Making Beer at Home — Photos

I learned how to make home-made wine during a university microbiology course in 1990, and I quickly picked up the hobby. After many years, I picked up making beer, to the pleasure of many friends over the years at local Canada Day celebrations.

Incidentally, while this page follows the preparation of beer from beer concentrate kits, the process is almost identical for making wine from wine concentrate kits.

The photos shown below cover a period of nine weeks, starting in early March, 2023, through to bottling the beer three weeks later at the very end of March, and taste testing the beer about six weeks after that — nine weeks total — in mid May, 2023. Normally, my “official” answer to “How long does it take to make beer?” is “A minimum of six weeks. Don’t believe the instructions when they say two, or three, or four weeks. Just don’t.” (Wine from kits takes about eight to nine weeks minimum.)

Making the beer:

The following is showing a very detailed progression of making beer using two kinds of beer concentrates, a blonde beer, and a brown ale. The narrative of this page will be primarily following the preparation of the blonde beer.

Day one:

First, a couple of kinds of beer concentrate kits were purchased, for a brown ale, and for a blonde beer.

Two beer concentrate kits purchased

Since beer concentrate kits often do not contain fermentable sugars, 1kg bags of dextrose were also purchased at the same time; in this case, about a bag per batch will be used, to produce a bit less than 5% alc/vol given the amount of beer I will be making (although I am not particular at all on this point beyond not wanting the alcohol content to be significantly different either way.)

Bags of dextrose purchased

Having brought the beer concentrates and dextrose home, the first thing I did was take out a beer from a previously brewed batch of beer:

Beer and glass taken out

The beer was poured into the glass:

Beer poured into glass

… and the beer was enjoyed:

Beer enjoyed

On to making new beer:

The aerator on the tap in the laundry tub was removed:

Aerator removed from tap

A five (imperial) gallon water jug was placed under the tap:

Water jug placed under tap

The water was turned on, and the jug filled with water …

Filling jug with water

While the jug was filling with water, a plastic cloth was laid out on the floor:

Plastic cloth laid out

A fermentation bin was taken out (incidentally, the original bin I bought back in late 1990 when I started making wine):

Fermentation bin taken out

A large stirring spoon, pliers, a large spoon, and a can opener, were taken out:

Tools taken out

The now-filled water container was brought out to the plastic cloth:

Filled water jug brought out

A kettle was filled with water …

Kettle filled with water

… the kettle was plugged in …

Kettle plugged in

… and finally the kettle was turned on:

Kettle turned on
Kettle turned on

A jet washer was taken out …

Jet washer taken out

… and the jet washer was attached to the tap in the laundry tub:

Jet washer attached to tap

The tap was turned on again:

Tap turned on

The aforementioned fermentation bin was brought to the laundry tub …

Fermentation bin brought to laundry tub

… then the fermentation bin was placed over the jet washer …

Fermentation bin placed over jet washer

… and I used a finger to activate the jet washer to rinse out the (previously cleaned) fermentation bin:

Fermentation bin rinsed with jet washer
Rinse water draining from fermentation bin

At this point, I took advantage of the moment to jetwash the emptied beer bottle from earlier:

Beer bottle jetwashed

… which was then placed in the dishwasher along with my other dishes, to clean for future bottling purposes (see later on).

Scissors were taken out:

Scissors taken out

The scissors were used to open a bag of dextrose:

Bag of dextrose cut open

The full contents of a bag of dextrose were poured into the fermentation bin, which was brought back to the plastic cloth:

Dextrose poured into fermentation bin
Dextrose poured into fermentation bin
Dextrose poured in fermentation bin

A can of beer concentrate, for the blonde beer, and the can opener, were taken out.

Beer concentrate and can opener taken out

The plastic top was removed from the can, revealing a yeast packet and the kit’s instructions.

Yeast packet and instructions revealed

The yeast packet was taken out …

Yeast packet taken out

… as were the instructions:

Instructions taken out
Instructions opened up

Note that while I generally follow the instructions, I apply my own fine tuned procedures. 🙂

The can opener was used to open the can of beer concentrate:

Beer concentrate can opened with a can opener
Beer concentrate can opened with a can opener

A spoon was used to remove the top of the can:

Spoon used to open can
Can opened up

… and the top of the can was finally properly removed:

Can top removed from can

The viscous beer concentrate was poured into the fermentation bin:

Beer concentrate poured into fermentation bin

The spoon was used to scrape out the rest of the concentrate from the can:

Beer concentrate scraped out of can
Beer concentrate scraped out of can

The kettle of water, while still hot, was reboiled, and boiling water was poured into the can:

Boiling water poured into beer concentrate can

The hot can was picked up with the pliers …

Can picked up with pliers

The hot water was swirled around in the can to dissolved the last of the concentrate from the can walls, and the water was poured out and into the fermentation bin:

Hot water poured out of can into fermentation bin

The rest of the boiling water was poured into the fermentation bin:

Hot water poured into fermentation bin

The large plastic stirring spoon was quickly rinsed under the tap at the laundry tub:

Plastic spoon rinsed with water

The spoon was brought to the fermentation bin:

Spoon brought to fermentation bin

… and the hot water, beer concentrate, and dextrose were thoroughly mixed:

Hot water, beer concentrate, and dextrose thoroughly mixed

The plastic tap placed on the water jug was removed:

Tap seal removed from water jug

The water in the jug was poured into the fermentation bin with the other ingredients:

Water poured into fermentation bin

At this point, all the ingredients are called wort (pronounced “wurt”), and the wort was mixed with the big plastic spoon:

Wort mixed
Wort mixed

The temperature on the thermometer stuck onto the side of the fermentation bin was checked, and the wort temperature had not yet risen come up to fermentation range (one of the temperature ranges would be highlighted were it the case):

Temperature not yet in range

Despite this, and knowing that the water temperature was below optimum range, as opposed to too warm and dangerous to yeast, the yeast packet was taken out:

Yeast packet taken out

The yeast packet was cut open with scissors:

Yeast packet opened with scissors
Yeast packet opened with scissors

The yeast was pitched into the wort (ie. sprinkled onto the surface of the unfermented beer):

Pitching yeast
Pitching yeast

The wort with the yeast was lightly stirred, in order to moisten the yeast and reactivate it:

Wort and yeast lightly stirred

A plastic shopping bag — in fact, one of the bags I’d received when the beer kits had been purchased earlier in the afternoon — was taken out:

Plastic bag taken out

The bag was partially cut so as to allow it to be used as a cover for the fermentation bin:

Bag cut to make plastic cover

Elastics and paper clips were taken out:

Elastics and paper clips taken out

Elastics were looped together:

