GUEST POST - Getting Started with Homebrewing, by Blake Daniels

Quick note: Blake reached out to me via the emails, and let me know that he was interested in writing a guest post. I thought that since I used to (*sniff*) dip my toes in the homebrew water and, since I have a ton of friends who brew, Blake would be a good person to share his expertise with ya'll. Thanks Blake!

How to Get Started Homebrewing

I’m often asked how to get started homebrewing.  Because I’ve been doing this for a while, it can be easy to forget how intimidating entering into the world of kitchen chemistry can be. After a few batches the whole process becomes comfortable, but looking back, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information involved in starting the brewing process. I’m going to use this post to offer some tips on how to easily make the transition from someone who buys craft beer at the supermarket to someone who makes their own at home.

Buy Yourself a Kit
There were two ways that I approached the decision to get started brewing, which influenced what type of kit I was going to purchase: making full-scale 5-gallon batches, or starting off smaller with a 1-gallon beginner kit. I’m a fan of making smart investments and could have bought everything I’d need to crank out big batches right from the beginning, but I wanted to make sure that I actually enjoyed brewing before making that commitment. In the end I opted to start off small and definitely feel that I made the right decision. I was able to get comfortable with the basic brewing process on a small scale and after stepping up to a larger system, the 1-gallon carboys still come in handy when I want to experiment around with a new recipe.

Find Some Resources
Once you’ve ordered your kit, you’ve made that first monetary commitment. Now it’s time to brush up on the knowledge you will need to get started. How to Brew by John Palmer is not only one of the most popular books on homebrewing, but is available online, for free. I found it so helpful that I’ll probably end up picking up a print copy as well. The pictures, charts and index make it well worth owning a physical copy in addition to using the site. Another of my favorite brewing resources is the homebrewing community on Reddit. This community has over 66,000 subscribers and offers great information for beginners in their sidebar. The most beneficial aspect of this community is the ability to start threads about your questions and immediately receive helpful advice from other brewers. I’m also a big fan of their weekly thread questions, especially Wednesday’s Q&A.
Useful! And less painful than reading Steinbeck. Or a friend's poetry written after HE started homebrewing.
Get Yourself Out There
Part of the fun of homebrewing is the community aspect of it and I highly recommend joining a homebrewing club. The American Homebrewer’s Association offers a list of clubs sorted by state, so you can find the group closest to you. Having the chance to meet people who share this hobby will keep you motivated and on schedule. It is also an opportunity to learn from others as you advance your skills and take on more difficult brews. I’ve found the group brewing sessions in my club to be educational and fun and often you get to try a recipe you may never have considered making on your own. Once you’ve joined a club you will most likely start hearing quite a bit of talk about competitions. Before competing I highly recommend stewarding a competition. Judges have to be qualified by passing various exams, but as a steward you get an insight into how the judging works and have the opportunity to talk and network with some serious brewers.
Some very cool people are in homebrewing clubs. Ahem.
 One Last Thing
After you’ve brewed your first batch, you’ll quickly realize what a nightmare it can be to clean, sanitize and dry 50 or so bottles. With kids and pets around, having bottles all over your counter is a disaster waiting to happen and makes the bottling step stressful and difficult. An investment that I made after my first couple batches made this step in the brewing process much easier to deal with. I started off with a bottle washer and picked up a drying rack shortly after. The combination of the two made the whole household’s life easier once I wasn’t taking over the entire kitchen to wash and sanitize bottles.
Bottle washer, or medieval torture device? You choose.
Blake Daniels has been brewing for about 3 years, and can be reached for comment at

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It's like August never even happened!

I've had a few nice breaks from reality lately--a long weekend back in my favorite place on earth (North Carolina), day trips to Kent Island and Fredneck, and I think I'm going to NYC this weekend. Maybe. Possibly. Ask me on Friday and see if I'm a changed woman, we'll go from there.

Sadly, I think this was my last venture down south for quite some time. I made the most of it, though.

"making the most of it"
Drank a lot of cheap beer, watched the opening weekend of college football, well, one out of two ain't bad. I'm dead set on moving to either Wilmington or Asheville within the next few years, though, apologies in advance to everyone who already lives there. On the bright side, DC can probably breathe a sigh of relief now.

