Saison Season

If you’re a beer lover, summer may mean different things to you:  Light lagers and Hefeweizens are two common “summer” beers.  To me, summer is “Saison Season”.  (Minor language joke there, if you know your French.  If not, it’s not too hard to figure out.)

As such, I typically brew one or more Saisons during the summer months.  I thought I’d share the one I did recently, as it came out very nice.  This recipe is modified from one that I did last year, with the main change being conforming to the “single-hop” style of brewing.  Also, there’s more of a wheat base to this than originally planned.  This is due strictly to the fact that they gave me the wrong dry extract at the store, and I didn’t notice until I got home.  I didn’t feel like going back, and since historically “Farmhouse” beers would often be based on whatever grains the farmer had on-hand, I felt it apropos to go ahead and use it.

Something to note with this recipe is it took a long time to ferment.  Saison yeast can be lazy, and they certainly were with this batch; it took four full weeks in the primary to hit my target final gravity.  (I probably could have let it sit another week to end up with a dryer beer and slightly higher ABV, but I was getting impatient and just wanted to get it in the bottles.)  If you’re going to try this, I would suggest waiting two weeks before checking the gravity, then take a reading once a week until it gets down to where you want it.

Anyhow, here’s the recipe:

Single Hop Saison
16-C Saison
Size: 5.0 gal
Calories: 198.45 kcal per 12.0 fl oz
Original Gravity: 1.060
Terminal Gravity: 1.012
Color: 12.85
Alcohol: 6.3%
IBUs: 32.6


1.0 lb (12.4%) White Wheat Malt
.25 lb (3.1%) Munich 10L Malt
3.3 lb (41.0%) CBW® Golden Light Liquid (Malt Extract)
3.0 lb (37.3%) CBW® Bavarian Wheat Powder (Dry Malt Extract)
.5 lb (6.2%) Candi Sugar Amber – added during boil, boiled 60 m
2.0 oz (50.0%) Czech Saaz (3.2%) –  60 m
1 oz (25.0%) Czech Saaz (3.2%) –  30 m
1 oz (25.0%) Czech Saaz (3.2%) – 0 m
1.0 ea WYeast 3724 Belgian Saison™

Steep grains in 2 gallons of water at 155° for 45 minutes. Drain and rinse slowly with 1 gallon of 170° water. 1 hour boil, add hops according to schedule.  (You could probably do a 90 minute boil, using the same hop schedule.) Top off to five gallons and ferment warm (74°-78° F).

By chitowngeorge Posted in Beer

Matt Groening’s Artwork for Apple

I posted this to my Facebook, but thought it warranted the rare post over here.

This has been floating around the web (at least the Mac-centric side of the web), I thought I’d share it, too, since I have a personal connection to this.

VintageZen – Matt Groening’s Artwork for Apple

The personal connection I have?  I used to own that Akbar and Jeff poster:

Networking in Hell by Matt Groening

Networking in Hell by Matt Groening

I sold it (probably about four years ago) to someone who used to work for Apple in their networking/communications group during that time.  He told me he had been looking for it for years.  Apparently there are a few “in” jokes in the poster.

The buyer now has a top position with one of Apple’s biggest competitors (for privacy reasons, I won’t say who it is).  I like to think he has this poster hanging in his office there, but for some reason I kind of doubt it.

Benefit at Silvie’s Lounge with The Squirrel Mummies & A Month of Sundays

Haven’t posted here in a while, but I figured this as good enough a reason as any to break my silence…

Two bands that I’ve been playing with, The Squirrel Mummies and A Month of Sundays, are playing a benefit to help the family of one of the students from the school I work at.   You can find out more here.


Silvie’s Lounge
1902 West Irving Park Road
Chicago, IL 60613


Saturday, February 2nd @ 8:30 PM


Goose Island One Year Later

Over a year ago, the Goose Island Brewery was bought out by AB InBev.  This caused a stir, not only in Chicago, but nationwide in the craft beer community.  A recent article at the by Paul Schneider stirred up this old “controversy”.  I don’t have anything to add to what he said.  Go read his article, and his follow up on his blog:

The Honk Heard Around the World: Goose Island One Year After the Sale

Echoes of A Honk Heard Round the World: Revisiting the Sale of Goose Island

I would, however, like to expand on what I wrote about the sale at the time:

More on the Goose Island Deal

(This is from the comment I left on the article at Paul’s blog.)

