Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's really been a month??

Alright, so apparently it's been over a month since I last posted.  So much has happened that I want to talk about, so let's just get right to it.  Also, I'm apologizing now for the crappy cell phone pics -- Jen has the good camera with her at work so she can update her website portfolio with pictures of her amazing work!

We last left off with bottling the IPA, which took place wayyy back on April 2nd.  Exactly two weeks later we had some friends over for a little dinner party and the official two week tasting.  For the special occasion, I picked up a bottle of the real Ruination so that we could do a side-by-side comparison.

As you can see, mine came out quite a bit darker than theirs, and didn't have as much carbonation.  Flavor-wise, however, it was surprisingly close!  Mine is a tad sweeter, but everyone seemed to like it better that way.  I, on the other hand, prefer my IPAs to be on the drier side with a nice bitter hop bite.  Regardless, OCD IPA is my first really successful homebrew, and I owe it all to the forums and My Old Kentucky Homebrew for helping me better understand the process.

The next day, I finally got around to bottling the Cook's Light.  Since a lot of the homebrewers on the forums recommend a longer primary fermentation in lieu of a secondary, I decided to try it for myself.  I won't bore you with the details, but basically the argument is that nothing is gained from transferring the beer to a secondary fermenter (unless you're dry-hopping or adding some other kind of flavor element), and by transferring to a secondary you increase your chances of getting an infection or introducing oxidation into the brew.  So I let Cook's Light sit in the primary for 4 weeks, and with everything else we've had going on, I actually kinda forgot about it.

The bottling went down just like you've seen in previous posts -- nothing too exciting happened there.  And there wasn't even a big unveiling for it or anything; after about a week and a half my curiosity got the better of me so I cracked one open.  The carbonation is just a tad shy of where I like it, but it poured nice and clear into the glass.  If you manage to keep the yeast layer in the bottle, it comes out nice and clear, and has that sort of yellowish tint that the traditional light lagers have.  As for the flavor, it's good, almost really good, but not great.  We took it with us to a Derby party we went to last weekend, and a friend, and fellow beer lover, pinpointed the flavor it has that I don't care for.  If you've ever had La Fin Du Monde, it has a similar flavor to that (which, by the way, I've only had once and really struggled to finish it).  Having said that, Jen loves it, so I'm still calling it a success!

Of course, beer making isn't all I've been doing in my free time.  I've been making bread now just about every week since the beginning of April.  I haven't yet taken any pictures of the process, but I will soon.  I'm still trying to get a feel for it, though.  As with everything, it's been a learning process for me, and I just learned this past week why my loaves keep coming out really dense (and not so good for sandwiches).  So I'll keep trying, and I'll post later with some action shots, and hopefully some better results.

On the running front, Jen and I ran the miniMarathon two weeks ago.  This was our second time doing it, and we definitely felt better prepared than we did last year (although pre-race jitters had us doubting if we could really do it, even though we knew better).  Last year, I really wasn't prepared to do it, and ended up walking (if you can even call it that) the last half or so of it, crossing the finish in just over 3 hours.  This year, I wanted some redemption.  I was feeling pretty confident based on the other three races we had run this year, so I was hoping to finish close to my estimated finishing time of 2:12.

In the weeks leading up to the race, the project I have been working on at work since the beginning of the year was quickly coming to a head.  I made some overly-ambitious deadlines for myself, and found myself really scrambling to pull everything together.  Although taking some time away from that to do my training runs probably would have helped in a lot of ways, I just couldn't justify it.  I'm stubborn, and all-too-often I like to push through something instead of taking a step back and coming back to it later.

So yeah, I didn't go for a single training run between the Papa John's 10 Miler and the miniMarathon a month later.  I knew I was in trouble, but I would just have to push through.  Lucky for me, they changed the course this year and took out Iroquois Park, which made the course much flatter.  And even though the it had rained and rained leading up to the race, the day of the race we had absolutely perfect weather.

I started the race off easy again, since that really worked well for the 10 miler.  After about the first 3 miles, I started to pull away from Jen.  Everything was going great, too -- I found my groove and just kept going.  About halfway through I started hurting, though.  Instead of my right knee, which had been bothering me this year, it was my left knee, which hadn't given me problems since last year.  So I switched my Patella Band over to that side and kept going.  Probably the hardest part of the new course was running up 3rd street all the way from Churchill Downs to Slugger Field.  It just seemed to go on forever.  It was there that my quads started to shut down on me, to the point where I could barely pull my legs forward.  So with a mixture of running and walking, and dashed hopes that I might actually finish the thing in under 2 hours, I pressed on.  Since I didn't properly train, I certainly can't be mad at my finishing time of 2:20:18 (which is a 42 minute, 24 second improvement for anyone keeping score).

I haven't run since the mini, but a few days after it I was seriously contemplating going for a run.  I'm horrible when it comes to sticking to a training schedule, but there's something about going out and running for an hour or two that really helps clear your head.  Once I get the time to do it, I'll definitely start incorporating running back into my weekly routine.

Okay, now that you're caught up on the big things that have happened over the last month, I can give you a little preview of what's to come.

Jen and I have been talking about putting a patio in for some time now, but we weren't really sure how much it would cost and how hard it would be.  But it just so happens that some bloggers we follow just finished putting in a patio of their own.

So we measured some things and came up with some numbers, and last week I put together an initial budget for what it might cost, and everything just seemed to work, so we decided to do it.  Ours won't be nearly as complicated as the one they did, and unlike what they experienced, we're actually coming in under budget so far!

Here's the future spot of our new patio:

That's all for now.  Like I said, it was just a little preview.  Jen's mom came over today and helped me make really good progress on it, so check back for an update soon.


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