I had a lot of issues in the hills in Wisconsin and Michigan with not having a low enough gear to get my fat rear up the hill. I looked at compact cranks, but what I really wanted was a triple crankset. It's not "cool" but a triple is really versatile. I also wanted to go Campy on the Serotta, so I decided to try and build a set of bicycle wheels myself. Yesterday the White Industries T11 hubs came in and those will be mated to some H Plus Son rims next week.
Unfortunately I really wasn't blogging much while in Beijing this last year. Things were very busy with setting up the nano brewery and helping Li Lei over at True North Cabin. There was just a lot learned and I wish I would have posted more. But now - I am taking a lot of that experience and polishing it up back home in the U.S.
We developed a really fantastic cocktail menu at True North Cabin while learning some of the hard lessons that come in the F&B industry in China. One of the things we were developing was a whole series of infusions. I never got the time to explore bitters while I was there, and I decided it would be best to wait until coming back home anyway. Mainly because of the access and guaranteed quality of the ingredients necessary to really work with bitters. But now I am finally getting some things put together, taking some pictures and really ironing out the recipes.
I wanted to build a strong line of traditional bitters, but also try some things using China's own special version of firewater. Some of their baijou
is incredibly high proof. For example the product I am using to create the grapefruit bitters is Heng Shui Lao Bai Gan
and clocks in at 67% alcohol... or approximately 130 proof. The key is to find something that will play off the flavor, and I am trying a couple of things with this run. One is the coffee/hazelnut/orange bitters, and the other is this grapefruit bitters.
All of these will sit for two weeks or more, and then processed through a second phase to concentrate the flavor. One I have some results I will post both the English and Chinese versions of my recipes on the site.
Back home in Illinois and a lot has been going on. In the process of building a pair of wheels, so I did a quick spoke calculation.
So the guys got together and decided that a beer festival was in order, and it was done primarily to host the Chinese brewers who might not otherwise attend a festival in Beijing. It was an absolute blast to see everyone I knew from the brewing community. There were 23 homebrews submitted and the quality was actually quite good. The main thing was hanging out with friends who love to brew.
There were quite a few tents put up and this one was giving an explanation on how to brew.
And the homebrews were judged by some of the local brewmasters and awards were given out at the end of the day.
I got clipped for 200 RMB (about $36) on Friday night by a cab driver passing counterfeit bills. I feel like an idiot, but I wanted to post how it was done so someone else might be able to avoid the scam.
I was near the Houhai Lake area east entrance just south of Drum Tower and picked up a cab back to the CBD. When we got there, the cab fee was 25 rmb and I had exact change. The guy acted all pissed off and handed me the bills back with the corner torn off, and said basically they were bad and he wouldn't take them. So I gave him a 100 RMB note, he passed it back and said it was no good, I gave him a different one, he gave it back saying it was no good, and then I told him to kiss my ass and I took my money and left. But it wasn't my money, it was two counterfeit 100 RMB notes.
Moral of the story, don't let cab drivers pass your money back to you. They take it, they give change or be ready to go completely nuts on them. And keep your phone handy to take a picture of their cab ID on the dash or back seat.
Over the weekend Annie and I took a photography class from Mitchell Masilun in Beijing. The two day workshop was for beginning photographers and explained a lot of the basics and really helped us to shoot some interesting pictures. For anyone that is interested in spending a couple of days taking some nice pictures in Beijing and learning more about their SLR I would really recommend contacting him.
This is my first pass at the circuit that I want to use to control the hot water heater elements in the brewery. I am running this past the guys on the forum to get their input. If all goes well I will order up a waterproof control box from the U.S. and have it shipped in.
Yesterday I took a great ride up into the mountains north of Beijing. The total ride distance was 92 miles (149 km) and a total elevation gain of almost 4k feet (1200 meters). It was a group of about 20 riders hosted by the KHS bike shop and included a support vehicle that trailed us about 3/4 of the way. When I was invited I was told only that it was a 120 km (60 mile) ride and no mention was made of going up into the mountain area. We hit the first hills and at the first stop someone pointed to the top of the mountains and said, "we are going up there." ?!?! But the fact that there was a SAG van as well as a great group of fun riders gave me the confidence to go for it.
Here we are at that first stop. You can see that most of the group is on folding bikes, though there are a few road and mountain bikes in the mix. I had problems with my right knee ever since the last century ride, and I was pretty nervous about what would happen even with a normal 60 mile ride. But though there was some pain once in a while, for the most part I did not have any of the leg cramping or other problems that were present on the century ride. I carried extra Gatorade this time (4 bottles) and a full water bottle.
We had a nice lunch at some fish place. At the lunch the shop had organized games and everyone played. I won a nice pair of titanium skewers and it was totally a lot of fun. After the 1 hour lunch stop we regrouped for a second climb. The first climb had been very, very difficult and ended with a downhill run that saw me shatter more former speed record I had set on the Serotta. I topped out at 49 mph (79 kmh) in the middle of a really tricky switchback route. The disk brakes were smoking at the bottom.
The second climb was gradual, but the last 2 miles were very steep and I finally failed near the top and had to push the last 200 yards. At the top we grabbed a snack, regrouped and took a photo before the final descent.
At the bottom of the descent we rode for a while longer and then the group split. About 5 of us went for home on the east side of Beijing, passing the Ming Tombs and a lake. Finally the last 3 miles I was by myself and it was here that my body started to break down. I noticed I was shaking when I stopped at stop lights, and I knew I had to go straight home. I really felt that I was at my total limit. It was a really wonderful ride and I was probably the happiest I have been since moving to China.
I fired up both of my brewery control systems to make sure they worked. I also did some minor process programming to get a feel for how the system will function once I am ready to brew. I have really struggled with my decision to use these versus a more standard PID control. I love the functionality, and I wanted the capability to do more complex tasks so the BCS seemed like a great choice. But being here in China I am having tremendous difficulty in even getting the most basic parts (bolts for example) and a pre-assembled panel from somewhere is really starting to look good. But I know if I can just get this to work that in the long run this will be something that I am glad I did. I have two of these controllers, one to run my brewing process, and the other to control my jacketed fermenters. The controllers and probes all came from Brewer's Hardware in the U.S.
I placed my valves and heating elements in the HLT/Boil kettle to make sure everything would fit. I am in the process of trying to complete the control system, but I am running into a lot of problems. China does not really understand GFCI or why you would want to waterproof an electrical box. A lot of simple things that I thought I would just buy here I am now considering shipping from the U.S.
Safety is a very real concern. Water and electricity do not mix, and on top of that the safety of some of the availble components here is doubtful anyway.
I am having second thoughts about my design and I plan on getting some input from the guys over at The Electric Brewery.