In that post I wrote: “One of the things that’s bothered me with Goose Island recently is they’ve stopped releasing beers like their Oatmeal Stout, and the Hex-Nut Brown so that they could pump out more and more or the 312. If this deal allows them to ramp up production, to keep up with demand, of the 312, but still produce things like Oatmeal Stout and Hex-Nut Brown, then that’s good.”

And what’s happened since?  312 production has moved to other facilities, Hex Nut is back on the shelves (still waiting for the Oatmeal Stout), and Bourbon County will become a year ’round offering.  They’ve expanded their Barrel program and continue to experiment and innovate.

These are all good things, and none of this would have been possible without the AB InBev deal.  I can’t believe there are people who sill hold a grudge against Goose Island (and the people who work there).

I can’t wait to see what Goose Island does in the future.

An Actual Useful Use for Google Docs

I’m not a fan of Google Docs. I never have been. It’s ugly, poorly organized, and lacking features. Web apps generally are.  I don’t use it.

However, I didn’t break my long, long silence on this site to bitch about all the things that are wrong with Google Docs (and Google in general lately). Because, I actually found a useful use for Google Docs.

I just had a user that couldn’t open a PowerPoint file. It was damaged. When trying to open the file, PowerPoint attempts to repair it, but cannot. It then gives the message that the “PowerPoint file may be damaged, or it may have been created in a pre-release version”. Web searches for the error didn’t produce anything useful.

(I ran a fsck with no luck.)

Long story short, since the file was damaged, but it still obviously had content (it was about 1.5 MBs, whereas sometimes corrupt files will show as being 0kb, or 4kb, or whatever the block size is, etc.), I knew there had to be a way to get at the data in the file.


I had the user upload the file to her Google Docs account to see if it would be able to convert it, even though it was damaged.  Surprisingly, it was able to.  Once in Google Docs, we were able to resave it as a .pptx file (you know, an actual usable, non-Google, format).

So, if you have an Office file (or pdf, or any other format Google Docs will handle) that won’t open, it might be worth a try uploading it to Google.

NOTE:  This was on a Mac. If the user had Keynote installed, I would have tried opening it in Keynote, which I’m sure would also have worked.

Don’t Be Evil

Google got into trouble when they started covertly mapping people’s wireless networks with their street-view vehicles. Obviously, this raised a number of privacy issues.

Well, Google has an answer for that:

Basically, you can opt out of this “service” by renaming the SSID for your wireless network to include “_nomap” at the end.

Read that again. That’s their solution.

Are they serious? Never mind the fact that the vast majority of people aren’t going to know they need to do this, do they realize that most people aren’t even going to know what that means, let alone how to do it? (I’m guessing that yes, they do realize that. And that’s the point.)

Oh, sure, they have directions for doing this linked from that blog post. This is part of their directions:

  1. Establish a physical connection between your access point and your computer using an ethernet cable.
  2. Establish the default gateway of your connection:
    1. On Windows, type ‘ipconfig’ into the command prompt (accessed from the start menu).
    2. On Mac OS, type ‘ifconfig’ into the command prompt.
    3. On Linux, type ‘ifconfig’ into the command prompt.
  3. Once you have the default gateway (it will look like, type it into the address bar of your web browser, this will take you to the control panel for your access point.
  4. You may have to sign in to your access point’s control panel. If so, the appropriate username and password should have been included in the booklet included when you received the access point.

They’re joking right? They really expect the average user to be able to do this? They really expect that the average person is going know what they’re looking at when they run those commands? This is the output of running ifconfig on the computer I’m currently using:

lo0: flags=8049 mtu 16384
inet netmask 0xff000000
inet6 ::1 prefixlen 128
inet6 fe80::1%lo0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x1
gif0: flags=8010 mtu 1280
stf0: flags=0 mtu 1280
en0: flags=8863 mtu 1500
ether 10:9a:dd:ac:6e:a2
inet6 fe80::129a:ddff:feac:6ea2%en0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x5
inet netmask 0xffff0000 broadcast
media: autoselect
status: active
vboxnet0: flags=8842 mtu 1500
ether 0a:00:27:00:00:00
en1: flags=8863 mtu 1500
ether 00:0e:c6:88:42:a0
inet6 fe80::20e:c6ff:fe88:42a0%en1 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x4
inet netmask 0xffff0000 broadcast
media: autoselect (100baseTX )
status: active

They really think the average person is going to understand that!? (Never mind the fact that it doesn’t even tell you the default gateway.)

