Thursday, April 18, 2013

Free Agent Fan

Fair warning.. this post has nothing to do with beer. It does however pertain to something most of us enjoy our beer with.... sports.

Firstly... I have been a fan of sports my entire life. It doesn't even matter what the sport is, I can always find something about each sport that fascinates me and gets me interested.

Having said that, my first love was baseball. Playing it, watching it, talking about it, reading about it.

Many kids in Canada first love hockey, and it's the first sport they play. Well, from what my Dad told me, he asked me if I wanted to play hockey as a kid, and I said no. For the record, I don't remember that conversation so I was probably pretty young, and I'm sure my father wasn't totally upset about my decision as hockey always has been an expensive sport for parents to fund. I played baseball. I also bowled, 5 pin, because I had to be doing something in the winter when the only other option in my hometown was hockey.

My favourite baseball team? The Detroit Tigers. Why? Because they were on TV when the local US stations in my house were from Detroit. I loved the Tigers. I worshiped Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker. I'm also a devoted Tigers fan. I've never deviated from them, even when they were posting the worst record in baseball for a couple of years. They are my team.

Ok so... my other major sports teams.... Well, my second passion was football. When I first sat down and watched an entire football game it was Super Bowl XX, Patriots vs Bears. The Pats logo at the time caught my attention and I declared myself a Pats fan on that day... of course they ended up getting trounced in the game, but I held strong to my declaration.

How much do I love football? The Tigers are my first team, but the Pats can't even be ranked second, so I guess they're my 1.1. I loved playing football in the school yard with the other kids, I even chose my high school based on the fact that it was the only one that had a football program. That program got cut a year after I started high school and my options were closed. I remember coach telling me I had to play on his team my freshman year after he watched me run routes in gym class.

After that comes hockey. I've never been a devoted hockey fan, mostly because it never measured up to football in it's need to win every game. All too often I would watch an interview after a team lost a hockey game and someone always ended up saying something to the degree of "tough loss, we'll have to make it up later in the season''. That right there irked me. In football if a team loses one game it could cost them a playoff spot, but in hockey it seemed that there were so many games it didn't matter if you lost a couple which translated into my belief that the players didn't give 100% each and everytime the stepped on to the ice.
Anyways... I'm an Oilers fan. Why? Gretzky. It's that simple, Wayne Gretzky hit the NHL the same time I started watching hockey with my Dad and his skill awed me. (My Dad was a Whalers fan btw)
Ever since Gretzky I have been an Oilers fan of some nature, sometimes really into the season and sometimes forgetting hockey had even started, but always an Oilers fan. Even when I noticed Sidney Crosby and tried switching my affiliation to the Penguins, I couldn't follow through, because the memory of the great one was always in my mind, and the Oilers never lost me.

So... as to the title of this post.....

Recently, the President of Hockey Operations in Edmonton said something to the effect of 'We have two types of fans, and I'm more concerned with the ones who go to the games and pay for the tickets'. Not a direct quote, but close enough. THAT pisses me off. A lot!

Okay wait... side note... I have to admit a couple of things. Being a fan of teams from different cities in different parts of North America has always bothered me, not enough to switch, but enough to make me think about switching. I just never did because I love my Tigers, and I'm a devoted Pats fan and I couldn't think of dumping either of those teams.
However, the Patriots have done some shady things in the past which didn't sit well with me and lowered my passion for them each time. First was the whole debacle of Bill Parcells going to the Jets and the Pats getting a draft pick because of it and the Bill Bellichick jumping from the Jets to the Pats and the Jets getting a draft pick for that.... it all seemed kind of 'fixed'. Then there was the more recent video tape scandal. Most of you know what I'm talking about, for those who don't... The Patriots were caught (ratted out) taping their opponents practices and using that info to strategize a game plan. In other words, they cheated! I defended it by saying all teams do the same thing, the Pats just got caught. In reality it made me sick. It threw a question mark on the 3 Super Bowl wins for me. Could the Pats have won any of the three without this extra video? We'll never know. But it still doesn't sit well with me.

