Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Flandria Fixed Gear (Fixie) Conversion Project - Frame and Fork

Alright so I have the bike completely disembled and it looks ugly. This frame started out white and is now a nice light brown. It also had some spots of bright orange. How you ask, it was in the crossfire of a paintball fight inside our house in college. This bike is all about style so it needed to be repainted. And I care nothing about the re-sale value or ruining a true vintage bike.
For me, I love matte black paint on bicycles. You mix in even a bit of carbon fiber and I'm sold. I wanted to embrace the craftsmenship that is lugged steel frames. Actually I wanted to show off the lugged steel frame. I decided to strip all the paint (tubes and lugs). Once I had stripped all the paint with the angle grinder (look at previous post for more details), I really liked the look of the exposed steel. While I had the angle grinder out I decided I'd clean up the frame and remove all the cable guides since they are now obsolete.
Now that I have a completely striped down frame and fork. The tedious part came along. I needed to tape off all the steel lugs, and this bike has some nice features to the lugs. The easiest way is to use several small pieces of tape to help fit all the contours. Then go back with a razor blade or better an exacto knife and trim the excess from the frame.
On to Frame Painting, I painted this one the same as the 1970's Huffy. This is not the best way but it produces a decent product.  For my next project, I will buy a cheap spray gun and automotive paint. That way will produce a more durable paint coat. The other way is to go onto powder coating and without specialized equipment this is impossible. Although, others have figured out ways to do this at home (google it).

So quick RE-cap of my process:
1. Angle grinder to remove bulk of paint
2. Drill attachment/ sand paper to remove in crevices
3. Wipe down very well to remove oils with degreaser
4. Plug holes and hang with coat hangers
5. Spray 2 light coats of primer
6. After 24 hours, use 600 grit wet sand paper to smooth problem areas and give good surface adhesion
7. Spray 2 light coats of Base color
8. After 24 hours, use 600 grit wet sand paper
9. Spray 2 light coats of Base color
10. After 24 hours, use 600 grit wet sand paper
11. Spray 2 light coats of Base color
12. After 24 hours, use 600 grit wet sand paper
13. Spray 2 light coats of clear coat
14. Allow a week before reassembly

Just remember that surface prep and the more thin coats with prep between each is extremely important. Also a high quality clear coat makes all the difference. Finding a matte finish clear coat is tricky but I was able to find a decent quality one at Home Depot. But you may also have luck at a body shop if they are willing to fill an aerosol can.

Step 1 - Background, Disassemble

Step 2 - Frame Painting
Step 3 - Handlebar & Fork Assembly
Step 4 - Gearing (Gear Ratio)
Step 5 - Wheels and Hubs
Step 6 - Custom Leather Saddle
Step 7 - Custom Leather Handlebars

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cooking with Beer: Slow Cooked Pulled Pork

We were having our End of Summer BBQ at work, even though San Diego didn't really have a summer this year. I needed a dish that would feed a small office (I decided 4.5 lb pork shoulder will work) and wouldn't require too much cooking time at work. This means time for the slow cooker.  I really like using slow cookers for the ease and the ability to make some very tender meat. But what they lack is being able to get a nice flavorful skin on the meat. So with this one I decide to throw the meat on the smoker for a few hours before serving.
Where does the beer come in. The beer is used in the slow cooker. I loosely used the BBQ Sauce recipe from the Homebrew Chef, Sean Paxton. I omitted the espresso for this one since I was using my Belgian Dubbel instead of stout. I also added enough beer to fill most of the slow cooker.
I set it on low for overnight cooking about 10 hours. It was a pretty great smell to wake up to. I got to work early and set up my electric water smoker.
I took the basically done pork shoulder and dried it of with paper towels. I then put a dry rub all over. I used the dry rub recipe from the Smoking Bottle blog (his pork recipe is here).
The pork was on the smoker for about 4 hours and it got just a bit of smoke. I would prefer more but for this case it worked pretty well. So all that is left is to grab 2 forks and start pulling. If cooked well this should take minimal effort. I then like to mix the cooked meat with my favorite BBQ sauce and serve that way. But for this work event I allowed people to put on their own BBQ sauce. I'm still working on making my own BBQ sauce that I like as much as Sweet Baby Ray's.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Testing Wild / Native Plants and Spices in Beer, Round 1

I have been wanting to test different native plants and spices in some of my beers. I have tried or read about beers that have had these spices in them or something close. But I was very curious what each of these tasted like on their own. So the best way for me to test was to make some teas. If anyone has a better idea let me know.
This is only a first round of testing. I have many more plants and spices that I have collected or have wondered about at the ethnic market.

