Canada Day

What brewers do on a long weekend (well this one anyway): a bit of gardening in the morning followed by an afternoon in the hammock with a good book and a beer I made.

In a not-unrelated side note, this Hibiscus Sour goes down really well on a hot sunny afternoon. And this BruMate insulated holder was worth every nickel.

Hump Day Live Blog

Cross posted from my personal blog


3:14am: wake up, remember that I set the alarm for an hour earlier, set it back to the usual time and go back to sleep until 4:40

4:40am: alarm goes off, hit snooze

4:54am: realize I turned it off instead of snooze, and that if I don’t get up now, I won’t.

5:04am: out the door.

5:30ish: see a glorious sunrise over Georgian Bay from the top of Blue Mountain. I’m tempted to pull over and take a photo, but I already have scads of glorious sunrise shots. I hope I never grow tired of this.

5:40: at work. I revel in the silence of being the first one in while I pull on my boots and look for my knife. Then it’s turn on the Sonos (brewing like a mofo playlist), and get going.

5:46: get brewhouse ready, start mashing in the new lager. Have an impromptu solo dance party on the brewhouse when Rock The Casbah by the Clash comes on.

6:10ish: mash in and program started. I get my hoses sorted, take the ph of the mash and the sour.

6:30: realize the HLT is not heating. The usual tricks don’t work, so I spend the next 15-20 minutes wiggling connections, getting tools and cursing.

6:45ish: realize that the HLT is not heating because I have not turned on the boilers and compressor. More cursing, at myself this time, and turn them on.

6:50am: mill the next brew. It’s a small one, only 20 bags, but I can already feel how my hands are going to hurt tomorrow. Time to admit to myself and Dave that I am 57, have arthritis, and can’t do everything. I curse some more.

7:30am: milling done. Down to the brewhouse and start the wort line CIP. Hear the splashing noise that means I did not notice that Oliver left the overflow valve open. Turn off the pump, close the valve, start over. More cursing.

7:45 – take a break. Finish my coffee and wish I had another one. I can get one upstairs but it’s a Keurig. Keith has spoiled me for other coffees.

7:55 – decide to sit outside but am stopped by the sight of a dead bird in front of the door, it’s neck broken from flying into the glass. It’s the sight of it’s mate standing close by, not moving that makes me want to cry. I can’t bear to watch Coleson move it to the trees with a shovel.

8:15 – upstairs making coffee. I tripped going up the stairs and banged my knee. Of course I’d have to do this post on one of those days. Sigh.

8:36 – “huh, why is the level on the lauter tun sight tubes so high?” I ask myself as I climb up to the brewhouse with my coffee. Because, dear idiot, you have left the valve open to put the foundation water in rather than using the flow meter like you have for the last year and a half. Cue me dumping a third of the hot liquor tank down the drain. Fuck me, is the whole day going to be like this?!?

8:46 – apparently it is. Customer walked in wanting to buy beer. I left the door open after the bird incident. But who tries to buy beer in this province at 8:46 anyway?!?

9:00 – mash in second lager. So far, so good.

10:15 – it’s been an hour, and I haven’t forgotten anything or screwed up. Maybe, just maybe…..

10:39 – helping on the canning line to free Keith to mill for me. A fair exchange.

11:29 – wort line rinsed, mash almost done, lauter tun entire and rinsed. I have 10 minutes before a hop addition. Time to eat.

12:20pm – country and western on the Sonos. Trying hard to ignore it.

1:03pm – first brew cooling out, second one sparking band the third in the mash tun. And an hour to go!

2:15 – Done! No more incidents of slight stupidity!

Cask Days 2018

This was my fifth Cask Days. I knew no one when I went to my first one. I was solo and anxious like only an introvert can be in a new social situation. I didn’t know what to expect, what to drink, what to say. 

I spent the money for a guided tasting of the British casks with Stephen Beaumont, then spent a few hours getting drunk with actors. I ran into Andy, a former teaching colleague. I drank lots of great beer, and talked to so many people my voice was hoarse. It became my favourite beer festival.

Dennis, Robin and Sarah. I see them every Cask Days,
and we catch up like there wasn’t a year since our last conversation.

Unlike the first one I went to, I did not make extensive lists or highlight cask printouts. I didn’t plan what to drink in advance. I did not go with any plans or notions. 

I went with the big plan to see my friends, and have a beer or two. I may have had more than “or two” but I certainly got a chance to hang out with a lot of my brewer friends. Other than the ongoing gastro-intestinal issue, it was pretty close to a perfect day. The sun was shining (I think), and the casks I tried were pretty spot on; there was one exception, but isn’t there always? I stayed away from sours because my body told me to, but it said nothing about abstaining from stouts! My faves were made by two of my favourite people: Jen at DDC with Aphrodisiaque and Aaron at Merit with a Chai imperial stout that was good enough to have seconds.

There was a sad note however. Every Cask Days, I had a chance to catch up with Andy over a beer. He had proudly been to every Cask Days celebration, and I always looked forward to the chance to sit and talk music, beer and politics with him. He was one of my biggest champions when the school and I parted ways, and he did a send-off speech at the staff end-of-year lunch that made me laugh and cry. But cancer won this year, and even though we only talked once a year, I miss him. It does not seem the same without him.