Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Ohio: Columbus to Cleveland

I don't really remember why we decided to go to Cleveland for Thanksgiving. Anyway, let's go to  Cleveland for Thanksgiving!

We left on Wednesday after work and got as far as Indianapolis, IN.  We didn't really do anything other than fart around in the Airbnb. We always get a hoot out of how much of the Airbnbs' furniture we recognize from IKEA.

The light in the kitchen could have doubled as a tanning bed.

I think cabin fever must have set in because Lydia was losing it while reading the guestbook. What sort of person reads the guestbook anyway?

Losing it.

Lost it.

Brandon has a pretty pink suitcase. I didn't have to even look inside to know that this was full of baby dolls.

Our friend Svetlana lives in Indianapolis so we made plans to meet her at Metro Diner. Apparently it's a chain. And we went to the wrong one. The other one was so far away that we just said screw it and had some breakfast.

We found Ohio right where we expected it to be, which was nice.

We passed Columbus, Ohio and I wanted to stop, take a peek, and stretch my legs. Lydia was all "everything will be closed it's Thanksgiving wah wah". We stopped in Columbus.

And we didn't even have to pay the meter! In yo face Lydia! Hahaha!

The Ohio Statehouse looks kind of weird. Like they ran out of money for the dome at the end and just made it flat on top. It's a pretty old one, built between 1839 and 1861.

Ok, so it was closed, but it did have cool door handles.

Then we drove the rest of the way to Cleveland.

Cleveland and environs have a solid craft beer scene so I was excited to punch up Thanksgiving a little with some strange and exciting brews. We found a gas station which ended up being beer Nirvana.

I'm not embarrassed to admit I bought this one just because the label referenced one of my favorite movies: Donnie Darko. Ok, it was made in Michigan but who cares. Close enough. The label was nice and creepy:

"95 Days… 23 Hours… 14 Minutes… 38 Seconds… 
That is when the batch will be ready.

And when it is, we can breathe a sigh of relief because there will be so much dark fruit cider to look forward to.

The one in the Stupid Man Suit must complete the batch and return the tank to the Primary Universe where it belongs.

Do not doubt his commitment to fermentation. The bottling day is coming and the world is counting on him.

What is the point of living if you don’t have a bottle?


The Airbnb was nice and homey, and was a good setting for a little Thanksgiving dinner.

There were some medieval looking chalices that were perfect for my fancy hard cider with balaton cherry, raspberry, and black currant.

Dinner turned out pretty awesome.

Ok, this one was legitimately from Cleveland, and it was made with spruce tips! So holiday festive!

"Spruce tips possess many of the same aromas and flavors as hops, but also have a pleasant citrusy pine not unique to themselves. We used a blend of spruce tips and hops in this seasonal beer to yield a balance between tropical hop goodness and piney dankness."

Then it was food coma on the couch time. A Thanksgiving tradition.

Our Airbnb was nestled in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, only a couple of blocks away from the house they used in the 1983 film A Christmas Story. So I procured the film for our viewing pleasure.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

I Brewed a Beer at Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch has periodic "engagement" events to keep employees happy and dissuade them from quitting/hurling themselves into the beer vats with bricks in their pockets. Well I was especially excited about our trip to the Star Shop Brewery. The "star" of course is a reference to the iron star anchors used to brace the masonry in Soulard's plentiful brick buildings.

The Star Shop is located in the actual brewery part of campus. I don't usually have a reason to go to this part of town so I was excited just by that.

I was impressed by all of the equipment. Even after making the beer I have only a partial understanding of what it all does, but I definitely improved my familiarity.

Dusty was our guide for this adventure. He has been doing this a long time so he had a good feel of what combinations of ingredients wouldn't be a disaster.

There was a large amount of scrubbing, hosing, and sterilizing of things during this process. Keeping things sterile is important so you don't get weird bacteria in your beer making weird flavors and otherwise ruining the fun.

My understanding is A-B makes beers like Budweiser at a high proof then waters them down afterwards to meet whatever alcohol by volume they're looking for. There were several beers on tap but the most special of them all was the full strength, high octane Budweiser. It had a lot more taste to go with the additional alcohol. It was also kind of cool because it's not available outside of the brewery. It's just too real for regular folks.

Brewing a beer in the Star Shop was like homebrewing on crack because we could use A-B resources. They had a large array of malt and hop varieties that we could choose from and mix and match. We split into two teams making different beers. My team starting yapping about making an IPA but luckily I was able to steer us to something less boring. I asked our brew-guide Dusty "what's the weirdest ingredient you have?" and he swiftly opened up the pepper drawer.

Of course the next question was "which of these is the hottest?"

We had a couple of brave taste testers take a nibble of the peppers and the hotness was confirmed.

Roasted malts taste like delicious cereal without the sugar.

The more roasted the malt, the darker the color of the beer and the more rich/coffee-like the taste becomes. Cool.

Well what I didn't know is that even a dark beer is only a certain percentage dark roasted malt. I assume that anyone who drank a beer brewed from 100% dark roasted malt would be consumed by the darkness. Sort of like Bird Box.

They had a cool grain grinder that was fun to use.

There was plenty of beer sampling in-between brewing stages. One must keep oneself hydrated. Clearly there was a Busch fan involved in decorating. The place had an awesome retro Busch Bavarian metal sign on one wall.

One of the cup choices was also these awesome wax paper cups.

Some of the other beers people had made.

So hoppy to be here.

Hop fridge.

They did have some little barrels on which to age beers. I tried to angle us into one of those with no success.

I did my share of scrubbing. I mostly liked that the brand of the gloves was "vinylove".

There was hops weighing.

The ad copy on these was fantastic: "More than 1,250,000 visitors-among them Princes, Ambassadors, Commissioners General-as well as representative people from all parts of the world, passed through this great plant during the World's Fair, all of whom will attest the grandeur and magnificence of the buildings, the prevailing cleanliness and the excellence of its product." I think it's cool that the clock tower used to have an observation deck.

So grandeur. So magnificence. If top hat was an acceptable thing to wear, what kind of self-hating type would not go for the top hat? 

They had some Blue Point firkins on hand and brewer-man Dusty asked us if we wanted to tap one. Yes, yes we do.

Towards the end of the process we loaded our beer up with cacao nibs, cinnamon sticks, and hot peppers. We came up with a name for our brew that I'm pretty proud of: "Navidad De Fuego: El Chapo's Revenge".

Then it was back to work, and weeks of waiting for our delicious beer to be ready. It was a really fun day.