Next Beer – Vanilla Bean Stout

Beer & Wine Hobby has a 70 dollar (!!!) bourbon cask vanilla bean stout kit. The most recent newsletter from Modern Homebrewing Emporium has instructions that I can put together on their website for $55. The vanilla beans are another 10 clams from JR Mushrooms and Specialties, but I want to do a vanilla bourbon infusion, too, so I need those beans! I will skip the bourbon soaked oak chips

Here is the plan (modified to suit my tastes and available hops):

– 1 lb crystal malt (90L)
– 1 lb Maris otter malt, since it sounds interesting
– 1/4 lb chocolate malt
– 1/4 lb black patent malt
– 1/8 lb roasted barley
– 6 lbs dark malt extract (dry)
– 1 oz Northern Brewer hops (kettle)
– 1 oz Chinook (aroma)
– White Labs WLP004

Ferment in primary for a week, then rack to secondary on top of four vanilla beans.

Rack to secondary? Uh oh, my brand new carboy is already full of barleywine! On the recommendation of the LiveJournal Homebrewing community, that will be sitting for a few months on some medium toast French oak chips.

CHEAPSKATE TIP: A paper bag from the supermarket is just as good for a 5-gallon carboy cover as it is for a book cover! Just cut a hole in the bottom of the bag for the fermentation lock to poke through.

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Beer and “wine” and tracks

Today was a big beer day. Last Saturday, I had added the second specified spice packet to the pumpkin ale I had brewed. In doing so, I racked it all into the bottling bucket, then got rid of all the yeast trub at the bottom. This made today’s bottling experience much easier. No sediment at the bottom of the fermenter means less grit in the bottles! Altogether the yield was about 4.3 gallons into 26 nice big bottles. For the sake of consumer interest, the gravity on this when racking to secondary was 1.016 and just before priming and bottling was 1.014. Temperature corrected ABV is 5.1% and a 12 ounce bottle would have about 184 calories if I bottled in bottles that small.

Once bottling of the pumpkin ale was complete, I started the barleywine brew also mentioned in the above link. I slightly modified my plans to include steeping some bitter orange peel along with the grains. The OG for this is 1.082 at 75 degrees. Once primary fermentation is done, I am to pitch the champagne yeast right into that vessel, and then rack to secondary once THAT fermentation is finished. This brew could get up to 11% alcohol! Yow!

Last Friday I was on the radio. The auto-archiving on WZBC is now working. These links should function until October 30.

Hour 1:
Hour 2:
Hour 3:

Playlist below:

09:59PM / Speedy J / Hayfever / Public Energy No. 1 / Mute
10:06PM / Donnacha Costello / 6.3 / 6×4 / Minimise
10:12PM / Jason Brunton / Mixed Metaphors (Marco Bernardi’s MDNA Mix) / Mixed Metaphors / Iridite
10:17PM / Reinhard Voigt / Track 3 / Im Wandel Der Zeit / Kompakt
10:21PM / Hrdvsion / The Mohana / The Mohana / Wagon Repair
10:29PM / Wideo Kids / Viv Woman! / Viv Woman! / Re:verb
10:39PM / Redshape / Bound (Part 1 & 2) / The Dance Paradox / Delsin
10:45PM / Quadrant / Infinition / Infinition / Basic Channel
10:55PM / King Crimson / Sleepless (Dance Mix) / Sleepless / Warner Brothers
11:03PM / Baby Ford / Minimal Mix / Fetish / Sire
11:08PM / Substance and Vainqueur / Surface / Surface / Scion Versions
11:16PM / Model 500 / Convextion Remix / Starlight / Echospace [US]
11:26PM / Intrusion / Intrusion Dub / The Seduction of Silence / echospace [detroit]
11:37PM / Max Bronnslokker / Reindeer / Teika / Def’child
11:43PM / Area / N Tomato / Objet Trouve / tonAtom
11:48PM / Gys / Settlers Dub / Isaac Selassie meets… / Defchild
11:55PM / 3rd Eye / Undulate / Echodub Loves Vol 01 / Echodub
11:59PM / 36 / Nephyr / Hypersona / 3six Recordings
12:05AM / Newworldaquarium / Methylviolet / The Electric Institute / New Religion
12:11AM / Moritz Von Oswald Trio / Pattern 3 / Vertical Ascent / Honest Johns Records
12:21AM / Ananda Shankar / Dancing Drums / A Life in Music / times square records
12:26AM / Coldcut / More Beats and Pieces (John McEntire Tortoise Mix) / More Beats and Pieces / Ninja Tune
12:32AM / Prince Far I / Throw Away Your Gun (Dub) / A Brief History of Ambient Vol 3 / Virgin
12:36AM / Ryuichi Sakamoto / Seven Samurai – Closing Theme / Chasm / KA’+B
12:42AM / Thomas Dolby / One of Our Submarines / she blinded me with science / Venice In Peril
12:49AM / Igor O. Vlasov / Horizon-C / Fellow’s Traveler / Def’child
12:53AM / Marvin Gaye / Got to Give It Up / Live at the London Palladium / MOTOWN

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Ale and pie

Some production and consumption notes:

Saturday I made a pumpkin ale. I have long wanted to make a clone of Souther Tier’s Pumking, but I’m not ready for all-grain brewing yet, so instead I picked up a kit of the on-sale Harvest Feast Pumpkin Ale from Beer and Wine Hobby. This kit consisted of 6.6 pounds of malt extract, with a pound of flaked barley, half a pound of chocolate malt, 2 oz of Hallertau hops for bittering, a can of pumpkin puree for those of us without fresh pumpkin available, two packets of magical ‘pumpkin spice’, the usual priming sugar, and Irish moss for clarification. I opted for the dry yeast version of the kit as my fridge is full. As usual, I started things off by rehydrating the yeast using a stir plate. (Someday I may actually make a yeast starter the night before brew day.) Brewing was straightforward, but I did try a few new things for this batch! I sparged my grain bag with hot water instead of squeezing it, making the total boil volume just shy of four gallons. I actually strained out the hop and protein residue before adding to the fermenter; hopefully this results in less useless sediment at the bottom and more clear beer to drink! The kit instructions said that the gravity of the wort should have been 1.042. In reality, it was 10 points higher, 1.052 after temperature correction! I can’t imagine what may have happened. This brew also calls for racking to secondary and adding a second sachet of pumpkin spices. I don’t have a glass carboy, so I will have to rack to my bottling bucket and then back into my primary fermenter just as I did with my chocolate stout.

The brewing store was busy, and I think they may have given me a yeast that was not quite intended for this beer. They handed me a packet of Safbrew T-58 yeast which is what I used for my “Belgian” honey amber ale. This yeast generates spicy and fruity flavors all its own, so this may be a really weird ale!

My next beer project will be a barleywine based on Death by Barleywine. I bought 10 pounds of dried amber malt extract; a pound of crystal malt and half a pound each of chocolate malt and roasted barley; 1 ounce of Nugget hops for bittering and 3 ounces of Cascade: one for aroma, one for flavor, and one for dry-hopping; a packet of Pasteur champagne yeast to take over once the Safale S04 dies off; and French oak chips for aging. The oak chips take about 6 weeks to fully infuse, at which point I will bottle and let that stuff sit until the bleak midwinter. Mmm.

We also roasted a chicken Saturday night. It was a kosher chicken and that made a serious difference. Moist and juicy! I attempted to make a nice chicken gravy with the drippings, but we were too hungry to wait for it to boil down!

Sunday I attempted to make a Steak and Ale pie with the last of my Park Ave Porter Plus . It was tasty, but the crust didn’t puff up as puff pastry is supposed to! It just got warm and stayed mushy. Bummer :(

Oh, and today while on a stop at the liquor store to get a single bottle of wine, I picked up Sam Adams Imperial Series Stout and Double Bock, a bottle of Troegenator, a Stone Vertical Epic 09.09.09, and a Red Hook Tripel. I hate having a semi-decent beer store right on my walk home from the train.

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Project Progress


I have mostly completed the XML document that describes the FS1r data model, at least enough to start writing code to parse it. Because spending 30 minutes at a time reading Xerces-C is almost useless, I have abstracted away the XML parser so that I can write a Xerces-C driver later and a RapidXML driver now. Since the RapidXML driver was, well, rapid, I am now onto writing a very basic test XML so I can build the genetic algorithm component using GALib. A lot of my ideas about the data model have had to change to adapt to the GALib environment; I’m awfully glad I started reading the manual before I wrote all that code.

For fs1rgen I am using git. I made a public repository on github for it, but since I’m always in a hurry to get off the train when I check stuff in, and I haven’t really figured out git anyway, there’s not much there.


I have abandoned the C++ command-line version and I am now thinking of writing a third prototype in Perl before implementing the VST version. I have started the VST version but the VST scaffolding is a little tough to figure out a half hour at a time. I may implement a prototype in ChucK, Pd, or CSound, whichever I can figure out the quickest.


I have taken eyeCalendar off my sidebar here after some performance problems. It’s a low priority now that I’m not actively tracking Boston music events since the whole baby thing keeps me craving sleep more often!


I have been offered a spot as a contributor at Way of the Spatula. In addition, I am spinning any non-DJ type musical content into a separate blog: The Republic of Nynex. There’s no content there, yet. I need to finish my software projects first!

If anyone has a suggestion on a Linux RSS reader that can handle HTTP authentication or cookies, let me know. I would like to stop using LiveJournal as my feed reader. I tried RSSOwl but I do not like it.

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A Memphis Rib Story

The words of C. B. Stubblefield adorn every bottle of Stubb’s barbecue products: “First of all, you have to have the taste and the time.”

Well, I didn’t have the time today, so I had to buy a bottle of someone else’s sauce.

Today was my extended family’s July and August birthday party and was the first chance for most of them to meet our new baby. Always on the lookout for a barbecue excuse, I offered to make ribs at my dad’s house where the party was being held. He and I have the exact same smoker configuration. For some reason, even though I only bought my kit after he did (and made some really awesome ribs) he thinks I have some magic power that he doesn’t, so he told me that he would pick up the charcoal and he would watch me do everything.

Anyway, since the party was on a Saturday, I wouldn’t have time to make my ribs the day before since I would be at work. Food was to be served at 1:00 P.M., so my options were limited. I decided to try my hand at Memphis dry ribs since this style only requires 1-2 hours to cook.

Friday night, I made some brief preparations. I put together a half-batch of my old standby, Mike Mills’ Magic Dust. While not strictly Memphis style, it is somewhat similar to the spicy version of this Memphis rub which I will try in the future. Notice that the Memphis Dust does not include ANY cayenne or chili powder by default!

What makes dry ribs dry is the lack of a sauce basted at the end of the smoke. You still can use a mop. I would recommend it for any barbecue, honestly. I improvised since I couldn’t find the recipe I used last time: 1 cup olive oil, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, ½ cup Worcestershire sauce, a can of Miller Lite, and a few spoons of Phat Mike’s mysterious rub that appears to be equal portions paprika and espresso grinds.

This got packed up with a my actual mop and a few foil pans. I asked my dad to get a few oak logs handy.

This morning, I stopped at McKinnon’s, hoping to get some full slabs of the baby back ribs on sale starting Friday. They had three half slabs and when I asked at the counter they were otherwise out! Instead, I picked up two slabs of spare ribs. They were cut super thick: ten pounds each! I also picked up a bottle of Charlie Beigg’s Maine Apple barbecue sauce, and some ice for the trip. Upon arriving at my parents’, my dad presented me with yet another rack of ribs (baby backs!). To start the fire, he usually uses small pieces of pine wood that have been covered in wax. This is basically a homemade version of those fire log contraptions you get from the grocery store. It worked well enough. The cooker got up to temp pretty quickly. My dad went to run some errands, and told me to wait on the baby back ribs so he could watch the whole process.

Turns out that half a batch of Magic Dust is exactly enough for two slabs of untrimmed spare ribs (the meat flaps on the backs were mostly fat and the knife was getting slippery) and one side of baby backs. After scraping and oiling the cooking grates, I loaded the spares into the cooker, and waited for my father’s return.

Once he got back, I spiced the baby backs, and I placed that rack on the warming rack.

Now, the other thing about dry ribs is that they are smoked really hot for barbecue. I was shooting for a temperature of 350°F, so I actually started the fire in the main cooking chamber, not in the firebox. Guess what? Some of the spare ribs got a little burnt! Oh well.

After about two hours and much pestering by the family, I took the ribs to be sliced. I actually trimmed off the brisket bone and all the cartilage-y bits but served them anyway, warning people about the difference. Nobody seemed to mind. There were leftovers, but honestly, three racks of ribs for 15 people who were also eating dynamites is a little overkill. One comment made by my brother makes me want to explore some of the standard Char-Griller modifications to reduce the right-side hotspot, but that will be a long time from now, I’m sure.

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Directions for setting up anonymous proxies for Iranian dissidents

Mac OS X

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But who are they to judge us simply ‘cos our hair is long

Assorted small updates, since it’s been a while:

– Picked up some stuff at the Salem Record Exchange: Mr. G, Nitzer Ebb, King Crimson, Stewart Copeland, CTR, David Sylvian and Holger Czukay, SAW, Baby Ford, and DAF. Going through all the records strewn about my office. If I know what it sounds like, it goes back in the boxes, otherwise it gets played. Not all of my records are surviving this process. I will be selling some records on Craigslist soon, and for cheep.

– If you’re a WZBC person reading this, I am still looking for people to do Test Pattern this summer. Contact me for more information. You can just leave a comment below if you like.

– Tomorrow is another grand cooking day. I have a 5 pound pork loin that will turn into pork chops and the magnificent apple-sausage stuffed pork loin, possibly on the grill if it doesn’t rain. I am also making baked beans from scratch using the recipe from Peace, Love, and BBQ (minus the bacon). Although I would like the rain so I don’t have to water the lawn (I won’t bore you) I would love to finally get the chance to do some BBQ this summer for the first time since October!

– Baby is coming any day now. We’ve had a number of false alarms, but no actual baby yet, or there would have been an announcement.

– The next capoeira batizado is the weekend of September 24th.

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Park Ave Porter Plus bottled!

I bottled my porter project yesterday! FG was 1.019, which gives an absurdly low ABV of 2.944%? I don’t believe it. Anyway, I tasted the very last bit of gritty stuff at the bottom of the bucket and it was delicious! I just hope I didn’t bottle too early!

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Assorted Projects Update


eyeCalendar is my WordPress plugin project. It fetches iCalendar format files and merges the contents together, allowing totally custom formatting on the part of the site administrator. Until recently, it featured on the sidebar over yonder → aggregating Hydrogen Economy events with many other Boston events sucked down from Facebook,, a number of public Google calendars, and Upcoming.

A bug in eyeCalendar resulted in my PHP installation consuming all available CPU on its server. As of now, it’s disabled until I fix the problem. I think the root cause is in the fetch code, but I can’t be sure until I test and test some more. As such the widget is disabled until I fix that problem. Since the project has not seen an actual release, I’m sure nobody actually cares except me! There is one other developer attached to the SourceForge project but he hasn’t done anything.


LoopCollector is an audio effect inspired by an event described by The Custodian. It cuts source audio into arbitrarily long chunks and rearranges those chunks to form a rhythmic pattern. I created this project mostly to teach myself how to program AudioUnits and VST plugins.

I began by prototyping the algorithm in a Perl script. A second version of the Perl script followed. Neither was satisfactory. Currently I’m implementing a command line version in C++. These three are all totally dependent on sox to decode and encode audio. The perl scripts open up pipes to sox and I’m pretty sure the C++ version will too. I originally wrote the code so that it could eventually form the basis of both the VST and AudioUnit versions, so I used all manner of wacky C++ template crap so that I could write code that handles floats and ints and chars and shorts without rewriting anything. I’ve scaled back on the wacky templates since I realized that this all a prototype anyway and probably would require massive work to fit into a VST plug-in!

I haven’t got any sound samples yet, because I haven’t had any satisfactory results, but as soon as I do, I will probably post them.


I have radio shows on May 29th (covering NCP part 1 from 7PM to 10PM) and June 5th (Test Pattern the subject matter of which I have not yet decided, so 6PM to 7PM)

Susanna from Rare Frequency is doing a Raster-Noton Test Pattern May 29th as a preview for the Alva Noto/Byetone appearance at Middlesex.

I have some actual ideas for some actual productions bouncing around in my head. I will get them out on some format if it takes me years. The InfiniteStateMachine series on the creation of the ISM label has only helped fuel my musical aspirations.


I bought a Yamaha FS1r a number of years ago and I still don’t have a clue how to program the damn thing. I originally bought as the sound module to a wind controller I never bought (although maybe some day I will purchase one of the new Akai EWI USB units). The front panel is far too tiny for all the options in a single patch, and the only available Mac OS X editor is complicated despite the larger screen. What I have decided to do is use the MIDI implementation described in the manual to create a genetic algorithm of sorts that can generate patches.

Because I haven’t started coding yet, I’m going to write up a design here. I’ll even put it under a cut so you can skip it.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Brew Day – Porter Experiment

Last Saturday, I brewed the porter kit my parents bought me for my birthday. I decided once again to tweak it, this time by adding molasses (just shy of 1/4 cup) to the boil right from the start, then a bag of cracked coffee beans for 30 minutes and 1/4 cup of cocoa powder for 5 minutes. OG was just about 1.042. Should be tasty!

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