It was the Best of Rimes, it was the Wurst of Thymes.

Duality is one of my favorite concepts.
I believe it to be a simplification of the multi-faceted nature of existence, but it allows for comparison, contrast, and ultimately, deeper understanding. If you look back at some of my other blog posts, they deal with two main topics: one abstract, and one concrete aspect in my life, how they relate to my past, and one another. Today's post is no different:

Much has happened since I moved from NYC to L.A., and I have been terrible at keeping you up to date.
The struggle started with the basics of work, shelter, and transportation. Finding an apartment in Koreatown near a public transportation hub with Michelle, we have been slowly decorating and introducing our cats to each other.

Work has by far been the trickiest aspect. After a couple months of fruitless job hunting, I realize that the task requires its own special skill set - a clear image of an ideal job, and a dogged effort to pursue that from every available angle without distraction. In my case however, jobs that interest me are many and varied, and with the realities of financial obligation looming, I settled on securing a job waiting tables at a solid Japanese restaurant that has been treating me extremely well.

The internal battle begins now. With my basic needs taken care of, every month I spend in the limbo of reasonable comfortable adds to my doubt that I am pushing myself hard enough toward a meaningful career. But patience provides a comforting reminder that progress comes in different forms, and I am happy to announce that one very important milestone has been achieved.

I am back to home brewing craft beer!
I haven't just taken up my old tricks, either.
You might recall from my post last summer, I always wanted a proper a mash-tun for brewing with a grain bag. Well, now I have one, and for some reason, I just decided (right now!) to name it "Foggy".
Foggy and Ips. Some assembly required, but basically the simplest possible mash-tun set up out there!
 The giant, food-grade thermos that is a Home Depot water cooler, keeps the mash at the proper temperate (usually 148 degrees Fahrenheit) for an hour, while the false bottom strains the grain directly into the spigot for effective "sparging"!
This is what 4 gallons of hot water and 15 pounds of porter malt look like. The extra space in this 10 gallon cooler is for adding an additional 4 gallons of "sparge water".
This being my first time with a proper mash tun was a teaching experience, but here is the basic set-up for the sparge.
I figured out the way to go with my set-up is to drain the mash through an additional strainer, directly into my boil pot, while adding more water to the top of the cooler. Next time, I'll raise everything up an additional tier, to drain the wort from the boil pot during collection, to circulate it more continuously.

Another addition you my notice in the above photo, is the large, glass carboy. I'll be transferring my beer (already finishing up primary fermentation) into this tomorrow. It supposedly improves clarity and guards against off flavors, but really, I just want to be able to see my beer as it ferments. Perhaps I should name the carboy "Quagmire"... giggitty!

The other big game changer, brewing in Los Angeles, is dealing with incredibly hard water. We had already invested in the now-ubiquitous household Brita water pitcher, but we also decided to install a Brita filter directly to our kitchen faucet. This helps bring our extremely alkaline water back to almost neutral level, which is important for the chemical changes that need to happen while brewing. Like studying kanji in Japanese, learning more about the water used in brewing has been something I put off as long as possible when it wasn't absolutely necessary, but now that I have started, I find it fascinating, and I have started noticing just how few home brewers are authorities on the matter, or even comfortable talking about it (which is not to say there isn't still a chasm between what I know and the knowledge of those who are).

More on this brew later. In fact, lots more to catch you up on, including the cat-introductions, photography, interior decorating, baking, LA breweries, stand-up comedy, and more! Stay tuned my delectable, little, puff pastries!

Bonus pic:
Straining out the hops and peanut butter (that's right, I said it!), after boiling this porter...


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