Monthly Archives: January 2006

Beer, Beer And More Beer

Beer Fermenting

Brewing Beer

 My son, Matt, came to Florida for a few days. Why he would want to leave San Francisco, a medium sized multi-cultural city with hundreds of great restaurants to stay in a trailer park…oops, I mean mobile home community…where Jean and I bring down the average age by several years, I don’t know.

He got here last Wednesday evening. Mom left on Friday to be brother Bill’s office girl up in Michigan so we decided to go out to dinner (Mom, Jean, Matt, Bother Bob…you may know him as Bobbie Butane…and me). Matt brews his own beer and loves to go to “brew pubs” so we decided to go to St. Sebastiaan’s, a Belgian brew pub about 6 miles North on US-19.

They have great food and some excellent beers but, for the first time, the service was lousy. We got there at 5:45, just in time to get the geezer early bird prices. Our waiter took our drink order about 10 minutes later. He finally got back to us with our drinks at about 6:10 and was ready to take our food order, 10 minutes after the early bird prices ended. We asked him about the early bird prices and he said it would be no problem.

Our food showed up at 7. The drinks were to be two for one and we didn’t have the second one yet, he had forgotten to bring us bread or rolls and, when he finally brought the second drinks, he forgot mine. One of the beers was a specialty brew that changed periodically. When Matt asked him what the current selection was, he said “Read to me what the menu says”. When we read it to him, he said “I think it’s called Specialty Brew”. Duh!!!

Brother Bob had gone outside to have a smoke, ran into a couple from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan looking for property and, since Bob sells real estate, it wasn’t all lost time. When the bill came, I looked it over, and the three meals that were ordered from the early bird menu were at regular prices, a difference of about $7. I could have just paid the bill and taken the $7 from the waiter’s tip, but his tip was going to be meager anyway, so I complained. That sent Bob out again for another smoke.

The bill was changed, the tip was embarrassingly low, and we left. Oh, well, the food was good, the time spent with family was great, and the beer was good. I said the food was good, but found out from Brother Bob that he awoke at about 2AM with severe stomach pain and barely made it to the bathroom. As he sat there unable to leave, he felt the urge, grabbed the wastebasket, and barfed up his Seafood Fettuccini.

Matt and I brewed beer in San Francisco the day before we swam the Tiburon Mile. I got a lot of brewing equipment for Christmas so we decided to brew a batch here. Matt looked over my shoulder so I could do it by myself when I get back to Michigan.

We needed a brew pot and used beer kegs (half barrels) make great ones, but are often hard to find. Many stores have them but they’re the property of the beer brewer or distributor and can’t legally be sold. We called around and found one in Brooksville, about 25 miles away, that the distributor wouldn’t take back. It’s perfect for what we need. All they wanted was the normal keg deposit ($20). Regular brew pots average around $150 so we felt lucky and it was legal, so I could sleep at night. We (Matt) cut a hole in the top, drilled a hole in the side for a spigot, and were ready to brew.

One of the attached pictures is the keg on top of a gas stove in the last few minutes of a 90 minute boil. The contraption sticking out of the top is a chiller, one that Matt and I made last summer. It’s coiled copper tubing with plastic tubing that hooks up to a hose, and more plastic tubing to drain off the hot water. It’s not pretty, but it does the job.

The other picture is of the 5 gallons of beer fermenting in the closet. It will stay there for a week or two until it is ready to be bottled. Once the bottling is done, it should be a couple of months before the beer is ready to drink. The recipe is for an Irish Red. It won’t be exactly like a Killian’s, but hopefully will be better. I’m finding out that it would have been cheaper to sit in a lounge chair all day, go to the ABC liquor store, and buy a six pack of Killian’s, but where’s the fun in that.

Get ready to hoist a few!

Just (Not Ready To Compete With Budweiser Yet) Jack

Dull Week

 Not much is happening down here. For most people it would be boring, but for us, we’re doing what we like to do and that’s not all bad.

We usually lift weights two days a week, bike four days a week, run three days a week and swim two days a week. As many of you know I have a reaction to the chlorine in the pool. The past couple of times have been a real adventure.

A week ago last Friday I swam for about 45 minutes non-stop in the pool at the YMCA in Spring Hill. I felt like I could have swam (or is it swum) all day. I had a good pace going and never got tired. I finished at around 4 PM and by 8 I had broken out under both arms, my right leg up near the area where it attaches to my body, and my left shin. Those were the spots with blotches about an inch and a half in diameter.

On at least 25 spots elsewhere on my body there was a dot. Well, not a dot exactly…it looked more like a mosquito bite. Every area itched like poison ivy and it drove me crazy. I awoke at around 3:30 AM Saturday morning and couldn’t get back to sleep.

This week, I waited until Friday to swim again. I took a Benadryl before I went, swam for about 55 minutes, and took another Benadryl some time after I came back. I took another around dinner time and another when I went to bed. I had some spots, and they did itch, but they weren’t nearly as bad as the week before. I know I haven’t solved the problem, and the advice everyone gives me is DON’T SWIM IN THE POOL, but that’s not an option.

