Monday, March 31, 2008

Beer: Update on The Grand Caw

It took much longer than I thought -- 16 days to be exact -- but the tripel we're brewing finally hit the 2-3 minute bubbling range in the middle of last week. According to the directions, that's when the beer was supposed to be racked. Of course, I was sick at the time and didn't want to risk contaminating the beer, so it had to wait a little longer. Throw in a little procrastination and I didn't end up racking it until last night when the bubbling rate was all the way up to 6 minutes and it had been fermenting for 20 days! At that point, I probably could have just bottled it. My bottles and bottling equipment weren't cleaned or sanitized, though, so I just went ahead with the racking.

In the middle of the racking, I pulled a little sample off to take a gravity reading. The OG was 1.082 and it's at 1.012 right now. The directions indicate a final gravity of 1.010 to 1.015 so I definitely could have just bottled last night. Using those numbers, you can make an estimate of the alcohol content of your beer. To get alcohol by weight, you multiple the difference in gravity (0.07) by 105, which gives you 7.35%. Alcohol has a different weight than water, so to convert alcohol by weight to alcohol by volume (abv, the % alcohol measurement you see on retail bottles), you multiply by 1.25. That means The Grand Caw is sitting at a healthy 9.2% abv already. Woah.

After taking the gravity reading, naturally I took a sip (we don't waste no beer 'round here). Dios mio, man, this is going to be one tasty beer! The room-temperature, uncarbonated samples I tasted from my other beers honestly didn't taste all that great, though they did hint at the final taste. The fact that the beer tastes this good and isn't even remotely in its finished form has put my expectations through the roof. Here's hoping those expectations are met.

Friday, March 28, 2008

This n' That

Indiana Avenue Restaurant and Lounge: Exterior work continues. They've added three more windows to the Indiana-side roof in addition to the one I showed previously. A number of windows have also been added to the new third-floor space on the North St. side.

IUPUI: Research III is shaping up nicely. This is the last in a trio of interconnected laboratory buildings being built on Walnut St. near University Hospital. With the long-term goal of recruiting 90 faculty members -- as well as the hundreds of associated staff members and students that will work in the labs located in this building -- this represents a significant investment in Indianapolis as a life science hub. Work on the north-side facade is virtually complete and they appear to be in the final stages of work on the south-side facade and People Mover connection. The building is expected to be occupied in December. As the weather continues to warm up, expect to see pictures of this project sometime soon. Research III is the taller middle section with the walkway connection in this rendering:

BadaBoomz: Vintage tastings are back! Stop by Saturday (March 29th) and get a taste of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot '00 & '03 as well as Bell's Batch 7000 (imperial stout). $9 gets you a 5oz sample of all three and when they're gone, they're gone.

HD-DVD Update: supplies of players are drying up, indicating that we're just about at the end of the road. The high-end HD-A35 has been gone for weeks and the HD-A30 is now starting to disappear from online shops. Only a handful of shops still carry the entry-level HD-A3 and they won't last much longer. Movies still appear to be widely available, however. My credit card has been getting quite the workout snatching up discs before they're all gone. With a sunk investment in a player, an average of just $9-10 per movie, and a limited-time opportunity, how could I not?! These movies will be MUCH more expensive once they switch over to Blu-ray. Update (12:50pm) Looks like Best Buy just decided to pull all remaining HD-DVD merchandise.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

DIG-B Crest

After playing around on Scion's new personalized crest tool, here's what I've come up for a DIG-B crest:

We've got Indianapolis, a gear, a beer bottle (maybe Red Stripe?) and the tools to get it all done. Nice.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Beer: Wabash Valley Arrives

Hoosier Beer Geek reported back in January that Wabash Valley Malt Beverage Company -- Brugge Beer's sister (see Ted Miller's notes in the comments below) a line being produced at the former Terre Haute Brewing Company -- had released sample kegs around Indianapolis. It now appears that bottles have arrived around Indiana. World Class Beverage's search engine shows that six packs of Cannonball Porter, Gangster Pale Ale and Harvest Amber Ale are now available at the following Indianapolis liquor stores and restaurants:

Alabama Liquor
Stony's Still Liquors
Parti Pak (no Harvest Amber)
Shallos (no Harvest Amber)
The Hop Shop (no Harvest Amber)
Payless Liquor #9 (9520 Uptown Dr, Suite G)
United Pkg Liq #9 (9908 E 79th)

Hazy Days Wheat and Limestone Lager don't appear to be available in bottles yet, though Hot Shotz has a keg of Hazy Days Wheat. Spencer's in downtown has a keg of Gangster Pale, and if you live in Muncie (Fickle Peach) or West Lafayette (Scotty's Brewhouse) you can also try Cannonball Porter on tap.

