My road to fat loss.

“So, how did you lose all that weight?”

“Well, first I failed a lot. Then I had moderate success until I hit a sticking point. Then, after researching my ass off, I found something that works for me and can be sustained for a long time.”

“Get to the goods then!”

“Nope, first you must hear how I failed, then how it happened.”

I went the traditional route; high amounts of cardio, low carb, low fat, six meals a day etc. Over 8 months this produced some results. My starting weight was 196lbs packed into a 5’8″ frame. It was not pretty.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to write this to make it engaging or funny but informative. I’ve been racked with guilt by promising to write it then not having time to adequately do so. Then today I had an epiphany. It doesn’t matter how I write this. It’s not my job to write this. I can’t make you read this just like I can’t put in the work I’ve put in to accomplish what I have. Around 7 or 8 people have asked me for the cliff notes version to digest while I scribe this tale and around none of them have gotten past the starting phase of cliff notes version, instead, opting to find reasons why they won’t get past the initial stage. So if I look at it like that, then my job is to tell you what I found out and nothing more.

I can’t do any of this for you. What I did isn’t sexy, or a magic pill, or some food hack. It was hard work and a lot of attention to detail, which is why a lot of you will find reasons not to do this. I get it, no worries. It’s not for everyone. Not even close.

That being said, here’s what I did.

I started out going to the doctor and complaining about sleep apnea, which was observed in me, and the effects of low testosterone. Doctor wanted me to lose weight and said he’d put me on a program with weekly shots and pills.

“No thanks, I got this.”

I’d done it before; super low carb diet mixed with amphetamines and lifting weights. However, this time I couldn’t take amphetamines or work out with heavy weights like I’d wanted. I needed an intermediary device. My knees and lower back were trash, so the first thing I did that had an effect on my overall ability to work out was DDP Yoga. I’ll be using some form of abbreviated yoga from now on for flexibility and general well being. It got me to the point that I could work out like I wanted to, so I am thankful for that. However, I was doing so much cardio that it was affecting my ability to lift weights at the intensity and frequency I wanted to. It took a conversation with a bar guest to get me out of doing that, as he pointed out that I was injuring myself and fatiguing myself beyond my body’s capacity to recover. I was essentially hurting my knee every week and never letting it heal. My strength workouts were maybe once a week outside of cardio. There was no way to progress fast enough that way. His talk about not doing cardio got me looking into bodybuilding forums to search for exercise routines.

On the diet side, I thought what I was doing was effective. I know now that it wasn’t. 30lbs in 8 months seemed great, but the other 30lbs came off in 9 weeks. The hardest 30lbs at that. What changed? I stopped with all the bullshit theories I’d heard and read about. Meal frequency, food combining, eat for your blood type, paleo, south beach, vegan, juicing, 30 bananas a day…more bullshit theories than I can remember. None of it had a huge impact, none of it works long term in my opinion.

On one of the forums a guy opened his drop box up with several samples of tomes inside, one of them being the Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler and Lyle McDonald’s “Ultimate Diet 2.0” which I remembered was a follow up to Dan Duchaine’s stab at an ultimate diet. I read the sample portion, found copies online to purchase and read through them and I found it to be too difficult to follow, but Lyle’s site lead to to the biggest break in the code: Lean Gains and Martin Berkhan. The rabbit hole had been opened. I tell people that lean gains and Intermittent Fasting are what got me to 10% body fat, but there’s a lot more to it. I went down this hole, hard, and amassed a lot of subsequent information from and Andy Morgan. That got me reading Greg Nukols and stronger by science. That got me reading reddit and quickly realizing that there’s only so much noise you can handle before you have to shut it out. I read Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon and decided that I’m sticking to people Andy Morgan reads and recommends for most things, with the chance to read new people whenever, but filtering it through the approach and lens that the people around ripped body use. It uncluttered things.

So that’s a lot of info, right? Here’s a breakdown though…

1. I eat 8 hours a day, sometimes 9 if I have to get my calories in. The rest of the day and night, I do not eat. However, I lost weight while “breaking the fast” with celery and other veggies all the time if I kept it under 50 calories. I truly feel like you can have up to that amount and not see a difference in your weight. This applies to beverages as well, like Crystal Light. Total cumulative calories in the fast equal less than 50, you are good.

2. I counted every calorie for a month, using a food scale, and my phone. If you want to lose weight, you simply must count calories for a month. After that, you can feel what makes you heavy and what doesn’t, so you can eyeball portions and be a bit more relaxed. I thought for years that I was eating a sensible diet. I wasn’t. I thought I was low carb. I was not. I really only was low carb in the late 90’s when I simply wasn’t eating. You truly have no idea what your caloric intake is and what it’s made up of unless you count calories. It gets easier, but it’s necessary.

