Saturday, March 31, 2012

To Masticate or Macerate

When it comes to food that spoils... especially those foods that I find full of flavor and nostalgia... I tend to want to keep them around forever.

Frozen whole strawberries are better than ice cubes any day of the world! I use them in everything from Coke and Mtn Dew to Rum or Whiskey. I just like using them... and you get a little sweet treat in your glass when you’re done.

I love to can things. Jelly and jams are my favorite... as would be indicated by the 20 or so jars that are left of pear jam that I made in 2009.

As with everything, I tend to collect things more than most people. This is a true flaw that I’m slowly working on.  A collection of aged jams isn’t going to do anybody any good... ever... and I know this! Same goes with frozen junk.

I froze a BUNCH of peaches last year, mostly because we ran out of jars, and after I’d spend an entire paycheck on canning supplies, my wife put the reality back in my life.

She didn’t forbid me from buying another six cases of jars, she just lovingly pointed out that a case of jars was about the same price as 12 - 18 bottle of frosty craft beer..... She didn’t need to say any more.

Fast forward to last weekend, when we (She) took on the twice annual chore of cleaning out the three freezers. A bag or two of sliced strawberries and a few bags of halved peaches were found.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! I knew they were there... but I was “Collecting” them! Not hoarding them like she said! Regardless of your verb choice, I knew I needed to either pitch them to the chickens, or do something with them!

I made an off the cuff maceration of 151 rum and the strawberries. Nothing fancy, just rum and berries in a jar. Much to my surprise, it took about a day and a half for the rum to extract the colors and flavor from the berries, leaving them a nasty bleached white color.

After multiple passes through the trusty coffee filters, it was, as judged by me, ready to bottle.

But WAIT A DAMN MINUTE!

We can’t JUST bottle it up? A healthy shot of gingered simple syrup has to be added first!

I must say that even Jessica liked it, both strait and as a liqueur mixed with some Mtn Dew.
Working from this simple little experiment, I’ve decided to double up!

The strawberry version was perhaps 2 cups of frozen strawberries and half a bottle of Rum. No records have been kept, and if these batches work, no records will be kept (Also strange for me)! This will be a, learned from doing, off the cuff, throw it together and hope for the best, sort of recipe. Kinda like Mom’s Chocolate chip cookies! (She gets out a bowl, a spoon and just starts pouring “About that much” of everything in!

So, tonight, as much grief as I know I’m going to catch for it... added 1 large box of Raspberries to my “Squatty Jar” and about 1/4 bottle of Everclear (Left from the Absinthe) and filled it up with Vodka.
 

Forgive me for using Vodka (The Rum of the North)! I beg forgiveness from every TIKI god and Rum XP the world over!


To the “Tall Jar” I added 4 frozen, halved peaches, the rest of the Everclear and the rest of the Vodka (Which started as a 1.75L)

They both will need sweetened before bottling, I am thinking more gingered simple syrup for the Peach version, but the Raspberry may just get a dash of lime juice and regular syrup.

I have no idea how strong these end up, as there isn’t any (Easy) way to find out. The juices and sugars from the fruit throw off any chance of taking a gravity reading and screw up my math. Then adding syrups and stuff.... Forget it! Just drink it carefully!

There is plenty of stirring, shaking, mixing, mashing, straining and filtering in my future, but who knows, It may be great in the end!

~Cheers

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Dreaming

What is better than spring?

The grass is greening up, the birds are singing and I’m ready for some outside fun!

Well... That’s almost how it is.

In reality, the birds are driving me nuts, the lawn is in a shambles and there is a metric shit ton of work to be done outside!

Gonna take some work to get back to this!
I even seem to have forgotten how to run the stupid grill! I mean... I know HOW to work it, but I damn sure ended up with 4’ flames coming off of the steaks! Guess I’ve got some brushing up to do!

So... What’s happening in your yard? Do you have chores that drive you to drink?

How about the lawn? Is it your pride and joy.... or the bane of your summer evenings?

How about the garden? Oh... The garden! Don’t know why I’m so excited about it, but I’ll be dragging the covered rack out of the basement and planting all kinds of stuff in it soon.

I’ll be excited as a school boy for a few weeks, but by mid July, I’ll have let the weeds take over and you won’t even be able to find the sprinkler!

All of that is in the future, and for now.... I think I’ll grab a beer!

~Cheers!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Colorado Cracks down on DUI!

As the craft beer and spirit business booms in Colorado, so does the bad judgement of some folks enjoying the craft industry!

As most of you know, craft beer is typically much higher in alcohol than the average can of BMC (Bud Miller or Coors) and critics like to think that this can lead drinkers of this fine art into driving when they shouldn't!