Spent the last day in Durham, drinking in a bar right across from the new Durham Bulls athletic stadium. Tyler's Restaurant and Taproom proved a very good location to hang out for a few hours, drink, and complain about how every single bar I've been to in NC seems to have better offerings than DC. Hmmph. It was lovely. It was also balls hot outside, so I was quite grateful for the refreshment. The inside of the bar was super chill (there were actually 2 bars, we sat on the one closer to the restaurant side), very pretty, also very deserted which was nice. Give me an empty place with a copper-topped bar, high ceilings, great beer, knowledgeable bartenders... I'm pretty much in heaven.

Crash Davis, please call me. 410 212 9659.

Sweater weather is finally here, so it's good I was able to make it to the island a couple of weekends ago. I was lucky enough to hang out in a pool and drink beer for a few hours, and catch up with some friends who have more artistic talent in their little toes than I do in my whole body. Mary will photograph your wedding, and make it look way more classy than it actually was, and Adrienne will make you want to buy another iPhone, just so you can use a case with her artwork on it. I "contributed" by bringing beer, and a huge platter of cucumber sandwiches that I didn't actually bring because a drunken family member ate the whole goddamn thing 30 minutes before I was supposed to leave.

well, there ya go.
Drove up to Frederick last night and had dinner at Brewer's Alley, which meant I got there half an hour early and drank at the bar by myself. Well, by myself until the doppelganger of a good pal showed up and started telling me about an apparently disastrous first date he'd just experienced. Welp. I'm awkward, so I just sat there and let this dude keep rambling on while I kept drinking. I started with their blueberry pale wheat ale, moved onto the kolsch, and then tried something new from Monocacy Brewing. Monocacy didn't yet exist when I lived in Frederick, so I was pretty happy to sample an offering. I had their rye pale, and it was great--crisp, slightly bitter, not too overpowering. Anyway, it was good stuff, I'm really curious to see where they're gonna go. I'd love to see them on tap around DC in the near future.

Another quick mention: recently I had some drinks at Glen's Garden Market (a combination grocery store/bar/snacky food offering place) and it was nice. For starters, all beer was $4, so your money is gonna go a lot further than many other places in DC, especially for Dupont. They also had a great special--Port City Brewing's Optimal Wit with muddled peaches in the glass. It was amazing. Seriously. I ordered it three times. Probably could have drank a lot more if I wasn't lame and had to go things like, go home and go to bed. Go there. Now. Muddled fruit in a witbier... why has no one thought of this before?! Genius. Pure genius.

Saw Depeche Mode last week and it was nothing short of a religious experience. Their discography is a little too big for me to have heard all my favorites, obviously (Shout, Nothing, Everything Counts, Strangelove) but it was an amazing show. I don't really even care for Policy of Truth, but hearing it live was magical. Magical! Dave and Martin have still got it... whatever "it" is.

Happy autumn, kids. Sleep tight. Don't let the pumpkin beers bite.


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A lot of run-on sentences about some serious shit, ya'll

So I can already tell this is gonna be hard to write, but hey, sometimes we all have to do things we don't wanna do. And I mean that, for serious, not in my usual-half joking way. It's somewhat easy for me to act like a (hopefully likable) jackass 24/7. Books help, pills help, that familiar high of cancelling social plans helps. But honestly, there are some times when I just can't make myself do it. Can't do it in the way that way like, everyone expects you to give a presentation on ancient Greek athletics and all you've prepared for is a talk on theatre culture in 18th century England. Can't do it in the way like, a million little things have snuck into your brain at 3am when you've suddenly woken up for no reason and if one little tiny teensy thing swims to the surface, you completely lose it. The little thing could be anything from remembering that someone gave you the finger in traffic yesterday to realizing that you accidentally said something 2 months ago that made someone else feel inadequate, or hurt, or shamed. And worrying about things like this, all the time, in addition to Regular Normal Life Things, is fucking exhausting. I've always been like this. Telling me to chill out, or to have another beer, doesn't really cut it.