Elastics looped together

The ends of the looped elastics were joined together with a paper clip to make a “belt”:

Ends of looped elastics joined together

The plastic bag was placed on top of the fermentation bin, covering the wort:

Wort covered with plastic sheet

The elastic loop was wrapped around the plastic sheet to keep it in place on the top of fermentation bin:

Elastic loop wrapped around plastic sheet

At this point, I had to clear the bar so that I could place the fermentation bin, full of wort, on it:

Bar cleared

A chair was placed beside the bar, so as to help in raising the heavy fermentation bin full of wort:

Chair placed to help lifting the bin full of wort

The heavy fermentation bin full of wort was lifted off the floor and onto the chair, in order to allow me to get a better hold on the bin while lifting it up to the level of the bar:

Fermentation bin full of wort lifted onto chair

The fermentation bin full of wort was then lifted up to the level of the bar:

Fermentation bin full of wort lifted up to bar level

… and finally, the fermentation bin full of wort was moved to the end of the bar, against the wall:

Fermentation bin moved to end of bar

The instructions, principally used as piece of paper on which to identify the type of beer in the fermentation bin, were placed within the elastic loop:

Instructions identifying beer placed in elastic loop

The whole process was repeated for the brown ale beer kit, and producing a second identified fermentation bin filled with wort, placed beside the first bin:

Second fermentation bin filled with wort placed on bar

Day two:

Fourteen hours later (the following morning), I peeked into the fermentation bins, and could see signs of the beginnings of fermentation:

Yeast growth after 14 hours

That evening, after about 27 hours had passed, the wort temperature was checked again, and it was barely up to 68F:

Wort temperature up to 68F

… and, at the same time, I peeked again at the wort, noticing more yeast growth:

Yeast growth after 27 hours

Day three:

After about 39 hours, I peeked once again at the wort, and the yeast was bubbling away:

Yeast growth after 39 hours

Day six:

After six days, secondary fermentors were taken out; in this case, a large five gallon plastic bottle, a one gallon jar, and, just in case, a soda bottle for last little bits:

Secondary fermentors taken out

The jet washer was again installed on the tap in the laundry tub:

Jet washer installed again

The secondary fermentors were rinsed out with the jet washer:

Secondary fermentor rinsed
Secondary fermentor rinsed

Racking equipment — items used to transfer the now-fermenting liquid easily — were taken out: Plastic tubing, a stiff plastic racking cane, a cone shaped holder to hold the racking cane (including this item was an oops, since I wouldn’t be needing it on this day), and a clip to hold the plastic tubing in place on the edge of the secondary fermentor:

Racking equipment taken out

The racking tubes were rinsed with water:

Racking tube rinsed

The secondary fermentors were placed on the floor of the bar next to where the fermenting beer was located:

Secondary fermentors placed on bar floor

The racking tube was placed in the fermentation bin with the fermenting beer, and leading all the way down to the floor where the secondary fermentors were placed:

Racking tube placed in fermentation bin and leading down to secondary fermentors

The flow of liquid beer was started by sucking on the end of the flexible section of the racking tubing (avoiding to leave any spit!), which was then secured in the neck of the secondary fermentor using the black clip, allowing for the flow of beer from above down below:

Beer flow begun and tubing secured to secondary fermentor neck

Here is the neck of the racking tube in the fermentation bin, with beer flowing through down to the secondary fermentor:

Beer flowing out of the fermentation bin

And here’s a photo of the secondary fermentor as it was filling with fermenting beer:

Secondary fermentor filling up

At a certain point when the secondary fermentor was almost full, foam formed up to the top of the secondary fermentor …

Secondary fermentor foaming up
Secondary fermentor foaming up

… and the racking tubing was transferred to the gallon jug:

Racking beer into gallon jug secondary fermentor

At this point, I should explain that during the primary fermentation, the fermentation was sufficiently vigorous to avoid air getting back in, while during secondary fermentation and the following period during which solids drop to the bottom of the secondary fermentor, the rate of gas production is insufficient to protect the beer from oxidation and contamination from the air outside the fermentor.

Therefore, airlocks, plugs for the secondary fermentors which allow gas — in this case, carbon dioxide produced by the yeast fermenting the dextrose into alcohol — to escape the secondary fermentors while keeping air from getting back in, were taken out:

Airlocks taken out

Airlocks were filled with water:

Airlock filled with water
Airlocks filled with water

Water-filled airlocks were fitted onto the now-filled secondary fermentors, which were raised up to the level of the bar:

Airlocks fitted to secondary fermentor
Airlocks fitted to secondary fermentors, and secondary fermentors raised to bar level

At the bottom of the fermentation bin, there was a sediment of dead and dying yeast:

Sediment at bottom of fermentation bin

The fermentation bin was brought to the laundry tub, and the sediment was drained out:

Sediment drained from fermentation bin

The fermentation bin was washed and rinsed with the jetwasher and a rag (not shown):

Fermentation rinsed with jetwasher
Washed and rinsed fermentation bin

The airlock was already bubbling at this point:

Airlock bubbling

The whole process was repeated for the other beer, the brown ale, and at this point, a second set of identified secondary fermentors filled with beer was placed beside the first set of secondary fermentors:

Two sets of secondary fermentors with two kinds of beer

Day nine:

At this point, sediments had formed in the secondary fermentors:

Sediment in secondary fermentor

You should start this now if you haven’t already:

Normally, I have a collection of cleaned and de-labeled beer bottles in storage. Should you not have an adequate number of bottles for bottling your beer — 23 litres requires about 66 or thereabouts 341mL bottles, or equivalent — by now you should begin collecting them.

Normally, I get beer bottles from city streets; as I am walking about in the streets, I am continuously on the lookout for empty beer bottles to reuse for my beer; fortunately for brewers like myself, but in more general terms unfortunately, in the general area where I live, they are far more common and abundant than I might want to admit, and, surprisingly, most are in excellent condition! In the following few pictures, I show the cleaning of larger 1.18 litre bottles, since I use them as well as regular 341 mL bottles for beers I produce sometimes.

Other places to get beer bottles are to buy beer at stores, consume the beer, and then clean the bottles; or, ask friends and family to save beer bottles for you; and, be really nice with the bottle return clerk at the store and politely ask them if you may pay the bottle deposits on empty returned beer bottles.