None of us want our craft beer hobby to endanger anyone else, nor do we want to shine a bad light on the craft beer industry, so I post this news alert for you to read as a reminder to make your plans before you are feeling 10 feet tall and bullet proof!

Drink safe people!

~Cheers!

Denver, CO –Luck ran out for more than 424 Colorado drivers who got behind the wheel after too much green beer over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday weekend. As these individuals learn about the consequences of a DUI, the state’s Persistent Drunk Driver (PDD) Committee has released the top ten counties for DUI cases filed in 2011.


Image courtesy of www.mutineermagazine.com

Among the top ten counties for DUI offenses in 2011 are Denver (3,123), El Paso (2,902), Adams (2,892), Arapahoe/Aurora (2,603), Jefferson (2,023), Weld (1,334), Larimer (1,083), Boulder (1,073), Mesa (886), and Douglas (847). Other county data is available on the www.NODUIColorado.org website, which was launched in December. The website, developed by state agencies on the PDD Committee, serves as a resource to help Coloradans make safer choices before getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or other drugs.

“We have identified these areas as hot spots for DUIs. Law enforcement agencies in these areas are committed to increased enforcement,” said Glenn Davis, PDD Committee member and manager of Impaired Driving Programs at the Colorado Department of Transportation.

A record 114 law enforcement agencies around the state took part in ‘The Heat is On’ enforcement for the St. Patrick’s Day weekend resulting in 424 arrests. The highest arrests occurred in Denver (48), Colorado Springs (36) and Aurora (29). There were four traffic fatalities over the holiday weekend, three were alcohol-related. For arrest numbers of other agencies, visit www.HeatIsOnColorado.com.

“We had a record number of officers on our roads looking for impaired drivers over the holiday weekend, and more than 400 people were caught drinking and driving,” said Colonel James Wolfinbarger, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Despite all of our efforts, unfortunately three people were killed due to impaired driving. No matter what time of the year impaired driving will not be tolerated and you will be arrested.”

In addition to the DUI filings, the website aims to provide a wealth of information and DUI-related resources for at-risk individuals, family members and friends needing support, professionals working in alcohol and drug prevention and even policymakers who need to get up-to-speed on DUI topics. Other useful features include downloadable Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) phone apps, brochures and a step-by-step healthy habits plan to help avoid future alcohol and drug-related impairment problems.

Image from pjmedia.com
 “Our goal is to educate the public before a DUI arrest even occurs - to give them information on alternative transportation options and to encourage them to plan ahead with a sober designated driver,” continued Davis. “But unfortunately that’s not always the case. Another portion of the website provides information on what happens after a DUI arrest, with information on court costs, fines and steps someone must take to get their license back after a DUI conviction.”


The PDD Committee was formed as part of the Persistent Drunk Driver Act of 1998. Several state agencies make up the Committee, including the Colorado Department of Human Services, State
Judicial Branch, Department of Transportation and the Department of Revenue. The committee is charged with developing and implementing programs to deter persistent drunk and drug-related driving, as well as provide public education. A persistent drunk driver is defined as someone with two or more alcohol or drug related driving violations or someone with a BAC of .17 or higher, even if it’s their first offense.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Family Vacation?

As I was perusing the internet for vacation tips (You can never have too many) I stumbled across the tips in today's post.

 I tend to write like a guy that is always taking a couples vacations and don’t much pay any mind to the kids. But the fact is, I’ve got two kids, and so do a LOT of you! If you want to get the most enjoyment out of them, you've got to show them the world!

Beer guys tend to have three things in common. We all like beer (Pretty Obvious!) and we all have hot wives! But the tendency with hot wives.... Is that eventually... You’re gonna have some kids come along!

So if you’ve got a few bundles of joy and you think that your vacation fun is over, think again!

Regardless of the fun that I’ve had partying it up in Key West or chilling on the beach with Craft Beer and Rum in St. Thomas, nothing compares to the joys of watching my kids discover what the ocean has to offer!

So when you take off for the family vacation this summer, keep these following tips in mind!

