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Living with an engineer has many perks, one of which is their propensity to create fancy spreadsheets for the simplest of tasks. It never ceases to amaze me when Ries shows me a new spreadsheet he made for fun. You read that correctly, for FUN.

When he told me he was going to create a web app that we could use on our tablet for brew day, I patted him and said that sounded lovely.

This Brewing Companion Checklist and Calculator is what he showed me a few days later. I offered to house it on my server space, but for now it is on our local provider’s page. Don’t judge.

This fantastic web app has a checklist (which is printable if you like) for All Grain brewing, Extract brewing, and Lagering. It also includes a page which does calculations for the mash, yeast count, color, and IBUs.

The current version does not have an ABV calculator, but the best one we have found is from Rooftop Brewing.

If you have suggestions for future versions, or if you find a bug, please let us know. I will get my local engineer on it right away.

Saturday, marks our first foray into All Grain Brewing. We are starting with a simple amber ale recipe in case this first attempt goes wild. We will take pictures and document it, of course.

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I have the best in-laws on the planet because when they returned from their latest trip, this is what they brought me:

Jewelry and Scotch

I asked my mother-in-law for a handsome Scottish man with a brogue and a kilt, but I do not think Gerard Butler would have fit in their luggage.  My parents are on a trip to the Greek isles at this moment and I have to say, the bar is pretty high. I suggested they bring us a bottle of Ouzo.

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Now that we have two children, the times when I can choose to do something uninterrupted is virtually non-existent. It does happen every other week or so, for about 20 minutes. Mostly, I have to catch small moments during nap times, when one of the boys is asleep. At this stage, having them both asleep is like the Holy Grail of parenting and we have not achieved that yet.

That being said, this past weekend, Ries went out of town (on a boys weekend to Colorado, jerk) and I sent Gideon to his Oma and Papa’s for the weekend. I felt like I was alone, with only the Wee Wash to look after. Well, and the huge slobbery dogs. Saturday, Wash took a long nap and I was able to sit down and write over 3600 in my new writing project, the most I have done in one sitting, I think, so far. It felt great and I was very happy.

It was quiet here, without Gideon, and I was happy to go pick him up yesterday night. When I arrived, he was playing with some wrenches from Papa’s tool box. I walked up to him, holding a Sonic LemonBerry slush. He took one look at me and said, not “Hi, Mom!” or “Mommy!” or “I missed you.” with a huge. No, he said, “Hey, did you bring me one of those drinks?”

So, on the grand scheme of things, I rank somewhere lower than a Sonic LemonBerry Slush.

Ries on the other hand, ranks higher than both the slush and me because today at lunch, Gideon and I had the following conversation:

Gideon: Our family is missing something.

Me: Oh? What?

Gideon: Daddy.

*eyeroll* Moms are never appreciated. Perhaps it is because we do not come with that fabulous Sonic ice. ūüôā

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My kids are asleep, I have a glass of sweet red wine from Haak, the winery where Ries and I got married, in my hands, and life is very good.

It is amazing to me that I have a 3 month old that sleeps through the night. He goes to sleep around 8:30 and wakes up between 3:30-6am. I seriously did not know babies slept like that. I thought all my friends who told me that their babies slept through the night were either lying or had just turned off their baby monitors and did not hear their babies crying.

It turns out normal babies DO sleep through the night and that Gideon is just one of those kids, like I was and am, who is simply a terrible sleeper. He still wakes up at least twice a night and needs tucking back in at the very least. I can literally count on one hand the times he has slept the entire night through.

Wash is amazing and sleeps and sleeps. This means I can have a glass or two of wine or beer without much worry after he is down. This is a new concept for me and I am loving it, especially since we have a delicious 80 Shilling in one of the kegs. The other keg has a Belgian Wit which is quite tasty as well. I like the 80 Shilling better though; I am a sucker for anything in a kilt and that includes my beer.

Because my boys are adorable, here is a picture of Wash and Gideon from the Fourth of July weekend. How can anyone else think their kids are cute when compared to these two?

There are plenty of other pictures showing off their adorableness on flickr.

It was a fabulous weekend over the Fourth that Wicket ended by first rolling in and then consuming rotting fish. You could smell her upwind from miles away. A thorough tooth brushing (which she did not enjoy) and two baths later, the smell was better but not gone. The ride home was even less pleasant than you imagine it was, punctuated by Gideon saying, “Someone smells like stinky fish.” Yes, she does and she is lucky she is alive and we brought her home. Sometimes I wonder what flavor of crazy sauce we ate the day we decided we needed another dog.