So anyways, back to the Oilers moron and his 'two types of fans'. This is my fuel. I'm pissed. Yet at the same time what the guy said actually makes a little sense to me.... why am I a fan of a team I'll never be able to attend the home games of on a regular basis? Wouldn't it be better to actually be a fan that's close to where I live? A team that I could see with only a few kilometres on my car?

It would make sense. So.... Being a Tigers fan first, it would only make sense to become a fan of the teams from Detroit. Hmmmm..... Can I become a Red Wings fan? What about the Lions? Could I drop the Patriots just like that? I have reasons to do it..... but can I?
As strange as this may sound, this is a hard decision for me. Primarily because I've never liked the term "bandwagon jumper".

So as of right now I will simply say I am a free agent fan for the NHL and NFL. I am leaning towards being both a Red Wings and Lions fan, but I need to sleep on it for a while. If you have ideas and comments, please feel free to let me know what you think.

For now... GO TIGERS!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Gigantor Quad

Well... last weekend was the first busy home-brewer weekend I've had in a while.

First, I bottled the Mr Beer Aztec Cerveza. No big concerns there, simply pulled up the recommended sugar measurements for bottling on the Mr B site, sat down with 8 bottles I had just sanitized and poured the beer in after adding the measured amounts of sugar. The only thoughts I had while doing this were 1. I really need to start kegging and 2. I may have to pick up those Coopers style carbo drops, since it's a lot easier than measuring out 2 1/2 tsps of sugar per bottle.
O.G was 1.030 and F.G was 1.006 which i believe means my abv is 3.14%

Then I (finally) bottled the Coopers Australian Pale Ale that's been sitting in the fermenter since last August, or I was supposed to bottle it last August, I can't remember which.
I had my friend Mike smell it, since my sense of smell is quite weak. He said it smelled like yeast-y bread. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but maybe I'll let him try the first bottle as well.

I had to run to the drug mart a few blocks away as I had run out of sugar to bottle with, and being Easter Sunday, all the grocery stores were closed. I also needed spring water to brew my Gigantor Quad as I had forgotten to pick that up the day before as well!

I didn't bother taking the gravity of the Coopers, as I couldn't remember what the O.G. was, nor could I remember where I wrote it down.

Then the time came.... My first home brew with hop addition.

This is where I have to mention I love the Mr Beer community! As I have mentioned before, I routinely ask what must be a thousand annoying newbie questions on the forums as well as direct message someone I consider a brewing genius and a mentor ESheppy 
So I had thrown a question out to Mr Shep about what i could do for a recipe to make the can of Mr Beer Octoberfest more palatable for myself. I've made the Octoberfest 3 times now, and have never liked the malty taste, so I was hoping to maybe try my hand at an actual home brew recipe, but I'd never made a home brew recipe and didn't know where to start.

This is the part where I feel bad..... Mr Shep had taken the time to think up a recipe for me, and also used his brewing software to figure out balances and measurements etcetera and sent it to me. I was thrilled! I had a recipe that wasn't too complicated, and I could get everything I needed from my LHBS.

I drove down to the LHBS on the Saturday of Easter Weekend to get my supplies, I walked in and.... Mr Beer supplies! An entire shelf of Mr Beer refills and kits! This is the LHBS that told me they wouldn't bring in Mr Beer because it would cost them as much as it would cost me (which sounded ridiculous), and yet there it was!