I may have to pop into Alabama Liquor sometime this week to grab a mixed 6-pack and see how Indiana's newest beers taste.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Beer: Digby IPA Finally Bottled!

After a wonderful Easter Dinner over at Rod and Jess's place last night, we jetted home to finally bottle our Digby IPA, homebrew batch #2. You may remember that we racked this beer almost two weeks ago! That's a big longer than I meant it to sit, but Charlie Papazian mentions in The Complete Joy of Homebrewing:

Quite honestly, for one reason or another, I often don't get around to bottling for 4 to 6 weeks. So it is important for me to use closed fermentation and a second fermenter. I'm quite pleased with my results.

I assume I've basically moved some of the aging time from post- to pre-carbonation. I hope my results are good. Here's a look at the Digby working up some carbonation:
The Grand Caw is lonely without Digby nearby, bubbling sweet nothings:
As of tonight, this beer has been steadily fermenting for 14 days. The first two beers I made only took 5 or 6 days on primary fermentation. The directions indicate that it should be racked when the air lock bubbles at a rate of 2 to 3 minutes. I timed it at about 2:10 tonight, so we'll probably rack it tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Beer: Craft Beer Tasting at Chatterbox

Indianapolis Downtown's most recent newsletter advertises a beer tasting next Wednesday at the Chatterbox on Mass Ave:

March 26
Spring Craft Beer Tasting
Chatterbox Jazz Club
6 - 8 p.m.

Popping over to the Chatterbox webpage, they have some more information about the event:

For our BEVERAGE TASTING in MARCH, WEDNESDAY the 26th, 6PM, we will taste Spring Craft Beers, including Bell's OBERON!

A World Class Beverages specialist, will teach us through the tasting with CHEF DAVID GRILLING!

Fresh veggies, fruit, bread and cheeses with a grilled item choice is included.


Grilled item choices are: Sirloin & Veggie, Chicken & Veggie, all Veggie Kabobs or a Claus Smoked Kielbasa.

Please RSVP with your Grilled Item choice(s) and the Number in your Party to:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Beer: St. Patty's at BadaBoomz

Just wanted to quickly mention that BadaBoomz is having a St. Patrick's Day party tonight. They'll have corned beef and cabbage along with brand new kegs of Schlafly Irish Stout and another Irish stout called O'mmegang Stout from (normally) Belgian brewery Ommegang. Commenters Rodney and Jessica also tell me that BadaBoomz has received their keg of Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA. See BadaBoomz full beer list here (updated as of 3/15).

Friday, March 14, 2008

Development: The Tower at the Stutz

The Tower at the Stutz facts:
  • Location: SE corner of 11th St. and Senate Ave.
  • Height: 18 stories
  • Use: mixed (retail, parking, office, condos), LEED certified
  • Prospects: has been an owner "vision" for several years; recently released renderings (below); webpage states "Anticipated completion in 2010."
A building currently sits on the site proposed for this tower. It's essentially a blank box, painted to match the rest of the Stutz complex but lacking any architectural or historical significance.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Beer: WillCo Homebrewing Company Presents The Grand Caw

The most recent WillCo brew came to life Monday night. This time we went big and decided to brew a Belgian Tripel! We're still pretty new, so we decided to stick with kits, though this time we switched over to a Great Fermentations house kit called Trippple End. It's an imitation of La Fin Du Monde, a tripel that's by far my favorite beer from Canadian brewery Unibroue (YOU-ni-brew).

This kit resulted in a wort with an original gravity (a measurement that roughly indicates available fermentable sugar) of 1.082. The alcohol content of the final beer can be calculated by looking at the difference in original and final gravity. In a rough sense, that difference indicates the amount of sugar consumed by the yeast, which indicates the amount of alcohol produced. The instructions state we should see a final gravity of 1.010 to 1.015, which, if my calculations are correct, will produce a beer in the neighborhood of 9% abv. WOOOO-EEEE!!

As usual, here are some photos of the experience. Unfortunately, my camera batteries died in the middle of the process, though to be honest, the final steps to making this beer weren't much different than my previous two batches. The only difference was that we used a yeast starter instead of dried yeast to inoculate the wort. See my earlier post about making a starter for this beer.
The fuel necessary to produce a tripel.
(Just kidding! These were actually enjoyed across many evenings.)

The Ingredients.
The rock candi sugar typical in Tripels.
Rehydrated irish moss (a fining agent).
For whatever reason, dry malt extract
foams a lot more than liquid malt exact.
(The camera died at this point, but we basically boiled this
for an hour and added the hops at the appropriate times.)

