Monthly Archives: December 2008

Merry Christmas

“Tis the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…” ‘cuz I’m all alone. No, don’t feel sorry for me…that’s a good thing. I went to the hardware store, bought myself some wood glue, and fixed my computer chair. Well, really it’s a dining chair from the set that was out at the cottage. We brought it in when we rented the cottage out and I’ll take it back out since the renters are moving.

I had told the renters I wanted the cottage back by March 20th. I don’t have much to do without having the cottage to putter around at, and it doesn’t look like a sale is going to happen anytime soon. So, I’ll take it back, reclaim the yard from the moles…or at least get it back to a 50-50 stand-off, and use it as a cottage until the real estate market gets better.

With the rent money from the last 15 months, I may look at some upgrades too. I plan to replace the carpet in the downstairs hallway, the stairs, the upstairs hallway and the master bedroom. I may consider air conditioning, although there are lots of ceiling fans and you only need it for two or three weeks of the year. I’m also thinking about lawn sprinklers…the lawn always seems to die out in late July and August. I may consider some type of path or stairway to get from the main level down to the lake without having to walk on the lawn or through the walk-out basement. That list should keep me busy.

I have all my Christmas shopping done and have had for a few days. Granted, much of it is gift certificates and cash, but those take work too. I went to Kalamazoo last week to get a couple of things for the kids, and it cost me $18.82 at Bell’s for some liquid refreshments (take home) and $38.74 for four Belgian import beers at Tiffany’s. Maybe I should have stuck with internet shopping.

I may have brewed my first “pour-out” batch to date. In September I made a Dopplebock. It’s a higher gravity, higher alcohol lager beer that requires cold conditioning. I made it according to the recipe, except that I substituted dextrin malt for malto dextrin (that shouldn’t make much difference) and I couldn’t find Tettnanger hops so I used Spalt hops, a recommended substitute. I hit my expected original gravity within one point (actual 1.082 vs. expected 1.081), and my final gravity within two points (actual 1.020 vs. recipe 1.021 to 1.022). I fermented it at recommended lager temperatures, transferred it to secondary as directed for a few more days, brought the temperature up for a diacetyl rest for a couple of days, and lowered the temperature to 35° for a seven week lagering.

When I bottled it, all I could taste was alcohol and I wrote in my notes “YUCK”. It’s been carbonating for three weeks, which is too short for a lager, but I had to taste it anyway. It is lightly carbonated and, again, all I can taste is alcohol. I’ll have Matt try it when he comes to Michigan in January. Maybe it will improve by then or maybe it’s exactly like it’s supposed to taste and I don’t like dopplebocks like I thought I did. The book says it peaks at around five months, so I’ll probably give it that long to bottle condition. If  it’s not any better, I’ll either pour it out or give it to anyone who has lost their taste buds but wants a quick buzz (8.24% alcohol by volume).

This looks like it will be a scattered Christmas. Robert is here now and will be until Sunday, Sara will come over tonight but is volunteering at the Battle Creek Mission all Christmas day. Rocky and Nina will be here the day after Christmas, and we’ll have our Christmas dinner on Saturday with Sara, Robert, Rocky, Nina and Jean’s brother and sister-in-law. Matt and Anna will be spending Christmas in San Francisco and Mom, Bob, Patti, Aunt Sharon and Uncle Fred will be spending Christmas in Florida. Nice weather in Florida and California vs. crappy weather in Michigan…what would you pick??

As usual, I have overdosed on chocolate, peanuts and other sweets and my body is rebelling. Without getting into the gory details, I’ll just say I’m laying off the sweets for a couple of days (really, I am) and will try to get rid of some of this “winter weight” after the holidays along with everyone else. As I’ve said before, if I was an alcoholic, Jean would have shot glasses of whiskey all over the house. She’s not helping my weight problem and I, obviously, have no self control.

Just (Wishing For Stretch Pants) Jack