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Messages - skyler

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Beer Travel / Re: Westvleteren 12 and other belgian beers
« on: December 04, 2009, 05:33:26 PM »
I've been thinking heavily on taking this trip.  What was the overall costs with lodging and everything.  Also, what language was spoken at most of the places.  I want to learn the necessary conversational Dutch or French before I go so I can get around and have a good time.

I have lived in France and been to Belgium and the Netherlands several times. In my experience, every Belgian and Dutch person I have ever met who was born after 1950 has been fluent or near-fluent in English. There is no reason to learn even one Dutch word. French is somewhat necessary in France, but I still say if you aren't damn good at French, you're better off not speaking any, except the phrase, "I cannot speak French, can you speak English?" For some reason, French people can't understand French when people speak it with foreign accents. I even remember translating a Swiss-German guy's French for some French people. His French knowledge and grammar was MUCH better than mine, but his accent was thick, so they couldn't understand a single word he said.

Beer Travel / Where to go in Amsterdam, Belgium, and Cologne?
« on: December 04, 2009, 03:31:17 PM »
The GF and I are heading to Europe (her first time leaving North America) in 11 days! :D

Our itinerary:

Dec 15-17 Amsterdam, Netherlands
Dec 17-20 Leuven, Belgium
Dec 20-22 Cologne, Germany
Dec 22 Brussels, Belgium
Dec 23-27 Bruges, Belgium
Dec 27-29 Amsterdam, Netherlands

And we're making the trip to Westvleteren to stop by St. Sixtus Monastery if I manage to make a reservation despite the time zone issue, as well as my not knowing ahead of time what my license plate number will be.

I would like to know thoughts on some nice Kolsch brewpubs and Amsterdam breweries/beer bars. Though I have been to each of these cities (besides Leuven and Westvleteren), I would appreciate any other beercentric (or perhaps coffeeshop-centric) advice my fellow homebrewers can offer.

Oh, and I am planning on stopping in Antwerp on my way back to Amsrterdam from Bruges just for a quick stop at Kulminator for a couple vintage ales.

I just brewed my first lager, an Oktoberfest. However, my hydrometer broke, so I am not sure if what I have will be an Oktoberfest or a Vienna Lager. I've been getting 80-83% efficiency the last 5 brews (I should add that my past 5-10 brews have produced far, far better beer than my previous 2+ years of brewing, thanks in no small part to this and other forums), so I built a recipe that would be an Oktoberfest from 78-84% and would be a Vienna Lager from 70-78... whatever it is, I just hope it's delicious. I put a lot of effort into this one, even customizing my water to be similar to Munich water. Also, I ended up with almost 9 gal of sweet wort, so I did a 110 min boil to get the volume down to 5.5 gal. I didn't notice any activity this morning, but the fermometer reads that the carboy is at 48F. in about 10 days when I transfer, I will be lagering this beside last month's altbier and probably taking a 2-month break from brewing.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Carbonation Problems
« on: December 02, 2009, 05:05:02 PM »
This is why I stopped bottling most beers. Sometimes carbonation just takes a long time. And sometimes a beer will overcarbonate, even when you do everything "right." I had a beer not carbonate for 4-5 months, then get over-carbonated almost immediately after.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: How many carboys do you own?
« on: December 02, 2009, 04:55:20 PM »
2 buckets (well, two I use for fermenting, anyway)
1 6.5 gal glass
2 5 gal glass
2 5 gal better bottles

Equipment and Software / Re: Draining the boil kettle....
« on: December 01, 2009, 08:45:33 PM »
I used something like this recently with my pellet hops (, but I just throw the whole hops straight in - and I use a bazooka screen. I don't know how much hop utilization I got from this, though, and wont know for months, as the altbier I did this with will not be consumed for some time.

Equipment and Software / Giant Tea Ball instead of Hop Bag?
« on: November 30, 2009, 10:47:40 PM »
I used a giant stainless steel tea ball (I think it's made for infusing spices into soups and mulled wine) to contain a couple ounces of tettnanger I used for bittering my Altbier last batch... it's still fermenting, so I don't know if the results were goof... but before I try it again, I was wondering if anyone has had bad experiences using something like this in lieu of a hop bag. Normally I use nothing to contain my hops, but when I brew with really large quantities of pellet hops, I need something to keep the hops from clogging my system.

The Pub / Re: What do you like besides homebrew
« on: November 30, 2009, 10:53:47 AM »
I read comic books, travel, and I have two cats. Before I was in law school (in my last year right now), I used to also used to travel a lot more frequently, and read about 10-15 novels a year in addition to the comic books. Hopefully I can get back to that after I pass the bar (well, after I pass both the CA and NY bar exams).

