All the bottles, all lined up

All the bottles, all lined up

O bottling day! Callooh! Callay!

Now that the beer has had ample time to ferment and age, it’s time to prime it with a little more sugar (which the remaining yeast will turn into CO2 for carbonation) and bottle it.

I was going to use honey as a priming sugar in hopes it might add a little flavour, but after some reading on homebrew forums that it is unlikely to impart any noticeable flavour, I opted to just use white cane sugar instead. The math (yep, more math) told me I should be using about 2.11oz (60g) for the amount of beer to be aged and stored in my cold storage room.

Priming sugar

Priming sugar

The sugar was mixed into about 2 cups of boiling water, cooled, and poured into a food-grade plastic bucket. The beer was then siphoned out of the carboy and into the bucket – this was all being done carefully to not splash introduce too much oxygen at this point in the process.

Beer transfer

Beer transfer

Of course, as with every other step in the beermaking process, everything must be clean and sanitized, the bottles are no exception.



I washed the two dozen 16oz EZ-Cap reusable cap bottles I had bought, plus four previously used 1L recappable bottles to use.



Now begins the filling process. I used the same siphon, along with a bottling valve (ridiculously helpful by the way) to fill each of the bottles.

Bottle filling!

Bottle filling!

I filled all of the above 16oz bottles with about one inch of headspace from the top, and a little more than that for the larger reused bottles. I quickly realized that I did not have enough bottles, and had to quickly wash and sanitize four more 1L bottles to fit the rest!

I think next time I will make smaller batches of beer.

I had a quick sample of some of what was left over after all the bottles were filled. It’s a little difficult to judge flat, room-temperature beer, but based on what I could taste I think I did pretty ok! No real off-flavours that I could tell, which was my biggest concern.

Now they sit in my cold storage room, carbonating and aging at least a couple more weeks. I think I’m going to have to throw a homebrew party to make all of this beer disappear…

Posted by Dave Sutherland Mar - 19 - 2016 0 Comments Categories: Blogography
Primary fermentation complete!

Primary fermentation complete!

Primary fermentation (which creates all the foam seen in the previous post) completed after about 5 days, so this weekend I racked the beer to a second carboy to separate it from the trub while secondary fermentation takes place. This will help with the overall clarity of the beer when it comes time to bottle it.



Not much else to report, except that it does smell nice and beer-y. Unfortunately that enters us into the long waiting game of two to three weeks before bottling. But don’t worry, I’ll be posting about my March #3SkillsYEG thing soon.

Posted by Dave Sutherland Feb - 29 - 2016 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

You’re probably wondering how my weekend making beer went.

Release the krausen!

Release the krausen!

Well that’s a good sign.

Let’s flash back to Saturday afternoon. Armed with a recipe and a plan, I was rearing to go.

First step: start the yeast by giving the packet a good smack.

Not pictured: Smacking

Not pictured: Smacking

With that out of way, next comes cleaning and sanitizing.

Cleanliness leads to deliciousness

Cleanliness is next to deliciousness

Next I carefully measured out and bagged my steeping grains: flaked barley for body and flavour, roasted barley for colour, and crystal malts for sweetness. I gave them a good smacking with a frying pan to expose their precious sugars for the wort. I hope I smacked them sufficiently.



Measured out the hops; I realized that the recipes I used were based on whole hops, not pellets; a quick Google search on the subject returned suggestions to reduce the weight by about 10% when using pellets, so I did.

Nuggles and Fuggets?

Nuggles and Fuggets?

While bringing the water up to steeping temperature, I quickly realized that the floating thermometer I bought had way too limited a range to be useful to me. Instead I got out our electronic one and soon discovered what the metal clip on it is for (hint: it’s not for attaching it to your belt).

L to R: Useless thermometer, useful thermometer

L to R: Useless thermometer, useful thermometer

The little useless one is going back to the store, I think.

Checking on the yeast, it looks like it has started well, the little yeast cells awakening from their slumber, feasting on the nutrients in the packet and exhaling CO2.

Not pictured: CO2

Not pictured: CO2

I learned a lot about my stovetop in the process of getting the right temperatures: at least 7 on the big burner is what I needed to get it to 160F, and then turn it down to 4 on the small burner to hold it at that temp once the grains were in.



I “teabagged” (yeah, yeah) the bags about every 5 minutes to ensure good soaking of all the grains.

After 30 minutes, I removed and drained the grains, added the dry malt extract, and brought the heat up to maximum for boiling.

Adding the dry malt extract

Adding the dry malt extract



Looking malty, that’s good so far.

