Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy holidays!

And preparation for a year of serious brewing.

While all my beers are snug in their beds,
Chilling and aging,
To produce a good head.

Fermenters and pots,
Are gathering dust
The bottles are full,
And kegs are all stuffed.

But away at his desk,
with pen and some brew,
Eugene was designing,
A HERMS to debut!

Sorry. I couldn't help myself. I've been reading about multi-temperature mash rests and the benefits, and I figured now would be a good time to get a design out there and start gathering parts that work together. So I've come up with a design that I'm going to post here. I'm going to head over and throw it in front of the gentlemen at homebrewtalk.com and get the details hammered out.  I've decided to go with a HERMS (Heat Exchanged Recirculating Mash System) because I feel it will cost less for me in the end and will integrate the equipment I have effectively. The way I see it, running the mash through a copper coil through hot water will produce a less drastic change in temperature and I'll be able to control the temperature much more closely. I also plan to have a bypass loop so I can continually circulate the mash, which should give me a much more even temperature profile across the mash tun. Well without further delay, here's my schematic:



Ideally in the end I would like the temperature control to be automatic. So I'd have a temperature controller monitoring the temperature of the mash and controlling the motorized valve to switch between the coil and the bypass. As things progress I will give further updates.



Again, happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Foamy Beer? No Fear!

Stay tuned for results.



When I dropped my new set of beers into the kegerator recently (Pilsner, Irish Red, Nut Brown, and Root Beer), I've been having some serious foaming issues. Head's great and all, but not when it's over 2/3 of your pint. I did some scouring on the homebrewtalk.com forums (of which I am now a proud member of, check me out username:Splobucket), and found an interesting thread for the "cure for your short hose troubles" (Link Here).



Apparently there are some serious epoxy guns out there that you can order special tips for. Known as "mixer nozzles". You can get them at McMaster-Carr (the part number used here is 74695A58). Well in these mixer nozzles are these fancy (and easy to remove) plastic mixing sticks. And according to the thread, will restrict the flow in your beer lines so you don't have to worry about running 15' of tube inside of your kegerator. Lets find out.



Not realizing at first in the thread, but the mixing sticks come in a plastic tube. They pop out of the tube very easily with a Phillips screwdriver. And here's what you get (shown on my hand for size reference):







Install is quite idiot-proof and straightforward (which was probably redundant to say). Relieve the pressure from your keg, take off the disconnect from the liquid side, and slide your stick right in. It should drop right in:







I am waiting to post results until I let my kegs settle for a few days after all the commotion. I'm excited for the results! And thanks to "pjj2ba" over at homebrewtalk.com for the great tip!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bottles bottles bottles.

Man alive, I bottled beer last night. First time in a while since I've been using my kegs. What a pain. The entire time all i could think of is how much easier kegs are. Oh well, that's the price of the love i guess! Another week or two and my new American Pale Ale will be ready to drink.



I'll post a picture and review of my new nut brown ale shortly!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to take the time and wish any readers a happy thanksgiving. Hope you all engorge yourselves on turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, homemade beer... I digress. Just posted some pics of the kegerator over at homebrewtalk.com, check it out at http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f35/show-us-your-kegerator-29053/. Look for mine on page 143.

P.s. Transferring my American Ale from the fermenter to secondary tomorrow. Hopefully I will awaken from my turkey coma by then.

P.p.s. I leave you with some Thanksgiving humor.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving is around the corner.

And I give thanks to a whole slew of brewing equipment and a patient wife.

In the past weeks a few things have happened. Added a few touches to the kegerator and a fourth tap. I still have to add a fourth manifold to put in a fourth keg. But it should be a simple fix. Also replaced the elbow I used to run the CO2 line through the lid with a straight splice because I couldn't stop it from leaking. Now it's held the same pressure for over 3 weeks.

Also brewed two new beers. A nut brown ale with a substantial number of ingredient substitutions. Enough substitutions that I feel comfortable calling it ATaleofTwoBrewers original. If it comes out well of course. If not, well just a failed experiment. That's currently naturally carbonating in the keg.

Also have brewed an American Pale Ale, which is currently fermenting in the closet. My parents came into town and wanted to know what all the brewing was about, so they twisted my arm *ahem* and we all brewed a beer together.