3. I eat a lot of the same foods, but I can eat just about anything I want, in moderation. Look, cheat meals, cheat days…all utter bullshit. Work the food into your routine and counting, and see for yourself. I set my macronutrient percentages based on goal; cutting for 9 weeks, now I’m on a 5 month bulk. I ended my cut at 129lbs and 10% body fat. My goal is 160lbs at 10% body fat. I will accomplish this.

4. I figured out my TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) and how many calories I burn by weighing myself every day nude, in the morning, and logged every activity I did for a month. Now, I know. I used all kinds of calculators online and spreadsheets and came back to counting what I ate and logging my activity. I still weigh myself every morning, but I know the numbers don’t mean as much as people think they do. Here’s some online resources: If I could do it over again I’d use the Joy app instead of Cronometer, but I have too many recipes in Cronometer to start over. Don’t cheat yourself by skipping this if you try any of these IF techniques. I actually smirk when someone tells me that they started a diet and lost x amount of pounds, because short term fat loss means you lost water weight because you restricted your caloric intake, nothing more. Keeping it up is the actual battle, not starting it.

5. Food is fuel. Nothing more, certainly nothing less. I eat pizza, burgers, wings and more, but my cholesterol has gone down, my blood pressure is 128/75 down from 170/90 and I feel great. I don’t exclude foods, I include heathy options. There is no inherent bad food in and of itself, but a bad pattern of eating only certain foods is. As long as I am eating 75% so called “clean foods”, it doesn’t seem to matter, as long as the calories and macros match up. I make most of what I eat and use a recipe maker in Cronometer to tell me what I am eating and it’s easier and easier to fit whatever I want into my diet and account for it.

6. I work out religiously. RPT has been a godsend to me. During my cut I worked out 3 times a week, once per body part and used RPT to hit PR’s during a caloric deficit. I lift weights and lift heavy. Right now I’m working out 4 times a week and slowly gaining strength and size. I use a power rack and free weights and made my own cable pulley system for isolated exercises. The power rack I’ve had for years and it’s still the best investment I’ve made fitness wise. I can lift heavy, by myself, at home. I’m realizing now that I’m coming off very conceited here, telling you all this like it’s the only way. But stay with me, the real “have to’s” of this for me may not be for you at all. This, however, is one of them, especially for guys who are aging. You have to lift weights to preserve muscle mass and stay lean. Not endless cardio, but caloric strategized diet and lifting heavy weights. You can lift heavy well into your 70′s, it’s been done, you just have to stretch and keep a healthy diet with protein intake at your highest and take care of your body. I’m not trying to be a jacked up 250lb muscle beast, I just want to look good naked, because that feels good.

7. I still drink beer. A lot. But, I limit the days I do drink and I eat less on those days than days I don’t. Your body is very efficient at processing calories. I still contend that fat loss is easier if you don’t eat carbs when you drink, but if I account for the calories and macros, it seems to work fine. Drinking lowers inhibitions, sure, and that can lead to over eating, but if you have a mind to watch what you eat, it’s not a big deal.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel, though, because when you reach your goals, you can settle into maintenance calories and you shouldn’t gain or lose weight. I don’t think it’ll be that hard; restricting the time you can eat has really shed some light on how much or how little I eat and it can be a hassle sometimes to get all the calories I require in. So I sometimes fall short, but it doesn’t matter. One day, or one week won’t matter. I relaxed in St Augustine last week and dropped everything, IF, counting calories, working out…and at the end of it I’d gained 7lbs, and it’s all gone 4 days later. Mostly water weight from eating more carbs than usual and processed foods with it’s sodium. But, it’s all gone now, and I’m glad because taking a break is necessary to me. That being said, I can’t wait to get back into my home gym tomorrow and resume working out after taking the week off.

You don’t have to do any of what I did to get into shape except, in my mind, count calories, establish your TDEE and Macros according to goals and workout. Anything you can adhere to long term is better than what you can’t. IF works for me because I actually like being in the fasted state during the day and eating late into the night. All that talk about 6 meals a day, portion size, protein uptake being small, eating late at night will make you fat…it all went away.

When I was in my 30’s, I was in about the same shape, but I did that through the use of androgens, pro-hormones and what are now considered illegal designer steroids and a high protein diet. I wasn’t doing the workouts right or eating right but the exogenous testosterone I was taking did a lot of fixing that for me.