General Homebrew Discussion / The Blurred Lines Between Styles
« on: November 25, 2009, 12:19:19 PM »
A lot of my favorite beers fit neatly into several BJCP style categories. Many of the hoppy amber ales from California, for example, may fit better in the "American Pale Ale" category than "American Amber Ale" and many more Pale Ales could be considered IPA's as well. Cross-national style categories are of particular interest to me. If an American brewer produces something which closely resembles a Dusseldorf Altbier, he may well call it an "American Amber" or something like that.

In tasting an IPA that I recently made with only summit hops, I was considering this sliding style scale. I meant for the beer to be an American-hopped ESB, but the efficiency was higher than planned (I got a 15% jump in efficiency when my LHBS got a new mill), so I increased the hopping a bit to put it into English IPA territory. What I am tasting now is so clearly an American Pale Ale to my tastebuds. On paper the IBUs (50) are too high, but the low co-humulone of the summits have led me to consider this a more malt/hop balanced beer than an IPA, particularly given the yeast used (S-04) and the fermentation temperature (72F) lent considerable fruitiness.

So what is an English IPA, really? I don't even know if the style needs to exist. Most beers called IPA in Britain are just bitters with more hops. I never once saw an IPA in Britain that was over 6% abv, that's for sure. Near as I can tell, an English IPA, according to BJCP is just an American pale ale with English hops and malt. Given how many American breweries use English yeast as their house strain, that's how I see it, anyway.  

Do other people have the same difficulty I do with determining what to call a beer? Do certain differentiations just seem like they don't need to be there? I feel like IPA should be one category and American Amber Ale doesn't need to exist since Altbier, APA, and ESB tend to encompass the style well enough. And there should be a "Golden Ale" option in lieu of "Blonde Ale" to account for Cream Ales, Blonde Ales, and the British equivalents.

Ok, my 2¢.

The Pub / Re: Lets get to know each other!
« on: November 21, 2009, 05:43:56 PM »
Hey Skyler, do you know more of Persian cooking?

I can make really good kashk eh bademjoon (fried eggplant with tangy yogurt sauce), and I know how to make kebab, but that's about it. Khoreshes (Persian stews), which are the highest culinary art in Persian cuisine, are very time-consuming and I have never attempted to make any.

The Pub / Re: Who is a famous person that you've had a beer with?
« on: November 21, 2009, 12:38:16 PM »
He was drining a Heineken, but I was too young to drink: Keith Richards. I was 14 and on vacation in NYC. We saw the play, "Amadeus" and Keith Richards was sitting 2 rows ahead of us. I talked to him a little bit at intermission. A little kid asked him for an autograph and he signed it, "Mozart."

The Pub / Re: The United States is Being Scrapped.
« on: November 21, 2009, 12:36:25 PM »
Oh no! You don't keep your poop in little jars in the basement, do you?

I heard that Marlon Brando kept poo in jars.

The Pub / Re: Bourbon, Whiskey or Rye?
« on: November 21, 2009, 12:33:04 PM »
Nothing is better consumed neat than a good bourbon. But, I have found I much prefer Rye in cocktails (Manhattan, Sazerac) and mixed with Coke (Rye and Coke is great).

I don't think my booze palate is refined enough to enjoy Scotch, nor is my wallet wide enough to experiment with good ones. I don't understand Irish whiskeys. Personally, I consider them the pilsners of the whiskey world - they are the benchmark and the most widely consumed, but I just don't really appreciate them.

The Pub / Re: Lets get to know each other!
« on: November 21, 2009, 12:25:10 PM »
That's me and swmbo. We're at a cool, but overpriced beer bar in Portland called the Green Dragon (now owned by Rogue).

Further information about me: I'm half-Persian, which might make me the only middle-eastern person on this forum (the most common Persian fermented beverage is salty carbonated yogurt  ???). I grew up in the easy bay area (near Oakland and Berkeley) and I am in my third and final year of law school in Portland, OR. I plan on moving back to the bay area in June, and maybe New York after that (taking both the NY and CA bar exams). I have spent considerable time in Europe, both traveling and studying abroad. I spent 7 months in Nice, France; 4 months in London; 3 months in Siena, Italy; and 3 months in Santander, Spain. I have been to Europe 14 times and hope to some day move there permanently (perhaps doing estate planning work for an American expatriate community).

My favorite beers are Dubbels, Tripels, Big Dark Belgians, and English/American pale ales and IPA's - particularly those on the darker side of the style. I tend to brew a lot of just about every style of ale (SWMBO loves dark English ales), making about every fourth batch an "experiment" of some kind.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: German Ale Yeast 1007
« on: November 20, 2009, 04:41:51 PM »
I decided to call my Drifter-inspired pale ale Hobo Pale Ale. This will be my first time brewing with Nelson Sauvin and my first time using Optic malt. German yeast, English and Belgian malt, Kiwi and American hops - this beer is going to be all over the place.

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