First Day of the 2013 Making Fine Spirits Book Tour

Well, the 2013 second annual cross-country Zymurgy Bob book scramble, lecture series, and serial cluster-(bleep) is underway, and its beginnings are seriously inauspicious.

I spent the first night away from home at my daughter’s house in Hillsboro, Oregon, with my grandson Sean. While there, I had a bad drug trip (on a prescribed drug, mind you) from which some truly amazing symptoms developed.

When I put a forkful of scrambled eggs in my mouth, consciousness flew from my body like a wild bird, and I buried my face in my breakfast. I’m told my eyes made little X’s.

Sean was so impressed by my trick, that he called his friends over to watch, and they came right away, but oddly they brought a fire truck with them, evidently assuming that my entertainment skills extended to self-combustion, or something similarly spectacular. Sean’s friends were also seriously impressed by my trick. and talked me into going with them to show my trick to their friends over at the hospital. They being generous, I got the reclining seat on the way over.

The hospital friends were very nice (although sometimes a bit forward with pokey things, and found great amusement in pasting wires all over my body – just hospital humor, I guess), so I was able to show them my trick a few more times (what is there about scrambled eggs?), but I was very firm with them that I had to be in Eugene the next afternoon for a book signing.

I don’t think they heard me very clearly, because they planned a big sleepover, sort of. I didn’t get much and they were helling around all night, so it was a mixed blessing, and one helluva first day out.

ZBob on the road

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Date Set for Keller’s Brew Supply Book Signing

On Saturday, June 8, I’ll be in The Dalles, Oregon, at Keller’s Brew Supply doing my hobby distillation dog and pony show for my book Making Fine Spirits. Rick at Keller’s has kindly invited us to do the lecture and book signing afterward. I’ve added a fairly extensive Power Point presentation to my lecture, which adds a bit of reflux distillation to the subject material.

I’m especially happy to be at Keller’s, because it gives me a chance to spend some time in the Columbia Gorge, one of the favorite places of my childhood, and I’m looking forward to meeting Rick, who has been so cordial to us.

Thanks so much, Rick, Larry, Charla, and Millie for having us.

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Date Set For Victor’s Grape Arbor Book Signing

On Saturday, May 25, I’ll be in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for our second annual Victor’s Grape Arbor lecture and book signing for my book Making Fine Spirits. Last year’s experience was so nice we just had to do it again, and Michelle has kindly consented to have us do an encore. This year I’ll have the Power Point presentation, which adds a bit of reflux distillation to the subject material.

If it goes like it did last year, it promises to be well attended, with friendly and inquisitive distillers, both new and experienced. The Q&A session was lively, especially when one participant’s chair knelt like a camel, and deposited him on the floor, unharmed, as far as we could tell.

Thanks so much, Michelle for having us again.

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Date Set for Sierra Moonshine Book Signing

Saturday, May 11th, at 1:00 PM, I’ll be in Grass Valley CA, at Sierra Moonshine Homebrew Supplies, conducting a combination show-and-tell and book signing for Making Fine Spirits. I haven’t been in Grass Valley for many years, and Michael, the owner of Sierra Moonshine, assures me that it’s no longer the tiny town I used to know.

If you’re in the Grass Valley area on May 11th, and if you’re interested in hobby distillation, or would like to become interested, stop in and see us at 12535 Loma Rica Drive, just across from the Nevada County Airpark.

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Date Set for Just Brew It Solutions Book Signing

Sunday, May 12th, I’ll be in Carson City NV, at Just Brew It Solutions, conducting a combination show-and-tell and book signing for Making Fine Spirits. I had the pleasure of doing a signing here last year, and I had a great time. Tessa and Trevor were super hosts, and we sold a potful of books.

The 2012 Just Brew It books signing

The 2012 Just Brew It Book signing

If you’re in the Carson City-Tahoe area, and a hobby distiller, or would like to find out how to become one, on May 12th, come on down!

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Making Fine Spirits at the Oregon Beer & Wine Fest

We’re back from the Oregon Beer & Wine Fest in Portland, where we sold both Making Fine Spirits and Poetry from the Desert Floor from our booth. Considering our sheer newness to the venue, it went very well indeed.