Survival tips for your family vacation:
Keep a snack stash. Hunger is the happy traveler's kryptonite, as moods can go south quickly when you're in need of a snack. The type of snacks you choose is also important, as snacks overloaded with sugar might not help you feel satisfied for long - and sugary snacks can also leave your kids with lots of energy and nowhere to burn it off. Try stocking up on healthier snacks that are convenient for on-the-go situations like pretzels. They come in a wide variety of shapes and flavors, including 100-calorie packs and gluten-free varieties, offering something for everyone on board.
Pretzel Pieces, which range in flavor from Buffalo Ranch to the new Bacon Cheddar are an especially good option for crumb- and mess-free snacking.
* Take a clean-up kit. Hand sanitizer, napkins and hand wipes can help keep everyone - and the inside of your car - clean during your trip. If you have younger children, keeping a bag with a change of clothes easily accessible can help you weather any bad spills or accidents.
* Don't forget the fun. Car games can make the time fly by for children. If you're driving, games like car bingo and the license plate game are fun ways to help your child discover the scenery. To combine food and fun, use pretzel bits as bingo pieces or a tasty game of tic-tac-toe. Bringing pads for doodling is never a bad idea either, and washable markers are always a good option since they won't easily break like crayons or colored pencils might.
* Make it easy to get some shut-eye. If you have a longer trip planned, bringing smaller travel pillows and blankets to help your passengers rest when they get sleepy can help keep everyone happy. You may also want to consider sun-blocking screens that still allow the driver to see out the window - although a comfortable pair of sunglasses for the little ones can also help.
*Keep travel-friendly technology handy. Smartphones and tablets make great travel companions for adults, giving you access to helpful maps, restaurant reviews, tourism sites, twitter and BigKahunaBrew.com. You can also scan the Web for travel-related games for the kids.

I hope you all have some sort of trip planned for the summer, and if not, I hope that this will inspire you to plan one!

Remember... Nobody ever dies wishing that they’d traveled less, and the memories you create with your kids will last them a lifetime!!

~Cheers!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

6 Months till Key West!

Today, it’s cloudy, raining and cold! It may be the third day of spring, but it’s not feeling very summer like.

We can always use the moisture, so I’m not complaining, just beach dreaming!

I am wondering if any of you are coming to the Key West Crawl with us this year?

You know we had a blast last year, and this thing is only growing and getting better.

We are now six months from the crawl, so it's time to start planning your trip to paradise with us! The specifics (So you can get time off to come with us) are:

Date: September 22, 2012
Time: 2pm-? (as long as you can make it!)
Location: Key West, FL – Duval St.
Price: $30 (includes shirt, drink specials & charity donation)
Tickets:
www.teamcocktail.com

This year, we are partying to help Reef Relief. Reef Relief is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to improving and protecting our coral reef ecosystem with the goals of increase public awareness of the importance and value of living coral reef ecosystems and increasing scientific understanding and knowledge of living coral reef ecosystems.

As someone who grew up SCUBA diving and studying the marine environment, I can assure you that there is plenty to learn, and the public can very easily do more harm than good, just by being uneducated.

That’s why I encourage you all to stop by the Team Cocktail site and order a shirt even if you’re not going to come to the crawl. A portion of the tickets and t-shirts will go directly to the Reef Relief organization.... and you’ll look great while helping this worthy cause!

If you are going to be lucky enough to come along, you can look forward to partying with me and lots of other great folks at world famous bars such as: Cork and Stogie, Pearl’s Patio, Rum Bar, Flying Monkey, Smokin’ Tuna, Cowboy Bill’s, Irish Kevins, Willie T’s, Virgilio’s, Kelly’s Caribbean Bar & Grill,  Captain Tony’s Saloon

http://www.lifeonthegulf.com/media.asp
There will be live music, free drinks, and plenty of fun in the sun with the beer and the rum!

I hope all of you can come along to support this great cause and have a great time!

~Cheers

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We can Dig It!

Ever have a day where things just don't work?

I started the evening off by diddling with a, so-called, tasting cork, which I promptly broke off in the neck of the bottle I was trying to use it in.

Pieces of junk! I’ve never had one work right, yet I still feel the need to try.
Add to a day like that, my worst case of spring fever I’ve ever had and my brain is pretty much shot!

All I can think about is all of the things I’ll wish I’d done at the end of the summer!

So as I dig through the fridge looking for what to share with you all, I couldn’t help but think of the things that I’d be wanting to bring my mind to the summer time!

New Belgium Dig, a 5.6% pale ale, is just the ticket!

Clean an crisp, pouring as you’d expect, this beer has a nose of fruit and hops with a very mild malt character.

The New Belgium web page boasts the Sorachi Ace hops. Now, I’ve not been lucky enough to roll in a pile of the Sorachi Ace.... But I’m pretty sure it would be like rolling through a cloud in heaven!

The flavor is mild as it could be! There is a very tropical fruit presence with lemon and Mango. There is a bit of pineapple and some spicy hops.

The mild flavor is something that’s been sorely missing in most of the pale ales that I’ve had lately.

Too many of the beers that I’ve been drinking lately have been flooded with hops that more closely resemble an IPA than American Pale.

The malt background balances the hops perfectly, keeping the bitterness at bay without being sweet.

The bitterness level is absolutely spot on for something I’d drink all night long! It’s not so bitter as to leave your throat craving a glass of water, and it’s just as easy to drink once it’s warmed up as it is ice cold.

