Monday, July 28, 2008

Dirty Hairy Salutes "The Dark Knight"

Those who know me know that I avoid the hype machine the best I can, and I bandwagon as little as possible. So, instead of echoing all of the great things you have been hearing about The Dark Knight (TDK), let me just tell you a few of the things I noticed when I went to view it. (Spoiler free.)

First, TDK was a very captivating movie. I never took my eyes off the screen, even for a second. In fact, I had to remind myself to blink several times throughout the presentation.

There was a great deal of suspense during the movie, and there were several little "shocks" that made me feel like I was watching a horror movie instead of a "comic book" movie. In fact, rarely do modern horror movies get me to jump in my seat like TDK did.

It seems like the supporting cast (ie: Freeman, Caine, Gyllenhaal, Oldman) had a keen understanding of their roles, and were exceptionally careful not to draw attention away from the top players of the cast (Ledger, Bale, Eckhart).

Now, when I listed the main cast, you may have noticed Heath Ledger's name was put first. It was deliberate. Whether by design or fate, this was Heath Ledger's movie, and he stole the show. With as much as Christian Bale did to make Batman Begins special, Ledger came right back and challenged that performance. I feverishly want to avoid any cheesy sounding anecdotes about his performance as The Joker, but I feel compelled to voice the "idea" I experienced during the move, and simply put it felt like Heath Ledger haunted the movie with his depiction of The Joker. When he was on the screen during this film, your eye was involuntarily drawn to him. That is pretty much all there is to it.

So, in summary, The Dark Knight was a very well put together film that had one of the best (and most tragic) single performances on screen. I can easily recommend this knowing that anyone that does not like this movie has the problem, not the movie.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bottling the brew!

Now that our brew, unofficially named the "Phantom Dirty Hairy Lite Ale" has percolated in our bucket long enough, it is time to bottle it!

First, the bottle caps are boiled to sterilize them.

Next, the priming sugar (to create carbonation) is added to water and heated until clear.

The fermenting bucket is opened (looks bad, but smells great according to Malted Hops Jedi Master).

The beer is siphoned off into the "bottling bucket".

Another gravity test is performed (to determine alcohol %), and the initial readout of about 6% looks to be spot on!

The filling tube goes from the filling bucket to the bottles.

After filled, the bottles are capped.

The end result?
  • 18 x 12 oz. bottles
  • 19 x 22 oz. bottles
They will be ready to drink in about 3 weeks. Can't wait to try one!!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rascal Birthday Present

My mom is getting a poster of this for her birthday. It is her dog, Rascal, imposed upon "Starry Night".

Beers I drank on vacation

On the same vacation to New Hampshire that I sat in on the brewing process, I also had the opportunity to sample some of the Malted Hops Jedi Master's brews! (And a few others, too.)

This is the (in)famous Diablo brew! Maybe not the flashiest of the beers, it certainly had the most kick. Smooth as a baby's bottom, too.

After a long and hazardous winter, the malted Hops Jedi Master brewed this fine brown ale. Not too bitter, not too sweet, but JUST RIGHT.

Another fine home-made brown ale. This one is a little more "classic" in flavour than the previous brown ale (a little more robust and bitter).

This was a decent "American Ale", I kind of picked it out at random to give it a try.

Of course, Malted Hops Jedi Master had some Sam Adams on hand!

Empties! The natural byproduct of beertasting. :)

Brewing beer!

On a recent trip to New Hampshire, I sat in on a beer brewing session with my father in law (Malted Hops Jedi Master). Here's what we did! (click on images to see bigger)

First we get our "wort" (sort of like the concentrated boiled muck that becomes beer) going by boiling the grains.

Canned malts are warmed up in a pan (for easy pouring) to get added once the wort is a good temperature (just at or a little below boiling).

In it goes!

Powdered malts are next. You have to be pretty careful with this step, lest your wort boils over!

Once our malted wort has a nice rolling boil, we are ready for the first batch of hops. (The hops and grains are boiled in these swell little bags that essentially makes them like big tea bags. That way you can get the "juice" out of them, without the mess.)

A little "Irish moss" (Neither Irish, or moss, technically) is added to help sediments settle.

With about ten minutes left (in about an hour process) the second, and last, batch of hops go in.

That is some good looking wort! :)

After is has been on the heat for about an hour, we try to rapidly cool it off so we can add the yeast. First we stick the kettle with the wort in a sink full of ice to get it down to about 100 degrees F quickly.

We have our thoroughly cleaned and sterilized 5 gallon bucket, and our 5g of water on stand by!

Add the cooled down wort to the bucket, then the water. We want it about 70-75 degrees F so we can add the yeast.

Don't skip this part!!! No yeast, no alcohol! :(

After the yeast is stirred in well, a couple of small samples are taken out to judge colour, flavour, and alcohol content. The vial pictured has a little plunger you drop in, and the highest number showing on the bottom is a close approximation of what the alcohol percentage in the beer will end up being, in this case, 6%.

Finally, the bucket is lidded up tight. There is a small aerator on the top to let the carbon dioxide the yeast creates out, but lets no oxygen (bad for beer!) back in. THis will ahve to sit for a couple of weeks before it can be bottled. Hopefully the Malted Hops Jedi Master will forward me a couple pictures of that process so I can odd to this blog!