How To Refill & Congratulations Are In Order

For the second time, St. George Spirits has achieved MAXIMUM HONOR.  If you have ever gone for a tasting and wondered why the staff seems to vibrate through walls, this is why:

MAXIMUM HONOR, Bottle 2
MAXIMUM HONOR, achieved over the span of 5 months

If you too would like to achieve GREAT HONOR, refills are relatively easy to do.  You just have to do the following things:

  1. Rinse out your bottle.
  2. Put your name somewhere on the label in permanent marker.
  3. Put the bottle back in the shipper it was sent to you in and return it to my address on the box.  While I sent it out to you with fast shipping, there is no need for the empty bottle to come back with any speed.
  4. Send an email to let me know to expect it.  In return, I will send you a 10% off coupon code to purchase your refill of BBotE as I would like to promote the re-use of the bottles.
  5. Wait impatiently, staring at your mailbox and harassing you postal carrier, repeatedly asking, “Is it here yet?  How ’bout now?”

But I hear the head scratching from the folks who purchased their bottles from your local BBotE Pimps or Pimpstresses as you wonder how you can get refills too.  ‘Tis easy.  Do Steps 1 & 2, but return your bottle to your respective Pimp/Pimpstress as they will be sending an empty Case O’ Caffeination back to me.  When the case returns, your refilled bottle will be in there.

Even More Q&A

Okay, you all are mail-bombing me and it is fantastic.  I love me some “Ask Dr. Science” action while wielding a delicious cocktail.  Bringing it on thusly:

Question 1: So, of the different Steins of Science, which one is best?  These things are expensive and I want to get the best one.

Answer: This is like going to the slave market and asking a mother which of her children will provide good value for money. But, if I were going to judge strictly on beverage temperature stability I’d have to say that the 1000ml is your best performer.  The cryostat properties are primarily a function of the ratio of vessel volume to liquid surface area exposed to air.

Let’s get numerical and create a “Beer Coldness Number” for the steins, AKA the volume to exposed surface area ratio, where lower is better: 350ml = 10.996, 665ml = 5.787, 1000ml = 3.848, 1900ml = 5.952, and 4300ml = 3.735.

Of the five, the 4300ml monster actually has the least exposed surface area for the liquid volume…but I somewhat doubt you’ll be wandering into a bar with the 4300ml.  The 1000ml stein is a more reasonable size to confront the average bartender with and the 4300ml is only a marginal improvement in relative performance.

Which brings us to our next question…

Question 2: Will bartenders really serve me in these steins?

Answer: Mainly depends on how awesome your bartender is and if the place suffers from a bad case of computers.  I find that the 665ml tends to be the most readily accepted size in my bar wanderings.

More seriously, most bar order tracking software has only been programmed to cope with pints & halves.  Outside of German restaurants and the nation of Germany proper, the computer probably isn’t programmed to cope with 1000ml servings.  Getting served with the half (350ml) and the imperial pint sized stein (665ml) hasn’t been a problem outside of Australia so far.  Bars without newfangled order tracking systems tend to be more loose and free with what they’re willing to serve in, although they are welcome to be similarly loose and free with the price they charge you (I’m looking at you, England).

Now, the tricky part is does your stein fit under their taps?  Shockingly, this has been a problem with the 1000ml at some places. To the best of my knowledge, no one has tried to take a 4300ml into a bar…

Oh, protip, some places will try to do a favor and stick your stein in the dishwasher to clean it.  DON’T let them do this.  Just water rinse.

Further Q&A, with Herr Direktor Funranium

Hello everybody.  Since last we spoke more questions have rolled in and BBotE & Steins of Science have rolled out to new countries.  Without further ado, your paraphrased & consolidated questions and my answers:

Question 1: “I saw what *INSERT PERSONAGE OF FANBOY ADORATION HERE* said about your stuff.  Can you introduce me to them?”

No, I can’t.  Honestly, awesome people are, first and foremost, people.  The best thing to do in order to get to know people is to say hello to them.  This is how I got to talking to them.  Being a nutter doing crazy things with scientific apparatus and alcohol helped in my case, but it is just as likely to chase people away too (trust me).  So, if they’ve made a publicly available way to contact them, drop them a line.  The worst that can happen is that they ignore you as you fall into the shuffle of several other thousand people vigorously waving their hands for attention too.

Question 2: “I really love *INSERT VARIETAL OF COFFEE HERE*.  Have you tried it as a Black Blood of the Earth yet?”