Suddenly I had the opportunity to make a recipe I had previously hoped to make before I even messaged Mr Shep... The Gigantor Quad! I had found the recipe on the Mr Beer site, and had given up on making it as I wanted to make beer soon, and the only way (I thought) to get the ingredients needed would be to order them from Mr Beer and wait, but now I had the ingredients I needed right in front of me!
I quickly pulled up the recipe on my phone and started looking for the things I would need. The girl that works there helped out by showing me where everything was. Of course that was after I convinced her I didn't want to try what she thought would be good, I wanted to try the recipe on my phone. My only question was hop additions.
As some of you may know, and most may not, hops can add a variety of things to your beer... aroma, bitterness, flavour... it all depends on when you add them. In this case I was looking to add some bitterness to even out the malty-ness of the Octoberfest. However, that would require some boil time, and if there is one thing I remember from the Mr Beer community it's that you NEVER boil the Hopped Malt Extract that is in the Mr Beer cans. I can't remember exactly what it does, but in essence in spoils the extract. So I asked about when to add my hops to get the desired result, a question the girl referred to the owner of the shop. His answer.... boil the HME! He said I wouldn't get any bittering out of the hops unless boiled for at least 30 minutes. When I mentioned about NEVER boiling the HME, he replied that it wouldn't affect it that much..... I don't trust this man with my HME. He's an all grain brewer, and probably a great one at that, and has been doing it for 20-25+ years, but as soon as he said to do the one thing I KNOW I'm not supposed to do with my HME I immediately question his personal history of using HME's. So instead, I bought what I needed, as well as some extra hops I didn't, and I left.

Why do I feel bad? Because Mr Shep, a man I trust wholeheartedly with my Mr Beer brews, took the time to figure out a recipe for me, and when I got to the LHBS, I instead went with the original Gigantor Quad recipe I had originally wanted to brew. Mr Shep, if you're reading this, I humbly apologize for wasting your time. (Although I probably will still try his recipe in the future)

So.... the brew..... The recipe calls for 2 cans of the Mr Beer Octoberfest as well as a cup of dark brown sugar and 1/2 oz of Saaz pellet hops. Boil the 4 cups of water, add brown sugar, remove from heat. Add two cans of Mr Beer Octoberfest HME and the pellet hops in the nylon bag. I think I screwed this part up as I put the bag of hops in while pouring in my HME, but I'm not stressing about it as it all stirred in anyways.
Funny thing I learned about pellet hops... when you put them in water, they expand... A LOT!
Add to the Little Brown Keg, that already has 4 litres of water in it, then add more cold water until it reaches the 8 Quart mark on the LBK.

Done! I did it! And it wasn't even that hard.

Now comes the hard part though..... it has to sit in the LBK for 6-9 months!!! I've never brewed a batch before that required that much time! I don't even know how long it's going to have to sit in the bottles after I bottle this brew. I know the Mr Beer community will help me out though :)

note. Orignal Gravity - 1.062

** Update**

I was browsing the Mr Beer site the other day and happened to look at the Gigantor Quad recipe. At first I thought they had altered it and taken out the 6-9 months suggestion, at which point I panicked. I quickly contacted both ESheppy and another home brewer I frequently get advice from, Yankeedag. Both of them were of the same opinion.... NO brew should sit in a fermenter for 6-9 months, and by this point I was already at the 5 month mark. Both suggested taking a Hydrometer reading and then bottling.
While I was talking with them I kept looking over the recipe on the Mr Beer site, and finally noticed the 6-9 months suggestion had not been omitted, but I had interpreted it wrong. The 6-9 months is the suggested LAGERING time, not time in the fermenter, but time in the bottles. Again both of my reliable friends suggested bottling, with ESheppy suggesting maybe batch priming it and adding yeast. Problem is, I don't have the equipment to transfer the brew for a batch prime, nor did I have the funds to purchase the equipment. I did go to the LHBS however, and while looking at siphons etc, the owner came up and asked if I needed help. I told my story and she pointed out that she's heard of brews sitting for longer periods and that all I really should do is bottle prime the brew and relax.
So... I bought some Coopers carb drops, and I bottled the Quad this weekend. Now I wait. I'm going to assume for another 6-9 months. Dammit.