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Month: March 2011

Underberg ist gut!

This evening Danielle and I visited Nitsches Meat and Deli, a local German food shop, so that she could pick up a sausage for dinner and take a look around. While there I picked up a three-pack of Underberg (Official Site, down at time of posting), a very nice bitter herbal digestive that Jeff introduced me to a few years ago. Designed to be drank all in one go (to help settle the stomach) I like to sip a little then down it. The herbal flavor is wonderful, and it really does calm down an upset stomach.

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Tripel Starter

Here is a one quart yeast starter made from one cup of light DME (dried malt extract), 1/2 teaspoon of yeast nutrient, and one Activator pouch of Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey yeast. After this grows for a few days I hope to use it to make a somewhat-clone of Dragonmead’s Final Absolution (BeerAdvocate review), a top-quality Tripel that’s won it’s fair share of awards. With any luck the batch I brew will be equally good, but I probably won’t know until autumn as it’s supposed to age for six months before consumption.

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Failing at Furnace Repair

For the last two or three winters my furnace would occasionally have a problem where it would fail to ignite and be left in a lockout state requiring the thermostat to be switched off then back to heat before it’d reattempt ignition. Since this was only a minor inconvenience and not repeatable I’d opted to fix it later. Suddenly this past weekend my furnace started seriously misfiring and failing to light, resulting in barely any heat on Saturday night and no heat at all on Sunday night.

Since I’ve done a bit of electronics work in the past I set about trying to troubleshoot this myself, and just after midnight this morning I was convinced that the problem was likely the main control board, Carrier part number CESO110018, as seen above in my furnace. Lacking a schematic it was difficult to troubleshoot, but I thought that it was not sending enough power to the ignition unit and thus the ignition was simply failing. So, this morning I rushed out to Behler-Young‘s Pontiac location and bought a drop-in replacement, ICM ControlsICM 271 (PDF) for $68.73 (after tax). Hurring home and installing it before work I found that I was wrong; it wasn’t the control board.

I then called Mike’s Heating and Cooling, the trusted local place which replaced my air conditioner five summers ago, scheduled a time for them to come by, and set off to work leaving Danielle home in the cold where she even had to pile a robe on top of Roxie to keep her warm. The repair person arrived later in the afternoon, checked the furnace, and $285 later ($166 in parts, $79 for the service call, $40 for half an hour of labor) the ignition unit was confirmed defective, replaced, and the furnace put back into operation.

It’s a bit disappointing to have failed to repair the furnace myself, but at least it’s up and running again. Overall it’s not terribly expensive, as in the 9.5 years I’ve owned this condo I’ve likely only spent $500 on furnace maintenance, including replacing the humidifier and periodic furnace filters, but I still wish that I would have solved the problem myself.

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Still Muddy…

As expected local trails are still spring-time muddy and unsustainable to ride. I managed to access a short spur of single track that I knew would be safely passable and used it to connect paved areas today, but that only wetted my appetite. While I live in a decent area for being able to take off and ride relatively safe routes, I’m getting a bit tired of the same-old paved areas. I can’t wait for everything to thaw and begin drying out and becoming ridable again. Unfortunately I guess that thawing will involve more water, like here which was dry and passable last weekend.

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Repaired Carboy Neck

After snapping the neck off of my carboy I thought I was going to have to buy a new one, but as it appeared to be a clean break I decided to try fixing it instead. A bit of wet filing and sanding (while wearing heavy clothing, respirator, and safety glasses) has smoothed the neck back out and I think it’ll be just fine to use. Later today I’ll swing by Cap N Cork and pick up a larger stopper so that it can be airtight and then it’ll be ready to go, whenever the next batch of beer is due to be brewed. This also saves ~$45 and having to deal with throwing out a torso-sized broken piece of glass.

(I’m currently on track to have three kegs of beer in the kegged beer cooler in three weeks with one more carboy aging and ready to replace whatever runs out first. Long-term I hope to keep three kegs available at all times with one aging. This should allow for sufficient choice and also enough beer if there’s an unexpected party or gathering here. Of course, this presumes that all batches made are good…

(Here is a photo of the broken neck before smoothing.)

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While taking the trash out tonight I saw worms crawling along the pavement. This is a good sign, as it means the ground is mostly thawed and thus off-road riding will be possible soon.

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Broken Carboy Neck

This evening I noticed that my latest batch of beer, a vanilla stout, was just barely starting to blow krausen out in to the airlock. To fit a blowoff hose (picture from a previous batch) I began pulling on the stopper in the carboy, and when I did so the whole neck of the carboy tore off. This left me holding what you see above; an airlock stuck into a stopper, along with the neck of a carboy.

I’ve fit the stopper back in along with some foil so it should remain air tight and thus this batch should be fine, but it’s disappointing that I’ll now have to buy another one at ~$40. I’ll also have to be extra-careful when moving the carboy; so much so that I’ll probably just transfer it to secondary right in the bathtub where it’s sitting fermenting.

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Finally, an Evening Ride!

After a long winter I think it’s finally going to be time to ride soon. Tonight found a group of us riding along the Macomb Orchard Trail from it’s start at Dequindre up through the bridge at Van Dyke and then back. Total was around 22 miles, but since I’d ridden around the parking lot a bunch beforehand my statistics are a bit off from what the ride itself entailed. Still, it was great to get out and take advantage of the nice weather.

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Updated River Bends Map

After a bike ride this afternoon I decided to (finally) update the River Bends trail map so that it’s more usable. Besides adding more asphalt and a better key I cleaned some things up, added the park’s address, and changed the trail lines to dashed pieces. These dashed lines should make the map more readable when printed in black and white, and the addition of the river, railroad tracks, and more road should make it easier to tell where one is when riding along.

In the future I’m going to consider adding in the Clinton-Kalamazoo Canal and maybe tweaking the route a bit. Maybe there will even be some more single track to add by that next time, too…

Click the image above or here for a PDF of the map: River_Bends_13-Mar-2011.pdf

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