For the first time I believe I’m using an effective work out and progression routine along with a sensible diet. For the first time in my life, I truly think I understand why I am doing what I am doing. I won’t say here what it was, but I did take a SARM during the last of the cut to help with preserving muscle. You don’t need to do any of that, I was in a hurry and had a mental deadline to reach. Any effective routine you use that you progress with instead of using the same weights for months will work for you. I’m an extremist, you don’t have to be. I actually found it hard to stop losing weight towards the end. That 30lbs in 9 weeks was a rocket ride and I wanted to stop at 135lbs but got down to 125 for a bit, then back up to 129. I had to really eat to stop losing weight using IF.

I got my bloodwork done through this, so I am okay for those of you that want to lecture me on using chemical enhancements.

When I get to maintenance, I’ll probably use Brad’s Eat Stop Eat as my IF for a while. Lately I’ve been reading Greg O’Gallagher as a more relaxed version of Lean Gains. Or this guy Pete. I’d advise anyone to read through the links I’ve provided thoroughly and decide for yourself what the best course of action is. I love IF and it works for me as a window of eating and a window of not eating, but that may change, who knows?

It’s a year later, and my doctor chided me on losing so much weight so fast because he’s an idiot who only noticed the last 30lbs (but let’s be honest, most people did as well) but my testosterone was still low, even after a month of maintenance calories. So I’m on TRT. That 160lbs at 10% body fat is looking closer and closer.

Don’t just believe me, and don’t believe the fitness industry. Read pub med, read and do what you think will work. Eat real food, lift real weights, be happy.

Sheperd’s Pie, an evolution of difficulty.

So, as you may have noticed, I tend to So since I made Sheperd’s Pie with actual ground lamb from in Sanford, I figured I’d share my complicated, but not quite as much as I’ve done in the past, recipe. Having heard the pontification of lamentation over the use of ground beef in said pie, I was still hesitant to use Lamb; I’ve never been happy with how cooking lamb turned out at home. Well, my fears have been dashed to death like a teen trying to lose their virginity at Camp Crystal Lake on a Friday, because this turned out GREAT! I took some modest ingredients and here we go:


Not pictured, the 14 beers I had before starting this.

Just potatoes, ground Lamb, Guinness, Cheese from Publix and a handful of other stuff. The cheddar cheese was VERY good, I’ll definitely go back for more. I started by browning the Lamb.

Brown Lamb

I added Soul-Glow.

I started the potatoes…

Irish Curse

Stop criticizing my cut on these guys.

At this point, I want to tell you that this dish is historically a simple leftover recipe whipped up in minutes. I take around two hours to do it, but it used to take me two days, because I would use whole chunks of beef and marinate them in a Guinness reduction sauce for 24 hours before use. While those pies always came out great, I never got to use the rue from the fat and thought about streamlining the process. I can be ridiculous sometimes.

Rue the day

Don’t worry, the other 11 beers got a good home.

This is the rue I love so much. Fat from the Lamb, flour, Guinness and patience.

I’m okay with multitasking.

Get it.

Slacker, you’ve still got a burner free!

I added onions, chopped, to the Lamb after draining the fat, then added FROZEN VEGETABLES because I hate you and you deserve my enmity. Also, lazy.

Rue is done…


The bubbles are extra deliciousness trying in vain to escape.

Potatoes are at the ready

I add real cream and butter because I laugh at my arteries.

Time to layer it, now. First, meat veggie mix and rue.


Or you can use Canola oil, heathen. I almost typed Heather. Where’s my head at?

First layer of cheese…



Potatoes, mashed, in…

I just punch the hot taters with my fists until they run smooth and then I seek medical attention.

Yeah, you are correct, but don’t be all “why the skins on, bro? We gotta problem?” Naw, Dawg, we do not. I don’t EVER peel potatoes when I mash them. I also use a hand masher always. ALWAYS! But then, I’m only cooking four or five potatoes at a time, so I can justify it. For Thanksgiving, for 8-10 people? Oh no, that’s not a mixer you hear, the cats are just shaving their butts again.

Another layer of cheese…

It’s fine, it’s good for you in a certain portion. Like, half an ounce.

Then I put it in the oven for 45 minutes at 350. I line the rack with aluminum foil because safety, then at 20 minutes in, when the fat from the cheese is starting to bubble, I add Panko bread crumbs for a nice, golden hue.

Consult your physician before slicing into this…

Once out, I’d suggest you let it sit for 15 minutes before doling out and eating. Of course, I say that, but I dive right in, burn the crap out of my mouth and eat a second helping immediately after the first because NONE OF US ARE GOING TO LIVE FOREVER AND IT IS DAMNED TASTY!

