I wanted to make Jaime Paglia an oatmeal stout, because that's his favorite. When I went to the shop to get supplies, though, Greg (who owns it) told me that you really have to do a partial mash or all-grain to get it just right. I'm not quite ready for that, yet, so I went with my backup plan, and made a Southern English Brown Ale (this is a brown ale style that's smoother and sweeter than the northern style, and not as hoppy as the American style). It went off without a hitch, and it looked and smelled wonderful when I put it into the bucket to start fermenting. I'm really excited to see how it turns out.
I also have an IPA that's dry-hopping with an ounce of Cascade in the carboy. I checked the gravity on Friday, and if I did the math right, it's about 7%, which is exactly what I was going for ... and holy balls does it smell and taste great. It's got exactly the right amount of floral and citrus notes, with some hop bitterness behind it all, and it hasn't even conditioned in bottles, yet! I'm seriously considering entering it into a competition, so I can get some good feedback on it and find out if it's as good as I think it is. For those of you wondering, it's called Critical Hit IPA.
Speaking of beer, the most frequently asked question at DragonCon and PAX was some variation of "How's the beer you made with Ryan?" Oh, you mean ... this beer?
In a word: awesome. It exceeded our wildest expectations, especially considering that I think I made some mistakes in the brewing process. There was an amusing moment last week when I opened a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (the beer it's based on) and after a few sips I thought, "It's okay, but it's no Wheaton's Own Going To California!" Here's the label that Joel Watson did for us. It was my idea to base it on the Sierra Nevada label and Ryan's idea to include something from each of us (a d20 for me, an atom for him). I know we left Yeast off the ingredients list, but we decided that yeast could be awesome in this case.
For those of you scoring at home, Wheaton's Own was suggested by Grant Imahara. We almost went with his revised name, Wheaton's Pwn, but I can't remember why we didn't. It's called Goin' To California Pale Ale because we listened to Zeppelin IV while we brewed it, and it's a California-style Pale Ale. It's very low alcohol -- I don't think it's even 5% -- but it looks and tastes great, and that's most important to me.
We did a 5 gallon batch, and split the bottles, so we each got around 22 for ourselves. As of this morning, I'm down to 8 bottles, so I'm rationing until the IPA is ready.
I've officially found a hobby that I love, and will do for the rest of my life. I'm excited to get a kegging system, learn to do all-grain, and start designing my own beers. I've even reached into the stars and plucked out a new dream: to own a brewpub someday. When I told Anne that, she said that she thought it would be awesome to do that, but I'd left something out.
"What's that?" I said.
"You need to combine it with your dream of owning an 80s arcade. Think about that: it's a brewpub where you make your own beer, serve a little food, and have the 80s arcade games you love for people to play."
Does my wife know me, or what?