Cold Brewing Coffee

June 2, 2011 at 8:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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This time I’m brewing coffee! Yes, I know, I’ve been a coffee lover for about a quarter century, but I’m trying something new this time, cold brewing. That’s toddy, for those of you not in the know.

As a guide to this new terrain I used several websites that Jenny sent me. You can find them on my delicious page, just search for “toddy” or “coffee.” I ended up using this method of making toddy in a french press. I used roughly the same ratio, but in a larger press, taking a gamble that I’d like the results.

I did. You betcha I did.

This is the first time I’ve ever made this. I’m not an expert, I’m merely synthesizing information from different websites and trying it out. It’s just that my first time yielded such good results, I had to share.

Large (48 oz/1500 ml) coffee press
Coffee grinder

2 cups (475 ml) of coffee beans
Filtered water (cold or room temperature)

Grind the coffee on a coarse setting. Add to the press. Fill it with room temperature or cold water. Stir to make sure all the grounds are wet. Wait 2 minutes. Stir again. Let sit 12 hours overnight. Plunge press slowly. Pour into a container and refrigerate. Either strain through a paper coffee filter, or do not pour the last bit of sludge. It will (supposedly) keep up to two weeks.

The result is essentially (pun intended) a coffee concentrate. For hot coffee, add one part concentrate to 3-5 parts boiling water. For iced coffee, add a similar amount of cold water and ice.

The result is coffee that is much less bitter, but, since you’re making a concentrate, you can make it as strong as you like. Folks who regularly add cream and/or sugar to their coffee will probably want to add less, if any.

Personally, I have been drinking my coffee black for over a decade. I used one part concentrate to about 4 parts boiling water. The result was a cup of coffee that was among the most smooth and flavorful as I have ever had, and I’ve had some really good coffee in my life. I plan on using the concentrate to make smoothies as well.

Next time, I am going to try doing it with about half as much coffee beans, and I’ll also try changing the brew time, perhaps to as much as 24 hours. I’ll post any relevant observations in the comments. I’d also love to hear about your experiences with cold-brewed coffee!


The Golden Dragon

April 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I just started a Northern Brewer recipe called The Golden Dragon. It’s a Belgian dark strong ale. With an original gravity of 1.083 (20.2 Brix), this will be the strongest beer I have ever made. Like the Winter Warmer, I did a yeast starter for this one. Here’s the description of where this recipe came from.

“Legend tells us that the recipe for this Belgian beer was given by a Norse king to the city of Minneapolis after Vikings buried the Kensington Rune Stone up north, but it was stolen by railroad magnate and St. Paul resident James J. Hill and ensconced in a turret of his Summit Avenue mansion. It remained hidden there, undisturbed for years, until NB’s Heyward Gualandi retrieved it after a grueling traverse climb along the South wall. Or maybe Heyward made it all up. Whatever you end up believing after sipping down a chalice of this formidable Belgian dark strong ale, there can be no doubt that it’s potent and delicious. A beguiling complex of dried fruit, toast, butter caramel, spice, and ethanol wafts out of the glass and fills your mouth, leading up to a long rich finish. … It looks innocuous, it tastes smooth, but it can breathe fire … ”

It’s probably BS, but it’s a good story. I plan to bottle this one in traditional Belgian style 750 ml bottles with corks and everything. This is going to be a special occasions beer. I accidentally added the 5 minute hops at the 15 minute mark, so it will taste a little hoppier than intended, but hopefully not too much more bitter.

So, if you ever drink any craft beer from a Belgian style 750 ml bottle, I’d love to take the bottle off your hands when you’re done. Whether they have corks or caps, I’ll take ’em.

In other news, I tried the Bavarian Hefeweizen I brewed 5 weeks ago. It’s a week early, but I couldn’t resist. It tastes good, but it’ll benefit from sitting another week or two. Yeasty and yummy!

In non-beer news, I made some origami, I went for my first motorcycle ride of the season, and it’s end-of-the-semester crunch time at work. Motorcycle classes start in 3 weeks, and I can’t wait for my Arizona trip.

Bavarian Hefeweizen

March 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The next brew is Northern Brewer’s Bavarian Hefeweizen. This recipe was much simpler than the other extract kits that I’ve gotten from Norther Brewer. Wheat malt syrup, dry malt powder, and one bag of 60-minute hops. And the yeast, of course. I guess that’s the point of this beer; it’s all about the wheat and the yeast.

I brewed it yesterday with some friends. We ended up putting it in the carboy at 7:30PM, and it was already bubbling away this morning at 10AM. It smells distinctly different from other beers I’ve brewed at this stage. It smells lighter and cleaner somehow. Curious.

Here is a list of the beers that I’ve brewed so far.

