Well, it’s been a while so I suppose I should scribble something down on this here scribblenet.
We’re having somewhat of an odd start to the summer. It’s been cloudy and rainy for the last week, with temps hardly getting out of the 60’s. I’m actually quite enjoying the fact that the summer heat is taking it’s time in getting here as I can still go outside and get the mail without breaking into a spontaneous sweat. I am however slightly concerned that when it does come its going to be really angry and twice as mean to my pastey-white Scottishness, just because spring took a bit more time in leaving!
Tomorrow may be the start of a new period of our lives. Although, in reality, every day could be considered as such. We are going to go and look at an Airstream trailer (see link) as a possible sleeping situation for us for the next…. well until we get tired of living in a tin can. We are moving to Davis, CA in a couple of months and are planning on moving onto a piece of land that will allow us to raise some sheep and chickens, and whatever else we happen to feel like. We have a couple of options right now, one of them being a little house on an Alpaca ranch, the owners of which are happy for us to use some of the space to start our business. We are also looking at a couple of leasing options in and around the Davis area. Some of which have housing attached and others do not, hence the Airstream.
We have made the decision that we need to start moving in the direction we want to be going in as far as farming goes or else we could find ourselves in perpetual toe-dip territory. It’s funny how we tackle different aspects of our life. I tend to jump head first into whatever I’m doing in life and Lex is more cautious and takes more time to ponder the possibilities. On the other hand, when faced with a large body of cold water, Lex is the one who goes in without even a cursory toe-dip, and I shiver on the bank occasionally going in to my ankles, until I either pluck up the courage to jump in or give up and go back to the beer. In regards to our future and our dreams of farming, we are both hovering on the edge and testing the water. I think that over the coming months and years we will be wading in at a rate that allows us to get used to each depth and temperature before completely ducking our heads in gallons of sheep and chicken poo.
In other news; the pause in brewing brought on by the lack a suitable summer fermenting cellar has ended as I have managed to procure a corner of my Mother-in-Law’s basement which, as my thermometer tells me, stays at an amicable 67 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the entire sweaty debacle. Last week my brother-in-law/brewing partner received his three-tiered, gravity-fed, all-grain, rolls-royce, ding-dong, hob-nob, brand spanking new brewing system. It’s cool. Made for just under $500 by the guy at the home-brew store it involves two stainless steel 6.5 gallon kettles, a 10 gallon plastic mash/Lauter tun, 2 propane burners and enough welded steel to make even Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor squeal like a girl. I’m highly envious. We did give it a test run last weekend and by golly did we make some beer. We made what we are calling a “Leftover Amber” which is an American Amber style beer but using the same ridiculous hop schedule that we used for our “Leftover IPA”. That brew came about when we realised that over the past year or so we had accumulated a large amount of various kinds of hops left over from all the brews that require wierd or uneven amounts. So, instead of integrating them slowly into our brews we thought we’d just blow the entire lot and sculpt a beer with enough hops to end the hop shortage in the entire state. We based it loosely on a Double IPA recipe in Sam Calagione’s (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery) book Extreme Brewing just to get an idea of how to even start putting that much hops in a beer.
It turned out, after weeks of dry-hop additions and some extreme patience (one of the hardest things involved in brewing is waiting. Even though you know that it’ll be a much better beer in a week, or even two, quite often by the time it gets to its peak, someone’s drunk most of it in “testers”), that it was probably the best beer we’ve ever made and apart from some pointers from the book of crazy brews it was mostly an original, and a one-off. Or so we thought……..
In musical news; we held our first house concert last week involving a one-man lineup of me and my guitar. Lex thought it would be a good idea for me to play some of my most recent songs to a constructively critical audience before choosing one to submit to a local songwriting competition. After failing to bore the pants off all but one of the attendees I was quite impressed by the feedback I got and, as the song choice was almost unanimous in declaring a nominee, it turned out to be a worthwhile event. Well, again we’ll see after I submit to the competition. If it doesn’t do well then I can always blame it on the poor choice of song by my panel of overnight folk song experts!