In April I had a bit of a set back. A planned surgery didn’t really go as planned. If you remember, the cause of my stroke in 2015 was because of a tear in the lining of my carotid artery (the cause of that is unknown). The hope was that this tear would heal itself over time. It didn’t. So into surgery I went. The idea was to fill in the leftover aneurysm in my carotid artery with some metal coils and then let it heal by itself. Once the surgeon got in there he realized that the aneurysm had ripped open more and he would have to go to plan B. This involved placing a stent in order to “bridge the gap” and seal off the aneurysm. Not what I had hoped for. Unfortunately during the delicate placement of the stent a few blood clots were released and I suffered another stroke. So that unfortunate stroke, that I should never have had, has become two. Thankfully this second one was a bit milder but it has still been quite devastating for family life, and of course It has been a big set back in my recovery. One month before the surgery I had finally started working full time again. Now I am back to half time. Hopefully I’ll be able to work full time by the end of the year.
Now that I got that first post out of the way, there are going to be some changes around here. First off, you can now check out The Smoking Bottle on Facebook. I plan on sharing things like what’s cooking on the grill, photos from events, or news in the beer world. It will not be too often and I promise I will never post cat photos, no matter how grumpy they look. I haven’t even liked my own page yet so I’m very curious who the first person will be.
Secondly, there is the new address. The old smokingbottle.wordpress.com still works, and will continue to do so, but the more official sounding thesmokingbottle.com is now in action.
Lastly, I have started working on how this blog looks. It will take a while until I’m happy with it, so don’t be surprised if it looks different every time you come back. Any feedback you want to give would be appreciated. Is there anything you would like to see on the site?
2015 was penciled in as my return to brewing. The past few years have been chaotic… birth of a second child, fixing up our old house, selling our old house, finding a new house, moving, working, and keeping sane all while trying to be a good husband and daddy. Sure I probably could have scheduled in a brew session here and there, but it just seemed too selfish to block out that much time for something that no one else in the house gets any enjoyment from. I am the type of person that obsesses over details and data so I am completely unavailable while I’m brewing, plus all the planning, transfers, bottling/kegging etc. Then, as life seemed to be smoothing itself out, I started planning my next brew when something unexpected happened. At the not so ripe age of 36, I had a stroke. More precisely a Spontaneous Carotid Artery Dissection that caused a stroke. That put a stop to many things.
What I found really sad was that there was no reason why it happened to me. I did not live a “risky” lifestyle. It was just a bit of bad luck. Part of my carotid artery just decided it would be funny to fail. I’m more or less OK now, but It’s still recovery at the moment. My big problems now are the lack of concentration, patience, and tasks such as writing (It took quite a while to write this short post). Now I just want to get back a little control of my life. Of course there are many things in life more important than grilling and brewing, but this blog is not about those. It is my outlet for all things brewing and grilling related. The situation has made me think about what aspects I like the most about my life, work, and hobbies as well as how they can or can not be combined. Outdoor cooking can continue just as it always has. It’s something that the whole family can enjoy, and it generally doesn’t take too much time. Brewing is different. It takes more planning, more time, and more concentration. Thankfully, the kids are growing up (now 4 and 6) and I know I will be able to find some time to brew. However, I also know it won’t be as often as I’d like. I really need to find some ways to either shorten my brew days or make the process more automated so I am more available while I do it. Something like how my BBQ Guru PartyQ gives me some precious time with my family when I’m smoking a pork shoulder for 15 hours. Any good suggestions will be embraced with open arms.
If you read this post hoping for some sort of amazing conclusion or revelation, you will be disappointed. I didn’t really have a goal for this blog post. It was really just a way of me trying to get back at it. A bit of therapy for myself. Now that I got that out of the way, perhaps I can post something more interesting next time.
… now I really need to spend some time bringing this old ugly blog up to date. I never liked the way it looked.
Summer seems to have already ended here in Belgium. Ok thats not completely true beacause Summer never really showed up this year. With the end of Summer also comes the end of my vacation days. Now its back to the harsh realities of the working world.
Thankfully I do have some new sources of inspiration. Mrs. Smokey, Lil’ Smokey and myself have been joined by Smokey Jr! Since his birth I obviously haven’t had a whole lot of time to post on this blog, but that will slowly change as he settles into the Smokey-family life. Then he sould inspire many grilling posts because I’ll have my work cut out for me once this little guy grows up and starts eating meat… he is a BIG boy…. no really big boy!
Originally I started this blog to have a place to ramble on about brewing and grilling without boring those around me. Much to my surprise some other people do actually read this and find some informative quality in it. Unfortunately I am not always quick to post updates or results from the different experiments/brews/products that I try. I have been working on this lately though. If you go back to some of the recent brews you’ll notice that I am starting to add notes at the bottom of brewday posts as the beers progress. I will also be adding a few posts to help catch up on the lack of info. Hopefully this will make this blog more useful to people other than myself.
A quick note to say that you can now follow the Smoking Bottle on Twitter. I may not be the most proficient tweeterer, but if you are of the twiteriffic type than you can follow me. Don’t worry, I won’t bombard you with messages of where I am every 3 seconds and what jam I decided to put on my bread… unless its really good!
oh yeah.. above is also a logo I was working on for this site (minus the bird of course). Hmmm, I never did anything with that did I?
I’m still here. Over the past weeks I have been on vacation, spent some more time sick, and been too busy digging in dirt to post here. You can expect some upcoming posts very soon though… but just as a small preview of whats to come:
After more than a year of aging, New Addition has been bottled
grilling up some good eats for a hungry group professional brewers and drinkers
experiments with corking and caging bottles
various grilled meats have been making the spring taste great
a brewery was actually crazy enough to let me create a recipe for them and design the label
The Smoking Bottle has been a little lifeless lately. I’d like to say that is because I have been too busy brewing and cooking but unfortunately the silence has been caused by bacteria, viruses, evil spirits and possibly witchcraft. It all started with Half-Pint bringing home a bad cough from daycare. That was then followed by pneumonia. Of course she handled it well, as she always does, but daddy on the other hand was not so brave. After thinking that the illness was leaving the house, I was hit by the same upper respiratory infection and a week and a half later I found myself with pneumonia too. Of course Mrs. Smokey has also caught this and is now lying in bed waiting for the antibiotics to kick in.
So far it’s been 20 days since a beer has touched my lips. That has to be a record for me. The worst part is, I also had to call off a brew-day and a day of testing out the Cold Smoke Generator (ok, the worst was actually seeing my baby and my babe go through this… and the phlegm sucked). I was really looking forward to some smoked gouda and a nice brew. I am not sure when I will be able to fit these activities back into the schedule but you can expect some upcoming posts about cold smoking and brewing up an interesting breakast stout (I’ll post the recipe-in-progress later)…. but first we are all going to rest a bit and make sure the plague has finished with us.
When this blog was started, I thought that most of the posts would be about barbecue. Afterall it is easier and faster to tame that firey passion then it is to scratch the brewer’s itch. There is also a problem of volumes. I do not brew that often since I am usually solely responsible for the disposal of said beer and I also have a commercial beer buying habit. It is great to have a cellar stocked full of goodies covering a far greater range of styles than I could ever brew. However, The Smoking Bottle has been leaning more towards the Bottle and less towards the Smoke. This got me thinking about who is reading this (besides the ones that feel obligated to endulge in my fantasy world) and where their interests lie.
If you have a spare moment (if you have read this far then you do) please take part in the following poll.