I can’t say enough about how tasty and easy this brew is to drink. I could easily call this the best Pale Ale I’ve had in a very long time.

The only complaint that I could even conceive about this little beer, is that I would really have liked to see it around 4% abv.... just so I could get an extra pour in before making an ass of myself.

This is really a phenomenal example of what a summer ale can be.

I’d keep talking about it, but I’m about to need another one, and I’m sure you’re growing tired of hearing me ramble about how great it is.

If you find a few of these in your chill chest, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

~Cheers

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Absinthe Part 2

All Right Friends! Let’s have some fun!

Thursday, I showed you how I make Kahuna Absinthe out of a kit from the masterful folks at Green Devil.

If you’ve hit the web site for Green Devil and tried to order a kit and couldn’t get it done, I have a work around for that too.

I’m told that they are having stock issue due to some legal paperwork.... about the name if you can believe it.

But, I’ve had some luck finding it on the hombrew sites. The kit that I made for the photo shoot was ordered from Homebrewing.org and was here in a few business days. The shipping was a bit steep, but they had the product and I wanted it..

Now that you have had a bit of time to think about it and research it, I’m sure you’ve found several GRAND ways to serve your delicious green beverage.

You can put a shot of it in a glass, balance an Absinthe spoon on the rim and slowly drizzle cold water over a sugar cube to dissolve it.

Not for me please. I want to drink the thing not spend all night watching you make it!

You have likely seen the folks that dip the sugar cube in the Absinthe and light it on fire!

While this provides a bit of caramel flavor from the burnt sugar.... I paid good money for that alcohol... Don’t go burning the damn bar down lighting it on fire!

No, I think it’s time for another “Kahuna Method!”

Since I don’t sweeten before bottling, you’ll need something to keep the bitterness in check. I like light Agave syrup. It’s available in almost every grocery store and has a much cleaner flavor than honey.

You could use simple syrup, but I never use granulated sugar. It’s just too damn hard to get dissolved!

Squirt about a tablespoon of the Agave syrup in your glass. I prefer a brandy snifter, but a rocks glass would work just fine.

Pour in a shot.... or a little more (Kanuna Method) and swirl the glass or stir with a bar spoon. The alcohol will dissolve the syrup in no time.

Next I top off with ICE COLD water! I get mine from the top shelf of the refrigerator where the Britta Pitcher sits.

You could add some ice cubes, but with this drink I like to watch it change. As with good beer, the flavor profile really opens up as it warms up.

When it’s cold, the only things you’ll be tasting is the black licorice from the Star Anise and a touch of the Fennel. But as it warms up, you’ll begin to find the mint and several other very subtle flavors including a citrus note and you will begin to notice the bitterness of the Wormwood on the back of your palate and tongue.

I’m sure there are a thousand ways to enjoy this drink and probably several cocktails to put it in. But on the occasions when I drink Absinthe, this is how I do it.

I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable day of green, and I hope some of you get to enjoy an

Absinthe instead of a gawd awful green tinted foul tasting mass produced Barley Pop!

May the Luck ‘O the Irish be with you, and be safe! Remember.... It’s like Amateur Night out there!

~Cheers

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let's go a bit mad!

Today I want to talk to you all about a “Green Drink” that’s got nothing to do with food coloring in a cheap beer, nor does it have to do with homebrew that hasn’t been in the bottle long enough.
Today, after several requests, I want to share with you my method for making Absinthe.

Since it’s invention in 1797, Absinthe has enjoyed a grand reputation for making people go insane. It is even said that Absinthe was what drove Van Gogh mad and made him cut off his ear!

 I would argue that point, but since I’ve been making and drinking this stuff for a few years now.... and some of you have met me in person... I’ll pass on that argument.

I will say that in the 1800’s, people had a very dangerous problem called ignorance.

There were folks drinking Absinthe at a rate of a bottle per day.... That’s likely to make you insane even if it were just vodka.

For people who indulge that way, there is a saying that hold true. Stupidity has it’s own reward!

You have all heard the stories of seeing Pixies and other wild hallucinations from the psychotropic properties of the wormwood. I am here to tell you that it’s possible.... Maybe.

I seriously doubt that you’d manage to experience any psychedelic influence with the quantities you could consume. We are talking about an alcohol that is going to run 67% ABV in the final product, and you just can’t drink that much of it!

There are several bottles of Absinthe on the shelf at the local bottle shop, but all of them are in the $40 range, and none of them have very good reviews online.

Because of the USDA restrictions on Artemisia Absinthium... commonly known as wormwood, it is illegal to sell products for consumption that contain the herb, therefore, you are assured that the $40 bottles do not contain the wormwood. *** Please Note that this herb is NOT controlled by the FDA***

The workaround? Make your own with a Green Devil Absinthe Kit.

