Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Belgian Tripel

In honor of Lent (although, I have to admit, this is in no form giving something up, actually probably the opposite, oh well) I brewed a traditional style beer that originated in Trappist monasteries, the Belgian Tripel. What I should do, is say the Liturgy of the Hours while I drink one in the evening; that way as I partake in their beer, I can also partake in their prayers. I did some research on the history of the Belgian Tripel, and found it quite interesting. Here is a short excerpt that describes the beer.

"Part of the mystique of a tripel is the color. They are pure gold or deep-gold, a trait that hides their formidable character, but showcases the softness. This color is achieved by the use of pilsner malt almost exclusively. Any deep hues come from the sheer amount of malt used, or an extended boil. The absence of any character malts will result in a highly-fermentable wort, heightening the alcoholic strength, but lightening the body.
Most have a fairly liberal dose of candi sugar (sucrose, up to 20 percent) in the kettle, which takes the strength and body in opposite direction, just like the pale pilsner malt. Though the body is light, it is not necessarily a thin beer, as brewers tend to balance the mouthfeel by using a slightly elevated mash temperature. On average, a tripel will ferment out to about 7.5 to 10 percent ABV, a strapping level that belies the coy facade. The supple pilsner malt aids in the drinkability, the light body, and the appetizing quality of the brew.
They are generally quite effervescent, which is not normal for a beer of such strength, so they should be poured in a wide goblet or tulip to both accommodate the mousse and allow the multifarious aroma to be appreciated."1

Monday, February 27, 2012

Garden Planning | Southern Bed

I am getting excited for this year's garden. Now that we live on a 1/4 acre lot, we are finally going to have space to grow more. So now the tricky part is trying to plan it all, so we get a good yield without over extending myself now that we have the space for me to easily do so. I have already started my sweet peppers and hot peppers, and have also started my tomato plants. My current set up is that I have two 8'x4' raised beds, as well as all the pots on the patio. I have three fruit trees that I planted in the lawn. Just this past few days I have begun to pepper some more areas for planting.

Southern Bed
The first one being a bed all along the south side of the house. My plan for this one so far is to plant a row of peas up against the house, and build some 4' tall supports for them to climb. And start rows of lettuce, radishes and carrots and perhaps some cilantro and an area of spinach. My thoughts are that this bed will be warmer than the rest of the garden, as it will get the reflected light from the house, and will get sun for most of the day, so I will be able to get a few extra days/week ahead due to the microclimate there. Then once we are definitely past the threat of any freezes, I will hopefully plant the 8 sweet pepper plants that I sowed under my lights in this garden. As I figure that they will love to soak up the heat. One thing I plan on trying this year other than in my raised beds, is a living mulch. So I will also plant some watermelon and melon here and let the vines creep around my pepper plants.

I also plan on constructing a trellis to place on the south side of my air conditioning unit (which is located at the easet end of the southern bed) and have either cucumbers or pole beans grow on it. The reason I am planning on doing this, is to help keep our cooling costs down. If you have an air conditioner, shading the unit can increase its efficiency by as much as 10%.