Big thanks to Habibi’s for making me a fan of grass fed, pastured Lamb again!

The Grainfather all in one home brew system.

So I had the chance to order and test out a Grainfather recently thanks to Sanford Homebrew Shop and it was very interesting.

I’ve been brewing beer for 10 years now, and very rarely have I brewed on the exact same equipment on a consistent basis. Like most homebrewers, I tinkered around with my equipment for a few years before settling in on something. Then, as luck has it, my situation changed time and again, causing me to brew on whatever I could get my hands on. Then I inherited a full all grain system from a dear departed friend, Steve Vallancourt. My brewing partner Aaron and I used that for a while, then modified it much to Steve’s chagrin. He chided us for exploiting the system and robbing it of it’s ability to make multiple batches at once while remaining simple. The ultimate evolution of that system is the simplest electric 10 gallon system on the planet residing at Aaron’s house.

I don’t get to hang out at his house that often anymore, having moved to Geneva. So my brewing has been done at a 2 gallon level on my stove, all grain, with a Pic-2 induction burner and a 2.5 gallon pot.

I’m out of beer a lot.

I drink a lot. Therefore by the transitive properties of my desire to drink, my desire to brew and the inverse of my bank account I needed to find something that allowed me to still actually brew beer, not just push buttons, but small enough and powerful enough that it can be done almost anywhere.

The Grainfather so far is it, for me. We got to see a lot of so called all in one systems at NHC this year, and the only one that met my price to performance ratio while still allowing me to make the beer I want was the Grainfather. All of the other ones were either too big, too expensive, not robust enough, too automated etc. They all had at least one thing that made no sense on them, and in my mind could inhibit me using it the way I want to.

I’ll admit, the GF also has a few things that make no sense, but they at least let me do what I want to do.

My brew day started out at 7pm EST, a bad decision on my part since I’d never used this equipment before and had a full day of work the next. However, undaunted (read: already drinking), I took the GF to task. I used water from my sink, as I’ve tested it and there’s no chlorine or chloramines in it and the taste is better than most Florida water. Here’s a pic of the system and my all grain ESB batch:

Here’s a pic of part of what I drank that day, all from a gas station less than a mile from my house. Not bad at all for being in the woods, huh?

Here’s the first thing they don’t tell you in the manual that I received, the thing is shipped reading Fahrenheit in the US, but the read out was designed to read in Celsius, so it looks like the third number is a decimal point.

In trying to get it up to an appropriate temp to clean it the night before, it wouldn’t go past 23, because that was actually 230. So having looked that up, I knew that despite the weird look, it was okay. The instructions said to dough in at mash temp once that was achieved, I said screw that and dumped my grains in at 117 and ramped up to sac temps. One thing I will tell you is that in making this adaptable for US kitchens at 120 volt and moderate amperage, the sacrifice in power of the heating element is felt during the ramp up to boil, but it’s totally worth it. Ramping up to mash temp didn’t take very long. Plus, the way I mash, most of the beta activity is handled at the lower end, not wasting their half life teetering beyond the gelatinization ceiling but allowing enough to take place for conversion, so although I probably was done at sac temp at 30 minutes I let it run for an hour and made some amazing steaks on my grill. In other words, I didn’t worry and had a homebrew.

The boil itself took a while, but I have to say, I’m amazed at how well the mash went. It recirculates via a pump, attached arm and hose.

It was the most worry free and trouble lacking mash I’ve EVER done. The mash tun itself works very well at keeping the grain in the tun, and the pre-filter to the pump gets the rest. That being said, I’ll be using a hop bag from now on as the pre-filter got clogged with a modest amount of hops in this recipe, an IPA would kill it I think.

Time to sparge, which I did by heating 2.5 gallons of water to 168 on my stove, as there’s no way to really do this in the GF. Not that big of a deal in my opinion. Sparging went fine and fast, and I say I could probably even skip it, but I like keeping the volume of water in the mash at my 1.25 quarts to pound of grain, so this was fine. I flipped the mash switch at the bottom, which keeps a much more consistent temp at mash level and effectively cuts power to the heating element, back to boil while collecting my sweet, sweet wort.

Terrible picture.

Sparging in locked position

Once boil was achieved, and it did take about 40 minutes, things were great. Except that I was about here on the beers:

Totes screwed, Bro.