Not pictured: Yeast party

Not pictured: Yeast party

Yeah, I think the yeast is good.

I was waiting for a “hot break” but never really saw one specifically occur (which I think it normal for extract brewing?). When the foam had mostly subsided, I put in the Nugget hops, and then the Fuggles 30 minutes later.

"Hop" in, the water's great!

“Hop” in, the water’s great!

While waiting for the hops to boil, I snacked on some longans and read some Internets.



After the hops finished boiling (one hour total), it was time to add the liquid extract.



Wow this stuff is sticky.

After the last boil to pasteurize the liquid extract, I put the pot in an ice bath in the sink. The goal was to get the temperature down to 70F in 30 minutes. I achieved 84F in that time; in the future I need more ice. But I think it will be ok.

While it was cooling, I was adding spring water to the bucket, sloshing it around to aerate it, and then added it to the carboy. Following that, I poured the wort back and forth between the bucket and pot to aerate it as well. I’m not 100% sure I aerated it sufficiently, to be honest, but again, I think I’ll be ok.



At this point I hit a bit of a problem: my “wine thief” did not fit into the neck of the carboy! This means I was unable to obtain my starting gravity, which means I’m flying a bit blind when it comes time to figure out the alcohol content. I think I did my math and measurements well, though, so I think my SG would have been close to what I estimated (1.044).

Batter up!

Batter up!

Yeast: pitched.

It's the right colour at least

It’s the right colour at least

I rolled the carboy a bit to distribute the yeast, then put in the stopper and the airlock. On the advice of How to Brew, I filled the airlock with sanitizer solution, so that if anything backwashes it should not contaminate the batch.

I moved the carboy to a corner, covered it to keep out sunlight, and left it overnight. When I checked on it the next day, well, that’s when I took the photo at the top of this post.

So while I won’t know for sure if this turned out the way I intended (read: making a drinkable product) for several more weeks – and even though the process didn’t go off without a few hitches – the fact that the colour looks right for an Irish stout and that fermentation is a go are both good signs I’m on the right track.

I will report back after the first racking, hopefully in less than a week!

Posted by Dave Sutherland Feb - 22 - 2016 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

Here’s a rough outline of the steps I will be following today to execute the recipe from the previous post; I am writing them out and posting them here as much for my benefit as anyone else’s:

  1. Kickstart the yeast (by smacking the packet)
  2. Wash and dry or sanitize: carboy, food-grade bucket, strainer, large pot, stirring spoon, large funnel, “the thief”, hydrometer, stopper, airlock, thermometer, measuring implements
  3. Measure out all of the ingredients
  4. Bag and crush steeping grains
  5. Heat 1 gallon of spring water to 150-170F (66-77C)
  6. Steep grains for 30 minutes
  7. Remove and drain grain bags
  8. Stir in dry malt extract
  9. Add water to pot to bring it up to about 2 gallons
  10. Bring to a boil
  11. Wait for “hot break” (after foaming subsides)
  12. Add Nugget hops
  13. Wait 30 mins
  14. Add Fuggle hops
  15. Wait 30 mins
  16. Stir in liquid malt extract
  17. Wait 5-10 mins
    • Prepare ice bath at this point
  18. Remove from heat and cool QUICKLY in ice bath
    • Stir gently to help, but DO NOT SPLASH (no oxidation!)
  19. Try to cool to 70F (21C) within 30 mins
  20. Add 3.5 gallons of spring water to bucket and shake to aerate
  21. Pour wort into bucket through a strainer
    • Try to decant the trub as much as possible, but some is ok
    • Thermometer can come out this way too
  22. Discard trub
  23. Pour wort from the bucket into the pot and back a few times to aerate
    • At some point here, use “the thief” to snag some wort from the bucket and use the hydrometer to record the starting gravity
  24. Pour wort into carboy using the funnel
  25. Pitch the yeast (add it to the carboy) also via funnel
  26. Put stopper on the carboy
  27. Roll the carboy a few times to distribute yeast
  28. Put airlock in stopper
  29. Add sanitizer solution to airlock, fill to line
  30. Place carboy where it will call home for the next 3-4 days and cover to keep light out
  31. Clean up after yourself

Here I go! I will try to take lots of photos along the way for my next post!

Posted by Dave Sutherland Feb - 20 - 2016 0 Comments Categories: Blogography
Some (yes some) of the equipment and ingredients for making beer

Some (yes some) of the equipment and ingredients for making beer

I’ve started getting together everything I need to start brewing my first batch of beer! Here’s what we already have from meadmaking:

  • StarSan sanitizing agent
  • Bottle and carboy brushes
  • A hydrometer for measuring specific gravity
  • A siphon
  • A pH meter

I was able to borrow a 6.5gal carboy from a friend as well.