Hence, an empty bottle was taken out:

Empty beer bottle to be cleaned and delabled

The cap was unscrewed from the bottle, and kept:

Cap removed from bottle

The bottle was inspected for chips, cracks, and any other defects:

Bottle inspected for defects

A plastic bucket was partly filled with water for soaking off the labels:

Bucket filled with water for soaking labels

The bottle was placed in the bucket and filled with water …

Bottle filled with water

Once filled, the bottle was turned over (in order to properly soak the label on the neck), and the bucket was almost fully filled with water:

Bottle turned over and bucket filled with water
Bottle turned over and bucket filled with water

After a while, the label was carefully removed from the bottle:

Label removed from bottle
Label removed from bottle
Label removed from bottle
Label removed from bottle

An old vegetable scraping brush was taken out:

Brush taken out

The brush and partially delabeled bottle were brought together …

Brush used to scrape off vestiges of label from bottle

… and the vestiges of the label were removed …

Vestiges of label partly removed from bottle
Vestiges of label mostly removed from bottle

… including the glue:

Vestiges of label glue scraped off

Yet again, the jet washer was installed onto the tap in the laundry tub:

Jet washer installed

… and the bottle’s interior was rinsed with the jet washer:

Bottle interior jet washed

The bottle’s cap, which for these bottles and cap model can be reused if in good condition, was removed from the soaking water:

Cap removed from soaking water

The cap was jet washed:

Jet washing cap

The bottle and cap were placed in the dishwasher with other dishes, to be washed and sanitized before storing for bottling day:

Bottle and cap placed in dishwasher

After the dishwasher had been run, the clean bottle was taken out, ready to be stored in anticipation of bottling day:

Clean bottle ready for storage

After three weeks:

On bottling day, clean bottles were taken out to bottle the beer:

Clean bottles taken out

The dishwasher had been previously run to clean dishes, and then the clean dishes were all taken out, leaving an empty and clean dishwasher:

Clean and empty dishwasher

Large, 1.18 litre beer bottles were placed in the dishwasher:

Large bottles placed in dishwasher

Small, 341 mL beer bottles were placed in the lower rack of the dishwasher alongside the larger beer bottles …

Small beer bottles placed in dishwasher

… as well in the dishwasher’s upper rack:

Small beer bottles placed in the dishwasher’s upper rack

The dishwasher racks were rolled into the dishwashwer …

Dishwasher racks rolled into dishwasher

The dishswasher door was closed, and the dial set to start running the dishwashwer (without any soaps):

Dishwasher set to operate

At this point, with the dishwasher running, I took out another beer and glass:

Beer and glass taken out

The beer was poured into the glass:

Beer poured into glass

And the beer was enjoyed:

Beer enjoyed

Various supplies and equipment were taken out for bottling, such as more dextrose to mix into the beer (to carbonate the beer once bottled), a racking tube, a large plastic mixing spoon, a measuring cup, a cone used to hold the racking cane in place in the secondary fermentors, a measuring cup to measure out the dextrose, some bottle caps for the smaller bottles, and the bottle capper for securing the caps on the smaller bottles. Missing: Caps used for larger bottles.

Supplies for bottling the beer

The racking tube and cane were rinsed with water:

Racking tube and cane rinsed

The long plastic spoon was rinsed:

Mixing spoon rinsed

The jet washer was installed again:

Jest washer installed

The original fermentation bin was taken out:

Fermentation bin taken out

The fermentation bin was rinsed with the jet washer:

Fermentation bin rinsed with jet washer

The rinsed fermentation bin was brought over to the bar:

Rinsed fermentation bin brought to bar area

Dextrose was measured out:

Dextrose measured out

The dextrose was brought to the fermentation bin:

Dextrose brought to the fermentation bin

The dextrose was poured into the fermentation bin:

Dextrose poured into fermentation bin

The conical cane holder was placed on the racking cane:

Conical cane holder installed on racking cane

The airlock was removed from the secondary fermentor whose beer was going to be racked:

Airlock removed from secondary fermentor

The racking cane was carefully placed in the secondary fermentor whose beer was about to be racked:

Racking cane placed in secondary fermentor

I sucked a bit on the end of the tubing to start the transfer of the beer from the secondary fermentor …

Beer transferring from secondary fermentor

… which allowed for the beer to be siphoned off and transferred to the primary fermentor with the dextrose, which was on the floor of the bar:

Beer transferring to fermentation bin
Beer level in secondary fermentor becoming lower

As the beer was transferring to the fermentation bin at floor level, I stirred the beer a bit to dissolve the dextrose:

Beer stirred to dissolve dextrose

As the beer was being transferred, the level in the secondary fermentor kept on dropping:

Beer level in secondary fermentor becoming lower

Once the liquid had been fully transferred from the secondary fermentor, I transferred the racking tube to the gallon jug:

Racking tube transferred to gallon jug

… until it too was empty:

Both secondary fermentors emptied

The large secondary fermentor was jetwashed …

Secondary fermentor jetwashed

… as was the gallon jug:

Secondary fermentor jetwashed

At this point, the original fermentation bin was filled with the beer, and was thoroughly mixed again:

Fermentation bin filled with beer, and beer mixed

While the beer was still being racked, a section of the bar was cleared again …

Section of bar cleared

… the plastic cloth was placed on the floor beside the cleared section of the bar …

Plastic cloth placed on floor

… and the fermentation bin with the beer was raised up to the bar again, with the racking cane and tubing having been placed in the bucket and draping down to floor level:

Beer raised to level of bar

At this point, the dishwasher had finished operating, so the bottom rack with the large 1.18 litre and some 341 mL bottles were brought downstairs to the bottling area:

Rack of sanitized bottles brought to bottling area

Large 1.18 litre bottles were taken out of the rack and stood upright for filling:

Large bottles stood upright for filling

The racking tube was primed (flow started) and used to fill bottles one by one:

Filling beer bottles
Filling beer bottles
Filling beer bottles
Filled beer bottles

The clean caps were taken out:

Clean caps taken out
Clean caps taken out

… and the bottles were capped, and moved out of the bottling area. And here is my cat helping out with the beer bottling!

