Tag Archives: homebrew

Wooo A Kegerator is Born!

Over the next couple months we will be turning a full size fridge into a 4 tap kegerator.  Don’t worry we will keep you on top of the situation.  Thanks to CL for making the purchase a possibility and now reality.  Last night during the storm Mark and I moved the fridge into the house.  And of course it couldn’t be simple.

8:43pm We show up to view the fridge.

8:48pm Realize the fridge is perfect and start taking doors off hinges to get it out of the basement.

9pm  Fridge is loaded into the back of the truck.  First flash of lighting is spotted.  Also, low fuel light comes on in truck.

9:10pm  Stop to get gas.  Mark checks iphone for weather…….big red spot approaching downtown.

9:19pm  First sprinkles of rain appear when we are about 3mins from house.

9:23pm  Park truck and start to get fridge out of the bed.  It starts to pour!  Did I mention the lighting yet?

9:30pm  With the use of headlamps, plywood (that will evenly be used for a cornhole set) and a little muscle we get the 24″ wide fridge past the 24.1″ gap between the house and the neighboor’s cinder block retaining wall.

9:40pm  Using the plywood we push the fridge up over the basement threshold and into place in the basement.

9:41pm  Rain stops…………

So if you have experience with kegerator construction and maybe fridge painting drop us an email.

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Brew at the Zoo Wrap-Up

Despite the rain, Jake and I made the trip out to the Pittsburgh Zoo for last weekend’s Brew at the Zoo fundraiser for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.  Apparently a large part of the city of Pittsburgh also attended as lines were pretty long, but there was beer and exotic animals so we still had a good time.  There was a good mix of beer and several live music acts.  Interestingly, there was plenty of free food from chips/pretzels to mini pulled pork sandwiches to a chocolate fountain in the main atrium of the PPQ aquarium.

Several homebrew clubs were in attendance lending another dimension to the brewfest experience.  Sixth Circle Brewing offered a variety of homebrews including Piss Water (American Cream Ale), a well rounded Dunkel, and a nice stout (which they use to make ice cream too!).  Shubrew was also in attendance with several selections including a creamy stout with some hints of chocolate and coffee.  The final tent boasted several Belgian selections including a framboise, Piraat, and St. Bernadus. 

As we ran into a few great old friends we kept tabs on all the beer gossip .  The homebrew tents kicked quickly and lots of people missed out, bummer dude.  Same thing happened at the last tent.  Did anyone else get Dragon’s Milk?  I’m pretty sure we drank most of it.  Others really enjoyed the Framboise served from Beet Nutz.  A few had high praises for McSorley’s, Sierra Nevada Summerfest (Pilsner) and the range of fruity wheat beers.  In talking with a few co-workers I heard a terrible terrible terrible rumor.  Can anyone verify if Miller was present?  I understand their beer is triple hopped brewed, but seriously WTF?!?!  Can’t you also triple hop brew piss?  Riddle me that Miller!

Brew at the Zoo attracts a wider audience than the typical brewfest, and it is nice to see people getting out and trying new beer.  However, this can result in a bit more of a mob mentality, without much order in the lines.  Additionally, the sheer number of people (and the downpour) make it difficult to get many discussions going with brewers/pourers.  With this in mind, Brew at the Zoo is a fun night out complete with zoo animals, good beer selection, and live music.  Where else can you sip on a glass of mead and watch a polar bear take a swim?

Inclined to Brew : Kegging Your Homebrew (Part 1)

 Bottling is one of the most frustrating and time consuming parts of homebrewing.  It’s a lot of work to clean and sanitize 50 beer bottles.  Then you have to fill and cap each one.  For each batch, bottling represents at least half of your actual time as a homebrewer.  

All that Bottling IS Exhausting!

Since most homebrewing is done in 5 gallon batches, the 5 gallon soda kegs (Cornelius kegs) work out perfectly.  These are actually very simple to use as they come with quick connect fittings as shown at the top and bottom of the picture to the right.  The center opens up for filling and has a relief valve to allow the CO2 out in case the beer is over-carbonated.  

Cornelius Keg

Top of a Cornelius Keg

Refurbished Cornelius kegs go for between $30-$40 or used ones for about $10-15 less.  You can easily save a few bucks by doing the refurb by yourself.  For about $3, you can purchase the necessary gaskets to replace and purchase a new relief valve for another buck or two.  Start the refurb by removing the posts on the outside of the cornelius keg.  

