Sunday, July 24, 2011

Malted Barley

Fermentation is a simple formula.  Water + sugar + yeast = alcohol.  This is a process that humans discovered thousands of years ago.  Ancient Sumerians were brewing beer 4,000 years ago.  This isn't exactly rocket science.

Today I seek to recreate, with my knowledge (and occasionally a google search) the process of getting sugar the ancient Mesopotamian way and malting barley.  I know that the barleycorn is allowed to germinate slightly.  The embryo releases amylase which converts the starches within the seed to dextrose.  It is then dried out in order to kill the seedling before it begins to make chlorophyll.  Boom, starches in grains converted to sugar.

First, where to get barley?  The interwebs suggest feed stores, but there are none close bye.  Think cheap.  Gas is expensive.  Well, the local Wholefoods sells hulled barley.  I know some people on the webernets have said you can't malt hulled barley because the process strips the embryo from the seed.  Well, that's not true.


Boom, malted

The concept was clear to me.  Make the seeds think they were in the earth.  Trick them into thinking it was time to sprout.  The first attempt went poorly.  I soaked them in water.  I then strained them and dumped them in a big pot.  I left residue water.  Unfortunately, this was not correct as the seeds drowned and rotted.  The second attempt went better.  Soaking and straining.  I left them in the strainer.  They could dry, and then sprout.  And they did.

Still, it wasn't a total success.  They had feint smell of gym socks, which means they were contaminated.  I believe they, like their predecessors, soaked too long and some of the seeds died.  So I am starting anew, and soaking and straining and properly drying.  Soon they shall sprout and be ready for the next phase.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Forgotten classics: Low

Once upon a time a thrash metal band named Testament released an album called The Ritual.  I thought it was a good album but some people thought it was too midpaced, to polished, and was following too much in Metallica's footsteps.

Well I liked it anyways, but that isn't the point.  The point is that they followed it up with LowEmbedding disabled, WTF?  Don't they know how the internets work?

James Murphy (Death, Cancer, Obituary) on lead guitar, and Eric playing solos for the first time.  Strangely he only seems to do leads when James is around.  What the deal guy?  No leads on Demonic but step on Murphy's toes?

Anyways this was a summer soundtrack album for me many ages ago, and it seems to have fallen by the wayside.  I even remember an interview with the band where they talked about how the Ritual was too polished and all Alex's fault and they returned to form with Demonic (which I thought was boring and midpaced by the way) but totally gloss over Low. You may have forgotten about Low, but I have not.

Who is GGGarth?

James Murphy again plays with the band on what is possibly their finest moment, The Gathering:

I liked Formation of Damnation too, and the lyrics were a little better than your typical metal album as well.  In fact for some coincidence all three albums - Low, the Gathering, and Formation of Damnation - were classic summer jams.  Timing man.

So to recap Low was a great album that seems to be overlooked.  Look again, fools!  Return to a former state, and a haze of hormones and video games and longing and loathing and all the things that made high school.  If I only knew then what I know now...and I would still make this my summer jams.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cinematic masterpieces: Sea and sand

I'm not the biggest The Who fan around but I'm no hater either.  But the feelings from this video set to Sea and Sand are so powerful I'm ready to buy a fifth and knock up a high schooler and set fire to buildings.  So watch at your own risk!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

New band name

Attention gore death metal/grindcore bands, I found a new band name for you whilst reviewing Mrs. Booze's paperwork:  purulent vaginal discharge.

You're welcome.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Winners and Losers

Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you.  In life there are winners and losers.  Today's triumphant gladiator is tomorrow's disgraced pro-wrestler.  Such is life, and such is booze as well.  There are only so many drinkers in America, and while the number might increase gradually with demographics it is a slow churn.  So if there is a big shift somewhere in booze, it probably comes at the expense of somewhere else.

So it should be no surprise with the rise of craft beer, the vodka crazy, the whiskey renaissance, and the wine discovery that there are losers in this equation.