Bottles capped and cat helping
All 1.18 bottles capped

Smaller 341 mL and a single 750 mL bottles were taken out of the dishwasher rack and stood upright for bottling:

Regular beer bottles stood upright for bottling

The regular-sized beer bottles were filled with the racking tube:

Regular-sized bottles filled with beer

The filled beer bottles were moved out of the filling area as they were filled:

Regular-sized bottles filled with beer

At this point, the level of beer in the fermentation bin had gotten low, however it still contained several bottles of beer:

Beer still left in fermentation bin

Also at this point, all the bottles from the lower rack of the dishwasher had been filled with beer:

Dishwasher rack empty

The upper rack from the dishwasher was brought down to the bottling area:

Upper rack brought to bottling area

The rest of the beer was bottled, and the uncapped bottles were placed in beer cases in order to facilitate moving them over to where I capped the bottles:

Filled beer bottles placed in beer cases

At this point, I had set up my capping station, and had moved the cases of filled beer bottles there:

Bottle capping station

My beer bottle capper was taken out, along with a wooden booster to accomodate “modern” beer bottles, which are shorter than the tall bottles for which the capper seems to have been designed:

Beer bottle capper with wooden booster

Uncrimped beer bottle caps were placed on bottles one at a time …

Uncrimped beer bottle cap placed on bottle

Bottles with caps were placed in the bottle capper, starting with a tall bottle not needing the wooden booster …

Bottle placed in capper

… and the plunger was pushed down over the cap, in order to crimp it onto the bottle:

Bottle cap crimped

… producing a capped and sealed bottle of beer:

Capped and sealed bottle of beer, showing crimping around edges
Capped and sealed bottle of beer, showing the depressed top of the cap

The wooden booster was placed back on the base of the capper:

Wooden booster placed in capper

The bottles of beer were all capped:

Beer bottles capped

A permanent marker was taken out:

Permanent marker taken out

The tops of the bottles were identified, in this case with “BL” for the blonde beer, and 2023 … for the year 2023. 🙂

Bottle caps identified
Bottle caps identified

The bottles were placed back in beer cases:

Beers placed back in cases

Here are all the bottles of beer of the blonde beer:

All bottles of blonde beer

The bottling process was repeated for the brown ale:

Bottles of blonde beer and brown ale

After nine weeks:

Of course, the beer had to be taste tested, so a bottle of the blonde beer, as well as a glass, were taken out:

Blonde beer and glass taken out

The bottle was held up to the light of a window to check that it had cleared on its own:

Beer checked for clarity

The blonde beer was poured into the glass …

Beer poured into glass

… and the beer was enjoyed:

Beer enjoyed

The beer is now ready to be consumed on … well, poor weather postponed the Canada Day festivities where I live, so it will be ready when Canada Day is rescheduled!

Making Plain Cake (With Lemon Sauce) — Photos

This weekend’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included more chocolate buttecrunch, more bran muffins, and the subject of this post, plain cake, with the addition of a lemon sauce as an experiment.

I came about to learning to make plain cake from scratch after I attempted to make a New York crumble cake I’d seen being made on a Martha Stewart cooking show. Not only was the cake not as expected — we were expecting mostly cake with a modest but tasty crumble crust, instead of the actual small amount of cake and a sizable crumble crust — the cake did not bake well, and I was very disinclined to try it again. The next day, I looked for a plain cake recipe on the internet and found one, which I adapted to my format.

First, two cups of flour were placed in a mixing bowl:

Two cups of flour added to a mixing bowl

… to which two teaspoons of baking powder were added:

Baking powder added to the flour

… as well as a quarter teaspoon of salt:

Quarter teaspoon salt added to flour and baking powder

The flour, baking powder, and salt were blended with a fork:

Blending flour, baking powder, and salt

The bowl was then put aside until later.

Margarine was picked up on a piece of paper towelling:

Margarine on a piece of paper towel

… in order to coat the interior surfaces of the baking pan:

Inner surfaces of baking pan coated with margarine

Then, a bit of flour was put in the pan …

Flour put into pan

… and spread around to coat the margarine:

Baking pan coated with flour and margarine

The baking pan was also put aside until later.

In another mixing bowl, a quarter cup of shortening was added:

A quarter cup of shortening in a mixing bowl

The shortening was creamed with an electric mixer:

Creamed shortening

A cup of sugar was added to the creamed shortening:

Adding a cup of sugar to the creamed shortening

… and the sugar and shortening were blended:

Sugar and shortening blended

An egg was added to the mixing bowl:

Egg added to mixing bowl

… and the ingredients were again blended:

Egg, sugar, and shortening blended

A teaspoon of vanilla extract was added to the mix:

A teaspoon of vanilla extract being added to the mix
A teaspoon of vanilla extract added to the mix

… and again, the ingredients were blended.

About a third of the flour mix prepared earlier, and about a third of a cup of milk, were added to the ingredients:

A third of the flour mix and a third of a cup of milk added to the ingredients

… and completely blended:

Cake batter thoroughly mixed

The previous two steps were repeated twice until all the milk and flour mix were blended into the batter.

The batter was then transferred to the floured baking pan:

Batter transferred to baking pan

… and placed in a countertop convection oven preheated to 350F:

Cake pan in countertop convection oven

At this point, I was getting rather thirsty, so I poured myself some iced tea, and a bottle of my homebrew, a Belgian-style brown ale, made with water from filtered, melted ice from the lake at my cottage:

Some of my homebrew, and some iced tea
Aaahhhhh …

Since my mom suggested that a lemon drizzle be added to the cake, first a few tablespoons of icing sugar were placed in a bowl:

Icing sugar added to a bowl

… to which half the number of teaspoons of lemon juice were added:

Lemon juice added to the icing sugar

… and the ingredients were mixed, then put aside for later:

Icing sugar and lemon juice mixed together

Soon, the cake in the oven was puffing up and browning:

Cake baking in the oven

… and was taken out of the oven after 55 minutes of baking:

Fully baked cake

The cake was pricked multiple times with a thick needle …

Pricking the cake

… to allow for some absorption of the lemon sauce which was poured over the cake with a small plastic scoop:

Pouring the lemon sauce on the cake

… at which point, the cake looked like follows:

Baked cake with lemon sauce

When cooled, a knife was used to loosen the cake around its edges in the baking pan, and the cake was taken out of the baking pan:

Cake removed from baking pan

A few slices of cake were cut from the cake:

Cake with some pieces sliced off

And, of course, the cake was yummy! And mom said “Delicious!”

Making Pickled Eggs — Photos

Although I have already done some posts on my pickled eggs, as per my recent wont of photo posts of me making my various recipes, I took a lot of photos yesterday when I made pickled eggs. Sigh, the stores know how to get me every time when they advertise eggs on sale!

Before I went to buy the eggs, I prepared some extra ice, which would be needed later on once the eggs were boiled:

Ice made before leaving to buy the eggs; photo taken later when the ice was frozen

Then I went out to do some shopping and I purchased three flats of 30 eggs each, for a total of 90 eggs, at the advertised price of $4.44 CDN per flat (14.8 cents per egg).

A flat of 30 eggs; I purchased three such flats of eggs.

I took out ten jars with mason openings; although the jars shown aren’t strictly speaking mason jars, they have mason jar threading, and I’ve never had trouble with them.

Ten clean jars with mason jar threading

Of course, I also prepared ten rings and lids (in this case, clean reused lids, since I expect that I will be eating the eggs from most of the jars):

Ten rings and lids for mason jars

Cold water was put in a pot and heated, for later use when boiling the jars.

