Spruce Meadows

Spruce Meadows is the premiere equestrian sport venue in Canada and it is just 30 minutes from where I live. If you saw Ian Miller compete on Big Ben in the 80s and 90s on TV, it was probably at Spruce Meadows. When Amber told me I had the morning to myself during my first week off these summer holidays because she was taking the kids to Spruce Meadows, I offered to take the kids because I've wanted to visit there for a long time. She gladly took the time to herself.

I don't know who we are watching or what competitions are on, it is just really neat. The riders look super spiffy. From the vantage point of being just on the other side of the fence from the horse jumping, I can tell there is a great deal of athleticism involved in taking the horse around the course and jumping with them over the barriers. Of course the horse does most of the work...

The grounds at Spruce Meadows are beautiful. I do not feel like I belong since it looks like most of the people there probably own jumping horses (there are not a lot of people there, in fact the place is rather desolate) and likely have cars and vacation homes to reflect this kind of wealth. It is not my culture, but I like the well kept gardens and the elaborate jumping courses.

We visit three venues. My kids lose interest in the horse jumping pretty quickly as it doesn't really change from competitor to competitor except for the odd bar being knocked down. All of the announcers have British accents (like in soccer) and one of them butchers nearly every rider and horse name - so that is pretty fun. All the riders are from Canada, USA, and Mexico.

We grab an ice cream and walk around a little. My kids play on the playground while I snap pictures. Oh, and except for the ice cream, the whole thing is free of charge. I even ask where I am supposed to pay the advertised $5 and no one can tell me.

A lovely way to spend a quiet day.


Brew Three: Grapefruit Double IPA

Easily my best beer so far. I combined a couple Brew House IPA kits with a hop-hacked little 1 gallon grain Grapefruit IPA kit from Brooklyn BrewShop. I used 6 oz of cascade, columbus, and falconers flight hops at various stages of the boil of the wort (and kept a little for dry hopping). I also added the peels of two grapefruits during the final 10 minutes of the boil.

A Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale kept me company.

I added 500g of pale spraymalt to the boil too to add a bit more, um, sugar. Note that this is a double batch. I used Danstar BRY-97 yeast, a standard westcoast IPA yeast. In the end the specific gravity (which measures sugar) came in at 1.068 which is quite high. Worried that it was too high for the yeast, I went to a discussion board and quickly got a response:

1.068 is perfect for a hoppy IPA! 18C is a perfect fermentation temperature for BRY97.
You can see it had no problem fermenting.

3 weeks later, Blaise helped me bottle the 36.3 litres of delicious 8.3% ABV very strong grapefruit india pale ale. Unfortunately, about half of the bottles are over-carbonated, but they taste lovely: very crisp, firm citrus hoppiness, and pleasing aftertaste.

Brew Two: Apple Ginger Bitter, Muntons Hopped Pale Ale

My second foray into brewing happened back in December. I wanted to try the syrup kit rather than the slightly concentrated kits I tried the first time. I picked up 2 kits of Muntons: Bitter and Pale Ale (they were out of IPA). I picked up some amarillo, chinook, and cascade hops to add to the Pale Ale.

I simply boiled some of the hops and added the hopped water to the pale ale. A week later, I dry hopped the pale ale and added some cane sugar in hopes to add a bit of dimension and a bit more alcohol to what is normally a pretty bland beer. The results weren't too impressive. The beer is drinkable, just not memorable.

I added some apple slices and ginger water to the bitter fermentation. Some mild ginger aftertaste and a bit of apple sweetness. This darker beer tasted better the longer I let it stay in bottle, not too malty, quite refreshing.