Malabar Experimention II

As stated back in June, I declared Malabar a light roast worth exploring again some point in the future.  The future was yesterday.

I found the “green” and cool flavor of the Malabar to be an interesting mouth feel and good flavor.  The question I had whether the flavor was replicable with BBotE processing.  Light roasts are problematic at the best of times because there is just so much there to extract.  Dark roasts have the advantage of driving of light oils and caramelizing what remains.  The challenge is not only getting something good, but to do it more than once; Panama is the only success so far.

Enough blather.  The results, courtesy of my favorite guinea pigs at the tasting room of St. George Spirits.

Straight: pipe tobacco, creamy, bittersweet chocolate, green, not quite menthol

Vodka addition test: honey again

In summation, it is replicable and it is good.  Unfortunately, the Santa Cruz Roasting Company is roughly 80mi away.  This means potential production of Malabar is will be by special request only.  However, I do have 2L left over from this test run.  If you are a brave soul, I have put two bottles in the Prototypes & Clearance that I will take back down on October 4th, the end of the Oktoberfest 10% off coupon.  Grab them…and ride as a leader of men.  Or hamsters.  Whatever.  We don’t judge here at Funranium Labs.

Labor Day BBotE Cocktail Experiments

Several days ago, Test Subject & Steinwielder Langford declared that he had created, and I quote, “the new most besterist drink ever with BBotE”.  I suspect he may have been hep’d up on goofballs at the time with that use/abuse of grammar.  His recipe:

  • 1/3 Cup BBotE (yes, slightly unhealthy amount), 1 Cup moo of choice (we made two batches, one with Fat Free and one with Low Fat – Both goodness), 1/4 block of Mexican Hot Chocolate, finely grated (available in your local Mexican market)
    …Bit o’ Mint (fresh or otherwise)
    Ice (small cubes work better)

    Melt Mexican Chocolate into Moo until dissolved. [You can modify this set and use a Mexican Hot Chocolate mix package if you prefer]

    After mixed, pour Choco-moo into blender. Add BBotE and Ice (aprox 1 cup).

    Blend until desired thickness is reached – we preferred a “thick shake” level, but the longer you blend it the thinner the mixture will become.

While this recipe is delicious, I couldn’t help but look at it and note that there is a distinct lack of alcohol.  The idea of a BBotE Mexican hot chocolate was tempting and the brain said that this flavor might be achieved with amaretto and tequila (in this case St. George Spirit’s Agua Azul Cristal “agave spirit”).  I was skeptical of my brain because it has thought things like this before and my tongue has strenuously disagreed.  Also, as long as I was breaking out the labware and going to be mixing anyway, my beloved Filthy Assistant suggested that I try to whip her up something with Drambuie, The Drink That Satisfies (says so on the label and everything).

NOTE: my girlfriend is part hummingbird with a sweet tooth that puts my pre-diagnosis preference for sweets to shame.  Seriously.  I’m off by orders of magnitude with respect to her.

Drink 1: Hummingbird Coffee Honey

Hummingbird Coffee Honey

Labor Day Drink 1: Hummingbird Coffee Honey

Initial mix – 10ml Drambuie to 10ml BBotE (Kona)

Result – honey front with a very long sweet chocolate/coffee aftertaste.  Quote: “Don’t screw with it.  It’s fine like that.  You got it in one.”

Ha.  Not likely.

Second mix – 17.5ml Drambuie to 20ml BBotE (Kona)

Result – stronger coffee flavor with spearmint overtones for me.  Filthy Assistant girlfriend hands the glass back asks me to put it back the way it was in the initial mix.

Drink 2 –  Jalisco Hot Chocolate

Jalisco Hot Chocolate

Labor Day Drink 2 - Jalisco Hot Chocolate

Initial mix – 5ml amaretto, 10ml “agave spirit”, 20ml BBotE (Kona)

Result – deliciously bittersweet chocolate flavor with the hint of almonds I associate with Mexican hot chocolate.  The Agua Azul added a nice salt bite.  I declared success and tripled the batch size and added an ice cube.