A trip to Winning Wines Plus and $217 later, I also now have:

  • A second 6.5gal carboy and stopper
  • A bottle filler
  • 24 16oz EZCap bottles
  • Hop bags
  • Floating thermometer

And for ingredients I now have:

  • 1.5kg liquid pale malt extract
  • 2kg extra light dry malt extract
  • 1kg crystal malt
  • 1kg roasted barley
  • Wyeast 1084 yeast
  • 60g each Fuggle and Nugget hop pellets

Because it’s difficult to find exactly the ingredients needed for any specific recipe, I have had to adapt a bit, which means I’ve basically had to build my own recipe! That’s a little scary for a first go, but I’m still confident because it’s based on a handful of other Irish Stout recipes I found, and because I feel I have a good handle on the process already after extensive reading.

So my specific recipe – which if it turns out well I will later give it a cool name – is:

  • 3.3 lbs. (1.5kg) liquid pale malt extract
  • 2.0 lbs. (1.0kg) extra light dry malt extract
  • 0.5 lbs. (0.2kg) crystal malt
  • 1.0 lbs. (0.5kg) roasted barley
  • 1.0 lbs. (0.5kg) flaked barley
  • 0.75 oz. (21g) Nugget hops
  • 1 oz. (28g) Fuggle hops
  • Wyeast 1084 yeast

If my math is correct (and I do actually love how much math is involved!), that should give me an Original Gravity (OG) of about 1.044 and about 45 IBUs, which is pretty close to numbers I’ve seen for other Irish Stout recipes.

One thing you may have noticed is a slight discrepancy in the ingredients purchased and those needed for the recipe. That’s because I somehow did not remember to add flaked barley to my shopping list, so I’ll be making another trip out to Winning Wines Plus to get some.

The next step is to plan each specific phase of brewing, which I will probably post here next. I’m aiming to brew next weekend, and will of course document it in photos and post about it again!

Posted by Dave Sutherland Feb - 14 - 2016 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

#3SkillsYEG Update: I’ve begun the process of learning Beer Making! That is, I’ve taken out a couple of books from the library to get me started understanding the basics:

Hard to go wrong with a title like that.

I’m about halfway through this well-titled book.

I thought I would have to start with learning to malt my own grains, and in fact was mentally preparing myself to having to do that; however, after reading much of How to Brew, I’m realizing that there are a lot of complexities to brewing even when using prepared malts that should be focused on instead, and that these prepared extracts produce beers as good or better than any using fresh malts.

This book has been a very helpful read so far; it both summarizes the basics, but also dives into some pretty deep scientific details about how hops work, how yeast works, how to measure inputs to get specific outputs, etc. Some of this was already familiar from Meadmaking, but the level of detail it goes into about, for example, isomerizing alpha acids of hops, or how yeasts break down polysaccharides into simpler sugars before breaking those down into alcohol, phenols, and other compounds, is quite fascinating.

So while I’m not quite ready to pitch yeast to wort, I’m learning that there’s a lot I don’t yet know, and filling in those gaps so that I am prepared and ready for when I do.

Posted by Dave Sutherland Feb - 1 - 2016 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

Did you miss me?

Of course you did.

I’ve thought for a while that it would be fun to try my hand at making beer. After all, Jenn and I already have some Meadmaking experience. Beer sounds a bit more challenging, but nothing about the process jumps out at me as being overly difficult.

Finding motivation to try something like that is always a bit of a challenge for me, though, but sometimes it doesn’t take much to kick-start me either. For example, Mack posted recently about #3SkillsYEG, a new initiative by the Edmonton Public Library to encourage learning, personal growth, and sharing that process with others.

“I like to think of learning as this incredibly powerful, universally accessible, high octane booster for your life,” said Robinson. “Scientifically, chronic learners have more self-fulfilling lives, are able to form stronger relationships, feel a more powerful sense of meaning in their lives, and generally lead happier, healthier lives. And anything that is working towards promoting that is a plus in my books.” – Stephen Robinson

After giving it a little thought, I realize this could be a good and fun way to motivate myself into finally picking up this new skill, while also helping me get back into regular blog updates.

Now, fitting “beer making” into #3SkillsYEG’s February theme of “Personal Growth and Well-Being” might be a bit of stretch, but they do say the themes are more suggestions. Besides, isn’t getting back into learning and doing new things personal growth? Sure, we’ll go with that.