My best friend in the world is my best friend in the world because he gets it, and because he tells me that he's proud of me when I can manage to not have a nuclear meltdown in the grocery store, and that he loves me regardless, even if I'm a snotty mess over in aisle 3 (cereals, baking goods, convenient breakfast). To people who don't know, that's probably the equivalent of a kindergarten teacher telling a student that she's proud of the kid for not shitting himself that day. I dunno. Maybe it is. But that's what helps me. 

I guess the surprising thing is when I fake it otherwise, and people believe me, and then are shocked and probably disgusted to realize that I'm Difficult, in that classic sense. Whereas the most hurtful thing is when I try to explain it anyway, and still get that reaction.

I am a hobbyist in the beer world. I'm not in it for recognition, or money, or free shit. Any of the above would be nice, but are never, ever expected. And they weren't expected, from the beginning. More than anything else, going to BBC this past year has really made me realize that. In a way, I almost feel bad because I think some people expect more from me than I expect from myself, or more than I can be reasonably expected to give. I don't ever want this to be more than a hobby. I want to drink great beer (and sometimes really shitty beer) with great people (shitty people are not okay, even sometimes), and that's it. And write/tweet/instagram about it, if I feel so inclined. And that's it. 

BBC was more of an experience this year than last year, for good and for bad. A lot of great people were there, repeat offenders included, and I (hopefully) made a few new friends that I'd love to keep in touch with. I'll probably do a post in a little bit where I go into (the fun, not the awkward) adventures. That's not gonna be today, though.

Go home, you're too drunk serious,

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My Liver is Dreading Next Week, and other failed children's storybooks

Just a quick couple of notes before BBC13 

Was up in Lancaster, PA for a wedding last weekend and was pleasantly surprised by the beer scene and the plethora of cool vintage stores. We hit up a few cool bars (not to mention drank very well at the wedding), but my pick was the Spring House Tap Room, for obvious reasons. Cool logo and graphic design work, check. Slightly unusual yet delicious beer, check. Walking proximity to hotel, check.

Astounding She Monster Mango IPA and Big Gruesome PB Choc Stout
We got a couple of growlers for the minifridge in the hotel room which we didn't wind up touching until we got home on Monday, but hey, if that's the worst problem you have, you probably made out pretty well.

Over July 4th weekend, I was back in Wilmington. This time, we had a car available, which meant some downtown exploring. Did a little barhopping on the 5th, and while Cape Fear Wine and Beer was an awesome bar, I think I actually preferred the Front Street Brewery. I wasn't in a mood to really tear it up that day, and FS Brewery was a great option for some relaxed day-drinking. Awesome venue with a lot of beautiful woodwork and natural light, very sweet bartenders, kinda family friendly. Honestly it reminded me quite a bit of Brewer's Alley in Frederick, MD, except the beer was much better. Everything I tried was solid, and we tried almost all the offerings.

Choose your own adventure, indeed.

Something very cool about Front Street was the option to choose your own sampler, they didn't just offer the standard year-round offerings. I know it was a little touch, but it made a really good impression. And it didn't hurt that all the beer was fantastic. My favorite was probably the Unity Belgian Wheat ale, despite my usual aversion to anything Belgian.

I'll be flying out to Portland on Wednesday morning and arriving around 11:30am. I don't have any solid plans yet, but I'd really like to drink at the Allagash Brewery tap room, probably Wednesday evening. Straight up honest, I don't really care about going on a tour. I've been on a ton of brewery tours, and after the first one, they all seem pretty much the same. Blasphemy,  I know. But whatever.

If you need me, I'll be the blonde at the bar.


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In which I advocate bringing back the use of the word "qual"

As we're nearing the solstice, I thought I'd pop in for my typical spasmodic update. Nothing earth shattering, but we can chat a bit, right? This will probably be my last post until July, where I'm going to be off the grid for about half the month. And when I say off the grid, I mean frantically tweeting and checking email on my phone until the battery dies, approx. 2 hours into every day. Hey, carrying around an iPhone charger only gets you so far....

In the middle of last month, my pal Jeff (of Fifty Two Brews) invited me out to one of the coolest events I'd heard of in a while, Beer from Where? It was a pretty swank event, held at the National Geographic Museum in DC. Probably the second or third time in my entire life that I've used the Farragut North metro station. New things all around!