Hour 11, working up a good fermentation next
to the Digby IPA, now nearly dormant.
Hour 13
Hour 16

Yesterday, about two days into the fermentation, the yeast were having a crazy party on the inside of the carboy. Things were churning like mad and the airlock was bubbling more than once a second, by far the most active beer we've yet produced. I hope the final beer produces a party as rockin' as that!

Development: Whatever Happened To...?

Lincoln Park Place: This four-story mixed-use project is planned for the SW corner of 25th and Central in Fall Creek Place. The building is to have one underground parking level, ground floor retail and 3 floors of condos. The developer's information webpage is still active, but it's been several years since this project was announced and we've seen zero movement. This would be a fantastic addition to Fall Creek Place, so I'm still hoping for the best on this one.

Folio Lofts: This warehouse condo conversion would have used the building currently housing Central Cabinet at the SE corner of 25th and Central, directly across from Lincoln Park Place. The developers had presold perhaps 20% of the units at one point, but the webpage for the project has been deactivated and this appears dead, dead, dead. (Note: this picture is almost 2 years old.)

Chapel Townhomes: Another church condo conversion that was planned for the former First Lutheran Church at Walnut and Pennsylvania. The conversion would have created 5 new condos bordering the American Legion Mall. Indianapolis Downtown still lists it on their New Residential Projects list but the webpage for the project appears to be deactivated.

Unnamed Condo Project on Indiana Ave: This was never an officially announced project, but the land for this project -- an oddly shapped gravel lot bounded by Indiana, Capitol and Vermont -- was sold by the state to a Hearthview partner last April. It was reported that the land would be used for a project that would include 30 condos and ground floor retail, though almost one year later we've heard nothing offical. Given the location of the land, I'd expect this project (or something similar) to pop back up eventually. In this current real-estate and credit climate, though, it's not likely to happen anytime soon. As commenter thundermutt pointed out, Hearthview has been experiencing slow sales at Meridian Arch. Their other large condo project, Lockerbie Park, has likewise been having sales issues that halted construction last year after just one row of townhouses was built.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Photos: The Canal Flows Again!

Photos: This 'n That (Canal Edition)

Canal Cleanup: the Canal looks clean enough to eat off of these days! Ok, maybe not, but the city is going to inspect the work this afternoon and if declared clean, they'll start refilling it tonight. It'll take two to three days to completely fill, just in time for Mayor Ballard to turn it green next Monday for St. Patrick's Day.

Cosmopolitan on the Canal: site prep continues, and quite a large amount of dirt has already been removed for the canal-front section.

Indiana Avenue Restaurant and Lounge: work on the roof continues. It looks to me like they're trying to make an existing attic space into more usable space by raising the roof on one side and punching out a window on the other. An office, apartment or private entertainment room perhaps?

Photos: 3 Mass Update

I went to MacNiven's the other day and very quickly snapped a couple shots as we walked by the 3 Mass construction site (for more info on this project, see an earlier post here). I wanted to show the crane but I need a different vantage point to grab that. I plan to have more comprehensive updates of several construction projects as the weather gets better.
For more 3 Mass updates, I highly recommend checking out the dedicated thread over at SkyscraperCity. Someone working across the street has been regularly posting very interesting shots looking down into the 3 Mass pit.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Beer: Setting Up the Homebrew Pipeline

Last night I did a bunch of little tasks to prepare for my next homebrew. This beer will be notable to me for two reasons: one, it's my first really high gravity beer (original gravity expected to be around 1.085) and two, I'm going to be pipelining my brewing operations! That is, my Digby IPA is being moved to a secondary fermenter to make room for the new beer to ferment in the primary fermenter. Both will be fermenting at WillCo Homebrewing Company at the same time.

There were two main things I did last night. The first step was racking the IPA from the primary fermenter (6.5 gallon carboy) to the secondary fermenter (5 gallon carboy). Racking is a process of siphoning beer (or wine) out of one tank into another tank, leaving the sediment, called trub, behind. This does two things. First, it takes the beer off the inactive yeast at the bottom of the carboy. The longer you ferment, the less fermentable sugar is available and the more yeast becomes inactive and settles to the bottom of the tank. Eventually, the yeast can start to break down and can create off flavors in your beer.

Secondly, racking helps improve the clarity of your beer as you leave behind the trub that had settled in the primary fermenter. I plan to let the IPA ferment for about another week in the secondary, letting the remaining yeast work on whatever sugars are still available and allowing some more time for particles and junk to settle out of the beer. Here are a couple pictures of the racking process:
Note the white-ish layer of trub at the bottom of the carboy.Leaving a little space for the second beer.