Cold water put in a pot and boiled, for later use to boil the jars

I boiled and shelled the eggs over two sessions of 45 eggs each, one after the other.

First, eggs were placed in a pot:

45 eggs in a stock pot

Cold water was added to the pot with the eggs, covering the eggs.

Adding cold water to the pot with the eggs
Pot of eggs with water, covering the eggs and about an inch more of water

The stove was turned on, and I brought the eggs to a boil, and then boiled them for eight minutes.

During the time it took to heat up and boil the eggs, the first thing I did was pour myself a nice beer:

Don de Dieu, a 9% bottle refermented abbey-style triple wheat beer

Yes, that is a double sized, 750mL bottle of beer containing 9% alc/vol; it’s called “Don de Dieu”, and it’s a bottle refermented abbey-style triple wheat beer, from Unibroue, in Chambly, Québec.


Back to work, still while the eggs were heating up and boiling, I prepared some pickling solution:

My pickling solution uses 7% pickling vinegar, sugar, salt, and a commercial blend of pickling spices

Vinegar was measured out into a pot (in this case, 7-1/2 cups; according to my recipe, I knew I would need another 3-3/4 cups, as well as the commensurate amounts of sugar, salt, and spices) :

Pickling vinegar measured out into a pot

Sugar (in this case, 1 cup) was added:

Sugar was added to the vinegar

Salt (in this case, 3-1/2 teaspoons) was added to the pickling solution:

Salt was added to the pickling solution

A commercial pickling spice blend (in this case, 3-1/2 tablespoons) was added to the pickling solution:

Pickling spices were added to the pickling solution.

The pickling solution was covered and put aside, to be boiled later.

Soon, the eggs had reached the boiling point, and the eggs were boiled for eight minutes:

Eggs boiling for eight minutes

After eight minutes of boiling, the boiling water was immediately drained from the pot of eggs, and cold water was added to the pot of eggs, as well as ice:

The pot of eggs was drained of its boiling water, and cold water and ice were added.

The ice water and eggs were gently mixed by hand, in order to quickly and thoroughly cool the eggs, which takes a few minutes. This is necessary so as to avoid the development of a greenish-blackish ring around the egg yolks (which is harmless, but aesthetically undesirable), as well as to aid in the peeling; the sharp temperature change helps dislodge the membrane just inside the shell, which will then make it easier to remove the shells and minimize tearing.

The eggshells were then peeled:

Cracking the shell on an egg against the edge of my sink
Egg shells collected into a bowl, and eventually sent to the brown box for curbside collection and municipal composting

Shelled eggs were rinsed in cool water and placed in a couple of bowls:

Of the 90 eggs, the shells of 65 peeled nicely

Sometimes, there are tears when shelling eggs. In yesterday’s case, there were 25 eggs with tears; however, tears don’t affect the eggs’ ability to be pickled, they just make the eggs not always look as nice. As such, these eggs were merely placed in a separate bowl so that they could be bottled together for personal consumption, and to distinguish them from the nicely peeled eggs, should I decide to give away a jar of the “nice” eggs (see below).

.Bowl of 25 eggs with some tears

At this point, a few hand tools were needed: Some tongs, a ladle, a jar holder, and a slotted spoon. Not shown: mason jar filler.

Some tongs, a ladle, a jar holder, and a slotted spoon

At this point, the water which was heated earlier for the bottles was brought up to boiling again, and jars were put in the water once it was boiling:

Mason jars placed in boiling water

At the same time, the pickling solution was brought to a boil:

Pickling solution brought to a boil

In a third pot — the same one in which the eggs were originally boiled — fresh water was brought to a boil, and eggs (in this case, nine eggs at a time, the number of eggs which fit in the size of jars used) were added, once all three pots were boiling:

Shelled eggs reboiled for a few moments in a boiling water bath

Eggs are only kept in the boiling water long enough to take out a jar from the boiling water bath (just as the jars need only be in the boiling water bath for the time it takes to put the eggs in the boiling water bath.)

A jar is taken out of the boiling water bath, and the eggs in the boiling water bath are transferred to the hot jar:

Reboiled eggs transferred to the hot jar

The pot of hot pickling solution — which is kept simmering to boiling on the stove in between filling jars — is brought over, and hot pickling solution is added to the hot jar with the hot eggs:

Pickling solution added to the hot jar filled with hot eggs

The lids and rings were individually placed in the mason jar hot water bath and immediately placed on the filled jars.

Seven jars were each filled with nine eggs without tears, and three jars were each filled with nine eggs with tears.

Once all the jars were filled, they were placed in a refrigerator overnight to cool the contents relatively quickly, in order to avoid the development of greenish-blackish rings around the egg yolks (which is harmless, but aesthetically undesirable.)

Jars of pickled eggs placed in the fridge, with a divider to help quickly distinguish between jars of eggs with and without tears.

This morning, I took the jars out of the fridge, and wiped down the jars, since when filling the jars and putting on the lids, sometimes the pickling solution spilled a bit.

Wiping down the outside of the jars

This included taking off the rings to wipe down the necks of the jars, which wasn’t a problem since all the lids on the jars formed a good vacuum seal.

Wiping down the necks of the jars

I have a computer file of labels I use for my pickled eggs, which I printed out. I do both English and French parts because I live in a primarily French speaking area, and therefore it’s good to have both languages for when I give away and sell jars. I cut out the individual labels, folded them over lengthwise, wrote the date on the backsides, punched a hole in each, and looped an elastic band in the hole of each label.

Labels for the jars of eggs

I placed the labels around the necks of the jars. In this photo, the three jars of eggs with tears are in the front row and on the right.

The ten jars of pickled eggs I made yesterday.

Since I already had some pickled eggs in stock (a total of 91 over seven jars), which I made about a month ago, I moved them around to make space in the storage room:

Four of seven jars of pickled eggs I already had in my store room

Things were moved around, and yesterday’s jars of pickled eggs are now all put away, on the bottom shelf below the existing jars:

My collection of 181 pickled eggs over 16 jars

As you’ll notice, there are also three extra jars of six pickled eggs in the stock I’d already had, that were not in the above photo; these will likely be given as gifts before I give away any of yesterday’s production since new lids were used when they were made.

And if I don’t give out any jars as gifts? Then I’ll have enough pickled eggs for myself until at least early summer of this year!

ps: And the beer? Of course it was good! It’s a beer I’ve had several times before, it’s from my favourite brewery (Unibroue — no, not the multinational brewery with a slightly different spelling), barring the fact that my favourite beer is from another brewery, and I have a particular taste for Belgian abbey beers and wheat beers.