PatInKBABooth03Dealing with the brewer-winemaker-experimenter mob was every bit as much fun as I expected; we shared stories and ideas and hardware designs and recipes, and laughed until it hurt. We were right across the aisle from all the microdistillers, who were serving taster samples as fast as they could. By the time they got to us, many of the show-goers had a lovely glow going, and we were pretty much surrounded by happy people.

Big Bottom Distillery booth

Big Bottom Distillery booth

Probably the best fun at the show was provided by the men in skirts, be-kilted gentlemen from a family spanning the SpiritLake ID to Bandon OR corridor. In future travels, we’re going to have to stop in both these places, to eat and drink magnificently, probably.

As exhausting as the show was, I can’t wait for next year.

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Date Set for Home Fermenter Center Book Signing

On May 2nd, I’ll be doing a book signing for Making Fine Spirits at the Home Fermenter Center in Eugene Oregon at 1:00. I’ll be doing what’s becoming the standard dog-and-pony show for two or three hours, depending on the audience involvement and questions, and then I’ll sign books. I’m trying to shine up my act with a new Power Point presentation that now includes some basic reflux stilling information.

Jim Stockton, the owner of Home Fermenter Center is very supportive of us hobby distillers, as well as having a nice brew supply business, so it’s always a pleasure for me to stop there.

Jim’s at 123 Monroe St., Eugene, OR, 97402. If you’re in the South end of the Willamette Valley, I look forward to seeing you there.

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We’ll Be At the Oregon Beer & Wine Fest

On March 29th and 30th we’ll have a booth at the 19th annual Oregon Beer & Wine Fest in Portland, and we’ll be selling my book Making Fine Spirits. The Fest is in the Oregon Convention Center, at 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr, Blvd, in the Lloyd District.

The Fest is open both days from 12:00PM to 11:00PM, and there’ll be brewers, winemakers, distillers, and at least one guy prepared to teach some hobbyists the gentle art of beverage distillation.

For any of you in the greater Portland area who’d like to come in and chat, we’d be happy to see you

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Date Set for NorCal Brewing Solutions Book Signing

On May 4th, NorCal Brewing Solutions in Redding CA will be having a brew day in their fancy new digs. From what I hear, there will be all kinds of brewing and demonstrations going on all day, and in the middle all of that I’ll be doing my hobby distilling lecture, now extended to cover reflux distilling, with some new visuals, and a book signing.

I haven’t seen Jay’s new place, but he tells me it’s roomy, well-stocked, and has a dedicated training/classroom area. Aside from being happy about the book signing, I don’t get much chance to brew with other people, so I’m expecting to have a wonderful time.

For those who might travel to participate, it’s at:
NorCal Brewing Solutions
1768 Churn Creek Road
Redding, CA

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Fermenting Apple Juice for Hard Cider or Distilling

A lister on the Artisan Distillers Forum asked for recipes or procedures for fermenting apple juice to hard cider and, I’m assuming, to distill it to Calvados, the French apple brandy. He was also warned away from hard cider by another lister who has seen cider ferment all the way to vinegar, which involves a slimy bacterial “mother” in the process. Because it’s cidering season here in the Northern hemisphere, I think my answer might be of use to some of you.

You’ve got basically two ways to go. The easiest is to put the raw unpasteurized juice in gallon jugs in the refrigerator and wait. Natural “wild” yeast will start working (the “slime” (vinegar mother) doesn’t come ’til way later), and you will gradually (because of the very low fermentation temperature) notice an increase in carbonation, a decline in sweetness, and an increase in alcohol content. NOTE: you’ll need to let out some gas every so often, which is obvious if you use plastic jugs, and not so obvious if you’re using glass jugs.

As this progresses, the cider will get better and better, fizzier and more alcoholic, until at some point the malic acid apple sourness starts to overwhelm all that goodness, and you won’t like to drink it any more. The process will give you a few months of good cider drinking, and what you can’t stand to drink at the end you can distill. Alternatively, you can wait a lot longer and the vinegar mother will start to develop and ultimately make some great vinegar.

The other way to go is to just treat it like any other fruit juice; pitch your yeast, give it some nutrients and put it in a fermenter with a fermentation lock and ferment it ’til dry, at which point it will again be too tart to drink. Set it aside and wait ’til the following summer, during which time the tartness will mellow out and it will become drinkable again. At least some of this mellowing is due to malo-lactic fermentation, where the very sour malic acid in the apples is converted to less sour lactic acid.

If you’re going to distill it, you don’t have to wait , once the fermentation is done.

Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

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