Then, all of a sudden, it hit me…I’m drunk! Also, I have to set up the chiller, it’s 55 minutes into the boil and I just threw in the finishing hops and Whirlfloc! I know from research and practical experience that any time your hops are in a liquid solution with a relatively fair amount of sugars in them above the 180 degree mark, you’re isomerizing. Meaning, your aroma hops are becoming bittering hops. So I need to chill, and fast.

But this is saying, Suck it jerk!

I clumsily set up my gravity rig, forgoing using a pump to help push the water through the included counter flow chiller.

It’s gravity! What could go wrong?

So yeah, full disclosure, I own said Homebrew Shop. Having the resources I have, I set up that mash tun 4 years ago with a serpentine nightmare of kettle screens and t-unions that now resembles your kids favorite tentacle hentai. So when I threw in the ice, the manifold I built inside it froze up somehow and gravity was no longer my friend. In an attempt to better utilize said force of nature, I picked the mash tun over my head, moving the beer in line from the kettle to the floor in the process. That’s cool, bro, just a half gallon of cool sweet wort. It’s almost midnight, I’ll have time to clean that up after.

When I got to 80 degrees I gave up and ran into my carboy, pitched the yeast and put the batch in my temp controlled fridge. Then I looked at the mess I created in the kitchen and said “That’s not my problem, that Future Me’s problem” and hit the sack. I hate present/past me so much. Had to wake up early to clean up the mess before we get ants, so that was cool.

All in all, I enjoyed the Grainfather and used it again this past Saturday to make an Oktoberfest batch for the first time in a few years, and I’ll us it tomorrow to make a Saison. I’m so excited that I can brew in my kitchen, I’ll be brewing a lot more often now. With a closed but upgradable (by the user or by buying GF approved parts) system my process will be a lot more streamlined and consistent. I’m planning on using a submersible pump from now on to help chill, and am looking at a cheap heat stick to help decrease the time to boil, but other than that, it’s a win.

The case on the front of the control panel has already broken off and never fit quite right anyway, but it sets on it during transfer enough to protect it, so I’m not overly concerned. Clean up is simple; it’s stainless so I scrubbed it out and rinsed it then went with the recommended clean and rinse cycle using the pump and a handy 3/8 inch plastic T to tie the recirculating arm to the chiller for an all in one clean and rinse.

All in all, at a price point of $890, considering that the pump is fantastic and super quiet; it comes with a color coded counter flow chiller and is easy to use, I think it’s worth the price. I’m looking forward to brewing more and more again, as the simplicity of this has really reignited my passion for brewing without dreading the set up, the cleaning before and after…all that. I can even multitask, which is my favorite. Yeah, doing multiple brews in one day is not this things strong suit without additional equipment, but I’ll brew more often with how simple a brew day can be with this thing. Huge thumbs up. We are planning a day of electronic brew systems soon, for comparison, so we’ll keep you posted.

Hi! Met you at NHC!

So, a lot of you guys and gals asked about me while at this years NHC in Grand Rapids. I did ask an important question at a very pointed seminar there. Welcome! Subscribe! I intend to write a lot more after that.

Pizza Made Difficult, pt.2

Have I mentioned lately that I have no patience? Well, I don’t. So let’s get to posting pictures and then we can laugh at them. Going back to the pizza theme, here’s what I did next to make a delicious pizza the most exhausting thing you can do with your time.

Here I add the force carbonated reverse pollination green peppers that I imported from the freezer section of the ghetto Win-Dixie. I had to invent an ice chamber that kept things cooked at freezing temperatures just to take them home.

I just don’t know where to start on Obamacare. Really, these poor onions only wanted to be tasty, but they were destined to treat wounds on soldiers off fighting the war on making love not war. I rescued them, butchered them and put them on a pizza.

OKAY, SO I MAY HAVE BEEN DRINKING A WEE BIT WHEN I MADE THIS PIZZA! But it was a seasonal beer, a summer shandy. At a low ABV, I could drink 50 of them. And did. Of course thanks to the industry’s ridiculous “first to market” standard, I drank this seasonal in January.

First round of pepperoni. I prefer the turkey pepperoni because if I made my own we’d be here until the next season of summer beers, and everyone knows that’s January 12th to the 13th. We don’t have time for that, so it’s turkey pepperoni. You can really taste the suffering!

So, yeah…the second layer of crust because I usually do a low carb, high protein and moderate fat diet. So when I carb, I REALLY carb. This dough has spent two hours in an induction loaded, perspective blind, oxygen free fart chamber. All of which makes no sense as soon as it is pulled out and hits oxygen again. But it looked cool on Williams Sonoma so I got it.

