Day 4 – It’s all about the Liquids Baby

Day Four – Liquid will flow

Fact : Beer tastes better when you’ve done yoga.
Fact : Most lists sound better when there are at least four items.
Fact : Adult elephants cannot jump. Baby elephants can, but only when provoked.
Fact : The internet is filled with information that may or may not be useful for my blog.

Hydration. Wow. I’ve never really appreciated the amount of liquid that I could consume in one sitting. After yesterdays session, I had 1.5 liters of coconut water, 1 L of filtered water, and one pint of beer. They all tasted amazing. There is something about dehydration that engages the sense of taste so you will drink more of something. I’ve looked into it, and it does exist. It’s a natural survival trait in humans.

But there is very good reason for drinking that much and not having to urinate. The amount of sweat is phenomenol. I don’t think I’ve ever sweat as much as I have in my entire life. But now, I’m beginning to get used to it. I am not enjoying the dried sweat, but being sweaty and slippery, and hot? Oh yeah, I’m getting into it.

But the single beer I had yesterday afternoon? It was as if the angels had decided to applaud every hop and malt in the Paddock Wood 606. I savoured all of it, sip by sip, and as the malty tones came out when it warmed up, my thirst was not quenched.

Now, I don’t recommend you drinking a dehydrant after hot yoga. But for those who have enjoyed craft beer, for those who have cracked open that wobbly pop after the playing sports with the team, for those who have spent that extra mile in the car with no air conditioning on the hot day. Do have that one drink. Just remember, you are already dehydrated as it is, the hangover will come doubly fast as you are dehydrated.

As for the practice, yesterday and today. Not stiff, sore, but not stiff! Which is a good sign, apparently. Things are loosening up. Which is really good. I’ve identified and located a couple more spots that need working on.

Blame it on too many years driving a desk.

Previous injury list? Left ankle and what little part of arch I have on my left foot, cramps up, when sitting down on that area. Can’t handle the pressure on that. Shoulders are still waaay too tight for Locust pose. Put my hands under my thighs, and a dagger of bright pain shot across my right shoulder. Maybe at the end of 30 days that will come in. Lower back and abs aching, previous injury? No, just lack of exercise, and bad genetics. I’m not hoping to get a six pack when I’m done, just hoping closer to a tall boy. Loose some of that love handle. Maybe a little more core strength.

Big one today. Nailed standing bow pose, and didn’t fall over. Which was weird as I fell out during Tree.

Day Five tomorrow. I’m hoping to get a couple of ‘softer classes’, grab a flow when I get my stamina up some more. A Yin class to really stretch out, and plan to have that epsom salt soak.

No writing beyond this blog done. Had a couple of ideas though, as always that creative writing wheel in my head still keeps spinning.

And when you see ‘those’ people with their yoga mats, in their tights, going from place to place. They aren’t following a fad. Look at it this way.

They aren’t succeeding no matter how badly they practice yoga. They are succeeding because they are doing it.

The worst thing you can do, is stop in hesitation, in fear, and let that rule over you. So if you failed, you were doing 100 percent more than the person who didn’t even attempt it.

I’m still here,

Ginger Beer and Cancer

My stepfather has cancer.

It’s the type of cancer that is not going away.

He’s had it for quite a few years. It is treatable, but his prostate (with the cancer) is four times the size of a normal prostate organ. This makes it uncomfortable for him to sit, stand or lay down for any amount of time. It’s also created a couple of other types of cancer in the meantime while sitting in the toxic stew of chemotherapy and radiation. Those secondary cancers can be treated. As he has said for years now that it is not the cancer that will kill him. It will be the cure that kills.

After reading many other blogs, including Spider and Jeane Robinson’s daughter and her struggle with stage 4 breast cancer I decided to share some of my thoughts.

One of the biggest challenges is the lack of appetite. I remember this from my Great Uncle Ben, and the latter days of his fight. He had his final menu, and he managed to eat pizza, pickled hogs feet, and banana pudding. Just because it was the only thing that he could taste one last time. But during the fight, there comes a point when the body and spirit has a lack of will to consume any calories. This is due to stomach being upset from the chemotherapy, radiation, or both. Also from just being that tired and unhealthy.

There has to be a way to get the right calories in the body, and settle the stomach. I have to do something.

And I have to make it enjoyable. A labor of joy will carry through to the end result. It will also have to be done everyday. Even when I don’t feel like it. (Much like writing.)

For those of you who know me, I do enjoy beer. Brew my own anti-oxidant enriched toxic cleansing beer? Something that can be sipped, have a good taste on it and end nausea? By looking up more of the health benefits of ginger in general, a decision was made. (And those who are dear to me, know that I have been talking about this for quite a while.)

I’m brewing Ginger Beer.

For anti-nausea, ginger helps calm the stomach. (Don’t believe me? Ask the MythBusters ) Half the battle is getting the bad side effects temporarily relieved, then the hunger response actually has a chance to come through. A decent beer can also provoke and help induce a healthy appetite. It’s also a basic enough recipe that it could possibly be kept brewing on a regular basis, for minimal costs.

This also resonates with many other folk remedies that prove to work. Leeches? Apparently their anti-coagulation saliva also helps stitch together open wounds and clean out infections. Go figure.

Plus I’m going to brew some for myself, something about the Dark and Stormy recipe is really intriguing, must try it out and could possibly be my Beverage of Choice for the summer.

After reading a plethora of recipes, (Or myriad, wait, which one is organized? and which one isn’t? This is mainly showing random thoughts at this point.) I’ve distilled (pun, see how I fit that in?) information to the point where I think I can get a decent Ginger Beer started.

Much like a Mother Loaf, a SCOBY or GBP can be started and carried on, just about infinitely… if the conditions are right.

So, found a calculation on grated fresh ginger root and juice. And so it begins…

Got a small pot of water boiling, and then put the ginger root in, to help cleanse the skin, warm it up a little and get rid of any stray bacteria.

8 inches of ginger root, finely grated, pressed and strained into 600ml of room temperature dechlorinated water. With grating the root and getting everything prepared took about an hour. I now know why most recipes call for ginger powder. But this is a labour of love.

Added the juice of 2 lemons, which not only flavors and adds a citrus base, but also helps further dechlorinate water. (Found the easiest way to get more juice is to pierce the skin with fork, then microwave 20 to 30 seconds. After that, dig the fork back into the lemon breaking it apart, then squeezing it with hands. The seeds and pulp stay in, and you get a lot more juice and oils from the skin.)

Time to give the yeast something to eat. Added 3 tsp of fine sugar, 1 tsp of clarified honey, and 10 raisins. Huh? What? Why? Okay, the honey is also for health reasons, I know that raw honey would probably better, but that could possibly introduce a bad type of bacteria or yeast into the mix. I’ll try out raw honey on a different batch in the future. 10 raisins? Apparently, just more sugars for the yeast to eat, or is it? I’ve read on quite a few recipe and notes, that when the raisins float to the surface, then the GBP is ready to brew into the larger bottling. And the three different versions of sugars? Will give the yeast a variety to snack on. At least I tell myself that, give the yeast a buffet table of eatables.

Next step. Shook it up to oxygenate the water and dissolve the sugar and honey. Lot faster than stirring it. Took a smell, and it’s really lemony, grated up some more ginger root, about 5 inches worth. Another half hour later and put it through a strainer. At this point, the recipe is out the window and I’m doing this by nose and best guesstimate. From the smell, it’s half ginger half lemonade at this point. Pretty tasty on it’s own I’d imagine.

Added 1 packet of champagne yeast to the mix. (Don’t have my own SCOBY yet.) Watching it mix and cascade into the liquid. Smelled that great yeasty goodness, then loosely put the lid on, to allow for gas expansion. Then covered the jar over with a dishtowel. Can’t find information about the yeast, if it is light sensitive or not. I had a feeling it wasn’t, but guess I will find out. 1 entire packet? Excessive? Possibly. The good folks at the wine kit place said, best to add it all in, it will only produce so much alcohol anyways.

So for the next few days (7 to 10) constantly feed it 4 teaspoons of sugar and 4 teaspoons of ginger powder. Also kind of fun watching the yeast take the few parts of the shredded ginger lifting it up and bubbling away. I kept doing this, until the yeast became inactive. No more bubbling, distinctive alcohol smell coming from it. And the starter juice tasted so gingery it was hot on the tongue.

The concoction then gets strained, the yeast sediment left behind can get reused! (Much like a Mother Loaf/Friendship Loaf/sourdough. But with the straight champagne yeast it didn’t get strained out at all.)

Time to get the simple syrup/bottling solution ready. Start off with 2 or 3 gallons of dechlorinated water, boiled with sugar and honey. Tasted it, as the best recipe I found said, ‘so it is sweet like juice’. Kept adding in more sugar, and honey.

Now a very fun tricky part. In order to keep the remaining yeast in the starter juice active, I have to get the bottling solution to the same temperature. So, filled sink with ice and then lowered the pot of the bottling solution in to cool it down. Once they both got to room temperature, it was time to do some magic.

Add in the starter juice to the bottling solution. Then ladled into 1L plastic bottles, put the plastic caps on. I filled the bottles up about 75 percent, then squeezed as much as it can to remove all the air out of the bottle. Place the bottle in a nice warm place, and check them every day. If the bottles are tight in plastic, then release the excess gas and retighten the cap. I placed the bottles into a large tupperware bin in shower stall.


BIG NOTE HERE! No glass here, possible flying shards of death, as the yeast will be still active and producing more alcohol. Also read on many blogs, about people having exploding bottles, cleaning ginger beer off the ceiling, and similar events when they first open up their brew.

It is suggested that after 4 days (once again reading from many websites) place the bottle into the fridge to cool. That will trigger the yeast to stop producing alcohol and then overnight it will be ready to drink.

Well, that was the plan.

Two weeks of waiting. Squeezing out the C02, twice a day from the bottles. The yeast was still very active eating up the sugars. But the biggest difference was between day 13 and day 14. Too sweet on day 13, nice and gingery on day 14. Put all the bottles into the fridge.

And even so, the yeast still continued to eat up the sugars. But it was a big success.

At a beer tasting, I brought 1 liter of the brew. And we had it mid-way through the night. After switching between lagers and ales, and then into stouts we needed a change of pace. And it was a really nice cleanser, too many hops and too many malts at one point. And yet, I think that the brew could have sat a lot longer. It would be a very good addition to have with sushi, as it would cleanse tastebuds with every sip between bites.

Oh yes, and reports back from my step-father that it does help his stomach relax, but he has to watch how much he can have. The new pain killers are definitely not alcohol friendly. But he can fit in the occasional sip here and there.

And that’s all it takes. That one little bit. Overall cost? About 30 dollars, including the 1L bottles, ingredients. And the payoff was my step-fathers gleeful chuckle as he first tasted it.

Join team #effcancer on twitter.

I’m still here,

P.S. Batch # 2 is aging, went with just shredded and juiced ginger and demurred brown sugar. After two weeks, the batch tastes a little watery and does not have the huge ginger profile as the first batch. I am hoping to get carbuoys and an actual Ginger Beer Plant for batch three, using ginger powder, juiced and shredded ginger. If anyone has an actual Ginger Beer Plant they’d like to part half with. Please do leave comment.

Beer! Innovation! Tasty!

Usually when one think of beer, the first image is of mass produced yellow fizzy stuff that large masses of people drink. Sponsors of so many sporting events, and more corporation than flavour. See a logo flash, you know exactly what the product is.

Then comes people who are curious, those who are willing to push boundaries for not only food, drink, art, technology. These are the innovators, the explorers, those who want to push the boundaries and get more out of life. Saskatoon is becoming more connected with these passionate people.

Call it a side effect from the recent boom in being the hottest economy in North America. Some would say it is a direct result of potash industry focusing on Saskatchewan. And some have been quoted as having sexier beer.

I call it momentum.

Innovation and passion for distinctive crafts are moving beyond the larger mainstream market. It just takes a matter of looking locally in the right places.

Saskatoon, downtown, and record breaking temperatures on a January evening. Mother nature getting confused if it was late March or January. There is a distinctive prairie brown dust and dirt that seems to coat all vehicles. Warm winds keep bringing promise of new change, people still have that little enthusiastic spring in their step. Strange considering that at this time of year, we should be getting through the coldest part of winter. A lot of people are smiling, there is something beyond the ordinary and routine happening everywhere.

Which is where I arrive. The comfortable Winston’s English Pub with its vast selection of beer. And the star of the evening, a new local crafted beer from Paddock Wood that has been produced for first tasting. Got in early as I wanted to get something to eat before the casking. Went with the crowd pleasing Sheppard’s Pie, not done to traditional recipe, but enough to satisfy my hunger. Happy to report that their menu has expanded since the last time I was in.

Met up with Rob from Paddock Wood, spotted him from the distinctive t-shirt as done by Hard Pressed Desk.  (Hope there will be more of these t-shirts available.) We talked about the craft and from being in a close community, the ‘I know you from’ conversation was inevitable. Definitely a sign of those who have grown up and lived on the Canadian prairies.

Some of the (un)usual suspects from Beer Lovers of Saskatoon group showed up, anxious to find out what the beer will be like. Some speculation, determination and investigation, brought forth that it was going to be a blend of Paddock Wood’s already two popular beers, the Loki and the 606. (Reviews per links, check them out!)

Tapping was done by the brewer of the distinctive barley wine of Mano’s in Saskatoon. He reported that it was the cleanest tapping that he had ever done and he had done hundreds. (I’ve got video of it, but it’s really dark, will post it up on this post later once I’ve fiddled with it. Stay tuned!)

Onto the brew! The aroma that I first picked up was pine nuts, other people reported that they could only get that distinctive citrus hop smell. Not much head at all, or large carbonation, but then realizing on quicker inspection, the bubbles were so fine you could not see them. Deep dark brownish mustard or a deep amber in colour. If you didn’t know, it could almost be considered a Red beer(link) upon appearance. Hops flower and sediment from the keg was very finely suspended, not noticeable at all at first. First taste, brought forth that pine nuts clean then kicked into the citrus spectrum moving from cool orange to pleasant grapefruit. The body and mouth feel was buttery creamy and gorgeous but not too heavy. The finish or back end taste switched from the Loki to the style of the 606. Malts came out, more mild warm tones of malt, but not caramel. No bitter end or dryness, just a hint of some sweetness. Definitely a brilliant transition from the double IPA of Loki into the English pale ale of the 606.

And that was the first sip.

As I thoroughly enjoyed my way down the pint, and the brew warmed with my hand. There was a little bit of change in the flavor. More of the 606 malt style became prevalent and less of the Loki character. This told me that the timing on this brew was absolutely perfect. Any more aging or waiting for this would have changed the overall character of the beer.

Managed to get a taste of what came off the bottom of the first keg, and it was super sweet in flavor. Almost Paddock Wood Pic-a-Pop. (Yes, I’m dating and regionalizing myself with that mention.) The second keg after the tapping from the brewer seemed a bit more carbonated and slightly different off the top, bigger lacing and cleaner sized bubbles. Seemed to be a bit spicier with the active bubbles than the first cask. Overall the distinctive characters were still there, the big hoppy creamy boldness of the Loki, finishing with the well balanced malt of the 606.

Other people reported that if this was available for the refillable growler sized jugs, they would be “fired up” for it. (You know who you are.) And it was funny to see the pattern. People lined up for the first pint, took a couple of sips, then suddenly everyone started texting or updating their status on Facebook or Twitter, or texting people they knew to get them to come for a taste. There was quite a lot of laughs and smiles after that first pint had been quaffed. A good groove had been set, and as someone mentioned, that was the hops flower setting the mood. The staff at Winston’s were equally happy and pleased to share stories and reviews of other beers that were not the standard. People who never met before jumped in and talked with complete strangers about how great it was. Definitely a distinctive friendliness and handshaking that the crafted brew put on the crowd.

For a first casking at Winston’s of a locally brewed beer, it’s is quite satisfying to see that the standards are being raised. Not only with the beer but local awareness.

So what was this beer called? Some called it a Super 606, which in some cases could be with the larger body provided by the Loki. But then again, it could be called a Super Loki as some of the characteristics of that brew were replaced by the malt finish of the 606. I called it a Chimera, a creature with multiple parts from different animals; a bionic brilliant brew of tastiness. (We have the hops, we can rebuild him… it… err…) Or overall Damn Good Beer, the DGB. For official information, ask at Paddock Wood.

But what is next? If anything I can see this as a regular event, as there was appearances from other brewers from Saskatoon. As for Paddock Wood, there was mention of a couple other different brews that may come about. Including possibly a barrel aged brew in the style of Innis and Gunn, and my suggestion of  my latest favorite  Red Hammer being aged in Dark Rum barrels seemed to be a great idea. Also mentioned possibly of batches featuring regional hops to show off their individual flavors. Definitely great ideas to further the experience of already seasoned beer aficionados.

Just keep your taste buds, palette and pint glass open and ready. And keep an eye on the websites and feeds for Paddock Wood and Winston’s There will be tastiness and smiles for those who are driving innovation and passion for craft brewed beer.

Aren’t we lucky?

I’m still here,


Beer Review – Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale

This past Friday brought colder temperatures and a thirst for really good beer. Headed to Winstons, asked for their recommend for a honey nut, and was pleasantly surprised with Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale.

Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale

Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale

Yes, I know it’s in a glass with the name of a prominent brewer who produces a world class stout… but that’s not what is important. What is in the glass is what I’m talking about.

Initial nose and aroma was great, brilliant combination of caramel tones over deep coffee. Truly a different introduction of what was in store. The first taste of the beer started like a porter, but cold and smooth like a really good red, this is a medium body and not for your average lager drinker. Deep ruby amber in colour when held up to the light. Even after topping off the pint with the remainder of the bottle, still held a good bit of the head.

Decent head size about an inch, but I’m not measuring in the bar. Nice lattice remained on the side after the head diminished. Tight and active carbonization, almost spicy on the tongue if left too long. But that actually played nicely with the rich nut flavors of the ale.

Speaking of which, nice roasted walnuts and mild hazelnuts present, caramelized sugar, dark chocolate, dark coffee, barely any hop aftertaste and the only slightest hint of citrus on the aftertaste. Very clean finish. Almost compare this to a porter, but not as cloying as some that I’ve tried. It finishes very clean and almost dry.

Its a good fall beer with great character. Those of you who are just starting into beer sampling may want to try something a little less complex, like the Newcastle brown ale. Please don’t dismiss this first time around if you don’t like it. I’m just happy that you are expanding your tastes and getting out of the mainstream beer.

I’m still here,

Beer Review – Czech Mate – Paddockwood Beer BONUS Food Misdemeanor

Huzzah! Behold! Food AND drink porn!

Not bad for an improv food misdemeanor

Tonights selection for supper, includes a really good piece of cod and sushi from Charlies Seafood Market. (Located next to Mystic Java, 8th and McKercher.) The cod took really minimal time on medium low heat on the grill. Did a quick little spice rub/coating using rye bread croutons, onion flakes, paprika, chili flakes, black peppercorns, seasalt and some flour. Done on the upper grill, keep an eye on it. I couldn’t find any decent peaches on the way back.

Yes, I said it. Peaches.

I’ve had it before, and the addition of a slice of peaches on cod, is an amazing combination. If it is fresh from deep fryer for fish and chips, make sure the peaches are really cold. The sweetness of the fruit and temperature difference will be able to bring out amazing flavors in any piece of cod. Try it out once, life is too short.

The sushi from Charlie’s is consistently good, great selection for quality that is offered. Smoked salmon with cream cheese, oyster, and octopus. Little drizzle of soya sauce, couple dabs of wasabi, and it is flavor time! Salad is my usual mix of baby greens, croutons, sunflower seeds and russian salad dressing. Because I need to eat more greens, and it works better color wise for the photo.

Onto the beer! I thought I had done a review of the Czech Mate, but I have not. This is an excellent summer beer for those looking to quench their thirst. Those looking for a basic lager will be confused at the complexity of this czech style beer. Slightly cloudy on pour, bright golden hues, tiny bubbles, and really small amount of head. This maybe due to what I’m reviewing are not recently brew. I’ve found that Paddock Wood beer gains extra flavor and mellow tones if you allow the beer to sit for a while. Like a month. Keep it cold and in a dark place, and you will be amazed at the result. Little less on the carbonation after this amount of time. The body is lessened and is not as filling as the recent brewed or fresh from keg. Sharp on the front, mellows out with a hint of the citrus hoppy tartness on the backend which is a signature of Paddock Wood beer. There isn’t much to improve on this. Overall, another good beer from Saskatoon brewers, try it out when you find it.

I’m still here, still up for tasting new beers, trying out new recipes,