Pisco Sours, Bull Fights, and Skulls

As Angela has been posting, we’re currently in Peru with my MBA trip.

Right now, we’re staying in Lima doing company and cultural visits.  It’s really been an excellent experience getting to see in more detail both large and small firms across the city.  Our hosts have been extremely accommodating and informative, and the food has been fantastic!

On Monday, we made a trek out to visit the Plaza de Toros de Acho – the oldest bull fighting ring in Peru.  Good news, the last matador death was back in the 1920’s, so go ahead and change careers now.  I’ll wait.

Honestly, it was cool to see, but I have zero interest in bull fighting.  What was interesting is this:

Prostitute Tower

During the 1800’s, it wasn’t exactly proper to take your prostitute to the big bull fight, but you also didn’t want to be rude and leave her wandering the exterior of the ring.  So, this tower was made so the prostitutes could still watch the fight without being seen in the main public spaces.  Go, Spain.

After that, we headed off to Plaza Bolivar where the Congress and other governmental buildings are located.  It was a nice open space with a huge fountain in the middle, surrounded by the Legislative Palace.  Interesting tidbit that no one expected: this was also the location most of the Inquisition tribunals.

Legislative Palace
Plaza Bolivar
San Francisco Monastery

We finished the day up at the San Francisco Monastery and Catacombs.  This church was quite beautiful, but no photos were allowed inside or within the catacombs.  At least I was able to get a few good shots of the exterior while dodging the massive amount of pigeons that dominate the square.  Fun fact: Chinese immigrants in the 1850’s were brought in for, among other things, working the guano caves for export to England.  So there’s that.

We wrapped up the night with way too many pisco sours and some native dance at a somewhat touristy restaurant.  Highlights were a guy dressed up as an Incan king, and a the bird costume.  I’m sure there’s important symbolism behind it, but it’s a dude in a bird costume flying around the restaurant in front of a buffet.  It ended with a bunch of the MBAs getting pulled up on stage for a group dance.  Thankfully, I wasn’t picked, but I got the most embarrassing important parts onto youtube.

The remaining photos are all on the Gallery.

Incan King
Pisco Sour

The Journey to All Grain Brewing

After cutting our teeth on several extract and mini-mash brews, we decided to take the plunge into all-grain brewing.

What the heck does that mean?

When you brew beer, you need four things: grains, water, yeast, and hops.  Up until the late 1500’s, they didn’t even have hops, so they threw in whatever they came across to spice up their beer.

Extract and mini-mash are the two easiest ways to brew.  In both cases, the hard work of turning the grains into fermentable sugars is already done for you at a factory.  This makes things quick and fairly consistent, but it doesn’t let you really experiment.

We decided that the best way to grow in our brewing would be to step up our gear and our skill.

Our Equipment

  • New 40 qt stockpot to handle the extra volume
  • A mash tun fashioned from a Rubbermaid water cooler, mesh tubing, and way too many plumbing parts
  • Propane tank and burner to bring the wort up to boil quicker (and move outside so Angela isn’t boiled out of the house!)
Used a turkey fryer burner and a new 40qt stew pot
Rubbermaid 10gal cooler converted into our mash tun. Close up of our manifold (which filters out the grain)

Be sure to check out the rest of the photos!

Coffee and Beer

I love coffee just as much as I love beer.  Combine the two, and I can’t help but love it more.

You can sleep when you're dead!

After a night tasting Real Ale’s Coffee Porter at Ginger Man, Rick, Ethan and I decided we had to give it a go on our own.  We found a recipe online for an Espresso Imperial Stout and started brewing…..coffee.  Lots of coffee.  1.5 gallons of coffee, to be exact!  With a 12 cup coffee maker, that’s almost 3 pots of coffee!

The results: pretty tasty! We finished brewing back in early November, and the flavor is really starting to come out of it now.

Hops, the little flowers that help make beer so tasty

After weeks of not-so-subtle hints, Rick convinced Ethan and I to do an IPA next.  While the overall process was similar, the dry-hopping stage was a fun addition.  The conditioning is far longer than the other beers we did, and it’s just now to the drinking phase.  In the past, I haven’t been an IPA fan – it gave me headaches and I didn’t enjoy the extra hoppiness.  However, after acclimating ourselves with some very tasty IPAs prior to trying ours, I’m a convert!

During beer nights, we’ve also started the tradition of playing Settlers and having beer tastings.  Angela and Brittany avoid our craziness by watching Doctor Who (which is an amazing show, by the way!).

I’ll be starting a new series of postings where I write about our beer night tastings (what?!? Andy is going to post on a regular basis again?)  I also added a new page for our Brewing Log so you can see what beers are coming up.

2nd Fermentation

Just a quick post today. I’ll continue to update it throughout the week as the 2nd fermentation continues.
Last night, we transferred our baby beer into the carboy where it will live until next Monday, when we bottle.

Here’s the progress so far:

2nd Fermentation, Day 1
2nd Fermentation, Day 1
2nd Fermentation, Day 2
2nd Fermentation, Day 2
2nd Fermentation - Day 3
2nd Fermentation - Day 3
2nd Fermentation - Day 4
2nd Fermentation - Day 4

Jumping into Brewing

I love beer.  That’s really the only motivating factor to this endeavor.

My friends Dave and Kent have been homebrewing for years, but I have only been talking about it and enjoying their tasty brews.  Last weekend, Ethan and Rick finally kicked my butt into gear and we actually acted on one of the many crazy schemes we’ve concocted.

The Supplies

Saturday was shopping day.  We went to Fort Worth Homebrew, on the east side of Fort Worth.  It’s a fun, family-run establishment, and the folks there are very helpful.  We even got to sample some of their homebrews (the smoked beer was delicious!).  After stocking up on a mid-sized brewing kit, we selected a recipe for Belgium Pale Ale.  We opted for the malt extract since it’s our first time.  After this, we patted ourselves on the backs and capped the afternoon off by watching District 9 – an excellent film full of most of the Half-life 2 weapons.

Brew Day

We met up Monday night to start brewing.  Suffice it to say, it was a very easy process.  After hearing lots of warnings, we decided to overly sterilize everything.  Since I was with Ethan and Rick, but bio-sciences guys, we stuck to the protocol, erm.. recipe to the very last detail.  In fact, our specific gravity was only 1/1000th off from the baseline.

Below are the images from the brewing.  You can see the full gallery here.

The supplies
The fermentation bucket
Boiling the wort
Cooling it back down
Adding the yeast

The Result?

We aren’t sure yet!  We’re transferring over to the carboy next Monday for the 2nd fermentation, and then over to bottles a week after that.  Finally, we’ll let it age for three weeks before we get to see how we did.

However, we at least know it’s bubbling away in the bucket right now!