Home Brewing – Imperial Stout

A while back, we were shopping around for beer supplies and came across a kit for an imperial stout (Alien Dog Imperial Stout) from Austin Homebrew Supply. We had not brewed a stout before, and this one sounded interesting. We ordered the extract kit with dry malt extract (DME) since we weren’t sure when we would actually get around to brewing it.

Imperial stout ready to be bottled.
Imperial stout ready to be bottled.

Grains used for this recipe were 1/2 pound each of Black Patent, Caraamber, and chocolate, and one pound of Crystal 150L. After we heated two gallons of water to 155°F, we steeped the grains for 25 minutes. We placed the grain bag in a strainer over the pot after steeping to let water drip back into the pot. When it was finished, we discarded the grains, added another gallon of water to the pot, and brought the mixture to boiling.

Once the mixture was boiling, we turned off the heat and added nine pounds of dark DME. We continuously stirred the malts to prevent boil over. After the malt was dissolved, we returned the mixture to a boil. Once a good rolling boil was established, we added 1 1/2 ounces of Millenium hops. These hops were used for bittering and boiled for 60 minutes.

When the boil time finished, we removed the pot from the heat and placed it in an ice bath to cool down to 80°F. This took about 35 minutes. The cooled wort was poured into a 6 gallon carboy and cool water was added to bring the volume to 5 gallons. We poured the wort through a strainer to help prevent sludge from entering the carboy. We stirred the wort to mix well with the added water, and then checked the specific gravity.

Bottled imperial stout.
Bottled imperial stout.

We pitched a dry yeast (Notthingham Ale) directly into the carboy and stirred the wort so it was well mixed. Our brew was stored in a temperature controlled (72°F) chest freezer. We used a blow off tube for the first couple of days of fermentation before switching to an S-shaped airlock. It ended up having a very violent fermentation (i.e., big mess to clean up).

We used primary and secondary fermentation for this brew. We left the beer in the primary fermentor for a bit longer than usual (10 days), and then transferred to a secondary. The beer was in the secondary for 5 days before bottling. Normally, we get 53 or 54 12-ounce bottles out of a 5 gallon batch of beer, but this time we got 47 bottles – due to beer being lost during the violent fermentation. Currently, we are bottle conditioning this stout – should only take a few weeks, and then we get to enjoy this homebrew!

 

Tyler Quilt Show

Once again, I am not a quilter… but since I do appreciate beautiful quilts, I thought I’d share another post about a local quilt show.

My Mama and I recently enjoyed a day at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show. The Tyler Quilt Show is held by the Quilters’ Guild of East Texas every March at the Harvey Convention Center. The Harvey Convention Center is located at 2000 West Front Street in Tyler, TX. Parking is convenient and free. Tickets cost $6 each at the door, and the show took us a couple of hours to see. This year’s theme was “Red and White Renaissance,” and there were lots of beautiful red and white quilts on display. This year’s show was the largest yet – over 200 quilts were on display (78 were red and white quilts).

 

Enjoying the Tyler Quilt Show
Enjoying the Tyler Quilt Show

 

The categories for judged bed-sized quilts were (the number in parentheses represents the number of quilts in that category):
Hand Quilted – Pieced (15), Appliquéd (6), Mixed Techniques (6), Other Techniques (3)
Quilted on a Stationary Home Machine – Pieced (12), Appliquéd (2), Mixed Techniques (8)
Quilted on a Long-Arm or Track Machine – Pieced (66), Appliquéd (7), Mixed Techniques (31)

The categories for judged small quilts were:
Hand Quilted – Pieced (3), Appliquéd (5), Mixed Techniques (10),
Machine Quilted – Pieced (14), Appliquéd (5), Mixed Techniques (20), Other Techniques (6)

Categories for judged quilts with no size limit were:
Art Quilts (3)
First Quilt – Hand or Machine Quilted (10)
Miniatures – Hand or Machine Quilted (10)

They also had an Exhibit Only category with 17 quilts, plus some special exhibits – Grandmother’s Corner (6), Quilt Show Challenge Blocks (47), and Wool Display Booth (17). The show also offered a silent auction for small and miniature quilts, with the proceeds going toward the cost of Quilters’ Guild of East Texas programs.

Quilts on display at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show.
Quilts on display at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show.
More quilts on display at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show.
More quilts on display at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show.

Along with all the quilts on display, there were 25-30 vendors set up. Vendors were selling all the usual quilting supplies – fabrics, threads, and quilting gadgets.

My favorite part of the Tyler Quilt Show is The Bed Turning. It is a showcase of antique quilts that lasts about 30 minutes (seating is available). Basically, one lady discusses a quilt’s style and history while two other ladies hold it up for everyone to see. They always have some really interesting quilts.

