Founders Frangelic Mountain Brown

I picked up a bottle of Founder’s Frangelic Mountain Brown, at the suggestion of the beer lady at the Piggly Wiggly in Liberty Park. There was a sign showing a ratebeer rating of 99, so why not. It was a little expensive. Around $12 for a single bomber. While the title suggest a brown, ratebeer shows it as an “American Strong Ale”. That is really just a catch all for strong, creative beers. I will review this as a brown, as Founders suggest.

Aroma: Very strong hazelnut nose. Toffee
Appearance: Medium-dark brown, right on style for a brown. The head died pretty quickly for me, but was as pictured for about 1 minute.
Flavor: Strong caramel, toffee, and hazelnut. Sweet. Some alcohol heat, but balanced well with the flavors. The beer is spiked with hazelnut coffee and I definitely get the hazelnut, but no coffee.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied.
Overall: This is a delicious beer. I think my first statement was “I want to make love to this beer.” If you like a sweeter, toffee like brown, and especially if you like hazelnut, you can’t go wrong. This beer could make a person who doesn’t like browns, like browns.

Founders Frangelic Mountain Brown

Catching up … again.

It seems I end up writing more “catch up” post than every day post. I just recently installed the WordPress app for Android and I hope this gets me to post more than every few months. I’ll discuss another step I plan to take towards that shortly.

First, to catch up. 😉

Since my first home brewing post on here I have done numerous batches. The winter brought me several ales and even a Belgian clone of Chimay Red. I still have a couple of bottles of that left, but I am running low quickly. Due to the summer heat, I’ve brewed a simple Saison and a Wit. I bought a keg after receiving a kegerator for my birthday, so the Saison is gone and the Wit is likely to be finished this week. I have a Rye Saison in primary and plan on kegging it next weekend. In a few weeks, I’ll be doing my first Stout. I’m very excited about giving a stout a try. My plan is for a standard dry Irish style stout, likely spiked with a little cold-pressed coffee. I want it pretty low alcohol. I’ve found that I tend to do best at lower alcohol beers. I switched to all grain brewing and my beers have been incredible since. I’ll probably give a bigger beer a go some time this winter though. Maybe an Imperial IPA for Springtime drinking.

I have really fallen in love with the hobby of home brewing and making wine. So much so, that I plan to start studying for the BJCP certification. This is the certification required to be a registered beer judge for beer competitions. At the very least, I should learn a lot and really develop my pallet. On this same note, I am going to start posting beer reviews on this blog. My hope is that I can work up an Android app that allows me to enter BJCP style reviews and post them, along with pictures, directly to the blog. The WordPress Android app is open source, so I should be able to take enough from it to get my app posting back to this blog. We’ll see what happens as I can develop it. Finding the time to do so is going to be the biggest challenge.

Work has been great. I was recently promoted to “Mobile Applications Architect”. I pretty much spend all day working on web services and Android code. I really couldn’t ask for a better position. The company is still great and I work with great people. I learn something new every single day.

The gym is going great. I am typically there between 4 and 6 days a week and I try to run when I have the energy and time. I’ve gained a little weight back, but most has been muscle. The rest is beer.

Saison Dupont

This is a beer I have been very excited to try. I’ve basically spent the summer brewing and tasting saisons, but I haven’t seen a Saison Dupont available until today. I found it at whole foods. It was $5 for a single 12oz bottle. Kind of expensive, but I HAD to try it.

The color is a nice golden-orange color and cloudy. Definitely to style for a saison. The head was white and lasted for about 30 seconds or so.

Aroma was very light and slightly fruity and musty. No real hop aroma. I did get a slightly skunky smell, but it was faint. After a taste of the beer, any hints of skunk were completely gone.

Taste is slightly astringent on the tongue. I can’t really tell if it is from the beer or the high carbonation level. The beer itself has notes of bitter orange, black pepper, and a citrus flavor like lemon. There is definite bitterness to the beer. The finish is spicy and peppery. Very dry.

Mouth feel is medium bodied and dry.

Overall, this is a great example of the style. This is a delicious beer. I’ll definitely be looking at possible clone recipes to brew next summer.

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Homemade Sauerkraut

I decided to give sauerkraut a try. After watching several different videos, I opted for a small batch method in a mason jar. I’m really just dipping my toes in the water with this, so who knows how it is going to turn out. The recipe was extremely simple. To make it, you need the following ingredients.

  • White Cabbage
  • Sea salt
  • Caraway seeds

I shredded a single head of cabbage and mixed with a tablespoon of salt and handful of caraway seeds. Immediately the smell was amazing. The caraway seeds really lend a beautiful aroma to the mixture. I mixed it all by hand and squeezed the cabbage to try to bring the water out of the cabbage. I then covered the bowl with a towel and let it sit for an hour. Then I crushed the lettuce again and let it sit for 3 hours. I probably should have let it sit overnight, but at this stage I added the cabbage to a jar, covered it with a cabbage leaf, some water, and finally added pressure (with 2 shot glasses) to keep the cabbage below the water/brine level.