Answer: Go digging back through the Coffee News archive and you can see the trials so far that I’ve committed to the permanent record.  Not all BBotEs have been resounding successes which is why the five that are available are the ones they are.  Beyond being delicious, the coffee has to yield a replicable BBotE, which is sometimes tricky with light and medium roasts.  I will generally try a given varietal or roast two or three times from a couple different sources before I truly fire it.  Sulawesi and most any french roast have proven to be Not Good with BBotE processing.

Question 3: “I’ve got a liquid nitrogen dewar here in the lab.  It looks like all you did was slap a handle on one and I can do that myself.  Did you know that there are cheap dewars available on eBay?”

Answer: Okay, here’s where you guys tempt me back to my day job safety professional role.  There is a reason I use new dewars to build the Steins of Science, namely you have no idea where a used dewar has been and what has been done in it and/or around it. But I hear you thinking, “This dewar is in my lab.  I bought it.  I know exactly what I’ve done with it and all it has ever held is liquid nitrogen.”  To which I can only say, “Are you sure?”

Benchtop dewars are normally used to dip a piece of glassware known as a cold tip into the liquid nitrogen to help with extraction processes while doing chemistry (yes, I know that is a vague and unspecific explanation).  The problem is that sometimes these cold tips break and then whatever chemistry you were doing is now in your dewar along with the liquid nitrogen.  Liquid nitrogen is inert; your now failed bit of chemistry that was in the cold tip may not be.  There is also the fact that dewars tend to get stored under fume hood, sinks, and other generally low places where things can get into them from work above.

Sure, you can do some very thorough chemical cleaning to make it safe again but, really, no thank you.  I’ll take a new dewar, thanks.

Also, just putting a handle on is not quite as easy as it sounds.  Doing it without causing shrapnel as you are holding the dewar is the challenge.

Question 4: “Where is the Scientific Drinking World Tour going to next?”

Answer: Honestly, I haven’t the foggiest.  There’s no planned travel on the docket until my birthday in early November and that’s not likely to go further than South Lake Tahoe, CA or Reno, NV.  Otherwise, I ‘ll be doing my usual puttering around the SF Bay Area with the occasional side trip to Monterey & Santa Cruz.  There is a slim chance that I will be going to Fairbanks, AK next June or possibly upstate NY.  I find planning more than 48hrs into the future seems to be difficult these days, so who knows.

Question 5: “What the deal with St. George Spirits showing up all the time?  Do you work there or something?”

Answer: No, I don’t work there but there are days that I wish I did.  To me, it is the happiest place on Earth.  Imagine, if you will, people that get to do all the fun I do but scaled up by four orders of magnitude…WITH ALCOHOL.  The folks there have a definite appreciation for improving life with More Awesome.

More importantly, the employees of the distillery and more than a few of their customers have extremely well refined palates.  They are my favorite guinea pigs.  I know that if a BBotE can pass their review, I’ve made something worthwhile.  In particular, without a few not-so-gentle swift kicks from Andie Ferman there wouldn’t be a Funranium Labs.  She rather insisted that I share with the world.

Alright.  The Final Countdown has tolled in the office, which means it is time to head to the bar.  Take care, Internet.

Re-announcing The BBotE Pimpstresses & Brand New Pimp

Sometime in the darkest depths of August, a migration happened and Funranium Labs molted from it’s spring plumage to the new Iteration 4.0 feathers.  Unfortunately, some things didn’t quite survive the transfer and a couple posts were lost.  One of those posts was the announcement of the local availability of Black Blood of the Earth in a few select cities other than the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.  At the time it was just BBotE Pimpstresses Greta and Natara, in Portland (PDX) and Los Angeles respectively, but now I can happily share that we have our very first BBotE Pimp of Greater Detroit, Ben!

The BBotE Pimpstresses & Pimp are self-nominated devotees to the cause of caffeination that have taken it upon themselves to make BBotE more readily available to their locales.  By shipping bottles to them in large quantity, they can then pass BBotE along to you with minimal pain due to packaging & postage costs.  750ml bottles are available in Portland and Los Angeles for $45.  I also have reliable reporting that in Los Angeles the bottles have been subdivided into one-shot 40ml test tubes tasters for $5 a piece.  Starting next Friday, Detroit will be in possession of a case of 375ml bottles that will be available fo $30 a piece.

