Eric Norby is awesome. He was such a strange contrast to Marcus, and we made a quirky trinity of awkward jokes, weird beer, and enigmatic glances together. Norby came to Mizzou at a time when I didn’t think I’d be able to forge good friendships with new grads. I’m not sure why I thought this, but I guess I figured I was getting old and more distant from the newer grads coming into the program.

thumb_IMG_1385_1024“Goddammit, Greta!” Digital Drawing, 2014.

Thankfully, Norby proved me wrong and became a good friend.

Sometimes irascible, almost never empathetic, always intelligent, Norbz has a very particular personality that stood out from the other grads in our program. He had a strong work ethic, clear sense of the value of his time and work, and a love for the experience of music and beer that made for some of the best times I’ve had in recent memory.

IMG_1191“Janus Head Norbz (Two Faced Portrait of Eric Norby),” Instagram Photo, 2013

We began making beer together – those were some amazing nights. Sometimes they resulted in shenanigans like this:

Oh Jesus from matthewballou on Vimeo.

Norby would have thrived in any graduate program. His ability to adapt and his smarts would have made him stand out anywhere. But I’m glad he spent some time watching The Big Lebowski with me, discoursing on the qualities of Ween and Radiohead, singing some Lee Hazlewood, and exploring the meaning of the western vista.

Thanks a lot, Norbz.

thumb_IMG_5373_1024“It’s a Graying Out. (Portrait of Norbz),” Graphite on tracing paper, 8.5 by 3 inches, 2013.

“The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners.” – The Stranger.

Bottle It!

Homebrew #2 is in the bottles!

Here she is in the secondary just before bottling… mmm, hoppy goodness! Love that green color!

Data on this one:

Type: Double IPA via Northern Brewer.

Declared Timeframe: 3 months.

Brew Day: July 6, 2012

Racked to Secondary: July 11, 2012

Dry-Hopped: September 7, 2012

Bottled: September 13, 2012

Yield: 46 bottles (just under 5 gallons)

First open: projected for October 6, 2012

We’ll see about that… I’ll probably sample it after a week or so in the bottles. I’ll report back on the glory, for sure.

Here’s a shot of the 46th bottle – I’ve indicated the final bottle of this session with a daub of black paint. I charged this last bottle – and the last bottle from my previous brew – with a bit of the gunk from the dregs of the carboy. Gotta bite those hops!


First Taste

The First Taste of my First Homebrew

Wow. I just cracked open the first beer that I brewed, fermented, racked, conditioned, and bottled myself. I have two different IPA varieties going right now, and the Chinook IPA is done and finally ready. Here’s the low down:

Before the pour.

Immediately after the pour. Very bright golden red color. Decent carbonation in view – this is something I was worried about. I over-sugared just a tad in the priming stage during bottling just to make sure I’d have some action. The head, as you can see, is light, but the carbonation is active and continuing. I left less than an ounce in the bottle; some gunk had precipitated out, but it was very light.

Here’s a shot a few minutes after the pour:

Bubbles shooting up there.

The smell is amazingly fruity and very close to a fresh grapefruit. The taste is very sweet, also grapefruit-like. On my tongue it reminds me even more of a ruby red grapefruit laced with sugar. After the swallow there’s a very light bitterness. I love and have tried dozens of IPAs; this one is very mellow overall. Sweet and tangy in the hops, low bitterness in the aftertaste, with a slightly acidic feel on the back of the tongue in the minute after a pull from the glass. Very citrus to me.

As I write this I’m taking the beer very slowly, letting it sit. The residuals – left over sensations on the tongue and burps, etc – are very pleasant and not at all stinky or turned bitter. Twenty minutes after pour I’ve taken about 8 ounces. There’s still a nice, active, thin head on the beer and good lacing on the glass. Earlier this evening I had a Ranger IPA and what I’m drinking now feels so much better to me. I’m amazed at that fruit taste – nothing harsh about this beer.

An early shot of the gathering head, a few minutes after first pour.

A little data on this brew:

Type: Chinook IPA via Northern Brewer.

Declared Timeframe: 6 weeks.

Brew Day: July 6, 2012

Racked to Secondary: July 15, 2012

Dry-Hopped: August 19, 2012

Bottled: August 25, 2012

Yield: 47 bottles (just under 5 gallons)

First open: August 31, 2012

Total timeframe: 57 days, just over 8 weeks.

Overall impression: Amazed. Most of the homebrews I’ve had have felt middle to low quality to me. I really tried to be very safe with this brew, though I did add in special grains to tweak the recipe. But with sanitation, timing, and conditioning I tried to overdo it. I wanted to work a couple extra weeks into the process to let it condition in the secondary carboy before bottling since it seems to me that bottling too soon accounts for a lot of the inconsistency of homebrews (but what do I really know?). In any case, I feel like I got it right and I’m really happy with this beer.