Monday, June 2, 2008

A great many things have happened in the past few months.

1.) now has a utility that allows your output values to be downloaded into a spreadsheet (.csv) file. Unfortunately, I've been having quite a time getting IE to properly accept the required headers to trigger a download dialog. Regardless, I'll be making this utility accessible through the interface at some point in the next week or so. So for all of you Firefox users, I suppose that's one more reason to keep using it.

2.) I have recently become the webmaster for the BJCP. This is exciting news for me, and I anticipate it will keep me quite busy for, well, quite a while.

3.) Lastly, I'll be judging the first round of the Boston Beer, Co. Longshot competition in Boston this weekend. I'm very happy to be doing this, and I expect it will be a very good time. Perhaps I'll see you there.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I unfortunately don't have much time to write about it at the current moment, but I wanted to announce that the first version of homeBrewCalc is live. It currently outputs the following values:

  • Original Gravity (as specific gravity and degrees Plato)
  • Real Extract Finishing Gravity
  • Alcohol % by Volume
  • Alcohol % by Weight
  • BU:GU Ratio
  • IBUs (either by Tinseth's or Rager's formula)
  • Calories (per 12oz. serving)
There are some known issues so far. For example, the rendering for resolutions below 1024x768 make it unusable. I'm currently working to devise a solution for this problem.

Should you see anything else that seems odd or incorrect, please feel free to email me:
mashematician AT gmail DOT com. It would be greatly appreciated.

I'll be certain to keep you apprised of further changes/improvements.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

In the words of the The Pain Relievaz:

"I got a head full of ethanol, a fist of farnesene."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Been Workin'

While I feel as though I'm guilty of a small amount of blog abandonment, there's been good reason for it.

Over the past month or so, I've put a lot of effort into learning XHTML and CSS. I've also just begun the process of trying to wrap my head around AJAX. Why? To create a web-based homebrew calculator that doesn't rely on CGI, Perl or Flash. I want it to be as much straight-up CSS and Javascript as possible so that users won't require the latest plug-ins, load times will be fast, and the markup will validate.

To this end, I've already created what I believe will be the first official version of the BrewCalc site. It's barren as of yet, but that's because I've been working on the the design and layout for a number of weeks now. There's nothing sophisticated about it - it's quite stripped down. Now that the first portion is complete, I can begin working on creating the calculator interface. I anticipate it will take me a few months to complete at this rate, so the BrewCalc headquarters will simply be a place to download the current spreadsheet, tell others about it, and contact the author.

There are a lot of things I dream about doing with the online version. Outputting the results into a spreadsheet, or an XML file (ala BeerXML), generating graphs and charts, and being able to share the results with fellow brewers in a meaningful way are all ideas I'd like to incorporate. I also dream about creating an online community of brewers based around recipe formulation powered by Ruby on Rails. Of course, this is far in the future, but an aspiration nonetheless.

But enough daydreaming. I'll keep you posted on things as they progress.

As for the here and now, Hannah asked a few weeks ago if the perceived off-aroma that I had noticed in my last Golden Ale might be due to fusel production in bottle conditioning (at least, this is how I understood the question). To answer her first question, no, the aroma mentioned did not seem to be present pre-bottling. To answer her second question, it seems unlikely that fusels could be produced during the conditioning process as they are principally a result of yeast growth. However, all of the significant yeast growth ought to have occurred at this point. So, it seems improbable that fusel production could occur in the conditioning phase.

I'm still not sure as to the cause of this off-aroma. In fact, I'm still having difficulty discerning exactly what it is. I ought to have had some other experienced tasters done an analysis to see if there's something I'm missing. I suspect there is. I'll be sure to note if this occurs in later beers.

Be sure to let me know if you have any thoughts, or if any of my ideas about fusel production during the conditioning phase seem off. Also, let me know if you have any ideas for BrewCalc and the related projects I'd mentioned above.

Happy brewing!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Golden Ales

Ah, Golden Ales. A beer that belies its simplicity with elegance. As of yet, it's the only style that's inspired me to make several iterations.

I find this surprising in that they're often thought of as beers that aren't terribly interesting. However, they are an excellent way to gauge one's brewing progress. If you can brew a tasty beer with one or two malts, one hop variety, and a fairly neutral yeast, I'd say you're well on your way to becoming a great brewer.

The last Golden Ale I brewed had a slight off-aroma that I'm still puzzled over. I feel as though I should be able to nail it on the head as I've gone through the BJCP exam twice now and have been judging and brewing for about two and a half years now. However, I'm still at a loss to describe it to my satisfaction. My best guess is that it's a fusel alcohol aroma that I had not come across before. It smells to me as I imagine fermented corn sugar would smell. I'm not sure precisely where I got this notion, but it's the one firmly implanted in my head.

All that being said, I think I'm going to make many more Golden Ales in the future. I don't have a signature beer, but I think with some work, this could be it. There could be a whole series of them. It would also serve as a great way to really get to know my base grains and hop varietals.

The first will be Maris Otter and homegrown Centennial. I'll update as things progress.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

BrewCalc + My Return

BrewCalc has been updated...with macros! To access them, go to Tools>>Macro>>Macros...

So far there are only two. They are entitled "Modify_PPG" and "Hide_PPG" respectively. They both do precisely what one might expect. Modify_PPG enables the user to access the column containing the pertinent Points Per Gallon info for the various grain types. Hide_PPG makes it invisible once again so that the screen is less cluttered with numerical data. Hooray for the power of customization!

I bottled a Foreign Extra Stout last night that has probably spent too much time in primary. Hopefully it renders itself reasonably drinkable within the coming months.

Lastly, here are some of the more noteworthy beers that I sampled while on the west coast. I'll try to write some more about them as I get a bit more time.

Krusovice (Czech Schwarzbier)
DeProef Reinehaerdt Wild Ale (Strong Golden-style w/Brettanomyces)
DeProef Saison Imperiale
Anchor Porter on hand pump
Russian River Pliny the Elder
Russian River Blind Pig
New Belgium 1554
Moonlight 60 to Life
Moonlight Death & Taxes
Russian River Perdition
Stone 11th Anniversary
Pizza Orgasmica IPA
Bear Republic Racer 5
SpeakEasy Double Daddy
Bear Republic Red Rocket

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Out of Town

I'm going to do some vacationing on the west coast this week. I'll be sure to try to take notes on anything that I have out there. That being said, don't expect much here in the coming week.