Dave and I also took the liberty to take a picture together with all our brewing equipment.


Front to back, left to right, I present to you ATaleofTwoBrewers cast. The propane tank, the home depot 10 gallon mash/lauter tun, the ever so hot bayou burner, the 6.5 gallon ale pail fermenter, the 5 gallon "hot liquor" pot, the 9 gallon brewpot (with our wort chiller hiding inside, it can be very bashful), brewing ingredients from hearts, and the 6.5 gallon ale pail bottling bucket with an assorted cast of tools and goods inside. Of course last but not least, the two brewers of ATaleofTwoBrewers, Eugene (me), and Dave. Cheers.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stop, it's Pilsner Time

John Palmer's Plzinksy Pivo (see right for proper spelling) Pilsner. My first lager. Upon first taste, it was absolutely terrible. But that was because I didn't let it carbonate long enough so fast forward to the second taste.

Faaaantastic! I really like the smooth drink to it. It's not chock full of flavor, but it's smooth with a subtle hop taste. And as you can see pours with a great head on it. With my first lager being a success I have to carefully plan when I want to make my next one due to the low fermenting temperatures.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A note about spent grains...

Or doggy indigestion.

So I read somewhere that spent grains were good for fertilizer. So instead of just throwing out almost 10 pounds of grain I decided to do the green thing and covered our small vegetable garden in them. I didn't really bother to do any research on it because I figured there would be 3 scenarios, all of which are good.

A. The grain does nothing. And I still have a dying vegetable garden that I have to weed (neither I or my wife are much of green-thumbs). Strangely, this might be the worst scenario.

B. The grain is indeed good fertilizer, and my garden comes back to life and produces food.

C. The grain is terrible fertilizer and kills the small vegetable garden. Meaning I don't have to mow around it anymore.

Mind you this garden is up against the outside of our fence, because we know our dogs would tear it to shreds.

Well one of my dogs (the behaved one, strangely) smelled those grains from the outside of the fence. And managed to dig under the fence and eat about 3 or 4 mouthfuls (golden retriever mouths) of spent grain. So i filled the hole back up, no cookie, and brought her back inside.

After taking a shower I came out to check on the pups, and the dog had thrown up all the grains that she had gotten to. I don't think she'll be digging out again anytime soon.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A published man!

The article I wrote two posts ago got published on ezinearticles.com! Which is pretty awesome. Hopefully getting me some more traffic. If you are reading this for the first time, please feel free to go back in the history of my blog, it documents my beer brewing right up to this day, and is ongoing. Hopefully the story will end (or begin!) with Dave and I opening our own brewery!

Article at ezinearticles.com!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Handy Sanitizing Tube

Now this tube I realize does not look like much. In fact, it really isn't that much. It's a 6" dia. piece of PVC, probably about 3' tall, with a cap at one end. On the inside i used silicone caulk to seal the tube around this base.

One thing I learned after brewing for the first time was that keeping everything sanitized was difficult, everything was juggled back and forth. A lot of the things that needed to be sanitized were tall and skinny to boot, making them tough to sanitize in the sink. That's when I had dreamed up my sanitizing tube. Once I sanitize my fermenter with 2 gallons of solution, I just pour it into my tube and stuff my spoon, auto-siphon, airlocks, bungs, you name it in there, and it just soaks for as long as you need it. And if need be you can put something right back in it no problem.

It also doubles as a stand to dry out my carboys.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Brewing from start to finish

Now that I've brewed my first lager, I'm venturing into the land of all-grain brewing. There is a lot a vocabulary between the grain and the beer that I have gotten confused a number of times. I thought that it would be advantageous for me to put my ducks and a row and figure out the transformation of grain and words to beer. Then I figured I'd write about it so here we go. Please correct me if I get anything incorrect.

All grain brewing is brewing from scratch. To brew from scratch with as little as possible you need water, malt, and hops. Obviously we know what water is, good ol' H20. Malt is the grain (barley or what-have you) used to produce beer. And hops is the plant (Fun Fact: close on the plant family tree to marijuana) used to balance the sweetness of malt with bitter. There are many different variety of hops, grains, and different flavors of water, which is not going to be covered here. This is about the basics.