Beer shipments declined 2 percent in 2009 and 1 percent in 2010, the first consecutive-year slide since the mid-1990s. U.S. shipments are expected to be flat or slightly down in 2011. Another down year would mark the first three-year slide since the 1940s.

and not just Miller is suffering

No. 2 Budweiser has posted consecutive years of sales declines and accounted for 8.5 percent of sales for the year ended May 15. Coors Light made up 7.7 percent of sales over the same period. Beer Business Daily, however, reported last month that Coors Light is on the verge of surpassing Budweiser in sold cases this year to date.

So there are winners and there are losers.  In Wisconsin you can even find microbrew scumbag beer.


Yup, it's a micro.  Well sorta not really.  But still.

So if there are less reasons to drink big beer brands, what about the rise of these small batch whiskeys?  I present to you the most heritage of all reconstruction whiskeys:  George Washington rye.

Talk about a patriot and brewer.  Old GW was the nation's biggest distiller at one point.  But 90 bucks for unaged rye whiskey?  I can get Old Overholt (and put it in my old overcoat) for 15 bucks.  And it at least spent time in a barrel.  Besides, it isn't like they have GW's original still or anything.  Weird.  So if people spend their money on this, what booze are they not spending their money on now?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Land O' Metal

In Sweden they love and respect heavy metal so much that it can become a life altering addiction.  So much that a man in Sweden is getting sick benefits for his heavy metal addiction:

But his sessions with the occupational psychologists led to a solution of sorts: Tullgren signed a piece of paper on which his heavy metal lifestyle was classified as a disability, an assessment that entitles him to a wage supplement from the job centre.

Oh really? 

Tullgren currently plays bass and guitar in two rock bands and says that he tends to get a lot of positive reactions for daring to be himself.

"Some might say that I should grow up and learn to listen to other types of music but I can't. Heavy metal is my lifestyle," he said.

For serious my friends.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The regional whiskey train keeps rollin'

The regional whiskey rocket is taking off.  Blast off to booze city with the spirit of your own region.  Today's flavor of home is from Arkansas, where whiskey is being distilled for the first time since prohibition.

"Young" bourbon is a particularly accurate description since it was aged just three to six months. The distillers refer to their process as "accelerated maturation techniques that includes small barrels and temperature cycling."

"Bourbon has a great southern tradition," said Phil Brandon, distillery owner and head distiller, "and we wanted to make our bourbon from native Arkansas grains and age the whiskey in small barrels coopered in Arkansas. It's the first Arkansas bourbon."

There you go.  24 bucks for a fifth of whiskey aged only a few months in oak.  24 bucks for the novelty of whiskey from Arkansas.  Ehhh, maybe.  I appreciate the sentiment of this regional whiskey.  Maybe it will pan out in the end?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Booze enthroned triumphant

Good news on the booze front.  Fast food is going to start selling alcohol.  Take that, teetotalling scoundrels.  And as you know, Mr. Booze has been pioneering the art of mixing cheap food with cheap wine.  Now my army expands as snooth gets in on the review game.  I'm wondering which Wendy's menu item goes with Carlo Rossi's wine selections.  Anyone?

Monday, July 4, 2011


Recently I heeded the call for podcast suggestions by searching through my stash but I get bored with things very quickly.  So I can't really find much to recommend that is consistently entertaining.  I'd start by saying that there are two sorts of podcasts and they are very different.  For a while I wanted video podcasts because I had a phone with a big screen to watch them.  But they were largely disappointing two years ago.  I was hoping for something like this:

Goth Talk - The Beholder

Shinerod | Myspace Video

God I wanted to find something like this.  I didn't.  At least not on iTunes.  People take their podcasts way too seriously but they aren't amusing like this.  I guess that is youtube poop fair, but youtube is an inconvenient format for phones.

Why isn't this a podcast??  ZOMG the lols.

Of course youtube poop is full of duds too, people sitting in mom's basement droning on at the camera about stuff that is boring and unfunny.

