Thursday, February 24, 2011

Installing new baseboard

The old house in NJ that Marianne inherited from her mother has had numerous alterations done to it over the years. Somewhere along the line, the baseboard on the second floor was removed when carpet was installed. Marianne removed the old crappy carpet to expose the wooden floors and so we needed to install new baseboard. I borrowed a compound miter saw from my friend Lee and away Marianne and I went to NJ.

We had taken measurements and decided we needed 16 foot pieces since quite a few rooms had walls longer than 12 foot. This presented a problem since we don't have a truck and 16 feet pieces don't fit in our cars.
Fortunately, Lowes in Cape May has a truck you can rent for about $25 total, so that is what we did. 

Even with a truck, loading 16 foot pieces is not easy but fortunately since we had pre-ordered the baseboard, it had come as a well wrapped and protected single package that was easy to deal with and attach to the truck. The people at Lowes were very friendly and helpful.

In the background you can see the back of the house.

Your hero, captain of his vessel.

One of the shorter section showing the miter cuts. The saw certainly makes it easy but I must admit I made several mistakes. Eventually I found a method that seemed to work. I would draw the proposed piece on a piece of paper with the angles marked before cutting.

More results, prior to painting. The pieces are not yet installed.

The imaginative use of rubbish bins to hold up a freshly painted 16 foot piece for our longest wall.

Marianne is the painter, I am the brute who wields the saw.

The baseboard is made of light weight mdf that is easier to paint than regular pine. It cut very easily as well.

So the next step is to rent a nail gun and attach the baseboard to the wall.

Mr Beer - the bottling

So the brew has been lurking in the corner of the kitchen for two weeks, covered by a towel to prevent sunlight spoiling the beer. For the first week or so, I could see some froth on the surface but it had pretty well gone at the end of the two weeks as far as I could see.

They recommend tasting a little to make sure the fermentation is finished. It should taste like flat beer and not sweet and that is exactly how it tasted. It did have plenty of flavour.

Since the kit did not have any bottles, I bought some half litre plastic bottles from a beer making supplies place in Delaware called 'How do you brew'. This is the place you go to when you get serious about making your own beer.

The keg ready to dispense.

First you have to sanitize your beer bottles and caps. The instructions say to fill a gallon container with warm water and pour in the remaining sanitizer powder. Then simply fill each bottle half way, put on the cap, shake and let stand for ten minutes.

The red bucket cost $2 from Target and I will use it in the Russian Line Stage competition that I have organized for my local amplifier building group.

Depending on the size of the bottle, add the appropriate amount of sugar and then fill the bottle to just above where the neck joins the body of the bottle. Because I did not have quite enough dark plastic bottles, I sanitized and used a couple of water bottles and a wine bottle with a screw cap, just to see if they would stand up to the pressure. I used some electrical tape to better seal the water bottles.

Since I expect that there will be an accident, I lined a box with a big black trash bag and put the bottles in. The water bottles and the wine bottle each has an extra plastic bag, the traditional double bagger. The black plastic then covers the box and protects the bottles from sunlight. The box now lurks in a corner of the pantry.

I forgot to take a photo of the remains of the fermentation before I started to move and shake the barrel so you see the well shaken version. Before the shaking, the beer was well separated from the muck at the bottom.

Cleaning the barrel took a while, but I found that the kitchen sink spray worked pretty well.

So now I wait a couple of weeks for the carbonation to work.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mr Beer

My friend Al, gave me a Mr Beer kit for Christmas and I have finally got around to making the beer. Al has been using these kits for a year or so and they have turned out well. His Novacaine is absolutely amazing, imagine liquid chocolate as a beer.

The kit came in a box.

Here is the barrel that does it all. The process is pretty simple. 

First you sterilize the barrel and spigot with some sterilizer powder mixed with water.

Sterilize a bowl with the sterilizing mix. Off to the right you can see a tin sitting in a bowl of hot water. Not being sure how our well water would do, I used bottled water (not distilled). 

Whisk, spoon and can opener have been sterilized in the barrel and laid in the sterilized bowl ready for action.

I boiled up some of the water from the barrel that had been half filled with the bottled water.

Then added the booster and stirred until the booster dissolved and the mixture came to a boil. The small packet to the right contains the sterilizing powder. Use half at first and save the rest for the bottling process.

Next comes the 'stuff' that makes a pale ale.

The mix before being added to the barrel.

Finally add the yeast, wait five minutes and stir  in. Here is the barrel starting its one to two week fermentation. I've covered it with towels to prevent direct sunlight getting to it.

I'll update the rest of the blog when I bottle the stuff.