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Summer Synopsis 2012

What have I been up to lately? I know I said in my beer page bio that I was done with blogging. I also know that all three of my readers knew as well as I did how long that phase had the potential to last. But until humanity has cleaned up its act and I see random people helping other people on the street; people waving at each other on the highway – not riding each other’s asses; people in flooded, hurricane-hit towns helping with the cleanup and not looting… Once all that starts happening, I may run out of things to talk about. As long as human beings are a hive of scum and villainy, I will blast about it on the web. Not sure what motivated me to use a Star Trek quote there, but it is fitting, and there you have it. And there’s your opening paragraph.

Anyway, yes, I have been making beer. I brew two to three batches of beer per month. Let me explain this to those of you who don’t already know. If you do know all about homebrewing, then feel free to skip ahead a few paragraphs. I had a buddy of mine swing by the other night to hang out and catch up, have a few beers, the usual. And I happened to be turning out a batch of beer. So he says, “When will it be ready?” and I replied, “Oh, about four weeks or so.” So he says, “Really. I thought we’d be drinking it tonight.” This is just plain ignorance. Not stupidity. Most people are just completely in the dark when it comes to making beer, having never been told. So here’s my very brief rundown of what happens:

You bring some water to a boil and toss in some hops, which gives the brew its bitter bite. How bitter it ends up being depends on how much and of what strain (or strains) of hops you add. Then you add fermentable sugars. You can add any sugar that is fermentable: barley, wheat, honey, dextrose, oats, corn, or any number of other things. They all contain fermentable sugars. After boiling for about an hour, the last ten minutes of which you can add more hops for aroma and flavor, you turn the flame off and let your wort cool. You pitch some yeast into it, cover it up and let it sit in the dark. After two weeks, you have beer. This is all that’s necessary. However, these days we like carbonation. So you put it in bottles with a pinch of dextrose in each bottle. Then you cap the bottles (or the keg, if you’re kegging it.) Over the course of the next ten to fourteen days, this pinch of sugar primes your beer. There’s your carbonation. Pretty simple.

Now that you know how beer is made, you can see that I’m not being lush when I say I brew two to three batches per month. Each five-gallon batch yields about two cases of beer, which lasts me quite a long time. I have a pretty good stash of beer in the closet, ready to be cooled for drinking. In many different styles. I have my IPA, my wit, my American Brown and a porter. The stock is always rotating, too. It’s fun to brew your own beer, and about half the price of buying it in the store.

In other fronts, the summer is finally rolling to a close. The kids are back in school. The weather is starting to get nice. The flowers are finally starting to get enough water. I love this time of year. Especially living on the lake. People are throwing parties all around the lake, burning great piles of wood. A couple of weeks ago, in fact, we took our canoe out and rowed across the lake after dark, towards a bonfire on the other shore. They had a live band playing in their backyard. Well, I say backyard – no one on the lake has a fence. So it’s all just wide open. So we got up there and watched the band while the ladies danced and we had a few beers. Then we all sat around the bonfire playing guitars and singing songs. Everyone on the lake also owns golf carts. This is how they get home after the party. They drive across the grass to their house a few hundred yards away.

Another of our couple friends has decided to join the party and move into our neighborhood. There’s a house for sale right down the road from us, and so they jumped on it. A mutual friend couple (I’ve thought long and hard about how to say that, and there’s just no real way) has also said they’re interested in joining the fray and to keep a lookout for open houses on the street. Is this empire building?

Coming into the fall season, we start planning our camping trips and road trips. Soon, we’ll be rolling out to West Texas to visit the observatories, and do a few brewery tours with our friends. There’s also a great little place where be streets lined with antique shops and old-timey markets where you can get a leg of turkey and a big wooden cup of beer. Then there’s the brewpubs across the street, where the men will relax while our ladies are spending money on stuff they don’t need. It could be argued, I suppose, that we don’t need the beer either – which would be fair enough, but that we’re driven to it by our wives’ need to visit the antique shops. One begets the other, you see.

Other quick-hits: I’m closing in fast on my goal of thirty books for the year. I’m almost done with number 29 and 30, simultaneously. (One is an audiobook.) Though I’ve not been writing very much, I have been applying my efforts elsewhere. I’ve been building stuff. A buddy and I are actually planning out some pretty slick devices to be introduced here in the next few months. Not that you’ll benefit from it, of course. These are for the new and improved Space Bar. And the redhead is finally starting to organize the utilities for opening her long-awaited dream company. The Two-Step Salsa Company is about to become a reality. We’ll be selling her famous salsa, our beef jerky, and several other secret-sauce-type products.

I plan to start writing again here soon. Which means more updates. So stay tuned for that. I may even have a new writer coming in to join me. I’m not making any promises, but so far, it’s looking like things are shaping up nicely. We’re still in the negotiations phase. She’s good though. Really good. Keep your fingers crossed.

And that about wraps it up for your first annual generic summer update of 2012. There’s a lot more to say, but they’re all big topics, each worthy of their own column. So stay close friends. See you soon.