The Morning After

So! While I’ll be starting to brush up on what I need and what I need to know, expect some updates on this endeavour through February. In the meantime, I’ll also be thinking about what else I want to learn for March (“Creativity and Expression”) and April (“Making Our City Better”).

#3SkillsYEG links:

Keep tabs on my #3SkillsYEG progress:

Posted by Dave Sutherland Jan - 22 - 2016 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

I did it! I’m sitting on my desktop with my phone in my pocket, so you know the outcome, but the path there is worth a read…

I chose Sunday and Monday for my little experiment: one day at home and one day at work. There were expected issues, and one unexpected issue!

Forgotten Devices

I left my phone around 10:00 Saturday night. I would normally read on my phone or read a book, so I made sure I had a new book! I plugged in the old clock radio I haven’t bothered to move from my night stand… Even this came with complications. I went to set the time and went to the kitchen when I couldn’t check it on my phone. I also had to rearrange my nightstand to prevent things from being knocked over the next morning. On the plus side, it’s nice to be able to put on hand cream without worrying about getting a screen greasy or trying to use it through cotton gloves! My hands are drier than they’d otherwise be for that reason. I usually use an app called Sleepbot to track my sleep. It tells me when I should be getting to sleep soon and its smart alarm wakes me up when I’m more likely to feel rested. I did track my sleep roughly, but I won’t worry about tracking the hours.

Tools of Disconnection

Sundays are pretty relaxed in the Fehr/Sutherland household, and they revolve around food: shopping and cooking for the week. I did decide that I would still use the tablet for pulling up recipes in the kitchen – it’s better than printing it out, and we could have used Dave’s laptop with little more effort.

“Hello, what time is it? I forgot to set the clock.”

I woke up feeling great, but then sleeping in usually does! I got to talking with Dave about what restaurant to go to for our upcoming anniversary, and I would like to have checked Google Maps or Open Table’s recent Top 100 article. I waited until I got up to use my desktop over breakfast, though. I unplugged my phone at 10:20 that morning, and it had drained by a little over 50% in 36 hours. I usually use Evernote for making grocery lists, and I made a paper list instead. We usually make a couple of different stops and I forgot which pocket the list was in! On the other hand, it was much easier to bring up the list when I did find it. I used Dave’s phone to make a call a couple of times, but I would have done that regardless if his was closer. I didn’t really miss my phone otherwise, although I did find it was easier to loose track of time while, say, reading.

Monday morning I definitely missed my phone. Again, I like to check Facebook as I’m waking up. I didn’t need my alarm, though, so I missed the blaring and the physical snooze button – I woke up when Dave and and got up when he let me know the shower was free. I like to check the weather and listen to Sonic while I’m getting ready for work. I used my desktop in both cases, and the weather was the same but Garner Andrews was a bit quiet from the other room! I worried a bit catching the bus (I do wear a watch, but I keep it five minutes fast), but my schedule is pretty set. I’d normally read or play a game on my phone, and I brought my book and a notebook. Aside from the heft of it, no complaints there…

Ye Olde Bus Stop (credit: Google Maps)

Things got tricky at work. Outlook stopped working properly, and when resetting my Windows password didn’t work (it was about due), I decided to reboot my computer. I keep the clue to my password in Lastpass, which I log into from… my phone. I had a brilliant thought that I do remember my master password, and I can log in from a colleague’s computer! One tiny problem there: two-factor authentication. I called IT for a password reset, which normally would have been pretty quick, but it turns out everyone was having Outlook issues and I ended up having to wait to get through. This was the first time – the only time, really – when I needed my phone.

I missed my phone at lunch, too, to be able to check when to return, and to be able to text Dave to see if he wanted to go for a walk. I tried to call him but it didn’t pan out. The rest of the day was uneventful (aside from catching up on the work I couldn’t do without email), and I went back to my phone around 10:30 pm.

So, what were the themes of my experiment?

  • We create a dependency on our devices. Especially when you consider them as little gateways to the internet, you can access anything with a phone.
  • Cell phones are good at fostering what I’d call passive connections. We read what other people communicate frequently, but how often to we reach out to others directly? When we do, how many are we reaching out to on a regular basis? I don’t know if not having a phone made me want to reach out more, but I’m pretty introverted.
  • This constant access commodifies time. There is a huge time savings, for sure, but there’s an offset of videos and listicles and freemium games. If you never use that time for productive things, it’s just another addiction.

I’m not going to give up my phone, but my little break from it serves as a good reminder that there’s a whole, real world I can’t access with it. It may be the alpha, but it is definitely not the omega.

Posted by Jenn Fehr Apr - 19 - 2015 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

Obsolete and obsoleter: my current (2012) and first (2005) cell phones with my current number.