Green Devil Absinthe Kit and a Liter each of Everclear and Vodka
The only thing the kit doesn’t come with is a 1 ltr bottle of Everclear and 1 ltr of Vodka... and a big enough jar to make it in.

I suppose a purest would point out that this kit does not produce true Absinthe because it is not distilled after the maceration. I will point out that it’s cost effective, fun to make, and tastes wonderful!

There are a few things we need to talk about before we begin.

Safety First! This shit is more flammable than Coleman Lantern Fuel... So BE CAREFUL!

Also, I need you all to take an oath. Raise your right hand and pledge to Kahuna... “I will never let plastic of any sort touch my Absinthe!”

This means glass or stoneware ONLY people. And remove the gaskets on the jars! Everclear is 95% ABV, and that is enough to very quickly leach nasty chemicals out of plastics, so don’t even chance it!

NO PLASTIC! EVER! That means take off the gaskets on your jars!
The kit comes with two big tea bag looking sacks full of herbs. Leave them closed.
One is about twice the size of the other and that’s the one you’ll need first.

The kit recommends soaking the first bag for five days and the second bag for three, but that’s not the Kahuna Way!

I split the batch into two jars. One bag in each jar for 4 days. This gives the same damn results, a few days faster.

Splitting the batch allows for faster completion.
It’s that simple. Just squeeze the bags when you take them out and you are good to go!

When you bottle, just line a funnel (Metal please) with a coffee filter and that will take out the flakes of herbs that are left in the mixture.

Come on back and see me on Saturday when I will share with you the “Kahuna Method” for drinking your newest addition to the liquor cabinet!

~Cheers!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tweason'ale

The Time Changed!

Now I’m all messed up! The sun hasn’t made it’s way up from the east when my alarm starts going off, the day seems to take FOREVER... and I’m tired like none other!

Normally, I’d call it Jet Lag and a slight hangover, but this week it’s all due to Daylight Saving Time.
I’m not the type to want it removed from our lives forever! If that happened, what would I have to bitch about to open this blog post?

No, I look at this as more of an opportunity! The evenings are useful again, the weather is changing and believe it or not, the grass is starting to get a green tinge.... Maybe it’s just excited about St. Patrick's Day! (Don't forget to check in on Saturday for the special GREEN POST)

No doubt about it, summer is well on it’s way and I can’t say a bad thing about it! Come’on Baby!

So today I’ve got a decidedly summer brew to share with you guys.

Dogfish Head Tweason’Ale

It’s gluten-free, made with honey and has strawberries in it! What else could you ask for?
 
At 6% ABV and pouring light and fizzy, I could definitely call this a session ale. I can tell right away that it’s not going to be weighing me down or filling me up. 

It’s got a deep copper color that certainly reflects it’s strawberry heritage.
 
The head is bright white and dissipates quickly to a subtle layer of constant white that just coats the top of the beer.

The smell is of honey and strawberries... DUH!

Tasting this beer is a bit of a surprise. It’s got a VERY light mouthfeel, more like a hard cider than beer. The Buckwheat gives a strange tangy malt character but it’s pretty well hidden behind the strange strawberry cider character.
 
The honey and strawberry are a pair that I’ve had in my glass before. The thing I didn’t really like about my Strawberry mead was that the strawberry took on that cidery funky musty flavor and totally skipped the taste-bud popping, mouthwatering fresh juicy flavor of a strawberry.
 
I am tasting that same flavor in this beer, and while it’s not particularly bad, it’s just a bit of a letdown.
 
Perhaps I was expecting a miracle from the only man I’m 100% sure my wife would leave me for.
 
I know how strawberry turns out when you mix it with alcohol, I’ve been doing it for years! But somehow I expected this to be better!
 
The unfortunate thing for me, is I expect sweet things to be sweet. Simple as that. And when you mix something like a strawberry (Sweet), with Honey (Sweet and thick), and present my palate with those flavors in a thin dry fizzy medium... I’m just not impressed.
 
There is nothing wrong with this brew for sure, and I’m betting that a LOT of people will rave about it. In fact, some of you may be calling me dirty names right now..... (I like comments.... even if you’re calling me names.)
 
I will not be throwing the rest of the bottles out, and actually, I am looking forward to sucking one down in about 4 months when it’s 105 degrees out and I’ve been sweating and mowing for an hour... But not today.
 
For me, for now, I’m actually giving this one to the wife and headed for a big glass of ice water.
 
~Cheers!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Vinegar: revisited

On February 6, 2011 I wrote about a vinegar project I was embarking upon. I had grand plans of making the best vinegar that the world had ever seen! Well, honestly, I wasn’t sure what would happen, I just wanted to know if I could make something that resembled Vinegar.

