Archive for February, 2011

First Batch of Beer

For Christmas, I asked for a beer brewing kit, and brewed my first batch in January. It’s just about finished off now and I’m ready to start batch two soon, but I took photos of the fun and simple process.

I chose a simple (and cheaper, in case I screwed it up) Scottish Ale kit for my first batch. Here you see all the ingredients aside from the five gallons of water. Canned and powdered malt make up most of the homebrew. All those grains get steeped like tea. Hops for balance, sugar for carbonating the bottles, and most importantly the animal that makes all liquid and solid bread happen, a packet of yeast.

Five gallons of water need to boil for an hour. I killed two birds with one stone and saved some money, getting a turkey fryer kit instead of an expensive kettle heating slowly on the stove. The 20-degree temperatures outside were no match for the propane burner…in fact it heated so quickly I had to cut the flame to give the grain enough time to steep before burning it.

The two feet of snow were also convenient when it came to cool the wort down to room temperature. Actually even banking the snow around the pot, it still took over an hour. I’ll use a proper chiller next time. The wort was then siphoned into the fermenter with airlock on top, and left to ferment for a week. Unfortunately the room was a bit on the cold side and I only got one day of bubbling even after adding extra yeast, and from that point on I was worried I wouldn’t have beer.

With fermenting (long) over, next was bottling. A bit of work here, cleaning and sanitizing all bottles and equipment. The filling was pretty painless though with the simple siphoning and bottle-filling gadgets included in the brewing kit.

Another week or two for bottle conditioning and carbonation, and the beer was ready to drink. And to my surprise, it was good! Specific gravity measurements put it around only 3% ABV, but that was only slightly less than the target 3.5. In other words, my first beer was light in alcohol and body, but definitely not in taste or color, with a full smokey malt flavor. I really enjoyed the process, and the sense of accomplishment of a caveman inventing fire, and look forward to making more interesting brews in the future. Cheers!

Posted from Medford, Massachusetts, United States.

Frozen Charles

I had to stop to take a photo of the Boston skyline while driving on Memorial Dr. today.

2010 iPhoneography

Halfway through 2010 I upgraded from an iPhone 3G with a non-focusing low-quality camera that most apps would not support, to an iPhone 4 with a much more impressive camera. I quickly started downloading various photography apps, starting with the popular Hipstamatic. If you’ve done the same you know how easy it is to create artistic photos of everyday life. So every once in a while I would snap a photo of something interesting, and use various apps to transform it to a style I often envisioned when first taking the photo. The list of apps would build as time went on, sometimes I couldn’t remember which I used by the time I felt done with an image.

My iPhone now has three folders crammed with photo apps, including Hipstamatic, Pro HDR, Camera+, SlowShutter, Panorama 360 for shooting; Iris Photo Suite, Photomatix, BlurFX, TiltShiftGen for editing. But the fun is really in the vintage-styling apps like Infinicam, Lo-Mob, PictureShow, Pic Grunger, and more.

So click for a slideshow containing the photos from 2010 that I thought were post-worthy. On a side note, this new gallery format uses HTML5 and supports swiping on the iPhone and iPad. You will be seeing more of this in 2011.