That this “opt-out” procedure is their answer to people’s privacy concerns is a complete joke. They clearly don’t want people to be able to opt-out, or even know that they need to. This should be an “opt-in” service, plain and simple.

It seems everyday Google does something to make their “Don’t be evil” slogan more and more of a joke.

Beer Tour of Montréal and Chambly

Les bières de Montréal et de Chambly

As previously posted, we recently visited Montréal. Naturally, we checked out some of the beer scene. There’s an active craft brew scene in Quebec, notably in and around Montréal. I wouldn’t say it’s enough to plan an entire trip around, but there are plenty of options if you’re a beer aficionado who happens to be taking a trip.

The first really beer related thing we did was rent a car and drive to Chambly. Of course, Chambly is the home of Unibroue, so this was a natural destination for us. We went to Bedondaine et Bedons Ronds and Fourquet Fourchette (which is the restaurant associated with Unibroue).

Bedondaine et Bedons Ronds is a small brew-pub, (which did not seem like much of a tourist attraction – we were the only non-locals there when we went) that bills itself as a Musée de la Bière (Beer Museum). The walls are lined with display cases filled with beer bottles from around the world, the ceiling is covered with old serving trays featuring different beers and breweries, and there are other beer-related paraphernalia around the bar. (There was a space next door to the bar that presumably held more of the “museum”, but we didn’t end up going in there.)

The beer there was very good, and it should definitely be on your list of places to go if you’re visiting the area.

From there we headed to Fourquet Fourchette for lunch. It’s a lovely building with a great view of the Chambly Basin from the terrace (which is where we sat). The concept, according to the website, claims to be a “marriage between gastronomy and a love of beer”. We were, however, slightly disappointed in the food. Maybe it was because we were there for lunch, but the menu was very limited and the food was just so-so. (I didn’t realize until after our trip that there’s second location in Montréal – maybe the food is better at that location.)

The beer, naturally, being entirely Unibroue selections was very good. My only complaint, as far as the beer goes, is that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t get at any decent liquor store in Chicago. I was hoping they’d have selections that were only available there, but that was not the case.

In Montréal we went to Benelux and Dieu du Ciel! Both were worthwhile stops, but Dieu du Ciel! was our favorite beer stop during the trip.

The beers at Benelux were good, but nothing out of the ordinary. We didn’t eat there, but the menu seemed very limited.

We went to Dieu du Ciel! on our last day. I’m actually glad we didn’t go there sooner, as we might have just kept going back there and not checked out anything else. There beers are excellent, with a good variety and some not-very-oridinary selections.

We did have lunch there, but again, the menu was nothing to get excited about – limited selection, and good, but not great, food. This seemed to be the standard for all of the beer bars and brewpubs there. The focus is strictly on the beer, with the food menu being an after-thought. At least, coming from Chicago with places where the food is exceptional, and just as important as the beer – like Goose Island, Revolution, Owen & Engine, etc. – it seemed that way to us.

There were a few places on our list we didn’t get to. Le Cheval Banc was closed when we went (I didn’t notice on their site that they’re only open in the evenings, not during the day), and we just didn’t make it to Vices & Versa. However, that gives us more to explore next time we go.

Obligatory “It’s Been Too Long Post Since My Last Post” Post…

Wow. Five months since my last post. Yikes.

I’d like to say I’ve been too busy (which, recently is entirely true, but that’s another story), but honestly I just haven’t had much interest in maintaining this site/blog. Most of my spur-of-the moment thoughts end up on Twitter, pared down to 140 characters. In the past, some of that may have ended up here and expanded upon.

I do have a few things I want to share in the coming days/weeks, however, so I figured it was time to dust off the rusting, neglected blog.

One of the things I’ll be posting in the next few days is my experience with my first “all-grain” batch of beer. I’ve been brewing exclusively extract or extract with grains (or, very rarely, partial mash) batches, and finally made the switch (sort of), so I have a few things to write about that.

Also, we recently returned from Montreal, where we spent some time visiting local brew pubs. I have stuff I feel it would be worthwhile to share from that. (And photos. I always have photos to share from our trips.)

Oh, and tomorrow I start a mandolin class at the Old Town School, so maybe there’ll be some insight from the perspective of a guitarist learning mandolin (beyond the basic chords I already know).

Hopefully, these couple of upcoming posts will get me to change my habits and start posting more often. I make no promises.

In the meantime, here’s one photo from Montreal:

View from the balcony.

View from the balcony.

By chitowngeorge Posted in Personal