In my defense, I thought I was getting another couch potato, delicate flower. Instead we got a crazy, insane chewing machine who eats poop, and ignores commands that do not meet her approval. Lucky for her, she loves Gideon and is a pretty girl. They are her only redeeming qualities.

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Have Kegs, Will Travel

It is definitely cool having a keg setup for my homebrew.  It is much easier than bottling, more consistent carbonation, less storage hassles, and way more convenient to grab a cold brew of desired size.  The only downside has been that it is not really practical to bring my homebrew to other people for sharing.  That is, until now.  For Christmas, the in-laws got me a gift certificate to a homebrew store.  I used it to purchase all I needed to take a keg on the go.

Our KEGlove is black but you get the idea

The most important thing I needed for my keg was something to get the beer out of the keg.¬† All my taps were door mounted and it would have been silly to carry around the door of the fridge.¬† So I got a little picnic tap (with hose and valve) to connect to the keg and dispense the yummy goodness.¬† Next, you want to make sure you keep your beer cold.¬† For this, I got the KEGlove that includes an insulated sleeve as well as a reusable ice blanket that fits snuggly over my keg.¬† It is supposed to keep the keg cold for more than 24 hours.¬† Think we can finish it in that time?¬† Finally, I don’t want the beer to get flat.¬† This last purchase enabled me to keep my keg pressurized without having to lug around my big CO2 tank.¬† It is a little hand charger that uses paintball CO2 cartridges to pressurize the tank.¬† A few cartridges should be enough to dispense a full keg.

Obviously, a full 5 gallon keg is a bit to be lugging around everywhere but you know you want me (I mean us, my beautiful wife too of course.) at your next shindig.

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I think Ries hit all the highlights of our trip, which really can be summarized by the word beer. We had some truly amazing beer on our trip. The most amazing was what a friend called the “holy grail of beers;” a little brew called Westvleteren. It is a beer that is very hard to get and worth every effort to do so. Absolutely fabulous.

The picture in this post was taken at our favorite brown cafe in Amsterdam, a tiny hole in the wall called Gollem that serves 200 different kinds of beer, mostly Belgian. We went back three times to this amazing, lovely, little pub. I think I would have moved in and stayed if I had been able.

The canals were beautiful. The cheese, sausage, and other food was fantastic. The gardens and parks were lovely. Everything was perfect. We wandered around each city absorbing the atmosphere and watching the people go about their lives. The people watching was superb!

We were able to stay at the house of some friends who are living in Amsterdam and it was especially nice to be able to spend some time with Yvette, whom I have missed greatly since she moved. She is a blessing in my life.

Besides the beer, the other best thing about the vacation was spending time with Ries, alone. I missed Gideon a lot and cried over his being away, though he never cried for us, if the grandmothers are to be believed. It was nice to be with Ries and enjoy doing things we both love, wandering different cities and experiencing a different pace of life. For those of you that have yet to go on a kid free vacation with your spouse, I highly recommend it. It is nice to remember what you are like without a kid around and just be, in silence, with food, or over a good beer. Preferably over both.

The trip to Amsterdam reminded me again of the blessings I have in my husband. He is the perfect vacation partner for me and I dearly love vacations. There is no one else I would rather share a pint of life with.

I was, however, very happy to get home to my boy who was happy to see us. It was good to have our family back together after 2 weeks apart.

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We finished our first batch of beer that we kegged¬†a while ago.¬† It seems like kegged¬†beer disappears¬†faster, especially when you invite your friends to share.¬† We are down to our last 2 bottles of Roggenbier, which turned out better than I expected.¬† Luckily we foresaw this shortage of beer coming so we have been brewing a few more.¬† We have a honey porter that is nearing the end of its aging period.¬†¬†There is a¬†hard cider (our first attempt at duplicating anything we’ve made) that is also in the aging process.¬† And we have two carboys¬†that are sitting in¬†our fermerator¬†(fermenting refrigerator).¬† They¬†will be done fermenting in about a week and then they are going into the kegs.¬† One is a double IPA (the one on the right with the hops floating in there) and the other is a¬†Belgian tripel.

Sitting in the Fermerator

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