I made two batches, one with Ed Wort’s Apfelwein and one with peach wine that I made specifically for the vinegar project.

I used Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar with live “Mother” for my starter.

The Apfelwein version never really made a healthy thick blob, but boy did the peach version make mushrooms.

I don’t know for sure what we’ll call the blob, the Kombucha folks call it a SCOBY. (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) Some of them call it a “Mushroom” which it is NOT. And the Vinegar mongers call it a “Mother of Vinegar”

Three distinct disks of "Mother" formed in the bottle.
Whatever you call it, the 1.75 ltr bottle of wine grew about 3 disks roughly 1/2 inch thick and as big around as the bottle.

This science experiment has been sitting atop the beer fridge, along with two vessels of Kombucha for the last year, and last night, I decided to try it before throwing it away.... WHICH IS ALWAYS THE RIGHT ANSWER!

I poured a tiny bit into a glass and it smelled pretty good. Knowing that I don’t really taste things right when they are full strength, I mixed about 50:50 with cold water and gave it a sip.

WOWZA! What do you know, I made vinegar! And really REALLY good vinegar at that!
With all the character and acidity of apple cider vinegar, but with a fairly forward peach nose and flavor. I can’t wait to get this on a salad!

I think it would be great as just vinegar and oil. That’s been a favorite for years, and this seems like the perfect vinegar to use.

Never being one to go simple, I decided a basic vinaigrette was in order.

My dressing currently consists of 1 1/2 cups EVOO, 1/2 cup of my vinegar, two big pinches of “Italian Seasoning Mix” about six grinds of black pepper, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of sugar.

So what did I do with that healthy little slab of mother? Why... make more vinegar of course!

Conveniently enough, I had some golden strong ale with no hops that has just finished fermenting.

This kind of “Convenience” takes some planning to be sure, but it’s usually not hard to do around here. I put it right into the same old rum bottle with the mother. I poured fairly hard to get it some o2.

The Acetobacter needs oxygen to convert alcohol into acetic acid, so no lid or airlock. I just used a doubled over piece of cheese cloth held on top with a rubber band. The trick is to keep the bugs out and the o2 flowing in.

So if you’re thinking about making vinegar, I have to say that it’s a lot of fun, and very rewarding when the product is ready. I don’t know if it would have taken six weeks or six months, but after a year, it certainly is good to go!

You can make good vinegar by keeping the last bit of wine from dinner and when you have a good bit, say, a liter or so, go ahead and add a half cup of organic vinegar with mother and let it sit.
If you’re a homebrewer, keep back a half gallon of wort before you add hops, ferment it, then add the vinegar mother.

The healthy "Mother" can be used to start more batches
Some of the Kombucha people I know from Twitter will argue my method, but I’ve had success making the “Fermented Tea” with my Vinegar Mothers.

If you have a healthy mother from a previous batch and an inclination to make Kombucha, just add the “Mother” to gallon of tea with sugar. It doesn’t work quite the same, but it somehow makes a very vinegar like product that can be sweetened, carbonated and drank over ice. Kombucha can be very refreshing or it can be awful! Just like all of these “experimental” projects.

My theory is that the sugar slowly ferments and the bacteria immediately converts it to acetic acid. I have nothing but about 15 gallons of experience to back up that theory.

Whether you are making Kombucha or Vinegar, sanitation is of paramount concern. This is a great time to break out your bottle of brewing sanitizer. I use StarSan and have had great luck with it.

With all the associated health benefits of vinegar, and the fun this project has provided, I’m afraid that there may be a bottle “In Process” on top of the fridge for some time to come!

~Cheers

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mental Images!

Day before yesterday was quite a nice day, Sunny and mid 70’s! Then in true Colorado-Style... BAM! Rain, Fog, Sleet and Snow!
 Paying no attention to the reality at hand, I dawned my short pants and my parka and hit the road as usual on a Wednesday.

If you drive long enough, you will eventually find your “Auto Pilot” mode. That is where your conscious mind is still driving, but you go somewhere else!

The cool thing about highways in this country is that they pretty much all look alike. That center-line could be the center of Wolf Creek Pass in central Colorado, A LONG ass stretch of 180 in Souther New Mexico, or A1A.... Headed down the keys! That makes the mental images come a little easier for me!

With a mix of Jimmy, Mishka, Zac Brown and Barefoot Davis churning on the ‘ol CD player.... Yes, my pickup is old enough to have a CD player! Stop giving me shit.... it’s not like I still listen to 8-tracks.... much

Anyway, tunes a-going and my mind adrift, I couldn’t help but think about the next Conched in Key West Bar Crawl.