I once killed a man for suggesting that I had too much cheese on my PB&J sandwich because there’s no such thing ever as too much cheese. So my pizza has at least 2 lbs of mozzarella on it. How’d I kill the guy? Fed him cheese until his arteries collapsed and his heart gave out. I see no corollary. Or carotid for that matter.

Children jump up and down all the time in the hopes that they can suddenly fly. This is because they are stupid and their parents are inept. Thus, more pepperoni.

Do I REALLY have to tell you what’s going on in this picture? I mean, can’t you open your third eye, balance your chakra from any parallel fourth underpinning of Judah’s inherited soulistic infestation of Happenstanding™ and just, fucking, believe? IS it so hard to just accept that I can string a bunch on nonsense words together and you’ll have no recourse but to believe that I am more enlightened than you? Oh, this is when you put sauce on a real pizza.

Bake the ever loving CRAP out of that pizza for 45 minutes, don’t let it cool, just tear off a slice and burn the hell out of your mouth. Because real men don’t wait for things to be perfect before they do stuff, they just do stuff and cry when no one is looking. Then they laugh about it later and act tough.

Hope it was worth the wait! That’s how I make a pizza, and no…you can’t have any as this is from about two months ago and the ‘Za is but a fond memory now. Make your own, it’s difficultly easy!

Pizza made difficult

I am virtually famous for being difficult in my endeavors. So, when I make pizza, I make Chicago Style! First, I season one pound of free range, local chicken and pork to make my own sausage. The remainder of the mixture that’s not used in the ‘Za goes in with eggs the next few days. That takes a day to do, so I make the crust the night before to let set and get a good rise out of it. To do so, I argue with it for hours and read Facebook political posts to it as well as #politics on Twitter. Seems to always make it almost rise up to kill me, but I beat it back with episodes of Breaking Bad.

The NEXT NEXT day, I am ready to make a pizza. Yes, it takes 72 hours. Wait, what? Where’s day two? I think you mean where’s day one. Day one is Monday. I drink Monday. A lot. That’s the day I buy stuff and say I’ll make pizza. Then I get drunk and decide that Tuesday is a better day to put meat in a grinder. It’s a mechanical thing.

Now, onto the pictures. My crust is a simple mix of sawdust and misery, with some floor flour and things the cats leave me at night, plus beer leavings from the bottles I couldn’t quite finish the night before. Oh, and corn meal to piss off the purists.

I put the punched out dough into a deep dish, because I fucking hate crackers being used for pizza, and got to working.

Here’s the crust with home made sausage and store bought Mozzarella cheese. If you’re making the crust, sauce and sausage, why store bought cheese you ask? Because I SUCK AT MAKING CHEESE AND IT HURTS MY FEELINGS. Thanks for asking.

I had some left over dough and remembered Pizza Hut’s Priazzo was great when it was out, so I rolled out another thin layer.

Dough is yummy, more dough is more yummy, right? Next up was the sauce. Farmed and raised from the dumpsters of the finest produce places around, the trash-ripened tomatoes are crushed out of season and mixed with a proprietary blend of herbs (read: I drunkenly threw a bunch of things on a shelf into a bowl) then sat on the counter. Yep. Sat. Not cooked, not roasted, not boiled, microwaved or otherwise cooked. That happens when you cook the pizza itself, so why bother?

Okay. I was told by many people that my posts are too long, so I’ll continue this pizza ridden saga later. In parts two and three I’ll detail exactly why everything I like sucks and everything you like rules then point out a lot of irony. Or just talk about beer and pizza. Haven’t decided yet.

Frankenstout, a lesson in fortitude.

I rarely, if ever, feel intense trepidation when trying a beer for the first time. But this one had me worried. It wasn’t dark, it was damned dark. It actually pulled in light from outside the glass, just to murder said light with its tremendous gravitational pull.

The head on this beer, too, was not to be believed. I’ve seen memory foam mattresses with less density and stopping power. Who knows what lurked inside this monstrosity, this abomination of beers. Drinking it appeared absolutely the antithesis of a salubrious experience.

Then imagine my surprise when I took that first sip and it not only didn’t kill me, but was good. It wouldn’t win any awards or anything, but it was easily more drinkable than I’d thought possible.

Wait, hold on…I guess it’s time for some back story. It was August last year and we were tasked to do a brewing demonstration for the ten year anniversary of Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe. Aaron and I asked multiple award winning brewer Steve Vallancourt to help us with it. He’d decided on one of his signature brews, a Wee Heavy Scottish Ale. This is a rich, robust and malty brew with some fruity esters thrown in and very little hop character, just enough to temper the malt storm. With the recipe battle proven and our equipment checked and primed for brewing battle, we settled in for the brew day.