We at Funranium Labs are now buzzing nicely and ready for holiday hilarity.  Happy three day weekend, my sweet America.  To the rest of the world…a three day weekend is only a call-in sick away.

The Joy Of The Barter Economy

Once upon a time, before departing for australia, Test Subject Mickie Rat asked if he could get a bottle of Kona BBotE for the upcoming tour his band, The Secretions (blog to be found here), were about to embark on.  As the day for hand-off approached, finances became dire and it was clear that money was best devoted to the gas tank for the tour and food so they didn’t starve whilst rocking.  After some brief consideration that helping make music happen was a good thing, I told him, “You know, I’ve already made it, it’s going to a good home.   I’ll give it to you provided you give Funranium Labs the pimping too.”

When he showed up in the Ratmobile, he gave me a Secretions belt buckle in thanks.  Mickie, thank you much for keeping my pants off the ground in the event of the A to Z alien/zombie attack.  Oh, and for some mighty fine punk music too.  I find it is necessary to have angry music to do math properly and The Secretions make the equations flow for me.

"We Secrete - You Suck"Now, it has come to my attention that not all consumers of BBotE are high-falutin’ investment banker nuclear rocket surgeon physicists.  Many are artists, writers, and musicians.  I respect the creation of art mainly due to my own incompetence at it.  I’ve choked on paint, fumbled words, and managed to bleed just touching a bass guitar but man do I think it’s important.

If you are a broke and starving artist but in desperate need of BBotE or a Stein of Science and willing to engage in the time honored tradition of barter, I am quite willing to do so.  Heck, the beauty of the current incarnation of Funranium Labs you are enjoying now is brought to you by the power of barter.  The worst I can say is no*.

*: Actually, I know many worse words, phrases and creative imagery.  But the worst I’m likely to say is no.

A Moment To Say Thank You

As Herr Direktor Funranium, I have a great deal of  fun being a semi-inebriated raconteur expounding upon things scientific and being a general ass online.

But as Phil Broughton, I  have had far more pleasure with all the questions and conversation that have come my way in the last year since the Steins of Science and Black Blood of the Earth really came into being.  A bizarre stein in my hand has opened so many conversations in bars around the country, and in Australia and New Zealand, that I never would have otherwise had and led to new friends.  Deep down, I’m a teacher and it’s hard not to share and teach what I know with everyone.  I’ve talked to people around the world about their experiences with Coffee Gone Wrong and the most horrific/wonderful cocktails they’ve ever had.  In one case, I helped a man design an ideal chilled cocktail storage apparatus for hiking 5 days deep into the Sierras.  People have moved beyond mere morning caffeination rituals, to cocktails and gourmet meals using BBotE (like BBotE glazed roast suckling pig which I desperately want to taste) and then ask if I approve of their work.  Standing answer for approval of your experiments: as long as you’re all consenting adults, enjoy, but don’t be offended if I laugh sometimes.

But it might never have happened.  Both the steins and BBotE grew out of misfortune.  While I’d started messing with the initial work on BBotE in August of 2008, I didn’t have a burning need to DO SOMETHING until I got diagnosed with Type II diabetes in June 2009.  You’ll have to take my word for it that for this epicure, that diagnosis was just short of the end of the world.  The original Stein of Science, der Wissenschaftenstein #1, happened because I had my first day of unpaid leave from UC Berkeley, courtesy of the furlough program, and boredom got the better of me.

In short, I turned squeezed something good out of the two most unpleasant events that happened to me last year.  I never could have guessed how good and how much joy sharing them with the world would come back to me.

So, keep hitting me with your questions, comments and emails.   I never know what will inspire the next experiment or adventure.  Thank you for indulging my foolishness.

Now…where did I put that drink?