This is the event that made me some mighty fine friends, helped out some folks in need and provided a cubic mess of entertainment!

But I wasn’t thinking about the party nights, although that was the majority of the trip last year! I was thinking of the rest, relaxation and mental imagery that gets me through the rough days in Colorado!

Don’t get me wrong here! I love living where I do, and I like doing WHAT we do. It allows us to go places and do things that lots of people never will... We just have to be back by Monday!

Colorado has enough beauty to fulfill an entire life’s needs, but I have that damn need to see the sea, and off we go again! Plus, we gotta get to know the place, cause when I’m ready to retire... I’ll be damned if I’m going to live somewhere that people know what a snow plow looks like... and just like Seinfeld’s parents, Florida is likely to be that place!

Now like I’ve said before, I think you all should come down to Key West and party it up with us in September, but if you do, I caution you!

It is VERY easy to over-do things! When the bars stay open until 4 a.m. and you’re with some “Seasoned Pro’s” like Mike from Rum Connection and Carl and Shawn from Coastlines.... Let’s just say your morning is going to be a bit rough! Drink some water and suck it up though because there is beauty waiting for you!

A morning walk on the beach and some exploration of the local sights is always the way to begin a day, but don’t forget to eat! You’ll be needing it because when the likes of Rum Shop Ryan and Lyndsey, Trey and the rest of the gang from Team Cocktail show up... a day later and fresh as spring chicks.... You’re going to have another late night!

But the nights in Key West always start with a beautiful sunset!

And when it feels like the night is just getting started, you realize you’ve stayed out WAY the hell past your bed time and 4 a.m. is just around the corner.... again!

But when the sun pops up, and it will, eat! Want to know why? Because Bloody Mary’s are already ordered!

After a bit of food and some light shopping at the tourist trap gift stores.... I’m a sucker for them.... You’ll realize that the official Bar Crawl starts in just a few hours!

Good Luck! We’re not talking amateur night here people!

These are the things that I think about when I’m driving down the desolate highways and side streets (Not as poetic as by-ways, but more accurate) of Eastern Colorado.

If you’re interested in joining my diluted reality.... Check out the official Facebook Page for the crawl and follow @KWCrawl on Twitter.

~Cheers

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Disorderly Conduct!

Unfortunately, not everything in the Kahuna world is all organized and well thought out.... especially over the last few days!

For whatever reason, Jessica decided that it was time to kick the bedroom remodel into overdrive. That is to say begin it.

Some time ago perhaps 2008 or so, we decided that our bedroom would be our tropical oasis in Colorado.

Unfortunately, my overzealous angst to “Get it done” and Jessica’s lack of understanding what I had in mind, we ended up with a room with Canary Yellow and electric teal walls. Not exactly what either of us had in mind! It was more of a “Bahamas Rum Bar” than “Quaint Love shack in the keys”

So we’ve been collecting nicknacks and treasures from all over, you know, for when we “re-do” our bedroom.

Well it has all come to a head and with Jessica working day and night getting the room ready to paint, catching up on 100% of the laundry and all the other great stuff she does.... I’m kinda feeling a bit like an invalid watching her work.

So, what do we drink during all of this crazyness? Well, in honor of our tropical beach themed  project and the end of our Jamaican flag room... Red Stripe! And a damn big bottle at that.

It seems like everyone has a Red Stripe story to tell. Either you’ve never had it... and your story is pretty short, or you’ve got some sort of wild night in Jamaica, a holly tear in the south of Texas or maybe it’s just a lazy afternoon on the beach.

My story begins in Jamaica. For the longest time, that was the only place I’d seen it. But where this plot thickens is when I admit that I was a lad of just 13 years old.

Red Strip appeared to my youthful and inexperienced eye, as perhaps the quintessential experience for travelers visiting the beautiful island.

After a day or two of haggling with the parental unit, I talked my way into my very first Red Stripe beer with dinner. I’ll never forget it!

The meal consisted of curried goat, jerked chicken and my glorious bottle of the nectar of the caribbean.

Well, we are far from Jamaica and I’m even farther from 13 years-old, but I still enjoy the stubby bottled brew.

When I need a beer, not a high-falut’n craft brew that only comes in a 4 pack or bomber, but a good o’l fashion barley pop, I very often enjoy Red Stripe.

The crisp grainy flavor of this fairly full bodied lager is always refreshing and still tasty enough to satisfy my high-Falut’n taste buds!

There is that “Caribbean Twang” that I’ve made mention of in other brews such as Banks from Barbados, Carib, and even the beers from St.Thomas Brewers. I don’t know what it is, and you could easily call it an imperfection, but it’s something I’ve come to expect and enjoy!

