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Topics - SiameseMoose

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All Things Food / The Gastronomy Lab
« on: September 21, 2015, 12:34:30 AM »
We recently returned from a trip to Spain (actually, Catalonia and the Basque area, two places that don't want to be part of Spain). While in San Sebastian (or Donostia, in Basque) we had a private cooking class. After hitting the local farmer's market for ingredients, we went to one of the local "Gastronomy Labs". This was a really interesting place. In San Sebastian, a city of 110,000, there are 230-ish "Gastronomy Labs". These are private clubs devoted to cooking. The structure is similar to a member-owned country club, with an initiation fee (small, but I did not hear an exact amount), and then you buy into ownership. The place we visited (allegedly the most exclusive in town) had a 200 member limit.

I found the whole concept intriguing. The place is essentially a restaurant, with a professional chef, but members have access to the kitchen to do their own cooking if they want. You can have the chef do everything, including buying and preparing all the food. You could bring your own ingredients and have him cook it, you can bring your own stuff and you cook it, or you can have the chef do the shopping and you cook it. It's all the same price (monthly dues), except if the Lab buys the food. You can make a reservation and treat it like a restaurant, although you'll get what the chef chooses, unless you make a specific request ahead of time. The other stuff you consume with your meal (drinks, etc.) are extra, but it's on the honor system. You fill out a sheet listing what you had and leave it at the desk when you leave.

These Labs are extremely popular in San Sebastian, and all have waiting lists for membership (up to 20 years). Our guide told us that they haven't worked elsewhere in Spain. The concept is just too foreign, and the honor system of payment always breaks down.
Our class started with local chorizo (Spanish, not Mexican-style) fried in olive oil, then local Padron peppers, pickled and served with an anchovy and an olive. We then had "rice in seafood sauce", what you and I would call seafood paella, but the Basque don't use "that Spanish word", and insist theirs is not the same. We followed with "cod in sauce", the sauce being a local specialty of olive oil and parsley, plus some other spicing.

We finished with an apple brandy cream cake. Wow!

I think the whole concept of these Gastronomy Labs is incredibly cool. In a big, dense city where most of the apartments (and 90+% live in apartments) have tiny kitchens it makes a lot of sense, but I can see how the honor system wouldn't work in most places. The class was great, and we plan to try out some of what we learned in the very near future.

The Pub / What's your New Years Eve beer?
« on: January 01, 2015, 04:28:08 AM »
My wife and I shared a 2012 Firestone-Walker Parabola (12.5% barrel aged RIS), a Rodenbach Grand Cru, and an EKU 28. I think we're gonna ring in midnight with a Bells Old Ale.

Happy New Year!

General Homebrew Discussion / CO2 sets off CO detectors
« on: October 14, 2014, 12:05:44 AM »
Our carbon monoxide detector went off today. After much checking by the fire department the problem was traced to a leaking regulator on my CO2 tank. (It was on while carbonating a keg.) The regulator was leaking out the front, almost certainly due to a failed diaphragm. One of the fire fighters used to install soda systems, so he knew CO2 would set off the alarm, and recommended where to check the regulator. I didn't have a soap solution premade, but a Star San spray bottle worked quite well as a leak detector. Once I took the tank outside the monitor he had dropped quickly.

The firemen were professional, friendly, and extremely curious about the brewery. I have a red rye fermenting right now. It's a new recipe, but if it turns out OK I think I'll take a case down to the station to say thanks.

General Homebrew Discussion / I clogged my hop spider
« on: March 20, 2014, 03:36:49 PM »
Yesterday's brew session was going great, and I was transferring into the fermenter through my counterflow chiller when the flow stopped. My first thought was that it was done, but my gravity was right and I was short 2.5 gallons. I began to think I really screwed something up. I looked into the kettle, and sure enough there was no liquid left. It took a second glance to realize that the hop spider bag was massively swollen. The missing wort was all there! Apparently it didn't like the ounce of ground mustard seed I threw in at flame-out. I was able to recover the wort by lifting the bag and letting the wort out through the top of the bag, where the filtering effect wasn't clogged.

