Saturday, March 29, 2014

Das Alt Bier

Brew Day – Sun. 25 Jan. 2014

With the new kiddo, brewing time has become a precious commodity. It seemed appropriate then to share this brew day with a friend of mine whose first child was due in less than two months. I made up a starter the day before with WLP 036 German Alt Yeast.

I used the recipe "Alt.Beer.Recipe" from the book Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer. The homebrew shop in Boulder was out of pilsner malt extract and so I ended up going with 100% munich malt extract instead – I figured  it would still be beer.

Getting ready to make the starter

OG: 1.050 (12 .3 op) – Actual: 1.060 (oops)
FG: 1.014 (3.5 op) – Actual: 1.016 (better)
IBU: 32
Color: 16 SRM (31 EBC)
Alcohol: 4.7% ABV (3.7% ABW)

Boil: 60 minutes
Pre-Boil Volume: 7 gal lons (26.5L)
Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.042 (10.5 op)

Pilsener LME (2.3 °L) 7.4 lbs. (3.35kg) 
Munich LME (9 °L) 0.7 lb. (318g) Actual: 8.5 lbs

Steeping Grains
Carafa Special II ( 430 °L) 0.25 lb. (113g)
CaraMunich (60 °L) 0.25 lb. (113g)
Pale Chocolate Malt (200 °L) 3.0 oz. (85g)

Magnum 13.0% AA for 60 min. 0.6 oz. (17g)

Dan, my co-brewer for the day, was an excellent assistant. With his help we did the brew day in a little over 3 hours. I once again did a full wort boil staggered over two pots. The pots were staged 15 minutes apart with half of the ingredients (approximately) put into both. The singe hop addition made things very easy and the wort was easy to transfer to the fermenter.

Clean-up complete
One hurdle that we had to overcome for fermentation was that the homebrew shop was also out of one inch tubing (I was beginning to notice a theme with this homebrew shop). Initially I tried to put a smaller (3/8th inch, I believe) hose on the top with the airlock. This tube kept getting blown off. Then I realized that I had a large half-inch auto-syphon tube. This seems to stay on a lot better (although a one-inch tube would have been better).
This fermentation stretched the capacity of my airlock and blow-off tube
Bottling – Wed. 19 Mar. 2014
I did not have time to bottle this one after a month so instead I transferred it to a secondary fermenter  on 23 Feb. I have felt that I bottled my last few beers too early and so I felt that giving it a few extra weeks in the fermenter would be a good idea. And I did not have time to bottle.

Racking from the fermenter into the bottling bucket
 So finally, almost two months after brew day, I bottled the beer. The process took about two hours. I got 48 bottles. Ingredients were $41.12. So this one came to 85 cents a beer. Not bad.

Moment of Truth

While I like to wait two weeks, that is not always an option. So after a little over a week I tried the first beer on the 27th. It came out dark reddish brown and clear. Reasonable carbonation for a week. As expected, it was nicly malty with just a bit of caramel / chocolate in the background. I have no idea if it ended up in the alt beer category, but it’s a good beer so far.

Das Alt Bier

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Trailing Running Near Ft. Carson

3 – 6 March 2014

I went down to Ft. Carson this week to take the combat lifesaver course. Since there was no organized physical training to do in the morning, I got to do my own. So I was very happy when, in my research I found that there was a state park right outside of the main gate to Ft. Carson: Cheyenne Mountain State Park. The website claimed it had 20 miles of trails. And it was less than a 10-minute drive from the barracks we were staying in. Game on.

Cheyenne Mountain from the Soaring Kestral Trail
Navigating the Park

I was pleased to see that the park’s trails were well marked with color coded signs about six inches off the ground. Since the trails are windy and numerous, this was useful for orienteering in a new place.

Equally useful were the park map signs with the “you are here arrows”.

Got a little snow this morning
General Conditions

The trails themselves were fairly non-technical. On a hot summer day this could be a rough pace to run as there is little shade on the lower sections. As you climb though you get into some nice scrub oak and pinion pine. While you do not actually climb Cheyenne Mountain in the park or any truly steep trails, you are generally going up or down the whole time.

The trails are sadly off limits to dogs, but not to mountain bikes. Fortunately, the dog was at home and I generally ran outside of the popular mountain biking times.

After running about 90% of the trails my favorites were:

Talon – a nice moderate climb with some nice loops in the shade with Talon North and South.
Cougar’s Shadow – Just technical enough to keep the bikes at bay and through some nice woods.
Blackmere Loop – Nice big winding loop through the woods.

Top of the Blackmer Trail
My runs

~6.5 miles, 1300 vertical

The first day on post our training got done around 4:30 in the afternoon. I rushed out to find the park and get in some miles before the sunlight died out. The sun was already setting behind the park’s namesake mountain when I arrived at the Limekin Grove Trailhead Lot (38.731398° -104.820775°).

The Talon trail starts off open, wide with a low grade. At the intersection with the Sundance trail the grade picked up. It started traversing more and getting into some nice scrub oak and pines. I did the South Talon trail and headed back down. When I hit the Sundance Trail again I went east to get back to the start.

~8 miles, 1400 vertical

Today I started from the vistor’s center (38.734966° -104.819361°). I started off with a semi-open loop of the Zook (Blue), Sundance (Red) and Turkey Trot Trails. Then I went up the Limekin Valley and came back down the Boulder Run trail. This was a nice single track trail that was a little more technical than the others I had done thus far.

~10 miles, 1600 vertical

The Couger's Shadow and upper Blackmer Loop trails run and wind through some of the prettier woods in the park. There was a light snow this morning. The upper portions of the Blackmer Trail and Couger's Shadow do some nice woodline contour traverses.