A Fireside Chat, With Herr Direktor Funranium

Hello Citizens, let’s chat.  This Herr Direktor Funranium and you’ve had some questions for me.  Rather than answer you one at a time, though I have done a few, let’s take this from the intimate to the public.  To the next level, as it were.  I’m ready to progress to this stage in our relationship.  A variety of questions from the last couple of weeks:

“What is your favorite flavor of BBotE?” – many people, most recently Mark of Troy, NY

Truly, this is like asking a parent which of their hyperactive children, running around the house setting the place on fire, they love the most.  Each has its own place in my heart and cocktails.  In terms of difficulty and thus pride in the result, I’d have to say that I am most proud of the Panama.  Light roasts are rather difficult to work with but so rewarding when you get it right.  Some, like Brasilia, have been disappointments and others, like Malabar, have not proven consistently reproducible in flavor.

“Can I be a pimpstress too?” – several people, most notably Rojir in Baltimore, MD

First off, you’re an hombre, Rojir.  Gender conversions for pimpstress duties are not included in the benefits package.  Ow, I think I just hurt myself with the pun there.

Maybe, perhaps.  Drop me a line and we’ll chat.  The duties aren’t rigorous, they pay is negligible, and it make you feel like the Avon Lady of Caffeine.  The main benefit is complimentary BBotE to keep you alert with your efforts.

“Seriously?  That much for shipping?  Can’t you just parcel post it for much cheaper?” – The Entire World Beyond America It Seems

Yes, I could parcel post BBotE, but I certainly wouldn’t want to drink it when it arrives.  I have to send it ridiculously expensive global express to make sure that the BBotE, a perishable good, arrives in foreign lands in a timely manner.

Steins of Science can go by slower shipping modes, but even that it isn’t all that much of a savings I’ve discovered.  Blame the high shipping costs on the rising cost of fuel, the decline of advertising mailers crashing the western postal systems, and quantum butterflies.  No one ever suspects butterflies.

This, inevitably, leads to the next question…

“Why don’t you ship BBotE in dry ice or chilled shippers?  You could ship more cheaply if you did.” – The Next Paragraph In Emails From The Entire Rest of The World Beyond America

I might saving on postage, which is questionable as chilled shippers are fairly heavy, but I certainly wouldn’t save on packaging and thus neither would you.  I mean, wow, are those expensive.  If you are selling a $400k bluefin tuna, I can see how they make economic sense.  For BBotE, I am content to use the nice insulated shipping boxes and, for The Case of Caffeination, throwing freezer gel blocks to add a little extra cold time.

Using dry ice actually turns your normal fragile, perishable goods shipment into a hazardous materials shipment. And if you are shipping it by air, which I certainly would be doing to foreign lands, you have to have FAA/IATA shipper certification or you have committed a serious federal pound-you-in-the-ass-prison offense for a private indivdual (you’re probably a terrorist in their eyes).  I don’t have this certification…yet.  Eventually I will, because shipping radioactive materials is necessary from time to time in the day job, but not right now.

“I’m getting married.  Can I get any kind of bulk discount on Steins of Science for my groomsmen?” – Nick in Sacramento, CA

Yup.  I live to bring the joy of Scientific Drinking to the world.  Drop me a line for discussion.

“I was reading about your BBotE and was wondering how you actually make this stuff, or is that a secret?”  -Dirk in ***UNKNOWN LOCATION***

Yes, it is a secret. Not going to go into great detail about the two years of process trial and error, as that’s where the Coca Cola-esque original formula trade secret action lies, but suffice it to say I started with the Toddy method and immediately ran face first into a wall of “This makes no sense. I think I can improve this.”

BBotE Experimentation: Southern Colombia (Huila) PLUS Firelit MkII

This week’s coffee experiment was Huila Province in southern Colombia.  Adventures in the land of dark roasts are always a safer proposition than light roasts as the long roasting process tends to make them all taste uniform in flavor to me, regardless of origin.  Which is to say: earthy, vaguely caramelized, and burnt toast-ish.  If you are uncertain of your beans, it is always a safer proposition to make a dark roast with them but some honestly need that high heat to get the oils to actually liberate in the bean, also known as “the first and second crack” (yes, I’m looking at you, Sumatra).