How do you get these local bottles?  Well, you contact your local BBotE Pimp/Pimpstress.  Here’s how:

For Greater Portland, please contact Greta [at] pdxyar [dot] org.  She is happy to bring the piratical fighting art of twin axe and coffee wielding to PDX.  Oh, she also fights cancer…though not necessarily with an axe.

You may reach the BBotE Pimpstress of Greater Los Angeles, Natara, funranium [dot] la [at] usefulmonkey [dot] net.  When not keeping the Dream Factory humming with caffeine, she spends much of her time herding the Burning Man community of LA and seeking the spiritual enlightenment that will let her cope with the the aforementioned herding.

And now, the BBotE Pimp of Greater Detroit, or Delta City if you are an OCP shareholder, Ben.  Ben is a tattoo artisan who’s heart is as dark as his metal and his coffee.  I welcome him to my shadowy cabal for world domination.  If you are in the Greater Detroit area and in need of a BBotE fix, you may drop him an email at via benjamineliasz [at] gmail [dot] com.

Well, *MY* Table Is Ready For Oktoberfest

After a fair bit of work, the steins for Funranium Labs’ table at Oktoberfest (Tyrolean Inn in Ben Lomond, CA) are ready.  Odds are on favor they will be seeing good hoisting each weekend from now until mid-October as delicious pork products, beer, and sauerkraut are to be had everywhere I turn! Speisekammer in Alameda, CA and Bavarian World in Reno, NV come to mind.  Oh, to be in the Fest Tent proper…

Prost!

Funranium Labs Is Ready For Oktoberfest...the little stein is for schnapps

A Field Trip To NASA Ames/Moffett Field

Let me start with this, zeppelin hangars are very large.

Hangars 2 and 3

Hangar One, East from the RunwayThey may look big from the freeway but you need to enter the cavernous space to get the full enormity; only the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center has been comparable. They were also built around the same time as the last proper zeppelins, which is to say prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act and OSHA.  Plummeting to one’s death from the arch while working on an airship was definitely considered bad form, but hardly a thing one would call a stop work order for.  It was a different time.  Americans are now a soft people and I, as a personal representative of Americaness, am hardly fit enough to climb the concerning ladder/staircases of Moffett Field’s Hangar 2.

This trip all began back in May when John, a machinist at Ames, asked if I’d be interested in a tour of the hangars if he could wrangle one.  I said hell yes and asked if my friend Erik could join us.  I got told to hold my horses and to wait and see if he could make the excursion even happen first.  Sadly, Erik died the week after John made the tentative offer and it took four months to wrangle a trip outsiders could go on.  This most definitely was a trip Erik would have enjoyed.  It was dirty, it was normally inaccessible, and it was full of Science and History.

First off, Hangar 2:

Hangar 2 Interior, Facing North
Hangar 2 interior, Facing North

The smallest of the three hangars and occasional former home of the ZR-3 Los Angeles. It is where Airship Ventures, AKA the ad blimps you see cruising the Bay Area, are based. Additionally, this is where the experimental helium turbine that went up over Haiti for emergency generation and comms after the earthquake lives. And that all is in just the rearmost tenth of the hangar in this shot (PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: NASA would be quite happy to lease space for joint ventures). The rest is mostly littered with the detritus of 30 years of projects that seem to come to a resting place here. For example, this was a mirror mount for a telescope, not a Stargate prototype:

Not The Stargate

With no small amount of effort, I scaled the hairy with dry rot wooden structure of the hangar with John and our representative from flight ops. My Lovely Assistant declared the ground to be quite good for her and no way was she going up. I did not die, though a heart attack seemed possible, even likely, from time to time while making the long ascent. It was more comfortable than the gangsta lean ascent I experience scaling the staircase of the dome on St. Peter’s in Rome however. Sadly, by the time I got to the top I was too tired and it was too dark up there to take any pictures competently and the blurry shot below was the best I managed. My legs were wobbling for the rest of the day after getting back down.

