Stone Brewing FRESH! Dinner

Tuesday night Stone Brewing held one of its quarterly farm-to-table events, what they call the FRESH! dinner. The FRESH! dinner takes eating fresh, seasonal, and local food to the utmost extreme; with the goal being everything (possible) is harvested the same day as the meal. Stone Brewing Head Chef Alex Carballo explained that the flour was not same day, but all the fish, fruits, and veggies had been harvested that day. He went on to explain that even the olive oil had been pressed that morning. The evening even started out with a fresh Stone brew, straight out the fermentor.

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White Ale

At Lunatic Central we have been home brewing for 6 months. We started off making mostly darker American Ales. The dark malt, clean fermenting yeast, and high hop rates were able to mask (mostly) our lack of temperature control. But now we have temperature control, the world is our oyster. We decided to dedicate the summer over to brewing Belgian style ales. Ironic since Belgian ales are known for their yeasty character. In fact many of them favor higher fermentation temperatures; in some cases eliminating the need for temperature control altogether. Such is life.

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Beekeeping DipLunacy

Well, it’s official. Beekeeping is absolutely illegal for me. Since my rant about the 600 ft stand-off law in the County of San Diego, I’ve fired off a series of letters to everyone from entomologists to County Supervisors. Yes ladies and gentlemen, this thing goes all the way to the top. As of last week I think my correspondence has come to a close. It ended with a few letters from a fellow at the El Cajon City Planning Office, just 2 miles from my house. The result, beekeeping is not a permitted use of residential land. Here is a brief summary. Continue reading Beekeeping DipLunacy

Brewing Explained

The second most common I get about home brewing is: “How do you make beer?” What follows is a brief explanation of how beer is made. This is not a “how to”, but rather what physicists would call a cartoon picture; a sort of summary of what’s happening. The most important thing to understand about beer is fermentation; the conversion of sugars to alcohol and CO2. Fermentation is carried out by yeast. So the basic recipe is, make a sugar solution, add yeast, wait, and then you have beer. Of course the actual implementation is more complicated, but this is why apple juice bottles swell up if left in the fridge too long.

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A Whole Mess of Eggplant: Eggplant Parmesan

A few weeks ago I posted about my first summer harvest; including the first eggplant of the year. With the heat wave we’ve been having the eggplant have really switched on. This past week I harvested 3 lbs and there are tons of flowers and fruits in the chute. It looks like this will be the summer of eggplant. I’ve been doing a bit of research on the ways to store it for later use. But I figured I’d get started with one of my favorite recipes of all time; eggplant parmesan. Continue reading A Whole Mess of Eggplant: Eggplant Parmesan

Summer Strawberry Sorbet

I just got home from the farmer’s market with a load of fresh strawberries. During the peak of the season you can get 3 pints for 5 or 6 bucks. They vary from year to year and even from vendor to vendor. But this year they have been fantastic, I think it’s the heat we’re having. The only problem with bringing home 3 beautiful pints of strawberries was I still had 2 pints left-over from last weekend. The answer: sorbet. I previously wrote about the ease of making sorbet, here finally is a recipe. Continue reading Summer Strawberry Sorbet

Proper Fermentation: Temperature Controller

Jamil Zainasheff, guru of all things homebrew, is oft qutoed as saying, “Proper fermentation is what sets apart great beers from just OK beers.” The first part of proper fermentation is using the right amount of yeast. The second part is temperature control. Fermentation temperature plays a crucial role in the final flavor of beer. Too cold and the yeast might not go. Too warm and off flavors are produced. Depending on the style, ingredients, and yeast, proper fermentation temperature ranges from about 45 to 85 F. Given this range, and the need to keep the beer at temperature for anywhere from 2-12 weeks, the only logical choice is to build a fermentation chamber.

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First Summer Harvest

If you’re fortunate enough to have a bit of yard, or even a small patio, one of the most enriching uses for it is edible gardening. The ability to grow your own fruits and vegetables, in your own backyard, is an unmatched experience. It connects you to ages past. It gives you a feeling of satisfaction and self-reliance. And it can provide you with some really excellent produce.  It does require a bit of patience though. This week I had my first summer harvest worth any mention; a pair of radishes, a bunch of carrots, some cherry tomatoes, a bundle of swiss chard, the first of the summer squash and eggplant, and of course, a dozen eggs. Continue reading First Summer Harvest