My handwriting actually gets worse as I drink more. Good to know.

Below, you can see s a video from the event, Jeff linked me this morning and I wanted to share with everyone. I gotta say, the event was quite fun. I'd never tried, much less heard of, any of the beer being offered. Goes to show how woefully inexperienced I am when it comes to worldly matters, eh? Anyway, the only criticism I'd maybe have is that there wasn't really any discussion time for talking about the beer we were drinking. Garrett sort of monologued through the whole thing, which was very interesting, but didn't exactly lend a collaborative feeling. When I'm tasting beer (ESPECIALLY new beer!), I really like to chat with others, to see what they get out of it, to run my mouth continuously, you know. Overall though, I enjoyed myself and I was very honored to have been asked. In retrospect, maybe it's good that Garrett was lecturing, gave me a chance to.. you know. Behave. Ahem.

Moving on! At the end of May, Best Friend and I went down to Wilmington for the weekend. We took the train, because he doesn't have a car and I don't always have the willpower not to do dumb things with my car. It was a Very. Fun. Trip. So fun, in fact, that we're going back at the beginning of next month. Basically, any weekend in which I get to hang out on a golf course and drink beer 20 hours a day and not have to worry about ever checking my email is practically perfect. Coastal NC was basically a dreamland, full of grocery stores carrying $8 six packs of SweetWater. Maybe I'll move there, someday...

Wayfarers, boat shoes, beer. Check, check, check.

The 90s called. They want me back.
 Of course, all good things must come to an end eventually. After a solid 3 days full of beer, sun, mosquito bites, and being social with new people, I was anxious to come home. I mean, there are only so many times where I can drunkenly worry out loud about having taken my birth control in front of my boyfriend's cousin, right?

Can we all start saying 'qual' again? Please?
So... let's see what's coming up, shall we. I'm basically going to be out of town for half of July (back to Wilmington, a short foray to Lancaster, Pennsyltucky, and then obviously BBC). I'll be arriving in Portland for BBC on July 24th, and my liver will probably never be the same again.

Hrm.. erm.. other stuff. I turn 25 on July 1st. I told my mom that for a present, I'd take a husband, a puppy, or a brewery. She got back to me with, "...are you really sure you could take care of a puppy right now?". Thanks for your vote of confidence, mom. Times like this show that we're obviously related.

At the end of August, I'm going to be having some kind of a bash at my apartment in DC. The theme will likely be "please come over and drink all the beer in my fridge and help me eat all the food in the freezer and also help yourself to a bunch of my clothes". Invites pending. It will be a good chance for me to show off how desperate to get rid of things generous I am!

And.. well.. that's it for now, I think. I'm going to leave you with a killer book recommendation and some tunes, per usual. The keyboards and synth combo really do this song a good one (especially starting around 1:15). I recommend, although it's a bit lighter than I usually go.


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Gee, I'm real glad that Instagram looks almost exactly like Facebook now. Where are the ads? I miss all those!

This isn't gonna be a huge post, but some cool stuff has happened recently, and I wanna get the word out.

I'm sensing this has been a trend for most of the U.S., but spring in DC so far hasn't exactly been very spring-like. Chilly, rainy, kinda gross. Admittedly, vastly superior to 95 degrees with 100% humidity, but if there's one thing I'm good at, it's complaining. So I haven't really been in the mood for a lot of springy seasonals. This sucks, and I look forward to the day when I can bask outside with some Aprihop and a dozen oysters on the half shell.

Opting for something a bit more substantial over spring beers...
Cracked open a 2011 Brooklyn Black Ops on Tuesday night, and it was just the thing for this shitty weather. I'd recommend ya'll get your big stouts in while you still have the chance, without getting the stinkeye at a bar. Not that I'd do that. But some people are just so opinionated! (and judgmental. Geez.)

So last night, I kicked up my heels (combat boots) and went out. Twice. In one night. This almost never happens, as I am both perpetually broke and antisocial, but as my mom would say, "honey, this is why god invented credit cards."