Hops, no problem, but apparently I have to rethink how I add ground spices.

The Pub / The Ides of March
« on: March 15, 2014, 01:40:06 PM »
I feel an uncontrollable desire to go out and get a Ceasar salad, and stab it 23 times with a knife.

The Pub / This month's free SF e-book
« on: February 02, 2012, 12:20:03 PM »
Phoenix Publishing makes one book available for free each month. This month it's "The Shape of Silence", by Stephen Leigh.

"First contact was never supposed to be like this.

A sudden rift appears in near-earth space, causing electronic components to permanently fail and cause total chaos. As Earth's fragile technological society disintegrates, no one can answer the obvious question: What is the rift, and who or what has created it?

A new generation comes to age attempting to answer these questions, and Taria Spears, an anthropologist, is selected as part of the crew on the exploratory ship Lightbringer. Lightbringer's mission is to investigate the worm-hole-like Rift and, if possible, to pass through it to find out what lies on the other side, and to seek some answers.

But what if all they find is an alien culture where sound, not sight is the primar
y sense?"

On the Phoenix website ( - when I try to post a hyperlink here using Chrome it doesn't work. Anyone know why?) scroll  down through the authors to find it, then click "Free EBook of the Month". The coupon code is 9991463.

The Pub / This months free e-book from Phoenix
« on: January 02, 2012, 01:30:32 PM »
I know some folks here are interested in SF. Phoenix Publishing puts out one free e-book each month. The month it's Georgia on My Mind and Other Places, by Charles Sheffield. The description from the website is:
 "Includes the NEBULA- & HUGO-winning title novelette.
A collection of some of the finest short stories penned by a master of hard science fiction, this anthology includes Charles Sheffield’s highly acclaimed novelette, Georgia On My Mind.
Georgia On My Mind won both the Hugo and Nebula when originally published in 1993. The accompanying stories were written by the author between 1987 and 1994
Get it here:
The code is 9991325.

Equipment and Software / Anyone built a stirrer for decoctions?
« on: November 25, 2011, 07:31:43 PM »
I just completed a decoction mash, and I'm tired of sitting next to a hot burner, stirring away for 20-30 minutes. Has anyone built a stirrer for this purpose? I have some ideas, but I thought I'd ask to see what else has been done before I reinvent the wheel.

Note: I do not want to restart the argument of whether decoctions are necessary. I believe they add something that can't be got in other ways, but I respect the position of people who feel otherwise. (No matter how pigheaded those positions might be.  ;D)

General Homebrew Discussion / Pictures of Homebrewers Set Ups
« on: September 27, 2011, 01:16:08 PM »
I will be doing a class for the LHBS on brewing all-grain. There is (or was) a site out there where a guy had collected hundreds of pictures of brewing equipment submitted by lots of brewers. I'd like to give that link to my class, but apparently I lost or did not bookmark the page. Does anyone know the page I'm referring to, and have an address for it?


General Homebrew Discussion / Is your boil-off volume reproducible?
« on: September 21, 2011, 10:01:50 PM »
I'm having a hard time predicting my boil-off volume. Two consecutive brews with the same boil time, and the first boiled off 2.5 gallons, but today was only 1.5 gallons. As far as I can tell, the only major difference between the two sessions was the humidity. Today I brewed in an on-and-off drizzle, so saturated humidity. The previous session was about 60% humidity. Today I even turned up the burner intensity because I saw that the boil off rate was low. I have to find a way to get a more repeatable figure. Any hints?

Charlie Bamforth's book, Beer is Proof God Loves Us: Reaching for the Soul of Beer and Brewing, normally $26, is free today (5/30) at the Amazon Kindle store. You don't need a Kindle to get it either. You can download a free Kindle app for your computer, phone, or nearly any device. The book is available at Kindle apps are at

This was free back in January, but I know some of you missed it. Who said there are no second chances?