The Colombian, dark roast though it was, had a very nice Mexcian hot chocolate like aroma as a grind that gave me high hopes that it might persist in the BBotE.  I was not disappointed.  While decanting, there was an roasted almond aroma as I stood before The Apparatus, an aroma the persisted on the nose when drinking it later with my favorite Test Subjects at the St. George Distillery in Alameda, CA.

Tasted straight, the Colombian had a chocolate flavor, though much sharper than the Kona or Kenya.  As Test Subject Freshmaker  identified, it was a “nibby” chocoalte.  Luckily, they had some Tcho Chocolate nibs in the fridge in back for a compare and contrast.  Yup, the uppity whippersnapper was right.  The aftertaste had an interesting cool sensation, like menthol.

Vodka Test: after adding the small modicum of straight vodka, the “cool” volatilized and could be detected on the nose.  On tasting however, the nibby chocolate flavor had found an extra crushed red pepper spiciness to go with it, very reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate.

In conclusion, I’d be willing to do this again.  I’m not going to make it product option yet, but if you’d like to give it a go, drop me a line and we’ll see about making it happen.  After all, I’m now out of Colombia (experimental batches are normally small) and will happily take an excuse to make more.

In other news, remember a while back when I gushed with love for the Firelit coffee liqueur?  Well, it’s back again but this time it’s been made with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.  The flavor is different then the previous Yemen Saani, as you might expect.  In my opinion it has a more buttery, milk chocolate flavor with hints of apricot.  The Yemen supply went away remarkably fast, so I recommend not dawdling if you’d like some.

As the gem guys on QVC, Steve & Steve, used to say long ago, “You gotta swoop on this like a duck on june bug!”

Funranium Labs, Iteration 4

The slow and steady march of progress drag this website forward and away from the almost Geocities, nay, Angelfire-like quality it was when I first began construction on Iteration 1 back in January. My utmost thanks go to Steinwielders Brad and Jason for their efforts in making my foolish actions and words appear in a professional manner. Allow me to give a shout out to them thusly at (Jason) and Point to Point (Brad). Read more

A Caffeine Clarification

In response to an urgent missive that asked if I was adding an extra caffeine to BBotE (or, perhaps, massive quantities of speed) I must answer with a most emphatic “No”. He took a 50ml belt around 10pm before heading out the clubs, was still dancing long after the bar closed and, after willing himself to sleep sometime around 8am, woke up without the usual trashed feeling he got from his usual “Club Power Ups”.

Incidentally, I think someone’s been playing a bit much Mario.

While BBotE may indeed by the club drug of the future (new ad copy: “The dance-all-night pep of meth, but delicious and without losing teeth”), the only thing I’ve got in BBotE is what I can extract from the beans. Experience from environmental clean up operations tells me that nothing tends to grow well in the soils contaminated with methamphetamine and the precursor chemicals, so the bean growers around the world probably aren’t lacing their beans with it.

The average coffee bean has somewhere between 10-20mg of caffeine in it, depending on varietal.  By comparison, the average 8oz cup of drip coffee has approximately 120mg of caffeine.  The is speaks to the efficiency of the normal extraction techniques as I somewhat expect that we all use more than six beans to make a cup of coffee.

So, no, there is no need to add extra caffeine.  There is plenty there to work with in the beans, you just have to work a bit to get at it.  Besides, the happy days of getting reagent grade chemicals by mail order is receding further into the sunset.  Alas…

More Awesome For The Entire World

My time in Australia and New Zealand taught me several important lessons:

1) Winter is the best time to visit the antipodes.  Most of the unpleasant wildlife is hiding from the elements.  Humans, luckily, have mastered pants technology and can cope with inclement weather.  Sadly, winter does limit the scantily clad on display.  Take the good with the bad, I suppose.

