Sunday, March 06, 2011


Photo: Justin Bugsy Sailor, Flickr Creative Commons

I'm not sure what I meant to write here today. There was a moment, beer in my hand, mp3 player on shuffle, watching the red Sussex hen pecking around for spilled grain as my imperial stout boiled away that I felt inspired to write something. It didn't hurt that the weather was incredible. High 60s and mostly sunny, but I've forgotten what I wanted to write now. I only had my phone with me at the time and typing anything of length on that touchscreen keyboard is a pain in the ass. By the time I cleaned up from my brew day and ran just a hair shy of five miles I no longer know what I meant to say.

It probably had something to do with the hen. The little Sussex hen and her matching beau tend to follow me around outside. While milling the grain for today's beer I had to shoo them off so they wouldn't steal kernels right from out of the mill's hopper. There's something meditative about both brewing and watching the birds forage, that is until a dozen guineas glide up shoulder to shoulder and rat-at-tat-tat come-BACK at me, their voices echoing off the concrete floor and brick walls.

The brewing went well, though. Last week's IPA is almost milky from being so cloudy (a problem I had with my last batch of IPA and can't seem to correct), but the hydrometer sample tasted fine, so I'll ignore it for now. The imperial stout came out even stronger than expected. I've struggled with mash efficiency (how much of the grain's sugar you can extract) since I started brewing, so it's nice to see a batch come out more efficient than I'd expected. It'll be a beast of a beer, though. If I get the fermentability I expect, it'll be well over 12% alcohol by volume. For perspective. Guinness Stout is 4%. Budweiser is 5%.

On a different note, the Iditarod dog sled officially started today. The ceremonial start in Anchorage was yesterday, but the official start happens in a different town not far from Anchorage and a day later. I'd love to be able to go up there one March and watch. It's a tough sport for spectators, but it'd be cool just to get to see the teams take off from the start, and I'm already obsessed with Alaska. If I had the money and time, I'd even fly into the the checkpoints to watch the leading teams as they progressed. Lacking time and money, I'm keeping track of it online through the Anchorage Daily News and their Twitter feed. Actually mushing a team in this race would be incredible, but I think if I ever lived somewhere dog sleds were sensible, I'd probably just take up skijoring. Having a dog or two pulling you around on cross-country skis just seems easier than keeping up with an entire kennel full of sled dogs.

Back here at home, I hope it rains soon. Everything is painted yellow from the pines and early flowers and their annual orgy. It'd also be nice to see the pond filled to the brim again before the sun of summer starts burning it away again. Man, I dread the warmer weather coming. Late winter through early spring is wonderful here, but the summer sucks.


Julie said...

I can't think of any reason I'd ever want to go to Alaska in March. June? Sure. March? No.

Jacob said...

Hey, the high is above freezing all week this week. Sure, we're talking less than 5 degrees above freezing, but I'll tell you from experience in temperatures that low from winter visits to Cleveland when it got below 0 Fahrenheit, that it really doesn't feel as cold as the number suggests. Seriously, I feel colder in Georgia when it's 35-40 than I ever have in Cleveland or Denver when it was in the teens.

There's actually a beer festival (barleywines and strong ales appropriately) in Anchorage in January that I've always wanted to go to as well. Plane tickets are cheaper in the off season as well.

Alaska is lovely in the summer, though. Highs in the 60s. You need a light jacket, but you'll never sweat. I have heard the inland areas can be less moderate in the summer and get into the 90s, but the week we spent in the interior a few years ago was beautiful.

Mickey said...

I liked this post.