The Poet and the Painter casting shadows on the water

Beer stuff!

I wanted to make Jaime Paglia an oatmeal stout, because that’s his favorite. When I went to the shop to get supplies, though, Greg (who owns it) told me that you really have to do a partial mash or all-grain to get it just right. I’m not quite ready for that, yet, so I went with my backup plan, and made a Southern English Brown Ale (this is a brown ale style that’s smoother and sweeter than the northern style, and not as hoppy as the American style). It went off without a hitch, and it looked and smelled wonderful when I put it into the bucket to start fermenting. I’m really excited to see how it turns out.

I also have an IPA that’s dry-hopping with an ounce of Cascade in the carboy. I checked the gravity on Friday, and if I did the math right, it’s about 7%, which is exactly what I was going for … and holy balls does it smell and taste great. It’s got exactly the right amount of floral and citrus notes, with some hop bitterness behind it all, and it hasn’t even conditioned in bottles, yet! I’m seriously considering entering it into a competition, so I can get some good feedback on it and find out if it’s as good as I think it is. For those of you wondering, it’s called Critical Hit IPA.

Speaking of beer, the most frequently asked question at DragonCon and PAX was some variation of “How’s the beer you made with Ryan?” Oh, you mean … this beer?

Wil and Ryan made beer!

In a word: awesome. It exceeded our wildest expectations, especially considering that I think I made some mistakes in the brewing process. There was an amusing moment last week when I opened a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (the beer it’s based on) and after a few sips I thought, “It’s okay, but it’s no Wheaton’s Own Going To California!” Here’s the label that Joel Watson did for us. It was my idea to base it on the Sierra Nevada label and Ryan’s idea to include something from each of us (a d20 for me, an atom for him). I know we left Yeast off the ingredients list, but we decided that yeast could be awesome in this case.Wheaton's Own Goin' To California Pale Ale

For those of you scoring at home, Wheaton’s Own was suggested by Grant Imahara. We almost went with his revised name, Wheaton’s Pwn, but I can’t remember why we didn’t. It’s called Goin’ To California Pale Ale because we listened to Zeppelin IV while we brewed it, and it’s a California-style Pale Ale. It’s very low alcohol — I don’t think it’s even 5% — but it looks and tastes great, and that’s most important to me.

We did a 5 gallon batch, and split the bottles, so we each got around 22 for ourselves. As of this morning, I’m down to 8 bottles, so I’m rationing until the IPA is ready.

I’ve officially found a hobby that I love, and will do for the rest of my life. I’m excited to get a kegging system, learn to do all-grain, and start designing my own beers. I’ve even reached into the stars and plucked out a new dream: to own a brewpub someday. When I told Anne that, she said that she thought it would be awesome to do that, but I’d left something out.

“What’s that?” I said.

“You need to combine it with your dream of owning an 80s arcade. Think about that: it’s a brewpub where you make your own beer, serve a little food, and have the 80s arcade games you love for people to play.”

Does my wife know me, or what?


154 thoughts on “The Poet and the Painter casting shadows on the water”

  1. Dude, if you put down half-inch grid table linen a few nights a month I might move in permanently. Good beer, arcade games and space for my D20 RPGs — what’s better than that?
    As and unrelated aside, I LOVED “Ready Player One.” I missed the audiobook, because I’m a snob like that — but it was a really fun book to read. :) Now my friends and I are playing The Tomb of Horrors in Pathfinder and having a fantastic time, so thank you!

  2. I’m not a beer drinker, but I would absolutely give my patronage to a Brew Pub/Arcade. There’s a place here in Atlanta called Battle and Brew that is a bar/pub combined with computer and console gaming. They don’t have the added awesomeness of having their own label, though.

  3. If the brewing bug has bitten and you know you’ll stick with it, I highly recommend investing in a keg setup. Best money I ever spent on homebrewing. Someone already offered some good tips on converting a refrigerator, but I wanted to suggest that chest freezers can also work out great. But a chest freezer will require an external thermostat, and may be harder to find at a good price. I started out using picnic faucets, and would open the lid to pour a beer. Eventually added a collar on top (so that I would have a safe place to drill holes) and mounted real faucets through it. Some pics on my flickr:
    When you try doing a full mash, I suggest you try batch sparging. Less equipment, faster, more foolproof… probably less efficient, but I figure adding an extra pound of grain in order to save myself a lot of hassle is a good tradeoff. You can google and find some good guides, but briefly:
    In conventional fly sparging you try to maintain a slow, constant flow of water through the grain.
    In batch sparging you drain off all the wort quickly, then add fresh water, let it soak and settle for a few minutes, and drain again.

  4. I stared with partial-grain, actually, and after three batches, it’s really not that difficult at all – course I’m sure it helped that we started with someone who had done them for years!
    Whilst in Milwaukee over the past weekend visiting friends, we toured several micro-brews, and my favorite one was the Milwaukee Ale house ( ) – there, the owner participates in the tour and is always hanging around to talk to people.
    I got to speak to him one-on-one for about half an hour (over a few pints of their delicious beer), and after that, I’ve been itching to start All-Grain as quickly as possible!
    He said to get into All-Grain, Northern Brewer was a great place to start (something he wished he had 20 years ago), and, after viewing their products and some videos from the ‘net, I’m close to taking the plunge!
    Good Luck! Cheers!
    PS – As for your arcade style pub theme, your wife is brilliant! I’m envisioning Donkey Kong rolling kegs of beer in some way, shape, or form, there! 😀

  5. Crib-sheets sent. Due to fancy formatting, pastebin wasn’t an option, so for now I’ve flushed them into the email tubes. Kindly check your “mere-mortals” filter to ensure it didn’t get scraped off.

  6. If you open an 80 arcade/brew pub I would so take 2 weeks vacation and drive to California. What could be greater? Driving across the USA (trying to catch the places from Alton Brown’s Feasting on Asphalt), and ending the run in an 80’s arcade drinking beer created by one of the coolest geeks of our time and playing 80s style arcade games. If you set aside tables for role playing (drinking beer, eating pub food, and dodging acid pits!) And maybe we can catch a night when the owner has a reading? Two words, Frickin’ Awesome.

  7. There’s an iOS app called BJCP Styles that specifies the characteristics/criteria that beer competition judges use, I thought that you might find it handy. I believe I read that you have an iPad?

  8. If you do build this brewpub, it would be incredible if you could convince Patrick Stewart to make some wine with you to serve to your patrons that prefer the product of the vine. Seems to me he once played a character that had a little experience with wine, if I remember correctly.

  9. Wil your wife is a GENIOUS!!! You would make a killing on a “Barcade” and if my hubby and I ever had the opportunity we would TOTALLY buy your microbrew! Love the lable by the way. 😀

  10. A tavern for tabletop gaming would almost have to be called the “Dwarven Alehouse.”
    Though I suppose “Aeofel’s Ales” would work, because then the regulars could be “Aeofel’s Ale-o-philes.”

  11. That is a top notch idea! Beats my dream of opening a 24 hour coffee/pastry/comic shop.
    Also, can I say, SOOOO jealous of your beautiful oven? The future pastry chef in me wants to live in that kitchen!

  12. I don’t know why, but I feel like it would be either funny or strange to see a Wheaton’s Own girlbeer. You know, like a Raspberry-Orange-Chocolate Stout-Pils-Lager. (No, I don’t regularly drink beer, but I do know I mixed like five different types of beer there.)
    That being said, I wholeheartedly approve of an 80’s Barcade. Of course, would said barcade also involve John Hughes and Rob Reiner movie screenings and “Brat Pack Bar Specials” such as Ringwold Wednesdays and Sheidy Saturdays? If so, I hereby submit my application for bartender.

  13. The very first concert I ever attended was Jethro Tull’s ‘Thick as a Brick’ tour – with a fledgling new band called The Eagles opening on the strength of their new single, ‘Witchy Woman’. 1972. Holy crap, I’m old. On the other hand… I have memories of seeing Jethro Tull perform the entirety of ‘Think as a Brick’ — with props and costumes, no less…

  14. The brewcade idea sounds totally awesome, and I would go out of my way to visit it if I was ever in SoCal. Definitely, a place for geeks who drink beer.

  15. I’d definitely like to visit such a place, but any chance of having some 90s arcade games too (DnD Shadows over Mystara, etc)? I hope I will not get attacked by a hailstorm of dice for mentioning this game. :0

  16. You know, if you somehow manage to place it near Game Empire’s new location just down the street from PCC, you’d have a clientele right there. . . college kids and gamers. It’ll be like printing money.

  17. Did you know Game Empire moved to the old Pakk Man arcade building last week? It made me so happy to know that there was gaming back in that building, instead of a rug store.

  18. You should reach out to @StoneGreg about being involved in a collaboration brew… even though you’re just starting, it could be a very good thing for all involved…

  19. When people talk about making beer and whatnot, it always sounds SO good. Except the slightest hint of the taste (or even smell) of hops or alcohol, and I’m cringing away. Alas!

  20. I assume you would serve food at the BrewCade. I don’t know much about your area, but if there is a large college crowd, combine the BrewCade with a washateria. The college kids can play games, drink beer, and eat while doing their laundry.

  21. My hubby made quite a few interesting recipes before…his blueberry beer kicked butt, and it was purple, which is also fun. I know he made a lot of really good stouts, too. He’s a chef, so I could see if he can dig up some recipes he made if you want.

  22. I would make the long journey from Austin to LA to visit your brew pub and arcade, especially if you have Pole Position! I miss the feeling of my foot on the pedal that was always felt like it was at a weird angle.
    Have you visited Musee Mechanique in San Francisco? They have a huge collection of old arcade games (from the Victorian period up to modern day). Most of them are playable. It’s a great place to take your spare change and spend an afternoon. My husband and I went on our honeymoon and had a blast!
    We brewed a Pacific Saison (our second batch)about a month ago. We needed something that would ferment at a higher temp since we’re suffer through a long, hot drought here in Texas. It turned out amazing, not too hoppy, very light! Home brewing is definitely my new favorite hobby and I’ve got a waiting list of brews we want to try. Our next batch is going to be a pumpkin ale and then a chocolate mint stout for Christmas.

  23. My local homebrewing club pointed me to your blog. We’re going to be opening a Willy Wonka-esque brewery in Pasadena next year ( and there will absolutely be 80’s video games and movies going on the whole time. Please come visit us.

  24. Rachel Blackman… that is BRILLIANT! I was telling my brother about the idea and how Awesome it would be to have a gaming pub. He’s not a gamer perse but he did agree that the arcade games experience can always be improved with beer.
    Dwarven Alehouse might be limiting and make the Berzerkers and Elves feel unwelcome. And considering how much Kenders enjoy bugging the jeebus out of Dwarves I would think the dwarves would want to keep it on the down low anyway 😀

  25. Yup! Can’t wait to see what happens with the new venue. More floor space, better location, closer to food (though the folks at Lee’s Hoagie House will probably be sad to see the gamer crowd leave), college kids just a block or two down the street. . . and the added bonus that, after many years of languishing as a dance studio and furniture shop, the old building shall be host to nerds once more.

  26. In the meantime maybe some limited batch runs one could order or even some to auction at PAX and the like for charity? It’d be awesome to be able to show up at my D&D group and set a six pack Wheaton’s Own down on the table.

  27. Wil, not sure of what options are out of the city for you, but there’s a great arcade supply store on Vermont Blvd. just below Santa Monica and across from LA City College. (And I would love to know when you go so I could meet you and we could browse boxes at the same time. Grew up playing Gauntlet and the like.)

  28. Glad to hear your beer turned out so well. Looking forward to trying our latest batch pretty soon here, we got some free yeast fromt the frendly folks over at Seattle’s Freemont Brewery, and I can’t wait to find out how it turned out.
    We usually end up kegging our beer, and that has a lot going for it, a lot less muss and fuss, but it is a lot less portable, and you don’t get to make spiffy labels like you’ve got.

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