The other category is audio podcasts.  This is much better for amusing yourself while commuting or working when you don't feel like listening to music.  I enjoy a few music podcasts as a way to supplement my intake of music that I only have a passing interest in.  For example I enjoy low light mixes because I'm not a huge fan of ambient electronic music but an hour of free music is a good deal and I have enjoyed a few of the mixes.

Still, I haven't found any audio podcasts that are like a good blog:  funny but not comedy oriented.  Witty without being boring or pretentious.  Clutter free.  A few of the NPR shows make good stand alone podcasts but I do find them to have a consistency problem.  They also don't go through the range of topics that interest me:  alcohol, poverty lifestyle, heavy metal, photography, Hemingway, weird classical music, college football, Glenn Danzig, and international political economy.

I'd also like to take this moment to criticize iTunes for having an incredibly shitty search function.  It is really cumbersome to try and search for free audio podcasts and to filter out topics like religion, or try to filter through a topic to find something that interests you (like Mormon apologetics).  Lo, iTunes sucks, and searches are usually fruitless and time consuming.  Compare that to youtube, where I found Goth Talk Jr in less than 1 minute.

To sum up podcasts I'd say they have so much untapped potential.  I don't just not listen to the radio, I actively hate the radio.  I hate radio programming and podcasts were a way to liberate audio content from the thumb of radio stations.  Plus the name podcast is great branding.  The DIY ethos of podcasts never produced much of quality, which is sad.  Thus I find them to be greatly disappointing, and there is a lot of content on the youtubes that should probably be produced into podcasts but I suspect that Steve Jobs' walled garden prevents that from happening.  Should I blame Jobs for the lack of a real life Goth Talk podcast?  I don't know.  But I do know that it is an underused format and while I like wasting time on the youtubes that won't help me on my commute or at the office and podcasts would.  So for now, so long poopcasts.


Let's face it America, our National Anthem is pretty crappy.  So I suggest we scrap the whole thing and replace it with a National Theme Song.

This will do nicely.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The raisin wine follies

Brace yourself.

No foolin'!  Yeah it went down like this.

I started brewing raisin wine.  I altered the recipe slightly from the original conception.  Only a half cup of rolled oats.  I used a lot of raisins.  I used too many raisins.  I spiced it with cinnamon and cloves.  I threw in some sugar.  Also some pectic enzyme and acid to help clarify and break things up.  Did I buy that stuff or inherit it from my roommate?  Maybe it will help break down some of the starches, but I doubt it.

I used the yeast from the old slurry.  Previously I saved the slurry in a jar in the fridge.  Care was taken to activate it before pitching just in case I screwed something up.  I've never reused a yeast cake in this way before.  I even used a bit of yeast food just in case, since I've never pitched yeast in this manner before.

In the morning no activity.  In the evening when I got home no activity; a little bubbling on top but no real action.  I suspected that the must ended up too thick.  This could spoil the whole batch.

After shaking it up a bit the activity grew more vigorous.  But I knew trying to ferment porridge would cause problems.  So action!

This can't end well, can it?

First, I freed up another container by racking the pineapple coconut wine into two smaller vessels, their final container.  Then I cleaned the old vessel and dumped over half the raisin porridge in and shook it up and dumped some back so that they were equal levels.  I then topped them both off with water which was allowed to sit and de-chlorinate.  I basically diluted the wine.  Now I have twice as much raisin wine fermenting.  One batch, having more of the bottom contents, is more viscous than the other and is consequently less vigorous in its fermentation.  But they are both brewing.

At this point I actually ran out of airlocks and had to MacGuyver some new ones with tape and some piping I found on the handle of Mrs Booze's purse.  I'm also out of carboys so no new batches from me.  Probably.  Though there was a slight sulfur smell greeting me this evening.  Oh noes, contamination!  Well hopefully not.  It was a very slight smell, especially considering there is twice as much brewing as usual.  It was awfully hot today and now that it has cooled off the smell seems to be gone.  Maybe.  I hope I don't have to dump all this hooch.

You know who has the heebie jeebies? My wine, bitches.