The very sweet Justina of Fado invited me to the inaugural (inaugural! I really am a D-list celeb now!) happy hour (crafty hour?!) at Fado in Chinatown. I normally don't go out in Chinatown much, because I have limited patience for tourists, which Chinatown seems to be full of (GTFO the left side of the escalators, you fucks), but it was a great time. Really good deals on Flying Dog. I had a couple of the UnderDog lagers and they were really, really yummy. Much better on tap. It's worth noting that the special deal was also extended to Flying Dog's Raging Bitch, but Le Boyfran buys that beer ALL. THE. FUCKING. TIME. and while it's great, I was gonna go for the road a little less consumed. I also didn't want to get hammered before 7pm, but you know, priorities. It was only Wednesday, after all. Cool your jets, kids.

Anyway, the happy hour at Fado was cool. The space is cool, too. It looks a little bit like a hobbit house from Lord of The Rings, only with much taller ceilings. (This is a good thing.) Go to Fado! Drink some cheap delicious beer! Meet some guys from Michigan and exaggerate your Southern accent! (don't actually do that last one. I did, but I'm not recommending it.)

After Fado, I hopped over to Bier Baron, in Dupont. The BB used to be the Brickskeller, which was probably kind of a landmark, but not a place I ever had great luck with. It was like playing beer roulette. You had to pick 5 or 6 things, and they'd usually be out of all of them. I don't think that was an uncommon complaint. ANYWAY, the Bier Baron was much, much better. Also a great atmosphere. I stayed away from the upstairs because of trivia (shudder) but crammed into a corner booth in the basement and really enjoyed myself. Elspeth met me around 7, and we knocked back a few pints.

Cheers, to the window, or whatever.
You may remember Elspeth as my extremely cool (and tolerant!) roommate from last year's BBC. If possible, she is even cooler now because she brought me a set of Spiegelau glasses. I am a lucky, lucky person. It wasn't even my birthday! Anyway, it was really good to see her, I think it was the first time in a couple of months we had gotten to hang out.

Umm... so I guess that's it. Fado and the Bier Baron are cool. The weather is not cool. Trying to find a roommate and/or deciding whether I'm going to move in July/August is also not cool. If anyone wants to live with a Super Cool Person Who Is Never Home And Has A Fridge Full Of Beer (me), gimme a shout.

As usual, here's your required listening of the day: (as a bonus, it's not from the 80s!)


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Doctor Who Still Sucks, and Other Stories from CBC Week

'Allo, 'allo

I was sitting at work, eating an incredibly unappealing salad (what the fuck was wrong with whoever made this so-called "cilantro lime vinaigrette" and why do they apparently hate cilantro??) and remembered that I have a blog. Oh, yeah. I guess I do, don't I?

Without quite realizing, another large chunk of time has gone by again, wherein all sorts of things happened. Not really anything major. Nothing really major ever happens, because even though I tend to be a very dramatic person, at the core I'm actually pretty unflappable. This is both good and bad. As Megan Draper's mother in Mad Men (I'm obsessed, remember?) would say, "this is what happens when you have the artistic temperament, but you are not an artist".

Exhibit A

So CBC week was mighty fun. I got real drunk in RFD, accidentally met a cool dude with Troegs brewing, up in Pennsylvania, knocked back a ton of Stone brews, and then made some pretty inflammatory
Let's go with definition 1, cause I was actually belligerent at this point
comments about how much I hate Doctor Who and how it's the worst show ever. Thankfully I didn't make these comments to the dude from Troegs. He had already left by that point, which was probably a safe decision on his part. Always better to get of my way when I'm on a rampage about something. Especially horrible British TV. It's not cute, it's not quirky, it's just dumb. I don't get it.

On Wednesday of CBC week, I coerced Kyle into going to ChurchKey with me. That was fun. I drank a lot of beer, scared the hell out of a waitress, and met some cool dudes from Half Acre. I was also reunited with my long lost love, Akari Shogun and finally got to try Foothills Brewing Sexual Chocolate.