2) Asia and Australia go to New Zealand to ski in austral winter.  Sure, they have their own snow at that time of year, but New Zealand’s is nicer.  Late June/late July is not yet peak season so good deals are still available for lodging.  Cheap flights…less so.

3) New Zealand’s immigration/customs authority has gotten less friendly since I last visited 7 years ago after spending a year in Antarctica.  They are quite stringent about you providing proof of a departing flight and a visa to prove that you can go where said flight declares as its destination.  It seems that some cheeky monkeys discovered that quite a deal could be had by buying a one way ticket to New Zealand and then letting the Kiwis pick up the tab for sending them home by deportation.  Not likely to permit you a return visit, but good value travel.

Now, on to more salient observations about beer.

I am to shocked to report that for the majority of establishments in Australia, their default serving size is a 330 fl.oz. (AKA half imperial pint) glass.  This left my Stein of Science regularly half full and me pouting for more beer.  I attribute this to the harsh summers of Australia where serving more than a half pint of beer at a time would leave it warm and unpleasant before the drinker completed their glass.  It is a natural response, I suppose, when a superior drinking vessel is unavailable.

New Zealand, however, has hewed more closely to their cool Brittanic roots and still serves in proper imperial pints.  The United States has no excuse for the bastardization “standard pint” that we serve.  To me, it is as if the founding fathers are gypping me out of beer every time I go to the bar here.

However, the time of want for superior drinking vessel and BBotE is at an end!  Behold, the new international listings!  (edit: since superseded with a superior shipping module, all you have to do is enter you address anywhere in the world) The time has come, fair is fair…no longer must Australia suffer at the hands of warm beer, baked to 45 degrees just as Midnight Oil once sang.  You too may enjoy a beer or cocktail that maintains a nicely chilled temperature.

Oh, and the rest of the world, this applies to you too.

P.S. – Still working on the bulk shipping option to other lands.  A 12 pack of 1L bottles seems to be a bit heavier than the US Postal Service wants to cope with. More news as it becomes available.

Herr Dirketor Funranium, Down Under (100% Paul Hogan Free Content)

The quote of the trip so far: “I think that in the depth of winter, Australians have forgotten what summer is like and what it does to beer.  This thing is brilliant.  How many thousand have you sold to Queensland?”

Answer: None…yet.

Let me begin by thanking the exquisite attack hospitality of the people of Australia with their demands that I try their favorite beers.  A stein that is empty is a void that demands to be filled and no suggestion has been ignored so far and all enjoyed.  I do have to scoff at the declaration for one of the brews at the Lord Nelson Brewery that it was “very hoppy”.  The brewers of California are demented and fighting a war of nuclear escalation with their ever hoppier beers.  Like the decendents of white mice turning black in mutagenic defense against radiation in the MegaMouse Project, I’ve had to acclimate to the ambient beer.

The mother of the groom on being served a modicum of Kona BBotE declared in good British fashion, “Ooo, yummy!” with Wallace & Gromit cheese-related finger wriggles.  I’m calling that a win.  A budding librarian has her 2L of Ethiopian with gleam of delight & fear in her eye.  I look forward to hearing how it treats her.

I have, unfortunately, discovered that all the tales of indifference and horror attributed to Australian Post are entirely accurate.  There is a certain level of quantum uncertainty combined with a lackadaisical attitude that gives one the impression that an package will get there when a passing drunken traveler can be flagged down and bothered to care.  I realize this is a traditional postal service mode, but BBotE demands a higher level of professionalism.  Eventually, when sufficient money is waved in their faces, postal employees remember that they do have actual express mail options and have to go rummage for the forms and remember which buttons to press on the McMail Service register screen.

I did bring extra Steins of Science with me to the antipodes, but both the imperial pint FMJs have been claimed leaving only a 350ml and a 1000ml.  Unlike BBotE, the steins are not perishable and can be entrusted to the slow pace of Australian Post.  The listings are active on the main page, but I will refuse orders from anywhere outside Oz and NZ until the 13th of July.  I am all about the instant gratification.