In addition to the annual quilt show, a needleart show was being held across the road from the Harvey Convention Center. The 21st Biennial Needleart Show was hosted by the East Texas Chapter of the Embroiders’ Guild of America. This year’s show was located in the Tyler Rose Garden Center (420 South Rose Park Drive). Tickets to the needleart show were $2 each. Projects on display included cross stitch, needlepoint, blackwork, redwork, smocking, and other embroidery styles.

32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show
32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show

Beer Styles

Beer Styles | rainerlife.com

This is the first in a series of posts that will deal with beer styles. I thought it would be fun to write up descriptions of different beer styles to help better distinguish between the various styles. When we first started trying different beers, it took a while before I learned to appreciate certain styles. Now that I know what specific styles are supposed to look, smell, and taste like, trying new beers is even more fun.

This post focuses on the main differences between ales and lagers. Additional posts will focus on a single beer style; however, I may describe multiple beers that fall within the same general style (e.g., American IPA and English IPA) in the same post. Also, I will try to include personal recommendations for each beer style.

Beer style is used to identify beers based on the overall character of the beer (origin, ingredients, color, flavor, strength, etc.). Beers fall in two categories – ales and lagers. Within these two categories are many, many different styles of beer.

What are Ales?

Ales are brewed using top-fermenting yeasts, generally prefer a warmer fermentation temperature (65-75°F), and often contain a higher amount of hops and malts than lagers.

Ales include beer styles with ‘ale’ in the name (Brown Ale, India Pale Ale, Red Ale, etc.), Porters, Stouts, Barleywines, Extra Special/Strong Bitters, Belgian beers (e.g., Dubbel, Tripel, Quadrupel, Lambic, Saison, Witbier), and some German beers (e.g., Altbier, Hefeweizen, Kölsch). Ales tend to be best served cool rather than cold and have more intense flavors than lagers.

What are Lagers?

Lagers are brewed using bottom-fermenting yeasts and generally prefer a cooler fermentation temperature (45-55°F).

Lagers include beer styles with ‘lager’ in the name (Amber Lager, Dark Lager, Pale Lager, etc.), Bocks, Dopplebocks, Dortmunders, Märzen/Oktoberfests, Pilseners, and some German beers (e.g., Eisbock, Maibock, Rauchbier, Schwarzbier). Lagers generally have a cleaner and more mellow flavor than ales.

For more info on beer styles, check out these useful sites:
Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Guidelines
Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines
Great American Beer Festival (GABF) – Beer Styles
BeerAdvocate – Beer Styles
RateBeer – Beer Styles

Dallas Quilt Show

Let me start this post by stating that I am not a quilter, I simply have an appreciation for the talent and craftsmanship involved in making beautiful quilts. My Mama is a very talented hand-quilter who has made many beautiful quilts (she’s probably shaking her head while reading this, but it’s true!). This year we made a day trip over to Dallas for the Dallas Quilt Show, and we really enjoyed it.

Entrance to the Dallas Quilt Show.
Entrance to the Dallas Quilt Show.

 

The Dallas Quilt Show (“Dallas Quilt Celebration”), is held by the Quilter’s Guild of Dallas every March at the Dallas Market Hall. Market Hall is located at I-35E and Market Center Boulevard, so it’s a fairly easy location to find. Parking is good – there is plenty of free parking space, but they also offer a valet service. We always park in a nearby parking garage (free) and walk over to the show. Tickets cost $8 each at the door, and the show can easily be seen in a day.

Numerous quilts were on display this year. Walking around and admiring all the quilts is my favorite part of any quilt show. The show had lots of quilts on display with some in judged categories (Master and Artisan), but also special exhibits. We prefer to view the judged categories first, and we always note the hand quilted projects (our favorites). The categories for the judged quilts included a Master and Artisan Divisions for each of the following: Large Pieced (One Person), Large Appliqué (One Person), Wall Quilt (One Person), Two-Person Wall Quilts, Two-Person Large Quilts, and Art Quilts (One Person). Open Division categories included: Miniature Quilts (One or Two Person), Other Techniques (One or Two Person), Group/Friendship, Seniors (One or Two Person), Show Chair Theme – “Edibles” (One or More Persons), Garment (One or More Persons), Pictorial (One or More Persons), Small Quilt (One or Two Person), and First Quilt (One or Two Person). They also offered two Non-Judged Categories: Juniors (17 and under) and Adults. The special exhibits were Modern Masterpieces by Texas Quilters 1989-2010, Modern Quilts of Texas, Go Texan Quilt Collection: Stitched with Texas Pride, Innovations: Quilts by Barbara Oliver Hartman, and Material Mavens 12 x 12 Art Quilt Challenge. The show also offered a Miniature Quilt Auction, with the benefits raised going toward the Search One Rescue Team (a volunteer search and rescue organization based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area).

Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013
Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013
Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013
Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013

Along with all the quilts on display, there were numerous vendors (around 150) selling their wares. Vendors were selling all the usual quilting supplies – fabrics, threads, quilting gadgets, sewing machines, plus a few vendors were selling soaps, baskets, and jewelry.

The only gripe I have is the concession area at lunch time. My gripe is because there is not enough seating for the lunch crowd. We know this every year, yet we still always venture in about 12:30 to get our lunch. So far, it works with one of us waiting in the food line while the other goes in search of two seats together. There are four main food vendors – this year we had taco salads that were really good. I’m not aware of any restaurants near the Market Hall, but that would be an option to avoid the crowds, or simply wait until an “off” time to go eat.

Overall, the Dallas Quilt Show is always fun for us. We get to see some beautiful quilts and my Mama gets to stock up on quilting supplies. Definitely worth checking out for any quilter.

Me enjoying the quilt show.
Me enjoying the quilt show.

Raised Garden Beds

Spring is almost here! It’s time to get the garden ready, so we recently built two 4’x8′ raised beds to get our vegetable garden started.

Finished raised bed for our new vegetable garden.
Finished raised bed for our new vegetable garden.

Supplies for one raised bed:
Two 4-foot-long 2″x8″ cedar boards
Two 8-foot-long 2″x8″ cedar boards
Four 8-inch-long 4″x4″ posts
Sixteen 3 1/2-inch wood screws
Twelve 1 5/8-inch wood screws
Six 8-inch-long 1-inch PVC pipe
Six 1-inch galvanized pipe straps
One piece of 4’x10′ chicken wire
Two 8-inch C-clamps
Tape measure
Hacksaw
Power saw
Power drill
Soil

Our total cost for the two beds was about $280.00 (including taxes). We splurged on cedar, so that ran the cost up higher. Also, we had to buy all the wood screws, pvc and straps, chicken wire, and soil, so if you already have these things, the cost would be lower.

First, we had 12-foot boards cut at the store to measure 4-foot-long and 8-foot-long. Since we don’t have a truck, fitting a 12-foot board in the vehicle was going to be a challenge. Fortunately, Home Depot had a wood cutting area that cut the boards to our specified lengths. So, we purchased the 12-foot cedar boards and had them cut.

We used C-clamps on the corners to hold the wood pieces securely while drilling the holes for screws and screwing the boards together. We made an 8-inch deep raised bed, so we used 8-inch 4×4 posts in the corners. While browsing the internet for ideas, we saw some people extended the length of the 4×4 to anchor the bed to the ground; however, we decided the bed would be anchored enough by filling it with soil. Also, some people forego the use of 4×4 posts altogether, so it seems whatever works for you, go with it.

Using C-clamps to hold wood together before attaching corners.
Using C-clamps to hold wood together.
Marking the spots for screws.
Marking the spots for screws.
Drilling a hole for the corner screws.
Drilling a hole for the corner screws.
Attaching chicken wire to the bottom of a raised bed.
Attaching chicken wire to the bottom of a raised bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the frame was together, we stapled chicken wire to the bottom of the bed. We have a mole problem in our yard, so we wanted some type of barrier on the bottom to prevent a mole issue in the garden. Hardware cloth can also be used, but we opted for chicken wire. The 4-foot wide roll fit perfectly. The roll of chicken wire was for 50-feet, so we had plenty left over… maybe we’ll use it for another project.

We also attached 8-inch pieces of PVC to the longer sides of the beds. This will be used to form a frame for netting to prevent birds and wildlife from getting into the beds. We bought a 10-foot piece of 1-inch PVC and cut it into six 8-inch lengths to place around the interior of the bed (3 PVC posts per side). We hope to use 1/2-inch PVC to form the frame. We bought some 1/2-inch PVC, but haven’t built a frame yet, since it’s not necessary right now. I’ll add a new post once we have the frame finalized.

Once the raised bed was assembled, we layered cardboard in the bottom. Then soil was added to the bed. To fill an 8-inch deep 4’x8′ raised bed, 22-cubic-feet of soil was needed. We opted to create a soil mixture containing 60% top soil, 30% compost, and 10% peat moss. That came to seventeen 40-pound bags of top soil, eight 40-pound bags of compost, and two 40-pound bags of peat moss per bed. We also added a bag of chicken litter from my parent’s chicken coop and some crushed eggs shells to the mixture. Overall, we ended up with a pretty healthy looking mixture.

Raised bed with chicken wire attached to the bottom and PVC pipe anchored to the sides.
Raised bed with chicken wire attached to the bottom and PVC pipe anchored to the sides.
Raised bed with cardboard base.
Raised bed with cardboard base.