The malt (grain) starts as a shell and runs through a machine. The mill. The mill cracks the grain to open it up so that the flavors (again keeping it simple) can be brought out. Once the malt is cracked, it is now called grist. So the Mill This turns the grain into the grist.

Now that you have the grist you have to get all the good stuff out. You do this by mashing. To mash, you need to dump your grist into a mash/lauter tun. For your basic homebrewer (such as myself) that can be as simple as a jobsite cooler (ex. your standard gatorade sports cooler, preferably 10 gallon), with a false bottom.

A false bottom in this case is a screen in bottom of the cooler that you can drain the water through the grist.

Now you have your grist in your mash/lauter tun. Mashing is nothing but steeping the grist in hot water. This extracts all the sugars.

After about an hour of mashing, you need to lauter your mash. Lautering your mash is opening up the spigot at the bottom of your mash/lauter tun, and letting your wort (your mash has now turned into wort, nothing more) drain out.

Now you sparge your mash. This gets extra wort out by rinsing the mash with water.

Now you have wort (pronounced wert). Which you may have already heard of before if you've at least read about homebrewing. If you are using specialty grains this is where you steep your grains. Just like you would tea, except with a larger bag of grain.

Now you begin the boiling (be careful not to boil over), and you add your hops at different intervals. Once the boil is done you chill the wort, add it to your fermenter, and pitch your yeast.

Pitching your yeast involves no wind-up, no projectiles. Just dump your bag of yeast in.

Almost done here folks. If you're brewing a lager the next part is lagering. If not, but you want to refine the flavors of your beer a little more, or let more sediment fall out, it's the secondary fermentation. So whether you lager, or secondary ferment, you rack your fermented beer to another container, possibly a carboy.

Racking involves using a racking cane which pulls the wort off the sludge that has accumulated on the bottom of your fermenting vessel. You want to leave that sludge behind. A carboy is a a funny shaped bottle, much like the bottle at your office water cooler.

Home stretch now. Now you condition your beer. Conditioning involves adding a little extra sugar so when you seal your beer it ferments just a little bit more and carbonates it.

That's IT! Keg it, bottle it. Wait for it... wait for it... drink it!!

Like I said earlier, please let me know of any corrections and I will update this post. I owe a lot of information from my own experience and from John Palmers "How to Brew." Good book, go and get it.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Finished!

The painting is done! With a lot of help from my lovely wife of course. As you can see in the picture (http://twitpic.com/fdzlm) I went with a classy bright orange. I also finally installed the door, brought the CO2 tank outside of the kegerator, and finished the tap system...

The door itself was a royal pain. Turns out I made it 1/4" too big, which was a bear to get filed down just right so it would swing gently. But I finally did it, and I installed a lock it it to make it look super high security.

Just today I relocated the CO2 tank to the outside of the kegerator, leaving room for 4, count em', 4 homebrewers kegs on the inside. http://twitpic.com/fe06q

And the taps. http://twitpic.com/fdzp8

I figured it would make life a lot easier if I made them accessible for maintenance. So I installed tracks to filing cabinets on the side of a frame, and made it so the whole system could slide out. It also locks on the back side so when you're drawing a pint the whole thing wont pull out.

http://twitpic.com/fdzsv
http://twitpic.com/fdzwo

I'll be honest I'm excited to lay this project to bed. This was a lot of work. Drywalling is a pain in the butt. And getting everything just right took a lot of time. My garage has been a total train wreck for almost 3 weeks. And one side of my house was almost completely inaccessible for a whole week (not making Nikki very happy). Now I can get back to brewing, starting off with my first lager this Friday! Looking forward to getting back into it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Drywall is.... messy. And done.

Drywall is finished. And with lots of thanks to Dave. My plan was for him to drop it off and work on it till 10pm and be done with hit. Well Dave was kind enough to stick around and help out. And we still weren't finished until 10:30. Oh and mudding drywall is a pain in the butt. Especially when you dont have proper tools. Believe me dont try to take on a drywall job with just a little scraper. Get the cheapo 8-in-1 drywall kit. It makes things much easier.

Now I know sanding drywall makes a mess. But I would've never known how much of a mess. After just a few minutes of sanding w/ no ventilation (probably not the healthiest thing) everything was covered in a white powder. And that stuff settles for days. And then you have to mud and do it again. Damn.

