Bottling Brew-Haha

It came time on Saturday to bottle the hard cider, and Sunday was the bottling day for the beer.  Here’s how it went.  If you want to read up on brewing adventure, start here.

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Hard Cider

It was  was tough siphoning the cider into the pot for carbonation, and then into the bottles.  I was not prepared, and lost a bottle of my product on the floor due to the fact I couldn’t stop the flow of cider.  At least it was only one bottle.  Not bad for a first attempt.  I had a mess to clean up, but at least I knew what I was going to do for Sunday’s beer bottling fun, and I had a plan.

 

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Beer

Bottling the beer was much easier, since I decided to have a better and cleaner setup, and enlisted my husband as an extra set of hands to help.  Boom!  Carbonation and siphoning went much better this time, and I got almost all the beer into the bottles. and very little made it onto the floor.  Easy cleanup.  Yay!  The beers went back into the closet to carbonate for two more weeks.

So, my advice when it comes to siphoning your brews?  Have a plan, practice, and get some help.  It will go much better.

 

 

Diving into Faroese Shawl Knitting

Yup, that’s the beginning of my Faroese shawl above!  It doesn’t look like much, but it will soon.

Here’s how I got to this point.

Remember that translation that I found at the library book sale of the Faroese shawl book?  Well, I tracked down an copy of the book that didn’t cost an exorbitant amount of money.  I went directly to that haven of knitting, Schoolhouse Press.  They had it there for a somewhat more reasonable price.  I had birthday day money.  I bought it.  I am now the proud owner of an updated translation and a copy of Bundanaurriklaedid.

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I looked through the book, FINALLY now knowing what all the patterns looked like now, along with their respective charts.  I was planning on doing the Elspa Katrina shawl already, so I had already bought some Lopi Einband for that purpose.

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Yay!  I was ready to go!  I started to cast on the shawl on November 10, 2015.  526 stitches.  Yeah.

This should be quite an adventure.  I’m not usually a shawl knitter, but I love ethnic patterns, especially Nordic ones.  This is right up my alley.

If you are interested in following this project on Ravelry, hop on over to the project page.

It’s the Yeast I Can Do: A Primer on Brewing

I have recently taken a foray into brewing my own libations, and have learned a lot about chemistry and biology during all three adventures, all of which have taken their respective placed in my home as they brew.  Here’s what I’m working on.

Kombucha

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Kombucha is fermented tea.  You have to use really caffeinated tea and a lot sugar.  That’s what the yeast feeds on.  There is very little alcohol content in kombucha, only a trace amount.  The yeast comes in the form of a SCOBY, which is short for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast.  That’s the big goopy thing at the top.  You can get multiple brews out of your SCOBY if you take care of it properly.  I have been brewing kombucha for a little less than a year now.  If you want to get started into brewing, kombucha is fairly easy.  Take care with temperature control and pH levels while learning.  Want to start brewing kombucha?  Take a look at The Kombucha Shop to get started.  Brews usually take seven to 21 days to ferment, along with a second fermentation in the bottle of a couple of days.

Hard Cider

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Hard cider is a new endeavor for me. Basically, you ferment a bottle of unpasteurized preservative-free apple cider with dry wine yeast.  You’ve got to be careful with carbon dioxide and your brew!  That’s what the tube is for, as it is allowing the CO2 out of the brew.  If not, you will get an explosion, and that would be bad, very bad.  In four weeks, I’ll have hard cider!

Beer

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Ah, the home brewmeister’s  holy grail:  beer!  Some kits give you syrup, or wort, that is already made, and you just add water and yeast.  Not so with my kit!  I made my own mash with the grains included, strained my own wort, the liquid that becomes your beer, and strained it through my sparge, the fancy word for the act of straining.  All in all, the entire process took about four and half hours.  Reserve an afternoon if you want to make beer, and you’ll be in the kitchen for most of it.  Beer making requires exact temperature control at regular intervals.  When you have your boil of your wort done, cool it, add your yeast, shake, and watch it go!  Again, CO2 has to be released or you’ll have a beer explosion.

For both the hard cider and the beer kit, hop on over to the Brooklyn Brew Shop.  They are super nice.  The kit I made is the Chestnut Brown Ale, which is a good one to make as chestnuts are in season here, and you will need for roasted and peeled ones make this beer.

A note for hard cider and beer:  SANITIZE EVERYTHING YOU ARE GOING TO USE.  Clean equipment means no cross-contamination.  Luckily, most kit include sanitizer powder.

Use vinegar to clean your kombucha equipment, though.  Harsh soaps and cleansers will leave residues that will kill your SCOBY.

That’s my primer on brewing different liquids.  It’s by no means complete, but I hope you learned something and are interested in perhaps brewing something yourself.

Crochet Hat Semi-Fail

I don’t crochet much.  I learned how to do the basics of it because some knitting patterns use it for edging and such.  So, I learned.

I decided to crochet a hat earlier this week, and above I’m modeling the results.  Eh, it looks ok, but nothing like the picture in the book I got the pattern out of.  Well, more like a larger, more bowl-shaped version.  Here’s the pattern I’m talking about on Ravelry.

To all you amazing crocheters out there, and I know you are, here are a few questions I have about crochet.  If anyone could provide answers, perhaps I will be able to do better crochet work.

  1.  When you make your starting chain to begin a new row, you are supposed to skip a crochet post and work into the next one.  Is the post directly below the new row chain, or, is the next one?
  2. When measuring gauge for crochet, such eight chain stitches equals two inches on a size H needle, do you count the initial slipknot?  How about the loop on the hook?
  3. When a pattern says make a dc, for example, into the ch-3 below, but the previous row had no chain three, do they mean the chain in the beginning?

Any answers and beginner hat pattern suggestions would be most welcome.  I can do a scarf, quite easily, I will say, but I would like to expand my crochet horizons.  Help!