Half-way up, looking southHangar 3 is a fair bit wider than Hangar 2, possibly intended as a home for ZRS-4 Akron if it ever showed up at the same time as ZRS-5 Macon. Currently, it’s floor is split about 50/50 between Space Systems Loral satellite projects and NASA/Navy airframe restoration, mainly for museum pieces. I’d had enough climbing, so we contented ourselves with exploring the antiquities. These two, a piece of the Los Angeles‘ airframe and the gas envelope sleeve removal man’s extension ladder were of particular interest:

Piece of Zeppelin Airframe
Piece of Zeppelin Airframe

Zeppelin Servicing Extension Ladder

Hangar 1 was built to house the Macon but barely saw use before the airship crashed off of Big Sur in 1935. Sadly, this building will be gone soon as it gets reduced to a whalebone skeleton for decontamination and hazardous materials disposal. The skin of the building is lead painted asbestos tiles that are cemented together with PCBs. If only we could find a way to make it radioactive too so that it would be a maximally difficult to dispose of as toxic waste. It’s sad because the building is quite beautiful with corrugated glass windows (!), but environmental concerns trump historical site registry for this one. The Navy claims they will treat the skeleton to preserve it so that a new skin could be built if anyone were interested, but good luck to that I say. A new skin needs to be installed as the old is removed if things are to be properly preserved.

Hangar One - South Door
Hangar One, South Door Up Close & Personal

Moving on. Here’s me with my head in the breach of the Supergun:

Lock and Load!

This is a 16″ gun that’s been reamed out to 17″ and then sleeved in a larger barrel is part of the High Pressure Test Facility.   Here they fire small scale models from what are, seriously, modified WWII battleship deck guns re-tasked for SCIENCE! down a Schlieren photography rig at a very, very thick target at Mach Lots.  I got taken for the tour of all the armor plate patches and cement repairs from where models went off axis and went spang.  The thumb sized Apollo capsule went through 2″ of steel and 2′ of reinforced concrete when there was a little bit of a whoopsie.  How do I know this is a WWII battleship deck gun you ask?  Well, how about this:

Once upon a time you might have gotten one of these at the surplus store too...

16″ Mark 6 Model 1, 1942

This means I have now seen two out of the three of the Superguns. I’m going to need a Q clearance again if I want to see JASPER, however.

I also got to go wandering around inside of the Unitary Wind Tunnel but none of those pictures came out.

In summation, it is sad to see many Big Science facilities barely used due to lack of funding and interest.  Of everywhere I went, the Supergun sees the most business.  All the other facilities I visited seem to be largely used as storage for files and equipment from “When We Did Stuff”.  Oh, I’m told the computational areas see a great deal of action but eventually you have to make a model into reality and we don’t seem to be doing that much anymore.

As Warren Ellis says, DO SOMETHING.

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!”

Oktoberfest Coupon

You’ve tasted Blood and now you want more.  Well, I’m not surprised.

(That’s right, I just combined Rocky Horror and Flight of the Conchords there with consummate skill.)

Whether you are after another hit of Black Blood of the Earth (perhaps your first) or need proper Scientific Drinking gear for the upcoming beery festivities, I’m here to help.  Using the coupon code “Oktoberfest”  at checkout will get you 10% off your purchase.

But the coupon ends the same time proper Oktoberfest does on the 4th of October, so act now while the stars are right!  Cthulhu lies sleeping but you should not!

People Playing With Their Steins Of Science

Once a stein leaves my hands into the cruel, uncaring world of the United States Postal Service, I occasionally spare a thought to wonder what is happening to them out in the big wide world.  Sometimes people will send me a picture of themselves with their Stein of Science in action for addition to the Gallery of the Steinwielders.

(I have high hopes of reconstituting the Gallery of Steinwielders from website Iteration 1 again, as time permits.  If you send me an action shot and it doesn’t promptly appear, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you.  It just means that the world is a busy place, especially for Herr Direktor Funranium and his vaguely mild-mannered radiation wrangling alter ego.)

And then sometimes people do things like this.  I apologize if you get a crick in your neck watching this, but Steinwielder Jessica in Portland was a little bit excited while filming.

Steinwielder Jessica, Her Mice and Her Stein

It is worth noting, that’s a 2/3 of a degree per hour by her process equipment.  She also noted to me that the lid was off and she was taking sips off her soda while doing this or, as she put it, “Adding her dirty monkey heat to the drink.”  Thank you for sharing, Jessica!

Secondly, this was shared by Steinwielder Tommy in West Virgina who wanted the old bare glass style I used to make with the silvered glass look but saw the wisdom of the full shield (bare glass is pretty, but no protection for the dewar vessel…or you).  This did not change his desire for shininess, however.  While sitting in front of the TV, he spent a half hour episode of ***INSERT BRAIN CANDY HERE*** idly polishing the brushed aluminum full metal jacket with a Cape Cod Cloth.  The results, as you can see below, are remarkable.  Check out all that majesty!