Hopefully in a few days I will start to see some fermentation working.

First Brew Day

DeAnna and I are making some changes toward a more self-sustaining life. Part of doing that means growing more in the garden, preserving foods rather than buying store bought sauces and jams, and making our own beer and wine. Yesterday, I took the first steps toward becoming a home brewer, thanks to the help of a wonderful friend, Rich.

I met Rich at the Home brewing supply shop and he gave me a quick run down of what to do. On the wall was a list of what must be over 100 incredible beers for which the shop has recipes for clones. It was tough to decide, but upon noticing Anchor Steam on the list, I knew what I had to make for my first beer. I grabbed a fermenting bucket and a few other items and we were ready to get started. Rich got an Australian Shiraz kit to make some wine.

Next it was off to the store for some spring water and a 6-pack of beer to accompany us on our journey. As luck would have it, they had Anchor Steam! I couldn’t think of a better thing to drink while making an Anchor Steam clone, so with a few more purchases we hit the road and headed toward the house to get started.

After laying everything out, we got walked through the directions and boiled the grains and hops, added the malt, and finished with the flavor and aroma hops. Finally we gave the wort an ice bath to bring the temperature down to the point we could pitch the yeast.

During a break between babying the wort, Rich made the wine. I was amazed at how easy the wine was to get to the fermenting stage. He did mention that it gets a bit more complicated later, when you move to a secondary fermentation and finally bottle the wine.

Eventually we were done and moved the buckets to my basement. Since it is a bit cool outside and we don’t have heat in the basement, I added a small space heater to keep the buckets at 70% while fermentation gets kicking. As of this afternoon, both buckets were bubbling away, letting me know that the yeast was healthy and everything is going just as planned. Now comes the hard part, patience.

Book review: Programming Android

Programming Android contains an impressive coverage of what it takes to build an application for the Android platform. The book starts right where it should, with helping you set up Eclipse and the ADT plugins required for writing an Android app. Next, explanation is taken of some basics of Java. Certainly not enough to teach you Java, but rather a quick reminder of the things you are going to see while reading the examples in the book. The authors then show the reader the basic ingredients of an Android app (Views, the Manifest file, etc) and how all of the pieces relate to each other. Rather quickly, the reader is then launched into detailed explanations of not only the components and standard APIs used in Android, but also (and just as importantly) the best practices for which one should try to comply.

I was impressed by this book. Take a moment and look at the Table of Contents and you will see the exhaustive coverage of the book. I work on a large Android app during my day job and often try to read Android related books to make sure that I am doing things the best that I can. This book exposed several areas where I could improve my code. Best of all, while I may not currently use many of the features explained in the book, I now know where I can get the information when I take my app to the next level.

One thing not to miss is the introduction to Fragments. While certainly not exhaustive, it should give you a starting place for building apps that work with tablets and with phones.

My only complaint would likely be that the book doesn’t give many full examples of working code, beyond the initial setting up a project section. Because of the level of detail taken in each section, the authors do limit the code examples to explanation the topic of the chapter, rather than putting the code within a large context.

Book Review: Programming HTML5 Applications

Programming HTML5 Applications, by Zachary Kessin; O’Reilly Media

Programming HTML5 Applications serves as an introduction to some of the technologies available for building the next generation of web applications. That being said, I don’t quite understand which audience for whom the author wrote this book. I felt more like I was attending a conference where the presenter was trying to get through as much material as possible, in as little time as possible. Reading the book feels like being exposed to a whirlwind of ideas and buzzwords.

While the title of the book is Programming HTML5 Applications, there is very little exposure to HTML5 in the text. This book is about Javascript. While no doubt Javascript has become the dominant programming language for the web, the title of the book doesn’t set you up for what you can expect to find inside.

Some sections go into very little detail about a subject, often just a couple of paragraphs, while others drone on for pages of an advanced topic that I really couldn’t understand without the greater context of the tools. As an example, closures are explained in 1 and ½ pages, while 4 pages are spent discussing the manifest file required for using a web page offline.

While it is obvious the author has experience with building web applications and has taken time to find the best tools available, don’t expect to learn the tools here. If you are looking for a quick list of things you should probably be studying up on, the book may serve as that list. If you are expecting to walk away knowing how to use any of the tools mentioned, forget it. My suggestion is to read the table of contents and then go find resources for learning the tools mentioned.

All of this being said, the copy I reviewed was an early access edition through O’Reilly’s Blogger Review Program. Since the book has not yet been reviewed and edited, I sincerely hope the time is taken to flush out the ideas presented and offer the reader a more valuable experience in exchange for their time.