My First Brew – Ready to Taste

So I’m a little late in posting the results of my first brew. It sat for two weeks in the basement where it stayed at a fairly constant temperature of around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

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It had a rotten fruit yeasty smell – it was about as nasty an aroma as one can imagine juice sitting in the basement for two weeks might smell but with a lingering yeasty scent. In a word, it was off-putting. And not in some kind of delightful “I’ve made jug wine!” kind of way – it smelled closer to moldy tennis shoes than to wine.

But I persevered and stuck on the spigot and plastic tubing for the transfer.

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Transferring the liquid is necessary b/c there’s A LOT of frothy yeast in that jug and I don’t want to drink any of it. Rather than go through the mess of a cheesecloth and funnel, I’m going to siphon the liquid into a sanitized brewing bucket, leaving the clumps of yeast behind in the jug. Then I’m going to clean out the jug and siphon the liquid from the bucket back into the clean jug. This process serves two important functions: 1. Filter out as much yeast as possible from the juice and 2. Use the jug as a pretty and practical container for keeping the juice refrigerated and easy to pour.

The other side of the tube goes into the brew bucket for the transfer.

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Now the tube just needs a little bit of suction to promote the siphoning from the jug into the brew bucket. It was pretty tough to do this job with how gross the concoction smelled. I really didn’t want to end up with a mouthful of clumpy yeast juice.

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Don’t I look nervous? It’s a scary job.

Alas, the siphoning began! And I managed to avoid tasting the stuff.

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And then it was siphoned back into the jug.

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The second transfer is definitely important. Look at how much stuff was still left at the bottom of the bucket.

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And now the pretty jug of juice wine! I decided to let it sit in the fridge for a few days to help it carbonate just a little.

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When I first tried it, I was pleasantly surprised that it actually tasted like wine in spite of its initial off-putting aroma. But it tasted very dry and not so flavorful.  Like church wine….kind of.

So I let it sit for another week and a half in the fridge to experiment with the taste differences of bottle conditioning it for a bit longer. Mostly I just didn’t want to drink it again for a while.

Tonight, I decided to give it another try. There is no off-putting odor anymore. It’s slightly carbonated, which is nice. (Takes another sip) Still dry, though. Very dry. Like a slightly sweet, very dry rosè wine with teensy hints of blackberry. I think next time, I’ll just do straight up apple juice although something citrusy might be just perfect – like grapefruit or mango.

All in all, though, it was a fun experiment in easy, frugal home-brewing fun.

Cheers!

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The Way of the Bike – Earn a Bike programs and finding The One

In my quest to live as frugally as practical and in gathering tips from other blogs like Mr. Money Mustache, I’ve decided to drive less and bike more. The only problem has been that I don’t have a bike. I once had a bike but I got rid of it b/c it was just sitting around and in poor condition. Now that I’ve realized that I can ride the bus to work for free and the majority of my regular errands in the city are easily within a 3 mile radius, I’ve decided to plan a big change in my life and only use my car when absolutely necessary…like maybe 2-3 times per month tops.

In order to accomplish this goal, I’ve been in the market for a bike and a bike trailer so that I can haul groceries and beer.  Most used bikes I’ve liked have been sensible and modest but have a hefty price tag of $170 or more – which I’ve decided is out of my price range. The most I would pay for a good solid bike would be $110, but I’d prefer to keep it under $100 or FREE!

Luckily, Kansas City is a growing bike-friendly community with at least 5 bike shops nearby. Psst! There’s even a bike themed espresso bar near my house!

So I began my search for the perfect bike. Not long after, I heard about RevolveKC – an adorable bike shop not-for-profit in the heart of the city. What makes them a non-profit? Other than recycling old scrapper bikes and making them shine again, they also offer something amazing: you can earn a free bike. Yes – FREE! Well…there’s a $10 participant fee…but after that it’s FREE! They offer two ways to earn a bike: either volunteer in their shop for 10 hours OR take a free online bike safety tutorial and then pass an on-bike skills test. What an amazing thing for children and adults alike! What a great thing for the bike revolution! Essentially, this program offers free transportation! This could help the impoverished get to work; the unhealthy could become healthy; the environment could be saved! Maybe I’m building it up too much, but I’m in love with this idea of earning a bike. Why are there not more programs like this?

I was planning on participating in this program and even visited RevolveKC and fell even more in love with them. My only problem is that I think I’ll need a multiple speed bike for all my errand running and the bike program generally offers one speeds.

So I was scouring thrift stores and Craigslist ads when I came across this in a super cheap hole in the wall thrift store.

IMG_1129 These pups usually go for around $150 retail or $100 on Craigslist. But this girl was priced at $80 and since I only had $50 cash, I negotiated down to that.  Bike trailer: $50

Now I just needed a bike to hook it up to! I looked at dozens online and in local shops but the ones I like best were all out of my price range. After weeks of searching, it felt like I would never find The One.

And then late last night I found her! A gleaming green and black classic Schwinn Varsity road bike listed on Craigslist for $70. What a beauty! I quickly sent the seller an email that I was interested and could pick up first thing in the morning and he said great! I told The Beard that I had found The One and we’d be picking her up in the morning. He was happy for me and then called me down the basement where he showed me my early birthday present that he got for free from a friend in exchange for helping fix her computer.

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Two old bikes – one for me and one for The Beard! They need some work, for certain, but I’m excited to learn about bike repair. The blue road bike is a vintage Azuki – pretty cool.

2 vintage bikes: FREE

Excited though I was at the birthday surprise, I still longed for The One. After giving it a good night’s sleep, I decided to still go after her. I know – I’m not always sensible.

In the blink of an eye, I’ve gone from not having a single bike to having three! Behold – The One!

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The One: $70

All in all, $120 is not a bad investment for three bikes and a bike trailer so that I can significantly cut down (or perhaps altogether ELIMINATE…) my car use. If all goes according to plan – and why shouldn’t it? – I will have effectively paid $120 to save thousands in fuel costs and car maintenance/repairs, the planet, and my health. Not a bad investment if you have ask me.