Monthly Archives: January 2012

Now we’re smokin’

Why didn’t I do this years ago! Being able to smoke stuff (food that is) is awesome. After watching countless youtube videos on the subject I was totally inspired to make my own smoker. Of course those mechanical smokers with digital displays are pretty cool, but I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter how you do it, you just have to do it. So I put mine together as simply as possible. I found some big cookie tins in a thrift store for $1 each. I cut out the bottom of one, this would give it some height away from the heat. I punched a bunch of holes in the bottom of the second tin and soldered it on top of the first. This is where I would put the malt or barley or whatever else I’m going to smoke. These tins fit perfectly on one side of my portable bar-b-que. I love this bar-b-que, it only cost $20 and it cooks meat way better than the gas grill I had. It’s got a handle on the top so it’s very easy to transport, whoever designed these is a frickin’ genius. So I covered the other half of the grill area with a lid from another cookie tin that fit nicely. I made a small charcoal fire on this side and added some applewood chunks from our apple tree. Historically fires were used to dry the germinated barley and this would impart some smoke flavour. I have to admit I was a bit too lazy to do it this way, I could have, but for such a small amount I decided to just soak some of the raw 6 row barley and smoke it unmalted. My smoker worked beautifully and the barley was almost dry in 45 minutes. It has an amazing applewood smoke aroma. I can’t wait to brew it up. Here’s the video:


Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Smoked barley


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Brewer’s Pitch, pining for an historically flavored lager

 I’m really liking the smell and flavour of the brewer’s pitch I bought from Jas Townsend and Son. This may be an aquired taste. Some people like the smell of gasoline. I actually like the smell of turpentine, this might have something to do with it. But brewer’s pitch is not solventy at all, it’s more like the incense you would smell at a church which is also a resin but from a different type of tree. When pine sap is distilled two products are produced rossin and turpentine. From my understanding rossin is just a more solid form of brewer’s pitch. Another thing that is interesting about pine pitch is that it contains beta-pinene which is also a major constituent of hop aroma and flavour. To test the pitch that I bought I placed an ounce of it in a litre of water and left it in the fridge for 5 days. I was very excited when after the 3 days I noticed a pronounced pine pitch flavour. For my beer experiment I decided to put some into my second batch of homegrown beer, a very hoppy lager. 3 weeks later at bottling I could detect it but it was very faint and mostly masked by the strong hop flavour. 


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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Brewer's pitch


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Gathering Seaweed.

B.C.’s best weed (for your garden) comes from the ocean. It’s full of minerals and nutrients for your soil. I’ve gathered it from two spots, Tsawwassen and at the small park between Spanish banks and Wreck Beach. The seaweed at Tsawwassen is usually the long grassy type which takes a while to break down but today there was quite a mix of shorter green seaweed as well. The most abundant year we had in our garden was the year we gathered our seaweed off Spanish Banks. It could also have been the weather that year or the fact that we had made a really hot compost pile with cow manure, straw and the seaweed mixed in but everything grew like gangbusters. The seaweed you can get there, although not as abundant consists of the stringy hair-like geen stuff and the short yellowy brown kind you can pop between your fingers. I’ve used it both as a mulch and as compost.

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Posted by on January 10, 2012 in Garden Updates


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