Brew Day – Spiced Winter Ale – 10/28/18

It’s football sunday. My Eagles are playing across the pond (London), and the NFL Network has the exclusive rights to broadcast the game. Since I’m a cord cutter, and chose a streaming service (Hulu) that DOES NOT offer NFL Network, I’m resigned to watching the game via the app on my Samsung phone. I tried streaming to my TV using the Miracast app, but (and even though it worked), when I activated the NFL app, the screen went black and said, “ does not allow sharing with other screens.”


I’d like to know how they can even do this. Its like some type of wizardry. I really thought I beat the system for a second there.

I spent a portion of yesterday balancing my kegerator system. Getting the pressure and resistance just right really is a balancing act and takes patience. It comes down to knowing the desired pressure for your style of beer, and then going through the process of setting the pressure, drawing beer, resetting pressure, releasing pressure, drawing beer, and doing this until you get homeostasis in the system. I think I finally got it. My beer is pouring pretty well.

I also spent a portion of the AM prepping a batch of local apple cider for fermenting into hard cider (post coming soon). Within a couple hours, that bad boy was fermenting nicely.

Today’s beer recipe is a nod to the cold weather coming our way. A nice dark and heavy spiced beer is great for winter. I do enjoy stouts, but a nice spiced ale with some alcohol bite is perfect for cold nights in front of the fireplace. Since this one projects out in the 9%-10% range, I don’t want to do a 5 gallon batch and keg it, rather it’s perfect for a small 1.5 gallon batch and bottle. This recipe is kind of a clone/knock off of a guy’s recipe from my BYO magazine, but my grains are slightly different (I’m keeping his ratios though).

The Recipe: (note – see below about subbing Carafa 488 for Chocolate 350)

old winter ale

Not pictured in the recipe is the spice extract. This will be my first time making this type of spice extract. Basically, I’m steeping cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and ginger in 4 oz of Vodka for a week. Once primary fermentation is done, I’ll add the extract a teaspoon at a time to taste.

Brew notes (I’m not going to regurgitate all of the steps – just the ones that are important):

  • Made a yeast starter with my S-04
  • 90 minute mash
  • 90 minute boil
  • Hops @ 60 min
  • Add extract after primary is done

Target numbers:

  • Pre boil SG: 1.065
  • 1.5 gallons
  • OG – 1.087 , FG – 1.020

This will be bottled once it reaches its final gravity.

Bought ingredients at my local homebrew store (Bacchus & Barleycorn).

Brew day notes:

  • Date: 10/28/18
  • Stovetop BIAB setup (decided to get an actual brew bag for $10 and see how long it lasts)
  • Total time (including cleaning): 4 hours
  • Brew day beer of choice:
    • Homebrew – Chicory Dry Irish Stout
  • Brew day A/V stylings of choice:
  • Actual OG: 1.091
    • Exceeded expectations – NICE!
  • Final OG: 1.022
  • Final ABV: 9.2%
  • What went well: pretty much everything
  • What went bad: Had to change a grain due to B&B not having chocolate. Since the SRM on the chocolate was 350, I subbed in a dark grain to provide the color. Ended up with a carafa with an SRM of 488. Little darker than anticipated, but what can you do!
  • Fermentation notes:
    • 11/2 – good activity in fermenter
    • 11/10 – gravity at 1.024 (target was 1.020, so pretty good)
      • added 2 oz of spice extract to the batch
        • did a taste sampling at 1 tsp per 6 oz, and it was too strong, so I cut it in half – reserved remaining 2 oz of extract for future beer
      • sample tasted nice even before the spice extract
    • 11/17 – bottling with 1.09 oz cane sugar – hoping a bottle is semi-carbed for Thanksgiving! The sample tastes pretty darn good. The aroma is amazing.


Have you ever brewed this style beer before? Please let us know about your brewing experiences. If you enjoyed this post, please like and share. Thanks!


