Changes at the Bostonapothecary

There are going to be some significant changes around here. A major change is the taking offline of a lot of my old content. I had intended to leave everything up to show where I’ve been (and when), but I don’t think that idea has been valuable to readers. I have a mountain of content and I think people have trouble wading through it.

For new stuff I intend to do more videos (of higher quality than my first) and maybe even interview some people. I’m itching to lure a perfumer into an interview for my Vino Endoxa aroma categorization project. I’m also going to organize the equipment I’m selling into a simpler store front with comparative options.

A lot of my biggest goals definitely were not achieved here. I hoped to get a lot more commenting and community building. I wanted to meet more big thinkers. I definitely got a lot of readership despite tackling such wild topics, but definitely not a lot of participation. This is definitely a blog and not anything especially professional. I wrote so much of this stuff on the fly inbetween running a restaurant. I’ve never even really learned how WordPress works and when I started, I wrote at the fifth grade level. Instead of making an inclusive place to mull over wild ideas, I might have ended up with something stark and intimidating and debilitatingly ahead of its time.

But I did achieve a ton personally. Long ago I had read the adage: “you start writing to get noticed, you continue writing to notice.” I hoped more people would scrutinize the ideas I put forth and they didn’t, but just plain putting them down and forcing myself to organize my thoughts led to gigantic growth. I’ve almost earned the title Beverage Technologist and my production technique catalog makes me pretty close to beverage invincible.

Posts are going to be removed to emphasize my bigger contributions to the culinary arts. I’m gong to try and do more with my Vino Endoxa project which is very large and pretty much the future. It is eventually going to need a lot of money so I need to start learning to write grants. I’m going to try and organize my carbonation equipment and techniques better because I want the system to be a bigger part of culinary programs in the developing world. I’d love to see people start little bottling companies at the nano scale and watch them grow. I’m not Mr. Carbonation or anything, and I don’t promote it by yelling from the roof tops. I just ran with it because all the answers were coming to me, but no one has even scratched the surface of what can be done and all the good stuff will happen at boutique hotels in far flung places trying to make sodas for yoga tourism and not in cocktail bars like I thought.

I was asked to write a hypothetical curriculum to possibly teach a summer class at an art school about Aesthetics Through the Lens of the Avant Garde in Culinary. A big part of the curriculum was distilling. Over the years I’ve tried to create a new cocktail centric nano distilling scene which would pretty much be the new painting and attract more people from the art world. A lot of it was based on using science to achieve very new and hard to reach aesthetic ends (often to illustrate ideas in perception). Basically you need hardcore science to make your own paint. But so much of the supporting content here on the blog has probably come across as molecular gastronomy (insulting meaning of the word) and not attracted too many great minds. There just isn’t enough vision around so I’m going to take a lot of material down and come back at different angles.

The bostonapothecary is going to become less of a free as can be idea factory and more of a marketable services for sale sort of space. I’m a Ronin figure. Have Shaker (And Hydrometer) Will Travel.

[Edited to Add: I did plan on performing three beverage miracles this year and I think the small bottle bottler qualifies as being the first one. The other two are so absolutely fucking cool but are going to take a nice amount of time to pull off.]

For Sale: Small Bottle Bottler

For Sale (115USD)




I did make this short demonstration video (my first video ever). It looks like it made it back in 1994 (based on production values).

The last counter pressure bottler design has been around for more than 20 years. This is the counter pressure bottler design for the next 20 years… Modular, affordable, safe. It has been in the wild for two years now kicking ass in the hands of some of the country’s best bar programs and home brewers.

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The product here is a counter pressure keg-to-bottle bottling device that can do any size of small bottle from 100mL San Bitter bottles all the way up to Champagne 375’s. The innovation here is that it creates a seal with a ballistic plastic enclosure (which is a high pressure water filter housing) rather than with the tops of the various proprietary bottles like other designs.