The second thing I did last night was create a starter for my high gravity beer (the style is a secret for now). A starter is basically a mini wort with a small portion of the malt to be used in your recipe. The idea is to get the yeast you're going to use in the main fermentation used to the sugar you're going to use while also building up the population of yeast cells. Initial yeast populations are usually well below the levels that will be active at the peak fermentation point. Using a starter basically kick-starts the fermentation when you add it to the full wort.

In addition, high gravity beers have a much higher initial concentration of sugar than regular beer (this results in much higher alcohol content). Putting inactive yeast directly into a high gravity wort can apparently "shock" yeast cells and even kill them (the science behind this is a bit of a mystery to me, so I apologize that I can't expand on this). Here's a picture of our little starter, prepared in an Alcatraz growler:

I should have some more pictures later this week of homebrew Batch 3.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Beer: Kentucky Devil Breakfast Dancer

Apparently Founders Devil Dancer and Kentucky Breakfast Stout have silently trickled into Indy. These are both limited release beers, particularly the Kentucky Breakfast Stout, a regular on many beer rankings around the internet. Kahn's has 4-packs of Devil Dancer (self-classified as a "Triple IPA)" for $15.50. And if you ask really nicely, you can get a couple bottles of Kentucky Breakfast Stout from their "secret stash." They'll set you back $6.50 per 12oz. bottle, but this beer is both rare and incredible.

In even more interesting news, BadaBoomz will be getting an entire keg of Devil Dancer. Their kegs from Cavalier Distributing regularly arrive on Thursdays, but they're so excited about it that they may send someone to personally pick up the keg from Cavalier on Tuesday. They'll be putting it on one of their two hand-pull taps.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Beer: The Ram Invents the Pilsner Glass

The Ram had an Al Gore moment today in an email advertising their new beer, the "71 Pale Ale":

"New to our year round line up, this distinctly drinkable Pale Ale is brewed with a touch of rye and a blend of five hops. Deep copper in color with subtle spicy rye character and an enjoyable hoppy flavor. Meet your friends here and enjoy a pint, mug or try it in our new "Skinny Glass"!"

What's the "Skinny Glass" look like?

Hiding in back, it looks an awful lot like a pilsner glass to me. So, head on down to the Ram and enjoy some brand new 71 Pale Ale in their brand new Pilsner Glass!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Beer: Mike New Bartender at BadaBoomz

That's the subject on the most recent BadaBoomz email:

"Come to Badaboomz Downtown on Mondays and Wednesdays to talk beer with Mike DeWeese, Owner and Beer Guru. Mondays specials include $2.75 pints of any beer served in a pint. Wednesday's special is $3.75 pints of Indiana micro-brews. Be sure to check out Mike's beer article in the latest issue of Pulse Magazine."

That Monday u-call-it pint special is tough to beat as it is. Getting to chat with Mike DeWeese is icing on the cake.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Beer: WillCo Homebrewing Company Presents Digby IPA

This past Saturday -- thanks to my first free weekend in a month -- I finally got around to brewing up my second batch of homebrew. Like my first batch, this is also from a kit, a birthday gift from one of my friends. This time I'm brewing an IPA that I'm naming Digby. IPA is by far my favorite style of beer, so I decided to name my first homebrewed IPA after my blog (sort of).

Here's the process in pictures (I attempted to capture some different aspects this time).
The Ingredients
Steeping the crushed Crystal and Victory malts. This is done at
160-170F -- NOT a boil -- hence the need for a thermometer.
Soco (top) and Leelu (bottom) wonder what that strange
smell is coming from the kitchen (Cosmo must be hiding).
No, these aren't rabbit turds....they're hop pellets! Hop pellets
are compressed hops that ship better and keep longer.
Adding hops to the boiling malt. (Watch out for boil-over!)
The hops rise to the surface at first....mmmmmm....
....and then settle into the mixture.
We were prepared with more ice this time. The wort got down to
about 77F when the last of the ice disappeared. Just about perfect!
After transferring the wort to the carboy, you carefully add the yeast.
Then you gently rock the carboy to mix everything together, put
an airlock on and put it to bed. It's got lots of work to do.
Hour 0
Hour 15
Note the electrical tape line I made to indicate 5 gallons this time.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Photos: Indianapolis Central Library

I know than I'm more than a little late on this one -- the library has only been open for, oh, about 3 months -- but I finally got over to the reopened Central Library last weekend while my family was visiting. Enjoy!
The auditorium is still under construction: