Six years of the Hood Hopped Belgian Strong

The original bill of materials for my Hood Hopped Belgian Strong

Way back in February of 2014, 2 rentals and 3 (4?) phone models ago, I brewed what I think was my third homebrew: a Belgian Golden Strong Ale that I named Hood Hopped Belgian Strong.

All I know about the recipe is through the image above. I have no idea where I put any notes with actual quantities. I do know that when I logged the beer in Untappd, I assigned it an 8.5% ABV. I called it “Hood Hopped” because of the bag of Mt. Hood hops I used and I likely did something special with them during the brew to better impart their characteristics on the beer.

The part I remember the most is the use of a large bag of candi sugar, which the yeast just loves turning into alcohol.

The first glass, in April 2014.

When I finally tried my first proper glass of it in April 2014, I really enjoyed it. Because it was one of my first beers, I was likely not surprised by how cloudy it was even though the style probably meant for more clarity.

But! Things change when they sit in bottles.

A glass from January 2015.

The photo I took of a glass in January 2015 while bottling another beer looks much better. You can actually see through the glass a bit and understand where the description “golden” may come from.

It’s around this time that I started mistreating it. We moved a couple times and the beer sat in boxes shoved under other boxes and for a long while I entirely forgot that the beer existed.

At some point in our last place, I found these boxes of beer and decided they had been through too many varying conditions of heat and storage and should probably all just be dumped down the drain. 😱

Unfortunately, I did just that. But I did hang onto a few – “just to see what happens.” (To be fair, when you bottle a 5 gallon carboy of beer, you get a lot of beer.)

A glass from February 2019.

Last year, in February, I opened one of the last bottles and was absolutely amazed at how crisp and clear it was. It was tastier than ever—even though it had been completely mistreated for five years! It had spent the year previous in a pretty decent location, cellared in a nice, cool spot. But I definitely did not deserve this surprise after what it had been through, and I was happy.

Several months ago I put my last bottle in the fridge with the idea that I’d finally get around to drinking it and be done with the saga of the Belgian.

And last night I decided it would go great with my pizza.

A glass from April 2020.

SIX years later and it’s absolutely wonderful. I drank it and was happy and amazed that it had survived this long. The power of fermentation is something to behold.

And then. I went down to the cellar and poked around because I had a feeling. And sure enough, one more bottle. I have no idea where they keep coming from—I’m pretty sure I’ve had the last bottle several times now—but I am definitely excited for next year. 🍻

Thoughts for the week’s end

Hello, April. May it start being spring soon? 🌨

A coffee grinder operating at its best is so wonderful. That the espresso started actually being espresso again was great by itself, but I dialed in a new grind for the chemex this week and it just tastes so good.

There were a few days last week where I was able to wear a t-shirt for our mid-day walks. That was fun while it lasted. Now it’s back to a bit of winter with some short bouts of light jacket. Supposedly it will be in the 60s by the end of next week. If so, the house windows are going to be wide. freaking. open.

We felt an earthquake! It was a 6.5 with an epicenter in the middle of Idaho, just about 300km from Pullman. A long way from us, but it made itself known. I felt my chair rolling back and forth as if the house was shaking and I couldn’t figure out what could be causing it. I looked over at the plant next to my desk and the leaves were waving. It’s funny how long the delay in my brain lasted before I realized what was going on.

I was very happy today to look closer and see that Shake Creek happens to run right by the epicenter. 😂

My last issue of High Country News arrived this month and I was on the fence as to whether I would subscribe again. I really like the work that they do, but I wasn’t making the time to read it and my unread stack is pretty high.

This week they published a very in-depth report, “Land-Grab Universities“, which explores how “expropriated Indigenous land is the foundation of the land-grant university system.”

I’m grabbing this quote from the article only because I’m familiar with WSU and some of the tribes mentioned:

“Meanwhile, Washington has retained nearly 80% of the original grant to fund Washington State University. No money was paid by the federal government to the Coeur d’Alene, Colville, Shoalwater Bay and Chehalis tribes for land supporting WSU. The Makah, Puget Sound Salish, Chemakuan, S’Klallam, Umatilla and Yakama received a combined $2,700 for their land cessions. In fiscal year 2019, the remaining lands generated $4.5 million for WSU, mostly from timber harvest”

HCN, Land-Grab Universities

The journalists dig down to the individual parcel level and show pictures of the current land, how much the federal government originally paid for it, and how much revenue it has brought in for each university. It’s really fascinating reporting.

This doesn’t change my mind on the land-grant mission. The work that land-grant institutions do is important and how they share that work with the community can be critical in many areas. I hope reporting like this is embraced by each land-grant institution as a way to start coming to terms with what it means and what reparations can be made.

Note: I also renewed my subscription to HCN.

I haven’t done a picture in one of these yet!

The empty streets, parking spots, and sidewalks of downtown Pullman, just after what would normally be rush hour.

Michelle and I have walked through downtown Pullman a handful of times around 6 or 6:30pm over the last week. It’s amazing how empty it is. Normally there would be a decent stream of cars coming down the one-way Main Street with plenty still parked on the sides. Now it feels like Christmas morning or something.

The bicycle shop that you can see in this photo was featured in the local paper the other day. Bike shops remain essential businesses under Washington State’s current guidelines. I appreciated the sign the owner was wearing around his neck telling customers to please keep a 6ft distance.

Hang in there and enjoy the weekend as best as it can be enjoyed. 🤗

A COVID-19 log 3/n

REM’s It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) has been appearing on various charts all of a sudden, along with a handful of other tracks that have new meaning.

I’ve learned more about viruses in the last month than I ever expected. There’s a chance we covered this in high school biology, but I wasn’t familiar with or didn’t remember the difference between enveloped viruses and non-enveloped viruses. FiveThirtyEight’s piece on how coronavirus testing actually works was really interesting. The concept of priming RNA was vaguely familiar, but not much. It’s all very interesting to explore and a notable side effect of, uh… viral news.


Whitman County confirmed its second case of COVID-19 last Monday and its sixth at the end of the week. On Monday, the county’s director of public health estimated local facilities had “supplies on hand to conduct about 50 tests”. The current test count on the county’s test result page is 92, so it looks like we may have access to more now.

Crosscut had a good piece on how rural hospitals were prepared to deal with the spread. One interesting bit is how our local hospital, Pullman Regional, “is used to staffing large events, like Washington State University football games.” This means a “pandemic stock” of some supplies already exists. Good to know!

Also on Monday, I watched a live governor’s address for the first time in my life. Jay Inslee announced Washington’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. He did a good job though looked appropriately exhausted. I really appreciated the lines he quoted from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, 33. I’ll quote that entire section:

I understand the large hearts of heroes,
The courage of present times and all times,
How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the
steam-ship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm,
How he knuckled tight and gave not back an inch, and was
faithful of days and faithful of nights,
And chalk’d in large letters on a board, Be of good cheer, we will
not desert you

Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 33

That message of hope? solidarity? is good to hear. There is no denying that we are all in this together.

Washington’s cases continue to double about every 5 days. The department of health changed how they’re reporting the data this evening in a way that I think seems more clear. The numbers posted every day are for confirmed cases as of 11:59pm the day before. There are several different graphs that now appear on the page. Hopefully they get the loading speed dialed in as bits of the page load in very slowly when pulled in live from Microsoft Power BI. I appreciate the historical views of data rather than the daily snapshot. It looks like hospitalization data will be up soon as well.

It’s stories like this one about a super-spreading party that help highlight how very connected we all are without even realizing it.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington has a COVID-19 projections page up that is updated regularly based on current data. As of now it looks like both Washington’s and the overall US’s peak will happen in just over 2 weeks.

It’s still just so nuts to watch all of this unfold in slow motion.

One thought that just hit me: how tone-deaf it would be if various internet companies still went all in on April Fool’s Day. And sure enough, Google has cancelled theirs this year.

The onslaught of COVID-19 emails from various companies seems to have started to die down. It was getting ridiculous for a bit there.

How about longevity? The news out of Wuhan of recovered patients testing negative and then positive again is worrisome. And “the longest observed duration of viral shedding in survivors was 37 days” in one study from this month is eye opening. The median was 20 days. I still don’t think I have my head wrapped around how contagious asymptomatic carriers are. Is it only for the first 14 days, or is it as long as viral shedding occurs?

More to learn!

After the sort of winters we have had to endure recently, the spring does seem miraculous, because it has become gradually harder and harder to believe that it is actually going to happen.

George Orwell, Some Thoughts on the Common Toad

Hanging in there and rooting for spring to bring some change. ☀️

Thoughts for the week’s end

Song number one is not a fuck you song
I’ll save that thought until later on
You want to know if there’s something wrong?
It’s nothing
It’s nothing

Fugazi, Song Number One

I’m not sure how I made it this far without listening to Fugazi, and maybe I’m forgetting something, but I think I did.

This week I listened to their first few albums and had a blast. Music like this always brings back the best memories of playing in rock and roll bands. Sometimes I’m not sure I had a great reason for stopping. I know my day job “demanded” a lot—I worked too much and got paid too little. Was it that I was broke and tired of driving my crappy car into the city every week for rehearsal? Of all the things I wrote about, why don’t I ever explain that!?

And how on earth is the Myspace page still up! There’s a throwback photo for you. 😂

Jeff posted about his comfort meal—grilled cheese and tomato soup with hard-boiled eggs—and asked for others’.

I’ve been thinking all week about my answer. There are a lot of great foods, but nothing that really pops into my brain as “comfort”. That said, I have a lot of great memories around grilled cheese and tomato soup (without the egg, which I should definitely try).

There’s a good chance Michelle and I made that for dinner at least 3 times a week when we first met. It was one of our meals of choice while hosteling in Ireland and is always a right answer. Once for St. Patrick’s Day we actually ordered Brennans bread and Knorr tomato soup mix from Ireland so that we could actually recreate the experience.

The photos I had on Instagram from that day are now on, which is nice. One perfect meal, which is absolutely comforting, is:

I very much enjoyed Om’s post, “Dealing with not knowing“. Please go read it and I will also steal a quote from Edvard Munch that he used:

I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

Edvard Munch, on why he painted the Scream

I am never going to look at that painting the same way again.

I’ve done well this week at maintaining focus. Last week’s “find a single focus” has started working pretty well.

First, I’ve paid a lot of attention to the way I think things should go and the way that things do go.

One example is that I often think I should start working by 8am in order to have a productive day and wrap things up by 5pm. But in reality, I’m never ready to sit and start working at 8am. I’d also like to be a bit more mindful to how the day begins. After accepting that, I moved how I thought about my schedule around and the days have started much nicer.

So thumbs up to accepting the reality of a 9am start when that’s when you start every day.

And second, I tricked my brain! Last week’s bookmark moving has completely paid off. Instead of reactionary visits to COVID dashboards and news sites, I have to go hunting for them. This usually causes me to just turn back to what I was doing, which is a welcome change.

Happy Friday—it’s pizza night. Stay safe and home. 🍕