You tweet one thing (one thing!) about a fuck hut, and soon enough, a whole group wants to take a photo with you! Shit. I felt like Miss America. Or a celebrity. Or a really drunk D-list celebrity without underwear who just flashed the paparazzi getting out of a cab. Kyle took my newfound fame well, encouraging me that "you should just go home, I don't think you ought to come with me to Scion for a nightcap." Bless this man, he wants me to stay out of the public eye! Anyway it was probably a good idea that I called it quits when I did, 'cause I almost fell asleep on the bus home. Public transportation (along with beer and Peruvian green salsa and Jeffrey Campbell shoes) is a great passion of mine.

Next month, my floppy-haired sports-obsessed best friend is taking me to Wilmington, NC for Memorial Day weekend. His cousin is a beer distributor, who always has a few good kegs "just laying around".

"Just laying around"
After that, it's July. Probably gonna blow my entire budget for the whole year. Weddings, BBC, New Order show, you name it. I'm going to Portland on July 24th and coming home from Boston on the 28th, probably early in the morning, cause the New Order show is that night (god, I hope I remember it). So if anyone else is going to Portland a day early, hit me up. We can explore together and work on upping the last of our alcohol tolerances for the next day's festivities.

Leaving you with my favorite New Order song, in fervent hope that they play it in July.


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Breaking news: Vertical Epic tasting leaves people sideways

Hey, all. 

So when I was last here (end of January, amirite?), I think I had all SORTS of ambitious plans for the next few weeks. As usual, those all got delayed. All of them. Every. Single. One. 

And hey, for once, it wasn't even due to my sloth. Ear infections/prednisone regimens/head colds are not good drinking friends. I missed out on a Mardi Gras party due to 2 out of those 3, and it wasn't fun. I didn't even feel like drinking. My mom called me and we had the following conversation: 

Mom: What do you mean you're not drinking?
Me: I'm still not feeling well.
Mom: Oh, god. You must really be sick. 

It was my ULTIMATE MISFORTUNE that while ill, I received a couple of amazing packages in the mail. Michael of PDX Beer Geeks sent me a box with a Pliny the Elder and a Ninkasi Critical Hit. My immediate reaction was that, obviously, I was being cursed by the universe because I didn't even want either one of those beers. How sad. I deserve to be flogged for that. (Anyone want to come over later??)

As soon as I was feeling better, I cracked the Pliny. I'm not really gonna go into this beer because everyone and their mother already has. However, it ruled. I wish I was lucky enough to be able to buy this on a regular basis, except almost not, because my palate might be permanently dead if that were the case. If you don't like hops, call me, and I'll be happy to take a bottle of this off your hands. 

Does this really need a caption? Come on.
I have yet to open the Critical Hit, mostly cause I want to drink it with my D&D group, and we haven't all  been in the same room in quite a while. It'll happen though. Soon. 

Moving on! I also got a package from Berenice of Formulatin PR containing a six pack of Indio, yet another thing I couldn't immediately drink. I stuck them in the fridge and waited until I was feeling a little better to crack them open. While it isn't really something I'd pick up on my own, I was surprised that I didn't actively dislike it. It's a marzen style coming from CuauhtĂ©moc Moctezuma Brewery, a subsidiary of Heineken. It had some nice bready malt and a crisp finish. I actually was cooking when I was drinking it, and it wound up pairing pretty decently with rosemary-lamb merguez. I'm not sure that I would buy it, I reallllly don't like supporting macro breweries, but whatever. It was worth a drink, and I'm an advocate of trying anything. (for what it's worth, it was much better than Heineken.) 

Finally got around to having that Vertical Epic tasting last Saturday. Oh, mylanta. Tastings among me and friends follow a somewhat distinct pattern: we START in a very scientific manner, dump bucket and all, and then wind up sinking into the pits of "I can't drive home, I should probably have another beer." 

I had really mixed ideas about how I was going to dig these Epics. I'm not a fan of Belgian yeast in beers, that funky sweetness really doesn't sit well with me. However I'm not above enjoying some Belgian styles, like witbiers and lambics, sometimes even quads. It's mostly the dubbels and the tripels that gross me out. 

I was somewhat horizontal after these.
So you'll be pleased (or unsurprised, because I'm actually an alcoholic) to know that I really liked almost all of them. 09 was my jam. We had a couple bottles of all of them except for 10, I think, and I kept giving myself more "little tastes". It was like the classy version of walking around the party after everyone leaves and picking up half-empty cups.

