Thursday, September 24, 2009


I'm no expert on British ales, but I can't think of any American versions that recreate a fundamental character shared by beers like Fuller's ESB, Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout and Old Peculier. Oxidation of the British beers is definitely a contributing factor, but it doesn't tell the whole story. Thanks to Ron Pattinson, who shares his research of European brewery logs online, I've learned that a lot of British beers are made with inverted sugar at various stages of refinement. In one of today's posts, he calls out American brewers for applying an all-malt philosophy to British beer recipes.

Not knowing where to buy British brewing sugars, I've been using Belgian Dark Candi Syrup as an alternative. So far, the results have been promising. My latest Old Ale was a step in the right direction, and I brewed a mild last week that I'm pretty excited about. Unfortunately, I won't have anything to compare the mild with because British session beers are too fragile to sell in the states. Maybe I'll be able to visit England in ten years or so, when I've recovered from the financial trauma of trying to open a brewery.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Brewing with Food

My first attempt at brewing with cherries - a 5-gallon batch of cherry porter - was slightly disappointing. Here's what I did:

-Fermented the base beer for four days.
-Mixed 10 lbs of cherries with enough water to cover the fruit.
-Mashed the cherries with a giant perforated spoon.
-Pasteurized the mixture at 140 degf for 5 minutes.
-Cooled the fruit and added it to the beer.
-Fermented the beer for another ten days.
-Transferred the beer into a keg, leaving the cherries behind.

The finished beer wasn't bad, but the cherry contribution was pathetic. It should come as no surprise that the spent cherries were largely whole when I removed them from the fermenter. Next time, I'll either need to mash the cherries before adding water - both so they don't "swim" away from the spoon and so I can watch my progress - or let the beer age on them for months.

The next beer I brewed was a Belgian "Pumpkin" Ale. Spiced beers require fresh spices, so I bought new cinnamon and ginger the previous day. As a firm believer that pumpkin doesn't contribute any flavor to beer, I used butternut squash instead (credit for the idea goes to Mike Ball, a gifted Madison-area homebrewer). Butternut squash is a joy to work with: just cut it into cross-sections, cut off the peels, grate the meat with a cheese grater and add it to the mash. No seeds, no guts, no hassle. I chose not to roast the squash because I don't think it accomplishes anything. The beer is still fermenting, so the final outcome is unknown.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Electronic Filing

To the Securities and Exchange Commission:

-If your software is only compatible with Internet Explorer and Netscape, your electronic filing system shouldn't be mandatory.
-If you require duplicate paper files with notarized signatures, your electronic filing system shouldn't be mandatory.
-If you accept faxes and uploaded PDFs but not emailed PDFs, your electronic filing system shouldn't be mandatory.
-If your software doesn't recognize file paths on Macs, your electronic filing system shouldn't be mandatory.
-If your tech support person says "this happened yesterday" but doesn't even pretend to care about knowing how to fix it, your electronic filing system shouldn't be mandatory.
-If your signature page doesn't contain space for a notary's information... well, that doesn't really have anything to do with electronic filing.

Hopefully Jane will be able to upload the required file from her PC.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Work/Life Balance

I take care of Mia, my 3-month old daughter, on Mondays. Today, while holding her on my shoulder after a feeding, I had a phone conversation with a banker. It went something like this:

Banker: Thanks for calling me back. Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to...
Banker: give you a loan due to your equity...
Banker: situation and the...
Dog: lick, lick, lick, etc.
Banker: state of the economy.

Thanks for telling the banker what I was really thinking, Mia.

Swimming in Money

Well, not really. We did receive some funding last week, though. The city's Community Development Authority approved our application for a facade design assistance grant. Once we renovate the building, the city will give us some money to offset the costs of designing the facade (50% of the design cost or $5,000, whichever is less). We also deposited our first investor check*. Woooo!

*I need to submit a Form D to the Securities and Exchange Commission this week.

Monday, September 7, 2009

That Time of Year

Rachel and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on Saturday. After a great dinner at Sardine, we drank our 4th bottle of anniversary beer while the baby slept. Once again, the beer had improved after a year of aging. The fruit flavor had subsided to the point that it tasted like part of the ester profile, and the color looked more like a beer than a wine. Our first glasses were remarkably clear, but our second servings were hazy with yeast. Operator error!