Four Countries, Two Days

Hi all!

Sorry for my absence! I have been away for the past few days and I am now going away again. Crossing four countries in two days. It sounds way better than it actually is! I left Ireland towards the UK. After that, I took the boat and needed to cross the beautiful country of Wales until I arrived in England. Now, I am just a couple of hours away from flying to Brazil.

It’s quite tiring, but I am not complaining! Just posted this quickly to let you guys know I am still alive and will post some new stuff very soon!

Advertisements

Backyard Wild Yeast Plum Mead – Part I

THis post contains 3 photos. Click to enlarge them.

This is a bit of a risky kind of brew, but I will give it a go anyway.

Some fruits come with a natural coat of wild yeast on their skin. This can be beneficial to your brew, but dangerous, because wild yeast can infect your brew.

The way this mead was done was:

  1. Pick the healthier plums from your tree. In this case, I picked them from my own backyard;

  1. See the white coating? This is the wild yeast on the fruit. The aim of this brew is to use that yeast and that alone to kick start the fermentation. This mead is expected to be low in alcohol, so that the fermentation is quick and it gives less times for any infection to develop;

  1. After a quick rinse, the plums are deseeded and quickly hand pulped. This would make homebrewers cringe, but I did sanitize my hands well! Well, back in the day, wine juice was extracted by stepping on grapes, so why not use my hands? Then soak them on a solution of water, honey, lime and lime zest, which was boiled for one hour. Dump the boiling water onto the plums and close the fermenting bin. That’s it. Give it a bit of a mix for the next two days and leave it. A bit of natural selection, after the boiling water in dumped, only the strongest yeast will survive!

Ingredients

  1. 2.5kg of deseeded plums;
  2. 2.5kg of honey;
  3. 13L of water;
  4. Juice and zest of 2 limes;

Updates will follow.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray (II)

According to the Oxford Dictionary:

Fray: [NO OBJECT] (Of a fabric, rope, or cord) unravel or become worn at the edge, typically through constant rubbing: “cheap fabric soon frays”

Let’s pretend I only understood the part: “become worn through constant rubbing”. Well, maybe that’s what the challenge is about: Finding what it means to you.

In 2009, I went to Poland, where I visited Auschwitz, but I think I have written enough about it. While in Poland, I also visited the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Taking my interpretation of the word, I see these salt mines as something beautiful, but finite. The constant contact of visitors will, eventually, erode the beautiful art works there sculpted. I love the place, but maybe from the work that disappears, a new blank canvas will be left for another to be made.

Beer Economics Review: DadoBier Ilex

Who doesn’t like beer? And even more, who doesn’t like caffeine? Mix the two together and you should get an amazing beverage, right? Well, not so much. I will try to explain why.

DadoBier is the first brazilian microbrewery. It’s located in the mid-latitude city of Porto Alegre, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The state prides itself for having the best wine in Brazil and, well, they have the climate for it! Also for making beer, since the southern region of the country is the largest producers of barley.

The state is the second largest producer and the largest consumer of a commodity called Erva-Mate, or just Mate. It’s a herb which is mainly used for tea and has a high caffeine content. If you walk around the city of Porto Alegre, you will see hundreds of people drinking the stuff wherever they go. Think that the British are big tea drinkers? The Gauchos (natives from the state) would put them to shame. Brazil itself is not a big tea drinking country, but the Gauchos consume a whooping 10kg of Mate per capita per year, which puts them ahead of Turkey, the biggest tea drinking country in the world (at 7.32kg/pc/py).

But I digress. So thinking that having the climate and ingredients for a good beer would give them an edge? Well, not so much. Adding a bit of their favourite drink to the beer? That didn’t work so well. Now add that beer to their custom made Cuia-shaped glass? Well, that’s the recipe to get flat and bland beer. In their novelty glass, I couldn’t pour the beer and take a photo fast enough for the head to hold shape. The beer is ok, but the flavour changes quite a bit very quickly, most likely due to oxidation due to the lack of the protecting head.

I have brewed with tea before and I am not sure the techniques they used to add the mate to the brew, but I can say that they were unsuccessful.

Now for the price. The average citizen of Rio Grande do Sul is better off than the average Brazilian. The beer is slightly expensive, at R$14 (£4) for a pint, it is still quite expensive for the local working man. But as it so happens to microbreweries in Brazil, producers manage to keep the clientele very selected. You can find Dadobier online, if you so choose, but most places are out of stock and, in Porto Alegre, one of the few places where you can find the beer is at their restaurant. This leads to you buying overpriced food with it. So, again, just like with Amazon Beer, if you are not part of the elite or pseudo-rich, this beer can be seen as something you can treat yourself to in a special occasion.

Knowing how much it takes to produce beer and having most of the ingredients locally available, overpricing beer that isn’t all that good seems to be the thing to do nowadays. Microbrewers in Brazil are having a field day with the new middle class!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray

Published as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge. This post contains 4 photos.

“How many more barbed wire fences,

Confined enclosures,

And molten personal belongings will it take,

Until we give life and peace a chance to bloom?”

“How many hands have been hurt in wires and brick walls for a chance of a better life? Humans… the only race that is unable to learn from their mistakes.”

The Day I Thought I Had Received my Last Rites

After a long trip to Brazil, back in 2004/2005, I returned home to Ireland and, as I still had 6 months with nothing to do, I decided to get a job.

There is nothing more rewarding than getting a job, right? So people say, anyway, so I became a bartender at a local hotel.

On the second day of the job, as I was pulling a pint, I felt the strongest, sharpest pain I had ever felt in my entire life. I spilled beer on the costumers and all, it was a massive mess, I tell you!

That pain didn’t go away! It was sooooo bad and no position I tried to be in felt comfortable, just more and more pain. Well, what else could I have done? So I was brought to hospital. I had no idea what was going on with me, I thought it was appendicitis, but I was wrong… it was kidney stones.

My mother was there with me and I could see she was in pain from seeing me in pain. They tried three different types of painkillers and none made the pain go away, so they had to bring out the big guns: Morphine. Still I am not sure what I felt, but the pain went away almost instantaneously, but also my blood pressure, which dropped down to 73 by 31 (This is really, really low blood pressure). I am not sure what had happened, but I couldn’t speak and could barely understand what the people around me were saying.

Out of nowhere, I see a priest lean over me, puts his hands over my forehead and says something, which for me sounded like Charlie Brown’s teachers. As I couldn’t speak, I started struggling, well, I wanted to know what was happening! “Why the hell is a priest talking to me?”, I thought… maybe I should have just given up, really… at that stage, I thought I was dying and the priest came to give me my last rites. As quick as he appeared, he disappeared and, slowly, I became more alert and asked why the hell was he giving me my last rites? I heard a wave of laughter from the nurses and from my mom… I felt so embarrassed! It turned out that my mom was the priest’s hairdresser and he just came in to say hello.

Yeah… and that’s how you feel like a fool.