Either way, I dig Red Stripe! If you’ve never had it, try it! If you’ve had it and like it.... Cheers!

If you have your own Red Stripe Story, I’d LOVE to hear about it in the comments!

Now... Off to see if I can help with some heavy lifting.... OR I could just go look for a bottle of Reggae Rum!

~Cheers

P.S.
Gimme a woot woot if you can get behind the Reggae and Red Stripe!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Feeling Lucky?


I was shopping for some new beers to share with you all and I stumbled across a bottle that I had to have.

Not because I’d had it before. And not because it had a great buzz happening in the social media realms. Quite the opposite in-fact.

I’d never heard a peep on this brew. I have never seen it on a store shelf, and given the uniqueness of the bottle, I’m pretty sure I’d remember it!

The Lucky Buddha is a 4.8% lager from the Zhejiang province in China, comes in an emerald green bottle shaped like Buddha. The thing honestly reminds me of an early ’80’s aftershave bottle.

Pouring thin and without head, I was pretty sure of what I was getting into here. The off copper color is actually quite pleasing for a beer that I expected to look like water.

The nose is of rice and a hint of unrecognizable hop. There is a sweet note that reminds me of when we kept grain for the chickens.

Almost wanting to hold my nose as I took the first sip, I’m pleased to report that I have “Green Bottle Beer” that IS NOT SKUNKED! WOW! That just doesn’t happen very often!

The flavor is a relatively nice mix of corn and other grainy flavors. The mouth feel is quite different than indicated by the pour, and actually has some body to it. This is not really a “Light” lager, but I wouldn’t call it full bodied either.

The sweet citrus finish is quite a unique thing. It eventually gives way to a metallic burnt toast sort of thing.

Letting the beer warm up doesn’t help at all, and actually increases my mental image of a half pitcher of beer on a bar as the sun comes up. It’s not stale, but it has some nuances that make me think “STALE BEER”.

I’m not really sure what is going on with the supply line of this beer, but I suppose it’s an interesting story. It’s brewed in China, by an Australian company and imported by another company based in Carlsbad, CA.

The companies website, luckydrinkco.com is nauseating at best, gives little to no information on their beer and makes a bunch of noise. My favorite part is where it touts that Lucky Buddha is brewed with “Drinkable water” from a lake. WOW! This IS premium beer!

Ugh.

Well, It was only $1.88 for the bottle, I only bought one, and you just helped me drink it. So I would not say that all is lost, but I wouldn’t say this is a good beer either! On the Kahuna Scale of 1-10, I’d give this one a solid “Meh!”

The bottle is easily the best part of this beer, but I wouldn’t turn one down if offered. I just wouldn’t probably buy another one.

~Cheers

Thursday, March 1, 2012

No Name Beer Cocktail

Today we are again exploring a mixture of Beer and Rum. This time in a cocktail that I stumbled upon by accident. I would love to tell you it was the result of months of research and my extensive knowledge in flavor chemistry, but it’s not.

I simply had a few blackberries left over from a liqueur making project and tossed them into my rum.

They were tasty, but now it needed something sweet.

As the night progressed I ended up with a drink that was fresh, flavorful and pig simple.

I would give it some great name like Blackbeard's Revenge or something, but I’m not that clever, nor do I have the knowledge to make sure that I’m not stepping on anyone else’s recipe. So I guess we will call it the Kahuna’s Blackberry Brew Tail? I guess if I could number it if you guys don’t like that name! I’ll call it 20120221. Whatever. No name is good for me!

Any way, as with any food or beverage you make, quality ingredients come first. Don’t try making this with some crap rum you get in a plastic “Traveler.” Use good rum, good berries and make your own syrup. Your reward will be a great drink that you will be proud to serve your friends!

Here’s my recipe:
2 oz Beach Bar Rum (Sub in any great white rum)
1 oz Gingered Simple Syrup
10 fresh Blackberries
1 Boulevard Wheat beer.
Shaker pint full of ice.

Muddle the berries in a shaker pint and simple syrup rum and Ice. Top with Wheat beer and give a few hard shakes.  ***If you don’t have a shaker, just stir it really good before you add all the beer***
No need to strain this one. 

That’s really all there is to it.

“But wait Kahuna, How do I make Gingered Simply Syrup?” shouted a voice from the back row.
Okay. Here is how I do that too:

In a sauce pan, add 2 cups of organic sugar, 2 cups of water and half a jar of candied Ginger (1 oz) and bring to boil, then let cool 120 degrees. Filter through brass coffee filter or cheese cloth and bottle.

So that’s really all there is to this refreshing beer based cocktail with Rum and fresh fruit.

I hope you like it as much as I do.

~Cheers

The adventure never stops

The adventure never stops
with the Buck Reilly series