Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Petersen's Rock Garden

This week I went to Central Oregon to visit my Grand Daughters. Near their house is The Petersen's Rock Garden. It was a perfect place to take the kids for an afternoon romp to burn off some steam.

Aunt J decided she need to be Miss Liberty.

She has a cat named Liberty, coincidence? I think not.

They even have a little gift shop filled with antiques and rock stuff. There was even a room with a black light display. The kids loved to watch their clothes light up.

Over in the corner of the gift shop, was a little play area. You know kids stay here while parents wander. Do you see anything wrong with this picture?
As it turns out, they were cleaning out a storage area, and it wasn't a play area.

The Garden sits on 4 acres, but the museum and rockery are all bunched together and is easy to walk around. With bridges and ponds, miniature castles, and walkways, it keeps the kids amused and offers opportunity for home school geology.

There was even a horse in the field that just wandered around with no fences. A cute little lamb, and peacocks in full bloom made for a very enjoyable afternoon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Brewing up summer!

I have several hobbies. In fact, I have had to force myself not to start anymore new hobbies.

Here is a list of things I am doing or have done in the past.

I am restoring my 69 Mustang. I ski/snowboard. I was way into doing acrylic nails. I got pretty good at sewing, nightgowns and skirts are my specialty. Rock climbing. Fishing. Dune buggies. Photography.

But this blog will just focus on Homebrewing.

Welcome to Gargoyle Brewery.

As a boy, my preference for escape was the realm of fantasy. You know, knights, dragons, castles, jousting. That sort of stuff. It is still a dream of mine to visit the castles in Scotland and England. Please keep in mind that I know gargoyles are not real or demonic. They were simply rain spouts to divert the water off castles, they were made ugly to ward off the things that went bump in the night. So they just "watch" over things.

I consider myself a budding Zymurgist. Zymurgy or zymology is the study of fermentation. I have been making beer for about 10 years now. I have made good beer and beer that was so bad, I had to pour it out. 5 gallons and countless hours, literally, down the drain. From start to finish, it will take 6 weeks before they are ready for sampling. Some recipes are shorter.

Let's take a look at what it takes to make a hand crafted beer.

Shopping for the right ingredients aside, here is the low down.

Steep the grains for 20 minutes at 160 degrees.

Add malt extract and bring to a boil.

Boil flavoring hop for 60 mins, bittering hops for 30 and aroma hops 15.

Cool to below 80 degrees or you will kill the yeast.

The yeast is the magic that makes everything work. Did you know that when yeast eats sugar, it gives off alcohol? That's right, alcohol is yeast poop. No wonder it will give you a headache.

Put it all in a glass carboy, and wait.

After about 3 days, it needs to be checked with a hydrometer. I will spare you the details of specific gravity readings. Just know that water has a higher density than alcohol. The hydrometer tells when fermentation is complete.

Add a 1/4cup of priming sugar and fill the bottles, tedious. Side note, another bi-product of yeast eating sugar is co2. This is where the carbonation takes place. Who knew yeast waste was so valuable???

Cap the bottles. Depending on the recipe, you let it condition in the bottles for the required time. My batches need 4 weeks. So, start to finish is about 6 weeks and countless hours.

Enjoy slowly...

Each beer I brew is named and has a label. The names are earned, and have to fit the theme of mid evil days. Here is the history and labels for the two underway.

Queen Angela's Pale Ale.

This beer is named after the artist who sculpted a tap handle for me. Angela spent many hours with a lump of clay and specific instruction and brought forth a marvelous piece of art that has become the tap handle mounted on my beer fridge. Most beers fall into different categories. This is an American Pale Ale (APA), note the initials are the same. Angela's Pale Ale (APA) and she is the Queen of all the artists I know.

Double Dragon

This one is inspired by one of my co-workers. During a meeting in preparation for a visit by the corporate executives, there was some concern for being ready for their arrival. The boss, put the responsibility on his right hand man, who responded with "I will bring out the Dragon." To which the boss replied "You might need Two Dragons". This also happens to be a clone of one of his favorite beers, Dead Guy Ale made by Rogue Breweries.

Mason's Marvelous Mug

My Gson and I have also made our first batch of Root beer. It turned out OK, but I think we can tweak it a bit and make it better. It was pretty easy and only takes about a week to mature and is a fun home school project.

My back label reflects the motto for Gargoyle Breweries.

Who knows, maybe I will get a new recipe and name it after my blog friends. How about "Blog Grog?"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Knock Knock...

This needed doing.