Homemade Hard Cider – 10/27/18

As a family trip last weekend, the Breakings drove out to Louisburg Cider Mill . The trip was two-fold…

  1. Get some pumpkins and get some pictures of Baby Breaking amongst said pumpkins
  2. Get some pumpkin spice donuts

I decided to make it an even better trip by getting some jugs of cider and resolving to turn one of them into booze.

I’ve never made homemade hard cider before. I’ve consumed commercial cider and enjoyed it. I’m a pretty decent homebrewer and understand the mechanics/nuances of making a fermented beverage. So, I did some Googling on home hard cider making just to ensure that I learned any intermediate steps that aren’t the same as beer brewing. It’s about 90% the same, luckily. There are MANY ways to make your hard cider – since this was my first rodeo, I opted for the simplest approach, just to dip my toe in.

In general, you can ferment anything that has fermentable chains of sugar in it when you introduce viable yeast, and create an environment where they can do their thing. Apple juice (and yes, cider) have these fermentable sugar chains, so it’s just a matter of doing the proper requisite work to set up that environment for the yeast to thrive.

If the cider/juice is NOT pasteurized, you’d need to boil it just like wort in beer production. Also, and this is a big deal, you can NOT use juice/cider with preservatives in it. So, if you are going to give this a try – aim for preservative free juice/cider. Lucky for me, the cider at Louisburg is pasteurized already, so I can skip the boil step and go right to sanitizing/pitching.

Before pitching your yeast starter, you can add pectic enzyme to the cider as a clarifier. It doesn’t impact taste at all – just clarity (it makes the pectins in the juice/cider fall out of suspension). I did buy a pouch from Amazon, but at the last second, decided not to do it. Again – since this is my maiden voyage into cider land, I didn’t want to add a variable that could screw it up. I want to get this first batch under my belt, and then I’ll focus on the bigger picture and improving my process.

One note about the yeast – I was going to get Nottingham Ale dry yeast by Danstar (very highly recommended by a majority of the sites I checked out). But, I opted to go with S-04 because some other sites said it works almost as well, and, I already has some S-04 on hand. So – win win.

When I skipped the pectic enzyme step, the last thing to do was take a gravity reading, and then pitch my yeast slurry and throw in the airlock bung. Done and done. The gravity of the cider was 1.052. Not bad. If you want to make your cider more alcoholic, you can add brown sugar or other sugar ingredients to up the gravity. Again – trying to keep this down to as few variables as possible, I opted to keep the gravity as is. If it ferments out to under 1.010, I’ll end up with a pretty decent cider.

Brew day notes:

  • Date: 10/27/18
  • Used cold pasteurized local cider from Louisburg Cider Mill
  • Actual OG: 1.052
    • Note – I didn’t add any sugar – that was the OG right out of the bottle!
  • Final OG: 1.000
  • Final ABV: 6.8%
  • Fermentation notes:
    • 10/26/18 – prepared a yeast starter using Fermentis S-04 and about 4 ounces of the hard cider from Louisburg Cider Mill. Within a few hours, you could see some activity in the mason jar, so that was very encouraging
    • 10/27/18 – poured the starter into the half-gallon jug of cider and put on my airlock.
    • 11/16 – cold crash
    • 11/17 – bottled at 1.000
      • Used 1 oz of sweet cider per 22oz bottle for priming
      • Tastes like hard apple cider – little on the dry side. I’ll break this out during Thanksgiving and let the family sample and render a verdict. All in all, not a bad first cider batch!


Have you ever brewed hard cider before? Please let us know about your brewing experiences. If you enjoyed this post, please like and share. Thanks!

Core de Force REVIEW – Day 19 – MMA Plyo

Some random thoughts before we get into the workout…

Just finished reading Nick Foles’ book “Believe It.”  It was a very nice book and a quick read. I’m a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, so I 100% got the book to enjoy and try to get a behind the scenes look at the 2017 Eagles Super Bowl run. After reading it, I think even a non-football fan might enjoy it. Beyond the football stuff, Nick is a very good person, a good family man, and a devout man of his faith. It was an enjoyable experience to get to know him in this book. I wish nothing but the best for him and his family as he either continues his football career, or retires and pursues a higher calling.

