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!

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