St. Paul’s Porter, 08/2009. This one showed signs of an infection on bottling day, after the beer was in secondary fermentation for a few weeks. I did secondary fermentation in a plastic bucket instead of a glass carboy, since I didn’t have two carboys. There were a few strands of moldy looking stuff in the beer. Rather than toss it, I scooped out the strands with a sanitized slotted spoon, and bottled it, hoping for the best. It turned out ok, and I inspected every bottle of beer as I opened and poured it for signs of anything that shouldn’t be there, and found none. Every bottle was fine, and it tasted ok, but I couldn’t bring myself to offer it to anyone else. I eventually drank it all, but the experience as a whole was not completely satisfying.

Caribou Slobber Brown Ale, 03/2010. This time I cleaned and sanitized the plastic secondary fermenter scrupulously, and the beer came out a winner. Seriously good. Like, I’d pay money for this beer, good. Everyone who tasted it liked it. This success really fired me up for long term home brewing.

Belgian Dubbel, 07/2010. This time I took advantage of a sale NB was having on 5-gallon glass carboys. No more fermenting in plastic for me! This beer was another huge success. Belgian hard candies were added during the boil. It is a nice, complex beer that gets better with age. I have two bottles left in the basement that I’m saving for a special occasion, maybe for when my Dad visits next, hopefully this summer. Jenny doesn’t care for it, but I love it.

Caribou Slobber Brown Ale, 08/2010. I had lots of requests to make this one again, and it was just as good as the last time. I think I have to make this one a regular in the rotation.

Winter Warmer, 12/2010. This one had more fermentable sugars in the wort (unfermented beer), resulting in a higher alcohol content in the end. This recipe required a yeast starter for that reason; it lets the yeast multiply before brewing day so there’s enough of them to handle all those carbs. It turned out tasty, but the carbonation was weak. This was most likely due to the beer being stored at too cold a temperature, about 60 degrees F, right after bottling. After I realized this (I first tried it two weeks after bottling, and it was flat) I put the bottles in a temperature regulated container at 70 degrees F. One week later, it’s better, but still low carbonation. I’ll try it after another week or two and see how it turned out. I’m considering adding more sugar to the bottles and recapping them, but I’ll try being patient and waiting first. I hope the carbonation picks up, because I think it’s nice and tasty. One last note: I didn’t realize that one should swirl the yeast starter around a couple of times per day as it’s getting ready. I didn’t do this, but I’ll do it next time to see if it makes a difference.

The next beer is probably going to be Caribou Slobber again since it’s always (all two times) a winner.

I really like my hobby.

Winter Warmer

December 9, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’ve been brewing my own beer for roughly a year. I have a lot of my own equipment, and I’m borrowing some from a friend while I acquire the rest. I just started my fifth batch tonight, a darkish ale with above average alcohol content called Winter Warmer.

I get my supplies from Northern Brewer, a company based in Minnesota. If you have your own recipes, they have all the supplies you could want, or at least all I can imagine. They also have recipe kits of their own. You just browse their recipes, pick one, and they send all the ingredients with instructions.

Don’t worry, I’m not kidding myself into thinking I’m becoming the next Jim Cook; it’s a fun hobby, and it’s really good beer that’s significantly less expensive than buying microbrews.

Anyway, this recipe calls for something I’ve never done before, a yeast starter. See, normally you boil the ingredients for a while, cool it down, add yeast, and let it sit. Boiling breaks down the complex starches into simple starches the yeast can eat and turn into alcohol and carbon dioxide. But this recipe gives the yeast lots more starch, resulting in the higher alcohol content.

Apparently, the normal amount of yeast for a typical 5 gallon batch doesn’t cut it for this recipe. They can’t handle all that starch and get stressed out or something. I don’t know the details, but I know that in general, if the yeast are happy (they have the right food, the right temperature, no other bacteria to compete with, etc.) the beer probably won’t suck. I also know that NB recommend a yeast starter, and they haven’t steered me wrong yet.

Long story short, I just gave my yeast an all you can eat buffet and put on some Barry White. So instead of about a dozen billion yeast cells, I’ll be adding a couple hundred billion on brewing day so they can handle the job. This batch should be ready in February or so. I’m anticipating it’ll be worth the wait. It has been for each batch so far.

I like my new hobby.

One last try to typeset math in a blog post.

December 6, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Here we go.

[; e^i\pi + 1 = 0 ;]

Thanks, Euler.

Please comment if you can see this math nicely typeset, but not the stuff in the previous post.

Busy TeXing the world.

December 6, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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This is just a test, really, of my new Firefox add-on called TeX the World.

[; \int_{\partial M} \omega = \int_M d\omega ;]

You’re supposed to see some integrals above, if this add-on works the way it’s supposed to. I’ve tried it on Facebook, but the only people who can see the math, as opposed to the code that’s supposed to generate the math, are those who have the add-on.

If it works the way it should, the above math will appear as an image within the document, and anyone, even folks without the add-on, should be able to see it.

Here goes.

Campaign Finance Reform Crippled

January 21, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Posted in law, supreme court, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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I’m so mad I could spit.