Beer Out/CO2 In Posts

Then remove the dip rods: the long beer dip rod and the short CO2 in (red) dip rod.  Remove the two gaskets on the posts and any gaskets on the dip rods  and discard.  Don’t forget to remove the gasket on the lid and the relief valve too!  Soak the pieces in a sanitizer solution for at least 20 minutes.  It’s also a good idea to scrub out the beer dip rod to make sure there’s no soda residue hanging around.  I’ve found my snake brush which I bought for my camelbak works really well for this.  Fill the keg with a sanitizer solution that won’t cause corrosion (I use PBW).  Once everything has been sanitized put the new gaskets and relief valve on and your keg is ready.

   

Once you have the keg, you’ll need a CO2 system.  A 5 lb CO2 bottle should be more than sufficient.  A new bottle costs about $60-70  and about $15 to fill up.  A good pressure regulator will cost about $50 or $60.  I highly recommend the regulator with separate gauges on the bottle and the outlet which allows you to see both the bottle pressure and the keg pressure.  You can buy CO2 bottles and get refills at welding supply stores.  I use Jackson Welding Supply on the south side.   http://www.jacksonweldingsup.com/    Tubing and quick connect fittings will also be needed and can be found at any homebrew store.

Kegging Cherry Stout

Unlike bottling which relies on the continued fermentation to carbonate the beer, kegging relies on CO2 saturation under pressure.  For this reason, you may need to turn the pressure up higher at first then bring it down later.  I typically start out at about 15 psig for the first couple of days then turn it down to 10 psig for the long haul.  After the beer is sufficiently carbonated, I adjust the pressure to get the right volume flow on the tap.  I try to plan for about 30 – 40 seconds to fill a pint glass.  For those looking for a bit more exact way to predict carbonation, many tables exist that correlate temperature, pressure, and duration.
I’ll continue looking at issues around kegging your homebrew in Parts 2 and 3.   Part 2 – Kegerators.  Part 3 – Finding a Leak

*** Inclined to Brew posts give a broad introduction to many aspects of the homebrewing process.

Inclined To Brew : Slice of Heaven Cherry Stout

I just brewed up a batch of my favorite homebrew, the cherry stout.  Like most of my more recent brews, this is about half malt extract and half grains. It’s  nice to be able to grind my own grain at home but it can sometimes be difficult to get the right size of crushed grains. 

The Grain Grinder

Ground Grains

Roasting Some Grains at Home

 

The body of any stout is based on a lot of roasted barley.  This adds some roasted flavor to the beer as well as increasing the head retention.  This can be easily done at home on a baking sheet.  I typically set my oven to about 250F.  Keeping the temperature at 250F or slightly lower avoids burning but gives that beautiful roasted effect.  Typically about an hour at this temperature gives the grain that nice roasted character.  One of the nice side effects of roasting some grain at home is the amazing smell that fills your house.

Jake and I are in the process of transitioning from extract brewing to all grain brewing.  Over time we have added more actual grains to our recipes.  Instead of fashioning some mash and lauter tuns, it is easier to steep the grains in the brew kettle.  I typically try to keep the temperature between about 160 and 180 for steeping the grain.  The time to steep might range from about 45 to 90 minutes. 

Steeping Grains in the Brew Kettle

The main part of brewing especially an extract based beer is the boil which typically lasts about 70-90 mins.  I add the extract at the very beginning of the boil.  After this is mixed in and boiled down, I add the boiling hops which add the bulk of the bitterness to any beer.  For this batch, I used a small amount of Willamette Hop Pellets (5.1% Alpha Acid) since the stout should only be lightly bittered, if at all.  Since the boil extracts the hop oils, later additions have less time in the kettle and add more to the flavor and aroma of the beer than the actual bitterness.

Towards the End of the Boil

Once the wort is cooled, everything goes into the fermenter and is diluted with water to the final volume.  After pitching the yeast, fermentation typically starts in about 7-18 hours.  I prefer the blowoff tube into a bucket of water as the photo below shows.

Primary Fermentation Complete

 So what about the cherries?  Well, I use a lot of them and they account for about half the cost of this beer.  But when I add them is my secret!

*** Inclined to Brew posts give a broad introduction to many aspects of the homebrewing process.