Brewing through Hurricane Ike

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jpgilman

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... well not exactly, but close.

I live in Pearland, just south of Houston. Being wise, on Thursday I stayed home to prepare for the storm. Being very wise, I decided I'd also do an AG version of Jamil's dark mild at the same time. Everything went great and I got the beer put to bed in my Ice Cube Fermentation Cooler. Power didn't go out until Friday around 9pm and I was able to restock my cooler's ice bottle and put remote thermometers into the freezer and fridge. Saturday morning I got up, and after checking the beer was okay at 68 degrees, I inspected the damage to the house, which includes roof damage, ceiling and carpet damage via leaking, a blown down fence and the roof to a porch covering torn off.

Late Saturday afternoon the SWMBO really wanted to dump the freezer contents into the Ice Cube. I pointed out that the freezer temp was still below freezing and obviously the prudent thing to do was to not muck with things and just keep the freezer door closed. Most importantly the mild ale was still in highish Kreuzen and wouldn't benefit from 83 degree fermentation temp. As time progressed the SWMBO got more and more convinced that we should move the freezer stuff into the cooler. At this point, however, there was no ice to be found and I was able to convince her that this would be the height of folly. By Sunday the freezer temp had risen over freezing and visible fermentation had stopped so I agreed to move things. By then some chicken, pork and sausage had defrosted enough that later that evening I pulled the charcoal weber around to the front of the house and cooked an impromptu Paella in my largest Paella pan (24") for some friends and a couple of neighbors.

The cool thing is that this gave everyone the idea of doing a joint grilling. So Monday evening a number of us wheeled our grills to one neighbor's driveway and we grilled everything we had in the freezer. One of the neighbors had caught a bunch of Amber Jack and Red Snapper so we grilled that along with chicken, steak, sausage, pork, burgers and even tamales. By the way, tamales grilled over charcoal are absolutely outstanding. One of the neighbors handed a package of nearly frozen tamales to me. I started out with them in aluminum foil, but they were taking too long to heat up. Remembering that I sometimes grill corn directly in the husk I just put them directly over the coals. I will do this again.

We ended up with eight families who had never really spent time together just hanging out, eating until we were sick and drinking beer. A nice time was had by all.

In the end the SWMBO was happy. Because of my carboys and brewing buckets we had lots of fresh water for drinking. The 2 and 3 liter bottles of frozen water I keep in the freezer, that she has sometimes complained about, came in very handy in keeping the freezer cold. What she really loved was the star-san. Because our running water was a little questionable, I mixed some star-san with water in a big bowl, sat it by the sink and we were able to give everything we washed a sanitizing rinse.

Power is back on now and the mild ale looks ready to keg. Life is grand.

John
--
Primary - Jamil's dark mild ale varient
Secondary - EdWort's Haus Pale
Keg - Austin Homebrew Rogue Dead Guy Clone
 

McKBrew

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Glad things worked out for you. Kind of cool how a bad situation can get people together. Best part is now you can justify all sorts of brew gear as "emergency" supplies. :D
 

EdWort

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Nothing like being prepared!! Good job. Starsan rocks!

Do you have power back yet?
 
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jpgilman

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sounds like you really made the best out of a bad situation
For us it really wasn't bad, because we didn't have to worry about storm surge. In our neighborhood the wind was very loud, but was never terrifying. It never felt like the house was going to come apart. My biggest concern was the possibility of a tornado. That's what kept me awake most of the night.

Many others suffered a lot. We were very fortunate and are grateful.
 
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jpgilman

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Nothing like being prepared!! Good job. Starsan rocks!

Do you have power back yet?
Yep, power came on Monday night at about 8pm. It's funny because just before it came on I said I wouldn't mind being without power for another 24 hours. As it is the weather is, for Houston, gorgeous. There's a very nice breeze, 77f and low humidity.
 

culaslucas

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Glad everything worked out.

Thanks for the link on the fermentation chiller - what a perfect solution to some of the problems I'm having with my ferm temps!
 
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jpgilman

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Thanks for the link on the fermentation chiller - what a perfect solution to some of the problems I'm having with my ferm temps!
Sure and as I pointed out in another thread I use the same cooler as a mash tun, pre-chiller for my double coil immersion chiller and fermentation cooler. It works as long as you don't brew too frequently. As it is, I generally skip using a secondary and brew roughly about every other week. It's worked fine for 4 batches.

Someday, I'll probably even try fermenting a batch directly in the cooler and use sanitized ice bottles dropped in to cool the temp. But that will just be for kicks and I won't have high expectations that I won't get an infected batch.

John
 
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