We’ve got a cookout coming up for Memorial Day. I laid claim to Memorial Day weekend for a friend / family cookout because I’m always jones-ing for a cookout after the long winter, plus it’s the unofficial kick off of nice weather in Northeast Ohio, and it reminds me that I have to buy my wife an anniversary present.
My friend brews beer as a hobby so I put in a special request to have a beer made specifically for the cookout. I like the idea of creating special beers – coming up with a name, creating cool labels, perfecting the recipe year after. Well I know nothing about brewing and have enough hobbies as it is, so best to let the pro take care of the technical beer stuff, and I can glam onto the arty bits.
The thought I have is to come up with four seasonal beers and try to use ingredients that we grow here on the “farm”. We have so many potentially great flavors to choose from: honey, apple, peach, blueberry, raspberry, black berry, choke and service berries, even lavender, sunflower and peppers, just to name a few. Unfortunately nothing other than honey is growing on the farm any time soon. My blueberry, raspberry and blackberry bushes took a huge hit this winter. The peaches won’t be read til Fall, if at all. And I’m not even sure we’ll get apple blossoms this year. The honey is ready but we won’t extract any until late May or June.
So for this first batch of Memorial Day beer I selected two flavors that we at least could have in theory, someday: lavender and honey. They sell these ingredients in stores so we just went that route. I’m calling our Spring beer ‘Lavender Honey Spring Ale. Here is my sketch for the label (full disclosure, I traced the lady for my first sketch from another artist, but will try my hand at drawing my own for the final).
My preliminary sketch for the “Lavender Honey Spring Ale” label
So you get the idea. I’ll steal some mat board from the wife and pull out my pen and ink for the final. It’s actually a fun art project; will be nice to get into the studio for a change.
Tonight was bottling night so I trekked (i.e. drove) on over to my buddy’s house and got to help bottle our first beer (well “my” first beer).
We started out by counting out 50 bottles. The batch was about 5 gallons almost.
bottles and caps waiting to be cleaned. My OCD in action.
We cleaned all the bottle in some sort of fancy solution in the sink and let them dry and a cool drying rack. We reused beer bottles by the way though I suppose you could buy new ones.
Bottles drying, ready to be filled up.
Then we emptied the bucket that the beer was brewing in, into another bucket, leaving behind all the nasty yeasty bits.
The gunk left behind as the bucket drains out into another.
Transferring beer from one bucket to another.
From there my friend tossed the bucket up on the fridge to let gravity help us fill all the bottles. There’s a cool pipet thingy that allows you to fill up the bottles 12 oz. at a time. I then capped each bottle. He let me fill a few too. It was a pretty cool experience.
Finished beer, just needs a week to carbonate.
The flat beer will now carbonate for a week. Then we can open one and see how it tastes, carbonated. We actually tasted it tonight and it did not taste like soap, which is good. You can definitely smell the lavender. The beer has a nice color to it as well. It’s just that right now it’s warm and flat so you don’t want to drink a lot of it.
The beer looks good and tastes good.
I’ll have to find some me time this week to ink the label by hand. Like I said it should be fun.
I’ll have to come up with a few more ideas for Summer, Autumn and Winter.
Beyond the beer, I worked on the sandbox this afternoon. I was playing Mr. Mom watching the boys. It was a nice afternoon outside so we went out, they played and I worked. Soon they were back inside though so I didn’t get much done. I’m trying to get the box done by Memorial Day if possible, which shouldn’t be a problem.
I got exactly 20 mins. in today on the sandbox. I used my favorite screws to mount 2×10’s to my posts. Everything is fairly level.
The only issue I have with the box is, the sand. Normal sand you buy in the store, like at Home Depot or Lowes is silicate made from crushed quartz which causes cancer. So I’m looking for natural safe sand, like you’d find at the beach (presumably made from limestone sea shell like material). The only place I found so far is in California and the cost is astronomical to have it shipped to Ohio. I could make my own, but I need like 2,000 lbs. There is a “natural” sand made by Sakrete that they claim is safe, but really it’s not. I think that’s the route I’ll go and just make sure the sand is “wet” whenever the kids play with it and make sure their hands are clean after. Or the kids may just get dirt and rocks to play in the sand box.
I don’t understand how these companies can market this stuff to kids with a cancer warning label on it.
Anyway, there always seems to be something to worry about. Most people would say “Oh you worry too much”, but then how many people do each of us know who have gotten cancer inexplicably in their lifetime? And it’s not like it’s a mystery, the labels tell you right out of the gate: this causes cancer.
Right now the boys are playing in the mud I created in the sandbox area and are happy enough. Maybe we over think things.
Maybe everyone who comes to the cookout could bring 80 lbs of beach sand as an offering.
Do you have any ideas for what to do with the sand box? Or where to find safe sand?