The US Supreme Court has struck down campaign finance laws that limit the amount of money that corporations and special interest groups, like unions, can spend on campaign ads. They are still limited in the amount of money that they can contribute to the candidates, but they can create and run their own ads that endorse whatever candidate they wish which effectively nullifies that limitation.

What this basically does is allows groups that have the most money to have the loudest voice in the media. It is the capitalist equivalent of “might makes right” which is absolutely contrary to democratic values. Free speech should not be a justification for giving anyone the right to drown out other voices if they can buy a bigger megaphone.

This says to me that the majority of the supreme court (the vote was 5-4) believes that the USA is capitalist first and democratic second. I could not be more opposed to this ruling. I don’t care if the corporations and unions are in favor of a candidate/issue that I support or not. It’s just wrong.

Origami Night

April 20, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m psyched that the second Math Alliance sponsored Origami Night is happening this Wednesday. Last time I learned how to make a stellated icosahedron. Over the holidays I made the following projects. Thanks for taking the pictures, Jenny!



The are made with a technique called “modular origami”, but there will be the more traditional kind of origami also.

If you want to come, it will be at 6 p.m. on the SUNY Potsdam campus in Kellas Hall, room 105. See you there!

Spammers are tapping their own resources

October 3, 2008 at 7:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

You know all those spam emails that clutter up your inbox or junk email folder?  The ones you just throw away as soon as you see them, sometimes even BEFORE you see them, when the subject is a dead giveaway?  And even when the subject is NOT a dead giveaway, usually the english is so horrible that it’s laughable.  I assume it’s foreigners and not junior high students who are writing these and that’s why their english is so bad.

When so many people delete them so routinely, it makes you think why they do it.  It must be economical, otherwise they wouldn’t do it.  It is very cheap, but it must make a bit of money for the companies that have spammers advertise for them.  One out of a thousand, one out of 10,000 … some non-trivial proportion of the population must be responding to these emails.

Well, spammers themselves are trying to tap that market, the one in a zillion people who respond to these “ads.”  They’re trying to make their emails not so horrible sounding, with decent english, with the hope that even more people will read them, and they’re getting that one is a gazillion people to help them do it.  It’s smart, actually.  Some spammer was thinking to themselves, “My english not good.  How to make my texts as an english speaking person?   Who not smart but english speaking fix my words to be hearing normal language?”  This is my proposition, and it is based on the following piece of spam that I just received.



We are offering a part time job based on computer.

Job Description:

We will provide you with the texts for our employees with the important information and you will need to revise and correct the texts as an english speaking person and send them back to us.


We don’t have a fixed salary for this vacancy. We will pay you $7.00 for every 1Kb of the text which you revise .  You will get paid at the END of each working month. So, your salary will depend on your activity.

Example: If you correct about 5Kb of texts per day you will get over $1000.00 at the end of the month.


-Location: USA
-Age: 20+
-Home computer, e-mail address and Microsoft Word

To apply for the position, please, provide us with the following information to our e-mail:

Phone number (home or cell, but SHOULD BE available any day time):

As soon as we receive your aplication we will contact you within 24 hours.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to ask.

Awaiting for your application.

Dating Group Team

Last rides of summer

September 14, 2008 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Last weekend, Jenny & I took a ride on our bikes to Clayton to meet up with a few members of the local chapter of the Virago Owners Club.  We didn’t end up meeting them, but we did meet some friends who live there.  What a GORGEOUS ride!  To find the ride, tell google maps to give you directions from Potsdam, NY to Clayton, NY.  It’s about 75 miles each wayl.  The 10 mile stretches on county route 25 and county route 3 are just wonderful.  Not full-on “twisties,” but what I’d call gentle twisties.  A great introduction to the awesome feeling of motorcycling on back country roads.  We can’t wait to make another trip when the leaves start changing.

Yesterday, we rode with the Star Riding and Touring Club, chapter 289. They called the ride their Three Falls Ride & Hike. Actually it was mostly ride, not too much hike. We rode to three local waterfalls that had a parking area reasonably close by. (Less than a 15 minute walk.) Pretty cool.

I like this group. They’re friendly and easygoing. Not at all concerned with maintaining the cool and tough biker image. It’s true, they mostly wear denim and leather, but they also smile easily. And they don’t drink while they ride, which is a big plus. We disagree on helmets it seems. One of them has a “Helmet Laws Suck” patch on his vest, and some of them wear half-helmets while Jenny & I swear by full-face. I’m a bit conflicted about helmet laws myself, but if I had to choose I’d go for helmet laws. (I realize that might have something to do with the fact that a full face helmet saved my life once.) But I’m fine with agreeing to disagree on that. I’m not sure if we have anything in common with these folks, actually … aside from our love of riding and generally friendly dispositions, that is. So who knows if we’re actually going to join this chapter. At the very least, they’re fun to ride with occasionally. Time will tell.

Jenny’s rides on the weekends are getting longer and longer. The last two weekends had us on the bikes about 4 hours each. At this rate, she’ll be ready for Americade (one of the largest bike rallies in the country) next year!

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