Friday, January 30, 2009

Guitar amp project, a long time in the making

I know it's not beer related, but I thought I'd post on this anyhow since I'm proud of myself. What you see to your left is a guitar amp I built from scratch. The head is all tube, Class A with an EL34 power tube. The head itself is made with 1/2" plexiglass. I had it fabricated at one of those sweet plastics places on Canal St. I built it a while back, so I can't remember how many watts it is exactly. It has two gain stages, one of which can be switched out for a cleaner tone. The bass/treble tone stack can also be switched out - a feature I added so that you could conceivably test out the audio qualities of different preamp tubes more accurately. It sounds pretty cool, though it does buzz quite a bit at really high gain. I wish I knew how to fix that.

The cabinet is what I finished recently. I had the wood cut forever, but just recently got around to assembling it. It's a 2x10" cab with two different speakers. One Fender, one unknown. I wrapped it in some upholstery that I bought a long time ago and finished it with some antique looking upholstery tacks. They don't quite match together - the head looks almost like some kind of 70's arena rock deal and the cabinet looks like it should have a victrola on top of it playing Take The A Train. But I'm proud of the work and at least now I have an amp that I can play out of in the house.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I think that this blog post can be filed under "too little, too late" considering that the holiday season is over and the decorations are already most likely down, but I thought I'd give a shout out to Rolf's. Located on the southeast corner of 22nd St and 3rd Ave in Manhattan, Rolf's (sorry, no web site) is a small German restaurant that goes absolutely bonkers with Christmas decorations. Think the Indian restaurants on 1st Ave in the East Village, but with all of the lighting and hanging decorations Christmas-themed instead of random-themed. And with higher ceilings.

There was a spell in my teenage years where we used to go to Rolf's every year around Christmas time to take Grandma (of Austrian heritage) to get some old school grub and to see the decorations. These days, the food at Rolf's isn't what it used to be. Not bad, don't get me wrong. But there are much better German restaurants that you can go to (Nurnberger Bierhaus being my current favorite). Rolf's has done some weird thing with they've added American and French dishes and the German food seems to have suffered at their expense. But it's totally worth a trip if you're in the Christmas spirit. I took R there on New Year's Day date and I wouldn't be surprised if we do it again next year.

While there I had one of these bad boys. A delicious, bready, full-bodied doppelbock that went great with my beef stew and spatzle. The Altenmunster Doppelbock has just the right noticeable level of alcohol without being overwhelming. Great stuff.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dollar tacos are back

Been a while, right?

Before last night's NYCHG meeting, I stopped by the Hop Devil Grill on St. Marks Place and was pleasantly surprised to find that dollar tacos are back on Tuesdays. So now you know where you can find me on the third Tuesday of the month some time between 6 and 7:30. And in addition to beef, chicken, and vegetarian, there's now an option for chorizo too. Are they the greatest tacos in the world? No, they're not (that distinction belongs to Taqueria in downtown JC (sorry, no web site)). But for $1 apiece and with a nice selection of micros on tap, it will definitely fit the bill for the pre-meeting ritual.

Last night's guest speaker at the meeting was Dave Hoffmann of Climax Brewing. Always entertaining, Dave brought along some of his stellar beers for the club to sample (ESB, Nut Brown, Porter, IPA, Helles, and Doppelbock) and shared some of his secrets. Thanks, Dave!

I'll try to be back soon with some stuff that happened over the holidays - motorized my grain mill, picked up some interesting beer books, brewed a few times...