Noah’s Birth Story


Noah Robert Reilly
Six Pounds, Eight Ounces
Twenty Inches Long

Since Memorial Day, Sofia had been having contractions off and on.  Some days we would be wondering if this was it.  Other times, we would just carry on as normal.  Such was the case when Sofia woke me up at two in morning on Monday, June first.  The contractions felt new–lower.  We stayed awake for an hour, talking and tracking the contractions.  It seemed like this time was different, but we had thought that several times over the past week.

After an hour, things somewhat subsided and we went back to bed.  My alarm went off at 5:45 AM like it does every workday.  With no new information, I started getting ready for leave.  We are in a strange situation with leave.  Federal Workers were recently given twelve weeks of parental leave per birth.  But that only applies to births after October First.  So I’ve been doing my best to conserve my leave.  I ate breakfast with Henry, checked in with Sofia, and got in the car to start my commute.

About seven minutes into my commute, Sofia calls me.  She says something along the lines of, “I don’t think I just peed myself…”  I called work to let them know, turned around, and started my paternity leave.  When I got home, we called my parents.  They are the most isolated people we know, so they were our obvious choice when it came to watching Henry during the birth.  The only problem is that they live three hours away.  We told them it was likely time and they started their drive down.

We took our time packing up.  Sofia, Henry and I went and got some curbside coffee.  We arrived at our OB’s office the minute they opened up.  We wanted to verify that her water had actually broken before heading to the hospital.  Due to COVID restrictions, Henry is not allowed in, so we hung out at the park across the street and watched people play basketball.  He loved it.  He even tried a (very) small amount of my latte.

The OB verified the water had broken.  So we went straight to the Hospital.  I dropped Sofia off at 10:00 AM on Monday, June First.  She started check in procedures as I went back home with Henry.  We made and ate lunch.  He tired himself out a bit.  Then I put him down for a nap.  My parents arrived a few minutes later–and I was off to the hospital.

I arrived at the hospital at noon.  Sofia had been there for two hours at that point.  They had started her on antibiotics since she was positive for Group B Strep.  Contractions had started up naturally.  Unfortunately, they weren’t doing much of anything.  SHe was still at 2 centimeters after several hours.  So we started up on the lowest dose of pitocin possible.  That was when the fun started.

They turned the pitocin on at 1:50.  Over the next 90 minutes, Sofia had 34 contractions.  They were averaging just under three minutes apart and lasting 70 seconds.  And with the pitocin, they were getting very strong.  That ended being enough for Sofia to call it quits.  She finally asked for the epidural.  Within minutes, the pain subsided, but the contractions remained.  Epidurals really are quite magical.

After a couple hours of (mostly) painless laboring, we got some dinner from the hospital.  The OB showed up.  He did his check and told us he would be heading home for dinner.  He would be on call as things progressed until we got further along.  That was my cue to head home.  Henry is mostly okay with my parents.  But he is still a toddler who likes his routine.

We did bath time then bedtime.  I updated my parents on everything and let them know they would likely be alone tomorrow.  Then I headed back.  I arrived back at the hospital at 7:00.  By then, they had shut off the pitocin because baby’s heart rate wasn’t fluctuating very much.  We spent a couple hours trying to wake him up with sugary drinks, peanut butter, and new positions.  

We eventually settled in to get some sleep.  I probably got 9 minutes of sleep scattered across those hours.  However, once, midnight hit, I was unable to even try sleeping anymore.  Baby’s heart rate started going down with each contraction…somewhat significantly.  It scared me a lot.  The reality is that, if it got bad enough, they would just wheel her in for an emergency C-Section.  Something we were trying desperately to avoid.

But the OB and the RN kept a close eye and found a good balance between with the heart rate and progressing the labor.  By the time two o’clock hit, Sofia was at 8 centimeters and contractions were two and a half minutes apart.  By three o’clock, she was 9 centimeters and contractions were two minutes apart.  They told her to rest and let them know when she started feeling a lot of pressure.

At 3:30, she called the nurse to let her know that the pressure was getting intense.  The nurse came in, did a check during a contraction.  She had Sofia push once, then immediately told her to stop.  She left the room and came back with our OB just a minute or two later.  He gave her the low-down on how to push.  We waited until the next contraction and she pushed four times.  By the time the contraction ended, I saw hair.  

It was enough that they spent the next three minutes filling the room with supplies and people.  By the time the next round of pushing started, the OB, the RN, a student, and two pediatricians were in the room.  Again Sofia pushed four times.  By the time she stopped, I could see the top of the head.  

On the third round of pushing, she pushed three times.  On the first one, I saw the top of the head.  On the second one, the head came out.  On the third one, Noah Robert Reilly was born.  The OB placed him directly on Sofia’s chest and one of the pediatricians got to work on cleaning him up.  He was born at 3:48 AM on June 2, 2020 in Room 3110 of  Memorial North Hospital in Colorado Springs, CO.