Well now that's done. Just have to paint and create my backsplash for the taps.

http://twitpic.com/doep0

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kegerator project

I'll build the intensity and say that this project is already done. However I'm going to drag out the storytelling and post as if I'm working on it right now.

So I came up with this fantastic idea for the kegerator. I appreciated having it in the corner of the man room, however it wasn't very sightly. I thought I did a good job on it, but it was still a giant box in the corner of the room. So I decided to build out the wall and enclose it. Give it a nice door to hide behind. Have the taps coming out of the wall with a real nice backsplash behind it. Make it look all fancy and stuff.

Turns out framing was really easy. Mainly because Nikki did most of the work. I tweaked my neck playing with the dogs the night before, so I couldn't twist my head to look right without a lot of pain. This meant I got to play foreman. Which was awesome. Nikki has a new favorite tool, the miter saw. I pointed and told her what to measure and cut, and she did it. Nothing short of awesome. Here it is at the end of the day...

http://twitpic.com/cwxjs

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mixing drinks

Beautiful weather down in sunny Florida, just got in from swimming in the pool with the family. Nikki and I went to a gathering last night, and was requested by a guest to bring some homemade beers. This inspired me to buy two growlers from heartshomebrew, and they work great. They're 2 liters with a handle at 30 bucks a pop, but they are well worth it.

And the beers were a success, which inflates my ego about owning my own brewery grow. My hefeweizen and my steam ale got great reviews, the porter however slacked a little bit. But that may be because I accidentally mixed my porter with Nikki's root beer. Which was absolutely gross. I know some wonderful things were created by accidental mixtures, like penicillin, and probably Black & Tans. Porter and root beer, however, is not one of them.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Long time no blog...

Hi all, sorry for all the downtime. Truth is I haven't had much to write about. You see, all of my vessels to hold beer in are now full, and I've already written about the beer within. So "unfortunately" I can't brew another beer until I empty out one of my kegs, or finish the bottles off.

The kegerator is working fantastic. I do need to find drip trays for under the spouts. As for now, squares of paper towels are working great. Everyone we have over is delightfully surprised how good the beer is. Which makes me feel fantastic, and makes my hopes and dreams of starting a brewery all-the-more realistic.

I just started reading the book "Designing Great Beers." It looks to be a promising, and informative read. I haven't got too many pages into it, as I got distracted by swarms of insects at my wife's softball game, but at first sight it looks a lot more readable that I initially thought. Of course that might be too dry for the normal reader, as being an engineer makes me partial to more technical writing.

The hops plants are good and bad. I know I was very excited at the start of the growing considering how much they took off. Then I got a little discouraged when they're progress stopped. Well now, the cascade is dying back unfortunately, however the cascade is still growing upward, and is now almost 3' tall! It's still a very thin vine, with no apparent buds, but we'll see what happens. Hope you all have a good weekend!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Drinking beer #4

Well, my dog just took a dump in his crate. What better an occasion to pop the top of my new Hefeweizen that I just put in the fridge over the weekend!! It's probably the best year yet! It tastes great! Very drinkable, very refreshing. It has a good presence too, it's nice and clear. Kind of orangey, while still bitter. I'd say its blue moon with a bite.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bottled up excitement.

I suppose in this case having something all bottled up is a good thing. The hefeweizen brewed two weeks ago, is now in bottles priming. I definitely like kegging the beer a lot more, significantly easier than the bottles... I could get a 4th keg, but then I'd just have 5 beers available at once. I guess I'm ok having the equivalent of 32 6 packs of beer available at any given time.

Hops update... The hops aren't looking too good to be honest. It's been dry, so i've been watering them daily. But I did read online not too long ago that they don't appreciate the Florida humidity too much. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hard work pays off...

This is it. Yeah, it's midnight, and yeah, I have to work tomorrow. So why the hell am I drinking a beer? This is why...

Monday, May 4, 2009

I spoke too soon

I'm going to keep this post short, because I tire of writing about my kegerator that keeps losing CO2. But this weekend I fixed it, I really fixed it. It is now hooked up to the kegs, and is able to dispense beer. That was very frustrating to fix.

But now I have a guest coming this weekend excited to see the kegerator. I'm going to make the final push and mount the faucets on the top and make it look nice! I'll post pictures after I'm finished.