Cooking Beef Manicotti — Photos

A relatively long time ago, a neighbour brought over some stuffed pasta rolls au gratin, and they were rather tasty. I liked them so much that I decided to replicate them, and added the recipe to my repertoire of personal recipes.

I recently made a batch of my manicotti, and I took a lot of pictures.

First, I finely ground some carrots in a food processor:

Finely ground carrots

As a side note, I use carrots because I love carrots, and at the time it seemed perfectly natural to me add ground carrots to the filling mix.

I also add ground onions, which to me are also a natural pairing with the beef. The two ingredients extend the beef used in order to stuff more manicotti shells, or conversely, as tasty fillers, reduce the amount of ground beef required.

Then I ground some onions, effectively rendering them liquid:

Ground onions, at this point in near-liquid form

Ground beef was placed in an electric skillet:

Ground beef placed in an electric skillet

The ground carrots and ground onions were added to the beef in the electric skillet:

The mixture of beef, ground carrots, and ground onion placed in an electric skillet

The ground beef was broken up with a spatula, and mixed together with the ground carrots and ground onions.

Ground beef broken up and mixed together with the ground carrots and ground onions

The mixture was fried, while being constantly mixed:

The mixture of beef, ground carrots, and ground onion frying

At this point, I was getting a little thirsty, so I served myself some homebrew (an Irish Stout):

A serving of some of my homebrew, an Irish Stout

Next, some manicotti shells were taken out of their box:

Manicotti shells in the plastic trays from the box bought at a store.

The manicotti shells were then boiled, six at a time, in salted water with olive oil for five minutes:

Six manicotti shells in boiling water

The manicotti shells were then drained:

Manicotti shells in a strainer

At this point, I stuffed the manicotti shells, six at a time, with the cooked meat, carrot, and onion mixture, holding a cooling manicotti shell in one hand, while transferring the meat mixture using a small dessert spoon.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of me filling the shells — my hands were dirty and greasy, and I didn’t ask for a photographer’s helper. 🙁

At this point, I may have been getting a bit tipsy from my beer, so I drank some iced tea to help deal with the effects of the beer.

I drink lots and lots and lots of iced tea every day!

I stuffed a total of 22 manicotti shells. The stuffed manicotti shells were then placed in oven-proof and microwave-safe containers:

22 stuffed manicotti shells

Tomato sauce — in this case, a commercial beef and pork tomato sauce — was spread on top of the stuffed manicotti shells.

Tomato sauce spread on top of the manicotti

Mozzarella cheese was sliced off the block and laid on top of the manicotti.

Sliced mozzarella cheese laid on top of the manicotti

Freezer bags were identified with the intended contents and the date.

Freezer bags identified with contents and date

The manicotti containers were then placed in the bags, and then frozen.

Beef manicotti in freezer bags, ready to place in the freezer

When cooking, I defrost the manicotti, sometimes add a bit more cheese on top, start to reheat the manicotti in a microwave oven while preheating a countertop oven to 350F, and bake the manicotti until the cheese on the top is a desired level of browned and the sauce is bubbling up on the sides.

Are they tasty? Of course they are!

Snow Beer

Beyond its inherent value, my post about the Katadyn Pocket water filter back in March was meant to be a precursor to this post.

One of my Christmas gifts (ie. what I not only requested but actually went out to acquire myself 🙂 ) was a Belgian ale beer kit. The homebrew shop apparently acquired from one of my previous homebrew shops when it went out of business back in 1999 a large fridge and apparently whatever trademarks and (I presume) recipes for a line of beer kits they produced called “SuperBatch”. Basically, the concept is (for them) to create in-store full, ready to add water beer kits using custom recipes, building the kits with various malt extracts in proportions according to given recipes and adding packets of hops and / or other spices (again in varieties and quantities according to the given recipes), as well as the usual yeast packet.

Having a personal preference for Belgian beers, I have been hoping for years to stumble upon a Belgian beer kit, and was finally pleased to find one when I decided to investigate another homebrew shop given that for the past year or two I’d been very slowly been getting frustrated by my up-to-then current homebrew shop over decreasing selection of, and generally decreasing availability of product. The imp that pushed me over the cliff came from somewhere between having found the Belgian kit on the new-to-me shop’s website and having observed that the up-to-then current homebrew shop had also changed distributors, not only not carrying the beer kits I had been using and finding acceptable, but also changing the brand of wine kits I normally (although now rarely) use; I’ve tried a couple of other brands, I don’t like them.

Back on track, I had a beer kit in hand. And, I was up at the cottage over the Christmas holidays, melting a *lot* of snow and filtering the water using my water filter in order to supply my water needs. Having planned this next part in advance, at one point I took out my water container I keep for wine-making and brewing purposes and, instead of filling my drinking water containers with filtered water for my drinking and cleanup needs, I started filling my brewing water container and brought it home at the end of my holiday.

Shortly after coming home, I made beer. The instructions were a little different from the commercial kits in cans out there (ok, stop rolling your eyes). They were vaguely reminiscent of brewing from grain, at least so far as I had to boil the malt extract with about an equal amount of water, and having to add the packet of (in my case, given that it was a Belgian ale) dried fruit and spices. Having added the rest of the water, which was also its bulk, there was little issue with having to chill the wort. I pitched the yeast, covered the bucket with a plastic sheet, and waited and watched.

A week later, I racked the bubbling beer into a secondary fermenter and added an air lock, and waited and watched.

Three weeks later, after the secondary fermentation and then settling, I bottled the beer, priming with my usual approximately 1oz of honey per gallon. For the inquisitive, the kind of honey I used was the type that Costco sells 1kg at a time, not some esoteric organic variety bought from some road-side stand in front of a farmer’s field a couple of hours out of the city. Typically, it takes about two weeks just to get the carbonation completed.

But, it doesn’t stop there: It took another month after the bare minimum (in my books) of six weeks, or in the general area of 10-12 weeks at this point in late March, for the wonderful chocolate tones and other fuller flavours to start coming out. In between, the beer seemed to be a bit disappointingly dull and flat (not carbonation-wise, but taste-wise.)

And … there are two endings to this story:

First, whaddya think, it isn’t any good? Of course it’s good. In a little while when my supplies begin to dwindle, I’ll be getting another Belgian Ale kit from my new-to-me shop.

Secondly, does the fact that it’s made from melted snow filtered to drinking water quality make it taste any better? Well I guess I’d have to have made separate parallel batches with tap water and distilled water to really know the difference, or even try to determine whether there actually is one; certainly, I can’t particularly tell. Of course the beer is good and doesn’t have any off tastes, and fermented well.

But … I expect that the real difference lies in that I have a bit of a story to tell regarding the water source I used for the beer I’m serving, and not much more.