The rest has kind of flown by.  The OB had me cut the cord.  The placenta didn’t want to come out so the OB had to scrape a lot of it out.  Medication was administered to help with the increased chance of infection.  He got his first vaccine.   At 6:00AM, they moved us to a recovery room (I’m sure delivery rooms are in high demand).  Sofia called her parents.  I let everyone know.  We ordered breakfast burritos. 

It is now 8:30 AM.  This little guy is sleeping in front of me.  He’s almost five hours old now.  Sofia has finally fallen asleep.  Between the one hour of sleep I got last night and six I got the night before, I am running on fumes and adrenaline.  But he is here–and we got the vaginal birth we wanted–making future vaginal births much much safer.  Henry is still with my parents–largely oblivious to what is happening.  He’ll be in for a shock tomorrow.NO

I think Noah’s eyes are blue.

2019 With The Reillys



I’ve never done a formal newsletter.  However, after reading the one my parents mailed to us, I like the idea.I won’t be mailing this out to everybody.  Posting it discreetly on this blog seems more than sufficient for those who want to find it. So here it goes:

After three years of marriage, Sofia and I became parents just four days before 2019 began.  On December 27th, 2018, Sofia and I walked into our scheduled ultrasound at Children’s Hospital of Colorado.  The ultrasound showed that Henry was in distress. Less than two hours later, Henry Thomas Reilly joined us. Within the first hour of his life, his intestines were placed back in his body.  The three of us spent the next three weeks at Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.

Henry was discharged on Sofia’s birthday, January 17th, 2019.  We’ve spent the months since watching him grow. From five and a half pounds to twenty.  He has taken to solid foods–sweet potatoes being his favorite by far. We are convinced that he can walk, but prefers to have us hold his hand as he takes his steps.  Seeing him now, you would never know how chaotic his entry into this world was.

Richard had to return to work, unwillingly, at the Greeley Social Security Administration after two weeks of parental leave.  In August, the opportunity to take a hardship position in Williston, North Dakota arose. All three of us lived out of a one bedroom hotel room for six weeks as Richard reported to work in the one-person office.  But it paid off. Before even returning to work in Greeley, he was offered and accepted a promotion to supervisor at the Colorado Springs Social Security Administration.  

Sofia has grown into her role as a stay at home mother quite well.  She spent considerable time making our Greeley home feel like our own after buying it from my parents in 2018.  She worked hard to help Henry grow in the toddler he is about to become–including the stay in the NICU, a bout of RSV, an ongoing milk allergy, and the complexities of taking care of a baby in one room hotel room for six weeks.  She has been resilient throughout and is the best mother Henry could ask for. She even started working at a coffee shop some evenings and weekends.

The three of us are currently settling into our new home in Colorado Springs.  We hosted Thanksgiving for our friends and family, though most of them are now two hours north.  We drove down to Imperial, California for Christmas so that Henry can meet his abuelo and tio for the first time.  We will also be celebrating Henry’s first birthday before heading back.

We’re Going on an Adventure


I remember having a conversation with my father a couple years ago.  I told him that I felt lucky. It was hard not to. As a millennial, our expectations for job security, pensions, and well paying jobs are lower than that of our parents.  Yet here I was with a federal job…that I loved. It was more than I ever anticipated.  

My father latched on to the use of the word “lucky.”  He talked instead about the concept of sacrifice. Giving up todays’ comforts for future security.  As he watched me over the years, that is what he saw me doing. I went to Peace Corps Morocco and gave up all comforts.  I went to New York to start a career despite not knowing anyone there (aside from the beautiful woman who joined me).

The thing is, I always perceived these “sacrifices” as adventures.  I’ve always been curious about the world–and I want to see how different places work and and how the people there live.  The sacrifices were obvious, but always overshadowed by the opportunity to explore somewhere new. That’s what brought my family to North Dakota for 40 days and 40 nights.  Adventure. And the sacrifices that come with it.

So I guess it’s time to announce our new adventure.  I have accepted a promotion. On November 8th, Sofia, Henry, and I will be moving into our new house in Colorado Springs.  It will be my 12th move in the last eight years:

November 2011: Greeley, CO to Fort Collins, CO
September 2012: Fort Collins, CO to Greeley, CO
January 2013: Greeley, CO to Bouderham, Morocco
April 2013: Bouderham, Morocco to Bhalil, Morocco
February 2014: Bhalil, Morocco to Greeley, CO
May 2014: Greeley, CO to Wappingers Falls, NY
April 2015: Wappingers Falls, NY to Beacon, NY
March 2016: Beacon, NY to Beacon, NY (across town)
November 2016: Beacon, NY to Greeley, CO
January 2017: Greeley, CO to Fort Collins, CO
November 2017: Fort Collins, CO to Greeley, CO
November 2019: Greeley, CO to Colorado Springs, CO

I can feel the familiar mixture of excitement and anticipation.  When I moved from New York to Colorado, I was doing the exact same job.  Now, for the first time in a long time, I will be in a new place and starting a new job.  Half of me wants to just get started. The other half of me looks around at all that needs to be packed up and thinks that four weeks isn’t enough time.

But the reality is, we are going on a new adventure.  If Peace Corps taught me anything, it is that adventures are endlessly more worthwhile when you can share them with someone that you love.  That person has now been my wife for more than four years–and she shares my sense of adventure. I hope we can instill a reasonable level of adventure in our son as well.  

Time to start packing.

on Dragging my Family to the Middle of Nowhere, USA


My wife, my son, and I departed our house in Colorado on August 6th.  It’s been seven weeks since then…and we still have a couple days until we are home.  I miss my dogs. I miss my family. I miss my bed. I miss my kitchen. I miss the standard routine.  But I also know that going on adventures and taking risks is part of what makes me feel strong as a person.  It’s part of what keeps my marriage strong. And I hope like Hell that it encourages a sense of adventure in my son.  I may miss my old life, but I am so happy that we came.  

Our adventure started off with some fun.  We planned a two week vacation to the Pacific Northwest.  Many of Sofia’s friends gather every year at some big AirBNB.  We hang out all weekend and catch up. This was our second time going.  We were first among everyone present to have a kid. So Henry got to be the center of attention.  Sofia and I got to relax and catch up with everybody. We may not have gotten enough sleep, but it was a great weekend.

We followed the trip up by heading up to Seattle for a few days.  We celebrated our four year anniversary. We hung out and continued to fall in love with a city we hope to end up in one day.  It’s always amazing to go. But it is hard as well–it always reminds us how much the culture of the Pacific Northwest agrees with us.  Don’t get me wrong–I have always considered Colorado to be adopted sibling to the Pacific Northwest. But to be around close friends as people get married and have kids sounds amazing.  It’s a hard thing to find as an adult.

After all this, we would normally head back home.  Instead, we packed the car back up and made our way to Williston, North Dakota.  If you’ve heard of it, it’s probably because you read that one article that went viral about how the oil boom got so out of control here that they were flying strippers in on weekends from Vegas.  Yeah. That city. That’s where I brought my young wife and 8-month old son.

For six weeks.

Was it the right decision?  I’ll probably never be able to answer that question.  Sofia and I have always tried to maintain an attitude that adventures are good for the mind.  Going out of your comfort zone and routine is good for the soul. On a personal level, that is why I said yes to this assignment.  The professional level was even more clear cut. I want to enter management. Showing that I am willing to take on a hardship position that no one else is willing to bodes well for my resume and future interviews.

We arrived in Williston with that philosophical mindset.  We were quickly hit by the reality. A one bedroom hotel room which made Henry’s naps a bit of an adventure.  A town that had so little to do that a real coffee shop was impossible to find. Waitresses who heard my wife say “milk allergy” and rolled their eyes.  And literally nothing to do for a hundred miles in every direction.

It was easy to see the difficulty in everything.  It took us time to find the good. We found a way to watch TV shows on the laptop while Henry slept.  We found a semi-decent coffee shop stowed away inside a bookstore. We found a couple restaurants that accommodate milk allergies and patronize them a little too often.  And weekend trips to far away places–like Regina (the first time any of us had been in Canada) or Sidney, MT (It was the only microbrewery for 100 miles).

It wasn’t easy by any sense.  But we survived. With the wanderlust/adventurelust out of our system, the comfort of home is calling.  We are ready to set up a playpen for Henry (who is now nine months?!?!). We get to once again be in a place with culture and things to do.  But, most importantly, we get to be in the comfort of our own home. I am looking forward to that more than anything.  

I know it won’t  be long before we are gripped again by the thought of adventure.  That is simply who we are–that is how we want to live. But, for now, the comfort of home is calling.

Fighting Alzheimer’s Disease


FutureTimeline is easily one of my favorite websites to follow.  This article really took me off guard. I have this image of America in the 2040s, with people in their 70s, 80s, 90s, and 100s going about their daily life with these stylish hats that are actually actively warding off (and reversing) Alzheimer’s Disease.  I get too excited every time I see development on the research front.  But, even if it is in the early stages, it is exciting to see something show signs of actively fighting the disease.  Most of the research I have seen focuses on stopping it–and even those are still in their infancy.

After watching my grandmother fight it for a decade and watching my mother take on the role of being a caretaker for a decade, I cannot help but be excited about incremental progress in this fight.  It is a terrible disease and I cannot wait until we can fight back.

Deleting Facebook

I’ve spent the last few years going back and forth on whether or not I should delete Facebook.  Not just delete the app from my phone. I’ve done that multiple times. I mean erase my profile entirely.  Remove all my pictures, posts, and everything associated with it. The idea started as a small whisper in my mind–something easily brushed away.  As the months and years have passed, the whisper grew and grew until it was shouting. Now I am finally listening.

I never wanted to join Facebook.  When it comes to social media, I was reluctant at best.  I started my social media footprint on Livejournal. I was friends with maybe ten people.  I wrote long entries that were angsty and honest. I was a teenager in the 2000s. Together with those ten people, we were a close group that talked often.  Then, as the Internet began to evolve, I watched as those close Livejournal friends slowly migrated to MySpace. I was one of the last ones. I hated that the focus of MySpace wasn’t the writing aspect.  Instead, it was about who your Top Friends were and what interests you listed. It felt so fake.  

But by then I was in high school.  A lot of my social life was already online.  MySpace had the added element of every one of my peers being present.  If you didn’t have one, you were invisible. So I got one. Reluctantly.  I promised I would keep up with my LiveJournal, but I didn’t. Social Media is taxing.  Keeping up with multiple platforms was too much. Plus, I eventually realized MySpace had a lot of cool things.  I could have music play for anyone visiting my page. I could customize the background and the buttons. I was able to make it my own personal page in a way I never had with LiveJournal.

I graduated high school in 2007.  By then I was already seeing MySpace decay.  Facebook had crashed into the scene and everybody was moving on over.  I hated it. I hadn’t even wanted to move over the MySpace. Facebook seemed even worse.  You couldn’t customize anything. It incentived shorter entries because they were more likely to get “likes.”  I was nostalgic for my close-knot LiveJournal community that would engage in open and honest discussions about life.  It felt like it was being replaced by a corporate monster that incentived the wrong behaviors. I held off for as long as I could.

I joined Facebook three weeks before Obama was elected president in 2008.  I remember hearing that people were posting a lot of political things on Facebook.  That, mixed with the loneliness of the post high school world, forced me into the realm of Facebook.  It was another version of go with the times or be ostracized. Being a kid who stayed in his hometown for college already made me feel ostracized.  I didn’t want that to get any worse.

Much like with my LiveJournal, my Myspace account fell into disuse.  I went looking for them not to long ago. I found them–with broken links and so many changes.  But they are still there like some historical part of the early internet. Now eleven years have passed.  Facebook still reigns. There are other Social Media websites. I’ve tried many. The thing is, I still miss what social media meant for me 15 years ago.  Keeping up to date with 5-20 of my closest people. Like, really keeping up with them. Knowing what they are going through. How they were really feeling.

That whisper has been in the back of my mind for years.  It has waxed and waned with time. I’ll get in a political fight with my brother-in-law and wonder why I have a Facebook at all.  Then I announce to the world that Sofia and I are expecting and the support reminds me why I keep it around. But then my unborn son was diagnosed with Gastroschisis.  That is when everything changed for me.

Much like my long LiveJournal entries from my teenage years, I still write to sort out what is going on in my head.  I often share what I write because I like my close friends and family to understand my thought process. So, when we found out we would be facing an uphill battle with our unborn son, I started writing.  And then I started posting. Not to Facebook. But to my modern equivalent of LiveJournal–this website.

The response I received was unlike anything I expected.  I was so used to “likes” and “congratulations” that I forgot  what it was like to have have an in-depth relationship with my close friends and family members.  I was able to keep people updated with what was going on while also being open about what Sofia and I were going through.  It gave me a connection to the people who couldn’t be present through that journey.  

By the time Henry was released from Children’s Hospital of Colorado in January of this year, I knew that my days on Facebook were limited.  It all felt so false. To top it off, the whole Cambridge Analytica, Russian Interference, and Facebook literally doing nothing about it were at the back of my mind.  The thing is, I was pretty busy with a new house and a newborn. I didn’t feel like I truly had the time to make the transition. So the idea kind of faded from my mind.

It’s not so much that any one thing has pushed me over the line.  The biggest development for me is that my son is becoming aware of screens.  He sees me when I am on my phone. I have become quite aware of my time on the phone and my desire to limit that time–especially in his presence.  I want to raise him in a world where technology is limited and positive. Not overwhelming and addictive. And to encourage that, I have to live it.

I talked with Sofia about this a few hours ago.  She asked if there was anything holding me back anymore.  I realized that I did not. I’ve pretty much made up my mind.  I want to write about my life in long-form. I expect only those closest to me to keep up with this website.  And I will have more time to try to keep up with those closest to me. Not through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.  But through direct communication or blogs.

I am downloading my Facebook information as I write this.  In the coming days, I will let those closest to me know that I will be deleting Facebook and that is the best place to stay updated.  Sofia will remain on Facebook, so pictures of Henry and our growing family won’t be gone entirely.

If you have any questions about the process of deleting Facebook, let me know.



Change in Pace

I’m sitting here in my brewery starting to work on Brew Five of my 100 Brew Challenge.  I know I haven’t done a good job of keeping up to date with my last two brews.  There are plenty of reasons for that.  Whether it’s work, a social life, taking care of my son, or engaging in other hobbies, it has stopped me from documenting my brewing here.

However, more importantly, I’ve slowly been trying to figure out what I am trying to do with this blog.  So far I’ve been writing it like a play by play explanation of my brewing activities.  And, to be perfectly honest, that’s not what I want this to be.  I’m not a serious brewer.  I brew because it is fun and I like what I make more than most the things I can buy.  That’s it.  So a technical journal is not what I need to do.

Instead, I’m going to make this a lot more simple.  Less pictures of the procedure, more of the result.  Less about the how, more about the why.  Less about the technical detail, more about beer.  How does that sound?

Brew Two: Springtime Gose

Brew: 13 April 2019
Secondary: 20 April 2019
Bottle: 27 April 2019
Refrigerate: 1 May 2019
Drink: 7 May 2019

On to Brew Number Two of the 100 Brew Challenge.  As I try to start integrating monthly brews into my life, I have created a goal above all others: Brew as many styles as possible.  With my last brew, I learned about the benefits of flavoring during secondary.  I also learned about how priming sugars relate directly to the structure of the head.  With this month’s brew I hope to learn a few new things as I make a Springtime Gose (while it snows outside–that’s Colorado for you).

With this brew, I am going to do something during the mash that I have only ever heard of.  I am going to add salt and coriander.  This will also be my beer with the lowest IBU–coming in at seven.  I know that hops is primary meant to keep beer from going bad.  So my hope is that this number will be high enough.  Since I am aiming for 45-50 bottles, I will likely have this brew around for a couple months, so I hope to find out.   Here is the recipe I will be following.

The Recipe
Brew Method: All Grain
Style Name: Cream Ale
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 5 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 6 gallons

ABV (standard): 6%
IBU (tinseth): 7
SRM (morey): 5.74

7 lb – White Wheat Malt
2 lb – Munich Malt
2 lb – Acidulated Malt
4 lb – Pilsner Malt

1 oz – German Tettnang (AA 2.0)

1 oz – Salt
1 oz -Freshly ground coriander

Wyeast – British Ale II Beer Yeast
Optimum Temp: 60 – 95 F
Fermentation Temp: 70 F


Before I started my second brew, I made a couple changes to my brewery.  As you can see above, the layout is a little different.  That is because we moved the fridge from the garage to the brewery.  This allows for me to keep all my ingredients (and beer) close on hand.  Since we don’t use this fridge for much other than beer and breast milk storage, there wasn’t much of a reason to keep it in the garage.  It’ll be nice to have everything I need right here.

The second big change was with the bottle situation.  Friends and family have been giving me their left over bottles for a couple years now.  When I moved into this brewery, it appeared that I had close to 400 bottles.  When I went to bottle Brew One: Vanilla Bean Cream Ale, I realized that the array of bottles would complicate things.  Some bottles don’t take normal caps.  Some bottles are way too big.  Some…had things growing inside of them.  Since we had so many, I decided to consolidate with the best.  We got rid of any that had any signs of not being properly cleaned.  We also got rid of the weirdly shaped ones.  In the end, I still have a little over 200.  And now I don’t risk having a beer spoiled by going into a bad bottle or not carbonated because the cap wouldn’t go on properly.


Anyway, I used four socks to start of the mash I did last time.  Except this time I actually have my thermometer (I found buried under hundreds of caps).  The socks are working beautifully.  Until a get a systems that does a lot of this automatically, these socks are going to be a part of my ritual.  The mash went off without any issues as I watched Mystery, Alaska.  Great movie.

With the boil, one of my primary goals for this brew was to end up with more volume.  So, at the end of the mash, I salvaged as much as I could by pouring hot water over the the soaked socks.  In the end, I was able to fill up the kettle barely to the top.  I believe this will allow me to get more than 500 ounces from this brew.  Hopefully more like 550.

As I got the boil up to temperature, I ground an ounce of coriander.  As I started the one hour timer, I put in the ounce of salt, coriander, and hops.  I put in a whilforic tab at about 30 minutes.  At then end of the hour, I flamed out the wort to about 200 degrees.  In the end, I was able to get a final wort of six gallons.

I tried to keep as much gunk out as possible as i moved everything over to the carboy.  With a starting wort of six gallons, my hope was to get a tad bit more than five gallons into the carboy.  Leaving behind nearly a gallon of wort and residue, I was able to get about 5.25 gallons into the carboy.  Leaving behind some beer likely means my number will be slightly off.  But the difference between an ABV of 5.7% and 6% is pretty much irrelevant to me.




Emergency transfer to a new carboy before the crack spreads.


Well that was terrifying.  The moment I heard the cracking sound I thought I had lost the wort.  The carboy is dead, but I was able to safely transfer the wort to a new carboy.  This is going to be a nice lessons in patience.  I went far too fast in trying to bring the temperature down.  I need to go in increments.  Not try to do 200 to 70 in just a few minutes.  By the time the new carboy was full, we were down to 115 degrees.  So I left the hose in a let it run for awhile.

After it cooled down to about 70 degrees, I put in the yeast.  This time I remembered to take out the liquid yeast several hours ahead of time and activate it so it would be ready at this time.  After some violent shaking, I was ready to set everything up for fermentation.  Since Colorado is bipolar–with periodic snow followed by days in the 80s–I decided that the cubby under the stairs will be a permanent location for fermenting.  It is almost always 70s degrees there.  Some day I will get a true temperature control device or fridge.  But this will work for the time being.


Since life is endlessly busy, I didn’t really check up much on the fermentation process of this brew.  This may have been my downfall.  Between work and my baby, I remember only checking on it once and wondering if I had missed a build of the heading fermentation period.  I fear, for whatever reason, the the fermentation process never took hold of the full brew.  I was, however, left with a good layer of dead yeast.  So I could be wrong.


A lot of my family has become interested in my brewing since I started the 100 Brew Challenge.  So I decided to try to make what I was doing more accessible.  For one, it’s hard to fully gauge how much a carboy actually hold.  So, for scale, I took a picture of my four month old next to the carboy right after moving the brew to secondary.


After secondary, I returned to work and life for another week and let the brew just sit.  It was worth it.  It doesn’t look like I got another picture, but I was able to take yet another small layer of yeast out.  This allowed for the final product to be quite clear.  I did this with Brew One as well.  I never used to do this secondary stage.  But it seems to be worth it.  The final product comes out incredibly clear and without “gunk.”  After a week in secondary, I bottled.  One of my goals after Brew One was to maximize the number of bottles I get out of each brew (Mainly because we plowed through Brew One since it was so good).

Brew One: 492 Ounces (41 12-ounce bottles)
Brew Two: 540 Ounces (45 12-ounce bottles)

That may not sound like much but that nearly a 10% increase in output.  Well worth the effort.


After about a week in the bottle, I placed one in the fridge overnight.  When I poured it the next day, the carbonation was near zero.  I feared that I may have made a possible second mistake–not mixing in the carbonation sugars enough.  When I tasted it, I was quite worried.  It simply wasn’t good.  I don’t normally drink Gose, so it hard to know exactly what the taste is supposed to be…but it certainly shouldn’t have been that.  In the end, I did what every book, website, and forum said–I left it.  Let the carbonation do it’s thing and come back to it.  So we went on vacation and just left it out.  I fear this could have been mistake number three.  While we were gone, Colorado had some pretty warm days.  By leaving the bottles in the brewery, I feel they may have experienced temperatures over 80 degrees.  Damn.

When we got back from vacation, I put a six pack in the fridge.  When I poured the first one, some of my fear waned.  It was carbonated.  No where near as well carbonated as Brew One.  But at least it wasn’t flat.  The taste was much better.  Not great.  Kind of good.  Since then, I’ve had several.  I’ve started adding a lime wedge to each one, which actually amplifies the taste a lot.  The thing I’m discovering is that there is a different outcome with each bottle.  That means there was some uneven distribution–almost certainly with the carbonation.


Shake it off.  Every brew will not be amazing.  Learn from your mistakes and keep plowing along.  This weekend, I am going straight into Brew Number three.

Goals for Brew Three: Avoid Mistakes of Brew Two
1. Keep an eye on the fermentation Process
2. Make sure the carbonation Sugars are mixed in properly.
3. Keep bottles in temperature controlled environment.

Brew One: Vanilla Cream Ale

Brew: 17 March 2019
Secondary: 22 March 2019
Bottle: 29 March 2019
Refrigerate: 13 April 2019
Drink: 20 April 2019

March 17th, 2019 marked my 30th birthday.  To celebrate, I started on the 100 Brew Challenge.  I am attempting to brew one hundred times before I turn forty.  The hope is to try out many different methods, styles, and generally get better at brewing.  For my first brew, I decided to take on something entirely new.  It was something I had been wanting to do for some time.  A Vanilla Cream Ale.

I use to house my recipes and look up other recipes.  I found a well reviewed vanilla cream ale on the site and made some alterations to make it more my style.  You will see that I am shooting for a higher ABV.  In my last brew, I fell below what I expected.  I am shooting high in case I make the same mistake.  Although, I think the mistake was temperature control on the fermentation since it was the middle of February.  Since I will be fermenting inside, I shouldn’t have to worry about that.

The Recipe
Brew Method: All Grain
Style Name: Cream Ale
Boil Time: 75 min
Batch Size: 4.5 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 6 gallons

ABV (standard): 7%
IBU (tinseth): 21.3
SRM (morey): 5.76

5 lb – American – Pale 2-Row (43.5%)
2 lb – American – White Wheat (17.4%)
2 lb – American – Pale 6-Row (17.4%)
0.5 lb – American – Caramel / Crystal 20L (4.3%)
0.5 lb – American – Carapils (Dextrine Malt) (4.3%)
0.75 lb – Flaked Barley (6.5%)
0.75 lb – Honey – (late addition) (6.5%)

0.5 oz – Cascade, Type: Pellet, AA: 6.2, Use: Boil for 60 min, IBU: 12.51
0.5 oz – Cascade, Type: Pellet, AA: 6.2, Use: Boil for 20 min, IBU: 7.58
0.5 oz – saaz, Type: Pellet, AA: 3, Use: Boil for 5 min, IBU: 1.21

1 – whirlfloc, Time: 15 min, Type: Fining, Use: Boil
2 oz – pure vanilla extract, Time: 0 min, Type: Flavor, Use: Boil
4 each – Vanilla beans – in 2oz Vodka, Time: 0 min, Type: Other, Use: Secondary
1 oz – pure vanilla extract, Time: 0 min, Type: Flavor, Use: Bottling

Wyeast – Kölsch 2565
Optimum Temp: 56 – 70 F
Fermentation Temp: 64 F


My brewing day started off with a few setbacks.  First, my hope to start in the morning was dashed.  I can’t complain.  I had a party at my house the night before and it didn’t break up until after midnight.  Mix that with waking up with my newborn son a couple times, and I didn’t get started until the early afternoon.  As I got started, I found that my kettle had a few grain burn spots on the bottom of it from February’s brew.  So I spent a good half hour scrapping those off.  Then, as I finally thought I was ready, I couldn’t find my thermometer.  But after searching for 15 minutes, I decided to stop caring.  So, this will be my first brew without knowing the exact temperature as I brew.


Luckily my brewery is in the same room as our water heater.  I’ve tested the temperature of the water as it comes directly out of the water heater.  160 degrees Fahrenheit.  Perfect for the mash.  So I took the water from there and kept the burner at a level that should maintain.  I tend to leave the grain in the mash for about an hour before getting started on the boil.  That seems to be more than enough time to get all the necessary sugars into the mash.  On a side note, these grain socks are amazing.  The last few brews that I have done I just made an oatmeal and strained it.  This is so much better.  So much better.


As I wait for my mash to finish up, I set up my private corner.  As my wife, her best friend, and my son are out shopping, I get to enjoy a show, a video game, a beer, and some chili.  I honestly don’t think I could ask for much of a better way to celebrate my birthday.


The finished mash had significantly less volume than I had hoped for.  No matter.  With the grain socks, it’s easy to recover more mash without sacrificing ABV or quality.  Using the hot water directly from the hot water heater, I took the grain socks in a separate container and soaked them with the extra water.  This brought me from about 4 gallons to about 5.5.  I like starting my boils at about 5.5 so that I can have about five gallons to actually ferment with.


Before (top) and after (bottom)

I did a 75 minute boil on this brew, as the recipe called for.  At the end of the boil, I added two ounces of pure vanilla extract–which is where most of the vanilla flavor will be coming from.  When I finished, I ended up being rather short on time before we were heading off for some Saint Patrick Day Drinking.  This ended up being a blessing.  Since I don’t have any cooling device, I had to improvise.  And I came up with a fantastic plan.  I placed the wort in the carboy.  I placed the carboy in a backup kettle.  Then I brought them outside and placed a hose in the kettle.  It’s March, so it poured cold water into the kettle.  It only held about a gallon of water with the carboy in it.  So I filled it with cold water, waiting for that water to heat up, put more cold water in, and repeat.  In the end, I got the temperature down within an hour.


Once I was at about seventy degrees, I pitched the wort.  This was my first time using liquid yeast.  I ended up failing to read the instructions before opening the package.  So…something to work on for next time.  Regardless, I pitched the wort and brought the carboy into the house.  One of my biggest goals with this brew (other than trying a new style) was to get some control on the fermentation temperature.  Luckily, we tend to keep our house in the upper 60s.  This brew calls for a fermentation temperature of 68-70 degrees.  Perfect.