Transferred the hefeweizen in to the secondary fermenter as well. The beer had an orange color, and looked thicker than the others.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Leaks can be deceiving

Well I don't want to speak too soon. But I believe I found the leak that has been plaguing me. Again it's at the third valve on the manifold. It was actually where the leak had previous been, but I do have a theory. This segment didn't have a hex around it, so to remove it from the valve I had to use my vice grips, likely damaging the thread. This leak didn't even show signs with the soapy water test. But after 10 minutes of laying over the edge of my pool and turning up the pressure a little bit, it made itself visible. About every ten seconds a small bubble would form and float to the top. Bingo, again. And hopefully for the last time. I want to start drinking draft again.

I'll be heading to Lowe's tomorrow to pick up another fitting.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sneaky Leaky

Or "when in doubt, use more teflon tape"

I got the CO2 tank refilled today at Aardvark's (see twitter post) and I got the chance to test out my CO2 system. I had a pretty good idea where the leak was coming from. And well, I was pretty wrong. I denied my instincts to jump all the steps and fix the place where I was quite sure the leak was coming from and take tests step by step, starting at the CO2 tank and ending at the kegs. I ended up finding a leak in my manifold that I so proudly created. So I cranked down all the fittings, and it still leaked. After struggling to take apart what I just tried so hard to tighten down, I found that the fitting with the leak (3rd valve from the source), was lacking some much needed teflon tape. I taped it up, cranked it down, and it appears to be working fine. I pressurized the system and turned off the CO2, and we'll see if pressure held in the morning...

Following that, I also tested all my kegs with soap and water. I pressurized the kegs, and scrubbed the fittings with soapy water. The idea is if bubbles form, I got a leak. I ending up being right about the keg, but I was right about the wrong keg. One of the disconnect posts on my keg is leaky. Might be a bad O-ring but I'm not sure yet because of all 6 posts on all the kegs, this one is the only one that did not have a hexagon base to remove with a wrench, it has this star/sunburst pattern, so I currently have no idea to take it off. I imagine it's just an O-ring, but we'll see.

UPDATE - 4/29/09 - Checked the gas this morning, and the lines had lost pressure. It looks like it's back to the pool to find out where this leak is. Dammit.

UPDATE - 4/30/09 - Unit held air up to the valve after the regulator. Leak is not at CO2 tank, or regulator. Closed manifold valves and opened regulator valves. We'll see if the leak is at the manifold.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Or not...

I went to draw some beer from the kegerator today, and the tank was empty. Somewhere I have a leak, but I have to get my tank refilled before i can troubleshoot it. Damn.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kegerator Up and Running!

I'm sure this was a long awaited photo. The kegerator is up and running, packed full with 3 kegs and the CO2 tank. Upper left is the San Francisco Steam Ale, lower left is the Port O' Palmer Porter, and upper right is my wife's root beer. I have the kegerator set at 35 F, and the pressure set to 15 psi. The beer, as seen below, is beautiful. And tastes wonderful. Next step is to fabricate my beer towers and mount it to the top, so I'll have some classy looking taps coming off the top.

Growing hops

My Chinook rhizome is already growing rapidly, since I updated last, the plant has grown another inch. Another few weeks and I'll already be training it along a pole, and I think I should have small buds soon.

And I've figured out what was the issue was with my Cascade hops. Now, I've never claimed that I was a greenthumb as a matter of fact, my thumb is probably about as green as my butt. And I'm also impatient. So today I went digging for the rhizome I had planted. Turns out, it sure had budded. And probably grew just as far as the Chinook did. However I planted it upside down, so it grew down, turned around, and was growing back upwards. So I replanted it with the right side up, and I imagine I'll have some growth pretty soon!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Black is beautiful

LIFE!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The fever is spreading!

My great friend Nick, whom I've known for what could be forever caught the beer brewing fever! He and his buddy started their own blog on their progress, go on over and check it out at hobbyhomebrew.blogspot.com. The link is also with my beer links on the sidebar.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Monday morning update

Big update from the weekend...

