Monday, January 30, 2017

R2-DBREW Overhaul

Wow. Clicking the "new post" button is sure hitting me with some good ol' nostalgia. But I will fight the strong urge to write another typical "haven't posted in a while" page.

Here comes the honest truth. R2-DBREW has been a huge letdown.

R2-DBREW was a fantastic project. It was a lot of fun to build. Learned some things in the process. What to do (using circular switches vs. square), what not to do (#weldingnaked), and everything in between.

But ever since I flipped the first switch to start brewing, I have had difficulties. Mainly the fact that
my original gravities were never met. My sugar extraction from the grain was just not cutting it. My brewhouse efficiency had tanked SO BAD even fish at the bottom of the ocean look down and are like "damn, that's low." Now it's been years and years, but if my memory serves my right, prior to R2-DBREW I was getting ridiculously high efficiency. Upwards of high 80's low 90 percentages. Then R2-DBREW came into my life and I was having trouble getting above 60%.

I spent hours researching online. Talking to professionals. The local homebrew shop guy. But batch after batch, my efficiency just wasn't there.

Results? Shitty beer. How can alcoholic water be shitty? It certainly can. For you non-brewers out there. Imagine spending a whole day preparing the perfect pot of soup. But wait! You can't eat it for 3 or 4 weeks. And in that time, you have to baby it like a preemie with a cocaine addiction.

Then you finally spend hours kegging, carbonating, shaking (the keg, not the baby), only to take your first sip... and realize it sucks. Like really sucks. Like the only type of person that would drink this is a desperate, not yet of age college kid looking for a drink. I dumped out 6 or 7 kegs of beer like this. That's almost 30 weeks of wasted brew time. Not admittedly, I hung up my hat on R2-DBREW.

Then I met someone. An amazing someone. I will not digress here, but maybe on a future post. Someone with a high standard for beer. She asks "you brew beer?" I say, "you bet I do." And I proceed to brew a mediocre extract kit only for her to politely smile and say "not too bad."

Obnoxious? Not at all. For it's the truth. It was yet another shitty beer. I had just strutted my stuff to the now love of my life with a weak (at best) homebrew. I might as well have walked into Redlight-Redlight with a case of Coors Light and yelled "come get me ladies!"

Well god dammit it's time to make a difference. Last time I was working with R2-DBREW I noticed something. Despite a valve being closed, I was still getting back-flow through it. Turns out the solenoid valves I got are good at stopping water going one direction, but not coming back. I started thinking. All R2-DBREW has done is take a smorgasbord of home-made components and put them together on a handy all-in-one rack. Individually, all the components worked great. Now, together, they stink. What's the difference???

The plumbing.

So here we are today. I just put an order into Midwest Supplies for some tubing and valves and next weekend I am going to re-plumb R2-DBREW. No fancy switches. No fancy valves. Just good all plug and play like an old school telephone board operator. We'll see how it goes. To be continued...

And... it's good to be back.

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