At the tasting, we also barreled through a number of other things. Ninkasi Believer, Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA from 2011, Rogue Brutal Bitter IPA, etc. Yum. A good time was had by all. And, no, I didn't make it home that night.

Food is definitely a necessity with these things, and sometimes I like feeling as though I contribute something to the woodpile. I have a copy of The Sriracha Cookbook, written by none other than my cool pal from last year's BBC, Randy Clemens. I'd been itching to make something (anything!) from the book since I received it, and I settled on Sriracha Ceviche.

I made this! It was good!

Not everybody ate this, cause it was kinda hot after all (duh), but everyone who did said thumbs up. I changed the recipe a teeny tiny bit, basically by eliminating the sweet corn (no fresh corn to be found around this time of year) and adding an extra jalapeno. Other than that, I stuck to the book, and it was fantastic.

Soo.. what's in store for me soon...

A dear (best friend in the universe/soulmate-if-I-believed-in-that-sort-of-thing) friend is turning 40 (40!!!!) on Monday, and I believe we're going to do it up in style. He's my favorite running buddy, as well as the person who introduced me to the idea of eating enchiladas and watching Anthony Bourdain marathons while hungover, so he deserves some fun. I already got him some presents, but I might top it off with a growler of local goodness from DC Brau as a way of saying "you're old, but not as old as DC."

Anyway, aside from that, things have been chill. I hope the same for ya'll.


someone who actually hates hugging people but will do it anyway to conform to social mores

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GUEST POST - That was a good year for beer, by Elena Roundtree

When it comes to wine, you may not be able to tell a superb year from a disaster but
you probably are aware that wine can be aged and that certain years are better, more
desirable, than others. However, did you know that the same holds true for beer? Yes,
beer can be matured and its taste (hopefully) improved upon.

For a long time, beer has been viewed as less than wine. Less classy. Less
“complicated”. Hopefully though, as aged beers with their complex, rich tastes gain
popularity this misconception will die off. Already, the industry of vintage beers has
given birth to true connoisseurs every bit as dedicated as those in the wine industry,
individuals who dedicate their time to the rewarding but painstaking process of aging
beer, and beer that costs as much if not more than a bottle of good wine.

Aged beer is simply that - beer that has been left to its own devices to mature. However, like the road to a lot of good things, the journey isn’t entirely black and white and it isn’t always easy. Ask someone who has experienced aged beer though and he or she will tell you that the work and the wait are both well worth it.

The taste of aged beer is somewhat difficult to describe; it is something that each
person must experience for themselves. Obviously, different beers will impart different
tastes, but the closest one can get to giving a general description of the taste is to say it is strong, yeasty, and rich.

Don’t be fooled, aged beer isn’t a brand new thing; a quick Internet search will show you articles dating back a few years and certainly people were doing it before that. However, the product has only recently become relatively mainstream. Unfortunately, this means that you may have some difficulty finding aged beer at restaurants or stores. This is especially true if you live in a less metropolitan area. The Internet is a good bet though for tracking some down. When you finally do locate aged beer, you may find yourself paying a pretty penny. These factors, availability and cost, may mean having to dig deep for some patience and age your own beer.

When it comes to aging beer, the first step is to make sure you have the appropriate
space. For proper aging, you’ll want a cool, dark place. Most experts recommend
somewhere with temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the
location has temperatures that remain as stable and constant as possible. A basement
is typically a prime choice.

The next step is to secure the beer. Be careful when picking your beer as not all brews
are good candidates for aging. The average beer only has a shelf life of maybe six
weeks to three months before it’s quality begins to degrade. Look for beers that:

• Are high in alcohol content (generally 8% or higher)
• Have a strong malty taste
• Are fairly sweet (high in residual sugar)
• Are bottle conditioned meaning they have active yeast

Strong contenders include:

• Barleywines
• Imperial stouts
• Lambics

Again, depending on where you live, you may have to be a little resourceful to obtain the correct beer. You can order from or visit the brewery, hit the Internet, or try a specialty store. When you purchase the beer, be sure to get more than one bottle. You’ll want one to taste at the start of the aging process and others to taste at the intervals throughout.