The kegerator is up and running! Happily with no leaks. Once the porter was done fermenting, I took it our of the kegerator and brought the kegerator down to a cool 35F. The beer flows so smoothly from it, I can't wait to make the towers and put some faucets on it so I don't have to open it every time. I also learned when using the picnic faucets to squeeze down all the way so the beer doesn't spray out, ideally you should fill a pint in about 4 seconds. My beers taste a little flat however, so I turned up the pressure last night, and we'll see how it tastes in a day or two. I did notice one of the poppit valves on the gas side is leaking when I remove the disconnect. I'll have to fix that when the keg is kicked.

The San Francisco Steam beer has finished carbonating itself and I placed it in the kegerator. It has a pretty good flavor, it's quite sweet. Sweeter than i particularly like it, but it's quite good. When poured it has a really good head on it.

The porter is fantastic. It's very smooth, dark, and has a little smoked choclatey flavor to it. It's real nice. At first I thought it wasn't thick enough, but I remembered that it was a porter now, and not a stout.

Apparently the root beer tastes great and fresh. I wouldn't know, I can't stand the stuff, but Nikki likes it a lot.

So I believe that's it! Now it's time to finish some beers, as I now have no more containers to put new beer in. But next, I think I'm feeling a lager finally... if I can make room in the kegerator for the fermenting bucket with the other kegs in there.

Pictures are coming!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Greenthumb

Just got the hops today from freshops.com. They appear to be in great condition. I planted them right away! I'll post again with pictures when they break ground.

Hose clamps...

Keep your hose clamps tightened. And make sure to tighten them with a screwdriver in the end...

I walked into my man room yesterday, and smelled the sweet smell of success, the brewing beer. But then I realized, I wasn't brewing any beer in my man room, my brew was out in the kegerator (in the garage). I looked down to see my keg of Steam Ale, which was getting primed, surrounded by beer on the floor. The beer had leaked from the keg, down to the floor, and into the closet soaking up in a cardboard box holding all my spare computer parts.

I took everything to the garage, got a new box for my computer parts, and began testing the keg. I had connected the picnic spout to it because I had sanitized the line. At this point I disconnected it, cleaned everything up, and pressurized the keg to make sure there weren't any leaks.

No leaks. So I connected my liquid line back up and sure enough beer started spraying from the barbed connection of the disconnect. A few turns of the screw and the thing was in fine working condition. Tragedy averted.

But I must say that beer smelled goooood.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hops!!

I just ordered two hops rhizomes from freshops.com, one cascade, and one chinook. The planting requirement is lots of sunlight, and a minimum of 140 frost-free days a year... considering here in Florida we get maybe 1 or 2 frost days a year, I'll think we'll be ok.

First Kegged Beer

Yesterday I kegged my San Francisco Steam Ale. This will be the first beer I kegged. I decided to let it carbonate naturally, so it will be about a week before I can hook it up and drink it. Sure smelled good though. It appears darker, and more bitter smelling than the blond ale. This is also the first beer I let sit in the secondary fermenter, so we'll see how that worked out as well.

The porter is still fermenting away in the kegerator (at 65 F), and the recipe calls for it to be that way for 2 weeks. That makes it ready Sunday. I think I'll try to force carbonate that one, and just turn up the CO2 to 30psi, and shake it up a bunch (at least that's how I heard you do it).

I also bought all the parts this weekend to begin construction of my beer tower, and complete my gas manifold. When it's all said and done, I'll post pictures.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Announcement

I've been talking to friends a lot about my vision of opening a brewery someday, I've been calling it a dream. I've been saying dream as to not let myself down if it doesn't happen. I've been doing a lot of reading about all aspects of brewing, from business to basics. I'm reading a great autobiography right now about Sam Calagione, founder of the Dogfish Head Brewery, and about his motivation and goals when he started out his adventure. A friend also told me that even when Donald Trump was younger, he probably started out and said "Someday I'm going to own that building." Every famous person has a friend who tells the story "Yeah, one day he told me he was going to do (whatever), and I said he was crazy." Well here it is.

Someday, I will open up a brewery. And that brewery will be dedicated to making a wide variety of sensational beer. Beers that are easy to drink and refreshing. Beers that are full of body and flavors. Beers that will challenge your taste buds. Every beer will be the best beer you've ever tasted. Beers you will want to drink when toasting your friends. Drink while you're laying in a hammock out by the pool. Drink while you're sitting in your favorite recliner, with a good book, and man's best friend laying beside you. Drink with friends, drink with family.

