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Monday, November 26, 2007

Beer and the Grid

The beer we made on thanksgiving is fermenting nicely. But the project was not without it's problems. First of all Eugene could not find the airlocks or rubber corks that are needed after the beer is made. He did eventually find an airlock but the rubber corks are still AWOL. He suspects he lent them to our friend Jules (as the wine corker is also missing). But we do not know for sure as she is out of town (or at least not replying to our phone message).

Eugene did use the oxygen set up Wyatt loaned him. This is supposed to make the beer much clearer and likely other good things. I can't tell at this point if the beer will end up cloudy or clear. I do know it has been fermenting well since I raised the ambient temp in the house from 58F to 63F. I got up Friday morning and noticed there was zero fermentation going on in the carboy (the 5 gallon glass jar that one ferments beer and wine in, if doing small batches) so I went to the thermostat and raised it 5 degrees and within an half hour there was a thing line of foam appearing on top of the beer. Within two hours the beer was definitely waking up and by noon it was happily chugging away.

When we lived at the Crubaugh Road farm we heated with wood and always put the carboy of new beer by the wood stove as that was the only place in the house above 50F/55F in winter. now we have central heat and this means the house does not have the hot/cold spots (mostly cold) that we grew used to and actually took advantage of (cold areas make great areas for cold cellaring. Uniform heat makes cold storage quite hard to do without shutting off a room or two). This means if the beer needs the heat a bit higher to ferment, than everything in the house gets to be a bit warmer. I find this wasteful but unavoidable, short of blasting a hole somewhere in the roof for a flue for a wood stove in the house. Than having to deal with the dirt and bad air that comes with having a small wood stove in the house. That said, I do miss heating with wood in a lot of ways. I gotta say when the grid goes down due to storms, when you heat with wood you stay warm. When you heat with an electricity dependent furnace you get cold quickly when the power grid is not running. No fans, no forced air, no heat. It will be nice when we have the wherewithal to get the farm more energy independent. Having a wood furnace, a wind tower, batteries and several solar panels will be a good start. In time we will amass such.

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