We went out Wednesday with our friend Larry from Buffalo, NY and met a friend of his from Albany, NY at the Withlacoochie. We did an easy ride out to around 16 miles. Their wives were back at the car waiting and only one of them did any riding, so we turned around to go back. It was slightly into the wind, but flat as a pancake. We stopped at one of the crossroads and tried to figure out how far it was back. I thought it was 5 miles, but Larry and his friend Larry (I know…the line from the Newhart Show was Larry, his brother Daryl and his other brother Daryl), said it was closer to 7 miles.

Larry said that if Jean could make it back to the car in 20 minutes, he would give her a prize. For you people who are math challenged, in order to go 7 miles in 20 minutes you have to average 21 miles an hour. Not a problem. Jean took off, Larry and Larry kicked it up and rode right with her and I hung on for dear life. Larry and Larry dropped off with about 2 miles to go to cool down, but Jean kept going and I stayed 3 or 4 bike lengths back. Before you think I think I can keep up with Jean, I know that I was going full out and Jean, I’m sure, wasn’t.

Thursday night we decided we would go out to Mike’s Dockside for dinner and we asked our friend Jan Kietzmann if she would like to go with us. Actually, as I think back, Jean and Jan decided to go to Mike’s and asked me if I wanted to go along. Anyway, when we got there, a guy was directing traffic to park in a field across the yacht basin since it was “Bike Night”. My first thought was that we could have ridden our bikes, worn our Trilanders jackets, and blended right in. WRONG!

The bikes were motorcycles and, by the time we left, there were at least a couple hundred of them. We ate inside and, when we got there, there were only two other tables being used. About the time our meals came, about 20 bikers (male and female) came in, pushed four tables together, and sat down. I asked Jan and Jean to go over and tell them they were being a little loud, but they didn’t want to act like they were flirting with the guys when their girlfriends were around. Out of the 20 people at that table, apparently one guy didn’t get the memo about the dress code, since he was the only one not dressed in black and it was mostly black leather.

When the bill came, I grabbed the pen and drew what looked like a tattoo on my forearm. I’m not sure that helped me blend in as I walked out in my Asics running shoes, white Smartwool crew socks, khaki shorts and my North Face pullover.

Oh, well. I am what I am!

Just (Trying Hard To Fit In) Jack

On The Trail

 On last Saturday (New Years Eve) we rode the Suncoast Trail North from Anderson Snow Park to the end. We rode with our friend from Buffalo, N.Y., Larry, a 70 plus year old fanatic bike rider. If he’s healthy, I can’t keep up with him. This year he’s recovering from a surgery and it’s taking a while for him to get back to full strength. The plan was for Jean and I to ride to the turn-around and Larry would ride shorter than that. We stopped in the parking lot to adjust Jean’s bike computer and, two minutes later, Larry rode in.

When we left, Jean took off a minute or two before Larry and I did. We were chit-chatting about altitude (70 feet difference from start to finish in 18+ miles). When we took off I let Larry take the lead. He tried his best to catch Jean, but ran out of energy about half-way back. He kept urging me to go get her, but I told him I wasn’t in a hurry, and just followed. He told his wife (jokingly) that I “wheel-sucked” all 18+ miles back, but, if you know me, you’d know I stayed about 4 bike lengths back.

My odometer read 38 miles and his read 37. If you’ve read enough of these you know that I like to be accurate (I’ve started to attend weekly meetings where I get up and say “My name is Jack and I’m obsessive”). Larry told me the mile markers on the Suncoast between SR-52 and SR-54 are right on the button and I could find out which of us is right.

So, this past Wednesday, Jean and I did a ride on that part of the trail. My odometer said 33.33 miles, but obviously it wasn’t right, so I can’t say how far we went. During the early part of the ride I looked at my odometer at the same time I passed a mile marker and it said 12.41 miles. I kept looking at each mile and it looked like I was recording something over 1.02 miles. After the eighth mile my odometer read 20.59 miles.

The horror!!! The humanity!!! Something had to be done. We went out to dinner that night. But before we went, I got on the Sigma Sport website (a German Company) and downloaded the instructions to change the wheel size setting on my bike computer. I got out the calculator, divided 8.00 miles by 8.18 miles and multiplied that number times the millimeters programmed into my bike computer (1333) and got 1303.5. I spent several minutes trying to decide whether to change it to 1303 or 1304. I changed it to 1304. I couldn’t wait to test it again. That’s not obsessive is it?

Well, yesterday (Saturday) we did a 24.35 mile short bike. When we started it was 50 degrees and when we ended it was 48 with wind from the North at 10 mph, gusting to 18. Balmy for Michigan…cold for Florida. I looked at the bike computer at the first mile marker and it read 6.79. I looked at each mile marker before the turn-around at SR-52 and it stayed right on. The last one read 11.79, so I’m as close to accurate as I can get. The final test will be for me to take my Garmin (a GPS device I use for running) and see how it comes out. Oh Joy!!!

