Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Something to cheer about

Alright, so I was a bit negative in that last post. Sorry. I'm OK, really.

And in fact I have some happy news to share. I won the best of show at the annual Japan home brewing competition, the Wan Cup 2, for my Belgian style beer called "Nenmatsu Tripel" (nenmatsu means "year end", which is when I brewed it; tripel is style of Belgian beer).

This is the second time in three years for me to take out the top prize (Yokozuna) and while I am chuffed of course, I am also a little bit embarrassed about it for the following reasons.
1) I didn't really set out to brew a "champion" beer. I just brewed it to style and simply didn't make any mistakes. It is a pretty easy style driven by yeast character. The yeast was the winner, really. I didn't even have a competition in mind when I brewed it. I only entered it in the comp because it was on hand.
2) I made the same kind of beer a couple of years ago and didn't enter it in any competitions. Frankly, it was considerably better than this one (for subtle reasons that don't bear going into here).
3) I was a bit lucky. My other two beers entered didn't even get places.
4) Some of my brew buddies are demonstrably stronger brewers than me. They brew more often and consistently turn out better beers than mine. Sorry John (runner up) and Chris (probably the best brewer of all of us).
5) My main motivation for entering competitions is simply to promote the home brewing hobby. Competitions give people some motivation and bring a bit of attention for the hobby (we had 40+ people at the award ceremony for just 24 entrants, a number of whom couldn't be there). I support the organizers as much as possible and help with judging. My reward is a successful comp. It was totally out of the blue and embarrassing for my beer to pick up best of show. But there it is. I'm not giving it back :-D

The smile of a Yokozuna (Grand Champion in sumo)

Me getting a splash of Stone Double Arrogant Bastard Ale (that magnum is worth almost US$100 -- all place getters got a snifter of the stuff)

A toast to the brewing gods

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Move along folks, nothing to see here

Yeah, quite literally I'm afraid. Unless you like looking at expanding waistlines.

The Achilles still fails to become pain free. Yet, I think it has improved. I mean, I am hardly aware of it through the day, walking around, going hard up stairs, little run for the bus, and so on. But if I squeeze the little bastard it still hurts and it still has a lump in it. I think the lump has shrunk a bit. Not much, but a bit.

It is summer here now. That means our local outdoor 50 m swimming pool is open for a whole, wait for it, TWO MONTHS!! Yeeeaahhhyy! (feel the sarcasm) Two whole bloody months, and the rest of the time it sits idle. And the greatest crime of all is that it opens each day not at 5 am, not at 6 am, not at 7 am, oh no, not even at 8 am, nor 9 ... but at 10, yes, T-E-N AY EM! So unless I start work at lunch time that does not create a situation very conducive to getting in a couple of km before starting my duties of blinking at a screen for hours on end.

The gym got a second hand spinning bike type thing with a programmable function for setting resistance and time in multiple brackets. I had some fun on that for a while but haven't been back for a couple of weeks. Just too hot and I've tried to swim instead, 2 km at a time.

None of this is any fucking substitute for running.