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Booze Brewing, updated

I didn't have the heart to pour it down the drain, so I let it sit for a little while. It's mellowed out quite a bit, and is totally drinkable, if not pleasant.

I also recently bottled the rhubarb wine, and it's cloyingly sweet. I'm going to let it sit for a while longer. I will try to find a way to salvage it somehow. Mix it with seltzer or as a cocktail ingredient, like a flavored simple syrup? I'll give it a try.

Media, social and otherwise

Over the last 2-3 years I've gradually pruned my media consumption. I don't have accounts with f*ceb**k, inst*, sn*pch*t, or t*kt*k. I have a tw*tt*r account on which I follow nobody and rarely comment, and delete comments within 24 hours or so; I have a r*ddit account that's subscribed to a few programming / CLI and podcast pages, so that when I open it up, I run out of content within 2-3 minutes. I don't install social media apps on my phone, just look at them on my computer's browser.

Perhaps at this point you, dear reader, might be bracing for a lecture about how much better I am than you for doing this. Honestly, it's because I'm a compulsive media addict and organizing my digital life this way helps keep my mood out of the negative side of things. Keeping my feeds so incredibly limited means that social media is boring: I open up r*dd*t, and there's the same 25 links, which I've seen already. Close the window. Open tw*tt*r: the feed is entirely empty. Boring. Close the window. Go do something else.

I have an iphone 6+ that I bought when it came out. It's still running an old version of ios because I didn't want to update it. Gradually more and more websites fail to work on it, and that's okay. My long term plan is to never update it, and when it becomes entirely unusable, I'll just put it in a box and never pick it up again. Smartphones, especially as related to the internet and social media, do not spark joy.

What about legacy media? I do own a TV, but it's just hooked up to my ps4, which I use to play one video game with my buddies on Friday nights. I don't have rabbit ears nor cable TV. It's all so tiresome. TV adverts are tiresome in the extreme and I don't want some ad exec being able to use the latest in psychological manipulative techniques on me in order to convince me to give them money. Nah, no thanks. I especially don't want to pay someone else for the privilege to do so.

In the end, it's just all so tiresome and I don't want it anymore.

Chokecherry Wine, bottled.

About 6 weeks ago, I picked around 10# of chokecherries and needed something to do with them. I cleaned processed them into juice, adding water, sugar and yeast, along with a few other necessaries required to turn juice into wine. Every few weeks I racked must into a new container in order to try to eliminate some of the sludge that develops at the bottom of the bucket and finally, last night, I bottled it. I had a glass and I must say, it is not good.

It's too watery; the ABV is too high, the chokecherry doesn't come through nearly enough, and I swear, I developed a hangover headache as I was drinking it. I probably won't drink the rest of it.

I have learned that I really ought to have a better plan and not jump directly into something that I haven't done in a few years. Still worth it for the experience, though.

C'est la vie!

Marcus and Me

Lately I've been working my way through Marcus Aurelius' Meditations and it's been a beneficial project thus far. So far I've made it through book 1, and most of book 2, and thought I'd share a little of what I've gleaned.

Book one is Marcus going through a list of positive influences on his life, for which he is grateful. The one thing that's stood out to me thus far is his emphasis on personal virtues: modesty, moderation, graciousness, neither doing nor intending evil on anyone, remaining steadfast regardless of circumstance. That happiness and unhappiness comes from inside.

I like this book and Marcus' philosophy.

Kombucha: Tartly Delicious

In continuing in my series on fermenting various fluids and then drinking them, I've started brewing kombucha. It has a reputation of being tart, delicious and really damned gross to look at, and it's guilty of all three.

What's a scoby? Hippies will condescend to you that it's a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. While this is true, it's primarily a disgusting thick white mat of scum complete with little brown threads hanging from it, floating at the top of your brew. You actually drink that? Well, you might not after seeing how it's made, but I sure as hell do.

It's supposed to be pretty good for you (Along with other fermented foods), but I'm not a doctor: I drink it because it tastes great. It makes a great base for all sorts of drinks: bottle it with some fruit to modify the flavor; add some chia seeds for a weirdly thick, slimy/seedy drink; add vodka or a sweet liquor to to form a fantastic base for a fruity cocktail. Use your imagination! It's a wonderful concoction!

Once you decided to start brewing your own, it's pretty easy to get started. First, you've got to procure a scoby. I've read that you can cultivate a scoby by buying commercially produced kombucha or purchase one on the internet, but I just bought mine from craigslist ($10, thanks random dude!)

Next, you've got to make sure that you have a brewing vessel. Generally, this is a glass container that you put the 'buch into. Most starter kits I've looked at are usually a wide-mouthed 1 gallon jar, which frankly, isn't a great idea. It's okay if you have literally nothing else, but there are far better options, especially if you drink it a lot. I went with a 3 gallon glass beverage dispenser, with a spigot at the bottom. This means that I'm able to fill up a tumbler, swing-top bottle, pitcher, etc, without any mess of trying to pour out of a wide-mouthed gallon jar.

Okay, you've got your scoby and your brewing vessel: what next? Simple: brew enough sweet tea to fill your vessel. I went with around 1 cup of sugar per 3 quarts of water, with generally 3-5 tea bags per 3 quarts. Let the tea cool enough that it's lukewarm, then pour the tea into your brewing vessel, then add the scoby. While this is a fermented drink, we don't want the vessel to be airtight or behind an airlock, otherwise it'll become strongly alcoholic, and it'll kill your scoby. So: cover your brewing vessel with a tightly woven cloth, that'll let air in and out, but will keep out everything else. For some reason, I've noticed that fruit flies love the smell of the stuff and are desperate to lay eggs in it. I generally use a couple layers of folded paper towels, tightly tied around the rim of the glass, are sufficient to keep out the creepy-crawlies.

Now that you've mixed up your 'buch, what next? How long to wait? Well, friend, that depends on your preferences. Some like their brew to be stronger, some weaker. I suggest to wait around a week or so, and then start tasting it up until you like it, bottle around half of it, then add more sweet tea. I've found that the older the brew is, the faster it'll be able to ferment the sugar and turn the tea into kombucha. Be careful not to let it sit for too long, else you'll end up with vinegar! It's still perfectly fine to drink, but it's rather harsh and not many will enjoy it.

Happy Brewing!