The Pub / Hummingbirds are smart critters
« on: May 16, 2011, 11:17:35 PM »
During the summer we put a hummingbird feeder on a bracket by our back windows. Today I was working in the yard on a hillside about 40' from the house. A hummingbird swooped around my head, and came to a hover right in front of me. After staying there a few seconds, he flew down to the house, right next to the empty bracket. He turned around and looked a me for a few seconds, then flew away. Message received! The feeder is now in place for the summer.

General Homebrew Discussion / Do you give your beers a name?
« on: May 04, 2011, 06:32:56 PM »
I used to just call my beers by the style, my pale ale, my IPA, etc. But I have a number of styles where I brew more than one version, so I started to create names for them. Some of the names I have are near-impossible to explain to others (such as Fluffed, my Belgian-American IPA, or Squito, a Belgian wheat specialty), while some are derivations (plagarized :D) from commercial names (30 Minute Pale Ale). The impetus for this post was that I recently created two new names, and my wife doesn't like them, so I'm looking for other opinions.

I make several DIPA recipes. The most extreme is loaded with Simcoe, and someone who doesn't care for the style or Simcoe might call it a solvent. So its now Tattoo Remover. Along those same lines, I decided to call my American Barleywine Tattoo, since drinking strong stuff has led a few people down to the parlor.

I'm finding it easier to name strong beers. Cool names for normal strength beers don't seem to come to me so easily. One that I use is Sterling Gold, a Belgian pale ale (i.e. gold color) with all Sterling hops. Two others I like include Liquid Stoopid, a Belgian Barleywine, and Hertenval (Flemish for "Deer Valley" - I live on Deerhollow Ln), an Orval clone.

Finally, I have two that require quick explanations. During the "Great Hop Crisis of 2008", I was discussing DIPA hop schedules on a different board, and one guy kept slamming me for using so many hops in one beer. He felt that, in a time of such painful shortages, it was "unethical" of me to "hoard and waste" hops. Thus was borne the name, Unethical IPA.

My wife and I both grew up with Rocky and Bullwinkle. The Moose of my nom de plume Siamese Moose is a Siamese cat whose full name is Moose of Frostbite Falls. His brother (RIP) was Rocket J. Squirrel. Our two youngsters are Boris and Natasha. The creator of Rocky and Bullwinkle was Jay Ward. Every year on his birthday, Spetember 20th, I brew Hokey Smokes!, a specialty that changes from year to year. 2010 was his 90th, so the OG was 1.090.

Does anyone else out there name their beers? Got any names that you'd care to tell us about?

General Homebrew Discussion / I'm going to make a checklist...
« on: March 11, 2011, 11:50:17 AM »
...and it's only going to have one thing on it, and I'm going to print it out in poster size, to make sure all of my d@mn valves (mash tun, hot liquor tank, and brew kettle) are closed before starting. >:(

That is all.

All Grain Brewing / 109% Efficiency!
« on: November 29, 2010, 09:26:06 PM »
Beat that! ;D

OK, it means I almost certainly made an error in weighing out my grain. I just hope the error was in the base Pils malt, and not some astronomical error in the specialty malts. The beer is a Dubbel, and I knew before the boil that I was way over target gravity. I ended up diluting with an extra gallon pre-boil, and increasing my hops accordingly. Still, my target was 5 gallons at 1.069, and now I have 6 gallons at 1.073. I generally get pretty high efficiency, 85% or higher, but every now and again I get a batch near 100%, but never this high before. I just wish there were a way I could recheck my grain amounts. But I'm not complaining about extra beer!

(And just for the record, I am aware that it is possible to legitimately get greater than 100% efficiency. The highest I've ever heard of was the near 130% claim by DeKonick, in Antwerp. They grind their grain to powder, and use a high pressure filter to lauter. That's also why they have to filter the beer so much before it goes out the door.)

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