And, completely unrelated, I’m a huge fan of portable quality nutrition. I’ve talked about it before. I used to be a huge fan of RxBars. If you can handle cashews (no bloat or stomach discomfort), then RxBars are an amazing option to throw in your bag or keep in your desk. After messing around with an elimination diet, I found that cashews don’t play well with my gut biome. That was a huge bummer because I ate RxBars like they were candy. I actually emailed RxBar, told them how much I loved their product, and asked if they could consider subbing in something for the cashews for people that are looking to reduce lectins in their diets. They thanked me for my feedback, and that was the last I saw of their action. That was mid-2017.

A couple of weeks ago, something AMAZING happened. I received an email ad about a new product from Epic Bar. If you read the post I’m talking about, you’ll remember that I’m a big fan of Epic Bars. Epic was primarily in the meat snack bar space, BUT, now they are making a product very similar to RxBar – here is the best part – NO CASHEWS! I couldn’t add this to my Amazon cart quick enough. I opted to try the lemon flavored bar. I’m happy to say that I have a new staple snack in my bag and desk. They have the consistency of a Rise Bar, and the lemon flavor in this bar really pops. The carb count is a little high (since dates are used in the product), so I wouldn’t advise using them if you are in a Keto cycle. But, since I’m not, these fit very easily into my 150g or less of carbs per day.

Okay – on to the workout…

New workout. New workout. New workout!!!!!

new stuff 2

First time I can say I’ve been looking forward to something since week 1. I wasn’t expecting a ton of new moves; rather, I was expecting to have the combos mixed up so there would be a little surprise. I got my wish. Lots of the same moves, but new combos. So, it felt new and shiny. Each round was a different combo, so it wasn’t the type of workout where you go 5 or 6 rounds and repeat the moves again.

My absolute FAVORITE thing in today’s workout was the superman punch. I finally understand the superman punch and love it. I’ve tried to do the superman punch before in Tony Horton’s workout programs. I guess the cues either were incomplete, or I just did an awful job comprehending the mechanics. Either way, when I first started during the workout, I wasn’t getting the same type of body movement that the class was. So, I stopped, slowed it down, and really digested the steps to the move. Once it clicked, it CLICKED.

Okay – not me, but you get the idea

Best way to describe what made the move make sense for me – if you are punching with your right fist, your left foot should be planted on the ground, your weight should be drifting towards that left leg. As you are cocking your fist back (while weight is leaning forward), your right knee should raise up. When you are ready to explode forward, your left foot will leave the ground as you push forward. As this happens, your fist should punch forward, and your right leg should kick back to extend all at the same time (imagine you are stretching a rubber band apart between your right fist and your right foot). Once I broke it down into those small steps, I got the feel of the move after a few tries. Then, I was supermanning like a pro! When I switched to my non-dominant stance, I had to go through the same progression. It felt goofy at first, but I eventually got the right feel down pat. This might be my new favorite move!

Move of the day: anything superman punch!!!

Check out the rest of the Core de Force workouts HERE.

Continue reading Core de Force REVIEW – Day 19 – MMA Plyo

Core de Force REVIEW – Day 18 – Power Sculpt + 5 Min Core on the Floor

True to my word, I did yoga yesterday, and will do yoga tomorrow. I know that isn’t following the exact letter of the law of the workout program. Oh well – put me in workout jail.

I did the 9 rounds of the workout, meditated, and then was going to call it a morning and do 5 Min Core on the Floor when I got home from work. But, after the meditation session, I checked the time and had enough left to squeeze in the session. Decided – what the heck, and did it to be done with it. Good thing I did – Mrs. Breaking didn’t get home from work until close to 8pm, so it would have been a challenge to pull away from Baby Breaking to get that session in. And, I don’t like working out after having a beer, and after Baby Breaking went to sleep, I couldn’t resist the urge to crack open one of my homebrewed belgians. Damn that thing is good.

