It’s been a hectic couple of weeks/months at The Disco aka Anti-Hero Brewery aka my house. The holidays are naturally hectic, but overall they’re a positive. That positive didn’t really include much brewing for me. And despite my resolutions, I’ve fallen way behind the 8-ball on a bunch of them already.
After the holidays my work really started picking up. I got tapped to manage an internal project and it is my first real managerial experience. Spoiler Alert: I’m not very good at it. That’s not “woe-is-me” it’s just an honest assessment, and believe me I’ve got plenty of blame I’m willing to unload on other people but for now let’s just say it is what it is and move on. Part of picking up this work meant a two-week trip to the UK.
When I tell people I travel for work they get all excited or envious. They shouldn’t. Travelling work is all of the hassle of a vacation with none of the perks. Of the 11 days I spent in England, I got 2 off. One I spent sight-seeing (and over-paying for a tour bus) and the other I spent with a buddy (and that was actually a good time). But I ended up sacrificing 3 weeks (the first was lost to travel and the third to jet lag) to work 12 hours days, ride the London Underground and sleep in a hotel with a very stiff bed. Wow, I sound like a spoiled brat… the point was: I didn’t have any time to brew.
To bring all this home, for Christmas my youngest brother bought me a false bottom (*snickers*) for my mash tun. I haven’t had the chance to use it until I decided to brew today. Unfortunately, as I found out today, the false bottom’s connection hose didn’t fit my ball valve (*more snickering*). So I had to make a trip to Lowes’ and jury-rig up a quick fix. The quick fix, naturally leaked.
The whole brew day was pretty much a disaster. I missed my sacc. rest temperature, my sparge got stuck (first time for me), it took forever to get a boil going, and I ended up with only about 3.5 gallons of what was supposed to yield 5.5 gallons. Yup, somewhere along the way I managed to lose 2 gallons of beer. Everyone talks about the potential money-saving implications of homebrewing… those only occur when you don’t massively fuck up your process. Because when you do, you’re out $50-70 and a whole weekend day.
My gear is a mess, too. Next weekend I’m dedicating some time to taking inventory of all my brew gear, organizing it, fixing my mash-tun/false bottom, and then upgrading a much of my equipment. I definitely need a new brew kettle (one that doesn’t condensate like crazy) and some new vinyl tubing (that isn’t cloudy and stained). This might also be the kick in the pants that gets me out of the kitchen and into brewing on my propane burner that I bought and have yet to use.
But what was a bad day for brewing became just an overall bad day for beer. I went to the Craft Beer Cellar in Braintree (this is my local, and I highly recommend it to anyone on the South Shore), and they had a tasting from Westfield River Brewing out of Westfield, MA. They had a couple of brews, all decent, and a milk stout I enjoyed. I grabbed 2 cans on the milk stout, and after cleaning up my brew gear and my kitchen (leaky equipment leaves a messy kitchen) I was jonesing for a nice beer.
Well either something went wrong with the beer, their canning line, or my glassware because the milk stout tasted like soap. Soapy taste is usually from the glassware, but I haven’t had an issue with mine before so I’m guessing this was just a bad can. Sigh. Some days you just can’t win. I had to dump the beer, which sucks because 1. I obviously hate wasting beer and 2. the beer I had at the tasting was really good so that makes pouring out what should be a good beer even worse.
Just all in all a bad day for beer.