When I checked on the carboy the next morning, the activity was beyond anything I had seen before.  The yeast was so active that several bubbles were coming out each second.  The was yeast flying around the wort in quick swirls.  I watched it for awhile, making sure I hadn’t added bacteria and create some terrible monster.  But, it looked pretty good.


The intense fermenting subsided after just a day.  I let the fermenting continue for four more days, until it mostly subsided.  Then, as the recipe called for, I moved the beer into a secondary container (luckily I now have four carboys).    This was a step I seem to have forgot about entirely the last time I brewed.  This is the best method I know of dealing with yeasty bottles.


In the secondary container, I added five full vanilla beans.  I had never seen full vanilla beans before.  They have a really intense vanilla smell to them.  I think they will add a good aroma as well as some extra vanilla taste.  I let this sit at the same temperature in the house for another week.  It should have only take a couple days but I work full time and have a newborn, so that is not really possible.


I left the secondary container alone for a week (again, longer than needed but work and baby make it hard to do work on the weekdays).  I decided not to bottle directly from the secondary container since there was a little bit of sediment gathered on the bottom.  I moved the beer to another carboy and added five ounces of priming sugar.  This beer may be the clearest beer I have every brewed.  It looks gorgeous.  After completing the mixture, I bottled.  I got 41 12-ounce bottles in all.  492 ounces.  A little less than four gallons of beer after rejecting a lot of yeast.  But worth forgoing a few beers for a better product.


The recipe calls for three weeks of bottle conditioning followed by one week in the fridge before consumption.  I ended up waiting two weeks before deciding to test one out.  After leaving one in the fridge for a day, i decided to try it out.  I poured it into a pint glass.  And…it has one of the best head’s I have ever made.  I am pretty sure this is due to using priming sugar.  I have often used different types of sugar–honey, grapefruit juice concentrated, etc.  They add a nice flavor but seem to destroy the head.  This is going to be something I will have to play around with.  Like with this brew, it seems better to add late flavors into the secondary fermentor rather than in the priming solution.


The beer itself is beautiful.  Pretty much what I expected since I used a clarifier, a secondary fermentor and moved it to a final carboy before bottling.  I was surprised by how smooth the beer was.  I don’t have the fullest vocabulary for test.  Instead, I will just quote my wife, “I think this is the best beer you’ve made.”  That sounds like a great start to the 100 Brew Challenge.


I will be putting the remaining brews in the fridge this weekend.  However, judging from the fact that my wife loves these, I may have to make this one again later this summer.  The next time I make this I want to make sure I use a thermometer.  I also want to add vanilla extract during the secondary fermentor.  I think that would make the taster even bolder.  I also want to see if I can get more than 500 ounces out of it without sacrificing flavor or clarity.  I am not sure how to accomplish that.  But I do believe it will be worth it if I can get another six pack or two out of it.

As for my second brew, I already have the ingredients in my brewery.  I will be making a Springtime Gose.  With this one, I am continuing the goal of trying styles of beer I have never tried before.  I will use a thermometer to make sure I am hitting the correct temperatures at the correct times.  I will be using the liquid yeast properly this time–after reading the instructions in full.  I also will start working on producing more than 500 ounces of beer.

Second Brew Day: Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Vaccinate. No Exemptions.

adorable baby baby feet beautiful

Photo by Pixabay on

According to the World Health Organization, between 93-95% of the population needs to be vaccinated against measles in order to reach herd immunity.  In Colorado, 88.7% of Kindergartners are vaccinated against measles.  How did this happen?  It could be the decades of misinformation built upon a factually false study.  It could be the echo chambers that social media creates.  In the end, it doesn’t matter how it happened.  It must be fixed.

The simple answer is to make vaccinations mandatory in order for a kid to enter school.  In theory, this is already the case in Colorado.  In practice, exemptions have allowed parents to skirt the law–creating the dangerous situation we have today.  Kyle Mullica, a representative in the Colorado legislature, is drafting a bill that will take away these exemptions.  Opposition by the minority anti-vaxxers will be fierce, but irrelevant.

Unlike many other debates in public discourse, there are not two sides to the this issue.    They can argue that vaccines cause autism.  They are wrong.  They can argue that vaccines are not safe.  They are wrong.  They can argue that forcing vaccines upon people is immoral.  In reality, you must only vaccinate your child if you choose to send them to public school.

The state government must do its part to keep our kids safe.  Current law does not do that.  We must eradicate all non-medical exemptions.  By doing nothing, we will only continue to see our vaccination rates drop and our outbreaks increase in magnitude.