Jean and I did a short ride on Monday. We went from Anderson Snow Park South to SR-52, which is around 11 miles one way. The wind was blowing around 15-20 straight from the South with some higher gusts. When we got to SR-52, we stopped for a minute, got a drink (Gatorade, not Margaritas), and started back up. We were going with the wind and were cruising along at about 19 mph.

All of a sudden, a young 20 something girl passed us. Jean was in the lead and we stayed behind her for about a minute. I could see Jean squirming in her seat and I knew what was going to happen. She just couldn’t stand being passed. All of a sudden she sat up a slight bit, and took off. In about ten seconds she passed the girl, said something about the wind, and broke away with me right on her heels. At times we were in the 26 mph range riding the wind. After a couple of miles I looked back and the girl was nowhere to be seen. Sound like Jean?

It’s warming back up today and it looks like the rides this week will be when the temp is in the low 70s. We’re getting lots of saddle time in, but the trails are getting boring, so we may venture out to San Antonio (about 25 miles East of here) and do a 40 mile loop through the “Kumquat Capital of the World”. If we stop at the theme park, we’ll take pictures.

Just (Happy To Be Comfortable Riding Again) Jack 

Mobe Rules

Jean at the Mobe 


I hope you all had a nice New Years Eve and didn’t party too much. Jean and I went to a friend’s place here in the park. It started at 5:30. Jean won the bet. She said we’d be home by 9 and I said we’d be home by 10. We got home at 9:10 (yes, PM–I have come home at 9 AM New Years morning, but that was in my much younger days).

As to the title of this week’s e-mail…it doesn’t mean that I think mobes are the best thing going. That would be “Mobes Rule“. Jean and I have lived in larger homes than the mobe in Florida and, with tight quarters, there are some unwritten rules.

In the master bedroom we have a closet with sliding doors. If she leaves her side open, that means that in order for me to get anything out, I have to go to her end, close her side, go back to my end and open it. Mobe Rule #1 – Close you side of the closet when you are done.

In the bathroom, above the sink, we have one of those old medicine cabinets that is short and wide. I keep my things in one side and Jean keeps her things in the other side. If Jean leaves her side open, and I want to get out my shaving cream for my every other day de-whiskering, I have to close her side before I can open mine. Mobe Rule #2 – Close your side of the medicine cabinet when you are done.

In both of the above cases, I occasionally leave my side open just so she can see how aggravating it is.

The mobe has a fairly small kitchen that is enclosed on three sides by walls and is partially blocked on the fourth side by an eating bar that extends into the room. I eat differently than Jean, and usually make my own food if we don’t go out to eat. If two people are in the kitchen at the same time, you are constantly bumping into each other. When I go into the kitchen, it seems to be a trigger that brings Jean in to do something. Most often it has nothing to do with food preparation and may be rinsing out the coffee pot, emptying the dishwasher, etc. Mobe Rule #3 – The first one in the kitchen has priority. All others KEEP OUT.

The refrigerator is a fairly small one with one shelf for large things and a couple of shelves and spaces in the doors for smaller things. I can reach in to get a pitcher of Crystal Light or water from the Brita water filter and, before I can get it back, Jean has put something short in the only space available for something tall. Besides blatantly abusing Mobe Rule #3 by being in the kitchen the same time that I am, she’s putting something short on the tall shelf. Mobe Rule #4 – Only tall things go on the tall shelf…short things go anywhere else.

I won’t bore you with Mobe Rules #5 through 16. You get the idea. It’s a universal truth that order must prevail. If the Mobe Rules aren’t followed, chaos ensues, and I feel lost.

On a different note, but also a slap in the face of science, I just don’t understand the differences in the same temperature. If you read last week’s e-mail and didn’t delete it by mistake, you may remember the picture I sent showing me watching television in Michigan. Remember the temperature was 57 degrees. The other night something strange happened and I don’t quite understand it.

It’s Jean’s house up North, and I don’t change the thermostat. So if it’s 57 degrees, I bundle up to keep warm. Jean seems to be quite comfortable and laughs at me if I have gloves and a jacket on. Down here, it’s my mobe, so Jean doesn’t touch the thermostat (Mobe Rule #12). I keep it on about 66 degrees. We were watching TV and it was my turn to sit in the chair (we don’t have much furniture yet so we have to take turns) and there was Jean on the floor wrapped up in a blanket. The picture is attached. She says that 66 degrees down here is much colder than 57 degrees up North.

There will be times up North when she’ll say something like “It really looks warm outside. Why does the heat keep coming on?” It may look nice outside but that doesn’t mean that it’s warm. And, in the winter, unless the outside temperature is above 57, the heat will come on. Granted, I do understand thermal heating when the sun is out, and the house cooling off faster when the wind blows than when it doesn’t blow. But 66 degrees is the same temperature whether you are in Moose Pass Alaska or Key West Florida.

Just (After 16 Years I Still Have A Lot To Learn) Jack