Monday, January 24, 2011

No reason to talk bummer stuff all the time, how about Mead? It's making a come-back and we ought to get in on the market. I can be quite potent, up to 18 percent alcohol with the right yeast, yet aged three years can be nearly a refined as a merlot. My experience has been more on the beer making side, where you make a boiled wort and add 1 part of honey for about 2 parts of water if you can find and afford that much honey ... with the beer method you can extend the honey further by using some barley malt syrup. I wouldn't go less than a gallon of honey in 5 gallons of hooch.

The batch I last made was before moving to SPI but it would be cool to do that again - a real crowd pleaser. It was 1.25 gallons of honey topped off to 5 gallons with filtered rainwater, a handful of white crystal malt in the grain bag, and a half pound or more dose of light malt syrup. I didn't use mead yeast but more a Belgian one that would get about 10% ABV. Folks it's enough to get you schnockered don't laugh.

After being sure that the fermentation doesn't explode and then the fermentation is done, into a second carboy as a clarifier stage, a very important step. The mead must sit in total darkness for at least two weeks before bottling. We used table large wine bottles for our stash. At three years it is in its prime, but it is passable after at least one month setting in a closet and good at 9 months.

True mead is good at many temperatures from near freezing to quite warm, and should never have any cloying sweetness to it (unlike most honey beer on the market). It should be very crisp and clear, never cloudy, like a champagne but not nearly as bubbly. The beehive honey dictates the aftertaste, which can be grassy clover to musky mesquite flower. Using local honey also has the benefit of making you used to the local pollen, so as to reduce allergies. Good mead is hard to find but even though expensive, is well worth the effort.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sea Smoke 1

Well that's certainly not South Padre Island here in lower Texas at latitude 26 degrees, but that is sea smoke or sometimes called ice fog. I think it is an excellent picture and is that a sailboat in the upper right corner? They are also known as killer fogs, since they seemed so eerie, still, and inherently evil.

Back to reality, think are going just OK here in imperfect paradise, been worried about work because contracting got slow, although I am hopeful for the spring. But we've got our health, good luck, and a second puppy dog - we should call him "Temporary" because I fear we'll fall in love with him (he's supposed to be a foster puppy for a few weeks). Brody is his name. The kids and family is good and it was 66 degrees for the day's high, about normal.

How about the budget mess? Has anyone been following that? What I heard was that government services, state federal, could be cut by about half (no more jokes about killer fogs). This time the ultra-conservatives seem to really want to cut the budget, as opposed to the previous increases such as during Bush 43. This has major implications, since most states, counties, and cities are limited by their constitutions about how much they can tax - and are either tapped out or promise "no new taxes." For local taxes to be raised over this threshold, a referendum vote must be held. Therefore, only rich local entities can vote themselves some tax increases if they want more services. When you push down services like education, medicine, and public safety to the local level, no grant matching, it gets real tough. Combine that with increasing nervousness on the "muni" bond market, once considered sacred, I say we have an official boondoggle.

Maybe it won't be all kaddywhumpus and bad. I don't get any entitlement money so that's not my issue. But it affects everything from my local taxes to big airports and marine ports, which is my bread and butter; even my DOD work will get cut back. I will muddle through this mess like many in a similar position. I just hope I don't have to learn Chinese to stay employed.

Onward through the fog.