I will open this brewery and achieve my dream.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Port O' Palmer is bubbling away

In celebration of a pair of friends return to Orlando last night Dave and I brewed our first Porter. Known as the "Port O' Palmer" from Palmer's "How to Brew" book, this beer also marks or disembarking from beer 'ingredient kits' to following recipes straight from a piece of paper. I collected my ingredients from Heart's home brew Saturday morning. This batch is also the debut for the wort chiller and the kegerator combined with the Johnson Control's temperature regulator. The wort chiller worked beautifully, and got our boiling water down to 90 degrees in about 5-10 minutes. The temperature controller also works perfectly. I set it to my fermenting temperature of 65 degrees, and when I measured it 4 hours later, it was exactly at that. So as I write this my first porter is bubbling away in my climate controlled kegerator. Pictures will be soon to follow.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New photos : regulator and CO2

And here is my new, freshly filled CO2 tank, with a Taprite regulator acquired off ebay. It's currently set to 10 psi... even though it's not connected to anything. My wife's root beer will be ready by the weekend, and I'm kegging my San Francisco Steam this weekend, but still I don't have anything to dispense as of yet.

New photos : functional kegerator

Finally pictures of the kegerator setup. Attached here is my new kegerator which is the Holiday Chest Freezer with an attached Johnson Controls temperature regulator. The temp is currently set to 65 degrees to brew my Port O' Palmer.

CO2 Gas Manifold

And finally here is a photo of my gas manifold that I created out of parts from the fittings section at Lowes. It is missing a 1/4" barb connection on the rightmost valve as you can see, and I'll acquire that in the near future. What's nice about it is I can fully customize it. All I have to do is add a 1" nipple, tee, valve, and another 1/4" barb, and I've got a 4 port manifold. And it can go on from there if need be. It can grow, as does my kegerator.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday update

Yesterday I purchased all the parts for my kegerator. Now all I need is to fill up my CO2 tank and I'm good to go. I created a manifold out of brass fittings so I can have shutoffs when my CO2 tank is connected for each keg. I will add pictures when I get the chance. Tonight I'll be brewing a porter which will probably be my first kegged beer. Dave also came by and attached the couplings to our wort chiller. It leaks a little bit but it should be ok to use tonight.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Copper Wort Chiller


Kegerator Konstruction Part 3

Meet the Holiday 6.8 cubic foot chest freezer. On clearance at Lowe's for 180 bucks. After this weekend it will become a full fledged kegerator with co2 and beer flowing through its veins. It's the perfect size. It fits 4x 5 gallon kegs, and (i believe) a 10 lbs CO2 tank. I'm picking up the rest of the equipment for the homebrew store this weekend. On that grocery list includes a co2 tank, tubing, hose clamps, ball lock taps, a temperature controller and more. I'm getting chills just thinking about it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Secondary Fermentation

I've returned from Miami, and my new batch of beer has finished fermenting. I tested my sample tube and the FG is reading at 1.008, so I will call the primary fermentation finished. I have now moved it into my BetterBottle special plastic carboy for secondary fermentation. Letting the beer sit on the sludge from primary fermentation will give it off flavors. Now it will sit in the carboy and the flavors will continue to develop. Maybe this will be the first beer I keg...

Kegerator Konstruction Part 2

So, I'm back from vacation in Miami, and I have a few updates. First off, the original freezer chest was a bust. Dave went to pick it up and it was leaking refrigerant everywhere. So we got the money back, and came out with nothing. However I was at Lowe's today, and I found a chest freezer with the same outside profile, with more room inside, for $190. In thinking about the repair cost to a refrigerant system, I'm deciding to go with that option. Spend a little extra, and get something I know will work for many years to come. Dave and I will be picking it up tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The first beer part two...

A note to the alcohol taste that I mentioned earlier. I just looked up the alcohol aftertaste in the troubleshooting section of my john palmer how to brew book, and it says you get an alcohol taste if you add refined sugars to the wort.... I don't know if i mentioned earlier but I added a whole bunch of refined sugar to the wort when I had forgotten to boil it... connection? probably.

