)

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Talking about the Apocolypse

Dec 21 2011 Published by under Opinion,Personal

Well this isn’t at all scary: 
 

It was probably the most important research on flu in years, but most people won’t be allowed to read it all. As New Scientist revealed in September, researchers at the University of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, created a mutated H5N1 bird flu that could go pandemic – and would be lethal to half its victims.

 
Thanks to Contagion I now know what an R0 value means (yay…). That was an okay sort of movie if you like to feel utterly depressed. I had to cheer myself up by pretending to sneeze on MBH and looking at the reaction on her face (Sick sense of humour) (Ha! Didn’t intend that Pun at all). 
 
Back in the day I took a semester course in Human Toxicology. Well it seemed interesting and my degrees have absolutely nothing to do with my current profession – utterly stellar at career planning me… 
 
Anyway, it was fascinating and utterly horrifying at the same time. The Professor was an awesome guy who was also a WHO and UN advisor so this guy knew what he was talking about. Apart from the feeling of doom, all I remember from the course was learning to create Compound summaries – or whatever they were called. Basically for any compound you had to create a summary which gave every little piece of information you needed and all on one side of A4. I’m very good at summarising things now – so it’s true that you can always get some skill from an obscure course. 
 
I’m utterly convinced that Pandemics are a significant threat. Ease of travelling and overabundant use of antibiotics are just two of the factors that would contribute to a problem I reckon, 
 
“I have a cold and feel bad Doctor” 
“Here have a VERY STRONG ANTIBIOTIC and go away” 
 
What can we do about it? Not a whole lot. But there are people who work tirelessly on it. This was a good talk given by Dr Larry Brilliant when accepting the TED Prize in 2006. This is also a very interesting talk by Seth Berkly on advances in Vaccine development. 
 

Bioterrorism experts in the US immediately questioned whether the method for making such a plague should be published. Now the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity has recommended that the “general conclusions be published, but that the manuscripts not include the methodological and other details that could enable replication of the experiments by those who would seek to do harm”

 
Wow, that’s surprising. Not like our American friends to overreact to a perceived threat – alway’s seemed such a level headed bunch…COUGH 
 
Anyway! Stifling research isn’t the answer. The key to combating any potential pandemics is time and a quick understanding. Having some Homeland Security bunch hiding information is not what I’d call helpful. 
 
I would have loved to have taken Biology and Chemistry, but my ‘Career Advisor’ back in my school days (who was also my woodwork teacher…yeahhh…) said because of my other subject choices I had to take Physics. I feckin hated Physics. Had a knack for Chemistry and Biology but Physics just left me a dry husk – didn’t care at all. Our Physics teacher also subscribed to the ‘Copy pages 101-123 and be quiet’ education framework. Bloody useless.

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My Higgs-Boson analogy for todays announcement

Dec 13 2011 Published by under Linkage

So apparently there was a big announcement related to the search for the Higgs-Boson particle. I think an anology would be a little like the below. Next up I’m trying out an analogy for Unified Field Theory – or maybe not.
 

So I’m trying to discover where my iPhone is (lost it). I have a strong suspicion that it’s in the Living Room. It’s on vibrate so it’s no good just calling it. I’ve searched half the Living Room while ringing the phone and I couldn’t hear it. When in the area of the sofa though, I got a hint of a buzzing sound so I strongly believe that the iPhone is located there. More details to follow!

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