And, back in April before all the snow in the city had melted away, I melted some and filtered it; it’s now patiently waiting for the next time I make some beer for myself (I had no intention of using it for the beer I’ve made for Canada Day. 🙂 )

Katadyn Pocket Water Filter

During the summer of 2012, I bought a Katadyn Pocket water filter. It took a bit of research, but in short order the decision to buy this model over just about any other was clear: Most water filters seemed to have a capacity of a few hundred gallons or maybe up to 1,500 gallons; the Katadyn Pocket filter has a capacity of up to 13,000 gallons, or 50,000 litres. Given the price difference — anywhere from $75 to $250 for most of the rest, and $300 to $350 for the Katadyn Pocket, there was little to decide.

The unit has a 0.2 micron ceramic filter with silver impregnated in it in order to act as a bacteriostatic agent, although you have to be careful about that (see below).

The only thing that bugs me a very little bit about it is that it’s a filter only (albeit very good), not a purifier. Unfortunately, the purifiers don’t have the capacity that this filter has. This works out to the fact that the unit can effectively remove all bacteria and cysts — and of course cloudiness — in water, but theoretically it can’t remove viruses due to their being far smaller than the pore size (unless they electrostatically attach themselves to a particle which can be filtered out by the unit). It also means that it doesn’t remove any other contaminants smaller than 0.2 microns, including the usual nasties one might think of such as dissolved heavy metals, pesticides and other such nasty contaminants, and the more benign but nonetheless undesirable tastes, odours and colours that aren’t due to cloudiness.

There are two ways of dealing with these issues:

1) Choose a clear water source — that you might be tempted to drink without treating it at all (your natural “yuck” factor will help you out with this) — and this will reduce the likelihood that these are problems to begin with. By itself, most people — including myself, a trained water techie — can’t just look at clear water and tell whether it’s contaminated with the poop of 30 deer 100 feet upstream, or the dumpings from some illegal leather tanning shop 200 feet upstream. But, generally, you can tell the difference between clear, running water in the middle of the woods far away from just about anything and that doesn’t have any smells to it, and stagnant, cloudy and smelly water in the ditch surrounding a garage.

2) Bring around a small bottle filled with bleach and an eye dropper (*). I find that depending on the water source and the strength of the bleach (typically 4% to 6% sodium hypochlorite), 1 to 3 drops per imperial gallon (4.5 litres) has worked well on the filtered water. Melted snow from my cottage could do with 1/2 drop per imperial gallon, given that the bleach taste still often comes through quite distinctly on such (presumably) relatively pure water. As a reference, the USEPA (here’s my archive) recommends to use two drops per quart when using bleach to disinfect untreated water, or about 8 drops per US gallon (3.78 litres), or about 9 drops per imperial gallon (4.5 litres).

(*) This won’t deal with a bunch of dissolved metals, and can’t completely deal with tough contaminants, so choose your water source carefully!

Now, putting aside that I’m a water techie, why would I, who stopped being involved in Scouting and most forms of camping and hiking in 1999, need such a device?

The family cottage doesn’t have running water in the winter, and I usually spend a week over Christmas and typically a weekend a month at the cottage over winter, when the water is off. I’ve been starting to get tired of carrying up big jugs filled with water. I’ve been getting tired of running out of water or at least having to be careful about how I use water. And, particularly, I’ve been getting tired of depending on a few neighbours for their goodwill. The operative notion here is “depending”; a lack of goodwill is not the issue, although the variability of whether or not two of the immediate neighbours would be around all the time is a concern alongside the inconvenience of having to go out to get clean drinking water in the middle of washing dishes.

One of the first things I had to figure out the hard way is the importance of keeping the unit clean (go figure, a water techie needing to be reminded of the importance of keeping drinking water treatment equipment clean): Over almost two weeks in the summer, I’d used it three times, and ended up with a good case of diarrhea which took a couple of weeks to clear up. So note to myself, and those considering buying any camping water filter: Keep the unit and the outlet hose in particular clean — it can get contaminated easily — and when you’re going to leave it sitting around for more than a day or two or pack it away for a while, run a bleach solution through it first and dry it out.

So, does the filter work? And do I get the runs any more?

Of course, and of course not.

This year over Christmas, I found it quite useful, although I did bring up a good supply of water anyway to begin with, given that I was coming up for a week and the long-awaited testing grounds had finally arrived. I needed some kind of starting point, in case I found out that “making” water was a lot more work than I’d bargained for, especially given all the freezer cooking (and therefore dish washing) I do over that period.

I also confirmed what I had begun observing for years while melting snow for things that didn’t require drinking-quality water: You’d be surprised how much dirt and debris comes through when melting “pristine” snow in the middle of cottage country, far away from the city. It’s but a little more appetizing for drinking, cooking or rinsing the dishes than dishwater — so of course I don’t bother filtering the melted snow for my “put the dirty dishes in hot soapy dishwater” part, but of course I use filtered water for rinsing the dishes.

Regarding the amount of bleach to use, I have found that the filtered water from melting snow needs about a drop per imperial gallon, while the filtered lake water can handle about two drops per imperial gallon, before a distinct bleach taste comes through. This is a little testing based on working with the filtered water and after having first consulted some tables on how many drops of bleach per litre to use for treating water (here’s my archive) (instead of just calculating it myself). As a reference, the USEPA (here’s my archive) recommends to use two drops per quart when using bleach to disinfect untreated water, or about 8 drops per US gallon (3.78 litres), or about 9 drops per imperial gallon (4.5 litres).

Regarding the “one litre per minute” claim, it mostly works out to that, sort of, I guess — which means, not really. In practice, though, I suspect that that’s based on filling up one litre or one quart water bottles commonly used, especially in camping and hiking circles. For larger amounts of water, it takes longer. The best test I’ve had — since filtering water while being distracted by the TV at the cottage isn’t much of a test — was when I recently filtered about 23 litres of melted snow undistracted for a future batch of beer, and it took me about 40 to 45 minutes. This admittedly but importantly included a stop about halfway through to open up the filter and clean the ceramic filter, which had become sufficiently dirty from the dirt in the “clean” snow that I’d melted, making filtering the water difficult. A comparison between the 100 metre race and the 3,000 metre race in the Olympics would be apt: You sprint in the former race, but you pace yourself at a somewhat slower running speed in the latter in order not to get too tired right away and be able to make it to the end of the race.

Anyway, I like the filter, and it should get several years’ worth of use before I have to start thinking about buying a replacement filter cartridge.

Update 08 June 2016: Katadyn water filter capacity — update

Canada Day and my beer

I’m just about finished cleaning and sorting all the beer bottles from yesterday’s big Canada Day festivities in Montreal West, Quebec.