The first beer!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kegerator Konstruction

Just went out to UCF to check out a chest freezer that a couple of college girls are selling for 100 bucks. The thing is perfect. It's smaller than others that i have seen, but will fit 3 corny kegs and probably my fermenter at the same time (for lagering beers). My good man Dave will be picking it up this weekend for me while I'm on vacation. Totally stoked to be able to keg some beer!

And the unveiling of the first batch of beer is tomorrow. Hopefully it will be good.

Cool Beers

The first ten beers are in the fridge!

American Brewing

This is the real way to brew beer. Sitting out in the back yard, with the wort at a rolling boil, hanging out with beers, and the 3 dogs. It doesn't get better than this. 


Monday, March 23, 2009

Batch #2 - San Fransisco Steam

Now that the first batch is bottled, the fermenter is open. Wasting no time I instantly purchased my second ingredient kit from homebrewers.com. The San Francisco Steam Ale. In my reading (John Palmer's "How to Brew," an excellent read) he talks about the aging of the beer flavors and secondary fermentation. Of course I was impatient, so I bottled my first batch as soon as possible (and I'm very excited to pop the first cap Wednesday). My plan for the second batch is to wait. Once it's good and done fermenting I will transfer it to my secondary fermenter, where I will let it sit for another 2 to 3 weeks (or longer if my bottles are still being used, not likely).

Better Boiling

I present to you the bayou burner. This guy made boiling wort a lot more fun. Previously, doing it on the stove was difficult. Not only was I worried about letting the thing boiling over and creating an impossible mess in my kitchen (and fearing the wrath of my wife), our stove was just barely hot enough to boil the wort without the lid on. However with the lid on, the wort would boil over. Enter, the bayou burner.

With the bayou burner I was able to set up on the back porch, and boil the wort with the lid off, sitting next to my pool. If it started to boil over, i just turned the valve down a hair. No problems. And if there is a boil over, I can just wash it off with the hose. About 50 bucks at Lowes, and well worth the investment.

Dead yeast? Nah.

Well, the second batch is now in the fermenter. And I thought I nearly killed the yeast. After twelve hours, there was no bubbling in the airlock. Damn. The first batch was bubbling like crazy at this point. The only difference was that the first time I didn't rehydrate the yeast, but this time I did. Hmmm...

So I looked back at my text. Somewhere I had read to rehydrate in warm (not hot) water. 110 degrees. Yeah, I couldn't find that text anywhere. In a bunch of different places it said 90 degree water. So I headed out to heartshomebrew, the local brew store, and told him my story. He said that I most likely killed the yeast, so I purchased another packet. I got home, and just before I re-hydrated the second packet, I decided to check the airlock again. Life! Was it bubbling as furiously as the second one? No, but bubbling none-the-less.

We still have life. Smells good too.

Burnt

I didn't know i could get so much black crap on the bottom of one pot. I also didn't know of anyway to get it off. I don't want this to sound like an advertisement but I got a can of easy off from Lowes, and it works pretty well. After my first wort I only had to apply it once to get the burn off the bottom of the pot. The second batch had a significantly worse burn on the bottom, and it took 4 applications to get it off. I'm still impressed though, it was a wicked burn.

And I thought I did an extra good job stirring the pot.

Catching up...

In catching up to this point, I have already fermented one beer. I purchase my brewing kit from homebrewers.com, and it came with a selection of ingredient kits. I chose the blonde ale kit figuring it was the one that was least likely to mess up. Of course, I did forget to add my sugar to the wort, and just tossed it into the fermenter after I realised I had forgotten it. The blonde ale has been bottled (a messy process), and is now carbonating in my closet.

The blonde ale will be ready to drink on Wednesday (3/25). We'll see how the first batch turns out! My expectations were pretty low in smelling the wort as it was boiling on the stove. I thought it smelled awful. But after tasting a little bit of the test sample, my expectations are much higher. For beer that was warm and flat, it wasnt half bad.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Beginning

My name is Eugene, and I just got a home brewing kit for my 25th birthday. With a lovely and patient wife, I've already had two different beers brewing and have ordered two books on the brewing process. With my wise friend Dave, who has the same passion for beer, we have taken upon ourselves the quest to brew the perfect pint. Maybe someday we will get good at it. Maybe someday we'll open our own brewery. If that someday comes, maybe I'll use this blog to write my own book about it. Who knows what will happen.

This is the beginning to a long journey of beer making.