Round 1:
Common Name: Coriander
Latin Name: Coriandrum sativum
Dosage: 1 tsp with 4 oz boiling water
Usage: Coriander seed oil is an aromatic stimulant, a carminative (remedial in flatulence), an appetizer and a digestant stimulating the stomach and intestines. The seeds are warm, mild and sweetish
My Impression: Taste - Citrus undertone similar to orange peel
Aroma -Nice, sweet, citrus and spice
Color - Pale Yellow

Common Name: Mexican Elderberry Berries (dried)
Latin Name: Sambucus mexicana
Dosage: 1 tsp with 4 oz boiling water 
Usage: Elderberries contain potassium and large amounts of vitamin C, and have been proven in quite a few recent studies to shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms, as well as strengthen the immune system. Elderberries are also a good source of anthocyanins
My Impression: Taste - Nice promegranete tea
Aroma - Light, sweet, fruity
Color - Yellow-brown

Common Name: Pearly Everlasting
Latin Name: gnaphalium Californicum
Dosage: 1 tsp with 4 oz boiling water
Usage: Some Indians used the dry flowers, available for roughly 5 months (July into November), to stuff pillows.  The herbal medicinal uses of Pearly Everlasting are minor.
My Impression: Taste - Herbal tea
Aroma -Tea-like, slightly floral
Color - Light Yellow

Common Name: White Sage
Latin Name:
Salvia apiana
Dosage: 1 Tbs with 4 oz boiling water 
Usage: The white sage offers gardeners many pleasures such as beautiful floral display, strong scents, and bold foliage. Many California Indians believe that the white sage is sacred and use them in purification ceremonies.
My Impression: Taste - Mild sage flavor, a mild bittering
Aroma - Sage!!! great aroma
Color - Pink (not sure how this works)

Common Name:
California Sagebrush
Latin Name: Artimisia Californica
Dosage: 1 tsp with 4 oz boiling water 
Usage: The fruits are eaten by birds and it is a larval plant for butterflies. The blue-green lacy foliage is useful for indigestion and stomach cramps. It can also be used as a scent in a sauna.
My Impression: Taste -Extremely bitter, coats your whole mouth in bitter astringency
Aroma - Great Sage smell, about equal to White Sage
Color - Light brown

Common Name: Douglas Mugwort
Latin Name: Two types:
Artemisia vulgaris (found on East Coast and other Countries)
Artemisia douglasiana (found on the West Coast and what I am using)
Dosage: .05 oz with 4 oz boiling water 
Usage: Mugwort leaves are edible, young leaves are boiled as a pot herb or used in salad, they aid in digestion although said to have a bitter taste. Used for centuries as an alternative medicine, it is antibacterial, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, haemostatic, nervine, purgative, stimulant, stomachic, and tonic, cleansing toxins from the blood.
My Impression: Taste - Extremely bitter, may work with proper dilution (has been used in place of hops)
Aroma - Very minty, menthol (like Vapor Rub)
Color - Brown

I really enjoyed doing this experiment and I think I will dose some of my current beers with some concentrated teas. Stay tuned for Round 2.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dreg Series: Russian River Golden Sour

This is one I have been patiently waiting to drink use. I have read about good results from using Russian River dregs. And I think Consecration is my favorite of their sours. It has their usual bug mix that includes Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, & Pediococcus. The beer is a dark Belgian style ale aged in American oak Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with currants added to beer while it is aging.
I decided to add it to my Belgian Golden Strong because I thought this base is pretty basic so it would help me to understand the flavors that the dregs are capable of. And once I am familiar with the flavors I will adjust next year's base beer to match up.
Day 1:
 Day 5:

Update 11.19.10 - 2 month mark
Update 02.17.11 - 5 month
Gravity 1.004
Has some nice Belgium phenols, a slight funk and tart smell. Still needs a more time and maybe a feeding ( I'm thinking some fruit (I have some persimmons that were frozen fresh))
Update 03.19.11
I added 1 lb of fresh frozen Persimmons. I added them pretty early because I want them to be a background flavor. They are basically just a long-term food source for the bugs.
Updated 11.08.11
Gravity stable at 1.004. And this beer has really turned the corner on the sourness. It is one of the most sour beers I have made to date. From the hydrometer sample, there was a light fruitiness that would be difficult to pin down as persimmons. Not much left from the Belgian yeast, but maybe once carbonated.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Belgian Beer Series: Golden Strong or Tripel?

So it seems like there is a huge confusion in the homebrew community when it comes to the differences between a Belgian Golden Strong and Belgian Tripel. Here is my attempt to figure it out. So the only place I really know where to look, the BJCP Guidelines.

Category 18C. Belgian Tripel
Category 18D. Belgian Golden Strong Ale

So I put the 2 descriptions side by side. Here are the differences:
Tripel - Significant Spiciness (cloves, peppery)
Golden Strong - Significant Fruitiness (pears, oranges, apples)
Tripel - Deep Yellow to Gold
Golden Strong - Yellow to Medium Gold
Tripel - Medium-light to Medium Body, no alcohol warmth
Golden Strong - Light to Medium Body, Noticeable alcohol warmth
"Golden Strong resembles a Tripel, but may be paler, lighter-bodied and even crisper and drier."
Tripel - OG-1.075-1.085, IBU-20-40, FG-1.008-1.014, SRM-4.5-7, ABV-7.5-9.5%
Golden Strong - OG-1.070-1.095, IBU-22-35, FG-1.005-1.016, SRM-3-6, ABV-7.5-10.5%

To further confuse me, I was planning to use my WLP 500 yeast cake that I have been building up with my Belgian Single and Dubbel. My experience with this yeast being fermented around 63 - 65F, I have gotten a lot of banana and other fruit flavors. So this will produce a beer with significant fruitiness, that means it will work better for a Golden Strong but the Chimay Cinq Cents (white) is listed as a Tripel ???
For this beer I was able to pick the mind of one of the experts at the tasting panel I went to. His name is Dion Hollenbeck and I guess his Golden Strong is quite nice. He suggested I use WLP570 which I plan on doing next year. (a cool side story is that Dion originally cultured this yeast from a Gulden Draak bottle and gave it to Chris White). He recommended a very simple grain bill which I am coming to think is the only way for Belgian Beers. He also believes that these beers improve considerably with cold aging, which I will gladly test.

Recipe: Belgian Golden Strong Ale
O.G.-1.078  F.G.-TBD   IBU-23
SRM-5  ABV-7.9-8.6%   Cal-250

Grain Bill (75% Efficiency):
10 lb Belgian Pilsner Malt (80%)
.5 lb Flaked Barley  (4%)
1 lb Refined Sugar (Beet?) (8%)(boiled, then added day 4)
1 lb Turbinado Sugar  (8%)(boiled, then added day 4)

.25 oz Saaz, 6.4%, pellet, First Wort Hopping, 90 min 7 IBU
.5 oz Saaz, 6.4%, pellet, 90 min 15.6 IBU

White Labs WLP500 Trappist Ale (Chimay) - third pitch

Brew Day:
Brewed: 9/25/10
Kegged: TBD

San Diego (Alvarado) Tap Water
1 campden tablet per 5 gal.

Mash Details:
H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.5 qt/lb
Mash Volume: 4 gal
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 149F @ 60min
Strike Temp: 162F
Batch Sparge Volume: 4.5 gal
Sparge Temp/Time: 170F @ 30min

Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 7 gal
Boil Time: 90min
Post Boil Volume: 5 gal

Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.060 + sugar added on Day 4
Ferment Temp: 63-69F
Length: 21 days in primary
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