I’ve very ready for this program to be done, so I can move on to my next endeavor. Only 12 sessions left. I will say that the “burn” in my legs is pretty much only happening now after a bunch of sidekicks or round houses (that fires up your hip flexors). My quads have adapted to the load, and most of the plyo stuff is a breeze (the ginga hops do get my blood pumping once in a while when I really try to push hard horizontally and cover some ground). The push ups in round 9 still get my goat, but push ups for a minute straight at the end of a workout will do that to anyone.

I predict I’m going to have mostly positive things to say about this program other than it becoming kind of mundane towards the end.

Move of the day: half superman push up – really tried to minimize the horizontal hip sway on the way up.

Check out the rest of the Core de Force workouts HERE.

Continue reading Core de Force REVIEW – Day 18 – Power Sculpt + 5 Min Core on the Floor

Core de Force REVIEW – Day 17 – MMA Power + Core Kinetics

Deja Vu. I feel like this just happened two sessions ago. Oh wait, IT DID.

Since I hate doing the workout and then the 15 min core session back to back, I did the workout first, spent a couple hours with Baby Breaking, and did the core stuff when he took his early afternoon nap. My sidekicks probably had their best session, as did my roundhouse kicks. My body is not only becoming more flexible, I think the muscle memory of the move (since you do kicks A LOT) is taking hold. Overall, in terms of the 47 minute workouts, this is probably my favorite. I don’t loathe it.

I also spent the morning drawing a sample from my Old Ale (needs another week of fermenting/conditioning with the spices), and finding out how much of the spice extract to put into the beer.

Beyond that – not a ton going on. Will need to food shop later on and do some meal prep for the upcoming week. I did make a pretty gnarly pot of chicken soup this AM that I’ll graze on all day. In addition to the chicken bone broth I like to use as the base, I also had some smoked turkey bone broth that I threw into the mix as well. Added some nice depth of flavor to the broth. YUM!

Move of the day: Jab, cross, slip back, cross, roll back

Check out the rest of the Core de Force workout day reviews here!

Continue reading Core de Force REVIEW – Day 17 – MMA Power + Core Kinetics

Core de Force REVIEW – Day 16 – Dynamic Strength + 5 min Core on the Floor

Hooray – new workout today. Well, kind of. I still need to do Dynamic Strength, but then I get to torture myself for 5 minutes with a new core routine. Since its only 5 minutes, I’ll just do the workouts consecutively, and be done with it.

Imagine my surprise when I didn’t hate 5 minute core on the floor. Granted – it’s a core workout, and by design I’m built to loathe it. However, it went fast, and it spent a majority of its time in the plank position (which I don’t mind a ton). I’m not about to say, “…HOORAY, CAN’T WAIT FOR CORE ON THE FLOOR…,” but, I won’t dread it AS MUCH as Core Kinetics.

Did you know that Costco sells frozen avocado cubes now? That is a huge smoothie upgrade? I’m a big fan of avocados, but my biggest complaint is that they are either not ripe enough when you buy them, or they are super ripe when you buy them. Once you get home, you are kind of on the clock to use them (or you need to w-a-i-t). The frozen option takes some of the “pressure” off of using them.

Made a nice smoothie yesterday with protein powder, 1/2 cup of avocado cubes, 1/2 cup frozen peaches, 1 Scoop of Real Reds, and 1 TBSP almond butter. It was good!

Oh, and today is the first day I got through Sphinx Blasters in round 12 w/o stopping – I just plowed through and never went into downward dog. HOO-AH!

Move of the day: Balanced repeating side kick with tap down – really focusing on trying to get my kick higher and keep balance!

Check out the rest of the Core de Force workout day reviews here!

Continue reading Core de Force REVIEW – Day 16 – Dynamic Strength + 5 min Core on the Floor