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This also makes bottling safer because if a bottle breaks while filling (which has never happened to me), it is contained in an ultra strong enclosure. If a bottle overflows due to operator error, the liquid is caught in the food safe plastic sump and can be recycled. Or, optionally, if you want to fill the negative space with chilled water, less CO2 will be used and the bottles will be kept colder, reducing bonding time and risk of foaming when releasing pressure.

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The design features all the valuable lessons I’ve learned from designing the Champagne Bottle Manifold which is basically to only use uncompromising stainless steel Cornelius quick release fittings. Hardly an innovation, but I use one ambidextrous quick release fitting going into the bottle. This fitting can take a gas line to flush the bottle and bring the bottler to the same pressure as the keg then be switched to the liquid line to fill the bottle. This differs from other death trap designs which use multiple hardwired lines preventing units from being used in an array or being portable (or easy to clean). True, you could probably whip this device up yourself, but by the time you ship everything from various suppliers and learn the machining techniques (drilling stainless ain’t easy!), you are way over budget or have made some errors, or compromised on fittings and will lose tons of valuable time operating your half-assed version of the device. The product is highly evolved and articulate for the task. [The machining is slightly more complicated than you’d think and I’d be happy to discuss what the hell I do to make the thing if anyone wants.]

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Personally I enjoy the Champagne Bottle Manifold because I take advantage of its de-aeration abilities and I use it over night to preserve sparkling wines. But I kept fielding requests for a small bottle bottler. Most notably from hotels that want to bottle product for their mini bars.

IMG_4484The product is easy to store behind the bar, easy to clean & keep sanitary, and because of the chosen fittings, seamless to integrate into programs already using cocktail on tap equipment. To reduce inactive time and make bottling as fast as possible, they can be used in an array of multiple units on any counter top because the device takes up less square footage (that restaurants don’t have) than competing designs like the Melvico and its clones.

Operation:
1. Put in your bottle of choice and securely screw the top onto the sump with the down tube sticking down the center of the bottle (refer to pictures).
2. Connect the gas hose and release the side valve to flush the bottle of Oxygen. Close the side valve which also brings unit to the same pressure as the keg. Disconnect the gas line (you are probably only transferring at 20-30 PSI).
3. Connect the liquid line from the keg and slowly release the side valve to create a low pressure system drawing liquid into the bottle. Close the side valve at your desired fill level.
4. Disconnect the liquid line and let the bottle bond for 30 seconds so that it does not foam upon releasing pressure (at this time you could start working on another unit).
5. 30 seconds later… Release pressure using the side valve. Remove the bottle and promptly cap it.
6. Start a new bottle!

Feel free to ask any and all questions. Cheers! -Stephen
For Sale (115USD)




Vino Endoxa: Freedom & Confinement

[This post is tied to my earlier works where I’m developing next generation tasting notation ideas and a wine recommendation engine. You need to write this kind of junk to organize your thoughts so you can push forwards.]
Vino Endoxa
Vino Endoxa: The Categories of Affect versus Sensation
Vino Endoxa: Three New Categories and Pamela VanDyke Price

For my next generation wine tasting description system (and recommendation engine) I thought I should take the time to explore both the freedom the system affords and the possible confinement people might use to condemn it. I sort of see the system easily being adopted by amateurs eager to learn but likely receiving an uphill battle swaying professionals because of any totality they assume it comes with. The system is comprehensive and does push boundaries, especially in recognizing non language and aroma illusions, but there certainly is no totality.

The teaching aid that is the Wine Aroma Wheel has achieved wide acclaim and its success points to a warm reception from any attempted system that can teach someone to better detect contrast and keep track of experiences. Vino Endoxa is in effect an extension of the wheel. It investigates the deeper theories of why the Aroma Wheel is so successful and tries to build on them. The aroma wheel is definitely confining because its so finite, but it is also only a starting point. Vino Endoxa is also a starting point but one that can be taken further from amateur all the way to professional use where it can be used in the wine industry to better keep track of the world of wine (so many merchants juggle 20,000 skus).

