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.