Podcast Interview on SuperBrewers!

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My friend Jake over at SuperBrewers.com just interviewed me for his podcast and it was a lot of fun! It was also my first time ever being interviewed on a podcast so it was a whole new adventure.

Jake is a very serious home brewer as you'll see from his site and he has tons of helpful tips if you're interested in trying your hand at brewing some beer. Plus, he's from Wisconsin which lends a guy extra credibility on the beer brewing front. :)​

Click to Listen to the Full Interview

Organic vs. Conventional Lemons: The Sequel

We moved to a new house about 2 years ago and just today I was digging through a closet and made quite a find…a full case of Everclear! Score!

Case of 151 Proof Grain Alcohol

I know well what to do with this so I decided that first I’ll revisit the organic vs. non-organic results. My first replication study, as it were.

I had a couple reasons for this, one of which is the price of lemons. Lemons have gotten increasingly expensive, especially the organic variety. I bought both types and the conventional ones were 3 for a dollar but the organic ones were about $1 each. Sounds crazy at first, but there is actually a big difference in the lemons. Check the pics below.

Pile of organic lemons next to a pile of conventional lemons.

Picture of organic lemon and conventional lemon

Normally organic produce is smaller and uglier than conventional produce but not so in this case. The big, beautiful lemons are the organics. The puny looking ones are the conventionals.

There was still a color difference as you can see below…but mostly I was intending to equalize the quantity of zest, a step I didn’t take the last time I conducted this experiment.

Conventional lemon zest vs. organic lemon zest in clear glasses.

So I zeroed out the glass and weighed the zest. I had 8 organic lemons and 9 conventional lemons to account for the difference in size of the fruit.

Glass of lemon zest on a food scale.

As I started to even out the two glasses it looked like there was a LOT more organic zest according to the scale. But when I actually started moving the zest around I realized the two quantities were actually very close.

Glass of organic lemon zest on a digital food scale.

Drinking glass weighed on a food scale.

Then I figured out that while they look identical at first glance, my two drinking glasses have very different thicknesses in the base and there was a huge weight difference between them. I should have thought of this out of the gate, but it’s easy to overlook!

Comparison of the thickness of two drinking glasses.

End of Summer Drink Pic

To close out the summer we took a Labor Day weekend trip to Newport, RI. I highly recommend it if you’re in the neighborhood. We ate at The Mooring restaurant right on the harbor, where the meal was delicious and the drinks were lovely (that’s my 3-year-old daughter coloring in the background).

Limoncello drink

Limoncello drink from The Mooring Restaurant in Newport, RI

I’d recommend the restaurant but not this particular drink, as it tasted much more like tonic water than limoncello. The limoncello was barely detectable.

The trip was fantastic though and we visited First Beach late in the afternoon which meant vast expanses of sand near the cliffs. A perfect beach weekend.

My Tour of Fabrizia Limoncello

I was invited to tour the production facility of Fabrizia Limoncello recently, and I’d like to share the story in addition to the review. Reviewing Fabrizia actually prompted me to post an update to my commercial limoncello review page because there are a small number of very good commercial brands out there if you know where to look. As it turns out, the facility is only about a 30 minute drive from my house. I had no idea that commercial limoncello was produced in my area. I learned a lot, had a lot of fun and took a few pics for all you fellow limoncello lovers.

The owner of Fabrizia, Phil, and his operations manager Mike gave me a tour of the facility. That’s Phil in his office:
Fabrizia-Phil

The facility itself was not huge, though this was limoncello production on a scale that I’ve definitely never seen before. The large barrels of alcohol at one end of the room added emphasis to that point. As you can see below, they are all grounded by wires so they don’t…you know…explode. It looks like a great backdrop for an episode of 24.

Grain alcohol in bulk

It’s a little strange to be that close to that much flammable material, but you get used to it quick. Especially when you see all the other neat stuff going on there. I took a look at their infusion process (more steeping peels than I’ve ever seen in one place) and their bottling process, complete with a bottling machine imported from Italy.

Vat of steeping lemon peels

Serious equipment at Fabrizia

Bottles of Fabrizia Limoncello

Phil started Fabrizia with no prior experience in the industry so he earned his entrepreneurial stripes the hard way. He has a real passion for creating the best product he can at a fair price and I think it shows in the limoncello. I learned a lot during this tour but I’ll boil it down to the lessons I think most readers can use, and this first one is money.

Quite by accident, Phil and Mike discovered that the real key to minimizing or eliminating the film that forms on top of the limoncello is to allow the simple syrup to completely cool before mixing it with the infused alcohol. Any heat in the simple syrup somehow separates some of the oils from the infusion and forms the film. How’s that for a useful tip!

As you can see from the pic below, Phil shares my interest in rigorous experimentation. He keeps samples from each of his batches for the long term. He said he disagrees with my recent post claiming that limoncello doesn’t go bad over time. He says that it retains peak flavor for about 8 months after production and then begins a slow decline. My one-off observation really doesn’t compare to his wall of evidence so I have to concede that point. I think “going bad” is the wrong description on my part though. Drinking old limoncello is still better than most things that can happen to you, but you can see from the color of the liqueur that it is losing something over time and a tasting on the spot confirmed it.

Fabrizia-batches

Another tasting we conducted at Fabrizia was of their new Blood Orange liqueur. I’ve made batches with various flavors and blood orange has long been my favorite non-lemon variety. I haven’t made a batch like that in a long time so I don’t have a reference point, but Fabrizia’s blood orange is a very tasty liqueur.

A huge thanks to Phil and Mike at Fabrizia for their hospitality!