Place all but one bottle of the beer in the cool dark place. There’s a lot of debate about
the proper way to store beer (upright or lying down) to produce the best results. The
best thing to do is to complete your own research on the issue and use your best

Take the bottle of beer you left out and enjoy! This is your chance to see what the beer tastes like before any aging. Try taking notes so that you can relive the experience later and compare the taste to the taste of the finished product.

There is no hard rule on how long the aging process takes. Some beers will certainly
require more time than others to reach that sweet spot. Different resources recommend
different lengths of time for aging, and most of the ranges are fairly long (ex. one to
three years, three to five years). Aging will take some experimenting on your part. The
best thing to do is to space the beer you purchased out and taste it periodically. Try
every six months or every year. Take notes at every tasting. Be patient and keep trying.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the process is the waiting. Knowing that great beer
is just waiting in your basement yelling “drink me” can be torture. Restrain yourself!
Remember, all good things come to those who wait.

Article contributed by Elena Roundtree on behalf of Washington MAST Class 12 Permit.

Elena is an avid beer drinker who is tired of beer being seen as less sophisticated than
wine. For other great articles by Elena, check out the Washington MAST G+ page.

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Oh, hell


I, for one, can't believe it's almost the end of January. Where the hell does all the time go? (I love this question, it almost always provokes some nicely awkward responses.)

In beer news, I'm really excited for spring seasonals. Mostly because I'm not wild about winter warmers or Christmas ales. I reeeeeeeallly liked the Anchor Our Special Ale 2010, but I wasn't particularly wild about 2011 or 2012. I know, I know, the recipe is verrrrry similar every year, but the 2010 had these really great cedar notes. It sorta tasted like licking the inside of someone's log cabin, and I mean that in the absolutely best way possible. Not that I've ever done that. Ahem.

Upcoming beer-vents! There's going to be a release of the 2013 Sierra Nevada Beer Camp beers at my favorite DC bar, ChurchKey on Friday, Feb 8th. Even though I try to avoid bars on Friday because I'm actually a gigantic awkward loser, I'm going to go and fight my way into the crowd. Greg, from OC Beer Blog attended BeerCamp this past year, and worked on one of the brews, so in a little way it'll be like getting to hang out with a pal again! Except maybe better, cause I won't have to talk. (that's a lie, Greg is the shit and I'd be happy to be in the same room as him again some time....)

That's going to be a very alcohol-fueled weekend, because I have (tentatively!!) planned a Stone Vertical Epic tasting of 2007-2012. I've got a few of each, and I'm hoping for great things. I know I'm not typically the biggest fan of Belgians.. but... whatever. So it goes.

Tonight I'm going to hang out with my cool ex boyfriend (funfact: if you use the tag #dinnerwithmyex on twitter, you'll get like, six divorce-related twitter accounts following you!) and drink some 3 Floyds cause I'm actually kind of a lucky person with great friends.

I didn't make any New Years resolutions, because I'm both cynical and lazy, but I'm a little unhappy with the quality of things I've been drinking lately. Since I moved, I got even lazier about driving and have thusly stopped going to some favorite haunts for 6 packs. Not that there's anything wrong with Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (really, there's not, I love that beer), I don't want it every fucking night. Sigh. I guess now would be a great time to fight a hoard of people for some Bell's Hopslam at the bargain price of $30/6 pack...

I'm gonna leave you with this great song, cause really, there's never enough Roxy Music in this world. Brian Eno puts me in my happy place.


P.S. Fuck, I can't believe I forgot this. I've tried to avoid it, but unfortunately it's everywhere. Like the smell of a slaughtered team of alpacas, Valentines Day just refuses to lay down quietly. Repeat after me: red satin is tacky and candy hearts taste like Pepto Bismol. Anyway! I guess people are making a big deal out of beer/chocolate/edible panties pairings, and I'm not going to jump on that bandwagon. BUT! If you're into that sort of thing (gag), my former roommie from BBC last year, Elspeth, recently put out a great article on beer and chocolate pairing. Please check it out here.

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