Little did we know twas the brew day from Hell. It began a few hours earlier, when we were in our Local Home Brew Shop and gathered the ingredients. We did have most of what we needed, but sold out on the yeast strain Steve wanted, and the only thing that could handle this upcoming cavalcade of destruction was a Trappist High Gravity yeast. Ostensibly this would dry out an otherwise super malty sweet beer. Well, it did that and more.

We like to use Beer Smith as our go to recipe builder and it has a lot of functionality, including changing the beginning temperatures for your equipment and water. With the brewing starting at 6pm, we put the stainless steel equipment out at around 4:30pm. In the sun. In Florida. So when we told Beer Smith that our starting ambient temperature was 75 degrees, well, lets just say we were off. By around 50 degrees. So after putting 145 degree water in to buffer the starting temp and raise it to a protein rest at 122, we discovered the horrible truth about how hot our equipment was and we were sitting at around 150. So we threw in ice cubes. A lot of them. After getting the grain and water mash down to 90 degrees, we ramped it back up to 122.

At this time we started our RIMS system and was set to let it go for about 30 minutes. Then the false bottom collapsed. The type we had had bracers on the bottom of it that came apart like bladed Lincoln logs. The actual false bottom rested on top of these blades. We had to go in manually to remove and reshape the blades so that the bottom fit on it again, which involved moving the 17lbs of grain and five gallons of water out of the way by hand, wrenching the blades from underneath the bottom, reshaping them with a rubber mallet and replacing the whole thing. During this time, the temp went back down, so we ramped it back up.

Dark clouds began to form overheard, literally. An enormous storm was approaching and dumped all over us. With it came unseasonably cold winds and temperatures. Now, we went back below our target temp. When we raised to the next target temp, our RIMS system pump went bye bye and we were getting the temp readings from the tube cut off from the rest of the mash so we raised the heat. Well, now we’re over again. We realize this quick, turn off the RIMS and discard it from equation…it had done enough damage. Our all over the place mash temps finally hit 154 for an hour then mash out at 168. It only took 3 hours to do a one and a half hour mash.

So now we drain the liquid through the false bottom and rinse the grains with hot water. After collecting almost 9 gallons of wort, we taste the grains. “Our efficiency is for shit!” exclaimed Steve. So while Aaron and I have a lot of admiring guests inside the store and abroad at the restaurant to attend to, Steve does a gravity reading and grabs bags of dried malt extract off the shelves to remedy our shit efficiency problem. We’re not sure how much he grabbed or what kind. The howling winds kept blowing things around and making our boil all weird. Through the turmoil and the rain we managed to finally get the boil over with, albeit with a little over 5 gallons of wort still left from a very vigorous 1 ½ hour boil.

So now, to the cooling of the wort. Uh oh, wait…our favorite methods (immersion chiller and counter flow chiller) won’t work because the water pressure from the nearest source is too weak to use, plus it’s at 80 degrees! Aaron finally comes up with a way to use the pump that’s still working and a cooler full of ice and water to utilize the immersion chiller (much to the dismay of Steve) to recirculate cold water through his make shift hose contraption and we cool the wort.

By now, it’s 11:30 and our wives are begging us to give up, pour this monstrosity out and go home. “NAY! Nay we say, because through all of this we have suffered, and the beer has suffered. We shall make this thing somehow tasty! We will not give up! We still have beer to drink, yeast to pitch and to get this thing to the brew house.” One more beer, then…we gave up. The beer was air locked and put away in the kitchen (to the tune of the kitchen folk the next day, armed with pitchforks and chef knives saying “what is that thing?”) with the yeast starter settling back down.

The next day, bleary eyed and distraught, we went back to the Market and found the discarded beer, desolate and dejected as the ambient light probably destroyed the hops and further mutated this beer into legendary status of failures. Undaunted yet hung over, we pitch the yeast and take it to the brew house.

There, this beer threw off its air lock several times, grew mold on its surface, broke the very carboy it was in…this was bad. We transfer to another car boy for fermentation, we see more mold growing on it. Sure enough, our entire fermentation chamber is rife with the stuff. We drag the whole thing out into the sun, beer put aside in the shade, and flush it out with bleach and a lot of scrubbing. Then an exorcism.

Eventually we kegged it. Then found out two months into conditioning that the keg didn’t hold any pressure, so it was leaching in oxygen, beer’s nemesis once fermentation is at its end.