We’re more connected and more accessible than ever. 91% of Albertan households owned a mobile phone in 2013 (Statistics Canada), and 60% of households under 35 years of age only used a cell phone. That percentage more then doubled in the past five years. My household was one of them back in 2008. I’ve owned a smart phone since late 2009, and I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s my alarm, my music player, my bus schedule, my notebook, my camera, my newspaper, my gaming device… I use it least as a phone! Cell phones may not have been invented in my lifetime, but they’ve definitely taken over the connected world.

You can bet he isn’t tweeting about his meal.

I don’t always feel like being constantly accessible is a good thing, though. There’s a radio ad for Rogers (which I hear on my cell phone) where people share the remote places where they can stay connected – while fishing, working, traveling… I don’t want to be connected all the time! I have my limits in my day-to-day life as well. I’m more and more overwhelmed by all the sounds around me, so my ringer is never on, nor are any audible notifications. I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook; I never downloaded Messenger (although I can log in from a browser to check messages if needed), and all the invitations, tags, and notifications can also get overwhelming to the extent that I take the occasional Facebook vacation. MySpace didn’t come close to this level of immersion, although we couldn’t check it 24/7… If only Tom was my first friend a couple of years later!

My first camera (or something similar). Image © Tony Kemplen.

I recently got to wondering what life would be like without a cell phone. I can remember using a rotary phone (which we had a few years into the advent of touch tones and answering machines), a tape deck, and the matching Vivitar NEON lites 110 mm cameras my sister and I had. It wasn’t that long ago! Would I go a week without a mobile device? No. A day? That’s doable. Two days? Just enough of a challenge. Bring on 48 Disconnected Hours!

Here are the rules:

1. I will only use my phone as a home phone. It stays home, and I can only make and receive calls (including voice mail). If I get a text, for instance, I’ll leave it unread.

2. No loopholes. I won’t use my tablet or my husband’s phone while I disconnect.

3. No Luddites. I’ll still have full use of my desktop computer (and my work computer, as far as I use it), so Facebook and email at home are fine.

My initial thought was “why not start tonight?” I was ready to start before I realized that I do want to stay connected – the Muttart Conservatory will have its corpse flower, Putrella, bloom any day now, and I want to know as soon as it happens! I’ll put it off a week, then, and start as I go to bed on Saturday, April 11. 48 Disconnected Hours ends when I go to sleep on Monday, April 13. It’ll be interesting!

Posted by Jenn Fehr Apr - 5 - 2015 1 Comment Categories: Blogography

I’ve been trying to take my camera out more, and just shoot around the city. Here’s some of what I’ve shot.

Lions and Firecrackers



Everything Photographic


"Mommy what's that?"


Angles on Clouds


Edmonton Skyline
(That one is a 41-image pano; go see the larger sizes!)


Reflected MacDonald

Reflections, Stairs

Tunnel Vision

Rowand House



All Shapes and Sizes

Posted by Dave Sutherland Mar - 8 - 2015 0 Comments Categories: Blogography


The infamous Hobos with Nikons had the good fortune to be invited into the Central Masonic Temple in downtown Edmonton. The Freemasons are looking to get the 1930s building added to the list of historical resources with the city, and they invited a bunch of photographers in to both capture the building interior, as well as to have some fun and photograph some models within its halls.

Jenn donned a dress and hat of the 1930s period style and modeled for a bunch of photographers (myself included). I decided to try my hand at capturing more of the environment in these shots as well as the fashion.









Dress by eShakti
Shoes by John Fluevog
Model: Jenn Fehr
Hair & MUA: Jenn Fehr

Also shot a few with Sarah.



Model: Sarah Horricks
Hair & MUA: Sarah Horricks

Finally, my favourite shot from the evening, with Jenn and Jessica:


Model: Jenn Fehr, Jessica Jezowski
Hair & MUA: Jenn Fehr, Jessica Jezowski

Strobist info: Single LumoPro LP-180 (CTO gelled) with shoot-through umbrella, Yongnuo triggers.

Posted by Dave Sutherland Feb - 15 - 2015 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

Just over a month ago now (back in December) I took a photo walk at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market with my friend Tyler Biard, a local street photographer. I don’t do much street myself, but hanging out with him encourages me to do more, so I loaded up the ol’ Canon AE-1 with some Portra 400.



Fish Stories

Caught Off Guard

Meet Tyler:


Onion Commerce

Fresh Turkey

Urban Fresh



The Jacket

Red Hat Portrait

Posted by Dave Sutherland Jan - 25 - 2015 0 Comments Categories: Blogography