To be liberating, relative to the confines of other ideas out there, Vino Endoxa intends to articulate and expand upon the way people already think, especially when using non language, which often ends up being private, so that others can learn and benefit from these powerful contrast detection mechanisms that do not make it into most tasting notes or courses on wine.

Olfactory illusions have become an increasingly popular search term (according to my blog analytics) and they will always put a limit on describing an experience. When we taste a wine and try to describe it, we are not only describing the wine but also in large part describing our own very personal recollections. This doesn’t mean we should throw our hands in the air and say everyone tastes differently then give up. We all do have unique realities, but patterns exist within the bounds of our subjectivity that can make tasting descriptions valuable, data mineable, and capable of providing recommendations.

From my vantage point in the industry, wine professionals are likely to resist massive amounts of change that might alter their role in the industry. Could Vino Endoxa change the role and productivity of the wine professional? Maybe, but hopefully for every professional that resists or dismisses the project there is another that sees an exciting new tool that can increase their productivity and ability to represent more wines. At the heart of Vino Endoxa is the same core goals of so many wine professionals and thus can be a large asset to them.

Through providing recommendations and recognizing acquired tastes in wine, Vino Endoxa can promote and preserve diversity in the wine world. Diversity has been considered at risk for years as evidence by discussions of the Parker Effect, the loss of many indigenous varietal plantings, and the proliferation of low risk manipulated wine styles. Wine marketing has not been able to handle the long tale economics of a diverse wine world or the polarized tastes of wine drinkers. Uniting the right wine with the right person has so far been elusive but that could change with new tools.

One very liberating thing data can do is provide a memory that can help capture the journey, growth, and development of a drinker’s palette. This journey is too easily forgotten and taken for granted but shepherding it to cultivate taste and create a market for diverse, authentic wine styles is at the heart of most all wine professional’s mission.

Applying heavy amounts of data where there wasn’t much reeks of attempts at totality, the inevitability engine, or stripping the romance out of wine but that isn’t the case here. We only reach endoxa by degrees. The recommendations never get guaranteed, they only get better by degrees and eventually improve to a point where there is enough satisfaction to continue seeking them out.

The mystery of wine never unravels. Rather, we only corral and encircle the mystery, rounding up more and more of it to be enchanted by. Not everyone recognizes the therapeutic mystery of wine. Too many people simply drink wine for inebriation or low level relaxation. Exposure to new styles by recommendation or exposure to recognizable styles, but from never before experienced locals, may seduce more and more people with the mystery & romance of wine.

A recommendation engine does not want to create predictability in wine. There is a subset of potential user that will say: “I like these wines and they are all similar, please recommend for me a wine from this country I will also like.” That type of query is looking for predictability but its not a bad type because we did get them to explore a new region and they found they can enjoy wines from all over the world. Or another subset will say: “I like outliers and I can handle a lot, please recommend a new adventure for me.” All that we are predicting is that the wine will be an outlier with uniqueness and singularity. But again, no forces acted to homogenize the world of wine. It could be said that the wines were liberated to be themselves and just matched to the right people at the right time in the cultivation of their tastes.

One big limiter of the world of wine as we know it is the language problem. Countries like Greece and Slovenia make comfortable wines and exciting singular wines, the entire spectrum, but they lose out in the American market because of the language on their labels. If wine makers pander, tradition and integrity is sacrificed, but systems like Vino Endoxa can help us conquer exploring wines across the language barrier. When exploring new territory, no one needs a high degree of predictability but enough to avoid a sweet wine when you want an dry wine or an unoaked wine when oak isn’t your thing.

Vino Endoxa needs a collection of minds to advance itself from masters of wine to cognitive linguists to data scientists. Hopefully I paint a picture of a comprehensive but liberating project attractive and useful to great thinkers that love wine. The financial rewards for such a project are also very great and I should probably leave it at that.