So we switch kegs and pressurize it, then put it in a 40 degree cooler for a few months. Then, because we had storage issues, we put it in a cooler at the brew house at 68 degrees for a month or three…we lost count. Finally, we brought it back to the Market and put it away for a few weeks.

After getting brain transplants and remembering that it was there, due to our hectic schedules and such, we set out to putting more pressure to it and dispensing it. Oops. The inlet and outlet plugs were reversed, so Frankenstein spewed beer into the C02 hose it what may have been it’s final act of defiance. So, we clean up the mess, take apart the barbs and sanitize them them reconnect them to finally taste this beer.

Whoa. It’s not bad! Not anywhere near what was intended, but it turned out okay. It’s a cautionary tale of being too cautious. Everything that could be wrong with this beer happened, and yet all the things you hear will happen, didn’t happen. No infection, no spoilage, very little Sherry quality…just a good beer.

It reminded us that beer is a living thing. It wants to be tasty. It overcomes adversity. It loves those who make it. It transcends complications. This little (no way is it little, only Steve knows the original gravity, but it’s well above 10% abv) beer made us proud, even if it’s closer to a foreign imperial stout than a Wee Heavy, or so we’ve been told…kinda more of a “fits no known category” type beer.

Would I drink it everyday? No. Mostly because I took a sip from one on a beer class night and lost my vision for a brief period of time. Well, my blood pressure to blood sugar may have had a hand in that, power chugging coffee all day and not eating, but it was scary none the less.

Here’s the summation you’ve imperturbably waited for: even if your beer doesn’t turn out to be an award winning example of your favorite style, it’s still YOUR beer. Just rename it to something it more closely resembles! Keep making and drinking your own beer!

Ol Red Cease and Desist

Okay, so here’s my first review. Eerie Brewing Company’s Wee Heavy Ale. I’d make a legend for you as to what is what, but I will make the assumption that if you’re reading this, you can figure it out on your own.

Beer poured into a perfect .5 liter calf hyde cylindrical at the top then spiraling downward and outward into a triangle shaped knapsack glass that was found in a Bavarian ruin outside of Lower Uncton dated from 1487 and said to have once contained the innards of Weihenstephan’s first master brewer.

Actually poured into a Boston Beer’s Sam Adam’s Lager glass to piss people off. LAZER ETCHINGS, DULLARDS!

Head non existent, then big, then non existent, then big again and it goes on like that for minutes. Until I realize that I’m an acerebral slubberdegullion and have been swirling the bottle around like a moron for five minutes whilst pouring. Also probably because I scrubbed the interior of the glass with what I found on the internet to be the only cleansing chemical that could be agreed upon; gerbil piss obtained from the Himalayan cork forests.

Nope, used soap and water with a liberal (does that even mean what it used to mean?) dose of elbow grease. Head still went away fast, though.

Prepared myself by inhaling burning incense made from print outs of and the rather funky album covers from Prince. That and my usual 45 minutes of deep meditation focusing on why my nose is better than yours.

Nope, I just nose douched and waited for five minutes. What is nose douching? Netti pots.

I saw a video on youtube of guys from a place that sells home brew stuff that everybody uses then wonders why their beer sucks that the only way to properly enjoy the complex, deep, Inception like plot of a beer’s melody, you have to continually swirl the beer receptacle, also known as the glass, like a fine wine during the entire sniffing and tasting experience. So of course that’s what I did, and I spilled a lot of it on me and over me. You ever try to swirl a triangle?

The nose is malt malt and more malt. A little dark fruit and sweet but hidden booze. Another sniff and more booze is present.

Taste, dark malt, sweet base malt and grainy fresh malt as if it were bottled with some grain in it. Middle is meaty malt with little bits of the bittering hops shining through. Some dark fruit and the aforementioned booze.

Finish is a nice melange of all the grains mixed with the hops as they spiral down your tongue. Then the warmth of the 10% abv. I don’t want to sound weird or pretentious here, but I do get a slight smell and mouth feel of sun tan oil. I will attribute this to my superior skills as a taste interpreter, not because I was around a lot of people today with first beach sun burns, in March…here in Florida. Ah, hits the spot. Great session beer.:)

I then of course spit it all back into the bottle, used my bench capper to recap it and took it back to the store for a refund because I heard once that if it doesn’t have off flavored smokey phenolics in it, I don’t want it. The guy at ABC punched me. In the liver. Then cheerfully refunded my buck fifty and now I can have a sixer of Bud Light Platinum I don’t want my friends to know I desperately want to taste.

Okay, my first ever published beer review. Let me know if you like this format or if it just doesn’t do it for you. Thanks!