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Build a Better Stirplate

It probably isn’t necessary to stir Iodophor.

OK, so the world probably won’t be beating a path to my door. But there’s a right way to do it, and a wrong way – and a lot of home brewers are doing it the wrong way.

The basic idea behind these homebrew stirplates is to control [...]

Yeast Ranching and You

With all the writing I’ve been doing about yeast lately, I thought it would probably be a good idea to outline my general yeast propagation and storage procedures. There’s an enormous variation, both philosophically and technically, among homebrewers – from directly pitching a smack pack to acid washing and storage in -80°C freezers. My own [...]

Things I Hate #56: Valet Carry-On Baggage

Three of the four words on this tag are lies.

On my recent trip to New Orleans, given that I was only traveling for four days, and not a women, I only needed to pack one bag. I elected to take only a carry-on – an easy decision given that checking luggage costs one-fourth [...]

Napoleon, Health Care Reform, and the Gentleman from Massachusetts

(Or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Filibuster)

Apparently Republicans are sore losers.

First of all, it irks me a little every time a talking head uses the phrase “health care reform”. As Americans, we have the best health care in human history, and almost all of it at even the smallest [...]

Aeration and Yeast Starters


The pitching rate of yeast is generally accepted to be one of the most important factors in fermentation performance and the resultant beer character. The often quoted “optimal” pitching rate is 0.75 billion cells per liter of wort, per degree Plato for ale, and 1.5 billion/L-°P for lager. However, at the homebrew level, commercial [...]

Saturnalia Princeps

‘Tis the season… I had forgotten all about this until I was poking around in my Amazon account settings: 77 of 84 people found the following review helpful.

I’ll be in St. Louis from December 26th until January 1st. To anyone I won’t see, happy holidays!

The Last Eulogy I Hope I Ever Write

Friends, it saddens me to have to put something like this in words, but I want everyone to know that if I seem distant or sad or even angry in the coming days and weeks, it’s because I lost a good friend tonight.

At about four in the afternoon, while editing a spreadsheet, the right [...]

The Moscow Rules, Part 2

This is Chapter 2 of a ten-part novella. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to read Chapter 1 first.

The Moscow Rules

Chapter 2: Never go against your gut.

     Mikhail Fyodorovich Tulenko loved being a spy. In a circuitous, uniquely Soviet way, it was in his blood. As recently as his grandparents’ generation, Tulenko [...]

Things I Hate #48: Bill Donohue

He's actually giving a thumbs-up to the slave trade.

I’m what people like to euphemistically call a lapsed Catholic. That means that my parents made me go to a bunch of boring ceremonies, roughly once a week, as a kid, and that, as is the case for most people, they proved utterly irrelevant to my [...]

The Moscow Rules, Part 1

This is Chapter 1 of a ten-part novella.

The Moscow Rules

1: Assume nothing.

     ”Back in the USSR” had been stuck in Nicholas Schmidt’s head since about forty-five seconds after takeoff. It was, he supposed, inevitable, albeit not particularly accurate. But “Back in the CSSR” probably wouldn’t fit the chorus as well, he mused while [...]