For the past 14 years I’ve held what I believe to be the most critical job — certainly when it comes to efficiency, productivity, and morale — to the success of the event. Hence, with all due respect to the following people, as well as Paula and Joan and all the other critical volunteers without whom I wouldn’t be able hold such a prestigious position:

It’s more important that the Parade Marshall’s job. They just have to dress up, wave a big stick, and walk at the front of the parade.

It’s more important than the Mayor’s job. They just have to make a speech and lead everyone in singing “O Canada”.

It’s more important than the job of the nice guys who set up and light the fireworks. Hey, it’s the fireworks themselves that do the real job there, anyway.

It’s certainly on par with the fantastic people who run the beer tent (Hi Wayne and Sam!)

With this last we’re getting into the critical area: The fantastic people who run the barbecues cooking all the food for the public to come and consume. I’m one of this group. But, my job is more important that cooking burgers, hot dogs, buns, or cutting up all the tomatoes and onions and the like in preparation of the evening.

I serve the beer to, and only to, this fine crew of people who run the barbecues. Heck, I even get to serve the Mayor. (Glad you liked my beer, Mr. Masella!)

Every year for the past 22 years, with about five exceptions, I’ve been involved one way or another at the Montreal West Canada celebrations volunteering to make the event happen. For the past 18 years (plus the first year), I’ve been involved with the barbecues. For the past 14 years, I’ve held the above-mentioned prestigious position.

I love it. I love serving people. I love the accolades. I love the attention. I love bragging in the admittedly deluded way that I am right now that I hold the most important position of the day. And, for the past four years, I love all the extra compliments I get about supplying my own beer. The best part? This year I had three varieties of beer, instead of one variety the first year, and two in the intervening years. And, it seems from the roughly equal distribution of how much beer I have left from each variety, that all three were roughly as popular as each other.

This year I had 33 x 1.14L bottles of my beer, plus of course the corresponding extra regular sized bottles to go along with it. Overall I made about 75L of beer with Canada Day in mind, knowing that I’d have plenty left over of course. That I served the 33 bottles plus another 24 regular bottles says something about how large and thirsty my group is, considering that I also serve wine, water, soft drinks and the like.

One of the things I also found out last night, contrary to my experience last year with only about 20 such bottles, serving out of these 1.1L bottles is a charm instead of having to bottle that amount of beer in regular bottles and then cap them all, and then serve them individually. Although admittedly this last part is actually not necessarily the hardest part. But serving 3-4 beers out of a single bottle proved to be easy and convenient. And keeping track was easy: The big cooler had bottles that either had no elastic around the neck, or did. The third cooler had the third kind of beer. Keeping track, in practice, was quite easy.

And here’s the other part of what has me hyped about this post: The numbers.

33 x 1.14L bottles of beer served — about 37.6L
34 x 341mL bottles of beer served — about 8.2L more served
total of 45.8L of beer served just to the BBQ crew

This is the equivalent of about 130 beers served, if you take out the one 1.14L bottle that didn’t carbonate and was served to the grass. This is pretty strong — if there’s a downpour, I usually serve in the area of 80 beers. If it’s nice like it was yesterday, I usually serve about 100 to 120 beers; one year, I figure I served as much as 160 beers.

Now of that, I had made, as I said earlier, about 75L of beer for the event. So that’s about 61% of the beer I made for the occasion.

And more numbers:

After having collected all sorts of beer bottles off the side of the road, in bushes, and just about anywhere else that my travels take me, today I’ll be returning about 161 SURPLUS empty beer bottles that I’ve collected over the past year. That doesn’t include the 90 that are still full, but then again last year at this time I made a similar bottle return and kept to the order of 80 to 90 such bottles that were either full or empty — in order, of course, to be able to have enough bottles for the following batch of beer.

And of course, the above-mentioned 33 x 1.14L bottles won’t be returned; I’ll be keeping them for next year’s Canada Day beer!

Google Maps seems to need to learn that some streets go East AND West

I think that Google Maps is overlooking a basic function: In the real world, people sometimes go east, and sometimes go west.

Yesterday for the third time in a couple of years I relied upon Google Maps for directions and was sent to the wrong place. Caveat Emptor strikes again.

In Montreal, east-west streets which bisect St. Laurent Boulevard (which, no surprise, goes sort of north-south), start their numbering in both east and west directions from there. Hence you can have two equally valid addresses on a given street, given the proviso that one is designated as “East” and the other “West”. (Hey! It’s Captain Obvious!)

Fortunately, the address I was looking for was 151; during an hour of going around the neighbourhood looking for parking around “151 Laurier” (East as proposed by Google Maps), I found out that that address wasn’t a dépanneur that sells a huge variety of microbrewery beers, and looked like it never was, and finally decided to go further down the street looking for similar businesses. I suddenly had a V-8 moment and realized “Ooops what about 151 Laurier WEST?” I high-tailed it in the opposite direction and found the business in question. And to my disappointment, they were out of the particular beer I was seeking — Weizenbock, by La Brasserie Les Trois Mousquetaires, which has replaced my previous definition of ambrosia, Trois Pistoles by Unibroue.

Twice before I have had similar experiences:

About a year ago, while in Western Canada in completely unfamiliar territory on a business trip, I had looked up a client’s address, and not knowing about any local east/west splits that addresses on the Trans-Canada Highway may have in that locality, I tried to find the address, on the east end of town, that Google Maps had provided; I was about 45 minutes late by the time I finally managed to suspect that my client’s address was a “West” address and got there.

And just to quash any participant in the Peanut Gallery out there about to say “Aha well when using Google Maps you should know that in such cases they’ll always send you to the East address, so be sure to always check both!” a couple of years ago I had looked up a local address for client, and Google sent me to Gouin Boulevard West here in Montreal, a solid 45 minute drive away from my client’s Gouin Boulevard East address.

Now the Peanut Gallery may have a point: In the real world, people sometimes go east, and sometimes go west. And when it comes to using a free online service, you get what you paid for. As such, when looking up an address on any online service, one should notice “Hmmm this is an east-west street which may bisect such and such a street and as such have East addresses and West addresses; I should specify both east and west in my address search.”

But I wonder how many other people place enough faith in Google that under such circumstances — such as when they don’t know that there’s an East and West of a given street — they would reasonably expect in the case that a street has valid East addresses and valid West addresses (and likewise for North and South addresses) that Google’s response page would come back with “Did you mean (A) 151 Laurier East, or did you mean (B) 151 Laurier West?” Certainly Google seems good enough at asking such a question when you slightly misspell a street or city name, or decides that it doesn’t recognize the address you supply and provide you with half a dozen options, as often spread across the country as spread across the city.